Par Ilmāra Rimšēviča aizturēšanas iemesliem

Citāts: “Lai gan nekādi pierādījumi šim apgalvojumam netiek doti, tas izskatās pietiekami patiess”.
Šis izteikums liecina, ka varbūt notiek uzbrukums bez pierādījumiem. KNAB esot iesniegta kaut kāda Norvik bankas ‘sūdzība’, kuras saturu nevienam neatklāj. Tādējādi lasītājam nav iespējams pašam spriest, vai apsūdzētais ir vainīgs, un, vai esošie pierādījumi ir pietiekošs pamats arestam un kratīšanai. Fakts, ka mums šos pierādījumus nedod, ļauj domāt, ka to varbūt nav, ka notikušais ir plānots uzbrukums Latvijas banku sistēmai un valstij. (šis fakts raksturo Latvijas tiesu sistēmas degradāciju: fakti, kuru publicēšana ir neizdevīga likumu pārkāpējam, tiek paziņoti par slepeniem, un tas pārkāpējam ļauj izvairīties no sabiedrības iejaukšanās. Šajā gadījumā ir pilnīgi skaidrs, ka KNAB pienākums ir informēt Latvijas iedzīvotājus par to, cik pamatota ir bankas prezidenta aizturēšana, lai viņi paši varētu spriest un izdarīt savus slēdzienus. Faktu slēpšana nodara lielu kaitējumu Latvijas valstij: tā ne tikai pārkāpj iedzīvotāju tiesības zināt, kas notiek valstī, bet arī veicina iedzīvotāju neuzticību un nelojalitāti. Un vēl vairāk: faktu slēpšana dod KNAB iespēju rīkoties nekontrolēti. Šādiem procesiem maz sakara ar demokrātiju).
Publicētajā tekstā mēs redzam nevis prasību pēc patiesības noskaidrošanas (prasību pēc faktiem), bet izteikumu, ka apgalvojums ‘izskatās pietiekami patiess’. Skarbi.

Citāts: ” Jautājumi, “ņēma/neņēma”, “vainīgs/nevainīgs” nav pareizie (tie ir otršķirīgi dēļ savas trivialitātes.)”
Šajā gadījumā ‘vainīgs/nevainīgs’ izškir lietas būtību: nepamatota, noziedzīga apsūdzība, kuras uzturēšanā gribot vai negribot piedalās arī KNAB, vai arī bankas prezidents ir pārkāpis godu un likumu. Manuprāt, šeit nekā triviāla nav. Imants Vilks

Posted in Economics, Values and Sense of Life | Leave a comment

Ultralow power artificial synapses using nanotextured magnetic Josephson junctions

Superconducting ‘synapse’ could enable powerful future neuromorphic supercomputers

Fires 200 million times faster than human brain, uses one ten-thousandth as much energy
February 7, 2018

NIST’s artificial synapse, designed for neuromorphic computing, mimics the operation of switch between two neurons. One artificial synapse is located at the center of each X. This chip is 1 square centimeter in size. (The thick black vertical lines are electrical probes used for testing.) (credit: NIST)

A superconducting “synapse” that “learns” like a biological system, operating like the human brain, has been built by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The NIST switch, described in an open-access paper in Science Advances, provides a missing link for neuromorphic (brain-like) computers, according to the researchers. Such “non-von Neumann architecture” future computers could significantly speed up analysis and decision-making for applications such as self-driving cars and cancer diagnosis.

The research is supported by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) Cryogenic Computing Complexity Program, which was launched in 2014 with the goal of paving the way to “a new generation of superconducting supercomputer development beyond the exascale.”*

A synapse is a connection or switch between two neurons, controlling transmission of signals. (credit: NIST)

NIST’s artificial synapse is a metallic cylinder 10 micrometers in diameter — about 10 times larger than a biological synapse. It simulates a real synapse by processing incoming electrical spikes (pulsed current from a neuron) and customizing spiking output signals. The more firing between cells (or processors), the stronger the connection. That process enables both biological and artificial synapses to maintain old circuits and create new ones.

Dramatically faster, lower-energy-required, compared to human synapses

But the NIST synapse has two unique features that the researchers say are superior to human synapses and to other artificial synapses:

  • Operating at 100 GHz, it can fire at a rate that is much faster than the human brain — 1 billion times per second, compared to a brain cell’s rate of about 50 times per second.
  • It uses only about one ten-thousandth as much energy as a human synapse. The spiking energy is less than 1 attojoule** — roughly equivalent to the miniscule chemical energy bonding two atoms in a molecule — compared to the roughly 10 femtojoules (10,000 attojoules) per synaptic event in the human brain. Current neuromorphic platforms are orders of magnitude less efficient than the human brain. “We don’t know of any other artificial synapse that uses less energy,” NIST physicist Mike Schneider said.

Superconducting devices mimicking brain cells and transmission lines have been developed, but until now, efficient synapses — a crucial piece — have been missing. The new Josephson junction-based artificial synapse would be used in neuromorphic computers made of superconducting components (which can transmit electricity without resistance), so they would be more efficient than designs based on semiconductors or software. Data would be transmitted, processed, and stored in units of magnetic flux.

The brain is especially powerful for tasks like image recognition because it processes data both in sequence and simultaneously and it stores memories in synapses all over the system. A conventional computer processes data only in sequence and stores memory in a separate unit.

The new NIST artificial synapses combine small size, superfast spiking signals, and low energy needs, and could be stacked into dense 3D circuits for creating large systems. They could provide a unique route to a far more complex and energy-efficient neuromorphic system than has been demonstrated with other technologies, according to the researchers.

Nature News does raise some concerns about the research, quoting neuromorphic-technology experts: “Millions of synapses would be necessary before a system based on the technology could be used for complex computing; it remains to be seen whether it will be possible to scale it to this level. … The synapses can only operate at temperatures close to absolute zero, and need to be cooled with liquid helium. That this might make the chips impractical for use in small devices, although a large data centre might be able to maintain them. … We don’t yet understand enough about the key properties of the [biological] synapse to know how to use them effectively.”

Inside a superconducting synapse 

The NIST synapse is a customized Josephson junction***, long used in NIST voltage standards. These junctions are a sandwich of superconducting materials with an insulator as a filling. When an electrical current through the junction exceeds a level called the critical current, voltage spikes are produced.

Illustration showing the basic operation of NIST’s artificial synapse, based on a Josephson junction. Very weak electrical current pulses are used to control the number of nanoclusters (green) pointing in the same direction. Shown here: a “magnetically disordered state” (left) vs. “magnetically ordered state” (right). (credit: NIST)

Each artificial synapse uses standard niobium electrodes but has a unique filling made of nanoscale clusters (“nanoclusters”) of manganese in a silicon matrix. The nanoclusters — about 20,000 per square micrometer — act like tiny bar magnets with “spins” that can be oriented either randomly or in a coordinated manner. The number of nanoclusters pointing in the same direction can be controlled, which affects the superconducting properties of the junction.

Diagram of circuit used in the simulation. The blue and red areas represent pre- and post-synapse neurons, respectively. The X symbol represents the Josephson junction. (credit: Michael L. Schneider et al./Science Advances)

The synapse rests in a superconducting state, except when it’s activated by incoming current and starts producing voltage spikes. Researchers apply current pulses in a magnetic field to boost the magnetic ordering — that is, the number of nanoclusters pointing in the same direction.

This magnetic effect progressively reduces the critical current level, making it easier to create a normal conductor and produce voltage spikes. The critical current is the lowest when all the nanoclusters are aligned. The process is also reversible: Pulses are applied without a magnetic field to reduce the magnetic ordering and raise the critical current. This design, in which different inputs alter the spin alignment and resulting output signals, is similar to how the brain operates.

Synapse behavior can also be tuned by changing how the device is made and its operating temperature. By making the nanoclusters smaller, researchers can reduce the pulse energy needed to raise or lower the magnetic order of the device. Raising the operating temperature slightly from minus 271.15 degrees C (minus 456.07 degrees F) to minus 269.15 degrees C (minus 452.47 degrees F), for example, results in more and higher voltage spikes.

* Future exascale supercomputers would run at 1018 exaflops (“flops” = floating point operations per second) or more. The current fastest supercomputer — the Sunway TaihuLight — operates at about 0.1 exaflops; zettascale computers, the next step beyond exascale, would run 10,000 times faster than that.

** An attojoule is 10-18 joule, a unit of energy, and is one-thousandth of a femtojoule.

*** The Josephson effect is the phenomenon of supercurrent — i.e., a current that flows indefinitely long without any voltage applied — across a device known as a Josephson junction, which consists of two superconductors coupled by a weak link. — Wikipedia

Abstract of Ultralow power artificial synapses using nanotextured magnetic Josephson junctions

Neuromorphic computing promises to markedly improve the efficiency of certain computational tasks, such as perception and decision-making. Although software and specialized hardware implementations of neural networks have made tremendous accomplishments, both implementations are still many orders of magnitude less energy efficient than the human brain. We demonstrate a new form of artificial synapse based on dynamically reconfigurable superconducting Josephson junctions with magnetic nanoclusters in the barrier. The spiking energy per pulse varies with the magnetic configuration, but in our demonstration devices, the spiking energy is always less than 1 aJ. This compares very favorably with the roughly 10 fJ per synaptic event in the human brain. Each artificial synapse is composed of a Si barrier containing Mn nanoclusters with superconducting Nb electrodes. The critical current of each synapse junction, which is analogous to the synaptic weight, can be tuned using input voltage spikes that change the spin alignment of Mn nanoclusters. We demonstrate synaptic weight training with electrical pulses as small as 3 aJ. Further, the Josephson plasma frequencies of the devices, which determine the dynamical time scales, all exceed 100 GHz. These new artificial synapses provide a significant step toward a neuromorphic platform that is faster, more energy-efficient, and thus can attain far greater complexity than has been demonstrated with other technologies.

comments 4

  1. February 10, 2018
    by GrahamRounce

    A synapse is not, of course, a neuron. In a human brain each one of the trillions of neurons has thousands of connections to other neurons, and other cells, via a synapse. I think the roadblock is going to be all those interconnections.
    There’s a long way to go!

  2. February 10, 2018
    by Palle R Jensen

    Readers might be interested in this:
    According to this theory (TRANS), it will be possible to create conscious computers.

  3. February 9, 2018
    by tschaefer

    Is there any way that kurzweilai can schedule a periodic (annual) update to this article, maybe watch the NIST research group or individuals involved? Do you remember the article last year about the silicon Intel chip that has ~100K neurons and ~256 synapses per neuron? Isn’t it a matter of time and accumulated ingenuity before the watchers of this NIST demonstration (NASA Technology Readiness Level 2?) scale it? If TRL goes from 2 to 9 in 9 to 12 years, could this put a Singularity-level AGI within grasp by 2030? Let’s get some intermediate data points at TRL 4 or 5 ASAP!

    • February 9, 2018
      by Editor

      tschaefer: Great idea, will do. Note: Nature News quotes Steven Furber, a computer engineer at University of Manchester, UK, “who studies neuromorphic computing says practical applications are far in the future: ‘The device technologies are potentially very interesting, but we don’t yet understand enough about the key properties of the [biological] synapse to know how to use them effectively,’ he says. ‘For instance, there are many outstanding questions about how synapses remodel themselves when forming a memory, making it difficult to recreate the process in a memory-storing chip.’ Furber says that because it takes 10 years or more for new computing devices to reach the market, it is worth developing as many different technological approaches as possible. …”

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Meaning of Life: Science Reveals Our Deepest Purpose

It is interesting to see thoughts and positions about very important aspect of our lives in our societies – thoughts about deaf, eternal life and the sense of life.

Example. In a flashback scene in the 1977 film Annie Hall, Woody Allen’s character Alvy Singer is a depressed young boy who won’t do his homework because, as he explains to his doctor: “The universe is expanding…. Well, the universe is everything, and if it’s expanding, someday it will break apart, and that will be the end of everything.” His exasperated mother upbraids the youth: “What has the universe got to do with it?! You’re here in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is not expanding!”

Scientific American (cover)

Call it “Alvy’s Error”: assessing the purpose of something at the wrong level of analysis. The level at which we should assess our actions is the human timescale of days, weeks, months and years—our life span of fourscore plus or minus 10—not the billions of years of the cosmic calendar. It is a mistake made by theologians when arguing that without a source external to our world to vouchsafe morality and meaning, nothing really matters.

I disagree completely. Only looking at our life on a big scale we can realize the sense of our existence. We are, as Carl Sagan said, our Universe’s matter try to get conscious about itself. This means that we have a great possibility to pass our consciousness to the next human generations, the great responsibility for not destroying it. From here we have the cosmic sense for our life, the holy task – to pass over. It is not important for current moment that we don’t have ‘eternal life’ yet. Our followers will have it. Even more: undeniably we will proceed to live at that time, but we will not know it (in the sense, we will not feel it). When our consciousness will be transferred to more sustainable and more safe silicon environment. Or, possibly, humans will learn to prolong Homo sapiens lifetime for some hundreds of years. It is not important, the main issue is – we must realize that our lives today is great possibility and responsibility, this is the sense of our lives, the greater one is not possible. 

Basis for our morality can be formulated simply – the long-term survival of Humanity. This moral maxim includes far reaching changes of our lives, values and behavior. Contemporary humans are not prepared for these future changes, but there is no way out, if we want to survive and pass human spirit to future. Talking about ” destruction in the heat death of the universe” is empty – if humans will survive for some hundred years from now, definitely they will learn to prolong human body lifetime or they will learn to pass their consciousness to, as they today are called, robots. Even more, they will learn how to improve contemporary human balance between reason and emotions, to support human yearning for happiness. And more: they will learn to manage cosmological processes and to distribute consciousness. Happiness and nearly unrestricted (‘eternal’) life is possible, there is no law in information theory forbidding it. Our descendants will have it, only if we will not destroy the possibility for them. 

In this view talking about ” In light of that end, it’s hard for me to understand how our moral choices have any sort of significance. There’s no moral accountability. The universe is neither better nor worse for what we do is empty. 


Pale Blue Dot

The Earth: a pale blue dot in a sunbeam.
Photographed by Voyager 1 from beyond the orbit of Neptune.

Image of a pale blue dot

Carl Sagan wrote:

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, Random House, 1994


Posted in Are We doomed?, Happiness and Quality of Life, Values and Sense of Life | Leave a comment

The Doomsday Clock is now two minutes before midnight

Scientists move clock ahead 30 seconds, closest to midnight since 1953
January 25, 2018

(credit: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)

Citing growing nuclear risks and unchecked climate dangers, the Doomsday Clock — the symbolic point of annihilation — is now two minutes to midnight, the closest the Clock has been since 1953 at the height of the Cold War, according to a statement today (Jan. 25) by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

“In 2017, world leaders failed to respond effectively to the looming threats of nuclear war and climate change, making the world security situation more dangerous than it was a year ago — and as dangerous as it has been since World War II,” according to the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board in consultation with the Board of Sponsors, which includes 15 Nobel Laureates.

“This is a dangerous time, but the danger is of our own making. Humankind has invented the implements of apocalypse; so can it invent the methods of controlling and eventually eliminating them. This year, leaders and citizens of the world can move the Doomsday Clock and the world away from the metaphorical midnight of global catastrophe by taking common-sense action.” — Lawrence Krauss, director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University, Foundation Professor at School of Earth and Space Exploration and Physics Department, Arizona State University, and chair, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Board of Sponsors.

The increased risks driving the decision to move the clock include:

Nuclear. Hyperbolic rhetoric and provocative actions from North Korea and the U.S. have increased the possibility of nuclear war by accident or miscalculation. These include U.S.-Russian military entanglements, South China Sea tensions, escalating rhetoric between Pakistan and India,  uncertainty about continued U.S. support for the Iran nuclear deal.

Decline of U.S. leadership and a related demise of diplomacy under the Trump Administration. “In 2017, the United States backed away from its longstanding leadership role in the world, reducing its commitment to seek common ground and undermining the overall effort toward solving pressing global governance challenges. Neither allies nor adversaries have been able to reliably predict U.S. actions or understand when U.S. pronouncements are real and when they are mere rhetoric. International diplomacy has been reduced to name-calling, giving it a surrealistic sense of unreality that makes the world security situation ever more threatening.”

Climate change. “The nations of the world will have to significantly decrease their greenhouse gas emissions to keep climate risks manageable, and so far, the global response has fallen far short of meeting this challenge.”

How to #RewindtheDoomsdayClock

According to Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

* U.S. President Donald Trump should refrain from provocative rhetoric regarding North Korea, recognizing the impossibility of predicting North Korean reactions. The U.S. and North Korean governments should open multiple channels of communication.

* The world community should pursue, as a short-term goal, the cessation of North Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile tests. North Korea is the only country to violate the norm against nuclear testing in 20 years.

* The Trump administration should abide by the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for Iran’s nuclear program unless credible evidence emerges that Iran is not complying with the agreement or Iran agrees to an alternative approach that meets U.S. national security needs.

* The United States and Russia should discuss and adopt measures to prevent peacetime military incidents along the borders of NATO.

* U.S. and Russian leaders should return to the negotiating table to resolve differences over the INF treaty, to seek further reductions in nuclear arms, to discuss a lowering of the alert status of the nuclear arsenals of both countries, to limit nuclear modernization programs that threaten to create a new nuclear arms race, and to ensure that new tactical or low-yield nuclear weapons are not built, and existing tactical weapons are never used on the battlefield.

* U.S. citizens should demand, in all legal ways, climate action from their government. Climate change is a real and serious threat to humanity.

* Governments around the world should redouble their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so they go well beyond the initial, inadequate pledges under the Paris Agreement.

* The international community should establish new protocols to discourage and penalize the misuse of information technology to undermine public trust in political institutions, in the media, in science, and in the existence of objective reality itself.

Worldwide deployments of nuclear weapons, 2017

“As of mid-2017, there are nearly 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world, located at some 107 sites in 14 countries. Roughly, 9400 of these weapons are in military arsenals; the remaining weapons are retired and awaiting dismantlement. Nearly 4000 are operationally available, and some 1800 are on high alert and ready for use on short notice.

“By far, the largest concentrations of nuclear weapons reside in Russia and the United States, which possess 93 percent of the total global inventory. In addition to the seven other countries with nuclear weapon stockpiles (Britain, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea), five nonnuclear NATO allies (Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey) host about 150 US nuclear bombs at six air bases.”

Hans M. Kristensen & Robert S. Norris, Worldwide deployments of nuclear weapons, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 2017. Pages 289-297 | Published online: 31 Aug 2017.

Posted in Are We doomed? | Leave a comment

Mākslīgā inteliģence, pašreizējais stāvoklis, problēmas un nākotnes vīzija

Anotācija. Rakstā dotas svarīgākās definīcijas, īsi aplūkoti nozīmīgākie brīvi pieejamie sasniegumi un labākās publikācijas, aplūkotas zināmas un dažas jaunas problēmas, un izvērtētas nākotnes iespējas.

Ievads. Mākslīgā inteliģence ir viens no mūsu laika svarīgākajiem atklājumiem, kas, iespējams, izmainīs cilvēces attīstības gaitu. Mākslīgā inteliģence ir inteliģences simulācija mašīnās. Tā šodien tiek veidota, atdarinot cilvēka smadzeņu uzbūvi un darbību. Cilvēka smadzenēs ir aptuveni 1011 neironu un 1015 sinapses (savienojumi starp neironiem). Smadzenes var izpildīt 1014-1015 operācijas sekundē, smadzeņu atmiņas apjoms ir 1014-1015 bitu. Pēc ātrdarbības un atmiņas apjoma pasaules labākie datori ir pietuvojušies cilvēka smadzeņu parametriem, bet patērētā jauda un gabarīti ir miljoniem reižu lielāki. Ja iedomājamies, ka datoru patērētā jauda un izmēri samazināsies pēc Mūra likuma, (aptuveni divas reizes divos gados), tad tie pietuvosies cilvēka smadzeņu jaudai (80W) un izmēriem apmēram pēc 34-40 gadiem. Bet Mūra likums neapraksta datoru patērētās jaudas un gabarītu samazināšanos – šie procesi ir daudz lēnāki. Labāko šodienas datoru patērētā jauda ir no 3 līdz 18 MW, un to masa ir dažas tonnas. Kamēr radikālu fizikāli efektīvāku risinājumu (mazgabarītu un mazjaudīgi skaitļošanas elementi) nav, mākslīgās inteliģences veidotāji strādā pie konkrētu uzdevumu risināšanas un to algoritmu un neironu tīkla (NT) struktūras pilnveidošanas.

Continue reading

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Smaidošas domas

Es apzinos, ka 99% cilvēku tos nespēs pieņemt, bet labāk turpinās pašreizējo skrējienu uz savu galu. Tādēļ smaidam par to, kas nav iespējams. Sākot ar šodienu likumi visā pasaulē:
1. Visaugstākā cilvēces vērtība: saglabāt un nodot tālāk vienīgo mums zināmo matērijas apziņas formu – Homo sapiens. Viena no augstākajām morāles vērtībām – izglītība, lai iespējami vairāk cilvēku būtu sagatavoti neiznīcināt savas un savu bērnu eksistences noteikumus. Tāpēc augstākā izglītība ir norma, vidējā – obligāta. Par normas nesasniegšanu – sabiedrības nopēlums un finansiāli ierobežojumi. Par normas pārsniegšanu – sabiedrības atzinība un finansiāls atbalsts. Visas izglītības pamatā tikai fakti, tas, ko var neierobežoti pārbaudīt un pierādīt. Atļaut neierobežoti daudzus uzskatus un izteikumus, bet valsts uztur izglītības sistēmu, kurā māca izdzīvošanai derīgas zināšanas, atbalsta galveno, mūsdienu zinātnes pieeju. Valsts skaidro iedzīvotājiem, kas izplatītās māņu mācībās un reliģijās nav pierādīts un neatbilst realitātei, bet – neapkaro un neaizliedz tās. Citiem vārdiem, valsts sagatavo savus pilsoņus saskarsmei ar nepatieso,  viņiem nederīgo un kaitīgo, piemēram, gēnu vajadzībām izdabājošas izklaides, kurās rāda seksu, porno, vardarbību, karus, laupīšanas, u.t.t.
Kāpēc tik neadekvātas, itkā pārspīlētas izglītības prasības? Šeit redzam seno vistas-olas problēmu. Cilvēka dzīves kvalitāte ir atkarīga no sociālās sistēmas. Bez labas sociālās sistēmas nevar iegūt labu izglītību, bet bez labas izglītības nevar iegūt labu sociālo sistēmu un valsti.  Ir zināmi īslaicīga uzplaukuma un sasniegumu piemēri dažu diktatūru laikā, bet tas ‘strādā’ neilgi, agrāk vai vēlāk diktatūra aiziet kopā ar tās atbalstītājiem, un cilvēki atgriežas pie tādas valsts pārvaldes, kas atbilst viņu spējai tādu izveidot: viņu zināšanām, izpratnei, vērtībām. Bet to visu dod un veido izglītība.
2. Divi bērni ģimenē. Ja mazāk, tad prēmija, atbalsts, ja vairāk, tad jāmaksā. Un daudz. Tiesības dzemdēt bērnus var pirkt un pārdot.
3. Par jebkuru negodīguma izpausmi, kura kavē sabiedrības attīstību – tāds sods, lai pārkāpumu izdarīt nebūtu izdevīgi (ne tā, kā tagad. Tas ir, soda lielums, reizināts ar noķeršanas varbūtību, ir daudz lielāks par ieguvumu, kuru saņem pārkāpējs). Ieskaitot nāves sodu, izmantojot pārkāpēja orgānus nevainīgu cilvēku ārstēšanai. Ķermeņa orgānus var pirkt un pārdot.
4. Neierobežota un bezmaksas zināšanu un mākslas darbu izplatīšana. Autori atlīdzību saņem no valsts.
5. Īpašuma tiesības un uzturēšana atbilstoši cilvēku reālai īpašībai – viņi labi pārvalda to, kas viņiem pieder.
6. Piespiedu ienākumu nevienlīdzības ierobežošana: atbilstoši cilvēku reālai īpašībai ņemt neierobežoti. Jo neviens nevar iegūt miljonus un miljardus tikai ar savu darbu vien: tam ir nepieciešami arī citi cilvēki. Ir zināms visai izplūdis kritērijs: nevienlīdzība atbalstāma tikmēr, kamēr tā veicina sabiedrības progresu. Pareizāks kritērijs varētu būt taisnīgums: izcili talanti savu rezultātu pārdod, bet atlīdzības lielums un laiks ir ierobežoti. Līdzīgi kā ar patentiem – pēc 10-15 gadiem tie kļūst par visas cilvēces īpašumu. Pamatā ir doma – jebkurš izcilais talants ir varējis sevi izkopt, tikai pateicoties iepriekšējo paaudžu un līdzcilvēku ieguldījumam.
7. Valsts pārvalde: demokrātija, kurā četras neatkarīgas varas (likumdevēja, izpildu, tiesu un MIL) un izveidots daudzpusīgs līdzsvars starp kompetenci un iedzīvotāju vērtējumu. Tas nozīmē, ka visās nozarēs (medicīnā, izglītībā, valsts pārvaldē), kurās nepieciešamas speciālas zināšanas un kompetence, lēmumus pieņem un izpilda speciālisti, bet viņu darbu vērtē iedzīvotāji, ieskaitot iespēju vadītājus un speciālistus atsaukt vai nodot kriminālvajāšanai. Visu vadītāju finansiāla un krimināla atbildība par paveikto un nepaveikto, tā, lai izveidojas saprātīgs līdzsvars starp pretendenta vēlmi sevi apliecināt un kaut ko derīgu paveikt savas tautas un cilvēku labā, un atbildības nastu, kas var novest ne tikai pie atstādināšanas (ja nav likuma pārkāpuma), bet arī pie soda.
Likumdevēja un izpildu varas vadītājus var ievēlēt un atsaukt iedzīvotāji, kas pierādījuši savu spēju vērtēt ievēlamos un ievēlētos (viņiem ir attiecīgas izglītības dokuments), bet par tiesu varas un MIL vadītāju ievēlēšanu vai izvirzīšanu man priekšlikumu nav, bet, protams, ka viņiem jābūt dokumentiem, kas apliecina profesionālo kompetenci.
Šeit neaplūkošu hipotētiskas nākotnes sabiedrības enerģētikas un pārtikas sistēmas, likumus un ierobežojumus, atstājot tos lasītāja jaunradei.
Slēdziens. Ātru un drīzu risinājumu nav. Paies daudzas paaudzes, katastrofas un bojāejas, kamēr cilvēce pamazām iegūs izglītību – izpratnes par sevi, savu vietu un esības jēgu, un priekšstatu par to, kā to mēģināt sasniegt. Jo sasniegt var tikai to, ko veido visu cilvēku rīcība, kopā sasummēta (E.O. Wilson, On Human Nature). Bet cilvēku rīcība, savukārt, ir atkarīga no viņu vajadzībām, kuru piepildīšana dod gandarījumu, kuru sauc arī par laimi. Pēc tās jau mēs visi lūkojamies un to sasniegt cenšamies. Tāpēc ceļs ir tik tāls un grūts – visupirms jāizveido vajadzības, tām sekos rīcība, un tikai tad sekos uzplaukums. Visas valsts sistēmas ir balansa jeb līdzsvara sistēmas, kurās tiek iegūts, iestādīts, ieveidots smalks, fluktuējošs balanss starp to, ko cilvēki grib tūlīt un tagad, un to, kas ir nepieciešams viņu ilglaicīgai izdzīvošanai. To, ko cilvēki grib, var izveidot daudzu paaudžu laikā, balstoties uz viņu ģenētiski iegūtajām, mantotajām vajadzībām (tās ir dotas, tās atliek tikai ieraudzīt un saprast, tās izmainīt mēs pagaidām nevaram), tās izkopjot sabiedrības kultūrā, veidojot ierašas, tradīcijas un vērtības.
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A Video Game Analogy to Our Energy Predicament

The way the world economy is manipulated by world leaders is a little like a giant video game. The object of the game is to keep the world economy growing, without too many adverse consequences to particular members of the world economy. We represent this need for growth of the world economy as being similar to making a jet airplane fly at ever-higher altitudes.


An even bigger problem is a physics problem that is hidden from the view of those operating the control mechanism. Jet airplanes in the real world cannot rise beyond a certain altitude (varying depending upon the plane), because the atmosphere becomes “too thin.” There is a parallel problem in the economic world. The atmosphere that allows an economy to grow is provided by a combination of (a) an increasing supply of cheap-to-produce energy, and (b) increased technology to put this growing energy supply to use. This atmosphere can become too thin for several reasons, including the higher cost of energy production, rising population, and growing wage disparity.

It is simple without any video games and airplanes. It is impossible to increase production without increasing the resources and the load to environment. 

The only solution is to restrict the number of people on the planet. Create, e.g., strict laws forbidding more than two children in a family in all world societies and states. We know, people will not obey this law, and there is no way to force them. In short, we are all in a big run to our deaf. I don’t see the solution. I.V. 

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Every Friday Is Black Friday: Why Our Addiction to Consumption and Growth Is Killing Us

A general view of the inbound area of the MPX5 fulfillment center on November 17, 2017 in Castel San Giovanni, Italy. "In seeking to defend the living world from the maelstrom of destruction," writes Monbiot, "we might believe we are fighting corporations and governments and the general foolishness of humankind. But they are all proxies for the real issue: perpetual growth on a planet that is not growing." (Photo by Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images)

A general view of the inbound area of the MPX5 fulfillment center on November 17, 2017 in Castel San Giovanni, Italy. “In seeking to defend the living world from the maelstrom of destruction,” writes Monbiot, “we might believe we are fighting corporations and governments and the general foolishness of humankind. But they are all proxies for the real issue: perpetual growth on a planet that is not growing.” (Photo by Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images)

Everyone wants everything – how is that going to work? The promise of economic growth is that the poor can live like the rich and the rich can live like the oligarchs. But already we are bursting through the physical limits of the planet that sustains us. Climate breakdown, soil loss, the collapse of habitats and species, the sea of plastic, insectageddon: all are driven by rising consumption. The promise of private luxury for everyone cannot be met: neither the physical nor the ecological space exists.

But growth must go on: this is everywhere the political imperative. And we must adjust our tastes accordingly. In the name of autonomy and choice, marketing uses the latest findings in neuroscience to break down our defences. Those who seek to resist must, like the Simple Lifers in Brave New World, be silenced – in this case by the media.

“Green consumerism, material decoupling, sustainable growth: all are illusions, designed to justify an economic model that is driving us to catastrophe.”

With every generation, the baseline of normalised consumption shifts. Thirty years ago, it was ridiculous to buy bottled water, where tap water is clean and abundant. Today, worldwide, we use a million plastic bottles a minute.

Every Friday is a Black Friday, every Christmas a more garish festival of destruction. Among the snow saunas, portable watermelon coolers and smartphones for dogs with which we are urged to fill our lives, my #extremecivilisation prize now goes to the PancakeBot: a 3D batter printer that allows you to eat the Mona Lisa, the Taj Mahal, or your dog’s bottom every morning. In practice, it will clog up your kitchen for a week until you decide you don’t have room for it. For junk like this, we’re trashing the living planet, and our own prospects of survival. Everything must go.

The ancillary promise is that, through green consumerism, we can reconcile perpetual growth with planetary survival. But a series of research papers reveal there is no significant difference between the ecological footprints of people who care and people who don’t. One recent article, published in the journal Environment and Behaviour, says those who identify themselves as conscious consumers use more energy and carbon than those who do not.

Why? Because environmental awareness tends to be higher among wealthy people. It is not attitudes that govern our impact on the planet but income. The richer we are, the bigger our footprint, regardless of our good intentions. Those who see themselves as green consumers, the research found, mainly focused on behaviours that had “relatively small benefits”.

I know people who recycle meticulously, save their plastic bags, carefully measure the water in their kettles, then take their holidays in the Caribbean, cancelling any environmental savings a hundredfold. I’ve come to believe that the recycling licences their long-haul flights. It persuades people they’ve gone green, enabling them to overlook their greater impacts.

None of this means that we should not try to reduce our footprint, but we should be aware of the limits of the exercise. Our behaviour within the system cannot change the outcomes of the system. It is the system itself that needs to change.

Research by Oxfam suggests that the world’s richest 1% (if your household has an income of £70,000 or more, this means you) produce about 175 times as much carbon as the poorest 10%. How, in a world in which everyone is supposed to aspire to high incomes, can we avoid turning the Earth, on which all prosperity depends, into a dust ball?

By decoupling, the economists tell us: detaching economic growth from our use of materials. So how well is this going? A paper in the journal Plos One finds that while, in some countries, relative decoupling has occurred, “no country has achieved absolute decoupling during the past 50 years”. What this means is that the amount of materials and energy associated with each increment of GDP might decline but, as growth outpaces efficiency, the total use of resources keeps rising. More important, the paper reveals that, in the long term, both absolute and relative decoupling from the use of essential resources is impossible, because of the physical limits of efficiency.

A global growth rate of 3% means that the size of the world economy doubles every 24 years. This is why environmental crises are accelerating at such a rate. Yet the plan is to ensure that it doubles and doubles again, and keeps doubling in perpetuity. In seeking to defend the living world from the maelstrom of destruction, we might believe we are fighting corporations and governments and the general foolishness of humankind. But they are all proxies for the real issue: perpetual growth on a planet that is not growing.

“We need to build a world in which growth is unnecessary, a world of private sufficiency and public luxury.”

Those who justify this system insist that economic growth is essential for the relief of poverty. But a paper in the World Economic Review finds that the poorest 60% of the world’s people receive only 5% of the additional income generated by rising GDP. As a result, $111 (£84) of growth is required for every $1 reduction in poverty. This is why, on current trends, it would take 200 years to ensure that everyone receives $5 a day. By this point, average per capita income will have reached $1m a year, and the economy will be 175 times bigger than it is today. This is not a formula for poverty relief. It is a formula for the destruction of everything and everyone.

When you hear that something makes economic sense, this means it makes the opposite of common sense. Those sensible men and women who run the world’s treasuries and central banks, who see an indefinite rise in consumption as normal and necessary, are beserkers: smashing through the wonders of the living world, destroying the prosperity of future generations to sustain a set of figures that bear ever less relation to general welfare.

Green consumerism, material decoupling, sustainable growth: all are illusions, designed to justify an economic model that is driving us to catastrophe. The current system, based on private luxury and public squalor, will immiserate us all: under this model, luxury and deprivation are one beast with two heads.

We need a different system, rooted not in economic abstractions but in physical realities, that establish the parameters by which we judge its health. We need to build a world in which growth is unnecessary, a world of private sufficiency and public luxury. And we must do it before catastrophe forces our hand.

George Monbiot

George Monbiot is the author of the best selling books The Age of Consent: a manifesto for a new world order and Captive State: the corporate takeover of Britain. He writes a weekly column for the Guardian newspaper. Visit his website at

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This Horrifying ‘Slaughterbot’ Video Is The Best Warning Against Autonomous Weapons

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A Chinese AI passed the national medical licensing exam, so technically it’s a doctor

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Over 15,000 Scientists Just Issued a ‘Second Notice’ to Humanity

"Humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperiled biosphere," over 15,000 scientists warned in a letter published Monday. (Photo: NASA)

Humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperiled biosphere,” over 15,000 scientists warned in a letter published Monday. (Photo: NASA)


By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperiled biosphere,” they write.

Among the steps that could be taken to prevent catastrophe are promoting plant-based diets; reducing wealth inequality, stopping conversions of forests and grasslands; government interventions to rein in biodiversity loss via poaching and illicit trade; and “massively adopting renewable energy sources” while phasing out fossil fuel subsidies.

Taking such actions, they conclude, are necessary to avert “widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss.”

“Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out. “

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Why the idea that the world is in terminal decline is so dangerous

<em>The Fire of Rome</em> by Hubert Robert, <em>c</em>1771. <em>Courtesy Musée d'Art Moderne André Malraux, Le Havre</em>

From all sides, the message is coming in: the world as we know it is on the verge of something really bad. From the Right, we hear that ‘West’ and ‘Judeo-Christian Civilisation’ are in the pincers of foreign infidels and native, hooded extremists. Left-wing declinism buzzes about coups, surveillance regimes, and the inevitable – if elusive – collapse of capitalism. For Wolfgang Streeck, the prophetic German sociologist, it’s capitalism or democracy. Like many declinist postures, Streeck presents either purgatory or paradise. Like so many before him, Streeck insists that we have passed through the vestibule of the inferno. ‘Before capitalism will go to hell,’ he claims in How Will Capitalism End? (2016), ‘it will for the foreseeable future hang in limbo, dead or about to die from an overdose of itself but still very much around, as nobody will have the power to move its decaying body out of the way.’

In fact, the idea of decline is one thing the extremes of Left and Right agree upon. Julian Assange, avatar of apocalyptic populism, gets kudos from neo-Nazis and social justice crusaders alike.  He noted to one reporter how American power, source of the planet’s evils, was in decline like Rome’s. ‘This could be the beginning,’ he whispered with a smile, repeating it like the mantra of an avenging angel.

Rome’s decline looms large as the precedent.  So, world historians have played their part as doomsayers. At the same time as the English historian Edward Gibbon’s first volume of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776) was published, the American colonists said good-bye to their overlords; some read that as an omen. The First World War brought endism into the modern age. The most famous rendition was the German historian Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West (1918). The carnage of Flanders and the influenza plague of 1918 – which wiped out up to five per cent of the world’s population – made The Decline of the West more than timely. Spengler added a spin: he predicted that, by the end of the century, Western civilisation would need an all-powerful executive to rescue it, an idea that autocrats have seized upon with repeated glee ever since.

It is almost part of the modern condition to expect the party to be over sooner rather than later. What varies is how the end will come. Will it be a Biblical cataclysm, a great leveller? Or will it be more gradual, like Malthusian hunger or a moralist slump?


It seems that “the world as we know it is on the verge of something really bad” indeed. I will not repeat here many arguments for it: previous civilization collapses are demonstrative evidence. Our decline is accompanied by big noise and some rare knowledge, e.g., E.O.Wilson wrote that our genetic heritage (and behavior) are completely out of sinhronism with the conditions we have created, as Wilson says, have plunged ourselves in. The only way out of this is applying scientific knowledge to our ‘global problems’. But we know, it will not work, our genetics, our needs and our emotions will not allow this. Therefore, I am sure, we will experience some more or less global collapse. I.V. 

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The most important issue scientist should say to society

This is not the annual Edge question but the answer is mine. The most important question is happiness. How to live a happy life?

The main problem of our societies is that we are not getting prepared for happiness. Instead we are using standard non-scientific values (religions, astrology and different ‘secret’  or ‘scientific’  teachings) and behavioral templates from local cultures. What we can do? We can’t and will not change the pace of human way: it is going and will proceed in accordance with our genetic heritage.

The happiness of every individual is left to his luck and decision. What remains for an individual? Just at the moment we realize that we can think independently anyone can start investigate, explore the world outside, his society and himself/herself. Investigate and explore in order to understand. This is not a simple task, this means to abandon all values, standard behavior and thinking used in a society where one has happened to live in. And to start create his/her own models and values using critical thinking and knowledge about facts and laws of nature. Facts and laws are obtained by studying science courses and teachings. Obtaining such an independent knowledge takes some effort – it is not taught in ordinary high schools, where the right answer is asked, but not the understanding. To understand means to create the real model of external world and use this model to make predictions about the world reactions. If our predictions are true, we say that we understand to process, the real world. And we can make the optimal choice.

The only way to create happy life is to create the real models of self and the society one has happened to live in. And to make choices that give some satisfaction and feeling of happiness. Making the best choices is the matter of education, the knowledge about how human life proceeds and how satisfaction and happiness is created and obtained (for this some knowledge of theory of evolution and basic notions of information theory is necessary). It is an art a bit – the knowledge, the intuition about how I will receive the long-term positive emotions, and when – the short-term. The simple knowledge about the fact that satisfaction of big or great needs supplies big emotions, and about the fact, that needs can be and must be developed and cultivated in all the lifetime. But, in any case, one has a possibility to make choices based on real predictions, the knowledge about what will happen if I make this or that choice.

But the problem is that we are ’emotion machines’. This means that the most important decisions in their lives humans make not based on reason but under the streams of emotions. In emotion streams our behavior is determined by inherited instincts. This explains our love affairs and wars, our great works and hatred, our dreams and deaf.

We know about the lives of big artists, politicians or businessmen, their marriages, addictions and deaths. On a big scale their problem is that they are taught, educated to be highly specialized in one or some conjugate fields, but are not developed in the most important field of human life – the knowledge about how to live a normal and happy human life. Not speaking about the more global questions, such as the long-term survival of Homo sapiens. Carl Sagan said that this is the most important value of our civilization.

The only way out of this is to create real models of self and societies we have happened to live in and to try to keep some reasonable balance between emotions and reason, between happiness and necessity, between wanted and survival.

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Māris Subačs: Pārāk liela gudrība nav laimes pazīme

Homo sapiens laime ir indivīda iespēja piepildīt, apmierināt lielas vajadzības. Pamatā ir ģenētiski mantotās, un tās tiek izkoptas (vai sakropļotas) ārējo faktoru (ģimene, skola, sabiedrības kultūra) ietekmē. Jo lielākas vajadzības tiek piepildītas, jo lielāka laimes sajūta. To objektīvi var mērīt ar laimes hormonu daudzumu, bet, protams, normālais jeb Gausa (varbūtību) sadalījums pastāv vienmēr.

Lielās vajadzības var apmierināt tikai tad, ja radām attiecīgus apstākļus. Kaut arī šeit pastāv normālais sadalījums, vidēji laimes izveidošanai piemērotus apstākļus var izveidot tikai tie, kam ir realitātei atbilstoši pasaules (sevis, savas sabiedrības, savas vietas un arī vērtību) modeļi. Pareizu, realitātei atbilstošu modeļu izveidošanu veicina zināšanas, var teikt – tās pat ir nepieciešamas, bez tām var izveidot modeļus, kas strādā (t.i., to lietošana ļauj paredzēt ārējās pasaules notikumus) tikai dažos gadījumos. Piemēram, Dieva modeļa lietošana (labākajā gadījumā) dod sakārtotības, harmonijas, iekšējas tīrības un svētuma sajūtu, bet nedod sajūtu, ka autors ir īsts, patiess pret sevi. Jo veselais saprāts (un daudzi zinātnieki, novērojumi un fakti) liecina, ka Dieva nav, ka tas ir evolūcijas veidots cilvēku izdomājums. Tādēļ visi t.s. ‘ticīgie’ ir spiesti dzīvot ar (vairāk vai mazāk izteiktu, tas ir atkarīgs no zināšanu plašuma) iekšēju neīstuma sajūtu, kas izpaužas kā daudzu ticīgo šaubas un rīcība, kas ticību neapstiprina.

Šādā skatījumā Māra Subača ieteikums ir saprotams: pārāk liela gudrība nav laimes pazīme. Ir nenoliedzami, ka plašas un eksaktas, t.i., realitātei atbilstošas) zināšanas un kritiska domāšana visiem ticīgajiem nav viegls ceļš, tādēļ vieglāk ir to neiet.

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Some thoughts about our future

Dennett is a singular figure in American culture: a white-haired, white-bearded 74-year-old philosopher whose work has mined the questions that erupt at the places where science, technology and consciousness meet. His subject is the brain and how it creates meaning and what our brains will make of a future that includes AI and robots. He’s in London with his wife, Susan, to mark the publication of his latest book – From Bacteria to Bach and Back – and I find him in a rented flat in Notting Hill, scowling at his laptop. “I was about to send a tweet,” he says. “Something like, ‘Republican senators are in an enviable position. How often does anybody get a real opportunity to become a national hero? Who’s going to step up and enter the pages of history?’”

Dennett has the intellectual heft for his pronouncements to have impact: a star speaker on the TED circuit and friend to many of the Silicon Valley elite, he’s also that rare breed, the mythical creature of publishers’ dreams – a writer of meaty, serious books that also sell.

It’s clear that his latest was conceived and written in a different time. Dennett, a close ally of Richard Dawkins (and a similarly quasi-militant atheist), had decided to look at culture from an evolutionary perspective. his latest book – From Bacteria to Bach and Back His last chapter, where he contemplates our technological future, was intended to be thought-provoking. Instead, it’s quietly terrifying: we’re only just starting to wake up to the potential outcomes of the technology that we’re inventing but increasingly don’t understand. Human co-operation and trust aren’t givens. They’re the byproducts of a cultural process that can be reversed. And civilisation is far, far more fragile than any of us want to realise.

The real danger that’s facing us is we’ve lost respect for truth and facts. People have discovered that it’s much easier to destroy reputations for credibility than it is to maintain them. It doesn’t matter how good your facts are, somebody else can spread the rumour that you’re fake news. We’re entering a period of epistemological murk and uncertainty that we’ve not experienced since the middle ages.

Maybe people will now begin to realise that philosophers aren’t quite so innocuous after all. Sometimes, views can have terrifying consequences that might actually come true. I think what the postmodernists did was truly evil. They are responsible for the intellectual fad that made it respectable to be cynical about truth and facts. You’d have people going around saying: “Well, you’re part of that crowd who still believe in facts.”

But in your latest book, you ask if civilisation can fail and conclude that it can. You say there’s a huge and present danger because the modern world has become too complex to fix. Does that have a different resonance now than when you wrote it?
I suppose it does. When I wrote it, I thought it would be a hard sell for a lot of people. Whereas now, well, we’re all facing it, aren’t we? My optimism is well surrounded by very pessimistic thoughts, which are in some way probably more realistic.

My friend Danny Hillis gave a TED talk where he pointed out that the vital services of the nation are much more dependent on the internet than they should be. If the internet went down, and a lot of people say it’s just a matter of time, it will probably take the power grid down, cellphones, radio, television – we’ll be plunged into electronic darkness. We’re not used to that. If you thought 9/11 was scary, this is going to be a tremendous panic-inducer. We should be planning what to do about that.

One of the big themes in my book is how up until recently, the world and nature were governed by competence without comprehension. Serious comprehension of anything is very recent, only millennia old, not even a million years old. But we’re now on the verge of moving into the age of post-intelligent design and we don’t bother comprehending any more. That’s one of the most threatening thoughts to me. Because for better or for worse, I put comprehension as one of my highest ideals. I want to understand everything. I want people to understand things. I love understanding things. I love explaining things to myself and to others. We’ve always had plenty of people who, for good reason, said, “Oh, don’t bother explaining to me how the car engine works, I don’t care. I just push the ignition and off I go.” What happens when we take that attitude towards everything?


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Christopher Columbus: No Monuments for Murderers?

Twenty-five years ago, I wrote an article, “Once Upon a Genocide,” reviewing the major children’s literature about Columbus. My conclusion was that these books teach young readers that colonialism and racism are normal.

… in fundamental ways, Columbus’ world is not so different from the world we live in today. Big countries continue to dominate “lesser” nations. The quest for profit is still paramount. The world is still sliced in two between the worthy — the owning classes, the corporate masters, the generals — and those the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano called los nadies— the nobodies. The invaded, the owned, the bombed, the poisoned, the silenced.

So yes, let’s pull down the monuments, let’s make the holidays more inclusive, let’s rewrite the textbooks and children’s literature. But let’s also challenge the fundamental structures of ownership, power, and privilege that have given us such a skewed constellation of heroes and holidays.

Don’t pull down the  monuments. Let them stay and remind us about our stupidity which made us to accept that lie and to teach it to our children. Let them stay and remind us about our shame. I.V. 

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What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness

What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? If you think it’s fame and money, you’re not alone – but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you’re mistaken. As the director of a 75-year-old study on adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. In this talk, he shares three important lessons learned from the study as well as some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life.

Lessons from the longest study on human development

For the past 70 years, scientists in Britain have been studying thousands of children through their lives to find out why some end up happy and healthy while others struggle. It’s the longest-running study of human development in the world, and it’s produced some of the best-studied people on the planet while changing the way we live, learn and parent. Reviewing this remarkable research, science journalist Helen Pearson shares some important findings and simple truths about life and good parenting.

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Human Nature: Paleolithic Emotions, Medieval Institutions, God-Like Technology

Creativity might just be the defining trait that makes us human, says E.O. Wilson, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and acclaimed ‘Father of Biodiversity’. But what exactly is the modern Homo sapiens, anyway? Wilson calls us an evolutionary chimera, picking up things from every age without fully transitioning out of any one era. That’s why we are a complicated mix of paleolithic emotions, medieval leftovers like banks and religion, and now the latest addition: God-like technology. Those are the influences we know about, but creativity may actually predate our language, writings, and art—Wilson believes it’s hundreds of thousands of years older than we assume. How can we discover the deepest roots of what has made us so human? Wilson says the humanities need to up their game and help the sciences unlock our creative origins. E.O. Wilson’s new book is The Origins of Creativity. Read more at… Follow Big Think here: YouTube: Facebook: Twitter: Transcript: When we address human creativity I think what we are dealing with right from the start is what makes us human, and there has been a great shortcoming in the humanities in explaining themselves in order to improve the creative powers of the humanities. By that I mean most considerations of human behavior, its origin, and its meaning within the humanities, stops about the time of the origin of literacy when we can deal with symbols and with the first written languages and understand them. Or perhaps it goes back 10,000 years to the beginnings of Neolithic civilization. But that’s just an eye-blink of time in the origin of the emotions and the setup of the human brain that’s permitted our understanding of the humanities and then ultimately science, to the bottoms of their depths. And this then brings us to what I like to call—an acronym—PAPEN, P – A – P – E – N. And that is a designation of the areas of science that are most relevant to the humanities when they address the origins especially of the human species and the appearance of modern Homo sapiens some several hundred thousand years ago. And PAPEN, P – A – P – E – N, stands for paleontology, anthropology, psychology, evolutionary biology and neural biology. These are the branches of science that need information on the origin of humans, and the deep history of pre-human existence is needed to explain the origins of creativity in modern human beings, and the ways and the reasons our emotions exist and rule us, leading to the way that I have tried to put it in saying that modern humanity is distinguished by paleolithic emotions and medieval institutions like banks and religions, and god-like technology. We’re a mixed up and, in many ways, still archaic species in transition. We are what I like to call a chimera of evolution. We walk around and exist in this fairly newly made civilization that we created, a compound of different traits, of different origins and different degrees of forward evolution.

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The success of the Scientific Revolution led to the development of the worldview of scientific naturalism, or the belief that the world is governed by natural laws and forces that can be understood, and that all phenomena are part of nature and can be explained by natural causes, including human cognitive, moral, and social phenomena. The application of scientific naturalism in the human realm led to the widespread adoption of Enlightenment humanism, a cosmopolitan worldview that places supreme value on science and reason, eschews the supernatural entirely, and relies exclusively on nature and nature’s laws—including human nature and the laws and forces that govern us and our societies—for a complete understanding of the cosmos and everything in it, from particles to people.

Dr. Michael Shermer is the Publisher of Skeptic magazine, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University where he teaches Skepticism 101. He is the author of Why People Believe Weird ThingsWhy Darwin MattersThe Science of Good and Evil, and The Moral Arc. His next book is Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality & Utopia. His two TedTalks, viewed nearly 8 million times, were voted in the top 100 of the more than 2000 TedTalks.

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The New Yorker published yesterday about the Trump children’s shady avoidance of charges in a 2012 real-estate fraud case.
“Amid the chaos and dysfunction,” Slate’s Jamelle Bouie writes, “it can be easy to miss that this White House is corrupt. Remarkably, unbelievably, corrupt.” Given the number of potential scandals involving personal enrichment — of President Trump, his family or top administration officials — I wanted to create a list of all the major ones. Here goes:
• As The New Yorker, ProPublica and the public radio station WNYC reported yesterday, longtime Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz donated more than $50,000 to a Manhattan district attorney who later dropped a case against Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr.
• The presidency is benefiting Trump’s business in numerous ways. Government officials have stayed in hotels that bear Trump’s name, for example, while Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club doubled its membership rates after he won the White House.
Also: Eric Trump has been giving his father quarterly updates on the financial health of his businesses, despite promises that the president would have no involvement. Those businesses have also done deals with foreign governments, despite the president’s pledge that they wouldn’t.
• Trump has spent more than $30 million of taxpayer money traveling to properties he owns, by one estimate.
• Ryan Zinke, Trump’s secretary of the interior, is under investigation for chartering a $12,000 flight from Las Vegas to Montana at taxpayers’ expense.
• David Shulkin, the secretary of Veterans Affairs, charged taxpayers for a trip to Europe that included stopovers at Wimbledon and Westminster Abbey, plus a river cruise for him and his wife.
• Scott Pruitt, who runs the Environmental Protection Agency, regularly dines with donors and lobbyists from industries his department is regulating. He also used public money to pay for a soundproof booth in his office and chartered private and military overseas flights.
• Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, tried to use a government plane to fly him to Europe for his honeymoon. He may also have availed himself of a taxpayer-funded military plane to view the solar eclipse in August, though he says the trip had a different purpose.
• Tom Price, the former secretary of health and human services who resigned last week, spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on private planes. Trump hired Price despite Price’s history of using his position in Congress to receive sweetheart stock deals.
• Jared Kushner has reportedly used his closeness with Trump to secure foreign investment in Kushner’s family-owned business, in exchange for granting visas.
• A Chinese government office approved trademarks for a company owned by Ivanka Trump on the same day that China’s president met with President Trump.
• Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, may have used his position to repay a Russian oligarch.
• Michael Flynn lobbied on behalf of the Turkish government, but Trump selected him as national security adviser anyway (before later ousting him).


Human: relationships which satisfy our inherited needs and longing for great happiness, which provide deep and universal fulfillment, which fills everyday life, our thoughts and behavior with deep balance, tranquility and order.

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Arhitekts Vents Vīnbergs KDi 18 01.2017:

“… māksla vairāk nekā viss cits nodrošina visprecīzāko īstenības atspulgu ….”

Visprecīzāko īstenības atspulgu nodrošina īstenībai iespējami tuvu esoši ārējās pasaules modeļi, kas ļauj droši un pareizi prognozēt ārējās pasaules reakcijas. Ar profesionālu šādu modeļu veidošanu nodarbojas eksaktā zinātne.

Māksla ir viena no daudzajām cilvēku valodām, kas apraksta ārējās pasaules modeļus ne tikai iespējami precīzi, bet galvenais, emocijām bagāti. Psihoterapeiti zina, ka cilvēkus pārliecina nevis loģiski argumenti, bet emocijām pildīti ‘argumenti’ – stāsti (eksaktie tos sauc par modeļiem), kas klausītājā ierosina dziļas emocijas. Un, tā kā mēs galvenokārt esam ’emociju mašīnas’, tad nereti tieši šie ‘stāsti’ (mākslas darbi) veido un iespaido mūsu rīcību.

Jau gadu tūkstošiem, bet sevišķi mūsdienu cilvēku dzīves (iekšējās pasaules) bagātību veido valodas, kurās mēs izsakām, aprakstām un izdzīvojam savu iekšējo pasauli: mūzika, teātris, kino, literatūra, un, galvenokārt, cilvēku attiecības. Šeit, protams, zinātne un dažādi māņticības veidi arī pieder.

Mākslas vērtība.  Plašā skatījumā valodas un mākslas vērtību var mērīt ar tās skaistumu, evolucionisti saka, ka skaists ir tas, kas nodrošina izdzīvošanu lielā laika mērogā. Skaistumu un izdzīvošanu mēs augstu vērtējam.  Tādēļ var teikt, ar vērtībām, ar to, vai tās ir vai nav, mēs mākslu vērtējam. Remarka, Džeka Londona, Iļjas Glazunova un Džuzepes Verdi darbos tās nepārprotami redzamas, mēs baudām ne tikai ‘stāstu’, bet arī domas par savu dzīvi un tās jēgu. Ja kādā darbā ir tikai pirmā daļa, vai arī otrā daļa ir neīsta, nepatiesa, tad tādu darbu nereti sauc par  ‘modernu’ vai, kā raksta autors, par ‘postpatiesību’.

Autors ir nodemonstrējis māku uzrakstīt rakstu vienā teikumā (aptuveni 300 vārdu). Vai tas liecina par apdāvināta cilvēka necieņu pret nesaprotošo pūli? Domāju, ka nē. Vairāk tas liecina par kultūru un sabiedrību, kuras nesējs un izteicējs viņš ir.

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…something to get your poor, caring and sharing and intelligent self out of this cesspool of ignorance

“Once again I ask if anyone here has an exit strategy out of this cesspool of greed, heartless indifference, and breathtaking stupidity that is the US. I am seriously considering the options these days…”

…there are at least three reasons I can’t give you an answer that will satisfy you –

…I haven’t traveled enough to enough places, but I have traveled a little

…you and I are probably so different that you probably wouldn’t like my recommendations, …the wording of this sentence highlights the differences so much that even attempting to find you a “better” place is doomed to failure.

This is long…you might want to jump down to “Suggestions and recommendations”

If you pay attention and believe the mainstream media, and perhaps with your other reasons, including perhaps a negative attitude to begin with, you can come to believe that we or you are in a “cesspool”.

I have my own reasons for not trusting the mainstream media (“the lamestream media”, the MSM or Ministry of Smoke and Mirrors, etc.), and so I am turning to other sources of info, trying to observe more and reflect on my own experience, as everyone must.

But let me give an answer and another perspective.

Some years ago a married couple of Jewish family physicians moved in next door. We shared a lot of things, and perhaps it was our mutual pleasure with the fairly new Macintosh that got us started, but we made and stayed lifelong friends. The two were part of an extended family…one side had a root in Peta Luma California but had since migrated East. Of the four children, one became a music producer in LA, another a music professor on the East coast, the third became the physician who is our friend. The fourth and last brother also became a doctor, but faced anti-Semitism in the U.S. and so at a fairly early age moved to Israel…marrying into what had been a Socialist commune which has since mostly privatized.

The other of the pair had grown up in New Jersey, his father ran an electrical subcontracting business where he helped out as a youngster, spent high school summers running a fishing boat off the coast (even having a little fresh sushi with some of his Japanese clientele before putting back into port). He’s a sailor, a sports car enthusiast, a doer.

Occasionally, one of the two had a brush with depression. When I say “brush with”, I don’t mean they were depressed personally…often physicians have patients who are depressed. But this friend’s observation has stuck with me for decades: ‘smart people often get depressed because they can see how a cause of pain can be so easily avoided.’

The two neighbor physicians were active here in Durham, even starting a suburban clinic on behalf of Duke Hospitals, as “intrapreneurs”…helping with real estate decisions, hiring the staff, computerizing and networking the whole office complex in the early 1990s when this was still new, and setting the medical practices. The clinic grew and prospered. But one day a patient, an ex-con, threatened the life of one of the doctors, the lives of all the staff and the lives of my friend’s family. My friend responding by beefing up clinic security and…arming up with personal weapons – shotgun, pistols, a rifle or two including a family heirloom M1 rifle.

The Duke clinic was taken over by UNC hospitals, as the two systems began eating up independent practices. These two physicians, who had previously started an entire clinic and been responsible for everything, found themselves ordered about by bureaucratic office managers sent by the UNC Systems. By 2008 it became too much, and by 2010 they moved out of state.

They now live in Alaska and they became Alaskans…carrying a loaded pistol on the front seat (for bears on long walks, perhaps), and flying their plane to medical assignments all over the state.

If you are a determinist, they you can see how two “intrapreneurs” became Alaskans. If you are a determinist and you mean what you write, then you’re not much longer for the U.S..

Two summers ago at my local atheists’ ethical society Sunday meeting, I found myself in a “roots” exercise sitting next to a woman who had just returned to the U.S. from six years living in Israel. She, also, had grown up in Peta Luma California, but since this was a “roots” morning, I learned much more about her past from her. Her grandfather was a young man in Czarist Russia, and a hundred years ago found himself with two choices: join the Czar’s Army, which would mean 20 years’ service, or join the Communist Revolution. He chose the Revolution. Years later, he was part of a group that emigrated from Russia, came to the U.S. and journeyed across the country and finally settled in Peta Luma California, where they started a chicken-raising commune. Apparently this is pretty famous. But my new roots friend also explained that her father, at family gatherings, would also say “without the Revolution we would have nothing.” I found it interesting that this new person’s ancestors came from Russia and kept strong Communist/Socialist beliefs, and my father’s family came from the same part of Russia, but he did well in business. My new friend and I might find ourselves on two different sides of political opinion, but we were both being “true to our roots”, we were both atheists and didn’t need the 10 Commandments to ‘honor our fathers and our mothers’.

Wherever your attitudes come from, they probably go as deep and there’s nothing much anyone can say or do or point out to you that’s going to change them. Attitude is a ‘country’ too, and you and I live on different sides of an ocean.

I have traveled to and lived in just a few other countries for short stretches. I don’t find America a cesspool. When I walk through malls and markets in my region, bi-racial couples are everywhere, something I wouldn’t have seen in my native Cleveland Ohio when I was growing up. I don’t find neighbors and friends , business acquaintances and casual acquaintances ‘greedy, heartlessly indifferent, or breathtakingly stupid’. The biggest divide I’ve seen in my small slice of the country was last year, and it was about the last election, when people argued about their picture of the world and its prominent people. Day to day people are not at each others’ throats. In general, they know enough to stay away from people they disagree with and leave each other alone.

I do not trust concentrations of power, which means I have little trust for Washington and the largest corporations. For example, I am de-Googling myself as fast as practical. But that’s off subject.

What I have found true about travel is that people that come from different places have many differences, and they work up their own local ways of dealing with reality, their environments, survival, and each other.

My closest former-Russian friend left the U.S. because he was told this was the “land of the free”, and all he’s seen is laws, corrupt politicians, and corporations telling the sheeple what to do and what to believe. He left to seek more freedom and a cheaper cost of living. He’s now living in Vietnam.

Whenever I think I have a good picture of reality, I remind myself that my descriptions, political and otherwise, are probably missing a great deal of information and hence might be completely wrong. Further, when I’m reminded of huge differences, say between me and another American over politics, politics being the vying for power over individuals and groups…that we have 7 and a half billion people living on the planet, most are not killing each other, (to paraphrase Vic praising science when he described its resulting aging populations ‘so many that the very large number of people themselves are a problem’)  and that alone tells me that humans are doing something socially and politically correct.

Suggestions and recommendations

1…If you so dislike the place, quit writing so much, quit reading so much that’s feeding your doom, gloom, and disgust, and do something about it. “Get off your ass” as some politician recently advised. I admit I have a prejudice towards action over speech, and this is what my prejudice advises you.

2…Cut out MSM…and even cut out atvoid-2 for a spell. I myself stay on for about four reasons, the largest being nostalgia for Vic. But I open less than a tenth of the posts…the rest of the posts are pretty predictable. Cut off cable TV. Use the savings to start a travel fund.

3…Take some of your savings and travel…as far away as possible for as long as possible and as soon as possible. I’ve heard that only 15 percent of U.S. citizens even has a passport. If you include all the immigrants to the U.S. who keep their passports active to visit relatives in their country of origin, this is a sorry figure of a majority of parochial sticks-in-the-mud. If I had a lot of money I’d buy as many U.S. citizens as I could a one-way plane ticket to as far away as possible, and give them an allowance to buy a ticket back, but not from the same airport. In traveling you will see what you will see – both good and bad in other places, and if you stay away long enough, you will feel somewhat alien when you return – perhaps you will find, as I did, the U.S. is weird, in its own way. But “weird” is not “a cesspool”.

And most Americans, never having traveled or lived somewhere else, are also ungrateful. Those who listen to the MSM telling them that everything is shit leave their domiciles framed and prepped to see nothing but shit, and….voila! All they see is shit. This is a positive feedback loop and confirmation bias all rolled into one.

When you travel you’re going to find so many differences, you won’t be able to deny them. You may find that you agree with non-Americans you meet on issue A, but disagree on issue B. You’re going to find that you agree on some major issues, but you really don’t like what they eat or how they smell or how they live day to day. Travel has a way of putting you deep in to these situations and you won’t need a politically-incorrect person like me to notice them.

4…Try Estonia. Cold, dark, stark, but they vote with their phones.

Try Eastern Europe, where I spend some time each year (prices are cheap, families are tight, but half the population earn their money outside the country and send it home…they can’t seem to get their post-Yugoslavian economy humming). All in all, you might choose family over economy – it’s warmer, and let’s face it, a humming economy can break up families. England was expensive when I was there last…if its guns you’re afraid of, few guns there. Try Isreal. Try China, where a close friend of mine spent time on construction projects and now says what our media reports about China is almost always wrong. Try Japan, where another classmate has found home…became the sole Gai-jin judo instructor in the country’s most prominent judo club, but who informs me that most young Japanese men are being raised as prissy boys. Try Vietnam, and if you run into my Russian freedom-seeking friend, tell him “hello”.

5…If a country move seems too much, try another state – try Alaska. Totally different than the lower 48. Of course I can’t even ask you to visit Flyover country, but you might visit, or at least pick up a National Geographic and read about it.

6…Try …something to get your poor, caring and sharing and intelligent self out of this cesspool of ignorance, because frankly, with your attitude, you couldn’t see positive things or solutions worth putting your shoulder to if you bumped into them.

Somewhat relevant perhaps, though I think I recall some people on this list say that they dislike/disagree with Chris Hedges.


…I think this is plausible, though maybe not the timescale. The US will not be overthrown militarily, and is not an empire in the same way as the others he mentions, with dominions and colonies to maintain. And the modern world, with its rapid communications, is very different even from the one that saw the sun set on the British Empire 60 years ago. Nor do I think that it will be supplanted, as Hedges suggests. I think it will remain a player. Even little UK remains a significant economic power, and Russia is again one of the world’s big actors less than 30 years after the “end of history”. For the US, the question is not so much whether it will remain a big player on the world stage (even perhaps primus inter pares, at least in the military domain), as whether it will maintain/restore its political traditions, or move closer to the Russian model of a gangster oligarchy (which seems more likely than China’s authoritarian state capitalism). I suppose the other question is whether the rest of the “democratic” world can hold together if the US fails. There are good reasons why Russia (and perhaps Trump too) is keen to see the EU implode – it is imperfect, badly tainted by the neoliberal virus, and democratically flawed, but it nevertheless embodies a particular political vision, as well as a powerful trading bloc. If the EU fragments, Canada may become the only option, if you want to remain in a world that is at least partly familiar. If you are prepared for profound dépaysement, your options are wider…

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Physicists report new, solid observation of gravitational waves

Although Henri Poincaré first suggested that in analogy to an accelerating electrical charge producing electromagnetic waves, gravitational waves are tightly associated to Albert Einstein, who first predicted their existence in 1916, in his famous general theory of relativity. His mathematical equations showed that massive accelerating objects (namely neutron stars or black holes orbiting each other) would disrupt the fabric of space-time, sending waves in the process, much like a stone thrown into a pond sends ripple in the water. However, later on in his work, Einstein started to doubt their existence. In 1936, Einstein and Nathan Rosen submitted a paper to Physical Review in which they argued that the gravitational waves could not exist in the full theory of general relativity. The paper was anonymously reviewed by mathematician Howard P. Robertson, who pointed out some miscalculations within the paper. Furious, Einstein withdrew the paper, but ultimately, one of his assistants, who had been in contact with Robertson, convinced Einstein that the criticism was correct. They rewrote the paper, but with exactly the opposite conclusions, supporting the existence of gravitational waves.

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What computers teach us about getting along


From an office at Carnegie Mellon, my colleague John Miller and I had evolved a computer program with a taste for genocide.

This was certainly not our intent. We were not scholars of race, or war. We were interested in the emergence of primitive cooperation. So we built machines that lived in an imaginary society, and made them play a game with each other—one known to engender complex social behavior just as surely as a mushy banana makes fruit flies.

The game is called Prisoner’s Dilemma. It takes many guises, but it is at heart a story about two individuals that can choose to cooperate or to cheat. If they both cheat, they both suffer. If they both cooperate, they both prosper. But if one tries to cooperate while the other cheats, the cheater prospers even more.

The game has a generality that appeals to a political philosopher, but a rigorous specificity that makes it possible to guide computer simulations. As a tool for the mathematical study of human behavior, it is the equivalent of Galileo’s inclined plane, or Gregor Mendel’s pea plants. Do you join the strike, or sneak across the picket line? Rein in production to keep prices high, or undercut the cartel and flood the market? Pull your weight in a study group, or leave the work to others?

Woe to those who did not know the code.

Our simulation was simple: In a virtual world, decision-making machines with limited powers of reasoning played the game over and over. We, as the unforgiving account-keepers, rewarded the ones who prospered and punished the ones who did not. Successful machines passed their strategies to the next generation, with the occasional slight variations designed to imitate the blind distortions typical of cultural evolution.

We also gave the machines a simple language to think with and enough resources to have memories and to act on them. Each generation, paired machines faced each other multiple times. This is how life appears to us: We encounter our trading partners over and over, and how we treat them has consequences. Our model for the world was two Robinson Crusoes encountering each other on the sands.

When we ran these little societies forward, we expected to confirm what many believed to be the optimal strategy for playing Prisoner’s Dilemma: tit-for-tat. A machine playing this strategy begins by keeping its promises, but retaliates against an instance of cheating by cheating, once, in return. Tit-for-tat is the playground rule of honor: Treat others well, unless they give you reason otherwise—and be reasonably quick to forgive.

Yet when we looked at the output of our simulations, where the strategies were free to evolve in arbitrary directions, we saw something very different. After an early, chaotic period, a single machine would rise rapidly to dominance, taking over its imaginary world for hundreds of generations until, just as suddenly, it collapsed, sending the world into a chaos of conflict out of which the next cycle arose. An archaeologist of such a world would have encountered thick layers of prosperity alternating with eras of ash and bone.

Instead of an orderly playground ruled by cautious, prideful cooperators, the population produced bizarre configurations that made no sense to us. That is, until one evening, in the office and after filling up pads of graph paper, we stumbled onto the truth. The dominant machines had taken players’ actions to be a code by which they could recognize when they were faced with copies of themselves.

SHIBBOLETH MACHINES: Simulations of our machines show initial levels of apparently random behavior giving way, around generation 300, to high rates of cooperation that coincide with near-complete domination by a single machine that drives others to extinction. This enforced cooperation collapses around generation 450. From then on, the system alternates between these two extremes. Green and yellow bands correspond to eras of high and low cooperation, respectively.

In the opening moves of the game, they would tap out a distinct pattern: cooperate, cheat, cheat, cooperate, cheat, cooperate (for example). If their opponent responded in exactly the same fashion, cheating when they cheated, cooperating when they cooperated, they would eventually switch to a phase of permanent cooperation, rewarding the opponent with the benefits of action to mutual advantage.

Woe, however, to those who did not know the code. Any deviation from the expected sequence was rewarded with total and permanent war. Such a response might take both machines down, in a kind of a digital suicide attack. Because the sequence was so hard to hit upon by accident, only the descendants of ruling machines could profit from the post-code era of selfless cooperation. All others were killed off, including those using the tit-for-tat strategy. This domination would last until enough errors accumulated in the code handed down between generations for dominant machines to stop recognizing each other. Then, they would turn against each other as viciously as they once turned against outsiders, in a kind of population-level autoimmune disease.

As long as the codes lasted we called them Shibboleths, after the tribal genocide recounted in the Old Testament Book of Judges:

And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay; / Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.

Shibboleths are a common feature of human culture and conflict. Finns who could not pronounce yksi (meaning “one”) were identified as Russians during the Finnish Civil War. Tourists in downtown Manhattan quickly out themselves if they pronounce Houston Street like the city in Texas.

Here our machines had used them to dominate a population so effectively that no others could survive. Even after the era was over, it was their descendants that inherited the ashes. The blind hand of evolution had found a simple, if vicious, solution.

It was a stark and brutal social landscape. But we had given our machines very limited resources to think with. How would two perfectly rational machines act in a conflict, if they each knew the other was similarly perfectly rational? By the very nature of rationality, two completely rational beings, confronted with the same problem, ought to behave in the same fashion. Knowing this, each would choose to cooperate—but not out of altruism. Each would recognize that if it were to cheat, its opponent would too, making them both losers in the game.

The two endpoints establish a spectrum. At one end are our minimally-calculating machines, parochial zero-points of culture that naturally, we found, distilled down to a vicious tribalism. At the other end is the inevitable cooperation of the perfectly rational agent.

On this line between beastly machines and angelic rationality, where do we find the human species?

If we humans are super-rational, or at least on our way there, there is reason to be optimistic. Francis Fukuyama might have been thinking along these lines when he penned his end-of-history thesis in 1992. Though Fukuyama’s argument was rooted in 19th-century German philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, we might rewrite it this way: A sufficiently complex simulation of human life would terminate in a rational, liberal-democratic, and capitalist order standing against a scattered and dispersing set of enemies.

Fukuyama’s argument was based not just on philosophical speculation, but on a reading of then-current events: the collapse of communism, the flourishing of electronic media, the apparently frictionless opening of borders, and a stock market beginning an epic bull run.

Today his thesis seems like a monument to the dreams of an earlier era (one chapter was titled “The Victory of the VCR”). Our cultures are evolving today, but not, it seems, toward any harmony. The chaos of the 21st century makes our simulations feel immediately familiar. Two decades after 9/11, even the Western liberal democracies are willing to consider dark models of human behavior, and darker theorists than Fukuyama.

Carl Schmitt, for example, who saw the deliberative elements of democracy as window dressing on more authoritarian forms of power. Or Robert Michels, whose studies of political inequality led him to see democracy as a temporary stage in the evolution of society to rule by a small, closed elite. As intellectuals at both political extremes increasingly see the possibility of a rational political order as a fantasy, Shibboleths take up their role in defining racial, national, and religious boundaries and appear once again to be ineradicable features of political life.

There is a great, and rich, valley between these philosophies, and another between the computer models that match them—between the simple, violent and less-than-rational agents that John Miller and I simulated, and the super-rational cooperators that Fukuyama might have considered to be waiting at the end of history. The models, at least, encourage a guarded optimism.

Researchers associated with meetings at the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI) in Berkeley have studied the behavior of rational but resource-limited machines who could inspect each other’s source code. Such transparency might seem to solve the problem of cooperation: If I can predict what my opponent will do by simulating his source code, I might decide cheating is not worth the cost. But what if my opponent’s code includes a simulation of what I will do as a consequence of running that simulation, and tries to exploit that knowledge? Without the symmetry of perfect rationality, this problem leads to some extreme mental contortions.

Some of the machines in MIRI’s bestiary might remind you of people you know. “CliqueBot,” for example, simply cooperates with anyone who shares the same source code. It only cares about codes that match its own letter-for-letter. “FairBot,” on the other hand, tries to look beneath surface differences to prove that an opponent will cooperate with someone like itself. Informally, FairBot says, “if I can prove that my opponent will cooperate with me, I’ll cooperate with him.”

How do these machines get along? While the full solution is a paradox of regress, studies of predictive machine behavior in a Prisoner’s Dilemma standoff provide the comforting answer that mutual cooperation remains at least possible, even for the resource-limited player. FairBot, for example, can recognize similarly-fair machines even if they have different source code, suggesting that diversity and cooperation are not impossible, at least when intelligence is sufficiently high.1

Even the genocidal machines at the violent end of the spectrum may carry a heartening lesson. They emerged from the depths of a circuit board, simulated on a supercomputer in Texas. They had no biological excuse to fall back on. Maybe we, too, shouldn’t make excuses: If a behavior is so common as to emerge in the simplest simulations, perhaps we ought neither to fear it, nor to idolize it, but to treat it, the same way we do cancer, or the flu.

What if we saw tribalism as a natural malfunction of any cognitive system, silicon or carbon? As neither a universal truth or unavoidable sin, but something to be overcome?


Simon DeDeo is an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University, where he runs the Laboratory for Social Minds, and external faculty at the Santa Fe Institute.


On this line between beastly machines and angelic rationality, where do we find the human species?”

 Humans are just somewhere in a middle, but with some additional and rather tricky features: very often they have poor rationality (because of poor knowledge of facts and poor understanding) and some evolutionary inherited needs: besides the need for elementary survival, shelter and procreation they have some specific  needs for self-actualization (which often is expressed as the need for material goods and conditions far above the elementary), the need for limbic attachment, love and, at the end, the need for something sacred, for something higher than daily survival, for some end and sense. 

“What if we saw tribalism as a natural malfunction of any cognitive system, silicon or carbon? As neither a universal truth or unavoidable sin, but something to be overcome?”

Tribalism, or, a bit wider, human nature, is not a natural malfunction or unavoidable sin, it is a great gift from our evolution we can understand and use properly, i.e., for our benefit. 

“we might rewrite it this way: A sufficiently complex simulation of human life would terminate in a rational, liberal-democratic, and capitalist order standing against a scattered and dispersing set of enemies”.

To day we can rewrite it in this way: scientific simulation of human life will terminate in a rational and emotion-rich world, where all rules are not only based on real human features but use them. I.V. 

Posted in Human Evolution, Understand and Manage Ourselves | Leave a comment
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