Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

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reval
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Re: Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

Postby reval » Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:19 am UTC

qetzal wrote:But people can also use the thought process for competition, right?

Yes! I have added emphasis to that word also. Do you see how that bears on your question and resolves the apparent contradiction? I fully agree that:
qetzal wrote:the thought process is involved in the vast majority of competition between human individuals

Also in much of the competition among animals. The point is that other animals use their thought process only to advance their genes. Humans advance their genes and also their ideas - which can persist independently of their genes.

There are two persons in one human individual. There is a choice. Yes, this is explicitly about a choice of values, which is difficult. The choice of values is simplified by looking at what helps (or hurts) the shared thought process.

***
ucim wrote:Questions for you

Okay ucim, I'm game. I will do my best to give you six straight answers. I'm sorry I don't have the time right now. I will try to do it this weekend.

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Re: Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

Postby reval » Mon Apr 29, 2019 12:55 am UTC

Answers for ucim:

ucim wrote:Question 4: What do you mean by "motives"? Define it in a way that is compatible with your use of the word in the (second) quote above.

I have moved this question to the top, since it may be helpful to start with some definitions for "purpose", "interest", and "motive".

"Purpose" in the context of one of these processes, as discussed in an earlier thread (with a hat tip to Rossegacebes and da Doctah), is the answer to both sides of the "why" question: "how come" and "what for". For a process like evolution, which uses simple adaptation to survive, the answer to both questions is "survival". Because the process is a loop. The adaptation came about "because" survival, and it exists "for" survival. That which survives, survives.

Please note that this definition of purpose requires neither understanding or intention. It does, however, require a computational local ordering process capable of adaptation, rather than for example a non-computational local ordering process. So I attribute purpose to evolution, which has adaptation, but I attribute no purpose to evaporation and rainfall (treated as a single process loop), which lacks adaptation.

"Interests" are things important to a purpose. For example, sunlight and a hydrological cycle are interests vital to the evolutionary process. They are also vital to the shared thought process. These interests are common to the two processes at present. (However, in the event that the shared thought process eventually finds substitutes for these things, they would no longer be included among its vital interests.)

The interests of processes may also conflict. For example, open communication among human individuals is a vital interest of the shared thought process. But this communication is impeded by the competition among human individuals which is a vital interest of the evolutionary process. Each action of mine bears on both processes at once. If I take a competitive advantage over my conspecifics, I advance one process. If I refrain from taking such an advantage, I advance the other. I can't advance both processes at once because their interests conflict with each other.

An individual's "motive" is an intention to act towards a purpose. An intention is based on a model of the individual's surroundings which is sufficient to connect an action with an expected result. If the result advances the interests of the purpose then that action is to be pursued. If the result hurts the purpose, then the action is to be avoided.

This doesn't have to be a good model. It may fall short of conscious understanding. It may be an instinct, a learned behavior, a cultural tradition, or a habit. It may be maladaptive or flat wrong. But there is still an model behind every individual intention.

This means we cannot attribute motives to the evolutionary process itself. It maintains and adapts the genetic information of a species without the benefit of a motive. Only individual animals who carry an individual thought process can have motives, e.g., are capable of intentional action based on a model of their surroundings.

(It is possible we may find models at work in, e.g., plants, fungi, or the immune system of animals, and these models may be sufficient for us to attribute intentional action to e.g. a plant's responses. This would of course be evolutionarily motivated action towards an evolutionary purpose. However, for the present discussion I would like to restrict the attribution of motives to the individual thought process of an animal.)

Towards which purpose will an individual thought process intend its actions? For non-human animals there is only individual advantage within the evolutionary competition. One purpose. For humans, in contrast, each situation offers a choice of purposes.

Evolution provides us with many ready-to-use models in the form of instincts, learned behaviors, traditions, and habits. It can be difficult to turn away from those easy off-the-shelf models, and start constructing new models for a new purpose. Nonetheless, a human can choose to be motivated by the shared thought process instead of evolutionary competition.

ucim wrote:Question 1: What, exactly, do you mean by "improvement", as it applies to a species, specifically, to the species you are trying to "improve" using the "thinking process"?

"Improve" and "improvement" are your words, ucim. I have not used them in this thread. I went back through earlier threads. It looks like I previously talked about "improved" tools, explanations, and understandings; I also talked about individuals who tried to "improve" their status or their advantage over others in a competitive context. But I did not talk about "improving" an individual or a species.

That is because I find "maintain" and "adapt" to be more useful terms to describe what the evolutionary and shared thought processes are doing as they try to survive.

An ordinary eddy turns passively at the edge of a river. But these particular kinds of eddies maintain themselves and adapt to changes in the flow towards disorder. More accurately, they are using computational methods to maintain and adapt local information within a limited energy supply. Just staying alive is "improvement" enough.

ucim wrote:Question 2: As you are creating this "master race" using the thinking process, how will you know that you have succeeded? How will you know that you haven't created a time bomb instead?

Again, "master" is your word, ucim, not mine. We've been through this before.

The "master" and the implied "slave" exist within a framework of evolutionary competition. Of course, this is the first thing that will occur to an evolutionarily motivated person when a genetic "improvement" to an individual or germline seems possible. "Can I use this to control someone?"

That is approximately the last thing that will occur to a person motived by the shared thought process. Any attempt to control someone will mean cutting off effective communication with that person, and perhaps also with other people who see what you're doing.

A more relevant issue is that we face a sharp cutoff in the development of artificial intelligence. I do not see a problem with the use of an AI that is kept significantly dumber than a dog, for example by breaking its separate functions into distinct modules that communicate with each other only in a very limited manner; that is a tool, not a slave. On the other hand, we do not yet have the ability to create AIs at our own level, and when we do they will be owed decent lives as our children and fellow citizens. Meanwhile, any attempt to create AI slaves should be treated the same as an attempt to enslave humans.

I'll defer the "time bomb" business to the next section.

ucim wrote:Question 3: Is this the goal you have in mind? A race of "better" humans created by deliberate germ line modifications?

Our present tools do not give us full control of genetic changes, our present models do not give us a full understanding of the implications of these changes, and our cellular mechanics do not allow us to fully remedy unexpected side effects. Nevertheless, the risks are probably acceptable when we are trying to cure a lethal disease in an individual.

When will we be ready to make such a correction in the germ line? Don't forget that curing individuals will allow lethal recessives to build up in the gene pool. Individuals who know they are carrying such genes already face a difficult decision over whether to attempt parenthood. In the past, they would have known about this only after earlier children had died. Now that we can read DNA, everybody is going to be forced to decide about parenthood with the knowledge of many more risks and susceptibilities that will be part of the lives of their descendents. As our tools improve, and our understanding of the implications improve, it will become irresponsible to pass on harmful mutations instead of fixing them.

While we are ending evolutionary selection in humans right now, we probably have several generations before the buildup of lethal recessives forces our hand. I have read (and written) dystopic science fiction, too. It is helpful to be aware of the dangers ahead. But those dangers must be measured against the greater danger of standing frozen where we are now. Yes, eventually we will take responsibility and choose our own genes.

ucim wrote:Question 5: As you wish to replace natural selection (competitive pressures) with some sort of artificial selection, how exactly is that selection supposed to take place?

We have not been talking about artificial selection at all. Artificial (or domestic) selection is practised on every farm and discussed in the first chapter of the Origin of Species. Please note that artificial selection continues to rely on the excess of those being born over those that can live, with the successful variation being chosed by humans instead of by intraspecies competition and the environment.

What we have been talking about, in contrast, is that genetic information is subsumed into the shared thought process when humans use tools such as DNA sequencers to read genetic information and CRISPR techniques to write genetic information. The precise tools will change, but the point is that they do not rely on variation and selection.

ucim wrote:Question 6: You state, at the bottom of the OP, "One of the processes is wrong for our purposes, and the other one is right." What are "our purposes"? (...and why are you so presumptive as to assume that the "purposes" you have come up with, whatever they are, are purposes that anybody else here would agree with?)

It is not within my powers, presumptive as they are, to exclude you from among "us", ucim. You have a functioning human brain and you are capable of communicating. You can't opt out of what you are. Whether you like it or not, you are part of both a process that operates on genes and another process that operates on ideas. Each has its own interests and its own purpose, whether you are aware of them or not. Those two purposes are also your purposes, ucim.

Concerning your understanding of yourself, and the intentions you base on that understanding, I don't have much to say. Like most things in the shared thought process, that is entirely up to you.

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Re: Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

Postby ucim » Mon Apr 29, 2019 4:44 am UTC

TLDR:While a process may have a purpose, the thing undergoing (or utilizing) that process isn't what has the motive to act towards that purpose. This is why I think the argument you make breaks down.

===

Question 4: Motives and purpose
Reminder: Definition to be compatible with the quote "One individual with two persons. One person (A) has evolutionary motives, while the other person (B) has thought process motives."
reval wrote:"Purpose" in the context of one of these processes, [...] is the answer to both sides of the "why" question: "how come" and "what for". For a process like evolution [...] the answer to both questions is "survival". [...]An individual's "motive" is an intention to act towards a purpose.
I'm ok with that. "The purpose of the process of evolution is survival [of the thing that is evolving - to wit, the species]". Of great importance here is that this is the purpose of evolution, not the purpose of the species, or of any member of the species. Now note that:
reval wrote:An individual's "motive" is an intention to act towards a purpose.
I'll buy that too. But the purpose it is acting towrds it the purpose of that individual. Above we had discussed the purpose of the process (of evolution). If you miss this, you can easily come up with a statement like:

"The motive (of the individual) is to act towards the purpose (of the process)", and that would be unjustified. Individuals coincidentally often have survival as a purpose, but it would be survival of the individual, not survival of the process, nor survival of the species.

This is key.

Later you state:
reval wrote:This[*] means we cannot attribute motives to the evolutionary process itself.
Your "This" refers to defects in the model an individual has, but that's not the reason we cannot attribute motives to the evolutionary process itself. The reason is that for the idea to make sense, "purpose" and "motive" must refer to the same entity.

According to you (and I'll buy in), evolution has a purpose. Similarly, a species can also be said to have a purpose. Clearly individuals have a purpose (often many purposes). These may not align. (See the end of Question 1, below, and the end of question 6, further below).

An individual employs the thought process, but is part of the evolutionary process.

Question 1: Improvement
reval wrote:"Improve" and "improvement" are your words, ucim. I have not used them in this thread.
Fair enough. But then, what's the point of it all? What is the purpose of evolution? What is the purpose of the process you wish to replace evolution with? Above, you indicate "survival". How is it that something survives? (You don't have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun your hiking partner.)

The evolutionary process creates individuals that outperform their ancestors in dealing with (current) adversity, and individuals that fail to. The latter do not reproduce as much. The result is that the species becomes populated with "better" individuals - that is, individuals better able to cope. This is the definition of a species becoming "better" in the context of evolutionary pressures.

I therefore thought that "better" was a reasonable inference. If this is incorrect, please explicitly say so, and tell me what you see this "thinking process" should have as its purpose. Is it the same as the evolutionary purpose, only more efficiently (you said something like this before)? In this case, see the paragraph above. Evolution makes a species "better". Is it instead simply something like the avoidance of conflict among members of the "thinking club"? If so, you will need to go back to my response to Question 5, above. Each and every individual will have a different purpose, and also a purpose that's different from the purpose of the species and of the thinking process itself.

For example, Fred and George might both want to date Mary. That's the (immediate) purpose of Fred and George. What here is the purpose of the "thinking process"? And how is that purpose actualized in this example? (We haven't even considered whether Mary wants to date either of them!)

See also the end of my response to question 3.

Question 2: Master race
reval wrote:Again, "master" is your word, ucim, not mine.
Fair enough. It comes out of extending the idea of using the thinking process to improve the species. If that's not the idea, (see above), what is?

reval wrote:A more relevant issue is that we face a sharp cutoff in the development of artificial intelligence...
I'm not sure what you mean here. At the moment AI is dumber than a dog. However, it's still a useful enough tool that we will continue to improve AI, until it is smart enough to make itself smarter. At that point a chain reaction begins, and we're ch*rped.

Again, see also the end of my response to question 3.

Question 3: Germ line modification
reval wrote: Nevertheless, the risks are probably acceptable when we are trying to cure a lethal disease in an individual. [...] As our tools improve, and our understanding of the implications improve, it will become irresponsible to pass on harmful mutations instead of fixing them. [...] Yes, eventually we will take responsibility and choose our own genes.
Agreed, with caution. You seem to be aware of the risks too. But the big risk I see is the definition of "harmful" mutation. Some cases are pretty clear, but many are not. Left-handedness ("sinister")? Laziness? Nonstandard sexuality? Brown eyes?

I think you think that the "thinking process" will confer the wisdom to tell which genes (after the low hanging fruit) we should modify. Here you are much more optomistic than I am. And it may not be individuals choosing the genes, but organizations (be they commercial, political, or otherwise). This has been tried before, and I've no doubt it will be tried again.

So, here I don't see that the "thinking process" is the improvement you seem to hold it out as.

And either way, what is the purpose of modifying the germ line at all? Is it not to eliminate the "bad genes" and encourage the "good genes" (however they may be defined)? Is that not (see question 1 and question 2) the very definition of "improvement"?

Question 5: Artificial vs Natural selection

reval wrote:We have not been talking about artificial selection at all.
Not the kind practiced on every farm, but the selection of genes is certainly a form of artificial selection. So is the thinking process. In the pure form you envision, there may be no winnowing (selection from already-created individuals), but there is certainly selection (from the theoretical space) of which (new) individuals to create in the first place. The result is the same - influence of the germ line, and eventual alteration (evolution) of the species.

Question 6: "our purposes"
reval wrote:Whether you like it or not, you are part of both a process that operates on genes and another process that operates on ideas.
Ok, but...
reval wrote:Those two purposes are also your purposes, ucim.
No, they are not. And they are not your purposes either. (See my answer to question 1, above).

My purposes are the purposes of an individual - an organism.
The purposes of the species are different, even though the species is made up of organisms.
The purposes of the proceess(es) are also different, even though the organisms employ (or are part of) a process.

The purpose of the (specific unspecified) worker is to calculate the best days to ship products. The purpose of the department she works at is to keep shipping costs down. The purpose of the company she works at is to make and sell iPads. The purpose of the stockholder of this company is to make money for himself in exchange for risking capital.

The result is world domination by Apple.

The specific unspecified worker is not trying to dominate the world. They are just trying to feed their family by going to work every day, calculating the best days for shipping.

Similarly, even if the purpose of the evolutionary process is to survive, it does not follow that the individual has the motive to serve the evolutionary process' purpose. The motive it has is to serve the individual's purpose. They are (see my response to question 4, top) different.

Jose
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Re: Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

Postby qetzal » Tue Apr 30, 2019 3:21 am UTC

reval wrote:The choice of values is simplified by looking at what helps (or hurts) the shared thought process.


That would only make sense if the shared thought process itself is the value.

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Re: Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

Postby reval » Sun May 12, 2019 2:21 pm UTC

You are right, ucim, to focus on the question "who why?" Which entity has which purpose (or motive)? Which actor does what?

But you suggest I am confusing the thing undergoing the process - with the process it is undergoing. This is not a confusion: I am explicitly treating the two as a single entity.

Recall that I am talking about computational local ordering processes.

A distinction between a process and its entity amounts to a distinction between a computer and its information. But that is not a useful distinction since they do everything together and neither can exist on its own. They share a single purpose. If they possess a motive, they share it.

* * *

Back to "who why?"

A species within the evolutionary process is a single "who" with a single purpose (how come and what for? Survival). It has purpose, but no motive. The evolution of the species does not follow a model and is incapable of intentional action. Therefore it has no motive as such.

(Bigger and faster may be an advantage for the current generation, when there are many rivals around, but the same traits may be a disadvantage for the next generation, when there is starvation. The gene pool takes a random walk around a changing phase space. This is why I prefer to think about evolution "maintaining and adapting" a species, rather than "improving" it. The version that is later in time isn't necessarily "better".)

In contrast, an animal with an individual thought process is capable of intentional action and motive. The animal's motive is based on a model of its surroundings. It acts because its model predicts a result that advances its purpose. This model exists at one remove from the purpose of survival, and there's many a slip between the cup and the lip. So a motive is connected with a purpose, but it is not the same as a purpose.

What is this "animal who" (or "person A")? The animal is not persisting its model, but its genes. The squirrel is not passing on information about where the acorns are buried, but it is passing on the genes of a squirrel that is capable of finding its own buried acorns. So the animal's motive still comes down to survival - the persistence of its genes through the evolutionary process - or more precisely, its evolutionary advantage over rival squirrels.

How many actors, then? One for the whole species and its purpose. Plus one for each individual and its motive. (Recall that evolution is only computationally complete across an entire species of squirrels, while each squirrel carries a complete computer in its individual nervous system.)

Now we look at humans, who persist information through the shared thought process, as well as through the evolutionary process. So there is at least one additional "who" involved. Again, the purpose of the shared thought process is survival, but the process itself is completely different.

My initial preference would have been to simplify the number of human entities to: one for the human evolutionary process, one for the shared thought process, plus one per individual carrying a single motive attached one or the other of the above purposes. But I know that isn't enough.

I have mixed motives myself, and I have to reckon with at least two motives per human. I tried to describe this situation as "person A" and "person B", two persons in one individual. The clarifying distinction is to identify each process with the information it reads and writes. A human individual carries two sets of information, both genes and persistable ideas.

Some future human will have absorbed genetic information into shared thought and will persist it independently of the evolutionary process. That human will be motivated by the shared thought process alone, and won't have any interest in competing with other humans. We're halfway there already.

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Re: Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

Postby ucim » Sun May 12, 2019 11:58 pm UTC

reval wrote:But you suggest I am confusing the thing undergoing the process - with the process it is undergoing. This is not a confusion: I am explicitly treating the two as a single entity.
[...]
A distinction between a process and its entity amounts to a distinction between a computer and its information. But that is not a useful distinction...
This, I would say, is an error.

A database (set of tables with its associated information) is very different from a database (the backend program that does the insertion, sorting, report generation, etc.). I can create a set of tables holding information about a car dealership using Dbase, and then import that information into MySQL. It can also be "run" (operated on) by Postgres. Due to a few differences in supported commands, some things may require adjustment, but if those features are avoided, it's pretty seamless. And just because MySQL runs a car dealership database doesn't mean it can't also run a school registration system or a set of lab results.

The data is independent from the program.

Similarly consider the simple case of a computer and a program. A computer can run many different programs. This should go without saying, as it's what "general purpose computer" means, but I'm saying it explicitly so you can disagree (or not) with this concept. Further, a program, which is just a set of instructions, can be run on many different computers. A program can even be run on another program which is run on another computer - nested as far as you have patience for. And a program can be run on a set of pipes and valves, or a string of dominoes. The program has no idea what kind of hardware it's running on, so long as that hardware supports the instructions being run on it. Logic is logic, NOR is NOR. If you ask it what's seven minus three, the answer is gonna be four.

It's admittedly a bit trickier when the output of the program is actuation of a device (such as controlling the arm of the space shuttle); in that case the two are symbiotically dependent. However, it still makes a ch*rp-ton of sense to think of them as separate, at the very least in the sense that the heart is different from the lungs.

reval wrote:A species within the evolutionary process is a single "who" with a single purpose (how come and what for? Survival).
I'll buy into the idea that it has a purpose, but not a single purpose. Consider the dung beetle. How come and what for? It's reasonable to answer both of these questions as "to eat dung, recycle its components back into the ecosystem, and help disperse seeds found therein". It got that purpose because it evolved in parallel with the species whose dung provides its sustenance. This is what it does, this is what wouldn't happen if dung beetles didn't exist. It's "what it's for".

Nothing decided on this purpose, because deciding requires some form of thought. As you put it, it has no "motive". But it has "purpose". Multiple purposes.

Evolution (as you say) is a random walk whose "purpose" is to maintain and adapt. Evidence however supports the idea that evolution also "improves", giving species more features, more abilities, greater range, etc. Sure, if the underlying environment changes, this "new improved" version may well be at a disadvantage, but so long as the environment changes slowly enough (which has been the case in general biological history), evolution does result in "new and improved" versions of their underlying species. It's how bears evolved from protozoa. Bears are more feature-rich than protozoa.

reval wrote:In contrast, an animal with an individual thought process is capable of intentional action and motive. The animal's motive is based on a model of its surroundings. It acts because its model predicts a result that advances its purpose. This model exists at one remove from the purpose of survival...
What are you contrasting with what? The way I read it, you are contrasting an animal (which unlike "the process of evolution", can think), with evolution itself. This is not a worthwhile contrast - one could just as easily contrast clouds with riding a bicycle.

And no, the animal's model does not exist at one remove from the purpose of survival. The model exists directly for the purpose of survival (of the model's host, to wit, the animal). That is, the animal uses the model so that the animal can survive. The animal wants to survive, it doesn't care about survival of the species or about the process of evolution. It wants lunch, and wants not to be lunch. Animals who, by dint of their model, do more of the former and less of the latter tend to dominate. This is not "for the purpose" of evolution, this is evolution.

I'll stop here, because if we're in disagreement here, the rest doesn't matter.

Jose
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Re: Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

Postby reval » Sun May 19, 2019 4:46 pm UTC

I wish we could have gotten closer than clouds versus bicycles. At least one of these seems vague and unformed in your conception. Perhaps if you were to give that cloud a clearer and more definite shape you would be able to see the essential similarity I am trying to draw out?

Of course, I understand that I am accused of making a category error. How could it be otherwise, while I am in fact trying to create a totally new category? The things that fall together into this new category do not fall together in older categories.

"A computational local ordering process" is a new category of things. Maybe I should try some different words?

"A movement of objects that repeats based on the position of those objects."

"A goings-on that keeps its own description for how to keep going on."

"A cloud riding a bicycle."

* * *

More seriously, it's a computer that reads and writes information. And we've added the requirement that it has to keep going by using the available energy to maintain itself.

So it's not a computer that is being used by some different actor who has plugged the computer into a wall socket. That's why an animal's individual thought process - even though it is a complete computational process by itself - is not an independent local ordering process. It is a dependent part of the evolutionary process.

I have asserted that materially represented information has no meaningful purpose outside of a computational process. But I did not say that the information has to be exclusive to one process.

If information is copied or taken over by another process, we can treat it as part of the purpose of the new process.

This happens when a species gets a lateral gene transfer from a virus that carries a gene over from a different species. Or when the human shared thought process reads and corrects a genetic defect that causes Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Or when I vandalize a Sumerian clay tablet by pencilling in a marginal note saying the original scribe's spelling sucks. Okay, I probably wouldn't do that. But I could!

In each case, we're talking about the process itself. The process is the entity - the actor - the person.

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Re: Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

Postby ucim » Thu May 23, 2019 4:39 am UTC

reval wrote:"A computational local ordering process" is a new category of things. Maybe I should try some different words?
Yes. To me, "computational local ordering process" is a meaningless buzzword salad. Explain what you mean by this, how it differs from other things that already have a name, and why these are important distinctions. Of your other phrases, "A goings-on that keeps its own description for how to keep going on" seems the closest to what I think you're getting at, which is to fuse the program and the substrate (the thing that runs the program).

reval wrote:I have asserted that materially represented information has no meaningful purpose outside of a computational process. But I did not say that the information has to be exclusive to one process.
You seem to be considering a category of hardware/software or computer/data which is in principle inseperable.

Am I correct?

If so, I would say:

This is an error. That is... there is no thing which fits into this category. I see where you would like to see living things fit in here, but when you consider that 99% of the same programming data "runs" a human and a mouse equally well, this argues for conceptual separation of the program, the data, and the machine.

and

This is irrelevant to your argument (about competition being bad, which is a prerequisite to the need for an alternative), and a distraction from it. That is, even if I accept the premise, and think of an organism as "A goings-on that keeps its own description for how to keep going on", this doesn't really help me reach the next step in your argument about competition.

reval wrote:...If information is copied or taken over by another process, we can treat it as part of the purpose of the new process....
Here you seem to be making "purpose" be something that can be transplanted too. This makes "purpose" more concrete than I think is warranted.

reval wrote:In each case, we're talking about the process itself. The process is the entity - the actor - the person.
The word "process" could use more definition. How is this (usage of the word) process different from the ordinary usage of the word (which is an action and not a thing), and why is that an essential difference?

reval wrote:I wish we could have gotten closer than clouds versus bicycles.
The thing is, organisms, species, and evolution are each categorically different kinds of things. You are comparing them in ways that are inappropriate. Specifically, what are the key things that are the same between them? You compare them regarding purpose, intention, and motive, but "so what?" if there isn't a bunch of things the same about organisms, species, and evolution.

Jose
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Re: Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

Postby reval » Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:19 pm UTC

I suppose anything can become a word salad if you don't see the right connections between the words. For me, a "computational local ordering process" (CLOP) is well-defined and well-connected. But if other words will help, by all means let's use other words.

We're also going to need words for a simpler "computational process" (CP) without the self-sustaining part.

So a CLOP is going to be a "goings-on that keeps its own description for how to keep going on." A CP is a "goings-on that keeps its own description".

Either of these consists of two parts: a goings-on and a description, an action and a thing. Sure, you can talk about the goings-on separately, or you can talk about the description separately, but you're not talking about the whole CP when you break it up that way. Only the combined entity is a CP.

A digital computer is a goings-on that you supply with power, and which you can unplug from its battery or wall socket, and that is one thing. The description for these goings-on - the operating system, program, and apps - is not very powerful, it's not self-sustaining, and you can turn this thing on and off whenever you want.

Nevertheless, the digital computer connects with another CP, the individual thought process of humans and animals. We get in more trouble if we try to turn off a human, okay. The description for our goings-on - our thoughts - are not (for an individual) self-sustaining. This description might be directed at survival, but it might also be directed at, say, stamp-collecting. In neither case does it outlast individual death.

And the individual human is part of another goings-on - there is a DNA description for much of this goings-on, though crucially it doesn't cover everything the thought process does, only the blueprints for how to build a brain.

The goings-on in an individual human are actually insufficient for full operations on the DNA description, specifically for writing useful changes back to the description. That requires a full breeding population of humans, all competing with each other. (You knew competition was going to come back into this!)

But now we've stumbled into a full CLOP with "goings-on that keeps its own description for how to keep going on," including the "description for how to keep going on" part. That's a big deal.

A CLOP is not something where you push one button to start it, and another button to stop it. It's bigger than you. It's been going since before you were born, and it will keep going after you're gone. You stand back and watch it go.

And if you're me, you notice a small part of it, and point and say - that's me!

And since my own little CP is a component part of these Two Great Goings-on - and one of them runs on competition, while the other doesn't - the descriptions I come up with matter, and my goings-on matter in their own little way for what happens with the larger picture.

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Re: Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

Postby ucim » Sun Jun 02, 2019 8:41 pm UTC

reval wrote:We're also going to need words for a simpler "computational process" (CP) without the self-sustaining part.

So a CLOP is going to be a "goings-on that keeps its own description for how to keep going on." A CP is a "goings-on that keeps its own description".
Let's distinguish between the noun and the verb, because this causes confusion.

"Computer" is a noun. It's a thing.
"Computer program" is also a noun. It's an abstract thing, but a thing nonetheless.
"Computer that is running a program" is also a noun. Like "computer", it's a thing, despite the fact that the thing is busy.

The process that happens when the program is running on a computer is a verb. It's an action like spinning, falling, running, doing one's taxes, and answering blog posts. (More precisely it is a gerund, but the important distinction is that the word represents an action, not a thing.)

1: By "goings-on", are you referring to an action or a thing? Is it the "computer that is running a program" or the "process that happens when the computer is running a program"? True, you state "Either of these consists of two parts: a goings-on and a description, an action and a thing.", implying "goings-on" is an action. But that means that a "goings on that {properties}" is also an action, not a thing, but then you treat it as a thing. It's important to be clear on this.

1a: Is a person a kind of thing or a kind of process? (A thing can run a process, but cannot be a process).

Now, on to "keeps its own description". It's not clear from the definition "a goings on that..." but I think what you are getting at as the difference between a CP and a CLOP is that a CLOP can reproduce. I think that's what you're trying to say by "...for how to keep going on". A (present-day) computer cannot reproduce (for many reasons), but a cow can. Nonetheless, a suitably written computer program can reproduce. It just requires a computer to be running on to do it. And contrarywise, a cow cannot reproduce in the absence of oxygen, water, gravity, food, etc. Like a computer program, a cow requires a substrate (environment) to be running on (living in) in order to reproduce.

2: What is the key conceptual difference between a cow (in its environment) and a self-replicating program (in its environment)?

reval wrote:We get in more trouble if we try to turn off a human, okay.
Only from the law. Otherwise turning off a human is easy. It's the turning it back on again that's hard. In any case, how do you define "death" for a computer? Seems to me the best analogy would be smashing it up, not "turning it off". The programming wouldn't survive that any more than "human" programming would survive a bullet in the head. So I don't think this points to a key difference.

reval wrote:And the individual human is part of another goings-on - there is a DNA description for much of this goings-on, though crucially it doesn't cover everything the thought process does, only the blueprints for how to build a brain.
Actually, the DNA has the blueprints for how to build an entire organism. The key thing here is that, unlike a computer, an organism builds itself. It is this that allows DNA to be sufficient to create another organism. But an importanat distinction needs to be made here in the analogy: The DNA is like the technical specs for the computer and the factory that builds it. This is different from the programs the computer eventually run; that is more like the body of experience stored in the brain that informs its actions.

Before getting into the CLOP, lets be clear on the questions above.

Jose
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Re: Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

Postby qetzal » Mon Jun 03, 2019 1:09 am UTC

I would just like to interject at this point, to say that as far as I can tell, none if this CLOP supports the OP claims that evolution requires competition, or that competition is bad, or that the thought process is somehow an alternative to either evolution or competition, or that the thought process is good in the same sense as competition is (supposedly) bad.

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Re: Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

Postby reval » Fri Jun 07, 2019 2:43 pm UTC

I'm sorry, qetzal. At this point I'm just trying to clarify how shared thought is analogous to evolution, and I have to refer you back to my earlier attempts to work out the implications, such as the differing role of competition in the two processes.

Yes, ucim, I understand that you keep saying things like:

ucim wrote:A thing can run a process, but cannot be a process.


Do you see how you might be caught in a word-trap there? People kept looking for a "medium" for electomagnetic waves that would be consistent with the Michelson-Morley result that the speed of light is the same in all directions, when it should vary. But we don't think in terms of a "medium" anymore.

When I sweep up the operations of a computer and its (materially-represented) information into a single concept, like "a goings-on that keeps its own description", I'm putting a verb and two nouns together to make a sentence. The "keeps" is the "action" verb of that sentence, which also contains two "thing" nouns: a "goings-on" and a "description". Though I admit that "goings-on" is deliberately action-y.

Maybe the conceptual difficulty here is that a CP can be an actor on its own. It is not necessarily something that is acted on. It can do the acting itself.

But the cow analogy is unhelpful here, since domestic cow breeds are part of domestic (artifical) selection, and are dependent on several human intentions. They have lost much of their own action.

A self-replicating program inside a digital computer is also unhelpful, as it depends on a power cord. We have to get the self-replicating computer out into a larger world, and it has to make its own living. Even that is not a CLOP yet: a "goings-on that keeps its own description for how to keep going on", until it meets one additional criterium:

* The description must allow it to keep going on.

It is not sufficient to keep running a stamp-collecting program. A CLOP actor has to maintain itself in the larger world, and adapt to changes around it, and survive those changes by means of the description it carries. This is where its (relative) independence comes from.

I'm aware that the evolution of one species, one CLOP, is not fully independent of other species and other environmental factors. The point is that it is independent to the point of carrying its own purpose, its own survival, encoded in its own DNA description. The domestic cow breeds have their own DNA, but they have to some extent lost their own purpose. They are CPs, but perhaps less than full CLOPs.

I claim the shared human thought process is a full CLOP: "A goings-on that keeps its own description for how to keep going on."

I want to leave you with the image of an eddy. Watch the eddy, not the water that goes through it. This is a simple goings-on without a description, but it keeps visibly going around in a circle, while the main stream keeps heading down to the sea. This is a metaphor for a local ordering process, using the main flow to keep a little bit of local order in place while the universe as a whole becomes more and more disordered.

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Re: Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

Postby ucim » Fri Jun 07, 2019 5:06 pm UTC

reval wrote:
ucim wrote:A thing can run a process, but cannot be a process.
Do you see how you might be caught in a word-trap there?
One of us is. But words are what we have for communicating. It behooves us to be clear. Space and time are still different from each other. They are interrelated, but they are interrelated in a very specific way.

--> The thing that runs the process, and the process that the thing runs, are different. They are related, but in a very specific way.

reval wrote:But the cow analogy is unhelpful here, since domestic cow breeds are part of domestic (artifical) selection
So substitute "frog" for "cow". The point is the same, and just as valid.

reval wrote:A self-replicating program inside a digital computer is also unhelpful, as it depends on a power cord.
This is not fundamentally relevant. Yes, the program will vanish if the digital computer is unplugged, but there may well be a "cosmic power cord" of which we are unaware - something that (for example) ensures the direction of entropy, or holds the mass ratios of the fundamental particles constant. This "cosmic power cord" (if it exists) may well be outside of our ability to detect, just like the computer's power cord is undiscoverable by its hosted self-replicating programs. It doesn't matter - the point is that we (biological creatures) are also dependent on a substrate (space, time, oxygen), whatever form it may take.

--> So I still don't see a key conceptual difference between a cow frog (in its environment) and a self-replicating program (in its environment).

reval wrote:...Watch the eddy, not the water that goes through it...
Yes, the eddy is a thing - a sort of abstract thing. It is the result of a process; a process that depends very much on a substrate. It actually does have a description - one that is written in the substrate rather than the thing itself. It is somewhat analagous to a species (or a club), which, while composed of a collection of individuals, is an abstraction of that idea as the individuals come and go.

reval wrote:[To be a CLOP, t]he description must allow it to keep going on.
Again, the key thing I see here is the idea that the CLOP is self-replicating. (That it needs an environment to do it in is universal, therefore not a relevant property.)

--> Is this correct? If not, what is the key difference between self-replication, and "keeping its own description for how to keep going on"? (If anything, I'd imagine self-replication to be the stronger idea - one can keep the description for how to keep going on without actually having the ability to keep going on.)

Jose
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Re: Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

Postby reval » Sat Jun 08, 2019 7:05 pm UTC

Self-replication is a good way to "keep going on", but insufficient by itself. An actor can't just keep making clones of itself. That won't work. The environment will change, the available energy sources will change, and the actor either changes itself or it doesn't "keep going".

The interesting part of the story is the actor's maintenance and adaptation of its own description. That's what it needs to go after food, i.e. after available energy, i.e. after the means to continue its local ordering, i.e. to maintain its description. That's what it needs to survive. That's meaningful.

To be explicit, the actor could be a species of humans evolving under competition, or the actor could be a shared thought process of humans who are not competing with each other.

This is also why the digital computer's power cord is fundamentally relevant: that CP's description doesn't have to *do* anything to keep the power flowing. It can go on collecting stamps. It does not have to do anything that is meaningful for survival. A CLOP does.

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Re: Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

Postby ucim » Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:34 pm UTC

reval wrote:Self-replication is a good way to "keep going on", but insufficient by itself. An actor can't just keep making clones of itself. That won't work.
"Won't work"? What defines "work"? Your statement implies a goal. What is this "goal"?

I will agree that if an actor replicates, this has no bearing on the original actor, but rather, some "collective" of actors is what "keeps going on" after the original actor dies. More specifically, the species keeps going on after all members of the original collection have died (which takes just one generation), and that the "description" of the species is sort-of written in the DNA. But species die out too, for all the reasons that an individual organism might (change in environment, available energy sources, etc). So, while "species" is "one level higher" than "organism, I don't see it as having a fundamental difference, other than it being the thing you're trying to talk about.

Individual organisms are composed of parts - cells, for example - that replicate and die. Even after all the cells have died and been replaced, the original organism "keeps going on".

Individual organisms grow and learn and adapt to the environment. They still die. So what is the fundamental difference here between species and organism, that plays into keeping going on?

What I see as common what you are getting at in your descriptions is the idea that a thing is made of parts, and the parts can die and be replicated while the thing "keeps going on". The parts hold the description (so it's good that the parts get replicated). This works for organism (composed of cells) as well as a species (composed of organisms). The description of how to keep on keeping going on is stored in those parts, and sometimes in the relationships between those parts. What is the fundamental difference between one level pair of levels and the other?

reval wrote:... that CP's description doesn't have to *do* anything to keep the power flowing. It can go on collecting stamps.
Depends on what its program is. A "stamp"(*) collecting AI doesn't need to keep the power on, but it does need to keep whatever it needs flowing... that could be CPU cycles, memory slots, whatever. Similarly, frogs need flies and water, but they don't need *do* anything to keep the charge/mass ratio of the electron constant. It can't, any more than a CP can keep the power flowing. Analogy not broken.

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(*)I'm going to simplify here and assume virtual stamps. A real stamp collecting robot does need to keep the power on.
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Re: Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

Postby reval » Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:50 pm UTC

Different kinds of actors. In the evolutionary context, an individual (a CP actor) might reproduce, and then you would have a different individual, a different CP actor.

But when a species (a CLOP actor) uses self-replication to "keep going on", there is only one actor. There is only on species. The self-replication - and its competition-based maintenance and adaptation - occurs within the single CLOP actor.

The point is that the human shared thought process is an alternate CLOP: a single actor that can "keep going on" indefinitely.

But, back in the evolutionary context, the individual cannot persist its information - either DNA or thoughts - indefinitely. Only the species-and-process-of-evolution can "keep going on", and it does it by persisting DNA, *not* thoughts. Only the DNA gene pool is in the CLOP description. And the maintenance and adaptation of the DNA description absolutely requires the competition, quick turnover, and fast death of individuals.

So individual thought cannot "keep going on" until, as part of the human shared thought process, it becomes part of a different CLOP.

(*) A virtual stamp collecting computer program needs power just as much as a robot does. It just has no influence or control over the power cable. A robot might at least start to gain control over its power source.

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Re: Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

Postby ucim » Fri Jun 14, 2019 5:13 pm UTC

Never mind the thought process for now. We're not there yet.

reval wrote:Different kinds of actors. In the evolutionary context, an individual (a CP actor) might reproduce, and then you would have a different individual, a different CP actor.

But when a species (a CLOP actor) uses self-replication to "keep going on", there is only one actor. There is only on species. The self-replication - and its competition-based maintenance and adaptation - occurs within the single CLOP actor.
You're looking at different levels, not different actors. And for now, let's not confuse things with CP and CLOP. The key thing is that a species does not use self-replication to "keep going on". Rather, its components (individual organisms) do.

An organism "keeps going on" by allowing its components to reproduce. As cells die off, they are replaced by other cells that take over the functions of the dead cells, and in this manner the individual keeps doing its thing, even though soon every cell is different. It "keeps going on". (See the Ship of Theseus, an inanimate version of this idea).

In addition to this, the organism can reproduce, by making a[n imperfect] copy of itself. But this is not how the organism keeps going on, any more than cells reproducing in an organism is how cells keep going on.

Now look at a species. It is "made up of"(*) organisms, but is not itself an organism. A species "keeps going on" by allowing its components (individual organisms) to reproduce. As organisms die off, they are replaced by other organisms that take over the (ecological, for example) functions of the dead ones, and in this manner the species keeps doing its thing (maintaining its niche in the ecosystem), even though every organism is different. It's a direct parallel to the way an organism keeps going on, above. It's not about whether or not there is "one actor", but rather, about the fact that, along the lines of the ship of Theseus, replacing the components one by one allows the whole to "keep going on". For living things, the components do their own replacing (as opposed to it being done in a shipyard). But the idea is the same. The "thing" you are talking about, on every level, is an abstraction of the interactions of a set of components.

To continue the parallel...
In addition to this, the species can reproduce, by making a[n imperfect] copy of itself. Since a species is a conceptual entity rather than a physical one, the idea of a "copy" requires a bit more thought for insight, but this is how new speces evolve in the first place. But we don't even need to go that far. Simply isolate a population(+) (say, on an island). Now there is a copy of the original population, just located on an island. Each copy has all it needs to "be a species(+)" and "keep going on". The two populations may not be identical, but then neither is a child identical to the parent.

Just like a child grows up to be a different person with different life experiences and attitudes from the parent, so to does an offshoot population "grow up" to be a different species as it responds to environmental differences.

Just like organisms die, species die too.

The parallel is almost perfect. The primary difference is in the concept of a species (which is an abstraction) as opposed to the concept of a population (which is concrete).

Organism -> made of cells. Cells reproduce and die; organism keeps going on.
Population (or species) -> made up of organisms. Organisms reproduce and die, population keeps going on.

Organism -> Entire organism can reproduce by making a copy of itself. This is not the original organism "keeping going on"! It's a new organism, which can grow and evolve on its own.
Population (or species) -> Entire population can reproduce by making a copy of itself. This is not the original population "keeping going on"! It's a new population, which can grow and evolve on its own.

First, do you follow the analogy?
Second, do you agree with the analogy?
(if not, then without using CP and CLOP, where do you think it goes awry?)

Let's not worry yet about "keep on keeping on" until we're on the same page here. I have a feeling it will become evident soon enough.

reval wrote:A virtual stamp collecting computer program needs power just as much as a robot does.
The difference is that if the power goes out for a virtual stamp collection program, the entire universe disappears. This is not true for a robot.

(*) More in an abstract sense than a concrete one, but good enough for now
(+) Actually, this whole thing is clearer if we focus on "a population" rather than "a species", since this eliminates one level of abstraction.

Jose
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Re: Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

Postby qetzal » Sat Jun 15, 2019 1:43 am UTC

I don’t see how this fits with the OP’s claims. Species can’t use the thought process. Also, species don’t reproduce.

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Re: Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

Postby ucim » Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:48 am UTC

qetzal wrote:I don’t see how this fits with the OP’s claims. Species can’t use the thought process. Also, species don’t reproduce.
I'm not addressing the thought process (yet), because I'm trying first to see what the key difference is between the two given examples (species and organism). And species do reproduce, sort of. Certainly populations reproduce (by spawning).

The reason I'm pursuing this is that I believe there is a misunderstanding of just what it is that is doing the reproducing that allows the (higher level) thing to "keep going on". For example:

reval wrote:But when a species (a CLOP actor) uses self-replication to "keep going on"
The species is not what is self-replicating. The components replicate, the species "keeps going on". But there's a direct parallel with cells and individuals. Once we have a consistent picture here, we can examine what it means to "keep going on" at each of the (two sets of two) levels in question, and see if there's a key difference we can agree on.

At that point, one of us should be enlightened.

Jose
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Re: Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

Postby qetzal » Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:19 pm UTC

I (think I) understand the point you’re going for. I just don’t see how it’s going to be relevant to the OP’s claim about the thought process. Species don’t think or eat or reproduce. A species can’t use the thought process for any goal cause a species can’t have goals. Individual humans can have goals, and groups of humans can have the same goals. In principle, all humans could have a common goal. But that’s not really the same as the himan species having a goal.

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Re: Competition Is Bad. There's An Alternative.

Postby ucim » Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:28 pm UTC

qetzal wrote:I (think I) understand the point you’re going for. I just don’t see how it’s going to be relevant to the OP’s claim about the thought process...
I agree. But the OP doesn't. So I'm taking it from the OP's POV.

As to goals, a good definition is needed of what a "goal" is. On the one hand, my goal is to enjoy life, contribute to mankind's body of knowledge, art, culture, whatever. This is an intellectual goal that my "thought process" came up with. But on the other hand, my goal is to reproduce and perpetuate the species. This is a goal that evolution ensured my "DNA operating system" would possess. It's not a goal that my "thought process" has.
Spoiler:
Arguably it's not a goal that the "DNA operating systems" of gays or asexuals have either, but let's not get distracted by that detail. At least not yet.
The point is that different goals come from different places - different mechanisms. So, even if the "thinking process" could provide a "better" way to accomplish the goal of the "DNA operating system", this is not a goal that the "thinking process" has to begin with.

While I think that the OP's conclusion is incorrect (the "thinking process" isn't a "better way" to accomplish "the goal"), simply saying so won't be very convincing so long as xe thinks the conclusion is inevitable from the reasoning xe's using. So, I'm aiming to translate the reasoning, and in so doing, show that xis conclusion does not necessarily follow. Or (if I'm wrong), to understand the subtle point xe's making by finding where my translation fails.

Jose
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