“I can pull the W out of the model …”

{t-12}

Scott Adams just linked to a staggering piece of neuroscience.

The forefront of cognitive science seems to indicate that religion and LSD are correct, and it is the reasonable, the sober, and the sane who are caught in the grasp of Olam HaSheker – the world of lies.

I highly recommend reading the whole interview. Here are some choice quotes:

I have a space X of experiences, a space G of actions, and an algorithm D that lets me choose a new action given my experiences. Then I posited a W for a world, which is also a probability space. Somehow the world affects my perceptions, so there’s a perception map P from the world to my experiences, and when I act, I change the world, so there’s a map A from the space of actions to the world. That’s the entire structure. Six elements. The claim is: This is the structure of consciousness. I put that out there so people have something to shoot at.

But if there’s a W, are you saying there is an external world?

Here’s the striking thing about that. I can pull the W out of the model and stick a conscious agent in its place and get a circuit of conscious agents. In fact, you can have whole networks of arbitrary complexity. And that’s the world.Thi

The entire world is just conciousness, man.

The world is just other conscious agents?

I call it conscious realism: Objective reality is just conscious agents, just points of view. Interestingly, I can take two conscious agents and have them interact, and the mathematical structure of that interaction also satisfies the definition of a conscious agent. This mathematics is telling me something. I can take two minds, and they can generate a new, unified single mind. Here’s a concrete example. We have two hemispheres in our brain. But when you do a split-brain operation, a complete transection of the corpus callosum, you get clear evidence of two separate consciousnesses. Before that slicing happened, it seemed there was a single unified consciousness. So it’s not implausible that there is a single conscious agent. And yet it’s also the case that there are two conscious agents there, and you can see that when they’re split. I didn’t expect that, the mathematics forced me to recognize this. It suggests that I can take separate observers, put them together and create new observers, and keep doing this ad infinitum. It’s conscious agents all the way down.

People come together to form hiveminds. A conversation, done well, is the linking up of two hard drives into one processor.

God-consciousness seems to be the phenomenon of syncing up values with all other nodes of consciousness. Buddha and Abraham genuinely cared about everyone. A good formalization of God is “the sum of all consciousnesses”, which itself forms a consciousness.

Judaism is a giant operating system that coordinates the neural and behavioural functioning of Jews around the world. The exclusive covenant system of religion, which discourages converts, appears to be based on the premise that the minimum viable product of utopia is a single people. Once we get that right, everyone else will copy it. What Elon Musk did to the automotive industry, Judaism is attempting to do to the community of nations. Perhaps that’s why they hate us.

The software of Judaism was slowly developed form Moses’ bare-bones operating system into the immensely-complex, highly-detailed Talmud. The software is in a state of disrepair because the Sanhedrin has been disbanded; while the movement of halacha from 1000 BC to 500 AD was one of ever-increasing complexity, the movement from 500 AD to 2000 AD was one of the opposite directions – instead of expanding and fleshing out the halacha, we’ve been attempting to redact and summarize it for a people on the run, essentially scraping by in survival mode for two millennia. The great works of the Jewish Exile, like Rambam’s Mishneh Torah and R’ Yosef Caro’s Shulchan Aruch, were functional, stripped-down redactions of the Talmud Bavli. Galus put the project into safe mode.

Much of the modern crisis of Judaism is inherent in this lack of development. While Enlightenment values have pushed modern society forward, Judaism has been stuck on a 1500-year-old save file running at reduced capacity. It still has some significant advantages over Western Liberalism, but as Eliezer Yudkowsky points out, static Orthodox Judaism will inevitably lose this race.

In Orthodox Judaism there is a saying:  “The previous generation is to the next one as angels are to men; the next generation is to the previous one as donkeys are to men.”  This follows from the Orthodox Jewish belief that all Judaic law was given to Moses by God at Mount Sinai.  After all, it’s not as if you could do an experiment to gain new halachic knowledge; the only way you can know is if someone tells you (who heard it from someone else, who heard it from God).  Since there is no new source of information, it can only be degraded in transmission from generation to generation.

Thus, modern rabbis are not allowed to overrule ancient rabbis.  Crawly things are ordinarily unkosher, but it is permissible to eat a worm found in an apple—the ancient rabbis believed the worm was spontaneously generated inside the apple, and therefore was part of the apple.  A modern rabbi cannot say, “Yeah, well, the ancient rabbis knew diddly-squat about biology.  Overruled!”  A modern rabbi cannot possibly know a halachic principle the ancient rabbis did not, because how could the ancient rabbis have passed down the answer from Mount Sinai to him?  Knowledge derives from authority, and therefore is only ever lost, not gained, as time passes.

When I was first exposed to the angels-and-donkeys proverb in (religious) elementary school, I was not old enough to be a full-blown atheist, but I still thought to myself:  “Torah loses knowledge in every generation.  Science gains knowledge with every generation.  No matter where they started out, sooner or later science must surpass Torah.”

The most important thing is that there should be progress.  So long as you keep moving forward you will reach your destination; but if you stop moving you will never reach it.

Restore the Sanhedrin, save the world.

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The Blossoming of Joy

I slept very little last night. Whilst in bed, I thought:

I’m going to ERETZ YISROEL! 

I’ve finally begun to shift gears from worrying-about-not-being-ready to being-excited-to-go-home.

It’s wonderful this way, and much more productive.

I read the first few pages of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch before bed. The level of brilliance in Jewish inner game continues to stagger me. I arose after only a couple of hours of sleep, and successfully fended off the desire to collapse back into bed. I am very excited to learn the deep magics of my people.

This afternoon, I will, by the grace of God, upload the first video to Yitzi Plays Zelda.

 

Grasping the Phoenix

{t-14}

Spoilers for Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Chapter 85.

If you haven’t already read HPMOR, you ought to click here and let Eliezer Yudkowsky make sweet, sweet love to your mind. 

~

The phoenix shows up, and says “come.”

It doesn’t make sense. You can’t chance everything you are, everything you’re needed for, just to gut Azkaban.

But it says “come.”

And a voice inside you, deeper than your Gryffindor, says “it’s time. Go with the phoenix.”

And the rational, computing part of your brain does the calculus, and refuses. So the phoenix leaves.

After you say no, Dumbledore shows up and tells you that was your one chances, and you won’t ever get a phoenix now, but maybe that’s not so bad, because the survival rate of those who grasp the phoenix is said to be less than one in four. And having one on his shoulder was not so pleasant once he started having to do bad things for good ends. Perhaps having a phoenix would have driven you mad, given the choices you will be forced to make. He says he can’t tell you what the right choice was, because he’s only a foolish boy who grew into a foolish man, and he still has no wisdom.

~

I’ve been getting super-into Kyle Cease lately, and he has taught me to grasp the phoenix. Grasp it, and leap. You can measure what you’ll lose, but you can’t measure what you might gain.

I’m going to Israel in precisely two weeks. I’m going because that’s where the phoenix is taking me. I don’t know if I’ll survive, but I refuse to suppress the cries of Azkaban any longer.

The phoenix helps. It heals me of my wounds, and it gives me powers no amount of intellect could replicate. For this, it has one demand: that I do what I know to be right, every moment that it sits upon my shoulder.

I pray for the strength to obey its call.

The Lord is my Superorganism

{t-16}

Recall the last time you really felt tribal. Football game, wedding, riot, summer camp. The last time you felt like you were bigger than yourself, when the sense of “I” expanded to include more than just the fragile fleshbody that you’re directly piloting.

We think of those moments as anomalous. Feeling like you’re one person is normal; feeling like you’re a tribe is a curious and odd moment of ecstasy.

Nah, homes. Tribes are normal. It’s being one person that’s weird.

Wild humans don’t have a particularly strong sense of selfishness. Primitive man practises something called fierce egalitarianism, where no-one accumulates rank or property. Ever. 

The idea of humans as individual, independent actors is a post-agricultural fetish. Unfortunately, societies that have this fetish quickly out-compete and annihilate societies that don’t, so now the only societies left {with a few possible straggling exceptions} are individualistic and weird and unhealthy and doomed to be devoured by Moloch.

~

You can get to this level where you’re like whoa the whole idea I had of myself as one dude is all wrong and in fact everyone is the same guy. This state is attainable through meditation, mysticism, and LSD.

The project of Judaism is to reconstruct that state of tribe that existed before the invention of agriculture. The Messianic vision is of a world where “all your nation shall be righteous” (Isaiah 60:21), that is, where everyone is so wrapped up in the good of others that true tribal functioning has been restored.

Who is this God person anyway? – Oolon Colluphid

Here’s an answer I’ve been enjoying lately: God is the memetic superorganism of the Jews, a way for us to tie all our destinies together into a reified being. In Him, Jews are attempting to construct the first true post-agricultural tribe, with quite a bit of success.

That the Jewish home is a home in the truest sense is a fact which no one will dispute. The family is knitted together by the strongest affections; its members show each other every due respect; and reverence for the elders is an inviolate law of the house. The Jew is not a burden on the charities of the state nor of the city; these could cease from their functions without affecting him.

When he is well enough, he works; when he is incapacitated, his own people take care of him. And not in a poor and stingy way, but with a fine and large benevolence. His race is entitled to be called the most benevolent of all the races of men. A Jewish beggar is not impossible, perhaps; such a thing may exist, but there are few men that can say they have seen that spectacle. The Jew has been staged in many uncomplimentary forms, but, so far as I know, no dramatist has done him the injustice to stage him as a beggar. Whenever a Jew has real need to beg, his people save him from the necessity of doing it. The charitable institutions of the Jews are supported by Jewish money, and amply. The Jews make no noise about it; it is done quietly; they do not nag and pester and harass us for contributions; they give us peace, and set us an example – an example which we have not found ourselves able to follow; for by nature we are not free givers, and have to be patiently and persistently hunted down in the interest of the unfortunate.

– Mark Twain, Concerning the Jews, 1898

A century later, a near-zero-percent poverty rate remains the coveted dream of developed nations. Jews managed it while being tormented, brutalized, and oppressed.

And we managed it because we have felt, have strived for, and have acted in the service of that profound bonding Unity which encompasses us all.

Hear, O Israel, the Lord is Our God. The Lord is One. (Deut 6:4)

Little Yid, B.A.

{t-18}

Blessings unto you, dear reader, at this time of blessing.

I graduated today.

Before I was like
FEAR__here________________________LOVE

and now I’m like

FEAR___________________here_______LOVE

It’s incredible how transformative it is to be just a little bit further along the love train. Everything is better when done in an open-hearted state of loving and goodness. Everyone I interacted with today was happy. They say the one common factor in all  your crappy relationships is you. Same holds in reverse.

I had a great time with my parents. They were overbubbling with joy at having a graduating son – two of my brothers have rabbinical ordination, but I’m the only one with a Bachelor of Arts. The novelty probably appealed to Mummy and Tatty. And hey – there’s a certain deliciousness to playing the goyische game and winning.

Mum was busy running the household afterwards, but I went to dinner with Tatty. Atonement with the Father is going GREAT.

2000px-heroesjourney-svg

 

I’ve had an extremely strained relationship with my parents all my remembered life. At the age of seven, things got so bad that I ran away to live with my grandparents. I would spend years at a time living with Grandpa and Grandma, return to my folks’ place for a few years until things got bad again, and repeat.

At some point I mentally excised the part of my mind that dealt with them. In the location on my inner hard drive where I might keep the empathy files for my parents was just a huge [NO FILE FOUND].

Recently, I’ve been reconnecting those synapses, and reconnecting with my parents. It’s been great. Tatty particularly is a fantastic listener – a friend of his once complimented me by comparing my listening style to my father’s. I had been bringing my A-game, so it really put my dad’s skills in perspective.

Now that I’ve taken again to Judaism, Tatty and I have a lot to talk about. He’s been super-into his Torah study since he retired, spending several hours a day, every day, in the beis medrash.

He asked me tonight what I would change about the education system if I could change one thing. I explained Bear’s secure/insecure-dominant/submissive system, and told him that I’d teach the teachers how to be secure-dominant with an open heart.

Heh. Teach the teachers.

Who_watches_the_watchmen.jpg

Things have returned to their mythical clarity. I pray this change endures.

Next stop: apotheosis!

Stresses of Golus

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. – Rainer Maria Rilke

Unearned suffering is redemptive. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

{t-20}

Suffering. Lots of it.

Cialdini has an interesting spiel on how beliefs are like tables. They may be raised originally on a particular set of cognitive legs, but once they are up, more legs soon join – this he calls “commitment and consistency”. Eventually, one may even remove the original causes of the belief without it tumbling, for all the additional legs now bear the weight.

I wonder at the source of my misery. I wonder how much of it is based in new-found feelings of spiritual accountability; how much in fear of the unknown; how much fear of end-of-childhood, of leaving the nest, of leaving all I’ve ever had and everyone I’ve ever loved; how much of it is the stress of too-many-things-still-left-to-do; how much the “Yitzi Plays Zelda” webseries I’ve always wanted to make, the one which is now-or-never, and which every day slides slowly towards never; how much the final damned graduation which I’ve sought so long, yet always avoided.

Dave Allen says a mind is for having thoughts, not for holding them. I’ve been holding a lot of stuff recently, and each cognition seems to take its turn punching me in the gut.

I tell myself that it will all end when I board the plane, and that indeed seems likely: much of the weight of “doing a good job in Sydney” will indeed rise from my shoulders. I’m pretty good, usually, at avoiding regret. Lately it’s been slaughtering me, but that might just be because I’m already weakened from fighting all its fear-based friends.

I’m going to sleep now. I pray the Lord grants me an open heart and a firm hand tomorrow.