Recent Ph.D. in physics from MIT, Complex Systems enthusiast, AI researcher, digital nomad. http://pchvykov.com

Wiki Contributions


Thanks for expanding on this stuff - really nice discussion!

Yeah that stock-market analogy is quite tantalizing - and I like the breadth that it could apply to.

For your discussion on "unnatural" - sure, I agree with the sentiment - but it's the question of how to formalize this all so that it can produce a testable, falsifiable theory that I'm unclear on. Poetically it's all great - and I enjoy reading philosophical treatise on this - but they always leave me wanting, as I don't get something to hold onto at the end, something I can directly and tangeably apply to decision-making. 

For your last paragraph, yeah that emphasis on "relational" perspective of reality is what I'm trying to build up and formalize in this post. And yes, it's a bit hypocritical to say that "ultimately reality is relational" ;P

Great points - I'm more-or-less on-board with everything you say. Ontology in QM I think is quite inherently murky - so I try to avoid talking about "what're really real" (although personally I find the Relational QM perspective on this to be most clear - and with some handwaving I could carry it over to QD I think). 

Social quantum darwinism - yeah, sounds about right. And yeah, the word "quantum" is a bit ambiguous here - it's a bit of a political choice whether to use it or avoid it. Although besides superpositions and tensor products, quantum cognition also includes collapse - and that's now taking quite a few (yes, not all!) ingredients from the quantum playbook to warrant the name?

There can never be an "objective consensus" about what happens in the bomb cavity,

Ah, nice catch - I see your point now, quite interesting. Now I'm curious whether this bomb-testing setup makes trouble for other quantum foundation frameworks too...? As for QD, I think we could make it work - here is a first attempt, let me know what you think (honestly, I'm just using decoherence here, nothing else):

If the bomb is 'live', then the two paths will quickly entangle many degree of freedom of the environment, and so you can't get reproducible records that involve interference between the two branches. If the bomb is "dud", then the two paths remain contained to the system, and can interfere before making copies of the measurement outcomes. 

Honestly, I have a bit of trouble arguing about quantum foundation approaches since they all boil down to the same empirical prediction (sort of by definition), most are inherently not falsifiable - so ultimately feel like a personal preference of what argumentation you find convincing.

Is it not the difference between having intrinsic probability in your definition of reproducibility and not having it?

I just meant that good-old scientific method is what we used to prove classical mechanics, statistical mechanics, and QM. In either case, it's a matter of anyone repeating the experiment getting the same outcome - whether this outcome is "ball rolls down" or "ball rolls down 20% of the time".  I'm trying to see if we can say something in cases where no outcome is quite reproducible - probabilistic outcome or otherwise. Knightian uncertainty is one way this could happen. Another is cases where we may be able to say something more than "I don't know, so it's 50-50", but where that's the only truly reproducible statement. 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts - cool ideas!

Yes, I've actually thought that human interactions may be well modeled as a stock-market... never actually looked into whether this has been done though. And yes, maybe such model could be framed using this network-type setup I described... could be interesting - what if different cliques have different 'stock' valuation?

"...the more unnatural said law is." - the word 'natural' is a bit of a can of worms... I guess your statement could be viewed as an interesting definition of 'natural'? E.g., in nonequilibrium stat mech you can quantify a lower-bound on energy expenditure to keep something away from the equilibrium distribution. E.g., I've thought of applying this to quantify minimum welfare spending needed to keep social inequality below some value. But here maybe you're thinking more general? I just think 'natural' or 'real self' are really slippery notions to define. E.g., is all life inherently unnatural since it requires energy expenditure to exist?

"As if the brain experiences a linear combination of conflicting things." - that's precisely the sort of observations that Quantum Cognition models using quantum-like state-vectors. And precisely the sort of thing this framework I'm describing could help to explain perhaps. 

"It feels sort of like a set trying to put itself inside itself?" - nice one! And there was a time when ancient Greek philosophers conclusively 'proved' to themselves the impossibility of ever fully understanding what matter is made of, and figured it's better to spend time on moral philosophy. Now, the former is basically solved, and the latter is still very much open. So I don't buy into no-go theorems much...

Thanks for your comments! I'm having a bit of trouble clearly seeing your core points here - so forgive me if I misinterpret, or address something that wasn't core to your argument.

To the first part, I feel like we need to clearly separate QM itself (Copenhagen), different Quantum Foundation theories, and Quantum Darwinism specifically.  What I was saying is specifically about how Quantum Darwinism views things (in my understanding) - and since interpretations of QM are trying to be more fundamental than QM itself (since QM should be derived from them), we can't use QM arguments here. So QD says that (alive, dead) is the complete list because of consensus (i.e., in this view, there isn't anything more fundamental than consensus). 

I don't think I agree with (or don't understand what you mean by) "including the superposition of dead and alive leads to actual physical consequences" - bomb-testing result is consequence of standard QM, so it doesn't prove anything "new."


To the second part, I implicitly meant that reproducibility could mean wither deterministic (reproducibility of a specific outcome), or statistical (reproducibility of a probability of an outcome over many realizations) - I don't really see those two as fundamentally different. In either case, we think of objective truth (whether probabilistic or deterministic) as something derived from reproducible - so, for example, excluding Knightian uncertainty. 

Re: "so you're telling me that if we kill everyone who we don't like, that means our values are objectively good?" - winners write history, so I think yes, that is how people view Darwinism, selection of values, and I think implicitly our values are derived from this thinking (though no-one will ever admit to this). The modern values of tolerance I think still come from this same thinking - just with the additional understanding that diverse societies tend to win-out over homogeneous societies. So we transition from individual Darwinism, to group Darwinism - but still keep Darwinism as our way to arrive at values. 

Adding memetic Darwinism on top of this may qualitatively change the landscape, I believe. 

Thanks for those references - definitely an interesting way to quantitatively study these things, will look in more detail.

I appreciate the care and support there :)
Honestly, I never really looked at my karma score and wasn't sure how that works. I think that helps.  The reason I post on here is because I find the engagement encouraging (even when negative) - like comments, evidence of people reading and thinking about my stuff. The worst is when no-one has read it at all. 

On the other hand, I agree that becoming a echo-chamber is a very possible danger, and goes deeply against LessWrong values - and I definitely have a sense that it's happening at least to some extent. I have a couple posts that got large negative scores for reasons that I think were more cultural than factual.

Still, it shouldn't be on readers to caretake for the writer's karma - I think your suggestion should be directed at whoever maintains this site, to update their karma calculation system. As for me, since engagement is encouraging, I'd love to see voting history of my posts - not just the final score (this article had quite some ups and downs over the last few days - I'd be curious to see it in detail). 

yeah, that could be a cleaner line of argument, I agree - though I think I'd need to rewrite the whole thing. 

For testable predictions... I could at least see models of extreme cases - purely physical or purely memetic selection - and perhaps being able to find real-world example where one or the other or neither is a good description. That could be fun

Interesting point - that adds a whole other layer of complexity to the argument, which feels a bit daunting to me to even start dissecting. 
Still, could we say that in the standard formulation of Darwinian selection, where only the "fittest" survives, the victim is really considered to be dead and gone? I think that at least in the model of Darwinism this is the case. So my goal in this post is to push back on this model. You give a slightly different angle to also push back on this model. I.e., whether intentional or accidental, when one culture defeats another, it takes on attributes of the victim - and therefore some aspects of the victim live on, modifying the dynamics of "natural selection."

As to whether it's a good thing - well, the whole post starts on moral relativism, so I don't want to suddenly bring in moral judgements at this point. It's an interesting question, and I think you could make the argument either way. 

Thanks for your comment! 
From this and other comments, I get the feeling I didn't make my goal clear: I'm trying to see if there is any objective way to define progress / values (starting from assuming moral relativism). I'm not tryin to make any claim as to what these values should be. Darwinian argument is the only one I've encountered that made sense to me - and so here I'm pushing back on it a bit - but maybe there are other good ways to objectively define values? 
Imho, we tend to implicitly ground many of our values in this Darwinian perspective - hence I think it's an important topic. 

I like what you point out about the distinction between prescriptive vs descriptive values here. Within moral relativism, I guess there is nothing to say about prescriptive values at all. So yes, Darwinism can only comment on descriptive values. 

However, I don't think this is quite the same as the fallacies you mention. "Might makes right" (Darwinian) is not the same as "natural makes right" - natural is a series of historical accidents, while survival of the fittest is a theoretical construct (with the caveat that at the scale of nations, number of conflicts is small, so historical accidents could become important in determining "fittest"). Similarly, "fittest" as determined by who survives seems like an objective fact, rather than a mind projection (with the caveat that an "individual" may be a mind projection - but I think that's a bit deeper). 

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