It gets interesting when the pebblesorters turn on a correctly functioning FAI, which starts telling them that they should build a pile of 108301 and legislative bodies spend the next decade debating whether or not it is in fact a correct pile. "How does this AI know better anyway? That looks new and strange." "That doesn't sound correct to me at all. You'd have to be crazy to build 108301. It's so different from 2029! It's a slippery slope to 256!" And so on.
This really is a fantastic parable--it shows off perhaps a dozen different aspects of the forrest we were missing for the trees.
Not to start a traditional puzzle flame war, but can someone clarify for me the situation where at least three people on the island have blue eyes? It seems that in this case everyone knows that everyone knows [...] that there is "at least one person with blue eyes".
Blue-eyed person A: "Look at that poor sap over there with the blue eyes [B]. I bet he thinks there's only one person with blue eyes [C] on this island. Little does he know!"
Ben, I quite agree. Paul, I think that's what I was saying, in fact. That to start talking about it as a matter of morals is to oversell how hard of a question it is. It's the proverbial red button that keeps the world from blowing up. Sometimes the answer is obvious.
Paul, I was just as confused as you, but in the context of the paragraph, it makes sense. The preceding sentence added, it reads:
"The fact that our ethical intuitions have their roots in biology reveals that our efforts to ground ethics in religious conceptions of "moral duty" are misguided. Saving a drowning child is no more a moral duty than understanding a syllogism is a logical one."
The point appears to be that using the word duty adds too much conscious thought where there is none. Our selfish genes make us lust to save the child, regardless of how we justify it later that day while wearing a smoking jacket and scratching our beards. Similarly, it makes no sense to talk about syllogisms as "logical duties". You have to have understood them before you are even capable of having that discussion.
I assure you, if there is one thing that Robert Anson Heinlein considered holy, it was logic. Wait, maybe it was free love. But if there were TWO THINGS he considered holy...
If you read any of his future histories, you see tales of libertarian utopias set free by humans achieving, if not surpassing, the rationality of which evolved human minds are capable.
My favorite RAH excerpt, from Coventry:
First, they junked the concept of Justice. Examined semantically "justice" has no referent - there is no observable phenomenon in the space-time-matter continuum to which one can point, and say "This is justice". Science can deal only with that which can be observed and measured. Justice is not such a matter; therefore it can never have the same meaning to one as to another; any "noises" said about it will only add to confusion.
Since they had abandoned the concept of "justice", there could be no rational standards of punishment. Penology took its place with lycanthropy and other forgotten witchcrafts.
Woops, looks like I may have shot myself in the foot. The same way argument screens off authority, the actual experiment that was run screens off the intentions of the researcher.
Efficacy of the drug -> Results of the experiment <- Bias of the researcher
Efficacy, Bias -> Results of the experiment -> Our analysis of the efficacy of the drug
Doug S., I agree on principle, but disagree on your particular example because it is not statistical in nature. Should we not be hugging the query "Is the argument sound?" If a random monkey typed up a third identical argument and put it in the envelope, it's just as true. The difference between this and the a medical trial is that we have an independent means to verify the truth. Argument screens off Methodology...
If evidence is collected in violation of the fourth amendment rights of the accused, it's inadmissable in court, yes, but that doesn't mean that, ceteris paribus, the prosecution KNOWS LESS than if it were obtained legally.
So, when do I start agreeing with you? Here: The problem lies in the fact that the two trial methodologies create different sorts of Everett branches. The fact that the methodologies differed is ITSELF a piece of evidence which the esteemed Mr. Yudkosky doesn't appear to have room for in this Bayesian analysis. I agree that the relevant post appears to be What Evidence Filtered Evidence?
Eliezer, can we get some confidence intervals on those time estimations? If nothing else, I'd like to know what your thought process is about what would go into rediscovering calculus in a month.