From Life to Objects – The Shift of Diversity

Diversity is moving from the tree of life to man-made objects. Have we really surpassed nature? No, we are nature!

So let’s take the story towards a more holistic view, a little beyond the conventional borders of our sciences:

The competitive exclusion principle

In ecology there is a competitive exclusion principle (CEP) stating that two species competing over the same resource cannot coexist forever; One will eventually leave the scene to the other. Now, one could take this principle beyond life by classifying man-made objects into kingdoms and species just like plants and animals. Or could even look at both taxonomies, life and objects, as two terrestrial families competing over a single resource, the planet.

It appears that man-made object is taking the playground from the organic life, but with the transfer of resources shifts also, diversity.

The modern explosion of man-made objects whilst the decline of biodiversity should be viewed as the tale of this shift. Diversity has gradually moved from the tree of life to product-space.

And it has done so, not only meddled by humans, but also through mankind.

Shift of diversity from life to objects, via humans

As buildings seize more lands from trees and drones take more of the sky away from the birds, we need to pay attention that in between these two, “Animals and Artifacts”, there was an intermediate domain for hosting diversity which rose and fell: human culture, as the carrier of novelty.

A one step more detailed story could go like this: One species out of millions unexpectedly dominated the earth and while pushing the rest to die or adapt, diversified itself. It gave rise to an explosion of isolated cultures, languages and life styles; A diversity unseen in any species beforehand. The cycle however did not stop there. Millennia later one or few of those many cultures – under the industrial civilization – eventually pushed all the rest aside and sucked the diversity into its own territory, producing physical artifacts. And this is where we are now.

Tracking where novelty shifts is important, because a legitimate extrapolation could tell us that nature will repeat the cycle when one or few of these by-products eventually marginalizes the rest and becomes the primary carrier of diversity.

The question is, after monospecies and monoculture era, which few products out of millions will declare an age of “monoartifact”? Few artifacts whose greedy winner codes (after human genome and the industrial machinery) would redefine the future of Earth’s ecosystems. And given that, what is the next territory that shall win nature’s focus to host its future diversity? Where is the further innovation taking place? Remained to be seen.

Reflecting on Amazon’s new HQ in New York

We are entering an era in which companies dream of becoming cities.

They will fail, almost certainly.

A company can not mimic a city without being as dynamic and as self-organized, even if it surpasses a city in size or revenue by a large margin; companies have a naturally shorter lifespan.

This happens since cities have the freedom of a bottom-up flow, coupled with certain network properties that are vital for a superorganism to adapt to the environmental changes. Corporations cannot always stir fast with the moves of the market (elaboration for another post). They are a different animal. Obesity kills them eventually if they don’t die a natural death.

Due to structural differences, after a certain level of growth companies experience decline in their rate of “innovation” – the very glue that holds cities together. Unlike cities and forests their synergy will eventually stop and reverse, then they can not carry their own weight unless they innovate and disrupt. Companies can not scale forever.

* * *

And can tech giants innovate proportional to their growing size, i.e. with a so-called “superlinear” rate?

No, not passed a certain size. Not with a gigantic mass, a top-down flow and a compartmentalized structure. For these giants to grow bigger than this, for them to be worth trillions or to become cities and last, they need to revolutionize their structure. But they simply don’t have the code for it.

Of course innovation will keep taking place in megacities but increasingly outside these campuses, even if they try to attach themselves to megacities like Amazon is trying to land on New York’s metropolitan area.

What tech giants should do at this point is to downsize their mass, their physical manifestation, lay off and restructure, then grow again but that is not how public companies are ruled. Their leaders may well be aware of this better than the average shareholder, but neither have a better next possible move on the board. They are accustomed to follow a natural course for the evolution of the mega-creatures they are shaping. And in that course there is no prospect of keeping the pace of the innovation. This is not about the talent-base; this is a structural failure and it’s emergent.

* * *

What are these companies going to do with their facilites when doomed by their nature they have to let go of their extra load?

In the most organized and systematic scenario, these buildings will be taken over by a new generation of emerging insitutions and reused for different purposes than they are built for. So they better design them with flexibility.

In another foreseeable future our kids shall play techno in their abandoned halls, or whatever fusion the spirit ot their time will be!

And I think this will happen no later than a couple of decades, perhaps gradually. Doesn’t need to be any apocalyptic scenario, system collapse, war or political revolution.

I will place a long-term bet on this one too.

Trees may be smarter than humans, collectively

When I was in Belgrade I read in their official travel guide that the city has been almost completely destroyed and rebuilt 44 times! I mind you that if the chance of not recovering after each destroy was as low as a lucky 5%, then the city would have perished by now with a chance of 90% after the forty fourth time.

Then it occurred to me what kind of organism could possibly lose a considerable chunk of its mass and yet survive that many times (spoiler: forests).

I couldn’t also find anything magical about the coordinates of Belgrade, or many other cities for that matter. It’s not like there is a non-exhaustible mine or a type of exclusive resource to that location has made people rebuild the city over and over again right from that location. It’d probably only take a bunch of survivors to take off again.

Or just look at Rome. It has lived under so many different tyrannies, governments and religions, and has even survived under different organizational paradigms from slavery, feudalism and capitalism. So here I try to explain what is that essence that has kept Rome alive as long as there was a little flame left to burn through the next regime?

All companies die. But cities never die.

Geoffrey West’s main findings and his flagship results in his body of work claims this.

He claims that cities not only save energy per capita, but also create more wealth – even per capita. This leads to a closed feedback loop for growth of the cities that is unprecedented in other super-organisms in nature [I would exclude forests before agreeing to this];

Anyhow he rightfully shows with mathematical models that cities, although can be destroyed or wiped out, do not die a natural planned death. Companies, people or animals on the other hand don’t have such double synergistical effect to their growth pattern. So once growth make their building blocks (humans or cells) so their exponential growth stops internally, and not due to exhaustion of resources, then they die. Something that doesn’t happen to cities. Concievably neither to forests.

Now, in the following comes my reading of Geoffrey West’s work, plus some more radical opinions and critics:

  1. All Superorganisms grow, but cities are different

Just like other organisms, superorganisms are formed based on smaller elements coming together to benefit from the economy of scale. So from the perspective of network science, technological or social networks aren’t necessarily different from biological networks. So their similarities make them “alive” in some sense. Cities, companies, forests (I would add civilizations, empires, religious institutions, coral colonies, hives, etc.) are all alive in a measurable and objective sense, although not necessarily sentient or conscious, which is a quite a different – subjective – story.

Typically all of these network have evolved to reach an equilibrium after growth, and for the same mathematics they all stop growing at a certain point, live up to a rather predictable age and then they die a natural death. By doing so – independent of their mechanism of reproduction – they leave room for the new to repeat the cycle. Nature has favored this sustainable code over an endless number of cycles.

Cities are different, they are in theory eternal.

While there are many parallels one can draw between all these superorganisms, in one sense “cities” seem to be an exception. They by design suck up the resources around them with no self-correcting mechanism. At least in our current economic model and so far as I know what has been experienced since the first human settlements, we don’t suddenly see a systematic and planned evacuation of a city or its division to smaller cities, say for people living a better life, repeating this cycle all over again. We just don’t have a code for it. This has not happened and will not as long as the economy of sclae gives the citizens a double edge to live there, which is again:

Similar to biology the bigger the organism gets the less energy its cells consume, per capita. But unlike biology the bigger you get the more “money” you gain per capita. West reports that such a positive feedback loop seems to be exceptional to the cities among all the other superorganisms.

2. The additional glue: Creativity and productivity, driven by money and language

Although just similar to biology that extra wealth per capita translates to smaller homes and less stuff in the center of megacities compared to the country side, because of the rules of the monetary system the economic power such money creates keeps attracting people to the big cities. Wages are higher in big colonies of humans because they seem to follow the rate of productivity, which is higher per capita in bigger colonies. “Stronger input-output linkages, better matching of employees and employers, and invisible but active knowledge spillovers in agglomeration economies” are believed to increased productivity resulting in higher wages. The so-called “agglomeration” economies shaped in desne areas increase creativity (the number of patents as well as wages follow a super-linear fit, fueling the exponential growth of the city. So in retrospect, among other tools the advent of language and the invention of money changed the dynamics of the human network, human creativity was unleashed and an exponential growth pattern, the civilization, emerged from that network.

On an individual level, this effect is not an unfamiliar phenomenon. We people living in big cities, capitals, and close to the power hubs may live in denser areas and consume less energy per capita to warm our habitat compared to residents of the countyside. But we also create more waste due to our higher economical level. We shop more, commute longer to work, travel more, etc. And this economically driven factor is the essense that makes us and our embeding super-organism, the city, rather different from the other super-organisms.

But what other network may also enjoy such a double edged growth patterns of the cities (super-linear gains at sub-linear gain). What other superorganism might be exceptional? Could it be forests and reefs, since their exceptionally long lifespan may tell a story about that additional glue. What keeps them together that could be analogous to the superlinear “glue” of the cities? Why does it seem that – similar to the cities – forests or reefs also last exceptionally long? Do forests and reefs – like their individual trees or corals – have an internalized code for death? Sure they can be killed off or shrink due to external reasons, but they don’t have an internal mechanism to die as a whole.

In other words, what do individual trees benefit from when they are in a bigger and bigger network? What’s in it for individual corals to be in a huge reef than a small one when they can’t even move?

3. Do trees have money, or language?

They ought to!

Also this is far-fetched, I think it could be inferred merely from the physics of the network, considering the emergent properties of a forest, that it is way more than a regular grid. It is a complex network, known to be not only highly-clusterized (having a high clustering co-efficient) but also with the properties of a small-world network. And thus without a deep knowledge of ecology or forestry even, one could possibly show that trees have a sense of networking, collaboration and communication (likely even symbolic communication with an inventory of signs).

Also, trees have documented track record of “trade”. But do they have a sense of currency, property law, and ownership? Do such concepts necessarily follow the invention of a formal *phonological* language? Those who claim Capitalism is a product of the nature, may have gotten something right.

In linguistics, “double-articulation” is known as the most crucial feature that makes human language differ from other forms of communication in nature. This is the ability to exploit the combinatorics of dual patterns and is extremely powerful since it makes symbolic computation possible.

It is, however, in my opinion very arrogant and naive of us humans to assume that such phenomenon first evolved with our species. Both rainforests and reefs seem to possess similar network properties (amongst others self-similarity, small-world property and high-clusterization) that I argue could be an infrastructure for a phonological [alphabetic] mind capable of symbolic computation, given a random mutation of dual patterns.

This may be the hidden story behind any of the evolutionary leaps on earth, and not just the last one. And it could mean, with all the seriousness, that rainforests or reefs, as intelligent superorganisms have purposefully invented animals in the same way we invented cars. And for short-term or long-term reasons. I do understand the co-evolution of animals with their echosystem, but do trees know who invented automobile?

It’s a testable hypothesis to see if rainforests have evolved, say, their own stock market somewhere down in the ground. I just wonder if like ours it ever crashes once in a while in some million years! A bit more far-fetched than that, the urbanization and the human experiment, us, could be one of those.

Does vegetation has similar properties as urbanization? Do rainforests possess a collective intelligence comparable to that of Silicon Valley, Wall Street or Holley Wood? Are they creative, productive and experimental?

How crazy is that?! Not crazy at all.

How testable is it? I believe, enough!

Printing a megacity in the desert?

Can you print a megacity in a desert and demand it to return your investment?

“Dimensionality” in complex networks is still an ignored concept in any other discipline which deals with those networks – but physics, the mother of them all.

In city planning for example, governments can aspire to make a metropole of 9 million and expect it to behave like NYC, once it matures. If not necessarily reproducing the same financial or political influence, but at least creating a similar “feel” internally shouldn’t be much to ask?

Not true.

It is essential to build mega-cities from smaller organic elements: minor cities already near each other.

Is such a simple observation in other, similar, networks something that the policymakers of some trillion-dollar future megacities are unaware of? And do they not need that knowledge when they expect the return for their investment?

* * *

Building new fresh sustainable megacities in uninhabitable feilds sounds like a brilliant idea. The trend has many great promises:

It returns the investment massively through real estate and beyond. It will host the future waves of urbanizing population while built with the state-of-the-art and more sustainable technology. Even better if it is built in a desert where preserving the natural ecosystem is much less vital than say, a rainforest.

But sustaining a megacity – logistically – is not possible without sustaining it culturally. That is the foundation of the city life and for it is necessary to mimic the underlying dimensionality of organic metropoleis – something that should match the metropolis’ magnitude – or else the megacity will never produce the effects of even much smaller cities, no matter how much more money central-planers poor into the project long after building it.

* * *

Even if the best engineers set up the physical infrastructures and plug in the vital resources, even if structures are built with fresher and more sustainable technology with a smaller footprint, even if they kick out or bury all the workers who built it and resettle the desired population, it is still not wise to establish a city on nothing with a grid mindset.

It takes a little more investment but in the right direction to try to recreate a “dimensionality” that typically evolves over centuries when a megacity is organically seeded.

Only then one can attempt to create the equivalent of a two or three centuries old universities like NYU or Columbia in the course of decades.

Chinese have understood this and are building their megacities around the existing smaller parts. Even much smaller cities like Dubai or Doha grew their skyline organically – though on steroid – around an existing old town.

Predicting Cryptocurrencies

My naive analysis of cryptocurrencies based on the publicly available data (historic price of the major coins) inferred four key parameters to model a typical crash:

– The magnitude of the latest bubble.
– Length of the inflation period.
– The speed of deflation measured by the powerlaw exponent of the decay curve.
– The length of the deflation period.

On the flight back from New York City (have to look up the date but it was early January this year) looking at the 11 major crashes in the history of cryptos, the rather simple model predicted that:

The market may crash at any moment. (It did in a week, but could go on a little longer too).

And that at the current market cap ($800B at the time) a following crash will, in a period of 6 months to one year:
– Deflate to a market cap of $150B for all cryptos.
– 4,500$ for Bitcoin (17,000$ at the time)
– 200$ for Ethereum (1,200$ at the time)

And I said I will buy when two of the three goals are met.

So far (9 months through) one of the three has taken place (Ethereum hit 170$ yesterday).

You’re welcome!

Atheism vs. Agnosticism

If you identify yourself as a non-believer, possibly with some history of hostility towards organized religions, would you call yourself an Atheist, or an Agnostic?

I can’t care less about labels and names. But since they have a practical use – saving time and energy – we can discuss them.

* * *

Once upon a time nefore the chemical outbrake of puberty introduced a wave of changes in my body, it impacted my mind. I rebelled – still quite analyctically – against the delusions of the local culture, which let to tossing out religions amonst some other outdated codes. I turned in to a non-believe and I called it atheism three years later when I learned that I am not only alone, but there may be even a conventional name for the state of my belief system. And it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I realized agnosticism is a better term to describe this state.

Typically the naive distinction between atheism and agnosticism is tested with whether or not one would answer “No”, or “I don’t know” to the question of existence of *any* God. This is in the grey zone, and a metter of definition and interpretation: How do we define God?

Some believe in Gods because in the hierarchy of beings in the vast universe and possibly beyond, there can be creatures above us. Aliens, Gods, simulators, our own Gaia or some parts of it, concious super-organisms that we may can be their building blocks, etc. All these can have God-like powers over us, by shaping and controlling us. But is that all it takes to be a God?

The problem here is that all these beings, even if proven and spotted, are things just like us. They have weaknesses and struggles for their own survival, and simply put they aren’t “in charge”. They don’t have control. A God that knows how everything at every level unfolds, comes from a much motr strict definition of God and that is a level of God-ness that I am a non-believer in. This is a very generic definition for a God, one who has made everything, knows it all, and can control all existence at all its levels. But to me its existance still as unlikely as exotic concept such as Allah, Jesus, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Atheists – including my past self – typically view agnostics as mild atheists. Atheists that have woken up but not quite enough to completely get over their religion, and they may be statistically right. But to me agnosticism isn’t compromised atheism. It’s an ultimate state disbelief. So an agnostic refuses religion, but also atheism itself as a replacement that could be vulnerable to the flaws and biases of any other man-made culture. And this was the point that I had not understood in the spiritual beliefs of not-quite-atheist thinkers like Spinoza, Darwin or Einstein.

So agnosticism that I refer to is more of a non-believer than atheism. And as there are infinitely many ways to define God, there can be infinitely many levels in between agnoticism and atheism. The atheist culture, perhaps in order to unify better against the organized religions, wants these two classes and all in between them to collapse in one. But in my eyes they are quite distinct, and I think there are a lot of interesting belief systems also in between them.

I may be going through another phase of chemical changes but currently I feel like I am somewhere in that in-between space.

Explosions between Cambrian and Technological Singularity

Economy of scale and life’s punctuated equilibrium:

Life on earth is going through another short period of rapid morphological changes, this time because of us humans: In a short geological moment we have gone through a massive scale-up (7 orders of magnitude from tribes of hundreds, to billions on the Internet or members or the global economy). That we all know.

Phase transitions are common place in single species – known as punctuated equilibrium and are spotted based on local evidences at hand such as fossil records. But terrestrial life as a whole experiences such phase transitional behaviors too, although they aren’t always as easy to spot in our labs.

Last time we think a scale-up like this happened was the so-called Cambrian explosion half a billion years ago: The rapid shift in life forms from single-cell organisms to complex animals with advanced specialized systems and organs. This was when nature evolved new networks and gave life emergent properties such as intelligence or purpose.

And well in between these two explosions, there may have been other economies of scale transcending single units to complex wholes, though we may not as easily manage to identify them. I am for instance quite open to the spiritual idea that views rainforest as an intelligent whole, with a form of wisdom and the ability to reason, possessing foresight and purpose and other emergent properties invisible to our senses and ungraspable by our brains.

We require more advanced tools to discover those realms, but rest assured there exists much more than we have seen; Communicating with the intelligence that takes place at much bigger or smaller scales, or much slower or faster pace isn’t the most trivial thing we have evolved to do. Neither we have made our tools specifically for this. But I think we already have made tools that we can begin to utilize for this particular purpose. And I am hopeful and optimist, that science has the ability to eventually explore those realms.

Subjectivity,an emergent property?

What can be even more puzzling is the question of conciousness, subjective experience and sentience. Are they too, some emergent properties of complex networks? This is a whole new discussion:

Can networks emerge not only intelligence, planning and reasoning – as stated before, I am convinced they do – but also create joy and suffering out of nothing?

And what are the ethical implications of all these?

We don’t know if cells have sentience. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they do have something like we do. Why exactly can we have that and they could not?

And now let’s for a moment assume they have a sense of sentience. The ethical question is then: Was that explosion a fun thing for them, or was it a disastrous regrettable mistake to ride the economy of scale and shape animals instead of competing alone for survival. Did they sacrifice their individual freedom for specialization in order to serve the survival of a bigger whole? More far-fetched, is a kidney cell *happier* than a lonely floater with shorter life span and less guaranteed levels of safety, but possibly higher degrees of freedom?

Relativity of morals is ethics 101, and good for something is bad for soothing else. So I am not trying to quantify and sum up all the good and evil in the universe to solve a Karmic optimization problem here. This is difficult enough to ask. Could singles be happier on their own, or as a part of a bigger whole?

And if it doesn’t make sense to you to ask such a question about microbes, just wonder the same thing about us. It’s hard to conceptualize things we haven’t evolve to perceive but our transition from tribes of apes to specialized members of powerful gigantic institutions that decide our faith more than us is a phenomenon that we tend to ignore. And such super-organisms, whatever you can think of them from physical campuses of multinational corporations, institutions and governments, to less visible codes of AI all across the Internet competing for their own survival, may only be in their early forms. Their real game may have not even started yet!

Point being, all the signs of technological singularity fits in the context of evolution.

Ethical considerations:

Back to the ethical questions: whether this is all good or bad and should we help or stop it? Relativity of ethics aside, there are two levels of moralities I can think of:

– One is what we are used to in our conventional ethics; A sense of good or bad at the human level or familiar issues in its proximity such as animal welfare: Are we as individuals losing our freedom to serve the dictatorship of new giant monsters? Are we going to suffer more and for long dark periods as humans? Could we humans catch ourselves in a blink of an an eye (a giant eye!) in miserable conditions as animals are experiencing in our industrial farms, simply because unavoidable forces of nature are leading us there? Or will we find a more sustainable and less cruel way of expanding the network of life and transcend this with less pain and suffering, exploitation and war?

– The other ethical discussion is a more Karmic sense of good vs evil: The ultimate survival of life. Whether or not we humans will be happy or miserable in any given futuristic scenario, is our technology eventually going to protect life on earth from external cosmic hazards and possibly even expand it beyond earth? Or will it kill it off completely. Some say our species may actually have a purpose and this is it.

In this context if our civilization explosion instead implodes to kill all life, before our reaching its multi-planetary ambitions, then that can be viewed as a failed gamble by mother nature.

Will humans make it to, and survive the technological singularity?

And then there is this third scenario in between. The most likely I would say. Our species will die a mild extinction before taking over stars, but also before completely destroying the life forever and ever. Both seem much more difficult than simply going extinct.

What will happen in that scenario? Probably plants will come back with new wisdom – resistance to nano-biological hazards, radioactive, plastic and what not. Then they make new things that will move around and will send them again on the mission to pollinate other stars for another thousands of unsuccessful trials, up until a massive asteroid finishes us off, this time completely.

Now seriously, does mother nature have ways to set goals and make plans, invest in a species to become technologically advanced enough to protect its mother? Hey let’s make some humans to protect and expand the life although they may kill it all. And in taking such gambles does she even further possess mechanisms for sensing and evaluating the risks involved?

I think she does. Apparently in one instance right here and now.

If this post evolved as a part of nature, then nature does have ways to try assessing the risk of its gambles. All technologists and scientists who push our civilization forward, and yet inform and warn us about existential threats that come along the horizon are the manifestation of such a risk assessment. And they come from the nature. So why should we think of them as an isolated phenomenon? How do we know nature hasn’t manifested things like this previously? All we see is the qualities of its current wave of emergent intelligence.

Hopefully it’s not the last wave, and I really doubt if it is the first one. Unlikely!

Towards an Everlasting Never-ending AI dictatorship

It’s already in the process. We are already slaves of some self-organized technological super-intelligence, made of flesh and silicon, which is beyond all of us. It’s just many of them out there fighting over us as resources and the evolutionary battle hasn’t been settled just yet.

So let’s reflect on these doomsday scenarios:

We tend to undermine the algorithmic nature of the world, and so the wide variety of scopes and the vast magnitudes of scales that evolution can rule, beyond biology. This is an old story: Trees made us to be their pollinating agents and we cut them down. We made AIs to serve us and they will eventually enslave us.

So those who predict an AI take over are right, but their doomsday scenario isn’t like a Terminator story. It isn’t even about automated weapons.A ‘God-like’ AI is a true threat. But it doesn’t need to be a robot, a super computer, or a conventional AI.

The rulers of future earth will have algorithmic nature. But let’s reflect on that now:

First of all, algorithms do not run in a metaphysical layer seperated from our tangible world. Algorithms need *stuff* to run on; They will still need flesh and silicon.

The truth is, we are already slaves of self-organized algorithmic beings higher than ourselves; The technological end legal entities that interact with each other and the machinery of our civilization as examples. These superorganisms beyond any individual’s power have evolved an order, a system, and dictate what we should do. They rule us, own us, embed and encompass us; We are like cells in their bodies.

What are exactly these algorithmic super-organisms? Very difficult to pin point.

If we could spot and name them, we would still view them as vague concepts entangled with each other like a spaghetti, rather than detached physical objects. I don’t think from our perspective we can define these superorganisms as separate entities like the conventional organisms that we know, but that doesn’t make them any less real. And more far-fetched this wouldn’t stop those Gods from perceiving themselves and each other as separate entities in their layer of existence.

We can, however, with our limited understandings, identify concepts such as organizations, nation-states, political parties or corporations. But there is much more complexity that goes above our heads when we include all the algorithmic functionalities within and in between them. The key to tell them apart is to look at their algorithmic functions.

It is really these entities who make wars, invent alphabet, or send objects to Mars, not individual leaders, inventors or visionaries. These entities could have consistent habits or patterns like our personality traits.

Such algorithmic gods and masters are beyond our understanding as we are beyond our cells. We are just a small part of them. And they are intelligent too. More than us or less, is difficult to tell. They are operating at different scales and deal with different problems for the survival of their code. Are we more intelligent than our cells? What about the cancerous ones? If so how one of them can kill us?

I think we already are slaves of some god-like beings that are in their infancy and are co-evolving with us. And it shouldn’t be surprising if their greed for domination and survival as an emergent property, accelerates out of our control and if we find ourselves captured in a deterministic ordered that we built together, while there is no way out.

We have experienced this situation before. With the idols, commandments, money, cities and legal systems we have previously made codes that became stronger than us. These codes are already our masters, exhibiting recognizable patterns taking us to wars and situations beyond the decisions of any CEO, king or emperor.

And I think of AI threat along the same lines, only on steroid. AI is scary because it runs on increasingly faster platforms and can accelerate since it may gain the power to make itself exponentially smarter.

When it comes to what matters to us, things like individual freedom, what is worrying about AI is that it can make the grip of such evolving superorganisms much tighter who have their own selfish codes to for example minimize a cost-functions or to optimize for a goal, that be money, growth, profit, order, anything.

While nature is at its own game, the bad news for us may be that our current welfare and freedom can last for only a short moment in the history. That the privileged position of the enlightened modern man may be just a temporary behavior of one of these algorithmic entities going through a phase transition.

So these fuzzy philosophical speculations aside, I think what makes AI dangerous is something like this:

* * *

Technology has transformed us. As our individual survival depends more and more on the interaction with technology, we are gaining some freedom while losing some. Our functions are changing rapidly.

We are already not free to think with our own individual brains. Are we? The dominant codes, wide-spread systems and algorithms are dictating how we should think. What questions should be asked and what options are out there. How we should model the world, how we should think how to live. Call these forces the society, economy, media, culture; They have rules and systems and we get our thinking patterns from them. The most successful of them have evolved to copy themselves like programs in our heads and they are ruling us already.

We see now that smartphones controlled from small brain-like power hubs and control panels in the tech giants already control the masses. But they even control the CEOs of the those giants in some way. You see when these powerful individuals seem to be in full control, how suddenly desperate they become in the face of unforeseen challenges?

This is just one decade of smartphones taking over our lives. Soon enough we will even have chips in our brains and implants will replace screens and touch-pads. So it would be much easier to control us, and voluntarily even.

Environmentally, almost all wild animals who did not follow the new order are gone already and only us the tamed ones are left. Some of us domesticated animals will be the the pigs locked up in the slaughter house. Some would be workers trapped somewhere else to provide electricity to those facilities. Some of us would be more free programming the machinery, some are following someone elses’ orders, who gets order from another one, who is somewhat voted by us through the propaganda that is fed to us by . No one’s really free already.

Who wrote all these code? No body as far as we know. We all together did it and it evolved with us. And it’s there now anyway. AI can only make us voluntarily head to make such a destiny much faster. Because it potentially knows us way better than we do ourselves.

We can’t even say if this scenario is good or bad. It just is. I think there’s no right or wrong at this scale.

Good or bad, I think a kidney cell can never go back to float freely in the wild Precambrian oceans of the earth like its ancestors did. Not after it evolved to enjoy the economy of scale and its existence dependent to interact with the rest of the body.

We may be heading to uncertain futures like this that find ourselves increasingly *locked up*, if not physically but algorithmically, to run functions that deals with our very survival. It sounds deterministic and sad. But we are heading that way already. I think AI could only make it faster and could come up with new creatures that would blow our current minds.

There is one thing for sure. What we are experiencing now is anything but a state of equilibrium, so we are heading to something peculiar. We humans as the catalyzers of this process may try to stir it so that the to-be-established future order wouldn’t be so painful for our species. Although I doubt if we can manage.

Electrified Bees

If you are an electrified bee amongst all other bees in the hive, how far can you go off-the-grid and still survive?

– What if you think electrified bees produce bad honey?
– What if you have a dream of making honey, but not from sugar fed to you under fluorescent light. But from wild flowers and in the sunlight?
– What if there is this rule dictated in the hive that going off-the-grid is a sin. So if you do it, most bees would think of you as a lazy bee who doesn’t want to make its fair share of honey?
– What if you come to believe that the honey you make is really not honey?
– What if you come to believe that the honey you make is really not yours?
– What if you think the hive has a systematic leakage? And most of what you all make goes wasted?
– What if you come to understand that no one is responsible in this situation more than you. That the queen bee is in it together with all the rest?
– What if you think the hive is in a free fall off a tree, or rolling down from a hill, and sooner or later will hit the river?

Should you, if you can, get a little far from the craze if not completely off-the-grid, and still survive?
Or would you starve on the way to the flower garden?

Complex Crypto

I just thought of an algebraic suggestion to extend the domain of traditional money with the use of crypto currency.

How about we make a new currency: ComplexCoin! Its value would be like a combination of a major FIAT currency as the real value (💶) and a major crypto coin (👾) as the imaginary value. (Don’t get offended if you are a crypto enthusiast; There’s nothing more real about real numbers compared to the imaginary ones. Afterall these are concpets that mathematicians use to model and conomists can follow too.)

To use the ComplexCoin (i-Coin?) we need to make new pricing models in especial online or brick and mortar stores that sell stuff at complex prices. The pricing is stable because it shall be regulated to depend only on the complex cost of producing or acquiring the goods, and not the volatile exchange rate between the two types of currencies.

So if you have an A+Bi amount of cash in your bank account and you want to buy an item at the complex price of a+bi your account will be charged so you are left with (A-a)i+(B-b) i-Coins. As simple as that.

What matters is that the price of the goods are set by the manufacturer/distributer based only upon the complex cost of the items, all the way from mining and production to wholesale and retail.

This is meant to keep the rates more stable to help adopting cryptocurrencies in our daily lives, so it is important that at the event of purchase the exchange between the real and imaginary values shouldn’t be permitted. Of course people can in their digital bank accounts exchange between the two currencies if exchange rates are unstable.

For example, if an apple (🍎) cost a farmer 1£ and 1 Ripple they typically sell it to the wholesalers with a certain profit(say 100% would make it 2£ and 2Ripples). But even if 1 Ripple is 1£ at the time of purchase, the terminal can not charge 4£, or 4 Ripples, altough they are equal at the time of the transaction.

There can be exceptions where the terminals charges you one of the currencies when the buyer runs out of the other one, for the transaction to go through after prompting.

Also when a transaction fee is applied (purchasing abroad or cashing out at ATM), it can be charged not as a percentage of the magnitude (as it is already the case for our real-axis FIAT currencies), but instead as an angular rotation that will be profitable for the cash terminal, based on the current exchange rate between the two axes.

* * *

There may be a lot of problems and challanges for this to work obviously, but it was worth sharing. At worst, think of it as yet another coin, which creates its niche to stand out by the use of a mathematical concept instead of breeding kitties!

I just wonder if people are going to buy shares in a bank that issues this token, would that be an ICO? IPO? (i-CO or ICPO?)

My flight is taking off now and no Internet on-board this time. I shared my idea. Share your opinions here!