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.

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.

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?

Wanna Stay relevant? Redifine yourself

The Iranian Activists in Diaspora version.

When it comes to the citizen journalists who cover the Middle East, I admire most of the controversial posts of my Facebook friend Leila

[in Persian]

. Most of them because I think she is cherry-picking when it comes to the military aggression of the Iranian regime in the areas where they bring more tension.

Anyhow, she is constantly calling out on some Iranian political activists in exile, who in their opposition to the Iranian government and paid by the western media outlets or other mainstream organizations in the free world, strategically side with financial sanctions and military invasion against Iran or even go as far to covertly side with its enemies, the likes of ISIS.

 Lubomir Arsov
Lubomir Arsov

I don’t know about the accusations in this particular case. But want to draw attention to a situation we are facing here, which is financial:

Follow the money.

Activism and journalism hardly pays off, and even harder for immigrants with a different cultural background and a mother tongue other than that of the host country. And it is natural for people to survive doing what they have been doing for years if they don’t have an immediate access to another occupation. So I observe that there is an increasing population among the Iranian diaspora who even though started with an honest and genuine pro-democracy and pro-freedom cause, are now finding themselves increasingly struggling to stay relevant and are prone to be hijacked by malicious causes who want to optimize their profit by using them.

Of course a lot of things regarding the situation inside Iran has not changed and the struggle for freedom should always be valid, but as the game in the region changes the old paradigms expire, become ineffective or get worn out. Now imagine you are a political discident, a refugee, or an activist. And your very identity in the host country is being a political discident opposing an oppressive regime in the Middle East. What are your alternatives after paradigms shift?

Now that after nuclear negotiations, the failure of US/NATO policies in the whole region, from Iraq and Afghanistan to Syria and Libya and what not, you find yourself barking the wrong tree, what should you do? Jumping on a new train somehow? Stirring geopolitically to upgrade (which may be counter-productive)? Or switching to a new branch of job? Or should one choose to not survive instead?

It is a big problem, but it is not the problem of the public who have to consume the cultural products these genre makes.

* * *

From the volunteer human right activities during the past two decades, I have already accumulated a whole representative group of this profile as Facebook friends or I follow them on other social media. During the times of campaigning, collaboration or personal acquaintance we were united towards similar goals but time passed and things changed. So some chose one way of adaptation to another. And so as time went by those most rigid or most egoistic (if I may call them that way), diverged and came out clearly to took side with a different oppressive dominating force. Practically out of habit or financial ties.

I have become increasingly careful giving my trust help organizations or NGOs before studying their financial ties or seeing close to which think tanks their activities is coordinated. And I sense that there is an increasing number of corporate activists, corporate journalists, writers or even artists who functionally under the cover of a human right cause side with the authority and covertly justify military actions, defend US invasion or NATO’s aggression or at least financial sanctions against the countries in the Middle East or North Africa. This has started to emerge implicitly, and even explicitly and activists exhibit this in a whole range of human right causes from freedom of speech, anti-death-penalty, pro-democracy, women rights or LGBT rights. For obvious reasons, the only exceptions are environmental, anti-war or labor right activists.

So what these activists used to do for the benefit of their people, may now serve the opposite purpose. I can not even think of a particular person but I think in patterns. And nature always finds models to satisfy. So here is a test if you have been a pro-democracy activist:

Wherever you are, if you read this and secretly know this is your story there are a couple of signs and symptoms before things break out: You have a tribune from which you can freely condemn the dictatorships of ME but can not not speak up against carrier politicians in the West? Or even some of them because your very survival depends on this self-censorship? Then you are at least susceptible if not affected. Please be pro-active before it is late, reconsider and find new horizons to stay relevant, especially in connection with the host society.

But If you are affected, have you gone that far to join or help a tink tanks who promote wars or financial sanctions officially, not OK.

And since no descent human deserves to have in their social circle a corporate activist/journalist who works against the well-being of their homeland, I thank for your friendship already. But please remove me, before your track record start to indicate enough in few years to come and things start to look bad. I had to already remove few of such connections from Facebook or oppose/unfollow them elsewhere. They had crossed the boundaries. With the ever increasing role of finance in the politics, the current political climate, and the basic rule of “follow the money”, I predict there will be more over time. Feel free to take the upper hand!

The world is complex, geopolitics are dynamic, and an intelligent organism needs to adapt. In the case of us humans not only financially, but also to presevere their dignity.

On Culture

Here are listed a few quick notes, reminders and personal opinions about “culture” in its widest definition in evolutionary terms:

1. Culture is the most “human” factor:
Every group of folks who gather around something (a figure, an object or a set of values) tend to create culture. It’s the most definitive single element that separate us from other animals. True that we are language-speaking animals, thinking mammals or tool-making apes, but you can view all of these as stemming from our cultural abilities.

2. Culture evolves randomly like anything else:
Cultural equilibrium is shaped when cultural memes are transmitted long enough, among the members of a rather closed population, through social interaction and cooperation. Much of these memes are either random “mutations” at origin, or randomly fluctuate while being faultily copied by other individuals.

3. Culture is a glue:
Culture is important to us humans because it – in any of its forms – has been the glue that helped us scale up from tribes of hundreds to populations of up to hundreds of millions today. These present-day groups of people can be identified by race or ethnicity, religion, geography, occupation or social class, political party, etc. but they are actually functional clusters that can cooperate in-group while surviving in their embedding ecology. All these “super-organisms” have their own type of cultural glue; codes and mechanisms that bound them together to cooperate with each other within the same system and sustain an equilibrium.

4. Culture has phase transitions:
According to history this equilibrium collapses eventually and gives rise to bigger and stronger networks, rather suddenly than slowly. There are leaps and usually they end up finding a way to include even bigger populations, than previously possible.

5. Culture is relative:
It’s made-up. It doesn’t matter what components have made this glue as long as it can act as a glue. And a culture gets old when the glue that could connect hundreds (a stone or a tree) fails to gather thousands efficiently; they need language and law. And a local set of rules can’t unite a population of a size of a country. They need technology. Our today’s religions, political divides and classes have played their important role to unite populations previously but have failed to scale-up to take us to the whole humanity just yet.

6. Culture has synergy:
Every culture has emergent properties beyond the mindset of its individuals and even beyond the original values that created it at the first place. People wrongfully assume their individual tendencies (inclusion, care, good intentions) is also acted out by them collectively. It is not correct. A group of nice and kind-hearted people can act as savages collectively. In fact that is what’s happening today.

7. Culture is greedy:
One of the emergent properties of culture is greed. Every culture seeks for dominance. It is inevitable as memes and genes – information in general – tend to copy and only those who manage to propagate and adapt the best will survive the process.

8. We need a global culture:
Would have been an ideal if a moon-size stone or a super massive tree could unite all ten billion in 2050, but a system of global governance approved by all humans is needed, something that can operate on our still physiologically tribal brains and yet makes the next big scale-up to a planetary-level. And this global culture needs to be minimally recognized by all humanity, and thus pragmatically needs to have empathy for all of us.

9. “Culture is not your friend”:
It’s just a glue! At the end of the day, being embedded in a tribe, country, a global monetary economy, or a trillion size AI society around a Dyson Sphere, we are individuals. We are as different as we are similar. I doubt if we will eventually be organized with enough freedom from our cultures but it is more pleasant and satisfying to be groups of one that operates safely within a bigger community.

Science is a Random Walk

“Science is a random walk of accumulated literature.”

What do I mean by this compact claim is that the scientific code and its instrumentation evolve organically within an ecosystem of ideas and objects.

By scientific code I mean its language, terminologies and formulations, as well as their results and interpretations. And by its instrumentation I refer to the science-making technologies; tools and instruments.

The scientific code in its evolving journey is profoundly sensitive to its initial states as well as randomness along the way. Random elements of all kinds such as mistakes and accidents, cultural bias, geographic self-reinforcement among the scientists, charisma, manipulation by power and even the order of discoveries. All of these factors have potential to deviate scientific claims to drastically different directions.

We are limited beings trapped in a narrow set of interpretations that we call reality and therefore we are not using our imagination as much as we can to realize how things could have been otherwise. More interesting, useful, truthful alternatives do not get the chance to be seen or discussed in the dictatorship of the scientific enterprise. And scientists are behaving very politely with a fear of being abandoned, excluded or fallen in the blacklist of pseudo-sciences determined by the dominant story. And things doesn’t have to be this way.

Now speaking of the chaotic self-organized nature of the scientific random-walk, we would like to believe that there is an objective truth out there that functions as an external field and leads the scientific endeavor to get closer and closer to an “attractor” of the ultimate truth, neutralizing the effect of its random fluctuations.

This is not obvious.

How do we know that we are dealing with a controlled random walk, that there is an attractor? There may be many attractors. There may be none. There may be infinitely many with a different cardinality even. If we are destined to one thing is that we belive in destinty. And we think of science as having a destiny too. This may be an unwritten assumption but widely accepted that there’s a naturally truthful science. It may be randomly deviating people admit, but it is moving towards the attractor of the holy truth. In my experience the common claim is that not only that truth exists, we are also approaching it rather effectively. And so how can you even dare to argue over this when you are wittnessing the fantastic discoveries and the ground breaking achievements of science?

I am not unfamiliar with this world-view and can comprehend their logic, but have a completely different idea. I am saying that the myth of a naturally truthful science should be debated because it undermines the profound chaotic nature of the evolution of the scientific code and its instrumentatlity. It should be questioned because it ignores how fundamentally trapped we are in our cognitive tunnel and left alone with a very narrow and specific set of wide-spread stories that we have made about the reality.

And let’s say that the attractor of reality does exist in a sense, and that we humans are getting there because we have launched an honest journey with a solid plan. Even if so, I think without bringing up discussions like this post, such a goal is unattainable and navigating towards such a truth is impossible. We can not be sure we are on the right path, let alone the only path, if we suppress any effort to overcome our blindspots, simply because we don’t see them.

So this is what I summarize in the compact claim that science is not about the truth. Science is about the instrumental growth of the human ape, developed and expanded collectively and in a deep sense accidentally. Science is developped with the help of the limited capacities of our brain and its selfish interaction with the environment, ultimately for the sake of survival. We are fundamentally trapped in this thinking organ and besides that we do not try to keep in focus what our hard-wired biases are, as much as we should. We don’t even ask simpler questions such as how our cultural biases shape the way we think often enough. The answers can be sometimes really surprising if we dare to digg into this.

While it is still a meaningful topic to question for example how science would look like for some alien intelligent life form, I will not go that far here. I am claiming that even with the very same structure of the human brain, in a parallel version of our – let’s say – post-agricultural civilization, branched out as late as five thousand years ago and formed with a different throws of dice, the scientific code could have looked very very differently. And at this point only imagination can speculate on this important question about “how else” things could have looked like in an alternative human society. Let’s just specualte a bit. This is pure contemplation:

I think we may not have come up with Newtonian mechanics and then two theories of relativity later on, very unlikely. Instead we could have had things in between or completely different models that would still work. For example with a whole new set of definitions angular momentum did not necessarily have to imply rotation and who knows may be not a single scientist of that parallel world would have even heard of the analogy that some particles rotate around others similar to our planetary system. Imagine the possibility that Einstein’s idea of spacetime was thrown earlier than anything like Newtonian mechanics, simply on a different food diet or given another set of conflicts, power shifts and revolutions.

Imagine Which parts of Algebra would look different beyond its symbolic representation. And then to explain our cosmos how would we expect more complex formulations – such as string theory – to have formed similarly out of a completely different context? The whole axiomatization of our mathematics and how it would state its open problems could look different. It stil can. My personal hope is that it could look more fractal, and more transcendental in a sense. Or not. But we may have not had the Euclidean dominance on our early geometries, the following Cartesian coordinates and thus the use of complex numbers in some form of electronics or any technologies that would give us functionalities similar to smartphones or chip implants. Instead remarkably different tools and languages would serve a similar purpose.

The most solid pillars of our sciences shake if we think in these terms. Even the idea of evolution itself which is the support story behind this post could be told differently. Darwinism and Lamarckism wouldn’t be exposed as distinct theories with a form of epigenetics as their compromise. Other good functioning legends could be told with a different order of discoveries and their marketing.

Well, and on the other hand some core ideas and theories could have been told similarly. And it is not quite impossible to contemplate and guess which of them. It’s very difficult to place a bet for me here but I think we would still have numbers in a sense, and mathematical constants. We would somehow know the families of π and e. We would have had telecommunication and eventually at some point we would sequence our genes and hack ourselves to the next level.

What would remain intact and what would change? This is an important question for all sciences and we do have the tools and resources to make a move towards some answers these days. It’s not necessarily expensive in terms of research fund nor environmental footprint to get on to this. Imagine we live in a world when a comprehensive digitized copy of our scholarly literature is publicly available with all sorts of accessible algorithms. We can now supervise machines to evaluate a whole body of the scientific literature in a matter of days if not shorter. Machines can now reveal contradictions and fallacies in proofs and arguments, detect and neutralize the marketing bias in scientific work to extract the quality, detect and promote ignored nobel ideas and bring up the missed gems, deconstruct existing notions to come up with new ideas, and simulate the future of the whole science itself in multiparallel versions.

None of rhis is any longer farfetched. For those of you who love brands and abbreviations, I came across SSK and SSI, one in many posssible projects of meta-science in this regard. They stand for sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK) and its complementory, sociology of scientific ignorance (SSI). The maturity of these projects were the dream of philosophers such as Fayerabend and Kuhn long before the age of Big Data. That idea didn’t take off and was suppressed by other dominant codes which could make more money and thus stood the selection pressures of the scientific enterprise better, to address its demends.

Fair! They were too vague and not regirous enough. And they were not affordable at the time. Our processing power is now millions of times bigger and the immediate availability of pretty much every important scientific idea that have been created is not a dream anymore. So we can get on to such a project again.

And those of you who love stories about AI take over, would agree that if we don’t do this, at some points machines will go ahead and do it for us; or for themselves. This one is not a new story anymore, since we have probably read a piece of fiction journalism on a similar idea lately. So, crazy ideas don’t seem that farfetched when they are repeated enough or endorsed by the public.

Science is an amazing achievement and the fact that its pioneers have constantly used it to transcend itself with new paradigms, ideas and breakthroughs is simply beautiful.

Science deserves to be better than an idiocracy. While, despite its core values of a truthful struggle, like other human achievements that have become old enough in a rigid framework, it seems attracted in to that direction now. People who rightfully claim that science is white or masculine are only scratching the surface.

If you love science, care about it. Try to see its fundamental limits and so transcend it. You may still call it science and I won’t argue over terms. I think it will still not be about finding the truth; however, it is a neater struggle to serve such a purpose.

P.S. I am not viewing this post as a truthful post, either. This is just a code. It’s a rather unconventional idea in the sphere of ideas out there. Your human brains recieve it; some relate to it and some object. The process of understanding something is a set of biochemical algorithms; Logic and reasoning have that shady characteristic in common with emotions and feelings. This is why there is so much disagreement out there in the world. It’s not that people are almost always wrong. It’s because folks are different and the evolution of their worldviews take totally different pathways and so different things make sense to them based on their previous experience and knowledge. From these many ideas out there some of them get lucky enough to survive, take over and dominate for a period but it is not necessarily an indicator of their truthful. Truth may be non-monotonic in a very deep sense. It is alarming when we realize that even if the external field of reality or the attractor of truth had not existed, we would still assume them. And what I have said here has been said before in different tones and terminologies. The scientific climate has not been so friendly to those ideas and they have not got enough exposure or resources. All instances of similar claims that I managed to find have faded out due to what I think as a form of early exposure. This post is not about the truth either. You can view it as a mutation that I would like to promote. This time around it may take off somewhere around here.

Science and Truth

Science is not about the truth. It’s about our instrumental growth.

It’s a human specific language for the short-term dominance of this very species; a subjective and relative cultural viewpoint; a man-made phenomenon not only sensitive to geography and demography of its producers, but fundamentally relying on our specific physiological features.

Science is a random walk of accumulated literature largely indifferent to the reality; a set of self-reinforced terminologies that has hypnotised our collective mind.

Science is one in many possibilities that turned out to be the dominant widespread culture of our time due to a series of thrown dice with similar dynamics to rock pigeons colonizing the urban landscape worldwide.

So if you take all of it too seriously you may as well think of a pterodactyl as the superior form of a flying object; the shape of a moldy bread as the ultimate manifestation of “truth”, or the last check-mate snapshot of a mediocre chess game as the final capacity of a chess board.

Technology and the Substantiality of Experience

Melvin Sokolsky - from the bubble series
Melvin Sokolsky – from the bubble series

Technology is a great thing [for us humans], but it has a negative aspect not many talk about.

It deprives us from feeling the “real experience” in accordance to how we are biologically wired. Technology builds a protective bubble around the human body that however takes care of a lot of challenges for us, leaves us peculiarly unchallanged inside. And to elaborate a bit more on the “challange of unchallended”, it unemploys and unsues the sensorimotor circuitry in our pre-historic brains. And since we percieve happiness more directly inside our brains than on the surface of our skin or outside our bodies, this can be enough to spoil a good deal of fun for us.

In many cases technology offers the same functionality for our survival needs, but with less substance. Same outcome, less work for it. But what if “working for it” was a part of the satisfaction, that was planted in us by evolution to keep us motivated to persue tasks vital for our survival?

The main reason we have brains is sensorimotor circuitry. Some researchers claim it is the only reason. As organisms we need to act upon the world for our survival (the motor system) and in order to do that correctly we need to sense it by a sensory system. So the motor act is the primary goal and the sensory is secondary; it is needed only for the motor act to be decided correctly. Nature doesn’t care if you observe the details of the environment perfectly. Your gene code is passed on if you survive.

Now the technology sits in the way by enhancing the sensory channel and empowering the motor act. It eases the deeply emotional process of decision making, and by doing so leaves those circuitry unused and unemployed. But hasn this not made us unhappy? I used to think that technology enhances feelings and emotions since it assists and magnifies the sensory channel but at our core we are not passive sensors. We are active performers of our lives and spoiled in the comfort of our civilization we have truly lost our natural reference of comparison to our bodily similar ancestors. Lots of process that used to happen in our brains now takes place outside our bodies. Most of the signals that we used to constantly process and handle for survival does not reach the surface of our skins or don’t come even close to us. People go to the nature or gym, try extreme sports or play video games to experience those situations and trigger those condditions; It is a retro movement.

We have all heard modern-time complains about how people nowadays use digital messages instead of real ink on paper postcards, navigate the reality with GPS, and now get dates from apps without holding face-to-face conversations. The outcome is the same; conveying the message, mating or reprodution, or getting to a destination. But something is missing during the process.

Now, this familiar contemporary observations may be worrisome, but it is nothing new.

The technological dumb-down of mankind even if admitted is usually associated to the modern times. This seems to be a new trend in a couple of generations, if we take our own norms and typical lifestyles as the ultimate base for the real experience. Much of “the real experience” had already been taken away from us and before that from our ancestors for dozens of millenia:

* People express worry these days that driving skills, the real experience of navigating the roads is going to fade away with self-driving cars. But do we remember how horse riding felt before cars? Or did our horse-rider ancestors know what they were missing not to hunt an animal while running after it, barefoot?

* Spending too much time in the digital conversations and dealing with only letters and emojis makes us deaf to the intonations of the spoken language. The ability to grasp the meanings conveyed in the rise and fall of the pitch and loudness of the speech needs to be practiced. But was it not the verbal language itself that provided a parallel channel of communication and made us blind to the previous forms of communication, such as reading of emtions from facial expressions? How often do we even try to read each other’s eyes nowadays? In such intuitive social skills that were vital for tribal survival, our illiterate ancestors were more intelligent than us.

* Youth nowadays get dates for their digital profiles sometimes without composing a sentence, or having to make a face-to-face charm. An Irish man in Trondheim told me once “There was a time that people couldn’t hide behind dating profiles. You had to show up in person in real places and talk to real people and prove yourself”. As if a bar is a gladiator arena, or the spoken language itself, just like dating profiles, is not used for people to hide behind. This complain is sound but to me sounds like we would complain to our grand children: “There was a time that you couldn’t just telepathically go through a hundred thousand profiles with the chip in your brain to get a mutual date. You actually had to open an app, a real app! And had to go through profiles one by one. And you had to chat with them, for real. Like composing sentences word by word to make a connection. And then there was still a high chance that they wouldn’t match you because it was not pre-calculated!”

Much of our sensorimotor circuits are inactive since their function is outsourced to the technology. And I think that comes in an order. First the motor act, the outcome of the whole process gets outsourced and inactive, since the machinary around us does it on our behalf. Then there’s no longer need for the sensory part and so that part gets dull and dormant too.

Your worry may be right. The new generation gets spoiled by the new technology and loses the real feel of an experience. They are handed in something as functional but less sensational; less powerful, engaging, and real. Just like we were.

We know it, by comparison.
Our parents knew it, by comparison.
Their parents knew it, …

It’s been fifty thousand years folks!

Illuminati is us!

I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. Quite the contrary, I believe in accident, in self-organization. If I sound like advocating any form of conscious conspiracy I have failed to communicate my message. So here is the disclaimer:

In the absence of enough evidence, I refuse to believe that a secret society made of few individuals have succeeded to gain control over the rest of mankind, and with a plot so seamless that no body could get any direct evidence of.

I am not however saying that the effect is not there. I just argue that tracing the cascade of causes and reducing the root cause of an effect to a bunch of folks around a table sounds a naive explanation to me. Though if we want to believe in something like that, sure we will manage to fish for enough false positives from the pool of complex world around us to support any theory. But indicators are not always proofs and imposing non-existing patterns upon the reality is a human talent. Just like designing a crosswords puzzle, search for pieces of evidence and put them together and create the pattern you are willing to see or believe in.

So if a conspiracy theory wants to pass the test of time it should be convincing that randomness is not the root cause of a spotted pattern, and thus some intelligent design, albeit of human nature must have caused the observed effect. In that sense many of popular conspiracy claims deem quite unlikely when considering the difficulty of not only doing the impossible, to execute, predict and control a chaotic system such as the modern human society, but to not leaving a single trace behind.

So the good news is that the all-powerful secret lizard people well-organized to harm us are for the most a product of our imagination, but sorry to be the bearer of the bad news:

Even the purest and most innocent intentions can collectively cause purposeful evil outcomes.

The Sandpile experiment

There is a simple physical experiment during which grains of sands are dropped one at a time on a conical pile of sands and as a result once in a while there is a sudden avalanche. It was a Danish experiment in the 80s and was replicated by Norwegians on piles of rice in the 90s. These are the first physical experiments to demonstrate a phenomenon called “self-organized criticality” which is an “emergent property” of a complex system:

“Emergence: The larger entities that arise through interactions among smaller entities can show properties the smaller entities do not exhibit.”

The occurrence of an avalanche is an emergent property for the sand pile. it is extremely unpredictable to the local sand grains and also to the experimenter. But metaphorically speaking, if you could ask the local sands somewhere in the pile, what they would make out of their experience of an avalanche or its cause, they could probably blame few sands somewhere on top of the hierarchy. In fact no single grain of sand has control over the behavior of the whole pile. Even the experimenter who is God-like to the grains by having the whole picture fails to predict when and how the next avalanche will take place.

We humans are the sands in a complex sand pile, our civilization. Based on our limited view of the local neighborhood we tend to believe that there must be a designer behind every human phenomenon around us. We tend to connect big events such as wars, revolutions, scientific discoveries and historical breakthroughs to certain leaders or public figures. Such good simplified stories makes sense to our little monkey brains, cause we can never get even close to comprehend the complexity or the nature of such phenomena. Our civilization is much more collective than it is portrayed in the narratives of history books or newspapers.

When an unpredictable social or political event of a large magnitude – and usually a negative one – takes place, sometimes even if it had a natural cause such as an earthquake, our tribal brains still tend to point the finger at other humans; If we didn’t see a war, epidemic or a revolution to come, somewhere out there has to be someone who knew about it.

But things don’t have to be explained that way. Political events are the collective behavior of our actions, but since we can’t comprehend the details, we tend to believe that there should be minds, and indeed minds of our own type, behind them all. There should be an intelligent designer with some form of team work behavior behind them, like a scrum master!

The conclusion is that secret organized societies with God-like predictive power and flawless control do not have to be the explanation for the political or societal evil that we face. Illuminati doesn’t exist in that naive sense.

Except that it actually does! And I tell you, it is in fact me, it’s you, and is all of us combined. Illuminati is our emergent property.

What made us different from other animals?

We are the building blocks of a complex partly hierarchical society and we have achieved the current state of our civilization due to two sets of factors that separated us from other animals: Individual and collective. Collectively the advent of language and the power of communications which helped us with preserving our knowledge and building up a system of advanced tools by simpler tools. And individually due to the power of our thinking organ; the human brain. None of these two had to be extraordinarily different from other animals, but combined they passed a critical treshhold that redefined our nature and turned us to something entirely different, in such a short time.

In the past fifty thousand years we have transformed our lives from an animal in a tribe to interconnected socioeconomic beings embedded in an advanced technological society. Respectively the size of a human network has grown from hundreds to the size of the global economy with some 6 degrees of magnitude scale up. Meanwhile, our brains has not changed much and we have arguably even become slightly dumber. Our brains, including the brains of our powerful decision makers, celebrities and politicians with a broad range of influence, is still tribal. This organ grew from 0.5 to 1.5 kg from three million years ago to some fifty thousand years ago, so two third of that brain, one kilogram is tribal stuff! Our bodies and brains have not changed much since then, but our collective environment has, drastically. We tend to think that we do things for truth and reason, though we only do what we do for one reason: survival.

The red button

Back in the tribal times the “red button” did not exist. Symbolically put, if Adam and Eve would push a button, at most a fruit would fall off a tree. Now there are buttons around us that if we push we could somewhat blow up things out of your sight; lives can be affected by a minor task of us. Now we can simply make changes by pushing a like button, ordering an item from a restaurant menu, buying a share from stock market, or deploying a code.

We do it all for the sake of our survival, indeed with our kindness and affection towards our local tribe. The people for which we naturally have capacity to care, are only a couple of hundred people who are around us, socially or geographically. We can never affectively reach out to seven billion people out there, and not in fact to zillions of animals and beings. Nature has simply not given us the empathic tools to do so. Despite that, in order to increase the power of our influence, we have redefined our environment and hacked the natural resources around us. Just like any other animal we do it for our survival with disregard to other beings. The difference is though we do it beyond our natural habit, systematically and  technologically.

This already started from the first man who made a tool; the manifestation of grabbing and touching an object, using it, and leaving it NOT unchanged. Animals don’t do that. They either eat or kill the thing and destroy it permanently, or they let it be. We grabbed things around us with our hands and left them changed, still in our service. We made the first tools and then tools made more tools and that escalated. And well with an ultimate disregard to the nature and things that we touched, or things that we touched touched, we set up this advanced system. And now the complexity has reached a level that the mentioned disregard may come back to ourselves.

We tend to put our animalistic tribal behavior in a divine and holistic light. We are proud that we have made judiciary systems and rules, democracies and beurrocracies, technologies and computational systems to be soft and civilized and avoid the downsides of our wild tribal behavior. But are we still not let by apes like ourselves? Is the wild animalistic behavior limited to third world dictatorships and underdeveloped tyrannies, or to the ancient kings and emperors?

Now check this out. Apes and ravens are extremely social animals. As a group they sometimes team up to attack an isolated victim who did not play with the rules or to project a group failure onto that individual. When you see that for example 160 republicans (about the natural size of a human tribe) in a group act stop supporting Donald Trump, do you expect some of them to be brave enough and admit that this was not a calculated act independent from the truth of Donald Trump, and that was simply a tribal act of mimicking a group to conform? When you see such an animalistic behavior in such high levels or power hierarchy, do you really need to believe in conspiracy theories to explain evil? Let us not our problems on to the political parties or even broadly politicians. These are normal people like me and you. This is not about political parties or the individuals. It is about all of us and how rapidly and blindly we scaled up. This is what Hannah Arendt argues introducing the term “The Banality of Evil”.

Scaling up the human power to influence, without scaling its control mechanism (empathy) accordingly has been going on in waves since the prehistoric times and in each round the wave collapsed and taught us a new lesson on how to scale. Ever since we united in bigger groups than a tribe, an external force was required, after a collapse, to teach us how to scale in numbers while being in peace with each other. Depending on the size of the human populations we learned that we need to synchronize with music or stone idols, we need to invent language or religion, and that we need to set rules, judiciary systems and bureaucracies. The problem with our age is that we have never experienced the connectivity to this level, ever before. This is historically is not a good sign cause we don’t know what kind of collapse we will get after this and sadly it does not seem that predicting a collapse is enough to take measures to stop it. We need to see it with our eyes to reverse some of the aggressive and self-destructive aspects of our scaling.

Getting connected from a tribal to a global level, from a couple of hundreds to a few billions, is in fact a scale-up of a 7 to 8 orders of magnitude. Yet our amygdala has remained the same size as a hundred thousand years ago. What do we expect from such dynamics except for a catastrophic apocalypse? How can we theoretically see any other sustainable horizon in the near future when the scale-up is still going on and no one is trying to adjust it or advance it a bit more mindfully?

You see, you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist or a fatalist to warn others that The Doomsday’s Clock might be ticking. You don’t need to spot and blame some conscious master minds or group for every disaster that comes along our way. The evil is not always one of us. It is bigger than us. It is our emergent property.

To put it intuitively, this video sums up the politics of our era. One doesn’t need to know more than this about politics: Scaling up the human power to influence, without scaling its control mechanism, empathy, accordingly.

We are not completely helpless though. There are solutions ahead of us. We can in fact take advantage of our destructive connectivity and design a data-driven system for functional empathy to avoid its collapse. This is not what we are doing. Nothing but a “technological self-consciousness” (interpret it in anyway you wish) can possibly save us from an exponential over-exhaustion of our limited resources and an apocalyptic breakdown.

Should we do something about that, or should we let the system collapse and wait for a new order to rise from its ashes? What’s right to do?

Revolution or Reform?

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Imagine this hypothetical landscape: You live in 2300. Humanity is still around and somehow through calculated global programs, colonizing mars or deadly wars has reduced its earth population from ten down to three billion already. And has fixed it there. The earth is tolerably warm but sustained.

Politics:

Countries are provinces of the world federal government and they have different state rules to practice their local cultural differences.
Different races campaign politically to defend the continuation of their gene traits and complaining about the others reproducing more than regulated.
The word “freedom” has mixed meanings and is used with the word “from” not to be misunderstood.

Economy:

There is no centralized money and even digital currency is just a hidden layer of the world economy that some expert may still look at.
People use public services more than their private properties, however that’s a cultural thing; Everyone is given a minimum of private ownership by birth, and several times during their life span. People can lose their private stuff accidentally or choose to donate it at will, however the world welfare system may restore it for them.

There is a notion of money, but that is negative (like debt) which is calculated by an individual’s cost of living such as their footprint as long as it is calculably affected by their personal choices.
Therefore there is no money. There is fine.

Business:

Growth of companies are limited through regulating their shareholder’s wealth. New-capitalism is practiced safely.
Work is constitutional right but voluntary and companies act more like temporary social games shaped by entrepreneurs and closed and cashed out once they serve their purpose. Land and land resources, infrastructure, utilities, transport and media belong to the public and can not be bought by companies or other legal entities by the world constitution.

Every citizen is granted an equivalent of some work/office space and work equipment after a certain age. They can use the equivalent of their office space for individual business or they can exchange it with an equivalent of that when they get a job or build a company.
Education is too a constitutional right and voluntary. People get educated to fit the available work opportunities. Public education is accessible globally and private education is the service that educational companies serve.

Democracy:

Terms above are regulated by the world federal government, which is a distributed post-digital consensus system on the Internet. Democracy is not a hard-coded system and is a complicated structure for collective decision making by humans (and partly even by pets and rightful animals). It senses and collects data from different levels of humans’ lives and aggregate it organically to sense what people want (implicit voting) and thus regulates the society democratically. It’s optimisation will be focused on human’s psychological level and it’s well being. Feeling good is a constitutional right. Citizens get notified about the important updates of their local or federal rules depending on importance and relevance to their lives, and can always overwrite their predicted vote or temporarily exit the decision-making networks voluntarily. Politicians, lawyers and developers aid the machine. General assemblies are held by politicians who are themselves through the machine. Newer versions of democracies are be deployed. All citizens of the world have constitutional right to access the overall simulations and predictions that the system provide based upon the latest rules. Cultural differences will be shaped by local rules decided by the local people at the time. Climate, genetic differences and culture will self-organise the world to a peaceful multicultural equilibrium.

Legal system:

Over-scaling is a unified crime. Occupying other’s territories, violence, killing of rightful beings, exceeding the individual footprint limit, are all forms of over-scaling and will be fined by custody or private property depending on the degree of crime. People scale for sport in the virtual world.

Celebrities:

Plato, Darwin and Mandelbrot are more famous than Einstein. Few nerds know Obama. No body knows Kanye West. But there’s this terrible dancing monkey all over the fucking virtual world.

Other species:

People talk to pets through chips and devices. Eating animals (and humans!) is highly regulated and lab-grown meat (and a lot of other lab food) has taken off. People consume them according to their fashion, taste and lifestyle.

Animals or humans are not being slaughtered in the real world unless there is a legal warrant or a specific type of digital authorization signed for it. Of course people (and pets) still cheat when you don’t see them, but machines watch, warn and stop the cheaters who kill “rightful animals” illegally. There are debates around the definition of that term. Say there is a list including mammals and big land animals. There are debates and protests to include or exclude a certain species.

In Spain (or north Africa?) they still chase bulls in a safer and non-fatal form of bullfighting. And those who love fishing have to go to, let’s say china, because it’s still legal there.

Parenthood:

There are still families, although people are free to live in different social settings and move on to new groups. This will be reinforced by cultural differences in each region and the cultural differences will be maintained.

Psychology:

People take things for granted. They are civilized and they behave but they can easily get depressed and die a fragile life if they get isolated. It’s called “laziside”.
People have become even lazier than us in a sense that they have outsourced their surviving “actions” to the technology and thus they have also outsourced many of their “sensations” because keeping them is not crucial. Shortly, many sensorimotor functions of the brain are practically outsourced to the machines and that’s worrisome due to the depression and numbness that it creates.

Sport:

For the reason mentioned above, “nature gyms” are all around and somewhat mandatory to train people to practice their sensations in the absence of some practical technologies. Professional sports have become intellectual. People compete over their “nature gym” skills by using their physical, social and cognitive skills to show off that they are best. There are cognitive games in the “nature gyms” where people look into each other’s eyes to read feelings and stuff like that. Sex comes to sport with different forms of convertors.

Architecture:

Nature and civilization are mixed up technologically. Buildings breathe and cities are self-sustained. Rooms rotate and change size and adapt with the light conditions democratically by the wishes of people in them.

The list goes on.

A future landscape that is missing a lot of unimaginable technological advances or their cultural artefacts. Just one in a zillion possibilities. Just fantasize and expand it on your own vision.

Then, question:

Is it fun? Should we start talking about a scenery like this? If yes, should we discuss how we should act accordingly to move towards something like this? And not further away from it? Should we wait till machines do it for us?

Or should we – really painfully – go extinct?