Eisenstein g_3 modular form on the Poincaré disk

As a physicist, I get to think about free will just like the rest of ’em. I was recently prompted to set my thoughts to writing on the talk page of the Wikipedia article free will theorem. I think I can string together a few more pieces, and clarify how it actually “all works”. Caution: the rest of this article is about physics and math. So good luck with that, if you are not widely read.

The free will theorem starts with three postulates: an upper bound to the speed of information; the importance of spinors, and quantum entanglement. Not…


Before neurotransmitters, there was bacterial signalling, for example, quorum sensing in bacteria. Signalling with small polypeptides can solve certain kinds of decision problems, for example, the exploit vs explore problem in slime molds (basically, the trade-off of effort searching for new food sources, vs. “exploiting” (eating) the current food source). It can be shown that the slime mold solves the two-armed bandit problem quite well, but not as well as the best possible algorithm (explore vs exploit is a mathematically known as the “two-armed bandit problem“). …


Suppressing Data, Fake and Real

We all know that facebook and many other web sites are now engaged in the active suppression of false and misleading information. We know this “intellectually”, even if we have not experienced it first hand. We also know that some innocent victims, bystanders get swept up in the process. And that clearly, a waterfall of COVID info is involved. This is the story of an innocent victim: the suppression of true, scientific data.

google shows it, but try following the links!

If you want to experience this first-hand, try searching for exactly this phrase: “Comparing COVID Deaths to Seasonal Flu Deaths” in your…


A short essay inspired by discussions of Jonathan Haidt’s book “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (2012)”

Those who studied science in high-school may recall learning how to fit a straight line through a set of points that were not-so-straight. This was called the “least squares fit”.

If you have multiple dimensions, the name changes to “linear regression”, but the idea doesn’t. …


I have only one question, but it is complicated to explain. But I enjoy asking it, so I will once-again, type it in the long way, instead of pointing you at some pre-existing blog post. It is about the future of humankind. But it has to start with bacteria.

Bacteria use certain small polypeptide molecules to communicate and make decisions (so do tree-roots and plants) For example, anthrax is sensitive to the local concentration of one such polypeptide. When its low, the anthrax goes about its daily life of living. When it is high, it goes into attack-mode: it manufactures…


Free speech on college campuses. This is debated in some circles. Some of the debaters seem not to understand what is happening. Here’s a meta-explanation.

College campuses — the 16–22 year-old-set, tend to give voice to what was silently burbling about in homes and social settings five years earlier, when they were 10–17, first becoming aware of socio-political issues in their community. They absorbed, as pre-teens, and now they speak, as they morph into young adults … importantly, these are their first coherent self-expressions, as they first learn how to harness confused thoughts into rational structures. …


We are all hyper-aware of political polarization these days. But what is the cause, how can it be explained? One model is the so-called “echo chamber”, where you only hear the opinions similar to your own. In the old days (centuries ago) we’d say “birds of a feather flock together”. Sure, social media has a way of amplifying the echoes. Sure, the algorithms at FB, g+, etc. artificially boost the echoes.

Another model is the “infectious disease” model — that thoughts and beliefs spread from person to person, by contact. This is a mathematically interesting model, as it explicitly represents…


An excerpt from a post from Alexander Kruel:

(3) At Google, managers are cautioned about rewarding people who exhibit values such as meritocracy, winning, avoiding conflict, and a belief in objectivity because they are part of the “white/male” culture.[3]
[3] Class-action lawsuit against Google, page 51 onwards https://www.dropbox.com/s/qumybkgxo5lb8kx/20180418%20Damore%2C%20et%20al.%20v.%20Google%20-%20FAC.pdf?dl=0

My defensive reply:

Writing about point (3) is … a mine-field. But if I don’t, I will be remiss in my duties as a human being. Let me start like so: pretty much everyone I have ever met, everyone I know, everyone I love, and everyone I hate, is a broken, defective…


The Singularity and Your Place in It

Here’s the short version. Bacteria signal to each other using short chemical peptides. This allows bacteria to solve problems: for example, you (everyone) has anthrax on your skin, but you don’t die because the anthrax is not attacking you, because it knows it will loose, unless it has a sufficient number of friends to help (determined by chemical signaling). So it lays dormant. Slime mold uses this to solve the two-armed bandit problem, tree roots and shrubbery communicate this way, etc. …


So, Bernie Sanders thinks that the Pope is a socialist — well, that’s old news, if you’d been paying attention. Bernie’s rebroadcasting the obvious. Perhaps the Church had to elect him Pope — to make up for the sins under Ratzinger. Child-rape is a terrible thing.

A more interesting topic for me is the nature of the human creative impulse, and how it interacts with culture and society. So Max Weber, the father of sociology, points out that it was the Protestants who created the Industrial Revolution. They were trying to recreate Heaven on Earth; they believed that good works…

Linas Vepstas

AGI nerd

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