Archive for October, 2021


Sunday, October 31st, 2021

So, I’m trying to figure out what bothers me so much about my recent disagreement on facebook over piracy and intellectual property. I think it’s the fact that these content creators would rather people go without than that they get a free copy of their content – they acknowledge these people can’t pay for it but they think that means they shouldn’t have it.

In general digital assets and capitalism are not a great fit, as I’ve mentioned, because you end up with a finite resource chasing a infinite one. For a long time the cost of buying content was mostly the cost of the carrier the content came on – and now, of course, the majority of the profit generally goes to the publisher and not the individual.

I think part of what bothers me about this is these people can see the police abusing the homeless and stealing their tents and be like “this is fine”. They can know we have 40 years of oil left after which we are all going to starve to death and capitalism is blocking us from solving this and be like, “this is good”. It’s like how I can’t fathom how anyone could continue to support religion after how many times religion has been epicly wrong – I mean, we’ve got things like Galileo, sure, we’ve got encouraging abuse of gay people despite a long list of reasons why they shouldn’t which I think I’ve documented elsewhere. I can *totally* understand why places like China want to outlaw Christianiy – it’s destructive! At the same time, I can’t really embrace the idea of outlawing ideas because once you start that, where do you stop? It’s one of the slipperiest slopes there is and I don’t think anyone is ever going to be unbiased enough to make good decisions on the topic.

But, yes, there are many people who *love* the current system and want to perpetuate it – and I’m talking about people who are barely making ends meet. Just as there are many who are convinced Christianiy is the Only True Way and even that it’s totally reasonable to abuse other folks based on them not being Christian.

It’s depressing. I probably need to focus away from the large picture government etc for a while because it’s gotten too depressing.

Capitalism and unconscious bias

Sunday, October 31st, 2021

So, I inadvertently got into a discussion about piracy and intellectual property in a place where a number of content creators hang out, and the results drew my attention to something that I’ve thought about before, and want to speak on some.

Said content creators were insisting that piracy hurt their bottom line. One spoke about how a new book she had writen “made only $20”. Now, I’m very clear on piracy had nothing to do with this – the problems those creators are up against is that we have many, many, many more good content creators than we did – the internet has made every person with a video camera, tape recorder, or keyboard a potential filmmaker, musician, or author, and the net result is that it’s very, very difficult to stand out of the crowd and get noticed. I spent ten hours on my last song and it has, thus far, 41 downloads – I consider myself very lucky when content I am working on breaks 100 downloads, and I will be astonished if my upcoming album makes more than 100 sales.

However, that’s not what I wanted to talk about. What I wanted to talk about is how capitalism affects unconscious bias in ways that hurt us all. This is most dramatic to me in the case of the preacher who cannot fathom in any way that the religion they are spreading might be wrong or damaging (because if that was the case they’d have to find a new job) but I think also the content creators blaming piracy – and more to the point, *caring* about what people who can’t possibly buy their content do – also illustrates the same sort of problem. The grocer who makes sure to destroy potential food before throwing it away so homeless folks don’t eat it. I could go on for a while, but the point I want to make is that we are not always aware of the neural structures that are being built inside our minds but it is a *really* safe bet that those structures are going to tend to be pro-survival since that’s why evolution has seen fit to gift us with these big brains anyway. Now, capitalism often makes decisions which hurt all of us pro-survival for individual members of the species. I think a lot of people have implicit biases towards acts that one might call evil, or at least incredibly selfish, but are not aware of those biases because they’re wired into their neural net on a subconscious level, or at least in a way their neocortex can not enumerate and/or see.

Nowhere is this more frightening than in for-profit medicine. I’ve noticed that when it comes to things that will kill you otherwise (i.e. heart attacks) the US healhcare system is moderately competent if overpriced. But when it comes to things that won’t, they’re really, really bad. I think part of why this is is that evey doctor in the system is going to have uunconscious bias towards doing things which don’t solve the problem so you’ll keep coming back because every time you come back they make more money. Basically it’s just like the thing with SSDI and the printer cables all over again.

And this isn’t something we’re looking for or measuring, partially because one of the unconscious biases we end up with is that capitalism is good and helping us – if we have a lot of money. And of course because of some of the decisions we have made lately if we have a lot of money we also have a lot of power so we are the one who’s decisions and thoughts are leading to the end result. It’s amazing how pervasive these unconscious biases can be – I gesture you to the cash for kids scandal – these judges really thought, at least claimed to have thought, that they were still behaving reasonably.

A timely reminder about business and money

Thursday, October 28th, 2021

So, I feel like some people might be forgetting that, from a big picture perspective, making money is not a goal for humanity at all. Businesses should not be in business to make money – if they are, they’re likely doing damaging and/or stupid things. They should be in business to provide a product or service. The money is a token used to indicate contributions to the group, that can then be traded for other resources the group provides – I talk about this some in resource allocation as a group, but I think people miss the point, so I will belabor it some more.

When the government takes some of “your” income (which it uses to provide services we all need), they’re actually taking the token that was given to you by the group in exchange for your contributions to the group. Money is never “yours” in the same sense that other things are, it’s always a pointer to group resources.

Beyond that, one also needs to bear in mind that corporations exist to make the world a better place by providing a need or want for the group, in return for which dollars are handed over. The whole system is *supposed* to ensure that everyone is contributing to the welfare of the group but in fact it often does the opposite, because owners and upper management feel that, even though they often contribute the *least* ongoing value, they deserve the lion’s share of the tokens (which they will then hoarde like idiots, see this).

I think part of the problem is that a lot of people have lost sight of the big picture. They don’t think about optimizing user experience or happiness for the system as a whole. However, we would all have the best user experience if we *all* were trying to optimize the happiness for everyone in the system as a whole. *Definitely* one of the things that is killing America – and that may well lead to extinction of humanity if we don’t get our heads on straight – is the making of decisions which ultimately reduce happiness as a whole, or even survivability, in order to make money. We see this in companies destroying ecosystems with toxic chemicals, we see this in America’s perpetual war machine destroying overall value in order to give military contractors yet another pile of pointers, we see this in a lot of places.

But, I still maintain, your well-optimized corporation does not make massive profits. We are *all* the richest when it plows the majority of it’s money into either R&D or employee salaries, and beyond that when the salaries are not vastly disparate, because those who get paid the million dollar salaries are likely to just hoard them.

Now, a aside here – America offers you the only safe option for changing jobs or ceasing working is to have a fairly large nest egg stashed away, and thusly I am doing a bit of money hoarding of my own. I’m not happy that this world forces me to do so or risk starving and freezing to death, I’m not at *all* happy that the homeless in my city have their tents stolen and burned and if I had my way *everyone* who participated in that would forfeit all their assets and be forced to be homeless for a year. We clearly live in a world that is far more dystopian than it needs to be, and part of the blame for that is quite rightly laid at the feet of the conservative and the religious, both of whom are provably believing wrong things and taking actions based on them that are holding us all back.

(It’s always struck me as funny that people call America a “democracy” but we’re not, at all. We’re a democratic republic where your options are generally between two folks neither of which would be as good a choice for leadership as a random individual picked by drawing straws – and while we speak of “keeping the world safe for democracy” and “spreading democracy” what we truly believe in is not democracy but capitalism. We have been known even to overhrow democratically elected governments in order to install friendly dictators but we will bomb you back to the stone age if you dare try some form of collectivism. America stands for “don’t share, don’t work together, be enslaved by the bosses until you die, own lots of guns though!”)

Anyway, to return to my original point, in a ideal world corporations are not concerned about making dollars, they are concerned about making goods and providing services. To have it elsewise means the products get steadily more poorly made and steadily less valuable – a example of how capitalism unfettered leads to a worse outcome for everyone. We must teach our children, and always remember ourselves, that dollars *are not value*, they are just a pointer to it. Decisions that make paper dollars but destroy real value (like holding a war over false pretenses) hurt us all and are to be avoided at all costs.

Pilot wave theory and the simulation hypothesis

Thursday, October 28th, 2021

One of the thoughts I’ve had a few times is how pilot wave theory has a reasonable explanation if we’re inside a simulation. The purpose of the pilot wave would be for the computer doing the simulation to determine entanglements in order to optimize computing interactions (or possibly to deal with chaining the interaction to all the entangled systems).

This led me to the interesting thought of what speculative execution would look like in a system that had some randomization, from the perspective of someone who was actually at eyeball level with the outcome of said speculative execution. I may have to do a few experiments.

While I’m muttering on quantum-y things, I’d really like it if a fan of MWI would tell me what they think is happening in the quantum eraser experiment.

Anti-piracy measures hurt us, piracy helps us

Thursday, October 28th, 2021

So, I wanted to write yet another essay on my opinions about intellectual property. They have become more clearly defined in my mind over time. Now, keep in mind, these opinions are based on a holistic view – if one were looking at the human race from the outside.

My first observation is that anti-piracy measures have cost us all millions of man-hours. the FBI warnings that can’t be skipped, all the thousands of hours developers have wasted on anti-piracy measures despite the fact that ultimately any media (music / movie / what have you) cannot be made pirate-proof because there is no closing the analog hole. Anti-piracy hurts the human race and the only reason it exists is there are some morons who can’t do the math and can only feel tall if they know someone else is short.

It also hurts us in other ways. To the extent that law enforcement and the CRJ wastes time on these frivolous claims by multimillion-or-billion-dollar-entities about people with almost no money, it’s wasting the time of those systems, and to the extent that they actually choose to punish piracy, it’s hurting people who have committed no real crime. It’s a sign of how deeply fucked up our world is that we would put someone in jail for stealing something that A: they couldn’t pay for and that B: that isn’t *gone* once it’s stolen. It shows that we let exactly the wrong people drive the bus.

My second observation is that piracy *helps us*. Now, I’m not speaking here of piracy done by people who could afford the content. They’re being asshats, screw them. Them as have the resources should pay for content – as I do, now that I do – so that content creators will have the resources to continue creating content.

I’m talking about the 12 year olds copying music, the people who barely manage to pay their bills pirating movies, things like that. In the first place, I made a argument a very long time ago that their piracy is just a form of de-facto librarying – humanity has certainly purchased enough licenses of this content that isn’t in use at any given point that you can think of what they’re doing as just using library copies in a more efficient way. but beyond that, they also help us all in several other ways.

First of all, exposure to ideas in movies, music, books, etc, makes people’s neural networks grow. Our brains physically change state when exposed to new input. So these people are helping themselves grow and become more intelligent and capable – or more SOMETHING anyway – which thusly is helping humanity as a whole have more people who are bigger and more complex. And, let’s face it, it’s not like these people were going to pay anyway. They don’t have the money. No one is losing any money, some people are just too awful to share.

Second of all, having a number of people who are familiar with the same books and movies and music gives us cultural references than enable us to communicate more clearly. So these people are aiding humanity as a whole’s ability to communicate.

Third of all, to the extent that these people enjoy their pirated content, they are adding to the net happiness of humanity as a whole.

I want to mention a few more things about intellectual property while I’m at it. First of all, you have to remember that intellectual property *existed before we found it* in potentia. As I’ve talked about before, any digital content is already sitting on the number line, existing in a abstract sense, before we do the work to concretely bring it into this world. Not only that, you can make infinite copies of any digital asset without reducing in any way the value or quality of the original. (In fact, as I discussed above, the original *gains* value when it becomes a cultural rosetta stone)

It’s also true that one number might well mean two different things depending on what codec you run it through. So you may find yourself (in a really odd world) in the bizarre position of, for example, having a digital image that’s identical to a MIDI file that contains a hook that already exists. As soon as you start thinking about the absurdity of, for example, someone claiming they own the number ‘2’, you start to comprehend the insanity of our system that allows someone to camp on any idea – when the same idea might have occured to many, many people. It’s a safe bet that across the universe musicians on millions of planets have landed on the same chord progressions as sounding good – once you start looking at infinity and eternity it becomes clear that we’re never the first to play these notes or think these things.

Intellectual property is a band-aid to try and make our already broken resource allocation system work for content creators. Personally I think – as I’ve discussed many other places – that it’s time to invent a new resource allocation system because ours is deeply flawed in ways that are reducing the net happiness of most of the users – and I do think it’s important to think of the needs of *all* the users in the system, not just the most mercenary.

High Grade Ore

Wednesday, October 27th, 2021

So, this track marks my first collaboration with the incredibly talented wordsmith Lee Hart (who some of you may know as the mastermind behind things like the 1802 Altoids tin computer and the Sunrise EV). A friend of mine described this as “The wreck of the edmund fitzgerald – in space!.” (Note – the lyrics have evolved slightly in different directions – Lee’s official version is found at this address)

High Grade Ore

Lyrics (by Lee Hart):

Now Murphy was a working man ; a miner, nothing more.
A bit of human jetsam lost in night’s Plutonian shore.
Until he found that asteroid, and entered into lore;
Him and 40 kilotons of high grade ore.

He’d manned his tiny ship alone, a year or maybe more.
A flea among the asteroids; homeless, starving, poor.
Each rock had only traces of what he searched ’em for.
Hunting for his holy grail of high grade ore.

The radar caught his vector, heading for L4.
With delta-V a little high, but fusion drive full bore.
“Cap’n Murphy callin’ in this day of August 4.
‘A claimin’ 40 kilotons of high grade ore.”

The base assayer radioed, “You’ve heard the rules before.
Your claim’s no good until you land that worthless hunk of ore.
And then I’ll have to analyze its purity before
You own that 40 kilotons of high grade ore.”

“Jesus, what you burning there?”, the port controller swore.
“There’s colors there in your exhaust flume I’ve never seen before”.
“Just gum’ment forms”, said Murphy, “and rulebooks by the score”.
“To help me trim this delta-V, that’s all I kept ’em for”.

“Murphy, there’s a lawyer here, from Cheatham, Ripp, and Gore.
He says your bills are way behind, a year or maybe more.”
“Jes’ stand him on me landin’ pad, I’ll pay him off for sure.
And drop him 40 kilotons of high grade ore.”

The radar station checked the course, then checked it even more.
It seemed that Murphy’d land a thousand yards below the floor.
The operator called it in, then headed out the door.
“I’ll take my last vacation day, that’s what I saved it for!”.

“Veer off, ya goddam lunatic!”, the base commander swore.
“That rock’ll smash a hole in us a mile wide or more!”
“Now don’t you worry”, Murphy said, “I’ve done this thing before.
It’s only 40 kilotons of high grade ore.”

And then the fusion drive waxed bright, full thrust or maybe more.
The tiny ship, it floated down; the rock, it towered o’er
Straining every rivet with a load like Atlas bore.
To stop that 40 kilotons of high grade ore.

The falling mountain slowed, then crawled, then gently kissed the floor.
The fusion drive ran out of fuel in just a second more.
And as the engines died away, the scale of Smelter 4
Was reading 40 kilotons of high grade ore.

A mob raced to the landing pit, there must have been a score
To cheer the god, or curse the fool who’d shown them all death’s door.
They found no man, they found no ship; an engine, little more
Beneath that 40 kilotons of high grade ore.

The cold equations do not lie, nor cheat like some old whore.
He knew them better than his wife (who’d left the year before).
Murphy didn’t have the fuel to make the dock secure
While pushing 40 kilotons of high grade ore.

A fusion drive burns anything; that’s what we use ’em for.
So piece by piece, his ship he fed the grim reactor core.
And when it all was not enough, he entered through that door
To stop his 40 kilotons of high grade ore.

The assay team reported something odd about this ore.
They saw where Murphy’d tried to cut; that hadn’t worked for sure.
They tried to chisel, burn, and blast, and finally they tore
A bit off 40 kilotons of high grade ore.

The chief assayer checked it out, and tallied up the score.
The density was very high; few elements are more.
Its hue, its malleability; its carats — 24!
My God, it’s 40 kilotons of pure gold ore!

No one has yet discovered just where he found that ore.
But Murphy’s gold put us in space; a million men and more.
The future destiny of man, now it is secure.
Thanks to a lonely miner and his load of high grade ore.

Note this later appeared on Believing Is Seeing.

500 hours

Monday, October 18th, 2021


Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

Be very suspicious of any information that is tagged with instructions to make a copy of it. (This includes most religions). In general, useful truth does not need to be tagged with a engram making it a virus in order to be viral. Therefore you have to question the validity and value of information that is tagged with viral engrams, as well as the motives of the people who made it viral.

Sunday, October 3rd, 2021

So, I decided this a while ago but I thought I would post it here in case anyone from Adobe is reading.

Adobe casually threw away hundreds of thousands of man-hours of work programming excellent content when they decided not to open-source flash, but rather to deliberately sabotage it in browsers.

I will never buy another Adobe product, and I hope they come to suffer as a company for their destructive attitude.