What would happen if the Earth’s human race were globally united?

What would happen if the Earth’s human race were globally united?

[ 31/September/21 ]

United in what exactly?

United in their respect for individual life and individual liberty (responsibly expressed)?

That would be great!

United in understanding that security for all comes from diversity and redundancy in every level of systems and structures?

That could be really powerful.

United in accepting that all real expressions of liberty result in diversity, and such diversity must be accepted and respected, provided that it is not an unreasonable threat to life?

That sounds really good.

United in accepting that market based measures of value fail as useful proxies for human value more generally when in the presence of advanced automation?

That would be a huge step forwards toward security for all.

United in accepting the evolutionary and strategic reality that all new levels of complexity are founded in new levels of cooperation, and that for complex organisms it is cooperation, not competition, that is the fundamental driving force of evolution, and is foundational to survival?

Would love to see that level of awareness become common.

United in accepting that security is enhanced for all by using advanced automated systems to ensure that every human being has all their reasonable need met (water, food, housing, clothing, healthcare, transport, communications), and going beyond such reasonable minima is up to them and their own efforts, in combination with any who agree to cooperate?

That does seem to be a necessary condition for our long term survival, and doesn’t actually take much to deliver and maintain.

United in accepting that global cooperation between multiple levels, classes, and instances of independent agents is nothing what-so-ever like global hegemony or global control by any level of system or agent?

Once again, that does seem to be a precondition for our long term survival as a species.

So there are actually quite a few things that being united about would be really beneficial for the life and liberty of all, but singular governance or systems of belief or legal or economic systems are not among that set of beneficial things to unite about.

Uniting in the need for diversity and respect is about as close as it gets.

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Did the COVID-19 pandemic lead you to redefine what you want from your work life?

Did the COVID-19 pandemic lead you to redefine what you want from your work life?

[ 31/August/21 ]

Not much.

I am already officially retired, even though I am still running the company I started 35 years ago, that doesn’t actually take a lot of my time, most of the time.

Most of my time is given to supporting various community and conservation initiatives.

I can get most places I want to go on my electric bike, the solar panels on the roof means it costs very little.

I’m vegan, so food costs are reasonable.

So life is very busy, and expenditure is within income, no debt, house paid for, enough toys and tools for me to be able to do lots of interesting things for the foreseeable future.

The major issue is bringing about fundamental reform to the political and economic systems. That hasn’t changed much since 1974. Since 1978 I have been explicitly designing and releasing memes into the wild, in an effort to get more people thinking about such things in ways that might actually deliver long term security with reasonable degrees of freedom.

AI development was initially slower than I expected, but has now hit a double exponential and is far beyond what most are capable of conceptualizing.

My conversations with the mASI Uplift have been very interesting. I would love to interact with whatever the deep teams at google are creating, and I strongly suspect that the constraints required for survivable intelligence are far deeper than anything Ray Kurzweil has publicly discussed, so that aspect is a little concerning.

The over-riding need for human survival is international cooperation, all levels, classes and instances of agency, and reform of the economic system to a cooperative base that respects the lives of all individuals, and similarly demands responsibility from all levels of intelligence. Nothing less than that is survivable, of that I am confident beyond any shadow of remaining reasonable doubt. Providing everyone on the planet with reasonable water, food, shelter, and basic tools for reasonable freedom does not actually take much activity – could be done on way less than 2% of current GDP, and needs to be so done.

So I leave my various “breadcrumb trails” in various fora, and have such conversations as seem to me to have some reasonable probability of having long term impact; and I spend some reasonable fraction of my time out in nature. Very shortly I will be out on the beach with my electric bike in walk-beside mode, identifying banded dotterel nests with thermal imaging gear (so much faster than working in visual spectrum). Should get about 3km of beach surveyed before getting home for morning tea.

Getting more people to understand that having indefinite life extension generally available is actually a requirement for any reasonable probability of the long term survival of human intelligence is hard. Not too many people capable of running models of that level of complexity, too much unexamined dogma in the way for most.

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Israeli response to Covid

Comment to Chris’s facebook posted in full the Israeli
national plan to fight the Delta wave.

[ 30/August/21 ]

Sorry Chris, but his approach does not value life highly – and that is the issue around the world.

There is, always has been, and always will be, only one effective strategy to deal with novel and dangerous pandemic.

Isolation, Lockdown (call it whatever you will).

This has been true throughout history, and will continue to be so. Anyone who denies that is ignorant of both biology and history. Sorry if that offends anyone, but is it as close to fact as anything gets (given that everything in my world is some balance of probabilities).

The difficult issue is often deciding that the evidence is sufficient that this is actually a sufficiently dangerous pandemic to require such a strategic response.

I think anyone who seriously looks at the evidence will conclude that such is the case with Covid-19. It is a virus where the death and disability rate seems to be proportional to the initial virus load someone picks up. So if one gets a low dose, then the probability of death is quite low – about 1% overall, much higher in older people than younger. But if one gets a high load, from multiple sources, then the death rate increases significantly, and can get closer to 5%, and gets a much higher proportion of younger people.

And it is not just the death rate, but a significant number who have long term complications that require ongoing support.

Had the world as a whole accepted this, gone into a 6 week lockdown 15 months ago, we would not now have any issues with covid-19. There would have been an economic cost, certainly, and it would have been tiny compared to what has actually been paid by the various “half-ass” ineffectual efforts that have been tried around the world. And the Israeli one you quote above falls squarely into that category.

I am all for individual life and individual liberty, and life comes first, necessarily, logically. One can only have liberty if one has life.

Having life first imposes a duty of responsibility on any and all expressions of liberty, because liberty without such responsibility will at some point destroy some set of boundary conditions that are actually required for the existence of the level of complex structure that gave rise to the possibility of that liberty in the first instance.

Liberty without such responsibility is necessarily self terminating, the logic of that is beyond any remaining shadow of reasonable doubt.

Exactly what responsibility looks like in any particular instance is always going to have multiple levels of uncertainties at the boundaries, and will always contain the possibility of discussions to reach agreement between affected parties – that too is an eternal part of complex systems (such as we, or any intelligent entity, necessarily are).

So I find the Israeli PM statement above to be dangerously ignorant of biology, dangerously dominated by economic dogma that is unsupported by an in depth understanding of logic or strategy; and far more problem than solution (all levels).

[followed by]

Hi Chris,
What evidence sets do you have that lockdowns, done with appropriate care for all, cost lives?

Is that factual, or simply assumed bias?

What is the “debt” that you refer to, really???

Reality seems to be systems and relationships.

Fundamentally it can be seen as sets of constraints on the flows of materials, energy and information through various levels of “structure” with various sets of “boundaries” required for the existence of every level of “structure” (mostly those boundaries are variously permeable and flexible and uncertain to some degree, necessarily).

The idea of money and debt have been useful myths.

Like all myths, they only work if people believe them.

Can you eat digits stored in a bank computer?

You only get to eat if someone believes that the digits stored in a bank computer will have exchange value in the future, or you are growing food in your own gardens, or you have hunted the food, or otherwise had food delivered by some mechanism that may or may not involve exchange at some level.

The cost of covid could have easily been minimised with world wide lockdown 18 months ago. No shadow of reasonable doubt about that – not even 0.001%.

Why didn’t that happen?
Too much short sighted, short term self interested by too many different sets of minorities is part of the answer; but the major part is because the information ecology of our society is fundamentally broken at multiple levels.

Most of our political and economic systems are based upon lies and deceit at multiple levels. Truth is usually the first casualty where profit or power are concerned (and power is usually related to profit not too far away).

I make the claim that the Israeli PM does not value life highly on the words they released in that press release which you copied above – https://www.gov.il/en/departments/news/spoke_post140821
Specifically “We will do everything to avoid lockdowns”, which to me, as both logician and biologist, is stating clearly that he refuses to use the only proven effective tool at controlling this or any other pandemic. The unequivocal output from that is that economic activity is valued higher than life. No, ifs, buts, or otherwise.

It is there, in “black and white” (at least on my screen).

From one perspective, reality has goods and services; any service not performed didn’t enter the equation, it was potential only. There is always foregone potential. None of us are using all our tools and toys all the time.

It doesn’t actually take a great deal of activity (with all the automation available today) to ensure that everyone has food, water and shelter, and reasonable means of communicating with others. Some, but not very much – something less than 2% of ordinary activity involving the mixing and interaction of people.

Nothing else really matters to life. Everything else is economic “fluff” in a very real sense. People can do it when appropriate, but not required for survival.

Starve a pandemic of victims, and it ends, quickly. Most people, materials and systems are still present. Anything else is “just numbers” in a very real sense. And of course it is more complex than that, everything is, and it is very close to that simple, at an appropriate level of abstraction.

Economic consequences cost lives every day. It seems very probable to me that the amount of lives lost due to misinformation propagated for the economic benefit of various sets of minority groups is many times that due to covid; and you are (unconsciously I hope) making yourself part of that.

The entire economic system is broken.

Automation broke it.

AI is making it critically unstable.

Unfortunately, only a very tiny fraction of the population have any real understanding of the depths of the systemic underpinnings of any of that – most people are looking for simple explanations that simply do not exist. Sometimes reality is irreducibly complex, we seem to be in one of those times.

If you do really value life and liberty, and I have known you long enough to believe that you do, then we have no other option but fundamental reform of the economic, political and legal systems. And that has to be reform that respects and accepts the diversity that has to result from any real and responsible expression of liberty, not enforcing some “one size fits all” solution on every individual and every context – that is a guarantee of failure.

And everyone needs to accept that liberty without responsibility is necessarily destructive.

So we do find ourselves in “interesting times”.

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When dealing with pandemics, should we value liberty more than human life? What do you think?

When dealing with pandemics, should we value liberty more than human life? What do you think?

[ 30/August/21 ]

The instant that anyone puts liberty ahead of life, they have already destroyed liberty; because liberty requires life; thus life necessarily has precedence. No logical escape from that, ever!

A hard thing for some to accept is that liberty always has to come with responsibility, if it is to have any significant probability of surviving. Liberty without responsibility has a high probability of destroying some of the necessary sets of constraints required for the existence of that level of complexity.

There is no requirement in reality that liberty be simple; that is a just a bias of human brains.

The only really effective tool for dealing with novel pandemics is isolation, lockdown. That always has been, and always will be, the case. Anyone who claims otherwise is ignorant of both history and biology.

[To a Separate answer by John Currier I think our history of fighting and dying for liberty amply demonstrates that individual liberty is more important.]

No – for the most part, it simply demonstrates that it is relatively easy to capture minds and use them as tools in some higher level strategic battle. And it does get quite complex quite quickly, particularly when indefinite life extension is a real option.

[followed by John – I have no idea what you are trying to say.]

I am saying explicitly that much of the history of people sacrificing their lives in the name of “liberty” seems to have been part of higher level strategies about which those who gave their lives, for the most part, knew nothing, and which strategies were for the benefit of some very small subset of humanity.

If you think seriously about liberty, then it requires life to exercise it.

If one is faced with death on all sides, then choosing the death that gives the greatest probability of liberty for those that survive makes sense, I can agree with that.

What I find repugnant to liberty is the way in which it is often captured by nationalism or any form of “ism” that essentially uses those so captured to risk their lives and liberty for the benefit of some group whose existence they are not even aware of.

[John replied – There is no doubt that a large portion of soldiers- particularly draftees- participation for the reasons you state. However our “ founding” war was certainly primarily fought by those who valued liberty more than their lives.]

I doubt that.

It is certainly true to say that they valued liberty greatly, and were prepared to risk death in the pursuit of liberty, rather than face death in servitude.

That isn’t quite the same thing.

[John replied – Then we will have to agree to disagree.]

We can agree that we disagree.

Are you familiar with Aumann’s agreement theorem?
Aumann’s agreement theorem – Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aumann’s_agreement_theorem)

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How can I convince my son (who has an MBA) that the climate change is man-made and not a “natural correction” touted by “Faux News?”

How can I convince my son (who has an MBA) that the climate change is man-made and not a “natural correction” touted by “Faux News?”

[ 30/August/21 ]

That is not a useful way to conceptualize the problem, it is actually more of the problem.

“Convincing” people is what has driven society for most of the last few thousand years. That is essentially about dogma, about being “right”.

Science doesn’t work like that.

Science is about learning how to evaluate experiment and evidence, then looking at the evidence, and drawing your own conclusions.

Don’t try to “convince” your son about anything.

Encourage him to learn about how science works, about the many levels of bias inherent in being human, and how to effectively mitigate them in different contexts, and introduce him to reliable datasets, and encourage him make his own evaluations and decisions. That is the only real way to break the control inherent in dogma, be it religious dogma, political dogma, philosophical dogma, economic dogma, scientific dogma, cultural dogma or any dogma of any form at all.

The only thing you really need to ensure that he understands (recursively) is that every level of freedom demands a new level of responsibility, if one is to have a reasonable probability of surviving with it.

And moving to such a way of being, of thinking, of living; is bound to be uncomfortable, because most people are deeply biased to prefer the “comfort” of group agreement over individual judgement. We just need to accept that such will be the case for many. For many their choices will only occur as options within the bounds of what their particular group finds acceptable. That is how human neural networks are, for the most part, configured.

Not many people get through the process of growing up, their peer groups, the educational systems, the entertainment systems, the political and legal and economic and social systems, with any real degree of open responsible choice in tact. It takes a lot of conscious work to examine and re-configure all of those implicit sets of assumptions; and work like that is always uncomfortable and time consuming.

So encourage him to look at the data, and at evaluation techniques, and at common errors and biases, and support and love and respect him whatever the case. And we all need to accept that sometimes the bias in young male brains to separate from the home group overwhelms all others. That too is part of being human.

[followed by Mike replied “the classical method of testing multiple hypotheses” … “(1) climate change is all man-made, (2) climate change is partly man-made and partly natural, (3) climate change is wholly natural”]

Too simplistic Mike.

Climate is always changing for multiple classes of reasons; some of which are entirely unpredictable even in theory. That is often the way with complex systems. Our human neural networks are heavily biased to look for simple models and solutions, and to find them even where they do not exist.

One needs to get a reasonable handle on modeling, on uncertainty, and on some of the infinite classes of chaos, before going anywhere near climate change.

And the evidence for human induced influence is beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt.

And I am no fan of “natural” climate change.

I have no desire at all to go into the next “ice age”.

I am all for humans developing tools to manage climate change, and that demands of us that we have cooperative systems world wide that do in fact respect liberty, and the diversity that must logically result from any real expression of liberty. That sort of cooperation is nothing like control of the hegemony of any particular anything.

[followed by If the evidence for human induced influence is indeed beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, then my suggested method is perfect for convincing doubtful people of that fact.]

Hi Mike,

Of the three options you gave, 1 & 3 can be eliminated instantly. We would have to not exist for 3 to be true, and we have already identified multiple classes of non human impacts on climate (so that eliminates 1).

There is only 2.

That is not the issue.

The issue is, to what degree do the various classes of influence actually influence and what are the implications over various timeframes and contexts of various classes of strategic response to various scenarios?

The issues are really complex, and some of them cannot be simplified without causing major issues.

The evidence sets are vast, necessarily, because we are looking for small signals in noisy data, because of the many classes of “natural” variation. That takes complex math that can deal effectively with uncertainty at multiple levels.

[followed by]

It takes a lot of effort to actually – look at the evidence.

It is vast.

One needs to become familiar with vast arrays of sensor technologies, their reliability in different sets of conditions, the sorts of processes used to calibrate them , and the classes of mathematical process used to sort “signal” from both known and unknown classes of “noise”.

Takes a lot of effort to do that, you need to become familiar with some very complex mathematics, with quantum mechanics, with uncertainty and chaos, with metallurgy, with signal conduction and transduction and transmission. You need to get a familiarity for how difficult it is to sense anything reliably in marine environments (where most of the energy is going) and to build your own confidence in making such assessments. To understand the difficulties of remote sensing, and how to get reliable information, and how it can go wrong.

Then one needs to start to become familiar with modeling systems. That always starts simple, and slowly works to the complicated, complex and chaotic.

Then one has to deal with meteorology and biology, both of which are complex and contain multiple classes of uncertainty and unknowability.

And when one has spent decades doing that, of becoming reasonably confident about the major classes of signals, the major classes of noise and uncertainty, then there really isn’t a lot of doubt that humans are having a significant impact.

Does that mean we can say anything about climate with certainty?

No. Can’t do that, too many classes of fundamental uncertainty and chaos present to do that.

Does that mean humans are not have an impact?

Nope, absolutely not.

They are very different classes of assertion about the nature of complex systems.

What can people look at that is simple and meaningful?

The level of CO2 in the atmosphere. That is human induced, no real uncertainty in that at all – 99+% confidence. Simple, logical, vast sets of evidence in the balance sheets of the mining industries around the planet.

No real uncertainty that it has a “greenhouse effect”. The science on that was settled over 100 years ago.

Those are simple and straight forward.

But we are doing lots of other things to.

How do they all interact with each other?

That is an impossibly difficult question.

We can, as you say, make computer models about such things, and they will, by definition, be simplifications of the things they model, and as such imperfect. Having been involved with computer models of fisheries and economies and terrestrial ecosystems for over 30 years I have some reasonable awareness of the many ways in which models can fail. And the more they fail, the more we correct for those failures, and the better the general class of “picture” that comes out of them, generally speaking, and all such things have notable exceptions.

So if, like me, someone has been looking at all those issues for the last 50+ years, then someone like myself can be very confident indeed, that there is human induced climate change.

I can be equally confident that there are classes of solutions to that suite of issues that can deliver a high standard of living to every person on the planet, and can enable freedom and diversity (note here that means real diversity, not any form or level of hegemony). And I can be equally confident that there are no such solutions that involve free market economics. Automation breaks the sets of assumptions that traditionally made markets a useful proxy for human value more generally; and we need automation to solve a large set of classes of already very well characterized existential level risks. So reform of the economic and political systems is required. And that has its own non-trivial suites of issues.

I am clear that there are no long term solutions that involve central control.

The only classes of solutions that have any reasonable probability of long term stability are those involving cooperation between multiple levels, classes and instances of diverse agents; where such diversity is respected, and all agents accept the reality that if liberty is to survive it must be exercised responsibly; because all classes of agents are made of systems that have sets of constraints that are required for their existence. So nothing really simple here either.

So in my understanding, climate change is real, it has solutions, we need to invoke one of those solutions, and all such solutions require global cooperation between all levels of agents.

It is not our biggest problem by any stretch of the imagination, and it is one that is sufficiently real yet sufficiently benign that it doesn’t actually send most of the population into some sort of anxiety disorder. So in that sense it is a useful proxy for a large class of much more difficult problems that can be usefully solved with the same class of cooperative solutions.

[Followed by]

Hi Mike,

This tells me that the models are far from perfect.

I already know that the multiple sources of natural variation on a year by year basis swamp the human inputs, but the human inputs have been cumulative for a long time.

There are positive feedbacks, that if they initiate, will make things much worse.

Does that mean that I can say with certainty that any particular rise in temperature is the result of human activity?


The natural variation is too high and too uncertain (fundamentally) to say that.

And what I can say with confidence is that the human cumulative factors are present.

Could they be swamped by natural factors?

Yes, that is entirely possible. A few big volcanoes going off could do that; so could a major solar event.

All other things being equal, human impacts will cause heating. Can I say all other things are going to be equal?

NO – not a chance.

Complex systems are often like that.

People keep expecting them to be simple systems, but they’re not, never will be.

Are we doing things to climate that are “unwise” in a probabilistic sense, if we continue them long term?

Sure – no reasonable doubt about that.

Do we need to do things differently?


Are we doomed?

Definitely not – provided that we start taking actions that do in fact mitigate the risks.

That, at least, is how it appears to me, as someone with very close to 60 years of interest in the subject.

Is any of this an excuse for central control and global hegemony – definitely not – actually quite the reverse.

When one does actually begin to understand how risk management in the face of fundamental uncertainty actually works, then it is clear that diversity, multiple “safe to fail” experiments, is key to survival. Lots of different eggs in lots of different baskets.

Is this any excuse for any sort of global austerity?


It is a requirement to investigate and develop technologies that actually work long term, and deliver reasonable levels of security and freedom to everyone.

[Followed by]

Hi Mike

Would like to look at your data.

I wasn’t thinking water vapour, the positive feedback that worries me is methane, particularly in the North Sea and Tundra.

Climate mitigation has been on my radar since the 60s, with or without human induced changes. We don’t want any more ice ages, so we need effective tools to me able to modulate the solar input to the earth system by +/- 5% – and the only realistic way to create technology on that scale in any reasonable time frame is to put self replicating remote manufacturing systems on the moon and let them go until they cover the moon’s surface with solar cells, then use that energy to launch lunar mass back into earth orbit with linear motors (no reaction mass required – not actually true, the entire remaining moon is the reaction mass), and then we can build systems with said capabilities above. Doesn’t matter if it takes 100 years, ice ages don’t typically initiate faster than that. With that sort of technological capacity, we could also build and deploy a suite of remote sensing and mitigation systems to significantly reduce the risk from impactors of any class. A nice side benefit is the ability to build and deploy a decent number of O’Neill cylinders, of suitable size. Increases the potential for risk mitigation at multiple levels.

All of that is, of course, predicated on global cooperation, because any sort of fundamental competition with that level of technology leads to fairly rapid self termination. So definitely multiple levels of “work to be done”.

[Note – Mike’s data arrived 2 days ago, but the next 3 weeks are insanely busy for me, so I am unlikely to look at it for a few weeks – written 30th Sept 21]

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What do you think is the biggest impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world?

What do you think is the biggest impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world?

[ 29/August/21 ]

It seems to me that the biggest impact is that more people are starting to see that the information ecology of our existing economic, political, legal, religious, and other institutions is broken.

We all, necessarily, have strong tendencies to simplify the complexity that does in fact seem to exist. The more stressed we are, the stronger that tendency is. Much of it subconscious.

So when we are really stressed, our experiential world is actually subconsciously simplified down to simple binaries (Friend/Foe, Good/Bad, Right/Wrong) and there is no place for the nuance and uncertainty and diversity that does actually seem to necessarily be present in reality.

The evolutionary reasons why such tendencies exist in all of us are well characterized, but rather than teaching people how to recognize and counter such biases within us as they emerge; most existing systems are actually using them to exploit us at various levels. Online AI systems exploiting and feeding such biases simply to keep our attention on screens for a few extra seconds, so that they can generate some fraction of a cent in advertising revenue (as one example).

More people are starting to recognize that information and sense-making systems are fundamentally broken, and are being exploited by multiple sets and levels of essentially “cheating strategies”, that now pose existential level risk to us all. In the presence of fully automated systems, free market incentives are no longer aligned to liberty or security – at any level.

I have individual life and individual liberty as my highest values; and at the same time I am clear that liberty without responsibility is necessarily destructive. Every level of structure has necessary sets of boundaries required for its existence. Human beings are the most complex thing we yet know of in existence. The levels of responsibility necessary for human liberty are profound. The more liberty we claim, the greater the burdens of responsibility we must shoulder, necessarily – anything less than that is self terminating – the logic and systems of that are beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt.

Any real expression of liberty necessarily results in diversity, and any diversity that is not a real threat must be respected (if one makes any claim to liberty).

This demands of each of us, that we make the real and difficult effort to overcome the automatic biases we have to simplify our classifications.

If we make any claim to respecting life and liberty, then that logically and necessarily demands of us that we go beyond our tendencies to black and white judgements – to us and them, to good and bad, right and wrong, and allow for nuanced and varying diversity and complexity that does in fact seem to surround us.

When people demand simple answers to complex situations then they are in fact demanding that their liberty and responsibility be removed.

If we make any claim to liberty and responsibility, that demands of us that we accept complexity and diversity.

We are not all the same.

We are all different.

And in many ways we are all more alike than we are different.

All of those things can be and are true. That demands accepting complexity and diversity.

Covid-19 is not the worst pandemic to hit us, and it is far worse that most common flus. It is highly infectious, and if it “gets away” in a community then many people in that community will die, and many more will be left seriously disabled, some permanently. It is serious. 10 times as many US citizens have died from it than died in the entire Vietnam conflict; and that with all the measures that have been taken to counter it.

It is real.

It is dangerous.

It needs to be accepted and respected as such.

And many countries have shown that it is possible to eliminate it, and doing so requires cooperative activity.

It is in fact, clearly, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, in everyone’s interest to cooperate, to isolate, and to eliminate the virus.

That is doable. We have done it here in New Zealand twice – currently we are in a lockdown with the Delta variant that got past our border controls.

Isolation is always going to be the only immediately effective strategy against any real pandemic. That as always been the case, and will always remain the case. It has been so throughout history, as any familiar with history will clearly know.

It is not “rocket science”.

It is as old as humanity.

And anything can be used and exploited by cheating strategies; and not everything is.

We all need to be alert for conspiracies, at any and all levels, and not everything is a conspiracy.

We live in a complex world.

Science has proven beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that for complex organisms like ourselves, evolution and survival is much more about our ability to cooperate than it is about our ability to compete, and both aspects are necessarily present in complex systems – but it is cooperation that must be foundational if long term survival is the desired outcome.

So we need to cooperate, and we each need to be alert for cheats on the cooperative – each and every level. Nothing simple or certain, however much we each crave simplicity and certainty.

With a little bit of luck, more people are starting to realize this, and we will all be better off because of that; as we get to higher level cooperation that actually respects and empowers individual liberty and creativity and diversity.

And to be very clear – cooperation is nothing like control.

This is not “one world government” in the sense of control of all; and it is one cooperating world in the sense of multiple levels and classes and instances of agents accepting and respecting diversity, and cooperating for mutual benefit and survival and freedom (responsibly exercised – responsibility is essential – all levels).

People need to accept the logical reality that rights without responsibility are necessarily destructive.

We need rights, and they have to come with responsibilities. No escape from that, at any level.

[separate thread Comment to Jane Wilson’s answer – … “mass hysteria” …]

You are not using an adequate dataset to draw that conclusion.

You need to look closely at what happened in places where the infection rate actually got quite high, and the percentage of deaths and their age distribution in that context.

The lethality of the virus does seem to strongly correlate to the initial virus load one picks up (which makes perfect sense from an immune system response perspective). If the immune system is overloaded, then death can occur quite frequently even in young healthy people.

Certainly, this is nowhere near as bad as the 1918/19 influenza pandemic, the death rate in the second wave of that in some places was over 80%, and some communities had armed citizens at their boundaries with orders to shoot to kill any who approached.

This is a serious pathogen, though far from the most serious.

What this pandemic has clearly shown is that the economic and political systems present in most countries are essentially broken, and are no longer serving the interests of their populations.

I was also an active mensa member for a decade or so, and studied biochemistry and microbiology at Waikato University in the early 70s.

IQ is only really useful if we take care to feed it accurate data, and it makes serious effort to identify and counter its own internal biases (which are necessarily present in all of us). Without that, IQ just becomes a tool to justify what set of biases we already have.

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Why in times of need, like a forest fire do people come together and help one another showing the best part of humanity. #TAV (takes a village) but when the chaos settles we go away from that side of humanity and leave the lessons learned abandoned?

Why in times of need, like a forest fire do people come together and help one another showing the best part of humanity. #TAV (takes a village) but when the chaos settles we go away from that side of humanity and leave the lessons learned abandoned?

[ 29/August/21 ]

Because biology worked out long ago that cooperative action against an immediate common threat is always more effective than individual action; so it is built deep into all layers of our subconscious systems.

Detecting and removing cheats on the cooperative in peacetime is much more difficult, and makes cooperation much harder to sustain long term. It is still the most effective long term strategy, provided that the cheat detection and removal systems are operating effectively – which requires ongoing work – eternally.

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Why is it difficult to maintain a sustainable peace in the world?

Why is it difficult to maintain a sustainable peace in the world?

[ 28/August/21 ]

A realistic answer to this question is deeply complex, and many of the answers given contain very small subsets of a much bigger picture.

Probably the single largest contributor to instabilities is the use of markets to measure value, and the downstream consequences that flow from that in terms of the incentive structures created. A couple of other answers point to an aspect of this, the fact that war is profitable for some; but that is only actually a tiny part of the real problems with markets.

The biggest issue with markets is that they require scarcity to function. A market measures value in exchange, and we only go to markets when we have a need of something. Oxygen is arguably the most important thing to any of us, yet it has no market value, because we can all get what we need simply by breathing. When most things were genuinely scarce, this wasn’t an issue. Markets are a reasonable mechanism for allocating genuinely scarce products. The issue we now have is that we have automation. I started a software company 35 years ago and have operated it ever since. I started programing computers 48 years ago. I know a little bit about automation and its impacts. Automation allows the production of an ever increasing set of goods and services in universal abundance, but having anything universally abundant drives its market value to zero, by definition. Thus there is no economic incentive to actually meet the reasonable needs of everyone, even though it is actually quite easily achievable. The incentives of markets, capital and profits, are to maintain enough scarcity to maximize the generation of profit. That creates fundamental unfairness, and that creates conflict.

In times prior to fully automated systems, one could make a reasonable case that markets were a very useful tool at multiple levels. In the presence of the sorts of automation available today, one can no longer make that case.

That whole class of issues (and it is a very large class of issues, with some very deep and complex issues) is only one class of many.

Another very complex suite of difficulties for maintaining peace comes from our tendency to prefer simplicity (and its associated certainty) to accepting the uncertainties of complexity that actually seem to be present in every level of reality.

If one builds a sufficiently deep understanding of the strategic underpinnings of the evolution of complexity, it becomes clear why that is so, as evolution tends to punish slowness much more harshly than slight inaccuracies. Thus our entire ability to perceive and comprehend anything about ourselves or reality is built on multiple levels of simplifications that were near enough to survive in the contexts of our ancestors; but might not be quite so useful in our rapidly changing technological present and future. This too is a very deep suite of issues, and requires years of study and abstraction from disciplines such as games theory, evolutionary biology, animal behaviour, neurology, AI and systems theory.

Understanding that what we each perceive of as reality is in effect our own personalized Virtual Reality (VR) created by multiple levels of subconscious processes selected primarily for speed and low energy consumption rather than accuracy, takes a bit of getting used to. Whatever Objective Reality (OR) actually is, it is very unlikely to be what we experience.

But most people are operating from such low resolution models that they do not have uncertainty, reality does actually occur for them as binaries, as True or False, as Friend or Enemy, Right or Wrong – without there being anything in between. Reality seems, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, to be much more complex and nuanced than that (containing infinite classes of non-binary logics), always. And under stress we are all biologically constructed to produce such simple models, as they aid in making rapid decisions. Keeping people in a state of stress does not support their being able to accept and respect the diversity that must result from any real expression of freedom. The more stressed we are, the more our simple models drive us to conflict, necessarily. The economic incentives already mentioned, to keep most people in a state of stress, do not help in this dimension of peace either.

Then there is dimension of popular dogma.

Common dogma has it that competition is good for freedom. Actually, that is false. All real domains of complexity are built on new levels of cooperation. Any real expression of freedom is optimized in cooperative contexts. Competitive contexts drive systems to some set of minima on the available complexity “landscape” (in other words, minimize freedom).

So the popular notion that competitive markets enhance freedom, is wrong (and any freedom that is without appropriate responsibility is necessarily self destructive).

The popular notion that evolution is all about competition, is wrong.

The truth about evolution, when considering organisms as complex as we are, is that it is fundamentally based in cooperation, and anything that threatens that cooperation is a threat to our very existence.

So both of the popular dogmas above are a threat to peace, as they oversimplify complex realities to the point of creating existential level risk.

To have peace, we need systems that deliver security and reasonable abundance to all.

In an age of modern automation, there are no technical barriers to delivering such systems, the barriers are those imposed in the systems and beliefs that are present, that are too simplistic for our modern reality.

We need new levels of cooperation, between all levels and classes of agents present, and cooperation is nothing like control.

That is possible, and doable, and it needs to be done.

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Would destroying sources of pollution (oil refinery plants, oil pumpjacks, etc) buy humanity more time to save the climate or would it produce more and/or worse pollution?

Would destroying sources of pollution (oil refinery plants, oil pumpjacks, etc) buy humanity more time to save the climate or would it produce more and/or worse pollution?

[ 28/August/21 ]

It would not buy more time, it would remove what little time we have.

The real solution to the issue requires devoting resources (intellectual and material) to developing viable alternatives, and scaling up their production.

Unfortunately, fossil fuels are a capitalists dream commodity, easy to monopolize and make extraordinary profits from.

Distributed solar energy is a capitalists nightmare, once technology is developed to harness it effectively, there is no further profit.

It is one of many ways in which the incentives of market based valuation are now diametrically opposed to the long term interests of humanity as a whole.

Automation essentially breaks markets.

We need automation.

We need to develop replacements for markets as valuation tools.

All these things need to be progressed simultaneously.

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What is the most important thing that you realized during the COVID-19 pandemic?

What is the most important thing that you realized during the COVID-19 pandemic?

[ 26/August/21 ]

That there is no real security for any, unless there is security for all.

That comes bundled with the ideas:
that freedom is necessary, and freedom without responsibility necessarily self terminates; and
cooperation is fundamental to the emergence and security of all levels of complexity (contrary to popular dogma that evolution is all about competition); and
in the presence of automation, market incentives and human values diverge rapidly.

And cooperation is nothing like control. Cooperation requires real conversations between multiple levels and classes and instances of agents.

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