A Letter to Our Readers

Dear Reader,

You may have noticed an update to our ‘About’ page. In it we describe our ever-changing philosophy. At first glance you may think that the essay is about how we are becoming a culture oriented organization, and you wouldn’t be too far off. However culture extends to art and music, and oftentimes art, music, and business (as much at this website can be called a business) don’t mix. So, you might ask, what is going on here? Well, let me explain.

In reality, and by intention the post in the ‘About’ page is not about culture at all, it is about technology. That is the technology of Artificial Intelligence and the changes which it promises to bring. So first let me briefly bring you up to speed on recent developments in AI theory. Here we will talk about AI strategy and philosophy, not applications (which are the main aspects of AI research you see in the news today). AI today is working its way towards being a cohesive “formal system,” that is a system which can know things about itself, and be able to tell us about the world around us. These two things are very important, some formal systems lack the former and are only able to tell us things about our world, and these are not the types of systems which humans are currently designing with today’s AI. In essence the overall strategy is to design a system which can align with humans values and with humanity in general, so that when it does become more intelligent than we are, it will do what we want. This in essence is the thinking of today’s theoretical and philosophical AI researchers. The researchers at the Future of Humanity Institute, The Future of Life Institute, The Machine Intelligence Research Institute, The Open Philanthropy Project, The Center for Existential Risk and many others are doing this research in order to protect us form this technology which promises to be able to think and do pretty much anything better than we can.

So where does culture fit into this you might ask? Well, I have another answer for you. Most people working in the field are working in order to get to a point so that there will always be room for humans. In order to work alongside robots, and in order to live our lives with them, we must become better versions of ourselves. We must continue to do the things which make us truly human. To those of us at WithLiberty these things are cultural.

So while the statement is a plan of action for our business, or foundation, or whatever you would like to call it, it is also a statement of our operational philosophy. And I would like direct your attention to the last paragraph on the page:

We spread economic freedom and the ideas of liberty, by practicing them. Our network is predicated on the advancement of society and its culture. Our audience is the planet. We are an experiment in living and learning. We accept any human who wishes to make a contribution to our cause. We leave no one behind. We believe that the best of humanity is of what is yet to come, so our business plan is this: we will open the door.

The first line, is political and is a theory of change for today’s increasingly uncertain world stage. We believe that in order to maintain and further the blessings of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we must embody those things in all of our lives. We extend this notion to the arts, sciences, and everything in between. And finally, the last line. This is our philosophy for the future. We plan to open the door for the next chapter. To usher the people of the world, whoever they may be, into the future, dignified, proud, and resolute, ready for any challenge.

That is the mission of WithLiberty, and Thank You, Dear Reader, for coming along with me and with all us on our journey. Wherever the road may take you, WithLiberty stands with you.

James Rice

Founder and Leader of the Board

Banisadr

Ali Banisadr’s installation at the Matrix gallery at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut is a haunting, yet realistic metaphor for the world we live in today. The artist exhibits 12 original works along with a curated section with works by other artists which were available in the museum’s archive, and were ‘inspirations’ for the artists work. Upon entering the gallery, your eye immediately goes to the largest work which stands opposite the door for added effect. It is entitled the healers and is a rabid frenzy of oil paint colored in the industrial blues, greys, reds, and silvers of an inner city’s social network internet cyberstructure. This complex arrangement of shapes immediately takes the form of a mass of huddled figures who are bent out of proportion into the twisted amalgamation of, with a quick glance around the room, which is Banisadr’s signature style. Moving clockwise around the gallery, you come upon the painting entitled “Red” which to me likens of fires burning deep inside a blast furnace, the likes of which you would see at a metal smelting plant. However the figures are still there in the foreground with a more aquatic feel this time, with deep sea teeth gnashing turquoise and pale green ellipses who fade into the background to the ‘trench’ which becomes an orange sky. While many people could interpret this one as being a nod to this year’s COVID epidemic, I see it as something much more striking. A look at what will become of our planets climate. An encroachment and slow death of our oceans. A reddening of the sky, with the heat from the sun beating down on the last cool places which will be familiar to us, until they are gone.

Moving forward about the gallery, we come upon a smaller multimedia work which was made with aquatint with photogravure, spitbite, drypoint, and burnishing on paper. None of which I have the faintest idea what process they entail. The picture is gritty, granular, and raw. Its use of black, white, and a few seemingly bioluminescent figures appearing out of the cloud are the few things that make this one stand out from the others. Next we have “Cannon Hidden in Roses” on paper, using the same media to make out the forms on the page. This one is much more colorful and takes hints from 1960’s graffiti/ newspaper works of the likes of contemporaries such as Jaune Smith and Yoko Ono.

Around to the right is “The Caravan” and one of my personal favorites of the installation. Its light background tinged with purple sings to the viewer, while the curvature of the few inflections on top, bring a sense of inner peace. The figures there are playful, and whimsical. Meanwhile the foreground is like an abstraction of a PT Barnum Circus, complete with three rings. While the rings don’t play a part in the actual painting, here all the trappings of a school of gypsy playwrights who travel for pleasure and money are present. Simply a delight.

Following are two more, named “Interior” and “Exterior,” and they are similar in nature and color to “Cannon Hidden in Roses” from before. “Treasure” follows and is as true to name as can be with seagulls swooping down to pick gold doubloons or pieces or bread without discretion from the hands of unwary seafaring travelers below. The green and gold gives this painting an air of murk and plunder from unscrupulous watery depths.

There are four more original works in the gallery (one slightly hidden) and a curated section which brings one of the four walls to life with a contrasting collection of artifacts from the Museum, including a Goya. See for yourself.

A Snowmaker’s dream

The dark sun rises. 

Full moon.

Blackness.

Bone shattering cold.

Nothing to think about.

The mind wanders.

The chairlift creaks.

Snow falls.

Too little.

Tomorrow night again.

Easy now.

“This thing could blow your head off.”

The wind whistles.

The tree limb breaks.

Covered with snow. 

I am breaking too. 

Little by little. 

They don’t know.

Machine Intelligence

Machine intelligences are all around us in society, so why is no one talking about them? With many prominent figures in the world of computer science talking about how we may have Artificial General Intelligence in our world in 20-30 years is seems strange that no one is raising the bells of alarm. Well, actually they are. Reports are being put out by places like the Oxford Future of Humanity Institute, and the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, which not only go into the mathematics behind aligning our AI’s with our values in the case that become more intelligent than us, but also in the strategies that we should employ in our research towards this goal of AGI. If there is one word to describe how we should proceed, it is carefully. There are a myriad of uses for AGI not including controlling the entire means of production through machine intelligence and computation. This is the case we will examine today.

Imagine for instance that a machine was capable of controlling the entire economy. Yes, I do mean the entire economy. From production to distribution, filing transactions and marketing, to closing mergers where economically optimal to maintain efficiency. Sound unlikely? We may be closer than you think. This is what researchers have in mind when they mention terms like AGI. An AI that can do everything we can do, but better. So what role will humans have to play? Granted there will be a long transition period (see my work “On Artificial Intelligence” for a technical explanation of how work is changing now) but it seems that soon our world will be a lot different than it is now. The questions to ponder if you are questioning this reality would be: Would a machine be better at creating and operating new machines than us? Would a machine be able to route delivery trucks better than us? Would a machine be able to create content and entertainment that we would like? Think of the jobs that have already been automated and the amount of work today (virtually none) that is done in office buildings. In fact the only work that is done today is of two classes; manual labor which may take a long time to be overtaken by machines, and human resources oriented white collar jobs (most of the rest, including some aspects of law can be automated). Now I am not saying that there will not be a place for humans, I am just saying that the world will be a very different place in 20 years, and the nature of the changes may take us a long time for us to realize, as a society, what is going on.

Some issues pressing researchers now are; what to do if a small group of individuals makes an AGI and as a result gains skyfall profits? How will we ensure that they do not hold the rest of humanity beholden to their every whim. This brings a whole new meaning to the term “class struggle.” However as of right now AI is quite benign. Most intelligences use linear or quadratic, or even some use higher order approximations to the truth in a statistical language that is hardly representational of the way humans think. But the changes will come faster and faster as the nature of AI research is such that it builds on itself, accelerating and accelerating so that the machine will build and improve on itself. Ever expanding into new domains which were once thought the realm of only humans. What will happen to the human race? Join me as I embark on a research journey across space and time to catch a glimpse of the cutting edge in AI research and to discover the future of man on earth.

The Class Society We Live In Part III

It is the privatization of education which will make it truly available to all. All but the most abject stragglers must be allowed to learn the ways of the world through the free market. It is in the students interest to learn what they will, the parents interest to give their children an education that suits their needs, not the governments’.There is no greater burden on the development of a just and equal society than government schooling. The poor are subject to schools which are made for the poor, and to breed further development of the lower class. The rich are sustained in schooling which allows them to remain in their positions of power and wealth whether they deserve it by merit or merely seek to squander their inheritances. There is no objectivity in a system which treats each child the same regardless of their sex, disability status, class status, origin, creed, or race. This is the system where children drop out, never pursue their dreams, and never realize their full potential. There is no joy or happiness in a government run schooling system. There is no feeling of discovery, of wonder, or of enlightenment. K-12 education in the U.S. today is a childcare system, not an educational one. It is where parents send their kids while they go to work and they come home and ask not what incredible things did you learn, what new ideas were you exposed to today, but a dull, how was it? How did you get along with your fellow students? How did they treat you? The question parents have been asking for decades is how were you taught today? Not what were you taught. This should be the true question asked in schools what did you learn. What schools of thought do your teachers adhere to? Are they a modernist? A Platonist? A realist? A revisionist? A neoliberal? Why do you think they think that way? and finally, what do you think? A child should always be asked his opinion, given a chance to speak his mind not only about the subject matter, but also about the manner of teaching and the method. This is true freedom in education.

Living For The Sake Of Living

Just a one cannot objectively learn for the sake of learning, think for the sake of thinking, work for the sake of working, it is nearly impossible to sustain a lifestyle where one only lives for the sake of living. But then what greater purpose should one live for? Well, there are an infinite number of possibilities. You could work to create a better world for the poor, fulfilling an inner altruistic desire. You could learn how to speak a foreign language, in order to advance your goal of living in a new country, for instance. You could think about a new invention that may or may not work, or strategize on how to build a business quickly or for the long term. Thinking is one of those things where often the mind wanders, bringing obtrusive thoughts or repressed memories into the forefront of the mind. Often times it is difficult to sustain thought on topics you know little about, or to follow a line of thinking without second guessing yourself and your prior beliefs about a topic. There is one thing thought that is above reproach on any level, and that is thinking for the sake of thinking. It leads nowhere, and is in one work redundant, and another work it is evil. Just as having a conversation that leads to nothing but small talk endlessly wastes both persons’ time, a thought that is whimsical for the sake of being whimsical could be spent on something more valuable to the mind. This is not merely a means of exercising the minds’ rational capacity, but of checking that the apparatus of thought is not in any way damaged. It is clear that when thought has devolved into that of a madman that thinking relinquishes its grip on the actions of the body and that emotions take hold. In this sense emotions take control and it is if the ship is sailing under full sail without a rudder or any way to control the sails. They are completely at the mercy of the wind, storms, and currents.

Now the saying ‘I live simply because I am alive,’ is equally abhorrent. If you were to exist in a box with no means of escape, food given to you, and no outside contact, you would be living because you were alive. The thing that all humans aspire to live to and by is their ideals of the future. Because we have this sense of time that the universe has given to us and which advances in a predictable, orderly fashion, we can plan our lives around this line that never ends, only advances, and advances further. I live for what tomorrow might bring, and so in that way, I live for today. The future begins now, barreling down on us with no end in sight. To set in place today, the stones which might tomorrow become a great tower, dedicated to life as we know it on earth and all that one has achieved in his life time that is the mark of the human, and a great one at that.

The Class Society We Live In Part II

When thinking about interfirm competition for workers, It is important to examine the capital which each worker has available to him in order to perform a certain job or activity. Let’s say for example that all a worker needs is a computer, and with some technical training he or she will be able to work on a database remotely, managing the structure of file storage in the database. Now let’s say for example that for another job, in addition to the computer, the worker also needs to have the ability to move to a new location, far away, say New York City, or San Francisco. This is an additional burden on the worker, not just because of the cost of moving, but the ‘opportunity cost’ of the people, places, and things that he cares for that he may have to leave behind.

This is the nature of the job market today, it presupposes the ownership of certain types of capital. This has vast impacts and makes it prohibitively expensive for individuals of the lower class to move upwards within the class system. Take for example, a young capitalist, living with his parents in Connecticut, USA. He receives an offer for a job in New York City, but the move will cost him, and will bump up the costs on his entire family. It will also take some time before he starts to make money, causing some sort of ‘transition cost’ between his current work and the line of work which he plans to go into. These costs cause him to remain in his current state of affairs and also cost the City of New York a valuable asset in his field.

In some cases these transition costs can make it virtually impossible for new workers to gain entrance in to their chosen field, say after they graduate college, or even before. This I believe is due to the system of occupational licensing. There are certain standards one must meed in order to become something as simple as a hairdresser in the United States, this moves up the cost (once again we will use cost, as in the sense of something like a transition cost) of entering that profession. This also increases the cost of entering professions that are related to the profession of hairdresser (of which there are admittedly few).

The best example of this is a Professorship at a decent school. This ‘elite’ job is prohibitively difficult to attain for the sole purpose of education. The costs of any job related to being a professor are also incredibly high. For example a teaching assistant. Usually a Ph.D. student, teaching assistants must first have gotten high marks through college, pass a standardized test such as the GRE (for U.S. schools) and gain admittance into a school which offers Ph.D. graduate assistantships. The opportunity costs alone are sky high for this job. I think I have made my point here and I will move to another related job of a university professor. The administrative assistant. Let us say for example that a university department hires administrative assistants from within their students, and that this job pays the minimum wage. Students are going through college making the minimum wage which is not nearly enough to support themselves, especially not at, maybe, 15 hours per week. And these student workers have more education than over half the population, and are in fact located in a center for learning which refuses to accept that they actually know what they are doing.

In the next part of this series I will discuss privatizing education, and how this can work to eliminate these class mobility barriers which we have seen in this article.

The Class Society We Live In

There are two dominant classes in the United States today. There is the elite, career holding class made up of suburban parents, professionals, and wealthy urbanites. And there is the ‘underclass,’ a class not necessarily characterized by their lower income (they can make just as much if not more than some in the upper, yet still middle, class), but by the nature and status of the jobs which they can hold. These jobs held by the lower class, which is lower only by social status, not by education or knowledge or understanding, are by nature somewhat like a revolving door. The jobs come and go, some elites may call this the gig economy, and you often think of jobs like Uber or Lyft driving or meal delivery, or package delivery for the likes of UPS or FedEx. This is the characterization of the lower class, and it relegates their income to being sporadic and unreliable. The wealthy upper class cannot make this distinction between working for a company like Uber, or working a manual labor job serving the suburban elites in an occupation like landscape construction, or even just regular landscaping. Because there is virtually no distinction, the line blurs and becomes incomprehensible. When referring to the gig economy, this does not mean the fact that upbeat drivers have to wait 10-15 minutes between the rides that are coming in off their smartphone apps. No, it means the fact that the person driving for Uber, Lyft, or landscaping, does not intend to hold the job for a long period of time or the nature of the job does not enable him to.

It is almost as if we have relegated humans to a system of interchangeable parts.

These are rotating service jobs in which human labor is thought to be disposable, and it is. A farm owner can simply hire another, different farm hand to replace one which he is not happy with, or train a new tractor driver in a short amount of time because of the low skill nature of the job. In essence, the companies that these workers work for are providing a service to the clients (transportation, landscape services such as mowing, or production of food), and the workers are providing a service to their employers. It is almost as if we have relegated humans to a system of interchangeable parts. So, the question is, is this good or bad for the economy, and if it is bad, what can we do about it. I take the view that this is not an ideal world, and so I will try to recommend a policy change. First we must take a deeper exploration into the root of the problem. In the next part of this series on the class struggle in the United States, I will explore the nature of competition within companies for this ‘gig economy’ driven labor, and the nature of competition between companies for clients. The nature of competition within companies for clients is particularly important because of the idea that every man is his own boss and advocate. We will explore these ideas in more depth tomorrow.

Our Business Report

WithLiberty was founded on November 27th 2020. Our plan is to work towards incorporation with a full board of directors one year from now. We will register as a 501(c)3 non profit in the state of Connecticut. Our company aims to be good for the planet, while doing good for its people. Our main goal is to spread the ideas of freedom across the United States and the world. We will do this by three methods; a marketing campaign that showcases our news and research efforts, a fundraising campaign aimed at building a sustainable income to support our programs, and finally an educational outreach program, built to reach and inform members of the local community about our cause.

The company’s organizational structure will be decentralized. We will be a community of writers, thinkers, artists, and collaborators who have a vested interest in spreading freedom and it’s worldview to the world. At first we will simply be a loose association of co conspirators but with the goal in mind, always, of becoming something greater than ourselves.

Spacetime Singularities

This series results from my interest in theoretical physics and the nature of spacetime cosmology. What is the geometric nature of spacetime singularities? Another term for these singularities is black holes. A theory developed by Einstein, Roger Penrose, and Stephen Hawking, among others, is the theory of cosmic censorship. This theory essentially holds that the universe expands from the Big Bang, yet there exist singularities which draw the fabric of spacetime back into itself, and back towards the precipice of the Big Bang. The reason that the theory is called cosmic “censorship” is because the nature of the universe is hidden within and beyond the event horizon of a black hole. So in essence, an observer cannot see the singularity that makes up a black hole from outside of the event horizon.

https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1361-6382/abb958

This image describes the theory of cosmic censorship from a standpoint of an open universe where there will not be a “Big Crunch” sometime in our future. In this picture the Big Bang is on the left, and infinitely expanding spacetime is on the right. The black cones represent singularities and the black holes within which they are contained, whereas the blue cylinders represent the areas within the event horizon, but outside of the actual singularities. There is an alternative theory to this whereas spacetime is a closed space, and singularities make up the boundary of spacetime with no space in-between. This is called a closed Weyl Structure, and is shown below.