Re: Conscious machines

From: Jason Joel Thompson (
Date: Thu Nov 23 2000 - 13:46:21 MST

Hi Steve.

On reading your replies, I am increasingly struck by the sensation that you
are having some sort of imaginary argument. Evidence of this is to be found
in the mysterious spontaneous arguments you continue to construct on my
behalf (and yours.) Let's take a look and see:

----- Original Message -----
From: "Steve" <>

> >Can we agree that even in the absence of
> >purely predictable/deterministic properties, we, as cognizant beings, can
> >proceed anyway, and musn't be paralyzed with indecision?
> Indeed, but nor should we be too rash ... I am arguing for balance, not
> one side or the other on this empowerment question....

Did I miss something? When did you heretofore argue for balance?

> >The point remains: we should
> >try to remove the genuinely limiting ideologies.
> Yes, but this point is so banal and obvious, we all do it anyway. The
> is in the detail.

I absolutely agree that the point is banal and obvious. You're debating
some sort of mythological argument I never actually made. I'm not really
saying very much.

> >The point remains:
> IF
> >an ideology limits an individual from increasing utility, THEN it should
> >stripped away.
> >Read that sentence again, carefully.
> You do love to generalise ... I am trying to inject some gritty reality
> your speculations because I hate generalisations, particularly in
> philosophy.

Dude, you gotta start somewhere. You might prefer bottom/up, but why don't
you form some good arguments as to why top/down is bad? You're introduction
of "
gritty reality" is an attack on specifics and I'm just trying to say: the
above is a valid generalization! Who are you arguing against?

> I think a better way of evaluating ideological propositions might be on
> TRUTH value .... utility is an even more nebulous quantity, and my utility
> might be to your detriment.

Uh, *I* said -everyone's- utility (but we can't be sure that you're actually
having this conversation with me.) If you think truth is a more important
goal than utility, make an argument for it.

> I repeat, reject ideology because is false, not on grounds that it is
> limiting.
> True beliefs, such as that I am not superman or batman, are limiting, but
> work.

Are you purposefully missing my use of the term 'limiting?' I thought I had
made it clear that my usage is in reference to limiting utility. Are you
aware that I proffered that clarification in my last post?

> You are generalising from the particular in the same way that an
> Christian gives their testimony .... Hallelujah, I have been saved, accept
> God and
> the same can happen for you ....

You interpreted my comments as an evangelical exhortation? Wow, I'm
impressed. This person you're arguing against must be saying some pretty
radical stuff.

> Great, it works for you (or you have convinced yourself that it does
> by auto-suggestion, same thing) and you wish to share this "revelation".

Revelation? I thought we agreed that it was banal and obvious. Which is

> Problem is, your formulae contains nothing new, is just an naive
> exhortation
> to "optimise."

Exactly. So what formula are you talking about? What is the 'it' to which
you refer above? Did you interpret my list of four points as a diatribe on
the detailed means by which one could successfully empower themselves?
Curious, I had intended to make a few general and obvious comments.

 NLP is a huge system about remodelling & changing your
> meta-programming, getting rid of outworn habitual behaviour &c. What are
> you saying that adds to this?

Nothing at all. Strangely, I don't really have an agenda. Or a formula.
As I thought I'd made clear, for me it was simply making a decision.
Simple, small, naive, banal, obvious-- all of those things. I'm not talking
about some sort of rapturous transformation here. I have a very general
intention: observe, improve. You seem to want to make my comments bigger
than they are so you have something to rail against.

> Glad that I am continually forcing you to modify and qualify your

Actually, you're not Steve. My position is the same. What you've done is
forced me to explain to you in aching detail what I meant by my very general
comments. That's just because, in search of an argument, you've engaged in
semantic game-play over my use of the term 'limiting.' For most, the phrase
"strip away limiting ideological garbage," is self-evident. (And very
small, and banal, etc, etc, etc.)

> >What is a human?
> One of your so-called limiting belief structures .....

You saying that doesn't make it so. Let me make my question more clear: to
what do we refer when we use the word: "humans." How is the word "human" a

> >What is it about -you- that makes you "not-a-human?"
> I have stripped away this limiting belief. Ha!

But, I thought you weren't interesting in stripping away limiting beliefs...
just false ones. Is your belief that you are not human a 'truer' belief?

> > Not a problem I have. I just don't altogether trust everyone else with
> >Ah, I see. You don't trust other people who might empower themselves.
> Fair
> >enough. So what's your strategy then? Is it your intention to prevent
> >other individuals from embracing rational self-empowerment?
> No, just to try and present them with fuller information so as to make
> a more informed choice. Shame that you refuse to comprehend MVT, but
> that is no loss to me ....

Who said I refuse to comprehend MVT? I haven't even thought about it...
we're a far cry away from me forming the deliberate intention to
NOT-comprehend it. Are you sure you aren't having a parallel conversation
with someone else?

Also, you just said you don't trust everyone with personal empowerment. Now
you say you want to: "present them with fuller information so as to make a
more informed choice." How do you reconcile these apparently contradictory

> >More likely its fear-- and the longer that Joe perpetuates this belief
> >structure, the less likely that he'll actually sit down and do something:
> >write his book, say hello to someone nice. If he's lucky, he'll get
> knocked
> >out of this negative attractor state by a major situational modifier.
> Are you attempting to use psychobabble jargon to enhance your
> own authority here?

Uh, I dunno. Is that what it looks like to you? If so, I retract all
statements that appear to be a contrivance designed to demonstrate
authoritative knowledge of human psychology. I don't have any such
knowledge. All I know is that some people are limited by fear. Some people
get stuck in negative attractor states. Sometimes, big things happen that
get people out of negative attractor states. Have I said something
controversial or un-intuitive here?

> >For instance, I'm totally incapable of recognizing how your above
> >invalidates (or even remotely addresses) my statement that: "Environments
> >have decreased relevancy to our existence if we don't actually get to
> >"mentally interface" with them."
> "Mentally interface" presumably means "think about them."

How have you drawn this presumption? You have been following -this-
discussion, right? If so, you're aware that "mentally interface" are terms
you introduced and I made use of as a means to describe how we interact with
reality. If you want mentally interface to mean something else, then it's
not what we're talking about.

We have
> infinite-state
> capability so can think about, or imagine, any environments we want. Cite
> Leibnitz "all possible worlds."

Can we imagine environments we don't want? Does the ability to imagine any
environments we want = ALL possible environments?

> >In fact, to my painfully addled intellect, your above paragraph appears
> >be an attempt at tangential obfuscation by authority-- and seems to
> >demonstrate an unwillingness to agree with (or engage) a relatively
> >innocuous statement.
> What makes you say only "relatively" innocuous.
> What potential dangers do you see?

Dunno. Added the word relatively reflexively. I don't actually see any
dangers, frankly.

> See points I made previously. You cannot deny that our brains are (1) E-1,
> or
> (2) are self-organising, or (3) are infinite-state (as opposed to mu- or
> finite-state.

I don't deny these things, I just utterly fail to see their relevance to the
statements I made. How does this conversation keep getting blown up into
evangelical proportions?

> MVT is based on scientifically repeatable experiments and observations
> from nature. Your "theory" is just a personalised lingoistic

What theory?

> MVT does explain the mechanisms of all mentation, including dreams.

That's nice. So... -you're- the one with the theory, right?

> But, as pro-science Extropians and what-not, we automatically
> are proposing a future radically at odds with the Amish vision ....
> and therefore must be able to make a strong case for advancement
> rather than comfortable stasis (along with its limiting, religious

I thought you weren't interested in removing limiting beliefs, just false
ones? Is it 'false' for the Amish to believe that a simpler life will make
them happy?

> There are various depths of trance .. from wakefulness, through daydreams,
> to deep catatonic somnambulism. But, yes, all mentation is "hallucination"
> even if fairly mundane such as the hallucination of our internal voice
> (thought).

Why is "hallucination" a useful concept here? What is the alternative?

> MVT explains this (naturally, I would say that,but happens to be the

Why did we even start talking about MVT?

> > let me ask you a question ...
> > I can use MVT to devise new types of hypnotic induction (mind control).
> > Should I use these techniques to promote my own agenda or not?

...oh yeah, you wanted to talk about using it to control people's minds...

> Sure, I will be very beneficent, and put them in a "better" state of mind.
> More people will be happier, therefore you think I should do it?

If more utility results (and this is debatable,) then, yes, you should do

> >So, if you're asking, do I agree with ALL forms of personal empowerment,
> my answer is a definitive no. I'm a big fan of lots of them, however.
> Aha, so you are building qualifiers into your initial statement.

Again, I'm only doing so to appease your need for semantic nit-picking. In
real life, I don't need to go around saying things like: "I love ice-cream!
Except for stuff that's been sitting out for 6 weeks, turned brown, and
begun to emit a foul stench." With you it's like: "I'm in favor of personal
empowerment! Except the kind of empowerment where someone uses their
god-like mental powers to turn the rest of us into mindless zombies."
It's silly.

> By the way, MVT is the way to make conscious machines , so I changed
> the thread name again .. sorry for any confusion.

Dude, -what- agenda are you pursuing here? And how did -I- end up being
your guinea pig? MVT is the way to make conscious machines, so that's the
thread name now? Hang on a second... are you turning me into a mindless

How did this thread end up in a discussion of your theories on mind-control,
hallucinatory mentation or conscious machines?

It seems you've seized on my innocuous comments as a possible platform for
the expression of some of your ideas. I have no objection to the expression
of your ideas, but dude, you've re-invented my comments into some sort of
comprehensive evangelical personal empowerment theory as a potential
adversary for your own constructs-- and... well, I'm not particularly
interested in playing that role.

Let's take my simplistic comments at face value: the basic exhortation to
optimize (as un-useful as that may be,) and leave me out of the rest of
this... uh... -stuff.-

(I am fully cognizant of the fact that while clear reckoning and simple
determination was effective in my case, your mileage may vary.)



::jason.joel.thompson:: ::founder::

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:50:30 MDT