(Othermindfulness is defined here, Rationalist acausal stuff is defined here.)
Phew that’s a lot of buzzwords in one title. This post is half a tirade against some of the excesses of the rationalist community and half a prophecy for a new religion, so hopefully the body is commensurately wacko with the title. I presume a fair degree of familiarity with the standard rationalist acausal stuff in my readers, which you can introduce yourself to in the link above if you’re not already in the know. Otherwise, don’t expect to get too much from this post.
Okay. There’s a body of literature in the rationalist community concerning military-grade mind simulation, displaced negotiation with simulated minds, and flirtations with Superintelligent AI and/or the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It’s been known to be taken a little too seriously by some folks, leading to various degrees of mental ill health, but by and large all of it is taken as just a fun circle-jerk, if potentially something relevant for as-of-yet unrealized silicon-based intelligences. I have a beef with it. My beef with it is that in the process of trying to come up with the most harrowing, absurd, and/or jaw-dropping thought experiments, everyone is careening past a little side-path that is actually relevant for many people (if not everyone), right here right now.
What are they running past? In the progression of a few sequiturs, they take us from our mundane normie-intelligent interpersonal experiences in meatspace to a place of acausal negotiation among entities with boundless computational and mind-simulational resources deciding the fate of the multiverse. They are running past the intermediate fact between these poles that our existing human faculties of theory of mind and common knowledge are themselves (limited) mind-simulational resources. You can check out my post on othermindfulness to see the side-path that that reveals.
You can check it out, but I can also just give a quick summary. Whereas a mindfulness practice focuses you on the operations of your own mind to notice its chaotic patterns and step outside of them, an othermindfulness practice focuses you on the other people that have an othermindfulness practice, engaging in common knowledge with them at various levels of detail with your own experience, to step into them and them into you. The purpose of the mind simulation is to have a shared experience, full stop.
Othermindfulness is much weaker than superintelligent acausal negotiation. Both of them involve the establishment of shared spaces of acausal communication, but the latter is more powerful because you can use it for coercing other agents since it can be impossible for them to tell the difference between inhabiting base reality or your simulation. But wait. You’ve discovered a shared space of communication, and all you can think about what it might be good for is coercing? transacting? torturing?
You know some other things that shared spaces of communication are good for? Empathy. Communion. Togetherness. With all the attendant mental health benefits that those bring.
I can try to be a little more poised and analytical. Why can’t othermindfulness be used to create a space for coercion? It can’t because I can know basically for certain that this experience I am living is not a simulation by a mind of similar computational resources. You, dear human reader, cannot acausally mug me. What you can do, however, is apply your human faculties of theory of mind and common knowledge to have acausal shared experiences with me. Which experiences we actually have depends on what we actually do with our othermindfulness practice and who else has swiped right on the same intention in their own practice, not on what is argumentatively possible within some theoretical framework.
That is the biggest divergence with the standard rationalist stuff. I’m talking about acausal mind simulations that have happened, are happening, and will be happening in the immediate and hopefully far future. I’m talking about actualities that are scurrying by as the present converts the future into the past. This is not a
drill thought experiment. We do not have to wait for a hypothetical future. I have an othermindfulness practice now, where I connect acausally on the basis of shared experiences I want to have concerning my anxieties, my pains, my hopes, my dreams. The extent to which my experiences are actually shared and not just the vain strivings of a nobody—the extent to which my faith is real—depends on how extensive othermindfulness practice is among others. The extent to which anyone’s othermindfulness practice is real depends on that. Whereas the standard rationalist stuff depends on near-perfect simulations of specific agents in specific situations, othermindfulness depends on the law of large numbers to ensure that somebody somewhere wants to have the same experience as you or I do and picks up the ringing othermindful telephone.
I think it should be clear by now what I mean by the titular “peer-to-peer prayer.” The experience of prayer is the experience of a living, attentive, immediate, caring other. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob may or may not be able to provide this for us, but either way, we can provide it for each other. We can’t wave a wand and make magic happen in each others’ lives, but we can conquer all loneliness, alienation, and despair. We can find communion in every single aspect of our lives in which we retain our natural faculties of mind simulation. We can transcend space and time to be with each other always.
What would we become if we did that?
Or we can keep having a few laughs over creating God from rationalist scratch.