Comment by athmwiji on Does Your Morality Care What You Think? · 2008-07-26T03:42:03.000Z · LW · GW

Anchovies have to die to make anchovy pizza, so depending on who you talk to it might still be immoral to eat anchovy pizza even if you want to.

There is not always a clear cut case that is best for every one, and part of morality is weighing the wants and needs of one being verses another in such cases.

morality is another one of those things that is true in the sense of consensus, which is a different meaning of truth from mathematical truth, or physical truth.

In the prisoners dilemma it is always advantageous to speak when the other player's action is fixed. If you get to be both players and decide what both players do then it is adventurous to make both players not speak. Morality amounts to getting to be both players.

In some other cases there may be multiple reasonable options to choose when you control all players involved, possibly depending on how you weigh the wants and needs of the players, and as such multiple reasonable conflicting moralities.

Anchovy pizza is a good example. You have to weigh a delicious meal for a human against killing fish.

Obert: "In some ways the human species itself strikes me as being a sort of toddler in the 'No!' stage." I am interested to know why.

Comment by athmwiji on When (Not) To Use Probabilities · 2008-07-25T04:02:07.000Z · LW · GW

Numbers are not needed for anchoring. We could arrange the probabilities of the truth of statements into partially ordered sets. This po set can even include statements about the probabilistic relation between statements.

Well, we should be careful to avoid the barbers paradox though... things like x = {x is more likely then y} are a bad idea

I think it would be better to avoid just making up numbers until we absolutely have to, we actually find our selves playing a lottery for the continued existence of Earth, or there is some numerical process grounded in statistics that provides the numbers, resting on some assumptions. However, by anchoring probabilities in post sets we might get bounds on things for which we can not compute probabilities.

Comment by athmwiji on Whither Moral Progress? · 2008-07-17T07:00:14.000Z · LW · GW

i also consider morality to be about cooperation... in this sense moral progress predates humanity specifically i consider the evolution of multicellular life to be an example of moral progress

Comment by athmwiji on Fundamental Doubts · 2008-07-15T00:53:07.000Z · LW · GW

The problem with taking physics as fundamental and working up from there is that it forces us to make a lot of assumptions about the nature of the hardware that underlies reality, which are not supported by observation.

I say this because in order to make an observation we have to describe the observation in terms of the hardware in the form that we assume it has. We can claim to observe the sun rising in the east or the number of atoms in a box, but these are actually judgment about our observations and these judgments are formulated in terms of the hardware

Such assumptions have repeatedly turned out to be a bad idea.

It also forces us to ignore the observations, our experiences, that lead to these judgments because they can not be formulated in terms of the hardware.

We can try to avoid this by saying our experiences take place at a higher level, but this still leaves the problem that there isn't any way to formulate experience in terms of the type of hardware assumed, so we have no idea what to look for at the higher level. One could then say that anything that can not be formulated in terms of the type of hardware assumed does not exist. But, this forces us to ignore our observations and hold on to assumptions that contradict evidence that is continually beating us over the head.

We can avoid this by not making any assumptions about hardware, and instead using the structure of subjective experience as our foundation.

Eventually we should know enough to be able to open our brains and have experiences that are far more different from anything anyone has experienced then the difference between green and bliss, and by then we may have a clear enough idea of whats going on to identify qualia bearing structures, and even communicate qualia directly, but until then i don't think we can say much about hardware other then there seems to be something out there even when we aren't looking and it is correlated with our experiences.

With regard to the matrix, I had guessed that Morphious just didn't know about thermodynamics or why the machines kept people alive, and that the matrix was second life gone wrong... or right... depending on how you look at it.

Or perhaps that the ai were instantiated in a literal collective unconscious of human brains

Comment by athmwiji on Many Worlds, One Best Guess · 2008-05-11T16:17:59.000Z · LW · GW

Brains, as far as we currently understand them, are not digital. For a neuron fire / not fire is digital, but there is a lot of information involved in determining weather or not a neuron fires. A leaky integrator is a reasonable rough approximation to a neuron and is continuous.

Comment by athmwiji on Which Basis Is More Fundamental? · 2008-04-24T14:04:09.000Z · LW · GW

I think an important thing to consider with this change of basis is that fourier modes are the eigenvectors of translation. As such any linear operation which commutes with translation will also have fourier modes as eigenvectors. As long as the laws of physics are expressed in such a way that they do not work differently in different places, they will treat fourier modes independently.

Comment by athmwiji on The So-Called Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle · 2008-04-24T02:01:42.000Z · LW · GW

"To suppose that physics contains a basic account of "observation" is like supposing that physics contains a basic account of being Republican. It projects a complex, intricate, high-order biological cognition onto fundamental physics. It sounds like a simple theory to humans, but it's not simple."

This seems to be arguing in favor of epiphenominalism, but you just spent pages and pages arguing against it. what gives?

I don't think it is reasonable to expect to find anything about phenomena in quantum physics, but that does not mean it is not hiding somewhere at a lower level. QM gives us the tools to mimic the computations performed at a very low level of physics, but it says nothing about how those computations are actually preformed in the territory, and i suspect phenomena is hiding there.

The fact that i can actually talk about the redness of red and my own thoughts is evidence of this.

I really like these explanations of QM

Comment by athmwiji on Zombie Responses · 2008-04-05T20:34:59.000Z · LW · GW

Since our judgments about the universe come from subjective experience. The mystery we should be considering is not how consciousness arises from an arrangement of atoms and weather or not it effects those atoms, but rather why our experiences are consistent.

We may conclude from the consistency of our experiences that there is some sort of substance which is maintaining that consistency, and that this substance some how operates independently of our experiences, and that what specific experiences we have depends on this substance.

This sounds like epiphenomenalism, which for reasons Eliezer has described seems absurd, but I could still consider a conceivable possibility. As far as it is possible that there is no inherent correlation between the color of black body radiation and temperature, and our observations thus far have just been coincidental.

Having rejected this notion, and still observing that conservation of matter-energy seems to hold even when no one is looking. We seem to be forced to accept that there is some substance to the Universe, and that our experiences are actually part of this substance.

I wouldn't say that we are seeing the territory exactly, but I would say that seeing is part of the territory.

This seems to present another paradox in that our experiences are so consistent that we seem to be able to predict them with mathematical models, which to do not contain any term for experiences.

... Unless we accept that the brain is a quantum computer, and the collapse of its wave functions are being manipulated by another kind of substance, but this seems doubtful.

I think the place then to look is in computations that have no explicit form. That is some sort of iterated recursive function where you can't compute the state at step n from the state at step 1 with out computing all the intermediate values.

This would translate to something like, if you know the physical state of my body and my environment now, you can not predict what i will be doing three days later with out calculating what i would do for the entire three days. This would seem to suggest that i actually have to experience what happens during those three days to determine what i will do, and your only option is to have a copy of me go through those same experiences.

This becomes more difficult if we further accept that time is continuum. In this case the universe has to preform uncountably many computational steps in a manner that is not well ordered with out skipping any. A great feat indeed, but this is the Universe.

Comment by athmwiji on Heat vs. Motion · 2008-04-01T14:59:44.000Z · LW · GW

I would rather say that the observable consequences of the heat like nature of the universe are already included in the observable consequences of the kinematic like nature of the universe, so heat is redundent in this sence, though still a useful idea.

Relying on the potential existence of an Idealized Omniscient Science Interpreter feels a bit too much like divine revelation for my taste. The difference is rather then saying "Aha! This is what has actually been happening all along." I would say "Aha! This more accurately fits my observations."

Comment by athmwiji on Angry Atoms · 2008-03-31T21:52:14.000Z · LW · GW

"The order of inference exists in your map, not in the territory."

I agree completely. I would however say that "atoms" and "lightning" as concepts must categorically be part of a map, not part of the territory. There is something atom like about the territory in so far as the consequence of atoms in our maps is consistent with our experiences which come from the territory, but the similarity ends there. I would not be willing to conclude from this that the territory actually implements atoms in the same way that they are implemented in our maps, and i think to do so would be a mind projection fallacy. As such i doubt that atoms as we understand them are actually part of the territory.

Comment by athmwiji on Angry Atoms · 2008-03-31T21:00:16.000Z · LW · GW
  • Ben Jones. I am not arguing against reductionism. I am arguing in favor of reductionism. My point is that fundamental particles are not the deepest level we can reduce to.

  • Latanius. I did not mean that my experience is in some way special, but rather that if you start with a model that does not involve observers, i do not think you will be able to derive the existence of an observer, even if you can predict their behavior with some accuracy. You might, for example, predict that an ai will act in a manner that we would recognize as angry, but you will have no way to approach the question of weather or not the ai is actually experiencing anger, nor any way to even really understand what it means to act in an angry manner. Further more, the idea that the universe amounts to billiard balls bouncing around with out any observers is a bias that physics started with and has been trying to rid itself of. It has already partially done this by incorporating observers into physical models, by for instance noting that the mass of an object depends on the inertial frame of reference of the observer, but I think physics has farther to go to this end, and I think the way to go about this is to define basic elements of physical models directly in terms of the subjective experience of observers, rather then skipping that step and jumping right to fundamental partials, which is an abstract concept that comes from our intuition.

Comment by athmwiji on Angry Atoms · 2008-03-31T16:06:50.000Z · LW · GW

I think the zombie world is a valid thing to consider, but the only way you could say something about the zombie world is to consider what you would see if you were there, and then it would not be a zombie world anymore. Perhaps a more useful zombieish world to consider is one in which there are only zombies except for one epiphenomenal ghost: you.

Comment by athmwiji on Angry Atoms · 2008-03-31T15:33:12.000Z · LW · GW

"So you're denying that the 'subjective' is a subset of the 'objective', categorically?" I am not exactly sure what you mean here.

My understanding of 'subjective' and 'objective' is as follows. I see an image and simultaneously hear a sound. Immediately i recognize that three experiences are occurring: seeing, hearing, and the integration of the two into a third experience, which is aware of the other two. I also have experiences of recognizing other experiences as being more or less similar to eachother.

I would define subjective entities as sets of experiences that are connected through the relationship of one experience being aware of another. And, i would define objective entities as sets of experiences that have a consistent structure of similarity.

Generally an experience is in both a subjective set, and an objective set. I would express this by saying Subject experiences Object.

Our experiences are consistent, and physics presents useful models for predicting the objective aspects of that consistency, but it ignores that objective entities come from our experiences, and i think a model which did not ignore this could give us better explanations of how the material consistency of experience connects experience to computational processes.

I would not deny that such an ai has the subjective experience of anger, and i would definitely accept that it is possible to make something that does. But, this does not mean that i understand how it has subjective experiences, and i would not describe those subjective experiences as arising from quarks, which are more an artifact of the computational processes of the universe then experience is.

Comment by athmwiji on Angry Atoms · 2008-03-31T04:17:49.000Z · LW · GW

You could create an ai that has behavior similar to anger, and displays intention, but having subjective experience is another matter. Explaining subjective experience in terms of quarks is rather like trying to explain quantum mechanics in terms of aerodynamics. You will never get there. Not because subjective experience defies the laws of nature in some mysterious way, but because you would simply be going in the wrong direction. And, the other direction is not getting smaller, but rather a lower level of abstraction.

We have an intuitive sense of how the physical universe works that we have evolved, and this intuition is pretty accurate at the scale we live. Physics has progressed by building from models based on this intuition, and paring aspects down that are simply unnecessary, through Occam's razor, or just wrong, through experimentation.

The problem with this is that starting with the model our evolved intuition has given us skips a layer of abstraction. We have clearly seen how this intuition has failed us at much larger and smaller scales. In both cases we have found that measurements depend on the observer.

The reality that we live in is composed of experience. The yard stick of physics is how accurate a model predicts our experiences. This is where we should start. At least we should incorporate how we get the abstract notions of space-time and matter-energy from experiences, rather then skipping over that abstraction, and seeing matter-energy as something concrete leaving our experiences mysterious.

Comment by athmwiji on Is Humanism A Religion-Substitute? · 2008-03-26T05:53:47.000Z · LW · GW

In peaceful moments when my mind is clear i become aware of my own experience and the passage of time independent of what my specific experience is at that moment.

I consider this to be a religious experience.

Also, it seems to be the only thing about me that is consistent over time. Certainly I do not now think the same way I did when I was 10 years old, nor do i look the same, or want the same things. My memory connects me more to that 10 year old then other people, but even my memories are suspect.

Through my empathy i can recognize that the experiences of other people are similar in this regard, and so i feel the distinction between myself and others is arbitrary. In this way i can transcend personal identity, and death.

No gods. No afterlife. No reincarnation. No fairy tales.

Scientific models help us by giving accurate predictions, but they are not the only models worth considering. Other models present an ontology that gives meaning to our experiences. People who consider money to be valuable accept the ontological authority of the market place in much the same way that catholics accept the ontological authority of priests over which crackers are the flesh of god.

Comment by athmwiji on Explaining vs. Explaining Away · 2008-03-17T17:07:19.000Z · LW · GW

I don't think it is reasonable to say the laws of physics are part of the territory. The territory, or at least the closest we can get to it, is our direct experience. Any physical model is a map of the territory that we have created from our experience, some may be more accurate then others, but all are still maps. Scientists didn't get rid of the haunts and gnomes any more then relativity got rid of Newtonian physics. It just described them more accurately. There is a real difference, though, between these models beyond accuracy, and that is weather or not the haunts have experience. Surely I feel the wind as it blows over my skin, but does the wind feel me passing through itself? Scientific descriptions of the wind make it seems like it does not act with intention, which seems to suggest that it does not have experience, but our understanding of experience is still limited.