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Francis Pedraza
May 10 · 25 min read

Editor’s Notes: In this post, The CEO talks about why The Gambit: “A.I.” is fake news, how Stagnation & Collectivism are dangerous, why we need Technological Progress & Individualism to save us and The Wizard’s Koan: “Can The Paradox Of Liberty & Security Ever Be Reconciled?”

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The Wizard & The Wand.

“A.I.” is fake news. But that’s not my grand claim — just my opening argument…

The Gambit: “A.I.” Is Fake News

AI is fake news… Media-driven hype. Collective hysteria. Overblown groupthink. A meme. The biggest fake news story of my lifetime except, well… That one. How many news articles have been written? How incessantly have we read and discussed this? How many conferences have fetishized this?

The overarching, overwhelming and official narrative goes like this:
AI is coming! Imminently. Even now, it draws nigh… Behold, it is at the gate, at the door, upon us!!! And unlike coronavirus, which the MSM teaches us was entirely preventable by you-know-who, it’s inevitable. We can’t quarantine it, or ourselves. #extendthelockdowns won’t work, because it lives inside of our homes, in our devices… in… “Hey Siri, turn down the volume, I’m trying to write!!!”
AI is dangerous!! It’s going to REPLACE humans. Put us out of work. Create structural unemployment. It might TAKE OVER and enslave or destroy us. None can stand against the might of Mordor!
AI is the reason we need socialism now!!! The only way to protect ourselves is Government Regulation & Funding of AI Research, and most importantly of all, Universal Basic Income!!! Regulating AI companies can control the harmful effects of AI and prevent an AI takeover. If the government doesn’t commit to regulating all R&D into AI, research experiments might turn into sci-fi horror films: greedy capitalist-funded scientists blow up the lab, letting AI-ultron-zilla loose to destroy cities, but this time The Avengers won’t be there to save us! Government funding for AI companies will ensure economic and military superiority. If our government doesn’t commit to tens of billions of dollars in funding for AI research, authoritarian China will develop an overwhelming advantage and use it to take over the world: this is an arms-race!!! Lastly, if we don’t tax the massive amount of wealth and abundance that AI will generate and redistribute it among all of the humans that AI will make obsolete (the whole population minus the capitalists), then our society will cease to function, and there will be massive amounts of human suffering and civil unrest!!!

Gah! Where to begin? …

Counter-Narrative: Stagnation & Collectivism Are Dangerous, And We Need Technological Progress & Individualism To Save Us…

If the official narrative is: “AI is coming,” “AI is dangerous” and “AI is the reason we need socialism now”… It seems to me that exactly the opposite is true.

1. Technological progress isn’t happening fast enough. There’s been a debate raging since Peter Thiel dared to argue that not only are we not making rapid technological and economic progress, but that we’ve been stagnating since the 1970s: technologically stagnating with slower progress, and in some cases, regress, in engineering and science fields outside of software and computer hardware, and economically stagnating with successive Keynesian bubble-bust-bailout-bubble economic cycles that mask the absence of broad-based wealth creation and “real” growth. At the root of this failure, Thiel points to a series of industrial complexes and cultural pathologies that have resulted in a “near universal institutional failure.”

2. Technological progress isn’t dangerous, but stagnation is. With the exception of Reagan’s supply-side economics and Volker’s classical high-interest rate monetary policy, we’ve pursued Keynesian fiscal and monetary policy since FDR. A strong precedent has been set, where every time an economic bubble bursts, we expect the government to stimulate the economy with bailouts, lower interest rates, and other forms of stimulus. But the underlying cycle of borrow, spend, over-consume, bubble, burst, bailout… has resulted in a national debt of $30T: or $100,000 for every American — excluding state, local and individual/household debt.

What happens if after the next bubble bursts, the economy fails to respond to stimulus — do we keep increasing the stimulus until it works? What if that still doesn’t work, and we end up in a stagflationary economy like the late 1970s? Will the Reagan-Volker policy combination even be possible: both for lack of political talent and will, but also because interest payments on the now orders-of-magnitude-higher national debt would skyrocket, risking a federal default? What if the next bubble that bursts isn’t even an economic bubble, but a government debt bubble: and the capital markets deem either or both the dollar and Treasury Bills as risky securities?

Culturally and financially, it will be very hard to hit the RESET button on our entire post-1929 Keynesian experiment. The key historical debate to revive is over the history and lessons of The Great Depression. In the official narrative, The Great Depression was caused by individualistic capitalism and cured by technocratic socialist Keynesianism, by collectivist culture and massive government intervention. But after reading Amity Shlaes’ scholarly and contrarian history, The Forgotten Man, again, it seems to me that the exact opposite is true. That because markets were interfered with, first by Hoover, then by FDR, they did not recover naturally, and this extended the depression for a full decade.

Tectonic historical forces are the most powerful, but the hardest to analyze, because they move so slowly… It may finally be time to review the last century of Keynesian experimentation, revert to the principles of classical liberalism, and adapt them to 21st century circumstances.

In brief, instead of demand-side economics (borrow-spend-overconsume-bubble-bailout), it might be time to focus on the supply-side; on capitalists, producers, and savers. If we can create a save-invest-innovate-mass-produce-deflate cycle it should create sustainable, rapid and broad-based wealth and growth.

3. We need technological progress and individualism to save us. Moses said “LET MY PEOPLE GO!!!” but “The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart”… Confirmation Bias, containing elements of stubbornness and self-deception, is a powerful cultural force. It will be hard for the average person, much less proud experts and rigid institutions, to do a complete 180* on core narratives…

If you’ve been told, and you’ve been telling other people, that the disease is “AI” (AKA too much technological progress too fast), and the cure is Collectivism (technocratic Keynesian socialism), so you apply more Collectivism, but observe everything getting worse, not better… Instead of considering that maybe you’ve misdiagnosed the disease, you may just increase your dosage of Collectivism; and this cycle may repeat until society is in critical condition and can compare itself to healthy examples — even then, true believers will keep calling for more Collectivism...

But what if the poison is Collectivism, and the cure is more Liberty? What if returning to the classical liberal principles that inspired our Founding Fathers would unleash the power of individualism, generate rapid technological progress, and create broad-based economic growth?

Intuitively this seems to me far more probable than the AI narrative. Individual liberty should result in entrepreneurial activity and innovation. Innovation should result in technological progress. Technological progress should deliver its fruits to mankind, naturally through deflation, instead of artificially through coercive and inflationary government schemes like UBI…

The Deflationary Gospel Of Capitalism: Rapid Technological Progress Lowers Prices To Increase Wealth & Abundance For All

Is it a coincidence that prices have steadily fallen in unregulated or deregulated industries like food, software, computer hardware, and oil & gas? Capital and labor both flood these markets… Producers want to innovate so that they can establish new business empires… And as a result of these incentives, technological progress is rapid and prices fall for consumers.

Prices falling for consumers is good. It means that everyone can afford more of what they want. Increasing purchasing power means you’re saving money, and saving money means you’re making money: deflation is like everyone getting a check from capitalism — it’s a hidden stimulus. And it’s the reason why you have an iPhone and you’re not starving.

What about industries in which prices have steadily risen, like healthcare, education, law and transportation? These are intensely regulated and interfered-with industries. In education, the government has the conceit to literally own and operate schools, as if they can do a better job of educating our children than motivated entrepreneurs!

What is needed is less government funding, less regulation, less intervention, and less redistribution: these create inflation, and inflation means your dollar is worth less — it’s a hidden tax. Not only that, but it means that the market signal is broken, which means in turn that something artificial is preventing innovation from happening.

Think of it like the economy choking. When someone chokes, their whole body freaks out: they cough, they have a gag reflex, they even throw up if necessary… their whole nervous system goes into high alert!

When the price of healthcare keeps rising and rising and rising… it’s not because evil healthcare companies are greedy! It’s because the space is so regulated that new entrants can’t enter to compete with the incumbents to challenge their monopolies.

Rising prices are attractive to capital and labor. So when prices rise for decades but capital and labor refuse to enter or fail to innovate to drive down costs, something is preventing the natural functioning of market incentives. This dooms the problem to keep getting worse, until it gets so bad that it becomes an emergency and we just have to fix it. Unfortunately, our confirmation bias is so strong, that our tendency is either to interfere more to “fix the problem,” which tends to just make the problem worse, or, worst of all, to fully nationalize (say, healthcare, as we’ve done with pre-college education) which removes the price signal entirely.

To drive prices down in healthcare, education and transportation — to create a universal boom and unleash the human spirit — we need INNOVATION. But innovation cannot happen unless we free our markets from government intervention. Capital and labor won’t take huge risks to enter and compete for profits unless they feel confident that they won’t be interfered with!

Automating Too Fast!? No. Just The Opposite: We’re Not Automating Fast Enough!!!

Social justice warriors are constantly opining that we need to slow down the rate of technological progress, pre-empt and regulate all externalities, and redistribute the gains to those affected... But nothing could hurt workers and consumers more, not to mention discourage the capitalists and producers on whom innovation relies...

Work can be created faster than it can be destroyed! It takes years to industrialize and automate work, but only a moment to create it.

I hope this goes down in economic history as Francis’ Law. If people truly believed this, in their bones, as I do, then the political, cultural, economic, technological and even spiritual/philosophical shift would be massive. The statement is an economic formulation of my belief in human creative potential (Imago Dei), combined with my observation of the difficulty of execution (The Mark Of Cain; The Tower of Babel, entropy, inertia)…

Ideas aren’t a limiting factor: I can generate more potentially profitable ideas in a day than I can execute on in a lifetime… Capital isn’t a limiting factor: money is liquid and compounds over decades and even centuries... There is tons of it just waiting on the sidelines, looking for a productive use…

Talent isn’t a limiter either: I’m skeptical that it is much harder to innovate than it is to create upgrades in complex systems operating at scale… Although our education system is terrible, and our industrial-complexes and political and cultural pathologies tend to discourage contrarian thinking, it is possible to hire, train and manage raw talent to work on a startup team, where innovation is the primary activity…

What is scarce is Execution. Labor is the limiting factor. Operations is the hard thing. The challenge is doing the work, because there is a nearly infinite amount of it to do. Borrowing from Thiel… There are two types of progress: doing something new, or doing something existing better, faster, and cheaper. Innovation, or intensive progress, traditionally comes first; followed by industrialization and distribution, or extensive progress, second. But, in practice, the two are difficult to separate. Inventing a thing, mass-producing a thing, and distributing a thing are all part of the capitalist process.

This leads me to an insight: to increase the rate of innovation in an economy, you have to increase the rate of industrialization and distribution. The cheaper it becomes to mass-produce (better/faster/cheaper) and distribute (access/market/sell/deliver) products and services, the more we can shift our energies towards creating new products and services, instead of upgrading the production and distribution of existing goods and services.

(Obviously this must be combined with the cultural/philosophical, political and economic conditions discussed in this essay and in others I’ve written… it’s not a reductionist formula…).

But look at the economy. The vast majority of labor is still engaged in upgrading the production and distribution of existing goods and services, not in innovation.

Why is that? If ideas, capital and talent aren’t scarce, then what’s preventing the rapid deflation of production and distribution costs?

It’s partly a cultural and political thing… After the equivalent of billions of dollars of AI propaganda ads, the average person is afraid of AI taking over their jobs. And because of low-quality government education, the average person hasn’t been taught skepticism or self-reliance.

In a healthy economy, any jobs that automation takes away will be replaced rapidly. Besides, most automation doesn’t take away full jobs, but rather makes workers more productive: displacing lower-value work with higher-value work.

It’s partly an industrial-complex and blindspot/pathology thing, which I’ve written about recently… There are a number of dogmas in the technology industry that result in an irrational preference for pure software vs. humans-in-the-loop, vertical solutions vs. horizontal solutions, and products vs. services.

As a society, over the last fifty years, we’ve made more progress in software and computer-hardware than in any other industry or domain. However, even in this domain, our primary domain of intensive progress, the fruit still hangs low…

The average college-educated knowledge worker spends 41% of their time doing work that can be done by someone without a degree. If the industrialization and automation of knowledge-work succeeds in reducing this to 2% of their time, it is comparable to the accomplishment of automating 98% of the agrarian workforce after the industrial revolution. So much focus has been applied to building best-in-class AI tools, we’ve forgotten that the true measure of technology is human productivity, which can be measured in terms of hours saved (automation) and business problems solved…

Topicality: WTF Does AI Even Mean Anymore?!

Notice I have made quite a counter-argument already, without discussing “AI” whatsoever… That is not an error in sequencing, but a deliberate choice to focus on culture, politics, technology and economics as drivers of civilizational progress and decline, to frame the debate in Grand Strategic terms.

Too many AI debates narrowly focus on AI trends, when what is implicitly stake in the debate has nothing to do with AI, but has everything to do with politics. “AI” has been politicized, so the only way to ground the debate is to not just define the terms and debate the trends, but contextualize them with the Grand Strategic frame of our civilizational moment.

Let’s proceed now, finally, to define “AI,” which has become a euphemism for technology itself, connoting the emergence of a “general artificial intelligence” genie from science fiction…

If the internet facilitates transaction, and software provides tools, then “AI” uses data to drive decisions. How? By building models that map the relationships between data sets, which reveal patterns. Then we use those patterns to make predictions, which can in turn be used to drive decisions, which result in new actions, which result in new data. Then we can use this new data to run the process again, updating the algorithm, which is now machine learning from experience.

In short, “AI” means “algorithms that learn.” At first, “upgrading AI” means that as we get better at this process, we collect more data sets and models and build new modeling tools…

So far, there’s only weak magic. Only a small ghost in the machine. Only a tiny genie in the bottle. The first-order network effect is adaptive, but not that much more miraculous than a simple algorithm. The machine learns from how its decisions affect reality: each decision it makes results in actions, which result in reality changing, which results in new data, which drives adaptation (or “learning”) in the model. But this isn’t learning and thinking in the sense that a human learns and thinks. It’s a model that spits out different results the more data you put into it.

The second-order network effect is chaotic, what begins to make people wary. The first-order network effect is single-player mode: there is only one “AI” in the world, learning not just from a naturally changing reality, but also from its own affect on reality. But what happens when many “AIs” exist in the world, and more decisions are under their control? The “reality” that they adapt to becomes increasingly a filter for reacting to each other… The system becomes increasingly chaotic and even the “data scientist” and “software engineer” creators of these AIs cannot explain how their original model & decision-making algorithm rules resulted in any given decision their model makes, as it absorbs more data inputs from a reality of such dynamic and complex interactions.

The third-order network effect is emergent, and it makes people downright superstitious. (Lightning from Zeus! “AI” from Ultron-genie!) The more AIs exist, the more we AIs we need, because the world is becoming too chaotic for human decision-makers, so we need to extend more and more trust to “the machines.” As these optimization functions interact with each other over longer periods of time, a harmony emerges…

So much for definitions. Please note that so far, we’re just talking about models. Not independent consciousness.

Argument: The Extrapolative Fallacy, Whereby They Falsely Conclude That The Wand Shall Someday Replace The Wizard

The extrapolative fallacy is the assumption that, taken to an extreme, the AI takes over completely… That we’ll have so much data and model the relationships within that data so well, that someday the AI will make most or all of our decisions for us, dramatically reducing or even eliminating the need for humans…

That in the same way that 98% of humans are no longer needed for farming, 98% of humans will no longer be needed for any kind of labor: physical or otherwise… That the only humans that will be needed are those providing goal inputs and those writing the software…

But that even those may be replaced, as the software learns to write itself… and even achieves superintelligent consciousness… As one of the most popular books of our era stipulates…

To put it metaphorically, that “The Wand” will someday replace “The Wizard.”

A Grand Claim: The Wand Shall Not Replace The Wizard

A grand claim: The Wand shall not replace The Wizard. AI is The Wand. But without The Wizard — a human individual, as its master, to command it, to give it meaning and direction — it is useless. The Wand will not supplant The Wizard, but whereas The Wizard will always be visible and retain primacy, The Wizard may so completely absorb The Wand that it disappears from view, becoming an invisible part of The Wizard’s very being, continually enhancing his powers as it, and he, and he-and-it together, advance its powers… But that’s not my grandest claim.

A Grander Claim: The Turing Test Is Also Fake News, The da Vinci Test Is The True Test Of Progress

An even grander claim: that the true measure of AI shall not be The Turing Test, comparing The Wand to The Wizard, for indeed, I posit that no AI shall ever pass this test, that, by this definition, the singularity will never be reached… But instead, as AI continues to progress, that we will rediscover the true measure, not just of it, but of all technology, not in its powers, but in ours.

Progress in The Wizard shall determine progress in The Wand. And the arbiter of progress shall be The Wizard. The Wizard shall test himself against himself, and against other Wizard, and by his subjective measure of his own progress, will judge The Wand, and drive him to upgrade The Wand, and direct The Wand to evolve in whatever direction that he sets for himself.

His progress, by his own measure. The da Vinci Test: whereby The Wizards of today shall be compared to The Wizards of yesterday, then to each other, then to themselves.

My Grandest Claim: Although Humans Have Primacy, Both Human & Technological Potential Are Infinite And Co-Evolving

My grandest claim is the claim of Heidegger: that strangely we find, that in unfolding and expressing the potential of technology, we step into a freeing claim, as it unfolds and expresses in perfect mutuality with our our own human potential, as individuals.

The poiesis that shall occur is not the birth of a superior consciousness transcending our own, making it obsolete… Or even an initial competition, ultimately conceded, yielding a mutually beneficial trading relationship between two specialized forms of consciousness with aligned or at least non-conflicting interests…

But rather the mutual unfolding of the dynamis of The Wizard through the dynamis of The Wand: the first begetting the second, with The Wizard, the prime mover, never losing primacy. Both with infinite potential, but the infinity of The Wand always subsumed by, contained within, the infinity of The Wizard. The Wizard can think whereas The Wand can only process.

The Critical Distinction: Processing vs. Thinking.

My argument hinges on the following assertions: Computers process. Humans think. Processing and thinking are different. No amount of processing shall ever become thinking-qua-thinking. Processing may have functional primacy, but the spiritual primacy of thinking is required to wield, to direct, processing power.

My confidence in these assertions comes from a wide range of reading and experience. But I would like to frame the distinctions through passages from Keats, Nietzsche and Heidegger.

In Keats’ Hyperion, when Oceanus, the Titan, abdicates sovereignty of the sea to Neptune, the Olympian god, he speaks thus:

In this mythos, evolution transcends through new forms superseding old forms to inherit primacy in a doomed contest. That’s Keats’ understanding of evolution.

But in Zarathustra, Nietzsche writes lines like:

… and passages like The Last Man. In Beyond Good & Evil he describes man as the “as-yet-undetermined animal,” a “rare exception.”

In my reading of Nietzsche, ‘what separates man from animals’ is not just that we have a higher form of consciousness, soon to be replaced by an even higher form of consciousness like AI, as Keats suggests… But rather, that what makes us different is that when we evolve, that we drive our own evolution; and that we evolve as individuals, less than as a species; and that the mode of evolution is less biological per se, although that may someday be the case, but rather functional and spiritual.

“Functional” in the sense of new powers, not just biological, but also technological and social (cultural, economic, political, etc.). “Spiritual” in the sense of consciousness: intellectual progress, but not just progress in the accumulation, organization and processing of knowledge, or even through the sciences, but rather in cultivating the faculty of thinking itself.

Heidegger elaborates on implications of Nietzsche. In What Is Called Thinking?, the term “thinking” refers not just to the history of philosophical thought, but the act of philosophical thinking itself; again, not just in the sense of “logic,” “analysis,” “reasoning” or “processing,” but in the wilder senses of the activity: the free, negating, positing, premising, associative, abstract, meditative, identity-forming, directional, creative, aesthetic, moral, value-assigning, inquiring, questing, assaying.

Man-is-as-yet-undetermined because we are individuals… As an individual, I have the capacity, the dynamis, the potential, to choose, how I will evolve. Indeed, I make that choice every day. I am evolving myself.

Man-is-a-bridge, but to what? To “superman.” But what is superman? Superman is just the new man. Just the new bridge. To what? To superman. As I am evolving myself, other individuals are learning from me. As a species, we are learning from each other in this experiment called history. Each man that chooses to evolve becomes a superman unto himself. The species becomes a superman unto itself. But the evolution is emergent from the fractal of the individual. The signal comes from the individual; the individual as exemplar; is exemplary.

If a “singularity” is to occur, it will be an absorbing of The Wand by The Wizard. What will make it qualitatively different than the technological advantages that a man in 1900 had over a man in 1500, is that the fusion between man and machine will be complete, such that they cannot be separated, not just in system, but even in form and being. Yesterday it was possible to separate a man from his tools; just as it was possible to separate a man from society. Today it is still possible to separate a man from his iPhone, and through his iPhone, the ever-expanding, ever-evolving tools and systems of the internet, and through the internet, society. Tomorrow, the tools, the systems, the link to society — it may be literally a part of our bodies, linked directly to our minds. That is an exciting thought, and the biggest question that it begs, other than feasibility, is what it will do to individuality. For certainly, without individuality, the species loses direction, because the species cannot think, just as science cannot think (Heidegger, “wissenschaft denken nicht”). But telepathically hyper-networked, the thoughts of one individual become the thoughts of all individuals in a way that is far more intense than, say, Twitter. If the species survives, in any form, individuality will survive, must survive. But individuality, while always remaining itself, will also evolve. The true individual, being a true individual, must always want true individuality, but being hyper-networked, must adapt to a new and strange reality, wielding its vast and novel potentialities to express his unique dynamis.

Abandoning Singularity For Dialectic & Earned Progress

The “singularity” movement was mostly subconscious in the Silicon Valley of the 70s, 80s, 90s and even the 00s…. Even in the hubris of the .com boom, the most bullish futurists didn’t develop anything like the orthodoxy that Kurzweil, Bostrom and others created in the 2010s…

The aesthetic and philosophical form of the singularity movement is borrowed from Christian eschatology: time progresses towards Apocalypse and Singularity — The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!

But we have many great reasons to be suspect of this narrative, and this essay cannot possibly list them all. I will however suggest that Hegelian dialectic may be more interesting than Christian rapture…

The Singularity narrative hinges on The Wand swallowing and replacing The Wizard. But what may happen instead is a century or more of progress in many domains of engineering and science, with The Wand gradually enhancing the powers of The Wizard, and increasingly being absorbed into The Wizard. If a “singularity” occurs in this narrative, it is The Wizard swallowing The Wand, but it is hardly as timeline-altering and prediction-breaking as the traditional singularity.

Dialectic has some Eastern elements, but it isn’t cyclical. It also isn’t an exponential Christian “new heaven and a new earth.” It’s progressive but indeterminate. Logical and predictable on one level, yet at a deeper level: paradoxical, endless, and exciting…

My favorite thing about this counter-narrative is that it isn’t automatic. Progress doesn’t just happen magically. Wizards do it. Over many years and decades. And it isn’t easy.

Abandoning Utopia For N-Topia & Renaissance

Underlying so many of the pathologies in our culture right now is the post-Christian hunger for an earthly utopia to replace the hope for paradise we lost when we killed God.

I see utopian yearnings in the AI debate, in the coronavirus debate (nobody is allowed to die, nobody is allowed to lose their jobs or lose money, no tradeoffs allowed, only transcendence!), and of course, in the capitalism vs. socialism debate.

A full critique of utopian thinking is beyond the scope of this essay. But I will remind the reader that 130 million people died in the last century because of two materialist utopian ideologies: under Hitler’s fascist regime and Stalin, Mao and other dictators’ communist regimes.

But we must have a direction in which to point. What is the alternative to utopian thinking? Well, if you must have utopian thinking, I prefer the spiritual kind. I’d argue that one of Christianity’s contributions to civilization was moving utopia out of the material sphere as an object of pursuit: destroying the Babel ambition, if you will, and replacing it with a missional ambition… improving the earth during our brief sojourn here, without the fantasy that you can conquer or perfect it; meanwhile investing in spiritual “goods” like the accumulation of learning and the practice of art… Nietzsche, also correctly, critiqued Christianity for the pathology of escapism this engenders: one must be committed to improving this world in order to actually do it. Truth lies somewhere within the paradox outlined in these opposites.

The classical liberal tradition resolves this elegantly. To coin a phrase, they abandon Utopia in favor of N-Topia. N-Topia is the idea that as long as we limit The State to preventing physical violence, then every individual may pursue their own idea of progress, express their destiny as they see fit, and collaborate on any project of mutual interest. This allows for the emergence of many utopia projects within a single society, and many divergent paths towards utopian self-improvement…

What this sounds like to me is a renaissance. And whereas utopias have never existed, renaissances are historical phenomenon and can be studied. There were more geniuses per capita in Athens in its golden age than in contemporary New York City. The N-Topian optimization function for this metric is maximizing Liberty.

But the problem with this suggestion is that there is no mechanistic way of guaranteeing it. “A Republic… if you can keep it,” were Franklin’s words of advice… The Constitution is not a mechanistic savior: The Constitution Wand will not save us, all by itself. Although it is possible, in theory, to write an even better constitution, to use cryptocurrency, to make all kinds of mechanistic improvements… the nature of Leviathan is such that it cannot be perfectly chained… and so ultimately the only safeguard are The Wizards: the society, the culture, the individuals in society itself. A book I will re-read soon is Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. Because the magic and the mystery that we need to discover most is how to rebuild a civil society and a culture that is capable of both democracy and liberty at the same time. Which leads me to a paradox…

The Wizard’s Koan: Can The Paradox Of Liberty & Security Ever Be Reconciled?

My grandest claim begs a question which is a riddle to me, which I leave to Time to ask in future generations, maybe for all time…

The Wizard’s Koan

Caveat Emptor: On Whose Authority? On That Of A Child. The One That Says… “The Emperor Has No Clothes!”

I caveat what I have written by identifying myself as an unashamed amateur (that is, amatore: lover, beginner & fool), not as, god-forbid, an expert. Beginners tend to be intuitive and lucky, whereas experts tend to be technical and wrong. But by now I am a kind of expert at being an amateur, which I suppose makes me an expert amateur: someone who systematically critiques experts, learns from their mistakes, and thinks through his own intuitions, and perhaps increases his beginner’s luck ever-so-slightly further by doing so.

But you see, an “expert amateur” is such a contradiction in terms. The paradox is better described as a skeptical amateur, for such a one spends much of his time systematically critiquing even his own expertise, of which he is highly suspicious and eager to be rid of…

For it is a truth universally acknowledged that to humiliate oneself is infinitely preferable than having the honor of being served by others. Which I will now demonstrate, in amending the category further, from “skeptical amateur” back to a humbler title like “full-of-BS amateur with an excellent BS-detector.”

Blessed are the skeptical amateurs, for they shall till the full-of-BS earth…

The Emperor Has No Clothes!! The Emperor Has No Clothes!!!

Be Skeptical! Question Everything!

The Individual As Objective Function

AIs just model data relationships to optimize objective functions. Only a human individual can provide the objective functions that we need. In Existentialism Is A Humanism, Sarte provides the example of a French son of military age during WWII: his father betrays the family to become a Nazi, his mother is dependent on his filial duty for sustenance, but his patriotic duty calls him to join the Free French — what should he do, stay with his mother or serve his country? AI will never be able to decide that question, or any question like it. His religion, The Catholic Church, cannot decide the question for him. Only he can make that decision. And the reason he can make that decision is that he has the Imago Dei…

We are painting the painting…
Writing the story… In the story…


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