All of LazyDave's Comments + Replies

Brain Breakthrough! It's Made of Neurons!

It indeed cannot be objectively examined (afaik), but it can be subjectively examined, which is why I know that I have consciousness, but cannot say the same about anyone else. That being said, I do assign an incredibly high probability that others do indeed have it.

"3 Reasons It’s Irrational to Demand ‘Rationalism’ in Social Justice Activism"

Wow, I find that really surprising; I am hardly in tune with the "proper" terms one should use these days, but the flight attendant thing has been second nature to me for at least 10 years, and thought it was for everybody. I'd be really curious as to why you only became aware of it recently; do you not fly very often? I want to stress that I am not criticizing you or anything, my curiosity is just piqued.

"3 Reasons It’s Irrational to Demand ‘Rationalism’ in Social Justice Activism"

Yeah, I've noticed that when the word used for something is intentionally changed, oftentimes it is because the thing being referred to is viewed negatively by many. In addition, once the new word has widespread adoption, use of the old word is a signal that you indeed do view what it refers to negatively. A recent example is some politician who talked about what the NAACP should do if they wanted to help "colored" people; it was widely derided as a racist statement, even though he was simply expanding part of the acronym of the organization he w... (read more)

"3 Reasons It’s Irrational to Demand ‘Rationalism’ in Social Justice Activism"

I'm not sure about its origins, but in the MSM I've only seen the term described as something members of the "alt-right" use to describe the group in question (obviously in a pejorative way), so generally when I use the term I enclose it in scare quotes (as I evidently do with "alt-right" for some reason), as I do not want to improperly signal that I hold certain beliefs.

Spooky Action at a Distance: The No-Communication Theorem

Thanks; sorry about the duplicate question post, I had not been able to find the "replay" version of this particular article.

[SEQ RERUN] On Being Decoherent

I think it is a good way to map what people have commonly called "superposition," but the sentence should probably be "The system is in the superposition STATE1 + STATE2, relative to STATE 3, where STATE 3 roughly factors out". STATE 3 in this case is usually an observer. I mean, if I flip a "quantum coin" and I have not told you if it is heads or tails, then the coin (and I) is in a superposition of "HEADS + TAILS" relative to you, but due to decoherence on my end, it is not in a superposition relative to me. For me this was an important concept to learn, as it helped me see that "many worlds" is a local and non-discrete phenomenon.

[SEQ RERUN] On Being Decoherent

And another quantum-related question. - In The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene (p. 196), he describes a setup of the two slit experiment where half of the particles have their "which way" information recorded, thus causing decoherence and not showing an interference pattern, and the other half of the particles are not measured, and thus do show an interference pattern. After the fact one can look at which photons were not measured, and these do indeed form the interference pattern.

However, he then goes on to explain an identical setup, with ... (read more)

[SEQ RERUN] On Being Decoherent

So this is sorta off-topic for this thread, but I cannot see where one can start a new one. I posted the following questions at, as I cannot find the "rerun" version of it. Anyway, here goes. FWIW, the topic was about EPR experiments.

For all these types of experiments, how do they "aim" the particle so it hits its target from far away? It would seem that the experimenters would know pretty much where the particle is when it shoots out of the gun (or whatever), ... (read more)

Only if they make the departing aperture small. A wider aperture allows the departing wave to be tight. It depends which basis you look at it in. It is conventional to consider a photon's 'polarization' to be ploarization subspace that contains all of its time dependence. The phase then indicates the rest of its state. However, you can look at it other ways. A circularly polarized photon moving +z can be considered as a rapid shift between various orientations of +x and +y polarization... but it's simpler to just let it be in a circular polarization state and let the phase vary. A photon's state in this sense IS its 'main' wavefunction as you call it. There is no distinction. People usually shorthand think of a photon to have perfectly-defined momentum, but of course that would mean the photon extends through all of space. Real photons have multiple momentum components, and form a wavepacket or a static state. In particular, and very relevantly, you can construct electromagnetic field states (photons) that are inverse square laws - the static electrical field from a charge - and these have a very broad momentum distribution. I can't find any minus signs in this post, but to take a stab in the dark at whatever it is you're referring to, subtraction is the special case of addition after one of a particular set of phase shifts.
Spooky Action at a Distance: The No-Communication Theorem

(I can't find the "rerun" version of this page, so am posting my questions here).

  1. For all these types of experiments, how do they "aim" the particle so it hits its target from far away? It would seem that the experimenters would know pretty much where the particle is when it shoots out of the gun (or whatever), so would not the velocity be all over the place? In the post on the Heisenberg principle, there was an example of letting the sun shine through a hole in a piece of paper, which caused the photons to spread pretty widely, pretty

... (read more)
You have already asked these 3 questions and had them answered: [] To clarify the answer at point 3, if you phase shift by half a cycle and add, well, that's called 'subtraction'.
[SEQ RERUN] Can You Prove Two Particles Are Identical?

In a previous post in this series, it was stated that if you shot the particles towards the mirrors at different times, but that difference was vanishingly small, then you would still see the same results, except for there would be a correspondingly vanishingly small chance that you would see both detectors register a single particle, since configurations were "smudgy". Why would not the same apply to two electrons that were distinguishable, but their differences were vanishingly small?

This would work only if the configurations were smudgy along the dimension on which the particles were different, so that the smudges could overlap.
Verifying Rationality via

Bots only win at 1v1 limit poker. No bot can play professional no-limit poker, especially at a full table.

I believe that they can win LIMIT poker at a full table; does not have to be 1-1 in that case.

Verifying Rationality via

The a priori argument that using money is important doesn't stand up under closer >examination. If you are incapable of generalizing from in-game currency to dollars, you >won't be capable of generalizing from poker to other activities. And player behavior >does not seem to be grossly different - take for example the fact that prediction markets >work the same with real money or fake money.

It may not be much different for prediction markets, but it is VERY different for online poker. Even if you play exactly the same with or without money, y... (read more)

Verifying Rationality via

Would it be rational for the Poker houses to try to cheat the rule-breakers?

While I can't vouch for every single poker site out there, the chances of them trying to cheat you are almost nil. The amount of marginal income they would make compared to the risk of a tarnished reputation makes it a foolish play (note that to cheat you, they would need to not only rig the game, but have a shill in there to divert the money to).

I used to count cards at blackjack. And when I did it in Reno, at a certain stage a >new dealer would be brought to the table (ou

... (read more)
The Second Law of Thermodynamics, and Engines of Cognition

So in the following transformation:

X1Y1 -> X2Y1 X1Y2 -> X4Y1 X1Y3 -> X6Y1 X1Y4 -> X8Y1

You say that while true entropy has not increased (it stays at 2 bits), apparent entropy has, due to the observer not keeping track of X and just lumping its possible states into X2-X8. If this is the case, why doesn't observed entropy decrease as well, since phase space is preserved with the following?

X2Y1 -> X1Y1 X4Y1 -> X1Y2 X6Y1 -> X1Y3 X8Y1 -> X1Y4

(I guess DaveInNYC won't read this but I guess someone else might.) If you lump together X's starting state into X2-X8 then you can't be sure that it isn't actually X3, X5 or X7. So you have to look at where those possibilities go as well. Then the entropy can't go down (since by Liouville's Theorem they have to go somewhere different from X2, X4, X6 and X8).
It's not like anything to be a bat

Considering the vast number of non-human animals compared to humans, the probability of being a human is vanishingly low. Therefore, chances are that if I could be an animal, I would be.

I do not really think you need an anthropic argument to prove that "you" couldn't be an animal; it is more a matter of definition, i.e. by definition you are not an animal. For example, there is no anthropic reason that "I" couldn't have been raised in Alabama, but what would it even mean to say that I could have been raised in Alabama? That somebody ... (read more)

Undiscriminating Skepticism

OK, I may have misunderstood his meaning. I thought he was saying that there were things he would never mention, as it would alienate people, as opposed to just not mentioning it in this post.

Raising the Sanity Waterline

Morendil, I absolutely agree. It may very well be that the ills outweigh the good (though I happen to personally doubt it). I'm just saying that the weighing should be done independently of the rationality of religion (which I think we can all agree is about 0). I just fear that it is too easy for there to be a negative halo effect around religion, which is understandable seeing that this is a forum about rationality.

Entangled Truths, Contagious Lies

" 'God made me pregnant' sounded a tad more likely in the old days before our models of the world contained (quotations of) Y chromosomes. "

I don't know about that; the whole point about the "virgin birth" was that it was miraculous, i.e. physically impossible. Had they known about DNA, the story would have included God creating some DNA for "his" side of the deal. Saying that knowledge of DNA would have made the virgin birth less believable is like saying greater knowledge of classical physics would have made people more skeptical of Jesus walking on water. Impossible == Impossible.

"So wait, that means ... Samson the TallDarkHandsome Bard is God!" *worships*
Undiscriminating Skepticism

"And of course I could easily go on to name some beliefs that others think are wrong and that I think are right, or vice versa, but would inevitably lose some of my audience at each step along the way - just as, a couple of decades ago, I would have lost a lot of my audience by saying that religion was unworthy of serious debate. "

So are you admitting to just going for "cheap credit"? In your post you encourage people to stick their intellectual necks out, but seem reluctant to do so yourself.

No; he's trying to stick to the point. He's stuck his neck out in other posts.
The ABC's of Luminosity

This may be a bit pedantic, but isn't the A->C relationship wholly contained in the A->B and B->C relationship? In other words, the only way A->C works is via B; there is no "extra" information in the A->C relationship.

A good deal of A -> C goes through B, but not all. Affect can directly influence things like heartbeat and other physical conditions, which I've classified under C, without going through voluntary action, which is B.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics, and Engines of Cognition

I guess it would seem to me that what gets "overwritten" is the (now invalid) knowledge of where Y is, and what it is overwritten with is the new, valid position of it. I'll have to chew on it for a while.

By the way, sort of unrelated, but I've always wondered why gravity acting on things is not considered a loss of entropy. For example I can drop a bowling ball from multiple distances, but it will always end up 0 feet from the ground:

B4 -> B0

B3 -> B0

B2 -> B0


The only thing I can think of is that, when the ball hits the ground the collision creates enough heat (i.e. entropy) to balance everything out. Is that correct?

Yes, that's basically correct: the ball ends up at the same place, but differs in another state -- velocity -- which gives a different result for how much momentum it imparts to the earth, or heat energy it generates through friction, or elastic energy in compressing its foundation. Btw, note that there is a connection between the energy of a system and the information it stores. Higher energy states are less likely and therefore store more information. (See Academician's recent post [] on informativeness in information theory.) Because energy of a state is relative to another, this suggests a research program that breaks down the laws of physics into rules about changes in informational content. I'm still in the process of finding out how much work has been done on this and what's left to do.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics, and Engines of Cognition

So after doing the Maxwell's Demon thing, you say that mutual information decreases, the entropy of Y decreases, so we are left with the same amount of total entropy:

M1,Y1 -> M1,Y1

M2,Y2 -> M2,Y1

M3,Y3 -> M3,Y1

M4,Y4 -> M4,Y1

However, I don't see why the mutual information would be lost; would the Demon know where he "put" the molecule, thus making the transition look more like:

M1,Y1 -> M1,Y1

M2,Y2 -> M1,Y1

M3,Y3 -> M1,Y1

M4,Y4 -> M1,Y1

This would of course shrink the phase space, violate the second law, etc. I just do not see how M would stay the same when Y changed (i.e. lose the mutual information).

That was a simplified account of what is going on. To include the full system, you would have to include the means by which the Demon recorded the knowledge. However it's recorded, it overwrites the information that was otherwise contained in that recording mechanism (i.e., mutual information with some environment), and this deletion of mutual information is an increase in entropy. But in such an accounting, you would have three systems, which complicates the scenario. In the example given, the Demon is implicitly taken to include the Demon's recording devices (even if that's his brain). The fact that it has destroyed some relationship between some system (the recording device) and another is represented as higher Demon entropy that retains independence from the Y system. (There are extra states the Demon can have that have nothing to do with Y.) Did that make any sense?
Open Thread: January 2010

Does anybody have any updates as to the claims made against Alcor, i.e. the Tuna Can incident? I've tried a bunch of searches, but haven't been able to find anything conclusive as to the veracity of the claims.

Raising the Sanity Waterline

Thanks; the Bayesians vs. Barbarians post is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. I'll have to read some of the posts that it links to (as well as re-read the background posts you referred to; haven't read them in a while), as the way it stands I still think the Barbarians would win.

Raising the Sanity Waterline

I'm not sure what the content of "making your opponent behave (ir)rationally" is >supposed to be. It's certainly not an uncontroversial tidbit of received wisdom that the >rational thing to do in the Prisoner's Dilemma is to defect, which is what you seem to >imply.

Exactly, if I was able to make him act irrationally, he would not defect, whereas I would. And if the definition of rationality is that it makes you win, then it can be perfectly rational to have others act irrationally (i.e. believe wrong things).

If you both cooperate, instead of you both defecting, you'd both be better off, which is a more rational (more winning) outcome. Thus, making "cooperation" a synonym for "irrational" will irk people around here. (Of course if you defect and the other player cooperates, you'd have the best possible payoff.)
Raising the Sanity Waterline

We think that religions are false, and a shared priority of Less Wrong denizens is to >believe things that are true instead

You'll get no argument from me that religions are false. You will get practically no argument from me that it makes sense to want to believe things that are true. What I question is, is it always rational to make others believe things that are true? If I leave my lights on when I leave the house so that would-be robbers think I am home when I am not, I am making a rational decision to make others believe something that is false. ... (read more)

Rationalists should win [] .
This depends on your values. If chief among them is "honesty", and you caveat the "make others believe things that are true" with a "for the right reasons" clause, then probably, yeah. If honesty has to compete with things like keeping your property, maybe not. I'm not sure what the content of "making your opponent behave (ir)rationally" is supposed to be. It's certainly not an uncontroversial tidbit of received wisdom that the rational thing to do in the Prisoner's Dilemma is to defect, which is what you seem to imply.
See Bayesians vs. Barbarians []. You may need the following posts for the background: * Newcomb's Problem and Regret of Rationality [] * Newcomb's Problem standard positions [] * The True Prisoner's Dilemma []
Raising the Sanity Waterline

I have wondered for many years what a good alternative would be, and have not been able to come up with one. Now that in itself doesn't mean anything; just because I can't think of one does not mean there isn't one. But given the antipathy of most on this site to religion (as evidenced by my comment getting dinged 4 times for merely suggesting that religion, though irrational, may be socially beneficial), I would think there would be posts upon posts explaining better alternatives. I have not seen them.

It seems to me that many rationalists hate religion s... (read more)

If you are going to take religion's effects into account as well as the truth of it, you need to look at both sides of the ledger, and weigh the ills it brings against the good. No cherry-picking.
We think that religions are false, and a shared priority of Less Wrong denizens is to believe things that are true instead. I'll readily admit that religion has some good effects. Many people find it comforting; it's inspired great works of art and music and architecture; it does a lot of work to funnel money to charitable causes, some of which are very helpful; it encourages community-building; and it has historically served as a cultural touchstone to enable the development of some very powerful iconography and tropes. It's still false. If you like the good things about religion, there are alternatives (although most of them only work piecemeal). For instance, there's Ethical Culture [], which fills in the community gap a departing religion can leave.
Russ Roberts' latest podcast with Dave Rose [] touches on this. My paraphrase: utilitarian morality does not lead to the greatest good. It works well in small groups (they used 25 people as a guideline) but fails in very large groups. This makes sense: for large group cooperation, coordinators need to correctly predict motivations of the people involved. If people can be made "mechanical" in the sense that they will do what they are told reliably (because they have a rule morality that tells them to), then larger organized efforts can succeed. If people defect locally from prioners dilemmas, the rate at which this happens creates an upper limit in the size of effective cooperative organizations. I would say that religion is certainly a source of rule based morality on net. Rationalists (tm) pursuing their personal utility are often ready to defect from rules that they conclude come from outside their utility functions, or are at odds with their utility functions. Since we have a rather larger group of us on the planet than ever before, a path for removing religion might need to be carefully designed to not bring about the collapse of a lot of cooperative endeavors, to not bring about a collapse from rule-based to Rational (tm) utilitarian behavior on the parts of broad subpopulations. Since I may not comment on the David Rose Russ Roberts podcast anywhere else, I will say here that I sure think it is at minimum ironic that the argument against utilitarianism as a moral system is that it is not as productive as rule-based moral systems can be. That is, the argument against utilitarianism is that it does not produce maximum utility. That is pretty much the only kind of argument against utilitarianism that might ever succeed with me.

Make everyone rational, and they will do the rational thing, i.e. defect when faced with a prisoner's dilemma (or tragedy of the commons, or whatever).

You assume too much.

Also, have you spent any time searching for a third alternative before deciding that religion is the only thing that can keep people from destroying each other?

Rationality Quotes: October 2009

I suspect it is because the main post refers to quotes being "voted up/down separately," i.e. it puts it in people's minds that they are supposed to vote on the quotes. I do find it funny that I got 12 karma points for cutting/pasting a quote; C.S. Lewis deserves the karma points, not me (as evidenced by the fact that I have gotten a grand total of 1 point from my own original posts). If one wanted to game the karma system, posting pithy quotes is the way to go.

No, creating multiple accounts with whatever level of investment of effort is sufficient to avoid detection is the way to go. And also too easy to be worth bothering with for a reward of no external value. There are systems to game that pay off in dollars.
Rationality Quotes: October 2009

I have met people who exaggerate the differences [between the morality of different cultures], because they have not distinguished between differences of morality and differences of belief about facts. For example, one man said to me, "Three hundred years ago people in England were putting witches to death. Was that what you call the Rule of Human Nature or Right Conduct?" But surely the reason we do not execute witches is that we do not believe there are such things. If we did-if we really thought that there were ... (read more)

Incidentally, the Spanish inquisition did not believe in witches either, dismissing the whole thing as "female humours"
Wait, C. S. Lewis didn't believe in witches, i.e. that there could be people who "sold themselves to the devil and received supernatural powers from him in return and were using these powers" to hurt others? Color me surprised. In any case, he certainly didn't do much to repudiate the part of his intellectual pedigree that was responsible for belief in witches in an attempt to avoid such errors in the future.
For bad weather? As in... 3^^^3 days of sleet is worse than 50 years of torture?

The kind of epistemology that allows you to be that certain about something so false is immoral.

To wit:

Efficient Cross-Domain Optimization

Kasparov competed against Deep Blue to steer the chessboard into a region where he won - knights and bishops were only his pawns

Were you trying to mix the literal and metaphorical here? Because I think that just his pawns were his pawns :)

Timeless Control

All the ideas expressed in this post, as well as the "timeless physics" one, seems amazingly obvious to me, and has for all of my adult life, and compared to a lot of OB posters, I am not that bright. Since I normally find many of Elizer's posts extremely counterintuitive and/or hard to grasp, I've got to ask the question: am I missing something here? Is Elizer saying something so mind-boggling out of this world that I do not even realize he is saying it?

Thou Art Physics

I know this is just re-iterating what Caledonian and Ben Jones said, but too have meaningful discussion on this subject you have to taboo "free will" and come up with a specific description of what you are trying to figure out. The most basic concept of free will is "being able to do what you desire to do," and that is not affected one whit by determinism, or MWI, or God knowing what you are going to do in advance, etc. I know there are a lot of other more sophisticated-sounding discussions regarding this ("ah, but can you choose t... (read more)

Timeless Identity

I have been seriously considering cryonics; if the MWI is correct, I figure that even if there is a vanishingly small chance of it working, "I" will still wake up in one of the worlds where it does work. Then again, even if I do not sign up, there are plenty of worlds out there where I do. So signing up is less of an attempt to live forever as it is an attempt to line up my current existence with the memory of the person who is revived, if that makes any sense. To put it another way, if there is a world where I procrastinate signing up until righ... (read more)

Einstein's Superpowers

If the reason for keeping it private is that he plans to do the trick with more people (and it doesn't work if you know the method in advance) than it makes sense. But otherwise, I don't see much of a difference between somebody thinking "there is no argument that would convince me to let him out" and "argument X would not convince me to let him out". In fact, the latter is more plausible anyway.

In any event, I am the type of guy who always tries to find out how a magic trick is done and then is always disappointed when he finds out. So I'm probably better off not knowing :)

Einstein's Superpowers

I always thought that the justification for not revealing the transcripts in the AI box experiment was pretty weak. As it is, I can claim that whatever method Elizer used must have been effective for people more simple minded then me; ignorance of the specifics of the method does not make it harder to make that claim. In fact, it makes it easier, as I can imagine Eli just said "pretty please" or whatever. In any event, the important point of the AI box exercise is that someone reasonably competent could be convinced to let the AI out, even if I c... (read more)

Science Isn't Strict Enough

"ME" - I've noticed that people on this forum seem to label ANYTHING that has to do with conditional probability "Bayesian". I'm not quite sure why this is; I have a hard enough time figuring out the real difference between a "frequentist" and a "Bayesian", but reading some of these posts I get the feeling that "Bayesian" around here means "someone who knows basic logic".

When Science Can't Help

While we are (sort of) on the topic of cryonics, who here is signed up for it? For those that are, what organization are you with, and are you going with the full-body plan, or just the brain? I'm considering Alcor's neuropreservation process.

Science Doesn't Trust Your Rationality

Caledonian - not sure if this is what was originally alluded to, but the Prisoner's Dilemma / Tragedy of the Commons scenario is one where agents acting in their best interest get screwed. Of course, that is why we have governments in the first place (i.e. to get around those problems).

M - How do you figure Somalia is libertarian? Libertarianism requires a stable government (i.e. a monopoly on force) which Somalia definitely does not have.

H.A. - I don't think the point was that Libertarians are more scientific than others, but that Libertarianism and Science are similar in the sense that they put more faith in processes than in people.

The Dilemma: Science or Bayes?

Eli - As you said in an earlier post, it is not the testability part of MWI that poses a problem for most people with a scientific viewpoint, it is the fact that MWI came after Collapse. So the core part of the scientific method - testability/falsifiability - gives no more weight to Collapse than to MWI.

As to the "Bayesian vs. Science" question (which is really a "Metaphysics vs. Science" question), I'll go with Science every time. The scientific method has trounced logical argument time and time again.

Even if there turns out to be case... (read more)

Feynman Paths

What Roland's PS said :)

The Quantum Arena

Nick - thanks for the link. I admit I tend to glaze over the comments as many of them are frankly over my head. I re-read yours and it makes more sense to me.

The Quantum Arena

(This is a repost of a comment I made a few days ago under the topic "Distinct Configurations", but if someone could address this, I would really appreciate it.)

So I guess I get how [configurations being the same as long as all the particles end up in the same place] works in theory, but in practice, doesn't a particle going from A-B have SOME kind of effect that is different than if it went from B-C, even without the sensitive thingy? I don't know if it would be from bouncing off other particles on the way, or having some kind of minute gravitat... (read more)

Distinct Configurations

So I guess I get how this works in theory, but in practice, doesn't a particle going from A-B have SOME kind of effect that is different than if it went from B-C, even without the sensitive thingy? I don't know if it would be from bouncing off other particles on the way, or having some kind of minute gravitational effect on the rest of the universe, or what. And if that is the case, shouldn't the experiments always behave the as if there WERE that sensitive thingy there? Or is it really possible to set it up so there is literally NO difference in all the particle positions in the universe no matter which path is taken?

One of the previous comments (I think in the previous post) pointed out that yes, indeed this does occur - but that these effects mainly cancel each other out. In my mind this works somewhat like Brownian motion: lots of tiny pushes, but overall, it continues in roughly the same way. ie, mostly the photon carries on as though it hasn't changed configuration space in any significant way.
Quantum Explanations

Cool! I am REALLY looking forward to this. Even if I don't end up grasping QM after this series, at least you are taking an honest shot at it. I can't stand it when I try to ask someone (that allegedly knows this stuff) about QM and they come back with, "it is so strange you can't even try to understand it, but here are the results of various QM experiments".

Zombies! Zombies?

I haven't read Chalmers book, so I am just going by what I read here, but at the beginning of the post you promise to show the zombie world as logically impossible, but never deliver; you show that it is improbable enough to be perhaps be considered practically impossible, but since we are just dealing with a "thought experiment," that is irrelevant. For example, I do not think that everyone around me is a zombie. In fact, I'd bet all the money I have that they aren't. But I still don't KNOW they aren't, the way I KNOW that I am not.

On another no... (read more)

Brain Breakthrough! It's Made of Neurons!

I think this is the reason that some rationalists seem to find consciousness so disturbing; objective consequences are THE way to determine if something "exists," except in the case of consciousness, and in that special case, the probability of it actually existing, at least for one person (namely, me) is 1.

Why is consciousness a special case? I've been reading through these discussions on consciousness, and I've taken the time to read Richard's external blogs on the subject, and I still have not found a single concrete reason why I should expect "consciousness" to be a special case. It really, truly does sound an awful lot like phlogiston. It seems to me that the idea has been backing into a corner for the last few decades, as more and more is understood about the brain and how it works, there seems to be less and less room for this ephemeral idea of consciousness. Eliezer & Co. certainly could be wrong about consciousness, and Richard & Co. could be right, but Eliezer's position seems to me to be the far more defensible and realistic position. The idea of a consciousness that is not tied to the physical is certainly romantic. Unfortunately, the universe as I understand it does not leave much room for such an idea, and the space in which it may be found continues to shrink. It has already gotten to the point where Richard can only argue for a concept of consciousness that seems entirely pointless, so why bother with it at all?
Brain Breakthrough! It's Made of Neurons!

Caledonian - the problem is, while we cannot show that consciousness exists in anything besides ourselves; we KNOW it at least exists inside ourselves. We know it more than we know that the earth exists, or that there are physical laws, etc. But when it comes to entities other than ourselves, it may as well be phlogiston; we can make ZERO predictions that would confirm or deny its existence. This is what makes it qualitatively different from any other phenomenon out there.

How do you know that consciousness exists within you? I thought that the point of dualism ala chalmers is that consciousness is something which cannot possibly be objectively examined?
New York OB Meetup (ad-hoc) on Monday, Mar 24, @6pm

The book Eliezer suggested was Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. The course I am going to take is offered here and here. The list of all courses is here. The course I am looking at is an undergrad one; I figure that will give me a good idea of where I want to go with AI, whether that be pursuing my Masters or some other route....

Amazing Breakthrough Day: April 1st

Not quite the same, but you may enjoy the following from The Onion, where April Fools Day is a year-round event: "Buoyant Force On Area Object Equal To Weight Of Water Displaced"

Dead link. Now here [] .
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