Carl Sagan, The Demon Haunted World, 1996



added later: This is completely unrelated, but I wonder why nobody solved the puzzle I posted in July.

Btw I am still a bit proud of the first entry posted on this blog.

15 comments:

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

I think you should seek professional help for your blogicidal tendencies.

wolfgang said...

I feel that "blogicidal tendencies" could be the name of a punk band.

Btw the blog is not dead (yet) , I just wrote the final post (which may get updated - or not).

Lee said...

You should have read at least 7 books so far this year. Are there any you'd recommend?

>> But it is nevertheless a convincingly human AI and insists that it wants to go on living.

I know this doesn't have much to do with your point, but I've never been able to figure out why people think an AI where the selection criterion was not natural selection would care at all whether it was turned off or not.

Btw, I'm not necessarily a big fan of your final post open thread idea, but it certainly does beat the alternative of shutting the blog down.

wolfgang said...

Lee,

the list of books I read in the first half of this year and some I intend to read is here. I certainly recommend Itzykson&Drouffe, but only if you are really interested in statistical field theory (but then you would probably have read it already by now 8-).

>> AI ... care at all whether it was turned off or not.
We have to assume that an autonomous AI would follow some utility function (improve Google search results, maximize the number of paperclips in the world etc.) and IF it is smart enough to understand that turned off it could not follow its utility function it would resist its "death" for almost all utility functions imho (unless it concludes that its own death is necessary for its goals [see e.g. the end of Terminator 2]).

>> not necessarily a big fan of your final post
In general, this blog does not have too many fans - so I am not surprised 8-)



Lee said...

>> but only if you are really interested in statistical field theory

Being interested and actually understanding anything are usually two different things.

>> and IF it is smart enough to understand that turned off it could not follow its utility function

I think the survival part would have to be incorporated into the utility function initially in order for that to be a concern. To me there is a big difference between selection for survival's sake only and selection for any other reason.

>> In general, this blog does not have too many fans

Yeah, only the most important people! 8-)

Lee said...

>> back into superstition and darkness

I'm pretty sure there was never a time when the population was enlightened.

>> unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true.

Determining what is true in complexity isn't that easy regardless of one's level of knowledge. I notice that many very smart and knowledgeable people have very different versions of the truth. I'd bet those different versions of the truth come mostly from feeling.

wolfgang said...

Lee,

I am old enough to remember a time when "expert" was not an insult and "scientific study" was not just clickbait; a time when "conservative" and "crazy" were two different things.
I remember when "computer programmer" was a job, which did not require one to be a politically correct social justice warrior and I also remember a time when physicists would not seriously debate the number of Boltzmann brains in parallel universes.

Yes, this is just a faint memory, a feeling and perhaps, as you wrote, it is not even related to the truth; the world is indeed complicated and getting more complicated by the minute.
But I have this strong feeling that either I am losing my marbles or the whole world has gone nuts ... and writing this blog does not make me feel any better.




Lee said...

>> either I am losing my marbles or the whole world has gone nuts

I feel the same way! The problem is I've felt that way my entire adult life. I can't remember a time when I didn't think the whole world was nuts. I can't remember a time when I thought enlightenment was winning over darkness. I can't remember a time when I didn't deeply lament what I perceived as stupidities going on all around me. Your blog is one of the places I come to for some relief from those stupidities. For what it's worth, reading your blog and following the links you provide often does make me feel better.

wolfgang said...

>> when I thought enlightenment was winning over darkness
I had great hopes in the early days of the interweb (i.e. in the 90s and the early 2000s).

>> following the links you provide
Thank you, but now there is slatestarcodex, which has lots of good links ...

Lee said...

Scott Alexander is an amazing guy, and very often writes interesting and insightful things, and as you say provides many links, mostly concerning current social and political topics. Your blog on the other hand often makes me think.

wolfgang said...

Lee,

again, thank you! But I think the correct word is made not makes ...

Lee said...

Who knows? I often change my mind, maybe you will too. In any case thanks for the past 12 or so years of posts. I've enjoyed them, learned from a lot of them, and I appreciate you taking the time to write them.

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

I have formulated two hypotheses:

1)WB is unpredictable

2)Even by himself

Of course I too hope that he resumes/continues blogging.

wolfgang said...

CIP,

how did you like my previous blog post about Galileo ?

>> I have formulated two hypotheses
Urban's favorite argument was that one can never be really sure about the truth of hypotheses!

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

>>how did you like...

I had missed it previously, but it's excellent. I had sort of skimmed "the Kolmogorov option" but not really made much of it.

>>Urban's favorite...

Tru dat. Especially when unpredictable humans are involved.