From: Matt Mahoney (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri Aug 17 2007 - 20:07:47 MDT
--- Norman Noman <email@example.com> wrote:
> I can imagine only three things that would limit what we can imagine. First,
> and most obvious, things which are simply too complicated. In this case we
> should still be able to imagine them in rough outline. Second, things which
> are impossible in the fundamental logic of our universe, like 2 + 2 = 5. We
> can certainly imagine the representation of this, but we can't imagine it
> actually being true, because it's incoherent.
> Third, perhaps we have a specific mental block that prevents us from
> thinking about certain things, which is so sophisticated that it defeats all
> attempts to circumnavigate it, and includes its own existence in the set of
> things it prevents us from seeing. This is certainly physically possible,
> but would seem to require the tampering of some very powerful entity.
Mental blocks or biases are fundamental to all machine learning algorithms.
You can't have an intelligent system without them. The most fundamental bias
is to prefer algorithmically simple explanations over complex ones. But this
is not computable. So we have approximations, such as explanations that can
be represented with e.g. linear regression, particular neural architectures,
or finite strings of DNA.
In the case of the human brain, biases are shaped by evolution. Animals that
fear death are more likely to pass on their DNA than those that don't.
Therefore you fear death. Animals that react as if sensory input comes from a
real world with real consequences, as opposed to meaningless bits of data, are
more likely to survive. Therefore you believe that the world is real.
Animals that experiment with their environment learn more than those that
don't. Therefore you believe in free will and consciousness.
Biases like these which are built into the brain override logic. Logic tells
you that the brain is a computer. Logic tells you that it does not require a
consciousness to function. Logic tells you there is no test to distinguish
between an actual consciousness and a belief in consciousness. But your bias
says "I exist". This conflict leads to bizarre conclusions. For example,
uploading. If you make an identical copy of yourself and then the original
dies, then your consciousness transfers to the copy. But what if you don't
die? Which of you is "you"?
So yes, there is a powerful intelligence controlling your thought. It is
evolution. The information content of all the DNA on earth far exceeds that
of your brain. Logic says your brain is a computer. But if you actually
believed it, your DNA would not propagate.
-- Matt Mahoney, firstname.lastname@example.org
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