Category Archives: Uncategorized

Uno: Seize the Maximal Information Density Decision (MIDD)

This is an Uno

Seize the Maximal Information Density Decision (MIDD)

1) What is it

Instead of trying to learn and decide how to do things, and to continuously update your decision, abstract one layer above yourself and think of all the possible moments that decision will have to potentially be made. Focus and concentrate on deciding in the moment with maximal information density.

2) Practical example

You want to Continue reading Uno: Seize the Maximal Information Density Decision (MIDD)

How Much Money Does 1 Hour of Happiness Cost?

Today, while envisioning my future endeavor Evolving with G I once again turned on that part of the brain that goes nuts over how much money it is good to have, when, and for what. It was a pretty personal day, and I was mostly attuned to my emotional goals, not the external world ones. So this is what came into mind:

Money I need = Price of Happiness/Hour * Hours I will live

Luckily Continue reading How Much Money Does 1 Hour of Happiness Cost?

The Inescapability of My Altruism

In 2013 I was done with Utilitarianism. The “this is too demanding” objection was taking my bones, and I expressed it in a private message to some close friends.

In 2016 I realized that my behavior that attempts to help most others is a deeper and different part of my mind than the part that processes moral convictions, or moral intuitions. It is a preference. These two texts exhibit a kind of inescapability of the altruistic soul. Even after I dropped the moral duty card, after I dropped the moral requirement card, a few years later, I was writing about how I prefer to behave in a way that resembles a lot the utilitarian prescribed way, irrespective of my acceptance of utilitarianism as a moral theory. So here are these two reflections.

2013

I’ve had it with Utilitarianism.

I no longer am a Utilitarian.

Here is why: Continue reading The Inescapability of My Altruism

Examples of Moral Economics Concepts

Moral Economics Concepts

On the shoulders of: Altruistic Arbitrage, Certificates of Impact, Cognitive Load and Effective Donation, Coordination Problems for Donations, Donation Swapping, International Donation Trade, Direct Funding for EAs and especially Moral Trade.

Special thanks to Ryan Carey, Ben Hoskin and Leo Arruda for ideas and corrections.

In these writings we propose the creation of a subfield of knowledge, Moral Economics, and provide in broad strokes its characteristics. We assemble previous writings that can be considered prospective subfields. We also discuss several concepts that have been developed in recent years that are instrumentally useful for Moral Economic thinking, and propose several new ones that could also bear fruit if Continue reading Examples of Moral Economics Concepts

#37 Try Harder

Recent challenges were going pretty well. 

I was writing three academic paragraphs a day, which is an amazing feat compared to my previous productivity score. 

Then I gave a lot of thought to the concept of “leveling up” 

I wanted to level up. So I gave me a harder challenge. Actually running through my to do list value-per-hour in order of value per hour. I am not satisfied with the results, even though I did do it intermittently  Continue reading #37 Try Harder

Introducing Moral Economics

Moral Economics

On the shoulders of: Altruistic Arbitrage, Certificates of Impact, Cognitive Load and Effective Donation, Coordination Problems for Donations, Donation Swapping, International Donation Trade, Direct Funding for EAs and specially Moral Trade.

Special thanks to Ryan Carey, Ben Hoskin and Leo Arruda for ideas and corrections.

Crossposted at diegocaleiro.com

In these writings we propose the creation of a subfield of knowledge, Moral Economics, and provide in broad strokes its characteristics. We assemble previous writings that can be considered prospective subfields. We also discuss several concepts that have been developed in recent years that are instrumentally useful for Moral Economic thinking, and propose several new ones that could also bear fruit if the study of this area develops further in the future. Continue reading Introducing Moral Economics

#38 Follow the to-do list value per hour

#40 One cold call a day keeps the doctor away was, overall, interesting. I ended up calling many people in bulk to compensate for the many days I didn’t actually call people but should have. 

Due to legal questions I had, many of those people ended up being lawyers, who are well trained to have conversations in which information is exchanged (they are also well trained to conceal information, but had no reason to do so with me). 

I feel more comfortable calling people, and consider the experiment to be a partial success. I didn’t call many continents nor famous random people because that didn’t seem like it was needed, or because their phones were hard to find, but if I had a good reason to want to call someone like that now, I probably would be many times more likely to actually follow through with it. Continue reading #38 Follow the to-do list value per hour

#39 Write 3 academic paragraphs a weekday!

#40 One cold call a day keeps the doctor away has been interesting so far. I’ve felt more comfortable calling bureocratic places, ordering food, talking to family members I had no strong intention to talk to, among others. I haven’t yet done many stronger cold calls like slightly of very famous people I know that I have something to ask about. Maybe a commitment here would be nice. Let me try to think of some people to call: 

Sam Harriss

Natalie Portman 

Molly Crocket

My aunt

Jerry Feldman

Person who contacts Max Brockman

Larry Ellison

Tim Ferriss 

Hilary Putnam

mood-writing

Writer by compulsion. Constrained by time limits. 

This month I’ll try to act on a classic thing everyone worries about and procrastinates. Writing. I’ve been writing a lot but not in a very structured manner. #39 This month I will write 3 paragraphs about one of the academic topics below outside of the house every day. I wrote two articles of a more academic tone, several blog posts ranging from completely trivial to deeply philosophical, and a meditation on dieting. Basically I’ve been writing a lot of output, but a complete disorganized mess that doesn’t align well with my goals. Now let’s see what I actually want to be writing:

  • My article creating the field of Moral Economics, for the EA world.
  • Our article on murphy-jitsuing the Singleton with João Fabiano, the beggining of a quest to kill Moloch. I’ve been thinking a lot about my long term goals and interesting paths to pursue, and so far my main conclusion is that I want to kill Moloch (the awful structure of incentives that, in spite of everyone’s desires to the contrary, ruins the world).
  • Things that can become my book Altruism: Past, present, propagation.
  • Continuing my AGI proposal Imparting Moral Concepts to Artificial General Intelligences.
  • Challenge posts here in this blog.

When I see the list above and think of the expected number of hours of work that goes into all of these (4120 to be exact) it becomes very confusing to me how do I even consider the possibility of EVER responding an email at any email group, no matter how brilliant (biosemiotics, CFAR, theories of everything, etc…). I only have 250 000 hours to live. That means that only counting these projects accounts for 1.6% of my expected waking life. It is a sobering thought given how much time I waste doing “writing things” as ineffective as posts in Facebook groups, random stuff at the EA forum, and a bunch of other media. And that is just considering writing, which is itself considered a productive activity.

It is time to level-up. I can’t know the amount of things I know and continue thinking it is ok for me to write about, say, polyamory, politics, facebook posts, etc…. If I anticipate that I will write only for about 20 to 40 000 hours in the future, I clearly have to prioritize not only topics, but also writing styles, media and so on. I can’t waste as many words as I have been wasting on Gchat box, email replies and arguing against people who won’t change their minds or don’t have the skill necessary to learn things fast enough. Whether I want it or not, the world and I have a deadline. Either the Superintelligence will come or I will die, and in both events I won’t be able to write anymore, so there is no point in pretending that writing is a free space of infinite opportunity and no regulation. I’d better get to the point.

Against Process Philosophy

Disclaimer: this is a text about Process Philosophy, the set of philosophical theories in which everything is in time and time plays a fundamental constitutive role in the nature of being. Dynamics takes precedence over static and so on.

If you found the disclaimer intriguing, you may enjoy the writing, if you found it boring and don’t care about philosophy, skip it.

Why Process Philosophy

After taking in that the Incomplete Nature project is like a Lakatos Core Belt epistemically, if not a full blown system, in the philosophical sense of system, I decided some weeks ago to understand what Deacon means by emergence by studying Bateson and process by studying Whitehead. Usually the word “emergence” can be substituted by “magic” without loss of information, but I know Deacon knows better, so I went to the source. Process can only sometimes be substituted by “magic” without loss of information, it normally means something, but I wanted to zero-in on what Deacon means by it, and so there too I went to the source, Alfred North Whitehead (the other guy in Principia Mathematica),
Bateson was extremely productive and I have used it a lot already, and expect to continue to do so.
Whitehead needs steelmanning, badly so. 
Whitehead however is very hard to steelman  (the opposite of strawman, that is, trying to create the best version of).
Whitehead is a confusing and terrible writer, who states things as if self evident and frequently enmeshes his ideas together with his ideas about religiosity, which are a product of Victorian England + some version of positivism much more than a product of reasoning.
Gladly there are procedures to execute in cases like this. I can read other people who steel-manned him better, so I went ahead to the Stanford encyclopedia of Philosophy and read Whitehead, and Process Philosophy and also checked one or two links online. It was better than the Process and Reality Book, but still not compelling at all.
As a last resort, I’m showing my understanding of process philosophy below and asking, if you know any better arguments that I haven’t found, if you could steelman it in a way that would make it more attractive.
The Leaky Monads theory of reality
Whitehead has an “all window” view of reality, which many commentators describe as being like Leibniz’s Monads, because containing all the world, while at the same time open instead of closed. A monad with a window, or, better, a monad that is all window.
This view I had seen endorsed first in “The Doors of Perception” where Huxley praises that conception because it seems to him that mescalin opens more access to reality, and for that to be true, some version of metaphysics where everything is connected to everything else has to be true, and what needs explanation would be why we have these brains and bodies that deprive us of the natural state of full contact with everything. Basically Huxley had motivated cognition after having a great drug based experience to pretend that the experience was revealing more and deeper aspects of reality, and the idea that our sensory parts and nervous systems are “filters”  blocking out the possibility of universal binding suited his desired bottom line very well.
Numbers as subtance-less relata
The natural number 2 illustrates some interesting toy aspects of what I think moves minds like Whitehead’s. You can’t have 2 without getting all the other numbers and operations with it. 2 is 2 in virtue of being half of 4, twice 1, the cubic root of 8, 34-32, the number of Pi’s necessary to make a radius as long as it’s circle, and a bunch of other things. There is no 2 without Peano’s axioms (or an equivalent set of axioms that determines the same extension). The natural 2 is nothing but the set of relations it holds to the other natural numbers. Like a castle of cards, you can’t take 2 out and have the rest of the structure standing, being 2 is just the relative position of the card in the castle.
The Real number 2 is different but equally vacuous of substance and constituted uniquely by relations to other real numbers.
In that regard, 2 is a lot like southwest.
Metaphysics of total relation
Maybe then that also holds of all entities in this world of ours, maybe all things are in their relation to other things as well.
Coming from a man who dedicated 8 years to writing Principia Mathematica, this is just what I would expect.
However that seems empirically false. It is a Metonymic fallacy. Though some things like numbers have conditional dependencies on constructs of which they are parts, there are limits which separate these domains completely.
… and where it breaks. 
Color has dimensions which all need to be together, hue, chromaticness, and brightness. You can’t make a color that has the first two but not the third, for the same reasons you can’t make a 3 without a 4. But you can definitely make a color without a number, and vice versa. These are what your Gärdenfors calls separate conceptual domains. Sotala (2015c):

Gärdenfors defines two quality dimensions to be integral if a value cannot be given for an object on one dimension without also giving it a value for the other dimension: for example, an object cannot be given a hue value without also giving it a brightness value. Dimensions that are not integral with each other are separable. A conceptual domain is a set of integral dimensions that are separable from all other dimensions: for example, the three color-dimensions form the domain of color.

From these definitions, Gärdenfors develops a theory of concepts where more complicated conceptual spaces can be formed by combining lower-level domains. Concepts, then, are particular regions in these conceptual spaces: for example, the concept of “blue” can be defined as a particular region in the domain of color. Notice that the notion of various combinations of basic perceptual domains making more complicated conceptual spaces possible fits well together with the models discussed in our previous definition. There more complicated concepts were made possible by combining basic neural representations for e.g. different sensory modalities.

So it seems to me false that the constitutive aspects of things require relation to all other things, and it seems that Whitehead thinks so because he thought about principia mathematica for too long, not because he would naturally arrive at that conclusion if he knew present day cognitive science, and could see the math domain from the outside.
Length in time and Reality
Then there is the question of whether things can only be in time or not. This argument loses a lot of force if we concede that actually not everything is connected to everything by some (different) relations.
To me this question is either ill-posed or useless.
 If we are asking the substantive question of what has more reality, what is permanent in time (such as some intensional properties in physics, art according to Nietzche in Human all too human, or what some symbols stand for, or types) or what is ephemeral in time (Heraclitus’s flow, the ever-changing wavefunction, tokens in phil of mind) the question seems ill posed. We know that ephemeral things come and go, and stable things stay a little longer, and sometimes are instantiated again elsewhere or elsewhen, there is no further fact which would determine which of these deserves more reality than the other. If we know what ephemeral means, and we know what permanence means, and we can label stuff we encounter correctly with these labels, we are done. There is no further work to distinguish to what degree what is more or less real.
When codes, labels, language, and evolution agree that something is not worth mentioning. 
The more permanent stuff definitely seems to depend on time to be what it is – say, an Ox or an Axe. That however is just because we
1) are only able to label stuff that lasts a while
2) Can only communicate about stuff that could be re-instantiated
3) we and evolution only care about what sticks around, no reason to pay attention to what doesn’t.
So there seem to be both fleeting things and more permanent things, and we can only label and talk about the more permanent stuff, which is not to be confused with ‘only the entities that are in time are real”, it’s just that those are the only ones that matter.
This is the first ground to say that process philosophy isn’t useful.
The second ground is more interesting: Because the process of labeling and coding stuff (which would be called prehension and differentiation possibly within the process paradigm) is what generated enormous scientific progress, computers, analytic philosophy, linguistics, psychology, cognitive science, memetics among others, it has a decent track record as a good way to think about the world in order to find out new interesting things. As a core belt and a research program, it has generated a lot of benefit.
Contrasting that with holistic perspectives, and process philosophy, whose only claims are of the form “If you label X time-less-ly you have failed to capture the reality of X”.  What has this type of program achieved? Nearly nothing. It is reminiscent of Hegel, Bergson, Heidegger. It doesn’t create a niche that people can explore in order to have a more accurate understanding. It just casts an emotion upon the senses which says “yes, yes! this is right!” and then shuts down curiosity lane and discovery avenue. It is a curiosity stop-sign.
Feynman said once that if all knowledge would be destroyed but he could send one message to the future people, he would send the notion of (1) atomism, the sense that all large things are made of smaller, identical things.
That is amazing, because in fact, they are not. (2) Things are made of chromodynamic clouds spread over abstract conceptual spaces with continuously decreasing amounts of entanglement to other things elsewhere in the universe.
Idea (2) may not be the ultimate reality, but it certainly is more true than (1). However (2) is not actionable in any way. It doesn’t do anything
That is how I feel about process philosophy. Even if it is true, it  is not conducive to knowledge acquisition except as a guiding star intuition.
It has been relegated to a footnote in the history of philosophy, and I would say correctly so, like a note in passing: “Oh, and by the way, most things, and nearly all things that matter are only in time, and dynamic descriptions would be the only way to fully capture them. However because of the way information processing and memory storage works, in humans and in computers, we will continue using labels and maps, we will continuing using the language of code, and just talk and act on the more permanent stuff that can actually be labeled and manipulated.”