Long Life

27 Feb ’15 ~QofDay~ Long Life Blessing or Curse?

Is long life a blessing or a curse?

Neither concept – blessing or curse, seems to have much validity to it.
Long life just is what it is.
Long life, without disability, extending thousands of years, is definitely my desired outcome.

[followed by]

Hi Judi

I see it very differently, and I can see aspects of what you say in life.

It is clear to me, beyond any reasonable doubt, that we are each as individuals very complex entities.

We each carry a genetic heritage, the result of evolution by natural selection operating at the level of genes and populations over deep time, going back several billion years. We each carry shadows of those selection pressures at many different levels.

We each carry a memetic heritage, the result of evolution by natural selection operating at the level of behaviour and ideas, producing all the many different levels of culture that we find ourselves immersed in, and simply absorb without question as very small people.

Once our individual genetic and cultural development of the neural networks of our brains reaches a certain level, we begin to make choices. At every level of development, the choices we make are strongly influenced by many factors that we have not yet distinguished about the complexity that is us, and the complexity that is the environment within which we find ourselves.

As adults, we have some ability to pick and choose amongst the cultural forms of thought (at many levels) that are available to us, so in this sense, there is a certain sense that we can take up forms that have existed in the deep time of genetics or culture.

And as individuals we also have the creative ability to explore areas of the “space” of “all possible strategies” that have not previously been explored by anyone. Some people never reach that space, and stay firmly within the bounds of strategies explored by past cultures, and that is a possible way of being. And some of us go so deeply into the space of previously unexplored strategies that communication with people who have not is extremely difficult, and often only a tiny fraction of the sets of concepts we are trying to communicate actually make it across to the brains and minds of the other person.

The idea of anything being timeless and unchanging seems to be one of the many cultural illusions that come out of a set of ideas present in deep culture, and to me that set of ideas (encapsulated in the Platonic idea of forms in a sense) has been clearly falsified, and it is easy to see why it seemed to be so, in the absence of the datasets available from biochemistry, neurology, psychology, cybernetics and systems theory.

If one examines memory clearly, then it becomes very clear that we change with time. Sometimes those changes are subtle. Sometimes those changes are step changes, phase changes, level changes.

And neurons learn by doing, they require repeated exposure to learn, unless there is very strong emotion present. Strong emotion is worth a few thousand repetitions in terms of learning. This is one of the deep evolutionary aspects of being. It is sensible in the sense that if you come across a predator, or a great source of food then you want to preferentially be able to recall those experiences. Yet it is not powerful in a world where there are thousands of concepts and strategies that are powerful to learn and apply in practice in life.

So yes, we are the form we are in the individual moments of our existence, the eternal now to which we are connected by the models of reality we have in our brains.

And at the same time, we have all these myriad aspects and possibilities and probability extant within us.

And it seems that we do have choice, at whatever level it is that we happen to occupy at any given instant.

It seems that all levels are infinite.

All levels come with aspects and powers and influences not available at other levels. Some levels trump others in specific situations, and there is nothing I have found in any realm, or the logic of any set of realms, to indicate any sort of universal power at any “higher” level. All levels in this sense demand a certain respect from all other levels.

[followed by]

Hi Judi

It seems to me that we are all searching to understand ourselves in a sense, and we are all equally searching for some satisfaction in the present.

My last post gave a few aspects of what seems most likely to be what we are in the most basic of senses, and the numeric complexity of us is just so mind numbingly huge. If we could look at 3 objects per second, it would take roughly a million years to see either the cells of our body, or the molecules within a single cell.
That level of complexity is just so staggeringly huge.
In a very real sense we can never understand it, we are the result of it, not the cause of it. It actually seems to be possible to model many of the major subsystems that make us what we are, and never to a level that offers absolute predictability, only ever to a certain confidence, a certain level of probability.
So in that sense, the sense that any model of us is going to give probabilistic outcomes, I can see the attraction of models that are framed within familiar concepts, and familiar heuristics.
I can acknowledge that all models contain heuristic shortcuts.
I acknowledge that there is a very real sense in which it is only worth putting as much effort into constructing a model as one expects to get out of it in benefits, so not many people see it being worthwhile to spend 10s of thousands of hours over 5 decades continuously expanding and refining the model. Most simply don’t see the need, or any potential utility. I really can get that, at so many different levels.

And for me, when I am contemplating the possibility of living a very long time, I need to have models that are capable of delivering useful probabilities at levels that most people don’t explore. To live a very long time, I need to have effective mitigation strategies against not just aging, but all of the many other risk factors that exist. And it is clear to me that one of those required strategies is making everything available to everyone else, so that there is no real incentive for anyone to take anything I have (because they can get it simply by requesting it).

And I am clear there is no shortage of resources.
We live on a huge ball of mass, and there is another orbiting close by.

There is no shortage of energy.
The sun delivers to the surface of the earth more than a thousand times the energy that humanity as a whole currently uses, and the sun gives off enough energy that every family on earth could have as much energy as currently hits the earth (thousands of times more than humanity currently uses).

So there is no shortage of these things. They are present in abundance. All we lack is appropriate mechanisms to harvest and distribute the energy, and the biggest single obstacle to our developing such mechanisms is the market based economy, as markets cannot value any universal abundance of anything at other than zero, and there will always therefore exist a set of meta incentives to prevent or destroy such abundance, and turn it into a marketable scarcity.

Coming back to us, we are complex at so many different levels.
We seem capable of expansion into any of an infinite set of possible domains and levels of awareness.

And while we can do anything, we cannot do everything. Every possibility chosen and bought into reality excludes all of the other things that were possible in that instant. Every choice has consequence, in this and many other senses.

So it seems clear to me that there is sense in existence, in terms of systems in action, in evolution, in emergence and transcendence.
And it seems clear to me that meaning exists only in our models of reality, and not in reality itself.
Meaning seems to be something that languaging awarenesses such as ourselves bring into existence.
It can be very real for us, as our only experience seems to be of our model, not of reality itself.
It seems that we each as children inherit many levels of meaning from our cultures. We can in later life add to or subtract from that set of meanings by our choices, at whatever levels we make those choices.

And it is clear to me that none of us are rational or logical in the ways some people believe possible.
It is clear to me that our reason and logic is built atop many levels of intuitive systems.

I am clear that in my own operation, I am basically intuitive, and I use reason and logic as filters and tools to deal with the material that intuition delivers to me, and I am clear that all of my creativity comes from that intuition. Reason and logic can be industrious and productive in a sense, and it seems that all true creativity (as in production of something novel or new in kind) is based in intuition.

As a cousin of mine once accurately observed of me, I am not rational, but I am the fastest rationaliser he had ever seen in action.
The more I learn of myself, the more truth I see in that statement.

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Pro-Social Intolerance

26 Feb ’15 ~QofDay~ Pro-Social Intolerance

When is intolerance more pro-social than tolerance?

Like OM I see intolerance as being useful and pro social only if it is applied to actions that threaten the life and liberty of others.

Anything and everything else needs to be the object of tolerance.

Anything less than this is a logical affront to liberty.

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Money Picture

A post by Ailsa on my facebook page

A dollar bill with the words “I am a piece of paper and I control your life” written on it.

Not as much as you did, and not at all if I am successful with my long term goal of creating a context where the vast majority of human being hold life and liberty as their highest values:


explains most of the existential risks implicit in holding money as a high value, and in a modern context of being human:


it is possible for us to create a secure and free and prosperous future for all humanity – no exceptions, and it will take real choice and real effort by most of us to make such a future happen – it is not, nor can it be, an outgrowth of market values at the level of market values, one must be able to see beyond what markets offer, then use them as a tool to deliver.

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Communication Style

Humanity’s Mortar

What is your primary communication style?

Hi Laurie

For me the classification system described is inadequate. I guess that in that system I would be an analyser, yet giving that answer conceals more than it reveals.

As many others have noted, we all have multiple responses to different contexts.
To me it seems clear that it is context that is the greatest determinant of our response to the world. To the degree that we generate that context internally, independent of external circumstance is, to a good first order approximation, the degree to which we have choice in being.

For me, understanding, asking how, what, where, when, who and why questions to the greatest depth I am able, delivers a depth of influence to the model of the world that my brain makes that I get to experience as reality, that is most satisfying to me.
And I acknowledge that even with all the modelling and systems understanding that I have, I am, and must always be, profoundly more ignorant than I am knowledgeable, and for me that is no excuse for intentional ignorance at any level.

So I tend to use a mix of stream of consciousness and logic and experience and integrity as to my personal experience to deliver as much depth and breadth of communication as I can, in the full knowledge that I am unlikely to succeed to the depth I desire. And I am persistent!

For me it makes a lot of sense to investigate to the greatest depth I am able, what classes of things are predictable, and what are not, and in any specific situation to use that information to make the best guess I can as to the probabilities involved around all of the very many levels of uncertainty present. Sometimes things are quite predictable, like computer circuits, and sometimes things are almost completely unpredictable, like the weather at any particular place and time.

Having some reasonable idea of what one is capable of influencing, and what one needs simply to accept whatever happens, seems to be a big part of wisdom and responsibility. It seems to me that many of the heuristics that our cultural systems supply us with by default to determine such things have been sculpted by a select few in the interests of that few, and to the detriment of the majority.

It seems clear to me that any human being capable of speech has roughly the same mental capacity as everyone else, it is just that our cultural systems tend to direct most of that capacity into particular ways of thinking that are more in the interests of a small group than in the interests of the individual doing the thinking or humanity more generally.

So I am all for knowing oneself to the greatest degree possible, and for me that means going far beyond simplistic classifications, and accepting that every human being is complex beyond the ability of any human being to recognise, yet most are trapped by habit and unexamined assumptions into accepting a reality that offers far less than their potential.

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Fair work

24 Feb ’15 ~QofDay~ Fair Work/Life

What is a fair life, what is fair work?

Like OM – more questions?

What is fair?

Is restricting the freedom and creativity of people fair? If not, how do we justify the education system?

Is the very notion of work fair?

Why should any person be required to do anything just to get enough to eat and to live safely?

Why can’t our automated systems simply deliver the real material needs of everyone, without all this advertising and sales to make us buy stuff that most of us don’t really want or need?

Is it fair that some people get to send other people off to war, and call it patriotism, while in reality it is all about making money for a very small sector?

What does fair mean?

What does freedom mean?

What does respect for life and liberty actually mean?

How do we deliver fairness, in a world where we can extend the lives of everyone indefinitely?

What might fair look like to someone who is 1,000 years old, how about 1,000,000 years old, how about 1,000,000,000 years old, how about 10,000,000,000 years old?

What significance might our little lives and their concerns have to such individuals?

Does the concept of fairness have any real meaning?

(Odd that I should ask this question, given that much of my life has been about being fair.)

[followed by]

Hi Paul, Kathy, FOS, Mendy and others

Like OM – hope you secure a connection in some way. I do a thing here where three households contribute to the cost of maintaining the highest speed connection available, and we share it. Maybe you can arrange something similar with neighbours, I don’t know your situation that specifically. Our case is special in the sense that two of the households are so far away from town that they cannot get a service directly from the service provider, so we do long distance point to point links from our house on a hilltop.

In respect of what you wrote re fair, I appreciate something of the depth and complexity of the consideration you have given the topic, and to me some of the assumptions underlying that interpretation do not seem to hold up, close, but not quite.
And I acknowledge that all knowledge contains heuristic elements – things that may not conform to any theory but work in practice often enough to be useful – so this is not any sort of total dismissal, and more a few steps down a path towards understanding that seems to me to be a path without end.

Exchange is what we have based most of society on for most of human history.
Now we have a different option. Now we have the option of using automated machinery to deliver all of the essential goods and services to everyone.
That option gives us the real opportunity to go beyond exchange.
It creates the real possibility of doing what we love to do, provided that what we love to do works within a context of respect for life and liberty.

In such a world, we are all free to create whatever we responsibly choose.

I am clear, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that such a world is far preferable to the world that most of us experience today, which despite all of the neat toys, does not deliver us a sense of security, a sense that we all have a future of security and freedom.
I am equally clear that no system of markets can ever have universal abundance as a natural outcome, there are just too many meta level incentives within a market system to destroy any abundance and turn it into a scarcity that can be marketed.

So for me, future security requires of us that we go beyond markets, beyond exchange in any sense, and into a set of systems that encourages each and every one of us to explore what we see as interesting and possible and of contribution (to ourselves and others).

It seems clear to me that the sense of fairness that we have has both genetic and cultural components, and other components that are related to the various levels of awareness we may have attained. There is a sense in which cooperation requires some sort of set of attendant strategies to ensure that cheats do not overwhelm cooperation. Games theory mathematics dictate that some sort of strategy is required for this at every new level of cooperation, and the idea of fairness is one strategy (of what appears to be an infinite class of possible strategies) that can fulfil this function at many different levels.

The word work has come to have such a close ties to money that I prefer not to use it.
For me, the idea seems to be expressed more clearly by saying that we enable people to contribute in whatever fashion they responsibly choose.

I don’t see any evidence for a universal brain in the cosmos (which isn’t to say it isn’t there, just that I see nothing in the evidence sets I have available to indicate that it does, and those evidence sets are substantial in respect of evolutionary genetics).

The idea of complete doesn’t seem powerful in respect of people. The idea of acceptance that we are as we are does seem to be powerful.

I agree substantially with Mendy that what we see, what we experience in life, is very largely determined by our choice of contexts and interpretations and actions.

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23 Feb ’15 ~QofDay~ Uncontained Joy

Can you describe a situation in your life when you’ve experienced such a joy that you’ve been unable to contain it?

Yeah – but it might be a bit much for some people, so I won’t get too graphic.

Without doubt the greatest joy I have ever experienced has been having sex with Ailsa.

There have been occasions when that joy was so far beyond anything I had previously imagined possible.

There is a joy to mastering a new skill, or a new concept, or to attaining a new level of awareness, and none of them has come close to great sex – to the total surrender of two individuals in love.

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22 Feb ’15 ~QofDay~ READING

In your opinion, which are the five ‘must read’ books and why?

Second time – last one disappeared on me just as I finished the last sentence.

1 Selfish Gene – Richard Dawkins – A powerful treatment of evolution, how it works, in both the realm of genes and the realm of memes (ideas/behaviours), and also powerful for detailing not just the role of competition, but also the profound role of cooperation in the emergence of new levels of complexity.

2 Goedel, Escher, Bach – Eternal Golden Braid – Doug Hofstadter – a powerful treatment of perhaps the most profound piece of logic ever created – Kurt Goedel’s incompleteness theorem.

3 A history of economic thought – Eric Roll – a relative small yet very readable digest of the subject.

4 Relativity; The special and general theory – Albert Einstein – tends to shake up the classical notion of time.

5 A critique of Pure Reason – Immanuel Kant – many errors with the hindsight of the datasets we have available today, yet still a profound work, worthy of study.

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