re: Everything I know is wrong

From: Mitchell Porter (
Date: Wed Jan 04 2006 - 15:26:34 MST

Michael Vassar wrote:

>Maybe psi is real.
>And maybe everything is a simulation or a dream.
>And maybe all of this so called "science" is just Western imperialism and
>jockeying for power.
>And maybe the history our fnord was a lie and fnord
>Or overwhelming memes are just jerking us around.
>Or this instant is the result of a brain appearing complete with memories
>the quantum foam, to cease its existance momentarily.
>Or this email message and its author are the content of a book in Borges

These are all contingencies. I call them "extreme possibilities". If one
thinks that all possible worlds actually exist, or that they all have an
equal a-priori chance of existing, then potentially one can reason about
such possibilities, and factor them into pragmatic strategies. It's the
cognitive equivalent of "adventure investment"; you could make them 1% or 5%
or 10% of your attentional portfolio.

Something which I think *is* unquestionably relevant to this list, is the
issue of what constitutes rationality, for a generic intelligence, with
respect to extreme possibilities. Relying on "the consensus
of modern physics and logic" may be a useful heuristic for humans, but a
superintelligence should have a more nuanced approach.

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