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An Orthodox Case Against Utility Functions


[waving hand]

As the approximation gets closer to the ideal, the results do as well. (The Less Wrong quote seems relevant.)

An Orthodox Case Against Utility Functions

The requirement about computability:

But what about the all-zero universe, 0000000...? The program must loop forever. We can't tell we're in the all-zero universe by examining any finite number of bits. You don't know whether you will eventually push the button.

An infinite loop may be a paradox. Perhaps the paradox exists only because of the infinity, or some confusion stemming from it or how it is used?*

What is the difference between 0.9999 that goes on forever, and 1? In the real numbers, 0.

How do you determine this? If you know the process generating the numbers you can tell.


1. If only a finite number of digits is relevant to your decision it doesn't matter. (Additionally, if a theory isn't falsifiable, a) should we consider the hypothesis?, and b) is there lower hanging fruit we should pick before trying to solve a potentially unsolvable problem?)

2. Wait. Where did you get an infinite number of bits (which you are unable to analyze because they are infinite) from? (Computability sounds nice, but absent arbitrarily large computing resources (i.e. infinite), in this universe, past a certain point, computability don't seem to exist in a practical sense.)

*It isn't necessarily clear that the environment must be computable. (Even if there is some proof of this, an agent unaware of the proof a) must function without it, b) decide whether it is worth investing the time to try and find/create it.)

To self-prime, we need [ways] to generat[e] priming material
Want your [subject of sentence] to
Confessions of a Transhumanist: On Life in Known Space


Producing content may improve your ability to create (quality) content. If that can help you advance your longer term goals, it may be very useful. If what you want is to create content that does something beyond simply being content, like 'changes/improves people's lives', then it may be useful to create some larger things to facilitate or measure that.


Some "effects" of content, in no particular order:
1. Someone reads the content and that has an effect on their life.
a) After reading a post on getting started with exercise, someone gets started with exercise. (Content leads to action.)
b) After reading a post and liking it, someone decides to read more of the author. (Content leads to reading.)
c) Reading one or more posts leads to someone having a new idea, which they write up. (Content leads to more content.)
2. Content which continues to exist (in it's original form) may continue to have effects like 1. (Above.)
3. The author gains something by making it, like:
a) ideas for more content
b) improved content making ability (writing skill, skill of translating ideas to content)
c) feedback that allows them to improve (similar to b, but feedback can be a form of content made by people other than the author, which can be beneficial for similar reasons to 'original' content)

Life as metaphor for everything else.
the spirit of vitalism lives on in those who persist in trying to find out if viruses are, after it all, really alive.

Try? It's been:

  • Pro: established that viruses evolve.
  • Con: decided by the committee that created the definition of life, that viruses are not alive, by definition.
I only care about animal rights because animals are alive

1. Imagine seeing someone take a sledgehammer to a beautiful statue. How do you feel?

2. Someone swats a mosquito. How do you feel?

- if they weren't alive, I wouldn't care about them.

Also, do you bury or eat the dead? (Animals, not humans. What about pets?)

NaiveTortoise's Short Form Feed

Solutions might be better to go with than proofs - if the answer is wrong, that's more straightforward to show that whether or not a proof is wrong.

Two Alternatives to Logical Counterfactuals

Source code doesn't entirely determine the result, inputs are also required.* Thus "logical counterfactuals" -reasoning about what a program will return if I input y? This can be done by asking 'if I had input y instead of x' or 'if I input y' even if I later decide to input x.

While it can be said that such considerations render one's "output" conditional on logic, they remain entirely conditional on reasoning about a model, which may be incorrect. It seems more useful to refer to such a relation as conditional on one's models/reasoning, or even processes in the world. A calculator may be misused - a 2 instead of a 3 here, hitting "=" one too many times, there, etc.

(Saying it is impossible for a rational agent that knows X to do Y, and agent A is not doing Y, does not establish that A is irrational - even if the premises are true, what follows is that A is not rational or does not know X.)

*Unless source code is defined as including the inputs.

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