Voltairina

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Inconsistent Beliefs and Charitable Giving

I think our maps of these scenarios can be a bit limited. Like I think you have to model yourself in a world where you are also a person who has needs which have to be advocated for / accounted for, and particularly you have to think, I have access to or control over these resources, that I can turn to these needs, and my sphere of control depends on things like my psychological state and how well rested I am and how much I know, what skills I have, what tools I have, etc, which I can also sometimes spend those resources learning, buying etc. And in which all that's true of everyone else, too, of course.. that they are in a world where they may have to advocate for themselves to an extent or where some may be impaired or better able than most to do that. If you're waited on hand and foot, you may be able to afford to pour more of your 'all' into benevolent behavior - if other people are making sure you sleep and feeding you on time and everything...

What is Rational?

Its funny, I think this is probably always true as a guideline (that you should try and justify all your ideas) but might always break down in practice (all your ideas probably can't ever be fully justified, because Agrippa's trilemma - they're either justified in terms of each other, or not justified, and if they are justified in terms of other ideas, they eventually either are eventually circularly justified, or continue on into infinite regress, or are justified by things that are unjustified). We might get some ground by separating out ideas from evidence, and say we accept as axiomatic anything that is evidenced by inference until we gain additional facts that lend context that resituates our model so that it can include previous observations... something like that. Or it might be we just have to grandfather in some rules to avoid that Godelian stuff. Thoughts?

The Reality of Emergence

I think you're right. I also think saying 'x is emergent' may sound more magical than it is, if I am understanding emergence right, depending on your understanding of it. Like it doesn't mean that the higher scale phenomenon isn't /made up of/ lower-level phenomena, but that it isn't (like a homonculi) itself present as anything smaller than that level. Like a robot hopping kangaroo toy needs both a body, and legs. The hopping behavior isn't contained in the body - that just rotates a joint. The hopping behavior isn't contained in the legs - those just have a joint that can connect to the body joint. Its only when the two bits are plugged into each other that the 'hopping' behavior 'emerges' from the torso-legs system. Its not coming from any essential 'hoppiness' in the legs or the torso. I think it can seem a bit magical because it can sound like the behavior just 'appears' at a certain point but its no more than a picture of a tiger 'appears' from a bunch of pixels. Only we're talking about names for systems of functions (hopping is made of the leg and torso behaviors and their interaction with the ground and stuff) more than names for systems of objects (tiger picture is made up of lines and corners and stuff are made of pixels and stuff). In some sense 'tigers' and 'hopping' don't really exist - just pixels (or atoms or whatever) and particle interactions. But we have names for systems of objects, and systems of functions, because those names are useful.

Fiction Considered Harmful

From what I've read, the proposed mechanism behind literary fiction enhancing empathy is that it describes the emotions of the characters in a vague or indirect way, and working out their actual psychological character becomes plot-relevant. This was distinct from genre fiction, where the results were less obvious. So the 'good guys are always rewarded' bit, which is prevalent in genre fiction, doesn't seem like the best explanation for the effect. It could be compared to an extended story problem about empathy - at least as far as predicting motives and emotions.

Test Driven Thinking

That seems like a job for an expert system - using formal reasoning from premises (as long as you can translate them comfortably into symbols), identifying whether a new fact contradicts any old fact...

Human Minds are Fragile

Not to mention tampering with it, or allowing it to tamper with itself, might have all kinds of unforeseen consequences. To me its like, here is a whole lot of evolutionary software that does all this elegant stuff a lot of the time... but has never been unit tested.

Leave a Line of Retreat

That reminds me of Hofstadter's Law: "It will always take longer than you think it is going to take. Even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law."

Leave a Line of Retreat

Well, a world that lacked rationality might be one in which all the events were a sequence of non-sequiters. A car drives down the street. Then dissappears. We are in a movie theater with a tyrannosaurus. Now we are a snail on the moon. Then there's just this poster of rocks. Then I can't remember what sight was like, but there's jazz music. Now I fondly remember fighting in world war 2, while evading the Empire with Hans solo. Oh! I think I might be boiling water, but with a sense of smell somehow.... that's a poor job of describing it -- too much familiar stuff - but you get the idea. If there was no connection between one state of affairs and the next, talking about what strategy to take might be impossible, or a brief possibility that then dissappears when you forget what you are doing and you're back in the movie theater again with the tyrannosaurus. If 'you' is even a meaningful way to describe a brief moment of awareness bubbling into being in that universe. Then again, if at any moment 'you' happen to exist and 'you' happen to understand what rationality means- I guess now that I think about it, if there is any situation where you can understand what the word rationality means, its probably one in which it exists (howevery briefly) and is potentially helpful to you, even if there is little useful to do about whatever situation you are in, there might be some useful thing to do about the troubling thoughts in your mind.

I may have just had a dangerous thought.

Thank you for letting us know. Don't tell me your idea:).

Dissolving the Thread of Personal Identity

Because for any set of facts that I hold in my attention about myself, those facts could happen in a myriad of worlds other than the ones in which the rest of my memories took place and still be logically consistent - if my memories even were perfectly accurate and consistent, which they aren't in the first place.

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