Re: Metarationality (was: JOIN: Alden Streeter)

From: Gordon Worley (
Date: Sun Aug 25 2002 - 11:35:45 MDT

On Sunday, August 25, 2002, at 12:09 PM, Ben Goertzel wrote:

>>> So, when I sit down to improvise at the piano, as a rationalist
>>> would I
>>> have
>>> to reason about which note to play next?
>> Yes. Playing the next note is a fulfillment of playing the song which
>> is a fulfillment of whatever reason you were playing the piano in the
>> first place.
> But there is no time to consciously reason about what note to play next.
> So I need to choose the next note unconsciously, through an unholy mix
> of
> cognitive and emotional processes...

Rationality is not limited to conscious thought. Thinking rationally in
your unconscious thought is just more difficult because you have to
actual think rationally, rather than watch your thought processes and
correct them if they go astray. This is why further reason why trying
to moderate your irrational thoughts does not work.

> Musical improvisation is intrinsically nonrational. You're appealing to
> reason and emotions at once in music, and reasoning about which note to
> play
> based on a rational analysis of what emotions and thoughts it can be
> expected to evoke, is just not workable. Music theorists have been
> straining in this direction for years with quite limited success.

Maybe it's not possible, I don't know. I can only reproduce music I've
heard; I'm not very good at producing new music. Then again, I haven't
spent much time trying to make new music, so this is about like a kid in
elementary school only loosely rephrasing sentences from his research to
produce a paper because he just doesn't know how to write new sentences
very well, so he gets into the habit of weakly modifying sentences that
he has already read. Same thing when people start programming: they do
cut-and-paste programming for a long time before they can just sit down
at the computer and whip up code to match the algorithm they have
developed (but then most new programmers don't know how to design

At any rate, it may be that musical improvisation requires that you
think faster than rational thought allows. If that's the case, the
quality of the music will suffer compared to well thought out pieces.

>>> I think that nonrational thinking is highly adaptive for me and other
>>> human
>>> organisms. It needs to be kept in balance with rational thought, and
>>> the
>>> different aspects of both rational & nonrational thought need to be
>>> kept in
>>> balance with each other.
>> This sounds like an escape mechanism your brain would use to make sure
>> you don't stop trying to reproduce.
> ??
> Well, I've already reproduced quite a bit. However, I don't think that
> my
> views on the psychology and philosophy of mind have had much to do with
> my
> reproductive behavior.

Your thought process in the original comment we're discussing may be the
result of rationalization to prevent you from giving up the irrational
thinking that makes you continue to try to reproduce assuming you are in
some sense aware that if you stopped trying to reproduce you'd be able
to get more work done towards creating the Singularity.

> Are you trying to say that reproducing is somehow irrational??

It depends on your goals. If reproduction would stop or hinder you from
doing whatever is most right goal to work towards (if your on this list,
that could likely be creating the Singularity), then yes. If the most
right thing for you to do is to pass your genes on (not that improbable
just a few generations ago), then you should take the time to maximize
your ability to reproduce.

>> Gordon will get back to you once he is an AI researcher. I expect
>> Eliezer is creating his AI design to encourage rational thought.
> Hopefully he is not creating his AI design purely by conscious rational
> thought processes, or he will never get there ;)

This is my own AI speculation, but:

I think that in an AI thought that ve is getting feedback on will not
cause a penalty in speed of thought like it does in humans. I can only
direct my attention at one thought process at a time. If I try to focus
on more than one thing at a time, it all falls apart and I get very
confused. A good AI design would allow for parallel analysis of thought
processes rather than preemptive. (Note: Gordon can converse with you
and walk at the same time, since walking doesn't require much if any
attention to do.)

Gordon Worley                     `When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty            said, `it means just what I choose                it to mean--neither more nor less.'
PGP:  0xBBD3B003                                  --Lewis Carroll

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