Intro to self-discipline

Turns out the underpinning knowledge of complex self-behaviorism like “habit chains” and “free energy from transitions” is not obvious. So, here’s the how part. This post is the why part.

All desirable things can be used as ends to motivate behavior changes. When we act impulsively, it’s to satisfy short-term desires. When we act deliberately, it’s to satisfy long-term desires. If you can’t be arsed with long-term desires, it’s usually because your short-term situation has sucked for long enough that you’ve given up on a relatively deep level. If someone were stuck underground for ten years, they’d be very impulsive. But they’d get a huge rush of elation just from seeing the sun, and this dopamine association would motivate behavior in the future. This is a very basic need that was going unmet.

You have more deficiencies than I do, in all likelihood. On a macro scale, in terms of human needs, you’re missing more of the ingredients that make for a happy person. You can sometimes work out what basic needs are missing in your life from your impulses, as explained here. Then again, a lot of people are just really impulsive (like blacks) and can never be anything else. If you’ve been highly self-disciplined in the past, that’s a pretty good sign that you’re capable of self-discipline within the proper environment.

So to trick your emotions back into long-term focus, you use short-term desires as micro-rewards to train behaviors with predictable long-term payoffs. Make sense? Example: Long term I want to wake up every day at 5 AM and exercise. To start, I wake up every day and dress in exercise clothes…then undress and take a shower. But if I do that first step I get a treat. Eventually it becomes a habit that’s easier to follow than to break. This is how you build the systems that Scott Adams talks about.

If you have questions please ask them so I can figure out where people are starting from.

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Abstraction is the most important idea in computer science. Computer science is the American empire’s one great intellectual contribution, and I use its inception to mark the time between High Noon and the Age of Intellect in Glubb’s generation cycle. So if you love AMERICA—and everybody does—then you should understand how abstraction works.

I’ll be using a quote from a Curry-American book because that’s the one I know. I’ll quote at length because it’s an excellent book.

1.3 Two Recurring Themes

Two themes permeate this book that we have previously taken for granted, assuming that everyone recognized their value and regularly emphasized them to students of engineering and computer science. Lately, it has become clear to us that from the git-go, we need to make these points explicit. So, we state them here up front. The two themes are (a) the notion of abstraction and (b) the importance of not separating in your mind the notions of hardware and software. Their value to your development as an effective engineer or computer scientist goes well beyond your understanding of how a computer works and how to program it.

1.3.1 The Notion of Abstraction

The use of abstraction is all around us. When we get in a taxi and tell the driver, “Take me to the airport,” we are using abstraction. If we had to, we could probably direct the driver each step of the way: “Go down this street ten blocks, and make a left turn.” And, when he got there, “Now take this street five blocks and make a right turn.” And on and on. You know the details, but it is a lot quicker to just tell the driver to take you to the airport.

Even the statement “Go down this street ten blocks…” can be broken down further with instructions on using the accelerator, the steering wheel, watching out for other vehicles, pedestrians, etc.

Our ability to abstract is very much a productivity enhancer. It allows us to deal with a situation at a higher level, focusing on the essential aspects, while keeping the component ideas in the background. It allows us to be more efficient in our use of time and brain activity.

Yale N. Patt and Sanjay J. Patel
Introduction to Computing Systems

I’m going to interject for a moment here and note that many of us take for granted the ability to switch between motif and background. But as Paul Cooijmans points out, this is just one bullet point on the list of subtraits in associative horizon, and associative horizon exists on an extremely positive-skewed bell curve. I’ll return to this, but keep in mind the lack of this trait (the capability to work at the correct abstraction level) is a HUGE impediment to solving problems for most of humanity. This is because, when resources are abundant and social competition is fierce, there’s a huge opportunity cost to knowing how to build and maintain your own car. It’s a more efficient use of energy to pay or enslave someone to understand how your car works (or sharpen your spears to autistic perfection, I might add).

See Pseudorandom Bypasser’s comment below for a more detailed description.

…It allows us to not get bogged down in the detail when everything about the detail is working just fine.

There is an underlying assumption to this, however: “when everything about the detail is just fine.” What if everything about the detail is not just fine? Then, to be successful, our ability to abstract must be combined with our ability to un-abstract. Some people use the word deconstruct—the ability to go from the abstraction back to its component parts.

Some have vomit-inducing associations with the term deconstruction. Still, it’s a good word and we should take it.

Two stories come to mind.

The first involves a trip through Arizona the first author made a long time ago in the hottest part of the summer. At the time I was living in Palo Alto, California, where the temperature tends to be mild almost always. I knew enough to take the car to a mechanic before making the trip, and I told him to check the cooling system. That was the abstraction: cooling system. What I had not mastered was that the capability of a cooling system for Palo Alto, California is not the same as the capability of a cooling system for the summer deserts of Arizona. The result: two days in Deer Lodge, Arizona (population 3), waiting for a head gasket to be shipped in.

The second story (perhaps apocryphal) is supposed to have happened during the infancy of electric power generation. General Electric Co. was having trouble with one of its huge electric power generators and did not know what to do. On the front of the generator were lots of dials containing lots of information, and lots of screws that could be rotated clockwise or counterclockwise as the operator wished. Something on the other side of the wall of dials and screws was malfunctioning and no one knew what to do. So, as the story goes, they called in one of the early giants in the electric power industry. He looked at the dials and listened to the noises for a minute, then took a small pocket screwdriver out of his geek pack and rotated one screw 35 degrees counterclockwise. The problem immediately went away. He submitted a bill for $1,000 (a lot of money in those days) without any elaboration. The controller found the bill for two minutes’ work a little unsettling, and asked for further clarification. Back came the new bill:

Turning a screw 35 degrees counterclockwise: $0.75
Knowing which screw to turn and by how much: $999.25

BTFO m8.

In both stories the message is the same. It is more efficient to think of entities as abstractions. One does not want to get bogged down in details unecessarily. And as long as nothing untoward happens, we are OK. If I had never tried to make the trip to Arizona, the abstraction “cooling system” would have been sufficient. If the electric power generator never malfunctioned, there would have been no need for the power engineering guru’s deeper understanding.

If you can understand the principle of abstraction and the black pill, then you will understand why America’s healthcare and infrastructure is in such bad shape. If you can understand the Pyrrhic cycle, you will understand that this is the inevitable fate of empires.

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We believe in Cleve

If you have a Steam account please help Tex to get his game up. Go vote here.

Viva la incline!

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Edenism in one photo


Atavism is the tendency to revert to ancestral type. In biology, an atavism is an evolutionary throwback, such as traits reappearing which had disappeared generations before. Atavisms can occur in several ways. One way is when genes for previously existing phenotypical features are preserved in DNA, and these become expressed through a mutation that either knock out the overriding genes for the new traits or make the old traits override the new one. A number of traits can vary as a result of shortening of the fetal development of a trait (neoteny) or by prolongation of the same. In such a case, a shift in the time a trait is allowed to develop before it is fixed can bring forth an ancestral phenotype.

Darwin was Right

Even in the simplest combinatoric genetics analysis, it’s easier to rediscover atavistic adaptations than to create new ones by random mutation.

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The factory analogy for the two-factor intelligence model

Previously, the brainpower model of IQ.

In order to explain my two-factor model, I have to make an analogy to power consumption and capacity in a complex factory. But in order to make this analogy, I’ll have to introduce a functional understanding of factories. This will require an introductory understanding of algebraic physics and some simplified math.

The function of a machine component is to transform one sort of energy into another. For example, an electric actuator transforms electrical energy into linear work. A gear and a keyed shaft transform linear work into rotational work or vice versa. When you take something apart and find a bunch of little pieces inside, you can be confident that every little piece has some kind of energy transfer function. When you put all of those little functions together to make the larger component or a full machine, you can be confident that the larger component was designed with an energy transfer function in mind. Every machine can be characterized by its power consumption in work over time.

A factory can be thought of as a big machine made out of smaller little machines, which are in turn made out of components, which are made out of even smaller components. As you can see, the only real distinction between these levels of work is size and functional abstraction. The ideal factor is completely automated, without inputting any human work other than replacing machine components, so that there is no effective difference at all between a factory and a giant machine with a concrete housing. You shovel coal, steel, and replacement parts in one end and out the other end you get soot, widgets, and busted parts. The factor transforms the thermodynamic power produced by coal fires into the physical work done by the various drills, presses, robotic arms, etc. required in the process of producing widgets, and typical power consumption for this huge, complex process can again be described in a single unit: Watts.

None of this is particularly novel so far, and I still need to explain why we need two major factors for intelligence. Hopefully thinking of the human brain in industrial terms is a familiar process to you autists out there, so that the leaps I’ll be making won’t be too difficult. In brief, I will be modeling the brain functionally (and somewhat naively) as a system that transforms biological energy into solutions to problems, where intelligence is the brain’s physical load specifications. So we’ll be interested in all of the specifications that characterize an energy transfer system in general—typical performance specs, efficiency, maximum flow rate, maximum entropy differential (don’t worry, I’ll explain that)—even if we don’t understand what’s happening at the lower levels of abstraction, regarding components of components.

In the next post on this I’ll create a concrete example of a very simple hydraulic system and show how different flow rates and pressures change its behavior. This model will then be used to predict IQ test performance in terms of mental speed and caliber.

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Stories as emotional reactivity formulas

Conjecture: Stories are long-form descriptions of human emotional state reactions, analogous to chemical reactions.

Example: Chick flicks. They generally follow the formula of Humor and Worship -> Sadness -> Surprise and Happiness. Because Humor is Surprise and Disgust, the first act can be rearranged to “(Surprise and Disgust) and Worship = Surprise and (Disgust and Worship) = Surprise and Evil”. It makes a certain amount of sense because the chick flick formula has been feminism’s most effective cultural weapon for destroying the character of Western women. The basic deception is that Evil -> Happiness, where degenerate behavior predictably results in blissful elation because putting out makes the cad fall in love.

The difference between a story and a proper mythos is that the latter makes use of human archetypes to describe macro-scale human political interactions. A good example would be a story which anthropomorphizes the causal forces at work in my Pyrrhic cycle. For example, Conan the Barbarian could stand in for the K-selected barbarian outbreak because he is an archetypal representation of that sort of person. The key to doing this properly is to understand how archetypes work, which should be its own post.

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My theodicy, such as it is

I think pain is our primary connection to the real world, i.e. the difference between dreaming and being awake (or “woke” ;D). One of the consequences of this is that pain produces fear, fear produces reflection, anticipation, and forethought, these produce causal thinking, and causal thinking produces wisdom…leading inevitably to my pre-existing heuristic that wisdom = pain * IQ. That is, pain is the reason we ask “why” questions.

In a Christian theological context, pain would be our capacity to “hear” messages from God. We could also hear other messages, but we would have this capacity because pain is our reality antenna. So if we presume that God designed life to feel pain (I’m agnostic on this), then this implies that pain exists because God wants to talk to us using objective reality as a medium. I.e. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.

I believe philosophy is a behavioral response to existential terror. That terror comes from the understanding that reality is much bigger and more powerful than we are, as artistically expressed by Lovecraft. Now, this calls back to something commonsensical: all creators and artists have a sort of “artistic fingerprint” that exists in all of their work. (In my head I call the common element in a class of objects the “essence” of that class.) If God created reality then everything real would include this common element. So the fear of reality is also the fear of the creator. If we define God as the “aboutness” of existence, then philosophy follows from the pain of existing.

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