Medium – Mathematical Reality

A foundations of logic link to the medium article What is Mathematical Reality?

It seems entirely probable to me that reality need not be causal in any hard sense, and it is undeniable that it is a very close approximation in many contexts.

It seems that mathematical and logical reality is a set of relationships that can be instantiated by following particular sets of rules.
In this sense, they have a certain reality, independent of any particular instantiation in any particular mind (human or non-human, biological or non-biological).
Does the existence of such systems mean that reality (whatever it actually is) necessarily follows any particular set of rules in any particular context?
No. Not necessarily.

Reality (whatever it actually is) seems to be very complex, and seems to have aspects that are fundamentally uncertain within particular sets of constraints. Thus it can approximate causal systems very closely in large collections, and the smallest thing a human can see is a very large collection of fundamental stuff, so things tend to behave reasonably lawfully most of the time at our normal level of perception.

It seems very likely that minds are the result of evolution, and that non-mindful matter existed prior to mind, and therefore that whatever reality is, it can get along just fine without minds to observe it.

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Quora – evolution and aging

Why hasn’t evolution dealt with the inefficiency of aging?

Each of the other answers address some aspect of the issue, and it is far more complex than any of them indicate.

Yes, there is an aspect to it that the effect of deleterious mutations later in life is less if it happens after reproduction happens. And when considering that, one has to consider the entire environment of reproduction, which includes raising individuals in communities to a level that all the knowledge embodied in the stories and traditions of that community can be passed on – so not a simple metric.

Yes, there is an aspect that evolution is about reproduction and differential survival of variants in different contexts. And evolution quite quickly becomes much more than just that, as many levels of “strategy” emerge and become significant influences on survival.

If you consider that everything alive today, from the simplest bacteria, to plants, animals, us; appear most probably to be all equally the result of evolution on this planet from a single common cellular ancestor some 4 billion years ago, then one can start to see just how big an influence context has on what evolves.

The default mode for cellular life is indefinite life.

Cells do not, by default, lose function as they age.

Bacteria divide in two when they reach a certain size. Which of those two is the original? Each would (if it could, which it can’t) consider itself to be the original one.

Thus there is a very real sense in which all cells alive today can be thought of as the original cell changed by the particular context of its existence through time.

Considered that way, it becomes obvious that age related senescence (loss of function) is a genetically acquired characteristic that has led to the evolution of more complex life forms (as the life forms without it are still much simpler).

So when one looks at aging in this context, where one is dealing with the survival of sexually reproducing populations of individuals (which populations can at one level be considered as individuals for evolutionary purposes, just as we consider ourselves to be individuals even though from a cellular perspective we are a cooperating colony of trillions of cells), one can see that limiting the life expectancy of individuals within a population allows for the population to adapt far more quickly, and develop far greater levels of complexity, than populations of individuals that are not so limited. The mathematics and logic for that are far from simple, and apply only to sexually reproducing populations.

We are far from simple.

Even the simplest human being embodies at least 15 levels of complex cooperative systems.

For species like ourselves, it is far more accurate to say that evolution is all about cooperation, than to say evolution is all about competition.

For bacteria, evolution is much more nearly all about competition, that is why they are still simple bacteria.

The sort of complexity that we are is predicated on multiple levels of cooperation.

To a good first order approximation, our survival demands cooperation at all levels. The idea that many have, that evolution is all about competition, is, in respect of organisms like ourselves, essentially wrong.

And we are much more complex than simple ideas like cooperation verses competition can possibly express.

Our survival as a species is also predicated on the spectrum of diversity that we see in all the different spectra present (emotions, personalities, sociality, conservative-liberal, intellectual ability, etc). We need that diversity, and pretending otherwise dooms us to extinction. Every individual is more complex than even the most intellectual is capable of appreciating in detail, and as such demands respect and tolerance.

So to be able to understand the evolution of aging, and to be able to see the need in our present technological and social reality to go beyond aging, and once again extend indefinitely the life of individuals (at a level beyond cell), one needs to be able to appreciate levels of complexity that very few people have the time or inclination or innate ability to investigate and comprehend.

One of the things that 50 years of interest in evolution has taught me, is that if you cannot see how efficient evolution is, then you are not looking at it through the most appropriate context.

Aging was efficient in the context of our development to this point.

Our exponentially changing intellectual and technological context has made that no longer the case.

That reality will be very difficult for people on the more conservative end of the spectrum to comprehend and appreciate. That is a risk that evolution has not previously encountered at this sort of level.

We are in new territory.

This is seriously non-trivial complexity, and it seems clear to me beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that the survival of all of us in now predicated on both universal cooperation and individual life extension.
Market metrics of value are no longer suitable tools for future planning – we have passed that threshold.

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Foundations of Logic group – markets and risk

A link from Foundations of Logic Group – NEWS Deadly Incurable Illness Spreading Across The Globe Infecting Nearly A Million People

Just one more of the many examples where market incentives are directly at variance with human survival. It is in the interests of drug companies to sell more drugs, not to keep stores of them only to be used in dire emergencies. Hence we keep breeding resistant strains.

We need to go beyond markets, and soon, if we wish to survive.

If really is getting that simple and that urgent!

[followed by]

Hi Dirk,

Agree in part only.
Yes markets do measure a particular type of value, value in exchange. As such, they give a real time measure of the arbitrage of the raft of different values that individuals bring to a market place.
So to that degree, and to that degree only, I agree with you.

But that is most certainly not all that markets do.

Markets are a part of a very complex stack of systems of value, and as such have some degree of influence on the valence of every set on systems in that stack.

For many entities, the abstract measure of value that markets use (the myth of money) is the major valance influence.
To the degree that entities use money as a planning metric, as a proxy for all forms of value, then to that degree markets have a huge influence on systemic and human behaviour at many different levels.

The idea that the measure of value that markets deliver (money – value in exchange) is a reasonable proxy for human value more generally, is losing cohesion to the degree that automation is taking over the production and delivery of goods and services.

It is a highly dimensional problem space – potentially infinitely so.

[followed by]

Hi Dirk,

We all have many different levels of values.

We have survival values – food, water, shelter, clothing.
We have various genetically imposed values, like sex, and various aspects of sociality, and various preferences for taste, smell, texture, pattern, security, etc
We have a potentially indefinitely extensible set of preferences in different contexts.
All of these will be in a context sensitive hierarchy – so the more hungry we are, the higher finding food becomes in our hierarchy of values.

A market arbitrages all values into a single metric – money.
If people only have enough numbers to meet a very small subset of their needs, then the ones met will tend to be the most basic of survival needs, and all others will become subservient; but past a critical value, even this fails, and people go to very low level genetic approximations to what would have done that on average over time for their ancestors.

For those people who have enough numbers to meet all their survival needs, then money can become quite a trivial thing, with little real impact or value in their lives; and that fact can lead to a great deal of perceived injustice.

In our past, most people could develop skills which had value in exchange for other people.
Automation has changed that.

Now very few people (and with a decade no-one) will be able to deliver any good or service for less energy than a fully automated system.

Most people then have no way of generating numbers (money) to use in a market based system.

We need the automation, we cannot feed everyone without it.

Yet the systems of exchange that were a reasonable proxy for value more generally fail under a context of fully automated systems.

Von Mises was a smart guy, and he developed some very powerful ideas. What I am talking about is way beyond anything he ever conceptualised.

[followed by]

Hi Dirk,

Full automation means being able to have programmed machines doing every part of the system from mining to manufacturing to delivery to operation to recycling, including all the improvements to design and coordination involved in that.

What it means is no requirement for human involvement. If someone wants to be involved, fine. If they don’t, then that works too.

Google is probably further down that path than any other non governmental organisation, but lots of others are there too, IBM has probably been at it for longest. You will have seen Watson win at Jeopardy.

Who knows exactly what governments get up to with their black operations. I have met a lot of very smart people in the 50 years I have been programming computers and mixing in many top level groups. And while very few of them have told me any details of what they have been up to, quite a bit can be inferred from the gaps.

When you master the skill of sitting in a cafeteria or restaurant or bar or work-space and listening to 12 different conversations simultaneously, then you can learn quite a bit quite quickly.

It is no only imaginable, it is already real within limited domains.

The machines can already maintain and improve better than we can. Right now, they are still more expensive than we are to build, and that is changing rapidly. On current trends, which have been stable for over 100 years, there will not be any jobs left that humans can do better and cheaper than machines by 2035 (all lifecycle costs considered).

For most people, we have already past that point.

Social inertia, and some level of choice by many individuals, is holding the existing system together; but the internal pressures are building exponentially.

We need as many people as possible, as aware as possible, as quickly as possible; and prepared to think and act independently, for their own and the group that is humanity’s survival.

This is a problem like non-other in history in a very real sense; yet in anther sense it has some analogies to some of the messages deeply captured in many religious traditions (and I am a self declared functional atheist – more of an eclectic humanist/trans-humanist).

[followed by]

Hi Dirk,

Yes – very challenging. Has been challenging me for some 30 years.

I am not talking about a pure machine society.
I am talking about a society that has an expanding range of biological and non-biological sapient entities, and a range of entities that are a mix of both, to varying degrees – humans to cyborgs to AGIs.
And most of the automation will be non-sapient, non-sentient – just machines programmed to do what they do, without any particular intelligence.

Part of being a transhumanist is acknowledging that every sapient entity, human and non-human, biological and non-biological (and anything in between) have the same rights to individual existence and individual freedom, and the same demands for responsible actions in social and ecological contexts. No right exists without a responsibility, two sides of the same coin – always.

[followed by another sub thread – can we control evolution?]

Hi Michael,

Humanity is now shifting into a new level of problem space that has no historical precedent.

Technology is evolving at a rate that is on a double exponential, and is creating systemic changes that has nothing directly equivalent that those on the “conservative” side of the spectrum (and we all have our conservative aspects) can look to history for direct guidance. There are some analogies that are workable at some levels (and Jordan Peterson explores some of those quite well), but nothing direct.

Nature doesn’t “always find an equilibrium” (much of nature is actually far from equilibrium systems that are constrained in some set of ways that give the illusion of equilibrium).

Extinction is actually extremely common – it is the normal fate of most species – way over 90% of species go extinct if you look at the geological record.

So don’t look to “nature” for security – you will not find it.

We need to go well beyond any of the systems currently in existence if we want a reasonable chance of living a very long time.

It is a class of problems well beyond what most people are willing or able to consider in detail.

[followed by]

Hi Michael,

There is no way to escape all problems and risks; and there can be an infinite path of risk discovery and mitigation.

I like the quote from Helen Keller that goes something like – security is mostly a myth, life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.

To a degree I align with that.

If life becomes just about mitigating risks, then we lose much that it is to live.

Existence cannot be without risk, and we can learn how to mitigate the worst of the risks from our past, even as we learn about new risks in the future.

The classes of risk we can become conscious of seems to be potentially infinite.

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London Futurists – Mental Health

The future of mental health

How does one define mental health?

From a fundamentalist religious point of view, it means being able to hold a singular absolute truth above all evidence and question.

From a judicial perspective it is what a judge declares.

From a scientific point of view, it means holding all knowledge lightly (as probability functions), and being able to question any and all assumptions if it seems appropriate and necessary to do so.

From an evolutionary perspective, almost everything is a heuristic historically appropriate to some level of context.

Context is king.

We are fundamentally cooperative entities.

No surprise that many have difficulties in today’s competitive context, particularly when it is obviously not necessary, but is there for the benefit of a few at cost to the many.

If we want a scientific approach to mental health, then we must change the context.

It is not a matter of psychedelics, but of systems based in cooperation and fairness.

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Foundations of Logic group – understanding self

Foundations of Logic – “In concise words, tell us how the idea that we cannot know who we are and be who we are at the same time can be overcome.”

What does the best evidence we have seem to indicate is most likely?

What are we?

We seem to be a form of evolved cellular life with a very complex brain.

What sort of numbers are involved in each and every one of us?

Think about all the people on the planet – something over 7 billion. How many is that?
If you were to sit and watch people going past for 8 hours a day 7 days a week, and they were going past at 10 people per second, then it would take you about 70 years to see them all.
We have about 10,000 times that many cells in our bodies (about 10% of them associated with neural networks and information processing at some level).
Inside each cell is about 5 times as many molecules as we have cells in our bodies.
Each cell contains between 30,000 and 50,000 different types of molecules at any instant.

We understand something about the general classes of interactions present, but not much at all that gets very close to the definition of “Truth”, the vast majority of it much more like “contextually useful approximation” (heuristic).

As conscious entities, a highly trained individual can perceive changes at about 180 cycles per second, but most cannot manage much past 12.
Anything happening in a lesser time occurs simultaneously in our perceptual experience (25 frames per second occurs to most people as continuous motion).

So we can have some good heuristics for some levels of our activity, and the vast bulk of us are far more ignorant than we are knowledgeable about who and what we are.
Some of the split brain studies are really worth looking deeply at to see the depths to which we deceive ourselves, and justify things to ourselves.

I have been fascinated by the logic and the reality of evolution and life and the many levels and types of systems instantiated in different life forms for over 50 years. The more I discover, the more I realise that all of what I once took for knowledge is much more like a “useful approximation” to something, rather than any sort of “Truth across all space and time”.

And some of our approximations can be quite useful and accurate – some accurate to 12 decimal places or more – so quite good enough in most contexts.

And it is worth considering that there are more Planck time units in a single “tick” of a cesium atom than there have been ticks of a cesium atom in the age of the universe to date. So sometimes uncertainties are at a very low level, and can be ignored for practical purposes, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t there.
And other times the uncertainties are right in our faces.

There are entire classes of problems for which the only reasonable solution is an “oracle” (a “black box” producing a random output within a usually survivable class of actions). Throughout most of human history (and even today) most people consider such random outputs as “Truths”, because such things are easier to fit into their conceptual models.

Understanding something of the evolutionary pressures that have produced our tendency to over-simplify complexity at all levels is step one on an infinite journey towards mitigating the worsts of the risks such behaviour causes.
And for any human being, that systemic complexity involves at least 15 levels of complex adaptive cooperative systems (each level with vast populations of instances of complexity and uncertainty). And certainly some statistics give us useful approximations in some contexts, and not so useful in others.

[followed by Pawel asked in part Could we discuss the alternative method of understanding the complexity? Principle of evolution and complexity growth?]

Agree Pawel – at least about evolution,

Evolution seems most probably at root of it all.

So few people have much grasp of the process of evolution.

It starts so deceptively simple:
Something that replicates with a degree of fidelity that is less than unity (and the exact degree of variation in variants is important, and very context sensitive).

Different contexts in the environment, where some replicators will survive better than others.

In early stages, evolution is mostly about survival in random and competitive environments.

Cooperation can only emerge when the threat from elements outside of the population of variants is greater than that within, and there is some strategy that can be instantiated that will mitigate that external risk through cooperation, then cooperation can evolve and stabilize if sufficient strategies can be incorporated to detect and remove cheating strategies.

It seems that RNAs require a level of cooperation to make cells, and another level to make DNA.

Hypercycles are a mathematically interesting possibility, and I am not convinced that it was necessarily (or even probably) the path that early life took.

[followed by Dirk offfered Manfred Eigen – What does a hypercycle do? (55/113)]

[followed by Pawel offerred What is life? – Manfred Eigen]

I agree with Eigen.

And we never deal with reality as it is.
All we, as conscious entities can do, is construct our conscious models of the world based upon the subconsciously created model that is our experiential reality. So – a model of a model.

Mathematics is the best modeling tool we have.

Does that mean that mathematics is reality?
No – doesn’t mean that.
And maths is what we have to give us our best models of reality.

And being conscious of that distinction is critical.

Making mathematical models is essential to understanding.
Confusing them with reality is a mistake.

So I have a minimal model that defines life – replication and metabolism. Thus a virus alone is not life. A virus with a cell is life. Like Eigen says – we have to look at populations – and sometimes the definition of population is fuzzy – as anything that provides sufficient barrier or distinction can function as a boundary for an evolutionary unit over some function of space and time. So individual replicators can be part of multiple different systems simultaneously. Not at all simple!!!

[followed by]

Hi Pawel,

I should have been more specific.

I should have written:
It seems very probable, based upon the evidence sets I have experienced, and the sets of possible interpretive schema I have explored and evaluated on a probabilistic basis, that “we never deal with reality as it is”.

That would have explicitly created the context in which all assumptions are seen as probabilistic localisations across vast landscapes of possible schema.

So the schema that seem most probable to me includes (but is not limited to) to following set of probabilistic properties:

what we perceive seems to be a subconsciously generated predictive model of reality – running some tens or hundreds of milliseconds ahead most of the time;

whatever reality actually is, seems to be fundamentally uncertain and fundamentally unknowable in a large set of different ways; and in many common contexts many of the very large collections
of things we interact with do behave in ways that are very predictable (as collections over time) and very closely approximate causal rule based behaviour;

almost all information we have about reality seems to be mediated by photon exchange, and thus we are always dealing with phase relationships;

our perceptual realities are simpler than actual reality by factors of at least 10^20 in most instances, and often much more than that (so very poor sketches, and the best that we can do in the context).

That is a very different context from classical “knowledge”.

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Islamophobia

I Grew Up as a Muslim in New Zealand. I Want You to Know I Belong.

You belong.
One didn’t need to be of a different race or culture to get a hard time growing up, just being different is enough; anywhere on the planet where stress exists.

Understanding why that is so is part of the process of reliably creating something else.

Understanding that reality is so complex that we must all make subconscious simplifications in order to distinguish anything is part of that.
Understanding that evolution demanded of our ancestors that the level of threat limited the amount of time available to make sense of the complexity around us – the more threatened we feel, the simpler the reality appears to us in our experience of being. Under high stress, it gets simplified right down to friend or foe.

Reality is always much more complex than that.

Part of creating an environment that supports diversity is removing as many sources of stress as possible (and in itself that is not enough, and it is a necessary beginning).

Another big part of eliminating such discrimination is understanding that for complex entities like ourselves, evolution is much more about cooperation than competition.
We have a lot to do to change our economic, social and political systems from competitive markets based thinking to cooperative abundance based thinking empowered by fully automated systems.

That change cannot emerge naturally from a competitive market environment. It requires a fundamental shift in understanding.
It takes real work, by many people.

And that shift does seem to be happening for a significant fraction of the population.

There are many of us in New Zealand who accept and welcome you as you are, and there are still some of the “others” who are not always as aware and loving as they imagine themselves to be (for a whole raft of reasons deeply embedded in our biology and our many cultures).

It is the responsibility of all of us who can see this reality, to make it visible to others through who we each be in our daily lives; one conversation at a time, one act of respect and acknowledgement at a time.

Arohanui
Ted

[followed by]

Hi Mark,

I agree in part, that we are what we are, but not entirely with your description of what we are.

Yes – sure, if the situation gets really competitive, then we can all compete, and compete hard to survive. And that is not actually our normal mode of existence, for any of us – not really if you look closely.

We are fundamentally cooperative, and that is the secret of our success.

Humanity has the full spectrum of colours, many above and below what is visible to most people.
Sure, we all have our dark sides.
And we have the other side too.
And it is that “other side”, the cooperative one, that has allowed us to become a population of 7 billion.

It is that cooperative side that needs to change our systems to ensure that we avoid collapse, and that we fundamentally alter the structure of our societies to give the maximum probability of cooperative activity. And there will always be some on any distribution who are outliers, and who will require “special attention”. That must always be the case: The price of liberty is eternal vigilance”.

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Astrobiology

Sigurd in Foundations of logic group – thread on Astrobiology – started with https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21m6KxAIGX0

That is a very simplistic set of videos (Atstro Bio).

Doesn’t really explore the systemic basis for life.
Doesn’t really look at the two fundamental problems – metabolism and replication, and how they intersect.
One needs to have some idea about the structure of molecules, and the idea of resonance, and the mechanisms of catalysis.

It seems very probable that RNA was the original replicator, but the sort of environment required to generate the precursors for RNA is still a difficult question to get hard probabilities on.

The mechanisms we all share around the generation of proteins are all RNA based chemistry, so it seems very probable that DNA was a late comer to the game of life (it is more stable than RNA, and thus makes a better “hard drive”, though it isn’t as good as a “processor”).

Once you have RNA, coming up with metabolism isn’t difficult to imagine. Once you have proteins it is easy to get lipids and cells. But getting the conditions to produce RNA – that is my prime candidate for the “great filter” – at least at the initiator level – other candidates abound for later stages.

[followed by]

Hi Sigurd,

I’m very busy right now, and I’ll try and reply in depth later.

DNA is not a useful molecule for the evolution of life, too inert. Great as a storage medium, but not useful for much else – hence the focus on RNA as the most probable progenitor.

Yes, you can get all sorts of molecules to form in space by all sorts of exotic mechanisms, and perhaps some of that was actually important to the formation of life – we cannot ever be certain, and it seems somewhat improbable to me, as it is very difficult to get liquid water, and aqueous chemistry, in space (and life as we know it demands both). It takes a reasonable sort of atmosphere to get aqueous chemistry, and that requires mass to sustain (even something as large as Mars is dry now, the moon was probably never wet).

The 1 million year claim is too strong – there is no credible evidence that I am aware of. And certainly it was quite quickly, certainly less than a billion years after the last heavy bombardment, and probably within 100 million years – and there are a lot of uncertainties trying to date anything that far back in time.

Have you actually seen a paper that put 95% confidence limits on a 1 million year number?
When talking about 4 billion years ago mostly the confidence limits are around the 100 million year mark (+/-).

There are many simpler replicators than RNA, but replication in and of itself is not enough. What is needed is replication with variation; and that variation needs to provide structural, chemical variation in properties. RNA is in a small class of molecules that achieve that in any sort of reasonably probable set of scenarios. (PAHs {poly aromatic hydrocarbons} are another class, but they have issues).

It is actually difficult to find molecules that achieve sufficient fidelity to sustain complexity, and sufficient variation to provide diversity – it is a very delicate balance; and absolutely fundamental to evolution.

Granted there were many exotic environments, and the environment itself needs to be stable enough and large enough to sustain reasonably large populations of replicators. There are actually quite a lot of constraints on the possibility of life emerging. I don’t have much a problem imagining that it has happened once only in this galaxy. And similarly I wouldn’t have a problem with it being more common – there are that many uncertainties in the depths of the uncertainties involved. It really is unknown in that sense, and we can only speak in terms of general classes of probabilities.

[followed by]

The density of gas in nebulae is about 10^15 less dense than our atmosphere, and usually cold – about 10K. Liquid water cannot exist. Ice directly sublimes to gas without going through liquid phase.

Aqueous chemistry is not possible.

Aqueous chemistry can happen in a thin layer in a comet as it approaches a sun – but only for a short time.

Other than that, aqueous chemistry requires something planet size.

We are definitely based on aqueous chemistry.

To posit life forming in a medium one needs to be able to demonstrate the complexity of replicator diversity and the multi-leveled implications of that diversity, and the number of replicators and replications probable, to have a reasonable probability of life evolving.

I have not seen any evidence, anywhere, to indicate that such environments exist off of a planet.

The sort of life that we are, based as we are in aqueous chemistry at several different levels, cannot possibly have evolved without liquid water. That almost certainly (beyond any reasonable doubt) requires a planet. And not just any sort of planet, but one with a most unusual history that got rid of enough atmosphere to be cool enough for liquid water (most would end up like Venus – too hot).

So certainly, lots of carbon, and lots of the simpler classes of carbon based molecules in molecular clouds, but no liquid water, and no life like us.

[followed by]

There is a huge distinction between something being able to survive in an environment, and something being able to thrive and evolve in an environment.

The evidence seems overwhelming that the chemistry that allows our life to exist is aqueous. It seems very probable that it was RNA based in the first instance (and I am aware of many reasonable challenges to that thesis as simply stated).

Sure, carbon is formed in supernovae.

Sure, carbon forms compounds in nebulae.

Sure, those compounds arrive on planets as comets.

But there is no way to get liquid water in space – the vapor pressure is too low.

So all the replicating aspects of the evolution of self replicating metabolising systems (the minimum definition we have of life), seems to require a planet with liquid water.
And sure, there will be lots of other stuff present that formed in the supernova and subsequently in the nebula, and it is highly unlikely to meet the definition of life.

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