moridinamael

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How can there be a godless moral world ?

There are already many good answers in this thread but your question as stated can be answered very simply. First I ask if you can accept that I have within me “a morality.” I have beliefs about right and wrong, and a system for judging actions and outcomes; that’s probably all that’s required to qualify. So that’s one morality that exists, namely mine. It’s not a cosmic, all-pervading, True morality, but it’s a morality, and that’s what you asked for.

I don’t know if the following will appeal to the gut or not, but here goes: people only very rarely make decisions based on morality, or on expected utility, or on any kind of explicit basis for distinguishing the better choice. Most choices have no obvious moral dimension. The only times when someone invokes morality or utilitarianism is when two different parts of their mind want two different things and they need some kind of judgement call from the ref on which option will be more in alignment with all the stuff you want. The reason you don’t commit mass murder has nothing to do with morality. The reason you choose to reduce your meat consumption might have something to do with morality, or might not.

The reason I bring that up is that the existence or nonexistence of ultimate cosmic morality is probably not all that important, practically speaking. You won’t do things that you deeply feel are immoral for the same reason you won’t intentionally smash your hand with a hammer. If you find yourself frequently doing immoral things, you probably don’t really think they’re all that immoral, and/or “immoral” has become a dangerously meaningless symbol in your mind.

Which rationalists faced significant side-effects from COVID-19 vaccination?

Pfizer. First shot caused pain at the injection site that lasted about 24 hours. Second shot led to about twelve hours of what I would call moderately severe flu symptoms. Chills, exhaustion, headache (though one should note that the slightest breeze will give me a headache), brainfog. I basically slept all day, and woke up feeling fine the next morning.

Reply to Nate Soares on Dolphins

I think we only need to consider pragmatism. 

It is useful to be able to ask a butcher for their fish selection and not be shown sea snail, crab, and dolphin.

It is useful to be able to say "I saw a fish!" and have the listener know you mean a fish and not a saltwater crocodile or sea snake.

It's a useful category to keep distinct.

It's like poetry, they rhyme: Lanier and Yudkowsky, Weyl and S-s... Alexander

After reading this article and the Scott/Weyl exchanges, I'm left with the impression that one side is saying: "We should be building bicycles for the mind, not trying to replace human intellect." And the other side is trying to point out: "There is no firm criteria by which we can label a given piece of technology a bicycle for the mind versus a replacement for human intellect." 

Perhaps uncharitably, it seems like Weyl is saying to us, "See, what you should be doing is working on bicycles for the mind, like this complicated mechanism design thing that I've made." And Scott is sort of saying, "By what measure are you entitle to describe that particular complicated piece of gadgetry a bicycle for the mind, while I am not allowed to call some sort of sci-fi exocortical AI assistant a bicycle for the mind?" And then Weyl, instead of really attempting to provide that distinction, simply lists a bunch of names of other people who had strong opinions about bicycles.

Parenthetically, I'm reminded of the idea from the Dune saga that it wasn't just AI that was eliminated in the Butlerian Jihad, but rather, the enemy was considered to be the "machine attitude" itself. That is, the attitude that we should even be trying to reduce human labor through automation. The result of this process is a universe locked in feudal stagnation and tyranny for thousands of years. To this day I'm not sure if Herbert intended us to agree that the Butlerian Jihad was a good idea, or to notice that his universe of Mentats and Guild Navigators was also a nightmare dystopia. In any case, the Dune universe has lasguns, spaceships, and personal shields, but no bicycles that I can recall.

Get your gun license

Gun ownership requires a license.

In some (many?) states owning a gun does not require a license, but carrying a loaded gun on your person does.

Can you improve IQ by practicing IQ tests?

Short answer, yes you can get better at IQ tests by learning the common patterns and practicing the tests. Some people do so, and reach very high IQ scores. But there is essentially no reward for doing this, and thus almost no one bothers to do it. In the absence of practice, IQ is an empirically relatively stable metric which correlates with a number of other empirical outcomes, about as well as anything in the social sciences ever does.

Auctioning Off the Top Slot in Your Reading List

I do this for movies, and formerly did it for books and TV shows, but people mainly try to just pay me to watch anime.

Book review: "A Thousand Brains" by Jeff Hawkins

I think the way this could, work, conceptually, is as follows. Maybe the Old Brain does have specific "detectors" for specific events like: are people smiling at me, glaring at me, shouting at me, hitting me; has something that was "mine" been stolen from me; is that cluster of sensations an "agent"; does this hurt, or feel good. These seem to be the kinds of events the small children, most mammals, and even some reptiles seem to be able to understand.

The neocortex then constructs increasingly nuanced models based on these base level events. It builds up a fairly sophisticated cognitive behavior such as, for example, romantic jealousy, or the desire to win a game, or the perception that a specific person is a rival, or a long-term plan to get a college degree, by gradually linking up elements of its learned world model with internal imagined expectations of ending up in states that it natively perceives (with the Old Brain) as good or bad. 

Obviously the neocortex isn't just passively learning, it's also constantly doing forward-modeling/prediction using its learned model to try to navigate toward desirable states. Imagined instances of burning your hand on a stove are linked with real memories of burning your hand on a stove, and thus imagined plans that would lead to burning your hand on the stove are perceived as undesirable, because the Old Brain knows instinctively (i.e. without needing to learn) that this is a bad outcome.

eta: Not wholly my original thought, but I think one of the main purposes of dreams is to provide large amounts of simulated data aimed at linking up the neocortical model of reality with the Old Brain. The sorts of things that happen in dreams tend to often be very dramatic and scary. I think the sleeping brain is intentionally seeking out parts of the state space that agitate the Old Brain in order to link up the map of the outside world with the inner sense of innate goodness and badness.

Logan Strohl on exercise norms

This struck me as well.

gymnastics, soccer, dance, yoga, martial arts, running, weight lifting, swimming, cycling, hiking

Part of my brain reads this list as "Broken bones, busted knees, torn ankle ligaments, burst spinal and knee cushions." I can associate many of my forays into fitness with a particular chronic injury. Basketball, ankle doesn't work right anymore. Taekwondo, toes on right foot no longer support my weight.

I'm sure there are plenty of people who don't accrue all these injuries when they exercise. A cursory Googling suggests that there are some important genetic factors relating to connective tissue strength/integrity and/or recovery speed.

As I've gotten older, I've chosen to simply focus on keeping my resting heart rate solidly into what is considered a healthy zone. This is one of those easily measurable knobs that can be intervened upon from a number of directions. If somebody suggested that I need to pack on muscle to be healthier, I think I could argue pretty persuasively that they are wrong.

The (not so) paradoxical asymmetry between position and momentum

I doubt that I understand this very well. I thought there was a chance I might help and also a chance that I would be so obviously wrong that I would learn something.

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