Re: Conscious machines

From: Steve (
Date: Wed Nov 22 2000 - 20:03:18 MST

Date: Thu, 23 Nov 2000 12:46:21 -0800
From: "Jason Joel Thompson" <>
Subject: Re: Conscious machines

Hi Steve.

- ----- 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?

I have never said I am against empowerment, only urged caution, and
asfar as I am aware have always argued 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.

It is an important topic, and I just wanted to tease more out of it ... am
not really attacking you, or trying to put words in your mouth, just
the statements rather more closely than you might like.

> 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.)

So what are all these postings .. do you deny their existence?

If you think truth is a more important
goal than utility, make an argument for it.

I thought that is what I have done ... no point in labouring it
too much, it is fairly clear that truth is the better yardstick.

> 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?

What I want to point out is we have to test where the boundaries/ limits are
by staying within them, since mistakes and overstepping might be

> 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.

This is the impression you gave, about all the fantastic changes in your
life &c.

> 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

Banal & obvious .... I was trying to be ironic!

> 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?

I just wondered how serious you were.

>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?

> >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

It is a statement of identity with lot of ideological baggage.
I prefer the neutral "humanoid." "Human" is a belief in the same way
that "posthuman" or "extropian" are beliefs/aims/ideology. Its just
that "human" is more entrenched in the culture, so seems less conjectural.

> >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?

Again, this is my attempt to be ironic at your expense. What I basically
think is that "I" am the authority on my own identity, rather than any
outside observer ... but there is also I feel that the statement is true and
that "human" condition/ weakness/ identity is a limiting belief ... and is
one that can be "stripped away" or at least "seen through".
> 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?

Your exact phrase was "gobbledegook" ..... so either you have made an effort
to comprehend, and rejected it for some rationale or other ... or you are
genuinely unable to understand what it is ... if this is the case I might be
fault for use clumsy or difficult language.

I feel it is important enough, in either case, for me to at least make MVT
more explicit so as to devalue & argue against your "gobbledegook"
insult. If that means destroying the credibility of your own banal and
empty proposition, so be it. I am an unashamed reductionist philosopher
and MVT represents a powerful means of empowerment not just for me, but
for anyone else who cares to apply its findings.

>Also, you just said you don't trust everyone with personal empowerment.
>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

The fuller information process does impose a delay, so eliminates certain
rash implementation. Also we should think how our actions affects the world
"in the round" rather than just the first, selfish, greedy notion that
strikes us.

> >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

We all have loads of knowledge of psychology ... don't be bamboozled
by ivory tower academics and qualified psychologists .. hopefully this
conversation (even putting aside MVT) might empower you a bit!

>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?

No, I agree with the fear thing ... it can become chronic, and I treat lots
of different phobias professionally ... some are really weird.

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?

Obviously ..... some people in antiquity invented hell.

Does the ability to imagine any
>environments we want = ALL possible environments?

There is a big academic literature on "all possible worlds,"
which is too involved and tiresome for discussion here.

> 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
>statements I made. How does this conversation keep getting blown up into
>evangelical proportions?

You insult my theory as "gobbledegook" ... I am just trying to establish
that you have no grounds for this remark.

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

What theory?

Your 4 points towards self empowerment. I use "quote marks" precisely
I don't think your ideology deserves to be thought of as a theory.

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

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

I was the first to *discover* (not invent) MVT back in 1980 .... it is open
falsification by you or anybody else, in fact I try to provoke a challenge
to it
on occasions, or find someone with a better theory, but MVT happens to be

> 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?

No, this is a lifestyle choice .. but their claim that God exists is a truth

> 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?

A fair question. I make the distinction between *internally generated*
(hallucinated) mentation and *externally originating* real virtuality ...
in non-jargon, if you speak out load, even to yourself, the voice you hear
is not "hallucinated" in the way that a purely internally generated
of your voice is. Such hallucinations (dreams, thought) are mundane, and
nothing to worry about though .....

> 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.

Disagree ... the important thing is to decide the boundaries
for our personal empowerment ... both of us agree that in broad, banal
terms it is a good thing ... I am interested in the praxis more than the

Don't take this conversation too personally ... I am a professional arguer.

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