Archive for the ‘Tinfoil hat’ Category

genetic algorithms and fitness functions

Friday, April 30th, 2021

So, I can’t remember if I’ve written about this before or not, but it popped into my head last night and I thought I’d write about it some more in any case.

It’s generally taken for granted by most adherents to darwinism that the fitness function in play on Earth is whether or not a organism survives to reproduce.. and I have to admit, given the results of DNA tests this has a high degree of plausability, however it is easy to imagine a situation where it isn’t actually true, or it’s true but future incarnations of DNA sequences depend on fitness results beyond mere survival.

I am of course thinking about my kittens – often a kitten will ‘survive’ (which just requires coming home with a nonzero amount of coin in it’s little kitten pouch on it’s collar) but still be culled by the algorithm because it’s not good enough (for example, only the top 10% of kittens usually move on to the next generation, and there are also things (like asserting buy and sell at the same time) that will get a kitten cut.

If there were things like this in play on earth we might not be aware at them, both because it would be easy to develop both fake and real DNA (this is the assuming-the-operator-of-the-universe-is-Loki sort of thing) and also because we might have real DNA but still be living a iterative series of lives in which only the top few percent of each generation move on to the next simulation. And that’s before we even get into discussions about the multi-world interpretation and the possibility that we are wandering from universe to universe based on the decisions that we make.

A interesting idea to play with is how something like a genetic algorithm might interface with something like quantum immortality. Not a particularly *happy* idea, though – if no one can actually die, then the people who draw a bad hand genetically will end up worse and worse off.

Down with intellectual property

Sunday, March 21st, 2021

I’ve thought a number of times about how awful intellectual property is, and how it hurts us all.

I think I’ve mentioned before that the attempts to stop piracy, including the FBI warning, cost us more man-hours than piracy ever could. I’ve talked about how patent trolls hurt us all, as do companies that won’t share their innovations. (Remember how the oil companies got access to the patents for NIMH and wouldn’t allow EV-sized batteries to be made in the USA? And ponder how we could have magsafe-like connectors everywhere if Apple weren’t such dicks – not to mention the absurd idea that the iPhone was the first smartphone

Side thought, I think part of the problem is that the worst of us are the most likely to want to control the rest of us, so historically the bosses and political leaders are often the people you would least want to have the job. I’ve often thought this about things like the presidency but I think it’s also true on a much more micro scale.

Anyway, back to the evils of intellectual property. We *all* stand on the shoulders of giants – I talk about this in Resource Allocation As A Group – and yet over and over we let people camp out on and hoarde ideas.

I think I’ve mentioned before how every song ever recorded already existed before it was recorded – this is easy to prove, just consider that every song can be represented by a fantastically large number (after all, a digital file is really just a fantastically large number) – now start at zero and start counting. You’ll get there.

I understand that content providers need to earn a living – although in my ideal universe the need to earn a living would be removed since we clearly have sufficient resources to permit people to do whatever they want and still eat and live indoors, we’re starting to deliberately do things in massively inefficient ways in order to keep enough “jobs” because we feel like people shouldn’t be allowed to eat and live indoors unless they are working. (Awfulness is a popular theme among humans, and it’s catching.)

However, we clearly have gone too far at the point that we start allowing things like DNA to be copyrighted. Which we do. We allow companies like Monsanto to bully farmers because some pollen from a copyrighted strain of corn happened to blow onto their field. We allow copyrighting of DNA that originally came from humans or animals.. sometimes even without those humans or animals’ permission. And, DNA is another one of those things that’s just a really large number, so it exists in potentia even if it doesn’t exist in a concrete manifestation.

Think about how much better the world would be if all education and entertainment was available to everyone! But, of course, the message over and over with the modern world is Thou Shalt Not Share. And maybe given the lack of success of polyamoury the message I shoudl take away is that humans really aren’t into sharing – or indeed into happiness or success. Given nuclear reactions, most sane species would build NERVAs. We built bombs. Enough bombs to guarantee extinction.

I should probably stop here before I get even more depressed about our potential future.

Saturday, February 27th, 2021

So, one thing I forget that a movie I was watching reminded me of – the USA and the USSR are in essence holding a gun to the head of every person on the planet. If we were to ever have a nuclear exchange, the resulting nuclear winter would kill most of the people here. And we, of course, are selfish enough to think that capitalism and our perverse, twisted variant of Christianity are worth threatening everyone in the world.

We should voluntarily put down our gun.. but we won’t, because if there’s two defining traits of the USA’s military machine, they are selfishness and stupidity.

This is part of why I have so much trouble when people post their “if you like your freedom, thank my daddy” memes. Because the US army doesn’t fight for freedom – they fight to perpetuate slavery. We’ve overthrown free democracies in order to install our preferred autocratic leaders, we’ve killed millions of people in wars that were started over lies so our war machine could profit. I don’t understand how people can remain blind to all this.

Thoughts on the existence of God (or many Gods)

Friday, January 8th, 2021

So, from time to time I like to ponder this one – and remember, Christians, there was a period where I could have been put to death simply for writing this essay, for the crime of blasphemy, which I think argues more clearly than anything I could down here that your religion has a definite evil bent, at least as implemented on Earth.. but I digress..

Is there a God?

The existence of the universe doesn’t provide any argument either way. Lots of religious folks will say “The universe must have a creator” but when you ask “Who created God”, they look at you blankly. If God could have always been here, so could the universe. The rigid mathematical nature of the universe tells us very little as well – it’s clearly something that could have bootstrapped itself, as is human life. We’re not intended, apparently, to determine from our environment whether there’s a God (or many) or not.

Well and good. My strongest argument for there being a God (or hopefully many, since one would probably have been driven insane by being the only one of their kind) is that it doesn’t really make sense to me that humans would be the biggest and smartest things around. My second strongest argument is that WWIII hasn’t happened yet.

Arguments against God, or at least any God with any kind of morals you’d want to hang around, include everything from nuclear weapons to the proliferation of religions claiming to be the only one and claiming all adherents to other religions are ‘less than’ to the incredible cruelty of nature itself – and you can make interesting side arguments such as we’re in a video game, a experience to try when we get tired of perfection, a situation intended to encourage us to learn, etc. I can’t clearly rule out the existence of God based on anything I’ve seen thus far. I have seen things that argue in my opinion either for God or for many-worlds hypothesis.

My opinion is there are probably many things bigger than we are, angels, Gods, you-name-it. Whether they’re even aware of us is questionable – are we aware of individual cells in our body? How about dust mites? But, that opinion is subject to change when new information arrives.

My additional opinion is that pretty much all the religions of earth have bugs. I don’t buy that I want a complete lack of attachments, so I don’t think I’m cut out to be a bhuddist. A lot of the horrors of the Bible make me want to run screaming, and a lot of the horrors modern Christians commit – especially telling people “If you don’t believe the same thing as I do, you are going to Hell” – with the side note that that’s okay with them and they think you deserve it – have similar problems.

(As per always I must disclaim – I have met Christians who seem to understand what love is, and who don’t think my final destination is eternal torment because of the complex set of beliefs that I have. They’re just alas in the minority thus far.)

One problem.. (Good vs Evil)

Monday, October 26th, 2020

So, one thing the recent supreme court nomination and confirmation illustrates is the problem of good vs evil – evil doesn’t care about the rules. Evil doesn’t care about lying. If you’ve decided that you will have your way no matter what (as Mitch clearly has and no one has stopped him) you can do enormous damage to this world, and it does in general lack protections. In general I’ve come to suspect that the cops (who shoot random citizens and get told “Good job.”) are controlled by people I’d identify as far more evil than good. (While I grant you that Biden is definitely better than Trump, I’m still very saddened that he chose a prosecutor – by definition a force for evil – as a running mate. On the other paw, your choice here is between mildly tarnished and the devil himself, so it’s not hard for me to endorse the man on the left.)

Of course, a lot of the laws themselves are evil. Certainly the laws against immigration,  setting quotas, making it difficult, are evil. Certainly laws against acts that harm no one, or harm no one but the committee of the law, are evil. And I’d also have to say that laws that attempt to legislate a particular religious view of morality are evil.

Anyway, the question remains, how can not-evil possibly win if evil doesn’t care about the rules? For the most part, I think with superior numbers – and also I have to imagine that it’s a lot easier to look yourself in the mirror every morning if you’re not a crooked cheat.

The whole thing does make me think that in general man does not do well when saddling himself with government, and I think a big part of the problem here is that it’s not a great idea to let anyone who wants a lot of these jobs have them. Anyone who thinks they’re *worthy* to be a judge should be disqualified, and certainly anyone who thinks they should be president is the last person you’d want for the job. But, traditionally we let people choose their own employment. I don’t know what the solution is although I still suspect that judicious use of AI, and having us all agree to the programming of the AI, would work a lot better than having us directly rule. At least it would be less corruptable.

 

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.

 

Trump and COVID

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

I’m trying to figure out how I feel about thew news that Trump has COVID.

While I’ll be the first to admit that him dying of the disease that he helped spread would be a very poetic end, I also suspect I’d find it deeply unsatisfying. This is partially because I have two entirely contradictory thoughts about it – one of which I wish I didn’t have, because it speaks to me having a flaw that seems to be common to humans, and the other which I think most people would agree is reasonable.

The first thought is a desire to see him punished for the massive harm he’s done to our world and the people in it. While it’s true Trump hasn’t hurt as many people as Dubya, he has hurt millions and millions of people and made the world a less safe and less desirable to live in place. I generally don’t think we should punish people, although we should set them up for situations that invite rehabilitation, but there is a part of me that wants Trump to get repeatedly beaten by the very cops he told to be more violent when arresting people, and wants him to hear the slam of the jail cell and feel the steel bracelets and know that ultimately he did not get away with it. I don’t really like what this thought says about me – I know that anger is a reasonable response to being hurt and Trump has hurt us all, but I also don’t think it does any good for anyone to hurt back simply because we’ve been hurt.

The second thought is a desire for redemption for Trump. I want some sort of Hollywood-style character arc where he learns and grows, and if he dies now that becomes impossible – whereas if he lives through COVID but faces some of the fears that I would imagine are associated with having it and realizes some of what he’s done to the world maybe he can be a tiny smidge less self centered and less horrible in the future. I think this is something we should all want for each other.

Anyway, for the second reason I am going to wish him a full recovery but hopefully enough of a symptomatic experience to learn some things.

Evidence against Christianity

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

So, of the things that I ponder, ‘what if I’m wrong?’ about, probably the biggest one is religion. However, I was pondering various things that are strong arguments against Christianity – well, in particular, the idea of God.

One very strong argument against a moral intelligent designer is cancer. Cancer would easily be preventable by having our DNA switch between a mode where mutations were possible, for evolutionary purposes, during initial mitosis, and a mode where a CRC is applied to it rather than the simple checksum that currently exists, for runtime purposes. Cancer would be basically impossible.

Now, one can imagine arguments for the experience of earth – a few that have occured to me include that we need something to compare utopia with in order to enjoy it and we sometimes want a challenge, and also the classic ‘this is a configuration screwup’ possibility. It also has occured to me – and I think it’s actually probably pretty likely – that we exist as a side effect of some other process and we’re not actually supposed to exist at all, therefore any system administrators that might exist in the universe have no idea we’re here.

Anyway, it’s also possible we have a incompetent God. But what we clearly *do not* have is a ethical, omnipotent, omnicient God who loves us.

Another good indicator of this is the plethora of religions, many of which encourage awful behavior. Even Christianity apparently failed to stop a number of atrocities of being done in its name, including:

1) The crusades
2) Criminalization of not believing in Christianity – in the middle ages, I would have been put to death for failure to believe. Of course, in the USA, we did something very similar in the 50s with McCarthy
3) Repeated repression of anyone who behaves in “un-christian” ways, including criminalization of things which should not be illegal just because Christians don’t like them

But, beyond this, all these “There can be only one” religions increase the risk of wars – and they’re not likely to all be true. And it would be pretty horrific if they were. Since all the “there can only be one” religions have different tenants, they can’t all be true (well, barring certain multiple reality possibilities).

It is a interesting question, though – God might just believe in freedom of the press. And not care how many people get hurt. but that makes the claim of being omniscient, omnipotent, and loving us again seem unlikely.

Variations on a theme : protecting incorrect core beliefs in a NNN

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020

So, I’ve been reading Thinking Fast And Slow, which talks about several things that I’ve already thought about considerably, but from the perspective of considerably more research than I’ve done about them. One of the things it’s underlined for me is the idea that our brains have both configuration that is still flexible and configuration that has been compiled – well, actually hardwired, via interconnections between neurons – so that it can run at sub-second speeds. As a musician I am trying very hard to make the connection between the music I imagine and what my fingers do be built this way – at the moment, it is for my right hand but not for my left.

Anyway, one of the things I’ve been thinking about is the right wing’s continued defense of Trump even though he’s obviously a abomination. One of my friends, out of ways to defend Trump directly, has a never-ending series of ad-hominem attacks for Biden. This is the same friend who was once talking about how we shouldn’t have government healthcare because it could involve the government paying for a citizen’s mistake even though he’s only alive because the government assisted him after he did something fairly boneheaded.

So I’ve been thinking about that, and about how we parrot the statements of our peers and the talking heads on the television without thinking about them, and part of what I’m contemplating is that we may do such things as part of the process that defends our core beliefs even when we know they’re wrong.

See, it takes a certain amount of neurochemical resources to rebalance our neural networks – one of the things that ends up happening is that subnets that become a large nexus point between interconnects are still relevant even if they represent a belief that’s been disproved, because other firing patterns still pass through them. Now, of course, as with things like a closed-head injury, there are systems in place to arrange for alternate wiring, however that process must be pace-limited by the fact that it’s actually consuming resources – making wiring connections between neurons in a human brain is *not* free – *firing* is not even free, it involves uptake of chemicals that must later be released and so there’s a limited amount of it that can happen for any given amount of time.

As a result, I would imagine we have evolved defense mechanisms that will protect core beliefs that large amounts of neural circuitry are routing through *even when we ourselves know they are wrong*. I wonder if that’s part of what’s going on with my friend, since the alternative involves him having a deep lack of self-awareness.

I also wonder – one of the things in general that’s difficult to absorb and understand about the right is how they can over and over see their cherished points of view being obviously proved false (the laffer curve, for example) and then go back ot them. ANd I wonder how much of that is the above phenomenon, and what sorts of checks and balances one needs to have in place to correct for the fact that humans will cling to beliefs that are provably wrong.

One part of what’s going on with this election is that people on the right are accusing nearly all news channels of being ‘fake news’ – so they are living in a alternate reality where Trump isn’t a evil bastard who steals from vendors and from the american people, is in massive debt, has routinely acted abysmally towards woman, is probably a white supremacist, and lies constantly. Instead, everything the media says is “leftist lies”. Now part of what’s alarming to me is this demonstrates they have no memory, because we can point to things like Trump’s handling of COVID as demonstrating that he’s making statements that provably turn out not to be true in ways we can all remember. What’s also alarming is even after Trump completely flubs COVID due to treating it kind of like the right treats global warming, the right will continue to go on about the “global warming hoax” – even though other science-y things demonstrated the scientists were right, they won’t recognize the pattern and start to listen to science. These people are not in touch with reality and they don’t know it and (possibly because of the above) there is no way to put them in touch with reality. I am not sure what the solution is going forward but I am starting to think freedom of the press should be slightly abridged such that things like Fox and Friends must actively say at the beginning of each show “This is entertainment only. We are going to lie to you. None of what we are saying is true.” or some such.

Sharing and the twilight zone

Monday, September 14th, 2020

So, this is going to be another of those multifaceted and meandering posts. It will definitely fall at least somewhat under the tinfoil hat heading.

First of all, I was having a conversation with a somewhat right leaning friend and it underlined for me, not for the first time, how scary the situation we’re in is. Numerous people on the right have been trying to stir up fear and anger over a number of things, and they’ve clearly succeeded. The willingness of the right to publish utter fiction and claim it as fact has gotten to be a big problem. No, antifa isn’t starting fires, no, antifa isn’t marxist, no, BLM isn’t marxist, yes, it is possible to be in favor of a increased level of socialism without being marxist.

(I’ve talked about elsewhere how we need a new -ism, since everything we’ve tried so far doesn’t work. Lately I’ve been thinking about how the command and control aspect of any society needs to have a whole lot of active protection against corruption because every human enterprise seems to, entropy-like, move steadily more towards corruption)

 

Anyway, one thing the right loves to do is conflate the social safety net democracy ideals of Bernie with the authoritarian ideals of i.e. CCP, CCCP, etc. I know it’s incredibly tempting to mix the resource allocation system and command and control axises – after all, most people can’t think about there being several different things going on here – but it is, ultimately, a lie – and part of how the powers that be get away with a lot of the awful they get away with.

 

It’s funny that so many find the idea of socialism so frightening since at it’s root, all it is is the idea that we share. Of course, there’s a lot of places where earth is dramatically against sharing that it would be a far better place if it was for sharing. Think about how many relationships have ended because of ‘cheating’ – we are wired to fall in love more than once, but the very stupid memetics this place runs on try their hardest to program us to think sharing is bad – and not just in a sexual partner sense. This whole anti-immigrant thing is a dramatic case of us being terrified at the idea of sharing. It’s really rather sad.

 

I was thinking while I was doing some experimenting with chord progressions earlier today how if I were running a country that had a whole lot of people wanting to move to it, i’d be tryign to come up with the technologies to welcome those people with open arms, and not to have any shortages. However, we seem to love the resource allocation system of idiocy and we’re determined to make sure Earth doesn’t turn into a utopia no matter what – so we skid steadily more dystopic.

 

Anyway, one of the thoughts I wanted to talk about is that I talk a lot about how we have enough computing power in our minds to render reality out of whole cloth, and I talk about wanting to be able to control this so I can experience specific realities – and I talk about this as being one of the forms of real wealth that is far more valuable than dollars (with the other form being friends) – but, one possible explanation for the steadily more bizarre relations between the left and right is that in fact all of us are always in realities rendered by our minds and just trading data back and forth to appear in each other’s experiences, and the right is dreaming a dramatically different dream than the left. It seems believable to me that there are in fact two different realities, and the people being led by i.e. Rush and Trump etc are living in a different reality than I am. It’s possible that lies *create* new realities, even, especially if enough people believe them.

 

Anyway, the whole situation is rather scary.. I wonder what my friend would think if he could see the Black Lives Matter flag I fly. Probably he would not be surprised since I have told him I’m to the left of Bernie. (I literally want to create a new resource allocation system – actually i’d probably create several and then have each state vote on which one they’d like to test out, and then let states change as it became clear which one was the winning system)