Nov 29, 2022·edited Nov 29, 2022Liked by Bobby Azarian

Loved this article and your Road to Omega effort. I have myself toyed with many of these ideas, and am on board with most of them. Do you have an online community that I can join to see what activities are currently under way?

I have a small nit with the word "game". As you mention, what we are talking here really are "infinite games", not finite ones that everyone is familiar with and may have a negative connotation for some. When someone says "turn your life into a game", it may turn some people off because the general feeling is "life is not a game".

I personally prefer the term "story". It tells you that there is no such thing as "winning" it, it may or may not end i.e. be infinite, it may or may not involve competition, and it may be embedded in higher level epics etc. That creates a much better picture in my mind. Even just saying "life is a story" makes me feel a lot better than saying "life is a game". What you want at the end of your life is a great story to tell.

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Really insightful feedback, so thank you so much Vin. You bring up two points that the neuromantics have been discussing. There are many times when life shouldn't be gamified. War is real, and it's scary when world leaders play it like a game when real lives are at stake. However, I still believe there is value in taking the game stance *when appropriate*. It has been helpful for me personally because it makes me eager to take on challenges that I might have otherwise seen as obstacles.

But it is just as valuable I think to frame life as a story, as you suggest. In the post I mention the mythology aspect, and am trying to develop that out more as well. The story of life vs disorder is easy enough to teach to middle school students, and it touches on all the sciences. Might be the best way to teach science in general.

I suppose which framing to choose will depend on the particular situation. I like to think that the game is also a story, one of loops and levels that will be explained in a future article (that's where poetic meta-naturalism comes in). Would love to hear any further ideas you have about how to tell the story. The feedback you've already given will help shape the next article, so for that I thank you.And yes, a future post will explain the distinction between finite and infinite games, and will explain why life is the latter. It is a game that you play not to win, but to continue play, and it is a non-zero sum game that involves cooperation instead of (or in addition to) competition.

"What you want at the end of your life is a great story to tell." I love this. Great food for thought.

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Thanks. Let me try and think out loud for the question you asked:

We typically use the word game to mean 2 things:

1. A game framework: A made-up universe with made-up rules where players try to reach made-up goals. (As in "the game of basketball".)

2. An instance of the above. (As in, "that was a great game!")

I suppose what you are referring to is the infinite version of 1, except it is not made up!

A story would be an account of a path taken by a player (or players) through a type 2 game. (Possibly from multiple perspectives, including non-players.)

An architect would focus on the entire type 1 game, whereas an individual would focus on just their type 2 game.

An individual's goal in life would be to tell a great story when their (type 2) game ends. An architect's goal would be that the (type 1) game never ends and all players at all times tell great stories.

So I suppose both ideas, game and story, could be invoked to explain the main idea with all this context.

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Can you explain the difference between the two types you are highlighting a little more? Part of my explanation pulls from the book Finite and Infinite Games, though it is definitely a very abstract and often esoteric work (though very popular with people in the tech and systems thinking world). I've also been hired by an organization called the Ludo Society (Ludo is Latin for "play") and have been developing these ideas with them. They really stress the idea of non-zero sum games, as explained by Robert Wright in his book Nonzero.

This idea you mention is new though, that the goal would be to tell a great story when their game ends. The architect's goal is an interesting one, and I'd say it lines up with mine. The idea is that life is an infinite game that literally does not end, but success isn't guaranteed for any particular civilization or player. We can all fail, but we don't have to. So yes, the goal is to get society to realize that we are playing an infinite game and that staying in the game requires that we work together, synergistically. Infinite games are not played to be won, but played for the sake of play and enjoyment. Non-zero sum games are games that don't involve a winner and a loser, because they are cooperative. If everyone cooperates then all players can "win" at the same time. Players reach a new "level" in the game of life when they bring about a metasystem transition, which is when the agents come together and form a higher level adaptive system or mind. This would be an Omega Point that is attainable. If we organize ourselves in a way that duplicates the dynamics of conscious brain states, "the gospel of multiple realizability" says that we should get a conscious mind at a higher level of organization. Multiple realizability says that the same kind of informational state can be realized at different scales.

I will bring this idea about the goal of life being to tell a great story up to the Square Circle, the neuromantics who are my advisors that kind of play the role of natural selection in determining what ideas seem worth adopting (the names of these groups are intended to make everything more fun and interesting, though they are intended to be somewhat ironic). Thank you again for this input; if I write about the idea I will find some way to credit you. Do you have a blog or anything?

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What I am talking about are the two ways we use the word "game".

1. Game as in the framework that consists of defining the game universe, the rules, the goals etc. For basketball, it would be the dimensions of the court, the placement of baskets, the number of players, the rules of game play and scoring and so on. This is the aspect that the architect needs to focus on.

2. Game as in a particular game of basketball. Here we have specific players playing the game under the given framework and the end result is a score and a winner.

I believe that most people aren't going to be interested in being the architect or even trying to understand what the architect does. They just want to play i.e. the second meaning of the word. They simply want to know what the framework and rules are, what their incentives are etc. Then they just want to play and achieve the goals that the framework is asking them to achieve.

It is the architect's role to define the framework in such a way that, at the end of every game, the players and spectators say "wow, that was a great game!" i.e. the story they can tell about the game is great.

We can think of a religion as such a framework meant for real life, defined by an "architect" or the founder of the religion. They set the rules / commandments and the incentives / punishments etc. The hope is that they have set them in such a way that followers of the religion end up having great lives. Most of them don't need to or even want to know how the architect came up with the framework or why it is the way it is. They just want to have a great story to tell at the end.

The finite / infinite game dimension is orthogonal to this and I don't have anything more to add there.

Hope that helps.

As for crediting me, I write on Medium at https://medium.com/@vinbhalerao. I write about science / tech / philosophy. Most of my writing is focused on taking complex concepts in the above areas and providing simplified explanations for them. Thanks.

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I love the Sagan quotes and the term "neuromantics." With your permission, I'll call myself a neuromantic. Is there a reference to William Gibson's masterwork? If so, I'm missing it, please explain.

Re "save the world... with science, epistemology, and blockchain technology."

I would recommend that you keep things at the appropriate level of detail, and don't mention low level tools like blockchain technology at this high level conceptual stage. You can always introduce this and other technical tool later when you zoom in the picture.

Not that I don't like blockchain technology. I love it and I was a very early adopter. I started experimenting with Bitcoin days after the publication of Satoshi's paper, and I have made a living for years as a freelance writer in the crypto trade press. But I stopped writing about crypto/blockchain when I realized that many enthusiasts were treating it as a "religion" and a magic bullet for all that is wrong in the world.

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Giulio, you are certainly a neuromantic in my book! Yes, it's a reference to Neuromancer, but also a somewhat obscure 1979 album by Yukihiro Takahashi (a member of the Japanese psychedelic band Yellow Magic Orchestra) named Neuromantic, which apparently is where Gibson got the inspiration.

I appreciate the advice about not mentioning blockchain tech at this point. You may be right, but blockchain will be a big part of this effort, and the tag line rhymes, so I am hesitant to take it out right now (although that may change). Perhaps I should make a post about blockchain as a tool for self-organization soon to solve the problem. I do recognize that with the FTX story a lot of people of more skeptical of crypto than ever, but I'm confident that new applications of the tech will soon lead to a resurgence of excitement in the space.

Thank you for your feedback, and I look forward to our discussion for The Turing Church channel!

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You say it: a TOOL for self-organization. Blockchain technology is a great tool for self-organization. BitTorrent technology is another, and a decentralized web that works like BitTorrent, perhaps enhanced by a built-in cryptomoney blockchain for P2P payments, would be a really great tool.

But I think we should separate goals and tools, and using a tool can't be considered a goal. Decentralization of power is a goal, and cryptomoney (as well as unrelated BitTorrent tech) can help

FTX: these things will continue to happen as long as crypto is seen as a speculation. But crypto is meant to be USED as a parallel internet money system.

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Dec 3, 2022Liked by Bobby Azarian

Thanks for this, Bobby. I'm invested in the ideas you're describing here, and I share the worldview you outline.

I'd like see you further unpack how all of this could be considered a religion, as religions are more than a worldview.

I'm thinking of my own heritage, for instance, which (for good and bad) happens to be Mormonism. Joseph Smith gave people a worldview that the purpose of life was to come to Earth from a premortal realm, experience the trials and insights of living in a physical body, and collectively progress toward godhood the same way God had (not so different from the concept of loops and levels). This vision — coupled with Smith's mix of confidence, charisma, and con-artistry— compelled people to uproot their lives, gather in a community, and follow him. In many cases, they made Mormonism their primary identity, giving ten percent of their income and dozens of hours a week to their church. Millions of members still do.

None of this was without downsides, some of which were (and continue to be) quite severe. But it *did* give people community and purpose in their daily lived experience. Again, it wasn't just a worldview. It was an identity and a collective lifestyle.

I'm hopeful that a healthier version of religion will emerge in the 21st century — a religion that integrates rigorous science. It is worth noting, however, that attempts to do this have so far largely failed. As I've written elsewhere, more than 170 years ago, the French philosopher Auguste Comte started the Religion of Humanity, a secular community that replaced revelation and faith with science and reason. He celebrated love, order, and human progress, adopting the slogan “love as principle, order as basis, progress as end.”

The Religion of Humanity built chapels and employed a trained clergy, but the project struggled to take off. Growth stagnated. Today there are no chapters of the Religion of Humanity in the United States and very few in other places. Even in France, it’s little more than an interesting historical artifact.

I still have hope for the vision of religion that Sagan articulates in your piece. In fact, speaking of finding a life's purpose, I want to play a role in giving it form. I just don't yet see how to get there.

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Nov 29, 2022Liked by Bobby Azarian

Like many, if not most, I have been on a quest through my life to make sense of the world and find purpose. I explored numerous religions to various degrees and finally found a comfortable place with Unitarian Universalism which had no rigid doctrine or creed. As I made my career in science, I find wonder and awe in the discoveries and practicality that have resulted. Science became an integral means by which I made personal discovery. It has taken on aspects of the Cosmic Religion that you mention. It promises to be a framework that could actually work for the benefit of homo sapiens, Gaia and the universe at large. But the challenge is getting more on board in line with this game of life analogy. Traditionally it has been done via organized religions and embodied in church gatherings. But almost without exception, this has only come about through the eloquent preachings of a charismatic leader. It seems we humans are in a transition period in our society and showing a bit of chaos. One has to wonder if we can self-organize and emerge with a majority taking up this cosmic religion. It is entirely likely the world is going to need a catalyst or some strange attractor in order to do so. This could mirror history with the rise of a world leader. But more likely it will be driven by one of the four cataclysmic drivers. Among the wide variety of catastrophes that level societies, Walter Scheidel of Stanford University identifies what he calls “four horsemen”: mass mobilization or state warfare, transformative revolution, state collapse and plague. I hope I am wrong and we can come to our senses without such a violent transition.

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I think you are right on the money. Societies are non-equilibrium systems, and as Prigogine described, they reach "bifurcation points" and will undergo a phase transition, either collapsing and self-organizing again or transition to a higher state of order and stability. Also, the phase transition entails a chaotic period because a rigid system cannot evolve; an injection of chaos or noise is required to allow for that change in organization. Usually something like a war occurs, but I think we are reaching a unique time in history where suddenly we are able to become aware of this transition process (or meta-aware) and we can actually steer the system away from the violent transition path and toward one of collective coordination. That's kind of the whole mission to Road to Omega. And the neuromantics have some very charismatic voices, Brendan Graham Dempsey and Adam Safron are a couple who come to mind who I will be interviewing soon for the Road to Omega YouTube channel (youtube.com/roadtoomega). These are really great points so thank you for sharing Dean. I will look into Scheidel's work you mentioned.

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Nov 29, 2022Liked by Bobby Azarian

Good job, we can see that you have experience writing up articles!

Very interested on how you will link meta-awareness and complexity in the upcoming articles...

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It's a big part of the story for sure. Looking forward to working with you and the Ludo Society on developing the concept beyond what the academic literature has done.

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I love the game analogy. Makes it much easier to understand life like that. So many people grow up playing games but never realize the correlation. Also, really looking forward to the Bayesian reasoning posts. After college I would have thought of myself as a "frequentist", but over the years, the Bayesian approach makes much more sense in reality.

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Really glad to hear that the game analogy resonates with you. I am currently working on turning the concept of life as a game into an actual game (an educational one that is hopefully also a lot of fun) with the blockchain-AI company Thought AI. There are things about the frequentist approach that I think are correct, but the Bayesian approach seems to have a lot of utility. Thanks for the feedback Chris!

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Dear Mr. Azarian,

I love your writing and I followed the work of at least some of sources. I nod my head in complete resonance with almost everything you write here but I cannot and do not draw the same conclusion. I don't know that some of those who you cite, like Dennett or Prigoine would either.

There is no purpose - no necessary teleological hierarchy that yields greater adaptiveness. The only thing that humans sit on top of on Spaceship Earth is the food chain - a precarious place from the perspective of natural selection. The only reason that we are even free to think so much of ourselves - that we as a species have some cosmic significance or manifest destiny - is the unrepeatable "free" energy subsidy made available to only a few generations of a single species to the detriment and at the expense of others. Like any bacterial colony, we a most likely continue on the path we are on - which is to exploit available resources to grow population and then die in our own waste.

I want to read more of your work. Other than the conclusion drawn I thoroughly enjoy and agree with what you write. Thank you.

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Hi Dale, this paper of Dennett's will be of interest to you, called "Evolution, Teleology, and Intentionality." I actually got the idea from the teleological stance as a self-help system from Dennett, who developed the "intentional stance" which he has sometimes called the teleological stance. Dennett acknowledges teleology and clearly says that it is not an illusion, but tries to take a moderate position that is somewhere in between no teleology and full-blown cosmic teleology (the latter which I support). For example, in this article he says: "teleology is neither as illusory as his neo-Darwinians claim, nor as real and irreducible as his Aristotelian Bennett claims." So I do believe that Dennett could be convinced of a natural cosmic teleology if the paradigm was presented in Darwinian terms. I think he'd also be interested in these Darwinian mechanisms in Bayesian inference terms. He is friends with Karl Friston, and Friston was supportive of the paradigm presented in the book. I will also be interviewing Friston for the channel this year.

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Jan 2, 2023Liked by Bobby Azarian

Hello Bobby,

I'm so flattered that you commented on my comment! Thanks so much. I guess I must have touched a nerve. I sincerely love you writing and I've followed similar trains of thought and followed some of the sources you cite as a result on my interest philosophy, biology and life origins. I will look for the Dennett source you cite. I have a BS in cell biology and botany but by trade I've been a heating engineer for ~40 years now. I experimented with psychedelics - the psilocybe cubensis that I grew. I had a microscope as a child and in college and loved to watch protozoans feed and engage with each other. I always thought of Euglena as model organism....if evolution were progressive we would all be green! We could move from the top of the food chain to a more sustainable place. As an avid cyclist I note that evolution never discovered the wheel - but I wondered about an organism that might employ them.


Like many I developed an interest in consciousness studies.....which ultimately led me to Dennett as well as characters like David Chalmers, who I think is strongly deluded. I also think that Chistof Koch has lost his way.

I think that the "hard problem" and "integration information theory" are of the same ilk the sense that I don't recognize them as theories at all - instead just more of a one size fits all non statements that explain nothing and lead to a dead ends.... i.e. and then what? I think that Dennett holds this view as well. I'm more inclined to "believe" in "pan-niftyism". As Dennett would say, there is as much meaning there.

I suppose that it must be true that my education in eco systems biology and exposure to Stephen Jay Gould has strongly colored my thoughts regarding hierarchical biology or evolution. Goulds book, "The Mis- Measure of Man" has also lent perspective to my thinking. I don't see a place for ranking in biology or society.

That humans represent some pinnacle of evolution and have some cosmic manifest destiny strikes me as unbelievably wrong. If "Humans collectively form the nervous system of the biosphere", as you say below, then I think we are all in heap of trouble! ;-) Fortunately it's not true. The ecosystem, as you describe elsewhere otherwise, is a self organized autonomous on going event ultimately powered by sunshine.

(You might read, "The Book of Merlin", a tongue in cheek unpublished last chapter of TH White's "The Once and Future King".)

With respect to teleology, I just don't find any evidence of top down design in the world, including and maybe especially in designs created by humans. Dennett has referred to humans as the first intelligent designers but I have to disagree with him here. As a designer myself, I can see how human design is such a strong function of mindless evolutionary natural selection processes. I can almost feel this happen in my own brain as struggle with some design issue. Complex things are functional aggregates of simpler things, each of which are hewed over time from the empirical world....not the world of imagination.

Another favorite book of mine is "To Engineer is Human - The Role of Failure in Design" by Henry Petrosky who also wrote "The Evolution of Useful Things". No individual human ever designed anything. The current generation of designers just like to take credit! ;-)

So again, thanks so much for reading my somewhat uninformed thoughts. Again, I'm with you entirely right up to a point, but I can't find purpose in nature. Perhaps it's my own recalcitrance but I think that way lies madness.

Thanks again! I promise to read more you stuff - maybe you'll convince me.

BTW, I think we all agree the Elon Musk should go to Mars....as soon as possible. However, no further! We cannot afford to contaminate Galaxy with humans let alone Musk. :-)


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Hi Dale, thanks for the comment and for following my work. I certainly think Prigogine would agree with what I've said, and I can provide quotes to show that in the future. I also think Dennett would agree if he read my book. Have you read it, specifically part II? Everything you are asking about is addressed there.

David Deutsch has a Ted Talk called "After Years of Monotony, the Universe is Waking Up." In it, he argues that life does have cosmic significance, and that if we apply our knowledge in the right way, "we could win". Dennett shared this talk on twitter and said he agreed with everything he said in it. So I think that you'd be surprised about what both Dennett and Richard Dawkins would think about this narrative, now that it has been naturalized. I suggest John Campbell for a version of universal Darwinism that is consistent with the view I'm proposing.

This idea that there is no hierarchy that leads to greater adaptiveness was mostly the doing of Stephen Jay Gould and it is a goal of mine to dispel this myth. In chapter 8 of TROR I explain why evolution gives rises to increasingly complex niches and increasingly complex species (in terms of the number of states in the organism's behavioral and mental repertoire). This increase in complexity over evolutionary time can be measured with IIT's phi, in theory. There are also inevitable evolutionary/metasystem transitions, which lead to greater complexity over time as well, a type of complexity (hierarchical) that was almost completely ignored by evolutionary biology until the complexity science revolution we are seeing. Humans collectively form the nervous system of the biosphere, an idea known as "the global brain."

I will try to get Dennett to come on the Road to Omega youtube channel to discuss this this year.

I should add that Dennett and others would readily accept a teleological cosmic picture if the teleological aspect was all Darwinian and mechanistic, and also if you could explain why the universe is that way, which you can do with cosmological natural selection (CNS). This is the argument the book Biocosm made. I suggest you read that book by James Gardner and Part II of my book, because they show that this story of purpose and progress is fully consistent with a naturalistic view. Happy to explain more but it is a bit too complicated to explain in one comment. If you have any more questions I'd be happy to answer them here.

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To push these ideas forward you need to focus on making them more accessible by simplifying the message form. Your subscription service can only fail in this context. Team up with comic book author like example @ScottAdams of Dilbert fame: simplify the message.

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You must have faith, Ultimate Law! I'm open to collaborations, certainly that one, so feel free to make that happen :)

Some people here crave detail, so it's going to be a constant balancing act, and there will need to be simplification without losing detail and while still introducing new terms.

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This article conforms wonderfully with the biological imperative discussed by Bruce Lipton in "Spontaneous Evolution" as well as confirming De Chardin's Omega Point to evolution.

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