Simulated reality

Simulated reality

Elon Musk among others brings some meta-statistical argument to show that we are more likely to be in a simulation than not; that we are most definitely not flesh, but words made flesh.

I don’t know how we can take someone’s word seriously, whose self is just an avatar in a simulation. That someone want to colonize Mars merely does not give more validity to their words, especially when they’re themselves made of words!

So what he is popularizing is given credit to the philosophers Nick Bostrom (2003) and Hans Moravec (1998) earlier. And I have found modern instances as old as Alan Watts (1972) expressing the same argument (here as the first fantasy out of three).

Transcending yourself, your simulators and theirs!

Whoever said it first, what matters is who did it first!

Saying that our bodies are not hardware and is instead of the sort of information/software is probably an unfalsifiable claim. It is like placing an object next to its meta level of existence and yet comparing them as two similar things. It is paradoxical like Russel’s antinomy that deals with a type of whether a set can be a member of itself or not. And in my opinion is as valid as saint Anselm of Canterbury’s ontological argument to prove God, brought a thousand years ago.

But well, if we are in a simulation and we can one day prove it, then we have understood things about those who programmed us. So why not continuing to extrapolate the transcendental cascade to know things about those who programmed them? And may be even hinting our simulators that they may be in a simulation too, and in what kind of simulation even.

Maybe that’s why they simulated us…

How to find out? With a simulation may be. Like program something that could tell us what’s going on beyond us and here’s the catch: beyond our creators and also their simulator!

A cascade of interventionist Gods

Now a deeper philosophical question is not whether we are in a simulation. As it can be interpreted differently based upon the definition of the God/simulator and is an unfalsifiable claim, a matter of faith. The more interesting question is, assuming that we are in a form of a simulation, is our creator an interventionist e onor not! i.e. Whether we are in a supervised simulation that changes sometimes based on how we act (are there miracles?), or alternatively we are just given a bunch of rigid rules and then left alone to compute.

Which itself boils down to whether our simulators are supervised by their intervening God or not.

If our creators are interventionist, how about their Gods? An interventionist God may be beyond us and so appear to us as having free will but for those who made that creature, itself could only be a type of abandoned code left to go down its own path. That cascade logically never ends.

Simulation depth

Opening this discussion, there can be follow-up questions:

What kind of simulation are we in? What are its boundaries and limits compared to our regular man-made type of simulations? Are we in a familiar type of simulation; say a huge multi-threaded discrete finite algorithm? Or could it be fundamentally more complex than our currently familiar notion of algorithmic computation, a simulating program?

If we are role playing in a discrete and finite type of computation, then a full history of space-time can be given in a humongous binary file or technically a large integer on the tape of a Turing machine. And then we are some chunks of information on it; enumerable combination of finite symbols rendered locally or globally frame by frame, discretely in time (basic notions known in complexity of computation).

And in that scenario, will that universal machine even differs if a tree falls in a forest but no one is around to hear it? Will there be a sound calculated when there’s no ear? Or is it more likely (and efficient) for that simulation to go only as far as the observer goes?

The square root

“Today at work there was an occasion that I had to take the square root of the country’s population. Now if the immigrants here, who are rude and blunt just like me and come from populous countries, hear you talking about the square root of Norway or Sweden they’d object and comment: “How big is an ant that you even wanna make a stue out of it”. Some others may also object and argue that you can’t take square root out of three dimensional people, cause you get one and a half dimensions, something between a line and a plane. You don’t even know what that result is let alone it be something useful or not. In all these regards I remember I had touched upon an example here earlier. And so I’ll explain for you whether such an operation is possible or not. You may already know that for each alive orangutan on earth there’s roughy one bonobo, two gorillas, three chimps and a hundred and seventy thousand humans on earth. This means that the population of orangutans, bonobos even reportedly gorillas is less then the square root of the seven billion population of us humans. In other words, our population is bigger than the square of their population. Now this can be put in perspective in a thousand ways. For example you can try to arrange the whole mankind in a military morning ceremony and then give an extra row to orangutans. You see you will lack orangutans to fill that row. But here I will try to illustrate it for you even better: Imagine you are on vacation in some Bali islands. You are walking around till a huge coconut grabs your attention. You approach the coconut but all of a sudden an ugly rude baby orangutan bothers you that hey, what the fuck you’re doing here! You don’t wanna chicken out and confront back but the family turn up. And more and more orangutans appear out of the blue. They even call Indonesia and bring more to support. Anyhow all of them even from zoos around the world mobilise to a historic battle with you, alone! You alone and 40,000 orangutans; such an unfair insult and all of it over a coconut, which we all know was just a poor excuse. Your patient is over and you attack them back. Just like Kill Bill no matter how many you kill, there’s more of them attacking you. So inhuman and unfair! Let’s it’s a lucky day and finally you manage to scape. You complain to your parents and they get furious and go to the principal of the world in the white house and the UN. The case is out of your hand and Uncle Trump promises your parents that he will follow this case in person. After all he gives a supreme Jihad command to the mankind to head to Indonesia all together! Well, Indonesia, many are already there, but the rest join too… To revenge the unjust act of the silly orangutans. Some quick math. From 7 billion humans we grant military exemption to the women like most countries do, we are left with 3.5 billion. There’s a billion boys under 18 out there that together with the elderly and the disabled make up to 1.5 billion people. You see we have 2 billion soldiers left and even if we send them all empty-handed to Indonesia there will still be 50,000 humans per each of those orangutans that had assaulted you. Still more than their 40,000 total army. There’s a little difference here though. Now they can’t even escape and nag to their parents like you did, as mom and dad and the granny and the baby orangutans all and all are busy in the middle of the battle field, just like the movie 300. You see, with such a brilliant idea, Trump not only finished off the assaulting orangutans, but also showed every single one of them how unfair and unjust it was, what they did to you; Just like the judgement day. Well, this example shows that bonobos, orangutans and such apes are less populous than the square root of the children of Adam and Eve. So, yes, next time you get stuck with the calculations and wondered how to take a square root of a population, this is a way to go!”Hiroshima

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.

Ripple or break?

Faro, Portugal - September 2016

I learned at the coastline of Faro by the Atlantic Ocean, that wind waves show two very distinct patterns. They all attack similarly but decay in two different forms: ripple or breakage.

Most distinguishable waves ripple back smoothly. They come, have their time and leave peacefully just like cultural hypes or music genres.

Some of them on the other hand crash before hitting the shore. Then there’s chaos and bubbles, like wars and revolutions, strokes and backlashes.

I think the term “wave breakage” describes a variety of phenomena of over-exhaustion. It suits financial crises better than the “bubble burst” analogy. It describes a political counter-reaction better than the term “backlash”.

“A breaking wave is one whose base can no longer support its top, causing it to collapse…”

Nature works in beats and pulses at all scales; evolution and extinction of species, rise and fall of empires, boost and decline of cultures. Ocean waves manifest similar dynamics visually; They come, leave their mark and go back in one way or the other. 🌊

Riding the wave of humanity, we will have to go back too. That is inevitable. But will our wave ripple back peacefully? Or will it break down?

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.

Capitalism, Space and Time!

Or Borrowing from far and future.

I had no major problem with capitalism until I realized how the beast actually works. I don’t share destructive non-libertarian views of communism or the world views of the abrahamic religions and Islam in particular. All of these dangerous ideas have a viral code for dominance and that is exactly why they have been dominating large parts of the world.

Now what I see about capitalism is frightening me even more than its key rival ideologies. And that is its simple code:

Capitalism does not deliver its massive value out of thin air. It largely borrows it from far in space and time.

And these two problems are one.

Far in space could be wherever it outsources the suffering to make a little local joy. Whether it be ethnic conflicts, African mines, animal farms, species in the oceans or cheap child labor economies, such blind treatment of these resources by the capitalistic machine is prone to overexhaustion. And this will mean that what’s far comes closer and closer. You see it has already sneaked in to our safe bubbles and we should get the message.

And what far in time means? Future. That too gets closer and closer. I think we all agree on that. So what can stop us from facing a deserted earth full of angry human apes killing each other?

Nothing. Literally nothing. No reform, no software upgrade nothing but the shut down of the machine at least with the current model.

This choice is inevitable, or else this greedy machinary will shut itself down but only after destroying all of us together.

Economics is not Science

Loved this video:

At the very least neoclassical economics is not science. It’s an elitist made-up language based on fake concepts such as supply and demand to maximize fabricated quantities in order to exhaust the nature and abuse the people.

Its higly prestigious Chicago school with their fraud models of trade and their deceptive political byproduct, neoliberalism, is responsible for much of the blind destruction of the environment and the uncalculated harms to our societies and nature.

Their influential *thinkers* and theorists are responsible and must be held accountable for bringing humanity to the disaster that it is facing now.

And the most recognized awards and medals of honor should not go to those short-sighted charlatans. They should actually go to the people who can possibly figure out how to reverse this legacy; how to take us out of the deep trouble caused by those prominent neoliberal economists. After forty years or so it is time to make a U-turn away from the policies advocated by  Milton Friedman and his fellow politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. Even so the consequences of their disastrous ideas are yet to hit us.

“Conventional economics is a form of brain damage.”

Alter your language domain. Don’t be deceived by the illusions created by con artists. Stay real!

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?

Blindspot Dilemma

“We are blind to our blindspots.”

Does this quotation have a name? I couldn’t find, but let’s call it the “blindspot dilemma”.

Blind2
The image copyright: George Redhawk, an actually blind artist.

From the view point of dominant scientific paradigms [and in fact several of them] this statement amounts to bullshit!

When you mention it and you start to expand on it, mainstream routine scientists start to laugh at you.

Why?

– It is a logical tautology.
– It does not add anything to our knowledge.
– It doesn’t give us any new fact about our environment and how it works.
– It is not testable.
– It is unfalsifiable. (If they think Popper)
– It is unscientific. (If they think Feynman)
– It contains zero amount of information.
– It can’t predict.
– It has no value.
– At best it’s just a definition.

– “We can’t see what we can’t see.”

If you come from science, philosophy, business or what not, the dominant mindsets of your field may be expressed in different forms, but they all – perhaps wrongfully – mean the same thing:

The blindspot dilemma is worthless.

Yet, quite surprisingly, when I think about it, when I apply it to different domains, when I keep it – constantly – in the back of my mind, the conclusions I get are drastically different from before: New things emerge and old things get a different set of explanations. Observations make a better sense in a broader range, and a recursive sense of clarity starts to form.

How can that be worthless?

A month ago I applied this simple recipe to “the range of empathy in humans”. As a result, I was taken by a long trip and came back much more insightful. A whole new world of meanings and insights about morality, empathy, psychopathy started to hit me. I got a different vision of our collective civilization. My relationships with the people improved. Social behaviors made more sense. Everything was shed in an irreversible light!

I applied it to human behavior and I learned new things about politics, conflicts, societies. The way the world works and how it could be dealt with it.

I applied it to data, and I got new approaches, new models, new charts and shapes and values.

I applied it to cognition, and I learned new things about conciousness, and even geometry, math and topology.

Someone please tell me how can such a simple yet useful statement be so worthless?

I think the dominant scientific epistemology that is ruling the way science works is incompetent here. And the harm that is causing us comes exactly from that rigid inadequecy.

From Popper’s “falsificationism” to the statistical null hypothetical testing that is dominating the logic with which we do science, have failed to reflect a sense of recursion that may be more profound to our nature than we think.

The late Feyerabend who eventually went against Popper with refusing to accept the existence of universal methodologies in science was on to something. His anarchistic views of science in his against the method lost the battle of history to the falsificationism of Popper.

Science is so blind to its blindspots that Feyerabend’s “sociology of scientific knowledge” where he started to study science as a man-made cultural product made by the society of scientists (my wording) never took off the way it deserved to.

I don’t have a clear formulation to introduce a paradigm here. But I am sure, as much as Popper was sure of his unfalsifiable theory, that we can and we should formulate the blindness dilemma into scientific paradims in an elegant and ground-breaking way.

Me and myself have a recursive faith that beyond the incompetent tools of our current science and our profound blindness to other potential ways of finding the truth, there must be a formal way to adress the so-called “blindspot dillema”. We must nicely and regretfully invite it back to our toolbox of making sense of the world!

I can only hope we see a paradigm shift before our extinction.

P.S. In a looser reading, one can interprete the two “we”s differently by inviting two different perspectives. Then it is no longer a tautology. There is a model (an interpretation/semantics), for which you get something similar to Dunning-Kruger effect. That is not a tautology either. This is probably where I “cheated” in this passage. But I don’t think of it as cheating and that is the point here.

I am not defending this quick text as a well-thought and accurate post. But hear the idea:

Such a fuzzy freedom of interpretations (such as moving between perspectives) is missing in falsifiablity paradigm.

Even the way the dominant paradigms include uncertainty (e.g. statistical hypothesis testing) is so deterministic that they push uncertainty all the way to a statistical parameter or a random variable.

Such freedoms are in the blindspots of the falsifiability approach without originally being excluded them for a good reason. They are only not included, yet, due to a lack of solid and rigorous formalization.