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Divergent preferences and meta-preferences

4 Stuart_Armstrong 30 May 2017 07:33AM

Crossposted at the Intelligent Agents Forum.

In simple graphical form, here is the problem of divergent human preferences:

Here the AI either chooses A or ¬A, and as a consequence, the human then chooses B or ¬B.

There are a variety of situations in which this is or isn't a problem (when A or B or their negations aren't defined, take them to be the negative of what is define):

  • Not problems:
    • A/¬A = "gives right shoe/left shoe", B/¬B = "adds left shoe/right shoe".
    • A =  "offers drink", ¬B = "goes looking for extra drink".
    • A = "gives money", B = "makes large purchase".
  • Potentially problems:
    • A/¬A = "causes human to fall in love with X/Y", B/¬B = "moves to X's/Y's country".
    • A/¬A = "recommends studying X/Y", B/¬B = "choose profession P/Q".
    • A = "lets human conceive child", ¬B = "keeps up previous hobbies and friendships".
  • Problems:
    • A = "coercive brain surgery", B = anything.
    • A = "extreme manipulation", B = almost anything.
    • A = "heroin injection", B = "wants more heroin".

So, what are the differences? For the "not problems", it makes sense to model the human as having a single reward R, variously "likes having a matching pair of shoes", "needs a certain amount of fluids", and "values certain purchases". Then all that the the AI is doing is helping (or not) the human towards that goal.

As you move more towards the "problems", notice that they seem to have two distinct human reward functions, RA and R¬A, and that the AI's actions seem to choose which one the human will end up with. In the spirit of humans not being agents, this seems to be AI determining what values the human will come to possess.


Grue, Bleen, and agency

Of course, you could always say that the human actually has reward R = IARA + (1-IA)R¬A, where IA is the indicator function as to whether the AI does action A or not.

Similarly to the grue and bleen problem, there is no logical way of distinguishing that "pieced-together" R from a more "natural" R (such as valuing pleasure, for instance). Thus there is no logical way of distinguishing the human being an agent from the human not being an agent, just from its preferences and behaviour.

However, from a learning and computational complexity point of view, it does make sense to distinguish "natural" R's (where RA and R¬A are essentially the same, despite the human's actions being different) from composite R's.

This allows us to define:

  • Preference divergence point: A preference divergence point is one where RA and R¬A are sufficiently distinct, according to some criteria of distinction.

Note that sometimes, RA = RA' + R' and R¬A = R¬A' + R': the two RA and R¬A overlap on a common piece R', but diverge on RA' and R¬A'. It makes sense to define this as a preference divergence point as well, if RA'and R¬A' are "important" in the agent's subsequent decisions. Importance being a somewhat hazy metric, which would, for instance, assess how much R' reward the human would sacrifice to increase RA' and R¬A'.



From the perspective of revealed preferences about the human, R(μ)=IARA + μ(1-IA) R¬A will predict the same behaviour for all scaling factors μ > 0.

Thus at a preference divergence point, the AI's behaviour, if it was a R(μ) maximiser, would depend on the non-observed weighting between the two divergent preferences.

This is unsafe, especially if one of the divergent preferences is much easier to achieve a high value with than the other.

Thus preference divergence points are moments when the AI should turn explicitly to human meta-preferences to distinguish between them.

This can be made recursive - if we see the human meta-preferences as explicitly weighting RA versus R¬A and hence giving R, then if there is a prior AI decision point Z, and, depending on what the AI chooses, the human meta-preferences will be different, this gives two reward functions RZ=IARA+ μZ(1-IA)R¬A and R¬Z=IARA+ μ¬Z(1-IA)R¬A with different weights μZ and μ¬Z.

If these weights are sufficiently distinct, this could identify a meta-preference divergence point and hence a point where human meta-meta-preferences become relevant.

AI safety: three human problems and one AI issue

9 Stuart_Armstrong 19 May 2017 10:48AM

Crossposted at the Intelligent agent foundation.

There have been various attempts to classify the problems in AI safety research. Our old Oracle paper that classified then-theoretical methods of control, to more recent classifications that grow out of modern more concrete problems.

These all serve their purpose, but I think a more enlightening classification of the AI safety problems is to look at what the issues we are trying to solve or avoid. And most of these issues are problems about humans.

Specifically, I feel AI safety issues can be classified as three human problems and one central AI issue. The human problems are:

  • Humans don't know their own values (sub-issue: humans know their values better in retrospect than in prediction).
  • Humans are not agents and don't have stable values (sub-issue: humanity itself is even less of an agent).
  • Humans have poor predictions of an AI's behaviour.

And the central AI issue is:

  • AIs could become extremely powerful.

Obviously if humans were agents and knew their own values and could predict whether a given AI would follow those values or not, there would be not problem. Conversely, if AIs were weak, then the human failings wouldn't matter so much.

The points about human values is relatively straightforward, but what's the problem with humans not being agents? Essentially, humans can be threatened, tricked, seduced, exhausted, drugged, modified, and so on, in order to act seemingly against our interests and values.

If humans were clearly defined agents, then what counts as a trick or a modification would be easy to define and exclude. But since this is not the case, we're reduced to trying to figure out the extent to which something like a heroin injection is a valid way to influence human preferences. This makes both humans susceptible to manipulation, and human values hard to define.

Finally, the issue of humans having poor predictions of AI is more general than it seems. If you want to ensure that an AI has the same behaviour in the testing and training environment, then you're essentially trying to guarantee that you can predict that the testing environment behaviour will be the same as the (presumably safe) training environment behaviour.


How to classify methods and problems

That's well and good, but how to various traditional AI methods or problems fit into this framework? This should give us an idea as to whether the framework is useful.

It seems to me that:


  • Friendly AI is trying to solve the values problem directly.
  • IRL and Cooperative IRL are also trying to solve the values problem. The greatest weakness of these methods is the not agents problem.
  • Corrigibility/interruptibility are also addressing the issue of humans not knowing their own values, using the sub-issue that human values are clearer in retrospect. These methods also overlap with poor predictions.
  • AI transparency is aimed at getting round the poor predictions problem.
  • Laurent's work on carefully defining the properties of agents is mainly also about solving the poor predictions problem.
  • Low impact and Oracles are aimed squarely at preventing AIs from becoming powerful. Methods that restrict the Oracle's output implicitly accept that humans are not agents.
  • Robustness of the AI to changes between testing and training environment, degradation and corruption, etc... ensures that humans won't be making poor predictions about the AI.
  • Robustness to adversaries is dealing with the sub-issue that humanity is not an agent.
  • The modular approach of Eric Drexler is aimed at preventing AIs from becoming too powerful, while reducing our poor predictions.
  • Logical uncertainty, if solved, would reduce the scope for certain types of poor predictions about AIs.
  • Wireheading, when the AI takes control of reward channel, is a problem that humans don't know their values (and hence use an indirect reward) and that the humans make poor predictions about the AI's actions.
  • Wireheading, when the AI takes control of the human, is as above but also a problem that humans are not agents.
  • Incomplete specifications are either a problem of not knowing our own values (and hence missing something important in the reward/utility) or making poor predictions (when we though that a situation was covered by our specification, but it turned out not to be).
  • AIs modelling human knowledge seem to be mostly about getting round the fact that humans are not agents.

Putting this all in a table:


Not Agents
Poor PredictionsPowerful
Friendly AI


Corrigibility/interruptibility X
AI transparency

Laurent's work

Low impact and Oracles

Robustness to adversaries

Modular approach

Logical uncertainty

Wireheading (reward channel) X X X
Wireheading (human) X
Incomplete specifications X
AIs modelling human knowledge


Further refinements of the framework

It seems to me that the third category - poor predictions - is the most likely to be expandable. For the moment, it just incorporates all our lack of understanding about how AIs would behave, but this might more useful to subdivide.

An inquiry into memory of humans

2 Elo 19 April 2017 07:02AM

Cross posted from: http://bearlamp.com.au/an-inquiry-into-memory-of-humans/

In trying to understand how my memory for people works, I am trying to investigate in what order my people semantic network is arranged.

For each exercise that follows you will need to think of a different person to avoid priming yourself with the people you have already thought of.

Think of a person you know.  What comes to mind to represent them?  Is it their name?  Is it their face?  Is it some other sensory or other detail?

Think of a face of a person you know.  What else comes to mind?  Can you think of a person’s face without other details like names coming up.  How about without their hair.  Try this for 3 or more people you know.

Think of a person who has a characteristic voice.  Can you represent the idea of this person without linking to other details of this person?  without their face?  Without their name?  What about a radio presenter who’s face you have never seen?  Can you represent their voice without their face? Without their name?

Think of a person who you can recognise by a characteristic touch.  Think of someone’s handshake that you remember.  Can you represent the concept of the person via handshake alone?  Can you hold off from recalling their name?

Think of a person you can recall that has worn black clothing.  Someone who has worn white clothing.  Are they an idea alone?  Or is it hard to describe without their name?

Think of someone who you can remember singing.  Can you remember their singing selves without the face?  Without the name?

Think of a person’s name.  Do you know who this person is without their face?  Do you know what they sound like without knowing what they look like?  How do you navigate from one detail to another?

Think of a person who is particularly spiritual.  Can you represent who they are without bringing their name to mind?

I could go on but I leave the rest as an exercise to the reader to make up and experiment with a few more examples.  In smells, and in any other sensory experiences, in methods of dividing people.  Tall, short, grumpy…

So What?

Memory is this weird thing.  If you want to know how to take the most advantage of it, you need to know how it works.  This exercise hopefully makes you ask and wonder about how it works.

What do you remember easily.  What details come straight to mind, what details are hard.  Each person would be different in subtle ways, and with knowledge of that difference you can better ask the questions:

Am I going to naturally remember this?

How am I going to format this information in such a way that I can remember it?

In the book Peak, Anders suggests that to tap into the power of deliberate practice you need to add new knowledge to the foundation of old knowledge.

I can’t honestly tell you how to use your memory but I hope this exercise is a step in the right direction.

Meta: I spend a few days this week introspecting and wondering.  I apologise for not being able to deliver an insight.  Only questions.

This took 50mins to write and is the first piece I typed in Colemak not Qwerty after relearning how to type (story coming soon).

[Link] Scientists Create AI Program That Can Predict Human Rights Trials With 79 Percent Accuracy

0 Gunnar_Zarncke 26 October 2016 06:47AM

A collection of Stubs.

-5 Elo 06 September 2016 07:24AM

In light of SDR's comment yesterday, instead of writing a new post today I compiled my list of ideas I wanted to write about, partly to lay them out there and see if any stood out as better than the rest, and partly so that maybe they would be a little more out in the wild than if I hold them until I get around to them.  I realise there is not a thesis in this post, but I figured it would be better to write one of these than to write each in it's own post with the potential to be good or bad.

Original post: http://bearlamp.com.au/many-draft-concepts/

I create ideas at about the rate of 3 a day, without trying to.  I write at about a rate of 1.5 a day.  Which leaves me always behind.  Even if I write about the best ideas I can think of, some good ones might never be covered.  This is an effort to draft out a good stack of them so that maybe it can help me not have to write them all out, by better defining which ones are the good ones and which ones are a bit more useless.

With that in mind, in no particular order - a list of unwritten posts:

From my old table of contents

Goals of your lesswrong group – As a guided/workthrough exercise in deciding why the group exists and what it should do.  Help people work out what they want out of it (do people know)? setting goals, doing something particularly interesting or routine, having fun, changing your mind, being activists in the world around you.  Whatever the reasons you care about, work them out and move towards them.  Nothing particularly groundbreaking in the process here.  Sit down with the group with pens and paper, maybe run a resolve cycle, maybe talk about ideas and settle on a few, then decide how to carry them out.  Relevant links: Sydney meetup,  group resources (estimate 2hrs to write)

Goals interrogation + Goal levels – Goal interrogation is about asking <is this thing I want to do actually a goal of mine> and <is my current plan the best way to achieve that>, goal levels are something out of Sydney Lesswrong that help you have mutual long term goals and supporting short term goal.  There are 3 main levels, Dream, Year, Daily (or approximate) you want dream goals like going to the moon, you want yearly goals like getting another year further in your degree and you want daily goals like studying today that contribute to the upper level goals.  Any time you are feeling lost you can look at the guide you set out for yourself and use it to direct you. (3hrs)

How to human – A zero to human guide. A guide for basic functionality of a humanoid system. Something of a conglomeration of maslow, mental health, so you feel like shit and system thinking.  Am I conscious?Am I breathing? Am I bleeding or injured (major or minor)? Am I falling or otherwise in danger and about to cause the earlier questions to return false?  Do I know where I am?  Am I safe?  Do I need to relieve myself (or other bodily functions, i.e. itchy)?  Have I had enough water? sleep? food?  Is my mind altered (alcohol or other drugs)?  Am I stuck with sensory input I can't control (noise, smells, things touching me)?  Am I too hot or too cold?  Is my environment too hot or too cold?  Or unstable?  Am I with people or alone? Is this okay?  Am I clean (showered, teeth, other personal cleaning rituals)?  Have I had some sunlight and fresh air in the past few days?  Have I had too much sunlight or wind in the past few days?  Do I feel stressed?  Okay?  Happy?  Worried?  Suspicious?  Scared? Was I doing something?  What am I doing?  do I want to be doing something else?  Am I being watched (is that okay?)?  Have I interacted with humans in the past 24 hours?  Have I had alone time in the past 24 hours?  Do I have any existing conditions I can run a check on - i.e. depression?  Are my valuables secure?  Are the people I care about safe?  (4hrs)

List of common strategies for getting shit done – things like scheduling/allocating time, pomodoros, committing to things externally, complice, beeminder, other trackers. (4hrs)

List of superpowers and kryptonites – when asking the question “what are my superpowers?” and “what are my kryptonites?”. Knowledge is power; working with your powers and working out how to avoid your kryptonites is a method to improve yourself.  What are you really good at, and what do you absolutely suck at and would be better delegating to other people.  The more you know about yourself, the more you can do the right thing by your powers or weaknesses and save yourself troubles.

List of effective behaviours – small life-improving habits that add together to make awesomeness from nothing. And how to pick them up.  Short list: toothbrush in the shower, scales in front of the  fridge, healthy food in the most accessible position in the fridge, make the unhealthy stuff a little more inacessible, keep some clocks fast - i.e. the clock in your car (so you get there early),  prepare for expected barriers ahead of time (i.e. packing the gym bag and leaving it at the door), and more.

Stress prevention checklist – feeling off? You want to have already outsourced the hard work for “things I should check on about myself” to your past self. Make it easier for future you. Especially in the times that you might be vulnerable.  Generate a list of things that you want to check are working correctly.  i.e. did I drink today?  Did I do my regular exercise?  Did I take my medication?  Have I run late today?  Do I have my work under control?

Make it easier for future you. Especially in the times that you might be vulnerable. – as its own post in curtailing bad habits that you can expect to happen when you are compromised.  inspired by candy-bar moments and turning them into carrot-moments or other more productive things.  This applies beyond diet, and might involve turning TV-hour into book-hour (for other tasks you want to do instead of tasks you automatically do)

A p=np approach to learning – Sometimes you have to learn things the long way; but sometimes there is a short cut. Where you could say, “I wish someone had just taken me on the easy path early on”. It’s not a perfect idea; but start looking for the shortcuts where you might be saying “I wish someone had told me sooner”. Of course the answer is, “but I probably wouldn’t have listened anyway” which is something that can be worked on as well. (2hrs)

Rationalists guide to dating – Attraction. Relationships. Doing things with a known preference. Don’t like unintelligent people? Don’t try to date them. Think first; then act - and iteratively experiment; an exercise in thinking hard about things before trying trial-and-error on the world. Think about places where you might meet the kinds of people you want to meet, then use strategies that go there instead of strategies that flop in the general direction of progress.  (half written)

Training inherent powers (weights, temperatures, smells, estimation powers) – practice makes perfect right? Imagine if you knew the temperature always, the weight of things by lifting them, the composition of foods by tasting them, the distance between things without measuring. How can we train these, how can we improve.  Probably not inherently useful to life, but fun to train your system 1! (2hrs)

Strike to the heart of the question. The strongest one; not the one you want to defeat – Steelman not Strawman. Don’t ask “how do I win at the question”; ask, “am I giving the best answer to the best question I can give”.  More poetic than anything else - this post would enumerate the feelings of victory and what not to feel victorious about, as well as trying to feel what it's like to be on the other side of the discussion to yourself, frustratingly trying to get a point across while a point is being flung at yourself. (2hrs)

How to approach a new problem – similar to the “How to solve X” post.  But considerations for working backwards from a wicked problem, as well as trying “The least bad solution I know of”, Murphy-jitsu, and known solutions to similar problems.  Step 0. I notice I am approaching a problem.

Turning Stimming into a flourish – For autists, to make a presentability out of a flaw.

How to manage time – estimating the length of future tasks (and more), covered in notch system, and do tasks in a different order.  But presented on it's own.

Spices – Adventures in sensory experience land.  I ran an event of spice-smelling/guessing for a group of 30 people.  I wrote several documents in the process about spices and how to run the event.  I want to publish these.  As an exercise - it's a fun game of guess-the-spice.

Wing it VS Plan – All of the what, why, who, and what you should do of the two.  Some people seem to be the kind of person who is always just winging it.  In contrast, some people make ridiculously complicated plans that work.  Most of us are probably somewhere in the middle.  I suggest that the more of a planner you can be the better because you can always fall back on winging it, and you probably will.  But if you don't have a plan and are already winging it - you can't fall back on the other option.  This concept came to me while playing ingress, which encourages you to plan your actions before you make them.

On-stage bias – The changes we make when we go onto a stage include extra makeup to adjust for the bright lights, and speaking louder to adjust for the audience which is far away. When we consider the rest of our lives, maybe we want to appear specifically X (i.e, confident, friendly) so we should change ourselves to suit the natural skews in how we present based on the "stage" we are appearing on.  appear as the person you want to appear as, not the person you naturally appear as.

Creating a workspace – considerations when thinking about a “place” of work, including desk, screen, surrounding distractions, and basically any factors that come into it.  Similar to how the very long list of sleep maintenance suggestions covers environmental factors in your sleep environment but for a workspace.

Posts added to the list since then

Doing a cost|benefit analysis - This is something we rely on when enumerating the options and choices ahead of us, but something I have never explicitly looked into.  Some costs that can get overlooked include: Time, Money, Energy, Emotions, Space, Clutter, Distraction/Attention, Memory, Side effects, and probably more.  I'd like to see a How to X guide for CBA. (wikipedia)

Extinction learning at home - A cross between intermittent reward (the worst kind of addiction), and what we know about extinguishing it.  Then applying that to "convincing" yourself to extinguish bad habits by experiential learning.  Uses the CFAR internal Double Crux technique, precommit yourself to a challenge, for example - "If I scroll through 20 facebook posts in a row and they are all not worth my time, I will be convinced that I should spend less time on facebook because it's not worth my time"  Adjust 20 to whatever position your double crux believes to be true, then run a test and iterate.  You have to genuinely agree with the premise before running the test.  This can work for a number of committed habits which you want to extinguish.  (new idea as at the writing of this post)

How to write a dating ad - A suggestion to include information that is easy to ask questions about (this is hard).  For example; don't write, "I like camping", write "I like hiking overnight with my dog", giving away details in a way that makes them worth inquiring about.  The same reason applies to why writing "I'm a great guy" is really not going to get people to believe you, as opposed to demonstrating the claim. (show, don't tell)

How to give yourself aversions - an investigation into aversive actions and potentially how to avoid collecting them when you have a better understanding of how they happen.  (I have not done the research and will need to do that before publishing the post)

How to give someone else an aversion - similar to above, we know we can work differently to other people, and at the intersection of that is a misunderstanding that can leave people uncomfortable.

Lists - Creating lists is a great thing, currently in draft - some considerations about what lists are, what they do, what they are used for, what they can be used for, where they come in handy, and the suggestion that you should use lists more. (also some digital list-keeping solutions)

Choice to remember the details - this stems from choosing to remember names, a point in the conversation where people sometimes tune out.  As a mindfulness concept you can choose to remember the details. (short article, not exactly sure why I wanted to write about this)

What is a problem - On the path of problem solving, understanding what a problem is will help you to understand how to attack it.  Nothing more complicated than this picture to explain it.  The barrier is a problem.  This doesn't seem important on it's own but as a foundation for thinking about problems it's good to have  sitting around somewhere.


How to/not attend a meetup - for anyone who has never been to a meetup, and anyone who wants the good tips on etiquette for being the new guy in a room of friends.  First meetup: shut up and listen, try not to be too much of an impact on the existing meetup group or you might misunderstand the culture.

Noticing the world, Repercussions and taking advantage of them - There are regularly world events that I notice.  Things like the olympics, Pokemon go coming out, the (recent) spaceX rocket failure.  I try to notice when big events happen and try to think about how to take advantage of the event or the repercussions caused by that event.  Motivated to think not only about all the olympians (and the fuss leading up to the olympics), but all the people at home who signed up to a gym because of the publicity of the competitive sport.  If only I could get in on the profit of gym signups...

leastgood but only solution I know of - So you know of a solution, but it's rubbish.  Or probably is.  Also you have no better solutions.  Treat this solution as the best solution you have (because it is) and start implementing it, as you do that - keep looking for other solutions.  But at least you have a solution to work with!

Self-management thoughts - When you ask yourself, "am I making progress?", "do I want to be in this conversation?" and other self management thoughts.  And an investigation into them - it's a CFAR technique but their writing on the topic is brief.  (needs research)

instrumental supply-hoarding behaviour - A discussion about the benefits of hoarding supplies for future use.  Covering also - what supplies are not a good idea to store, and what supplies are.  Maybe this will be useful for people who store things for later days, and hopefully help to consolidate and add some purposefulness to their process.

list of sub groups that I have tried - Before running my local lesswrong group I partook in a great deal of other groups.  This was meant as a list with comments on each group.

If you have nothing to do – make better tools for use when real work comes along - This was probably going to be a poetic style motivation post about exactly what the title suggests.  Be Prepared.

what other people are good at (as support) - When reaching out for support, some people will be good at things that other people are not.  For example - emotional support, time to spend on each other, ideas for solving your problems.  Different people might be better or worse than others.  Thinking about this can make your strategies towards solving your problems a bit easier to manage.  Knowing what works and what does not work, or what you can reliably expect when you reach out for support from some people - is going to supercharge your fulfilment of those needs.

Focusing - An already written guide to Eugine Gendlin's focusing technique.  That needs polishing before publishing.  The short form: treat your system 1 as a very powerful machine that understands your problems and their solutions more than you do; use your system 2 to ask it questions and see what it returns.

Rewrite: how to become a 1000 year old vampire - I got as far as breaking down this post and got stuck at draft form before rewriting.  Might take another stab at it soon.

Should you tell people your goals? This thread in a post.  In summary: It depends on the environment, the wrong environment is actually demotivational, the right environment is extra motivational.

Meta: this took around 4 hours to write up.  Which is ridiculously longer than usual.  I noticed a substantial number of breaks being taken - not sure if that relates to the difficulty of creating so many summaries or just me today.  Still.  This experiment might help my future writing focus/direction so I figured I would try it out.  If you see an idea of particularly high value I will be happy to try to cover it in more detail.

Estimating the probability of human extinction

5 philosophytorres 17 February 2016 04:19PM

I'm looking for feedback on the following idea. The article from which it's been excerpted can be found here: http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/torres20120213

"But not only has the number of scenarios increased in the past 71 years, many riskologists believe that the probability of a global disaster has also significantly risen. Whereas the likelihood of annihilation for most of our species’ history was extremely low, Nick Bostrom argues that “setting this probability lower than 25% [this century] would be misguided, and the best estimate may be considerably higher.” Similarly, Sir Martin Rees claims that a civilization-destroying event before the year 02100 is as likely as getting a “heads” after flipping a coin. These are only two opinions, of course, but to paraphrase the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, my experience confirms that those who know the < most tend to be the most gloomy

"I [would] argue that Rees’ figure is plausible. To adapt a maxim from the philosopher David Hume, wise people always proportion their fears to the best available evidence, and when one honestly examines this evidence, one finds that there really is good reason for being alarmed. But I also offer a novel — to my knowledge — argument for why we may be systematically underestimating the overall likelihood of doom. In sum, just as a dog can’t possibly comprehend any of the natural and anthropogenic risks mentioned above, so too could there be risks that forever lie beyond our epistemic reach. All biological brains have intrinsic limitations that constrain the library of concepts to which one has access. And without concepts, one can’t mentally represent the external world. It follows that we could be “cognitively closed” to a potentially vast number of cosmic risks that threaten us with total annihilation. This being said, one might argue that such risks, if they exist at all, must be highly improbable, since Earth-originating life has existed for some 3.5 billion years without an existential catastrophe having happened. But this line of reasoning is deeply flawed: it fails to take into account that the only worlds in which observers like us could find ourselves are ones in which such a catastrophe has never occurred. It follows that a record of past survival on our planetary spaceship provides no useful information about the probability of certain existential disasters happening in the future. The facts of cognitive closure plus the observation selection effect suggest that our probability conjectures of total annihilation may be systematically underestimated, perhaps by a lot."



List of common human goals

13 Elo 24 August 2015 07:58AM
List of common goal areas:
This list is meant to be in the area of goal-space.  It is non-exhaustive and the descriptions are including but not limited to - some hints to help you understand where in the idea-space these goals land.  When constructing this list I try to imagine a large venn diagram where sometimes they overlap.  The areas mentioned are areas that have an exclusive part to them; i.e. where sometimes knowledge overlaps with self-awareness there are parts of each that do not overlap; so both are mentioned.  If you prefer a more "focussing" or feeling base description; Imagine each of these goals is a hammer, designed with a specific weight to hit a certain note on a xylophone.  Often one hammer can produce the note that is meant for that key and several other keys as well.  But sometimes they can't quite make them sound perfect.  What is needed is the right hammer for that block to hit the right note and make the right sound.  Each of these "hammers" has some note that cannot be produced through the use of other hammers.

This list has several purposes:

  1. For someone with some completed goals who is looking to move forward to new horizons; help you consider which common goal-pursuits you have not explored and if you want to try to strive for something in one of these directions.
  2. For someone without clear goals who is looking to create them and does not know where to start.
  3. For someone with too many specific goals who is looking to consider the essences of those goals and what they are really striving for.
  4. For someone who doesn't really understand goals or why we go after them to get a better feel for "what" potential goals could be.

What to do with this list?

0. Agree to invest 30 minutes of effort into a goal confirmation exercise as follows.
  1. Go through this list (copy paste to your own document) and cross out the things you probably don't care about.  Some of these have overlapping solutions of projects that you can do that fulfils multiple goal-space concepts. (5mins)
  2. For the remaining goals; rank them either "1 to n", in "tiers" of high to low priority or generally order them in some way that is coherent to you.  (For serious quantification; consider giving them points - i.e. 100 points for achieving a self-awareness and understanding goal but a pleasure/creativity goal might be only worth 20 points in comparison) (10mins)
  3. Make a list of your ongoing projects (5-10mins), and check if they actually match up to your most preferable goals. (or your number ranking) (5-10mins)  If not; make sure you have a really really good excuse for yourself.
  4. Consider how you might like to do things differently that prioritise your current plans to fit more inline with your goals. (10-20mins)
  5. Repeat this task at an appropriate interval (6monthly, monthly, when your goals significantly change, when your life significantly changes, when major projects end)

Why have goals?

Your goals could change in life; you could explore one area and realise you actually love another area more.  It's important to explore and keep confirming that you are still winning your own personal race to where you want to be going.
It's easy to insist that goals serve to only disappoint or burden a person.  These are entirely valid fears for someone who does not yet have goals.  Goals are not set in stone; however they don't like to be modified either.  I like to think of goals as doing this:
(source: internet viral images) Pictures from the Internet aside; The best reason I have ever reasoned for picking goals is to do exactly this.  Make choices that a reasonable you in the future will be motivated to stick to Outsource that planning and thinking of goal/purpose/direction to your past self.  Naturally you could feel like making goals is piling on the bricks (but there is a way to make goals that do not leave them piling on like bricks); you should think of it as rescuing future you from a day spent completely lost and wondering what you were doing.  Or a day spent questioning if "this" is something that is getting you closer to what you want to be doing in life.

Below here is the list.  Good luck.


Spirituality - religion, connection to a god, meditation, the practice of gratitude or appreciation of the universe, buddhism, feeling of  a greater purpose in life.
Knowledge/skill + Ability - learning for fun - just to know, advanced education, becoming an expert in a field, being able to think clearly, being able to perform a certain skill (physical skill), ability to do anything from run very far and fast to hold your breath for a minute, Finding ways to get into flow or the zone, be more rational.
Self-awareness/understanding - to be at a place of understanding one’s place in the world, or have an understanding of who you are; Practising thinking in eclectic perspectives for various other people and how it effects your understanding of the world.
Health + mental - happiness (mindset) - Do you even lift? http://thefutureprimaeval.net/why-we-even-lift/, are you fit, healthy, eating right, are you in pain, is your mind in a good place, do you have a positive internal voice, do you have bad dreams, do you feel confident, do you feel like you get enough time to yourself?
Live forever - do you want to live forever - do you want to work towards ensuring that this happens?
Art/creativity - generating creative works, in any field - writing, painting, sculpting, music, performance.
Pleasure/recreation - are you enjoying yourself, are you relaxing, are you doing things for you.
Experience/diversity - Have you seen the world?  Have you explored your own city?  Have you met new people, are you getting out of your normal environment?
Freedom - are you tied down?  Are you trapped in your situation?  Are your burdens stacked up?
Romance - are you engaged in romance?  could you be?
Being first - You did something before anyone; you broke a record, It’s not because you want your name on the plaque - just the chance to do it first.  You got that.
Create something new - invent something; be on the cutting edge of your field; just see a discovery for the first time.  Where the new-ness makes creating something new not quite the same as being first or being creative.
Improve the tools available - sharpen the axe, write a new app that can do the thing you want, invent systems that work for you.  prepare for when the rest of the work comes along


Legacy - are you leaving something behind?  Do you have a name? Will people look back and say; I wish I was that guy!
Fame/renoundness - Are you “the guy”?  Do you want people to know your name when you walk down the street?  Are there gossip magazines talking about you; do people want to know what you are working on in the hope of stealing some of your fame?  Is that what you want?
Leadership, and military/conquer - are you climbing to the top?  Do you need to be in control?  Is that going to make the best outcomes for you?  Do you wish to destroy your enemies?  As a leader do you want people following you?  Do as you do? People should revere you. And power - in the complex; “in control” and “flick the switch” ways that overlap with other goal-space areas.  Of course there are many forms of power; but if its something that you want; you can find fulfilment through obtaining it.
Being part of something greater - The opportunity to be a piece of a bigger puzzle, are you bringing about change; do we have you to thank for being part of bringing the future closer; are you making a difference.
Social - are you spending time socially? No man is an island, do you have regular social opportunities, do you have exploratory social opportunities to meet new people.  Do you have an established social network?  Do you have intimacy?  Do you have seek opportunities to have soul to soul experiences with other people?  Authentic connection?
Family - do you have a family of your own?  Do you want one?  Are there steps that you can take to put yourself closer to there?  Do you have a pet? Having your own offspring? Do you have intimacy?
Money/wealth - Do you have money; possessions and wealth?  Does your money earn you more money without any further effort (i.e. owning a business, earning interest on your $$, investing)
Performance - Do you want to be a public performer, get on stage and entertain people?  Is that something you want to be able to do?  Or do on a regular basis?
Responsibility - Do you want responsibility?  Do you want to be the one who can make the big decisions?
Achieve, Awards - Do you like gold medallions?  Do you like to strive towards an award?
Influence - Do you want to be able to influence people, change hearts and minds.
Conformity - The desire to blend in; or be normal.  Just to live life as is; without being uncomfortable.
Be treated fairly - are you getting the raw end of the stick?  Are there ways that you don't have to keep being the bad guy around here?
Keep up with the Joneses - you have money/wealth already, but there is also the goal of appearing like you have money/wealth.  Being the guy that other people keep up with.
Validation/acknowledgement - Positive Feedback on emotions/feeling understood/feeling that one is good and one matters


Improve the lives of others (helping people) - in the charity sense of raising the lowest common denominator directly.
Charity + improve the world -  indirectly.  putting money towards a cause; lobby the government to change the systems to improve people’s lives.
Winning for your team/tribe/value set - doing actions but on behalf of your team, not yourself. (where they can be one and the same)
Desired world-states - make the world into a desired alternative state.  Don't like how it is; are you driven to make it into something better?

Other (and negative stimuli):

Addiction (fulfil addiction) - addiction feels good from the inside and can be a motivating factor for doing something.
Virtual reality success - own all the currency/coin and all the cookie clickers, grow all the levels and get all the experience points!
Revenge - Get retribution; take back what you should have rightfully had, show the world who’s boss.
Negative - avoid (i.e. pain, loneliness, debt, failure, embarrassment, jail) - where you can be motivated to avoid pain - to keep safe, or avoid something, or “get your act together”.
Negative - stagnation (avoid stagnation) - Stop standing still.  Stop sitting on your ass and DO something.


This list being written in words; Will not mean the same thing to every reader.  Which is why I tried to include several categories that almost overlap with each other.  Some notable overlaps are: Legacy/Fame.  Being first/Achievement. Being first/skill and ability.  But of course there are several more.  I really did try to keep the categories open and several; not simplified.  My analogy to hammers and notes should be kept in mind when trying to improve this list.

I welcome all suggestions and improvements to this list.
I welcome all feedback to improve the do-at-home task.
I welcome all life-changing realisations as feedback from examining this list.
I welcome the opportunity to be told how wrong I am :D


This document in total has been 7-10 hours of writing over about two weeks.
I have had it reviewed by a handful of people and lesswrongers before posting.  (I kept realising that someone I was talking to might get value out of it)
I wrote this because I felt like it was the least-bad way that I could think of going about
finding these ideas in the one place
sharing these ideas and this way of thinking about them with you.

Please fill out the survey of if this was helpful.

Edit: also included; (not in the comments) desired world states; and live forever.

Magnetic rings (the most mediocre superpower) A review.

26 Elo 30 July 2015 01:23PM

Following on from a few threads about superpowers and extra sense that humans can try to get; I have always been interested in the idea of putting a magnet in my finger for the benefits of extra-sensory perception.

Stories (occasional news articles) imply that having a magnet implanted in a finger in a place surrounded by nerves imparts a power of electric-sensation.  The ability to feel when there are electric fields around.  So that's pretty neat.  Only I don't really like the idea of cutting into myself (even if its done by a professional piercing artist).  

Only recently did I come across the suggestion that a magnetic ring could impart similar abilities and properties.  I was delighted at the idea of a similar and non-invasive version of the magnetic-implant (people with magnetic implants are commonly known as grinders within the community).  I was so keen on trying it that I went out and purchased a few magnetic rings of different styles and different properties.

Interestingly the direction that a magnetisation can be imparted to a ring-shaped object can be selected from 2 general types.  Magnetised across the diameter, or across the height of the cylinder shape.  (there is a 3rd type which is a ring consisting of 4 outwardly magnetised 1/4 arcs of magnetic metal suspended in a ring-casing. and a few orientations of that system).

I have now been wearing a Neodymium ND50 magnetic ring from supermagnetman.com for around two months.  The following is a description of my experiences with it.

When I first got the rings, I tried wearing more than one ring on each hand, I very quickly found out what happens when you wear two magnets close to each other. AKA they attract.  Within a day I was wearing one magnet on each hand.  What is interesting is what happens when you move two very strong magnets within each other's magnetic field.  You get the ability to feel a magnetic field, and roll it around in your hands.  I found myself taking typing breaks to play with the magnetic field between my fingers.  It was an interesting experience to be able to do that.  I also found I liked the snap as the two magnets pulled towards each other and regularly would play with them by moving them near each other.  For my experiences here I would encourage others to use magnets as a socially acceptable way to hide an ADHD twitch - or just a way to keep yourself amused if you don't have a phone to pull out and if you ever needed a reason to move.  I have previously used elastic bands around my wrist for a similar purpose.

The next thing that is interesting to note is what is or is not ferrous.  Fridges are made of ferrous metal but not on the inside.  Door handles are not usually ferrous, but the tongue and groove of the latch is.  metal railings are common, as are metal nails in wood.  Elevators and escalators have some metallic parts.  Light switches are often plastic but there is a metal screw holding them into the wall.  Tennis fencing is ferrous, the ends of usb cables are sometimes ferrous and sometimes not.  The cables are not ferrous.  except one I found. (they are probably made of copper)


Breaking technology

I had a concern that I would break my technology.  That would be bad.  overall I found zero broken pieces of technology.  In theory if you take a speaker which consists of a magnet and an electric coil and you mess around with its magnetic field it will be unhappy and maybe break.  That has not happened yet.  The same can be said for hard drives, magnetic memory devices, phone technology and other things that rely on electricity.  So far nothing has broken.  What I did notice is that my phone has a magnetic-sleep function on the top left.  i.e. it turns the screen off to hold the ring near that point.  For both benefit and detriment depending on where I am wearing the ring.

Metal shards

I spend some of my time in workshops that have metal shards lying around.  sometimes they are sharp, sometimes they are more like dust.  They end up coating the magnetic ring.  The sharp ones end up jabbing you, and the dust just looks like dirt on your skin.  in a few hours they tend to go away anyways, but it is something I have noticed

magnetic strength

Over the time I have been wearing the magnets their strength has dropped off significantly.  I am considering building a remagnetisation jig, but have not started any work on it.  obviously every time I ding something against it, every time I drop them - the magnetisation decreases a bit as the magnetic dipoles reorganise.


I cook a lot.  Which means I find myself holding sharp knives fairly often.  The most dangerous thing that I noticed about these rings is that when I hold a ferrous knife in the normal way I hold a knife, the magnet has a tendency to shift the knife slightly or at a time when I don't want it to.  That sucks.  Don't wear them while playing with sharp objects like knives.  the last think you want to do is accidentally have your carrot-cutting turn into a finger-cutting event.  What is interesting as well is that some cutlery is made of ferrous metal and some is not.  also sometimes parts of a piece of cutlery are ferrous and some are non-ferrous.  i.e. my normal food-eating knife set has a ferrous blade part and a non-ferrous handle part.  I always figured they were the same, but the magnet says they are different materials.  Which is pretty neat.  I have found the same thing with spoons sometimes.  the scoop is ferrous and the handle is not.  I assume it would be because the scoop/blade parts need extra forming steps so need to be a more work-able metal.  Cheaper cutlery is not like this.

The same applies to hot pieces of metal.  Ovens, stoves, kettles, soldering irons...  When they accidentally move towards your fingers, or your fingers are compelled to be attracted to them.  Thats a slightly unsafe experience.


You know how when you run a microwave it buzzes, in a *vibrating* sorta way.  if you put your hand against the outside of a microwave you will feel the motor going.  Yea cool.  So having a magnetic ring means you can feel that without touching the microwave from about 20cm away.  There is a variability to it, better microwaves have more shielding on their motors and are leak less.  I tried to feel the electric field around power tools like a drill press, handheld tools like an orbital sander, computers, cars, appliances, which pretty much covers everything.  I also tried servers and the only thing that really had a buzzing field was a UPS machine (uninterupted power supply).  Which was cool.  Only other people had reported that any transformer - i.e. a computer charger would make that buzz.  I also carry a battery block with me and that had no interesting fields.  Totally not exciting.  As for moving electrical charge.  Cant feel it.  If powerpoints are receiving power - nope.  not dying by electrocution - no change.

boring superpower

There is a reason I call magnetic rings a boring superpower.  The only real super-power I have been imparted is the power to pick up my keys without using my fingers.  and also maybe hold my keys without trying to.  As superpowers go - thats pretty lame.  But kinda nifty.  I don't know. I wouldn't insist people do it for the life-changing purposes.


Did I find a human-superpower?  No.  But I am glad I tried it.


Any questions?  Any experimenting I should try?

Happiness interventions

-5 [deleted] 20 June 2015 11:39AM


I found a website called Happier Human. It's about how to become and stay happier. I've trawled through it. Here are the best posts in my opinion:


[Meditate]. Don't [worry/overthink/fantasise/compare]. [Disregard desire]. [Motivate]. [Exercise gratitude]. [Don’t have kids].

[Buy many small gifts]. [Trade some happiness for productivity]. [Set] [happiness goals]


If you've found any other happiness interventions on any website, please share them.


Is my theory on why censorship is wrong correct?

-24 hoofwall 12 April 2015 04:03AM

So, I have next to no academic knowledge. I have literally not read or perhaps even picked up any book since eighth grade, which is where my formal education ended, and I turn 20 this year, but I am sitting on some theories pertaining to my understanding of rationality, and procrastinating about expressing them has gotten me here. I'd like to just propose my theory on why censorship is wrong, here. Please tell me whether or not you agree or disagree, and feel free to express anything else you feel you would like to in this thread. I miss bona fide argument, but this community seems way less hostile than the one community I was involved in elsewhere....


Also, I feel I should affirm again that my academic knowledge is almost entirely just not there... I know the LessWrong community has a ton of resources they turn to and indulge in, which is more or less a bible of rationality by which you all abide, but I have read or heard of none of it. I don't mean to offend you with my willful ignorance. Sorry. Also, sorry for possibly incorporating similes and stuff into my expression... I know many out there are on the autistic spectrum and can't comprehend it so I'll try to stop doing that unless I'm making a point.


Okay, so, since the following has been bothering me a lot since I joined this site yesterday and even made me think against titling this what I want, consider the written and spoken word. Humans literally decided as a species to sequence scribbles and mouth noises in an entirely arbitrary way, ascribe emotion to their arbitrary scribbles and mouth noises, and then claim, as a species, that very specific arbitrary scribbles and mouth noises are inherent evil and not to be expressed by any human. Isn't that fucking retarded?


I know what you may be thinking. You might be thinking, "wow, this hoofwall character just fucking wrote a fucking arbitrary scribble that my species has arbitrarily claimed to be inherent evil without first formally affirming, absolutely, that the arbitrary scribble he uttered could never be inherent evil and that writing it could never in itself do any harm. This dude obviously has no interest in successfully defending himself in argument". But fuck that. This is not the same as murdering a human and trying to conceive an excuse defending the act later. This is not the same as effecting the world in any way that has been established to be detrimental and then trying to defend the act later. This is literally sequencing the very letters of the very language the human has decided they are okay with and will use to express themselves in such a way that it reminds the indoctrinated and conditioned human of emotion they irrationally ascribe to the sequence of letters I wrote. This is possibly the purest argument conceivable for demonstrating superfluity in the human world, and the human psyche. There could never be an inherent correlation to one's emotionality and an arbitrary sequence of mouth noises or scribbles or whatever have you that exist entirely independent of the human. If one were to erase an arbitrary scribble that the human irrationally ascribes emotion to, the human will still have the capacity to feel the emotion the arbitrary scribble roused within them. The scribble is not literally the embodiment of emotionality. This is why censorship is retarded.


Mind you, I do not discriminate against literal retards, or blacks, or gays, or anything. I do, however, incorporate the words "retard", "nigger", and "faggot" into my vocabulary literally exclusively because it triggers humans and demonstrates the fact that the validity of one's argument and one's ability to defend themselves in argument does not matter to the human. I have at times proposed my entire argument, actually going so far to quantify the breadth of this universe as I perceive it, the human existence, emotionality, and right and wrong before even uttering a fuckdamn swear, but it didn't matter. Humans think plugging their ears and chanting a mantra of "lalala" somehow gives themselves a valid argument for their bullshit, but whatever. Affirming how irrational the human is is a waste of time. There are other forms of censorship I shout address, as well, but I suppose not before proposing what I perceive the breadth of everything less fundamental than the human to be.


It's probably very easy to deduce the following, but nothing can be proven to exist. Also, please do bear with my what are probably argument by assertion fallacies at the moment... I plan on defending myself before this post ends.


Any opinion any human conceives is just a consequence of their own perception, the likes of which appears to be a consequence of their physical form, the likes of which is a consequence of properties in this universe as we perceive it. We cannot prove our universe's existence beyond what we have access to in our universe as we perceive it, therefore we cannot prove that we exist. We can't prove that our understanding of existence is true existence; we can only prove, within our universe, that certain things appear to be in concurrence with the laws of this universe as we perceive it. We can propose for example that an apple we can see occupies space in this universe, but we can't prove that our universe actually exists beyond our understanding of what existence is. We can't go more fundamental than what composes our universe... We can't go up if we are mutually exclusive with the very idea of "up", or are an inferior consequence of "up" which is superior to us.


I really don't remember what else I would say after this but, I guess, without divulging how much I obsess about breaking emotionality into a science, I believe nudity can't be inherent evil either because it is literally the cause of us, the human, and we are necessary to be able to perceive good and evil in the first place. If humans were not extant to dominate the world and force it to tend to the end they wanted it to anything living would just live, breed, and die, and nothing would be inherently "good" or "evil". It would just be. Until something evolved if it would to gain the capacity to force distinctions between "good" and "evil" there would be no such constructs. We have no reason to believe there would be. I don't know how I can affirm that further. If nudity- and exclusively human nudity, mind you- were to be considered inherent evil that would mean that the human is inherent evil, that everything the human perceives is is inherent evil and that the human's understanding of "rationality" is just a poor, grossly-misled attempt at coping with the evil properties that they retain and is inherently worthless. Which I actually believe, but an opinion that contrary is literally satanism and fuck me if I think I'm going to be expounding all of that here. But fundamentally, human nudity cannot be inherent evil if the human's opinions are to be considered worth anything at all, and if you want to go less fundamental than that and approach it from a "but nudity makes me feel bad" standpoint, you can simply warp your perception of the world to force seeing or otherwise being reminded of things to be correlated to certain emotion within you. I'm autistic it seems so I obsess about breaking emotionality down to a science every day but this isn't the post to be talking about shit like that. In any case, you can't prove that the act of you seeing another human naked is literal evil, so fuck you and your worthless opinions.


Yeah... I don't know what else I could say here, or if censorship exists in forms other than preventing humans from being exposed to human nudity, or human-conceived words. I should probably assert as well that I believe the human's thinking that the inherent evil of human nudity somehow becomes okay to see when a human reaches the age of 18, or 21, or 16, or 12 depending on which subset of human you ask is retarded. Also, by "retarded" I do not literally mean "retarded". I use the word as a trigger word that's meant to embody and convey bad emotion the human decides they want to feel when they're exposed to it. This entire post is dripping with the grossest misanthropy but I'm interested in seeing what the responses to this are... By the way, if you just downvote me without expressing to me what you think I'm doing wrong, as far as I can tell you are just satisfied with vaguely masturbating your dissenting opinion you care not for even defining in my direction, so, whatever makes you sleep at night, if you do that... but you're wrong though, and I would argue that to the death.

Human Minds are Fragile

22 diegocaleiro 11 February 2015 06:40PM

We are familiar with the thesis that Value is Fragile. This is why we are researching how to impart values to an AGI.

Embedded Minds are Fragile

Besides values, it may be worth remembering that human minds too are very fragile.

A little magnetic tampering with your amygdalas, and suddenly you are a wannabe serial killer. A small dose of LSD can get you to believe you can fly, or that the world will end in 4 hours. Remove part of your Ventromedial PreFrontal Cortex, and suddenly you are so utilitarian even Joshua Greene would call you a psycho.

It requires very little material change to substantially modify a human being's behavior. Same holds for other animals with embedded brains, crafted by evolution and made of squishy matter modulated by glands and molecular gates.

A Problem for Paul-Boxing and CEV?

One assumption underlying Paul-Boxing and CEV is that:

It is easier to specify and simulate a human-like mind then to impart values to an AGI by means of teaching it values directly via code or human language.

Usually we assume that because, as we know, value is fragile. But so are embedded minds. Very little tampering is required to profoundly transform people's moral intuitions. A large fraction of the inmate population in the US has frontal lobe or amygdala malfunctions.

Finding out the simplest description of a human brain that when simulated continues to act as that human brain would act in the real world may turn out to be as fragile, or even more fragile, than concept learning for AGI's.

Street action "Stop existential risks!", Union square, San Francisco, September 27, 2014 at 2:00 PM

-14 turchin 20 September 2014 02:08PM

Existential risks are the risks of human extinction. A global catastrophe will happen most likely because of the new technologies such as biotech, nanotech, and AI, along with several other risks: runaway global warming, and nuclear war. Sir Martin Rees estimates these risks to have a fifty percent probability in the 21st century.

We must raise the awareness of impending doom and make the first ever street action against the possibility of human extinction. Our efforts could help to prevent these global catastrophes from taking place. I suggest we meet in Union square, San Francisco, September 27, 2014 at 2:00 PM in order to make a short and intense photo session with the following slogans:

Stop Existential Risks!

No Human Extinction!

AI must be Friendly!

No Doomsday Weapons!

Ebola must die!

Prevent Global Catastrophe!

These slogans will be printed in advance, but more banners are welcome. I have previous experience with organizing actions for immortality and funding of life extension near Googleplex, the White house in DC, and Burning Man, and I know this street action, taking place on September 27th,  is both legal and a fun way to express our points of view.

Organized by Alexey Turchin and Longevity Party.


Update: Photos from the action.


Is Race Realism Racist?

-12 Aurini 12 May 2012 04:05AM

Race Realism AKA Human Biodiversity Theorem is an extremely contentious issue, which frequently seems to be owned by the extremists on both sides.  Some people say we should have a frank discussion on race, and personally I think we should have one.

The link that follows goes to a 20 minute youtube video where I discuss the issue.  Is it racist to discuss race realism?  By the colloquial defintion of racist.  Well, sort of.  But that doesn't mean you should throw the baby out with the bath water.  Stormfront might happily embrace any study that shows disparate achievement, but that doesn't mean that the studies are false.

Are the Race Realists on the internet anti-black, or is sensible social policy based upon acceptance of differences?




BTW, I've acted like a jerk.  This will be deleted in 48 hours.

What do the patterns of good and bad behaviours in an online world reveal about the nature of humanity?

5 XiXiDu 06 July 2011 05:36PM


Emergence of good conduct, scaling and Zipf laws in human behavioral sequences in an online world


We study behavioral action sequences of players in a massive multiplayer online game. In their virtual life players use eight basic actions which allow them to interact with each other. These actions are communication, trade, establishing or breaking friendships and enmities, attack, and punishment. We measure the probabilities for these actions conditional on previous taken and received actions and find a dramatic increase of negative behavior immediately after receiving negative actions. Similarly, positive behavior is intensified by receiving positive actions. We observe a tendency towards anti-persistence in communication sequences. Classifying actions as positive (good) and negative (bad) allows us to define binary 'world lines' of lives of individuals. Positive and negative actions are persistent and occur in clusters, indicated by large scaling exponents alpha~0.87 of the mean square displacement of the world lines. For all eight action types we find strong signs for high levels of repetitiveness, especially for negative actions. We partition behavioral sequences into segments of length n (behavioral `words' and 'motifs') and study their statistical properties. We find two approximate power laws in the word ranking distribution, one with an exponent of kappa-1 for the ranks up to 100, and another with a lower exponent for higher ranks. The Shannon n-tuple redundancy yields large values and increases in terms of word length, further underscoring the non-trivial statistical properties of behavioral sequences. On the collective, societal level the timeseries of particular actions per day can be understood by a simple mean-reverting log-normal model.



Popular science interpretation:

The way patterns of behaviour emerge and spread through society is the subject of intense research at the moment.

[...] behaviours spread from one network to another, for example, an angry phone conversation can affect the next email you write.

Today, Stefan Thurner at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico and a couple of pals [...] study the patterns of behaviour that emerge in a virtual world where every interaction is recorded for posterity.

The world they've chosen is a massive multiplayer online game called Pardus, which started in 2004 and today has some 380,00 players.

Thurner and co studied eight basic actions in which players interact with each other. These are: communication, trade, establishing or breaking friendships and enmities, attack and punishment. They simply recorded the stream of actions that each player performs and then looked for patterns that occur more often than expected.

Their conclusions are straightforward to state. Thurner and co found that positive behaviour intensifies after an individual receives a positive action.

However, they also found a far more dramatic increase in negative behaviour immediately after an individual receives a negative action. "The probability of acting out negative actions is about 10 times higher if a person received a negative action at the previous timestep than if she received a positive action," they say.

Negative action is also more likely to be repeated than merely reciprocated, which is why it spreads more effectively.

So negative actions seem to be more infectious than positive ones.

However, players with a high fraction of negative actions tend to have shorter lives. Thurner and co speculate that there may be two reasons for this: "First because they are hunted down by others and give up playing, second because they are unable to maintain a social life and quit the game because of loneliness or frustration."

So the bottom line is that the society tends towards positive behaviour.

[...] it opens a new front in the study of the human condition and the origin of good and bad behaviour.


"We interpret these findings as empirical evidence for self organization towards reciprocal, good conduct within a human society," they say.

[...] (popsci author note) Maybe. More interesting will be a next generation of studies that examine how small changes in environmental conditions can lead to big changes in behaviour.



Health Inflation, Wealth Inflation, and the Discounting of Human Life

0 XiXiDu 26 June 2011 10:31AM


This Article presents two new arguments against “discounting” future human lives during cost-benefit analysis, arguing that even absent ethical objections to the disparate treatment of present and future humanity, the economic calculations of cost-benefit analysis itself - if properly calculated - counsel against discounting lives at anything close to current rates. In other words, even if society sets aside all concerns with the discounting of future generations in principle, current discounting of future human lives cannot be justified even on the discounters’ own terms. First, because cost-benefit analysis has thus far ignored evidence of rising health care expenditures, it underestimates the “willingness to pay” for health and safety that future citizens will likely exhibit, thereby undervaluing their lives. Second, cost-benefit analysis ignores the trend of improved material conditions in developed countries. As time advances, residents of rich countries tend to live better and spend more, meaning that a strict economic monetization of future persons values the lives of our expected descendents above those of present citizens. These two factors justify “inflation” of future lives that would offset, perhaps completely, the discount rate used for human life. Until regulators correct their method of discounting the benefits of saving human lives in the future, the United States will continue to suffer the fatal costs of underregulation, and agencies will remain in violation of legal requirements to maximize net benefits.

Link: papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1845504

Paper (PDF): SSRN-id1845504.pdf

Via: marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2011/06/dont-apply-positive-discount-rates-to-human-lives.html

The problem of mankind indestructibility in disastrously unpredictable environment

-6 kononov 17 December 2010 11:36AM

The problem of mankind indestructibility in disastrously unpredictable environment

Concerning development of human race indestructibility roadmap

Kononov Alexandr Anatolievich, PhD (Engineering), senior researcher, Institute of Systems Analysis, Russian Academy of Sciences, member of Russian Philosophical Society of RAS, kononov@isa.ru


Many discoveries in astronomy and earth sciences, made within the past decades, turned to be the ones of new threats and risks to the existence of humankind on the Earth and in Space. Lending itself readily is a conclusion of that our civilization is existing and evolving in a disastrously unstable environment, which is capable of destroying it any time, and only a fortunate coincidence (luck) allowed our civilization to develop up to the current level. But this “luck” will hardly be everlasting.


Dangers of human race destruction

For several years now the author has maintained an Internet project “Multiverse Dossier” (in Russian)  (http://www.mirozdanie.narod.ru) whose several sections carry a big number of scientific papers and messages of the last space discoveries, which suggest a conclusion of a catastrophic character of the processes running in Space, and of unpredictability of impact thereof on life in the part of the Space inhabited by humankind. Not much more predictable are geological processes, many of which may come to be sources of global natural disasters. Indeed, nearly each step in the evolution of civilization brings along new threats and risks to its existence.

Following below are a list of main groups of threats of global catastrophes and several examples of the threats.



Disasters resulting from geological processes. Supervolcanos, magnetic pole shift, earth faults and the processes running in deeper strata of the Earth

Disasters resulting from potential instability of Sun. Superpowerful solar flares and bursts, potential instability of reactions providing for solar luminocity and temperature supporting life on the Earth

 Disasters resulting from Space effects (asteroids, comets; a possibility of a malicious intrusion of an alien civilization cannot be ruled out either)


Engendered by civilization

Self-destruction. Resulting from the use of weapons of mass destruction.

Environment destruction. As a result of man-made disasters.

Self-extermination. The choice of an erroneous way of civilization evolution, say, the one limiting the pace of building up civilization’s technological strength. Given civilization existence in a disastrously unstable environment such a decision may turn to be a sentence of civilization’s self-extermination – it will simply have no time to prepare for the upcoming catastrophes. Many other theories, bearing upon the choice of directions of civilization evolution, also can, given a lop-sided non-systemic application thereof, inflict a heavy damage and prevent civilization from appropriately resolving the tasks, which would have enabled it to manage the potential disasters. Even the idea of civilization’s indestructibility, presented herein, carries a risk of justifying super-exploitation (sacrificing the living generations) for the sake of solving the tasks of civilization’s indestructibility. Hence, importance of the second part of this ideology – raising the culture of keeping the family and individual memory. Remarkably, this culture may act as a defense from a variety of other risks of dehumanization and moral degradation of civilization.

Provoking nature instability. For instance, initiating greenhouse effect and climatic changes.

Threats of civilization destruction endangered by new technologies and civilization evolution (civilization dynamics). These are threats which humankind must learn to handle as new technologies emerge and space developed (space expansion). For example, the emergence of information society gave rise to a whole industry handling security problems (cyber security) arising when using computer and telecoms technologies. The necessity of diverting huge resources for solving security problems associated with new technologies is an inevitable prerequisite of progress. It must be understood and taken for granted that solving the problems of security of each new technological or civilizational breakthrough (e.g., creation of extraterrestrial space colonies) may come to be many times as costly as the price of their materialization. But this is the only way of ensuring security of progress, including that of space expansion.


Threat of life destruction on a space scale

These are largely hypothetical threats, but the known cases of collisions and explosions of galaxies are indicative of that they may but be ignored. These are:

  • Threats of life destruction in the part of the Galaxy, where the Solar system lies;
  • Threats of life destruction throughout the Galaxy or in a cluster of Galaxies, which the Milky Way is part of;
  • Threats of destruction of the Universe or life in the Universe;
  • Threats of life destruction in potentially existing structures, which our Universe may be part of.


Indestructibility as civilization’s principal supertask

The presence of a huge number of threats to the survival of civilization makes civilization’s indestructibility to be the main task, and sooner, with regard to the scale and importance, the central supertask. The other global civilizational supertasks and tasks such as extension of human life, rescuing mankind from diseases, hunger, stark social inequality (misery, poverty), crime, terrorism largely become senseless and lose their moral potential, if the central supertask – civilization’s indestructibility – is not being handled. Ignoring this supertask implies a demonstrable indifference to the fate of civilization, to the destiny of future generations, thereby depriving the living generations of an ethical foundation because of immorality and cruelty (to the future generations, thus doomed to death) of such a choice.

So, what potential ways of solving this central supertask of civilization are available?

Generally speaking, the current practice of responding to the threats suggests looking for ways of guarding against each one of them. But the quantity and scale of threats to civilization destruction as well as fundamental impossibility of defending from them in any other way but only by breaking the dependence of civilization fate on the places where these threats exist, render a conclusion that a relatively reliable (in relation to other possible solutions, say, by creating protective shells or arks) solution of the task of civilization’s indestructibility can be provided only by way of space expansion. Yet, keeping in mind that there are no absolutely safe places in all of the Universe and, probably, across the Creation, the task of civilization salvation  comes to a strive for a maximum distribution of civilization, maintaining unity, across a possibly maximum number of spaces along with possession of considerable evacuation potential in each one of them.

So civilization space expansion ought to imply surmounting civilization’s dependence on the habitats, which may be destroyed. And the first task along the line implies surmounting mankind’s dependence on the living conditions on the Earth and on the Earth fate. It may be solved by a purposive colonization of the solar system. That is by establishing technologically autonomous colonies on all planets or their moons, where this is possible, and by creating autonomous interplanetary stations, prepared for full technological independence from the Earth.

This must be accompanied by a gradual shift of manufacturing operations, critical for the fate of civilization and hazardous for the Earth environment, beyond the limits of our planet and distribution thereof across the solar system. The planet of Earth shall be gradually assigned the role of environmentally sound recreational zone designed for vacations and life after retirement

Solution of this task, i.e. establishment of colonies technologically independent upon the Earth and shifting critical operations beyond the Earth boundaries, can apparently take about 1,000 years. Though the history of the 20th century showed that humankind is capable of producing so many technological surprises within a mere 100 years! Note that this was done in spite of the fact that its smooth development, during the 100 years, was impeded by 2 world wars, disastrous in terms of their scale, numerous civil wars and bloody conflicts. Technological breakthroughs, given peaceful and goal-oriented activities, will probably make it possible to handle the tasks of severing civilization’s dependence on the fate of the Earth, solar system, etc. at a much higher pace than can be imagined now.

Try to define individual phases of potential space expansion, implying a marked upsurge in civilization’s indestructibility.

Upon surmounting the humanity’s fate dependence upon the fate of the Earth, next along the line shall come the task of getting over the dependence of civilization’s fate on the fate of solar system. This task will have to be coped with by colonizing spaces at a safe distance from our solar system. The expected time of accomplishment (given no incredible, from modern perspective, technological breakthroughs) spans scores thousands of years.

Then come the tasks of severing civilization’s fate dependence upon the fate of individual intragalaxy spaces and on the fate of Milky Way and Metagalaxy. The possibility of solving  these tasks will, apparently, be determined only by a potential emergence of new technologies unpredictable today.

Same applies to solving the next tasks, say, doing away with civilization’s fate dependence upon the fate of the Universe. It seems now that solution of this kind of tasks will be possible through the control of all critical processes running in the Universe, or through discovering technologies enabling transportation to other universes  (if any of these exist), or by way of acquiring technologies for creation of new universes suitable as new backup (evacuation) living spaces of civilization. 

An absolute guarantee of civilization’s safety and indestructibility can be produced only by the control of the Creation, be it is achievable and feasible in principle. But it is precisely this option that any civilization in Cosmos must strive at so as to be absolutely sure of its indestructibility.

Assume that Humanity is not the only civilization setting the supertask of indestructibility. What will happen given a meeting with other civilizations setting similar tasks?

It would be safe in assuming, at this point of reasoning, natural occurrence of an objective law, which may be referred to as Ethical Filter Law.


Ethical Filter Law[1]: it is only civilizations with a rather high ethical potential, barring them from self-annihilation given availability of technologies capable of turning into the means of mass destruction during intra-civilization conflicts, which can evolve up to the level of civilization capable of space expansion on interplanetary and intergalaxy scale.

In other words, civilizations with high technologies at hand but failing to learn to behave are either destroyed, as any inadequately developed civilizations, by natural disasters which they are incapable of managing because of the lack of appropriate capabilities, which they had no time to develop probably not least because of wasting efforts and allocated time on self-annihilation (wars).

Given two and more space civilizations, which strive towards indestructibility and which managed to get through the ethical filter, probably the most productive way of their co-existence can become a gradual unification thereof for solving the tasks of indestructibility of all civilizations, which managed to get through the ethical filter.

We may leave room for the existence of totalitarian civilizations capable of bypassing the above filter for they did not face a problem of self-annihilation because of their primordial unity. But, as is seen from historical experience of humankind, totalitarian civilizations (regimes) are more prone to undermining their own, nominally human potential due to the repressive mechanisms keeping them afloat, and are not capable of generating effective incentives for a progressive development, primarily technological one. That is, they are unviable in principle.

The potential specific principles of interaction with such totalitarian space civilizations must therefore be developed upon the emergence of this type of problems, if it becomes clear that they really can arise. Meanwhile we may treat the possibility of meeting such civilizations, which may turn to be hostile towards humankind, as any other space threat, whose repulsion will be dependent upon availability of sufficient civilization capacities required for handling this kind of tasks.

Qualities of indestructible civilization

Let us define the qualities rendering civilization indestructible. In so doing, it would be necessary to answer a number of questions:

  • Which civilization has more chances to stay alive: the one which recognized that it is existing in a disastrously unstable Space, and must strive towards building up strengths for handling potential problems or the one ignoring these problems?

Apparently it is the civilization keen to augment its potential for meeting threats and risks of its destruction that has more chances for becoming indestructible.

  • Which civilization has more chances to stay alive: the one which has developed policies promoting the responsibility of the current generations before the subsequent generations, or the one which has no mechanisms of this kind?

The indestructible civilization has policies stimulating responsibility of the current generations before the next ones. And vice versa, civilizations deeming it senseless to show a deep concern of their future and of the fate of upcoming generations are doomed either to a gradual self-extermination or to destruction upon the very first apocalypse.

Following below are only answers and conclusions, questions ipso facto:

Ø      An indestructible civilization must strive to severing dependence of its fate on the fate of the place of its original and current habitation, i.e. to space expansion.

Ø      An indestructible civilization must strive to increasing its own population and to a higher quality of life and skills of each individual. Apparently, given colonization of new cosmic outreaches, the bigger the population and capabilities or, conditionally speaking, civilization’s human potential, the bigger its capacities for handling the problems of progress, space expansion, ensuring its permanent prosperity and security.

Ø      An indestructible civilization must strive to unity. All efforts towards civilization development and space expansion will be of no avail, should civilization disintegrate to an extent rendering it incapable of solving the evacuation tasks of rescuing those who happen to be in the area of disastrous manifestations of space elements.

Ø      An indestructible civilization must strive to raising ethical standards of its development, for this will permit it: not to destroy itself upon getting hold of the ever new technologies (which can be used as the means of mass destruction) and maintain civilization unity, which will in its turn provide opportunities for handling mass transcosmic evacuation tasks, the tasks of transgeneration responsibility and other indestructibility problems.


Concerning the necessity of developing theoretical principles of handling the tasks of humankind indestructibility

One can ascertain the existence of objective threats to human civilization by turning, for example, to the materials on “Multiverse Dossier”  site. Similarly, there are objectively existing civilization capabilities, which will enable it to counter possible catastrophes. Apparently, these capabilities must be controlled. That is, the tasks of their build up must be set, the factors augmenting these capacities be accounted for and promoted. There is need for scientific concepts and theories underpinning problems of civilization indestructibility potential control.

It is suggested to use the following concepts as the initial steps towards development of a scientific frame of reference relative to civilization indestructibility problems:

- civilization indestructibility potential;

- civilization competitiveness;

- competitiveness of social components making up civilization.

Civilization indestructibility capacities are defined as the qualities, achievements and characteristics of civilization enabling it, given the emergence of circumstances threatening its degradation or destruction, to counteract these developments and prevent civilization death or degradation.

There is a great deal of objective developments (threats, risks) which may, given a certain course of events, lead to civilization collapse, i.e. come to be stronger or, as is routinely said, higher than it. Yet, civilization is known to have certain capacities, qualities, capabilities which may enable it to counteract these circumstances. That is objectively, there are some relations (ratio) of potential forces. Let us refer to these relations as competition. Then it would be safe in saying that there is an objective competition between the developments, capable of destroying the civilization, and civilization’s capacities to counteract these circumstances and surmount them. It is precisely the civilization’s capacities to counteract potential circumstances (threats, risks), which may destroy or weaken it, that we shall refer to as civilization competitiveness.

Apparently, civilization competitiveness, just as any capabilities, may be developed by, say, building up competitive advantages (indestructibility capacities).

Now turn to the concepts of competitiveness of social components making up civilization.

Civilization is primarily its carriers. Humanity is, in the first place, people and social structures they are part of. The reality is that our civilization is made up of nations (state nations and ethnic nations). As is seen from history, civilization progress and well-being are largely dependent upon the progress and well-being of individual nations, on prosperity of societies, families and individuals.

Prospering nations push civilization forward. Living conditions of prosperous nations create conditions for their representatives to handle the tasks promoting civilization’s progress. At the same time, individual nations also face problems and circumstances, which may force these nations, along with the entire civilization, to regress, the circumstances leading individual nation to destruction.

It is therefore very important to understand that as there is, quite objectively, competition of civilization and circumstances, which may destroy it, so, as objectively, there is competition of each nation with the circumstances, which may weaken the nation and lead it to a state where it, instead of being one of the forces strengthening and promoting competitiveness of civilization at large, comes to be a factor weakening the civilization. The nation’s competitiveness in securing its permanent prosperity must therefore become a national idea of each nation, the adherence to which will enable it to incorporate in its life some objective criteria to be used in making any vital decisions by way of assessing their impact on competitiveness potential and competitive advantages of the nation securing its permanent prosperity.

Of course, as far as nation’s competitiveness is concerned, the point is of competitiveness of similar topics considered for civilization as a whole, i.e. of competitiveness with risks, threats, circumstances which may lead nations to catastrophes but by no means to competition with other nations, for this kind of competition is a way to destruction or weakening of the competing nations and civilization as a whole. In the final count, the correctly perceived idea of nations’ competitiveness must bring them to unification thereof for securing indestructibility of the entire human civilization. We are witnessing examples of a positive movement along the line in both collective space exploration on board the international space station and in the development of the European Union made up of countries which had been fighting with each other for centuries. In the majority of advanced countries, security, prosperity and permanence of nation’s prosperity have already become a national idea. In October last year, the nation’s competitiveness was declared a national idea in Kazakhstan. Take the speech of N.A.Nazarbaev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, at the 12th session of the Assembly of the peoples of Kazakhstan (Astana, 24 October 2006, http://www.zakon.kz/our/news/print.asp?id=30074242 ) where the nation’s competitiveness was just declared national idea. Then it should be noted that not a word was uttered about any competition with other nations, the point was only of the nation’s competitiveness in relation to challenges and problems facing the country. High rates of Kazakhstan development in recent years say for the fruitfulness of the choice of precisely this way of development.

Then, in considering social structure of civilization, it would be right to speak of family and individuals. No doubt, the family largely determines both the development and daily state and capacities of the individual. It would be only right, therefore, to speak of competitiveness of families and individuals, again using the term “competitiveness” in the meaning as it is defined above, i.e. not of competition between individual families and persons, which can in principle undermine ethical and other capacities of the nation and civilization, but only of competition with potential challenges, threats, risks, developments, problems.

Of course, the state and competitiveness of individual are dependent not only on the family but also on other social structures, which they may be involved with. What is more, with respect to some structures of this kind there is a traditional perception of their competitiveness implying competition precisely between this kind of structures, notably, competition between firms or any other for-profit organizations, competition between parties, etc. One cannot but admit that competitive struggle between such entities is one of the driving forces of technological, economic, social change of modern civilization. At the same time, introduction of an alternative perception of the terms “competition” and “competitiveness” as competition with challenges, developments, risks, threats, problems (which is envisaged under the frame of reference of theoretical civilization indestructibility) will probably promote a gradual formation of ethically more harmonious axiological base (values) underlying relationships of this type (commercial, political and the like) of organizations not accompanied by lower dynamics of civilization’s technological and economic change. That is the point is of that competition, in its traditional meaning, is civilization’s economic and technological driving force, but putting it mildly, does not promote development and strengthening of civilization’s ethical potential. And the point is of whether an alternative perception of competition, put forward by the theory of civilization indestructibility, can remove or mitigate the drawback of the traditional perception of the term “competition”, by improving the ethical component and introducing a refining ambiguity in the semantics of “competition” concept, simultaneously preserving the vital mechanisms of securing civilization development dynamics implied by this traditional perception?

Ray Bradbery described a “butterfly effect” in one of his stories. The hero of the story, while on excursion to the past, had crushed a butterfly, hence, the world he came back to turned to be much worse. Let alone the negative impact on humanity’s progress and competitiveness of the premature death of its representatives who could make contributions to its development and prosperity. This effect is quite correctly expressed by John Donne’s words “Do not ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee”. Any person deceased could well become precisely the one, who could save, for instance, cure, pull out of a critical situation, invent or create something which could, even indirectly, help the person who could, thanks to the help, gain an opportunity to save anybody or each one of us. But having died, he would no longer be capable of doing so. The death of each reduces the human potential of civilization – the major potential of its indestructibility.

Human potential constitutes a basis of competitiveness of both any nation and civilization as a whole. Also, one can put it differently: competitiveness of each is a foundation of competitiveness of civilization. Of that the greatest problems exist precisely in this area is evidenced, for example, by the fact that about 1 million people commit suicide every year in the world – the odds turned to be against them. Many more people die because of, mildly speaking, ethical imperfection of human relations – murders (including those in the course of military  operations), violence, famine, non-delivery of adequate medical care and other assistance. In this connection, a new rethinking of the terms “competition” and “competitiveness” in the light of the concepts of humanity indestructibility theory (HUT), built in these terms, can provide hope for improvement of the current situation.

What else can theoretical development of the problems of civilization indestructibility produce? Note just two directions:

  • Development of a set of objective indicators and criteria for decision making on the development of civilization and its social components;
  • Finding systems solutions promoting a higher competitiveness of civilization and its social components.

The importance of a set of objective indicators and criteria for decision making, taking into account the vital necessity of building up the potential of indestructibility and competitive advantages of civilization can be judged by at least from an example such as closing the Moon exploration programmes in the 1970’s. The bulk of the huge resources invested in the projects was, in the final count, just buried because neither the USA, nor the USSR had any sufficiently convincing motives for continuation of these programmes. As a result, several decades of space evolution of civilization were just lost. And the resources and funds which could be invested in space expansion were spent on satisfying the ambitions along the lines devastating for civilization, namely, US war in Vietnam and USSR war in Afghanistan.

The idea of the necessity of developing the culture of keeping family and individual memory of each person living on the Earth, being an integral component of HUT and a major defence mechanism against potentially incorrect, hence destructive application of the key concepts of humanity indestructibility theory is an example of systems solutions contributing to a higher competitiveness of civilization and its social components.

Modern digital technologies make it possible to keep memory of each person. Should there emerge and develop a culture of keeping and passing digital information (memory) of one’s self, one’s relations and friends over from generation to generation, then the best features of each can be remembered forever. Each one would be in a position to preserve one’s ideas and thoughts for good, keep the memory of the very interesting and important instants in one’s life, of the one he/she knew and loved, and who was dear to him/her. Thus, each one would be in a position to remain a fraction of human civilization memory for good. Nobody will leave this world vanishing into thin air, each will always be remembered.

It seems the culture of keeping family and individual memory may improve humanity’s competitiveness by providing for:

Ø      Higher responsibility:

l      of the living generations before the upcoming ones;

l      of state leaders for the decisions made;

l      people before one another;

Ø      Better human relations:

l      between representatives of different generations in the family;

l      higher status of each person – each one will always be a part of human civilization memory;

Ø      Defence mechanism:

l      from political speculations like: “life for the sake of future generations”;

l      from cruelty of authorities;

l      from cruelty in interpersonal relations ;

Ø      Mechanism of refining human nature and building up civilization’s ethical potential;

Ø      Creation of a core, nucleus, root securing unity of civilization in its space expansion, when moving across the immense space;

In summarizing the arguments produced in evidence of the necessity of developing theoretical solution of the task of civilization indestructibility, it may be noted that the quantity of sub-tasks subject to solution for solving the main task can turn to be huge, and virtually each one of these places demand on construction of its paradigms, its theoretical elaboration. Therefore, at the first phase of developing the theory of civilization indestructibility it makes sense to speak of the general theoretical principles, of general theory of indestructibility, and only thereafter, as deeper solutions of individual, special and partial tasks are found, start building special theories linked to the requirements of development of individual capacities (technological, ethical, evacuation, etc.) and solution of the tasks of a higher competitiveness (in terms of indestructibility theory) of individual social components.


What must the statement of the problems of civilization indestructibility and space expansion give to the living generations of people?

Ø      Alleviation of the risks of war – nothing undermines civilization indestructibility capacities as heavily as wars. MIC resources must be redirected to handling the tasks of and creating capacities for space expansion and Cosmos colonization.

Ø      Justification of importance of higher living standards of people – for only the high living standards enable the possibly maximum number of people to master the sophisticated technologies, realize their talents on their basis, and contribute to the development of ever new and sophisticated technologies. The authorities will increasingly understand that the nations’ competitiveness is largely dependent upon living standards of people, and that social programmes are not wasting money but rather laying a foundation and an important prerequisite of a permanent prosperity and competitiveness of nations.

Ø      Attaching new sense to human life. A more responsible attitude of people to their own and others’ lives, higher ethical standards of human relations, hence, lowering crime rate and terrorist activities.

Ø      A major ideological justification for conflict resolution, unification of nations and civilization as a whole.

Ø      New living spaces.

Ø      New sources of raw materials.

Ø      New employment sectors and jobs.

Ø      New markets.



1.       Lefevre V.A. Space Subject. Moscow, Kogito-Centr Publishing house, 2005, 220p.

2.       Nazaretyan A.P. Civilizational Crises in the Context of Universal History. 2-nd ed. Moscow, Mir Publishing house, 2004, 367 p.

3.       Hvan M.P. A Violent Universe: from the Big Bang up to Accelerated Expansion, from Quarks to Superstrings. Moscow, URSS Publishers, 2006, 408p.

4.       Narlikar Jayant "Violent Phenomena in the Universe", Oxford UP, 1984, 246 р.

[1] This law is known in a somewhat benign definition, not associated with the problems of civilization space expansion and competitiveness, as a law of techno-humanitarian balance [Nazaretyan A.P., 2004, p. 112]: “the greater the power of productive and combat technologies, the greater the need for more sophisticated tools of cultural regulation for preserving the society”.




Rationality and advice

7 NancyLebovitz 08 October 2010 07:45AM

Giving advice is one of those common human behaviors which doesn't get examined much, which means a little thought might improve understanding of what's going on.

The evidence-- that giving advice is much more common than asking for it or following it-- suggests that giving advice is more a status transaction than a practical effort to help, and I speak as a person who's pretty compulsive about giving advice.

So, here's some advice about advice, assuming that you don't want to just raise your status on unwilling subjects.

Do what you can to actually understand the situation, including the resources the recipient is willing to put into following advice.

The idea that men give unwelcome advice to women, when the women just want to vent but can solve their problems themselves, is an oversimplification. There are women who give advice (see above). There are men who are patient with venting. I think the vent vs. want advice distinction is valuable, but ask rather than assuming gender will give you the information you need.

I have a friend who I've thanked for giving me advice, and his reaction was "but you didn't follow it!". Sometimes it helps to give people ideas to bounce off of.

Pjeby (if I understand him correctly) has been very good about the way people can reinterpret advice in light of their mental habits-- for example, hearing "find goals that inspire you" as "beat yourself up for not having achieved more".

Eliezer on Other-Optimizing-- it's from the point of view of being given lots of advice (mostly inappropriate), rather from the point of view of giving advice.