All of kremlin's Comments + Replies

These sorts of things are definitely along the lines of the examples I had in mind as well. Thanks for the reply.

At about 20 minutes in, he says that as a cognitive scientist, the evidence that your mind and your consciousnessare completely dependent on and emergent from your brain is overwhelming. Now, I agree with this, and I can think of various examples that lead me to believe that that's the occam's razor position, but I'm curious if anybody can point me to any central source of resources for information to prove this. My basis for thinking this, as a layman, isn't as rigorous or complete as I would like.

There are two main alternative hypotheses you might want to contrast that with: dualism and "body-mind".  For dualism, the theory is that the mind is happening somewhere else (a mental plane) and "pushing into" the body. Think, like, a video game being played by a person; the character isn't doing the generating of the mind or consciousness, that's all happening on the other side of the screen. IMO the most compelling external evidence against this comes from brain damage cases, of which the most famous and one of the earliest was Phineas Gage [], and the most compelling internal evidence comes from brain-affecting chemicals. (You still need some external evidence to show that the chemicals are affecting the brain / nervous system specifically). If the brain were just an antenna receiving input from the mental realm, instead of the place where the action is happening, it would be weird to have functional errors connected so tightly to physical errors. (I think there are maybe people who still hold this position? Or believe in dualism for weirder reasons.) For "body-mind", the theory is that the mind isn't just happening inside the skull; it's happening throughout the whole body, or in connection with other parts of the environment, and so on. I think in response people mostly go "ok by 'brain' I meant 'nervous system', which is mostly your brain", but again we look at the cases where people have lost parts of their body that aren't their brain and see how much effect that has on consciousness, and the result is mostly quite small. (Looking at amputees, one gets the sense that not much of the mind is happening in arms and legs, whereas looking at patients who have lost bits of their brain, one gets the sense that lots of the mind is happening there.) People whose habits and cognition have become dependent on some external features--like looking things up in their phone, or conferring with colleagues, or so on--do often have

I also found hints of your steelmanning divination argument in here:

He was making the case for a random walk through the space of things we're not changing in order to help us find what we might be doing wrong.

There's two or three terms he brings up again in this episode that he hasn't used for a while, and I find the terms very ungooglable, and I can't remember how he defined them earlier in the conversation -- "exacted", "exceptation" and maybe "exactation".

Can anybody help me out here?

[edit] is he saying Exapting instead of Exacting? And by Excapting, is he meaning something like "the repurposing of existing tools for new purposes"?

Towards the end he's talking about how these transformative experiences people have, these 'quantum changes', don't give people any new knowledge, they give people more WISDOM. But his examples puzzled me.

He says, one person comes out of the transformatice experience and says "I knew that God exists", and then another person comes out and says "I knew that there was no God."

So my question is, what kind of valid "wisdom" can produce BOTH of those results? Is it just a type of wisdom that transforms the meaning each of these people assigns to the word God? 

Around 53-55 minutes of the podcast if anyone wants to see what i'm referring to.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "transforms the meaning"; but I agree with at least one version of that. The way I'd elaborate on it is that "God exists" is more like an internal label for internal experience instead of a shared label for shared experience. Two people talking about 'the sun' can be pretty sure they're talking about the same thing in the outside world; not so for two people talking about God. And so in a transformative experience, someone might shift their anchor beliefs [], and they might not have better labels for those beliefs than "God exists" or "God doesn't exist", while those point to different things in more complicated language. (For example, one idea that I might compress into "God exists" is "it is better to face life in an open-hearted and loving way", and another idea that I might compress down to "God doesn't exist" is "wishful thinking doesn't accomplish anything, planning does". Both of those more complicated beliefs can be simultaneously true!)

The principle I distilled from it is that The existence of meaning precedes the importance of truth (I'll be happy to discuss that one).

Please. I'm not sure what it means, exactly, but I'm interested.

3Yoav Ravid1mo
To say something is important is to make some value judgement, and it requires that things already have meaning. So if you say "There's no meaning. Everything is meaningless", and I ask "and why do you believe that?", and you say "because it is true", and I ask, "but if everything is meaningless, why is it important what the truth is?", how do you answer without assuming some meaning? How can you justify the importance of anything, including truth, without any meaning? So if everything is meaningless, you can believe otherwise and nothing bad would happen, even though it's not the truth, because everything is meaningless (and thus nothing, including truth, can't be important). If things are meaningful, you can believe they are meaningful, because it's true. And also, if things are meaningful and you believe otherwise, that may be bad, because truth may indeed be important. So for things to be important to you (including truth), things first have to be meaningful. Therefore the existence of meaning precedes the importance of truth, and if there's no meaning then nothing can say you shouldn't believe otherwise. p.s: Verveake also said something similar: "Before you assess truth, things have to be meaningful to you".

I'm commenting before finishing because I wanted this thought out of me:

I'm at the part where Kant is talking about the circular nature of biological feedback systems, and how when he traces out the logic it's circular and therefor biology is, in some way, unsolvable.

It occurs to me that the feedback cycle of a tree (as the main example given) isn't CIRCULAR, it's a SPIRAL. In a circle, you go around and end up where you started. There's no advancement, no change beyond your position on the circle. But a tree does advance. The roots gather the neutrients t... (read more)

This is not related to the real purpose of all these talks, but I've wanted to run this idea by someone for a while:

Quantum Mechanics proves that, in a sense, the reality we know very much is a Plato's Cave type situation. In other words, everything we experience is part of a shallower 'shadow reality' that is causally connected to, but distinct from or just a small part of, the true nature of reality.

If the deep nature of reality is that everything we think of as "a particle" exists in superposition, exists in this ever-evolving world of configuration-sta... (read more)

Present struggles force you to highly value the present—things that make you struggle are going to make you find the present salient, and figure out how to improve the present quickly. There's no room to think about the future when doing hard things in the present


I wonder if this is why I play hours of video games every day...

He mentions around 34 minutes in that faith has changed meaning, that it didn't used to mean believing ridiculous things without evidence, that it meant more about knowing that you're on course.

I wonder if there's good evidence for that. He mentions a lot through this series so far that ancient mythology wasn't about literally beleiving that stuff was actually happening. I find myself doubting that claim, and I'd like to see some evidence.

Would you still say it's worth following along with this series?

Yes; I liked it a lot, and haven't come across a better introduction to this topic. (You might want to read some of the summaries to figure out if you'll find the topic interesting.)

Today I learned that the idea I've held for years I'm not alone in. I've believed in the sort of 'every possible mathematical object' approach - or alternatively, every possible input being run through every possible turing machine - for a long time. I don't know if it has a name.

I was stumblin and I found this article, which I think graphically does a great job of making a similar point (although that point wasn't its explicit intention).

All of the graphs except 'tautology' limit the number of worlds you could be in.

I guess I don't imagine the idea always being used to that degree. I can imagine someone writing a new classic novel and they turn in their first draft of their next draft to their publisher, and their publisher says something like, "This sentence structure...studies have shown that it's a bit too complicated for most readers to parse on the first read, and they can take 3 or 4 times reading it before they understand what you were trying to say. Try to simplify it or break it up into multiple sentences."

I mean, that's not the only example. That'... (read more)

That's a goal of dumbing down books to get stupid people to understand them. That's why people cite 1984. Orwell's newspeech is also about dumbing down intellectual discourse. Is a book provides the reader an intellectual challenge that's not supposed to be a bad thing. Authors of serious fictions do have a license to provide their readers an intellectual challenge. I don't have a problem with an author making a stylistic choices to use simple language, but I wouldn't want to create a complex system that enforces a dumbing down of literature. That depends on the quality of the computer algorithm. If you have an algorithm that can tell a publisher the percentage that a specific book is going to be the next Twilight, that publishers might start making publishing decisions based on that number. There are monetary pressures. In the New York Times journalists have to suddenly care about readers interests via hard numbers. If you want to read about what damage that dynamic did to journalism read Ryan Holiday's "Trust me, I"m lying".

The 'c is the generalization of locality' bit looked rather trivial to me. Maybe that's just EY rubbing off on me, but...

Its obvious that in Conways Game, it takes at least 5 iterations for one cell to affect a cell 5 units away, and c has for some time seemed to me like our worlds version of that law

I don't think that's what they were doing. The commenters (the NY Times commenters, btw, not the Ycombinator commenters) seem to genuinely believe that it is only bad and no good.

"It might be the time to download “1984” from your Scribd or Oyster subscription service. I'm sure they have it."

"Surrendering your thoughts: A Haiku

Creepy. Nasty. Yuk. A good way to hasten the Singularity "

"I'm going to find out the top 50 favorite words and then write a book using only those 50 words. Who cares about creativity? It's about the money, ki... (read more)

There was a bit of ambiguity on my part: the commenters I was referring to weren't Hacker News commenters, but the commenters on the original article itself, on NY Times.

I've invited you.

I'm sure you'll be fine. It's not until they start adding the new boss/quest mechanics that it will be possible for anyone to bring doom to a party.

BTW I've started a LessWrong Party on HabitRPG for when they start implementing new mechanics that will take advantage of parties. If anybody wants to join the party send me your User ID, which you can find in Settings > API

3224e61c-66d7-4309-aab9-54e039007f2e Not sure about how the system works, just started using it yesterday, so I hope I will not bring doom to the whole party.
... and I joined it, and encourage others to join too! :)

You and I were talking about this in IRC. I remember expressing a concern about HabitRPG that, while it does genuinely motivate me at the moment, I'm not sure what's going to happen when it ends: when I've upgraded all my items, when I've collected all the pets, etc etc. If I just start over, the new game will likely motivate me significantly less than the first time around. And more than likely I just plain won't want to start over.

I've been trying to think of ways around this gamification problem, because it plays a part in nearly every attempt at gamifi... (read more)

That definitely looks interesting, and I've been thinking about pretty similar things. I hadn't found Dungeons and Developers, and it is pretty neat (though it's just a proof-of-concept / a fancy way of displaying a list of web development skills).
BTW I've started a LessWrong Party on HabitRPG for when they start implementing new mechanics that will take advantage of parties. If anybody wants to join the party send me your User ID, which you can find in Settings > API

But collapse interpretations require additional non-local algorithms, which to me seem to be, by necessity, incredibly complicated

Not for computations, they do not. If you try to write a code simulating a QM system, end up writing unitary evolution on top of the elliptic time-independent SE (H psi = E psi) to describe the initial state. If you want to calculate probabilities, such as the pattern on the screen from the double-slit experiment, you apply the Born rule. And computational complexity is the only thing thing that matters for Occam's razor.

If we assume that (a) future discounting is potentially rational, and that (b) to be rational, the relative weightings we give to March 30 and March 31 should be the same whether it's March 29 or Jan 1, does it follow that rational future discounting would involve exponential decay? Like, a half-life?

For example, assuming the half life is a month, a day a month from now has half the weighting of today, and a month from that has half the weighting of that, and so on?

'Breaking it down into other questions' is exactly what needed to be done. I agree. And once it is broken down, the question is dissolved.

You're absolutely right. Done.

After talking to some non-reductionists, I've come to this idea about what it would mean for reductionism to be false:

I'm sure you're familiar with Conway's Game of Life? If not, go check it out for a bit. All the rules for the system are on the pixel level -- this is the lowest, fundamental level. Everything that happens in conway's game of life is reducible to the rules regarding individual pixels and their color (white or black), and we know this because we have access to the source code of Conway's Game, and it is in fact true that those are the only r... (read more)

It helps me to understand non reductable alternative world better, but i think that computer program is also reductable, not to elementary particles, but to object properties and scripts, and then to bytes and bits

I don't think you've understood the article. The idea of the article is that if you're able to derive it, then yes, you can regenerate it. That's what 'regenerate' means.

I think nominul does understand it, and at one level higher than you do. he understands the principle so well he goes and makes a tradeoff in terms of memory used vs execution time.

Take a symetric matrix with a conveniently zero'd out diagonal... you could go and memorize every element on the matrix....(no understanding, pure rote memorization).... you could go and memorize every element AND noticing it happens to be symmetric...(understanding, what you seem to be thinking of...) Or noticing it happens to be symmetric and then only memorizing half the entries in the first place(nominull's approach).

I go with nominull's approach myself...I'm just a lot sloppier about selecting what info to rote memorize.

I think I can explain the reasoning:

Assume Elizier has sway over, say, 5,000 votes -- what he posts on this blog will effect the voting behavior of 5,000 people. If he uses that sway to say "vote for the person in the world you like best," you get 5,000 unheard votes for random people. If he uses that sway to say "vote for a relatively popular candidate (at least popular enough to be on the ballot) who's not a nincompoop," you get 5,000 votes for non-nincompoops.

If the goal is to "send a message," as is said in the post, I'd ... (read more)

I drew loads when I was a kid, and I must have been about 10 or 11 when I realized, had a moment of epiphany really, some of the stuff in the "How you probably draw / how you should draw" section.

I was looking at the cover of the Toy Story VHS and trying to copy it. I remember specifically I was drawing Woody's face, his right cheek to be exact (must have been this photo), and I stopped myself when I realized that what I was about to do was a result of me drawing not what I really saw, but what I thought I should see given my mental model of a fa... (read more)

Cool! I am proud of you for doing so!

I thumbed you up because you were technically correct about the fact that just because positive judgements drop doesn't mean there's a bias.

However, there is some extra data in this economist article on the same study to support the idea that there weren't factors in the arrangements of parole candidates that would account for such a drop:

To be sure, mealtimes were not the only thing that predicted the outcome of the rulings. Offenders who appeared prone to recidivism (in this case those with previous convictions) were more likely to be turned down, as w

... (read more)

I think I came up with a solution:

to date, the vast majority of grue-like hypotheses (hypotheses that suggest new items that have always been grue before time t will continue to be found grue after time t) has failed. inductive logic, then, doesn't suggest that because emeralds have been grue to date, they will continue to be grue after time t. so far, after every time t, that's not been the case.

If it's unclear what I mean when I say grue-like hypotheses have failed, let me word it better: if time t was 1975, then the hypothesis that emeralds found after ... (read more)

Some people were talking about The Ship of Theseus -- the question "If a ship's parts are replaced one-by-one over time, after each part is replaced is it still the same ship?" First thing that came to my mind was that this was a wrong question. I saw it fundamentally as the same mistake as the Blegg/Rube problem -- they know every property about the ship that's relevant to the question, and yet still there feels like a question left unanswered.

Am I right about this?


what is the calculation he was alluding to? i wanted a source on that.

thanks, i haven't looked in to linking in the comments to other wiki pages yet. just joined.

I really like Possibility and Couldness, but that could be because i've been talking about determinism a lot lately. Also, Zombies? Zombies! was a fun read.

(Links: Possibility and Could-ness [], Zombies? Zombies! [])