Xerographica

Why does the brain have a reward prediction error? (Paywall) Mark Humphries wrote that story, I replied, he replied, I replied… **************************************************************** The dogs at a show could be ranked by… 1. a small committee of experts (socialism) 2. everybody voting (democracy) 3. everybody donating any amount (market) With the last one all the money could be given to the Human Society, for example. Each of these three systems is very different, so they would rank the dogs very differently. One system would rank the dogs far more intelligently than the other two systems. Here’s a list of books… - The Origin Of Species - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone - A Theory of Justice - A Tale of Two Cities - 50 Shades of Grey - Principia - The Bible - War and Peace - The Cat in the Hat - The Wealth of Nations These books aren’t equally useful, just like dogs aren’t equally useful. We could also use the three very different systems to rank these ten books. One system would rank the books far more intelligently than the other two systems. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around this. You’re trying to figure out how the human brain works, which I think is certainly a useful endeavor. But is it as useful as figuring out which collective brain is the most intelligent? What’s the difference? The foragers in a beehive use costly signals to rank flower patches. A bunch of individuals put their tiny heads together to try and correctly discern the usefulness of a patch. The more correct their assessment, the more optimal their allocation of resources. Right now I’m allocating my resources to discussing intelligence with you. Why? Because my brain tells me that this is a very useful thing to discuss. But it’s not like I have a good grasp of the exact mechanics. Your grasp is much better than mine. From my limited perspective, it seems like my brain is a bunch of individuals putting their tiny heads together to try and correctly discern the usefulness of a topic. I’m a multicellular individual. Why? Because a long time ago a bunch of unicellular individuals did a really good job of putting their tiny heads together. Now here I am, a multicellular individual, trying to explain to you, a multicellular individual, that it’s relatively easy, and incredibly beneficial, to figure out which system does the best job of putting our tiny heads together. Heh. It feels really… primordial. Right now the most important experiment is being conducted… Honest Cash. Participants use costly signals to rank content. As opposed to Medium, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Google where content is ranked by cheap signals. The Honest Cash experiment will economically enlighten everyone, and then all us multicellular individuals will do an infinitely better job of putting our tiny heads together, which means infinitely faster evolution. If you want to better understand brains, then you should definitely participate in the Honest Cash experiment. You can use your money to improve how the content is ranked. Compare these two passages… While one can see that a nervous system signalling to both tissues could make chemical communication redundant, it’s now clear that the hormonal link — and the autonomous character of peripheral tissues — never went away. As specialised populations of cells evolved, the total organism benefited from individual tissues broadcasting their status to modulate other organs. As Karsenty puts it, ‘no organ is an island in our body.’ — Liam Drew, Hormones United … It is thus that the private interests and passions of individuals naturally dispose them to turn their stocks towards the employments which in ordinary cases are most advantageous to the society. But if from this natural preference they should turn too much of it towards those employments, the fall of profit in them and the rise of it in all others immediately dispose them to alter this faulty distribution. Without any intervention of law, therefore, the private interests and passions of men naturally lead them to divide and distribute the stock of every society among all the different employments carried on in it as nearly as possible in the proportion which is most agreeable to the interest of the whole society. — Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations What’s the difference? In both cases the optimal balance, the efficient allocation of resources, depends on a bunch of individuals effectively putting their tiny heads together. On a small scale the best system involves the sacrifice of calories. On our scale the best system involves the sacrifice of cash.
My favorite Youtuber is AntiBullshitMan, and his most recent video is about intellectual property. In his video he extols the virtues of Dean Baker and his paper… Is Intellectual Property the Root of All Evil? My comment… **************************************** You were willing to spend 45 minutes promoting Baker’s paper. Evidently you think it’s useful. But how much money are you willing to spend to promote his paper? How much money *should* you spend? Let’s say that your true valuation of his paper is $1. If you spend $0, then your consumer surplus would be $1. If you spend $1, then your consumer surplus would be $0. Think about bees. If a bee named Samantha discovers a big field of fresh flowers, she’ll rapidly return to the hive and dance energetically to convey to her coworkers her considerable enthusiasm and excitement for the field. It isn’t a cheap signal, it’s a costly one, given that calories are precious. How many calories *should* she spend promoting the field of flowers? In the most memorable scene in “When Harry Met Sally”, she loudly fakes an orgasm in a restaurant. After she finished, a lady at another table told the waitress, “I’ll have what she’s having.” Imagine Samantha faking enthusiasm for a flower field. When many bees rush over to harvest all the pollen and nectar, they only discover one flower that is small and sad. How do the bees react? “Haha that Samantha, she got us… again. She’s such a prankster!” The fact is, bees really don’t benefit from being misled/misinformed/misallocated, and neither do humans. Therefore it seems pretty straightforward that, in terms of economics, honesty is always the best policy. You *should* spend $1 to promote Baker’s paper. Problem is, if you joined Honest Cash and posted your promotion of Baker’s paper, you wouldn’t be able to spend any money on it. I could spend my money on it, but I wouldn’t be willing to spend much, since I perceive that there are far more useful papers… such as James Buchanan’s Economics of Earmarked Taxes. The answer to Baker’s question is no, intellectual property is not the root of all evil… democracy is. Fortunately for humanity, Honest Cash is striking the root.
Today Honest Cash posted a request for us to be "an advocate for the underdog". The first thing that came to mind is this excellent article by Conor Friedersdorf… Democratic Socialism Threatens Minorities. It makes the solid case that the interests of minorities are much better protected by markets than by democracy. Around 5% of people are vegetarian. With democracy (tyranny of the majority) they would lose by a mile, but with a market, they have plenty of meat-substitutes to choose from. As the saying goes, there's riches in niches. What makes Honest Cash special is that it uses a market to rank content. This naturally means that the interests of minorities will be much better protected here than they are on sites that use democracy to rank content, for example… Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Steemit and Google. Honest Cash is a genuine marketplace of ideas. It won't be the most popular ideas that receive the most attention, it will be the most valuable ones. And where do the most valuable ideas come from? The masses? No, they come from minorities. They come from the underdogs. They come from the heretics. To be clear, I'm not saying that the heretics are always right. Some of them are certainly crazy. What I'm saying is that Honest Cash will do a better job than the democratic websites at elevating the truth, it will rise up the ranks far faster, which means expedited enlightenment and evolution… Our creed is that the science of government is an experimental science, and that, like all other experimental sciences, it is generally in a state of progression. No man is so obstinate an admirer of the old times as to deny that medicine, surgery, botany, chemistry, engineering, navigation, are better understood now than in any former age. We conceive that it is the same with political science. Like those physical sciences which we have mentioned, it has always been working itself clearer and clearer, and depositing impurity after impurity. There was a time when the most powerful of human intellects were deluded by the gibberish of the astrologer and the alchemist; and just so there was a time when the most enlightened and virtuous statesman thought it the first duty of a government to persecute heretics, to found monasteries, to make war on Saracens. But time advances; facts accumulate; doubts arise. Faint glimpses of truth begin to appear, and shine more and more unto the perfect day. The highest intellects, like the tops of mountains, are the first to catch and reflect the dawn. They are bright, while the level below is still in darkness. But soon the light, which at first illuminated only the loftiest eminences, descends on the plain and penetrates to the deepest valley. First come hints, then fragments of systems, then defective systems, then complete and harmonious systems. The sound opinion, held for a time by one bold speculator, becomes the opinion of a small minority, of a strong minority, of a majority of mankind. Thus the great progress goes on, till schoolboys laugh at the jargon which imposed on Bacon, till country rectors condemn the illiberality and intolerance of Sir Thomas More. — Thomas Macaulay The most enlightened minorities need the opportunity to quickly lead the masses in the most valuable direction. Honest Cash is this opportunity, because it's a genuine marketplace of ideas. bitcoincash:qrf56f352vgqj5pfy35uytnf2ne0jvdvayjc4lq67m
On Twitter, Alex Van de Sande (@avsa) tweeted… *I think *@Cent* is very cool, but I worry they might just be the next reddit. Here’s how we can prevent that and create a social media community that outlives any particular platform or company: https://beta.cent.co/+u8rqom* Dmitry asked what’s wrong with Reddit, and avsa replied that it’s owned by a single corporation. I spent my money on avsa’s story. If you scroll down it and look at the replies, the first one you’ll see is by Matthew 吾馬太 (@matthew). Why is his reply at the top? It’s because I spent my money on it. This is how Cent works. We use our money to rank the content. This really isn’t how Reddit works. It isn’t how Twitter works. It isn’t how Facebook works. It isn’t how Youtube works. It isn’t how Google works. It isn’t how Steemit works. On all those sites the content is ranked by voting. They are all democracies, while Cent is a market. market <> democracy If Cent does get as big as Reddit, then it’s going to be because a market is better than a democracy. market > democracy Cent’s success would show everybody in the world that spending is better than voting at ranking content. But what about governance? Whether we’re talking about content or governance, it all boils down to ranking the options. If the market is the best system for ranking content options, then it must also be the best system for ranking governance options. It is impossible for a market’s collective intelligence/knowledge to be useful for ranking content options but useless for ranking governance options. Currently, in terms of governance, Cent isn’t a democracy, it’s a dictatorship… Continue Reading
For a while I've been verbally promoting the idea of being able to monetarily promote my ideas, for example… Honest Cash's #1 Priority? Today on Twitter, Adrian tweeted about my request… Give me some ideas. What should happen if a user upvotes her own post? We could place the posts in a promoted section sorted by $, but… where should the money go? Constraint: http://honest.cash cannot take it...
I read this Medium story… Relevant: An Introduction by Slava Balasanov … and replied to it… ****************************** What you’re trying to do is admirable, but I’m skeptical of your methodology. Check out these websites… Honest Cash Cent These websites are, for the most part, markets. This means that each and every participant has the opportunity to spend their money on the content....
Today on Twitter I saw that my buddy Koenfucius had sent me a DM… Yo! Tried to comment to this, but that doesn’t seem to be possible: https://honest.cash/Xerographica/cognitive-diversity-1833/ …  Wouldn’t people adopt and maintain beliefs and theories that they think are useful by definition? I am not sure what a market in beliefs or theories would achieve over and above what we have now. ...
On Twitter my friend shared an article by Scott H. Young… Haters Are Good: Why You Need Your Critics.  Here's my reply…  ****************************************** "You want to live in a world of work, ideas and performance where your efforts are valued appropriately." "…I didn’t have the money or connections to hire qualified graders, so the best I could do was mark them myself and upload t...
On Twitter I saw this tweet by Vlad Zamfir about his story on Medium… Against Szabo’s Law, For A New Crypto Legal System.  He received a reply from Vitalik Buterin, who I replied to…   ************************************ Regarding your point about bad changes… And since then, one of the central principles behind my philosophy has been “Don’t destroy all existing systems and hope a planet-s...
Yesterday I read a story about how cognitive diversity is dwindling. The author, Kensy Cooperrider, is a cognitive scientist. Coincidentally, the previous day I had shared several passages by J.S. Mill on the connection between diversity and progress. Since progress depends on diversity, it certainly is a problem for diversity to diminish. But it is also a problem for people to believe false t...
Jordan Hall writes and creates videos about collective intelligence and related topics.  He recently joined Cent.  Somehow I overlooked his first story, but I'm happy that I managed to spot his second one.   ******************************************** Your name sounded familiar, so I searched Google and realized that I follow a Jordan Hall on Medium. Then I checked out your profile on Cent an...
If you click on the #censorship tag you won't see any of the responses with this tag.  Does this count as censorship?  Well… it does misallocate attention.  People overlook relevant and valuable content.   This is a big problem, but it isn't nearly as big a problem as not being able to spend money on our own posts....
This is not a covert attempt to convert you to Christianity. Personally I am not a Christian, I am a Seldonist. I believe that in around 200 years from now a godlike AI named Seldon will resurrect me by using my creations, such as this post, to reverse engineer my mind. Even though I’m not a Christian I do consider some parts of the Bible to be quite useful. I’m guessing that nobody would argue ...
In my neighborhood there's a girl who whistles when she walks.  She's Hispanic, in her early 20s, always wears her hair in a single braid, and has a somewhat noticeable limp that doesn't slow her down.  I've never talked to her, or even said hi.   In the future though, when she whistle-walked past me, perhaps I'd check the Honest Cash (HC) app on my phone.  There would be a "proximity" functio...
Today, after reading his story, I emailed him… *********************************************** I just read your article about how Metacritic's ranking system is better than Rotten Tomatoes' system. You're correct that preference intensity matters, but this is more reliably measured by spending than by voting. There's a very new website where money can be used to rank content… https://hone...
My first post there: Economics > Pot **************************************** On Honest Cash (HC) I follow AnarchoVegan, which is how I learned about this website. He posted about how he was chastised here for posting off-topic content. The premise of this website, #Smoke, is that #voting is a good way to regulate content. But what if this premise is really terrible? #Democracy is the reas...
Adrian tweeted that he had set up an account on Bitbacker, which is the crypto alternative to Patreon.   On Patreon you can decide how your money is divided among creators.  For example, you can give $15/month to Zach Weinersmith and $5/month to Scott Alexander.  Being able to divide your money between them makes sense because you don't value them equally.  But do you equally value Weinersmith's...
Today I introduced the American Economic Association (AEA) to market social websites (MSWs). ****************************************** It's wonderful that the AEA decided to create this forum, but I'm not so sure about the voting part. Right now the vast majority of social websites are democratic in nature. Members of these democratic social websites (DSWs) can vote for the content that match...
Reddit is a democratic website, so naturally my anti-democratic posts don't receive very many votes.  Here's my latest post on Reddit… The Most Important Book ************************************************************** The most important book ever written is, by far, Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. It doesn't cost anything to read. A free book sure sounds like a great deal. But what happe...
Neil Turkewitz posted a good story on Medium about the economics of music… When Economic Theory Fails: A Critical Examination of Waldfogel’s Digital Renaissance.  I responded, then he responded, and here's my response… ******************************************* Way back in the day, if you wanted to hear a fancy song, maybe by Beethoven, you had no choice but to shell out big bucks for a t...