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Thoughts on the Singularity Institute (SI)

Okay, make that: I strongly suspect the rationality of the rational internet would improve many orders of magnitude if all arguments about arguments were quietly deleted

Every time I try to think about that, I end up thinking about logical paradoxes instead. edit for less subtlety in reponse to unexplained downvote: That argument is self-refuting.
Thoughts on the Singularity Institute (SI)

I strongly suspect the rationality of the internet would improve many orders of magnitude if all arguments about arguments were quietly deleted.

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Okay, make that: I strongly suspect the rationality of the rational internet would improve many orders of magnitude if all arguments about arguments were quietly deleted
To like each other, sing and dance in synchrony

The dichotomies are always rationally solvable, but we are hardwired to loathe compromise on moral issues.

I think it is possible to interpret my comment is saying something bad about conservatives and good about liberals. However, what I wanted, rather, was to make the point that we (as liberals or liberal rationalists) need to think about taking group binding moral foundations as seriously as conservatives do, because if we dismiss them as outdated evolutionary vestige, that will definitely not solve social and political polarization (which in the US, at... (read more)

To like each other, sing and dance in synchrony

I think the dislike is visceral, coming from the same place that makes incest feel icky. Haidt's research seems to show people feel moral conclusions first, then rationalize them. I think it possible that a fairly large percentage of conservatives experience an intense visceral disgust for any blatant disregard of group binding moral foundations.

But my conclusion from that is not that conservatives should be vilified; just that we need to understand that the issue of group --vs- individual moral emphasis is a lot more than just a friendly disagreement over facts. The OP is making the point that we need to take group-binding dynamics seriously, both in understanding and using them to our advantage.

To like each other, sing and dance in synchrony

Strong agreement with your disagreement. I just finished Haidt's The Righteous Mind and observe that rationalists seem to gravitate towards a liberal, individualistic moral foundation, while the rest seem to automatically balance that with, or favor, group binding moral foundations. Thus, we rationalists (and liberals in general) are seen as immoral because of our tendency to disregard others' crucial moral foundations of ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, purity/sanctity. Thus, this has never been a disagreement over facts at all, but rather, a moral loathing of our very kind.

When I took that test, I gave answers consistent with what he described as the liberal pattern; I saw what you called the group-binding moral foundations as means to ends, not as ends in themselves, so I answered accordingly. Loyalty and respect are usually good things, but the loyalty of a soldier bravely fighting for the wrong side isn't moral.
I'm definitely a "liberal" (among other things), but I'm by no means excluding group values and group interests from my ethics. I see the question of individual rights vs group-ism, cooperation, etc as a 90% false dichotomy of the worst and most damaging kind. Liberals are silly and near-sighted enough for letting this shit go on, but hard-line conservatives are arguably even worse (and more guilty) for stirring up the hostility and moving the focus from entirely solvable, compromise-accepting practical issues (e.g. abortion) to some metaphysical conflict of responsibility vs selfishness. I do not deny the essentially adversarial nature of differing values' and attitudes' interaction in society, but it doesn't mean we should escalate the inevitable debate to an all-out war. (Sorry for blatant meta-politics, but I'm trying to call out mind-killing here, not increase it.)

rationalists seem to gravitate towards a liberal, individualistic moral foundation, while the rest seem to automatically balance that with, or favor, group binding moral foundations

Unfortunately, once this effect becomes known, it is further exaggerated for signalling purposes. Reversing stupidity is not intelligence, but it is frequently used to signal intelligence or independence.

If most people agree with any group opinion, then I shall signal my intellectual superiority by disagreeing with the group even when the group suggests something useful (a sm... (read more)

This sounds unnecessarily hyperbolic. On what grounds do you claim that this difference causes 'loathing' often enough for it to be termed generally as such?
While some of that may be true, it may well be that the solution is to get other's to adopt a morality that has less emphasis on ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, purity/sanctity. It may be possible to hijack them somewhat (transferring respect for authority to respect for subject matter experts who have a history of making correct predictions, and transferring purity to a distaste for poor reasoning), but to a large extent these moral inclinations are part of the problem, not a solution. Ingroup loyalty is why politics are the mindkiller and why many wars and similar events occur. That said, I think your point may have a core of truth, and I've upvoted your remark.
Trivia note: I found some of those papers via the references in The Righteous Mind.
How to Be Happy

What I've learned is that the authentic happiness I felt while married and raising a family - now replaced by singledom and an empty nest - will take great effort to achieve through activities that offer temporary relief and only a semblance of the real thing.

I wonder why the loss of happiness feels like a major internal organ is gone, leaving a huge empty space inside?

This sounds like serious depression to me, not just reduced happiness; you might consider method 1 first. Sympathies and best wishes.

Brain Preservation

My intuition as well. Continuity seems less of a big deal when we imagine computer hardware intelligence scenarios.

As another scenario, imagine a computer based on light waves alone; it's hard to see how a temporary blocking of the input light wave, for example, could cause anything as substantial as the end of a conscious entity.

However, if I think too much about light waves and computers, I'm reminded of the LED cellular-automaton computationalist thought experiment and start to have nagging doubts about computer consciousness.

Brain Preservation

Instead, let's say I froze my brain. My brain that makes me me, stops working. That makes the thing that is me cease to exist. The continuity stops there.

How is sleep, unconsciousness, deep anesthesia any different, though?

But further, why is continuity important? If intelligence can be simulated on a computer, and it seems likely that intelligence sophisticated enough to ponder it's own consciousness probably really is conscious, why would a reboot have any effect on its identity?

In any case, I don't have any answers. Eliezer's Identity Isn't In ... (read more)

Those two questions are two sides of the same coin to me. Those examples preserve continuity in the form of synapses and other neural connections. In none of those cases does the brain actually stop running, just the consciousness program. You can't just pull out someone's heart while they're anesthetized--if the brain's cells die from lack of fuel, you're destroying the hardware that the consciousness program needs to reboot from. Assuming that you have programmed it to care about its own consciousness, not just to ponder it, the first boot would die, and the reboot would wake up thinking it was the first boot. When you upload your brain-image, please make the most of your life after that, because it would be the same as with the computer. You will die in fear and loneliness, and your copy will wake up convinced he is you. (That would make a great fortune-cookie message!) In both cryonic preservation, and brain upload, the original quantum system which is you is being shut down--no splitting realities are involved here (except the usual ones)-- you are going to experience death, and it was my understanding that the point of cryonics and mind transfer was to avoid experiencing death. (By "experience death", I mean that your mind-pattern ceases to function.) Anyone deriving comfort from those two methods should seriously consider this concrete downside to them.
How to avoid dying in a car crash

And brain injury is particularly prevalent:

In a previous analysis of injuries among drivers admitted to Maryland hospitals following car crashes, it was noted that 37.7% incurred a TBI (Dischinger, 1999).

From Causes and Outcomes of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: An Analysis of Ciren Data

I Was Not Almost Wrong But I Was Almost Right: Close-Call Counterfactuals and Bias

Challenge the mutability of the antecedent. Since AS-01's counterfactual is of the form ”if A, then B”, Dr. Zany could question the plausibility of A.

brain balks at "mutability", stumbles over "antecedent", sprains ankle on "counterfactual"

”Baloney!” exclaims Dr. Zany. ”No TV reporter could ever have wandered past, let alone seen the robbery!”

Oh, I get it! Brain jumps up and down with glee.

I found it helpful and entertaining.

The Fox and the Low-Hanging Grapes

Clever remake of the old parable, thought-provoking, definitely worth an upvote.

The Threat of Cryonics

Cryonics seems inherently, and destructively, to the human race, grossly selfish.

Cryonics is a cost, yes, but living is a cost as well. Is spending my money on cryonics more or less selfish than a 2-week vacation in the Bahamas every year for 10 years? In both cases, my money supports an economy, and I get a benefit --a recharge, in the latter, a possible regeneration in the former-- that will enhance my contribution to society.