alexgieg

B.A. in Philosophy by University of Sao Paulo (USP), Brazil, and technical analyst at a Brazilian railway lab.

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What weird beliefs do you have?

One way to look at this is in focusing on what purpose money serves.

Suppose you do something for someone, and that person pays you a $1 bill. What does it mean, to have that $1 bill in your hands? After all, concretely speaking, it doesn't serve for much. It's a small piece of generic printed paper, so you can use it for same general purpose any piece of paper with something printed on it serves.

However, it has attached to a formal "possibility of" a future something, as you can eventually exchange it for something else, be it a good or a service. Hence, at its core that $1 bill is a contract, or more specifically, a promise.

Hence, when you do something and receive $1, you're exchanging that work for a promise. And, conversely, someone else is promising you a future reward in exchange for you doing something now. And, evidently, such promises themselves can be exchanged, such as when one exchanges one country's currency for another's.

Notice then that debt, in aggregate, works in a very similar way. When a credit agencies you owe money to negotiates that debt of yours with another, they're exchanging promises between themselves, tied to something eventually happening, namely, you providing them many $1 promise bills in exchange for a return of the big promise letter with your signature one of them is carrying. And thus, similarly, at higher layers, until the much higher one of debts hold by countries, which also are exchanged around.

Hence, at that very high level the movement of debts around is a form of money. Rather than moving around packs of first-order promises, aka, stored currency, they move around wide blocks of second or third-order promises, tied to their whole countries doing this or that in the negotiated time frame.

This is why holding countries to having a positive cash flow doesn't make much sense. I mean, it does make some sense, in that handing out blocks of "small promises" simplifies many things. But it also makes other movements more complex, as using debt, that is, "big promises", can be a very effective tool to move things faster when done carefully.

What weird beliefs do you have?

There is an objective measure, but it's content free. In the 1960's psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg noticed any moral opinion, irrespective of the direction it went (for or against something), always fits into one of six different patterns, one more cognitively complex than the other, all of them organized into a hierarchical sequence individuals pass through in order as their cognitive abilities develop, which he called stages of moral development. This theory of his was then determined to be psychometrically sound, and to provide reproducible results.

Field studies all over the world since then have shown the six stages in an adult population follow a Normal distribution, with some limited variance due to culture and ethnicity, but not much. In other words, when an individual reaches full maturity, by their mid-30's or so, they've usually arrived at the maximum stage they'll be stuck with for life, which suggests there are genetic and/or environmental causes for this cognitive limitation.

Hence, while what someone will consider "right" or "wrong" isn't determined by the stage they're in (those are influenced by group affiliation, culture, personal history, formal education, and many other factors), how they go about reasoning about moral decisions does indeed follow objectively measureable patterns.

What weird beliefs do you have?

True, and I do think that'd be quite exciting. My point is that humanity not being able to develop the option of, e.g., reloading a backup of oneself, or several then merging the results into a new integrated self, would be limiting. I do enjoy science fiction dealing on those topics after all, from Friendship is Optimal all the way to Iain M. Bank's Culture series, passing through Star Trek's endless transporter accidents, I find the idea of "identity as data" quite appealing. Having it tied to some kind of substratum is comparatively a kinda meh proposition, even if said substratum were to be shown to have quite interesting properties in other respects.

What weird beliefs do you have?

Yes, but that would (does?) also means a strict limit in how much cognitive abilities, including emotional amplitude, can be engineered. Neural engineering would has as its task improving a human body's brain up to that limit, but not beyond, as after a point it would be (is?) incompatible with "human souls".

So, the first-order news would be good, in that 42 billion or so human souls would be intact (barring something able to kill souls). The second-order news, however, is that the trillions to quadrillions of human beings that will still come to exist will all be, well, basically this, just spread around. So, for me, if those quadrillions of future human beings could have been orders or magnitude more at the price of all human beings so far existing not having a continuity into that future, the utility thus gained would also be orders of magnitude higher.

What weird beliefs do you have?

I believe in "supernatural phenomena" due to many anecdotal experiences I personally had. I do acknowledge they may all be me incorrectly evaluating ordinary natural phenomena or mental processes due to psychological quirks of mine. Hence, I make a constant effort to no let them interfere in anything I'm dealing with that has clear scientific consensus and/or hard data, or in my ethical, social, and political standings, preferring to keep both sides well separated. In short, to use LW terminology, I willfully compartmentalize.

However, I do not believe in separate magisteria. I'm confident that eventually either the mechanisms behind those experiences I have had will be well known, solving the confusion in a definite way, or those phenomena will be consistently observed, studied, scientifically understood, incorporated into physics, and turned into useful technologies.

Funnily, I'd have preferred not to have had those experiences, as I really like transhumanism and its projected future possibilities, such as cryonics-based resurrection, cognitive reengineering, uploading, mind splitting/remerging/backing up/restoring, and others, all of which becomes from extremely unlikely to impossible if what I've experienced is real. As such I don't see these, all things considered, as a net positive.

[Book Review] Destiny Disrupted

Original Islam, or whatever survives of it in the approved version of the Quran and the Hadith, was indeed impressive. Alas, once Quranic hermeneutics settled on the "abrogation method", rather than adopting the much more productive "harmonization method", so that verses such as "there is no compulsion in religion" were simply considered as not applying anymore because of newer verses, the potential for things going badly became a permanent fixture, always on the ready to cause problems.

I like it how modern, liberal Islamic scholars are trying to undo that mistake by going the harmonization way. Too bad they're a tiny minority, and that they're opposing millennia of traditions built on top of the very opposite take.

Blue is arbitrary

The color blue has other interesting associations too. You mention it as the color of the future, but in English it's also the color of sadness. In fact, notice how future-blue is quite frequently a color associated with emotionless machines, sterile broken utopias, oppressive orderliness, coldness, and similar unpleasantnesses. Due to movie making's need for visual contrast this also resulted in the color of chaos, happiness, warmth, and life becoming orange, even if it hadn't that association before (I don't know whether it did).

Curiously, here in Brazil there's some association between blue and happiness, not of the effusive kind, more that of a calm contentment. The lyrics for a famous song by Brazilian soul singer Tim Maia puts it so (my translation):

Blue as the color of the sea
Tim Maia
  
"Ah! If the whole world could hear me
I have much to tell
Saying that I learned
And in life
We must understand
That one is born to suffer
While the other laughs
  
But who suffers
Always must seek
At least come to find
A reason to live
To see in life some motivation
To dream
To have a dream wholly blue
Blue as the color of the sea
  
But who suffers
Always must seek
At least come to find
A reason to live
To see in life some motivation
To dream
To have a dream wholly blue
Blue as the color of the sea"
Useless knowledge; why people resist education improvement

I'm confused by this reply. I said that much in my first paragraph, and I provided the second as an analogy to better illustrate the first. I even said as much, informing at its opening it's an analogy.

In any case, you draw an important point. Philosophy isn't a set of axioms, and in fact doesn't have one. Rather, it's a set of problems. Philosophers, specially the major ones, ask questions no one asked before, and then try to answer them, in the process drawing even more questions. Since they're usually the very first person to have asked that question, the answer they tentatively provide to their own question is a prototype solution, the very first attempt at solving a problem no one even knew was a problem until then, which usually makes of them bad answers. But irrespective of their answers being bad or (rarely) good, the questions themselves remain, continuously prompting new and more refined answers. Until, eventually, sometimes, an actual definite answer is reached. But that takes centuries, or even millennia.

Sometimes the Philosopher is running out of time and doesn't even try to answer their questions, they just write them down for posterity. As in many other things, Aristotle is also the very first case of this. He wrote a book composed entirely of questions he was curious about but had no idea whatsoever how to answer. It took the development of the modern scientific method, itself based directly and indirectly on many of the ideas he developed, for those to begin being answered, and even so it still took the development of modern biology, and then that of the modern evolutionary synthesis, for many of those questions of his to be answered for real. I've seen an estimate that so far about 20% of this book was answered. Give it a few more centuries and the remaining 80% will be too. Probably.

So, it's in this sense these five philosophers are foundational: in the proper sense of Philosophy being about the questions. Their questions build upon each other, prompting new tentative solutions, which in turn prompt new questions, and so on and so forth, in a process through which every new generation of philosophers and non-philosophers alike try all over again to answer them, both the old questions as well as the newly developed ones.

PS: By the way, it'd be extremely weird for anyone to consider Plato and Aristotle "axiomatic" given they provide diametrically opposed answers whenever they answer the same question. Whatever one affirms, the other denies, and the other way around. I doubt anyone would be able to draw, taking both together, any shared belief between them, much less any agreed-upon axiom.

Useless knowledge; why people resist education improvement

In regards to Plato and Aristotle, they're taught because they're foundational. They provided the initial points and counterpoints to almost all, if not literally all, Philosophical fields, to the point many consider everything ever wrote by any Philosopher as comments for, against, or overcoming something either posited. Hence, if you don't know them, and proceed to more recent Philosophers, you end up missing a lot of the context upon which their more modern arguments are based, as well as risk failing to understand the criticisms levied against these arguments which in turn are based on alternate update path tracking back to either Plato or Aristotle.

For an analogy then, we might say Plato and Aristotle correspond respectively to the arithmetic and geometry of Philosophy. And then Descartes to its algebra, Kant to its calculus, and Hegel to its hyperbolic geometries. Everything is built atop one or more of these five, and requires knowing their ideas to be properly understood, which is why one's expected to have at least some familiarity, if not with all of them, with their core ideas, in this same order of relevance.

PS: "The Republic" isn't a proposal for an actual system of government, it's an analogy for the internal working of a person's psyche according what was known at the time. It uses the analogy of the individual psyche as a city and of different public roles for different mental functions, somewhat akin to what the animated movie "Inside Out" did. If you're interested in Plato's actual political philosophy the book to read is "The Laws", in which he discusses different systems of laws, with a particular focus on the pros, cons, and differences between the Athenian and Spartan systems, and considerations on how to construct sets of laws for polities.

Wait, this AGI is just wearing a person as a sock-puppet/love-interest?

It might be worse. Vi might be a meatbop from Rudy Rucker's Ware Tetralogy, which would make of Caesar also the first cheeseball. Hmm...

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