Update to Money

Please see the Money tab above – did a complete new composition of 5,000 words today.

It says most of the important things I see right now with respect to money, as clearly as I have ever expressed them.

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The Hard Problem of Consciousness revisitied

Why The Hard Problem Of Consciousness Won’t Go Away

This attempt at communication is most unlikely to succeed, and I will give it my best shot.

In my understanding – the qualia of experience are accounted for, as the interaction of a software entity (our self awareness) with a software model of reality (what our subconscious brains create from past and present experience). The mistake that many people make is assuming that we experience reality directly. The evidence is now beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that we have no direct access to reality, all experience is mediated through a brain created model.

The other key idea to get is somewhat more difficult, and that is getting that reality is not causal, it only approximates causality (to many decimal digits in most situations).
It seems clear that the best evidence we have indicates that at the quantum level of the very very small, existence is stochastic, but within constraints. There are probability distributions, not hard causal certainty.
Summed over vast numbers, these distributions result in very close approximations to hard causality at the scale of normal human perception. Certainly close enough to build jet engines, supercomputers, sky-scrapers, and all the technology we see in existence.
And none of those things prove causality, they only demonstrate the degree of approximation of causality.

The shortest time period a human being can experience is about a hundredth of a second.
The smallest thing we can see with our naked eyes as a tiny indistinct dot against a background of a different colour, contains 10^17 atoms.
The sub atomic particles (if the word particle has any real meaning) or perhaps better described as the smallest entities of existence we currently have evidence for, can experience about 10^40 of their smallest time units in the shortest time a human can experience. Given the huge numbers involved, it is no surprise that humans experience something very close to hard causality most of the time. Those probability functions get very well populated by numbers like that, and while any single event might be random, and collection of 10^57 events forms a very predictable pattern.

So it seems that we live in a universe that is constrained randomness, and it delivers something very close to hard causality at the level of entities like ourselves.

It does appear, that in such a universe, that is stochastic (random) within probability distributions, that real freedom can exist.

I wrote an explanation of how qualia come to be, and what they are in a generalised sense about two and a half years ago:

If you want a more detailed explanation, follow that link.

And I need to be explicit, that I do not deal in truth.
It seems clear to me that the best I can hope for is a useful approximation to something. The idea that someone can model something accurately, and be 100% confident that their model is 100% accurate, is to me a nonsense. We may in fact at times model something accurately, and we could never be 100% certain of that. We might suspect, and if we are honest, there must always remain an element of doubt.

Having spent over 50 years studying living systems, and the matter from which they are made, I have some beginnings of an idea of just how complex even the simplest living cell is, and we are a vast collection of very complex cells that can and do take on many different forms and many different functions.

So consciousness takes a bit of work to understand, in broad brush terms, and it isn’t that difficult, in the same sense that understanding a modern computer isn’t that difficult, it is just a collection of seven basic circuits, mostly in repeated groups, with minor variations on a theme, and some of those variations are very significant, and involve new levels of understanding and operation. We are vastly more complex than that.

“ex nihilo nihil fit” is based on a set of assumptions that appear to not always work at all scales in this reality in which we find ourselves.
The essence of enquiry is in questioning.

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Evonomics – Markets – again removed.

Why the Economics Of “Me” Can’t Replace the Economics Of “We”

Beyond the market vs. state duality

I agree with aspects of what you say, and not others.

You stated “The economic problem is not markets per se.” which is both true and false, depending on context.

As Hayek and others clearly established, markets are very powerful tools in dealing with scarce resources. The signals available from profit and price (in free markets), can provide a degree of coordination of specialist knowledge that is logically impossible to achieve via any sort of central control. That much is clear, and obvious, and not in any sort of dispute. (And it is now possible to use non-market technologies and near instantaneous communication through distributed networks to achieve the same outcome.)

And as many others have noted, even Adam Smith was clearly aware of the limitations of markets alone, their tendency to monopolies, and the need to balance those tendencies to achieve any sort of justice.
Thorstein Veblen clearly defined many limitations of the logic of markets over a hundred years ago, and as we all do, he built on the work of many of those who came before him.

I am very much in the classical liberal camp, alongside Hayek on many issues.
I see and understand the power of distributed cognition, distributed signalling, and distributed freedom of action and choice. Those things are fundamental, and my confidence in them comes from 50 years of studying evolutionary processes (from the biochemical through to logical and mathematical and strategic levels), and 40 years involvement in business and politics and computer systems design and development.

What very few people seem to comprehend at present is what is clear to me as the central problem of markets, the fact that the value measure they deliver is based in scarcity. The more of something there is, the less it is worth, the less of it there is, the more it is worth.
In the case of things that are naturally scarce, and compete for human labour in development, that is a perfectly sensible system.
The critical issue of our age is automation.
The doubling time on our computational ability is under a year.
Economists are used to thinking in terms of growth around 2% per year, not 120% per year (and growing).

Oxygen in the air is arguably the single most important thing to any human being, yet it has no market value.
Why is that important?
Because it is an example of a limiting case.
In logic, in mathematical induction, limiting cases are important.
It clearly demonstrates that there is not, nor can there be, any market value in delivering universal abundance.
Why is that an issue?
It is an issue because every human being needs to have enough air, water, food, housing, education, sanitation, healthcare, transport and communication to do whatever it is they responsibly choose to do. And that simple list (the base of Abraham Maslow’s pyramid of human needs) needs to be universally abundant if we are any of us, ever, to have a reasonable chance of living a very long time.
None of those things are things which go to infinite demand. They are all quite finite quantities, quite easily deliverable. The demand curves have the form they do, and it doesn’t take very much matter or energy to meet them, universally.
Delivering universal abundance of those things is not a technically difficult issue.
It is, however, an impossible thing for markets.
The reason it is impossible, is because universal abundance has zero market value – as we have already established in the case of air.

So it is clear, in logic, and in practice, that market equilibrium, and human needs, are two very different things.

In the past, when production of most things required human labour, it made sense to ignore this problem, because it wasn’t a practical one at the time. Marx saw it, and wrote about it, but few people picked up on it (their focus was on other aspects).

What we have today, is exponential expansion of our ability to automate any process of production and delivery of goods and services.
Left to its own tendencies, that will drive market values to zero.

Having seen that, and in an attempt to counter it, corporate strategic interests have formulated a counter strategy and are creating barriers to abundance, artificial scarcity – we call them “intellectual property laws”. That is, in logic, all that they are.

In today’s digital world, the cost of copying anything is pennies per gigabyte.
It takes years to read a gigabyte of text.

When I was diagnosed terminal cancer a few years ago, and I wanted access to all research papers, I found that the abstracts did not give me enough information to eliminate papers from my search in about 95% of cases. So on the best prices I could get on subscription databases, it was going to cost me hundreds of dollars to get find each useful paper. I couldn’t afford that (not with tens of thousands of papers invovled). I managed to find enough information to find a cure, but did so in spite of the market system, not because of it.
The market system of IP laws was clearly, in that case, a barrier to knowledge transfer, not an enabler. {If anyone is interested, what I found effectively boils down to, the rate limiting step in immune system function is in most people availability of vitamin C. When fighting disease, most people can make effective use of quantities up to about 100g per day (and in rare cases up to double that). Many cancer cells have a high preference for sugar, so eliminating added sugar from diet buys time. The immune system is involved in removing protein fragments resulting from partial digestion from the bloodstream, so eating proteins as different as possible from our own (plant based rather than animal based foods) increases the probability of the immune system retaining the ability to detect and remove cancer. In the event – going vegan, eliminating added sugar and alcohol, worked for me. I take 2 x 9g doses of vitamin C every day, and have been 5 years clear of tumours since sticking rigidly to that regime.}

Back to markets, and the systemic incentive structures present.

Markets are complex systems, and have evolved very complex functions, and they have some quite simple strategies at their core.

Markets can be very useful tools where things are genuinely scarce, but fail when full automation becomes available.

Human beings need universal abundance of some sets of goods and services.
Markets will never universally satisfy those needs.
We can as a society choose to put sufficient resources in to fully automating the production and distribution of those goods and services. I go further and make the assertion that we have both a moral responsibility, and a personal self interest (in terms of our personal long term security) in doing so.
It will never make sense, in terms of measures of monetary value, to do so.

It is time that all people became clear that market measures of value (money) and human values, are not the same thing, and never can be.

Human beings will always value some things (like air, and natural beauty) that are universally abundant, and therefore have no market value. And actually – there is potentially, an infinite set of such things.

One thing about people is, that the more secure they are, the less energy and material goods they really need. Universal abundance, and universal security, makes good ecological sense, it reduces our total demands on the environment.
Universal delivery of automated tools to act as the two servants needed by all people to allow prosperity for all, is actually a near term realistic deliverable. And making it so will require thinking outside the “box” of market values.

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29 Jan to 1 Feb ’16 ~QofDay~ Politics

What do you think of the politics/political leaders(s) of your country?

I think politics in New Zealand is probably similar to politics everywhere else, except that New Zealand is so small, that everyone knows someone who knows everyone else.

So we have a full range of political issues.
And we have so many advantages, few people, world’s largest moat, enough food for everyone.
And a few challenges – large volcanoes, large earthquakes, and some big storms.

And most of the people are great – friendly, kind, compassionate – and a few are not.

I think that most of our politicians genuinely want to make a difference for everyone, and there are some very different understandings of how best to achieve that.
Our current leader is more in the mindset of “money can solve just about everything” than any we’ve had for a long time, so he and don’t agree about a lot in terms of monetary and financial policies. And I think it is possible that he does care, but simply doesn’t understand the consequence of what he is doing – he doesn’t have that on his own.

We have racial issues, financial issues, clashes of cultures and ways of thinking, as everywhere else on the planet; and for all that, it is a great place to live.

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Another email conversation with Marc

Another Email conversation with Marc

Speaking of which (the delay in your reply to my last message), I don’t know if I’m simply seeing what I want to see, but I’ve become aware that when you write about individual liberty, you (more often, recently?) specifically mention the constraint that one’s actions not be harmful to others. I mention this because a question in my last email had to do with “limiting diversity”, specifically the diversity of an individual (or group) choosing to employ lethal violence to obtain their goals. I take your statements on constraints to individual liberty to answer my question in the affirmative.

Lethal violence ought never to be an option exercised.
And I get that in physical reality it is always an option.

Maybe that simple fact, combined with a certain level of stochasticism, is the thing that limits the amount of intelligent life we see in the universe generally.

In another of your recent posts, you wrote something along the lines of (I paraphrase) that you are willing to consider another person’s positions up to the point of his/her first falsifiable premise. This was very enlightening to me, and explains many of the responses I’ve received from you, that don’t directly respond to the overall intent of my questions. I don’t know if this is always a conscious choice on your part, but, as I say, it explains a lot. Thank you for that clarification.

Recently, I’ve been attempting to communicate with a group of western Europeans (mostly from the Netherlands, I think) who share an interest of mine, namely, that it would be a good idea to try to unify all of the groups/individuals around the world who have already reached the conclusion that our most difficult problems can best be solved by the unified efforts of very large numbers of people (organized into the optimal size working groups, determined by the objectives) – i.e., the need to “unite the unifiers”, as a first step. Unfortunately, their definition of “unity” is really closer to my definition of unintentional “cooperation” (where people aren’t actively competing at cross purposes with one another) and they are in a state of psychological ‘denial’ as to the very real threat of those who possess the means to commit violence on a massive scale (e.g., the U.S. military (industrial complex) or anyone with thermonuclear weapons) or massive numbers of people who are culturally ‘brainwashed’ to accept/embrace violence as the preferred means of self defense (or, indeed, any conflict resolution) (again the majority of the population of the U.S. is a prime example).

As I see it, the really big issue is the levels of awareness.

It seems to be a logical necessity that every new level of awareness must build from the simplest possible distinction set (a set of binary approximations to infinities – ideas like right/wrong, good/bad, true/false etc), to more populated and more closely sets of approximations to infinities.

The really difficult one seems to be the “right/wrong” one.

It seems that the method used to bootstrap self awareness involves a declaration in language by a non-self aware languaging consciousness, which uses a binary declarative judgement form (like right/wrong or good/evil or good/bad etc) to create a situation where that awareness declares itself on the “wrong” side of that binary (whatever binary it is), when by its own judgement it needs to be on the other side, so the neural networks resolve that by making a declarative statement in language in the general form “being x was bad/wrong/evil, so I am going to be y). The specific forms of x and y are irrelevant in a sense, what is important is that the declarative form of the statement declares a pattern into being within the neural network. That pattern is the beginning of our reflective self awareness.

So in this sense, the idea of right and wrong (or whatever variation we used) is at the very base of our reflective awareness, and there is a sense in which the awareness hiding on the other side of that judgement will do anything it can to stay hidden, to not reveal its “original sin”, its “prime crime”.

It is amazing the contortions individuals will go through to avoid seeing this in action within themselves.

When most do see it, they resolve it within the frameworks available to them that seem to make most sense. For many that means in terms of something like “the grace of the god that surpasses all understanding”, which doesn’t actually do much for me, as such notions appear to be more about power and control than they do understanding existence in any sort of fundamental way, and I can get that there is a certain fundamental aspect to the ideas of power and control, and there does seem to be something available below them – which is where I have focused much of my explorations over the last few decades.

Although I am drawn to anyone who approaches a problem/opportunity ‘spherically’ (in all directions; not a sphere, precisely, because the surface topology is not uniformly distant from an origin), as some in the group are attempting, I confess that I have far less interest in supporting those whose foundational principles include concepts such as “spirituality”, “sacredness”, and “beauty”. I know these are just “words”, but I fear the way in which I believe they’re being used (i.e., to shape human social interaction). When I try to point out the subjectivity and bias inherent in these concepts, others to whom I communicate suggest that I am “not embracing diversity”. When I try to talk about “transition strategies and tactics” versus post-transition operating principles, most people seem unable to grasp that they may be (I aver, “must necessarily be”) different, they spout Gandhi (“be the change you wish to see in the world”) or Fuller (“you don’t change things by fighting the existing system; you create a new model…”) at me.

I align more closely with you than Ghandi, and Ghandi was a man of his time. He did not have the conceptual tools available that we have today. And I am impressed by what he did with what he had, and had made many foundational errors.

So, although you and I may differ in our comfort with abstraction and complexity, every now and then I need to remind myself that you’re the closest thing I have to a friend right now. Thanks for being there.

Thanks Marc.

Friend is such an odd notion.

To many it means people who just show up at the door, and with whom one engages socially.
I can go months without anyone just showing up at the door to “hang out”.
And I do have people such as yourself who periodically make the effort to communicate with me on issues I find important and relevant. And that to me is a much greater level of friendship than “going to the pub”, or “going fishing”.

And I do enjoy playing golf, and there are a hundred or so people I know by name and with whom I enjoy playing golf and chatting to in the clubhouse after a game, and a dozen or so with whom I enjoy riding mountain bikes, and a couple of dozen with whom I enjoy periodically doing social projects.

So thank you for being a friend, whom I have never physically met, who does with me that which I most enjoy, challenging assumptions and exploring ideas that hold the potential of benefit to ourselves and everyone else.

And as we started this on the theme of lethal violence, and acceptable risk profiles, ideas themselves contain risk profiles, and we need to explore them as thoroughly as possible to ensure we build a set of associated ideas that minimise those risk profiles, to the greatest degree possible.

Thank you for you friendship, your willingness to explore, your courage to go beyond the known, and your integrity in seeking outcomes that work for all.

The more people who rigorously test this framework, the more confident I become of its potential utility, and I am aware of the fact that any tool can be used for any purpose.

[followed by]

[Marc] I appreciate your statement:

{[Ted prior]I would much rather state the proposition in the form: that individuals need to be able to build a reasonable case that the risk mitigation strategies they have around any novel project will effectively mitigate the risk to others.}

as a more general principle from which to begin. However, I’m in a mental phase where I’m increasingly attracted to what is of material usefulness and I find that I have a hard time justifying (to myself) anything other than ‘shortest path first’ approaches, especially when it comes to really useful binary distinctions, such as “if you’re angry at me for ANY reason (including all UNreasonable origins), I have a much higher probability of survival if you don’t possess a loaded firearm” (yes, I’m assuming that I’m not expiring of a cerebral hemorrhage and you’re the only surgeon available, but you’re also an advocate of the right to bear arms (which I guess isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility – are you aware of the U.S. presidential candidate, Ben Carson? – Uh-Oh, I guess I’m making your case for myself. Damn You, Imagination!)). Which very easily scales to “life on earth has a much greater probability of survival if humans did not behave violently and selfishly (I don’t care a whit what you think, as long as you don’t externalize violence or selfishness in the presence of others who would be harmed, immediately or in the ‘foreseeable’ future (we have the ability to ‘foresee’ a lot)) “. And then I’m on to the next step, designing the shortest path to achieving that very logical objective…

I agree that there is a strong case to be made that only people who are can over-ride basic anger responses and not respond by shooting someone in anger should ever be allowed to own or operate any tools of significant power – which includes firearms, motor-vehicles, and a vast collection of other technical devices.

Demonstrable self control needs to be a prime test of access to many realms of power, unfortunately it currently is not. Many very powerful people have very little self control.

So at that level, I agree with you.

However, there are other very powerful factors at play.

The greatest danger to any cooperative (at any level) is invasion by cheating strategies.
One of the lowest level cheating strategies is threat of physical violence (the organised bully).
One of the most powerful counter strategies to the many levels of thuggery possible is the equalising power of firearms.
It takes a long time to train someone how to use a firearm effectively. My guess is about 10,000 rounds to get an effective understanding of leading a target, allowing for wind and gravity deflection, etc. I’ve probably fired close to 200,000 rounds over the 53 years I have owned firearms.
I hope I never have to fire at any person, and I know how to, effectively, if I need to.
And one thing that I was taught very early, never pick up a weapon unless you are prepared to use it, if you do that you are simply escalating risk to yourself. Better to take a beating than a bullet, if you’re not prepared to pull the trigger first (in that respect I hate the way they revised the scene in Star Wars where Han Solo shoots the bounty hunter – letting the bounty hunter get off the first shot is insanity).

So my warning is simply – yes – mitigate the risk, but be very specific about what risks are present, and exactly how you are affecting the profiles of each set of risks, and be as targeted as possible with the risk mitigation strategies imposed.

Don’t allow yourself to be used as a tool of a higher level cheating strategy (unless you already have a counter strategy to that in place – and that can get quite recursive).

I’m pretty certain that I’ve not told you that, in 2015, I made the decision to finally read The Selfish Gene and Godel, Escher, Bach because you had mentioned them several times in your blog. The former was less of a revelation because its ideas have disseminated further into the popular culture with which I was already familiar. But GEB really threw me for a loop, because of my lack of familiarity with mathematics beyond engineering-level analysis (calculus) and linear algebra. It was a library rental (3 weeks), so I did not attempt anything beyond surface familiarity with the concepts and did not attempt many of his suggested exercises.

I got a friend’s copy of GEB, and kept it for a year. I put at least an hour in at least 5 evenings a week, for about 9 months. Until I was confident of every assertion, and every implied assumption.
One of the most powerful ideas about that I have encountered.
Even logic has its limits.
Combine that uncertainty, with Hiesenberg’s, and with ordinary measurement error – and one has three simultaneous levels of uncertainty in everything to do with reality.
Then add in that the available sets of contexts appear to be infinite, and we can only ever explore a very tiny subset of infinity – and one has another level of uncertainty.
Then look at Wolfram’ explorations of simple cellular automata rules, and how even some of the simplest rules possible give chaotic and unpredictable outcomes – and you have another level of uncertainty.
Then add in quantum mechanics, where it seems the most reasonable explanation for the equations that actually seem to work, is that the whole system is stochastic within certain boundaries.
Just there, we have six simultaneous, and independent, sets of uncertainties in every measurement we make of reality (and every interpretation we take from such measurements).

I understand both the practical utility and the emotional attraction of binaries, even in an environment as uncertain as that described above, but the risk profiles associated with them are so great – one is compelled to discard them in all but the most time critical of urgent needs for reaction.

I’m more attracted to Stephen Wolfram’s younger brother’s (Conrad’s) efforts to bring mathematics education out of the 19th Century, via the use of computers for computation (there’s a ‘crazy’, practical idea). But, doing anything really interesting requires Mathematica, which I currently can’t afford.

Why is something like mathematica, which can be duplicated at no cost, not available to everyone?

If that single example doesn’t tell you that our economic system is now posing at least as much risk as it is delivering in benefits, nothing ever will.

Why are we paying twice for the results of scientific investigation – once through government grants to allow it to happen, and then again as pay per view?

Have you read Kurzweil’s Live Long Enough to Live Forever or its successor (am ‘blanking’ on the title)? If so, do you think either one worthwhile as a practical guide? If not, I’m looking for a reasonably practical overview of human nutrition and exercise physiology that I might use to ‘convince’ myself to begin (what I’m certain will be) the multi-year process of achieving the same level of physical health I had before my back injury (6 years ago).

My gratitude for anything you’re able to suggest.

Haven’t read Ray’s books, but have read a lot of commentary.

Came up with much the same idea in 1974 – well before Ray.

For back injury, take about 5g per day of Glucosamine/Chrondoitin – maintain for 6 months.
After 6 months cut back to 2g/ day and maintain.

If you are taking high dose vit c (I recommend twice daily dose of at least 1g per 12Kg body weight – I do 9g, twice daily – 18g per day – weight 74Kg 1.86m tall – 6’2), then you need extra calcium – the vit C will leach it slowly. About 200mg of dolomite powder (chalk) should be enough to counter.

For comfort – a zero gravity recliner chair. My back loves it!!!

[followed by]

I’ll tackle your three questions in reverse order.

In respect of guidance.
I am happy to engage in the sense we have been.

So many levels to this.
The Buddhists have a story of the Zen master and the student, using the metaphor of the 5 cups.
The cup with a whole in it – when the tea is poured, it drains straight out, and is not retrained.
The dirty cup – when the tea is poured, it mixes with the dirt and the flavour is lost.
The upside down cup, nothing can get into it – the shell which is designed to hold knowledge is keeping it out.
The full cup, any tea poured in mixes a little with what is there but most flows straight out again.
And the empty cup – ready to receive what is poured.

The student needs to have the empty cup.
When the teas is poured, it can then be drunk, and appreciated for what it is. The student can then do what they will with the knowledge of that taste.

If I have anything to teach, it is to be like the empty cup to all that reality has to offer.
One of the keys is learning how to clean the cup. How to look for the unexamined assumptions that are present that change the flavour of the tea of experience.

Being willing the question everything, every assumption, every illusion of truth.
Being willing to live in uncertainty – profound uncertainty.
Understanding that all conscious experience is of the model of reality that brain subconsciously assembles, and never of reality directly.

I often use the metaphor of living on a house in a swamp, made of thousands of bamboo poles lashed together. Too much weight on any single pole will push it out of sight in the swamp. Yet the combined structure, of thousands of poles, all bearing a little weight, each taking and sharing load from all the others, is able to make and maintain a very stable structure.

I don’t deal in Truth in respect of reality.
I deal in uncertainty, probability.
In the realm of logic, one can certainly build structures based on sets of assumptions, and Kurt Goedel used those structures to prove something rather profound about uncertainty even in that realm.

So – yes – happy to continue our discussions.

And there are a couple of things that have proven important in my past.

One is a willingness to ask any question, and to keep on asking it until one has found a satisfactory answer. And sometimes that process can result in profound changes of understanding, take one in profoundly different directions from one’s original intent.

When one reaches one of those profound change points, it almost always starts out as “bad news”, and that is completely logical in a sense. One must be willing to see and acknowledge error, before there exists the possibility of correcting that error.
Sometimes seeing such errors involves one in a lot of responsibility, of work and time, in being responsible for cleaning up the messes created by those errors.
Often that work needs to be done, to allow progress to be made.
The good news comes on the other side of that process, with the new levels of freedom, the awareness, the tools.

And in all such things, it is not my intention to choose anyone’s path.
My intention is to awaken others to the degrees to which they are unaware of the many levels of factors that influence (to a large degree control) the choices which they make.

Absolute freedom seems to me every bit as much a myth as absolute truth, and we do seem to be able to learn how to responsibly exercise new levels of freedom (responsible in the sense of minimising the risks to life and liberty of ourselves and others – because often the greatest risk to us comes from the risk profile we represent to others – and that is a highly recursive notion).

That segues nicely into the notion of recursion.

Recursion is simple in a sense. It is some function that calls itself, and can thus form a long chain.
To prevent an encounter with the halting problem, all recursive systems have to have a terminating condition that will in fact be reached in some usefully small (compared to infinity) number of steps.

A simple example is parsing a directory tree.
One can write a simple function that goes something like:

Function FindFiles( cPath)

Declare aFiles type Array

aFiles := directory( path)

iterate using i through aFiles

if aFile[i, type] = directory

FindFiles( cPath+cPathSep+aFile[i, name] // this is recursion – the function calling itself – in this case extending the path name to the next level of directory if there is a new level of directory.

else // if not a directory then it must be a file

// do whatever you want with the file – store the name and path into one or more databases or whatever.


The same sort of logic can be used to parse any html looking for links, and following them wherever they lead.
In that case however, one needs to build in a test to ensure we haven’t gotten to any particular URL before, if we have, we just increment a counter and terminate.
That simple function was at the heart of Google 1.0
All they did was rank search results based upon link counts.
They are using much more complex suites of multilevel algorithms now, but that got them started.

Which takes us back to your first question about the clause I used:
“and there is a sense in which the awareness hiding on the other side of that judgement will do anything it can to stay hidden, to not reveal its original sin, its prime crime.”

We are really complex entities.
It seems that the average adult human being contains about 20 levels of sets of cooperative systems (about 8 that are mostly hardware, and about 12 that are mostly software), which in another sense often compete in many ways for phenotypic expression in any instant.

Hidden slightly above the middle of those depths seems to be the core declarative judgement I referred to above.
Becoming aware of our own personal “original sin” is an important step in self awareness, and it is not an easy step, it is one of the more difficult steps.
The original pattern of the original child that made that first mistake is still there, it just hides behind the “front” that it declared into existence.
In many people, that process can repeat.
There can be nested levels involved.

We are, in a very real sense, the totality of that nest, and at the same time, there are very likely aspects of each of those “bad/wrong” declarations that are present yet operationally hidden from our conscious awareness. They just trigger when they do, and for the most part we just accept them as being us – which is sensible and real in one sense, but in another sense presents a vulnerability, because they will be obvious to others in ways that we are blind to, unless we do the work to bring them to conscious awareness. And in deeply strategic encounters, survival often hinges on awareness, and an ability to counter strategic moves at higher strategic levels – and for that one needs awareness.

So there is a sense in which we all have to accept that we are in any instant vastly more complex than we can consciously be aware of in any instant, and at the same time, we can, through training and awareness, build confidence in the levels of response we can expect from any level of our being to any context. And often it is the ability to be choice in the matter of context that determine the outcome of any strategic encounter (in so far as outcomes can be said to be determined ….).

Hope this points to something.

In this context – I strongly recommend doing the Landmark education curriculum for living.
Be the “empty cup”.
Their “tea” isn’t poison.
You don’t need to keep drinking it, and it is quite useful in many contexts.
I have found it a powerful tool, though not in a way that they consciously intend (and I have befriended several forum leaders, and spoken with them at length). They know what they teach is powerful, but I have yet to meet any with any real appreciation of the depth of power available – not enough knowledge of QM or games theory or systems, and too much reliance on god based concepts. And it is still exceptionally powerful and useful technology.

Enough for one day.

Need to put some attention into other dimensions of being.



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Echos of Orewa

Frank Newman: Echoes of Orewa

Hi Frank,

I was one of the original ACT candidates, and stood 3 times.
I classify myself as a classical liberal, in the sense that I hold respect for individual life and individual liberty as my highest values, and see great utility in the notion of property rights and legal systems, as being vastly more likely to deliver the sort of security that allows long life, over resorting to brute force (at any level). And the level thing is important.

This issue is really much deeper than your article implies.
New Zealand was not settled under the doctrine of “terra nullius”, but by treaty. That treaty was/is important in respect of its rather broad use of the phrase (lands and estates forests fisheries and other properties) in respect of property.
I think the notion of property rather important.

Companies and corporations can hold title to land without losing it at death of an individual – where is the clear distinction between that sort of association and a tribal one?

I spent years dealing with these issues with some of the best legal minds in the country when dealing with the Fisheries Claims, after the introduction of the Quota Management System.
I have been on a Water Management Committee for the last 5 years, and have chaired it for the last two, and have some clear understanding of the depth of legal argument around the notion of property that has nothing at all to do with race, and everything to do with liberty and justice.

Can you name me one major instance in history where rights have been allocated “fairly on the basis of need”? If you can, it will be the exception rather than the rule.

I see a great need for society as a whole to move away from scarcity based thinking, and to realise the levels of abundance that exponential technology actually gives us access to.
We could develop automated systems to deliver all the essentials of life to every person on the planet – and doing so would break our current system that is based on markets and money.
Markets can only ever value any universal abundance at zero or lower. If you doubt that consider air, arguably the most important thing to any of us, yet of zero market value due to universal abundance.

So the idea that markets will ever deliver universal abundance (eliminate poverty) of anything, is a myth. Market value relies on scarcity, and markets will develop methods to create scarcity where none need exist (evidence our “intellectual property” laws) – purely and simply to maintain market value.

So it is not an issue of “racial privilege”, it is very much more dimensional than that.

In history, exponential growth has meant 2% per year, or 3 doublings per century. Exponential growth in information technology is now doubling every ten months.
That trend is taking its first baby steps into the realm of hardware with first generation 3D printers. They are little more than toys at present, but by the time we get to 4th generation (12 years away), they will enable decentralised manufacture of most goods, and automated delivery of most services.

These issues are huge.

I agree with Hayek that one of the great powers of markets was the ability to coordinate cooperation through the price/profit signal, and increase the abundance of goods and services available. And we have certainly lived through a period that has enjoyed many of the fruits of that.

And we are now entering an entirely new domain, that none of the parents of economics foresaw – fully automated manufacture, fully distributed trust networks with real time global communication, and those things really do change everything.

I make the clear claim that money and markets are rapidly approaching (if they haven’t already past) the point where their basis in scarcity is actually delivering greater risk than benefit to the vast bulk of humanity (which includes both of us, and most readers of this), given the exponential increase in computation and manufacturing capacity we now possess.

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Computer wins at Go

Google machine-learning system is first to defeat professional Go player

Agree with several that it is a very impressive achievement.

It seems that at recursive levels – all understanding comes as the result of experience, so the technique is recursively applicable.

Doesn’t directly address many of the survival level problems that evolution has developed useful heuristics for. Like guarding against the many classes of the halting problem, and running multiple simultaneous explorations of many different classes of threat assessment and threat mitigation strategies while simultaneously searching the space of useful opportunities and exploring useful numbers of them. Maintaining a balance between those two classes of strategy is one of the more difficult problems evolution has seemed to negotiate successfully. And we still see many instances of failures in practice where individuals and groups are excessively precautionary or excessively proactionary – and I acknowledge a very wide spectrum of context sensitive utility between those extremes (shadows of that old Greek virtue of the mean showing again).

And in the wider context, there are many levels of threat present.
Can we come to agreements about how much solar output will be available to humanity? Can we reasonably ask for and expect 30%?
How about solar mass – can we agree to leave that alone?
Can we reserve effectively 99.99999% of earth mass and energy for organic life forms, and 99% of lunar mass/energy, and 50% of the mass of the outer planets?
How about 95% of the energy available in region described by the cone centred in the sun earth axis that is 4 LD (Lunar Distance) radius at earth?
Will AGI think such things reasonable?
Will it consider us sufficiently interesting, and safe, to keep around?

I hope so. I am reasonably confident that our particular forms of computation and engagement will have some interest. And that destroying us would pose a significant risk to AGI’s own survival, in an encounter with any sufficiently further advanced life form.

And we could do a lot to improve our chances by looking past the scarcity based market systems we now value so highly, and beyond them to abundance and cooperative based systems that empower individuals within a context of respect for individual life and individual liberty, and the diversity that must increase exponentially in such a system.

The mathematical and logical existence of such forms is now proven beyond any reasonable doubt (thank you Robert Axelrod and Elinor Ostrom).

It is a very complex suite of problems, and there are no definite and computable answers, just an infinite nest of unknowns with a large set of unknowables.

It seems that we can only work with probabilities and our best heuristics, and a willingness to keep questioning assumptions (at ever recursive levels).

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