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Discussion about Animal Rights and Popper

This discussion is from the Fallible Ideas Discord. Join link.

Context: Discussion Tree: State of Animal Rights Debate and in the comments you'll see that I went to some animal rights forums and asked for responses. And, after they had no literature to refer me to, I got banned from the Ask Yourself vegan debate Discord for not responding fast enough while troubleshooting an audio issue.

TheRat: curi, re the vegan thing. How could science demonstrate that animals can suffer (interpret pain as bad etc...) or how could we falsify that animals are not robots? Would this not require us to understand consciousness first? Would this not be in the realm of philosophy vs science? btw I think you're right but I don't know what would change my mind.
curi: knowledge creating animals. humans routinely do things we can't explain as non-AGI algorithms. let's see an animal do one. it's clearer if you get several different sorts of things, e.g. poetry, engineering, art, chess.
curi: you have to be careful about what counts cuz e.g. beavers do something that could be called engineering. but only a specific type that is encoded in their genes, they don't do it more generally.
curi: i'm not aware of any animal researcher with a halfway sophisticated understanding of what non-AGI software can do who has carefully observed and documented animals to try to show they do anything intelligent.
curi: i am aware of ppl observing carefully and noticing animals being much more algorithmic (or simpler algos) than ppl would naively, unscientifically expect: http://curi.us/272-algorithmic-animal-behavior
curi: i think the reason ppl don't care about this is they assume intelligence is a matter of degree and/or suffering is possible without intelligence
curi: so they consider it an uncontroversial non-issue that e.g. a dolphin is somewhere between 0.1% and 70% as intelligence as a human
curi: rather than understanding there at least might be a jump to universality for intelligence and so you can't just safely assume stuff has medium intelligence anymore than a computer can have a medium computational repertoire
curi: the jump to universality is what polarizes the issue into a binary intelligent or non-intelligent. but ppl don't know about it. so they aren't even trying to show a single thing that any animal has ever done which is incompatible with non-intelligence.
curi: so they haven't.
curi: alternatively they could argue for dualism, animal souls, non-intelligent suffering and differentiate that from information processing and computation, or several other things.
curi: i haven't seen anything that understands software stuff which tries to differentiate suffering from information processing in general without intelligence.
TheRat: Is it possible for animals to suffer without having that universality?
curi: there are no arguments to establish some way that would be possible afaik. i think suffering is related to preference, opinions, values, judgments. i think you have to want, prefer or value X, and be able to form judgments about better and worse, in order to suffer. something along those lines.
curi: if you never consider alternatives, like a rooma algorithm doesn't, then how can you be bothered by the outcome?
TheRat: I've read about Dolphins in captivity that seem to "go insane" and commit suicide. What do you think is going on there?
curi: chess algorithms consider alternative moves in some sense but it's mechanistic, it isn't a value judgment, they just do math about each outcome on the board and play the move that leads to the highest evaluation (or sometimes use a random algorithm among the top few moves to avoid predictability).
curi: re dolphins: sounds like algorithm bugs. animals have plenty of those. it's probably an evolutionary useful thing in some scenarios, like a failsafe where it tries to stop repeating the same actions that aren't working.

Only after thirty or forty repetitions will the wasp finally drag the caterpillar into its nest without further inspection.

curi: even digger wasps have failsafes where they change behavior after 30-40 repetitions.
curi: (whether an action works being defined in some algorithmic way, not as a value judgment or opinion, and in particular not as something where the creature can create new knowledge and new opinions that aren't in its genes)
curi: my position on animals is awkward to use in debates because it's over 80% background knowledge rather than topical stuff.
curi: that's part of why i wanted to question their position and ask for literature that i could respond to and criticize, rather than focusing on trying to lay out my position which would require e.g. explaining KP and DD which is hard and indirect.
curi: if they'll admit they have no literature which addresses even basic non-CR issues about computer stuff, i'd at that point be more interested in trying to explain CR to them.
TheRat: Yes. I've had that issue when trying to debate people. I'll say something and it flies right past them because they don't have cr background. Most of the time not realizing there is a disagreement there.
curi: it's worse for me in general b/c it's CR and Objectivism and Austrian econ/classical liberalism as major background knowledge ppl don't have. and sometimes other stuff but especially those 3.
curi: i should perhaps add my own additions to CR, especially debating methodology stuff, as an additional thing.
curi: they are within the CR tradition so could go either way on separating. i don't like to separate DD from CR.
curi: programming is another big background knowledge which is relevant in this case but doesn't come up tooooo often.
TheRat: Yes I have no programming knowledge at all so I struggle with the computation stuff from CR and DD.
curi: i don't think it's realistic to have serious opinions about animal rights without knowing how to code, knowing how various video game "AI" algorithms work, stuff like that. also some physics knowledge is important like about what information is and some conception of how computation aka information processing is part of reality.
curi: i don't even know good sources for that physics stuff. i kinda got bits here and there over time from DD. his information flow in the multiverse paper is both technical and largely off topic or unnecessary cuz of the multiverse focus.

i don't think it's realistic to have serious opinions about animal rights without knowing how to code

That sucks. Everytime I have attempted to learn how to code I give up after 1 day. I get bored.
curi: you can't really compare animals to robots if you don't know how robots work. harsh but i don't know a good workaround.
curi: i don't even know where to find one animal rights writer who knows how to code and tries to analyze that stuff.
curi: i don't think most animal rights advocates know of one either...
curi: i imagine i would have gotten replies by now somewhere if ppl actually had answers.
curi: ppl like answering reasonable-seeming opponents who ask for a particular thing and they totally have that covered.
curi: it's like if you go to a Popperian forum and ask if anyone knows any Popper chapters that refute induction, ppl will be happy to answer.
curi: or if you ask for anyone other than Popper with good anti-induction args, someone will want to recommend DD.
curi: but if no one knows any answers then you may be ignored.
curi: like if you go to a Popper forum and ask for his arguments against capitalism and why he rejected Mises, you may not get an answer b/c no1 has an easy or good answer to give. the answer, afaik, is Popper was wrong and actually irrational about that.
curi: if you don't bring up Mises they may point you to some non-technical kinda vague comments here and there that he made, but if you do bring up Mises' treatises Popper certainly made no attempt to answer those and nevertheless formed opinions in contradiction to them, so that's awkward, so it'll be hard to get ppl to engage with that issue.
curi: someone might try claiming that maybe Popper didn't know about Mises or didn't have time to read every possibly-dumb idea and it wasn't his speciality. but that kind of thing is dangerous and in this case will actually get you rekt by documented facts about Popper's awareness of Mises and exposure to ideas of that nature.
curi: so safer not to respond.
TheRat: Popper was friends with Hayek right? Did he disagree with Hayek too? I am very unfamiliar with Popper's political views. What I've read in OSE is actually more epistemology than poli sci or econ.
curi: yes he disagreed with Hayek significantly re capitalism/econ stuff. But hayek was also somewhat of a statist and socialist sympathizer, whereas Mises wasn't.
curi: Hayek was the leader of the Mount Pelerin society meetings which Mises and Popper both went to.
curi: there's a comment in a book by a popper student about Popper disliking and dismissing libertarian-type arguments like Mises, but it doesn't give arguments, nor did Popper. but he wasn't just unaware.
curi: his irrationality on these issues was enough to contradict himself, IMO quite blatantly. advocated freedom ... and TV censorship. advocated freedom and peace ... and the government forcibly taking 51% of all public companies.
curi: he says milder stuff in that direction in OSE. haven't read for ages but he talks about social technology by which he means something along the lines of governments improving at figuring out how to be effective at their policy goals. which sure aren't freedom.
curi: he's of course right that governments do tons of counterproductive and inefficient actions, and that's a big problem, and there's tons of room for improvement there. but he was also making some statist assumptions.

Elliot Temple on November 18, 2019


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