Senior Members
  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


wtf last won the day on March 6

wtf had the most liked content!

Community Reputation

123 Excellent

About wtf

  • Rank

Profile Information

  • Favorite Area of Science

Recent Profile Visitors

5144 profile views
  1. That's the best you can do? As moderator setting the example for the tone around here?
  2. wtf

    AI sentience

    If I decline to respond to a mention, I'm being disrespectful. If I do respond, then I'm continuing to post page after page. No win with you, is there? I prefer not to say any more about emergence because I truly have nothing else to say. I'm satisfied knowing that David Chalmers considers emergence meaningful; and that frankly I don't. I'm perfectly ok with that. He's a smart guy and a clear writer, I'll take another run at his papers down the road. What exactly was the purpose of your post? To tell me that it upsets you if I post and upsets you if I don't? Ok. Well ... I hope you find a way to deal with that. Clearly nothing I could do would make the slightest difference.
  3. Quite a disingenuous remark given the context. All the best.
  4. wtf

    AI sentience

    I've already been accused of "bitching" about emergence and told that my very presence in this thread inhibits intelligent conversation of AI. (I've seen no evidence of the latter). I respectfully decline to play. I've said several times I don't want to discuss it. I've said my piece and I wouldn't want to inhibit all the insightful and intelligent commentary on AI that I was apparently preventing by my mere presence. Wow. Now you ARE using evolution as a proxy for emergence aka "stuff we don't understand." The bottom line is that when I do respond to my mentions, I get accused of "bitching" and of inhibiting all the world-class commentary on AI that would otherwise ensue if I would just STFU. Then when I DO announce I have nothing else to say on the topic, people complain about that too. Well make up your minds.
  5. wtf

    AI sentience

    I hope nobody minds if I don't reply to my most recent mentions regarding emergence. I've said what I want to about the topic. FWIW I read one of David Chalmers's articles about emergence and I had the same objections. He's a superstar philosopher but all I could see was that he was defining emergence as "stuff we don't know." We fully understand how trees become tables, so that's not emergence. But we don't understand how brain goo becomes self-awareness, so we call that emergence. I'm not moved in the least. I found the Chalmers piece depressing in that regard. I'm just done talking about it. Also yes I did remember that someone pointed out that only the surface of the water is wet. I didn't forget that, I just ignored it because it doesn't bear on the point that wetness is not a property of hydrogen or oxygen. And also someone brought up a good point about evolution. Do I find evolution less murky than emergence? Yes. It's a mechanism. It makes sense. We even see it in petri dishes and in bacteria that evolve resistance to antibiotics. So evolution is farther along the continuum from metaphysical speculation to science than emergence is. I'm perfectly well aware that my misgivings are not the majority opinion. But (as I keep saying) emergence is not a major concern of mine. I have many other unpopular opinions as well.
  6. I will retract the dogmatic claim and retreat to "in terms of nature, there are arguably no regularities at all. I can defend that. So ok the identicality of atoms is a regularity. In the historically contingent theory of atoms. Besides, atoms aren't identical at all. Each element's atoms are different from the other elements. And even among, say, hydrogen atoms, one could lose or acquire an electron, isn't that right? You could then say well all electrons are the same and I could counter with Wheeler's fanciful idea that the reason all electrons are identical is because there is only one of them in the universe and we just observe it whizzing back and forth in time. But if that's all you've got for regularities in nature, I don't think that's much. When people say that they like to think of hexagons in honeycombs, the sun rising in the east every morning, and such. Not abstract thingies like electrons which aren't really particles at all but rather probability waves. Again falling back on the symmetry in the theory but not necessarily in nature. > I came up with the most interesting definition of regularity for this discussion: appearance or behaviour governed by an exact set of rules or regulations Sounds like a computational theory of reality. We have no idea if such a thing is true. Exact set of rules? Hilbert's dream, an exact set of rules for mathematics. Gödel destroyed that hope. Still people cling to the hope of an exact set of rules for nature. "Dreams of a Final Theory," an equation for the world that you can write on a t-shirt. Nice dream. Not yet a reality and arguably never. ... in fact, this was already at least equally interesting definition of regularity, or maybe even more interesting. So basically, are there laws in nature, or not. Right. Maybe there are. Maybe there aren't. Maybe I'm a Boltzmann brain, a momentary coherence in an otherwise chaotic and random universe.
  7. I did read your post as if you were equating nature itself with our historically contingent mathematical models of nature. You didn't argue otherwise or defend your point. I do reiterate that there are no regularities in nature that we can prove are regularities with absolute certainty. Of course our contingent physical models do have regularities. That is not at all the same thing. Sure, it's a matter of philosophy. The philosophy of the limits of science. You can't know for sure that there are regularities in nature. You agree or disagree?
  8. Our latest historically contingent physical theory models symmetry. How can we know that it's "really" there in nature itself? Perhaps our theoretical symmetry is only an approximation to something deeper and more complicated. We can't possibly know. Physical science is limited by our ability to measure. You disagree? You believe human made physics is absolutely true? It never has been before throughout history. You mean we just got lucky and nailed it this century? How will such an idea hold up a century from now? What do you think?
  9. In terms of nature, there are no regularities at all. There are no perfect circles, no straight lines, no triangles or spheres, no perfect symmetry. And in terms of abstract math, there are far more irregular and random objects than regular ones, if by regular we mean at the very least computable; that is, capable of being generated by an algorithm. Most functions are highly discontinuous, most real numbers are not ocmputable, and so forth. One shouldn't confuse the nice functions they meet in calculus class with all the wild functions that are out there. One should also not allow oneself to be confused by the apparent regularity of physical law. What we mean by physical law in this context is NOT the true nature of the universe; if there even is such a thing. Rather, by physical law we mean the historically contingent human-created scientific theories of the universe. All such theories are at best clever approximations. Our best physical theories are good to 12 decimal places or so. That's terrific as physical theories go. But they're not exactly what nature does. The apparent regularity of nature may arguably be telling us more about our own minds than it does about nature.
  10. wtf

    AI sentience

    I feel that I appear to have been riding a hobby horse; when my intention was only to express my opinion, and then reply to my mentions. In fact why would my opinion, expressed once a couple of weeks ago, prevent a meaningful discussion of AI? That right there is a good question. Why don't people discuss AI? That's the point of the thread and it's the reason why I'm here. My remark about emergence was intended to be an offhand expression of a minority opinion that I happen to hold. People started pushing back and I've been replying. I'm not stopping anyone from talking about AI and I wish someone would. I've been quite surprised at the reaction to my opinion. In terms of the subject of the thread it's not important to me at all. And I said exactly that about 8 posts ago if I recall. I simply expressed an opinion. I always reply to mentions.The more I reply, the more people think I'm invested in the topic. I'm not. I have an opinion, that is all. Here is my last word on the subject. I looked around for criticism of emergence and found two links that made me sufficiently happy to feel that I've at least made my point to myself, if nobody else. 1) From this SEP article I found two examples. After A technical argument which I didn't try to follow, the article says: So at least one professional philosopher is willing to use the word "incoherent." It's not just an over-the-top word invented by me. I am not the only person who finds emergence incoherent. Me for my amateur philosophy reasons, and Kim for his professional philosophy reasons. And note the word epiphenomenal. It's a good description. Something that's there, but not essential because the thing in question doesn't need it. SEP goes on to discuss another critic. Again as with Kim we find that emergence is regarded as an epiphenomenon. That is, something that shows up whenever quarks turn into elephants, but that would make no difference if it didn't show up. Quarks turn into elephants whether you call it emergence or not. I think that's the point being made by calling emergence an epiphenomenon. 2) Eliezer Yudkowsky. Of all people. Do readers know who he is? According to his Wiki entry he is: As I understand it, some consider him a genious and others not so much. I've read him a little but never been much of a fan. But he wrote this essay ... it's literally word-for-word what I've been thinking. I could quote it but I'd really have to quote the whole article. I hope people will read it. This essay is so uncannily like my exact thoughts on the matter, that it's not out of the realm of possibility that I actually read this many years ago and that's where I got my own ideas. I really can't say. I hope people will read it. It's as good a presentation of my ideas as I wish I could have written. I don't expect to convince anyone but at least I'm not alone. The Futitliy of Emergence Here are a couple of quotes. and So anyway to sum all this up, the set of professional philosophers who agree with me is nonempty. And for what it's worth, Eliazer Yudkowsky agrees with me. I'll take my agreement where I find it. I will now stop talking about emergence. I haven't said anything new for quite a while and the Yudkowsky article expresses my thoughts perfectly. "Your curiosity feels sated, but it has not been fed." THAT is what I'm getting at. Emergence is an intellectual snack made of empty calories.
  11. wtf

    AI sentience

    Agreed. It tells us nothing but it is a shorthand for when a thing has properties that are not at all obvious from the properties of its components. I'm perfectly fine with that. I just don't think it's meaningful or helpful when applied to consciousness. Or much else for that matter. > It's a convenient way of facilitating discussion, however it only works if the all the participants understand the language. You've decided that calling something an animal tells us nothing. Well a horse is a lot different than the organic molecules that it's made of, so that's emergence. Ok fine. But if I want to know how horses work, I read a textbook on biology. I think we're in agreement. The word emergence is a classifier but not much of an explainer. And besides, I can barely think of anything that's NOT emergent. But the debate isn't about whether horses emerge from molecules, which they clearly do. The problem is that emergence is so often used to short-circuit discussion about consciousness. Someone above said that emergence can replace the idea of the soul. I don't see how it's any different at all with regard to consciousness. Brain goo is somehow self-aware. That's a mystery. You can call it emergence or you can say God imbued Man with a soul. Neither seems like a satisfactory explanation to me. I'd rather read a book on neuroscience. Not that neuroscience has a clue where self-awareness comes from. But at least it's not burying the question under a single magic word like soul or emergence.
  12. wtf

    AI sentience

    Ah. But this is false. We don't need emergence to explain how molecules form. All we need is physics and chemistry. There seems to be an ongoing theme in this thread that emergence is just a magic word to label whatever we don't understand. Consciousness arises in brain goo, which is a mystery. So we call it emergent. But we don't know any more by calling it emergence than we do calling it a mystery. Or calling it soul for that matter. We have science to explain how oxy and hydro, which aren't wet, become water, which is. Once it was a mystery, but now we understand it. Is it emergent? Sure, the word fits. But it doesn't explain anything, whereas physics and chemistry do. I'm really struck by your statement that in the absence of emergence there would be no meaningful structures. But the concept of emergence is only a label. Meaningful structures did emerge. But to the extent that we understand the process of structure formation, our understanding is due to science. Not to labelling things "emergent."
  13. wtf

    AI sentience

    I couldn't explain any more than I have in my last half dozen or so posts. Emergence tells me nothing I didn't know before. > What the word 'emergent' means is clear: that a system has properties that its parts do not have. Ok, so water, which is wet, emerges from oxygen and hydrogen, neither of which are wet. So that's emergence. But that doesn't tell me anything. What DOES tell me something is reading a book on chemistry, which explains the physical mechanism by which oxy and hydro combine to make water. But how does emergence replace soul? If I said that God puts a soul into your brain goo, you'd call that superstition or at best Cartesian dualism. But if you say that "emergence" puts consciousness into brain goo, you say that's much much better. I say it's no better at all. You're replacing one word for a mystery with another. What's the difference between soul and emergence?
  14. wtf

    AI sentience

    It may be true, but it's not useful. I keep repeating this. You say consciousness emerged from inorganic matter, but that's not proven. You have no actual evidence for that. But say I agree that consciousness "emerged" from inorganic matter. What do I know now that I didn't know before? Does consciousness emerge from rocks? Do I now know that? No. If I say water "emerges" from oxygen and hydrogen, I know nothing. I'd be better off reading a book on chemistry, which would elucidate the actual process by which oxy and hydro become water and doesn't use the word emergence. You can call it anything you like but you aren't telling me anything. It doesn't tell me anything. I still don't know what consciousness is or how it arises. Besides, consciousness is a terrible example because we don't even KNOW what it emerges FROM. Does consciousness emerge from brain goo? Or does consciousness emerge from computation that only incidentally happens to be implemented in brain goo, but might possibly be implemented in computer chips? The use of emergence in this context is doubly incoherent because its proponents don't even know for sure what consciousness emerges from.
  15. wtf

    AI sentience

    I have no objection to the word itself, or the concept. I disagree with those who use it as an explanation or an answer. People will say that consciousness is emergent, as if they've told me something. I don't feel that they've told me anything. I don't dislike the word. I just don't understand why some people find the idea so important or meaningful.