An essay against competition

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reval
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Re: An essay against competition

Postby reval » Tue Feb 21, 2017 2:59 pm UTC

Thanks for riding on the bus, even just for one stop!

I'm perfectly comfortable with the idea that my brain may be holding many thought processes, and that they may be trying to direct my actions to different ends. In fact, the more rational ones seem to hold strong opinions against the older ones, the instincts and emotions, which they feel are too close to evolutionary motives, and which they are busy trying to keep away from the levers of action.

I tend to put the outline of a single process around this mess. Is there a particular reason I should avoid making this singular?

Now, why the discomfort with calling a human a thought process? The human is walking around because of something is sustaining itself. What is the self-sustaining process that makes the human? That is the human. You could say it's the gut bacteria, or the mitochondria, or the selfish gene, and people have in fact made those arguments.

I have a preference for the obvious. I prefer to draw the outline of a human process around the human evolutionary process, first, and then its successor the thought process. It doesn't seem farfetched to me that the thought process might choose to sustain itself in a form that didn't use gut bacteria, or mitochondria, or genes. That's why I don't think those guys are in control. The thought process is in control, or will be if we can get past a few serious hangups.

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ucim
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Re: An essay against competition

Postby ucim » Tue Feb 21, 2017 8:23 pm UTC

reval wrote:I'm perfectly comfortable with the idea that my brain may be holding many thought processes...
Are you comfortable with the idea that these thought processes are competing with each other? I ask because you are advocating "thought process" as the antidote to competition, but this falls flat when the thought processes themselves are competing. Which they are.
Spoiler:
I already agree that sometimes cooperation is better for all and worth pursuing instead, but your thesis goes way beyond that.
reval wrote:I tend to put the outline of a single process around this mess. Is there a particular reason I should avoid making this singular?
If you are elevating "this mess" to a higher level (be it moral, ethical, whatever) than competition, wrapping it so that the fact that it itself is composed of competition is invisible is disingenouous. This is especially true when the next question is asked, to wit: why is the thought process supposedly "better" than the alternative? How could it possibly be so if it's composed of the alternative?

reval wrote:Now, why the discomfort with calling a human a thought process?
Because a human is a concrete thing, and a thought process is an abstract thing. The difference between concrete and abstract is very important. Bumping your head on a concrete concrete wall is different from bumping your head against an abstract concrete wall. At the very least, each will cause you to see a different kind of doctor. :)

Jose
Order of the Sillies, Honoris Causam - bestowed by charlie_grumbles on NP 859 * OTTscar winner: Wordsmith - bestowed by yappobiscuts and the OTT on NP 1832 * Ecclesiastical Calendar of the Order of the Holy Contradiction * Please help addams if you can. She needs all of us.

qetzal
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Re: An essay against competition

Postby qetzal » Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:51 pm UTC

A human is not a thought process, any more than a computer is Microsoft Excel, or than a species' genome is evolution.

reval
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Re: An essay against competition

Postby reval » Sat Mar 04, 2017 8:37 pm UTC

qetzal: But that is exactly where we disagree. A computational process is a model that includes a computer plus information (both of them concrete material things). The model fits all three of your examples, although you have left out some of the components. The thought process uses information in an individual human nervous system, and the rest of the human is the computer. You can extend that to include the human's tools if you like. The spreadsheet program is information, and the PC or Macbook it is running on is the computer. A species' genome is the information, and all of the individual members of the species are the computer (or a larger environment if you like).

The point is that each of these things can be directly compared with the others. And their capabilities can be compared. And when they are capable of some of the same things, the efficiency with which they do those things can be compared.

That is why I am so insistant on the thought process as a material, concrete thing. When it acts on an individual's surroundings to protect the individual's survival, it does so with an efficiency and capability that can be directly compared with other computational processes. And this helps to explain how humans have overrun the planet.

ucim: Please, don't think that I am being disingenuous. Haven't I consistently said that my main takeaway is the need to sort through - not my actions - but the motivation behind my actions, so that I can strengthen the motives that are taking me forward? Yes, it's a mess in there, and maybe I am not perfectly accurate in distinguishing the motives that are part of evolutionary games of status and power from the motives that are part of a cleaner future self-sustaining thought process. But I have a pretty good idea which are which. And this sorting job is one of my main tasks.

I did not draw the outline of a computational process around an individual human's thought process so that I could conceal the fact that some parts of a human's thinking still serve the evolutionary process. I did it so that I could directly compare the individual thought process with the evolutionary process. I needed an apple in one hand and an apple in the other hand.

Thank you for raising the question about competition among thought processes! I have tried to be careful to state that it is competition among human individuals that I see as harmful. (And it is specifically "quid-pro-quo" cooperation that I see as part of that harmful competitive game.) I am connecting that kind of competition directly to evolutionary motives, and therefore to the harmful wastage of individuals that is part of the evolutionary process.

In particular, I am saying that a similar wastage of *ideas* is not harmful. In fact, this is the reason for the greater efficiency of the thought process, and especially the shared thought process. If you and I throw ideas into the arena, and the bad ideas are slain, and maybe some good idea emerges, then we can say "no human individuals were harmed in the making of this good idea."

That is a kind of competition I can approve of. It is specifically not evolutionary competition. The ideas were winnowed, not the individuals. We wasted a small amount of energy, not a large amount of energy. We were efficient.

I have not applied this idea to a competition between different thought processes in my own head, though it seems likely enough that it occurs. I have been more concerned about the competition of useful ideas as a part of the shared thought process among several humans. In particular, it is my belief that this competition of ideas can't occur if it is preempted by evolutionary competition among the same humans. Only unthreatening equals can actually talk.

At present, my ideas seem to have done poorly in this arena, at least as I have expressed them. They have not found any additional supporters. They may be dead for now, but as an individual, I am unwounded, and I may return in the future either with improved ideas or with a new expression of the present ideas.
Last edited by reval on Fri Mar 10, 2017 4:38 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

qetzal
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Re: An essay against competition

Postby qetzal » Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:42 pm UTC

reval wrote:qetzal: But that is exactly where we disagree. A computational process is a model that includes a computer plus information (both of them concrete material things). The model fits all three of your examples, although you have left out some of the components. The thought process uses information in an individual human nervous system, and the rest of the human is the computer. You can extend that to include the human's tools if you like. The spreadsheet program is information, and the PC or Macbook it is running on is the computer. A species' genome is the information, and all of the individual members of the species are the computer (or a larger environment if you like).

The point is that each of these things can be directly compared with the others. And their capabilities can be compared. And when they are capable of some of the same things, the efficiency with which they do those things can be compared.


All of that is an argument for how a thought process occurring in a human is (arguably) analogous to a program running on a computer, or to changes in allele frequencies due to evolution. None of it supports your earlier claim that a human is a thought process. Arguing that a human is a thought process is not just untenable, it's pointless. The real point you're trying to make has nothing to do with whether a human is a thought process. It's abut whether and how you can compare the thought process to the evolutionary process. Insisting that a human is a thought process detracts from the point you're actually trying to make, and also negatively affects your credibility overall.

That is why I am so insistant on the thought process as a material, concrete thing. When it acts on an individual's surroundings to protect the individual's survival, it does so with an efficiency and capability that can be directly compared with other computational processes. And this helps to explain how humans have overrun the planet.


Whether or not the thought process is material and concrete is irrelevant to whether its efficiency and capability can be compared to other computational processes

I have been more concerned about the competition of useful ideas as a part of the shared thought process among several humans. In particular, it is my belief that this competition of ideas can't occur if it is preempted by evolutionary competition among the same humans. Only unthreatening equals can actually talk.


This is where you should be focusing. You're trying to claim that evolutionary competition interferes with ways that humans could more productively use the thought process. That's what you should try to support. There's no need to try to argue that evolution is somehow comparable to the thought process (in anything other than the most superficial way), because that's not related to your point.

reval
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Re: An essay against competition

Postby reval » Fri Mar 10, 2017 4:22 pm UTC

Yes, I could more precisely have written "a human contains a thought process". Use of the verb "to be" has been criticized as imprecise and ambiguous. I have tried, as an experiment, to write in E-Prime , and this has sometimes helped me to clarify my thoughts.

In this case, I feel I can make a more useful distinction, in the tradition of object oriented languages, by employing the verb "to be". A "is a" B expresses an inheritance or instantiation relationship. On the other hand, C "has a" D expresses a member relationship.

So, purely to organize my thinking:

A human "is an" instance of a thought process. A human "has an" idea. That means that the human contains a member. Specifically, the human contains the idea. The thought process class inherits from the class of computational local ordering processes. So a human "is a" thought process, which "is a" computational local ordering process. But the idea itself "is" not a computational local ordering process.

Comparably, the human species "has an" individual human. The species class contains a member, specifically a human. The human species "is an" instance of a species. The species class inherits from the class of computational local ordering processes. The point is that under this process, an individual human "is" *not* a computational local ordering process.

My argument about competition relies entirely on the comparability of these different processes. It stands and falls on that comparability. I don't want to proceed without establishing comparability. So I have to go and rethink my argument.

Chen
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Re: An essay against competition

Postby Chen » Fri Mar 10, 2017 6:36 pm UTC

reval wrote:So, purely to organize my thinking:

A human "is an" instance of a thought process. A human "has an" idea. That means that the human contains a member. Specifically, the human contains the idea. The thought process class inherits from the class of computational local ordering processes. So a human "is a" thought process, which "is a" computational local ordering process. But the idea itself "is" not a computational local ordering process.

Comparably, the human species "has an" individual human. The species class contains a member, specifically a human. The human species "is an" instance of a species. The species class inherits from the class of computational local ordering processes. The point is that under this process, an individual human "is" *not* a computational local ordering process.

My argument about competition relies entirely on the comparability of these different processes. It stands and falls on that comparability. I don't want to proceed without establishing comparability. So I have to go and rethink my argument.


You're using the word process in several places above and they all mean completely different things (if I'm understanding this correctly). It makes trying to understand what you are talking about pretty much incomprehensible. I think you need to consider simplifying the language you are using here to get your point across. The above paragraphs look like I just threw some sentences into an English-language technobabble machine.

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ucim
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Re: An essay against competition

Postby ucim » Fri Mar 10, 2017 7:06 pm UTC

reval wrote:So, purely to organize my thinking:
A human "is an" instance of a thought process. A human "has an" idea.
But an idea "is a" thought process. It is an instance of a thought process in its most pure sense. That is what thoughts are: ideas, and the relationships between ideas (which are themselves ideas in their own right).

If you are going to raise the idea (sic) that a thought is different from a thought process, then you are putting a fine spin on top of very murky usages. The difference between a thought and a thought process is much smaller than the difference between an abstract entity and a concrete one. You need to successfully address this before you can go anywhere with it.

There is a person sitting next to me, named Fulano De Tal. There is a computer in front of me running linux (and some other stuff).

struct person {string firstname, string lastname};
new person foo {firstname=>'Fulano', lastname=>'De Tal'};


foo is a person. That is, foo is an instantiation of person. But person is itself an instantiation of a struct in a database in an operating system... on my computer. foo inherits from my computer. So, my computer is a person. My computer is a foo, and foo is Fulano De Tal. So, my computer is Fulano De Tal.

Somehow, the actual person (Fulano De Tal) sitting next to me takes issue with this, and attributes it to sloppy definitions. He then invites me to take my computer on a date to demonstrate the difference.
Spoiler:
It would be a cheap date, but it might take me a while to get out of the nut ward afterwards.
I propose to you something different: A human has a liver. A human has a mother. A human has a stomachache. A human has a thought process. A human has an idea.
A human is a primate. A human is a step in the evolutionary chain. A human is a host for thought processes.
Spoiler:
...although this last (US) election makes me doubt that last one.
Not that not all of these imply inheritance. In English, "to be" and "to have" are overloaded. Overloading operators is sometimes handy in computer languages but needs to be handled very carefully or we end up with C++. Trying to carry these concepts over into English is problematic because lexical overloading is not precisely defined. Further, you are introducing an overload that runs counter to existing overloaded usages of the words.

I'd recommend using different words, ones that do not carry the baggage from preexisting meanings that run counter to your thrust.

An apple may be an instance of the color red, but it is not identical to the concept of redness. Apples do not embody embarrassment.

Jose
Order of the Sillies, Honoris Causam - bestowed by charlie_grumbles on NP 859 * OTTscar winner: Wordsmith - bestowed by yappobiscuts and the OTT on NP 1832 * Ecclesiastical Calendar of the Order of the Holy Contradiction * Please help addams if you can. She needs all of us.

reval
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Re: An essay against competition

Postby reval » Mon Mar 13, 2017 2:31 pm UTC

Okay, I agree that both E-Prime and the object oriented analogy are experiments that need to be abandoned. When my overloaded operators get compared with C++ I know I've failed.

But seriously, I'm trying to avoid overloading the word "process", though I may have slipped up here and there. I always mean a physical process: something that happens by itself as the Rube Goldberg machine that is the physical universe ticks along. It's a material thing. In the case of a computational process, it has to be a computer plus information. So one idea by itself is *not* a computational process. It needs its computer. Then it can be a thought process.

Similarly, an individual by itself is not an evolutionary process: it needs its species. Without the species (the *process* of natural selection), meaningful information does not get written into the gene pool. Individual organisms read the information in their genomes, but they do not write. They are not computational processes, by themselves.

The peermorgan.wordpress.com site now has the 2006 book as well as the 2016 essay. Whether that provides an easier way in, I don't know.

Chen
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Re: An essay against competition

Postby Chen » Mon Mar 13, 2017 4:08 pm UTC

reval wrote:But seriously, I'm trying to avoid overloading the word "process", though I may have slipped up here and there. I always mean a physical process: something that happens by itself as the Rube Goldberg machine that is the physical universe ticks along. It's a material thing. In the case of a computational process, it has to be a computer plus information. So one idea by itself is *not* a computational process. It needs its computer. Then it can be a thought process.

Similarly, an individual by itself is not an evolutionary process: it needs its species. Without the species (the *process* of natural selection), meaningful information does not get written into the gene pool. Individual organisms read the information in their genomes, but they do not write. They are not computational processes, by themselves.


A process is generally considered to be a series of directives/steps/actions that lead to some end. You seem to be using process in a different manner. You say a species is "the process of natural selection" which is a sentence that basically makes no sense. The process of natural selection may result in a species, but to say the species is the process is just confusing.

Flintstone
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Re: An essay against competition

Postby Flintstone » Wed Apr 19, 2017 7:36 am UTC

There are plenty of bad examples of competition. That doesn't mean a lack of competition is better--that seems to always lead to bad cases as far as I have seen.

A good example of a bad example of competition, is how a larger company will sometimes lower their prices to starve out smaller competition who can't afford to. This is bad for everyone EXCEPT the larger company. The smaller company goes out of business, and then as there is no competition the larger company will raise its prices to much higher than they originally were, so the buyers are worse off.

That's the classic example of bad competition or even bad capitalism, but there are plenty of others.


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