Archive for March, 2016

Techno-Immortalist Delusion

Dmitry Itskov wants to live forever, and thinks that uploading his mind into a computer will somehow help with that.

It sounds preposterous, but there is no doubting the seriousness of this softly spoken 35-year-old, who says he left the business world to devote himself to something more useful to humanity. “I’m 100% confident it will happen. Otherwise I wouldn’t have started it,” he says.

The proposed technology might be plausible (I suspect it is eventually inevitable), but it has nothing whatsoever to do with immortality, except insofar as such ambitions incentivize its development. It’s profoundly confused.

“If you could replicate the mind and upload it into a different material, you can in principle clone minds,” says [Columbia University neurobiologist Prof Rafael] Yuste. “These are complicated issues because they deal with the core of defining what is a person.”

No, if you could replicate the mind and upload it onto a different material substrate all you could possibly be doing would be cloning a mind. The clone could be persuaded to identify with you — this would perhaps be inescapable given what it is (a high-fidelity copy), and thus the delusion of immortality might be perpetuated. The original, however, is going to die just as much as it was before being copied.

The truly interesting question, given the scrambling of the metaphysics of personal identity which would surely follow from such advances, is: What exactly dies anyway? (If — even as a baseline human — you’re in reality continuously reconstructed, and hence a distantly-descended copy of yourself, you’ve probably already done a lot more dying than you think.)


March 14, 2016admin 46 Comments »

Chaos Patch (#105)

(Open thread + links)

Metaculture. The global polyhedron (1, 2). Fake flights from selection. Mandatory participation in providence. Cropped-back ‘concerns‘. The asymmetric spectrum. Raw power. Mind-control. Uncontrolled government (is cancer). Hoppe against democracy (podcast). The weekly round (the SSC link-fest).

The “war on western lifestyle” [*facepalm*]. Droned. Submarine Karachi? SA mark-down. Europe raped (1, 2) rightwards (1, 2, 3). Canadian immigration madness. Multicultural knots. Where it could end. China in Djibouti. The inevitability of war (plus). Weakness provokes aggression (1, 2). Democracy and globalization in retreat. End of Neoconservatism.

Price discovery on Rohypnol. The metallic break-point. Trust destruction. Panic at the ECB. SF versus tech. Oil economics. Surveillance capitalism.

Trumpenführer panic report (1, 2, 3, 4). Street politics (plus). Revolution 2.0. “… the GOP would obviously prefer to lose the election rather than have Trump win” (note). Racial politics. Signs of sympathy (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8). Ditch and switch. An upside-down version of the Outsideness strategy for leftists. Trump in context (1, 2, 3).

America’s four parties. “In order to accelerate the collapse, the best president will be the person who is the most corrupt, the most pro-government and most anti-liberty.”

Twitter and beyond. Cli-fi. #TheTriggering (plus). Politicized science (video). The diversity scam.

IQ matters more. Han genetics. The $999 genome. Biology goes ape. Psychology in crisis (1, 2, 3). What should a theory of consciousness look like? Genius geno-tech (video). Faith in evolution.

AI beats LSD (1, 2, 3), but the human resistance wins one (+). Eye-to-claw coordination (via). Scalable quantum computation update. A micropayments marketplace. Fear of blockchains.

Largest object in the cosmos? Bacterial electro-communication. CRISPR revolution. Boneless (video). Isolation.

Productive philosophy. The Omega visionary. Its from bits. Enlightenment to entanglement. In defense of boredom.

March 13, 2016admin 24 Comments »
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Quote note (#230)


Things are going to get a lot more ugly, before this is over. This is high amygdala, on all sides, from the conservatives who can’t take the delusions that are leading us to doom and failure, to the liberals who are panicking and breaking mentally, as reality becomes unavoidable.

As crazy as it is to contemplate, this is barely a smidgen into the apocalypse. We are still swimming in wealth compared to what is to come.

When the real apocalypse hits, I’d bet on mortality, and a fair amount of it.

March 13, 2016admin 13 Comments »
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Diamond and Silk


More socio-ideological scrambling. Camille Paglia describes them as a ‘revelation‘, linking to this one. (They’ve done a bunch.) Their latest is on the Chicago disorder. Their David Duke commentary is also a thing of wonder.

Here they are with the Donald, and doing Fox.

This is Saturday popcorn material, but it’s not short of discussion potential. Their lopsided double act is a piece of artistry (as the Fox piece makes clear).

“Choo-choo that train to glory!”

They have to be driving more than a few people nuts.

March 12, 2016admin 7 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Pass the popcorn

Twitter cuts (#53)

(Here‘s the HN thread.)

ADDED: “… the Google subsidiary’s AlphaGo program is far from its only project — it’s not even the main one. As co-founder Demis Hassabis said earlier in the week, DeepMind wants to ‘solve intelligence,’ and he has more than a few ideas about how to get there. …”

March 11, 2016admin 13 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Discriminations

General Intelligence

This still crops up occasionally as a ‘controversial concept’ so it’s worth putting up a quick-and-easy docking-port to the informed mainstream position.

… the evidentiary base regarding the existence of general intelligence and its ability to predict important life outcomes — including health, longevity and mortality, as well as other key variables — is beyond compelling, it’s overwhelming. And if you find yourself feeling like you can do damage to this evidence base by invoking arguments about “multiple intelligences” or something of the sort, let me save you the effort. Those urges illustrate unfamiliarity with any of the serious research done on the topic in the last several decades. If those urges haunt you, I’d recommend Stuart Ritchie’s excellent primer on the topic. The waters of intelligence research, though controversial, no longer require that you be Magellan to navigate them. As we will see below, however, it is only one small step from banal psychometric work on IQ, to the mother-load of academic controversy. Stay tuned. …

For most here this will be redundant. The next (edgier) stage will also be redundant. It’s posted here almost as much in appreciation of its exasperated tone as for its linkage.

Gottfredson, cited in the post is the author of ‘Mainstream Science on Intelligence’ (1994), still after more than two decades probably the best short primer. The Wikipedia summary is here (with some commentary, and useful linkage).

March 11, 2016admin 9 Comments »

Quote note (#229)

Some discussion scrambling from ‘Spengler’ (arguing that “Neoconservatives are not Zionists”):

Asian observers try to understand American politics in rational terms. When the chips are down, the neo-conservative movement has nothing to do with American power, or with Mideast oil, or with Israel. It is a cult that believes that democratic institutions as such are the solution to the world’s problems, and will continue to believe this no matter how much evidence accumulates to the contrary. It is a well-defined cult, with a network of academic gurus and a standard literature, including (but not limited) to the late Prof. Leo Strauss. Like all cults, it bands together to defend its illusions against its enemies, even if those enemies are friends of Israel. One might call the neo-conservatives the Cult of Rationalism. That is, they are obsessed by an irrational faith in rationalism, and will do manifestly irrational things to defend their obsession from the cruel depradations of the real world. They are also willing to throw Israel’s interests under the bus.

As he notes previously (and more topically) in the article:

Trump notoriously has said that America could work with Russia’s Vladimir Putin against terrorists, and argued that toppling Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi benefited the terrorists. One cannot quite say that Trump paints with a broad brush; rather, he throws the bucket of paint against the wall. But the neo-conservatives’ defining dogma is to undermine dictators and promote democracy. Trump’s view is closer to that of the Israeli consensus. Israel is pragmatic, generally preferring the Arab dictatorships to the chaos that replaced them. Israel’s relations with Russia are complex but generally good, especially in operational matters in Syria.

March 10, 2016admin 34 Comments »
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Comment Odd*ty

As most have no doubt noticed, every instance of the lower case ‘i’ has mysteriously disappeared from the comments here.

They are still all there in the back-end, except for one NBS comment March 3rd, 2016 at 7:02 pm. I’m not picking on that as patient zero, just noting. (Sending that particular comment to the trash didn’t resolve the problem, so I fished it back out.)

I’ve absolutely no idea why this is happening. I guess if it’s some point being made about the elimination of the empirical ego it’s vaguely amusing in a profoundly irritating way.

If anybody has ever come across anything like this before, please let me know. Hints at a possible solution would, of course, be even more welcome.

ADDED: Thanks to TJEL for helping to get this sorted out. (Not an especially proud moment for WordPress, it turns out. Relieved it wasn’t a maniac hacker. Carry on.)

March 10, 2016admin 19 Comments »

Quote note (#228)

Steve Hsu on the genetics of intelligence:

… the largest effect size [from a single allele] researchers have been able to detect thus far is less than a single point of IQ. Larger effect sizes would have been much easier to detect, but have not been seen. […] This means that there must be at least thousands of IQ alleles to account for the actual variation seen in the general population. A more sophisticated analysis (with large error bars) yields an estimate of perhaps 10,000 in total.*

Each genetic variant slightly increases or decreases cognitive ability. Because it is determined by many small additive effects, cognitive ability is normally distributed, following the familiar bell-shaped curve, with more people in the middle than in the tails. A person with more than the average number of positive (IQ-increasing) variants will be above average in ability. The number of positive alleles above the population average required to raise the trait value by a standard deviation — that is, 15 points — is proportional to the square root of the number of variants, or about 100. In a nutshell, 100 or so additional positive variants could raise IQ by 15 points. […] Given that there are many thousands of potential positive variants, the implication is clear: If a human being could be engineered to have the positive version of each causal variant, they might exhibit cognitive ability which is roughly 100 standard deviations above average. This corresponds to more than 1,000 IQ points. […] It is not at all clear that IQ scores have any meaning in this range. However, we can be confident that, whatever it means, ability of this kind would far exceed the maximum ability among the approximately 100 billion total individuals who have ever lived. …

* Hsu, S.D.H. On the genetic architecture of intelligence and other quantitative traits. Preprint arXiv:1408.3421 (2014).

March 9, 2016admin 41 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Discriminations
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Twitter cuts (#52)

Responding to this (Outsideness) twitter-stream:
The transcendental self is not the empirical person, Kant argues, though confusion of the two is a reliable anthropological fact. … ‘Sovereignty’ demands disciplined critique on exactly these lines. Monarchical theater is (exactly) a naive image of ‘the sovereign’. … Moldbug is clear that the ‘monarch’ (state CEO) is an agent of sovereignty, and not the sovereign ‘himself’. … The LARPing loved by romantic reaction, and derided by the Left, dwells entirely within this rigorously identifiable philosophical error. … Sovereignty is no less a profound philosophical enigma than the transcendental self, the prompt for an exploration of vast difficulty. … “We know what a sovereign looks like.” — It is scarcely possible to imagine a delusion of greater absurdity.

Something of greater articulacy is clearly called for, but the kernel would be unchanged. ‘Sovereignty’ is the translation of the transcendental into the realm of political philosophy. This is why, even for atheists, the Idea of Divine Right sovereign legitimacy is a superior point of departure than mere charismatic leadership.

March 8, 2016admin 33 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction