I am a candidate – its official

As of half an hour ago I am now a candidate in the 2014 General Election.
I am standing for the Kaikoura Electorate.
I am standing as a member of the “Money Free Party” – but the party is not officially registered as contesting this election, so is not available for a party vote.

It is one way of gaining some exposure for the idea that we need to move to a values set that is beyond market values (money).

We are technically capable of delivering an abundance of all of the necessities of life to everyone, all that is really stopping us is our societal addiction to the values of the market place (money).

We could all live in peace and security and abundance and freedom – except that there is no money to be made from that. There is much more money in insecurity and scarcity and war and restriction.

We all have the choice to do something about it.

I wonder how many will make that choice in the ballot box?

My own ideas are not universally shared in the Money Free Party, and my ideas are well developed in the many posts on this site.

1st September 2014

1st September 2014


Authorised by Ted Howard – 1 Maui Street, Kaikoura

Posted in Politics | Tagged | 3 Comments

Entitlements

24 Aug ’14 ~question of the day~ Entitlements or Handouts


“We should stop calling them all ‘Entitlements’
Get it straight: Welfare, food stamps, WIC, …. ad nauseum are not entitlements. They are tax payer funded handouts, and shouldn’t be called entitlements at all. Social Security and Veterans Benefits are entitlements because the people receiving them are entitled to them. They were earned and paid for by the recipients.”

How do you view this?
What are the differences
between “pensions” for veteran’s and the elderly – and
assistance to those in unfortunate circumstances?

I disagree with the graphic.
Why is it that those with money don’t have to work and many of those without money cannot get work?
Once one has a certain level of money, one can live off the “interest”.

Our market based value system is seriously distorted.
The incentives of the market are to maintain a level of unemployment, and to keep the majority of people at or near subsistence.
The market actively denies the majority access to the abundance that is enjoyed by the few.
Why do we allow this?
It makes no sense, in human terms, to shut down production facilities when people need the products – but we do so because the people who need the products have no token to pay for it with.

We could easily meet the needs all of humanity.
We could feed the world easily.
We can give everyone access to shelter and education and communication and power and transport.
These things are technically easy, yet economically impossible.

We now have automated means of production that mean that very few people actually need to work to produce what goods and services are needed.
There is no shortage of things that people could do, to help to fix the damage we have done to the environment, but there is no market value in such work, so very little of it actually gets done.

The harsh reality is that we live in an economic system designed for scarcity, and we now have the technical capacity to deliver abundance, but our economic system cannot handle it.
So we get the sort of nonsense written above, that people have to earn their living. We are all living on the combined mental activity of all those who have gone before us – they did the hard work and we enjoy their bounty.

It is generally not the fault of the poor or the unemployed that they are in that situation – it is the fault of the system which we still tolerate.

[followed by]

Hi OM

There is certainly much truth in the notion that the historical reality was one of scarcity much of the time for many goods and services.
It is also certainly true that in the first instance markets evolved in that reality of scarcity and met a real need.

It is also true to say that in more recent times there has been a great deal of intellectual effort go into the design on many of the higher level structures within our market based system – and these systems are designed “for” the perceived reality of scarcity that is real within the context of the market.

So there is certainly much truth in the notion that markets and the many levels of our modern market based economic system have evolved from a historical reality of a scarcity (of many items at many times); and it is also true that many of the structures within the system we currently exist within are designed for scarcity (and actually promote scarcity, rather than abundance – copyright and patent laws are obvious examples- there are many others that are more subtle in nature).

As to systems transcending themselves, that is a very interesting topic.
It seems clear that the history of life is actually precisely just that.
It seems that the emerging levels of life are defined precisely by emerging sets of associated strategies that stabilise new levels of cooperative behaviour between diverse system.
It seems to be precisely this ability to “transcend the conditions which gave rise to them” that defines the essence of what it is to be a living system.

I look forward to your response – whenever you find the bandwidth to generate one ;)

[followed by]

Hi OM

You wrote “Your own thinking, it seems to me, shows that an economic system rooted in scarcity, cannot function in, cannot even give rise to, a system of nonscarcity. ?????” – which is not at all how I see it.

What I see is that a system of market values will always have an inbuilt tendency to destroy any abundance that emerges, or exists.
I see that this tendency of the system is clearly contrary to the needs of a set of entities that are attempting to maximise their own freedom and capacities.
What I see is that currently very few people are able to distinguish that their own long term self interest might not involve the market based values of money.
I certainly see that it is entirely possible for abundance based systems of value to emerge from a scarcity based market system; once people become clearly aware of the distinction between market values and human values.
It is clear to me that human beings are very complex entities at many different levels. We are capable of displaying many different modes of behaviour, that can be broadly classified into competitive and cooperative set of strategies. Which sort of strategies get subconsciously triggered at different levels of awareness depend very much on the context we perceive. The external inputs from reality are one set of influences on context, and our internal sets of percepts, concepts, habits and paradigms are another set of major influences.
It is clear to me that human beings are highly evolved for cooperative behaviours in appropriate contexts.

It is also clear to me that we are now developing technologies that allow us to deliver abundance of a vast (and exponentially increasing) range of goods and services.
In history, the only way that citizens could enjoy freedom to use a large surplus was to have a society based upon slave labour (in some sense). Our own society has created a class of “voluntary slaves” with notions like those encapsulated in this Question Of The Day in the term “earned”. No one has to earn the oxygen in the air – it is simply present in abundance for all to enjoy.
We now have the ability to produce sets of technologies that can produce all the necessities of human life (food, water, housing, sanitation, communication, education, transportation, medical technology) in similar levels of abundance to oxygen in the air. No one needs to be enslaved to do so. No one needs to earn anything, any more than anyone needs to earn a breath of air. The result of this is a potential for freedom and security that is impossible in any market based system.
All that is stopping us is our addiction to markets. This addiction is firmly embedded in the neural networks of most people today.
We all have our conservative streaks.
We all like to see things working before we try them ourselves.
Most of us are comfortable testing novelty in certain domains, and not in others.
All of us accept many things in culture without serious question at some point in our lives.
Some of us develop questioning and testing to a level that many would find unsettling, as it removes all certainty, all security of knowledge in the sense of our original simple binary distinctions of true/false, right/wrong.

For me, I can easily see how technology can empower a new level of emergent human values and behaviours that emerge from and replace the market based set of values within which they formed.
And I acknowledge that there has always been a strong tension at several levels of philosophy and theology with market values.
And what I am pointing to is something based on a distinctly different foundation (that is in some aspects compatible with the older sets of values).

So the short answer is, that I see it entirely possible that this abundance can emerge from a market based system, by people becoming aware that market values are not necessary human values. Once people choose a change of value sets, the technology will emerge. The process is in fact happening, there are many open source, and commons movements. And currently these movements face direct systemic threat from the market systems (as the tone of this question of the day clearly demonstrates).

Posted in economics, Our Future, Philosophy, Politics, Question of the Day | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Mystery of Life

23 Aug ’14 ~Question of the Day~ Mystery of Life

what is the great mystery of life, to you, as you see it ?
describe fully, in loving detail..
is this a source of hope, or frustration for you ?

It’s all mysterious.
The more I know, the more I know I don’t know, and the more limited becomes the knowledge that I once held as absolute.

I am left with only one certainty – cogito ergo sum – I think therefore I am. That says only that something self aware exists in some sort of matrix, without making any detailed claims about the nature of the thing making the claim or the nature of the matrix within which it exists.

And of course, being me, I have a lot of theories (with supporting experiential evidence) about both the nature of self and the matrix within which we find ourselves, and those are probabilistic in nature.
Heisenberg demonstrated that the matrix within which we find ourselves does not allow us to know it in precise detail, it puts probability limits on how much we can know about individual things.
Goedel demonstrated that even logic and mathematics are incomplete descriptions of even those abstract realms.

And acknowledging all of the uncertainties in our knowledge, it seems clear that we are the result of a process of evolution by natural selection playing out on this planet over the last few billion years.
That process of evolution is full of layers of profound subtlety and beauty.

And when we look at the physicality of ourselves, we are so mind-bendingly complex.
Our bodies consist of roughly 10,000 times as many cells as there are people on the planet. If we were to look at 3 cells per second, it would take a million years just to glance at each of them.
Inside every cell is as many molecules as there are cells in our bodies.
Our brain is only about 2% of our body mass, but uses about 25% of our total energy production. Each of the trillions of brain cells as thousands of interconnections to other cells. Each of those interconnections has about 60 different sorts of signalling pathways to the next cell – and some of those have very complex behaviours over time and space. So every connection is capable of complex behaviour in and of itself (each has its own sort of processing capacity, it’s own intelligence in a sense).

It seems clear that our conscious awareness is a very limited thing compared to the subconscious systems that it sits atop of. Those subconscious systems possess powers roughly equal to the total computing power available in the planet today.
There do in fact seem to be real limits to human nature, and those limits are so far beyond what most people imagine, that we are for all practical purposes – unlimited entities.
It seems clear that what limits most of us is our beliefs about what we are, and what we exist in.
It seems clear that most of those limits are are subconsciously imposed by the cultural milieux into which we are born.

It seems that science, which is essentially sceptical inquiry – a process of constant questioning and testing and evaluation; with whatever tools we have available to us (at both the hardware {technological} and software {conceptual} levels), is the most powerful tool we have to explore the mystery.
And it seems clear from all that science has thus far discovered that should we live for the rest of eternity, there will still be fundamental mystery and novelty to be discovered; such seems to be the probable nature of both the physical and intellectual realms available to us.

So it seems clear to me that it is all mystery.
It seems clear to me that we have no direct access to reality, all we have is the model of reality that our brains construct for us, and in normal day-to-day circumstances (the sorts of things that have been with us throughout our evolutionary history) that model is extremely accurate and very useful; but beyond that, the model and the modelling mechanisms of brain are subject to a vast array of errors and biases that make our models unreliable in many truly novel situations.

So yes, as Bhatta says, the vastness of our consciousness, and the even vaster vastness of what lies beyond it – its all mystery in many very fundamental senses.

And to me, it is all a cause for optimism and hope.
However unpleasant and unjust the current reality may be, there is always the possibility of creating something more pleasant, more interesting, more just.
Justice may not exist in reality, and we can each do our best to create it, and to the extent that we make such efforts, we do in fact bring justice into being.

Posted in Nature, Philosophy, Question of the Day | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Fun

22 Aug ’14 ~Question of the Day~ Fun Ideas

What kinds of things do you do for Fun lately?

Normally – play golf. Not for the last two months, nor the next couple.
Similar story with mountain bike riding.

Just made myself a desert by blending a ripe banana, some raw cacao nibs, some vanilla essence, and some freeze dried passionfruit powder. Eating it was fun ;)

Now reclining in my chair with the fire warming the house- the dogs snoozing.

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Paradigm Shift

21 Aug ’14 ~Question of the Day~ Paradigm Shift

Did you ever experience a paradigm shift?

Yes
Many.

1963 discovered I had much more in common with a couple of Dad’s friends who were survivors of two world wars than I did with anyone I knew my age.

Around 1970 – discovering Heisenberg uncertainty, and realising that there was not simply measurement error due to noise, but that the physical universe places fundamental limits on measurement – and is thus fundamentally mysterious, and must always remain so.

In 1974 while watching a demonstration of LASER holograms at an international symposium on LASERs held at Waikato University I “saw” how it is possible to create abstract notions from stored images. I understood in analogy how abstract consciousness could arise.

1975 realising that the default mode for life is immortality, and that “aging” is an attribute only of the complex multicellular organisms; and therefore extended life-spans must be possible.

In 1978 reading Richard Dawkins’ “The Selfish Gene”, I saw how the simple filter of competitive survival could lead to the evolution of high level cooperation.

In 1983 reading Doug Hofstadter’s “Goedel, Escher, Bach: Eternal Golden Braid” and getting Goedel’s implication, that not even mathematics and logic are complete descriptions of even abstract systems. All descriptions, of all systems, are and must always be incomplete in some essential fashion. Even the realms of mathematics and logic are uncertain in this sense of incompleteness.

In May 1994, doing the Landmark Forum, and “seeing” the level of the impact of judgement. Actually being able to generate some time out of the operant paradigm of right/wrong. Within hours of that experience, I was clear on how a declaration in language is able to bootstrap a level of awareness into being.

In 1999 seeing the Matrix, and becoming completely clear on the distinction between the world of reality and the world of our perceptions of reality, which are not experienced in reality itself, but in the model of reality that our brains construct for us.

Lots of others (reading Einstein, Russell, Larry Niven, John Gribben, Plato, Kant, ….) – and I’m getting too tired to write much coherent – not much sleep the last couple of nights, and I still need to walk the dogs – it’s blowing 40 knots outside, with sleet showers – cold and wet – I like warm and dry – waahhh – not fair (quiet child!). Good night all!

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Emotions

19 Aug ’14 ~Question of the Day~Emotions

Which is a stronger emotion: anger or love?

In what sense stronger?

In terms of what can be created, then love wins hands down.

In terms of what can, in an unguarded instant, completely overwhelm conscious control, then anger is definitely a contender for most people.

[followed by]

I need to disagree with you Torch on one point. In terms of offering love.

It seems clear to me that the most powerful strategy is to extend love universally, and to not be at all attached to that love being reciprocated.
Having started from that point, one can then direct attention to the most productive areas.

It is clear to me that it is not the offering of love that creates stress.
It seems clear to me that stress is most commonly a result of unmet expectations.
The simplest way to avoid stress is to avoid generating any expectations.
That is easy to say, and infinitely more difficult to achieve consistently in practice.
To create (and express/communicate) possibility without expectation (attachment to outcomes) seems to me to be the highest achievement of awareness.

When we do manage to bring such possibility to existence, where it is clearly present, and there is complete freedom on the part of others to accept or reject it, this seems to me to be the most powerful expression of liberty and creativity possible.

[followed by]

Hi Torch

Once again, it seems it may be a terminology thing.

I was not promoting any sort of gushy effusion.

For me, love may be exhibited by giving a respectful wide birth.

For me, love does not mean an outpouring in all situations – it is much more aware and mindful than that, and is often embodied in the notion of respect – in however that is recognised by the other party; and in multicultural situations, that can become a very complex problem (like when talking to a mixed gathering of hundreds of people in a tense political situation – something I am just about to get involved in again over the next 4 weeks).

And I am not consistently mindful, I am often as mixed up as most others in many situations (despite intentions to the contrary).

Such is life!

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Robots

Robots Will Create ‘Permanently Unemployable Underclass’

Only if we allow market values to dominate over human values.

To my mind the whole point of this exercise is to clear establish a value hierarchy – and then develop technical and social technologies compatible with it:
1/ Human life (actually all self aware life);
2/ Individual liberty.

Having human life as the prime value means that we have to be conscious of our connection to the biological world that supports us, and the many levels of things that make us happy and fulfilled, and thus we must think about the consequences of our actions, and take all reasonable steps to mitigate any adverse effects on others and the environment we share.

Having freedom (liberty) as a value is not a licence to do whatever comes to mind, it is a freedom that acknowledges the reality of consequences, and is responsible for consequences. All actions, even inaction, has consequences.

Having human freedom as a value comes with a logical requirement to empower individuals with appropriate technologies that enable them to do whatever they responsibly choose.

The science is very clear – human beings are basically cooperative apes. We have evolved to live cooperative lives.
None of us lives in isolation.
Individual liberty exists in a social context.
It is possible to characterise all major advances in evolution as the emergence of new levels of cooperation.
It is time for the emergence of global levels of cooperation, which empower each of us in our individual freedom.

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