Systems

As long as sentience exists, so will competition. As long as competition exists, so will suffering

Sadly, we will never reach the goal of eliminating suffering from the universe. Whether it's in aliens, animals, A.I. replacements for humans, or even humans that don't make the transition through the Singularity, there will always be suffering.

We can start by defining these sufferers in the abstract as conscious, semi-intelligent "nodes." Each of these nodes had to evolve. Even if we create sentient, intelligent beings, they will just be an extension of the evolution of us. All nodes are subject to the rules of persistence which require resources to maintain their existence, even if it's just the burning of coal to power data centers.

The second principle is the scarcity of resources. There is no unlimited source of anything in the universe. Every node has a non-zero amount of physical material, and that material is ultimately limited. So some games between nodes—games that these nodes have trained themselves on through evolution—will be zero-sum games. As a result, the increase in value for one node (anything that helps perpetuate its persistence) will often require the decrease in value for other nodes. In other words, competition is inevitable.

Then, for nodes to be competitive for survival, they have to respond in-kind to threats. They have to feel pain. Pain is essentially an alarm that provides bursts of data that dominate all other data on the buffer. So a computer that is meant to emulate pain like humans would encounter situations where it stops processing ambient data, and instead focuses all of its energy on the alarm: i.e. the pain. It would gird itself up, creating an exceptional "emergency" circumstance whereby it would drain energy from other modules temporarily to deal with the thing causing the pain. The result would look like an approximation of the human experience of pain.

As a result, nodes will harm other nodes in a competition for resources, and as a result, they will suffer at the hands of each other.

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Is it a rule of nature or physics that decadence must always follow abundance? Will we be the first creatures to subvert that?

Does decadence necessarily follow from advantage? Take the Panda, for example. It must have descended from a great bear at some point, but because it developed a unique digestive system for bamboo—providing it nearly unlimited mana—it got "lazy" and its powers waned.

Or consider America: it stepped up to the challenge during World War I and II, building itself up militarily and industrially giving it an overwhelming geopolitical advantage. But because of that overabundance, America has gotten more and more decadent since then, with some historians fearing a pattern of decline similar to the Roman Empire.

Does decadence necessarily follow from advantage? How can an organism, person, corporation, or nation maintain its advantage forever? How can it make gains in one area without accompanying slack in other areas? Or maybe it can't.

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We have more meta-memories than actual memories, sacrificing accuracy for speed, reality for witness-stand recall

I once had two long dreams about imaginary Hitchcock films. Both were packed with details and authentic Hitchcock plot twists, and yet I can barely recall their stories. All I remember is that the first film had Cary Grant and a large silvery gun, shaped like an old box camera that snapped together. The second film had Natalie Wood, who witnesses a murder while she is young, but cannot convince anybody around her. It gets to the point where she eventually believes she must have misremembered the murder, until later in life, she re-discovers real evidence of the murder. But in classic Hitchcock horror, she is still powerless to convince anybody.

These two dreams were so vivid that I immediately had dreams about them afterward. I remember reminiscing and embellishing the films in a sort of dreamworld "post-production." So in addition to having an intense memory of the movies themselves, I also have intense memories of reminiscing about the movies. When I woke up, I was so pleased with having seen and enjoyed two great Hitchcock films, that it took me a while to unravel the layers of remembrance to realize that those films were not real.

Have you ever remembered remembering something, but couldn't actually remember the thing itself? I often imagine that's how it feels like on the witness stand, where your recollection of the scene of the crime is weak, but you feel bolstered by your secondary recollection of your recollection. You may have a faint memory of being at the crime scene itself, but you vividly remember sitting uneasy on your sofa back at your apartment, replaying the events of the crime scene over and over again in your head.

This reminds me about how databases and Google work. Google caches all these websites and then constructs an index for looking up search terms. But oftentimes, Google's cache expires or the website drifts, and all that is left is the index as proof that those website caches were once real.