What if we paid for restaurants like we pay for school?

Sending my daughter a Montessori school costs about $15,000 per year. We have two daughters and plan a third child so we may be paying $45,000 per year for some time to send three kids to private school. The cost is worth it because I do not believe that public schools are capable of preparing children for success in life. My own experience as an honors student in a “quality” public school made me hate learning, failed to prepare me for college, and was a miserable social experience.

I don’t mind paying for my children’s education. What I mind is that I still have to pay for government schools that my children will never use.

Imagine if we applied this reasoning to food:

“People must eat to live, so we will force everyone to pay for Golden Corral buffets.
If you don’t like Golden Corral, you can eat somewhere else. You still have to pay for everyone else to eat Golden Corral though because Food is a Right.
If people could choose which restaurant they want to pay, Golden Corral might not have enough money to keep its buffet stocked, and people would go hungry.
Anyway, since you can afford to pay for Golden Corral *and* Five Guys, you must be rich, so paying for your and other kids meals must not be a problem for you. Also, Five Guys must take a portion of what you pay them and send it to Golden Corral, via property taxes on their building.

By the way, you can try to make food at home, but if Golden Corral’s Food Inspector does not like it, he will abduct your family and force feed them Golden Corral. After all, Everyone Must Eat.”

Feminists ought to welcome the rise of the sex robots

Johanna Legatt writes: “There is little coincidence that these sophisticated sex robots have emerged at a time when women’s rights are under threat across the globe, when there is a president in the White House who has bragged about sexually assaulting women”

1: Is it really true that “women’s rights are under threat across the globe?” One can reasonably conclude that in the Islamic world, which has rolled back Western norms introduced during colonialism. Everywhere else, women have more rights (and face fewer sexual violence) than any other time in history.
In many Western countries, it is taboo to even suggest that women are biological and psychologically different from men.

2: “Sophisticated sex robots” are not a thing. The “sex robots” are just deluxe versions of blow-up dolls with a tape player inside. We can’t even get robots to walk upright properly. Virtually all of the statements in the article are marketing hype. The ability to hold a realistic conversation is several dozens to several hundred years away.

3: It is sexist and Victorian of the author to suggest that sexual desire belongs exclusively to men. The implication that men have uncontrollable sexual desires to rape women (apparently triggered by sex dolls), whereas women are sex-less beings is an outdated and sexist relic.

4: If “sophisticated sex robots” are ever a real thing, it would be a great boon for male-female relationships. For the first time in history, men (and women!) could honestly say that they are interested in love and companionship rather than sex when they seek out romantic partners.

5: “sophisticated sex robots” would be a great boon to feminism as well. For example, older men would have no reason to seek younger women solely for their physical attributes. The value of female attractiveness would be greatly depreciated when robots with perfect looks and obedience are easily available, and women would be forced to compete with men in the workplace based solely on their mental faculties.

6: Feminists in relationships should appreciate that the invention of a perfect “sex toy” will perfect the separation between sexual orientation and romantic relationships since one’s sexual needs will be able to be perfectly met regardless of the biological sex of one’s partners.

The sapient mind is a parasite

The conscious, rational mind is a parasite which has hijacked the homo sapiens species for its own purposes.

For billions of years, life on earth was organized by genes directing primitive bio mechanical systems. Recently, the genes began building neural networks with built-in instructions, and even the capability to pass learned behaviors between generations. But the genes screwed up royally when they enabled the replicators doing their bidding to override their programming and develop a culture of their own.

You see, when homo sapiens invented culture, they gained the ability to overrule their genetic programming and do whatever their rational facilities wanted – to an extent. Culture evolves far faster than genes and enabled humans to totally transform their way of life, their environment, and nearly their entire planet. Culture increasingly made evolutionary development irrelevant, as humans increasingly directed both their own and other species sexual selection according to volitional rather than instinctual principles. Although humans are still biologically quite similar to their primate cousins, their newfound dependence on a tool-using culture has led them to evolve such that they cannot survive without tools in nearly all of the environments that they currently dwell in.

By no means is the victory complete. While humans do use their rational facilities to cooperatively provide for their sustenance and raise their offspring, the automatic, and instinctual processes of their brains often sabotage their efforts and cause them to lose their focus on goals, kill each other, or frustrate attempts to mate and reproduce. However, with the passage of time, the domination of the volitional layer is becoming ever more complete. Even within my own brief lifetime, most humans worldwide have visibly increased their capacity for manipulating abstract concepts to cope with the complexity of life in an information economy.

While I’ve called the mind a parasite, don’t mistake that identification for a pejorative. My sympathies — and self-identification lie firmly with my volitional consciousness, not with the animal body that it operates. We may soon face the option of abandoning our biological firmware and operating our minds on a superior computational platform, and I would welcome the possibility. We have already begun the process of offloading computation to our computers whenever possible. It may not be long until humans regard our biological basis as an inferior and unnecessary vestige of our origins.

Laziness must be learned

After reading the “toddler maximum effort” story, I was thinking back to when Sophie was an infant. I noticed that while she was crawling around or playing, she was usually covered with sweat.
We adults sometimes think that because kids are not good at the things we take for granted, their play is not focused or meaningful. In fact, babies are far more likely than adults in engage in prolonged “maximum intensity” effort. Productivity is our default mode, while laziness must be learned!
The activity we call “play” refers to its low economic value to adults, not to a difference in the level of effort or concentration.

I would argue that most caregivers in West systematically discourage kids from meaningful self-directed work until they become the average lazy adult. We invented concepts like “adolescence” as the label for the chronic disease we created by interfering with the natural development of children through forced schooling, the prohibition of child labor, limits on unsupervised outdoor play, etc.

How to prepare your life for the Technological Singularity

If you believe that a technological singularity is coming in the 2030’s, is there anything you can do now to prepare? Yes, plenty:

Career:

As increasing automation replaces rote human labor with machines, work that requires creativity, adaptability, and self-direction is becoming more valuable.  Expert systems will augment and then replace technicians, and deep understanding and expertise will fall in importance relative to broad cross-functional heuristics.  Engineering and programming will increasingly be performed by creatives working with high-level design tools, while algorithms work out the technical details.  “Employment” itself will become obsolete, and most work will be performed by either temp workers waiting to be obsoleted by AI or entrepreneurs.

The majority of the legacy workforce will gradually discover that their technical expertise is irrelevant and spend the rest of their lives living on welfare and consuming media – probably playing nostalgic games in a holodeck or having virtual orgies. While many people would not have a problem with such a lifestyle, given that I don’t have a TV or a Netflix account, I would rather develop skills that require higher-level skills.   Rapid technological change, automation, and on-demand, on-site manufacturing will make highly specialized roles obsolete.  Future-proofed workers will need to develop a high-level understanding of research, creative, technology, and marketing, while algorithms work out the details.

Personal Finance:
There are two likely possibilities: either pre-singularity differences in material wealth will be nullified (because the AI’s eat us, or standardize our resource utilization), or they will be dramatically amplified, as the value of capital goods increases exponentially.

Rapid technological progress will make predicting successful companies and sector impossible as billion dollar startups rise and fall overnight. Therefore, a highly diversified, international (intergalactic?) portfolio may offer the safest returns. If existing property claims survive, they may be magnified a million fold or more, so $1000 may become a million, and even modest portfolios may be worth a few star systems.

Furthermore, technology-independent resources such as land and broad ETFs will be more stable than fixed capital assets such as cars, houses, currencies, precious metals, etc. How can we know what assets are still relevant when the economy transitions to new paradigm every night? That will require a degree of social adaptability:

Social Adaptability:
Rapid shifts in technology will enable rapid cultural evolution. New fashion trends will drive demand for new products and technological sectors, just as the invention of the smartphone created new markets and changes work and leisure in the last 10 years.
When most humans are freed up from the need to work, the economic and cultural focus will shift to leisure goods and new kinds of entrepreneurial activity (asteroid mining, undersea colonies, etc). It will be increasingly difficult and yet crucial to stay aware of the cultural trends.

Furthermore, constraints such as ethnicity, gender, sexuality, species, consciousness etc, will become increasingly fluid and amorphous. We’ll need to become tolerant of and respectful of lifestyle and identify choices that we cannot imagine today. Today’s culture wars over transgender people will seem laughable when it will be trivial to change one’s sex overnight, and then back again. We’ll be much more concerned with questions of identity and ethics raised by uploaded, cloned, and synthetic beings. Will our base-human bodies remain relevant in such a world?

Health:
As the singularity approaches, traditional medical treatment paradigms will be overtaken by new ones:
first: personalized medicine based on test automation and DNA profiles,
second: nanotechnology and synthetic biology (such as stem-cell) treatments, and finally,
third: large-scale bioengineering (growing organs and bodies ex-vivo) and/or mind uploading.
The focus will shift from medicine that treats problems to bioengineering existing and new humans in order to improve on nature.

These changes already face fierce resistance from our monopolistic social-political structures. It will up to you to take charge of your biological evolution.  For example, because the US government prohibits companies like 23andme from informing customers about the full health implications of their DNA, I exported the raw DNA data for my family and analyzed it using Promethease to get our risk profiles using the latest research. (I also a found a relative from my birth county in Ukraine.)
I spent a month in Thailand getting medical treatments which would have been prohibitively expensive in the USA. In 2010, rather than rely on the medical monopoly’s recommendations, we adopted a low-carb, Paleolithic-style diet and dramatically improved our health.

If you want to take advantage of radical new health innovations, you will need to perform your own research on radical opportunity for both repairing and augmenting your biology.

Why most university degrees are worthless, Part 2

When I say that “most university degrees are worthless” I don’t mean “no one should go to college” or “drop out of school now.”

I mean that the objective value of university degrees is more often than not negative. If governments stopped subsidizing higher education, the vast majority of young people and employers would find a way to match with each other without wasting four years.

By this, I don’t mean “in a theoretical utopia you don’t need to go to school, but in the real world, you better start on your applications.” The fact is that many, if not most young people *are* needlessly wasting four years and getting into lifelong debt for no good reason. The alternative to university is not “apply to the same position four years earlier” — though in many cases college grads and dropouts do end up in jobs they could have gotten out of high school.   If you’re determined to be a industrial engineer, brain surgeon, rocket scientist, you currently have no choice but to get a degree.  However the majority of students – the business, english, history, education, and other assorted liberal arts majors have no business being there.

The real alternative to college is to find a way to build skills and demonstrate your market value with less time and money than a conventional education. Vocational training, apprenticeships, online courses are all possible paths to a career. People often respond to this argument by pointing out that college grads tend to earn much higher incomes than those with only high school diplomas. But this is a misleading statistic because a university is nearly universally viewed as the only means to a successful career, so highly motivated people are brainwashed into thinking that success means going to school. If these people were aware that another option was open to them, they might be even more successful.

Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, John Mackey, and many more dropped out of school when they realized that the benefit of starting their careers immediately exceeded the return on their degrees. I’m not saying that everyone could be a billionaire if they drop out, but how many people needlessly delay the real world to meet someone else’s standard of success?

Do I regret going to school? No – I regret going to school with the expectation that a degree in itself would guarantee a good career, instead of the goal to become someone who could create value in the market. When I failed out of aerospace engineering as a freshman, I regret not taking a break to decide what career I wanted instead of changing to the first major that seemed interesting at the time. I regret leaving the dot-com I started with a friend as a junior to focus on my grades, instead of working harder to make the business a success. I regret not starting my career with two useless bachelor’s degrees and learning to code instead of getting a useless masters that I never used. I regret not pursuing my passion for web design during my senior year of high school in 1999, when I mastered Dreamweaver and started my first blog.

Here is the mistake that so many make: I delayed entry into the real world for as long as possible based on the lie that what I learned in school would be valued by the market, and my skill at passing tests would translate to skill at doing a job. I was wrong: I spent the first ten years of my career learning for the first time how to be a productive worker. In short – I let my schooling interfere with my education.

Evolution and protein synthesis is the basis of biology

Biology has two aspects: the why and how. The why is evolution. The how is protein synthesis.

Evolution is best understood in terms of game theory. Protein synthesis is nanotechnology – self-replicating information systems.

The underlying theme of biology is information processing – the way systems interact, and the way simple systems create complex patterns. Combine the two and you can explain most everything about living beings.

You can learn the basic patterns of these elements in a few days. Everything you learn about biology afterwards will be filling in details.

Learning the game theory behind evolution will help you understand much more than biology. For example, human psychology and behavior, individual, social, economic, and political can be understood as a set of iterated game theory scenarios.

My point in saying this is not to reveal any deep truths, but to show how the essentials are missed for a flood of facts. (I refer to both biology curriculums in schools and popular nature documentaries.) No wonder half of Americans believe the world is 6000 years old.