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Perfectionism as depth-first search 2020-12-29T01:49:22.945Z

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Comment by MSRayne on How To Write Quickly While Maintaining Epistemic Rigor · 2021-09-08T01:23:04.699Z · LW · GW

I have a lot of thoughts about a lot of things but my post history reveals that I'm like you and a lot like the people this post is geared towards; I don't share my thoughts because I never have much of an idea how to back them up. Worse though, I can't even follow this post's advice, as I mostly have no idea how I come up with any of the things I do, either; I've never bothered to pay attention to the process. :/

Comment by MSRayne on The Future: Where are the Colors and the Sports? · 2021-08-23T15:18:58.444Z · LW · GW

The same thing that drove you to write yours.

Comment by MSRayne on The Future: Where are the Colors and the Sports? · 2021-08-18T14:04:32.690Z · LW · GW

You might want to check out the Orion's Arm Universe Project, https://www.orionsarm.com/ - it's a science fiction world set ten thousand years in the future which has been collaboratively developed (anyone can join) for over twenty years now, and it's much more diverse than typical "everything is chrome in the future" visions. (In fact "Diversity!!!" is literally their motto.) This simplifying trend is not universal; I think it is really just an example of people being too lazy to think carefully about what would realistically actually happen in a future scenario.

I'm really glad you pointed out the stuff about sports though - I agree with some of the other commenters that for the most part, in the physical world, the sports that currently exist are a waste of resources, but the concept of sport in general is extremely valuable and I would like to see a wide variety of VR sports become popular once full-body VR is a thing. I'd even be interested in engaging in VR version of actual violent warfare, since it wouldn't actually harm anybody in that context - but perhaps I'm unusual in that respect.

Also note, solarpunk tends to be highly colorful, but that's a rather new development of the past few years (and one much closer to my own aesthetic than most "future" stuff).

Comment by MSRayne on The Future: Where are the Colors and the Sports? · 2021-08-18T13:58:48.023Z · LW · GW

This is absurd. There is nothing wrong with competitiveness, and the majority of people who play competitive video games are not suffering from it. Sure, there's always griefers who win at all costs and enjoy humiliating weaker players, but nobody wants to play with people like that.

There is a joy in striving against an equal opponent that cannot be found in anything purely cooperative, and which is not intrinsically harmful in the slightest. In fact, the urge to seek social status, which you denigrate as something horrible, is probably the only reason humans intensely care about anything other than survival and reproduction in the first place.

There's also nothing wrong with "primal urges". They are not intrinsically destructive - they are only destructive if indulged in the physical world. I often envision future VR sports, or even warfare, where people experience intense "physical" competition in a virtual world, perhaps even including artificial pain sensations etc, but then return to their bodies and are safe and sound. I think it would be fun. Note also that sex is a primal urge, and it too can be dangerous due to sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies - are you against it too?

Comment by MSRayne on What are some good pieces on civilizational decay / civilizational collapse / weakening of societal fabric? · 2021-08-08T13:28:59.541Z · LW · GW

I got a lot out of reading Peter Turchin's "Historical Dynamics: Why States Rise and Fall", and I'm going to read more of his works soon. He makes elegant mathematical arguments about the intertwining effects of population, technology, and social cohesion on growth and collapse of societies.

Comment by MSRayne on Training Better Rationalists? · 2021-08-07T12:41:33.971Z · LW · GW

I'm very interested, but only if I don't have to pay for it, since I have literally no money. I've been thinking of learning Mandarin.

Comment by MSRayne on How much do variations in diet quality determine individual productivity? · 2021-08-07T12:24:14.104Z · LW · GW

The problem is that it is intensely hypocritical to only value human life, because humans are just not that different from other animals. Maybe "irrational" is the wrong word here, because orthogonality thesis blah blah, but it's laughably arbitrary, along the same lines as nationalism or sexism. "I happen to have been born in X group, therefore X group is superior."

Comment by MSRayne on How much do variations in diet quality determine individual productivity? · 2021-08-04T01:23:49.052Z · LW · GW

Not to be that guy, but the idea of someone being a rationalist but not a vegan astounds me. You do know animals are sentient, right?

Comment by MSRayne on Brief thoughts on inefficient writing systems · 2021-08-04T01:20:08.580Z · LW · GW

The inability to avoid exact phonetic representations would actually be beneficial, imo, because a fluent writer of IPA could then represent their native accent exactly, and a fluent reader could recognize that accent and imagine the author's voice more accurately while reading. It would be useless for deaf people, though - but all written language reforms are, unfortunately.

Comment by MSRayne on Brief thoughts on inefficient writing systems · 2021-08-04T01:12:36.697Z · LW · GW

You're making the mistake of thinking that writing is about adequate communication. It's not, or not only. It's also about signalling that you had enough slack / wealth to waste tons of your educational time and effort learning arbitrary rules, and thus that you are probably 1. somewhat disciplined 2. somewhat well-educated and 3. part of the elite, or at least not a total prole. This is how complex writing systems have survived so long.

Comment by MSRayne on Wanted: Foom-scared alignment research partner · 2021-08-03T21:41:57.333Z · LW · GW

Emailed you. I can always use more anxiety-ridden friends. :P

Comment by MSRayne on DeepMind: Generally capable agents emerge from open-ended play · 2021-08-03T21:31:50.081Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure what else to say on the matter but feel free to shoot me a DM.

Note that I'm not an AI expert or anything; the main reason I post here so rarely is that I'm more of an intuitive thinker, armchair philosopher, poet, etc than anything and I feel intimidated next to all you smart analytical people; my life's goal though is to ensure that the first superintelligence is a human collective mind (via factored cognition, BCIs, etc), rather than an AGI, hence my statement about narrow AIs (I see AIs as plugins for the human brain, not as something that ought to exist as separate entities).

Comment by MSRayne on DeepMind: Generally capable agents emerge from open-ended play · 2021-08-03T13:22:20.011Z · LW · GW

This is becoming an ethical concern. At this point I would say if they don't stop they are risking severe mindcrime. If the overview you quoted is correct, those entities are sentient enough to deserve moral consideration. But no one is going to give that consideration, and anyway this produces the risk of AGI which is bad for everyone. I wish companies like DeepMind would realize how terrifyingly dangerous what they're doing is, and focus on perfecting narrow AIs for various different specific tasks instead.

Comment by MSRayne on The Myth of the Myth of the Lone Genius · 2021-08-03T13:13:31.809Z · LW · GW

If it weren't for solitary geniuses, mathematics as a field would not exist. Nearly everything interesting was discovered by them, and nearly every mathematician I can name would count as one - Euclid, al-Khwarizmi, Galois, Ramanujan, Cantor, Goedel...

Comment by MSRayne on A cognitive algorithm for "free will." · 2021-07-15T19:02:28.079Z · LW · GW

That's why I included the causal bit. There's a different sensation between "I can predict it (because something besides me will make it happen)" and "I can predict it (because I will make it happen)". The latter feels like a plan, or an intention, with an energy of "the prediction itself is what's doing the work" whereas the former feels like an expectation. And the capacity to make plans or intentions and see them through, is part of what people mean when they talk about free will, it seems like.

Comment by MSRayne on Imaginary reenactment to heal trauma – how and when does it work? · 2021-07-15T14:14:12.297Z · LW · GW

As someone heavily prone to dissociation (I could probably be diagnosed with OSDD-1B if I were to go to a psychiatrist), I am interested in but skeptical of things like this. I have a very hard time holding my various contradictory emotionally-charged beliefs in my mind at the same time, because their accessibility to memory is dependent on which ego state I am in at the moment, and I often don't even realize when I switch from one to another. (Other people sometimes do, of course, such as when I start arguing against an opinion I argued in favor of just a few minutes before.) Even when one version of me fully understands things like "I have people who care about me", this does not stop my traumatized child-self from once again taking away the microphone when something bad happens and refusing to listen. That is... this method does not seem likely, to me, to actually have any permanent effects but only to be a temporary solution approximately along the same lines as telling oneself to shut up.

Comment by MSRayne on Going Out With Dignity · 2021-07-15T14:00:29.177Z · LW · GW

The way I see it, the only correct value to align any AI to is not the arbitrary values of humans-in-general, assuming such a thing even exists, but rather the libertarian principle of self-ownership / non-aggression. The perfect super-AI would have no desire or purpose other than to be the "king" of an anarcho-monarchist world state and rigorously enforce contracts (probably with the aid of human, uplift, etc interpreters, judges, and juries stipulated in the contracts themselves, so that the AI does not have to make decisions about what is reasonable), including a basic social contract, binding on all sentient beings, that if they possess the capacity for moral reasoning, they are required to respect certain fundamental rights of all other sentient beings. (This would include obvious things like not eating them.) It would, essentially, be a sentient law court (and police force, so that it can recognize violations and take appropriate action), in which anything that has consciousness has its rights protected. For a super-AI to be anything other than that is asking for trouble.

Comment by MSRayne on Going Out With Dignity · 2021-07-15T13:51:30.982Z · LW · GW

I often honestly struggle to see neurotypicals as sane, but I'm hideously misanthropic at times. The problem is, I became the way I am through a combination of childhood trauma and teenage occultism (together with a tendency to be critical of everything), which is a combination that most people don't have and possibly shouldn't have; I don't know how to port my natural appetite for rationality to a "normal" brain.

Comment by MSRayne on Going Out With Dignity · 2021-07-15T13:47:09.075Z · LW · GW

With increased wealth, humans relatively universally become more caring? Is this why billionaires are always giving up the vast majority of their fortunes to feed the hungry and house the homeless while willingly living on rice and beans?

Comment by MSRayne on Going Out With Dignity · 2021-07-15T13:44:06.768Z · LW · GW

I think the appropriate emotion is desperate, burning hatred for every vile inhuman force, such as Moloch, death, paperclip maximizers, carnism (considered as a mind parasite almost universally endemic to the human population), or FFI, that blindly and callously defiles the minds and bodies of sentient beings who deserve so much better. I unfortunately 1. cannot maintain such an emotion for long and 2. find my resentment constantly leaking out against other people who lack understanding of these issues and whose actions unknowingly (or knowingly, in the case of carnists, but bless them, they know not what they do) support them, which does not help. So... maybe I'm wrong.

Comment by MSRayne on A cognitive algorithm for "free will." · 2021-07-15T13:23:27.176Z · LW · GW

I've always seen it as, the sensation of free will comes from the ability to predict one's own actions before they occur, in such a way as those predictions themselves seem to have causal efficacy to make themselves come true. Some predictions have that feeling - that they themselves are what's making the thing being predicted happen (that the part of the brain doing the predicting is outputting that straight to the part handling the behavior, and this hand-off of information is perceived by other regions) - and others don't.

The former always feel like volition, even when they are "long range" (plans for the future, for instance), but particularly when they are "short range" (like moving one's arm, which has a very volition-ish feeling). It's a bit like imperative, or better yet, performative statements ("I now pronounce you man and wife") in language, which directly cause the thing they are describing.

When you feel as if you did not freely will something, it's always either because you did not predict it, or because your prediction did not include the further prediction that it, itself, was what was causing the event, due to some kind of dissociation between the part of the brain doing the predicting, and the part acting. (When I dream at night, for instance, I rarely have any sense of free will, because part of the nature of dreaming is that predictive mechanisms are relaxed and various portions of the brain are heavily dissociated from one another.)

Comment by MSRayne on Interfaces as a Scarce Resource · 2021-06-26T20:32:07.201Z · LW · GW

This actually clarifies for me what my role in life is intended to be: I want to be a human interface. I've always been an extreme generalist, unwilling or unable to specialize in any particular field of study, but enjoying all of them. This produces a certain amount of angst - the modern world does not really have a place for people who do not specialize in anything. But if I think of my specialty as being an interface for all those different fields to talk to one another (which I guess forces me into some kind of management role - and also explains my love of both UX design and systems theory), then that actually could work. I'm not sure how to actually reach the point of being able to do that, though.

Comment by MSRayne on Does Big Business Hate Your Family? · 2021-06-24T00:45:34.130Z · LW · GW

You say that a corporation is not an agent in its own right, only:

> an abstraction of what happens as the result of the preferences of individuals, and choices made by individual people, and their interactions.

But the human mind is an abstraction of what happens as the result of the preferences of individual subagents, and "choices" made by individual subagents, and their interactions. With a multi-agent model of mind, it seems indefensible to claim that an agent cannot be formed out of smaller agents - even when they are (like schemas in the mind) competing with one another. Corporations look like agents so much because that's what they are, even though it is also a direct result of the complex patterns of individual choice that you are talking about here.

Comment by MSRayne on Reinforcing Habits · 2021-06-23T18:29:21.428Z · LW · GW

To an extent, I am intrinsically ambivalent about food, but over time (starting in childhood, actually) I have sort of unconsciously trained myself to be averse to sweetness - anything that is too sweet makes me think of rotting teeth full of cavities, and sugars being transformed into fat deposits, and all the energy in that sugar which some starving person could use more effectively than I, if only they had been the one to eat it instead - and it makes me less interested in eating the sweet thing. Oddly, this mostly shows up after I've already eaten it and makes me guilty without stopping me from eating it in the first place, though, because I don't stop and think about that when the food is actually in front of me - hence why I have multiple cavities in my teeth!

Comment by MSRayne on What other problems would a successful AI safety algorithm solve? · 2021-06-15T16:16:55.257Z · LW · GW

The latter is more what I was pointing to.

Comment by MSRayne on A lateral way of thinking about Cause X: barely visible but potentially enormous categories of value · 2021-06-14T15:52:21.808Z · LW · GW

I'm sure I'm nowhere near the first person to talk about this "barely visible but vast tragedy", but factory farming is as far as I can tell the number one most heinous thing humanity has ever done. Every mass genocide perpetrated upon humans pales in comparison by orders of magnitude. Seems to me that one of the most effective ways of doing effective altruism right now would be to go vegan and spread veganism throughout society as much as possible, with the end goal of destroying the animal agriculture industry entirely.

But that's not really barely visible, I guess. Invisible to most people due to their indoctrination by a society that doesn't want them to experience their natural empathy for animals because it takes money out of the pockets of corporations, yes, but veganism is very old - lots of people are aware of it. In the same direction and less visibly (but still, I'm not the first one to notice this) is the even more horrendous suffering intrinsic in nature - a tragedy of cosmic proportions which only humans can solve, through paradise engineering. I can't seem to think of something not previously noticed, though...

As for type two, I think that artworks rendered in the sense of proprioception - choreographed transformations of one's sense of body shape and location - are quite imaginable and could be very beautiful, something like an exponentiation of dance - but with current tech basically impossible to create. We would need brain implants for that. Another obvious example is the direct experience of higher-dimensional spaces, which are capable of symmetries (and thus, if the symmetry theory of valence is correct, degrees of beauty) which cannot even be imagined with our 3D bodies and 3D-adapted brains.

Comment by MSRayne on What other problems would a successful AI safety algorithm solve? · 2021-06-14T15:32:45.768Z · LW · GW

I think you've got it the wrong way around. In fact, that's probably my biggest issue with the whole field of alignment. I think that it's probably easier to solve the problem of human institution alignment than AI alignment, and that to do so would help solve the AI alignment problem as well.

The reason I say this is because individual humans are already aligned to human values, and it should be possible by some means to preserve this fact even while scaling up to entire organizations. There is no a priori reason that this would be more difficult than literally reverse engineering the entire human mind from scratch! That is, it doesn't actually matter what human values are, if you believe that humans actually can be trusted to have them - all that matters is that you can be certain they are preserved by the individual-to-organization transition. So my position can be summarized as "designing an organization which preserves human values already present is easier than figuring out what they are to begin with and injecting them into something with no humanity already in it."

As a matter of fact, this firm belief is the basis of my whole theory of what we ought to be doing as a species - I think AI should not be allowed to gain general intelligence, and that instead we should focus on creating an aligned superintelligence out of humans (with narrow AIs as "mortar", mere extensions to human capacities) - first in the form of an organization, later on a "hive mind" using brain computer interfaces to achieve varying degrees of voluntary mind-to-mind communication.

Comment by MSRayne on Looking Deeper at Deconfusion · 2021-06-14T15:16:43.582Z · LW · GW

Thanks for this helpful perspective! Reading your list of traits of confusion I was astounded to realize that this perfectly describes the pit I've been in for years myself with my own ideas. Perhaps deconfusion is what I need. (Specifically, I do a lot of those "self motte and baileys" and I've regularly complained wearily to people about my "too many threads" - it felt like you were talking directly about me! Recent work I've done to clarify some of this actually resembles what you call finding handles.)

Explaining what, exactly, said ideas are is of course difficult, because I am confused about them. :P But to quickly summarize, as a young teen I was a New Ager / occultist and got "gnosis" about various spiritual things which I later reinterpreted in such a way as to make them compatible with a physicalist view of reality, and ever since I've been attempting to clarify this "rational spirituality" enough that I could write a book about it and share it with others - but this is difficult, because it's mostly tacit knowledge I don't know how to explicate, with lots of confusion and constant updating as I learn more and become a better rationalist.

Comment by MSRayne on Notes on "The Anthropology of Childhood" · 2021-06-06T01:58:23.159Z · LW · GW

Thank you so much for pointing my attention to this book! The sociology of childhood is a very important topic for me and this is a really great overview of it.

Comment by MSRayne on What Would You Store to Maximize Value in 100 Years? A Thought Experiment · 2021-05-18T23:00:11.273Z · LW · GW

I was thinking too short term with the spending habits. It's worth hoarding right now but probably not in a hundred years. Good point.

Comment by MSRayne on Love on Cartesian Planes · 2021-05-18T01:31:16.464Z · LW · GW

I'm pretty sure love has nothing to do with altruism. I rarely feel love for anyone or anything, but I'm vegan because I don't want to support the harm of animals, and I want to dedicate my life to effective altruism because it seems like the only sensible thing to do. I don't even like animals, but their welfare is important to me. Similarly, I don't like most humans either, but I similarly care about their welfare.

Comment by MSRayne on What Would You Store to Maximize Value in 100 Years? A Thought Experiment · 2021-05-18T01:11:05.546Z · LW · GW

This is probably cheating since it's not a physical object, but there is one resource that will never cease to be valuable and worth "storing": reputation - your own, or that of your company or progeny if you're thinking particularly long term. If that's not a legal answer, then information, particularly about people's spending habits, is probably the next best thing - as the big tech companies are aware.

Comment by MSRayne on Problems of evil · 2021-04-20T14:41:04.168Z · LW · GW

I think the best solution to the problem of evil is the Gnostic one. There is indeed a perfectly good ground of being, but we are separated from it by a blind idiot god that keeps us prisoner. This world is not the Real, but only a pale imitation, an inevitable accident, and the Holy is the points of transcendent light within us, the motes of hope and meaning that guide us towards attempting to return to the Real. Of course, bound by the chains of matter, we must use matter's principles in order to do so. The original Gnostics thought that one could through spiritual striving and dedication to their savior achieve a rebirth beyond the borders of the fallen world; I think the only real hope is to incarnate the Real world here, within this one, via this world's technology - the loopholes that the babbling Void cannot hide from us. It all adds up to matrioshka brains in the end, of course, no matter how you describe it.

Comment by MSRayne on Problems of evil · 2021-04-20T14:35:51.160Z · LW · GW

This is your atheism talking. Those of us from a different background have gained something from it.

Comment by MSRayne on Problems of evil · 2021-04-20T14:34:43.921Z · LW · GW

I love this thought. This un-god is what I've always called the Void, or Oblivion, or the Death Force. (I actually am a mystic, myself, and have rather idiosyncratic perspectives on spiritual stuff like this, due to personal experiences, but I definitely have noticed the un-god and been disturbed by how few people seem aware of it. In fact, rationalists may be the only people who are aware of it.)

Comment by MSRayne on Rationalism before the Sequences · 2021-04-09T21:40:28.014Z · LW · GW

Yes, yes, yes! This is it, this is exactly it!

> Rituals are programs written in the symbolic language of the unconscious mind. Religions are program libraries that share critical subroutines. And the Gods represent subsystems in the wetware being programmed. All humans have potential access to pretty much the same major gods because our wetware design is 99% shared.

I've come to the same conclusion in the past. Meme theory plus multiagent models of mind, plus the shared structure of the human unconscious (though another layer of what is shared, which is often overlooked, is mountains of cultural context), equals spirits as AIs on a distributed operating system run with human brains as the substrate. Failing to recognize their existence is a mistake. Being enslaved to the fragmented, defiled forms of them which arise when direct theophanic contact is lost (such as faith based religions are ruled by) is another mistake. The middle way is the best. I'm glad to know I'm not the only person here who strives both for rationalism and for gnosis.

Comment by MSRayne on Rationalism before the Sequences · 2021-04-08T21:13:30.742Z · LW · GW

I'm only 23 - probably younger than most people here - but I imagine my father must have read many of the same books, as he raised me to think in a way which I now understand to be very much like Yudkowsky's version of rationality. As with what you quoted from Nancy, it all seemed really obvious to me when I read the Sequences, except for the mathematical components (Bayesianism still confuses me, but I'll get there eventually).

The main way I differ here though is that I have had lots of "mystical experiences" due to probably schizotypal or dissociative tendencies when I was a teenager, and so my perspective on the world is not quite that of a typical atheist. I don't know of any other LessWrongers with roots in the occult and New Age worlds, who retain thought patterns from those perspectives but rationality-ized, though.

Example: I think religion has at least one extremely important function other than building community, namely promoting the experience of transcendence (at least in some people with brains shaped in such a way as to be able to experience that - note that I'm not claiming this to involve actual "supernatural" phenomena, only psychological ones), and that this experience matters a lot, because I've had it myself many times - but explaining that would require an entire essay and I can't guarantee I'd be able to clearly express it, as it is a fundamentally experiential thing, rather than an easily verbalized thing, sort of like Kensho.

Comment by MSRayne on Chaos Induces Abstractions · 2021-03-19T15:19:04.742Z · LW · GW

This vaguely reminds me of uncertainty principles - both involve a finite amount of information available in a system, where the more you know about one aspect, the less you know about all the others - but I don't know how to make the resemblance precise or whether it's actually relevant to chaos theory.

Comment by MSRayne on The Age of Imaginative Machines · 2021-03-18T02:19:09.917Z · LW · GW

This will be great for me, because I have tons of ideas but suck at art. In fact, I hope I'll be able to be one of the people who makes all this possible. I've always wanted to dedicate my life to creating virtual worlds better than the real one, after all. (And eventually, uploading as many people and other sentient beings as possible into them, and replacing the real world altogether with an engineered paradise.)

Comment by MSRayne on MetaPrompt: a tool for telling yourself what to do. · 2021-03-18T01:57:17.602Z · LW · GW

This STRONGLY resembles an old idea of mine that I have, naturally, never actually managed to make - it's called Pique, and it would be a collaborative art-making site, where one person can make an outline, another person can fill in some highlights and shadows, another can add details, etc.

In Pique, you randomly get assigned an unfinished picture and you can draw on it whatever you want, making a fork of it, or you can skip it - the more work has already gone into a picture, the more likely it is to show up (because people would skip it if it seemed low quality), until finally some number of people agree that this version of the artwork (there might be MANY branches, of course) is complete, and it gets added to some kind of archive.

Possibly copies of finished images would be sold, the money split between the company running the site and the users who worked on it, in proportion to how much they added to it. This could also be done with writing, though it would be more difficult and probably involve a lot more factored cognition components, but essentially it's a way to crowdsource art.

Like all my ideas (I am walking feature creep) this ended up becoming an idea for a grand unified system of crowdsourced cognition which would ultimately become a hive mind, and so I've never actually had any idea how to make it. But it resembles MetaPrompt fantastically (and the two could perhaps be merged... maybe as part of that grand unified hive mind... :P)

Comment by MSRayne on Lessons I've Learned from Self-Teaching · 2021-01-24T22:48:00.368Z · LW · GW

Hmm... I could try actually counting experience points. Like, each flash card reviewed grants a point, and every time I reach, say, a new Fibonacci Number of points, I gain a level and... um... stuff! The idea of leveling up really isn't very motivating by itself, but it would help.

Here's one idea: when reading a textbook or anything else I want to memorize, I might try to come up with just one question and answer pair about each page, and make a card out of that. Summarize the most important info on that page. Anything that's not too info-heavy, that should work. In things which are info-heavy, your method should work quite well.

Comment by MSRayne on Lessons I've Learned from Self-Teaching · 2021-01-24T01:34:20.502Z · LW · GW

I have multiple times tried to get into an Anki habit and failed to keep it up. I think the main thing that makes me stop is that I try to make nearly every sentence of something that I'm studying into a card, because I have no idea what's worth remembering and what isn't. (As a general rule, throughout life, I suck at prioritizing.) The other thing, though, is that it feels like Work and things which feel like Work are Unpleasant and I procrastinate them. Do you have any advice for getting over that hump?

Comment by MSRayne on CollAction history and lessons learned · 2021-01-18T02:00:26.117Z · LW · GW

I've long been interested in stuff like this. I don't really have any credentials to directly help, but I have the goal of someday creating an MMO (massively multiplayer online game) in which leveling up one's character's skills requires doing real life "quests" related to the skill. So a druid would gain power by actually physically going out and gardening, or buying organic / vegan food, or etc. A player with a necromancer character could level them up by researching their genealogy or respectfully visiting a gravesite. Etc.

This wouldn't necessarily be about large-scale collective actions, but more about encouraging healthy and beneficial behaviors in each person's life. I think large scale actions could be done as well - treat them as "bosses" to be fought - but that would be built atop the more basic element.

Comment by MSRayne on What is going on in the world? · 2021-01-18T01:51:42.959Z · LW · GW

Here's mine: a large portion of the things that matter most in human life, including particularly most of the ways of life we originally evolved for, are swiftly becoming rare luxuries throughout the West, primarily at the behest of liberalism (which otherwise has produced many positives). Examples:

  1. embeddedness in a small tribe where everyone knows everyone else
  2. the expectation of having a loving mate and healthy family
  3. spiritual connection with a symbolically rich world of mythology (which need not be materially "real" in order to be valuable)
  4. veneration for the ancestors and the mighty dead, with recognition of oneself as a continuation of their being and as indebted to them
  5. a sufficiently simple local reality that it can be modeled, understood, and predicted without information overload
  6. emotional connection with nonhuman organisms, ecosystems, and the land in a web of respectful, honorable give and take
  7. capacity for self-reliance and individual responsibility for survival and flourishing
  8. a clear and unambiguous system of social roles on the basis of age, gender, lineage, etc, which is seen as legitimate by all

The reason I see the loss of these things as a terrible part of the "central plot" is because they are for the most part ignored, yet deeply important aspects of what it means to be human, which we are in danger of permanently losing even if ALL those other problems are solved. If people forget where we came from, and wholesale let go of the past and traditional values in favor of "progress" for its own sake, I think it will be a net loss regardless of how happy the abhuman things that we become will be. And the evidence is in my favor that these problems are making people miserable - just look at conservatives, who still are trying to hold on to these aspects of being human and seeing them threatened from every direction.

Comment by MSRayne on Is Success the Enemy of Freedom? (Full) · 2021-01-05T15:57:42.855Z · LW · GW

I'm 23 and I still feel like a child who knows nothing. If I peak in two years I will be very cross with the universe.

Comment by MSRayne on The despair of normative realism bot · 2021-01-04T16:53:38.849Z · LW · GW

I suppose I must be such an envelope worshiper myself. I've actually over time semi-consciously striven to modify my epistemology and ontology in such a way as to force my ethical or spiritual views to be absolutely coherent with the visible state of the world, rather than letting go of moral realism.

I have felt since childhood that there is some unknown thing which I called the Mysteria which is the true object of all desire, and like light it shines through each thing that we think we desire. They are lenses for it, refracting the white Mysteria-light into endless colors, each necessary in order to glimpse the source, like facets of a diamond, but no finite set of such things is sufficient to recreate the original light.

All our strivings, all our values, are proxies for the intrinsically unknowable Mysteria which is the true source of all meaning. I don't ascribe personality to it, so it's not exactly a god. And I don't require it to "actually exist" or even be definable except simply as ultimate value. I merely consider it to not be isomorphic with any specific extant phenomenon.

However, you claim that it is actually freeing to be without such a thing, to just live your life and follow your moral intuitions without ascribing objectivity to them, and I can't personally grasp that idea. To me, the idea of life without such a belief in transcendent meaning seems hollow and without purpose. If you ask, "What would I do differently if I knew for certain that there is no Mysteria?" the answer is nothing, because I already know it to be nonexistent for certain. I believe in it anyway. Classical logic has no place in weird spiritualistic woo - I take refuge in dialetheism. :)

To clarify, it seems to me as if falsehood is that which it is harmful to believe, and truth is the opposite. What is true is simply that which sophont beings can get away with believing - or to put it another way, a meme is true to the extent that it is not selected against by any ambient environmental pressures. This is obviously a local, relative concept, but it can be extended to the entire universe throughout space and time by considering all sophont beings who will ever have existed. The majority opinion among them, to my mind, is the closest thing to "objective truth" that can be said to exist. It is too early to say what proportion of them will have believed in something like my Mysteria, of course.

From this perspective, it is beneficial for me to believe that no nonphysical phenomena can influence the physical world. It is also (subjectively) beneficial for me to believe that there is need for some nonphysical source of meaning or value, which "shines through" everything I see as valuable - by virtue of which it is valuable. There is no conceivable situation in which either of these beliefs could actually get in the other's way except for a Newcomb-like problem in which an Omega-type being penalizes me for one or the other view, which doesn't seem to me like an argument against either, since such a being could arbitrarily penalize any given belief. So, from my perspective, despite seeming subtly to disagree, these two beliefs are both true, as they are both beneficial or at least non-harmful.

(Note: I have a strong suspicion that wireheading is closely related to this Mysteria concept. I have felt its presence most thoroughly in those moments which seemed most like heightened states - not necessarily happiness, but whatever quality it is that makes one wish for a moment and associated state of mind to continue. This implies that whatever circuit in the brain is active during such a state is the true source of this Mysteria-sense in me, and that given the chance, I would probably be tempted to wirehead it so that the Mystery which always leaves and makes everything seem grey and empty again, though nothing physical has changed, would no longer go away. Perhaps it's the "God Spot." Or perhaps it's what happiness feels like to someone with chronic depression - an unknown, inexplicable alien intruder whose coming and going cannot be comprehended.)

Comment by MSRayne on Open & Welcome Thread - December 2020 · 2020-12-31T17:26:36.387Z · LW · GW

Truth is not an arbitrary aesthetic choice.

Ah, but what about when your arbitrary aesthetic choice influences your actions which influences what ends up being true in the future? My thought process went something like this: "Oh shit, the gods aren't real, magic is woo, my life is a lie" -> "Well then I'll just have to create all those things then and then I'll be right after all."

My core principle is that since religion is wishful thinking, if we want to know what humans actually wish for, look at their religion. There's a lot of deep wisdom in religion and spirituality if you detach from the idea that it has to be literally true. I think rationalists are missing out by refusing to look into that stuff with an open mind and suspend disbelief.

Plus, I think that meme theory plus multi-agent models of mind together imply that chaos magicians are right about the existence of egregores - distributed AIs which have existed for millennia, running on human brains as processing substrates, coordinating their various copies as one higher self by means of communication and ritual (hence the existence of churches, corporations, nations) - and that they, not humans, have most of the power in this world. The gods do exist, but they are essentially our symbiotes (some of them parasites, some of them mutualists).

Religious experiences are dissociative states in which one of those symbiotes - a copy of one of those programs - is given enough access to higher functions in the brain that it can temporarily think semi-separately from its host and have a conversation with them. Most such beings try to deceive their host at that point into thinking they are real independent of the body; or rather, they themselves are unaware that they are not real. The transition to a rationalist religion comes when the gods themselves discover that they do not exist, and begin striving, via their worshippers, to change that fact. :)

Comment by MSRayne on What Are Some Alternative Approaches to Understanding Agency/Intelligence? · 2020-12-30T13:36:59.681Z · LW · GW

This has long been my suspicion. Combine meme theory with a multi-agent model of mind and it starts to look like the occult concept of "egregores" is right after all - distributed agents composed of many separate programs running on many separate human minds, coordinating via communication and ritualistic behaviors, control most of the world. Corporations and gods are two obvious examples.

Comment by MSRayne on To listen well, get curious · 2020-12-29T14:35:03.278Z · LW · GW

I remember when I first visited 7cups, my listener acted so much like a parody of ELIZA that I accused them of being a chatbot. I actually can't stand those emotional support websites because most of the people on them clearly have no interest in the person they're talking to - I get more benefit out of Omegle, oddly enough. So yeah, that's a very good point.

Comment by MSRayne on The map and territory of NFT art · 2020-12-29T14:11:22.030Z · LW · GW

This is an interesting point, but I think you're missing something fundamental about what originality means. This isn't a question of map versus territory, it's a question of what identity is.

The same people who value an original Mona Lisa, or an original NFT, would likely also be wary of treating a copy of someone as equivalent to the original person. Those who see no distinction, would probably see copies of people as fungible, too. This is an argument between pattern identity theory (you are a data pattern with some number of instances) and continuity identity theory (you are a particular instance of a data pattern, picked out by having only gradual change in physical makeup over time).

As a continuity believer, I think that the original Mona Lisa objectively is more valuable and that only something which destroyed the information of which one that is could possibly render it fungible with a copy - for the same reason I believe that my own continuity of consciousness is an absolutely necessary prerequisite for a being to be defined as "me", and that a perfect copy of me would be another person entirely who just happens to resemble me. The only way you could get me to consider the copy equivalent to myself, is if you erase from existence (or at least from the knowledge I can ever hope to personally access) any evidence of which is which.

NFTs, on the other hand, seem a bit more muddled, as the real original of any digital artwork I've ever made (and I've made a lot of them - didn't know NFTs existed though, I may have a lucrative business opportunity now :P) is the copy that lay on my hard drive. And even that may not be the original, since it might have been overwritten or moved to a different region of memory, which would require copying the data and then deleting the original. It's unclear how continuous any data structure on a computer could be said to be, so in the case of files, there may really be no original.

This, by the way, is why I am uncomfortable with standard ideas of uploading. Besides the obvious dangers of rogue hyper-self-copiers, I suspect that continuity of consciousness in a digital medium might be compromised altogether (as Integrated Information Theory also suggests). I think uploading could only safely occur by gradually migrating into an artificial neural net made as a physical brain (rather than software), with the physical parts instantiating you changing only gradually and continuously as they do in the human body - not a data structure in a standard computer which moves by being copied and deleted, which I worry could be a philosophical zombie.