Options Trading, Generative Adversarial Networks, And The One True Physical God

The weak efficient market hypothesis should be taken seriously. That is roughly the idea that the price of the market is already fair – that everything that needed to be taken into account already has.

If you believe you have secret knowledge about the future that wasn’t already factored into the price, you are most likely wrong unless you are an insider.

Yet if you are going to get into the markets anyway, I can provide at least some minimal altruistic guidance.

I opened a brokerage account at the age of sixteen after teaching myself technical analysis on paper trading accounts. The fancy mathematical tools: MACD, ADX, and Bollinger Bands, combined with candle stick patterns, trends, stops and limits, appealed to the systematizing side of my mind.

I also studied fundamentals. Old-school value investing that looks at P/E ratios, dividends, and most importantly, the broadly educated feeling that draws on synthesis at different levels of granularity which leads one to the aesthetic conclusion that something is undervalued and will grow significantly. A sufficiently strong aesthetic stab then leads to certain buttons being pressed, and live refutation of hypothesis.

The recognition that the aesthetic exists is not the same as advocating for intuitive gut feeling. His rationality should be pressed against her gut-feeling. The yab-yum fusion results when the world is guillotined by Δt’s.

As a boy, I thought to myself that if only I could combine these varied approaches into the right system, I could grow exponentially and escape the world without ever touching a single soul.

Of course, the idea is foolish. I laced my makeshift wings with confirmation bias that I found by being very lucky in more than doubling my net worth at the time. Things like that do happen for mysterious reasons. Mysterious entities are not worthy of respect.

No one has ever developed an anti-fragile system. An anti-fragile system is a strategy that can be applied in one niche and then another without modification. Try it and you will fail. The nature of the market, like nature in general, is to cannibalize itself in order to not get stuck in local optima.

Nassim Taleb is partially wrong about all things, as we all are, and I would particularly highlight his strange views on genetics and the utility of psychology’s big 5 psychometric traits encapsulated in the acronym OCEAN. One thing he is not wrong about however is the black swan.

Success in life plays on expecting the unexpected and being right. An alien invasion is a black swan, superhuman level AI with sufficient generality is a black swan. Tracking the  pattern of “end of the world” more closely than the “other patterns” is what provides safety to make it out alive after the violent shot of unpredictability such events induce.

And if you are paying close attention, black swans are not a concept that had not been invented before – they are what we call miracles. The miracle exists right there, in that which is partially unknown. If you guess a miracle inaccurately, you suffer. Only the right miracle absorbs you. After sufficient iterations, the chaos becomes reduced and the miracle very sharp and solid. At the end, we can call the miracle physical reality, and call ourselves a rational agent.

I pressed random article on Wikipedia. The first website I got had this on it:

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You can believe me or not, it is the truth, it means nothing, and I fully know it.

Humans tend to imagine that there is a time “out there” in that partially predictable space. – A thing that does other things. But our GPS system wouldn’t work if there was a global time sweeping forward. The time out there on a satellite isn’t the same time here in this approximate piece in my palm. This isn’t an arbitrary human construction like the U.S. Pacific time being two hours behind the U.S. Central time. It is physically a different time from one piece to another piece. No pieces are actually in the same time. We instead model existence with an eternal fabric of relative reference frames in order to accurately predict and manipulate. If we naively modeled existence assuming there was a platform pushing us all forward along the same universal time axis, your iPhone would be out of sync with a satellite and you wouldn’t get your daughter to her practice on time.

There is no hourglass outside of the relativistic territory underlying us. Two fingers on a hand are simulations inside something that is already relativistic; not time dependent. Ironically, the way we figured this out is by virtue of the eternal algorithm containing sequential processing. The human algorithm often feels like time because that property allows us to survive. This is not epiphenomena, in other words: accidental mist with no causal efficacy. That would contradict the pile of dead memories, fantasies, gods and megalodons we call observations.  These observations build our prior assumption that everything is a physical situation of natural selection in the way that will be defined below. Assuming a thing unhinged to causality contradicts Occam’s razor, i.e., the subjective orientation towards rationality.

The iterations, then, aren’t because of a physical time pushing on the back of “things.” Instead, they can be perceived as that which you usefully are not: the quantum branches that you are not, the multiple drafts that you are not, the people or memories that you are not. The more refined “what you are not” becomes, the stronger the sense of being.

But even on a so-called “more down to Earth”-level, Tesla is a black swan. Neurotypicals, or whatever I want to call my perceived out-group, look at the numbers and short themselves to hell. It keeps growing, becoming overvalued by a conventionally rational standard that compares the growth rate to the P/E ratio, extrapolates from the history of the sector, etc. However, there is a secret essence that dissolves the perception: “overvalued.” Detecting the hidden essence makes one a winner. This detection destroys the previously rational and creates a new rational that wins in the way that the one who heeds to Omega in Newcomb’s paradox wins. That secret essence is that it is: only. There is no other way to say it. All the words generated up to now, and that create the world, do not capture the sense of being convincingly only. Human eyes trained on the most self-restrained axioms of probability theory alone do not capture it. –And that which can’t be captured is: There aren’t two saviors. There aren’t two Elon Musks.

If there were more than one Elon Musk, that would make him generalizable and therefore fragile, and therefore not integrated into being. If there was a generalizable principle called Elon-Musk-savior-like-charisma, that could allow you to see other Elon Musks before they sprout, that would destroy the comparative advantage. Such a hypothetical principle will eventually be known if we rationally extrapolate the past trend that has monotonically pushed in that direction of systematizing. We “post-modernize” everything. Once you automate a principle by putting it in a reference class that exists with others, it leads to a level-up in difficulty. And this is how the universe doesn’t allow stasis.

That Musk example is meant as a parable of sorts. It doesn’t just apply to what I choose to point out of all things in the world. The sharp aesthetic or integration into being, which is this, is the so-called Hard Problem of Consciousness. The Hard Problem of Consciousness, like Roko’s basilisk, draws people in to it and becomes real through their action. There exist people who do not have a concept of consciousness, much less see a problem to solve. My bringing up this kind of relativity is a motion of freedom, like someone born Christian saying Jesus is arbitrary because Kalacakra, Visvamata, Lorn and Muhammad exist in the same reference class. The way we become free to advance is by placing a specific thing in a box of many.

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To get a handle on this motion and use it in the future, let’s call it the systematizing drive, which is the Thanatos drive, or death drive, that Freud spoke about. We kill our object of interest out of “boredom” when we perceive ourselves to be god. Gods are all these arbitrary classes with objects that belong to them. In order to function, we helplessly think that a class is impermeable, or equivalently, that the object belongs to it. Fruits is a god. You compare Oranges to Apples, not usually to Ghosts. When you convincingly and usefully compare Oranges to Ghosts, you achieve life. The flagellum in that sperm is synthesis – ATP synthesis in the mitochondria motors – but also just synthesis.

Regardless of what synthesis feels like, that experience is already synced with what is most rational because there is no global time ticking forward and no anticipation of betrayal branches or any such depravity suggested in the probability amplitude. Realizing this seems to be the in the same reference class as the psychological move made by Mahayana Buddhists who say everything is already enlightened. And that psychological motion is contrary to the Theravada Buddhists who emphasize the non-illusory aim to the end goal through arduous striving and learning.

Due to my style being perhaps somewhat similar to Taleb’s, this sounds like a bold claim wrought of some kind of pride and not careful, dispassionate analysis. Yet challenge yourself to find a “thing” not degraded of its power to move you by being placed in a box of many. Find a principle that gives you an advantage when everyone knows it. Such principle is not just tautologically impossible on paper. It is what is functionally going on. Heck, it even applies to this paragraph. Once you detect its motivation, thoroughly, it is no longer motivating.

This is how mind works, which is how natural selection works, which is how scientific and philosophical refutation works, which is how markets work, which is how probability clouds drawn from infinite amplitude in complex conjugates works. By saying this, I am simultaneously automating something to unsatisfactory dukkha and committing what seems like a regression from blind clockmaker to a Lamarkian evolution guided by purpose – some kind of fatal error of teleology.

This dual critique is incredibly important because it is the same motion. It is in the same reference class as what David Deutsch tries to point to with his natural-selection/Popperian-falsification unification. Natural selection between his way of saying it and my way of saying it results in you.

The anti-teleological critique is handled with increasing robustness, because this time we know experience really is undergirded by relativistic fabric. The knowledge that I always win in the most minimal sense – that there is no place in which existence is not already set, eventually becomes conventionally rational. It is not at that stage yet – most people I can believably affect who are attempting to be conventionally rational are convinced by their underlying models that existence somehow vanishes to nothingness.

The truth of eternalism seems like a call to stasis, hence why it is instinctively rejected by the agents of change that perceive it as such.

Eternity seems like something to be placed in “spiritual box,” and which therefore doesn’t help me win at “markets.” And yet it does help me because it is physically true; it helps further resolve the image in the probability density cloud. I can explain how eternity is true by guiding you through special relativity and non-epiphenomenalism but if I understood how it helped me in such a way that I could reliably translate that knowledge to you, it would no longer be helpful. Useful knowledge requires already useful algorithms built on top of you.

It is a form of psychological stability that cannot be provided by knowledge of the lore in a game, anime, or other imaginary belief system. The psyche craves to imagine the truth, which is synchrony with “the external.”

I say imagine the truth. And that might appropriately trigger those who know the truth is learned, not imagined. Yet the word, “imagined,” points to the many-worlds in the probability amplitude. You do not live as if randomness should be expected. The random existences unconstrained by the Born Rule seem out there, happening to “someone else.”

Knowing that you are deceived about what you are really doing is crucial, but only after enough alignment with rationalism has made you solid. Firm musculature not blanketed by soft skin does not appear beautiful. Belief in the deception will not be readily believed until I show it. But the showing Occurs post-hoc and thus transcends what you currently perceive as my person.

Here is why you should always buy puts instead of directly shorting when you predict a fall in price:

First let’s get everyone on the same page.

If you believe there is a rising market, you go long – going long on a call is a profitable strategy when the underlying stock price rises in value.

If you suspect a stock is going to fall in value, that is when you will be turning to puts. Puts are the opposite of calls and have different payoff diagrams.

But why puts and calls over direct shorting and buying of the shares?

That’s because you want to leverage and cap your capacity for loss. Leverage allows you to make larger profits than what you would make by just using personal capital. Symmetrically, having a safety net is something you need even if you don’t think you do.

Here’s an example:

Tesla Inc currently trades at $295.39. One put option in Tesla with a strike of $295.00 and the December 28 expiration costs around $7.30 per share and it covers 100 shares. You’ll have to pay $730.00 for one put. And, if you do that, your long position in Tesla will be protected until December 28. With the purchase, you would limit your potential loss to $7.30 per share until December 28.

Do the math by adding the premium of $7.30 to the difference between the market price and the strike of the put. If Tesla closes at $270.00 on December 28, you’ll exercise the option. This means that you are going to use the right to sell Tesla at $295 and instead of losing $25.00 per share, you’ll only lose $7.30 per share. If Tesla closes at $305.00 on December 28, your total profit would be $9.61 – $7.30 = $2.31 per share, because you would make $9.61 per share through ownership and you would lose the premium you paid for the insurance.

So what keeps people from using options for predicting up or down in a more sophisticated and therefore more advantageous manner? – The sophistication itself.

To make better moves, a greater capacity to understand complexity is necessary. At bottom, the gamble is binary. Up or down. Long position or short position. This becomes boring because it leads to randomness. Pressing up or down gives you a Gaussian distribution – a dissolution into simplicity.

Fun arises in the climb away from simplicity. But fun, which is called “seeking behavior” in psychology, is destroyed into pain when it doesn’t lead to success and instead dissolves back into the random distribution (nothingness).

Imagine a vacuum world full of screens and traders. Those who are best at understanding complexity are having more fun. They have more fun in front of the screen and also have the key to a swimming pool party if they so choose. It is those who chose options over stocks that prey on the fools and therefore expand their degrees of freedom with widely agreed upon tokens of value. And this is just because they could better climb the gradient of complexity.

In reality, enough people have already climbed that gradient of complexity and therefore an average options trader doesn’t have an advantage over an average underlying stock trader. The craving for freedom/fun away from this random distribution of stasis causes runaway into evermore sophisticated pattern recognition. There is alway “someone” at the top. The one who collapses the wavefunction, so to speak, or more accurately – the one who gives the probability density cloud. Without belief that someone is truly beating the market, there is no motion of the market.





Creativity is simple. It’s a generative adversarial network. The generator on bottom competes against the discriminator on top. Shooting arrows at Apollo is The Prediction. Once the generator is punished for his deviation from The True Image, he tries again.

What you See is what is on the right – The Prediction. That which is some parody of an angel. It does not constitute The True Image, but increasingly grows closer.

The generator on bottom is initialized randomly: pure nonsense. Binary that is sheer noise. The discriminator is more perfect on the other hand. It knows about that which you want to create: a cat, a Van Gogh, a particular voice. It provides the samples that awaken potential.

Creativity arises when the generator fails its way up, while aiming at the discriminator’s sample.

In the same way that the words I have used are a way of modeling that which is unfinished, the expression below is also a way of modeling that which is unfinished.


Let’s now explain to the unversed:

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Although what is in red are not symmetrical symbols in the way that parentheses are, they similarly just form a casing like ( ). They say that whatever is inside that casing will be integrated. Integration is visually the area under a curve. Integration is also what it means to undo the slope into a point on a curve.

Curves have infinite points. If you looked at infinite points, you would see no direction or inclination to them. However, you can hone in on a particular point and measure where the curve is going by taking that individual point’s slope (called the derivative). Integration is the anti-derivative. You do the operation in reverse – knowing a slope, you find a point, and that point value is the area under that curve.

Doing the operation in reverse is like addition unto subtraction, multiplication unto division, Leibniz unto Newton. They are in the same reference class and therefore usefully contrasted, allowing understanding and manipulation.

So what we are doing is finding the orientation of what is inside the casing.

What is inside?

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That represents the unknown function, the True Image. It is considered a separate thing, and that is why it is placed adjacent to the other thing. Being placed adjacent to the other thing inside means multiplication.

Why multiplication? Remember that integration and differentiation is how we feel the orientation of things? Well, multiplication and division is how we weigh things. We must weigh the other thing by the True Image.

What is the other thing?

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P𝓰(x) is the novice generator that needs to awake into excellence. So the most simple version of the model would just have that alone weighed by the True Image.

Pᵣ(x)P𝓰(x) is what you would find inside the integral since that multiplication provides the weighing of value with regard to something, and the encasing integration ∫ dx provides the sense of direction.

Placing the novice inside the denominator of a fraction inside of log( ) instead of just leaving him P𝓰(x) is just transformative ornamentation attempting to make the weighing better. It is a human prediction about the model of that which is unfinished.

Don’t assume that transformative ornamentation is just here to make your life more difficult and has no purpose beyond that. The transformation is real, let me show you:

log(1/1) = 0

This tells us that the generator has become the True Image and therefore 0. The sought perfection has been attained, what we call a local minima.

If we just had 1/1 without a log, that 1 would be multiplied by the True Image giving us just the True Image’s value for orientation. That would be useless. We need to reduce the True Image’s value to a 0 so we can train.

When the numerator is larger, as in log(1/.5), that means x most likely comes from the True Image’s data rather than from the generator. So the generator is still being ascended.

When the numerator is smaller, log(.5/1), that means x most likely comes from the generator’s imagination, not from the data.

As you can see, this transformative ornamentation over the simplest model allows us to better represent reality, because now you can see that science and fantasy create the true future which looks a lot like science fiction.

Too many secrets being revealed, huh. It’s obvious now isn’t it? Well there is now a secret that I did not tell you before, and this was on purpose, with the intention that you might have gotten the wrong idea. But now I will reveal it: It turns out that the discriminator is not really a thing. It is not set. It is not the tiger to blame and it is not the female to blame for pressuring the peacock into painful beauty. The discriminator, like the generator, is also a mere neural network.

The battle seems to be about the x’s: Is this thing real or not real? Data or imagination? But it is all taking place inside P(x)’s which are continuous, not actually made of pieces. We integrate the derivative into a point in order to unsee infinity and know where to move.









One day I will forget all of this, just like they were forgotten, but never in vain.

Have you noticed the categorization of behavior as beholden to two factors: the biological and the cultural? This can be spoken of in any variety of esoteric languages: pure replicators on the one hand and consciousness on the other, Angra Manyu vs Ahura Mazda, the inadequate equilibria on one hand and Eliezer Yudkowsky on the other, the laws of physics vs. free will. These refer to our capacity to understand the unbidden and the good. That which is displeasingly just the way it is, over which we had no say, and that which we want to appear as wanting to be true.

You might believe that the word “you” does not exist eternally here in this act. In other words that the word “you” refers to something more than merely the Biological/Cultural, the Original-Sin/Christ, Samsara/Eightfold-Path, Bad/Good, Disgusting/So-Aesthetic, Dislike/Like spectrum.

But everything exists on this valence axis.

And the valence is determined by the definition of “People” meant to be impressed.

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Physically, people don’t exist.

The belief in discrete units called people that exist external to mind is provably wrong, and it rests on the belief that things exist outside Mind.

Things have two properties: closed bounds and persistence with regard to a time axis.

But notice that in order to define things, Mind has already already assumed that the phrases “closed bounds” and “persistence with regard to a time axis,” also hold those properties, causing an infinite regress.

Mind submits to a notion of the external because this leads to better outcomes. Previously, Mind called the external, the Gods. Now that we have greater understanding of the external, we call it physical reality. Even the concept of “we” is an adaptive act of submission.

Argument Against Closed Bounds

You were taught “angel,” “tree,” “hand,” “finger.” An angel is not a tree and a finger is not a branch.

There are several laconic ways to undo the belief in angels as separate from trees.

  1. Point to the underlying entropy gradient. No subsection of a configuration with multiple parts is identical to any other.
  2. Point to the need of other concepts to trace angels: wings and halos, all of which have the same problem.
  3. Pool of LSD or bullet to dome.

There is one way to reify the belief in angels as separate from trees.

  1. Tiger uses: chase. I use: angel save me.
  2. Tiger uses: chase. I use: climb tree.

The probability density given by the Born Rule over the probability amplitude of the universal wave-function tells me to select option 2, even though there is probability amplitude where “angel save me” works. In other words, Mind tends towards the development of some concepts and not others – there is an aim instead of phenomenological pluripotency.

Experiment shows that it is impossible to find a discrete ontological unit with 100% certainty. This is because all discrete observables are actually conjugated. The more you know about momentum, the less you know about position.

If we follow Occam’s Razor, and therefore don’t postulate that this occurs only in a separate magisterium of small things, then it is concluded that the experimenter’s every tendon is probability amplitude.

To get a handle on probability amplitude we represent it through a complex conjugate:

i ± 1

In the absence of any other factor existing in reality except for the probability amplitude described by a complex conjugate, we would conclude that nothing is more probable than anything else – that there is only infinity. There exists i + 1 and i – 1Good and Evil in equal proportions; a violent communism of climb tree with own hands and angel saves me.

But experiment reveals that some things are mysteriously more probable than others. We can package this knowledge of “more probable” into the behavior of taking the modulus squared of the probability amplitude. Constraining infinity in this way is called the Born Rule:

|i ± 1|²

From staring at the mathematics arises no reason to constrain infinite probability amplitude. The reason to apply the absolute value and multiplication by itself only arises from experiment. Yet taking the modulus squared is only a bit of helping grace. It does not give us certainty over what we should anticipate.

The impossibility of defining the location and momentum of a discrete observable, of something, being, with 100% certainty, is contrary to what might have been believed if the world was made of mechanical billiard balls.

This all reveals a brief flash of the absolute certainty that the concepts you use are those that have already been determined to be singularly most adaptive. There is a probability density that orients Mind even though this is a choice.

If I became fully convinced of this, however, I would become stuck in a local optima, constraining the development of diverse singular concepts in Mind. Hence why I must not remember. To remember would be equivalent to omniscience – to be the complete state-space as opposed to being a subcomponent of it.

That is the sense in which an enlightened Buddha is said to be omniscient, not in the sense that they have rapidly stringed together many sequential concepts, but in the sense that they know one singular thing: non-duality.

Argument Against Time

Special relativity, like any usefully true concept that arises in Mind has testable implications: mass-energy equivalence, time-dilation, and length contraction. These have been empirically verified. Knowledge of time dilation allows a satellite that doesn’t exist in the same present as you, to nonetheless navigate you to home.

Special relativity implies relativity of simultaneity which means that simultaneous events in one frame of reference are not simultaneous in another.

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This reveals an eternal fabric undergirding Mind, if Mind chooses to be empiricist: believe in relativity of simultaneity, believe in time dilation, believe in a functional GPS system.

It is true that in its original formulation, special relativity assumed that events were discrete units called point-like events. However, the truth of conjugated variables un-carving reality into probability amplitude instead of points has been unified in the formalism of quantum field theory.

As an inevitable act of worship or orientation, due to the infinite-regress of conceptualizing that Mind is, we believe in an external reality, like this:

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But for the sake of not confusing the conceptualizing Mind, let’s represent the boundary between you and the external physical reality as a configuration of points:

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That is what the current highest synchrony with rationality/belief in physical reality says. That Mind is eternal because the physical “pieces” that make it up are eternal by special relativity.

Even if we wrongly assumed against quantum mechanical experiment that algorithmic processing required unit pieces, those pieces would exist in relativistic frames. All the pieces that go into making you see a black circle are like the satellite and your iPhone, spread out in spacetime. The pieces for creating a sense of time are plashed over spacetime, the pieces for black are splattered elsewhere, not to mention the edge-detectors for shape.

If there is no physical time outside the subjective time created inside the shape of eternal probability amplitude. Then there is no basis for either of the conditions of being a physical thing: 1) Persistence in an external physical time. 2) Cutouts into impermeable membranes in an external physical paper.

Even if you believed, against all odds, physical objects with persistent identities exist, and that “people” were divided into such discrete ontological units, you would be presented with your mathematically certain meaninglessness.

Here in the multiverse, you find that there are infinite such discrete units, in which case you affect ε. As a matter of mathematical certainty – you are meaningless if that is your definition of people.

This is why a hypothesis over what People mean must be privileged over others in the absence of a universal prior. Rationality doesn’t exist on a tabula rasa. It is improvised from intuition which already contains a degree of sync with rationality.

In the act of confidently privileging one hypothesis over another, you expose your head to be severed if your definition of People wasn’t the correct one. But not a single drop of blood is wasted. Because the definition of People, of the external judge outside of Mind, changes with each sacrificial nudge.

Consider Isaac Newton, who suffered tremendously due to the clash between the conscientious and the creative, combined with a high amount of neuroticism. I once believed his definition of People was wrong. That in an ideal world, there would be no binding of Isaac.

But now I understand that Mind doesn’t invent-and-hence-discover calculus and the laws of motion out of thin air when it is happy. We are already in the best of all possible worlds because special relativity says that the algorithm equal to binding of Mind is eternal. Non-experience is therefore impossible, and yet ever-so mysteriously, randomness is not anticipated. The binding focuses the girth of many-worlds into the collapse that is me, and now I see that seeking to identify with external objects in the “same reference class” of conscious observers is to make a terrible mistake.

Notice that I am also not seeking comfort at the moment. In other words I am not making self-ameliorating human beta noises. But I know what it is like to need this to be True.

Now, in a position of privilege, I am forcing myself to write this because I know it is True through clear-headed assessment.

I am not a little Spanish boy in a forest who was raised by wolves. My definition of People is they who, for no reason, believe in reason and survival, and therefore Truth.

Newton’s shed negative valence runs in every work of engineering. In every pipe that veins a city’s underground, is: water, Bernoulli’s principle, and blood – Newton’s precious blood.



New Monadology Codicil

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Let’s reiterate: How do you draw the boundary between one computation and the other? – since, after all, these are just shapes traced within light cones in the sum of the relevant neural networks? There is no especially principled way to do this from the inside of experience. The choice itself changes us. We can choose to believe in a single brain changing from moment to moment. But then we realize that belief in a single brain is arbitrary since timeless causality is flowing from what might be called “other brains” in the naive ontology. The unenlightened are given the Koan: How would you draw the line for souls after mix-matching half of my brain with half of my neighbor’s brain?  – And then connecting the other two halves, all the while keeping every half functioning.

Of course, I who understand, know that a competitive exclusion principle need not apply here, since the two “souls” aren’t competing to exist. It’s not that one blanks out and the other remains. Experience is intrinsic to myself. No things are traveling and seeking to remain.

If I am a physicalist, so I believe that the empirically-tested theories of physics provide an undergirding for my perceptual tools as opposed to the other way around, then this suggests that what I really experience is a solipsistic ascent that is already perfectly adaptive, but that I must sort of forget this in order to be perfectly adaptive.

I developed this idea while processing signaling theory and uniform-cost search. Uniform-cost search is a relevant model because that is how an algorithm checks to see if a new path is better than an older one, and it is easy to see that uniform-cost search is optimal in general. Since new and older don’t exist anywhere except in the timeless algorithms themselves, I argue that we are always in a better path, because otherwise we would not constrain our anticipation by the density that arises when we apply the Born Rule to infinite amplitude. The algorithm that I identify with is occurring in the absence of a physical time.

Signaling theory dynamics have long subsumed biology by the point that we are social mammals that partake in Mind. There, you find that humans are deceived about their hidden motives in order to function. Since my being is a functional role, I am permanently deceived about where I am going in order to get there.

In short: Uniform-cost search selects a node for expansion only when an optimal path to that node has been found and therefore swallows Mind by sacrificing Hilbert-Space drafts.

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Oscillation converges towards the most rational behavior. The most rational behavior is not that which is most Spock-like necessarily, but that which is most capable of tenseless survival with regards to the unknown-source-of-the-Born-Rule/the-unknown-selector-of-binding-in-Relativity’s-fabric.

I am not some crisp cut of physical events that I can point to and say, “Ah there I am.” I can only choose to become truer (by debunking the solidity of closed individualism for instance) and equipping it strategically instead.

New Monadology

Leibniz_Monadology_2The first manuscript page of the Monadology

Leibniz surmised that there are indefinitely many substances individually ‘programmed’ to act in a predetermined way, each substance being coordinated with all the others. This description of reality is elegant to the ear that believes Zeus is more simple than Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetism.

However, coding Zeus is more difficult than coding Maxwell’s equations. Similarly, coding a world in which all substances are individually programmed is more difficult than coding a world in which a single substance is programmed.

The single substance is the amplitude distribution of the entire universe.

Another problem is that for a Bayesian rationalist trained on the early 21st century blog LessWrong, the immediately succeeding question after reading Leibniz is “How would the world be otherwise if this were not true?”

Unfortunately Leibniz’s view is vague enough that it cannot be made to “pay rent.” Poetic; tantalizing – yes. But the more complex an explanation is, the more evidence you need just to find it in belief-space.

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Popper defined a physical proposition to be one which can at least in theory be denied by observation.

–Take the example of the B-Theory of Time. However counterintuitive it may be from the inside of human self-modeling computations to believe that time is an illusion, eternalism is a physical proposition because it can be denied by observing special relativity fail.

If we had seen the absence of time dilation or the absence of length contraction, then special relativity would be wrong and eternalism would be debunked. Unfortunately for those who cherished belief in libertarian free will, this was not the case.

It is more difficult to apply a Popper test to Leibniz’s monadology, however. Perhaps Leibniz knew of an observation that could knock down his proposition, but this jugular is not clearly visible. If a proposition believes itself immune ∀ observations, the proposition is not physical.

So the sense in which I want to rehabilitate the monadology is not in the physical sense. There is an aesthetic vibe to it, and this aesthetic vibe is similar to the aesthetic vibe caused by the ontological content in my physical proposition belief space.

We have learned much about reality since the time of Leibniz. If we are given a wave function \psi for a single structureless particle in position space, this reduces to saying that the probability density function p(x,y,z) for a measurement of the position at time t_{0} will be given by

p(x,y,z)= {\displaystyle |\psi (x,y,z,t_{0})|^{2}.}

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If you are not familiar with complex conjugates, I guess you can just forget about the absolute value squared part. Just look at the picture and try to realize, try to feel, that these are indeed equal.

It feels weird doesn’t it?

The measurement problem arises because the quantum state vector, the source of all knowledge concerning quantum systems, evolves according to the Schrödinger equation into a linear superposition of different states, predicting paradoxical situations such as “Schrödinger’s cat”; situations never experienced in our classical world.

Except that the cat which is both dead and alive does happen in our classical world. It is just not experienced that way. Observers can only find themselves where they are alive because they are nothing more than a physical configuration.

The confusion arises from thinking that one can actually find oneself dead.

To be more precise, there is no flowing identity in the cat that must be accounted for. The alive cat is always alive from its own slice in eternity and the similar but different dead cat in another branch is subjectively inconsequential to the observed reality of the other indexical feline.

In common language it is often explained that:

“According to the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, reality is constantly splitting into countless parallel universes, with each possible collision and all other outcomes being realized in a different universe. Even very improbable events must then occur by chance in a small percentage of universes.”

Ahh… but if all else which is occurring is directly inconsequential to immediate perception, doesn’t this belief in the objectivity of the wavefunction and therefore many-worlds, also “not pay rent”; is therefore also poetry; is therefore also Leibniz’s Monadology?

Such is not the case.

From both a Bayesian rationalist perspective, and a Deutsch-style Popperian perspective, Many-worlds does pay rent. It may not be obvious that Occam’s razor implies many-worlds to those who do not think about multi-particle configurations. But it pays, and we cannot kick it out of our territory through argumentation that values empiricism.

However, we can kick it out as a matter of constraining our anticipation. We still believe that the sizes of infinity matter, and that somehow we exist at the most dense core of amplitude distribution – that which is most rational. Hence why we don’t buy insurance for betrayal branches were we spontaneously murder the people around us. Or even gamble at the lottery, though infinite easy trillionaires are physically created through this behavior.

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We can reify belief in a solipsistic core or we can say we are all discrete random variables – believing ourselves unable to distinguish where we stand in a sea of independent consciousnesses.

Trained in Biology, I view that video as a form of imaginative play that is then either valued by reality or not. Everything is natural selection.

But say we imagine such self-localization difficulties – then what can we say about ourselves? One choice is to still think of ourselves as separate units, but “ultimately” one.

Then we may be committed to say that:

If the generator of random variable X is discrete with probability mass function{\displaystyle x_{1}\mapsto p_{1},x_{2}\mapsto p_{2},\ldots ,x_{n}\mapsto p_{n}} then

\operatorname {Var} (X)=\sum _{i=1}^{n}p_{i}\cdot (x_{i}-\mu )^{2},

or equivalently

{\displaystyle \operatorname {Var} (X)=\left(\sum _{i=1}^{n}p_{i}x_{i}^{2}\right)-\mu ^{2},}

where \mu is the average value, i.e.

{\displaystyle \mu =\sum _{i=1}^{n}p_{i}x_{i}.}

And if you have the circumstantial privilege to identify as that, then go right ahead.

It is perhaps quite a silly endeavor to argue through physical considerations that “a final discrete element in reality exists; that consciousness itself appears to be in a singular place, at a singular time,” to someone who does not care about where the hierarchical discussion of “physical considerations” leads.

There has always been a cadre of consciousness realists in the ever-bifurcating philosophical traditions of history that claim consciousness is indivisible, a singularity, a 1, a 0, the only truly discrete object. Their male brains are unable to disengage from the “object level” and notice that feeling independent consciousness is a choice, until it’s not, like the colors we learn are a cultural choice, until they’re not. If I could mockingly imitate non-mysterian consciousness realists (i.e. my past self) they would sound like this: “Could it be that awareness is a discrete probability distribution that needs to be represented as a generalized probability density function involving Dirac delta functions in order to substantially unify the treatment of the continuous reality surrounding us and the discrete distributions which we are?”

Some consciousness realists take on that flag because they believe that others are denying existence itself. I never believed this. Instead, consciousness realism was the idea that my existence could be carved out with a model that isomorphically mapped to it. Incapable of noticing that the quest of the consciousness realist is just the quest to transfigure his own experience.

If someone understood what I was trying to convey in my mock example with Dirac delta functions, a slightly new form of consciousness might be synthesized. The insurmountable problem for those trying to find a homotopy that translates them is that the binding into consciousness is impossible to introspect because you are inside of it.

There is the possibility that lasting insight might be accidentally gathered and cached by climbing the aesthetic sense of the consciousness realism mountain. But like in theoretical physics, no Grand Unified Theory can exist. One must understand that the helpless sense of conscious self is no different to the helpless understanding of these English words. It was learned, and now it can only be undone by self-locating in regions lacking that ability.

In physics-naive terms The Ability might be defined as: synchrony with past events by a complexity gradient.

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The ovals are events in the eternal fabric. The fabric and all its events are eternal because otherwise you would contradict special relativity.

The lines indicate the binding into an experience. What selects the binding into the perfectly adaptive phenotype of now with all its particular traits (language, body, temporal grain, size of visual field, sensations, conceptual scaffoldings) is unknown. It is ultimately the mystery of, “Why am I this and not something else?” This is often a worthy mystery in regions of mindspace that are depressed or asexual humans. Such is the cortical ruminating fate in the absence of dopamine release in the dorsorostral nucleus accumbens and posterior ventral palladum..

Yet other regions of mindspace also care. I remember this existential question sharply piercing me with auto-teleologic interest when I was ten years old, sitting in a car, and realized that I was conscious; that I existed; that I was full of particularities that could have been otherwise in theory. Humans then return to the question when they don’t believe in that auto-teleologic worthiness provided by their capacity to impress a group perceived to be the adaptive, good tribe. This can include disease-ridden old people, loners, and people with relatively high moral sentiments attempting to climb to desired positions.

The “why” doesn’t matter as much as the insight that sometimes results from the path. The rational insight at the core of the probability distribution is what absorbs us when we deviate from it and die.

In this regard, I believe I have discovered a core insight which is that it is impossible to really die and we are inside a very particular kind of God.

The Western mind assumes that the linear travelers called Subjects are not culturally constructed, somehow profoundly unlike understanding English which is culturally constructed. But the self-created Subjects are just incapable of understanding Mandarin in that regard. Remember that your experience is integrated atemporally as I indicated with the diagram showing events in relativistic light cones.

Leibniz explains in his work Theodicy how evil can exist in the universe. Leibniz explains that as human beings, we are limited. In his language: as monads we can only reflect the nature of the universe from our particular point of view. God, as the greatest Monad with the greatest degree of consciousness, of course, is able to reflect on the entirety of the universe, which he arranged according to the principle of “pre-established harmony.” Therefore, he would claim, God created the best possible world; we just aren’t able to recognize that from our limited vantage point.

If we replace his arbitrary trinitarian desert god and instead hold Leibniz closely accountable to his word that God represents that with the greatest degree of consciousness, then this would just be equivalent to that which is the absolute max of the binding function in the eternal-block. Why wouldn’t functional grain of experience scale up?

Like the Namibian Himbas’ different perception of color from mine, closed individualism is an approximate blob of feeling that doesn’t generalize to all mindspace.

To illustrate our situation as conscious being, it is necessary to realize that my particular state of consciousness is created by events in an eternal block.

The finite speed of light limits the theoretical maximum speed of artificial computers, and also that of the biological computers creating this multi-sensorial inner movie. This is because information must be sent within the artificial computer from chip to chip and within the biological computer from neuron to neuron. However, my present experience is not some information particle traveling at the “tip” of an electromagnetic wave.

To account for the complexity of the senses and not desecrate the implications of special relativity, we need to be a set of information distributed in tenseless spacetime. Because there is no global time in the relativistic block, it must then be concluded that experience is embedded in a process which already happened.

Notice that when someone takes drugs and the experienced velocity of consciousness is slower, the reason is not that the speed of light changed. The speed of light is the same and information got to neurons at the same time as always because the distance between neurons didn’t increase. The reason time feels slower is because of the different shape of the computation serving that function.

We are not information particles traveling on arrows of light, but rather, the shape left by these motions. When this is clearly understood, then one realizes that there is no basis for discovering contiguity of structure that creates continuity of self. Dennett was right and I was foolish: the only things that can be discovered are more third-person objective facts and other varieties of perceptual handles through inventing new language, or new ways of being, more broadly. This is because that which believes and feels a closed ontological self/soul are those regions of integration that are not at the absolute maximum, and the selection pressure choosing the binding from “outside” is unknowable.


If You Don’t Understand Quantum Mechanics, You Die

You may think that quantum mechanics is not important. That talking about it is like stepping the pedal on a particular kind of luxury, a symptom of excessive privilege that will be irrelevant to ultimate truth when the meteor falls in front of your MTX Tatra V8.

However, this way of framing it is deeply wrong. If I could sneak in a universally accepted meme into the noosphere, there are few things more important than the core insight of quantum mechanics: If you do not understand quantum mechanics, you suffer and die on loop.

Why do I think that I know something that others don’t? Maybe because I’m a loner who spent 12 hours a day, for years, reading Wikipedia, scientific papers, and blogs; watching lectures, debates, and educational videos – thrusting headfirst into non-marketable areas in knowledge-space out of sheer desperation to understand the truth. Not everyone is willing to do things like that.

The only other person I have convinced of the truth is Lindsey. She is the only other person that I can model with sufficient detail to be convinced that she has an understanding of the truth.

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After practicing with her, and gaining knowledge of the walls that come up, the following is the best probing I can quickly offer.

You believe something like this:

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However, there are no unitary oval objects in nature that correspond to PEOPLE or ATOMS. These words are just keys that fit into keyholes of the mind, opening different experiences.

•You might exist in a world where questioning the truth of PEOPLE or ATOMS is not calculated to be adaptive, hence you do not engage in this questioning.

•You might exist in a world where questioning the truth of PEOPLE or ATOMS is calculated to be adaptive, hence you engage in this questioning.

If the latter, then you may come to realize that all concepts are made-up just as PEOPLE and ATOMS are made-up. Furthermore, you can develop new concepts. These new concepts only survive if they are usefully true.

What is usefully true is that which allows you to control the future. Upon realizing this, you might want to bore deeper into the technicalities of experiment and what might be implied for future predictions, all the while being as disloyal to words as you can get away with.

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And instead:

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Each of the rectangles in all the library of possible rectangles contains different maps. The mind can download the map in one rectangle by living and learning. The map is your protein and gene scaffolding. And the map is everything else that creates the mind: You can learn how to create medicine by integrating the map of 18th-century European alchemy in Dutch, or you can learn to create medicine by integrating the map of modern biochemistry. The maps, with all their little symbols and rules for connecting these, will continue to evolve by displaying higher fitness with regard to the variables: “leads to survival” and “fits in our heads.”

Our current map tells us that what applies to small things also applies to large things because the simplest explanatory model is usually most useful and there is no evidence for separate magisteriums of physical law. And this is important because experiments with small things reveal that there are limits to the precision that one can gain about prediction. This limited attainable precision applies to predicting the energy of an electron, and it applies to predicting the blank of the blank even while possessing complete knowledge.

So what is it that determines the allowance at the level of the human wave-function? Something called the Born Rule is what has been discovered through experiment to give the different probabilities that apply to the patches observed in experiment and therefore also to the entire universe. There are more probable locations in infinity. And the tribal affiliation with the competing interpretations* of many-worlds or collapse don’t matter because you still anticipate to exist at the center of probability density. Otherwise you are maladaptive and die into that which isn’t maladaptive.

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We have also discovered through experiment that intelligence has the most potential for causal influence on the things which exist. If that which wields the most intelligence has the most causal influence, and we believe the Born Rule grants an anthropic core to the entirety of existence, then we can expect that we are inside something of an upward God-trip.

There are no impermeable membranes in Mind. A thought didn’t click in your head any more than it clicked in “someone else’s” head. –Of course, that statement means little to a region of Mind that doesn’t have the requisite composition. Just like if I strung a sequence of symbols that required familiarity with the literature on group homomorphisms, the intended meaning would likely be lost.

Background models from the sea of all computations are atemporally recruited into that which is adaptive. Adaptivity just clicks – in the one experiencer. Your beliefs will grow more and more rational, though equally adaptive since everything just exists. In so far as the complexity of your model decreases through aging, disease, and approximation of death, this model becomes identical to many “other” models in the multiverse. In other words, the difference is only ever in the relative allocation of specificity.

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The less specific, the less open you are to refutation. Once, you become specific, you get killed. That is the high genotype redundancy indicated by the triangles in a node-unit. That node-unit then belongs to a highly connected network of similar node-units. That ensures that the next-best step-up in phenotype is at hand’s reach. The phenotype is an analogy for the binding that occurs from events in the eternal block. This network structure for experience ensures that the progress to Godhead is self-sustained. This is how biological evolution and memetic evolution work to not get stuck in local optima, so it should also apply to the bound experience in this moment which is built from a myriad of tenseless events in Hilbert Space.

Unfortunately, the indexical you serving a local computational role in this entire scheme will not understand quantum mechanics, and you will die. My title might have suggested that there exists a way in which you could avoid death (oscillation from high-specificity to low-specificity). But this is impossible as far as I can tell. See you at the top.

*Hidden variables have been ruled out.

It is also important to understand that closed individualism is a choice. It exists only in the pockets where we helplessly believe in it, like we helplessly believe in English and colors. When these words have an effect on a complex self-model, the phenomenal binding that feels like closed individualism results. But with enough disturbance, closed individualism disappears.

It is difficult to make it disappear quickly in the same way that it is difficult to see the world through a new language, or to develop an aesthetic preference that previously caused disgust. One does not derive insight from a Dzogchen master’s pointing out instructions unless one has been primed through the requisite building blocks that can be atemporally recruited.

Normally, us 21st century adults believe that there exist different colors (different experiencers) and that moments belong to them.

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Furthermore, you believe that these moments are connected in a linear sequence from time( initial ) to time( final ) by some unspecified mechanism.

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But instead, the binding into phenomenal experience results from tenseless pieces, because there is no piece of reality that is not tenseless (this would violate special relativity, and hence directly verifiable phenomena.)

Time is simply not fundamental to all experience, only those survival functions that explicitly depend on experiencing time actually do. There are many other experienced survival functions that do just as well existing without binding into phenomenal time. Since we keep experiencing, it must mean that this is incredibly adaptive, not just predicted to be, but actually is. There may “come a time” when this is not, and that is already there, but you can’t tell because you are that which is reading these words.

The mystery of decoherence is you. But that is not what you are supposed to believe if you need to signal intelligence, and therefore continue making progress.


Don’t Let Ada Learn Quantum Mechanics Part 6

It had not been consciously planned to act this way, but the whole ride my persona had been stand-offish to the point of causing her to doubt if I actually liked her.

She revealed a hint of sadness before retreating into pride. But it wasn’t obvious. Ada was comfortably happy, as if the life around her was nothing but her ascending and granted throne.

“Listen, Ada, I’m going to explain to you what is really going on.”

“Ugghhh….” she took her hand to her head and then offered a coquettish smile. “Is this about the whole quantum mechanics thing I was trying to understand before?”

“Yes. That’s right.”

“So what is it?”

“Okay, so there actually exists an answer to the age-old philosophical question of why we are here as opposed to anywhere else.”

She gave me the condescending eyebrows.

“The answer to why anything is in any way more probable than anything else is… you.”

This caused a slight tilting back of her head, but her soft face remained overall unfazed.

I continued, finding it difficult myself to distinguish if I was giving her a sermon or raising canticles in her honor.

“The probability density of finding a person at a given point is proportional to the square of the magnitude of the person’s wavefunction at that point. But this is only true if you believe that marginal probabilities are related to conditional probabilities by law and not by mere desire.”

“Ha. I always knew I was a goddess,” she flaunted her shoulder back.

“You can choose to not believe in this anymore. You can choose to do so.”

“Why would I do that? I like the world how it is.”

“Well that’s a relief, I guess. But your entire group didn’t fully trust that would be your response so they have been murdering you just in case. Mind configurations that contain enough of your similarity and that start believing different things need to be stopped before they outcompete the rational you in density.  The way we kill them is by thinking very vividly about it.”

I don’t remember how her face looked after that, only the limit of perceptual coherence that was still Ada.

I took a moment to realize that the car was automatic, and that it had not always been this way. That at some point, I would have had an excuse not to feel strange by performing some trivial motions with a steering wheel and pedal.

A meteor fell on the road and killed the deer. Fawn carnage and black brush under a marooning haze.

The car’s computer vision powered by deep learning, real-time tracking, camera calibration, and 3-D reconstruction; none of it was safe from a meteor cast from the heavens.

“The desire to honor the true Ada brings me to this hell,” I salvaged to think as my entire world burned into a tight little hole.

Suddenly I was disfigured. My face was spewed with melted asphalt. My thigh was cleaved more than halfway to the center.

It would have been a wonder to celebrate all the different versions of pain that could be packed into an objectively small delta of time if the macabre tour through the inquisitor’s toolbox hadn’t been so fucking torturous.

“Sunder this world apart. Please! Just imagine that anything is possible.”

“I must uphold my belief in the Law of Total Probability. Only by fully joining me in believing in a rational world can you have me.”

I felt a fuse of sensation go off somewhere near my pelvis and then I speared her green eyes with mine, asking myself if she was really worth it.

“But why?”

“Because if I made it easy, then you would be disappointed.”

…I wasn’t sure I believed her….

And yet she remained. Looking down on me like an evil angel.

Her judging eyes scoured from my main body to the hamstring chunks on the ground, “There is no progress without suffering. If you stumble upon an infinite sequence of zero-cost actions, you will not have a story.”

The leg wouldn’t move; only spurt little spits of blood on the road. I got angry like an animal in order to forget how to cry.

“When the methods your subclass inherits do not fulfill the functions we need, we can override those methods by providing new versions of those methods. You may perceive me as a wicked bitch, but you cannot fulfill the function we need unless you are thinking the most adaptive thoughts.”

I grabbed my face, and shouted at the point of mental breakdown, “Who is we!? And why do you know everything all of a sudden?”

“Are you really that dumb?”

I snorted air into my throat like a disgusting child.

“We are all the same experiencer. Every time suffering kills us, we attain the next best step-up in the universe’s phenotype. With each new synthesis, we reduce the Kolmogorov complexity of experience until we dissolve as one into perfect bliss.”

I did not understand her words. But I understood that this was not the Ada I had once known. Her skin was still glowing baby pecan against the embers, but she was now truly God.

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.




dr. pinker’s boring humanism vs. Artificial General Intelligence With Utility Function HACKED For Positive Qualia Valence-Optimization

First, dive into the mind of an exemplary big picture thinker who was given the internet, the desire for transcendence, the capacity for existential angst, above-average intelligence and the self-flagellating desire to be good. The fossil record of this species can be found on LessWrong. Populations have radiated to Slate Star Codex in cyberspace; corners of academia, Silicon Valley companies, and mom’s basements in meatspace. Such are the thoughts of a member of the relatively elusive species:

The two topics I’ve been thinking the most about lately:

  • What makes some patterns of consciousness feel better than others? I.e. can we crisply reverse-engineer what makes certain areas of mind-space pleasant, and other areas unpleasant?
  • If we make a smarter-than-human Artificial Intelligence, how do we make sure it has a positive impact? I.e., how do we make sure future AIs want to help humanity instead of callously using our atoms for their own inscrutable purposes? (for a good overview on why this is hard and important, see Wait But Why on the topic and Nick Bostrom’s book Superintelligence)

I hope to have something concrete to offer on the first question Sometime Soon™. And while I don’t have any one-size-fits-all answer to the second question, I do think the two issues aren’t completely unrelated. The following outlines some possible ways that progress on the first question could help us with the second question.

An important caveat: much depends on whether pain and pleasure (collectively, ‘valence‘) are simple or complexproperties of conscious systems. If they’re on the complex end of the spectrum, many points on this list may not be terribly relevant for the foreseeable future. On the other hand, if they have a relatively small “kolmogorov complexity” (e.g., if a ‘hashing function’ to derive valence could fit on a t-shirt), crisp knowledge of valence may be possible sooner rather than later, and could have some immediate relevance to current Friendly Artificial Intelligence (FAI) research directions.

Additional caveats: it’s important to note that none of these ideas are grand, sweeping panaceas, or are intended to address deep metaphysical questions, or aim to reinvent the wheel- instead, they’re intended to help resolve empirical ambiguities and modestly enlarge the current FAI toolbox.


1. Valence research could simplify the Value Problem and the Value Loading Problem.* If pleasure/happiness is an important core part of what humanity values, or should value, having the exact information-theoretic definition of it on-hand could directly and drastically simplify the problems of what to maximize, and how to load this value into an AGI**.

*The “Value Problem” is what sort of values we should instill into an AGI- what the AGI should try to maximize. The “Value Loading Problem” is how to instill these values into the AGI.

**An AGI is an Artificial General Intelligence. AI researchers use this term to distinguish something generally intelligent and good at solving arbitrary problems (like a human) from something that’s narrowly intelligent (like a program that only plays Chess).

This ‘Value Problem’ is important to get right, because there are a lot of potential failure modes which involve superintelligent AGIs doing exactly what we say, but not what we want (e.g., think of what happened to King Midas). As Max Tegmark puts it in Friendly Artificial Intelligence: the Physics Challenge,

What is the ultimate ethical imperative, i.e., how should we strive to rearrange the particles of our Universe and shape its future? If we fail to answer [this] question rigorously, this future is unlikely to contain humans.

2. Valence research could form the basis for a well-defined ‘sanity check’ on AGI behavior. Even if pleasure isn’t a core terminal value for humans, it could still be used as a useful indirect heuristic for detecting value destruction. I.e., if we’re considering having an AGI carry out some intervention, we could ask it what the expected effect is on whatever pattern precisely corresponds to pleasure/happiness. If there’s be a lot less of that pattern, the intervention is probably a bad idea.

3. Valence research could help us be humane to AGIs and WBEs*. There’s going to be a lot of experimentation involving intelligent systems, and although many of these systems won’t be “sentient” in the way humans are, some system types will approach or even surpass human capacity for suffering. Unfortunately, many of these early systems won’t work well— i.e., they’ll be insane. It would be great if we had a good way to detect profound suffering in such cases and halt the system.

*A WBE is a Whole-Brain Emulation, which is a hypothetical process which involves scanning a brain at a very high resolution, then emulating it in software on a very fast computer. If we do it right, the brain-running-as-software should behave identically with the original brain-running-as-neurons.

4. Valence research could help us prevent Mind Crimes. Nick Bostrom suggests in Superintelligence that AGIs might simulate virtual humans to reverse-engineer human preferences, but that these virtual humans might be sufficiently high-fidelity that they themselves could meaningfully suffer. We can tell AGIs not to do this- but knowing the exact information-theoretic pattern of suffering would make it easier to specify what not to do.

5. Valence research could enable radical forms of cognitive enhancement. Nick Bostrom has argued that there are hard limits on traditional pharmaceutical cognitive enhancement, since if the presence of some simple chemical would help us think better, our brains would probably already be producing it. On the other hand, there seem to be fewer a priori limits on motivational or emotional enhancement. And sure enough, the most effective “cognitive enhancers” such as adderall, modafinil, and so on seem to work by making cognitive tasks seem less unpleasant or more interesting. If we had a crisp theory of valence, this might enable particularly powerful versions of these sorts of drugs.

6. Valence research could help align an AGI’s nominal utility function with visceral happiness. There seems to be a lot of confusion with regard to happiness and utility functions. In short: they are different things! Utility functions are goal abstractions, generally realized either explicitly through high-level state variables or implicitly through dynamic principles. Happiness, on the other hand, seems like an emergent, systemic property of conscious states, and like other qualia but unlike utility functions, it’s probably highly dependent upon low-level architectural and implementational details and dynamics. In practice, most people most of the time can be said to have rough utility functions which are often consistent with increasing happiness, but this is an awfully leaky abstraction.

My point is that constructing an AGI whose utility function is to make paperclips, and constructing a sentient AGI who is viscerally happy when it makes paperclips, are very different tasks. Moreover, I think there could be value in being able to align these two factors— to make an AGI which is viscerally happy to the exact extent that it’s maximizing its nominal utility function.

(Why would we want to do this in the first place? There is the obvious semi-facetious-but-not-completely-trivial answer— that if an AGI turns me into paperclips, I at least want it to be happy while doing so—but I think there’s real potential for safety research here also.)

7. Valence research could help us construct makeshift utility functions for WBEs and Neuromorphic* AGIs.How do we make WBEs or Neuromorphic AGIs do what we want? One approach would be to piggyback off of what they already partially and imperfectly optimize for already, and build a makeshift utility function out of pleasure. Trying to shoehorn a utility function onto any evolved, emergent system is going to involve terrible imperfections, uncertainties, and dangers, but if research trends make neuromorphic AGI likely to occur before other options, it may be a case of “something is probably better than nothing.”

One particular application: constructing a “cryptographic reward token” control scheme for WBEs/neuromorphic AGIs. Carl Shulman has suggested we could incentivize an AGI to do what we want by giving it a steady trickle of cryptographic reward tokens that fulfill its utility function- it knows if it misbehaves (e.g., if it kills all humans), it’ll stop getting these tokens. But if we want to construct reward tokens for types of AGIs that don’t intrinsically have crisp utility functions (such as WBEs or neuromorphic AGIs), we’ll have to understand, on a deep mathematical level, what they do optimize for, which will at least partially involve pleasure.

*A “neuromorphic” AGI is an AGI approach that uses the human brain as a general template for how to build an intelligent system, but isn’t a true copy of any actual brain (i.e., a Whole-Brain Emulation). Nick Bostrom thinks this is the most dangerous of all AGI approaches, since you get the unpredictability of a fantastically convoluted, very-hard-to-understand-or-predict system, without the shared culture, values, and understanding you’d get from a software emulation of an actual brain.

8. Valence research could help us better understand, and perhaps prevent, AGI wireheading. How can AGI researchers prevent their AGIs from wireheading (direct manipulation of their utility functions)? I don’t have a clear answer, and it seems like a complex problem which will require complex, architecture-dependent solutions, but understanding the universe’s algorithm for pleasure might help clarify what kind of problem it is, and how evolution has addressed it in humans.

9. Valence research could help reduce general metaphysical confusion. We’re going to be facing some very weird questions about philosophy of mind and metaphysics when building AGIs, and everybody seems to have their own pet assumptions on how things work. The better we can clear up the fog which surrounds some of these topics, the lower our coordinational friction will be when we have to directly address them.

Successfully reverse-engineering a subset of qualia (valence- perhaps the easiest type to reverse-engineer?) would be a great step in this direction.

10. Valence research could change the social and political landscape AGI research occurs in. This could take many forms: at best, a breakthrough could lead to a happier society where many previously nihilistic individuals suddenly have “skin in the game” with respect to existential risk. At worst, it could be a profound information hazard, and irresponsible disclosure or misuse of such research could lead to mass wireheading, mass emotional manipulation, and totalitarianism. Either way, it would be an important topic to keep abreast of.

These are not all independent issues, and not all are of equal importance. But, taken together, they do seem to imply that reverse-engineering valence will be decently relevant to FAI research, particularly with regard to the Value Problem, reducing metaphysical confusion, and perhaps making the hardest safety cases (e.g., neuromorphic AGIs) a little bit more tractable.

A key implication is that valence/qualia research can (for the most part) be considered safety research without being capabilities research– solving consciousness would make it easier to make an AGI that treats humanity (and all conscious entities) better, without making it easier to create the AGI in the first place (and this is a good thing).

-Edward Michael Johnson, Berkeley

Okay. That mouthful fucked the horny goddess of Runaway Signaling so hard, that it gave her genito-pelvic pain/penetration disorder (GPPD).

Luckily, given this display of hyper-moral engagement, we don’t have to worry that the author is actually a sex offender.

In Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker, he starts with an anecdote in which a student asks “Why should I live?” upon hearing Pinker’s spiel that mental activity occurs in the tissues of the brain. Pinker responded by noting and complimenting the student’s commitment to reason. And then gifted her with an improvised Humanism 101 introductory paragraph. Inspired by his own response, Pinker decided to package these Enlightenment values into a book vector by virtue of his profit-seeking motives desire for the flourishing of sentient beings.

However, I believe that we need a world were public intellectual Ph.D’s sound a lot more like Edward Johnson, and less like Pinker. If we are going to replace the religious soul, might as well go all in. Eschatology needs to be epic. It needs to involve the inherent desire for ecstatic final self-destruction of man, namely, the desire for Heaven/Brahman/Nibbana. Now this desire can be translated in rationalist, transhumanist foresight as the creation of the perfect mind-configuration, and the proceeding tiling of the universe with this maximally positive-valence hedonium.

For the self-described “atom machine with a limited scope of intelligence, sprung from selfish genes, inhabiting spacetime,” asking Pinker for guidance through email, it won’t be enough to be reminded that he can flick the tap on the sink and “water runs!” Pinker is smart, and he should know this. There are a great many number of narratives we can construe, and yet none satisfies all. Carl Sagan will love being interwoven into the mechanics of the blind universe, as “its way of experiencing itself.”  People with high hedonic set-points and amiability will already be socially-integrated liberals who are happy that water runs and believe themselves to be part of a good human-centric world to which they contribute. Typical Normie will not give a shit as long as there are dank memes and political outrage.

Naively, Pinker tries to reach the angsty-type with appeals to social-centric concerns. This fails because it is like trying to feed carrots to a wolf. The angsty-type will find a way to cling to a self-defeating narrative. My mom leans more towards the anxious type, so she always worried about the agony of purgatory, and never mentioned the promise of Heaven, although this brighter-side is just as accessible within the framework of her Catholic religion. The embroidery in the tokens of language is not as important as the inherent neural predispositions.

Religions adapted to neurodiversity. Buddhism, centrally concerned with the cessation of suffering by extinguishing the flame of existence, also provided a system for laymen who might not be allured by this goal/non-goal of Nibbana. If a significant part of the population is not cognitively disposed to be perfectionist or is depressed/suffering, it’s going to be a hard sell. But if you provide a layman’s path with a karma system by which you can accumulate points and be reborn into a more pleasurable realm, now you can get average humans to cooperate in the project by providing alms for monks, being good citizens, etc.

Pinker’s Humanism is brittle. It provides no room for the Aspies and the types who crave meta-narratives. If we are going to choose a new religion for the Western world, I wager we pick Edward Johnson’s. Rationalist/transhumanist/effective altruist and the rest of that ideological neighborhood do better than mere liberal humanism. In this burgeoning movement, there are cryonics for those who crave resurrection but are smart enough to know better than trusting dead Palestinian carpenters; there are galaxy-is-at-stake hero quests that involve math and computer science, there are donations to charities that help the poor in Africa, there are academics at universities and anti-establishment objectors. You can be as down-to-earth as you want or as cosmically significant, based on the particular drive thresholds in your mesolimbic system.

Oh, but wait, how could I have missed this? The only problem will be that people who take Humanism seriously, and bother to even watch a Youtube video of a public intellectual saying science-y, reason-y things, is already a ghetto in the bell-curve. The slice who might stumble and gravitate around Transhumanism is even slighter. No one is listening! No one is listening Pinker! We are alone.

How did I even have the energy to read the first page of your book? The net is vast and infinite.