All of David_Allen's Comments + Replies

Realism : Direct or Indirect?

If you have a point then lay it out. Set a context, make your claims and challenge mine. Expose your beliefs and accept the risks.

I lay out my claims to you because I want you to challenge them from your perspective. I will not follow your leading questions to your chosen point of philosophical ambush.

0shiftedShapes9yThere can only be a philosophical ambush if you are more concerned about winning than ascertaining the truth. I have no interest in fighting for its own sake so I will simply wish you well.
Realism : Direct or Indirect?

This one line response seems generally repetitive to your others. It isn't obvious to me that you are making an effort to address my challenge to your claim that 'experience itself is certain to exist'. If you would like to address that please do, otherwise it seems that we are done.

0shiftedShapes9yIf you attempt to answer my questions honnestly and succinctly I think that you will soon see my point, whereas now we are talking past each other. I appreciate that you have been putting more time into your responses than I have put into mine. Please do not take this as a show of bad faith, likewise I will not adopt the uncharitable interpretation that your responses are drawn-out in an attempt to obfuscate.
Realism : Direct or Indirect?

I believe that the answer depends on the perspective I adopt. This is the answer that makes sense from my current perspective.

If I model what I understand of your perspective within myself I would say that of course all my learning proceeds from some form of sensory experience, other claims are nonsensical.

With another model: The brain structures related to learning depend on more than just sensory experience, they also depend on the action of our DNA, gene networks, the limits of energy availability along with many other factors.

But why does the answer ha... (read more)

0shiftedShapes9yAnd how did you learn about brains, dna, the concept of a process or blue hat?
Realism : Direct or Indirect?

I also believe that there are many things that we would agree on; my arguments are just an indication that I currently find certain aspects of this topic interesting to argue about--mind expanding. :)

I want to make the case, though, that experience itself is neither "certain to exist", nor "uncertain to exist". I think that "experience itself" is fundamental to Dasein, and that therefore cannot be subject to either certainty nor uncertainty.

I am happy to hold my arguments against certainty for shiftedShapes--however I will... (read more)

0[anonymous]9yAh, here is where our opinions diverge sharply. I should mention quickly that I have edited my above post slightly - I had accidentally left out a few words at the beginning of the first paragraph. I don't think it changes the thrust of my argument at all. I have to tell you, I think you're misapplying this whole "problem of perspective" thing. I agree that it exists, but I don't think it's as far reaching as you're implying: if it were, it would be impossible for anyone to understand anything ever. We are able to understand some things, so, QED... Reading back, I think you missed my point on this in my first comment, when I was talking about a reductio ad absurdum. Here's the problem I see: I'm walking along one day and I walk past a tree. I say to myself, "What's that over there?" And then I interpret the experience from my perspective as Argency and guess, "It seems to be a tree." But then I run into a problem - what does this experience of "seeming to see a tree" mean? I need some perspective from which to interpret it. And even if I successfully interpret it, what will the interpretation mean, and the interpretation of the interpretation, and so on ad infinitum? Interpreted meanings are experiences themselves, so if we require our experiences to be interpreted from some perspective in order to be understood, we'll end up with an infinite stack of interpretations and no meaning at the bottom. But we do experience meaning every day - when I walk past a tree I say, "look, a tree!" Any argument that implies otherwise must be absurd. So we can conclude that not every piece of information requires interpretation from some perspective. Specifically, our own thoughts and experiences (which are actually physical events which happen in our brains) gain meaning by the way they interlock and relate to one another, and need not be interpreted by any homunculus in order to be understood by us, the thinkers. There's no need for a universal perspective (no such thing exis
Realism : Direct or Indirect?

Without full access to all possible perspectives of my implementation, how would I know for certain?

I can certainly adopt a perspective that describes how all learning proceeds through my sensory experience. But the identification of this pattern from my adopted limited perspective does not actually exclude other possible perspectives.

I'm not arguing that your model of sensory experience is wrong; I actually believe it has great descriptive value. I'm arguing that it is limited by and dependent on the context from which it appears to emerge.

I am arguing against your claims of certainty, in their various forms.

0shiftedShapes9yWhat do you believe to be the case.
Realism : Direct or Indirect?

The map is not the territory. The 'self-evident' nature that you identify is a map; it is an artifact of a process. That process, even though it is you in some sense, has only a perspective limited access to what it is to be you.

Within the walls identified by this process you feel justifiably confident in the existence of your experience, in its 'self-evident' nature. But yet there is no escape from the territory, which includes the as yet unexamined foundational substrates of your perspective.

Only one perspective is possible: one's own perspective.

But... (read more)

0shiftedShapes9yHave you learned any of this through a means outside of sensory experience?
Realism : Direct or Indirect?

Thanks for your excellent response to this Argency. I am using one philosophical perspective to challenge another--which can be a bit tricky--so I hope that you will put up with any misinterpretation on my part.

This sounds to me like Kripkenstein's Error. You might just as well despair that you also need a method to verify and confirm each of those methods, and a method-confirmation confirmation method... etc, etc. ... Surely this infinite regress constitutes a reductio ad absurdum.

I'm challenging the claim that 'experience itself is certain to exist' ... (read more)

1[anonymous]9yHey, thanks yourself for responding in such depth. I didn't mean to imply that I was agreeing completely with ShiftedShapes, or disagreeing completely with you. I'm afraid my last post was a little rushed because I had to leave for work, so there are a few errors and I wasn't as clear as I would have liked. I definitely agree with your points about the importance of perspective - I think the perspective we should consider here is that of the human condition: what Heidegger would have called Dasein. In that case, I think the uncertainty that stems from differing perspectives is tangential to the problem at hand. ShiftedShapes said: It sounds like all three of us agree with the first part of that statement, since the content of experience is contingent on dasein. I want to make the case, though, that experience itself is neither "certain to exist", nor "uncertain to exist". I think that "experience itself" is fundamental to dasein, and that therefore cannot be subject to either certainty nor uncertainty. I think the existence of experience is what Wittgenstein would have called a hinge proposition: one of the propositions which constitute the frame of our perspective, which we use to form the question of whether or not a given proposition is certain or not. As you rightly point out, there is a close parallel here to axiomatic logic. That said, I'm not suggesting that "experience exists" is merely an axiom, because although axioms do help to define the frame of a system, they're still sometimes contingent and so we can sometimes still talk of their certainty or uncertainty. Famously, Euclid's fifth axiom, the Parallel Postulate, can either be affirmed or denied to create different geometries. It's important to note, though, that an axiom of any particular system can't be proven from within that system, any more than Baron Munchausen could pick himself up by his own bootlaces. If "experience itself" really is a fundamental element of dasein, then, we can think of i
Realism : Direct or Indirect?

Nothing can be learned or tested except through sensory experience.

This claim also requires a perspective from which it is identified. The implementation of this perspective is a source of uncertainty if left unexamined.

Thus outside verification is impossible.

There is no need to talk about outside verification. All verification is done from a perspective--it does not limit my argument to assume a 'sensory experience' interface for that perspective.

I don't see how your response supports your claim that 'experience itself is certain to exist', which is the claim that I am challenging. Would you try to clarify this for me?

0shiftedShapes9yOnly one perspective is possible: one's own perspective. I can't prove that I experiwnce what I experience to you, but it is self-evident to me. Likewise your experiences must be of manifest reality to you (even if what they represent, if anything, is uncertain to you) unless possibly if you are a NPC.
Realism : Direct or Indirect?

If a means of transmission is only reliable to a certain limited extent then the media transmitted could approach the limits of that channel's reliability, but never surpass it.

Actually, error free communication can be established over any channel as long as there is some level of signal (plus some other minor requirements).

But perhaps I'm misunderstanding the point you are making?

Realism : Direct or Indirect?

but the experience itself is certain to exist.

From what perspective is it certain to exist? When you identify 'the experience', this identification is an explanation from a particular perspective. By your argument it is subject to uncertainty.

I only see the certainty you refer to when I adopt a perspective that assumes there is no uncertainty in its own basis. For example if you establish as an axiom that 'primary sensory experience can be confirmed to exist by the experience itself'.

Otherwise I need a method to identify 'primary sensory experience', a ... (read more)

3[anonymous]9yThis sounds to me like Kripkenstein's Error. You might just as well despair that you also need a method to verify and confirm each of those methods, and a method-confirmation confirmation method... etc, etc. You're arguing as though experience is outside and separate to the self, in which case each experience has to be interpreted in order to be understand, and then of course the experience of this interpretation must in turn be interpreted... Surely this infinite regress constitutes a reductio ad absurdum. The sensible conclusion that Wittgenstein came to and Kripke ignored is that experience does not require identification or interpretation. There is no homunculus in your mind that experiences your thoughts/sensations/experiences and interprets them for you, rather those mental experiences are, collectively, your mind. When we say that we can't doubt our own sensations, we're tautologising. It isn't the case that we might have been able to doubt them, but on balance they seem doubtless - rather, we cannot talk of doubt or being applied to our experiences, since doubt and certainty are themselves experiences. Wittgenstein gives as an example the statement "every rod has a length". On the surface this seems like a claim that could be denied, because it is of a similar form to other deniable claims, for example "every shape has a corner". Looking closer, however, we see that the idea of length is tied up inextricably in our definition of a rod: a rod without length wouldn't be a rod at all. So when we say, "every rod has a length" or "I am certain of my experiences", we're not offering our conversational partner some contingent fact, rather we are defining our terms for them.
0shiftedShapes9yNothing can be learned or tested except through sensory experience. I include thought as a sensory experience. Thus outside verification is impossible.
Realism : Direct or Indirect?

Thanks for poking at the formicary of philosophy -- the concepts of reality, existence, justification, truth, and belief.

My primary tool for dissolving questions is to ask "From what perspective?". From what perspective do the claims hold? From what perspective are the claims made?

The descriptions of both direct and indirect realism identify the concepts of an external reality and its interpretation by human senses and mind. Manfred in his comment provides some models from this perspective.

When I ask the question "From what perspective?"... (read more)

Open Thread, February 1-14, 2013

Gentlemen! Welcome to Rationality Club. The first rule of Rationality Club is: you do not talk about basilisks. The second rule of Rationality Club is: you DO NOT even allude to basilisks!

Open Thread, February 1-14, 2013

Existence is reserved for things we have access to. Possible existence implies possible access. Actual existence implies actual access. Non-existence implies no possible access.

It is certainly possible to describe things outside of all possible access. For example as mentioned above we can talk about "non-actual or nonexistent things" and "possible worlds" that we can't access because they are counterfactual or because they are a separate reality. But when we talk about things beyond all possible access, we are just making up stories, a... (read more)

0NancyLebovitz9yI've seen a mention by Rudy Rucker of unmanageably large numbers. We don't have access to them. Do they exist?
Open Thread, February 1-14, 2013

I'm exploring some elements of the philosophy of existence (ontology) and while reading about ontological arguments I was reminded again about the description of God as the "unmoved mover".

It occurred to me that although we can't say anything meaningful about the ultimate origin of motion, we can describe the mover that is not changed by the motion from a mathematical perspective, it is called relativity -- a static description of dynamic systems.

The meaning of "existence": Lessons from infinity

Everything that exists does so in some definite quantity. Existence is that property of conceptual referents such that they necessarily exist in some definite quantity.

I'm confused by this mix of referring to things that exist and referring to existence as a property of conceptual referents. Are you saying that conceptual referents are the things that exist in finite and definite quantity? Or are you saying something else?

definite quantity

I see that you are claiming that existing things are bounded in some quantifiable way, but you do not seem to ac... (read more)

Meetup : Portland Oregon

It would be great to see you here. Your profile has you in Berkeley, are you visiting Portland?

2Will_Newsome9yTwo Rayhawks and I will be there!
4Will_Newsome9yPlan to visit soon, maybe within the next week, not sure how long I'll be staying, probably about four days.
Checking for the Programming Gear

The more recent meta-analysis appears to support their initial conclusion.

The wandering rationalist

If you need a place to stay in Boise I might also be able to help with that.

Friendly AI and the limits of computational epistemology

Let's say that ontology is the study of that which exists, epistemology the study of knowledge, phenomenology the study of appearances, and methodology the study of technique.

Thanks for the description. That would place the core of my claims as an ontology, with implications for how to approach epistemology, and phenomenology.

I wouldn't call that meaning, unless you're going to explicitly say that there are meaning-qualia in your antenna-photon system. Otherwise it's just cause and effect. True meaning is an aspect of consciousness. Functionalist &quo

... (read more)
The wandering rationalist

I can help you when you are in the Portland area. Just let me know what you need.

0Despard9yGreat, thanks!
Friendly AI and the limits of computational epistemology

A really well-known one is the cycle connecting ontology and epistemology: your epistemology should imply your ontology, and your ontology must permit your epistemology. More arcane is the interplay between phenomenology, epistemology, and methodology.

I have read many of your comments and I am uncertain how to model your meanings for 'ontology', 'epistemology' and 'methodology', especially in relation to each other.

Do you have links to sources that describe these types of cycles, or are you willing to describe the cycles you are referring to--in the pro... (read more)

0Mitchell_Porter9yLet's say that ontology is the study of that which exists, epistemology the study of knowledge, phenomenology the study of appearances, and methodology the study of technique. There's naturally an interplay between these disciplines. Each discipline has methods, the methods might be employed before you're clear on how they work, so you might perform a phenomenological study of the methods in order to establish what it is that you're doing. Reflection is supposed to be a source of knowledge about consciousness, so it's an epistemological methodology for constructing a phenomenological ontology... I don't have a formula for how it all fits together (but if you do an image search on "hermeneutic circle" you can find various crude flowcharts). If I did, I would be much more advanced. I wouldn't call that meaning, unless you're going to explicitly say that there are meaning-qualia in your antenna-photon system. Otherwise it's just cause and effect. True meaning is an aspect of consciousness. Functionalist "meaning" is based on an analogy with meaning-driven behavior in a conscious being. Does your philosophy have a name? Like "functionalist perspectivism"?
Friendly AI and the limits of computational epistemology

Continuing my argument.

It appears to me that you are looking for an ontology that provides a natural explanation for things like "qualia" and "consciousness" (perhaps by way of phenomenology). You would refer to this ontology as the "true ontology". You reject Platonism "an ontology which reifies mathematical or computational abstractions", because things like "qualia" are absent.

From my perspective, your search for the "true ontology"--which privileges the phenomenological perspective of "co... (read more)

0Mitchell_Porter9yPeople have noticed circular dependencies among subdisciplines of philosophy before. A really well-known one is the cycle connecting ontology and epistemology: your epistemology should imply your ontology, and your ontology must permit your epistemology. More arcane is the interplay between phenomenology, epistemology, and methodology. Your approach to ontology seems to combine these two cycles, with the p/e/m cycle being more fundamental. All ontological claims are said to be dependent on a cognitive context, and this justifies ontological relativism. That's not my philosophy; I see the possibility of reaching foundations, and also the possibility of countering the relativistic influence of the p/e/m perspective, simply by having a good ontological account of what the p/e/m cycle is about. From this perspective, the cycle isn't an endless merry-go-round, it's a process that you iterate in order to perfect your thinking. You chase down the implications of one ology for another, and you keep that up until you have something that is complete and consistent. Or until you discover the phenomenological counterpart of Gödel's theorem. In what you write I don't see a proof that foundations don't exist or can't be reached. Perhaps they can't, but in the absence of a proof, I see no reason to abandon cognitive optimism.
Friendly AI and the limits of computational epistemology

The contexts from which you identify "state-machine materialism" and "pain" appear to be very different from each other, so it is no surprise that you find no room for "pain" within your model of "state-machine materialism".

You appear to identify this issue directly in this comment:

My position is that a world described in terms of purely physical properties or purely computational properties does not contain qualia. Such a description itself would contain no reference to qualia.

Looking for the qualia of "pa... (read more)

Friendly AI and the limits of computational epistemology

there is no way for an AI employing computational epistemology to bootstrap to a deeper ontology.

This strikes me as probably true but unproven

It seems possible for an AI to engage in a process of search within the ontological Hilbert space. It may not be efficient, but a random search should make all parts of any particular space accessible, and a random search across a Hilbert space of ontological spaces should make other types of ontological spaces accessible, and a random search across a Hilbert space containing Hilbert spaces of ontological space... (read more)

-3Mitchell_Porter9yMy original formulation is that AI = state-machine materialism = computational epistemology = a closed circle. However, it's true that you could have an AI which axiomatically imputes a particular phenomenology to the physical states, and such an AI could even reason about the mental life associated with transhumanly complex physical states, all while having no mental life of its own. It might be able to tell us that a certain type of state machine is required in order to feel meta-meta-pain, meta-meta-pain being something that no human being has ever felt or imagined, but which can be defined combinatorically as a certain sort of higher-order intentionality. However, an AI cannot go from just an ontology of physical causality, to an ontology which includes something like pain, employing only computational epistemology. It would have to be told that state X is "pain". And even then it doesn't really know that to be in state X is to feel pain. (I am assuming that the AI doesn't possess consciousness; if it does, then it may be capable of feeling pain itself, which I take to be a prerequisite for knowing what pain is.)
Review: Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids

However, regardless of all that, it seems to me that buying has some tremendous drawbacks, for which I can't see comparable upsides under any realistic circumstances.

Before I bought my house I ran the numbers and came to the same conclusion, that home ownership would not maximize my net worth and would increase certain types of risk. As a result I see home ownership as a luxury, not as an investment. I bought my house because I wanted it as a luxury and believed I could manage the risk.

What is the best programming language?

JavaScript is fine as a first language. I consider it to be a better first language than the TRS-80 BASIC I started on.

What is the best programming language?

Is it better to focus on one path, avoiding contamination from others?

Learning multiple programming languages will broaden your perspective and will make you a better and more flexible programmer over time.

Is it better to explore several simultaneously, to make sure you don't miss the best parts?

If you are new and learning on your own, you should focus on one language at a time. Pick a project to work on and then pick the language you are going to use. I like to code a Mandelbrot set image generator in each language I learn.

Which one results in co

... (read more)
0dbaupp10yOne way to do this is by writing small C programs and looking at the assembler a compiler generates e.g. by calling gcc with -S. (You can also use this to get some understanding of the optimisations a compiler performs by comparing the difference between the assembler with optimisations and the assembler with full optimisations.) As you do this, you should also start replacing bits of the C code with inline assembler that you have written yourself, since writing code is better than just reading code. (Also, the DPCU16 [] from the yet-to-be-released game 0x10^c [] might be a reasonable way to learn the basics of assembly languages: there are even numerous online emulators, e.g. [])
More intuitive programming languages

These are well targeted critiques, and are points that must be addressed in my proposal. I will address these critiques here while not claiming that the approach I propose is immune to "bad design".

There is a high cognitive cost to learning a language.

Yes, traditional general purpose languages (GPLs) and many domain specific languages (DSLs) are hard to learn. There are a few reasons that I believe this can be allayed by the approach I propose. The DSLs I propose are (generally) small, composable, heavily reused, and interface oriented which ... (read more)

2asr10yI'm only going to respond to the last few paragraphs you wrote. I did read the rest. But I think most of the relevant issues are easier to talk about in a concrete context which the shell analogy supplies. Yes. It's clunky. But it's not clunky by happenstance. It's clunky because standardized IPC is really hard. It's a standard observation in the programming language community that a library is sort of a miniature domain-specific language. Every language worth talking about can be "extended" in this way. But there's nothing novel about saying "we can extend the core Java language by defining additional classes." Languages like C++ and Scala go to some trouble to let user classes resemble the core language, syntactically. (With features like operator overloading). I assume you want to do something different from that, since if you wanted C++, you know where to find it. In particular, I assume you want to be able to write and compose DSLs, where those DSLs cannot be implemented as libraries in some base GPL. But that's a self-contradictory desire. If DSL A and DSL B don't share common abstractions, they won't compose cleanly. Think about types for a minute. Suppose DSL A has some type system t, and DSL B has some other set of types t'. If t and t' aren't identical, then you'll have trouble sharing data between those DSLs, since there won't be a way to represent the data from A in B (or vice versa). Alternatively, ask about implementation. I have a chunk of code written in A and a chunk written in B. I'd like my compiler/translator to optimize across the boundary. I also want to be able to handle memory management, synchronization, etc across the boundary. That's what composability means, I think. Today, we often achieve it by having a shared representation that we compile down to. For instance, there are a bunch of languages that all compile down to JVM bytecode, to the .NET CLR, or to GCC's intermediate representation. (This also sidesteps the type problem
More intuitive programming languages

Thank you for the reference to STEPS; I am now evaluating this material in some detail.

I would like to discuss the differences and similarities I see between their work and my perspective; are you are familiar enough with STEPS to discuss it from their point of view?

In reply to this:

Or by making a really convenient DSL factory. The only use for your "general purpose" language would be to write DSLs.

This use of a general purpose language also shows up in the current generation of language workbenches (and here). For example JetBrains' Meta Pro... (read more)

2loup-vaillant10yI think I am (though I'm but an outsider). However, I can't really see any significant difference between their approach and yours. Except maybe that their DSLs tend to be much more Turing complete than what you would like. It makes little matter however, because the cost of implementing a DSL is so low that there is little danger of being trapped in a Turing tar-pit. (To give you an idea, implementing Javascript on top of their stack takes 200 lines. And I believe the whole language stack implements itself in about 1000 lines .) In the unlikely case you haven't already, you may want to check out their other papers [], which include the other progress reports, and other specific findings. You should be most interested by Ian Piumarta's work on maru [], and Alessandro Warth's on OMeta [], which can be examined separately.
0asr10yThis seems like a bad idea. There is a high cognitive cost to learning a language. There is a high engineering cost to making different languages play nice together -- you need to figure out precisely what happens to types, synchronization, etc etc at the boundaries. I suspect that breaking programs into pieces that are defined in terms of separate languages is lousy engineering. Among other things, traditional unix shell programming has very much this flavor -- a little awk, a little sed, a little perl, all glued together with some shell. And the outcome is usually pretty gross.
More intuitive programming languages

Visual programming is great where the visual constructs map well to the problem domain. Where it does not apply well it becomes a burden to the programmer. The same can be said about text based programming. The same can be said about programming paradigms. For example object oriented programming is great... when it maps well to the problem being solved, but for other problems it simply sucks and perhaps functional programming is a better model.

In general, programming is easy when the implementation domain (the programming language, abstract model, developm... (read more)

2loup-vaillant10y(Duplicate of this [] ) If you haven't heard of the STEPS [] project from the Viewpoint Research Institute already, it may interest you. (Their last report is here [])
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 10

Quirrell storming into the trial when the majority of the audience believes him to be the one behind everything sounds quite like this story's style.

The trouble with this theory is that the arc is confirmed to last until chapter 84, and Quirrell being suddenly released from custody would be far too short of a resolution.

It is surprising that Quirrell would accidentally reveal himself as an impostor during interrogation; so, perhaps the Quirrell currently in custody is an impostor--meaning that he is not the Quirrell currently teaching at Hogwarts. If so... (read more)

2gwern10yHighly unlikely unless there are two Quirrels running around in possession of powerful wandless magic (remember the 'sneeze'?)
Meetup : Portland Meetup?

Added entry for Portland to the wiki.

Created a Google Group LessWrong Portland.

Meetup : Portland Meetup?

That is a good place to meet. With no other suggestions, this should be the plan.

Meetup : Portland Meetup?

I'll try to be there.

Edit: I've cleared my conflict and now plan to make it.


I think your argument involves reflection somewhere. The desk calculator agrees that 2+2=4, and it's not reflective. Putting two pebbles next to two pebbles also agrees.

Agreement with statements such as 2+2=4 is not a function that desk calculators perform. It is not the function performed when you place two pebbles next to two pebbles.

Agreement is an evaluation performed by your mind from its unique position in the universe.

... this implies there is something to be converged upon.

The conclusion that convergence has occurred must be made from a cont... (read more)


Your conclusion on sheep is a physical state in your mind, generated by physical processes. But the sheep still exist outside of your mind.

Restating my claim in terms of sheep: The identification of a sheep is a state change within a context of evaluation that implements sheep recognition. So a sheep exists in that context.

Physical reality however does not recognize sheep; it recognizes and responds to physical reality stuff. Sheep don't exist within physical reality.

"Sheep" is at a different meta-level than the chain of physical inference tha... (read more)

0ec42910yI think your argument involves reflection somewhere. The desk calculator agrees that 2+2=4, and it's not reflective. Putting two pebbles next to two pebbles also agrees. Look at the discussion under this comment []; I maintain that cognitive agents converge, even if their only common context is modus ponens - and that this implies there is something to be converged upon. At the least, it is 'true' that that-which-cognitive-agents-converge-on takes the value that it does (rather than any other value, like "1=0"). Mathematical realism also explains my observations and operates entirely within the mathematical universe; the concept of physical existence is not needed []. The 'physical existence hypothesis' has the burdensome detail that extant physical reality follows mathematical laws; I do not see a corresponding burdensome detail on the 'mathematical realism hypothesis'. Thus by Occam, I conclude mathematical realism and no physical existence. I am not sure I have answered your objections because I am not sure I understand them; if I do not, then I plead merely that it's 8AM, I've been up all night, and I need some sleep :(

I am arguing against your concept "that truth exists outside of any implementation".

My claim is that "truth" can only be determined and represented within some kind of truth evaluating physical context; there is nothing about the resulting physical state that implies or requires non-physical truth.

As stated here

Our minds are not transparent windows unto veridical reality; when you look at a rock, you experience not the the rock itself, but your mind's representation of the rock, reconstructed from photons bouncing off its surface.

To... (read more)

2ec42910yI think a meta- has gone missing here: I can't be certain that others tend to reach the same truth (rather than funny hats), and I can't be certain that 2+2=4. I can't even be certain that there is a fact-of-the-matter about whether 2+2=4. But it seems damned likely, given Occamian priors, that there is a fact-of-the-matter about whether 2+2=4 (and, inasmuch as a reflective mind can have evidence for anything, which has to be justified through a strange loop on the bedrock, I have strong evidence that 2+2 does indeed equal 4). That "truth" in the map doesn't imply truth in the territory, I accept. That there is no truth in the territory, I vehemently reject. If two minds implement the same computation, and reach different answers, then I simply do not believe that they were really implementing the same computation. If you compute 2+2 but get struck by a cosmic ray that flips a bit and makes you conclude "5!", then you actually implemented the computation "2+2 with such-and-such a cosmic ray bitflip". I am not able to comprehend the workings of a mind which believes arithmetic truth to be a property only of minds, any more than I am able to comprehend a mind which believes sheep to be a property only of buckets. Your conclusion on sheep is a physical state in your mind, generated by physical processes. But the sheep still exist outside of your mind.

Therefore there is some sense in which the theorems are inherent in the (axioms + deduction rules): there is a truth about what those (axioms + deduction rules) lead to, and that truth exists outside of any implementation.

You are experiencing a mind projection fallacy.

The theorems don't exist unless an implementation produces them and once produced they only exist within a context that can represent them.

In the same way, the truth you refer to is generated by and exists within your mind. It has no existence outside of that implementation.

1ec42910yIf that is so, then how come others tend to reach the same truth? In the same way that there is something outside me that produces my experimental results ( The Simple Truth []), so there is something outside me that causes it to be the case that, when I (or any other cognitive agent) implements this particular algorithm, this particular result results. It is not a mind-projection fallacy, any more than "the sheep control my pebbles" is a mind-projection fallacy. It's just that it's operating one meta-level higher.
For fiction: How could alien minds differ from human minds?

Relative rate of thinking. The universe may appear to be very different to very fast or slow thinkers relative to humans.

0PhilGoetz10yAlso, relative rate of return on investment, and relative lifespan.
LW's front page freezes, hangs and bugs on Chrome

I have the same problem with the same version of chrome, including the weird graphical bugs.

No coinductive datatype of integers

But is it analogous to the halting problem?

The halting problem and Gödel's first incompleteness theorem are pretty much the same thing, and proofs of both involve self-reference. The proof of my thingy is much simpler and doesn't involve self-reference, so it seems to be unrelated.

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Bayesian Epistemology vs Popper

No, in the sense that it directly applies to all types of knowledge (which any epistemology applies to -- which i think is all of them, but that doesn't matter to universality).

Perhaps I don't understand some nuance of what you mean here. If you can explain it or link to something that explains this in detail I will read it.

But to respond to what I think you mean... If you have a method that can be applied to all types of knowledge, that implies that it is Turing complete; it is therefore equivalent in capability to other Turing complete systems; that a... (read more)

2JoshuaZ11yMinor nitpick at least capable of modeling any Turing machine, not Turing complete. For example, something that had access to some form of halting oracle would be able to do more than a Turing machine.
Bayesian Epistemology vs Popper

Sorry. I have no idea who is who. Don't mind me.

No problem, I'm just pointing out that there are other perspectives out here.

The Popperian method is universal.

Sure, in the sense it is Turing complete; but that doesn't make it the most efficient approach for all cases. For example I'm not going to use it to decide the answer to the statement "2 + 3", it is much more efficient for me to use the arithmetic abstraction.

But we don't know how to make it do that stuff. Epistemology should help us.

Agreed, it is one of the reasons that I am act... (read more)

0curi11yNo, in the sense that it directly applies to all types of knowledge (which any epistemology applies to -- which i think is all of them, but that doesn't matter to universality). Not in the sense that it's Turing complete so you could, by a roundabout way and using whatever methods, do anything. I think the basic way we differ is you have despaired of philosophy getting anywhere, and you're trying to get rigor from math. But Popper saved philosophy. (And most people didn't notice.) Example: You have very limited ambitious. You're trying to focus on small questions b/c you think bigger ones like: what is moral objectively? are too hard and, since you math won't answer them, it's hopeless.
Bayesian Epistemology vs Popper

Yes, given moral assertions you can then analyze them. Well, sort of. You guys rely on empirical evidence. Most moral arguments don't.

First of all, you shouldn't lump me in with the Yudkowskyist Bayesians. Compared to them and to you I am in a distinct third party on epistemology.

Bayes' theorem is an abstraction. If you don't have a reasonable way to transform your problem to a form valid within that abstraction then of course you shouldn't use it. Also, if you have a problem that is solved more efficiently using another abstraction, then use that other... (read more)

-1curi11ySorry. I have no idea who is who. Don't mind me. The Popperian method is universal. Well, umm, yes but that's no help. my iMac is definitely Turing complete. It could run an AI. It could do whatever. But we don't know how to make it do that stuff. Epistemology should help us. Example or details?
Bayesian Epistemology vs Popper

To take one issue, besides predicting the physical results of your actions you also need a way to judge which results are good or bad. That is moral knowledge. I don't think Bayesianism addresses this well.

Given well defined contexts and meanings for good and bad I don't see why Bayesianism could not be effectively applied to to moral problems.

-1curi11yYes, given moral assertions you can then analyze them. Well, sort of. You guys rely on empirical evidence. Most moral arguments don't. You can't create moral ideas in the first place, or judge which are good (without, again, assuming a moral standard that you can't evaluate).
Recent de-convert saturated by religious community; advice?

And this led me to wonder if it really is mostly about community, experiences, relationships, wanting to provide imagined "snapshots" of parties and fun for our kids as they go through these various rituals, etc.

Yes, of course that is what it is about. Due to past survival advantages these social conventions and connections are tied to our sense of security. By trying to convince her that her faith is wrong, from her perspective you threaten her safety and the safety of her children.

Fortunately you are not constrained by WWJD and can engage in... (read more)

1jwhendy11yIndeed, though difficult to abstain from. I should keep this point in mind more, though. This post and comments/discussion has quite renewed me in this area. Concretely, I am re-determined to read at least the core sequences and finish the initial books (and, consequently, goal) I set for myself HERE [] as well as finalize and "publish" (to blog or PDF) my statement of nonbelief started HERE [] . The others are good questions -- I'm assuming they are rhetorical, but I do want to stay in the marriage and would like to raise my children to be aware of trusted and proven tools of learning, universal truths, etc., without much about the supernatural debate at all, frankly. While perhaps difficult to do, this has struck me as the most reasonable and decent thing to do. I don't want them to be "indoctrinated" atheists any more than I want them to be "indoctrinated" anything-elses. When the time comes that they have the mental capacity and interest to pursue that question... let them pursue it. My hope for them is that they find their own answer that satisfies and is found with a reliable set of tools. Thanks for that encouragement and for the comments in general.
"Is there a God" for noobs

The only issue I see with TSH vs. god is that god has been defined as something that is outside time/space, omni-max, etc.

Actually, you may not be aware that mayonnaise is critical to universe creation. Since God does not contain mayonnaise the God hypothesis is less plausible than the TSH.

So you claim that existing outside space and time is necessary for the creation of the universe and I claim that mayonnaise is necessary. Do either of these claims allow us to select between the theories? I don't see how; but by adding these additional requirements we... (read more)

3jwhendy11y:) Now that was what I needed. As soon as you started going there above with mayonnaise-as-necessity, I started wondering if perhaps I'm just intent on the "outside-time-and-space" requirement because that's what I've always heard debated and argued. And then you actually went there and all is clear. Thanks!
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