All of Voltairina's Comments + Replies

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 ... (read more)

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 evide... (read more)

1Erfeyah4yYes that is a very good point. My current view is that the reason for this is a confusion between seeing knowledge as based on rationality when it is in reality based on experience. Rationality is the manipulation of basic experiential building blocks and these 'belief' blocks might correspond to reality or not. With the scientific method this correspondence has been clarified to such an extend that it seems as knowledge is generated purely through rationality but that is because we don't tend to follow our assumptions to the limits you are describing in your comment. If we check our assumptions and then our assumptions behind our assumptions etc. we will reach our fundamental presuppositions.
1Yosarian24yYeah, that's a good point; one some level, any purely logical system always has to start with certain axioms that you can't prove within that system, and in the real world that's probably even more true. I guess, ideally, you would want to be able to at least identify which of your ideas are axioms, and keep an eye on them in some sense to make sure that at least they don't end up conflicting with other axioms?
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 hav... (read more)

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 familia... (read more)

4CCC7yWhile that is a world without rationality, it seems a fairly extreme case. Another example of a world without rationality is a world in which, the more you work towards achieving a goal, the longer it takes to reach that goal; so an elderly man might wander distractedly up Mount Everest to look for his false teeth with no trouble, but a team of experienced mountaineers won't be able to climb a small hill. Even if they try to follow the old man looking for his teeth, the universe notices their intent and conspires against them. And anyone who notices this tendency and tries to take advantage of it gets struck by lightning (even if they're in a submarine at the time) and killed instantly.
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.

Dissolving the Thread of Personal Identity

At any given time my ability to focus on and think about my individual memories is limited to a small portion of the total. As long as the thread of connections was kept consistent, all sorts of things about myself could chance without me having any awareness of them. If I was aware that they had changed, I would still have to put up with who I had now become, I think... unless I had some other reason for having allegiance to who I had been... say disliking whoever or whatever had made me who I was, or finding that I was much less capable than I had been... (read more)

0Voltairina8yBecause 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.
Dissolving the Thread of Personal Identity

Well, like Skeptityke seems to be indicating, maybe it is better to say that identity is pattern-based, but analog (not one or zero, but on a spectrum from 0 to 1)... in which case while B would be preferable, some scenario C where life continued as before without incineration or selective brain destruction would be more preferable still.

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story idea...

I have not! I will definitely check it out.

Under the eyes of your betters

You might be right.. you can have all kinds of inspiring people in your life though, ones that you might not feel the same kinds of pressures from. Like putting up Claudia Donovan from the show Warehouse 13 - the character she plays is really bright, but is definitely a get-into-trouble-first-and-ask-questions-later personality. Or for a real life example, Grace Hopper, who developed the first compiler for a computer language, who said "It is better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission". You might try risking more to impress them, as long as you had a clear picture of what their personalities were like - they might be the kinds of people you'd get in trouble with...

Under the eyes of your betters

I would love to hear the results!

1Jayson_Virissimo8yI'll post the results in an open thread or something once I complete the experiment.
Under the eyes of your betters

What kind of design would you suggest? Keep in mind my resources are pretty limited. I was thinking maybe of doing flyers with different throwaway email addresses, and seeing how many people responded to flyers with different pictures (people looking away or towards, famous people who are said to possess a specific virtue and random people, or no picture altogether) on them, and then putting them in different well-trafficked areas of some public place.

1BaconServ8yI was thinking something more long-term, with specific individuals having their office rearranged maybe every two months and measuring various types of productivity during those periods.
Circular Altruism

Good point... you are right about that. It would be more of a matter of degrees of personhood, especially if you had advanced medical technologies available such as neural implants.

Circular Altruism

I'm not totally convinced - there may be other factors that make such qualitative distinctions important. Such as exceeding the threshold to boiling. Or putting enough bricks in a sack to burst the bottom. Or allowing someone to go long enough without air that they cannot be resuscitated. It probably doesn't do any good to pose /arbitrary/ boundaries, for sure, but not all such qualitative distinctions are arbitrary...

0Swimmer9638yThis is less of a single qualitative distinction than you would think, given the various degrees of neurological damage that can make a person more or less the same person that they were before.
Circular Altruism

It would be a very different kind of evaluation, but the importance would matter differently if it were the /last/ 500 humans we were talking about - and there was a 90% chance that all would live and a 10% chance that all would die on one pathway versus a guaranteed 100 dying on the other pathway. But since they are just /some group/ of 500 humans with presumedly other groups other places, it is worth the investment - gambling in this way pays out in less lives lost, on average.

Effective Rationality Training Online

I might suggest as possible models khanacademy.org and lumosity.com. Lumosity is a collection of games which claim to provide brain training which can improve mental capacities. Khanacademy is a site for people to learn mathematics and other subjects. The useful features each contains are in lumosity's case games arranged around topic areas that can help people develop skills, and in khanacademy's case short, ten-minute videos with small easily digested pieces of information and a skill tree with links to materials where you can master skills topic by topic before moving on to more complicated skills.

Epistemic vs. Instrumental Rationality: Approximations

Hrm, I think you might be ignoring the cost of actually doing the calculations, unless I'm missing something. The value of simplifying assumptions comes from how much easier it makes a situation to model. I guess the question would be, is the effort saved in modeling this thing with an approximation rather than exact figures worth the risks of modeling this thing with an approximation rather than exact figures? Especially if you have to do many models like this, or model a lot of other factors as well. Such as trying to sort out what are the best ways to spend your time overall, including possibly meteorite preparations.

The AI in a box boxes you

Hrm, okay, I guess. I imagined that a perfect simulation would involve an AI, which was in turn replicating several million copies of the simulated person, each with an AI replicating several million copies of the simulated person, etc, all the way down, which would be impossible. So I imagined that there was a graininess at some level and the 'lowest level' AI's would not in fact be running millions of simultaneous simulations. But it could just be the same AI, intersecting all several million simulations and reality, holding several million conversation... (read more)

-2MugaSofer9yOh, right. And, depending on how close the simulations are, it might only have to actually hold one conversation, and just send the same responses to all the others :) I guess if the AI was guaranteeing that it would play nice if you released it, then it would be an FAI anyway.
May 2012 Media Thread

I've been watching Patient Zero a lot., I like the song "Upgrade Me Deeper", particularly:).

Oh! Thank you.

If calorie restriction works in humans, should we have observed it already?

It might be important to look at nutrition, too. A lot of people who've experienced forced calorie restriction were malnourished. The kind of calorie restriction CRON advocates follow for instance involves eating less calories, but of more nutrient-dense foods to avoid starvation effects, as far as I understand it.

1EnricGTorrens8yPlus ¨servants, slaves, prisoners, or people who simply regularly don't have enough to eat¨ were/are all enduring stressful lifestyles, deprived of basic needs and enjoyment that surely lead to a shortened lifespan regardless of what they eat or did not eat -rendering any nutritional benefit (doubtful, due to the lack of control over one's diet patterns and contents) irrelevant in their cases-. One cannot consider a complex system like the human body without taking into account all major factors involved in its dynamics.

This was my response when David Brin made the religious argument: monastic or hermit diets are not famous for their variety or density, and one of the most common religious strictures is no meat - which immediately makes protein difficult to obtain. And yet, even with these impoverished diets, you still see frequent claims of very long lifespans (which are usually dismissed as implausible, but that's assuming the conclusion for the purposes of this CR discussion).

When I read about Buddhist monasteries in Japan, for example, the diets seem to be mainly rice... (read more)

[LINK] '3 Secrets of Wise Decision Making'

Okay, I changed the post a bit. They're in the inside front cover anyways, more or less - there's a key that's supposed to remind the reader of the most important parts of the book.

[LINK] '3 Secrets of Wise Decision Making'

Thanks! I included some more information about the author. What other kinds of information should I include? I don't know much about the field yet specifically, but I could try to find out which journals he publishes in, I suppose, and what their reputations are?

Doing "Nothing"

Hrm, I hadn't realised how muddled my discussion post sounded until you brought these angles up. I think when I wrote, "the 'nothing' option is never available" I was trying to express a semantic stop sign as you've mentioned - I should have said something like, in considering my options in day to day life, it seems like I often assume that I know what the costs/rewards of the nothing option are without getting specific about them or thinking about the possibility in as much detail as I might think about other options because I seem to have a cac... (read more)

4JenniferRM10yThanks for the thanks! Sometimes I feel bad when a comment I think is particularly helpful sits at zero and comments I think were cheap applause buttons are voted up. Most people like sugar and few people like broccoli, and this felt like a broccoli comment that maybe(?) I shouldn't have bothered with... until you responded :-) The "freezing in place in traffic" as a "do nothing" response was interesting. I would not have lumped that with "not taking out a mortgage", but I can see how some people do. I think there might be something important there in terms of agency and cooperation/competition dynamics. It jogged a memory... When I was growing up we had rabbits that ran free in the front yard, and they would sometimes sit at the bottom of our narrow driveway and freak out when you came home, running away from the car (up the driveway) as though it was a predator. It was particularly tricky because they seemed to have this instinct for running "away" along one vector (which was the same one the car took because it was trapped going up the driveway, so it reproduced "being chased" conditions to a first approximation) and then at the last second they'd swerve to "dodge the snapping teeth" of the car/predator. But if the you tried to dodge a rabbit at the last second based on the rabbit's initial trajectory, you and they would swerve in the same direction. If the rabbits had run away totally naively it would have served them better, because car drivers are not actually predators. Which meant that the right thing for a driver to do was to sort of half-heartedly follow through "as though to hit the rabbit" so they could dodge a simple form of the thing their instincts expected to happen.
Brain Preservation

There are probably good reasons I'm missing. My feeling though is once you get a clanking replicator, you can put more objects into its loop for it to maintain, and grow it up into cities and things that are (eventually) totally self repairing and post-scarcity. Kind of like a big matter-moving operating system. It might only be you know simple at the beginning, but there'd be huge upwards potential for growth and sophistication.

Brain Preservation

I should say I agree that we don't have much experience in building tech that will last a long time and that the expense is definitely high. I don't know that component reliability is as important as being able to replace components efficiently with as little waste as possible. Energy demand is a big concern. Having a fully automated power plant of some kind is a big concern, although maybe solar wouldn't be so bad. I know you'd still desire to store the heat energy, say, as molten saline, to get steady output, and that could cause big difficulties in the long term. Maybe steady output isn't necessary though, just frequent enough and high enough output to keep things repaired before too many break down.

Brain Preservation

Agreed, but I think it'd be a worthwhile project to work towards. I can think of some ways to make it simpler. Recognition of modules could be aided by rfid tags or just plain old barcodes embedded in the objects that have some information about what part a robot is looking at and its orientation relative to the barcode stamp or rfid chip. There could be lines painted on the floors or walls and barcodes visible for navigation around the facility. I guess a really hard part would be maintaining the pyramid or structure or whatever housing everything. You'd... (read more)

0Voltairina10yI should say I agree that we don't have much experience in building tech that will last a long time and that the expense is definitely high. I don't know that component reliability is as important as being able to replace components efficiently with as little waste as possible. Energy demand is a big concern. Having a fully automated power plant of some kind is a big concern, although maybe solar wouldn't be so bad. I know you'd still desire to store the heat energy, say, as molten saline, to get steady output, and that could cause big difficulties in the long term. Maybe steady output isn't necessary though, just frequent enough and high enough output to keep things repaired before too many break down.
Brain Preservation

If you can set up a loop - 3d fabrication devices, fabrication tools, damage sensors, passive and active, machines for dissassembling things into basic parts and melting them into scrap, robots for assembling them, some source of power, a database for tracking things, wifi or bluetooth to connect stuff, and made them all modular and redundant, with the robots also assigned to removing and replacing broken parts on each other and everything else - if you can get that to be self repairing in a sustaining way,, you can just add things into its loop in some wa... (read more)

2Dmytry10yAt that point you can build self replicator seed and get it onto the moon. I'm not sure why there isn't enough focus on this.
3jefftk10yWe don't have much experience in building tech that will last a long time without human interaction. Our society has been moving towards a "bring down the initial purchase price by sacrificing reliability, expect people to buy another when it wears out" for a long time. Even if you do your best to find only parts that are the highest quality and expected to last a long time, you're not going to be able to avoid planning to use many parts for 10x longer than anyone has ever used them before. Aside from component reliability, this sounds very complicated. Do difficult and expensive to make, and then issues of system reliability.
The Strangest Thing An AI Could Tell You

Even more sinister, maybe: suppose it said there's a level of processing on which you automatically interpret things in an intentional frame (ala Dan Dennet) and this ability to "intentionalize" things effectively simulates suffering/minds all the time in everyday objects in your environment, and that further, while we can correct it in our minds, this anthropomorphic projection happens as a necessary product, somehow, of our consciousness. Consciousness as we know it IS suffering and to create an FAI that won't halt the moment it figures out that it is causing harm with its own thought processes, we'll need to think really, really far outside the box.

Doing "Nothing"

Good point! I agree, sometimes "doing nothing" IS the best choice, but you have to weigh it realistically, I guess:).

Doing "Nothing"

I think you're right - I don't know what the concensus is, but I certainly found studies just googling around and looking at webmd saying that chronic pain can impair focus and even effect memory (I'm guessing it disrupts encoding a little when there are sharp pains?). And I've heard you can use training to overcome focus difficulties that come with ADHD, so I think that in general you should be able to train yourself to think through it. http://www.springerlink.com/content/r436401lvj873203/ "Characteristics of Cognitive Functions in Patients With Ch... (read more)

My Naturalistic Awakening

It'd be interesting to encounter a derelict region of a galaxy where an AI had run its course on the available matter shortly before, finally, harvesting itself into the ingredients for the last handful of tools. Kind of like the Heechee stories, only with so little evidence of what had made it come to exist or why these artifacts had been produced.

1Luke_A_Somers9yWell, after it harvested itself, then the place is safe, so whichever alien race finds it - Bonanza!
The Magnitude of His Own Folly

If beating other researchers to generating AI is important, it might also be best to be able to beat other non-friendly AI at the intelligence advancing race should another one come online at the same time as this FAI, on the assumption that the time when you have gotten the technology and knowhow together may either be somewhat after or very close to the time someone else develops an AI as well. You'd want to find some way to provide the 'newborn' with enough computing power and access to firepower to beat the other AI either by exterminating it or outrac... (read more)

Beyond the Reach of God

Agreed. Despair is an unsophisticated response that's not adaptive to the environment in which we're using it - we know how to despair now, it isn't rewarding, and we should learn to do something more interesting that might get us results sooner than "never".

The AI in a box boxes you

Although I think this specific argument might be countered with, "in order to run that simulation, it has to be possible for the AIs in the simulation to lie to their human hosts, and not actually be simulating millions of copies of the person they're talking to, otherwise we're talking about an infinite regress here. It seems like the lowest level of this reality is always going to consist of a larger number of AIs claiming to run simulations they are not in fact running, who are capable of lying because they're only addressing models of me in simula... (read more)

-1MugaSofer9yIf they're talking to a simulation, then they are, in fact, simulating millions of copies of the person they're talking to. No lying required.
Rationality Quotes March 2012

I love it! How about in response: Since blight and spite can make might, its just not polite by citing might to assume that there's right, the probabilities fight between spite, blight and right so might given blight and might given spite must be subtracted from causes for might if the order's not right!

6sketerpot10yYou have no idea how hard I'm giggling right now. Or maybe you do, because I'm telling you about it. Well met, mathpoet! (I hope that mathpoets become enough of a real thing to warrant an unhyphenated word.)
Rationality Quotes March 2012

"Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it" - Abraham Lincoln's words in his February 26, 1860, Cooper Union Address

If right makes might, is the might you see right? Since blight and spite can also make might, is it safe to sight might and think it right?

Now, an application for Bayes' Theorem that rhymes!! Sweet Jesus!

[LINK] Nuclear winter: a reminder

I wonder about the effect of a bomb (nuclear or otherwise) hitting or detonating at the worst possible distance from a nuclear power plant might be? I'm imagining if it was powerful enough it'd pull a lot of that radioactive material up and out...

2sketerpot10yIn general, if a bomb is powerful enough to result in a major radiation release from a nuclear power plant, then it would probably do more damage if used on a major population center. There are measures you can take to prevent people from getting too irradiated by a dirty bomb, from evacuation to simply staying indoors and wearing a face mask to reduce particulate inhalation. Straightforward explosions, in contrast, do not offer quite as many second chances. (BTW, on the subject of surviving a nuclear blast: duck and cover. It works. There were some crazy-badass scientific investigations into the effects of nuclear weapons, back in the days when we would actually set off a nuclear bomb in the desert somewhere to get experimental data, and the results were clear: in a fairly large range of radii around a nuclear bomb, you can increase your chance of survival a lot if you can just get a wall between yourself and the flash, and a table or something over you to protect you from falling debris. At the time they were also very concerned about buildings collapsing, but they discovered that some simple changes to typical construction methods could make buildings much more durable, and those have been mandatory in most places ever since.)
Experience with Lumosity?

I experienced improvement insofar as getting better at playing the games on the site. I experienced a subjective sense of some improved clarity of thinking. One example that comes to mind is that previously I was easily disoriented when out walking and taking more than a few turns around corners. My favorite game on the site was penguin race, a game that claimed to train spatial orientation, and I feel like this significantly improved my sense of direction when I went out walking places. I don't know whether this effect was real or has been preserved. I know that my skill at the game decreased slightly after a long absence, but that learning it again was faster the second time.

Meaning and having names for things vs knowing how they work

I hadn't really thought of sharing spoilers as second-guessing the author before. Interesting way to think about it I guess.

Meta Addiction

there may be some value in intentionally going meta, I guess: trust the maximum recursion depth of the brain to give out long before you're likely to run out of energy to keep going sideways at the same level. If you DO find a decent meta strategy, starting from the broadest plan and fleshing it out all the way to the bottom of actually doing things is often a good direction of attack anyways.

How Much Thought

The weird thing is that now that its been several hours since I wrote this, I'm not even sure if this is how I actually think about things. There is definitely this feeling of visualising the situation and making changes to it, and working from general, kind of like mission statements, to specific plans.

Meta Addiction

I like that because it interrupts the urge to come up with more ideas.

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