The Indefinite Life Handbook aims to provide an understanding for:
The goal in writing this book is to aid humanity in our collective efforts in becoming more fit for survival in this universe. The main topics of this book aim to establish a framework and roadmap for achieving mind uploading and pursuing indefinite life. The Indefinite Life Handbook aims to be as comprehensive as possible so as to provide a solid starting point for learning about these domains to help encourage more people to start thinking about these challenges.
The Indefinite Life Handbook is still in development, but you can download it in its current state or check it out on this page and as a PDF. The minimum price for the PDF is $0.00. If you wish to support Lifetimes Infinity, click on the 'Buy Now' button to pick your own price.
The Indefinite Life Handbook
Immortality, mind uploading,
and the pursuit of meaning
For individuals and populations
In association with Lifetimes Infinity
November 15, 2017
This book can be found for free on the website http://www.lifetimesinfinity.com
If you paid for this ebook elsewhere, you should request a refund. This ebook will remain free
indefinitely. If you wish to support Lifetimes Infinity, consider the option to pay your own price when
downloading the book from the Lifetimes Infinity website.
I will do my best to update this book as knowledge is shared with me and as I learn on my own. If
you are kind enough, send me your criticisms and ideas so that I can continue to improve this book.
2013-2017 Lifetimes Infinity
I would like to give a special thanks to James Browning and Saeyoung Macx Kim for providing feedback
and small contributions throughout the creation of this book. I would also like to thank the community
members from over the years who have engaged in discussions and provided ideas.
The goal of this introductory volume is to help the reader better navigate and understand The
Indefinite Life Handbook by outlining the content, structure, and purpose of the book. This volume
is broken up into two chapters:
Chapter 1: Introduction to the Series — This chapter outlines the structuring of the book
and covers the background on the writing of this book.
Chapter 2: Terminology — This chapter is a compilation of the domain-specific terminology
used throughout the book.
While the focus of this book is on mind uploading, the book also covers a wide range of topics in
limited depth. If at any point you come across a topic you wish to delve deeper into, Lifetimes Infinity
has compiled a list of readings that will hopefully get you a few steps further into any of these domains
(including mind uploading).
You can find more information and an updated list of recommended readings on the Lifetimes
Infinity website: http://www.lifetimesinfinity.com
Introduction to the Book
The overall goals of this book are to:
1. Provide a starting point for learning and thinking about indefinite life.
2. Lay down a framework for pursuing indefinite life to aid in life’s collective efforts to become more
fit for survival in this universe (and beyond).
3. Encourage more people to start thinking about the challenges we face as individuals and popu-
lations and to encourage people to start thinking about them from the perspective of survival.
The Indefinite Life Handbook explores many of the topics that surround living indefinitely (one
of the major focus points being mind uploading). In exploring relatively undefined domains (such as
indefinite life), it is important to provide a complete introduction without presupposing any domain
specific knowledge or general assumptions the reader might have. Considering this, The Indefinite Life
Handbook aims to be as comprehensive, coherent, and easy to follow as possible. I hope to achieve
this by fully explaining every step in reasoning for all of the conclusions made throughout this book.
I am writing this book as a member of the organization Lifetimes Infinity. I am attempting to
represent Lifetimes Infinity to the best of my ability in the views presented in this book.
Development on this book officially began in 2015. However, this book is the culmination of all my
work for Lifetimes Infinity from 2013 to 2015. In 2013, I started the organization that would eventually
become Lifetimes Infinity. It has taken many years to piece together the information that has been
condensed into these pages.
Given the topics discussed, I expected that aspects of this book will be contested. However, it’s
my view that any plan is better than no plan. I feel I have already spent too long as an armchair
philosopher instead of taking action to develop solutions to the challenges we face. There are many
things we don’t know as individuals and as a collective, but we have to start somewhere. If we pick
somewhere to start, then at the least we can start trying things out and nudging ourselves toward a
better position. As we assimilate new knowledge, we can construct better models of reality and plot
better courses of action. This book, like all things in life, is a work in progress.
CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK
One of the goals of this book is is to create a modular and adaptable roadmap for pursuing mind
uploading. The scope for creating a roadmap for pursuing all aspects of indefinite life is too large
for one person to document at this point, so that’s why I’m starting with mind uploading (a massive
undertaking as it is).
The roadmap is build by reasoning from first principles, adding on layers based on the conclusions
drawn in previous layers until we reach the end goal (mind uploading). In this way, we can be sure
that all of our conclusions are not only built on a solid foundation, but that all of the sub-goals are
in line with the end goal. By creating a roadmap that is built out of independent pieces, it is easy to
adapt to new knowledge that comes along in order to improve the roadmap.
I believe that in any endeavor it is important to lay down a good foundation to work within to
make things easier on ourselves as we chase our curiosities deeper and deeper.
This book aims to be as rational and objective as possible in determining Lifetimes Infinity’s goals
and how to pursue them. The structuring of this book facilitates this. Each volume starts by presenting
a challenge, then it discusses the possible solutions, and at the end it draws a conclusion which further
outlines the best solution. Each volume either stands by itself (drawing conclusions based on postulates
presented in the volume), or it builds off the conclusions of other volumes. Together, the volumes form
a roadmap that can be used on all scales (large and small, near and distant, short and long) for
pursuing indefinite life.
The postulates presented in this book are not meant to be absolute, but I hope that they are at
least aimed in the right direction and built on a solid foundation. In turn, I hope the ideas presented
create a solid framework that allows us to begin developing solutions.
All of the conclusions and goals follow exclusively from the definitions, postulates, and other con-
clusions drawn in this book. Even if you may not necessarily agree with all of the postulates, I hope
that you can follow the logic in reaching the conclusions. Many of the ideas presented in this book
are speculative, but I attempt to base them in the best version of reality we know. Considering this
speculative nature, all definitions, postulates, and conclusions are clearly labeled to make the logical
steps as clear as possible. Since the whole book is built in this additive fashion, if a section becomes
obsolete or a better model is found, I can simply switch out that section and keep the other logical
steps in tact.
In this book, I attempt to outline what a rational actor would do in its pursuit of indefinite life,
given the knowledge and resource we currently have as individuals and as a collective. That said, I,
like all entities, only have limited knowledge to work with. Even though our knowledge and resources
will always be limited, we can still meaningfully pursue any and all topics. Don’t let anybody tell you
In my own attempt at being as logical and rational as possible, I was led to the conclusion that I
should pursue indefinite life and mind uploading. That’s what got me into all of this in the first place.
In a sense, as you read this book, you are reading the progression of my own thoughts as I reached the
conclusions that sparked my deepest passion in life.
Through this book, you will be shown reality through the perspective of survival. This is how I
see reality, and is one of the philosophies I hope to instill in Lifetimes Infinity. Hopefully this book
can inspire you to experience this perspective firsthand. That said, this book isn’t meant to be a
comprehensive documentation of the survival philosophy; there isn’t enough space here to detail out
the entirety of reality as seen through that perspective. My main hope with this books is more simply
to inspire people like you to join in on the quest for indefinite life.
This book is divided into many volumes that each seek to answer a specific question. Listed below
are the volumes of this book along with the challenge and solution presented in each volume. While
most of the volumes do well to stand on their own, I suggest reading them in order.
It should be noted that not all of the volumes are completed at this point in time, and the volumes
that are currently included are subject to change in terms of content, titles, and order.
1 — The Tools of Rationality
What are the best tools we can use to most accurately emulate a rational actor in finding
the best solutions for any given challenge (and specifically in the pursuit of indefinite life)?
To achieve the most optimal solution to a given challenge, it is best to take on the per-
spective of a rational actor who reasons by first principles and has assimilated sufficient
knowledge to meaningfully answer the question within a given margin for error.
To achieve the fastest answer that falls within a given margin for error in meaningfully
answering a question, it is best to take on the perspective of a rational actor who reasons
by analogy, using knowledge that is readily available.
Where the line is drawn for sufficient knowledge and meaningful construction is up to indi-
viduals and populations.
2 — The Meaning of Existence
What is the meaning of life? What is the meaning of existence?
The meaning of existence (of all things living and nonliving) is survival.
CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK
3 — States of Existence
What is the best state of existence for pursuing survival?
Indefinite life is the best state of existence for humanity to pursue (now and in the near
future) on the quest for maximizing survival as individuals, populations, as a collective, in terms
of all life, and even in terms of all existence.
4 — Indefinite Life Strategies
What is the best option for pursuing indefinite life right now?
The best method for pursuing indefinite life at this point is through indefinite lifespans.
5 — Indefinite Lifespan Methods
What is the best option for pursuing indefinite lifespans right now?
The best method for humans pursuing indefinite lifespans at this point is as digital
beings who have gone through a mind uploading procedure.
6 — Mind Uploading Procedures
What is the most promising procedure for transferring personal identity from one operating
platform to another?
Offloading is the most promising mind uploading procedure in terms of ability to enable
and test for the transfer of personal identity.
7 — Mind Uploading FAQ
What are the answers to the most commonly asked questions about mind uploading?
8 — Offloading
What equipment and procedures do we need in order to conduct an offloading procedure?
9 — Personal Identity
What is personal identity and how can we transfer it?
10 — Exocortex Design
How might we design a universal artificial mind framework that allows us to offload minds?
CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK
11 — BCI Design
How might we design a Brain-Computer interface to facilitate mind uploading?
12 — Avatar Design
How might we design a robotic body that allows a digital mind to best interact with the
12 — Forms of Existence
What are the advantages and disadvantages of biological life and digital life? Which form
of existence is the most promising for indefinite life?
14 — Lifetimes Infinity
What are Lifetimes Infinity’s plans for pursuing mind uploading and indefinite life?
15 — Deliberately Designing Reality
What long term plans should humanity focus on in our pursuit of indefinite life?
16 — Outer Space Colonization
What are our plans for pursuing indefinite life in physical space... beyond Earth, beyond
our Solar System, beyond our Galaxy, and beyond our Universe?
17 — Society Design
How can we best manage a society comprised of biological or digital beings to pursue
18 — Infrastructure Design
How can we best facilitate digital, space-faring societies in their pursuit of indefinite life?
CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK
19 — Spaceship Design
How might we design spaceship to allow to best facilitate societies in their pursuit of indef-
20 — Compact Survival Guide for Individuals in an Inhospitable Universe
What are the best strategies we can provide to individuals to maximize their opportunities
The definitions provided in this book are for how Lifetimes Infinity uses specific terms; they are
not meant to be absolute definitions. You will find that other individuals and organizations may use
the same terms in different ways.
Definitions and acronyms
Annex brain —
Artificial general intelligence (AGI) —
Artificial intelligence (AI) —
Biological immortality —
Brain-computer-interface (BCI) —
Brain module —
Digital immortality — Indefinite life as a digital mind operating under the same transferred
consciousness (the same personal identity).
Human-machine interface (HMI) — Similar to brain-computer interface, but not limited to the
technology interface strictly being computers and not limited to the human interface strictly being
Immortalities — One of the two categories of states of existence (the other being Mortalities).
Immortality — Having an infinitely long existence. ... (applicable to individuals/populations,
living/non-living entities). This is a state of existence.
Indefinite life — Having a non-zero chance of indefinite survival (applicable to
individuals/populations, living/non-living entities).
Indefinite lifespan — An individual having no upper bound to their lifespan.
Indefinite immortality — ... (applicable to individuals/populations, living/non-living entities).
This is a state of existence.
Lifetimes Infinity (LI) —
Microelectrode array (MEA) —
Mind uploading (MU) —
Mortalities — Having a finitely long existence. One of the two categories of states of existence (the
other being Immortalities).
CHAPTER 2. TERMINOLOGY
Mortality — ... (applicable to individuals/populations, living/non-living entities). This is a state of
Plane-bound immortality — ... (applicable to individuals/populations, living/non-living
entities). This is a state of existence.
Pseudo immortality — ... (applicable to individuals/populations, living/non-living entities). This
is a state of existence.
Substrate independent mind (SIM) — A term coined by CarbonCopies.org
True Immortality — Not being able to die (applicable to individuals/populations,
living/non-living entities). This is a state of existence.
The Tools of Rationality
This volume aims to answer the following question:
What are the best tools we can use to most accurately emulate a rational actor in find-
ing the best solutions for any given challenge (and specifically in the pursuit of indefinite
Before jumping into the meaning of life, indefinite life, or mind uploading, I want to explicitly
outline the tools used in the discovery and construction of all the postulates and conclusions presented
in this book. The tools outlined here can be applied to all facets of discovery.
Beyond the more obvious scientific applications, these tools can be used on the individual level to
create more objective mental models of both the external reality and of one’s self (note that the scope
of this book does not cover creating an objective model of one’s self ).
I have used these tools to the best of my ability in the creation of this book. The tools are presented
in a way that wraps them all into the category of rationality. Let’s start of by defining rationality and
a few related terms.
A rational actor (rational decision maker) uses logic, reason, and facts (knowledge) to
make the best choice between the available options. We define the best choice as the course of
action that yields the greatest expected utility.
Expected utility is the utility value expected to be produced by an action. It is the
sum of the utility of all possible outcomes, where each individual possibility is weighted by its
probability of occurrence.
CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION
VNM Utility Theorem
The axioms of Von NeumannMorgenstern utility theorem are: completeness, transitivity,
continuity, and independence.
“Completeness assumes that an individual has well defined preferences.”
“Transitivity assumes that preference is consistent across any three options.”
“Continuity assumes that there is a ’tipping point’ between being better than and worse
than a given middle option.”
“Independence (of irrelevant alternatives) assumes that a preference holds independently
of the possibility of another outcome.”
“A rational decision maker will, when presented with a choice, take the action with
the greatest expected utility. Von Neumann and Morgenstern provided 4 basic axioms of
rationality. They also proved the expected utility theorem, which states a rational agent
ought to have preferences that maximize his total utility. Humans often deviate from
rationality due to inconsistent preferences or the existence of cognitive biases.” — Less
As humans, we aren’t inherently rational beings. The biological/evolutionary forces that pro-
grammed our minds affect our individual and collective abilities to be rational.
There are many
pitfalls that humans tend to succumb to in their attempts to make sense of reality (biases, ignorance,
fallacies, etc.). Thankfully, there are some tools we can use to be more rationally. Rational actors
reason by using facts (knowledge) to build logical steps to reach a conclusion. The tools of reasoning,
logic, and knowledge are what we’ll be exploring in this chapter. The better developed these tools
are on the individual, population, and collective levels, the better our ability will be to reach better
conclusions in our quest for whatever we find meaningful.
Reasoning can be broken down into main two categories:
1. Reasoning by first principles.
2. Reasoning by analogy.
Reasoning by first principles is starting from fundamental truths and building on those,
layer by layer, until you get to where you want to be, only incorporating information that is
supported by previous truths. At the very bottom layer, there isn’t anything unsupported by
Reasoning by first principles is like baking a cake by understanding of how all the ingredients
come together to create the end product. You break the cake down into its constituents, then
figuring out how to bake your own version by manipulating the constituents to optimally reach
your goals. This is essentially baking from scratch.
On a deeper level, you could say reasoning by first principles is like baking a cake knowing
how the chemistry of all the ingredients come together to create the end product.
Reasoning by analogy is approaching challenges similarly to how things have been done
before (either in related or non-related fields).
This is like baking a cake using a recipe, maybe altering a few things, but not breaking it
down to understand how the constituents come together to create a cake. After a long time and
a lot of people using the recipe, people might not even know why a certain ingredient is used at
all, but they put it in their cake because everyone else puts it in their cakes.
Reasoning by first principles takes more time and effort than reasoning by analogy, which is why in
most of our day to day situations, we reason by analogy. We don’t always want to have to be assessing
our knowledge and fundamental truths in order to overcome most challenges. For example, if your
friend hands you the key to their house and asks you to open the door (because maybe their hands are
CHAPTER 2. REASONING
full of groceries), you’re going to assume that your friend’s door functions the same way as most of the
other doors you’ve come across (reasoning by analogy). You’re not going to sit your friend down and
assess what you both know about the situation in order to make sure that you find the best solution
to opening the door (reasoning by first principles). However, if you are a door maker, you would want
to take as much relevant information into consideration designing a door.
Best uses: First Principles versus
As you have probably noticed, the quicker a solution is needed, the more sense it usually makes to
reason by analogy. On the other side of things, the more important it is to do things optimally, the
more sense it usually makes to reason by first principles.
Similarly, when resources (including time) are scarce, we’ll have to make due with reasoning by
analogy in areas where the impact won’t be as great. Since resources are always scarce, we’re always
assessing which areas to put resources into. It doesn’t make sense to have everyone trying to reinvent
the wheel all the time in every domain. Looking at past experiences to determine the best course of
action for the future is often superior in that it yields perfectly adequate solutions in far less time. We
just have to watch out so that we don’t pigeonhole ourselves into only reasoning by analogy.
Later in this section, I talk about subjectivity, objectivity, and perspectives of reality. In
building up such things as our perspective of reality, we want to make use of reasoning by first principles.
Reasoning by first principles is useful when we are taking on revolutionary challenges and when it is
important to arrive at innovative solutions. In these cases, we question everything we know to make
sure that we are seeing the entire picture. In my experience, this is the most reliable way to produce
An idea worth mentioning is that often times opportunities are presented to those who act quickly
over those who act slowly (even if the slow actor has the better solution). This is important to note
because in the chapter States of Existence we equate survival to opportunities.
CHAPTER 3. BEST USES: FIRST PRINCIPLES VERSUS ANALOGY
First Principles and Rationality
We should make use of reasoning by analogy in situations where quick decisions that are
generally correct (employing a decent model of reality) are more valuable that slow decisions
that are more correct (that employ the best* model of reality).
Best is subjective. In addition, we can always improve our best model given more time, so
a scope must be decided upon.
Reasoning by first principles plays an important role throughout this book. It takes a lot of time
and effort to assess what we know and then build on top of that, layer by layer, until we reach our goal.
Reasoning by analogy takes far less time and effort, and for these reasons it is often more appealing.
However, reasoning by analogy (by definition) does not allow us to escape our previous methods of
thinking about a problem. Overcoming large challenges often necessitates the use of reasoning by
first principles, because often times we need to find solutions that are not analogous to any existing
solutions. This isn’t to say that reasoning by analogy isn’t useful. In this book I will reason by first
principles as much as possible, outlining all the steps and assumptions I have taken in reaching my
Knowledge is information, facts, understanding, experiences, and memories.
Knowledge should not be confused with memorization. Memorization only plays a part in
knowledge, the many types of intelligences, and one’s ability to to be rational.
For a given challenge, rational actors choose the subjective best course of action based on their
knowledge (which includes subjective experiences) and the application of that knowledge through
logical steps. Since humans are not objective beings and since we cannot be guaranteed to always
create completely logical steps, we will not be able to say we have an objective best course of action.
While an objective best course of action may exist for a given challenge, we cannot find it without
complete information of the entire system we’re interacting in (the universe). Since obtaining complete
information of the system isn’t an option, we must do the best we can to incorporate what relevant
knowledge we do have into building models of reality.
Hopefully we continue to develop better models for being rational and joining our collective knowl-
edge together to reach better conclusions. In doing so, we need to be aware that knowledge from
ourselves and others is subjective and can be incorrect. In building bigger more abstract models of
reality, we need to ensure that new models are only built through first principles, since in these domains
it is more important to have a better answer than a fast answer. In building much of our individual
perspectives of reality, it is important to take the time to reason by first principles as well.
We’ll always have to make assumptions and reason by analogy at times. This is perfectly fine, just
so long as we acknowledge these assumptions and keep in mind that if they support a conclusion, that
conclusion’s validity is conditional on the assumptions we make.
The Scientific Method
There are many individuals who recognize the scientific method as our best method for integrating
knowledge into our collective understanding of reality. However, it is less common find individuals who
use these same methods for constructing their life (physical domains), constructing their subjective
perspective on reality (mental domain), determining how they derive meaning in life, and determining
CHAPTER 4. KNOWLEDGE
what their life philosophy is. This is mostly likely because of the effort required and because no one is
forcing them to do it (whereas using the scientific method is the standard in the scientific community).
For most day-to-day activities, we’re not used to reasoning by first principles.
Rationality and logic are two distinct concepts, and although they are extremely similar, they are
not interchangeable. A rational actor will use logic to solve a problem, because logic yields the result
with the greatest expected utility for a given amount of knowledge. In other words, given a certain
amount of information, you can use logic to arrive at the best solution.
Logic — “Anything that is logical follows a sequence of events that arrive at the best
solution of a problem in the most efficient manner. A logical person is seen as having scientific
views and his actions are based upon facts.” — differencebetween.com
Here’s an example illustrating the difference between rationality and logic:
“Math is logical as there is no other way to arrive at a conclusion or the correct answer other
than following logical steps. A person can be irrational, whereas it is his beliefs that are illogical.” —
A rational actor chooses the action with the greatest expected utility for a given goal. Someone
using logic is finding the best solution to a given problem. For example, a rational actor with the goal
of pursuing indefinite life would take actions that increase their ability to survive. In determining each
of their actions toward this goal, they would outline the problems and use logic to arrive at the best
solution for each of these problems.
CHAPTER 5. LOGIC
Subjectivity and Objectivity
An objective actor is unbiased in their knowledge. However, as subjective beings, all the incoming
knowledge we receive from reality is subjective. For this reason, it is important to discuss subjectivity
and objectivity in relation to rationality. The more objective we can be in our knowledge and the
more objective we can make our knowledge, the more true our models of reality will be able to become
(both our external models and our internal models (our individual perspectives of reality)).
Subjective: “Existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the
object of thought. Relating to or of the nature of an object as it is known in the mind as
distinct from a thing in itself.” — dictionary.com
Objective: “Not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on
facts; unbiased. Intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with
thoughts or feelings, as a person or a book. Being the object of perception or thought; belonging
to the object of thought rather than to the thinking subject (opposed to subjective). Of or
relating to something that can be known, or to something that is an object or a part of an
object; existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality.” — dictionary.com
Perspective of Reality
All life is made up of subjective experiences. Our individual perspectives of reality will always be
through our own subjective lenses, colored by our preexisting knowledge. It is important to remember
that while we can discern objective truths, our own experiences cannot be anything but subjective.
We must keep this in mind in order to be as rational as possible (in assimilating knowledge and in
reasoning by first principles).
The Constructs of Reality
We need to remember that all of our lenses (subjective perspectives) have been built up through
biological and man-made constructs (from the rules and interactions of societies to the material and
CHAPTER 6. SUBJECTIVITY AND OBJECTIVITY
mental tools we use to interact with reality). The everyday life that we have grown up in and grown
accustomed to does not (for the most part) require that we rationally consider their effects upon us
as individuals. The meanings humans have deliberately built into these constructs and the meanings
that have emerged by themselves will too often mislead individuals (sometimes deliberately and even
maliciously) as to what the meaning of life is. To begin answering what the meaning of existence is (in
the next chapter), we will need to look beyond these constructs. Growing up inside of these systems,
it can be difficult to see beyond them, but it is possible if we use first principles.
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor
who came to inquire about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and
then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain
himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!” “Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of
your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your
— Zen Koan
Limitations of Rationality
As subjective beings, we will always have biases and incomplete knowledge. What we can do as
a collective to combat these limitations is continue to design better systems for identifying biases,
making decisions, and storing knowledge. We can also encourage the use of these rational systems
more and more so that more of the population understands them has access to them. What we can
do as individuals to combat these limitations of rationality is to simply acknowledge our limitations
and actively work to minimize them as much as possible.
CHAPTER 7. LIMITATIONS OF RATIONALITY
So now that we’ve outlined rationality and the tools we will use to improve upon our ability to
be rational actors, let’s look at how rationality will be applied toward this book. The next chapter
discusses the meaning of life and the meaning of existence. Beyond that we’ll talk about indefinite
survival. In order to talk about these things in any reasonable sense, I though it was important to lay
out the tools we will use to discuss them with.
To achieve the solution with the greatest expected utility for a given challenge, it is
best to take on the perspective of a rational actor who reasons by first principles and has
assimilated sufficient knowledge to propose a meaningful solution within an acceptable
margin for error.
To achieve the fastest yet still meaningful solution that falls within a given margin
for error, it is best to take on the perspective of a rational actor who reasons by analogy,
using knowledge that is readily available.
For all cases which require a solution somewhere between the fastest and greatest expected
utility, a combination of reasoning by first principles and reasoning by analogy will be required.
Individuals and populations will need to determine what the ratio should be based on the
available resources and desired solution.
Where the line is drawn for sufficient knowledge, meaningful solution, and acceptable margin
of error is up to individuals and populations.
Every individual assigns meaning to life as actors somewhere in the spectrum between rational and
irrational, and we all use varying degrees and types of knowledge. Knowing what tools we should be
using and what to look for can help us stay away from misguided theories and philosophies. Keep in
mind that there does need to be a goal to determine whether efforts are rational or misguided (since
we can’t talk about the expected utility of an action without respect to a goal).
It’s worth mentioning that in order for us (as individuals and a collective) to better ensure our
survival (if that is in fact our primary goal), we need to incorporate all these tools of rationality as
best we can into how we build our understanding of reality and how we interact with reality.
The word “meaningfully” is used a lot within this book, because a lot of that ways to define
something are ambiguous. Using the word “meaningful” lets us remove that ambiguity in the actual
CHAPTER 8. RATIONALITY CONCLUSION
definition and places into how meaningful is defined in that context. In this sense, “meaningful” is a
placeholder. For example, the extent to which something persists as itself through time is often up
to interpretation. So I will say something like “the individual meaningfully persists as itself through
time”, then we can have a definition and the reader can decide what they want “meaningful” to mean.
Or alternatively, I can define meaningful myself and the reader can decide to agree with that or not.
There are many techniques and tricks that we can use as humans to become more rational, but
they are not within the scope of this book. One of the things I will often do in this book is quantify
concepts as much as possible and get them into the same metric to find an optimal solution, since
having things quantified in the same metric allows us to objectively compare them (then the question
becomes whether I appropriately converted them to the same metric).