Larva Pupa Imago
The Splintered Mind | Reflections in Philosophy of Psychology, Broadly Construed
by Eric Schwitzgebel
3d ago
Yesterday, my favorite SF magazine, Clarkesworld, published another story of mine: "Larva Pupa Imago". "Larva Pupa Imago" follows the life-cycle of a butterfly with human-like intelligence, from larva through mating journey.  This species of butterfly blurs the boundaries between self and other by swapping "cognitive fluids".  And of course I couldn't resist a reference to Zhuangzi. LARVA PUPA IMAGO BY ERIC SCHWITZGEBEL Tight, tight. A sharp flex, a crack, a sudden a wash of air, then—the scent of a guru upwind! Guru guru guru! Larva831’s eggy thoughts gushe ..read more
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Hedonic Offsetting for Harms to Artificial Intelligence?
The Splintered Mind | Reflections in Philosophy of Psychology, Broadly Construed
by Eric Schwitzgebel
1w ago
Suppose that we someday create artificially intelligent systems (AIs) who are capable of genuine consciousness, real joy and real suffering.  Yes, I admit, I spend a lot of time thinking about this seemingly science-fictional possibility.  But it might be closer than most of us think; and if so, the consequences are potentially huge.  Who better to think about it in advance than we lovers of consciousness science, moral psychology, and science fiction? Among the potentially huge consequences is the existence of vast numbers of genuinely suffering AI systems that we treat a ..read more
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New Paper in Draft: Dispositionalism, Yay! Representationalism, Boo! Plus, the Problem of Causal Specification
The Splintered Mind | Reflections in Philosophy of Psychology, Broadly Construed
by Eric Schwitzgebel
2w ago
I have a new paper in draft: "Dispositionalism, Yay! Representationalism, Boo!" Check it out here. As always, objections, comments, and suggestions welcome, either in the comments field here or by email to my ucr address. Abstract We should be dispositionalists rather than representationalists about belief. According to dispositionalism, a person believes when they have the relevant pattern of behavioral, phenomenal, and cognitive dispositions. According to representationalism, a person believes when the right kind of representational content plays the right kind of causal role in their cog ..read more
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The Design Policy of the Excluded Middle
The Splintered Mind | Reflections in Philosophy of Psychology, Broadly Construed
by Eric Schwitzgebel
1M ago
According to the Design Policy of the Excluded Middle, as Mara Garza and I have articulated it (here and here), we ought to avoid creating AI systems "about which it is unclear whether they deserve full human-grade rights because it is unclear whether they are conscious or to what degree" -- or, more simply, we shouldn't make AI systems whose moral status is legitimately in doubt.  (This is related to Joanna Bryson's suggestion that we should only create robots whose lack of moral considerability is obvious, but unlike Bryson's policy it imagines leapfrogging past the no-rights case to t ..read more
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Writings of 2022
The Splintered Mind | Reflections in Philosophy of Psychology, Broadly Construed
by Eric Schwitzgebel
1M ago
Every New Year's Day, I post a retrospect of the past year's writings. Here are the retrospects of 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. The biggest project this year was my new book The Weirdness of the World, submitted in November and due in print in early fall 2023.  This book pulls together ideas I've been publishing over the past ten years concerning the failure of common sense, philosophy, and empirical science to explain consciousness and the fundamental structure of the cosmos, and the corresponding bizarreness and dubiety of all general theori ..read more
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The Moral Status of Alien Microbes, Plus a Thought about Artificial Life
The Splintered Mind | Reflections in Philosophy of Psychology, Broadly Construed
by Eric Schwitzgebel
1M ago
Some scientists think it's quite possible we will soon find evidence of microbial life in the Solar System, if not on Mars, then maybe in the subsurface oceans of a gas giant's icy moon, such as Europa, Enceladus, or Titan. Suppose we do find alien life nearby. Presumably, we wouldn't or shouldn't casually destroy it. Perhaps the same goes for possible future artificial life systems on Earth. Now you might think that alien microbes would have only instrumental value for human beings. Few people think that Earthly microbes have intrinsic moral standing or moral considerability for their own sak ..read more
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The Moral Measurement Problem: Four Flawed Methods
The Splintered Mind | Reflections in Philosophy of Psychology, Broadly Construed
by Eric Schwitzgebel
1M ago
[This post draws on ideas developed in collaboration with psychologist Jessie Sun.] So you want to build a moralometer -- that is, a device that measures someone's true moral character? Yes, yes. Such a device would be so practically and scientifically useful! (Maybe somewhat dystopian, though? Careful where you point that thing!) You could try to build a moralometer by one of four methods: self-report, informant report, behavioral measurement, or physiological measurement. Each presents daunting methodological challenges. Self-report moralometers To find out how moral a person is, we could si ..read more
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An Objection to Chalmers's Fading Qualia Argument
The Splintered Mind | Reflections in Philosophy of Psychology, Broadly Construed
by Eric Schwitzgebel
1M ago
Would a neuron-for-neuron silicon isomorph of you have conscious experiences? Or is there something special about the biology of neurons, so that no brain made of silicon, no matter how sophisticated and similar to yours, could actually have conscious experiences? In his 1996 book and a related 1995 article, David Chalmers offers what he calls the "fading qualia" argument that there's nothing in principle special about neurons (see also Cuda 1985). The basic idea is that, in principle, scientists could swap your neurons out one by one, and you'd never notice the difference. But if your conscio ..read more
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An Accurate Moralometer Would Be So Useful... but Also Horrible?
The Splintered Mind | Reflections in Philosophy of Psychology, Broadly Construed
by Eric Schwitzgebel
2M ago
Imagine, if you can, an accurate moralometer -- an inexpensive device you could point at someone to get an accurate reading of their overall moral goodness or badness. Point it at Hitler and see it plunge down into the deep red of evil. Point it at your favorite saint and see it rise up to the bright green of near perfection. Would this be a good thing or a bad thing to have? Now maybe you can't imagine an accurate moralometer. Maybe it's just too far from being scientifically feasible -- more on this in an upcoming post. Or maybe, more fundamentally, morality just isn't the kind of thing can ..read more
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A Chatbot's Take on "Moralometers"
The Splintered Mind | Reflections in Philosophy of Psychology, Broadly Construed
by Eric Schwitzgebel
2M ago
I still have COVID, and I had a book manuscript deadline Wednesday. Things got out of hand, and I wasn't able to write up the blog post I wanted to write this week. Boo! But as regular readers will know, the chatbot GPT-3 can write Schwitzgebelian blog posts, and -- after fine-tuning on the corpus of Dan Dennett -- can even answer philosophical questions in Dennett's style, which experts on Dennett's work have difficulty discriminating from Dennett's own answers. On Monday, Open-AI released an update of their GPT-3 model, Davinci-003. Since I'd been planning to write a blog post on the idea of ..read more
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