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I´m really curious to know what you think about the other branch of ep that don´t rely as much on the more unstable assumptions of Tooby & Cosmides. I first dove into this field when I found an incredible volume titled The Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology by Dunbar(leader of EP program in Liverpool) and Barett, it seems awsome! It takes a couple of steps back in certainty, and is a lot more open for new developments in biology i.e. Nieche-construction(Laland) theory and Multi-level selection(David Sloan Wilson), also the speed of natural selection, the power of culture. I can not go into more detail because I don´t have access to the volume at this moment. But it is very recommended reading, if you are not already familiar with this branch of EP in the broad.

I would really like a reply from you, this is something very important for me! I first discovered EP from you and your work has been my main teacher about reality and the mind for the last 4 years! Have also been constructing a mails to you and other heroes and thinkers for ages, but I often do not feel smart enough to have the courage to contact you, I respect your time so much. But I am starting to grow up now, and might send that concise smart mail some day!

yes, keep on with a lower posting frequency!

And some dynamic page with a ToC of all the posts would be really great. So that you have a map when you want to study this material. Although I have read maybe 60%. I would still like to read most of it again! I konw there have been some collections, but they have not been dynaimc and well, not useful enough.

For a community I would find some kind of wiki-like system, where people try to build a map of the territory together much more useful, a normal wiki might not be the best though. Something like The Brain, but much much better would be cool. I really like Tomboy, but it is a desktop program.

If anyone would like to bring a videocamera or some other kind of recording device it would be greatly appreciated for us poor bastards living outside the U.S.!

Eliezer:Robin Brandt, is whatever increasing technology does to a society, moral progress by definition, or does increasing technology only tend to cause moral progress?

I see, I answered quite a different question there, I had a funny feeling of that while writing that comment.

Increasing technology tends to cause moral progress yes, by making moral choices economically and experientially(as in our experience of things) more strategic/optimal. It all boils down into satisfying our adapted pattern-recognizers that gives us pleasure or a feeling of righteousness. And the human brain is calibrated to exercise a absolute optimal general morality in a much limited way, because of limited mental and limited physical(food, mates, power) resources. But the "absoulte" general morality is by itself just a set of strategies, a soultion to a game-theoretic problem. It can never be in itself moral until some mind gives it that meaning. So morality without agents is just one of other mathematical structures. But when you are a mind you percieve your approximation(regulated by genes and learning) of morality as a strong emotion, parts of it close to what we call preference, parts of it very absolute.

Technology is the single most important thing for morality. As technology allows better resources, communication, documentation, safer paths for society emerge as in the difference between bonobos and chimps, where resources makes the species less aggressive. Also when we become economically dependent on each other due to specialization and can be held responsible for our actions due to documentation, the threshold for cheating increases. Also we seem to want to generalize as many principles we dare to, if we are healthy, feel safe and have plenty of resources we may think outsiders are okey, and may even provide a benefit, but when it is tough we may start a fight and defend our teritory. Moral progress is possible because of technological and organiational progress, which means more resources, more surveillance and communication, more dependence, more general coherence, therefore equality and safety. Our inner moral modalities don't change, the environment does, and so we adapt, the moral modalities are rather flexible and general, sadly not general enough. With nanotech and quantum computing, we will have even more resourcs, and therefore possibly better morality, but I would rather not take that chance, therefore Friendly AI...


"Other physicists argue that aspects of time are real, such as the relationships of causality, that record which events were the necessary causes of others. Penrose, Sorkin and Markopoulou have proposed models of quantum spacetime in which everything real reduces to these relationships of causality."

I guess Eliezer is already aware of these theories...

Great summary I have sent the link to all my friends! In the wait for some kind of TOC this is the best link yet to send people concerning this series.

I would like to know your opinion on Max Tegmarks ultimate ensemble theory! Or if someone knows Elis opinion on this wonderful theory, please tell me!

Are other bright scientists and philosophers aware of this blog? Do you send links to people when there is a topic that relates to them? Do you send links to the people you mention? Does Chalmers, Dennett, Pinker, Deutsch, Barbour, Pearl, Tegmark, Dawkins, Vinge, Egan, Hoftadter, McCarthy, Kurzweil, Smolin, Witten, Taleb, Shermer, Khaneman, Tooby, Cosmides, Aumann, Penrose, Hameroff etc. etc. know about all this?

They may all be wrong in one way or another, but they are certainly not stupid blind people.

And I think your writing would definitely interest all of these people and contribute to their work and journey towards the truth. So it would both be altruistic to send them the links, and exciting if they would comment!

Especially it would be nice if these people would comment on the posts where you show your dissagreement!

What is the argument behind the confident negative attitude towards string theory/M-theory? I am not a physicist, but in layman's eyes it seems elegant. Is there any special argument or is it just general skepticism towards big unproven theoretical models?

Also about the chocolate eating, you can get addicted so that you no longer even need the qualia keep on eating it. There seems to be a distinction between qualia induced choclate eating and addictive choclate eating where you continue eating although it does not taste so good anymore, wich if you notice the lameness of the qualia may make you stop eating. Why is that, if qualia is a mere confusion, there should not be such distinctions. It seems not rational to spend energy on producing qualia if they are not useful in any sense. But useful for what? Still qualia affecting our decisions seems rather impossibe to me, but that has to be a fact about my own confusion not about the territory.

Hopefully Anonymous:

It means that I used to belive the experience of consciousness/qualia/the hard problem is just like the sound of the heart, i.e. whitout any functional role. I never thought zombies would really be possible... just in principle. And I had my doubts even then. Don´t laugh at me because the functional role of qualia is not easy to understand.


I think you missed the point here. The question is why choclate eating feels like anything, it seems that the qulia should be unessecary for the brain function of chocolate eating behavior. The same goes with orgasm. They seem to be things that try to guide one part of the brain system with input with qualia from another in order to guide our behavior towards thinks that statistically makes us survive and reproduce. If qualia has no functional role, then the zombie argument is sound. Or this is how I have understood it attending consciousness studies here at Skövde with professor Antti Revonsuo who published his book Inner Pressence on MIT Press. If qualia would just be a confusion it seems highly unlikely that evolution would have spent any time making qualias just for the fun of it, and qualia has to be a real event taking place in the universe, a real event that needed some energy and information content to produce.

To deny qualia today is like the behaviorists who denied cognitive processes yesterday. You are smarter than that!

Or it may be that some of you actually don´t experience qualia, sometimes I encounter people who I really doubt experiences qualia in the normal way, especially in the autism spectrum. So if you suffer from any disorder, please mention that if you are talking about qualia. But my quess is that everybody has qualia, it may just be easier to deny them if they are not connected to emotions.

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