TTA Community Project. Code Name: Apophenia
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20-02-2015, 10:25 AM
RE: TTA Community Project. Code Name: Apophenia
(15-02-2015 12:33 PM)DLJ Wrote:  Many of you will have heard theists argue that if we are just “molecules in motion” from whence, then, does morality come? They are simplistically confusing the physical and intentional stances… confusing hardware with software, perhaps.

And how often have we pointed out to passing theists that consciousness can come from unconsciousness and that every cell of our bodies is non-living etc. etc.

It's getting tedious, right?

On this thread --> HoC's thread I suggested using the combined talents of all the smartarses on TTA, the boil-ology experts, the fizzy-cysts, philosophers, IT programmers, IT systems pros and AI gurus to come up with a model to show how it could work.

Chas figured it was a fools' errand and signed up immediately. FC, Hafnof and Mathilda nibbled but didn't bite.

So, I'm thinking, why not... even if it's just me and Chas.

I'll do a longer write up soon to explain what I'm droning on about.

Watch this space. Wink
It seems like the responses so far aren't very focused compared to your initial proposal above, which is (definitely) to answer the question "whence comes morality" and (maybe) how life comes from non-life. Even that is pretty far-reaching.

WTF, I'm in.

In all honesty, I think that morality is a pretty easy one, and also fairly well understood. Simply put, morality is an emergent property of society, consisting of implicit and explicit negotiations that happen whenever 2 or more people have to cooperate or coexist in some fashion. These negotiations are naturally directed towards how we can have the sort of civil society that most sane people want to live in. Enforcement mechanisms include civil law, societal taboos and shunning. There is wide agreement on some simple provisions of societal morality (prohibitions against murder) and in other cases not so much (table etiquette -- is it polite or boorish to belch after a meal?).

The practical angle of morality you may wish to discuss in this thread, is how would we instill morality in a human-equivalent or better Artificial Intelligence, such that when it eventually achieves ASI (Artifical Super-Intelligence) it will (a) notice us and (b) treat us kindly, considerately and respectfully and hopefully even benevolently, rather than squashing us like insects, intentionally or otherwise.

As for life from non-life, the short answer is we don't currently know, but have a hypothesis known as abiogenesis which seems like the best avenue for exploration we currently have. We also know that life is a particular self-sustaining and evolving configuration of non-living components (molecules, compounds) so, again, like morality, it's an emergent property of a particular configuration of nonliving organic and inorganic substances, just as morality is an emergent property of a particular configuration of people.

I am interested and knowledgable enough to discuss parts of this question but I would respectfully suggest that this thread should be split off in such a way as to break these questions down into aspects that can be tackled independently. Otherwise, this thread will become unwieldy.
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22-02-2015, 02:17 AM
RE: TTA Community Project. Code Name: Apophenia
(17-02-2015 01:43 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  Life doesn't emulate computing, computing emulates life. So it is a bit of a fool's errand to look for life traits that are equivalent to computational machinery, it is the opposite.

You are suggesting that the two stacks are swapped :
Quote:List One: The Silicon Stack
List Two: The Carbon Stack

So the Carbon Stack is List One.

No problem with that. That's how the conversation has been going anyway.

(17-02-2015 01:43 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  Need a good definition of life. Need a good definition of morals/morality.

The very end of the spectrum of life is too fuzzy. Ergo, where does one draw the line between chemistry and biochemistry? Which redox reactions are non-life, while others constitute components and reactions within life? Are viruses living? Etc.

I don't think there is a line. That's kinda my point. It's evolved software on evolved hardware.

My thinking is that the theists' "life from non-life" argument is fallacious because it is comparing the physical (hardware) layer with the intention (application) layer.

It's like they are saying "how do you get MS Excel from plastic and metal? Did all the components of a PC just magically assemble themselves... add electricity and Voila! A thinking tool is created?"

(17-02-2015 01:43 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  I'd suggest not starting off with a definition of all life, but one for more derived lifeforms in the animal kingdom.

Did someone order the fish?

Full Circle, this is where you come in.

(17-02-2015 04:31 PM)Full Circle Wrote:  ...
“I’m one of those stoopid people.”
...

Obviously, not so much Wink

(17-02-2015 01:43 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  Thus ignoring anything that isn't an animal, and then ignore anything without a basic brain (at least a system of synapses). This would eliminate a lot, like Porifera and Cnidara (sponges and jellyfish). Or to put it another way, the Prokaryotic, single-celled, and Photosynthetic varieties of life are more reactive in terms of chemistry. Protists for instance "hunt" for food by detecting chemical tracers of food particles (bacteria commonly). There is no thought process in this, it is reactive. You need lifeforms capable of thought (directed and intentional actions) in order to discuss morals/morality.

Morals then could be a behavior that benefits the individual and the community of organisms in which it lives (transcending species), while minimizing harm to the community.

I like where you're going with this line of thought.

Personally, I don't think morality is in any way needed for the individual. I think it's only societal. Sometimes we do altruistic stuff that does not benefit ourselves.

Thumbsup

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22-02-2015, 02:30 AM (This post was last modified: 22-02-2015 02:59 AM by DLJ.)
RE: TTA Community Project. Code Name: Apophenia
(20-02-2015 10:25 AM)mordant Wrote:  It seems like the responses so far aren't very focused compared to your initial proposal above, which is (definitely) to answer the question "whence comes morality" and (maybe) how life comes from non-life. Even that is pretty far-reaching.
...

That's because the OP was just an appetite whetter. The proposal was in post #10.

(20-02-2015 10:25 AM)mordant Wrote:  WTF, I'm in.

In all honesty, I think that morality is a pretty easy one, and also fairly well understood. Simply put, morality is an emergent property of society, consisting of implicit and explicit negotiations that happen whenever 2 or more people have to cooperate or coexist in some fashion. These negotiations are naturally directed towards how we can have the sort of civil society that most sane people want to live in. Enforcement mechanisms include civil law, societal taboos and shunning. There is wide agreement on some simple provisions of societal morality (prohibitions against murder) and in other cases not so much (table etiquette -- is it polite or boorish to belch after a meal?).

The practical angle of morality you may wish to discuss in this thread, is how would we instill morality in a human-equivalent or better Artificial Intelligence, such that when it eventually achieves ASI (Artifical Super-Intelligence) it will (a) notice us and (b) treat us kindly, considerately and respectfully and hopefully even benevolently, rather than squashing us like insects, intentionally or otherwise.

As for life from non-life, the short answer is we don't currently know, but have a hypothesis known as abiogenesis which seems like the best avenue for exploration we currently have. We also know that life is a particular self-sustaining and evolving configuration of non-living components (molecules, compounds) so, again, like morality, it's an emergent property of a particular configuration of nonliving organic and inorganic substances, just as morality is an emergent property of a particular configuration of people.

I am interested and knowledgeable enough to discuss parts of this question but I would respectfully suggest that this thread should be split off in such a way as to break these questions down into aspects that can be tackled independently. Otherwise, this thread will become unwieldy.

Agreed ... on all points.

To avoid the potential unwieldiness, I'd like to stick to the ASI angle you mentioned (as per the proposal in post #10).

The nature of morality has been discussed many times on many threads before.

Regarding ASI, I think it's got something to do with the human ability to simulate 'self', simulate 'other selves' and simulate 'future'.

So, simulation software is the key to giving Artificial Intelligence 'consciousness'.

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22-02-2015, 02:57 AM
RE: TTA Community Project. Code Name: Apophenia
I'm trying (not too successfully) to visualise The Carbon Stack, based on contributions so far.
The added factor that youz guyz have got me puzzling over is time. I confess I was seeing this as a 3 not 4 dimensional snapshot.

But anyway... a little summary of where we've got to:

Intentional Stance:
-- Economies
-- Simulation of 'future(s)'
-- Culture
-- Societies as specialised ecosystems
-- Simulation of 'other selves'

Design Stance:
-- Components of society: Individuals of various species, and technological components
-- Simulation of 'self'
-- Ecosystems
-- Darwinian evolution
-- Life as a whole
-- Biology
-- Biochemistry *

Physical Stance:
-- Geology *
-- Chemistry
-- Physics
-- Thermodynamic fundamentals
-- Cosmology

* Mathilda's 'but': biochemistry might come before geology if panspermia is correct.

The 'Simulation of Future' software evolved, I reckon, as a direct consequence of 'mobility' and specifically our 'throwing' ability i.e. the animals with the best 'trajectory-estimation software' had the advantage over those that didn't.

Thoughts?

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22-02-2015, 03:00 AM
RE: TTA Community Project. Code Name: Apophenia
I don't personally think comparing machines and natural life is going to be very useful. As a computer scientist you'd think that this would be the angle that I personally take but it isn't so. Life is a naturally occuring physical system.

I've read some particularly painful papers from the 60's where they tried to explain that emotions functioned like an interrupt in a computer. It was just so flawed because it did not recognise that the brain is fundamentally different to a computer. It came about for different reasons, works in different ways, has completely different strengths, weaknesses and constraints, is made from completely different materials etc. It's like assuming that a wind turbine and a sand dune are equivalent because they both adapt to the wind. The wind turbine was built for a specific function, the sand dune just is. On the other hand they were right in that emotions significantly alter the behaviour of an agent. But they were thinking discretely in binary terms rather than thinking of continuous systems acting like gain controls.

Saying that though, if you do want to go down this road then you want to look at the flow of information. That has been the current fashion for a while now, probably because it's intuitive for a Computer Scientist to think in those terms. Information theory came about from thermodynamics. My thinking is that it isn't the most fundamental aspect of how these systems operate though.
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22-02-2015, 03:18 AM
RE: TTA Community Project. Code Name: Apophenia
(22-02-2015 03:00 AM)Mathilda Wrote:  ...
Saying that though, if you do want to go down this road then you want to look at the flow of information.
...

Yup. Fool's errand it may well be. But that's the road I'm heading down. Ya coming? Big Grin

Would it be reasonable to start modelling this from an 'information flow within systems' perspective?

Kinda where I was going with the earlier posts about the senses and memory.

Advice needed.

Cheers.

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