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Comment by lake on BHTV: Jaron Lanier and Yudkowsky · 2008-11-04T09:11:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

@ frelkins:

Eliezer's brand of humanism seems to consist in endorsing many of the values of traditional humanism while ditching the metaphysics. Jaron seemed to think the metaphysical stuff - specifically, psychological dualism of some sort - is indispensible. I'm not sure who should have proprietory rights over the word, but that argument is surely more about brand ownership rather than anything deep. And surely there's little enough to recommend dualism in itself.

Jaron's epistemic caution also struck me as being slightly odd. It's one thing to beware delusion, accept the likelihood of substantial error and press on as best you can, revising beliefs where necessary. But Jaron seemed to be moving into more sceptical territory, saying in effect that if it seems P, that isn't grounds for believing P - because of "epistemology".

Can you unpack the stuff about consciousness, free-will and indeterminism a bit? Consciousness is the bit that's usually taken as evidence for dualism. Why talk about the other things? Free will is a busted flush anyway, isn't it? Never mind the intricacies of the physics; we automatically accept responsibility for bodily movements which have been artificially induced. I'm sure Jaron knows a great deal more about all this than I do but, from an interested outsider's perspective, it isn't at all clear how these notions are meant to hang together.

Comment by lake on BHTV: Jaron Lanier and Yudkowsky · 2008-11-03T18:30:40.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Lanier struck me as a sort of latterday Rorty: broadly a pragmatist; suspicious about the rigidity of linguistic meaning; unwilling to try to refute big visions but rather inclined to imply that he finds them silly and that perhaps any decently civilized person should do too.

The trouble with this outlook is, if your sense of what's silly is itself miscalibrated, there's not much anyone can do to help you. Moreover if meaning really is too slippery and amorphous to make debating big visions worthwhile, presumably the bright thing to do would be to avoid those debates altogether. As opposed to turning up and chuckling through them.

I wonder what Robin made of the discussion, perceived silliness being one of his hot buttons and all.

Comment by lake on Building Something Smarter · 2008-11-03T13:04:16.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

For what it's worth, I still find the mock-mysticism stuff fairly entertaining. Hard to think of another running joke that would stay good over the same duration.

Lest we forget: http://lesswrong.com/static/imported/2008/03/27/elimonk2darker.jpg

Comment by lake on Ends Don't Justify Means (Among Humans) · 2008-10-15T09:44:18.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

@ Caroline: the effect on overall human fitness is neither here nor there, surely. The revolutionary power cycle would be adaptive because of its effect on the reproductive success of those who play the game versus those who don't. That is, the adaptation would only have to benefit specific lineages, not the whole species. Or have I missed your point?

Comment by lake on Points of Departure · 2008-09-10T11:23:58.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer: presumably there's an amount of money sufficient to induce (for example) you to bash out a three-act movie script about AI. So if demand is predicted to cover your fee plus the rest of the movie budget, Hollywood has the ability.

Comment by lake on Is Fairness Arbitrary? · 2008-08-14T16:28:32.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

No, I suppose you're right, insofar as there's no fixed initial quantity to be divided. But both involve an equal apportioning of something: money to workers in the one case, and money to man-hours in the other. The parable doesn't undermine the notion that equality is essential to all concepts of fairness, even where different versions license different outcomes.

Comment by lake on Is Fairness Arbitrary? · 2008-08-14T16:09:06.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The workers in the vineyard presumably expected that a different sort of equality was in effect - for instance, equal freedom to work at an equal rate.

When I say "equal division of something", the something isn't necessarily the pie itself.

Comment by lake on Is Fairness Arbitrary? · 2008-08-14T15:41:17.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

While it seems intuitively pretty clear that fairness involves an equal division of something - be it pie, meta-pie or whatever - there seems to be an embarrassment of plausible candidates for the quantity to be divided. Which is fairer: an equal distribution of goods, of opportunities or of utility? If I read him right, Eliezer would recommend deciding this question by first doling out an equal distribution of votes. But that just palms the dilemma off onto the voters.

Comment by lake on When (Not) To Use Probabilities · 2008-07-23T11:34:32.000Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Hardly the most profound addendum, I know, but dummy numbers can be useful for illustrative purposes - for instance, to show how steeply probabilities decline as claims are conjoined.

Comment by lake on My Kind of Reflection · 2008-07-10T10:14:26.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps I'm being dim, but a prior is a probability distribution, isn't it? Whereas Occam's Razor and induction aren't: they're rules for how to estimate prior probability. Or have I lost you somewhere?

Comment by lake on My Kind of Reflection · 2008-07-10T09:26:44.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Re. your last remark, wouldn't a distinction between premise-circularity and rule-circularity do the trick?

Comment by lake on Is Morality Given? · 2008-07-07T12:16:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I gestured at one possible answer to that question. A situation has a moral dimension if it engages moral emotions - which can presumably be listed.

Comment by lake on Is Morality Given? · 2008-07-07T09:42:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

@ Ian C. Couldn't Subhan claim that as a restatement of his own position? His notion of wanting clearly encompasses more than mere whims. Perhaps he would say that a certain subset of desires, objectively grounded in the constitution of the mind, count as moral impulses.

Actually, is Subhan meant to be male? Apologies if not.

Comment by lake on Is Morality Preference? · 2008-07-05T08:59:58.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hear hear to Dynamically Linked's last paragraph.

Comment by lake on Moral Complexities · 2008-07-04T16:04:18.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There's at least one other intuition about the nature of morality to distinguish from the as-preference and as-given ideas. It's the view that there are only moral emotions - guilt, anger and so on - plus the situations that cause those emotions in different people. That's it. Morality on this view might profitably be compared with something like humour. Certain things cause amusement in certain people, and it's an objective fact that they do. At the same time, if two people fail to find the same thing funny, there wouldn't normally be any question of one of them failing to perceive some public feature of the world. And like the moral emotions, amusement is sui generis - it isn't reducible to preference, though it may often coincide with it. The idea of being either a realist or a reductionist about humour seems, I think, absurd. Why shouldn't the same go for morality?

Comment by lake on The Bedrock of Fairness · 2008-07-03T20:28:59.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I suppose that's just to second Paul Gowder's point that the political problem is insurmountable. But I imagine few things would resolve a political problem faster then the backing of an all-powerful supermind.

@Paul: You seem to suggest that we all take the same things to be reasons, perhaps even the same reasons. Is this warranted?

Comment by lake on The Bedrock of Fairness · 2008-07-03T20:23:06.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer: Are you looking for a new definition of "fairness" which would reconcile the partisans of existing definitions? Or are you just pointing out that this is a sort of damned-if-you-do, damned if-you-don't problem, and that any rule for establishing fairness will piss somebody or other off? If the latter, from the point of view of your larger project, why not just insert a dummy answer for this question - pick any definition that grabs you - and see how it fits with the rest of what you need to work out. Or work through several different obviously computable answers.

As fair as it goes, it seems plausible-ish that fairness has to do with equality of something - resources, or opportunity, or utility, or whatever - but I doubt whether there's any general agreement over what should be equalised, and I don't see the value of descending to a meta level of discussion to sort the question out. Meta-discussions would have to be answerable to fairness anyway, if they were to be fair, and that looks circular. So why not cut the knot and pick whatever answer is nearest to hand?

Comment by lake on Decoherence is Simple · 2008-05-07T15:19:00.000Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hang on. @ Caledonian and Psy-Kosh: Surely mathematical language is just language that refers to mathematical objects - numbers and suchlike. Precise, unambiguous language doesn't count as mathematics unless it meets this condition.

Comment by lake on Quantum Explanations · 2008-04-09T11:07:34.000Z · score: 21 (26 votes) · LW · GW

You could call it "Overcoming Fun".

Eliezer's polemical tone is one of the great strengths of his pedagogical approach, IMO.

Comment by lake on Savanna Poets · 2008-03-21T13:21:46.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What, you mean you start finding it everywhere? If only.

Comment by lake on Savanna Poets · 2008-03-20T15:21:44.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"... if not something that presses your primate buttons."

Still waiting.

Comment by lake on Savanna Poets · 2008-03-20T12:21:03.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Also, what notion of value do you have in mind, if not something that pushes your primate buttons? And if you're so down on the pleasures of narrative, why read sci-fi at all? Why not just, you know, read sci?

Comment by lake on Savanna Poets · 2008-03-19T16:50:31.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not to mention a bitchin' soap opera.

Comment by lake on Savanna Poets · 2008-03-19T14:40:03.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

@ Caledonian: eh? But why would the ability to suspend one's social-operations module at will make it boring to look at stories while using that module? And in what sense is one seeing them "directly" when one stops treating them as simulated social interactions?

Perhaps "learning" is the wrong word. But "recognition" seems too restrictive to capture everything that makes a good story good. There's also surprise - when an author uses the reader's capacity for recognition against them. Surely you admit that this is pretty much the life-blood of storytelling. And, for that matter, it strikes me that it probably can teach you something - about your own inferential dispositions, if nothing else.

Comment by lake on Savanna Poets · 2008-03-19T11:09:51.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Presumably the advantage of making Jupiter into a person rather than a ball of gas is not simply that we get an extra person to think about, but that it also allows us to explain various natural phenomena in a peculiarly satisfying way - as the traces of intelligible actions. Not that these explanations would have much to recommend them if you seriously wanted to understand the pheonomena. But literary writers are not, for the most part, in that business; "poetic truth" is an alienans predication, like "Tennessee whiskey".

"Savannah poets" is a superb coinage, btw. Is it yours?

Comment by lake on The Halo Effect · 2007-11-30T10:26:03.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer - wasn't Jeff's comment intended to suggest, not that there isn't a bias, but that the bias may be adaptive? Offhand I can't imagine quite what edge it might supply, but perhaps some story could be told.

Comment by lake on Thou Art Godshatter · 2007-11-14T13:12:50.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

@ Unknown: Well, one reason why our point of view is more valid than their's is that we exist and they don't.

In addition, it is probably worth stressing that inclusive fitness is not, strictly speaking, the goal of anything at all. Goals only make sense relative to intentions, values and so forth - the usual accoutrements of mentality. These are all things that we humans (and perhaps some other creatures) possess, but which evolution, and our genes, do not. No minds, you see. Despite appearances.

This said, there might be something to be said for engineering or breeding descendants whose drives are more harmonious than our own. For instance, they might be happier. Still, there's no particular reason why we should choose to make inclusive fitness the goal of all their striving, as opposed to something else.

Comment by lake on Thou Art Godshatter · 2007-11-14T11:05:14.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That missing word: "of".

Comment by lake on Thou Art Godshatter · 2007-11-14T11:02:02.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

@ Tiiba # 1: Without wishing to second-guess Eliezer, I'd suggest that his prolonged examination of the buggy, ad-hoc character of human intelligence may be intended to preface a discussion AI, its goals and methods. After all, the contrast with human intelliegence could be illuminating.