53. Making Beliefs Pay Rent (in Anticipated Experiences)

53. Making Beliefs Pay Rent (in Anticipated Experiences)

Das ist einer der wichtigsten Texte ,die du jemals lesen wirst Yudkowsky’s.
Viele Streitigkeiten lassen sich auf unterschiedliche Defintionen zurückführen. Die beiden Kontrahenten antizipieren keine unterschiedlichen Ereignisse.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? One says, “Yes it does, for it makes vibrations in the air.” Another says, “No it does not, for there is no auditory processing in any brain.”
Suppose that, after the tree falls, the two walk into the forest together. Will one expect to see the tree fallen to the right, and the other expect to see the tree fallen to the left? Suppose that before the tree falls, the two leave a sound recorder next to the tree. Would one, playing back the recorder, expect to hear something different from the other? Suppose they attach an electroencephalograph to any brain in the world; would one expect to see a different trace than the other? Though the two argue, one saying “No,” and the other saying “Yes,” they do not anticipate any different experiences.  The two think they have different models of the world, but they have no difference with respect to what they expect will happen to them.

So warum, eliminieren wir nicht alle Konzepte, die sich nicht direkt beobachten lassen? Weil selbst das Betrachten des Fußbodens eigentlich schon komplizierter ist als es scheint.

It’s tempting to try to eliminate this mistake class by insisting that the only legitimate kind of belief is an anticipation of sensory experience. But the world does, in fact, contain much that is not sensed directly. We don’t see the atoms underlying the brick, but the atoms are in fact there. There is a floor beneath your feet, but you don’t experience the floor directly; you see the light reflected from the floor, or rather, you see what your retina and visual cortex have processed of that light. To infer the floor from seeing the floor is to step back into the unseen causes of experience. It may seem like a very short and direct step, but it is still a step.

Um also sensorische Erfahrungen zu antizipieren, brauchen wir oft Theorien, die nicht direkte Antizipationen sensorischer Erfahrung sind.

Dies ist eine große Stärke, aber auch eine große Schwäche. Denn viele Menschen glauben an Dinge, die man nicht nur nicht antizipieren kann, sondern die zudem auch noch nicht existieren.

It is a great strength of Homo sapiens that we can, better than any other species in the world, learn to model the unseen. It is also one of our great weak points. Humans often believe in things that are not only unseen but unreal.

The same brain that builds a network of inferred causes behind sensory experience, can also build a network of causes that is not connected to sensory experience, or poorly connected. Alchemists believed that phlogiston caused fire – we could oversimply their minds by drawing a little node labeled “Phlogiston”, and an arrow from this node to their sensory experience of a crackling campfire – but this belief yielded no advance predictions; the link from phlogiston to experience was always configured after the experience, rather than constraining the experience in advance.

We can build up whole networks of beliefs that are connected only to each other – call these “floating” beliefs. It is a uniquely human flaw among animal species, a perversion of Homo sapiens’s ability to build more general and flexible belief networks.

The rationalist virtue of empiricism consists of constantly asking which experiences our beliefs predict – or better yet, prohibit.  Do you believe that phlogiston is the cause of fire?  Then what do you expect to see happen, because of that? Do you believe that Wulky Wilkinsen is a post-utopian? Then what do you expect to see because of that?

Deine Theorien sollten also immer falsifizierbar sein, sonst kannst du nicht aus Erfahrung lernen.

It is even better to ask: what experience must not happen to you?  Do you believe that elan vital explains the mysterious aliveness of living beings?  Then what does this belief not allow to happen – what would definitely falsify this belief? A null answer means that your belief does not constrain experience; it permits anything to happen to you.  It floats.

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