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Discussion Tree: State of Animal Rights Debate

I began organizing the current state of the animal rights debate into a discussion tree diagram. I started with Peter Singer because he's a well known intellectual with pro animal rights writing. I will update the diagram or create additional diagrams if some pro animal rights people point me to literature which addresses my unanswered arguments and questions, or make important arguments in the comments below. I hope they'll do that. I prefer pointers to specific parts of literature unless someone wants to first concede that key arguments for animal rights haven't been written down anywhere (and explain why they haven't been).

The diagram is just an outline. For details about a particular part, ask in comments below. The diagram is meant to show (a piece of) the structure of the debate/discussion. It selectively focuses on points Singer raised and points I consider important. I'm sure other people have written relevant things, but I don't know where to find that, I've done some Bing searches unsuccessfully, and I have other research priorities (such as how to have a rational discussion – this is an experiment for that purpose). My relevant expertise is primarily about epistemology, software and science, not the animal rights literature. I've debated ~25 people on these issues but they typically bring up sources like a YouTube video about how an animal did something that seems intelligent to them.

Click the diagram to expand or view the PDF for selectable text. The source links are clickable in the PDF and are Animal Liberation and Animal Liberation at 30.


Update: I explain more of my position, and do some research, in the comments below, and in Discussion about Animal Rights and Popper

Update 2: I wrote Animal Rights Issues Regarding Software and AGI


Elliot Temple on November 13, 2019

Comments (129)

You actually believe that a vegetable is somehow smarter than a Dolphin?


Anonymous at 11:14 AM on November 14, 2019 | #14340 | reply | quote

#14340 can you quote what makes you think that Elliot believes a vegetable is smarter than a dolphin?


Anonymous at 12:25 AM on November 15, 2019 | #14348 | reply | quote

#14348 Lad, look at the last 2 boxes.


Anonymous at 11:37 AM on November 16, 2019 | #14349 | reply | quote

Anonymous at 11:43 AM on November 16, 2019 | #14350 | reply | quote

Doing some more searches today about this stuff. The most relevant material I found is this crap:

http://natureinstitute.org/pub/ic/ic1/robots.htm

> What artificial intelligence researchers like about insects is their supposedly simple, rule-based intelligence. This is odd, however, since it is the human being, not the insect, who has gained the ability to think in a rule-driven manner.

and

> In the first place, no one would be so foolish as to claim that an insect obeys rules in any literal sense. Certainly there is no conscious obedience going on, nor even a conscious apprehension of rules. At most one might say that the insect has rules of behavior somehow "built in" to it, which it must follow.

The article leaves me doubting that the author can code. I didn't find any arguments worth adding to my discussion tree.


curi at 1:58 PM on November 18, 2019 | #14369 | reply | quote

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/animals/rights/rights_1.shtml

This page gives some counter arguments against animal rights, then doesn't even try to argue why they're wrong. And it mentions something I saw elsewhere too:

> The French philosopher Rene Descartes, and many others, taught that animals were no more than complicated biological robots.

So the view I'm trying to find arguments against – that animals are complicated biological robots – was known long before we had computers and long before Singer's 1973 article. So it shouldn't be too hard to find a rebuttal to it from some animal rights advocate, right? But so far I haven't found one (let alone what I really want: a rebuttal that has a modern scientific understanding of computation, physics, etc.).


curi at 2:28 PM on November 18, 2019 | #14370 | reply | quote

I checked Singer's *Animal Liberation* book. It has no discussion of computation. It mentions robots twice:

> We also know that the nervous systems of other animals were not artificially constructed—as a robot might be artificially constructed—to mimic the pain behavior of humans. The nervous systems of animals evolved as our own did, and in fact the evolutionary history of human beings and other animals, especially mammals, did not diverge until the central features of our nervous systems were already in existence.

This doesn't make sophisticated, nuanced, detailed or scientific arguments. Yes there are evolutionary reasons (rather than artificial reasons chosen by an intelligent designer) that animals have informational signals related to physical damage, algorithmically factor this into their behavior, and also that behavior includes communication with other animals. That doesn't tell you that animals aren't robots. It doesn't tell you that they can suffer. It makes evolutionary sense without suffering. Singer continues in the next sentence by showing he doesn't think about the issues in the way a robot programmer would:

> A capacity to feel pain obviously enhances a species’ prospects of survival, since it causes members of the species to avoid sources of injury.

Getting the information and computationally processing the information is useful. That doesn't mean the animal has a mind, can suffer, feels pain in the sense that humans do, etc. Singer continues:

> It is surely unreasonable to suppose that nervous systems that are virtually identical physiologically, have a common origin and a common evolutionary function, and result in similar forms of behavior in similar circumstances should actually operate in an entirely different manner on the level of subjective feelings.

But subjective feelings are (arguably, at least, and Singer doesn't refute this) an aspect of minds not nerves.

> In theory, we could always be mistaken when we assume that other human beings feel pain. It is conceivable that one of our close friends is really a cleverly constructed robot, controlled by a brilliant scientist so as to give all the signs of feeling pain, but really no more sensitive than any other machine. We can never know, with absolute certainty, that this is not the case. But while this might present a puzzle for philosophers, none of us has the slightest real doubt that our close friends feel pain just as we do. This is an inference, but a perfectly reasonable one, based on observations of their behavior in situations in which we would feel pain, and on the fact that we have every reason to assume that our friends are beings like us, with nervous systems like ours that can be assumed to function as ours do and to produce similar feelings in similar circumstances.

This is similar to the comments in the articles that I already have in the discussion tree.


curi at 3:03 PM on November 18, 2019 | #14372 | reply | quote

Singer on Descartes

To his credit, in his book, Singer does respond to Descartes. I haven't read the relevant Descartes material to check how accurate this is.

> Under the influence of the new and exciting science of mechanics, Descartes held that everything that consisted of matter was governed by mechanistic principles, like those that governed a clock. An obvious problem with this view was our own nature. The human body is composed of matter, and is part of the physical universe. So it would seem that human beings must also be machines, whose behavior is determined by the laws of science.

> Descartes was able to escape the unpalatable and heretical view that humans are machines by bringing in the idea of the soul. There are, Descartes said, not one but two kinds of things in the universe, things of the spirit or soul as well as things of a physical or material nature. Human beings are conscious, and consciousness cannot have its origin in matter. Descartes identified consciousness with the immortal soul, which survives the decomposition of the physical body, and asserted that the soul was specially created by God. Of all material beings, Descartes said, only human beings have a soul. (Angels and other immaterial beings have consciousness and nothing else.)

> Thus in the philosophy of Descartes the Christian doctrine that animals do not have immortal souls has the extraordinary consequence that they do not have consciousness either. They are, he said, mere machines, automata. They experience neither pleasure nor pain, nor anything else. Although they may squeal when cut with a knife, or writhe in their efforts to escape contact with a hot iron, this does not, Descartes said, mean that they feel pain in these situations. They are governed by the same principles as a clock, and if their actions are more complex than those of a clock, it is because the clock is a machine made by humans, while animals are infinitely more complex machines, made by God.[24]

> This “solution” of the problem of locating consciousness in a materialistic world seems paradoxical to us, as it did to many of Descartes’s contemporaries, but at the time it was also thought to have important advantages. It provided a reason for believing in a life after death, something which Descartes thought “of great importance” since “the idea that the souls of animals are of the same nature as our own, and that we have no more to fear or to hope for after this life than have the flies and ants” was an error that was apt to lead to immoral conduct. It also eliminated the ancient and vexing theological puzzle of why a just God would allow animals—who neither inherited Adam’s sin, nor are recompensed in an afterlife—to suffer.[25]

While my conclusions have partial overlap with Descartes (as presented here by Singer), I certainly don't agree with most of that. I'm an atheist who respects modern science. Sadly, Singer here isn't making arguments to refute a modern, scientific viewpoint with some similar claims as Descrates'.

It looks to me like Singer ought to have investigated computers more but didn't. But the primary important thing is whether any pro animal rights people have done that. I still expect that some have tried, but I haven't found that literature yet.


curi at 3:10 PM on November 18, 2019 | #14373 | reply | quote

Paper: Why animals are not robots

This paper actually proposes three categories. It differentiates humans, animals and robots. It doesn't equate humans with animals.

What does it claim is different about animals and robots? From the full text:

> Humans are not robots, robots are not animals, and animals are not humans. Cognitively, humans, robots and animals belong to three distinct categories.[1] In contemporary discussions of expertise, the assumption, however, has been to assimilate humans-acting-as-animals and other living organisms (LOs) with machines (e.g. Collins 2010). Obviously, animals do not conform to traditional ideas of expertise (Collins 2011), so why problematize that animals are lumped together with machines in the contemporary science of expertise?

It opens by suggesting, with cites, that the literature generally groups animals with robots/machines (as I do). Its position is dissent from that.

> The complexity of organisms, the heterarchical purposeful, gravity centred organisation (in which ‘gravity’ is a metaphor for the inevitable self-sustenance), clearly demarcates organisms from machines. Robots are not qualitatively ‘the same’ as LOs, nor are they just simpler versions.

These aren't scientific or computational arguments, so they aren't what I'm looking for. There are two arguments. I'll respond to them:

1) Greater complexity is quantitative, not qualitative difference, so I disagree with that argument.

2) That's the only use of "heterarchical" in the paper and the word doesn't appear in the 8 dictionaries I checked. Wikipedia says:

> A heterarchy is a system of organization where the elements of the organization are unranked (non-hierarchical) or where they possess the potential to be ranked a number of different ways.

Robot software can do that.

I think the thing about metaphorical "gravity" means that robots and animals have different design goals. Sure but that doesn't necessarily make their physical characteristics, after being designed and created, different in relevant ways. (For simplicity, in this paragraph I treat biological evolution metaphorically as a designer.)


curi at 3:32 PM on November 18, 2019 | #14375 | reply | quote

Project Status

I'm done searching for relevant literature for now. I'll contact some animal rights advocates, e.g. on reddit, and see what they say, especially if they can direct me to relevant literature (including blog posts, but preferably not ad hoc forum comments). I'll hold off on updating the discussion tree until after that. I don't have much to add yet anyway, probably just brief comments with two nodes (one for Singer and one for my comment). It'd be be the Singer Descartes stuff and Singer robot stuff.

When I update the discussion tree I'll keep the originals available in the post and add the new tree too. I won't replace the original tree.


curi at 3:37 PM on November 18, 2019 | #14376 | reply | quote

Forum Posts

https://www.reddit.com/r/AnimalRights/comments/dyc77w/seeking_proanimal_rights_literature/

https://www.reddit.com/r/vegan/comments/dyccjq/seeking_proanimal_rights_literature/

https://vegtalk.org/science-philosophy-religion/seeking-pro-animal-rights-literature-t85767.html

https://www.happycow.net/forum/animal-rights/seeking-pro-animal-rights-literature/5284

Pending review at https://animalpeopleforum.org/

(Slightly edited the remark about Reddit at the end for the non-reddit sites.)

# Seeking Pro-Animal Rights Literature

I a philosopher (and programmer) attempting to research and diagram arguments relating to animal rights. I'm looking for help finding literature with certain types of pro animal rights arguments.

What I've done so far:

https://curi.us/2240-discussion-tree-state-of-animal-rights-debate

I'm skeptical of animal rights but I'm trying to deal with the issues in an objective, truth seeking way. The types of arguments I'm looking for are specified in the diagram. I want arguments that would allow me to add more nodes to the diagram.

The main thing I'm looking for are arguments relating to modern science and computation which rigorously differentiate animals from robots controlled by software. I would expect the author to be a skilled programmer who agrees that brains are computers, understands computational universality, has something substantive to say about the difference between non-AGI algorithms and intelligence, acknowledges and specifies many types of non-intelligent algorithms (e.g. A* and everything else used in current video games), and then gives some scientific documentation of specific animal behaviors and why they can't be accounted for with non-intelligent algorithms.

I've searched a bunch and haven't been able to find this so far.

Rigorous, modern, scientific arguments that brains are not computers would also be relevant. Arguments for dualism could be relevant too. Arguments against my epistemology (Critical Rationalism) could also be relevant. I'd prefer arguments which specifically relate to nodes in my discussion tree diagram.

Academic papers are fine. Books are fine. Paywalls are fine. Nothing is too technical or detailed. But those aren't requirements, e.g. serious blog posts are OK too. I'm not very interested in people writing ad hoc rebuttals in Reddit comments. If you want to debate me personally, see https://elliottemple.com/debate-policy


curi at 4:25 PM on November 18, 2019 | #14377 | reply | quote

Ask Yourself Discord

I posted this to the Ask Yourself discord (He's a vegan YouTube debater https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQNmHyGAKqzOT_JsVEs4eag ). I'm currently streaming on Twitch. The video will be posted to YouTube later.

I’m a non-vegan philosopher (and programmer) attempting to research and diagram arguments relating to animal rights. I'm looking for help finding literature with certain types of pro animal rights arguments. What I've done so far: https://curi.us/2240-discussion-tree-state-of-animal-rights-debate

I’m trying to proceed in an organized, objective, truth seeking way. I’m looking for pro animal rights literature (anything from serious blog posts to academic papers) making certain arguments, particularly arguments that will add additional nodes to my diagram. The type I’m most seeking is someone who is familiar with both modern science and programming arguing that animals are not like robots running software consisting of non-AGI algorithms. I found arguments like that were missing in Singer (where I started) and didn’t find anything promising after searching. Could people here help with this project?


curi at 4:57 PM on November 18, 2019 | #14378 | reply | quote

Ask Yourself discord link: https://discord.gg/dUPFfby


curi at 5:13 PM on November 18, 2019 | #14379 | reply | quote

I looked at the *Fellow Creatures* book a bit because someone on Ask Yourself discord replied suggesting it. It didn't seem to have anything addressing my arguments. The person somehow hadn't noticed my diagram or that I brought up computers.

Also I got banned on Ask Yourself for being too slow to begin a verbal debate. I told them I was trying to fix an audio problem and they banned me while I was doing that.


curi at 5:57 PM on November 18, 2019 | #14380 | reply | quote

curiToday at 5:04 PM

I’m a non-vegan philosopher (and programmer) attempting to research and diagram arguments relating to animal rights. I'm looking for help finding literature with certain types of pro animal rights arguments. What I've done so far: https://curi.us/2240-discussion-tree-state-of-animal-rights-debate

I’m trying to proceed in an organized, objective, truth seeking way. I’m looking for pro animal rights literature (anything from serious blog posts to academic papers) making certain arguments, particularly arguments that will add additional nodes to my diagram. The type I’m most seeking is someone who is familiar with both modern science and programming arguing that animals are not like robots running software consisting of non-AGI algorithms. I found arguments like that were missing in Singer (where I started) and didn’t find anything promising after searching. Could people here help with this project?

Discussion Tree: State of Animal Rights Debate

I began organizing the current state of the animal rights debate into a discussion tree diagram. I started with Peter Singer because he's a well known intellectual with pro animal rights writing. I

I am looking at the book Fellow Creatures right now. It doesn't address software issues but I'm seeing what it does have.

It says e.g.:

Creatures themselves, not pleasure or pain or intrinsic values, are the source of value. Things can be good or bad at all because they are good-for or bad-for creatures.

This doesn't address the position that cows don't have values or preferences because it takes intelligent, rational thought to make value judgments, form opinions about goals, or preferences, etc. I don't yet know if that's addressed elsewhere in the book. That's the sort of thing I want an answer to.

futilegodToday at 5:19 PM

You don’t think a cow would value their child or prefer not to be killed?

curiToday at 5:19 PM

Right because I don't think cows have intelligent minds that consider things like that. I think they're like complex robots run by non-AGI software algorithms.

TempestToday at 5:22 PM

@curi What convinces you of that?

curiToday at 5:23 PM

I haven't been able to find any arguments or observed animal behavior to the contrary, and I've read things like http://curi.us/272-algorithmic-animal-behavior which scientifically observe and document the nature of animal behavior, and also, separately, i have a model of how minds and brains work related to Critical Rationalist epistemology.

Algorithmic Animal Behavior

If studied closely, animals can be seen (at least in some cases like these examples) to follow simplistic, algorithmic behavior patterns (like software where the designer didn't think about some potent

TempestToday at 5:27 PM

What would be an example of a behavior that would raise the probability that non-human animals have non-robotic minds?

curiToday at 5:28 PM

Building a space ship.

TempestToday at 5:28 PM

what would be the minimum?

curiToday at 5:29 PM

An intelligent conversation is one option, but I don't think language is required if they could show they are learning and problem solving in a way that goes beyond algorithms in their DNA and creates new knowledge.

futilegodToday at 5:30 PM

Ok Descartes lol

curiToday at 5:31 PM

I'm looking for literature refuting this. Do you know of some or just laugh without arguments?

futilegodToday at 5:31 PM

Ever seen a pig play video games?

It’s pretty lit

curiToday at 5:37 PM

I gave a similar NTT answer at http://curi.us/1169-morality#14208 I was hoping people here would have some interest in providing sources which rigorously address these matter. Don't those exist?


Anonymous at 6:32 PM on November 18, 2019 | #14381 | reply | quote

curi at 3:59 AM on November 20, 2019 | #14389 | reply | quote

At https://www.reddit.com/r/vegan/comments/dyccjq/seeking_proanimal_rights_literature/

I was directed to the following claim (quote 5 from the menu):

http://www.scdesign.ie/ar_results1.php

Tom Regan in his book *The Case for Animal Rights*:

> Given the survival value of consciousness ... one must expect that it would be present in many species, not in the human species only.

What survival value? What a circumstantial evidence type argument. And having a mind capable of designing and build skyscrapers has survival value but it doesn't mean it's present in any other species. So it's ridiculous.

The other quotes I was advised to read also lack a modern scientific understanding, let alone an understanding of computer algorithms. They don't address the issues I raised.

I was also told that the issues I raised are unnecessary to address and that's why there is no literature addressing them. That is: it doesn't matter if a dog is like a complicated Roomba that can't suffer, the case for animal rights works anyway. I don't think he really thought through or meant what he said, he was just being dumb.


curi at 4:45 AM on November 20, 2019 | #14390 | reply | quote

Hi Mr Curi

"Creatures themselves, not pleasure or pain or intrinsic values, are the source of value. Things can be good or bad at all because they are good-for or bad-for creatures.

This doesn't address the position that cows don't have values or preferences because it takes intelligent, rational thought to make value judgments, form opinions about goals, or preferences, etc. I don't yet know if that's addressed elsewhere in the book. That's the sort of thing I want an answer to."

Are values or preferences required to experience suffering? Assuming the cow has a capacity to suffer isn't the relevant moral quality the degree of suffering? Why does the cow need to have the conscious knowledge that it would prefer not to suffer?

Why does a cow need to be differentiated from a software algorithm in order to validate its suffering?


Patrick B at 12:15 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14391 | reply | quote

#14391

> Are values or preferences required to experience suffering?

I think so.

If you don't think so, tell me what you think the requirement is for suffering. Do you agree a Roomba, self-driving car or AlphaGo doesn't suffer? If so, you should figure out what you think is relevantly different about them and a cow. Preferably you should approach that difference(s) in a technical way involving science and computer code.


curi at 12:19 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14392 | reply | quote

CritRat asked my question

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAVegan/comments/dz3s9q/seeking_proanimal_rights_literature/

https://www.reddit.com/r/askphilosophy/comments/dz3xfc/seeking_proanimal_rights_literature/

https://www.reddit.com/r/vegan/comments/dyi0qm/random_thoughts_small_questions_and_general/f8375sx/

So far no relevant replies with sources. A few replies from people who know nothing about software and don't understand the question. A few references to literature or a video which do not answer the question (multiple times I've seen people *know* they are giving a non-answer, and mention it, before giving it anyway, which I find weird).

CritRat thinks (said on Discord) it's understandable that they don't get it because they don't know about Critical Rationalism. I think widespread knowledge about software and AGI should be adequate to see there's an important question here even without being able to code (it's hard to answer the question without being able to code, but I think a non-coder can understand it fine). CritRat is not a coder btw. I will write a blog post explaining that.


curi at 12:31 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14393 | reply | quote

Two comments by me

https://www.reddit.com/r/vegan/comments/dyccjq/seeking_proanimal_rights_literature/f85sjxo/

> If cows are like self-driving cars, then cows are not conscious. Where is the animal rights and/or liberation literature addressing this?

> Your claim that consciousness is not necessarily computational is, in my opinion, superstitious mysticism that is ignorant of modern science and software. I think your claim that consciousness may be a fundamental constituent of the universe is both a rejection of the knowledge and attitudes of modern physics, plus it still hasn't provided an argument that any animal is conscious or given any criteria for deciding what is conscious.

> If you can refer me to literature arguing this stuff in a way that could conceivably persuade a person familiar with science and software (and philosophy), with a perspective like mine (rather than ignoring and not addressing my materialist, non-dualist perspective), please do. If there are good arguments I don't know about, and this isn't as anti-scientific as it sounds to me, I'd like to find out.

https://www.reddit.com/r/askphilosophy/comments/dz3xfc/seeking_proanimal_rights_literature/f85ofw5/

> Not all software is the same. E.g. some has/is general intelligence and some doesn't/isn't. Do you agree that Roombas can't and don't suffer or think? Then it must require some other type of software, that a Roomba doesn't have, to merit moral consideration, right? So what type is that and do animals have it? People in favor of animal rights should consider and write about that.


curi at 12:42 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14395 | reply | quote

"Do you agree a Roomba, self-driving car or AlphaGo doesn't suffer?"

I agree that a Roomba or self driving car doesn't suffer.

"If so, you should figure out what you think is relevantly different about them and a cow."

A cow has a central nervous system that transmits pain signals to the brain. The brain in turn triggers the pain sensation in the relevant nerves. Pain would be classified as physical suffering.

A Roomba has a nervous system in the sense that it has sensors which communicate feedback to a processing unit. Example, the groud ahead is dark; turn off the motor and initiate rotation until the groud is no longer dark. It does not transmit pain signals or receive the pain sensation from its processing unit. Since it does not feel pain we can safely assume it doesn't experience physical suffering.


Anonymous at 12:51 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14397 | reply | quote

#14397 A central nervous system could be put in a robot. That is a matter of the specific physical mechanism that sends sensor data from the sensors to the CPU/brain. The information sent can be the same for a wide variety of mechanisms. Wires with no spine works fine fine. I don't see how that's a relevant characteristic. The mechanism of transmitting information within the entity doesn't tell us what information process (aka computation) happens when the information is processed in the CPU/brain or the nature of that processing.

In other words, you aren't differentiating different types of informational signals. You call some "pain" signals but how do they physically/computationally/scientifically differ from other informational signals giving sensor readings, including e.g. sensor data about damage or bad things (e.g. deflated tire or scrape or hole in side of car). I think animals have nerves that detect some types of damage because that information is has useful survival value when factored into some behavior determining algorithms, not because any mental feeling is involved, so it's essentially equivalent to what a self-driving car would have.


curi at 12:58 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14398 | reply | quote

https://www.reddit.com/r/vegan/comments/dyccjq/seeking_proanimal_rights_literature/f85vpbq/?context=3

> That argument is bad. Humans clearly (maybe you disagree!?) have some sort of mental capabilities which have positive survival which are not shared by other any animals, e.g. the ability to invent concrete and build skyscrapers, to invent and build space ships, to research and use sophisticated medicines, etc. The fact that something has survival value doesn't mean you can assume other species have it.

>

> And are you saying there are no animal rights advocates who know enough to differentiate humans from robots using a scientific and software-oriented approach? That seems damning.


curi at 1:16 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14400 | reply | quote

https://www.reddit.com/r/vegan/comments/dyccjq/seeking_proanimal_rights_literature/f85xghx/?context=3

> Information is physical, see modern physics, e.g. https://arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/0104033.pdf

> I'm asking for a sophisticated comparison involving animals from someone who actually understands software algorithms and can tell the difference between behavior that is similar to a human and behavior that is similar to a Roomba, chess engine, self-driving car, etc.

> I'm not being arrogant, I'm here asking for literature to read which argues against my views. So far I haven't gotten any relevant response from anyone which addresses the issues and arguments i've brought up relating to computation.


curi at 1:39 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14401 | reply | quote

Justin Mallone at 1:43 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14402 | reply | quote

https://www.reddit.com/r/vegan/comments/dyccjq/seeking_proanimal_rights_literature/f8615bj/?context=3

> I think all humans (with exceptions like braindead people on life support) have *general intelligence* (the thing that Artificial General Intelligence researchers are trying to write software for). This cognitively differentiates humans from any animal.

> I specifically said your view of information being non-physical is contradicted by modern physics and gave a physics paper as a source. I don't see what's arrogant about this claim.


curi at 2:11 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14403 | reply | quote

Hi Mr Curi

"A central nervous system could be put in a robot."

How is the system of sensors in a robot right now different from a central nervous system?

"information process (aka computation) happens when the information is processed in the CPU/brain or the nature of that processing."

This is true. The mind of an animal will always be a black box that only allows us to observe inputs and output.

"You call some "pain" signals but how do they physically/computationally/scientifically differ from other informational signals giving sensor readings"

They don't. A signal is just electrical energy being transmitted from a sensor to a processing unit. It could be a nerve ending and a brain or an electrical sensor and a CPU. Of course the information encoded in that signal will trigger different reactions from processing unit.

A "pain" signal would tell the processing unit to trigger a physical response in the affected area. We observe the effect of this physical response in the behaviour of the animal.

An animal has the capability to feel these painful physical responses and thus can experience physical suffering. No robots that I am aware of replicate this experience.

Of course we cannot experience what the animal experiences and thus we cannot "know" for certain whether they felt pain or not. If you place the burden of proof on me to show that animals feel pain I cannot satisfy that burden. I would ask why you think that two animals with remarkably similar mechanisms for delivering pain would experience that pain in completely different ways. Also my understanding is that the scientific consensus is that animals do feel pain. Do you have any arguments refuting their work other than "experience is subjective and we can't know for sure what animals feel".

"because that information is has useful survival value when factored into some behavior determining algorithms, not because any mental feeling is involved, so it's essentially equivalent to what a self-driving car would have."

This is your opinion though. There is strong evidence that all vertebrates experience.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK32655/

"Instead, the consensus of the committee is that all vertebrates should be considered capable of experiencing pain. This judgment is based on the following two premises: (1) the strong likelihood that this is correct, particularly for mammals and birds (Box 1-4 provides compelling evidence for rats, for example); and (2) the consequences of being wrong, that is, acting on the assumption that all vertebrates are not able to experience pain and so treating pain as though it were merely nociception, an error with obvious and serious ethical implications."

So clearly the safer moral position is to assume that animals can feel pain. The issue with your position that I see is that you must agree it is ethical to beat, torture and abuse a puppy as it might or might not be able to feel pain. If you believe this is true I would be curious to know how much time you've spent with animals.

I would also add that so far we have only focused on physical suffering and ignored the other differences between robots and non-human animals. For example stress hormones being released which cause mental suffering. Obviously no such hormones exist in a robot.


Patrick B at 3:00 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14406 | reply | quote

> An animal has the capability to feel these painful physical responses and thus can experience physical suffering. No robots that I am aware of replicate this experience.

Where are the arguments regarding what experiencing suffering is in computational terms, and why animals can do it but no current robots can? What physical or algorithmic trait makes the difference? Got any literature which addresses the issues I'm trying to ask about?

Your link does not address try to the computation issues. It leaves the same big hole in its reasoning that Singer did.


curi at 3:04 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14407 | reply | quote

Hi Mr Curi

>Where are the arguments regarding what experiencing suffering is in computational terms, and why animals can do it but no current robots can?

Where are the arguments regarding what experiencing suffering is in computational terms, and why humans can do it but no current robots can?

I think we could analyze these arguments and then check to see if the same mechanisms for pain delivery exist in non-human animals.

If the process whereby a human feels pain is the same process whereby a non-human animal feels pain I would ask you what leads you to believe that pain would be experienced differently?

The reason robots cannot currently feel pain is because unlike humans and non-human animals they do not have regions of their processing units that are activated by noxious stimuli. These regions in the brain are responsible for the experience of pain. As far as we know these mechanisms work in the same way for human and non-human animals. Do you have any evidence using neuro-imaging that non-human animal brains aren't activated when they undergo noxious stimuli? Without that evidence I'm not sure why you would come to a conclusion that animals don't feel pain.


Patrick B at 3:32 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14408 | reply | quote

Hi Mr Curi

>CritRat thinks (said on Discord) it's understandable that they don't get it because they don't know about Critical Rationalism.

I would also add that I'm quite sure people on the debate a vegan subreddit are familiar with critical rationalism.

Just as you have rules for engaging in debate we have rules for responding to posts. Since you put no effort into your post and didn't cohesively make any specific argument I'm not surprised people aren't wiling to put effort into their responses.

If you have a specific argument to bring around animal rights please post it and I'm sure you'll receive lots of strong discussion.


Patrick B at 3:36 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14409 | reply | quote

> Since you put no effort into your post and didn't cohesively make any specific argument I'm not surprised people aren't wiling to put effort into their responses.

How is creating a diagram of arguments, and doing quite a bit of research (see the comments above), "no effort"? You're being unreasonable and hostile.

Also FYI you're apparently from some particular place where I asked a question but you haven't told me which one.

#14408

Check out my new post:

https://curi.us/2246-animal-rights-issues-regarding-software-and-agi


curi at 3:39 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14410 | reply | quote

I was referred to and looked through the book, but wasn't given any specific passages or quotes.

https://www.amazon.com/Death-Ethic-Life-John-Basl-ebook/dp/B07N94DQ16/

I didn't find in it the sorts of arguments I'm looking for. It doesn't analyze stuff like what algorithms animals might be using or couldn't be using. It doesn't address my scientific, computational worldview. If you think I missed the arguments, please point me to them more specifically.

---

Also, someone brought up that there are critics of the idea that brains are computers. Yeah but I don't know any good ones. If you know some you think are good, rather than ignorant or unscientific, please share.


curi at 4:15 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14412 | reply | quote

BobSeger1945 said this to me:

https://www.reddit.com/r/vegan/comments/dyccjq/seeking_proanimal_rights_literature/f86cyrk/?context=3

> I strongly doubt it. But the most popular computational theory of consciousness is IIT, and it's leading proponent (Koch) believes animals are conscious, and he has written a lot about how we can measure consciousness (using NCC's). So I recommend you look there.

He doubts any animal rights advocates have addressed the issues I raise.

IIT is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrated_information_theory

BobSeger1945 also said:

> What you need to reject is the immature view that dualism is religion or mysticism. Many scientists have embraced property dualism, which has nothing to do with religion, and is totally compatible with physics. It proposes that consciousness is a property of matter (like mass and charge).

Scientists have embraced dualism so now it's OK!? Uh, no, it's still trash philosophy and an unscientific attempt to ignore physics and evidence and make crap up. It's as mystical as saying maybe God, ghosts, ESP, astrology or Heaven is a property of matter like mass or charge. And he linked wikipedia instead of some sort of argument that would explain why it's not mysticism to a person with a materialist view, as I'd just requested.

I will look at ITT more. I will not look at dualism more unless someone gives specific arguments and sources they think are good and which actually address my worldview.


curi at 4:22 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14413 | reply | quote

Hi Mr Curi

5) Argue your position (submissions only). Your submission should be supported by some argument (written in your own words), and sources if possible.

>How is creating a diagram of arguments, and doing quite a bit of research (see the comments above), "no effort"? You're being unreasonable and hostile.

Not trying to be hostile, just pointing out you didn't put forward a specific argument and you didn't make the post yourself.

I did mention that I came from the DebateAVegan subreddit. I think posting a link to your blog post there would be very well received.

I will also point out I haven't read The Beginning of Infinity.

Now let's look at your argument on suffering:

"The reason I favor slaughtering cows is that I have no significant doubt about whether a cow has general intelligence."

P1: If a being doesn't have general intelligence it cannot experience suffering.

P2: A cow doesn't have general intelligence.

C: A cow cannot experience suffering.

I would ask you to provide proof for your P1.

Also not sure if you had any comment on my post above:

"Patrick B at 3:32 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14408"


Patrick B at 4:25 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14414 | reply | quote

from https://reducing-suffering.org/do-video-game-characters-matter-morally

In the Summary section he lays out his basic claim:

> The difference between non-player characters (NPCs)a in video games and animals in real life is a matter of degree rather than kind. NPCs and animals are both fundamentally agents that emerge from a complicated collection of simple physical operations, and the main distinction between NPCs and animals is one of cognitive and affective complexity. Thus, if we care a lot about animals, we may care a tiny bit about game NPCs, at least the more elaborate versions. I think even present-day NPCs collectively have some ethical significance, though they don't rank near the top of ethical issues in our current world. However, as the sophistication and number of NPCs grow, our ethical obligations toward video-game characters may become an urgent moral topic.

In the section on Goal Directed Behavior and Sentience you can get some more sense of where he's coming from:

> As I've argued elsewhere, sentience is not a binary property but can be seen with varying degrees of clarity in a variety of systems. We can interpret video-game characters as having the barest rudiments of consciousness, such as when they reflect on their own state variables ("self-awareness"), report on state variables to make decisions in other parts of their program ("information broadcasting"), and select among possible actions to best achieve a goal ("imagination, planning, and decision making"). Granted, these procedures are vastly simpler than what happens in animals, but a faint outline is there. If human sentience is a boulder, present-day video-game characters might be a grain of sand.

he has links for his sentience-is-not-binary stuff btw.

I skimmed briefly and struggled to find any clear, unhedged bottom line conclusions. He seems to rely on some Dennett stuff about "stance levels" a lot btw. But the piece, while long, sorta had the tone of thinking out loud and considering some ideas rather than trying to get to a clear cut answer.

E.g.:

> NPCs typically come into existence for a few seconds and then are injured to the point of death. It's good that the dumb masses of NPC enemies like Goombas may not be terribly ethically problematic anyway, and the more intelligent "boss-level" enemies that display sophisticated response behavior and require multiple injuries to be killed are rarer. Due to the inordinate amounts of carnage in video games, game NPCs may be many times more significant than, say, a small plant per second. Perhaps a few highly elaborate NPCs approach the significance of the dumbest insects.

"may not be terribly ethically problematic" is a very hedged statement.

Or there is this:

> If human sentience is a boulder, present-day video-game characters might be a grain of sand.

This weight/size metaphor stuff is very vague and useless as a guide to action/judgment.

It also seemed like he was trying to jump around and deal with a lot of issues at once rather than focus his discussion carefully.

this is based on my looking at a pretty long piece for a very few minutes. It's not a very thorough or "fair" treatment at all. Still thought it would be worth sharing. The piece does not look promising to me. The fact that his view rests on some kind of continuum-of-sentience perspective seems the most problematic from what I read.


Justin Mallone at 4:29 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14415 | reply | quote

> I did mention that I came from the DebateAVegan subreddit.

When, where?

> you didn't put forward a specific argument and you didn't make the post yourself.

You're accusing me of not doing something in a post that you know I didn't write.

> I would ask you to provide proof for your P1.

See https://curi.us/2246-animal-rights-issues-regarding-software-and-agi

Or provide some alternative theory of suffering to mine (from a scientific and computational perspective, not vague assertions).


curi at 4:30 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14416 | reply | quote

Read about ITT. Looks like junk that doesn't have arguments to refute any of my views and has no clue about CR and doesn't seem to know or say much about computation or physics either. If anyone knows that I'm missing something, please refer me to a specific source.


curi at 4:39 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14417 | reply | quote

>When, where?

"I would also add that I'm quite sure people on the debate a vegan subreddit are familiar with critical rationalism."

>You're accusing me of not doing something in a post that you know I didn't write.

Then your post shouldn't have been made. That being said I'm glad it was because now we're talking.

"I think capacity to suffer is related to general intelligence because suffering involves making value judgments like not wanting a particular outcome or thinking something is bad. Suffering involves having preferences/wants which you then don’t get. I don’t think it’s possible without the ability to consider alternatives and make value judgments about which you prefer, which requires creative thought and the ability to create new knowledge, think of new things. This is a very brief argument which I’m not going to elaborate on here."

P1: If a being cannot make value judgements it cannot experience suffering.

P2: A cow cannot make value judgements.

C: A cow cannot experience suffering.

Again, I would ask you for proof of your P1. Or feel free to expand if you feel I misunderstand your argument.

If a person becomes senile and no longer has the capacity to make value judgements would it be ethical to torture them?


Anonymous at 4:41 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14418 | reply | quote

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK32655/

Looks like this article on the physical mechanisms of pain fails to distinguish physical pain mechanisms (information signals and processing) from suffering and mental states (which it doesn't know about).

It's failing at the basic task of differentiating the stuff it's saying from robots like self-driving cars in any important way.


curi at 4:43 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14419 | reply | quote

> "I would also add that I'm quite sure people on the debate a vegan subreddit are familiar with critical rationalism."

That doesn't say where you came from. You're not good enough at logic to debate productively. It's also an odd assertion given how rare CR knowledge is.

> Then your post shouldn't have been made.

*It is not my post.* Which part are you not understanding?

> If a person becomes senile and no longer has the capacity to make value judgements would it be ethical to torture them?

Senile people can make value judgments. I already referred you to my post which addresses your issue about P1 and you just ignored me and repeated yourself. I've lost interest. See https://elliottemple.com/debate-policy


curi at 4:47 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14420 | reply | quote

#14419

>It's failing at the basic task of differentiating the stuff it's saying from robots like self-driving cars in any important way.

There's no reason that robots couldn't be developed that had the same mechanisms to feel physical pain that animals do. It's just that none have that capability right now.

A robot cannot experience pain because it has no part of its brain responsible for the sensation of pain. Both humans and non-human animals have these capabilities built into their nervous systems.


Anonymous at 4:47 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14421 | reply | quote

> There's no reason that robots couldn't be developed that had the same mechanisms to feel physical pain that animals do. It's just that none have that capability right now.

You're failing to differentiate animals from robots that exist right now. Robots and cows both have sensors which send information to the brain/CPU where software algorithms process it. Like the link, you aren't saying anything to address this.


Logician at 4:50 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14422 | reply | quote

#14420

>You're not good enough at logic to debate productively.

Resorting to personal attacks is not very productive in my experience.

>*It is not my post.* Which part are you not understanding?

Well it was posted on your behalf and I assumed you had requested it be posted.

>Senile people can make value judgments.

I don't see a source for this in your blog post. I would happily read over such a source if you could provide it.

>I already referred you to my post which addresses your issue about P1 and you just ignored me and repeated yourself.

I referenced your blog post here:

"I think capacity to suffer is related to general intelligence because suffering involves making value judgments like not wanting a particular outcome or thinking something is bad. Suffering involves having preferences/wants which you then don’t get. I don’t think it’s possible without the ability to consider alternatives and make value judgments about which you prefer, which requires creative thought and the ability to create new knowledge, think of new things. This is a very brief argument which I’m not going to elaborate on here."

And I rewrote my version of your argument to include value judgements instead of general intelligence:

P1: If a being cannot make value judgements it cannot experience suffering.

P2: A cow cannot make value judgements.

C: A cow cannot experience suffering.

Can you provide me with a logical argument that proves P1? I'm not interested in trying to peruse your entire blog post and imply the proof myself. If you can't provide a logical proof then I'm not sure why anyone would accept your conclusion as valid.

>I've lost interest.

That's a shame. If you regain interest in proving your ideas feel free to respond.


Anonymous at 4:55 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14423 | reply | quote

#14422

>You're failing to differentiate animals from robots that exist right now.

I addressed this in an earlier post to which you haven't responded.

See below:

>Where are the arguments regarding what experiencing suffering is in computational terms, and why animals can do it but no current robots can?

Where are the arguments regarding what experiencing suffering is in computational terms, and why humans can do it but no current robots can?

I think we could analyze these arguments and then check to see if the same mechanisms for pain delivery exist in non-human animals.

If the process whereby a human feels pain is the same process whereby a non-human animal feels pain I would ask you what leads you to believe that pain would be experienced differently?

The reason robots cannot currently feel pain is because unlike humans and non-human animals they do not have regions of their processing units that are activated by noxious stimuli. These regions in the brain are responsible for the experience of pain. As far as we know these mechanisms work in the same way for human and non-human animals. Do you have any evidence using neuro-imaging that non-human animal brains aren't activated when they undergo noxious stimuli? Without that evidence I'm not sure why you would come to a conclusion that animals don't feel pain.


Anonymous at 4:56 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14424 | reply | quote

Hi Mr Curi

Just wanted to add I forgot to add my name on the two above posts (14424) ( 14423). Sorry for the confusion.


Patrick B at 4:58 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14425 | reply | quote

#14415 So he thinks not merely roombas but microwaves and parking meters are a little bit conscious. But he has no clear reasoning (i checked both links re "sentience is not a binary property"). And what about how everything does information processing at all times? If a photon hits a rock and bounces off, some physical variables change in accordance to some math. It physically constitutes a computation of some sort. So rocks and photons colliding is a little bit of consciousness? Working out an arithmetic problem on a piece of paper makes the paper and pen a little bit conscious? He hasn't thought through problems like these and I'm not even sure if he can code or tried to research physics and the physical aspects of computation.


curi at 4:58 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14426 | reply | quote

#14423 Pointing out your logic errors isn't a personal attack. You didn't even have the integrity to admit you were wrong. If you think I'm mistaken to judge you as being not worth talking with, and judging you as someone unfamiliar with logic, computers, science, epistemology, etc., see https://elliottemple.com/debate-policy


curi at 5:00 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14427 | reply | quote

> I'm not interested in trying to peruse your entire blog post and imply the proof myself.

You literally won't read my arguments about this but you're complaining that I no longer want to write new things for you!?


curi at 5:03 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14428 | reply | quote

#14427

>Pointing out your logic errors isn't a personal attack

"You're not good enough at logic to debate productively."

I guess we have different definitions of personal attack. I assumed that if I mentioned a community your associate had posted in at your request you would assume I came from that community.

Since this portion of our discussion had nothing to do with a formal debate I don't see the issue with my assumption.

>If you think I'm mistaken to judge you as being not worth talking with, and judging you as someone unfamiliar with logic, computers, science, epistemology, etc., see https://elliottemple.com/debate-policy

Why would I go through the effort of "proving" my worth to you if you can't provide a simple logical proof behind your reasoning?

>You literally won't read my arguments about

I did read your argument and in fact I pasted the relevant sections and rewrote them into syllogisms for you:

P1: If a being cannot make value judgements it cannot experience suffering.

P2: A cow cannot make value judgements.

C: A cow cannot experience suffering.

I can promise you there was no clear logical proof for P1 in your blog post. If your argument is solid why won't you provide a simple logical proof?


Anonymous at 5:11 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14430 | reply | quote

#14430 Patrick, you aren't a programmer, aren't a scientist of a relevant type, don't know about AGI, don't know about the physics of computation, aren't a logician, aren't a philosopher, have no important expertise to bring to the discussion, and also aren't listening to the requests for literature from people who understand what they're talking about. Am I wrong about any of this?

curi has some expertise at all of those things and has already talked ~endlessly with people who need to be taught the entire fields step by step but are trying to argue instead of learn. That's why he doesn't want to talk to you more. But he still gave you a second chance via his debate policy so that, if he's wrong, it's possible for his error to be corrected.


Howard Roark at 5:24 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14431 | reply | quote

Hi Mr Curi

#14431

>Patrick, you aren't a programmer, aren't a scientist of a relevant type, don't know about AGI, don't know about the physics of computation, aren't a logician, aren't a philosopher, have no important expertise to bring to the discussion, and also aren't listening to the requests for literature from people who understand what they're talking about. Am I wrong about any of this?

I am a programmer and have studied logic and philosophy in university. I admit that I am no leading expert in these fields.

Im sure if curi is so intimately familiar with all of these topics he could easily provide the proof I requested. Reading his blog reveals there is no such proof:

>I think capacity to suffer is related to general intelligence because suffering involves making value judgments like not wanting a particular outcome or thinking something is bad.

Thinking something is true and having a logical proof that it is true is very different.

I will gladly await clarification or proof from mr curi.


Patrick B at 5:35 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14432 | reply | quote

I posted:

https://www.quora.com/unanswered/Is-there-scientifically-documented-behavior-of-any-nonhuman-animal-which-is-incompatible-with-animals-being-robots-running-non-AGI-software-algorithms-like-those-used-in-video-games-and-self-driving-cars

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAVegan/comments/dzb2ge/animal_rights_issues_regarding_software_and_agi/

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAVegan/comments/dzbzbt/animal_behaviors_that_couldnt_be_robotic/

https://vegetarianism.stackexchange.com/questions/2034/non-robotic-animal-behaviors

I will post to the pets stack exchange in 40 minutes when it allows me to post a second time.

I wrote some new text that I used:

---

Can anyone point me to written arguments which point out any documented behavior of any animal which is incompatible with an animals-as-robots model? The model I mean claims animals lack the general intelligence humans have and aren't able to learn anything that goes beyond the knoweldge already in their genes. A good argument would explain why the animal behavior cannot be accounted for by software algorithms like the non-AGI algorithms we know how to program today and use in video games, self-driving cars, computer vision, etc.

If not, then I will conclude that there is no *evidence* that animals suffer any more than self-driving cars do (zero).

See also:

https://curi.us/2240-discussion-tree-state-of-animal-rights-debate

https://curi.us/2245-discussion-about-animal-rights-and-popper

https://curi.us/2246-animal-rights-issues-regarding-software-and-agi

https://curi.us/272-algorithmic-animal-behavior

---

The Quora version had to be extra short:

Is there scientifically documented behavior of any nonhuman animal which is incompatible with animals being robots running non-AGI software algorithms like those used in video games and self-driving cars?


curi at 5:57 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14433 | reply | quote

Got linked to Science, Sentience, and Animal Welfare. But it doesn't discuss intelligence, computation, AGI, algorithms, etc.


curi at 6:27 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14435 | reply | quote

#14433

>A good argument would explain why the animal behavior cannot be accounted for by software algorithms like the non-AGI algorithms we know how to program today and use in video games, self-driving cars, computer vision, etc

I concede your point that animal behaviour can be perfectly accounted for with non-AGI algorithms.

Now I would ask you to provide evidence that proves this means animals can't suffer.

"P1: If a being's behaviour cannot be differentiated from a non-AGI algorithm it cannot experience suffering.

P2: A cow's behaviour cannot be differentiated from a non-AGI algorithm.

C: A cow cannot experience suffering."

You keep asking people to prove something when in fact you have proven absolutely nothing. And please don't refer to your blog post again:

>I think capacity to suffer is related to general intelligence because suffering involves making value judgments like not wanting a particular outcome or thinking something is bad.

Your opinions alone are not logical evidence that proves your argument.

If you cannot provide a proof for P1 or structure your syllogism in a different form and then provide the proof you need, why should anyone accept your conclusions?

At this point you have spent a lot of time researching and asking questions but you haven't applied any logical rigour to your arguments. I would suggest proving your argument before asking for feedback that disproves your argument.


Anonymous at 6:36 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14436 | reply | quote

> I concede your point that animal behaviour can be perfectly accounted for with non-AGI algorithms.

Will you also concede that human behavior cannot be accounted for in that way?


Anonymous at 6:38 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14438 | reply | quote

Hi Mr Curi

#14438

>Will you also concede that human behavior cannot be accounted for in that way?

Yes, by defintion an AGI algorithm is capable of learning and understanding the same tasks as a human being.

If a non-AGI could learn and understand the same tasks as a human being it wouldn't be a non-AGI.


Patrick B at 6:41 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14439 | reply | quote

> If a being's behaviour cannot be differentiated from a non-AGI algorithm it cannot experience suffering.

Suffering is related to preferring or wanting X and getting not-X. It requires judgments like disliking. Not mere information or math but some opinion on those things.

What else would suffering me related to other than not getting what you want or getting what you don't want? But e.g. self-driving cars do not want anything and have no opinions.

Sometimes people enjoy physical pain. This shows humans form their own opinions and it shows that information/data like that is open to intelligent interpretation. Animals don't do that stuff.


Anonymous at 6:47 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14441 | reply | quote

Hi Mr Curi

#14441

>Suffering is related to preferring or wanting X and getting not-X. It requires judgments like disliking.

That's a valid opinion. Do you have any logical proof or source to support it?

>What else would suffering me related to other than not getting what you want or getting what you don't want?

A simple example would be physical suffering. You can experience pain without consciously desiring the pain to stop. Another example would be the natural stress response. Your brain experiences stress due to hormones that are released, it doesn't necessarily relate to you wanting or not wanting something.

>Sometimes people enjoy physical pain.

So they can get enjoyment out of physical suffering. Why is it relevant if animals can or cannot do the same?


Patrick B at 7:06 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14444 | reply | quote

#14444 Do you have any alternative view that you think is better? Asking for proof is bad epistemology.

And you're mixing up physical pain (information sent from nerves) with mental suffering.


Anonymous at 7:07 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14445 | reply | quote

#14445

>Do you have any alternative view that you think is better?

Let's focus on your beliefs and arguments for now. I'm not the one putting forth an argument that isn't logically valid.

>It requires judgments like disliking.

>Asking for proof is bad epistemology.

Asking for proof of your assertion is bad epistemology? How can I distinguish your opinions from facts if you have no proof for your opinions?

How can you show that suffering requires judgement like disliking? So far I can tell it is your opinion that suffering requires judgement and that's all.


Anonymous at 7:22 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14446 | reply | quote

#14446 Logical proof isn't the standard here, and the proper standard is the *best* known idea. If you have no alternatives, then this idea wins by default.

You need to learn epistemology. See Popper and Deutsch to begin with. http://fallibleideas.com/books#deutsch


Anonymous at 7:34 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14447 | reply | quote

Hi Mr Curi

>If you have no alternatives, then this idea wins by default.

Ok feel free to compare to this idea.

Humans and non-human animals have parts of their brain that are activated in response to noxious stimuli. This can be observed with neuro-imaging technology and is accepted scientific consensus. These parts of the brain are responsible for the subjective experience of suffering. Again, accepted scientific consensus.

A non-AGI has no such part of its brain and as such it does not experience physical suffering.

I do not see any reason why either the human or non-human animal need to dislike the concept of pain in order to experience pain. The fact that they experience pain is enough to constitute physical suffering.

I would then ask you for proof that preference is required in order to experience physical pain. Failing to provide such proof means I will stick with the accepted scientific consensus.

We could go into mental suffering but if you can't prove physical suffering it's not relevant at this point.


Patrick B at 7:52 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14448 | reply | quote

#14448 You aren't taking into account the hardware independence of computation.

You also seem to have unconceded what you already conceded?

> I concede your point that animal behaviour can be perfectly accounted for with non-AGI algorithms.

But now:

> A non-AGI has no such part of its brain and as such it does not experience physical suffering.

So you seem to be denying animals are non-AGIs, cuz you think animals suffer?


Anonymous at 7:55 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14449 | reply | quote

Hi Mr Curi

>You aren't taking into account the hardware independence of computation.

I agree that computation is independent of hardware.

> I concede your point that animal behaviour can be perfectly accounted for with non-AGI algorithms.

I agree that non-human animal behaviour can be modeled by a non-AGI algorithm. The physical and mental experiences that a cow has cannot be experienced by that algorithm.

Just as human behaviour can be modeled by an AGI algorithm. However the physical and mental experiences that a human experiences cannot be experienced by that algorithm.

The reason for this is that a "Roomba" has a cpu to process instructions. It's capable of a limited number of states determined by its hardware. Physically it can process 1 or 0. It can move those values from a short term location like RAM and into a processing unit. It can store other values in long term storage. It cannot emulate the regions of animal brains that are responsible for the physical sensation of pain. It simply wasn't designed to have this capability.

Human and non-human animal brains both have this capability. This is demonstrable through the use of neuro-imaging software and is in fact the scientific consensus.

>So you seem to be denying animals are non-AGIs, cuz you think animals suffer?

The scientific consensus is that non-human animals suffer. I only defer to the experts in the field.


Patrick B at 8:10 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14450 | reply | quote

My reply re _The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Animal Minds_

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAVegan/comments/dz3s9q/seeking_proanimal_rights_literature/f86mjff/

Thanks for the link. It seems to largely not address the issues I brought up[1], but does have a few parts agreeing with me (not conclusively), e.g. it mentions an ant vision algorithm and has this, emphasis added:

> An analogous estimation problem arises in robotics, where it is called the simultaneous locali- zation and mapping (SLAM) problem. An autonomous navigating robot must estimate its own position along with the positions of salient landmarks.The most successful robotics solution is grounded in Bayesian decision theory, a mathematical theory of reasoning and decision-making under uncertainty. On a Bayesian approach, the robot maintains a probability distribution over possible maps of the environment, using self-motion cues and sensory input to update prob- abilities as it travels through space. Bayesian robotic navigation algorithms have achieved notable success (Thrun et al. 2005). Given how well Bayesian solutions to SLAM work within robotics, *it is natural to conjecture that some animals use Bayesian inference when navigating* (Gallistel 2008; Rescorla 2009). Scientists have recently begun offering Bayesian models of animal naviga- tion (Cheng et al. 2007; Cheung et al. 2012; Madl et al. 2014; Madl et al. 2016; Penny et al. 2013). The models look promising, although this research program is still in its infancy.

[1] search results:

algorithm: 4

hardware: 1

software: 0

Turing: 0

hardware independence: 0

AGI: 0

artificial: 7 (the only one about artificial intelligence was someone's bio saying they'd studied AI)

i checked all the results that came up.


curi at 8:12 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14451 | reply | quote

#14450

> I agree that computation is independent of hardware.

But you said:

> Humans and non-human animals have parts of their brain that are activated in response to noxious stimuli.

Talking about specific hardware features seems to be disagreeing about hardware independence. Unless you mean that this brain activation is non-computational!?

> The reason for this is that a "Roomba" has a cpu to process instructions. It's capable of a limited number of states determined by its hardware. Physically it can process 1 or 0. It can move those values from a short term location like RAM and into a processing unit. It can store other values in long term storage. It cannot emulate the regions of animal brains that are responsible for the physical sensation of pain. It simply wasn't designed to have this capability.

> Human and non-human animal brains both have this capability. This is demonstrable through the use of neuro-imaging software and is in fact the scientific consensus.

You are again contradicting hardware independence.

> However the physical and mental experiences that a human experiences cannot be experienced by that algorithm.

Are you advocating dualism, non-computational thinking, or what?

> The scientific consensus is that non-human animals suffer. I only defer to the experts in the field.

If you don't want to consider the issues yourself, why didn't you just say so? Also you were repeatedly asked for expert sources and wanted to argue instead...


Anonymous at 8:16 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14452 | reply | quote

Hi Mr Curi

#14452

>Talking about specific hardware features seems to be disagreeing about hardware independence. Unless you mean that this brain activation is non-computational!?

Certainly not my friend. However I am not aware of any algorithm that currently accurately models the physical experience of pain. If such an algorithm did exist it may not be possible to run in a binary system, like a Roomba. I'm not aware of any evidence that shows that the physical reactions in the brain operate at an entirely binary level and I'm not sure why we would make such an assumption, given that we know other models are possible.

>You are again contradicting hardware independence.

Binary hardware can compute binary data or instructions. Any binary computation can be done independent of which binary hardware it runs on. It cannot run ternary code or quantum code. This is a physical limitation of the hardware.

>If you don't want to consider the issues yourself, why didn't you just say so?

I have my personal opinion based on my own experiences with animals. I do not have any kind of rigorous experimentations or evidence as the scientific community does. Unless you have some experimental evidence that refutes their claims then I'm not sure why we would assume your idea that goes against the scientific consensus is the "best" idea.


Patrick B at 8:30 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14454 | reply | quote

#14454 Please stop referring to the anonymous guy you're talking with as "Hi Mr Curi"


curi at 8:32 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14455 | reply | quote

Hi Mr Curi

#14455

Sorry, the title was autofilling from my previous posts. Do you have any comment on the post?


Patrick B at 8:34 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14456 | reply | quote

> Binary hardware can compute binary data or instructions. Any binary computation can be done independent of which binary hardware it runs on. It cannot run ternary code or quantum code. This is a physical limitation of the hardware.

You don't know what you're talking about. A binary computer can run an interpreter for ternary code or simulate a ternary computer. There is nothing that can be calculated in ternary code but not binary, nor vice versa. This is uncontroversial. You're simply ignorant of the topics you're making claims about. You need to read some books, study and learn.

And classical computers, such as brains, are not quantum computers.

> I do not have any kind of rigorous experimentations or evidence as the scientific community does. Unless you have some experimental evidence that refutes their claims then I'm not sure why we would assume your idea that goes against the scientific consensus is the "best" idea.

You have given zero sources. curi gave one: http://curi.us/272-algorithmic-animal-behavior

So the scientific evidence is 1 to 0 against you. You've been asked for scientific sources. You don't seem to actually know any.


Anonymous at 8:37 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14457 | reply | quote

Posted to more stack exchanges:

https://pets.stackexchange.com/questions/26591/non-robotic-animal-behaviors

https://philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/68557/non-robotic-animal-behaviors

On the philosophy one I got a guy harassing me and a guy who gave a bad non-answer (I asked for written sources):

Hypnosifl:

>> Animals can obviously learn things beyond what's in their genes, like if you have a dog and it learns its way around your house it wasn't genetically pre-programmed with knowledge of the layout of your house. And even relatively simple software programs like neural networks can learn things that weren't pre-programmed into them. If you're asking what capabilities animals have that disprove the idea that their brains are something like complicated and fine-tuned versions of neural networks, I would ask what evidence you have that the human brain is anything more than that.

curi:

> Asserting that your conclusions are obvious is not how science works. And your example is trivially wrong. Storing map data is something basic algorithms can do with no intelligence or learning, just mechanically following a mathematical algorithm. If a dog simply mechanically does some code from its genes, just like a calculator or self-driving car follows its programming, that isn't learning anything new.


curi at 9:05 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14459 | reply | quote

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAVegan/comments/dzbzbt/animal_behaviors_that_couldnt_be_robotic/f870cn8/

You'd have to learn Critical Rationalist epistemology for the full reasoning (which, yes, controversial). A short answer is that a general intelligence algorithm is unlimited, infinite, unbounded in what it can do – it allows for creativity, for new stuff – which is different than all other algorithms which are limited, finite, bounded.

Another way to look at it: it's a different number of steps in the process.

1 step:

genetic algorithm -> cow follows algorithm and eats grass

2 steps:

genetic intelligence algorithm -> intelligent thought to create new ideas, behaviors, algorithms, knowledge, etc., including about GPS and satellites -> person makes and launches satellite

My more basic point is that the distinction between general intelligence, or not, is well known and is something animal rights advocates ought to consider and address, rather than ignore (i was hoping they already had). It's e.g. a major idea in the artificial intelligence field which is trying to create AGI: artificial *general* intelligence, and sees (and has written lots about) difference between AGI and different stuff like self-driving car algorithms or the algorithm that fires a satellite's propulsion system occasionally to keep it in the right orbit.


curi at 9:17 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14460 | reply | quote

Holy shit a guy, in all seriousness, linked me *dog telepathy* as *controlled science experiments*.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QsPWitQovM

Guy needs to learn some James Randi stuff like how his buddies fooled scientists into thinking they were telepathic. It's easy to get fooled. Ruling out a few ways you thought of that something could be accomplished, then concluding telepathy, is naive.


curi at 9:24 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14461 | reply | quote

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAVegan/comments/dzbzbt/animal_behaviors_that_couldnt_be_robotic/f872q7i/

Cows don't think creatively though. Or at least, where is the evidence to merit that belief? And people don't learn by mere exposure. But as I said those were just short approximations to give you a sense of the issues, not to be a full proof.

Suffering is related to preferences or value judgments, e.g. wanting X or wanting not-Y. General intelligence is required to form ideas like those. E.g. self-driving cars don't form those sorts of ideas.

And, again, I was hoping that any animal rights advocate had worked through these issues and written it down instead of leaving us to figure it out from scratch on reddit. What is going on!? And it would be much easier for me if the animal rights case was written down so I could review it and point out where I disagree. But this whole part of the case is just a blank so there's nothing to respond to and argue with, and I'm left just trying to teach non-experts, from scratch, a huge amount of complicated material. (it's not like i expect you'll be willing to read several books and come to a serious discussion forum, you just want me to somehow take some of the best, densest books and condense them down to a few paragraphs – though let me know if you would want to do that)

By contrast, I would be happy to refer you to some sources and you could tell me the errors, but it's a lot of reading and requires a lot of background knowledge.


curi at 9:37 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14462 | reply | quote

https://philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/68557/non-robotic-animal-behaviors

Typical examples of people who don't know wtf they're talking about:

Cell:

> It seems to me that this question is based on shaky premises. First humans are animals so the set of all animals clearly contains animals with human-like intelligence. Second, the common ancestor of all animals goes back very far when the brain emerged so the brains or our closest relatives aren't that radically different such that one has the ability to learn and one doesn't. And third that's not how genes work, like at all. Genes aren't comparable to programming code or "knowledge".

Conifold:

> There is no behavior incompatible with humans-as-robots "model". Universal Turing machines are called universal for a reason, they can, in principle, emulate any given behavior. When they are a good model is another question entirely. And generally, you should not conclude too much from responses on a website.

By contrast, here's someone who does know wtf they're talking about (but who isn't responding to me):

John Forkosh:

> @Conifold Re your "emulate any given behavior" That should be, "emulate any given >>computable<< behavior". So, just using the textbook halting function example: no computer can "behave" such that it answers yes/no to "Does this program halt?" for every possible program. But, given more time than I'll be alive, and given that I'm more than a pretty decent programmer, maybe I could give all the correct answers. Or maybe I couldn't. But, supposing I could, then that would represent behavior beyond which any computer is capable. And then they wouldn't be (quoting you) "a good model" .

---

Overall, still no one giving any literature that addresses my questions. I still haven't really gotten a single important thing to add to my discussion tree diagram.


curi at 9:44 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14463 | reply | quote

Clever Crows!?

Was linked to this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZerUbHmuY04

Shows that they kept repeatedly feeding a crow for dropping stuff in water. Their conclusion: crows understand what they're doing practically like humans! It's understanding causality about how water levels work!

You see the first one and it sorta looks like the crow was maybe clever but they've been repeatedly trying to get the crow to do it. They keep putting work into it. This isn't just what crows can figure out, it's what people can get crows to do. The next video on autoplay was:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbSu2PXOTOc

They are like: omg how will the crow solve the puzzle with multiple difference things involved?

Then they mention: the crow has already been given food rewards to train it to do each part individually.

So they are just doing a bunch of animal training behind the scenes to get crows to do a few things. crows will repeat actions they get food from and can be gotten to randomly do some stuff occasionally to give you the opportunity to reward it for doing that.

Not very mysterious or scientific. There's a reason I asked for actual scientific sources but people give stuff like this instead. They don't have more rigorous science on their side. They have no examples like http://curi.us/272-algorithmic-animal-behavior except where they're right instead of me.


curi at 9:56 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14464 | reply | quote

>You don't know what you're talking about. A binary computer can run an interpreter for ternary code or simulate a ternary computer.

You're right and I wasn't aware that interpreters exist for binary to ternary. I would assume we could develop similar interpreters for quaternary, etc. systems.

>And classical computers, such as brains, are not quantum computers.

Agreed. I concede those points.

From curi's post:

"A good argument would explain why the animal behavior cannot be accounted for by software algorithms like the non-AGI algorithms we know how to program today and use in video games, self-driving cars, computer vision, etc."

AGI algorithms can exhibit the same behaviour as a human. This means they can experience physical and mental suffering in the same way as a human. If not, there would be certain situations in which human responses could not be replicated by the AGI in which case it would no longer be an AGI, merely a close approximation.

A being has moral worth if it can experience physical or mental suffering.

An AGI can experience physical and mental suffering.

An AGI has moral worth.

Non AGI algorithms is a very broad term however. I would propose the concept of a ABI (Artifical Bovine Intelligence). It could be said that an ABI could accurately represent all behaviours and experiences of a cow, in the same way that an AGI could represent the behaviours and experiences of a human.

Clearly we could see that not all non-AGI are ABI. For example a Roomba is clearly a non-AGI but also clearly a non-ABI. Using the same logic we applied for humans we can say:

A being has moral worth if it can experience physical or mental suffering.

An ABI can experience physical suffering.

An ABI has moral worth.

Now the remaining issue is for me to prove that an ABI can experience physical suffering.

Since an ABI is modeled after a cow we would have to see whether a cow could experience physical suffering.

Here's a meta analysis on scientific papers published in relation to non-human animal experiences:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4494450/

"A lot of these traits and emotions are in fact already being accepted and utilised in the scientific literature. Indeed, 99.34% of the studies we recorded assumed these sentience related keywords in a number of species. In comparison, there were only 16 studies exploring the existence of these traits in animals, and these took place across the entire study focal period and were not seen to increase in recent years. The small number of studies exploring the capacity of emotions in animals suggests that such explorative studies are not increasing, as has previously been suggested"

So it seems that the scientific consensus does agree that animals (including cows) can experience mental or physical suffering. I can post more sources if you like. Since your idea goes against the scientific consensus I'm not sure why you think it should be considered "best" without some experimental evidence.

>You have given zero sources. curi gave one: http://curi.us/272-algorithmic-animal-behavior

This source does not reference whether animals experience physical or mental suffering. If you don't have experimental evidence to overturn the scientific consensus how can we accept your argument as "best"?


Patrick B at 9:58 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14465 | reply | quote

Got linked to:

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/consciousness-animal/

No search results for:

compu

algo

softw

hardw

general i

artificial i

jeez. moving on.


curi at 10:14 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14466 | reply | quote

> AGI algorithms can exhibit the same behaviour as a human. This means they can experience physical and mental suffering in the same way as a human. If not, there would be certain situations in which human responses could not be replicated by the AGI in which case it would no longer be an AGI, merely a close approximation.

> A being has moral worth if it can experience physical or mental suffering.

> An AGI can experience physical and mental suffering.

> An AGI has moral worth.

> Non AGI algorithms is a very broad term however. I would propose the concept of a ABI (Artifical Bovine Intelligence). It could be said that an ABI could accurately represent all behaviours and experiences of a cow, in the same way that an AGI could represent the behaviours and experiences of a human.

> Clearly we could see that not all non-AGI are ABI. For example a Roomba is clearly a non-AGI but also clearly a non-ABI.

Agreed.

> Since an ABI is modeled after a cow we would have to see whether a cow could experience physical suffering.

I only think mental suffering matters morally. I think "physical suffering" is a value judgment that you, the speaker, are putting on some information processing.

> So it seems that the scientific consensus does agree that animals (including cows) can experience mental or physical suffering. I can post more sources if you like.

Can you give a source which gives arguments that cows can suffer mentally? A meta study saying lots of people hold a particular opinion is not a reason it's a correct opinion. Truth isn't a popularity contest.

> This source does not reference whether animals experience physical or mental suffering.

One step at a time. Do you accept or deny that cows are similar to digger wasps and squirrels? Do you think those observations are representative of animal behavior in general? Or if you think wasps or squirrels suffer we could just focus on them instead.


Anonymous at 10:34 PM on November 20, 2019 | #14467 | reply | quote

https://philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/68557/non-robotic-animal-behaviors?noredirect=1#comment190640_68557

Philip Klöcking:

> Ravens have been shown to consider the individual traits of their peers and fake intentions in order to mislead them, which involves awareness of first-order dispositions of others and the existence of second-order dispositions (Dummet). They even have some sense of magnitude or are able to actually count. Any search on "raven intelligence" on google scholar would do. The "problem" here is that we should be careful to think that everything works according to algorithms just because algorithms can be used to describe basically anything. Things maybe are not the way we like to think (of) them.

Another typical example of a bad reply.


curi at 12:27 AM on November 21, 2019 | #14471 | reply | quote

Lots of discussion here:

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAVegan/comments/dzbzbt/animal_behaviors_that_couldnt_be_robotic/

But not much in the way of straight answers, and no sources which address my main questions/arguments.


curi at 12:49 AM on November 21, 2019 | #14472 | reply | quote

#14467

>I only think mental suffering matters morally. I think "physical suffering" is a value judgment that you, the speaker, are putting on some information processing.

I addressed this argument with curi in the following reddit thread. I've linked the last response of the thread containing my arguments.

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAVegan/comments/dzbzbt/animal_behaviors_that_couldnt_be_robotic/f8801v0/

>Can you give a source which gives arguments that cows can suffer mentally?

I could probably form an argument around the computational state of stress or fear that is output based on certain sensory inputs. I'd prefer to focus on my refutation of curi's claim that pain is only undesirable because it causes damage to the body.

curi said if I posted here he would respond so here's hoping

>One step at a time. Do you accept or deny that cows are similar to digger wasps and squirrels?

In some ways they are similar, in other ways they are not.

>Or if you think wasps or squirrels suffer we could just focus on them instead.

As far as I know there is no observed pain state associated with a wasps brain. This pain computational state is observed in all mammals though for example.


Patrick B at 8:34 AM on November 21, 2019 | #14475 | reply | quote

#14475

For reference here's the first response to curi, you can read through our exchange from here:

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAVegan/comments/dzbzbt/animal_behaviors_that_couldnt_be_robotic/f875qlt/


Patrick B at 8:37 AM on November 21, 2019 | #14476 | reply | quote

I've also posted one of the relevant sections below in case people don't feel like reading on reddit:

You claim that pain is only undesirable because we assign it a negative value judgement. According to you we assign it a negative value judgement because it causes damage to the body. If this is true then humans with CIP would develop the same negative value judgement of pain at the same time as humans who don't have CIP. However we have evidence that humans with CIP do not develop the same negative value judgements of pain (to their own detriment).

P1: If pain is undesirable only because it causes damage to the body, humans with CIP would have the same negative value judgement of pain as humans without CIP.

P2: Humans with CIP do not have the same negative value judgement of pain as humans without CIP.

C: Pain is not undesirable only because it causes damage to the body.

How would you attack this argument?


Patrick B at 9:18 AM on November 21, 2019 | #14477 | reply | quote

Some stack exchange replies, emphasis added:

vegan and pets subreddits both want to close it as off topic.

https://philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/68557/non-robotic-animal-behaviors

John Forkosh:

> @curi Just noticed your incredibly lengthy argument curi.us about animals not conscious/suffering. *You ever spend much time around dogs/cats?- It's evident that they're both.* If you deny it, try to devise an operational test demonstrating they're not. And here's one test demonstrating they are (or google for lots more) https://io9.gizmodo.com/brain-scans-show-that-dogs-are-as-conscious-as-human-ch-1442003302

Typical popular fluff article about research from alleged experts and scientists who don't seem to know anything about computer science theory. They don't talk about hardware independence of computation, Turing, universal computers, etc. They just, basically contrary to well-established, largely-uncontroversial theory, try to understand software by looking at hardware.

https://vegetarianism.stackexchange.com/questions/2034/non-robotic-animal-behaviors

badjohn:

> Take apart a human, a pig, and a robot. Which does the pig resemble most? If you saw a pig's heart or brain, could you distinguish it from a human's? I would prefer the null hypothesis that (the other) animals are closer to humans than robots.

This ain't science!


curi at 12:15 PM on November 21, 2019 | #14478 | reply | quote

I am currently streaming my reading/writing/responding to these topics today.

https://www.twitch.tv/curi42/


curi at 12:24 PM on November 21, 2019 | #14481 | reply | quote

#14475 Did you learn anything about the algorithmic nature of squirrel behavior from http://curi.us/272-algorithmic-animal-behavior ? What are your takeaways? Does it help persuade you squirrels lack general intelligence and are similar to self-driving cars? Is it plausible to you that e.g. cows are similar?


curi at 12:26 PM on November 21, 2019 | #14482 | reply | quote

#14482

>Did you learn anything about the algorithmic nature of squirrel behavior from http://curi.us/272-algorithmic-animal-behavior ?

I did read it and agreed with it.

"Only after thirty or forty repetitions will the wasp finally drag the caterpillar into its nest without further inspection. Yet the digger wasp shows a great aptitude for learning where other procedures are concerned. While in flight, it memorizes the route which it must take on the ground when returning to the nest with its prey – a very considerable feat of learning. On the other hand, the burial of its prey is an instinctive action and, thus, strongly programmed. The wasp is almost incapable of influencing or altering this part of its behavior by learning, because it is controlled by an innate and extremely incorrigible mechanism."

Now comparing to a Roomba seems silly in this case. It's clear that no matter how many times my Roomba does something it's behaviour will never exceed the instructions in its code. Whereas the wasp shows the ability to learn, even if slowly, and change from its innate behaviour.

Are there non-AGI that exhibit the same behaviour as the wasp? I am familiar with the concept of machine learning.

The argument I would make is that the wasp repeats its algorithm 30-40 times until it changed its behaviour. (I think) We could code a non-AGI that would exhibit that behaviour using the techniques of machine learning (learn correct output based on input). Since computation is hardware irrelevant it could be said that if a non-AGI went through the exact same sequence of computation it would have had a similar experience to the wasp.

They key point here is that it's not simply that the inputs and outputs have to match. The entire series of computations would have to match in order for the non-AGI and the wasp to have the same experience. As far as I know there are no accurate non-AGI algorithms that exactly mimic the algorithm of a cow, wasp, dog, etc. I would agree that if such a non-AGI existed it would have the equivalent moral status of a cow.

Now the issue is that we still have to determine the moral status of the cow.

Which is where I ask you how you determine the moral status of the cow and I will present my counterargument.

PS. Reading beginning of infinity and it's quite good so far, I realize I know nothing


Anonymous at 12:43 PM on November 21, 2019 | #14483 | reply | quote

#14483

>through the exact same sequence of computation it would have had a similar experience to the wasp.

*it would have had the exact same experience as the wasp


Patrick B at 12:44 PM on November 21, 2019 | #14484 | reply | quote

> I've also posted one of the relevant sections below in case people don't feel like reading on reddit:

> You claim that pain is only undesirable because we assign it a negative value judgement. According to you we assign it a negative value judgement because it causes damage to the body. If this is true then humans with CIP would develop the same negative value judgement of pain at the same time as humans who don't have CIP. However we have evidence that humans with CIP do not develop the same negative value judgements of pain (to their own detriment).

> P1: If pain is undesirable only because it causes damage to the body, humans with CIP would have the same negative value judgement of pain as humans without CIP.

> P2: Humans with CIP do not have the same negative value judgement of pain as humans without CIP.

> C: Pain is not undesirable only because it causes damage to the body.

> How would you attack this argument?

By CIP he means Congenital insensitivity to pain (please try to make posts self-contained and understandable for all readers, so they're useful to everyone here, including people who haven't read the reddit discussion).

The term "undesirable" is ambiguous. And the word "pain" is used without qualifiers. So let me try to steelman your argument. In particular, every use of "pain" or "suffering" needs to be stated particularly clearly about what it does or doesn't mean. Please try to do that going forward:

I have edited your argument to attempt to clarify and improve it before responding:

> ET claims: Physical pain signals from nerves only constitute mental suffering – a state of a mind which the person dislikes, doesn’t want – because we mentally assign the physical pain information signals a negative value judgement. (If we mentally assigned that information a positive value judgment, then we wouldn’t mentally suffer from it. We’d mentally see it positively. People actually do this sometimes but not often.)

> ET claims: We assign information signals from nerves called “physical pain” a negative value judgement because they are information indicating damage to the body, and we (usually) assign a negative value judgment to damage to our body. (This is a common reason, not the only possible reason. People assign a wide variety of value judgments to all sorts of things for myriad reasons.)

> If this is true, then humans with CIP would develop the same negative value judgement of physical pain information signals at the same time as humans who don't have CIP. However we have evidence that humans with CIP do not develop the same negative value judgements of physical pain information signals (to their own detriment).

CIP means they don’t receive all (most?) physical pain information signals, so why would they develop negative value judgments of something they don’t have? The reason CIP is dangerous is they are *missing information*. Their sensors, their hardware peripherals, don’t work right. So it’s harder for them to safely interact with the world and understand what’s going on, and its affects on their body, because they have less information to work with.

(Note that physical pain information signals have evolutionary survival value, which is why many animals have them too. This survival value would exist if you’re correct about animal suffering and would also exist if I’m correct about robotic, non-suffering animals.)

The rest I’m going to answer quickly without any editing:

> P1: If pain is undesirable only because it causes damage to the body, humans with CIP would have the same negative value judgement of pain as humans without CIP.

But they don’t receive all (most?) physical pain information signals.

> P2: Humans with CIP do not have the same negative value judgement of pain as humans without CIP.

> C: Pain is not undesirable only because it causes damage to the body.

Pain doesn’t cause damage to the body. The double negative is confusing. I think I answered your point above.


curi at 12:45 PM on November 21, 2019 | #14485 | reply | quote

> PS. Reading beginning of infinity and it's quite good so far, I realize I know nothing

Awesome. FYI I helped edit that book and had ~5000 hours of conversations with the author, which is the main reason I know a lot about some things. And my view of animal suffering is originally Deutsch's view, he taught it to me.

It's a very hard book to fully understand. No one understands it just by reading. The best way to learn it is to ask questions about it, and express doubts/criticisms/counter-arguments, either while first reading or during a second reading pass. The best places to do that are my forums, this website and the google group http://fallibleideas.com/discussion (now called Fallible Ideas but it was merged from several Deutsch related groups including the Beginning of Infinity group which I owned because Deutsch didn't want to be the owner).


curi at 12:49 PM on November 21, 2019 | #14486 | reply | quote

I got referred to this paper related to the crow video:

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0092895

Searched it and replied with this:

> The paper doesn't discuss hardware, software, Turing, algorithms or computation. It doesn't address the question.

So typical. Sad.


curi at 1:00 PM on November 21, 2019 | #14490 | reply | quote

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAVegan/comments/dzbzbt/animal_behaviors_that_couldnt_be_robotic/f8801v0/

fudge_mokey, who is apparently Patrick B, writes:

> > Sensations are open to interpretation. They're input data.

>

> Sensations aren't input data, now you're just being unscientific. The input data is the wavelengths of light entering your eye. The output data is the picture your brain presents to you of the outside world. This is well accepted fact.

Sensations are inputs to the mind. From the perspective of the mind, they’re inputs. They’re not outputs from the mind. It’s just terminology and you’re both getting confused and also calling me unscientific over it.

> > Without interpretation, they aren't unpleasant or pleasant.

>

> According to you there should be no difference in someone with CIP and someone without CIP. Why would two people interpret the input data of their hand burning differently? It's because one group can feel the sensation of pain and the other group cannot. You have failed to address any of my arguments on this point.

I addressed CIP at http://curi.us/2240-discussion-tree-state-of-animal-rights-debate#14485

> > There is no such thing as "the computational state associated with the sensation of pain"

>

> Again, that's your assertion. I've provided reasoning to the contrary that you've ignored.

Please stop cutting my paragraphs apart and try to understand their meaning as a whole.

> > The "sensation of pain" is certain input data.

>

> Again, that's unscientific. The input data would be the heat energy entering my finger. The output is the sensation of burning pain that my brain makes me feel. This is fact and not opinion.

A burning pain mental state isn’t an output of the mind or brain, it’s internal to the mind. All suffering is internal to the mind. It has to be. Otherwise the mind isn’t suffering and what else is there to suffer but a mind?

> > The computational state depends on what functions are called on that data and what they output. It's not determined by the input data.

>

> Agreed and you're in fact supporting my argument. The input data is the heat energy entering my finger. In an unconscious person or in a person with CIP the output data will be...nothing. There will be no physical sensation of pain based on the functions called on that heat data. In a conscious person or a person without CIP the input data of heat energy leads to a computational state of burning pain in my finger.

I don’t get your point here.


curi at 1:28 PM on November 21, 2019 | #14491 | reply | quote

> Now comparing to a Roomba seems silly in this case. It's clear that no matter how many times my Roomba does something it's behaviour will never exceed the instructions in its code. Whereas the wasp shows the ability to learn, even if slowly, and change from its innate behaviour.

It’s pretty trivial, from a programming perspective, to add a failsafe mechanism to a roomba’s algorithm to avoid it getting stuck in an infinite loop eventually. That’s what the wasp has.

> Are there non-AGI that exhibit the same behaviour as the wasp? I am familiar with the concept of machine learning.

Are you familiar enough with programming to understand how easy it is to watch for 30 repetitions and then run some other behavior algorithm to get unstuck?

It seems like the problem here is you just don’t know what sort of algorithms exist, and are even easy to create, so you’re unable to match existing programming stuff to animal behavior.

> As far as I know there are no accurate non-AGI algorithms that exactly mimic the algorithm of a cow, wasp, dog, etc. I would agree that if such a non-AGI existed it would have the equivalent moral status of a cow.

While we haven’t worked out all the details (we’re still working on self-driving cars let alone self-driving 4-legged robots, which is harder – we have those a little bit but not as good as animals) but my basic point is there’s nothing any cow does which looks different than just a bit more clever version of non-AGI algorithms we already know about.

will you grant that or will you give some scientific evidence of animal behavior which can’t be accounted for as a bit cleverer version of current non-AGI algorithms?


curi at 1:38 PM on November 21, 2019 | #14492 | reply | quote

I posted a new question:

https://bioinformatics.stackexchange.com/questions/10865/what-scientific-literature-indicates-any-animals-have-general-intelligence

> What scientific literature documents animal behaviors that contradict the theory that animals lack general intelligence?

> I'm looking for literature from people who can code, know who Turing is, talk about hardware, software, computational universality, the hardware independence of computation, AGI (or GI) and non-AGI (non-GI) algorithms, and stuff like that. I'm looking for material which compares animal behaviors to currently known algorithms and analyzes whether e.g. the behavior can by explained as an optimized version of a known non-GI algorithm or not.


curi at 1:51 PM on November 21, 2019 | #14493 | reply | quote

#14492

>but my basic point is there’s nothing any cow does which looks different than just a bit more clever version of non-AGI algorithms we already know about.

I would also ask you why it is relevant to include the "non-AGI" descriptor for the algorithm about a cow. By definition(from my understanding) an AGI algorithm would be one that can perfectly mimic the experiences of a human. Clearly a cow will never reach the level of AGI because by definition that requires the ability to match the capabilities of a human.

Since a cow will never match the full capabilities of a human then by definition we can say that any AI that accurately models the experience of a cow will be by definition a non-AGI algorithm.

We can also agree that an algorithm that could perfectly mimic the experiences of a cow would have the same moral value as a cow. (hardware independence of computation)

>It’s pretty trivial, from a programming perspective, to add a failsafe mechanism to a roomba’s algorithm to avoid it getting stuck in an infinite loop eventually. That’s what the wasp has.

However the programmer would need to add additional code to be executed after the failsafe was triggered. It's unknown whether that additional code was already present in the brain of the wasp or whether the wasp produced new code which was used to handle the situation. Would you agree?

>ET claims: Physical pain signals from nerves only constitute mental suffering – a state of a mind which the person dislikes, doesn’t want – because we mentally assign the physical pain information signals a negative value judgement.

How do these "negative value judgements" relate back to the experience of a human? Are they separate from the computational state of our mind? Or are they merely a feedback mechanism whereby they can affect change in the computational state of our mind?


Patrick B at 3:02 PM on November 21, 2019 | #14498 | reply | quote

> I would also ask you why it is relevant to include the "non-AGI" descriptor for the algorithm about a cow. By definition(from my understanding) an AGI algorithm would be one that can perfectly mimic the experiences of a human.

That isn't what AGI means. It means artificial general intelligence.

Because you don't know what you're talking about, I'm done for now. You have two choices:

1) https://elliottemple.com/debate-policy

2) You can start asking questions about the FI-related books you're reading and trying to learn.

Good luck, best wishes, but I have better things to do than debate with someone who doesn't know what AGI stands for while trying to talk about it.


curi at 3:07 PM on November 21, 2019 | #14500 | reply | quote

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAVegan/comments/dzb2ge/animal_rights_issues_regarding_software_and_agi/f89selz/?context=3

> I am sorry but this is just the same animal intelligence argument as always. Your rehashing of it just sets AGI as the intelligence bar. I realize you think its not, and maybe you are eager to apply your probably impressive coding knowledge to this problem, but I really don't think it works at making any new argument, and so is not worth taking seriously.

> You may as well be arguing animals don't drive cars so they are not worth moral consideration - and asking for vegans to provide research showing animals can drive cars, because that is all you will accept as a counter argument.

Guy with no arguments taking a principled stand against arguments b/c unspecified arguments about some other different issues have been given to other people in the past. In particular, he just doesn't like the idea of a cutoff for what makes an animal good enough. But the AGI issue provides a *binary* cutoff instead of degree one, so that's different.

But I'm now throttled to one comment per 10 minutes on reddit so i can't really discuss anymore.


curi at 3:37 PM on November 21, 2019 | #14501 | reply | quote

>That isn't what AGI means. It means artificial general intelligence.

"When asked their opinions about “human-level artificial intelligence” — aka “artificial general intelligence” (AGI)1 — many experts understandably reply that these terms haven’t yet been precisely defined, and it’s hard to talk about something that hasn’t been defined."

https://intelligence.org/2013/06/19/what-is-intelligence-2/

I would propose a reasonable definition of human-level would be an intelligence that could perform the same tasks as a human at the same level.

A human performs tasks based on sequences of computational states. If an AI were not able to effectively mimic these sequences of computational states it would not be able to perform the same tasks as a human at the same level. By definition (or so I thought).

If you have a more reasonable explanation to share or resources you'd prefer me to read before I can make a formal request as per your debate policy please share them.


Patrick B at 3:49 PM on November 21, 2019 | #14502 | reply | quote

One of my big takeaways is most animal rights people denigrate humans. Rather than defending the value of animals, they deny that humans are special, all that intelligent, etc.


curi at 4:04 PM on November 21, 2019 | #14503 | reply | quote

#14508 He didn't like that.


curi at 6:41 PM on November 21, 2019 | #14512 | reply | quote

https://vegetarianism.stackexchange.com/questions/2034/non-robotic-animal-behaviors

RIP. And moderators are so consistently such nasty people.


curi at 6:49 PM on November 21, 2019 | #14513 | reply | quote

Saving this before some stack exchange moderator deletes it, someone gave a bunch of sources that don't appear to deal with computation or any specific diagram nodes, and then he refused to specify a single thing that was relevant to any specific node or to answer whether any of of them address computation stuff (the titles look like most or all don't).

https://philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/68549/where-can-i-find-arguments-for-animal-rights/68550#comment190599_68550

---

You mention Peter Singer, who approaches the topic from a utilitarian rather than a right-based standpoint. Besides Animal Liberation (2nd ed., 1995), you might try:

P. Singer, The Animal Liberation Movement: its Philosophy, its Achievements and its Future. ISBN 10: 1909798622 / ISBN 13: 9781909798625 Published by Active Distribution, London, 2019.

P. Singer, ed.: In Defence of Animals. Oxford: Blackwell, 1985.ISBN 10: 063113896X / ISBN 13: 9780631138969.

Stephen Clarke is also a notable philosophical writer on the topic:

S.R.L. Clarke, The Nature of the Beast, SBN 10: 0192830414 / ISBN 13: 9780192830418 Published by Oxford University Press, 1984.

S.R.L. Clark, The Moral Status of Animals. Published by Oxford Paperbacks (1984) ISBN 10: 0192830406 ISBN 13: 9780192830401.

See also:

Magnus Vinding, Speciesism: Why It Is Wrong and the Implications of Rejecting It. ISBN 10: 154651032X / ISBN 13: 9781546510321 Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015.

M. Hauser, Moral Minds, Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong. ISBN 10: 0349118094 / ISBN 13: 9780349118093 Published by Abacus, 2008. [Claims only humans have evolved morality.]

Julian H. Franklin, Animal Rights And Moral Philosophy. ISBN 10: 0231134223 / ISBN 13: 9780231134224. Published by Columbia University Press, 2005.

R. Ryder, The Animal Revolution: Changing Attitudes to Speciesism. Oxford: Blackwell, 1989. ISBN 10: 0631152393 / ISBN 13: 9780631152392.

M.Midgley, Animals and Why They Matter. ISBN 10: 014022386X / ISBN 13: 9780140223866 Published by Penguin Books Ltd, 1983.

R.G. Frey, Interests and Rights: The Case Against Animals (Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy), ISBN 10: 0198244215 / ISBN 13: 9780198244219 Published by Oxford University Press, 1980. [Denies that animals have rights on the ground that they have no 'interests' in the sense defined by Frey.]

S. Godlovitch, Animals, man and morals: An enquiry into the maltreatment of non-humans. ISBN 10: 0575013443 / ISBN 13: 9780575013445 Published by Gollancz, 1971.

These texts have information relevant to the boxes in your diagram.


curi at 6:53 PM on November 21, 2019 | #14514 | reply | quote

#14513 Good thing I saved that, she already deleted all of it:

Erica:

> Comments cleaned since I know you've seen them. To summarize: please use Veganism & Vegetarianism Chat for extended discussion, or Veganism & Vegetarianism Meta to talk about topicality and how to ask good questions. Thanks for using StackExchange.


curi at 7:09 PM on November 21, 2019 | #14516 | reply | quote

Not much new stuff on reddit overnight.

Also this, emphasis added:

https://vegetarianism.stackexchange.com/questions/2034/non-robotic-animal-behaviors

Manuki:

> *Metaphysics are opinion-based.* I would advise spending time with or raising an animal and paying attention to their emotional behavior and the relationship they form with you. Try and notice what makes a specific animal personality completely unique when compared to others. Then I would recommend to start with identifying these "documented behaviors" that are not robotic (by your standards) in humans, and then try to see if animals have corresponding behaviors. Finally you should set up strict definitions for the words you use such as "suffering". Good luck with your philosophical search.

No truth, just opinions, and also if you had ever spent much time with an animal you would agree that your views are false, invalid opinions. So unintellectual.


curi at 11:56 AM on November 22, 2019 | #14521 | reply | quote

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAVegan/comments/dzu6j8/animals_lack_general_intelligence/f8bz35h/

So this guy denies that "minds are software", then denies many experts believe that, then specifically denies, to me, that David Deutsch believes that. My reply:

> What specifically did David Deutsch say that led you to believe he thinks minds are software? I don't think he believes this.

I've had ~5000 hours of discussions with David Deutsch. I edited BoI extensively and own the google group and website for it. He literally, personally taught and persuaded me of this viewpoint, including ~all this stuff i've said re animal rights.

Roughly what you want came up in my interview with him:

https://beginningofinfinity.com/interview

> David: As to innate intelligence: I don't think that can possibly exist because of the universality of computation. Basically, intelligence or any kind of measure of quality of thinking is a measure of quality of software, not hardware. People might say, "Well, what hardware you have might affect how well your software can address problems." But because of universality, that isn't so: we know that hardware can at most affect the speed of computation. The thing that people call intelligence in everyday life — like the ability of some people like Einstein or Feynman to see their way through to a solution to a problem while other people can't — simply doesn't take the form that the person you regard as 'unintelligent' would take a year to do something that Einstein could do in a week; it's not a matter of speed. What we really mean is the person can't understand at all what Einstein can understand. And that cannot be a matter of (inborn) hardware, it is a matter of (learned) software.

Here is an exact quote from DD on private discussion group of mine, in 2010, which I don't think he'd mine me sharing:

> AI, and human intelligence, is software. It has nothing to do with the brain

Back to yyzjertl:

> A computational process that is not software.

What does that mean? What else would a computer use? Software means "the programs and other operating information used by a computer". Are you just being picky about definitions?


curi at 12:18 PM on November 22, 2019 | #14522 | reply | quote

#14522 He doubles down on doubting DD believes what I claim even after discovering I'm one of DD's closest associates. He just won't acknowledge or face the reality of the info I gave him. This kind of reaction is actually typical. He isn't like "omg cool, this is almost like meeting DD, i have so many questions for you".


curi at 12:32 PM on November 22, 2019 | #14524 | reply | quote

#14524 He will neither believe me that I know DD's position on this matter nor directly challenge any of my claims re knowing DD. He's a dishonest evader. That's a really typical response to getting this kind of unexpected info – that he ran into a worldclass expert on something (DD's views) – that's outside his experience.


curi at 12:44 PM on November 22, 2019 | #14525 | reply | quote

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAVegan/comments/dzu6j8/animals_lack_general_intelligence/f8c98by/?context=3

i do sympathize with how ppl like this get ppl to favor the "principle of charity" and steelmanning

there is a real, common problem with massive fucking bias, unreasonableness, etc.

charity/steel is ok first approximation that's better than what ppl like this do. not epistemologically sophisticated tho

and often misused by ppl with massive bias problems

same as burden of proof is not epistemologically sophisticated, but is ok first approximation, but also is massively abused by biased ppl


curi at 12:48 PM on November 22, 2019 | #14526 | reply | quote

#14525

Also it's kinda amazing he tried to debate me on what DD thinks rather than shifting the topic back to what's true and leaving DD out of it.


curi at 12:52 PM on November 22, 2019 | #14527 | reply | quote

Nice example of how bad people are at using quoting or clear references:

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAVegan/comments/dzud4h/animal_welfare_discussion_tree/f8casi5/?context=3


curi at 1:00 PM on November 22, 2019 | #14528 | reply | quote

#14529 I think this is pretty much the end of the last conversation.


curi at 2:33 PM on November 22, 2019 | #14531 | reply | quote

#14531 The end except that Patrick B, aka Fudge_Mokey, said he's gonna read BoI, write 3 articles / blog posts, and come back to talk more.


curi at 2:36 PM on November 22, 2019 | #14532 | reply | quote

#14531 He gave a final reply which is super dishonest:

> Glad to hear you're conceding the point. I hope you avoid claiming that minds are software in the future, and stick to language like David Deutsch's instead, which is much less objectionable.

I didn't concede the point, and he knows it. He's dishonest.

And at no point in the discussion was a language difference between me and DD established. He's being dishonest and vague about that too.

In FoR DD used e.g. "computer program" instead of "software" and said minds are computer programs. So what? yyzjertl disagrees with that claim too and didn't even try to claim it was anything different than what I said. And DD used the term "software" in the non-FoR quotes I gave.

He was also stunningly dishonest in how he dealt with my world class expertise re the narrow issue of what DD's views are, and there's an element of that here where he tries again to separate me and DD even though we agree about this.


curi at 2:44 PM on November 22, 2019 | #14533 | reply | quote

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAVegan/comments/dzud4h/animal_welfare_discussion_tree/f8jy4ki/?context=3

> What's it with cranks and this kind of diagrams?

I haven't seen cranks use this kind of diagram. I think he's just yelling with zero evidence. His main point is to insult me as a "crank".

But I thought of a reason he might associate cranks with diagrams. Cranks are people who aren't being listened to. They are people who have trouble communicating their ideas to others. From that perspective, it makes sense that cranks would put additional effort into communication. Whereas, in lots of ways, normal conformist people are careless and minimal with their communication, and if they aren't understood they blame the other guy for not being conformist enough (he should already know what that means without being told). In mainstream social climber culture you see a lot of stuff made harder to understand on purpose so it takes more work to keep up or climb. They need something to compete over so some people can outperform others. The appearance of low effort communication is a major example of the law of least effort.


curi at 12:19 PM on November 25, 2019 | #14567 | reply | quote

NYC bans foie gras cuz it's "cruel" to the duck/goose. ideas have consequences!

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/bizarre-delicacy-is-cruel-de-blasio-signs-bill-banning-foie-gras-in-nyc


Anonymous at 6:22 AM on November 26, 2019 | #14591 | reply | quote

curi at 12:00 PM on December 2, 2019 | #14655 | reply | quote

#14655 The mod is now deleting lots of comments (without notifications they're removed) and threatening bans.

https://www.removeddit.com/r/DebateAVegan/comments/dzu6j8/animals_lack_general_intelligence/f8ck29h/


Anonymous at 2:06 PM on December 2, 2019 | #14656 | reply | quote

Adequate World?

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAVegan/comments/e4ul7v/the_programmers_challenge_to_animal_rights/f9i54of/

If I'm right about ~everything, that includes my views of the broad irrationality of academia and the negative value of current published research in many of the fields in question.

For example, David Deutsch's static meme idea, available in BoI, was rejected for academic publication ~20 years earlier. Academia gatekeeps to keep out ideas they don't want to hear, and they don't really debate what's true much in journals. It's like a highly moderated forum with biased moderators following unwritten and inconsistent rules (like reddit but stricter!).

My arguments re animals are largely Deutsch's. He taught me his worldview. The reason he doesn't write it up and publish it in a journal is because (he believes that) it either wouldn't be published or wouldn't be listened to (and it would alienate people who will listen to his physics papers). The same goes for many other important ideas he has. Being in the Royal Society, etc., is inadequate to effectively get past the academic gatekeeping (to get both published and seriously, productively engaged with). I don't think a PhD and 20 published papers would help either (especially not with issues involving many fields at once). I don't think people would, at that point, start considering and learning different ideas than what they already have, e.g. learning Critical Rationalism so they could apply that framework to animal rights to reach a conclusion like 'If Critical Rationalism is true, then animal rights is wrong." (And CR is not the only controversial premise I use that people are broadly ignorant of, so it's harder than that.) People commonly dismiss others, despite many credentials, if they don't like the message. I don't think playing the game of authority and credentials – an irrational game – will solve the problem of people's disinterest in truth-seeking. This is, again, a view Deutsch taught me.

Karl Popper published a ton but was largely ignored. Thomas Szasz too. There are many other examples. Even if I got published, I could easily be treated like e.g. Richard Lindzen who has published articles doubting some claims about global warming.

> Instead of rudely dismissing arguments that are outside of the disciplines you're most comfortable with, try to meet these people on their level.

If I'm right about ~everything (premise), that includes that I'm right about my understanding of evolution and biology, *which are areas I've studied a lot* (as has Deutsch). Those are not areas outside my comfort zone.

> I think that advice is good whether or not you're correct; if you are, people far more intelligent than I should start to recognize it.

We disagree about the current state of the world. How many smart people exist, how many competent people exist in what fields, how reasonable are intellectuals, what sort of things do they do, etc. You mention Eliezer Yudkowsky, who FYI agrees with me about this something like this particular issue, e.g. he denies "civilizational adequacy", and says the world is on fire, in Hero Licenscing. OTOH, he's also the same guy who took moderator action to suppress discussion of Critical Rationalism on his site because – according to him – it was downvoted a lot (factually there were lots of downvotes, but I mean he actually said that was his reason for taking moderator action – so basically just suppressing unpopular ideas on the basis that they are unpopular). He has publicly claimed Critical Rationalism is crap but has never written anything substantive about that and won't debate, answer counter-arguments, or endorse any criticism of Critical Rationalism written by someone else (and I'm pretty confident there is no public evidence that he knows much about CR).

The reason I asked about how to fix this is I think your side of the debate, including academic institutions and their alleged adequacy, *are blocking error correction*. They don't allow any reasonable or realistic way that, if I'm right, it gets fixed. FYI I've written about the general topic of how intellectuals are closed to ideas and what rational methods of truth seeking look like, e.g. Paths Forward. The basic theme of that article is about doing intellectual activities in such a way that, if you're wrong, and someone knows you're wrong, and they're willing to tell you, *you don't prevent them from correcting you*. Currently ~everyone is doing that wrong. (Of course there are difficulties like how to do this in a time-efficient manner, which I go into. It's not an easy problem to solve but I think it is solvable.)

---

> Lastly, I encourage anyone observing from the sidelines to use Google Scholar or similar if you have an interest in animal general intelligence. I linked an article above; here it is again.

PS, FYI it's readily apparent from the first sentence of the abstract of that article that it's based on an intellectual framework which contradicts the one in *The Beginning of Infinity*. It views intelligence in a different way than we do, which must be partly due to some epistemology ideas which are not stated or cited in the paper. And it doesn't contain the string "compu" so it isn't engaging with our framework re computation either (instead it's apparently making unstated, uncited background assumptions again, which I fear may not even be thought through).

I guess you'll think that, in that case, I should debate epistemologists, not animal rights advocates. Approach one of the biggest points of disagreements more directly. I don't object to that. I do focus a lot on epistemology and issues closer to it. The animal welfare thing is a side project. But the situation in academic epistemology has the same problems I talked about in my sibling post and is, overall, IMO, worse. Also, even if I convinced many epistemologists, that might not help much, considering lots of what I was saying about computation is already a standard (sorta, see quote) view among experts. Deutsch actually complains about that last issue in *The Fabric of Reality* (bold text emphasized by me):

> The Turing principle, for instance, has **hardly ever been seriously doubted** as a pragmatic truth, at least in its weak forms (for example, that a universal computer could render any physically possible environment). Roger Penrose's criticisms are **a rare exception, for he understands that contradicting the Turing principle involves contemplating radically new theories in both physics and epistemology**, and some interesting new assumptions about biology too. Neither Penrose nor anyone else has yet **actually proposed any viable rival** to the Turing principle, so it remains the prevailing fundamental theory of computation. **Yet the proposition that *artificial intelligence* is possible in principle, which follows by simple logic from this prevailing theory, is by no means taken for granted.** (An artificial intelligence is a computer program that possesses properties of the human mind including intelligence, consciousness, free will and emotions, but runs on hardware other than the human brain.) The possibility of artificial intelligence is **bitterly contested** by eminent philosophers (including, alas, Popper), scientists and mathematicians, and by at least one prominent computer scientist. But **few of these opponents seem to understand that they are contradicting the acknowledged fundamental principle of a fundamental discipline.** They contemplate no alternative foundations for the discipline, as Penrose does. **It is as if they were denying the possibility that we could travel to Mars, without noticing that our best theories of engineering and physics say that we can.** Thus they violate a basic tenet of rationality — that good explanations are not to be discarded lightly.

>

> But it is not only the opponents of artificial intelligence who have failed to incorporate the Turing principle into their paradigm. **Very few others have done so either.** The fact that **four decades passed after the principle was proposed before anyone investigated its implications for physics**, and a further decade passed before quantum computation was discovered, bears witness to this. People were accepting and using the principle pragmatically within computer science, but it was not integrated with their overall world-view.

I think we live in a world where you can be as famous as Turing, have ~everyone agree you're right, and still have many implications of your main idea substantively ignored for decades (or forever, I think this is a better result than has happened with many other ideas). As Yudkowsky says, it's not an *adequate* world.


curi at 4:43 PM on December 2, 2019 | #14659 | reply | quote

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