While I have a certain level of sympathy with the assertions of this idea, one needs also to consider the best evidence we have of the fundamental nature of reality.
It seems that we live in a world that is fundamentally stochastic, and that the experience we have of a close approximation to causality is the result of our perceptions of being massive collections of events.
It seems that our existence is fundamentally based in probability distributions, which we can influence at various levels, and that the notion of Truth is a simple illusion, a sometimes useful heuristic.
It seems clear to me, that there are many illusions present in the current understandings of reality available to most people. Nation and religion are two of the lesser. The idea of value in money is one of the greater, and the value many put on the past over the present seems to be the greatest.
To me, individual life and individual liberty are the greatest values any can have.
Understanding the many dimensions and power of cooperation seems clearly to me to be the most powerful path for any to ensure their security and freedom.
It seems to me that freedom contains two major essences, which may potentially recurse to any level of abstraction of being.
One of these essences seems to be the ability to choose. And choice is a very elusive idea. One of the best approximations to the notion I have encountered is contained in the words: “Choice is a free selection, after, and not based upon, reason or consideration.”
The other major essence of freedom seems to be the ability and the desire to question any and all assumptions, any and all experience and interpretation.
When one starts to gain some appreciation of what infinity might be like, what an infinite set of interconnected infinities might be like, one starts to appreciate that even the most enlightened of awareness is a close approximation to ignorance.
When one starts to see the mounting evidence in both experiment and logic for the randomness at the foundation of our being, (from Heisenberg, Goedel, QM etc), then one starts to see the illusion in all claims of truth.
I much prefer the idea of useful approximations to something.
Certainly all culture is replete with heuristics (approximations posing as truths) that have had a certain utility in various simultaneous senses over the evolutionary times of bodies and culture. And the very notion of truth seems very probably to be one such thing – an illusion that has served certain purposes in certain contexts (and still does for many).
Many people, many ideas, at many levels, accost us in various collections, at various levels.
In a certain sense, they have only the impact that we allow them to have.
It seems that the greater our understanding of the many levels of our own being, the greater our ability to weather these storms and resume our chosen journey.
Anyone who has spent significant time at sea knows that there are times when one simply goes where the dictates of probabilities of survival demand, and yet most of the time we can have significant influence over where and when we go, and it is rarely (if ever) complete control, the ocean is rarely, if ever, entirely still.
The evidence from neurophysiology and logic is now overwhelming (beyond any reasonable doubt), that our experiential reality is not reality itself, but a subconsciously assembled model of reality created from experience by our neural networks. Influencing the model is far easier than influencing the reality beyond, and both are possible.
In this sense, it seems that we are free to the degree that we become aware of the many ways in which we are not free, and gain some measure of influence over those contexts.
One of the contexts that seems to be most powerful to gain an appreciation of, is the degree to which cooperation is fundamental to our being, and to our future security and the wider contexts of freedom embodied in that.
It seems that death is always a possibility, and nothing, not even death, is an absolute certainty.
It seems very likely that I will die some day, and it also seems possible that I may exist for the rest of eternity (whatever that may be).
And to be clear, I am not using the term “I” here in any sense of there being anything fundamentally me, but only in the sense of me being what I am when I am, as a complex entity constantly changing under the influences of experience and understanding and intention and accumulated history – everything influencing everything else in an amazing dance.
I rather enjoy the dance!
It seems that communication is unlikely between us.
I discovered a couple of decades ago that the notion of Truth you seem to be using seems most likely (on the basis of both logic and evidence) to be a common illusion. And it seems to be a useful and necessary developmental heuristic, and one best transcended as soon as possible.
If that makes sense, I’m happy to continue conversation about the probabilities associated with that set of assertions.
In order to understand, one must be around to understand. All understanding is contingent on survival. There are contexts where survival needs trump all else. That is all.
The ability to question anything and everything is inherent in the notion of freedom.
Logic and mathematics are great tools for modelling.
As it seems that all of our conscious level interactions with reality are via a subconsciously created model of reality, those tools can be powerful. And that does not mean that reality itself obeys any particular set of logic or mathematical outcomes.
And in certain contexts, to within certain degrees of measurement error, they are very powerful tools, that I use daily.
And one ought never to confuse a map with the thing it represents.
And if all we have is maps, it pays to have the best one for the job.
I have no illusions about the consequences of death, we just have different probabilities around the possibility of indefinitely avoiding death. It seems to me possible, if exceedingly improbable.
And the more technological risk mitigation systems we blend into the biology, the greater the probability becomes. On that much at least we seem to agree.
I am clear that death is death.
I have approached it many times.
Five and a half years ago I had the experience of sitting across the desk from the top melanoma expert in this country and hearing him say the words “There is nothing more that medical science can do for you. You have the fastest growing form of melanoma known, and it has now invaded your lymph system and liver. You could be dead in 6 weeks. The 50% survival is five months, and 2% of people make 2 years. Go home and get your affairs in order.”
Then I watched him write the note “palliative care only” on my file.
An experience like that kind of brings the reality of death right into focus.
I used my training as a biochemist to delve into the literature and do my own research.
I found there is actually a lot of evidence that high dose vitamin C can assist the immune system in removing cancer.
It seems to have worked in my case.
I am 5 weeks away from being 5 years clear of cancer.
The flaw is the assumption that causality holds at all levels, rather than examining the evidence sets available from Quantum Mechanics and realising that that approximations to causality that we experience at the levels of normal common-sense human perceptions seem clearly, on balance of probabilities and balance of evidence, to be the result of stochastic systems operating within probabilistic constraints at the Quantum mechanical level.
Thus the assumptions of causality, the assumption that the world follows logical rules, that seems to work well in the realm of common sense, doesn’t actually apply to the deeper realm of reality. It seems to be a useful approximation at some levels, and not at all useful at others.
Reality seems to be a complex system, of stochastic systems constrained by probabilities, that approximates causal mechanisms at some levels and some contexts, but not all.
And I get how uncomfortable that idea can be.
I have been clear since completing my undergrad biochem studies in 1974 that indefinite life extension was a logical possibility.
Once I realised that, then it became very clear that the risk to life from biological senescence was only one of the many sets of risks present. So the question became – what sorts of social, political, and technical institutions are required to deliver a set of risk profiles that give individuals a reasonable probability of living a very long time (and for modelling purposes I defined that as greater than 10,000 years).
SENS foundation, Calico, Buck Institute, SAGE, AFAR, UCSF and many others are directing significant money and intellectual capacity toward the biological aspects of health and life extension.
I spend more time with groups looking at the wider risk picture, like CESR, LifeBoat, and many others.
The technical aspects of eliminating aging are tiny compared to the cultural.
It seems we cannot reduce risk profiles and retain money.
In essence I agree.
I see no logical way to reduce the probability of death by giving life extension only to a subset of those who want it. It is all or nothing. Anything less leads to high risk of societal collapse – for a raft of games theoretical and complexity theory reasons.
I have been consistent for over 30 years in saying it has to be for everyone. Just cant work otherwise.
And I agree, with you, that freedom is possible only in degrees.
Reality seems to be all about degrees of influence, flows of information affecting probability distribution, at ever recursive levels.
Absolutes appear highly improbable, as it seems all things have probability distributions, and the tails of some probability distributions can be a very close approximation to an absolute.
So nothing simple.
Everything interrelated, dimensions and links tending to infinity.
Computationally impossible to model without simplifying heuristics, and every heuristic comes with a cost, of altering the probabilities slightly – until the summed error leads to fog.
The why is kind of simple.
I spent the best part of a year reading Einstein, and working through all the math and logic he employed.
Then I spent the best part of another year working through Goedel’s logic.
I have lost track of how much time I have spent on QM, and in discussions with individuals. I have been exceptionally fortunate to meet and know some amazing people. John Murphy (www.hotquanta.com), Rachel Garden (Bertrand Russell’s granddaughter, and one of the finest minds it has been my pleasure to converse with – a double PhD) in particular. Both of them pushed me well beyond my old boundaries, and that took me into realms that are very strange.
When I mixed the work of quantum theorists, complexity theorists, and computational theorists, I started to develop new realms of intuitions, and new ways of looking at and re-arranging the assumption sets I was using.
I am so far outside most people’s comfort zones that communication is almost impossible.
You are correct.
Indefinite unrestrained growth is not possible.
And technology has been increasing available resources faster than humanity has been growing for some time now, and yes there are limits to how far that can be taken here on earth, and we are still quite a long way from those theoretical limits.
And eventually, even at 2% growth, we run out of energy – not enough suns or matter – and that limit is a couple of thousand years away at current rates.
So we do need to change our ways, and we have got a reasonable time for most people to come to that realisation themselves.
It took many tens of thousands of hours of reviewing evidence and questioning assumptions across a wide range of disciplines before the paradigm of understanding I now use made sense to me, and I stopped using ideas like”Truth”.
I’m not sure how many people will understand what I am saying, and that isn’t necessarily the major reason, and it would be nice if it happened.
My major purpose is to point towards a path to a certain style of understanding that may form something of a backup safety strategy during the emergence of AGI (Artificial General Intelligence).
And the easiest way to leave such pointers is in conversations with people that may have long residency times.
There is some subtlety in this notion. It took me a few years of enquiry into the mathematics and logic of games theory, and I have not developed and written a formal proof, and I am confident beyond reasonable doubt that such a proof could be developed.
I agree that right now, given the reality of scarcity and uncertainty and levels of threat that is the experiential reality of most of humanity, what you say is true.
I am also confident, that if one can change the context of that experiential reality, then most people will embrace the notion of equality at least as far as everyone having a certain minimum of energy and technology and security and freedom to allow them to do whatever they reasonably choose.
And that is not equality in the sense of sameness.
It is a set of enabling technologies that will actually deliver degrees of diversity that rapidly approximate infinity. In that sense, it is the very opposite of equality as many understand it.
Agree entirely, and suspect we got to the same conclusion by rather different methods 😉
[I love it when that happens -I suspect it points to something deep in the nature of reality and logic – and to be clear I am not implying any sort of intentionality or god, just a level of symmetry in complexity (in an n dimensional sense).]