vallinder

vallinder's Comments

New Philosophical Work on Solomonoff Induction

I don't think it's fair to say that "nobody understood induction in any kind of rigorous way until about 1968." The linked paper argues that Solomonoff prediction does not justify Occam's razor, but rather that it gives us a specific inductive assumption. And such inductive assumptions had previously been rigorously studied by Carnap among others.

But even if we grant that assumption, I don't see why we should find it surprising that science made progress without having a rigorous understanding of induction. In general, successfully engaging in some activity doesn't require having a rigorous understanding of that activity, and making inductive inferences is something that comes very natural to human beings.

Moreover, it seems that algorithmic information theory has (at best) had extremely limited impact on actual scientific practice in the decades since the field was born. So even if it does constitute the first rigorous understanding of induction, the lesson seems to be that scientific progress does not require such an understanding.

Is the orthogonality thesis at odds with moral realism?

Non-cognitivism strictly speaking doesn't imply the orthogonality thesis. For instance, one could consistently hold that increased intelligence leads to a convergence of the relevant non-cognitive attitudes. Admittedly, such a position appears implausible, which might explain the fact (if it is a fact) that non-cognitivists are more prone to accept the orthogonality thesis.

How to choose a country/city?

I don't think Sweden is significantly more transhumanist than several other western European countries. The fact that two influential transhumanists (Bostrom and Sandberg) are Swedish could be due to chance. Once they became known, they may have attracted a disproportionate number of Swedes to adopt similar views, but that number is still trivial compared to the population as a whole. In fact, it could be that the general egalitarian sentiment makes Swedes less likely to accept certain transhumanist positions (even though that sentiment is arguably weaker today than it was a few decades ago).

Is the orthogonality thesis at odds with moral realism?

You can prove everything from a contradiction, but you can't prove everything from a false premise. I take it that you mean that we can derive a contradiction from the assumption of moral realism. That may be true (although I'd hesitate to call either moral realism or free will logically impossible), but I doubt many arguments from moral realism to other claims (e.g. the denial of the orthogonality thesis) rely on the derivation of a contradiction as an intermediate step.

Is the orthogonality thesis at odds with moral realism?

If moral realism is simply the view that some positive moral claims are true, without further metaphysical or conceptual commitments, then I can't see how it could be at odds with the orthogonality thesis. In itself, that view doesn't entail anything about the relation between intelligence levels and goals.

On the other hand, the conjunction of moral realism, motivational judgment internalism (i.e. the view that moral judgments necessarily motivate), and the assumption that a sufficiently intelligent agent would grasp at least some moral truths is at odds with the orthogonality thesis. Other combinations of views may yield similar results.

From Philosophy to Math to Engineering

I'm not familiar with his writings on the foundations of quantum mechanics, but in addition to his work on causality, the three volumes on measurement he co-authored have also been hugely influential. His intellectual autobiography (pdf) might be worth a look.

From Philosophy to Math to Engineering

Well, I hope you're in Oxford soon again, João! :)

My daily reflection routine

Some might find it more convenient to set this up as a Google Form.

July 2013 Media Thread

Just came across the book Behavior Modification in Applied Settings, which I don't think has been mentioned on Less Wrong previously. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but it looks like it could be useful for those of us interested in boosting productivity and personal effectiveness.

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