500 hours

October 18th, 2021

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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.

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.

Christians worship Loki

September 30th, 2021

I have tried and tried, and I cannot come to any conclusion other than Christians worship Loki, and all of humanity’s memetics suffer for it.

I mean, consider, they worship a god that’s using a genetic algorithm to design bodies – as a side effect of this, we can safely bet there will be all sorts of things encouraging sex – starting out with it feeling good, then adding in that males (and for all I know females, no one tells me these things) experience stronger and stronger irrationality when they’re not having it regularly – and yet has declared sex a sin. Our perfect all knowing God is deliberately setting us up to lose and then blaming us for it?

They’re also worshipping a God who arranged for there to be a whole plethora of equally probable (or if you prefer improbable) religions but will only reward you for picking the right one. If you happen to be of a certain evangelical stripe, you also think God will torture you for all eternity for picking the wrong one.

And, of course, we have a God who is nowhere to be found – of course because of the way our minds work if you listen real hard you will hear signals that are not there, but as far as signals that clearly are, God does not appear to have a phone number, a email address, or be saying anything meaningful that everyone can agree on. In addition, we *know* humans make up stories when it benefits them, and we know that Christianity benefits the priests – who of course push it harder than anyone. So God is asking us to believe something that is on the face of it extremely improbable. Hello, Loki?

Of course, it gets better. You have young earth christians who believe God created fake dinosaur bones and fossils and even fake but completely internally consistent science like carbon dating just to fool you. Heh heh heh! To lead you *away* from having a good outcome when you die.

I’m serious, can you all not see the trickster-god-ness about all this?

Now, if we had memetics that *matched* the fact that we’re wired to fall in love more than once, and also didn’t try to punish individuals for having sex, and also encouraged decisions that lead to greater happiness for individuals and for the race, Earth could very easily be a paradise. Instead, though, we have people trying their hardest to imply that hedonism is a sin, is wrong and bad, and that you should wait for your pie in the sky by and by. As Utah Phillips said, my my, that’s a lie.

I of course want my society to not push monogamy as the one true way, and to take care of everyone’s children – and everyone. To keep everyone housed and fed whether they want to do something productive or not. To not punish people for “crimes” that hurt no one but them, and to try to lead people towards love. To encourage people to enlarge their family when people “cheat” instead of breaking more hearts and leading to more sadness. To stop behaving as if lovers are each other’s property. To not ask people to behave in ways that are contrary to human nature. And so on, and so forth.

I do also seriously think we would be better off with a decentralized authority system than with any system that made one entity control everything. I also think it’s interesting that Christians have declared that God is static – unable to think, unable to transition between states. I tend to think if there is a God or Gods, they’re bigger neural networks than we are. This, of course, puts me at odds with anyone who thinks that God could make a mistake.

(Again, with the loki thing, we are born *tabla rasa*. There are multiple ways for God to get perfect beings that are exactly what GOd wants. One is to have them born with the neural structures already in place to behave the way God wants and the other is to use something like a computer instead of something like a NNN. One presumes God knows this, being all-knowing and all that. God is punishing us for being what we made us. Christians will assure us over and over that it’s man’s bad, fallen nature that is why God doesn’t like man, that in fact Jesus was the perfect human and everyone else is awful and needs Jesus’s death to redeem them. OK, I call bullshit on *so many levels* on that:

#1: God is setting the rules. Therefore a sensible, moral God would say “no one needs to die for people to be forgiven”. Now, I realize most Christians deny God free will and say “God is just. Therefore he has to kill his own son to forgive us.”. Translation: God is less capable of changing his mind, growing, or ethical behavior than humans. [This is a common problem I have – Christians appear to me to put God in too small a box. Then they’ll assure me that “But you are not God!”. The next person who says this I’m going to respond with “Prove it.” – Not that I think I *am* God, but I think they aren’t either and neither are the people who wrote this whole mess. Either that, or we all are, but I don’t see much divine about Christianity except the words of Jesus himself – and not even all of those.]

#2: God created us to be what we are, or at least left a mechanism in place and running that led to our creation. Perhaps *e didn’t expect a evolutionary algorithm to exhibit signs of free will but this definitely calls bullshit on the whole “omnicient” thing

#3: There is NOTHING I have done in my life that warrants killing someone to forgive. I’ve made some mistakes, as have we all, as we are destined to do because we start out blank and our options are to either make mistakes or do nothing at all. NNNs learn by making mistakes and then integrating the results of them.

#4: The whole “Jesus died therefore you are forgiven but only if you believe in Jesus” thing makes no sense, no matter what you do. It seems like most Christians finally just turn off part of their brain so they can believe it, but there’s no logical series of steps there. I sometimes think it was *supposed* to not make sense, because it’s part of a virus crafted to disable part of the infectee’s brain

Yes, I realize this was a very long parenthetical.)

While we’re talking about confusing stuff, we’re supposed to be afraid of Satan, because Satan is trying to lead us into a life of sin. Why? Because he wants company in Hell? Are we *sure* Heaven is better than Hell? The description I heard of Heaven from a young earth christian made it sound like wireheading, and we already know that ultimately wireheading turns out to be unsatisfactory. It turns out just being forever perfectly happy isn’t what creatures that are part of time want – we *want* the story, the narriative, etc.

I was always afraid of Satan because I thought he wanted to torment me, and indeed the Satan in my head – probably constructed out of neurons in response to my parents’ forced religious indoctronation – does seem to often do exactly that – when he isn’t trying to jam communications with other entities. But the *real* Satan presumably is being tortured himself – or else it turns out that a complete absence of God is actually quite a livable state and maybe even enjoyable in it’s own way. If God is convinced that everything but monastic life in prayer is sin, then maybe I’d enjoy hell more than heaven. If hell is deliberately painful, though, then I start to question both God’s motives and God’s ethics. Which leads us right back to..

YOU CHRISTIANS ARE WORSHIPPING LOKI!

September 29th, 2021

I do sometimes feel like I was born in the wrong place or time, but I have to admit there are many worse places I could have landed in. My pro-collectivism attitude would have ensured I was unemployed and homeless in the 50s thanks to McCarthy. My anti-Christian attitudes would have gotten me *hung* in the middle ages, and my mental illness would have gotten me shot by the cops by now if I were black. All of this does underline the fact that we have more freedom than we ever have, but that we also have a long way to go.

Why to play fair in war, especially cold wars

September 28th, 2021

So, recently on facebook on the Heinlein discussion group I had discussed the fundamental hypocrisy of the USA threatening the USSR over the missiles they placed in cuba when we had missiles placed in europe equally close to the USSR and ready to threaten their homes.

Someone in the group had said essentially that one should not try to play fair in war, that you should do whatever you can do to win.

Now, shortly after this I decided to take a facebreak, so I never posted my rebuttal there. However, I”m going to post it here, because I think it’s a important idea to think about.

No, you should not take unfair advantage, *especially* in a cold war. Even Heinlein recognized this – in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress he did not have the colonists drop their kinetic energy weapons on every city in the world even though they clearly could have wiped out 90% of humanity with the first drop. Prof’s reason was sanity itself “Whenever possible, always leave room for your enemy to become your friend.”. The same sanity appears in Crimson Tide “The enemy is war itself”.

This is *especially* important in the nuclear age, but it was important even before then. A endless serious of escalations will eventually leave everybody blind and will lead to a never-ending war. The USA unfortunately has a thuggish attitude when it comes to the rest of the world and has no problem with using force when it’s not appropriate. For this, we leave our children with a unpayable debt- eventually our country will be forced to default or disband, or we will need to change the way we think about money. For this, we have the ability to wipe all humanity off earth just by launching a third of the fusion weapons we have mounted on ICBMs. (One might say one proof there is a God is that WWIII hasn’t happened – although this may just prove that quantum immortality is a fact)

You cannot do whatever it takes to win. Sometimes you have to accept that losing now is better than losing later in a much larger way. The Geneva Conventions, which the USA has violated over and over, recognize this fact, as well as the fact that civilians should not be forced to suffer because of the awfulness of leaders. Unfortunately because we have the biggest gun, our government can not be put in the slammer, but that is undoubtedly where it belongs for repeated crimes against humanity.

I will also mention that in a cold war, it’s *especially* important to play fair. The best outcome of a cold war is massive technological innovation and no actual hostilities. The USA and the USSR didn’t manage this – we had a series of proxy wars that killed millions and did untold damage to ecosystems. Hopefully a future performance test between collectivism and individualism will be less damaging to the world and the people in it.

..

September 28th, 2021

So, while watching You Don’t Know Jack, I pondered about how the religious are almost always on the wrong side of every issue. Over time, the people figure this out, but they always slow down the growth of humanity.

Naturally the religious are on the wrong side of assisted suicide – abortion – gay marriage – whether the earth orbits the sun or vice versa, even.

My natural tendency is to blame religion but I’m starting to contemplate whether I’m looking at this backwards. Perhaps religion is not the cause but rather the symptom, and the cause is a neural network that resonates with wrong ideas. (in some cases just wrong in that they’re inherently internally inconsistent, wrong in some cases in that they discard empathy and throw fellow humans under the bus, and wrong in some cases in that they are demonstrably factually incorrect)

This clearly is conservativism – how many times have they tried the Laffer curve in the hopes that maybe this time Lucy won’t pull away the football? How many times do they insist the problem is the immigrants when in fact the immigrants add enormous value to the society and have a much lower rate of crime than native citizens?

One question is whether that structure is something that can change. I tend to think it’s probably not.. it’s probably compiled in via neural structures on a level below that which most people can access. Conservatives can’t see that they’re wrong, any more than religious can see the inherent contradictions in their religion. I’m sure I have similar blindness lurking somewhere, but of course I can’t know where it is either.

And another..

September 28th, 2021

One thing that is dramatic and scary is how quickly Americans are willing to watch their government throw away the bill of rights. (Except, of course, the second :)) I’m watching a history of the communist party in America and it’s incredible to what extent the government tried to outlaw a *idea*, and punished people for having that idea. It’s also similarly impressive how quickly half of Americans embraced facism when Trump showed up – and still can’t acknowledge to this day – even after a armed insurrection to overthrow the result of a free and fair election – that that’s what they embraced.

The bill of rights represents a set of ideals that we should try to live up to. It is true that from time to time we will slip – and from time to time safety may require placing some limits (i.e. not equipping citizens with nuclear bombs, no matter what the second amendment says) – but we should all act, by removing leaders who are encouraging overthrowing the ideas mentioned in the bill of rights. (This should be done by channels built within the system when possible, but at some point force may be necessary because of a willingness to cheat by both of the current sides). We have already lost the freedom to assemble – police regularly gas, mace, and beat up demonstrators who are peacefully assembling to petition the government for redress of grievances. And apparently in the 50s, we as a people allowed our leaders to go considerably further, and to outlaw ideas and to punish free speech and forbid association.

The truth is, if marxist or stalinist communism was superior, it should have been permitted to win. But it clearly wasn’t – events at the chernobyl power station demonstrate that stalinist communism had fatal flaws and would ultimately be relegated to the dustbin of history. (Any command and control axis that allows what is politically popular to override what is true in a nuclear power station without a containment system deserves to die a very quick death. Clearly the people in a control room “representing the interests of the party” should not have had any power at all – and yet they were able to bully board operators into doing suicidally stupid things. Of course, in America we’d probably see the same stupidity, but for money. Fortunately other forces – the fear of being sued into oblivion if you irradiate a few million civilians – mean we build nuclear power stations with containment systems so when they fail few radioactives get to escape)

However, we the people should be permitted to decide on our means of government – part of why I am so upset about Trump et al is not because Trump was a fascist, but because he did not have a majority and he still behaved as if he had a clear mandate. And, to underline the fact, he would never claim that he had won the popular vote in the second election, but he was willing to use violence to prevent the transfer of power.

So what gives? When is it appropriate to use violence, given that humans are wrong so often? It would have clearly been appropriate to use violence to *prevent* Trump from becoming a dictator, for example. And yet, one can look at cautionary tales like the USSR and the Nazis and McCarthyism and see that sometimes what is approved of by the majority is clearly wrong.

Hopefully it’s not a question I’ll have to come up with a firm answer to in the near future.

Side note

September 28th, 2021

One side note to the previous post – one major problem I see in general is that people tend to identify a political and resource allocation system, declare it perfect, and then fight for it. In the case of the USA we’re willing to commit mass murder to stop other countries from practicing collectivism, for example.

What we don’t do, and we *really should*, is figure out ways to testbed different systems and compare them with each other – and I don’t think that the ideal country is the one that can build the best weapons systems, but in general the current situation of the world has a number of people trying to optimize for this.

People have religious level attachment to systems of government – no one believes in testing, or in test-release cycles for things like laws. If we wrote code for applications the way we wrote laws, you wouldn’t even be able to get a working word processor written. In general one big problem is people believing they are right – and continuing to believe it even when proof they are wrong is shown to them.

This of course is part of the inherent limitations I talked about with NNNs, in the previous article. But we should build systems of government with the intention that we will check on the basic structure and tune it from time to time. It is not enough to vote in and out people to hold representative positions in a system that is itself failing to meet the needs of the users.

The implications of the limits of neural networks on political systems

September 28th, 2021

One of the things I’ve been thinking about a bit is the limitations of neural-network based life (i.e. us) and how they affect the political systems we form and our quest for something approximating a utopia.

Here are some of the more obvious limitations of NNNs:

1) “Unlearning” is difficult in general
2) Certain subjects (politics and religion) tend to end up compiled as hard structures and therefore be difficult to unlearn
3) The part of us that actually makes decisions and the part of us that explain the decisions we make are not that tightly coupled. Due to this, we will often explain our decisions in ways that are not correct even though we are not consciously lying.
4) Skills we don’t use tend to atrophy as the network repeatedly rebalances to reinforce and improve skills we do use. This in particular is a problem when we exercise too much power as we tend to lose our ability to empathize with people we have power over. Literally, authority causes brain damage – this is dramatically demonstrated time and time again throughout our society but we have made no real move to indoctrinate people into understanding that it is true or to change the structure of our society to be less hierarchical.. one study here.
5) While we as collective individuals are very good at identifying the source of information (internal vs external) – or at least think we are – individual subnets have a very difficult time doing so. Therefore people asserting authority can order us to do things that are wrong and we are very likely to do them anyway – see the Milgram effect.

I was pondering why I think that our best and most ideal political systems are not really implementable in the real world. I’ve talked about wanting a direct democracy where people only vote on the topics that interest them, and their vote is weighted based on demonstrated knowledge on the topic in question. There’s no way that the powers that be would ever willingly let go of their power, partially because they are brain damaged and do not realize they are – see #4.

People also are carefully in this country brainwashed to fear collectivism, mostly with appeals to emotion and faulty statements. In the real world resource allocation involves flows of resources, not flows of money, but we’re assured that any time someone gets a free meal it costs dollars out of our pockets.

I do think the most ideal resource allocation system would have a greater aspect of collectivism than the world we currently live in. I also do think that a direct democracy mixed with a meritocracy would result in the best possible governance. The advantages of using a more collectivist resource allocation system is that we could pursue mass automation without anyone starving or not being able to live indoors, and the advantage of a direct democracy which is also a meritocracy are legion and probably could be the subject of a entire series of articles. We’d have to start out by talking about the basic problems with representitive democracy, especially when limited to a two party system.

Anyway, it should be pretty clear why a direct democracy is preferable over a representative democracy considering #4. When speaking of collectivism, though, I think it is important to draw a distinction between communism and socialism.

I wish that I could believe otherwise, but I have to say that until and unless we can build a command and control system that isn’t subject to corruption, communism is a bad idea. The reason is that in a communist system, the resources belong to the state. We have yet to figure out how to build a trustworthy state – ideally I wouldn’t even allow the states of the world to own weapons of mass destruction.

Socialism is definitely a better idea (the resources belong to the workers) but one unfortunate tendency is that unethical individuals will claim to be leading a socialist revolution until they get into control and then it turns out their socialist revolution is actually a attempt to build a dictatorship or oligarchy.

Anyway, I think no matter what you do, you have to remember that it’s a bad idea to leave people in power for too long. We have seen in the united states a government that has run away into repeated acts of pure evil – starting wars over false pretenses and for profit, drone strikes that kill 10x the number of innocents that they kill targets – and we can go back further in time and see the government repeatedly destroy people’s lives for daring to promote collectivism, and willing to use a machine gun on workers who are striking for better conditions. We can see the government repeatedly break it’s word with the native americans. We can, over and over, see the government being horrible. And yet, there is no real attempt to fix it. At this point I think a lot of people recognize there is a problem, although one very big issue is that we do have two different utopias – at least!

Anyway, I hope that at some point we will run into a generation which will think about, as they are designing resource allocation systems and command and control systems – and please remember those are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS – communism, socialism, and capitalism are NOT political systems nor systems of command and control – dictatorship, monarchy, oligarchy, representative democracy, direct democracy are NOT resource allocation systems – and consider the limitations of humans as they design our path forward.

I also do think there is a large role for programmable computers in a future world. Just in representative democracy they can be used to draw the lines of districts but they can also help us run a direct democracy with discussion groups for individual topics, weighting and votes on individual topics, etc. I know that a number of people are concerned that such a system would disenfranchise the homeless and poor, but I think we could easily arrange to have computers in libraries to give people the access they need – and I also know that we could arrange for computers in prisons and that there are a lot of reasons to think that that would be a good idea.