Jump to Universality

The jump to universality has two phases. Before universality, one needs to create specialized objects. For example, Roman numerals would need to add a new symbol to raise the maximum value or adding a pictogram to a language to represent a new word. After universality, one need only customize or configure a universal object. For example, printing a different book on a movable type printing press, sending an email to someone new, or inventing a new word with the same alphabet.

See also:

  • Every Human Consciousness Lives at Once in a Collection of Brains

    Because the human brain is a universal machine, it contains multiple strange loops that are coarse-grained copies of other strange loops housed in other brains at varying degrees of fidelity. Those you resonate most with in life (family member, a spouse, etc.) you know so well you can almost feel their feelings, recall their memories, and experience the world they would. These can not be explained by mere rote memory (perception is not reception and awareness) but something more closely resembling our own self-hood.

  • The Jump to Remote Work Universality

    Remote work has not yet made the jump to universality. We’re still in the phase of “specialized work objects” which are a combination technology to perform the work, jobs that can be performed remotely, and businesses that can operate anywhere.

  • Advantages of Open Source AI

    It’s almost inevitable that, after an initial research phase, progress of AI models and tools will come from open source communities rather than a corporation. Individuals can utilize fair-use to do things businesses can not do (e.g. using leaked LLaMa weights and fine tuning it). There are more people to work on fringe usecases that do not have to be commercialized. Finally, open source increases access (running 13B LLMs on a laptop, on a Raspberry Pi) allowing more people to try it and provide more feedback.

  • Measuring Infinity

    In a thought experiment from The Beginning of Infinity, the author introduces a universe traveling device. During a set interval, you hold the button you go from universe 1 to universe 2 for one minute then on to universe 3 for 30 seconds and so on until you release it and are taken back to universe 1. By the time two minutes is up, you will have traversed the infinite set of universes. If the instrument could take readings along the way, you have a way to measure infinity.

  • The Turing-Test Is an Empiricist Mistake

    The Turing-test is rooted in the idea that a human can judge whether something is an Artificial Intelligence merely by the behaviors it exhibits during the test. In reality, a judgment of whether or not it’s a genuine AI requires an explanation of how it works.

  • Natural Language User Interface

    One of the super powers of large language models is that it can “do what I mean” instead of “do what I say”. This ability to interpret prompts can drastically lower the barriers to accessing and interoperating between systems. For example, writing “Send a slack message to the Ops channel with a list of customers from HubSpot that signed up in the last week” would generate actions that query the HubSpot Contacts API, parse and extract the results, and make another API request to Slack to post to the #ops channel.

  • Universality Leads to NP-Complete Problems

    There is a surprising link between universality and NP-complete problems in computer science.

  • Computers Are Universal Objects

    Computers can be programmed to do anything a model of computation can express. You don’t need to buy a new computer to run Microsoft Word and buy another computer to run Slack. The jump to universality in computers opened up an infinite set of possibilities via software.

  • Language Is an Extension of Our Bodies

    When we use language to communicate with each other, other bodies become an extension of ourselves. We can ask someone to do so something and we’ve effectively taken a thought that exists in our brain, transferred it to another brain, and carried out the task. We can share ideas, even loosely defined, by writing and sharing the words. Even right now, my brain is connected to yours—as you read this, you are transforming a linked list of ideas into understanding.

  • Atoms and Bits

    The prevailing industry of the last century was the industry of atoms—physical infrastructure, extraction of natural resources, and moving things around faster.

  • Chatbots Lack Affordances

    When interacting with a chatbot, there are not indications of what to say or how to say it. Without affordances, it’s difficult to know what to do at first.

  • A Strange Loop Gives Rise to Human Selfhood

    A strange loop is a combination of traits that creates the condition for selfhood. Categories of numerous symbols derive meaning from raw stimuli. Categorization leads to perception rather than reception. Abstractions create reality and high-level behavior no longer consists of lower-level behavior only. The loop reinforces the idea of the ‘self’ and the self feels the most real.