Re: On the subjective experience of consciousness

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Sun Apr 04 2004 - 15:09:55 MDT

Ben Goertzel wrote:
> So, following up my previous comment: the so-called 'paradox' is not
> really a puzzling aspect of the universe, rather it's an indication that
> two useful vocabularies we've developed for talking about the world
> * physics
> * introspective folk psychology
> are apparently "incommensurable" (in the sense of philosophy of science
> -- meaning there is no reasonably straightforward way to translate
> between their vocabularies)

Physics wins.
Physics always wins.

Once upon a time I made the phlogiston error, the vitalistic error; I saw
an impossible gap and looked for an impossible substance to fill the gap.
  I forgot that there are no mysterious answers, only mysterious
questions. What made this really humiliating is that in the history of
science, this mistake gets made over, and over, and over again, and I made
it *anyway*, just because I was dealing with something that looked really,
really mysterious. Which is the excuse that gets used every time. Oh,
well. I got over it.

Life is a mist of probability amplitudes. Not "merely" a mist of
probability amplitudes. Fascinating and beautiful probability amplitudes,
sometimes probability amplitudes about which we ask mysterious-sounding
questions. The "incommensurable" stuff isn't an illusion, it's as real as
birds and flowers, though harder to see how to translate into the deep
language of the mist. But Nature spoke clouds of amplitude before English
speakers were ever spoken, before our mysterious questions were ever
encoded in the mist of our brains. Mysterious puzzles, misterious
solutions. It's all physics. Physics always wins.

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

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