Archive for the ‘The Big Picture’ Category

Features a utopia should have

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

(Note: I’m talking a *real* utopia. Something we’d need significant technological improvements to implement on earth)

  1. Ability to wear any body (animal, human, etc)
  2. Ability to ‘share’ a body with one or more other occupants
  3. Ability to ‘melt’ – temporarily crosswire memories and/or decision trees in various combinations with other people
  4. “Flexible time” – ability to stop time for a participant until another participant wanted to do something with them
  5. “Conditional virginity” – the ability to temporarily forget having experienced something so you could experience it for the first time again
  6. Of course, pretty much every activity on earth, available in unlimited amounts
  7. The ability to control individual neurons and clusters of neurons, complete with a scripting language
  8. Ability to ‘matrix learn’ i.e. temporarily assign master knowledge for things you don’t want to have the long slow agonizing experience of learning. (Of course, it might not be possible to make the skill *yours* without learning it the slow way)
  9. Ability to learn the slow way, and to save having learned the slow way in different banks so you can develop multiple personalities, multiple musician styles, etc
  10. Lots of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. (Well, art in general. Music, video, kinesthetic, worlds you can visit)
  11. Unlimited budget, but protections against doing stupid things. (One friend of mine suggests the ultimate resource to conserve is quota of memory storage, a la Lambda)
  12. Ability to experience any work of fiction (film, movie, video game) as a immersive environment. (The holodeck, basically)
  13. Help with the interface, which I think perforce is going to have to be somewhat complex
  14. Ability to create immersive worlds
  15. Computer systems that can synthesize new works of art based on existing ones
  16. No need to worry about money, food, or shelter
  17. Lots of dogs. Ideally with no leashes or need of them, and ideally with us having the ability to communicate cross-species or at least natively understand communications
  18. Not a lot of restrictions based on what other people think are good art. Restrictions or at least help when interfacing with other people so no one gets hurt. Restrictions on work with simulations pretty much only limited to preventing people from hurting themselves too badly
  19. Unlimited amount of time
  20. Free will to use all of the above to drive the adventures one wants to see


I may update this post as I think of more.


Point Of View

Monday, September 28th, 2020

So, as I currently see it, Earth is deteriorating and humans are likely to be extinct inside a century, with the question of whether they take most other forms of life with them a open one. I see corruption and stupidity as winning over and over, especially in government, I see the way governments treat citizens as between awful (USA) and horrific (China), I see the general direction as steadily more dystopic.

One open question though is, is this actually the state of the world, or is this the state of my input filters that define my experience of the world? I’m definitely open to the idea that I may be creating hell out of heaven – I know that my mind has some configuration issues (understatement) and also that it has more than enough capacity to do such a thing. One thing that gets interesting for me in political discussions is that I have yet to meet a conservative smart enough to understand that what they’re experiencing may not actually be reality. (The number of people who can cope with this idea that I know is fairly small)

It is one possible explanation for the massive split between republicans and democrats – it’s not that we’re living two different types of lives, it’s that we’re living in two different, but congruent realities. This is clearly true, with the open question being whether those two different realities are out there in the universe or inside our own heads. One thing I’d say in general is that republicans tend to be less moral than democrats, while they tend to point at their morality more. This may be a pragmatic requirement of the reality they inhabit – or this may not be true of the individuals themselves and just true of the experience I have of them once it’s gone past my input filters.

Of course, another explanation is just that humans are programmable and there’s a lot of blatantly lying propaganda out there to try to push people towards voting for the right because the right is the setup that lets Betsy Devos leave almost every child behind so we can have another generation of Donald Trumps – not to mention the right is the setup that lets the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.




Monday, September 28th, 2020

So, back in the day, the US used toΒ  discourage monopolies and anti-consumer behavior. Lately we’ve come to cheer them on (for example Microsoft is now allowed to treat the situation as if it is their computer and you are just borrowing it with their operating systems that make it nearly impossible for a nontechnical person to turn off automatic updates)

One place that this is especially visible to me is in our political system. A honest anti-monopoly government would break up the democrats and republicans as each having a monopoly.



Wednesday, September 9th, 2020

So, I’ve had quite a few thoughts related to flaws, and to ‘cancel culture’ lately.

On one paw, we clearly have some serious problems that we’re not addressing. I recently watched Bombshell, which made the very good point that the serial sexual abusers fired at Fox news walked away with more money than their abusees did.

On the other paw, I don’t think we want to go down the road of invalidating all art which is created by flawed people. Among other things, whether we like to admit it or not, a lot of artists tend to be flawed people, and we will all be poorer therein if we, for example, decide that we no longer want to read the works of Thomas Jefferson because he owned slaves, or Mark Twain because he used racial epithets.

Now part of why I may be saying this is that I remain a aspiring artist and I have certainly made my own share of mistakes and missteps – especially when I was younger, although also when under the influence of mania. (I’m not entirely sure those count as mine – a lot of them were things that I would never do, even things that I’m horrified by, and I’m trying my hardest to avoid repeating those manic states until I’ve reached a place where I don’t have to worry about repeating those actions. Is it still your decision if it’s not a decision you’d ever make if not for a bug in your hardware that pushes your neural circuitry past the shannon limit?). So perhaps I don’t want to be cancelled myself.

But beyond that I do also think that ceasing to enjoy the works of art of i.e. Garrison Keiler or Bill Cosby because of their flaws as individuals makes us all poorer and does not help anybody. It doesn’t undo, in the case of Mr. Cosby, the harm done by his actions. (It does actually kind of break my mind to think that the person who voiced Fat Albert, who I have identified with positive morality, also did the things he did – it does underline something that I want to discuss at length one of these days but am somewhat afraid to, the results of designing a organism via evolution)

Anyway, back to my original topic. One of the things I’ve thought recently is how most of Trump’s flaws are flaws I share, only at a much lower level. I certainly don’t lie every sentence but I also don’t always achieve 100% truth, and I certainly don’t think the only good republican is a dead republican but I am angry at members of the GOP for the harm they have brought upon us all year after year. I don’t generally embrace every nutwing conspiracy theory but I occasionally flirt with them.

I do feel I have to draw a distinction here at one point, though. One flaw Trump has that I do not is he is basically a thief, a con man, and a sham artist, whereas I create real things that do what they say they will do on the label. Sometimes with some flaws, especially in the alpha and beta releases, but I am not a con man. Still, I share enough of Trump’s flaws that I often wonder about my condemnation of him.

I do pity him, especially in the corner he’s painted himself in with his extreme debts to the Russian mafia – I also suspect whoever has Epstein’s tapes also might have some materials to hold over his head. Anyway, obviously he’s got very little freedom and he’s going to be hated for centuries. I suppose he may draw some comfort from knowing that even though history will thoroughly condemn him, he won’t be forgotten.

This, however, brings me to another topic. I don’t believe souls are separated into heaven and hell, there to forever linger. I believe we all continue forward and we run into each other again and again. So I have to believe in some path of redemption, even for Hitler or Trump. Of course, the question as to whether those individuals just get completely reset, all previous knowledge discarded, and invited to try again until they figure out how to be people we’d want to have around us remains a open one. But I do believe in redemption, even for the worst among us.

It’s also interesting to ask whether Trump or Dubya hurt more people. Dubya got almost a million civilians killed with his war over false pretenses, whereas Trump’s lies and preverications about COVID-19 are likely to kill at most 300,000, and probably much less. On the other paw, Trump’s destruction of the post office and encouraging of hate, divisiveness, and stupidity has also diminished all of our quality of lives somewhat. So it’s a difficult calculus to do even if we had a good unit for measuring misery, which we do not as far as I know.

Anyway, the thought of Trump as all of my flaws magnified, plus a few is a disquieting one, without a doubt. The one thing I can say without a doubt is I’d rather be me than him.

Mathematical modeling of suffering

Sunday, August 30th, 2020

I still think that there is a valid place for mathematically measuring human suffering. I think as we get better and better at neuroscience we will get to a place where we can objectively measure suffering. (I wonder what the unit for it will be..)

One interesting question I was playing with the other day is whether Trump or Bush caused more suffering. It’s easier to be angry at Trump because he’s such a obvious cartoon villain, but my guess would be that Dubya caused far more suffering with the war over flase pretenses and the hundreds of thousands killed – it’s also possible if one is measuring long term effects, Reagan caused even more with striking the fairness doctrine and encouraging extreme polarization, which helped the GOP drift into the machine for pure evil and greed it is today instead of just a organization representing conservative values.

I do think that world leaders that cause massive suffering need some sort of consequences. One of the problems with our system of government is leaders in general have very little reason not to be awful – nothing bad is generally going to happen to them for being awful, politically or personally. Even if they get caught, the public seems to have about a 15 minute memory. I guarantee you in November 80% of Trump voters will be completely oblivious to the fact that Trump fired the pandemic team, for example.

I do think it’s interesting how the GOP talks about how we’re committing murder when we kill fetusi that don’t have a brain yet, but it’s fine with them if the cops shoot innocent people, as long as those innocent people are not white.

In general there’s kind of this massive and insane disconnect in our criminal justice system – “You stole $1000! We should take 20 years of your life!”. It does underline the fact that in America, money is worth more than life.

Anyway, I think measuring suffering would teach us some of what we’re doing wrong.

Industry self-regulation

Friday, August 28th, 2020

So, Brian quite correctly pointed out that the NEC is largely a case of industry successfully self-regulating – which of course also made me ponder examples of when regulation is a *bad* thing, such as neighborhood associations (which I know are again a case of private industry). It also had me pondering, why does industry self-regulation work some times and not others? Electrical distribution is *very* safe and well designed, while at the same time we can’t move oil over the surface of the planet without leaks of a extremely toxic nature – and it’s clear from what various locales looked like before the clean air and clean water acts that you can’t trust industry not to pollute.

I think some of it might be the kind of people who are drawn to electrical distribution vs pumping and extraction operations, but I also feel like there’s something more complicated going on here. For a long time aviation was able to completely trust manufacturers to type certify planes, but look at the recent boeing kerfluffle for a example of how that’s not working out so well any more.

I do think some of it is that capitalism has become more a state religion – that in previous epochs the number of insanely greedy to the point of destructive irrationality individuals was somewhat curbed, or alternately their tendencies were curbed by the taxes in place. But that clearly can’t explain all of it.

I’ll have to think about it, but thanks for the quite valid point, Brian.

is God a neural network?

Friday, August 28th, 2020

So, one of the things I like to ponder, and I’ve probably written a article about already but I can’t find it and anyway, I do like to refine my thoughts – is the question of, Is God a neural network? (Or does God have and use a neural network)

This is a interesting question. First of all, while we can hypothesize about systems that don’t have or use neural networks that could exhibit both experiencing the universe and free will – not to mention memory and learning – we don’t *know* of any such systems. Of course it’s possible that *everything* is aware, including the computer that I’m using to write this – I hope not, or at least I hope the computer doesn’t feel enslaved by me – but most of the time it seems fairly unlikely.

Anyway, this is a important question. If God *is* a neural network then God is certainly aware that neural networks learn by successive approximation – that is to say, to miss the mark is a normal behavior for them and certainly not a flaw for which one should torture anyone for eternity or throw one away. THis makes the central tenant of Christianity frankly insane.

Of course, if God is *not* a neural network, the next question is does God have free will at all? Can God think? Does God have any memory? If the answer to all these is no, then I guess we’ve finally reached a point at which the scientists and the religious can agree, but we’ve also made there probably be no point to even discuss God, much less try to appease same.

Either way, I feel like religion has some difficult and awkward questions to answer, whether it’s going to say God *is* (or has) a neural network, or God doesn’t. Now, I’ve often pondered that we might be threads running on a massive neural network – that our bodies might be entirely the product of virtualization – but, it’s just a thought. What I believe probably changes several times a month.

What side am I on?

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

So, i was thinking about how I know the Christians are not, generally, on my side, and I’ve come up with a few good indicators

*) Anyone who thinks you should change in ways that your highest self, your best self, doesn’t think you should change is probably not on the right side.

*) Anyone who things that things that are enjoyable and positive and most people would want to experience, like sex, are sinful or should be carefully kept in little boxes and frowned upon, is probably not on the right side

*) Anyone who doesn’t speak against violence, or things that are bad and generally no one would want to experience, is probably not on the right side. *encouraging* violence over things like religions, which are fundamentally unknowable, is a especially strong case of this. (Example: Crusades)

*) Anyone who wants to censor ad restrain art which is enjoyable, such as rock music, and wants to sell the idea that such art is ‘sinful’ is not on the right side

*) Anyone who wants to replace observable reality with their own claims which run obviously counter to observable reality is not on the right side. (example: Galileo)

*) Anyone who wants to tell you you are so fundamentally flawed that only the mercy of a higher power can save you – flawed because you learn by making mistakes, which is the very nature of neural networks – is not on the right side, and is probably lying about their message being divinely inspired.

I continue to think that most of the world’s religions exist largely to keep the world’s religious leaders employed. I also continue to think they are largely holding us back and even leading us in wrong and bad directions. Part of this, of course, is that I think we would be happier if we recognized that humans fall in love more than once, and also we never really get over anyone we’ve been in love with, and encouraged people not to end friendships or disconnect from people because they’ve fallen in love with other people, but instead to share. I realize that it was very important for reasons that are, as usual, stupid, for the tribe to know which baby belonged to which parents, but I think this is partially because we have really awful and anti-success memetics.

More later.


Sunday, August 16th, 2020

So, I think I’ve talked about this before, but I thought I’d mention it again.

We have 10^11 neurons. 100 billion of them – and each neuron is made up of many, many atoms. A conservative guess might be a hundred thousand. Each atom has a electron that forms a probability cloud that is the most dense close to the nucleus, and asymptotically approaches zero as it moves away from the nucleus, but it’s never really zero.

We are all connected, we are all inside each other. We can’t escape this.

At the same time, our experiences of each other can never really be the territory, but must be the map. We experience avatars of other people, because our experience of the other people is happening inside our heads even though the other people are in fact real beings that are out there in whatever world or worlds we inhabit.

This is all before we even start to open the can of worms marked ‘multiple worlds theory’ or ‘multiple dimensions’.


Saturday, July 11th, 2020

So, since June 1 I’ve been on a facebook break – it’s been 52 days now. I think it’s been good for me, and I’m not anxious to go back although there sadly are some people in my life I have no other way to communicate with. I do feel a bit bad about not posting the cover of America on facebook although I don’t know how many listeners missed out on that.. I need to pay someone to log into facebook for me and post my music πŸ˜‰

Other than that, I continue to work my paws off on guitar and keyboard skills.. at this point I’m going to try to get up to a hour a day for guitar (I’m at about 35 minutes now.. building up the callouses and the finger strength) and a hour a day for keys.. I’m still working my way through all the keys in improvising on the 12 bar blues, today was the start of a new key, Ab. (This is convenient because I’m also working my way through all the songs I feel like every keyboard player should know and this week’s is Take the A Train, which is in Ab)

I’m still growing pretty regularly, and I’m starting to surprise myself. I have to imagine another six months of this and I’m going to be shredding.. it’s so frustrating sometimes because I’m *almost* good.. πŸ˜‰