Re: Metarationality (was: JOIN: Alden Streeter)

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Sun Aug 25 2002 - 22:53:34 MDT

Ben Goertzel wrote:
> The point I tried to make to Eli is that when a mind wants to apply
> probabilistic reasoning, nothing tells it a priori how to set this
> particular parameter (U), which makes a big difference in the results
> that reasoning gives.
> Using probabilistic reasoning to set the parameter simply leads to a
> regress..
> It could be that there is some basic heuristic for setting U, wired
> into a mind biologically. But I don't think so, I think a mind
> actually adapts its U as time goes on. It basically has to, because it
> has to add new things it discovers in to U. I think that processes
> that are not "rational" in any typical sense are involved in setting
> the contexts used in probabilistic reasoning.

Minds are physical systems. If a mind has a particular U, that U
must have come from *somewhere*. That particular U has a physical cause;
something shaped it. Those shapers will be either rational or irrational
depending on what kind of reliable correspondence they bear to reality.

The Bayesian Probability Theorem is inescapable - it can be applied to
*every* causal system that exists in our universe to determine whether a
given pattern is likely to correlate to any other causes or effects that
exist in outside reality. *Any* causal system, *any* physical process,
not just the ones that we usually consider as "rational" or even "mindful".

If your U is a physical thing, it exists for physical reasons, and the BPT
will govern whether those reasons are such that U is likely to bear any
given kind of correlation to external reality.

You cannot flee from the Tao; you cannot run from the laws of physics;
they govern the very process of your flight...

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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