Abe Dillon


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Human instincts, symbol grounding, and the blank-slate neocortex

Hey, G Gordon Worley III!

I just finished reading this post because Steve2152 was one of the two people (you being the other) to comment on my (accidentally published) post on formalizing and justifying the concept of emotions.

It's interesting to hear that you're looking for a foundational grounding of human values because I'm planning a post on that subject as well. I think you're close with the concept of error minimization. My theory reaches back to the origins of life and what sets living systems apart from non-living systems. Living systems are locally anti-entropic which means: 1) According to the second law of thermodynamics, a living system can never be a truly closed system. 2) Life is characterized by a medium that can gather information such as genetic material.

The second law of thermodynamics means that all things decay, so it's not enough to simply gather information, the system must also preserve the information it gathers. This creates an interesting dynamic because gathering information inherently means encountering entropy (the unknown) which is inherently dangerous (what does this red button do?). It's somewhat at odds with the goal of preserving information. You can even see this fundamental dichotomy manifest in the collective intelligence of the human race playing tug-of-war between conservatism (which is fundamentally about stability and preservation of norms) and liberalism (which is fundamentally about seeking progress or new ways to better society).

Another interesting consequence of the 'telos' of life being to gather and preserve information is: it inherently provides a means of assigning value to information. That is: information is more valuable the more it pertains to the goal of gathering and preserving information. If an asteroid were about to hit earth and you were chosen to live on a space colony until Earth's atmosphere allowed humans to return and start society anew, you would probably favor taking a 16 GB thumb drive with the entire English Wikipedia article text than a server-rack full several petabytes of high-definition recordings of all the reality television ever filmed, because that won't be super helpful toward the goal of preserving knowledge *relevant* to man kind's survival.

The theory also opens interesting discussions like, if all living things have a common goal; why do things like paracites, conflict, and war exist? Also, how has evolution led to a set of instincts that imperfectly approximate this goal? How do we implement this goal in an intelligent system? How do we guarantee such an implementation will not result in conflict? Etc.

Anyway, I hope you'll read it when I publish it and let me know what you think!

There's No Fire Alarm for Artificial General Intelligence

How? The person I'm responding to gets the math of probability wrong and uses it to make a confusing claim that "there's nothing wrong" as though we have no more agency over the development of AI than we do over the chaotic motion of a dice.

It's foolish to liken the development of AI to a roll of the dice. Given the stakes, we must try to study, prepare for, and guide the development of AI as best we can.

This isn't hypothetical. We've already built a machine that's more intelligent than any man alive and which brutally optimizes toward a goal that's incompatible with the good of man kind. We call it, "Global Capitalism". There isn't a man alive who knows how to stock the shelves of stores all over the world with #2 pencils that cost only 2 cents each, yet it happens every day because *the system* knows how. The problem is: that system operates with a sociopathic disregard for life (human or otherwise) and has exceeded all limits of sustainability without so much as slowing down. It's a short-sighted, cruel leviathan and there's no human at the reigns.

At this point, it's not about waiting for the dice to settle, it's about figuring out how to wrangle such a beast and prevent the creation of more.

An Intuitive Explanation of Solomonoff Induction

This is a pretty lame attitude towards mathematics. If William Rowan Hamilton showed you his discovery of quaternions, you'd probably scoff and say "yeah, but what can that do for ME?".

Occam's razor has been a guiding principal for science for centuries without having any proof for why it's a good policy, Now Solomonoff comes along and provides a proof and you're unimpressed. Great.

An Intuitive Explanation of Solomonoff Induction
After all, a formalization of Occam's razor is supposed to be useful in order to be considered rational.

Declaring a mathematical abstraction useless just because it is not practically applicable to whatever your purpose may be is pretty short-sighted. The concept of infinity isn't useful to engineers, but it's very useful to mathematicians. Does that make it irrational?

Occam's Razor: In need of sharpening?

Thinking this through some more, I think the real problem is that S.I. is defined in the perspective of an agent modeling an environment, so the assumption that Many Worlds has to put any un-observable on the output tape is incorrect. It's like stating that Copenhagen has to output all the probability amplitudes onto the output tape and maybe whatever dice god rolled to produce the final answer as well. Neither of those are true.

Occam's Razor: In need of sharpening?

That's a link to somebody complaining about how someone else presented an argument. I have no idea what point you think it makes that's relevant to this discussion.

Occam's Razor: In need of sharpening?
output of a TM that just runs the SWE doesn't predict your and only your observations. You have to manually perform an extra operation to extract them, and that's extra complexity that isn't part of the "complexity of the programme".

First, can you define "SWE"? I'm not familiar with the acronym.

Second, why is that a problem? You should want a theory that requires as few assumptions as possible to explain as much as possible. The fact that it explains more than just your point of view (POV) is a good thing. It lets you make predictions. The only requirement is that it explains at least your POV.

The point is to explain the patterns you observe.

>The size of the universe is not a postulate of the QFT or General Relativity.
That's not relevant to my argument.

It most certainly is. If you try to run the Copenhagen interpretation in a Turing machine to get output that matches your POV, then it has to output the whole universe and you have to find your POV on the tape somewhere.

The problem is: That's not how theories are tested. It's not like people are looking for a theory that explains electromagnetism and why they're afraid of clowns and why their uncle "Bob" visited so much when they were a teenager and why their's a white streak in their prom photo as though a cosmic ray hit the camera when the picture was taken, etc. etc.

The observations we're talking about are experiments where a particular phenomenon is invoked with minimal disturbance from the outside world (if you're lucky enough to work in a field like Physics which permits such experiments). In a simple universe that just has an electron traveling toward a double-slit wall and a detector, what happens? We can observe that and we can run our model to see what it predicts. We don't have to run the Turing machine with input of 10^80 particles for 13.8 billion years then try to sift through the output tape to find what matches our observations.

Same thing for the Many Worlds interpretation. It explains the results of our experiments just as well as Copenhagen, it just doesn't posit any special phenomenon like observation, observation is just what entanglement looks like from the perspective of one of the entangled particles (or system of particles if you're talking about the scientist).

Operationally, something like copenhagen, ie. neglect of unobserved predictions, and renormalisation , hasto occur, because otherwise you can't make predictions.

First of all: Of course you can use many worlds to make predictions, You do it every time you use the math of QFT. You can make predictions about entangled particles, can't you? The only thing is: while the math of probability is about weighted sums of hypothetical paths, in MW you take it quite literally as paths the actually being traversed. That's what you're trading for the magic dice machine in non-deterministic theories.

Secondly: Just because Many Worlds says those worlds exist, doesn't mean you have to invent some extra phenomenon to justify renormalization. At the end of the day the unobservable universe is still unobservable. When you're talking about predicting what you might observe when you run experiment X, it's fine to ultimately discard the rest of the multiverse. You just don't need to make up some story about how your perspective is special and you have some magic power to collapse waveforms that other particles don't have.

Hence my comment about SU&C. Different adds some extra baggage about what that means -- occurred in a different branch versus didn't occur -- but the operation still needs to occur.

Please stop introducing obscure acronyms without stating what they mean. It makes your argument less clear. More often than not it results in *more* typing because of the confusion it causes. I have no idea what this sentence means. SU&C = Single Universe and Collapse? Like objective collapse? "Different" what?

Occam's Razor: In need of sharpening?
Well, the original comment was about explaining lightning

You're right. I think I see your point more clearly now. I may have to think about this a little deeper. It's very hard to apply Occam's razor to theories about emergent phenomena. Especially those several steps removed from basic particle interactions. There are, of course, other ways to weigh on theory against another. One of which is falsifiability.

If the Thor theory must be constantly modified so to explain why nobody can directly observe Thor, then it gets pushed towards un-falsifiability. It gets ejected from science because there's no way to even test the theory which in-turn means it has no predictive power.

As I explained in one of my replies to Jimdrix_Hendri, thought there is a formalization for Occam's razor, Solomonoff induction isn't really used. It's usually more like: individual phenomena are studied and characterized mathematically, then; links between them are found that explain more with fewer and less complex assumptions.

In the case of Many Worlds vs. Copenhagen, it's pretty clear cut. Copenhagen has the same explanatory power as Many Worlds and shares all the postulates of Many Worlds, but adds some extra assumptions, so it's a clear violation of Occam's razor. I don't know of a *practical* way to handle situations that are less clear cut.

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