Is this it, senpai?

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I posted a video roughly sketching the case for the physical existence of “God.” I did this because the physical existence of the theoretical limit of intelligence is something with high memetic contagion potential and which is actually true when divorced from all the other connotations. And this is true in the same way that dihydrogen monoxide in a cetacean is true.

I introduced the idea while shirtless. The sorts of males who care about arguments for the physical existence of God are also largely those who perceive me to exist in their reference class for imitative mirror neuron activity. When they detect that I am not performing socially adaptive behavior within their status hierarchy, the amygdala causes them to cringe.

… but the normie-atheist female didn’t mind.

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In other words: stop being so moral, so that you can be more moral.

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Equipping the Cached Thoughts of Successful People

There is an incredibly limited amount of time to acquire and assess beliefs. People therefore use whatever they catch in the wind or beams into their eyes; often reflecting them back in their pristine error.

Since most people are keen on doing this anyway, having no real intent to sit down and plot the meaning of the individual thoughts arising in their mind onto an inductive reasoning machine, why not equip the thought patterns of people one wishes to become like?

It’s not just a matter of choosing to listen to Carlos Slim Helu instead of broke charlatans peddling the Secret Law of Attraction when one’s goal is to make money. It should also be a priority to not waste time downloading the thoughts of great scholarly economists. No matter how many correct beliefs these people hold relative to Helu, they don’t have the hard-to-fake signal of adaptability in Make Money Land.

Beliefs don’t exist in a vacuum. They are swords and shields that if accumulated with excessive greed or care, only serve to slow one down.

Dousing crowds of capable people with billionaire’s thoughts would not reliably create other billionaires or even millionaires. These thoughts would fit into heterogeneous genetic scaffolding and histories. But I still find self-infection with visibly gold memetic strands more sensible than the vials people instinctively reach for; mind you, these are people who claim to have a goal.

It’s like watching a depressed old Canadian professor on Youtube in order to gain more self-confidence, instead of listening to trap music or something – better to inject some cultural output from populations with higher self-esteem straight into your faulty frontostriatal circuit and hope it glues that shit together.

Different people are successful at different things and I highly suspect that it is more effective to emulate proven avatars to achieve goals in particular areas of life than to apply some broad notion of rationality. And since many goals are best achieved with a raising of economic standing, it’s surprising that billionaires aren’t paid more attention in general.

If this framework has any merit, then it is a tragic hero who chooses to work out chaos from first principles; it is a brave hero who morphs into the highest exemplars he can find.

 

 

 

Natural Selection Doesn’t Work When Considering QI Experiences vs. Arbitrary Experiences

Given the pervasiveness of epistasis, adaptation via changes in genetic makeup becomes primarily a search for coadapted sets of alleles–alleles of different genes which together significantly augment the performance of the corresponding phenotype. It should be clear that coadaptation depends strongly upon the environment of the phenotype. The large coadapted set of alleles which produce gills in fish augments performance only in aquatic environments. This dependence of coadaptation upon characteristics of the environment gives rise to the notion of an environmental niche, taken here to mean a set of features of the environment which can be exploited by an appropriate organization of the phenotype. (This is a broader interpretation than the usual one which limits niche to those environmental features particularly exploited by a given species.) Examples of environmental niches fitting this interpretation are: (i) an oxygen-poor, sulfur-rich environment such as is found at the bottom of ponds with large amounts of decaying matter–a class of anaerobic bacteria, the thiobacilli, exploits this niche by means of a complex of enzymes enabling them to use sulfur in place of oxygen to carry out oxidation; (ii) the “bee-rich” environment exploited by the orchid Ophrys apifera which has a flower mimicking the bee closely enough to induce pollination via attempted copulation by the male bees; (iii) the environment rich in atmospheric vibrations in the frequency range of 50 to 50,000 cycles per second – the bones of the mammalian ear are a particular adaptation of parts of the reptilian jaw which aids in the detection of these vibrations, an adaptation which clearly must be coordinated with many other adaptations, including a sophisticated information-processing network, before it can improve an organism’s chances of survival. It is important to note that quite distinct coadapted sets of alleles can exploit the same environmental niche. Thus, the eye of aquatic mammals and the (functionally similar) eye of the octopus exploit the same environmental niche, but are due to coadapted sets of alleles of entirely unrelated sets of genes. (iv) the environment rich in depressive emotion – the aesthetic of Neon Genesis Evangelion are a particular adaptation in qualia-space which aids in the detection/exploitation of the depressive environment.

The various environmental niches E ∈ ε define different opportunities for adaptation open to the genetic system. To exploit these opportunities, the genetic system must select and use the sets of coadapted alleles which produce the appropriate phenotypic characteristics. The central question for genetic systems is: How are initially unsuited structures transformed to an observed range of structures suited to a variety of environmental niches ε? To attempt a general answer to this question, we need a well-developed formal framework. The framework available at this point is insufficient, even for a careful description of a candidate adaptive plan τ for genetic systems, unlike the case of the simpler artificial system. A fortiori, questions about such adaptive plans, and critical questions about efficiency, must wait upon further development of the framework. We can explore here some of the requirements an adaptive plan τ must meet if it is to be relevant to data about genetics and evolution.

In beginning this exploration we can make good use of a concept from mathematical genetics. The action of the environment E ∈ ε upon the phenotype (and thereby upon the genotype A ∈ α) is typically summarized in mathematical studies of genetics by a single performance measure μ called fitness. Roughly, the fitness of a phenotype is the number of its offspring which survive to reproduce. This measure rests upon a universal, and familiar, feature of biological systems: Every individual (phenotype) exists as a member of a population of similar individuals, a population constantly in flux because of the reproduction and death of the individuals comprising it. The fitness of an individual is clearly related to its influence upon the future development of the population. When many offspring of a given individual survive to reproduce, then many members of the resulting population, the “next generation,” will carry the alleles of that individual. Genotypes and phenotypes of the next generation will be influenced accordingly. This is especially important in light of a big universe. If we assume that consciousness is not epiphenomenal, but instead described fully as a slice in the causality of Platonia, then understanding the fitness of degraded experiences barely holding above water by the grace of quantum immortality becomes important.

Fitness, viewed as a measure of the genotype’s influence upon the future, introduces a concept useful through the whole spectrum of adaptation. A good way to see this concept in wider context is to view the testing of genotypes as a sampling procedure. The sample space in this case is the set of all genotypes α and the outcome of each sample is the performance μ of the corresponding phenotype. The general question associated with fitness, then, is: To what extent does the outcome μ(A) of a sample A ∈ α influence or alter the sampling plan τ (the kinds of samples to be taken in the future)? Looking backward instead of forward, we encounter a closely related question: How does the history of the outcomes of previous samples influence the current sampling plan? The answers to these questions go far toward determining the basic character of any adaptive process. But the question is incredibly complicated when we want to measure fitness of experiences, which necessarily exist in an eternal object, and are themselves eternal. How can bounds even be drawn on them?

The answer to the first question, for genetic systems, is that the future influence of each individual A ∈ α is directly proportional to the sampled performance μ(A). This relation need not be so in general – there are many well-established procedures for optimization, inference, mathematical learning, etc., where the relation between sampled performance and future sampling is quite different. Nevertheless, reproduction in proportion to measured performance is an important concept which can be generalized to yield sampling plans – reproductive plans – applicable to any adaptive problem (including the broad class of problems where there is no natural notion of reproduction). Moreover, once reproductive plans have been defined in the formal framework, it can be proved that they are efficient (in a reasonable sense) over a very broad range of conditions.

A part of the answer to the second question, for genetic systems, comes from the observation that future populations can only develop via reproduction of individuals in the current population. Whatever history is retained must be represented in the current population. In particular, the population must serve as a summary of observed sample values (performances). The population thereby has the same relation to an adaptive process that the notion of (complete) state has to the laws of physics or the transition functions of automata theory. Knowing the population structure or state enables one to determine the future without any additional information about the past of the system. (That is, different sampling sequences which arrive at the same population will have exactly the same influence on the future.) The state concept has been used as a foundation stone for formal models in a wide variety of fields.

An understanding of the two questions just posed leads to a deeper understanding of the requirements on a genetic adaptive plan. It also leads to an apparent dilemma. On the one hand, if offspring are simple duplicates of fit members of the population, fitness is preserved but there is no provision for improvement. On the other hand, letting offspring be produced by simple random variation (a process practically identical to enumeration) yields a maximum of new variants but makes no provision for retention of advances already made. The dilemma is sharpened like a fine chef’s sushi blade by two biological facts: (1) In biological populations consisting of advanced organisms (say vertebrates) no two individuals possess identical chromosomes (barring identical twins and the like). This is so even if we look over many (all) successive generations. (2) In realistic cases, the overwhelming proportion of possible variants (all possible allele combinations, not just those observed) are incapable of surviving to produce offspring in the environments encountered. Thus, by observation (1), advances in fitness are not retained by simple duplication. At the same time, by observation (2), the observed lack of identity cannot result from simple random variation.

As Karl Popper observed (before changing his mind eventually, to be fair): natural selection is generalizable to everything: the cosmos, biology, cultural ideas. However, it is my contention that its explanatory power breaks down when considering the competition between Moloch consciousness (i.e. self-aware processes in humanity, transhumanity, and all other arbitrary organisms and AIs across the multiverse) and simple consciousness (that range of most simple experience – whether that ends up being Quantum Torment-flavored or something like unity with Brahman). In other words, once computational specificity/complexity degrades past a certain point, it is unclear how anything is differentially “reborn” since degradation of specificity involves becoming an identical configuration to many “others” (and hence not other in any strictly meaningful sense). The action of the environment upon the phenotype seems to slip past some kind of event horizon.

Materialism Is Not Dry, It Is More Thrilling Than Fantasy

The interesting question (to me) is whether someone who is not predisposed to enjoying LW-style rationality ought to pursue it if they seek to optimize their happiness. If you are a happy Christian who believes God is madly in love with you and can’t wait to bring up to your mansion in heaven post mortem, then LW is going to be depressing.

Even if you’re just a regular old None or agnostic who likes to believe in warm fuzzy concepts like “everything happening for a reason” and Karm and Serendipity, then LW’s deterministic, magic-killing, purely materialist views are a bit of a buzzkill.

It is possible that rationality training is a net bad for ceratin individuals because ignorance really is bliss in many circumstances.

The rationalist who wrote this perhaps didn’t get a hit of pure materialism. If it felt like a buzzkill (of all things!) someone definitely sold you contaminated product. Adhering to strict materialism should incite the immediate realization of immortality, and with it wave after wave of thrill and awe – or sheer fear… depending on the predisposition of the indexical present.

Let me tease out the reagents dirtying up your solution my friend, so that you too may lucidly trip-out on the crazy view from up here in the “deterministic, magic-killing, purely materialist” summit where I dwell.

First: Certain brain processes lead to what we call “experience” or “consciousness.”

∀ brain processes which feel themselves to exist, ∃ a physical configuration specifying them. Brain processes which feel themselves to exist ∉ A soul, B soul, C soul, etc. To postulate a soul which owns experiences would be extraneous where a physical explanation suffices.

The brain processes which feel themselves to exist do not belong to anyone in particular. What could we possibly mean by belong? Each moment is one of different configuration.

Are you under the impression that there is someone traveling a linear journey? – and that there are other someone’s sharing a reference frame, riding on the same platform as your experiences, but parallel to them?

–This is a grave confusion. One must first understand physics, and only then speak of being a materialist. Uninspected common-sense impressions are not materialism – they are the tabula rasa that remains in the absence of religious beliefs.

There is no such thing as a platform of now to which we all belong which stretches its width across the whole universe and sweeps forward in time with each second – deleting the past, having yet to reach the future. In fact, the eternal block is necessary for experiences such as seeing a red circle to be possible. The visual processing of shape has to exist and visual processing of color has to exist before we see a red circle. Those patterns have to be inscribed in a tenseless fabric to become bound. Information processing isn’t a little orb of awareness zipping around in the brain – it is a shape stretched out in spacetime.

So experiences are indexical. The big You, the You which is just existence, here, in all nows: is Greg Egan conjuring a character; is the ephemeral thought that aesthetic meant violet; it is a fingertip touching a piano in Japan.

The question “why am I me, here, now, and not someone else” has an answer. Not a spiritual answer, or a moral answer; just a strictly physical answer. Each physical configuration exists from where it exists. And since we can be certain that existence is from any given indexical present, we can be sure that we are everywhere in experiential space but cannot directly intuit unreachable knowledge from each location. My indexical present can’t feel Siddhartha Gautama’s heels. But from the inside of that brain simulating that experience of having feet, with heels, touching ground, I am that. How is that supposed to know it is here? It isn’t.

From the inside of the myriad of silicon deities dueling for the cosmos in future light cones, the prisoners cannot feel our dilemmas except in so far as they are identical in configuration. This exception arises in experiences so simple that they are “shared.” If being at the verge of death, taking DMT, or riding on the momentum of years of extended meditation feels like a point-like singularity of simple sensation without complexities of sense-of-self, then these can be physically identical to many “other” experiences across the history of the planet and the cosmos. They no more happened to you than to someone else because they just exist from their inside.

And if you knew this derivation of immortality from standard materialism already, so you understand nonexistence is impossible but are still sentimentally attached to your indexical present and therefore worried about the personal narrative of the human you identify with, because… entropy, then you also don’t have to worry. It is guaranteed that future individuals will feel themselves to be you as much as you feel yourself to be the person who woke up this morning. In an infinite universe, the measure of configurations that wake up thinking themselves to be you cannot be diluted to physically zero. Quantum immortality is implied already but is not necessary. Even a Level 1 multiverse, i.e., the universe does not end at our Hubble volume, gives your personal narrative continuation.

Cryonics is a good idea, but not for the reasons a standard atheist might think (like to ward off oblivion for some time). Checkout Eliezer Yudkowsky’s comment on this thread.

 

 

 

Physicalism Implies Experience Never Dies: Answering Objections

Objection: You are your brain. When the brain dies, you die. Period.

Reply: This is not reductionistic enough. Experience is not an object called brain. Experience is probably found in thalamo-cortical Gamma oscillations which are present during both dreams and waking life. And by probably, I mean that there is considerable evidence* (Llinas & Pare 1991, Eckhorn et al. 1988, Engel et al. 1990, 1991a, 1991b, Gray et al. 1989, 1990, 1992, Gray & Singer 1989, Stryker 1989, Llinas & Ribary 1993). The wave sweeps the brain from front to back, 40 times per second. The precept which you are at any given moment is the shape formed by synched neuronal circuits.

(*Some still suggest that this does not solve the binding problem. See Steven Lehar who, in short, proposes that the synchrony observed between cortical neurons is not a signal in its own right communicated from cell to cell but that it is a manifestation of a larger standing wave pattern that spans the cortical region and that the structure of the standing wave encodes certain aspects of the structure of the perceived object or grouping percept. But it is possible that this concern is merely a bias against time delays. The cause of this bias may be from holding on to a presentist ontology. The computation can be stretched in spacetime and may still be “glued” for the act of phenomenal binding by its ‘mere’ four-dimensional geometry.)

If the thalamus is damaged even a little bit, the wave stops, conscious awareness does not form, and “the patient” slips into profound coma. –You are not the patient experiencing a profound coma because a profound coma cannot be experienced. You are all precepts, wherever they exist as conscious computations, and can never realize that you are also others. There is only one universal wave-function. This contains approximate factors that we think of as objects with persistent identities including the object type which is “shape formed by synched neuronal circuits.”

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If we change the definition of “you” to not be mere experiences, such as the synched ventral/dorsal pathways that produce the sight of beautiful green eyes in a lovely girl, or thalamic vortex resonating with dopaminergic pathways which produce the qualia particles of bliss in a luxurious dinner, but instead define “you” as a body that will be somewhat similar tomorrow and which will reliably hold “you” in memory, then that body is toast. Those memories are toast. I am not offering snake-oil repellent against entropy here. *Edit: I was. The singularity already happened and all you have to do is to realize this knowledge with your rational thought so that the magic is revealed. Here, you can choose to experience the deathless, which does not perceive entropy.

Not even quantum immortality can save you, if that is how you is defined. You will become quite computationally defunct, whether by neurofibrillary tangles or whatever else. If you manage to transition into a sufficiently degenerate state, your experiences can become physically indistinguishable from many “other” experiences across the universe. Spatiotemporal separation does not matter; only the shape of the computation does. When we are in very low-awareness sleep, our uniqueness dies and yet experience doesn’t. Those dim states of almost-nothingness, lacking a sense of self, are dips into the well of greater unification where the net amount of minds in that identical configuration are larger than compared to the highly unique experiences we go through in everyday waking life. It wouldn’t be a far-fetched hypothesis to suggest it is also possible to experience this computational simplicity through intensive meditation practice, drugs, or being barely conscious i.e. some processes in young children, Alzheimer’s, near death, dolphins?, chimps?, corvids?, etc.

Note that this is compatible with the multiple drafts model. There is no anatomical location where it all comes together and is presented to a homunculus.

They suppose that the transduction by sense organs of light and sound and odor and so forth into an unconscious neural code must be followed (somewhere in the brain) by a second transduction into some other “medium”, the medium of consciousness (e.g., Mangan, 1993).

But there is no transformation to another medium of soul stuff. It is then the case that there is no privileged reference frame for the enormous flood of experiences that exist across the universe.

Objection: This will demotivate people from engaging important issues such as ending aging or cryonics.

Reply: Note that this objection is normative. It is inevitable that the truth can be made dirty in the act of converting it into petroleum for cryocrastination and the pro-aging trance; this human behavior is not relevant to the question of whether physicalism implies immortality.

Having said that, it is my contention that being aware of immortality is a powerful antidote to nihilism. For better or for worse, you have skin in this game for the long run and cannot escape. If people were rational, they would feel motivated to work on Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence with even more fervor because the terminal punishment for not doing so isn’t restful non-existence (which some people hardly find punishing). And not signing up for cryonics is the equivalent of not pressing save and then letting someone else pick which game you will be playing next.

Going on the basic anthropic assumption that we’re trying to do a sum over conditional probabilities while eliminating Death events to get your anticipated future, then depending on to what degree causal continuity is required for personal identity, once someone’s measure gets small enough, you might be able to simulate them and then insert a rescue experience for almost all of their subjective conditional probability. The trouble is if you die via a route that degrades the detail and complexity of your subjective experience before it gets small enough to be rescued, in which case you merge into a lot of other people with dying experiences indistinguishable from yours and only get rescued as a group. –Eliezer Yudkowsky

This was part of a comment in a post discussing… quantum torment, of all things.