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The Failures of Eld Science

There is more to productivity than not engaging in pleasurable hobbies. I am willing to extend EY the benefit of the doubt and believe he has done some cost/benefit analysis regarding his time management.

In any case, the point is mute - he is not publishing fiction anymore.

The Failures of Eld Science

If it is any consolation, I remember reading a post or an Author's Note from EY, saying he won't be publishing any new fiction for fear of reputational losses.

This is why we can't have nice things.

The Power of Intelligence

For every mental strength we confidently point to, there will be an excellent physical strength we could also point to as a proximate cause, and vice versa.

I agree with you. I just find the particulars oddly inspiring - even if we are not the fastest land hunters, we are genetically the most persistent. This is a lesson from biology that bears thinking about.

Also, we could point to our physical strengths, but people usually don't. We collectively have this body image of ourselves as being "squishy", big brains compensating for weak, frail bodies. I like disabusing that notion.

Reductive Reference

I see your point. But if water didn’t always boil at the same temperature, why would we bother inventing thermometers?

We have more need to measure the unpredictable than the predictable.

If there was nothing with constant temperature, thermometers would work very differently. My first instinct was to say they wouldn't work at all. But then I remembered the entire field of economics, so your point stands.

Not every one sees things that way. The more hardline claims require the physical map to exclude others.

Good luck with that. I couldn't calculate the behaviour of the quarks in a single hydrogen atom if my life depended on it.

Dark Side Epistemology

Thank you for this discussion.

I was wrong about grammar and the views of Chalmers, which is worse. Since I couldn't be bothered to read him myself, I shouldn't have parroted the interpretations of someone else.

I now have better understanding of your position, which is, in fact, falsifiable.

We do agree on the importance of the question of consciousness. And even if we expect the solution to have different shape, we both expect it to be embedded in physics (old or new).

I hope I've somewhat clarified my own views. But if not, I don't expect to do better in future comments, so I will bow out.

Again, thank you for the discussion.

Dark Side Epistemology

But note that Linux is a noun and "conscious" is an adjective—another type error—so your analogy doesn't communicate clearly.

Linux is also an adjective - linux game/shell/word processor.

Still, let me rephrase then - I don't need a wet cpu to simulate water. Why would I need a conscious cpu to simulate consciousness?

AFAIK, you are correct that we have no falsifiable predictions as of yet.

Do you expect this to change? Chalmers doesn't. In fact, expecting to have falsifiable predictions is itself a falsifiable prediction. So you should drop the "yet". Only then can you see your position for the null hypothesis it is.

The most obvious problem—that there is no "objective" subjective experience, qualia, or clear boundaries on consciousness in principle (you could invent a definition that identifies a "boundary" or "experience", but surely someone else could invent another definition with different boundaries in edge cases)—tends not to be perceived as a problem by illusionists, which is mysterious to me.

There is not a single concept, that could not be redefined. If this is a problem, it is not unique to consciousness.

"A process currently running on human brains" -although far from being a complete definition, already gives us some boundaries.

I think you're saying the suffering has no specific location (in my hypothetical scenario), but that it still exists, and that this makes sense and you're fine with it; I'm saying I don't get it.

Suffering is a state of mind. The physical location is the brain.

By stimulating different parts of the brain, we can cause suffering (and even happiness).

Another way to think about it is this - where does visual recognition happen? How about arithmetic? Both required a biological brain for a long, long time.

And for the hipothetical scenario - let's say I am playing CS and I throw a grenade - where does it explode?

But perhaps illusionism's consequences are a problem? In particular, in a future world filled with AGIs, I don't see how morality can be defined in a satisfactory way without an objective way to identify suffering. How could you ever tell if an AGI is suffering "more" than a human, or than another AGI with different code? (I'm not asking for an answer, just asserting that a problem exists.)

That's only the central problem of all of ethics, is it not? Objective morality? How could you tell if a human is suffering more than another human?

I don't see how qualia helps you with that one. It would be pretty bold to exclude AGIs from your moral considerations, before excluding trees (and qualia has not helped you exclude trees!).

Edit: I now realize your position has little to do with Chalmers. Since you are postulating a qualia particle, which has casual effects, you are a substance dualist. But why rob your position of its falsifiable prediction? Namely - before the question of consciousness is solved, the qualia particle will be found.

Or am I misrepresenting you again?

Reductive Reference

How do you know that water always boils at the same temperature?

I remember reading it somewhere...

I see your point. But if water didn't always boil at the same temperature, why would we bother inventing thermometers?

The moral of the story is not so much that science always works, it's that it works in a way that's more coherentist than foundationalist.

Right. And since science does work, coherentism gets a big boost in probability, right until the sun stop rising every day.

And the downside of coherentism is that you can have more than one equally coherent wordlviews...

But would they work equally well? We value science primarily for giving us results, not for being coherent.

If both views are equally coherent and give us equal result (or the results are unclear as of yet), choosing one would be privileging the hipotesis.

Reductive Reference

Edit: Now I see Sister_Y addressed my point in the very next paragraph, so this entire comment is a reading comprehension fail more than anything.


poke - my friend likes to explain this to his undergrads by asking them how they would verify that a thermometer is accurate (check it against another thermometer, but how do you know that one is accurate . . . etc.) until they figure out that thermometers are only "accurate" according to custom or consensus. Then he asks them how they know their eyes work. And their memories.

Some of them cry.

Go to the beach, light a fire, boil some water. Put the thermometer in the boiled water - does it show 100 degrees Celsius? Still at sea level, put a cup of water in a fridge untill it starts freezing. Put the thermometer in the cup - does it show 0 degrees Celsius?

If yes to both, you have a working thermometer. This way, you don't rely on the consensus of other thermometers. As for the custom of calling a working thermometer accurate - that's what it is for.

Eyes and memory can be similarly tested.

Of course, accepting the results of such tests requires acceptance of induction from the past. Maybe the realization you've faced "Last Thursdayism" for the first time at undergraduate level is something to cry about, but no one actually does.

Lest I sound too smug, rest assured I am not convinced I would've done better before finding Less Wrong.

Is Humanism A Religion-Substitute?
A good "atheistic hymn" is simply a song about anything worth singing about that doesn't happen to be religious.

No, that's a good non-religious song. Without religion there would be no atheism, only the much broader scepticism. Atheism is a response to religion - to be considered "atheistic", a song could not avoid the topic. (Alternatively, we'd have to consider "Fear of the dark" a great aspiderman song).

The best atheistic song I've heard is "Dear God" by XTC - the last prayer of many a new atheist, who've lost faith, but not yet the habit of praying:

Dear God, hope you get the letter and
I pray you can make it better down here
I don't mean a big reduction in the price of beer
But all the people that you made in your image
See them starving on their feet
'Cause they don't get enough to eat from God
I can't believe in you

Dear God, sorry to disturb you but
I feel that I should be heard loud and clear
We all need a big reduction in amount of tears
And all the people that you made in your image
See them fighting in the street
'Cause they can't make opinions meet about God
I can't believe in you

Did you make disease and the diamond blue?
Did you make mankind after we made you?
And the Devil too!

Dear God don't know if you noticed but
Your name is on a lot of quotes in this book
And us crazy humans wrote it, you should take a look
And all the people that you made in your image
Still believing that junk is true
Well I know it ain't, and so do you
I can't believe in
I don't believe

I won't believe in heaven or hell
No saints, no sinners, no devil as well
No pearly gates, no thorny crown
You're always letting us humans down
The wars you bring, the babes you drown
Those lost at sea and never found
And it's the same the whole world 'round
The hurt I see helps to compound
The Father, Son and Holy Ghost
Is just somebody's unholy hoax
And if you're up there you'll perceive
That my heart's here upon my sleeve
If there's one thing I don't believe in

It's you

And yes, there is a very clear god-shaped void, the disappointment of a promise unfulfilled.

There is also an "epic vocals" cover by Lawless (feat. Sydney Wayser) that is more hymn-like - prettier, but less angry. Both are worth listening to.

[Edited: fromatting]

Explaining vs. Explaining Away

Because I believe things are what they are. Therefore if I introspect and see choice, then it really truly is choice. The other article might explain it, but an explanation can not change what a thing is, it can only say why it is.

An example of mind projection fallacy so pure, even I could recognise it. Ian believes "he believes things are what they are". If Ian actually believed things are what they are, he would possess unobtainable level of rationality and we would do well to use him as an oracle. In reality, Ian believes things are what they seem to be (to him), which is understandable, but far less impressive.

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