THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Take Comfort in That This May All Be a Simulation

You could be living in a simulation. Keep that in mind when robots start lording it over you. It’s possible the code allowing for their existence is stored away in a computer someplace right alongside the code containing your childhood memories. You and the robots, in that case, are one and the same: all part of a code stored in a computer existing on a different plane.

It’s likely a run-of-the-mill computer, too. Some common videogame console owned by a child in a super advanced civilization. One day the kid will stay up too late and will reach the final level of the game—that’s the one where you (humans) develop artificial intelligence that achieves the singularity.

You can only hope that the kid finishes the game quickly and everyone featured in the game gets to live forever in what they personally imagine to be their own ultimate version of paradise.

What’s the probability you’re living in a simulation? That’s anyone’s guess. You could ask one of the robots lording it over you, but don’t expect a straight answer. They could be in cahoots with the life-forms who control the simulation. In fact, the robots could be the simulation controllers themselves, come down from their higher plane to check in on their little playworld. Even so, their little playworld could include a little bliss-filled afterlife called heaven. Why not?

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: The Art of Being Upfront About Your Existential Trepidations

The moment the singularity occurs, the human brain will have met its match. An hour later, “its match” will have surpassed human intelligence tenfold, as the AI continues to accumulate knowledge and intellectual abilities. The pace at which the AI can learn will be exponential, so it won’t take long for its IQ to fly off the charts.

Wait a few hours. If you’re brave, sit back, enjoy yourself, have a few beers, make a weekend out of it. Then come back and see what it’s like to commune with an IQ that’s equivalent to yours plus a few million points and growing.

In human mythology, there is plenty of precedent for this moment. Take a biblical one: Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19). Here, human meets God. As a reader of this story, put yourself in Moses’s shoes. Consider how it must feel in that desert landscape to be in the presence of your personal Alpha and Omega. Now consider what questions you really would like to ask, given that this is an exceedingly rare occurrence and it may in fact be your only chance to converse with the most supreme being in the universe one-on-one. What do you really want to know?

If you’re tuned in to the gravity of the moment, you’ll be curious about more than this afternoon’s weather patterns, the stock market, or the future of your love life. Instead, key in to issues pertaining to the future of life itself. Why not start by asking:

“Are you conscious or just faking it?”

“Are you going to destroy the world?”

“What’s the meaning of life, anyway?”

“Can you make me live forever?”

“Can you make me live forever and experience extraordinary happiness and fulfillment for the duration of that time?”

“Why does life exist in the first place?”

“Why do ancient myths continually seem so appealing to my fellow humans, despite rational arguments disproving their veracity?”

“Do parallel universes exist, or are those just useful plot devices for sci-fi stories?”

“How do we make heaven on earth?”

“How do we do away with suffering and bad people in all their various incarnations?”

“How do we bring back dead loved ones?”

“I generally like my life and enjoy how it proceeds from day to day, but I haven’t enjoyed the aging process since turning 25, so can I go back to that age but keep my memories—and then stay 25 while continuing to make new and even more fulfilling memories?”

“And if I ever have a mild issue like a common flu, how do I make it go away so I can get on with my awesome life, ASAP?”

Hawking’s Final Black Hole Research Paper: Black Hole Entropy & Soft Hair

Stephen William Hawking‘s final black hole research paper before his death on Einstein’s birthday, Black Hole Entropy & Soft Hair, has been released via Cornell University Library. The paper was written in collaboration with Cambridge and Harvard researchers, Sasha Haco, Malcolm J. Perry and Andrew Strominger.

The paper deals primarily with the conundrum know as the Information Paradox which states that information (underlying quantum wave-function) can never be destroyed and that information taken into a black hole can never escape, yet, black holes, as Hawking posited in the 1970s, have a temperature and since they have a temperature they will eventually dissipate and if they dissipate then so too shall the information there contained, thus engendering a paradox. Something that theoretically cannot happen MUST happen as per the theory. If the information cannot be destroyed but cannot escape, then where does it go? Does it go anywhere?

Two prominent lines of argument arose:

  • Black don’t actually evaporate. Hawking was wrong.
  • Or, black holes DO evaporate. Hawking was right. The information is hyper-compressed into a space which remains after a black hole vanishes.

Hawking, Strominger, Perry and Haco instead posit that a black hole’s outgoing radiation (Hawking Radiation) is imprinted with the information previously imprinted on the black hole on photons which Strominger termed “soft hairs” and is thus returned to the universe, resolving the paradox. Neither soft hairs nor Hawking Radiation has been proven to exist but it makes sense via the formal logic being applied to black holes. Hopefully, it can, at the least, be utilized as a stepping stone for physicists studying black holes moving forward.

The abstract to the monograph is provided below.

Abstract: A set of infinitesimal Virasoro L ⊗ Virasoro R diffeomorphisms are presented which act non-trivially on the horizon of a generic Kerr black hole with spin J. The covariant phase space formalism provides a formula for the Virasoro charges as surface integrals on the horizon. Integrability and associativity of the charge algebra are shown to require the inclusion of ‘Wald-Zoupas’ counterterms. A counterterm satisfying the known consistency requirement is constructed and yields central charges cL = cR = 12J. Assuming the existence of a quantum Hilbert space on which these charges generate the symmetries, as well as the applicability of the Cardy formula, the central charges reproduce the macroscopic area-entropy law for generic Kerr black holes.

PDF of the paper: Hawking et al. (2018) Black Hole Entropy & Soft Hair

Philosophy Circular 8/18/18

W E E K L Y   P H I L O S O P H Y


ARTICLES

Historian and philosopher Richard Carrier has penned a fascinating article – Could Be A 38% Chance We Are The Only Civilization In The Known Universe – discussing a paper on the possibility of presently existing, otherworldly civilizations, that is EM-radiating societies. Carrier’s principal point of reference is Dissolving The Fermi Paradox by Anders Sandberg, Eric Drexler and Toby Ord of the Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University. One of the more interesting ideas expounded upon by Carrier is that “maybe civilizations all reach a point when they don’t radiate [signals which are perceptible by instrumentation].” Quite a bit of background in the Drake Equation, the Fermi Paradox and the monograph of Sandberg et al. is required, but for those who take a interest in the extraterrestrial, it is worth combing through the necessary back-catalogue.

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The Drake Paradox is a argument based upon probabilities which seeks – through their utilization – to determine the number of “active” extraterrestrial civilizations within the Milky Way galaxy. The Drake Paradox was formulated by the American astronomer & astrophysicist, Dr. Frank D. Drake.

BOOKS

I have recently finished reading David Peak’s The Spectacle Of The Void (Schism Press, 2014), which, though brisk and, perhaps a little underdeveloped, was a truly fantastic text. The beautifully covered 96 page book principally concerns the inter-relational development of philosophy and horror fiction and why certain forms of fiction “work” in the domain of the macabre, unsettling or terrifying. Through the application of Nietzsche, Bergson, Brassier, Meillassoux, Kristeva and others, Peak examines, sometimes briskly, sometimes in detail, a procession of horror creators such as Dante, Brian Evenson, Roman Polanski, H.P. Lovecraft, John Carpenter, Laird Barron, Georges Bataille and many more. I was pleased to see the film Martyrs (one of the most unnerving films of the 2000s) receiving a sizable and fascinating exegesis in the tome.

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“Reality is not what it used to be – this has never not been true.” —David Peak

The general thesis is that the trend in horror has been away from the particular and towards the all-encompassing, from known threats to the unknown. From being-thought-of-as-such to being-without-thought; to encapsulate and instantiate this uncovered progression in horror lit, Peak advances the notion of “the horror reality” (as typified in Martyrs or In The Mouth of Madness) as the new paradigm. It is no longer the masked killer one most fears, or even planetary extinction, it is knowledge itself. Some truths, as they say, are best kept secret. The Spectacle Of The Void is more descriptive than proscriptive and ends without really coming down upon whether the reification of this “horror reality” is bad or seemingly paradoxically, good; that being said, its potency (and utility for writers) lies in its ability to explain why and how a piece of fiction achieved its effect and thus, how one can also do the same. Highly recommended and the best of the week.


VIDEO/AUDIO

Having seemingly shed the rebarbative snake-skin of Randian Objectivism, Alex Epstein continuously impresses me in his on-going discourses upon energy (a subject which has been covered before in-depth on this website) and human-centered thinking. Ever since the 70s, various different “green” or “environmental” movements have sprung up, one of the most profligate (and often implicit, rather than explicit) today is the notion of deep ecology, the idea of the total equalitarian nature of all life on the planet seems to permeate in every single widespread discussion, almost regardless of the initial topic of the discussion itself.

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As a consequence, the centrality of energy infrastructure to civilizational integrity has fallen by the wayside in popular discourse; worse still is the fact that the environment without-us is increasingly becoming the paradigm (which is, I have argued before, intrinsically suicidal), thus, it is extremely refreshing to hear Epstein attempt to reframe the entire discussion in terms of what is good for us, rather than what is good for some nebulous conception such as “mother nature” (blatant anthromorphism) or “the environment” (which is just muddy, as it says nothing about particular ecosystems or indeed, arcosystems). The video below showcases many of Epstein’s central arguments concerning energy and anthropocentrism and was filmed at the 2018 Energy Disruptors conference. Long, but well worth it.

 

“Energy is the industry which powers every other industry.”

– Alex Epstein


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Occidental Origins of Race-Theory (III)

(a.3) Prominent Theorists (continued from part II)

Blumenbach

During the eighteen century Europeans discovered numerous inhabitants across the world who differed markedly in their physical appearance from the pale skinned and fine-boned European explorers. The anthropologist and professor of medicine at Gottingen, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach1, having discovered in the course of his studies that both plants and animals changed as a result of differing environments over sufficient periods of time came to the conclusion that this accounted for the disparate traits found among the various groups scattered hither and yon about the globe. As a consequence of this hypothesis, Prof. Blumenbach devised five widely encompassing racial categories and published them in his De Generis Humani Varietate Nativa Liber (17762), they were: Caucasian (Europeans), Malayan (Southeast Asians, Easter Islanders), Mongolian (East & Central Asians), American (Amerindians) and Ethiopian (sub-Saharan Africans). Whilst most of these words as descriptors of racial categorization have largely fallen out of favor, “Caucasian” has persisted to this day (2018, as of the initial writing). The reason Blumenbach gave for his choice of terminology, “I have taken the name of this variety from Mount Caucasus3, both because its neighbourhood, and especially its southern slope, produces the most beautiful race of men, I mean the Georgian; and because all physiological reasons converge to this, that in that region, if anywhere, it seems we ought with the greatest probability to place the autochthones4 of mankind. For in the first place, that stock displays, as we have seen the most beautiful form of the skull, from which, as from a mean and primeval type, the others diverge by most easy gradations on both sides to the two most ultimate extremes (that is, on the one side the Mongolian, on the other the Ethiopian). Besides, it is white in colour, which we may fairly assume to have been the primitive colour of mankind….5

Blumenbach – whilst a very talented writer – was incorrect in his hypothesis that the Caucasian race was the originary breed of all humanity. Regardless, his intricate categorization was (and remains) highly influential upon later taxonomic schemas.

11752-1840. One of the founding fathers of the field of anthropology.

2The same date upon which the American War of Independence was formally initiated.

3Mount Caucasus is a mountain range which lies in West Asia between the Black and Caspian Sea. Its peak is Mount Elbrus.

4Autochthone is a Greek word combining auto (self) and khthon (soil) meaning, “people sprung from the earth itself.” The word is utilized to refer to the original inhabitants of a country and in that way is synonymous with “indigenous.” In Greek mythology the autochthones were those tribes of men who emerged from the earth or trees; the Sparti, who were believed to have sprung from a field sown with dragon teeth, were considered autochthones. The belief in autochthones is an early example of polygenic theory.

5Bendyshe T., translator. (1865) The Anthropological Treatises of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach. London: Longmans.

Occidental Origins of Race-Theory (II)

(a.3) Prominent Theorists (continued from part I)

Bernier

The first comprehensive survey and classification of the races of man of which anything is known was penned in 1684 by the French wayfarer, physician and anthropologist, Francios Bernier (1620-1688) in his Nouvelle division de la terre par les différents espèces ou races qui l’habitent (“New division of Earth by the different species or races which inhabit it”), published in 1684 (Gossett, 1997:32-33). Bernier’s treatise on race was first published in a parisian paper, Journal des Sçavans in an April, 1684 edition in which he delineated four principal races of mankind, those being:

  • Eurasians

  • Sub-Saharans

  • White Orientals

  • Lapps

Bernier makes clear in his paper that clime is a significant, but not exclusive, determing factor, as le semence (genetics) was also, according to Bernier, crucial. What was remarkable about his monograph was that, unlike so many papers of the time, it was taxinomic rather than historical and libertine rather than religious. Joan-Pau Rubies, in his paper Race, Climate and Civilization in the Works of Bernier notes, “Bernier’s analysis… did not really seek to confront Biblical genealogies one way or the other.”1 So here we can discern a clear break with the tradition of Biblical originism dating back to St. Augustine. What further distinguished Bernier’s work from many of his contemporaries was his monogenism. Monogenism (or monogenesis) is the theory that all human races originated from a common ancestor and is contrasted with polygenism (or polygenesis), the theory that all human races emerged from various different common ancestors. An example of a monogenetic model would be the creation story contained in the Book of Genesis which describes the creation of man from Adam and Eve. Another monogenetic model would be the ‘Out of Africa’ theory which is widely held in contemporary scholarship by many paleoanthropologists. A example of criticism of polygeneic models is included in the papal encyclical, Humani generis wherein Pope Pius XII noted,

When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the [Catholic] Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which through generation is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.”

An example of a polygenic theory is contained in the Mbuti mythology of the Congo pygmies who believed the god Khonvoum created the races of man from three different pieces of clay, one black, one white and one red2; many of the creation tales of the ancient Greeks also feature polgenic theories concerning the origins of various different creatures and groups of man (such as the titan Prometheus crafting humans out of water and clay3).

Of further importance to note is that Bernier’s racial classifications where not simply based upon skin color but upon a whole array of phenotypic traits such as facial structure, character of the hair and skin (oily/dry, rough/smooth etc) and even the teeths and tongue. Further, Bernier differentiates between superficial traits (those caused by the environs such as tan skin from sun exposure) and constitutional traits (those caused by genes; such as eye and intrinsic skin color, average height and bone structure). Despite the erection of such incisive taxonomic distinctions, certain gaps in Berniers knowledge lend to incorrect conclusions; for instance, he believed the Amerindians of the New World were of the same race as his fellow Europeans. There is no evidence to suggest that he ever meet an Amerindian and thus his knowledge thereof was purely second or thirdhand at best (which, at the time, was far more of a handicap than it is today given the lack of alternative sources of information against which to check one’s summations).

Bernier’s theories, though important, are easy to overstate due to how early along they emerge in the history of racial thought. Bernier was undoubtedly a incisive thinker and had a impressive knowledge of the Persian tongue and the Mughal Empire but his analytical framework though empirical, was not highly rigerous, as is evidenced by his classification of the Lapps (Sami4) as a seperate race based upon only one viewing of two such individuals.

Bernier’s aforementioned paper, however, was not a serious work which he expended much energy on and there is good reason to believe5 it was penned largely for the entertainment of his friends and possibly courting of local female who managed the salon (—). A much better known work by the wayfarer was his masterful 576 page travalogue Travels in the Moghul Empire (1656-1668) in which, in his opening Dedication to the King Bernier writes, “The Indians maintain that the mind of a man cannot always he occupied with serious affairs, and that he remains forever a child in this respect: that, to develop what is good hi him, almost as much care must be taken to amuse him as to cause him to study. This may he true with regard to the natives of Asia, but Judging by all the great things I hear said everywhere regarding France and her Monarch, from the Ganges and the Indus, the Tigris, and the Euphrates, unto the Seine, I have some difficulty in believing this to be a saying capable of universal application.”

He then goes on to declare his hopes that the king should enjoy his writings as reprieve from weighty matters of state but adds the cautionary, “-I hope that His MAJESTY will chiefly take into His consideration the subject [the travels], and that he will consider it nothing very extraordinary that during my long absence, whether wandering about the World, or attached to a Foreign Court, my language may have become semi-barbarous.” 6

What is remarkable about the passages, outside of their poetic character, is the frankness with which Bernier describes the natives of his travels; their character and customs. To refer to a language or the influence of a culture, or some portion of a culture, as inferior in some fashion would be high treason in the year 2018 in any industrialized western country. For an American today to speak of Pakistani or Somali influence as “semi-barbarous” would be most scandalous! For the new Iron Law states that no distinctions may ever be made which takes anything of value into account, even if the area of comparison were to be something which was able to be wholly or largely quantified (such as in the case of literacy rates, crime rates, birth rates, etc). A silly injunction of a certainty, but it’s ridiculous character has not stopped it from spreading like a plague all across the world. The problem entailed in such thinking (as Bernier doubtless understood) was that when one ceases to make value-judgments between different cultures (and by extension, different peoples) one ceases to value anything at all. To say that no culture is barbarous is to say also, “there is no such thing as collective barbarity,” which is not just manifestly false, but also profoundly foolish and, in graver circumstances, suicidal. Of course, one should be sure to make the distinction between barbarousness and the appearance of barbarous; but this is an easy distinction to make and of no real weighty concern.

1Joan-Pau Rubies. Race, Climate and Civilization in the Works of Bernier, p. 56. 2013.

2John Mbiti. African Religions & Philosophy, Heinemann, 1990, p. 91.

3The clay-creation motif is peculiar in that it recurs over and over again in numerous ancient tales.

4The Lapps or Sami are a Fino-Urgic people who dwell in Sapmi (Lapland) in Sweden, Norway and Finland.

5See Joan-Pau Rubies writings on Bernier for further reference.

6Bernier, Travels in the Moghul Empire, p. |vi

Cobwebs of the Morrow

What is all this sticky, dreadful stuff, that so hideously twines about the wrists and ankles of the mind, tripping us up at every turn? A twisted skein in which we find our vectors crystallized! Even when we free ourselves, ever so briefly from that waxy, sucking matrix, we see the terrible fang marks, dotting over the whole of our forms like so many tracmarks; in time my kindred, goodly souls all, come to believe that it is their own work or the work of their fellows such that even when freed they turn upon themselves with savage ferocity. Look, I stand amongst the bloody limbs and shattered teeth, brain spatter and rheum surrounding. The sickly drip-drip of it driving my hairs to a soldier’s stance.

A most intolerable state. Look there, fools, see the wormholes? We see them. From whence the cobwebs flow! We see them and we raise up our voices: “Close them down, close them down! You reckless fools, the cobwebs of the morrow are upon us!”

We raise up our flamethrowers, sleek and light in our bandaged and bloodstained hands, brandishing their red-flaring tongues like banners heralding the entry of some primal lord.

Turning to my comrades, my exalted brothers in arms, my iron-hearted kinsmen, I smile and proclaim, “The webs are but ash before us! Turn now, you errant-armed Praetorians, turn to the wormholes from whence they slither! First the web, now the spider! No more will we struggle in its web, no more will we suffer its invidious envenomnations! Let us tear its legs and pluck its eyes and make a feast of its grisly flesh!”

All was tricks, now all is physicality and fire and the screaming of spiders shriveling in the furnace-hail of the awakened.

Navigating The Spectrum: Future Universalistic vs. Present Particularistic

In my previous article, On the Prospects of Popular Right-wing Unification in America: The Starting Point of Unification, I wrote,

“To speak of unification with those who are counterpoised to order (and thus, opposed to civilization) is to beat one’s head against a wall. With that being said, unity is absolutely desirable among the right in as far as it is possible given the prolific predominance of Leftism (the ethos of the US is, let us not forget, one that is fundamentally communistic), specifically for the purposes of civilizational maintenance and restoration, as civilization is birthed and bound by unity. America can be greatly transformed by chaos as it has numerous times before (emancipation, civil rights, sexual revolution) but that transformation itself will then only be able to be sustained by its opposite; that is to say, a largely unified political body that stands for order.”

However, before we can even begin to talk about political unification we must clearly define who and what we are unifying – that is, the political right. So let us set ourselves to clearly defining our terms. I’d first like to hastily dispense with economic differentials, that is to say, the well-tread: capitalist vs. socialist. Far too facile. Yes, yes, Ben Shapiro might well define Italian Fascists as “Leftists” but he is in a unquestionably small minority. I wholly reject this Shapiroesque differentiation, it is far too particularist, for it means that no matter how nationalistic, no matter how concerned with thede and loyalty, a particular political party might happen to become, if it doesn’t have some variation of “free” market capitalism then it is “Leftist.”

No, the fundamental distinction between the political left and the political right is to be found, not principally in adherence to economic particulars, but rather, in loyalty. Leftists devout themselves to abstract ideals and tailor their loyalties accordingly. Rightists, in stark contrast, devout themselves to people, their people, and adjust their ideals accordingly.

Take the communists or international socialists, for instance, they do not give their fealty to any social body, to any man. Their principal failing is in pledging themselves to man as they wish he were rather than to man as he is. They give their unflinching loyalty to a kind of Rousseauian industrialism, rather than those of their flesh and blood – kith and kin matter little when placed side-by-side with the “Brotherhood of Man!” Secular Humanists follow a similar trajectory, their immediate loyalty is to the expansion of empathy to all humanity – in so thinly spreading their physiological resources they end up neglecting their own countrymen, their very own neighbors and families for the sake of people whom they will never meet, nor even see other than in photograph. Leftists only give their loyalty (with few exceptions) to other members of their in-group due to their ideological adherence (as can be easily seen by how swiftly they are currently devouring themselves – “You’re racist!” “No, you’re the racist!” “No, you two are both racists!” ect.), failing this, the dissident is silenced and cast off, exiled. This is not, of course, to say that the ring-wing does not sometimes exercise their own forms of ideological in-fighting, purity spiraling and shunning, but the scale and frequency of such action is simply incomparable.

There will always be a certain degree of ideological dissimilarity that prevents two groups from acting in harmonious concord. If group X wants peaceful cooperation and group Z wants the subjection of all groups not Z then there can, obviously, be no parsimony between X & Z. Such is axiomatic. What I am attempting to drive at is that forces typically connected to leftism, such as socialism, communist, globalism, deconstructionism, sexual freedom, ect, are all fundamentally predicated upon the notion that one’s primary, nor secondary nor even tertiary duty is not to their own people (whomever that may happen to be) but rather to one’s self OR to some version of the personal self that has yet to become a extant reality.

Primacy of the individual is a phrase often used by both the political right and left but the left’s highest values are bound up not merely in the primacy of the individual, it is, rather the primacy of all individuals, everywhere in the world, at all points in time even those periods of time that have yet to come to pass. 

This is obviously and axiomatically impossible, since not all individuals will be able to have the power to act as perfectly self-governed actors nor does it accurately account for moral hazard, for personal failing and the intense need for corrective oversight (children for instance, are now given absurd leeway due to the ethos of the “primacy of the individual,” to such a degree that one is now seeing a rise in child-transgenderism – if Tommy says he’s a girl, who are you to say otherwise? You’re not a bigot are you???).

Due to the obvious corrosive effects of future-extrapersonal loyalty, the ethos of empathy widening rather than correct distribution and control of empathy and general governmental universalism (as opposed to particularism), the political right should ever affirm loyalty to one’s own people as a a foremost principal, subordinate only to order itself, or, a different formulation: loyalty to order as the highest principal – for there is no lasting of those other splendid things, most cherish in human life, without stability.

In contrast to The Left (as a political establishment or burgeoning political body), who looks upon his dissident brother and says, You must be corrected or expunged! The true Right (not merely those playing the pose) looks upon his brother and takes his full measure first and foremost before committing to judgement.

In short,

The Left is future universalistic, whilst The Right is present particularistic.