Book III

The Machine in the Ghost

Why haven’t we evolved to be more rational? Even taking into account resource constraints, it seems like we could be getting a lot more epistemic bang for our evidential buck. To get a realistic picture of how and why our minds execute their biological functions, we need to crack open the hood and see how evolution works, and how our brains work, with more precision. These three sequences illustrate how even philosophers and scientists can be led astray when they rely on intuitive, non-technical evolutionary or psychological accounts. By locating our minds within a larger space of goal-directed systems, we can identify some of the peculiarities of human reasoning and appreciate how such systems can “lose their purpose.”

Minds: An Introduction

Interlude: The Power of Intelligence

The Simple Math of Evolution

  1. An Alien God
  2. The Wonder of Evolution
  3. Evolutions Are Stupid (But Work Anyway)
  4. No Evolutions for Corporations or Nanodevices
  5. Evolving to Extinction
  6. The Tragedy of Group Selectionism
  7. Fake Optimization Criteria
  8. Adaptation-Executers, Not Fitness-Maximizers
  9. Evolutionary Psychology
  10. An Especially Elegant Evolutionary Psychology Experiment
  11. Superstimuli and the Collapse of Western Civilization
  12. Thou Art Godshatter

Fragile Purposes

  1. Belief in Intelligence
  2. Humans in Funny Suits
  3. Optimization and the Intelligence Explosion
  4. Ghosts in the Machine
  5. Artificial Addition
  6. Terminal Values and Instrumental Values
  7. Leaky Generalizations
  8. The Hidden Complexity of Wishes
  9. Anthropomorphic Optimism
  10. Lost Purposes

A Human’s Guide to Words

  1. The Parable of the Dagger
  2. The Parable of Hemlock
  3. Words as Hidden Inferences
  4. Extensions and Intensions
  5. Similarity Clusters
  6. Typicality and Asymmetrical Similarity
  7. The Cluster Structure of Thingspace
  8. Disguised Queries
  9. Neural Categories
  10. How An Algorithm Feels From Inside
  11. Disputing Definitions
  12. Feel the Meaning
  13. The Argument from Common Usage
  14. Empty Labels
  15. Taboo Your Words
  16. Replace the Symbol with the Substance
  17. Fallacies of Compression
  18. Categorizing Has Consequences
  19. Sneaking in Connotations
  20. Arguing “By Definition”
  21. Where to Draw the Boundary?
  22. Entropy, and Short Codes
  23. Mutual Information, and Density in Thingspace
  24. Superexponential Conceptspace, and Simple Words
  25. Conditional Independence, and Naive Bayes
  26. Words as Mental Paintbrush Handles
  27. Variable Question Fallacies
  28. 37 Ways That Words Can Be Wrong

Interlude: An Intuitive Explanation of Bayes’s Theorem

The Ritual


Minds: An Introduction