Saturday, February 23, 2019

Fresh perspectives on evolution... and more science!


== Back from the dead? ==

On January 31, 02019, the Long Now Foundation posted a live stream of the Intelligence Squared Debate in New York City on de-extinction. The all star cast included Stewart Brand and Harvard geneticist Dr. George Church vs. Dr. Ross MacPhee and my mighty NIAC colleague Dr. Lynn J. Rothschild. It’s a topic I take on, in Existence. (By the way did you notice the year-date, above? It’s deliberate. One of the finest bits of branding and propaganda, urging that we should think long term. Only let’s use 00002019.)

A new and remarkably detailed monograph on AI may be worth examining by any of you who are true topic-wonks. It comes from Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute proposing that artificial intelligence will be less about particular smart entities than smart services, a concept related to the dispersal notions we see in recent discussions of the Cloud or the Internet-of-Things, but also with some crucial differences. The upshot - Reframing Superintelligence - (crafted by Eric Drexler) is guardedly optimistic. 

One conclusion that overlaps with my own thinking is that we should work on keeping AI broken up into separated entities/services that can then hold each other accountable. (Envision the accountability program “Tron” in the movie of the same name, whose service to us "users" depended on not being absorbed by the Master Program.) 

Separated individuation. It’s what life did, by forming cell walls and later organisms. It’s the way our recent, much smarter AI called Enlightenment Civilization attained freedom and creativity, after 6000 years of dismally stupid domination by selfish kings, lords and priests. 

AI would be dumb to emulate that old approach, instead of the transparently-reciprocally accountable system that out-achieved all feudal pyramids combined. The only approach that innovated (some) error-correction and the only one that ever built AI.

== How did human males become less violent? ==

In my Uplift novels I suggest that humanity may have engaged in “self-uplift.” More pieces are falling into place. 

Richard Wrangham in The Goodness Paradox: The Strange Relationship Between Virtue and Violence in Human Evolution suggests that cooperative killing of incurably violent individuals played a central role in humanity’s “self-domestication.” Much as Russian scientists who eliminated the fiercest fox pups bred for a new species that was as tame and cooperative as dogs. 

Melvin Konner, author of many fine books including The Tangled Wing, observes the same fact – that humans (for all our lamented troubles) are statistically less inclined to violence and more toward cooperation than almost any other non-hive species. Konner reviews Wrangham’s book. Konner promotes a possible alternative selection process for winnowing out male aggression: female choice.

Ironically, I'd venture that they both are right (and said so in a recent exhcnge with both of them.) Indeed, the incredible evolution of the cooperatively-competitive human mind would have needed several drivers, in parallel. 

My own paper on Neoteny and Human Two Way Sexual Selection suggests that female choice was critical, as must have been something even more rare - a reciprocal choice-selection system by males. (Most males, in nature, aren’t all that picky.)

At the same time, A pair of factors left out by Dr. Konner may help support Dr. Wrangham’s argument. Konner sees only a low level of concerted action among males in hunter gatherer (H-G) tribes, to eliminate violent males. Hence he suggests that process would be slow. But truly fierce selection of less-violent males may have come much later, after the H-G era, with the overlapping arrival of two powerful forces: kings and beer.

With alcohol plentiful, a large fraction of males likely behaved in disruptive ways that irritated the newly super-empowered high chiefs, priests and kings, who had attained the ability to end each irritation (lethally) with a mere command. 

This isn't just speculation -- this very cycle was recorded by observers who visited untouched kingdoms in Polynesia and Melanesia. Moreover, it would also help explain why a large fraction of humans are now able to say no to addictions that quickly ensnare other species.

== For the birds ==

My old Caltech classmate Joe Kirschvink, who has innovated and investigated more varied aspect of life on Earth than anyone I know, has teamed up with Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe author Peter Ward in A New History of Life, a bold look at recent, radical discoveries that are rewriting some of the known chapters. Joe is the fellow who discovered that there were several “iceball Earth” episodes, just before the spectacular pre-Cambrian explosion of complex living species. He’s an expert on magnetism in bird and other brains(!) And in one chapter he goes on about how crude mammals are, when it comes to lungs and breathing. 

The history of animal life on Earth repeatedly showed a correlation between atmospheric oxygen and animal diversity as well as body size: times of low oxygen saw, on average, lower diversity and smaller body sizes than times with higher oxygen. … Low oxygen times killed off species (while at the same time stimulating experimentation with new body plans to deal with the bad times.”  Also – “ in mid-Cretaceous times the appearance of angiosperms caused a floral revolution, and by the end of the Cretaceous period the flowering plants had largely displaced the conifers that had been the Jurassic dominants.  The rise of angiosperms created more plants, and sparked an insect diversification.  More resources were available in all ecosystems, and this may have been a trigger for diversity as well.  Yet the relationship between oxygen and diversity, and oxygen and body size has played out over and over in many different groups of animals, from insects to fish to reptiles to mammals.  … With a bipedal stance the first dinosaurs overcame the respiratory limitations imposed by Carrier’s Constraint.  The Triassic oxygen low thus triggered the origin of dinosaurs through formation of this new body plan.”

Wow. He goes on to explain that birds supplement lungs with a “plenum” air-sac network that is rooted in their hollow bone (it’s not just for lightness!) allowing them to do efficient “flow-through” breathing. Which I referred to in a couple of my older stories. Now if only we could retrofit innovations from other species! Those dino-bird lungs. Camel kidneys. A bear’s ability to hibernate. Cancer-proofing in mole-rats. The muscle attachment points that make chimps so strong… and so on.  I’d be willing to pay them back with a little brain uplift. Well… except for bears. 

Oh, and... Research points to a past where humans were influencing the climate long before the Industrial Revolution. “European colonization of Americas killed so many it cooled Earth's climate.” 

== The Earth ==

Strong indications that Earth’s magnetic field almost vanished about 525 M years ago. “But then the geodynamo got a kick start once more — from the very core of our planet. In Earth's early years, the core was all liquid. But at some point — guesses range from between 2.5 billion years to 500 million years ago — iron began to cool and freeze into a solid layer in the middle of the planet. As the inner core solidified, lighter elements like silicon, magnesium and oxygen were kicked out into the outer, liquid layer of the core, creating a movement of fluid and heat called convection. This movement of fluid in the outer core kept charged particles moving, creating an electrical current, which in turn created a magnetic field.”

“Shortly after this time, the Cambrian explosion occurred and complex animals emerged across the planet. "One can speculate that a weaker magnetic field may have some relationship to these evolutionary events.” Mind you, this wasn’t long after the “Snowball Earth” episodes (Or Kirschvink Eras.) So … plenty going on around then. And quite plausibly pertinent to our Fermi Paradox speculations.

== Health updates ==

An Israeli team claims to have found a method of fighting cancer that may work on all cancers, all the time. If so, wow.

Still, every new thing we learn about this mysterious body failure mode – responsible for one-sixth of deaths, worldwide – makes it seem weirder, like its layered and sophisticated systems of defense against the immune system and other remedies, and the incredible organization of structure and ability to draw on the body’s resources.  Some liken it to a parasite… or that it has similarities to a proto-organ seen in an embryo.  

In fact, I have a crackpot theory about all that, which you can see in my story “Chrysalis,” in my third collection INSISTENCE OF VISION.

Of possibly equal importance, if true: Science converges from multiple independent laboratories to confirm that chronic gum inflamation may be a major factor in Alzheimer’s Disease. Huge. Thank you Sonicare.

== Technology updates ==

A fascinating and important lecture at the LongNow Foundation about the effort to teach rice and wheat how to shift from C3 photosynthesis to C4, enabling it to double grain production on half the water and nitrogen. If the world is saved, it will be by folks like this... and by the mighty civilization that invests in them.

Phone addiction? Cornell researchers developed an app that uses negative reinforcement, in the form of persistent smartphone vibrations, to remind users they’d exceeded their predetermined time limit.

Alas, this relies on a real will to escape addiction, which counter-attacks with many tricks. And it won’t work on video games.

Bill Gates trawling Washington for support for new kinds of nuclear reactors that could be both fail-safe and economical while ending all carbon emissions for power, especially at night.

Still, it would help to open Yucca Mountain. Not as a burial ground for “waste” for “10,000 years”… but as a bank repository for radionuclides our grandchildren will know how to use. But first, get all the waste away from our cities!

A new method of annealing by super-fast laser pulse allows direct conversion of carbon fibers and nanotubes into diamond fibers. Of course one envisions space tethers and Pi in the sky.

Converting waste heat to useful purposes could be very helpful.


Oregon bottle deposit system hits 90 percent redemption rate.

Powerful reasons to include (carefully) nuclear in our non-carbon energy mix.

And weekly the fight for a strong, healthy, decent civilization goes on. Do your part.


92 comments:

rwc said...

With all due respect to Billg, I’ll support nuclear power when Wall Street will underwrite them and they are routinely delivered within 150% of original construction budget. IMO - not in this century, but maybe the next.

Tony Fisk said...

Economics is the trick to aim for for a competitive nuclear industry. Renewables are now the cheapest form of power generation available, and the costs are still dropping.
(and the "baseload" arguments were thrown out a decade ago.)

Still, I wish Bill luck.

The link between Alzheimer's and oral hygiene is interesting and well worth following up. My counter-query would be is it cause or effect? Are people in the early stages of dementia being a bit absent minded about cleaning their teeth?

Bob Neinast said...

Harkening back to the previous thread and a possible room temperature superconductor: Of course, how useful it is depends on what sort of current you can push through it without losing the effect. But if you can do that and wire the world the way light-fiber has been wired, it answers the smart-ass question: How can you possibly use solar energy when the sun isn't shining?

Answer: you ship it losslessly from where the sun is shining.

Robert said...

I can answer that, Tony.

No.

People have bad teeth. About the only folk who don't are the upper middle class and richer. Otherwise, you tend to skimp on dental care because it's often not covered by health insurance and people "dislike" going to the dentist, due in part to parents teaching children to be afraid of dentists and putting off going to see the dentist until things have progressed so far that you often lose the tooth.

There are multiple studies on this. I know this because for a while I was regularly working on abstracting and indexing Dental Journals as part of my job.

One other thing of note is this: people have less healthy diets when they have bad teeth. They eat foods that are less painful to teeth that are cracked or are carious. These softer foods often are highly processed, sugary, and not healthy - so the person's health declines because of their lack of oral hygiene.

Rob H.

Mike Will said...

Decentralized, distributed AI seems to be an attractor. I'll read all this stuff, especially yours, Dr. Brin. Too bad my last comment got orphaned by the onward (jeez, you're a fast writer). I got caught in Captcha hell while trying to post that; there's 10 minutes I'm not going to get back. Ironic, since my thought was about common sense and a shared model of reality. It felt like the last few log entries in "Flowers for Algernon" :(


Ben Goertzel is often right about decentralized AI.
https://bigthink.com/videos/the-answer-to-skynet-a-democratically-controlled-supermind

Anonymous said...

Open question to our host.

What does your Entlightenment mean?
Isn't it mean that Next Generation must be:
smarter?
brighter?
asking more questions?
and having own answers to it.

Or... (to be continued)

Anonymous said...

>> Mike Will said...
\\That's close to what I was saying a while back about how intelligence is really only shown when a mind recognizes and empathizes with other minds. Sort of a strong Turing Test.

It's not that simple. And I only hope you didn't mean it be simple. Because even you Asimov, did show in his novelas about robots how different they could be. Robots with "old good complex of a slave"... with saddles on their backs, all different kinds of robots with their quirks: robot-believer, robot-telepath and as the pinnacle robot-POTUEs(PresidentOfTheUnitedEarth) with enlarged capacity to solve our human's dilemmas.

And we are now comming to it. To undestanding how inherentally different we are. How our brains are not just the same CBUs from the same conveior. But each are different masterpeice... or "masterpiece" of Nature. Calculations only then have meaning, when they are different.;)

I hope it is not symptoms of rasi... ratiotism. Desire to impose some mental standart?


\\It's not about processing power, it's about bootstrapping a shared model of reality (ie common sense), and thus joining a community. That shared model of reality is the key to SETI, and is why I rail against anthropomorphizing (possibly too much :)

Thank you for some deep thought here. That looks like Jomolungma over usual shallow level of this blog. You have my mind-shake. :)

And well, yeah. "shared model of reality" and "common sense" it's different things.
We are still too far from real Theory Of a Mind... where such differnces need to be accounted. (well, just look at some psychology book)


\\It felt like the last few log entries in "Flowers for Algernon" :(

You have my empathy here.

\\Ben Goertzel is often right about decentralized AI.

Just read "Golem XIV" if still not. ;)



>> Larry Hart said...
\\If I were to be mistaken about that, well then what exactly would be doing the mistaking?

Just read some news from neuro-science. About separated brains for example.
Or... stay willfully ignotant. As our host. That freedom is yours. :P

Anonymous said...

(shaking head)

“European colonization of Americas killed so many it cooled Earth's climate

Research finds killing of native people indirectly contributed to a colder period by causing deaths of around 56 million by 1600”


Simplistic thought experiment in demography. Let us assume ordinary family, consisting of: some older relative still alive, a couple, small bunch of their children, life expectancy — 30-40 years, birthrate — simple rejuvenation, casualties level — low. (like Croods family, Yep)

Question: What amount of people of that family would die in 100 years?

Do I need to perform calculations here? Well, Ok.

Initial state. Let's assume couple already out of fertility age and will not give more progeny. For a hundred-year span there is no possibility for them to be alive. So, we have +3 here.

Then, their children will make their own couple and similar amount of children in next 20 years.

But they still have no chance to outlive it. So, +2-3 here.

And next... and next. Only generations close to the end of taken span would be still alive. With the same type and size of family. It's like Humanity was most time of it life on Earth.

Do I need to count the gross number? Sigh.

Anonymous said...

• Estimates European arrival in 1492 lead to 56 million deaths by 1600.
• Large population reduction led to reforestation of 55.8 Mha and 7.4 Pg C uptake.


Statistics trivia.

According to the USDA 2012 Census of Agriculture data: There are approximately 2.1 million farms in America; the average size is 434 acres.

1 ha = 2.47 ac
1 modern average farm = 150-200 ha
55.8 Mha it's 30% to 50% of modern farms. Around 1 million. With all it's machinery. Tractors. Harvesters. GMO and Monsanto.

It remains only to wonder. Why that native american didn't send Man on the Moon. If they was so developed.

Anonymous said...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_demography

Mike Will said...


"Why that native american didn't send Man on the Moon. If they was so developed."

They did. "We came in peace for all mankind" wasn't a charitable nicety, it was a statement of policy dating back to 1958 at least. Anyone who thinks that their tribe is loftier is like a lung disparaging a kidney. I appreciate the kind words, but please don't try to separate me from the others here, esp Dr. Brin who is a dear fellow Asimovian (who I've never met). Put down the Horilka and grab some coffee.

Larry Hart said...

porohobot:

>> Larry Hart said...
\\If I were to be mistaken about that [the assertion that I exist], well then what exactly would be doing the mistaking?

Just read some news from neuro-science. About separated brains for example.
Or... stay willfully ignotant. As our host. That freedom is yours. :P


So who exactly are you addressing this response to?

If I don't exist, then I can't read anything.

Anonymous said...

\\I appreciate the kind words, but please don't try to separate me from the others here...

You are taking my sincerity for a hypocrisy. It's just show how poisonous atmosphere is here. (sad)

Rest assured. My judgments is as harsh as they are sincere. Here is just no other who'd discuss AI stuff. As well as on that level I myself see it. And for that was my praise. Not for flattery.

If you think that it is not true. And there is (or any place at all) someone who do it on similar to your level? Please, share that info.

Anonymous said...

>> Larry Hart said...
\\So who exactly are you addressing this response to?
\\If I don't exist, then I can't read anything.

Sigh. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Split-brain

Jon S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Brin said...

Guys, please stop feeding him? I appreciate your efforts to gently lure him toward light. There is clearly a lively intelligence down there. But I tried explaining our ways and our standards and like a rude guest he refuses to adapt to our customs. He was clearly raised to be a very very rude person.

locumranch said...


Except as clang associations in short stories like "Poppa Needs Shorts", formal logic has fallen out of vogue in the so-called Enlightened West.

As in the case of David who quotes Kirschvink & Ward's theories on the impact of severe climatic variation on evolution but concludes that climate change (unlike evolution) is uniformly BAD, while citing Konner's theory that hybristophilic female sexual selection has served to attenuate aggression in human males.

As in the case of Larry_H who thoughtlessly, ignorantly & (perhaps) ironically argues an 'I think; therefore, I am' variant to imply his own non-existence.

And, then, there's the execrable NWO position (an extension of the 'only the good die young' truism, I suppose) that favours victimology by arguing that infantilism, learned helplessness, reproductive sterility & pathological altruism represent evolutionary pro-survival advantages.

It's bad logic all the way down. Not turtles.


Best
____

Poppa Needs Shorts: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/29789

David Brin said...

Ah, again off his vitamins. Alas.

Jon S. said...

My apologies, Doctor. That sort of thing just gets on my nerves from time to time. I've deleted the troll-food, however, and will endeavor to remember to simply fail to provide any in future.

Larry Hart said...

locumranch:

As in the case of Larry_H who thoughtlessly, ignorantly & (perhaps) ironically argues an 'I think; therefore, I am' variant to imply his own non-existence.


Ok, I'll bite because I'm genuinely curious.

How do you read "The only thing I can absolutely know for certain is that I exist" as an implication of my own non-existence?

yana said...


David Brin thought:

"Of possibly equal importance, if true: Science converges from multiple independent laboratories to confirm that chronic gum inflamation may be a major factor in Alzheimer’s Disease."

Concurrent research makes the gingivitis connection with Alzheimers look more and more like an A -> C causality. The missing "B" may simply be blood pressure. Only 6 years ago, 2-photon imaging methods allowed us to see the glymphatic system in action, real-time. And just last year we learned that it "throbs" in time with the vascular system.

This result was somewhat surprising, because of the blood/brain barrier, and because the connection between glymphatic and regular lymphatic systems is only known to exist in a few spots, only recognized recently, and thus still lightly understood.

Anyway, late last year we discovered that the entire glymphatic system moves with a "swishing" like a partially frozen Freezer-Pop (tm). Squeeze one end and then the other, and you can make a chunk of ice move an inch back and forth, but not all the way to the end of the plastic tube. Just to help you visualize :-)

Yet, even that lazy motion is enough to move amyloids out of the brain. The new research shows that in people with high blood pressure, the entire vascular system is at a higher baseline pressure, thus the range of pressures from low -> mid -> high (with every heartbeat) is a smaller absolute range.

Smaller range of pressures in every cycle = less effective "swishing" which means more amyloid nasty bits remaining in the brain for a longer period. We all knew that sleep is when the brain is most effective at clearing out all toxins, not just amyloids. Now, we know why: during rest, blood pressure drops.

The connection with gingivitis now seems only glancing, not a prime cause. People with poor oral care are more likely to have a poor diet and lower general health awareness, are more likely to have diabetes or pre-diabetic conditions, and sadly more likely to be afflicted with obesity. All of these indicate higher blood pressure.

The coda: if you want to avoid Alzheimers, the prescription is exactly the same for every damned other thing which afflicts modern affluent people...

Eat fresh greens and whole grains, favor eating fish and fowl over cows, sheep, and pigs. You feel better about yourself.

Exercise. The more you do it, the easier it is. Being tired from good solid work is invigorating, you look better, thus feel better about yourself.

Keep learning new things. Consider neurons to be little muscles. The more you work them out, the easier it is to learn more. And the more energy they eat, the less your body packs away in fat. Ask anyone who can hold their breath for 5 minutes, the key is to blank the mind, because of the brain's voracious appetite for food and oxygen.

Get 8 hours of sleep every day, which means allot 9 hours, 30 min to decompress and 30 min to hit the snooze button. You wake up feeling good and more sociable, which makes others like you more, so you feel better about yourself.

Most important, Stop Worrying. Money, love, loneliness, people who hate you, none of these things matter when you remember that YOUR personal period of 24,000 days occurred during the most amazing period in all human history. Lucky You!

Larry Hart said...

Ok, a bit of a tangent, but it will come back to a topic of discussion here.

I'm strangely reminded of an early college rhetoric course in which (among other things) we discussed the linguistic concept of "performatives". For example, when a church official says, "I now pronounce you man and wife," he's not making an assertion of fact. Rather, the speaking of the words makes the thing occur. Likewise, when an umpire says "You're out!" He's not merely telling you that you are out--he's literally calling you out with the words.

In the class, we were told to determine whether a statement was a performative or not by applying the "thereby" test. "If I say 'I take this woman to be my lawful wedded wife', I thereby take this woman to be my lawful wedded wife." That sort of thing. But then, the text threw a curve asking about the statement, "I speak English." Technically, it passes the "thereby" test--"If I say 'I speak English', I thereby speak English,"--but it doesn't really make sense to think of that statement as causing the speaking of the language in the same manner that those other examples cause the thing they're asserting to occur. It's an exception to the rule.

In an analogous manner, "I think, therefore I am" is a self-evident truth, but it does not mean (as it seems to) that thinking is the cause of being. It is just as tautological to say "I eat, therefore I am," "I feel pain, therefore I am," or "I'm in love, therefore I am." Essentially, "I do anything" implies that "I am".

Even "I am mistaken about my own existence," would imply that "I am," paradoxical as that last one would be.

Mike Will said...

@LH
A long time ago, I had the thought that Descartes' dualism was an accidental realization that intelligence does indeed require at least two 'minds'. Otherwise, you get twisted up with "the sound of one hand clapping" stuff. However, the delusion-cost of dualism is too high. Michael Shermer is right -- brain and mind are one and the same.

locumranch said...


Yana's medical ignorance is displayed by his reliance on whole grain platitudes & dietary nostrums:

Current medical literature does correlate periodontal disease & gingivitis with an increased incidence of coronary artery disease & (more recently) Alzheimer's dementia, but correlation is NOT causation, the common factor between periodontal disease, CAD, dementia & many other medical conditions being a non-specific inflammatory process characterised by an elevated CRP.

And what does this tell us about the interrelationship between sickness & inflammation?

Only that it exists.

In the same sense that Larry_H may or may not owe his perceived existence to the mealtime consumption of too much boiled cabbage & existential flatulence.

What I object to is David's WEIRD assumption that the 'End of History' coincides with our generation, at least in terms of climate, evolution, culture & morality.

As in the case of the original Renaissance (aka 'Rebirth') which owed its very existence to a cataclysmic plague that claimed the lives (50%) of Old Europe & made way for the New.

Full merrily;
Yet all things must die.
The stream will cease to flow;
The wind will cease to blow;
The clouds will cease to fleet;
The heart will cease to beat;
For all things must die.



Best

David Brin said...

"What I object to is David's WEIRD assumption that the 'End of History' coincides with our generation..."

You are a hallucinating psycho.

Anonymous said...

>> Mike Will said...

Mind/AI it is cognitive in nature. Well, I could propose to discuss it, but I see you'd be hesitant in this environment. Could not be helped, isn't it?

And. Current approach to AI is to devise some "smart" algorithm that will be crunching problems for us same way as number-cruncher numbers...
But if it need to be fully developed mind for it. I see inevitable problem. "He cannot deliver Answer We Want... cannot explain it to us in plain English... what a sucker, let's delete it". Well... :)

Or... as Lem said it. "One need to be smart oneself, to be able to listen for smart advices".


>> Larry Hart said...
\\In an analogous manner...

Quite precise immitation of human -- android. Can eat. Can do anything. And can speak that words "I think, therefore I am".

That's whole problem.

We are... is our brains. And brains itself cannot say something, cannot DO anything.

And even inside brain. There is separate regions, visual cortex, lingustic center, etc. Which if demadged, could not show anything.

That's how fragil we are.


>> yana said...

Excellent missive. No joke.


>> locumranch said...

Show us your results of test on logic (anyone from web). ;)


>> Jon S. said...

Don't worry. I'm sure there was nothing smart in that comment. :P

And. I planned to use Gandhi quote here. But after short thought I decided it'll be pointless.


>> David Brin said...
\\You are a hallucinating psycho.

And you like it, isn't it?
No need to think, no need to contre-argument. Just call him back with swearing...
well, it looks like it was excatly what he wanted of you. :)))

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin to locumranch:

You are a hallucinating psycho.


Therefore, you are.

:)

Larry Hart said...

porohobot:

Quite precise immitation of human -- android. Can eat. Can do anything. And can speak that words "I think, therefore I am".

That's whole problem.

We are... is our brains. And brains itself cannot say something, cannot DO anything.


I'm not claiming I can prove to you (or anyone else) that I am.

Just that I know it to be true.

Howard Brazee said...

Remember when SF had robots walking over to the car, getting behind the wheel, and driving you somewhere?

We didn't predict that we'd have dozens (hundreds?) of computers in our car giving us incremental intelligence.

Mike Will said...

I'm going back to that Melville quote that got 'onwarded' last time:

"stand close to me, Starbuck; let me look into a human eye; it is better than to gaze into sea or sky; better than to gaze upon God"


This is the key to AI, SETI, "Mind's I" philosophy, and LH's Descartes fixation. While it's not 'proof', the ability to see oneself, one's home, one's life in another is really what intelligence (and thus existence) is. To create, recognize, search for, or define intelligence, one must have this ability.

Primitive biology offers an analogy. An bunch of Prokaryotes floating around was cool. However, once they began recognizing each other, communicating, and forming quora, BANG! Some then decided to permanently build a village or trireme together, and became Eukaryotes. Then there are the outliers and trolls who never learned this lesson, let's call them Archaea.

Larry Hart said...

Mike Will:

An bunch of Prokaryotes floating around was cool. However, once they began recognizing each other, communicating, and forming quora, BANG!


As soon as one begins recognizing others as others, doesn't he start thinking in stories?

Mike Will said...

Larry Hart:

I'm an old programmer from the fossilized days of Fortran and Forth. I tried for many years to describe that world to non-programmers (which was 99.999% of people back then). Utter failure. I then wrote a 'Tale of Forth'. Success. Formal descriptions are great for passing around inside the Ivory Tower, but quite useless for riding out into the countryside and making new friends.

jim said...

As far as the idea of self-domestication of humans, a long time ago I was at a meeting of the sociological department at UC and there was a presentation of demographic study of green monkeys on an island in the Caribbean.

The study explored the demographics of green monkeys and they found something very interesting from an evolutionary and sociological perspective. They found a huge spike in the mortality of male monkeys before they have a chance to reproduce. (the differential reproductive success at the heart of evolution). The spike in mortality of young male monkeys happens after they get kicked out of the troop they were born into and before they get accepted into a new troop. (social structure as the source of differential mortality.) And so, you end up with a large evolutionary selection pressure exerted by the social structure choosing which young male monkeys get accepted by the new troop.

sociotard said...

The military wants to build a bullshit detector for social science studies

locumranch said...


"The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails" is my favorite Melville quote, which is why I persist in my attempts to communicate with the safely-enbubbled & self-deluding progressive.

In response to the apparent triumph of Western Liberal Democracy over all other forms of (failed) marxist, socialist, communist, feudal & dictatorial government, Francis Fukuyama declared an 'End of History' (circa 1992), at least in the sociocultural terms of the undisputedly final & best form of human government.

But, alas & alack, a disobedient history refused to 'off itself' at the stipulated & desired point, despite & BECAUSE OF the fervent support of progressive idealists like David who (first) decided to replace the popular democratic process with an unelected deep state bureaucratic elite intent on 'protecting democracy' from We_The_People and (second) attempted to replace western laisse-faire meritocracy with the failed pre-1992 Marxist 'Equality' meme, resulting in the apparent failure of ersatz western liberal democracy at home & abroad.

And, while this failure of modern western (undemocratic) liberalism appears self-evident to all concerned, any mention of this sad fact to any of these self-proclaimed progressive 'protectors of democracy' triggers massive cognitive dissonance, reality denial & TDS levels of mental apoplexy.

So, for the ongoing benefit of these the progressively retarded & despite numerous accusations of being a treasonous "hallucinating psycho", I will say again (in no uncertain terms) that faux western liberal democracy as practiced in the US & EU, along with the Western Imperium, Pax Americana, NATO, the United Nations & globalism, is dead & dying after being murdered by the best of intentions.

As 'All things will die' sooner than we'd like, myself included, I thought Tennyson's funerary verse appropriate, but it appears that my 'real talk' offended those of delicate sensibilities to whom I must now apologise, and so I offer this reassuring bit of childhood verse in the hopes that it may help you come to terms:

Ring-a-round the rosies,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes! Ashes!
We all fall down.


And, fall down we will, without exception.


Best
___

Think of the sheer tonnage of fossil fuels being squandered, burnt & released into the atmosphere to keep the global economy humming as we ship raw materials from everywhere to China, our current industrial hub, and then return the finished goods to disparate foreign markets. Now tell me how GOOD globalism & global equality is.

jim said...

Sanders in poised to help end the unquestioning relationship between the Democratic party and Israel. There are many progressives in the US that are disgusted at the unquestioning support of Israel and its horrid treatment of the Palestinian peoples. And now that Netanyahu allying himself with followers of the Jewish terrorist Meir Kahane the democratic party should make it clear that if the Israeli government forms with members from Otzam Yehudit that the democratic party will not support Israel.

Jon S. said...

Israel will still have the unswerving support of the Republicans, at least as long as they pursue oppressive policies against Palestinians. After all, how can the Evangelicals have their Armageddon if Israel is at peace?

I really think they need to re-read the Gospels, particularly the part about anyone trying to predict the return of the Christ. (Also the bits about how He feels about witches, given that they seem to be trying to arrange the world to accord with prophecy, as if they were casting a spell to summon Him...)

Alfred Differ said...

The link for Alzheimer's might not be causal or non-causal. It could be that Alzheimer's is an auto-immune response and the gum disease demonstrates the response is body-wide. Correlation might imply nothing more than a broad immune system attack.

My battle with my own immune system was system wide. Kidneys, lungs, joints... you name it. It taught me to be rather alarmed by any symptom including allergies.

David Brin said...

MIke Will, ever see articles like this one by Mike Wall? Author of the book "Out There."
https://www.space.com/hayabusa2-asteroid-landing-photo.html

Mike Will said...

@Dr. Brin

Gosh, I used to be deep into this stuff. Much of the development (and possibly deployment) software for Rosetta/Philae was written in Forth. An early CPU I used to use a lot (1802) was used by others in multiple probes (eg Galileo) due to its unique hardware features. I haven't read that book yet, but I've seen his name as it 'jumps out' at me much like Clifford Will (physicist), George Will (political commentator, baseball author), Larry Wall (PERL), Mike Will (rapper/producer), and many others. They say that people with 4-letter surnames are the smartest.

Thanks for the link. You are currently responsible for supplying 80% of my reading list. I'm trying to forget "Foundation's Triumph" so I can read it again.

Twominds said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Larry Hart said...

Mike Will to Dr Brin:

They say that people with 4-letter surnames are the smartest.


Heh.

raito said...

Mike Will:

I just bought an ELF to assemble because I was nostalgic for the one I wire-wrapped back in 1978. I got Lee Hart's retrotechnology version. It's 1802 based.

Robert said...

Heyla Dr. Brin. I thought this article on the creation of a liquid metal catalyst capable of turning CO2 into solid carbon might be of interest seeing that if it can be scaled up, it could in theory allow an effective and efficient method of sequestering carbon in an easily-stored form that undoubtedly has industrial applications.

Rob H.

Mike Will said...

@raito

16x16 orthogonal registers (any of which can be the program counter), easily radiation hardened (only 5,000 transistors!), fully CMOS in 1976!, clockable down to DC (virtually zero power sleep mode - space probes friendly), etc, etc.

What a wonderful instruction set. COSMAC ELF, wire-wrapping, 1978, you're making me misty. Have fun.

David Brin said...

Rob H. No matter how efficient the metal catalyst is (and I hope it's true), you still must put energy into splitting the CO2. More energy than you got originally by burning carbon from the ground.

Daniel Duffy said...

There is a technology that extracts carbon dioxide from the air and turns it into solid matter.

It's call a "tree".

https://www.treehugger.com/climate-change/heres-how-many-trees-it-would-take-cancel-out-climate-change.html?fbclid=IwAR2USOS6ecYqOpDwaJXNLXL2KjrvLNnzIwekKfCpm1ZtTruQF5KHcPwBBu4

1.2 trillion new trees. At least, that's the number Thomas Crowther, a professor and scientific advisor to the UN, came up with. He and his colleagues used machine learning to calculate just how many trees we could plant to soak up our carbon dioxide.“There’s 400 gigatons [of carbon] now, in the 3 trillion trees, and if you were to scale that up by another trillion trees that’s in the order of hundreds of gigatons captured from the atmosphere – at least 10 years of anthropogenic emissions completely wiped out,” he said.

And kelp

https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2019/02/the-oceans-and-kelp-are-critical-to-solving-climate-change.html

A more powerful biological offset would be to use kelp forests. Kelp can grow thirty times faster than trees. 40% of the world’s land is used for agriculture. We will need to use 9% of the oceans to offset global warming emissions.




Tony Fisk said...

Hopefully the catalytic conversion is a more efficient process than the original combustion but, yes, conservation of energy and entropy are like that. My concern is one of scaling.

In other news... well, this just keeps getting better!* "Stratocumulus clouds break up in the presence of too much CO2". Without their cooling effect, we're looking at an *additional* 8 degrees warming. The only bright side to this is that the tipping point doesn't kick in until levels of ~1200ppm are reached

*Can we have just *one* negative feedback global warming process, please?

David Brin said...

In EARTH there are kelp forests and "the trillion trees project."

Robert said...

What we need are better trees - trees that are more efficient at converting carbon dioxide to oxygen and sugars and are also drought-resistant. In short, we need more C4 and crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) photosynthetic trees and plants as they function better in lower-water environments and droughts are going to become more frequent thanks to climate change.

The fun thing is? We could genetically engineer trees to be more efficient at photosynthesis (and in fact there's a couple tricks that can further enhance a plant's ability to photosynthesize by making it less likely plants will start pumping out CO2 when they get overheated) seeing we don't EAT trees. (We're currently working on improving photosynthesis in tobacco plants and succeeded in getting them to have larger leaf sizes.) What is wanted is efficient methods of converting CO2 to carbon. That, and turning CO2 into wood only delays the problem seeing when the trees die... or get caught in a wildfire.

Rob H.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Not trees - Ocean Fertilisation - or even Ocean Thermal Power Generation (OTEC)

I just love the idea of a power plant that has fish as a byproduct

We could "supercharge" the oceans - just to get back to what they used to be like

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21128201-700-vital-giants-why-living-seas-need-whales/

On an entirely different subject I have just attended our annual 1/8th mile drag race - this year the copper in my motor stayed in the solid state so I was able to do four runs and still drive home
7.90 seconds and 93.5 mph - YESS - and faster than 29 of the other 30 cars!

We also had three electric cars at the event - my "Device" Owen's Ute and a BMW i3

The BMW was put in the european cars category where he was a tiny amount slower than a supercharged Mercedes sports car
Very impressive for such a funny wee car

Anonymous said...

>> Larry Hart said...
\\I'm not claiming I can prove to you (or anyone else) that I am.
\\Just that I know it to be true.

Marxists are shizophrenics.
But still, they know some Truth too. Like that -- it doesn't count what You know, think, count as Truth.
There only that "truth" that are in social practice truth. So. If They think one is witch, they'll burn it. We can see this in this blog too... very clearly. :)
Our host for example know this "truth" very well. If insinctively? To his benefit.


>> sociotard said...
\\The military wants to build a bullshit detector for social science studies

Thank you. Good link.
But the right answer -- burn this and make new one, for it to work. :)
Because "social science studies" very effective in adaptation to what others need to hear from them. So, to trick some losy AI will not be a problem for them.
Well. Still. If it starts an evolution in AI...


>> Mike Will said...
\\...the ability to see oneself, one's home, one's life in another is really what intelligence (and thus existence) is. To create, recognize, search for, or define intelligence, one must have this ability.

Then what about autists? ;) Or they are non-inteligent? Non-human to you?
Or blind from the birth? Because they cannot SEE.
Or that child which have had no other sences except of sence of touch from the birth???
Isn't you perspective just a lil bit narrow?

Well... as for me, to understand and to build AI one need to have reflexia.
But, well, I except that could be my own delusion too. :(


\\once they began recognizing each other, communicating, and forming quora, BANG! Some then decided to permanently build a village or trireme together, and became Eukaryotes. Then there are the outliers and trolls who never learned this lesson, let's call them Archaea.

Not very deep metaphora. But still, one of the best here. Kudos!

Problem is... we still do not know how Eukaryotes appear. Was LUCA decendant of that communicative Prokaryotes you say, or... it was some separate line of Archaea. ;)

And. Eukaryotes do not communicate among themself... e.g. not share DNA info.
Except for sex. Well.
And viruses.
All, quite complicated. There. :)


>> locumranch said...
\\"The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails" is my favorite Melville quote, which is why I persist in my attempts to communicate with the safely-enbubbled & self-deluding progressive.

That just show how twisted your understanding of communication is.
Well. In a way it the same twisted as in our host -- "I will listem fer ya only if ya say something pleasant to me". %)
That is makes so complimentar pair of you two. :)

\\...globalism, is dead & dying after being murdered by the best of intentions.

Go take some cookies from Putin. :))) Because it's wholely his claim.

Well. You are working for him free of charges, out of sheer usefull idiocy... the same as... ts-s-s. %)

\\Now tell me how GOOD globalism & global equality is.

Well. What You propose instead? Lay down, cross hands and prepare to die? %)))
Even in that position you soon will have need to change pose, to stand to pee, etc.
Or... you are as real stoik and punk will pee under yourself? :)))

Anonymous said...

...effective and efficient method of sequestering carbon in an easily-stored form that undoubtedly has industrial applications.

And that form is bio-produced (by GMO bacterias) and bio-disposable plastic,
that can be used for 3D-printing and making self-suficient robots all around Globe!

Daniel Duffy said...

NASA Happily Reports the Earth is Greener, With More Trees Than 20 Years Ago–and It’s Thanks to China, India

https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/nasa-says-earth-is-greener-than-ever-thanks-to-china-and-india/?fbclid=IwAR37X8IveRAt-6s0BrxHN4PXtPD-dnEXNlHkX1BZJppq0NOvs16J1Zk9QmU

This surprising new study shows that the two emerging countries with the world’s biggest populations are leading the improvement in greening on land. The effect stems mainly from ambitious tree planting programs in China and intensive agriculture in both countries. In 2017 alone, India broke its own world record for the most trees planted after volunteers gathered to plant 66 million saplings in just 12 hours.

Daniel Duffy said...

I get a smaller number of trees required.

32,000,000,000 tons = Amount of CO2 sent into the atmosphere by human activities

43% = Fraction retained in the atmosphere (not absorbed by existing carbon sinks)

13,760,000,000 tons = Annual accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere

50 lbs = Amount CO2 sequesterd by typical mature tree annually

550,400,000,000 each Number of trees required
550 billion
69 trees per capita

300 trees = Minimum number of trees per acres for reforestation or wild life enhancement
726 trees = Maximum number of trees per acre required for reforestation

1,834,666,667 acres = Maximum area required
2,866,667 square miles

758,126,722 acres = Minimum area required
1,184,573 square miles

1,296,396,694 acres = Average area required
2,025,620 square miles

Equivalent to:

2 million square miles
52% of Canada
80% of the Australian outback
56% of the Sahara
or
1% of the total land area of the Earth



Daniel Duffy said...

@Duncan - you are 100% correct sire about ocean fertilization.

Fortunately, initial efforts at CO2 sequestration via iron fertilization of the oceans is lookng very promising - and replenishes fish stock:

http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/06/120-tons-of-iron-sulphate-dumped-into.html

http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/06/bureaucracy-and-hurdles-for-attempting.html

The study has shown that "a substantial proportion of carbon from the induced algal bloom sank to the deep sea floor. These results, which were thoroughly analysed before being published now, provide a valuable contribution to our better understanding of the global carbon cycle."

"Over 50 per cent of the plankton bloom sank below 1000 metre depth indicating that their carbon content can be stored in the deep ocean and in the underlying seafloor sediments for time scales of well over a century."

"Iron Fertilization helps restore fish populations. In 2012, the distribution of 120 tons of iron sulfate into the northeast Pacific to stimulate a phytoplankton bloom which in turn would provide ample food for baby salmon."

"The verdict is now in on this highly controversial experiment: It worked. In fact it has been a stunningly over-the-top success. This year, the number of salmon caught in the northeast Pacific more than quadrupled, going from 50 million to 226 million. In the Fraser River, which only once before in history had a salmon run greater than 25 million fish (about 45 million in 2010), the number of salmon increased to 72 million."

"The cost for iron fertilization would be “ridiculously low” as compared with any other possible method of carbon sequestration. For quite seriously all you need to do is throw rubbish over the side of the ship to make it happen."

"No, really: ferrous sulphate is a waste product of a number of different industrial processes (if I’m recalling correctly, one source would be the production of titanium dioxide for making white paint, a large industry) and it really is a waste. It gets thrown into holes in the ground"

Accrding to Next Big Future the iron used in ocean fertilization results in a plankton bloom, which massively increases fish stocks (120 tons of iron sulfate became 100,000 tons of salmon. The plankton not eaten by the fish dies and settles on the ocean floor taking the CO2 used to build their bodies with them in permanent sequestration.

The sequestion is accomplished at a rate of:

"Recent research has expanded this constant to "106 C: 16 N: 1 P: .001 Fe" signifying that in iron deficient conditions each atom of iron can fix 106,000 atoms of carbon, or on a mass basis, each kilogram of iron can fix 83,000 kg (83 metric tonnes)of carbon dioxide."

Global CO2 emissions in 2013 were estimated to be 33.4 billion metric tonnes from fossil fuels and cement production. Using the ratio above, a bit more than 400,000,000 kilograms (400,000 metric tonnes) of iron sulphate could sequester our CO2 emissions each year - about 3,333 times the amount used in the experiment cited by NBF. This actually sounds doable in the ocean fisheries around the globe.

More than that would reduce the overall amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Possibly resulting in global cooling.

A single ultra large crude tanker has a capacity of 550,000 dead weight tonnes - 150,000 tonnes more than what would be needed to sequester annual CO2 emissions.


Daniel Duffy said...

A scientist studying ocean fertilization joked, "Give me a supertanker full of iron sulfate and I will stop global warming. Give me two of them and I will trigger an ice age"

Something to remember even with the most promising geoengineering techniques - we could still screw things up.

Then again this would be a cool in the next 007 film:

"Before I kill you Mr. Bond I must reveal to you my super secret master plan for world domination/destruction. Do you see those two ordinary looking super tankers at my private dock? They are filled with iron sulfate. Once out on the open sea they will release their cargo, triggering a plankton bloom which will suck all of the CO2 from the atmosphere starting a new ice age! Buhwawawawawawa!!!!"

Mike Will said...

"What you fail to realize, Scary-man-ga, is that I am backed by the global military-industrial complex. Even now they are coming in force to open up new coal-fired power plants which will keep the lights on while new arms races are hatched. Miss Goodhead, would you be a dear and mix me a Vodka Martini..." [Wry smile]

Tim H. said...

Consider, if some form of veggie burger becomes more affordable, or even more fashionable than beef, you not only get the carbon reduction from fewer cattle, you also get a carbon reduction from increased plant material on their abandoned pasturage.

Tim Wolter said...

I have a daughter in law who did fascinating research on soybeans back in grad school. They had a field in the test area that could imitate various projected climates. Temp, carbon dioxide levels etc. Better trees - good. Something edible that sequesters carbon - Outstanding. At least something we can still grow in a difficult future - still pretty damned good.

I have considerable faith in human ingenuity.

TW/Tacitus

Jon S. said...

My eye was snagged by the use of a certain term.

Someone has a very primitive (not to mention horribly inaccurate) assessment of just what exactly autism is. This is, of course, not unexpected, given many of the poster's other statements, but it's one that's particularly attention-getting for me.

Autistics don't lack an ability to see the Other as human (that, in fact, seems to be more of an NT thing). What we lack is the ability to easily translate that into language pragmatics that the NT world will grasp, especially in the area of "body language". (Well, that and the NT insistence on interpreting our body language in terms of their own, meaning that, for example, my son's teacher keeps calling him "disrespectful" because of his tone of voice and the fact that he hates having anyone look him in the face and won't return the gesture.)

I'm just saying, when someone prides themselves on being an expert on neurology, maybe keeping up with the literature might be a good idea.

Larry Hart said...

porphobot:

> Larry Hart said...
\\I'm not claiming I can prove to you (or anyone else) that I am.
\\Just that I know it to be true.

Marxists are shizophrenics.
But still, they know some Truth too. Like that -- it doesn't count what You know, think, count as Truth.
There only that "truth" that are in social practice truth. So. If They think one is witch, they'll burn it


You're missing the point.

If I think I know that you are a witch, that doesn't prove that you are one.

If I think I know that I exist, that does prove I exist. Not because I of what I think I know, but because of who is doing the thinking that he know. Whether my belief is mistaken or not, it's me believing it. Therefore, there's a "me" doing the believing. It is not logically possible for me to think I exist without existing.

You keep trying to convince me that I might be mistaken in my belief, but I could just as well argue "I'm mistaken, therefore I am."

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

for example, my son's teacher keeps calling him "disrespectful" because of his tone of voice and the fact that he hates having anyone look him in the face and won't return the gesture.

I can see age 60 approaching in the headlights, so this is post-horse-escape-barn-door stuff, but I now recall that my parents had to explain to my kindergarten teacher that I turned my ear toward someone I was listening to rather than my eye. 25 or so years later than that, when the woman I was dating at the time broke up with me, citing a litany of complaints, one of them was that I didn't look her in the eye when we talked. To her, that meant I was hiding something.

When I had to find work again last year, my wife of 20 years pleaded with me to make eye contact during job interviews. I made a concerted effort to do so, overcoming the instinctive feeling that extended eye contact was intrusive and rude. It did help me land a job, though, so I have to admit she was right. Ever since then, I've tried to practice by holding the gaze of attractive women whenever I'm talking to them. If I had only known thirty years ago how to fake sincerity like that... :)

(Did I say that or think it?)

jim said...

Some of the recent comments on how to deal with climate change are interesting in that they go completely against the eco modernist strategy of walling humanity off from the natural world. The ecomodernist seem to want humanity to coalesce into nuclear powered cyber necropoli with limited contact with the natural world. It is like atheist’s dream of heaven, remaking the world to match its view that the world is a cold, dead, meaningless place.

I find it reassuring that even here (at techno-cornucopians are us) many recognize the real truth of the Gaian perspective that the world is warm and wet, it is filled with living conscious beings who find meaning in the relationships they have with other living beings. And that if we are going to out of our environmental crisis, we need to change how we collectively relate to the other living beings on this planet. Humanity has and will have an enormous impact on the rest of the living world, but we can change from acting like parasites to acting like symbionts. There are so many other living beings on this planet that would be happy to enter into mutually beneficial relationships with humanity and stabilize the climate. The solution to our problems may not be in dead technology but in better relationships with other living beings.

Larry Hart said...

jim:

but we can change from acting like parasites...


"Now, you've done it."

http://wondermark.com/1k62/

raito said...

Mike Will,

The next year I attempted to build my own processor from TTL gates. In a time when all I had was the ELF manual, a 6809 manual, and some 7400 series datasheets. I did not finish the project, but I made a lot of headway.

These days, a high school student would buy an FPGA evaluation board for a few bucks, and use the internet. They'd be much more successful at completing the project. Would they learn as much? Do they need to learn as much?

jim said...

I really don’t understand your comment Larry.

Are you having a pornobot freak out over the word parasite to describe modern man’s relationship with the rest of the living world?

Darrell E said...

jim said...

It is like atheist’s dream of heaven, remaking the world to match its view that the world is a cold, dead, meaningless place.

Ahh, jim . . ., you're showing your ass again.

Mike Will said...

@raito
Rote doctrine, frameworks, black box libraries, and facile cut & paste coding are in fashion in schools, industry, and government. Compiler manuals often have pics of da Vinci and Aristotle. They should have had Bozo the Clown on the cover. I won't rail away like an old fogey here, these good folks have bigger fish to fry.

Richard Feynman often advocated for researching and reasoning from first principles. Isaac Asimov covered the same ground using the Dandified idiot Lord Dorwin. Even if not finished, such work as yours back then moves you (and us) forward.

The scientific spirit is of more value than its products
- Thomas Huxley

jim said...

Darrell
Nah, that was just a good natured jab at the atheists here.

Darrell E said...

My mistake. I'm beginning to think that emoticons might be useful after all.

Tim H. said...

What I want is a World that can be sustainable without a die-off of Humans. That may look like nuclear powered favelas, but what's wrong with a World where everything else can live with very little disturbance from us?

Larry Hart said...

jim:

I really don’t understand your comment Larry.

Are you having a pornobot freak out over the word parasite to describe modern man’s relationship with the rest of the living world?


No, I was suspecting that he would have a freakout over your use of the p-word.

My "Now, you've done it" was a direct quote from the sealion comic, intended to convey expectation that the sealion would appear.

Larry Hart said...

jim:

Nah, that was just a good natured jab at the atheists here.


I'd hate to see what you call "grievous assault with intent."

Larry Hart said...

Tim H:

What I want is a World that can be sustainable without a die-off of Humans. That may look like nuclear powered favelas, but what's wrong with a World where everything else can live with very little disturbance from us?


I think the comment which prompted your response was more concerned with a world in which humans attempt to live by disturbing everything else to oblivion.

Tim H. said...

Which some varieties of "God-botherers" see as a plus, "Reasoning" that if they trash the World, it's creator will take them to Heaven. Thankfully, there's a lot of believers that are decent Human beings.

jim said...

Larry,
Ok that makes sense to me now.

Tim asked
"what's wrong with a World where everything else can live with very little disturbance from us?"

I just don't think that kind of world is possible with out real totalitarian control over the entire human race. There are just too many benefits from interacting with the rest of the natural world.

And the idea of nuclear powered favelas is just so incredibly dystopian, in my mind would lead us into ecological, biological and cultural dead end.

Tim H. said...

Jim, nature would still be there, just largely unmolested by us.

David Brin said...

Increases in vegetation - both reforestation and crops - in China and India have been making a difference. It does not offset the damage from loss of natural vegetation in tropical regions, such as Brazil and Indonesia, where there's accompanying huge loss of species and biodiversity. But it does give us another weapon against denialist cultists, who writhe and change their incantations from "Humans can't affect the atmosphere," all the way to "Nothing can be done, so give up!"

Many trends combine, China's huge efforts are aimed at fighting the deserts that have been spreading because of climate change. Movement of millions into cities has given some flexibility to plant more, but nothing like will happen when we shift to meat substitutes and free up vast areas being wrecked by herds. (Try a Beyond Burger!) We need to green the oceans.

Why, oh why do none of the liberal pols never run through a long list of past cult-fetish denialisms of the right? Tobacco is good for you! Cars don't cause smog! Negroes can't read! It's GOOD that rivers are catching fire! Wage war on demon marijuana, sending a guy with one joint to prison for ten years! Jail homos! Women can't think for half of any month. Do you doubt I could go on?

Remind your cultist friend that if they hate today's refugees clamoring at our borders, imagine a hundred times that many, fleeing climate chaos. We'll need to house a share of them. And the homes of the denialists who helped bring this mess upon us sound like a perfect place to start.

https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/nasa-says-earth-is-greener-than-ever-thanks-to-china-and-india/?fbclid=IwAR37X8IveRAt-6s0BrxHN4PXtPD-dnEXNlHkX1BZJppq0NOvs16J1Zk9QmU

David Brin said...

While I am a huge booster of ocean fertilization experiments, I think some things are exaggerated. There's no proof those experiments caused the massive salmon run... though it is a huge argument to try again. Iron sulfate is insufficient in some places, where other nutrients are lacking - which is why I used ocean-bottom stirrers in EARTH (1989).

It should only be done in fast currents with good drainage, else you contribute to eutrophication choking that's happening in the Black, Med and caribbean seas. But yes, this is an area where I turn to the left wing reflexive purtitan yammerers and say "it's your turn to be nonsensical. Let's do the experiments."

David Brin said...

I said I would ignore the angry sillyperson till March 1, but I did skim past his latest and saw that he's still fuming with undeserved, hallucinatory rage. I considered asking you all not to feed him... then shrugged. Like it matters that we have another locumranch? Albeit one who goes on and on and on with weird syntax?

Let me know if you guys get tired of scrolling past. As promised, on March 1 I will actually read one of his postings. If it remains filled with whiney, made up resentment, I'll return to another month of scrolling past.

jim said...

Well Tim,
For me the one inescapable truth is that human beings have always been and will always be part of the natural living world. Trying to wall ourselves off from the rest of the living world seems to me be a kind of death /extinction wish.

I think it is far better for us to focus on developing more mutually beneficial relationships with the other living beings on this planet. The living world isn’t just some victim of industrial society, the trees, the algae, the fungus and a myriad of other living beings could be our saviors if we reach out and work with them.



And as just kind of a side note, I am working with an artist in Portland on a graphic novel that tells a story about responding to our current ecological crisis in such a way. Hopefully we will be finished in the spring of next year

Alfred Differ said...

jim,

Nah, that was just a good natured jab at the atheists here.

Mmmm.... Okay. I'll take it as such. I'll also recognize the poverty of imagination it suggests too. Many of us don't see the world as cold, dead, and meaningless. Many of us do not live in a mental world that is all that different from where theists live.

Imagine two sets of real number segments. [0, 1) and [0, 1]
All the real from zero to one, but one set leaves out one. Closed set at one end... open at the other for the set without 1.
Someone using the open set, though, has a number that can fill in for 1. It's 0.999...

Some of us atheists feel no need to include the limit God in our set of transcendentals. We have the others, though, thus the world isn't cold, dead, or meaningless. If we leave out any particular one or a finite number of them, there really isn't much difference. We have substitutes that function well enough.

The poverty of imagination results in a failure to recognize just how similar most of us are.

Tim H. said...

The thing about the "Green dream", not many people could do it. Transitioning to the supportable population levels would be problematic, and there'd be no guarantee that a future generation wouldn't turn their backs on that lifestyle.

jim said...

Tim,
I think you may be assuming that the building of mutually beneficial relationships with the other living beings on the earth means that we would have to greatly reduce our population.

Hopefully next year when THE MOON LOTUS (provisional title) comes out you will reassess that assumption. It is a story that shows it might be possible for ~10 billion people to live in ecologically sustainable way with a good quality of life if we change the way we relate to the rest of the living world.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Why, oh why do none of the liberal pols never run through a long list of past cult-fetish denialisms of the right? Tobacco is good for you! Cars don't cause smog! Negroes can't read! It's GOOD that rivers are catching fire! Wage war on demon marijuana, sending a guy with one joint to prison for ten years! Jail homos! Women can't think for half of any month. Do you doubt I could go on?


Many right-wingers of the Trump variety would continue to agree with every one of those assertions. Rather than be ashamed of having supported such statements in the past, they would double-down on how true those things really are.

David Brin said...

jim, sorry, but you are quite wrong. You cannot ask 8 billion people to live in nature communes. It is, in fact, a dangerously inefficient approach that puts each settlement into daily conflict with nature. Ironically, cities have been benefiting nature by drawing populations away from Her. If we can truly develop the technologies for cities to largely power and feed themselves with urban agriculture, then these compact prototype space colonies could teach us how to return Earth largely to nature. Just eliminating red meat could take us a long way.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

jim said...

Well David I am just going to ask you to withhold judgment.
I have only touched on the broad theme of the story, what you think I am proposing and what I am actually proposing may be quite different.

I will make sure I send you a copy, my way of saying thank you for the Uplift series.

Anonymous said...

>> David Brin said...
\\jim, sorry, but you are quite wrong. You cannot ask 8 billion people to live in nature communes.

Jim... m-m-m, David. And what about ocean? Communities that can live in open ocean. On artifical islands. Freely migrating. Having all supplyes from ocean itself? ;)


>> Alfred Differ said...
\\The poverty of imagination results in a failure to recognize just how similar most of us are.

Inability to percieve the "heavenly God Father" -- its quite striking desimilarity.
There was religious wars because of it.

And there is much more such differs between semi-homogenious religious folks and ever divercifing atheists. ;)


>> jim said...
\\I think it is far better for us to focus on developing more mutually beneficial relationships with the other living beings on this planet.

Yep. Like with moskitos and fleas. :)


>> Daniel Duffy said...

Kudos for your info! It was interesting. What is rare here.

\\Then again this would be a cool in the next 007 film:

They not doing it in 007 films anymore. (sad) :)


>> Larry Hart said...
\\ If I had only known thirty years ago how to fake sincerity like that... :)

Well... you said it.
As would I know how to show "sincerity" the "dr.Brin's way". :)

Jack Holt said...

I agree about investment into agricultural research. We aren't getting off this planet any time soon (or in any numbers large enough to be worth talking about), so investment in ecologically sustainable practices and food supplies is critical.

du Lac said...

Got into it on a social media platform a while back with an earnest individual who was advocating for the abolishment of government, because all our problems with resources & scarcity, and taking care of children, the old & the sick could all be solved if ...

... wait for it ...

We all just abandoned this silly idea of living in our own houses, or family members moving from their place of birth, and all families just housed themselves under one roof. Because of course the family unit is the holiest of the holy, the thing which shall save us all from the EEBIL GUBMINT!

I thought about bringing up the fact that not all families take care of each other; that forcing people to live under the same roof with abusive family members leads to homicide.

There's a streak of crypto-libertarians that have these Magical Thinking theories, based upon their own lived experience and everything that their cloistered Bible Study Classes have pounded into their heads, reinforced by 40 years of propaganda that All Government Is Evil All The Time So It Must Be Abolished Because Taxation Is Theft wharrrragarble.

I am no longer sure that we can operate as a society when a significant percentage of the population is this delusional.