Potty Training, Predictive Processing, and Agency

We recently potty-trained our three year old daughter. This process was a great chance to integrate my understanding of predictive processing with a real life case of personal growth. Potty training a child is also a great example of how understanding yourself as a computational system can help you achieve your own personal growth. One […]

Faith as Rational Technique

A common belief among rational, materialist adults is that faith is destructive.  People like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins argue that all of our beliefs should be based on reason and evidence. By ignoring reason and evidence, they argue, faith allows people to believe all kinds of destructive falsehoods that end up having strongly negative […]

Empathy, Agency, and Turing Completeness

The ability to simulate other computational systems is incredibly powerful.  When a human mentally simulates a machine, we call it debugging or reasoning.  When a human mentally simulates another human, we call it empathy. Yet in both cases, the process is the same: a computational system (human or machine) models and predicts the behavior of […]

Predictive Processing Explains “Show, don’t Tell”

The predictive processing model of whole brain function gives a pretty good explanation for why the advice “show it, don’t tell it” works so well. When you tell someone, you’re giving them a higher level narrative, which ostenbily generates sensory predictions. These sensory predictions don’t necessarily line up with the current observed sensory inputs, and […]

Code as Writing, Version 2.0

It’s impossible to understand humanity without understanding how we store and transmit information. The technology of writing has heavily shaped the human experience. When writing was invented, it enabled new kinds of human cooperation, such as governments and commerce.  Most people don’t think of writing as a technology, and most people don’t think of governmental […]

Moral Algorithms

Why Justice Requires Computation I’d like to be able to say for certain that I own zero slaves.  Of course, I don’t own slaves outright, in the de jure sense. There is no person who works for me without pay, and I don’t have any title or deed to such a person.  But I’m not […]

Rhyme and Meter are Error Correcting Codes

Any electrical engineer will tell you: the two ways to overcome noise on a channel are using energy to boost your signal, and adding redundancy on the channel. Energy makes the signal louder. Redundancy allows receivers to better deal with loss. Shakespeare didn’t have electrical amplifiers, but he did have ancient, error-correcting code technology known […]

A Modern Bodhisattva Vow

Beings are numberless, so let’s make sure everyone counts. Delusions are inexhaustible, so let’s be emission-free. Opportunities to help are boundless, so let’s get rich together. Accelerating an object to the speed of light would require infinite energy, so i hope this brightens your day.

How to (Actually) Follow the Golden Rule

“Treat other people the way you’d like to be treated.”  It sounds simple, right? How hard could it be? And yet most of us who say we believe this rule fail to abide by it. I know I do. Why? Most people would say something like, “because we are human, and no one is perfect.” […]