RobertLumley

RobertLumley's Comments

May 2014 Media Thread

Long time no see LW. Glad to see this is still going.

Anyway, after finding the first half of the premier season mediocre and giving up on it, I recently tried to get back into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and am happy to say that the second half was some of the best television I've seen since, well, Joss Whedon's last television show.

On not getting a job as an option

I am from the US, and work in manufacturing, which is even more culturally conservative. But this isn't out of line with any other experiences I've had.

On not getting a job as an option

There will be at least a year per every child

This seems to be wildly off based on my experiences. Women I know (with working husbands) having children are taking 2-3 months off.

Rationality Quotes August 2013

This seems like a poor strategy by simply considering temper tantrums, let alone all of the other holes in this. (The first half of the comment though, I can at least appreciate.)

More "Stupid" Questions

I like to draw a (rather pretentious) delineation between music and songs, the archetypal examples being, say Beethoven's fifth symphony and "Call Me Maybe". (As a side note, I very much consider it possible for something to both be a "song" and "music") I enjoy music because I played a few instruments and sang when I was younger, so I know enough musical theory to appreciate the artistry it took to come up with the structure in the music, and (when appropriate) lyrics.

Contrarily, I enjoy songs (although happen to hate "Call Me Maybe") because they're fun and upbeat and keep me in a positive mood. You can find a song to fit most moods, and fitting them very closely is a very satisfying feeling. Once last week, I was in a very relaxed mood on my way home and set Sultans of Swing on repeat, because it fit how I was feeling very exactly. It was probably the happiest I have been in the last week. Additionally, sometimes songs have the ability to change my mood and/or motivate me to work harder, and I often exploit them for this purpose.

Group Rationality Diary, August 1-15

I want to answer about $3000, but I am pretty sure that's almost entirely because of priming. I think the honest answer is that I'm not sure I'm capable of eating meat anymore. Emotionally, I find it disgusting and repulsive. I almost certainly don't have the enzymes to digest meat anymore, as I've been a vegetarian for over two years. The resulting combination is... gastrically unpleasant.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 22, chapter 93

I kind of recently came to the realization that I think Eliezer meant Harry and Hermione's relationship to personify what he says often, which is "Utilitarianism is what is correct, virtue ethics is what works for human beings".

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 19, chapter 88-89

Soon, Harrry will do something somewhat clearly allegorical to FOOMed super AI.

Eliezer has stated that nothing in HPMOR is allegory for AI. I don't have a source for the quote, but I remember it very clearly, because it surprised me.

Exercise isn't necessarily good for people

FWIW, one of my takeaways from taking subjective measurements of my happiness, motivation, etc. everyday was that by far the biggest correlation was that I was happiest when I exercised more. But again, that's not really establishing causation.

Open Thread, May 1-14, 2013

I initially thought I would really like this article on consiousness after death. I did not. The guy comes off as a complete crackpot, given my understanding of neurobiology. (Although I won't dispute his overall point, nor would many here, I think, that we continue to exist for a bit after we are legally dead.) I would appreciate anyone who is so motivated to look up some things on why a lot of the things he says are completely bogus. I replied to the person who sent me this article with a fairly superficial analysis, but if anyone knows of some solid studies on this, I would like to know. I will paste what I've written below:

The guy sounds progressively more insane as the article goes on. And progressively more like he doesn't know things that I learned in my intro to neurobiology class, which makes me question his credentials a bit.

That being said, he's definitely correct in that the vast majority of evidence does not suggest that consciousness stops at the moment of death, and, in fact, suggests the opposite. I'm glad someone is doing the research into this stuff, but I do wish it weren't this guy.

For some specifics:

"All the evidence we have shows an association between certain parts of the brain and certain mental processes. But it’s a chicken and egg question: Does cellular activity produce the mind, or does the mind produce cellular activity?"

This has been pretty conclusively proven. They've stuck electrodes in peoples brains and turned them on and forced them to raise their arms against their "will". I don't think this leaves much room for doubt in this instance.

"Scientists have come to believe that the self is brain cell processes, but there’s never been an experiment to show how cells in the brain could possibly lead to human thought. If you look at a brain cell under a microscope, and I tell you, “this brain cell thinks I’m hungry,” that’s impossible."

Things like this makes it sound like he's confused about the entire subject of neurobiology... That is impossible because no single cell is ever responsible for signalling that. Or anything close to that complex. Thoughts are interactions of whole complexes of cells. To take an analogy to the visual cortex, that would be like saying a single rod "thinks" that a laptop is in front of me right now, when that's the combined activity of millions of rods (and cones) and the cells that are connected to them, and the layers and layers of abstraction and processing of that input that goes on beyond that. And the pruning of these branches makes a huge difference in all of this. The way you actually learn what a face is is that your face learns that neurons 5a, 5c, 5d, and 5e need to be firing while neurons 5b, 5f, and 5g aren't means it's likely a face pattern. (In turn, 5a is turned on or off by the combination of 4a, 4b, and 4c, and so on, etc.)

In a wild generalization, the way neurological development works, you start out with the neurological connections to pattern match anything you're exposed to effectively anything (Say you're exposed to things that look like Picasso paintings very very often, you'd get good at recognizing them and seeing them as normal). Those pathways that aren't commonly used die, and you're only left with the pathways that recognize the patterns that you're exposed to a lot. Which is why you're really good at recognizing faces (absurdly absurdly good, when you think about it) but don't instantly analyze the same subtle details of, say, a couch.

"It could be that, like electromagnetism, the human psyche and consciousness are a very subtle type of force that interacts with the brain, but are not necessarily produced by the brain. The jury is still out."

I honestly just think he's pattern matching with the category "scientific sounding phrases". Electromagnetism is the least subtle physical force (ie. the strongest), when you throw out the strong and weak nuclear forces. Gravity is actually the weakest force we know of, (it's like 10 times weaker than magnetism I think?) but he sounds like an idiot if you replace "electromagnetism" with "gravity". And rightly so. But he does it because, to the lay reader "electromagnetism" sounds mysterious and scientific, and "gravity" sounds dull and obvious.

And he never goes on to explain why we haven't detected this "force" with any instrumentation, even though it would be wildly easier to detect than to fully explain the interactions of all of the neurons in our brain. "It could be" that deep inside the atoms and quarks of every cell in our brains there is a tiny midget who is controlling what they do with puppet strings. But the sheer insanity of that being the way the world actually works makes me believe that it is a priori so absurdly unlikely as to not be worth considering without some really conclusive evidence.

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