Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Dentist

I went for the first time ever.

Aside from the well-known expense, it was actually pretty awesome. Aside from the ridiculously unnecessary test for inflamed gums, it didn't hurt at all. (I could have told them my gums were inflamed, and how, and why, and what to do about it.)

Also, my teeth had so much calculus that now they're clean, they're a noticeably different shape.

The experience jibed well with my experience with free healthcare...I really do feel happier when I pay someone for their services. (Unless we're friends...but then I still pay them back, but informally. That's what friends are like.)

Despite brushing intermittently, once a day at most, never flossing, and having never been to a dentist, the only teeth with problems are my wisdom teeth, and there's two good reasons. First, they are defective. They didn't finish growing. Second, after I got them, I forgot they existed and didn't brush them for like a year. Oddly, I do have decay on one of them.

Dentists are, like most scientists, horrible philosophers that aren't aware of the deficiency. Yes, the deficiency is relevant to their job.


Yes, they didn't ask what I wanted for my teeth at all. Essentially, the dentist assumed that they were the owner of my teeth, and got to decide what happened to them, not me. The fact that I own my body doesn't seem to really impinge on their consciousness.

I guess it's just easier to treat your patients like action-reaction machines.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Mind Node

I am forced to assume that I've successfully shown that consciousness isn't physical. Unfortunately this is simply because I can't get anyone qualified to evaluate it to actually evaluate it.

First, some terminology. Quantum events are not random. They are stochastic. Stochastic events are not unpredictable, they are less predictable. A true random event would be completely unpredictable. (Near-total unpredictibility is required for free will.) The only type of event that is a priori unpredictable is a spontaneous event, that is, an event with effects that has no cause. The first, naive problem with spontaneous events is that they have nothing to determine where they occur, which means that if they are possible they should occur everywhere at once. All the time, too. In other words, events with no cause are non-deterministic. Thus, I use the words true random, spontaneous and non-deterministic interchangeably. However, non-deterministic also has a specific meaning with respect to physics; as it turns out, this meaning does not conflict with my usage. However, until I show this, assume I am using non-deterministic in the physical sense alone.

I will now propose something in the positive sense. Consciousness is not physical. But, it has physical effects. Thus, there must be an interface; there must be an event that is non-determined* with respect to physics, that is, a non-causal event that nevertheless occurs, specifically in brains. (As opposed to computers.)

*(Remember, physical meaning alone.)

Mathematically, I can model such an event. I can determine what such an event would look like in real physical space. Most fantastically, I can design a circuit to implement the math, at least in the abstract.

That is, the known laws of physics can combine to form something that is undetermined with respect to physics. Further, both necessary components exist in the brain.

Even if I'm wrong, the mind node provides an excellent anchoring point for arguing about what consciousness is. Because it almost entirely works on a logical level, we can use it to conceive of other possibilities by comparing them to the mind node.

The Math
Unfortunately I don't know exactly how to write this mathematically. So, I emailed my local math department and got them to parse it for me. It came back positive. (Quotes on request.)

As in this essay, consider the average of the average. All determined events have exact averages. This average can be directly computed from fundamental constants and as such, unless outside forces affect the experiment, it does not change. For example, the location in the electron one-slit experiment has an average directly in front of the slit. This will never change unless someone moves the slit. (This means that even though the individual locations are stochastic, determined events will always converge on the average.)

As a result, the average of a non-determined event must move to be truly non-determined, which is why we consider the average of the average; we consider the situation where the electron's exact average is itself probabilistic. However, unless we move the slit, which is a very different situation, this extra probability will happen on exactly the same timescale as the electron strikes, and will roll into the first probability. A second-order or any finite higher order average is indistinguishable from a first order average. (This is where moving the slit comes in; it will not roll in, but this is obviously a separate process. This second average is not the electron's average, but an outside average.)

This logic, however, breaks down in the case of infinite averages. Much as one would expect from the No Infinities Principle, things which use infinities are nonphysical, and we would a priori expect that any manifestation of infinity is actually physically impossible. That is, the NIP should prove that non-determined events do not exist, as expected. I will later show that this fact leads to a fundamental property of consciousness. Part of this will be to point out how consciousness is actually necessary to preserve causality or prevent non-determinism.

In other words, it all fits, as I will explicitly show.

Partly why we must conceive of the infinite series of averages is to compare the physical event to the math directly, as will become obvious when I get to that part.

However, now I'm going to talk about Gaussians. That is, the electron-slit location has a Gaussian distribution. If it has a hidden second-order average, this second distribution will also be Gaussian, and we can simply multiply them together to produce a third Gaussian which is the Gaussian which will actually be measured.

The factors in the Gaussian are a, b, and c. "The parameter a is the height of the curve's peak, b is the position of the center of the peak, and c controls the width of the "bell"." Squaring a Gaussian produces a Gaussian with a2=a12 and c2=2c1. (And b=b.) Note that since a is less than one, the new peak is shorter, so the new Gaussian is shorter and fatter than the old. (Please note the exact analogy with the averages. Unfortunately it is necessary to look at the math both ways.)

Now, multiply a Gaussian by itself (or other Gaussians; it doesn't matter) an infinite number of times. Factor a approaches zero and factor c approaches infinity. It becomes a Gaussian of infinitesimal height across the entire number line. (In fact, it becomes equivalent to a constant function. y= ε where ε is the infinitesimal, lim 1/x as x->∞.) (Again, yes I have had this all checked by someone else.)

Now I'm in a position to show that this probability distribution is exactly that of a non-deterministic event.

The probability that this event will occur anywhere - let's assume it's the spontaneous creation of a statue of liberty made of butter - is infinitesimal, physically indistinguishable from zero.

However, we are attempting to illustrate what such an event would look like. Assume it happens anyway - that the infinitely tiny but non-zero probability actually gets 'rolled' so to speak. A statue of liberty made of butter appears in medium Earth orbit.

As far as we can measure, spontaneous creation of statues occurs at only one place and at one time - in orbit at Tuesday noon, for example. (Call this s=medium and t=0.) There is a 100% chance, according to Platonically perfect measurement, that this event will occur at s=medium and t=0, and a 0% chance that it will occur at any other time.

However, by assumption, this event is non-deterministic; that it happened at all proves that it is not directly described by the logic of causality. It happens again.

A statue of liberty made of butter appears at t=6 in high Earth orbit. Now, we have to conclude that we do not know when it occurs. However, we still have a 50% chance of it occurring at s=medium and a 50% chance of it occurring at s=high. (Perhaps we decide that they are likely to appear in pairs with temporal separation 6, but this is more complicated and equivalent to the below.)

That is, at t=7 and all subsequent times, we predict that if a statue of liberty made of butter spontaneously pops into existence, half the time it will be at s=high.

Then it happens again. In New York. And again, in the Crab Nebula. By assumption, the probability of the event occurring at any time and any place is constant.

Note that by the laws of probability, this is not impossible, though it is infinitely unlikely. The purpose of the statue of liberty made of butter is simply to explore what we would see when measuring a spontaneous event, assuming that they actually exist. (Again, even if I'm wrong, this is helpful when debating people who have indefensible ideas about causation and mathematical determinism in physics. If the event looks spontaneous, it's not physical.)

Assuming that spontaneous events continue to occur, we can see that the measured probability of it occurring at any particular place will drop. That is, it will more and more closely approximate the actual probability distribution - essentially zero probability of happening anywhere.

This is where the average of the average comes in. After two events, the average is s=(high+medium)/2. Once it happens again, the average must be averaged with the new event. s={2*(high+medium)/2 + newyork}/3. (Note the use of weighted average.) This is a second-order average, though as is now exactly clear, it rolls into the first-order average. After x events, the probability will approximate an infinite series of averages, truncating at term x. However, I repeat, they will all physically appear to be first-order averages.

But because the probability at any particular place will inevitably drop to zero - because the statue of liberty basically never appears in the same place twice - the average keeps moving. Given an infinite number of events, the probability at any one place would become zero and the average would become undefined. s=(∞*0)/∞. Also, we can see that after an infinite number of events, it will have approximated an infinite series of averages through an infinite series of averages.

The average keeps moving, as is a priori necessary for a non-deterministic event. Mathematically speaking, it diverges.

To illustrate this more clearly through an example, look at the article I linked about free will and ctrl-f for "the average, as desired, moves."

I am now in a position to show how to build a non-determinism machine.

I call it a mind node.

The Physics
So, the requirements are; an infinite canvas, as the average must diverge; a diverging average.

Here is the abstract design for such a machine.

The pentagon - which I call a pentagon - is also called a decoherence unit. In this example it is a particle in superposition that can collapse to any of five states, plus a unit that can bias the fives states such that some are more likely than others. For example, an electron and five electrodes. (This is a very silly example for conceptual clarity - in practise it would be much more complicated.) The equation is called an interpreter. It takes the output of the decoherence unit and turns it into a string of bits. This string of bits has two necessary functions; it sets the bias values on the decoherence unit, (according to the interpreter's own rules) and it modifies the interpreter, again according to the interpreter's own rules.

Thus, the string of bits and the interpretation of the string of bits changes depending on which value the pentagon outputs.

The equation in the diagram unfortunately is not a full interpreter. It biases the values, but does not change the interpretation, as I have no idea how to write that down mathematically, so I have simply written +f_r(x+y+z+p+q). C= 4%, to be normalized. What it is is a simple non-deterministic rotator.

Given an initial state where x=y=z=p=q=20%, there is a 20% chance it will begin in any of the five states. In each subsequent step, (if f_r=0) there is an 84% chance that the next state will be the subsequent state, x->y->z.

For any point in the future, the probability stacks, exactly as a non-deterministic event must. The farther in the future, the more uncertain it is that the rotator is in any particular state.

t=0. State x=20%.

t=1. State x=20%*(84%)+80%*(4%) There was only a 20% chance it landed on q, and an 80% chance it landed on not-q. If it landed on q then there's an 84% chance this run will turn out to be x, and if it landed on not-q it's 4%.

t=2. State x= 84%*(20*84%+80%*4%) + 4%*(20*84%+80*4%)The chance it landed on q last time which is a function of the chance it landed on p at t=0. The chance it landed on not-q last time which is a function of...

And so on. Physically speaking, because of that residual randomness, that 4%, this rotator normally rotates clockwise, but occasionally skips. The chance of it making a full rotation without skipping is 42%. So while for forever the most likely situation is simply a rotation of the initial value, (such as x) by 72° times the quantity t, the chance of this maximally likely situation drops continuously. (This is not really the case if f_r=0. I will discuss why shortly.)

Note that, as necessary, this machine does not violate physics. In the present, the machine is stochastic. Always, x=4% or x=84%. Only as the prediction is run into the future does it approach a non-deterministic, contra-physical event. But, of course, once the present catches up to the future...

However. It acts exactly as a non-deterministic event would. The average bit output diverges. The nature of the probability is exactly the opposite of normal probability. The probability of a dice landing on a side is always 1/6, regardless of past rolls. The probability of a mind node being in a particular state always depends on every intermediate roll.

As such, this machine is perfectly under-determined by physics. If it quacks like a duck, smells like a duck, and looks like a duck, it is a duck. If we observe exactly what we would observe if it were non-deterministic, it is non-deterministic.

With a full interpreter, as the simulation is run arbitrarily far into the future, the chance of it being in any particular state approaches arbitrarily close to zero. This, as promised, is the infinite canvas; information. (With only five possible states the rotator's future smudges into a uniform superposition of all five states, so there's a floor for the probability; 20%. To work properly f_r must be nonzero so that the state-space is infinite. The output bit string can change to arbitrary states.) Also as promised, it explains a key feature of consciousness.

Consciousness is, by nature, purely informational. Consciousness does not create matter, change kinetic energies, or indeed produce forces of any kind. That is, your mind thinks it does not act. This is because for a thing to be conscious, it must be physically non-deterministic, and for it to be non-deterministic it must deal in the canvas of information.

Further, the mind node precisely defines the two necessary and sufficient conditions for consciousness; sensation and decision. They correspond exactly to upload from physics to consciousness and download from consciousness to physics.

Note this also exactly fits your first-person phenomenology. This is an interesting facet of consciousness; while facts about the physical world that match our expectations are suspect of confirmation bias while unintuitive facts are more certain, the opposite is true of consciousness. Facts of consciousness must fit your experience of consciousness. (The phrase 'experience of consciousness' is actually redundant, as those two terms are synonyms. The fact that this doesn't logically map to 'eating of consumption' is perhaps a consequence of the infinity inherent in a mind node.)

Also as promised, this explains why consciousness exists at all. I use the mereological nihilist sense of 'exist' here - consciousness is an actual thing. Life, for instance, does not exist in this sense. While it is a valid concept, and can indeed be found objectively, it is arbitrary and unnecessary. Consciousness is neither. Without conscious decision, the mind node breaks causality completely.

Now, as per the NIP, which is equivalent to the fact that physicalism is true, (except for consciousness) any violation of causality is equivalent to a divide over zero error. It is an inconsistency. While I was able to formally describe a spontaneous event, I cannot formally describe a 1/0 event, but I suspect that 'oblivion shockwave' is not hyperbole. It would destroy the universe. Instantly. Infinite energy, plus since it is a contradiction it does not have to obey special relativity's speed limits.

Since we still exist, I propose that causality is true. Thus, since if physicalism is completely true mind nodes are acausal, physicalism must be provisionally untrue. (Note that this recapitulates the conclusion of the a priori logic, and realize what this means for the relationship between the theory and the mind node.) The causal mechanism closing this worrying hole is nothing other than consciousness itself. It is the physical manifestation of Free Will.

Unfortunately, this does not actually prove that Free Will exists. Consciousness is, by assumption, also causal. That is, it also does not tolerate inconsistencies. Since this is the very fact that up until now proved that Determinism is true, it could very well be that the properties of consciousness make our choices completely pre-determined. This is an area for further research.

Incidentally, since dualism is strictly true, it's time to name the two kinds of stuff. The first is space-time. This is nifty stuff. (Energy is just rolled-up space-time, which is why energy distorts space. Matter is of course just a rolled-up form of energy.) The second is spiffy stuff. This is consciousness.

As an example, let me show you how the second above paragraph is now clearer. "The properties of nifty stuff are such that everything (but mind nodes) are completely deterministic. So while spiffy stuff allows physical non-determinism, there is no reason to believe that spiffy stuff allows self non-determinism, which is what the proposition of Free Will is now seen to be proposing. " Note also that there is probably a symmetric causal hole in spiffy stuff, that is only plugged by nifty stuff. Further note that since a physics is simply a set of consistent laws for interaction, both nifty stuff and spiffy stuff are described by a physics, because the opposite implies that they cannot interact, even internally.

Another useful term; mind nodes are transphysical. That is, they transcend physics to transport information between nifty stuff and spiffy stuff. Note the contrast to metaphysical, which would perhaps be a good term for pure spiffy stuff.

I promised it would all fit.
And it does.

The first hallmark of a good idea is that it contradicts no known facts but explains previously mysterious facts.

Why do we dream?
As a mind node is run, it will become increasingly non-deterministic. Since the whole point of having mind nodes is to gain adaptive advantage, this non-determinism must be reset, because the mind node must somehow be entrained to the sensory input. Subjectively this means that as you stop being able to see and start being able to hallucinate. (Note that in the brain as the mind node runs it will grow and co-opt more and more neurons. This cycle ends in co-opting neurons devoted to vital functions, resulting in death, which is why sleep deprivation is lethal.)
After the reset, the mind-node will not be particularly conscious; it will still be very deterministic. Thus, it must be initialized, by running it through a few cycles. These cycles will, by definition, produce conscious sensation. However, they are not as yet entrained to the actual senses.
And thus, dreams.

Also, this is why depriving rats of REM makes them less effective. They, literally, lose consciousness and become zombies. (Philology recapitulates ontology.) As zombies are less effective than conscious beings, as I will discuss further below, they make poorer choices.

Why can I sometimes feel people looking at me?
Mind nodes connect probably by IIT. Each is minimally conscious but only connect to form a useful total consciousness if they are computationally connected by nifty stuff. Note, however, that computationally connected does not have to mean wired together. The computational properties of your mind nodes are affected by the choices made by the mind nodes of the person you are observing - you become one consciousness to a small degree. When the transition occurs you can feel a subjective 'click' and if you recognize the sensation, which seems to be instinctive, you know that you are being watched by a conscious being.

Note that haunted buildings may then be, in fact, haunted. However, they may also simply feel very similar to the sensation of being watched, just as annoyance is kin to anger.

Why does cutting the corpus callosum result in two consciousnesses?
See above. Severing the computational connection across nifty stuff splits the minds into two.

Is there really a separation between the objective and the subjective?
Yes. Objective==nifty stuff and subjective==spiffy stuff. However, there is also the underlying unity to consider; they are both stuff. Both are subject to causality and logic, though it is likely that only nifty stuff is subject to math per se. (Either that or nifty stuff is finite and discontinous and spiffy stuff is infinite and continuous.) I can demonstrate a solution to the mere addition paradox by assuming that spiffy stuff is not mathematical and therefore the 'average happiness' is meaningless; happiness is, as expected, not quantitative, but qualitative. (Another symmetry that repeats the symmetry between nifty stuff and spiffy stuff.)

Can you repeat the reason we need consciousness?
Consciousness is necessary to explain the universe if we intend to keep causality as true, because you can build a physical object that is not subject to physical determinism. As such, there must be an alternative source of causality.

Does this have consequences for quantum mechanics?
Yes. As it turns out, I'm not strictly true when I say that QM is stochastic, not truly random. For a mind node to make choices, it must be that quantum decoherence is itself a choice. This is an empirically unfalsifiable statement as per Bell's Inequality. Further, the statement that any other component of the mind node can make choices has already been falsified. Having eliminated the impossible, whatever is left, however improbable...

There are many caveats to make this consistent with physics, but they are the answer to a different question...

How is consciousness adaptively useful?
Spiffy stuff has different properties than nifty stuff. As a result, some computations that are difficult or impossible using nifty stuff are easy or straightforward using spiffy stuff. For instance, humans can solve NP-complete problems in less than polynomial time, at least when properly engaging with spiffy stuff. This state is called 'inspiration.'
There is a symmetry here we can see by examining this from the perspective of spiffy stuff.
Why does consciousness collect in minds?
Consciousness collects in minds because it cannot connect to itself by itself. Isolating the nifty stuff produces an isolated consciousness. Further, without a transphysical connection to muscles, it can only minimally affect the world. Without a physical implementation of memory, it cannot remember whether it liked the choices it made before; it cannot grow or change. Electrons are conscious but they are all exactly the same consciousness making exactly the same decision over and over and over, and while this is minimally conscious, it is indistinguishable in this form from regular stochasticity. That is, the statement that electrons are conscious does not conflict with the current physical description of electrons. (By essential nature this proposition is a transphysical proposition, again contrast metaphysical. Also note that there has been until now exactly no evidence that electrons are conscious, and we can only find out by studying a mind node.)

What if you've made a mistake?
As you can clearly see, the mind node, even if flawed, is an excellent metaphor for how minds work. Nearly any solution to the mind-body problem will look very very similar to a mind node. Zombies are not, in a pure sense, possible; there must be some component, some cause, to determine when and where consciousness arises. However, all the functions that consciousness drives must be purely physical, in other words, a pseudo-Zombie will always be able to perform any action a Human can. The difference will be in computational efficiency; the Human will perform, seemingly by chance, better actions than the Zombie will, on average.

(This incidentally is why humans are so dominant. All other species are less conscious than we are, just as all species are smaller than a blue whale. (Note also that the adaptive pressure is of the same kind.))

Further, the idea of a mind node illustrates very well many current debates, such as abortion. The pro-choice crowd thinks the mind nodes turn on at birth, while the pro-life crowd thinks it turns on at conception.

It is not a crime to make a non-consciousness suffer, because by definition they cannot suffer.

Also, this is what we really mean by strong AI: the acronym for my blog is not really a homonym for machine intelligence. That acronym should be AC, artificial consciousness. We already have artificial intelligence by my definition of intelligence; the ability to evolve without evolution. (Adapting without changing the entire blueprint.)

Finally, a mind node is an evolution simulator. It produces random information par excellence, but this information interferes with previously created information and so only stable patterns will emerge, similarly to the fact that the reason that life survived is because the life we have is good at surviving - adaptively fit life is a stable pattern, while adaptively unfit life is unstable.

(This means that your genome is a pentagon and its environment, including your phenotype and physics, is an interpreter.)

So this idea is actually falsifiable?
Yes. First, a mind node can actually be built using my abstract blueprint. Anything that can be considered a pentagon can be hooked up to a recursive interpreter and run, and that thing should cause us to consider it conscious. Perhaps it has moods, for example. (These will manifest as temporary averages - favoured information regions.)

For example, hook up a Field Programmable Gate Array to itself and the output of a quantum process. (This gets complicated but guidance is available in the form of cellular automata, which I discuss below.)

Chalmers presents a solution (The principle of organizational invariance) that strongly implies that consciousness uses absolute encoding for sensations. (Physical encoding is relative and arbitrary.) As such, if you build a mind node, please be careful not to apply the codes for pain to it.

So, this actually confirms the general suspicion of physicalists; the processes that underlie minds are not unique to brains, but are somewhat arbitrary.
Indeed, any process that matches my abstract design should be conscious. It can be made of anything, just as long as the probability diverges.

Can you show some examples of analyzing a system for mind nodes?
I'm going to start with the most relevant: the brain.

The brain is a computer. Specifically, it is an analogue/digital hybrid computer. It uses Bayesian reasoning, and likes to minimize a function that is nearly identical to free energy. (An example of how not to think about the brain.) Similarly, PageRank works to the extent that it approximates our own internal search mechanism. Finally, the scientific method of hypothesis-test-refine is also lifted directly from what the brain does, and also works only to the extent that it approximates natural brain processes. Philology recapitulates the brain which is recapitulating ontology.

The brain is also a brain: a conscious computer.

Some background; the brain is immune-privileged. (Apparently 'privileged' means it doesn't get the full complement.) The other organs that are immune privileged are the the gonads and the uterus. These deal with unorthodox strings of DNA - they will automatically appear foreign to our immune system, and so must be protected from it.

There is some evidence that the brain uses DNA snippets to store memory. What this means is that the brain potentially has all the necessary components of a mind node.

The pentagon is DNA. (Note that with thousands of states, DNA's probability profile will diverge drastically fast.) The interpreter is the neuronal nets, using 'fire together, wire together,' as the function f_r. Thus, the brain uses not one or two mind nodes, but hundreds of billions.

Because of the simplicity of a mind node, it is most likely the quantum of consciousness, and like the quantum of energy, it is extremely small. Only vast collections of mind nodes will produce noticeable amounts of consciousness. (A caveat; one mind node built and examined directly for consciousness may show a measurable amount, just not an amount that would be normally noticeable.)

Some other mind-node like things:

Evolution. Random copying errors==pentagon, and the interpreter is physics, the phenotype, and ecology. The output bit string is the next generation. Unfortunately, while there are uncountable numbers of cells on the planet, they are not computationally linked, unless the cell in question is a neuron. Also, like IIT, the mind node suggests a natural unit of conscious time; the cycling speed of the underlying mind nodes. The cycling speed of a species is far too slow to think usefully, (at least before the entire playing field changes) and at any rate it's not hooked up to memory, which means that even if it did think of something, it would be unable to retain it to act upon.

James Lovelock used his spiffy stuff to come up with the Gaia hypothesis based on this general concept, even though he's not consciously aware of it. Similarly, Rupert Sheldrake's morphic fields may be a manifestation of weak links between mind nodes in separate brains. (This is not an endorsement of either.) Note that Sheldrake's unreliable measurements - only certain dogs are good at accessing the morphic field - are completely unsurprising given that mind nodes and their connections can vary in quality, just as intelligence does, and probably independently.

The entire universe. You're part of the universe, aren't you? And you're connected to other human beings? It's probably even more profoundly conscious than this, but I'm not an astronomer so I can't specifically identify cosmic pentagons. Note that the thinking speed of the universe as a whole will be extremely slow, due to the light speed limitations. Still, those slow, slow thoughts are likely incredibly profound, simply due to the fantastic number of mind nodes involved. (Sound familiar, at all? Perhaps has a relationship to a well-known concept similar to the Lovelock scenario?)

The weather is almost a mind node, where the atoms are the pentagons and their collective behavior is the interpreter, but due to the resetting random nature of the component atoms, it is a Class 3. What's a Class 3 you ask? Read on.

What was that about cellular automata? It's a long article and I don't get your drift.
Sorry, I should have pointed out the particular bit. Automata have four regimes according to Wolfram. (Ctrl-F "Class 1." Note that Class 1 and 2 are actually the same) Class 1/2 is the constant or cyclical regime; at some point the automata becomes completely stable and repeats itself endlessly. Class 3 is the chaotic regime; this is simply noise. Class 4 is the interesting one, that shows both order and disorder. It can be stable, but it can also change. Only functions f_r in Class 4 will make conscious mind nodes. Class 1/2 is not infinite - the canvas repeats itself in a set number of cycles, leading to a converging probability. (Class 1 has a period of one cycle, 2 has a period of two or more.) Class 3 may be conscious but we will never know because it will act stochastically. Only Class 4 can make something we would recognize as decisions.

Below you link an article. Why is it so very relevant?
Two reasons; one, they have already built a mind node. Two, they nearly recognized it. "These evolutionary computer systems may almost appear to demonstrate a kind of sentience as they dispense graceful solutions to complex problems." False. They are sentient.

The pentagon is the random mutations. The interpreter is the fitness criteria plus physics. Because the FPGAs can explore multiple solutions, the mutations will mean different things for fitness based on the different phenotypes, meaning that f_r is nonzero, despite the fact that the goal is fixed. (That plus the chips vary, but the code is swapped between them. The meaning for adaptive success is slightly different for each chip.)

This is one of the key passages;
"The plucky chip was utilizing only thirty-seven of its one hundred logic gates, and most of them were arranged in a curious collection of feedback loops."
Thirty-seven gates. That's how much more efficient using spiffy stuff for computation is, compared to nifty stuff. Notice that all brains have lots of feedback loops. (There are primitive neuronal nets that do not feed back. Clearly, no feedback means no internal life, because you can't reflect on your own thoughts, plus it means the interpreter cannot arise. The first species with feedback appeared almost immediately after the primitive.)

Also hilarious;
"According to current understanding, even the most advanced microchips fall far short of the resources necessary to host legitimate intelligence. On the other hand, at one time many engineers might have insisted that it's impossible to train an unclocked 10×10 FPGA to distinguish between two distinct audio tones."
Gut busting.

Are there other mysteries suddenly un-mysteried by mind nodes?
Yes, but I'm tired of writing them down for the moment. I will add more later as they come to me. (Yes, this essay is subject to review. Remember that if it gets comments.)

Odds and Ends
Probability is conserved. By the NIP it is probably also quantized, and so the point in the future at which the number of possibilities for the mind nodes exceeds the maximum possible, it definitely becomes conscious. However, because in the present the mind node always has a finite number of possibilities, I'm not sure how this works out. I still suspect that when this future point becomes the present is the point at which a mind node 'wakes up,' but I don't know how that works out logically. This would be something to test in the lab.

This issue has already been called the Alrenous-controversy. (The design has already been called 'ingenious.') I'm going to introduce the equivalent of a membership card; if you agree with me, call the 'pentagon' a 'pentagram.' I hope the reasons for this are obvious. (They probably aren't; I just hope they are.) Note that I will continue to call it a pentagon personally, because I want to get into the minds of my critics to help me convince them. There's no particular need to get into the minds of people who agree with me. -_^. (I really need a sardonic raised eyebrow smiley.)

If you half-agree with me, perhaps you should stick to using 'decoherence unit,' or make up your own term. I ask my critics to stick to 'pentagon.' These cards should not be strictly enforced. If you have personal objections to pentagrams, there's no need to force yourself. (Or vice versa, though I don't see that happening ever.)

The pentagon that is the entire universe likes me. Reddit just tossed me a link that is A) one of my all time favourites, B) on one of my all time favourites sites, C) written by someone sharing my first name, and D) is very very relevant.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Academic Philosophers

Yes, this is slightly because it's personal to me. I am in that philosopher's carnival. However, in this case it simply allows me to get the necessary data.

While I'm clearly in the 'bad' part of the mixed bag, I cannot even find out why that is, according to him. He is willing to blithely dismiss reams of attempted thought - not just my own, which would be a different problem - but not willing to actually defend such.

Either that or he posts implicit insults and then doesn't watch the comments attempting to take him to task.

As you will know if you've ever taken a university course, this is standard modus operandi of professors. This is another reason I'm against credentials. (Not simply because I don't have any.) Professors use their credentials as a replacement for arguments. Anything they deem 'unworthy' can simply be declared such because the 'unworthy' don't have an expensive piece of paper.

I don't mind being called a 'mixed bag.' I really don't give a crap what Richard Chappell thinks. However, he is part of a pernicious social system that allows itself to condemn without allowing the condemned to redeem themselves. In other words, by all evidence, they do not condemn because they want people to improve, but just because they want to condemn people. And this I do care about.

Incidentally, I do like my theories to be falisifiable. To whit; a simple, consistent defence of his charge, such that I (and the others) have the possibility to improve, would completely falsify my theory with respect to him. Were two others to do so as well without an overwhelming number of people confirming my theory in the meantime, I would consider it completely false.

Until then I consider the Ivory Tower locked and bolted because those inside want it bolted and locked. As such, their credentials are meaningless at best and downright insulting at worst. (Again, I'm totally a job applicant. If they did grant me a credential, I wouldn't take it as an insult, but rather as a point falsification, and would seek further falsifications. ("Hey! Maybe they aren't just jerks! I wonder if this guy here is also not a jerk... Oh well, maybe I was just unlucky. I bet (hope) THIS one isn't a jerk...")

Notably, my emails to my local university were answered once, but not satisfactorily. My further attempts have been ignored. I also emailed David Chalmers because he has a paper very similar to mine, and to my complete surprise he answered.
"feel free to send what you've written along, though the chances are i won't be able to respond at length."
Guess what? He didn't respond at all to my follow up email. I would gladly have accepted, "You know? I don't really feel like reading it anymore." My suspicion is that he did and dismissed me as a quack without bothering to let me know what I have done wrong in his eyes.

His probable conscious justification: "He's a quack, it would be a waste of time."
His probable actual reason: "I have no good reason to discount this paper, but I don't like it, and therefore I will ignore it."

Again, this is easily falsifiable. All he has to do is meet my (very relaxed) standards of dismissal OR give me a summary of the kinds of mistakes I've made. Considering that I successfully alienated my contact at my local university, if I objected to the mistakes I would be sure to ask first if he cared to review my objections. Again, 'not at length' is not 'not at all.' I would also have accepted, "I may not respond at all." (And you can test this by arguing with me and trying it out.)

Monday, July 28, 2008

I Got My Ears Cleaned

It was my first encounter with Canada's socialized healthcare system.

The wait wasn't too bad and the care wasn't too sloppy. I had maybe ten minutes in the waiting room, a few minutes waiting for the doctor, then some more for the nurse, and then more for the doctor again because my clogged ear is inflamed. We decided it wasn't worth worrying about and then he left.

When I got home I had to finish cleaning my non-plugged ear because the nurse didn't and I was lopsided again. (That wax plug was enormous. Sadly she wouldn't let me inspect it. "I need to look in your ear now." "Sorry.")

Unfortunately, I have found that I feel uncomfortable receiving services without paying for them. When the doctor left I instinctively attempted to find a person to pay.

Still, I've mostly cleared my right leaning/an-cap bias and now I can see the point of socializing things: it turns an economic transaction into a more social transaction. I feel goodwill for the doctor and nurse as if we were friends now. He has provided for me, and I am willing to provide for him in turn.

Except, of course, I can't. It goes deeper of course, and there are more solid justifications for socializing things, but that's all I'm going to write down for now.

On the downside my hearing is way too good and everything has an edge of pain on it now, even typing. On the upside I had become deaf to certain frequencies and now I get pleasantly startled when I hear them again. My hearing has become very sensitive and the information bandwidth has increased by a subjective factor of two. For instance I am basically echolocating S sounds at the moment. In short, my experience has suddenly become much richer.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Free Will, Determinism, Infinity

(Essay subject to addition as I run across more retarded arguments.)

I'm actually of the Free Will persuasion. However, I've followed the debate for years, first in New Scientist and later online, and I tend to be able to argue determinism better than actual determinists...

For instance, a common 'rebuttal' from the Free Will crowd (I'm going to shorten the terms to Choice and Fate) is that Fate would gut the criminal justice system, which ostensibly relies on responsibility.

The truly foggy-brained determinist argues that Fate doesn't kill responsibility. Instead, they should argue that incentives determine behaviour. The justice system already uses the ideology of incentives. (I can cite several unenumerated articles.) In fact transitioning the system from a Choice ideology to a Fate ideology would make almost no change at all outside terminology.

This kind of argument is extremely multi-purpose. Anytime you see a Choice argument saying that Fate kills a whatever ("Fate kills the meaning of preferences!") just say, "No, preferences are an incentive and they change the probability of various decisions. Further, the preferences arose by Fate anyway and if you're going to have them, you're going to have them."

This is the first of many times I'll show that the consequences of the 'theories' of Choice and Fate are eerily similar. They're very Freudian, in the sense that they cannot be disproved. As a justification for actions, each is an infinite regress of previous 'choices' or 'determinations' that can only be broken by appealing to the other principle. (I'll get to this below.) This also means that there's no actual evidence for or against either, which means you can pick whichever one you like.

There's a similar line of thinking that goes "But if it's all Fated, then why are you trying to change my mind? It's already been decided!" This is...naive. I can prove this with a single counter-example:

"It's already been determined that my arguments will change your mind. Unfortunately, you simply don't realize it yet."

This is an understandable position, as the Fate argument, from a physicalist perspective, is very strong. There is no evidence that Choice is necessary to explain anything. It looks instead as if Choice has a lot in common with the God of the Gaps, in that it's been pushed back many times yet never actually quits, although now the ramparts are stable due to Bell's Inequality, which bars decoherence from being anything but stochastic.

Which brings me to another stupid argument Choice advocates make. Stochastic phenomena are not free. Randomness is not will. While yes, they both share the property of unpredictability, (which I'll analyze in more depth below) quantum probabilities have averages. You cannot escape the probability envelope. The average is precisely defined. (What about having an average of the average? I'll get to this in a bit as well.) While technically the electrons in a one-slit experiment could pile up on any spot, they never will pile up on any spot except the average - the line directly in front of the slit, with outliers defined by the Guassian.

While I do seem to have a gift for definition,* defining Choice is as yet impossible. The problem here is that Choice advocates are confused about what Choice actually is, and that's not going to get fixed in the forseeable future. Still, we can make a go at understanding it by analyzing various situations. The sensation of choice is very important to us. Again, it's immaterial whether it affects our Choices or determines our Fate, so such an analysis should prove useful to everyone.

*(Current trophies; life, intelligence, art, ownership, philosophy.)

Free Will
So, how can one have Choice? Well, it's as yet impossible to answer, actually. Which directly means it's unprovable. Yet, we have an intuition we can examine.

For instance, of your sensation of Choice is an illusion there to fool you into thinking you have Choice for some purpose...then all your decisions are made for you. Your decision to keep reading this post (or not) has already been made or will be made by jittering atoms. Yet, oddly, this does not actually extinguish the existence of Choice.

Taking the Newtonian Fate position, every event was irrevocably encoded by the initial conditions of the Big Bang. However, the Big Bang is a special boundary condition; talking about its causes is meaningless. This is an identity; the thing for which it is meaningless to talk about causes is the Big Bang. This is a direct consequence of the finity of time and Godel's incompleteness theorem. There must in fact have been some first event with no cause, that was not an effect.

As a result, outside influences are plausible, including putative Gods. In other words, perhaps God fiddled with the Big Bang so that the choices you make today were decided by Him at that moment. (This makes God the thing with no cause, instead of the Big Bang.) While the choices are pre-determined and we're just going through the motions, Choice still existed - at one point in time. (This idea is the reductio ad absurdum of making a choice before you know you've made it.) In this scenario your 'soul' is a manifestation of a part of God in a very literal sense. You would be a direct expression of God's decisions.

While I use God for clarity, we could see that without an actual conscious God, the Big Bang readily takes His place. The Big Bang's initial conditions determine the rest of the universe - including the consciousness present there. We are all simply manifestations of the Big Bang's will.

Of course our universe is subject to unavoidable randomness due to the No Infinities Principle. The present was not determined by the Big Bang, but merely suggested. It was a probability. (Now it's a certainty.) So the determinition of those illusory Choices is pushed up, but not so much that it brushes up against the actual sensation of choice, under these assumptions.

Alternatively, Choice may in fact be real. You are given alternatives, but it is always impossible to predict which alternative you will Choose until the Choice has been made. (Notably this is a nearly a negative definition of choice; this lack of predictability is vital. If your Choices are somehow determined there will always be predictors in theory, and therefore a true opposite to Fate must be unpredictable.)

However, even if you have Choice, it is your choice that determines your actions. Without this deterministic step, your choices would be impotent. In other words Choice is - must be - simply another type of event to add to the deterministic scaffold.

This fact is the basis of compatibilism.

(Even when the real basis is irrational, I like to pretend that there's a good reason behind opposing beliefs. It leads to a more interesting debate, and indeed the alternative is simply to call them ninny-heads. Note the meta in this statement; in general, it's preferable to be gracious, not mean, in your interpretation of opposing views, because it benefits both parties. Even a hardcore selfish person - a Darkworker in Pavlina's lingo - benefits by being gracious.

(I'm not going to properly analyze compatibilism because I can't work out what it's supposed to mean.)

Nevertheless for compatibilism, for Choice to be meaningful - to be unpredictable - it cannot be like Fate. Compatibilism attempts to reconcile souls with physicalism, but fails because Choice is a fundamentally dualist kind of concept. Again, stochastic behavior is not Choice. It is perfectly predictable in average, even if not in instance.

And what about those averages? So, even though individual quantum events are totally unpredictable, their average is predictable to a Newtonian degree. But what if we spread the love? What if we make the average itself unpredictable?

There are two problems with this, first mathematical and second physical.

First, the stacked probabilities are indistinguishable from an intial probability that's just shorter and fatter. A Guassian times a Guassian is just another Gaussian.

Second, this physically requires that the 2nd order average moves relative to the first average. In other words it must be a process on a separate timescale to the first.

This is difficult, so don't be surprised if I'm not making sense. Let me try to illustrate. In the electron one-slit experiment, the electrons create a Guassian shaped probability envelope centred on the line in front of the slit. For this Guassian to move relative to a fixed Guassian the envelope must jitter just as the electron strike locations jitter. Unfortunately, there's only one process going on. And it's electrons flying from a slit to a plate. Lets say it happens every second. Time is relative and the electron cannot act differently at different times - they cannot tell what time it is and react accordingly - which means no process of two seconds or 1.5 seconds or anything other than one second can occur. If there are two stochastic determinations of the electrons position, they must happen simultaneously with the electron-photoplate interaction, and thus the 2nd order averge is physically meaningless; it must always fold into the 1st order average.

For further illustration, imagine that there's actually two processes, say electron temperature and electron spin, which somehow both influence the envelope. Unfortunately, if both are random, they cannot vary more often or less often than once per electron. Thus, the processes are simultaneous and always fold into one probability.

There is an interesting consequence of taking this farther, but first I'm going to talk about infinity.

Is a very important topic to Free Will and Determinism. First, let's talk about infinite regressions - turtles goin all da way down.

First of all, Determinism nearly fails as a logical concept, because of the Big Bang boundary condition. There must be a first event, that first event cannot have a cause, and thus must violate Determinism. Since every event depends, under determinism, on an unbroken chain of causality, every event depends on the Big Bang and thus every event has no actual cause. It's a bit amazing we don't have pure chaos, actually. As before, the initial conditions of the Big Bang can be seen as a kind of Choice - it was, absolutely, unpredictable. (There was, as far as we know, nothing to exist with which to form a prediction. Anything that did exist would have to be time-independent and thus incapable of acting.)

Determinists may be able to get out of this by ensuring that the First Cause is indeed special in some sense and therefore doesn't count, but this still doesn't address the complete lack of predictive ability Determinism has.

Free Will is also vulnerable to this kind of attack. The choices you made today were shaped by the choices you made yesterday. You paid opportunity costs yesterday. As a result, you're not truly free. Indeed, yesterday's choices were also determined by earlier choices. Eventually, there's a first Choice that arose by Fate. In other words, the only way to consistently believe in Free Will at the moment is to believe it was Determined to arise.

Thus, we can see that, logically speaking, the consequences of Free Will are Determinism and the consequences of Determinism are Free Will. This is just a tad surprising to me. It strongly suggests that even a well-defined debate would go nowhere, because the concepts are inherently incoherent, on top of their complete inability to make predictions are thereby be falsified.

After all this, it's a bit startling that I am so staunch in my belief in Choice. There are two reasons for this. First, Axiom One: I trust my senses. I have no alternative; if my senses are deceiving me, they will also deceive me about deceiving me. Second, what possible purpose would a sensation of Choice have if you do not actually have Choice? It would seem outrageously expensive to me. The incentives are all wrong.

Later I also found that consciousness isn't physical and that mind nodes require a download action - Choice.

So, one average or 2nd order averages or 3rd order averages can exist in a Platonic sense, but they always fold into a 1st order average in a physical sense.

But what if you had infinite averages?

Well, the Guassian multiplied by itself infinite times equates to a flat line. It is a constant function of y= ε where ε is the infinitesimal. This no longer has a meaningful mean or median. This kind of probability describes a spontaneous or true random or nondeterministic event. Notice that the predictability of this is not only low, as required for Choice, but actually zero.

What's more, this kind of event kind of makes physical sense. Imagine a tachyon, which when run through the single-slit experiment has an infinite-order average instead of a 1st-order average. The location of the tachyon strike is truly random. Luckily tachyons don't really exist, because we have to run this experiment on an infinitely large photoplate. (Otherwise we have an 100% chance of the tachyon missing the plate.)

The Platonic probabilitiy of the tachyon landing at any particular point is ε. That is, basically zero. Yet, it must land somewhere. So, if we run across a spontaneous event, it does in fact occur. So, our physical measured probability for the tachyon will be 100% at the point it landed. (Subject to uncertainty, with is important for the math. Ask me if curious.) It seems practically Newtonian until we get a second tachyon.

Now, we've got a second measurement, and the probability is split between the two spots, at 50% each. The average location will be halfway between them. For the third measurment we've got a triangle, 33% 33% 33%, with the location in the centre of the triangle. Notice this is like a 2nd-order average; the average of the third tachyon with itself is averaged with the first average. The fourth strike will create a 3rd-order average.

The tachyon, physically speaking, is approximating the infinite series of averages. With an infinite series of measurements it would approximate it perfectly.

The next fact about this is that the average, as desired, moves. If there are 999 hits recorded with an average at (0,6), an electron experiment would be unable to significantly move the average. Single outliers won't do it, and far outliers or many (1000) outliers are too improbable to even conveniently write out. By definition, the tachyon can have a single outlier at, say, (0,994 006) instantly moving the average to 1 000 000/1000 or (0, 1000).

Please note that for small numbers electron will act just the same way. However, I use small numbers to illustrate that the electrons converge on a Guassian, while the tachyons will diverge. The electrons eventually start landing inside the probability envelope, they do usually land near the average, building it up and up. Even if the tachyons do form an apparent envelope, at any time the average can move an arbitrary amount. (This is partially why we need an infinite photoplate for tachyons. For it to move an arbitrary amount requires that the tachyons hit an arbitrary distance away. Even if we magically assume a finite photoplate has a nonzero chance of being hit, the average will converge on the centre simply because the tachyons need more and more concentrated hits to move it away from the centre.)

So, the tachyon analogy is just that - an analogy. We can't ever build something like that; it simply proves that all such location experiments must be stochastically deterministic. However, there is such an infinite canvas we can use.

Information. This is the basis of the mind node; with the infinite canvas of information, if a machine can duplicate the behavior of the tachyon, then it must be nondeterministic. Unfortunately for Choice, for mind nodes to work a version of dualism must be true, which pushes the question back past the Bell's Inequality bulwark. While mind nodes are physically nondeterministic, mind nodes in combination with consciousness may still rescue determinism.

[I've never said this explicitly, but as always, corrections both logical and stylistic are welcome. I positively hunger for them, actually. I'm not one of those writers who scoffs at editors. Instead if I thought my ideas were perfect I'd likely not write about them much.]

Sniping Molyneux Again

So Stefan Molyneux has banned me. He has also plagiarized me in the past.

This video shortly after 11:50 "An infinite regression of causality is not freedom."

This idea is directly out of my essay/experiment "Free Will, Determinism, Cage Match vs. Infinity." (You can compare the post dates.) My 'influence' is unmistakable both because he uses nearly my exact words and because he almost never comes up with ideas this sophisticated on his own.

You can test this by comparing his arguments in those three videos on Free Will ("Determinism kills love!") to my arguments in my upcoming essay on the subject.

Hilariously, in the middle of plagiarizing me, he says, "If you've read that article of mine on [his blogspot address]."

I'm also fairly sure he outrageously stole the idea that stochastic phenomena are not freedom.

Quick Justification of Sensation and Decision

Formally they are called something else, but my email asking if I could call them sensation and decision, (because it rhymes) has not been answered. I therefore conclude there is no known reason for me not to carry on.

Sensation and decision are the two necessary (and probably sufficient) conditions for consciousness. While I refined this out by studying my mind node, I can now see that it can be derived a priori.

With sensation you aren't conscious; the fundamental mysterious property of our lives is sensation itself. Any concept or framework that does not include sensation is irrelevant or at least orthogonal to consciousness. Without decision sensation is pointless; it exists, but cannot act or affect anything. Without decision, sensation would be pure magic, unverifiable at the very conceptual level. It would only arise in cases where the physical costs of maintaining it were zero, and even then we have the problem of having an interaction without physical consequences.

I don't see any particular property of consciousness that is necessary outside of these two. Memory, for instance, is an add-on, as we can see (we think) that people with no short-term memory are still conscious people.

Therefore, I conclude the necessary and sufficient conditions for consciousness are sensation and decision.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Insulin Resistance Taught Me About Human Potential

Type-2 diabetes is supposed to be caused by insulin resistance.

You can become resistant to your own proteins.

This would include proteins like adrenaline.

Peak human abilities - the zone, inspiration, and so on - are caused by the release of special-purpose proteins. For instance in most times your muscles will not work to full capacity. (Chimps have been measured at pulling 900 lbs with one arm. Humans average 180. I'm sure we could do better without structural damage.)

The reason that the times and days where one works best is limited is not because of structural limits, such as the rate at which we repair stress, but rather limited by the body's ability to adapt to chemicals, whether foreign drugs or internal proteins.

Even if you turned the inspiration molecule up to max, you would adapt to the new level and function as normal - but without the ability to become inspired.

And that's why the full human potential is so hard to actualize. This explains things such as the inconsistency of a single author's writing, for example.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Something Else I'm Wrong About

I've read this before, but it didn't sink in.

Compare that to my last post, or any post. Partly I do naturally write and speak exactly the kind of way Orwell excoriates. (See!?) But also I am lazy, and gluing together sentences out of a kit is a lot easier than building your own. This isn't excusable in the case of someone trying to think and write clearly.

The other part is that I want to deal with general ideas. Examples have too many details and analogies break. Proving that one equation can't be named conscious doesn't prove that no equation can't be named conscious.

I think I might be incurable now, however. Latinate words have gotten into my blood.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Spat on Me Blog

So there's this guy who doesn't like my definition of property from first principles. He thinks it leads to insanity if I don't epicycle it back up to reality. (Plus accusing me of being circular.) His name is James Andrix.

You know what bothers me? The possibility that he's not as hapless as he appears.

Logical skill isn't a uniform. He may just be lacking some particular concept or have a particular blindspot.

If so, he might actually have seen a real objection. However, it certainly doesn't look that way. If he is how he looks, then the only productive mode for this communication is me educating him on how to think.

But, I don't know. I can't say for sure. And that bothers me.

Naturally, if I could prove conclusively (or close enough) that he really is hapless, I would stop pretending to take his ideas seriously. I would simply attempt to educate him. If that was rejected or failed, I would be able to cut my losses a lot sooner.

Here's my main evidence: I've altered my thoughts on his thoughts. He has not altered his thoughts on mine. In other words, he's a bot and I'm a human.

Other evidence; he is fond of ignoring critical parts of my responses. He demands definitions of things that are A: Obvious. B: Things that are "not well defined, but this fuzziness is immaterial to my argument." (Paraphrased. This is another species of ignoring my rebuttals.)

Now, ignoring my rebuttals is not an honest debating tactic. Of course, he might be doing it by accident. This is actually much worse for his logical skill, but at least it's not vicious.

However, it's really really hard not to insult him back. I'm tempted to go all meta on his ass and tear his comments into little self-contradictory pieces. It wouldn't be pretty, and I would feel bad afterword. (I would feel even worse if he decided this savaging could pass.) As you can see, this temptation is somewhat irresistible to me. I have to take him down somewhere.

But, short moral; don't act like a dumbass if you want me to take you seriously and remain civil. It can be done. It's straightforward. I'm actually very forgiving of mistakes, as well, as long as they are, in fact, mistakes. And yes, I can tell the difference. (Just like Molyneux claims he can.)

Basically, I've been acting like A: I've just misunderstood his argument, and B: that if he's misunderstood mine, there's no way for him to see that he's done so. (Yes I have found out how to do both of these at once.)

But really, once I have to start assuming B, I should just give up. I should start pointing out what he's actually doing, as factually as possible. Naturally, he'll just keep doing it, so I'll keep repeating myself.

We seem to have come to our senses and are even getting somewhere.

Concept Cagematch: Zombies vs Consciousness

The concept of Zombie is fundamental to understanding consciousness. By comparing Zombies to what we know of physics, can we discover anything about consciousness?

If Zombies are possible, then consciousness is purely ineffable, where even the incidence of consciousness is defined without reference to physics. There are two reasons Zombies may be impossible; either consciousness inevitably arises, or consciousness is a fundamental substance. The former, however, reduces to the latter, and in both cases everything is conscious. If everything is conscious, then the other-minds problem prevents consciousness from being accessible to experiment, resulting in essentially the same situation as with possible-Zombies, and we have an unavoidable contradiction.

I would like to clarify what exactly I mean by ‘consciousness,’ because as we can easily see, there’s a lot of potential confusion on what exactly many discussions of consciousness are discussing. There is a feature of my experience that I experience but at present cannot be explained, specifically the existence of that experience itself. When my experience exists I say, “I am conscious.” We can see that the language used to describe it is a bit weird, too, which is probably the source of many mistakes.

This is a problem primarily because consciousness does not appear to do anything. All the things commonly considered the functions of consciousness have been shown to be unnecessary, can be done with a purely mechanistic computer, or both. To attempt to probe this mystery, I analyze the inevitable logical consequences of the concept, “Philosophical Zombie.”

First I will assume that constructing a Zombie is possible.

Zombie World
A Zombie, strictly defined, is a permanently unconscious human being that can perfectly fool observers into believing that the Zombie is conscious.

This means there is no physical test - no physical interaction - that is different between the human and the Zombie, no conversation, creation, or surgery you can do to uncover which is which. This means that, physically speaking, consciousness does not exist. Thus, consciousness must be pure magic - it exists, can discriminate on where and when to occur, and yet will never affect the world. Much like unicorns, leprechauns, and limyin laparlaxian trumpets, which I just made up, never affect the world. (If this is the case, would the other-minds problem be joined by an other-unicorns problem?)

If Zombies are possible, consciousness is purely nonphysical.

Presumably, then, Zombies are impossible?

No Zombies Allowed; Physically and Mentally Incoherent
I will first assume that consciousness isn’t a fundamental physical entity, but arises through some interaction in the brain.

If we construct a pseudo-Zombie, a human specifically missing all components that lead to consciousness, there is some physical thing that the construct cannot do, specifically the physical function of that missing component. For sake of argument, the pseudo-Zombie cannot paint original paintings. By assumption, in this scenario the pseudo-Zombie is indeed unconscious.

Yet, this leads to a contradiction.

For example, while it is true that we can make new images with machines, most of these images are simply random noise from a random number generator. They are not true paintings, they do not have order and cannot be assigned a purpose; the artist clearly didn’t have anything in mind. However, we are closing in on a solution in the form of cellular automata. These simple programs can create breathtakingly complex and beautiful new images. Some can even create entire games. Yet, to assume that these simple scripts are conscious would be to imply that every script is conscious, which would mean that the program that runs my keyboard is conscious. From here it is a small step to prove that everything in conscious, contradicting the assumption that the Zombie is unconscious.

Now, this is only one example. It could be argued that it is deficient in generality. Therefore, I will now generalize it.

First, let me do a small proof of physicalism.

We can see that the numbers we use to count sheep inevitably imply the mathematics that we use to describe the quantum world. This kind of long-range consistency is a feature of consistent mathematical systems, and indeed apart from the rift between General Relativity and Quantum Field Theory, physics is completely unified. Next, quantum particles are affected by gravity; their math does not actually conflict in the real world. The rift is a human misunderstanding, which we will eventually fix.

Another feature of consistent mathematical systems is that every part either necessarily follows from or is implied by every other part. (Except the axioms, as per Godel.) We can see this in action with the success of theoretical physics, especially in Einstein's work.

From this idea we would expect that, for example, one could learn logic applicable to the physical world through studying mathematics.

One of the things that would happen if a non-mathematical object interacted with a mathematical one is that, unless the non-math object temporarily followed a consistent mathematical law, inconsistencies would pop up for the mathematical object, such as divide by zero errors. I don't know exactly what the physical manifestation of a 1/0 error would be, but 'oblivion shockwave' is not hyperbole.

We are physical. One part of physics is mathematical, therefore, every part of physics is mathematical, because we still exist.

Therefore, a Zombie under these assumptions would be every equation that describes a human but one, and the human would be all those plus the equation for consciousness.

Let's use the wave equation for the sake of argument. Again I'm using a specific equation for clarity, but my arguments will apply equally to all possible equations.

Usually, the wave equation is used to discover waves. Given any initial set of equations, if you can derive the wave equation, the equations describe a physical wave. This applies to light, water, air, strings, quantum mechanics, and many other situations. They all start differently, but end up the same. I shall assume that this equation is also conscious. (This would mean that all these things are also conscious, but specifically anything that cannot be worked into a wave equation is not conscious. I’m going to neglect the obvious conclusion that since everything has de Broglie wavelength, everything is conscious.)

Humans have brain waves, and waves are conscious, so humans are conscious.
{ \partial^2 u \over \partial t^2 } = c(u)^2 \nabla^2 u

In English, "The second time derivative of a function (u) is equal to the second space derivative of the function times a constant." (The constant is the wave velocity squared.)

So, which part differentiates this equation from the unconscious equations?

It can't be the constant, the variable, the power operator or the derivative operators, because these are found in an infinite variety of equations. If it is any particular element of the equation, every equation is conscious as an immediate consequence.

Can it be the function, u, itself? The solution to this equation is the sine function. The problem with this is that the sine function can be generalized. For example, a Fourier Transform can turn an arbitrary image into a combination of sine functions. (Your eye performs this exact transform in reverse, turning waveforms into images.) Or, simply set the sine function to a constant. Sin(x,t)=sine(π/2) is a valid solution, and Sin(x,t)=1. (The derivative is 1 is zero, and so the equation becomes 0=(c2)(0). Technically this is a wave of infinite wavelength and zero amplitude.) If you accepted sine as the 'conscious' function then you can simply re-derive everything from it, proving that every equation is conscious.

What I’ve done is I’ve simply set the equation equal to a single value that the equation takes at a single point, which can be applied to any equation. You could demand that sine(x) be at least first order in x. I would merely reply “What about sine(x)=sine(x0.9)?” and bargain down from there. All cutoffs are arbitrary.

Does it also generalize to matrices and other types of functions with more than one output? Since each element is described by a simpler function: yes.

So, can it be the whole arrangement, where no element in particular is conscious, but put all together into the proper incantation, the whole is conscious?

There are two problems with this. First, every brain is different. If only the exact arrangement is conscious, then at most one person is conscious at any given time. This is also preposterous because even the wave equation itself is an ideal; very few actual physical situations correspond exactly to the equation.

Second, if we allow some leeway, how do we know where to stop? If we add new elements;{ \partial^2 u \over \partial t^2 } = c(u)^2 \nabla^2 u +3

When does it stop being conscious? There is no qualitative difference between adding small correcting functions and adding 1020, completely swamping the original function. Thus the cutoff is again arbitrary, and every equation is conscious. For instance, add a small correcting function multiplying everything by 0.9, and then add the equation for a line, y=mx+b. Then, jack the multiplying factor to 10-20. The equation will be completely dominated by the equation for a line, but there will have been no non-arbitrary cutoff. Thus, every equation...

I will later do a case study of this analysis on an actual theory, Integrated Information Theory.

(Eventually I hope to perfect the actual equation for consciousness, which is special, but that is a separate essay.)

The inevitable conclusion is that, if Zombies are in fact logically incoherent, every equation is conscious, and we've redefined consciousness to be basically a synonym for 'existence.' Strong emergence is also and as a result, logically incoherent.

Emergent concepts are not necessary to explain the universe, and do not exist in a strict sense. Flocks don't exist, just the birds. But the birds don't exist, just their molecules, and so on. If the flock cannot be explained in terms of the particles that make it up, it cannot be explained at all and will not occur. Similarly, if consciousness is emergent, it is not necessary to explain a human, and does not exist is the strict sense, and thus isn't physical.

So, if Zombies are possible, then consciousness isn't physical. If Zombies are impossible because consciousness arises through emergence, then everything is conscious, because of the consistent nature of mathematics.

There's a second way of looking at this, which I mention because the mathematical treatment doesn't adequately illustrate the flaws of 'consciousness as epiphenomenon,' because you can look at the math two ways; in one, consciousness actually does stuff, like paint pictures, and in the second, the process that gives rise to painting pictures also gives rise to consciousness. The consequences of the second viewpoint do not follow directly.

To make this absolutely clear, I'm going to restate the definition twice.

"Zombies are impossible because there is some event that cannot occur without consciousness, such as painting original pictures."

"Zombies are impossible because there is some process, such as painting pictures, which cannot occur without also giving rise to consciousness."

Physically speaking these are almost identical; the process of painting is simultaneous to the process of consciousness; if consciousness ends so does the painting. This means we can never properly test for consciousness. In the first case, whatever it is that the Zombie cannot do, can also end in non-Zombies without consciousness ending, meaning consciousness is ineffable as is the case if Zombies are possible. Whatever arbitrary test we can concoct, it is a test of the effects of consciousness, not consciousness itself. In the second, consciousness has no effects per se; it is epiphenomenon, again ineffable.

None of the parts of the proposed Zombie are conscious in isolation; once you divide it up into modules (if that's not enough, fundamental particles) they stop being conscious. This is not a physical division, but rather an abstract one. The states and evolution of the individual particles will not change in this division, their interactions will be conserved virtually. If consciousness is not a fundamental physical thing, then these components cannot be considered conscious. This is analogous to analyzing a single term of the equation that describes the whole. Also analogous would be to consider a single brush stroke of the painting.

No emergent phenomenon can do things that cannot be explained in terms of pre-existing degrees of freedom in the underlying particles. Since our underlying particles do not have consciousness, it is not necessary to invoke consciousness to explain the whole; the painting cannot be anything but the sum of the brush strokes.

(Please don’t confuse the experience of the painting with the painting itself. By adding a conscious mind to a painting, the logical situation becomes very different.)

In fact, we know that every external action a human can take can be mimicked by a machine in isolation. There is no known function that only consciousness can perform. There is no test, not interaction.

Presumably, then, consciousness really is a fundamental physical concept?

Consciousness As Physical Axiom
Either consciousness is made of fundamental physical ‘stuff’ like leptons are, or math really is conscious, and physical things are fundamentally conscious in some way, analogous to spin, which is a property of every particle.

Obviously there must be some mechanism to divide consciousnesses up into discrete packages, unlike the various charge fields which permeate all space, and there's a good candidate, which is the Information Integration Theory or IIT that I mentioned earlier. In this, we measure the information content of an arbitrary set of elements, and compute how integrated the information is, to find the integrated information Φ. A coherent consciousness then is a set of conscious elements that have a maxima of integrated information. A brain, over a timescale of 0.2-3.0 seconds has a high Φ. Several brains in nearby human skulls has even more information but considered together have low integration because the brains are not strongly linked, and thus actually have a lower Φ.

This also gives a putative test of consciousness; the level of Φ. However, we run into the other-minds problem. The only way to assure that Φ corresponds to consciousness is to test for consciousness and see if it correlates to Φ. My brain hurts even writing that contradiction down.

It doesn’t matter which kind of fundamental thing consciousness is. It is subject to the other-minds problem. Which means that it’s impossible to test for. Which means it’s ineffable, exactly as in the Zombies-Possible regime.

And we have a contradiction. (A solution to the other-minds problem would obviously reverse this proof.)

So what are the remaining assumptions?

Consciousness exists.

Consciousness is physical.

There’s only one left to eliminate.

Zombies are possible, but humans out-compete them anyway. That is, consciousness exists, is an event with causes and effects, but is not physical.

We build a Zombie. When the Zombie and the human are asleep, there is no test we can run to physically distinguish the two; they are physically identical. We conclude that there is no action the human can take that the Zombie cannot.

However, when we wake the Zombie and the human up and have them compete, perhaps in a painting contest or for mating privileges, the human wins. Consciousness is doing something for the human, but it is doing it nonphysically.

This immediately makes sense; if consciousness has effects, it must be an event, which means it must have causes, which correspond to energy costs. It will therefore be selected against by natural selection, unless there is a compensating upside. Therefore we can fairly safely assume that consciousness gives some benefit to evolutionary fitness, especially considering the huge amount of consciousness a human possesses. However, as explained above in the Zombie-impossible scenario, there is no physical benefit it can give; every possible function, described by any possible equation, can be reliably deployed by a machine. Therefore, consciousness must serve some nonphysical function. (Unless you want to accept that everything has full-on human consciousness, including undiscovered abstract mathematics.)

I suspect that the human will be acting on nonphysical information, which is unavailable to the Zombie. However, since we cannot define consciousness well, I have focused on what it isn't, instead of what it is.

However, as I mentioned in my small proof of physicalism, if the nonphysical consciousness does not interact consistently with physics, it will destroy the universe. Thus, while it would appear that consciousness is not physical, it must have some mathematically consistent interface with physics.

Specifically, there should be a hole in physical causality, which appears in the brain, that is plugged by consciousness. That, however, is the other article.

(Technically speaking, Zombies are still impossible. There is a specific component that uploads and downloads physical information to conscious information. You can just test for it. But! Direct testing is impossible, just as it is impossible to directly test quarks. Quarks are simply the most likely explanation, just as, for my component, consciousness is the most likely explanation.)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Stef Post-Mortem

A followup.

This is actually a collection of brief, but related essays. I don't think I'll integrate them, because I'm lazy and it adds too little to clarity.
One of them is what Universally Preferable Behaviour, Stef's self-chosen magnum opus, is really about. (Hint: obfuscation.)

The first is that I've been banned from Stef's board. (Alan's third comment was the kicker.) Now, this was with no warning and with no chance of appeal. (Not that I'd appeal.) Because, you know, Stef isn't running a cult. (Note for people who read the post thoroughly; I really do want to know if any of that would be helpful to Kevin. I could accuse Stef of banning me for curiosity. If you have some thoughts, kindly share them.)

I found out when I went to share something with them, noting that when I shared something else, I got a very positive response.

It was not, however, unexpected. So, I sent an email.
Subject: "If I'm going to be banned..."
"I would like to know exactly why. I promise not to respond, since I know it's probably because you see me as being abusive. In fact I promise I won't contact you again, ever, so that I have no possibility of creating that sensation again."

He's very wise. He didn't respond. (He usually analyzes why he bans people, but I bet it's in the premium section, if he has the guts to do it at all in my case.) Why he didn't simply use this gambit in the first place I do not know. When I was first testing the waters I sent him five emails. He answered the first, with derision as I described before, and one other. I sent it as a deliberate test - it was a mere thank-you note. It's not like he's uncomfortable with not answering me.

The other thing I find so baffling is why his attention was, like his logic, inconsistent in the manner of a loose connection. (I respond to confusion with greed, by the way.) When he did answer me, it was immediate. (Do you know David Chalmers? He behaves exactly the same way toward me. I am detecting a pattern.) As you can see in the thread that got me banned, the first answer was a whopping 15 minutes after my initial post. I then posted honestly and waited over an hour, with nothing. Finally, I posted a mildly jerkish trap, being careful to include gaping holes in case he wanted to refute me instantaneously. All he had to do is answer my question with some throw-away line and he'd have plausible deniability and slather my face with egg. Instead? Banhammer.

Incidentally, my theory of why I got banned was that I outclassed Stef, and then responded with dismissal toward him. (Actually, honesty, but that's Stef for you.)

He tried to ignore the former by using the latter as an excuse for summary banishment.

Naturally, there's still that niggling doubt - planted by Stef himself, deliberately (feed 3, podcast 651) - that I'm actually in the wrong. But I'll never be able to directly test it, now, will I?

A lot of people talk a lot about Stef. Some of them are exactly what he says - obsessed because they want to believe but are abusive. I have to at least consider the possibility that that's the reason I also spend so much time on him. My alternative is that it is because he is actually effective at gaining converts, but wrong. In other words, dangerous and worthy of a full rebuttal. (It's not like I don't already do this regularly.) Same reason people are obsessed with Ayn Rand, a non-coincidence that is the subject of a different sub-section. My further alternative is that I'm using Stef's techniques against him, as has been my habit ever since I read the Theseus myth. (He killed the minotaur with its own horn.) I love Theseus. And hate cows. Theseus techniques are supreme for finding out if your favorite thinker is consistent.

(Come to think, I should do something extremely cynical, for the lulz and for the curiosity gods. Stef lives a little over an hour away from me. I could visit. His wife runs a therapy business out of his home, which I could use to infiltrate. Would he know it's me? I doubt it, as long as I stay away from my hobbyhorses. I almost want to try it just to see if I can wing an infiltration, and to have him threaten to call the cops, which I would find simply hilarious, and ask to have in writing.)

My computer ate a little bit about credibility. I liked it, too. But anyway, the point is that I can get attention if I want. I can play to the crowd, like I did with my determinism post, (1400 views!) and I have some posts on Reddit that I can pull up too. However, this isn't what I actually want. I just want to be honest.

Also, I prefer to actually have my arguments evaluated case-by-case, because I am wrong sometimes. On Stef's board, you can buy a spiffy graphic to go next to your posts. I could have bought the designation 'philosopher king' if I were so inclined. (Credibility, $100! $100 for some big-time credibility!) Wanna bet if I'd had one of those, I wouldn't now be banned?

But this is shite. Ad hominem is still a fallacy when it argued for the argument.

So I found something out, from the great Nathanial Branden himself. Stef is the unholy bastard of anarcho-capitalism and Ayn Rand.

Ayn Rand was clearly and nearly openly running a cult, as the Branden link thoroughly discusses. Despite the fact that Stef distances himself from Rand, his philosophy shares every hazard that Rand's did. Exactly. In fact, it's how I put a check on my moralizing now - I see if I'm doing something Stef would do, and if so, I stop. There exists a quote, "“evil,” another word she loved to use with extraordinary frequency." I'm sorry, it says 'she,' not 'he.' Bit of a typo there.

On the upside, he made me consider the issue very very seriously. What is evil, exactly? How does it work? Does calling it 'evil' help? With Mencius' guidance, I've been able to work out what actually needs to be done.

Similarly, "The follow-up response was itself condescending in a uniquely ancap way, which is why I was able to call him out as an ancap without him having to say anything." Yes, he's talking about me, and yes, he's dead on. I got this condescension from Stef. However, ayrnieu shares this attitude, ("You're just a bunch of thoughtless, immoral, uneconomic ninnies.") and has not, apparently, had any real contact with Stef. It's a property of ancapistan, not Stef, as I first thought it was.

In other words, Stef has exactly no original ideas whatsoever, despite 'working on this stuff for 20 years.' He's pretty good at...something...though. Again, he scores 40 on a scale where Mencius is 90 and the newspaper is 2. (I'm 26 years old. I'm a better philosopher than Stef, even if for no other reason than that I stole all his good parts; I score at least 41. Poor bastard.) Incidentally, yes I did bring up Mencius to Stef, to see if he'd be interested. Wasn't.

More incidentally, I would like to gather Stef, Mencius, Steve Pavlina, and Ze Frank in a room and watch them duke it out. That would be awesome. I think Mencius would win, but Pavlina and Frank would form an alliance and get much more out of the experience. I think I want to throw my brother in there for good measure.

(Has a link to first principles and a priori. Want to mention how Stef also hates people who stand by their beliefs if they don't match his about 60:00

I eventually decided to just post a quick note saying that I wasn't impressed and therefore not coming back. Considering I now feel the world is suddenly real it's richer and more interesting and there are more ways to do it right and less ways to fuck it up...

More eventually, I posted the post that got me banned. Now, my plan has for quite a while been to get banned by being honest. You can see that here and here, I was fishing for a rebuke. "Now, class, what conclusions can we safely draw from the kind of honesty that got banned, and the kind that didn't?" In short; Stef believes in defending his turf, not in being honest.

However, there's more. I have not shared my Stef polemic with Stef, as I clearly intended to when I was writing it. When I got banned, I found I was relieved. As a result of holding this back, I have a much stronger case. I got banned for pointing out that he wasn't communicating. I didn't get banned for something that is, in any way, an opinion. It is a bedrock, immutable fact.

His only wiggle room to himself is to say, "Well, it was forming a pattern of opposition." A last straw sort of scenario. I can show how useless this excuse is by showing how...'patient'...he is with people who are clearly his intellectual inferior. He doesn't answer if and only if he cannot.

Now, I posted my leaving statement in a place it's unlikely to be read, as if it were, my original probing question™ would have generated some kind of response. Both these tactics - the brevity/lack of content and inconspicuousness - uphold my new ideal to stay the fuck away from Molyneux's little corner of hell and to make sure they stay the fuck away from me.

That didn't quite work out. As I mention in my last thread, I have a compulsion to let people prove me wrong. I post insults and psychoanalysis because I want people to rebut me. They...don't. I mean yes, I think you and everyone else should stay the fuck away from Molyneux. But, I have to prove it.

As it turns out, he did read my question. He just didn't deign to answer. And then banned me for complaining that he wasn't communicating. I think that's proof.

Part of the problem is that I know Molyneux would not accept any of this. Now, I have the goal of changing minds. The holy grail is to open a closed mind, a mind that acts like Molyneux's. Are these related? I hope so, but I don't know so. Could be a coincidence; this is part of the reason Molyneux is probably dangerous. He infects you with doubt, on purpose. Specifically, he uses the Freudian/Randian tactic of claiming that people who disagree with him disagree because they're "evil."

Still, now I have an additionally motivator to become famous on the net. I want these diatribes to come to Molyneux's attention, so as to watch him squirm. Because I'm not a hypocrite, I welcome any and all diatribes from the opposing side.

Regarding Molyneux's effective techniques. His arguments sing very sweetly to my desire to prove myself superior. In fact, if you have the urge to be superior, I've found just the place for you. Freedomain Radio is elegantly designed to appeal to the arrogant. (Quotes are not direct, but close enough.) You get to feel smarter, ("Libertarian brain cells divided once more than regular people's) emotionally healthier, ("People don't agree with my arguments because of their false selves.") and more moral, ("put down the gun, statists, and then we'll talk") than everyone else, just for not giving up in disgust. If you actually accept Molyneux's messiahism, then well, aren't you in for a treat. You're helping people! (By hammering them with arguments they cannot accept.) Aww, aren't you special! As a bonus, the actual sacrifices you have to make (intellectual integrity and family members you hated anyway) are quite low. The only reason the club is exclusive is that so many people intuit out the scam right away. Plus maybe the 'required' therapy. Because you know that people who go into psychology, (and apparently "ripping the scars off is incredibly painful," so, cause significant additional trauma) are just beacons of human awesome.

On the other hand, Molyneux still scores 40. Government is indisputably corrupt. Religion appears to be an organized mind-control organization. The family shares many traits with both of these.

So we've found that three of the largest, most widespread human institutions share properties. If you're Molyneux, you do a podcast disparaging the very concept of 'human nature' and blame everything on your parents. Admittedly, with his parents, and indeed many parents described on his board, I can see why. I thought teachers were the epitome of human depravity, but his parents were definitely worse.

Regardless, there's clearly a connection here, between these three organizations. It's probably interesting, too, not just "Oh, that's just what people are like." Nevertheless, we don't know what it is - the field is ripe for further investigation. Unless you're Molyneux or his coterie.

It was indisputably foolish for me to ever go onto the boards at all, from a practical standpoint. I knew this, but did it anyway, because sometimes I am wrong. I did learn things. My sub-goals were all achieved. Nevertheless, as we can see from these posts, ultimately my ideas about Molyneux were only intensified by experiencing their effects directly, to my detriment.

He doesn't write the following theory down or otherwise spell it out, and seeing how hard it is, I can kind of see why. One of his other broken theories is the idea that evil people are consistent. That if someone abuses you, they are making statements they find to be logically consistent. Now, one of the good things about this theory is that it shows you how all abusive statements are indeed not logically consistent. However, if actions come from beliefs, and beliefs are constant, you would see constant behavior.

My parents were pretty evil, or corrupt if you prefer. However, they were far from evil all the time. While I was almost never happy as a child, I was safe, during the first half of my time with them. I did not get arbitrary punishments. My parents kept abuses of power to a minimum. I was never punished or put down just for being myself.

This all changed in the latter half of my time with them, of course, because they were evil. I was constantly put down for being myself, and abuses of power became rampant. But they weren't even consistent about being evil.

My abstract description of the theory doesn't give anything like a sense of what it means, so here's an example. My mother was very fond of claiming that she loved me. However, like my father, ("He's a very nice man in a lot of ways, but..." Never did find out even one of those 'lots' of ways.) I would be hard pressed to name even a single thing she liked about me. In fact, I went through this exercise when I was 15 or 16. I discovered, that if my mother wasn't my mother and/or didn't constantly claim to love me, there would be no evidence at all that she felt anything but the deepest hatred for me. She was certainly fond of enumerating my faults and claiming absolute superiority, though honestly I can't remember any of them because they were so rarely actual faults. ("If you ever treat your girlfriend like this..." Uhhh, mom? You're not my girlfriend. Gross. Second, if I have to treat my girlfriend like that, I'd rather be single, bitch. My sister is her mother's daughter - she said the exact same thing to me, which is one reason I don't talk to her anymore.) This is the kind of thing Molyneux successfully points out - if her actions are those of someone who hated me, it's because she hated me, and I should react accordingly. The actual arguments can get much more detailed, finding out whole reams of a person's inner world. Nevertheless, it seems unlikely that my mother actually thought she hated me, which means hatred wasn't the reason she said the things she said. What were the actual reasons? I don't know, and neither does Molyneux. Still, it does seem likely that whatever those convoluted reasons are, they can be summarized by, "She might as well have hated you."

The rest of this theory describes how children absorb the logical statements of their abusive parents, and inflict the logical statements on their own children in turn. Unfortunately, since evil people aren't consistent, this part falls down, no matter how attractive and plausible it is.

I think this theory might be rescuable, as it does successfully match quite a few real-world facts, but that would require criticizing Molyneux, something he does not stand for.

You'll notice that I was clearly writing the post thinking I was going to post it on Molyneux's board. Then I realized that since it's a total echo-chamber, and I'll accomplish nothing, except make them uncomfortable. They'll attempt to pass this discomfort onto me, bad things will happen, and nothing will be resolved. Still, it's not inconceivable that one of them will find this blog, so I'm not going to go back and edit it. Also, it is good to see how I think, so you know where my other ideas are coming from.

Now I've vented my spleen, I just feel pity for Molyneux. I see now the small, scared boy that just desperately wants some positive attention, and doesn't know how else to get it.

Still, won't stop me from slaughtering UPB's premises.

UPB is a system for evaluating moral claims. It's a stick you pick up, and when a moral claim comes by, you anoint it with the stick. If it's a good moral claim, the stick lights up and showers the claim in sparkly things. If not, the claim explodes, leaving a black stain on the ground.

But, logically speaking, is it really so impressive?

Morals are defined as universal statements of normative behavior. UPB is simply the recognition of the fact that if a statement can't be universally applied, then it cannot be moral.

Seems a lot faster than his entire book (pdf, FDR #2) on the subject. Perhaps I'm missing something, but then I'd have to ask more questions, and we already saw how that would turn out. (I haven't read the book either. Since I listened to the podcasts, there's not much point.)

Ultimately, the argument from morality is nothing more than the argument from first principles as applied to moral arguments. Ultimately, the only justification for the argument from morality is the argument from effect.

("If you use the argument from effect, the thief will just say that their personal effects are good." Guess what, that's an argument from effect to use the argument from morality.)

The actual reason for UPB is that it sounds impressive. It fulfills the function of impressing the suitably credulous, and of course of being basically right, so that these people become vulnerable to Stef's other techniques.

No, the only genius of UPB is not about reason, but about emotion.

It's the fact that humans are rule-creating machines, that extract principles from their environment. However, we call some of these principles 'moral rules' and get very upset about them. This seems to be an inbuilt system, part of human nature.

I think this system depends on the underlying love-seeking system. Without this desire to be accepted and enjoyed, morals would hold no particular power for us. Instead of getting outraged if someone steals from us, we would simply defend ourselves.

We say to children, "Hitting is wrong. Only bad people hit. If you're bad, no one will love you." If instead we said, "Hitting is wrong. If you hit someone, they can defend themselves," it wouldn't be nearly such a huge issue.

But, of course, we don't. I don't think we can say that. My point is simply that it's good to know why we care about morals, so we can use them for their actual purpose; so we can avoid abusing them. We're upset about hurting other people. We're upset about the fear of being rejected by your community. We're upset about having no one to love.

I don't think people actually care about morals per se. They seem transcendent, yes, they seem to exist for everyone even if no one is following them, yes. That's the power of the argument from first principles. It cannot be wrong by definition.


I also found a quote or two in podcast 537. It's called 'board etiquette.'

"Aren't you going to give me more?" "No, you're being too aggressive." Notice that I ask that, but I get an entirely different response. (In this case, yes they were being aggressive...but over the exact problems I have with Molyneux.)

Molyneux is not a good speaker so I don't transcribe these accurately. (If I do, he calls me 'catty.' Because he's a good human being.)

"So I banned him. And he came back. This is what's so tortuous to these kinds of people. He didn't want people to think I'd gotten the last word etc..." Except you'll note that aside from my email...which I hope is perfectly reasonable...I'm not coming back. Molyneux would respond that this post is my 'last word.' Yeah, well, Molyneux is free to comment on my blog, even though I can't comment on his board. (Not that I'm going to let he know it exists on purpose.) So is his coterie. Does that answer this objection completely? (If he's a jerk I'm just gonna delete it, so whatever.)

"This is the modus operandi of these sorts of personalities. They're going to come in, create hostility and conflict, and of all the evils of the world, I am the one that people choose to attack. And no substantiation."

"If you can base my pathologies in some sort of theory, that would be great!"

"I have no problem being corrected. I have no problem with people being angry with me."

"I don't consider it an absolute requirement, but respect is preferred..."

"So I'm inviting people who have those kinds of tendencies...if you have a disagreement, and you think they have something to offer...if you're debating with someone, you have to believe they have something to offer." (His point is to try to be polite when asking for clarification instead of being a jerk.)

"Apologies are a wonderful social lubricant. Apologies are a great way of admitting fault. The important and mature thing to do is to apologize."

"Most people who have these tendencies will have...long ago...have this argument rolling around in their head." He goes long, so I'll condense; argument goes, "Stef, you're a hypocrite. You've attacked all sorts of people."

"That's to conflate three things...violence has two flavours, attack and defense...they ignore your arguments...if this is going on, if the attacks continue, there's a principle of self-defense." Okay he goes too long even for me. Starts at about 14:40.

(Contrast my behavior in my comment section.)

The rules, so you can check to see if I've broken them egregiously;
"Don't initiate abusive language. If you're angry, don't post."
"If you do engage, and it escalates, you have to redraw."
"If you don't understand, ask for clarification."
"If they're making unwarranted statements, if you want to help them, give resources, don't try to teach the university course in one paragraph."

"If...X or X or X, you've labelled me don't get to call me evil using my property."

"Calling someone evil is not a rhetorical device."

"Calling me messianistic...I'll correct you once..."

"If you're on the board calling people messianistic, it doesn't put your mental health in a good light."

I mean, do I really need to be here? The guy digs his own hole. The mind-fuck is good, though. One of the best. The mixture between veracity and mendacity is sublime. I do admire craftsmanship, even if I think the craftsman should probably be silenced.

The sad, sad thing is that aside from these quotes, this podcast is actually really good. It really doesn't have to be this way. Attacking someone for being unclear really isn't good. Calling people insane is kind of counter-productive.

Note that his posters follow none of these rules. I would be fairly happy if they did.

"If you feel the need to be abusive, there's no point in talking to them anymore." This is a special case. I get all sorts of benefits just from having my words in print, even though they won't listen to me. It would have been great if I'd spotted the error immediately, which is why I don't listen to Stef's podcasts anymore.

Actually, that's the reason I'm so obsessed with Stef. I want to listen to him, because he has good ideas...sometimes. But I can't. It's too dangerous to relax, and the stress of constant vigilance is simply not worth it.

I really, really wish that he wasn't lying when he said he wanted to be corrected.

But I've been banned. And honestly? I have no idea why. I intuitively knew it was inevitable, but I honestly, honestly don't really know why.

I just think it's a good thing.