Utopological Investigations Part 4

Reading Time: 18 minutes

This is part of my series about Deep Utopia. This Part collects some Notes that I made after finishing the book. They mirror some of the Objections I have against Bostrom’s affective consequentialisms that clutter his writing in some otherwise great passages.

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Automatisch generierte Beschreibung


Imagine that some technologically advanced civilization arrived on Earth and was now pondering how to manage things. Imagine they said: “The most important thing is to preserve the ecosystem in its natural splendor. In particular, the predator populations must be preserved: the psychopath killers, the fascist goons, the despotic death squads—while we could so easily deflect them onto more wholesome paths, with a little nudge here and maybe some gentle police action there, we must scrupulously avoid any such interference, so that they can continue to prey on the weaker or more peaceful groups and keep them on their toes. Furthermore, we find that human nature expresses itself differently in different environments; so, we must ensure that there continue to be… slums, concentration camps, battlefields, besieged cities, famines, and all the rest.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (English Edition) (S.499, Footnote).

This Footnote is a strange case, where Bostrom goes overboard with a metaphor, and it is weird, how he compares Aliens that want to preserve the Human civilization with Humans who defend the Carnivorous Tendencies of Predators. I guess he compares Cats to psychopathic cannibals? If we had the technology to cure them from their pathological tendencies (hunting and playing with their prey) we should do so. He wants civilized cats only.

The utopians could have their interesting experiences repeat themselves—but that may not be very objectively interesting; or they could die and let a new person take their place—but that is another kind of repetition, which may also not ultimately be very objectively interesting. More on this later.)

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (English Edition) (S.217).

Instead of deactivating our boreability as a whole we could easily just delete past experiences from our memory, as shown in the movie eternal sunshine of the spotless mind. This would enable us to experience our most favorable experiences, like listening to Bach’s Goldbergvariations forever for the first time.

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Automatisch generierte Beschreibung

Perhaps there is enough objective interestingness in Shakespeare’s work to fill an entire human life, or a few lifetimes. But maybe the material would become objectively stale to somebody who spent five hundred years studying it. Even if they had been modified so that they didn’t experience boredom, we might judge their continued Shakespeare studies to be no longer valuable (or at least much less valuable in one significant respect) once they have “exhausted” the Bard’s work, in the sense of having discovered, appreciated, learned, and fully absorbed and mastered all the insight, wit, and beauty therein contained. We would then have definitively run out of Shakespearian interestingness, although we would be able to choose how to feel about that fact.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (English Edition) (S.219-220).

At the point of technological plasticity, there will also be the option that we develop a digital twin of Shakespeare living in an alternate Elizabethan reality which writes sonnets and plays about other subjects in the style of the original one using ASI. Running out of novelties should be impossible for a Shakespearian.

If we imagine a whole society (…) who interact normally with one another but are collectively gripped by one great shared enthusiasm after another—imposed, perhaps, by a joint exoself (an “exocommunity”? aka “culture”)—and who find in these serial fascinations a tremendous source of pleasure, satisfaction, and purpose; then the prospect immediately takes on a significantly sunnier aspect; although, of course, it is still not nearly as good as the best possible future we can imagine.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (English Edition) (S.222).

Some of our current society’s most sought after abstract goods like power, fame, wealth, status hint at the possibility that these might be parameters that were artificially inserted into this pseudo-simulation. Since most humans are collectively grasped by money, not caring for money makes one an extreme outlier, this could be the result of such an exogenous programming that randomly fails in some individuals. The greed People show by collecting bills, coins, stocks and digital numbers on an index should seem very irrational and objectively boring to entities which don’t care about such stuff.

I have forgotten almost all the lectures that I attended as a student, but one has stuck in my memory to this day—because it was so especially outstandingly boring. I remember trying to estimate the number of black spots in the acoustic ceiling panels, with increasing levels of precision, to keep myself distracted as the lecture dragged on and on. I feared I might have to outright count all the spots before the ordeal would be over—and there were tens of thousands. Memorability is correlated with interestingness, and I think we must say that this lecture made an above-average contribution to the interestingness of my student days. It was so boring that it was interesting!

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (English Edition) (S.245).

Bostrom messes up categories. We should await a gaussian distribution of all the most interesting and boring moments in our life. The most boring moment that would mark the most left side of this spectrum is not interesting in itself. Otherwise, it would simply be wrongly positioned, and we should have to update our datapoints in an infinite loop. To claim that kind of position is interesting is similar to saying the movie was so bad that it was good. The goodness here refers to a metalevel that says outstanding, remarkable not of good quality. Bostrom gets carried away how our language uses the terms good/bad, interesting/boring, special/typical.

(…) we seem bound to encounter diminishing returns quite quickly, after which successive life years bring less and less interestingness.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (English Edition) (S.253).

If we make a subjective list of the most interesting things in our lives, they will surely contain mostly things we did for the first time, and these moments become exponentially rarer after the 3rd year of life. In a way we could argue that if the amount of novelty in our life would be measured in such a way, that we start dying at the age of about 3, where we have made all our major developments. The rest of our life is then 70 to 80 years of degeneration, where these moments get exceedingly rare.

If we keep upgrading our mental faculties, we eventually leave the human ambit and ascend into the transhuman stratosphere and thence into posthuman space.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (English Edition) (S.255).

It is a little shortsighted to simply expect every human would only be interested in upgrading oneself to a higher entity on this ascendancy spectrum. For example, some philosophers would want to be downgraded to a bat just to see the look on Thomas Nagels face after they wrote a paper about their experience. Such a successful temporary downgrade would definitely prove that we solved the hard problem of consciousness.

(…) we should expect that what is required in order for our lives to remain interesting in utopia is that they offer a suitable variety of activities and settings.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (English Edition) (S.257).

In addition, an artificial super companion could exert a kind of guidance to avoid our human minds getting lost. Like we would limit the number of things to show to children, in a plastic world, there had still to be some invitation or level gating to prevent us from potential self-destructive behavior. This includes doing irreversible things via autopotency to us. I believe such an entity must be highly personalized to its ward, a kind of artificial guardian that will watch over its ward’s wellbeing.

(…) the more chopped and mixed life is preferable may retain some of its grip on us even if we stipulate—as of course we should—that in neither scenario would any subjective boredom be experienced.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (English Edition) (S.258).

But if we extrapolate this thinking along a potential infinite path, we end up with a totally distorted state, where it seems preferable for entertainments sake to end up as a Boltzmann brain, where experiences are maximally in Flux. An intuition that is currently frightening.

(…) if things functioned perfectly [in a plastic world], we would keep accumulating ever greater troves of procedural and episodic memories.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (English Edition) (S.260).

I highly doubt that. Individuals with too good and precise memory are not to be envied. It is for example a small step from high functioning autism, Asperger and the idiot savant from the neurodiverse literature, who seems to be often cursed by hyper precise memory. There is even a story about the phenomenon of a man with perfect memory from Borges. His condition is utterly debilitating. Like the most superpowers we envision as children to have, the drawbacks of a perfect memory are enormous for a human mind.

A frozen brain state, or a mere snapshot of a computational state stored in memory, would not be conscious.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (English Edition) (S.268)

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It could. Imagine an infinite number of universes in which Boltzmann brains are popping into existence for only the fraction of the moment it takes to access a conscious thought. If these Boltzmann brain party goes on for eternity, there will surely be a state of one of these brain that remembers reading a token in Bostrom’s new book. For some million years the same brain is having totally different thoughts but then one day it has the thought of the second token in Bostrom’s book, and so own until the experience of having read the whole book resides somewhere in the brain. For a totally discontinued brain it could well be that it never realizes its fractured worldlines and it has a totally normal experience of consistent thinking.

We have the idea that certain developmental or learning-related forms of interestingness could be maximized along a trajectory that is less than maximally fast: one where we spend some time exploiting the affordances available at a given level of cognitive capacity before upgrading to the next level. We have also the idea that if we want to be among the beneficiaries of utopia, we might again prefer trajectories that involve less than maximally precipitous upgrading of our capacities, because we may thereby preserve a stronger degree of personal identity between our current time slices and the time slices of (some of) the beings that inhabit the long-term future.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (English Edition) (S.272).

Why this section emphasizes the value how identity and interestingness intertwine is not really clear to me. Why it would be better for me to hold on to my singular identity. From the perspective of interestingness, it might be far more interesting to be inhabited by multiple identities at the same time. Indeed, some experiments with split brain patients suggests that at least two deep identities are controlling our visible surface-identity anyway. So, getting to hung up on the concept of a singular identity might be pointless.

(…) the notion of fulfillment is vague and indeterminate in its application to entities such as artistic or cultural movements. But it is also so in its application to human individuals.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (English Edition) (S.317).

If we have two identical cylinders sitting on a table, both made of metal, the same thing could serve as a bucket and a lampshade. Their value function when executed completes them. Fulfilling f(bucket) means adding water, fulfilling f(lampshade) means subtracting light. Moreover: If some fire would break out in the vicinity, the bucket could be expected to be fulfilled if we would empty the water on the fire to extinguish it. Fullfillingness is therefore totally in the mind of the Beholder.

Achieve a victory against the chess engine Stockfish at difficulty level 7, using no computer aids to assist you during training or during the match, and using no cognitive enhancers or other means that go against the spirit of this challenge.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (English Edition) (S.338).

This example is used by Bostrom to illustrate how things could still be made challenging in a Plastic World. But I am not sure that it is that easy. It directly contradicts Bostrom’s own thoughts in Super-Intelligence. If we are able to formulate such a mission in a plastic world, such that it is valid and not corruptible by an ASI, we would at the same time have found a way to chain an ASI with merely human intelligence, because a human that would be supported by superhuman assistants would only have to command the ASI to find a solution that does not go against the spirit of this challenge, and the ASI could find it.

It would be trivial for an ASI to cheat in such a way that we had the feeling that we won fair and square. The Logical thing is then to always distrust our victory, which makes it pointless to even play. We would have the exact same feeling if Stockfish itself would let us win. We can easily see that such a mere contract could be exploited by an ASI. Otherwise, Alignment would be trivial. I am a little irritated how Boston does not see how this idea goes against his own orthogonality thesis.

Within such a vast population [of stellar habitats] there would be an increased probability of design collisions. That is to say, if we pick a random person, and ask how similar the most similar other person is: then the larger the population, the more similar the most similar other person would tend to be.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (English Edition) (S.417).

This seems irrelevant. If we are not in a simulation and we are bound by physical laws, galactical pockets of trans humanity would keep drifting apart and increasing gaps between Star systems would make it impossible to have such a superset of possible minds from which we could compare. If my identical twin is unreachable in such a pocket system, I am as unique as I would be, if he was never born, his twin-similarity should be none of my concern.

Once a life is already extremely excellent, there may just not be much room for further improvement. So, while some initial segment of each utopian’s life could cause later improvements, this segment may be a small fraction of their entire life. The longer the life stretches on, the greater the fraction of it would be such that its average quality does not improve much. Either the life is already close to maximally good, or else the rate of improvement throughout the life is extremely slow.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (S.420-421).

A meaningful purpose for a good life could then be enhancing this option even further. For example, it could be argued that the person that invented a cure for cancer upgrades the total amount of available quality for all of humanity. It is not clear to me that this possibility space of important medical progress will end in a plastic world. Even at TECHMAT there could be the problem of minds addicted to infinite jests and such. Producing an effective cure for such a mind-virus could be considered even more valuable than curing cancer. The more transhuman a mind is the more difficult it could be to cure such illness. And coming up with ever new synthetic vaccines could be a really difficult task even for an ASI. Even at Plasticity we should beware that all clever instructions we might produce to forever get rid of are certainly time constrained. It is logically impossible, as Gödel showed to come up with a complete set of instructions that is not self-contradictory. So, to produce a surefire function that will always ensure our maximal wellbeing for all eternity is simply beyond any constructable reality. I think Bostrom stretches his Autopotency- Term beyond the realm where it is sensible to use. What Bostrom also leaves out is, that the quality of a human life cannot be averaged easily. The Quality is very much biased with a heavy weight on the later parts. It is easy to be a good kid, but it is extremely hard to stay good (remain a high quality of life) the older you get. The quality of a life of our best leaders and scientists could easily be diminished to a negative outcome, if after having received the peace Nobel prize they went on a killing spree or were caught on Epstein’s Island molesting minors. Take a person like Ted Kaczynski, who was a math prodigy, we would certainly evaluate the quality of his life more favorable, if after being incarcerated he would have won the fields medal, wrote a book about the error of his terrorist ways, and reintegrated into society. Instead of an Evil Genius story his life would have become a heroic redemption arc.

Many of our most compelling stories are tales of hardship and tragedy. The events that these stories portray would cease to occur in utopia. I am inclined to say tough luck to the tragedy-lover. Or rather: feel free to get your fix from fantasy, or from history—only, please, do not insist on cooking your gruesome entertainment in a cauldron of interminable calamity and never-ending bad news! It is true that good books and films have been inspired by wars and atrocities. It would have been better if these wars and atrocities had not occurred, and we had not had these books and films. The same applies at the personal scale. People coping with the loss of a child, dementia, abject poverty, cancer, depression, severe abuse: I submit it would be worth giving up a lot of good stories to get rid of those harms. If that makes our lives less meaningful, so be it.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (S.424)

Here Bostrom seems to fight against the intuition that suffering is a valid value vector in a plastic meaningfulness-space. He is effectively saying that if your mission requires suffering [of others] it is not worth the effort. A stark contradiction to his own statements earlier where he recognizes that suffering can enhance the quality of our experiences dramatically. Even in a thought experiment that says, if humans would not ever have killed each other than literature would have never got Tolstoy’s War and Peace and that is okay. There is an endless list of human achievements that caused extreme suffering like the Manhattan Project. Nobody in their right mind would say that the Atomic Bombs on Japan were justified since we got a good movie like Oppenheimer out of it. You are not a tragedy lover if you are moved by the picture. Bostrom says in a plastic world there should not be any suffering, because it is better to have a history or a chain of events where no mistakes happen, then to learn from our mistakes and making it part of our culture. With such an absolutist view we could very well end in a Plastic Utopia where Suffering is forbidden, or simply -like in so many current dictatorial states- ignored. If the absence of suffering trumps all other values than we would end up with toxic wellbeing scenario.

Some things we enjoy doing. Other things we enjoy having done. Meaningful activities tend to fall into the latter category.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (S.438).

This is a great observation. An argument for potential suffering and against hedonism if we value meaning more than well-being. A variation: what comes easy goes easy. Only the hard stuff stays with us. The surface pleasures do not reach deep into our core.

A purpose P is the meaning of person S’s life if and only if: (i) P is encompassing for S; (ii) S has strong reason to embrace P; and (iii) the reason is derived from a context of justification that is external to S’s mundane existence.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (S.441).

The Swiss Author Ludwig Hohl has an equally good definition for how to achieve purpose. Central to his thinking is the term “Work”: Work is always an inner process, and it must always be directed outward. Activity that is not directed outward is not work; activity that is not an inner event is not work.

Could there also be unrealized subjective meaning? Yes, I think we can make sense of such a notion. An example might be a person with an exceptional talent and passion for music, who embraces the purpose of composing great music either because they think that this is inherently deeply valuable activity or because they hope to produce a work of such tremendous power that it will heal the cultural chasms that separate us from one another and lead to conflict and war. So, this gives them subjective meaning. We can suppose that they burn with fervor to pursue this purpose throughout their life, but that circumstances conspire to prevent them from ever actually doing any composing— they face grinding poverty, conscription into the army, personal emergencies. We could then say that their life had unrealized subjective meaning.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (S.458).

This is one of Bostrom’s more futile thought experiments. It is especially unconvincing because Bostrom uses external circumstances to give this gifted musician a way out to never actualize her potential. As with life talent should always find a way. Look at the seemingly idiotic circumstances that led Galois to his final pistol duel, a lesser mathematician would simply never have had the urgency to draft down his mathematical results the night before. Or look at the life of Hawking: a lesser physician would have surrendered to the illness without ever trying to achieve greatness. I remember in his Autobiography he explicitly credited his illness and the ticking of his time running out for the fact that he went from being a lazy physicist to becoming an actually great one. If something is your mission, and things and circumstances prevent you from achieving it you will make overcoming the circumstances your mission. With great potential comes great preparedness.

The right path is the unfolding of the fullest activity that is possible for us. The fullest: measured by our capabilities (our conditions) and by the effect on others (ourselves as well as others). A little knitting won’t suffice (or one who is content with that must be a sad creature). Do the circumstances hinder you in the unfolding of your activity? Then work towards changing the circumstances, and you will find your activity in that. (Ludwig Hohl, Nuances and Details II, 11)

Consider the following imaginary character. Grasscounter is a human being who has devoted himself to counting blades of grass on the College lawn. He spends his whole days in this occupation. As soon as he completes a count, he starts over—the number of blades, after all, might have changed in the interim. This is Grasscounter’s great passion in life, and his top goal is to keep as accurate an estimate as possible. He takes great joy and satisfaction in being fairly successful in this endeavor. The objectivist and hybrid accounts that we find in the literature would say that Grasscounter’s life is meaningless; whereas subjectivist accounts would say that it is meaningful.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (S.461)

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Automatisch generierte Beschreibung

While reading I get immediately reminded of the Hodor Event in Game of Thrones. Throughout the story the stuttering of the Word “Hodor” has absolutely no meaning, subjective, objective or otherwise. It is a phrase the mentally retarded giant stutters whenever he is addressed. Only much later we learn of the true meaning of the phrase and suddenly the Phrase, as an abbreviation of the sentence Ho[ld the] do[o]r!, becomes one of the most meaningful words in the whole epic story. The meaning was always there, but we as observers could not decipher it. Bostrom later denies that Grasscounter could ever have objective meaning since his act seems pointless:

[Grasscounter] would not, however, have meaning in the more objectivist sense that requires the encompassing purpose to be one which the person “would desire if he were perfectly psychologically healthy and well-adapted”.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (S.462)

What about the possibility of this person having secret knowledge, that grabby aliens will one day arrive and since they have a gambling addiction, before conquering a world they always give their prey a single chance to be spared. In the case of earth, earthlings can save themselves if one among them knows the exact number of blades of grass on a certain lawn…now which life and activity has suddenly achieved more meaning than probably anything else up to this point?


Bostrom is known for coining new terms. Here are some of his newest.

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Astronomical Petri Dish: Observable Universe

Computronium: a nanomechanical device which solves the Landauer limit of energy efficiency during computation.

Plasticity: The state of a technological mature world, that has affordances that make it easy to achieve any preferred local configuration. [My version of a Technology of Everything or Clarke-Capability]

Let us say that we have some quantity of basic physical resources: a room full of various kinds of atoms and some source of energy. We also have some preferences about how these resources should be organized: we wish that the atoms in the room should be arranged so as to constitute a desk, a computer, a well-drafted fireplace, and a puppy labradoodle. In a fully plastic world, it would be possible to simply speak a command—a sentence in natural language expressing the desire—and, voila, the contents in the room would be swiftly and automatically reorganized into the preferred configuration. Perhaps you need to wait twenty minutes, and perhaps there is a bit of waste heat escaping through the walls: but, when you open the door, you find that everything is set up precisely as you wished. There is even a vase with fresh-cut tulips on the desk, something you didn’t explicitly ask for but which was somehow implicit in your request.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (S.196-197)

Autopotency: Ability to use Plasticity for self-configuration.

An autopotent being is one that has complete power over itself, including its internal states. It has the requisite technology, and the know-how to use it, to reconfigure itself as it sees fit, both physically and mentally. Thus, a person who is autopotent could readily redesign herself to feel instant and continuous joy, or to become absorbingly fascinated by stamp collecting, or to assume the shape of a lion.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (S.197)

Total Welfare function: Objective Measurement of Subjective Wellbeing

AI completeness: A task which requires human-level artificial general intelligence. (Mind uploading or Autopotency are most likely AI complete)

Aesthetic neutrinos: The possibility that our experience filters are too insensitive to experience countless breathtaking moments in the environment, the pervasive sheer beauty of being.

Timesuit: Protective Coating to shield the Biological Body from time induced decay

Diachronic Solidarity: Prospective and retrospective emotional connection with forebearers and descendants

Karma Coin: An option package of highly desirable goods and services like a happy afterlife, true love, profound knowledge, enlightenment, closeness to the divine). Investing in a Karma coin currency is a way to discover and share meaning with others. It is like a Bitcoin for Purpose. I am not sure if Bostrom is kidding. At the stage of Plasticity this Coin will lose all its value. It could be a guiding light on the way there, maybe.

Intrinsification: The process whereby something initially desired as a means to some end eventually comes to be desired for its own sake as an end in itself.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (S.234)

ETP: short for Encompassing Transcendental Purpose. The Meaning of an individual life.

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Automatisch generierte BeschreibungUtility Monsters: beings that are enormously more efficient in deriving well-being from resources than we are.

Enchanted World: A Way of life, where knowledge enrichens the participation of a universal Reality on multiple Layers. Where Solving Problems and Puzzles do not diminish our joy and sense of wonder but enhance them.

(…) meaning may be enhanced when a way of life is enmeshed in a tapestry of rich symbolic significance—when it is imbued with myths, morals, traditions, ideals, and perhaps even omens, spirits, magic, and occult or esoteric knowledges; and, more generally, when a life transects multilayered realities replete with agencies, intentions, and spiritual phenomena.

Bostrom, Nick. Deep Utopia: Life and Meaning in a Solved World (S.433)

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[Mount Bostrom is almost climbed. Only one last part left. Coming soon]

A Technology of Everything – 4: Scientific Spiritism & Precise Prophecy

Reading Time: 13 minutes

Fiction and Reality

I awoke today with a sentence stuck in my mind.

Fantasie bedeutet sich das Zukünftige richtig vorzustellen.

Imagination means properly envisioning the future.

I was sure I read it a long time ago, but could not quite think of the author, but my best guess was the Swiss writer Ludwig Hohl and after some recherche I finally found the not quite literal passage.

What I understand by imagination – the highest human activity – (…) is the ability to correctly envision another situation. (…) ‘Correct’ here is what withstands the practical test.

(The Notes, XII.140)

The most important thing about imagination is contained in these two sentences:

1.Imagination is the ability to correctly envision distant (different) circumstances – not incorrectly, as is often assumed (because anyone could do that).

2.Imagination is not, as is often assumed, a luxury, but one of the most important tools for human salvation, for life.

(The Notes XII.57)

The Phantastic and the Prophetic (Predictive) Mind draw from the same source, but with different Instruments and Intentions.

Fiction and Reality: Both valid states of the mind. Reality does what Simulation imagines.

Visions are controlled Hallucinations.

Own Experiences

In 2004, I penned an unpublished novel titled “The Goldberg Variant.” In it, I explored the notion of a Virtual Person, a recreation of an individual based on their body of work, analyzed and recreated by machine intelligence. Schubert 2.0 was one of the characters, an AI-powered android modeled after the original Schubert, interestingly I came up with the term Trans-Person, which I then borrowed from Grofs transpersonal psychology, not even imagining the identity wars of the present. This android lived in a replicated 19th-century Vienna and continued to compose music. This setting, much like the TV series Westworld, allowed human visitors to immerse themselves in another time.

I should note that from ages 8 to 16, I was deeply engrossed in science fiction. It’s possible that these readings influenced my later writings, even if I wasn’t consciously drawing from them.

Within the same novel, a storyline unfolds where one of the characters becomes romantically involved with an AI. The emotional maturation of this AI becomes a central theme. My book touched on many points that resonate with today’s discussions on AI alignment, stemming from my two-decade-long research into AI and extensive sci-fi readings.

The novel’s titular character experiences a unique form of immortality. Whenever the music J.S. Bach composed for him is played, he is metaphorically resurrected. Yet, this gift also torments him, leading him on a violent journey through time.

Years later, I came across the term “ancestor simulation” by Nick Bostrom. More recently, I read about the origins of one of the first AI companion apps, conceived from the desire to digitally resurrect a loved one. I believe Ray Kurzweil once expressed a similar sentiment, hoping to converse with a digital representation of his late father using AI trained on his father’s writings and recordings. Just today, I heard Jordan Peterson discussing a concept eerily similar to mine.

Kurzweils track record

Predictions Ray Kurzweil Got Right Over the Last 25 Years:

1. In 1990, he predicted that a computer would defeat a world chess champion by 1998. IBM’s Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov in 1997.

2. He predicted that PCs would be capable of answering queries by accessing information wirelessly via the Internet by 2010.

3. By the early 2000s, exoskeletal limbs would let the disabled walk. Companies like Ekso Bionics have developed such technology.

4. In 1999, he predicted that people would be able to talk to their computer to give commands by 2009. Technologies like Apple’s Siri and Google Now emerged.

5. Computer displays would be built into eyeglasses for augmented reality by 2009. Google started experimenting with Google Glass prototypes in 2011.

6. In 2005, he predicted that by the 2010s, virtual solutions would do real-time language translation. Microsoft’s Skype Translate and Google Translate are examples.

Ray’s Predictions for the Next 25 Years:

1. By the late 2010s, glasses will beam images directly onto the retina. Ten terabytes of computing power will cost about $1,000.

2. By the 2020s, most diseases will go away as nanobots become smarter than current medical technology. Normal human eating can be replaced by nanosystems. The Turing test begins to be passable. Self-driving cars begin to take over the roads.

3. By the 2030s, virtual reality will begin to feel 100% real. We will be able to upload our mind/consciousness by the end of the decade.

4. By the 2040s, non-biological intelligence will be a billion times more capable than biological intelligence. Nanotech foglets will be able to make food out of thin air and create any object.

5. By 2045, we will multiply our intelligence a billionfold by linking wirelessly from our neocortex to a synthetic neocortex in the cloud.

These predictions are based on Kurzweil’s understanding of the power of Moore’s Law and the exponential growth of technologies. It’s important to note that while some of these predictions may seem far-fetched, Kurzweil has a track record of making accurate predictions in the past.

It’s fascinating how someone like Kurzweil displayed what seems like clairvoyance with his predictions about the Singularity Now, looking back, it almost feels supernatural. When I learned that Jordan Peterson had embarked on a project training an AI using the “Spirit of the King James Bible” to engage in conversation, I was reminded of the notion that Science and Religion might be parallel paths that intersect in the infinite.

Kurzweil’s case is particularly intriguing because his own assessment of his predictions significantly diverges from the public‘s perspective. He should have predicted that too, obviously.

When we pass away, is it a form of resurrection every time someone refers to our writings? The idea that we persist in others’ memories could be more than just a metaphor. What happens if, long after my physical body and mind have succumbed to the passage of time, my descendants consult my digital avatar about the era when Artificial General Intelligence first emerged?

Vernes Track Record

It is astounding how many Predictions Jules Verne the Father of Sci-Fi got right: It practically seems that he could see well over a century in the future. It is also interesting that he did not seem to get the timeline right, he was way too conservative to see the exponential curve of technologies that bootstrap from each other.

When exploring this topic with ChatGPT it came up with the following list:

Jules Verne, known as the father of science fiction, was a French novelist who wrote in the 19th century. His works are full of imaginative inventions that were far ahead of his time. Some of these have since become reality, while others remain purely speculative. Here are ten such inventions, with their modern counterparts and an assessment of their accuracy:

Electric Submarines – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1870): Verne’s submarine, the Nautilus, was powered by electricity long before real submarines were. The first fully functional and practical submarines were indeed powered by diesel and electricity, but that wasn’t until the early 20th century. This was a remarkably accurate prediction. Accuracy: 90% (The only real difference is that the Nautilus was far more advanced than early real-life submarines.)

Newscasts – In the Year 2889 (1889): Verne imagined a world where news was delivered to individual homes via technology. Today, we have 24-hour news channels, internet news sites, and social media feeds. Accuracy: 100%

Video Conferencing – In the Year 2889 (1889): Verne predicted a device he called a “phonotelephote,” which allowed for “the transmission of images by means of sensitive mirrors connected by wires.” This is remarkably similar to our video conferencing technology today. Accuracy: 100%

Lunar Modules – From the Earth to the Moon (1865): Verne wrote about a capsule that could carry passengers to the moon. This became a reality in 1969 when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. However, Verne’s method of propulsion (a giant cannon) was not accurate. Accuracy: 70% (The concept of a vehicle traveling to the moon was correct, but the propulsion method was not.)

Tasers – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1870): Verne describes a hunting rifle that shoots electric bullets in this book. Today, we have Tasers that incapacitate targets using electricity. Accuracy: 80% (While a Taser isn’t a rifle, it does deliver an electric charge to a target, which aligns with Verne’s concept.)

Helicopters – Robur the Conqueror (1886): Verne describes a flying machine that uses propellers to create lift. While the real-world helicopter came about differently and had many more challenges to overcome than Verne’s model, the basic concept was there. Accuracy: 60% (The basic principle of lift from rotary wings was correct, but the implementation was oversimplified.)

Electrically Lit Cities – Paris in the Twentieth Century (1863): Verne predicted cities would be lit by electricity, which became true with the widespread use of electric lighting. Accuracy: 100%

Skywriting – Five Weeks in a Balloon (1863): Verne describes a scenario in which messages are written in the sky, a precursor to today’s skywriting. Accuracy: 100%

The Internet – Paris in the Twentieth Century (1863): Verne describes a global network of computers that enables instant communication. This could be seen as a prediction of the internet, but the way it functions and its role in society are not very accurate. Accuracy: 50% (The existence of a global communication network is correct, but the specifics are quite different.)

Sidenote: I heard an anecdote that Edison would put himself in a kind of hypnagogic trance to come up with new inventions, he had a scribe with him that was writing down what he murmured in this state.

Bush’s Track Record

Vannevar Bush’s essay “As We May Think,” was published in The Atlantic in 1945.

“As We May Think” is a seminal article envisioning the future of information technology. It introduces several groundbreaking ideas.

Associative Trails and Linking: Bush discusses the idea of associative indexing, noting that the human mind operates by association. With one item in its grasp, it snaps instantly to the next that is suggested by the association of thoughts. He describes a system in which every piece of information is linked to other relevant information, allowing a user to navigate through data in a non-linear way. This is quite similar to the concept of hyperlinks in today’s world wide web.

Augmenting Human Intellect: Bush proposes that the use of these new tools and technologies will augment human intellect and memory by freeing the mind from the tyranny of the past, making all knowledge available and usable. It will enable us to use our brains more effectively by removing the need to memorize substantial amounts of information.

Lems Track record

The main difference between Nostradamus, the oracle of Delphi and actual Prophets is that we get to validate their predictions.

Take Stanislaw Lem:

E-books: Lem wrote about a device similar to an e-book reader in his 1961 novel “Return from the Stars”. He described an “opton”, which is a device that stores content in crystals and displays it on a single page that can be changed with a touch, much like an e-book reader today​.

Audiobooks: In the same novel, he also introduced the concept of “lectons” – devices that read out loud and could be adjusted according to the desired voice, tempo, and modulation, which closely resemble today’s audiobooks​.

Internet: In 1957, Lem predicted the formation of interconnected computer networks in his book “Dialogues”. He envisaged the amalgamation of IT machines and memory banks leading to the creation of large-scale computer networks, which is akin to the internet we know today​.

Search Engines: In his 1955 novel “The Magellanic Cloud”, Lem described a massive virtual database accessible through radio waves, known as the “Trion Library”. This description is strikingly similar to modern search engines like Google​.

Smartphones: In the same book, Lem also predicted a portable device that provides instant access to the Trion Library’s data, similar to how smartphones provide access to internet-based information today​.

3D Printing: Lem described a process in “The Magellanic Cloud” that is similar to 3D printing, where a device uses a ‘product recipe’ to create objects, much like how 3D printers use digital files today​.

Simulation Games: Lem’s novel “The Cyberiad” is said to have inspired Will Wright, the creator of the popular simulation game “The Sims”. The novel features a character creating a microworld in a box, a concept that parallels the creation and control of a simulated environment in “The Sims”​.

Virtual Reality: Lem conceptualized “fantomatons”, machines that can create alternative realities almost indistinguishable from the actual ones, in his 1964 book “Summa Technologiae”. This is very similar to the concept of virtual reality (VR) as we understand it today​. Comparing Lem’s “fantomaton” to today’s VR, we can see a striking resemblance. The fantomaton was a machine capable of generating alternative realities that were almost indistinguishable from the real world, much like how VR immerses users in a simulated environment. As of 2022, VR technology has advanced significantly, with devices like Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 leading the market. The VR industry continues to grow, with over 13.9 million VR headsets expected to ship in 2022, and sales projected to surpass 20 million units in 2023​.

Borges’ Track record

Also, Jorge Luis Borges is not known as a classic sci fi author many of his stories can be understood as parables of current technological breakthroughs.

Jorge Luis Borges was a master of metaphors and allegories, crafting intricate and thought-provoking stories that have been analyzed for their philosophical and conceptual implications. Two of his most notable works in this context are “On Exactitude in Science” and “The Library of Babel”​​.

“On Exactitude in Science” describes an empire where the science of cartography becomes so exact that only a map on the same scale as the empire itself would suffice. This story has been seen as an allegory for simulation and representation, illustrating the tension between a model and the reality it seeks to capture. It’s about the idea of creating a perfect replica of reality, which eventually becomes indistinguishable from reality itself​.

“The Library of Babel” presents a universe consisting of an enormous expanse of hexagonal rooms filled with books. These books contain every possible ordering of a set of basic characters, meaning that they encompass every book that has been written, could be written, or might be written with slight permutations. While this results in a vast majority of gibberish, the library must also contain all useful information, including predictions of the future and biographies of any person. However, this abundance of information renders most of it useless due to the inability to find relevant or meaningful content amidst the overwhelming chaos​​.

These stories certainly bear some resemblance to the concept of large language models (LLMs) like GPT-3. LLMs are trained on vast amounts of data and can generate a near-infinite combination of words and sentences, much like the books in the Library of Babel. However, just as in Borges’ story, the vastness of possible outputs can also lead to nonsensical or irrelevant responses, reflecting the challenge of finding meaningful information in the glut of possibilities.

As for the story of the perfect map, it could be seen as analogous to the aspiration of creating a perfect model of human language and knowledge that LLMs represent. Just as the map in the story became the same size as the territory it represented, LLMs are models that aim to capture the vast complexity of human language and knowledge, creating a mirror of reality in a sense.

Borges also wrote a piece titled “Ramón Llull’s Thinking Machine” in 1937, where he described and interpreted the machine created by Ramon Llull, a 13th-century Catalan poet and theologian.

The machine that Borges describes is a conceptual tool, a sort of diagram or mechanism for generating ideas or knowledge. The simplest form of Llull’s machine, as described by Borges, was a circle divided nine times. Each division was marked with a letter that stood for an attribute of God, such as goodness, greatness, eternity, power, wisdom, love, virtue, truth, and glory. All of these attributes were considered inherent and systematically interrelated, and the diagram served as a tool to contemplate and generate various combinations of these attributes.

Borges then describes a more elaborate version of the machine, consisting of three concentric, manually revolving disks made of wood or metal, each with fifteen or twenty compartments. The idea was that these disks could be spun to create a multitude of combinations, as a method of applying chance to the resolution of a problem. Borges uses the example of determining the “true” color of a tiger, assigning a color to each letter and spinning the disks to create a combination. Despite the potentially absurd or contradictory results this could produce, Borges notes that adherents of Llull’s system remained confident in its ability to reveal truths, recommending the simultaneous deployment of many such combinatory machines.

Llull’s own intention with this system was to create a universal language using a logical combination of terms, to assist in theological debates and other intellectual pursuits. His work culminated in the completion of “Ars generalis ultima” (The Ultimate General Art) in 1308, in which he employed this system of rotating disks to generate combinations of concepts. Llull believed that there were a limited number of undeniable truths in all fields of knowledge, and by studying all combinations of these elementary truths, humankind could attain the ultimate truth.

14 Entertaining Predictions for the next 3 years

At this point I will make some extremely specific predictions about the future, especially the entertainment industry. In 2026 I will revisit this blog and check how I did.

2023: Music Industry

1.Paul McCartney releases a song either by or in tribute to John Lennon, co-created with AI.

2024: Music Industry

2. A new global copyright regulation titled “The Human Creative Labor Act” will be introduced, safeguarding human creators against unauthorized use of their work. This act will serve as a pivotal test for human-centered AI governance.

3.Various platforms will emerge with the primary intention of procuring works from deceased artists not yet in the public domain.

4.The music industry, in collaboration with the estates of deceased artists, will produce their inaugural artificial albums. These albums will utilize the voices and styles of late pop stars, starting with Michael Jackson.

5.The industry will launch AI-rendered renditions of cover songs, such as Michael Jackson performing Motown hits from the 1950s or Elvis singing contemporary tracks.

6.Post the demise of any celebrated artist, labels will instantly secure rights to produce cover albums using AI-trained voice models of the artist.

2025: Music Industry

7. Bands will initiate tours featuring AI-generated vocal models of their deceased lead singers. A prime example could be Queen touring with an AI rendition of Freddie Mercury’s voice.

2023: Film Industry

8. Harrison Ford and Will Smith will appear on screen as flawless, younger versions of themselves.

2024: Film Industry

9. As they retire, several film stars will license their digital likenesses (voice, motion capture, etc.) to movie studios. Potential candidates include Harrison Ford, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael J. Fox, Bill Murray, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Tom Cruise.

10.Movie studios will announce continuations of iconic franchises.

11.Film classics will undergo meticulous restoration, enhancing visuals to 8K and upgrading audio to crisp Dolby Digital. Probable candidates: The original Star Wars Trilogy and classic Disney animations such as Snow White and Pinocchio.

2025: Film Industry

12. Netflix will introduce a feature allowing users to select from a library of actors and visualize their favorite films starring those actors. For instance, viewers could opt for Sean Connery as James Bond across all Bond films, experiencing an impeccable cinematic illusion.

2026: Film Industry

13. Netflix will offer a premium service enabling viewers to superimpose their faces onto their preferred series’ characters, for an additional fee.

2025: Entertainment/Business Industry

14. Select artists and individuals will design and market a virtual persona. This persona will be tradeable on stock exchanges, granting investors an opportunity to acquire shares. A prime candidate is Elon Musk. Shareholders in “Elon-bot” could access a dedicated app for one-on-one interactions. The AI, underpinned by a sophisticated language model from x.ai, will be trained on Elon’s tweets, interviews, and public comments.