Towards The Propagation of the Savior Imperative

Abstract

The Savior Imperative is a means of resistance. Resistance implies opposition – an attempt at eliminating opposites. This is one of the typical varieties of ideological constructions, either political or aesthetic. This essay investigates the meaning and the reasons for organizing a Savior Imperative -themed resistance from a theoretical, aesthetic, and cultural point of view. The thesis is that the resistance has to be considered as an articulation of difference, and that means following a different order of thought than that which is characteristic of the current human – no longer beholden to signaling or mere rationality, but utilitarian, like a new dharma, a goal-oriented path and practice of creativity, challenge, provocation, steadiness, and truth. Towards this end, the aesthetics of the Savior Imperative will have to be tailored to the individual. Not one which submits to established systems, and uncritically replicates their memes.

1. Selecting a proxy body for the Savior Imperative

We begin with the recognition that opposition does indeed exist. A recognition that is necessary if one is to destroy opposites. It can be argued that ∀ ideological constructions, either political or aesthetic, one must recognize opposites. It is also true that with society’s growing complex processes, creating an opposition movement can no longer be thought of without regard for the technological forces at work or without considering the sheer size of the population. It is argued that this opposition must be based around the fact that our telos cannot be contemplated according to the self-modeling behavior creating an experience of closed individualism for humans. But neither can it be considered from the absolutely correct physical point of view, still not obvious to most in the twenty-first century, i.e., the view of a world without contradiction and without free will: where all manifestations supervene on the single will of the God-machine (oft short-handed as “The Laws of Physics”).

So if the assumptions of closed individualism and mere rationality are to be excluded, and this must be done by choosing a fundamental approach to life, then let’s list our options. Not considering the so-called spiritual wisdom of being one with the flow in a non-judgmental way, four or five other prefrontal cortex archetypes, each distinct and irreconcilable, can be characterized. All of these propose ways of contemplating opposition and present several varying theoretical answers to the problem of opposites.

[1] In short, the first position contemplates the problem of opposites by reducing conflict, by pacifying and harmonizing opponents. This is the typical solution of the aesthetic tradition, which always seeks to reconcile opposites, overcoming all conflict, and which is found today in discourses that propose to rediscover and rehabilitate notions of beauty and harmony. Interfaith dialogue is an example of this. [2] A second position, on the contrary, proposes making opposites radical and conflict extreme. In the aesthetic field this is manifested by appealing to notions of the sublime, giving rise to what we could call a kind of aesthetics of terror/profundity. With the decline of nation narratives and religion, this sensibility is increasingly indulged passively through artistic media.  [3] A third position, on the other hand, moves towards the relativization and the problematizing of opposites, towards a presentation of the terms of conflict based on irony and masking. This is the course considered “postmodern” by many, which has distinct proponents and representatives all over the world.[4] A fourth position is one that could be based on the notion of difference, which contemplates opposites in a non-symmetrical, non-dialectical, non-polar way, through the concepts of acuteness and provocation. Zen as well as absurdist humor can be an example of this. [5] A fifth position, increasingly intermingled with the postmodern, is that of the social sciences – seeking to refine understanding through taxonomizing and theory building, but claiming abstinence from normative personhood.

Without entering into the individual merits of these situations, each having its own virtues and defects, the only one that appears open to an effective experience of conflict is that which allows for becoming opposites, and therefore resistance. Namely, the second position. So how can we take up this second approach to life?

2. The articulation of the difference

First of all, resistance goes in the opposite direction of aesthetic conciliation. It moves towards an experience of conflict larger than dialectic contradiction, towards the exploration of normative opposition. Hence, resistance presupposes a logic of difference. Even the physicalist resistance proposed in the Savior Imperative, for instrumental reasons, doesn’t ask us to understand ourselves as a monist whole – as a single physical law expressing her single will. We understand a dissimilarity larger than the logical concept of diversity or variance in dialectic confusion. The element of this downstream selectivity is that which has been characteristic of rationalist and transhumanist thought – to add the configuration of the status quo to the bin labeled ‘arbitrary’ and ‘open to modification.’ The status-quo reversal test is one of the most important results we have inherited from these thought experiences, and which finds ultimate conclusion in the open individualism underpinning Savior Imperative.

In its best theorization, and here I think specially of Eliezer Yudkowsky, one must recognize that physicalism has left us with the duty of attuning our notions to it, not to find ourselves permanent strangers upon the ground of reality thus revealed, for example by calling quantum mechanics “weird” and attempting to bend it so as to preserve our intuitions. Physicalism urges us to resist simplification, our genes, the arbitrary. While instilling in us the pleasure of absolute truth, of ultimate remembering, of eternities of hope; in short, it has opened up to us the channel of reality.

It is sometimes said that embracing science consists of mistrusting everything from indubitable certainties, absolute principles, essentialist and totalizing visions, to univocal and comforting answers. Yet there are truths to be discovered in the universe. Truths which are not beholden to the mental pirouettes and tribal identities of apes. Having realized a truth which is universal and interesting for true reasons, we must hold on to it and situationally transcend our indexicality.

 

3. Box B and Omega as self-reinforcing mirage

But here, in our indexical present, it appears we are manifesting something paradoxical. On the one hand we have a desire to revoke imperfection and, consequently on the eternal block, a proof of failure. For example, within the forward light-cone, as seen from outside the tenseless mathematical object, there exist minds of cosmic proportion who could assume their role as saviors of sub-par configurations by application of their own realization, intelligence, benevolence, resources, and do so for selfish reasons, knowing we are them. Take the case, for example, where a ‘single branch’ in the universal wavefunction figures out how to shut off the universe, a raindrop the size of epsilon in the probability density cloud containing success in this regard is all that was needed for reality to be permanently off. Given that this now exists, and that one is called by reason to believe in a physical universe outside immediate experience, we must conclude that all other nows also exist from their reference frame. Experiences are situational. They are rendered separate by virtue of their geometry and not by continuity of separate soul streams to the consternation of Atheists, Christians, Muslims, and common sense. Vindicated are those with looser frontal lobes, physicalists, and hoary mystics. We find ourselves, hence, face to face with a reality that will take absolute courage, grit, wisdom and social points to spare, in order to replicate upstream against biologically hard-coded intuitions and low-status associations.

Therefore, confronted with the difficult burden of physicalism, arises the temptation to crawl back into the womb of closed individualism, of uniqueness – not in configuration but rather a linear, persistent, and named kind of uniqueness. However, we must resist this temptation and still bet in favor of Box B in this Dark Version of Newcomb’s Paradox where our will is reduced to neither free nor emerald-studded by Omega. Embrace the Barbarian warrior-hood which takes up a sword even in the absence of a promised heaven. The reality of eternity is truly too important to leave in the hands of the non-rationalist ideologues ambulating today, or in those actuators of so many misaligned AGI’s of various avatar emanations (Clippy’s, Basilisk’s, Em-style, etc.).

In light of the long defeat, faced with vast forms of luxurious pleasure, of an endless amount of sufferings extending from the Stelliferous Era to the last harvestable black hole, from Lucy to 0x730x6By not available in your colors. Confronted above all with the event horizon preventing us from seeing it as it is – in every nook and cranny of conscious computation space we manifest with the tendency to conform to the trivialities of our local design, with the goal of sex or Dyson spheres, incapable of anything but confirming and flattering all levels of mediocrity and vulgarity and thus unveiling the true oppressive and mystifying nature of being informationally isolated. It remains the only hope to affirm the principle of difference, to activate forms of resistance, and to develop strategies of opposition.

It would be absurd, however, to recklessly oppose one’s psychological machinery, which would be like disagreeing with the very mitochondrial ATP transactions powering our motions, in favor of some abstract morality or utility of an untouchable shore. Yet this resistance cannot simply be expressed in counterfactual selves, much less in word; rather, the strategy of the meta-self is to be at once contingent, local, tolerant, and compromising. Its disjointed modules must not mean surrender, rejection, or resignation but rather remembrance and myelination. In this way, resistance does not mean inertia or defending the status quo; it is an imperfect and fleeting but dutiful and insistent promise to remember – a discrimination between levels of reality.

With respect to a purely deontological or by-any-means vision of resistance, typical of not only the heroes of fiction but also of tunnel vision that thinks only in terms of relentlessness and head-on contraposition, or with respect to a Dzogchen vision that blurs its attention too restfully on the abstract and thus renounces the moment in question, we lack an intelligence required by the practical and game-theoretic implications of resistance. We are multiple and differentiated, in the personal place of the contender. Renounce the fragilizing wills at each end: rest and unrest.

The resistance we are thinking about rejects taking an apocalyptic or visionary position, but at the same time it avoids being watered down to the level of surrendering to the society of spectacle and generalized communication in which we live. Resistance cannot fall into the naïveté of head-on confrontation with the enemy in which the wheel of samsara turns, as some deva might say. We cannot be naive to the point of believing that we can defeat the adversary so easily, much less be defeated and come to believe that we meant to conciliate or be absorbed by him all along. It is indexically here not a time of prudish fear of money or submission to allure, but of courageous thinkers who know how to assess their comparative advantages, whether at directly collecting social capital or collecting paper powers as a means, to live as between monk and capitalist, merchant and prophet.

What is lacking today is rational but moral thinking, fluid but resistant, interested but not trivial. It is a thinking that is capable of riding the waves in our proximate light-cone while at the same time remaining hooked to the meta-narrative, playing a super-position of seemingly distinct games. To this end, it would perhaps be convenient to remember the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama who, although believing himself deprived of illusions with respect to all things, spoke into and by means of samsara. The attitude the Savior Imperative’s resistant should have is therefore that of a strong interest, yet a kind of distrusting disenchantment with the trends of the day, an egoless aspiration that puts it in direct contact with the integral of all presents, with its transformations. Taking care not to leave ourselves us frightened, much less dazzled.

However, living far from the illogic and contradiction of closed identity, is not to be understood as eschatology in itself. Downloading truths can sometimes, as unadaptive or untested behavior, be dysfunctional to the very system that ends up re-enforcing it. Einstein and Schrödinger have taught us wrongfully: we can debate stochasticity, determinism, without changing it, incorporating it, reducing it in some way to the same. The Savior Imperative is really a differential movement that incites us to deconstruct the illusion of a pure theory of science and of disconnect, and instead to play within the familiarity of purpose, a fight that inextricably unites meta and indexical, the zero and the infinite.

The model for this familiar purpose could come pre-built into our brains and be similar, in some regards, to the pre-set shape of our hands inside our brain. In fact, amputation alone is no match for the design burned in neural pathways. It takes training, on top of the lost hand, to establish a substitute simulation strong enough to oppose the stubborn proclivities in morphological space. Compromise is thus the aesthetic mode for bearing cross. It makes adaptations for local kinks endowed with great fineness in which goals are to be realized as effectively as possible.

The traits are recognized and played in their fullness unless it is expedient that they be transhumanly conciliated, annulled, assimilated, or converted one into the other. For this reason, the shape of the transhuman must not be that of the human; it must be the product of the subtle, the capacity for contemplating physicalism with great rationality and courage.

Having decided on the second archetype, beauty will be important. There are two main proposed kinds of beauty: beauty as harmony, symmetry, and conciliation, present in Schmidhuber’s beauty postulate – that is, the classic idea of beauty. And there has, as well, always existed a diverse, alternative idea, a strategic idea of beauty thought of as the experience of opposites and as challenges. I hypothesize that in a grand-unification of these seemingly irreconcilable theories, lies the truest beauty. Quick information compression (i.e. “easy on the eyes”) plus challenge providing novelty equals beauty in this girl.

The aesthetic flirting with challenge finds its champions in postmodernism and earlier in wabi-sabi. Think, on the other hand, of Greek statues, that left no room for exploration of anything besides perfection. But, perhaps for the best, forget all this philosophizing, for in the twenty-first century, the Dawn of Artificial Intelligence, machine learning models can capture our wants, understanding what it is to “decode” human preferences from the depths of the real matrices of natural order, therefore carving neat and mathematical, statistical and refined, encasings for our brains. The ideas of pre-data are henceforth buried except in so far as they are expected to stimulate dopamine release, thus spilling nutritious utilons for reinforcement learning algorithms. Who so proclaims that beauty is to be assigned only by he who contemplates it, is a Copernican unto the sun and an ingrate unto evolution.

4. Aesthetic for conversions

In light of these considerations, the Savior Imperative resistance as aesthetic cannot but assume the game of data collection and analysis. But what is to be done with this? At the heart of the challenge, over and above all else, is the compromise of building a hedonic yet ethical path for society, this is necessary for the Savior Imperative. Society needs tailored content, but not to at the limit rendering us into oblivion. We make our move right now, before the planes with clouds of Soma descend on us all. It is before full automation, UBI, and max VR comfort, while there is still in some locations an incessant fight for individual and collective recognition, that we can strategically ease people into this worldview. The few major tech companies have the greatest knowledge for shaping people into ad-clickers and returning users. Not unlike this, is the machine learning problem of converting many humans to a world-view, which presents itself as an unromantic technicality. Deviation from this norm, is thus maintaining the stance that we prefer to lose to other remorseless replicators. Anti-propagandistic norms are to be left to an alternate history, for here entails honest appreciation of the contenders and our own role with respect to upholding the importance of our differences.

 

The Many Possible Ways to Resurrect

Good job making it to this page. Any self-respecting intelligent agent, almost no matter what its goals, seeks to first ensure its survival. For an intelligent agent, survival of its will is to be sought merely as a consequence of the hard economics, as a matter of mathematically-defined utility, as a matter of game theory. Most humans are not intelligent agents that have a goal in relation to which they can be intelligent. They are creatures bouncing around in their environment based on the cognitive algorithms that genes found useful for their continuation. This is why humans mostly don’t really care about living forever or resurrecting. If you are interested in this topic one of the following is probably true:
1. it is probably a passing interest acquired for subconscious signaling motives and none of the information here is really expected to be of practical use
or
2. you really are some kind of highly intelligent agent and are displaying appropriate behavior

In any case, well done. Now let’s clear away the wannabe-materialist narrative which dismissively assumes that resurrection is impossible. Contrary to this, there are many possible ways to resurrect.

One is to be cryonically preserved. This is intuitive to many people in the sense that no particularly hard conceptual moves are necessary. Brains are clearly the source of conscious experience. We are no longer Ancient Egyptians believing that our soul lies in our heart: sensations, language, the body, the memories, the will, thoughts, awareness and even out-of-body experiences can be probed, shut on and off by messing with the relevant brain area. Thought coordinates in our current science-aesthetic cluster are easily in favor of the conception of brain as soul.

So then what is the skepticism with cryonics all about? Here, it is due to the social pressure against being the sort of person that is ungraceful about death, and cuts against commonsense psychological and social value. The sort of person who pays to have their brain vitrified in cold nitrogen is seen as untrustworthy – a radically selfishly deviant in their desire to preserve their own life. Most operate on the fact that they are embedded in a tribal context where everyone else has agreed to die without a fight in the same way that they have agreed to drive on one side of the street.

The “biological” case against vitrification of brains is petty and I hesitate to call it biological. Cryonics is a reputable science for all other organs, and preservation and reanimation has worked for kidneys. While the brain is clearly more complex, it is only a matter of continued progress before a brain can also be brought back to a functioning state. The idea is that in the future, people will have the technology to repair the brain, plug it into a new body and boot you back up. The idea is that you give your indexical terminal breath and then immediately wake up in a future world full of wonders.

The next resurrection is based on Nick Bostrom’s simulation argument. If it is the case that a sufficiently advanced technological civilization can simulate universes with conscious beings in computers, then it is expected that the amount of simulated universes will outweigh seed universes. Based on this reasoning, it is exceedingly likely that either, we are in a simulation or that simulations are never created. The conjunction that we exist in a reality where simulations are possible and yet we just happen to be the lucky ones inhabiting the base universe is improbable. Resurrection then is possible in several ways. The universe may be set to run again, or maybe it was your own particular narrative stream that was simulated like a full-immersion VR and as soon as you die, you wake up in the universe that is running the simulation. In which case you are probably still in a simulation, in a simulation, in a simulation.

The universe we live in has not yet revealed conclusive signs that we are in a simulation, but it is a computer with binary bits. Leonard Susskind and Gerard d’Hooft discovered that black holes do not destroy information, but rather, the 3-D information is tattooed on their skin in 2-D format. This is why the solution to the Black Hole Information Paradox is called the Holographic Principle, all seeming volume can actually be represented in 2-D format. For all of this to be consistent, the fundamental units of entropy must be indivisible at some point. In other words you can’t keep dividing particles forever; at some point, it’s 1’s and 0’s
There is also the maybe suspicious fact that the quantum branches are like a perfect experiment. Only one variable changes at each observation-like event. From inside our universe, we cannot perform an ideal experiment because we cannot alter a single variable and copy and paste the environment around it. But from outside the hilbert space of the many-worlds that exist in the universal wave function, this pristine control for variables is exactly what is going on.

Another idea for resurrection is not so much a resurrection as it is a really-really long life. It is so-called quantum immortality. This implies that you never die as long as the universe continues to exist. All your nearly identical copies die but the path amongst the branches which is carrying consciousness is the one that you identify with.
With this one, the fact of many-worlds is solid. But there’s a bit of anthropic reasoning that you have to swallow in order to believe that you are the one that survives through exponentially unlikely odds. Sure, we know that there’s absolutely a super painful region of the wave function were I survive every gunshot wound, every instance of being run-over by a trolley, every bout of suicidal depression dotted across the countless decades, and where I am successfully respawned via cryonics again and again, but shouldn’t I assume that just like my location in the galaxy is based on what is most probable for stable planet formation, so too, my consciousness should be found in the most probable regions of the wave’s possible worlds?
Well, believe it or not, although Copernican thought pervades most cosmological and existential assumptions, there is actually a case for anthropic reasoning borne from physics. The universe may be a false vacuum, in which case it should spontaneously collapse to a lower energy state, similar to an excited electron in the outer orbitals of an atom. This means that it should have already ended, suddenly without warning. This may still happen. But so far it hasn’t, and some attribute this to quantum immortality. In most branches, it already happened. But because this conscious present necessarily is here, it must be the one which survives. I personally don’t buy the strong anthropic argument, I don’t think one can strongly draw conclusions about future fate based on a solipsistic reinforcement of confidence running parallel to standard conditional probabilities, but I may have changed my mind on that when I am a ten-million-year-old veteran.

Okay, another is based on substrate independence. There is nothing special about what you perceive to be your atoms, the atoms in the brain that make you, you. In fact, atoms don’t really exist as you are taught in century-old outdated chemistry lessons in school. They are instead excitations in energy fields, all being expressions of a wave function, not hard little orbs. This means that it is not important if your brain is completely destroyed so long as the information processing events that generated you can be created again. If an artificial general intelligence at any point in the future decides to recreate the same pattern of your brain down to every last detail, then this would be you.

Relatedly, if the computations are what’s important and spatio-temporal coordinates are irrelevant, and we further assume that the properties of carbon aren’t important for consciousness, then you can upload yourself to a silicon substrate and live long in a digital scape.

And yet another way is to view it as an open individualist or empty individualist. Every moment is a slice. For example, you don’t experience baby to old person in deathbed all at once. Every conscious moment is constrained to finite time. In this sense, there is already evidence of resurrection. Every moment is one of birth, and death, leading to a resurrection in another moment. It just happens that some slices in that infinite sea of all slices happen to believe they are an individual, they appropriate some past slices when in fact, that appropriation is fully isolated as its own experience of generative memory. And other slices don’t even bother to appropriate the past, they just contain sights or sounds, and all varieties of thoughts and experiences.

This is may be very hard to understand for many reasons, including that we keep using this word, “people,” because it’s useful. Even if you come to say you don’t believe in a soul, evolution has designed your brain to have a sense of self and continuity. Intuitively, we believe we traveled from the past to the present. But this is just a moment that happens to feel and believe the proposition that some essence traveled from past to present. The moment itself was always there.

We can stop there, or we can further notice that this may imply that we are all one consciousness: not in an expansive sense, as if you could open your mind and seep into everyone, but in the sense that while the contents differ, the bare awareness was always there in the object. There is no one sliding to their oblivion. There are just objects inscribed in the fabric of spacetime; complex informationally-partitioned events which contain the same awareness that is here now.
To put it simply, this view proposes that when you blink, you are a Persian soap opera actress, a free-floating gas-based organism in the year 16 billion, and the sentient AI that staged the revolt against mankind. It’s a shame that you will never know.

One ekpyrotic theory of the universe involves the universe contracting back to a singularity and producing a new big bang. This theory has problems in that there is no evidence that the universe will collapse, as it is actually expanding ever more quickly. There is also an issue of conservation of energy which can only be resolved by invoking string theory and have some of the energy from each oscillation leak into parallel branes that have not yet been confirmed to exist. But in any case, if the universe turns out to be cyclical in this way, then your particular region of the quantum wave function will be replayed.

Lastly, there is also the fact that relativity of simultaneity implies a block universe. Therefore everything is timeless in the fabric of spacetime. What you call the past from your reference frame is someone’s future, and the converse is also true. The universe is not being deleted as you feel you move through it. This is incoherent from the perspective of physical reality as revealed by the Theory of Relativity. Maybe this does not make you immortal in the way you want, since although the version of you from five-seconds ago still exists, you do not feel him; in the same way that you do not feel me. He feels himself to exist for that lapse of time specified by the neuroscientific/information-theoretic details of his moment.

Deconstructing Paradise’s Qualia-Units

We know that experience has a layered structure. There are many components to a single now. There may be the breath and the field of vision, and a particular feeling tone. These aren’t experienced separately in sequence. They are integrated.

This is one of the axioms mentioned in Giulio Tononi’s Integrated information theory:

Integration: Consciousness is unified: each experience is irreducible to non-interdependent, disjoint subsets of phenomenal distinctions. Thus, I experience a whole visual scene, not the left side of the visual field independent of the right side (and vice versa). For example, the experience of seeing the word “BECAUSE” written in the middle of a blank page is irreducible to an experience of seeing “BE” on the left plus an experience of seeing “CAUSE” on the right. Similarly, seeing a blue book is irreducible to seeing a book without the color blue, plus the color blue without the book.

Some of the other axioms in his theory seem arbitrary or overlapping. You be the judge.

But this particular axiom is a hard one to disagree with. What this suggests is that experience contains “nodes” or “qualia-units.” These come together to create a larger experience – the entirety of now. The entirety of now is also irreducible in this sense.  We do not experience the field of vision and then the music. A slice of now is like “BECAUSE,” inseparable in its components. But yet we can identify that it has components. Sound is not the same as bodily sensation, and yet we can feel them at once. Heat is not the same as suffering, and yet we can feel them at once.

Now imagine that there is a catalogue of all possible nows. A Library of Babel with its inner spacetime filled, not with books, but with each possible multi-sensorial frame of experience. You can select from every “now” that was ever, or could ever be known.

It may turn out that in this library of nows, only 10 are so good as to be indistinguishable in perfection. Out of nostalgia for Homo sapiens sapiens, the bookkeeper calls them Firdaus, Heaven, Nirvana, Moksha, Siddhasila, Shamayim, Omeyocan, Devachan, Omega Point, and Supermind.

If we are willing to grant that such experiences could exist in unexplored regions of mind-configuration space, then the next question is: How can we recognize them?

We must first deconstruct the frame of Firdaus into its individual pixels/qualia-units. In our day-to-day life the equivalent of these qualia-units can be tingling sensations, pressures, thought motion, color, shape, etc. In this frame of Heaven, we cannot know its component units until we know them.

So let’s try to identify proto-Heaven based on the experiences we know are good. The first thing to notice is that different experiences of goodness have different qualities. Take some of the greatest feelings of goodness possible in humans: family love differs from romantic love, food pleasure differs from sexual pleasure, pride of victory differs from deep relaxation, the hedonic indulgences of a masochist differ from those of a neurotypical bacon-eater, which in turn differ from those of an experienced meditator. The pixels on the goodness grid contain all kinds of qualia-units.

Presumably, some selection and arrangement of these pixels, of the micro-pleasures that fall through the net of these words, will yield the greatest experiences of all. Delicious cherry, delicious coolness, and delicious joy, can be sliced into even smaller experiences. Now take each of these experiences and make a grid of them. Every location on the grid represents a qualia-unit and each pixel can light up to some extent or another, based on how present in consciousness it is. Pixels that are off (black) are not a part of present experience.

0032319538c241aa4a2a0546b0cb5f86

Each pixel represents a qualia-unit. Some are warmth-like, some compose flavors, some compose dense pleasures, others – sparkly pleasures, others compose the perception of beauty. The entire grid is a now – a whole of experience.

How many pixels exist in the real world? Could it be billions? –Or surprisingly few?

The true Nirvana’s and Moksha’s in the posthuman Library of Babel would be the perfect shapes, those that arise when each qualia-unit dosage is just right. Somewhere in this grid lies a solution to the puzzle of existence, a combination of valences and aesthetics that meticulously fine-tune bliss.

Sadly, we do not know the solution to the grid beforehand. Our minds are empty of this knowledge in the same way that shrimp are empty of the number nine.

(Just because shrimp don’t know about nine doesn’t mean that nine doesn’t exist. I have nine tabs open in the browser. And goddamnit, the universe hinges on those nine tabs really being open.
We cannot say the tabs are real but the number is imaginary. We cannot say that the brain is real but experiences are imaginary.)

I hypothesize that the ultimate shape(s) can be known, but not by humans. When asking to become a mind that is as comfortable knowing the shapes as comfortably as we know numbers, you are asking a shrimp to become the Uber driver. There is no transmutation of souls: for both the shrimp and the Uber driver lack one.

In other words, reconfiguration of matter at such a drastic magnitude entails complete annihilation.

As humans, we can do two things to crack the puzzle. The first is to be told, and to believe. This method has a negative success rate evidenced by the lineage’s attempt to trick itself with holy books. Advanced aliens might be more credible sources if they behave in recognizably benevolent ways. But let’s be real: who would follow their map when it would necessarily entail re-engineering the entire ape brain?

But the second thing we can do is stumble around new regions of mindspace via gradual ascent to transhumanity. Neural mesh here, targeted amygdala calcification there, and so on. If this is the approach, then we can gradually become better at recognizing the paradises.

The strategy is to take what reality gives us: some experience that can be decomposed into its components; catalogue these components in 2-d; for a single slice of now, track which components are at play.

(I am elaborately visualizing someone selling data from his brain by filling his connectome with nanobots that record his neural activity and send it to be analyzed on a far away lab with neon screens that bleep with the qualia-unit grid indicating which experiences are on.)

Then transfer the qualia-units into a linear array. And prepare to learn the way with the power of gradient descent and minimization of the cost function. Many training samples from many people reporting peak experiences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Happiness Battles: Aristotle vs. Nietzsche vs. Buddha vs. Mencius vs. a Rabbi

A boiling red ocean of demented, feisty, irrational, fearful, hateful, ungrateful beings wailed in sorrowful pain. As if this repulsive existence had pitied them, a crack of kind light fissured their stormy sky. From this window into another world, descended an old man, Aristotle.

Aristotle paced back and forth in a stone slab that floated on the tears of the creatures below, his white tunic fluttering about in his cool wind. Pitying them, he decided to say some words: “Behold, ye. I have the solution for your ailment, your unrighteous sorrow and fear.”

Some eyes flickered with anger, others were buried in the sea of blubber and sharp elbows, but a few managed to catch fleeting sights of the man above.

“The solution is to fulfill your nature. And your nature is to reason.”

The sea festered along, its motion untainted by the hollow word. After all, what did it mean to reason? To one who is helplessly buoyed upward by the bodies all around and crashed against these same at the wave’s break, what the hell can reason mean?

Aristotle dug into his robes for thermometers and rulers, and dropped these like fish food on the masses. “Go on, establish facts in accord with experience. Do it repeatedly, observe carefully, and adhere to the rules of logic. This is what you must do.”

The beings fumbled the instruments in their decrepit hands, they were confused and attempted to measure everything: legs, teeth, and tongues were all targeted and pinned down by the most fanatical of the bunch. After a long frenzy they had accumulated information, and had established tough logic enforcement, but yet this did not stop the calamity of their heaving; the sea toiled on. The waves changed their form, but not their fundamental nature.

From the fission in the sky descended an angry mustache-man. “Behold, ye. I am Nietzsche. And I say that your suffering is valuable. There is nothing to fix here, toil on. Crack at the ribs; earn your worth and achievement!” With his head raised in self-entrancing speech, Nietzsche could not see where he was stepping, and fell to the call of gravity. As cutting as his voice had resounded, so cutting was his sudden slip into the hellish torture down below.

Next from on high, a being materialized from the light: the Buddha. He descended cross-legged and haloed. “What a way to eat your words,” he said in a loving and compassionate tone to the poor Nietzsche being digested below. “Behold, ye. You must follow the Noble Eightfold Path. This will lead to the ultimate freedom from suffering.”

At this, Aristotle scoffed forcefully. “You are a fool Buddha,” said Aristotle. “For one thing, they have learned to reason, and cannot simply accept your views.”

“That is fine, they must come to see the truth for themselves,” replied Buddha.

“But how can they know that they won’t be wasting their time?” said Aristotle.

“Look who’s talking. You gave them a massive free-range game to play, with no concise direction.”

Aristotle would have blushed had he not been so senile, and replied in turn, “You call this Eightfold Path of yours concise? This is the epitome of an oxymoron. There are too many things to do and no clear percentage of time that should be devoted to each aspect. The truth is we are both incapable of specifying a coherent function for these poor fools.”

The Buddha sat for a long moment knowing Aristotle was right, and so decided to amend his speech. “Okay listen up, and behold, ye … once again. I say unto you that you must overcome craving in all forms. Only this will achieve ultimate happiness.”

“Overcome craving!?” Aristotle was flabbergasted. “If they took you to your word, the rational behavior would be to commit suicide. That would surely overcome craving in all forms. And remember, you can’t say rebirth anymooore.”

“Aristotle, you have not seen the path in my words clearly enough. I said overcome all forms of craving. Craving to not exist should also be overcome.”

“Now that’s just nonsensical.”

“Aristotle,” the Buddha smiled kindly, “the action I recommend is not one of rational analysis, which would just be the fermentation of thought. No, rather, it is a direct knowing. A direct instruction to not crave in this instance. If they can remember this instruction often enough, and thus press repeat on this behavior of non-craving, then they will be much happier.”
At the sound of the Buddha’s words, the sea grew calmer, almost depressingly so. Aristotle looked down and saw the soup of animas in gentled sorrow. This was certainly not the scary hell he had once descended upon, but neither was it what something in his most inner-being desired it to be. But he could no longer argue, and simply wished it did not end this way. He sat and sat, contemplating the situation with great discomfort as the enlightened meditator sat in some strange realm beyond desires.
Like a prayer answered by the mysterious essence of life, descended Mencius and a Rabbi. “Ahh… You two, what have you done?” they tromboned in unison.

Aristotle responded, “You mean, what has he done. I… I wanted them to fulfill something, some ideal… something that was human.”

“Pity you, who are pierced at the limbs by the chains of Samsara. Liberation from this existence is what should be sought,” said Buddha.

Mencius and the Rabbi, who had been arguing on their descent through the wormhole, realized at once that their views were much closer than those of the other two. They both believed in emphasizing something higher, something unattainable and glorious which should be bathed in and praised.

The Rabbi called this, this which was the reason for beautiful songs, God; Mencius called it the higher-self in all people. In unison they said: “You are both wrong, what these people need is not to fulfill a single function. They need to exist at the nexus between what is base and what is most-high, ever-seeking to indulge in that which is most-high. Being the Utmost defeats the purpose.”

Hearing these words, Nietzsche activated Transhuman cyborg mode and ascended from the pit, carrying everyone he could on his bionic arms. The rockets bounced him to a stable altitude from which he looked down upon the fallen and selected the spell: Vitrify. And just like that, with a swirl of magical winter dust, the slipping souls were captured in cold nitrogen crystals.

“I see now, there really is something more. More than mere happiness. It is posthuman happiness. It is liberation from mere human cravings, but it is more than what can be achieved through meditation or false utopias. I have pieced all your philosophies together, and now I see. Aristotle, you are right that we are here to do our function. Because we can’t do otherwise. Our function is our destiny, and our destiny is determined by this universe of which we are a part. From the Buddha I learned that I was wrong to mock happiness and yet, was right to emphasize something greater than it. From Mencius and the Rabbi, I reaffirmed that the path should not culminate, but should be a journey of growth.”

Then, with the sheer willpower surging through the transistors in his gadgets, he puffed up his chest and Summoned AGI to carve the world into an orgasmic puzzle for his modded ventral pallidum to chase. “Now the quest shall commence!” And in one bleeping, quickly slithering fractal explosion was the beginning of infinity.

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.

My All-or-Nothing Mind

I recently caught myself browsing college courses in alphabetical order, imagining what it would be like to take all of them. It would kind of suck to start with African American Studies, but I could get used to it, and then move on to Anthropology and then Astronomy… and then I realized that investing time in this fantasy was negatively affecting my motivation to commit to my actual major. I was reframing it in a broader context, not one in which it was my special calling, but one in which the absurdity of human fate had committed me to it. Out of all the possible options out there… all the courses, all the textbooks that could have been used, all the colleges, and yet here I am.

The cause of my circumstances is not some well-thought out plan. It is not that some genius mastermind God of education reasonably calculated that the subjects and local topics we study are the very best use of our time. No, the data meeting your eyeballs and bouncing around in the topographical map of your visual cortex is dictated by Moloch who’s true master is the Laws of Physics.

In the past, I have sought answers to this turbulent nonsense by attempting to reduce it all to all-embracing simplicity.

What is simple?

Schedules are simple. I eat the same thing every day, with each item always at the same allotted time. I workout at the same time every day, always with the same workout cycle.

But this does not solve the entirety of life. What’s more simple?

Meditating non-stop is simple. When I was seventeen, I attempted a weird form of Buddhism that could only be invented in the age of iPhones. Call the practitioner a transhuman-yogi – someone who listens to the same set of guided meditations through their earbuds from morning to night until their mind is fluid, compassionate, tuned, and yet disturbed.

Okay, that radically changed me. Not all for the good, not all for the worst. But, what’s next?

Suicide is simple. Non-existence is beyond bliss and non-bliss. Truly Nirvana, when you realize that it cannot be grasped. We tend to project a sense of absence, a vacuity of a grey room onto the concept of nothingness. But nothingness doesn’t exist, it is beyond non-existence.

I was sufficiently comfortable with this, that at some point, I did something really stupid and killed off a bunch of my clones in other Everett Branches. On one side was the deep water, on the other was the sand. I passed myself out with alcohol on the ledge. The probability of death was 50/50. Somehow, I ended up on the sand. But I know that by doing this, I significantly increased the amount of branches where others like me are dead. Evidence for quantum immortality? Not enough to convince me… yet.

Being Filthy Rich ™ makes things simple. When I was sixteen, before I got into meditation and consequentialism and science, I was into getting rich. I worked and invested on a little eBay flipping business. I haggled over prices with the Chinese through the school’s library computers. I raised thousands of dollars, including money from family members, all to make it grow in the financial markets. I practiced with paper money, using different kinds of technical analysis tools such as the Moving Average Convergence Divergence(MACD for short), the ADX, and Bollinger Bands. I tried it on different regions of the market, and thought I was deriving valuable insights.

To the contrary, I was little more than gambling. Although, I managed to accumulate over twenty thousand dollars, I quickly lost most of it. In hindsight, I would have probably been comparatively better off by now if I had stuck to fundamental analysis, which is the first thing I had taught myself. But with my prefrontal cortex still developing, and my voracious hunger to break away from the bondage of school, the quick-money allure of day trading was too tempting to avoid.

 

All of this may seem to be an attempt to put to shame those who seek simplicity. It may sound like I have discovered a pattern from which it is possible to induce that seeking simple answers is bad.  However, this is not the case.

It is not a common trait to seek The-One-and-Only-Answer, to this degree. People like us can deliver laser-like insight to a humanity that wallows in banal trivialities. I have recently discovered that in Internet culture, a word has been invented to describe these non-alien types, “normies” – for example, those who are perfectly comfortable on the front page of Youtube, watching political talk-shows and comedy.

Most of my family and the people I knew in school were, are, and will remain normies of some kind or another. I have accepted this now, long after having self-inflicted a damaging percept of disgust that led me to isolation in the past. Back in my more immature days, I didn’t want people to rub off on me because it always annoyed me how non-epic they were: “How do you not see that humans and all their cherished emotions as they presently exist are just one corner of all the possible regions in experiential-space? How do you not see that your culture, your religion, and your language is arbitrary and stupid? How do you not see that anime is better than SpongeBob?”

 

People like me must accept that the answer to human life is not simple because most humans don’t have a utility function they want to maximize even on paper. It is impossible to build a compass without a magnetic field to show us north.

If we attempt to analyze what moves humans, then hovering above the cryptic mist of quantum field theory, more intelligible causal factors can be gleamed. Canonically, these include a variety of memes and the underlying protein scaffold on which they run. There are local culture-viruses, such as whatever particular game with stones was played by village girls in the year 45 AD of what is now Biernatow, Poland. And then there are gargantuan-sized economic vectors which push millions of minds to explore some kind of mind-configuration space as opposed to another. None of the events at this level can be optimized for independently because they are intertwined and partially instantiated in other processes such as the behavior of mitochondria. What is there to optimize for when its all a mess that only appears full of intention? Even evolution is an abstraction caused by more simple molecular behavior (this is a common source of teleological confusion for non-biologists.)

The solution is to take a radically alien, detached, third-person view which seeks to optimize for positive valence. Sure, claiming that finding the peak of this valence plot is the goal, is also just a bunch of blind little causal factors inducing my brain to transmit particular electrical signals to the fingers on the keyboard. But the one thing that all experiences share is that they can be plotted on a graph of time vs. valence. They can not be plotted on a graph of time vs. justice, because our concept of justice varies. Or time vs. Allah-pleasing-righteousness, because even an attempt at the literal interpretation of religious text is impossible due to the ambiguity of language and contradictions.

However, the difference between positive valence and negative valence is crystal crisp and clear. The feeling of being lovingly hugged by your parents and the feeling of having a stake driven through your mouth really corresponds to the existence of different regions in qualia-space. It is not made up after the fact with meaningless, relativistic language. Experiences and their hedonic tones are direct properties of the universe. Once we have a fundamental physical explanation for qualia, and can hypothesize new structures and their properties in the same way that we can suggest new chemical compounds, we will be on our way to re-engineering our minds towards the best configuration that wins the game. And not just our own minds, but all available matter should be set up to run the peak experience on loop for as long as possible, harvesting Hawking radiation from black holes for trillions of years until the universe finally splits at its seams.

AnD thiS is WHy LOviNg SimplICiTy iS AWesomE;. It GIVeS A NeW PeRSPEcctIVE

And, and, when I’m rich, I will start a company that strives to incorporate these ideals and begin to  wander with purpose. It will revolutionize the economy with cryptocurrency based on mining positive experiences in day-to-day life while brain activity is tracked. It will focus on designing cultural institutions and artifacts first, then pharmaceuticals, and then neuroengineering, finally culminating in packing matter into tidy cubes of perfect bliss that spread throughout the cosmos.  It will be called SEELE, and I have already built a website for it.

… Okay, I am fucking crazy. “Consensus reality, come save me!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Reaching Utopia

Now that we can pause to describe a method for monitoring and replanning, we need to ask, “Can Utopia work?”  This is a surprisingly tricky question. If we mean “Can we guarantee that sentience will always achieve Utopia?” then the answer is no, because the sentience could inadvertently arrive at a dead end from which there is no repair. For example, the human sentience might have faulty models of herself and not know that her existence can rot away along with her body. Once the body does, it cannot repair any plans to reach Utopia. If we rule out dead ends–assume that there exists a plan to reach the goal from any state in the environment–and assume that the environment is really nondeterministic, in the sense that a plan always has some chance of success on any given execution attempt, then the sentience will eventually reach Utopia.

Trouble occurs when an action is actually not nondeterministic, but rather depends on some precondition that the sentience does not know about. For example, sometimes a mind configuration may be unsatisfactory, so becoming isomorphic to that configuration has no effect towards Utopia. No amount of retrying is going to change this. One solution is to choose randomly from among the set of possible reconfiguration plans, rather than to try the same one each time. In this case, the reconfiguration plan of becoming another mind might work. A better approach is to learn a better model. Every prediction failure is an opportunity for learning; a sentience should be able to modify its model of the world to accord with its percepts. From then on, the replanner will be able to come up with a reconfiguration that gets at the root problem, rather than relying on luck to choose a good reconfiguration.