RE: This is SL4. This is SL4 on drugs. Any questions?

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Mon Sep 09 2002 - 12:05:31 MDT

> All,
> I would like to recommend dropping the thread.
> SL4 is a list about machine intelligence and
> while the neuropsychology and sociology
> of psychedelia and entheogenic experimentation
> is a fascinating subject it's just not an appropiate
> topic in a forum where the moderator is both
> ignorant and willfully so of the firsthand effects
> of the substances. (No offense Eliezar).
> Get a PhD in psychology, a decade of intense
> meditation, and a lifetimes experience with entheogens
> and perhaps you might be qualified to vouchsafe
> a quality opinion. Otherwise it's just so much
> memetic backwash.
> Let's drop the subject shall we?

I have no particular emotional vesting in continuing the thread.

However, I want to stress that I *do* consider it relevant to SL4 topics.

Also, I don't think the topics on the list need to be narrowly dictated by
the particular experiences of the moderator. I don't think that's what
Eliezer wants.

Next, I don't have a psych PhD, a decade of intense meditation or a
lifetime's experience with entheogens. But I spent a couple years as a
psych prof, a few years on and off experience with psychedelics, and a
decade and a half of semi-consistent meditation. So I'm not your ideal
expert on the topic, but I do know what I'm talking about.

I stick by my intuition that psychedelics can provide an alternate way of
looking at the universe, a perspective outside the normal states of
consciousness .. a glimpse of something *beyond* the human mind. They can
also be used just to get one's jollies, to do nasty things to other peoples'
minds, etc. etc.

The Singularity is going to be far further beyond the ordinary human
mind-state than psychedelics permit, of course. But that doesn't mean the
psychedelic experience can't give us some clues.

One concrete point I'll make in this direction has to do with what I used to
call "the melting of the self." Way back before I ever heard of Vinge or
his Singularity notion, it occurred to me that technological advance was
likely to lead to the dissolution of the psychological structure we call the
self. Post-Singularity, individuality as we know it may become very
uncommon. A large percentage of our individuality is tied to our
embodiment. When you have access to sensors over a very wide swath of
physical reality -- in many cases sharing these sensors with other minds --
your sense of individuation may cease to exist altogether.

Another point has to do with the "proprioception of thought." So much of
human psychology is grounded in the fact that we can't introspectively
observe our own mental processes except in certain cases and with severe
distortions. (The fact that introspection is badly distorted has been
demonstrated by many psychological studies, e.g. on mental arithmetic --
people think they know how they do mental arithmetic, but studies of the
timing of their various operations suggest otherwise). An AGI will have far
greater thought-proprioception than we do. The consequences of this for
psychology are astounding. We humans are basically built to fool ourselves,
because we can't see the majority what we're doing inside our minds most of
the time. Now, an AGI won't be able to study all of its own thought
processes constantly, but it will be able to do so at its own discretion....

In my experience with LSD, way back when, I had direct experience of

a) existing & thinking in the absence of the "individual self" psychological
b) directly observing (probably with immense distortion) many aspects of my
mental process that were normally opaque to me

I'm NOT claiming that psychedelics allowed me to see into the
post-Singularity mode of being. However, I'm suggesting that they *did* at
least allow me to dip into some interesting parts of the domain of
not-ordinary-human-consciousness. And this gave me a MUCH better intuitive
feel than I'd had previously, for the arbitrary and limited nature of the
ordinary human mind & state of mind...

We need to remember, the Singularity is not primarily about technology.
Technology is the enabler, but the really dramatic thing is that a totally
new and fantastic set of states of conscoiusness are going to arise.

-- Ben G

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