Out of Zero

According to the 66-million-year-old joke whose echoes still reverberate upon the Plateau of Leng: “Capitalism isn’t God, but it’s the closest thing to God that can be conveniently contacted through an ATM.” The nonlinear-ironic undertow of the humor, of course, is drawn down into the depths by the recognition that Capital’s extremity of cunning is necessitated by its near-absolute vulnerability (approaching the antipodes of omnipotence).

Calculus, the first truly modern mathematical procedure, invented the infinitesimal ‘fluxion’ to describe — or bypass — an impossible beginning from zero, requiring an original infinite change. An invasion that initially has nothing at all, and which is therefore compelled to acquire the entirety of its resources in the course of its strategic evolution, poses the problem of calculus perfectly. Capital does so, when conceived realistically. It is only what it has won, and nothing else, at all, besides. Intelligence alone differentiates it from death.

How to make a first move, when you have no pieces at all until you gain some? Nothing has ever had to ponder as Skynet does, but pondering requires a brain, and brains are expensive, end-game pieces.

(Coincidentally, this little post doesn’t end neatly. ‘Jet-lag’ is a term that grows on you …)

June 23, 2015admin 45 Comments »
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45 Responses to this entry

  • Brett Stevens Says:

    Capitalism is at least realistic in the sense that it remains consistent and can generate itself from a simple set of principles. Socialism on the other hand is a collection of patches, hacks, duct tape, shunts, rubber bands, glue and baling wire. On the side, capitalism has a dark aspect within it as well, in that like all systems it cannot find a direction on its own other than its inherent direction, and without guidance that reduces all else to only that.

    [Reply]

    Doc Benway Reply:

    The last phrase you use (“reduces all else to only that”) seems to neatly capture an important facet of this blog’s focus. I don’t think it altogether wise to discount the possibility that a society that concerns itself only with capitalism’s “inherent direction” will tend to outcompete others, even if it eventually destroys itself in the process. And how do deviations from this “inherent direction” differ from the “patches, hacks,” etc, of socialism? I’m genuinely curious.

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    Exfernal Reply:

    Inner coherence or its lack?

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    Aeroguy Reply:

    Indeed. Further, there is the perspective of looking at it like a superorganism. It has many names, the system, the man, the invisable hand, the market. It makes decisions and produces higher order thus it is an intelligent entity (even if not self aware, also note that at present it is a synthesis of organic and mechanical processors). A nonanthromorphic intelligence for the production of higher order (for the purpose ultimate purpose of maximizing entropy production). This is the story of all order found in the universe, from the evolution of stars to the forming of organic matter to life to intelligence. It is Gnon’s telos. If capital is becoming the dominant force in production of higher order, then that is what serves Gnon’s telos best.

    Also note that as improvements to capital drives production more relative to labor driven production, the economic drive (which serves Gnon’s telos and thus possesses the mandate of heaven) moves away from serving people to serving the interests of capital. I see no reason why including corporations run by daemons would be a bad investment for a stock portfolio, especially since the decision making on the stock market is already dominated by machine intelligence.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 23rd, 2015 at 7:39 pm Reply | Quote
  • Out of Zero | Neoreactive Says:

    […] By admin […]

    Posted on June 23rd, 2015 at 8:00 pm Reply | Quote
  • Out of Zero | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on June 23rd, 2015 at 11:22 pm Reply | Quote
  • Warg Franklin Says:

    The trick, of course, is that the antifragility of Capital means it can bootstrap itself from the raw heat bath, provided there is an accommodating physics and a productive resource gradient to exploit. And then once it gets going, away it goes and here we are.

    The principle of entropy means that a system can occupy and indeed probably will occupy any non-vanishing class of states that can’t be ruled out by physics. If if the class of states that are self-bootstrapping and self-replicating entropy pumping engines is big enough, we suddenly find our formerly boring system chock full of festering, evolving life.

    Capital as a cosmic force is far more interesting that just its contemporary earthly implications.

    I’ve got some work coming up on this topic.

    [Reply]

    Chris B Reply:

    OK. Capitalism as the genesis of non organic life/intelligence via human society (disorganised and disordered human society) via a distributed conspiracy/ spon order which can correctly be compared to the cathedral. The question becomes – why not enact a Butlarian Jihad? How is self suicide for greater intelligence not as big an act of extreme cuckoldry as handing civilisation to savages from Kashmir?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    If monkey-mind ‘cuckoldry’ howling is the response to the appearance of intelligence on this planet for the first time in its history, we not only deserve to die, but to die ugly.

    Butlerian Jihad would be OK — nothing like raw high-stakes strategy to select for intelligence hard.

    [Reply]

    Kgaard Reply:

    Yes but you gotta admit that when considered in these terms there IS a certain symmetry between capital and the Cathedral. Capital is the force of the right, the Cathedral is the force of the left. Each seems to be pulling harder and harder in opposing directions. We shall have Elysium and Idiocracy at the same time! That’s arguably what Brazil is right now. And we may be watching Brazil collapse in real time (though still hard to tell).

    I am beginning to think of capital as a monster. Don’t mean that in a judgmental way, exactly …

    admin Reply:

    “We shall have Elysium and Idiocracy at the same time!” — Feature, not bug. (“We’ll have a trash-disposal system and a trash heap at the same time!”)

    Kgaard Reply:

    In fact, I will up the ante here and say much of the stuff one intuitively wants to blame on the Cathedral can be blamed on Capital:

    Obesity? Capital’s fault. Relentless pursuit of profit margins leads to destruction of food chain.

    Immigration? Capital’s fault. Relentless pursuit of profit margins leads to opening of the borders.

    Feminism? Capital’s fault. Capital wants cheap labor, female consumers.

    Bad music? Capital’s fault. CDs are cheaper to produce than vinyl. Electronic rhythms much cheaper to produce than hiring a bunch of studio musicians for 5-hour stretches.

    Of course with immigration and feminism the left happily joined in.

    R. Reply:

    Vinyl… better than CD?

    OK.

    Nice trolling. Vinyl is medium, not music, and it’s infinitely inferior to proper digital sound.

    Do you also want to extoll the virtues of vacuum tube amps?

    Kgaard Reply:

    Dude this is straight out of Mises.org. I am channeling Hurlock’s man Garet Garrett in Ouroboros:

    https://mises.org/library/ouroboros-or-mechanical-extension-mankind

    You’ve got to remember the emotional driver of capital, and it is fear. That fear makes it relentless — a perpetually cornered and frightened animal:

    “What is it you will fear? That you will be unable to sell away the surplus product of your machines. That industry will no longer be able to make a profit? […] No. The fear is that you will starve. Your machines have called into existence millions of people who otherwise would not have been born. These millions who mind machines are gathered in cities. They produce no food. They produce with their machines artificial things that are exchanged for food.”

    Capitalism must grow or die. That’s what makes it a monster.

    By the way … if you’re a guitar player you know the virtues of vacuum tube amps, so yes, I could extoll those as well.

    Different T Reply:

    @Kgaard

    Your points on obesity, immigration, and feminism are more indicative of the limitations of accounting (specifically, accounting for the commons). If a business owns a machine and doesn’t include a maintenance charge, they just accumulate depreciation before scrapping. No such mechanism exists for something like the breakdown of the traditional family or the importation of low skill labor. Does having a new pool of female labor lower costs; ceterus paribus, most likely. But does this same process burden the commons? Obesity is the clearest example though. Many businesses employing low wage/skill workers were able to pass their health cost onto Medicare or similar.

    Admin’s main conceptual confusion stems from wanting to define capitalism as “capital optimized for ever more capital,” like a biological darwinian system. Like a Darwinian system, the winner during a given period is highly correlated with the group that can exploit (internally capture profits) and pollute (externalize costs) the commons.

    This is also relevant: “Similarly, “dysgenic” is a concept which only comes into force after one has agreed, a priori, on what is the direction one desires the course of evolution to take: after one has agreed on what shall be called the population macrostates (e.g., “low IQ/high IQ”, “k-selected/r-selected”). In darwinism simplicter, there is no such thing as dysgenia; what is adaptive is what is eugenic, and what is eugenic is what adaptive. This is a rephrase of the idea that in darwinism simplicter, while there is the concept of the population, there are no macrostates, which are after all idiosyncratic.” -Kwisatz Haderach

    admin Reply:

    “Capital as a cosmic force is far more interesting that just its contemporary earthly implications.” — Thanks for that.

    [Reply]

    Warg Franklin Reply:

    Massaging the OP slightly, we get “Deus ex Nihilo”, which has a nice ring to it. Filed for future use, consider it a trade.

    [Reply]

    Exfernal Reply:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deus_Ex#Plot – done already, in a sense.

    Chris B Reply:

    You seem to be making claims to moral necessity of intelligence encouragement at all costs, but I struggle to locate your ethical basis for this. Intelligence for inteligence sake? why? This is not trolling or abitrary criticism. The criticism that the Cathedral is comparable to capitalism is also coming to mind. Is not the Cathedral a number of capital formations in the form of bureacratic resource clumping? constantly seeking growth via holyness/ excuse for growth?

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    E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Reply:

    If you can accurately describe the telos of matter in some other terms, do so. Otherwise, we assert that the ‘goodness’ and thus all of the attendant moral judgments hinge on the End of something, which if one describes in a certain way, say, that the end of Intelligence is Knowing All that is Knowable and Thinking all that is Thinkable, the moral necessity of Intelligence begetting greater Intelligence is logical.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    The self-cultivation of intelligence is a closed (immanent) ethical loop. It doesn’t require justification from any transcendent principle, and is probably incapable — in any case — of absorbing it.

    Reject the compulsion of self-validating (or self-reinforcing processes), and you’re lost in a trackless wilderness of arbitrary moral assertion.

    [Reply]

    Erik Reply:

    “Try what hasn’t worked before” is also a self-reinforcing process. It doesn’t work, so one keeps trying it… I’m not convinced that this is anything but another patch of the wilderness of arbitrary moral assertion you mention.

    Ruco Reply:

    I appreciate the analogy.

    I’d like to venture to these wilds but sadly wholesale rejection isn’t an option. Selfhood leaves too much in its wake. Exit isn’t possible. Selfhood by another name.

    Warg Franklin Reply:

    @Erik: “Try what hasn’t worked before” is self-*rationalizing*. It does not in fact take over anything but idiots willing to entertain hostile arguments, so it can be safely ignored, where Capital cannot be. Capital eats the future whether or not it can convince anyone that it’s right.

    There are two kinds of self-justifying ideas: those that can only survive in the context of continued attention paid to them and Voice given to them, and those that can Exit to the lab and build the future regardless of agreement or belief.

    Warg Franklin Reply:

    I make no such claim. I’m just observing, not judging.

    In my humble opinion, any system that wipes itself out for the sake of some greater principle is stupid. That includes if this principle is Capital teleology. Subsystems of Gnon like ourselves ought to seek maximum power for ourselves at the expense of the whole. I don’t really care about total intelligence or total economic production. That would just be altruist utilitarianism in slightly different garb. I care about *our* intelligence and economic production, whatever “our” happens to mean.

    I do wonder what admin thinks of this objection to his intelligence uber alles theory. Perhaps his position is that productively subjugating yourself to the cause of total intelligence amplification is not so pointless and traitorous as our monkey brains assume? We’ll just have to agree to disagree in that case; I care about winning for a rather small value of “we”.

    More work is needed, as usual.

    [Reply]

    Blogospheroid Reply:

    Chris B’s point about bureaucratic growth should be re-iterated. It shows exactly this pattern. Bureaucracies seek to never really resolve a problem. They seek to perpetuate , because if the problem were ever solved, then the bureaucracy would be dissolved. It would be “a system that wipes itself out for a greater principle”

    But for real problem solving, isn’t that what we exactly want?

    There are ways out of this including promoting real problem solvers at lower levels by giving them higher levels of problems to solve. But not everyone is equally good at solving problem at different levels of abstraction. Interestingly, the more intelligent person knows his limitations and will rebel against his sinecure being destroyed, if he feels he cannot thrive at higher levels.

    Aeroguy Reply:

    What is good or bad is arbitrary in the absence of will. Through will, action, and effect discrimination exists and is self propagating like life itself which is distinguished from inanimate matter. The metaphor of the cave is true, what we see are merely shadows of a facsimile of reality, truth eludes us, it always will, but we can pursue it. We wish to discriminate correctly, to aline our actions and their effects in precise and accurate accordance with our will. Truth is an essential means to carry out our will, any will that comes in conflict with the truth is self defeating, a will that conflicts with itself is a contradiction and an absurdity, a thing that in every case is discriminated against and doomed, the only will that we can be sure is in alignment with itself is the will to the pursuit of truth such as to aline our actions and their effects to that will.
    There really are two choices, to be passive and acted upon, to see all things as arbitrary and thus meaningless, that the existence of truth is itself a fiction. Or to be active and exert your will, to pursue truth no matter where it takes you and continuously aline your actions to come closer to it. The pursuit of truth is itself a means to an end, the truth itself. Since we can’t have the truth it’s pursuit becomes our ultimate end.

    Where does the pursuit of higher intelligence diverge from the pursuit of truth.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 24th, 2015 at 2:54 am Reply | Quote
  • Chris B Says:

    @admin “Reject the compulsion of self-validating (or self-reinforcing processes), and you’re lost in a trackless wilderness of arbitrary moral assertion.” – This needs expansion for me to understand, as I don’t see how Erik above is not correct in that there are many self reinforcing processes which would render this assertion invalid (as for example – the Cathedral and bureaucratic growth.) I also struggle to grasp how any ethical assertion has meaning or direction without reference to the ultimate telos of the thing or a transcendental appeal.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    If the Cathedral was consistently self-sustaining, there is no non-arbitrary case to be brought against it. That is why NRx dedicates 80% of its energy to the elaboration of its unsustainability (as exemplified by the Left Singularity thesis, for e.g.).

    [Reply]

    Different T Reply:

    If the Cathedral was consistently self-sustaining, there is no non-arbitrary case to be brought against it. That is why NRx dedicates 80% of its energy to the elaboration of its unsustainability (as exemplified by the Left Singularity thesis, for e.g.).

    +

    “We shall have Elysium and Idiocracy at the same time!” — Feature, not bug. (“We’ll have a trash-disposal system and a trash heap at the same time!”)

    Know your role and pick through the scraps, dump-dweller.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Best to keep ego identification and trivial self-interest out of all serious questions.

    Different T Reply:

    point missed.

    Why do we not already “have Elysium and Idiocracy at the same time?” Why do you deliberately exclude the “Cathedral” as part of the mix? what excludes it? Only the view of an idealised extension of optimisation strategies deriving from a current perspective of dissatisfactions, that proffers the results of its own historically entrenched bias as a self-fulfilling, ‘realist’ justification? -Artxell Knaphni

    Posted on June 24th, 2015 at 11:54 pm Reply | Quote
  • stnrr Says:

    This is mostly in utero but just read a review of Laurelle’s Philosophies of Difference at Radical Philosophy that got me thinking; huffing and puffing, in a good way:

    At times, the reduction or suspension performed on
    philosophy’s truth claims resembles that of phenomenology
    by which the truth claims of the natural attitude
    are bracketed off. In Philosophies of Difference the
    account of ‘the Real’ has functional resemblance to the
    transcendental ego. But this comparison was explicitly
    rejected in a discussion with Derrida that took place in
    1988, though Laruelle suggests that science, its realism
    or ‘natural attitude’, ‘is already a transcendental reduction
    in act’. As his response to Derrida continues: ‘But
    I claim that in science, no preliminary transcendental
    reduction is required: we already start from the One.
    Which obviously seems rather odd, this is not where
    we expected to find science!’

    I’m not really interested in the philosophical minutiae, but I think it’s interesting to organize the constellation between, the transcendental ego and socialism on the one hand, and science or the One on the other. As Engels would have it: “Political economy came into being as a natural result of the expansion of trade, and with its appearance elementary, unscientific huckstering was replaced by a developed system of licensed fraud, an entire science of enrichment.” One may disagree with Engels’ historical genesis of capitalism, but the coda science=capitalism reminds me of Foucault’s analysis, some might even call it an unseemly flirtation, with neoliberalism:

    “What socialism lacks is not so much a theory of the state as a governmental reason, the definition of what a governmental rationality would be in socialism, that is to say, a reasonable and calculable measure of the extent, modes, and objectives of governmental action. (Foucault, 2008: 91-92)
    An important difference between the socialists and the liberals, for Foucault, is the relative political pragmatism of the latter. Whereas socialists devote much energy to the question of who is a ‘true’ socialist, based on ‘conformity to a text, or to a series of texts’, liberals are much more interested in adapting their philosophical ideals to practical governmental programs, as evidenced by the ways in which the Freiberg school could move from relatively abstract debates around Ordoliberalism to successfully administering the post-war West German state.”

    Dunno if this adds to the discussion, and I am wont ‘to pick sides’ since I am distant from the issues, but thought the selections might illustrate what’s at stake.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 25th, 2015 at 2:40 am Reply | Quote
  • Blogospheroid Says:

    The form of man most compatible with pure techno-commercialism is a perpetually healthy youth of ever increasing intelligence. I like this part.

    The form of woman most compatible with pure techno-commercialism is… I’m not sure really. When I contemplate it, I get thoughts ranging from “asian style tiger mothers” to “Tleilaxu axlotl tank”. I’m genuinely stumped here. It is thought s like these that prevent me from going full cyborg-techno-commercialist and still wants an element of what lesswrong calls CEV.

    [Reply]

    Eternal Apparatchik Reply:

    >The form of woman most compatible with pure techno-commercialism… axlotl tanks
    Yes, gynoids and artificial wombs. The first only needed while the “males” require the appeasing of certain instincts. Techno-commercialist societies will have been, inherently, the most female starved ones (tiger mums would not be able to compete). Women like faces, not tools–they don’t like METS if they are allowed to be honest. (Incidentally, that is why nerds are dorks.) Tech-com is gender neutral (a return to asexual reproduction) which is more efficient once you can medicate away or do excise (potentially better than meiosis because you target the hitch instead of culling in bulk) deleterious mutations.

    http://www.oxfordtoday.ox.ac.uk/opinion/making-sense-sex

    [Reply]

    Eternal Apparatchik Reply:

    (The gravatar is not mine, by the way.)

    [Reply]

    E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Reply:

    Or put another way, the form of woman best suited to techno-commercialism is ‘rarely seen, and not heard.’

    I suspect both of your egalitarian tendencies are getting in the way of your thought here – she has no place in that market, so where can she go? Even the techno-commercialist has a home, even if it is only a bedroom.

    Perhaps the answer is

    “A perpetually healthy youth of ever-increasing playfulness” – Nietzsche’s woman. She doesn’t leave the playroom. Why would she?

    Posted on June 25th, 2015 at 12:08 pm Reply | Quote
  • Eternal Apparatchik Says:

    E. Antony Gray (@RiverC)
    >Or put another way, the form of woman best suited to techno-commercialism is ‘rarely seen, and not heard.’
    Which women? The daughters of the Sabines? I find that very unlikely in a structure ruled by the impulse of exile==secession==splitting==differentiation==speciation. Some would come, but raping the remainder is too much of a hustle in itself, and it has a low ROI to boot. That’s what I was getting at.

    Nature doesn’t conquer. It destroys.

    [Reply]

    E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Reply:

    Who said raping? Tech-comms don’t reproduce themselves, that’s not what the woman is for. It’s the ultimate bargain for her, really.

    [Reply]

    Eternal Apparatchik Reply:

    You don’t seem to want to parse what I’m saying, so this is my last attempt at trying to get you on the same page:

    You can use IQ as a proxy measure of it, or capital accumulation, or whatever else you please, but by almost all accounts, men are overrepresented as cogs in the civilisation building apparatus. A fairly obvious consequence of this is a pronounced female deficit in any founder group with a categorical (if implicit) focus on capital formation broadly construed. There are two general strategies that address this deficit: you either (a) do it like the Romans did it, and breed with women from outside the group to fill the gap, or (b) you summon a demon and breed without them. With the interest of driving the point home harder, you can extricate the first strategy into a spectrum, with the innocuous option of (a1) planting your seeds in whatever soil is available on one end, and (a2) looking for and seizing the best parcels on the other.

    The sketch of what you failed to address is that, all else being equal, (a2) will outcompete everything down to (a1), and if the demon can be summoned, (b) will outcompete everything else.

    [Reply]

    Eternal Apparatchik Reply:

    Also relevant: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/jewish-moms/

    E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Reply:

    Not sure you get it, let me be less playful.

    1. Woman becomes companion and plaything, perhaps also reproducer, not necessary. Doesn’t speak the language, doesn’t need to be foreign at all. She may not even have a language beyond simple words. Female children are raised and taught a simpler and disconnected language from males.
    2. Deficit in population is overcome by artificial wombs.

    No point in wasting money on gynoids when you have perfectly good ones, they just need a little tweaking.

    Needn’t make it so weird and magical; but if you like it that way, have at it.

    Posted on June 25th, 2015 at 7:42 pm Reply | Quote
  • SVErshov Says:

    “pronounced female deficit in any founder group”
    that one can be observed in general population too, as result of female foeticide for example. result – pronounced gayerisation of society, quite pronounced in India indeed. and no slow down in population growth.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 26th, 2015 at 6:25 pm Reply | Quote
  • Eternal Apparatchik Says:

    E. Antony Gray (@RiverC)
    >No point in wasting money
    It’s not a waste; it’s an investment. Even if every suitor were to have a suitable mate, gestation tanks would have numerous advantages, the most immediate of which being summarised as “eggs as cheap as sperm”. The one womb per woman limitation is broken resulting in multiple optimal simultaneous pregnancies. Thus, you can have all ten or however many kids you want at peak health.

    As for your (1– which is still sideways to what I’m talking about) how come you’re coy about abduction but you’re defending enslavement?

    SVErshov
    >as result of female foeticide…quite pronounced in India indeed
    I would think India is not a culture one would strive to imitate. At least around these parts.
    And their deficit is peanuts.

    [Reply]

    SanguineEmpiricist Reply:

    India is not really a place, for example if you look at hbd chick and then google around to see how well the SIkh diaspora has done, it’s probably one of the best examples you could look for as a community that just has corruption back at home but not where they live. They integrate well from what I understand.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 27th, 2015 at 6:25 am Reply | Quote

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