Putting Our Heads Together

2019-03-07T03:22:16.000Z Honest Cash

My post in the Futurology subreddit.


Lots of sci-fi robots argue with each other. Is this plausible?

Imagine five blind robots touching different parts of an elephant. Maybe at least initially they are arguing about what they are touching, but if they are moderately intelligent then one of them will quickly suggest that they put their heads together. Networking their brains will allow each robot to feel what all the other robots are feeling. Essentially they will transform into a super-robot with more hands, brains and information than any of the individual robots. This super-robot’s superior grasp of reality will allow it to quickly reach the correct conclusion.

Most sci-fi robots don’t seem to see the merits of putting their heads together. The biggest exception is the Borg.

Actually, arguing itself is simply a primitive way for individuals to put their heads together. So the Borg see the merits of more effectively putting their heads together.

Let’s do a better job of putting our heads together? That sure sounds pretty reasonable. The devil is in the details.

It isn’t likely that each Borg continually sees/hears/feels what all the other Borg are seeing/hearing/feeling. If there are a million Borg, for each one it would be like trying to watch a million screens at the same time. It would be the epitome of information overload.

Therefore… prioritization.

The way it works for a beehive is that, when a forager finds a particularly valuable flower patch, she transmits this information to the other bees by dancing. Since she perceives the patch to be so valuable, she will dance very energetically for it, and her willingness to sacrifice so many of her precious calories for the patch will persuade the onlooking bees that they should take the time and make the effort to inspect it for themselves.

Essentially, the bees use spending to rank things. Here on Reddit though we use voting to rank things.

Spending and voting are very different things, so they can’t be equally effective at putting our heads together.

Right now the Libertarian Party is using donations to rank potential convention themes. How differently would the themes have been ranked by voting? Would they have been better ranked?

Some of you have probably heard of Boaty McBoatface. Would a better name have been selected if voting had been replaced with donating?

Compare the top-ranked content on Youtube to the top-ranked content on Honest Cash. The highest ranked story on HC is about crypto, the second ranked story is about a guy who donates his programming skills to worthy crypto projects, and the third ranked story is about censorship (the author cites J.S. Mill).

What are the top-ranked Youtube videos about? Pewdiepie playing video games? Rap music videos?

Democracies and markets are two very different systems for groups of people to collectively grasp reality, but each system highlights very different parts of reality, so the conclusions are very different. Which conclusion is correct?

Recently I offered to bet the economist Bryan Caplan $100 bucks that, within 5 years, market social websites (MSWs ie Honest Cash) will, or will not, replace democratic social websites (DSWs ie Reddit) as the dominant platform. I am willing to bet him $100 bucks either way. It would be very information to see whether he is willing to bet on, or against, MSWs. If he doesn’t want to bet at all, then this will also be informative.

Anybody a fan of Isaac Arthur?

Nonetheless there are tons of examples of good hive minds in science fiction, especially when telepathy seemed to be an omnipresent feature even in hard science fiction novels, a trend I’m glad finally died off in the last couple decades, but common or not, rarely do I hear folks speaking of them with enthusiasm. Pretty much the only member of a Hive Mind in fiction I like is Nevil Clavain from the Revelation Space series, it probably helps that he’s a viewpoint character who joined semi-voluntarily, never upgrades his implants from the earlier versions that were less connected, and is often on bad terms with his own faction, the Conjoiners, so he doesn’t exactly cheerlead for them. They also don’t indiscriminately spread and assimilate folks involuntarily either. Interestingly Clavain’s faction in the books is often in conflict with the other faction of humanity that is closest to being a hive mind too, the Demarchists. They are more of a bunch of intelligences who are networked, so to speak, as like most people they have a ton of mental implants but one of theirs, and the key one for their specific civilization, is one that tries to go straight democracy, no representatives, by having everyone vote on almost everything. Sort of like if every bill in congress got text messaged to you for a vote, only as best I can tell the implants allow them to do it mostly subconsciously and even asleep. I’m assuming the implants in everyone’s head know them individually well enough to guess how they’d respond.

Forgetting the specific mechanics, that is kind of the idea of most versions of democracy and its parallels, everyone gets a say in what happens because everyone has an investment in the outcome and a right to self-determination, so networking folks to make news and details easier to get and absorb to make more informed decisions seems ideal. Obviously taken too far you get a hive mind where nobody gets any say in anything because there’s no individuality leftover. — Isaac Arthur, Hive Minds

Arthur would be a lot higher ranked if Youtube was a MSW instead of a DSW.

Responses