Who is the most reliable leader in the world to help overcome the crisis of the pandemic?

Who is the most reliable leader in the world to help overcome the crisis of the pandemic?

[ 26/August/21 I upvoted Neal King’s response, Gabrielle Stuart responded to that with a set of outlandish claims.]

What reliable evidence do you have for such assertions?

Maybe, at some scales, in some places, but not generally.

And I don’t live in China, I live in New Zealand.

I do have reliable information about here.

We have had 26 people die of covid. Scaled to US, that would be about 1,800 – over the entire period of the pandemic. USA has had over 350 times as many deaths (on a population basis), has had far longer in various forms of lockdown, and has had far greater economic impact.


Because the US population generally refuses to accept the mathematical and strategic fact that cooperation is required for survival in complex systems. Many people insist on believing the false myth that freedom and security are enhanced by competition.

There is nothing wrong with a bit of competition, provided that it is firmly build on a cooperative base. Even Adam Smith recognized that markets without ethics necessarily failed.

It isn’t a new idea.

It does have multiple new levels of support from logic, from games theory, for the modern synthesis of evolutionary theory; but those things require a willingness to value evidence over dogma or belief.

New Zealand took a cooperative approach, and we eliminated the virus – twice. We are in the process of doing it again. It keeps coming through the border because other nations have not been so cooperative or responsible.

The USA, supposedly the bastion of individual life and individual liberty, seems to value both very lowly, having sacrificed 5 times as many people to this virus as they did to the entire Vietnam conflict. And at some level, it was a conscious level sacrifice by those in authority who had to have had advice that this virus was easy to eliminate. It just required a lockdown of people for two months, with full support of all citizens to make that happen.

Not that difficult.

Not exactly rocket science.

Basic strategy that I was taught in second year microbiology in the early 70s, and it was a very old, tried, and tested strategy back then.

Anyone pretending anything else is doing so for motives that have nothing to do with valuing life and liberty.

Posted in Nature, Politics | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Why does everyone think overpopulation is a really terrible thing?

Why does everyone think overpopulation is a really terrible thing?

[ 26/August/21 ]

It is, by definition.

It is the “Over” in “overpopulation” that by definition states that the population is beyond the ability of the particular environment to sustain it. By definition, a state of “overpopulation”, in a static context, will lead to population crash. The dynamics of such things are well understood.

Humans have an ability to be creative, to change contexts.

So a change in context can remove the “over” and just leave a “population”.
for more on that subject.

Posted in Our Future, understanding | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Does an increasing human population only have cons, or are there some pros?

Does an increasing human population only have cons, or are there some pros?

[ 26/August/21 ]

As always, everything depends on context.

If you have a context of a market driven exploitive mindset, where everyone aspires to have a big V8 powered car, a fast boat, an aircraft, and a large house that consumes vast amounts of materials and electricity, and the latest set of toys; then we are already overpopulated and more population is a bad thing.

Actually, that mode of existence self terminates for a host of reasons, and population is one of the lesser ones.

If, however, people can accept travel by electric vehicles, a somewhat slower pace of life, and a plant based diet. Then the planet can safely and securely accommodate several times our current population, all with reasonable degrees of security and freedom. That does assume that most people accept the strategic reality that security demands cooperation, reasonableness, and responsibility at all levels of complexity and agency.

If one extends the concepts of the last paragraph, and has an international cooperative effort to develop stable long term technologies for the benefit of all; and allow all reasonable degrees of freedom (something impossible under purely market based systems); then it is very probable and reasonable that we develop space based civilizations based initially on mass launched from the moon by fully automated manufacturing systems on the moon. On the broad scale there is ample energy and mass available in the wider solar system to support a human population of several trillion, and there are very real limits to how many people we can sustain on the earth with reasonable degrees of security, technology and freedom – and we are not too far away from those limits.

An increasing human population in a competitive context, necessarily leads to extinction – the logic of that strategic outcome is beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt.

An increasing human population in a cooperative context where all individuals accept both responsibility and the need to respect diversity (the essential product of any real degrees of freedom); can be maintained for some time yet; and there are real limits to any particular set of systems and contexts; and they must be respected for security’s sake.

And such things are extremely complex, with many levels of limits and responsibility required. Cooperation in such complexity demands multiple levels of responsibility from every instance and level of agency. Fundamental uncertainty must be accepted by all. No set of rules can work in all contexts, that much is beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt; and at the same time it is also beyond any reasonable doubt that every level of complexity requires constraints to give it form. There must be boundaries, and if the boundaries are too hard, inflexible, or impermeable, then they become brittle and break, leading to total system failure.

Every level of agency an individual claims must necessarily involve new levels of responsibility. There is no escape from that; it seems beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that there is no absolute certainty, any level.

In a fundamentally cooperative context, with reasonable levels of resource availability, then increasing populations provides for increasing security, in the diversity available to meet the uncertain challenges that are necessarily present in any set of infinities (and we seem to exist within a potentially infinite set of infinities). Cooperation and responsibility can lead to eternally increasing security and diversity and potential for interest.

In a fundamentally competitive system, complexity is necessarily driven to some set of minima on the available complexity landscape, and at some point that will become insufficient to address some unexpected context, leading to extinction. By definition, such things cannot be predicted in anything other that a probabilistic sense. A bit like the earthquake we had here in Kaikoura 5 years ago. I was prepared for it, all my preparations worked, it had little effect on our house. Afterwards many asked me how did I know it would happen. My response was, I knew it had to happen, just not when. I had no idea it would happen that night, but I had known since 1974 that indefinite life extension was possible, and am now confident that on current technological trajectories will be available by 2035; so when I moved to Kaikoura it was with the intention of living here for about 5,000 years, and knowing that over such a time I would live through about 15 major earthquakes. So my instructions to the engineer designing extensions to the small house we bought was “make it stand up to a Richter 8.5”. It did. Backup power and water systems all worked as designed. Simple really.

I cannot say with certainty when a market based system will self destruct, it is a complex system, like plate tectonics; but I can say with confidence that any system built on a fundamentally competitive basis will self destruct; it is not a matter of if, only a matter of when.

So there can be pros to increasing human population, but only if all act cooperatively and responsibly, and respect the multiple levels of diversity that must necessarily emerge in such a context. It demands that we migrate away from using competitive markets as primary measures of value. That will be difficult for some to accept.

Posted in Our Future | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Is this the right time to elaborate a narrative of a global morality which could help solve conflicting issues and minimize humanity crisis that we are facing everyday?

Is this the right time to elaborate a narrative of a global morality which could help solve conflicting issues and minimize humanity crisis that we are facing everyday?

[ 24/August/21 ]

As good a time as any, and better than many.

If one looks at life from a strategic evolutionary perspective, then it is clear that all levels of complex life are based upon new levels of cooperation.

Every level of cooperation (and the complexity based on it) requires sets of cheat detection and removal strategies to prevent invasion and destruction by sets of cheating strategies.

At higher levels, these are expressed as levels of morality.

The common dogmas that:
Evolution is all about competition; and
Market competition is the friend of liberty;
are both simply wrong. The reality is much more complex than that, and at our level of complexity it is much more accurate to say that both evolution and liberty are mostly about cooperation.

Any real expression of liberty results in diversity, and any diversity that is not an unreasonable threat needs to be accepted and respected.

We have the potential to develop and deploy technology to mitigate all identified threats to humanity, and to give all individuals reasonable levels of security; but doing so demands global cooperation between multiple levels, classes and instances of diverse systems and agents.

Such cooperation is nothing like control, it is something very different.

It does in fact seem to be the only future with any significant probability of long term survival for any (and that is a very complex and very deep discussion).

Posted in Our Future | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What is one thing you do to save the Earth?

What is one thing you do to save the Earth?

[ 24/August/21 ]

Support cooperative, responsible action in every domain that you can.

Part of responsibility is being alert for cheating strategies against cooperation at any and all levels you are able.

Another part of responsibility is being as aware as reasonably possible about the long term consequences of your choices on both people and the environment, and mitigating any negative ones as much as reasonably possible.

Posted in Ideas, Our Future, understanding | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Facebook post about work on Hutton’s Shearwater colony predator proof fence.

Facebook post about work on Hutton’s Shearwater colony predator proof fence.

[ 23/August/21 ]

Actually this particular piece of work (about 23 hours in total) was adding screws and washers to ensure that there are no mouse sized gaps in the lower “mouse proof” section of the fence.

When installed, stainless steel staples were placed over a stainless steel wire over the mesh, securing the mesh to the boards. (An outer cap of galvanised iron provides an effective barrier to mice getting over the board, to the larger mesh above, provided that vegetation is kept low at all times.) On some boards, those staples had worked loose over time, some as a result of impacts from outside. In some places gaps were big enough to allow my hand to pass. Other boards seemed to have internal characteristics that made them more resistant to such loosening over time. Screws are far more resistant to such loosening than staples.

The entire fence has had the staples supplemented with screws and washers in an alternating pattern of “above wire” then “below wire”. That alternating pattern served to tension the wire, and improve holding. Spacing is generally about 30cm where the mesh was taught, but in areas where ground undulations forced extra curvature into the mesh, then screws had to be added as close as 5cm in some places to ensure no gaps remained.

This exercise has clearly shown that it is worth doing regular maintenance of a couple of hours every couple of months, to keep vegetation clear, and ensure that there are no pathways for mammals to enter the enclosure. This seems to be how mice got in, and why the 700 hours spent two years ago removing all mice didn’t stop there being more mice there now.

Work involves trimming of flaxes (keeping them and their cut leaves at least 2m from the fence), raking and removal of cabbage tree leaves (death to weed-eaters), weed-eating inside and out.

Posted in diary | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Faith, insight and understanding

[ 24/August/21 Walter Smith asked Faith, insight and understanding:
Is man’s ability to attain insight and understanding through faith a supernatural gift?]


Faith is a self referential mind virus the prevents further questioning and understanding.

We all necessarily start with various levels of “faith”, many implicit in the structures of culture and language that we are born into.

It does seem to be possible to go beyond any and all forms of “faith”, and to operate from a realm of “balance of probabilities”, where nothing is absolutely certain, and some things are far more reliable in some contexts than others. Moving to such a multidimensional landscape of probabilities is hard work, and does by definition dismantle all the implicit truths of culture and language.

Reality is often sufficiently constrained by time that we all need to use simplifications in some contexts. The simplest simplification is to have “Truth”. It makes decisions easy and fast. It is strongly selected for by evolution in many contexts; so strongly that many cannot even imagine anything beyond it.

It seems beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that the very concept of gods is a radical over simplification of the extremely complex reality of the evolution of complex systems. And in many contexts it is a useful simplification, that gives a degree of respect for the diversity present (which is required for long term survival). Systems theory, decision theory, non-binary logics, games theory, AI systems, complexity theory, quantum mechanics, cosmology, evolution etc are all relatively recent inventions, and it takes a lot of time and effort to become relatively familiar with them all. Most have neither the time nor interest, so resort of simplifications – like God. That is understandable in a sense. The evolution of faith is predicted by evolutionary theory, in some contexts.

It does in fact seem to be entirely possible to go beyond faith, even if under stress we are all necessarily constrained to resort to various levels of “faith”.

Posted in understanding | Tagged | Leave a comment

Foundations of Logic – Question on Understanding

Foundations of Logic – Question on Understanding

[ 24/August/21 Walter Kant asked
What is man’s capacity to know and understand:
1.limited (man is not able to know and understand everything)
2.extended (man is able to know and understand more than everything)
3.neither limited nor extended, but only finely tuned to what can be known.]

1 – The evidence is beyond reasonable doubt that we are finite computational entities.

That means that we cannot explore any single infinity in any finite time.

We seem to have an infinity of infinities available to explore.

Therefore, by definition, we may not know everything.

It seems to actually be far more complex than that.

It seems very probable that the universe in which we live is actually fundamentally unknowable and unpredictable in many different ways; and only approximates classical causality at our scale of existence, because complexity such as we are can only possibly emerge in contexts where classical causality is approximated to reasonable degrees. Too much randomness is necessarily destructive of complexity.

Evolution punishes slowness much more harshly than slight inaccuracy, hence we all have deeply evolved tendencies to simplify, at multiple levels of perception and computation. We all seem to inhabit our own subconsciously generated Virtual Reality versions of whatever Objective Reality actually is.

Thus we tend to make our simplistic understandings of the reality of our being and our context, usually using the simplest of possible logics (binary – True/False – and its related mathematical constructs); and most seem to think that because it is (necessarily) a reasonably close fit; that the universe does in fact obey necessary causal rules.

That does not need to be the case.

It does seem to me, on balance of probabilities, as an autistic geek who has been investigating this question for over 50 years, to actually be the case that we do live in a universe that is a balance of chaos and order – where the truly random is constrained by probability functions; and does at our level of existence usually very closely approximate classical causality.

It is only in such a universe, where systems are influenced by each other, but not totally constrained, that there can be any real degrees of “freedom”.

It does seem to be the case that we do in fact have some reasonable degrees of freedom.

It does seem to be the case that such freedom comes with responsibilities if it is to survive long term.

This much does seem to be discoverable and understandable if one devotes sufficient time and energy to doing so. (It helps if one has an autistic brain that essentially does math very fast, very accurately – I used to expect 100% in all math tests, and to be first finished – didn’t always happen that way, and mostly it did.)

[followed by – Walter asked:
Do you also see influences of something supernatural (like God?) in your perspective?]

It seems very unlikely. Multi-dimensional evolutionary pressures seem to be quite complex enough to account for all observed phenomena that I have experienced or investigated.

Positing any sort of God doesn’t simplify anything, it just starts one thinking about the sorts of contexts such a God could have evolved in – kind of breaks Ockham’s Razor (recursively).

[followed by If the universe is unknowable and unpredictable, perhaps it would be possible for us to know it correctly after all (as unknowable and unpredictable)?]

One may understand some things about system constraints, without being able to predict how a system behaves exactly in any instant. Many different classes of system are like that. One of the simpler ones is xp[next] = r.xp.(1 – xp) – for values of r between one and 4. It gets interesting after 3. https://tedhowardnz.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/playing-with-chaos/

When people talk about “knowing”, most usually think about absolute certainty. That does not seem to be an option.

What we seem to have is probabilities.

In some contexts they can very closely approximate classical certainty.

[Followed by – Randy replied …”Have you done any research into systems in dynamic equilibrium.”…]

Hi Randy,

That is kind of a definition of life.

Biology has been an interest of mine as long as I can recall. I was given direct entry into stage 2 biochemistry at 17. The structures and systems of the chemistry of life are fascinating.

And yes, there have to be mechanisms to limit positive feedbacks. Biology is replete with such things, at many different levels.

[Followed by – in response to Randy’s …”in a star if that system was not a dynamic equilibrium pure chance would require some of them to form a positive feedback loop”…]

Yeah – that does sometimes happen.

We do see nova, supernova, pulsars, quasars, and all manner of energetic and dangerous phenomena in the wider universe. No shortage of less energetic but equally dangerous things on this planet.

If there is a lesson to be taken from the cosmological and geological records it is that positive feedbacks do happen periodically, and survival probabilities for individuals can be very low indeed in such events, even survival probabilities for species can get very low.

We have the potential to actively manage most of those classes of risk, but only once we have reached agreement that cooperation between all classes of agents is actually the only survivable long term strategy. Several classes of agents are currently working from such low resolution models of the complexity actually present that they do not recognize the risk (and that in itself is a major cause of risk).

It is difficult to use the term “equilibrium” to describe such systems in any meaningful way.

Posted in understanding | Tagged | Leave a comment

What is slowing down human progress

What is slowing down human progress

[ 23/August/21 ]

Market incentives.

Posted in economics, understanding | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Lifeboat discussion on Covid-19

Lifeboat discussion on Covid-19

[ 21/August/21 ]

A vaccine is only useful if it is part of an elimination strategy.

If the objective is not elimination, then you will be forever making new vaccines, and you will have a constantly evolving threat. It is fairly basic biology – the sort of stuff I could have told anyone as a school child with a passion for biology 50 years ago.

It is relatively easy to eliminate. We have done it in New Zealand twice, we’re in the process of doing it again with the Delta variant – it having gotten through the border last week.

So much mis-information and straight out lies for economic and political and power gain to various subsets of our communities.

[followed by 22//8/21 – Even the bigger island country of Taiwan is having to fall back on vaccines to keep things under control.]

Yes Eric, but that is only so because countries like the USA refuse to take effective action to eliminate the virus, and they keep reinfecting other places.

If the USA took reasonable action to eliminate the virus, actually supported every member of their society to stay at home and isolate for 8 weeks – ensure that essential services kept running, that everyone got food delivered, had water, shelter, communication – that their long term futures were secure – then the virus could be eliminated.

So long as places like the US keep promoting the myth that evolution is all about competition, and that competitive markets can solve any problem, and are the basis of freedom (all demonstrably false – and all part of higher level cheating strategies); then we are all at risk from the irresponsible behaviors that result.

And it is not just the US, and they are the obvious and easy target to pick on.

Posted in Nature, Our Future | Tagged , | Leave a comment