# All of JohnSidles's Comments + Replies

Cambridge Meetup: Talk by Eliezer Yudkowsky: Recursion in rational agents

A preprint would be terrific too.

A tough(?) question and a tougher(?) question: When self-modifying AI's are citizens of Terry Tao's Island of the Blue-Eyed People/AIs, can the AIs trust one another to keep the customs of the Island? On this same AI-island, when the AI's play the Newcomb's Paradox Game, according to the rules of balanced advantage, can the PredictorAIs outwit the ChooserAIs, and still satisfy the island's ProctorAIs?

Questions in this class are tough (as they seem to me), and it is good to see that they are being creatively formalized.

Quotes and Notes on Scott Aaronson’s "The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine"

gjm asserts "Of the various ways to understand the quantum mechanics involved in the Standard Model, the clear winner is "many worlds"

LOL ... by that lenient standard, the first racehorse out of the gate, or the first sprinter out of the blocks, can reasonably be proclaimed "the clear winner" ... before the race is even finished!

That's a rational announcement only for very short races. Surely there is very little evidence that the course that finishes at comprehensive understanding of Nature's dynamics ... is a short course?

2gjm9yActually I clearly and explicitly went out of my way to say I wasn't asserting that. Bored of being laughed at out loud now. (Twice in one short thread is enough.) Bye.
Quotes and Notes on Scott Aaronson’s "The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine"

gjm avers: 'When Eliezer says that QM is "non-mysterious' ... He's arguing against a particular sort of mysterianism"

That may or may not be the case, but there is zero doubt that this assertion provides rhetorical foundations for the essay And the Winner is... Many-Worlds!.

A valuable service of the mathematical literature relating to geometric mechanics is that it instills a prudent humility regarding assertions like "the Winner is... Many-Worlds!" A celebrated meditation of Alexander Grothendieck expresses this humility:

"

Quotes and Notes on Scott Aaronson’s "The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine"

gjm avers "Landsberg that has a section headed "Clash of cultures" but it could not by any reasonable stretch be called an essay. It's only a few paragraphs long."

LOL ... gjm, you must really dislike Lincoln's ultra-short Gettysburg Address!

More seriously, isn't the key question whether Landsberg's essay is correct to assert that "there are language and even philosophical barriers to be overcome", in communicating modern geometric insights to STEM researchers trained in older mathematical techniques?

Most seriously of all,... (read more)

1gjm9yNo, I think it's excellent (though I prefer the PowerPoint version [http://norvig.com/Gettysburg/]), but it isn't an essay. That sentence appears to me to embody some assumptions you're not in a position to make reliably. Notably: That I think, or thought until John Sidles kindly enlightened me, that Eliezer's QM essays are anything like a complete exposition of QM. As it happens, that wasn't my opinion; for that matter I doubt it is or was even Eliezer's. In particular, when Eliezer says that QM is "non-mysterious" I don't think he means that everything about it is understood, that there are no further scientific puzzles to solve. He certainly doesn't mean it isn't possible to pick a mathematical framework for talking about QM and then contemplate generalizations. He's arguing against a particular sort of mysterianism one often hears in connection with QM -- the sort that says, roughly, "QM is counterintuitive, which means no one really understands it or can be expected to understand it, so the right attitude towards QM is one of quasi-mystical awe", which is the kind of thing that makes Chopraesque quantum woo get treated with less contempt than it deserves. Even Newtonian mechanics is mysterious in the sense that there are unsolved problems associated with it. (For instance: What are all the periodic 3-body trajectories? What is the right way to think about the weird measure-zero situations -- involving collisions of more than two particles -- in which the usual rules of Newtonian dynamics constrain what happens next without, prima facie, fully determining it?) But no one talks about Newtonian mechanics in the silly way some people talk about quantum mechanics, and it's that sort of quantum silliness Eliezer is (at least, as I understand it) arguing against. I think at least one of us has a serious misunderstanding of what's generally meant by the phrase "not even wrong". To me, it means "sufficiently vague or confused that it doesn't even yield the sort of t
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 21, chapters 91 & 92

Edit 1: Kudos to "gjm" (see above) for pointing to Spivak's page on Amazon!

Edit 2: Spivak's Hogwarts proof implicitly uses a fundamental theorem in differential geometry that is called Cartan's Magic Formula ... this oblique magical reference is Spivak's joke ... as with many magical formulas, the origins of Cartan's formula are obscure.

Regrettably, tgb, even the redoubtable Google Books does not provide page-images for Spivak's Physics for Mathematicians: Mechanics I. The best advice I can give is to seek this book within a university library

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 21, chapters 91 & 92

LOL --- perhaps a chief objective of the Ministry of Magic is to conceive and require obfuscating interfaces to magic! That would explain a lot!

Parallels to real-world high-school and/or undergraduate mathematical education ... are left as an exercise. :)

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 21, chapters 91 & 92

For a professional-grade comment on "muggle math" versus "Hogwarts math", see Michael Spivak's Physics for Mathematicians: Mechanics I.

To express this point another way ... how likely is it, that Harry's final understanding of magic will be non-mathematical? What grade of mathematical abstraction capabilities will Harry need to acquire?

2tgb9yI can't find the particular proofs of Noether theorems that your link refers to. Can you help me find them? I see no instances of the word "muggle" in Spivak's paper - in fact no index at all. Is there a different version of it? Please help, as I would greatly appreciate reading this! Edit: I see now that the comment was referring to a book by Spivak, and that the linked PDF is only on 'elementary mechanics.'
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 21, chapters 91 & 92

Conspicuously absent from the canon, and from Methods of Rationality (so far) --- and absent entirely from the Hogwarts curriculum --- are two fundamental elements of rational cognition:

• mathematics, and
• artificial intelligences (AIs)

Therefore

Postulate 1 "Magic" is the name that witches, wizards, and muggles alike give to the practice of manipulating physical reality by negotiation with agents that are (artificial? primordial? evolved? accidentally created?) intelligences.

Postulate 2 "Magical Spells" is the name that witches, wiza

2elharo9y1. Both canon and HPMoR have arithmancy. In HPMoR, "Harry and Professor McGonagall had bought his textbooks from Flourish and Blotts just under the deadline. With only a slight explosion when Harry had made a beeline for the keyword 'Arithmancy' and discovered that the seventh-year textbooks invoked nothing more mathematically advanced than trigonometry." And Harry really shouldn't have exploded. Many real world Muggle schools don't get as far as trigonometry by the end of high school, and they don't have to spend any time on charms or transfiguration. 2. Ryvmvre unf fgngrq gung guvf vf abg na NV fgbel.
9DanArmak9yAbominable Conclusion 1: the AIs that first negotiated with humanity, thousands of years ago, to levitate objects on command, had insisted that humans speak the protocol words... Wingardium Leviosa.
Quotes and Notes on Scott Aaronson’s "The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine"

An elaboration of the above argument now appears on Shtetl Optimized, essentially as a meditation on the question: What strictly mathematical proposition would comprise rationally convincing evidence that the key linear-quantum postulates of "One Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine* amount to “an unredeemed claim [that has] become a roadblock rather than an inspiration” (to borrow an apt phrase from Jaffe and Quinn's arXiv:math/9307227).

Readers of Not Even Wrong seeking further (strictly mathematical) mathematical illumination in regard to these issue... (read more)

Quotes and Notes on Scott Aaronson’s "The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine"

Shminux, it may be that you will find that your concerns are substantially addressed by Joshua Landsberg's Clash of Cultures essay (2012), which is cited above.

"These conversations [are] very stressful to all involved ... there are language and even philosophical barriers to be overcome."

Quotes and Notes on Scott Aaronson’s "The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine"

The entanglement(s) of hot-noisy-evolved biological cognition with abstract ideals of cognition that Eliezer Yudkowsky vividly describes in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, and the quantum entanglement(s) of dynamical flow with the physical processes of cognition that Scott Aaronson vividly describes in Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine, both find further mathematical/social/philosophical echoes in Joshua Landsberg's Tensors: Geometry and Applications (2012), specifically in Landsberg's thought-provoking introductory section Section 0.3: Clas... (read more)

0JohnSidles9yAn elaboration of the above argument now appears on Shtetl Optimized, essentially as a meditation on the question: What strictly mathematical proposition would comprise rationally convincing evidence that the key linear-quantum postulates of "One Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine* amount to “an unredeemed claim [that has] become a roadblock rather than an inspiration [http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=1438#comment-81146]” (to borrow an apt phrase from Jaffe and Quinn's arXiv:math/9307227 [http://arxiv.org/abs/math/9307227]). Readers of Not Even Wrong seeking further (strictly mathematical) mathematical illumination in regard to these issues may wish to consult Arnold Neumaier and Dennis Westra's textbook-in-progress Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie Algebras [http://arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019] (arXiv:0810.1019, 2011), whose Introduction states: That the Neumaier/Westra textbook is an unfinished work-in-progress constitutes proof prima facie that the final tractatus upon these much-discussed logico-physico-philosophicus issues has yet to be written! :)
Quotes and Notes on Scott Aaronson’s "The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine"

Quantum aficionados in the mold of Eliezer Yudkowsky will have fun looking up "Noether's Theorem" in the index to Michael Spivak's well-regarded Physics for Mathematicians: Mechanics I, because near to it we notice an irresistible index entry "Muggles, 576", which turns out to be a link to:

Theorem The flow of any Hamiltonian vector field consists of canonical transformations

Proof (Hogwarts version) ...

Proof (Muggles version) ...

Remark It is striking that Dirac's The Principles of Quantum Mechanics (1930), Feynman's Lectures on ... (read more)

3gjm9yThe thing you link to is not anything by Joshua Landsberg, but another of your own comments. That in turn does link to something by Landsberg that has a section headed "Clash of cultures" but it could not by any reasonable stretch be called an essay. It's only a few paragraphs long and about half of it is a quotation from Plato. (It also makes no explicit allusion to Spivak's Hogwarts-Muggles distinction, though I agree it's pointing at much the same divergence.)
Quotes and Notes on Scott Aaronson’s "The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine"

Shminux, perhaps some Less Wrong readers will enjoy the larger reflection of our differing perspectives that is provided by Arthur Jaffe and Frank Quinn’s ‘Theoretical mathematics’: Toward a cultural synthesis of mathematics and theoretical physics (Bull. AMS 1993, arXiv:math/9307227, 188 citations); an article that was notable for its biting criticism of Bill Thurston's geometrization program.

Thurston's gentle, thoughtful, and scrupulously polite response On proof and progress in mathematics (Bull. AMS 1994, arXiv:math/9307227, 389 citations) has emerged ... (read more)

Quotes and Notes on Scott Aaronson’s "The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine"

Thank you for your gracious remarks, Paper-Machine. Please let me add, that few (or possibly none) of the math/physics themes of the preceding posts are original to me (that's why I give so many references!)

Students of quantum history will find pulled-back/non-linear metric and symplectic quantum dynamical flows discussed as far back as Paul Dirac's seminal Note on exchange phenomena in the Thomas atom (1930); a free-as-in-freedom review of the nonlinear quantum dynamical frameworks that came from Dirac's work (nowadays called the "Dirac-Frenkel-M... (read more)

2JohnSidles9yQuantum aficionados in the mold of Eliezer Yudkowsky [http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/FanFic/HarryPotterAndTheMethodsOfRationality] will have fun looking up "Noether's Theorem" in the index to Michael Spivak's well-regarded [http://mathoverflow.net/questions/51395/a-soft-introduction-to-physics-for-mathematicians-who-dont-know-the-first-thing/51414#51414] Physics for Mathematicians: Mechanics I, because near to it we notice an irresistible index entry "Muggles, 576", which turns out to be a link to: Remark It is striking that Dirac's The Principles of Quantum Mechanics (1930), Feynman's Lectures on Physics (1965), Nielsen and Chuang's Quantum Computation and Quantum Information (2000)---and Scott Aaronson's essay The Ghost in the Turing Machine (2013) too---all frame their analysis exclusively in terms of (what Michael Spivak aptly calls) Muggle mathematic methods! :) Observation Joshua Landsberg has written an essay Clash of Cultures [http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/hq7/quotes_and_notes_on_scott_aaronsons_the_ghost_in/97m3] (2012) that discusses the sustained tension between Michael Spivak's "Hogwarts math versus Muggle math". The tension has historical roots that extent at least as far back as Karl Gauss' celebrated apprehension regarding the "the clamor of the Boeotians [http://books.google.com/books?id=vrQLbbxGNMsC&pg=PA54]" (aka Muggles). Conclusion Michael Spivak's wry mathematical jokes and Eliezer Yudkowsky's wonderfully funny Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality both help us to appreciate that outdated Muggle-mathematical idioms of standard textbooks and philosophical analysis are a substantial impediment to 21st Century learning and rational discourse of all varieties---including philosophical discourse.
Quotes and Notes on Scott Aaronson’s "The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine"

Shminux, there are plenty of writers---mostly far more skilled than me!---who have attempted to connect our physical understanding of dynamics to our mathematical understanding of dynamical flows. So please don't let my turgid expository style needlessly deter you from reading this literature!

In this regard, Michael Spivak's works are widely acclaimed; in particular his early gem Calculus on Manifolds: a Modern Approach to Classical Theorems of Advanced Calculus (1965) and his recent tome Physics for Mathematicians: Mechanics I (2010) (and in a comment on... (read more)

Quotes and Notes on Scott Aaronson’s "The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine"

Gjm asks "Along what vector field V are you taking the Lie derivative?

The natural answer is, along a Hamiltonian vector field. Now you have all the pieces needed to ask (and even answer!) a broad class of questions like the following:

• Alice possesses a computer of exponentially large memory and clock speed, upon which she unravels the Hilbert-space trajectories that are associated to the overall structure $\(M,g,\\omega,J,L,H\$), where $M$ is a Hilbert-space (considered as a manifold), $g$ is its metric, $\\omega$ is its symplectic form, $J$ is the complex structure induced by $\(M,g,\\omega\$), and $\(L,H\$)

Quotes and Notes on Scott Aaronson’s "The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine"

• the quantum dynamical framework of (say) Abhay Ashtekar and Troy Schilling's Geometrical Formulation of Quantum Mechanics arXiv:gr-qc/9706069v1, and

• the quantum measurement framework of (say) Carlton Caves' on-line notes Completely positive maps, positive maps, and the Lindblad form, both pullback naturally onto

• the varietal frameworks of (say) Joseph Landsberg's Tensors: Geometry and Applications

Textbooks like Andrei Moroianu's Lectures on Kahler Geometry and Mikio Nakahara's Geometry, Topolo... (read more)

0[anonymous]9y(reposted with proper nesting above [http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/hq7/quotes_and_notes_on_scott_aaronsons_the_ghost_in/96su] ) The natural answer is, along a Hamiltonian vector field. Now you have all the pieces needed to ask (and even answer!) a broad class of questions like the following: * Alice possesses a computer of exponentially large memory and clock speed, upon which she unravels the Hilbert-space trajectories that are associated to the overall structure ), where is a Hilbert-space (considered as a manifold), is its metric, is its symplectic form, is the complex structure induced by ), and ) are the (stochastic,smooth) Lindblad and Hamiltonian potentials that are associated to a physical system that Alice is simulating. Alice thereby computes a (stochastic) classical data-record as the output of her unraveling. * Bob pulls-back ) onto his lower-dimension varietal manifold (per Joseph Landsberg's recipes), upon which he unravels the pulled-back trajectories, thus obtaining (like Alice) a classical data-record as the output of his unraveling (but using far-fewer computational resources). Then It is natural to consider questions like the following: Is this a mathematically well-posed question? Definitely! Is it a scientifically open question? Yes! Does it have practical engineering consequences? Absolutely! What philosophical implications would a "yes" answer have for Scott's freebit thesis? Philosophical questions are of course tougher to answer than mathematical, scientific, or engineering questions, but one reasonable answer might be "The geometric foaminess of algebraic state-spaces induces Knightian undertainty in quantum unravelings that is computationally indistinguishable from the dynamical effects that are associated to primordial freebits." Are these questions interesting? Here is it neither feasible, nor necessary, nor desirable that everyone think alike!
1gjm9y(Who's JLM?) I don't think you actually answered any of my questions; was that deliberate? Anyway, it seems that (1) the general description in terms of Kähler manifolds is a somewhat nonstandard way of formulating "ordinary" quantum mechanics; (2) J does indeed play the role of i, kinda, since one way you can think about Kähler manifolds is that you start with a symplectic manifold and then give it a local complex structure; (3) yes, M is basically a phase space; (4) you see some great significance in the idea that some Lie derivative of J might be nonzero, but haven't so far explained (a) whether that is a possibility within standard QM or a generalization beyond standard QM, or (b) along what vector field V you're taking the Lie derivative (it looks -- though I don't understand this stuff well at all -- as if it's more natural to take the derivative of something else along J, rather than the derivative of J along something else), or (c) why you regard this as importance. And I still don't see that there's any connection between this and Scott's stuff about free will. (That paragraph you added -- is it somehow suggesting that "dynamic-J methods" for simulation can somehow pull out information that according to Scott is in principle inaccessible? Or what?)
Quotes and Notes on Scott Aaronson’s "The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine"

"Every mathematician knows that it is impossible to understand any elementary course in thermodynamics."

This saying is doubly true of quantum mechanics. For example, the undergraduate quantum physics notion of "multiply a quantum vector by $i$" is not so easy to convey without mentioning the number "$i$." Here's how the trick is accomplished. We regard Hilbert space as a real manifold $M$ that is equipped with a symplectic form $\omega$ and a metric $g$. Given an (arbitrary) vector fi... (read more)

3gjm9yAre you describing * a (nonstandard?) formalism equivalent to other standard ways of doing quantum mechanics? * an actually existing theory of quantumish mechanics, genuinely different from others, that makes predictions that match experiment as well as the existing theories do? * a sketch of how you hope some future theory might look? * something else? It sounds as if your endomorphism J is supposed to play the role of i somehow, but how? What do you actually do with it, and why? What is your manifold M actually supposed to be, and why? Is it just a formal feature of the theory, or is it meant to be spacetime, or some kind of phase space, or what?
2shminux9yI cannot tell whether your writing style indicates an inability to bridge an inferential gap or an attempt at status smash ("I'm so smart, look at all the math I know, relevant or not!"). I will assume that it's the former, but will disengage, anyway, given how unproductive this exchange has been so far. Next time, consider using the language appropriate for your audience, if you want to get your point across.
Quotes and Notes on Scott Aaronson’s "The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine"

Thank you gjm. To the best of my understanding, (1) all markup glitches are fixed; (2) all links are live; and (3) an added paragraph (fourth-from-last) now explicitly links dynamic-J methods to Scott's notion of "freebits".

Quotes and Notes on Scott Aaronson’s "The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine"

Gjm, after a round-of-suffering with the LaTeX equation editor, any-and-all markup glitches in the above comment now seem to be fixed (at least, the comment now parses OK on FireFox/OSX and Safari/OSX). Please let me know if you are encountering any remaining markup-relating problems, and if so, I will attempt to fix them.

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply
1gjm9yNo, it's OK now. The funny thing is that the glitch doesn't seem to have been near any of your LaTeX bits. I confess that I don't really see the connection between your comment and Scott's essay, beyond the fact that both have something to do with Scott's opinions on quantum mechanics.
Quotes and Notes on Scott Aaronson’s "The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine"

Rancor commonly arises when STEM discussions in general, and discussions of quantum mechanics in particular, focus upon personal beliefs and/or personal aesthetic sensibilities, as contrasted with verifiable mathematical arguments and/or experimental evidence and/or practical applications.

In this regard, a pertinent quotation is the self-proclaimed "personal belief" that Scott asserts on page 46:

"One obvious way to enforce a macro/micro distinction would be via a dynamical collapse theory. ... I personally cannot believe that Nature would