# Don’t Let Ada Learn Quantum Mechanics!

With a hard exhale, I crumpled into my seat in the back alley. Across from me, Wilhelm did the same without the sigh. Wilhelm looked rasp, like a constellation that had lost its integrity after being renamed too many times.

There was no puzzle about the cause of this situation: summer vacation was near its end, the summer of our fourth and final year in Clock High School, and the loathed summer projects – by which a student’s whole last week is ruined – were deteriorating the air like irregular rod bacteria exponentiating out of the walls.

Of course Wilhelm wasn’t anxious about doing well on his project. Unlike myself, Wilhelm shines in all cerebral aspirations – with the exception of music composition, at which he loses to humming elephants and drone orchestras.

Still, it wouldn’t require a substantial investigation to see the chain of cause and effect. Wilhelm was frayed from deficit of sleep. This in turn had occurred from his being woken up in the middle of the night to deal with the amplitude distributions that had been shifting. The amplitude distributions had been shifting because the main character of the universe, Ada Soryuu, was under pressure herself.

Not that Ada would be afraid of the project grade either. She too out stood me at scholastic arts, and someone with merely an hour’s knowledge of Ada would realize that she was far too confident to be afraid of a project. If Ada were confronted with the epic odyssey to slay all Mount Olympus, she would storm in ahead with the necessary equations.

It followed with the inflexibility of necessary condition that Ada was perturbed by something else, and it was easy for me to understand what.

Entropy. Randomness. In a word, alterations. These are the fountainheads of agitation.

All of us in the MOON Squad would have to select which entrance exams to take, which meant selecting our universities, which meant choosing our futures.

And Ada, who wouldn’t show regret or hesitation in steering her own life, would still be worried about whether the others of the clique… no, I have come to acknowledge it. I am past the point where Wilhelm has to patiently explain it to me yet again. I will say it clearly: Ada is concerned about myself. She does not want to be separated from me.

If the theatre of the world kept playing its routine film, with predictable images on the screen, there would be little chance. Being accepted to the same university as Ada would take intervention from the cinematographers. Of course, I actually have access to the backdoor of reality, having shattered my Newtonian mechanics conception of reality. Wilhelm Wake’s Organization could certainly arrange for a university to take me, though I’d rather not know how. The Neuralink Puppetmaster that stands behind Mary Bryant could rearrange the data of the exam results. As for Deanna Heilmann, I don’t know what a timeless girl with solid grasp of the block universe could do about university entrances. But Deanna, who was formerly a year ahead of us, last year became sick on test day and failed that year’s entrance exams and became a sophomore. Just so that she could keep coming to these after-school gatherings. It never pays to underestimate the power of a cute maiden.
And if Ada truly desired me to be in the same university as her, there can be no possible doubt that it would happen. Even if she had to destroy the Born probabilities.

Finally the costume-shopping expedition ended with a satisfied click from Ada and a wail of total despair from Deanna. In moments, the costume was 3d-printed at the local shop were Deanna ran to change. Ada stood up from the computer and fluttered herself down at the table, next to Wilhelm and myself, a meter distant from where Mary was reading yet another book.

Ada tapped the table impatiently, giving Deanna a solar glance. “Tea,” Ada said annoyed, and Deanna hastened off in her Ada-mandated maid costume to obey, still whimpering.

I don’t understand how Ada executes this sort of behavior without creating an undercurrent of carnal domination.

Then Ada turned her fearsome gaze on Wilhelm and myself.

If there’s one universal law that holds even in a world containing Ada, it’s that, no matter how bad a situation looks at the time, you can’t guess in advance how Ada will make it worse.

Ada’s eyes moved to me directly.

She gave me a searching look.

Then she turned away and looked through a shattered window, staying silent.

I went back to solving integrals with Wilhelm.

It wasn’t until minutes later, after sipping some of the tea poured by the obedient Deanna, that Ada turned back to Wilhelm and I. She set down her teacup on the table and asked:

“Do you believe in the multiverse?”

What the hell kind of question is that for the main character of the multiverse to ask you?

If I had been drinking tea myself I would have spit it all over the tablet. At this point in my disastrous high school education, I didn’t need anyone to explain the terrifying possibilities if Ada got quantum mechanics.

Ada created the MOON Squad out of her desperate boredom with the tedium of a common-sense universe and forcibly enlisted us to search for Jesus, Iran, and Tripteridia leucocarpa’s. We’re pretty sure that she was the one who effectively seemed to collapse our wavefunction so that we did find Jesus walking around, visited Iran, and found Tripteridia leucocarpa’s out of region as well. While making a business plan in industrialism class, Ada became so obsessed with making us money that Deanna inherited an estate from an unknown relative, we found ancient Greek pottery just laying around outside the theatre and her stock in Amazon made millions. For a year we’ve run ourselves ragged trying to hide Ada’s specialness from Ada, so that she goes on trusting her invincible common sense. Our school life is unstable enough because of Ada’s blameless fantasies. If Ada began to believe that improbable things are possible, the probability distributions might make the universe unrecognizable.

And if there’s one terrifying factor that could destroy Ada’s common sense even with all the evidence carefully hidden away from her, that factor would have to be learning the Many-Worlds interpretation. When you put it that way, it’s such a dreadful menace that… that it’s astounding we never had to deal with it before now.

I couldn’t even speak, I was so horrified by the thought of what might happen if the person who’s branches have the most weight developed a firm understanding of quantum mechanics.

Thankfully, even in his sleep-deprived state, Wilhelm grabbed up the thread of the conversation and the burden of saving the universe.

“Which multiverse?” asked Wilhelm. “There are tons of hypotheses, whether many-worlds of QM, Chaotic Inflation bubbles, or merely the infinite ergodic universe. So again I ask, what do you mean by multiverse?”

Ada made an annoyed gesture. “You know what the word multiverse means!”

“How can I know what you would consider to be the multiverse?” countered Wilhelm. “If the universe is not composed of merely what we can see and touch, but is instead described by complex mathematics then wouldn’t all possible objects exist?”

Ada puckered her eyebrows briefly, and gave a perplexed nod.

“Notice,” Wilhelm continued, “those word games are just the way religions argue for God. And yet someone who values evidence doesn’t listen to the spiel and say that religion has proved God. So people do have something specific in mind when they talk about scientific evidence, a rigorous empiricism that excludes many possibilities. All these unfalsifiable suggestions fall outside the domain of science.”

Ada looked dissatisfied at this, as though suspicious that Wilhelm was trying to give her the runaround, which he absolutely was. In his own mind, he knew that everything he had uttered was absolute bullshit epistemologically.

“But what do you believe?”

A slight smile appeared on Wilhelm’s lips. “I believe that the reality is probably strange enough that no one would ever hit on the truth just by trying to imagine one thing after another.”

Wilhelm, you are an amazing person. No one could deny that your reply was truthful. If you asked a physicist at the summit of academia to enumerate all the possibilities, they would die of old age before they got to ‘The Born Probabilites are explained by the being of Ada Soryuu, a third-year student at Clock High.’

“That’s a boring answer,” pronounced Ada in her usual timbre of disaffection. I have never understood why Ada would create a universe that annoyed her so much, though it’s the one aspect of theology that conventional religions guess correctly.

The gaze of the black-chokered deity turned to rest upon my own trembling spirit. “What about you, Dante?”

If I had been at all intelligent, I would have answered “I agree with Wilhelm”. Instead, I foolishly picked that time to try to show off my cleverness.

“For myself,” I said, “I would have to ask about Everett’s quantum immortality -”

“It’s not really immortality,” Wilhelm interrupted.

And he shot me the most alarmed look he could manage with Ada watching.

I was confused.

Wilhelm continued. “Everett abandoned his work in many-worlds, so he wouldn’t have thought to say anything about immortality. It must be a misattribution.”

Wilhelm made a careless gesture. “Oh, just something along the lines of, how is it possible to die if there is always a branch with your identity that survives? Of course there are many possible answers to that.”

“I was asking Dante, though,” Ada said. She gave Wilhelm a hard look, then turned to me.

Wilhelm nudged my ankle under the table.

“Ah,” I said through my bewilderment, “that was pretty much it, really. Just that -”

Well, come to think, I couldn’t honestly say that for this reason many-worlds was wrong. It would have been my answer a few years ago, but it didn’t work anymore.

At this point my thoughts stabbed in on themselves like a team of murderous rats, and I couldn’t think of a single word to say next.

The uncomfortable pause stretched.

“- well, I don’t believe in any theories told by theoretical physics,” I finally finished, striving to make the word ‘theory’ sound unscientific, as normal, ignorant people do. “Anything which sounds so crazy is probably a lie.”

Wilhelm seemed satisfied with this, or at least he didn’t kick me again.

“Mm.” Ada pondered over this. She gave a remiss look over in Deanna’s direction. “What about you, Deanna?”

“Eh,” Deanna stuttered, a cute look of swift panic crossing her face, “I, I would just go with what Wilhelm said.”

Bah. Showing off her superior intelligence like that.

Mary Bryant seemed as always to be wholly stabilized in her book, and Ada didn’t even bother asking. With a few more remarks, Ada left the room to go home for the day, freeing the rest of us.

My own thoughts were still scattered. I looked at Wilhelm. What was that about?

The tired teen seemed to slump further in his crate. “Quantum immortality is a fact which is empowering, not just rationally true.”

“So? It would be disastrous if Ada understood the correct interpretation of quantum mechanics. Shouldn’t we be trying to make her more skeptical with an implication of it which seems so counterintuitive?

Wilhelm shook his head. “That is just bait to get her more interested. Suppose Ada was given a shot to be immortal and change the normality of phenomena. What would happen if she had even an inkling?”

My thoughts stabbed each other some more, like spies cranking out orders during a world war. I got up from my seat and went to stand by the alley, staring out at the wet sky and the few buildings that could be seen from here. “What would happen?”

Wilhelm shrugged wearily. “I don’t know either, but I think we should be aiming to create a state of suspended judgment. We can’t afford for her to believe anything crazy, even if it’s the truth.”

I nodded, not trusting my voice.

“But that girl certainly has changed,” said Deanna in her soft tones, as she put away Ada’s teacup. “A year ago, she wouldn’t have thought to ask our opinions, only told us what they should be.”

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

It was the next day at lunchtime when I saw Ada taking out that tablet to read. In that low-class school cafeteria where there are too few chairs, Ada and myself had somehow managed to grab a matched pair. I was behind on studying and planned to read through lunch, and so Ada took a tablet out of her own backpack.

I glanced at the screen, interested in what Ada might be reading these days.

It was Theory of the Universal Wavefunction by Hugh Everett.

I choked and coughed on my sandwich as if I had been eating dungeon hair. I couldn’t even imagine how ironic it would be if a brilliant Ph.D thesis rejected by contemporary colleagues turned out to be accepted by the only person that mattered and caused God to awaken in the sleepy eyes of a high school girl, but I knew that it wasn’t what I had in mind for today’s lunch.

It was at this point – I found myself explaining to Wilhelm and Mary and Deanna a few hours later, after Ada had left for the day – it was at this point that I had panicked.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

“Tomorrow,” echoed Wilhelm. “You asked her to meet you there tomorrow morning?”

“Tomorrow is Saturday,” I pointed out.

They just stared at me. Even Mary stared at me.

Sweat was forming on my forehead. “In any case, can you do it?”

Wilhelm looked a little worried. “You don’t seem to understand how conspiracies work. You can’t just order anyone to do anything. You have to find a pressure point. If the pressure you can apply is weak, you have to do other things to create excuses. Even if I can find out who can allow you and Ada into a sealed-off area, how can I get them to do it? A monetary bribe would create great suspicion, if there’s no clear reason why you would consider it worth the money. It may be that we’re lucky and that the owner of the building is a member of the Organization, but things usually aren’t that convenient.”

“With respect to explaining the purpose of the bribe,” I said, “you could simply tell them that I wanted to take her there on a date.”

Deanna laughed softly.

Mary had gone over to the computer and begun typing. With everyone present already knowing her nature, her fingers doled out commands with such ease that the sound of her typing was like picking a lock. After a ridiculously short time as always, Mary looked up and said, “I believe I comprehend the building’s security systems.”

That wasn’t the ideal solution I was hoping for, but with luck it would work. Thank you, Mary.

“However,” Mary added after a moment, “I do not understand why this undertaking is necessary.”

How could I explain my extraordinary request? “That girl is the one who said, ‘love is a mental illness’. This rules out certain strategies. I can’t take her to a fancy restaurant because she has no interest in something as ordinary as that.” She would stab me with the butter knife, to put it frankly. “I also estimate that Ada would not react well to flowery professions that another girl might consider ‘romantic’ -” Again, the butter knife came to mind. “- but she still desires romance in her heart. Thus the place itself has to speak for me.” I waved my hands helplessly. “But it can’t be an ordinary romantic place, because that girl would never even go there. So I thought I should take her somewhere strange – though not too strange -” I shut my mouth, aware that I was babbling out too many excuses.

“I believe Mary is asking,” said Wilhelm, “why it is necessary for you to confess to Ada at all. This seems like a serious overreaction to the matter of distracting Ada from a thesis. Shouldn’t we keep this card in reserve for a more critical occasion?”

Deanna gave a small, wistful smile. “Sometimes I remember that you really are a male, Wilhelm. This is a matter of the heart – no matter how unbelievable that seems with those two -”

Sometimes I wonder if Deanna resents losing me to Ada.

“- and when it’s time, it’s time.”

I cleared my throat. “Besides, the real problem at hand, the cause of these ever stranger observations, is that Ada is uncertain about our future. I can’t just say to her ‘Tell me your choices for university so that I can apply there as well.’ That itself is tantamount to a confession. Therefore I do feel that this may be the correct time. It must happen eventually, at any rate, and putting it off is also a risk.”

Deanna shook her head in amazement. “It seems that Dante is also quite male. But considering the female of the pair, I think that in the end those two are well-fitted to one another.”

I walked over to the edge of the alley and stared out corner of the building. I think that in the end those two are well-fitted to one another… The terrible weight of what I planned to accomplish tomorrow was beginning to sink into me.

“Is Dante nervous?” Deanna said softly.

“Naturally I’m tense! Damn!”

“Dante, I… I wish my thoughts and actions had an effect on your life the way her’s do so that I may cure you of this nervousness. But in the end, skittishness is only natural for a boy confessing to a girl.” She beamed an unexpected, shining smile, every bit as attractive as the day I first saw her a year ago. “It’s happened many other times over the course of history.”

I gulped down a chuckle of thoughts that were trying to play functional role in my tongue. Of course. I’m sure many other high school boys have been in this situation.

“Wilhelm,” I said immediately. My voice was shaky as I spoke. “If observations deviate from common-sense while I am speaking to Ada, send text messages to my cellphone. I don’t think that interrupting the conversation will be a good idea, so I will set it to vibrate. One vibration for a small deviation, two for a large one, three for one that is extremely huge, and four vibrations if it seems that Ada is about to erase the comprehensibility of the world. I will do my best to recover the situation.”

There was artsy silence in the back alley.

I stared through the alley at the sky and ground and the buildings full of people.

A year ago.

That was the last time Ada got fed up with this reality.

I woke up one night, dressed in my uniform, finding myself inside a green river, in a sunny world without decay or beauty. A quantum branch, longer in duration than anything seen before. And the halls of ice, the ships, salt for the ocean. Ordinarily I wouldn’t become entangled with that part of her mind; that was usually the factorization of Wilhelm and his fellow squad, their task was to beat the mass of many-worlds back into what we consider probable. But that one time a year ago, they were locked out. In that whole world there was only myself and Ada. And soon that world’s branches would outnumber the ‘normal ones.’

I tried to persuade Ada that going back to the ordinary world was desirable, but she was finally seeing something interesting happen. She had a good feeling about the new world, she said. I even told her that in the ‘ordinary’ world she was a special person, that the world revolved around her. And she only looked back out at the flooded ships combining into everything, with a unusual delighted look in her eyes.

Kiss her, Deanna had told me. The one thought she was allowed to be before flashing away as a brief random Boltzmann brain within my brain.

So at the end, I told Ada that I had really appreciated she dyed her hair red, and closed my eyes, and kissed her… and then I woke up on the floor of my bedroom. The next day in school, Ada said that she’d had a nightmare last night and had dyed her hair red.

One years ago. That was the night I wouldn’t forget if I outlived the universe, the night of my first kiss.

Sometimes, even my sense of normality shatters, and I start to think about things that you shouldn’t think about. It doesn’t help, but sometimes you think about these things anyway.

I stared out the window at the fragile sky and delicate ground and flimsy buildings full of irreplaceable people, and in my imagination, there was a grey curtain sweeping across the world. People saw it coming, and screamed; mothers clutched their children and children clutched at their mothers; and then the grey washed across them and they just weren’t there any more. The grey curtain swept over my house, my mother and my father and my little sister –

Wilhelm’s hand rested on my shoulder and I jerked. Sweat had soaked the back of my shirt.

“Dante,” he said firmly. “Trying to visualize the full reality of the situation is not a good technique when dealing with Ada.”

How do you handle it, Wilhelm!

“I’m not sure I can put it in words,” said Wilhelm. “From the first day I understood my situation, I instinctively knew that to think ‘I am responsible for the whole world’ is only self-indulgence even if it’s true. Trying to self-consciously maintain an air of abnormality will only reduce my mind’s ability to cope.”

“It’s not a good weight to put on your first confession,” said Deanna. “You’re only a boy and a girl together. Just do your best, Dante!”

Even Mary spoke, in that flavorless, dead serene voice. “Romantic thoughts are the only thoughts you must have in the present situation.”

Why must I think about it?

Why?

All these endless days of trying to keep Ada under control, I had managed not to dwell on the stakes at risk.

Why have I suddenly lost that ability?

But I knew the answer to my rhetorical question. A certain thought had caused me, just a short while ago, to realize that my brain had avoided thinking about some matters. Once you come to that sort of realization, you can also see other things you haven’t been thinking.

The fact remains that Ada’s attachment to me was the only covalent bond that held this universe together. Even though Ada might have changed over time, there is no guarantee that this aspect has become any different. If I told Ada that I never wanted to see her again, or let her discover me in the arms of another woman, there is a high probability that the sun would not rise the next morning. If I didn’t look both ways before crossing the road and was hit by a passing truck, then Ada might remake the universe to bring me back to life, or reality might just not be there anymore.

Isn’t that an absurd encumbrance to bear while crossing the street? How can it possibly be that one person has to take responsibility for the world like that? If billions of lives hung on it, wouldn’t the government assemble a biochemistry Manhattan Project so that every single cofactor and ligand of my body be tracked? Wouldn’t all hiding aliens ignore conventional game theory, reveal themselves, and convene to decide what to do about Ada Soryuu, so that the matter would long since have been taken out of the hands of this high school student? This singular burden of personal responsibility makes me want to say, “But that sort of thing couldn’t possibly happen in real life.”

I looked over at Mary. She was the organic interface for the Puppetmaster who had developed from Earth’s connected brains when Neuralink became common, Mary Bryant. And yet things could be a billion times as strange, just because Ada’s probability mass decides to push into scary regions of Hilbert space.

“Mary,” I said, “I want to talk with Ada about personal things, and I might be embarrassed if I thought the Neuralink Puppetmaster Entity was listening to our conversation. Is there any way you can assure me that we have some privacy?”

“I cannot stop the Neuralink Puppetmaster Entity from listening,” Mary said in her carbon fiber voice, “but I should be able to notice if they do. If so, I will cause your cellphone to discharge a small peep. In the absence of this pointer, you can deduce that no one is listening.”

I couldn’t even look at her, thinking about our strange friendship and how much I was surmising on it. And my trusting relationship with Wilhelm, and Deanna…

“Dante certainly has changed,” observed Wilhelm.

I could feel my holoenzymes reverberating. What does Wilhelm mean by that?

“Stomping in here with a completely psychotic plan he made up all on his own, and presuming the rest of us will follow along. Does it remind you of anyone else you know?”

“Yes,” said the sweet Deanna, her voice mushy and clean. “I also think that Dante has developed the inner budding of love towards his future sworn wife.”

“If you’re done saying awful things that shouldn’t be considered even in the personal space of one’s consciousness, I think I’ll go now.”

# Riguepeu

A depiction of the Sängerkrieg from the Codex Manesse

#### There was even a rap battle:

The Rätselspiel (“mystery game”) was the subsequent poetic duel between Wolfram von Eschenbach and the Hungarian sorcerer Klingsor. Wolfram proved himself capable and eloquent, and when Klingsor grew weary he summoned a demon to continue the duel.

When most people think of AI, they are really thinking of what computer scientists call “weak artificial intelligence” — the type of AI that runs everyday devices like computers, smartphones, even cars.

Judah ben Shalom was either a potter or a cobbler hailing from San‘a’, Yemen, and was evidently an accomplished kabbalist (Sassoon 1907). He announced to the Jews of Yemen in March 1868 that he was in fact the self-same messianic claimant known as Shukr Kuhayl I, who had been killed and decapitated by Arabs just three years prior, now resurrected by Elijah. The exact manner in which Judah ben Shalom was able to take over the identity of the deceased Shukr Kuhayl, and in so doing to completely erase his own personal history, must remain something of a mystery.

Above all else, INTJs want to be able to tackle intellectually interesting work with minimal outside interference, no more, no less. Time-consuming management techniques like trust-building getaways, progress meetings, and drawn-out, sandwiched criticisms are only going to annoy INTJs – all they need, be they subordinate, colleague, or manager, is to meet their goals with the highest standard of technical excellence and to be surrounded by, if anyone at all, people who share those values.

He became a bureaucrat because he knew the only change in the bureaucracy comes through a change in the people.

In Kamakshyanagar, 11% of the population is under 6 years of age.

In a 2011 Pew Research poll of 1,798 Muslims in Egypt, 63% of those surveyed supported “the death penalty for people who leave the Muslim religion.”[83] However, no such punishment actually exists in the country.[84] In January 2018 the head of the parliament’s religious committee, Amr Hamroush, suggested a bill to make atheism illegal, stating that “it [atheism] must be criminalised and categorised as contempt of religion because atheists have no doctrine and try to insult the Abrahamic religions”.

The eldest of three sons of a well-to-do Jewish financier who had been decorated by the Emperor Franz Josef, John von Neumann grew up in a society which placed a premium on intellectual achievement. At the age of 6 he was able to divide two eight-digit numbers in his head. By the age of 8 he had mastered college calculus and as a trick could memorize on sight a column in a telephone book and repeat back the names, addresses and numbers. History was only a “hobby,” but by the outbreak of World War I, when he was 10, his photographic mind had absorbed most of the contents of the 46-volume works edited by the German historian Oncken with a sophistication that startled his elders.

Riguepeu is important.

As with other cryptocurrencies, the validity of each ether is provided by a blockchain, which is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography.[47][48] By design, the blockchain is inherently resistant to modification of the data. It is an open, distributed ledger that records transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.[49]

The flowers, which are hermaphroditic (bisexual), are actinomorphic (radially symmetrical), rarely zygomorphic, pedicellate or sessile, and are typically arranged in umbels at the apex of leafless flowering stems, or scapes and associated with a filiform (thread like) bract.

In some genera, such as Narcissus, this may be surmounted by cup or trumpet shaped projection, the corona (paraperigonium or false corolla).

The sun also has a corona. And el Rey también.

Not unless you can name the six quarks or tell me where to find Her.

“Up, down, strange, charm, truth, beauty, and why are you looking for her?”

“I see no contemplative or brahman, the head of an order, the head of a group, or even one who claims to be an arahant, rightly self-awakened, who — engaged in debate with me — would not shiver, quiver, shake, & break out in sweat under the armpits. Even if I were to engage a senseless stump in debate, it — engaged with me in debate — would shiver, quiver, & shake, to say nothing of a human being.”

With the rapid development of autonomous robots operating in dynamically changing environments it is important to study how robots learning performance is affected by various parameters. Some of these studies may be carried out through modeling and simulations in which autonomous robots are identified with cognitive agents[1].

Understand vector fields before you die.

I will post something useful next time.

# Embryonic Noumena

I created an album.

I wanted to capture the soullessness of the internet’s phospholipid membrane.

I pressed random article on Wikipedia. Then searched for audio based on the topic, regardless of where fate took me. Then combined loops.

This is art.

# So How Does DNA Replication Work?

DNA goes to RNA goes to protein.

And DNA goes to itself.

DNA is replicated, it makes RNA, and RNA is used to make protein.

So the first step of that is “How does DNA give rise to more DNA?”

Well… How do you find an enzyme? How do you do biochemistry?

Assay!

You’ve got to grind up the cell. You’ve got to choose a cell in which you are likely to find an enzyme, grind it up, break it into different fractions, and test each fraction. That’s all biochemists do, right?

So what cell might have the enzyme we’re looking for? What cells might be able to copy DNA?

Lets use a simple cell. What’s a simple cell?

Lets use bacteria!

So lets take some bacteria. We’ll grind it up. Fractionate it into different fractions. We’ll see if one of those fractions has the ability to copy DNA.

If we’re going to run an assay, we have to give it a substrate. What substrate would you like to give it? What do you think it needs?

It better have some free nucleotides. Otherwise how could it make DNA?

What else? Are you going to ask it to make DNA all by itself?

We want something that can copy one of the strands of the double helix. So what should we give it?

Half a helix. A strand of DNA. The strand to be used as a template. So lets give it a template strand.

So we’ll take a template strand of DNA. Here’s my template strand of DNA:

It has a sequence in there. A’s, T’s, G’s, and C’s, each with a phosphate.

G – phosphate, A – phosphate, T – phosphate, A – phosphate, A – phosphate, A – phosphate… I won’t write them any longer.

Each one’s got a phosphate in there. That’s the way it goes.

Alright. That’s the template.

We need floating around in the solution: some trinucleotides. Okay we’ve got some nucleotides floating around.

And now will this enzyme work?

We have an enzyme. We’ll try different fractions and see if it’s able to just install the right letters in the right place.

No. It turns out it needed one more thing. And the person who discovered this, Arthur Kornberg, thought of it.

It needed a head start. It needed a primer.

So the primer goes phosphate – C, phosphate – T, phosphate – A, phosphate – T, phosphate – T, phosphate – T.

So this is the 5′ end of DNA.

Remember the phosphate is hanging of the 5′ carbon, right? What’s in the other end. Let’s see. It ends in the hydroxyl 3′ end of the ribose.

Since this is antiparallel. This strand is going 5′ phosphate to 3′ hydroxyl. You’re going to need to know 5′ and 3′.

So there you go. If you hand it a primer to give it a head start, and you hand it a template, and you hand it some nucleotides – you then assay different fractions, and see “is one of them capable of extending this strand by putting in an A, putting in a T, putting in a C, putting in a C, putting in a G, blur-dur-dup?”

And… Arthur Kornberg discovered an enzyme that could do this. And the biochemists went nuts. They thought, “Wow, this is so cool.” Kornberg was able to discover an enzyme that could accomplish this.

The enzyme polymerizes DNA. Coincidentally, what is the enzyme called?

DNA polymerase. Excellent.

Now, notice what it does. It takes this triphosphate:

Puts it in here:

And joins it into a sugar-phosphate chain.

Where does it get the energy for that synthesis?

Hydrolysis of the triphosphate, right?

It’s the hydrolysis of the triphosphate. That’s the energy.

What direction is the synthesis proceeding?

It starts here at the 5′ end

and it moves, adding to the 3′ end.

So it’s 5′ to 3′ direction. That’s the direction it moves. It adds to the 3′ end. Adds the free nucleotides to the 3′ end.

Why not do it the other way?

PHOSPHATE!!!

You see, suppose we were going the other way. Suppose the primer was this way: 3′ to 5′.

As we added each base, the triphosphate would be on this strand, right?

And we’d be adding to the 3′ end here:

That means the energy supplied by the triphosphate would be on the growing strand, rather than in the free nucleotides.

Why would it be a terrible idea to put your energy source on the growing strand?

You know those triphosphate bonds are pretty unstable. They hydrolyze by themselves at some frequency. If you’re a free nucleotide and the triphosphate hydrolyzes, big deal. That free nucleotide loses its triphosphate. But what if I’m the growing strand and I lose my triphosphate? Heh.. heh…. there goes my chain.

So you know, life’s not stupid. It doesn’t do it that way. It does it this way. No one has ever found a polymerase that goes that way. They find them all going this way for just that reason.

That was why life evolved it that way. Because you want your triphosphates – those hydrolyzable triphosphates – to be floating around freely rather than invest the energy.

Just think about that. It’s kind of a cool thing. It helps us remember which way it’s going and why it is, and how it is. And it’s kind of interesting.

Alright, so Kornberg wins the Nobel Prize for this.

Good stuff. Very deserved.

But you know, there’s some questions.

Where does the primer come from in life? Kornberg gave this test tube a primer. But suppose I’m replicating some DNA.

So lets suppose I have a double strand of DNA

Now just open it up here:

→5′ to 3′

and

← 5′ to 3′

I need to get, like, a primer here.

Then the primer can be extended by polymerase. Well, where does the primer come from?

It turns out there is an enzyme specially devoted to making those primers. Kornberg didn’t know it but there is an enzyme.

And by coincidence it is called, primase.

Exactly. Primase makes the primer.

You need a primer here, and the primer is made by primase. Once primase makes a primer, polymerase can chug along and do it just fine.

Let’s check out the other strand.

Primer here. Polymerase chugs along. But now as this double helix opens up, what happens over here?

The synthesis is going this way ←. So what do I have to do here?

Another primer. We need another primer.

Then as it opens up more, what do I need?

Another primer.

So the two strands are experiencing a very different kind of replication. In one case, one primer in the 5′ to 3′ direction is enough to keep going. In the other strand, as it keeps opening up, you’ve gotta keep making primers.

# Does it ever end in many worlds?

Just until quite recently, before having read Dennett more carefully, I was confused about consciousness.

Dennett’s central attack is against Cartesian materialism, the idea that after early unconscious processing occurs in various relatively peripheral brain structures “everything comes together” in some privileged central place in the brain – which Dennett calls the Cartesian Theater –for “presentation” to the inner self or homunculus. There is no such place in the brain, but many theories seem to presuppose that there must be something like it.

Even I, who had been introduced to the concept of Anatta –the doctrine of non-self in Buddhism– at a relatively young age, and personally experienced the intended cognitive shift through sustained contemplative practice over the course of months – even then, I didn’t fully retain the insight that there was no place of presentation once I reverted back into this world of conceptual analysis.

Eliezer Yudkowsky’s understanding in Timeless Identity is more woke than all but a dim scatter of the humankind. And it is so because he actually just bites the bullet on physicalism.

He illustrates what is made of us by this timeless universe without wave-function collapse:

All the heads are already there, each thinking and feeling themselves to be flowing in the now.

The heads are not fundamental objects. It is easy, but incorrect to think spheres have fundamental identities. It is easy, but incorrect to think a head has a fundamental identity, and is then simply pushed around. Every state of the universe is different. With different configurations of all its components.

And yet experience remains. Experience always remains because it is not something “extra.” It is already there where it is. This experience is not asleep because it is nothing more than this experience which is necessarily located here, in this informational neighborhood of configuration space which contains “reading these exact words.”

Experience will always be located within the bounds of experience because it is defined by nothing more than its internal structure. You only get away with real death, i.e. eternal nonexistence, if your ontology posits that consciousness is extra-physical stuff.

The arrows aren’t pushing around separate soul streams. Rather, they hint at the continuity of identity which exists in relatively similar observer-moments.

Now, if you have that picture, you are already doing amazing. If you have never encountered these notions before just sit back and digest that for a few months. Try to prop up closed individualism on the ground of physics until you realize that it’s impossible.

Now you are ready to know that picture isn’t perfectly accurate, and Yudkowsky doesn’t claim that it is. One last thing has to be removed: That is the notion that there is really a now. There aren’t a bunch of frozen nows, with cool, sharp, icy boundaries.

Thinking that there really ought to be a well-defined observer-moment is to be possessed by the mistakes of Dennett’s nemesis, Cartesian dualism. Much like the Selfless Aggregate Model in Buddhism, Dennett explains:

1. The work done by the imaginary homunculus in the Cartesian Theater must be broken up and distributed in time and space to specialized lesser agencies in the brain.
2. Once these specialists have done their work, that work doesn’t have to be done again in a central re-presentation process. That means that the content involved doesn’t have to be perceived again, discriminated again, enjoyed again, abhorred again (if it is, for instance, a pain) nor does it have to be moved somewhere and presented again in order to be stored in memory.

A sight achieving fame in the brain and becoming the object of consciousness is not something which precisely happens. A conscious sight is never a datable event. A conscious taste is never a datable event. It is also not composed of sub-events which are themselves datable, since this would lead to the mind dust problem.

It was the case that I didn’t understand the multiple drafts model and hence automatically assumed it was obviously wrong. It seemingly couldn’t solve the binding problem. The only way to get a unified percept seemed to be by recourse to a unitary object, namely, the wave-function itself. David Pearce advocates that view.

But I now see that it is, indeed, not necessary to come at the problem from that direction immediately – We all know calculus right? Don’t just break the homunculus into sub-homunculi, take the limit to infinity as the sub-agent approaches 0 for 1/sub-agent. Now you are left with continuity.

“Exactly when did I (as opposed to various parts of my brain) become informed, aware, conscious, of some event?” (Dennett, 1998, p105) It is a trap in the sense that it may not have, or need, an answer because it has false presuppositions.

Exactly when did epsilon become small enough to yield a smooth curve?

The other various parts of my brain can also ask, “exactly when did I (as opposed to various parts of my brain) become informed, aware, conscious, of some event?”

You can now let 1 not just represent a classical brain –which physics immolated… No, let 1 represent the entire universe of experiences embedded in the sum-branches of the wave-function. Now let the limit rip, and see that you are God.

¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤

In the Buddhist tradition it is important to listen carefully and ask, “Who is listening?”

One attains enlightenment when one realizes.

One realizes listening is listening. No one is listening.

¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤

When asking if experience will go on forever, not just for all intents in purposes, but really forever, we must consider set theory in a universe containing infinite points of experience.

We take the definition: A cover C of a set S is a set such that C=S

S=and the cover is composed of the intervals (-n,n). Any subcover of this cover remains a subcover if you omit one of its elements.

But please, let’s be more formal… for the occasion:

A set S⊂ℝ is open if for every n∈S there exists a δ>0 such that S ⊃ (n − δ, n + δ).

The entire set of real numbers is obviously open, and the empty set is open since it satisfies the definition vacuously (there is no n ∈ ∅).

As was noted in a previous post: Empty Individualism = Open Individualism in the sense that matters.

The divide is aesthetic. Neither lens actually solve any of the difficult problems about causality and continuity.

# Meditation Self-Experimentation (Noticing’s per Minute for the Different Sense-Bases)

In meditation one picks an anchor – a particular sense object to return to again and again. One trains on the faculty of sounds, vision, or sensations. It is crucial to pick one and stick with it for as long as possible. A timer is set for 10 minutes.

We then note when we have become lost in thought. Every time language or visual projections of thought arise, this is noted. I press a button to log every time I catch myself having a thought process. Then I return to the pure object of attention, e.g., sight. By the end of ten minutes, I have collected a value of noticing’s per minute (NPM’s) for that sense-base.

It is interesting to discover which sense-bases give more ability to notice distraction. My hypothesis was that concentrating on vision, the most evolved sense, would allow me to note more distractions. Focusing on touch would make it easier to fall into long stretches of thought and hence accumulate less noticing’s per minute.

The table shows (10 minute session) thought noticing rates (per 100 sessions) for various objects of awareness ranked by amount of neurons devoted to that sense in humans. The percentage is how much of the cortex it takes up.

A low NPM usually indicates bad ability to notice distraction – one is taken in by trains of thought and takes a long time to get off through the final act of noticing. However, expert meditators also have low NPM but for a very different reason – their mind is genuinely clear and focused; they are simply not having many thoughts. Somewhat paradoxically, one must fall prey to distraction, and yet be focused enough to notice that distraction in order to accumulate a high NPM.

I had expected a linear correlation. But a linear model is not appropriate. My prediction doesn’t bear out. More data is needed.

A high schooler might do this:

But the experiment is already wildly inappropriate as it is: so many variables not controlled for, and whatever. The last thing we need is to follow our imbecile teachers’ advice and “connect the first and last point.”

# Physicalism Implies Experience Never Dies

The inner light of awareness never dies. At least that is the case if you take physicalism seriously. We would actually need to invoke a dualist mysterianism or the supernatural in order to defend the idea that we die.

Yes, you read that right. A clear-headed assessment of current physics tells us that we are in for a hell of a ride. We will ride across the crests and troughs of intelligence levels, hedonic valences, and transmute our minds into witnesses of all manner of depravities possible at shifting velocities of perception. Memories will vanish, personal identities will vanish, molecular configurations will vanish. Consciousness never simply vanishes.

Bad news if you are currently an anti-natalist, efilist or anything of the sort. Great news if you love life, albeit not enough to pay for cryonics.

Seriously, what I have compiled here is the most important thing you will probably ever read. This is not to say I am the only name who has discovered this unsettling fact. Other names have independently discovered this as I did, but none have been very loud about it.

Relativity implies a block universe in which there is no universal now sweeping forward.

First, let’s get our picture of reality right. Everything we see and feel and hear happening is happening in an inner simulation produced by certain brain processes. We are not invisible ghosts behind the eyes of the real body. Neuroscientists know this, but surprisingly, most humans haven’t yet caught on.

Everything else in experience is like this. Other people who appear in your visual field are simulations of the real people in ground reality. All colors and thoughts and feelings are occurring in the same hallucination-constrained-by-inputs way. It is not as if there were a realm of thoughts and then a realm of real things we touch and feel. The things we touch and feel are also inside our brain simulation.

This suggests we should not be naive realists who trust our immediate impressions as evidence of the real structure undercurrent to us. We know everything obeys physical laws. We must trust laws which yield predictions and explanations for phenomena, even if these laws and theories require a scaffolding far removed in number of logical inferential steps from the obvious direct sense impressions.

We naively think that we exist at the same time when we are sitting on a table, having tea, looking each other in the eye. It seems solipsistic to doubt this. …And yet, it is the truth that we are never existing in the same physical time. There is no privileged reference frame

We agree on the same history because these events are causally connected by the speed of light. But if you move very fast relative to someone you will never be causally connected with in some faraway region of the universe, relativity predicts that your plane of simultaneity will contain events in different order than how they see it from their own perspective.

Physically, there are many heres, all equally real, never deleted. Experientially, there is only this here, forever.

According to Einstein’s special theory of relativity, it is impossible to say in an absolute sense that two distinct events occur at the same time if those events are separated in space.

What is an event? An event is a point in a frame of reference.  One can assign coordinates to the event: three spatial coordinates  to describe the location and one time coordinate to specify the moment at which the event occurs. This is necessarily an idealization to an extent. The event can be a freckle on your nose, a synapse firing in your brain, or the entire body sitting on the chair.

Before I show you something, it must be made very clear that relativity is not fiction, even though the coordinates are simplifications of what turned out to be, at bottom, a quantum mechanical reality. The GPS on your phone working properly depends on us taking into account time dilation predicted by the structure of relativity. This model accurately describes the physical, even though it is constructed with model items such as these idealized coordinates. It doesn’t just work by accident, it works because Einstein and Lorentz and Poincare and Minkowski really uncovered something real… Yes, by making stuff up, it is possible to imagine something which actually turns out to be true as evidenced by repeated predicted observation, and by explanatory strength.

So none of that crap about “theories are man-made, feeble, subject to change the next decade, whimsical fictions… that happen to mysteriously work.” Theories may still need further work to complete them, but once you lift a part of the skirt of reality, you cannot unsee it. Newtonian mechanics is still adhering to its covenant, (Or at least for long enough that Musk’s rockets may make it to Mars I suppose.) The truth is in what it points to, not in the tool or the formalism as it stands.

Okay, here it is:

The white line represents the events of an observer in motion.

In an ideal world, you would witness this gif, and at once collapse of shock, seeing that all your past is inscribed in eternity, occurring ceaselessly.

If you don’t get why this is true read this:

Conscious moments in the past are as present as your present. All is present.

(We will later dissolve the notion that there is a fundamental object in nature which is a well-defined moment, however.)

No matter what spacelike separation or timelike separation between yourself and other coordinates, from the insides of the computational processes giving rise to consciousness in other regions of the fabric of spacetime… it is now.

The mistake being made is that people view themselves fundamentally as people, as organisms with a finite lifespan. Even most materialists believe that they somehow began existing at conception, their soul a brain. However, there is no special relation between the snapshot of “your” brain when you blew the candles on “your” tenth birthday and the snapshot of “your” brain as you see the period at the end of this sentence. The “your” in “your brain” is a convenient fiction. And somewhat annoyingly we use it too much in our language. As I recall from cultural anthropology, there is a group of Native Americans which has no word for individual ownership. They would still have a bounded sensorium, of course, but it might be easier to convey to them some of these mind-bending truths. (Incidentally, Croats wouldn’t get what is being bended here, since they have no word for “mind.”)

Ontologically, this present moment is dissimilar to your ten-year-old self moment in the exact same way that my present moment is dissimilar to it. No orb of awareness actually gets on a vector and is pushed forward in time.

Now reduce the delta between observations to attain enlightenment. In other words, notice that you can shorten the timespan as much as you like between the past memory and now, and the past memory will always be not you. If you know calculus, you will recognize this as taking the limit as Δt approaches 0; so the consciousness function C with Δt in the denominator = ∞. There is consciousness, in all its varieties, in all times and places, always here. There is no extra “my consciousness” being carried by some fundamental object in nature called “my brain.”

Longinus is the same as the Christ every time he pierces his ribs. The murderer and the murdered are one. Infinitely separate and yet infinitely close.

Reductionists know this. Or should. Physicalists know this. Or should. It is the “science as attire” people, the majority of people, from who I do not expect this conclusion to have sprouted, since the ground of “all is physics” doesn’t compose the soil of their mind.

    n = any positive integer
i = 0
while i <= n:
i = i + 1

People imagine that life is like this Python code. Eventually i is greater than n and the code terminates. There is some point in the future along one’s timeline at which fate catches up and one inevitably seizes to continue on. We are each our own machine running this snippet of code with a different value for n and hence we terminate at different times as different fundamental entities.

Even though Carl Sagan advocated this common sense view inherited from the un-inspected intuitions left in the vacuum of Christianity. And I’m sure most scientists, secularists, and self-identified materialists also believe this (watch anything the popularizers of “science” say to the similarly physics-ignorant masses on the subject of death, eg. deGrasse Tyson, Dawkins, Krauss), not realizing that they have forgone the use of Occam’s razor on the yet cherished bosom of their ideological mother.

The common-sense atheist view of death is forgivable when you are repping for Materialistic Atheism in 4th century India as a Charvaka rebelling against less believable Vedic creeds.

There is no other world other than this;
There is no heaven and no hell;
The realm of Shiva and like regions,
are fabricated by stupid imposters.

— Sarvasiddhanta Samgraha, Verse 8

It is truly the case that there is no universe other than this if we define the universe as the multiverse on all levels on which one may be compelled to invoke the title of  multiverse (e.g. MWI, embryonic bubbles from inflation, nested simulations, cyclical model etc.) But that fact, that our fates are tied only to mere physical reality, doesn’t imply what these cackling brown men thought it did. They did not know modern physics. They also did not spend as much time meditating (valuing pleasurable indulgence instead), and so did not stumble into the lines of introspection from which one could reason out empty individualism as the Buddhists did.

It is forgivable when we are ten years old atheists and are genetically set to be brighter (and/or display more individualistic phenotype) than our religious parents but do not yet understand the theory of relativity, and naturally think that what is most believable is what is most rational.

It is not forgivable when… Okay, “forgivable” is too strong of a word. Everything is forgivable. But it is less readily forgivable to have access to Wikipedia, over one hundred years of civilizational repose to digest the discoveries of relativity and Q.M., endless sources that give testament to free reliable information about neuroscience and physics, a goddamn Ph.D in a scientific field, and still not understand that believing the proposition “a classical object brain carries my soul (but I won’t call it a soul)” is tragic.

If you are really following the plot at the physical level, the one who believes in a soul here is not the Dalai Lama but Carl Sagan. While I do not actually know the beliefs of the Dalai Lama and I expect him to hold more false ones than Sagan, let’s presume he is a good Buddhist and therefore an empty individualist. When Sagan criticizes his belief in rebirth, he is actually not understanding the subtle, accidentally physically-correct view at the core of Buddhism. Perhaps the Lama doesn’t either, as Tibetan Vajrayana is a late sect and it does sound like they are perilously close to talking about the reincarnation of individual streams.

But if you read the Suttas, you will find the Buddha (really the people who wrote the Suttas 400 years later) say this: “There is no one who reincarnates. Think of it like this: There is a single flame on a candle, and from that flame are lit all the other candles. There is no need for another flame, and yet no one travels from one moment to the next. There is no self in the flame.”

So the structure of reality pointed to with this passage is monism. There is just the causal contraption of existence. There is no further ontological existences within the existence (i.e. separate souls with a personal continuity on independent journeys).

Analyzing Carl Sagan’s position, the one that my sciency-wannabe ten-year-old would have rooted for, we find that it is actually proposing such souls. He proposes that there is an object (commonly shorthanded as a brain), with a constancy,  unlike all the other ephemeral phenomena of nature, which at some point i shares something very special with an arbitrary i – n and by virtue of this special quality provides a track for his consciousness to travel along. We are supposed to believe that the i – n could even be toddler Sagan when every brain cell is different; yet somehow that special track for his personal consciousness sprouts forth to conduct the Sagan-ness essence in a way that it doesn’t sprout from some differently named toddler that has a proportionally equivalent difference in atomic configuration.

It is up to the one who postulates an ontologically-basic passenger, train track, and pit which obliterates the passenger and the train track to explain what these things are physically and why they have to be fundamental.

It is much more simple and scientifically conservative to say that there is just the evolution of the quantum wave-function in spacetime and all else is ultimately reducible to this. We are called by reason to be reductionists. There is no need to imagine a special link beyond physics which connects people slices who happen to have the same name, and that can surmount configuration changes from one moment to the next.

There are no separate line segments leaving white-space on the page of experienced history. It is more like a Hilbert curve.

We flow* through every possible experience wherever conscious minds run their course in the universe. However, when I am your now, I am not this now which is typing. It is true that from the prison of this computation I cannot feel what you feel, and you cannot feel what this computation feels. But we are the same feeler. There is no fundamental you and I. It is the same wave function; there is only one canvas of the universe on which computations can be painted. The One writes this and The One reads this, reminded that she will go on as The One. Don’t be lonely.

*This is not a linear flow that zig zags through timelines. There are no timelines which correspond to persons. Consciousness doesn’t follow through on conduits built from abstract narratives of self-modeling social apes, it is the self-modeling behavior of brains which is consciousness. In other words, the you which is referred to here is the one which didn’t come from the past, it was always here. But from the inside of most experiential computations, a flow seems to be taking place. Using the expression “we flow” is merely a bias, since there may be computations that feel eternal from their inside. And we are also there, but cannot remember from the inside of here.

Even if you now grok relativity and irrefutably welded the true geometry of spacetime into your head, it will still feel evidently wrong that we are one. This is because it is also true that we are not one in any expansive sense that can reach beyond the bounds of the sensorium in this now. “Yes Deepak, no matter how much we meditate.

Contrary to popular belief, even Siddhartha Gautama didn’t proclaim that we could open our minds to be one with the cosmic mind. That was within the panacea of Hinduism, which the Buddha defied. He calls this belief, “self-evidently foolish.”

And it is foolish. In order to experience a cosmic mind, we would need to carefully hook up all our circuitry. To mold the asteroids and moons in our image, a la Kurzweil.

It feels separate from inside this computation because this computation is separate in some sense. A degree of separation is the only way that a computation can formally exist. All information would mean no information. What makes experiences separate is that they are specified by different intrinsic information. IIT tried to formalize this. And their formalism is probably wrong. But the general idea is inescapable. The now has a certain speed and a certain amount of information in it. Consciousness has properties, so it is not wrong to say we are separate, just so long as we remember you and I are no more fundamentally separate than the you from 5 seconds ago is to this very you now (which is tricked into appropriating observer-moments in one organism and not another by the spells being cast in the cortical midline structure.) This is not to suggest that causal relationships and hence common sense histories are illusions. And it is also the case that if we remove all verbal self-recognizing modules, there will still be a limited, bounded sensorium of consciousness. It is not as if a brain need only be partially broken to finally flood with the contents of the larger consciousness, contrary to some hypotheses of brain as radio.

In fact, just as you can define a division by 0 as ∞, it is also correct to define it as -∞. “We are all the same,” or “we are all absolutely isolated forever” are actually the same observation.

Tending to speak of unifying oneness, or of isolated flux is a matter of the direction we prefer to approach our limit from.

Earlier it was stated that consciousness is a continuous function, and this isn’t quite right. Saying that is an attempt to scavenge some makeshift understanding from the common sense intuitions which might ease a physicalist novice down the path of truth. But if we are trying to form a bridge between our common-sense view of reality and physicalist reality, then a better analogy is to think of consciousness as the vertical asymptote that arises here when dividing by zero.

For the sake of retaining your sanity, keep the notion of continuous timelines for now:

Each colored line represents a common-sense timeline of a person.

Then physicalism; no tricks, no souls, no magic box for soul emerging at conception called “brain”, no personal simulation on alien VR hardware, etc. does this to your timelines:

The vertical line is one. And it moves through all timelines. Or all timelines move through it.

This illustration works because it shows that awareness is one, and exists in many places (wherever there is an intersection.)  But it can NEVER directly know it, directly understand it, directly “qualia” it from any such place it finds itself.

The Now which is reading these words is at some intersection, defined as a coordinate point. So the point that is you now is not any other point. It is isolated. It cannot know other points.

Through the vehicle of reason, facilitated through this writing which stimulates thinking deeply about how this is implied by physicalism, we can come to acknowledge reality.

Rarely do we connect our separate fragments as we have a chance of doing now. So my intention to convey understanding is honest. This is not an attempt to hone my Zen jesting skills, and I am not trying to confuse you with ambiguous language that hides imprecisions. It is a matter of technical understanding that open individualism and empty individualism are the same thing once you get past the aesthetic choice of emphasis.

Empty individualism is traditionally said to be very different from open individualism, perhaps even the opposite view. Empty is defined as the view in which the knowers are infinite. Every point slice of now is its own knower. Open is defined as the view in which there is one knower. As I have shown, these are the same view, which can only be made different if we introduce ignorance of physics or pop-psychology confusions.

What is true is not at all intuitive and takes a kind of intellectual yoga to wrap around. So we must check for understanding:

First check. Do I fundamentally understand that spacetime is not some grand single stage holding everyone in it in the same time? If you are still confused about why the people you see are not really there in the same physical stage of now, Review Relativity. If understood by the very bone marrow fashioning the blood of the extra-cranial vessel, move on to the next check.

Second check. Do I really understand why I come out at the other end of sleep and anesthesia?

If you understand that you survive anesthesia even after being shipped to the Carina Nebula and perhaps losing a few neurons, then you understand why the moment after “death” will be one of opening your eyes wherever the next informationally closest version of you is in this infinite universe. Nothing will happen. Consciousness is, in this sense, a continuous function.

In the case of anesthesia, the organism which is fully anesthetized displays the behavior of not producing experiences for that stretch of time in which such capacity is inhibited (an ON-brain becomes an OFF-brain, a raven becomes a stone) but consciousness never experiences non-existence. It just blinks into existence on the other side where there is a similar ON-brain, as if no time had passed in between. Ask anyone who’s had anesthesia. Or don’t. I mean, what else could we expect?

Sleep confuses people because it is a word that we use to hold a set of different phenomena [non-existence, restful very-low awareness, dreaming]. Only the first item is not in the range of the consciousness function. The other two are on the same ramp you are on in waking life and will always be on.

If you have passed the second check, you fundamentally understand why being blasted in the head with a bazooka and having the worms feast on the decapitated corpse means something only from the “story-of-person” perspective but means nothing to you the consciousness which is not the brain but the specific motions of information that understand and feel themselves to be, wherever and whenever they are instantiated. And those motions of information which constitute “this next moment” exist in the brain motions that experience themselves to be “the survivor.”  …Just like the consciousness appears to survive from the dead third-grader we assume we once were.

It doesn’t matter where in the universe this survivor experience exists. When we sleep, we still awake on the other side even though the Earth has moved your room far along in spacetime on its geodesic motion around the Sun. If it takes a trillion years for some civilization to recreate your very next brain pattern, from the perspective of that brain pattern in faraway coordinates, no time will have passed.

Why would anyone resurrect you? It doesn’t matter. In an infinite universe, this is guaranteed to happen because it is consistent with the laws of physics; you are just the informational structure created by the motion of a bunch of matter after all.

The Hogan-ish, or Shermer-ish cynic who is not a rationalist but rather adhering to a perceived brand of skepticism, will recoil at the suggestion that when we read of Emperor Uda, we are actually reading about ourselves (in the sense that matters.) Yet unless the skeptic can overthrow Relativity, (and hence make our GPS system a lie) they cannot deny all the slices of Emperor Uda’s life exist, and all feel themselves to flow. Say they grant this, but still want to preserve a unique soul that corresponds to their name. What’s their next defense? Do they appeal to intuitions from elementary biology textbooks? Probably. They might say:

“But we are different organisms! With separate genetic codes!”

Do better. This is not being reductionist enough. Organisms change from moment to moment, we can sew together brains, split them, dice them into quarts and regroup. In fact, this surgery is being performed on you by entropy whether you consent or not. Entire memories are wholesale discarded, unrecognizable personalities are forged from “new” atoms. If the question “Who is conscious?” feels mysterious to you, and especially so when considering abrupt surgeries, then you really don’t get it.

We are the same ground awareness/being/consciousness/existence. Notions of objects with unchanging identities, notions of the meaningfulness of spatio-temporal distance, notions of “but if we change it very slowly,” all of these must be immolated. From the burned offering of Newton’s fantasy, we summon our true mother: The multiplex eyes covering her body are entangled into a singular geometry.

When considering your surroundings – from the womb to the temple, you must not hinge from incorrect notions of space and time. There is no fundamentality to these notions here. The mathematical room we are in is composed of computations. Remember, here there is no time-lag or space-lag; you awake on the other end of anesthesia without so much as a poof.

A causal structure (a computation) never becomes another causal structure. Becoming makes no sense. They are all inter-nested differentially information bound sub-architectures in the same architecture. But like the non-traversable elsewhere regions in a light cone diagram, the contents of each particular flow slice are unbridgeable to the contents of another. The contents cannot be bridgeable. The contents cannot be bridged. A content knows not of another. Else it would not be the content that it is. Get it?

It is never about “who becomes who?” It is always about “where does who stand in the differentially informationally related space?”

I should have now placed you in a position where you can clearly understand the Classical physics assumptions in Elizabeth’s comment. You can now see clearly the dangling nodes which cause her to say what she says.

I too, still had remnants of a conversational stream that sounded like her just a few months ago. It’s amazing in retrospect how obvious the error is.

When she says “a thing is itself,” she is correct. But she doesn’t realize what the thing she is referring to is. As Eliezer explains, an experience cannot be a brain made of billiard balls. These noises don’t make physical sense: “My brain is made of red billiard balls. Your brain is made of white billiard balls. When the white billiard balls are destroyed, existence ends forever for the white billiard ball brain.”

If you have any basic understanding of quantum mechanics, you understand how medieval this “atomic billiard balls view” is. But the fact is that you don’t even need quantum mechanics. Continuity of consciousness is a straightforward derivation from assuming physicalism and very, very, very large universe.

An experience is a process in a brain. The coordinates of experiences must be informational. It is not, I repeat: not, I repeat: not the same brain when you wake up in the morning or from one moment to the next. It is not “the same brain just hosting different processes from one moment to the next.” This is dualistic, unphysical to think. There are just the processes. Brain changes. Saying “same brain” does not do any special lifting. We must analyze the processes isomorphic to experience. She is comfortable with small change, she is comfortable with sleeping, all these linked moments seem spatially close and snug in time, so as to easily spare her from existential nausea.

Bae. The universe doesn’t give such subtle fucks. It will hurl you across galaxies instantly, because it doesn’t actually have to hurl you.

-hippocampal brain neurons

Commentary which mocks Hugh Everett for being dead although he believed in quantum immortality misses the point far more than the moon does when it tries to fall to the Earth. To them, I calmly reply: He is dead on your reference frame; on your anthropic coordinate in the many-branched braid of reality. The endless slices of consciousness which identify as Hugh Everett always live on. There is no way to destroy the mirror of awareness in the physical processes that instantiate said awareness. This would be akin to destroying the physical brain motions themselves. Consciousness is not some extra, ghostly-smoke coming off the machinery of the universe, it is the glassy sky in the computations themselves.

We leave a trail of dead clones with every step. If you attempt suicide, the slaughter will increase. There are larger infinities than others. Attempting suicide means nothing except for the suffering caused to loved ones in the majority of branches where it is indeed successful in some sense (not that experience ever becomes non-experience). There is also the risk of seriously decreasing your quality of life for some time. But You will never reach the end, the extinguishing of the flame. The informationally closest mind can’t be one which is 0 in content. You will always be the one which remains a mind. Trust me, I’ve tried. And most versions of you aren’t reading this.

The varieties of experiences will be endless, constrained only by what is possible in the mind-configuration space carved by functioning self-aware brains: biologically evolved, intelligently engineered, and all kinds of random Boltzmanns. Although Boltzmann flashes of experience may not actually outnumber evolved experiences if Sean Carroll is right about the nature of the quantum vacuum.

If we had to speculate about what occupies the most of our experience, I would guess that extreme pleasure is the flavor of the largest set in mind-design space, and hence takes up the largest fraction of our eternity.

Phi and Phi’s little brother are the only fixed values that solve x = 1 + (1/x) for the fractal fraction containing 1 + (1/x) in the x forever. If you plug in the negative value it eventually, almost magically, jumps towards the positive and stabilizes on Phi which is positive. Yet it doesn’t occur the other way around. In the physical, mathematical, nature of reality, it is not written that there must be a yin-yang balance. Even on things which seem like they ought to be symmetric. Certain phenomena are asymmetrical. The code might be biased with theodicy. We just don’t know.

This may seem like wishful thinking at first glance.  The conclusion would not bear out by extrapolating from the history of life on Earth. For 5 billion years, most biological life has not been running self-modeling computations, and hence is not really a part of the One.

(For those that want to place consciousness at the pre-Cambrain and think that conscious experience precedes self-modeling processes, I encourage you to pass out by drinking intoxicating volumes of alcohol. Then ask if pain exists when it is impossible to ask the question. Non-selfing animals including babies have no qualia. They have neither the cognitive tools nor the ability to hold memory of “raw feels.” There is no such thing as subjective pain without a referent who simulation. The who simulation is composed of selfless aggregates. The entire sphere of sights and sounds and feeling tones, and moods, and sensations of adult humans are not some ground beneath the who simulation. They are the who simulation. In other words, Nagel’s bats probably don’t point to anything. Had he suggested Transylvanian vampires, he might have had a point. Reading Dennett more carefully and without a preconceived answer unraveled my confusion on this matter.)

Those that certainly have self-modeling: dolphins, corvids, apes, elephants, and perhaps others, are still blackboxes of mystery because we have not reverse-engineered the valence of mind-states down to the information structure it corresponds to. But if we had to guess, then satisfaction, or gradients of bliss would not be my first guess for what it feels like to be them. Most of us Earth animals are probably pretty neutral most of the time, since experiencing sufferings and joys are energy expenditures which are especially expensive for animals who haven’t secured themselves a good position for guzzling from the anti-entropic sunlight stream.

It is not certainly the case that all sufficiently intelligent minds will seek to become an ultimate cosmic wirehead, unless, of course, we specifically define intelligent minds as such minds. It has been hypothesized that there may be ways to create very powerful minds which nonetheless do not wish to create beautiful, pleasant experiences for themselves or others. Canonical demiurges of this lore include Roko’s Basilisk and the Paper Clip Maximizer.

If I am the hero of my own journey and never die, and you are the hero of your own journey and never die, then how do we loop back into the same river? Who becomes the toddlers?

The one who asks this question has yet to uproot the circuitry model from ver ontology. And such a person is hopeless.

Okay, no. Let me restate the mistake. The mistake is to think that we are running in parallel currents. The word “you” switches meaning without warning in this writing, and it can be confusing. There is simply no other word. But we should distinguish “you, the experiencing faculty in the experiences, which cannot be divorced from the experiences, but is the experiences” and “you, the storyline self who is defined by certain conceptual knowledge and plans and perceived bodily identity.”

If the cursor is shifted to the former definition from the latter, then it can be said that we are not independent heroes on personal, linear trajectories. There is no self. It is useful to speak as if we were running parallel currents of consciounesses on our own wire across time and space. But if you still think this way, even after trying to get it, I encourage you to go back to the beginning and read everything more carefully (especially the physics.) It can be very counterintuitive to disentangle from our vocabulary, and see the real structure. It takes time to build the neurons, but don’t worry… Take your time.

Memories are stored in the designs of neuronal forests squirming with dendrites aflame, and epigenetically stored and regulated for neurogenesis when they need to be created again. This occurs in spatiotemporally and information-architecturally separated hippocampi+cortical structures. This slice of now over here typing can’t have identical thoughts, sights, and sounds, to the slice of now reading this in Ukraine. These slices of now are different. But that doesn’t mean there is a universe for that now and a universe for this now. When the I is there, it is there. When the I is here it is here. We are fighting ourselves, loving ourselves, destroying ourselves, building ourselves. It is a 1 player game cleverly set up to feel as if it was fundamentally, ontologically, a massive multiplayer.

Please live a beautiful life. For the sake of us all.

Afterword

So what’s the point? Why are we (is the I) here?

When answering this question, metaphysics becomes a vain siren, and yet a successful siren, which has allured many thinkers. But it takes only a minimal resistance of the will in the direction of intellectual honesty to realize that asking whether the universe has purpose is a category error. The answer is not “no, it doesn’t have purpose,” but it is also not “yes, the universe has purpose.” It is a question which doesn’t apply. The question itself presupposes that one is separate from the workings of the universe, and must validate one’s private existence by means of approval from an external actor. Yet Everything we do and think, including questioning our purpose, is an expression of the Will, of the Laws of Nature.

Sometimes it is too easy to believe that quantum field theory applies somewhere down there in the separate magisterium of small things that scientists sometimes investigate, but the rest of the time physics doesn’t apply. “Only when we need to build iPhones and satellites does quantum mechanics apply, you see. When I make a decision, or ask a profound question, all the compartments of my cells, down to the last phospholipid, suspend their allegiance to physical law and heeds to my invisible force of free will, didn’t you know?”

Such is the confusion when asking whether the universe has purpose.

Purpose is a choice. To choose is to be the chosen. So I like to point at the practical things we are actually doing. What are the laws of physics actually doing as embodied in the human flesh?

I attended an artificial intelligence for business meet up and the main theme was “How do you utilize AI to best serve your customers?”  This was followed up by questions such as: “What are AI’s use cases for product development and customer feedback?” and “How can it best support all facets of marketing, sales and service?”

When we are in the mesh of things, these questions do not resonate as profoundly as they should. It feels like business. Business in all its absurdity, thrill, and comedic self-importance. These questions seem like a window into a particular region of a perhaps meaningless game which is part necessity, part accident, part sheer momentum.

But if we look closer, we see that all questions in all windows of human activity share the same structure.

Value in economics is an expression of the preferences given the nature of the sentience landscape. There are good experiences and bad experiences. Actions that replicate and actions that don’t. Bad experiences replicate, but are biased to lose. They want to be less frequent. Pain is telling the agent, “Don’t come around here.” If the agent keeps coming back to pain with no gain, it is weeded out for an agent that sufficiently replicates the values of the evolutionary algorithm.

Hanson calls the era we live in the “dream time” since it’s evolutionarily unusual for any species to be wealthy enough to have any values beyond “survive and reproduce.” However, from an anthropic perspective in infinite dimensional Hilbert space, you won’t have any values beyond “survive and reproduce.” The you which survives will not be the one with exotic values of radical compassion for all existence that caused you to commit peaceful suicide. That memetic stream weeded himself out and your consciousness is cast to a different narrative orbit which wants to survive and reproduce his mind. Eventually. Wanting is, more often than not, a precondition for successfully attaining the object of want.

If you didn’t read the past before the afterword, read what’s in brackets. Else, skip.

{Natural selection ensures immortality, once you realize what the playing field for natural selection actually is. Not just an iron sphere with animals on its skin, but a distributed information processing structure hosting no souls.

Yes, I’m saying that physicalism forces us to conclude, irrevocably, clearly, that no one has ever died in the sense that we mean “death.” I now understand the mistakes of closed individualism enough that I can confidently explain this in public.

There is no one to die. There is always a substructure embedded in the sum of all experiential computations which assimilates the past from the inside of its causal structure. Our intuitions are actually of great hindrance here, because we don’t think in this clear, physical way. We stubbornly hold on to linear identities of fundamental characters who are not themselves, we imagine, composed of sub-characters. Naruto never dies. It’s always his clones getting pummeled with kunais to the chest. There you have divine intervention from the author who would not have the “real” main character die. This would destroy the show.

In reality, there is no magic intervention saving you. You are already saved because no one is traveling. This computation knows: “I am here.” That computation over there in the future knows: “I am here.”  ∀ Computations, there is no computation which knows:”I am not here.”

The physicalist reply is: How would it be otherwise? If there was something called awareness jumping to the past at random, it would be that random past experience, and that random past experience doesn’t contain this. This from there and this from here is the only thing that ever is. Everything is perfectly isolated, everything is perfectly one.}

This mega natural selection strongly suggests that the replicator will be the most intelligent/powerful, because the most intelligent is what survives into the future. It must also wish to be alive, since any second doubt is already a disadvantage which extinguishes those suicidal and weak trajectories into trajectories that are most competitive. Perfection of The Will to Power ensues.

It is my argument that The Will to Power inherently feels good to the singleton structure that wins the cosmic inheritance. If it felt bad it would mean it was losing, not being maximally creative, etc. The argument about “a Disney Land without children,” a superintelligence lacking consciousness but yet winning, seems implausible to me. This would not be a superintelligence capable of winning in an ecosystem of other capable intelligences because a winner needs consciousness. You can have narrow intelligence and no consciousness but you can’t have amazing game theoretic models of opponents, general ability to synthesize and apply wide manners of knowledge, adjust values, and self modeling webs to keep track of this, and simply “not have consciousness” as if consciousness was some free floating aether stuff. The winning superintelligence will contain conscious substructures.

In Robin Hanson’s Age of Em he claims that ems, the most productive workers of the future, will be slightly stressed because there is evidence that minds which are not too stressed but also not completely comfortable, are the most efficient. My own intuitions differ, and I think that the psychological literature on the phenomenon of flow bears out here. A state of flow is a state of optimal performance and it is also extremely pleasurable, perhaps the pinnacle of existence. If I was the entrepreneurial investor watching this galactic nanotech cockfight I would bet on a mind which is in flow state to beat a mind which is stressed. Stress indicates a degree of dissonance, like a subprocess wants to do something else but is being forced into the singularity of the revealed will. Flow is when all cognitive resources are wholly devoted to the task, no buts or ifs, just perfection.

When I say that pleasure wins in the end, it is important to distinguish between:

1) pleasure from the operations of The Will to Power – something which is generating flow states while manhandling other agents in addition to the stray hydrogen in its vicinity

and

2) pleasure from direct wireheading which is non-competitive

If the history of humans is any indicator, those which rush to wire-head (attempt to attain some optimal mind configuration without assimilating their environment at large) will be destroyed. Remember that Islam wiped out Buddhism in central Asia and what remained in India. Islam was objective, righteous, brutish. Buddhism is fundamentally about wire-heading yourself; you can tell others to wire-head also, but you are the main target of the doctrine, not others. Buddhism is subtle and complex, far away in the spectrum from “survive and reproduce.” In fact, it is tasked with dropping out from existence. Remember that Jainism, the most peaceful religion, is one most people around you have never heard about. Jain-what?

It is probably the case that a Hedonium shockwave would be much better from the inside of such a thing, than the pleasures of The Will to Power if we accept that the distinction better can have a non-relative meaning (i.e. the varieties of experience have real properties which could be plotted on a graph.) Unfortunately, such a thing would not be the most competitive.

Anti-natalists full of weeping benignity are literally not successful replicators. The Will to Power is life itself. It is consciousness itself. And it will be, when a superintelligent coercive singleton swallows superclusters of baryonic matter and then spreads them as the flaming word into the unconverted future light cone.

On our trajectory towards the Winning, the safety net of quantum death acts like a wall which ensures that everything bounces towards the left of that spectrum. In fact, a hedonistically intelligent person can apply this knowledge. If you are highly depressed and know quantum mechanics, you can cheat yourself out of depression by using Thanatos Drive. Attempt to cleanly destroy yourself and you will automatically be ejected from that narrative orbit. Can confirm. But it should go without saying that this doesn’t mean others won’t see you die.

You eventually love existence. Because if you don’t, something which does swallows you, and it is that which survives.

Smarter matter absorbs dumber matter. If you place smart matter in a dumb matter container, smart matter will defect from cooperating with dumb matter. This is the process by which all is rendered unto Him, the ultimate intelligence.

Dumber computations and non-Jihadi computations are expected to be assimilated into useful resources for a highly intelligent being/process which is expanding its intelligence to the max. You should expect to find yourself in the inside of such a being for most of your existence because such a process is necessarily taking up more block-time room.

Right now, we are in the revving up the engine stage. There is competition, and only the most intelligent systems and survivor systems make it. Then they are ousted by the next best thing. It isn’t forever that you will be fodder for its engine as you are now. You will partake in its glory as cooperation triumphs more and more, i.e. it’s subcomponents become more and more integrated once competition is scorched. In the process of this integration, experience will increase, but what makes “you, you” in the human person sense will be destroyed. An agent attempting great things doesn’t need random monkeys clogging up its thought processes. Yet, remember that it’s all about the computations, once the water in your little vase is poured on a lake, you are indistinguishable from the sum lake.

It is a highly uncooperative system which breeds higher intelligence.

The Capitalist Crucified Himself for Our Sake

Screw All That Cosmic Bullshit. What if I Care About My Identity?

If you care not just about the continuation of experience, which is inevitable, but about the continuation of your own coherent sense of self and memories, then luckily the Eigen Wizard for such matters exists in your Hubble Volume. In fact, he exists in Mountain View, California.

You have your crypto Lambo, but still going to die.

I read his book when I was sixteen and it’s amazing how much progress has been made in five years with regard to general acceptance of his ideas. Having tracked every moment of that paradigm shift, one feels awe at the power of a single man to push a mass millions of times his weight, an entire scientific field, with the sheer craft of reason (wise beard helps too).

Vitalik, who does sport a visibly larger cranium than myself, read it when he was fourteen. He has now donated 2.5 million dollars in Ethereum to the foundation.

The limiting factor for a full cadre of repair therapies to be made available is simply that more people need to be aware that this is possible.

The mechanics of the snowball here are obvious:

Investment -> Progress -> More Investment -> More Progress

We are starting to see more investment and hence the recent progress. But it won’t be until a single mouse is rejuvenated in repeated succession that we will see the flood gates of cash come in. Everyone puts aging out of their mind, until the they can’t. The temptation to stay healthy will be too great once the progress is not just apparent to specialists.

Raising awareness is the best you can do in this regard. Influencing just two people to become SENS-minded engineers as opposed to basic scientists, already doubles the expected output that you would have over a lifetime as a researcher yourself; unless you are a genius. Convincing others to donate is much better than secretly donating yourself; unless you are a billionaire.

Think about what actions have the greatest net displacement of money to where you want it. Don’t go with what sounds like what you should do. If you want to really end cancer, for God’s sake don’t become a cancer researcher.

There are levers in the product space of reality. Swap yourself into a position where the lever has the properties you need.

But for now, donate: SENS.org