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Well, a lot of what you're doing here regarding consciousness and "zombies" seems to me like philosophy-of-the-gaps. If I'm not mistaken, Prof. Koch and his peers are the most literate (and adept) on where and how empirically derived evidence is filling in these gaps. I confess I'm not reading these ginormous posts from you carefully -but I'm curious why (as far as I can tell) you're not mucking around with cutting edge empiricism on consciousness with the same glee Robin's mucking around with cutting edge empiricism on behavioral economics, decision theory, etc.

Eliezer, why do you give more attention to Chalmers than to Professor Koch of Caltech?

Eliezer's not stupid. He's innovating a competitive mythology to promote increasing the base of cryonics users. Carl, it's hard to catch you making asinine comments but I think you slipped in this thread. So if a new blogger pops up quoting scripture to encourage christians to donate their brains to brain banks, are you going to debunk their arguments that scripture supports such donations? It's a subtraction from our commons for status points we're not even going to award you, in my opinion.

Alex, I admit I hope the fawning praisers, who are mostly anonymous, are Eliezer's sockpuppets. Rather than a dozen or more people on the internet who read Eliezer's posts and feel some desire to fawn. But it's mostly an aesthetic preference -I can't say it makes a real difference in accomplishing shared goals, beyond being a mild waste of time and energy.

"What if Eliezers weren't so damn rare"

The weird obsequiousness towards Eliezer makes yet another appearance on OB.

I kind of disagree with you. First, what we call "general intelligence" is itself a form of specialized intelligence: specializing optimizing successful outcomes in real time in our apparent reality. so the mix you recommend in "achieving great things" would itself be "general intelligence", not general intelligence plus something else (other than luck).

Since most people who "achieve great things" seem to me to be playing life at least in part as a poker game (they don't seem to put all their cards out on the table) I think outcomes may be a better measure than propaganda. "Increasingly, as one ages, one worries more about what one DOES, rather than about abstract characterizations of one's capability." I'm not sure that comes from wisdom, rather than the rationally adjusted propaganda of an older person (look at my status enabled institutional power to achieve) contrasted with that of the younger person (look at my superior capabilities, with a brain at its physical prime).

Interesting old mindhacks article touches on some of these themes (how we arrive at certainties/decisions):


Constant, I think you're a bit stuck on your conclusion, and working backwards from it. But this latest post helps me realize both you and Eliezer may be in a map vs. territory trap here. The map indicates capacity to go in more than one direction and hence the capacity for a choice. But, there is a preference in the territory that hasn't been added to the map yet. Doesn't mean it's not in the territory. It's possible that what you've been calling choice is just a blank section of the map.

"No, it is not what I mean. A person chooses among actions A, B, and C, if he has the capacity to perform any of A, B, or C, and in fact performs (say) C. It does not matter whether he deliberates or not. The distinction between capacity and incapacity takes many forms; in the definition which I quoted the capacity/incapacity distinction takes the form of an affordability/unaffordability distinction."

There's a game going on here with "capacity", in my estimation. Perhaps not too different from saying I have the capacity to fly to the moon if not for gravity. Or the capacity to fly to the Andromeda galaxy if not for the limiting speed of light. A person has the capacity to perform A, B, or C if not for that revealed preference which constrains them to performing one of the three. "Choice" doesn't seem to enter into it, in my opinion, because the person may be functionally bounded to one, determined pathway, perhaps analogous to the way that I'm bounded from flying to the moon. I think it only adds to the the main economic theories to remain reasonably skeptical about the concept of choice, and of course open to the latest neuroscience findings and findings from other scientific fields, rather than accept a perhaps deliberately fuzzy definition of it to remain for political or aesthetic reasons.

Probably unecessary disclaimer: I'm far from an expert in economics, nor am I competently literate in the field, although I'm interested in the work.

constant: buys, eats, etc. Here it's not any more necessary to assert or imply deliberation (which is what I think you mean by saying "choice" is central for economic theory for the person than it is to assert it for an amoeba or for the direction a fire moves. It's true many great scientists informally use "choice" to describe the actions of non-human, and apparently non-sentient phenomena, and I wouldn't see the harm in doing so in an informal sense describing human actions if what I think is appropriate skepticism about conventionally intuitive models of "free will" and human experience of "choice" was maintained.

Sorry if this post isn't more clear. I'm forced to jot it off rather quickly, but I wanted to attempt the timely answer you deserve.

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