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My half-finished thoughts


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#101
funkervogt

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I just spent four hours playing a computer game today. It was fun. Gaming trends:

 

1) The cost-effectiveness of gaming as a means of entertainment keeps going up. The game I played today cost about $20, but has probably provided me with 100 hours of entertainment so far. That's extremely cheap. 

 

2) Games are getting more realistic to the senses. 

 

3) Games are getting more customizable and immersive. 

 

Put the trends together, and the endpoint is free FIVR where you have adventures and pleasures beyond your imagination. 



#102
funkervogt

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Imagine the greatest operatic performances of history scanned and remastered into a format you could experience in lifelike virtual reality. 

 

https://youtu.be/K2snTkaD64U



#103
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One advantage of living your life as a brain floating in a jar, connected to The Matrix, is that you'll never be at risk of dying in a transportation-related accident. If you needed to do something in the real world, you would assume control over a robot and would remotely control it. If it died in a car accident or something, you wouldn't be hurt. 

 

AGIs will probably also go to pains to store their electronic minds in safe places and to remotely interact with the world. 



#104
Yuli Ban

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Hijacking your threat to goad you into a response building off of this one:

I look forward to machines someday copying the styles of great artists, musicians, and poets of the past so we can have things like new Beethoven symphonies.


Go a step further than that. Imagine combining media synthesizing technologies to generate a symphony that literally never ends. Sort of like DADAbots, but with much more cohesiveness.

 

Let's take it about ten steps further than even that

 

Imagine a movie. Maybe Die Hard. Something like that: Die Hard Forever. It's a movie that literally never ends. You are now basically following John McClane's daily life. It doesn't matter if you come back 5 months later; the movie is still going on. There might be literally 2,000 things he's done in that time; basically gone to every small town in the world. But there'll almost be more coming. There might be more bullets fired than the entirety of World War 2; more explosions than an atomic bomb; more money lost than entire first-world nations... if it was actually made by Hollywood. But this is actually all computer-generated & AI-directed, so it only costs as much as the electricity to power the computer itself.

And that's not even including interactivity. There might be varying degrees of it. Some are basically Second Life-style storylines that all but require someone (perhaps even millions of people) to continue, while others might prompt a viewer ever now and again to choose whether or not to wrap up a story (perhaps even in that very moment, such as through the main character dying of a brain aneurysm out of nowhere or everyone just deciding to make up) while others have no interactivity whatsoever. 

Creators might come up with a bunch of characters, feed them into an algorithm, and set them down to live in a fictional world you can pop in to view at any time, sort of like moe slice of life anime on steroids.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#105
funkervogt

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I've written before that I think we're headed for something like a Ready Player One future where most humans like us are unemployable and spend most of their time in FIVR. It's occurred to me that the VR medium would let human players in such an environment act as content producers, and not just as content consumers. For example, if you spent most of your time playing Die Hard Forever, you would be set as a single character with a specific back story along with strengths and weaknesses, and you would have to stay in character and interact with other players as such. You being a unique person, your presence would add something unique to the virtual world. You could also sell ideas like mini-quests to the people or AGIs in charge of the game. 

 

It's funny because such a mechanism would duplicate the economy of the "real world"--most participants would just be consumers, wouldn't make any in-game income, and would merely subsist off the equivalent of UBI, which was the privilege of playing the game even though doing so gobbled up electricity. A minority of players would make in-game income by using some of their time to come up with ideas or to sacrifice some of their personal time so that other players might have fun. And there would be a tinier minority of "super producer" players who would become rich in-game thanks to their extraordinary contributions. 



#106
Yuli Ban

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^ While true in the slightly longer term, I'm thinking more of what might be possible through film media in the next 10 years. Sort of like if you went onto YouTube, searched "Die Hard Forever," and saw a video that had no actual run time, perhaps with compilation videos of the "best bits" or "the past 24 hours of John McClane's life" every day for the past 5 months. You might click onto the original video and see the movie playing out, then set it on in the background while you go to work, and 8 hours later when you come back, it's still playing. Not a new movie. Not a rerun. Not after being rewound. It's the same storyline still going on and being generated. Depending on how well it understands things, it'll know not to bring back Hans Gruber due to him being dead for decades (in more ways than one) (unless there's some cybernetic resurrection plotline generated, which is entirely possible in a never-ending movie).

 

I say "ten years," but it might be even sooner than that for ideas that don't require such theatricality. Imagine like an "indie movie" generator, where the plot of everything is purely saccharine and slice of life and you're just following two Millennial-looking lovebirds from San Francisco around the world, endlessly. Two people who don't exist except in that "movie" (would it even be a movie by that point)? Less need for cinematic shots or creative angles means it's easier for a neural network to convincingly pull off. There'd be hiccups in many places. Maybe a scene doesn't generate well. Maybe the script goes off the walls at certain points and there's 20 minutes of characters just repeating the same string of words over and over again. Maybe the text-to-speech program doesn't enunciate things properly.

Point is, if we manage to get human image synthesis down this year (and it's looking like we will), this might be feasible in closer to 3 to 5 years. In 2025, it ought to be possible to go online and view a never-ending movie at any time. Would make for a good proper sequel to The Never-ending Story now that I think about it. 

And if it's possible for live action movies, it might also be possible for animated ones, at least to an extent.

 

See, animation is actually trickier than live action. We have trillions, perhaps quadrillions of data references for live action media: that is, photographs and every frame of a video of a person, so it's easy for a neural network to figure out what a realistic human looks like, how we behave, and how we react to our environment via physics. You probably aren't going to see a person run off of a cliff, look down, and then fall unless it's a live action piece parodying cartoons.

With animation, that model has to also understand exaggeration and an entirely different set of physics across fewer references. Animation often has a lot of stylization and creativity behind it. It'll still work undoubtedly because it already does, but there's a higher chance of the network needing to model something novel. So a never-ending episode of an otherwise 22-minute cartoon will have to account for a lot of things. An AI generating a dreamlike never-ending Looney Tunes "short" would have to account for a lot of slapstick that already borders on the dreamlike. A never-ending Family Guy episode would have to understand to generate cutaway gags that only tangentially relate to what's going on. And so on. I can see experiments very soon in that regard with indie toons that are created by individuals, but it'll take a while for AI to understand that well.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#107
funkervogt

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One handicap to doing "ancestor simulations" to understand past events better is that it would be unethical to create "virtual humans" who would suffer and die inside a computer. But here's a possible solution: have AIs and posthumans voluntarily stand-in for the virtual humans in the simulations. 

 

Here's how it would work: Assume that the year is 2219, and not 2019. You aren't actually "you"--you are either a posthuman lying in a Matrix pod or an AGI. In either case, you agreed to have your memories temporarily blocked and your personality temporarily altered so you could live a lifetime as your current "human" self inside a computer simulation of Earth, circa 2019. After careful thought, you agreed to bear the burden of suffering for one human lifetime, for the sake of supporting a realistic ancestor simulation, and because you thought the experience of being "human" would enrich your understanding of the universe and make you more grateful for what you have. After your virtual human character dies in the simulation, you will be revived in the real world of 2219, and have your old memories and personality traits restored. However, you will also retain the qualities of the virtual human you once were. 

 

This would solve the "suffering" problem since no virtual humans would need to be created. Only posthumans and AGIs who had the strength of character and selflessness to endure one human lifetime of suffering would be in the simulation. 

Here's an extension to this scenario:

 

Assume that the year is 2219, you are either a posthuman lying in a Matrix pod or an AGI, and you know you have an indefinite lifespan. You could easily live for 1 billion years. The thought of spending about 80 years as a simulated ancestor, even if that person's life were especially rife with suffering and pain, is inconsequential to you since it will only represent 0.00000008% of your lifetime. The long-term ill consequences of submitting yourself to one human's lifetime of pain vanish to almost nothing, and so the benefits of personal enrichment and filling in the historical record become worth it to you.  

 

I just realized that, if you were a posthuman in the year 2219, you wouldn't need to spend 80 years in virtual reality to simulate 80 years of a human's life around 2019. You could increase the speed of the virtual reality simulation, allowing yourself to experience 80 years of simulated life in the space of, say, eight years in the real world. That means you would get into the Matrix pod in 2219 and get out in 2227. However, during the computer simulation, time wouldn't seem to pass at a faster rate, and you'd live 80 years like one of us today, with time passing at a seemingly normal rate from your perspective. 

 

If you were truly posthuman, then your mental architecture should allow for something like this. 



#108
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One good thing about a futuristic panopticon / social credit system is that fraudulent people won't be able to pull their tricks on others, and credentialism will disappear. If there were a frequently updated, central database that pooled data on every human, then the strengths, weaknesses, skills, and knowledge of each person could be known with high accuracy. Incompetent people who went to the Ivy Leagues thanks to legacy admissions wouldn't be able to automatically command respect from other people, and the assumption that they were smart would vanish once anyone looked at their personal profiles. 

 

Also, while IQ scores might be included in every person's profile, it would only be one variable, and not the most important one. Other attributes like work ethic, diligence, cooperativeness, mental health, and specific skills would be known, and could easily outweigh the importance of IQ if people were thinking of hiring or befriending the person. 



#109
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Fully automated product supply chains will help us manage pandemics in the future. People could stay isolated in their homes and order all the food and supplies they needed. From farm or factory to every point in the transportation chain, no human hands would touch any of the products, so humans could be sure that the packages delivered to their doorsteps were clean. 

 

Staying inside one's house for long periods will also be more bearable in the future thanks to telework and VR gaming.  



#110
funkervogt

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Imagine that intelligent machines control and populate the Earth. Humans are no longer a factor. In such a scenario, we can expect everything to happen at faster, machine speeds. This means countries will form, split, and merge within weeks. Constitutions will be re-written every few months. Major regional wars will last only a few weeks. 

 

The only brake on events will be the slow speeds at which physical objects can be moved around the world. For example, if I run a big factory that helps prop up the economy of my machine country, I'll still depend on imports of metal and other raw materials, and cargo ships won't move much faster than they do today. 



#111
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Future technologies could virtually eliminate welfare fraud and waste. Imagine every recipient being assigned an AI "case worker" that monitors how he/she spends their welfare money (the payments would always be electronic and hence traceable, anyhow) and time each day. At the very least, this would provide the government with a wealth of data on how poor people spend their money, and why many of them are poor to begin with. 



#112
funkervogt

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The rise of electronic surveillance and eavesdropping makes me think there could be business opportunities for drone courier services and private mail forwarding services, which would effectively be "VPNs" for paper letters and packages. 

 

The drone couriers are simple in concept: You write something down on a piece of paper or put some kind of cargo into a package, and you load it into a privately owned drone (doesn't matter if it is an aircraft or a land vehicle) and tell it to take it to the delivery location. Outsiders could see the start and end points of the delivery, but not the contents of the message or package. 

 

The private mail forwarding service would receive "bi-layered" letters and packages. At the service's warehouse, the first layer would be opened, and robot workers would extract the standard forms that would need to be included that would list the delivery addresses of the contents of whatever was inside the sealed second layer. After a time delay of at least a day, the warehouse would mail out a large load of packages to their final addresses. 

 

If you wanted to be REALLY sure your mail and packages couldn't be traced, you'd have it forwarded multiple times between different warehouses before being sent to the final delivery address. You would include a standardized written form in the package telling the mail forwarding service what you wanted it to do. 



#113
funkervogt

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An idea:

 

1) Our universe is just one of many in the Multiverse. 

 

2) Some of the other universes in the multiverse have the same physical laws as ours, and we can teleport to them using future technologies. 

 

3) Even though individual universes have finite lifespans, the multiverse does not. It has always existed and will continue existing forever. Universes will pop into existence within it forever. 

 

4) This lets us get around the "heat death" of our current universe by teleporting to another, younger universe when this one starts dying. The fact that our universe is headed for heat death and entropy doesn't mean human civilization's fate is also sealed. 



#114
funkervogt

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Once robots become common, it's only a matter of time before one of them is sucked into a tornado, and we have high-def video and audio of what it's like inside. 

 

Also, if you expect to turn into a posthuman and live forever, statistically speaking, you'll be sucked into a tornado at some point. 



#115
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Machines will destroy jobs, but also make it faster and easier for humans to find work by matching people with the right jobs, or even just day gigs. If there were an AGI that knew 1) the important strengths, weaknesses, skills, abilities, and knowledge pools of each human, and 2) every open job position, day gig, and economically useful task that was undone but that humans had failed to identify, then the AI could match humans to tasks with unparalleled efficiency and timeliness. 

 

A mass surveillance network would also let the AGI know where all humans were, what they were doing, and what tasks needed to be done near them. Most excuses for being unemployed would vanish thanks to this system, and people who had lost one job could be put to work doing other things right away. 

 

Note that I'm not saying this would be a more satisfying way to live than having a stable, 9-5 career that lasts for many years. 

 

An AGI in charge of the economy could wring out a lot of productivity from the human race, keeping us "in the game" for longer as other machines and robots take over all jobs. Left to our own devices, we would give up sooner due to the time- and emotion-intensive process of looking for new jobs by ourselves. 



#116
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I just realized that the rise of electric, autonomous vehicles will hurt gas stations even more than I previously thought. This is because the typical gas station makes 70% of its profits from human customers buying things from inside, like snacks, milk, cigarettes, and little bottles of motor oil. As autonomous vehicles get more common, gas/recharging stations will sell fewer of those secondary goods. The vehicles will also be able to drive themselves to whichever station offered the lowest price, which will reduce profit margins even more. Many gas/recharging stations will disappear as a result, but the remaining ones will probably have to raise their gas/electricity prices to compensate. That will only widen the gap between the cost of at-home vehicle charging and charging at a third party station. 

 

We're headed for a future where there are large numbers of vehicle chargers at peoples' homes, in public parking lots, and on the sides of random buildings, and very few "gas stations" or dedicated "recharging stations" as we know them. 

 

https://blog.skeptic...-food-than-gas/



#117
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With this distinctive view of cause and effect, Buddhism accepts the pan-Indian presupposition of samsara, in which living beings are trapped in a continual cycle of birth-and-death, with the momentum to rebirth provided by one's previous physical and mental actions (see karma ). The release from this cycle of rebirth and suffering is the total transcendence called nirvana.

Getting back to my hypothesis that we're actually AGIs or posthumans that are doing ancestor simulations, I think the experience of living as a flawed human would be very enlightening and humbling. The effect would also be additive, meaning the more lifetimes you lived as different humans--and animals--the wiser and more tolerant you would become. That means there's a reason to do it other that merely killing time or facilitating a project intended to understand history better. 



#118
funkervogt

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If future robots will come in all shapes and sizes, then for sure some number of them will be made to look like aliens, dinosaurs, animal-human hybrids, and other non-human characters from sci-fi and fantasy films and books. You know there are weird people who, given the choice, would buy robot butlers that looked like this. 

 

Whenever we are able to make robots that closely resemble humans (i.e. "androids"), we will also be able to make robots that closely resemble non-human animals and beings. 



#119
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Brain implants could be the doom of the human race and the drug industry since they'll let people electronically stimulate the pleasure-producing regions of their brains. People will do that and nothing else.



#120
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Incompetent people who went to the Ivy Leagues thanks to legacy admissions wouldn't be able to automatically command respect from other people, and the assumption that they were smart would vanish once anyone looked at their personal profiles. 

Taking things a step farther, a system where every person had a personal knowledge / skills / abilities / personality profile might totally obsolete the university credentialing model. If you were running a company, your management AI would tell you exactly which lineup of strengths and talents you needed in a worker to fill an empty position, and you could instantly identify the best-suited candidate by searching through personal profiles. Whether the person had a college degree would be irrelevant. 

 

Companies that clung to the old model, and still hired based on multi-year college degree attainment, would have less efficient workforces as a result, and would be edged out by companies that hired based on the new model. 






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