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Instrument of the Cosmos forged by Metafire


(Michael Hrenka) #1

Over the last 12 months I changed so much that I am sometimes somewhat terrified about what I have become, but it all makes sense. Actually, I am still struggling to find out what I have become and what to do with my life next. The complexity of my whole history and my philosophical constructions is hard to untangle. I don’t expect you to understand me, but I want you to understand me better. In theory, I could try to create a false impression of myself, but any such deception wouldn’t be nearly as powerful as showing my true colours. It’s simply not worth claiming that I am a “normal person” to those who read this. You and me will be able to communicate more effectively, if you know how I think and what crazy quirks I have. I really don’t want to be confused with something that I am not.

My life history

Any story about my life I can write here is necessarily incomplete, for various reasons. So I will only mention what I think is most important from the perspective of my most recent changes. I will try to be as brief as possible and as complete as necessary. As a story it’s probably not very uplifting or entertaining. For that I apologize in advance. Anyway, I don’t expect anything like compassion. You have my permission to hate me for what I have been and become. Seriously though, most of my life story is just mundane crap, and I mainly have to tell it in order to create some context for my most recent changes.

Childhood

I was born in 1983 in South-west Germany to a humble and honest immigrant family from former Yugoslavia. My father was absent for long period of time due to his job as truck driver. My mother is a very simple person who spoiled me, because she didn’t have the discipline to be strict with me. My 8 year older brother was a strong influence on me, because he was pretty smart (and a smart ass) and fascinated with computers. In kindergarten I had trouble with fitting in due to my immigrant background and the nerdish influence of my brother. I often despised kindergarten back then. Due to my relative social exclusion I was prone to getting hooked on video games at age 6. The outside world then became mostly a nuisance for me at least since then. That probably created a vitamin D deficiency. Also, my diet was really terrible back then. The vitamin fortified corn flakes were the tastiest and healthiest food I usually ate in my childhood.

At school I was often bored and sometimes started fights because of that. Once that ended with me getting hurt so badly that I started moderating my behaviour. Also, I once nearly died from falling into a frozen pond in Winter, because I thought the ice was thick enough to carry me. From that point on, I have become very careful and anxious in general. At age 8 I started getting skin problems (psoriasis) and the first symptoms of ME/CFS, a devastating and badly understood classically untreatable disease that sucked out the life energy out of me. Because back then nobody in my area had any idea that this disease even existed, nobody could help me with it, and it was interpreted as general sickliness.

Despite that disease I was doing well at school, even though I was always looking forward to getting out of there, so I could watch TV or play video games. Star Trek (starting with The Next Generation) was a major influence on me in my childhood. With age 13 I started getting episodes of depression. They were mostly symptoms of ME/CFS, but nobody understood that. Anyway, I became interested in philosophy from that early age. I stopped believing in god and switched to ethics lessons instead of religion lessons in school. Due to my own experience with suffering and my perceptiveness I got very worried about all the suffering and injustice happening in the world.

Spiritual experience

That kinda changed when I had a spontaneous and incredibly strong spiritual experience at age 18 at which I felt connected to a cosmic network of love which put the suffering on this tiny spot of a world into the right perspective: Compared to the flourishing alien life in the cosmos it’s completely irrelevant. That insight created a feeling of bliss which was so strong that I thought it would kill me – and it wouldn’t even stop on its own. I had to consciously shut that feeling down, so that I could think about what to do with my life next with a calm mind. This had put my philosophical curiosity on overdrive.

Soon later, I developed what I called “philosophy of diversity”, which assumed a kind of karmic balance between positive and negative feelings: You can only increase both at the same time, since they are basically different sides of the same coin, because they are tightly linked though contrast and compensation effects – kinda like Yin and Yang. My goal was to maximize diversity and through that both positive and negative feelings (since I considered that cost to be unavoidable). Nevertheless, I was snapped out of that relative foolishness by a friend, and have become more of a classic utilitarian since then.

Studies

Even though I was totally interested in philosophy, I studied mathematics and physics, because I wanted to understand how the world works on a deep level, and because I appreciated mathematics as a universally useful tool. A few years into my studies I developed an ontology I now call “mathematical modal realism”, though I never thoroughly formalized it. It basically states that every world that can exist as mathematical structure is real. There are a lot of disturbing conclusions from that, which I don’t want to dive into at this point.

I never got a full degree, because my father died in the middle of my studies, which made my ME/CFS worse. It eventually got so bad that I couldn’t do any work and had to quit university in order to be able to apply for social security. At least from that point of I focused all my strength on overcoming my disease which I barely started to identify some time after already having left university.

Recovery

I recovered through the empirical approach of trying all kinds of medical interventions in a matter that was as systematic as my energy levels allowed them to be. It took me years to find out how to stabilize my health with various powerful supplements, meditation, appropriate exercise, low carb diet, and some other lifestyle interventions. During my recovery there were two big breakthroughs:

  1. The discovery that antioxidants improve my condition significantly. I need to take very high doses of powerful antioxidants in order to remain healthy. It’s known that conditions similar to ME/CFS are associated with high levels of oxidative stress – which especially hurts the mitochondria, the cellular “power plants” of the body.
  2. The paradoxical insight that my health becomes better when I seek pain, rather than to avoid it! My hypothesis is that this is due to the beta endorphins that are released under painful stimuli, and which help to regulate the nervous system and the immune system (which are apparently very badly affected by ME/CFS).

Now I can manage this disease so well that it only impacts me minimally. There are still some residual symptoms, but my ability to control them gets better with time. This is especially astonishing since there is no effective conventional treatment for that disease and I’ve been suffering from that disease for about 24 years! Remissions after such a long duration are almost unheard of! That I’m now able to do normal stuff without getting fatigued is a small miracle.

This recovery is a really big deal, especially since normally healthy people cannot nearly guess how extreme that disease is. To get an idea of how crazy it is here’s a comparison. Imagine you are 80 years old and are suffering from a permanent flu and mental fog. That’s the baseline, when you are feeling good. In bad phases, you are effectively housebound or even bed-bound. Even then, people expect normal performances from you, because they don’t accept the existence of that disease, since it doesn’t register on regular medical tests, and the symptoms aren’t very visible. They can’t help you and often assume that you are faking it, even if you have no motive whatsoever to do anything like that. The social exclusion is quite extreme, because you don’t have the energy for regular activities, or social activities that maintain social relationships. Everything feels like an extreme strain. And even when you manage to do any activity that is perceived as strenuous, you are punished with a delay of hours or days. The punishment consists of a severely reduced energy level that can stay for days or weeks. And when you feel bad about that, it only gets much worse. So, you need to learn to go through these phases of extreme debilitation with an unnaturally calm mindset. Luckily, I was only moderately affected by ME/CFS. There are far worse cases, and some of them end fatally.

This challenge put me through lots of phases of depression, agony, and despair. I got so good at dealing with them that I eventually considered my phases of depression as “cute”. They are nothing compared to the overall hell that is ME/CFS in general. Even though I realize that depression is a truly horrible disease, from my own experience, I can say that ME/CFS is far worse! After I have successfully emerged from this purgatory I have basically lost my fear of anything. There is virtually nothing that can scare me. And I don’t write that lightly. I really mean it!

The Transformation

My struggle with ME/CFS transformed me completely, especially over the last 12 months. Dealing with such a disease really taught me humility. I used to overestimate myself over and over again. Only when I realized that even with my best efforts I only had a small success of actually significantly improving my condition, I got cured of my arrogance. Dealing with a challenge like that often pushed me to the brink of madness, and sometimes even beyond that.

Learning to control that disease actually seemed to require a shift in my mindset. I had to learn to remain clam in any situation, no matter how crazy or painful it was. Also, I needed to learn to seek and tolerate pain, rather than seeing it as something negative that is to be avoided. My new focus is seeking strength and wisdom more than anything else. Before that I was striving to minimize suffering. That’s quite a radical change. My personal definition of “strength” is the ability and willingness to push through pain and suffering, by the way. Actually, I don’t claim to be exceptionally strong according to this definition. I endured ME/CFS, because I had no other reasonable choice, not because I wanted to.

Still, I am used to deal with such incredible challenges that “normal” challenges start leaving me bored. I want to change the world. Anything less is not acceptable for me. But that’s mainly because I’m a hardcore philosopher, first and foremost, and only secondarily because I journeyed through my own personal hell, which makes me get bored my more mundane challenges.

Epistemological Consequentialism

The transformations in my mindset motivated me to come up with a philosophy I tentatively call epistemological consequentialism. It basically poses that we should strive to maximize wisdom, because we don’t know what’s actually the best thing to do – yet. After all the philosophical insights and tribulations I had, it seems that I stopped really caring about my own personal happiness. Even the collective happiness of all sentient beings on Earth became a rather shallow issue to me. After all, the happiness of the cosmos is dominated by what we and our descendants will do with the cosmos at large. And we need to be as wise as possible in order to do the most right thing.

My love for capitalism

The book “The Singularity and Socialism” by C. James Townsend kindled a love for capitalism in me.

Since then I have come to despise many “leftist” ideas. Even though capitalism may not be perfect, it’s the best system that we have. It’s good at leveraging collective intelligence and encourages people to work for the collective good, even when they think they only pursue their own individual interests. Capitalism is really good at creating wealth. The problems that seem to be caused by capitalism are usually much more pronounced in other systems. What I think is best about capitalism is that it incentivizes people to create progress, whether they want or not.

My appreciation for the role of the government

I used to idealize anarchism quite a lot. But the more I reflect on economic issues, the more I learn to appreciate that the government is really necessary to make the economy run as nicely as it does – even if complete self-organization is a nice ideal to have. Certain coordination problems are really to solve without governments. Markets are good at optimizing the allocation of private goods, but for public goods governments really make much more sense. Also, markets can’t deal with externalities effectively on their own. A strong government is needed to solve problems connected to externalities. Unfortunately, the strength of governments has been undermined by globalization (which is otherwise an economically quite beneficial process).

Instrument of the Cosmos, forged by Metafire

One of my previous internet handles was “Metafire”: An imaginary kind of fire that takes ordinary fire as fuel and consumes it, while it burns much hotter than ordinary fire. Metafire primarily stands for reason burning so fiercely that it burns up the passion and emotions that gave rise to the necessity of reason. This metaphor reflects my struggle to try to become the best person I can possibly be through using reason and rationality.

I used to feel deeply, but more recently my affect has become more subdued. The fires in which I have been forged have served their purpose, and have left me being the relatively level headed person that I am now.

My most recent way of seeing myself is as instrument of the cosmos: A part of the cosmos that operates on itself in order to become aware of itself and improve its own quality. I identify deeply with consciousness, valence, and the cosmos as abstract concepts. I want to serve the cosmos as best as possible. It deeply dissatisfies me that I am still struggling with human weaknesses. I feel ethically compelled to strive towards becoming godlike, even if I personally would prefer a more modest existence with less responsibility and attention.

I am very aware that what I write here sounds very outlandish to most people. It takes very special circumstances to make a human identify as instrument of the cosmos. I am grateful for everything that I experienced that helped me to become who I am now, even if it hurt like hell! :sob:

What I believe now

  • Reality is much much bigger and more complex than anyone of us can imagine, and is based on some kind of ultimate structure/mathematics
  • Value systems exist as part of Reality, and are subject to their own dynamics
  • Striving to achieve cosmic wisdom is natural value system for philosophically mature entities. It may be eventually replaced with the application of ultimate wisdom, but that is speculative at this point.
  • Civilizations progress through a natural course of development towards more complexity, knowledge, technology, and power, and eventually towards true wisdom
  • We should work on ourselves and upgrade our minds through technology, so that we can maximize our wisdom.
  • Identities are subjective philosophical constructs and objectively meaningless
  • Wisdom is much more important than well-being. The common obsession with well-being may be natural, but it’s not even very functional.
  • Control and power are worthless without the necessary wisdom to use them for the right purposes
  • Self-discipline is extremely important. The level of self-discipline of most human beings is outright pathetic.
  • Comfort is our enemy, because it makes us weak
  • Capitalism is a force of good that disciplines people to usually do the right thing – exceptions don’t invalidate this general rule
  • Naive egoism is a sign of philosophical immaturity. We are all connected and distributed.
  • Religions suffer from hubris in that they falsely assume to know the will of the gods
  • We actually don’t know what is ethically right or wrong, since our ethical systems are only transitional frameworks that should be replaced with more sophisticated systems
  • Humans are bad at obtaining happiness by pursuing happiness
  • “Friendly AI” makes no sense, because the concept of “friendliness” actually makes no sense
  • We should use any challenge as chance to become stronger
  • It would make sense for everyone to seek for strength and wisdom, but it’s not necessary for everyone to do that
  • We have a good chance to become godlike, but even if we fail, that’s ok – since we live in a multiverse and weak civilizations naturally self-destruct

Hello! I'm new. I bring some questions
(Lodewijk Andre de la Porte) #2

Thank you for the writeup. I really appreciate your open and honestness.

I’d like to know more about how you apply self-discipline. Suffering seems like an excellent master, and persistence in dealing with it a worthwhile challenge, but what is the technique? Grit your teeth?

I think your goaltaking is absolutist - extreme in that there must be a singular truth to which you adhere and which structures your life. Knowing that different perceptions, different models, of the world are all not 100% certain, why have an approach to life that is so absolute?

Reg. capitalism and government: you are appreciating the inefficiency of capitalism, and seeking an all-knowing-all-powerful overseer to fix it up. Reality does not look much like the capitalistic market world at all. It looks more like monkeys acting silly together in groups that exceed the design of their social interaction. Capitalism is reasonable insofar as humans are rational economic actors inclined to maximise their profit and the profit of those they care about. Tending to fascism just so you may force humans to act more rational is hardly justified - hardly sensible even.

That said, we suffer greatly from the lack of desire to design humans’ lives. I strongly suspect that those that design the economy (whomever they may be) do so in order to manipulate people into conformity with the program - subjection to the goal. By going through the channels of capitalism their involvement is indirect; but for the cracking of the whip The Man is your master.

I think it would be better to offer people freedom in their lives but for the creation of life. Provide extensive healthcare, psychological care, preventive care, food, hygiene, basic housing, entertainment and social activity, some allowance for advanced technology and such. Basically, take full care of people. But do eugenics. Make sure to select for intelligence, health, strength, psychological stability, beauty, social acceptance. And encourage, by design and interaction, to engage in challenges and contribute to society.

In such a world money is still vital. The fulfilment of these needs should be auctioned off. People may pay one another for services or products. None of these guaranteed things are mandatory. It will lead to many people doing useless things thinking they really are useful. It’s just what happend when you distribute the valuation function (letting people determine both the price of things, and what to buy, will invariably lead to diverse results).

These services should simply be charged to the individuals. Just put it on their tabs. They incur rent (some sort of generalised rate) over that debt. Either they pay it to avoid the rent accumulating, or it is taken off their pensions or inheritance. Perhaps there is some reasonable opportunity for taxation - like over investments - I’m not sure. I don’t care. The point is that people are managed (as human beings) without being in any way forced. Like they are in capitalism

Thank you for your post. It’s been on my mind.


(Michael Hrenka) #3

Thanks. I appreciate that you are explicit about what you appreciate about my post. :slightly_smiling: And I’m glad that my post triggered a reply from you. :smile:

The very basic building block is the strict morning routine. Every morning I do:

  1. Bodyweight exercises
  2. A cold shower
  3. Meditation

Each of those things are difficult and unpleasant in their own way:

  1. A body at rest wants to stay at rest.
  2. Cold showers can be painful, but I’m mostly desensitized. Even when the cold becomes painful I try enjoying it. That usually works surprisingly well.
  3. A mind in motion wants to stay in motion. Calming down my mind that is obsessed with so many different things is really unnatural for me. That makes it terribly hard, but also terribly necessary.

Also, I use my bike for transportation in my area as much as possible. Even when it snows, or rains. Even when it’s so cold that my face starts hurting. Pushing through that experience makes me stronger.

More general things are embracing difficult challenges, rather than avoiding or bemoaning them. I want to be challenged. If things start getting easy or fun, I’m not pushing myself hard enough.

Because I want a clear orientation. I want to know why I should do A and not B, or vice versa. Ambiguity means that I could make wrong choices with horrible costs. In an ambiguous and chaotic world I cannot avoid making horrible choices and decisions, but I can try learning from them as effectively as possible and approach something resembling certainty. Or perhaps there will never be any certainty. I would accept that option, if it turns out to be true. But why should I accept that prematurely, if there’s still the hope that we can find the truth that would provide us a clearer orientation? Many think that they already possess that truth, but they are almost certainly extremely misguided. I don’t want to be misguided. I want to grow and become the best I can possibly be. Actually, I’ve got nothing better to do than that.

Governments don’t need to be all-knowing, or all-powerful. They just need to fix certain failure modes of hypothetical “naked markets”.

Right, it does not. But to some degree, it does. And to the degree that it does, it gets a lot of things right, and some wrong.

[quote=“ZeUs, post:2, topic:1098”]
Capitalism is reasonable insofar as humans are rational economic actors inclined to maximise their profit and the profit of those they care about. Tending to fascism just so you may force humans to act more rational is hardly justified - hardly sensible even.[/quote]
I agree that the rationality of humans is a crucial factor. What is actually effective at improving it?

You basically get all that by combining basic incomes with reputation incomes. The basic incomes provide basic freedoms. The reputation incomes incentivize them to give their best at contributing to society, and challenging themselves.


#4

why? i mean what is the function for what and what should be the model for it?
imagine a society of yorkshireterrier who will do eugenics. wouldn´t they transform even a wolf concerning their idea of intelligence, physiology, psychology, appearance etc. till it becomes a yorkshireterrier?

thanks to @g3reth a great important question concerning a similar problem was :
Whole Brain Emulation and Creating AGI _ Who´s Brain?
Whole Brain Emulation and Creating AGI - Who's Brain?

how could you be so sure about that? when you agree with @ZeUs statement, that reality and the capitalistic market differ, it could be possible, that all the things that went right are due to peoples own initiatives apart from capitalism, and all, what went wrong, are only consequences of capitalism. and it might be possible, that the best things we experience now, would not vanish, if we get rid of capitalism. but it would not be easy to sort that out. only if we understand the core elements and flaws of capitalism.


Mission QP20
(Lodewijk Andre de la Porte) #5

Does anyone happen to have a PDF/epub/digital copy of the book mentioned?


(Michael Hrenka) split this topic #6

8 posts were split to a new topic: Evolution and Eugenics


Evolution and Eugenics
(Michael Hrenka) #7

I’m afraid I’m going a bit bonkers now, so it would be nice to get a reality check on my latest master plan.

My Master Plan

Step 1: Improving the economic system

I have reasons to consider the eventual arrival of basic income as near inevitable – up to large catastrophes happening in the meantime. That will come with its own problems, some of which may be solved with a reputation economy. On the other hand, a reputation economy without a basic income would suffer from an extreme inequality, so both basic income and reputation economy are probably complementary measures that need to be implemented at roughly the same time. So, timing is critical here. Since many people are working on basic income, and almost nobody works on implementing a reputation economy, I need to focus my near- to mid-term efforts on establishing a reputation economy – or getting the economic system in order in general.

For that I need competence and influence. Probably the best way for obtaining both at the same time is by studying economics and computer science, so that I can effectively initiate and lead large scale efforts aimed at implementing a reputation economy. That might take about 10-15 years. Then it gets time for the next phase:

Step 2: Promoting Sophic Transhumanism

After the economy is performing nicely, people will be freer to pursue more important activities, like finding out what to do. I need to help them with that by providing some high quality orientation in an increasingly cybernetic world. I will do that by aggressively promoting sophic transhumanism, a version of transhumanism that stresses the importance of obtaining wisdom by enhancing the capabilities that enable the acquirement of more wisdom – so, it’s basically a kind of transhumanism focused on mental and spiritual enhancement.

Promoting sophic transhumanism is not urgent, but extremely important. It’s the best way in which I can serve the future evolution of the cosmos. Perhaps it will be expedient to get a PhD in philosophy in order to be taken more seriously. I’m not sure about that, yet.

End of plan

Anyway, that’s my master plan. It may look a bit weird, but that’s the best plan that I could come up with for utilizing my potential to the maximum in the most effective and rational way. The details are of course work in progress. Do you see any big flaws in my plan?