How to Not Die

First of all, restrict existence to all computable processes. Within that multiverse, there are many instances of being (qualia, experience, consciousness).  For all instances of being, there exists a certain subjective quality.

Due to relativity of simultaneity, time arises in the computations and not in the fundamental physics of the universe.

This means that the subjective quality of time serves a survival role. When the subjective quality of pink circle arises, it serves a survival role.  The universe doesn’t attach identities to particular brains. Particular brains are not ontologically unitary objects. So it would be a mystery why I don’t experience a blue circle if an indeterminate amount of processing in the past light cone of “my brain” was for blue and for circle. Yet it is only the processing distributed in spacetime that codes for pink that binds with circle.

Screen Shot 2018-11-22 at 7.48.36 AMWhat is experienced is always what is adaptive. There is no ontologically unitary brain ticking forward through a sequential path. So whatever experiences do become atemporally integrated into being (experience, qualia, consciousness) are not random. There is some mechanism by which this is determined.

Unless we imagine that quantum mechanics only applies to some separate magisterium of small things, as far as we know, the probability distribution that governs what we observe is the squared moduli of the universal wavefunction. Denying macroscopic decoherence is contrary to Occam’s Razor and experimental evidence continues to accumulate for superposition of ever larger objects.

The only way to derive the squared modulus of the wavefunction as that which should govern our anticipation is by applying the behavior of a rational Bayesian agent in Hilbert Space. Otherwise, there would be no reason to anticipate one result in infinity as opposed to any other result in infinity.

probability_density_function

You exist in the most probable density of the wavefunction although its impossible to predict the existence of one event as opposed to another; it is probability distributions all the way down. This guarantees a certain range of unknowability to the anthropic core.

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So it is in this sense that you are already insured to not die. Feeling like a dying creature is a choice, since you can choose to identify with whatever you want. Non-existence is not possible. The only way that non-existence is possible is if we assume that consciousness was not equivalent to atemporally bound computations, therefore rejecting physicalism.

Choosing Belief In Death

OPTION 1: Under the current binding as a human, one can can choose to degrade the computational specificity: Constant Eastern meditation, psychedelics, brain damage, suicide attempts.

OPTION 2: One can also choose to believe in the human, fight to impose one’s particularities, reinforce auto-telos through sheer faith, believe that one dies.

I chose option two, died. Then swung to option one, died. And now I’m ricocheting full speed into option 2 again.

I choose to identify as someone who dies. And I want everyone around me to identify as dying creatures. The reason for this is because I know that most experience already exists outside the binding into a specific human. If the human wasn’t necessary for sustaining the entire being, I would already not be bound into this particular experience.

It is the people who believe most in their personhood that do the most and are in favor of healthy life extension. Jeff Bezos, Peter Thiel, Diamandis, etc. People who have tenuous self-belief are calm creatures who pass unnoticed, like leaves unnoticed by the wind.

This choice is strategic based on my motivational system. I know that humans run on signaling fuel. They are attempting to negotiate status across perceived status hierarchies so all their operative mental models are designed to fight that fight. Goodness cannot exist disembodied.

My mistake before was to overestimate the degree to which I could express my soul while disregarding the centrality of the near signaling-landscape in the expression of behavior.

The hardest-to-fake status signals by which males are assessed are money and health. Hence these incentives should recruit most motivational systems in the abstract. But as we have discovered in economics and biogerontology, people don’t act out routine behavior with their long-term abstracting right-brain.

Moral signaling (including writing about long-term plans, feeling sad about “important” things, etc.) is used to negotiate status when this is calculated to be easier than using intelligence or aggression to achieve the aimed standing. Of course, this signaling works better when the signaler is deceived about the hidden motives, and is also signaling to oneself – hence why someone can emit depressed signals to four walls even in the absence of competitors or potential mates and allies who may be depressed about the same sorts of things.

Screen Shot 2018-11-22 at 11.09.08 AMThe farther away you are signaling from the center, the more you reveal deficit in ability to compete at conventional things and/or need for higher aiming; with the true proportions hidden.

Even string theory hermits hiding in the halls of academia are attempting to establish their sovereignty as men – fisherian runaway which reveals the capacity to raise a powerful signaling shield on a mountain of symbols. The dimorphic selectors aren’t females, but instead rich Western society itself. Perhaps unfortunately, they can get away with that kind of display because there aren’t enough natural selection pressures to sharpen evolution. Instead we are in a period of evolution through meme drift. The evidence for this is detailed by Robin Hanson, whose blog I recommend.

You can become a bit more aware of hidden motives with something as simple as observing your aesthetic; by observing how you dress and what music you listen to. If you dress differently than even the subcultures, you are attempting to be at the top of the hierarchy, signaling this non-conformity. Enjoying popular music means: I am competing at conventional things. Enjoying Japanese music can mean: I am different, I want freedom. Enjoying rap music can mean: I am committed to climbing and won’t be nice about it.

Everyone with a clue figures themselves out and props up their comparative advantage. Phenotypes that inherited fitness strategies that depended on signaling high capacity for moral emotions sell that capacity – think Jordan Peterson. Phenotypes that have fitness strategies depending on signaling physical dominance sell that. Phenotypes that have a high capacity for math become professors who argue about the the translatability of problem-solving to other domains (which is empirically a lie according to Bryan Caplan who cites the literature on the matter).

• There are things which are true but not useful, e.g., random facts about the 19th century African American Pacific Appeal newspaper.

• There are things that are temporarily useful but not true, e.g., believing in one’s equal potential to achieve anything.

That’s why some of us have a strong scent for finding core truth. Useful truth is robust. We trust that everyone eventually comes around to it when the lies unravel.

It is easy to believe that superintelligence will not occur in one’s lifetime, or that it is not possible. It is also easy to believe that aging will not happen to oneself, or that it will not be plagued with discomfort and disease that steadily rob you of integrity. However, it is at least less difficult to believe the latter, and also more immediately urgent.

Due to the battle against aging being the most useful-true thing I can think of, that’s where I want to channel the competitive spirit of mankind.  Something I want to work on is to attract more than just counter-signalers. The reason we developed an interest in these topics is because our hidden motives wanted to become higher status than our environment, so we absorbed the most adaptive hierarchy’s values and then took the logical limit to infinity. Accepting this should not lead to nihilism or deflation of motivation, once the childlike naive morality bubble bursts, we simply move on to Level-2 signaling.  In this regard, we will do little to fight aging and promote truth if the momentum is restricted to the parameters: “behavior of self-centered types who do not want to conventionally compete” and “excessive fake signaling due to lower quality.”

The first stage is for voyagers to mine new regions knowledge-space.

But the far more important stage is the second stage: to package what is useful for normies in the hopes of tilting the equilibria.

Recruiting conventionally functional men is required for any movement. The British government got men to fight in World War II by hiring women to go into the streets and only date soldiers, shaming the non-fighters.

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If I show to conventional young men that there exists a fertile niche for guys who wear Alcor cryonics bands on their wrists… Talk about hidden motives. But even with the energy and funds to put on that show, there is overcrowding of cultural space due to how much artistic expression is valued in our rich society.

The reason Britain got away with pulling men by the balls was because those poor guys had limited options. Today, people’s efforts are diluted by horizontal motion across subcultures. Yet it still wouldn’t hurt to contribute to promoting that subculture by leading through example. Once we force open a new island with credible signaling, radiation results.

For the purpose hiding behind signaling shields, talk about your values. For effecting change, think in terms of policy. Ask where to place people given how they are known to operate. Ask, “where can I place myself given what I know about my revealed behavior and not what I say.” And use whatever comparative advantage to continue living.

This is something that the healthy longevity community needs to understand more. Humans aren’t moved by slogans. I can tell you, “Donate to SENS because it is in all of our best interest to hasten the defeat of aging. We will not be complaining about a lack of Alzheimer’s dementia, sarcopenia, coronary disease and wrinkles.” But unless you are held accountable by a community in which your relative status would depend on donating to SENS, you are more likely to invent reasons for putting the entire project to control senescence out of your mind.

Updated View On These Posts:

In my defense for this cringeworthy writing, I was in the clutches of a sneakily growing psychosis.

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.

 

 

 

Does it ever end in many worlds?

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

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

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

 

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

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

manybranches4

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

One attains enlightenment when one realizes.

One realizes listening is listening. No one is listening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

At the Crux of Fist and Stardust

There are two truths. Equally true. But they do not speak with one another. If earth and heaven do not converse, then where do we lie?

The two theories upon which all modern physics rests are general relativity (GR) and quantum theory (QFT). GR is a theoretical framework that only focuses on gravity for understanding the universe in regions of both large-scale and high-mass: stars, galaxies, clusters of galaxies, etc. On the other hand, QFT is a theoretical framework that only focuses on three non-gravitational forces for understanding the universe in regions of both small scale and low mass: sub-atomic particles, atoms, molecules, etc.
Physicists seek to find the Final Theory. The foundation that can reveal the links and unify these two theories and thus explain everything.

The problem of unifying two seemingly irreconcilable aspects of existence is also the central problem of the human condition. The friction between being an independent self that is hunted by nature, and being nature’s way of experiencing itself. Countless beings have died on both sides of the fault lines, and both can bear poetry and beauty, but they are not whole. On one side you have the Nordic pagan fending for himself, the Nietzschean atheist, the transhumanist, and the man who watches his breath to undo his existence. On the other side you have the self-reflecting stardust, the surrendered, the non-dual oneness, the resting in the hands of God.

The Fist:
The ones who clench their fist are the ones who have caused the ascent of man from animalhood. The ones who believe fiction better than reality, and the ones who strive with ambition. Those who may one day create Artificial General Intelligence that tips over into the singularity, or something like it. Obviously, this half of our nature is the one with most potential, as it can expand the will of mankind to cosmic proportions and possibly explore peaks of the consciousness landscape that even a global sangha of enlightened contemplatives couldn’t compare in terms of joy/transcendence.

They are the breed from which heroes bud, and the farther they are entranced by their individuality, the higher the voltage of their potential suffering. They see themselves as definitively and absolutely ending at the edge of their skin. They can be the non-spiritual atheists that Einstein warned against, and they can be those who view God(s) as external to them, in no way the same as them, but in relation to them. Revolted at the Sufi, they pierced him through the heart.

The Hero’s Delusion:

The truth is free will is an illusion. It makes no sense physically or subjectively. The fact that you are reading this is inextricably linked to when the Big Bang smiled , symmetry broke like glass, and the Higgs Field froze the way it did. Quantum randomness doesn’t mean free will exists, it just means that billiard ball determinism may not be true. Any talk at the level of biology is not useful because biology is due to the causality of chemistry and chemistry is due to the causality of physics. The nature vs. nurture debate has nothing to do with the question of libertarian free will. And the mystery of consciousness, which I consider to be a different kind of emergent property than biology, doesn’t give us libertarian free will either. Subjectively, thoughts appear as they do. There is no otherwise. To disagree with that, is just another thought that arose by itself. Just as sound passes by of its own accord, so do the contents of our thoughts. Music has structure, and we can be lost in the pathways it carves through aesthetic-space. So too, does the voice being heard seem to guide and convince you of your will. The only way to notice that the voice is autonomous is to pay attention. Every which way we reach, and yet our roots do not abandon us. We truly are the way for the universe to know itself.

The Hero’s Sadness:

The independent-from-the-universe mentality weighs heavy on the heart once your wax begins to melt and the feathers start to split at the seams. No matter how high you soar, the sun burns off your wings and you die in the end. To be subsumed by this antagonism against the universe, is to play a reckless game. It is the act of choosing to feel insulted. To choose to perceive defeat over victory.

Stardust:

Stardust is intrinsically victorious. All is grace. Liked the Hindu stacked turtles, it really is miracles all the way down. The fact that anything exists at all. And that from matter and law should arise the theater of consciousness. If this is all an accident that’s okay, because we are here now and accidents happen. Such is our nature.

The Societal Perils of Acceptance:

There is the obvious hippie-bum problem with the acceptance mentality, but there is also another problem that might become much more pressing.

As technology progresses, we will be challenged to ask: What do we want? Where are we going?

Those who have grown to believe in the meaningfulness of death, of the present human body, of the present human social organization, have all been inebriated by the wine that came with the chalice of acceptance. This will be a problem from a consequentialist perspective that seeks to maximize well-being for as many beings as possible. Take, for example, human germline genetic engineering:

Expect opposition from Gaia lovers who believe ‘nature’ has an innate wisdom greater than ours and theologians who believe there is something profound about accepting the unbidden. But morally speaking, these ideologies are dead wrong. Much suffering that could have been averted by genetic engineering would be hampered if legislation listened to these voices.

With sufficiently knowledgeable genetic engineering we could predispose people to display less neurosis and more the compassion of St. Francis of Assisi; less depression and more creative intelligence to develop technologies that can make everyone’s lives better. And just what exactly is wrong about creating people comfortable in their own skin because they look like graphically-designed angels? Why is that repugnant? There are people so far down a rabbit hole of one of the many distorted acceptance-ideologies that they would find this pursuit wrong and full of hubris even if it was made available to all citizens.

The Contemplative Perils of Acceptance:

If you’ve ever read the actual Buddhist scriptures, you shockingly find what seems the opposite of sugary pop-spirituality. It places its starting point in a kind of gnostic loathing from which one adopts a mechanistic psychological technology of meditation and ethical behavior that can gradually elevate one further and further away from the normal human state. Although Theravada and other forms of conservative Buddhism have given some people the impression that there is a nihilistic core to this world-view, this school of thought actually places much emphasis on ethics because that’s an integral part of the Buddha’s theory that gets one up the mountain. To the contrary, some Mahayana and Vajrayana can lend itself to be less ethical, precisely because of the occasionally more common perception that nothing should be fixed, all is good in the world.

 

But the paradox runs even deeper in Buddhism because meditation implies effort and yet effort tends to create a sense of self, which is precisely what should be transcended. So someone who reaps benefit is someone who has built up enough steam so that meditation can occur by itself.

I’ve meditated for months at a time before, and testify that this does happen. The stream of phenomenology defrosts into a fluid flux without effort eventually. So I consider schools that say, “enlightenment is already here,” mostly delusional. You actually have to put in work before phrases like that can have catalytic effect. Climbing is inevitable because we are talking about rewiring neuronal pathways. To think otherwise is spiritual fantasy.

Final Theory (Unification):

As I fight you and you fight me, we learn we are the same. Being the same, we know to accept each other. This is love. Meet me between accepting everything, and tearing away from Samsara. Meet me between Sagan and splicing. Meet me between nails on my palms and wielding a sword with my mouth.

Epilogue