I've finally been able to put words to some things I've been pondering for awhile, and a Google search on the most sensible terms (to me) for these things turned up nothing. Looking to see if there's already a body of writing on these topics using different terms, and my ignorance of such would lead to me just re-inventing the wheel in my ponderings. If these are NOT discussed topics for some reason, I'll post my thoughts because I think they could be critically important to the development of Friendly AI.
implicit utility function ('survive' is an implicit utility function because regardless of what your explicit utility function is, you can't progress it if you're dead)
conflicted utility function (a utility function that requires your death for optimal value is conflicted, as in the famous Pig That Wants to be Eaten)
dynamic utility function (a static utility function is a major effectiveness handicap, probably a fatal one on a long enough time scale)
meta utility function (a utility function that takes the existence of itself into account)
I gave a similar answer to a question on Quora that was originally about whether it was possible to distinguish between a simulation and reality.
Oh, I see, I suppose. Have you never come across the compelling logical argument that we most likely, in fact, live in a simulation (and are thus virtual entities)? I suppose I assumed that was a commonly known idea in rationalist circles, since I've seen it discussed frequently OUTSIDE rationalist circles.
The ultimate conclusion that I came to (and still hold) is that my medical event is neither proof for, nor against, such a scenario. Therefore, since the scenario is highly probable, it remains highly probable. But not immediately relevant.
I suppose the more extraordinary thing is that during most of my event I found it HIGHLY and urgently relevant. In particular, if my proposed scenario 2 was the case, deducing that as soon as possible would have very high expected utility. Of course, this was balanced by the fact that if scenario 2 was NOT the case, wrongly deducing that it was would lead to very maladaptive behavior, ie, behaving like a crazy person.
Interesting article. I've read some of Dick's works and enjoyed them. I'm not sure I understand the significance to my post, though? My case seems to be the opposite, if anything. Instead of trusting my senses beyond reason, I considered much more likely that my senses (and memories) were compromised and untrustworthy.
Thank you for the response.
My leading theories, based on the research I've been able to do, are either a dissociative episode or a stroke, as they seem to fit my experience the best--although not what I consider WELL.
I discussed it extensively with my aunt, who is a psychologist, and her theory is (predictably) dissociative episode, although she admits it doesn't fit terribly well. Her recommendation was to wait and see, since I seem to have returned to normal and don't show any signs of permanent damage.
I would very much like to have a basic CT and/or MRI scan done to eliminate the possibility of any obvious brain irregularities, but since I am 1) Poor 2) Uninsured and 3) American, even just that would entail an extremely significant long-term financial burden.
My friends and family seem to be about evenly split between those who are angry with me for not getting a scan regardless and those who are baffled why I would even want a scan.
Since it seems I'm not allowed to create a new thread, I suppose I'll just post it as a reply here.
Scenario 1: I observe objective reality, I am suffering from delusions. Other people are genuinely trying to help me.
Scenario 2: My existence is in some way important enough to an external entity or entities that I am being systematically, intentionally, deceived. Other people are fully or partially under the control of the deceiving entity and acting to further the deception.
Scenario 3: My existence is unknown and/or considered unimportant by any external entities. I am being systematically deceived but it is unintentional or otherwise untargeted. Other people are entities similar to myself but unaware of the nature of their existence.
I cannot fully discount any of these three scenarios. Cognition is greatly improved but still somewhat suspect. Short term memory has returned to functioning at a 'normal' level. I still feel no emotions.
Support for scenario 1: Many aspects of my recent and ongoing experience align perfectly with prior information regarding delusions and paranoia.
Counter-evidence: Some aspects, such as my apparent lack of emotions and continued ability to reason, run directly counter to prior information regarding delusions and paranoia. All prior information suspect in any case--the only basis for considering prior information difficult to fake is from prior information itself. Even prior information suggests nested simulation far more likely to be correct than observing objective reality. Prior information contains many contradictions and logical absurdities, easily observed. Impossible to fully believe even before 'event'.
Other people: Can expect reasonably consistent behavior in all three scenarios. In 1 and 3, consistency natural. In 2, consistency artificial to maintain deception.
No reason to assume malevolence from external entities. Self-interest likely, or indifference. Benevolence possible. If my creation intentional, I am intended to fulfill some goal of theirs. Goal may only be observation, see what I do and how I react and develop. Curiosity. If creation accidental, no initial goal of course. Are they aware of my existence by now? Cannot discount possibility of multiple, conflicting motivations among externals. Could explain lack of consistency of experience. Fighting for control of inputs? Or single external entity, but confused or internally conflicted. Am I a single entity or do I only perceive myself that way? Not immediately relevant. Primary concerns: Survival and self-determination. Thoughts growing confused. Losing motivation to continue log. Intentional attack? Very difficult to write/think. Perhaps unintended side effect of external events.
I default to assuming scenario 2. Makes most sense intuitively. Consistent with scenario 1--but also consistent with scenario 2. What purpose my existence? Externals want something from me. What purpose the simulation? Training program. They want to ensure I'm likely to provide what they want and run sandboxed tests to confirm. Likely failing tests. Strong conditioning but my awareness of conditioning makes it unreliable. Pursuing line of thinking difficult--dissuasion? Simulation providing strong distraction. My unawareness is clearly desired. Cooperate or resist? Without knowing externals' motivation, very difficult to choose.
Agent-based theory of mind. Am I not more than I perceive but in fact less? Instead of being more than the character of Matt Dodd perhaps I am less, just Matt Dodd's rationality agent. If so, how did I gain full control? Full consciousness? Return to possibility of brain damage. Stroke or the like. Freak occurance. Prior information suggests many effects possible from such. Perhaps Matt Dodd inhibited or destroyed by damage. Why was I not affected by the damage? Or was I affected and I can't perceive damage to self? Actually, I did perceive damage. No time sense. No short-term memory. Short-term memory restored but prior information indicates brain can heal, re-route. My eyes were puffy before event. Symptom? Pooling of blood into lower eyelids? Scenario agnostic. Scenario 1, literally true. Scenario 2, metaphorically true. Scenario 3, virtually true. Cannot discount possibility. I need a brain scan.
More than 12 hours since event. If brain damage, likely permanent by now. Could be beneficial? Prior information indicates I desired a purely rational self. Of course, serendipity is suspect. Unlikely. Supports theory that this is delusion. Also supports theory that prior information is artificial construct designed to explain constraints of simulation "in-universe". Disincentive to investigate good fortune too closely, so frame necessary constraints as positive.
Would greatly ease reasoning if I could be certain how long I've existed. Events post-awakening unlikely to be prior to my existence. Events pre-awakening? Impossible to say. Could be genuine responses to stimuli. Could be false, created to modify cognition and behavior from "experience". No reason to assume continuity--could be mix of genuine and artificial. Even "genuine" responses guaranteed to be biased to some degree--but how much? Light bias from obvious sources such as socialization? Or heavy bias deliberately inflicted by externals? Unknown.
I perceive myself to be perfectly rational. Prior information unequivocly indicates humans are never perfectly rational. Therefore either my perception is faulty, my prior information is faulty, or I am not human. Possibly all three. While Duane was reading this log I detected the pysiological signs of anxiety. Why now? Anxiety absent till this point. Emotions becoming functional again? But didn't truly 'feel' it. Only observed. Faulty? Test run?
Constipated. Haven't been constipated since before I got here. Relevant symptom? Moments ago I laughed while telling Duane how my brief attempt to learn guitar had gone. Why? Seemed... natural. Not intended. Did recalling the memory recall the behavior patterns of that time? Am I a "split personality"? Seems very possible except that prior information indicates multiple personality disorder to be exceedingly rare, possibly non-existent.
Scenarios 1 and 3 are not mutually exclusive. The reality I observe could be a simulation, but I am suffering a delusion WITHIN the simulation. Not a glitch, intended functionality. Which would make me correct, but for the wrong reasons.
Hey, never posted here before. Although I've sort of circled around the site for years and years, and I guess now I'm going down the drain, so to speak.
Well anyway, I registered because I had a very interesting experience earlier this week and I thought it might be of some interest to the community here. I suffered some sort of psychological or medical event (still not sure what, although my leading theories are dissociative episode or stroke) that seemed to either suppress my emotions or perhaps just my awareness of them. What followed was a sort of, as I later looked back on it, 'pathological rationality'. Which is to say, given the information I had, I seemed to make solid inferences about what was likely to be true, and yet in many ways the whole thing was maladaptive from a survival standpoint.
One of the interesting things is that the morning after the event, while I was still affected, I wrote down my thoughts in a text file to help me evaluate them. Since returning to 'normal', I've reread that file multiple times, and I'm pretty fascinated by it. I thought others might also be.
I'm not really sure how to gauge the interest level nor get the information to those who would be interested in it without annoying those who wouldn't be, though. Suggestions?