jdgalt

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The noncentral fallacy - the worst argument in the world?

I find this only a partly useful concept, since it is sometimes used to "discredit" arguments I consider quite valid, such as your last two examples. At most, if called on to defend either of those examples I would have to say more about why our usual condemnation of racism should apply to the entire category, and of why taking others' property without their consent should be condemned even when done by a group that some people consider ought to be allowed special privileges.

2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey

I would consider the genuinely self-aware systems to be real people. I suppose it's a matter of ethics (and therefore taste) whether or not that's important to you.

2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey

The obvious next question would be to ask if you're OK with your family being tortured under the various circumstances this would suggest you would be.

I've lost the context to understand this question.

How would you react to the idea of people being tortured over the cosmological horizon, outside your past or future light-cone? Or transferred to another, undetectable universe and tortured?

I mean, it's unverifiable, but strikes me as important and not at all meaningless. (But apparently I had misinterpreted you in any case.)

I don't like the idea of it happening. But if it does, I can certainly disclaim responsibility since it is by definition impossible that I can affect that situation if it exists.

The usual version of this I hear is from people who've read Minsky and/or Moravec, and feel we should treat any entity that can pass some reasonable Turing test as legally and morally human. I disagree because I believe a self-aware entity can be simulated -- maybe not perfectly, but to an arbitrarily high difficulty of disproving it -- by a program that is not self-aware. And if such a standard were enacted, interest groups would use it to manufacture a large supply of these fakes and have them vote and/or fight for their side of political questions.

Oh. That's an important distinction, yeah, but standard Singularity arguments suggest that by the time that would come up humans would no longer be making that decision anyway.

Um, if something is smart enough to solve every problem a human can, [how] relevant is the distinction? I mean, sure, it might (say) be lying about it's preferences, but ... surely it'll have exactly the same impact on society, regardless?

That appears to me to be an insoluble problem. Once intelligence (not a particular person but the quality itself) can be impersonated in quantity, how can any person or group know he/they are behaving fairly? They can't. This is another reason I'd prefer that the capability continue not to exist.

On the other hand, this sounds like a tribal battle-cry rather than a rational, non-mindkilled discussion.

It is. At some point I have trouble justifying the one without invoking the other. Some things are just so obvious to me, and so senselessly not-believed by many, that I see no peaceful way out other than dismissing those people. How do you argue with someone who isn't open to reason?

ahem ... I'm ... actually from the other tribe. Pretty heavily in favor of a Nanny Welfare State, and although I'm not sure I'd go quite so far as to say it's "obvious" and anyone who disagrees must be "senseless ... not open to reason".

Care to trade chains of logic? A welfare state, in particular, seems kind of really important from here.

I could argue about the likely consequences, but the logic chain behind my arguments is quite short and begins with postulates about individual rights that you probably don't accept.

When it comes down to it, ethics are entirely a matter of taste (though I would assert that they're a unique exception to the old saw "there's no accounting for taste" because a person's code of ethics determines whether he's trustworthy and in what ways).

I think the trouble with these sort of battle-cries is that they lead to, well, assuming the other side must be evil strawmen. It's a problem. (That's why political discussion is unofficially banned here, unless you make an effort to be super neutral and rational about it.)

One can't really have a moral code (or, I believe, self-awareness!) without using it to judge everyone and everything one sees or thinks of. This more or less demands one take the position that those who disagree are at least misguided, if not evil.

For the same reason, I never expect judges, journalists, or historians to be "unbiased" because I don't believe true "unbiasedness" is possible even in principle.

2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey

I've left most of the probability questions blank, because I don't think it is meaningfully possible to assign numbers to events I have little or no quantitative information about. For instance, I'll try P(Aliens) when we've looked at several thousand planets closely enough to be reasonably sure of answers about them.

I left them blank myself because I haven't developed the skill to do it, but the obvious other interpretation ... are you saying it's in-principle impossible to operate rationally under uncertainty?

No, I just don't think I can assign probability numbers to a guess. If forced to make a real-life decision based on such a question then I'll guess.

In addition, I don't think some of the questions can have meaningful answers. For example, the "Many Worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics, if true, would have no testable (falsifiable) effect on the observable universe, and therefore I consider the question to be objectively meaningless. The same goes for P(Simulation), and probably P(God).

Do you usually consider statements you don't anticipate being able to verify meaningless?

No, and I discussed that in another reply.

The obvious next question would be to ask if you're OK with your family being tortured uner the various circumstances this would suggest you would be.

I've lost the context to understand this question.

The singularity is vague, too. (And as I usually hear it described, I would see it as a catastrophe if it happened. The SF story "With Folded Hands" explains why.)

I believe I've read that story. Azimov-style robots prevent humans from interacting with the environment because they might be harmed and that would violate the First Law, right?

Yes. Eventually most human activity is banned. Any research or exploration that might make it possible for a human to get out from under the bots' rule is especially banned.

Could you go into more detail regarding how as you "usually hear it described" it would be a "catastrophe if it happened"? I can imagine a few possibilities but I'd like to be clearer on the thoughts behind this before commenting.

The usual version of this I hear is from people who've read Minsky and/or Moravec, and feel we should treat any entity that can pass some reasonable Turing test as legally and morally human. I disagree because I believe a self-aware entity can be simulated -- maybe not perfectly, but to an arbitrarily high difficulty of disproving it -- by a program that is not self-aware. And if such a standard were enacted, interest groups would use it to manufacture a large supply of these fakes and have them vote and/or fight for their side of political questions.

The stagnation is because of "progressive" politics, especially both the welfare state and overregulation/nanny-statism, which destroy most people's opportunities to innovate and profit by it.

Hmm. On the one hand, political stupidity does seem like a very serious problem that needs fixing and imposes massive opportunity costs on humanity. On the other hand, this sounds like a tribal battle-cry rather than a rational, non-mindkilled discussion.

It is. At some point I have trouble justifying the one without invoking the other. Some things are just so obvious to me, and so senselessly not-believed by many, that I see no peaceful way out other than dismissing those people. How do you argue with someone who isn't open to reason? You need the sales skill of a demagogue, which I haven't got.

Certainly the environmental movement, including its best known "scientists", have discredited themselves this way.

I don't know, I find most people don't identify such a pattern and thus avoid a BWCW effect;

What's that?

while most people above a certain standard of rationality are able to take advantage of evidence, public-spirited debunkers and patterns to screen out most of the noise. Your milage may vary, of course; I tend not to may much attention to environmental issues except when they impinge on something I'm already interested in, so perhaps this is harder at a higher volume of traffic.

One of the ways in which the demagogues have taken control of politics is to multiply political entities and the various debates, hearings, and elections they hold until no non-demagogue can hope to influence more than a vanishingly small fraction of them. This is another very common, nasty tactic that ought to have a name, although "Think globally, act locally" seems to be the slogan driving it.

Rationality Quotes November 2014

"When reason fails, boobs have a chance"

Katherine Mangu-Ward in Reason

A bit of humor.

Rationality Quotes November 2014

I don't buy it. We have many existing laws and spending programs that make us worse off than not having them (or, equivalently, leaving it up to the market rather than the taxpayers to provide them). The free market is known to work well enough, and broadly enough, that demanding "What would you replace it with?" when someone proposes ending one of those laws or programs is un-called-for. (If anyone really does doubt that the market will do better, the thing to do is to try it and see, not to demand proof that can't exist because the change in question hasn't been tried recently.) After a few repetitions, I simply lump the asker in with the kind of troll whose reply to every comment is "Cite?" and add him to my spam filter.

2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey

I think I see what you are trying to say, but I don't think the Boltzmann Cake Theory is comparable to Many Worlds.

In the Boltzmann Cake case, it may be impossible to physically test the theory (though I don't conclusively assume so -- there could well be some very subtle effect on the Sun's output that would facilitate such a test), but the question of fact it raises is still of objective fact.

But the truth or falsity of the Many Worlds Theory can only exist in a reference frame which spans the entire conceptual space in which the many worlds would have to coexist. And I don't believe such a frame can exist. The very fabric of logic itself requires a space-time in which to exist; without one (or extending beyond one) its very postulates become open to doubt.

2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey

I'm not sure what I could post here that would back that up: it requires some economics knowledge. I can refer you to good economics blogs such as Marginal Revolution and Cafe Hayek, or to Mises' Human Action.

It was MR that sent me here to LW in the first place.

2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey

I interpreted the two as completely disjunct. In other words anti-agathics would be drugs or treatments that prevent or repair the symptoms of aging. Some of the same tech (cell repair nanites) could potentially do both jobs, but if you have to be frozen to use the tech then I wouldn't call it anti-agathics. I guess I'm basing this usage on Blish's "They Shall Have Stars" which predicted it in the fifties.

2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey

If that's true I wish I'd known it before choosing keys.

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