Subject: Re: All instances
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 13:59:52 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Huaiyuan <>
> You see: "figuring out the least resource-intensive way of doing thing"
> can be seen as a (meta) problem that arises from one's attempt to solve
> the original problem.  But solving this meta problem can give rise to
> meta meta problem, and so on (hence the danger of infinite regression).
> So, how much computation resources should you spend in solving the meta
> problem instead of the problem itself, to minimize the overall resources
> spent?

  Now this is a much more intereting meaning to your article that I
  assumed.  Excuse me for being tired of intellectually lazy people, and
  thanks for the intelligent response.

  If I have but one character flaw, it is that I tend to ignore the problem
  and go for the meta-problem.  However, the meta-problem does not become
  the problem for another round of that tendency, but I understand well the
  problem you raise.  In my view, what we do here and now is interesting
  only insofar as it supports what we can do in the future, and what we did
  in the past is interesting mostly in what it allows us to do now and in
  the future.  Since we are individually going to live for much longer than
  any of us can reasonably plan and collectively much longer than any of us
  can reasonably grasp, survival is meaningless without a long-term future
  view with an eye to continuity and planability from the past.  ("Live in
  the moment" is an insult to human intelligence and human survival.")

  With that as background, it should be obvious that I do not consider
  there to be an upper limit on the amount of resources that should be
  consumed on meta-problems as long as day-to-day survival is achieved and
  that is largely an effect of the momentum of past planning and use of
  resources.  The only danger I see, then, is that solving a problem
  necessarily breaks with the continuity of the past in ways that reduce
  our planability in the present and the short-term future.  (Long-term
  planning takes such problem-solving into account.)  I see absolutely no
  other danger in any spending on meta-problems.

  Now, since we have essentially infinite time and infinite resources
  available to the human race (or whatever succeeds us), the problem is not
  whether to solve a problem or meta-problem, but in what order.  This must
  of necessity be a global optimization, not a local one, so the problem is
  how to organize society to that the two coincide and mesh well with the
  requirement for individual and personal fulfillment, risk-taking, and

  In other words, I consider the problem of spending resources on the
  problem at hand or at the meta-problem a question of intelligence and
  wisdom of leadership and resource management, both monetary and human.
  If you do not plan ahead, spent everything on the problem.  If you intend
  to be able to plan ahead after your current plans are toppled by changes
  in your environment, spend all you can spare on the meta-problem.

  My cynical, misanthropic, even pessimistic view of most things "human"
  derive from the sorry fact that those who are most motivated to search
  for positions of leadership are usually so astonishingly unintelligent
  when it comes to serving any other need than their mental illness: the
  hunger for power over people.  Any display of power-hunger should be an
  immediate cause for incarceration and treatment in a truly humane society,
  but this, sadly, does not reflect how the human race reached its current
  position.  Slave labor, brute force, physical threats, etc, were proper
  and necessary in times when society had very little or nothing to offer
  the individual member thereof.  Yet amazingly, some people still live as
  if society were a negative force in their lives, as if the infrastructure
  and general agreement on a number of massively important aspects of human
  life were good for nothing, such as the morons in Gothenburg recently,
  who flew there on jets, drove in safe cars on good roads, crossed borders
  and jurisdictions peacefully and reaped the benefits of global economies
  only to destroy a few million dollars' worth of somebody else's property
  in order to protest against their future ability to similarly travel and
  express their views in the global media.  Clearly, these are people who
  have zero understanding of the _effects_ of organizing societies well, and
  thus have no possible constructivity to their activity at all, other than
  accidentally increasing the gross national product.

> (And how much time should you spend to consider the above question? :)

  Infinite, as metareasoning is a process, not a problem with a solution.

> (See, e.g.,

  Thanks for the pointer.

  Travel is a meat thing.