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Magnus Vinding
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New Book: 'You Are Them'
What follows if we reject belief in any kind of non-physical soul and instead fully embrace what we know about the world? The main implication, this book argues, is a naturalization of personal identity and ethics. A radically different way of thinking abou...

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Reasons to Focus on Values as Our Main Cause
Given decent clarity about our fundamental values , the all-important question becomes: what causes and interventions optimize those values? In this post I shall present some of the reasons in favor of focusing directly on fundamental values in these regard...

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Fundamental Values and the Relevance of Uncertainty
As argued in a previous essay , reflection on fundamental values seems to stand among the most important things we could be doing. This is really quite obvious: working effectively toward a goal requires knowing what that goal is in the first place. And yet...

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Induction Is All We Got
In this piece I shall defend what may appear an unusual thesis, namely that all reasoning is ultimately based on induction, and hence that induction is the only way in which we ever know anything. By induction, I here mean what seems right in light of the d...

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The Tree of Ought — A (Cause) Prioritization Framework
Imagine a couple that tries to make a decision about how to set the table at their wedding. They spend all their time trying to work out this difficult decision, making lists and drawings, and asking Google and friends for advice. Yet underneath their effor...

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Cause Prioritization
"Cause prioritization is the most effective use of altruistic resources." — Paul Christiano People who want to improve the world are, like everybody else, extremely biased. A prime example is that we tend to work on whatever cause we have stumbled upon so f...

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The Unpredictability of the Future of “Intelligence”
The following short piece is the penultimate chapter of my recently published book Reflections on Intelligence . “ Much to learn you still have.” — Yoda A crucial skill for complex goal achieving of any kind is the ability to model and predict the future. T...

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New Book: "Reflections on Intelligence"
A lot of people are talking about “superintelligent AI” these days. But what are they talking about? Indeed, what is “intelligence” in the first place? I think this is a timely question, as it is generally left unanswered, even unasked, in discussions about...

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"It is one thing whether one does a specific task in a rational manner, but it is quite another whether it is rational to do that task in the first place. We seem to be fairly familiar with the former kind of rationality — for instance, how we can optimize our actions toward a given goal, and best accomplish a given task — yet which specific tasks and goals that are reasonable to pursue in the first place seems a comparatively rare question for us to ponder. Being rational in this latter sense can be considered a form of meta rationality, as it is to be rational about which problems and pursuits we should spend our faculties of rationality on in the first place. And such rationality is indeed the pinnacle of rationality, and not least indispensable for our being rational ultimately, because if we spend our efforts to rationally pursue ultimately worthless goals — say, brilliantly accomplishing a task that leads to nothing but needless misery in the end — what does that make these efforts of “rationality” other than ultimately irrational?

To call this effort of examining which specific goals we should pursue in the first place for meta rationality is, of course, merely to give ethics a new name, yet it is a name that — unlike the term ’ethics’ — highlights the unrecognized hyper-rationality of ethics. Because, again, what is a rational action if the goal it “rationally” pursues is ultimately irrational? In order to make sure that any action we make toward any goal indeed is rational, we must make sure that the goal itself is rational; we must think in terms of ethics. Therefore, while widely unacknowledged, ethics, or meta rationality, is in fact the ultimate arbiter of rationality. Rationality without ethical foundations is blind and ultimately not rational at all."

From my book 'Moral Truths'
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/489831

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