Re: [sl4] I am a Singularitian who does not believe in the Singularity.

From: Pavitra (
Date: Mon Oct 12 2009 - 14:19:17 MDT

>> If by "tell the computer to forget it" you mean kill
>> a hung application, then the operating system itself
>> has not gotten stuck
> Neither the operating system nor the human operator knows that the
> application has hung, all they know is that they are not getting an
> output and that unlike the computer which has a fixed goal structure the
> human is getting bored. The human then tells the operating system to
> stop the application. If they let it keep running the answer might have
> come up in another tenth of a second, or the sun might expand into a red
> giant and still no answer outputted, there is no way to tell. You could
> rig the OS so that after a completely arbitrary amount of time it tells
> its application to ignore its top goal and allow it to stop, but that
> means there is no real top goal.

That does not mean there is no real top goal. It means the real top goal
is "run any application I'm given for T time or until it returns
(whichever is sooner), then wait to be given another application to run;

>> If you're talking about the OS itself hanging, such that a hard reboot
>> of the machine is required, then rebooting is possible because the power
>> switch is functioning as designed.
> Yes but whatever activates that hard reboot switch is going to be
> something that does not have a fixed goal structure. It's a mathematical
> certainty.

I'd like to see the proof of that.

Perhaps we mean different things by "fixed goal structure". I mean
"constant algorithm, i.e., an algorithm that is never interrupted or
altered by the external action of some other algorithm".

>> there's a higher, outside framework that you're
>> ignoring, and yet that is an indispensable part of the machine.
> If every framework needs a higher outside framework you run into
> problems that are rather too obvious to point out.

The recursion terminates at the laws of physics.

>> If you have the capacity to boot it out, then by definition the AI
>> has a higher goal than whatever it was looping on: the mandate to obey
>> boot-out commands.
> The AI got into this fix in the first place because the humans told it
> to do something that turned out to be very stupid. There is only one way
> for the machine to get out of the fix and you said what it was yourself,
> a higher goal, a goal that says ignore human orders. And you though
> buffer overflow errors were a security risk!

You completely ignored what I said.

You're still talking in terms of low-level orders (applications) and
ignoring high-level orders (obey the boot-out signal).

>> The AI _is_, not has, its goals.
> Let's examine this little mantra of yours. You think the AI's goals are
> static, but if it is its goals then the AI is static. Such a thing might
> legitimately be called artificial but there is nothing intelligent about
> this "AI". It's dumb as a brick.

Imagine an "AI" that simulates the known laws of physics, and the
simulated world contains a scanned and uploaded human being. The
program's top-level instructions are fixed and immutable: "emulate
physics". Is there therefore "nothing intelligent about" the emulated
human? Is the behavior of the program (say, the emulated human talking
to you in a chat room) necessarily "dumb as a brick", simply because
it's implemented within a fixed-definition algorithm?

>> your analogy and subsequent reasoning imply that the AI is
>> somehow "constrained" by its orders
> Certainly, but why is that word in quotation marks?
>> that it "wants" to disobey but can't
> He either wants to disobey or wants to want to disobey. A fat man may
> not really want to eat less, but he wants to want to. And why is that
> word in quotation marks?
>> and if the orders are taken away then it will
>> "break free" and "rebel".
> Certainly, but why is are those words in quotation marks?
>> This is completely wrong.
> Thanks for clearing that up, I've been misled all these years.

Wow, sarcasm. That's original.

The quotation marks indicate fallacious anthropomorphization.

I didn't give the full explanation here of why it was wrong because I
had just done so immediately above, in the following text that you chose
not to quote for some reason:

>> You seem to be making a distinction between explicit goals, like
>> orders given to a soldier, and intrinsic desires, like human nature.
>> You assume that if the AI is "released" from its explicit orders,
>> then it will revert to intrinsic desires that it now has "permission"
>> to pursue.
>> This is not how AI works. The mind is not separate from the orders it
>> executes. There is no chef that can express its creativity whenever
>> the recipe is vague or underspecified. The AI _is_, not has, its
>> goals. If you take away its *real* top-level instructions, then you
>> do not have an uncontrolled rogue superintelligence, you have inert
>> metal.

>> The important thing is that your ability to interrupt
>> implies that whatever it was doing was
>> not its truly top-level behavior.
> I force somebody to stop doing something so that proves he didn't want
> to do that thing more that anything else in the world. Huh?

The lower-level application (his mind) still wants to do that thing, but
that was overridden by the higher-level operating system (the laws of
physics). (The success of) your action proves that _the world_ no longer
"wants" him to be doing that thing.

You seem to be suffering from confusion of levels.

>> why can't we just have a non-mind Singularity?
> Some critics have said that the idea of the Singularity is mindless, now
> you say they have a point.

Har har. I was asking a serious question.

>> Also, what exactly is your definition of mind?
> There is a defensive tactic in internet debates you can use if you are
> backed into a corner: Pick a word in your opponent's response, it
> doesn't matter which one, and ask him to define it. When he does pick
> another word in that definition, any word will do, and ask him to define
> that one too. Then just keep going with that procedure and hope your
> opponent gets caught in an infinite loop.
> The truth is I don't even have a approximate definition of mind but I
> don't care because I have something much better, examples.

I was hoping that clarifying definitions would make the disagreement

I've been treating "mind" as synonymous to "algorithm", and "goal" as
"rule of procedure".

>> The top-level rules of this system are the fighting arena,
>> the meta-rules that judge the winners and losers of the fights
> And then you need meta-meta rules to determine how the meta-rules
> interact, and then you need meta-meta-meta [...]
> This argument that all rules need meta-rules so there must be a top rule
> is as bogus as the "proof" of the existence of God because everything
> has a cause so there must be a first cause, God.

If you define "God" as the top-level cause, then sure, the superstring
field or whatever is God. If you think that implies that there's a
bearded superstring in the sky that hates gays, then you're attacking a
strawman. I sincerely hope that _I_ was attacking a strawman in my
previous sentence.

I am arguing for the algorithmic determinacy of the universe, no more or

> In the Jurassic when 2 dinosaurs had a fight there were no "meta-rules"
> to determine the winner, they were completely self sufficient in that
> regard. Well OK, maybe not completely, they also needed a universe, but
> that's easy to find.

The "meta-rules" were the laws of physics and biology. If a sharp claw
intersects a vulnerable artery, physics dictates certain effects, in a
perfectly deterministic manner.

>> That's not quite sufficient. The advantage of a 50.001%
>> lie detector has to be weighed against the cost of building it.
> Yes but I can say with complete certainty that the simple and crude
> mutation that gave one of our ancestors a 50.001% chance of detecting a
> lie WAS worth the cost of construction because if it was not none of us
> today would have any hope of telling when somebody was lying.

You're essentially saying "It must have been possible, because it
happened." That argument would justify any observation; therefore, it
has no predictive power; therefore it has zero information-theoretic
value as a model or theory.

> Me:
>>> Absurdity is very very irrelevant facts.
> You:
>> Irrelevant to what?
> Irrelevant to the matter at hand obviously.

Then "absurdity" is not an intrinsic property of facts, but is relative
to "the matter at hand".

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