Interesting Article: AI and the Four Strands?

42 views
Skip to first unread message

Bruce Nielson

unread,
Sep 18, 2018, 1:48:16 PM9/18/18
to fallibl...@googlegroups.com, fallibl...@yahoogroups.com
I recently got into Artificial Intelligence because I realized it was
the ultimate example of Popper's theories. I'm curious if anyone else
in these groups has become fascinated with the potential of AI if we
can just figure out how to apply Popper's theories to it better. (Or
more to the point, understand Popper's theories better so that we
understand how creativity really works to create conjectures in the
first place.)

I came across this article today and it's got a lot of interesting
ideas that might be of interest to the Fallible Ideas group. Maybe.
Interested in other's thoughts.

https://medium.com/intuitionmachine/cooperation-competition-and-the-evolution-of-modularity-81ef0d8836e5

anonymous FI

unread,
Sep 18, 2018, 2:00:53 PM9/18/18
to fallibl...@googlegroups.com, fallibl...@yahoogroups.com

On Sep 18, 2018, at 8:59 AM, Bruce Nielson <brucen...@gmail.com>
wrote:

> I recently got into Artificial Intelligence because I realized it was
> the ultimate example of Popper's theories. I'm curious if anyone else
> in these groups has become fascinated with the potential of AI if we
> can just figure out how to apply Popper's theories to it better. (Or
> more to the point, understand Popper's theories better so that we
> understand how creativity really works to create conjectures in the
> first place.)

There's great potential there, but approximately no one working on it.
The existing so-called AI research community is a mix of hostile and
ignorant regarding Popper and Deutsch, and pursues inductivist
approaches and approaches which ignore or reject Deutsch's points about
universality.

But, regardless, I don't think solving this problem is a matter of just
figuring something out in epistemology. AI seems to be a long way off,
with many problems left to be solved.

I agree with the suggestion that more work needs to be done in
epistemology, currently, rather than focusing on coding. Unfortunately,
only Elliot is currently doing substantial work in epistemology (e.g.
https://yesornophilosophy.com ). If you want to contribute, a good
activity would be to go through the FI reading recommendations on
epistemology and *discuss* them and try to learn the material very, very
well. http://fallibleideas.com/books#popper (and the Deutsch ones).

Bruce Nielson

unread,
Sep 18, 2018, 4:25:30 PM9/18/18
to fallibl...@googlegroups.com, fallibl...@yahoogroups.com
So... I pretty much agree with everything you said. :)

I agree there is no one (or very few) in the AI community working on
it. It seems like a great unexplored area. And I agree that an advance
in epistemology is probably the way forward for AI, rather than, say,
coding. On the other hand, it may be that coding could eventually lead
to such an advance because the ideas crystallize via coding in a way
they don't if you aren't coding. It's not clear to me which will turn
out to be the best way forward, but I think you're probably right.

What I'd find really interesting would be collecting all AI papers and
ideas out there that actually match our existing understanding of
Popper. I picked up a textbook recently (Winton's Artificial
Intelligence) which seems to have substantial portions that match
Popper. Winston might be one of the only researchers that is not very
interested in Deep Learning (which is CLEARLY the wrong path to AGI)
and is more interested in Popper-like ideas. However, I don't think
Winston knows anything about Popper at all. It's just an 'accidental
convergence' if you will. That strikes me as a good sign, however.


> --
> You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Fallible Ideas" group.
> To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to fallible-idea...@googlegroups.com.
> To view this discussion on the web visit https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/fallible-ideas/27377E5B-3820-49FD-A7C8-C35808372F18%40gmail.com.
> For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.

anonymous FI

unread,
Sep 18, 2018, 5:06:21 PM9/18/18
to fallibl...@googlegroups.com, fallibl...@yahoogroups.com

On Sep 18, 2018, at 1:25 PM, Bruce Nielson <brucen...@gmail.com>
wrote:
For example?

And I don't think you know enough about Popper to judge that.

> Winston might be one of the only researchers that is not very
> interested in Deep Learning (which is CLEARLY the wrong path to AGI)

The book is old. Maybe that's why.

> and is more interested in Popper-like ideas. However, I don't think
> Winston knows anything about Popper at all. It's just an 'accidental
> convergence' if you will. That strikes me as a good sign, however.

The basics of CR (in the school of KP/DD/ET) and AI are: Knowledge is
created by evolution – replication with variation and with error
correction – and so an AI must be able to *brainstorm ideas* and *use
criticism*. And criticisms *are themselves ideas*, and shouldn't be
coded as a totally separate thing. And there needs to be a way of
evaluating which ideas criticize which other ideas and, when they do,
how to resolve the disagreement (if X criticizes Y, that doesn't mean Y
is incorrect – maybe X is incorrect).

As far as I know, there is zero AI work that has anything to do with
this (despite so-called evolutionary algorithms, which are a good kind
of algorithm but which aren't going to result in software that is like a
person). There is no AI work which tries to have a generic data
structure for ideas, which comes anywhere near storing human-like ideas.
That doesn't exist and no one is doing it. With the absence of any data
structure for ideas, there certainly isn't progress on the algorithms
that will brainstorm, update, or classify-as-refuted the idea data, let
alone effectively use idea-data *as code* that can evaluate other ideas.
Intelligent beings can update their own thinking algorithms – their
ideas aren't just inanimate data but actually are able to determine how
thinking is done, rather than the data and algorithms that operate on
the data being separate. People just aren't working on this stuff.

People don't know that error correction is the key to thinking, nor do
they know how to do error correction without an authority defining what
is correct and what is an error. The way "evolutionary" algorithms today
work is there is a human-designed scoring – usually fairly simple –
which is the authority on what is success or error, and the scoring
function is only open to modification within certain limited boundaries
if at all. And the way computer science things about error correction is
e.g. with parity bits or checksums where there is authoritative, correct
information at the start (there's no question of whether the input is an
error) and the task is to prevent new errors by preventing change.

Bruce Nielson

unread,
Sep 18, 2018, 7:29:53 PM9/18/18
to fallibl...@googlegroups.com, fallibl...@yahoogroups.com
> On Sep 18, 2018, at 1:25 PM, Bruce Nielson <brucen...@gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> > On Tue, Sep 18, 2018 at 12:00 PM anonymous FI
> > <anonymousfa...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >>
> >>
> >> On Sep 18, 2018, at 8:59 AM, Bruce Nielson <brucen...@gmail.com>
> >> wrote:
> > What I'd find really interesting would be collecting all AI papers and
> > ideas out there that actually match our existing understanding of
> > Popper. I picked up a textbook recently (Winton's Artificial
> > Intelligence) which seems to have substantial portions that match
> > Popper.
>
> For example?
No idea what the context of this question was.

>
> And I don't think you know enough about Popper to judge that.

Hey, Anon. I don't think you actually know what I do or don't know
about Popper at this point in the conversation. I think maybe you
don't even have a good idea if I went on to read the rest of what you
said and said to myself "Wow! Those are amazing points. I guess Anon
is right that I didn't know Popper well enough to judge it's
relationship to previous AI research." Or if I went on to read your
points and said "Wow! He really doesn't know what he's talking about!"
and then could have gone on to refute you point by point with
citations. Or anything in between.

And let's be honest, it's probably something in between, as I make no
claims to being an expert in Popper or AI. I only said I was
interested.

I would also point out that you seem to be reading-in something I
didn't even say. I only claimed that a substantial portion of
*Winston* seemed to match some of Popper's theories. I made no claims
at all about *how much of Popper's theories* he matched. For example,
maybe 90% of Winston matches 5% of Popper. That would mean we have a
long way to go in AI to match Popper (as you go on to claim), but my
statement would have still been spot on correct.

Further, that statement you made above was wholly unnecessary to a
productive discussion. If you just went on to state your points, I'd
either realize I didn't know enough Popper to judge (and I'd learn
from the discussion) or I wouldn't (and maybe you'd learn from the
discussion). Or we'd find we could move the conversation forward one
step at a time point by point so long as we both find it interesting.

On the other hand, your statement -- in my experience with online
conversations -- strikes me as a pretty strong warning flag that you
might be someone either looking for a fight (perhaps only
subconsciously) or feels they need to 'teach me something' (perhaps
only subconsciously.) But either way, I'm not really now interested in
moving this conversation forward with you because neither sounds very
interesting to me and I just don't have the time to deal with someone
not interested in sincere back-and-forth and both of us trying to
learn. So I think maybe we should just drop this thread for now and
we'll try again next time.

anonymous FI

unread,
Sep 18, 2018, 7:47:43 PM9/18/18
to fallibl...@googlegroups.com, fallibl...@yahoogroups.com

On Sep 18, 2018, at 4:29 PM, Bruce Nielson <brucen...@gmail.com>
wrote:

>> On Sep 18, 2018, at 1:25 PM, Bruce Nielson <brucen...@gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>
>>> On Tue, Sep 18, 2018 at 12:00 PM anonymous FI
>>> <anonymousfa...@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> On Sep 18, 2018, at 8:59 AM, Bruce Nielson
>>>> <brucen...@gmail.com>
>>>> wrote:
>>> What I'd find really interesting would be collecting all AI papers
>>> and
>>> ideas out there that actually match our existing understanding of
>>> Popper. I picked up a textbook recently (Winton's Artificial
>>> Intelligence) which seems to have substantial portions that match
>>> Popper.
>>
>> For example?
> No idea what the context of this question was.


That's what quotes are for, they give context. I stopped that block
quote where you say "substantial portions that match Popper" and then I
asked for an example.



>> And I don't think you know enough about Popper to judge that.
>
> Hey, Anon. I don't think you actually know what I do or don't know
> about Popper at this point in the conversation. I think maybe you
> don't even have a good idea if I went on to read the rest of what you
> said and said to myself "Wow! Those are amazing points. I guess Anon
> is right that I didn't know Popper well enough to judge it's
> relationship to previous AI research." Or if I went on to read your
> points and said "Wow! He really doesn't know what he's talking about!"
> and then could have gone on to refute you point by point with
> citations. Or anything in between.

Why are you so upset? You don't want to hear about potential, relevant
problems? I give criticism in order to try to help and improve the
conversation. It's meant to be productive criticism. If I failed at that
– if it's useless or false (or you just don't see any purpose to it,
or you see some other kind of flaw with it) – you could say that
instead of being hostile. Or if you're not very good at taking
criticism, you could ask people to give you less criticism or you could
ask for help getting better at it, instead of responding in a hostile
way.

If you think I was being *intentionally* hostile to you, it's my
considered opinion that you're mistaken, and also that responding to
(perceived) hostility with hostility is an error that doesn't help. If
you think my tone was being a jerk or something, you could point out my
error or ignore the tone.


> And let's be honest, it's probably something in between, as I make no
> claims to being an expert in Popper or AI. I only said I was
> interested.

Right but then you also overreached by making a claim about the
compatibility of a particular book with Popper, even though that goes
beyond your current abilities. So you appear to be making a mistake by
failing to recognize your limits and act accordingly. So I was trying to
point out that mistake. It seemed relevant and important to me.


> I would also point out that you seem to be reading-in something I
> didn't even say. I only claimed that a substantial portion of
> *Winston* seemed to match some of Popper's theories. I made no claims
> at all about *how much of Popper's theories* he matched. For example,
> maybe 90% of Winston matches 5% of Popper. That would mean we have a
> long way to go in AI to match Popper (as you go on to claim), but my
> statement would have still been spot on correct.

I don't know why you think I misunderstood that.


> Further, that statement you made above was wholly unnecessary to a
> productive discussion.

No, you put forward a claim and I told you why I don't accept it and
think you're mistaken to believe the claim yourself. That is on topic
and important.

If you give examples, as requested, or otherwise make substantive
comments on the subject, I may then be able to point out examples (if
you wanted them, which it sounds like you don't).


> If you just went on to state your points, I'd
> either realize I didn't know enough Popper to judge (and I'd learn
> from the discussion) or I wouldn't (and maybe you'd learn from the
> discussion). Or we'd find we could move the conversation forward one
> step at a time point by point so long as we both find it interesting.
>
> On the other hand, your statement -- in my experience with online
> conversations -- strikes me as a pretty strong warning flag that you
> might be someone either looking for a fight (perhaps only
> subconsciously) or feels they need to 'teach me something' (perhaps
> only subconsciously.) But either way, I'm not really now interested in
> moving this conversation forward with you because neither sounds very
> interesting to me and I just don't have the time to deal with someone
> not interested in sincere back-and-forth and both of us trying to
> learn. So I think maybe we should just drop this thread for now and
> we'll try again next time.


You could have responded to the stuff I wrote *about the main topic*,
but you deleted it instead. You prioritized this stuff you don't like,
and now want to drop the whole discussion without ever responding to my
main content, nor giving an example (as above). That seems to me to be a
bad approach. If you give up so easily, you'll never get anywhere with
AI, CR, or much else.

You claim I'm looking for a fight but you have not pointed out a single
word I wrote in error and what the error is. You just didn't understand
what I said, you didn't get the point of it, and instead of asking you
got hostile.

Note: if you responded to the content about AI and CR, someone besides
me might talk, too. You claim disinterest in talking to me but without
pointing out any lack of quality in my comments on AI and CR. Everyone
watching can see you got high quality replies on the topic and said
nothing, so I think they will not be inclined to speak with you by
giving you even more great content while you still haven't said anything
substantive (and instead got stuck on things like not understanding how
quotations work here and then not yet giving an example). But by
dropping it, you lose your opportunity to talk to everyone else here as
well.

I was and am interested in back and forth, but you abruptly blew that up
because you took something the wrong way and then went nuclear instead
of checking for a misunderstanding. If you think someone is doing
something wrong, you should actually check what's going on before giving
up on the entire conversation. Given your approach, anyone observing
this now knows that you might drop a conversation with them, at any
moment, with no recourse, if you misunderstood something they said –
and then also accuse them of some quite negative things. Your approach
to discussion is very low on resilience and the ability to error correct
misunderstandings and perhaps even genuine mistakes. You're also
inclined to focus on things that upset you while deleting without
response the sort of content you claim to value. That's how you're
coming across, FYI.

Elliot Temple

unread,
Sep 19, 2018, 2:39:46 AM9/19/18
to FIGG, FIYG
On Sep 18, 2018, at 4:29 PM, Bruce Nielson <brucen...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> On Sep 18, 2018, at 1:25 PM, Bruce Nielson <brucen...@gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>
>>> On Tue, Sep 18, 2018 at 12:00 PM anonymous FI
>>> <anonymousfa...@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> On Sep 18, 2018, at 8:59 AM, Bruce Nielson <brucen...@gmail.com>
>>>> wrote:
>>> What I'd find really interesting would be collecting all AI papers and
>>> ideas out there that actually match our existing understanding of
>>> Popper. I picked up a textbook recently (Winton's Artificial
>>> Intelligence) which seems to have substantial portions that match
>>> Popper.
>>
>> For example?
>
> No idea what the context of this question was.

I don't want my reply to this part to be read first, so I’ve put it in a footnote[1]. It’s a side issue.
Bruce, FYI what you did is typical of people who don’t last long here:

1) Problems are inevitable. A discussion problem came up. There was a misunderstanding or disagreement that, for whatever reason, seemed to you to involve the other person violating a social norm. Such things are *inevitable* in general, and are actually *common* here at FI because people here dare to make critical statements and to have unconventional ideas. The general expectation and atmosphere is that people here want criticism, by default, unless they say otherwise.

2) Then, when a problem came up, you took it as implying bad faith, hostility, ill will, or something along those lines, from the other person.

3) Then you escalated heavily, on purpose. You thought anon’s one sentence had constituted a major attack, and then you wrote many paragraphs fighting back (which is fighting) and making a bigger deal of the matter. Your way of fighting was more disguised (by standard social norms) than anon’s actions that you perceived as fighting, but anon, I and lots of others here will think that makes it *worse*, not better. It’s more in the direction of being passive aggressive instead of openly aggressive, which is worse. Your attempt to sound civil while making hostile comments just reduces clarity and leaves people to guess about more of what you mean (and it leaves more to guesswork about how upset you actually are – whereas with anon I don’t think there was any upsetness or hostility hidden in the background and left unsaid). The style of being less blunt about negative things doesn’t have significant upsides for dealing with people who see through and dislike that social norm.

And so, from the the sort of event that should be expected to happen periodically, you take conversations to bad places, as a matter of policy, rather than reacting in a way which is capable of fixing the problem. There were no problem solving steps from you. You went straight to fighting with anon and then wanting to drop the matter, with no steps where you try to find out if anon actually meant to attack you, or otherwise treat it as a problem to try to approach with rational problem solving. (I hope you’ll forgive me for interpreting what you said and trying to respond without asking clarifying questions. You already wrote 5 paragraphs which I found clear, and it doesn’t look like you want to be asked about the details of what they mean, so I’ve done my best to understand them and then give you useful information that I also think is of value to other people reading.)

I also think your negativity regarding being taught things is bad, btw. I would love to be taught things about epistemology. I don’t know why you don’t want to be taught things, but this is an educational group! I’m now concerned you wouldn’t appreciate learning things from me, either, but I’ve given you the benefit of the doubt and written this email anyway. If you expect or desire only to have fairly even discussions where you both learn from each other, and you want to avoid discussions where you deal with someone who knows a lot more or less than you about the topic, I think that’s going to be a major problem. Clarification would be appreciated.

Anon expressed interest in advancing the conversation, and wrote substantive material about it. Bruce deleted that material and accused anon of not sincerely wanting a good conversation ... but Bruce is the one making accusations of lack of sincerity and also the one backing away from conversation. If Bruce had said he had a concern about anon’s sincerity and wanted to put the AI/CR conversation on hold in the mean time, that would be one thing, but instead Bruce did all this judging, and reached a conclusion, from one sentence, before giving anon a chance to say one word to address the problem Bruce perceived. (Note that a claim about insincerity is an *escalation* from a claim about ignorance. Ignorance isn’t morally bad, but insincerity is. We’re all alike in our infinite ignorance – I think anon knows that and wasn’t trying to insult anyone, but Bruce has a less Popperian perspective on ignorance, which is why he got offended. BTW it’s a common problem here that people think they know more than they do, and that gets in the way of them learning, so they never become great. Maybe anon thought he saw signs of that problem.)

This set of events will happen repeatedly until you leave, unless you change your attitude to discussion.

I can say with full confidence that anon wasn’t out to get you, wasn’t looking for a fight, wasn't trying to attack you, and is different than the sort of conventional person/behaviors you believe you identified him as – he’s an outlier that you’re mixing up as something you’re encountered repeatedly elsewhere. Plus I think he *demonstrated* his sincerity, that you question, by writing about AI and CR to you. But due to your lack of patience, lack of sympathy, and otherwise lack of seeing apparently bad things as potential misunderstandings to clear up or potential errors to criticize ... I cannot say that you aren’t looking for a fight. You seem to have focused on creating a fight, on the justification that you think anon started it.

I’ve written about this at e.g. http://curi.us/1846-starting-fights

I think anon is *so good* that he didn’t think of ignorance as insulting since we’re all infinitely ignorant. It’s like the South Park episode about the flag, where the boys are defending a flag with a lynching on it, and they are repeatedly accused of being racist. At the public debate, they began their argument by saying that violence has been around forever and is a common part of human life. The towns people replied that they were missing the point and debating the wrong thing, people were offended because it’s a flag with *white* people lynching a *black* guy. And the kids – who were accused of being racists defending a racist flag – said they hadn’t noticed the skin color of the people on the flag. Then they made a new flag where people with a variety of skin colors lynch a black guy... :)

If that kind of mindset appeals to you, please actually point out a *really clear violation* before giving up and rejecting FI (as you appear to be going in the direction of doing), and then listen to what people say about it – there could be an explanation of what the person meant that you missed, or the person (or me) might think it was a mistake and you’re correct (you might even get thanked for the criticism).

I write all this in hopes it will help clear up the misunderstanding and will inspire Bruce to change his approach. A change is needed because situations like this – misunderstandings or even genuine errors – will occur in the future, an on ongoing basis, and will need to be handled differently for Bruce to have success here. The same things apply to everyone else, so I also hope this will help lurkers and others better figure out how to think about the posts. To me, these are all philosophy issues, and I hope others will be able to appreciate them that way instead of seeing things personally or through the lens of offensiveness.


PS Bruce, your quoting and attributing was incorrect. You seem to have deleted the line attributing the quotes of anon to anon. And your previous post block quoted a google footer that was not part of the discussion and which you didn’t comment on. Quoting problems are also typical of people who don’t last long here, FYI.

PPS You haven't followed up with me about epistemology. You posted on July 14, 2018 to BoI list and I promptly responded with serious comments. You responded saying "Thanks Elliot for the excellent and thoughtful feedback. I'll try to come up with a new version that improves the problems of the existing version." and "I hope to be an active participant.“ but you haven’t followed up so far. I am interested in sincere discussion about those epistemology points and many other things (e.g. all of my blog posts and emails), and it’s just waiting on you to participate. Similarly, I’m interested in AI, but it’s up to you to respond to past posts about it (or to respond to anon’s recent topical comments, or to write your own material by e.g. commenting on the textbook you got or on Popper). The point is, the ball is not in my court. (I’m used to this, and patient. It’s my standard situation. I point it out because sometimes others seem unaware of it, or they occasionally even deny it, and I think stating the situation helps clarify it and enables correcting potential misunderstandings.)



[1] I’ll re-quote the key text:

>> For example?
>
> No idea what the context of this question was.
>
>> And I don't think you know enough about Popper to judge that.


From not knowing the context of the question (“For example?”), and actually having *no idea* what the context is, it’s implied to also not know the context of the “And ...” sentence which directly followed it and shared the same context. In that case – knowing that you don’t know the context of the “And ...” sentence – it’s an error to get offended by it, while knowing you don’t understand it. The “And ...” sentence uses the word “that” to refer to context. Without knowing what “that” refers to, due to having “no idea” what the context is, it’s basically impossible to judge the truth of the sentence. Though I fear I’m taking Bruce literally when he may not have meant what he said.

Elliot Temple
www.elliottemple.com

Bruce Nielson

unread,
Oct 6, 2018, 6:27:42 PM10/6/18
to fallibl...@googlegroups.com, fallibl...@yahoogroups.com
I later regretted how I worded things and I felt I was a bit short and
insulting. I meant to go back and add something explaining my real
concern better and admitting that I didn't really know Anon wasn't
interested or at all insincere about back-and-forth. I decided today
to do that, and then saw this email and thought it was a good
opportunity to do so.

Here is what I wish I had said to Anon:


______________________

Hey, Anon. I don't think you actually know what I do or don't know
about Popper at this point in the conversation. I think maybe you
don't even have a good idea if I went on to read the rest of what you
said and said to myself "Wow! Those are amazing points. I guess Anon
is right that I didn't know Popper well enough to judge it's
relationship to previous AI research." Or if I went on to read your
points and said "Wow! He really doesn't know what he's talking about!"
and then could have gone on to refute you point by point with
citations. Or anything in between.

And let's be honest, it's probably something in between, as I make no
claims to being an expert in Popper or AI. I only said I was
interested.

I would also point out that you seem to be reading-in something I
didn't even say. I only claimed that a substantial portion of
*Winston* seemed to match some of Popper's theories. I made no claims
at all about *how much of Popper's theories* he matched. For example,
maybe 90% of Winston matches 5% of Popper. That would mean we have a
long way to go in AI to match Popper (as you go on to claim), but my
statement would have still been spot on correct.

Further, that statement you made above was wholly unnecessary to a
discussion. If you just went on to state your points, I'd either
realize I didn't know enough Popper to judge (and I'd learn from the
discussion) or I wouldn't (and maybe you'd learn from the discussion).
Or we'd find we could move the conversation forward one step at a time
point by point so long as we both find it interesting.

On the other hand, your statement -- in my experience with online
conversations -- strikes me as a pretty strong warning flag that you
might be someone either looking for a debate (perhaps only
subconsciously) or feels they need to 'teach me a lesson' (perhaps
only subconsciously.) On the other hand, maybe not. It's always hard
to tell. But I hope you can appreciate why it would seem that way.

There is really nothing wrong with this in my opinion. It seems like a
bit of a fair debating tactic and I feel like I say and do things like
that all the time. And there are so many circumstances where I'd even
relish the chance to get into a toe-to-toe debate with you over this.
So please don't think I'm claiming you did something wrong. (At least
not any more.) You didn't. And I apologizes that I said otherwise the
first time.

Having said that, I'm just so limited on time for the next few years
while I work on school and working full time (over time.) I just know
myself so well here. If I let myself get sucked into a debate with
someone (even if it's fun -- especially if it's fun!) I'll not be able
to pay attention to the things I currently need to be paying attention
to. So the problem, I admit, is me, not you here.

I'm just not interested right now in any sort of drawn out debate of
any sort. I was really just trying to find who was interested in
discussing how to move this area forward and what others knew or what
ideas existed. So I'm not really now interested in moving this
specific conversation thread forward with you. So I think maybe we
should just drop this thread for now and we'll try again next time.

On the other hand, if you want to drop the debating tactics (for now
anyhow) and instead just casually discuss AI and CR, I'd still be
interested.

_____________________


>
> And so, from the the sort of event that should be expected to happen periodically, you take conversations to bad places, as a matter of policy, rather than reacting in a way which is capable of fixing the problem.

This seems fair. And I see your point.

> There were no problem solving steps from you.

And there isn't going to be, as I'll explain below.

> You went straight to fighting with anon and then wanting to drop the matter, with no steps where you try to find out if anon actually meant to attack you, or otherwise treat it as a problem to try to approach with rational problem solving. (I hope you’ll forgive me for interpreting what you said and trying to respond without asking clarifying questions. You already wrote 5 paragraphs which I found clear, and it doesn’t look like you want to be asked about the details of what they mean, so I’ve done my best to understand them and then give you useful information that I also think is of value to other people reading.)

This seems fair too. But I'm still not interested in continuing this
thread. It's now a debate and I don't have time for that. I'm only
looking for a discussion.

> I also think your negativity regarding being taught things is bad, btw.

I think you're reading "teach me something" too literally here. I
meant it in it's colloquial sense only of "teach you a lesson" (i.e.
fight with you.)

> Anon expressed interest in advancing the conversation, and wrote substantive material about it.

You're right, he did. I made that clear in my rewritten response.
There was really nothing wrong with anything he said. He was just (in
my opinion) making it clear he wanted to debate me over this and that
he had very strong feelings about AI that he'd prefer to believe. But
the more I think about this, the more that really and truly strikes me
as fair and I shouldn't have reacted the way I did.

> Bruce deleted that material and accused anon of not sincerely wanting a good conversation ... but Bruce is the one making accusations of lack of sincerity and also the one backing away from conversation. If Bruce had said he had a concern about anon’s sincerity and wanted to put the AI/CR conversation on hold in the mean time, that would be one thing, but instead Bruce did all this judging, and reached a conclusion, from one sentence, before giving anon a chance to say one word to address the problem Bruce perceived. (Note that a claim about insincerity is an *escalation* from a claim about ignorance. Ignorance isn’t morally bad, but insincerity is.


> We’re all alike in our infinite ignorance – I think anon knows that and wasn’t trying to insult anyone, but Bruce has a less Popperian perspective on ignorance, which is why he got offended.

I agree he wasn't trying to insult me. But I do believe he was trying
to 'fight' (i.e. debate) me and that he was using a debate tactic of
setting himself up as judge of the evidence. (Rather than, say, being
curious what I knew, if anything.)

Elliot, I have now sincerely admitted I didn't give a good response
and made an attempt to get closer to what I feel I should have said in
response. And I've admitted I was unnecessarily insulting. So I'm
largely agreeing with you. And again, I apologize to Anon for saying
he wasn't sincere. I honestly think I was just wrong about that
entirely.

Now here is the problem I have with your response in general, Elliot.
We are all forced to have theories of mind about each other. This
isn't something we can actually turn off. And it's necessary for any
sort of comprehension to begin with. (i.e. we have to conjecture what
the other person means.) I say this because I'm going to now explain
my theory of mind concerning Anon's response and why I feel it really
is the best explanation of what he really meant. Obviously, I might be
wrong. But I don't believe I am. And I believe you're ignoring what he
really said and implied in your response to me.

Anon's statement "And I don't think you know enough about Popper to
judge that" has strong implied meanings that I think you're ignoring.
And I did explain why I felt that way. The idea that Anon meant
nothing by it (I currently believe that is what you are trying to
imply) is really just a poor explanation in my opinion. Why did he
bother to say it in the first place?

That statement, alone, was a "call out" the way it's currently worded.
I do not believe I'm just misunderstanding this (as you are implying).
And I don't believe it was an accident. (Now again, I want to
emphasize that "calling out" isn't unethical or wrong in any way.)

In short, I feel that you are biased towards Anon (As I'd expect you
to be -- and you should be! He's your friend and I'm not yet!) and
that therefore your disposed to read him in a way that is inaccurate
so as to be able to defend him.

Now again, I want to emphasize that my current opinion is that there
is nothing ethically or morally wrong with Anon wanting to start a
debate with me. I've thought this through ever since I sent my
response and the more I think about it, that more obvious it is to me
that there really is nothing whatsoever wrong with Anon wanting to
start a debate (i.e. fight with words) with me. It's a totally and
completely fair thing for him to be doing if he's interested in that
sort of thing.

Further, the way Anon words things throughout nearly demand that I
debate him. Note the strength of his wording:

"...there is *zero* AI work that has anything to do with this...";
"There is *no* AI work..."; "That *doesn't exist* and *no one* is
doing it."; "let alone..."; "there *certainly* isn't progress...";
"People just aren't working on this stuff."; "People don't know..."
(emphasis mine)

I would note that none of the strength is aimed at me personally. (I
should have accepted that fact sooner.) But he's also not really
looking for what I might know that he doesn't, nor is he particularly
interested in learning if I do know of anything. He's looking for a
debate with him taking the stance that he's right that AI is entirely
on the wrong path due to ignorance of epistemology and he's hoping
I'll take the other side. (I note that I never took the opposite
stance in the first place. He just read that in. This was the
strongest reason why I lost interest in the thread.)

Now I predict you might want to say that I don't know for certain that
is the case. You're right I don't. But try to explain why he choose
the words he did (and how easy it would have been to do otherwise) if
he wasn't seeking such a debate. And then compare your explanation to
the one I just suggested.

I also predict you might say that I could go on to bring these things
up as a way forward and ask Anon about them. True, I could have. But I
had no interest in doing so. The original purpose for the thread (to
discuss casually out of interest) was now lost and I was going to have
to either debate him or start a less interesting conversation to
explain how I had read him as seeking unnecessary debate and then have
a long conversation with him about that. (And just knowing human
nature, I anticipated him denying that was the case even if it was.)
In short, in my opinion, we had lost the original thread and it
couldn't be recovered without a lot of work.

So I believe I *correctly* read Anon as not wanting an easy going
discussion, but a debate with him on one side and me on the other. And
in other circumstances, I'd be interested in such a debate. (In this
case, he and I probably agree too much to make the debate very
productive.) But right now, I have no such interest so I'm cutting
things off, as is my choice as to how to spend my time.

However, to your point, I shouldn't have been so strong in my cut off.
It's really only *debate/fighting* I need to cut off. I will reopen
the conversation to Anon if we can just keep things cool and discuss
back and forth. And the reason I'm open to that (and not debate) is
because I know it won't absorb me and my time. I'd be happy to discuss
this further with Anon if he can make it clear that he isn't seeking a
fight over this, but it just honestly curious like I am.



> BTW it’s a common problem here that people think they know more than they do, and that gets in the way of them learning, so they never become great. Maybe anon thought he saw signs of that problem.)

Fair.

> This set of events will happen repeatedly until you leave, unless you change your attitude to discussion.

Well to be honest, I haven't decided if this community is for me or
not. And I may choose to leave.

But what happens if I don't leave and also don't change my attitude? I
mean this as a serious question. Because reality is that I may not
always change in the ways you want me to.

I don't currently agree with this community about a lot of things.
This includes your idea of 'always leaving a way forward.' (More on
this below.) If this is a community 'rule' than I strongly disagree
with this idea (I believe I can choose to drop a thread for any reason
I choose, even just 'I don't have the time') and will not be
consenting to it.

Now this is your community and you have a right to police whatever
boundaries you choose to set for the sake of protecting the integrity
of your community. So that's why I'm asking for clarification now.

> I can say with full confidence that anon wasn’t out to get you, wasn’t looking for a fight, wasn't trying to attack you, and is different than the sort of conventional person/behaviors you believe you identified him as –

As I explained above, I think you are biased and I believe you are
wrong. He was looking for a 'fight' (if by 'fight' we mean 'debate.')
And he was attacking *my position* that he was *assuming* I held. He
set it up that way intentionally in my opinion. But, there is nothing
wrong with that. I'm just not interested. There is nothing wrong with
that either.

> he’s an outlier that you’re mixing up as something you’re encountered repeatedly elsewhere.

I don't believe this community is an outlier of any sort yet. If you
are, you'll need to convince me of it. But I would also note that I
did not expect or anticipate that you would be nor do I care if you
are not. Every community thinks they are outliers. And your need to
claim you are strikes me as typical at the moment. But maybe I'm
wrong.



> Plus I think he *demonstrated* his sincerity, that you question, by writing about AI and CR to you.

You're right. I can see that now.

> But due to your lack of patience, lack of sympathy, and otherwise lack of seeing apparently bad things as potential misunderstandings to clear up or potential errors to criticize ... I cannot say that you aren’t looking for a fight. You seem to have focused on creating a fight, on the justification that you think anon started it.
>
> I’ve written about this at e.g. http://curi.us/1846-starting-fights
>
> I think anon is *so good* that he didn’t think of ignorance as insulting since we’re all infinitely ignorant. It’s like the South Park episode about the flag, where the boys are defending a flag with a lynching on it, and they are repeatedly accused of being racist. At the public debate, they began their argument by saying that violence has been around forever and is a common part of human life. The towns people replied that they were missing the point and debating the wrong thing, people were offended because it’s a flag with *white* people lynching a *black* guy. And the kids – who were accused of being racists defending a racist flag – said they hadn’t noticed the skin color of the people on the flag. Then they made a new flag where people with a variety of skin colors lynch a black guy... :)
>
> If that kind of mindset appeals to you, please actually point out a *really clear violation* before giving up and rejecting FI (as you appear to be going in the direction of doing), and then listen to what people say about it – there could be an explanation of what the person meant that you missed, or the person (or me) might think it was a mistake and you’re correct (you might even get thanked for the criticism).

I agree with you here. That's why I'm giving this response.

> I write all this in hopes it will help clear up the misunderstanding and will inspire Bruce to change his approach.

If by 'change approach' you mean 'explain myself better' (as I did
above) and not say anything insulting to Anon (as I apologized for)
then I hope you can see that I've taken a step towards changing. And I
appreciate that part of your feedback.

If by 'change' you mean 'engage Anon's thread' I will not be doing
that as it currently is for the reasons I've given. Namely, that I am
still wholly convinced he was "attacking" (debating) rather that
"discussing." But I hope I have clarified that the problem here is me
(my lack of interest in a long debate) and not Anon. He did nothing
wrong and I freely admit that now.

> A change is needed because situations like this – misunderstandings or even genuine errors – will occur in the future, an on ongoing basis, and will need to be handled differently for Bruce to have success here.

I think your use of the word 'success' here implies that if I choose
to leave I have 'failed' in some way. Therefore I think you are saying
something incorrect here and have misunderstood the real nature of
communities like this. Whether or not I choose to say or go is in no
way a success or failure on my part. (Nor on this communities part.)


> The same things apply to everyone else, so I also hope this will help lurkers and others better figure out how to think about the posts. To me, these are all philosophy issues, and I hope others will be able to appreciate them that way instead of seeing things personally or through the lens of offensiveness.
>
>
> PS Bruce, your quoting and attributing was incorrect. You seem to have deleted the line attributing the quotes of anon to anon. And your previous post block quoted a google footer that was not part of the discussion and which you didn’t comment on. Quoting problems are also typical of people who don’t last long here, FYI.

I didn't follow you here. I'm sorry I keep getting this wrong. Is the
example the one you show below? I went back and checked it and I
honestly don't see what I did wrong. *I* can see where I attributed
the quotes of Anon to Anon. Do you want me to cut and paste the whole
thing and you can show me? I'd be open to that. Its just as
frustrating to me that I can't seem to get this right as I'm sure it
is to you guys. I'm using Google mail now, I'm using text only. I'm
not intentionally changing anything in my responses. I can *see* that
I'm attributing the quotes to the right person in the email I sent.
I'm honestly besides myself here.

> PPS You haven't followed up with me about epistemology. You posted on July 14, 2018 to BoI list and I promptly responded with serious comments. You responded saying "Thanks Elliot for the excellent and thoughtful feedback. I'll try to come up with a new version that improves the problems of the existing version." and "I hope to be an active participant.“ but you haven’t followed up so far. I am interested in sincere discussion about those epistemology points and many other things (e.g. all of my blog posts and emails), and it’s just waiting on you to participate. Similarly, I’m interested in AI, but it’s up to you to respond to past posts about it (or to respond to anon’s recent topical comments, or to write your own material by e.g. commenting on the textbook you got or on Popper).

Elliot, I think you and I are working on vastly different time frames.
I still plan to improve things based on your feedback. But hat may not
be till summer when I'm out of school.

Also, your response to me honestly made me question if my approach was
even worth pursuing. I haven't even decided that much. You made a lot
of really valid points that sort of ruined what I was trying to say
back then. I'm trying to figure out if there is some way to change the
context to save the original post. (Like maybe not making it a summary
of CR but of 'what is a good explanation' instead. i.e. narrow the
scope.)


> The point is, the ball is not in my court. (I’m used to this, and patient. It’s my standard situation. I point it out because sometimes others seem unaware of it, or they occasionally even deny it, and I think stating the situation helps clarify it and enables correcting potential misunderstandings.)

I want to get something off my chest with you Elliot, in case it's a
problem. (I hinted of this above.) I hope it isn't. I do not consent
to your rules of engagement in all cases. Don't take me wrong here.
For *certain kinds of discussion* I think they are excellent.
Therefore, I don't really disagree with them.

But I am currently operating under the assumption that some
discussions should follow your careful rules of how to move things
forward and other discussions are a lot more casual and don't follow
those rules. And I'm assuming that it's entirely up to me how or even
whether I am going to reply to a thread. Is that acceptable? If it's
not, you probably ought tell me now. Because I won't consent (in all
cases) to the level of rigor you keep assuming I'm going to give you.
I'll do it when I have the time and interest and I won't do it when I
don't.

The problem with your rules, such as carefully quoting each other, is
that it takes a LOT of time (at least for me that keeps having
problems with it!)

And I just am not interested in where every thread goes. I responded
recently to Josh's thread from a month or so ago as a good example of
this. If people in this community react to me in certain ways, I may
just choose to either drop the thread or to explain why I'm dropping
the thread and then pick it up with them next time around. At least
for now, I will drop any thread that I feel is 'attacking' (i.e.
debating) like Anon's or that I feel is nitpicking unnecessarily (like
Josh's.) I am not going to take the time to change to a debate over
whether or not that is the case, because I have no interest in that
and it's therefore a waste of my time. I'm just going to do it. If
that is going to cause problems, let me know and we can part amicably.


> [1] I’ll re-quote the key text:
>
> >> For example?
> >
> > No idea what the context of this question was.
> >
> >> And I don't think you know enough about Popper to judge that.
>
>
> From not knowing the context of the question (“For example?”), and actually having *no idea* what the context is, it’s implied to also not know the context of the “And ...” sentence which directly followed it and shared the same context. In that case – knowing that you don’t know the context of the “And ...” sentence – it’s an error to get offended by it, while knowing you don’t understand it. The “And ...” sentence uses the word “that” to refer to context. Without knowing what “that” refers to, due to having “no idea” what the context is, it’s basically impossible to judge the truth of the sentence. Though I fear I’m taking Bruce literally when he may not have meant what he said.

I understand the question now. I didn't at the time. He was asking for
counter examples. I'm not even sure why I didn't understand it. It
seems fairly obvious to me now. But for some reason at the time I
couldn't figure out what what he meant in that context by "for
example?" However, it didn't really matter to the rest of the
discussion. Since I was reading him (I believe correctly) as wanting
to debate me, this implied the same thing, i.e. he wanted me to try to
give counter examples for him to judge as correct or not. That was
what I was objecting to.

As an example: this response to you took 2.5 hours of work. I
generally won't be taking that kind of time for this community. I am
hopeful still that I can find away to productively fit in here, but
I'm not getting enough out of it yet to justify that kind of time on a
regular basis.

anonymous FI

unread,
Oct 7, 2018, 5:57:41 AM10/7/18
to fallibl...@googlegroups.com, fallibl...@yahoogroups.com

On Oct 6, 2018, at 3:27 PM, Bruce Nielson <brucen...@gmail.com>
wrote:

> On Wed, Sep 19, 2018 at 12:39 AM Elliot Temple <cu...@curi.us> wrote:

>> PPS You haven't followed up with me about epistemology. You posted on
>> July 14, 2018 to BoI list and I promptly responded with serious
>> comments. You responded saying "Thanks Elliot for the excellent and
>> thoughtful feedback. I'll try to come up with a new version that
>> improves the problems of the existing version." and "I hope to be an
>> active participant.“ but you haven’t followed up so far. I am
>> interested in sincere discussion about those epistemology points and
>> many other things (e.g. all of my blog posts and emails), and it’s
>> just waiting on you to participate. Similarly, I’m interested in
>> AI, but it’s up to you to respond to past posts about it (or to
>> respond to anon’s recent topical comments, or to write your own
>> material by e.g. commenting on the textbook you got or on Popper).
>
> Elliot, I think you and I are working on vastly different time frames.
> I still plan to improve things based on your feedback. But hat may not
> be till summer when I'm out of school.
>
> Also, your response to me honestly made me question if my approach was
> even worth pursuing. I haven't even decided that much. You made a lot
> of really valid points that sort of ruined what I was trying to say
> back then. I'm trying to figure out if there is some way to change the
> context to save the original post. (Like maybe not making it a summary
> of CR but of 'what is a good explanation' instead. i.e. narrow the
> scope.)

I disagree with Bruce's plan to delay pursuing learning about
corrections about epistemology (the field about how learning
works) until after finishing his education. Epistemology is crucially
important to getting value out of school and to evaluating the value of
most school-related things. The goal in school is to learn, and learning
effectiveness depends on the quality of one's epistemological ideas.
Having a good understanding of how learning works ought to precede most
schooling.

Maybe Bruce sees epistemology as an abstract toy rather than as
something practical that matters in life? I think that common view is a
bad one to bet big on when planning one's life.

Elliot Temple

unread,
Oct 7, 2018, 2:56:36 PM10/7/18
to FIGG, FIYG
On Oct 6, 2018, at 3:27 PM, Bruce Nielson <brucen...@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Wed, Sep 19, 2018 at 12:39 AM Elliot Temple <cu...@curi.us> wrote:




> It's now a debate and I don't have time for that. I'm only looking for a discussion.

It’s ambiguous what Bruce means by a debate as against a discussion.

Bruce says debating is fighting and discussion is non-fighting. The distinction seems to be between adversarial or cooperative.

But elsewhere Bruce associates debate with seriousness and discussion with casualness. That’s a different distinction which shouldn’t be bundled with the prior distinctions.

anon was not looking for a fight and was fully open to a cooperative, not adversarial, discussion. However, he was taking the issue very seriously and giving Bruce the opportunity to learn about the state of the art or, in the alternative, move human knowledge forward (or at least anon's conception of it) if Bruce knew something that anon didn’t.

Examples of the ambiguity:

> I do believe he was trying to 'fight' (i.e. debate) me


> So I believe I *correctly* read Anon as not wanting an easy going discussion, but a debate with him on one side and me on the other.

> It's really only *debate/fighting* I need to cut off.

> The original purpose for the thread (to discuss casually out of interest) was now lost and I was going to have to either debate him or start a less interesting conversation to explain how I had read him as seeking unnecessary debate and then have a long conversation with him about that.


Side note: FYI, people here generally discuss seriously out of interest.



>> We’re all alike in our infinite ignorance – I think anon knows that and wasn’t trying to insult anyone, but Bruce has a less Popperian perspective on ignorance, which is why he got offended.
>
> I agree he wasn't trying to insult me. But I do believe he was trying
> to 'fight' (i.e. debate) me and that he was using a debate tactic of
> setting himself up as judge of the evidence. (Rather than, say, being
> curious what I knew, if anything.)

I don’t agree and Bruce (or anyone else) has not (so far) made this claim in the kind of detailed way, with quotes and textual analysis, that would correct me by pointing out a specific issue and addressing my objections/doubts/questions/criticisms. (The alternative way to correct me, with less detail, is to say an idea, e.g. a general principle, that I don’t already know about.)

I don’t think my lack of seeing it as fighting is due to ignorance (just not being aware of what Bruce is talking about), I think it’s that I disagree with Bruce's view. However, I don’t know *which* view Bruce has, of the dozens of possibilities I have in mind, so I can’t reasonably respond to it until he shares it.

If Bruce has some other view which is novel to me in a substantive way, I’d be extremely eager to learn it. I don’t predict that is the case, but I’m active minded enough to be happy to check for that case.


> Anon's statement "And I don't think you know enough about Popper to
> judge that" has strong implied meanings that I think you're ignoring.
> And I did explain why I felt that way. The idea that Anon meant
> nothing by it (I currently believe that is what you are trying to
> imply) is really just a poor explanation in my opinion. Why did he
> bother to say it in the first place?

anon (and I double checked with him before saying this) believes that Bruce has a mistaken perspective on his knowledge which is getting in the way of his learning. anon thinks that kind of problem commonly ruins people’s lives, and that bringing it up can help people. He doesn’t think he’s claiming that Bruce is bad compared to most people. He made a limited claim to begin with (rather than trying to explain more fully) because it was controversial and major enough without saying more, and in order to begin to get additional information with which to improve potential further claims.

anon doesn’t know how to address this problem while also following various social politeness norms that Bruce expects, but which aren’t normal on FI (it’s hard to successfully address, at all, even without extra constraints). Those norms vary considerably between people (so they’re hard to predict, and the normal strategy for dealing with that is being *ultra conservative* by trying to say only stuff that wouldn’t offend anyone, but that’s *really limiting*).

FWIW I agree with anon.

If Bruce doesn't want to discuss the extent of his knowledge of Popper at this time, Bruce should say so (or say nothing) instead of claiming that anon is mistaken (a discussion response which invites further discussion) or claiming that anon did something wrong (an aggressive response which Bruce should expect to lead to further discussion).


> Further, the way Anon words things throughout nearly demand that I
> debate him. Note the strength of his wording:
>
> "...there is *zero* AI work that has anything to do with this...";
> "There is *no* AI work..."; "That *doesn't exist* and *no one* is
> doing it."; "let alone..."; "there *certainly* isn't progress...";
> "People just aren't working on this stuff."; "People don't know..."
> (emphasis mine)

Is anon mistaken? I’m not aware of any counter examples. I think he made strong claims because he believes they are true and important ideas, and that the strong versions of ideas are more suitable for discussion than weaker claims. In general, ideas should be presented in the strongest, boldest form that has no known errors. That is the form most suitable for refutation, and also the form that says the most. This is a Popperian attitude.

anon said his position so that Bruce (or others) could agree or disagree – learn, criticize, say he already knows that, whatever. That is a productive approach to discussion. It does not imply seeking an adversarial debate.



> (And just knowing human nature, I anticipated him denying that was the case even if it was.)

This methodology is detrimental to finding out when one meets someone who is different than one's conception of human nature. It also judges people as liars without providing a reasonable opportunity for rebuttal.


> And in other circumstances, I'd be interested in such a debate. (In this case, he and I probably agree too much to make the debate very productive.)

I think this is a relative overestimation of Bruce’s knowledge, similar to the overestimation about Popper which anon brought up. I think Bruce is opting out of a discussion where he could learn lots. I don’t think Bruce already knows and agrees with anon (or my of FI’s) ideas about this very much, as he believes.

I think the best recipe for people to get value from FI is generally:

1) Pick a topic you’re really interested in, where you’d really value improving your ideas, especially one where you find improvements hard to come by elsewhere.

2) Discuss it and find out that FI people disagree with you more than you expected.

3) Ask questions about the disagreements, share your own ideas, and try to resolve some of the issues (preferably just a couple things at a time, using fairly short posts).

What would you value criticism about, that you think you couldn’t get much criticism about elsewhere? Ask about that! And view it as a learning experience, not a debate.

I don’t know if the AI topic is a great one for this, for Bruce personally, because I don’t know much about his interests. Maybe another topic would be better. But I think trying this is the best thing to do here.



> However, to your point, I shouldn't have been so strong in my cut off.
> It's really only *debate/fighting* I need to cut off. I will reopen
> the conversation to Anon if we can just keep things cool and discuss
> back and forth. And the reason I'm open to that (and not debate) is
> because I know it won't absorb me and my time.

If you want something, e.g. a shorter discussion that is more time-efficient, the thing to do is *ask*: ask people to write shorter replies to you, and ask how you can read/write/think more quickly, and ask how you can move discussions forward while saying less stuff, and so on. Tell people what you want, and put problem solving effort (aided by FI tips) into your end of it, too.


> I'd be happy to discuss
> this further with Anon if he can make it clear that he isn't seeking a
> fight over this, but it just honestly curious like I am.

FWIW, if Bruce said anything substantive on the topic, people other than anon might reply. As usual with most people and most topics, I’m just sorta waiting for them to either say something significant for me to respond to, or respond to something on the topic that I’ve already written and made publicly available. The ball is in their court. I think Bruce is mistaken to focus on anon when myself and others are available to discuss this topic – if Bruce says something significant for us to discuss.



> I don't currently agree with this community about a lot of things.
> This includes your idea of 'always leaving a way forward.' (More on
> this below.) If this is a community 'rule' than I strongly disagree
> with this idea (I believe I can choose to drop a thread for any reason
> I choose, even just 'I don't have the time') and will not be
> consenting to it.

I agree with "I can choose to drop a thread for any reason I choose, even just 'I don't have the time'".

If Bruce knows of anything I’m mistaken about (one of those many things he disagrees with), I would be eager to hear it.


>> I can say with full confidence that anon wasn’t out to get you, wasn’t looking for a fight, wasn't trying to attack you, and is different than the sort of conventional person/behaviors you believe you identified him as –
>
> As I explained above, I think you are biased and I believe you are
> wrong. He was looking for a 'fight' (if by 'fight' we mean 'debate.')
> And he was attacking *my position* that he was *assuming* I held. He
> set it up that way intentionally in my opinion. But, there is nothing
> wrong with that. I'm just not interested. There is nothing wrong with
> that either.

FWIW, I would bet $10,000+ on this matter. If I’m mistaken, I would really appreciate being corrected about this and learning about my mistake – I’d value that correction at more than $10,000.

I want Bruce to know that I make a very serious effort to be correct about things like this, and I care about them. I don’t express full confidence lightly.

I find Bruce’s dismissiveness of my claims awkward because he doesn’t want to go into detail to resolve these things, but doesn’t stay neutral either. How should I address the negative views he’s forming about my community, which I believe to be false? I don’t see a good option besides ignoring the matter (perhaps this email will help some, but Bruce has said he doesn’t want to read many emails like this, which is also awkward because this is the kind of topic he has been talking about – if he posted about epistemology or something I’d be replying about that instead, but he posted about this stuff).



>> he’s an outlier that you’re mixing up as something you’re encountered repeatedly elsewhere.
>
> I don't believe this community is an outlier of any sort yet. If you
> are, you'll need to convince me of it. But I would also note that I
> did not expect or anticipate that you would be nor do I care if you
> are not. Every community thinks they are outliers. And your need to
> claim you are strikes me as typical at the moment. But maybe I'm
> wrong.

FWIW I would be happy to pay Bruce (or anyone else) $10,000+ if he could persuade me that I’m mistaken about the outlier claim. I would seriously value learning that correction.



>> A change is needed because situations like this – misunderstandings or even genuine errors – will occur in the future, an on ongoing basis, and will need to be handled differently for Bruce to have success here.
>
> I think your use of the word 'success' here implies that if I choose
> to leave I have 'failed' in some way. Therefore I think you are saying
> something incorrect here and have misunderstood the real nature of
> communities like this. Whether or not I choose to say or go is in no
> way a success or failure on my part. (Nor on this communities part.)

No. That’s not what I said or meant. That (the “implies” claim) is not a logical implication or a literal reading. It seems to be reading between the lines regarding social dynamics. The text focuses on the implications (“Therefore”) of the initial reading between the lines, not on the reasoning for the initial claim (the first sentence), so it’s largely downstream of the point of disagreement.

FWIW, a correction about this would be worth over $1000 to me. That’s typical with most of what I say (regarding the significant ideas, not corrections of typos).


>> The point is, the ball is not in my court. (I’m used to this, and patient. It’s my standard situation. I point it out because sometimes others seem unaware of it, or they occasionally even deny it, and I think stating the situation helps clarify it and enables correcting potential misunderstandings.)
>
> I want to get something off my chest with you Elliot, in case it's a
> problem. (I hinted of this above.) I hope it isn't. I do not consent
> to your rules of engagement in all cases. Don't take me wrong here.
> For *certain kinds of discussion* I think they are excellent.
> Therefore, I don't really disagree with them.
>
> But I am currently operating under the assumption that some
> discussions should follow your careful rules of how to move things
> forward and other discussions are a lot more casual and don't follow
> those rules. And I'm assuming that it's entirely up to me how or even
> whether I am going to reply to a thread. Is that acceptable?

The way FI works, in short, is: you are free to post whatever, and people are free to criticize it (which is implied by their own freedom to post whatever).

You have done nothing even remotely in the ballpark of an exception (an example exception is doxing, which is prohibited).

Plus there are formatting rules, but I’m pretty tolerant about those. I don’t think your use of quoting is problematic enough for me to actually do anything in my capacity as moderator. I have no plans to. Note: nothing I write is in my capacity as a moderator unless specifically labelled, and if you haven’t gotten an *official warning* (you haven’t) then you shouldn’t worry in terms of *rules*.

People who post egregiously incorrectly – stuff that’s disruptive to discussion like top posting, html, or zero quoting while clearly referring to text they didn’t quote – do get officially asked to change if they ignore informal messages.

There are no *rules* of intellectual engagement here. There are only unenforced philosophical ideas about such matters, and diversity of opinion about such things is tolerated (though often criticized).


> The problem with your rules, such as carefully quoting each other, is
> that it takes a LOT of time (at least for me that keeps having
> problems with it!)

I’m unaware of any forum with an easier, better approach. I’ve researched alternatives. Email quoting is easy and convenient once one learns how, and has good software support. You can see this in my many YouTube screencasts in which I write emails.

Note that you’re welcome to quote less stuff. What I tell people is to quote text you talk about, so that your post works independently without readers needing to refer to another email (referring to other emails without quoting is OK for footnote type points, but not for your main points. also references should generally be clear enough that a person could look up the thing being referred to). This is the same way blog posts work. What would you quote if you were writing a serious blog post? Is it text the reader needs to read in order to follow what you’re saying?

If you aren’t engaging with specific text by other people, then you don’t need to quote it – you still may find it convenient to quote, but presenting your topic yourself is fine too.

Most posters do not listen to me about this. Please don’t copy them on the belief that I want you to. Similarly, many posters write posts with many sections (one section means some block quoting and a reply), contrary to my advice that most people should mostly write single-section posts, and pretty much never use more than 3 sections. I think the reason people don’t listen to me is *I* don’t do what I advise them to do, but, as I’ve told them, I don’t think they should try to copy me. I have preferences, goals and skills (like ability to accurately track very complex conversation trees without it being a burden) that others don’t have.



> And I just am not interested in where every thread goes. I responded
> recently to Josh's thread from a month or so ago as a good example of
> this. If people in this community react to me in certain ways, I may
> just choose to either drop the thread or to explain why I'm dropping
> the thread and then pick it up with them next time around. At least
> for now, I will drop any thread that I feel is 'attacking' (i.e.
> debating) like Anon’s

Bruce seems to expect people to follow certain well known social conventions, which don’t need (re)stating because they’re well known. Whereas FI people expect Bruce to say what kinds of comments he wants, or not, more, instead of going by default cultural norms. Why? FI finds the norms harm discussion by suppressing criticism. Plus, anyway, the norms are inadequate to the task: discussion forums are typically full of flaming by people who are conventional in this respect and are trying to follow typical politeness norms.

Because people vary so much, the method that prevents fighting really well is to be *ultra conservative* – don’t say things that would offend *anyone*. Dinner parties often use this method. But it's so stifling that no substantive discussion is possible, so discussion forums don't operate that way – so people end up offended. FI’s solution to this is mainly to stop expecting or demanding people follow your personal take on politeness norms, and to be much more tolerant, and to focus much more on the ideas than the people.


> or that I feel is nitpicking unnecessarily (like Josh's.)

Bruce, I think you forgot, but you actually asked Josh to nitpick. Anon suggested that Josh was being misleading by writing about things of interest to Josh, not Bruce, in replies to text by Bruce. Which is fine to do, but it would have been better for Josh to include a note clarifying what he was doing.

Josh responded agreeing with anon:

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/fallible-ideas/conversations/messages/27990

>> I don't expect Bruce to care about these points. Putting "[nit]" in the subject for posts that are entirely about nit-picky details would help clarify my intention.


Bruce wrote back:

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/fallible-ideas/conversations/messages/28004

> Josh, I'm fine with it. Please continue. I actually did change it based on your feedback even though it was a 'nit'. Felt like the word didn't really need to be there.

But now, it turns out, as Anon thought, that Bruce is not fine with it. This is a good illustration of how skilled philosophers often understand people better than they understand themselves.



> this response to you took 2.5 hours of work.

Bruce, I advise you not to write posts you feel are “work”, and to address matters like these with ~3 sentence replies unless you *want* to write more.

I think a larger number of short posts would be considerably more effective *and* easier *and* more fun for you. (I recommend the same thing to ~everyone.)

Here is an example of addressing something in 3 sentences, to give you a better sense of the kind of thing i’m suggesting:

I agree I could have handled anon’s post better, but I still think he was being a jerk. I don’t want to get caught in parochial debates about the details of what particular people said, which I don’t have time for. Going forward, I plan to try to focus more on the issues that interest me, and ignore comments I consider unproductive (like adversarial debating or nitpicking).


Elliot Temple
www.fallibleideas.com

PAS

unread,
Oct 7, 2018, 7:39:38 PM10/7/18
to FIGG, FIYG

On Oct 7, 2018, at 11:56 AM, Elliot Temple <cu...@curi.us> wrote:

> Similarly, many posters write posts with many sections (one section means some block quoting and a reply), contrary to my advice that most people should mostly write single-section posts, and pretty much never use more than 3 sections. I think the reason people don’t listen to me is *I* don’t do what I advise them to do, but, as I’ve told them, I don’t think they should try to copy me. I have preferences, goals and skills (like ability to accurately track very complex conversation trees without it being a burden) that others don’t have.

I think the above is an example of a suggestion for how to avoid overreaching. I’ve heard it before and I sometimes try to follow it.

With regard to this message, there was only this one part I wanted to respond to so the number of sections wasn’t a problem. But that’s natural - not a result of trying to follow the suggestion to avoid overreaching.

It’s fairly common for me to want to respond to many things in a post (more than 3), and that’s when the suggestion actually matters. When that is the case, often all of the options I can think of for following the suggestion seem bad or boring:

- Just answer the first section, then post another email responding to the next section etc.
Problem: That requires dealing with the quote headers and deleting all the extraneous material multiple times instead of once, and I find that boring.

- Just answer the first section, or the most important section. Deal with responses to it etc. until you’re ready to go on to the next.
Problem: I feel like I’ll never get through a long post that way. And even if I do I’ll forget what I had in mind to say originally. And more likely I’ll lose motivation or be distracted by something else.

- Keep larger sections before breaking to comment, to keep the number of sections less than 4.
Problem: Makes the resulting post way worse by making it harder to track which comments apply to which specific part of the quote.

- Just don’t reply to the post, cuz I don’t know how to do it without it being bad in some way.
Problem: Cuts me off from responding to some of the best / most interesting posts on FI.

PAS



anonymous FI

unread,
Oct 7, 2018, 8:11:03 PM10/7/18
to FIGG, FIYG
Why would you want to discuss 8 things at once, instead of 1-3? That
seems like too many topics for you, given the amount you post.

PAS

unread,
Oct 7, 2018, 8:41:02 PM10/7/18
to FIGG, FIYG
I think “things” in the first sentence could refer to what I was talking about. I used “things” in one of my sentences too.

But then you used “topics” in the second sentence, which is something different than what I was talking about.

The primary word both Elliot and I used, “sections”, is what I had in mind when I used “things”.

I probably wouldn’t want to discuss 8 *topics* at once. And even if I did, they wouldn’t all be in the same post.

I do sometimes want to discuss 8 *sections* (or, if it helps clarify further, 8 *quotes*) at once. Because all the sections are about the same topic, and they’re all already in the same post that I’m replying to.

PAS



Elliot Temple

unread,
Oct 7, 2018, 11:01:55 PM10/7/18
to FIGG, FIYG
It’s completely reasonable terminology to count each section as the same topic (for many posts, not all posts), and also, to count them as different topics (it depends how big a thing you regard as one topic). It's just different counting methods.

That has no real bearing on the point, which is that I claim 8 sections is generally far too much stuff for you to handle at once, and IMO you’re making an overreaching mistake by wanting to deal with that much at once.

Elliot Temple
www.fallibleideas.com

PAS

unread,
Oct 9, 2018, 11:25:16 PM10/9/18
to FI, FIGG
For a message where I initially want to reply to 8 sections, what should I do instead?

Is there a good option I didn’t think of? Is the problem I listed with one of the options I did think of easily solved?

PAS

Elliot Temple

unread,
Oct 10, 2018, 2:25:04 AM10/10/18
to fallibl...@googlegroups.com, FI
Why would you want to reply to 8 sections?

Suppose you get an average of 2 (good) replies per section. Do you want to write 16 followups? Do you want to write even 8 followups, repeatedly? Even if there’s only one person replying, they may start do multiple replies to some of your sections, so the amount of sections to deal with may increase.

How will you organize these 8 things in your mind? How will you keep track of them and how they fit together and fit into the bigger picture?

Why do you want to do them simultaneously instead of pursue some and then come back and pursue others? Is it because you won’t come back and pursue others later? Because of organizational or motivational issues? If so, I don’t think just doing 8 at once now is the solution.

Is your idea on the topic really complex enough that it needs 8 sections? Why don’t you focus more on presenting your important point – the thing where you have a major value to gain from making progress on it – instead of getting lost in minor asides?

Elliot Temple
www.elliottemple.com

PAS

unread,
Oct 10, 2018, 11:15:20 AM10/10/18
to fallibl...@yahoogroups.com, fallibl...@googlegroups.com
I think it varies, so it’s easier to address a specific example. This post looks like an example. Not necessarily 8 sections, but more than 3. Here, the reason is that it looks like you asked more than 3 questions, and I want to answer them all.

I’ll just do sections as seems natural.

> Suppose you get an average of 2 (good) replies per section. Do you want to write 16 followups? Do you want to write even 8 followups, repeatedly?

Part of me wants to. Part of me finds repeated followups some kind of unpleasant. Or, at least, less pleasant than initial replies, new threads, and stuff other than FI posting.

The number of sections to followup on isn’t directly the issue, as there are plenty of messages with only one section that I don’t follow up on. But I do agree a larger number of sections magnifies the effect.

> Even if there’s only one person replying, they may start do multiple replies to some of your sections, so the amount of sections to deal with may increase.

Yes this is a problem. But as above, not one I think is directly related to the number of sections.

Generally: FI generates significantly more good information flow than I find pleasant to address. FI’s information flow includes replies to me, but also new topics I find interesting, your blog posts, podcasts, and Gumroad products.

I don’t think artificially constraining the number of sections in my posts will help much with that.

> How will you organize these 8 things in your mind? How will you keep track of them and how they fit together and fit into the bigger picture?

I don’t have an explicit answer to how I organize in general. In this specific case, the organization is that these questions are all about problems that arise with multiple sections.

> Why do you want to do them simultaneously instead of pursue some and then come back and pursue others? Is it because you won’t come back and pursue others later? Because of organizational or motivational issues? If so, I don’t think just doing 8 at once now is the solution.

It’s motivation mostly. If I only answered a small part of this message it’s unlikely I’d come back later and answer more. Some other message, or some other activity, would be more interesting.

> Is your idea on the topic really complex enough that it needs 8 sections? Why don’t you focus more on presenting your important point – the thing where you have a major value to gain from making progress on it – instead of getting lost in minor asides?

I think this post was best with many sections. Complexity isn’t really the issue as much as having multiple questions and wanting to make it clear which answers go with which questions.

If I had to boil this post down to one most important point instead of doing multiple sections, it would be (quoting myself above):
> Generally: FI generates significantly more good information flow than I find pleasant to address. FI’s information flow includes replies to me, but also new topics I find interesting, your blog posts, podcasts, and Gumroad products.
>
> I don’t think artificially constraining the number of sections in my posts will help much with that.

I think only sending that, instead of the multiple sections I actually am sending, would have been worse. It would have left too many of your questions unanswered, like I wasn’t really addressing what you said.

PAS

Elliot Temple

unread,
Oct 12, 2018, 5:12:16 PM10/12/18
to fallibl...@googlegroups.com, fallibl...@yahoogroups.com
They were a group of rhetorical questions that were meant to work together to make a point, and be understood and responded to as a unit. Breaking them up seems to misunderstand them and not engage with the point. I didn’t want to ask you 8 (or however many) things.

> I’ll just do sections as seems natural.
>
>> Suppose you get an average of 2 (good) replies per section. Do you want to write 16 followups? Do you want to write even 8 followups, repeatedly?
>
> Part of me wants to. Part of me finds repeated followups some kind of unpleasant. Or, at least, less pleasant than initial replies, new threads, and stuff other than FI posting.
>
> The number of sections to followup on isn’t directly the issue, as there are plenty of messages with only one section that I don’t follow up on. But I do agree a larger number of sections magnifies the effect.
>
>> Even if there’s only one person replying, they may start do multiple replies to some of your sections, so the amount of sections to deal with may increase.
>
> Yes this is a problem. But as above, not one I think is directly related to the number of sections.
>
> Generally: FI generates significantly more good information flow than I find pleasant to address. FI’s information flow includes replies to me, but also new topics I find interesting, your blog posts, podcasts, and Gumroad products.
>
> I don’t think artificially constraining the number of sections in my posts will help much with that.
>
>> How will you organize these 8 things in your mind? How will you keep track of them and how they fit together and fit into the bigger picture?
>
> I don’t have an explicit answer to how I organize in general. In this specific case, the organization is that these questions are all about problems that arise with multiple sections.
>
>> Why do you want to do them simultaneously instead of pursue some and then come back and pursue others? Is it because you won’t come back and pursue others later? Because of organizational or motivational issues? If so, I don’t think just doing 8 at once now is the solution.
>
> It’s motivation mostly. If I only answered a small part of this message it’s unlikely I’d come back later and answer more. Some other message, or some other activity, would be more interesting.
>
>> Is your idea on the topic really complex enough that it needs 8 sections? Why don’t you focus more on presenting your important point – the thing where you have a major value to gain from making progress on it – instead of getting lost in minor asides?
>
> I think this post was best with many sections. Complexity isn’t really the issue as much as having multiple questions and wanting to make it clear which answers go with which questions.
>
> If I had to boil this post down to one most important point instead of doing multiple sections, it would be (quoting myself above):
>> Generally: FI generates significantly more good information flow than I find pleasant to address. FI’s information flow includes replies to me, but also new topics I find interesting, your blog posts, podcasts, and Gumroad products.
>>
>> I don’t think artificially constraining the number of sections in my posts will help much with that.
>
> I think only sending that, instead of the multiple sections I actually am sending, would have been worse. It would have left too many of your questions unanswered, like I wasn’t really addressing what you said.

I think you’re making scattered comments without knowing how they fit together, and that you would be better off with a different approach where you try to understand what my point was about (as one thing) and then give your reply (one thing).

If you can’t do that, then I think you would benefit from recognizing what’s going on and trying to address that directly, not proceeding with many sections, none of which address the core issue.

Example ways to proceed if you don’t know how to address the core issue:

Write one primary section for your post that says you don’t know what the core issue is and/or how to address is. Say the situation. Then optionally say that, in hopes of adding something, you’ve included some scattered comments, below. Then you can have many sections when they are openly identified as scattered – as individual little bits that aren’t adequately connected to each other or to the main topic – and not necessary very useful.

Express the problem situation and ask a question about it, e.g. what point I was getting at. Instead of writing scattered replies, take more direct steps to find out what I was talking about. Like ask how two things I said relate to each other.

Elliot Temple
www.fallibleideas.com

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages