Re: Conscious machines

From: Jason Joel Thompson (
Date: Sat Nov 25 2000 - 18:20:34 MST

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

What dangers do you perceive?

> 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
> examining
> the statements rather more closely than you might like.

I have no objection to close examination-- in fact, I encourage it.

> 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 disagree. Truth is an important concept, but is it really the only means
by which we should measure personal power? Is truth always the best way to
achieve increased utility (or whatever goal you decide is worthy?) And
further, in the context of this discussion (arbitrarily limiting belief
structures,) truth is a really fluid concept. As far as personal
limitations go, the truth is often what you make it. Believe in your
ability to succeed-- you'll make your own truth. Conversely, self-doubt is
often self-fulfilling. For myself, the goal is optimization, and truth is
often a very valuable means of achieving that-- this is why I often
reference the need for clear observation. Learn your environment-- learn
how the system works, and play the game.

> > I repeat, reject ideology because is false, not on grounds that it is
> > limiting.

I'll repeat my point here for clarity: If Joe holds the belief that he is,
for instance, unable to talk to women, is that a false belief? Certainly
the aspect of JW Betty's ideology that we find limiting is its falsehood--
she's unlikely to really reap any eternal salvation from her refusal to take
a transfusion. However, for many of us (list members) our limiting
ideologies have less to do with religious dogma, and more to do with the
particular kinds of fear that our environment imbues us with. Many of us
hold beliefs that are 'truth-independent'... self-fulfilling bootstraps with
regards to our personal capabilities, our society, etc. This is really what
I'm talking about.

> 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.

Hmm... sorry about that, I -do- get a little enthusiastic. I have been on a
long journey of awakening to my own potential and it has made me very happy.
I guess its sort of hard to talk about these sorts of things without coming
across as Tony Robbins or something. But there is a great truth here-- we
humans have power... and for those of us in the First world at least, there
are endless opportunities to manifest that power (and others, too.) I am a
wee bit of an optimist, I admit it. I do believe there is a way. I'm not
talking about any spiritual, philosophical or psychological magic here
either-- just be awake. Observe that there are people out there who operate
on another level-- who understand their empowerment-- who greedily embrace

This is the sort of conversation I'd like to have in person.

> I just wondered how serious you were.

Oh, I'm serious baby.

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

I'm not entirely sure why you hold that the word "Human" is a belief-- I'm
not sure that that's the context in which I most often hear it used. I call
myself a human, but for me the word simply references my biological status.
Deciding to call yourself NOT-human seems arbitrary-- and if that's
effective for you, then I'm in favor of it. But is that really a 'truer'
ideology, or simply a more effective one? I think we agree here more than
you'd like to admit...

> 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
> that "human" condition/ weakness/ identity is a limiting belief ... and is
> one that can be "stripped away" or at least "seen through".

I'm in favor of this attitude, although as stated I don't think I find the
term "human" to be as attached to limiting ideologies as you do.

> Your exact phrase was "gobbledegook" ..... so either you have made an
> 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
> at
> fault for use clumsy or difficult language.

Sorry, but I found the paragraph in question to be irrelevant, tangential
and impenetrable. I -am- genuinely unable to understand why you introduced
it. We should probably let it drop.

> 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.

Sorry dude, I didn't quite mean it as an insult, but... well, you know how
it goes. I perceived the point in question to be a debate tactic and was
dismissive of it. Ostensibly I hope to discourage that sort of thing, but I
recognize in practice that dismissivness is more-often-than-not

 If that means destroying the credibility of your own banal and
> empty proposition, so be it.

I'm not sure if I've given you enough of a proposition for you to attack its
credibility. Certainly you can attack -my- credibility-- for instance, you
could interview my personal acquaintances in an attempt to challenge my
claims of personal empowerment. Or you could review my social, scholastic
and business performance.

 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.

I believe you, and I'm pleased you've found results.

> >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
> >more informed choice." How do you reconcile these apparently
> >statements?
> The fuller information process does impose a delay, so eliminates certain
> rash implementation. Also we should think how our actions affects the
> "in the round" rather than just the first, selfish, greedy notion that
> strikes us.

I agree and I hope you didn't think I was arguing another position.

By the way, you're hedging, but I'll let it go.

> 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!

That would be a pleasant outcome, although I'm unclear how it might be
achieved in this case.

> We have > infinite-state
> > capability so can think about, or imagine, any environments we want.
> > Leibnitz "all possible worlds."
> >Can we imagine environments we don't want?
> Obviously ..... some people in antiquity invented hell.

Sorry, let me rephrase for clarity: "can we imagine environments we don't
want to imagine?"

> 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.

I don't need any academic literature to know that there are hypothetical
environments that have thus far eluded human imagination.

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

Then let's not call it a theory anymore.

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

Yes, I can see that-- indeed, that very sentence proves it. (Why should I
take this conversation personally? You haven't made it personal.)

You don't need to worry about my feelings unless your intention is to attack
my personality rather than my ideas.


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

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