Comment by the-citizen on Open Thread, May 18 - May 24, 2015 · 2015-06-08T05:45:10.569Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

True! I was actually trying to be funny in (4), tho apparently I need more work.

Comment by the-citizen on Leaving LessWrong for a more rational life · 2015-05-24T07:20:45.749Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

mistakes that are too often made by those with a philosophical background rather than the empirical sciences: the reasoning by analogy instead of the building and analyzing of predictive models

While there are quite a few exceptions, most actual philosophy is not done through metaphors and analogies. Some people may attempt to explain philosophy that way, while others with a casual interest in philosophy might not known the difference, but few actual philosophers I've met are silly enough not to know an analogy is an analogy. Philosophy and empirical science aren't conflicting approaches or competing priorities. They interact and refine eachother in useful ways. For example philosophy may help improve reasoning where we have only limited evidence, or it may help us understand the appropriate way for evidence to be used, classified or interpreted. It's only problematic when its used for social purposes or motivated reasoning rather than challenging our own assumptions.

I think there are certain specific instances where LW's dominant philosophical interpretations are debatable, and I'd like to hear more of what your objections of those kind are.

I now regard the sequences as a memetic hazard, one which may at the end of the day be doing more harm than good

I think just being wrong or misleading (assuming you think the main thrust of the sequences is problematic), isn't enough to be a memetic hazard. Otherwise we'd be banning all sorts of stuff floating around in books and the internet. I suggest memetic hazard ought to be things that are uniquely dangerous in leading to immediate harm to mental health (suicide, extreme depression or extreme aggression).

Comment by the-citizen on Open Thread, May 18 - May 24, 2015 · 2015-05-19T07:42:28.023Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Suffering and AIs

Disclaimer - For the sake of argument this post will treat utilitarianism as true, although I do not neccesarily think that

One future moral issue is that AIs may be created for the purpose of doing things that are unpleasant for humans to do. Let's say an AI is designed with the ability to have pain, fear, hope and pleasure of some kind. It might be reasonable to expect in such cases the unpleasant tasks might result in some form of suffering. Added to this problem is the fact that a finite lifespan and an approaching termination/shutdown might cause fear, another form of suffering. Taking steps to shut down an AI would also then become morally unacceptable, even though they perform an activity that might be useless or harmful. Because of this, we might face a situation where we cannot shutdown AIs even when there is good reason to.

Basically, if suffering AIs were some day extremely common, we would be introducing a massive amount of suffering into the world, which under utilitarianism is unacceptable. Even assuming some pleasure is created, we might search for ways to create that pleasure without creating the pain.

If so, would it make sense to adopt a principle of AI design that says AIs should be designed so it (1) does not suffer or feel pain (2) should not fear death/shutdown (eg. views own finite life as acceptable). This would minimise suffering (potentially you could also attempt to maximise happiness).

Potential issues with this: (1) Suffering might be in some way relative, so that a neutral lack of pleasure/happiness might become "suffering". (2) Pain/suffering might be useful to create a robot with high utility, and thus some people may reject this principle. (3) I am troubled by this utilitarian approach I have used here as it seems to justify tiliing the universe with machines whose only purpose and activity is to be permanently happy for no reason. (4) Also... killer robots with no pain or fear of death :-P

Comment by the-citizen on Open Thread, May 11 - May 17, 2015 · 2015-05-19T07:40:49.598Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That seems like an interesting article, though I think it is focused on the issue of free-will and morality which is not my focus.

Comment by the-citizen on Open Thread, May 11 - May 17, 2015 · 2015-05-17T06:52:33.117Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Suffering and AIs

Disclaimer - Under utilitarianism suffering is an intrinsically bad thing. While I am not a utilitarian, many people are and I will treat it as true for this post because it is the easiest approach for this issue. Also, apologies if others have already discussed this idea, which seems quite possible

One future moral issue is that AIs may be created for the purpose of doing things that are unpleasant for humans to do. Let's say an AI is designed with the ability to have pain, fear, hope and pleasure of some kind. It might be reasonable to expect in such cases the unpleasant tasks might result in some form of suffering. Added to this problem is the fact that a finite lifespan and an approaching termination/shutdown might cause fear, another form of suffering. Taking steps to shut down an AI would also then become morally unacceptable, even though they perform an activity that might be useless or harmful. Because of this, we might face a situation where we cannot shutdown AIs even when there is good reason to.

Basically, if suffering AIs were some day extremely common, we would be introducing a massive amount of suffering into the world, which under utilitarianism is unacceptable. Even assuming some pleasure is created, we might search for ways to create that pleasure without creating the pain.

If so, would it make sense to adopt a principle of AI design that says AIs should be designed so it (1) does not suffer or feel pain (2) should not fear death/shutdown (eg. views own finite life as acceptable). This would minimise suffering (potentially you could also attempt to maximise happiness).

Potential issues with this: (1) Suffering might be in some way relative, so that a neutral lack of pleasure/happiness might become "suffering". (2) Pain/suffering might be useful to create a robot with high utility, and thus some people may reject this principle. (3) I am troubled by this utilitarian approach I have used here as it seems to justify tiliing the universe with machines whose only purpose and activity is to be permanently happy for no reason. (4) Also... killer robots with no pain or fear of death :-P

Comment by the-citizen on SciAm article about rationality corresponding only weakly with IQ · 2015-01-02T08:22:06.037Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah I think you're right on that one. Still, I like and share his moral assumption that my-side-ism is harmful because it distorts and is often opposed to the truth in communication.

I retracted an earlier incorrect assertion and then edited to make this one instead. Not sure how that works exactly...

Comment by the-citizen on SciAm article about rationality corresponding only weakly with IQ · 2014-12-29T14:30:58.517Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

His gratuitous imposition of his own moral assumptions are worse.

I don't see the problem with moral assumptions, as long as they are clear and relevant. I think generally the myside effect is a force that stands against truth-seeking - I guess its a question of definition whether you consider that to be irrational or not. People that bend the truth to suit themselves distort the information that rational people use for decision making, so I think its relevant.

*The lack of an "unretract" feature is annoying.

Comment by the-citizen on A forum for researchers to publicly discuss safety issues in advanced AI · 2014-12-17T12:38:01.522Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed I do! :-)

Comment by the-citizen on A forum for researchers to publicly discuss safety issues in advanced AI · 2014-12-15T06:02:05.272Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Cheers thanks for the informative reply.

Comment by the-citizen on A forum for researchers to publicly discuss safety issues in advanced AI · 2014-12-15T05:44:46.935Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes some humans seem to have adopted this view where intelligence moves from being a tool and having instrumental value to being instrinsically/terminally valuable. I find often the justifcation for this to be pretty flimsy, though quite a few people seem to have this view. Let's hope a AGI doesn't lol.

Comment by the-citizen on A forum for researchers to publicly discuss safety issues in advanced AI · 2014-12-15T05:39:33.606Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for reply. That makes more sense to me now. I agree with a fair amount of what you say. I think you'd have a sense from our previous discussions why I favour physicalist approaches to the morals of a FAI, rather than idealist or dualist, regardless of whether physicalism is true or false. So I won't go there. I pretty much agree with the rest.

EDIT> Oh just on the deep ecology point, I believe that might be solvable by prioritising species based on genetic similarity to humans. So basically weighting humans highest and other species less so based on relatedness. I certainly wouldn't like to see a FAI adopting the view that people have of "humans are a disease" and other such views, so hopefully we can find a way to avoid that sort of thing.

Comment by the-citizen on A forum for researchers to publicly discuss safety issues in advanced AI · 2014-12-14T07:39:07.018Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks that's informative. Not entirely sure your own position is from your post, but I agree with what I take your implication to be - that a rationally discoverable set of ethics might not be as sensible notion as it sounds. But on the other hand human preference satisfaction seems a really bad goal - many human preferences in the world are awful - take a desire for power over others for example. Otherwise human society wouldn't have wars, torture, abuse etc etc. I haven't read up on CEV in detail, but from what I've seen it suffers from a confusion that somehow decent preferences are gained simply by obtaining enough knowledge? I'm not fully up to speed here so I'm willing to be corrected.

EDIT> Oh... CEV is the main accepted approach at MIRI :-( I assumed it was one of many

Comment by the-citizen on A forum for researchers to publicly discuss safety issues in advanced AI · 2014-12-14T07:29:54.051Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The stability under self-modification is a core problem of AGI generally, isn't it? So isn't that an effort to solve AGI, not safety/friendliness (which would be fairly depressing given its stated goals)? Does MIRI have a way to define safety/friendliness that isn't derivative of moral philosophy?

Additionally, many human preferences are almost certainly not moral... surely a key part of the project would be to find some way to separate the two. Preference satisfaction seems like a potentially very unfriendly goal...

Comment by the-citizen on A forum for researchers to publicly discuss safety issues in advanced AI · 2014-12-14T07:27:18.740Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

For the record, my current position is that if MIRI doesn't think it's central, then it's probably doing it wrong.

Comment by the-citizen on A forum for researchers to publicly discuss safety issues in advanced AI · 2014-12-13T13:56:35.200Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But perhaps moral philosophy is important for a FAI? Like for knowing right and wrong so we can teach/build it into the FAI? Understanding right and wrong in some form seems really central to FAI?

Comment by the-citizen on A forum for researchers to publicly discuss safety issues in advanced AI · 2014-12-13T08:12:03.593Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What do you feel is bad about moral philosophy? It looks like you dislike it because place it next to anthropormorphic thinking and technophobia.

Comment by the-citizen on Superintelligence 12: Malignant failure modes · 2014-12-10T12:37:44.237Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'll leave these two half-baked ideas here in case they're somehow useful:

DO UNTIL - Construct an AI to perform its utility function until an undesirable failsafe condition is met. (Somehow) make the utility function not take the failsafe into account when calculating utility (can it be made blind to the failsafe somehow? Force the utility function to exclude their existence? Make lack of knowledge about failsafes part of the utility function?) Failsafes could be every undesirable outcome we can think of, such as human death rate exceeds X, biomass reduction, quantified human thoughts declines by X, mammalian species extictions, quantified human suffering exceeds X, or whatever. One problem is how to objectively attribute these triggers causally to the AI (what if another event occurs and shuts down the AI which we now rely on).

Energy limit - Limit the AIs activities (through its own utility function?) through an unambiguous quantifiable resource - matter moved around or energy expended. The energy expended would (somehow) include all activity under its control. Alternatively this could be a rate rather than a limit, but I think this would be more likely to go wrong. The idea would be to let the AGI go foom, but not let it have energy for other stuff like a paperclip universe. I am not sure about this idea achieving all that much safety, but here it is.

I don't know if an intelligence explosion will truely be possible, but plenty of people smarter than I seem to think so... good luck in this field of work!

Comment by the-citizen on Superintelligence 12: Malignant failure modes · 2014-12-10T12:09:32.613Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Wouldn't most AGI goals disregard property rights unless it was explicitly built in? And if it was built in, wouldn't an AGI just create a situation (eg. progressive blackmail or deception or something) where we wanted to sell it the universe for a dollar?

Comment by the-citizen on Superintelligence 12: Malignant failure modes · 2014-12-10T11:55:25.970Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The risk of course is the AI predicting that it's nested in this sort of environment and finding a way to signal to observers. Even if it's blind to the other layers it might try it just in case. What you want is to develop a way for the simulated world environment to detect a harmful intellgience explosion and send a single bit binary communication "out of the box" to indicate that it has occurred. Then you can shut it down and keep trying multiple instances until you get a success at this level of safety. I guess you can then slowly expand the amount of information that can come "out of the box" for safety. I have no idea how the detection process could be implemented, though... perhaps the difficultly of its implementation would defeat the usefulness of this idea?

EDIT> Interaction between the AGI and the detection mechanism could be problematic... it could predict its existence and find a way to deceive it?

Comment by the-citizen on [Link] If we knew about all the ways an Intelligence Explosion could go wrong, would we be able to avoid them? · 2014-12-02T08:05:17.622Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for comment. I will reply as follows:

  • Knowing how things could go wrong gives useful knowledge about scenarios/pathways to avoid
  • Our knowledge of how to make things go right is not zero

My intention with the article is to draw attention to some broader non-technical difficulties in implementing FAI. One worrying theme in the reponses I've gotten is a conflation between knowledge of AGI risk and building a FAI. I think they are separate projects, and that success of the second relies on comprehensive prior knowledge of the first. Apparently MIRI's approach doesn't really acknowledge the two as separate.

[Link] If we knew about all the ways an Intelligence Explosion could go wrong, would we be able to avoid them?

2014-11-23T10:30:10.861Z · score: 1 (4 votes)
Comment by the-citizen on The Truth and Instrumental Rationality · 2014-11-16T09:33:20.853Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the reply.

If we change the story as you describe I guess the moral of the story would probably become "investigate thoroughly". Obviously Bayesians are never really certain - but deliberate manipulation of one's own map of probabilities is unwise unless there is an overwhelmingly good reason (your hypothetical would probably be one - but I believe in real life we rarely run into that species of situation).

The story itself is not the argument, but an illustration of it - it is "a calculation of the instrumentality of various options ought to include a generalised weighting of the truth (resistence to self-deception) because of the consequences of self-deception tend to be hidden and negative". I additionally feel that this weighting is neglected when the focus in on "winning". I can't prove the emprical part of the first claim, because its based on general life experience, but I don't feel its going to be challenged by any reasonable person (does anyone here think self-deception doesn't generally lead to unseen, negative consequences?).

I don't feel confident precribing a specific formula to quantify that weighting at this time. I'm merely suggesting the weight should be something, and be significant in most situations.

Comment by the-citizen on A few thoughts on a Friendly AGI (safe vs friendly, other minds problem, ETs and more) · 2014-11-10T09:40:40.649Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Your engagement here is insincere. You argue based on to cherry-picking and distorting my statements. You simply ignore the explanations given and say "you haven't given justification" and then you give off-hand vague answers for my own queries and then state "already answered". I'm done with this.

Comment by the-citizen on The Truth and Instrumental Rationality · 2014-11-10T09:30:07.514Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not much I can think of that we can do about that, except provide a system with disincentives for harmful behaviour. What can easily correct is the possiblity of meaning well but making mistakes due to self-deception. This post attempts to examine one instance of that.

Comment by the-citizen on Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014 · 2014-11-08T11:42:00.781Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Cheers, that all seems to make sense. I wonder if the Basilisk with its rather obvious flaws actually provides a rather superb illustration of how memetic hazard works in practice, and so doing so provides a significant opportuntity of improving how we handle it.

Comment by the-citizen on The Truth and Instrumental Rationality · 2014-11-08T11:38:40.209Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the feedback.

On top of that, it actually ends in the optimal outcome.

Just to clarify, no it doesn't. It's implied that the 20 deaths is worse than 5 for the consequentialist protagonist.

The analogy is problematic ... bizarre and unrealistic example.

Thanks for the feedback. It seems people have been split on this. Others have also found the analogy problematic. On the other hand an analogy doesn't usually attempt to provide proof, but illustrate the structure of an argument in an understandable way. I don't think it's bizarre if you think of thought-experiments like the Chinese Room or Descartes' invisible demon.

. The moral thing to do for a drowning person is save them. But if you saved these people, you'd all die anyways

I think this is a more substantial attack on my writing. I probably need to improve the scenario so that it is clear that the people in the river could have been saved in the later part of the parable. Thanks.

At best, it proves "there is an possible circumstance where a fairly poorly thought-out instrumentally rational belief is inferior to a true one

Well that's roughly right but a bit of limited interpretation. I'd say "truth-belief has a significant instrumental value beyond what we can derive from our immediate circumstances and goals" and additionally "non-truth can have cumulitive negative utility far beyond what immediate circumstances suggest". What I'm trying to suggest is that the uncertainty with which we go through life means that it is rational to assign truth-belief a very significant utlity beyond what can be explicitly identified with our present knowledge. In other words, be sloppy with the truth and you'll never even know you failed. I write this because "rationlity is winning" and the raw math of most people's approach to instrumental rationlity neglects this generalised component entirely, only focusing on how the truth helps us in the here-and-now. I hope I at least partially communicated this in the parable.

Comment by the-citizen on Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014 · 2014-11-05T12:21:02.294Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What in particular was wrong with his handling of this incident? I'm not aware of all the details of his handling so its an honest question.

Comment by the-citizen on A few thoughts on a Friendly AGI (safe vs friendly, other minds problem, ETs and more) · 2014-11-04T07:20:21.210Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There aren't any inherently, unchangeably, mental concepts.

From what I can observe in your position it seems like you are treating consciousness in exactly this way. For example, could you explain how it could possibly be challenged by evidence? How could it change or be refined if we say "introspection therefore consciousness"?

The very fact of introspection indicates that consciousness, by a fairly minimal definition, is existent.

I don't see how this follows. As there are a whole host of definitions of consciousness, could you explicitly select a definition, and explain why you feel that introspection proves that particular definintion (not just a general sense of introspectionyness) must follow? Consciousness definitions usually imply some form of discrete mental agent, endowed with certain fairly significant properties. I don't see how that follows from "person A can't see what person B is thinking", unless you invoke dualism. We need to understand what thought is first, and we would need a very compelling reason a physicalist would seek to derive concepts to deal with thought from disembodied thought itself rather than the physical world as they observe it.

Positions:

1 Consciousness doesn't exist at all.(Eliminativism) 2 Consciousness exists as a reducible physical phenomenon (physicalism) 3 Consciousness exists as an irreducible non physical phenomenal.(dualism)

I'm not conflating these positions as I feel you probably think I am, merely holding that (2) is not logically consistent. If (2) was "when we observe the brain we see a discrete phenomenon that we call consciousness", I would say that it is more logically consistent, though I would call for a different word that isn't historically associated with dualism.

Why do you ignore introspection? Why not look down the telescope?

I don't wish to ignore it. I merely think a consistent physicalist would categorise it, like everything else, as a physical process, and therefore seek to understand and explain it using empirical evidence rather than purely mental concepts that don't seem to exist in physical space?

I finally note you refuse again to accept any burden of evidence for your claims, and merely say the field generally supports your position. Anyone can say that for any position. I think you should drop claims of conventionality and stick to the reasoning and refutations that you propose. Noone expects references for logical statements, but claims that you have the support of most philosophers should be supported.

EDIT> Reply bait oh man

Comment by the-citizen on The Truth and Instrumental Rationality · 2014-11-04T06:49:35.881Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Cheers now that we've narrowed down our differences that's some really constructive feedback. I think I intended it primarily as a illustration and assume that most people in this context would probably already agree with that perspective, though this could be a bad assumption and it probably makes the argument seem pretty sloppy in any case. It'll definitely need refinement, so thanks.

EDIT> My reply attracted downvotes? Odd.

Comment by the-citizen on The Truth and Instrumental Rationality · 2014-11-03T05:19:30.687Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What part do you think was forced? So far quite a several others said they didn't mind that part so much, and that actually the second section bothered them. I'll probably make future alterations when I have spare time.

Comment by the-citizen on The Truth and Instrumental Rationality · 2014-11-03T05:12:28.281Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Jungle? Didn't we live on the savannah?

LOL it was just a turn of phrase.

And forming groups for survival, it seems just as plausible that we formed groups for availability of mates.

Genetically speaking mate-availability is a component to survival. My understanding of the forces that increased group size is that they are more complex than either of these (big groups win conflicts for terrritory, but food availability (via tool use) and travel speed are limiting factors I believe - big groups only work if you can access a lot of food and move on before stripping the place barren), but I was writing a very short characterisation and I'm happy to acknowledge minor innacuracies. Perhaps I'll think about tightening up the language or removing that part as you suggest - I probably wrote that it far too casually.

For example, Adolf Hitler lived while Ernst Rohm died

Nice example. Although Hitler did die anyway. And I think a decent part of the reason was his inability to reason effectively and make strategically sound decisions. Of course I think most people are kinda glad he was strategically irrational... In any case I think you're right the charisma is still useful but my suggestion is that truth-seeking (science etc) has increased in usefulness over time, whereas charisma is probably roughly the same as it has been for a long time.

structured as a story, a chronology

Perhaps I should make the winning section more storylike to make focus on its point rather than it being a scientific guide to that subtopic. Or maybe I just need to rethink it... The core point seems to have been received well at least.

Comment by the-citizen on The Truth and Instrumental Rationality · 2014-11-03T05:11:02.458Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the useful suggestion. This appears to emerging as a consensus. I'll probably either tidy up the second section or cut it when I have time.

Comment by the-citizen on The Truth and Instrumental Rationality · 2014-11-03T05:09:53.975Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

LOL. Well I agree with your first three sentences, but I'd also add that we systematically the costs of false beliefs because (1) at the point of deception we cannot reliably predict future instances in which the self-deceptive belief will become a premise in a decision (2) in instances where we make a instrumentally poor decision due to a self-deception, we often receive diminished or no feedback (we are unaware of the dead stones floating down the river).

Comment by the-citizen on The Truth and Instrumental Rationality · 2014-11-03T05:04:59.115Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

LW appears to be mixed on the "truthiness should be part of instrumental rationality" issue.

It seems we disagree on the compartmentalising issue. I believe self-deception can't easily be compartmentalised in the way you describe because we can't accurately predict, in most cases, where our self-deception might become a premise in some future piece of reasoning. By its nature, we can't correct at the later date, because we are unaware that our belief is wrong. What's your reasoning regarding compartmentalizing? I'm interested in case I am overlooking something.

You're mistake (and LW's), I think, is to incorporate truth into instrumental rationality

My experience so far is that a large (50%?) part of LW agrees with you not me.

It is ethical in character, whereas instrumental rationality is not; and it is a seductive confusion to moralize it.

This is an interesting argument. In a sense I was treating the ethics as separate in this case. I'd be interested to hear a more detailed version of what you say here.

is an invitation to functional psychopathy.

There's a great quote floating around somewhere about studying the truth vs. creating the truth. I can't remember it specifically enough to find it right now... but yes I agree intellectuals will undermine their abilities if they adopt pure instrumentality.

Comment by the-citizen on The Truth and Instrumental Rationality · 2014-11-03T04:38:58.147Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I guess my argument is that when people can't see an immediate utility for the truth, they can become lazy or rationalise that a self-deception is acceptable. This occurs because truth is seen as useful rather than essential or at least essential in all but the most extreme circumstances. I think this approach is present in the "truth isn't everything" interpretation of instrumental rationality. The systematised winning isn't intended to comprise this kind of interpretation, but I think the words it uses evokes too much that's tied into a problematic engagement with the truth. That's where I currently sit on the topic in any case.

Comment by the-citizen on Open thread, Oct. 20 - Oct. 26, 2014 · 2014-11-03T04:25:46.035Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the group selection link. Unfortunately I'd have to say, to the best of my non-expert judgement, that the current trends in the field disagrees somewhat with Eliezer in this regard. The 60s group selection was definitely overstated and problematic, but quite a few biologists feel that this resulted in the idea being ruled out entirely in a kind of overreaction to the original mistakes. Even Dawkins, who's traditionally dismissed group selection, acknowledged it may play more of a role than he previously thought. So its been refined and is making a bit of a come-back, despite opposition. Of course, only a few point to it as the central explanation for altruism, but the result of my own investigation makes me think that the biological component of altruism is best explained by a mixed model of group selection, kin selection and reciprocation. We additionally haven't really got a reliable map as to nature/nuture of altruism either, so I suspect the field will "evolve" further.

I've read the values argument. I acknowledge that no one is claiming the truth is BAD exactly, but my suggestion here is that unless we deliberately and explicitly weigh it into our thought process, even when it has no apparent utlity, we run into unforeseeable errors that compound upon eachother without our awareness of them doing so. Crudely put, lazy approaches to the truth come unstuck, but we never realise it. I take it my post has failed to communicate that aspect of the argument clearly? :-(

Oh I add that I agree we agree in most regards on the topic.

Comment by the-citizen on Open thread, Oct. 20 - Oct. 26, 2014 · 2014-11-01T15:07:23.092Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well I've done Map & Territory and have skimmed through random selections of other things. Pretty early days I know! So far I've not run into anything particularly objectionable for me or conflicting with any of the decent philosophy I've read. My main concern is this truth as incidental thing. I just posted on this topic: http://lesswrong.com/lw/l6z/the_truth_and_instrumental_rationality/

Comment by the-citizen on The Truth and Instrumental Rationality · 2014-11-01T14:36:57.563Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Cheers for comment. I think I perhaps should have made the river self-deception less deliberate, to create a greater link between it and the "winning" mentality. I guess I'm suggesting that there is a little inevitable self-deception incurred in the "systematised winning" and general "truth isn't everything" attitudes that I've run into so far in my LW experience. Several people have straight-up told me truth is only incidental in the common LWers approach to instrumental rationality, though I can see there are a range of views.

The Truth and Instrumental Rationality

2014-11-01T11:05:19.576Z · score: 11 (16 votes)
Comment by the-citizen on Open thread, Oct. 20 - Oct. 26, 2014 · 2014-11-01T08:30:28.059Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think I'd be quite interested to know what % of CRAF people believe that rationality ought to include a component of "truthiness". Anything that could help on that?

Comment by the-citizen on Open thread, Oct. 20 - Oct. 26, 2014 · 2014-11-01T06:03:58.922Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I like the exporation of how emotions interact with rationality that seems to be going on over there.

For me over-analysis would be where further analysis is unlikely to yield practically improved knowledge of options to solve the problem at hand. I'd probably treat this as quite separate from bad analysis or the information supplied by instinct and emotion. In a sense then emotions wouldn't come to bear on the question of over-analysis generally. However, I'd heartily agree with the proposition that emotions are a good topic of exploration and study because they provide good option selection in certain situations and because knowledge of them might help control and account for emotionally based cognitive bias.

I guess the above would inform the question of whether the person you describe is rationally helping or just strawmanning. My sense is that in many cases the term is thrown around as a kind of defence against the mental discomfort that deep thought and the changing of ideas might bring, but perhaps I'm being too judgemental. Other times of course the person is actually identifying hand-wringing and inaction that we're too oblivious to identify ourselves.

In terms of identification of true goals, I wonder if the contextuality and changability of emotion would render it a relevent but ultimately unreliable source of deriving true goals. For example, in a fierce conflict its fairly tempting to perceive your goals as fundamentally opposed or opposite to your opponents, but I wonder if that's really a good position to form.

In the end though, people's emotions are relevent in their perception of their goals, so I suspect we do have to address emotions in the case for rationality.

Does CFAR have its own discussion forum? I can't see any so far? Do you know what CFAR thinks about the "winning" approach held by many LWers?

Comment by the-citizen on Open thread, Oct. 20 - Oct. 26, 2014 · 2014-11-01T05:44:33.127Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the interesting comments. I've not been on LW for wrong and so far I'm being selective about which sequences I'm reading. I'll see how that works out (or will I? lol).

I think my concern on the truthiness part of what you say is that there is an assumption that we can accurately predict the consequences of a non-truth belief decision. I think that's rarely the case. We are rarely given personal corrective evidence though, because its the nature of a self-deception that we're oblivious that we've screwed up. Applying a general rule of truthiness is a far more effective approach imo.

Comment by the-citizen on Non-standard politics · 2014-11-01T05:34:24.130Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think you've got a good point regarding having as many virtues as possible.

On the idea of perfection being dystopic, this reminds me of an argument I sometimes hear along the lines of "evil is good because without evil, good would just be normal", which I don't find very convincing. Still I guess a society and its people should always focus on betterment of themselves, and perfection is probably better thought of as a idealised goal than some place we arrive at.

Comment by the-citizen on A few thoughts on a Friendly AGI (safe vs friendly, other minds problem, ETs and more) · 2014-11-01T05:27:28.415Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This isn't productive. As you've insisted on a long and highly critical response again, I sadly feel I need to briefly reply.

What you need to disprove is the claim that physicalists employ the concept of consciousness

No. I merely show that the core claims of physicalism and this use of consciousness are incompatible. That's what I've done. Whether some particular physicalists choose to employ some concept is a different question and a massive red herring, as I already said.

One ought to provide evidence for extraordinary claims,

Whereas ordinary claims don't need evidence? Could you be presenting your claims as "ordinary" to avoid the burden of evidence?

standard theory of consciousness, which almost everyone believes in, including most physicalists.

A "standard" theory of consciousness, that almost everyone believes in, including most physicalist, and presumably most dualists too? Dualists and physicalists have agreed on the nature of consciousness? I think you've gone waaaaay into the realms of fantasy on this one.

1 Consciousness doesn't exist at all.(Eliminativism)

You have warped my position again. I didn't argue it didn't exist, I argued that it is a concept that is rooted in dualism. I explained why. I argued that a physicalist would be consistent if they instead used concepts drawn from empirical investigations of the brain. You seem to feel that the physical should be conceptualised based upon the mental, rather than the other way around. That position isn't compatible with physicalism, because it implies treating the mental as categorically superior. Doing so is not an ontologically neutral position as you are presenting it.

Nobody has at any stage said anything to imply that introspection is, or needs to be, more reliable than conventional empiricism.

If so then why are you treating concepts derived from pure introspection as the superior schema to categorise empirical evidence?

You need to argue that point ... [etc.]

I did, you selectively ignored the arguments. This conversation has become largely pointless. Perhaps you feel you can achieve some goal of "winning" by merely repeating yourself and achieving "victory" by the other person losing faith in the merit of the conversation. Your basic approach seems to be (1) find some minor points that you can rephrase and attack (2) simply ignore the main points and claim over and over again the main proposition hasn't been proven. (3) deny the need to support your own claims when asked because they are conventional or "ordinary". As such I think it would be a mistake for me to see you as honestly engaged with my propositions here. That's a shame, because I think you would be a very interesting person to talk to if you weren't so eager to "win". Good luck and goodbye.

Comment by the-citizen on Open thread, Oct. 20 - Oct. 26, 2014 · 2014-10-29T12:07:30.564Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't 100% follow your comment, but I find the content of those links interesting. Care to expand on that thought at all?

Comment by the-citizen on Open thread, Oct. 20 - Oct. 26, 2014 · 2014-10-29T11:55:08.454Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think I'm broadly supportive of your approach. The only problem I can see is that most people think its better to try to do stuff, as opposed to getting better at doing stuff. Rationality is a very generalised and very long-term approach and payoff. Still I'd not reject your approach at this point.

Another issue I find interesting is that several people have commented recently on LW that (instrumental) rationality isn't about knowing the truth but simply achieving goals most effectively. They claim this is the focus of most LWers too. As if "Truthiness" is only a tool that can be even be discarded when neccessary. I find that view curious.

Comment by the-citizen on Non-standard politics · 2014-10-29T11:50:13.591Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Cheers for the mention. I still haven't worked out if Divergent is meant to be a dystopia or utopia (somewhere in between I think?). Its an interesting world.

Comment by the-citizen on Non-standard politics · 2014-10-27T11:59:03.761Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes that's a fairly good point and I don't know any easy way around it either. Looking in the world of business, government, politics etc etc. would be a matter of fairly subjective ideas about moral goodness.

I suppose you could formulate an approach along the lines of experimental psychology, where you could deliberately design experiments with clearcut good/bad group outcomes. So get a bunch of people to be leaders in an experiment where their goal was to minimise their group members (including themselves) getting hit in the head with something unpleasant, build-in some selfish vs unselfish options, and then look at the correlations between leadership behaviours and oxytocin or whatever else you wanted to measure as an input. With a robust range of experiments you could perhaps develop something broadly useful.

Comment by the-citizen on A few thoughts on a Friendly AGI (safe vs friendly, other minds problem, ETs and more) · 2014-10-27T11:43:56.248Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

:-( I'm disappointed at this outcome. I think you're mentally avoiding the core issue here - but I guess my saying so is not going to achieve much. I'll answer some of your points quickly and make this my last post in this subthread.

What you need is evidence that monists don't or can't or shouldn't shouldn't believe in consciousness or subjectivity or introspection. Evidence that dualists do is not equivalent.

You're twisting my claim. Someone can't disprove a pure concept or schema - asking them to do so is a red herring. Instead one ought to prove rather than assume the appropriateness of a concept. I've pointed out that in order to derive a concept of "consciousness", you have to rely on an understanding of it as "subjective", and that subjective is a Dualist term derived directly from mind-body separation. As you've basically agreed to the first part of that, and haven't mounted any substantial objection to the second, I honestly cannot fathom your further your insistence that consciousness can be Physicalist?

If they don't know, you have just proved you have private thoughts, if which you are aware.

I didn't claim there were no private thoughts. A Physicalist might accept there is something like private thought, but they wouldn't then conceptualise private thought using arguments that rely on "subjective" and therefore Dualism. They'd seek to develop a schema arising out of physical reality.

Where did you see the definition? In any case, introspection is widely used in psychology.

That in no way shows that it's empirical. Empirical means sense data. You can't get sense-data for your own thoughts, or your consciousness. Sure you can operate under the assumption that thoughts are happenning, but to select a priori formulations based on purely subjective experience is treating your subjective thought as categorically different from sense data (concepts created independent of sense-data). Those different categories - THAT'S DUALISM.

Clarify for me - are you denying or accepting that "subject" is directly tied into the Cartesian separation? It's simply not possible for claims to rely on subject/object distinctions and not to rely on the mind-body distinction.

We've really exausted the productive side of this discussion long ago, so let me conclude my posts on this by suggesting a new way to look at this - say you had someone who had never heard of "consciousness", and who was also a Physicalist. They have thoughts, they accept that they have thoughts, but because they feel they are a physical organism with a physical brain, they also state that as a physical system their brain cannot include a reliable map of itself. This means of one's own mind's structure is innaccessible - accurate introspection is unreliable at best. What are you possibly going to say to them to convince them that consciousness is a thing, without treating the mind as reliable over and beyond their empirical knowledge / sense data? It's not enough to say that consciousness might be there - so might Fraud's "ego" and "id" or all sorts of historical concepts based on "subjective experience". You instead have to go to the empirical evidence without conceptual preconceptions and work backword from there. To work from a priori thought simply isn't reliable in the way it is for a Dualist.

TLDR; A Physicalist conceptualises the mental in terms of the physical - not the other way around.

If you ever want to really explore the concept play the Physicalist with no knowledge of consciousness and take a highly skeptical view to the concept . Refuse to believe in it unless proof is given and see what happens. Who knows - you could be able to mount a more influential enunciation of its impossiblity than me.

That's all from me for now.

Comment by the-citizen on A few thoughts on a Friendly AGI (safe vs friendly, other minds problem, ETs and more) · 2014-10-26T06:35:10.915Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ok thanks for this comment.

studying philosophy for 35 years

Stealthy appeal to authority, but ok. I can see you're a good philosopher, I wouldn't seek to question your credibility as a philosopher, but I do wish to call into question this particular position, and I hope you'll come with on this :-)

Who told you that introspection implies separation of mind and body?

I wrote on this topic at uni, but you'll have to forgive me if I haven't got proper sources handy...

"The sharp distinction between subject and object corresponds to the distinction, in the philosophy of René Descartes, between thought and extension. Descartes believed that thought (subjectivity) was the essence of the mind, and that extension (the occupation of space) was the essence of matter." [wikipedia omg]

I'll see if I can find a better source. I hope you'll resist the temptation to attack the source for now, as its pretty much the same as a range of explanations I ran into at uni. "Subject" can be directly linked back to the Cartesian separation.

But theny you say you are talking about proper intuition

I didn't mention intuition. You're right that proper isnt the "proper" language to use here :-) I should have said thorough. However, I think my point is clear either way - its a characterisation of the literature. I guess we do perceive that literature very differently for now. I wasn't aware that my position was minority in wider philosophy, or do you mean on LW?

Who told you that introspection isn't empirical evidence? Introspective evidence is a complex subject that doesn't summarize down thatway.

I haven't actually seen introspection discussed much by name in philosophy, usually its consciousness, subject/object etc. I infer that it implies subjective experience and is by definition not empirical. So my position to clarify is not that introspection is false, but rather that introspection in the way we are talking about it here is framing a Monist perception of the world by arbitrarily "importing" a Dualist term (or a term that at least very strongly implies subjectivity). Though we might argue for its "usefulness", this is ultimately unhelpful because we are tempted to make another "useful" leap to "consciousness", which is a compounds otherwise small problems.

I believe that if one is a consistent physicalist, then empirical evidence (the vast majority of definintions of this refer to sensory data as a prerequistite of "empirical") would be examined as reliable, ie. primary, without framing that evidence using a posteriori or idealist concepts. So you get the brain and behaviours. The introspective aspects, which you are right, a physicalist does not need to entirely deny, are then framed using the reliable (as claimed by physicalists) empirically established concepts. So in that sense the brain can interact with itself, but there is no particular thing in the study of the brain to suggest reference to concepts that have historically been used in Dualism, such as consciousness. Any usage of those terms as merely rhetorical (communicating with lay people, or discussing issues with Dualists) and are not treated as legitimate categories for philosophical thought. Those concepts might loosely stretch over the same areas, but they are very different for the physicalist to categories like "the brain" which are non-arbitrary because they are categories that appear to be suggested "by the evidence".

Again I don't wish to claim Dualist or Monsism or whatever is true (can of worms). I also don't wish to claim that all Physicalists think what I just described - I haven't met them all or read everyone's work. What I wish to claim is that a consistently physicalist position implies the rejection of justifications for concepts that are epistemological Dualist, and I also wish to claim that acceptance of consciousness, because it does not emerge from empirical sense data, relies on acceptance of "subject" which can be directly traced to Descartes separation of mind and body ("subject" and its tools for interacting with "objects") (ie. Dualist). Therefore the consistent Physicalist does not accept consciousness.

Comment by the-citizen on Open thread, Oct. 20 - Oct. 26, 2014 · 2014-10-26T05:30:45.126Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I am suprised that a significant group of people think that rationality is inclusive of useful false beliefs. Wouldn't we call LW an effectiveness forum, rather than a rationalist forum in that case?

That basically means that sometimes the person who seeks the truth doesn't win.

I think you're reading too much into that one quite rhetorical article, but I acknowledge he prioritises "winning" quite highly. I think he ought to revise that view. Trying to win with false beliefs risks not achieving your goals, but being oblivious to that fact. Like a mad person killing their friends because he/she thinks they've turned into evil dog-headed creatures or some such (exaggeration to illustrate my point).

Of course you can define rationality for yourself differently but it's a mistake to project your own goals on others.

Fair point. And maybe you're right I'm in the minority... I'm still not yet certain. I do note that upvotes does not indicate agreement, only a feeling that the article is an interesting read etc. Also, I note many comments disagree with article. It warrants further investigation for me though.

Comment by the-citizen on Non-standard politics · 2014-10-26T05:01:20.102Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed, but I think they'd have some correlation, and I strongly suspect their absense would predict corruptability.

A few thoughts on a Friendly AGI (safe vs friendly, other minds problem, ETs and more)

2014-10-19T07:59:42.288Z · score: 3 (6 votes)