Possibly Pondered Probes
Last updated on April 7, 2020.
- Pondering a probe pertaining to a possible professional portfolio.
- What's on this blog?
- Why are you doing this?
- Why this site design?
- Can I post something on your blog?
- How can I contact you?
- How can I contact you securely with PGP?
- Can I cite your posts or copy them on my site?
- Why "Jach"?
- Why The Jach?
- Do you have a Quotes File?
- Can you sum up your core philosophical views in a short package so I don't completely misrepresent you when reporting second-hand?
- Who are you?
- Are you crazy?
- How about some non-philosophical views?
- Can I be your friend?
- What is your IQ?
- Can I insult you? Do I have to worry I might be insulting you?
- Who are your favorite rappers?
- Online Presence
- Job Inquiries
- Fun Links
Pondering a probe pertaining to a possible professional portfolio.
That's not a probe! In any case, my portfolio is here. (If it's not, that means I'm not actively looking for employment.) It includes some of my academic work as well.
Please also take a look at my job policy.
What's on this blog?
As it says at the top, this is a blog about the going-ons of my mind, which also includes my life. Be they posts about rationality, ethics, philosophy, math, computers, the weather, fiction, rants, programming, sharing knowledge and helping anyone who asks, pizza, love, or just something silly, I want a place where I can put some sort of thought down in an easily accessible format. I'd like to have a post-a-day streak for a whole year, but that doesn't seem likely to happen any time soon. I do have a goal of one million words, after which I will "start over" and while the links etc. to existing posts will remain they will be considered obsolete. I'm a long ways away still, only about 37% of the way there as of February 2020. If you include my Hacker News comments up to October 2014, then I'm over 50% of the way there, I should update my numbers again... Writing to the void in a forum is easier somehow. Less personal? But as time goes on I just find I have less to say.
Why are you doing this?
Besides for posting down and archiving my thoughts and for fun? Those are my primary motivations. Additionally I'd like to strengthen my writing skills by standards of elegance, persuasiveness, clarity, and decent content. (And some other things too, surely.) With enough practice maybe I'll write as well as the writers I've most looked up to. Nah... I probably won't ever get as good as them. Even if I tried writing more carefully all the time. Or on the technical level, even if I followed the rules of good writing more carefully (like shorter sentences instead of these nested parenthetical monsters and avoiding the passive voice (yes I have read and do own S&W)). Or even if I tried to write more persuasively. Maybe I can blame my parenthetical style as resulting from programming and from myself being the primary audience of my writings. :)
But even if I can't measurably improve from where I am, in (as of this moment) 2019, I can hold my writing-idols up as a standard and as a self-conscious reminder whenever someone tells me that I write well (I don't). I won't let the likely impossibility of perfection (or even becoming as good as any of those I think of as excellent writers) bring me down! Writing more does help me get faster at it, at least, plus it can be fun, plus it keeps me honest. All my school papers from 2010 were much easier to get done thanks to the previous half-year of writing a bunch of ~1000 word posts.
I'm embarrassed of much of the writing here, but I don't want pure embarrassment to dictate my actions, so writing helps me fight such feelings. It also (to my knowledge anyway, it's of course hard to know such things) hasn't affected anything like relationships or professional opportunities. Most people don't read. I don't think a single person I've known for many years ever peruses this blog, let alone subscribes to it. That's ok.
In short, I write for myself. Therefore it's your fault if you misinterpret me. I'm willing to rewrite with you as the audience though to try and clarify. Or at least have a discussion in the comments.
Why this site design?
Do your eyes bleed? Too bad!
I'm kind of sick of reading those middle-column
with light backgrounds and rounded corners everywhere,
so I figured I'd make a nice dark theme that is easy
on the eyes and puts the content on the left side,
instead of the middle or right. It will likely
change several times in the future, but right now,
I like it enough, so it stays. (In 2016, I grew tired of color. In 2017, I wanted color again. Holy crap it's been like a year...) I like being a back-end
designer more than a front-end one anyway. I like it so much
in fact that I decided
to program this blog software from scratch instead of
using something like wordpress. Plus it stands out, it's not just
another "blogspot" layout.
It occurred to me that one might not want me anywhere near a CSS file if this is what I'll do to a site... So make sure you check out my portfolio. Or at least this screenshot of an app I made around the period of ~2010-2012. If I were looking for a new job with UI aspects of it, I'd want to link to my work at SFDC, but I'd rather tell you in person where I can clarify what I did vs. what I helped on with my teams so that you don't assign me any false credit. If you've made it this far and are curious, anyway... A nice feature of this questionable design is that it keeps away people who aren't interested in the content, because someone who thinks this design is bad won't sit through a blog post unless they find it interesting.
Can I post something on your blog?
Things via comments, sure, if it's relevant. I don't care. I might delete it if it sucks, but take a look at the most popular post and see for yourself what kinds of comments I tolerate. Or if you mean a big blog post, you'll have to make an account and contact me personally so I can "upgrade" your account to writer status so that you can post. (I may have to also whip up a "rich editor" into the new post template if you can't handle HTML. I made this site from scratch so a lot of administrative features found in standard blog software don't exist in mine, due to me not needing or preferring doing them another way -- e.g. I edit this page in vim. Of course, my blog has some features a lot of blog software doesn't, like a Naive Bayes classifier for my posts.) Or if you wanted to publish something here you could just send me the text through some contact channel and I'll post it myself and just attribute it with a hack. Don't know why you'd want to though.
How can I contact you?
Send email for any purpose to jach shift2 thejach d0t com. (Technically I'll get any email sent to whatever string at this domain...)
If you want to IM me instead, your best bet is through Matrix (or freenode IRC as I'm bridged there as Jachy). I'm Jach:thejach.com, or to reach me on my phone I'm connected as Jach:matrix.org.
I'm also usually signed in to Skype as kevin_mccloud. Please mention my blog if you add me otherwise I might assume you're a bot. I don't really like Skype though, I just keep it around for one stubborn contact. All my old MSN Messenger contacts have moved on or we're in touch some other way.
I'm on Discord too for several people/groups, as Jach#9107.
I'm on Keybase, but I basically never use it.
I have a Steam profile, you can add me there too if you want. Maybe we can play games, though I'm more of a single player gamer.
How can I contact you securely with PGP?
Here is my public (2048 bit) key:
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Can I cite your posts or copy them on my site?
Yes, so long as you provide a link back to my page and do not modify it or create derivative works. Also, it'd be nice to know personally without looking at site logs for linkbacks, so if you want to leave a post in the comments saying what you're doing that would be nice (though not required). Basically all works are published under the Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License unless otherwise noted. (Also, I really don't care, so if you mess up I'm probably not going to sue or anything weird like that. If you really want permission to use my writing for something, even if it's publishing uncredited in a magazine with profit solely to you and not me, I'll probably okay it. If you want to offer me money for a license of your choice (potentially even an exclusive one) I'm available...)
Any code snippets you find on this site are in the public domain (I relinquish any copyright interest) unless stated otherwise.
Long story. Think of it as a nickname.
Here's some revisionist history: I'm a "Jach" of all trades! Har har. (Should I be surprised that it took about 10 years for someone to make this pun?)
Okay, so "Jach" is derived from being a short form of "Jachyra". In all likelihood that won't make it any less mysterious though. :(
Why The Jach?
Do you have a Quotes File?
Yes! It's here. It's not automatically synced with my local copy, but I do sync every now and again. That file may actually be a better glimpse into me than the long answer to the next probe... While the order of the quotes may not have been the order I encountered them, I only add new quotes at the end, so they are in the order I decided to add them, and it does sort of serve as a very rough chronological guide to what I think is important or interesting.
Another shortcut to the following probe might be to just browse my FB or Twitter or HN post history...
Can you sum up your core philosophical views in a short package so I don't completely misrepresent you when reporting second-hand?
TLDR: I'm weird. But I behave pretty normally most of the time. I don't particularly care if you're weird too, but it does annoy me when I see people celebrating or proselytizing their particular form of weirdness. Vice signaling is as bad as virtue signaling. It's possible to be weird and act in a manner consistent with good civilization and consistent with moving towards a good future.
Anyway. This section requires a preface, but if you're in a hurry just read the next paragraph. I believe in keeping my identity small, thus I try to keep any labels I apply to myself as being descriptive rather than embodied. It's similar to what one means when one declares one's hobby that is also done professionally: "I do welding for fun" should not imply any deep identity-sharing with the craft of welding, or comradery with professional welders, at least to such a degree that an attack on welders is not taken as a personal attack. (Unless they're unionized...) Another way to think about my stance here is that I share no deep sense of comradery with those who might also apply the same labels to themselves as I do to myself. Just because I'm a programmer and you're a programmer too doesn't mean anything more to me. I realize a lot of people don't think this way, especially religious types but most non-religious types as well, but despite these dangers of identity inflation, labels are great shorthand to give a fairly accurate first-approximation description. So I use them on myself and others. (More on this perspective of anti-group-signaling.)
My real view is pretty simple, it only has a few parts and sub-views. I'm a Bayesian transhumanist Singularitarian.
By Bayesian I mean I believe rational belief and behavior is governed by Bayes' Theorem. (More specifically, probability theory, information theory, and decision theory. (Which decision theory? The best one.)) You can learn a lot more about this view and my other core views from the Less Wrong Sequences which I think contains the most self-consistent expression of the individual views. But "Bayesianism" is really just a set of meta-beliefs that determine the process for which I acquire and validate my beliefs, meta or not. (Update 2020: as someone recently asked about this, you can get a quick intro to the way of thinking with chapter 1 of E.T. Jaynes' Probability Theory, the sequences were at some point collected into a pay-what-you-want (even free) e-book, and possibly the most authoritative intro is now on Arbital.)
Transhumanism is this: death is never a good thing. (It may be better than the only possible/realistic alternatives, but it can never be good.) There's some futurism and human-augmentation packed in there too, but I think the core is simply anti-death; the non-core derives from what makes life worth living and how to make it even more worth living. I donate to SENS and wish for immortality for humanity (and perhaps our pets).
I.J. Good said:"Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an "intelligence explosion," and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make, provided that the machine is docile enough to tell us how to keep it under control."
As a Singularitarian, my desire is to aid however I can in the creation of this ultra (or super) intelligent AI with the additional property that it is Friendly to humans and humane values. Anything that gets in the way of a positive-outcome Singularity (Singularity in the above I.J. Good sense, or Yudkowsky sense for a fuller treatment, not a Kurzweil or Vinge sense) is bad. (Different values of positive are in competition.) I think smarter-than-human AGI, independent of Friendliness, is inevitable given enough time and lack of effected existential threats, but admit other shock-level-<-4 crazy interesting things might (and maybe even more probably will) happen first. I'd like us all to live to see a good future.
As a fallible human and imperfect Bayesian, as well as as a mockable youngin' without much in savings (though I wonder what the cutoff for this is) or deeds of renown, my efforts toward the goal of a positive Singularity have not been highly efficient or optimal or noteworthy or praiseworthy, but it's at least a stable goal that I'm never consciously working against, and compared to any other selfish or selfless goals I could pursue they all seem inferior. I follow the maxim "Pay yourself first", which I absorbed from my favorite high school teacher, and I think it's my best strategy to both help in my goal and stay alive and sane. I care about my self-perceived sanity and mental well-being. I recognize the danger of this becoming an excuse for all inefficient behavior. But I donate to MIRI† still, and that's probably the best way I can help out at the moment. (I should note that SENS also receives my money -- AI could take a long time and I'm worried about the end result of what sometimes appears to be at a first-approximation a destructive sex-cult among so-called San Fran rationalists...)
I'm willing to be challenged on this core view but I do not expect to be convinced it's wildly incorrect or that a Singularity is impossible or inevitably bad (I wholeheartedly agree in the potential for very bad outcomes, and that the "default outcome" is likely to be bad!). I do not believe I have a "faith" in these core real views, just high confidence. If you think I'm immune to good arguments attacking a high-confidence belief of mine, I have counter-examples for you where I became convinced I was totally wrong about a position I previously had high-confidence in. (I don't have tons of counter-examples, though, which you should expect if you're a careful reader trying to evaluate whether I'm just overly confident in everything.) If you find others who share my view who are clearly motivated by religious thinking, feel free to mock them. I might join you. I'm willing to discuss in seriousness the finer points of these views where there is still room for disagreement (e.g. hard/soft takeoff, the need for mathematically certain Friendliness, and other more esoteric topics) but only with people who are familiar with the background -- let's just say they need to know what SL4 was. I mostly stay out of AI conversations because most people have no background and so their comments are worthless in reading or responding to.
While my core is simple, I do not ignore deduction and its use in exposing implied and entailed views not mentioned here and also in finding contradictions with existing views. For instance, the abortion issue. Am I pro-life or pro-choice? I used to be pro-choice. Now, I'm both! If a woman wants to have an abortion, the fetus ought to be cryogenically suspended until such a time as someone wants to (attempt to) finish its development. That's the moral decision, starting from the premise of life being good and with no further complications to the scenario. (Sometimes killing an unborn child is, after weighing everything, ok, even if disastrous to my transhumanist sentiments. Sometimes killing an enemy is ok too, horrible as it is.) Who's going to pay for it? Well, that's a question about how society works and ought to work, and such questions (in fact most questions of my opinion) fall under my academic view. Before I go full into that though, I should mention because of my use of the word "moral" that my ethics system is consequentialism, but I generally try to pre-compute (with occasional cache-invalidations) probable consequences for plausible situations in advance and treat the output of those computations deontologically in my behavior.
My academic view (a phrase you can take with the same meaning which "that's academic" has to practical minded people; you can consider them my "irrelevant" views) is more complicated because it's not currently stable (it may at present be different than what is here and I just haven't updated this page yet!), I occasionally make efforts to learn more, I don't take things too seriously in general (but I'm willing to take ideas seriously and act on them), and I joke a lot. This other view is probably most simply stated as "that which does not logically follow from my real view", but that's unhelpful. Another way to look at it: what beliefs give rise to my perspective when I argue or talk about subjects not directly related to the above real view, or what beliefs or perspectives led me to have my real view in the first place which is mostly presented axiomatically? At present I think a lot of my opinions can be considered to come from a sort of academic core, the things I'm most serious about but not sold on to the degree of my real view. This core, as it relates to my "identity", is most completely approximately described as being a peace-loving misanthropist royalist Linux geek and general nerd.
Politically, I used to apply the label "Anarchist" to myself. My version of Anarchy has some differences from a common-usage sense, but if you know of the Rothbardian version you'll at least get in the right direction of the picture. Taoism was probably the bigger influence. Anyway you can read more about my old views from obsolete posts. The extent of anarchy left in me is in my personality: I don't want to rule a country, and I don't really want to be ruled. ("A man chooses, a slave obeys.") I want no part in a sovereign entity and I'd prefer if they leave me alone. The people who want to be left alone are perhaps the most unjustly persecuted. I do like the concepts of corporate structure and especially hierarchy, though, and recognize people-in-general need a ruler (and I do appreciate having a ruler that can at least help protect me from other people for a small tribute, or perhaps give me guidance/direction), and also in the past kings mostly left their subjects alone. If I were born in a different age, I might have been a "wild west" sort of guy or even a mountain man. If I live to see humanity and its descendants explore the galaxy, at least one version of me is likely to get as far away from everyone else as possible in order to live and to explore in isolation. That version of me may or may not return for merging. This art is my aesthetic, not some beach vacation sipping alcohol.
By peace-loving, I mean that I think collective and individual non-violence is a good idea and can resolve a lot of issues where violence would normally be used, with very specific exceptional cases. (You can find out more in posts, or just go read Gandhi about non-violence at the personal level that comes before the social level of non-cooperation.) I took the ideals of pacifism seriously at one point. While war has its upsides, I generally think we don't need it to get the eventual benefits. In collective violence, I prefer solutions that are collectively peace-conserving. So if a terrorist group kills a few thousand of my countrymen, by all means as is historically natural my country's military should seek and destroy the terrorists and their sponsors, but they should just do it, without my input or consent or even care, and importantly (hopefully) without having to rile up the general public. Just get the job done. Don't over-escalate or miss. I personally don't want to hurt anyone, accidentally or intentionally, and I fear that if I'm assaulted in any serious way I'll respond over-aggressively and kill the assaulter. (Fortunately tuffles as a kid and young teen make that fear not too worrying -- I'm big but not trained and I have a pretty high level of self-control. So I'm likely to get my ass kicked by an opponent who knows what they're doing, and unlikely to go too far in other situations despite my fears.) I wouldn't mind buying and wearing full body armor, but I haven't really justified it to myself yet. If I ever move to an area with relatively high crime (such as San Francisco) (though with the way things are going just being near densely populated areas like Seattle makes me wonder) at this point in my life I think I'd be comfortable with a concealed carry Smith and Wesson 638 Airweight Revolver where the first round is a blank and the next are live. I really don't want to end anyone's life, personally, though I do find emotional (if not necessarily logical) appeal in the idea of a swift death penalty for certain criminals -- it'd be better to cryopreserve them like in Demolition Man, but do it right. Muggers are scum and when so many people who are missed by me and would be missed in general much more dearly aren't making it to the Singularity (some due to such muggers and other criminals!), I can't make myself feel too bad that a criminal wouldn't make it either. And active murderers, let's just say I agree with the thought that while their continued (if constrained or cognitively altered) existence is preferable to their death, as far as the world as it currently is is concerned, their death is preferable to the death(s) of another(s). It is the best way to peace, even if it's ugly. A lot of the world's problems stem from the masters of civilization losing their taste for necessarily brutal subjugation at a local scope that is necessary for overall peace.
Misanthropy is pretty self-explanatory, I call it out here because if you probe you'll find some dark thoughts and dark humor. I don't have a very high opinion of most humans (including myself).
Politically again, right now and for the past several years I fall into the Royalism camp, a complete 180° turn from my youthful anarchist views which had an interesting 3D encounter with the Objectivism mind-virus for a year or so. I got into the theory through Moldbug, who is linked on the side, and from whom I got the term "royalist", but in thought-space general my political beliefs about what "should be" align closest with the "reactionary" or "neoreactionary" or "dark enlightenment" crowd (there are differences among those terms but they're not important here) which is full of great writers I recommend reading along with their older-than-the-20th-century inspirations. Moldbug uses "royalism" as a fun "ism" that isn't seen very often and that might make the reader pause in confusion then actually learn instead of instantly dismissing the idea (which they might if, for instance, I said I was right-wing, and then while they were already bucketing me into the "dumb evil conservative watches Fox News for News" bucket they would miss that I think the American right-wing is actually really far left).
In short, a main theme of royalism is that non-constitutional monarchy, in reality and as an ideal, is better than democracy and our current system (oft described as "constitutional democratic republic"), both in ideal and in reality. Better how? On the metrics a good government strives for (such as eliminating organized crime and encouraging a good economy and happy populace). The main problem (and it's really not a big problem if you study history) of monarchy is that monarchs cannot easily be fired if they're doing a bad job, or if they die the typical means of succession can be sub-optimal. (Specifically, blood-heirs. There is some merit to it if one can assume kings raise their children for ruling as good kings in the future. But this does not appear sustainable to me. The tradition of bad genes and/or royal family inbreeding, and of putting all eggs into the one heir basket into whom wisdom is poured while "backup heirs" are neglected, is dangerous. If the single-egg fails for whatever reason (sickness, killed, feels like doing science instead, cannot receive wisdom for lack of intelligence from too much inbreeding, or never existing due to infertility) the neglected replacements prove incompetent at the job, etc. Or worse, the People decide their ruler.) Ultimately however it doesn't matter so much who the King is, as much as that there is a King whose word is respected as absolute. Even the bad Kings of history can't compare to 20th century excesses from dictators propped up with the claimed will of the People.Nero, Heliogabalus, Otho, Vitellius, and such other monsters of nature, were the minions of the multitude and set up by them. Pertinax, Alexander, Severus, Gordianus, Gallus, Emilianus, Quintilius, Aurelianus, Tacitus, Probus, and Numerianus, all of them good emperors in the judgment of all historians, yet murdered by the multitude.
Let me be clear that I support a restoration of absolute monarchy. I think that's feasible for many existing governments (or sections of land which current governments could give up) over the next couple decades, and while it may not be the best form of government, it's certainly better than what we have now. Second to monarchy I think further minimizing of democratic power and carefully selecting leaders in the style of Singapore would be better too. The type of government I'm most interested to see tested, though, was presented by Moldbug as neocameralism, in which (to vastly summarize) the government is run as a joint-stock corporation where stock-holders' votes (weighted by shares) determine a board of directors which votes to pick a CEO-king to run the country and make running such a country profitable to the share holders. I think a monarchy could transition to something like this as a way of formalizing power transfer, because that's basically what a monarchy is (with aristocrats holding a significant share in the State and having some influence with the King), but it shares a problem that anarchy has: it requires a society that can accept and function with such an abstract thing (or 'nothing' at all) as a ruling entity, and powerful men who respect such a system enough not to overthrow it for personal gain. I think humans need a face to their ruler, and even if a government is a complex semi-abstract mess like the USG, the People will make a king-like figure in the office of for example the President, and blame him for all the country's problems. This leads to my next point.
Paramount to any of these forms of government is the quality of the governor. Frederick the Great was great. Caesar Augustus, great. In modern times, Lee Kuan Yew is the greatest I know of. Putin has his highlights too considering what he's had to work with, but I'm in no hurry to move to Russia whereas Singapore is a perfectly acceptable "backup" if America goes to hell. Without great men, no system of government will manage the country well. Even in sub-optimal systems like the present one, with great men it can be manageable... So filtering mechanisms like restricting who can vote are OK stepping stones. I like to remind people of the ways America has gotten more democratic and less republic (inevitably) and the problems that causes. I even had someone in total disbelief until they looked it up that citizens didn't choose the Senate for a long time.
Does royalism contradict the remnants of anarchy in my personality? A little bit. It can be hard to alieve certain things. But at the end of the day, I can follow orders, I can live by the enforced rules. Just don't sell me the BS that the one giving me orders is somehow my "representative".
I can't really say I'm part of the alt-right except in the set theoretic sense that because I'm neither classic GOP or a hard left liberal (I did vote for Obama once though when I was young), I'm in the vast set of remaining possibilities that all get blobbed together as "alt-right".
Let me try to give a brief taste of other views that are even less core to me, without trying to justify them too much: I like technology, I like programming, I like anime, I prefer non-fiction over fiction, I like unregulated capitalism (in other words market dynamics without global interference) but recognize the higher authority of the State and the occasional conflict between an efficient market and the good of the State and its population (though that shouldn't be common enough for the government to command 1/3 of the economy as the USG does), I think there are more important things than the economy like social solidarity, relationships, and culture (this is something I believe but due to my personality I'm still struggling to alieve it), I like sharing and caring, I think the Many Worlds "interpretation" is the correct one because that's what the equations say by default and assuming otherwise violates Occam's Razor, and I like a lot of childish things including cartoons and video games. I wish some country in the world had a Lunar Base where civilians lived, or at least industrialized the moon -- there are so many benefits and it's so "easy" once you look at it hard enough. I like frankness and honesty and if you have a scathing personal attack on me, please, I want to read it. It is entirely possible that I am wrong about almost everything with no hope of correction and also am a horrible human being who would best serve himself and the rest of humanity by ceasing to exist. I'm willing to consider it. Who says I don't already consider it all the time without outside people suggesting it? I think certain cultures are better than others ("cultureist?"), I'm definitely an "ableist" (if you don't know what that means you probably are too), and my opinion of others in general is almost entirely based on their intelligence (not that higher-IQ always implies a better person, there are plenty of intelligent people who a just King might put to the sword...), but like most humans how friendly I'm likely to be depends on our shared interests. (Thus I actually enjoy the company of certain "dull" people who never finished or did poorly in school, or who can't reason well but have interesting ideas anyway...) Other factors like attractiveness, social adaptivity, whether you agree with me or not, gender, disfigurements, age, race, accent, typing ability, etc. are only first-impression prior-adjusting indicators that can either be confirmed or corrected (by Bayes' Theorem) with further interaction if I find such a risky forward move worthwhile. (e.g. I don't associate with potheads and while I might like someone only to later be disappointed they're a pothead, if I know they're a pothead upfront I'm unlikely to pursue the relationship enough to find out I kind of like them.)
I think one of the easiest way to poke holes in certain views is to imagine how they could work with an artificial general intelligence, running on a PC, and capable of besting any human in any intellectual endeavor. e.g. if such a machine was purely selfish, it has no need for the 'rational selfishness' sort of double-think where you have to play nice because game-theoretically if you don't you'll suffer more than if you just try to look out for yourself in the pure sense. It doesn't need to play nice, because it can't lose or be harmed, so it has to want to be nice, or otherwise be designed to be incapable of not being nice.
Basically ~99% (I haven't really measured, it's probably less than this) of the topics on my blog are "academic" topics--things I blog about because I liked to write about them and I used to more strongly believe in having opinions about anything, even if they're loosely held and deserve no weight from others. I've tried in recent years to more carefully force my beliefs to not only be justified (that's always been a goal) but also to pay rent. If they don't pay rent (that is, offer any predictive power in terms of what I expect/don't expect the future to be like), then I shouldn't offer any opinion, but if you prod me enough I'm likely to render one despite my efforts... Hopefully I can convince you some of them are just differences in taste rather than opinion? (I do believe elite experts know better, but I also know they are quite fallible too and often wrong and I wish prediction markets were more common to help counterbalance this.) Anyway my "academic" views aren't just fabrications I throw up just for mine or others' consideration or amusement--they're a bit more important to me than that. (Usually--sometimes I play Devil's Advocate, or will use the DA excuse to avoid purging by progressives! :D) I try to arrive at or justify these non-critical views using my real belief in Bayesian reasoning when I can, but over the last few years I've tried more to just see them as matters of taste that don't need justification.
I do think the clearly exponential nature of a lot of technological progress (which you can find evidence of from Kurzweil et al. despite the mounds of other evidence from Thiel et al. of technological stagnation since the moon landing) creates a predictive Singularity in the Vinge sense within this century, so I can't predict much of anything with any confidence happening after 2100. The one thing I do predict: if we don't have an extinction-event of humans, we'll have smarter-than-human intelligences sooner or later, and I don't think humans are anywhere close to the end of the scale of intelligence and so I cannot predict the actions of something of such orders of magnitude more intelligent than me. It's like an ant trying to predict human behavior. How can a homo sapien accurately predict a super homo saiyanpien? One can't. At best, one can hope to design the smarter-than-human intelligence to share humane values and goals, which make it predictable in the sense that it will probably try to help us simpler humans rather than harm us. (And maybe monarchy is becoming closer to being part of my 'real views', because such a Friendly AI may be like a god-king in certain respects.) I can see the value of trying to prove such friendliness mathematically, though on the other hand I'm not totally convinced a mathematical proof is required. I'd feel better with one, though.
I think very few Final Destination Goals of others are worthwhile or attainable, let alone worth fighting fiercely for. Especially when they're dull beliefs that have been rehashed by countless people across decades or centuries. You won't get me to march for things people have marched for across such time. But also I want to avoid issues if they are made from a stance that oozes ignorance: if a self-proclaimed Futurist speculates without having ever taken into account at least one of Friendly AI (please don't conflate all possible AIs with Hollywood AIs, that's the usual mistake) or molecular nanotechnology capable of Grey Gooing us (and worse/better), I don't want to talk to them about future possibilities in fear of their ignorance spreading to me! It's okay if we differ on our beliefs about AI (Friendly or not) and the feasibility of Grey Goo or building nice habitats in seconds, please just be aware of them if you're going to talk about what the Future might be like. If a self-proclaimed government activist is arguing or protesting forcefully about how governments should be run, but has read little on government, power, and economics, then again, I don't really want to talk to them about it unless it's to educate them. (But I generally dislike activists even if in theory they're for something I'm for.) It is frustrating when people get worked up over opinions they should know they have no justification for holding them so strongly. I'm hesitant to talk too strongly about monarchy because while I've read a lot more than the average person, I've still read so little. This doesn't mean I'll easily be convinced against it (largely because counter-arguments are just rehashing propaganda I already listened to in my schooling, and I must not count evidence (or arguments) twice), just that I'm not likely to convince others. Besides, as stated at the beginning, I'm really weird, and individuals and communities have a finite amount of "weirdness" points they can spend before they stop being taken seriously on literally anything. It's frustrating, knowing I can't talk about some things with some people because I'm long-since maxed out (I can only hope they hear about it from someone less weird and come around that way), but at the same time weirdness can act as a mild form of protection. You're right to write me off into irrelevance. I hope to never have to endure a media spotlight, positive or negative. I'm not the best at socializing.
What about sci-fi? I enjoy Star Trek (TNG is the best!) but in my early 20s a friend showed me Babylon 5 (I didn't have cable in the 90s) and that is my favorite sci-fi show by far. However I feel I have to say that while both of them are great as entertainment, their examples and metaphors (along with other sci-fi like my favorite sci-fi anime series Ghost in the Shell (though my favorite anime series in general is Mushishi -- but I also love Lain and NHK as partial reflections of myself)) are useful mainly to explore the present, not the future (what is the human condition to an Em capable of drastic self-modification?), and can be useful as rhetorical ammunition (I like rhetoric only when the speaker isn't hiding behind it, so that eliminates politicians). Star Trek and other sci-fi works may provide ideas for future technologies, but I wouldn't rely on them as accurate predictors (or even as desirable features) of future behavior or environments. I don't want the Future to much resemble Star Trek in many respects. Come on, they still die! How sucky is that? And they don't use their tech to the fullest potential. (What would you do if you had mastery over space-time and matter and a sentient AI to bootstrap a super-intelligence?)
Again, sci-fi works are more interesting for how they explain or display present behavior, and so they can be used rhetorically in that context. I thought of another use, but it's shared by pretty much all works performed by humans: our creative output may highlight kernels of humanity and humane values that we want to be preserved in a positive Singularity. Creative output helps us understand what's good about us and what's bad, it helps us know ourselves. This has personal value to me, and I'm sure others. I think reading fiction from multiple eras of humanity and from a variety of authors can help one improve one's theory of mind. I bet a lot of people on the internet read too many fan-fics that are just terrible representations of how people typically think... If they even read at all.
One of my favorite sci-fi books is Permutation City; one of my newer favorites (actually a trilogy) is The Golden Age, which offers a fascinating fictional story of what a not-optimally-positive-but-not-negative Singularity might look like for humanity.
This section has gone on for a long time. Let's summarize a bit: I have my "core" views I'll fight you on, but because I'm a human I'm so much more than just those views. The so much more are more subject to change, though, especially change by a pseudo-suicide that would occur if I ever got into hard drugs. I loosely refer to that "so much more" as my "academic" views, for lack of a better term.
Some of them you could maybe think of them as merely "What I like about this world and what I wish the world was more like right now", possibly sometimes "What I think the world could do right now to make a positive Singularity more likely." Other times it's just a desire for philosophical satisfaction. Other times the views are just tastes, not really views/opinions/beliefs. Other times my views drive emotions and, being human, it may indeed look like I care a great deal about a particular issue such as the evils of enlisting in the US military. (Also being human my emotions will sometimes drive my views but I try to keep those instances in check.) I'll still call certain military officers evil crack-slinging sellouts if I think their cause is unjust, but if that's you please don't take it personally. (I'm an evil fat-ass glutton degenerate myself!) I still want such people in the Future, I'm acquainted with some former soldiers, and they're relatively harmless as far as the current problems facing a positive Singularity are concerned. Even though I dislike government due to not wanting to be ruled, and I really dislike modern governments because they're so poorly managed and spread so much BS, you'll see my real transhuman views leak through with me supporting something like a national health care system (notably not "Obama-care", that's crap; more like Singapore which still has private competition on top) because there's a decent chance we'll at least if nothing else get really long life this century and the fewer people who die and make it to the invention of de facto immortality, the better.
The above paragraphs are dense by design.
Who are you?
Are you crazy?
How about some non-philosophical views?
You must mean tech-related views! =P
Let's instead treat this section as a collection of "tastes" related to my chosen profession rather than opinions per se, since the last big section started getting into "tastes" too. If you can't make the "taste" distinction, then let me at least say that I try not to be extremely opinionated (as in I'll hate you or cut off contact with you if you disagree, or as in I'll never change my mind) since I have less than 20 years of real experience (started in November of 2004, first job in tech wasn't until 2008), but I read a lot from others who do have that and more, and I draw from them. So I'll get my most opinionated view out of the way and say I hate C++ (see the first Fun Link below), it's one of the few things I'll summon my small passions over to bother with hating. (I'm not a very passionate person, often seeming cold and distant.) While I'm competent (I don't have "C/C++" on my resume, I have "C" and "C++" as separate things because they are very separate (update, I have "C++98" on my resume now, and even that I'm probably not competent in anymore without a refresher)) I don't use it unless I'm forced to. I haven't been forced to in years and I'd like to keep it that way. C++xx adds some nice features but takes away none of the crap, and adds more crap too.
I used to want to learn Rust, but Nim is actually more interesting and approachable to me and from my little toys written with it something I can see myself using full-time as opposed to only when I would otherwise use C. But for now both are at the level of only using them when C or C++ would be the only other realistic options... But even then Lisp beckons, it has the advantage of supporting both low-level and high-level programming. Standard ML is a neat language though I have only read it, same with Forth. (Though the Thinking Forth book is inspirational.) OCaml is more interesting as a language-to-learn than Standard ML, Erlang would also be interesting. I don't mind ARM assembly though I dislike x86 assembly. I thought Verilog was a'ight until I learned about MyHDL. I don't like any form of BASIC but it wasn't so bad to write calculator programs in (I never made games) and I respect its legacy. I mostly like Matlab and its toolboxes after getting used to it (albeit mostly through Octave), R is neat and I wish I knew it better but I don't like or dislike it. I think I'd rather use Julia for all my future programmatic math needs, if I have to pick something, though again there's a lot in the Lisp ecosystem already... I want to learn J someday for giggles even if I predict I'll hate it. I don't understand why people like Go at all -- it's a terrible language, people. I'm too stupid to properly make use of Haskell, but I can appreciate it from afar. I'm definitely in the dynamic typing camp despite knowing some things about type theory; in fact I'm so far in the dynamic typing camp that I think the only legitimate purpose for types is to help the compiler produce efficient code. I don't find static types to help me very much in the act of programming and debugging (especially when I have a REPL), but hey, other people do and that's great for them... Types themselves of course have their uses and can be helpful. A lot of static fans don't seem to understand that dynamic typed isn't the same thing as untyped. Anyway I just find the guarantees and proofs of type theory that is enabled by both static and dynamic typing to not matter that much and to not by themselves be worth the tradeoffs involved to get them in many cases. I'm much more interested in guarantees of things systems like Coq or TLA+ can prove, and search-space-eating tools like Fuzzers or QuickCheck property-based tests. But I don't have much experience in them.
I prefer JSON over XML, S-expressions (specifically edn (extensible data notation)) over JSON, GNU/Linux over BSD and Mac and Windows, Gentoo Linux over Arch, Gnome2.x (now MATE) over anything else (and my wobbly windows from beryl, er, compiz), mplayer over vlc, vim over emacs (but emacs is a fine choice if you can jive with it), git over svn or perforce (though I'm intrigued by fossil), LaTeX over Word, functional programming over others by default, un-opinionated multi-paradigm languages over opinionated forced-paradigm (functional, OOP, other), deductive logic and sanity checks over unit/behavior/etc. tests, language features over design patterns, courage through understanding the system over fear-driven development, garbage collection over manual memory management, kanban over classic scrum/agile, and progmofo over methodologies. I like the GPLv2 over MIT license, and I really like both the concept of free software and open source, but I'm closer to Linus' Torvalds' viewpoint than Richard Stallman's on the license, and most of my own projects use the MIT license or something even less restrictive like the public domain because at the end of the day I don't support IP even if I have to live with its consequences.
Can I be your friend?
Sure! I mean, not a "true friend" (the distinction obvious to an introvert), that takes time and work, but I'm generally fine with meeting and talking with new people. At least in theory -- you might be able to squeeze a psychologist to diagnose me with some sort of social anxiety, but it's not that I find all or even many social interactions stressful, it's just that I'm really lazy, I'd usually rather be by myself and not have to leave my house (or clean up for company), and I don't care much about other people I'm not already friends with... Setting is important here.
If you have any reaction to the words Jachyra, Eyedea, Misaki-chan, Lain, Tohru, Ginko, Lulu, T-Bone, the Tao, or Chosen Undead, we might just get along very well. But you're also unlikely to reach out because it's hard. Please try!
What is your IQ?
Can I insult you? Do I have to worry I might be insulting you?
I operate by Crocker's Rules. In case that link is down, this means that you may optimize your message for information, not for being nice to me.
That said, if you bite in a particularly annoying way, I'll too-often bite back in a particular style typically interpreted as smug intellectual superiority. If you want to know whether I actually have that view of you as an inferior, ask, unless you never read non-fiction books, in which case the answer is yes.
Not to share. Well, if the FBI comes a-knockin', then I'll sell you out so fast... But otherwise, no sharing of any data, unless it's with friends for a laugh. (Really, what data do I have to share?)
If you want to know my views about privacy... They're complicated and depend on what kind of privacy we're talking about, but I think they can more or less be summarized by my mindset of "It's none of your business... But if I neglect to make sure my doings are kept private it's my fault if they're used against me, but I also might like or dislike any particular use." I wrote a bit on the topic here.
No, maybe, at least 24 inches.
Other various information: my birthday is October the 2nd, 1990, making me a mockable youngin'. I'm a 90s kid no matter what you say people born in 85 who remember the whole 90s. My high school diploma says "Kevin Jach Secretan", though that might not be what my legal documents say... I am located in Bellevue, WA. I have a bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering from DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond. If you want to get together for a coffee/dinner, send me an email or something. I like food, simple hikes, and playing games. A picture may eventually end up here. (You can see one on my github profile and elsewhere.)
Who are your favorite rappers?
In no particular order, I really like Eminem, Immortal Technique, Eyedea, Tech N9ne, Brother Ali, Sadistik, Tytuus, NF, Invincible, Tupac, Nas, Denace, Biggie, Xzibit, Yelling At Cats, Hopsin, MC Solaar, Myka 9, Bino White, Weird Al, Deltron 3030, Big Pun, and Duane & Brando. If I had to pick a favorite... Definitely Eyedea. Also, I don't agree with the politics of the political rappers, but damn if they don't rap well.
Some of those I haven't listened closely or extensively enough to in order to rationally pick out a set of songs to compare and elevate to my favorites, but I do have at least one favorite song for each.
In a moment of madness in April 2015 I made a Tastebuds.fm profile. Unsurprisingly my taste in music (which isn't exclusively rap mind you) is rare enough that I can't find many people who share it (unless I include more popular artists I enjoy but are not my favorites), let alone people within 50 miles of me.
I'm slowly building my online presence with a not-too-serious goal of being the #1 Google hit for "Secretan". It probably doesn't help that I use Jach or related for almost everything. You can find me on Twitter, GitHub, LinkedIn, and Hacker News.
Thoughts on books I've read (spoiler warning), and an indirect link to other gists (mostly code fragments): https://gist.github.com/Jach/1610886
My prior job experience is on LinkedIn, as are my technical courses I've completed. I'm currently working at Salesforce as a Lead Software Engineer. Obviously it should be stated that the views, events, and suggestions expressed here on this blog are or were mine own, at some point in time, maybe (I may be devil's advocating), and in any case are not necessarily those of my employer. And if you don't like it...
I don't usually respond to recruiters. I'm even less likely to respond if you don't even tell me the name of the company you're recruiting for. I'm not really looking for a new job, but I'm not opposed to moving on in principle. The thing that would tempt me most right now is similar pay with neater technology doing anything but ads, and ideally not doing vague "analytics" but I can be flexible on that since there are some cool problems in that space. So if you've got a Common Lisp gig and don't mind someone who's not a newb to the language and a fairly decent engineer but who will definitely need some ramping up time... Feel free to ping me even harder. (In an effort to encourage better email practices, GPG messages will always receive a timely reply! And I apologize in advance if I seem to be "ghosting" you, if I have replied in the past but haven't replied lately "ghosting" isn't the reason. Just note my GPG rule is inviolable if you really need to preempt me.)
Below (and in a sense throughout this page in visible or hidden HTML) are some random links I've felt like posting, this list will be sporadically updated and has no consistency to what I put on it other than I thought it was a good idea at the time and haven't bothered to remove it yet.
This site somewhat powered by...
It is nice. If you see any bugs (and not "validation errors", I know some exist -- I just can't bring myself to use em and strong instead of i and b) let me know. It used to be xhtml transitional.