Some (Updated) BeliefsYears ago I wrote this, expressing without too much elaboration or reasoning several beliefs of mine in various categories. Needless to say, some have changed, and this gives me an outlet to write a little about what I haven't been writing about. So, following the original categorization (with a few new categories), here are some of my current beliefs. If I don't address an old one, conclude it hasn't really changed. Please keep in mind most of these are "academic level" beliefs and thus I'm not super attached to them, for clarity on that (and maybe some updated beliefs if this post is old) see here.
I stand by my original belief in 2009. The only thing I might add is that I think the rituals employed by religion can be useful, ritual itself is important -- see these.
Of the current world religions, Islam clearly represents the realest and gravest threats to humanity and progress, specifically progress towards a successful intelligence explosion. If anti-theism is to have a bias, it should be against Islam.
Math and Science (and Engineering)
My math background since my last post has expanded to include combinatorial game theory, differential equations (including Fourier and Laplace transforms), vector calculus and analytic geometry, fuzzy sets, and the math involved with digital signal processing and control theory. The topics I'd like to understand better include Bayesian probability (as always, though I know a good deal more than I did in 2009 it is still fairly limited since I never finished Jaynes or Pearl or the little green book), fractal geometry (I've had an unfinished book for maybe a decade now...), and geometric algebra.
I stumbled my way through a standard Electricity and Magnetism course that barely touched on Maxwell's equations at the end. I wouldn't have gotten through it without Feynman's texts, but I think an even better way to have made it would have been to ignore all "physics" and just think in terms of solving geometry problems via calculus with the occasional system of equations derived with linear algebra thrown in. I haven't really developed my knowledge of science that much. I think I read QED (quantum physics ) after 2009... I've read bits of Aaronson. I haven't gotten around to actual Lagrangian/Hamiltonian mechanics. I know the basics of the science of waves and of radar. I began reading Sakurai but was quickly curb stomped.
Is math the pinnacle of human intelligence? Maybe, I'm no longer certain, and I'm also no longer certain that question has a useful meaning. I remember the question was once posed shortly before that old post and I immediately answered, I don't think I've given it that much thought though.
More than just using Science to find truths, I'm more convinced now than I was in 2009 that using Bayesian methods to find truths is necessary to avoid pitfalls. Your p-values are shit compared to bayes-factors.
Many-Worlds is still the obviously correct way to look at things. Though it might be wrong, Copenhagen is most certainly more wrong.
My degree is in computer engineering, so I have a subset of the skills an electrical engineer (and an engineer in general) have. I think my current belief is that engineers are more valuable than scientists, though there's a disturbing trend that over the last 50 years it's taken more and more of each to do less than what less people used to be able to do. I think I acquired this belief after reading the Skunk Works book.
I still think most philosophy is junk, there's a lot of navel gazing and philosophers could learn a great deal if they bothered to study science and engineering.
Philosophy is important, and it's more important to read in breadth than in depth. I mean really wide, the wider the better. It's not enough to read Kant, Hume, Hobbes, Plato, Nietsche... You need to read too Carlyle, Fitzhugh, Evola, Chuang Tzu, and many more. I still believe that people whose philosophical experience is from one mind (i.e. most Objectivists) are dangerous and deluded.
Gandhi is no longer a hero though I still respect him and his methods. My belief on the subject of violence has changed, mainly I'm no longer so concerned about it and its extreme of killing. Its use should be avoided, and non-violence philosophy shows that many cases where one would assume there's no other solution besides a violent one actually have non-violent solutions so non-violence philosophy should be studied. But when violence is employed, it should be employed with commitment and follow-through, no half-measures. It does not need to be done at maximum output (as I once believed before I believed in pacifism), such as nuking the whole of the Middle East because someone there killed one of our civilians, it should fall under Just War theory as a measured response, but it can't be half-assed with no clear military objective. I'm still non-supportive of America's military because its goals, when it has them, are misaligned, and more often than not it has no real goals or they are very vague. I also think standing armies should go away, as historically they're a new phenomenon, but it's pretty laughable even by me to think that has a chance. We might see a further evolution of the majority non-fighting-role army into a more useful make-work role, however.
Violent video games are great. Gratuitous violence isn't gratuitous enough.
I'm a member of the PC Master Race. Nintendo has forsaken me, and I have renounced them. The last Nintendo hardware I bought was the Wii. I might pick up the NX depending on what it actually is. I was going to pick up the New 3DS XL on launch, until the moment I learned it didn't come with a $9 charging cable, which pissed me off enough that I've avoided that handheld. I'll play Pokemon X eventually...
The Halo series is good and when you get into it all, it offers is some interesting sci-fi.
Video games are art and business, just like programming. I don't think walking simulators are games, I really didn't enjoy To the Moon, but they are close enough, especially since many board games are the same.
My favorite game still may be Star Fox 64, but it's hard to really know my preference these days. I really like Megaman X too, and I played a lot of Contra 3 and Ikaruga. I enjoy hard games. Dark Souls is fantastic. I like the "softer" games too like Skyrim and Lord of the Rings Online. Many genres appeal to me, I was really taken with the fusion of two of my favorite genres into Sanctum.
I have many hours of game time, but not nearly as many as one of my friends. Yet he's from the outside about as successful as I am, he handles his time well. I know an old friend, though, who I think of when I hear Eyedea's lyrics of "In ten years don't check for me, I'll be in the same place." It's been almost a decade since we parted ways, and here I am from the outside looking very successful, while he looks very unsuccessful. I don't know exactly how much he plays games, but I wager too much.
I used to be very fond of Chess, I still like it but haven't played in a while, but kind of left it after high school. I don't think my college had a club, or if it did I didn't go because I didn't go to any of the clubs. Besides, I was having more fun with video games. But recently I've learned the game Go, I like it more than Chess. Though I'm still very weak (maaaaaybe 20kyu tops?). I could have known about it seriously in 2007 and started to learn and play, but I didn't. (I could have "known" about it in 2001 from A Beautiful Mind but realistically wouldn't have been equipped to teach myself or find people to play.)
I still run Gentoo. I don't hate Microsoft anymore (Spolsky's book did that), and Windows 7 is a solid OS (even if it's awful) and I have no intention of "upgrading" to 10.
AMD cards are better than Nvidia cards. Maybe single-card performance is better for Nvidia, but you can buy 2 AMDs for the same or less price of 1 Nvidia and get better performance, plus better power costs, plus faaaaar superior performance on litecoin mining which admittedly doesn't matter anymore but still. My rig from 2009 has changed to hold a 7950 in it and 12 GB of RAM now, plus more storage, but I need a new rig. I have a 4k TV/monitor which is great.
A lot has been lost with the domination of amd64 and arm. Esoteric architectures like the Lisp Machine or non-von-Neumann models in general are interesting.
Now I have money to play with things, but so much of it is gimmicky. Like the Raspberry Pi. I noticed this during my CE degree. Working with an arm9 board and writing my own kernel for it was immensely interesting and I'd like to try something like that again someday. Installing Ubuntu on an SD card and booting into an embedded device with a gig of memory is not very interesting or engaging, and so much of the hardware is closed off at the level I'd be interested at. Yes I guess you can make all sorts of "smart" things, but you can do it with much simpler systems and have more fun doing it. That said, I lost the will to do any big side projects last year and haven't recovered. But hopefully I'll be interested again sometime -- I'd like to take some mechanical engineering courses.
I've done arm9 assembly. I've done a lot of JS work (including in Node) since 2009 that I think my old claim to know JS well was bunk. Similarly I learned C++ more than it deserved since then so again my 2009 claim was bunk. I see myself as a reasonably competent maybe-noticeably-above-average coder in the languages I know, with high preference for dynamic languages like Python and PHP. I get a metaphorical boner for Clojure, I have only nitpicks with it that are more a result of it a) not being as powerful as Lisp and b) inheriting unfortunate things from the Java world like insane module systems. Thank god for Slamhound.
I may just be average or below when it comes to professional coding aspects where the task happens to be gluing things together and manipulating tiny things of a behemoth rather than slinging out hundreds of lines of code with purpose. It's easy to get into a mental block for that sort of menial work...
I've done more projects, you can see them on my portfolio page (from my about page, when I'm looking for a job).
The creator of Clojure is right about everything.
vim or emacs. I'm a vim guy. It beats IDEs.
I probably suffer from impostor syndrome in some areas, work-related anxiety gets at me sometimes though it shouldn't, other areas I may be overconfident, Dunning-Kruger basically applied either ways to various areas. I generally don't believe in outside validation -- but I do appreciate receiving it because I think if I receive it enough then maybe I'll start believing it.
I find it really difficult to have anything approaching a serious conversation with someone who doesn't accept the Bayesian premise of rational thinking and discourse.
It's important to offend. That doesn't mean you can't be civil. But sometimes the best communication is an offensive kind -- politeness can be too indirect.
Be Nice where it matters. It matters in very few cases. Try to be nice even when it doesn't matter. Avoid the fundamental attribution error by putting yourself in others' shoes when explaining a behavior and see if you can do it for yourself that doesn't involve a character flaw.
I'm a low tipper. Added fees make me want to tip even less.
Objective Reality and Knowledge
The only thing to add here is that beyond the map-territory distinction, the Bayesian premise is what keeps me from holding beliefs or knowledge as absolute and immutable. You can't update with Bayes' theorem from "probabilities" 0 or 1. There will be people who grasp this almost immediately, and people who will never get it. Move on, the latter group isn't worth anyone's consideration.
LW isn't elitist enough. It needs to develop the ability to say, "fuck you, you are nothing, your opinions don't matter."
I'm such a person. And if I'm such a person, who are you, who is still beneath my level? You are also no one. Do not pride yourself on it, I feel shame myself. But I do believe that while it's hard to see up the ladder and distinguish, that is someone who's only a bit stronger than you is hard to distinguish from someone far stronger than you, it's totally straightforward to look down the ladder. This holds in Go, this holds in programming, this holds in life in general.
And do you think that unto such as you;
A maggot-minded, starved, fanatic crew:
God gave the Secret, and denied it me?--
Well, well, what matters it! Believe that, too.
--Omar Khayyam, translated by Richard Le Gallienne
I'm not an Anarchist anymore. I'm an anti-anarchist. I wouldn't mind being called a Monarchist, so yeah, kind of a 180 from my old self. Anarchy is just the natural extension of Democracy and I think it's an easy and logical path to come to if you seriously believe in individualism and self-sovereignty. But it's wrong.
I'd be happy with military rule over democracy, too. Neocameralism would be a great experiment, but we should have stable monarchies beforehand. In general I believe order and hierarchy is important and that democratic tendencies are chaotic ones. I side with the Vorlons.
Ultimately I don't care though. Monarchy has freed me from any last true caring about politics, because my belief is I, a lowly servant of the true and divine King, should not bother myself with the business of Rule, which I know nothing about and have no experience in nor particularly want any. Similarly I have no real influence in today's system, with or without the vote -- votes mean nothing to Cthulhu. All I ultimately care about is what makes a positive Singularity more likely. Securing America's borders and culture thus seems prudent if we're in this for the long haul. I semi-ironically support Trump because he produces top keks, the liberal tears he effects are delightful to witness, and if in some weird twist of fate he actually wins then the one thing he'll achieve (the permanent government won't let him achieve much) is a wall and that might buy America enough years to be the soonest possible birthplace for Friendly AI given the state of the world with a wall and the state without. Otherwise it will probably have to go to China or Japan or Singapore or Finland or Iceland, maybe Russia will be well enough by then to try too. Immigration is only good when you immigrate good people. "America the melting pot" is a myth. I fully expect and predict with high confidence the current migration crises among latinos in North America and muslims in Europe will, barring technological trump cards, be seen as an important point marking the path to a dark age where technological and civilizational progress is limited to very few places over the next few decades. I don't really want to bring a child into this decaying world.
America is a communist country.
Moldbug is right about almost everything.
There are more important things for a society than money and economy. These include culture, solidarity, population health and stability, order, cleanliness, a people who live lives with meaning independent of raw economic utility. Economics can do a very good job at telling you what the market reaction to doing X or not doing X or doing Y instead will be, but it cannot tell you whether any of those should be -- that requires a different framework. Many things are a matter of taste. I don't believe in the pure-capitalist vision of non-interference by government actors. The King can and should affect the economy with various rulings. However those rulings should be wise and made with knowledge of what the economic response will be. Economics might say it will be less efficient by a certain amount to do X, but by doing X certain other ethical or aesthetic goals will be met which can be more important than the loss of efficiency. Furthermore while the French and the British might do the same thing if they both follow the economically optimal path, if they want to preserve a uniquely French and uniquely British culture then they may diverge in different ways from the economic ideal. Calling one good or bad, or both bad and only the economic ideal good, is an incorrect use of labelling since it's a matter of taste.
I'm a lot less confident now that I won't die of old age, or some other cause. I have the means to sign up for cryonics but I haven't done so yet. Cryocrastinating. I'm no longer optimistic for the Singularity, though I've been more optimistic this year than I have been in the previous 3 or 4 years.
Current me would take the gift of immortality. But current me isn't very motivated to take immortality for myself, to make efforts in making it so. I'm less attached to my existence than I should be -- not unattached enough to want to die all the time, but not attached so much that I want to make every moment count. The constant threat of dying at any time (and I travel a good deal for work so that's higher than it used to be) doesn't spur me to be more productive, to leave more behind, just in case. If it happens, it happens. Shame I never got to see it all play out.
Nothing will destroy "money", not even nanotech, because black hole real estate will one day be worth very much and if you can acquire some by means other than battle or first stake rights, that means will be "money". But I do think that something will defeat the need for money, for assets, for personally owned resources. It won't be anything on the table today or even on the 5-year horizon -- so definitely not any of the basic income schemes.
Right now I care about money to the extent that once I have in the range of $500k-$600k, I can "retire", so getting to that point relatively quickly is my goal. It is nice to have money though, making much more than my parents ever did combined. If I ever have a kid, he or she will be spoiled.
Bitcoin is awesome. I have no idea where it will be in 5 years. I do expect its value to rise perhaps by double or triple its value about a month ago before the end of next year.
I'm not sure you'd say my palette has expanded, but I'm definitely more tolerable of things than I used to be. It started with my first real job in software, really, back in 2009. Having other people buy you food and not wanting to waste it helps you get along. There are things I still won't eat, and things I'll pick out if I can, but even just basic flavor combinations like mixed vegetables containing veggies I normally don't eat like squash/peppers/zucchini I tolerate.
The keto diet is amazing. My ultimate weakness though (now I have money) is eggnog. I lost 50 pounds on Keto, eggnog season has gotten them back, I expect to lose them and more again sometime next year as I return to the diet.
Dumpster diving isn't a good idea in rainy locations.
All software should be Free, Open Source. But not necessarily Right Now. More open source devs should charge for their time on things that don't directly make them happy, and should probably try charging for their time on things that do make them happy just so the practice of taking money that's not from donations but for exchange of work becomes more common.
I'm done with school. I'm very glad of this fact.
If I ever have a kid, I'd probably home-school.
I'm not as useless as others I can see. Internally I feel a lot more useless than others. Externally I appear to be a net economic gain to society. Too much uselessness in myself annoys me. I don't want to be in the same place in 10 years. I want to be stronger.
Don't let me teach unless you're looking for unconventional presentations. It would now surprise me if I ended up becoming a teacher. I can still enjoy the motions of teaching, but the payoff is a gamble whose outcome I can guess will be negative in advance almost every time. If there's no engagement from the subject, I'll be disappointed. This is the default outcome. If there is engagement, awesome. This is rare. I also don't know how to teach people who don't know how to teach themselves. If I were to teach programming, I'd say: "Go read Zed's LPTHW book. Feel free to ask me questions while you do so, I do enjoy helping because the payoff outcome is more generally the other way from teaching, but finish that first before doing anything else or asking me to teach something specific you're interested in or just something on my mind I think is interesting for others to know about."
I'm skeptical of climate change. Not sure I'd call myself a denier, though. But it doesn't matter what I think. Ultimately the only interesting thought I have around this is that we need to take mastery over the planet, and limiting our footprint is in the opposite of that. If you're worried about CO2, despite some evidence suggesting a warmer climate would be an all-around boon for us and probably many other species after adapting (which we can help them with), then dump some iron in the ocean and call it a day. But regardless of the threats that may come from this one thing in 30-200 years (disregarding more serious-seeming threats on the same time horizon), hurricanes, twisters, tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanoes kill many people every year. Mastery over the planet would stop those deaths from happening. Furthermore that goal can be worked towards without buy-in from the rest of the world.
As may have been gleaned from the section on food, you could probably call me obese at the time of writing. I'll be back down to "overweight" sometime next year though. (As of April '16, this is true.) I did complete the Stronglifts program last year, I was deadlifting over 300 pounds, but I've since lost that strength. The end of 2014 did a number on me to do much. I did buy some weights and a bar recently though, so again, once eggnog season is over...
My eyes are as poor as they were in 2009, I'm not sure if they are poorer since I'm still on the same glasses. (New ones in April.) I don't like contacts though I haven't tried them. I'd like to get lasik but haven't gotten around to researching the surgeons in my area.
I get sick maybe once a year, I'm generally pretty healthy overall. I don't see a doctor. My teeth are less healthy than they were in 2009, unfortunately. I think it's very important to go to a modern dentist, and especially one that practices biomimetic dentistry. I didn't fully appreciate this importance until I had cavities filled by a run-of-the-mill dentist, and I think he screwed up my mouth's ecosystem for a long time to come from that -- though of course I'm to blame for letting him and for getting my mouth into a bad enough position where that was a possible course of action in the first place.
I don't have one person I can be truly and fully open with. One person who is close, but I keep a fair amount in. Part of my engineer personality is being honest too much sometimes, which can be mistaken for openness, but is slightly different.
My French teacher once said "if you think it's okay for women to wear jeans, you're a feminist." Now I understand that to really only apply to first wave and bits of second wave feminism. Modern feminism is wholly evil.
I'm not one to go so far to say the Talmud perspective had it right, but if you don't see the interesting set of tradeoffs it has or how it could still provide insight today into whys or shoulds, you have much to consider.
Perhaps the most evil thing about feminism is the attempt at removing any differences in gender (and sex, people who distinguish very strongly between the two are misguided, people who feel strongly different are likely mentally damaged) roles. I'm not even too attached to the stereotypical roles of classic American society. There's nothing unmanly about the Sun King, say what you will of his heels or estimated deadlift strength. Sai from Hikaru No Go is beautiful. I also think you can have differences inside of each sex depending on other role distinctions like class -- the aristocratic male manliness may be different from the warrior male manliness, may be different from the religious class, may be different from the labor class father, and the independently wealthy but not mega-rich bachelor could be different than all of them... In general I don't find much comradery with men's rights activists, even if they make kek-worthy awesome smackdown points, simply because investing too much time into that sort of complaining and activism is way too classically feminine and should classically be reigned in by men, not encouraged, though I'd accept a reigning in from the other side as long as some side takes up the role. Following my own path of trying to be a good boy (sometimes I feel like a better girl) I mainly want to be distinct.
Distinctions are important, and striving for what you aren't is a sign of mental confusion. Personally I'm actively dis-attracted to a lot of women simply because they remind me too much of men in their decisions and efforts, and I don't want to settle down with the typical man. The typical man, even if a friend, won't care for me the same way I expect a traditional wife to. I think a traditional wife should have similar expectations for what roles a good man should fulfill. By all means women, fulfill yourselves in careers traditionally dominated by men, but please don't let the only judgments from yourself or others be based on the original male standards. You're not men. I don't see anything wrong with a workaholic women who really enjoys that environment and is winning all the important pissing concepts, and I don't believe there's anything wrong with the kind, caring, nurturing stay-at-home dad. What I think is wrong is praising these things as virtuous. A good and nice thing is a good and nice thing universally, per consequentialism. Virtues are exclusive to roles, they are not universal.
Slut shaming is good. Men should also not be praised for taking advantage of the culture of easy lays. Game is interesting and I can't really fault men for whom it helps or for whom it's a good way to exploit the system, but I can't find it praiseworthy precisely because it exploits the system and perpetuates the system. Again, orgasms are fine, nice things, but praising them is questionable. For many reasons I think it'd good to wait until "marriage" before exchanging mutual orgasms, and by marriage I'm not too strict on the legal or religious relationship as much as the actual one.
For these and many other views (e.g. can I find a girl who isn't a bleeding heart liberal but also isn't a bible thumper or at least is capable of holding an intellectual conversation?), plus my general personality, hobbies, flaws, level of manliness, amount of prior writing available for e-stalking and condemnation or dismissal on something, and level of general (un)attractiveness and (non)effort to remain there, I believe it unlikely I'll actually settle down with anyone, let alone get into a serious relationship. Having this belief seems to make me more vulnerable to situations where I sacrifice my professed ideals for the fine, nice things, but hey, I've resisted going full Playa thus far. Maybe I'll try a dating site next year.
I don't expect to Get Popular over the next few years. It would be trivial for me to take this blog down. It would still be on the internet, but it would be just hard enough to access to any large degree that most wouldn't even bother. So in the event I reach my mid-30s but really feel the sting of loneliness yet suspect I need to lie, misrepresent, and make prior info harder to get in order to get anywhere with anyone, that remains open to me.
I'm 25. Since at least 2007, if not before, I've had a countdown going to my 30th birthday. The idea is to "have my life in order". At that point I should be able to drop whatever responsibilities I've accrued and Simply Live. Maybe at that point I'll be fine with some set of responsibilities like a job that provides even more money while also providing the benefits and joys of the job's work. Maybe I won't be fine and just want to live off savings for several years (or indefinitely depending on investing).
If I stay the course of my current path, I could probably reach the magic $500k-$600k net worth figure safely by the time I'm 32 or so. I don't know if I have the will to stay the course, but we'll see. In my moments of weakness, I think of a Dream. It's a different Dream than the transhumanist singularitarian vision. The Singularity may be near, but it also seems far, and so I Dream about what may be possible in my early 30s. It's simple, and I think not very relatable to most people, and even if I achieved it I don't know that I would continue it forever. I'm willing to suffer pains and annoyances in the present to work for:
1. A large plot of land that's a good distance away from the nearest humans. Somewhere in eastern Washington, western Idaho, or Wyoming. I prefer the states with no state income tax because of that simple simplification of my life. I prefer the USA to simplify away from the stresses of moving to a new country and adapting to their culture or language or environment.
1a. On this plot of land is a home that has the necessities: structural soundness to not fall apart against the elements, ample electricity, drinkable water and plumbing, and good internet access. Or at least nearby is such a home while I develop/dink around on the land. You might even say I just need a semi-close (~50 miles?) backup-apartment that wouldn't cost an arm and leg to rent.
1b. This plot of land is large enough and contains enough raw resources to let me dabble with mimicking Jaime. It'd be fun to try and build my own house out of whatever material I can grab, ideally a lot of it from trees cut down on my own property. I want land with building-material trees. I'd like to plant fruit trees and a simple garden, one that is Mine and not Another's, ideally in the open and not in a greenhouse due to the environment not being suitable for food growth. Having a spring or well would be great in order to be off that grid, too. In general having a self-sufficient plot of land would be awesome and the idea of having all the time I feel like towards working on this goal (or anything else I please, even something pointless like sleeping for ages), succeeding or failing without consequence since I can always drive to the nearest city or use Amazon to get me things, as opposed to the goal of working just to get money, excites me. Having absolute power to manage (or mismanage) or manipulate every physical thing in my immediate vicinity, a mini-kingdom where I rule over no-one and no-one rules over me. A place I can live for another 50 years if I please, then die on, with or without someone to pass it on to.
2. Some girl I really like who also likes me (really or not) and who wants to enjoy this life with me as she pleases, full time with me or off-and-on visits. We could travel together, do activities with each other or friends or strangers, or simply Be in this home away from the crazy world. Maybe somewhere down the road, start a family, but that's a big maybe. So far I've only met one girl who I've offered (and occasionally re-offer) this path or sub-aspects of the path to, but alas we are Just Friends. I hold out a small sliver of hope for another girl or a change of heart. They're probably equally (un)likely. 2 is the more dream-like aspect of the dream, the part that will most likely stay in the dream, and thus is less important than 1. Whatever, I'll happily take 1 by itself.
So that's my dream. It's all I really want out of this lifetime, something beyond making money and dying; witnessing a positive Singularity would be a bonus. The next time I make a "Beliefs" post could very well be when I'm 30, or 31, as the last one I made when I was 19. We'll see if I have the same dream, or if I can still execute on it, or if I could maybe execute on it but rationalize why I don't -- maybe when I'm 30 I'll have an even better job paying me 50 times as much and will find it impossible to give that up. We'll see, we'll see, we'll see.
Posted on 2015-12-18 by Jach
Tags: anti-anarchy, personal
Trackback URL: https://www.thejach.com/view/2015/12/some_updated_beliefs