All of Laura's Comments + Replies

Fake Reductionism

Sorry for the random reminiscence if you'd rather not read it, but this post reminded me so much of an incident that happened in my 10th grade english class. The grey-bearded teacher turned out the light and lit two candles. He began to speak in a breathy, mysterious voice, "Colridge's metaphor of two candles which burn more brightly when brought together is so beautiful because it is also an optical reality." He brought the candles together, "See how they reach higher and burn brighter when they are near, like the two souls..." &quo... (read more)

Gary Gygax Annihilated at 69

Wow- I played many times - I thought it was fun to pretend to be a character- never read the rule books - never owned the rule books... must have missed something here.

Newcomb's Problem and Regret of Rationality

I would be interested in know if your opinion would change if the "predictions" of the super-being were wrong .5% of the time, and some small number of people ended up with the \$1,001,000 and some ended up with nothing. Would you still 1 box it?

3Normal_Anomaly10yIf a bunch of people have played the game already, then you can calculate the average payoff for a 1-boxer and that of a 2-boxer and pick the best one.
Torture vs. Dust Specks

For Robin's statistics:
Given no other data but the choice, I would have to choose torture. If we don't know anything about the consequences of the blinking or how many times the choice is being made, we can't know that we are not causing huge amounts of harm. If the question deliberately eliminated these unknowns- ie the badness was limited to an eyeblink that does not immediately result in some disaster for someone or blindness for another, and you really are the one and only person making the choice ever, then I'd go with the dust-- But these qualific... (read more)

Torture vs. Dust Specks

Elizer: "It's wrong when repeated because it's also wrong in the individual case. You just have to come to terms with scope sensitivity."

But determining whether or not a decision is right or wrong in the individual case requires that you be able to place a value on each outcome. We determine this value in part by using our knowledge of how frequently the outcomes occur and how much time/effort/money it takes to prevent or assuage them. Thus knowing the frequency that we can expect an event to occur is integral to assigning it a value in the fi... (read more)

Expecting Short Inferential Distances

I have experienced this problem before-- the teacher assumes you have prior knowledge that you just do not have, and all of what he says afterwards assumes you've made the logical leap. I wonder to what extent thoughtful people will reconstruct the gaps in their knowledge assuming the end conclusion is correct and working backwards to what they know in order to give themselves a useful (but possibly incorrect) bridge from B to A. For example, I recently heard a horrible biochem lecture about using various types of protein sequence and domain homology to ... (read more)

Pascal's Mugging: Tiny Probabilities of Vast Utilities

Here's one for you: Lets assume for arguement's sake that "humans" could include human cosciousnesses, not just breathing humans. Then, if a universe with 3^^^^3 "humans" actually existed, what would be the odds that they were NOT all copies of the same parasitic consciousness?

Pascal's Mugging: Tiny Probabilities of Vast Utilities

To solve this problem, the AI would need to calculate the probability of the claim being true, for which it would need to calculate the probability of 3^^^^3 people even existing. Given what it knows about the origins and rate of reproduction of humans, wouldn't the probability of 3^^^^3 people even existing be approximately 1/3^^^^3? It's as you said, multiply or divide it by the number of characters in the bible, it's still nearly the same damned incomprehensably large number. Unless you are willing to argue that there are some bizarre properties of t... (read more)

How to Seem (and Be) Deep

Elizer- Thanks for the links. I think people are sour-grapes, because it's so much easier to recognize what they might lose than imagine what they could gain through immortality. It's such an unknown. But choosing death to avoid such unknowns would be a poor form of risk minimization, since it's irreversible. Do you have a link to material about why you believe you will achieve immortality?

How to Seem (and Be) Deep

Sorry to go on on this topic, but it seems to me that a false dichotomy has been developed in this thread between two ideas:

1) Death gives meaning to life.

2) Immortality is worth attempting/achieving.

I do not see why these ideas are at all mutually exclusive. Of course the idea that death gives ALL of the meaning to life would be incompatible with immortality, but certainly some of the transhumanists here must concede that it gives some meaning. Maybe the confusion is with the word "meaning." Many of the things that humans find meaningful in l... (read more)

How to Seem (and Be) Deep

"What one never encounters is an adult who says that finding out about death was what gave life meaning for them." I beg to differ. Many people have had close calls with death that have been pivitol, life-changing experiences. A friend of mine changed careers and got married after his plane nearly crashed. "I realized we don't have that much time on this earth to be wasting it in board meetings," or some such.

I still would NOT argue that this is evidence that life needs death to have meaning, but death certainly IS a strong motivator to get on with life.

Cached Thoughts

I really enjoyed your post! I would say we cache things we've reasoned out ourselves as well. Say you do a mathematical proof for the pythagorean theorum. At the end of the proof, you might feel you really understand the theory, but the next year, or next day even, you have completely forgotten the steps you used to do the proof. You might be able with great concentration extrapolate them again, but you still believe the theory without recalculating it from scratch. You remember being convinced in the past, and you trust your past self's judgment. I ... (read more)

How to Seem (and Be) Deep

I don't think anyone is qualified to judge, based on theory alone, whether true immortality is meaningful or worth achieving, since no one has lived much longer than 120 yrs. Maybe the human consciousness would throw up its hands and scream 'to hell with it all!' after 300 years, maybe not. Maybe our children will be lacksidasical losers because they have no impetus to get off their asses and on with their lives (lord knows how many ppl get a move on because they fear getting too old for girlfriends/marriage/children). But we don't know that, and it's a... (read more)

Singlethink

Interesting. As a child I thought I could remember everything, so lying was easy, it's own memory of having lied, and thus distinct from reality. It was only much later that I realized it was even possible for the two to become horribly confused in one's own mind. But did you lie and forget the lie? Or did you just incompletely remember and add the part about negative sums as an explanation of the behavior later on? I think the "sweeping" of our minds' corners is also prone to give us false memories. We think, "well, why did I do that?... (read more)

Planning Fallacy

The article fails to take into account actual time spent on the project. Why is it that I can write just as good a paper with a one week or 10 week deadline? Is the problem underestimation of time or lack of motivation to finish before the predicted deadline? I don't think student reports are a very good model for this kind of cognitive bias.