How does human attitude change from a crave for earning money to serving society?

How does human attitude change from a crave for earning money to serving society?

[ 28/7/20 ]

There are many ways in which the values and actions of an individual can evolve over time.

One that takes a lot of work delving into mathematics, logic, systems and biology is to understand how evolution by natural selection actually works in the systemic sense of allowing new levels of complexity to emerge.

When one looks very closely at that, then it becomes clear that all new levels of complexity are based upon new levels of cooperation.

New levels of complexity, new domains of freedom, can only emerge and stabilise in cooperative contexts. Competition will always tend, over time, to destroy complexity and remove freedom. The mathematics and logic of that are inescapable.

And every new level of complexity and cooperation requires sets of cheat detection and cheat removal strategies to survive, and that is always an evolving ecosystem in itself (at every level).

Being human is in the systemic sense, being a stack of at least 15 levels of such sets of cooperative complex adaptive systems (not 15 systems, 15 levels of systems, each level built upon the base provided by the level below).

Thus if one does put in the time and effort to understand (at least at the broad brush stroke level) how those systems necessarily require boundaries for their existence, then one can see the general form of the necessary sets of boundaries required for any real and survivable expression of freedom.

When one does that, then it becomes clear that the security and freedom of any is optimised by delivering security and freedom to all.

In the presence of fully automated systems, market based economics fails completely and become the single largest source of existential level risk to the cooperative that is humanity.

In what may seem paradoxical to many, the greatest degrees of security and freedom for any are only available when individuals acknowledge their responsibilities for maintaining the boundaries required to ensure cooperation of all. And those boundaries are eternally uncertain and changing, and require ongoing work and judgement by all involved. The systems are of such an order of complexity that any set of rules must necessarily fail in some contexts. There must eternally be an aspect of trial and error, of probing the system and seeing how it responds, of responsibly testing the limits.

When one accepts and practices those responsibilities, then it is clear that the best way to serve one’s self interest in the longest possible term is to work for the interests of all, accepting all the uncertainty that necessarily comes with that.

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Is a perfect society possible or even desirable?

Is a perfect society possible or even desirable?

[ 25/7/20 ]

If you mean something static – then no.

If you mean something that respects individual sapient life, and the liberty of all such sapient entities, and provides a cooperative basis where all individuals have the tools and resources they need to responsibly exercise their individuality and creativity, then yes – that is both achievable and desirable.

How do we get there?

We must start by removing some of the false myths that currently masquerade as truth:

The idea that market value is a reasonable proxy for value more generally.

The idea that evolution is all about competition.

The idea that competitive markets are a friend to liberty.

The idea that rules are always appropriate.

We must replace them with more accurate approximations to reality.

We must realize that in the presence of fully automated systems, markets concentrate wealth and remove options from most at an ever increasing rate. Markets cannot give a positive value to any universally abundant entity. Human beings require an abundance of all essentials. Markets cannot deliver abundance to all – not in and of their own internal incentive structures.

Once one delves deeply into the emergence of new levels of complexity in an evolutionary context, then it becomes clear that all new levels of complexity require new levels of cooperation to emerge. And Axelrod demonstrated in the 60s that every level of complexity demands effective cheat detection and removal strategies if it is to survive. These rapidly evolve into ecosystems at every level. So it is much more accurate to say that every new level of complexity is built on a new level of cooperation. Thus we, as the most complex entities yet in existence, are also by definition the most cooperative entities yet in existence. And it is a reality that our survival is dependent upon our ability to cooperate. And all systems demand a minimum set of boundaries to maintain form. Thus liberty must respect the necessary boundaries for survival at each level. There is no reasonable doubt remaining that in the presence of open systems and unknown unknowns that the greatest security for all is delivered by cooperation. We are in such a system – contrary to popular dogma.

The idea that markets promoted liberty was a reasonable approximation when most things were genuinely scarce, and when most people could support their existence and find reasonable degrees of security and freedom with some reasonable fraction of their time and energy. Automation has changed that. Automation allows exponential differentials of power and performance. That cannot end well in a competitive context – it is only a matter of time until competition destroys the conditions necessary for its own survival.

While boundaries are necessary for survival at every level, the idea that those boundaries can be encapsulated in any set of rules is an over simplification of complexity. At higher levels of complexity, the necessary boundaries are something like morality, and that demands of each of us an eternal exploration of the borders of the known and unknown spaces the must eternally remain. There can be no rule set that is always appropriate to all contexts. We must each be responsible to our highest values if we are to survive.

This to me, seems to be a reasonable approximation to the closest that we are allowed to perfection.

There must eternally be uncertainty and risk, and through cooperation we can reduce them to the minimum possible.

And everyone needs to understand something of just how complex and amazing this reality we find ourselves in seems to be. Enough to keep us all interested for the balance of eternity.

And we all need to accept that real freedom always results in diversity, all levels, eternally. If we fail to accept and embrace that, we fail to honour liberty.

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What is the most impactful problem to solve for humanity’s future today?

What is the most impactful problem to solve for humanity’s future today?

[ 18/7/20 ]

Indefinite life extension, which requires molecular level manufacturing technology, which is required for other things too.

Once all people have the option of living on indefinitely, with reasonable degrees of both security and freedom, then the incentive structures present in society change, and it becomes in everyone’s personal self interest to think about the long term impacts of actions.

We need all people to make their best efforts to do such long term thinking.

We need to acknowledge that freedom and security are both maximized in cooperative contexts, and we need to be realistic that cooperation requires sets of strategies to detect and remove cheating strategies if it is to survive.

We need to acknowledge that competitive systems remove both security and freedom in the long term.

We need to develop technologies that recycle everything, and minimize our destructive impacts on the natural ecosystems that we both need and enjoy.

We need to recognize and accept that diversity is the necessary product of freedom.

There is no requirement that life be simple – it is not.

We all have a tendency to over simplify complexity. To some degree that is inevitable and necessary, and if taken too far it is always dangerous.

We need to see that markets and money are very dangerous ideas in the presence of advanced automated technology, thus we need to move past using them as primary valuation mechanisms, and restrict their use to the domains where they are genuinely useful approximations to something.

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Is ignorance the biggest catastrophe in our society today?

Is ignorance the biggest catastrophe in our society today?

[ 18/7/20 ]


We are all, eternally and necessarily ignorant to some significant degree – the more one actually learns of mathematics and logic and cosmology and biology the more one begins to appreciate the necessary depths of ignorance.

One of the major problems we have is the flip side of that coin, the arrogance that comes from ignorance and over simplification of complexity. And to some degree some of that is necessary, as reality often demands of all of us that we make rapid decisions on very little information, and has done so since life emerged, so the subconscious processes and structures of our brain do that for us, leading to us experiencing as “reality” something that is already many orders of magnitude simplified from what seems to actually be out there beyond our perceptions and experiences. In this sense it seems beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that we all live in our own personal virtual realities within the larger objective reality, and must necessarily always do so. Awareness of that fact can bring a certain humility to discussions with someone using a very different set of models.

The many levels of “structure” within brain and culture that push us towards social agreement over trust in our own sets of distinctions and abstractions and awareness are a big part of the problem. This tends to make “being right” in the social sense far more important to most people than actually being in agreement with reality (whatever it actually is).

One of the biggest catastrophes of our society is the use of AI algorithms on social media and advertising platforms to optimise feeds for the simple metric of attention time on screen. These algorithms know nothing of the historical significance and relevance of the many levels and sets of biases in our brains, but they do in fact exploit them to get eyes on screen time (and thence probability of spend at some level). The effect of this is to amplify difference. People end up in echo chambers of like minded people; and small errors that in the past would have been smoothed out by normal social interaction with trusted people with different sets of understanding, no longer have those sets of interactions, and so the difference amplify.

We see this process driving people to extremes on simple polarities that are themselves simplifications of hugely more dimensional structures.

Those ways of thinking self reinforce, as they tend to exclude anything that doesn’t reinforce their pet bias (whatever it happens to be).

One might naively think of this as ignorance, and in one sense it is, but in another sense it is intentional exploitation of ignorance for very short term gain with huge long term risk.

More people need to understand the mathematical and logical necessity underpinning the emergence of all levels of complexity in evolved systems:
complexity can only emerge and survive in cooperative contexts.

Competitive contexts always lead (over the long term) to the destruction of complexity and the removal of freedom.

Modern economic dogma that evolution is all about the creative aspect of competition could not be more wrong if it tried. And that subject is deeply complex – even for someone like me who has spent over 50 years exploring it.

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Foresight – Key Issues In Near Term AI Safety Research – Aryeh L Englander, Daniel Elton,

Foresight – Key Issues In Near Term AI Safety Research | Aryeh L Englander, Daniel Elton, Ph D

[ 17/7/20 ]

At 43:40 Dan starts talking about applicability domain analysis.

That is all well and good if one is in a cooperative environment and one has the time to do that analysis.

If one is in a competitive environment, then an agent that is well trained and does not do a domain applicability analysis will always out perform one that does (all other things being roughly equal).

Thus this form of safety analysis is viable in cooperative domains, but fails in competitive ones.

Current economic and political dogma is that competition is good.

Competition can be “good” in the general case if (and only if) the fundamental systemic base is cooperative.

This is not the case with current societal systems.

Introducing these systems into today’s competitive social systems is instantiating existential level risk – no ifs buts or otherwise.

These systems can be safe only in cooperative systems. That means ensuring that every person on the planet has what they consider reasonable levels of security, freedom and empowerment.

That isn’t all that technically difficult to deliver, but it does break the current economic system of markets and money.

This is the defining issue of our age.

We either solve it, or we go extinct.

There really isn’t any half measure – we are in fact that technologically inventive.

Many more people need to see and appreciate this simple fact.

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Picture of child holding a placard “Take your mask off because God’s got you covered”

[ 16/7/20 Picture of child holding a placard “Take your mask off because God’s got you covered”]

It seems beyond reasonable doubt that all understandings of reality are necessarily simplifications of the complexity and fundamental uncertainty that seems to actually exist.

It also seems beyond reasonable doubt that evolution has of necessity produced subconscious systems in our brains that simplify that complexity down to something simple enough for us to make some sort of sense of it as a conscious experience of reality.

And the idea of an ineffable god is a reasonable approximation to such complexity in many contexts.

And our immune systems don’t function well if we are constantly stressed, so being able to relax and trust does actually have many survival benefits in many contexts.

And even allowing for all of that – I agree that is one seriously messed up photo.

Wearing masks helps to reduce the probability of transmission.

Washing hands frequently with alcohol based sanitisers works better.

Both are needed.

Identification and isolation of all infected people is essential to eliminate the virus.

We managed to do it in New Zealand, No cases of community transmission for two months now.

Maybe “God has given you masks and hand sanitiser – use them.” is an appropriate response.

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What are the human rights that need to be protected in our community and in society?

What are the human rights that need to be protected in our community and in society?

[ 16/7/20 ]

The simple answer is:

1/ Individual sapient life;
2/ Individual liberty of all sapient individuals (human or non-human, biological or non biological).

And that immediately gets complex, because valuing life and liberty imposes responsibilities.

All forms of life involve complex systems.

In an evolutionary context, every new level of complexity requires the emergence and stabilisation of a new level of cooperation (with all the complexity of associated strategic ecosystems required to detect and remove “cheating” strategies) {competition destroys both liberty and complexity, driving systems to some set of minima on the available complexity landscape}.

The simplest form of self aware human existence seems to require the presence of at least 15 levels of such sets of complex adaptive systems.

There is nothing simple about sapient life.

Every level of complexity has necessary sets of boundary conditions for its continuation.

So by the time you get to complex societies of individuals like the ones we exist in, that allow for the emergence of the symbolic language we are using, and sets of abstractions those symbols point to, and the tools and technologies that allow for this form of communication, there are about 20 levels of cooperative systems present that have necessary minima sets of boundaries required for their existence – and any real expression of freedom must be responsive to and responsible for those, if it is to put existence first and actually survive in the long term.

Human complexity is fundamentally cooperative – necessarily – despite economic and biological dogma to the contrary. And it cannot continue to exist without responsibility.

And it seems that the reality in which we live has many classes of fundamental uncertainty and fundamental unpredictability; so in all cases there is uncertainty about exactly what a minimal set of required boundary conditions actually is at any level or in any specific context.

So there is nothing simple about claiming rights or being responsible in our society.

Any given set of systems that has survived some reasonable span of evolutionary time will of necessity have embodied some approximation to such a minimal set of boundary conditions, expressed in some sets of rules or practices or heuristics or subconscious tendencies at some level. That applies as much to levels of culture and religion and ethics as it does to levels of chemical or cellular or multicellular life.

So yeah – life and liberty, and they rapidly get very much more complex than that – with Maslow’s hierarchy being a useful approximation to a basic set in most contexts for most people.

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What would it take for a society to accept that there is no scarcity? Is the change required technological or social? In other words, is human nature capable of accepting that scarcity does not exist? What would push them to that conclusion?

What would it take for a society to accept that there is no scarcity? Is the change required technological or social? In other words, is human nature capable of accepting that scarcity does not exist? What would push them to that conclusion?

[ 15/7/20 ]

We would need to stop using markets to measure value.

Markets measure exchange value.

Exchange value always has a scarcity component.

Air has no exchange value, as we all have all we need. Does anyone think that air has no value.

It is the insanity of our age that we attempt to arbitrage all different values into a single scarcity based metric – money. The internal incentive structure of doing that is driving poverty for the majority.

Automation allows us to meet the reasonable needs of everyone for all the essentials of life with very little input, but the demands of the money system prevent that from happening.

Human beings are complex beyond the capacity of anyone to appreciate in detail.

Our money system is complex to a degree that takes considerable familiarity with complex mathematics and logics and systems to begin to understand.

The necessity of oversimplifying complex systems in order to reach some sort of conclusion in the time and energy available means most people think that things are far more simple than they actually are.

The major key to going beyond scarcity, with security, is to have individual sapient life as one’s highest value, followed by the freedom of all such individuals to do whatever they responsibly choose – where responsibility means making reasonable efforts to avoid any risk to the life or liberty of others (which by implication means the environment that supports us all) from the reasonably foreseeable consequences of one’s actions.

In this sense, freedom without responsibility is necessarily self terminating.

So that can only work if everyone who wishes to claim a freedom has done the work required to be able to make such reasonable assessments reliably. As one moves up the levels of abstraction and awareness available, communication and assessment of such things gets exponentially more difficult.

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On Jordan Peterson & The Hidden Epidemic, Rebel Wisdom

YouTube – On Jordan Peterson & The Hidden Epidemic, Rebel Wisdom

[ 13/7/20 ]

Mostly great – but I have a real issue with the parting comment, about the problem being the reductionist world view.

I would say that the problem has been an overly simplistic reductionist world view, combined with a value system based in scarcity (market value) where anything abundant has zero value by definition.

When you actually look deeply into biology or strategy or mathematics or computation or cosmology, then you find irreducible complexity, eternal unknowns, fundamental uncertainty, systems that cannot be predicted, and perhaps even true randomness.

Once someone starts to appreciate how profoundly complex people and the wider reality within which we exist actually must be, and how simplified and simplistic any experience or understanding we may have of it necessarily is; then the only response is one that demands a certain level of humility, as one comes face to face with complexity beyond the capacity of any mind to comprehend. That seems to be a reasonable approximation to the notion of an ineffable deity. And to be 100% clear, I have been a confirmed skeptic for about 60 years.

We need to have profound respect for just how amazing human level agency can be. As anyone seriously into the AI community can attest, it is really complex, and almost certainly subject to levels of evolutionarily selected subtlety that we have barely begun to explore. Many of the old mythic ideas are almost certainly wrong in detail, and many of them are a very close metaphorical approximation to something that takes decades of work to begin to glimpse.

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Is there a single thing that proves humanity still has a chance at living together peacefully across all races?

Is there a single thing that proves humanity still has a chance at living together peacefully across all races?

[ 13/7/20 ]

The fact that we exist.

The fact that you thought the question worth asking, and thereby demonstrated that you value peace.

We have many problems.

Our potential for destruction and war is high. For our long term security that potential needs to be decreased, but the existing economic systems are strongly incentivised to keep that potential present.

We need more people to start accepting the multiple levels of responsibility that come with valuing life and liberty. Any concept of liberty that does not include responsibility, and does not rank life (all sapient life) above liberty, is a threat to both life and liberty, and must be treated as such. The mathematics and logic of that is beyond any reasonable doubt or dispute.

The evolution of every level of complexity is predicated on new levels of cooperation.

We are the most complex thing we know of – thus our very existence is predicated on multiple levels of cooperation. The myth that society is based on competition is just that – pure myth, without foundation in reality. Competition is destructive of both liberty and complexity. We need both liberty and complexity to survive.

We live in very complex and very dangerous times.

All human brains, under threat, simplify their perceptual reality – it is inbuilt to the structure of brain. Reality will appear simple to us when we are stressed, that does not mean that it is simple – ever.

And often reality demands that we respond rapidly on very sparse information.

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