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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Why you wouldn't (necessarily) take the million.

This post is in response to the following post:

http://www.overcomingbias.com/2012/01/youd-take-the-million-2.html

Of course, I encourage you to elaborate on any points I may have missed.

The linked thought experiment completely ignores one very important bias, and as such is completely flawed, both in its approach and conclusion. Of course, this is why the site is named Overcoming Bias: so the author can betray his own horribly biased biases to the world. ;) Oh that we might be free of bias; but of course then this blog wouldn't exist, now would it? ;)

Namely, the bias that people will/would cave into greed, and that 1 million dollars would in fact be any sort of enticement. Obviously, for example, if said person is already a millionaire/billionaire/well-to-do, there is no such ridiculous need to sacrifice a dog's life (something imcomparable with, say, an amount of cash).

Of course, I'm not attacking a mere number value, and I realize the idea is that there is a large "opportunity" presented to the hypothetical individual which they must then weigh against the opportunity of a dog's life.

Neither am I saying that there are not greedy people. Of course, there are people who, for various reasons of mental ill-health, over-value things like money (much like any addiction in fact).

But the assumption that something like a million dollars must, in general be valued more than something traditionally sacrosanct, such as a dog's life, has little basis. For a very specific circumstance, yes, there might be someone who does that.

Instead of vaguely citing "morals" (which is not technically incorrect, it merely has a habit of angering those who don't really understand what a moral is, and therefore is better to be avoided for reasons of bias), let me use a couple concrete examples to illustrate why this assumption (that there is significant greed) is absurd:

Let us first assume that the monetary amount is increased to some infinite amount of money. Given that all humans are finite creatures with finite wants/desires, an infinite monetary amount has no more potential use than a certain finite one. The first fallacy is therefore that there is necessarily an amount that can buy an individual's happiness out, by replacing it with "more" happiness/success/contentment, etc.

Secondly, let us assume that, for some reason, the previous statement is untrue, that somehow there is a use for an infinite monetary amount, because, say, the individual in question plans to use an infinite amount of money all at once in an infinite universe, or that they plan on using it on an infinite period of time. There is still the false assumption that an infinite amount of money actually achieves anything; money is nothing more than a number, enforced by actual constraints such as energy, time, life, governance, encryption, etc. etc. The monetary amount itself is not itself a reason, it is what the holder thinks they can do with said amount(something the author loosely hints at, but it is insufficiently explored/mentioned), which is the second fallacy to the argument.

Thirdly, let me present an example in which most people would definitely take the "million". We presume that, from the previous two points, this is infact a practically infinite amount, which has actual purpose. Most people will sacrifice their pet, if they are also presented with the choice between their pet, or, for example, their child. The child is only a convenient example, but is illustrative that what is going on in the individual's mind is not a balance between greed and good, as the author seems to be hinting at, but between two values. If the "greater good" can be satisfied, it will be (the majority of the time). In fact there are a great many examples where such a thing would happen, if a million could be sacrificed instead for charity, than for a single animal, or for the betterment of mankind, etc. Put in this light, it is utterly apparent the absurdity and fallacy that there is necessarily a significant greed that would unerringly end the animal's life.

In conclusion, then, a very specific set of circumstances MUST BE MET in order for this to actually occur. Otherwise there is, generally, no amount of money (1) which can be purposed (2) to generally trump the value (3) of the dogs life. What does this mean? Most people, who have a deep, meaningful, relationship with their pet (high personal value) will not trade the pet in for any amount of money. Some people, who have mental problems, might irrationally over-rate the value of the money, or might be present with circumstances genuinely more valuable than that of their pets lives. Or, they might not truly value their pet's lives, to them they are just another object of affection to dote upon, a moving plushie.

(There you have it. Some real morals, not vague or unsupported citaitions of complex moraligious texts.)

About the only thing I could see invalidating any of this is consistent, objective, field-data indicating most people have an irrational addiction to money. Which would be interesting, I think, but is certainly not implicated or proved by this article.

Which, sadly, means the end conclusion, that we will end up doing things because other people do them, after it is less "weird", is entirely unsupported by this argument. Which is not to say that this conclusion is untrue (I very likely believe it is), but there is no correllation between the example and the conclusion.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Random musings on teleportation and the soul....

I recently have taken to musing over teleportation and the soul. It goes something like this:


If, hypothetically we were able to scan a person, body, mind, mind-state, destroy them, and recreate them elsewhere by transmitting the results of the scans, would you go into such a transporter? Lets say, to make it fun, we throw in the threat of imminent death, because, say, a giant enraged elephant is charging at you, intent on spilling your guts. The teleporter is pretty reliable, you've seen lots of demonstrations of them transporting both living and non-living things.


Depending upon how you answered the previous question, what do you think has just happened to your soul? Assuming we all have one of course. I present a couple possibilities below:

A) Your soul is actually just your mind. You and your soul are scanned, decomposed, and reconstructed on the other side. However, this has a disturbing implication that if we can teleport, we are Gods, since we can apparently (re-)construct souls.

B) Your soul is not located within your body. You connect to your body through the godly internetz which connect you via remote control to your physical body. Interesting theory, but I don't think its entirely cannon with the syllogism that our bodies are temples (if you will) for our souls.

C) Your soul is not of this universe. As such, it doesn't care how fast you go/if you teleport, it just "knows" who you are and latches onto wherever your body happens to be, so it can teleport itself basically. Which begs the question of how your soul knows if you are dead or not, if there's some time your soul hangs around while you're being simultaneously destructed/constructed to see if any of them stay around before you "die" for real (whatever that means, what does death mean then?)

D) Your soul is in fact bound to a single body. Once the original body dies, the soul goes on. Any reconstructed person is in fact no longer "human", at least not in the religious sense. This has disturbing implications from the perspective that these bodies do not have perhaps the same rights, beyond those of basic animal rights (I'm not getting into whether or not animals do or do not have souls of their own).

There are a couple other possibilities which we wouldn't entertain because of beleif in souls/reasonable assumption that teleportation is not evil:

E) There is no soul. There are only bodies and minds. Teleportation as a result has no effect upon them.

F) There is a soul. Teleportation is an evil monstrocity which murders individuals and produces empty human shells.

There's also the "I don't know approach":

G) Its more complicated than that. We have a soul, but not in the traditional mystical sense. It is the identity, but whether or not that identity can be transferred "reliably" is another question. If we understood more about how energy works, perhaps we might understand that the soul/identity of a person can in fact be transferred, because it is closer to energy than we realize, or in fact it cannot, because it does exist but it cannot be replicated without damaging it, or duplicating it incorrectly.

H) Teleportation is impossible for this reason. Teleportation itself is possible in the sense that we can transfer information, but if we could willy nilly recreate stuff then we'd run into the above problems (the argument here seems suspect to me, this seems to be closer to the argument that teleportation is evil than that its impossible...)

Why does this matter at all? Well, because teleportation is in fact something that shares close, close ties with another, much more pressing matter: that of artificial human life.

Technically, we can't reproduce the organs of the human body. But, we can produce robots and metal companions with very, very realistic looks, as well as motions, and interactions. While its true we have to combine all such traits into a single, athletic robot, I think this has more to do with the fact that we're only just discovering such things, and that it takes a while for us to come up with the requisite designs to incorporate everything into one design.

Computationally, we are much, much farther behind. But, there are plenty of efforts underway, plenty of past mistakes we're still learning from, and plenty that indicates that such an effort is not vain. Watson, our trivia-winning robot, Deep Blue, our chess-champion...these are robots that are good at single tasks, and not much else. What they prove is that such feats are possible, not that conscious thought can be replicated. They provide us insight to the all feats we have yet to overcome, logistical or otherwise. And, steps in new directions, are underway, such as IBM's announcment of new brain-module chips, chips that more closely resemble the real thing, namely a brain. Again, its a question of research and practical application, not one so much of theory.

So, if we do create Artificial Intelligence, the next question is whether we can merge it with our own. The dubious current research indicates that we'd likely perform a brain-scan (we have resolution down to the neuron, possibly beyond, at the present moment), and then transfer it to a new "body", one presumably made of metal rather than flesh and blood, or depending upon the advances in genetics/artifical flesh and blood life-form creation technology (unlikely but possible), to a new body of flesh and blood, and then destroy the old body. Much like teleportation.

Which, in the end, is why we must confront this question. If one branch of philosophy believes in a robot revolution, it also believes in the distinct identity of our transferred "selves", whether to a new body, or simply across space to a new teleporter terminal (in fact we may perform the transfer with a teleporter device at a very short range). And, we must confront two questions: Are we ready to die to live? And does our "identity/soul" matter? What happens to it? What do we believe? What are we ready and willing to believe?

I very much hope that the answer lies somewhere in answer G). Because I don't see the future stopping for anyone or anything. And I don't very much enjoy the prospect of being dead, so that another, an different "me" can live on. Perhaps I simply have too much attachment to my body?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A bit about life...

Hey!

I decided this place was useful to ramble on about random stuff about me again.

Twitter, is useless. Because, I don't have time or need to tweet tiny bits of information out. Maybe, if you have something WORTH posting snippets about, but the fact of the matter is most people don't, and if they think they do, they're likely insane or self-absorbed, or both. And, well, Facebook, is well, Facebook, and is the epitome of insanity. (Plus afaik, you can't actually blog on it). And Diaspora is...diversely doing nothing (its easier than it sounds at first), and I don't have time to code my own blog, as much as I might wish to/am capable of it.

No, much better to blab on here where no one is really looking (maybe when i run for president one day ;) ) (and ok, random CIA/FBI agent who is reading this, I guess you are, but I happen to not care what you think)

Topic for today? Hair. Its weird, and I've had quite a diverse range of cuts of it so far. Its amusing to see everyone's reactions to it, and surprising to see how much of an art-form it can be.

Now, I know that I don't care too much about the stuff, and I've recently proved this to myself, but its still entertaining to see people's reactions to the stuff, including my own. I love how I notice my subconscious image changing opinions about myself, and I'm intrigued to see how other people will react in the long run.

To me, both philosophically and personally, image has never and continues not to matter, simply because I've learnt to separate out my personal emotions of vanity from the actualities, not because I'm a pinnacle of un-biased fact. But, other's opinions are, no matter what they claim, decidedly biased. If you don't believe me, observe groups of people, or even yourself, though preferably not your friends, since you are biased to be more lenient to them, and verify that they never make even the tiniest decision based on appearance, under normal circumstances within a reasonable period such as a couple of days. Unless they expend extreme energies to counteract the natural bias which occurs in all of us (which, when energy is a topic of concern, is not a high priority on most people's minds), all human people are hopelessly and absurdly obsessed with appearance.

So, seeing the reactions of others is amusing, much like prodding a colony of ants with food and seeing them react predictably. I'm playing, yes, but can't play be the best form of learning?

Which sort of brings me to a question regarding (not circumferential) the validity of experience. Everything that is, is made up by energies, thought, ideas, patterns, etc.. Some people would like to believe that its human "intention" that counts, and hence dismiss their external "actions" as what really matters. So, they might function in a certain way to appease "society", but hold separate values. However, I think that actions speak louder than ideals. So, even if the joke were supposedly to be on me, with everyone acting in a particular manner as a social nicety, i.e. instead of me gaming the ants, the ants are gaming me, I still think its just as much a valid situation, since the energies expended are just as, if not more real, than the supposed ideals held by the collective individuals. Which again, leads to another interesting question regarding my own ideals, however the question strictly pertains to the actuality of a situation, not what I or any other might think about it.

Enough rambling for now. ^^

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Testing...from Contribute

Weird....posting like this, well its just a test. Got CS3 Master Collection and a tablet for Christmas, thougth I'd try 'em out, and what on earth usefull is this contribute exactly, I HAVE  webbrowser. >_> Hmm, I guess it fits in with the rest of CS3, or something? Like post an entry to one's blog with photoshop? Hmm, interesting idea, however I'm entirely A. that this is practical or B. what exactly is the advantage here, especially when Contributes isn't free. At least last time I checked. Oh well. Random ramble/rant out.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Well, I felt like putting up another post on my blog recently...because of everything that's been going on. Getting suspended from school recently...though unlike what one would normally get suspended for in a normal school the reasons behind this are much more silly and mundane. We're talking really, really silly. Like getting suspended for having supposedly left a curtain open. Literally. Not joking.

Anyhow, that's not why I'm writing this blog entry...in general its been an interesting year, full of new people, stress, idiocy, and other fun stuff. I might have my religion severely challenged once or twice, and being a hormonal teenager/adult adds lots of flavor to the mix.

The problems I have...firstly there are a bunch. I'm not going to list them, because that would be whining a tad too much, this entry is already me whining...and face it, what are blogs where people post opinions? Or whine? Sure there are technical blogs, however they usually amount to little more that how-to guides or personal opinions. The other reason I'm not going to list them, is because they are of the sort, magnitude, and multitude that I shudder to think about them. I don't want to...thinking about one's problems, unless actually in the process of fixing them, is only recipe for depression and self-pity, all the fun emo stuff.

I'm actually riding home in a car as I write this. I guess I might use this place to vent my frustrations...its nice to vent them through writing as well as through verbal. See, on top of the ridiculous grounding and subsequent suspension, I seem to be have been sitting some sort of tinderbox on top of minefield, because things seem to be getting blown out of proportion with my parents talking about pulling me out of school, and talking about me being possibly ADD, or depressed, which, when you think that a curtain started all this, is absolutely laughably ridiculous. Heh, its amusing to even think about. But still, here I am, looking at getting more stressed, have my schedule whacked about again like some sort of punching doll, and driving home. Hopefully for a break from it all.

I guess the Romans really didn't get what they did; I'm not quite comparing myself to Jesus, but they ended up starting something that eventually became a lot bigger than them by executing stupid laws. I'm not saying I'll start a religion this way, but I certainly think that those in charge don't nearly quite get the irony of the situation. I have the urge to point and laugh, laugh really, really hard. >_>

Anyhow, extensive blog that doesn't really say much, I suppose, I have quite the workload to get around to, so I suppose I'd better get around to that.

Snark out.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dreams.....

So, I just had some extremely vivid dreams...which for me I thought was unusual...like I felt like they were real, they looked extremely real, etc. The first, all I remember was that I was going outside.....and it was extremely dark and cloudy, and a man came to me and told me and showed me a series of extremely dark clouds headed my way, and told me how to avoid them etc. I don't remember how anymore, but he did, and I used a tornado I think (I was controlling it through concentration) to remove the clouds. And then for some reason I was dealing with an alien trying to convert humans, and who obvious looked and acted like an an alien, but kept on trying to pass himself off as not an alien. I wish I could draw right about now.....anyhow time to go back to sleep. Nighters!

Hell week, came early?!?

Ah.....so my last post here I think I was whining about having way too many assignments

End of the week, I've nearly got them all done. Though as I write this I have a paper due that needs to be turned in ASAP or I fail the course and possibly get in bunches of trouble with peoples.

So yeah.

Well anyhow I didn't like as for it to be that way.... I didn't ASK to get sick, and I didn't ASK for all my professors to give me way too much to do in one week. Almost Hell Week, not quite I guess. I'm now behind on a number of programming projects, in addition to the projects (all of which are still not finished) I had due this week.

Well...I went to sleep at like 11:00....and I got up about an hour ago at 4:30 ish. Weird. Oh well. At least I got up now instead of later, which is good because I still have that paper to write, and I don't think I had my alarm set -_-

So....I think is the first time I've rambled on my blog, yay. I've done it before (done it to all my friends) but never online quite like this.

But the other big thing going on in my life....being a stalker and now not being one and then my stalkee randomly showing up more than ever before in one day than when I was intentionally stalking (kinda) So yeah everything is just weird...and I wish I knew where she stood...and If I have any chance .

I kinda wanna post a pic...but even I admit that would be way too creepy. I know, draw a picture and get someone to scan it in for me >_> <_<

Well, I got to go get to writing that paper, writing some others, reading, getting mp3s to play in Java, and finishing my editor and starting writing open source java rtp to vnc clients >_>

Later, folks (whomever you may be :) )