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a theory of minds compatible with inborn strong wants, or inborn rage, and then give evidence it is true. In order to do that, one would actually need to have an elaborated theory of mind. Such theory does not exist at the moment. We do have a theory of how minds work: We know how knowledge is created. We know that minds create knowledge, and thus must use the only process capable of doing so: "conjectures and refutations" aka "evolution". We know that complex hardware is not required to allow for universal minds -- so there need not be any restrictions on our functionality -- and we know that such restrictions would not evolve without a reason. We know that adult humans are capable of changing large parts of their minds, including their politics, and their emotional tendencies. We can describe minds, roughly, as consisting of a conjecture generator, a refutation (criticism) generator, a storage and lookup section, a facility for data input, and a facility for outputting results. Our *brains* contain other parts, for example a complex visual processing facility. But this facility contains no *theories*. It is not a part of our personality. It is a part of our mind's environment. We know that human adults can make very complex changes to their personalities, including their emotions. There is some debate about whether this applies to *all* of one's theories, or if some become permanent. It isn't very good debate, and the TCS position is the best: theories theories become entrenched by a process involving coercion, and while there is no limit to how entrenched a theory can become, nor is there any point at which it is impossible to undo. (I glossed over the details of how theories are entrenched because it is off topic. TCS theory does contain a detailed explanation.) We know roughly *why* minds evolved: to allow humans to learn new things during their life, which includes learning how to teach children. This increased the knowledge available to humans for survival. We know that software minds are better and faster at creating knowledge than DNA by orders of magnitude, and we can reasonably suppose that allowing minds to control a human's life was an evolutionary priority, because they are better at it. This is born out by observations of people: our minds have extensive control over our bodies. We know a lot about building complex systems. Complex programming projects are built up in many layers, each more powerful than the previous. Complex human theories rely on and reference many less complex theories, which in turn reference less complex theories, and so on.
Similarly, we know about building wrappers on interfaces. A very bad interface for controlling a system is not a problem if you write layer (s) on top of it. A poor representation of data can also be solved with a layer allowing it to be used in a better way. Together, these comments, as well as many others, constitute a theory of how minds work. (Which is still missing some important details.) ======= The particular question at issue is about inborn strong theories, or an inborn personality including emotions. The first issue to consider is how theories contained in genes would be loaded into a mind. This has to be done while the mind is being physically built. At this time, there are no layers of theories present, so the only type of theory which could be inserted would be a very low level one. Then we should consider what it means for this theory to be "strong". That means, roughly, that it is hard to change, and that it continues to play a significant role in the person's personality for a considerable time period. Let's look at making a theory hard or impossible to change. To make one impossible to change, we must fight against generality -- we must tinker with our mind to make it less powerful -- add a feature which serves to remove a feature -- so that our mind only has limited ability to alter its own data. This takes significant effort, and has negative consequences for survival -- an evolutionary disadvantage. There have been no plausible proposals for why a dirty hack like this would have evolved. Making theories hard to change is actually worse. Now we have to tinker with the mind's ability to alter its own data, but rather than adding an access/no-access flag to block changes to some data, we have to add a more complex system with shades of grey. And what about guaranteeing a theory to play a significant role in one's personality over time? Prima facie, what will happen, especially in very young children, is that newer layers of complexity in one's mind will make sweeping changes, and drastically reinterpret things from the previous layer. The rate of change will slow down the more layers there are. (And of course, some of this will take the form of editing old layers rather than building new ones.) So how could we design a *strong* inborn theory to defeat this process? Maybe we could somehow break it so that other parts of the mind can't interact with it normally? No reasonable answer exists. And there's another problem: this is a very low level, simple theory from layer one. It bears no resemblance to the thoughts an adult has. And it has no knowledge of what those thoughts are like. So it couldn't possibly know how to have a complex effect on them. In other words, genes in the womb don't have knowledge of high level human personalities, and do not know how to affect them.
There are other approaches one could take. With perfect prediction we might be able to find a time and place that one little nudge in a person's life would lead to very different outcomes. Perhaps we could design an inborn theory that looks for opportunities to nudge things? Unfortunately, it would require a huge amount of knowledge to know when and what to nudge, which just isn't available. So, that's it. We don't have strong inborn theories. We know this. Not with certainty. But it is the only reasonable position we know of. ===== Here are some brief comments outlining a theory of emotions: Envision our skull as a control room, in which our mind is able to press various buttons. One of these buttons releases adrenaline, and increases heart-rate, as well as a few other functions (this could also be split among multiple buttons, no matter). Call this the "rage" button. Adults who are angry reliably press this button, and thus associate it with anger. Infants sometimes display the same, apparent outward signs of rage, because they too press the button. However, they aren't doing it *because they feel angry*. They are developing knowledge of what buttons do and when to use the buttons, in part by trial and error. As children grow up, they reliably learn to interpret the button a certain way. And learn what emotions are, and how to interpret themselves as having emotions. Their buttons take on human level meanings which were not inborn. The important thing here is that people *choose* to press the button in a learned way. Then it has some uninteresting physical effects. Then they *interpret* this in a culturally learned way. A common theory of emotions says they are out of our control. It is a bit vague on details. But let's consider one version which states that the anger button pushes itself in certain situations, without the host having a choice. The problem is: how would the button know in which situations to activate? It can't just be "when a person starts to get angry" because the button is inborn, but the "starts to get angry" is a high level theory which our genes have no knowledge of. And it can't be in situations where anger is appropriate, because determining which those are requires complex judgment. We might conjecture it's more like: our automated visual processing system has the ability to detect a rough approximation of "danger" which evolved while we were apes. When it does so, it pushes the button. We could substitute in various other static criteria for when the button is pressed. However, we can rule these things out simply by noticing that you can't reliably induce anger in people with simplistic triggers like showing them a dangerous bear. We can also observe that even when our body presses some buttons we don't want (like giving us butterflies before a speech), as long as we disagree with the unwanted button pressing, we are still able to
function the way we want to, with only relatively minor inconvenience. Having the butterflies button pressed is nothing like being "blinded by rage". Conclusion: the "rage button" is only effective when we interpret ourselves as being angry. If we disagree with it, it has only minor effects. ======= BTW, if you're wondering how little complexity is required to allow for universal computation, here is some of today's news: http://blog.wolfram.com/2007/10/the_prize_is_won_the_simplest.html A 2 state, 3 color turing machine (very simple) was proven capable of universal computation. It seems bizarre that we should be able to achieve universal computation with a machine as simple as the one above--that we can find just by doing a little searching in the space of possible machines. But that's the new intuition that we get from NKS. That in the computational universe, phenomena like universality are actually quite common--even among systems with very simple rules. and Well, one of the predictions of PCE is that as soon as one sees something like a Turing machine whose behavior is complex, the system will end up being universal--even if its underlying rules are really simple. Other examples follow which bear this out. And we can explain why this is true. You could program an intelligent mind with this 6 rule turing machine. You'd just need a lot of layers. -- Elliot Temple http://curi.us/dialogs/
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