jacobjacob

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Agency in Conway’s Game of Life

Curated. 

I think this post strikes a really cool balance between discussing some foundational questions about the notion of agency and its importance, as well as posing a concrete puzzle that caused some interesting comments.

For me, Life is a domain that makes it natural to have reductionist intuitions. Compared to say neural networks, I find there are fewer biological metaphors or higher-level abstractions where you might sneak in mysterious answers that purport to solve the deeper questions. I'll consider this post next time I want to introduce someone to some core alignment questions on the back of a napkin, in a shape that makes it more accessible to start toying with the problem without immediatley being led astray. (Though this is made somewhat harder by the technicalities mentioned in the post, and Paul's concerns about whether Life is similar enough to our physics to be super helpful for poking around).

The strategy-stealing assumption

(You can find a list of all 2019 Review poll questions here.)