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Open Problems Related to Solomonoff Induction

I'm not sure what you're trying to say here, but if you consider this a relative weakness of Solomonoff Induction, then I think you're looking at it the wrong way. We will know it as well as we possibly could given the evidence available. Humans are subject to the constraints that Solomonoff Induction is subject to, and more.

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Public Service Announcement Collection

Hrrm. I don't think it's that simple. Looking at that page, I imagine nonprogrammers wonder:

  • What are comments?
  • What are strings?
  • What is this "#=>" stuff?
  • "primitives"?
  • ... This seems to be written for people who are already familiar with some other language. Better to show a couple of examples so that they recognize patterns and become curious.
The Mere Cable Channel Addition Paradox

What is this Overall Value that you speak of, and why do the parts that you add matter? It seems to me that you're just making something up to rationalize your preconceptions.

Stupid Questions Open Thread Round 4

Hm, I've been trying to get rid of one particular habit (drinking while sitting at my computer) for a long time. Recently I've considered the possibility of giving myself a reward every time I go to the kitchen to get a beer and come back with something else instead. The problem was that I couldn't think of a suitable reward (there's not much that I like). I hadn't thought of just making something up, like pieces of paper. Thanks for the inspiration!

Do you have specific ideas useful for resolving this question?

Fear of death doesn't mean death is bad in the same way that fear of black people doesn't mean black people are bad. (Please forgive me the loaded example.)

Fear of black people, or more generally xenophobia, evolved to facilitate kin selection and tribalism. Fear of death evolved for similar reasons, i.e., to make more of "me". We don't know what we mean by "me", or if we do then we don't know what's valuable about the existence of one "me" as opposed to another, and anyway evolution meant something different by "me" (genes rather than organisms).

It's usually best to avoid using the word "rationality" in such contexts.

I actually meant rationality here, specifically instrumental rationality, i.e., "is it getting in the way of us achieving our goals?".

I feel like this thread has gotten derailed and my original point lost, so let me contrive a thought experiment to hopefully be more clear.

Suppose that someone named Alice dies today, but at the moment she ceases to exist, Betty is born. Betty is a lot like Alice in that she has a similar personality, will grow up in a similar environment and will end up affecting the world in similar ways. What of fundamental value was lost when Alice died that Betty's birth did not replace? (The grief for Alice's death and the joy for Betty's birth have instrumental value, as did Alice's acquired knowledge.)

If you find that I've set this up to fit my conclusions, then I don't think we disagree.

Because it feels good. My ongoing survival leaves me cold entirely.

It's different. The fact that I feel bad when confronted with my own mortality doesn't mean that mortality is bad. The fact that I feel bad when so confronted does mean that the feeling is bad.

Emotions clearly support non-fungibility, in particular concerning your own life, and it's a strong argument.

I (now) understand how the existence of certain emotions in certain situations can serve as an argument for or against some proposition, but I don't think the emotions in this case form that strong an argument. There's a clear motive. It was evolution, in the big blue room, with the reproductive organs. It cares about the survival of chunks of genetic information, not about the well-being of the gene expressions.

Thanks for helping me understand the negative response. My claim here is not about the value of life in general, but about the value of some particular "person" continuing to exist. I think the terminal value of this ceasing to exist is zero. Since posting my top-level comment I have provided some arguments in favor of my case, and also hopefully clarified my position.

Not for the Sake of Pleasure Alone

I accept this objection; I cannot describe in physical terms what "pleasure" refers to.

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