TAG's Shortform 2020-08-13T09:30:22.058Z


Comment by TAG on Neo-Mohism · 2021-06-18T22:42:00.862Z · LW · GW

That's just a way of assuming they agree on epistemology. In real life there is no firm agreement on what an experiment is, or how to draw a conclusion from one.

Comment by TAG on Assume long serving politicians are rationally maximizing their careers · 2021-06-18T20:54:07.371Z · LW · GW

Its more complicated than that. They must not look like they are merely adapting to change,like the vicar of Bray, because people don't like vicars of Bray...there's no point in voting for representatives who ditch their principles on day one.

So on the meta level,they have to strike a dynamic balance between seeming steadfast , and leaking the fact that they are adapting.

Comment by TAG on Can someone help me understand the arrow of time? · 2021-06-18T20:15:10.132Z · LW · GW

Actionable value is merely instrumental. Terminal value is the valuable value.

Comment by TAG on Can someone help me understand the arrow of time? · 2021-06-18T19:09:09.961Z · LW · GW

: It is internally consistent and adequately describes the perceptions of conscious individuals at any given moment at time

Timeless single world theories fail to explain where the subjective flow of time comes from. Timeless many world theories are in an even worse position.

If there is no passing-time, then any physical state adequate to support consciousness will be conscious, wherever it is in the timeless ensemble .. there would be no question of being conscious "now" or "at a time" because, by (your) hypothesis, there is no time!

So a timeless single world theory would predict that you are simultaneously conscious for every moment ofy your life, that you have static 4D consciousness. And Timeless many world theory would , even less realistically, imply that you consciously experience yourself as some 5D branching structure!

there is no logical argument or evidence I am aware of which strongly contradicts this theory


Its primary weakness is (as I mentioned) that it seems to do a poor job explaining why humans experience time as a series of moments

The thing you have called the primary weakness is the evidence against it!!

Perhaps you are assuming that mere qualia or subjective impressions do not count as evidence, properly speaking...

Agreed, but I think you will find that in practice most advocates of collapse theory are dualists.

Most lay advocates, outside the physics community, are, sure.

then strong physicalism is false

Then we are arguing about the price..about *how false. If there is a non physical thingy that causes subjectivity , maybe there is one that causes passingness.

Comment by TAG on Covid 6/17: One Last Scare · 2021-06-18T16:20:24.603Z · LW · GW

The various non-agenty AIs won’t be enough to make aligning the agenty ones substantially easier”

Fortunately, it doesn' have to, so long as the agenty ones aren't the most powe rful.

corrigibility… I mean it might work, but the claim is that we shouldn’t expect it to work on the first try.

Fortunately , it doesn't have to. You just need to get it working in AIs that aren't superintelligent.

Comment by TAG on A Reason to Expect Republics to Perform Better than Absolute Monarchies in the Long-Term · 2021-06-18T11:58:26.734Z · LW · GW
  1. Their subjects are taught to worship them.

  2. They don't do anything,so they don't do anything wrong.

Comment by TAG on Covid 6/17: One Last Scare · 2021-06-18T11:54:20.592Z · LW · GW

For what it’s worth, I am in the second camp, and think the probability of doom is currently high, partly for the reason explained in this thread: N

Unstated assumptions: ASI will be achieved by a sudden jump, not incremental improvement. Corrigibility won't work. ASI will agentive.

Comment by TAG on Can someone help me understand the arrow of time? · 2021-06-17T18:57:50.327Z · LW · GW

If one has a ontology strong enough to handle paradoxes one can have time flowlyness from non-copenhagen sources by having meta-time and meta-time evolution even if the (“historical”) time would “stay still”.

J.W.Dunne famously bit that bullet.

But if your side is allowed to embrace paradox, so is everyone else' that there an no lomger any wrong theories of time.

Comment by TAG on Variables Don't Represent The Physical World (And That's OK) · 2021-06-17T17:27:16.046Z · LW · GW


Comment by TAG on Variables Don't Represent The Physical World (And That's OK) · 2021-06-17T17:01:36.074Z · LW · GW

What you are talking about is prediction.

Determinism also needs to be distinguished from predictability. A universe that unfolds deterministically is a universe that can be predicted by an omniscient being which can both capture a snapshot of all the causally relevant events, and have a perfect knowledge of the laws of physics.

The existence of such a predictor, known as a Laplace's demon is not a prerequisite for the actual existence of determinism, it is just a way of explaining the concept. It is not contradictory ro assert that the universe is deterministic but unpredictable.

Comment by TAG on Neo-Mohism · 2021-06-17T16:50:06.146Z · LW · GW

I don't see why they should. Merely holding beliefs to be revisable, doesn't tell you how to revise them....and they are going to be revised by other meta-level beliefs (ie. epistemology), which will vary (and also reviseable!)

So if Alice and Bob start off with a shared object level belief and feel the need to revise it, they are only going to concur if they are revising it the same way.

Aumanns theorem is more or less wrong, at least extremely impractical, for similar reasons.

Comment by TAG on Variables Don't Represent The Physical World (And That's OK) · 2021-06-17T10:48:45.618Z · LW · GW

Determinism usually refers to a world state being determined by a previous one, not the ability to make prefect maps of the world.

Comment by TAG on Can someone help me understand the arrow of time? · 2021-06-17T10:38:36.736Z · LW · GW

The things that come in one at a time, instead of all coexisting simultaneously.

Comment by TAG on Can someone help me understand the arrow of time? · 2021-06-16T20:21:46.306Z · LW · GW

The default outcome of “I dunno,a complete mystery” is better at an explanation task

What???? Are you saying that Time is a complicated subject that no one understands?

We also don’t want a teleological “because” but a “base nature implies” because.

What? In general , it's reasonable that some things are fundamental, and its reasonable that they can explain other, non fundamental things. The particular problem with time is that we don't have a free choice of fundamental stuff: physics is what it is , and it doesn't have a fundamental arrow of time, and it only has flow/passingness under the contentious Copenhagen Interpretation.

Edit: Or is it about the "teleological" ? Who is being teleological?

Logic like “Why there would be an appearance of a god, if not because god exists?” and “Why there would be appearance of red surfaces, if not for colors existing in the world?” are misleading

Those two examples are, but they do not generalise to a rule that nothing has a straightforward explanation. Round things look round because they are round, for instance.

Comment by TAG on Can someone help me understand the arrow of time? · 2021-06-16T18:06:37.146Z · LW · GW

The question is more: why would there be flowing psychological time, if not because of flowing physical time?

Comment by TAG on Can someone help me understand the arrow of time? · 2021-06-16T17:08:51.517Z · LW · GW

What is time an abstraction of?

Comment by TAG on Can someone help me understand the arrow of time? · 2021-06-16T16:13:35.713Z · LW · GW

The hard problem of consciousness asks: why do humans perceive time as a series of moments (or more fundamentally, why do humans perceive anything at all)

Solving the hard problem might be necessary for explaining why people have a quale of passing-time, but is not sufficient -- you dont have to have that particular quale.

Unfortunately, the competing theories (e.g. “time is created when conscious beings cause quantum waveform collapse”) are all pretty bad,

Around here at Less Wrong, the theories you are most likely to come across is “time is an illusion”

There are no good theories of time as an illusion, either. Not least because you have to solve the hard problem as part of them.

some non-physical “consciousness substance”. These theories are collectively called dualism

No, collapse theories don't have to be dualistic.

Because perception is inherently subjective, this question is beyond the scope of scientific inquiry. This accounts for the hardness of the hard problem of consciousness.

If anything is inherently subjective , or beyond the scope of science, then strong physicalism is false.

Comment by TAG on Can someone help me understand the arrow of time? · 2021-06-16T11:51:30.148Z · LW · GW

So the computer infrastructure choices effectively screen off times fluidity (builds discrete time out of smooth time).

I haven't been using "flow" to mean smoothness.

Comment by TAG on Can someone help me understand the arrow of time? · 2021-06-16T10:45:46.353Z · LW · GW

There are at least two questions here.

Comment by TAG on Can someone help me understand the arrow of time? · 2021-06-16T10:40:11.284Z · LW · GW

The analogue of “time passing” is stair 15 spiraling to stair 16.

Yet again , that is direction , not flow. Direction means the stairs have an order...but flow means you can only be "on" one a time, which is an additional property.

Comment by TAG on Can someone help me understand the arrow of time? · 2021-06-16T10:39:04.026Z · LW · GW

Anyhow, try what without the moving cursor

Getting (so much as an illusion of) flow out of stasis.

Comment by TAG on Can someone help me understand the arrow of time? · 2021-06-16T10:17:41.965Z · LW · GW

time is NOT JUST psychological, it’s an actual part of the universe, and the future is different from the past in at least the fact that it has higher entropy.

Again direction(arrow) isn't flow(passingness).

Comment by TAG on Can someone help me understand the arrow of time? · 2021-06-16T10:17:33.273Z · LW · GW

time is NOT JUST psychological, it’s an actual part of the universe, and the future is different from the past in at least the fact that it has higher entropy.

Again direction(arrow) isn't flow(passingness).

Comment by TAG on Can someone help me understand the arrow of time? · 2021-06-16T10:15:37.852Z · LW · GW

If the underlying physics doesn’t have an arrow of time then one could suspect that maybe there is a brain design which would not have a psychological arrow of time

And if the underlying physics does have an arrow of time then there is little need to explain the psychological arrow of time separately.

With flowing I refer to the distinction on what effect time has on the system vs the system depicting time. And to that one can directly feel only a very limited span of time. As one lives one very soon one enters a mental state one was not in before. You have one mental state in one moment and in the next moment you will have a new one

Similarly, if is a given that physical the flows, then psychological time will flow. But it isn't a given that physical time flows, it needs explaining.

Comment by TAG on Can someone help me understand the arrow of time? · 2021-06-16T01:06:05.051Z · LW · GW

A brain might try to recall the past but it won’t try to recall the future

The difference between won't and can't is pretty critical here.

Imagine the flowing process to be to destroy the leftmost panel and generate a new right pane

What flowing process ?

Comment by TAG on Can someone help me understand the arrow of time? · 2021-06-16T00:34:49.872Z · LW · GW

So you start off with a static structure, the spiral stair, you inject a dynamic "cursor", the person who is going up, and then you get some kind of dynamic spiralling.

Now try that without the moving cursor.

Reality isn’t weird. We’re weird

Can we be weirder than the reality we are embedded in?

Comment by TAG on Can someone help me understand the arrow of time? · 2021-06-16T00:16:45.915Z · LW · GW

If I understand correctly the psychological arrow of time tries to explain why we perceive time as passing by. It answers that in truth time does not pass—we exist at a single point in the timeline, but have the illusion of time passing by because we remember the past and not the future

The arrow of time and the (at least apparent) passingness of time, are two different things. The natural numbers have an arrow, since they are well ordered, but that doesn't mean they have passingness.

We exist at a single point in the timeline,

So none of us is so much as nanosecond old?

Its often stated that physics is some sense. But the senses could include lack of passingness, or lack of an arrow, or lack of a fundamental arrow, and so on.

Secondly isn’t memory itself a process that takes place over time? So how can the illusion occur if time isn’t passing in which it can occur?

If you are saying that passingness can't arise from stasis,I'm inclined to agree, although it's only intuition.

But we can explain how an arrow arises from fundamental symmetry, eg. the entropic explanation.

And the psychological arrow might be an uninteresting special case of the entropic arrow...or not.

Comment by TAG on Covid vaccine safety: how correct are these allegations? · 2021-06-14T22:12:45.072Z · LW · GW

Throughout the world?

Comment by TAG on Problems facing a correspondence theory of knowledge · 2021-06-11T12:53:38.998Z · LW · GW

So rocks have non zero knowledge?

Comment by TAG on Choosing Beggars's Shortform · 2021-06-08T19:30:49.924Z · LW · GW

It’s certainly possible that quality could be improved in various ways, but that’s an argument for increase certain quality standards and not lowering them.

Who said anything about lowering quality standards? I'm explicitly calling for increasing them, and for increasing accessibility standards as well.

Merely being obscure indicates nothing about quality.

Every new scientific paradigm has their own vocabulary

Yes. If you have genuinely new ideas, you are entitled to coin new vocabulary. But much lesswrongian vocabulary can be mapped onto mainstream vocabulary. Its an unnecessary barrier.

Comment by TAG on Choosing Beggars's Shortform · 2021-06-08T18:06:48.334Z · LW · GW

Well...a lot of the jargon is completely unnecessary, posters generally don't make much effort to to contextualise things,the Sequences could be much shorter, since they are mostly wrong...or not-even-wrong..and so on.

Comment by TAG on [Book Review] Blueprint for Revolution · 2021-06-08T15:25:18.360Z · LW · GW

To concur with this article, the french Resistance started with kids and teenagers graffitying and parading during the national holiday in cities remote from centers of power.

The Zazous.

Comment by TAG on The Nature of Counterfactuals · 2021-06-07T12:46:20.178Z · LW · GW

That is, we’re going around in circles. Suppose an agent that believes we should consider set W of worlds as possible and construct a decision theory based on this. Then this agent will evaluate agents who adopt W in order to develop their decision theory as making an optimal decision and they will evaluate agents who adopt a different set of worlds that leads to a different decision theory as making a sub-optimal decision,

Why? If agent B is has a different state of knowledge to A, B's set of (apparently) possible worlds will be different, but that doesn't mean it's worse. If B has more knowledge than A, it's ideas of possibility will be correspondingly better. In common sense terms, I should accept what an expert tells me about what is and isn't possible. An agent should not regard itself as having the best decision theory because it should not regard itself as omniscient.

You might think that the circularity is a problem, but circular epistemology turns out to be viable (see Eliezer’s Where Recursive Justification Hits Bottom).

No, the usual objections remain. If I say "you owe me a £1000 because you owe me £1000", you would not accept that as validly justified.

It's not clear whether Eliezer’s Where Recursive Justification Hits Bottom is supposed to be a defense of circular justification, and it's not clear how it works if it is. One could reconstruct the argument as "we have knowledge, and it's not foundationally justified, so it's circularly justified", but that depends on our having validly justified knowledge, and on circular justification being the only alternative to foundational justification. And on circular justification actually being feasible.

Comment by TAG on The Nature of Counterfactuals · 2021-06-06T11:22:59.436Z · LW · GW

No, prediction and counterfactuals share a common mechanism that is neutral between them.

Decision theory is about choosing possible courses of action according to their utility, which implies choosing them for, among other things, their probability. A future action is an event that has not happened yet. A past counterfactual is an event that didn't happen.There's a practical difference between the two, but they share a theoretical component.: "What would be the output given input Y". Note how that verbal formulation gives no information about whether a future or state or a counterfactuals is being considered. The black box making the calculation doesn't know whether the input its receiving represents something that will happen, or something that might have happened.

I'm puzzled that you are puzzled. JBlack's analysis, which I completely agree with, shows how and why agents with limited information consider counterfactuals. What further problems are there? Even the issue of highly atypical agents with perfect knowledge doesn't create that much of a problem, because they can just pretend to have less knowledge --build a simplified model -- in order to expand the range of non contradictory possibilities.

Comment by TAG on The Nature of Counterfactuals · 2021-06-06T00:55:42.622Z · LW · GW

what worlds should we conceive of as being possible?

  1. All realistic agents have finite and imperfect knowledge.

  2. Therefore, for any one agent, there is a set of counterfactual claims that are crazy in the sense of contradicting what they already know.

  3. Likewise, for any one agent, there is a set of counterfactual claims that are sane in the sense of not contradicting what they already know.

Comment by TAG on Paper Review: Mathematical Truth · 2021-06-04T16:08:13.725Z · LW · GW

Nobody has to believe that ordinary non mathematical langage contains a single well defined meaning of "exists". And if "exists" is polysemous , then one of its meanings could be the meaning of mathematically-exists ... it doesn't have to have a unique meaning. Fictivism is an example: the theory that mathematically-exists means fictionally-exists, since ordinary language allows truth and existence to be used in reference to fictional worlds.

Comment by TAG on Paper Review: Mathematical Truth · 2021-06-04T15:23:53.409Z · LW · GW

Thoroughgoing anti realism gives you a kind of semantic uniformity , at the expense of having the same level of anti realism about non mathematical entities. Do you want to give up believing in electrons?

Comment by TAG on Paper Review: Mathematical Truth · 2021-06-04T15:13:45.216Z · LW · GW

Talking about mathematics, qua fictions, cant possibly have less motivation than talking about fictions qua fictions.

People talk as if 2+2 does really equal 4, not just that its useful to pretend that it’s true.

People also tend to regard their own tribal myths as really true, as well.

Comment by TAG on Covid 6/3: No News is Good News · 2021-06-03T23:06:52.827Z · LW · GW

Post on the early UK plan to aggressively pursue herd immunity, and how the media has rewritten history to pretend that the plan never existed

The same media who have been widely reporting Cummings' claims that it did happen? Worst. Conspiracy. Ever.

Comment by TAG on Thoughts on the Alignment Implications of Scaling Language Models · 2021-06-03T18:19:04.532Z · LW · GW

Right. And my point is that it doesn’t avoid the objection it just says “assume that objection is wrong”.

Unless it says...assume the objection might be wrong. The reader is invited to have the intuition that there is a remaining problem, absent the quantitative issues, but they don't have to, and not everyone does.

I’m saying it’s not a great argument for one of these positions...which is, IMO, by far the most common usage of Mary’s Room.

But physicalism isn't an intuition-free default. And a lot of people don't realise that.

Comment by TAG on Thoughts on the Alignment Implications of Scaling Language Models · 2021-06-03T17:37:38.572Z · LW · GW

that the wedge doesn’t work.

It’s you’re using Mary’s Room to prove that physicalism is wrong, it fails because you’re just re-asserting the point under disagreement

That depends on whether you define "working" as definitely proving a point, or sowing some doubt. Of course, Mary's Room doesnt work under the first definition, but neither does any contrary argument...because it's philosophy, so both depend on intuitions. The useful work is in in showing the dependence on intuitions .

Physicalist says: “The reason Mary learns something new is because she didn’t learn everything because of insert-physicalist-reasons.”

Of course ... she is supposed to be a super scientist precisely in order to avoid that objection. The objection is what's locally known as fighting the hypothesis.

No matter how much detail the physicalist says Mary learns, the non-physicalist position, within the confines of the thought experiment, is not falsifiable.

Of course not. It's philosophy, not science.

Comment by TAG on Problems facing a correspondence theory of knowledge · 2021-06-03T17:20:30.419Z · LW · GW

Au contraire, I think that “mutual information between the object and the environment” is basically the right definition of “knowledge”, at least for knowledge about the world

Then how can it ever be absent?

Comment by TAG on Thoughts on the Alignment Implications of Scaling Language Models · 2021-06-03T16:18:27.839Z · LW · GW

Obviously, language as ordinarily used must be very bad at conveying mental states, because of the shortfall in information...even long books don't contain 10 billion neurones worth of bits. Which is why Mary is supposed to be a super scientist, who is capable of absorbing hexabytes of information...the point being to drive a a wedge between quantitative limitations and in-principal ones.

Comment by TAG on The Homunculus Problem · 2021-05-31T06:28:37.619Z · LW · GW

How does that apply to consciousness?

If I had a more modern model of the sky, its blueness might be a logical consequence of other things, but I wouldn’t mean quite the same thing by “sky.”

Yet it would be an alternative theory of the sky,not a theory of something different.

And note that what a theory asserts about a term doesn't have to be part of the meaning of a term.

Comment by TAG on The Homunculus Problem · 2021-05-30T21:06:31.932Z · LW · GW

I’m sure it’s not totally impossible for the meanings to be absolutely identical before and after, but I think it’s somewhere between exponentially unlikely and measure zero.

Why? You seem to appealing to a theory of meaning that you haven't made explicit.


I should have paid more attention to your "absolutely". I don't have any way of guaranting that meanings are absolutely stable across theories , but I don't think they change completely, either. Finding the right compromise is an unsolved problem.

Because there is no fixed and settled theory of meaning.

Comment by TAG on Status Regulation and Anxious Underconfidence · 2021-05-30T20:39:21.839Z · LW · GW

Yes In the same sense that's there's no such thing as being optimal but not optimising anything in particular, or optimising everything in general, there is no sense that a market being unspecifically efficient will solve a problem that has never been fed into it.

There is also a constant confusion between unregulated markets and free markets. Unregulated markets can be captured by monpolies, and thereby cease to be free in important senses.

What is the utility function of a market, absent regulation?

Comment by TAG on The Homunculus Problem · 2021-05-30T18:26:47.377Z · LW · GW

Then ask why the world is like it is in the model. If the explanation stays inside the original model, it is a tautology, and if it uses a different model, it’s not answering the original question because all the terms mean different things

There's two huge assumptions there.

One is that everything within a model is tautologous in a deprecatory sense, a sense that renders it worthless.

The other is that any model features a unique semantics, incomparable with any other model.

The axioms of a system are tautologies, and assuming something as an axiom is widely regarded as a low value, as not really explaining it. The theorems or proofs within a system can also be regarded as tautologies, but it can take a lot of work to derive them, and their subjective value is correspondingly higher. So, a derivation of facts about subjective experience from accepted principles of physics would count as both an explanation of phenomenality and a solution to the hard problem of consciousness...but a mere assumption that qualia exist would not.

Its much more standard to assume that
there is some semantic continuity between different theories than none. That's straightforwardly demonstrated by the fact that people tend to say Einstein had a better theory of gravity than Newton, and so on.

Comment by TAG on Signalling lack of familiarity with outsiders or outside knowledge, to raise status among your in-group peers? · 2021-05-30T18:12:36.855Z · LW · GW

I used to work with some techies who would signal their lack of knowledge of sport by using phrases such as "cricket racket" , "tennis bat" and "football tournament"

Comment by TAG on Saving Time · 2021-05-29T12:52:08.336Z · LW · GW

What is a level of virtuality?

A simulation is level 1, a simulation of a simulation is level 2, etc.

obtaining enough information to create such a simulation and pay the energy cost to run it, and finish the computation before the simulated person dies is hard

For once, computational complexity isn't the main problem. The main problem is that to mechanise Newcomb, you still need to make assumptions about time and a mechanisation of Newcomb is not going to tell you anything new about time and causality, only echo the assumptions it's based on.

But time and causality are worth explaining because we have evidence of them.

Comment by TAG on Covid 5/20: The Great Unmasking · 2021-05-21T12:43:50.019Z · LW · GW

Dominique Cummings speaks truth to power and anyone else who will listen. Excellent thread

I know trans is in, but it's still Dominic.