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Thread: nozick - the experiment machine

  1. #1

    Default nozick - the experiment machine

    aiya old stuff la, flogged to death in the matrix; but it came up in one of my modules (philosophy) and i am immensely bored by the people in my tutorial class.. quite sian diao, all the talk about creativity and all that happens is that people keep talking and parroting the main lecturer's ideas.. even his counterarguments and all that jazz.

    hope to find more refreshing views here, since i suppose no one would have attended the lecture.

    so here's the deal:

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State & Utopia
    There are also substantial puzzles when we ask what matters other than how people's experiences feel "from the inside". Suppose there were an experience machine that would give you any experience you desired. Superduper neuropsychologists could stimulate your brain so that you would think and feel you were writing a great novel, or making a friend, or reading an interesting book. All the time you would be floating in a tank, with electodes attached to your brain. Should you plug into this machine for life, preprogramming your life's experiences? If you are worried about missing out on desirable experiences, we can suppose that business enterprises have researched thoroughly the lives of many others. You can pick and choose from their large library or smorgasbord of such experiences, selecting your life's experiences for say, the next 2 years. After 2 years have passed, you will have ten minutes or ten hours out of the tank, to select the experiences of your next two years. Of course, while in the tank, you won't know that you're there; you'll think it's all actually happening. Others can also plug in to have the experiences they want, so there's no need to stay unplugged to serve them. Would you plug in? What else can matter to us, other than how lives feel from the inside? Nor should you refrain because of the few moments of distres between the moment you've decided and the moment you've pluged. What's a few moments of distress compared to a lifetime of bliss (if that's what you choose) and why feel any distress at all if your decision IS the best one?
    cheers

    would you plug in? can just one liner but please, if you can, express your reasons why and why not.. so that a proper discussion can get going

  2. #2

    Default Re: nozick - the experiment machine

    I don't have the privilege of the background of your readins, so my views and questions may seem even more pedantic than that of your fellow class-mates, but is this for like, ever, or just for a selected period of time and if it's selective, and we can gain from that shared 'experience, why not, apart from long-term physical or mental health problems, but I would be concerned about any possible phycosis, if there is reason to be concerned, or is this suposed to be a perfectly structured 'experiment' with no possibility of any detrimental side-effects what-so-ever, but thenagain, I suppose the main arguement would be not focused on any possible mental or physical side-effects, but on the validity and worthiness, or even the morality of such an exercise, not withstanding any arguements or discussions about the actual synaps transfers and how the entirety of an experience replicator is supposed to generate, to the nth degree, that same experience, and of course, elicit the desired responses, or results, but how 'entire' can the experience or those results be, really, or are we talking purely in rethorics?

  3. #3

    Default Re: nozick - the experiment machine

    Quote Originally Posted by Dream Merchant View Post
    I don't have the privilege of the background of your readins, so my views and questions may seem even more pedantic than that of your fellow class-mates, but is this for like, ever, or just for a selected period of time and if it's selective, and we can gain from that shared 'experience, why not, apart from long-term physical or mental health problems, but I would be concerned about any possible phycosis, if there is reason to be concerned, or is this suposed to be a perfectly structured 'experiment' with no possibility of any detrimental side-effects what-so-ever, but thenagain, I suppose the main arguement would be not focused on any possible mental or physical side-effects, but on the validity and worthiness, or even the morality of such an exercise, not withstanding any arguements or discussions about the actual synaps transfers and how the entirety of an experience replicator is supposed to generate, to the nth degree, that same experience, and of course, elicit the desired responses, or results, but how 'entire' can the experience or those results be, really, or are we talking purely in rethorics?
    bonk, didn't read the paragraph properly.. every 2 years you get 10 minutes out of the tank. of course while you're in it, you have totally no idea of what's happening to you, no memory of you selecting those memories.

    ignore any side effects, the machine is utopian, it will be reality to you, just that the difference between this and reality is of course, the fact that one is reality, and one is perceived reality.

    the main arguments being raised by the students would be that of the lecturer's, that is, that one is merely living through experiences, and not experiencing something in itself. this may be perceived as a degree of lack of freedom, and therefore it does prove something (which is the subtopic linked to death) - that pleasure is not everything. the human being wants to live through pleasure too.

    and of course those for being plugged into the matrix - the argument is that you couldn't care less when you were inside. what the brain perceives as true is reality in fact, which does have its point.. though i could think of 2 counterpoints:

    1) while you may experience entirely pleasurable memories, there is a question of whether life would be too perfect. what do i mean by this - take for example there is a man, who has lived a life where he has only been fed the best and most exotic foods, caviar, bear's paw, curry chicken, etc. he has never been told that those foods were good. what do you think he would define as "normal" and what he would define as "good"? when one receives too much of good experiences, just as one receives too much of something good, one grows numb to the level of pleasantness - and therefore the amount of pleasure derived gradually tapers off.

    i would then question whether the person living in the machine would actually be happy eventually, since when one no longer has anything bad or negative to draw a comparison to what is relatively good, then perhaps good and bad would cease to exist, thereby defeating the purpose of plugging into the machine for "pleasure".

    in short - life is never as sweet without the sour

    2) while plugged into the machine, there is a chance, no matter how slight, that life in itself, had you chose to live out of the machine might be superior to that within the machine. certainly that within the machine will be a guaranteed good, but by plugging in you forego that slight possibility of this superior life.

    by the way - most people choose not to plug in. though i suspect if the matrix was never created.. perhaps keanu reeves' struggles would not be imprinted in their mind and they would not associate "choosing artificial pleasant experiences" with negative connotations, i.e. cypher (the traitor in the matrix).
    Last edited by night86mare; 2nd November 2007 at 08:56 AM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: nozick - the experiment machine

    with or without nozick, many people still believe in eternal bliss today, and that belief drives many things to work. many real world machines survive by feeding people with the hope of utopia. instead of asking whether nozick will work, maybe ask what eternal bliss is, and when eternal bliss is achieved, what next?

  5. #5

    Default Re: nozick - the experiment machine

    In short, why not, since I can also choose to programme a balance of negative experiences in the machine, and that would heighten any 'experience' or percption, aka appreciation of the positive.

    The students' arguement that "one is living thorugh experience and not experiencing something in itself" does not hold water, because I can choose the perception of experiencing it.

    With that machine, I have the choice, I suppose, and with that choice, comes freedom.

    I'm working on the basis that the machine is perfect, and everything is possbible, even the choice of imperfection.

    What is 'reality' anyway, except what an individual chooses or can register in his or her brain.

    I mean, try convincing a market ah-soh about the advantages of a DSLR, with all it's convolutions and complications besides astronomical cost, is better than a PnS, and what endears us to DSLRs is beyond the knowledge and experience spectrum/envelope of that ah-soh, so the truth of what a DSLR can do simply does not exist to her. The only reference of it's existance is perhaps as an unimaginable and unjustifyable extravagance that her husband obsesses with and worse still, uses to take photos of almost naked char bos every weekend!
    Last edited by Dream Merchant; 2nd November 2007 at 09:38 AM.

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    Default Re: nozick - the experiment machine

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    bonk, didn't read the paragraph properly.. every 2 years you get 10 minutes out of the tank. of course while you're in it, you have totally no idea of what's happening to you, no memory of you selecting those memories.
    its same like getting married, u'll not know whats going on and before you know it, u are together for dunno how many years... and once in a while u check out, but after that you are back in the game... lol...
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    Default Re: nozick - the experiment machine

    reminds me of the movie vanilla sky... just suppose what if the system screwed up... and you keep having nightmares inside...
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    Default Re: nozick - the experiment machine

    Quote Originally Posted by Dream Merchant View Post
    In short, why not, since I can also choose to programme a balance of negative experiences in the machine, and that would heighten any 'experience' or percption, aka appreciation of the positive.

    The students' arguement that "one is living thorugh experience and not experiencing something in itself" does not hold water, because I can choose the perception of experiencing it.

    With that machine, I have the choice, I suppose, and with that choice, comes freedom.

    I'm working on the basis that the machine is perfect, and everything is possbible, even the choice of imperfection.

    What is 'reality' anyway, except what an individual chooses or can register in his or her brain.

    I mean, try convincing a market ah-soh about the advantages of a DSLR, with all it's convolutions and complications besides astronomical cost, is better than a PnS, and what endears us to DSLRs is beyond the knowledge and experience spectrum/envelope of that ah-soh, so the truth of what a DSLR can do simply does not exist to her. The only reference of it's existance is perhaps as an unimaginable and unjustifyable extravagance that her husband obsesses with and worse still, uses to take photos of almost naked char bos every weekend!
    if the machine is perfect, it should be able to tell whether the subject is an ah-soh or a hum sup photographer

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    Default Re: nozick - the experiment machine

    Quote Originally Posted by Del_CtrlnoAlt View Post
    reminds me of the movie vanilla sky... just suppose what if the system screwed up... and you keep having nightmares inside...
    you'll have 86 different nightmares to choose from ... hey, even watching a scary movie can be pleasurable you know

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    Default Re: nozick - the experiment machine

    Quote Originally Posted by eikin View Post
    you'll have 86 different nightmares to choose from ... hey, even watching a scary movie can be pleasurable you know
    imagine getting killed repeatedly... freddy & jason's ultimate funland... once in a while u look at the background, can see sadako crawling with kayako...
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    Default Re: nozick - the experiment machine

    But having no memory of the experience would be a worthless experience.. no?
    Last edited by lovells19; 2nd November 2007 at 10:11 AM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: nozick - the experiment machine

    i don't really understand what you talking, but sound like The matrix. The machine make you feel and experience what you feel in real life

  13. #13

    Default Re: nozick - the experiment machine

    apologies for the late getback.. been busy
    Quote Originally Posted by eikin View Post
    with or without nozick, many people still believe in eternal bliss today, and that belief drives many things to work. many real world machines survive by feeding people with the hope of utopia. instead of asking whether nozick will work, maybe ask what eternal bliss is, and when eternal bliss is achieved, what next?
    don't understand the second sentence - how do real world machines survive by feeding people with the hope of utopia?

    ah, but the point here is not whether the experience machine is a feasible machine, that was not my purpose in the first place. but i do get some ideas from your eternal bliss point - can eternal bliss be even feasible, in the first place, seeing how humans get bored by routine?

  14. #14

    Default Re: nozick - the experiment machine

    Quote Originally Posted by Dream Merchant View Post
    In short, why not, since I can also choose to programme a balance of negative experiences in the machine, and that would heighten any 'experience' or percption, aka appreciation of the positive.

    The students' arguement that "one is living thorugh experience and not experiencing something in itself" does not hold water, because I can choose the perception of experiencing it.

    With that machine, I have the choice, I suppose, and with that choice, comes freedom.

    I'm working on the basis that the machine is perfect, and everything is possbible, even the choice of imperfection.

    What is 'reality' anyway, except what an individual chooses or can register in his or her brain.

    I mean, try convincing a market ah-soh about the advantages of a DSLR, with all it's convolutions and complications besides astronomical cost, is better than a PnS, and what endears us to DSLRs is beyond the knowledge and experience spectrum/envelope of that ah-soh, so the truth of what a DSLR can do simply does not exist to her. The only reference of it's existance is perhaps as an unimaginable and unjustifyable extravagance that her husband obsesses with and worse still, uses to take photos of almost naked char bos every weekend!
    definitely, i mean life is what you perceive of it, is it not. the trouble is whether experiencing something in reality is all that different from a wholly immersed experience within a machine, i.e. you are not really experiencing it, but perceiving that you are experiencing it

    this experiment was actually used by my lecturer to argue against epicurus' argument that all good and evil lies in sensation (and more that leads to the conclusion that death is nothing to us).. since in some sense the results (generally pointing to the fact that people prefer NOT to enter the machine, for whatever reasons, could be some innate desire to appear less superficial than they actually are) prove that there IS a difference to us, by means of this idea being rejected.

    your dslr example was brought up in a less photographic way, by another guy called nagel.. there are similarities, though subtle. if you are being despised, being betrayed, being deceived by people close to you.. but you have no idea of it, i.e. blissfully ignorant.. is it bad for you?

  15. #15

    Default Re: nozick - the experiment machine

    Quote Originally Posted by Del_CtrlnoAlt View Post
    its same like getting married, u'll not know whats going on and before you know it, u are together for dunno how many years... and once in a while u check out, but after that you are back in the game... lol...
    Quote Originally Posted by Del_CtrlnoAlt View Post
    reminds me of the movie vanilla sky... just suppose what if the system screwed up... and you keep having nightmares inside...
    Quote Originally Posted by eikin View Post
    if the machine is perfect, it should be able to tell whether the subject is an ah-soh or a hum sup photographer :
    Quote Originally Posted by eikin View Post
    you'll have 86 different nightmares to choose from ... hey, even watching a scary movie can be pleasurable you know
    Quote Originally Posted by Del_CtrlnoAlt View Post
    imagine getting killed repeatedly... freddy & jason's ultimate funland... once in a while u look at the background, can see sadako crawling with kayako...
    you guys crack me up.

    vanilla sky, that's where the quote "life is never as sweet without the sour" came from.. and probably the only thing i brought away from the movie, as bad as it was in my view.




  16. #16

    Default Re: nozick - the experiment machine

    Quote Originally Posted by lovells19 View Post
    But having no memory of the experience would be a worthless experience.. no?
    oh, you will have memories of it
    but those memories are in a sense, superficial, since they are perfect, albeit computer-generated memories.. or rather.. memories as a result of a perfectly generated experience.
    Quote Originally Posted by bahibo View Post
    i don't really understand what you talking, but sound like The matrix. The machine make you feel and experience what you feel in real life
    yes, indeed, this is the matrix conundrum, the red pill or the blue pill

    in the show our dear neo was obviously bored with life, he wasn't having such a good time hence that is why he was so eager to escape and of course there was a glitch in the matrix..

    but anyways the idea stems from this very experience machine philosophical discussion.. nozick isn't actually the first to think of it, but probably the first to state it out explicitly, if i'm not wrong

  17. #17

    Default Re: nozick - the experiment machine

    I'm trying to plow through everything, but the late hour is making everything soar over my head.

    I personally would not choose to go into the matrix, as if all my actions/experiences are predetermined, is there anymore fun to life?

    Regarding the "pleasure" or "pain" issue, I agree that the good must be defined by the bad.

    If there is no unhappiness, there is no ruler to measure pleasure, and we might end up like one of the kings in the tales of old, pampered beyond all measure, but desperately bored and unhappy, as he has never known anything worse, nor will know anything better.

    Just my weird ramblings here, feel free to ignore them
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    Default Re: nozick - the experiment machine

    ic.. then it would be interesting.

    some things in life we will never have the time or money to do it.. but having experienced it in the lab will allow one to experience things he might never get to in his whole life time.

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    Default Re: nozick - the experiment machine

    Quote Originally Posted by lovells19 View Post
    ic.. then it would be interesting.

    some things in life we will never have the time or money to do it.. but having experienced it in the lab will allow one to experience things he might never get to in his whole life time.
    interesting view. the existence of the machine creating wants that would otherwise never have arised, very powerful attraction. the person who plugged in will experience the impossible, but what happens to his life?

  20. #20

    Default Re: nozick - the experiment machine

    The thing about discussion like these is that it can get very convoluated, and the original train of thought lost, at least for my feeble mind.

    To re-cap:

    It's a perfect machine.

    It won't kill or harm me.

    The perception of 'experience' is what I choose, perfect or imperfect.

    I get to come out whenever I want, and still retain memories of those experiences.

    Oh man, what is there to think about?

    IMAGINE the possibilities, selfish, or for the good on humanity!

    Of course, it doesn't hurt to re-live the experience of eating a super shiok mee-pok tar over and over without ever having to cost an actual cent!

    But seriously, a lot depends because choice can be made, and changed.

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