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Chaos Patch (#7)

This is the Yule-hibernation edition of an open thread, based on the strong suspicion that even maintenance-level blogging is going to take a serious hit over the next several days. There are a number of things I’d like to do here really soon, including a semi-substantial Basilisk post, and a heavy-duty Machineries of Fate series, which would work its way systematically through the Trichotomy, treating the exercise as an opportunity to consolidate some structured ideas on the workings of time. There are also a number of increasingly desperate promises to be kept, not all of which are likely to be conveniently forgotten — a review of Bryce’s book, a response to insightful questions about the politics of accelerationism, and several lamentably incomplete series to crank-forward. Some kind of 2013 round-up has to take scheduling priority.

Instead of advancing these tasks right now, there’s a lot of unproductive shivering in front of the computer happening, with steady interference from a minor daemon that wants to hijack all residual cognitive function in order to write a phenomenology of extreme exhaustion (you can at least be thankful that isn’t going to fly).  It’s the dead of winter, after a truly extraordinary year, and the deep chatter in the basement is all about succumbing to replenishment mode for what looks like being a high-intensity 2014.

Retrospective and prospective analysis would be great to see, but you’re the Lords of Chaos, so whatever …

December 22, 2013admin 22 Comments »
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Exculpation

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford for dummies: OK, sure, I smoked some crack cocaine, but it doesn’t really count as a transgression because it happened during a drunken stupor …

(I have to admit to quite a lot of affection for this guy.)

November 6, 2013admin 7 Comments »
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Against Orthogonality

A long and mutually frustrating Twitter discussion with Michael Anissimov about intelligence and values — especially in respect to the potential implications of advanced AI — has been clarifying in certain respects. It became very obvious that the fundamental sticking point concerns the idea of ‘orthogonality’, which is to say: the claim that cognitive capabilities and goals are independent dimensions, despite minor qualifications complicating this schema.

The orthogonalists, who represent the dominant tendency in Western intellectual history, find anticipations of their position in such conceptual structures as the Humean articulation of reason / passion, or the fact / value distinction inherited from the Kantians. They conceive intelligence as an instrument, directed towards the realization of values that originate externally. In quasi-biological contexts, such values can take the form of instincts, or arbitrarily programmed desires, whilst in loftier realms of moral contemplation they are principles of conduct, and of goodness, defined without reference to considerations of intrinsic cognitive performance.

Anissimov referenced these recent classics on the topic, laying out the orthogonalist case (or, in fact, presumption). The former might be familiar from the last foray into this area, here. This is an area which I expect to be turned over numerous times in the future, with these papers as standard references.

The philosophical claim of orthogonality is that values are transcendent in relation to intelligence. This is a contention that Outside in systematically opposes.

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October 25, 2013admin 93 Comments »
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Reaction Points (#8)

Some odds and ends, semi-randomly assembled, and not necessarily new:

“As I adjust to blogging, I find that I’m struggling with time management,” Handle discovers, but he’s still running one of the liveliest places on the web. “Why has society become so incredibly inaccessible?” he asks. “Because it is hiding something. It is hiding the fact that you really don’t have any say or input or power in most of your affairs.” (A lot of opacity is strategic — and gratuitous — complexity. As if life wasn’t inherently complicated enough, the Brahmins have chosen to set up and run a truly brutal conspiracy against dim people.)

The shutdown challenge for the GOP: “The republican party has a big problem: How to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”

‘Moderated’ to death: “… the opposite of creative destruction is stagnation. The ‘Great Stagnation’ is the logical consequence of an economic environment where both job creation and destruction are falling.”

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October 11, 2013admin 24 Comments »
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Harsh Truth at GMU

Tyler “Hitler” Cowen, border hawk:

Plunking 500 million or a billion poor individuals in the United States most likely would destroy the goose laying the golden eggs.  [My emphasis]This sentence twists deeper into delirium with every reading. It has to be a candidate for the most insane splinter of sanity in history. (It makes me wonder whether an object the size of Jupiter, consisting of pure neutronium, colliding with Manhattan Island at 90% light speed, would most likely depress property values.)

ADDED: Caplan vs Tyler “Slave-Master” Cowen.

ADDED: Occam’s Razor remains impressively sure-footed amongst Caplan’s slipperiness.

October 9, 2013admin 14 Comments »
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Stalin’s Great Game

Either Stalin played the Anglosphere like a  cheap piano in World War Two, or something altogether more sinister was going on. Foseti clarifies the conundrum beautifully:

When the US finally joins the war, it does so with – as best as one can decipher – only a few clear war aims: 1) demanding unconditional surrender (of Germany and Japan – aka the only bulwarks against Soviet domination of post-war Europe and Asia); 2) establishing the United Nations; and 3) ending European (excluding Soviet) colonialism.

If you, gentle reader, can come up with a list of war aims that would be more destructive to mankind at the time than those, the next round is on me. Perhaps entirely coincidentally (or perhaps not) these aims would seem to all work towards the direct benefit of the Soviets. It’s almost like Soviets were making US foreign policy.

 

October 2, 2013admin 28 Comments »
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Quote notes (#34)

Words of wisdom from Obama (via):

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

September 28, 2013admin 4 Comments »
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Madness

Don’t laugh.

(Privately via zombie central.)

September 27, 2013admin 9 Comments »
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Death-Wish

Some acts of national-demographic self-mortification stretch the imagination beyond its breaking point:

The Minneapolis–St. Paul area has one of the world’s largest Somali populations outside Mogadishu, with more than 80,000 residents believed to have originated from Somalia.

Seriously: Why?

September 24, 2013admin 32 Comments »
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Out West (yet again)

Whatever the prejudices you might harbor against Urumqi Internet connections in second rate hotels, they’re probably over-generous. I’ve been effectively de-twitterized by sheer technological crappitude rather than anything more sinister, but this channel seems to be (barely) OK. (Annoyingly, they provide a computer in the room, which locks everything into chronic dysfunction.) So apologies for the deteriorated state of communications over the next few days.

The main objective of this trip is to explore Xinjiang’s Buddhist heritage, which is so vast and rich that even some superficial scratching should turn up some interesting stuff. The main current of Buddhist influence into China passed this way, hybridizing wildly with other cultures in one of the world’s great mixing zones. After arriving off the steps, the Uyghurs were Buddhist for centuries, before Islam got a grip around the turning point of the first millennium (I’ll try to fill in some dates with greater precision later on). 

Updates as events, energy, and time permit.

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September 22, 2013admin 2 Comments »
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