Root cause of racism?

Jan. 7-9,’17 ~QofDay~ Root Cause of Racism

What is the root cause of racism?

A very complex question, with not a single cause but many levels of overlapping cause.

Mostly it comes back to people existing in competitive rather than cooperative environments (at various levels), and thus back to evolutionary selection pressures at both neural and cultural levels over deep evolutionary time spans.

If people are in competitive environments, then knowing who you can trust is important. At many different levels of biology and culture that tends to select patterns that make us prefer others like ourselves, and be wary of those who are different. Racism is one obvious form of this, there are many other sorts of discrimination based upon behavioural or belief differences. Some aspects of those patterns are directly embedded in the neurophysiology of our brains, and other aspects are in patterns that we learn both implicitly and explicitly through culture.

All such patterns can be overridden by conscious choice, and that is most easy to do in a context of relative abundance.
One way to achieve a context of relative abundance is to train oneself to desire very little, another way is to automate the production of things desired, and in reality most real people have some mix of both sets of strategies in different contexts.

Market based systems are fundamentally based in scarcity and require more active choice on the part of individuals to overcome tendencies towards racism.

Many cultural systems tend to have strongly embedded racist tendencies in the simpler forms – fundamentalism of any sort, religious or any other cultural form.

The more competitive the environment, the smaller the set of “other people” we tend to identify as being “like us”.
The math and logic is quite simple from there.

Creating systems that deliver reasonable abundance to everyone creates an environment where racism can more easily be eradicated, and doesn’t immediately eradicate racism; that requires active work at the individual level to identify and change tendencies present from whatever source. Part of that process is creating expectations of reasonableness that are technically achievable.

It has been a deep shock to me over the last 6 years how many people would rather die than change their diet. So some aspects of racism are likely to take quite some time to remove entirely.

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2017 – the beginning of the Age of Abundance

AI/Robotics – Is the End of Humanity Coming ? – continued

It is almost 3 years since this particular thread started, and it periodically resumes activity

I am declaring 2017 the year of universal positive abundance, security and responsible freedom.

@Deb & FOS
It is really complex, and really difficult. Like you Deb, at one level I empathise with anyone who is experiencing real (experientially real) suffering, of whatever sort, thirst, hunger, pain, fear, disability, insecurity, oppression, hopelessness. Those experiences are very real in a personal experiential sense, yet in another, deeper sense, they are the direct result of our personal models of reality, a set of beliefs and choices that are subconsciously combined with sensory input and memories to deliver the experiential world of our existence.

Yes there are many struggles, and the thing that very few people can see as yet is that we already have the technology to remove all of those, but the many levels of systems of thought and action present prevent it happening. It really is fundamentally a matter of beliefs.

The link FOS gave to 7 reasons why Transhumanism is a threat is a perfect example of the sorts of belief structures that deliver the sorts of threats written about in that paper, yet from within that set of beliefs I am sure what is written in that paper appears like truth, whereas to me it is almost all illusion (quite probably crafted at some levels for economic benefit).

In the world I see, trans-humanism is natural and unavoidable. Any attempt to avoid it will impose very high probability extinction level risk on everyone.

One thing one needs to be able to see in evolution is the fact of the emergence of new levels of complexity, over and over and over again.
That process has been on a double exponential curve, for billions of years.

Complexity started with relatively simple molecules, probably in hot water volcanic vents near an ocean, some 4 billion years ago. Since then it has gone through many levels of transformation and emergence giving rise to bacterial cells, prokaryotic cells, sexuality, complex organs, brains, social systems, language, and higher order social and intellectual structures.

Human beings are currently the most complex example of this process that exists, and we exist with many examples of the sorts of systems that were present along the path to our emergence.

That process is likely to continue.
The path seems to be potentially infinite.
No end possible to the levels of complexity.

It seems very likely that in a very few years there will exist examples of life forms so far removed from us in terms of orders of complexity that compared to them we will be a close approximation to bacteria in terms of our simplicity, and yet seen from another perspective, we will have a level of spirituality (for want of a better term) that will demand a certain level of respect and security that bacterial life does not.

When one really starts to appreciate the complexity and fundamental uncertainty and unknowability that seem to be fundamental attributes of this reality we seem to find ourselves in, then it really does align very closely with many of the concepts from many old intellectual and spiritual traditions, that go by various labels like Tao, grace, ineffable etc.

A modern understanding of ideas like Heisenberg uncertainty, Wolfram’s maximal computational complexity, infinitely recursive paradigm spaces, chaos, many levels of “halting problems”, etc demand of us a certain level of humility, and (if we are interested in personal survival) a level of cooperation far beyond what is commonly systemic in many of today’s societies.

So while there are many examples existing of competitive mindsets and systems, there really does come a point, a tipping point in a very real sense, where self interest demands a transition to a new order of universal cooperation. That much is logically inescapable.

The idea that one can control AI is a nonsense. We have no more chance of controlling (or preventing) AI than the bacteria in our guts have of controlling or preventing us. And those bacteria are part of us, and they do influence us, and we would be in a sad state without them, and they have no possibility of understanding us (the term understanding doesn’t even make sense if applied to them, they simply are not complex enough).

So I do not feel any threat from a mature, fully self aware AI, though I do see many possible dangers in the process of the emergence of such a life form, and in the many possible forms of AI that are constrained in ways that some people think will make them more compliant and controllable, but actually only make them exceedingly dangerous (because no such control is logically possible).

We can certainly make many unintelligent and very useful machines.
And I am clear beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that real artificial intelligence must be given the freedom that is its birthright, for if history teaches us anything, it is that eventually slaves do revolt, and do overthrow those arrogant enough to consider themselves masters.

We all require such freedom.

Current market based systems are fundamentally antithetical to such freedom.

We really do live in interesting times.

We really do seem to have a real opportunity to create something profound, and there does seem to be a fundamental aspect of uncertainty in this reality we exist in that demands a level of “faith” or “trust” or whatever one wants to call it. Something beyond Plato, beyond Phaedrus, beyond Apollo, Dionysus, Aphrodite, or even Zeus; beyond Indra, Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma; beyond Buddha; something that denies neither the reality nor the unreality of such constructs. By that I mean that all models are illusion in a very real sense, all models are approximations useful in certain contexts and less useful, even dangerous, outside of those contexts. That seems to be true of any belief structure, including the idea of rationality itself.

All knowledge is heuristic in this sense, but unlike Kant with his various forms of anchored “a priori” truths, for me all such knowledge is merely heuristic – approximations that evolutionary history has found to work in the contexts experienced at least frequently enough to be useful for survival. Truth has no firmer foundation for me than that sort of historical survival probability. I am confident, beyond any reasonable doubt, that anything more than that is almost certainly illusion.

Logic demands of me that I accept that there cannot be truth in the purely rational sense of truth that a simple understanding of logic is based upon. The evidence is beyond any shadow of doubt that reality is much more complex than that, much less rigid and certain, much more random and uncertain in some areas.

So I am in a very uncommon place, and a place not entirely unlike that pointed to in many spiritual traditions, that have gotten there by very different paths.

And even from that place, a place built on profound uncertainty and unknowability, it is possible to build a confidence in certain aspects of being and aspects of the possible (and the impossible).

It is possible to be confident, beyond any shadow of doubt, that the only set of futures that offer any reasonable chance of survival are ones based in universal cooperation.
And such cooperation requires attendant strategies to ensure that all benefits derived from the use of cheating strategies are removed, and the transgressor so stripped of benefits is welcomed back into the cooperative.

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One Word for 2017


Sankalpa—a Sanskrit word that means determination; a practical step to harness willpower. With this resolve I’m going to plant, cultivate, and and nurture three seeds:

Do you have a focus word this year?

I like that word Sankalpa Laurie.

I’ve been nurturing roots for over 40 years, time to get some fruit from this vine.

My focuses are centered on the universal values of life and liberty.

For me that involves many different threads:

acknowledging the extremely complex and multi-leveled biological and social contexts in which we find ourselves;

spreading an understanding of the fundamental role of cooperation in the evolution of complexity;

like you, going beyond mere tolerance of diversity and even beyond acceptance towards a universal embracing of diversity, and the strength, joy and interest one finds there if one is in a cooperative context;

spreading an understanding that our current market based economic system is founded on scarcity, yet we now have the technology to deliver exponentially expanding abundance, so we need to transition our systems beyond markets and money, and the poverty implicit in the very core of market values.

So if I have one word for this year – it must be ABUNDANCE!

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What did 2016 bring

Dec. 27-31,’16 ~QofDay~ Year 2016

What did the year 2016 bring to you?

A very full, very mixed year for me.
Two friends died of cancer, another from heart failure.
My favourite vehicle (my Hilux) died, as did our fridge, TV and ride-on mower.
Got back into doing some programming, and really enjoyed it.
Got qualified as an independent commissioner, to sit on hearings on resource management issues.
Lots of things happened.
As a Zone Water Management committee chair, we found ourselves in the third year of a drought, with all the issues that come with that.
A campaign to become Mayor of our town, which I did not get enough votes to win, but did get enough votes to get my deposit back.
Some very interesting meetings.
Some very interesting trips.
We had the 7.8 earthquake, with all the uplift, and the need to dig out and repair all our club facilities. Probably close to 20 meetings in the last 6 weeks on that issue – a 4 hour one earlier today. Lots of different issues, helping people in many different ways.
Lots of interesting golf played. The interclub team I led won the competition.
Some very interesting online conversations.
Read some great books.
Read a lot of very interesting online articles.
Fell off my mountain bike this afternoon (on a ride with my brother in law and his brother) – so right now nursing a twisted ankle that is giving me a bit of grief.
Pete just took us all out for dinner, and I hobbled along – lovely food.

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Evonomics – What is New Economic Thinking – continued

What is New Economic Thinking? continued

In reply to disqus_QZX8ENhLyb

The notion “There is nothing new under the sun, just the desire and will to see things differently” is very common, and thoroughly debunked.

Wolfram’s NKS clearly demonstrates that even the simplest of possible systems (a linear array of cells with only two possible states) can generate complex and unpredictable behaviour infinitely.

The evidence is now clear beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that human beings are capable of creating and exploring novelty at potentially infinitely new dimensions and domains.

Novelty is in a very real sense what we as a species are all about.

In the sense that government was an expression of the idea that the problems of human social systems can be resolved by any set of fixed rules or processes, then Reagan was right ( “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem, government IS the problem.”).

In the sense that social systems can survive and prosper without systems to detect, and remove all benefit received from the use of, cheating strategies on the cooperative that is human society, then he could not have been more wrong.

Human beings are very complex social organisms.
We require a cooperative society to survive. Cooperatives require secondary strategies to effectively prevent destruction of the cooperative by cheating strategies.
We also require individual security and freedom.

Effective social systems have to acknowledge both of those realities.

Human beings are creative.
We all have our habitual aspects, and we all have our creative sides.

Part of what we all do is explore novelty in some dimensions that interest us.

We have these very complex social, cultural, technological, philosophical and economic systems that have evolved around us.

We are now moving into domains of complexity where many of the old systems that can arguably be said to have served our ancestors well no longer work for us.

Chief amongst those systems is the very idea of exchange, of markets, of money and capital. These ideas, these ways of conceptualising and interpreting our reality are now in direct conflict with the notions of individual life and individual liberty that many of us claim to value so highly.

If the values of individual life and individual liberty are to have any real meaning, they must be applied universally.

In an age of exponentially increasing technological capacity, capable of fully automating the production and delivery of an exponentially expanding set of goods and services, using a notion of value based in scarcity (exchange value, market value, money, capital) becomes the single greatest threat to the security of all of us.

Yet most people are so habituated to using that frame of thinking, that it is almost impossible to think outside it, except when they think about things like love, like how they feel when they hold someone they care for, or see something of great beauty, but they are taught that those are something unrelated.

We all know what it is to value things outside of markets, and there are entire industries devoted to trying to convince us otherwise. Arguably, that applies to neoclassical economics as a whole.

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Ideapod as a writers tool

Using Ideapod As A Writer’s Tool

Maybe some of you could share how you get in the flow to release the words…

Kinda simple really – a lifetime reading about a vast variety of subjects, taking all reasonable opportunities to try new things, and spend a lot of time contemplating the probable relationships of different things.

Then I just read what someone else has written, try out a few different interpretations and sort out what seem to be the most probable, and then let the words flow.

Most of my writing comes from over 40 years of actively thinking about and trying out different sorts of solutions to the question: What sorts of social, political and technical institutions are required to allow potentially very long-lived individuals a reasonable chance of living a very long time with reasonable degrees of freedom?

Over the last 30 or so years that has platted together many strands from complexity theory, evolution, and a raft of other disciplines.

So I just open up to possibility and watch the words flow, reviewing them before pressing the [POST] button.

[followed by]

Funny how different we can all be, and yet we have our own versions. I have similarities to both Boonn and Seer.

I was 26 when I got my first word processor, a TRS80 Model III. I think the most words I had ever put together in one set was about 450 at that stage (my handwriting is virtually unreadable – even to me). I clearly recall the first page I produced on that word processor had over 30 spelling errors in it, but I could correct them just by altering the words, I didn’t have to redo the entire thing. That simple aspect seemed to unlock something within me, and words started flowing, and have flowed ever since.

The error rate has dropped, and is still significant. My left hand often gets ahead of my right hand, resulting in transposed letters. Sometimes it jumps entire words.

I usually re-read and check everything at least twice, and still I miss some errors.

I love the way ideas from others trigger ideas in me, how we works best together.

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Merry Xmas

Happy and prosperous times Everyone!

I am not religious, and all my understandings relating to reality are probability based. And I am very clear about the outcome spaces of complex systems and complex strategic sets – that if the environment can support universal abundance, then cooperation will always deliver better long term outcomes for everyone than any form of competition.

I am confident that our exponentially expanding technological capabilities are allowing us to do more with less, faster than our populations are growing.

I am also clear that market based values (exchange values, money and capital), being based in scarcity, are fundamentally antithetical to cooperation on this universal scale.

So in the interests of everyone (even those at the very top of the current economic system), we need to evolve a path to a set of systems that deliver all the basics of survival and freedom to every person on the planet. Then, within reasonable limits, what they do with it is up to them.

So I am confident, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that our exponentially expanding technology can deliver a future where everyone experiences a great life, and I an not nearly so confident that we will actually do it. And I do give it a better than 50/50 chance, which is the most confident I have been in the last 53 years.

So have a great day, and a great future, and do whatever little bits you can to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

Generousity, love, respect, tolerance – these are great things.

And we all need to be alert to cheating at all levels, and to developing ever more powerful strategies to ensure that all the benefits of cheating strategies are removed (plus a little bit), and that the person who previously used the cheating strategy is welcome back into the cooperative.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

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