Right, but it's that sort of transition from the descriptive and the prescriptive that I'm highlighting. In liberal philosophy the issue is much more subtle, but there has been a constant interchange between the descriptive and the prescriptive. So if you look at society as sovereign individuals engaged in contractual relationships with one another, that's essentially descriptive. It was intended to be descriptive. But then your model for why individuals give up some of their rights to have a state doesn't look right and the answer to that isn't to change ... (read more)
If you care about culture, (traditional) values and intact families, then democracy is empirically very bad (far from being "the worst form of government, except for all the others" it would place among the very worst). The question is then how you come to care about these things. For me it proceeded negatively: from a critical reading of political philosophy, I came to believe that the foundations of liberalism are incoherent; that what liberalism sees as constraints on individual freedom are nothing of the sort. That many of the norms, value... (read more)
[Please read the OP before voting. Special voting rules apply.]
Superintelligence is an incoherent concept. Intelligence explosion isn't possible.
How smart does a mind have to be to qualify as a "superintelligence"? It's pretty clear that intelligence can go a lot higher than current levels.
What do you predict would happen if we uploaded Von Neumann's brain onto an extremely fast, planet-sized supercomputer? What do you predict would happen if we selectively bred humans for intelligence for a couple million years? "Impractical" would be understandable, but I don't see how you can believe superintelligence is "incoherent".
As for "Intelligence explosion isn't possible", that's a lot more reasonable, e.g. see the entire AI foom debate.
All three projects - liberalism, socialism and progressivism - are related by common commitments that have their origins in Enlightenment political philosophy. Because progressives believe in systemic oppression, they have to alleviate systemic oppression in order to achieve liberty: we won't be truly free until we're free from racism, sexism, etc. They're still committed to value pluralism. All three projects faced the (paradoxical) issue of having to attain state power in order to enforce their vision. Liberal democracy was often created on the back of v... (read more)
It's an apt description of liberalism, of which progressivism is a species, which is defined by an open pluralism regarding what counts as the good. Progressives add a belief in systemic oppression - i.e., oppression by cultural norms and values, which they try to alleviate, but the goal is the same as classical liberalism: liberty from perceived oppression. Regardless, if you conceive of society as a power-structure, whether you take the classical liberal belief that we're oppressed by state and church, the socialist belief that we're oppressed by class s... (read more)
Hawking's philosophy-bashing was at Google Zeitgeist:
Tyson's comments were in this podcast:
Transcript of the comments here:
Krauss set things off in this interview:
Yes, when I gave up consequentialism for virtue ethics it was both a huge source of personal insight and led to insights into politics, economics, management, etc. I'm of the belief that the central problem in modern society is that we inherited a bad moral philosophy and applied it to politics, management, the economy, personal relationships, etc.
I'm not sure why you're dismissing building character as an explanation. Something builds character if it helps a person develop virtues such as patience, perseverance, humility, temperance, etc. Committing to a difficult activity can obviously do this, perhaps more so if it is not instrumental. There's also the sense in which an activity can be a test of character, so that completing it reveals (to oneself and others) virtues (or room for improvement). I find "direct hedonic value" far more suspicious, since most "rewarding" activities... (read more)
It depends what you mean by transformative. Perhaps there aren't many innovations left that would change the lives of ordinary people, but there are plenty that would change the scale of our civilisation: space industry, robotics, fusion, etc.
Here's an interesting contrast: When I first moved from a small town to a big city I was fascinated by the fact that people cannot perform the simple task of walking down the street. Their attention is constantly being drawn to other things, they apparently have no awareness of or concern for other people, etc. They're constantly stopping dead in front of you, even though they're certainly aware they're on a busy street. They talk on their phones, text, play games, they even walk along reading novels. If they meet someone they know, they'll stop and have a... (read more)
I try to view problems as opportunities. If it's raining outside, that's training in the rain. Snowing? Awesome, snow running! Too hot? High-temperature training. Too cold? Low-temperature training. I'm too tired? Fatigue training. I also try to look at things from what I call a "mediative" point of view. So let's say I'm out running my regular route but it's cold, windy, raining, etc, and I feel miserable. I try to remember how I felt running the same route on a beautiful day and bring my mind back to that state. Or if I'm fatigued, I try to rem... (read more)
Mere stipulation secures very little though. Consider the following scenario: I start wearing a medallion around my neck and stipulate that, so long as these medallion survives intact, I am to be considered alive, regardless of what befalls me. This is essentially equivalent to what you'd be doing in stipulating survival in the uploading scenario. You'd secure 'survival', perhaps, but the would-be uploader has a lot more work to do. You need also to stipulate that when the upload says "On my 6th birthday..." he's referring to your 6th birthday, e... (read more)
I agree that uploading is copying-then-death. I think you're basically correct with your thought experiment, but your worries about vagueness are unfounded. The appropriate question is what counts as death? Consider the following two scenarios: 1. A copy of you is stored on a supercomputer and you're then obliterated in a furnace. 2. A procedure is being performed on your brain, you're awake the entire time, and you remain coherent throughout. In scenario 1 we have a paradigmatic example of death: obliteration in a furnace. In scenario 2 we have a paradigm... (read more)
Move something eye-catching into an odd place where you'll see it shortly after waking up in the morning. Whenever you see it say to yourself, "I put that there."
I'm not sure about introspectionism, but I'm sure you could find theories that have produced bad outcomes and had mainstream acceptance, particularly in medicine. I suppose the alternative is to remain noncommittal.
Look at something like psychology. If you'd deferred to the leading authorities over the past 100 years, you would have been an introspectionist, then a behaviourist, then a cognitive scientist and now you'd probably be a cognitive neuroscientist. Note that these paradigms primarily differ on what they think counts as evidence, rather than quality or quantity of evidence. They all performed experiments. They share many of the same experimental methods. They all had numerous results they could point to and a neat story about how the same method could be car... (read more)
"I'm in the habit of talking about my original's experiences as though they're mine, because I experience them as though they were" appears to be a form of delusion to me. If somebody went around pretending to be Napoleon (answering to the name Napoleon, talking about having done the things Napoleon did, etc) and answered all questions as if they were Napoleon but, when challenged, reassured you that of course they're not Napoleon, they just have the habit of talking as if they are Napoleon because they experience life as Napoleon would, would yo... (read more)
If the duplicate says "I did X on my nth birthday" it's not true since it didn't even exist. If I claim that I met Shakespeare you can say, "But you weren't even born!" So what does the duplicate say when I point out that it didn't exist at that time? "I did but in a different body" (or "I was a different body")? That implies that something has been transferred. Or does it say, "A different body did, not me"? But then it has no relationship with that body at all. Or perhaps it says, "The Original did X... (read more)
The preferences aren't symmetrical. Discovering that you're a duplicate involves discovering that you've been deceived or that you're delusional, whereas dying is dying. From the point of view of the duplicate, what you're saying amounts to borderline solipsism; you don't care if any of your beliefs, memories, etc, match up with reality. You think being deluded is acceptable as long as the delusion is sufficiently complete. From your point of view, you don't care about your survival, as long as somebody is deluded into thinking they're you.
Well, I would say the question of whether ball had the "same" bounciness when you filled it back up with air would either mean just that it bounces the same way (i.e., has the same amount of air in it) or is meaningless. The same goes for your faculties. I don't think the question of whether you're the same person when you wake up as when you went to sleep - absent your being abducted and replaced with a doppelgänger - is meaningful. What would "sameness" or "difference" here mean? That seems to me to be another case of concei... (read more)
It's the loss of faculties that constitutes the loss of identity, but faculties aren't transferable. For example, a ball might lose its bounciness if it is deflated and regain it if it is reinflated, but there's no such thing as transferring bounciness from one ball to another or one ball having the bounciness of another. The various faculties that constitute my identity can be lost and sometimes regained but cannot be transferred or stored. They have no separate existence.
I wouldn't say that a brain transplant is nothing at all like a heart transplant. I don't take the brain to have any special properties. However, this is one of those situations where identity can become vague. These things lie on a continuum. The brain is tied up with everything we do, all the ways in which we express our identity, so it's more related to identity than the heart. People with severe brain damage can suffer a loss of identity (i.e., severe memory loss, severe personality change, permanent vegetative state, etc). You can be rough and ready w... (read more)
I don't see how using more detailed measurements makes it any less a cultural practice. There isn't a limit you can pass where doing something according to a standard suddenly becomes a physical relationship. Regardless, consider that you could create as many copies to that standard as you wished, so you now have a one-to-many relationship of "identity" according to your scenario. Such a type-token relationship is typical of norm-based standards (such as mediums of representation) because they are norm-based standards (that is, because you can make as many according to the standard as you wish).
That's essentially correct. Preservation of your brain is preservation of your brain, whereas preservation of a representation of your brain (X) is not preservation of your brain or any aspect of you. The existence of a representation of you (regardless of detail) has no relationship to your survival whatsoever. Some people want to be remembered after they're dead, so I suppose having a likeness of yourself created could be a way to achieve that (albeit an ethically questionable one if it involved creating a living being).
The brain constructed in your likeness is only normatively related to your brain. That's the point I'm making. The step where you make a description of the brain is done according to a practice of representation. There is no causal relationship between the initial brain and the created brain. (Or, rather, any causal relationship is massively disperse through human society and history.) It's a human being, or perhaps a computer programmed by human beings, in a cultural context with certain practices of representation, that creates the brain according to a s... (read more)
In the example being discussed we have a body. I can't think of a clearer example of death than one where you can point to the corpse or remains. You couldn't assert that you died 25 minutes ago - since death is the termination of your existence and so logically precludes asserting anything (nothing could count as evidence for you doing anything after death, although your corpse might do things) - but if somebody else asserted that you died 25 minutes ago then they could presumably point to your remains, or explain what happened to them. If you continued t... (read more)
I take it that my death and the being's ab initio creation are both facts. These aren't theoretical claims. The claim that I am "really" a description of my brain (that I am information, pattern, etc) is as nonsensical as the claim that I am really my own portrait, and so couldn't amount to a theory. In fact, the situation is analogous to someone taking a photo of my corpse and creating a being based on its likeness. The accuracy of the resulting being's behaviour, its ability to fool others, and its own confused state doesn't make any difference... (read more)
It would have false memories, etc, and having my false memories, it would presumably know that these are false memories and that it has no right to assume my identity, contact my friends and family, court my spouse, etc, simply because it (falsely) thinks itself to have some connection with me (to have had my past experiences). It might still contact them anyway, given that I imagine its emotional state would be fragile; it would surely be a very difficult situation to be in. A situation that would probably horrify everybody involved.
I suppose, to put myse... (read more)
I was referring cryonics scenarios where the brain is being scanned because you cannot be revived and a new entity is being created based on the scan, so I was assuming that your brain is no longer viable rather than that the scan is destructive.
The resulting being, if possible, would be a being that is confused about its identity. It would be a cruel joke played on those who know me and, possibly, on the being itself (depending on the type of being it is). I am not my likeness.
Consider that, if you had this technology, you could presumably create a being ... (read more)
The problem with the computationalist view is that it confuses the representation with what is represented. No account of the structure of the brain is the brain. A detailed map of the neurons isn't any better than a child's crude drawing of a brain in this respect. The problem isn't the level of detail, it's that it makes no sense to claim a representation is the thing represented. Of course, the source of this confusion is the equally confused idea that the brain itself is a sort of computer and contains representations, information, etc. The confusions ... (read more)
I'm not quite sure what you're saying. I don't think there's a way to identify whether a goal is meaningless at a more fundamental level of description. Obviously Bob would be prone to say things like "today I did x in pursuit of my goal of time travel" but there's no way of telling that it's meaningless at any other level than that of meaning, i.e., with respect to language. Other than that, it seems to me that he'd be doing pretty much the same things, physically speaking, as someone pursuing a meaningful goal. He might even do useful things, like make breakthroughs in theoretical physics, despite being wholly confused about what he's doing.
You're right that a meaningless goal cannot be pursued, but nor can you be said to even attempt to pursue it - i.e., the pursuit of a meaningless goal is itself a meaningless activity. Bob can't put any effort into his goal of time travel, he can only confusedly do things he mistakenly thinks of as "pursuing the goal of time travel", because pursuing the goal of time travel isn't a possible activity. What Bob has learned is that he wasn't pursuing the goal of time travel to begin with. He was altogether wrong about having a terminal value of travelling back in time and riding a dinosaur because there's no such thing.
I'd be willing to give this a shot, but his thesis, as stated, seems very slippery (I haven't read the book):
"Morality and values depend on the existence of conscious minds—and specifically on the fact that such minds can experience various forms of well-being and suffering in this universe."
This needs to be reworded but appears to be straightforwardly true and uncontroversial: morality is connected to well-being and suffering.
"Conscious minds and their states are natural phenomena, fully constrained by the laws of Nature (whatever these tur... (read more)
I think the told/meant distinction is confused. You're conflating different uses of "meant." When somebody misunderstands us, we say "I meant...", but it doesn't follow that when they do understand us we didn't mean what we told them! The "I meant..." is because they didn't get the meaning the first time. I can't do what I'm told without knowing what you meant; in fact, doing what I'm told always implies knowing what you meant. If I tried to follow your command, but didn't know what you meant by your command, I wouldn't be doi... (read more)
There's only two options here. Either the universe is made of atoms and void and a non-material Cartesian subject who experiences the appearance of something else or the universe is filled with trees, cars, stars, colours, meaningful expressions and signs, shapes, spatial arrangements, morally good and bad people and actions, smiles, pained expressions, etc, all of which, under the appropriate conditions, are directly perceived without mediation. Naturalism and skeptical reductionism are wholly incompatible: if it was just atoms and void there would be nothing to be fooled into thinking otherwise.
I think it helps to look at statements of personal narrative and whether they're meaningful and hence whether they can be true or false. So, for example, change is part of our personal narrative; we mature, we grow old, we suffer injuries, undergo illness, etc. Any philosophical conception of personal identity that leads to conclusions that make change problematic should be taken as a reductio ad absurdum of that conception and not a demonstration of the falsity of our common sense concepts (that is, it shows that the philosopher went wrong in attempting t... (read more)
I think they're all examples of compliance - i.e., in each example he gets them to go along with something that isn't true. The creepy clown is the most obvious. He has put her in a confusing situation and then makes her confusion look like agreement. He also appears to be mirroring and then provoking her body language. He manages to get her to not walk away and to say he's right, but most of the time she appears to be completely baffled. With the pet name, I suspect the main part of the trick is making the man wait an extremely long time and making him sy... (read more)
Wittgenstein advanced philosophy to the point where it could have become an applied discipline, having solved many philosophical problems once and for all, but philosopher's balked at the idea of an ultimate resolution to philosophical problems.
I think the view that automation is now destroying jobs, the view that the economy always re-allocates the workforce appropriately and the views defended in this anti-FAQ all rest on a faulty generalisation. The industrial revolution and the early phases of computerisation produced jobs for specific reasons. Factories required workers and computers required data entry. It wasn't a consequence of a general law of economics, it was a fortuitous consequence of the technology. We are now seeing the end of those specific reasons, but not because of a general tr... (read more)
I think this is just a limitation of comic book superheroes. They desire public recognition. In other traditions with analogous figures, particularly religion, being reviled is just another burden to be taken on by the hero. (Although this sometimes happens in comic books too. See the recent Batman movies.) I especially like the Tibetan Buddhist concept of "crazy wisdom." Tibetan folk heroes spend a lot of time shocking people out of their complacency and generally acting like supervillains. But it's all in the name of universal compassion. (Google "Drukpa Kunley" for a particularly entertaining example.)
I can compare the colour of a surface to the colour of a standardised colour chip, which is as objective as, say, measuring something using a ruler. Colours may not participate in any phenomena found in the physical scientist's laboratory, but they do participate in the behaviour of organisms found in the psychologist's laboratory. So I fail to see a problem here.
Indirect realism requires two mechanisms for veridical and non-veridical perception, the same as direct realism: one for when an object is seen and one for when it isn't. Direct realism is more
There's no such thing as my red or different reds that are individuated by perceiver. Different types of sensory organ allow us to see different aspects of the world. I'm blind to some aspects other animals can perceive and other animals are blind to some aspect I can perceive, and the same goes for various perceptual deficiencies.
It's very useful feedback. I have 82% positive. Going through my old comments, I found that a lot of comments I've made that I thought would be controversial actually had 100%. The comments that had a low percentage tended to be the ones where I hadn't expressed myself well. Given that I have a lot of unorthodox views, I found this reassuring.
I think there are potential examples of "suppressed" innovation due to our ideology. Our political ideology is based on a particular view of individual psychology and sociology. I mentioned the view of the state as an antagonistic actor and the idea that society doesn't transcend the individual. Both of these assumptions are absent from other traditions (pre-Englightenment West, Confucian, etc) and both appear to set the bounds of how we reason about people and society. I would add to this the idea that morality is problematic in that it doesn't ... (read more)
It depends how you define weirdness, I think. What I'm claiming, by use of examples, is that we have a very specific out-group/in-group separation. What we usually label "weird" is harmless in-group stuff. We might even use it to signal our tolerance/freedom/etc. What is actually weird to us, we tend not to define explicitly at all, but to separate by exclusion and by favouring in-group stuff without argument. Sometimes we consider it offensive. The examples in the original article are not great, I think, since our society is tolerant of people w... (read more)
Most intolerance doesn't announce itself. It usually dresses itself up as something positive.
The cynic in me would say the so-called tolerant people within our society aren't actually tolerant, rather they've adopted a potpourri of non-traditional behaviours in order to signal their faux tolerance, and then act with intolerance to so-called traditionalists (who are racist, homophobic, misogynist, authoritarian, etc). It all depends on how you value the liberal project. Personally I think it rests on shaky foundations, so I have some sympathy for this cynic... (read more)
Buddhism merely states that there's a psychological continuum in which there is nothing unchanging. The "self" that's precluded is just an unchanging one. (That said, in the Abhidharma there are unchanging elements from which this psychological continuum is constituted.) The Mahayana doctrine of emptiness (which isn't common to all Buddhism, just the schools that are now found in the Himalayas and East Asia) essentially states that everything is without inherent existence; things only exist as conditioned phenomena in relation to other things, no... (read more)
It's extremely important to realise what Luke is doing here, even if you agree with it. Cognitive science is a sub-discipline of psychology established to reflect a particular philosophical position. Cognitive neuroscience is a sub-discipline of neuroscience established to reflect a particular philosophical position. In both cases the philosophical position, within that sub-discipline, is assumed rather than defended. What Luke is doing is: (1) denying the legitimacy of other parts of behavioural and neural science, thus misrepresenting the diversity of sc... (read more)