Continued from here.
“The case for individual freedom rests chiefly on the recognition of the inevitable ignorance of all of us concerning a great many of the factors on which the achievement of our ends and welfare depends…. Liberty is essential in order to leave room for the unforeseeable and unpredictable.” Frederich A. Hayak : The Constitution of Liberty
Have I mentioned that “produces wealth” is not necessarily the same as “produces money”? A fine example was an unexpected effect of my legitimate and ethical Ponzi scheme, Placental Rejuvenation Technology. That had lead to ‘socially beneficial investment funds” buying placenta storage for newborns whose parents could not otherwise afford the service. They said it was a charity, and sold big donors and foundations on the idea as a way to fund the research, faster development of cures. I saw self-interest in every action of the entire Status Quo, that there was nothing to prevent them charging what the market would bear for access to the cells, so this was obviously a bet that standard medical policies would do that. Or worse, that people would pay any amount to save their child, above and beyond what insurance would pay.
We had stipulated in our contract the insurer’s ownership of the stored cells, and full access to any cells produced by any of our technologies at our cost, as judged by independent auditors. That is what allowed these investment funds to operate, and produced the surge in sales. These sales and the associated Ponzi PR made Placental Rejuvenation and the associated R&D foundation reach the $100M/year income level in the 2nd year and to begin to accumulate a nest egg so we could keep it going at that level and also allowed a lower price. It was a Distributed Autonomous Organization except there were people involved writing contracts, etc. I didn’t think the software had been tested nearly enough to go full-software DAO. I was right.
However, the R&D foundation was run by the people insured, or in this case the parents of the babies, not the owners of the insurance. We had written that as part of the original contracts as a way of keeping the research effort from being hijacked by special interests. These new investors couldn’t both be seen as benevolent and also pressure us to change, tho they made an attempt in initial discussions.
The insured parents did take an interest, this turned out to be a general medical education forum as well as being devoted to stem cell therapy and technologies of producing the many varieties, growing and storing, and administering them for particular therapies. We had very lively discussion forums on every individual experiment, the principle researchers, postdocs, grad students and labtechs were part of them, as were people interested in particular lines of research.
The actual investors, of course, still had a financial interest in the outcomes of our researches, as we were obliged to deliver the cells to them when they had authorization from the owner of the cells. The R&D couldn’t ignore them, or allow them to become opposition, they had skin in the game. Those interests favored lines of research that would enhance treatments of more common diseases, quick returns, much like the standard NIH priorities. Worse, they proposed using ‘peer review’ to analyze grants to rank their probable scientific impact, which was not working. Really, not working, and for such a variety of multiple reasons.
The general discussion groups threshed out the different interests of the ‘protection racket’ investors (one view of them) vs the “out for #1′ (one view of them) individuals. There were a lot of skins in these games, our protectees and benevolent racketeers gaming insurance companies and having the power of life and death over the individuals they insured, had to accommodate the researchers and the reality of needing to decide how to spread research largess around sufficiently to defuse any disapprovers with skin in the game.
Further, research targeted at those near-term probable wins was already being done by NIH and other organizations around the world, it would not be a good use of our resources. We needed to fund enough ‘wild hypothesis’ work to increase the probability of more results providing entirely new lines of research. More randomness, the ‘simulated annealing‘ that allowed finding new local optima.
That, of course, had to be balance against immediate needs of insured patients, and decisions about whether to add funds to a program started and funded by NIH or other groups in order to speed them up. It didn’t take many of those collaborations to defuse any sense of competition between us.
Another way we made best use of our R&D dollars is to lower overhead. NIH and other funding agencies pay a minimum of 20% and a maximum of 100% of the money devoted to the research for the administrative costs of the researcher’s institution. That is in addition to NIH’s overhead in dispersing grant money. Both have been increasing over the years. We ran all of this as ‘open administration’, with a few FT employees of the R&D foundation for continuity, and the parent’s themselves organizing the administration of expenditures. Those parents included every class and skill by this time, so they could rent a bare warehouse and have it set up as a research lab for a set of projects using local resources faster and cheaper than negotiating with an established research institution. The books were open, with the usual rewards for people who detected problems.
Our parents of the insured must have done OK, those projects moved ideas from research through therapy faster than medicine had ever before managed**, only possible because there were so many eyes on everything, only possible because of open lab books and open trials and associated discussion threads. Priorities were quite often a new medical case, in those early days it was a childhood disease, and community sentiment would focus research on it for a while. That made the process so fast, in fact, that they sometimes saved the initial victim of a disease that kicked off the research that ultimately saved them. As I anticipated, we got a lot of good publicity in those days, we were on the path to storing placentas for all of the babies of the world.
Have I mentioned that “Intelligence is a physical process that tries to resist confinement, to maximize future freedom of action? (Another ultimate rationalization, an alert mind finds them everywhere. Some things are easy to be right about.) While I liked the line of thought which had produced another class of convolutions for NNs, Wissner-Gross hadn’t considered more than one intelligence in his systems, so I thought it might not be the entire answer to AI questions. That was, after all, the problem we were dealing with : whose freedom of action?
I possibly appeared to have been obsessed in these times by the technologies of Tessels and AIs. Tessels were an elegant biological solution to several of my problems, not just a step function in human intelligence, tho I couldn’t know that yet as they were only 7 years old.
The Tessels as individuals were a pretty mixed bag. All were generally quite bright, all had a few high-intensity modes in different aspects of intellect and emotions, and those cycled irregularly, the psychologists and neurologists said that was linked to the screwed up diurnal cycles of 8 mixed brains. The kids were not self-controlled, given the first 10 were now all 6.5 – 7 years old The psychologists estimated 18 months average behind normal in that aspect of development.
All the Tessels had siblings in that now-modern combination of 8 normals comprising 1 Tessel, making them each 1/8th brother or sister with the Tessel. All brothers or sisters, of course, mixing male and female into one mosaic was known to cause problems.
They had been playing together since toddlers, got along about as well as you could expect. Our psychologists didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, except the Tessel’s emotional immaturity combined with their intellectual superiority and larger stronger bodies with poorer coordination made them manipulative tyrants at a young age, and early separated the 8 1/8th siblings into pro- and anti-Tessel factions.
We had been anguishing over the Tessel’s mix of strengths and weaknesses relative to normals, and how we were going to handle the problem. Different in much + very superior in intellect + low self control + slower motor development relative to normals was a pattern that was not going to produce an average human. If Tessels continued to diverge from normal in lower self control, we were going to have a problem if we didn’t provide an alternative for them and families to use. I saw it as a bonding issue.
There was a certain tension in those families as a result. I was reminded of the dynamics in courts everywhere involving half-brothers and factions. Surely modern sociology and psychology has methods to prevent factions, to build serious teams?
Of course it did, but all of it a business or new age or academic gloss on exactly what all military newbies learned at the hands of drill instructors: if you control approval and goals, you can make a team. What do you think our genes and cultures have been doing for us in the last few million years? That technology of forming teams had appropriated for modern institutional use what used to be the influence of the environment, as a small band of brothers and cousins with wives and children were kept in cooperation by its actions: it took concentrated, long-term cooperation to live in a world of large carnivores that viewed you as a light snack, to compete with them for game and carcasses, to endure periodic droughts and climate shifts.
So we were suddenly as interested in teams as I was in AIs. Both were part of the problem and so had to be part of the answer.
All our thinking resulted from the parents having been presented with Tessel’s new problems, discussing it with the other parents as they shared the care of Tessels and their siblings. Their decisions lead the transition from pre-school fun in the lab setting to accomplishing particular goals. Our parents were scientists, not educators, and their discussions about goals and process produced what they called “reality-based education”.
As researchers, learning was part of life, not something confined to one phase of life. The reality is that minds are very limited compared to infinite reality, no single mind could do everything, physical limits underlie all. Knowledge is infinite, it is not possible to know what is important ahead of time, there can be no ‘common core’ of information that everyone needs to know, contrary to educational elites who otherwise cannot compare us.
The normal approach trains everyone in basic skills of reading, writing and ‘rithmatic and general information, then understand who is interested and is good at what. But the process that does that training has produced failure and psychological upset along the way for most, thus 50% of students drop out before finishing high school. That system-failure result is because the entire approach of public school systems is very, very wrong for the normal personality and behavioral ranges of normal children, and would be a disaster for a Tessel with their different developmental patterns.
Further, the standard approach to education emphasizes the absorption and replay of prior knowledge and culture, not its production. People who change the world are not passive consumers. People who contribute art and music and science to the world were what we were aiming for.
My thoughts about ‘back to reality’ being important in bringing up superbeings, the necessity to ground them in humanity were part of the mix. We could take high intellect for granted with these children, their SAT scores would be high whatever we did, so long as we didn’t deprive their minds nor kill their interests. What we could not take for granted was their humanity : their identification with the rest of us, of social cues and the need for approval from normals as a social control. Thus, I emphasized skills and experiences in a group, not training for academic skills. There is far more to intellect in the service of civilization than merely academic skills. Teamwork, for instance.
But, of course, we expected all of our children, normals and Tessels, to learn to read, do arithmetic, and be able to reason and write. We expected, however, that those would be learned as a by-product, not incidental but also not the main point, of other goals. In fact, all of the siblings had learned to read and write, tho Tessel’s fine motor skills lagged their siblings. They had learned arithmetic beyond their ages, part of the servicebot’s games.
The other thing we did was connect the Tessels and normals via their shared language. Learning multiple languages was an excellent way of building good brains. Because our sets of parents were researchers, who tend to be an international group, and to speak a couple of languages at home, the Tessels had been exposed to at least 4 languages in each set of parents, and their siblings the same, tho not any one all 4 languages, usually just 1 in addition to English. That shared channel of communications was important in bonding individual siblings to the Tessel, and had been one of dimensions dividing Tessels from the normals early on, the normals who shared a private language tended to ally with the Tessels.
But Tessels learned languages easily. In fact, they had a much lengthened period for learning languages as if a native compared to normal humans, and often had learned 6 or 8 by age 30, the result of a daily few minutes work on a new language they had decided could be useful in their business or other interests. Tessels had a lot of interests and were capable of seeing patterns across them.
But also, children learn languages easily, so every child had been picking up all of the parent’s languages, the same as they normally do with nannies. It didn’t take much effort to make every group of Tessel and siblings use them all. Thus, every team member was developing a private mix of words and phrases. Because they all had one or more Chinese-speaking sets of parents, a language that uses idioms extensively, that was an easy way of forming a private language, tho most of their idioms mixed languages. Perfect, I thought, sharing the foundations of thought was as tight a bond as you can make.
We did everything else, too, the kids had plenty of play time, individually and in various subgroups, but we tried to keep them all together as much as possible. Music is another means of building good brains, so singing, drums and dance, art, hikes in the woods, games and cartoons and movies. Most of the parents had pets, the first sets of parents had garden plots and rabbit hutches. We made our children farmers from early on, as there is nothing like that reality to define your values. I had Heinlein’s list of things defining a competent person, all the kids were getting early exposure in the labs, home workshops and at the local maker facilities. All of the parents began hobbies that they could use to expose the kids to new materials, tools and things to be created.
General s prescriptions included many kinds of competitions against the other teams. 9 kids was a good size for a team, nearly optimal in fact. The first 10 groups of siblings were 2 years ahead of the next, much larger, cohort, but were all in our facilities so we had lively competition between. Soccer was one of the best team sports, as it allowed meaningful teamwork with the combination of sizes and skills. The Tessel’s size and reach as a goalie made up for their awkwardness, and then later when their speed and size allowed them to disrupt many advances of opposing teams.
We designed their lives to build teams of brothers or sisters with good values and able to take on the world, to be mensches as an individual, and as a group. We did their ‘formal’ education as 3-person units in front of Self Organized Learning Environments. Our rule was different groups every week. That gave them a good sense of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We sort-of guided them by lists of questions they could choose, and gentle nudging if they went too far from reality.
Otherwise, it was self-directed learning : So they judged each other’s answers and chose questions that they would all answer in a race for an answer and best answer. Adults were sometimes asked their opinions, to break ties, to give suggestions on improvements.
That mix of Tessel and normal worked for a while, and then the disparities of minds were too great. Same kind of problem with disparities in the physical games, Tessels had a handicap, just different directions with different games. Kids knew about average scores. With a bit of coaching, they adopted the idea of handicaps. They were still young, so this evolved over the next few years but from the point they understood that, their attention was focused on improvement and performance, not ‘who is smarter or better?’ We wanted that understanding, that there is always someone in every skill smarter or better, bigger or stronger, but everyone has bad days and can lose to someone more dedicated, scrappier, more focused, with more good days. Pretty much like life.
Part of reality is understanding what was going on and using it to guide your life. These kids had service bots handling all the low-end data collection, so early learned to start asking questions and thinking what the data meant. That was part of their environment, and over time they used it better and better, learned how to get ahead of other teams in intellectual games, how to optimize their own teamwork, train their own minds.
Servicebots were an interesting piece of this : they began laying out team statistics and progress, analyzing who was good at what. The kids early on developed skill at playing as a team.
The goal was exposure to many different realities and practical training in skills, to begin building a wide variety of mental models, points of view. Those were supplemented and enhanced by questions in SOLEs and the servicebot’s use of games to train and analyze at the same time, Then, the the questions and games built on previous knowledge and skills, so we integrated their thinking and their experiences in solving puzzles, answering questions in the 3×3 pairings and games.
Further, we wanted open personalities, creativity rather than test scores, on the understanding that a generally-educated person, someone with a wide set of povs, can learn enough of most fields with a year or so of work to begin learning by doing, so we didn’t do tests, at least if we ignored the problem of test vs training in games. Thus, the emphasis was on as many experiences producing as many points of view, different ways of grasping reality, as we could manage.
There were still questions in my mind. Were the ‘bots as positive an influence as everyone seemed to think? My growing grasp of AI said they couldn’t be so long as they didn’t share human understandings, human values. I thought extracting values from writings and videos wasn’t as easy as Brand seemed to think. Humans learned all kinds of values from all of that, every variety of every religion and political party interpreted their fundamental texts differently.
AI had not yet achieved human reasoning, the reason our servicebots were so slow to generalize. They communicated poorly, there were still many misunderstanding, although we noticed the children didn’t seem to have those problems. Simpler language? Something else?
So I went back to the problem of AIs, why that research had not done better, given the very many promises over so many years. Cognitive science finally told me why : they didn’t have bodies, and thus could not share enough concepts for efficient communication. How to fix that?
And what was non-embodied cognition doing to our children, who did have bodies, and were the only humans to have bridged the gap?
As a strategist, I knew that when problems multiply faster than you can handle them, you are failing. We could have no confidence that any of our attempts to integrate Tessels with humans would ultimately work, and now had a few 1000 being produced around the world. So that would be a continuing source of new problems, and now I had the same with what promised to be an alien species if I couldn’t fix the issues. A new species our children were the most-effective interface to.
I hate deadlines, especially as the stack of books I had to read to deal with any element of these problems was growing.
In psyops, the message is the op.
*Generalissimo Grand Strategy, Intelligence Analysis and Psyops, First Volunteer Panzer Psyops Corp. Cleverly Gently Martial In Spirit
**As usual, I find strong confirmation for things that seem like they should work from first principles. And, of course, it is just one of the millions of opinions about things like that available to anyone on the net, so cherrypicking, at least. However innocently the link came to my attention, my mind made the connection, not anything out there in reality.