[extropy-chat] Extropic Commandments [was Re: Islamic morons win yet again]

Robert Bradbury robert.bradbury at gmail.com
Fri Sep 29 10:32:45 UTC 2006

On 9/29/06, Olie Lamb <neomorphy at gmail.com> wrote:
> Firstly, I think you're approaching the "unified set of beliefs" thing the
> wrong way by trying to create a set of commandments first.

For those who dislike the term "commandments", "operating principles",
"guidelines", "first laws", etc. are all fine.  The idea mainly is a simple
set of guidelines from which other guidelines can be derived.  As Asimov
showed even the "first laws" can have subtle conflicts in complex

Secondly, the ones you've got suck:

They were quick and dirty set that were easy to write down.  I presumed they
would be something that might produce differences of opinion.

1) Information of greater complexity has greater value than information of
> > lesser complexity.
> >
> This would seem to work directly against Occam's Razor.

So?  Have you looked at particle physics recently?  We could have stopped
with three particles and everything would have been fine IMO (I can hear
several people sputtering...).  Simple doesn't always work.  This gets back
to Anders' point about "complexity" and the problem that we may not have
good definitions for it.  But something can be both complex and simple or
complex and elegant.  I'd lean towards simple elegant complexity.

> 3) Thou shalt seek to maximize the amount of information and its
> > complexity in existence.
> >
> I see this as (1) completely unsupported (2) a great way to promote waste.

If you aren't watching the trends in storage it isn't obvious that we
*aren't* running out of atoms in which to store information (yet).
Obviously when we reach the limits of what can be saved then decisions will
need to be made what to throw away.  One has a subset of this operating now
in terms of not saving what "appears" to have no value.  But value is a very
relative concept.  My cable bill has "value" if it is an essential component
of recreating "me" for simulation purposes.  (Your "value" may vary.)

I don't see anything good about complexity.  There's nothing artful about
> complexity.  There's nothing mystical about complexity.  It's just complex.

See above -- simple elegant complexity.  I'm also not particularly fond of
"mystical" -- if it can't be explained it would seem to be "false" or
involve "lies".  It may be perfectly reasonable to create realities where
"mystical" is the currency of choice.  But then you have to come up with an
explanation (incredible boredom with the basement "reality" of the apparent
universe?) as to why matter and energy should be used for that purpose.
Presumably there isn't any limit on the number of possible soap operas (or
Harry Potter novels) that can be written.

There's many schools of thought that hold that if goal can be achieved by
> simpler methods, this is better/more beautiful than if that same goal can be
> achieved in a more complex manner.  This leads to the theoretical basis of
> "gracefulness" in most physical art.


After all: via arduior est  - there is /always/ a more difficult way.

Also agreed.  This is solved by the optimization of
storage/computational/usefulness at the edges.  When we run out of atoms in
which to store simulations, theories of the universe, simulated universes,
etc. then choices will have to be made.  We already do this with copying
knowledge.  Everyone doesn't learn everything.  So at some point the more
difficult (complex?) or less useful knowledge, theories, etc. will have to
be pruned from the knowledge set.  Hopefully we develop simple ways to do
this rather than develop an ever expanding body of rules (laws) to deal with
the special cases of what to throw away.

4) Thou shalt seek to make such information available to the greatest number
> > of computational units to derive more information from it.
> >
> Heh.  You just advocated (computational) spam.

It has to ultimately have value, otherwise it will get no run time or be
erased.  Right now we have an interesting "problem" that our resources
significantly exceed our ability to use them constructively [1].  How
different the world would be if Linux and Windows came with @Home projects
installed as their "idle" processes.


1. In a pure QaD calculation I'd guess we have ~10^16 Ops and ~50% of the
world global fiber capacity doing nothing useful.
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