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Questions on the human path and transhumanism. 2014-08-12T20:34:10.746Z · score: -1 (6 votes)

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Comment by hopefullycreative on Neo-reactionaries, why are you neo-reactionary? · 2014-11-18T04:05:51.383Z · score: 14 (18 votes) · LW · GW

I have to admit that I greatly enjoyed this topic because it introduced me to new concepts. When I clicked on this discussion I hadn't a clue what Neo-Reactionaries were. I knew what a political reactionary is but I hadn't a clue about this particular movement.

The thing that I have found fascinating is the fundamental concept of the movement (and please correct me if I am wrong) is that they want a way out. That the current system is horribly flawed, eventually doomed and that they want to strike a new deal that would fix things once and for all. The recognition is that even if abolished governments will again form. As such they hope to devise a government that is no longer a sham, and structurally will have finally the best interest of the people at its heart instead of selfishness.

What fascinates me about this is some of the discussions about AGI here. Plenty of people apparently feel that eventually agi will rule over us. They essentially are interested in building "a better tyrant." I don't know, give me a thumbs down on this comment if you want but I found the parallel interesting. Of course many ideologies are more alike then people care to admit. For example communism is supposed to be economic and social power sharing and to ensure at the very least everyone's material needs are met. Capitalism and the corporate structure actually aim for the same thing.

Comment by hopefullycreative on "Follow your dreams" as a case study in incorrect thinking · 2014-08-26T16:29:56.723Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The problem is that you cannot be quite absolutely certain that someone will in fact fail. You can express any likelihood of them amounting to anything other than "normal" or "average" is frighteningly small, but that's not quite the same as an absolute fact that they will not succeed ever, nor does any of this mean that the effort to reach their goal on some level wouldn't make them happy even if they never succeed. The effort to reach that goal also can be also very socially and economically productive.

I think the better advice is "Dream of victory, but prepare for defeat." The idea is that if they are truly passionate about something they should push towards it but prepare themselves to fail again and again. That means that they shouldn't just abandon all family and stable work for said goals, but instead maintain those in preparation for the likely event that they fail in each attempt. This is important because no one goes through life without taking a blow so to speak. Everyone spends some of their time taking their own share of lumps and preparing for this instead of living in a fantasy world in which nothing can go wrong is important.

I suppose its a fundamental disagreement of basic philosophy here. You are arguing the Buddhist and Epicurean thought "Unhappiness is caused by unnecessary desire." Whereas my observation and platform is based upon the idea that "True depression is stillness born from a lack of worthwhile purpose and objectives in life." Its the recognition that for some people at least (such as myself) they need fantastic goals and overriding purpose in life to be happy, even if the chance of success is quite low.

Comment by hopefullycreative on "Follow your dreams" as a case study in incorrect thinking · 2014-08-26T04:52:05.286Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The problem is what is "correct thinking"? Is "correct" telling people to never try? Is "correct" sticking to safe, sure bets always? Is correct giving up on something because the challenge will be great and the odds long? What kind of world would we live in if everyone took that mentality? I would argue that ambition is powerful, it shapes this world and builds monumental things. Its irrational to expect people to be completely rational, that can only result in depression, stagnation and death. This all does remind me of a story with an important message.

Long ago in the Arizona desert, there once was a scout for the garrison at Fort Huachuca. During this man's spare time he ranged off into the desert searching for veins of silver or gold. The land was wild back then and very dangerous. When this young man's friend learned what he was doing this friend told him "The only rock you will find out there is your own tombstone." Undeterred he continued searching and eventually found a vein of silver all the while with only thirty cents in his pockets. He eventually staked the claim, got the ore appraised and founded the settlement "Tombstone" in honor of what everyone told him he would find. Edward Lawrence Schieffelin would became a millionaire due to his discovery in the late 1870's.

Were the odds actually in favor of Ed only finding his grave in that desert? Yes. Did most people setting out west fail in whatever ambitions they had? Yes. Does that mean it was not worth trying? No, it does not. The fact is that the vast majority of those setting out west to settle the land would fail utterly in some respect. That doesn't mean they should have stayed home and never dreamed at all. Where would we be if everyone had said "You know what? I think I'll just play it safe. ?

Comment by hopefullycreative on "Follow your dreams" as a case study in incorrect thinking · 2014-08-21T18:02:00.361Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Statement Retratcted: I should sit and think on this a bit more just to be sure I am posing the correct response.

Comment by hopefullycreative on Questions on the human path and transhumanism. · 2014-08-14T01:07:56.145Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Human alteration certainly wont magically improve human being's mental capabilities all on their own. That's why I put the qualifier that education "is and will be the primary means of improving the human mind"

I was point out when faced with an artificial intelligence that can continually upgrade itself the only way the human mind can compete is to upgrade as well. At some point current human physical limitations will be to limiting and human beings will fall to the wayside of uselessness in the face of artificial intelligence.

Comment by hopefullycreative on Questions on the human path and transhumanism. · 2014-08-13T22:20:21.276Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A weapon is no more than a mere tool. It is a thing that when controlled and used properly magnifies the force that the user is capable of. Due to this relationship I point out that an AGI that is subservient to man is not a weapon, for a weapon is a tool with which to do violence, that is physical force upon another. Instead an AGI is a tool that can be transformed into many types of tools. A possible tool that it can be transformed into is in fact a weapon, however as I have pointed out that does not mean that the AGI will always be a weapon.

Power is neither good nor ill. Uncontrolled, uncontested power however is dangerous. Would you start a fire without anything to contain it? For sentient beings we posses social structures, laws and reprisals to manage and regulate the behavior of the powerful force that is man. If even man is managed and controlled and managed into the most intelligent manner we can muster then why would an AGI be free of any such restraint? If sentient being A is due to its power cannot be trusted to operate without rules then how can we trust sentient being B whom is much more powerful to operate without any constraints? Its a logic hole.

A gulf of power is every bit as dangerous. When power between two groups is too disparate then there is a situation of potentially dangerous instability. As such its important for mankind to seek to improve itself so as to shrink this gap between power. Controlling an AGI and using it as a tool to improve man is one potential option to shrink this potential gulf in power.

Comment by hopefullycreative on Questions on the human path and transhumanism. · 2014-08-13T19:43:44.155Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My nightmare was a concept of how things would rationally likely to happen. Not how they ideally would happen. I had envisioned an AGI that was subservient to us and was everything that mankind hopes for. However, I also took into account human sentiment which would not tolerate the AGI simply taking nuclear weapons away, or really the AGI forcing us to do anything.

As soon as the AGI makes any visible move to command and control people the population of the world would scream out about the AGI trying to "enslave" humanity. Efforts to destroy the machine would happen almost instantly.

Human sentiment and politics need always be taken into account.

Comment by hopefullycreative on Questions on the human path and transhumanism. · 2014-08-13T19:36:42.659Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Education can allow someone access to a platform from which to stand upon that is certain. I was unconcerned because even if you spend thirty years educating someone they are still limited by their own intelligence when it comes to discovery, creativity, and decision making.

Spending time studying philosophy has greatly improved my ability to understand logic structures and has helped me make better decisions. However there are still limits set upon me by my own biological design. More than that, I am limited with how much education I can receive and still be able to work off the debt in a single lifetime. Even in state funded education its an investment, the student must generate more value in a lifetime than the cost of the education to be worth the education.

The pace of education is limited by a great number of variables including the student's IQ. Therefore we cannot simply solve that problem by trying to educate at a faster pace. The other solution is a form of transhumanism, that is alter my body so that I may live longer in order to be worth the cost of longer education. However postulating about such a long and substantial education is ignoring whether or not there is a point when education has no effect and the only other option is actual hands on experience in life.

We can logically see that we cannot magically educate every problem away. Education is and will be the primary means of improving the human mind. However, if we need to improve our natural limitations on how quickly we can learn and so fourth physical alteration of the human body may be necessary.

Comment by hopefullycreative on Questions on the human path and transhumanism. · 2014-08-13T19:20:59.372Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The existence of a super intelligent AGI would not somehow magic the knowledge of nuclear ordinance out of existence, nor would that AGI magically make the massive stockpiles of currently existing ordinance disappear. Getting governments to destroy those stockpiles for the foreseeable future is a political impossibility. The existence of a grand AGI doesn't change the nature of humanity, nor does it change how politics work.

This goes the same with the rich and the working classes, the existence of a super intelligent AGI does not mean that the world will magically overnight transform into a communist paradise. Of course you do have a sound point if you state that once the AGI has reached a certain point and its working machines are so sophisticated and common that such a paradise is possible to create. That does not mean it would be politically expedient enough to actually form.

However, lets assume that a communist paradise is formed and it is at this point that mankind realizes that the AGI is doing everything and as such we have very little meaning in our own existence. At this point if we begin to go down the path of transhumanism with cybernetics then there still would be a point in which these technologies are still quite rare and therefore rationed. What many don't realize is that in the end a communist system and a capitalist system behave similarly when there is a resource or production shortfall. The only difference is that in a capitalist system money determines who gets the limited resource, in any communist system politics would determine who gets the limited resource.

So in the end, even in a world in which we laze about, money doesn't exist and the AGI builds everything for us, new technologies that are still limited in number means that there will be people who have more than others. More than that I do not see people submitting to an AGI to determine who gets what, as such the distribution of the product of the AGI's work would be born of a human political system and clearly there would be people who game the system better gaining much more resources than everyone else, just like some people are better at business in our modern capitalist world.

Comment by hopefullycreative on Questions on the human path and transhumanism. · 2014-08-13T07:35:08.776Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You actually hit the nail on the head in terms of understanding the AGI I was referencing.

I thought about problems such as why would a firm researching crop engineering to solve world hunger bother with paying a full and very expensive staff? Wouldn't an AGI that not only crunches the numbers but manages mobile platforms for physical experimentation be more cost effective? The AGI would be smarter and run around the clock testing, postulating and experimenting. Researchers would quickly find themselves out of a job if the ideal AGI were born for this purpose.

Of course if men took on artificial enhancements their own cognitive abilities could improve to compete. They could even potentially digitally network ideas or even manage mobile robotic platforms with their minds as well. It seems therefore that the best solution to the potential labor competition problems with AGI is to simply use the AGI to help or outright research methods of making men mentally and physically better.

Comment by hopefullycreative on Open thread, 11-17 August 2014 · 2014-08-13T07:21:50.592Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I had to laugh at your conclusion. The implementation is the most enjoyable part. "How can I dumb this amazing idea down to the most basic understandable levels so it can be applied?" Sometimes you come up with a solution only to have a feverish fit of maddening genius weeks later finding a BETTER solution.

In my first foray into robotics I needed to write a radio positioning program/system for the little guys so they would all know where they were not globally but relative to each other and the work site. I was completely unable to find the math simply spelled out online and to admit at this point in my life I was a former marine who was not quite up to college level math. In banging my head against the table for hours I came up with an initial solution that found a position accounting for three dimensions(allowing for the target object to be in any position relative to the stationary receivers). Eventually I came up with an even better solution that also came up with new ideas for the robot's antenna design and therefore tweaking the solution even more.

That was some of the most fun I have ever had...

Comment by hopefullycreative on Open thread, 11-17 August 2014 · 2014-08-13T07:07:05.378Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I had drawn up some rather detailed ideas for an atomic powered future: The idea was to solve two major problems. The first was the inherent risk of an over pressure causing such a power plant to explode. The second problem to solve was the looming water shortage facing many nations.

The idea was a power plant that used internal sterling technology so as to operate at atmospheric pressures. Reinforcing this idea was basically a design for the reactor to "entomb" itself if it reached temperatures high enough to melt its shell. The top of the sterling engine would have a salt water reservoir that would be boiled off. The water then would be collected and directed in a piping system to a reservoir. The plant would then both produce electricity AND fresh water.

Of course then while researching thorium power technology in school I discovered that the South Korean SMART micro reactor does in fact desalinate water. On one level I was depressed that my idea was not "original" however, overall I'm exited that I came up with an idea that apparently had enough merit for people actually go through and make a finished design based upon it. The fact that my idea had merit at all gives me hope for my future as an engineer.

Comment by hopefullycreative on Questions on the human path and transhumanism. · 2014-08-13T06:46:28.833Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I certainly liked this post for the fact that you noticed that the AGI would probably figure out all the pros and cons for us. I did however figure it would be enjoyable for us in our world that currently lacks any AGI to discuss them though :).

Anyway I cannot really relate with the desired goal for an AGI. I much rather do an eternity in hell with all its cognitive stimulation than rot in "heaven". Look at our experiences with the elderly that we resign to homes where their minds literally rot from lack of use.

I am merely pointing out the horror of never having to actually think for yourself or actually do anything. Suddenly any purpose that we can find in the world is gone and our bodies as well as our minds begin to rot as we use them less and less.

Comment by hopefullycreative on Questions on the human path and transhumanism. · 2014-08-13T06:40:45.958Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What I was fundamentally wondering with the above post was the relationship of developmental education and eventual I.Q. Such as given identical genetic characteristics would heightened mental stimulation during early brain development greatly improve the I.Q. over the control?

Comment by hopefullycreative on Questions on the human path and transhumanism. · 2014-08-13T00:44:24.084Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Suppose we created an AGI the greatest mind ever conceived and we created it to solve humanities greatest problems. An ideal methodology for the AGI to do this would to ask for factories to produce physical components to copy itself over and over. The AGI then networks its copies all over the world creating a global mind and then generates a hoard of "mobile platforms" from which to observe, study and experiment with the world for its designed purpose.

The "robbery" is not intentional, its not intending to make mankind meaningless. The machine is merely meeting its objective of doing its utmost to find the solutions to problems for humanity. The horror is that as the machine mind expands networking its copies together and as it sends its mobile platforms out into the world eventually human discovery and invention would be dwarfed by this being. Outside of social and political forces destroying or dismantling the machine(quite likely) human beings would ultimately be forced with a problem: with the machine thinking of everything for us, and its creations doing all the hard work we really have nothing to do. In order to have anything to do we must improve ourselves to at the very lest have a mind that can compete.

Basically this is all a look at what the world would be like if our current AGI researchers did succeed in building their ideal machine and what it would mean for humanity.

Comment by hopefullycreative on Questions on the human path and transhumanism. · 2014-08-13T00:33:37.457Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's more or less what I stated was the only solution to the problem of finding meaning in a world with such an AGI. This really all comes down to the purpose of the AGI in the first place. w

Comment by hopefullycreative on Questions on the human path and transhumanism. · 2014-08-13T00:30:55.729Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

This is a statement that is deeper than it first appears. It actually poses the question, are the current limits on human intelligence due to the human being's genetic design or is it due to poor education?

As in are I.Q. limitations as we observe them due to lack of education?

Of course education is already improving. What is at issue is eventually we will have a world populated with magnificent artificial intelligences that make us look stupid. Its highly probable that our minds will have physical limits well below the sea of intelligence we are about to birth. Therefore we must examine our role, our very sense of purpose and meaning in a potential future where we are no longer capable being the smartest and therefore the "leader"

Comment by hopefullycreative on Every Paul needs a Jesus · 2014-08-10T20:11:33.887Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I long pondered on the concepts above. I had come up with the conclusion "Every movement needs a poet." In your discussion Jesus was one such poet. Its one thing to issue a command to a man's mind, it is quite another altogether to issue a command to a man's soul.

You used examples of revolutionary America, lets look at the details of that a bit more. We had a combination of excellent leaders leading up to that war all of them experts in the field of politics, including George Washington (whom claimed he didn't want the post of commander of the continental army but showed up to the meetings to pick one in a military uniform). As a violent civil disturbance turned successful the continental congress decided that succession was the best plan and commissioned the writing of the declaration of independence. Instead of a full committee writing the document the preamble in all of its poetic glory was written by Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson had filled the role of the fantastic poet and had collected all of the confused feelings and ideas of the founders into one easy to understand and powerful document. He had addressed those who opposed Britain over the issue of slavery as well as those who opposed Britain's increasing autocratic nature. Most importantly his document created a beacon to command that generation and later generations to live up to a set of ideals as the ultimate goal for our nation. The poet commanded the people to be and now as you argued they needed someone with practical skills to make it happen. Its important to note that with such a beacon men are willing to endure no end of hardship to see it happen.

So I wouldn't disagree that "Every Jesus needs a Paul" but I DO argue that if a great poet rises then so too will the fantastic men needed to make the poet's vision happen. Men grow, create and learn the most when necessity demands that they do so. If there is a poet commanding men to greatness then great men is what we will have. Its important to note that for poet to be successful in this manner they must profess ideals that are "virtuous", the more honorable and virtuous they appear the easier it is to find and create great men as well as avoid resistance.

Lets look at your example of Washington and the continental army: Washington was a gallant figure and dressed as such on purpose to command people emotionally. One of his core strategies was to create an image that his men could look up to. As such he was dutiful and never sought leave of the army so he was always there working to further the cause. He was courageous and brave, showing no personal concern at sitting on a horse in a hail of gunfire as he screamed at his men to stand strong. He was even merciful doing his utmost to see to the needs of the enemy wounded and captured. The combination of virtues and the vast quality of his moral superiority meant that great men flocked to him. The first were Nathaniel Green and Henry Knox. Yet he would soon have much needed support form men like Marquis de Lafayette, a man who served with such distinction that there are towns and cities across the United States that are named after him.

So yes, every Jesus needs a Paul. Yet interestingly possibly because every Jesus needs a Paul, for every great Jesus out there a Paul will surely be "born"

Comment by hopefullycreative on Gaming Democracy · 2014-07-31T21:11:27.333Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Actually I argue that there was less change in the 1930's than most people realize. Anti Semitism goes back in Germany for centuries. This is a trend going back to the black death when whole Jewish communities were wiped out. This sentiment remained strong even in the 1930's.

Further, the Nazi party was not expressing anything the German people had not already had a connection with. An example is that the Nazi party expressed the need for an autocratic central figure or group to command and lead the nation. Germany's experience with democracy was fresh and it was associated with the exceptional economic downturn and inflation so high children played with piles of worthless money in the streets.

Of course old German sentiment was tied together with ideas that almost everyone can get behind. In a period of complete economic ruin the Nazi party came and said "Wipe those tears off your face, your better than this. I know this, you know this. Get up. You can do better. You WILL do better. I will not let you fail." You actually see this strategy used in the tv show "kitchen nightmares" by Chef Gordon Ramsey for example. There is also the community aspect that German citizens in particular were in full aggreance with.

From all of my knowledge of German history I see that the Nazi party did not instill new virtues on its people, merely commanded the German people to live up to them. Some of these we can all agree with. Hard work, diligence, responsibility, dedication to community, meaningful sacrifice. Its the others that were so dark.

Comment by hopefullycreative on Gaming Democracy · 2014-07-31T18:54:34.451Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So supposing my objective is to successfully express the pro-transhumanism cause in the government. We have already discussed "Is it possible to start a new party along these lines?" We have recognized because transhumanism even accepted by the populous is a "lesser virtue" therefore if it the central virtue of said new party the new party will remain a minor actor on the political scene. When viewing the political situation without bias as a pragmatic man the question then arises "can I subvert a major party to my ends?"

We recognize that the major parties have the strength we need. Therefore we need to figure out what sort of pressure and incentives we need to encourage the main party to behave the way we desire. In these calculations we of course must ensure we pick a major player whose primary virtues do not come in conflict with our desired virtue. Of course this still asks how can this be done? The first obvious step of course is to target the voting population that said party depends upon and instill the desired virtue in them.

That of course creates a whole new set of problems! How DOES one change a group of people's moral compass? Even a minor change can be hard.

Comment by hopefullycreative on Gaming Democracy · 2014-07-31T08:36:44.935Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think your not giving some basic mechanics enough credit here. Yes, many people certainly only vote for the main parties because they feel that their vote may be "wasted" on a minor party. However this poses the question "How did the main parties become the main parties anyway?" When considering how to succeed as a minor party that question should inevitably be something that one must answer.

If you look at the behavior and voting patterns of people they are actually quite unconcerned about empirical data. Instead they are concerned with "virtue". Is the candidate "virtuous" in their eyes? Does the party express and support virtues that they hold dear? Big parties campaign on virtues that are broad range and therefore gather a great deal of support. You mentioned gun control opponents in the United States and that is an excellent example of this. These people may actually vary quite a great deal on other "virtue" issues such as homosexual marriage, however they all personally believe that their legal rights are fundamentally secured by an armed and capable populous. Therefore anyone who campaigns on the perceived virtue of "guns are moral, because they defend people and secure our rights" has a large number of potential supporters.

Therefore if one is trying to get a smaller party of the ground the key is instead to take ownership of a series of virtues and run a persuasive campaign to help the public not only accept but believe in these virtues. In other words, the party must relate with the public and the public must relate with it. There are of course mitigating circumstance. The person who controls a "higher virtue" that is as equally accepted as someone who controls a "lower virtue" will win out. This is actually why again opposing gun control in the United States is actually an effective political stratagem. Because people believe their rights are secured by those arms that means all those rights, other virtues are subservient to the ability to own modern effective weapons.