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Author Topic: The Necro Wars  (Read 353120 times)

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silverspawn

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6750 on: April 04, 2024, 01:00:50 pm »

Ok so I'm gonna try to tie #2 and #3 together. This is not how I'd try to convince someone who starts out skeptical but it's more constructive than just focusing on paradoxes.

I think the best starting point is thinking about computation, specifically what you are using to compute. If physicalism is true then all computation must be based on physical mechanisms in the broadest sense, and if so, we can roughly differentiate between physical complexity, which is how complex of a mechanism you use, and logical complexity, which is how many of your mechanisms you are chaining together. I've made this graphic for an article a few weeks ago that illustrates this:



So one extreme case is what I call standard computation, which is where you use ultra primitive mechanisms but you go apeshit in how complex your logical arrangement of those is. All digital computers (and actually analog computers as well) fall into that category. Your only mechanisms are two different voltage levels to differentiate two states, and some wire designs to implement binary logic on those two states. That is almost literally it (I think some marginally more complex physical pieces exist in some computers). Standard computation is also the only thing that's analyzed under "theory of computation" in mathematics. Like computability, turing machines, complexity theory, all of that stuff assumes that you have a very basic set of operations that you can combine in arbitrarily complex ways.

Then nonstadard computation is just everything else. Clever mechanical divices for integration, a soap bubble that "computes" a spherical shape, a wire whose surface you make repulsive such that it self-untangles, clever arrangements of coupled oscillators, and also the EM field.

My claim then would be that standard computation cannot support consciousness. It doesn't matter whether it's analog or digital or based on electricity or water; the important feature is that you have a set of extremely primitive physical mechanisms and all the complexity comes in at how you chain them together. And the way to see that this doesn't support consciousness is just that it fundamentally doesn't have the right properties.

So for example, consciousness seems to have objective, discrete boundaries. There's a set of qualia in your consciousness, and a different set in mine, and they're perfectly split. If we start interacting, they remain perfectly split. That gives you two paradoxes, one is that no qualia sharing takes place even though we causally interact, and the other more fundamental one is that it doesn't even seem logically coherent for partial merging. Like, any quale can either belong to one set or the other and not both, but the degree of functional integration between systems seems to be a spectrum. (Btw, qualia are just literally all components of your consciousness, tactice, visual, etc; anything and everything you perceive is a quale or set of qualia.) This is called the boundary problem, or binding problem, or combination problem.

Another issue is that consciousness seems to have inherent content. Like, red looks a certain way, a harmonic chord sounds a certain way, and more subtly, all qualia seem to be valenced (i.e., feel good or bad). You can't bootstrap yourself toward that with standard computation because you start from empty content (just two abstract states) and you can't ever get from there to nonempty content. (I think this argument is very unpersuasive to people not already sympathetic to this idea, but  I do think it's true.)

Yet another problem is that standard computation, since it's entirely based on abstract states, is fundamentally dependent on interpretation. Like, suppose a digital computer were conscious and right now would experience pain. All that's actually happening at the physical level is that data strings are moved around (i.e., sequences of bits, which physically are sets of pieces on a wire that either have around 1V or 2V). But presumably the consciousness (so the felt pain in this case) is frame-invariant (i.e., it is one way regardless of who interprets it). So how does that work? Does the universe try to interpret what's going on by looking at the surrounding system? That doesn't sound like something that could be an actual law. Does it depend on the system's counterfactual response to other inputs? If so then you have more to work with, but now consciousness depends on counterfactuals, which physics does not, so you lose connection between consciousness and causality. Mike Johnson had this thought experiment where he just said, suppose I shake a bag of popcorn, did I just torture someone? It's difficult to argue that the answer is no since there would be an interpretation of the atoms in the bag and how they correspond to informational states that makes the computation represent the simulation of someone who is experiencing pain. So this whole strand of argument is called the interpretation problem and seems altogether impossible to resolve.

I think the underlying problem behind all this is that small discrete objects are just the wrong level of interpretation. If consciousness is supposed to be operating within the laws of physics, then there must be a deep connection between the laws of physics and the laws of consciousness. In fact they should be isomorphic, i.e., equivalent in a deep mathematical sense. Certainly what they say about causality should be exactly equivalent. But the laws of physics are written over fundamental forces and fields, so the laws of consciousness must be as well. That means any approach that first tries to round everything to an ontology of discrete computational elements like logical 1s or 0s (or rational numbers in case of analog computers) is just inherently doomed, and all the problems above and various others are just ways at pointing at consequences of this disconnect. You have to analyze consciousness at the lowest possible level, the same as physics.

And well then the EM field is pretty much the only candidate. It's one of the fundamental fields in the standard model, and all of the others seem like non-starters. It solves the interpretation problem because it deals in physical forces rather than abstract codes that need to be interpreted, and there is this physical phenomenon where the field lines can form a topologically closed shape that makes it causally separate from the rest of the field, which solves the boundary problem.

silverspawn

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6751 on: April 04, 2024, 01:02:25 pm »

(btw thanks for asking, I've thought about this a ton of times but every time I try to structure an argument again I find that it was helpful.)

silverspawn

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6752 on: April 04, 2024, 01:18:57 pm »

Then as for (1), this is gonna sound more esoteric (and it's also not that practically relevant). But I disagree with the premise; I do think that a complete causal understanding of the brain would answer all questions about consciousness. I don't see how it couldn't since it has to explain exactly why people claim they have consciousness in the first place.

So at a super basic level, you could ask what kind of stuff the universe is made of (this wasn't your question, but it'll lead to an answer). The position I usually defend is called dual-aspect monism, which says that there's one kind of stuff with two aspects, the material aspect and the conscious aspect. This sounds the least woo and gives the right framework for the studying the problem, like you need to find a deep connection between physical causality and what consciousness is doing.

But an alternative way you could go about it is just to say, everything is consciousness. So the electromagnetic field just is a field of consciousness. This sounds radical, but actually it amounts to the same thing because even if the EM field just is consciousness, well as long as consciousness is lawful (and I definitely think it is), you should still be able to study it from a distance and derive laws for how it evolves. And, well, that's Marxwell's equations, i.e., a part of the laws of physics. So you don't need to postulate some kind of non-conscious stuff in addition to conscious stuff to explain the appearance of matter and the laws of physics; you get the laws of physics just by virtue of studying the causal behavior of a thing. Mathematical equation is just what it looks like if you describe something only in terms of causality.

So that's the model that I think is ultimately most philosophically robust -- the fields of physics are the fields of consciousness period. And I think that does come back to your question/claim because if the EM field just is a field of consciousness, then it yeah understanding it fully would fully explain consciousness. consciousness doesn't arise from the field; they're the same thing.

Technically this means that a computer has nonzero consciousness since it uses the EM field, but the consciousness isn't unified so it amounts to the same thing. The phrase "mind dust" is sometimes used. Basically it reframes everything from "is this conscious" to "how connected is consciousness here". In almost all cases the answer is "it's incredibly disconnected into billions of miniscule bits". So everything is technically minimally conscious but this has no practical implications. Like yes there are charged particles in a tree so there is consciousness a tree, but the tree doesn't form a unified entity, and it makes no difference if you hack it in two. It was a billion disconnected pieces of mind dust before and it's the same after. Only stuff with nontrivial electromagnetic effects have unified and hence nontrivial pieces of consciousness. Like humans and probably almost all animals.

silverspawn

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6753 on: April 04, 2024, 01:25:39 pm »

(Btw h/t to faust who was the first person to make me realize that objective idealism isn't actually stupid :) )

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6754 on: April 04, 2024, 05:05:44 pm »

When you define natural and supernatural that way you are missing the point. A lot of supernatural phenomenon are usually easily explained, although the explanations invoke a power that isn't easily observed. "How did the oracle know that?" - She was given revelation from a spirit with more knowledge than her. "How was the Red Sea split?" - YHWH did it. Here the supernatural distinction is important - the Red Sea doesn't spontaneously split, but a supernatural power did it. Claiming that that would be natural is missing the point of the distinction. What's natural is what's regular, what's possible to recreate and predict by simple observation. The methodology for intervention by supernatural beings is different. "Okay, the Red Sea split. How do we explain this?" Regular empiric science fails here, because you can't recreate it, but when you take into account the religiohistoric context, "YHWH did it" makes the best contender for an explanation. Why? The being that appeared to Mose in the burning bush used that name, claiming to be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the forefathers of the Israelites, to whom he had revealed himself 400 years earlier. Then he said that he would deliver the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt, then the ten plagues came over Egypt in the way Moses had described by the command of God, and then the Israelites were released. When something happens that is impossible to explain using the naturalistic sciences, using the religious methodology to give an explanation is the most reasonable way, and in that case, calling the explanation "natural" doesn't make sense.

The superficial counterargument to this would be that I don't believe most of that stuff ever happened. But let's set that aside because that's not the point.

If YHWH is an agent who is capable of interfering with the natural universe, then there isn't really a categorical difference between the things he does and the things e.g. I do. You can't recreate the things I do by waiting for the thing to happen by itself, someone has to interfere. You can try to predict the things I am going to do with some greater than chance and lower than perfect success, and if we understood anything at all about YHWH (e.g. if everything the Bible said about him was true and we used that info to predict his future behavior), we could say the same about him. He might be able to do things that I don't understand, but I am also able to do things that e.g. people in medieval Europe wouldn't have understood, so that's at best a difference in degree, not in kind. I could go say hi to some people, and 40 years later, go see them again and explain that I'm the same guy I was 40 years ago and that I had a plan for smuggling them out of jail or something and then I could do the plan and have it work exactly as I described. Would that be supernatural, and would that make "Awaclus did it" a likely and sufficient explanation for something like a sea getting split later?

Back to the topic of religious vs. non-religious explanations: I could (if we are not restricted to what seems realistic) also invent a method for splitting seas, invent a time machine and go back in time to split the Red Sea for Moses. That's not a bigger contradiction with what we currently think are the laws of physics than some stuff YHWH allegedly did according to the Bible. The idea of a future me time traveling around and doing all the things attributed to YHWH in the Bible but with the power of future science instead of god magic is obviously ridiculous and super random, but it's an equally good explanation as the Bible and really the only reason why it sticks out as ridiculous and random is that people hold non-religious explanations to a much, much higher standard than religious ones.

Another application of the religious methodology: I could give you a lot of evidence that parts of the Bible are of supernatural origin, that they are historically reliable, that it is psychologically helpful and so on, but the only reason I can give for why I believe it is true in its entirity is this: God has gained my trust.

Sure, and the followers of other religions would say similar things about their holy texts that obviously can't be true if the Bible is true and vice versa. So, necessarily, the religious methodology leads to a huge number of people having strong convictions in explanations that are not true, which makes it a terrible methodology.
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silverspawn

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6755 on: April 04, 2024, 05:37:52 pm »

sorry to interrupt the conversation flow but yeah go Biden woooo!!

silverspawn

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6756 on: April 04, 2024, 06:04:01 pm »

Damn look at this. Polling average is now officially tied.

silverspawn

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6757 on: April 04, 2024, 06:30:16 pm »

Many years back I was dibbling in German wikis that are parodies of Wikipedia -- basically a wiki where every article is just supposed to be funny.

I'm reminded of this because the wikipedia entry on Stormy Daniels https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stormy_Daniels reads like it could be a parody. Alas it is not.

And this is apparently the only of Trump's criminal trials that will start pretty soon, so it's kinda a big deal.

silverspawn

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6758 on: April 04, 2024, 06:39:49 pm »

silverspawn

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6759 on: April 06, 2024, 05:34:56 am »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGRvuH8nH-M

where has this been all my life? *-*

silverspawn

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6760 on: April 06, 2024, 06:55:06 am »



silverspawn

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6761 on: April 06, 2024, 06:56:24 am »

Of course Trump is still overvalued; now that polling has leveled, he's just way behind in the fundamentals and arguably on a negative polling trajectory

silverspawn

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6762 on: April 06, 2024, 07:03:08 am »

Btw if I Trump wanted to win, he should absolutely pick Nikki Haley for VP, and then he should subtly hint that maybe he won't make it the full term and Haley could become president so as to give moderate Republicans an incentive to vote for him. Fortunately he has way too much of an ego to do that. It's almost like he's not actually politically smart!

silverspawn

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6763 on: April 06, 2024, 11:14:03 am »

Haven't responded to this yet:

Non-metaphysical objective laws of morality don't make sense to me, at least sans a creator or guided evolution. If morality is unchanging (which we suppose it to be when judging the sins of history), it must have existed before humans evolved. What made humanity evolve to give us the qualia of pre-existing moral laws, which are common to all men? And if moral laws evolved alongside us, in what way can it be objective, other than in the way that we have it in common?

So I think qualia tell us something about the universe because it is evolutionary useful to have a helpful model of the environment. They admittedly also tell us about aspects of the universe that it's not evolutionarily helpful to know, but that's not that surprising; evolution just figured out a general truth-seeking process. Which is very flawed, but still general.

As far as morality goes, I just deny that this is a real thing. I think valence, which is how good any one moment of consciousness feels, is a real thing, and I think it makes sense to try to increase the valence in the universe. I personally try to do that. I think literally every other aspect of morality is a human invention and completely meaningless (except insofar as it correlates with valence, which actually it almost always does, so in practice a lot of morality tends to be great, but nonetheless I deny that it has any non-valence-related meaning).

Thankfully (from my perspective) the trends of moral progress, by and large, seems to be going toward higher valence. E.g., slavery is bad for net valence and now we don't have slavery anymore. Torture is super ultra bad for net valence and now we have much less torture. Factory Farming is super extra ultra bad for net valence and we seem to be on a trajectory to get rid of it maybe? Gay marriage is good for net valence and we have gay marriage now. Etc. There's counter-examples but on the whole that seems to be the trend.

Very few people like this view or morality because it's incredibly reductive, but that's my honest view, and that's why I don't feel a need to invoke religion

silverspawn

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6764 on: April 06, 2024, 11:20:35 am »

The one thing about my view of morality that's pretty new is the argument that if you look closely enough, most people's views are in fact tied to valence, even if on the surface it totally looks like they don't. I think you'd struggle to find a clean counter-example, although it's not impossible.

Jonatan Djurachkovitch

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6765 on: April 07, 2024, 04:25:02 am »

Thank you all for the great answers, I have some replies brewing but now they have become too complicated to manage on my phone, so expect them to come in a few days when I can get my computer set up.
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silverspawn

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6766 on: April 07, 2024, 05:46:53 am »

Can confirm from experience that doing complicated discussions on mobile is not the way

faust

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6767 on: April 07, 2024, 08:02:16 am »

As far as morality goes, I just deny that this is a real thing. I think valence, which is how good any one moment of consciousness feels, is a real thing, and I think it makes sense to try to increase the valence in the universe. I personally try to do that. I think literally every other aspect of morality is a human invention and completely meaningless (except insofar as it correlates with valence, which actually it almost always does, so in practice a lot of morality tends to be great, but nonetheless I deny that it has any non-valence-related meaning).
This is quite interesting because I feel like this is the opposite of morality. A choice is only meaningfully moral insofar as it decreases how good a moment of consciousness feels for the person making the choice.

While it is possible, and indeed perfectly common, for a choice to reflect a benefit in a particular moral system that also increases valence for the actor, it is no more sensible to call this a moral choice than saying that bees are moral actors because through pollination they keep plant life going.

In that sense, biblical morality fails on the same grounds because it too ties its morality to an excepted positive outcome for the actor.
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faust

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6768 on: April 07, 2024, 08:03:20 am »

The one thing about my view of morality that's pretty new is the argument that if you look closely enough, most people's views are in fact tied to valence, even if on the surface it totally looks like they don't. I think you'd struggle to find a clean counter-example, although it's not impossible.
This is more an indication that we, as a species, are not very good at morality than it is evidence for morality being what you say it is.
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silverspawn

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6769 on: April 08, 2024, 02:29:47 pm »

To be clear, I'm not saying [(1) morality is this divine concept that exists as a human-independent truth, and (2) I have discovered that this concept in fact reflects valence].

I am saying that morality isn't a real thing/only a meaningless concept made up by humans. I'm saying there are no moral rules or principles that exist human-independently and can be discovered. However, I think valence is a real thing. Separately, I think it seems to be the case that most people's views of morality align pretty closely with valence. But that doesn't make the concept of morality any more meaningful. My philosophical views wouldn't change at all if people's ideas of morality were not related to valence. The connection just means that I approve of moral rules for practical purposes.

In a nutshell, I'm a valence realist but ethical nihilist about literally every other ethical principle.

silverspawn

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6770 on: April 08, 2024, 02:31:31 pm »

This is quite interesting because I feel like this is the opposite of morality. A choice is only meaningfully moral insofar as it decreases how good a moment of consciousness feels for the person making the choice.

Well you can do things that decrease your personal valence but increase the valence of other people. Of course I'd further argue that this is ultimately not a real distinction because the philosophically correct position is to identify with all moments of consciousness equally, which removes the difference between valence egoism and valence utilitarianism.

silverspawn

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6771 on: April 08, 2024, 02:33:49 pm »

But again as a practical matter, I super approve of morality that puts the needs of others over that of yourself. Those choices tend to increase total valence. In fact in everyday life, I believe there's empirical evidence that doing things for others, which would theoretically be self-sacrificial, actually leads to fulfillment, so often it's not even a real tradeoff.

faust

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6772 on: April 08, 2024, 02:35:14 pm »

I'm saying there are no moral rules or principles that exist human-independently and can be discovered.
What does it matter whether morality exists human-independently? Certainly the economy does not exist human-independently and there is still value in analysing it and discovering the principles by which it works.
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silverspawn

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6773 on: April 08, 2024, 02:40:18 pm »

Human-independent was probably a poor phrasing; I was trying to get at the difference between moral realism and relativism. I.e., human-independent morality as in, there are moral truths we can discover, and human-dependent morality as in, morality is just preference

faust

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Re: The Necro Wars
« Reply #6774 on: April 08, 2024, 02:42:01 pm »

This is quite interesting because I feel like this is the opposite of morality. A choice is only meaningfully moral insofar as it decreases how good a moment of consciousness feels for the person making the choice.

Well you can do things that decrease your personal valence but increase the valence of other people. Of course I'd further argue that this is ultimately not a real distinction because the philosophically correct position is to identify with all moments of consciousness equally, which removes the difference between valence egoism and valence utilitarianism.
Well, of course I'd argue that the philosophically correct position is to reject all valence (i.e. strife towards improving how good moments of consciousness feel), and realize that ultimately the way towards peace is annihilation.
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