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You're not going to believe what I'm about to tell you


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Robert Anton Wilson said it more briefly:

 

"Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence. The more certitude one assumes, the less there is left to think about, and a person sure of everything would never have any need to think about anything and might be considered clinically dead"

 

and

 

"I don't believe anything, but I have many suspicions."

 

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Again, interesting reference. Thank you.

Fascinating, in order to learn (and improve), sometimes, if you like metaphors, you have to lower your guard (listen) and accept punches (uncertainty and dissonance) before engaging in the intellectual "fight".

The primitive parts of our brains are not wired that way. Probably a good thing in the evolution scheme of things.

Perhaps, we, humans, have reached another stage of the game. But, when one reads the news, that does not appear to be true. Doesn't it?

Sounds easy to apply in theory. In practice, incredibly difficult.

Worth the try?

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So how about that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem

Just trolling...  8)

 

I've never understood why the trolley problem is a problem.  If I know one group of people and not the other (regardless of group size) I flip the switch to save the group I know.  If one group is more attractive than the other, I flip it to kill the uglier group.  Otherwise why is it my problem?  I leave it alone and yell, "Hey you, idiots, get off the tracks!".

 

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So how about that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem

Just trolling...  8)

 

I've never understood why the trolley problem is a problem.  If I know one group of people and not the other (regardless of group size) I flip the switch to save the group I know.  If one group is more attractive than the other, I flip it to kill the uglier group.  Otherwise why is it my problem?  I leave it alone and yell, "Hey you, idiots, get off the tracks!".

 

Because we are making the trolley problem decisions every day of our lives. The cat decision from another thread "spend 3K for your cat surgery or save X cats in a shelter instead" is close to pure example. However, you can even think about  "spend Y on a restaurant/computer game/fancy dress or save Z people in Africa" ( https://www.thelifeyoucansave.org/ ) as a trolley problem. It's even more skewed in terms of overall value vs. your own convenience value, but we (unconsciously?) choose the first every day (or at least most of the time).

 

Your answer is one choice: base the decision on tribal/familial/emotional attachments. Some people are OK with that, some people disagree. It may lead to very egoistical decisions if taken to extreme. On the other hand utilitarian answers to this have issues too.

 

I don't think it's fake problem in larger context. So I am not completely trolling. (And I posted it on this thread as an example that triggers hot button reactions from people.)

 

Bonus question: if we develop (super) human AI, what kind of ethics should it follow? What should it do in the trolley situations? Should it give you gourmet meals while people are starving in Africa? (Note that fully utilitarian ethics for AI would also have issues...)

 

Edit: there is a side issue to trolley problem that some people cannot consciously kill people even if it means saving others. I find that part less interesting to me.

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So how about that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem

Just trolling...  8)

 

I've never understood why the trolley problem is a problem.  If I know one group of people and not the other (regardless of group size) I flip the switch to save the group I know.  If one group is more attractive than the other, I flip it to kill the uglier group.  Otherwise why is it my problem?  I leave it alone and yell, "Hey you, idiots, get off the tracks!".

 

Because we are making the trolley problem decisions every day of our lives. The cat decision from another thread "spend 3K for your cat surgery or save X cats in a shelter instead" is close to pure example. However, you can even think about  "spend Y on a restaurant/computer game/fancy dress or save Z people in Africa" ( https://www.thelifeyoucansave.org/ ) as a trolley problem. It's even more skewed in terms of overall value vs. your own convenience value, but we (unconsciously?) choose the first every day (or at least most of the time).

 

Your answer is one choice: base the decision on tribal/familial/emotional attachments. Some people are OK with that, some people disagree. It may lead to very egoistical decisions if taken to extreme. On the other hand utilitarian answers to this have issues too.

 

I don't think it's fake problem in larger context. So I am not completely trolling. (And I posted it on this thread as an example that triggers hot button reactions from people.)

 

Bonus question: if we develop (super) human AI, what kind of ethics should it follow? What should it do in the trolley situations? Should it give you gourmet meals while people are starving in Africa? (Note that fully utilitarian ethics for AI would also have issues...)

 

Edit: there is a side issue to trolley problem that some people cannot consciously kill people even if it means saving others. I find that part less interesting to me.

 

I was just being honest.  That is why I spend way more money than I need to on my kids at the expense of saving children in Africa.  Many people will answer the question differently when asked, but they are usually lying (either just to the questioner, or both to the questioner and themselves).  When the chips are down there aren't many people who would turn a train to kill their child or their best friend to save the lives of 5 strangers.  And if everyone involved is a stranger, doing nothing at all is usually the default.  It is just human nature, whether people like to admit it or not.

 

As for AI, I would not like to see a single skynet AI that is programmed by a government or one large corporation to have a certain set of "ethics"  that would likely be a disaster.  I'd much rather there be thousands or millions of AIs who (I said who on purpose) are created differently and who all have or evolve different ethics/opinions/purposes.  Variation, competition, and selection is the only way to improve things long term.  Any top down decision is likely to be wrong.

 

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As for AI, I would not like to see a single skynet AI that is programmed by a government or one large corporation to have a certain set of "ethics"  that would likely be a disaster.  I'd much rather there be thousands or millions of AIs who (I said who on purpose) are created differently and who all have or evolve different ethics/opinions/purposes.  Variation, competition, and selection is the only way to improve things long term.  Any top down decision is likely to be wrong.

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all AI's are created differently...

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So how about that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem

Just trolling...  8)

 

I've never understood why the trolley problem is a problem.  If I know one group of people and not the other (regardless of group size) I flip the switch to save the group I know.  If one group is more attractive than the other, I flip it to kill the uglier group.  Otherwise why is it my problem?  I leave it alone and yell, "Hey you, idiots, get off the tracks!".

 

I never saw it as a problem for a different reason. Given I don't know any of the people I take no action no matter how large either group. If I take action I'll commit murder which is against my morals. Not taking action to save people is not murder and not against my morals.

 

Not taking action is never a crime to me.

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As for AI, I would not like to see a single skynet AI that is programmed by a government or one large corporation to have a certain set of "ethics"  that would likely be a disaster.  I'd much rather there be thousands or millions of AIs who (I said who on purpose) are created differently and who all have or evolve different ethics/opinions/purposes.  Variation, competition, and selection is the only way to improve things long term.  Any top down decision is likely to be wrong.

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all AI's are created differently...

 

Well, of course.  Slick marketing aside, all intelligences are.

 

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As for AI, I would not like to see a single skynet AI that is programmed by a government or one large corporation to have a certain set of "ethics"  that would likely be a disaster.  I'd much rather there be thousands or millions of AIs who (I said who on purpose) are created differently and who all have or evolve different ethics/opinions/purposes.  Variation, competition, and selection is the only way to improve things long term.  Any top down decision is likely to be wrong.

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all AI's are created differently...

 

Well, of course.  Slick marketing aside, all intelligences are.

 

That was my point bro (and yours too kinda?)

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Robert Anton Wilson said it more briefly:

 

"Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence. The more certitude one assumes, the less there is left to think about, and a person sure of everything would never have any need to think about anything and might be considered clinically dead"

 

and

 

"I don't believe anything, but I have many suspicions."

 

Thanks rkbabang, those are very interesting quotes, and a good summary of how I think much of the time.

 

However, I also see a downside to this approach. Not "believing" in very much or not taking much for granted forces you to constantly re-evaluate every situation you come across. If we recall that half the population has an IQ below 100...  just think about that for a moment... then we can see that many people won't have the luxury of constantly evaluating their beliefs in each situation. They need a consistent worldview that allows them to navigate their life efficiently and get back to putting food on the table. I think the benefit of belief structures is just that!  It gives people a simple framework to help them deal with the world at large and respond to things that come up without doing serious analysis of each situation.

 

 

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Robert Anton Wilson said it more briefly:

 

"Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence. The more certitude one assumes, the less there is left to think about, and a person sure of everything would never have any need to think about anything and might be considered clinically dead"

 

and

 

"I don't believe anything, but I have many suspicions."

 

Thanks rkbabang, those are very interesting quotes, and a good summary of how I think much of the time.

 

However, I also see a downside to this approach. Not "believing" in very much or not taking much for granted forces you to constantly re-evaluate every situation you come across. If we recall that half the population has an IQ below 100...  just think about that for a moment... then we can see that many people won't have the luxury of constantly evaluating their beliefs in each situation. They need a consistent worldview that allows them to navigate their life efficiently and get back to putting food on the table. I think the benefit of belief structures is just that!  It gives people a simple framework to help them deal with the world at large and respond to things that come up without doing serious analysis of each situation.

 

Worldviews can be helpful, especially for day to day life which doesn't take much thought (I'm not going to re-evaluate whether to drive on the right side of the road when I go home tonight), but they should always be subject to destruction.  But yes, often when any new evidence is lacking you have to act on your suspicions.  The point is that even your most deeply held and cherished suspicions should never be elevated in your mind to beliefs.

 

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BTW if you've never read anything by Robert Anton Wilson, he was a fascinating guy and a great writer.  He uses satirical fiction to get his point across, much like reading The Onion, but you can usually take what he writes at the surface level or two or 3 deeper meanings as well.  Read "The Illuminatus Trilogy", it is my favorite of his books.  One of my favorite pieces is from the Appendix to the Illuminatus Trilogy called "Never whistle while your pissing".  In it he says some things relevant to the current discussion:   

 

"Every ideology is a mental murder, a reduction of dynamic living processes to static classifications, and every classification is a Damnation, just as every inclusion is an exclusion. In a busy, buzzing universe where no two snow flakes are identical, and no two trees are identical, and no two people are identical- and, indeed, the smallest sub-atomic particle, we are assured, is not even identical with itself from one microsecond to the next- every card-index system is a delusion. "Or, to put it more charitably," as Nietzsche says, "we are all better artists than we realize." It is easy to see that label "Jew" was a Damnation in Nazi Germany, but actually the label "Jew" is a Damnation anywhere, even where anti-Semitism does not exist. "He is a Jew," "He is a doctor," and "He is a poet" mean, to the card indexing centre of the cortex, that my experience with him will be like my experience with other Jews, other doctors, and other poets. Thus, individuality is ignored when identity is asserted. At a party or any place where strangers meet, watch this mechanism in action. Behind the friendly overtures there is wariness as each person fishes for the label that will identify and Damn the other. Finally, it is revealed: "Oh, he's an advertising copywriter," "Oh, he's an engine-lathe operator." Both parties relax, for now they know how to behave, what roles to play in the game. Ninety-nine percent of each has been Damned; the other is reacting to the 1 percent that has been labeled by the card-index machine."

 

You can read the whole essay online here: http://www.rawilson.com/illuminatus.html#whistle

 

Also the quote from my first post is from the intro to the 1986 version of his book "Cosmic Trigger": The whole thing can be read here: http://www.rawilson.com/trigger1.html

 

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On the moral duty to investigate things before believing them, and to expose even the beliefs we want to hold onto to the same scrutiny:

 

http://people.brandeis.edu/~teuber/Clifford_ethics.pdf

 

An impressive essay from back in the 1870s by a mathematician.  First two paragraphs are great:

 

A shipowner was about to send to sea an emigrant-ship. He knew that she was old,

and not overwell built at the first; that she had seen many seas and climes, and often had

needed repairs. Doubts had been suggested to him that possibly she was not seaworthy.

These doubts preyed upon his mind, and made him unhappy; he thought that perhaps he

ought to have her thoroughly overhauled and refitted, even though this should put him

to great expense. Before the ship sailed, however, he succeeded in overcoming these

melancholy reflections. He said to himself that she had gone safely through so many

voyages and weathered so many storms that it was idle to suppose she would not come

safely home from this trip also. He would put his trust in Providence, which could hardly

fail to protect all these unhappy families that were leaving their fatherland to seek for

better times elsewhere. He would dismiss from his mind all ungenerous suspicions about

the honesty of builders and contractors. In such ways he acquired a sincere and

comfortable conviction that his vessel was thoroughly safe and seaworthy; he watched her

departure with a light heart, and benevolent wishes for the success of the exiles in their

strange new home that was to be; and he got his insurance-money when she went down

in mid-ocean and told no tales.

 

What shall we say of him? Surely this, that he was verily guilty of the death of

those men. It is admitted that he did sincerely believe in the soundness of his ship; but the

sincerity of his conviction can in no wise help him, because he had no right to believe on such

evidence as was before him. He had acquired his belief not by honestly earning it in patient

investigation, but by stifling his doubts. And although in the end he may have felt so sure

about it that he could not think otherwise, yet inasmuch as he had knowingly and

willingly worked himself into that frame of mind, he must be held responsible for it

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BTW if you've never read anything by Robert Anton Wilson, he was a fascinating guy and a great writer.  He uses satirical fiction to get his point across, much like reading The Onion, but you can usually take what he writes at the surface level or two or 3 deeper meanings as well.  Read "The Illuminatus Trilogy", it is my favorite of his books.  One of my favorite pieces is from the Appendix to the Illuminatus Trilogy called "Never whistle while your pissing".  In it he says some things relevant to the current discussion:   

 

"Every ideology is a mental murder, a reduction of dynamic living processes to static classifications, and every classification is a Damnation, just as every inclusion is an exclusion. In a busy, buzzing universe where no two snow flakes are identical, and no two trees are identical, and no two people are identical- and, indeed, the smallest sub-atomic particle, we are assured, is not even identical with itself from one microsecond to the next- every card-index system is a delusion. "Or, to put it more charitably," as Nietzsche says, "we are all better artists than we realize." It is easy to see that label "Jew" was a Damnation in Nazi Germany, but actually the label "Jew" is a Damnation anywhere, even where anti-Semitism does not exist. "He is a Jew," "He is a doctor," and "He is a poet" mean, to the card indexing centre of the cortex, that my experience with him will be like my experience with other Jews, other doctors, and other poets. Thus, individuality is ignored when identity is asserted. At a party or any place where strangers meet, watch this mechanism in action. Behind the friendly overtures there is wariness as each person fishes for the label that will identify and Damn the other. Finally, it is revealed: "Oh, he's an advertising copywriter," "Oh, he's an engine-lathe operator." Both parties relax, for now they know how to behave, what roles to play in the game. Ninety-nine percent of each has been Damned; the other is reacting to the 1 percent that has been labeled by the card-index machine."

 

You can read the whole essay online here: http://www.rawilson.com/illuminatus.html#whistle

 

Also the quote from my first post is from the intro to the 1986 version of his book "Cosmic Trigger": The whole thing can be read here: http://www.rawilson.com/trigger1.html

 

never fart if you have any doubts...

 

(that's one of my closely held beliefs)

 

(all others need to be burnt down...)

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Not taking action is never a crime to me.

 

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing". - Edmund Burke

 

No judgement though, to each his own. I'm honestly not even sure what I would do until I am actually in those circumstances.

I'd want more details to estimate life expectancy ^^

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Not taking action is never a crime to me.

 

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing". - Edmund Burke

 

No judgement though, to each his own. I'm honestly not even sure what I would do until I am actually in those circumstances.

I'd want more details to estimate life expectancy ^^

 

The quote is correct. But doing nothing as a "good" men is not evil in itself (of course according to me).

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The quote is correct. But doing nothing as a "good" men is not evil in itself (of course according to me).

 

Thought experiment:

 

There's a button in front of you. If you push it, everybody in the world will stop suffering and be forever happy (kidnapped kids held as sex slaves will be freed, cancer patients will be cured, etc), each according to their very own definition of happiness. There's no catch, no downside, nothing bad happens to you if you don't push the button. You're aware of those rules, of everything that's going on, so there's no confusion.

 

I think that if you don't push it, that's an evil act, IMO.

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The quote is correct. But doing nothing as a "good" men is not evil in itself (of course according to me).

 

Thought experiment:

 

There's a button in front of you. If you push it, everybody in the world will stop suffering and be forever happy (kidnapped kids held as sex slaves will be freed, cancer patients will be cured, etc), each according to their very own definition of happiness. There's no catch, no downside, nothing bad happens to you if you don't push the button. You're aware of those rules, of everything that's going on, so there's no confusion.

 

I think that if you don't push it, that's an evil act, IMO.

 

But it's impossible for everyone to achieve their very own definition of happiness without infringing others. In fact, the pursuit of this "happiness for everyone" has always turned into a hell in our history.  :'(

 

So if you believe in history, pushing that button would be even more evil...

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Clutch, you're correct in the real world, but you're changing my thought experiment, which is different from answering it. The trolley problem doesn't exist in the real world either, but we can still learn things from thinking about it.

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