Ideapod – Destiny

Ideapod – Destiny

Hi Boon,

It seems to me that the evidence from multiple domains, like complexity theory, evolutionary biology, quantum mechanics, and many others, indicates that there are fundamentally uncertain aspects to being – in a sense a fundamental balance between order and chaos at many different levels.

It seems beyond reasonable doubt that the idea of hard causality, of every next state necessarily being the only possible outcome, rather that a more probabilistic idea of causality, has been disproven.

And there are certainly many levels of boundaries and patterns present, that in the absence of modification, do tend to produce certain outcomes. So in the absences of choice, yes – a sort of pattern exists, and it is not absolute.

For me, it seems beyond reasonable doubt that all knowledge is heuristic at base, all contains fundamental uncertainties.

In the absence of choice – something approximating destiny, in the presence of choice, creativity,


[followed by in response to Boon’s reply to Pascal Eberle March 26, 2018 ]

Hi Boon

We are really complex.

A page on my blog site gives a basic introduction to some of the major ideas required to get a sketch of an understanding about some of that complexity:

Our genetics has many levels of complexity.
Our culture has many levels of complexity.
We can each develop many more levels on top of our genetic and cultural base.

We bring all of that to a complex reality with lots of other complex people in it.

We try to look for simple answers where they simply do not exist.

One of the things we must accept is our profound ignorance and uncertainty, and the humility that such things demand.

[followed by]

Hi Boon,

You asked “Can this be said about the idea of our existence, meaning, will be ever know?”

It seems clear to me, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that the idea that existence itself has a meaning for us (beyond any meaning we might declare or choose for ourselves), is a category error of interpretation. The question comes out of using a simple approximation to something that is much more complex, and the question simply evaporates when one uses a more complex approximation to what seems to be the reality of our existence.

And I am not making any claim that my model of reality is any sort of final truth, just that it is a more accurate approximation to something vastly more complex, a reality so complex that no human mind (no computational system) could ever fully understand it.

Thus while I am confident that full Artificial General Intelligence will surpass our human abilities, it will still end up using models that are uncertain heuristic approximations.

It seems clear to me that the meaning we have in life is up to us.

We either choose it for ourselves, or we accept the defaults of some culture.

Personally, I am a very strong advocate for personal choice, and post cultural existence; and I acknowledge that there are many levels of value deeply embodied in culture, and to that degree strongly align with Jordan Peterson’s interpretation of culture.

I am not saying that a cultural existence is “bad”.

I am saying that it is just one of many possible classes of existence, and it is not necessarily the most secure, loving, or powerful way to live.

It seems clear to me, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that going post cultural offers the greatest probability of a secure future that contains the positive elements that most of us desire.

And the unknown, the chaotic, must always exist – and one of the major aspects of being human is finding a boundary between order and chaos that works in practice for us.

[followed by]

Hi Boon,

You asked “So, is what we’re seeing is not actually what it is?”.

To get a feel for that, you need to understand something of evolution, and about the way that cooperative systems can evolve greater levels of complexity in their responses to environmental conditions.

It now seems beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that what we perceive and experience as reality isn’t . What it is, is our personal, subconsciously generated (by the interaction of many different body and brain subsystems) model of reality. In this sense, our experiential reality is a sort of low resolution “virtual reality” of whatever it is we actually exist in.

Both physics and our understanding of neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and neurofunction (in the wider context of systems theory and information theory) all seem to be pointing to this as being how it is to be human.

Evolution, in selecting what best survives, seems to have selected the heuristics that form the base of the model.

[followed by – in a lower thread – under Barry McCormack March 26, 2018 ]

Hi Boon,

For me, suffering ended when I finally got that it always comes from a refusal to accept some aspect of reality being as it is.

That does not mean that I need to find any current aspect of reality desirable.

I can experience great unpleasantness, and pain, etc. And none of those need necessarily lead to suffering. They can simply be what they are.

Once we can accept reality as it is (at least to some useful approximation), then we can effectively create from that base.

As long as the base we are using to create from is misaligned, then anything we build upon it is likely to be unstable and collapse.

Acceptance of reality, or at least the best approximation to it that we can manage in any particular context; does seem to eliminate suffering (if not pain).
Pain can be a useful signal. It carries survival oriented information.

One is still faced with risk and uncertainty, and that can require a different level of acceptance.

[followed by]

Next question is – now what might be present that I think of as being real, that is preventing me from finding a way of removing this pain?

What have other people done that might work for me?

Where might I find reliable evidence of such things?

Can I find any correlates in the cases of those that have solved this problem that seem more probable than any of those already enumerated?

Those sorts of questions I found really useful in surviving a terminal cancer diagnosis.

[followed by – in yet another thread – Barry McCormack March 27, 2018 – ..cont]

Hi Boon,

Being hit by a bus doesn’t require stupidity, just an unfortunate set of circumstances.

You mentioned whales.
I live in Kaikoura – a town known internationally for whale watching.
I have spent a lot of time in boats (over 30,000 hours), and am in my 13th year as president of our local boating club.
2 times I have been at sea when whales have exploded out of the water, and come crashing down, close by. I had no idea the whales were there, and they didn’t seem to have and idea I was there. Having done a lot of deep diving, I can understand that sometimes you stay down a bit too deep for a bit too long, and only just manage to get back to the surface, and have no idea what is up there, other than air that you desperately need to survive the next few seconds.

So being hit by a whale is a possibility for anyone at sea, just as being hit by a bus is a possibility for almost anyone on land.

It just stands for, sometimes things beyond knowledge or control happen.

[followed by]

Hi Boon,

Yeah – people do die from being hit by whales.
Just in this tiny town of 4,000 people, a good friend Tom Smith died when he was hit by a whale about 15 years ago. It happens sometimes.

The whale didn’t know Tom was trying to help it. It was just in distress, and lashed out.

And yes – they are magnificent.

I have touched dolphins, orca, southern right whale, brydes whales, and been within touching range of humpback and sperm whales. They are magnificent, and they need to be treated with a great deal of respect. It pays to let them come to you, rather than trying to have it be the other way round.

Just carefully and respectfully place yourself near by (never approach directly as a threat, always at an oblique angle), and act in a calm and interested fashion, and they will usually come over to check you out.

[followed by – in response to thread – James Pott March 27, 2018 – Life is hard….]

A great question you ask Boon – “How do we work with one another and yet don’t force anyone to forget who they are in the process?”

To me, the answer to that question is in part very clear – we create fully automated systems that do all the production, so every one of us can enjoy the freedom to exist with all the reasonably necessary requirements of that existence provided by automated systems.

That then puts us immediately into James’ observation “Not many people can handle the freedom”. And to a degree I agree, and I think that most people can be taught how to handle it quite quickly. And there is much truth in the observation that just giving an addict money only leads them deeper into addiction. So there is much deeper degrees of social responsibility involved.

It is a very complex problem, and it does seem to be capable of resolution – in quite short time-frames (within 20 years), if we as a society make the choice to do so. Which must start one at a time.

[followed by]

Hi Boon,

It seems to me that the way you characterize your society is more illusion than real, and it does capture an aspect of something that often characterizes political debate in your country.

Understanding our animal heritage is key to seeing something of what is present.

In evolutionary terms, it makes sense to simplify decision making as much as possible, in times of high stress. When faced with a charging big animal, you need to know very quickly – is this food or predator – nothing much more than that. Thus our neural networks automatically simplify for us under stress.

If it were a characteristic of the population generally, then music would not exist. Music is often extremely complex, at many different levels, particularly with classical symphonies, or more modern pieces like Hamilton. So the ability to create, distinguish and appreciate subtle pattern is alive and well in your culture – so it all comes back to context.

I challenge your statement that you live in a black and white world.

I could accept a more limited statement, that certain “cheating strategies” have found effective methods of dominating political dialogue by framing it in contexts that create stress, and therefore oversimplify the very real complexities present to the point that the entire process now creates existential level risk for everyone (both within and outside the USA).

The key distinction here, is seeing that it is not an attribute of the people, but rather an attribute of the context those people see themselves in. Change the context, and the ways people perceive and interact will change.

Reduce the stress, and people will again see the amazing richness of color, texture, temperature, smell, and some of the many other dimensions of culture, relatedness, dependence and awareness that are actually present.

Creating those high stress contexts may seem to some to be a tried and true method from the past of obtaining short term benefit, but it is actually gaining exponentially increasing sets of existential risk, in the exponentially changing context we now live in.

It seems possible to me that most people will be able to see that – when it is clearly demonstrated as such.

I am all for individual life and individual liberty – those are my highest values.
And individual life actually makes demands on us for responsible action in both social and ecological contexts.

From a systems perspective, all levels of complexity require levels of boundaries.
Some of what seem to be constraints on freedom are actually things that are required for entities such as ourselves to survive. Now there is certainly room for a lot of discussion about what boundaries are actually necessary in any particular context, and such discussions will always be necessary as contexts evolve and change.

So we need to have much more complex models of what it is to be human.
Everyone needs to be able to see that we are all individualist and collectivist, to different degrees in different contexts. Reality is in fact that complex (much, much more so).
We are all optimistic and pessimistic, to different degrees, about different subjects in different contexts.

Yes sure, there are very real differences between men and women in general, and when you look at a particular man or woman, in all but the most extreme cases, it is easy to find others of the opposite sex that have more or less of any particular attribute they possess.

It isn’t nature or nurture, it is nature and nurture, to different degrees, in different contexts.

And sometimes small differences in one aspect can make a big difference in other aspects. Our genetics are about 99% the same as chimps. And that 1% difference has some huge consequences on our ability to handle tools and complex abstract concepts.

That sort of thing can happen at every subsequent level of development.

[followed by]

Hi Boon,

I get what you say.

And I was writing more broadly.
I have seen many people who would rather die than change their diet.
I do get that such attachment to habit is profound.

I also get that there is real threat.
And there does seem to be a solution.
And it will take a lot of work by a lot of people.
And Jordan Peterson is doing a great job.

He is making it clear to both liberal and conservative that both are necessary.
It isn’t either or, it is both in appropriate balance.

Putting two essential parts of a system in opposition is insane, it sets up an oscillator that will shake the system apart.

People are starting to wake up to that.

I am cautiously optimistic, and it is far from a “done deal”.

And it is a bit scary how many US billionaires have been buying land in NZ over recent years.

So yes – the defaults of intolerance are far more deeply rooted in your culture than in ours here, and we have plenty here.

[followed by]

NZ is one of the safest places on the planet to live.

It has the worlds biggest moat.

It has low population density (the island I live on – creatively called “South Island”) is about 1/6 the area of Texas and about half a million people.

Most people are honest, trusting, hard working, respectful.

And there are challenges here.

[followed by]

That’s understandable, we are a tiny country. Our total population is about half that of Chicago. Our total land area about half that of Texas.
But we do tend to “punch above our weight” on most metrics – sporting, science, technology, arts, etc.

Until quite recently, being such a long way from anywhere meant we often had to make things work with what we had available. It used to be said of kiwi farmers that they could make anything from #8 wire. That is the tradition I grew up in. In order to be able to fix things with non-standard componentry, you have to understand every aspect of what it is you are working on. So that is the habit I developed very young, from about age 5. I have a good workshop, woodworking, metal working, electrical and electronics – can fix most things.

Lots of people in this country like me – question everything, keep on digging until you figure out what is not working, why, and what needs to be done about it.

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Evonomics – Superorganism and Ultrasociality – Updated April 18

New Ecological Economics: Superorganism and Ultrasociality

All are too simplistic.

Evolution starts simple, and rapidly gets complex.

The two major modalities present in living systems are competition and cooperation, and both are usually present, in various context sensitive mixtures.

Competition tends to dominate where threats to individuals come mainly from factors inside the population, and tends to lead to simplicity.

Cooperation can emerge and stabilize where the major threat to individuals comes from factors outside of the population, and individuals can mitigate the risk through cooperative activity. Most new emergent levels of complexity in systems are based in new levels of cooperation.

The individual cells in our body cooperate to make us.

Any level of boundary that provides a level of isolation can serve as a delineator for a level of “individual” for evolutionary purposes.

We as a species are the most cooperative entities in existence.
And we can certainly compete if the context demands it.

We as self aware individuals can be members of many different scales of groups.

Capitalism, markets, and the very concept of money are predicated on scarcity, and on the need for exchange.

Exponentially expanding computational ability is spreading in the physical realm.

In less than 50 years we will be able to manufacture and recycle at the molecular level. That may happen as early as 2030.

Fully automated manufacturing means an end to material scarcity – universally (as the processes are fully automated and require no human intervention).

There is a huge difference between linear and exponential systems.
Most energy production has been linear.
Solar has been exponential since inception, and is doubling every 2 years.

Computational ability is on a double exponential – currently doubling every 10 months.

Faced with universal abundance, markets fail as a measure of value.

Oxygen in the air is universally abundant, and even though it is arguably the most important thing to any of us, it has no market value.

We need to be thinking beyond the measure of value that markets deliver, at the same time as we acknowledge all the many very complex functions that markets currently perform, in terms of things like – distributed governance, distributed risk management, distributed information processing, distributed trust networks, etc. Those are essential function for our complex society, and we need proven alternatives prior to the collapse of the existing systems.

This is all doable, technically, and we need to start doing soon.

There are many real threats that we need to cooperate to create effective mitigation strategies, and computational and engineering capacities are needed to solve them.
Maintaining the existing systems is not an option, if anyone is committed to the idea of long term risk mitigation.

[followed by]

Hi Steve,

I live in Kaikoura, New Zealand. We get extreme weather here. Weather prediction is not particularly reliable here. Climate, that is something else – that is weather averaged over time – that we can predict with quite good accuracy, and even there the southern oscillation can upset predictions. All predictions are sensitive to model assumptions.

All global warming predictions are particularly sensitive to model assumptions.
While I acknowledge the very real presence of human induced changes, I am yet to see a model that adequately accounts for exponential technological change.

The idea of anything being 100% reliable in predicting weather – the exact conditions of wind, precipitation, etc – at my house – is not, and never will be, an option. The systems are too complex, too sensitive to measurement error, too inherently chaotic.

Yes markets involve exchanges of information at several distinctly different levels, and they can change, and have changed, with technology – no dispute.

Yet my fundamental thesis remains.
Markets, by definition, measure some function of value in exchange.
Value in exchange always contains a scarcity component.
Thus markets will always be internally incentivised to prevent the emergence of (or remove any that manage to emerge) any universal abundance.

Thus markets, and the universal human need of an abundance of the material needs of existence, are now directly in conflict, and the degree of conflict is exponentially increasing.

That is our challenge.

UBI can be a useful transition strategy, but it does not remove the fundamental systemic issue.

We are capable of being superbly cooperative, if the context allows it, if the risks from each other is less than the risks from other sources.

That is easy to sustain in an environment of universal abundance, it is exceptionally difficult in a market based system as automation reduces the general utility of labour.

There are solutions available.

Before they can be considered, one must be able to see that a problem exists.

[followed by Updated]

Hi Steve,

Yes – kind of – and it doesn’t deal with the fundamental issue.

What you say is of course true, as far as it goes.

In a very real sense, implementing a UBI can be thought of as giving equal value to every person’s measure of time. Particularly if it is done on some reasonably short time frame – like $18 every 8 hours into every bank account.
Putting money into banks in lumps is an incentive to cheating strategies to target those lumps. Keeping the lumps as small as possible reduces the incentive to cheat. and also gives addicts of all varieties a degree of protection from their own lack of discipline.

I agree completely that it is all about value.

What are our greatest values???

One thing that being involved in generating wide community consensus over the last 12 years has taught me, is that when doing such things, one needs to have agreement about fundamental values.

For me, the hard limits of fundamental value are individual life and individual liberty – applied universally.
And having life as a value demands of us responsibility to maintain all the many different levels of boundary conditions required to sustain the profound complexity that is a human individual. In the simplest terms, it demands of each and every one of us, social and ecological responsibility – and that is shorthand for about 20 levels of complex cooperative systems, each level embodying many instances of complex adaptive systems.
Not simple.
Not even remotely simple.
Deeply, profoundly, complex.

And in a very real sense, it is the very notion of exchange that embodies the risk present.

Sure, we can exchange things – that isn’t the issue.

The issue is when we allow value in exchange to dominate either the value of individual life or individual liberty.

In terms of our long term planning, it is risk to life or liberty that need to be first and foremost, before any consideration of value in exchange.
Every level!

And that is a profound systemic change.

[followed by – updated]

Hi Steve,

Not really.
What I am saying is something far more fundamental.

I am saying that the very notion of value in exchange is losing meaning.

I am saying that rather than try and get a measure of value that we can exchange, we need to be accepting that in an age where all reasonable material needs of existence can be met by fully automated systems, that the game fundamentally changes.

Rather than using exchange, there can simply be an expression of need, and it will be delivered (within reasonable limits, of energy and material use).

And in such a world, we all have a responsibility to act in ways that support the life and liberty of all.

And part of that is acknowledging that we all rely upon natural systems, and being responsible for that. That means not indiscriminately dumping our rubbish in the environment. It mean ensuring we recycle things we use, etc.

And it is much deeper than that.

We are so complex.
The world we exist in is so complex.
There are profound uncertainties, and those uncertainties do not absolve us from making the best guess we can as to what responsibility might look like in any particular situation.

And as a step along the path to getting to that place, to transition people away from the notion that everything is someone else’s responsibility, some sort of UBI would be an indication to most that they are valued, and might enable the majority to look at themselves as being of value in and of themselves, and not simply from being a tool in someone else’s machine.

And none of that detracts anything from the need we each have to be of value, to make a difference.
There is no shortage of things that need doing, things that are valuable to most of us, even if most of us do not have enough money to express that value in a market/employment oriented sense.

So no – nothing like different currencies.

Much more like no currencies, with UBI being a step on a path in that direction.

[followed by – updated 19 April 2018]

Hi Steve,

If every individual has their own machine (personalised means of production), then mass is essentially unlimited, and it is the supply of energy that is the limiting factor.
So within that energy supply, anything can be done. If the thing to be done requires a lot of energy, it will either take a long time, or the individual will need to enroll a lot of other individuals to hand over the surplus from their individual energy budgets.

The need for energy budgets is given by reality, the need to maintain a livable environment on the planet.

If someone really wants to do something that involves a lot of energy or risk then they will need to do that in space, with mass from the moon in the first instance (the more energy or risk involved the further they will need to go from earth to do that thing – eternal frontiers in a sense). So there are no absolute limits, and there is a series of effective limits within particular contexts. If you really want to do something that requires serious energy, then you may need to go off to some other part of the galaxy and tame a black hole to act as a power source (not the sort of thing I will be attempting any time soon).

My plan is to stay here on earth for the next 5,000 years or so until we have mature, tested, and proven safe (to very high levels of confidence) technologies for interstellar travel.

[followed by in response to jacob Silverman – 5th April 2018]

Hi Jacob,

Scarcity isn’t necessarily linked to competition, and it is often associated.

Markets are about value in exchange.
We go to markets to exchange things.
We take goods or services and expect money or we take money and expect goods or services.
Money in that sense is an agreed myth of value.
It works in practice, like all myths, in part because of the agreement present, and in part because there is something real behind that agreement (the probability of goods and services existing in the future).

From a systems perspective, it is the source of risk that tends (on average over time) to drive systems to either competitive or cooperative modalities being dominant.
If the predominant sources of risk to individuals are from other individuals in the population, then competition tends to dominate, and the systems are driven to some local minima of complexity (relative simplicity).
If the predominant sources of risk are external to the population, then cooperative modalities can emerge (and stabilize with required sets of secondary strategies to detect and remove cheats), and the system can then explore new levels of complexity and diversity.

And yes – it is evonomics.
Economics (in the broadest possible meaning of that term – the ways in which we order the systems that make up this “household” of “life” on this “3rd rock from the sun”).

Evolution is a fascinating system, that starts simple, and rapidly and recursively explores exponentially expanding complexity. It is the eternal balance between order and chaos; part mimic, part error in the mimicry leading to diversity. Same principle, every level, to as many levels as one is willing to instantiate.

Taking insights from biology, from systems theory, from information theory, from the observations of biochemists, animal behaviorists, psychologists, archaeologists, philosophers, logicians, historians, mathematicians, from the theory and practice of complex adaptive systems; and synthesizing them into a minimum set of constraints required to support the complexity that is modern individual human beings.

A strict hierarchy of priority there:
life – individual life, universally;
liberty – individual liberty – universally, provided it does not deliver undue risk to the life or liberty of other individuals (already into extremely complex possibility space); and the
pursuit of happiness – whatever we each responsibly choose, and of course there will be defaults provided at different levels by our biology and culture, and those can be overridden by conscious choice, and must be considered by conscious choice in the contexts of life and liberty above.

So not any sort of liberty to simply follow whim or fancy, but something profoundly more responsible, in that it requires conscious contemplation of the reasonably foreseeable consequences of choices. A responsibility on each and every one of us to use our best endeavors, make our best guesses (acknowledging profound uncertainty in everything we think and do), to maintain a context that best supports life and liberty – universally.

My key thesis is that when most things were genuinely scarce, then one could make a reasonable case that markets did in fact do that.
And my thesis continues:
But now that we are exponentially expanding our computational abilities, our ability to search the space of all possible algorithms, all possible models, all possible modalities of action and strategy, valuation and response; our abilities to fully automate the manipulation of matter and energy that was once the domain of conscious human activity; that the scarcity based systems of valuation and exchange embodied in markets and the idea of money and all the many levels of very complex systems that are derivative from markets (upon which our existence and freedom is currently very dependent) no longer support the values of individual life and individual liberty, and are exponentially moving into the strategic territory of posing increasing probability of existential level risk.

Put as simply as possible, markets and money were once arguably the greatest tools to aid life and liberty, but in the presence of fully automated systems, are now becoming the single greatest source of existential level risk.

And it is beyond any reasonable doubt that we need fully automated systems to mitigate many of the existential level risks that we have already identified. So it is money and markets that must go – not automation. To go without automation guarantees extinction, we just don’t know when.

As a very limited example – just look at the way that the interests of money have shaped the American political system, and how, rather than acknowledging that effective social structures need both conservative and liberal in appropriate roles and appropriate balance; forces them into an oppositional system that becomes an oscillator that threatens to shake the very fabric of social existence apart.

From a systems view – it is a simple oscillator – an inductive capacitive loop – and it is shaking the system apart.

But I’m a weird geek.
I have been for over 50 years.
Over 30 of those years running a small software company.

For over 44 years (since completing my undergrad biochemistry studies and realizing that indefinite life extensions was logically possible) I have been looking at the systems that are humanity, from the perspective of “What systems are required to give individuals that are biologically capable of living indefinitely a reasonable probability of living a very long time with the greatest degrees of freedom possible?”.

And freedom in this sense acknowledges the physical reality that every level of system requires boundaries to give it form. The more complex the system, the more complex the boundaries required. Recurs as far as you are prepared to go.

So I acknowledge the real need for boundaries – all levels, and the reality that such boundaries are necessary to empower freedom at higher levels, and that there is no logical limit to how many levels one can instantiate. That is a whole new dimension to diversity for many (even though one could argue that Plato’s Republic goes to n=3 – we are way past 3 now – way past 10).

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DNA Blueprint

DNA Blueprint

Have you ever had your DNA tested to discover the breakdown of your ancestry?

Hi Laurie,

To answer your direct question – no, have not had an ancestral DNA mapping done, yet.

And DNA is interesting at so many different levels.

As my old biochem lecturer was fond of saying, it is much less like a blueprint, and much more lie a recipe, and like in any recipe, the environmental variables can make all the difference. To grow a baby human from a single fertilised cell, the environment of the mother’s womb needs to be controlled to very narrow limits across a vast array of conditions, not simply temperature and pressure, but all manner of chemical limits like salt and sugar concentration, alcohol concentration, many different hormones, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fats, etc….
Any variations will have effects, and some can be severely handicapping if they happen at critical stages in the process (like fetal alcohol syndrome).

And DNA is interesting in many other ways, also.

The rate of “error” in replication is very important. One of the many different levels of our being where we must have a balance between order and chaos, and that balance is very context sensitive.

Too little order (too much chaos), and the ability to sustain complexity degrades to the point of destruction.
Too much order (too little chaos) and nothing much happens (evolutionarily speaking – things remain simple replicators). One needs enough variation for natural selection to work on, but not so much that complexity cannot sustain itself.
And that boundary can be very context sensitive, even within a single strand of DNA, depending on whether it codes for an enzyme, or for some part of the immune targeting system for example.

So DNA, and its sister family of molecules RNA, are vital to life in many different respects, and the complexity of life seems to be the result of those things that happened to have a balance appropriate to their particular contexts.

That boundary between order and chaos seems to be important at about 20 different levels (many of them conceptual and cultural).

So rather than a blueprint, it seems much more like a recipe, a guidebook in a sense, for a suite of processes that necessarily contain fundamental uncertainty, at the same time as they deliver and support profoundly complex pattern.

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Singularity 1on1 – interview with David Wood

Futurist David Wood – Singularity 1 on 1

Comments to a debate David and I have been having for quite a few years now.

Well done David and Nikola, and as usual 😉 – a few quibbles.

The multiverse interpretation of QM involves absurdly increasing amounts of matter and energy.

A much more conservative view of QM is to simply accept fundamental uncertainty (rather than pursuing our childish love of certainty).

The hard thing is accepting that mathematics is a modeling tool. It gives us the best models we can have, and the model is not necessarily the thing being modeled. If the very concept of irrational numbers, like Pi, doesn’t deal a death blow to determinism, then one really hasn’t thought about it deeply enough.

To me, it seems clear beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that there is an eternal and fundamental balance between order and chaos – at every level of structure it is required, and at some levels must be actively balanced.

We require degrees of order to give us form, we require degrees of chaos to give us freedom. From this view, how and what we choose (to the degrees we each enable the degrees of choice we have), is important.

In this context, from a systems perspective, morality is a necessary set of boundaries to enable the emergence and survival of the level of complexity that is embodied within each of us.

Rather than changing human nature, I say we are simply exploring the next logical level of systems available to humanity. Complex adaptive systems are by definition exploratory, by the time about 20 levels of recursion are present, those systems can start exploring the nature of the space of possible systems.

By this definition, humanity becomes much more about systems than it is about biology, so we all develop aspects that are non-biological, and we will start meeting people who are non biological in origin.
And we are all evolved complex systems, and reality is the ultimate selection mechanism that determines what survives.

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Mental Illness

Ideapod – is oversimplification of mental illness useful

By definition, over simplification is not useful.

And reality seems to be so complex, that our experiential models of it must be a simplifications to some degree. So we must acknowledge that reality.

And there is a lot in Krishnamurti’s quote “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

Yes there are many chemical aspects to depression, including diet, as there are many social aspects, systemic aspects, cultural aspects, and aspects of individual choice.

Like most things in reality, it can be profoundly complex, and sometimes there are remarkably simple things people can do, and sometimes not. Every individual is profoundly unique, at the same time as we are all profoundly similar. Both are true.

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In Shadow

Ideapod – In Shadow

A great little image of modern life – if you are prepared to look within to the unpleasant aspects of self, and see through them to the greatness that is also present.
The author’s website – and Vimeo links

Brilliant little piece.

For it correlates beautifully to ideas like Jordan Peterson’s, and the possibilities present in universal abundance, at the same time as it points to the dangers of not examining deeply the incentive structures present in using markets to measure value.

Yes going within is hard, and unpleasant. and we must know ourselves first, at least to the degree that we do. We must be able to see the many layers of our masks, of our patterns, of our hidden incentives to action, at the same time as we find our degrees of freedom, and our responsibility.

And it is powerful to understand the overwhelming evolutionary power of cooperation, and see through the dominant lie that evolution is all about competition.

Evolution certainly can and does have a competitive component, and we are the most cooperative species we know of, and can take cooperation to the next level, if we so choose.

And there must always be a balance between order and chaos!

We need both!!!

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London Futurists – Real Democracy

Reality seems to contain the twin tyrannies – the majority and the minority. Finding a system that avoids both in practice is a seriously non-trivial problem. Any simplistic approach to democracy becomes a tyranny of the majority that removes the possibility of existential freedom for entities such as myself.

Finding a balance between order and chaos, between the known and the unknown, between the proven and the yet to be explored, is an eternal challenge, for which there can (by definition) be no fixed approach. Accepting that reality can be hard for conservatives. Accepting the need for some sorts of restrictions can be hard for liberals. Eternal tension must exist.

Modern democracies are extremely complex, multi-leveled, complex adaptive systems; and the necessity of the magnitude of that complexity can only increase.


Being over 4 standard deviations outside of normal on many metrics, the chances of anyone like me being selected by sortition is vanishingly small.

The chances of anyone with significantly less experience, across the range I have actively explored for the last 50 years, understanding the magnitude of the issues I see, let alone the solutions, is vanishlingly small.

The probability of group survival under such a system would seem to be small.

Simple sortition does not seem to be in the class of solutions to the very complex issues we face. Though a more complex variant, that involves random search, might be usable.

Strict sortition would seem to guarantee that a hidden elite would invisibly run the system, as no one within it would be likely to have any significant probability of detecting such influences, let alone countering them.

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