Re: Metarationality (was: JOIN: Alden Streeter)

From: James Rogers (
Date: Sat Aug 24 2002 - 11:59:20 MDT

On 8/23/02 6:57 PM, "Ben Goertzel" <> wrote:
> I champion conscious reason, but also intuition. I see intuition as
> unconscious reason, adept at piecing together a huge number of pieces of
> weak evidence in statistical and creative ways. Intuition can do some
> things that conscious reason cannot, because of conscious reason's limited
> channel capacity. However, human intuition is also inextricably bound up
> with human emotion, which is also irrational.

I don't think you are using "intuition" the same way as the pedestrian
vernacular. There is both rational and irrational intuition, and unless you
specify a definition, you are not being clear.

An irrational intuition/belief is one where the premise(s) have a null
prior. A rational intuition/belief is one where the premise(s) have a
non-null prior. While you may not be able to "prove" your belief/intuition
in this framework, you can reasonably assert the rationality IF you can
demonstrate valid priors for the premises regardless of a lack of evidence
for the specific position.

As commonly used, "intuition" pretty much means that you haven't even
evaluated the priors of the premise. For most people, intuition encompasses
a wide range of beliefs, and for some of these even casual analysis would
demonstrate the irrationality/incorrectness of them. It is like so-called
"common sense", which frequently encompasses beliefs that can be trivially
demonstrated to be false but which remain common beliefs nonetheless;
"intuition" is typically used as a logical fallacy of the same construction.
If you've actually evaluated the priors in any type of rigorous fashion, it
becomes "reasoning" and "rational" no matter how weak the association. In
essence, "intuition" is short for "talking out your ass" as typically used.
If you had a valid construction for your intuition you wouldn't call it
"intuition", you'd call it "reason". I think this is what people are
objecting to.

Of course, some intuition is just lazy thinking i.e. partial evaluation of
the priors and fudging the rest for any number of reasons. Which is
probably what we are actually talking about here. I guess you could call
this "expert intuition" (which makes it no more correct, but perhaps gives
it a higher probability of being correct).

Creativity in thinking may stem from the mind picking up patterns as you
brute force the prior evaluation when evaluating something.

> In future AI minds, there will be intuition (in the sense of inference
> combining huge numbers of pieces of weak evidence) that is NOT as tangled up
> with emotion as human intuition is.

For all intents and purposes, "intuition" in an AI would be more correctly
called "low probability reasoning". I think most reasoning in humans from
null priors is caused by biological biases in the wetware, not as an
intrinsic function of computing machinery.

-James Rogers

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