Personal Security

Question of the day, April 16, 2013 – PERSONAL SECURITY

Can you describe what personal security means to you and whether you’ve found a way to make your personal security a reality?
How would you compare that to the sense of security created by governments, banks and insurance corporations?

Personal security to me means having a place to call home, the means to care for it, so that it can provide for me and my family.
We have our house freehold.
We have a little block of land that we can retreat to (35 acres in the Catlins).
We are friends with all of our neighbours.
We are involved in our community (I just got home from a Lions Club meeting, and had a meeting of the Kaikoura zone water management committee earlier this afternoon).

I have all the tools I need to take care of things in emergencies. We have enough food for 3 months, and tools (guns and fishing gear) to get more if required. Water supplies could last a year if needed.

We have a network of friends here in Kaikoura. It is a small community, that can be self sufficient if required. It is small enough that everyone knows enough people that social cohesion could keep the community together even through very rough times.

In terms of banks, insurance companies, and governments, I find that they all detract from my sense of security, more than they enhance it.
All of them seem more interested in money than they do in the welfare of people.
Most people seem to manage to survive in spite of, rather than because of, them.

So my sense of security that I gain from the relationships I have in my community, and in the tools I have and my knowledge of how to use them, far exceeds anything supplied by government or corporations; for all the good works that both do from time to time. My experience with corporations of any sort is that they, and most of their employees, are far more interested in money than people (and there are some notable exceptions, but not many).

I don’t worry about losing myself. I am what I am when I am it. I have accepted death, then avoided it, so I tend to just accept whatever is.

[followed by]

Hi Andrew

I didn’t even think about the idea of any sort of security after death, the idea simply did not occur to me (honestly).

I have simply accepted that death is death – end, fini.

I have no control or influence or existence after that point in time, whenever it exists.

My actions will have some continued chains of consequence, and some people may remember me for a time, and eventually that will fade.

That doesn’t worry me. I have accepted it, faced it, in a very real sense, it happened to me already, then it sort of undid itself and I continue to live.

I, the conscious awareness of being, is present only during my waking hours (accepting that there are some semi waking dream states that can and do occur).

I have gone under general anaesthetic too many times, and I recall them very clearly, the complete loss of time – zero personal awareness of the passing of time. Very different from sleeping. When waking from sleep I can generally judge time to within a minute or two. When waking from general it is as if no time had past, yet it has been up to 6.5 hours.

Those experiences give me a great deal of evidence that my consciousness is very much the child of the systems in my brain. When my brain systems are stopped beyond the ability to restart, then that is it for me.

I had a start. I will have an end (probably). Such seems to be the nature of existence.

And there was certainly a massive chain of variously complex systems leading up to my start. I did not simple spring into existence from complete randomness. There was an egg and a sperm (each carrying massive amounts of genetically acquired information) and a womb (providing a very specific very constant environment), and from those, the child me emerged.

I have accepted that all that I have become is a very complex process of all of that genetic information (acquired over billions of generations of natural selection) mingling with all of the cultural information (similarly acquired by billions of generations of trial and error) that I have experienced, plus all of the intuitions and abstractions that my own mind has made of those things, plus the little that I have personally contributed in terms of choice.

That’s me.

One, of billions, of incredibly complex children of evolution and space and time and culture and language and self started self awareness. Each of us complex beyond the ability of any single mind to fully comprehend, yet we can make sense of the major systems at work (at the atomic, molecular, cellular, body, neural, and all the other levels of system and information and communication and cooperation and competition and strategies) that make us individual human beings what we are.

To me, that is far easier to accept than some universal being that would impose upon innocence the pain and suffering that we have each, in our own ways, experienced in life.

I am secure in the knowledge that I am; I leave what will be to what will be; I make my choices, moment by moment, and I dance with the consequences, so long as I am able to dance.

That seems to be what is offered in life.

I am happy to have it for as long as it is available.

[followed by]

Hi Deb

Your comment on people within corporations is interesting, and I can see now many different ways in which my words could be interpreted other than the one in my mind when I wrote them.

Most people, when working for corporations, follow the rules of that corporation, rather than following their own intuitions towards other people.

I see it often.

People I know really well in other social contexts, and with whom I have a great relationship in that social context, but who when in their corporate context their social being becomes a veneer of a sort, and they play the game strictly by the corporate rules.

To me, it is weird. It is really difficult for me to imagine what such a consciousness must be like. And I can sort of do it some times, and I don’t like it. I left it behind a very log time ago, and I don’t like going back to it (I was very much a child then).

[followed by]

Hi Andrew

In my understanding you commit a couple of category errors when you state of science “but it cannot, nor does it try to, explain what happens to the cause, the dynamic energy that is self evident through stimulating original creative thought, when the brain ceases to function.”

In my understanding consciousness is not energy, it is a pattern in the flow of energy, just as a fountain is not water but a pattern in the flow of water.

For me, the mechanism that generates “stimulating original creative thought” is fascinating. When I first discovered it (via a powerful intuition in late 1974, during a presentation on holography being presented at a conference on LASERs held on the campus of Waikato University in NZ), it was one of the most powerful and beautiful experiences of my life, accompanied by white light and noise, as a neural storm went off in my brain as it restructured its knowledge of knowledge itself.

My understanding has evolved somewhat in the intervening 40 years, and the original intuition is still supported by all the evidence I have had since.

So for me, personally, there is nothing deeply mysterious in our ability to be creative.

For me, there is sublime beauty in processes that deliver creativity, the subtlety of the interactions between a large number of simultaneous processes.

The “cause” to me is fully explained by science, but not in any sort of absolute sense, rather in a probabilistic sense.

For me, it seems clear that this entire universe in which we find ourselves has fundamental uncertainty within it at all levels. It is lawful to a degree, to a very high degree when we deal with large assemblages of stuff, yet when we get down to single entities at any level, there is a high degree of unpredictability about them.

It seems entirely possible that if some technology could map the arrangement of atoms in my body to a sufficient level of accuracy, then my being could be “backed up” and restored at some later stage. And that is not at all what you seem to be implying.

To me, there is no duality in the sense you seem to accept, no mind separate from body. In my understanding, mind is an artefact of body, and there are many subtleties.

What we normally accept as our perceptions of reality are not (for the most part).

It seems that what we normally experience is not reality itself, but a model of reality built by our brains, and updated based upon information from the senses.

Under some very unusual conditions, information from the senses can fail, and the model is freed of external constraints, and can provide us with all sorts of sensations – like flying free of body, hearing voices talking to us, and many other sorts of things (some of which I have experienced myself).

At other times, systems can cross link their outputs, so that some people see auras (as their emotional identification systems link to visual colour systems), and other people hear music as colour, and any number of other similar things. I have not experienced either of those, and I have experienced other things in the same general class, like experiencing electric fields as touch – with different frequencies having different texture.

I have certainly considered the hypothesis that consciousness might continue after death, and it does not align with the observations that I have.

Every test I have made of that hypothesis has failed.

My experience, my understanding, is of something very different; something far more beautiful, far more satisfying to my mind – of a process taking some 14 billion years to produce the form of life that is me, through multiple layers of evolution by natural selection, with multiple levels of influence, culminating in choice.

[followed by]

Hi Andrew

Yet again, several things that we view through completely different paradigms.

You said “Yet something must have started the process that we now experience as life and being” and I say yes – replication, followed by evolution by natural selection.

Life is not a single thing.

Life as we know it, as self aware languaging entities is the result of about 20 layers of interacting replicating systems.

It seems clear that the first layer was replicating RNA.

Once that had established, the next layer, of encoding could evolve, based on cooperation between between RNA and amino acids to produce proteins, and eventually catalysts.

Each level of system has to reach a level of complexity before it can support the evolution of the next level.

So there is no simple answer to what life is.

It seems that we are about 20 levels of systems.

We can have many of the upper levels suspended, without affecting the levels below. Levels are like that.

So the process we know as life (as we know it on this planet) started some 4 billion years ago, and seems to have continued, unbroken, since, to all the life forms we see on earth today. Only a very few of the many trillions of life forms alive today (about 7 billion of them) are capable of complex languaging consciousness.

It is clear to me beyond any reasonable doubt that there is no singular “Life Force”, there are only levels of systems, many of them organised at scales far too small for the human eye to resolve.

Awareness is one of the upper levels of life (and there seem to be many levels of awareness).

Cognisant electrochemical brain function is at the upper levels of the levels of life that is us. There are probably close to 10 levels below it. Provided the lower levels stay functioning, upper level function can usually be restored when systems return to within operating limits for higher system functions to restart. That is basically how anaesthetics work.

So yes, life is a very complex set of systems, even the simplest cellular life, and no, there is no such thing as “inextinguishable ‘life’ force”. Life can be ended relatively easily. A bullet through the brain is usually enough to do it for humans, as it interferes with respiratory and or circulatory function, which are essential to maintain metabolic function at the cellular level.

My understanding of relativity is a little different. In my understanding it is light that gives us time, light is outside of time, as the time giver. Light is essentially just frozen information about the state of the emitter.

I see life as higher order collections of pattern and information. Nothing eternal about it.

[followed by]

Hi Andrew Deb and Judi and I suspect one or two others lurking in the shadows,

Hmmm – so much in these questions.

It is like I have said so many times, that paradigms develop so differently that sometimes words have such different meanings, that sometimes communication is almost impossible.

It seems that we have such a thing here with the term “energy”.
For me, when I use the term energy it is in the sense that Einstein used it in e=mC^2.
Energy and mass are two forms of being, that are interchangeable. Light can become matter, and matter can become light, and the difference is huge. C is roughly 300,000,000 m/s so C^2 is 90,000,000,000,000,000. So it takes a great deal of light to make a very little matter, and a great amount of light will come out of very little matter (the fundamental idea behind any atomic bomb).
One of the fundamental laws of physics is that matter/energy is conserved.
Another fundamental law of physics deals with entropy, the disorder of things- but a very special sense of disorder, as measured in levels of energy.

We can have highly ordered entities such as ourselves emerge, but it takes a lot of high order energy being converted to lower order energy to keep us going. We take that high energy (chemical energy converted by plants from light in the visible spectrum) and turn it into heat (energy in the infra red, way below the visible spectrum). The total amount of energy is unchanged, but the type has changed, we have turned bright light in low level heat. That is essentially what we do to maintain our form, which is why I often use the metaphor of a fountain, it is realistic at many different levels.

RNA is a complex molecule, a string of nucleotides joined together. Each nucleotide is composed of a sugar (ribose – a 5 carbon sugar) and a base that is made of a mix of carbon and nitrogen (usually adenine, cytosine, guanine or uracil {A C G U}). RNAs form single strands, but can, under some conditions, form complementary strands, with A & U pairing and G & C pairing.
These things can form chains of any length.
Those chains can fold into secondary and tertiary shapes.
Shape tends to have function in the world of atoms, so certain reactions can happen inside some shapes that cannot happen so easily elsewhere.
There are vast numbers of subtle modifiers to this process.

Back about 4 billion years ago the earth was very different.
There was no free oxygen in the atmosphere (that came much later, created by plants).
The early atmosphere was a mix of carbon-dioxide, methane, ammonia, sulphurous and sulphuric acid at a whole bunch of other chemicals that are very toxic to us. As there was no free oxygen, there was no ozone, so there was a lot of UV light (radiation) from the sun.
The oceans were a cocktail of carbon molecules that tend to form in these sort of conditions, simple sugars like ribose, and simple organic bases like adenine, guanine etc.
The earth had been hit by something very nearly as big as Mars.
The surface above water was mostly very hot rock, with huge amounts of volcanism.
The early moon (formed from the debris of that collision) was much closer (1 sixteenth the distance) and consequently the tides were much bigger (16 times as big). The earth was spinning much faster, with a day being 6 hours, 3 hours of light and 3 of dark.
Imagine the 100m tides, every 3 hours.
RNA chains can replicate if there are lots of nucleotides about, and the temperature changes (heats up then cools down again).
Physical agitation can cause chains to stick together, or break apart, if violent enough (I think the scenario painted above is clearly sufficiently violent).

Thus the early earth was a near perfect set of conditions for simple molecules formed initially from methane and CO2 and lightening, to get together into more complex molecules, some of which could replicate in those conditions of regular 3 hourly heating and cooling cycles (as massive tides swept over massive (and constantly renewing) lava fields).
All the evidence we have, is that this is the environment that the first cellular life evolved in.
All the evidence we have is that it happened only once, in hundreds of millions of years of chance, then all other cells are the direct descendant of that first replicating cell.

So it is relatively easy to get RNAs to replicate, and to create complex molecules that have enzymatic properties.
It is relatively easy for some of those RNA enzymes to promote lipid and protein formation.
It is easy to get cells to form from lipid sheets, by agitation.
It is extremely rare for RNA, lipids and proteins to come together in a single cell in a manner that allows cellular replication – evidence is that it happened once only, in millions of years, of billions of cells being formed randomly every second by the action of waves.
And statistics is like that, given a big enough sample, even the most unlikely of events is almost certain to happen.
Seems that it did.
And once it did, us, or something like us, with intelligence, was the almost inevitable result of the process of evolution by natural selection.
It has taken almost 4 billion years, and here we are.

The levels of pattern involved.
The subtlety of the interactions within and between those levels.
It is so beautiful, so sublime, so clear, once one is immersed in the detail.

And few have the time, take the time, make the time, have the opportunity, to be so immersed, and to be sufficiently free of the cultural stories of imposed authority and truth; that they are able to see and appreciate the patterns.

I have been so fortunate.
And that profound good fortune on my part, has come at a social cost, of being unable to share, of being so far removed from the “herd” of culture that gave me birth, that I am very much alone, in a world of beauty that must be experienced before words can have any hope of conveying what the experience is like.
This is the science I live.
It is intuitive, vast, interconnected, subtle, sublime, profound – and so far removed from the stories of the culture that gave me birth that is almost like I am in a different universe.

@Deb
This is not my “truth”. I don’t have “truth”. I have being. I have probabilities. I have uncertainties. I have possibilities.

Truth is one of those notions that children must learn, a simple distinction, an approximation to something far more profound – infinite uncertainty, infinite probability, infinite possibility.
Truth is a killer of possibility – it ends enquiry, yet as children it is our search for truth that eventually takes us beyond truth.

Life force is an idea, one that, in my experience, is clearly falsified. I read Sheldrake’s earlier books, and it is clear that he has clung to the idea of life force, in the face of all of the evidence to the contrary.

When one looks at the detail of life at the molecular level, the evidence for the role of the purely random is overwhelming, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt – and if one is to make informed comment on the subject, then one has to take the time to look – it does actually take a year or two. Some things are like that, they take time. There is no substitute for experience.

So for me, having devoted several years of my life to the study, the evidence is clear, that there is no such thing as a life force. There is only pattern, layer upon layer of pattern, and ever more complex emergent properties become possible with new layers of complexity.

We each have that potential, to become free of the stories that gave us birth, and it is not a simple process.
Our educational institutions are, for the most part, mind numbingly boring. That any creativity emerges from them at all is little short of miraculous.

It is clear to me, beyond any reasonable doubt, that there was no “impulse to become us”, there was only the impulse of the big bang, and the original high energy states, and the randomness, the uncertainty, that seems to be a fundamental part of this universe in which we find ourselves.

We are on a planet around a relatively stable and relatively long lived sun.
Larger suns burn out quickly – no time for life like us to evolve.
Smaller suns burn too dimly, no chance for liquid water and life to evolve.
We are on a sun at the edge of a galaxy, far enough away from the core that our planet is not periodically sterilised by exploding nearby giant stars.
We are on the fringes, in a relatively stable and safe place, for the sorts of molecular patterns that make our higher life form possible. And the universe out there is not safe. It abounds with energies and explosions beyond normal comprehension.

I don’t know if there is other sentient life out there somewhere, maybe, maybe not. Pretty much of an even bet – at least in respect of this galaxy. And there are lots of other galaxies, so very far away.

As Hellen Keller said – security is mostly a myth.
And not entirely myth, just mostly.

[followed by]

Hi Andrew

The second law applies to the system as a whole.
If you measure all the order in the food that a life form (like a human zygote) uses, over its growth to an adult human, and measure that against the order that is present in the adult human body, it is very clear that the second law is being obeyed. As a result of that human form living, there is far more disorder in the system as a whole, even if there is a very high degree of order in the body of the human being (let’s leave ordered minds out of the equation for now – as they seem to be mostly mythical 😉 ).

It is perfectly possible to create very high order in specific places, by taking order from somewhere else, and always some is lost in the process.
For the most part life on earth does so by taking energy from the sun that arrives as visible spectrum photons, and converting those to infra-red photons, and taking some of that difference as chemical energy, and using that chemical energy to do work. And there are losses at every step in the process.

The second law is really just plain common sense to an engineer. Stuff tends to spread out. If you try to compress stuff, there will always be less energy in the compressed stuff than it took you to compress it (there will always be some “leakage”). That’s life.

Fortunately, the system started with enough energy for the reserves of high order energy useful to us to last for billions of years to come. Not a real issue for us yet.

[followed by]

Hi Andrew

If we can survive the next 30 years, then I think life will spread across the universe, and become something very close to our old cultural stories of gods.

As to the universe, I don’t have sufficient information to try and outguess what the life forms that will evolve from us and our technology might be able to create. I just hope that I live long enough to be around and be part of the process. To dance on a dance floor that big, for that long, would be quite some dance!!!

[followed by]

Hi Deb and Andrew

Just read a different perspective into what Andrew wrote.

Evolution does not predict a move towards order as such. Evolution is not directional in that sense.

All evolution does is explore survival ratios between variants in the environments that are present.

Thus it is not directional as such, it is truly random. And, starting from any particular starting place, there will tend to be a movement of some forms at the boundaries into exploring ever more complex forms (while the lines that go back to simplicity will not be nearly as obvious).
One often touted example of this is the sea squirt, a line of chordate evolution that has evolved a sessile adult life form (it sticks in one place a filters water). The juvenile form has a brain, and that brain helps it in locomotion. Once the juvenile has selected a settling place, then the brain is absorbed, and the animal takes up resident life without the metabolic cost of running a brain that no longer serves any useful purpose (it can’t move, so what point). This is a clear example of evolution towards simplicity, and it is simply to show that evolution is not directional (in the sense of seeking complexity).

Evolution deals only with survival.
What works in what sets of circumstances.
What is most efficient at surviving.

In our lineage, many of our ancestors over the last few million years have found that the sets of circumstances they have found themselves in have supported the evolution of ever more complex brains, that have then supported ever more complex sets of cooperative behaviours.

It is worth considering that every single form of life alive today, from the simplest bacteria to us, all share a common ancestor at some point, and have all been evolving for the same length of time. The major differences, have been the environments that subsequent descendants from that common ancestor have inhabited, and the effects of those differences on survival rates of those with slight variations.
Evolution has selected all of those life forms to survive, not just us.

It seems to me, that we are now in an environment that supports us taking the next big step in behaviours, and going beyond the scarcity based incentives of markets and money, and into the abundance based incentives of global cooperation empowered by self sustaining technologies that empower both human and non human life forms.

It seems clear to me that we need to acknowledge the value in every individual, as well as the need of individuals for freedom and supporting systems and social roles, as well as the need for globally cooperative strategies that acknowledge individual freedom and security in the context of global ecosystems and global technologies.
Money and markets simply cannot deal meaningfully with such abundance.

It seems to me, that it is now a requirement of our continued growth and prosperity that we become aware of the limits of our old cultural paradigms (particularly that of money) and transcend them.
My intuition is clear to me that the mathematics of games theory demands it, and I have not done the math to demonstrate it as yet (just relying on my “mystic” side at this point).

[followed by]

Hi Andrew,

Why do you think there is any “imperative” for “all living organisms to work in concert”?
For the most part there is no concert as such. Not in the evidence I see.
Everything just does what it does.
Those that have worked best in the past have left more offspring, so there are more of them (in many cases completely replacing most other variant lines).
That’s all.

Lines that have evolved cooperative strategies with attendant strategies to limit cheating have survived and prospered far more efficiently than the alternatives, in some situations.

Are you winding me up, or do you really not see how it works?

Being a bacterium is a very efficient way of surviving, the bacteria within any one of us outnumber all of humanity on this planet.
Yet a bacterium cannot do anything meaningful about preventing a meteor strike, or the eventual incineration of this planet by our sun (we can do those things).

We are a very complex high order life form, seemingly right on the outer boundary of the complexity that evolution has produced on this planet.
There is no historical precedent for where we are in terms of our exponentially expanding ability to alter our environment. This is new territory. None of the lessons of the past are directly relevant (in either a genetic or mimetic sense).

In a very real sense, our survival requires that we take the next great step in evolutionary strategies, with global cooperation; the alternatives do not look very pretty to me (in as far as my intuitive faculties are able to accurately predict the outcomes of strategic interplays).

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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