On 1/28/2011 8:00 PM, ColinHales wrote:
Hi folk,

Our belief system state in relation to the the truth/falsehood of COMP
is a truly bizarre corner of science. The concept is simple, yet as an
empirical proposition, it has eluded the kind of definitive testing
that, for example, basic physics would accept as conclusive.

If X is a potential scientific belief, then empirical examination of
the consequences of X adds weight to a body of evidence suggesting
that adopting the belief is of predictive utility. Fine Fine Fine. If
it works, then X is restated in some usable form ... say 'law of
nature X' or X_lon.

In the formulation of a testable version of belief X, however, is a
process of critical argument that helps us define what X means and
what evidence might be critically dependent on the truth of X. During
the critical argument, you find and weigh up the feasibility of X as a
law of nature and what easily accessible consequences might facilitate
an early decision on X. During this pre 'law of nature' phase, X might
be discarded because it is easy to find sets of conditions which are
inconsistent with X... so we then, sensibly, adopt the position that X
is untenable as a truth of the natural world. And we move on ... all
the while keeping X as a possibility ... albeit improbable.

In the greater environment of the claim X = 'computationalism', when
you look at the way science is behaving, one can empirically measure
psychologically bizarre belief systems. That is, critical examination
revealing low likelihood fails to become evidence consistent with
COMP's falsehood. The truth of COMP has never been proven in any
logical or empirical way. Yet legions of 'Artificial General
Intelligence'  (AGI) workers spend tens and hundreds of $millions on
projects whose outcomes are critically dependent on COMP being
true. .... and the investors are _never_ told about the fundamental
act of faith they are embarked upon. .... a level of faith that would
never be acceptable elsewhere.

I don't think AGI workers have ever promised consciousness - just intelligence. In fact for many purposes consciousness would be regarded as an unacceptable attribute (c.f. John McCarthy http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/consciousness/consciousness.html ).

Brent

We have multiple instances of people who have elevated the level of
doubt surrounding COMP way beyond the levels normally accepted as
making a proposition highly suspect.... yet here are the legions of
AGI workers ... all plodding along on faith, continuing to believe for
reasons that I cannot fathom.

I can cite many arguments that, despite attempts to confirm it, find
good reasons supporting COMP's falsehood. Anywhere else, where truths
are entertained despite good reasoning, acting as if COMP was true
makes it a religious proposition, not science.

Now, I am not a psychologist. But I have read a lot on the history of
science and have lived within it all my adult life. I am trying to
understand what broken logic underpins blind faith in COMP that is
also consistent with a more general belief_malfunction in science.
After several years of analysis I think I have a proposition that is
predictive of this strange state in science:

There seems to be a profound, institutionalized failure within
scientists that results, for whatever reason, in an inability to
distinguish between the actual natural world and a (mathematical)
model of its behaviour, as apparent to a scientist.

For reasons I cannot fathom, the idea that these two things can be
different is like a massive blind-spot. If you raise the possibility,
very bizarre objections arise that are indistinguishable from the
objections that a believer has in their religion.

I will continue to battle this blind spot as best I can.

Thanks for the Maudlin. I'll add it to the pile of COMP = FALSE
evidence.
By the way, I have a pile of zero height for COMP = TRUE. I do
however, have evidence of believers that number in the millions.

Weird, huh?

Cheers
Colin Hales




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