[ExI] a little essay on anger and respect

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at gmail.com
Tue Apr 25 09:06:08 UTC 2023

Hi Giovani,
I can see why you think I'm a religious nut.  After all, I call myself a
Mormon Transhumanist Atheist.  And 90% of people touting  qualities are
exactly that, religious nuts, as you can see by the many substance dualists
all the other crazy and lonely camps you can see on canonizer.  Most of
those lonely camp supporters can't get published, so they flock to

On Mon, Apr 24, 2023 at 10:13 PM Giovanni Santostasi via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> Brent,
> I do admire your passion as spike pointed out. It is rare that somebody
> that is not an expert in a field finds an abstract topic like this one
> interesting enough to learn some of the fundamentals and come up with his
> own understanding. Also being an expert in a field doesn't entitle somebody
> to dismiss a valid argument. There are a lot of amateurs in different
> fields that made incredible contributions without getting a Ph.D. degree.

Thanks.  How does spending my life traveling the world, attending
conferences, trying to interview and find out what everyone thinks about
consciousness, trying to build and track consensus around the best theories
count, compared to a PhD in this field?  (for the same motivation reason as
you, see below) I now have two peer reviewed publications in the field. ;)

The problem though is that sometimes talking to you it seems you have read
> about this topic of qualia but you don't have a good grasp of even simple
> concepts in neuroscience. Neuroscience is not like Physics where we have
> detailed knowledge of most natural laws and precise equations that we can
> calculate or model using computers. It is much vaguer and it has few
> unifying principles. But one of them is that the brain is made of neurons
> that communicate and process information via trains of electrical spike
> activity (spike means it is not continuous but made of pulses that have a
> specific time structure). The code is in this timing as far as we know.
> Neurotransmitters are also important to understand how the brain works but
> in a sense have a secondary role.

I do recognize my ignorance in the field of neuroscience, and so very much
appreciate experts like yourself helping me out, and for your patience.
Most of the hard core neural science conferences I go to, I tell them about
how we are building and tracking consensus on the best theories, and they
get VERY excited saying what a great idea what I'm doing is.  That is until
they find out that the emerging consensus has anything to do with
"QUALIA".  I tell you, onced you mention that word at a hard core
neuroscience conference, you really learn what the phrase "cold shoulder"
means, for the rest of the conference.

> Some of the frustration that several of us in the list have toward your
> position is that goes against what most of us that worked in the field or
> have some technical knowledge of neuroscience know about the brain but also
> what information is, how it is processed, what is essential in a signal and
> so on. It is not that there is no space for new insights because these
> happen regularly in our exploration of the world but the claims you make
> seem unsubstantiated and do not seem to add much to the discussion.
> Some of us maybe not participating anymore and ignoring the debate. The
> reason I stuck around is based on what I perceive as the implication of
> what you are claiming is something that more people will adhere to in the
> future as a response to the AI revolution. It is the same reason why I
> strongly react to Gordon's position.
> It is basically the idea that biological brains are the only ones that can
> sustain true awareness and intelligence. I'm not sure why you believe this
> but your claims lead to this conclusion. In the case of Gordon, I know
> because of previous conversations and posts in other media, that he has
> some religious beliefs that make him arrive at this conclusion.

OH, YES.  this is exactly why I am also so interested and motivated to
study this field, and am SO glad you share this critically important
passion..  Thousands of people die every day.  So if an action we take,
delays the singularity, even 1 Day, you have now basically done far worse
than murder thousands of people.  Because if you murder someone, you are
destroying at most 100 years of life.  But if you push the singularity back
a day, you've prevented thousands of people from making it to the immortal
life (i.e. heaven) after the singularity.

Precisely the reason I fight against anti qualia transhumanists is because
in my belief, you are part of the problem.  Everyone can know, absolutely,
that our knowledge of [image: red_border.png], is different from a code
like "*RED*".  And I'm sorry, in my opinion, as  much as you know about
neuroscience, to me, and many religious people, when you make the claims
you make about qualities, like this, you completely destroy your reputation
in their eyes.

We're working on our set of videos
<https://canonizer.com/videos/consciousness> because people need to
understand what uploading, and consciousness engineering is going to be
like before 2050.  From what you are arguing, they will be able to
duplicate our brains in some way, and those duplicates will be
indistinguishable from us.  And for you, that is all right?  We will never
know if they are the same as us?  What do you believe uploading will be
like?  How will it work?  According to your theory, how do we discover,
hopefully hundreds of more colorness qualities?  People need to understand
that there is more than what you are predicting.  The name of the next
chapter is "Out of Body Experiences"  (working transcript
Where we teach people how their knowledge of their spirit, leaves their
knowledge of their body, and then flies around their bubble world
knowledge of the world around them, all in their head, all dependent on
their brain.  The chapter after that is "Uploading"  (working transcript
where we teach people what uploading to more capable brains and avatars
will be like.  The most important part is educating people how they will
know it is really them in the body over there, and all that.

If our knowledge of [image: red_border.png], arises from timed neural
trains of spikes, then it is critically important that we build and track
consensus around that prediction, so people can see how important that idea
is, and how much expert consensus that idea has.  And we need to find all
the people that think otherwise (still me, included) and work till we can
find arguments that will convince them, all the while vigorously tracking
whether the arguments we are using are working or not.  (In my opinion, the
way you talk about qualities, just drives any quolophile away, and
completely destroys your reputation.  Saying there are no color qualities
in the world, how insane is that?)  Seems to me, people like Gordan and
myself, should be your primary target of audience.  In my opinion, what you
are saying is just driving them further away, into the arms of the insane
religious prophets taking us all to the grave.

I was talking about all the lonely crazy theory camps represented in
The exciting part is what all those crazy theories agree on.  That rises to
the top in the super camps.  And what everyone agrees on is usually what is
most important for the lay people to understand.  Functionalism is the
leading consensus camp.  If we could get more people building consensus
around functionalists camps, that could easily increase its expert consensus
<https://canonizer.com/topic/81> lead, especially ahead of camps like substance
People SO desperately need a trusted source of expert consensus
information in this field, otherwise they will just follow their insane
religious prophets, taking us all with them into the grave.

As AI advances more and more we will see more people reacting in irrational
> ways toward the idea that machines can be conscious and may even demand
> rights or we should be worried about treating them as fully sentient
> beings. Hopefully, this doesn't lead to violent social conflicts and maybe
> even wars. But for sure there will be a lot of political debate around
> these topics in the near future.
> I consider this an existential danger than the idea of AI going rogue
> (that is very unlikely in my opinion).

Exactly, Exactly, Exactly.  THAT is why I am working so hard on building
and tracking consensus in this field.  The popular consensus, especially in
my religious family and friends, is for some "spirit" that goes to
heaven to meet Jesus, and other dead people, when they die!!!  That popular
consensus belief is going to postpone the singularity for decades!!!  We
need to track how many of those people aren't yet on board with what you
are proclaiming, and why.  Then we need to start using their language, and
their trusted experts, to get them on board with something that will truly
save them and all of us.  We need to stop saying things that just drive
them further away, and we need to track what is working, and what is
getting them on board.

> This is why there is emotion sometimes attached to this discussion, there
> is a lot at stake. Basically the future of our civilization.

I am so glad I am not the only one with this much passion for exactly
this.  I believe that if we could focus on what we believe in, in the super
camps, and stop only talking about the far less important minor
disagreements, and push this stuff down to the supporting sub camps, out of
the way of the important stuff, we would be far more successful at getting
people on board the saving eternal life giving truths they need to
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