Watching the movie Amy has me thinking about addiction and neural networks.

I suspect that despite the simplistic observation that we have free will, what we actually have is free will in building the structure of our minds, which then informs our decisions.

I further suspect that there is a ratio between our memories of the initial results of a decision and our memories of the long term results of that decision that affect the ‘dice’ we throw when making them. (basically, this ratio controls whether we, in AA parlance, “Play the tape all the way to the end.”). In most cases, overusing drugs has a high initial score in terms of knowing that it is going to have pleasurable results, or at least at one point in time did so, while it has a very low overall score insofar as we know that the long term results will not be good. The long term results also probably form a very large probability distribution (as, realistically, anything that you do repeatedly will tend to have, because life is full of surprises) while the short term results probably fit in a much smaller probability distribution (i.e. the initial results tend to follow predictable patterns, where as the long term results tend to be chaotic)

What does that look like in neural network land? Well, the subnets that have the long term results stored are not in as good a position to be predictive as the subnets that have the short term results stored. So, you need to have the ability to do some classing of resultsets. Normally, I eschew black and white thinking, but in avoiding addiction, it’s a very useful skill – PROVIDED you’re using it in the right direction. What you do NOT want to do is use black and white thinking to prove to yourself that you’ve failed. (There’s no winning percentage in kicking yourself). Instead, you need to use black-and-white thinking to filter the large probability distribution of all the memories of previous long term results into basic classes of ‘good’ vs ‘bad’ – now this likely doesn’t happen in a way that you can immediately see on the surface, so this article is really only useful for those of you who are into modifying the structure of your mind and have learned a fair amount of how to do it. Anyway, filtering in that way will let you ‘play the tape all the way to the end’ in parallel and average the results even though they’re all over the map. Done correctly, this can be a powerful tool.

In terms of measuring success vs failure, what you want to do is filter the other direction. If you delayed using by even a minute, if your actions matched your intentions more than the last time you walked through this cycle, you’re succeeding. And you want to champion your successes, because NNNs learn much more easily by success than by failure. (There’s a very good reason for this, which I will likely go into in a future article – you might say it’s a design feature)

It might be interesting and informative for me to go through all the classic cognitive distortions here to figure out what I would guess they look like in a NNN.

Unrelated note:

One thing that really stands out to me in the movie is that Amy would probably have been okay if her label had not considered her contractional obligations more important than her life. In general, this is a flaw we repeatedly see in corperations, and I think it would go away if everyone in the world understood the milgram effect and fought it, instead choosing to do what I would describe, with apologies to Mookey and the trash can, as doing the right thing.

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