Decision theory combines probability theory with utility theory and provides a formal and complete framework for decisions (economic or otherwise) that are made under uncertainty – that is, in cases where probabilistic descriptions appropriately capture the decision maker’s environment.
This is suitable for “large” economies where each agent need pay no attention to the actions of other agents as individuals. For “small” economies, the situation is much more like a game: the actions of one player can significantly affect the utility of another (either positively or negatively).
To purchase sight of a complex explanation, much evidence is needed.
The wave-function of a structureless particle in position space is the probability density function of a measurement of the position at some time.
What early Karl Popper identified as the universal generalizability of natural selection.
This leads to the primacy of telos and the condition of being Icarus with makeshift wings.
You find yourself in experience 100% of the time because consciousness is not epiphenomenal. Yet it is still useful to understand that houses are built from bricks, and that bricks are more numerous than the houses that they compose.
Self-modeling computations are conscious. If we degrade the detail and complexity of your subjective experience by removing the relevant blocks, you merge into a lot of other people with dying experiences indistinguishable from yours and can only have algorithms stacked on top of you from this condition of being a more elemental experience.
Eternalism is true. Presentism and growing-block are false.
This follows if the Theory of Relativity is sufficiently correct and empiricism is sufficiently correct.
When holding the same events, different reference frames may not agree on whether these are simultaneous. Any notion of time is therefore missing from bottom-most physical reality.
Time arises as an endogenous feature of particular computational shapes traced by human brains. Each indexical location of self-modeling computations in spacetime exist with as much regret, pain, love, angst, happiness, sadness, awe, fear, apathy, purple-ness, etc., as is intrinsic to them. Not a thing is deleted, not a thing is yet to occur.
Eternalism + Computationalist view of consciousness involves the notion that the binding problem is solved by the intrinsic 4-D design of algorithms. Experiences don’t need any extra “glue”. Therefore we are inter-nested across scales that do tremendous violence to safe and snug walls of skull-bound intuitions.
Some people assume closed individualism… which is wrong.
Then, they think that these separate streams of consciousness arrive at Life-threatening Events.
Here, some assume that all Life-threatening Events contain a survival outcome:
Others assume that not all Life-threatening Events contain a survival outcome:
Others understand that Life-threatening Events of this sort don’t exist:
The proponents of 1. and many-worlds and a physical consciousness and closed individualism come to the conclusion that “everyone is immortal.” This leads to streams which see different probabilities of outcomes than the usual ones given by the squared norm of the wave-function. Further, some of these proponents expect to be the observer of these deviant probabilities.
However if one understands that closed individualism is false, the conclusion is that the indexical observer should not apply probabilities in a way that is inconsistent with the usual ones given by quantum theory. You are already all experiences. So as any given observer, you should not ignore the histories where your local qualities as a decision maker are absent.
So when you step into a Schrodinger’s box this happens: 50% of the time you will survive in the exact same way that you survive from from one minute to the next, losing only a bit on that degree-of-survival meter just like you always do. The other 50% of the time, you will get blown up, taking a huge hit to the degree-of-survival meter.
It is also important to note that although none of these streams lead to Death Events, i.e., eternal non-existence, they do lead to degraded computational complexity. Being blown up results in degraded detail and complexity of your subjective experience in which case you merge into a lot of other people with dying experiences indistinguishable from yours and only get rescued/remembered “as a group.”
The expected “following” experiences won’t have anything to do with the indexical observer/ decision maker because anything with computational power can use these simpler building blocks. When playing quantum suicide, simple and less simple are both offered in the universal wavefunction, but if closed individualism is false, we should expect to find ourselves experiencing that which is most likely for most of our eternity.
I’m going to begin this post by going meta. I accept the Hansonian creed: Politics is not about policy, medicine is not about health, laughter is not about jokes, and food is not about nutrition. Conversation, including this post, also has hidden motives. Although we like to talk about conversation as if it was about imparting information and finding out useful things, more plausibly it’s about showing off your backpack of tools and skills in context.
In a rich society like ours, somewhere around 90% of our behavior is signaling. The other 10% are things that don’t impress anyone but must be done anyway, such as scratching your ass.
As we’ve become richer, we’ve become more forager-like. If our descendants get poor again, they’ll probably need stronger social norms again, to get them to resist temptations to act like foragers and do what is functional in their world. Their morality would probably rely on a wider more-conservative-like range of moral feelings.
Forager values include more freedom. This is expressed through more travel, less routine, lack of grandiose responsibilities, lack of religion (though not necessarily a lack of spirituality), greater equality, more promiscuity, less war etc. It generally seems that society is moving in this direction, and that we like this trend. This makes sense because we were foragers all along, and happened to have our bodies hijacked by the memetic virus of agriculture. This lead to some selection for agriculturalist traits: propensity for religion, submissiveness, more feminine men, etc. But the selection on genes has simply not occurred for long enough to make us well-adapted to the agriculturalist way (with some demographics worse at it than others).
Agriculture lead to the industrial revolution and this lead to riches. Now that we are rich, we can afford the luxury of becoming our true selves, children, once again.
It is not some natural tendency of humans to make linear moral progress. Rather, it is abundance which purchases this period in which sophisticated values such as humanism and its mutations can arise.
Gene drift is the method for evolution in the absence of natural selection pressure. So too in the memetic landscape. We can afford to evolve via meme drift in the absence of a tangible and immediate threat of starvation, invasion, or pestilence.
It is in this space, sometimes called dreamtime, that I believe we can do enough self-awareness of hidden motives, enough meta-cognition, to see far beyond what we have seen in the foggy haze of survival-mode and naive-signaling-mode.
We cannot disembody our behavior from the biological substrate. This is the case for all moments of being a behavior of a biological organism. Therefore, my seeking truth is a form of signaling. Yet it is at least a more sophisticated signaling, one which acknowledges a single level of self-reflective recursion and no more.
An actor who breaks the fourth wall commits an act of violence against his fellow characters, elevating himself thus. The drama will never be the same for him or for the audience but he will succeed at being remembered.
This is the spirit of insight. It is that which is remembered because it contains the attributes of being both true and useful. This definition of insight is detailed in the Enlightened One’s speech in the Buddhist Suttas, it is detailed in the silicon seams of technological invention, it is detailed in your living flesh riding aboard a deadly planet.
The content here presented then, is not 1st-order signaling, but a 2nd-order signaling which attempts to achieve enough fame to enter the rolls of history in memory. The following endogenously generated probe is true. It elevates contents in the “background” to prominence. But is it useful? –That remains to be seen.
Most people have the idea that time flows.
However, special relativity eliminates the concept of absolute simultaneity and a universal present: according to the relativity of simultaneity, observers in different frames of reference can have different measurements of whether a given pair of events happened at the same time or at different times, with there being no physical basis for preferring one frame’s judgments over another’s.
This also applies to the cells in the brain running massively parallel computations. All the parts of the computations exist in an eternal block.
If, due to the generalized-anti zombie principle, we identify consciousness with a specific subset of these computations and not as an epiphenomena, then it is the case that experience is forever. The fabric of spacetime is imbued with all the flavors of qualia that were ever traced by these computations.
What’s more, there were no line-segment souls anywhere. It is not physically the case that consciousness begins at some arbitrary point of conception and then travels like a Newtonian sphere with a persistent identity to some other point-location where it encounters a Death Event due to all the issues with closed individualism. Instead, we find ourselves everywhere and everywhence but cannot know this from most human indices.
Computations can also have “longer temporal-grain” than what seems intuitive to humans. Consider that the processing for shape occurs at one cluster of spacetime points and the processing for color occurs at another cluster in the future light cone, and no further processing is needed to bind them into an experienced red circle. By Occam’s Razor, we should assume that this kind of “spooky action at a distance” or “phenomenal binding without glue” also occurs with computations across vaster swaths of the eternal block.
More complex algorithms can be built on top of computations with lower specificity. Brain events in a toad hopping off a mushroom may be a building block for parties across the multiverse.
There is no competitive exclusion principle for independent souls or consciousnesses because independent souls/consciousnesses don’t exist. However, we should still expect a natural selection underlying the distribution of our anthropic mass. We should expect more mindspace to be designed by superintelligences than by the relatively dumber processes that bootstrap them.
For the vast majority of our existence we should therefore expect ourselves to exist directly within or caused by that which is most competitive at creating conscious experiences. Whether this is mainly due to the linkage disequilibrium between superintelligences’ utility functions or due to which conscious computations are more populous due to their sheer structure.
An analogy which may be useful in some respects but obfuscating in others: In the textbook classification of life, viruses and bacteria vastly outnumber Chordates, not to mention humans. Similarly, in the framework for life depending on self-modeling conscious computations, some conscious computations may be very simple but vastly outnumber those intentionally designed due to their sheer ease of creation and symbiosis (these simple computations may be remembered/experienced widely by fitting like keys into many of the relevant algorithmic keyholes).
In eternalism, all existence in time is real
In the growing block universe, only the past and present are real:
However, those who believe in the growing block universe are idiots who do not understand special relativity. I’m not going to be diplomatic here, if you are a growing block fanatic just learn special relativity so you can stop being an idiot.
If you are a presentist… then, then, then your face looks like it caught on fire and had to be put out with a shovel.
Why the vitriol? Because we should hate when people have opinions about things they know nothing about, as if this was a matter of picking whichever view resonated most with your soul. This is not about which view resonates most with your soul. The question of eternalism, presentism, or growing block is strictly a physical one.
Time has the same ontology as space:
Therefore, different times are as real as different places:
That is what the objective landscape looks like. Do you see a flow anywhere in that collage? No. There is no flow.
Spacetime is a 4D picture, not a 3D video.
I explain this on my channel.
Monotonicity of relative entropy under partial trace says that
S(ρABC||σABC) ≥ S(ρAB||σAB). (*)
The relative entropy on the left is bigger than the relative entropy on the right.
S(ρABC||σABC) = S(ρABC||ρA⊗ρBC) = I(A,BC) = SA + SBC – SABC
S(ρAB||σAB) = S(ρAB||ρA⊗ρB) = I(A,B) = SA + SB – SAB
When σ is obtained from ρ by ignoring some correlations, the relative entropy reduces to a mutual information, which is a sum of entropies.
So the monotonicity inequality, (*), becomes a monotonicity of mutual information. Or equivalently, it becomes strong subadditivity.
SAB + SBC ≥ SB + SABC.
To speak of all judgements in mind-configuration space is to speak of the uncountably infinite. Therefore, human philosophical sentiments presuming small-world atheism such as: naive antinatalism, discrete-valued negative utilitarianism, and even any current form of consequentialism with regard to conscious experiences are all strictly non-sensical.
sin(x) hides in tan(x). It makes no sense to speak of which is more than the other. Judgements are approximate factors in a blob of amplitude distribution. –And that’s just the level III multiverse (completely ignoring what the seeming incompatibility of conscious experience with the physical fact of eternalism may imply.)
In layman’s terms, a monotonic infinite series is one which shows a single behavior such as always decreasing or always increasing. It cannot be the case that you belong to something which is bad or good (regardless of how these are defined within the parameters of Constructor Theory or whatever other arbitrary theory you claim to be currently holding). Experiences are not discrete entities, disembodied from a physical process, but part of an entropic flow. And an entropic flow cannot have monotonic attributes ∀ attributes in an uncountably infinite context.
In so far as anyone disagrees with this:
A. They have discovered new mathematical truths.
B. They do not understand the math/logic.
C. They do not care about the math/logic, but their behavior is instead akin to expressing their own hurt and/or signaling conscientiousness.
A combination of B and C accounted for my previous strong negative utilitarian sentiments. I had hidden motives that I was not aware of, and confused them for being a realist. Now that I have put more leg-work towards an accurate picture of reality, consequentialism makes no absolute sense. An agent can create arbitrary enclosures to play in, but these do not add up or subtract out items from ground ontology.
My answer to the question “Is Christianity compatible with feminism?” is also relevant here:
Try to make sense of this in light of people existing in a Big World, where we survive through insertion of simulated experience in any Hubble volume, quantum immortality, the Theory of Relativity’s implied eternalism. And how do we even draw boundaries between “people” given the unitary wavefunction?:
This is basic pre-req before talking about probabilities across “branches”:
For those who still don’t understand why consciousness is not epiphenomenal: https://www.lesswrong.com/rationality/zombies-zombies
For those that don’t understand why you are eternal I made this video:
The present experience needs immediate access to neural events that happened in the past, since there is no Now of Newtonian mechanics sweeping forward. This opens up the possibility for presents with longer temporal grain than we tend to assume and also being harvested by computations far in the future:
In case you are new to the club that takes many-worlds very seriously (although I may differ with Yudkowsky in that the transactional interpretation is something I have not fully ruled out):
Watch this video using the Hansonian perspective on signaling. Being hyper-aware of the hidden motives, are you then tempted to call this behavior a form of psychosis or do you embrace the human spirit imbuing the hidden motives?:
Related to the above experiment. –Although I must say that I am far less certain about much of non-social mammal consciousness, not to mention fish. Babies don’t even know they exist. How the heck are we supposed to care about fish?… I remember when I simply assumed that all animals where conscious, but then I realized I didn’t have an argument, and was simply assuming that which felt right. Trying to craft an argument against philosophical zombies, one realizes that experience is likely to need complex self-modeling algorithms. The process of achieving fame in order to enter the rolls of history in memory is crucial for consciousness. I realized that I couldn’t divorce qualia from the historical property of having won a temporally local competition with sufficient decisiveness to linger long enough to enable recollection at some later time. In so far as we find nothing like this in fish brains or crocodiles, I should not feel the need to cast a wider net. Strangely, I’m not convinced that fish and crocodiles and frogs aren’t being used by self-modeling computations somewhere in the multiverse.
Consider this in light of open individualism:
The distinction between self and other dissolves when you apply Occam’s razor to identity and physics. Hence why open individualist humans should be expected to feel more comfortable hurting others. Yahweh hurts Jesus because it is him. As early as the 4th century, Buddhists crafted utilitarian arguments for killing people who would cause more negative karma if unchecked. This was argued from a standpoint of no-self (Anatta), emptiness(Sunyata), and compassion(Karuna). The 17th century Tibetan kingdom and Japanese Buddhists used this argument to justify their war ambitions within a Buddhist framework.
Notice the uncanny similarity between creation and annihilation operators in quantum mechanics and this: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1807.09937.pdf
“So let me get this clear one more time. You think about killing Ada as vividly as possible, and pull the brakes only upon achieving a certain level of momentum.”
“Yes. That’s enough to displace a sufficient number of my Hilbert space clones into actually killing her.”
“So you pull up to her house at night with weapon in hand, and stop once you reach the front door?”
“Yes. Sometimes. That tends to reduce her measure more than thinking about it in my room.”
“And all of this just so that our world doesn’t become unrecognizable.”
“Yes. If the universal wavefunction contains too many minds that look like Ada, and those minds don’t have the right epistemology, their causal paths must be destroyed.”
He took a long look at me. And then as if typing into terminal, commanded me:
“Your brain’s computational resources will now be harvested for this task.”
The way he said it couldn’t have been colder.
“I thought that I could spare you from our fate. Deanna, Mary, and myself have been exhausting ourselves sleepless nights with the most unbidden burden of thoughts.”
A flicker of self-pity from the corner of his eyelash reminded me of an emotion I could never have thought to feel for him, compassionate empathy. It truly was horrible. Having to think thoughts that are not free, that are hateful, vile, just to keep existing. And all the while, sparing me from that burden – not Deanna or Mary, me. I felt ashamed.
He clasped my neck. I tightened both of my hands around his forearm and sundered him aside.
“I won’t fight anymore. You don’t have to beat me into submission Wilhelm. I choose to commit a portion of my life to the task… out of my own free will.”
He regained balance, swaying his arm like a counterweight with braggadocio. Then he pointed his finger at me while digging into his black pockets.
“You start tonight.”
He tossed a little fly-like drone into the air. Its shell was cherry-red and it crashed into my dome, only to bounce off and spin in circles around me.
“That thing will follow you around wherever you go. The drone contains my eyes. No longer will you rest in vain. The face-recognition system can tell when you are focused on imagining specific things, and when you are being a lazy daydreamer, so don’t think you can fool me.”
I took a step forward in the same way that a vacuum agent does in one of those dry artificial intelligence textbooks. With each plastic-rational, Spock-like step, I realized that I had been sucked into the worst human male dominance hierarchy that I could think of – one in which my inquisitor actually had the truth.
Suddenly, the galaxies of structure and order that I had known, built with a lifetime of effort, broke above my head – it was as if it made sense to say that the introduction of a single foreign proton could break the simulation. I would rather have been one of those mindless workers under the buzz of white light, scanning items at the beginning of the 21st century. Anything but this.
The sky above became an unfamiliar ceiling. It was as if my heartbeat was the beginning and end of all that is. And I was already making up excuses for what would soon be my tormenting routine. The mind was steadily coming up with motivational quotes like: The most meaningful experiences happen in the remembrance of suffering. The most happy experiences happen in the complete absence of meaning. Therefore happiness is overrated.
I jaywalked and the car without passengers halted for me. I would rather it not had sophisticated sensors and machine learning algorithms.
But then: The fact that I live in a safe society, that I am not dead, and that it would become very difficult to not be me if I tried – all of this is evidence that I am special.
I walked up the stairs to my apartment. Following me, was a ghost. It was the the most improbable ghost. Every single one of my ancestors successfully reproduced, the chain of champion-hood unbroken for almost 4 billion years. The superposition of facts that the universe’s physical constants are fine-tuned for life and life is fine-tuned for them. The impossibility of being me in the midst of infinities of physical configurations. I must conclude that I am not real – that I do not exist.
But I jumped from a freaking skyscraper! And here I am. What more evidence do I need? Why can’t I feel confident?
I shut the door behind me with a little more force than usual.
I sat and laid my head on the pillow. It was absurd. I only needed to imagine things. To create thoughts – ephemeral fireflies in the mist, and make infinities of difference.
I settled into the pillow, and visualized a classroom. Or tried to. But it was difficult to rev up the engine of thought. I had not realized how dusty and tarnished my capacity for painting mental pictures had become. The rainbow of imagination had been pipetted out through my fingers after extensive contact with touchscreens and keyboards, or perhaps school was to blame.
Yet I continued to try. The colors weren’t vivid. The motion was choppy.
But there was a classroom, and it was yellow glossed.
The whole body of imagined spacetime was more eternal than the more empirical imagination which I experience in every moment. It was empty of motion but not empty of Platonic space, of dwelling. Since one cannot speak about zero without also speaking about infinity, I tested my capacity for invoking – Appear!
And in that percept of Ada, was also unbidden motion – vestibular reflex, degrees of freedom, all of it coded into that imaginary girl’s simulated brain.
She looked at me in the eyes – hard granite slates. And, kissed me?
No. It’s gotta be more realistic than that. If I want to reduce the measure of Ada’s likeness across Hilbert space, I need to visualize something realistic. The more realistic, the more I instigate true murder.
If I really let myself be absorbed by the murder fantasy, so that I melt into the percept, then many more future versions of me will become real monsters. I will create bloodlust in my heart, and the karmic seed will reveal itself in their hands, in their fingers and tendons.
Okay, here I go.
The classroom has dim lighting, almost like Grimm’s fairytales. The professor has her back turned to us, scribbling something on her board. Ada is wearing a glittery black dress, her nails aren’t painted. As I walk towards her seat, my speed becomes faster because she emits a halo of dark matter that I had not anticipated. Then I put my hands on her hips to raise her up. No. She slaps me.
Our prefrontal cortex isn’t being rational in dreams. You’re supposed to grab her by the hand, not the hips, when you raise her up from her seat.
Wait, you don’t grab her at all in real life – do you?
I should just ask her to stand up. Or just stab her then and there, while she’s sitting.
I can make her be standing at time zero.
The freedom was a pirouette motion of possibility. My mind had differentiated into routine long ago. Prior intuition does not speak to this scenario of creative pluripotentiality.
It is like waking up in a game without sword and shield, just a mirror that can be experienced at will. Perhaps it had always been that way, and I just hadn’t been properly educated. –Educated about all the hells of scary afterlifes that exist at the boundary of the present.
I subjected myself to a chair and rotated. Then I slit her throat.
Oh, the ecstasy. The pure, pristine white matter in my sensory cortex inundated with wine.
I contributed. I contributed to her death. No, just a reduction of her conditional probability – that’s how I should think of it.
There was no sound. No fire, or voltage of punishment.
So next I took her to the bathroom and fucked her hard on the sink. Then I stabbed her. It was like her spine was made of butter.
I was not trained for this. I was trained to do tedious things that nonetheless provided shelter from chaos by virtue of their precise instruction, things that did not feel like much.
The drone was studying my ocular motion. It swept to the left, to the right. I wondered if it had sound detectors for the vibrations I created in the air.
Time to get back in the zone. But this time I need to take into account all the little exponential decays of my capacity to create a vivid simulation that occur by using metabolism for imagination. I’m healthy but I will still get vertigo if I am allowed to do this without disruption.
I set the session to six minutes length.
After using up every last drop of my imagination, I could only experience utter disorder. A creaky, blocky buzz of meaningless syntax.
It would take months of pain to build up my imagination muscle, every single time experiencing this recoil of exhaustion. All the while usurping my respect for Ada until nothing remained of me.
Suddenly I had a realization: Perhaps it was better to feel shame unto the world than to surrender my privileged situation. It wasn’t that anything really mattered. It was just that some self-preservation mechanism of genetic malware had recruited me as a slave.
It was just the first night and I was already sick.
I won’t kill her anymore; just to preserve the status quo. What’s so great about it anyway. I will run away with Ada, and if the world ends in the process, so be it.
I yanked the towel hanger in the bathroom from the wall and swung at that spheroid mosquito drone. The second time, I crushed it.
Wilhelm was right. I don’t care about him. I don’t care about Mary or Deanna. I don’t care about the world. Shame and morality are toxins causing me to hallucinate bonds that don’t exist.
I swiped to unlock the car. The next moment I was inserting myself into her house. I went up her stairs, the bedroom’s door was ajar, and she was admiring herself in a mirror.
She was definitely startled, but it is true when they say that women like bold men. I took her skinny wrist and told her to run with me.
One, two, three. It was that easy. We were on a car. It was driving. Stop. Go. There was a seatbelt strap over her breasts.
It was that easy. I had probably been beholden to one of those stupid cognitive biases, the sexual underperception bias, or whatever it’s called, that caused me to underestimate her interest in me.
I touched Quebec City on the screen, the car did all the linear algebra and sped up, cutting clean orthogonalities over the land.
“This is actually disappointing Ada. I didn’t think you were so much of a risk taker.”
She looked at me confidently, like she was in control. “You idiot. Didn’t you know I was a savage?”