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Omicron Variant Post #1: We’re F***ed, It’s Never Over

Regarding the link: Possibly you did not activate the markdown editor for your profile? 
In that case you can create one by marking the link-text: a hover-menu will appear with the option to add a link

Shoulder Advisors 101

Ah, this makes sense thanks!


I wouldn't say that this is what happens with Shoulder Advisors or with the no-self experience of meditation. There are many failure modes of the brain making sense of agency and identity.

This sounds right. Maybe the cases that I am concerned about additionally contain fear responses, and purely having a non-unified or unclear sense of self is more normal/safer than I thought. 

I Really Don't Understand Eliezer Yudkowsky's Position on Consciousness

It seems I am not as worried about gpt3 as you, but when listening to the  simulated interview with simulated Elon Musk by Lsusr in the clearer thinking podcast episode 073 (starts in minute 102), I was quite concerned

Harry Potter and the Methods of Psychomagic | Chapter 2: The Global Neuronal Workspace

Parts like

“Dumbledore gave you this?” Hermione gasped. 
“Yes… he didn’t really explain why. But then he couldn’t explain the rock either.”


But the warm glow of academic pride washed over her face all the same.

are really well-done. It feels as if your writing could have been part of HPMOR.

Thank you!

Shoulder Advisors 101

Thanks for your reply,
am an unsure whether I am correctly understanding your position:

  • Would you agree that some of the aspects that make the ego/self different compared to shoulder advisors are the ones that I stated? (it doesn't seem to contradict the formulation 'privileged shoulder advisor' as far as I can tell)
  • The 'matter of degree'-question where our views differ is about the question whether there are such things as 'shoulder advisors+' that are e.g. halfway between a pure shoulder advisor and the ego?


If I am not misunderstanding you, this is a really interesting disagreement. To me, this topic is almost an alief-level view and I might have fallen for cognitive fusion. To possibly help with misunderstandings, I'll just throw out my current thoughts on the topic. I expect there to be major mistakes or at least gaps in there, but I will not be able to improve them without working with them. Of course, it is also not necessary to solve our disagreement if you find it less interesting.

My current position: In principle, the agentic unity of the ego can be lost and instead scattered onto different agentic-type thought processes (think trauma, dissociation, identity disorders etc.). My impression is that this is usually quite harmful to the individual and generally not sth to strive for.
Then there is a more or less separate 'space of agentic-type thought processes' that leans more toward 'abstract world-modelling', 'agent-modelling' and 'abstract-goal-pursuing' and less toward 'episodic memories', 'bodily sensations', 'bodily urges' and 'fight or flight response'. 
Here, although most people tend towards unity from the ego plus a large number of simple goal-processes plus modelling people, it is possible and largely non-dangerous to build towards a number of larger bundles of thought processes such as shoulder advisors.

Shoulder Advisors 101

My thoughts on this are mostly from introspection. When I try to imagine a shoulder advisor in comparison to my self (note that I do not have shoulder advisors currently), there seem to be some additional properties to my self which a should advisor would not have.

Trying to get at the differences, what comes up is:

  • bodily sensations and urges are 'directly fed into and fuel (/delegate vote power to)' my self, but not shoulder advisors
  • decisions on movement likewise are directly connected to myself, while shoulder advisors are only influencing my mental dialogue/perception
  • similarly with things like 'felt responsibility for actions', 'identity' etc.

I am not sure that 'additional machinery' is the right term for these differences. My impression is 'the ego is much more strongly connected and fused with these other parts'

Cup-Stacking Skills (or, Reflexive Involuntary Mental Motions)

Another name proposal: essentialized skill
- sounds impressive (I think. I am not a native speaker)
- the essence-part suggests some kind of deep mastery
- the ized-part suggests that it was once just a regular skill and can in principle be acquired
- the essence-part also suggests that the skill is now part of one's nature and is thus not necessarily under conscious control/supervision

I decided to propose this name before reading the comments, I also like some properties of the other proposals though.

Shoulder Advisors 101

I would guess that there is some additional machinery involved in the ego compared to shoulder advisors (this might not contradict your description of ego as privileged shoulder advisor), as tulpas seem to be quite related to shoulder advisors while being 'closer to ego' in some sense. 
Probably this distinction is an important reason why shoulder advisors seem much less problematic from the standpoint of mental health.

The Apologist and the Revolutionary

After having read a few GPT-3 generated texts, its type of pattern-matching babbling really reminds me of what is here described as apologist. Maybe the apologist part of the mind just does not do sufficiently model-based thinking to catch mistakes that are obvious to an explicitly model-based way of thinking ("revolutionary")?

It seems very plausible to me that there are both high-level model-based and model-free parts in the human mind. This would also match the seemingly obvious mistakes in the apologists reasoning and explain why it is effectively impossible to get someone's apologist to realise their mistakes by talking to them (I would assume that for healthy people, the model-based thinking does inform/override the model-free thinking to a degree)

Where do (did?) stable, cooperative institutions come from?

I really liked this question and the breadth of interesting answers. 

I want to add a mechanism which might contribute to a weakening of institutions that is related to the 'stronger memes' described by ete (I have not thought this out properly, but I am quite confident that I am pointing at something real even if I might well be mistaken in many of the details):

In myself, and I think this is quite common, while considering my life/career options, I noticed an internal drive (think elephant from elephant in the brain) that made me focus on the highest-prestige group that seemed like a viable option. A natural choice is an institution at the highest (available) power level/size.

I think that modern communication technologies are strong enough to capture that drive by giving (felt) access to the most prestigious groups from around the globe. 

As a consequence, I expect that the emotionally impactful access to global culture/'tribes' decreases the felt importance of, and thus the effort put into local institutions, culture and tribes. (Related topics that come to mind would be the loss of spoken languages or local newspapers)

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