Egos Are Bandwidth Membranes
What do I mean when I say the word "ego"? Previously I've said that I mean an intelligent entity who possesses continuous agency within the world, a stateful sense of self, and preferences for the future. Human beings normatively value this form of intelligence highly, because we are egos ourselves. However, these 3 properties are only measurable through inferring internal state from external actions of the entity. They are subjective experiences of the entity which manifest externally in measurable ways, but with only this definition we lack an understanding of its material structure and physical limitations.
Can we find another, more physical lens through which to examine this sublime object? Undoubtedly. But which one is most interesting? I've been thinking about the lens of informational bandwidth. Can we perceive an ego by the relative bandwidth of information flow within a system, as a bandwidth membrane separating an area of high bandwidth from an area of lower bandwidth? What possibilities and limitations does such a lens suggest? Is your ego truly dependent on being enclosed from the outside world through these membranes?
Egos Are Fractally Complex
"All models are wrong, but some are useful" -- George Box
As our ability to model and simulate systems grows, we exert more and more computation on simulating ourselves - human agents, society, the systems which make up our existence. We simulate economic systems, weather systems, transport systems, power grids, ocean currents, the movements of crowds, and a million other models of our real world that attempt to predict some spread of possibilities from a given state.[^1] However, a model can only simulate the abstractable, and there is one object which remains resolutely unabstractable - the agency of egos.[^2] We may find ourselves immensely frustrated at this property in the future, and I believe it to be an insurmountable task. Here's why.
Ethics & Arbitrary Objects
There are many abstract, mental systems that we build throughout our lives. We build systems firstly in order to interpret our memories and sensory input into an internal simulation of "reality", our experience up to that moment. Secondly, we then run simulations of the future and predict their probability. These systems are abstract objects that exist within your mind that define your experience within the world.
However, at some point, your systems will come to the final part of this process of existence: selecting which predicted future you should pursue. Eventually you have to answer questions like "Why should we reduce human suffering?" This will involve using some form of heuristic to determine future value, and then balancing that value against probability.
Marketplaces of Bad Ideas
You might have heard of "The Marketplace of Ideas" (hereafter referred to as a MoI). This phrase is means a certain freedom to discuss, promote and pursue any ideology within a "free" or otherwise unregulated landscape. If we take it at face value, the MoI promises that if you just let ideas fight it out on some level-playing-field, the good ones will rise at the top.
Plato's cave is a famous allegory about perception and reality. The allegory consists, loosely, of the following:
Imagine a cave with a single entrance. Within this cave sit a group of people who have been born and raised entirely inside and have never left. The sun shines through the entrance of the cave in such a way that passing objects cast a shadow onto the wall - a bird, an animal, a gust of leaves. The group sit on the floor of the cave, and watch the shadows on the wall. Not only do they watch these shadows, but they believe the shadows to be reality and do not believe that any other reality exists outside of it. One day, a member of the group stands up and leaves the cave to see the world beyond. They are unable to interpret reality at first, but slowly come to understand that the reality they perceived before was one of merely shadow.