Continued from here. The Unusual Warning.**
It was about this time I* was struck with a recurrence of a disease pandemic among the scientific chattering classes, which I was necessarily associated with. I am sure I have no character flaw that could have increased my susceptibility. Explanatory conceptual recursivitis is the medical name, a type of epistemological fever, in which the patient cannot decide upon a level of explanation to use for a particular problem. This inevitably undermines associated memes in a Zeitgeist, as viruses infect nearby cells via the intracellular matrix and fluid. Some few of both find their way into a metaphoric lymph duct and attack the foundations of the meaning of self, at their level, biological and conceptual.
In this particular case, “how paranoid was enough?” was one of many equivalent expressions of the problem, all answers turning on the problem of what patterns are real, and how to know. Patterns are the beginning of all knowledge.
I kept checking my facts and logic in all that, of course. Checking your 6 should be the rule in every sphere. Part of that is ‘wtf’ is going on around you. I pay attention, and I think I see patterns in events, everyone does. The problem is, psychologists have many demonstrations of how the mind sees patterns in random data, one of my first accolytes commented on the phenomena. Also, of course, some of the patterns in the data are real things and someone attempting to hide them, make them seem senseless.
Nevertheless, we have no choice. Patterns are co-incidences, purely random, or not. We can’t tell, so must consider them anomalies to be investigated. There is no way to know ahead of time, and there are no patterns seen but what we can see, so searching for and learning about new patterns is the only progress. Most patterns are not real, or the reality can’t be determined without great effort. So the proper level of paranoia is not knowable, there is no way to know if you are properly hedged.
That was the fundamental conundrum. I had worked through the variations on that set of relationships often enough, I couldn’t see a better way. I went to a few services of my chapter of the Dissenting Discordians, the only empirically-validated religion and our latest schism from the prior group of Contrarian Discordians within the 4th Synod. Being with people who saw the world as I do, one where doing anything to provoke opposition is sure to come back to plague you and so must be avoided at all cost of thought, soothed my soul. I had to keep remembering, I had the strategic advantage of not needing to be correct, I was arranging evolution, not planning.
Strategically, evolution is always on your side, if you let it help. Letting evolution help means having very strict priorities, nothing else can matter, you must resist caring for anything but the goal and the means. So I didn’t care about the route, I just wanted to aim social evolution in a direction that took us away from centralization and simultaneously optimized for me, my genes, my family, my community, the essence of my culture. Those are my priorities, precisely what all of the revolutionaries and conquerors in history claimed also. Giving my fellow humans credit or not, we world builders did not have a good record. I would have to watch myself carefully to be sure there could be no misunderstandings. It would be easy to give myself too much credit for intending nothing but good, their own good. And that the methods necessitated by “don’t arouse opposition” made my goals superior to other’s goals. Really.
While recuperating from the acute phase of recursivitis, I happened to read what I interpreted as experimental history. Keeping in mind that a war game is much more shaping of choice than the wording of a questionnaire, nevertheless, that result would mean that our futures had been shaped by the best assessments of the strategic situations. Which could be interpreted as nobody having any idea how channeled our thinking is. Or perhaps an indication of how difficult it is to change games when you realize negative-sum is a losing strategy, when the state machine of history you are are implementing does not allow any future state needing trust. Certainly an indication of a deeply flawed strategy, finding yourself in a TINA situation.
Cynical depression is one of the common sequelae of recursivitis.
I thought this mental state was a particularly enticing version of insanity, as I could believe I understood reality better when in its grip. However, as must any sufferer who expects to interact with normal society, to converse with respectable citizens and exchange information and value with them, I eventually returned to the conventionally conventional frame of everything called sanity.
I had to face up to the reality that I was inside the experiment. At the lowest points in the cynical depression, the Pan-Galactic problem came to mind. It would be so embarrassing to find we had been funded without knowing it by Soros and the CIA for their nefarious reasons.
No kidding, this solo redesign of civilization was a strain. It was hard to know whether and when to doubt yourself. I mean, I told everyone what was going on, everything was right out in the open. I knew we needed intelligence, a step function, an order of magnitude in important mental skills. I knew we needed a way of defusing human’s drive for power, of keeping the size and relative power of organizations small, that centralization and too-large organizations were the evil. So, at the end of the first 10 years of my design efforts, I had the first solution being developed vigorously, and perhaps a partial glimmer on the 2nd.
Tessels had already had an interesting side-effect on our researchers. Each Tessel was offspring of 8 fathers and 8 mothers. These relationships had begun as research collaborations at one level, but also for all of the other normal human reasons. Some had been friends and/or collaborators before. All grew more friendly during their child’s first year. The kids slept a lot, ate a lot, and were big-eyed fun most of the rest of the time, so long as they got enough to eat. They did not put up with being even a little big hungry.
These kids were very nice babies, although emotionally labile. On a normal schedule, the 16 parents often met in various combinations in our research nursery every few days. Parents often split shifts so they could get their other kids taken care of, so different parents often shared a shift. Unless the kid was sick, only one set of parents had to stay there overnight, 4 or 3 sets, 6 or 8 hours each, plenty of people to cover all the shifts without any strain. They all got research done during that first year.
But 2nd year, the kids were crawling and much more demanding of attention. At a year old, the girls were 25 pounds, the boys 29. Our parents were young, but babies of that size are a load, you are always picking them up at arms length for something. These kids were not happy in strollers or carriers, they had to be held. They were too heavy for the smaller mothers.
So we became the first users of the servicebots in nurseries. The manufacturers convinced us that the ‘bots could not hurt the children and could handle all the routine tasks in the nursery, especially cleanups. The first versions ran on batteries that didn’t last long, but the cold-fusion thermionic direct current generator only needed new cells every month or so. From the first, they took over a lot of detail, tho they were hard to deal with, as I described previously. This first year was the worst, I thought the manufacturer’s reputation could never recover, but they kept supporting the product, problems kept getting fixed. Life just have been hell for their engineering team, I thought.
So that 2nd year, it took more parents to keep the kids occupied, fed, etc., even with the ‘bots. The ‘bots were secretaries, they knew how much a kid weighed, measured every time they picked one up. They recorded that, how much they ate, mood, etc more or less continuously, recorded all of the data, films, lab discussions, transcribed them into the lab notes and compiled the various statistics.
The first 10 Tessels were moody, had big mood swings in a day. We monitored a lot of physiological measures like blood sugar via sensors in the ‘bots fingers and chest, it wasn’t anything easy like that. Music sometimes helped, they could revert to babbling happiness in a moment. Other time it just seemed to take a lot of human attention. We noticed that some parents were a lot better at calming the kids than the others.
The end of the 2nd year for the first 10 began to get stormy. These kids couldn’t do what a normal 3-year-old could do and were, based on their play with their phones and tablets, 5 or more in mental age. The electronics kept them occupied more and more, some of the parents started playing checkers, then the ‘bots started doing that and keeping track of play. That was a big change, as the children hadn’t like the ‘bots as well as people. Playing games with the kids must have made the difference.
So the kids were frustrated far beyond normal by the combination of intelligence and slow physical development and large size. They were clumsy, tho they could move fast when they got going. They got hurt a lot, they were large and strong, but had more mass to stop and less skill to stop it before they ran into a door or chair, or just fell down. They fell down a lot.
It was like that the entire 3rd year of our lovely and beloved children’s lives. So much potential, and storm and strife in growing up. They were none shy, the boys were not controlled, all were exuberent and joyful balls of intense life, growing rapidly. These kids had even less sense of ‘enough’ than normal children. The load on the parents grew, we made rooms in the lab for an extra pair to be on call for each Tessel if they were need for more soothing and distraction, being around an attention-demanding child like these was as stressful as being in charge of the emotional mentally ill.
Research had been suffering : these were the people doing the animal work on the continuing search the for the factors driving the Tessel phenomena in brain development. If they didn’t run the experiments, do the surgeries, read the tissue slides or SNP chips or EEG recordings or any of the other myriad measures our researchers were using to find the key variables, we didn’t make progress.
So we ordered more servicebots, and parents didn’t spend quite as much time with the kids every day, the ‘bots were playing dominos by this time and those games started to occupy these older Tessels. But the kids were more problems as they got older. The combination of high intelligence, size and strength, and their low self-control produced broken everything at one time or another. Worse, these kids were beginning to manipulate adults, and we saw that ability increasing quickly as they got older.
We had psychologists of all kinds trying to hover around our Tessels. Developmental scientists are observational scientists, I believe their observations and developmental norms, tho the history of their theories make you think the newest aren’t likely right either. Theories or not, our kids were very advanced of the norms in some purely intellectual ways and quite retarded in other ways, if not actual social intelligence, then in their ability to control their own emotions and make use of their knowledge.
The parents were more involved in another aspect of the Tessels as the children got older and became more individual. The ‘bots recordings of the games in the lab notes they kept had analyzed the kid’s plays, when they clearly grasped different elements of the games.
Suddenly, the games were seen as an important measure of the Tessel’s individual mental development, and we were immersed in discussions of game complexity and how to detect levels of play, which is a non-trivial problem.
The ‘bots explained it to us, and how games can be used to both assess and trains young Tessels, works of theirs in progress. I was very pleased at that, had always believed in games having social utility. Nevertheless, the situation seemed to me to have a lot of similarity to the Pan-Galactic problem.
I had not paid enough attention to the ‘bots. I knew that when we saw individual ‘bots spending time with particular Tessels, but it didn’t seem a high priority. But, ‘bots initiating a program of research and it is suddenly the way to ?what?, why, and how did this happen? Our children were taken with ‘bots that we had not treated well, not well at all!
Deadlines of Tessels maturing, a completely wild variable suddenly loose in my research project, and being personally in the middle of the action, simultaneously. So early in the process. Guiding evolution seems most similar to the rodeo rider guiding the bull.
In psyops, the message is the op.
*Generalissimo Grand Strategy, Intelligence Analysis and Psyops, First Volunteer Panzer Psyops Corp. Cleverly Gently Martial In Spirit
**The unusual warning, if I happen across one. I sometimes think that is all anyone comes to read. Not that many do, of course. However, the following is nearly a blog entirely on its own, worth your while.
***The hand waving proof would be a combination of
- standard computer science algorithmic analysis showing very great complexity in reality and here, which is a lot more computer sciency than mine.
- Nicholas Taleb’s risk analyses, thick-tailed risk distributions are reality, meaning our futures are dominated by the rare, but inevitable because there are so many possible, black swans. Like World Wars, pandemics, economic crashes, tsunamis, … Inevitably, there will be combinations of all of those, our last pandemic here in the US was a consequence of WWI, overlapped the last days.
- control system theory. There is none for open, evolving, complex systems, the kind we live within. A control system for such is a conceptual oxymoron, although some Maxwell’s demon is possibly possible at the level of Kirschner&Gerhard and Wagner’s genome networks. Clearly evolving to evolve stacks the deck, but that isn’t the same as directing evolution. Is human intelligence a level above that evolving to evolve and thus capable of guiding it, or not? I do hope I am proof that we are.
- signal to noise analysis with communication channel theory . We don’t even know what the signals are for bleeding edge research.
- the fact that reality appears to have fractal dimensions, but our analyses normally don’t.
- that nonlinear feedback means the models may only be ‘solved’ for datapoints in the future by iteration. That is the chaos factor that permeates the world.
Evolution is a system with many nonlinear feedbacks. Another way to say that is “path dependent”, meaning there are always futures that cannot be achieved because of some state of the present. Those take discovery, and the important ones governing the future are, of course, harder to find and measure.
Those are all different ways of proving that the reality of the world can’t be modeled, and thus there is no way of predicting the future of anything important with enough certainty to avoid loss of significant amounts of $ per year, average, in a series that is predictable only with fat-tailed distributions with unbounded standard deviations.
One version of this can be viewed as the fractal reality of nature vs our ability to measure.
Another can be viewed as the impossibility of determining cause and effect relationships from correlational data. Except for data produced in experiments, all of the worlds information is historical, this happened then.
Models are not reality, they are a hypothesis, a map of what we think reality might be, from our model’s POV. Divergences between them is called ‘scientific discovery’.
Each of these means the future is unknowable for solid reasons based on their individual arenas of knowledge. Scientific and mathematical arenas where those arguments are solid, the handwaving is mine in saying they must be equivalent because they produce the same answer, a philosophically suspect extrapolation.
All of these cases are easily grasped, all prove we cannot see the future. It somehow escapes people’s notice, but if you cannot predict any future, you cannot possibly navigate to a desired future except by random walk, or by guiding evolution.
We have no choice, we must fly blind. My accolyte wrote rules for that case.
From which, the standard behaviors of betting with what may, or may not be, insightful information giving your bet more probability of winning than the other guy and a world full of superstitious behaviors.