Quora – Where do you see yourself in the next half decade? Where do you want yourself to be in after 5 years, i.e. 2024?

Quora – Where do you see yourself in the next half decade? Where do you want yourself to be in after 5 years, i.e. 2024?

I want to be involved at some level in this project:

Ted Howard’s answer to How could stronger climate actions be successfully aligned with development imperatives?

And have it be very close to sending the first system to the moon.

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Quora – How could stronger climate actions be successfully aligned with development imperatives?

Quora – How could stronger climate actions be successfully aligned with development imperatives?

What do you mean by “development imperatives”?

If you mean the idea of using money, then there is no stable solution to the problem.

If you mean using technology to meet the reasonable needs of all human beings, everywhere on the planet, then that is something entirely different, and a problem that has real solutions, but few seem able to even think about the scale of the issue, let alone seriously commit to action.

The short answer is:
By supporting global cooperation in the development of fully automated systems of production. A set of machines that can use sunlight as their energy source, and can mine local rock as raw material, and can use those to produce a new copy of that system of machines. The machines would also be programmed to produce a wide range of other goods and services.

If it takes that set of machines a month to make the second one, then it takes just over 3 years for there to be enough to give every person (everywhere on the planet) one.

If the set of things they are programmed to produce includes, housing, water storage systems, water recycling systems, sewerage recycling systems, vertical gardening systems, batteries, electric vehicles, household robots (to cook, clean, tend gardens, etc), educational systems, communications, personal medical systems, etc; then within 5 years of producing the first system, everyone on the planet can be using solar based systems to empower them to do whatever they responsibly choose.

It is a little more complex than that, because the last couple of doublings actually use quite a bit of energy, and would significant alter the heat balance of the earth if done here, so one of the early machines needs to be shipped to the moon, and replication needs to happen there, and the final products need to be returned to the earth. We also need a lot of those machines in space, to be able to effectively protect the earth from a range of issues like comet and meteor strike, and to develop effective methods to deal with large scale volcanism, sea level management, limiting of extremes of climate variation (and a few other threats).

Once one has tools that do actually effectively scale exponentially, then things can change very quickly.

Developing the technology is a trivial problem compared to developing the cooperative social systems required for such technology to be a positive stabilising force for individual life and individual liberty and for empowering social and ecological responsibility in all people.

One of the casualties of such a development would be the economic system of money and markets, and ideas like patriotism (that one should put any sort of “identity” above the value of individual life {either individually or collectively}).

As most things become genuinely abundant (as a result of fully automated production), then all scarcity based value metrics (what markets measure) fall to zero.

We need alternative value metrics, and alternative methods of stable social interaction that are actually compatible with securing individual life (for as long as any individual wishes to live) and individual liberty (provided such liberty acknowledges the limits required for social and ecological existence – that is liberty responsibly expressed).

Human beings are the most cooperative entities in existence, but put us in a competitive context and we can certainly compete.

Having our primary social structures based upon competitive markets is not a safe option – ever (the mathematics and evolutionary logic of that is beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt). Competitive systems reduce liberty – no escape from that.

We need to have our primary social systems clearly and expressly based in cooperation with all the concepts of responsibility that implies.

Such systems can still be based primarily in the values of individual life and individual liberty, and they must acknowledge that the liberty to destroy others is not compatible with respect for individual life (which is primary) and thus demands of everyone responsible action in social and ecological contexts (at any and all scales).

People generally need to understand that in biology, the evolution of complexity is always based in new levels of cooperation, and such cooperation must come with effective strategies to detect and remove cheating strategies on the cooperative (at all levels). At higher levels, such “cheating strategy removal systems” must leave the agents intact, and must be able to return those agents to cooperative activity.

In this sense successfully aligning development imperatives means having effective tools for global cooperation, and having those tools clearly with the highest values of such cooperation being individual life and individual liberty, and having a clear recognition that liberty in this sense comes with deep responsibilities for social and ecological systems.

Whatever we do, to be effective, it must fall within this general class of systems (the class contains infinite sets of options, so while it is prescriptive in one sense, it also contains infinite freedom in another sense).

In nearly 50 years of searching strategy spaces, I have found no alternatives that offer any real sort of security. And to be clear – the sort of security offered here can only ever be expressed in terms of probabilities. One cannot ever eliminate risk entirely, that is a logical impossibility. And one can reduce it to very low levels.

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Quora – If you could only pick one to believe in, would you pick climate change or evolution, and why?

If you could only pick one to believe in, would you pick climate change or evolution, and why?

This question does not work on several different levels.

1/ I don’t believe anything. I have multiple working hypotheses, conjectures and heuristics that work sufficiently well in my life that I rely upon them in practice, and everything is potentially up for review if the evidence sets suggesting such review is required are sufficiently strong.

2/ Evolution is fundamental to any real understanding about biology. If one does not understand how differential survival rates of variants in different contexts leads to divergence of character sets in populations, then none of biology makes sense except as the creation of some non-empty set of gods (which is one of the many levels of reasons that the idea of gods survives in our time).

3/ Climate change is real. The evidence for it is overwhelming for anyone with the willingness and interest and skill sets to look. And most people in the world still seem to be under the influence of sets of beliefs that (at many different levels) instruct and influence them to obey some form of external authority rather than to trust their own internal sense of what seems likely to be so, and to be most important.

And that latter point, of the idea of trusting authority, is extremely complex. There are real situations where it makes sense to trust those who have greater knowledge than ourselves, provided that we can be confident that their intentions towards us are at worst benign, and at best beneficial. And it is certainly the case that there are many levels of complexity present in us as individuals and in the societies of which we are part, that requires sets of boundaries to maintain their existence. And those boundaries can be complex in ways that very few people are familiar with, with deep levels and classes of complexity.

And it does seem clear to me that many of the levels of systems present in our societies have been captured by what are essentially cheating strategies on the cooperative that is human society; and are exploiting many of us at various levels that are becoming exceptionally risky for everyone, and need to be countered by effective strategies. And that is a very complex set of “territories”, as we need to remove the “cheating strategies” while leaving what were the “infected agents” in the game, if we are to achieve any sort of long term stability.

So the idea of picking something to believe in seems to be most of the problem present in our society today.

Society is so complex, that most people want to simplify it down to something that they can work with. Some set of simple truths.

Doing something like that is essential in a sense, and one needs to do it in the full knowledge of what one is doing, not in any sort of delusional “belief” that the world is actually that way.

We all need to accept the fact that however complex and useful our understandings of reality are, they are like children’s toys compared to the real thing.

We all need to use that fact to gain a little bit of humility and respect for all the complexity we find ourselves in, the people around us, the ecosystems, the social systems, the technologies, the cultures, the stories.

We all need to become adult, to accept the responsibilities of adulthood, which include the absolute necessity of making the best decisions we can with what we know to be limited information and limited tool sets.

There is risk in that.

That risk is an unavoidable part of life, and no set of expanded intelligence, artificial or otherwise, can possibly avoid it.

We must all be able to accept multiple complex realities simultaneously.

Complex histories.

Complex stories from our cultures.

Complex physical realities.

Complex biological realities.

Complex “feelings” deeply encoded by the deep time of history at many different levels of genetics and culture.

Complex social and legal and ethical systems.

Complex mathematical and logical systems allowing for infinite variation on themes of models in use.

Many different classes of fundamental uncertainty at every level of complexity.

That is what life seems to be.

That is a minimum set of things that adults must accept, if they are to act responsibly in ways that promote their own long term interests, and the shared interests of everyone else.

It cannot be about the beliefs that children must all start life with.

It must be about the much deeper questions that all adults must accept as the necessary burdens of life. The requirement to make real decisions on less than perfect information, at every level.

Mistakes will happen, they must, there is no other logical option.

Beliefs must be for children.

Adults are required to accept responsibility for action in the face of uncertainty, and for cleaning up the messes that must inevitably happen from time to time.

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Quora – What should humankind resolve to do jointly in 2020?

Quora – What should humankind resolve to do jointly in 2020?

Cooperate, to the best of our limited abilities.

Accept diversity, at the same time as we strive to identify and maintain those boundaries that are actually necessary for our survival.

Accept change is a part of life.

Consider that money and markets, in the presence of automation and abundance, actually pose significant and increasing risk to life and liberty; and start developing a wide variety of systems based in cooperation and abundance; as we begin our transition away from money and markets.

Accept that complexity demands limits on freedom, and not let that be an excuse for imposing limits that are of benefit to a few at cost to the many.

Accept that eternal uncertainty is a necessary part of real complexity, and not let that be an excuse for inaction or the avoidance of difficult or unpleasant actions that need to be done.

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Quora – Is it going to be the end of the world if every person in the world already believed in false information and lies?

Quora – Is it going to be the end of the world if every person in the world already believed in false information and lies?

If everyone has such a simplistic understanding that they interpret everything in terms of true or false, then we would be in deep trouble.

And everyone must start with that sort of simple understanding.

Reality seems to be so complex, and contain so much fundamental uncertainty of many different kinds at many different levels, that all of our understanding must necessarily be approximations at some level, that are useful and reliable in some contexts.

The idea of there being one right way to do anything is a very simple and very dangerous notion, that inevitably leads to conflict.

We must accept that most real problems have a near infinite set of variations on solutions that have similar sets of utility overall, and we must also accept that there is a far greater infinity of actions that have far lower utility (some of them very negative utility – ie great danger).

Accepting diversity within limits is not the same as accepting anything.

The two most important limits seem to be to value individual life above all else, and to value individual liberty beyond that. So not a freedom to threaten anyone else, nor the environment upon which we all depend, but an acceptance of responsibility in both social and ecological contexts.

So we all need to accept a degree of humility and accept that most of what we think we know is probably in error in some important ways in contexts that we are not familiar with (and perhaps even in some contexts we are familiar with, but have changed in some way we haven’t noticed yet).

Science does not deal in truth.

The history of science is one of successively better approximations and models of reality.

Individual growth at its best is something similar, a move from the certainty of youth, to a less certain but far more nuanced understanding and acceptance of complexity and diversity that sometimes comes with age and a bit of wisdom.

Learning to take individual responsibility for our understandings, to avoid the constraints and dangers of “group think” at any level (be it peer group, team, institution or culture), at the same time as we avoid the dangers and hubris of narcissism, and acknowledge that most of our ideas have come from others via the deep time of our genetic and cultural past, is something of an art, and something of sufficient complexity that we will all do it significantly differently.

So yes, there is a sense in which there are both deliberate and unintentional lies and false information present in all institutions, all cultures, all stories, all beliefs (particularly if money is involved at any level) – such things are unavoidable in a very real sense, and we all need to develop our own tools to identify and remove them; at the same time as we maintain a kind of humility that accepts that reality will always be vastly more complex than any model or understanding we can possibly have of it.

So we all need to accept that all understanding (human and AI) is limited, and prone to error if pushed too far or too hard. Error must be our eternal companion in this sense. It is a fundamental part of life.

We need to move from true/false to probability, and we will all fall back to true/false on occasion, it does seem to be hard coded into the genetics of our brains in stressful or time limited situations.

Thus there is a really difficult balance we must all find and maintain to the best of our limited abilities, between having understandings that work well enough in familiar contexts to allow us to survive and get along with each other (to maintain the boundaries that are required for complexity to survive), and being sufficiently tolerant of diversity and novelty that we are able to get along with those who are different, and are able to explore novelty that needs to be explored.

We will each have different levels of comfort and tolerance in different contexts.

We will each have our different models and understandings of reality.

How reality occurs to us as experience is deeply conditioned by our understanding and experience – none of us has direct access to reality (and nor can we, ever). For every one of us, what we experience is deeply conditioned by many levels of subconscious process (that was one of the hardest things for early AI researchers to begin to understand – that making any sense at all of the world is actually an incredibly difficult computational problem that our subconscious brains handle for us). Designing a subconscious structure for AI is actually a really difficult problem, and a lot of very smart people using very powerful tools have now been working on it for over 50 years. Some of those at the leading edge of that development have some very powerful understandings of the complexity of the issues of what it is to be human.

And Jordan Peterson has a very powerful set of heuristics that can be used to simplify that complexity down to something workable for most. One of those is the idea that if we all accept our own fallibility, and we all make our best efforts to remove anything from our speech and our writing that we know or suspect to be untrue or to be biased in any significant fashion, then if we all do that, it will very probably deliver the best possible outcome for us all.

To me, as someone who trained a long time ago in biochemistry and evolutionary biology, and has worked with computers, and has a geeks interest in computational theory, strategy theory, the depths of probability, topological “spaces”, various forms of attractors, and many forms of chaos and uncertainty present in mathematics and logic; the idea of always speaking our best approximation to reality (accepting all of the uncertainties and risks necessarily present in such a thing) does in fact seem to hold the greatest promise for us all.

That is why I am confident beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that the scarcity and competitive based systems of markets and money that arguably served us well in the past, are now, in the presence of fully automated system (which systems we absolutely need to mitigate many levels of known existential risk) delivering ever increasing risk, and must now be replaced by systems based in universal cooperation and universal abundance.

That is just obvious to me in ways that would take me decades to explain in detail, and we don’t have decades in which to make such changes – we have about a decade, and not much more than that. That is, at least, what seems to me to very likely to be the case.

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Quora – Do you think that your future is going to be better than your current situation?

Quora – Do you think that your future is going to be better than your current situation?

We live in very complex and uncertain times, with multiple sources of threat, and yet there is a real sense in which that threat is a source of hope.

Having external threats that can be mitigated is one of the evolutionary conditions that allows new levels of cooperation to emerge, and new levels of security and freedom to accompany it.

And it takes effort, at every level of strategy and morality and awareness and society to maintain cooperation.

It requires making the effort to detect and remove cheating strategies, within ourselves even more so than in other individuals and groups. That level of self awareness and self trust is not yet common; yet I am confident that every individual is capable of it in an appropriate context (its just that most are not yet inhabiting appropriate contexts).

And we have the technology of automation available, which is an amazingly powerful set of tools.

If we can get passed the historically useful idea of value generated in money and markets, and if we can establish global cooperation (not global dominance – the opposite of that), then we may be able to use that technology for the benefit of all, and we may all get to live long lives, in full health, empowered to do whatever we responsibly choose.

And that is not a future that will be immediately obvious to many, because it is a future based in abundance and cooperation, and most of our last few hundred years have been a past based in scarcity and competition.

Changing from a competitive to a cooperative basis for thinking will be difficult for some, and it seems clear to me (beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt) that is is the only real option (in a deep mathematical sense) for a long term future for any of us (it also seems to be our genetic default in appropriate contexts – the Buddhists seem to have at least that much right).

Lots of possibilities there that have me waking up sweating some mornings, but also options that convince me of a very real possibility of security and abundance and freedom for everyone who chooses to act responsibly in both social and ecological contexts; who values individual life and individual liberty above any sort of “group think” at any level.

So yes, I think there is a very good chance of the future being almost unimaginably better than the past – for me and everyone else. And it must be different, very different in some aspects, if it is to be.

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Quora – Why didn’t the human mind evolve to think only positive, pleasant, and nice things over the course of many thousands of years of evolution?

Quora – Why didn’t the human mind evolve to think only positive, pleasant, and nice things over the course of many thousands of years of evolution?

Because reality is not generally positive and pleasant.

Reality is often dangerous.

Evolution rewards avoiding danger much higher than it punishes missing the occasional opportunity.

Therefore we have our systems highly tuned at many different levels to detect and avoid dangerous situations.

The human mind has evolved to survive in a vast range of often dangerous situations.

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