Comment by binary_doge on Deminatalist Total Utilitarianism · 2020-04-18T13:02:17.236Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

" So it IS okay to kill someone and replace them with an absolutely identical copy, as long as the deceased feels no pain and nobody notices? "

In total uti it is ok. This is counter-intuitive, so this model fixes it, and its no longer ok. Again, that's the reason the penalty is there.

The absolute identical copy trick might be ok, and might not be ok, but this is besides the point. If a completely identical copy is defined as being the same person, then you didn't replace anybody and the entire question is moot. If its not, then you killed someone, which is bad, and it ought to be reflected in the model (which it is, as of now).

Comment by binary_doge on Deminatalist Total Utilitarianism · 2020-04-17T19:19:11.761Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It doesn't change your actual happiness, just the future one. If you are literally shot with a sniper rifle while walking in the street with no warning, there is no time in which you are saddened by your death. You just are, and then aren't. What is lost is all the happiness that you would have otherwise experienced. Assume the guy is shot in the head, so there's no bleeding out part.

I'm not sure where the -1000 number comes from. There is no point in which the shot down person feels 1000 less happiness than before. Saying "the act itself is worth -1000" is adding a rule to the model. A hard coded rule that killing someone is -1000. First of all, such a rule doesn't exist in the total uti, and this model fixes it. Second of all, not all killings are equally bad, so you have to come up with a model for that now. Instead, in this model, when someone is killed the total moral utility of the population is reduced by an amount equal to, at least, minimal "life worth living happiness" for every year the killed man had left. That is pretty intuitive and solves things without hard coded rules.

Plus, nobody said "an absolutely identical copy", the problem in total uti is that it follows it is ok to murder someone and replace him with someone of EQUAL HAPPINESS, not equal everything. The same heuristic won't work (because it deals with identity issues like "how do we define who is captain kirk"). In this model, this problem doesn't occur anymore.

Comment by binary_doge on Deminatalist Total Utilitarianism · 2020-04-17T19:11:55.224Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The "replace" in the original problem is ending one human and creating (in whatever way) another one. I don't think you understand the scenario.

In total uti (in the human world), it is okay to:

kill someone, provided that by doing so you bring into the world another human with the same happiness. For the sake of argument, lets assume happiness potential is genetically encoded. So if you kill someone, you can always say "that's ok guys, my wife just got pregnant with a fetus bearing the same genetic code as the guy I just murdered". In a model where all you do is sum up the happiness of every individual in the population, this is ok. In Vannesa's model it isn't, and what makes sure it isn't is the penalty.

" I'm extremely saddened to know this. And it makes me feel mean to stick to my theme of "already included in h, no need for another term". The fear of death, expectation of pain, and impact on others are _all_ differences in h which should not be double-counted."

It might be double counted, that's not what I was talking about when I said the model captures this intuition. The existence of h0 does that, it might be that other parts of the model do that as well (I don't think so though). Also, I'm always up for an intelligent discussion and you were not being mean :)

" Also, I very much hope that in a few years or decades, you'll look back and realize you were mistaken in wishing you hadn't been born, and are glad you persevered, and are overall glad you experienced life."

My prior for this is low, since I've been feeling this way for my entire adult life, but one can always hope. Plus, I've actually met and talked to many like minded individuals so I wouldn't discount this intuition as "not worth capturing since its just some small anomaly".

Comment by binary_doge on Deminatalist Total Utilitarianism · 2020-04-17T10:43:40.407Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The penalty doesn't reset when you create a new human. You are left with the negative value that the killed human left behind, and the new one starts off with a fresh amount of -u0[new person] to compensate for. If the original human would have been left alive, he would have compensated for his own, original -u0[original person], and the entire system would have produced a higher value.

Comment by binary_doge on Deminatalist Total Utilitarianism · 2020-04-17T10:33:51.200Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If you don't think killing is in itself bad then you are not on par with the intuition of almost everybody. Legit.

I personally would rather to have never been born but don't want to commit suicide. There are numerous reasons. Hurting the people who care about me (and wouldn't have if I was not born in the first place), fearing pain or the act of suicide itself, fearing death (both are emotional axioms that a lot of people have, there's no point in debating them rationally) and many other.

Comment by binary_doge on Deminatalist Total Utilitarianism · 2020-04-17T10:30:33.255Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Being killed doesn't change your expected happiness, knowing you will be killed does. That's different. If you want to separate variables properly think about someone being gunned down randomly with no earlier indication. Being killed just means ending you prematurely, and denying you the happiness you would have had were you alive. A good model will reflect why that's bad even if you replace the killed person with someone that would compensate for future loss in happiness.

Pragmatically speaking, killing people causes unhappiness because it hurts the people who lost them, but that is reflected in the happiness values of those individuals, and a good model will reflect that killing someone is bad even if know one knows about it.

Comment by binary_doge on Deminatalist Total Utilitarianism · 2020-04-17T00:42:59.840Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The birth penalty fixes a lot of unintuitive products of the classic total uti. For example, if you treat every "new" person as catching up to the penalty (which can only be achieved if you at least live with minimal acceptable happiness for your entire life, aka h0), then killing a person and replacing him with someone of equal happiness is bad. Cause the penalty that was not yet caught up with in the killed person remains as a negative quantity in the total utility, a debt, if you will. In total uti, this doesn't apply and it logically follows that there's nothing wrong with killing a person and replacing him with a new person of equal happiness, which is unintuitive.

"I'm also very unsure about the assertion that "happy to exist" and "prefer not to die now" is an important difference [...]" - this is important because there are people that feel they are not happy with existence, and would rather to not have been born at all, but don't want to die now that they do in fact exist. If you don't have this difference you can't capture that intuition. I'm not sure how the N unhappy years argument is relevant to this or how it renders the difference moot. In particular:

" "prefer to continue to live from this point" is equal to "happy to come into existence at this point" "

is in fact false, for a significant amount of people.

Comment by binary_doge on Thoughts on tackling blindspots · 2018-10-01T17:44:11.320Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This might be trivial, but in the most basic sense noticing where one has blind spots can be done by first noticing where one's behavior differs from how he predicted he would behave, or what the people around him behave. If you thought some task was going to be easy and its not, or that you would get mixed results in predicting something and you don't (even if you think you might be more accurate than average, what's important here is the difference) you might be neglecting something important.

Its kind of similar to the way some expert AI systems try to notice blind spots: they "view" either demonstrations of proper behavior or just recordings of plenty of other agents (probably humans) performing the relevant tasks, and if there's some difference from what they would do, it raises the probability of a blind spot in the model.

Once you find something like that, if you seem to rouse a strong emotional response in yourself when you ask yourself "why am I doing this differently?" that's a non-negligible red flag for a blind spot, IMO.

Comment by binary_doge on Realism about rationality · 2018-10-01T16:01:11.323Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"This is because planetary physics can be formalized relatively easily" - they can now, and could when they were, but not before. One can argue that we thought many "complex" and very "human" abilities could not be algroithmically emulated in the past, and recent advances in AI (with neural nets and all that) have proven otherwise. If a program can do/predict something, there is a set of mechanical rules that explain it. The set might not be as elegant as Newton's laws of motion, but it is still a set of equations nonetheless. The idea behind Villam's comment (I think) is that in the future someone might say, the same way you just did, that "We can formalize how happy people generally are in a given society because that's relatively easy, but what about something truly complex like what an individual might imagine if we read him a specific story?".

In other words, I don't see the essential differentiation between biology and sociology questions and physics questions, that you try to point to. In the post itself you also talk about moral preference, and I tend to agree with you that some people just have very individually strongly valued axioms that might contradict themselves or others, but it doesn't in itself mean that questions about rationality differ from questions about, say, molecular biology, in the sense that they can be hypothetically answered to a satisfactory level of accuracy.

Comment by binary_doge on The "semiosis reply" to the Chinese Room Argument · 2018-08-28T19:50:54.999Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Then that's an unnecessary assumption about Aboriginals. Take a native Madagascan instead (arbitrary choice of ethnicity) and he might not.

As far as I know it is not true, and certainly not based on any concrete evidence, that humans must see intentional patterns in everything. Not every culture thought cloud patterns were a language for example. In such a culture, the one beholding the sky doesn't necessarily think it displays the actions of an intentful agent recording a message. The same can be true for Chinese scribbles.

If what you're saying was true, it would be a very surprising fact that there are a whole bunch of human cultures in history that never invented writing.

At any rate, if there exists a not-an-anomaly-example of a human that given sufficient time could not learn Chinese in a Chinese Room, the entire argument as a solution to the problem doesn't hold (lets call this "the normal man argument").

If it were enough that there exists a human that *could* learn Chinese in the room, then you could have just given some example of really intuitive learners throughout history or some such.

It is enough for the original Chinese room to show a complete system that emulates understanding

Chinese, but no part of it (specifically the human part) understands Chinese, and therefore you can't prove a machine is "actually thinking" and all that jazz because it might be constructed like the aforementioned system (this is the basis for the normal man argument).

Of course, there are answers to this conundrum, but the one you posit doesn't contradict the original point.

Comment by binary_doge on The "semiosis reply" to the Chinese Room Argument · 2018-08-28T14:10:06.468Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But the fact that it is purposeful writing, for example by a spirit, is an added assumption... SCA doesn't have to think that, she could think its randomly generated scribbles made by nature. Like how she doesn't think the rings on the inside of a tree are a form of telling a story. They are just meaningless signs. And if she does not think the signs have meaning, your statements don't follow (having scribbles doesn't mean that some other agent necessarily made them, and since the scribbles don't point to anything in reality there is no way to understand that P and p are of some same type of item). Thus, there exists a human to be put in a Chinese Room that can make the room replicate the understanding of Chinese without knowing Chinese herself.

Comment by binary_doge on The "semiosis reply" to the Chinese Room Argument · 2018-08-28T02:00:10.436Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I need some clarification on what seems to be a hidden assumption here... Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be assuming that SCA knows that the symbols she is getting are representations of something in the universe (i.e. that they are language).

Let's assume that SCA thinks she is copying the patterns that naturally dripping sap creates on the sands on the floor of a cave.

It follows that all of these statements are not inferred:

"Moreover, it is logical that when something is read, somebody wrote it."

"[...] she observes that an action of reading not corresponding to a previous action of writing indicates that there must be an agent in the world to which an “I” is opposed."

"This does not hinder SCA from learning that “P” and “p” belong to the same paradigm."

and so on.

Comment by binary_doge on Are ethical asymmetries from property rights? · 2018-08-28T01:27:13.363Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Something in this view feels a bit circular to me, correct me if I'm way off mark.

Question: why assume that moral intuitions are derived from pre-existing intuitions for property rights, and not the other way around?

Reply: because property rights work ("property rights at least appear to be a system for people with diverse goals to coordinate use of scarce resources"), and if they are based on some completely unrelated set of intuitions (morality) then that would be a huge coincidence.

Re-reply: yeah, but it can also be argued that morality 'at least appears to be a system for people with diverse goals to coordinate use of scarce resources', those resources being life and welfare. More "moral" societies seem to face less chaos and destruction, after all. It works too. It could be that these came first, and property rights followed. It even makes more evolutionary/historical sense.

So in other words, we may be able to reduce the entire comparison to just saying that moral intuitions are based on a set of rules of thumb that helped societies survive (much like property rights helped societies prosper), which is basically what every evolutionarist would say when asked what's the deal with moralilty.

And this issue is totally explored already, the general answers ranging from consequentialism - our intuitions, whatever their source, are just suggestions that need to be optimized on the basis of the outcomes of each action - and trolley-problem-morals - we ought to explore the bounds and specifics of our moral intuitions and build our ethics on top of that.

Comment by binary_doge on Preliminary thoughts on moral weight · 2018-08-28T01:06:47.078Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This was an awesome read. Can you perhaps explain the listed intuition to care more about things like clock speeds than higher cognitive functions?

The way I see it, higher cognitive functions allow long term memories and their resurfacing, and cognitive interpretation of direct suffering, like physical pain. A hummingbird might have a X3 human clock, but it might be way less emotionally scarred than a human when projected to maximum pain for, lets say, 8 objective seconds ("emotionally scarred" is a not well defined way of saying that more suffering will arise later due to the pain caused in the hypothetical event). That is why, IMO, most people do assign relevance to more complicated cognitions.

Comment by binary_doge on Unrolling social metacognition: Three levels of meta are not enough. · 2018-08-28T00:41:56.376Z · score: 15 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the read (honestly, noticed some very interesting points IMO) but I kind of fail to understand what exactly is your claim about the method you introduced.

Are you saying that it is a good model representation of social interaction? If so I would partially agree. Its cool that the model captures all the mental steps all the participants are making (if you bother to completely unroll everything), but it's not computationally superior to saying that: things like calling someone "a downer" are general beliefs that rely on a varying empirical basis, and should be checked for their verity.

In other words - instead of saying that "Bailey is a downer" means "Alex felt it was bad that Alex felt that Bailey felt that Alex doing X was bad, for multiple values of X" you can say that it means "Alex believes he observed Bailey to act as 'a downer' a sufficient amount of times" and unroll that (ask Alex why does he think Bailey's a downer, what does being a downer mean or what does he base her being one on) only if necessary. Most people would understand this explanation more intuitively, in my experience. Some might even find it trivial, cause, for example, if you call someone irresponsible more than once, most of the times you are aware that you think he has acted "irresponsibly" a sufficient amount of times, even if you don't phrase it that exact way. And this explanation is not inferior to yours in the theoretical sense, it doesn't supply less data, and it does seem a little more cost effective, explanation-wise.

Are you saying that it is a good method for practical conflict resolution? It very well may be, but your experience only teaches us that after engaging in a cooperative activity with Alex for a while, he understood that he felt judged and was more inclined to believe you weren't judging him. Psychologically, engaging in a safe activity with someone, even your captor in a hypothetical hostage situation, will diffuse tension and humanize conflicting parties in each other's eyes. It could be that you could have played a short card game with Alex and he would have been more cooperative afterwards all the same.

Even if we claim that analyzing the problem is emotionally helpful in itself, the analysis doesn't have to be all that rigorous, coherent and complete. Many conflict resolution therapy methods focus on giving all parties in a conflict the opportunity to feel heard, which makes it easier to reach emotional catharsis, and therefore agreement. But feeling heard is only a equal to or lesser amount of understanding than being completely, logically understood. Therapy methods such as these may (or may not) be more effective in achieving results, or may be just less effort-demanding.

In order to establish that this method is particularly effective, we either have to get some experimental data showing it gets better outcomes in some criteria, or explain what it has going for it that other methods unequivocally don't.

Anyway, I enjoyed reading this and would be glad if you posted some of your refined conclusions in the future :)

Comment by binary_doge on Formal vs. Effective Pre-Commitment · 2018-08-27T23:58:41.216Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

True Path has already covered it (or most of it) extensively, but both the Newcomb's Problem and the distinction made in the post (if it were to be applied in a game theory setting) contain too many inherent contradiction and do not seem to actually point out anything concrete.

You can't talk about decision-making agents if they are basically not making any decisions (classical determinism, or effective precommitment in this case, enforces that). Also, you can't have a 100% accurate predictor and have freedom of choice on the other hand, because that implies (in the very least) that the subset of phenomena in the universe that govern your decision is deterministic.

[Plus, even if you have a 99.9999... (... meaning some large N times 9, not infinity) percent accurate predictor, if the Newcomb's problem assumes perfect rationality, there's really no paradox.

I think what this post exemplifies (and perhaps that was the intent from the get-go and I just completely missed it) is precisely that Newcomb's is ambiguous about the type of precommitment taken (which follows from it being ambiguous about how Omega works) and therefore is sort of self contradictory, and not truly a paradox.]