Re: Superrationality

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Fri May 26 2006 - 10:33:09 MDT

Ben Goertzel wrote:
> Thanks for the reference. The paper is entertaining, in that both
> the theories presented (evidential decision theory and causal
> decision theory) are patently very stupid right from the outset ;-)

EDT and CDT have been the two dominant decision theories, with CDT
having the upper hand, for decades. I agree that both are wrong, but it
is an audacious assertion. I haven't written up my own mathematical
analysis because it would require on the order of a book to put forth an
alternative theory in academia. I just did the analysis for myself
because I needed to know if I had to do any special work in setting up
the initial conditions of an FAI.

> EDT's foolishness is more mathematical in nature (via setting up the
> problem mathematically in a way that ignores relevant information)
> whereas CDT's foolishness is more philosophical in nature

EDT and CDT are precisely symmetrical except in how they compute
counterfactual probabilities.

> (essentially, via introducing the folk-psychology notion of
> "causality" which has no role in rigorous formal analyses of events).

Causality a folk-psychology notion? Judea Pearl begs to disagree with
you, and I beg to agree with Judea Pearl. My own theory is causal in
nature - that is, it uses Pearl's graphs.

> I really think this stuff is not that complicated; but people seem to
> be misled in thinking about it via commonplace illusions related to
> "free will" ...

The answer itself is simple. Justifying it is not.

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

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