Posts

Interview with Michael Tye about invertebrate consciousness 2019-08-08T10:13:06.880Z · score: 32 (15 votes)
Interview with Shelley Adamo about invertebrate consciousness 2019-06-21T14:40:41.115Z · score: 37 (17 votes)
Thoughts on the welfare of farmed insects 2019-05-08T19:22:52.855Z · score: 31 (19 votes)
My recommendations for RSI treatment 2019-05-07T18:43:12.984Z · score: 46 (15 votes)
Interview with Jon Mallatt about invertebrate consciousness 2019-04-28T17:52:52.679Z · score: 81 (35 votes)
The Evolution of Sentience as a Factor in the Cambrian Explosion: Setting up the Question 2019-03-11T17:54:10.089Z · score: 28 (12 votes)
Sharks probably do feel pain: a reply to Michael Tye and others 2019-02-04T13:51:50.241Z · score: 19 (12 votes)
Why I'm focusing on invertebrate sentience 2018-12-08T19:24:25.251Z · score: 53 (24 votes)

Comments

Comment by maxcarpendale on Interview with Michael Tye about invertebrate consciousness · 2019-08-09T11:49:31.044Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you! :)

Thanks for mentioning C. elegans behavioural flexibility. I had meant to comment about that, but forgot to. That's a great paper on the subject.

I think people sometimes unfairly minimize the cognitive abilities of some invertebrates because it gives them cleaner and more straightforward answers about which organisms are conscious, according to their preferred theory.

Comment by maxcarpendale on Interview with Michael Tye about invertebrate consciousness · 2019-08-08T14:11:34.891Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

You are very welcome! :)

That passage is also one of my favourite parts of his answers, thanks for highlighting it.

I'll take a look at that David Pearce post, thanks for the link.

Thanks for pointing at the typo, fixed it now.

Comment by maxcarpendale on Ways Frugality Increases Productivity · 2019-07-19T19:45:38.658Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Another way that frugality can improve productivity is that it can reduce the amount of time you spend buying, looking after, organizing, tidying, and thinking about physical possessions (because you probably have fewer of them). Of course, people who aren't frugal don't necessarily have more things, but they tend to have more of them.

Comment by maxcarpendale on Six-month update and summer fundraiser at Wild Animal Initiative · 2019-07-17T17:50:43.818Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Bravo!

I'm particularly excited about the paper submissions and the increased academic expertise of your staff. That seems very important in getting this work taken more seriously.

Comment by maxcarpendale on Invertebrate Welfare Cause Profile · 2019-07-17T17:41:55.807Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Excellent post!

Staying within the phylum, snails are consumed by humans in many cultures[53] and have attracted some attention as an edge case of consciousness in philosophical circles. A representative from class Gastropoda would therefore be useful.

It looks like there is a small error here. Aplysia was included on the table and is from class Gastropoda.

Comment by maxcarpendale on What Do Unconscious Processes in Humans Tell Us About Sentience? · 2019-06-22T13:09:02.564Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Great article! I like the conceptual clarification that you do about what it means to say that a process is unconscious and how people use this term inconsistently in the literature. I've never seen that put so well and it's important.

I was wondering what you think of cases where a good idea 'spontaneously' occurs to someone while there thinking about something unrelated or while their mind is wandering. I only know anecdotes about this phenomenon, but I think it's a widespread phenomenon that most people would experience something like this themselves.

Some people have some of their best ideas in this way and it seems to satisfy both criteria for being an unconscious process. I am not sure if it's directly related to any of the potential consciousness indicating features, but it seems like an example of very complex cognition being unconscious. Albeit it's a bit murky how it occurs.

Comment by maxcarpendale on Interview with Shelley Adamo about invertebrate consciousness · 2019-06-22T12:50:27.347Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks! Good thoughts!

I'm also not sure if we know how expensive emotions are. In particular, even if some emotions are complicated, I'm not sure if the basic conscious experience of pain is complicated (at least the affective part of the experience, maybe not the sensory part). It subjectively seems like quite a simple feeling, but I don't know much about this, and I'd like to learn more.

Comment by maxcarpendale on Interview with Shelley Adamo about invertebrate consciousness · 2019-06-21T15:05:39.396Z · score: 11 (7 votes) · EA · GW

Shelley Adamo misunderstands first question in part c) of her answer. I didn't mean to suggest that biology was required for consciousness, just that biological organisms might be more likely to have underlying homology with humans, which could mean that they might be conscious while similarly complex AI would not be.I think that our best theories of consciousness suggest that at some point AI will be conscious.

An issue with a written interview like this is that you can't make clarifications on the fly to head off misunderstandings. I hope to improve on conducting these interviews in the future.

Comment by maxcarpendale on My recommendations for RSI treatment · 2019-06-18T17:12:57.619Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

That's fantastic!

Comment by maxcarpendale on My recommendations for RSI treatment · 2019-06-18T17:08:56.725Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the recommendations! I'll try to take a look at the evidence for eccentric training, I wasn't aware of that. I didn't go into any specific recommendations about strength training, because I expect that because I wanted to keep the post fairly short and because I expect my recommendations would depend a lot on specific case, and so couldn't be communicated well in a general post. But if it's as effective as you say, I definitely should have mentioned it.

I'm planning on updating this post at some point and I'll mention eccentric training and mention you in the acknowledgements if the evidence find it does look good.

Comment by maxcarpendale on My recommendations for RSI treatment · 2019-06-18T11:55:20.071Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Hi Tofan, I'm glad you got relief from that! That must be amazing for you! Sorry if this comment is a bit caustic, in general I'm critical, though undecided about Sarno. I tried it and it hasn't worked for me. I'm definitely aware of it, and I've read Sarno's books. Sarno insists that you might have to fully believe his theory to get the results, and it's possible I haven't succeeded in doing that, though I have 'tried on' the hypothesis. I've also tried out the "Curable" app and found that they advocate a less extreme and more plausible version of the psychosomatic pain hypothesis then Sarno.

I was planning on adding a section on investigating the possibility of your pain is psychosomatic, but I've left that out for now because I didn't feel I had a settled opinion on the subject or knew what to recommend.

Sarno says some things that I view as deeply problematic, like when he says that lifting techniques doesn't matter or when he recommends discontinuing physical therapies. His theory of unconscious rage being responsible for chronic pain is also Freudian, and Freud is quite discredited.

My leading hypothesis about why he gets the results that he does in some cases is that his treatment gets people to return to activity and helps remove the psychological contribution to pain. Some people are probably actually recovered enough that returning to his fine and even helpful. I also imagine for a lot of people (myself included) the secondary psychological reaction to the pain (such as viewing yourself as crippled and feeling helpless) is more significant than the pain itself.

What makes you think there is more scientific backing to the TMS theory than the RSI theory? It seems to be true that there is a lot that isn't understood about how chronic pain and RSI work, but TMS seems to me even more mysterious.

I like Paul Ingraham's analysis of Sarno here.

Comment by maxcarpendale on Thoughts on the welfare of farmed insects · 2019-05-29T12:31:49.860Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks, I fixed those typos.

I guess my basic reason for thinking so is because there is around six order of magnitude difference in how much meat a cow provides and how much meat a cricket provides. But if you think about which attributes provide evidence of consciousness, I don't think you'll find that cows do not have vastly more of these than do crickets and cricket consciousness seems like a reasonable hypothesis.

Comment by maxcarpendale on Thoughts on the welfare of farmed insects · 2019-05-29T12:17:50.798Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

It's true that their minds are more divergent from ours, but I think that tends to mean there is more uncertainty about what they feel stress in response to, not that they feel less environmentally induced stress. Also, as I say in the post, the uncertainty makes it harder to improve their welfare.

I probably should have paid more attention to arguments about how they could have net positive welfare to have a more balanced post. Though I have seen a real bias in favour of eating insects (at least outside the EA community), and so I still see this post as contributing to a more balanced discussion of the issue. And for the reasons I given the post I still view it is unlikely that they have net positive welfare.

Comment by maxcarpendale on Thoughts on the welfare of farmed insects · 2019-05-29T12:07:37.401Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

My impression is that experts are divided as to whether or not insects have phenomenal consciousness. Some people seem to have strong intuitions one way, and others have strong intuitions the other way. Ultimately I don't think we know enough about the subject for anyone to be too confident one way or the other, and given this uncertainty we should take precautions.

I didn't think it was worth getting into the question how likely it is that insects are conscious because it's something that I've written about extensively elsewhere (mostly in a forthcoming report). And there are other posts on the question. In hindsight maybe a paragraph on it would have been good.

Comment by maxcarpendale on Thoughts on the welfare of farmed insects · 2019-05-29T12:05:45.748Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Haha, oh, I didn't know you wrote that page :) That's good enough for the future.

Comment by maxcarpendale on Interview with Jon Mallatt about invertebrate consciousness · 2019-05-29T12:02:49.317Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Yeah, I think this is a worry for his view. I do also personally assign a somewhat higher likelihood to invertebrate consciousness than modern AI consciousness because of evolutionary relatedness, greater structural homology, and because they probably satisfy more of the criteria for consciousness that I would use.

You might be interested in my next interview on this subject which will be with someone who discusses modern AI and robotics findings in the context of invertebrate consciousness, and comes to a more sceptical conclusion based on that.

Comment by maxcarpendale on Interview with Jon Mallatt about invertebrate consciousness · 2019-05-29T11:52:59.209Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I think he may be answering the question in terms of sensory pain rather than affective pain. I was mainly interested in affective pain, I probably should have specified that in the question. In terms of sensory pain it seems to me like his answer make sense and is right because it makes sense that more nociceptors would give you a richer and more complex sensory pain. But it doesn't make sense in terms of affective pain.

I agree with Siebe that he is using 'suffering' in a nonstandard way. He seems to be using 'pain' to refer to 'acute pain" and 'suffering' to refer to 'long-lasting, non-acute pain.'

Comment by maxcarpendale on Why I'm focusing on invertebrate sentience · 2019-05-21T11:33:44.205Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Yeah, fair enough. I wish you good luck with your group and project :)

Comment by maxcarpendale on My recommendations for RSI treatment · 2019-05-10T18:01:44.447Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you!

Yes, I remember hearing in the 80K podcast about how you prefer it, and I was quite interested in that. I still find it quite frustrating to use sometimes because of crashes and software incompatibility, but I guess if you can choose when to use Dragon and when to use a keyboard, you can just stop using it when it's being problematic.

I'm a bit reserved in my recommendation of it because I worry that it might take people to long to become good enough at it. I worry that people might either recover or quit using it in frustration before they start using it at a competitive speed.

Comment by maxcarpendale on Thoughts on the welfare of farmed insects · 2019-05-09T11:12:13.303Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks! Hopefully it's not too derivative of your work. I want to look into this more in the future and hopefully be able to say some more novel and insightful things.

I mainly relied on the FAO sourcebook on edible insects which claims higher efficiency for crickets. It seems like most articles on the subject claim higher efficiency, but I haven't looked into it deeply enough to be able to determine that. I should probably have just relied on your article on that subject.

Yeah, I'm not sure about freezing. I mostly think we just don't know enough about it and the Wikipedia page seems pretty sceptical about freezing as a method of killing.

Sometimes when it's cold and I'm trying to sleep (like when I'm camping) I will manage a sort of sleep state, but one where I'm still feeling an unpleasant amount of cold. I guess I imagine that an insect's response to freezing could be like that for some portion of the time.

I guess it wouldn't make sense for the nervous system to send "avoid this" messages to the animal while the animal wasn't able to avoid the situation because it was too cold, but the nervous system can't get everything right in all circumstances.



Comment by maxcarpendale on My recommendations for RSI treatment · 2019-05-07T19:01:55.592Z · score: 12 (6 votes) · EA · GW

This might not seem like the most natural post for the EA forum, but I think it makes sense given the number of EA's I know who have some problems with repetitive strain injuries.

Comment by maxcarpendale on Why I'm focusing on invertebrate sentience · 2019-05-04T12:13:19.325Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks Jamie!

Nice article. Thanks for the link.

I don't think I agree with your claim in the article that degrees of sentience has been scientifically demonstrated. Is there a source you have in mind for that? I've been looking at the literature on the topic and it seems like the arguments that there do exist degrees of sentience are based in philosophy and none are that strong.

I guess the reason you are using sentientism rather than hedonistic utilitarianism is because you think the term sounds better/has a better framing?

Comment by maxcarpendale on Interview with Jon Mallatt about invertebrate consciousness · 2019-05-01T12:58:13.290Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Re: 1) I'm not sure. I would say that the number of people who might be considered experts on the subject of invertebrate consciousness is very low.
I can't remember reading anything by these experts about who they consider to be the leading experts on the subject.

Re: 2) I have talked to him about it yet, but may do so at some point in the future. I doubt that anyone else has.

Comment by maxcarpendale on Interview with Jon Mallatt about invertebrate consciousness · 2019-05-01T12:14:54.125Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you!

Great, I hadn't noticed that article. Reading it now

Comment by maxcarpendale on Why I'm focusing on invertebrate sentience · 2019-01-27T10:39:39.039Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I think you may be right that I should pivot more in that direction.

Research on degrees of sentience (including if that idea makes sense) and what degree of sentience different invertebrates have might still be relevant despite the argument that you're quoting.

Comment by maxcarpendale on Why I'm focusing on invertebrate sentience · 2018-12-09T22:05:46.514Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the link! I'm a pretty big fan of that book.

Comment by maxcarpendale on Why I'm focusing on invertebrate sentience · 2018-12-08T22:39:32.097Z · score: 15 (8 votes) · EA · GW

I think it's somewhat stronger than "doing work on one philosophical question is relevant to all other philosophical questions."

I guess if you were particularly sceptical about the possibility of digital sentience then you might focus on things like the Chinese room thought experiment, and that wouldn't have that much overlap with invertebrate sentience research. I'm relatively confident that digital sentience is possible so I wasn't really thinking about that when I made the claim that there is substantial overlap in all sentience research.

Some ways in which I think there is overlap are that looking at different potential cases of sentience can give us insight into which features give the best evidence of sentience. For example, many people think that mirror self-recognition is somehow important to sentience, but reflecting on the fact that you can specifically design a robot to pass something like a mirror test can give you perspective as to what aspects if any other test are actually suggestive of sentience.

Getting a better idea of what sentience is and what theories of it are most plausible is also useful for assessing sentience in any entity. One way of getting a better idea of what it is is to research cases of it that we are more confident in such as humans and to a lesser extent other vertebrates.

Comment by maxcarpendale on Five Ways to Handle Flow-Through Effects · 2017-05-25T16:33:07.962Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA · GW

Another reason it might make sense to ignore flow-through effects is when you don't know whether they would be positive or negative. If you were absolutely unsure about the flow-through effects, and figuring them out seemed impossible, then it seems right that they would balance out and that you can expect zero value from them. Insofar as this is the case, you should ignore them.