Friday, March 23, 2012

More on Intent...

...per [link] and [link].

The problem with fitting people onto any number of dimensional axes is that their position is a derivative function of something else.  In the authoritarian-libertarian spectrum, for example, there are multiple reasons one could be at any given position in that axis, reasons which are predictive of divergences from the "party line" at that point in the axes.

As an axis, intent circumvents the libertarian two-axis politicality; somebody for whom intent is primary generally falls heavily into both the "liberal" and "authoritarian" spectrums, because the value of conservativism depends upon accepting existing solutions without (necessarily) questioning the reason those solutions were put in place.  When you question intent, you question the system which exists, with a mess of divergent intentions which sums up to something that (in any sustained system) works.

The converse is not true, however; lack of focus on intent doesn't lead necessarily into either libertarianism or conservativism.

The product of axiomatic axes is a skewed distribution.  As a product of intent, I expect a cluster of individuals in the liberal-authoritarian section of the two-axis liberty-versus-agency conservative-versus-progressive graph.

I expect another cluster in the liberty side of the graph, as a result of focus on liberty; some conservative values are important (those which promote liberty), but some progressivism is also necessary, to eliminate those conservative values which oppose liberty.  This group is largely uninteresting to me, however.

The conservative cluster is a product of those who promote Order as the primary value; those who oppose disruptions as disruptions, and thus are inherently anti-progressive.  Such individuals may value intent, but not as a primary value - otherwise they would have to question the intentions of the system as it exists.  Intentions are therefore a secondary value, which is why such individuals generally accept the form of capitalism that exists today, resisting changes either to promote liberty or to promote some other value.  Such individuals are sometimes referred to as reactionary, but only from the perspective of those pushing another value in place of values which exist, because the only actions such individuals apparently engage in is to oppose changes - in short, they react to changes.  Promoting change is antithetical to their purpose, and so they are a political sleeping giant, stirring only when disturbed.  They are perhaps the strongest force in politics, but are easily defeated by concerted and targeted efforts.

Conservative interests are by definition neither authoritarian nor libertarian, defending merely the institutions which are in place.  They can be authoritarian, or libertarian, but only in the temporal sense - if the institutions are generally libertarian, conservatives are generally libertarian.  In the US, conservatives fall broadly across both, as a result of divisive interests.

The progressive cluster is the least well-defined, being defined solely by their desire to institute change.  It's a highly contentious group, as a result, which fights itself more frequently than any other group; in the US, there is a loose alliance of this cluster, represented cohesively only by "Political Correctness," which is in effect a code of rules among progressives intended to reduce infighting among the different goals represented.  Progressives are the most easily disrupted group as a result of the fact that most are limited-issue, aiming only at a small set of changes they desire, and also thus the most centrist on an individual basis, even though their alliance results in a very extreme consensus position.

The current alliance of progressives in the US has resulted in a siege mentality; individual progressives are judged by the consensus position they implicitly support, and many if not most feel mischaracterized as a result.  The rules which permit their alliance also forbid them from criticizing their allies, which makes it difficult for them to respond to accusations of extremism, more.  Argumentative tactics from this group thus come off as extremely aggressive, as they have little recourse in most situations except to criticize their opposition as strongly as possible.  Self-policing within the group results in staunch policing of outside positions as well - hence the "Outbreak of reasoned discourse" concept in the right.

Their alliance requires a minority position to succeed, however; while a member outside the alliance in a position of power is an enemy to unite against, one of their own in a position of power is a liability.  Obama, for example, is a potent disappointment to most of them, which causes their alliance to fragment.  This can be seen in the presidential elections of the last forty years; a conservative president will always follow a progressive one, and vice versa.  They unite against a conservative, and fragment behind a progressive.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Inflation... a lot more complicated than most libertarians are willing to lend it credit for.

Theft is too simple a description for what is going on, and too ignorant.

There's a wealth transfer, to be certain.  But this is not the same as theft.  If I own one of a limited printing of comic book, and the publisher prints more of these comic books out, my copy may become worth less - there is a wealth transfer from me to the owners of the newly printed and discounted copies - but nothing has been -stolen- from me.

And if tomorrow alchemy finally succeeds and lead can be freely turned into gold, although gold becomes worthless in the world, nothing is stolen from those who hoarded it.  What happens if a massive deposit is tomorrow discovered in some remote part of Siberia?  Gold rapidly loses its value.

A relatively common example in finance is stock dilution - the issuance of additional stock, diluting the value of existing stock and reducing everybody's percentage ownership of the company in exchange for capital investment.  (This is in fact more extreme an example than any other, because the result is that you literally own less of a tangible asset, as opposed to holding the same amount of a tangible asset with reduced value.)

What has happened is that an expectation is broken, perhaps an implicit contract that everybody bought into.  For it to be theft, that contract has to be explicit.

Therefore, what has not happened is theft.

Inflation is dangerous, yes.  But any damage any individual, or group of individuals, takes as a result of inflation is the direct result of their buying into an idea - the idea that money is a safe store of value.  The primary danger inflation poses is not to the public, which has a diverse economy, but to the government, which doesn't.  The government has a monopoly on money it is squandering for short-term interests.

There is no safe store of value.  Not pork, not gold, not real estate - not money.  The longing for a safe store of value is understandable, but in the end no different from the longing for a secure occupation, or a secure investment; it is a refusal to deal with reality on reality's terms.

I return to the proposition that inflation is dangerous - it is dangerous to the government, above and beyond all else.  Which is why the government must maintain that monopoly in order to be effective.

The evil in inflation is not the inflation itself, but the monopoly that demands that the country be a party to the collapsing currency, through not only the money itself, but the tax system which must be paid in it.  I see articles throughout the Internet about one particular evil of capitalism - the necessity of money.

It is not business that will seize your wilderness abode for lack of property tax payment; you rail at government and call it capitalism, an injustice of the grossest sort.  But that is another topic entirely.

Monday, March 19, 2012

As for Google...

...I see a few bloggers shifting edifices.

I'm not particularly concerned, as yet.  I regard Google as a corporation fundamentally cowardly; their bowing to countries like China demonstrates this.  But I don't regard them as stupid, and regard it as beyond them at this point in time to utilize their policies against their users.

Their policy changes are, while concerning, in line with what Google representatives have said about privacy; in short, they regard it as an outdated concept which will soon be extinct.

We'll see, is all I have to say about that.  In the meantime, I expect Google's cowardice and intelligence to mean nothing substantial will come of this, yet.

The Benefits of Ruling...

...are exceeded by the costs.

The ruled will always despise their rulers as incompetent, every failure laid at their feet.  Every iota of power granted to their ruler comes with expectations which will never - can never - be met.

The rulers will always despise the ruled, seeing them as miscreants aiming to thwart their own grand plans, throwing wrenches into schemes which, if only permitted to succeed, would do so on the grandest scale.  They never have enough power to truly do the good they seek, and so always seek more.

Democracy in the end despises itself, an institution continually expanding its power but never delivering on the promises it makes to itself.


...tend to assume other people think in an identical manner to themselves.

I don't.  I know for a fact that I think in a manner radically different from most others.  I know this just from trying to explain things; I use words in a manner which is... absurdly poetic.  I can stuff as much meaning in a sentence as would take some people several pages.  It's just typically difficult if not impossible for other people to decrypt everything I've put there.

Not to say by that that I am smarter than other people, although that is true, but that I think in the same manner.  The word "externality" from a couple of posts back, for example.  When I use it, the two definitions aren't distinct; I know they aren't distinct, one follows from the other.  So saying that information is missing from the system results in externalities is a very simple logic.  Other people might find that I was missing a step in the logical process, however, because I didn't demonstrate this; an externality IS missing information, however.  The statement is by my thought processes a tautology, necessary to state only because other people do not integrate information in the same manner I do.

And this is the manner in which I think.  As a result, or perhaps a precursor - the causality is unclear to me - I integrate information at an absurd rate.  There's almost nothing I know which isn't implicitly or explicitly related to other information; integrating information is largely the process for me of explicitly identifying these connections so they can be used implicitly.  Thermodynamics was absurdly easy to me after Physics I, which, introducing a lot of concepts I hadn't previously integrated (particularly concerning rotation), was the most difficult course I've ever taken.  I didn't merely integrate the specific information Physics conveyed, but the model, the metainformation; Thermodynamics contained very little new information for me, because it's operating on the same model, the same metainformation.

And I know for a fact that other people don't think the same way I do.  Mine is a slow and ponderous thinking process, powerful only because of the level of meaning encoded in each concept.  I know somebody for whom thinking is a delegatory multi-track process with a stack trace at the end of each thread's conclusion.  His thought process is radically different from mine; we still tend to arrive at the same conclusions.  An observer might conclude our thought processes were identical; this is far from the case.

The key point about an effective thought process is that it will, by and large, arrive at likely conclusions, given supporting evidence.  My thought process excels at certain tasks; his excels at others.  The intersection of these two thought processes is pretty substantial, however.

I know little to nothing of professional psychologists, but have considerably more experience with hobby psychologists, and they tend towards comprehensive models.  They want to define how the brain works, assuming, on the basis that people frequently arrive at similar conclusions, that there is one cohesive model that can describe this process.

This assumption is fatally flawed, however; it presumes that given a set of inputs, and given a single output, only one process can get from A to B.  The inputs and the outputs are just data points, and for any finite set of data points, there are an infinite number of potential formulae that can describe the graph.

Similarly, there are an infinite number of possible ways for somebody to be smart.

Some insist that this is unrealistic; that our brain shares a common architecture, that it must share a common data model, a common algorithm.  It is this insistence which is unrealistic; it presumes our logical faculties are hardcoded, something for which there is little to no affirmative evidence, and quite a bit of contradicting evidence.  Feral children are a frequent example, but also studies into linguistics as a formative brain model, demonstrating for example that cultures with more words for colors are better at distinguishing between colors.

There may be evidence I haven't seen, this is always a possibility, but my personal experience AND every piece of substantive evidence I have seen suggests very strongly that there is more than one mental model, that the pursuit of a universal model for the mind is fundamentally flawed in its base presumption that there is a universal model to be found.

This, I think, is a fault Ayn Rand was pretty heavily invested in, and one of my divergences from her mode of thinking.  I have encountered people who are willing to admit hypocrisy, and more defend it as a necessary element of existence; contradiction is something permissible not merely in their model of the world, but their model of themselves.  Contradiction isn't merely impermissible to me on a moral basis, it breaks the very mode by which I think, by which I reason.  Integration is -how- I think.  Contradiction throws null pointer exceptions all over the place; it just plain doesn't compute.  I could as easily invisage ultraviolet as a fourth color as imagine a persisted contradiction in my thoughts.  (That's not to say temporal contradictions don't arise, but they can't be integrated while contradicting; either the old or the new contradicted information has to go.  I am literally incapable of holding onto both at the same time.)

So I know there are multiple architectures for the thought process, simply by virtue of the fact that mine is extraordinarily and obviously divergent.  Insistence to the contrary is just silly to me.

In Vein...

...with a few other posts making their way [link] [link], with a ht to Marko, my own possible experience with a potential street robbery:

I and my brother were wandering the mean, mean streets of downtown New Haven (That's a half-joke; Yale was in sight where the incident occurred), when my brother and I noticed that a guy had been tailing us for about a city block.  He commented on it, I affirmed; just the fact that both of us noticed the guy suggested something.

I was unarmed, or as unarmed as a six foot, one-eighty pound guy who worked out regularly and jogged miles a day up and down hills can be.  My brother had a necktie knife.  So we watched cautiously for another block, and stepped into a convenience store for a few minutes.

And yep.  The guy, and now a buddy, were across the street when we came out, and started following us again as we started walking again.  We were definitely being tailed.

And so, thinking in sync, we started talking, very loudly, about a friend of ours who had been mugged; laughed that he had been unarmed, that he should have just shot the asshole.

The two peeled off and went in a different direction.

Your wits are your most effective weapon.  But when they fail, as they are prone to do, a gun makes a handy back-up.

Personally I'm inclined to have shot the fuckers, but that was before I owned a gun; I started the process for getting a concealed carry license in Connecticut shortly thereafter, and acquired a gun soon after that.  I dislike intensely that they simply moved on to less prepared targets.

I would have no compunctions about killing such creatures, in this I differ from most gun owners.  The paperwork and potential court costs would be an inconvenience, but preferential to an innocent individual dying in the stead of the mugger, for that is the alternative.

Transhumanism and the Technocratic Urge

Transhumanists deal with alien intelligence in their theory frequently; ask if they would support putting our economy in the hands of a powerful distributed AI, and they'll say yes.  Point out that capitalism represents the earliest, and thus far most powerful, artificial (and alien) intelligence yet encountered, and you'll leave them sputtering.  (See Less Wrong for transhumanist perspectives which aren't anti-capitalist; I presume the majority I have encountered here.)

Transhumanists, like most liberals, are big on intent (Hayek wrote about this, and Kevin from Smallest Minority has also written good material on the subject).  You can shut down arguments very quickly with a one-two-three punch; point out that capitalism achieves good ends.  An honest individual will admit to this, but will add a "But" to it; typically pointing out the externalities of the capitalism system.  Second, point out that externalities don't go away in another system; even a hyperintelligence can only account for the information it has, and has no power to predict information it doesn't; there will always be externalities to any decision-making process.

Here, the twin definitions of "externality" play in perfect cohesion - it is defined both as a price which is not reflected in cost, but also information which exists outside the perceived domain.  A strong understanding of capitalist theory holds that these are one and the same, of course.  Cost -is- information; information which isn't included in cost is an externality.

And third, and finally, while they're stumped on this second point, there's the simple fact that capitalism, as a hyperintelligence of distributed nodes, is tested and proven, and that their resistance to it stems from the fact (getting back to intent) that they dislike that the positive ends feel like externalities to the system; it has no sense of intent, and they fear this.  Their fears run in the face of all evidence; they are behaving like luddites.  Ask what kind of superintelligence they would put in charge, and why.  Ask whether the unintended consequences they may face are superior to a situation which chafes because it achieves an end without setting out towards it; why they demand their intelligence must possess intent to be effective.

I've played this argument out before.  It works, for a short while at least; people are good at rationalizing their positions, however, and rarely stray from hard-held beliefs.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The definition of light...

...according to my physics model:

Light is variance in gravity.  More particularly, it is a wave propagating through gravity representing a change in the origin of that gravitational force's position.

This strictly speaking doesn't depend upon my model of gravity, which I haven't elaborated greatly on yet; as far as I know it should work just as well in any model of gravity.  In a particulate gravity system, photons are just gravitons with different values than their predecessors.

It predicts some curious behavior for isolated particles, however.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Evolution of Infectious Agents...

[Figured I'd finish writing an older post.]

Historically, infectious agents are ultimately limited by their own success; a virus which is too successful kills its host and isolates itself from further propagation mechanisms.  A virus which isn't successful enough doesn't spread rapidly enough to propagate itself to begin with.  There's a fairly narrow window between these two failure modes wherein success lays.

Even if medicine were to make headway against infectious agents, it would only serve to move these windows over.  Medicine gets added to the arms race, rather than eliminating it.  The excesses of an infectious agent no longer lead to the destruction of its own viability; modern medicine helps maintain its hosts and return them to the pool it depends upon.

The campaign against infectious agents therefore must be all or nothing; the present strategy of amelioration is ultimately unsustainable.

Of course, it's possible we're merely delaying a "proper" solution until the day we're able to complete it.  The question that remains is whether our delays make a proper solution impossible, or at least delay its implementation as well; had we had the antibiotics a hundred years ago that we possess today, would broad-spectrum treatments have been survivable for any specimen?


...the blog is dead right now because I don't have a lot to say.

I amend that, I don't have a lot to say that I'll say here.

One of the rules I try to follow in writing for this blog is that everything I write must matter as much ten months or years from now as today, and right now, most of my interests are either personal or topical.