[ 2/10/20 ]
This is a good look at a couple of dimensions of a highly dimensional issue.
Yes, the potential for climate change is real, and we are seeing it.
And weather systems are stochastic (contain irreducible uncertainties) so cannot be predicted with absolute accuracy, and we can have high reliability about general trends over time.
One of the things that an average warming does is increase the extremes (both in frequency and extent). So global warming can mean more extremely cold days, as well as many more extremely hot ones (depending on exactly where you are).
And there is another set of dimensions to this that are important and are not mentioned – the technological and political responses to managing long term risk.
We certainly have the technological capacity to develop technologies capable of managing climate and sea level long term; but levels of social awareness and responsibility are required before we deploy such things.
No sane person gives a young child a loaded semiautomatic weapon. Similarly there are technologies available that no sane person would create in the current competitive economic and political international environment. They are just too dangerous if not used responsibly, consistently.
Just as we require children to be able to demonstrate a level of cooperative awareness about mitigating the risks of use of guns to others before we give them access, so too we need nation states and societies more generally to accept that our shared survival requires levels of cooperation and responsibility.
Once we do that, then developing the technology to manage climate is not that difficult (technically speaking). Getting the social and political and economic issues sorted so that such technology may be safely deployed is much more difficult, and critical to our long term survival.
There is no shortage of long term threats that require high tech to mitigate the risks present that I will not go into here – climate change is probably the least terrifying of them.
There are no safe low tech options in the long term.
We must have very high technology to survive long term (no shadow of reasonable doubt about that). Going backwards technically is not a survivable option (however comforting it may seem).
Being able to safely develop that technology demands global cooperation.
Global cooperation is nothing like global control. Global cooperation is multiple levels of diverse agents seeing that their own long term self interest demands levels of cooperation and agreement.
Accepting that in the long term, real freedom and real security is maximised in fundamentally cooperative contexts, is step one towards actually solving this and many other real and serious issues.
This is something that every one of us can make a real difference in.
Accepting that all freedom demands responsibility if it is to survive; and accepting that any real expression of freedom must result in diversity; demands of us that we accept, respect, and cooperate with the diversity of “agents” (individuals, groups, nations, etc) that do actually exist, and must logically emerge in the future; and be prepared to act against any agent that is posing direct and unacceptable levels of risk to the whole.
None of that is simple when multiple levels of agents exist across multiple levels of awareness.
And we can all make a difference by showing real respect for diversity, even as we are prepared to act if required when agents cross any of the boundaries the define cooperative responsibility (and exactly what those boundaries are is very context sensitive and contains fundamental uncertainties – so nothing simple there – just a balance of probabilities at some set of levels).
And we all have sets of emotions that can find difference hard to accept, particularly if we feel threatened in any aspect. So making this all workable means having social and economic systems that do actually meet the reasonable needs of every individual – no exceptions. And what defines reasonable is always going to be a subject for discussion and agreement (eternally).
Very good points, and very real in some contexts.
Context is king.
Always, in evolution, context matters.
Every level – context matters.
In a sense – you “nailed it” in the phase “when under perceived threat”, but that scale of threat matters.
My thesis is that we are the most cooperative entities on the planet, and it is that power to cooperate at scale that has allowed us to reach the numbers we have, and develop the technologies we have.
And we can certainly compete, and compete hard, if the context demands it of us.
The effect of stress is context dependent.
There are most definitely effects of stress that reduce cognitive capacity, that invoke subconscious systems that simplify our perceived reality down to binaries like friend/foe, good/evil, right/wrong. And there is a sense where such systems have strong evolutionary advantage in contexts where rapid response to threat is demanded, and slow response is punished very harshly.
Those systems are very real, and we need to avoid creating contexts that push people into that mode of being, and train people to recognise when something has tipped them into it, and it is not really appropriate, and they need to calm themselves out of it. And that is complex and dangerous.
To create genuine trust takes genuine engagement, and that takes time and effort.
The only way to avoid being seen as elitist is to not be elitist, and to actually be able to see real complexity and real value in every human being you meet, even the most damaged.
Anything less than that is actually an unwarranted over simplification of reality.
If that last sentence does not read as accurate, then you are in fact using an overly simplistic model of the reality that we are actually in.
What I am proposing is not simple – not in any dimension; and it does seem to be required if any of us are to have reasonable probabilities of survival long term.
The economic systems we have are no longer incentivised towards our long term interests – that much is clear beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt.
We require global cooperation of multiple levels of diverse agents and systems. And it is the diversity of agents and systems that is actually one of the key ingredients to survival.
We are in many dimensions of real novelty.
There is no historical precedent for many aspects of our current reality.
Just 4 years ago Alpha Go beat Lee Sedol 4:1 in the most complex board game then played.
Within a year of that, Alpha Go Zero beat Alpha Go 1000:0.
No human being can compete with current AI in any defined game space. Anyone who does not understand that reality is dangerously ignorant.
The theory of sparse neural networks is well developed.
The theory of biased networks is developing.
Our biased networks can still perform reasonably well in open systems vs AI, but not for much longer – and only in quite limited domains.
There are multiple levels of politics and logics and awareness present. Everyone one of them is more complex than any computational entity (human or non-human) can predict in detail; and some very useful approximations are emerging at multiple levels.
AI will exceed human capacity at every level within 15 years, and already exceeds human capacity at most levels.
We live in very complex times.
We exist in multiple levels of context simultaneously.
Which one we focus on and orient to is important (always has been, in a deep evolutionary sense, which is why we have our fore brains in a very real sense).
We need to be able to see the many levels of current dogma about the nature of evolution, and the role of competition for the overly simplistic mistakes that they are.
Evolution for us is, to a useful first order approximation, all about cooperation, and the necessary sets of secondary strategies required for cooperation to survive.
Our species is far too inventive to be able to survive all out competition.
We either realise that, and generate a new and stable level of universal cooperation between diverse agents, or the human experiment will end (I see no way out of the probabilities involved).
Sure – the things you raise have a certain level of reality, and that reality is based on sets of overly simplifying assumptions (invalid dogma) (multiple levels of it).
It isn’t simple, and we need a lot more people to start to appreciate just how not simple it really is.