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.
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.
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.
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.)
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)
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.
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?
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.
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:
embeddedness in a small tribe where everyone knows everyone else
the expectation of having a loving mate and healthy family
spiritual connection with a symbolically rich world of mythology (which need not be materially “real” in order to be valuable)
veneration for the ancestors and the mighty dead, with recognition of oneself as a continuation of their being and as indebted to them
a sufficiently simple local reality that it can be modeled, understood, and predicted without information overload
emotional connection with nonhuman organisms, ecosystems, and the land in a web of respectful, honorable give and take
capacity for self-reliance and individual responsibility for survival and flourishing
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.
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.
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.)
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. :)
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.
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.
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.
Depth-first search is the right approach to reading a math textbook.
That’s a great point! I never explicitly thought of it like that but it’s clearly true now that you mention it. And not just math—nearly any scientific writing has the same quality where lack of knowledge about one idea or principle ruins your ability to understand any of it—these are examples of those “complex machines” which break if any part doesn’t work.
A friend of mine mentioned that reading Wikipedia tends to be like your second example—going depth-first (chasing links) instead of breadth-first when trying to learn about a topic. You end up with a hundred tabs and no smarter than you were before. That’s another failure mode where a breadth-first method like your note taking system presents advantages.
Then, let’s say, it could add an yaml heading with tags to each of the notes in the format, compatible with the Nested Tags VSCode extension. In theory, we could also adjust the graph visualization extension to show the overview of notes, but it would be trickier. Would it be what you need?
I have no idea. Unfortunately I am not a programmer and I’m not familiar with any of those things. You probably should explain it in terms of what I can do with it and how rather than talking about specific libraries etc; the most coding I am familiar with is mathematical algorithms in Python.
Even the idea that variations in moral intuition matter is probably one which is nowhere near universal. After all, most cultures think their moral values are the True ones and don’t care about any others. I’m not sure what to do with that fact, but it’s something I noticed.
Perhaps this could be turned into an exercise in mindful eating. I remember reading a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn years ago about mindfulness, which had a section on mindful eating, which I did find makes me enjoy food more and be more satisfied after eating, but it’s rather hard to maintain the habit and to be mindful enough. Striving to pay enough attention to the experience of eating that you can write something like this, though, every time you eat anything, could be a good mindfulness practice—and enable you to act like a pretentious food blogger, which for some people is a plus.