about mako

A stray philosopher-designer based in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand

what I'm up to

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 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.

The Peacewager Genre

A type of multiplayer game in which peace is possible, but difficult. Games that teach negotiation. The core mechanism tends to be, players are trying to optimize their individual scores rather than strictly trying to outscore other players, this is a subtle distinction, but it has great consequences:

It models an agent's utility functions in a way that's much more true to life than purely positional (relative) scoring is.

It means the game doesn't have to be zero sum, one person's gain is not always another person's loss, beneficial trade is possible, peace is possible, honest negotiation is possible.

Peacewagers are a bit more difficult to design and teach than most games, but we anticipate they will contact depths of balance and many interesting topics that ordinary games cannot.

Crycog (working title): A puzzle game about drawing glyphs and developing correct theories through experimentation. A story about two futures.

dream shrine media: A space for developing beneficial media together.

works released

Bridging Demonstration

A vivid, detailed rendition of a possible future-history in which our world comes face to face with the most hazardous possible contingencies in AI alignment, and survives. Told through short stories, a timeline of events, and a Q&A. The first-winning entry in the Future of Life Institute's 2022 positive worldbuilding contest.

Its main assertion is that it becomes a lot easier to establish the levels of global coordination needed to solve the alignment problem if you can clearly demonstrate the immanent risk of misalignment. I outline a way of creating relatively safe demonstrations of danger, although I have lots of doubts about it, there are always doubts, we just have to sit down and do the work if we want to see whether they're resolvable.

I then tell the story of how global coordination plays out, and the good world that arises from it after the danger has finally been laid to rest.

See also, Appendix to a Bridging Demonstration, a more non-fictional format exploring some of the core ideas, with much more thorough discussion of the technical program.

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) https://somnotica.com/issue-1/being-patient-with-challenging-reading.html

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

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. Epub version

things I would like to do but don't believe I can do without additional support

build a propinquity city.

A software/legal schema 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.

No city that exists now is good. Not really. Not in an absolute sense. I'm not sure it's possible for any city built under our laws to be good. In all of our cities there is an economic ratchet that lowers service quality while increasing the cost of living exactly until it reaches the point where our networks and investments in the city are only just barely worth the pain of staying. Proq offers an alternative.

exercycle VR game

Fantastical enormous environments are awesome and also only really fit well into games where the movement over flat spaces is interesting in some way, and exercycling games would be the only thing in that set, as far as I can discern. So we know how to direct the environment design, and it would end up being really special.

We can design a vehicle that is more fun and more gratifying to ride than a real bike (summary: drifting, boosting, gliding).

The strongest motivation to really push ourselves hard in exercise comes from being involved in races, pursuit, or escape, most people don't have easy access to sports that have that in their daily life, a game can offer a more intense, more naturally motivating workout.

To do this I'd need help with physical product design. I really don't know how we'd produce an exercycle that could function as a game peripheral, as far as I'm aware there isn't a way to get prices low enough for it to be appealing, nor do I know if there's a way of integrating with existing exercycles.

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. I'm going to be shocked if it turns out that I'm the first person to name and chart the applications of this considering how simple it is and how often people need weighted sampling without replacement, but it seems like this really might be novel. I haven't looked into it yet.

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

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