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This does not sound believable to me. I very much doubt that a perfect agent would find these sorts of questions to be well-defined. It sounds like you're talking about the likelihood of a bulkhead failure or something completely technical ... when this is not technical at all.

You can either acknowledge this, and use it to your advantage to help them be the best future self they can be, OR you can say that it is "manipulative" and instead leave their formation up to chance.

This doesn't sound right to me. I think you could find certain things "manipulative", and so look at specifically doing/saying things that weren't manipulative. For example, what if you told the children of their own bias, or you told them, "Don't believe what I say just because I tell you that you believe it." I'm sure your intentions are correct, but I would think the interaction could be consistent with "ordinary adult interaction" with regards to manipulation and so on.

Personally, no, is that what he really talks about?

I've been in the collegiate environment for a while now and spent a lot of time around various people in academics, but I have consistently noticed a striking difference in people gifted in mathematics. I find that people with serious mathematical talent have an extremely propensity for thinking about mathematics. It's the most striking example of the sort of thing you're mentioning that I have ever come across. It's frequently given me the impression that mathematical talent is the academic talent that is most like athletics or sportsmanship in terms of just weird, unusually demonstrable performance characteristics.

It's difficult to be more specific than that, but when I started noticing this, it made me extremely interested in the sort of topic you're discussing. One of the ways this became apparent to me was when I realized that it wasn't just the difference between someone being stupid and smart, or something generic like that. I think at first I was disconcerted by this level of mathematical aptitude in some people, but then eventually after getting to know a lot of people like this I realized I could still hold my own with them, the aptitude wasn't some kind of signal for all around mental supremacy. I'm sure many people in my profession and people in various other areas of academia (biology, chemistry, all the engineering areas, philosophy, etc.) are just as "generically smart" as pure mathematicians, but when it comes to high level mathematics, it's astonishing what kind of massive gap you can observe between two people who are both "generically smart".

My personal intuition is that this really comes down to a brain wiring functionality that is peculiar to mathematical talent, since doing mathematics and doing proofs has such specific, strenuous requirements on serial logic processing, memory, symbolic representation, and so on. These constraints aren't that specific in nature, but they are much more about just doing ordinary things at a very high level of functionality. For example, mathematicians have to have a very high capability in learning new definitions and inserting them into their knowledge base, reminiscent of language, but it's essentially a task that all of us are able to do already, just not as well or as speedily. Hanging around mathematicians, you just start to get the feeling their minds are acting a lot more like computers than the rest of us, for example, just performing basic serial logic at an unusually high frequency.

Building a mind from scratch sounds much easier.

I disagree -- I would argue that, in principle, simulating/emulating a mind would be much easier than building a mind from scratch. My main justification is that simulating a brain is much more straightforward than building one from scratch. They are both undoubtedly extremely difficult tasks, but we are much closer to being able to accomplish the simulation. As a rough measure of this, you can try to look at where current companies and researchers are placing their bets on the problem. For example, brain simulation is a field which is already maturing rapidly (IBM's project being a keynote example), whereas the state of the art of "mind design from scratch", as it were, is still essentially speculative. Some groups like Goertzel's team and others are looking at it, but no big company is taking on the task.

I am a grad student in physics in Wisconsin, I'm 26. I had another LW account for a while and participated some, but found the forum really frustrating. I strongly disagree with many of the aspects I encountered then, such as (but in no particular order) style of discussion, closed mindedness or willingness to nitpick, difficulty to convey opinion, sense of establishment set of correct opinions, poor writing styles, overly analytical discussion, ineffective karma system, and so on. Then again, it also appeared to me a place of unusually high quality discussion on the internet. Nevertheless I still reserve the right to be extremely critical, but maybe it's time to start looking at some of the stuff again.

I just got a hernia surgery yesterday and I'm currently on painkillers. I'm taking two philosophy courses now but when I'm done, I'll be done with classes, so I'm very happy about that. I'm not sure if I see myself staying in my specific field of physics, long term. After I graduate, I want to move to a very big city. I think of humor as being very important in my major relationships, perhaps the single most important thing for me for having fun with others. I definitely lean towards the absurd end of the spectrum, I love satire and I hate the sense of people taking themselves so seriously. I really believe in a sense of justice and I am dismayed by people who behave as assholes. I have a tendency to perceive and act in a formalistic way, writing very formally, and so on, perhaps through the personality of my dad who raised me. I am a big fan of literature and philosophy and the art of writing, but my mind and memory tend to be very visually oriented so that I don't tend to remember a lot of word-for-word type details, but I remember images really well. As a theoretical physicist, I am extremely interested in mathematics but my aptitude in pure mathematics, while appreciable, is not academically competitive. Last but not least, I am finding it very difficult to meet women and make long lasting relationships (or even short relationships) with the opposite sex, and it is increasingly bothering me as I start to get older and find more biological urgency in the situation.