name: mako yass pronunciation: [makoʊ jæsː] or [meɪkoʊ jæsː]

specialization: Develops humane systems

current location: Auckland, Aotearoa, The long bright world

current projects

tasteweb (working title)

A civically robust information-sharing and discussion system.

The use of overlapping Webs of Trust with well defined meanings to appoint the curators of content tags in a way that is easy to grow, easy to collectively moderate, and when it needs to be, subjective. As far as I can tell, this will make content tags much more practical than they previously have been, and it'll enable a whole lot of really important conversations and community processes that weren't possible before.

cohabitive games

A cohabitive game is a multiplayer game that's not purely competitive, nor purely cooperative. A little anarchic dojo where players can develop the art, craft and social rhythms of thriving in pluralistic conditions. I hope that cohabitive games can help laypeople and theorists both to develop their intuitions for cooperative bargaining, because today these senses are gravely underdeveloped.

I think cohabitive games are likely to end up being better games in general. There are principled reasons to expect cohabitive games to support livelier table dialog and richer strategic relationships than ordinary purely competitive or cooperative games can, once we've acclimated to them.

reconciling craft

A podcast associated with dream shrine, where we chat about our craft, figure things out, exhibit collaborative dialog. (Nothing has released yet, but you can subscribe to it to be notified when things start coming together.)

some past releases

To Light

A vivid, detailed, plausible rendition of a future-history in which our world meets with the worst contingencies in the development of AI, and survives. The first-winning entry in the Future of Life Institute's 2022 positive worldbuilding contest.

Told through short stories, a timeline of events, and a Q&A.

It discusses the scenario where capabilities arrive abruptly but alignment is hard, in which the world needs to manage unprecedented levels of global coordination. I propose that humanity will not survive this outcome unless it's prepared to produce very clear demonstrations of the presence of danger immediately after it manifests.

So I outline a technical programme for relatively safely demonstrating the presence of danger without unleashing it, and an international response that follows it. I have doubts about these solutions, there are always doubts, we'll just have to sit down and do the work if we want to see whether they're resolvable.

There's are also some depictions of success at the end.

For non-fictional (... is a prophesy fictional?) discussion of this area, I wrote this little page to explain why some of us must prepare for super-human AI before it arrives.

You may also want to read the appendix, a non-fictional exploration of some of the core ideas from the worldbuild, with much more thorough discussion of the technical program.

In the years since, third party auditing protocols have been implemented in the real world, and a burgeoning sane international collaboration to escape the new arms race has already started to rally, and things are looking hopeful. So my recommendation to all people is to live to see the future. It's probably going to be pretty good.

Mirror Chamber

A short story/thought experiment/speculative scifi about why we need a concept of anthropic measure that's related to but conceptually distinct from the agency behaviors of consciousness. It wasn't totally clear to me that there existed a hard problem of consciousness until I found this thing. I think it clarifies a lot.

Being Patient with a Challenging Reading

A short story set in an era of long reflection, where things have mostly turned out alright. Written as a part of Issue 1 of the sleep-advocacy project; Zs (it got in Zs because it depicts a time and place where it's very much alright to relax, extols the virtues of napping)

Mutation and Agency

A vaguely interactive abstract frustration about memetic evolution and agency. (android app)


A Glance Font. A font reduced to the simplest and most pronounced shapes. I made bokik to test the hypothesis that a fluent reader of a glance font would be able to read faster or with fewer errors (or assumptions) than can be had with traditional typefaces. As far as I'm aware, no one has ever become a fluent reader. Please tell me if this changes.

It looks like this. I expect that becoming fluent in bokik wont be easy, people don't read letter by letter, they read word by word, so it doesn't just require you to learn 26 things, it may end up requiring you to learn around 50,000.

I've made a trainer program for learning to read bokik, but I haven't given it a serious attempt, myself. While making it, it occurred to me that there are a few changes I'd like to make to bokik, before I learn it. Next time I stumble across a decent font editor. Until then, I recommend the trainer program only to the adventurous.

The trainer program itself tests another hypothesis: Do humans learn efficiently as a result of seeing inputs, attempting a prediction, then being shown the output? This is how artificial neural networks learn, and reading bokik is the kind of simple sensory processing task that ANNs do, so I'd expect this to work for humans too? I'm excited to find out.

"Propinquity Cities"

Utilitarian laws for a fluid type of city where land is allocated in whatever suggested arrangement minimizes unnecessary moves while maximizing propinquity (good adjacency) according ticketholders' (residents) desire expressions and the city's aggregation law, obviating rent, restructuring the city to optimize the needs of its communities (occasionally forming new communities), enabling much better standards of living.

Anyone with insight into numerical modeling, voting theory, policy communication, construction or urban economics please get in touch and help me to either refute or implement it.

It's difficult to build a great city when it is primarily owned by uncoordinated, unaccountable individuals with relatively little interest in the health of the whole. Proq offers an alternative.

As of 2024, I think most of the economic problems this addresses would be more efficiently addressed by high land value taxes and localized participatory funding of public services. I still think some collective housing situations might want to use the propinquity allocator as a kind of matchmaker though, it's a very similar problem to group matchmaking, which is important for a lot of stuff.

The Praises of Nayru: Link's Awakening

It's canon that Link met the goddess of wisdom, prior to Link's Awakening. What might have happened if he had lingered longer in her company and become an unbearable consequentialist goth with strong feelings about simulation ethics, before arriving at grim Koholint? Do not read this, it's awful. There is very little design in it. Some people seem to enjoy it. Epub version

dormant projects (please help)

Crycog (working title)

A puzzle game about drawing glyphs and developing correct theories through experimentation. A story about two futures.

dream shrine media

A media scene.

technical output

termpose: A pretty format for expressing tree-shaped information (this page generates from a piece of termpose, btw c:)

jostletree: A data structure for modeling tightly packed objects in a long line, or, for weighted sampling without replacement.

web of trust cluster approximation: Principles for making large webs of trust more efficient to query.

various accounts

twitter release alt (mostly just posts new releases)

element (element is like discord but open source and federated, and has a big extra feature of sharing channels between different spaces)

manifold (manifold is a site for betting play money on real world events. It's a fun way to find out what people really believe and whether they they have a record of being right about it.)

more pages