David Pearce asked me ages ago to make accesible videos about transhumanism, consciousness and the abolitionist project. Well, here is a start
In this video I outline the core philosophy and objectives of Qualia Computing. There are three main goals here:
- Catalogue the entire state-space of consciousness
- Identify the computational properties of each experience (and its qualia components), and
- Reverse engineer valence (i.e. to discover the function that maps formal descriptions of states of consciousness to values in the pleasure-pain axis)
While describing the 1st objective I explain that we start by realizing that consciousness is doing something useful (or evolution would not have been able to recruit it for information-processing purposes). I also go on to explain the difference between qualia varieties (e.g. phenomenal color, smell, touch, thought, etc.) and qualia values (i.e. the specific points in the state-spaces defined by the varieties, such as “pure phenomenal blue” or the smell of cardamom).
With regards to the 2nd objective, I explain that our minds actually use the specific properties of each qualia variety in order to represent information states and then to solve computational problems. We are only getting started in this project.
And 3rd, I argue that discovering exactly what makes an experience “worth living” in a formal and mathematical way is indeed ethically urgent. With a fundamental understanding of valence we can develop precise interventions to reduce (even prevent altogether) any form of suffering without messing up with our capacity to think and explore the state-space of consciousness (at least the valuable part of it).
I conclude by pointing out that the 1st and 2nd research programs actually interact in non-trivial ways: There is a synergy between them which may lead us to a recursively self-improving intelligence (and do so in a far “safer” way than trying to build an AGI through digital software).