Let's make a deal

by Mitchell_Porter 9y23rd Sep 201054 comments


At the start of 2010, I resolved to focus as much as possible on singularity-relevant issues. That resolution has produced three ongoing projects:

  • work on a paper
  • study of string theory
  • investigation of academic options

As I put it the other day, the paper is about "CEV, adapted to whatever the true ontology is". I have ideas about how CEV should work, and about what the true ontology is, and about the adjustments that the latter might require. These ideas are tentative, and open to correction, and the objective is to find out the facts, not just to insist on an opinion. Indeed, I would be open to hearing that I ought to be working on something else, if I want to attain maximum relevance to the AI era. But for now, I have my plan, and I take it seriously as a blueprint for what I should be doing.

The relevance of string theory might seem questionable. But it matters for physical ontology and for epistemology of physics [ETA: which matters for general epistemology and hence for AGI]. String theory is also a crossroads for many topics central to pure mathematics, such as algebraic geometry, and their techniques are relevant for many other fields, even discrete ones like computer science. In the theory of complexity classes, there is a self-referential barrier to proving that P is distinct from NP. There is a deep proposal to overcome it by transposing the problem to the domain of algebraic geometry, and I've just begun to consider whether a similar method might illuminate problems like self-enhancement, utility function discovery, and utility function renormalization (for concreteness, I plan to work with decision field theory). Also, if I can speak string, maybe I can recruit some of those big brains to the task of FAI.

"Investigation of academic options" should be self-explanatory. A university is one of the few places where you might be able to work full-time on matters like these. Unfortunately, this outcome continues to elude me. So while I set about whipping up a stew of private microloans and casual work so as to keep a roof over my head, it's time for me to try the Internet option as well.

I find that life costs me AUD$1000/month (AUD is currency code for "Australian dollars"). I'd do better with more, but that's my minimum budget, the lower bound below which bad things will happen. So that's also the conversion rate from "money" to "free time".

I figure that there are three basic forms of cash transaction: gifts, payments, and loans. A gift is unconditional. A payment is traded for services rendered. A loan is a temporary increase in a person's capital that has to be returned. These categories are not entirely distinct: for example, a payment refunded (because the service wasn't performed) ends up having functioned as a loan.

I am interested in all three of these things. The brittle arrangement which allows me to speak to you this way does not presently extend to me owning a laptop or having easy access to Skype, but I do have a phone, so the adventurous can call me on +61 0406 979788. (I'm in the eastern Australian timezone.) My email is mporter at gmail.com, and I have a Paypal account under that address.