Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? 2019-10-05T19:49:52.432Z · score: 27 (17 votes)
Storytelling and the evolution of human intelligence 2019-06-13T20:13:03.547Z · score: 16 (6 votes)


Comment by richard_kennaway on What's going on with "provability"? · 2019-10-13T19:50:46.680Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I know enough about this to not have these questions, but not enough to explain the answers to anyone else. So I'll recommend a book by Torkel Franzén, who was definitely able to both understand and teach this, "Gödel’s Theorem: An Incomplete Guide to Its Use and Abuse". The book costs money, but as a preview, here's a review of it.

Douglas Hofstadter has written a lot on the subject for a popular audience, but is better avoided until you understand the subject yourself well enough to recognise the unstated technical underpinnings of his exposition, and to see where he glosses over things a step too far. But when you are at that point, there is no need to read him.

Comment by richard_kennaway on MA Price Accuracy Law · 2019-10-13T16:33:41.101Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Does mispricing happen a lot? Are there shops suspected of doing this deliberately? To have a law like this suggests so, but I've never heard of it before.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-09T11:26:49.032Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not really. I can be hard at work on something, my focus on the activity, but my sense of myself never vanishes. I can remember being "lost in a book" as a child, but not since then, and I don't find it a particularly desirable state of mind.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-08T19:50:05.663Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
My claim is that this is the same type of confusion as the person above not clear about the difference between "warmth" and "red" because they've always experienced them together.

I still don't know what two things you are pointing to that you are claiming are being confused with each other. Imagine that English is my second language, and while I have a reasonable competence in it, I happen never to have encountered either of the words "self" and "consciousness". How would you express the distinction you are drawing?

I actually don't understand what's being said in this essay enough to figure out what claim she is making about consciousness.

She says many different things, some of which seem clear enough, but they seem inconsistent with each other. Again there is the problem of distinguishing the thing that is being talked about from the things that are being claimed about that thing.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-08T15:25:56.967Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm still unclear what distinction you are labelling with the words "self" and "consciousness", but try the works of Susan Blackmore. Although she says she is not denying the existence of consciousness, that's hard to square with this: "there are no contents of consciousness and no difference between conscious and unconscious processes or events."

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-08T07:33:57.585Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A problem in talking about these things is that there is no easy way to agree on what the words we are using refer to. This is why in the OP I tried to give an idea of what it is like to experience this thing I am trying to get at. When I wrote "This is the thing I am pointing at when I say that I am conscious", that was a statement about how I use the word "conscious", not an attribution of something else called "consciousness" to that state.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-07T18:41:17.684Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's definitely (what I would call) a sensation. Just as is seeing my physical body in a mirror.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-07T15:50:26.943Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW
I recall a conversation about consciousness that I came out of convinced I was a p-zombie, because the description of consciousness didn't describe anything going on in my head. I feel confused about what you're even referring to when you say "a vivid sensation of my own presence."

We have a winner! :)

In meditation there is a concept called "divided awareness". One is aware of something that one is concentrating on, e.g. the breath, a candle flame, or whatever, and at the same time aware of one's attention to that thing, dividing one's attention between the two. Does this make any sense to you?

In principle one can go on to be aware of one's awareness of one's attention to the object, and so on indefinitely, but when I try to hold multiple levels of awareness all at once, I only get up to the low single figures.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Hazard's Shortform Feed · 2019-10-07T14:04:36.733Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That problem should be addressed by better mastery over one's presentation, not by relinquishing mastery over one's emotions.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-07T13:45:26.436Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That is very interesting, although it raises the old philosophical condundrum of whether your red and green, when you have them, are the same as mine (who am not colour-blind), or how much are they alike, despite the fact that my red and green are never confused with each other. Perhaps the hardware that does the qualia is the same, and doing what it can with limited data.

I heard of a blind man saying that although he had never seen the color red, he imagined that it must be something like the sound of a trumpet. I think that's a pretty good metaphor for a vivid, pillar-box red. (Googling just now, I find the story is from Locke's "Essay Concerning Human Understanding", book 3, ch.4.)

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-07T13:32:20.654Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It would be interesting to know to what extent the brain has the hardware to have qualia that their senses for are missing. People who have been blind from birth, but then through some medical intervention can see do have "sight", but it's a rather more confused experience than for those who have always been sighted.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-07T13:19:06.145Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW
There's a Nazi who ...

This is Eichmann, notably written about by Hannah Arendt, who coined the phrase "the banality of evil" in response.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-07T13:16:55.763Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
What do you mean when any is particularised to the "there are a group of people and none stood out" that that is not a zombie nature?

I have had a few dreams in which I had a viewpoint, but I was not any of the characters in the dream. Think of it as like a daydream about events not involving oneself. Nevertheless, this I-ness was still present.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-07T13:13:38.124Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure how to distinguish these, since what different people mean by these words is likely to vary as much as the experiences they have in this area. All I can say is that the state I mean is the one I described in experiential terms, a vivid sense of my own presence.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-06T15:39:29.227Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I wouldn't say that any of those dream experiences have zombie nature. I have a similar range of dreams. All of my perceptions in dreams are rather muted compared with real life, although in the dream I am not aware of this, except for rare lucid ones. But always, there I am.

I never have an experience of myself not being there. I may not be turning my attention to it all the time, but like my left foot, there it is whenever I do.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-06T14:46:19.184Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW
If you take someone with no internal monologue, aphantasia, and SDAM, what's left?

A behaviorist psychologist. :) I have to wonder about the inner life of J. B. Watson.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Against "System 1" and "System 2" (subagent sequence) · 2019-10-03T17:27:23.874Z · score: 16 (4 votes) · LW · GW

McGilchrist himself has said that it doesn't matter if the neuroscience is all wrong, it makes a good metaphor. See this review, where McGilchrist's "The Master and His Emissary" is quoted:

“If it could eventually be shown…that the two major ways, not just of thinking, but of being in the world, are not related to the two cerebral hemispheres, I would be surprised, but not unhappy. Ultimately what I have tried to point to is that the apparently separate ‘functions’ in each hemisphere fit together intelligently to form in each case a single coherent entity; that there are, not just currents here and there in the history of ideas, but consistent ways of being that persist across the history of the Western world, that are fundamentally opposed, though complementary, in what they reveal to us; and that the hemispheres of the brain can be seen as, at the very least, a metaphor for these…

What [Goethe’s Faust, Schopenhauer, Bergson, Scheler and Kant] all point to is the fundamentally divided nature of mental experience. When one puts that together with the fact that the brain is divided into two relatively independent chunks which just happen broadly to mirror the very dichotomies that are being pointed to – alienation versus engagement, abstraction versus incarnation, the categorical versus the unique, the general versus the particular, the part versus the whole, and so on – it seems like a metaphor that might have some literal truth. But if it turns out to be ‘just’ a metaphor, I will be content. I have a high regard for metaphor. It is how we come to understand the world.”

In which case, why is he peddling it? He is asserting the neuroscience as true. It matters whether it is true, because without it, he's just another purveyor of intellectual artistic ramblings, like the ones he admires. And isn't that dichotomising, in his terms, a left-brain thing to do?

I think that pretty much cuts the ground from under his whole system. It reduces the neuroscience story to a noble lie.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Emotions are actions, not goals or messages · 2019-09-22T19:31:19.786Z · score: 11 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps I'm missing some context that you've expounded elsewhere, but what evidence do you have for any of this? I have also not seen the terms S1.5 and S2.5 before, and a search indicates that they do not occur anywhere else on LessWrong..

Comment by richard_kennaway on Is competition good? · 2019-09-10T14:56:35.794Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, this is an illustration of one of the ways that competition can be good. Better things get done and made, that might not have been without the spur.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Is competition good? · 2019-09-10T14:31:51.703Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

You have a restaurant. It pays you a reasonable income, and there is no real competition, so you have no reason to put any effort into improving it. A new restaurant opens down the street. Now you need to take your business more seriously. You improve the menus, the decor, the advertising. The other restaurant is doing that too. More custom comes to the neighbourhood, because now there are two good restaurants where there was only one indifferent one before.

There are a lot of stories one can make up.

Comment by richard_kennaway on The Transparent Society: A radical transformation that we should probably undergo · 2019-09-03T13:48:04.610Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Your irregularly scheduled reminder that FAI solves these problems just fine.

So does magic. One might adapt one of Arthur C. Clarke's laws: Every sufficiently speculative technology is indistinguishable from magic. Even more so than ACC's "sufficiently advanced technology": the latter is distinguished from magic by actually existing. But nobody knows how to make FAI.

Comment by richard_kennaway on The Missing Math of Map-Making · 2019-08-29T12:09:53.279Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW
How do we say that the map is “accurate”

"Similarity of structure", another phrase coined by Korzybski.

Comment by richard_kennaway on A Personal Rationality Wishlist · 2019-08-29T10:56:58.194Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

An understanding that evaporates on questioning is no understanding at all.

Comment by richard_kennaway on A Personal Rationality Wishlist · 2019-08-29T10:56:42.756Z · score: 13 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Re housemates, put a lock on your door.

It is said that good fences make good neighbours, and that the invention of the cash register did more for the honesty of shop assistants than any amount of moral sermons.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Machine Learning Analogy for Meditation (illustrated) · 2019-08-12T09:58:12.576Z · score: 11 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My inferential distance from yours is also high.

I view 'thoughts' as not having very much to do with action in general. They're just like... incidental post-hoc things.

I spend the whole of every working day thinking, and all this thought drives the things that I do at work. For example, the task currently (or before I took a break to read LW) in front of me is to make the API to a piece of functionality in the software I'm developing as simple as it can possibly be, while not making the implementation go through contortions to make it that simple. The actions this has given rise to so far have been to write a page of notes on possible APIs and a mockup of a procedure implementing one of them.

A lot of what I do when I'm not "at work" is the same sort of thing. What I have just written was produced by thinking. So thoughts as "incidental post-hoc things" does not describe anything that I call thoughts.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Is there a standard discussion of vegetarianism/veganism? · 2019-08-09T10:54:14.732Z · score: 8 (7 votes) · LW · GW

They are made of atoms I want to use for something else.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Open & Welcome Thread - August 2019 · 2019-08-04T09:42:32.261Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps also related: gratitude journalling, as a way of avoiding habituating to your general circumstances and seeing yourself within a larger perspective. Cf. the traditional advice to "count your blessings".

Both of these have positivity bias built in, though, so maybe just journalling would make for a more accurate awareness of the state and progress of one's soul.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Open & Welcome Thread - August 2019 · 2019-08-04T09:34:58.156Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Related XKCD.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Open & Welcome Thread - August 2019 · 2019-08-04T09:19:10.086Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW
Clearly, it makes no sense to say that someone is mistaken about how happy they feel.

Presumably it does make sense to anyone who has ever said that someone is "out of touch with their feelings". I can't see myself ever using that expression, but it is a thing that people say. It is a claim that the person spoken of is mistaken about what they are feeling.

Because (it seems to me) “happiness” already refers to a subjective phenomenon. “How happy you are” just means “how happy you feel”. There is no underlying objective phenomenon—or, to be more precise, the subjective phenomenon is the objective phenomenon. How happy people feel, is actually what we are trying to measure.

I disagree with this. That the word "happy" refers only to a subjective phenomenon, and there does not seem to be a word ready to hand for an objective counterpart, are just accidents of English lexicalisation. But there is such a word, borrowed from the ancients: "eudaimonia". Opinions differ on what constitutes the eudaimonic life, but given a view on that, one could measure it, and by means less superficial than asking "how happy do you feel?"

Indeed, other things that people measure go some way to doing this. Surveys of political freedom, oppression, prosperity, access to education, high culture, fulfilling work, poverty, etc. address various aspects of human flourishing.

In contrast, asking people "how happy do you feel?" seems frivolous. Why do we want to know this? Why do people want to measure it?

I have seen a good friend in tears one day and cheerful the next. How "happy" were they at either point? What could one do with the answer to such a question?

Comment by richard_kennaway on Tetraspace Grouping's Shortform · 2019-08-03T15:55:55.089Z · score: 15 (5 votes) · LW · GW
and they like them funding art galleries for the rich least of all.

What are these art galleries "for the rich"? Your link mentions the National Gallery, the Tate Gallery, the Smithsonian, the Louvre, the Guggenheim, the Sackler Museum at Harvard, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the American Museum of Natural History as recipients of Sackler money. All of them are open to everyone. The first three are free and the others charge in the region of $15-$25 (as do the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery for special exhibitions, but not the bulk of their displays). The hostility to Sackler money has nothing to do with "how dare they be billionaires", but is because of the (allegedly) unethical practices of the pharmaceutical company that the Sacklers own and owe their fortune to. No-one had any problem with their donations before.

Which is basically what you'd expect if people were well-calibrated and correctly criticising those who need to be taken down a peg.

I see nothing correct in the ethics of the crab bucket.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Open & Welcome Thread - August 2019 · 2019-08-03T08:15:29.225Z · score: 32 (14 votes) · LW · GW

If you take up weight training, two things will happen: you will get stronger, and you will feel stronger.

The second of these wears off. (Source: personal experience.) Eventually, you do not notice all the time, how easy it is to carry this rucksack! how easy it is to jog up the stairs! But, assuming you keep up the training, the strength does not wear off. You continue to be stronger than you were, you continue to lift heavy things more easily.

Strength can be objectively measured. Go to the gym and see how much weight you can lift in the various exercises. That is how strong you are. How would you measure the feeling of strength? Ask "how strong do you feel today?", on a Likert scale of 1 to 5?

For the person who takes up weight training, that might go from a 3 to a 5 in the first few weeks, then fade back to a 3 as they become accustomed to their strength and do not especially notice it whenever they address a physical task. Without the objective measure, one might think that there was a "strength set point" that no amount of exercise can shift, a "strength treadmill" that defeats any attempt to become stronger. But there is no such thing.

Is this phenomenon a sufficient explanation of the supposed hedonic treadmill? Is the supposed treadmill a delusion based on the use of a false measure?

There is no objective measure of happiness, as there is of strength, only a subjective report on a Likert scale. The World Database of Happiness lists 2692 measures of happiness. Virtually all of them (2551 by my count) are self-reports on Likert scales, and almost all of the exceptions are reports on Likert scales by people examining the people whose happiness is being assessed.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Does improved introspection cause rationalisation to become less noticeable? · 2019-07-30T12:25:36.321Z · score: 2 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Noticing is the fundamental skill and habit without which everything else is in vain. Noticing when you're going wrong is the only chance you have to put things right. Noticing when you're going right is the only chance to appreciate that you're going right.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Open Thread July 2019 · 2019-07-30T09:56:09.019Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't been there, but I was reading about Dynamic Land just yesterday (via Dominic Cummings' blog), and I've read some of Bret Victor's writings. I approve of the ideas tremendously, but it's not clear to me that in practice the work has provided any more of an advance in "visual programming" than other efforts in this area. Beyond the decades-old WIMP (ETA: and spreadsheets) interface, none of these, it seems to me, ever make more than toy demos. I have never seen them scale up to real power tools that someone would use to accomplish something. Ideas like these have been around long enough that toys and dreams will no longer do.

There are lathes that can make all of their own parts. Could Dynamic Land create Dynamic Land? What would such a system look like if it could?

Comment by richard_kennaway on Please give your links speaking names! · 2019-07-11T20:39:46.832Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The main thing I want to see when a link is given is enough information to decide whether I want to click on it, without clicking on it.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Open Thread July 2019 · 2019-07-08T13:20:41.969Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Recently out: "The Transhumanism Handbook" ed. Newton Lee (Springer, 2019). Costs money, of course, but you can see the table of contents, the abstracts, and the references for each paper for free. It contains:

5 chapters on yay, transhumanism!

10 on AI

12 on longevity

5 on biohacking

3 on cryptocurrency

5 on art

16 on society and ethics

10 on philosophy and religion

Comment by richard_kennaway on Black hole narratives · 2019-07-07T20:35:44.270Z · score: 13 (6 votes) · LW · GW
It's screaming at the cactus person, demanding an answer.

The cactus person is unable to assist the enquirer because it is stuck in its own car, a narrative that says that all you can do to help someone get out of the car is tell them to get out of the car. The cactus person insists that it must work, despite the observation that it doesn't work, and the more that it doesn't work, the more they insist that it must, the louder they scream "GET OUT OF THE CAR!", and the more they blame the other for not getting out of the car.

But there is, in fact, an answer that can be given. There is something that can be taught and learned, techniques of dismembering these narratives, finding their origins, verifying their truth or falsity (spoiler: they're usually made of lies), and responding to situations as they are, instead of being driven by internal stories about "I must—", "I have to—", "I shouldn't—", "I must be—" and so on. None of these techniques involve telling anyone to get out of the car. They acknowledge that there is a car, that they are in it, and teach how to notice the car and how to get out of it, without mystification or woo. My experience is that it works.

However, while I may have learned a little of this sort of thing, I am not going to attempt to teach it, because I am absolutely unqualified to do so, and anyway it's an experience to be had, not a book to read. I prefer to do no more than link to an old comment of mine where I mention the organisation whose courses I have taken. I hope that dropping its name twice in eight years will not be seen as proselytising. Possibly it is not the only one that does something along these lines, but it is one I have experience of and have found valuable, and I think there cannot be many others.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Self-consciousness wants to make everything about itself · 2019-07-04T18:29:38.770Z · score: 20 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The alternative is just this: there is work to be done — do it. When the work can be done better — do it better. When you can help others work better — help them to work better.

Forget about a hypothetical absolute pinnacle of good, and berating yourself and everyone else for any failure to reach it. It is like complaining, after the first step of a journey of 10,000 miles, that you aren't there yet.

I quoted Spurgeon as a striking example of pure, stark Calvinism. But to me his writings are lunatic ravings. In fairness, some of the quotes on the spurgeon quotes site are more humane. But Calvinism, secular or religious, is an obvious failure mode. DO NOT DO OBVIOUS FAILURE MODES.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Self-consciousness wants to make everything about itself · 2019-07-04T18:26:22.512Z · score: 17 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Considering this more widely, here's a diagram I came up with. (Thanks to Raemon for advice on embedding images.)

alt text

(Please let me know if you do not see an image above. There might be a setting on my web site that blocks embedding.) (ETA: minor changes to image.)

Comment by richard_kennaway on Self-consciousness wants to make everything about itself · 2019-07-04T15:46:13.278Z · score: 13 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I've heard of a similar superstition in Christendom, that if for a single day, no-one sinned, that would bring about the Second Coming. The difference between either of these and a total lack of hope is rounding error.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Self-consciousness wants to make everything about itself · 2019-07-04T08:02:49.232Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps evidential non-decision theorists. Fallen man is unable to choose between good and evil, for in his fallen state he will always and inevitably choose evil.

There is no greater mockery than to call a sinner a free man. Show me a convict toiling in the chain gang, and call him a free man if you will; point out to me the galley slave chained to the oar, and smarting under the taskmaster’s lash whenever he pauses to draw breath, and call him a free man if you will; but never call a sinner a free man, even in his will, so long as he is the slave of his own corruptions.

Man is totally depraved:

The fact is, that man is a reeking mass of corruption. His whole soul is by nature so debased and so depraved, that no description which can be given of him even by inspired tongues can fully tell how base and vile a thing he is.

Man is incapable of the slightest urge to do good, unless the Lord extend his divine grace; and then, such good as he may do is done not by him but by the Lord working in him. And then, such outer works may be seen as evidence of inward grace.

Quotes are from the 19th century Calvinist C.M. Spurgeon, here and here. He wrote thousands of sermons, and they're all like this.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Raemon's Scratchpad · 2019-07-03T13:30:18.873Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Does Eliezer post anywhere public these days? His postings to Facebook are infrequent, and I don't know of him posting anywhere else.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Self-consciousness wants to make everything about itself · 2019-07-03T08:14:41.868Z · score: 27 (12 votes) · LW · GW

The problem with Calvinism is that it does not allow for improvement. We are (Calvin and Calvinists say) utterly depraved, and powerless to do anything to raise ourselves up from the abyss of sin by so much as the thickness of a hair. We can never be less wrong. Only by the external bestowal of divine grace can we be saved, grace which we are utterly undeserving of and are powerless to earn by any effort of our own. And this divine grace is not bestowed on all, only upon some, the elect, predetermined from the very beginning of Creation.

Calvinism resembles abusive parenting more than any sort of ethical principle.

Eliezer has written of a similar concept in Judaism:

Each year on Yom Kippur, an Orthodox Jew recites a litany which begins Ashamnu, bagadnu, gazalnu, dibarnu dofi, and goes on through the entire Hebrew alphabet: We have acted shamefully, we have betrayed, we have stolen, we have slandered . . .
As you pronounce each word, you strike yourself over the heart in penitence. There’s no exemption whereby, if you manage to go without stealing all year long, you can skip the word gazalnu and strike yourself one less time. That would violate the community spirit of Yom Kippur, which is about confessing sins—not avoiding sins so that you have less to confess.
By the same token, the Ashamnu does not end, “But that was this year, and next year I will do better.”
The Ashamnu bears a remarkable resemblance to the notion that the way of rationality is to beat your fist against your heart and say, “We are all biased, we are all irrational, we are not fully informed, we are overconfident, we are poorly calibrated . . .”
Fine. Now tell me how you plan to become less biased, less irrational, more informed, lessoverconfident, better calibrated.

When all are damned from the very beginning, when "everything is problematic", then who in fact gets condemned, what gets problematised, and who are the elect, are determined by political struggle for the seat of judgement. At least in Calvinism, that seat was reserved to God, who does not exist (or as Calvinists would say, whose divine will is unknowable), leaving people to deal with each others' flaws on a level standing.

Comment by richard_kennaway on What does the word "collaborative" mean in the phrase "collaborative truthseeking"? · 2019-06-26T12:48:38.325Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW
What conditions must obtain for an interaction between people to constitute “coming together to work on a common goal”?

That people have a common goal, and that they come together to work on it. Ok, I'm being deliberately tautologous there, but these are ordinary English words that we all know the meanings of, put together in plain sentences. I am not seeing what is being asked by your question, or by Zack's. Examples of the phenomenon are everywhere (as are examples of its failure).

As for how to do real work as a group (an expression meaning the same as "coming together to work on a common goal"), and how much of it is going on at any particular place and time, these are non-trivial questions. They have received non-trivial quantities of answers. To consider just LW and the rationalsphere, see for example various criticisms of LessWrong as being no more than a place to idly hang out (a common purpose but a rather trifling one compared with some people's desires for the place); MIRI; CFAR, FHI; rationalist houses; meetups; and so on. In another sphere, the book "Moral Mazes" (recently discussed here) illustrates some failures of collaboration.

I do not see how the OP gives any entry into these questions, but I look forward to seeing other people's responses to it.

Comment by richard_kennaway on What does the word "collaborative" mean in the phrase "collaborative truthseeking"? · 2019-06-26T06:24:40.347Z · score: 8 (6 votes) · LW · GW

People coming together to work on a common goal can typically accomplish more than if they worked separately. This is such a familiar thing that I am unclear where your perplexity lies.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Upcoming stability of values · 2019-06-22T16:14:27.964Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Especially if human lifespan increases, there will be a strong case to keeping your values close, and not allowinga random walk until it hits an attractor.

In other words, be an attractor for your current values already. But at what age should one decide that here, at last, is where I am going to fix myself like a sea squirt on the landscape of values?

Comment by richard_kennaway on 28 social psychology studies from *Experiments With People* (Frey & Gregg, 2017) · 2019-06-20T20:18:35.063Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The first edition of this book was published in 2003. In 2005, Ioannidis' paper "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False" started the reproducibility avalanche. How well have these experiments replicated? My university library only has the first edition. I can see from the Amazon preview of the second edition (2017) that the authors address this, but I can't see enough pages to see what their response is. I understand from other sources that priming and ego-depletion have not stood up well.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Is there a guide to 'Problems that are too fast to Google'? · 2019-06-20T08:11:53.007Z · score: -4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The Google results are mainly about big emergencies and disasters, and institutional responses to them.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Reneging prosocially by Duncan Sabien · 2019-06-19T13:13:51.448Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That is covered in the article. Alice should take on that cost to reduce the cost to John, demonstrating that she takes seriously the commitment she has broken rather than just scrapping it the moment it did not suit her.

IMO people should pay each other money for various acts that provide value much more often than the do.

Within a social circle, non-denominated performance of favours is the usual method, the magnitudes involved decreasing with distance, although never quite to zero. That way of doing things is the social fabric.

I do not ask money for giving a stranger in the street directions to where he wants to go.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Is there a guide to 'Problems that are too fast to Google'? · 2019-06-18T11:19:39.435Z · score: 21 (10 votes) · LW · GW

There is a word for important problems that must be solved at once, with no time to learn how: emergencies. Learning how in advance is called emergency preparedness. Someone has mentioned first aid. On similar lines there is knowing how to handle a breakdown in the middle of nowhere, being able to fight, situational awareness, knowing how to interact with unfriendly policemen, and so on, all the way up to knowing where your towel is when Yellowstone explodes.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Book review: The Sleepwalkers by Arthur Koestler · 2019-06-17T16:32:58.520Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The Greeks didn't have Newton's laws, or calculus except for the method of exhaustion for calculating certain areas.