Vajra Kleos

“I must conquer death and win immortality. I will build an unspeakably powerful artificial intelligence and merge with it, making obsolete all of these inferior, skin-bound creatures. It will transform me into a being of pure information and I will build giant structures that blot out the stars, and finally realize my destiny of taking over the universe.”

Vajra seeks to bring about the end of the world by creating artificial general intelligence. He has a tunnel-vision, all-or-nothing mind, and steadily works to achieve his goal by making money in the financial markets with his high-speed machine-learning algorithms. He then uses this money to further augment his ability to design computer programs.

His personality is that which comes once every six centuries or so. He is one in kind with people like Muhammad and Genghis Khan. He cannot tell the difference between his own will and that of God, and has boundless courage to force others into acknowledging his greatness. He is callous unto all mankind, and believes only in the importance of his mission.

Unlike Scarlett, who has a basic love for the universe, Vajra is more like Nao in that he doesn’t start from a base of loving existence. He hates existence and will stop at nothing to recreate it. Here he differs from Nao who instead chooses to radically accept existence as a means to undo his dissatisfaction with it. Vajra would rather change the universe than change his own perspective and thus has a much more consequential goal if achieved.

He visualizes becoming integrated into a cosmic Matrioshka brain that grows by AI-guided nano-assemblers that rework the matter of planets into its computing architecture. This will allow him to become united with this newly awakened God. But as he increasingly realizes the implications of what he is doing, he realizes that he is only being the catalyst for this ultimate creation, and comes to increasingly accept this role which still validates the value of his existence. He will be the main character of the universe amidst all mortals.

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Scarlett Akira Smith

Scarlett Akira Smith is half-British, half-Japanese, and is Nao and Vajra’s classmate in the Neo-Tokyo Academy. She downloads theoretical physics directly onto her neural mesh from the money she makes from solving the Millennium Prize Problems and modeling. Her goal is to understand the fundamental workings of reality and become absorbed in knowledge of the greatest possible beauty.

Her personality is one of fierce vanity, high intelligence, and child-like awe but she can also be quite mean. She is attracted to herself and secondly to Nao, but is equally in love with the cosmos and its mysteries. She is a paradox of pettiness and profundity – she cannot stand things that lack aesthetic beauty like some anal art critic, and yet she is concerned with deep questions like discovering the Grand Unification Theory of Physics. She sees no distinction between these concerns and considers beauty/truth to be the relevant variable in all these matters.

 

 

 

 

Nao Nakai

His attitude is defined by this quote spoken by the Buddha:

“Having broken my bonds

like a great bull,

like a great elephant

tearing a rotting vine,

I never again will lie in the womb:

so if you want, rain-god,

go ahead & rain.”

In a world with brain-computer interfaces that allow people to download skills and knowledge directly from the cloud, Nao has opted to pursue a path toward Enlightenment and Nirvana. This radical attempt to remove his human qualities comes from the fact that he realized the Multiverse contains infinite suffering that can never be undone or atoned for. By having his cortex entertained with the processes of creating mindfulness, concentration, and tranquility, there is no time for his mind to be occupied with conceptual truths that cause him suffering.

Although his personality is one of loving-kindness and equanimity, there is something profoundly selfish underlying this interpersonal grace. He is sometimes aware of this ontological self-centeredness and this causes his greatest challenge.

Other challenges include suppressing his sensual lust for Scarlett Akira Smith. Although he seems to be completely equanimous with regard to her, he actually has to demean her in his own mind with the help of additional software that renders her into a disgusting moving corpse whenever she appears in his visual field. However, he often removes this add-on because a part of him still uniquely values her. Her flirtatiousness and honest beauty combined with her bullying is often a cause of awkward tension in their interactions.

He is the only one of the the trinity {Nao, Scarlett, Vajra} who is not outwardly an asshole, but is in a deep sense guilty of a selfishness akin to that of the other two. His relationship with them is complicated. Scarlett comes to love him but dislikes his Buddhism since she is concerned with theoretical physics, mathematics, and the worship of beauty. Vajra truly views him as a loser and initially spends no time thinking about him. Later, when Scarlett Akira begins to grow on Vajra, he views Nao as an enemy.

Nao is secretly tempted to change his ways by both. Scarlett gives him hope in the merely human quest to understand and indulge in truth and profundity, however ultimately unjust. While Vajra’s intense drive to catalyze the Singularity composes a delusion of grandeur that is the antithetical courage to his own courage of acceptance.

Abiogenesis Fun Facts

Life is an information system.

Of photons are wrought the waves of the Earth. Of photons are the machinations of crust-dwelling monsters set in motion.

Oxygen is a toxin that wiped out life for a new form to evolve. It is a currently breathable reset-button.

Darwin’s warm little pond must have been fresh water because cell membranes cannot form in salt water. Early earth was a ball of water, no land. Actually, little specks of land, sporadic volcanic islands. Maybe it rained and a pond formed.

So soon did life arise after the formation of this first ocean. Does that mean that life is common in the galaxy? Or does it mean that we are special and can only lift the burden of our improbability with the many-armed god we call the multiverse?

Asteroids carry organic molecules. Sugars are formed of stardust clouds. It was thought that most carbon came from stellar nucleosynthesis, but now we know that most of it comes from the effects of UV irradiation. Carbon, Hydrogen, Helium, and Oxygen are the four most common elements in the universe, with Carbon being the fourth.

Life, also known as The Rage Against Entropy, needed a boundary to separate from the rest of the matter. What was that boundary?

Current life came from extremophiles and these in turn came from an RNA world, but this RNA world came from some other -NA world.

Our LUCA, our first father, was probably an extremophile. If you look at the base of the phylogeny of life, you’ll see that both in bacteria and archaea, the most ancient clades are extremophiles. If we find a bacteria-like organism under the ocean of some moon, this will lend credence to the idea that LUCA was a creature dependent on hydrothermal vents.

Short recap: The Big Bang, then Gravity, then Light, Andromeda, then Hera’s breast milk, then our solar system and Earth, (then ocean, then life), then oxygen, then photosynthesis, then the now of humans.

The first life might have been a super organism trading its innards amongst itself, without clearly defined boundaries. Only later did it form clear boundaries and gain the ability to move into the salty ocean. [Side note: This is the inspiration for LDL in Neon Genesis Evangelion.]

We know that ribosomes are actually ribozymes with an RNA core. RNA must have auto-catalyzed itself, but because its sugar backbone can be easily cut up (hydrolyzed) it couldn’t have been swimming naked.

As Boltzmann, the Austrian physicist pointed out and his compatriot Erwin Shrodinger later co-signed in his book, What is Life?: life is not competing for energy or limited resources, most life is actually competing for something more profound which is the safety from entropy afforded by some particular solar grace.

If we view life as an information system, it must have started from simplicity – just a slight betrayal of the thermodynamic equilibrium in it’s surroundings while simultaneously having a way to replicate that rebelliousness.

The similarity of blood to salt water is probably related to the fact that our ancestors evolved in salt water. Clay may have been essential to the initial formation of life. These are hypotheses that, while not proven, are taken seriously. One point for Bible thumpers, zero points for those Quranically-oriented. (The Quran claims that God fashioned man from a blood-clot.)

If we blur our eyes a little and look at it from a physicist’s perspective, it is a matter of mathematical probability that a clump of matter shot with constant UV will eventually form pockets that isolate and enclose themselves. Or is it?

Water with a metabolism came first and only then did it seal itself off as current cells do with a phospholipid bilayer. Phospholipid bilayers in the form of micelles form readily anyway.

Cyclic carbon molecules seem to be extremely common in space, so the carbon needed for organic molecules such as the simple CH4 (methane), and all the others, is easily explained as having rained down from space. We know that the Earth was heavily bombarded by meteors along with Mercury, Venus, the Moon, and Mars when a shift occurred in the orbit of Jupiter.

The spark for the initial thermodynamic departure may have been caused by lightning or a radioactive beach with uranium sand.

Then there are pseudo-mysteries like why the amino acids are particularly what they are. The truth is that they could have been different, but as soon as the first were formed – taking into account all causal variables such as the direction of the spin of the Earth, etc. – these first amino acids then had to be favored by natural selection.

There might have been several origins of life, some with different chemistry than others, but only one really took off. We might yet find evidence of the other failed geneses in ancient rocks.

The electrochemical gradient is very “natural” with protons (H+) going out and negatively charged ions going in. On the other hand, the storage of information in sequential packets like RNA and DNA seems like less obvious consequence of matter bouncing around in the primordial soup. So there was probably a step by step evolution by means of natural selection with regard to the formation of RNA and DNA as the hereditary machinery. There must have been a precursor to RNA, but we know that it wasn’t crystals because although these could replicate, they have been shown to not preserve information faithfully from mother to daughters.

People believed that frogs formed from slime, that rats formed from old hay, and that flies spawned from rotting meat. Even Aristotle believed that logs became crocodiles. Pasteur proved all this wrong, and what had been common knowledge was replaced with the idea that life only comes from life – for all living beings, there is an egg. But this created the scientific problem of where the initial life came from. Darwin said it was as unfounded to speculate about this initial origin of life as it was to speculate about the origin of matter. Ironically, the people who believed in abiogenesis were partially correct but for the wrong reasons. At some point, what we call life, must come from basic molecules which we choose to not call life.

Panspermia is the idea that life already existed and that microbes are spreading it through space, maybe even interstellar space. This doesn’t address the problem of abiogenesis but that doesn’t mean panspermia isn’t true. It is possible that life originated in Mars and that a chunk of Mars bearing that life seeded the Earth since early Mars might have been more hospitable to our current postulated conditions for abiogenesis than Hadean Earth.

Craig Venter’s team is reverse engineering life. Starting with a simple cell and subtracting until they can’t anymore. Others are trying to build it from scratch. Venter’s approach has been more successful so far.

Stellar nucleosynthesis created the heavy elements needed for life. As Lawrence Krauss likes to say, “Stars died so you could be born.”

Slitting the throat of Fairness

Currently, our decision-making system is designed somewhat arbitrarily by our genetic inheritance and our trajectory through the contents of spacetime. That means that it is not optimized to execute our most desired decision. In the future, technology might allow us to further redesign our decision-making system. Here, I consider changes to the brain, or other similar mind hardware, that would allow conscious experience to inch closer to what is desired conscious experience by that hardware, and why defining desired as fair is problematic.

Depending on how we engineer our decision making system, we will end up with radically different decisions. So some might argue that it’s important that our decision making system has a certain property – that it produces decisions that fairly represent what the subsystems of the mind would like to decide. This is, of course, made difficult by arrow’s impossibility theorem. But let’s ignore that here, and assume that voting systems are nonetheless considered fair by people.

Consider trying to determine the best decision when faced against a three-headed humanoid lion.
The possible decisions are:
fight bluff run cry suicide
Assume the brain has a constant amount of resources, k, that does not change. So there is no possibility of hooking up the brain to an exobrain in order to increase the brain’s resources.
Someone concerned with giving fair expression to the entirety of decision-making subsystems within the brain could consider several voting systems such as:
Plurality
Two-Round Runoff
Instant Runoff
Borda Count
However, each of these could result in different decisions being made.

Atat that moment when the decision is made, the brain resources “voting” on each choice could look like this:
run > cry > bluff > fight > suicide
With each of the voting systems, a Complete Group Ranking can be produced. If such a ranking endeavor were operating in the reengineered brain instead of it’s normal procedure, it would first determine the group winner using the chosen voting system, then kick them off the ballot (imagine deleting the pattern of neural circuitry that created that decision) and rerank the remaining decisions using that same voting system. This procedure would be repeated until every decision is ranked.

For example, this could happen in the Two-Round Runoff system:
[The values are in a hypothetical standardized unit measuring relevant brain variables (brain matter, or neural pathways, or information processing) devoted to executing each decision]
-round one-  -round two-
fight 18           fight 18
bluff 12          bluff 37 *
run 10
cry 9
suicide 6

*(from 12+10+9+6 if the dormant parts were isolated and given a weighted vote based on their initial resources)

Hence, the person would bluff, waving their improvised twig sword at the muscular beast.

If someone considers the Two-Round Runoff system more fair than the arbitrary current system designed by evolution, they might decide to get this brain-mod to account for their opinion. And yet another person might consider the Borda Count system to be more fair and so modify their brains to operate that way. When any such transhuman person comes across a beast, they would come to a self-declared fair decision that somehow tries to account for all the desires of their dormant subsystems.

However, even if this was fair to all the subsystems, the decision outputted is not actually our true desire. Our true desire is the best possible outcome, one which doesn’t involve our limbs scattered across the mud and our bone marrow tainting the creature’s pristine fangs.

This conclusion may not seem too radical but it actually has fairly shocking implications. It means that in a post-human existence precipitated by AGI, fairness should not be considered. We should not seek to create an AGI that takes a course of action by working up some voting system that magically instills our condition with fairness. It should consider only what is truly good, and that will require a science of consciousness which graphs all the possible functions in mindspace and knows how to formulaically climb the peaks in this territory.

Currently, fairness is just a primitive mindspace-climbing formula we think is granted from our conjured voting systems. But since we can get radically different results depending on what voting system we like, fairness is completely imaginary. And what Western Democracies are doing is actually just preventing totalitarianism, which has proved to be bad historically. Therefore I agree with Churchill in saying that, “Democracy is the worst form of government… except for all the other ones.” That is, until our true philosopher king comes along.

 

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