Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Challenges I'd like to work on...

A. How to maintain and get some value from a relationship with the 100,000 people I know.

  1. How to move from 1,000 to 10,000 to 100,000 friends/acquaintances in a useful way without going crazy.
  2. How to add, subtract, interact with 100,000 people in a useful way without going crazy.
  3. How to enhance my trust of 100,000 people in a useful way without going crazy.

B. How to teach my own personal assistant to parse and filter the information I get.

  1. How to make the personal assistant learn "on the go" and "follow my changes" throughout my life.
  2. How to make my personal assistant learn from others I trust (see "A" above) in such a way that I can learn from other people's experience and knowledge.
  3. How to make my personal assistant recognize that I also want to learn something, which means that I don't know what it is that I want to know, but know that I don't know everything, and am open to learning new things.

C. How do I build a ranking system for databases like Google rankings, YouTube videos, Internet Archives files, Amazon products, etc. that reflects who I am and what I care about.

  1. How to build this ranking in such a way that I own the ranking, and can keep it private (or share it) as I see fit, because it belongs to me.
  2. How to build this ranking so that I build trust and give greater weight to subsets of all the folks out there publishing their own rankings.
  3. How to build this ranking, recognizing that I don't know everything, and I might want to learn something.

Monday, January 04, 2021

Why my reality is not my best reality...

I love the movie Matrix. There is something so challenging, exciting, frightening, about a world created in my head. What if the only world I ever knew was fed to me through my senses, so that I thought the world fed to me was the "real" world? What if there was someone, something, that was able to control me by controlling my experience of reality?

The idea of having a world all in my own head is not new. In fact, the belief that the world is nothing more than "the world in my head" has existed long before any thoughts that the world might be something "outside my head". Following the chain of evolution backwards, I quickly encounter life forms for which there is no understanding that there is anything "outside", whose actions and behaviors are based on their own sense of reality.

And here, too, even with very early forms of life, there are the beginnings of communication, the sharing of perception, allowing one life to benefit from the experience of another life.

This is an advantage to survival, using the experience communicated by another, to increase the chances of my own survival.

If the world were just in my head, then what am I to think of the world in your head? Accepting the premise that the world in my head is the only, true world, then how am I to respond to your similar claim, that the world in your head is the only, true world? Of course, I could believe that your statements of the world in your head are only a part of the world in my head. And I could believe that every other person's world in their head was, in fact, a part of my world. But this argument sounds strangely similar to the one that "the earth is the center of the universe". How complicated my world becomes, having all these other people in my world believing that the world is really in their heads. Like the complex equations needed to explain the paths of all planets circling the Earth, any world in my head that claims to be responsible for all those worlds in other people's would become rather complex and cumbersome. I'm not saying that it's not possible, but so unlikely (and costly) as to be a useless way to describe what "reality" is, and at best, much more cumbersome and difficult to pass on, and to increase my chances of survival.

If I accept that my perception of the world is not the only perception of the world, I am admitting that there is something, called "reality", that I may not perceive, but which another might perceive, and be able to communicate to me. This line of reasoning depends on three assumptions: that there is something that I cannot perceive, that the something that I cannot perceive is perceived by someone/something else, and that the someone/something else is able to communicate that perception to me in such a way that the information improves my own perceptions.

[Being a statistician, I would add that there is a probability that I can or cannot perceive something, and that there is a probability that another can perceive something, and there is a probability that the other might communicate their perception to me.]

So how am I to make sense of all this? There are lots of folks out there, each with their own perception of reality. Many of them are trying to communicate with me, convinced, as is expected, that their perception of reality is correct. Who am I to believe? What process might I adopt to help me improve my own perception of reality?

Here, I can use a couple assumptions, that though seemingly trivial, have enormous impact:

  1. What I believe should be invariant to time and space, at least locally. And by locally, I mean time over relatively short spans of time (and by short, I tend to mean hundreds of thousands of years), and space over relatively short distances (and by short, I tend to mean hundreds of thousands of light-years). Actually, this might be better understood from the point of view of "who cares". Who cares about understanding "reality" that is millions of years and millions of miles away? Actually, I do, but only because expanding my experience of "reality" to those extremes helps me understand, and helps me survive, here and now. But for purposes of this assumption, I don't need to go to such extremes to have enormous impact. More impactful might be to ask, "Who does NOT believe that reality remains pretty much the same whether I am here, or take a step and stand over there?"
  2. What I believe should be consistent, at least locally. In other words, things should fit together, add up, make "sense", and more importantly, not be contradictory. Like a detective gathering evidence to rebuild the circumstances of a crime, the evidence that I gather to help me understand "reality" must fit some logic, some overarching belief that it is far more likely that there is only one "reality", and my job is to figure out the one that fits the evidence. This is not to say that multiple "realities" might not exist. Again, the exercise of imagining extremes like multiple realities might give me insights that help me understand the particular reality I am experiencing. Here, again, I ask, "Who does NOT believe that they have to play by the same rules? That they can live in a reality that is not subject to the "laws" of this reality?

Both of these assumptions seem to derive from another, more fundamental belief: survival is important. Will I have a better chance of survival if I don't believe in a shared reality? If my reality is the reality I am going to operate in, then will I have better chance of survival? And beyond, my lifetime, how will my reality survive? How would the message of my "reality" be communicated? How would the message survive? So, I do not have an argument against your reality. It is as valid as mine. But I am committed to finding a way to communicate reality to the next generation, to finding a reality that the next generation is willing to pass on to their children. And if that means that I have to give up some of my perceptions, give up some of my "reality" to become acceptable to the next generation, then so be it. Wanting my "reality" to survive means I have to accept that my "reality" is not the only "reality". But what process, by what means, might I be willing to contribute my "reality" to the scrutiny of others? How will it be "fair"? Satisfying? Worthy of my effort? Communicating my "reality" to others, so that they might have some understanding, so that they might be willing to commit to pass on my "reality", takes significant effort. My commitment to the future, the survival of my perception beyond my own lifetime, must be great, if I am to commit so much effort to the effort.

Hypothesis: People who have a hard time imagining the future will have less incentive to contributing their efforts to build a "reality" worth passing on to the next generation.

Note: To the extent that I have genetic programming which automatically provides me with incentives towards the goal of "survival of my children", working towards the survival of my genetic family is easier than working towards the future of humanity. Historically applied strategy: decrease the survival chances of those not in my family (for example through wars or genocide), or convert all of humanity into my family (for example through religions or philosophies of compassion).

Further discussion:

- The role of the "scientific method" in defining a shared "reality"

- The role of "religion" in defining a shared "non-observable" (faith-based) reality

- The observation and value of "survival"

- How might a message have survived the big bang?

- How can any message survive the time horizons of the universe?