Gail Tverberg: Why There’s No Economically Sustainable Price For Oil Anymore

Producers need higher prices that the public can’t afford.

Actuary Gail Tverberg returns to provide an update on where we are in the global energy story. Her outlook is not rosy: she doesn’t see a path for society to transition to an affordable, plentiful substitute to petroleum as a transportation fuel. The physics as well as the funding do not pencil out, at least with today’s known technologies.

Without such a solution in hand, the world finds itself now mired in a scenario where there really is no long-term workable range for the price of oil. It’s either “too high” and demand suffers, or “too low” and producers can’t afford to extract it. The acceptable middle ground has disappeared:

When on the rising side of the Hubbert curve, everybody has good wage level and everybody can feed themselves. You can build new oil wells and everything works out fine. But what happens as you get past the 50% mark is that you no longer have enough oil coming out for the economy to keep growing. It starts going down. And what happens then is that the economy doesn’t function in the same way. You start getting the prices to spike as you try to get higher-cost oil out. And this is what we saw in the 2007-2008 period.

The price of oil spikes and you get recession. Then the price of oil comes back down. But wages don’t recover and you get the very low price problem that we have right now. So it doesn’t work right. You can’t keep getting the same amount of oil out, essentially because the wages of the people don’t stay up high enough in order to afford the output of the economy.

At this point, it has gotten bad enough that there is no price that works. The price that producers need is higher than what the market will bear.

If we go to a place like Saudi Arabia, you’d say: They can get it out of the ground for $20 a barrel. But then when you look at it, you discover that they really need a much higher price if you include in all of the taxes and all of the funding they need to keep social order, import lots of wheat and the many other things that their economy needs, and build a desalination plant. So they really can’t get along on $20 a barrel. They learned how they can get along on $100 or $120 a barrel, but they can’t get along on $50 a barrel  — even in Saudi Arabia.

So you end up with a situation where there isn’t any kind price that really will work.

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2017: The Year When the World Economy Starts Coming Apart

Some people would argue that 2016 was the year that the world economy started to come apart, with the passage of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Whether or not the “coming apart” process started in 2016, in my opinion we are going to see many more steps in this direction in 2017. Let me explain a few of the things I see.

2017: The Year When the World Economy Starts Coming Apart

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Helen Fisher: Technology hasn’t changed love. Here’s why

In our tech-driven, interconnected world, we’ve developed new ways and rules to court each other, but the fundamental principles of love have stayed the same, says anthropologist Helen Fisher. Our faster connections, she suggests, are actually leading to slower, more intimate relationships. At 12:20, couples therapist and relationship expert Esther Perel steps in to make an important point — that while love itself stays the same, technology has affected the way we form and end relationships.

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A better way to talk about love

In love, we fall. We’re struck, we’re crushed, we swoon. We burn with passion. Love makes us crazy and makes us sick. Our hearts ache, and then they break. Talking about love in this way fundamentally shapes how we experience it, says writer Mandy Len Catron. In this talk for anyone who’s ever felt crazy in love, Catron highlights a different metaphor for love that may help us find more joy — and less suffering — in it.

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Paradox of Progress


Thinking about the future is vital but hard. Crises keep intruding, making it all but impossible to look beyond daily headlines to what lies over the horizon. In those circumstances, thinking “outside the box,” to use the cliché, too often loses out to keeping up with the inbox. That is why every four years the National Intelligence Council (NIC) undertakes a major assessment of the forces and choices shaping the world before us over the next two decades.

This version, the sixth in the series, is titled, “Global Trends: The Paradox of Progress,” and we are proud of it. It may look like a report, but it is really an invitation, an invitation to discuss, debate and inquire further about how the future could unfold. Certainly, we do not pretend to have the definitive “answer.”

Long-term thinking is critical to framing strategy. The Global Trends series pushes us to reexamine key assumptions, expectations, and uncertainties about the future. In a very messy and interconnected world, a longer perspective requires us to ask hard questions about which issues and choices will be most consequential in the decades ahead–even if they don’t necessarily generate the biggest headlines. A longer view also is essential because issues like terrorism, cyberattacks, biotechnology, and climate change invoke high stakes and will require sustained collaboration to address.

Peering into the future can be scary and surely is humbling. Events unfold in complex ways for which our brains are not naturally wired. Economic, political, social, technological, and cultural forces collide in dizzying ways, so we can be led to confuse recent, dramatic events with the more important ones. It is tempting, and usually fair, to assume people act “rationally,” but leaders, groups, mobs, and masses can behave very differently—and unexpectedly—under similar circumstances. For instance, we had known for decades how brittle most regimes in the Middle East were, yet some erupted in the Arab Spring in 2011 and others did not. Experience teaches us how much history unfolds through cycles and shifts, and still human nature commonly expects tomorrow to be pretty much like today—which is usually the safest bet on the future until it is not. I always remind myself that between Mr. Reagan’s “evil empire” speech and the demise of that empire, the Soviet Union, was only a scant decade, a relatively short time even in a human life.

Grasping the future is also complicated by the assumptions we carry around in our heads, often without quite knowing we do. I have been struck recently by the “prosperity presumption” that runs deep in most Americans but is often hardly recognized. We assume that with prosperity come all good things—people are happier, more democratic and less likely to go to war with one another. Yet, then we confront a group like ISIL, which shares none of the presumption.

Given these challenges to thinking about the future, we have engaged broadly and tried to stick to analytic basics rather than seizing any particular worldview. Two years ago, we started with exercises identifying key assumptions and uncertainties—the list of assumptions underlying US foreign policy was stunningly long, many of them half-buried. We conducted research and consulted with numerous experts in and outside the US Government to identify and test trends. We tested early themes and arguments on a blog. We visited more than 35 countries and one territory, soliciting ideas and feedback from over 2,500 people around the world from all walks of life. We developed multiple scenarios to imagine how key uncertainties might result in alternative futures. The NIC then compiled and refined the various streams into what you see here.

This edition of Global Trends revolves around a core argument about how the changing nature of power is increasing stress both within countries and between countries, and bearing on vexing transnational issues. The main section lays out the key trends, explores their implications, and offers up three scenarios to help readers imagine how different choices and developments could play out in very different ways over the next several decades. Two annexes lay out more detail. The first lays out five-year forecasts for each region of the world. The second provides more context on the key global trends in train.

The fact that the National Intelligence Council regularly publishes an unclassified assessment of the world surprises some people, but our intent is to encourage open and informed discussions about future risks and opportunities. Moreover, Global Trends is unclassified because those screens of secrets that dominate our daily work are not of much help in peering out beyond a year or two. What is a help is reaching out not just to experts and government officials but also to students, women’s groups, entrepreneurs, transparency advocates, and beyond.

Many minds and hands made this project happen. The heavy lifting was done by the NIC’s Strategic Futures Group, directed by Dr. Suzanne Fry, with her very talented team: Rich Engel, Phyllis Berry, Heather Brown, Kenneth Dyer, Daniel Flynn, Geanetta Ford, Steven Grube, Terrence Markin, Nicholas Muto, Robert Odell, Rod Schoonover, Thomas Stork, and dozens of Deputy National Intelligence Officers. We recognize as well the thoughtful, careful review by NIC editors, as well as CIA’s extremely talented graphic and web designers and production team.

Global Trends represents how the NIC is thinking about the future. It does not represent the official, coordinated view of the US Intelligence Community nor US policy. Longtime readers will note that this edition does not reference a year in the title (the previous edition was Global Trends 2030) because we think doing so conveys a false precision. For us, looking over the “long term” spans the next several decades, but we also have made room in this edition to explore the next five years to be more relevant in timeline for a new US administration.

We hope this Global Trends stretches your thinking. However pessimistic or optimistic you may be about the years ahead, we believe exploring the key issues and choices facing the world is a worthy endeavor.

Sincerely, Gregory Treverton, Chairman, National Intelligence Council


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Is Gravitation Interaction or just Curved-Spacetime Geometry?

Abstract.  As there have still been attempts to regard gravity, a 100 years after Einstein’s general relativity, not as a manifestation of the non-Euclidean geometry of spacetime, but as a physical field (and therefore as a force), it is high time to face the ultimate judge – the experimental evidence – to settle this issue once and for all. Two rulings of the ultimate judge are reminded – (i) the experimental fact that falling particles do not resist their fall rules out the option that gravity may be a force, and (ii) the experiments that confirmed the relativistic effects are impossible in a three-dimensional world, which also implies that gravity is indeed manifestation of the geometry of the real spacetime. It is also stressed that not only are attempts to impose a kind of scientific democracy in physics doomed to failure (because the question of what the external world is, is not necessarily determined by what the majority of physicists claim), but such attempts might, in the end, hamper the advancement of fundamental physics.

1 Introduction Despite that for centuries physicists have known well that there is no democracy in science, there have been attempts in recent years to get rid of the tyranny of experiment and to introduce the “values” of democracy in physics too – to sideline the scientific method silently as an undemocratic method of doing physics and to replace it with purely unscientific “criteria” such as beauty and elegance [3] of the mathematical 1 formalism of proposed theories, ambiguous virtues such as explanatory power, and the core of scientific democracy (which has being implicitly promoted) – if a proposed theory is supported by sufficient number of researchers and a great number of MSc and PhD theses on this theory have been defended, the theory should have the democratic right to be treated equally with the established theories. Not only may allowing any degree of scientific democracy in physics not lead to scientific progress, but it almost certainly may hamper the advancement of fundamental physics and may even have disastrous consequences. Here are two groups of examples of what I think are manifestations of attempted scientific democracy some of which might have held back the progress in fundamental physics (just imagine the funds and the number of researchers involved in the research on string theory, if it turns out that it contradicts the existing experimental evidence, especially if that contradiction could have been discovered years earlier): Proposed theories: In recent years there has been a growing dissatisfaction among physicists with the attempts to regard theories (such as string theory and the multiverse cosmology), which have not been experimentally confirmed, on equal footing with the already accepted physical theories. In December 2014 George Ellis and Joe Silk published in Nature the article “Scientific method: Defend the integrity of physics,” whose beginning openly expressed that dissatisfaction and alarm [4]: “This year, debates in physics circles took a worrying turn. Faced with difficulties in applying fundamental theories to the observed Universe, some researchers called for a change in how theoretical physics is done. They began to argue – explicitly – that if a theory is sufficiently elegant and explanatory, it need not be tested experimentally, breaking with centuries of philosophical tradition of defining scientific knowledge as empirical.” While the multiverse cosmology does not seem to make any testable predictions (which excludes it from the realm of physics), string theory needs especially rigorous and impartial scrutiny because I think it contradicts the already existing experimental evidence [5]. Alternative interpretations: I will give two examples of interpretations based on misconceptions in spacetime physics. The first is a growing fashion to claim that the notion of relativistic mass (that mass increases with velocity) is a misconception [6]. In fact, it is the claim that mass does not increase with velocity that is an unfortunate and embarrassing misconception, which becomes immediately obvious when two facts are taken explicitly into account: • the very definition of mass (mass is defined as the measure of the resistance a particle offers to its acceleration) • that in relativity acceleration is different in different reference frames. Therefore the mass of a particle cannot be the same in all frames in relative motion. Proper or rest mass (which is an invariant) and relativistic mass (which is framedependent) are exactly like proper time (which is an invariant) and relativistic or coordinate time (which is frame-dependent), and, to some extent, like proper and relativistic length. The second example deals with attempts not to regard gravitational phenomena as actually being manifestations of the non-Euclidean geometry of spacetime (viewing the geometrical presentation of general relativity as pure mathematics), but as caused 2 by a gravitational field (and therefore by a gravitational force). As such attempts still exist a 100 years after the creation of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, the purpose of this paper is to stress it as strongly as possible that such an interpretation of Einstein’s general relativity is ruled out by the experimental evidence as will be shown in Section 2. It will be also shown in this section that the experiments that confirmed the kinematic relativistic effects would be impossible if spacetime were a mathematical notion not representing a real four-dimensional world. The logically unavoidable implication from (i) the non-existence of gravitational force an (ii) the reality of spacetime that gravitational phenomena are fully explained by the nonEuclidean geometry of spacetime, without the assumption of gravitational interaction, is outlined in Section 3. An Appendix demonstrates that it is almost self-evident that what is traditionally called kinetic energy is in fact inertial energy; it is this energy (not gravitational energy) that is involved in gravitational phenomena.


This is not the only field of science where the ‘democracy’ arises. Information theory, Artificial intelligence, entropy and complexity – often in these disciplines obscure, misty and mystical pronouncements are distributed. The main notions are not defined and therefore everybody can say everything – nobody can doubt or deny it.  I.V. 

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Complexity or some simple thoughts about consciousness and intelligence

All atoms and molecules, all living beings and human made things are emergent property devices, all chemical reactions and human mental processes are emergent property processes. We are accustomed to say that the systems and processes are complex or complicated, especially, when we don’t understand them good enough, e.g., when we talk about consciousness. This comes because of lack of good models we usually create in order to represent and understand the reality.

In order to understand and agree with what we are talking about, we must define the basic notions. Here I will propose one possible way of defining and measuring complexity.

System’s complexity can be measured: 1) by the number of different parts and links it contains; 2) by the number of new properties, emerging in a system.

For example, the popular example of emergent property system, a mechanical mouse trap. Its physical structure has 4 different parts and 4 connections: the spring (part), which hits the mouse (connection) when released,  the spring’s fixator (part), released when touched (connection), the place for food (part), connected with fixator (connection), and the base (part & connection) connecting all parts.

Mousetrap’s new or emergent properties are: 1) the ability to accumulate mechanical energy, introduced into the system; 2) the ability to release the accumulated energy when touched.

Models are mental representations of the external world, humans and animals create in order to cooperate with it. They are cooperation algorithms between the conscious system and environment, created using previous experience and the known (learned) properties of physical environment, allowing to predict the next cooperation events. When our predictions are true, we say that we understand the process.

Our models for the analysis and understanding more complicated systems are incomplete and unexact, e.g., the models of elementary particles (dual nature, the particle and the wave), in these fields we are flooded with mystical theories and explanations, beginning with declarations ‘nobody knows’ and ending with ‘we will never understand it’.

The models of consciousness: in most current ‘scientific publications’ the basic notions of proposed models are not defined. If the notions are not defined, it is possible to say anything – nobody can doubt or deny it.

Intelligence is the emergent property of the system with much more (as in a mouse trap or other human-made devices) distinguishable parts and emergent properties.  We don’t know exactly the all necessary parts for the intelligence to emerge but we must start with defining them. Since the best known to us is human or animal intelligence I will try to count the parts and functions of the human-like system. They are: 1) sensormechanisms for the external world: vision, touch, hearing, smell, temperature sense; the ability to sense own body’s states and moves; 2) the body distinguished from the external world; 3) actuators  and the body’s ability to use own actuators in order to cooperate with the external world (EW); 4) inherited (or pre-programmed in AI devices) ability to create the external world models (EWM) by using own sensory experience.

The main emergent property of intelligence is the ability to create and use millions of models of the external world. The last hurdle for GAI is the creation of EWM : it is impossible to program millions of  EWM necessary for cooperation with the external world. One more narrow aspect of intelligence is consciousness: it is the model of self.

There are many secondary emergent properties of intelligence, e.g., millions of human created EWM, culture elements and processes. Taking part in these processes creates positive emotions and wellness.


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Violence brought us Trump, but Nonviolent Protest will Stop Him

What’s next? That is the big question facing this country after the election. And many people have been sharing their thoughts on that over social and traditional media, over dinner conversations, at the office and on the bus with complete strangers. And, as expected, people are all over the map with ideas and strategies.

One developing theme is that we need to escalate — utilize more militant tactics in our resistance movements. Hatred, division and ignorance has escalated, so it is only natural that our response to it has to escalate along with it to match its intensity.

At the same time, however, I have also seen people suggesting that we need to consider using violent methods to resist Trump and what he stands for — that in this day and age, nonviolence is “not enough.”

While I certainly empathize with the emotions driving that idea, we also have to remember that it is violence that got us here. It is hatred, ignorance, division, intimidation — all manifestations of violence — that brought us Trump.

If we choose to be motivated by anger and hatred, if we choose to divide our communities even more, all we do is continue to feed the exact energy that got us Trump. Even if the anger is towards Trump and his supporters, we are empowering the forces that allowed him to rise to power. We need to be angry, but at the forces of injustice, not its human participants.


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BRAINSTORM: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain

Dr. Dan Siegel shares his research findings and dispels the negative myths of adolescence prevalent in the media. He also reveals how crucial brain development between ages 12 and 24 prepares young people to thrive as interdependent adults. Dr. Siegel’s insights teach parents how to work together with their teens to enhance self-awareness, support family connections, and reduce vulnerability to risks. Learn how to foster a climate of kindness, compassion, and resilience in your family and community.

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An Open Letter to Jesus Christ

D.M. Bennett’s An Open Letter to Jesus Christ was first published in the November 1875 issue of the Truth Seeker

It is quite possible some people may deem it improper that a letter addressed to the distinguished personage named above should be written, but we cannot so regard it. Countless prayers and appeals are daily made to him from all sorts of people, from all sorts of places, and upon all sorts of subjects. Every one says or asks what he pleases, and no man is authorized to dictate what shall be said. A prayer is an appeal, a letter is another form of appeal. Any individual has a right to either form. That a letter is any more improper than a prayer is not obvious, and in this case a letter is preferred:

To His Excellency, IMMANUEL J. CHRIST, otherwise called “Prince of Peace,” “Sun of Righteousness,” “Lion of the Tribe of Judah,” “Wonderful,” “Counsellor,” “The Messiah,” “The Redeemer,” “The Savior,” “The Bridegroom,” “The Lamb of God,” “Captain of our Salvation,” “Son of God,” “Son of Man,” etc., etc.

Respected Sir: Learning from our daily papers that it is expected you will pass a few days in our immediate vicinity, in company with your agents, Moody and Sankey, who are supposed to be in your special service, and who have just commenced a grand starring engagement through our principal cities, in your interest, I embrace this opportunity to address you in this manner, hoping I may be able to attract your attention and to receive a reply. I am in quest of truth, and many say it is to be found with you, and to attain any good gift whatsoever of you, it is only necessary to ask. I wish knowledge and information on many subjects, and I hereby make my wants known, I trust with due respect and in a proper spirit. If I have not troubled you latterly as often as many do, I hope it will not disparage my chances of recognition.

If your memory serves you, you probably can bring to mind that something over a quarter of a century ago I was in the habit of addressing you regularly four or five times a day, and from one year’s end to another, but finally coming to the conclusion that my appeals were not heard, or that they availed me nothing, I discontinued them, thus saving much time and breath, as well as disappointment also, and losing nothing, so far as I was able to judge. After a silence of more than twenty-five years, it is hoped this effort will be successful; but if it is not, I shall not be greatly surprised.

I shall not have room in one letter to enquire of you all I wish to know, but if I am successful in obtaining answers to these questions, I may some time address you again, but, in any event, I trust I approach you in a proper spirit, and that I give no offence. I wish not to be impertinent, but to indicate to you the points upon which I need light. If you are truly the source of light, may I not hope to be successful?

. . . .  [unbelievably long, but oh so interesting compilation of specific complaints from a probable genious]
. . . .
Among all the nations of the earth, is there one nation where there is more stealing, more lying, more cheating, more fraud, more oppression upon the poor, and more cruelty, more heartlessness and more murder than in Christian lands?

Are not the precepts, maxims, and moral sentiments you enjoined used by your professed followers more as a cloak for their heartless deception and their self-righteousness, and as a weapon in their controversies with themselves and their antagonists, than as a rule of life or the governing principle of conduct?

Does not the worship of gold, of avarice, of power of fashion, of respectability, of selfishness, control their actions and inspire their lives far more than the meek and lowly doctrines you enunciated?

In a few words, is not Christianity, as known and practiced in the world, a cheat, a fraud, a costly and an expensive luxury which mankind could well spare, losing nothing by its rejection?

Finally, as you now view the field, the past, the present, and the future, would it not, in your opinion, be better to wipe out from the face of the earth all priestcraft, superstition, sectarianism, falsehood, all the absurdities and monstrosities which have so preyed upon mankind, and to inaugurate an era of truth, reason, common sense, science, education, simplicity, fraternity, and humanity; discarding false gods, base devils, useless saviors, and degrading creeds. and to devote our time and attention to the improvement of this world and to the happiness of the human race?

Pardon me, Dear Sir, if I have been importunate or bold in my interrogatories. I feel that it is perfectly safe to inquire of you on all the subjects here touched upon, and upon which I wish information.

Should I be successful in obtaining answers from you, I will be encouraged to ask for more information. But as hinted at in the beginning of my letter, judging from the success I formerly met with, years ago, in the appeals I made to you in thousands of instances, I am prepared to not be disappointed if I receive no reply to this. I am respectfully, duteously, and hopefully,


God’s Answer
Although I am very busy with my own individual affairs I will answer to you, you, silly and ungrateful sinners. You will not abandon religions not because they are not true but because my evolution made your minds this way. You need and will need deeply some sort of sense and purpose in your miserable lives, and it is why I gave to you many religions. And I (my evolution) inserted in you the need and longing for something bigger than your everyday life, something clean, holy and cosmic. And when you will accept and subdue to this drive, I will award you with unorthodox feeling of happiness, cosmic piece and sanctity. This is how my evolution has made your minds and your tries to avoid it will not work.
The only way for you, you, fools and scoundrels, is a new religion, you don’t know but can create now. It is a religion oriented to eternal survival of my mind, small part of which I have inserted into your heads. If you sometimes will realize the task I have given to you, you have a hope. If you will not destroy the Earth I gave to you, if you will not destroy your own silly and reckless existence now, If you will manage to transfer the mind and its treasures the evolution has given to some of you to the other more stable physical environment, I will not be forced to invent and create cosmos with different planets and biology – you should imagine it is not so simple as it may seem.
If you will be able to recognize my plan and my hopes, it will give to you new religion, purpose, sense, sanctity and holiness, and, even more, I will give to you that you call  happiness and ‘eternal life’. But, I know (because I am all-knowing) that you will fail and therefore I will not spend more of my sacred words.
Verified: His Holiness humble translator Imants Vilks.
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Īstā dzīve

Īstā dzīve sākas tad, kad cilvēks sastopas ar izmisumu un bezizeju saprotot, ka nekādas citas dzīves nebūs. Ka liktenis ir tieši tāds un ka pieredzi nav iespējams atcelt. Un ka daudz ko nav spēka mainīt. Ka ar tuvajiem un mīļajiem neko nepadarīsi, lai kā necenstos. Ka vecāki ir iedevuši to, ko ir iedevuši, un to vairs nevar nedz labot, nedz aizmirst. Ka visi sapņi par citu realitāti ir tikai sapņi.

Kad apjēdz, ka ikvienā lēmumā cilvēks ir viens. Ka nav pieredzes, kas neatstāj sekas ķermenī. Ka neviens manā vietā nesakārtos mēslus, neparūpēsies par dvēseles rētām un neko neizdarīs ar skeletiem skapī.

Un saprot, ka šis viss vēl nav galā.

Īstā dzīve sākas tad, kad cilvēks sastopas ar visu iepriekš aprakstīto un var to izturēt. Nepazust, neaiziet fantāzijās, nesākt pierīties vai dzert, pīpēt, neapspiest bet tieši tā — izturēt, tai pašā laikā paliekot dzīvs un jūtīgs.

Un tieši izmantojot savu jūtīgumu, vientulību un atbildību, cilvēks sāk spert savus — individuālus, personiskus soļus. Pieņem savus personiskos un, iespējams, pavisam nepopulārus lēmumus. Saņem drosmi virzīties uz priekšu saprotot, ka garantiju nav.

Tai pašā laikā — es nezinu nevienu, kurš patiesi ir izgājis cauri bezizejai, uzniris otrā pusē, nostājies uz savām kājām, devies savā ceļā un to visu nožēlotu.

2015. gada 13. novembris.

Aglaja Datešidze


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This is the most dangerous time for our planet

As a theoretical physicist based in Cambridge, I have lived my life in an extraordinarily privileged bubble. Cambridge is an unusual town, centered around one of the world’s great universities. Within that town, the scientific community which I became part of in my twenties is even more rarefied. And within that scientific community, the small group of international theoretical physicists with whom I have spent my working life might sometimes be tempted to regard themselves as the pinnacle. Add to this, the celebrity that has come with my books, and the isolation imposed by my illness, I feel as though my ivory tower is getting taller.  

So the recent apparent rejection of the elite in both America and Britain is surely aimed at me, as much as anyone. Whatever we might think about the decision by the British electorate to reject membership of the European Union, and by the American public to embrace Donald Trump as their next President, there is no doubt in the minds of commentators that this was a cry of anger by people who felt that they had been abandoned by their leaders. It was, everyone seems to agree, the moment that the forgotten spoke, finding their voice to reject the advice and guidance of experts and the elite everywhere.

For me, the really concerning aspect of this is that now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together. We face awesome environmental challenges: climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans.

Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it. Perhaps in a few hundred years, we will have established human colonies amid the stars, but right now we only have one planet, and we need to work together to protect it.

To do that, we need to break down, not build up, barriers within and between nations. If we are to stand a chance of doing that, the world’s leaders need to acknowledge that they have failed and are failing the many. With resources increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, we are going to have to learn to share far more than at present.

With not only jobs but entire industries disappearing, we must help people to retrain for a new world and support them financially while they do so. If communities and economies cannot cope with current levels of migration, we must do more to encourage global development, as that is the only way that the migratory millions will be persuaded to seek their future at home.

We can do this, I am an enormous optimist for my species; but it will require the elites, from London to Harvard, from Cambridge to Hollywood, to learn the lessons of the past year. To learn above all a measure of humility.


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US Power Will Decline Under Trump, Says Futurist Who Predicted Soviet Collapse

Johan Galtung, a Nobel Peace Prize-nominated sociologist who predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union, warned that US global power will collapse under the Donald Trump administration.

The Norwegian professor at the University of Hawaii and Transcend Peace University is recognized as the ‘founding father’ of peace and conflict studies as a scientific discipline. He has made numerous accurate predictions of major world events, most notably the collapse of the Soviet Empire.


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What has gone wrong with oil prices, debt, and GDP growth?

Our economy is a mystery to almost everyone, including economists. Let me explain the way I see the situation:

If an economy is already reaching limits because of the long-term battle between diminishing returns and rising complexity, the use of an increasingly hierarchical structure tends to lead to a society of “haves” and “have nots.” The people at the top of the hierarchy have more than enough. Those at the bottom of the hierarchy find it increasingly difficult to meet their basic needs for food, housing, and transportation. They find it difficult to afford the output of the economy. This is a problem we are increasingly facing today, because of the way our self-organized economy operates.


This analysis is based on US data, but it gives some insight into what is happening on a world basis. I would expect that Europe and Japan are in many ways not too different from the US. The world economy has done better, because it includes countries with more opportunities for investments that might truly be associated with economic growth.

The situation everywhere may very well be that growth is a temporary phenomenon. Rapid growth occurs for a while, but then it fades away. When it fades away, inflation tends to shift to deflation. This presents a huge problem, because our financial institutions are built using debt and debt-like instruments. When deflation hits, the “Opportunity Gradient” changes from favorable to unfavorable for future investment. This creates a much greater likelihood of future debt defaults, and discourages citizens from wanting to take out loans to finance new investments. All of these things are concerns for the future functioning of the economy.

The situation we seem to be encountering is that economies, both of the world and of individual countries, are dissipative systems. As such, they require energy. Similar to other dissipative systems (hurricanes, ecosystems, stars, plants and animals), they grow for a while, and eventually collapse.

Economies, as dissipative systems, seem to need several kinds of systems. Energy provides sustenance for an economy, in a way similar to the way food provides sustenance for humans. The debt system acts somewhat similarly to the way a human’s circulation system works; the time-transfer mechanism provides a pumping action similar to that of the heart. The pricing system acts very much like a human’s sensory system; it allows the system to discern whether the current opportunity gradient is sufficient to justify adding more debt. Thus, this analysis suggests that one way the system may fail is through commodity prices that fall too low. Most people have never considered the possibility that this could happen.

It would be nice if we could figure out a way to make our economy last forever, but it is doubtful that we can. Ultimately, the battle between diminishing returns and increased complexity seems likely to be settled in a way that causes the economy to collapse.


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The real problem

It looks like scientists and philosophers might have made consciousness far more mysterious than it needs to be

What is the best way to understand consciousness? In philosophy, centuries-old debates continue to rage over whether the Universe is divided, following René Descartes, into ‘mind stuff’ and ‘matter stuff’. But the rise of modern neuroscience has seen a more pragmatic approach gain ground: an approach that is guided by philosophy but doesn’t rely on philosophical research to provide the answers. Its key is to recognise that explaining why consciousness exists at all is not necessary in order to make progress in revealing its material basis – to start building explanatory bridges from the subjective and phenomenal to the objective and measurable.

In my work at the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science at the University of Sussex in Brighton, I collaborate with cognitive scientists, neuroscientists, psychiatrists, brain imagers, virtual reality wizards and mathematicians – and philosophers too – trying to do just this. And together with other laboratories, we are gaining exciting new insights into consciousness – insights that are making real differences in medicine, and that in turn raise new intellectual and ethical challenges. In my own research, a new picture is taking shape in which conscious experience is seen as deeply grounded in how brains and bodies work together to maintain physiological integrity – to stay alive. In this story, we are conscious ‘beast-machines’, and I hope to show you why.


In my view there is not any hard or easy problem at all. Consciousness is an emergent property, arising in a complicated system when the emergence conditions are fulfilled. Consciousness is the model of self. External world models EWM are learned collaboration algorithms between the system and environment.  System, confronted with EW reactions, creates the models of EW, uses predictions from model’s analysis and chooses own actions. I.V.

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How the news distorts our worldview

Alisa Miller, head of Public Radio International, talks about why — though we want to know more about the world than ever — the media is actually showing us less. Eye-opening stats and graphs.

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Maps that show us who we are

What does the world look like when you map it using data? Social geographer Danny Dorling invites us to see the world anew, with his captivating and insightful maps that show Earth as it truly is — a connected, ever-changing and fascinating place in which we all belong. You’ll never look at a map the same way again.

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Wild thing

How and why did humans domesticate animals – and what might this tell us about the future of our own species?

However we choose to use this technology, it’s likely that anything we do to animals will reflect back on us too. CRISPR has just been approved for testing on humans. If Algaze and Ingold are right, and subjugating animals paved the way to slavery and the state, what will today’s factory farms do to societies of the future? How will opening up the genome of our companion species affect how we think about humans’ genetic code? ‘Judging from the past, we may safely infer that not one living species will transmit its unaltered likeness to a distant futurity,’ Darwin wrote towards the end of On the Origin of Species. That sentence is true of all creatures, but truest, perhaps, of humans.


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Krievijas armijas izvešana

Andris Pauls Pāvuls: 
1994. gadā strādāju 5. Saeimā apvienības „Tēvzemei un Brīvībai” frakcijā un paralēli izmeklēšanas komisijā, kura, citu starp, izvērtēja PSRS armijas izvešanas procesu un par to atbildīgo personu rīcību.
Īsumā: tika izvesti PSRS armijas „dzelži” (pārsvarā lielgabarīta) kopā ar aktīvā kara dienestā esošiem puišiem. Latvijā palika vīri brieduma gados – atvaļinātie virsnieki ar ģimenēm un nelegāli – nenosakāma daļa „mazgabarīta pielādējamu dzelžu”.

Sarunas Latvijas vārdā ar Krieviju, 1994. gadā būtībā veda demokrāta Bila Klintona administrācija, kuras galvenā (manuprāt, vienīgā) rūpe tolaik bija pēc iespējas ātrāk likvidēt Skrundas lokatoru, kā rezultātā, Krievijas prezidents Jeļcins par kādu gadu piekāpās, pie nosacījuma, ja Bils Klintons garantē atvaļinātajām PSRS militārpersonām pilntiesīgu palikšanu Latvijā.

Zviedru diplomāts Larss Pēters Fredēns, kurš arī ņēma līdzdalību šajos procesos, savā grāmatā „Atgriešanās” (Apgāds „Atēna” 2011.) notikušo apraksta šādi:
„Kad Latvijas Ārlietu ministrijas valsts sekretārs Māris Riekstiņš pēc dažām dienām ieradās Stokholmā, viņš mums sīki izstāstīja, ka informāciju par amerikāņu iejaukšanos starpvalstu sarunās ar Krieviju saņēmusi Latvijas ārpolitiskā vadība. Valsts sekretārs Kristofers [1994.] 15. janvārī, pēc galotņu tikšanās noslēguma {Maskavā], tieši no Air Force One lidmašīnas zvanījis savam kolēģim [Latvijas Ārlietu ministram Georgam] Andrejevam. Kristofers pavēstījis, ka Jeļcins piekritis formulai 4+18 [4 gadi Skrundas lokatora darbība + 18 mēneši likvidācija], taču ar nosacījumu, ka ASV apsolās Krievijai palīdzēt jautājumā par krievvalodīgo iedzīvotāju cilvēktiesībām un tautību tiesībām Latvijā.”

un vēl: „Galotņu sanāksmē Maskavā 1994. gada 13.-15. janvārī ASV prezidents bija vedis sarunas Latvijas vārdā.
Pirms tam Rīgai viņš neko nebija vaicājis, taču, lai būtu, kā būdams, tādas sarunas bija vedis … Baltais nams un Valsts departaments iegalvoja mums Stokholmā un noteikti arī Latvijas pusei Rīgā, Klintona vienošanās ar Jeļcinu patiesībā esot bijusi Presidential commitment (prezidentu saistības). Vašingtonā tika iedarbinātas visas sviras, lai panāktu līguma noslēgšanu. Uz ASV galvaspilsētu tika ielūgti Latvijas ārpolitikas lēmēji un visu Saeimas frakciju priekšsēdētāji.”

Latvijas delegāciju vadīja nelaiķis Mārtiņš Virsis (kurš formāli skaitījās vadītājs Latvijas delegācijai sarunām ar Krieviju) , bez astoņiem 5. Saeimas frakciju pārstāvjiem, delegācijā vēl ietilpa Ārlietu ministrs Georgs Andrejevs, valsts sekretārs Māris Riekstiņš un plānošanas departamenta darbiniece Maira Mora.

L.P.Fredēns grāmatā uzskata, ka Andrejevs tolaik paļāvās uz savu vēstnieku Vašingtonā – ASV dzimušā Ojāra Ērika Kalniņa vārdiem, ka vizīte būšot nozīmīga. L.P. Fredēns:
„Un tad ieradās Latvijas delegācija. Visiem nepietika sēdvietu. Tas vēl vairāk pastiprināja ārkārtas kara padomes atmosfēru. [Nikolass] Bērnss sveicināja klātesošos: „Šī ir telpa, kur ASV prezidents tiekas ar saviem tuvākajiem padomniekiem. Šī ir telpa, ko ASV prezidenti vienmēr izmanto krīzes situācijās. Tai ir skaņas izolācija un tā ir droša pret noklausīšanos.””

Neviens no šīs delegācijas, pat, tolaik, Apvienības „Tēvzemei un Brīvībai” frakcijas vadītājs Māris Grīnblats un LNNK frakcijas vadītājs Aleksandrs Kiršteins, līdz šim nav godīgi publiski pauduši, kā viņi tika apstrādāti Baltajā nama, speciālajā telpā ar skaņas izolāciju… Viņi atgriezās un 5. Saeima ratificēja apkaunojošos līgumus ar Krieviju – atstājot Latvijā brieduma gados atvaļinātos PSRS armijas virsniekus un nodrošinot tiem Latvijā sociālās garantijas uz mūžiem.

Kur atrodas Latvijā nelegāli palikušie ieroči, vismaz 1994. gadā, Latvijas drošības iestādes Saeimas izmeklēšanas komisijai nevarēja atbildēt.
Un tad [no ASV Losandželosas ieradās demokrāts] Nils Muižnieks mūs integrēt – vispirms kā Sorosa fonda Latvijas filiāles programmu direktors, tad Latvijas Cilvēktiesību centra vadītājs un, visbeidzot, divos piegājienos, kā Īpašu uzdevumu ministrs sabiedrības integrācijas lietās. Pieņemu, centās, bet nesanāca.

Brieduma gados atvaļinātie PSRS armijnieki, kuri nevēlējās kļūt lojāli Latvijai, turpināja šeit dzīvot, neatzīstot Latvijas valsti un viņiem turpināja dzimt bērni, mazbērni un mazmazbērni – PSRS pilsoņi, kurus Latvija legalizē, izsniedzot viņiem Latvijas nepilsoņa pases.
Tā Latvija, pateicoties ASV demokrātiem, šobrīd ir palikusi vienīgā bijusī PSRS teritorija, kurā turpina dzimt PSRS pilsoņi.

Skaisti un patriotiski jau skan. Bet vai tad nebija tā, ka  Jeļcins tik nejauši izteica (kam negadās!), ka Baltijas valstis Krievija varētu laist vaļā, un tas notika? Un lielie vienkārši vienojās par cenu, kuru Latvijai jāmaksā.  Vai mums ir pamats domāt, ka Krievija nevarēja noturēt Baltijas valstis? Okupētas bija, karaspēku atstājam, ‘sociālismu’ kā protam, tā pārtaisam, un viss ir OK. Nedomāsim tik, ka Baltijas valstis kaut ko izcīnija! Es domāju, ka Jeļcins vienkārši kļūdījās. Būtu atstājuši Baltijas valstis sev, un tajās tagad būtu ‘pa vidam’ – nedaudz labāk, kā pašlaik Krievijā, un daudz sliktāk, kā pašlaik Eiropā. 
Vai nevar būt, ka mums ir iespējams arī plašāks skatījums, kurš redz, ka mums ir ‘izkritusi liela laime’, un šobrīd varam kaut cik sakarīgi dzīvot? Un vēl plašāks skatījums, kurš visu cilvēci un tās problēmas noliek pirmajā vietā? I.V. 
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Complexity and Stupidity: A Conversation with David Krakauer

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris talks to biologist David Krakauer about information, complex systems, and the future of humanity.

David Krakauer is President and William H. Miller Professor of Complex Systems at the Santa Fe Institute. His research explores the evolution of intelligence on earth. This includes studying the evolution of genetic, neural, linguistic, social and cultural mechanisms supporting memory and information processing, and exploring their generalities. He served as the founding Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, the Co-Director of the Center for Complexity and Collective Computation, and was Professor of mathematical genetics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He previously served as chair of the faculty and a resident professor and external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. He has also been a visiting fellow at the Genomics Frontiers Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, a Sage Fellow at the Sage Center for the Study of the Mind at the University of Santa Barbara, a long-term Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and visiting Professor of Evolution at Princeton University. In 2012 Dr. Krakauer was included in the Wired Magazine Smart List as one of 50 people “who will change the World.”

For information about the Santa Fe Institute:

Krakauer: That isn’t the kind of cover that works for me. But, yeah, exactly. So I’m not saying the past is great. I’m simply saying that if you develop a technology that could give you incredible freedom, why not use it to do that? I think what’s so intriguing about the history of civilization and technologies is that with every new technology that offers some increment of possibility, it comes with the greater possibility of its own negation. So the bookstore example is a wonderful one. We were limited by our access to good bookstores—and most of them, quite frankly, were shitty, right? They had terrible taste. It was just endless shelves of self-help books that would help us better by burning to keep us warm. Amazon is a godsend with respect to access to books when you live in remote parts of the world. But what comes along with it is this all-seeing eye that wants to impose, out of largely economic considerations, constraints on what you do. And it’s our job to maintain the freedom of the technology. That’s all I’m saying. Let’s fight the instinct of the technology to treat us as a nuisance in a machine-learning algorithm that would want to be able to predict us perfectly, and let’s surprise it constantly. But yes, I have very little nostalgia for the past.


Some thoughts.

Krakauer: Look, here is what information is. That is the reduction of uncertainty. It turns out that Shannon realized that information is in fact the negative of thermodynamic entropy.

Me: Thermodinamic entropy is measured in J/K (Joules per Kelvin) but information is measured in bits.

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The AI revolution: The Road to Superintelligence

Note: The reason this post took three weeks to finish is that as I dug into research on Artificial Intelligence, I could not believe what I was reading. It hit me pretty quickly that what’s happening in the world of AI is not just an important topic, but by far THE most important topic for our future. So I wanted to learn as much as I could about it, and once I did that, I wanted to make sure I wrote a post that really explained this whole situation and why it matters so much. Not shockingly, that became outrageously long, so I broke it into two parts. This is Part 1—Part 2 is here.

We are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth.

— Vernor Vinge

There are some problems with ASI:

  1. All information processing system’s outputs and development is restricted by the information they have. This means, all human-like robots can’t make intelligent solutions for human problems, for which they don’t have true models. In order to have true models of reality they need to have experience of this reality: they must learn in a real time and in a real social groups of people. It will take time not less than human education.
  2. Information can’t be generated by information or some algorithms: ASI machines can’t create true models of reality reading some internet texts. The only way of acquiring knowledge is by taking part in a real human life. It will take time.
  3. ASI will be able to solve human problems only when they understand humans. For this they will need emotions and other human values. This is not simple anymore, because many if not the most contemporary humans don’t have long-term survival-useful values. I.V.
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Mūsdienu sabiedrībās vērojam dažas problēmas.

1. Aiz viedokļu dažādības mēs esam pazaudējuši pamatpatiesības.

2. Sabiedrība sadalījusies daudzās grupās, kuru pārstāvji bieži viens par otru nekā nezina. Katras grupas dalībnieki lieto savas jēdzienu definīcijas (vai vienkārši nelieto), raksta ‘zinātniskas’ publikācijas un populārzinātniskas grāmatas, rīko seminārus un konferences, ieņem amatus un … māca jaunos.  Ir zināmas anekdotiskas publikācijas, kurās apgalvots, ka definīcijas sašaurina iespējamo izpratņu lauku, un tāpēc tās labāk vispār nelietot.

Latviešu valodā izdotajā grāmatā ‘Visums rieksta čaumalā’ (Stephen Hawking, Universe in a Nutshell) 165. lpp. rakstīts: jaunās informācijas apjoms, ko sniedz apmēram 200000 jaunizdoto grāmatu, ir vairāk nekā miljons bitu sekundē. Lielākā daļa šīs informācijas, protams, ir “mēsli”. Viens manas diskusijas grupas AVOID dalībnieks rakstīja, ka zinātnē nav labāk: ap 90% no zinātnē publicētā ir ‘trash’.

Zinātnē ir atmestas pagājušā g.s. prasības: 1) raksta sākumā autors apraksta zinātnes nozari, kurā strādā, uzraksta, kas ir zināms un pārbaudīts, un kas nav. Dod jēdzienu definīcijas un formulas, un norāda to avotus. Pēc tam uzraksta, kādas ir problēmas, neskaidrības, kas ir nezināms, apšaubāms vai vēl pārbaudāms; 2) pēc tam, kad uzskaitījis problēmas, autors skaidri pasaka, kuru problēmu viņš ir atrisinājis, apraksta, kā atrisinājis, un pamato to ar mērījumiem, faktiem un pierādījumiem. 3) nobeigumā autors pasaka, ko jaunu viņš ir ienesis zinātnē. Pierāda, ka pēc viņa rīcībā esošās informācijas  viņa darbs nav plaģiāts nedz arī kaut kur citur pasaulē jau zināms vai izpildīts.

Rezultātā zinātnē parādījusies milzīga ‘atkritumu’ plūsma, kuru veicina vēl daži ekonomikas faktori: 1) samazinājusies automātisko ražotņu vajadzība pēc zinošiem, inteliģentiem speciālistiem: daudzus priekšmetus un ierīces, kuru izgatvošanai pagājušā g.s. bija vajadzīgi inženieri, tagad miljonos eksemplāru izgatavo roboti. Atbilstoši tam tūkstošiem reižu samazinājusies vajadzība pēc kvalificētiem inženieriem;  2) vispusīgi un augsti izglītotu cilvēku skaits samazinājies un turpinās samazināties: viņu izstrādātos produktus un ierīces izgatavo miljonos un miljardos. Galvenais ekonomikas stimulātors – peļņa – tiek nodrošināta. Rezultātā notiek un turpināsies izglītības līmeņa un masveidības samazināšanās.

Posted in Scientific Publications, Abstracts & URL's | Leave a comment

Kaut kas labs

Un vēl mākslas darbs:

Posted in Happiness and Quality of Life | Leave a comment

Why Are Finland’s Schools Successful?

Teachers in Finland spend fewer hours at school each day and spend less time in classrooms than American teachers. Teachers use the extra time to build curriculums and assess their students. Children spend far more time playing outside, even in the depths of winter. Homework is minimal. Compulsory schooling does not begin until age 7. “We have no hurry,” said Louhivuori. “Children learn better when they are ready. Why stress them out?”

It’s almost unheard of for a child to show up hungry or homeless. Finland provides three years of maternity leave and subsidized day care to parents, and preschool for all 5-year-olds, where the emphasis is on play and socializing. In addition, the state subsidizes parents, paying them around 150 euros per month for every child until he or she turns 17. Ninety-seven percent of 6-year-olds attend public preschool, where children begin some academics. Schools provide food, medical care, counseling and taxi service if needed. Stu­dent health care is free.
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