The failure mode of abundance

Wednesday, 07 June, Year 9 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

Let's consider the matter very abstractly -- we will be careful not to import unnecessary presumptions in our reasoning and in exchange we'll obtain thoughts that stay true throughout the whole domain we've not made assumptions about. Such is the advantage of general reasoning!i

I. Suppose an assemblage of agents (entities which can act on the basis of internal mechanisms) and levers (entities which act on the basis of external stimulation only) in a Petri dish somewhere. Depending on the relative proportion of agents to levers you can end up with perfectly useless agents (not to mention socialism, the true and only idiology of the uselessly stupid) brewing right there in your dish!

It works on the basis of "lived experience", which is to say that presuming the agents are capable of desiring something or undesiring something else and are also capable of saving and reviewing later some sort of internal state, then they'll at some point start counting.

Even should be the case that all the levers are not connected to anything in particular, and desired outcomes happen precisely fifty percent of the time just like undesired outcomes, if the content of the Petri dish is mostly agents, then necessarily most of the interactions of agents will be with other agents, rather than with levers.

Consequently, they will conclude that the avoidance of the undesirable, the manifestation of the undesirable, the elusion of the desirable, and the manifestation of the desirable are all rather principally related to interactions with other agents and not so much related to interactions with levers.

That's all it takes, your Petri dish will contain a lot of marketeers, politicians, wanna-be cult leaders, rappers, dudes with "a personal brand" trying "to get it out there" and "make it in dis Petri dish game" just because it contained mostly agents in the first place. In other words -- an abundance of agents in the dish will produce stupidity all of itself!

Had there been mostly levers the dish would have contained mostly scientists and engineers -- also irrespective of whether the damned levers even did anything in the first place, that's not part of the agent counting structure. All the dumb paramecium can figure out on its own is that hey, yesterday as I was talking to Moe lightning struck, so clearly Moe is the lighning god. Had he been fiddling with an unconnected light switch at the same time, he'd be thinking the light switch produces lighning instead. Such is the power of correlation without causation, 100% of what powers the "science" of sociology, anthropology, philosophy, economics, psychology etc pantsuited idiotarians to this very day!ii

II. Suppose your Petri dish is an actual Petri dish, like the ones they have in the labs, not an unactual Petri dish where undesirable shit happens and lightning somehow strikes. In this proper Petri dish like they have in the labs food will be abundant and stressors rare, which is to say most desirables will "manifest" (in the sense you put them there) and most undesirables "will be successfully avoided", chiefly through the mechanism of your omitting their addition.

The agents will sooner or later notice that whether they exert themselves or not, they can still eat, and don't die all that often from avoidable causes either! And so they'll stop agenting altogether, because if the deal is, wake up at 6:15 in the morning, every morning, and push a ton of mud up a steep incline until nightfall for a fifteen dollar yearly income, or else stay in bed or do whatever the fuck you please (which strangely reduces to "watching TViii while flowing off the couch with potato chips on the corner of the intake manifold" for some inexplicable reason) for a twelve dollar yearly income, it ain't that hard for the average agent to figure out pushing mud uphill just isn't his game.

And so there you have it, the biinfecta : abundance of people produces stupidity -- all by itself!!! -- and abundance of food / world peace produces laziness. Also all by itself.

This is the whole story, really, people organize their activity to "get what they want" and "avoid senseless death, pain and suffering". If they're not successful at this, they keep trying. If they are successful at it... they stop trying. Once they stop trying it stops working, and that's that, "inexplicably" the barbaric Christians conquer the civilised lands of the Arabs. Or vice-versa, depending what exact time it is.

I suppose you expect I close with an admonition, a Psalm, something. Sadly there ain't no psalms that are gonna save you, there's just too many of you and you have it altogether too well. The only way out of it you won't like, which is famously what the camel said at the needle eye crossing also.

See you on the other side, I guess ?

  1. And to think millitant idiots propose the very converse, "oh, you are not making any unwarranted assumptions have no lived experience therefore could never understand. Bitch, I can understand specifically because I don't expect my personal experience to play the role of using the noggin.

    But such is the way of the millitant idiots, they're not satisfied with being dumber than a box of rocks themselves -- they aim to get you to be just as dumb as they are. Easier that way! []

  2. You do believe this, yes ? That careful observation of "just the facts" dutifully jotted down is the one and only true basis of all science, and with it engineering, truth and religious fervor, right ? Well then. Hurray for positivism, I guess ? []
  3. Oh wait, it wouldn't be simply TV anymore, it'd be netflix now, right ? And you believe "communication technologies" have improved something, don't you ?

    The only thing the Internet has improved is the outcome of the coming culling : "everyone is interconnected" just means the tolerance for the continuance of the life on land is that much narrower. Millions of people could happily inhabit the land pre reddit, and nobody'd have been bothered, but now that you have wikipedia that figure is maybe as high as the low thousands. This is how it works, nuclear winter wasn't really much of a threat to the human race before "the information superhighway" showed up to make it a necessity.

    And if you're curious : the discovery of ironworking itself didn't drive the largest migration in human history, displacing iron age tribes from the golden crescent all the way to Ireland directly. No, it was indirectly, through the improved plowing that it allowed finally being capable of land exhaustion, which created the need of diverting some of that pig iron from making more plows to making a few swords.

    The only thing technology does is that it reduces the tolerable carrying capacity of the Petri dish. The better the technology, the fewer actual physical agents needed to create a supermajority of agents and drive the failure mode of agent abundance. That's all technology ever does. []

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12 Responses

  1. See the "learning tournament" thread in the logs -- there was an interesting Axelrod-style robo-game specifically featuring "agents and levers" and their wolf/hare equilibria. ( FTR - I played, didn't win )

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Wednesday, 7 June 2017

    How can you even win such a thing ?

  3. By consistently wiping the floor with the losers, how else. ( Same way "tit for tat" won Axelrod's thing )

  4. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Wednesday, 7 June 2017

    But I don't comprehend what exactly would constitute a winning criteria. What, having more headcount in your dish than in the other dish ? Mmmkay. Maximal headcount can't possibly be a policy goal.

  5. IIRC it was a pairwise "cage match" of each-vs-each strategy. If curious -- read the rules, they are still posted somewhere.

  6. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Wednesday, 7 June 2017

    So who won, the red skins or the cowboys ?


  8. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Wednesday, 7 June 2017

    The problem I see right off is the specification of the environment.

    The simulated environment for our tournament was a ‘multi-armed bandit’ (18), analogous to the ‘one-armed bandit’ slot machine but with multiple ‘arms’. In the tournament, the bandit had 100 arms, each representing a different behavior, and each with a distinct payoff drawn independently from an exponential distribution.

    The bias in favour of "social learning" bullshit is screamingly obvious, not that it's surprising from someone who "publishes" his research online. Here's an idea : suppose the number of arms were a) not known in advance and most importantly they were not always presented in the same god damned slots to all comers. Yes n-armed bandit may have arm 2, but it won't appear in slot fucking #2, conveniently labeled so as to save ~100% of the fucking cost of social "learning", which is to say global namespace.

    The "tournament" as presented is no more than an exercise in taking a winding (and perhaps pictoresque, especially if you're new at this) path from the author's pet "truths" back to the author's own pet "truths".

  9. Chess board doesn't much resemble battlefield from actual life either, sadly.

    And -- I don't doubt that you could conceive of a more interesting tourney than the EU ( yes, the subj was an official project thereof! believe or not ). I'd play.

  10. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Wednesday, 7 June 2017

    Challenge accepted. Because somehow the full blown item that's Eulora isn't good, gotta make schematics on napkins as part of life in the Petri dish or somesuch.

  11. I don't have a Eulora-sized hole in my calendar, sadly.

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