Re: Wilson's mental hierarchy

Paul Hughes (
Fri, 11 Dec 1998 00:50:05 -0800

"Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" wrote:

> I know perfectly well that the "good
> > > guys" will be operating at level eight and the "bad guys" will be operating at
> > > level one. Wilson is making a moral distinction; I'm making a design distinction.
> >
> > Prove Wilson explicitly makes any kind of moral distinction. That is your assement
> not his.
> I've learned to ignore those kind of requests, in the same way that I started
> ignoring requests for "documentation" when, on two separate occasions, I
> actually dug up the documentation and then had the demander claim he was "too
> busy" to read it.

So your willing to accuse somebody of doing something without providing any kind of proof. And why would you need to dig up any new documentation, when your accusing Wilson of making moral distinctions in text you've already read? Now that's a cop-out.

> My claim is very simple: That there is a humongous amount of bull out there,
> and that the reply "this is bogus" is a valid response, especially to anything
> written in 1977 hippyese.

You won't get any argument from me there. However, what distinguishes the intelligent person from the less mature, is one who can actually tell the difference between the bullshit and the gold when their differences are not so obvious. As a famous philosopher once said, "the universe does not organize itself for the convenience of the human mind".

> Now, if you think there's
> something worth knowing down there, you are welcome to extract it and present
> it in readable language and I will give it my attention.

I have already done so, but you insist on continuing your evasive sleight-of-hand linguistic maneuvering. To repeat a perfect case in point, which you have suspiciously refused to counter - You wrote:

> So, if I dig through the hippie prose, I'll find a claim that the multilevel
> laws of biology and physics are somehow mirrored in the brain? I don' think so.

Of which I responded:

"This is so obvious that I'm quite embarrassed to point out it out to you: Last I checked the brain was made of genetic material, which is itself composed of atoms. Are you telling me that the laws of quantum physics and molecular biology have no bearing on brain chemistry? Are you suggesting that the brain is somehow operating outside the multi-level laws of biology and physics?"

I'm still patiently waiting for your answer.......

> > That is your assumption
> > not his. Your assessment of Wilson is completely ignorant.
> This is the same thing I hear from missionaries. I'm sorry if I don't fully
> appreciate the wonders of whatever it is you're trying to show me, but if you
> want me interested, I want the claims presented in clear language, rational
> justification for anything controversial, and hard evidence for anything
> challenging scientific consensus.

Huh? I have *already* presented as either hard evidence or rational language the work of two scientific pioneers - one in neurophysiology and the other the father of Artificial Intelligence. All of which you or Damien have either conveniently ignored or continued to blast as "bogos".

  1. In 1977, the right brain was still considered linguistically silent, as impressively demonstrated by Roger Perry when seizure patients who had their corpus collosum severed, were unable to describe what their left eye was seeing. These pioneering discoveries won Roger Perry the Nobel Prize in 1981. Are you still suggesting that this 'Nobel Prize winning' research is not hard evidence?
  2. The use of the word "higher" in cybernetic and cognitive science circles was still common in 1977 when discussing complex versus simple modes of computation -- of which your own guru Marvin Minsky used himself in his seminal book 'The Society of Mind'. Higher in the same sense that a corporation is functionally higher than a single employee, or that a beehive is 'higher' (i.e. more complex) than a single worker bee. Oh, and since you are so fond of Douglas Hofstadter, there are several places in his book "Godel, Escher, Bach" where he uses the term "higher" to describe a myriad of different computation processes - of which the hilarious "G.O.D. over Djin" is a classic!

> Flame all you want. It won't get anyone's attention.

Lest we forget, it was you and Damien who decided to flame me first. Up until then I was really enjoying this conversation. Frankly, I'm rather disappointed at the way you've conducted yourself - having successfully managed to take the joy out of what was originally a very engrossing discussion, as well as loose some credibility and respect in my eyes. However I can accept the disillusion as my own fault for having expected more out of you than might be fair. Perhaps at a later time, if we've find ourselves together in a post-singularity matrix, you and I can resume this debate on more equal footing by throwing out the menus and actually eating the food that's being served us.

Paul Hughes