In a well-run civilization, *most* currently existing transmissible diseases (incl. genetic) would be wiped out. Society would be struggling with the tail-end of things like ‘the flu’ and ‘obesity’. COVID would have been a curious flash in the pan that never got past society’s passive defenses. None of this would cost much more than, say, a car’s value in resources per person globally, sufficient to allow rapid early testing and quarantine where needed.

The thing is, COVID is low hanging fruit. We have actual countries that have handled it fine. Taiwan got off almost scott-free, and the only reason they even had to try as hard as they did is that other incompetent countries kept sending them cases! The question is not whether COVID could have been handled well, it’s whether, if every country had the structural sanity of Taiwan, what other problems we would then get on to fixing.

]]>“Welcome to the bottleneck!” Turning a mixture of mRNA and a set of lipids into a well-defined mix of solid nanoparticles with consistent mRNA encapsulation, well, that’s the hard part. Moderna appears to be doing this step in-house, although details are scarce, and Pfizer/BioNTech seems to be doing this in Kalamazoo, MI and probably in Europe as well. Everyone is almost certainly having to use some sort of specially-built microfluidics device to get this to happen […]

That said, it seems very strange that while the pandemic warrants shutting down the whole world, it does not warrant opening up the process, putting folks on making sure it can scale up, and of course putting folks on top of all those to make sure the putting folks on it part is going as well as possible. (Though, of course it was too late anyway, the Mythical Man Month has already been cited, yadda-yadda.)

]]>ticking off boxes called “Phase I,” “Phase II,” etc. while civilization hung in the balance

I think this is a good formulation of the problem. There is some tradeoff in doing more studies and maybe there was too much. But **most** of the time was spent waiting for the FDA to give permission to move on to the next step. That was not a tradeoff, but a pure waste.

that’s the premise of (institutionalizing, funding, requiring, funding, expanding, funding …) progressive education, stated out loud! The longer we put people in front of stronger mind control rays the more Wittenlike they will become, leading after some generations to the social-technological utopia.

When tried, the actual effects have been declining educational performance and redirection of the top minds into ever less scientific/useful stuff. But the control rays have been oddly successful in manufacturing consent for leftward shifting social policies.

]]>Cosmologist and friend of the blog Sean Carroll was actually struggling towards the right idea (space-time emergent from QM), but he missed a crucial insight : it’s not just *quantum mechanics* that’s fundamental. I think there is *also* something else, and this next claim is really going to shock you Scott: I think there’s something in *classical physics* that *is* actually fundamental also, so classical physics is *not* all just emergent from quantum physics , as conventional physics says.

So what do I think is fundamental in classical physics? My claim is that a generalization of statistical mechanics *is* fundamental, just as fundamental as quantum physics! And it’s the *combination* of quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics that gives you the theory of quantum gravity, which is actually what is *emergent* !

It goes back to my tripartite model of time: I suggested 2 fundamental models of time, which I called the causal model and the compositional model. It’s the combination of these 2 models that generates a third model, the complexity-theoretic (informational) model, which is time as a coordinate system (equivalent to a space, in physics, space-time).

Quantum mechanics is associated with symmetry or geometry and this comes from the 1st model of time (the causal model). Statistical mechanics is associated with connectivity or topology , and this comes from the 2nd model of time ( the compositional model).

Then quantum-gravity emerges from the combination of the 2 models. The causal model (QM) gives you the geometry (symmetry) , the compositional model (stat mechanics) gives you the topology (connectivity), and the combination of geometry and topology gives you quantum gravity(space-time and entropic gravity).

]]>In Europe (some parts of which did better than the US and some parts of which did worse), the greater density seems like an enormous confounder.

]]>Your “healthy years lost” metric assumes that a healthy life is worth protecting more than one in decline due to age or disease. This is a slippery slope.

Utilitarianism is rife with slippery slopes, that was one of the motivations of my post. However, you using the term “healthy life” is bordering on changing the goal posts, so we should stick to a strictly countable number like “healthy years” because that’s required for a utilitarian calculation. If you wish to argue some other metric is better, then you need to describe how you would quantify the value of life such that you can perform the calculation. If you think some other ethical framework is better, well that wasn’t the argument I was replying to so I won’t belabour that any further.

So to motivate “healthy years”, I don’t think it’s controversial that healthy years are preferable to unhealthy years to *essentially all people* (see the popularity of euthanasia and assisted suicide), and thus, I don’t think it’s controversial that interventions that can increase the total number of healthy years people can enjoy are preferable to ones that decrease that total. Whatever people truly value, healthy years is clearly a big factor.

Furthermore, if you were to survey the elderly population and ask them whether they would rather risk shortening their lives and potentially spare adverse, life-long health effects to some percentage of young people, I think by and large they would make that sacrifice. I certainly would if the chance of those adverse effects were high enough, or the population affected large enough such that even a small chance of adverse effects would offset the healthy years added to the elderly population.

]]>So, in this thread, I’d postulated there was a tripartite model of time, but I was still a little confused. I’d had the idea of 2 different models of time that merged into a 3rd model that unified those 2, and I think that’s correct, but I realized that the 3rd model isn’t a model of *time*, it’s a model of *space* !

So my theory is actually about the dualities between geometry on the one hand, and algebra+logic on the other ! It’s about how to *translate* the 2 models of time (algebra and logic) into a single unified model of space (geometry) and vice versa!

The first model of time is the *causal* model, and it’s given by *Bayesian networks*, which are related to *Markov chains*. This is the *algebraic* model of computation.

The second model of time is the *compositional* model of computation, and it’s given by *semantic networks* , which are related to *concept lattices*. This is the *logical* model of computation.

The secret to AGI is to *combine* the causal and compositional models of computation/ *time*, resulting in a single unified informational model of *space* !

Each component of the causal and compositional models of time translates to the model of space, thusly;

Markov Chains — Information Distance (Geometry)

Concept Lattices — Concept Structure Mapping (Topology)

Geometry + Topology = Model of a concept space (a mind) !

And that concept space (the model of a mind ) is the AGI.

]]>(When it comes to hatred of Trump, though, I’ll respectfully put mine up against absolutely anyone’s, including those far to my left.)

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