16 February 2024

new opiates

"When I’m driving, I sometimes turn on the radio and I find very often that what I’m listening to is a discussion of sports. These are telephone conversations. People call in and have long and intricate discussions, and it’s plain that quite a high degree of thought and analysis is going into that. People know a tremendous amount. They know all sorts of complicated details and enter into far-reaching discussion about whether the coach made the right decision yesterday and so on. These are ordinary people, not professionals, who are applying their intelligence and analytic skills in these areas and accumulating quite a lot of knowledge and, for all I know, understanding. On the other hand, when I hear people talk about, say, international affairs or domestic problems, it’s at a level of superficiality that’s beyond belief."
-- Noam Chomsky
We exhaust our cognitive resources on the trivial.

18 November 2023

solving social with forced interoperability

The social networks we use are spaces where our interactions and their reach are very prone to manipulation. It's easy enough to rig a public feed to dampen certain messages and amplify others for profit or politics - and we would not be able to tell. 

The damping of a message wouldn't have to be applied for those in the 'bubble' that already agree with it .. but is very effective when applied to those outside that bubble.

So the people that share a certain idea would be mostly talking to themselves. Useful for organising around an idea, but with little to no spreading of the idea.

This potential subversion of our new public space(s) cannot easily be avoided or even detected while we use platforms whose source code isn't open for inspection.

An idea being called forced interoperability might offer a path to a possible solution. 

Right now there are multiple social networking platforms available that adopt open standards that allow for a federated approach -like Mastodon and the Fediverse- so that different platforms running different software can access the same public space. Most are publicly owned (copyleft) and therefore have public feed algorithms that are open to inspection . 

All of these function quite well but suffer a seemingly insurmountable downside - public spaces work best when they are ubiquitous, and so there's a very very big disincentive to leave the platforms with the largest populations

Forced interoperability is the idea that we solve this knot of a problem by legislating to force the existing monopolies to adopt those open standards so that open platforms we chose can work seamlessly with the Facebooks, Twitters and Instagrams.

The EU is already doing this for messaging - https://www.theverge.com/2022/3/24/22995431/european-union-digital-markets-act-imessage-whatsapp-interoperable

China seems to have implemented some of it in their networks.

We need to push for legislation that forces interoperability for our social networks too.

Different communities choosing the platforms with the rules and ethics they want. And those separate platforms talking to everybody else.

This won't immediately solve that public feed manipulation problem. If everyone stayed on with the existing closed platforms - they still get manipulated. 

But if the idea of freedom from that manipulation grows... without any downsides..
We could see populations voting with their feet on the type of public space they want

15 October 2023

Beyond Selfishness and Altruism: Evolution, Empathy, and Systemic Sustainability

Ben Goertzel on good and evil: 

"It's a complicated and somewhat silly distinction. Human beings under evolution have been shaped by two objective functions: Individual selection and group selection. The tension between selfishness and altruism. A lot of what we view as evil is selfishness -Individual interest. A lot of what we view as good is altruism -acting in the interests of the collective. We are a mix.

But culture has a lot of flexibility in what it teaches as the default position between the two. And we have a lot of room to move to more altruism."
[end quote] 

Expanding on Ben Goertzel's delineation between good and evil through the prism of individual and group selection, there's an additional evolutionary dimension worth considering: the long-term viability of groups in relation to their external environment and other groups. This involves another kind of selection - one based on a group's ability to extend its empathic boundaries and sustain harmonious coexistence with out-groups and the environment.

This "meta-selection" isn't just about immediate survival or dominance but encompasses a group's adaptive strategies for long-term sustainability and coexistence. It's about how a group defines its circle of empathy and the consequent impact on its cooperative and competitive strategies. Groups that practice wider empathy are not just being altruistic; they're investing in a robust strategy for long-term survival. They contribute to a social and ecological equilibrium, enhancing not just their own resilience, but the resilience of a larger interconnected system. 

This perspective also casts a new light on the concepts of good and evil. Actions and policies that foster broad cooperation and empathy, even beyond immediate in-group interests, contribute to the collective good—not just of one's own group, but of the larger ecosystem of groups and the environment.

Conversely, short-sighted strategies, those prioritizing immediate in-group benefits at the severe expense of others and the environment, can be viewed as contributing to a collective evil. They may offer immediate gains but compromise the long-term resilience and sustainability of the broader system. 

It's crucial to note that in this evolutionary framework, the ultimate "victory" scenario isn't one group out-competing all others to the point of their extinction, then living in isolation, sustainably, with the non-human environment. Such a scenario would actually be detrimental to survival in the long run due to decreased systemic robustness resulting from reduced diversity. 

True optimal success in this framework is a rich tapestry of diverse groups, all practicing extended empathy, cooperating where possible, and coexisting sustainably with each other and the environment. This diversity isn't just a moral ideal; it's a strategic one, vital for the long-term resilience and adaptability of life on Earth.

(uses some help from an artificial friend)

28 July 2021

technical stagnation under late capitalism

The relative scientific and technical stagnation under late capitalism is hardly a new observation, but one that bears repeating.
Our best minds are largely at work making shiny things we don't need or figuring out how best to sell it to us. Pure scientific research is at an all time low and research departments directed in some way by profit motive are the norm. We think we're living in a sci-fi future because that thinking sells shiny things and advertising works. But the slowing down in the rate of technical advancement has only really just begun... It takes about a generation before the fruits of raw research can be deployed as technologies, and we will only really see real downside of this approach a generation of two from now - just when we could use all the science we can get to save us from the ecological disaster also wrought by run away capitalism.

25 August 2019


A sidebar annotating the web, like SideWiki should have been.

Social bookmarking, tagging, annotating and note sharing of the web in public or private groups, or just for yourself.

"Our efforts are based on the annotation standards for digital documents developed by the W3C Web Annotation Working Group. We are partnering broadly with developers, publishers, academic institutions, researchers, and individuals to develop a platform for the next generation of read-write web applications. You can follow our development progress on our roadmap. Many have contributed tools, plug-ins and integrations."

A Chrome extension. Firefox and other users will have to use the bookmarklet for now - which works very well
see web.hypothes.is/installing-the-bookmarklet/

run by a public foundation apparently. source code is open but not copyleft, alas.

15 August 2019

hacking past deepfakery

deepfakes, faked news/info and ml powered bots aren't going to go away.

the populations of the networked will have to evolve toward more skepticism, and alongside that our information networks will have to grow more robust too - with systems to handle the verification of sources, contestation, crypto-verifiable public identity, and levels of trust amongst individuals and community

04 August 2019

odd notes Copyleft and our digital future .. and a public rhizome to surf and build

A thought about revisiting. diarising. Then...

How copyleft, public ownership licensing is necessary (but not sufficient) for any worthwhile digital future. We'll never fix the major issues with our current search and social networking technologies until we properly own them . And can see and trust how they work.
Public Digital tools and info being shared to it's full potential will offer an advantage to our public protects. Letting us copy mutate add blend subtract fork our projects in a vastly quicker and more productive way than how projects are building now. Yielding the most interesting potential complexity and possibility for solutions to the fast evolving self parasitism we suffer . The like that has plagued us throughout our history and continues to out-advance us even as it is forced to retreat

Also on the rhizome.
A group of tagged and heavily linked set of pages . Using the tag opportunities and massive wiki-like linking to organise and navigate the info space in interesting ways.
Quick search of all Pages
Quick filter
Quick filter by tags
Quick community filters .

Community focused features
Easy and transparent Merging and forking of communities .. principal feature
Easy to add suggest link copy hardlink fork hardfork any node on the zome from one community to another. 
Mechanisms for dispute and consensus
That shared public license applying to all nodes

12 January 2018

dream talk

just had a cool dream

Our brains are largely a patchwork of buggy sub-processes making us feel happy or sad by the relative probabilities of some uppity replicating protein making more of itself. That's why we feel good and that's why we feel bad. That and all the real pain and joy that causes.

All we can do is to try get out of our heads. Our heads are broken. Be kind to each other, kind to everyone. Try to fix ourselves. We don't have to live these broken lives. When they're broken, then we can try to help each other.

That or something close is what the lady told the players, but only after she lost.

01 January 2018

our tools are broken

Regular Reminder - Our tools Are Broken: social networking tools and other information infrastructure that are not publicly owned (and by that I mean licensed under the General Public License or Copylefted -see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyleft) are fundamentally broken. Because anything less than public ownership severely limits the extent to which we can use, fix, experiment, and grow these into useful universal assets .. This is especially true in the long term.

The list of our broken tools include Facebook, Google search, Twitter, and the operating systems Windows, Mac-OSX, IOS, and bits of Android. Linux is completely ours. Most of Android and the software that serves up and browses the world wide web is also properly public property.

Distributed/Federated social software that could easily replace Facebook and Twitter already exists (see Diaspora and Identica). Publicly owned search engines won't have to start from scratch either.

Its just going to take us some time to realise that all the complaints that we have about our social software - about the abuses of power that extend from privacy violations to the manipulation of search results and manipulation of our social signalling - all of these cannot be fixed until we switch to Free (as in speech) Software.