This might be trivial, but in the most basic sense noticing where one has blind spots can be done by first noticing where one’s behavior differs from how he predicted he would behave, or what the people around him behave. If you thought some task was going to be easy and its not, or that you would get mixed results in predicting something and you don’t (even if you think you might be more accurate than average, what’s important here is the difference) you might be neglecting something important.
Its kind of similar to the way some expert AI systems try to notice blind spots: they “view” either demonstrations of proper behavior or just recordings of plenty of other agents (probably humans) performing the relevant tasks, and if there’s some difference from what they would do, it raises the probability of a blind spot in the model.
Once you find something like that, if you seem to rouse a strong emotional response in yourself when you ask yourself “why am I doing this differently?” that’s a non-negligible red flag for a blind spot, IMO.
“This is because planetary physics can be formalized relatively easily” - they can now, and could when they were, but not before. One can argue that we thought many “complex” and very “human” abilities could not be algroithmically emulated in the past, and recent advances in AI (with neural nets and all that) have proven otherwise. If a program can do/predict something, there is a set of mechanical rules that explain it. The set might not be as elegant as Newton’s laws of motion, but it is still a set of equations nonetheless. The idea behind Villam’s comment (I think) is that in the future someone might say, the same way you just did, that “We can formalize how happy people generally are in a given society because that’s relatively easy, but what about something truly complex like what an individual might imagine if we read him a specific story?”.
In other words, I don’t see the essential differentiation between biology and sociology questions and physics questions, that you try to point to. In the post itself you also talk about moral preference, and I tend to agree with you that some people just have very individually strongly valued axioms that might contradict themselves or others, but it doesn’t in itself mean that questions about rationality differ from questions about, say, molecular biology, in the sense that they can be hypothetically answered to a satisfactory level of accuracy.
Then that’s an unnecessary assumption about Aboriginals. Take a native Madagascan instead (arbitrary choice of ethnicity) and he might not.
As far as I know it is not true, and certainly not based on any concrete evidence, that humans must see intentional patterns in everything. Not every culture thought cloud patterns were a language for example. In such a culture, the one beholding the sky doesn’t necessarily think it displays the actions of an intentful agent recording a message. The same can be true for Chinese scribbles.
If what you’re saying was true, it would be a very surprising fact that there are a whole bunch of human cultures in history that never invented writing.
At any rate, if there exists a not-an-anomaly-example of a human that given sufficient time could not learn Chinese in a Chinese Room, the entire argument as a solution to the problem doesn’t hold (lets call this “the normal man argument”).
If it were enough that there exists a human that *could* learn Chinese in the room, then you could have just given some example of really intuitive learners throughout history or some such.
It is enough for the original Chinese room to show a complete system that emulates understanding
Chinese, but no part of it (specifically the human part) understands Chinese, and therefore you can’t prove a machine is “actually thinking” and all that jazz because it might be constructed like the aforementioned system (this is the basis for the normal man argument).
Of course, there are answers to this conundrum, but the one you posit doesn’t contradict the original point.
But the fact that it is purposeful writing, for example by a spirit, is an added assumption… SCA doesn’t have to think that, she could think its randomly generated scribbles made by nature. Like how she doesn’t think the rings on the inside of a tree are a form of telling a story. They are just meaningless signs. And if she does not think the signs have meaning, your statements don’t follow (having scribbles doesn’t mean that some other agent necessarily made them, and since the scribbles don’t point to anything in reality there is no way to understand that P and p are of some same type of item). Thus, there exists a human to be put in a Chinese Room that can make the room replicate the understanding of Chinese without knowing Chinese herself.
I need some clarification on what seems to be a hidden assumption here… Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to be assuming that SCA knows that the symbols she is getting are representations of something in the universe (i.e. that they are language).
Let’s assume that SCA thinks she is copying the patterns that naturally dripping sap creates on the sands on the floor of a cave.
It follows that all of these statements are not inferred:
“Moreover, it is logical that when something is read, somebody wrote it.”
“[...] she observes that an action of reading not corresponding to a previous action of writing indicates that there must be an agent in the world to which an “I” is opposed.”
“This does not hinder SCA from learning that “P” and “p” belong to the same paradigm.”
and so on.
Something in this view feels a bit circular to me, correct me if I’m way off mark.
Question: why assume that moral intuitions are derived from pre-existing intuitions for property rights, and not the other way around?
Reply: because property rights work (“property rights at least appear to be a system for people with diverse goals to coordinate use of scarce resources”), and if they are based on some completely unrelated set of intuitions (morality) then that would be a huge coincidence.
Re-reply: yeah, but it can also be argued that morality ‘at least appears to be a system for people with diverse goals to coordinate use of scarce resources’, those resources being life and welfare. More “moral” societies seem to face less chaos and destruction, after all. It works too. It could be that these came first, and property rights followed. It even makes more evolutionary/historical sense.
So in other words, we may be able to reduce the entire comparison to just saying that moral intuitions are based on a set of rules of thumb that helped societies survive (much like property rights helped societies prosper), which is basically what every evolutionarist would say when asked what’s the deal with moralilty.
And this issue is totally explored already, the general answers ranging from consequentialism—our intuitions, whatever their source, are just suggestions that need to be optimized on the basis of the outcomes of each action—and trolley-problem-morals—we ought to explore the bounds and specifics of our moral intuitions and build our ethics on top of that.
This was an awesome read. Can you perhaps explain the listed intuition to care more about things like clock speeds than higher cognitive functions?
The way I see it, higher cognitive functions allow long term memories and their resurfacing, and cognitive interpretation of direct suffering, like physical pain. A hummingbird might have a X3 human clock, but it might be way less emotionally scarred than a human when projected to maximum pain for, lets say, 8 objective seconds (“emotionally scarred” is a not well defined way of saying that more suffering will arise later due to the pain caused in the hypothetical event). That is why, IMO, most people do assign relevance to more complicated cognitions.
Thanks for the read (honestly, noticed some very interesting points IMO) but I kind of fail to understand what exactly is your claim about the method you introduced.
Are you saying that it is a good model representation of social interaction? If so I would partially agree. Its cool that the model captures all the mental steps all the participants are making (if you bother to completely unroll everything), but it’s not computationally superior to saying that: things like calling someone “a downer” are general beliefs that rely on a varying empirical basis, and should be checked for their verity.
In other words—instead of saying that “Bailey is a downer” means “Alex felt it was bad that Alex felt that Bailey felt that Alex doing X was bad, for multiple values of X” you can say that it means “Alex believes he observed Bailey to act as ‘a downer’ a sufficient amount of times” and unroll that (ask Alex why does he think Bailey’s a downer, what does being a downer mean or what does he base her being one on) only if necessary. Most people would understand this explanation more intuitively, in my experience. Some might even find it trivial, cause, for example, if you call someone irresponsible more than once, most of the times you are aware that you think he has acted “irresponsibly” a sufficient amount of times, even if you don’t phrase it that exact way. And this explanation is not inferior to yours in the theoretical sense, it doesn’t supply less data, and it does seem a little more cost effective, explanation-wise.
Are you saying that it is a good method for practical conflict resolution? It very well may be, but your experience only teaches us that after engaging in a cooperative activity with Alex for a while, he understood that he felt judged and was more inclined to believe you weren’t judging him. Psychologically, engaging in a safe activity with someone, even your captor in a hypothetical hostage situation, will diffuse tension and humanize conflicting parties in each other’s eyes. It could be that you could have played a short card game with Alex and he would have been more cooperative afterwards all the same.
Even if we claim that analyzing the problem is emotionally helpful in itself, the analysis doesn’t have to be all that rigorous, coherent and complete. Many conflict resolution therapy methods focus on giving all parties in a conflict the opportunity to feel heard, which makes it easier to reach emotional catharsis, and therefore agreement. But feeling heard is only a equal to or lesser amount of understanding than being completely, logically understood. Therapy methods such as these may (or may not) be more effective in achieving results, or may be just less effort-demanding.
In order to establish that this method is particularly effective, we either have to get some experimental data showing it gets better outcomes in some criteria, or explain what it has going for it that other methods unequivocally don’t.
Anyway, I enjoyed reading this and would be glad if you posted some of your refined conclusions in the future :)
True Path has already covered it (or most of it) extensively, but both the Newcomb’s Problem and the distinction made in the post (if it were to be applied in a game theory setting) contain too many inherent contradiction and do not seem to actually point out anything concrete.
You can’t talk about decision-making agents if they are basically not making any decisions (classical determinism, or effective precommitment in this case, enforces that). Also, you can’t have a 100% accurate predictor and have freedom of choice on the other hand, because that implies (in the very least) that the subset of phenomena in the universe that govern your decision is deterministic.
[Plus, even if you have a 99.9999… (… meaning some large N times 9, not infinity) percent accurate predictor, if the Newcomb’s problem assumes perfect rationality, there’s really no paradox.
I think what this post exemplifies (and perhaps that was the intent from the get-go and I just completely missed it) is precisely that Newcomb’s is ambiguous about the type of precommitment taken (which follows from it being ambiguous about how Omega works) and therefore is sort of self contradictory, and not truly a paradox.]