Archive for February, 2016

Intelligent design

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

I saw a post on facebook’s evolution vs. ID group the other day that asserted that intelligent design is creationism. I think that this is a hugely narrow view of the world. I am a proponent of intelligent design as a likely hypothesis (In fact, I think both evolution and ID are likely, because a intelligent designer will use evolutionary algorithms when they make sense) but I am not a creationist in the traditional sense. My personal hypothesis, discussed elsewhere in this blog, is that we do a fair amount of editing of our own DNA across the millennia. However, even if that is not the case, I can think of many ways that intelligent design might be true without there being a single word of truth in the bible.

One possible way is the endpoint-bound design process – i.e. we’re inside a quantum computer which has been asked to find a path between zero and a particular life form. Ancestor simulation, I think this is called. One can actually think of a lot of ways that you can have intelligent designers without talking about traditional creationism. There’s the oldie-but-a-goodie of us being the product of alien genetic engineers. There’s the classic of us being inside a time-based mobeus loop, and we’re genetically engineered by our future selves.

I really think science should be approaching this with a wide open mind – and increasingly I suspect they are. One of the things that I really like are scientists that don’t hypothesize until *after* they have the data – just go out and take some measurements and see what you can find out. It does not strike me as that likely, given that there are a number of competing religions, that we’re going to find a correct and honest origin story in a religion.

For that matter, I’ve talked about a number of times how your intelligent deity would almost certainly be working with us inside a virtualization container, which increases the unknowability factor by quite a bit. Of course, a intelligent deity would also know that *they* might be in a virtualization container, which means that no deity could honestly say, with any certainty, that they were omnipotent and omniscient. That’s a subject I’ve already harped on enough in this journal, I think.

Anyway, my point is, it’s a lot of a leap to assume that just because someone thinks intelligent design is a reasonable explanation for our existence, they’re a creationist. Especially that they’re attached to any mainstream religion.

I will now take off my tinfoil hat.

Inevitable neurological war

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

This article is almost entirely conjecture. We sadly are not yet at a point where we can actually say exactly what is going on inside the human mind. Hopefully soon.

That said..

The way that we’re raised, and the society that we’re in, leads to a inevitable neurological war.

It’s built into us for physical touch to feel good. Depending on whether you’re wearing your evolution hat or your ID hat, this can either be the inevitable result of us needing to get very close to each other to reproduce or a design goal. (I have to say, building in things that feel good would certainly be a design goal if *I* was the designer)

On the other hand, it’s memetically built up – as far as I can tell, for very stupid and destructive reasons – for us to think that it’s wrong to be in love with more than one person, that it’s wrong to want to be involved in sexual contact below a certain age – in fact, I see some of my facebook friends encouraging the idea that trying to frighten the lovers of your female child is “protecting” her and a desirable thing to do. (In fact, teaching her about consent would seem to be a much healthier type of protection, but I digress).

Our mainstream religion – despite it not ever being clearly spelled out in the bible in the negative (the bible says that sexual love within a marriage is good, but does not actually state that sexual love outside a marriage is bad – that’s something we decided to tack on later) – teaches that if you ‘go too far’ before marriage, you’re a bad person – that sexual contact, despite feeling good, is a sin. It also teaches the idea that your lover is your property, that if someone else wants to experience sexual contact with them, they are breaking one of the “ten commandments” – even *thinking* about it is a crime against God.

Now, we all know what I think of Christianity. But another question is what do I think about what all this does to our minds? Well, by definition, it creates two sets of subnets that are always going to be in opposition. It’s wired in – on a deeper level than even any religion will ever be able to reach – that touch feels good, that petting and loving is *right*. It’s something that I personally find myself drawn to as a experience I want to have again and again. It’s what I want to dream about.

In the meantime, our parents try very hard to keep us from sexual contact – or even, in my case, nonsexual/cuddling contact that’s too prolonged. They program into us a subnet that says “this is sin, this is bad, this is wrong”. The idea that your virginity is something precious that you should give to your first and only lover also underlines this. This creates a subnet that says sex is bad, dirty, should be looked at with shame and guilt, isn’t something you should want, except in the situation of marriage – and probably not even then, if one reads the writings of the Victorians.

What happens when you have two subnets at war with each other? Well, first of all, you end up feeling the tension between them. Second of all, they eat capacity. Each one tries to claim a certain percentage of the neural Go board, and each tries to defeat the other.

So, I think some of this is jealousy.. our parents get attached to us, and don’t want to lose us to our lovers. Some of this is a amplifying effect of stupidity across the generations – one generation made something up, and then lied about it being the word of God. (If it was really the word of God, God would still be around and saying it. Probably in person. Certainly in some way that left no doubt to the fact that we were hearing from a deity). Some percentage of each successive generation after that was duped into believing they were hearing holy wisdom when in fact they were hearing damaging bull.

I don’t think that it’s immoral to love and be loved. Nor to express that love sexually if you’ve a mind to. I think that thinking of sex as shameful and wrong is a sign of a deeply broken set of memes. I think that people who think we should slut-shame are deeply confused about a whole lot of things, and are far more immoral than the sluts they would shame. I think it is a sign of how broken our culture is that we think that people who participate in a act that generally feels good and improves the attitude and mental health of both participants are immoral, while the people who seek to hurt those people for choosing to participate in something that feels good are given radio shows.

I also think that in general wars between subnets – beliefs that are diametrically opposed to observable reality tend to build these – are something we should try to remove from the meme pool, especially when it comes to things we pass on to our children. We are trimming their wings because our grandparents were afraid to fly.

Different utopias

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

So, one of the problems that I think we’re going to keep bumping up against here on Earth, at least in the USA where we ostensibly have a democratically elected set of people driving the boat, is that we all have different definitions of what winning means.

Like, I’d love to live in a world where we have sex with our friends, where automation does any job a human doesn’t care to, where we all try very hard to be excellent to each other. A world where no one conceives without having chosen to, where children are raised by all of us under the precept of being excellent to each other. Where education and mental health are based on a solid understanding of what’s happening on the iron of our minds – understanding based on science, on taking measurements and learning what’s really happening, rather than based on narrative and our storyteller nature, which clearly often is quite capable of diverging completely from what’s actually happening on the iron.

I’d love to live in a world where the video games are immersive, and so are the movies and the books – where we build each other up, where we help each other experience the things we want to experience.

I’d love to live in a world where no one was designated ‘less than’, where we have finally noticed the curve for history (blacks, gays, etc) and just started accepting that everyone is worthwhile and everyone matters.

I recognize that people should still have the option of suffering – that Hell still needs to exist, because that’s what some people are going to choose to experience. But I want to live in a world where no one is forced to suffer, either via their biology or via the actions of the group as a whole or mean-spirited individuals.

I for some reason doubt if my utopia is the same as the Christian one. If everyone who’s not religion X is going to be tortured for all eternity, I want out – not just that I want heaven, I want out of the system. I want a different deity. And I do not think I’m alone in this.

However, because my utopia and the utopia of, say, the religious right do not align, the goals we think are important to persue and the way we want to spend the resources in the public pool are going to be radically different. Putting both my people and their people in a box and trying to come to some agreement politically about what we should be doing is likely to be problematic. And I don’t think they should be denied their utopia, except where to do so would infringe on my rights to be free and loved and happy and complete.

I wonder how many different views of what a utopic experience might look like there are? I also wonder why some people need other people to be hurt as part of their utopia. I’m starting to think that might be one of the attributes commonly found in what we somewhat tropishly refer to as evil.

I do wonder what’s happening inside my neural net vs what’s happening inside the neural nets of those who fit in the mold I just described. There’s got to be something fundamentally different going on, and I don’t know what to make of it.


Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Who didn’t know this was coming?

This is fixable. There are a number of steps we need to take, however.

1) The bible is not the word of God, and ‘be fruitful and multiply’ is also known as a fork bomb. Encourage people to not have children, encourage them to use birth control, encourage them to recognize the planet has a maximum carrying capacity and we are above it.

2) Take all the money away from the army, and use it to fix what’s about to come unglued. Otherwise, we can all use our armies to fight over the last drop of water, and we can all die together. Please tell me we’re not this stupid?

3) Stop being so afraid of nuclear power. Look at the number of people killed per kwh for coal, and then tell me how dangerous nukes are? The fastest desal we can throw together is cogeneration with nuclear. We can build nuclear plants that don’t melt down when they lose cooling – there’s a very long list of very promising technologies for this. Let go of the paranoia fuel and do what makes sense.

4) In areas where it’s a option, solar desalinization. It’s *insane* that SoCal doesn’t have many many megawatts of solar desal up and running.

5) Start selling synthetic meat as a option in all restaurants. ‘Natural’ meat takes many, many more resources to create, and frankly I like the synthetic stuff just as much.

6) Start planting forests, and stop cutting them down. Forests are a important part of the water cycle – they emit moisture over a very large area, helping to build the clouds that produce freshwater rain.

7) Only bottle water in places where it’s naturally plentiful

8) Ban fracking outright. In fact, ban *anything* that removes fresh water from the cycle.

9) Bump the priority on the singularity. A trillion-neuron mind might be able to see things that we, as hundred-billion-neuron-minds, can’t.

10) Learn more about moving water around. My intuition says pumping water from the middle of the country to the coasts is a bad idea – we should be pumping it the other direction until we’ve returned the system to it’s previous balance. The issue is when people in Orange County, CA water their lawns, the resulting moisture ends up blowing out to sea.

Yes, Earth is a fairly stable system that’s hard to break. But it’s not *impossible* to break, and we’d really like to run it so well that life is idyllic for most of the people here. We can learn to do this.

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

So, for the most part, I write this blog for myself. There are times when I hope other people will read it and respond to the ideas within it, and lately I have seen a number of the ideas that I espouse elsewhere, which I find encouraging but doesn’t necessarily mean anyone is reading and reacting to it since after all good ideas should appear spontaneously in a number of places – when it’s time to railroad, you railroad – but mostly it’s for me to look back over my thoughts and ideas.

There are times, though, when I’m a bit sad that millions of people will read books by the major pundits, but my blog is likely to never cause much in the way of server load. This month, so far, if you remove search engines, 115 megabytes of text have been pulled from my blog. That is not a lot. 70-something people have read the ‘head’ of it (I can tell because of the image I posted when I was banned by facebook), which is also not a lot. On the other paw, I guess it does mean I am free to express myself without ever worrying about whether someone is going to misinterpret what I say or it’s going to have some negative unintended consequence on the world.

While I would like it if millions of people wanted to listen to my music – especially if they wanted to pay me for the privilege – I’m not at all convinced that I want to be a political pundit.

Abortion, summarized

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

So, I wanted to get this down in summary form so I can post links to it on facebook rather than writing it out over and over.

One of the things that makes the least sense to me is that Christians, who claim to believe that God is all-knowing and all-powerful, are anti-abortion. Surely a all-powerful and all-knowing entity can arrange to only have souls connected to the bodies that are actually going to be extant? Being anti-abortion is the same as professing a profound lack of faith in God’s abilities.

Now, I have a different perspective. My first observation is that you aren’t dealing with a self-aware life form until certain things happen in the mind of the fetus. These can’t possibly happen until at a minimum the neural network develops whatever the minimum number of connections for self-awareness is. We don’t know what that is, but we can safely say based on the fact that we have no problem killing cows that if the fetus has less neurons than a cow, it’s not a person by our definitions.

It also seems likely that self-awareness and free will are something you ‘catch’ from other people. In the 1950s, a attempt to make a more efficient orphanage resulted in a number of children not getting held, talked to, cuddled, etc. The result was that most of them died. Neural networks are event-driven, and it seems likely that it takes a certain number of incoming events to make a person a person, because absent events, there is nothing to drive the connecting-the-neural-dots process that turns us from a collection of cells into a individual.

In any case, the same people who are pro-life are often the people pushing for laws and rules and social norms that will make that life as miserable as possible. They certainly aren’t volunteering to take care of the children in question. I don’t think it’s actually a defensible position from a religious standpoint, unless your religion is built on the idea of a incompetent God.

Teachability and the Milgram experiment

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

TL;DR=The milgram effect may arise from the fact that most subnets in a NNN can’t tell the original source of authorative-tagged information

Warning: I haven’t organized my thoughts around any of this at all, and I have a affection-starved cat interrupting me for more pets every few minutes, so this is likely to be one of my less coherent posts


So, I just finished watching a movie about the Milgram experiments. The first thing that occurred to me is that the reactions people had to the experiment make it very clear that they were not in unified agreement about continuing to push the button – in fact, all sorts of subnets were asserting that they should stop. It does occur to me that in general natural neural networks must have some willingness to trust authority (at least properly authenticated internal authority) or the results would be utter chaos. And in addition, at times it’s a good idea to trust external authority, at least insofar as avoiding the lion that the sign is warning you about. However, clearly you shouldn’t trust *anyone* who claims to be a authority, or you’ll end up supporting the Trumps and Hitlers of the world as they do truly abysmal things – it is clear that people are willing to abuse our susceptibility to instructions from authority to have us do all sorts of things that shouldn’t be done.


On the other hand, neural networks need to be willing to accept data from outside if we are to ever be able to go beyond what one person can discover in a lifetime – the susceptibility to authority is likely a part of the same process which makes us able to learn from the mistakes of others. So how does one retain that functionality while still telling the government “Hell, No, I won’t go” when they are asking you to bomb Vietnam over some insane war over ideology of resource allocation? I’m not exactly sure.


I do have a hunch that being aware of the Milgram experiments make one less likely to be susceptible to that sort of influence. So it is possible to build a informational immune system of a sort. We likely also end up building informational immune systems that protect us from our own worst ideas – well, those of us who don’t end up being Jeffry Dahmer.


Now, this gets into a common digression for me. It’s obvious to me that I have a fundamentally different view of what ‘good’ is than many people. In some cases, I can get inside their heads even though I don’t agree with them, and in other cases, I feel much like there are aliens roaming among us. Like, I can understand the right wing fear that we can’t afford to feed and house and clothe everyone, or that if we did so we would damage their self reliance and the further evolution of our species, and even the mindset that it’s not fair that someone would be allowed to stay home and smoke weed (or whatever). I don’t agree with any of these views, but I can understand their genesis. However, at some point along the ideological spectrum, I stop being able to even track why someone would feel that their definition of good was good. I can’t get inside the mind of the person who thinks we should stone gay people, or the guy advocating for legalizing rape (yes, there really is). In general, I can’t get into the heads of the well poisoners who have to drink from the same well.


This is a real phenomenon. I see it over and over.  Now, in general, I think people should stop well-poisoning even when it doesn’t affect them, and I think it’s awful that people do it – more on this later, especially on the subject of sex and well-poisoning – but the ones who I really can not understand are the ones who want to poison the well they drink from. If you are advocating violence against minorities, that’s what you’re doing, because sooner or later, you’re going to be that minority. If you are advocating violence in general, that goes double. Every time I see riots over police shootings and they are not carefully and well targeted against the police, but rather are against the communities who were already hurt by the police shooting, I wonder – and I’m sorry, but it’s the truth – what is wrong with these people?


Now I have, over and over, seen that anger leads to bad and irrational decisions. In general, the people I know who get angry when they have computer problems can never, ever solve them – and sooner or later they lose me as a resource in that because I don’t like to be around irrationally angry people. And I assume that the rioters are suffering from irrational anger but I can’t help but wonder, to bring this back to it’s original topic, are they also suffering from a bit of the milgram effect? Do emotions like anger and fear make us more susceptible to being Milgramed? Or do a much wider range of emotions make us more susceptible?


Back to the subject of NNNs, I am really wondering, for most subnets in our mind, can they even tell the difference from inside signal and outside signal? How equipped are they to evaluate the validity of a order and the source of said order? I also wonder, for all the people who clearly wanted to stop increasing the voltage but did not, how difficult was the inner struggle between the parts of them that wanted to do the inately right thing and the parts of them that wanted to do what has been externally programmed to be the right thing? There’s no doubt that we’re externally programmed to respond to authority with obedience – in America, it’s a pretty common theme that if you don’t, the cop whips out his gun and shoots you, and is told, at least privately, good job officer. There are all sorts of authorities wielding power over us, everything from bad grades to unemployment and starvation and having nowhere to live to being physically abused – and we do live in a system that has pretty well built a way of programming us to be obedient. And yet, I think there are parts of us that refuse to participate in the horror show that we’re asked to engage in – soldiers often come back from blowing up other people at government command with severe psychological damage, for example, that suggests that the minds of many of us are not really geared for the idea of being awful. And clearly, most of the people participating in the Milgram experiment resisted to one degree or another – very few joyfully and willingly cranked the voltage up to 450. They just didn’t resist *enough*.


Now, I keep advocating that psychology needs to throw away the storytelling and study what’s happening on the iron – and part of this is that psychology is often obsessed with the idea that we are single coherent individuals when science suggests that while we have the experience of being single, coherent individuals, we’re actually many, many collections of subnets. For those of you who haven’t read about them, the experiments with cutting the corpus collossum strongly suggest we’re the aggregate result of many, many subnets. At least on this track and in this world – I have had experiences which I can’t easily explain but which suggest that we’re not always at the whims of our hardware in quite the same way.



“keeping score” money and inflation

Friday, February 12th, 2016

So, one of the discussions I had recently centered around the insanity that we have inflation.

A common myth that floats around is that any time the government increases the money supply, we should have inflation. This bit of insanity is carefully ignoring that money is a pointer that points to resources, and we have more of those every year. We certainly have more man-hours to get things done as the population rises, and we develop more intellectual property (a major thing we spend money on) every year – and every time we learn to do things more efficiently, it’s as if we had more nonrenewable resources – for example switching large portions of our grid to wind, or even just building more efficient coal plants, makes us effectively have more resources.

So, the only way you should see inflation is if the amount of money printed is larger than the gain in resources for the year.

In addition, the only money that means anything is money that is actively in play or is going to be. “Keeping score” money – i.e. the money of people like Trump and the Koch brothers – money that isn’t going to be spent – does not get used for resources and therefore is out of service. A long time ago I wrote a article about why having a high net worth is a destructive thing to do, but the truth is, it shouldn’t be. Everyone should be free to live the way they want, and if it makes billionares happy to have a bunch of money, they should be able to do that – if we were running a bucketized currency system in parallel with our fiat currency system, people deciding to keep billions in the bank wouldn’t be so destructive. But at the moment, there’s less money in circulation than available value, and as a result we often destroy value (let food rot on store shelves, for example).

As a reminder, fiat currency is only making the world a better place and enabling us to have fun adventures when it is changing hands.

SSDI and commercial prisons

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

So, one of the problems that comes up a lot with capitalism is that the real, true interests of the human race, and individual humans, and the choices which will produce money in the short term are often not the same. Sometimes they are even at odds with each other.

I’ve got a couple of examples here. The first one is from my time with SSDI. Now, what the customers wanted was for their printers to work, but what SSDI wanted was to get as many calls as possible without getting caught not serving the customers. This led to things like the ‘bidirectional printer cable’ line. (feed ’em BS and get ’em off the phone, plus they’ll call back again and we can earn money for another call)

My second one is one of my major criticisms with commercial prisons. The very last thing these facilities want to do is turn people out who are healthy, well balanced, and unlikely to reoffend – because it’s only if there is recidivism that the prison makes a profit next year.

I can’t help but draw some comparisons between these two situations, and in both cases, what’s happening is not in the interest of the human race or (most) individual humans – a very few humans do well at the cost of all of us.

In general, I rather doubt if the current criminal justice system is in the interest of the race or individuals. It seems to be all about hurting people. The hope is, if people hurt people, and then you hurt the people who are hurting people, somehow there will be less hurt people in the world. Can we discuss the insanity of this, please?

Now, I understand the need to isolate those who would otherwise rape, murder, and pillage. I just think that it might be worth helping them to understand why we all lose when they do those things, and understand what some of the alternatives might look like if we all worked together, and why it might be worth doing so.

NNNs and communication protocols

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

So, in the discussions about what makes one identically-sized neural network smarter than another, there are a few obvious candidates – like the number and variety of interconnects – and then there are some more subtle ones, like routing protocols in use and means to handle collisions.

Many of my hypothetical readers may know the frustration of having a idea on the tip of your mind, or tongue, and feeling like you must act on it or say what it is or risk losing it forever. One can assume this behavior is even more of a issue for individual neural subnets. One thing that I have to imagine is a architectural choice that we make very early in life is whether to use collisions, token passing, or some variant (like aloha) of the two. It seems likely that different subnet busses use different protocols, and that what is appropriate for one subnet bus (point of confluence) isn’t appropriate for another.

Clearly some subnets do have the ability to hold messages and retry them later – thus how we’re able to set a mental note to revisit a topic and then experience a trigger to revisit it later. However, there is often the feeling with a new idea that we might lose it if we don’t do something to make it somewhat more concrete. I suspect this is because

A) Not all traffic is considered worthy of retries
B) Probably a very large number of messages get dropped that we are never aware of because they never protrude into our conscious experience

There are some subnets for which retrying message delivery would only hamper us – for example, there’s no point in revisiting the lion/no lion question either after it’s become proven there’s a lion or it’s become proven that there’s not. Most things having to do with the RTOS aspects of our mind are either interesting right now or they’re not interesting at all.

However, for the subnets for which the messages are of lasting interest, there is the question of how ideas are sequenced. I generally experience having one idea at a time, although I know my mind is capable of generating several at a time – my assumption is that they’re rated by priority and the highest priority message wins access to my conscious experience. It seems like a interesting experiment to try and have several at the same time, but I’m not entirely sure how I’d go about it. Anyway, I assume that many ideas light up many subnets at the same time, and all of them signal, and only one of them makes it to my conscious experience.

Back to the original topic, I assume that our more intelligent individuals are people who made better choices – or got better dice thrown – in terms of which subnets operate in which mode. I wonder how many modes are available to operate from.