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Intro to Consciousness + QRI Reading List

Thanks for crossposting the list on the Forum.

The 1st recommendation (Consciousness Realism: The Non-Eliminativist Physicalist View of Consciousness by Magnus Vinding) touches on the limits of physical simulations (:

More generally, there is no guarantee that a simulation of something, no matter how much information it includes of that something, will have the same properties as the thing being simulated. [...]


For those who may be interested in the topic, consider Gordon McCabe's Universe creation on a computer. The paper elaborates on the limits of (digital) simulations of physical systems, bringing, IMO, healthy skepticism about the simulation hypothesis (and thus about the possibility of "simulated" minds).

What are the key ongoing debates in EA?
Answer by eFishApr 02, 202010

One such a debate is how (un)important doing "AI safety" now is. See, for example, Center on Long-Term Risk's (previously known as Foundational Research Institute) Lukas Gloor’s Altruists Should Prioritize Artificial Intelligence and Magnus Vinding's "point-by-point critique" of Gloor's essay in Why Altruists Should Perhaps Not Prioritize Artificial Intelligence: A Lengthy Critique.

Launching Utilitarianism.net: An Introductory Online Textbook on Utilitarianism

Good point. Thank you.

Even classical utilitarianism can belong to the umbrella term of suffering-focused ethics if its supporters agree that we should still focus on reducing suffering in practice (for its neglectedness, relative easiness of prevention, as a common ground with other ethical views, etc).

Launching Utilitarianism.net: An Introductory Online Textbook on Utilitarianism

Negative utilitarianism (NU) isn't mentioned anywhere on the website, AFAIS. This ethical view has quite a few supporters among thinkers, and unlike classical utilitarianism (CU) NU appears satiable ("maximize happiness" vs "minimize misery"). There are subtypes like weak NU (lexical NU and lexical threshold NU), consent-based NU, and perhaps OPIS' "xNU+".

Are there reasons for the omission?

Tips for overcoming low back pain

What worked in my case (of lower back pain that I had suffered for many years starting from a high-school on) is standing 90-95% of my working time (at an improvised standing desk, and an adjustable one at my last job). (I exercised in both cases, although those included mostly push ups, running, and, most helpfully, pulling up.)

Surveying attitudes towards helping wild animals among scientists and students

It can be insightful to read the particular obstacles (found in the full report in Results) scholars and students thought of to the three interventions.

(Similarly for the previous, qualitative study: as a comment to that previous report says, "Those quotes capture elements of the interviewees' thinking that are difficult to summarize.")

What are some software development needs in EA causes?

What I saw recently is mobile development (in a co-founder role) for a sleep-aid app and web development (WP plugins, DB architecture, API integration), full-time, for the Social Science Prediction Platform.

Check also EA Work Club and the Effective Altruism Job Postings and Effective Altruism Volunteering FB groups.

Also I would try ask Effective Thesis if they can connect you with the right persons. (They connect students with suitable thesis projects, but I imagine they can serve your case too if they know relevant connections.)

Thanks for your initiative!

Genetic Enhancement as a Cause Area

[...] UBI as a cause I think may rank above genetic enhancement [...]

I would counter that genetic enhancement would be the only cause that could address the root problem - the biology of suffering itself. Environmental interventions, on the other hand, are ultimately limited by the "hedonic" treadmill effect (that is not to say, of course, that the worst cases like factory farming and extreme poverty should not be solved ASAP).

Genetic Enhancement as a Cause Area

Thanks for bringing up the topic!

In the long term, I believe selecting embryos for favorable traits will happen anyway, regardless of ethical qualms, because once the technology has been demonstrated, countries unwilling to adopt it will risk falling far behind.

Another reason how selecting embryos may become a norm is that, as the technology matures, parents will eventually have a choice to have at least a slightly higher hedonic set-point for their children. Why would they choose not to have happier children? Presumably, more positive children are more fun to raise and are expected to be successful in life. So, other time, psychological pain may be genetically eliminated / reduced. See perhaps this line of argument in David Pearce’s The Reproductive Revolution.

Also, “short-term” improvement in well-being may be considered the long-termist’s goal as WMD, which are expected to be much more available in future, are arguably less likely to be used by “life lovers”.

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