All of savanik's Comments + Replies

You could put strict statistical definitions around it if you wanted, but the general idea is, 'infants grow up to be self-aware adults'.

This may not always be true for exotic species. Plenty of species in nature, for example, reproduce by throwing out millions of eggs / spores/ what have you that only a small fraction of which grow up to be adults. Ideally, any sort of rule you'd come up with should be universal, regardless of the form of intelligence.

At some point, some computer programs would have to be considered to be people and have a right to existence. But at what stage of development would that happen?

As for the first part, I would say that it's fairly common for an individual and a society to not have perfectly identical values or ethical rules. Should I be saying 'morals' for the values of society instead?

I would hope that ethical vegetarians can at least give me the reasons for their boundaries. If they're not eating meat because they don't want animals to suffer, they should be able to define how they draw the line where the capacity to suffer begins.

You do bring up a good point - most psychologists would agree that babies go through a period before... (read more)

1Scott Garrabrant10y
'This being will, given standard development, gain self-awareness' is a common reason that I missed. I am partially confused by it, because this notion of "standard development" is not easily defined, like "default" in negotiations.

Let's assume society decides that eating meat from animals lacking self-awareness is ethical, and anything with self-awareness is not ethical to eat, and that we have a reliable test to tell the difference. Is it ethical to deliberately breed tasty animals to lack self-awareness, both before or after their species has self-awareness?

My initial reaction to the latter is 'no, it's not ethical, because you would necessarily be using force on self-aware entities as part of the breeding process'. The first part of the question seems to lean towards 'yes', but t... (read more)

4Scott Garrabrant10y
I think any question of the form "Assume X is ethical, is X' also ethical?" is inherently malformed. If my ethics do not follow X, then the change in my ethics which causes me to include X may be very relevant to X'. I don't think anyone who is a vegetarian regardless of self-awareness would be able to answer the question you are asking. I think the big question that implies this one is "Should we eat baby humans? Why?" I believe the answer is "No, because there is no convenient place to draw the line between baby and adult, so we should put the line at the beginning, and because other people may have strong emotional attachment to the baby." I think the first part of my reason is eliminated by your "reliable test." If the test is completely reliable, that is a very good place to draw the line. The second part is not going away. It has been evolved in us for a very long time, however, it is not clear if people will get the same attachment to non-human babies. I think that our attachment to non-humans is much lower, and there is not a significant difference between their attachment before and after self awareness. However, the question asked assumes that our ethics distinguish between creatures with and without self awareness. If that distinction is caused by us having different levels of emotional attachment to the animal depending on its self awareness, then it would change my answer.

It's not so much a matter of disagreement as being able to come up with solid counterexamples that a theoretical 'common person' would agree with.

For instance: If you want to get someone a gift for a birthday, it is a common social convention that the exact gift should be kept a secret from the receiver until their birthday.

As ChristianKI indicated, sometimes you must keep secrets either for social or professional obligations. A good example would be where doctors are required to keep patient records from unauthorized access (by law, no less).

Normally, peo... (read more)

I don't think it's that easy. I want the right to take note about secrets that my friends tell me in my evernote account. I want to be able to take those notes without violating a promise that I gave my friend to keep his secret. Let's say Alice confines her friends Bob and Coral that she has a drug problem. She's a cocaine addict. She gets them to promise to keep the information secret. In the current situation the two would violate that promise if they would talk about the problem on the telephone. I think you could argue that there an implicit demand for that secrecy even if Alice doesn't specifically ask for secrecy. Communicating the information on an unencrypted channel is morally questionable. Bob is not allowed to just call Alice and ask her whether she succeeded in being clean for the last days. Bob has the choice between, establishing an encrypted channel to talk to Alice, not help her by providing social support on the issue over the telephone or violating his secrecy promise. If Alice wants to get a security clearance for her job she might be out of luck if the conversation with Bob is captured by government computers. When talking about people who claim they have nothing to hide, I think that's the best strategy. Showing them how they potentially hurt other people or at least break promises they make to other people.

Oh, I thought your main concern was about the logic, not the propositions.

Cases where you done nothing wrong yet have something to hide:

  • The bathroom window of my house doesn't close well, just push the top from outsides and it'll come open. Also I'm on holidays the first two weeks of November.
  • Harry Potter dies in the next HPMOR chapter
  • I'm actually really desperate for this job and would actually accept half the salary I'm asking for
  • I actually find your conversation extremely boring

I've been thinking about this statement in particular: 'If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide.' People naturally seem to gravitate to the logical contraposition: If P, then Q. Therefore if !Q, then !P. If you have something to hide, then you MUST have done something wrong. Drawing from this logical statement, they infer that anyone who even tries to hide anything MUST be doing something wrong.

It seems obvious to me, however, that not all people who attempt to hide things have done something wrong. Where is the logical error? Is it in the inversion of 'nothing' and 'something'? It's been a long time since my symbolic logic courses involving the negation of universal quantification.

This assumes that there are two categories of things: Right and wrong. In real life that's not the case. If someone tries to judge us their is information that makes him think very highly of us and information that positive but doesn't have such a big impact. If you can control that someone only get's to see the information that makes you look really awesome you achieved something by hiding the information that makes you look medicore. Nothing you have done needs to be below some threshold that makes it wrong for you to have an advantage by hiding the worst things that you did. As the quality of the things you did naturally fluctuates there will always be worst things. You could also have done something that a AI that analyses your habits likely pattern matches as suspicious. Given modern technology that means that you will less likely get a good rate when you want to get your mortgage. Government can also give you trouble with extra inspections when you pattern match to be a dangerous person. It's not directly punishment but when you run a restaurant and you get more food safety inspections than your competitors because you pattern match to be a dangerous person it still hurts you. If you fly the TSA will bug you if you score highly on some metric. An AI analyses all communication data and those people who look suspicious will get flagged for extra scrutiny. In our society we also have a concept that it's okay to speak with friends in confidence. If you tell a friend that you protect a secret that he tells you, you have something to hide. I don't think anyone would argue that it's morally wrong to promise a friend that you will protect a secret he tells you. If someone asks you whether you are feeling alright, you might not want to talk about a problem that you are facing with that person and hide the problem from them. That in no way implies that you think having the problem is "wrong" it just means that you don't think that you will profit from discussing t
I think the question is poorly formulated. If you say: P: you have done something wrong Q: you have a reason to hide something P->Q: If you have done something wrong, then you have a reason to hide something !Q->!P: If you do not have a reason to hide something, then you have not done something wrong Which seems quite consistent to me, as it makes it possible to have a reason to hide something without having done something wrong. The negations of the original are throwing me, and I think the if-then phrase might be backwards as the causality should be doing something wrong causes you to have something to hide, rather than the reverse. My logic course was long enough ago that I can't pin it exactly.

If you disagree with "anyone who even tries to hide anything MUST be doing something wrong.", then you disagree with it's logically equivalent contraposition 'If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide.'. And indeed you do, you say there are people who've done nothing wrong but do have something to hide. There's no logical error, you just disagree with a premise.

Um, the statement "If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide" is wrong to start with. EDIT: Deleted the mistaken part of the post -- was reading too fast and screwed up the formal logic counter-example. Mea culpa

Based on JMiller's statements regarding 'prerequisites', it implies that he is seeking college-level courses in computer programming, and attempting to pass the classes to get access to the advanced Computer Programming classes in a C.S. degree. As a C.S. major, I can assure you that Calculus is considered a prerequisite to many programming courses. Computer Science is (still!) considered to be primarily a Math degree.

@JMiller: I regret to inform you that RolfAndreassen is correct in most other regards, however. If you want to learn computer programming, d... (read more)

As I mentioned in another comment, I am not necessarily looking to become a programmer. I am more interested in big-picture design and management, but I figured that I ought to get as good fundamentals as possible first.