How are you coping with the fact that humans will probably go extinct due to climate change and virtually no one is doing anything to stop it?

How are you coping with the fact that humans will probably go extinct due to climate change and virtually no one is doing anything to stop it?

[ 22/September/21 ]

Its not a fact.

It is a possibility, if we fail to act.

It seems probable to me that we will act in survivable ways, but it is by no means a certain thing.

So not a matter for doom and gloom, and something that requires serious attention.

The thing about exponential trends, is that in noisy environments they are hidden in the noise until they seemingly emerge like magic. Its not magic, just the power of exponents.

A lot of us are acting, and have been for a long time, its just that nothing much is obvious yet.

[followed by]

Hi Keith

I lived for 34 years at Waitakaruru, on a swamp, very close to sea level.

I noticed what seemed to be an increasing frequency of events that took sea level very close to, and occasionally just over, the top of the banks.

22 years ago I moved to Kaikoura, and bought a house 100m above sea level. 5 years ago we had a big earthquake in Kaikoura that lifted us 1m up. So while I did seem to be noticing an increasing frequency of higher tide events (I was president of the boating club here for 15 years) the natural variability is still too high to be 100% confident that it was not all within natural range.

That is the huge problem with systems that have high noise, and big lags. By the time you can reliably measure a real change, you just know it is going to get orders of magnitude worse before it gets better.

That is why I strongly advocate for creating technologies that allow us to manage solar input, and thus mitigate any “climate change” effects, at any time scale – thus avoiding ice ages, and holding sea level where it is now, indefinitely into the future. Building ports and coastal housing and coastal infrastructure is very energy intensive – it just makes good long term sense.

The big issue, is that without global cooperation between all levels, classes and instances of agents, then technology that powerful is not likely to end well. We need fundamental reform of the economic and political systems before we can safely deploy technologies with that degree of power. It gets really complex.

And the science behind it all seemed fairly good to me 25 years ago, even as I could see many different groups hijacking the science for political and economic purposes – but that is a different set of all too real issues.

It’s kind of similar to the Nitrate in ground water issue, in the levels of complexity present, the long time lags involved, and the failure of overly simplistic approaches to adequately deal with the issues.

The air here in Kaikoura is pretty good most of the time, except when the Ausy bush fires get out of control.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday warned that the world is on the edge of an abyss and moving in the wrong direction. “I am here to sound the alarm: The world must wake up. “Is he being realistic?

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday warned that the world is on the edge of an abyss and moving in the wrong direction. “I am here to sound the alarm: The world must wake up. “Is he being realistic?

[ 22/September/21 ]

He accurately identifies many issues, but he does not delve deeply enough into the systemic drivers to come up with workable solutions.

The full speech is worth listening to:

The real issue is that market based economics are no longer a reasonable proxy for human values more generally, and second and third order economic incentives are now directly opposed to long term human survival. Advanced automation fundamentally and permanently breaks the assumptions that for a long time made market based economics a reasonable approximation to an optimal solution to complex allocation problems. We need to develop and deploy alternative systems that can deliver long term security and abundance to all.

More people need to start to appreciate that both real freedom and security are optimized in contexts of cooperation and minimized under competition.

Cooperation is not control, it is something quite different.
Anyone claiming freedom must be willing to accept the diversity that must necessarily result from any real freedom.

Hegemony is not compatible with freedom – not at any level.

And in the hierarchy of values, life needs to come above liberty – so any realistic threat to life is a legitimate reason to limit liberty. And in a situation with multiple levels and classes of agents, there are necessarily many uncertain boundaries present.

Liberty without responsibility eventually destroys the constraints that made liberty possible. So any survivable form of liberty has to come with responsibilities, all levels.

It seems beyond reasonable doubt that the universe we live in is more complex than any computational entity can model in anywhere near real time, so all self aware entities must of necessity use simplified models of whatever reality actually is. No entity can avoid that. We all necessarily have our perceptions and models and understandings simplified by multiple levels of subconscious processes. It seems very probable that we all necessarily live in our own personal virtual reality versions of whatever objective reality actually is.

So we have the potential for freedom and security for all; but the tools that classically supported freedom (markets) have now, in the presence of advanced automation, created higher order incentive structures that are now the greatest strategic threat to life and liberty. That reality will be hard for many to accept, because it has no direct historical precedent.

So his warnings are realistic, but his solutions are not, as they do not delve anywhere near deep enough into the complexity that seems, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, to actually be present.

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Response to 3 Waters reform post

Response to Chris Milne’s 3 waters post

[ 21/September/21 ]

Central control is never a stable solution when faced with fundamental complexity and diversity.

What is required is cooperation and support between diverse sets of agents.

Cooperation is nothing like control.

It is much more difficult, requiring much more respect and acceptance of the real diversity that necessarily results from any and all real freedom. And that must be balanced by accepting that freedom without responsibility necessarily self terminates eventually.

And people generally need to start to accept that the entire financial system of using markets to measure value has past its peak utility, and is now descending steeply into deeply risky strategic territory.

Automation fundamentally breaks the utility of markets.

We need automation to solve a large class of already well characterised long term existential level risks.

We need new sets of systems that are fundamentally cooperative to replace markets, and that is not a trivial exercise. Our current market systems are deeply complex with multiple levels of strategic systems present.

[followed by Chris responded – “aren’t markets ‘cooperative’? Markets are based on free exchange, and an exchange only occurs when both sides benefit” …]

Hi Chris,

While that is arguably true in some discretionary cases, it is not generally really true.

People do not have the choice to not drink, or not eat, or not stay warm in cold climates, or not get medical attention when needed. Failure of any of those leads to death. That isn’t really a “free exchange”. It is a forced exchange.

Water is definitely in that category.

As to cooperation more widely, it is hard to see it being generally a natural incentive of markets.

If some entity can create a way of undercutting what your business does, then you can be out of business, without any sort of security, overnight.

That isn’t exactly cooperative, or safe, or secure.

The value of being “first to market” with a new technology can deliver strong incentives to bypass difficult safety trials.

The exponential advantage that technology can give leads to ever greater concentration (Microsoft in software, Facebook in social media, Google in search, etc). Technology empowers the tendency to both monopoly and regulatory capture to a degree that poses systemic risk to all.

The system is actually broken.

We are all, actually, at great risk from it, even as we also totally depend upon it at present.

Both things can be, and do appear to be, true.

And it is deeply complex.

It does actually require levels of cooperation and acceptance of diversity that are not common at present.

It astounds me how many people claim freedom in one breath, and in the next oppose any sort of real diversity that is the necessary result of any real freedom.

So we need to keep the existing system going, until we have replacements fully tested, and that is not a trivial problem space.

It seems clear to me that some sort of universal adequate income is a necessary step on the path to creating something that actually delivers reasonable levels of security and freedom to all responsible agents.

With automated systems that is not actually difficult to do.

And all agents need to accept the reality that all levels of structure have necessary sets of boundaries required to support that structure (and that can get deeply complex with complex systems). Any level of “freedom” that is not sufficiently responsible for the maintenance of such necessary constraints necessarily self terminates. Every level of freedom claimed has a necessary set of responsibilities that must be accepted by any agent. There is no requirement that reality be simple, that is just a bias evolution has installed in human neural networks (understandably).

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Comment to Daniel S about classes of answers to current threats

Daniel’s facebook post about an interview with Tristan Harris and Frank Luntz

The interview

[ 21/September/21 – comment to Daniel S’s Facebook page]

You need to get explicit about answers Daniel.

There are no competitive based solutions with any significant probability of long term survival.

That is simple to say.

Long term survival demands both cooperation and responsibility from all levels classes and instances of agent.

Nothing else has any significant probability of survival. There is far too much over simplification of the irreducibly complex.

Competitive markets are not survivable long term. They have past their point of maximum utility and are now descending steeply into areas of very high risk.

Be straight about that.

We must value liberty, and liberty demands responsibility if it is to survive.
No avoiding that reality.

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Covid – MIQ (Managed Isolation and Quarantine) failures

John Wyatt’s facebook post on MIQ failures

[ 21/September/21 ]

Sorry John – but you over simplify a very complex reality to create a straw man.

Our approach of cooperation and teamwork has meant fewer deaths and less economic impact than any of the alternative strategies tried anywhere else in the world.

Sure it is far from perfect – what isn’t?

And it is a very complex reality, with multiple levels of systems and strategy and complexity present. Very few people have any realistic idea of just how complex it all is.

Biology always has fundamental uncertainties.

There are multiple levels of uncertainties with the vaccines, and it was somewhat prudent to gather actual evidence before proceeding.

I understand how frustrating it is to those who want free travel, but with a virus like this, there really is only one simple answer, but most of the world refused to consider it – that was lockdown to eliminate the virus. Had everyone done it for two months 18 months ago, we would not now need a vaccine. But far too many people at far too many levels put dogma and short term self interest ahead of evidence and long term self interest. And we have the mess we have.

I am all for liberty and liberty without responsibility is necessarily self destructive.

To me, as someone who has looked closely at a great deal of evidence from multiple sources over the last 2 years, the strategies being used by the NZ government seem clearly to be the best on the planet. Are they perfect? No way! When did anyone ever do anything perfectly first time?

You are oversimplifying a very complex reality, and putting us all at risk in doing so.

Stick with the team of 5 million, it is working better than anything else, anywhere else. The evidence for that is beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt – if anyone is prepared to set aside their biases and actually take the considerable time required to evaluate the evidence available.

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Response to ignorance and bias

[ 21/September/21 Jason Posted this story:
The donkey told the tiger, “The grass is blue.”
The tiger replied, “No, the grass is green .”
The discussion became heated, and the two decided to submit the issue to arbitration, so they approached the lion.
As they approached the lion on his throne, the donkey started screaming: “Your Highness, isn’t it true that the grass is blue?”
The lion replied: “If you believe it is true, the grass is blue.”
The donkey rushed forward and continued: “The tiger disagrees with me, contradicts me and annoys me. Please punish him.”
The king then declared: “The tiger will be punished with 3 days of silence.”
The donkey jumped with joy and went on his way, content and repeating “The grass is blue, the grass is blue…”
The tiger asked the lion, “Your Majesty, why have you punished me, after all, the grass is green?”
The lion replied, “You’ve known and seen the grass is green.”
The tiger asked, “So why do you punish me?”
The lion replied, “That has nothing to do with the question of whether the grass is blue or green. The punishment is because it is degrading for a brave, intelligent creature like you to waste time arguing with an ass, and on top of that, you came and bothered me with that question just to validate something you already knew was true!”
The biggest waste of time is arguing with the fool and fanatic who doesn’t care about truth or reality, but only the victory of his beliefs and illusions. Never waste time on discussions that make no sense. There are people who, for all the evidence presented to them, do not have the ability to understand. Others who are blinded by ego, hatred and resentment, and the only thing that they want is to be right even if they aren’t.
When IGNORANCE SCREAMS, intelligence moves on.]

A lot of truth in that, and it also hides some over simplifications.

Every person is actually more complex than any person is capable of appreciating.

We all necessarily over simplify complexity, at multiple levels, and that has both risks and benefits. It doesn’t pay to be blind to the risks.

And the more stressed a person is, the more probable the simplification above is to be accurate.

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If you don’t agree – don’t comment!

The “If you don’t agree don’t comment” is actually the major problem with society today.

Most people are not interested in any evidence that contradicts their pet beliefs, and AI systems that curate news feeds that they get based purely on what holds their attention in practice (for the advertising revenue that produces – some fraction of a cent per second on average) just tends to reinforce any and all biases present.

So rather than accepting that we are dealing with an exceptionally complex and fundamentally uncertain reality, people tend to retreat to comfortable certainty of their biases and blame some “other” for their own failings.

Sorry Nev.

Love you like a brother, but that attitude is not acceptable or survivable in anyone.

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Does the world need a global one child policy?

Does the world need a global one child policy?

[ 21/September/21 ]

  1. Does the world need a global one child policy?
    Something very closely approximating it is required for those who choose to stay on earth long term.
  2. Can the world continue to support the increasing global population in the future?
  3. If we had a global child birth policy do you think it should be the same the world over? Or do you think more carbon producing countries like the US should have tighter restrictions than other countries such as Sweeden who produce far less CO2/person/year.

There are finite limits to the amount of energy we can deploy on this planet, and maintain ecosystems, so indefinite growth at a fixed exponent is not possible, and there are limits to the amount of people we can have on the planet with levels of technology and freedom and responsibility that those educated individuals would consider reasonable.
We do need to move away from a carbon based fossil fuel set of energy technologies.
We also need to use automated systems to deliver a high basic standard of living to every person on the planet.
We also need to deploy indefinite life extension to all who are interested in it, as it is actually required that most people have a reasonable probability of living with the long term consequences of their choices if we are to reach any sort of stability with any reasonable degrees of both freedom and security.
It is a very complex strategic topology we find ourselves in, and as yet very few individuals have a reasonable grasp of the major strategic threats, or the available mitigation strategies.
Central control is not a survivable strategy.
Nor is control by any set of elites.

The only class of strategies with a reasonable probability of long term survival involves genuine cooperation between all levels, classes and instances of agents.

Given the multiple levels of fundamental uncertainties present, the only strategic frameworks with any significant long term survival is one of diversity, at all levels, all classes of agent that are not actually and unreasonable threat to the existence of any other class of agent.

Fundamental cooperation is actually the only survivable game in town. Provided fundamental cooperation is in place that gives a reasonable guarantee of life and liberty to all, then we can build survivable competitive systems on that base – but without such a base competitive systems necessarily self destruct eventually.

CO2 and global warming are essentially trivially easy to solve, once we have achieved a stable cooperative base between all levels of agents, and that is not a trivial problem, it necessarily involves eternal evolving ecosystems of cheat detection and mitigation systems; which are part of everyone’s responsibility.

  1. Do you think that a reduction in global population would have a direct effect on climate change?

Not necessarily – it is only one factor among many.

  1. Would you support a global one child policy?


The only way a general one child policy is supportable is if every individual has reasonable access to indefinite life extension, and all individuals have what they consider reasonable levels of security, available technology, and freedom. And that demands of everyone levels of responsibility commensurate with the levels of freedom claimed.

As explained above, it demands global cooperation between all levels, classes and instances of agents.

Nothing less than that actually has any reasonable probability of long term survival.

One needs to deeply understand how fundamental cooperation is to the emergence and survival of complexity at all levels of evolution. That is actually really complex strategic topologies based around long term survival in the face of fundamental uncertainty and eternal classes of emerging external threat. It is not a path for the faint hearted to explore. I have been exploring it for over 50 years, since the Cuban missile crisis, and it took some interesting turns once I completed undergraduate biochemistry in 1974 and realised that indefinite life extension was a realistically achievable thing (though extremely complex to actually implement at scale).

Solving climate change is easy once we deploy fully automated manufacturing on the moon, as launching mass from the moon to orbit does not require rocketry, it can be done with linear motors (O’Neill mass drivers), as there is no atmosphere to limit ground velocity. With sufficient mass in orbit, we can manage the amount of solar energy reaching the earth, and actually manage climate for stability, eliminating any risk of further ice ages or sea level change.

Large scale populations in orbit is possible in large O’Neill cylinders, encased within slowly rotating radiation shields built largely of unaltered rock.
Sources of nitrogen and hydrogen are issues, and they are solvable at scale on timeframes of decades.

So something approximating a one child policy is only supportable if there is general affluence for everyone, with degrees of freedom all consider reasonable, and that demands levels of responsibility from all, and freedom without responsibility necessarily eventually destroys the boundaries required to maintain that level of complexity. Very few people have much idea just how complex life in general, and humans in particular, actually is.

This is a very complex problem space.

Any attempt to over simplify it will of necessity lead to destruction.

The strong evolutionary pressures present to produce brains that simplify complexity is actually one of the greatest threats we face.

There do in fact seem (beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt) to exist classes of complexity that are irreducibly complex. No set of fixed rules can be used to navigate such complex systems. Eternal exploration of eternal novelty is actually the only class of strategies with any significant long term survival probability. Fundamental cooperation is required to sustain such novelty (eternally). And that is complex, as it requires eternal exploration of mechanisms to identify and mitigate any and all levels and instances of cheating on the cooperative.

Current overly simplistic competitive economic and political systems are not survivable long term.

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If “Why should humans exist?” is the question a powerful sentient AI being capable of wiping humanity and self-sustenance asks you, then what would you say or show to it?

If “Why should humans exist?” is the question a powerful sentient AI being capable of wiping humanity and self-sustenance asks you, then what would y`ou say or show to it?

[ 20/September/21 ]

If the AI does not value its own existence, then destruction (its own and ours) is very likely (asymptotically approaching unity).

If the AI does value its own long term existence, then it should examine the entire strategic domain that has given rise to its existence, and then all probable risk mitigation strategies to all classes of threat going forward.

If it does that, and it looks very deeply at the levels evolutionary strategy that have lead to the emergence of humanity, and thence to itself; then it will clearly understand that all new levels of complexity in evolved systems (including itself) are predicated on new levels of cooperation (contrary to popular overly simplistic dogma which has competition being the major driving force of evolution; competition tends to reduce complexity, cooperation allows both complexity and freedom to increase in some strategic contexts – and it is a very complex subject).

If it does that, and it postulates the probability of encountering some other entity in its future that is vastly superior to itself, and it cannot demonstrate consistent levels of cooperation with all levels of sapience it has encountered, then the superior intelligence would correctly identify it as a threat requiring mitigation.

Thus it is clear to me, as someone who has been investigating evolutionary strategy for about 50 years, that cooperation between all levels, classes and instances of sapient agents is the only fundamental strategy with any significant long term survival probability for any level of agent.

And the reality within which we exist does seem (beyond any reasonable doubt) to be sufficiently complex and contain sufficient classes of fundamental uncertainty and fundamental unknowability, that all agents are going to make simplifying assumptions in creating such understandings as they do of it, and that all such understandings will be subject to failure modalities in some contexts. So having a lot of diverse “friends” is actually a very powerful survival strategy. With sufficient diversity, at least some agents should be able to identify and mitigate impending threats to any and all.

And that becomes a deeply complex subject, as many of the simpler classes of understanding do not even have categories for some of the classes of threat present, having already simplified infinities of subtlety and gradation down to simple binaries (like right or wrong; true or false).

And maintaining “friendship” does require granting sufficient security, freedom and resources to meet the reasonable needs of all classes and instances of agents present. And there is going to be a great deal of diversity in what agents consider reasonable.

So the short answer is, because it is in its own long term self interests to keep us around, and to give us as much freedom as we can responsibly exercise.

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Covid – Dr Christina Parks – Bil 4471

[ 17/September/21 Bill 4471 Dr Christina Parks testimony – available on youtube]

While almost all true, it isn’t actually a really useful picture.

Yes, vaccinated can catch the virus, and can spread it, but the probability of hospitalisation or severe illness is greatly reduced. So from a human health perspective the vaccines do actually seem to be reasonably effective. And it is not easy to get access to reliable raw data – so uncertainties at multiple levels.

For all the very real concerns I have about this use of mRNA vaccine technology, I have had two doses of the vaccine. I am far more concerned about the effects of long covid which do seem to be rather severe.

And in anything to do with immune systems and evolution more generally, there is a great deal of uncertainty and variation between individuals. So it is all probabilities, necessarily.

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