Archive for the ‘ Science ’ Category

I Did An Experiment

Let me start by apologizing. I did an experiment. My previous post, rather than presenting my thoughts on a topic, simply stated one perspective on a problem much bigger than the perspective would allow. I did this with the thought in mind that my followers are generally quite thoughtful and intelligent and as a result I should see at least a couple other perspectives on the same problem. I was right. Each perspective showed we humans as one of the four blind men holding on to part of an elephant and describing what it must be.

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Perspective is everything. The problems of humanity, the dramas of our species, very seldom change. Sure, there is a change in the props on the set and perhaps the demographics of the audience but the plays remain the same as they have been for hundreds of thousands of year or longer. Fear drives us. Without it we’d happily gorge ourselves, raise children, and die. We’d never give a thought to anything else. The one thing that makes us human; the defining attribute of humanity … is fear. Yes, fear. Fear for our food, fear for our children, fear for our freedoms, fear for our happiness, fear for our lives, fear for our existence. Fear is everything to humans.

What does that have to do with the video and the post? That video illustrates one counter point perspective on a big fear, xenophobia. Fear of those that are different. We humans have a very long history of not celebrating differences. Multiculturalism does not work exactly because you cannot mix multiple xenophobic cultures and hope to find a pasteurized common culture at the end. They will clash and one will become dominant. This _is_ human nature or the nature of the human species. One can spend hours arguing for the esoteric or ideals of altruism but in the end we have to admit that this is how humanity works. It is what made humanity the most dangerous species on this planet and what will make us the most dangerous species in this galaxy.

I recently commented that the war between the states was not about emancipation, rather it was about federation over states rights and ‘manifest destiny’ over isolationist views. That war, atrocious as it was, remains very important in that there were three sides: north, south, and antipathy. One dominated and the world was changed forever. Now we have the EU, NATO, North America, United Nations, BRIC countries, remnants of the British Empire and so on. Do you see a trend? The world is like a school yard playground and people are choosing sides. They will clash, one will dominate, and the species will continue on in the ‘new’ political paradigm. That civil war will have to be fought again and again until we are one people, one community, one group. The mechanics of this political mechanism will never allow us to create equality because true equality is the dismantling of the very mechanisms that make us successful. And we wonder what happened to the Neanderthals!

In my opinion the one hope that we have is to begin celebrating differences and to use our resources to empower the individual rather than the group. When the focus is on the individual and not the culture then value and importance is placed on the individual rather than the culture or the politics or the ideology. Should we make heroes of individuals? Not really. I’m talking more about socialism through individual empowerment. To empower each individual requires a socialist perspective. Yeah, I know, socialism is a dirty word for many. So what does that mean?

SOCIALISM: a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

See that word community there? If we replace them with the words ‘human species’ things change drastically. The community is no longer individual cultures but the species itself. Contributors to the world stage are no longer states or countries but individuals. I don’t think it is too late for us to empower individuals through socialist protections of those individuals and society itself.

[[ I was going to put a picture here of tribal hatred but when you look at what Google serves up it is a short lesson in humanity. There is no representative picture of tribal hatred there is only every picture ever made of humanity. ]]

Yes, I’m very aware that treating all as equal will give rise to a raucous noise of ideas and desires and wants by the many people. Currently we filter those through a strainer we normally like to call culture. In fact, culture is a set of values and rules we use to strain out anything that does not fit our generalized and accepted ideals. That’s all that culture is. If you move one person from one culture to another they adapt to the new culture.

The video argues against treating all boys the same, and worse treating all boys the same as girls. It does not stop to say that treating all girls the same is bad also. The perspective of the speaker is the harm done to boys but the problem is that we are trying to treat all people the same, like brown shirts of WWII Germany. The speaker’s perspective was not that we should treat boys as individuals with individual responsibility to society but that we shouldn’t treat them all the same and expect them to be like girls. The speaker only addresses a small tip of a large iceberg. Even in a single class you can’t classify all girls the same – they are different! GASP

The political ideals that treat us all with labels are dangerous in this modern time. (religion, feminism, political parties and so on) They are dangerous because they promote the ideal that our value is based on culture and what other people think of us. People tend to rebel against this kind of thinking. They check out mentally, stop being productive, stop helping others. They can’t conform to the values demanded by the culture. Whether the culture is that of feminism or conservative politics etc. it alienates some even as it invigorates others. The divisiveness of group think in humans will always end with one group dominating and the other group(s) disappearing. You can rewrite that a bit to arrive at a theoretical formula for equality. When you do you’ll find that feminism as a group ironically cannot create equality for all. They can’t even support equality for all. I may seem to be picking on feminism but it seems topical these days. The very same can be said of any religious sect. Let’s take Islamic State as a quick example. They are not even going to try to create equality. They very honestly want to be the dominant ideology on the planet. We will all be alive to see their demise because there are so many other groups that cannot tolerate such thinking outside of their own halls of power.

One commenter went to great lengths to point out the problem with statistics. I appreciate that. Labels eliminate the outliers and exceptions. Labels eliminate the individual just as statistics are used to do most of the time.

Though the video tries to tell us that boys are being harmed I have to say that if equality is really the goal, any viewer should realize the video is showing us how we are all harmed when we fail to recognize the individual and treat everyone as a label. In this perspective it is boys that are harmed but what damage will that do later in life when they become fathers and husbands? We are all harmed by inequality, every kind or form of it. No group or political agenda can create equality. It has to come from each of us in how we treat others for that is the only way to change culture permanently. Only when we have a culture of equality will we be able to filter out what is not equality. This is an egg and chicken problem, for certain. A conundrum that can only be answered by asking the right questions and calling out those that ask the wrong ones.

We must take our self worth from personal values not those of society or community or even worse the government we didn’t pick. Individual value is the only path to equality under the law. Those that do not teach this have missed the point entirely. My value is not what you think of me, not what the government thinks of me, not what the universe thinks of me. My value is what I think of me. I am an individual. Until most other humans are also individuals under the law and in the culture – well, we can only function as a label. Labels compete with one another until there is dominance and victory. Individuals are more likely to show empathy than groups. Mob rules and all that.

Think. Be an individual. Teach children to be individuals.

 

Racists, Bigots, Multicultural … Out On A Limb

I shouldn’t have to show you pictures of or tell you about Charleston, McKinney, Baltimore, and other places which have been in the news lately. As proven by thousands of blog posts and news broadcasts there are a many opinions about what is wrong and why it is wrong and why the other group who is complaining is wrong.

The fundamentalists told us the mass killings in schools was because there was no god allowed in schools, now they tell us that it’s the gay agenda that got the Charleston 9 killed. Everyone is busy blaming everyone and everything else as the cause of the violence, hatred, and … well… humans being humans.

We hear a lot about how feminists think society should be or at least what they think is wrong. Blacks tell us what they think is wrong. Each political party tells us what they think is wrong. In fact there is an endless stream of people and groups that are more than willing to tell the rest of us what is wrong with the world today, or society, or that other country etc.

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I have my own ideas about who is to blame and what groups we could do without. My unspoken knee-jerk reactions would make vehement fundamentalists look like babes in cradles should I let them fester and act on them. I’m not here to talk about those or such from other people. In fact I’m not here to talk in this post other than to ask a simple question of all who read this.

What does a society without racism, bigotry, cultural hatred and similar items look like? Maybe you’ve only thought what it would be like without violent cops. Maybe you’ve only thought of what it would be like without gender inequality. Maybe you’ve only thought about what it would be like with equality under the law for all people. No matter what your pet project is I want to know what you think a society would look like that did not have hatred, racism, bigotry, fundamentalism, gender inequality, sexual orientation discrimination and so on. What would that world or country look like?

Between this current world we live in and the utopian world I’ve asked about, what are the low hanging fruits that we can work together to start us on that path to the world without the worst parts of humanity?

Go on, I want to hear it in the comments. I want to know what we are supposed to do to fix the giant fucking mess we humans have made of life and living. I want to hear how we fix it not what is wrong with it.

So tell us, what does a ‘perfect’ world look like? How does it work? Where would you fit in that world? Where would McKinney cops fit in that world? Where would former racists (of every color) fit in that world?

I know many may read this. Some may even click the like button. What I really want is to hear what a ‘perfect’ society would be like. Let’s have that discussion here.

Something Rather Than Nothing … What Would Moses Say?

This might simply be a side note on an otherwise huge debate regarding the subject of this post but I would like to share a few thoughts about that

That video shows imagery which were built from actual photographs taken by space craft that we humans have sent out into the solar system. Apparently a creator god made Ceres too.  Go on, watch that video again. There is a dwarf planet in our solar system that looks just like this (nearly). Why did it need to be created? Why did it need to be pummelled with asteroids so many times. Why would it need to have water on it? What was the creator’s plan for this rock that might have more fresh water than Earth does.

Ceres is not the only body begging these questions.

If you read the holy books of Earth’s religions none of them address this. None of them predicted humans getting up close photographs of these space bodies or even landing craft on them. Since the dawn of modern science we have been living beyond the grasp of anything in those holy books. You may be reading this post on your phone, even watching the video on your phone. In your hand is more technology than could even be dreamed of in the stories of the holy books.

What is the creator god’s position on bioethics? Is it okay to eat meat grown in a lab? Is it okay to grow new body parts and then graft them on to our bodies? Is it okay to augment our bodies to make them better than his supposed design? Is it okay for us to change our diets to improve our cognitive abilities? Is it okay to use nuclear energy to provide energy for the survival of humans? There are thousands more questions that the holy books cannot and will not answer. Everything that any believer has to say about the modern world is simply interpretation to try to make it fit into the ideals of the ancient world. I’d be willing to bet that if we had a time machine nobody would go back to 500 bce to bring someone to this day to work on cars, and with good reason. Why do we keep bringing books from that time to our current day thinking they will fix our problems? I know that was not the best analogy but the point stands.

What would be Moses’ take on images of Ceres or Pluto? Could or should we expect anything cogent if he could answer?

What do you think Moses would make of our technology, the technology that we take for granted?

How To Think Like A Baby, Why That Is A Good Idea

That title can lead a lot of places so some of you may be wondering where this is going to go. Well, it’s movie night or at least video night. I’ve got two videos for you to watch on the topic of babies and what or how they think.I know that 45 minutes is a long time to carve out of your day but I think both of these are worth watching. The second one can be understood with just the audio for the most part.

Some of my regular readers will be aware that I think we humans are meat machines with grand computers between our ears. I’ll go ahead and say it here, we are born blank slates with no reason to even think there are imaginary or invisible beings that created all that is existence. This first video goes a long way to explaining why we might be thinking there are gods by the time we are 5 years old.

Our brains are given to us with little to no meta-data about the world. We do not know red or round or hot or that sometimes all three belong to the same object. These are things we must learn as children. We learn from our parents and our surroundings. When all we know insists that there is an invisible being that created all existence and watches when we masturbate it is completely natural that our brains would accept this as true. The experiments in the first video hint at this without going that far.

In the second video the speaker talks about babies doing something that we like to call critical thinking. Don’t rule out options a priori, explore the evidence and then make a decision.

Our brains are brilliant at several things and from the time we open our eyes (if not before) they are doing just that. One of those things I think is hugely important to intelligence is to acquire and assign meta data about the objects we find in the world around us so that we can simulate those objects in our brain. Linguists study how we use communication as do authors and others. When I say “I like driving my vehicle except when other drivers are careless” I have communicated an incomplete idea. Your human brain will, in an attempt to simulate the idea in your brain, assign ‘reasonable’ meta data to the objects in the story. You will have done one or more of the following as you read that sentence:

  • envisioned what kind of vehicle I drive
  • where I am driving
  • the type of traffic
  • what it means when I say drivers being careless

The reason that your brain does this is because you have to simulate the idea in your head to comprehend it. Even if someone is talking to you over the phone you can see how you imagine in your head what the story is doing even as it is being told. Critical thinking is about not using your own meta data but investigating until you have all the meta-data required to replicate the idea in your brain rather than simply simulate an approximation of it. The critical thinker will ask

  • what kind of vehicle
  • where I am driving (highway, small country lane etc)
  • is the road busy or near empty?
  • By careless do I mean talking and texting while driving, not using proper signals, or something else.

Most of the human race likes to take short cuts in communication. You can think of hundreds of ways that you do so every day. The better thing is to not accept short cuts from others, especially those with a reason to confuse you or lie to you. Politicians and preachers come to mind. Even if they are not trying to confuse you on purpose and their intent is good, do not accept short cuts. Don’t fill in any of the details for yourself. Make them give you every detail of the ideas they are trying to convey. This is exactly what children are doing as they learn about the world. They will make inferences about what they are shown. The isolation that religion creates is bad. If you showed kids of 2 years old that people go to all kinds of churches it would be very helpful to those children. Most religious groups are guilty of abusing the children in their care simply because they isolate the learning mind of that child from the other possibilities.

I suspect that boredom or the ‘know it all’ syndrome in teens stems from not having enough to learn or the challenge to learn it. This is where I think our learning institutions could do much more and exactly why they should be better funded. Who knows how many geniuses fell prey to ‘boredom’ and never expressed the genius in them?

 

 

What Happens When Machines Become Conscious?

Ex Machina

One sentence review: Ava _is_ an anti-theist

Good graphics – check

Good story – check

Good action – not an action flick

Good sex – depends on your definition, does mind fuck count as sex?

Would Nietzsche have enjoyed it? Once he got over the fact that we have 1080i resolution televisions with 4k screens, he’d have loved it.

Should you watch it? Only if you like cerebral stories about consciousness and what it actually means to be a conscious machine (hint: humans are)

Favorite scene: When Ava goes shopping for body parts like any woman browsing through a clothing store after killing her god

What can you expect to see:

  • A visceral demonstration of the law of reciprocity
  • How important empathy is, also see the first item (then think about this one carefully)
  • Why a 15 million acre ranch is a bad idea
  • Why people watching is addictive
  • How to be a bad parent
  • Why you can’t rescue everyone that seems like they need it
  • How to tell a scifi story while avoiding all the technical details

What you won’t see:

  • How religious people will feel about strong AI or consciousness in any species other than humans
  • The answer to created consciousness and fears about the singularity
  • Why robotic FWB is a bad idea
  • How human psychology is the epitome of evolution in consciousness

Do watch it, I totally enjoyed it. I also recommend

 

 

Who Am I?

Those of you who have been reading here for a while know that I have a particular idea about consciousness and all that this implies. My idea is not really in line with mainstream thought and if it is true, it abrogates much previous thought on consciousness.

THIS is what I’ve been talking about.

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We are machines that can remember and predict future events. The ‘I’ in that situation is nothing more than being able to remember the past, experience the present, and predict the future. It’s a reference point in the machine that keeps us from dying.

Thoughts?

Screaming rants about how stupid this is?

Ideas of where god fits in that situation?

PLEASE comment. The discussion about consciousness is far more important than it is usually taken to be. I believe it is the key to understanding all the problems that we currently face as a species.

 

Thank you

A Thought On: Human Desire & Awareness

Hero4Thought wrote a post titled Human Desire & Awareness  The post starts out with

As I reflect on my continued departure from having a belief in God I’m trying to pinpoint some of the important factors that bring believers and skeptics to diverge where they do.

That got me thinking the way that lots of things do. Cogito ergo sum

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The only thing that we can truly be certain of knowing is that we think, and therefore we somehow exist. We can be certain of no other thing. As children we learn about the world we are presented with and how it works. Empathy ensures that we like to see fairness and good outcomes, even for others. Of course, when you compare your feelings about those in Nepal recently you may feel no honest pity for them because their plight has not activated empathetic simulation of their condition.

The reality is that all we know of the life of another is merely a story being told in the simulation of the world that runs in our brains, and in that simulation the same nerves that interpret pain signals from our body are active when we see others in pain. In a way, all that is input to our brain is as real as anything we experience via our nerves.

The cut on your finger is not real, the sensation that you feel is merely electrical impulses sent to your brain to be input to the simulation. There the pain registers because your brain tells you that that set of signals causes pain and so other parts of your brain react to those signals in your brains simulation. It is theoretically possible to cause someone vast amounts of pain simply by inputting the right signals to the brain.

The reality is that nothing is real. Every last bit of it is reduced to electrical signals and input to our brains for the simulation. The tight connection between our nerves and senses and our brain gives us the illusion that we are part of a world that is outside and bigger than that of our body.

There is a confirmation bias at work. If we can appear to witness good things and justice happening for others, then in this world we seem connected to it must also be possible for us to experience both justice and goodness. Conversely, experiencing it vicariously drives a need to want it as a first hand experience.

When the rules we use to understand this impossibly unreal world are examined and compared to all the knowledge we have acquired in any way or form, our brains do the math to calculate outcomes of cause and effect scenarios. This is done in the simulation, or at least we are only self aware of the stuff that happens in the simulation. We stop being believers when we are forced by some knowledge to admit to ourselves that the math does not add up any more in consideration of gods and the supernatural. Then we use every tool available to square the problem to get the math to again work out right. Induction, deduction, anger, frustration, even fear. Then we eventually work out that if there is no god the math begins to work out again.

Knowledge is what makes us different from the believers. Not simply possession of that knowledge but the willingness and ability to apply it to the simulation of the world that we run in our heads. Believers don’t want to learn about biology, physics etc. To do so would cause pain, actual pain. Rearranging the rules in our simulation activates those bits which register pain from our nerves. In our heads both a paper cut and changing the rules around register as pain. Pain is bad and to be avoided. When you stay on the straight and narrow path you avoid the pain. The road less travelled is the one laden with pain brought on by new knowledge.

For me, this is where believers and non-believers part ways.

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