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Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?

Started by Thurnez Isa, December 03, 2006, 04:11:35 PM

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altered

I might break my rule on Mythos related stuff (namely, chucking it out the airlock) for this one. Thanks!
"I am that worst of all type of criminal...I cannot bring myself to do what you tell me, because you told me."

There's over 100 of us in this meat-suit. You'd think it runs like a ship, but it's more like a hundred and ten angry ghosts having an old-school QuakeWorld tournament, three people desperately trying to make sure the gamers don't go hungry or soil themselves, and the Facilities manager weeping in the corner as the garbage piles high.

tyrannosaurus vex

Donald Hoffman, "The Case Against Reality"

Apparently, human (or any other kind of) perception isn't just a filtered down and encoded representation of Objective Reality, but in fact evolutionary pressures conspire to endow us with perceptive faculties that entirely occlude Objective Reality and present us instead with an interactive interface that doesn't resemble it at all.

He promises lots of maths and game theory and citations from leading physicists and mathematicians on top of his own work (he has a PhD in cognitive science or something) as the foundation of this theory.

So far my position is "okay but how is this not just mucking about with the words we use to describe things". I assume at some point he will propose some specific practical technologies or something that would be impossible to achieve without this theory or something like it, because it would be rude to waste a reader's time without that.
Evil and Unfeeling Arse-Flenser From The City of the Damned.

altered

Quote from: tyrannosaurus vex on February 01, 2020, 01:38:01 PM
Donald Hoffman, "The Case Against Reality"

Apparently, human (or any other kind of) perception isn't just a filtered down and encoded representation of Objective Reality, but in fact evolutionary pressures conspire to endow us with perceptive faculties that entirely occlude Objective Reality and present us instead with an interactive interface that doesn't resemble it at all.

He promises lots of maths and game theory and citations from leading physicists and mathematicians on top of his own work (he has a PhD in cognitive science or something) as the foundation of this theory.

So far my position is "okay but how is this not just mucking about with the words we use to describe things". I assume at some point he will propose some specific practical technologies or something that would be impossible to achieve without this theory or something like it, because it would be rude to waste a reader's time without that.

This sounds like high-on-his-own-ass wankery, yeah.
"I am that worst of all type of criminal...I cannot bring myself to do what you tell me, because you told me."

There's over 100 of us in this meat-suit. You'd think it runs like a ship, but it's more like a hundred and ten angry ghosts having an old-school QuakeWorld tournament, three people desperately trying to make sure the gamers don't go hungry or soil themselves, and the Facilities manager weeping in the corner as the garbage piles high.

Cain

QuoteI assume at some point he will propose some specific practical technologies or something that would be impossible to achieve without this theory or something like it, because it would be rude to waste a reader's time without that.

Do you think people would do that? Just write a popular science book and lie?

altered

The problem I have is that this is all very self-defeating. Photographs, screens, and projectors all show that EXTREMELY basic optics can reproduce a close-enough-to-not-matter example of what we see with our eyes, while utterly destroying any subtle data that could be hidden in the mix and which evolutionary pressure would have existed for.

(Flat screens are literally still on release day in evolutionary time, and photography hasn't been out one week. Evolutionary pressure from these is nonexistent.)

This means that either The Eyeball Contains Magic, given that it can perform object distinction within a flat image with unpolarized light, or what we see is almost indistinguishable from basic reality, for most purposes.

I want to hear if I'm wrong, of course. But this man sounds as if he's full of shit. The two not bullshit options are he's talking about how our brains tie visuals to concepts as a sort of shorthand (e.g. shiny stuff is wet or metallic), or he's overly focused on perceptual failure modes (optical illusions).

The first is not related to how close we are to base level reality at all.

The second is not an adequate reason to say we never see something close to reality, on account of that issue being brainmeat post processing to detect motion and such, rather than an issue of perception.

(Provided you are relatively sane, you can usually actually tell the difference between the two, also. Most optical illusions look distinctly unnatural, like your brain is actively announcing that it has failed to process input correctly. There's a term for it but I can't recall it off hand.)
"I am that worst of all type of criminal...I cannot bring myself to do what you tell me, because you told me."

There's over 100 of us in this meat-suit. You'd think it runs like a ship, but it's more like a hundred and ten angry ghosts having an old-school QuakeWorld tournament, three people desperately trying to make sure the gamers don't go hungry or soil themselves, and the Facilities manager weeping in the corner as the garbage piles high.

tyrannosaurus vex

Quote from: altered on February 02, 2020, 10:00:18 PM
The problem I have is that this is all very self-defeating. Photographs, screens, and projectors all show that EXTREMELY basic optics can reproduce a close-enough-to-not-matter example of what we see with our eyes, while utterly destroying any subtle data that could be hidden in the mix and which evolutionary pressure would have existed for.

(Flat screens are literally still on release day in evolutionary time, and photography hasn't been out one week. Evolutionary pressure from these is nonexistent.)

This means that either The Eyeball Contains Magic, given that it can perform object distinction within a flat image with unpolarized light, or what we see is almost indistinguishable from basic reality, for most purposes.

I want to hear if I'm wrong, of course. But this man sounds as if he's full of shit. The two not bullshit options are he's talking about how our brains tie visuals to concepts as a sort of shorthand (e.g. shiny stuff is wet or metallic), or he's overly focused on perceptual failure modes (optical illusions).

The first is not related to how close we are to base level reality at all.

The second is not an adequate reason to say we never see something close to reality, on account of that issue being brainmeat post processing to detect motion and such, rather than an issue of perception.

(Provided you are relatively sane, you can usually actually tell the difference between the two, also. Most optical illusions look distinctly unnatural, like your brain is actively announcing that it has failed to process input correctly. There's a term for it but I can't recall it off hand.)

That's also my position and experience. I picked this book from a long list of more or less similar titles specifically because this author is, according to all available information, specifically not one of those "DMT introduced you to God" types. I've already lost some interest in the book though because it just seems like his premise is either too fantastic to be worth serious consideration, or just splitting semantic hairs.

That said, the reason I picked it up was because of the way he introduced his work. It pertains to AI and the failure (so far) of science not only to reproduce a conscious experience but to even approach a functional theory of how to understand it. His argument is that although we have a mountain of correlations between reported experiences and brain activity, there's nothing in any of that data that allows us to map conscious experience with the resolution required to, for example, distinguish between the taste of vanilla and the smell of garlic. Which is probably true, but I'm not educated there so I can't speak to whether or not it's a matter of a fundamental misunderstanding of consciousness or just a lack of tools and experience to map it that accurately.

Anyway, where he gets into the whole "perception doesn't remotely resemble objective reality" is in his lab experiments and evolution game theory computer simulations which (he claims) show that organisms that perceive "reality" accurately never have an evolutionary advantage over animals of comparable complexity whose perceptions mask that reality. I haven't actually gotten to the content part of this argument because his writing is dry as fuck, he keeps repeating the same slightly dumb metaphors, and I'm also finishing another Graham Hancock book which while also ridiculous and impossible, is at least well-written.
Evil and Unfeeling Arse-Flenser From The City of the Damned.

tyrannosaurus vex

Quote from: Cain on February 02, 2020, 02:46:30 PM
QuoteI assume at some point he will propose some specific practical technologies or something that would be impossible to achieve without this theory or something like it, because it would be rude to waste a reader's time without that.

Do you think people would do that? Just write a popular science book and lie?

But this guy talks like a boring Bill Nye, so I have no choice but to assume he would never do this to me.
Evil and Unfeeling Arse-Flenser From The City of the Damned.

Cramulus

#3022
When he talks about the gap between perception and reality, is he talking about the map/territory problem?

Like how colors do not exist in "reality", but are produced by our perceptive organs' interpretation of light-wavelengths?

and how our conception that light is visible, sound is audible, radio waves are invisible -- that's all based on human hardware and not "real"?

that the whole human concept of "things" -- distinct, quantifiable objects -- falls apart at certain levels of magnification?




if so, it sounds like a hand on the elephant of Chaos--of one of the great Discordian Mysteries

Quote from: The Chao Te Ching25
There is Something that exists,
beyond the Illusions of Order and Disorder.
It is all things, and unknowable in full.
We only see small parts of It,
but are convinced what we see is the entire Universe.

For lack of a better name, I call It "Chaos".
At dinner parties, I claim It is everything Possible and
Impossible.
When asked why not call It "god",
I point out that their head is too fucking small.

Because we create the Illusions in which we live,
we are more creative than Chaos.
Because we believe in the Illusions we create,
our heads are too fucking small.

In this way, we reflect our creations.



SEE ALSO: The Robert Anton Wilson meditation on the question "Who is the Master that makes the Grass Green?"

tyrannosaurus vex

Quote from: Cramulus on February 03, 2020, 12:55:26 PM
When he talks about the gap between perception and reality, is he talking about the map/territory problem?

Like how colors do not exist in "reality", but are produced by our perceptive organs' interpretation of light-wavelengths?

and how our conception that light is visible, sound is audible, radio waves are invisible -- that's all based on human hardware and not "real"?

that the whole human concept of "things" -- distinct, quantifiable objects -- falls apart at certain levels of magnification?




if so, it sounds like a hand on the elephant of Chaos--of one of the great Discordian Mysteries

Quote from: The Chao Te Ching25
There is Something that exists,
beyond the Illusions of Order and Disorder.
It is all things, and unknowable in full.
We only see small parts of It,
but are convinced what we see is the entire Universe.

For lack of a better name, I call It "Chaos".
At dinner parties, I claim It is everything Possible and
Impossible.
When asked why not call It "god",
I point out that their head is too fucking small.

Because we create the Illusions in which we live,
we are more creative than Chaos.
Because we believe in the Illusions we create,
our heads are too fucking small.

In this way, we reflect our creations.



SEE ALSO: The Robert Anton Wilson meditation on the question "Who is the Master that makes the Grass Green?"

I haven't made it far enough to say what his position is precisely except that he insists he isn't just talking about the ways we encode sensory input, but some fundamental disconnect between what we perceive and reality-as-it-is. His favorite metaphor that he keeps going back to over and over again is that the difference between the way we perceive and real reality is like the difference between playing a VR game and the circuits and data structures inside your computer.
Evil and Unfeeling Arse-Flenser From The City of the Damned.

Doktor Howl

Quote from: tyrannosaurus vex on February 01, 2020, 01:38:01 PM
Donald Hoffman, "The Case Against Reality"

Apparently, human (or any other kind of) perception isn't just a filtered down and encoded representation of Objective Reality, but in fact evolutionary pressures conspire to endow us with perceptive faculties that entirely occlude Objective Reality and present us instead with an interactive interface that doesn't resemble it at all.

He promises lots of maths and game theory and citations from leading physicists and mathematicians on top of his own work (he has a PhD in cognitive science or something) as the foundation of this theory.

So far my position is "okay but how is this not just mucking about with the words we use to describe things". I assume at some point he will propose some specific practical technologies or something that would be impossible to achieve without this theory or something like it, because it would be rude to waste a reader's time without that.

I would.  I totally would.  I have in fact done so with the carrot/hypermass theory of the Earth's shape.
Molon Lube

chaotic neutral observer

Quote from: tyrannosaurus vex on February 03, 2020, 01:55:37 PM
I haven't made it far enough to say what his position is precisely except that he insists he isn't just talking about the ways we encode sensory input, but some fundamental disconnect between what we perceive and reality-as-it-is. His favorite metaphor that he keeps going back to over and over again is that the difference between the way we perceive and real reality is like the difference between playing a VR game and the circuits and data structures inside your computer.
I'm generally dismissive of analogies that try to explain reality as a type of video game.  Of course there's a resemblance; video games are designed to mimic reality.
If the VR is a sufficiently accurate representation of reality, it doesn't matter what the computer program is doing, or how it's implemented.
A better analogy is a closed circuit video feed.  You can't see everything, and maybe the picture is fuzzy or the colours are distorted, but you can't point at the cable and claim that you're actually disconnected because "the cable is not the picture".
Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando.

tyrannosaurus vex

Quote from: chaotic neutral observer on February 03, 2020, 02:39:00 PM
Quote from: tyrannosaurus vex on February 03, 2020, 01:55:37 PM
I haven't made it far enough to say what his position is precisely except that he insists he isn't just talking about the ways we encode sensory input, but some fundamental disconnect between what we perceive and reality-as-it-is. His favorite metaphor that he keeps going back to over and over again is that the difference between the way we perceive and real reality is like the difference between playing a VR game and the circuits and data structures inside your computer.
I'm generally dismissive of analogies that try to explain reality as a type of video game.  Of course there's a resemblance; video games are designed to mimic reality.
If the VR is a sufficiently accurate representation of reality, it doesn't matter what the computer program is doing, or how it's implemented.
A better analogy is a closed circuit video feed.  You can't see everything, and maybe the picture is fuzzy or the colours are distorted, but you can't point at the cable and claim that you're actually disconnected because "the cable is not the picture".

I watched an interview he did with Skeptic's Michael Shermer, and that's the same counter that Shermer used, more or less. It's fine to say that, for example, whatever pops up in your brain as "an apple" isn't really what the apple "is", but it's a useless declaration because every method we have for determining the apple's properties and existence just confirms that image of it anyway.

I'll get back to the book and maybe I'll have a better idea of why Hoffman's insistence that consciousness is fundamental is supposed to be useful.
Evil and Unfeeling Arse-Flenser From The City of the Damned.

Doktor Howl

Quote from: tyrannosaurus vex on February 03, 2020, 02:53:03 PM
Quote from: chaotic neutral observer on February 03, 2020, 02:39:00 PM
Quote from: tyrannosaurus vex on February 03, 2020, 01:55:37 PM
I haven't made it far enough to say what his position is precisely except that he insists he isn't just talking about the ways we encode sensory input, but some fundamental disconnect between what we perceive and reality-as-it-is. His favorite metaphor that he keeps going back to over and over again is that the difference between the way we perceive and real reality is like the difference between playing a VR game and the circuits and data structures inside your computer.
I'm generally dismissive of analogies that try to explain reality as a type of video game.  Of course there's a resemblance; video games are designed to mimic reality.
If the VR is a sufficiently accurate representation of reality, it doesn't matter what the computer program is doing, or how it's implemented.
A better analogy is a closed circuit video feed.  You can't see everything, and maybe the picture is fuzzy or the colours are distorted, but you can't point at the cable and claim that you're actually disconnected because "the cable is not the picture".

I watched an interview he did with Skeptic's Michael Shermer, and that's the same counter that Shermer used, more or less. It's fine to say that, for example, whatever pops up in your brain as "an apple" isn't really what the apple "is", but it's a useless declaration because every method we have for determining the apple's properties and existence just confirms that image of it anyway.

I'll get back to the book and maybe I'll have a better idea of why Hoffman's insistence that consciousness is fundamental is supposed to be useful.

This is the classic example of the bar stool analogy.  The bar stool may or may not be as represented, but the pain certainly will be.
Molon Lube

Cramulus

yeah, but I also find it a little reductionist to insist that the perceptible qualities of reality are the only ones that matter

if we're talking about the useful properties of the apple, yeah, we can deal in human perception - but we can never call that "objective", either


as for how it's "useful" --


  • at some point in science history, invisible things like radio waves and radiation and disease were first described by people who understood that objective reality is not entirely presented by the senses
  • Just the knowledge that our personal reality is generated by querying objective reality using our local and often dodgy perceptual tools -- this can help build an attitude of skepticism and distance (from your own percpetions) which helps deter you from swallowing the menu
  • it's a really handy thing to wrap your head around if you enjoy contemplating bigass cosmic nosebleed questions like "how does dead stupid matter give rise to a phenomenon like awareness, selfhood?", and "what is the cosmos and what role does organic life on earth play in it?"


and not to get too esoteric, but to me,
the most useful thing isn't "what we can do" with this information, but that the experience of pondering it actually opens us, in certain ways.

It's the Hunchback ("?") and the Soldier ("!") --- the most alive and awake part of us is the questioning part, the curious part --- not the simple answer that bludgeons the question and halts its curiosity.


Doktor Howl

Quote from: Cramulus on February 03, 2020, 03:40:20 PM
yeah, but I also find it a little reductionist to insist that the perceptible qualities of reality are the only ones that matter

if we're talking about the useful properties of the apple, yeah, we can deal in human perception - but we can never call that "objective", either


as for how it's "useful" --


  • at some point in science history, invisible things like radio waves and radiation and disease were first described by people who understood that objective reality is not entirely presented by the senses
  • Just the knowledge that our personal reality is generated by querying objective reality using our local and often dodgy perceptual tools -- this can help build an attitude of skepticism and distance (from your own percpetions) which helps deter you from swallowing the menu
  • it's a really handy thing to wrap your head around if you enjoy contemplating bigass cosmic nosebleed questions like "how does dead stupid matter give rise to a phenomenon like awareness, selfhood?", and "what is the cosmos and what role does organic life on earth play in it?"


and not to get too esoteric, but to me,
the most useful thing isn't "what we can do" with this information, but that the experience of pondering it actually opens us, in certain ways.

It's the Hunchback ("?") and the Soldier ("!") --- the most alive and awake part of us is the questioning part, the curious part --- not the simple answer that bludgeons the question and halts its curiosity.

Thing is, radio waves are in fact detectable, and looking at the underlying mechanics was a result of having phenomena that we didn't understand (eliminating the placeholder "aether" when it was realized that radio travels in a vacuum), rather than us going out to find something we couldn't detect.

So the analogy is somewhat connected, but is backwards.

Also, disease is apparent.  Germ theory is, too, once we learned to stop listening to woo meisters who insisted that disease was carried by "miasmas" that had no basis in, and in fact directly contradicted, the available data.

Molon Lube