Search This Blog

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Cost of Happiness and the Human Development Index (HDI)

People all have the selfish pleasure of discovering people and things in the world necessary for a desirable future. Among the many things for a desirable future are education, income, and healthcare, but living longer is not really the only desirable future. Living well necessarily includes the selfish pleasure of discovery as well as compassion for others and the skills and competence necessary to live a desirable life.

The human development index (HDI) was created by the UN to rank the desirability of countries and social systems. Basically the HDI factors in per capita GDP, per capita education, and life expectancy along with a bunch of other factors to get an HDI. The means to live a desirable life is provided by a per capita GDP and a compliant political system, the selfish pleasure of discovery, the compassion of others, a valuable skill set and political system that per capita education provides, and of course, a life expectancy that means living long enough to then have that desirable life.

As a result, the HDI represents a kind of happiness for each country. While the U.S. has an index of 91.5 and ranks about 8th, Norway leads all with 94.4 even as Sweden lags with 90.7. The HDI shows the overwhelming success of capital free markets in buying HDI points and the indisputable failure of social big government to even acquire a reasonable HDI.

However, HDI happiness is not cheap and the graph below shows the how much 100 HDI points cost in terms of tax as %GDP. The U.S. pays about one third as much as Norway for the same happiness, 11.5 versus 28.9 taxes%GDP per 100 HDI's. The U.S. pays a much lower %GDP for its HDI than many less efficient countries that overpay for their happiness. The U.S. along with Switzerland, Germany, Canada, and Japan pay for happiness with much more efficient economies than Norway, France, or UK.

Happiness and its cost.
Thus the U.S. could choose to buy another 3 HDI points to equal Norway for just one third of the cost that Norway buys its HDI. That is, instead of adopting the very inefficient big government approach of Norway, the U.S. could choose to simply invest more of its own capital free market enterprise and accomplish the same HDI value far more effectively than Norway and certainly also Sweden, France, and the UK.

China and Russia, for example, are at HDI's of 72.7 and 79.8, respectively, and while China pays 14.6% GDP as taxes per 100 HDI points, Russia pays 18.9% GDP as taxes per 100 HDI of happiness. The higher costs of happiness are very apparent as the inefficiencies of socialist tyranny versus the individual freedom of capitalist free market economies.

A desirable life is much more than just living longer and necessarily includes the pleasure of discovery as well as a compassion for others. It is clear that knowledge about the world and the competence to contribute to civilization both allow each of us to truly discover a desirable future.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Google's AlphaGo Wins with Value and Policy

AlphaGo is a deep-learning bilateral neural network, which is a computer program that has two main personalities; Value and Policy. AlphaGo Value and Policy in effect talk with each other but have fundamentally different feelings about how to win the game of Go.

theverge AlphaGo

Value loves to win more than he hates to lose, but Policy hates to lose more than she loves to win. In other words, AlphaGo Value and Policy represent the basic nature of feeling and choice that people recognize as consciousness. The basic definition of consciousness is a recursion of action and sensation; a conscious person acts just like they see (or sense) other conscious people act.

AlphaGo Value corresponds to the human emotion of pleasure while Policy corresponds to the human emotion of anxiety. People make choices based on a singular feeling that involves the processing of many pairs of complementary emotions and not just pleasure and anxiety. Compassion and selfishness, for example, is how people bond or conflict with others, joy and misery, anger and serenity, and pride and shame complete a basic set of complementary emotions that approximate human feeling.

AlphaGo Value gets great pleasure in winning as many stones as possible and Value is willing to take risk while AlphaGo Policy is anxious about losing only one stone...the one stone that wins the game, and plays very cautiously and avoids risk. While Value takes risk and goes for as many stones as possible to win, Policy avoids risk and settles for the one stone that wins the game.

We journey in our lives desiring the same bilateral futures as AlphaGo; a part of us wants the pleasure of winning big and taking risks and a complementary part of us is forever anxious about simply getting by and surviving by avoiding risk. People have more complex emotions than just pleasure and anxiety and so we have more complex and cooperative relationships with other people and the environment.

What AlphaGo's two personalities represent is a fundamental part of the recursion of consciousness and therefore what it is that we mean when we say that someone is conscious. Lee Sedol is the Go world champion who played against Value and Policy, who had been playing each other for four months prior and had therefore both won and lost literally millions of games with each other prior to the match with Sedol.

Sedol has played many hundreds of thousands of games during his life but is simply not able to play the many millions of games that taught Value and Policy how to beat him. While Sedol will improve his skill by playing Value and Policy together, he might do much better playing Value and Policy separately.

Also, to be fair, AlphaGo should also have additional human personalities like anger and shame, for example. That way Sedol could gain advantage in ways that better represent the complexity of human consciousness. The question do you make an AlphaGo angry at a opponent's board position or ashamed of a its own board position. And of course, AlphaGo must show some compassion in not crushing its opponent and allowing some victories while still being selfish enough to win the tournament.