Author Topic: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?  (Read 622841 times)

Doktor Howl

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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #3030 on: February 03, 2020, 04:00:32 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.

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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #3031 on: February 03, 2020, 05:07:23 pm »
"Perceptible" includes "perceptible only with the aid of instrumentation."

Taking off my glasses does not make reality go away.

Things which are imperceptible either directly or indirectly do not matter, for practical purposes.  (This does not include things which are not perceptible just yet, because they indeed might matter.  There are doubtless many hidden interesting things in the world just waiting for someone to develop the right test equipment.)

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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #3032 on: February 03, 2020, 05:09:16 pm »
"Perceptible" includes "perceptible only with the aid of instrumentation."

Taking off my glasses does not make reality go away.

Things which are imperceptible either directly or indirectly do not matter, for practical purposes.  (This does not include things which are not perceptible just yet, because they indeed might matter.  There are doubtless many hidden interesting things in the world just waiting for someone to develop the right test equipment.)

Yep.  For a tool-using species, instruments are as valid as your own eyeballs.
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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #3033 on: February 03, 2020, 06:51:29 pm »
I'm trying to see how this isn't another swing at something Korzybski did back in 1933.

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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #3034 on: February 03, 2020, 07:02:35 pm »
I'm trying to see how this isn't another swing at something Korzybski did back in 1933.

You're correct.  It isn't.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Korzybski

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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #3035 on: February 03, 2020, 07:03:08 pm »
I mean, assuming my senses are accurately interpreting the written word.  :lol:
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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #3036 on: February 03, 2020, 08:39:37 pm »
a few chapters later: Hoffman has invoked evolution simulations where the data (apparently) indicates that sensory systems evolve to help organisms detect the "fitness payoffs" (in terms of survival and procreation) present in the environment, not the environment per se. Moreover, organisms which perceive the environment accurately and directly (can directly detect the presence of necessary resources) have a distinct evolutionary disadvantage with comparable organisms that perceive it only indirectly (can only detect variances in availability of those resources). I think the gist here is that the additional computation required to calculate the fitness payoffs from direct information about the environment is a waste of resources, so evolution has taken the load off by building such calculation directly into the mechanisms we use for perception. Or something.

Then he goes on to enumerate numerous experiments in physics which disprove local realism, but rather than invoking quantum woo he presents various additional experiments, calculations, and theories that reinforce these findings at macro (as opposed to only quantum) scales. It is, tbh, hard to follow on account of I'm not a theoretical physicist. Eventually he concludes that one can banish the apparent contradictions between quantum mechanics and general relativity by not assuming spacetime to be fundamental at all, but rather by treating spacetime and everything it contains as arising from (or simultaneously with) our observation of it. Cue appeals to more experiments that show observation and measurement of a system determine not only its present state but also its history. This leads to a sort of "it's like solipsism but not really because I promise it isn't" conclusion.

Anyway, I think where he's going with this in a practical sense is a theory of conscious experience where the reason the solution to the Hard Problem is so elusive is because we assume consciousness is either identical to or an emergent property of physical processes in neurons, when in reality consciousness is fundamental. So the question of whether or not we can create conscious systems is sort of moot, because literally everything is consciousness anyway (like panpsychism), so what we should be doing is trying to make artificial systems that can relate to us in terms of how they perceive, not in terms of how they think. [this paragraph is 100% conjecture tho, I haven't actually read anything like this here, I'm just extrapolating - probably badly]
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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #3037 on: February 03, 2020, 08:41:47 pm »
[...]
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.
[...]


This Disclosive model of truth-seeking kinda jives with me more than correspondence theories, generally. Granted, that might be because the language also evokes coitus but who’s to say there’s anything wrong with that. Objectively, the surface upon which I press for any purchase is almost entirely empty space, so... much barstool, very hard problem.

[yes, I am an episode of existential constipation: remember Korzybski]

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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #3038 on: February 03, 2020, 09:09:39 pm »
a few chapters later: Hoffman has invoked evolution simulations where the data (apparently) indicates that sensory systems evolve to help organisms detect the "fitness payoffs" (in terms of survival and procreation) present in the environment, not the environment per se. Moreover, organisms which perceive the environment accurately and directly (can directly detect the presence of necessary resources) have a distinct evolutionary disadvantage with comparable organisms that perceive it only indirectly (can only detect variances in availability of those resources). I think the gist here is that the additional computation required to calculate the fitness payoffs from direct information about the environment is a waste of resources, so evolution has taken the load off by building such calculation directly into the mechanisms we use for perception. Or something.

Then he goes on to enumerate numerous experiments in physics which disprove local realism, but rather than invoking quantum woo he presents various additional experiments, calculations, and theories that reinforce these findings at macro (as opposed to only quantum) scales. It is, tbh, hard to follow on account of I'm not a theoretical physicist. Eventually he concludes that one can banish the apparent contradictions between quantum mechanics and general relativity by not assuming spacetime to be fundamental at all, but rather by treating spacetime and everything it contains as arising from (or simultaneously with) our observation of it. Cue appeals to more experiments that show observation and measurement of a system determine not only its present state but also its history. This leads to a sort of "it's like solipsism but not really because I promise it isn't" conclusion.

Anyway, I think where he's going with this in a practical sense is a theory of conscious experience where the reason the solution to the Hard Problem is so elusive is because we assume consciousness is either identical to or an emergent property of physical processes in neurons, when in reality consciousness is fundamental. So the question of whether or not we can create conscious systems is sort of moot, because literally everything is consciousness anyway (like panpsychism), so what we should be doing is trying to make artificial systems that can relate to us in terms of how they perceive, not in terms of how they think. [this paragraph is 100% conjecture tho, I haven't actually read anything like this here, I'm just extrapolating - probably badly]

Regarding those experiments... they’re exactly what I thought they’d be.

Thing is, evolution isn’t a fitness maximizer. It’s a fitness minimum avoider. Yes, having your environment lie to you is most fit, probably. No, having that is not necessary to survive. Anywhere.

Furthermore, evolution tends to require that all prior steps in its development aren’t actively detrimental to the fitness of the organism. Hallucinating non physical objects WITHOUT any strong correlation to reality is actively detrimental. It’s also far easier than evolving a new Augmented Reality apparatus of the fucking brain.

The simulated organisms would have died out from psychosis before they developed his fitness maximized solution.

If the data contradicts me, I’m cool with that, but I was actually guessing it was “augmented reality is the Most Fit sensory modality!!!! Here’s a directed “find best fit” system that evolves it!!!!!!” while totally ignoring that there is no guiding hand but death and destruction here in the real world... So, yknow.
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Doktor Howl

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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #3039 on: February 03, 2020, 09:22:37 pm »

Thing is, evolution isn’t a fitness maximizer. It’s a fitness minimum avoider. Yes, having your environment lie to you is most fit, probably. No, having that is not necessary to survive. Anywhere.

Furthermore, evolution tends to require that all prior steps in its development aren’t actively detrimental to the fitness of the organism. Hallucinating non physical objects WITHOUT any strong correlation to reality is actively detrimental. It’s also far easier than evolving a new Augmented Reality apparatus of the fucking brain.

The simulated organisms would have died out from psychosis before they developed his fitness maximized solution.


Boom.  Boom, I say.
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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #3040 on: February 03, 2020, 10:48:47 pm »

[...]

Anyway, I think where he's going with this in a practical sense is a theory of conscious experience where the reason the solution to the Hard Problem is so elusive is because we assume consciousness is either identical to or an emergent property of physical processes in neurons, when in reality consciousness is fundamental. So the question of whether or not we can create conscious systems is sort of moot, because literally everything is consciousness anyway (like panpsychism), so what we should be doing is trying to make artificial systems that can relate to us in terms of how they perceive, not in terms of how they think. [this paragraph is 100% conjecture tho, I haven't actually read anything like this here, I'm just extrapolating - probably badly]

Consciousness may be a back of tricks, but its still above my pay grade.

I clearly also can’t see the big picture but there are various interfaces I find compelling, perception being one of them. With perception, without too many reductions or Husserlian suspensions, I can at least approximate a grasp of what it means to be conscious of something. Still, even if I train some CNN or Reverse Boltzmann Machine to recognize and identify objects by way of various weighted rewards for the fitness of their predictions, we still only have a glorified number cruncher, not a “computer of quality” for which differences were intentional or meaningful in the way we pretend to understand consciousness.

So, for one, I suppose I feel like some kind of a dualist today maintaining that not everything is conscious, at least especially the models I trained werent.

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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #3041 on: February 04, 2020, 05:31:22 pm »
Well. I finished the book and all I can say is I want both my money and the 10 or so hours I spent on it back.

After pages and pages of pained and overly complicated arguments and appeals to quantum hocus pocus, his ultimate conclusion on AI is, more or less verbatim: "it is a mistake to try and reproduce a conscious agent by increasing complexity of circuitry, because consciousness isn't created that way. instead we should use circuitry to open a portal into the realm of conscious agents." I mean. What... what the fuck does that even mean.

I knew what I was getting myself into, but after hitting me over the head with painfully dumb metaphors about computer desktops and VR video games, I was hoping at least for a perspective on AI that wasn't just making alphabet soup from the words we use to think about it. Oh well, that's what I get for delving into popular science, I guess.

At least I have a somewhat better idea of what theoretical physicists mean when they talk about the 3D universe as a "simulation". Even though I still think that's bollocks, it's nice to know there's some math that goes into describing it and it isn't just lazy science fiction. Entirely.
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Doktor Howl

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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #3042 on: February 04, 2020, 05:32:03 pm »
Well. I finished the book and all I can say is I want both my money and the 10 or so hours I spent on it back.

After pages and pages of pained and overly complicated arguments and appeals to quantum hocus pocus, his ultimate conclusion on AI is, more or less verbatim: "it is a mistake to try and reproduce a conscious agent by increasing complexity of circuitry, because consciousness isn't created that way. instead we should use circuitry to open a portal into the realm of conscious agents." I mean. What... what the fuck does that even mean.

I knew what I was getting myself into, but after hitting me over the head with painfully dumb metaphors about computer desktops and VR video games, I was hoping at least for a perspective on AI that wasn't just making alphabet soup from the words we use to think about it. Oh well, that's what I get for delving into popular science, I guess.

At least I have a somewhat better idea of what theoretical physicists mean when they talk about the 3D universe as a "simulation". Even though I still think that's bollocks, it's nice to know there's some math that goes into describing it and it isn't just lazy science fiction. Entirely.

I went into the wrong line of work, really.
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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #3043 on: February 04, 2020, 05:34:52 pm »
I went into the wrong line of work, really.

The title of the Appendix is literally "the right to be wrong".
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Doktor Howl

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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #3044 on: February 04, 2020, 05:42:47 pm »
I went into the wrong line of work, really.

The title of the Appendix is literally "the right to be wrong".

Mine would be "the right to be stupid."
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