Wednesday, January 02, 2019

New Years Report - fighting gloom in order to thrive


My friend Martin Rees — The British Astronomer Royal — has long offered insightful views upon not only the sciences, but also the dangers we face rushing into an uncertain future. His new book On the Future: Prospects for Humanity gives even-handed criticism of both cynical denialism and hand-wringing despair, leading you toward the one thing that might save us all and help our children thrive… clearheaded pragmatism, laced with the idealism to believe we can be better. Solutions exist, but they depend upon an openminded willingness to question assumptions and learn from one another.
  
== The Abundance Report ==

Indeed, the worst plague in the world is gloom. It infests large portions of the “left” and lobotomizes almost the entire “right,” undermining the confident,  can-do spirit that has propelled nearly all progress. Know this, only a people who are confident that they can change the world stand any chance of actually changing anything. And "can" only arises when you admit "we already have."

To that end, read an interview with Stephen Pinker about how we are surrounded by good news, leading not to complacency, but a spirit of “I think we can!”

It’s no contradiction to say that we’re extending human life and there are threats: threats of climate change, threats of authoritarian politicians. You can appreciate the threats, worry about the threats, try to fight back against the threats at the same time that you appreciate the progress that we have made.

“I would say that it’s appreciating the progress that gives us the courage and conviction to try to strive for more progress. History tells us that attempts to make the world better tend to succeed. We’ll never achieve a utopia, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make things a little bit better.”

Want some anecdotal evidence?

Inspired in part by the “Tricorder XPrize, a new set of $1 test screens for the presence of a number of diseases like malaria, flu and dengue fever, various types of cancers, and genetic diseases will appreciably contribute to health. And Jimmy Carter's campaign to end the Guinea Worm parasite may reach completion this year..  

The Internet will soon be accessible from all areas of the planet, including rural locations with poor or no network connectivity. The FCC unanimously approved SpaceX’s ambitious plan to launch 7,518 satellites into low-Earth orbit. These satellites, along with 4,425 previously approved satellites, will serve as the backbone for the company’s proposed Starlink broadband network. These new SpaceX satellites will increase the number of active satellites six-fold in less than a decade. And my friends at ViaSat are taking an entirely different approach (massive geosynchronous sats) toward similar ends. Yes, they'll have more latency in voice coms, but most traffic is surfing and you'll never notice the difference. 

And yes, most of these links are brought to you by the Abundance Insider report from Peter Diamandis’s XPrize Foundation (I’m on the Advisory Council.) Get his book Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think! And realize that we have tons of hard work to do, to save the world… but good news is all over the place… suggesting we should be up to the task.

And now something cool. California-based startup Hoversurf is training one of its first customers, the Dubai Police Force, on the 2019 S3 Hoverbike. The vehicle, which can operate with or without a human pilot, weighs 253 lbs, costs $150,000, flies for up to 25 minutes, and can safely fly at an altitude of 16 ft.

== Oh, but the enemies of enlightenment abound ==

“Under the tenure of  Texas Republican Lamar Smith, the House of Representatives Science Committee has held hearing after hearing casting doubt on mainstream climate science, used its subpoena power to harass and intimidate climate scientists, entertained the conspiracy theory that sea level rise is caused by rocks falling into the ocean, and used its Twitter account to blast links to climate change-denying Breitbart articles. Smith, who is not a scientist, has used the veil of authority that chairmanship offers to pen articles imploring the public not to buy into the “hysteria over carbon dioxide” while railing against “climate alarmists” at pro-fossil fuel get-togethers. (He has also accepted hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry.)  In short, the House Science Committee has been a dark place for rational discourse on climate change. Sitting on it has been a lonely and frustrating experience for Bill Foster, Congress’s lone scientist (until last night).” - reports Maddie Stone in Gizmodo. These jibbering morons are a cancer on your children's future. Part of a campaign to discredit all fact-using professions. 

Incoming Committee Chair Texas Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson promises relief  from this monstrous lobotomization of the world’s “greatest deliberative legislature.”   And maybe… after 2020?  A  rebirth for the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) banished by Newt Gingrich for occasionally daring (as faithful-neutral public servants) to say “um, sir, that’s not really true.”

But it’s a long road. The Denialist Cult keeps moving the goal posts. And one way they keep your confed neighbor nodding and hypnotized is by offering dollops of “science” that he learned in Junior High in incantations that let them neutralize any input from actual science

Take the fact that plants consume carbon dioxide in order to grow. That means (according to their latest capering incantation) that nature will flourish if we don’t interfere with coal barons, petro-princes and carbon lords raking in billions from their legacy-corrupt extraction rights!  Never mind that paleontology shows high-CO2 eras featured warm arctic zones… (yay? Ask the US Navy viz the Russians what each one thinks of that)… but also vastly bigger swathes of desert, across the globe.  

You think tundra zones with max one growing season will replace lost temperate zones that had two?  Not for the 10,000 years that it will take, to grow topsoil up there.  Fools.

== It gets worse ==
Oh, my, the depths of crazy have yet to be plumbed. Example: “Autohoaxers” are a movement that reflexively declares every significant event a hoax, sometimes just for argument’s sake. Kind of like Vernor Vinge’s fictional “Friends of Privacy,” who auto-generate more ersatz personas and fake items than can ever be refuted, hence making your “that wasn’t me!” denials seem plausible.
Read about this and other pyrotechnically loony modern manias now orbiting a growing *Flat-Earth Movement*. Yes you read that right. And this is just one caked, pimply crust-symptom of the disease being crammed on us by the spreading War Against Smart People. (Including every single fact-centered profession, from science, teaching and journalism to intel and military and FBI officers.)
One of you suggested “Tell the flat earthers to go to Wal Mart and get a goPro and order a weather balloon and GPS tracker. You don't have to build a rocket to see for yourself. If the Earth were flat, then you'd be able to see the Great Lakes, Atlantic and Pacific from 30 miles above Colorado."
Here’s another truly devastating one: “Soundly Proving the Curvature of the Earth at Lake Pontchartrain.”
Of course my own answer is: “How many people do you think can keep secret a conspiracy? At most fifty? Your premise is that ALL the smart people… hundreds of millions of us… are in on this globe-pushing cabal? Woof!"

Liberals are fools, if they think this is rooted in “economic decay of the white middle class.” That’s happened and needs addressing, as does the nastiest pustule on the right — racism. But those are lipstick on a pig.
Scratch the surface. This is all about an inherent American spite toward authorities or “elites.” We all think one elite or another is conniving against us. Liberals (rightfully) point at those who oppressed us across 99% of 6000 years… owner-feudal lords.
Those oligarchs - uniting in a world-mafia putsch - need a distraction to keep populist masses from recognizing them as the ancient enemy. They have a great one, leveraging and weaponizing hatred toward another elite… smart people who know stuff. And make no mistake, we are the ones confederates truly hate, for “looking down on them.”
Think about it. The knowledge elites are our immune system against errors of the past, like feudalism. And errors of the future, like climate change. They are the people who can see — and prevent — the machinations of those seeking a New Feudalism. (I portrayed this in EXISTENCE.) Hence there is a feral agenda behind the War on All Facts — removing the only obstacle standing in oligarchy’s way. 

And gleefully spitting gas on a fire, now Russian space officials talk about ‘investigating’ whether the Apollo landings actually happened. See a link below. Anything to keep us attacking each other. The chief failure mode of our brilliant enlightenment civilization is auto-immune disease.


== And so... back to saving the world ==

See the “Five Phases of  Climate Denialism.” In fact, you can often hear all five uttered during the same hour, at Fox, even though they are mutually contradictory. “Climate Change is a hoax!” and “Glaciers are advancing!” will be chanted – sometimes in the same hour as “It’s changing but no worries and humans didn’t cause it,” all the way to “It’s a calamity and we caused it, but that doesn’t disqualify our credibility; it just means it’s hopeless to try solving the problem! So leave our parasite moguls alone!”

Now “Trump Administration To Polluters: Earth Is Doomed, So Go Hog Wild.” Yes, one branch of the administration issued a 500 page report admitting what every fact-using or “deep state” professional knows, that human-generated greenhouse gases have us on course for a climate precipice of rising acid seas and catastrophically spreading deserts and vast waves of refugees. 

The monsters' conclusion? That nothing can be done to prevent this now, so why try? – is rightly ridiculed by the appalled-educated half of the nation. (Answer – “You who were wrong about every single statement and forecast up to now… why should we heed you any longer?”)

All of this is deliberate. There is no unified conservative position on anything anymore. Not deficits, or trade, or morality… nor old anchor-standards like divorce or gambling or sexual deviancy or “family values.” Certainly not regarding the health of flat-fair-open entrepreneurial market capitalism. What we have now instead are talking points aimed at various constituencies with one purpose, to keep enough of them inside the fraying Big Tent  for one more election.
== Links galore ==

One of you (Anthony T.) offered up a raft of NYT articles… “on topics Brin has written about.  A bunch of riffs on our interesting times.





49 comments:

Mike Will said...

It sounds like you're coming around to the opinion that "Brave New World" is much scarier than "Nineteen eighty-four". Asimov's beautiful dream could end not with a bang, but a whimper. BTW "Foundation's Edge" is wonderful. I avoided reading any post-Asimov novels out of fear of the core premise (psychohistory) getting sidelined. I'm glad you didn't go that way. Congress declared a Robotics week in his honour, IMHO it should have been a Psychohistory week :)

The mafias and death cults won't win, but it will be a fight.

“We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on.” - Richard Feynman

Mike Will said...

Sorry, "Foundation's Triumph" not Edge.

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

Was just on BBC World Service to discuss the Chinese landing on the Moon.

David Brin said...

Thanks Mike. Yes, I think I channeled Isaac pretty well and tied things into a really nice circle. But you tell me, when you finish FT.

I think "1984" and "BNWorld" to be equally likely modes. The oligarchy in Orwell's fantasy are incredibly stupid, so obsessed with power and cruel control that they know they must crush the very people who innovate solutions, since those smart boffins might use their brains to topple the cruel oligarchs. Hence, the stupid ollies must lobotomize everyone else.

It's a death spiral... that alas, we have actually seen in history, countless times. And every sign shows that the oligarchs behind today's attempted fascist-mafia putsch are yes, that stooopid.

Brave New World is a much more stable and intelligent method of control, using pre-programming and pleasure instead of pain, and basing the pyramidal hierarchy on genuine layered levels of intelligence. It even has a kind of wisdom, expressed by Mustafa Mond (played by Leonard Nimoy in the best TV version) who explains that the leaders are willing to re-evaluate and keep rebel alphas on islands, to keep offering proposals, though with little chance of success.

Indeed, in my own scale, the greatest wisdom in any society is retaining the ability for minorities to point at and denounce supposed delusions or errors, and society's ability to keep re-evaluating, sometimes backing out of a mistake. It is the greatest argument for diversity, tolerance and freedom. An entirely pragmatic one, completely aside from moral arguments for those fine things.

Don't assume that means I admire Huxley's world! Sure, almost anyone would prefer it over Orwell's. Intelligent/indulgent, openminded but program-controlling hedonism is better than imbecilic-suicidal, earth-ruining sadism. But BNW shows us a world in which we've re-created a notion that dominated all previous civilizations, a pyramidal order of being in which the higher orders are more valuable -- not based upon cheating and lies (as in past feudal cultures) but based on a solid reality designed in deliberately!

Oh, I'm no fool. Our blithe recent notions of equality by birthright for all has no chance of enduring unmodified into any possible future, whether utopian or dystopian or apocalyptic. Hierarchies will return, most likely in the arrival of mega artificial intelligences. Making them benign and retaining a lot of value-sovereignty for ortho humanity is a major separate issue.

In BNW, the bottom layers of the pyramid are filled through a creepy and repulsive process of "downgrading" human beings to fit niches occupied in the past by serfs and slaves and overseers... only designing the occupants to fit into those niche with happiness. Eeep! Creepy! In the various "uplift" treatments by Boulle, Cordwainer Smith and HG Wells, the lower orders of the pyramid are filled from below, by creating raised-up animal servants. It goes badly in two of those three. I do it also, but with intent of creating new equals/partners. Because I was raised in a culture that likes that sort of thing. And if we succeed, then a cultural wish to LEAN towards equality of opportunity will be embedded, even if we return to hierarchies.

But lets not fool ourselves. The flattened diamond I extoll and talk about, our middle class egalitarian miracle, perches on a pyramid... of machines. The washer-dryer, vacuum, fridge, microwave that let most of us live AS IF we had a housefull of servants. Siri is the beginning of an overseer-butler-majordomo, and that's fine. But oh, it's not stopping there. And sci fi is about creeping us out with prophecies.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Mike Will

After you have read our host's excellent closure to Asimov's future it's well worth reading

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

I think of it as what Asimov would have written if he had been born about 40 years later

David Brin said...

Psychohistorical Crisis is a science fiction novel by Donald Kingsbury, a fascinating writer... and a flaming romantic oligarch-lackey.

My novel is Foundation's Triumph. Which Janet Asimov said nicely rounded out the canonical Asimovian universe.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundation%27s_Triumph

porohobot said...

\\if we don’t interfere with coal barons, petro-princes and carbon lords raking in billions from their legacy-corrupt extraction rights!

I think, the best counter propaganda for this... could be old USSR movie

Per Aspera Ad Astra / Through the Thorns to the Stars (1981)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Per_Aspera_Ad_Astra_(film)

Where they showed exacly that -- planet where "coal barons, petro-princes and carbon lords" poluted all the planet and make humans live underground and in chemical protective suits all the time... ha, even soviets can be good for something. %)


\\And this is just one caked, pimply crust-symptom of the disease being crammed on us by the spreading War Against Smart People.

I see it another way... it's more like "war among smart people".
As increase of education and free access to information -- create TOO BIG of diversity of notions.
That have no other way around, as to collide all the time. Nudged by blind populist politics.

Oh God, it doesn't mean that I propose "burn up all books" trivia.

As for me, it shows quite urgent need to find some way, clevar tech, policy...
to make smart people cooperate and make things together MORE successfully.

To make us free from inevitable need of external drover,
either in form of busy-man with long bucks or govt "for social equality" grass cutter...

It's also about our small talk with Mike Will about AI.
If we'd learn how to make smart people to cooperate better...
why we'd even want that "Big and Shiny AI thingy to fix all our problems"???

As we would be able to find the clues and to fix it, ourself...
just by means of little collaboration. ;)

Isn't it be good?


\\ (I portrayed this in EXISTENCE.)

There is wrong link. Copy paste of previous about "Curvature of the Earth at Lake Pontchartrain".


\\“It’s changing but no worries and humans didn’t cause it,”

Stupid... and I saw many of smart people who think the same way.
While do not understand a simple thing, that if "humans didn’t cause it" -- it's EVEN WORSE.
It might mean that we probably will not have means to fix it.


\\All of this is deliberate. There is no unified conservative position on anything anymore.

Hardly. I lived in post-soviet, here in 90-teens... it was the same. After break of soviet party there was no "unified position" any more...


\\Intelligent/indulgent, openminded but program-controlling hedonism is better than imbecilic-suicidal, earth-ruining sadism.

That's it. It's what RFia today vs USSR yesterday. Putin is embodiment of BNW.
As one journalist said here
According to Trenin, Russians "no longer recognize U.S. or European moral authority". He said that "from the Russian perspective, there is no absolute freedom anywhere in the world, no perfect democracy, and no government that does not lie to its people. In essence, all are equal by virtue of sharing the same imperfections. Some are more powerful than others, however, and that is what really counts".


\\ Hierarchies will return, most likely in the arrival of mega artificial intelligences.

WAT?!! make you think so?

Duncan Cairncross said...

"and a flaming romantic oligarch-lackey."

That is NOT at all how I read his books!
Although he does talk about just how a democracy could possibly operate with Trillions of people

His other books - like Geta - also explore different organisational possibilities

I would have said that Kingsbury was not at all a "romantic oligarch-lackey" - quite the opposite in fact!

His books have a huge amount of "depth" - very dense in ideas - I find that they reward rereading - as do our hosts but even more so

Larry Hart said...

porohobot in the previous comments:

That EXACTLY what Soviet Union DID... on OWN territory, with OWN people: burning housing, blasting bridges and pillaging factories... and trying hard to destroy even FOOD resources, so that it "ne dostalos vragu"/so that enemy weren't have it,
even if it needed to feed OWN people under occupation.


Yeah, I kinda forgot which "enemy" Hitler would have had in mind.

As usual for Americans, we tend to concentrate on the other front in the war.

Tim H. said...

porhobot, "Ad astra per aspera" is the state motto of Kansas, may they again live up to it.
On climate change, I think it's going to be a multi-generational effort, but the first rule of holes applies and there's a lot of economic potential to be had in rebuilding harbors and decarbonning energy infrastructure. There'd be a sizable stimulus in fixing the leaks in natural gas pipelines alone. And hats off to China, their landing reminds me that R.A.H. wrote that space would be explored, but the explorers might not speak english.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Siri is the beginning of an overseer-butler-majordomo, and that's fine. But oh, it's not stopping there. And sci fi is about creeping us out with prophecies.


There's a reason that "The butler did it" is a thing.

Larry Hart said...

porohobot:

\“It’s changing but no worries and humans didn’t cause it,”

Stupid... and I saw many of smart people who think the same way.
While do not understand a simple thing, that if "humans didn’t cause it" -- it's EVEN WORSE.
It might mean that we probably will not have means to fix it.


That's not a problem for the climate deniers. Their point is that fixing it is expensive, and they don't want to pay. They don't care about the problem itself. "We can't fix it even if we try" is a perfect excuse, from their perspective.


\\Intelligent/indulgent, openminded but program-controlling hedonism is better than imbecilic-suicidal, earth-ruining sadism.

That's it. It's what RFia today vs USSR yesterday. Putin is embodiment of BNW.
As one journalist said here
According to Trenin, Russians "no longer recognize U.S. or European moral authority". He said that "from the Russian perspective, there is no absolute freedom anywhere in the world, no perfect democracy, and no government that does not lie to its people. In essence, all are equal by virtue of sharing the same imperfections. Some are more powerful than others, however, and that is what really counts".


Sounds like loc would be right at home there.

Darrell E said...

Gotta get me one of those S3s. I hope the price comes down a bit over time.

Mike Will said...

Re: Diversity, hierarchies, BNW

Fisher's Theorem is really the heart of natural selection and thus evolution. Hierarchies are not only deduced by a mind or planned out by a bureaucracy. Sometimes they are beautifully built by mindless nature - a termite mound is eerily reminiscent of a city. Ants are a great life form to study. Amazing diversity within a species allows for monstrosities like the scout ant. It contributes nothing to reproduction, rearing, production, etc. But without it, the colony would very dead very fast. Only a scout can explore the edges of the world and survive to tell the tale. Harbingers and treasures are its truck and trade. Fisher basically states that adaptability varies directly with diversity. A small, weird minority is crucial to the survival of any species. Perhaps even multiple minorities in a complex species like humans.

Huxley's family tree is interesting. His grandfather was Thomas Huxley, aka "Darwin's Bulldog". It would be fun to know just how much Darwinian evolution seeped into BNW.

porohobot said...

>> Mike Will said...
\\Fisher's Theorem is really the heart of natural selection and thus evolution.

Is it discussable?

\\Hierarchies are not only deduced by a mind or planned out by a bureaucracy.

They are embodiments of availability of resources.
Like hierarchy of food chain.
And scarcity of resources -- is result of geometrical structure of our Universe.
(as gold miner could find -- that its impossible to staff his bag only with gold... he gonna need some food too. %))


\\Fisher basically states that adaptability varies directly with diversity.

If you add to it Vavilov's thoughts... ;) about "centres of origin" and so on.


>> Larry Hart said...
\\That's not a problem for the climate deniers. Their point is that fixing it is expensive, and they don't want to pay.

I meet no such deniers.
So, to me it looks like "denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance" thing.
That looks like barganing.
While I meet only that within denial and anger steps. %)

\\Sounds like loc would be right at home there.

I proposed it to him already.
Russia Today like american usefull idiots. He can even rise some money.
But could have problems with FBI... but who cares. %)

\\As usual for Americans, we tend to concentrate on the other front in the war.

That's natural, isn't it?

But it adds yet one reason for russians to have grudge against USA.
As if you trying to belittle, falsify and to steal "our Great Victory" in...
even though they do not call it World War (because of need to recognize they been allies with Hitler in such case),
only Great Pathriotic War Against Fascism and For All of Mankind... no less. %)))

Darrell E said...

Mike Will said...

"A small, weird minority is crucial to the survival of any species. Perhaps even multiple minorities in a complex species like humans."

I think "multiple minorities" is a more accurate view than "a small, weird minority." More like genetic variation is distributed among the individuals of a population. A good example, nearly all non-sub-Saharan African modern humans have a tiny bit of Neanderthal genes, average something like 2%. But that 2% is not nearly all the same. Results of studies vary, but somewhere between 40% to 70% of the entire Neanderthal genome is scattered among modern humans in that average 2% per individual.

David Brin said...

Duncan, Don Kingsbury is officially and philosophically libertarian. I call him an oligarchy-lackey because his suspicion of authority reflexes only allow him to notice enemies of freedom to the left. He is utterly incapable of looking at human history and seeing the failure mode of feudalism-cheating.

Porohobot, western media have talked-UP the role of the USSR against Hitler for 30 years now, compensating for earlier neglect. Now it is assumed they did all the work. But more recently we have seen studies of how many Soviet divisions were equipped directly and completely with weapons, trucks and tools sent by the USA. It is a very large fraction.

"It’s amazing enough that any U.S. president would retrospectively endorse the Soviet invasion. What’s even more amazing is that he would do so using the very same falsehoods originally invoked by the Soviets themselves: “terrorists” and “bandit elements."

Read this. Aloud to your aunts. (Your uncles are too far gone.) Putin's parrot now completes the passage of the American Confederacy 180 degrees into a cult defending the USSR. "(Putin) cares a lot about the image of the U.S.S.R. In 2005, Putin described the collapse of the Soviet Union as ...“the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century” He later vowed revenge on Clinton, Obama and Soros for "stealing the Ukraine" from Russia's rightful sphere of dominance. All of these are now demons to the mad-treasonous US right. who devote themselves to service to lenin-raised KGB mafiosi.

Oh, Putin is a genius. his new Iron Curtain stretches from Moscow, Crimea and Ankara through Syria, Iraq and Tehran to the Straits of Hormuz, where his puppet has ordered a vulnerable US carrier strike group to serve as a sitting duck temptation to trigger a US-Iran "war" that can only be won by Russia. (Despite our hard-won energy independence from economic dependance on that awful region.) We might never know how many attempted pretext incitements the Navy has quietly dealt with, frustrating those eager for a "Tonkin" or "Gleiwitz." But God bless the brave, skilled men and women out there with presidentially assigned targets on their chests.

In the 1860s, the Confederacy never got its desperately wanted foreign ally. In this phase, the confederacy has embraced treason-complicity with foreign fascists and mafias actively waging war against us. This truly evil coalition has taken Washington... and we are getting no help from Fox-suckling supposed "patriots." We - the Union - may need to march to the sea. To get our country - and a hopeful, fact-using, rational-sane civilization - back.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/01/trump-just-endorsed-ussrs-invasion-afghanistan/579361/

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin
I have never spoken to the man but his books do show more than a little criticism of the old feudal pattern
In Geta they are using what sounds like your Predictions Register to allocate political power

In Psychohistorical_Crisis he is examining the limitations of democracy
The difficulty of "upsizing" democracy
And we really do need to think about that
Democracy appears to work quite well here on earth in smaller countries - but it appears to be difficult for it to grow
You talked about adding Canada to the USA - and the changes that would cause

How are we going to move forwards? - something like uniting Australia and NZ would appear to be impossible
What is going to happen in the future?
How do we unite the USA, China and the EU into a democratic state?

David Brin said...

The world is getting two of four branches of world government... bureaucracy and courts, though tightly limited and serving stakeholders, not people. The other two branches... legislative and executive... are suppressed, even any talk of it, for one simple reason. Because people around the world would say: "Hey wait a minute, don't we get to vote, then?" Can't have that.

Greg Byshenk said...

I think it is a bit more complicated than that.

To the extent that there are such branches of a 'world government', it is a "government" of states, not of people, and with little actual authority (other than moral).

Any actual government, including a legislative authority, would necessarily involve a delegation of authority and sovereignty, something that people in states are loathe to cede to others. One sees this in current discussions regarding the EU in Europe, and in things like 'Brexit'. Every state, including the USA, wants to be able to 'opt-out' of things that it disagrees with, and that means that so-called "legislation" becomes mere suggestion.

Tony Fisk said...

That hover bike (with rotating ...blades... *under* the driver) looks terrifying.

@Duncan US has ten times the voting population of Australia, but I think problems with any hypothetical amalgamation stem not so much from size as incompatabilities in voting systems.

porohobot said...

>> David Brin said...
\\The world is getting two of four branches of world government... bureaucracy and courts, though tightly limited and serving stakeholders, not people.

Even European Court of Human Rights???

\\The other two branches... legislative and executive... are suppressed, even any talk of it, for one simple reason.

One Law for Everyone? Isn't it sounds Empire-like?

\\Because people around the world would say: "Hey wait a minute, don't we get to vote, then?" Can't have that.

Yeah... to vote for someone with bigger mouth, who will proclaim "more pittances for everyone". You just don't know what REAL populism is.

For example, here in Ukraine, we have one long thriving candidate for presidency (if here'd be only one such dumbass %)) who honestly thinking and propose to people -- if only she'd have authority over National Bank -- she'll fix ALL the problems of the country in a minute... by running up banknote printing machine.


\\Porohobot, western media have talked-UP the role of the USSR against Hitler for 30 years now, compensating for earlier neglect. Now it is assumed they did all the work. But more recently we have seen studies of how many Soviet divisions were equipped directly and completely with weapons, trucks and tools sent by the USA. It is a very large fraction.

It's the same here. Role of Land-Lease only begins to hatch out from under the thick crust of soviet propaganda.
And RFia's govnment officials trying hard to reverse this trend.
By throwing in yet more falsified, yet more loud propaganda of "Our Great Victory".
e.g. Minister of Culture (sic!!!) of RFia Medinsky said something like
"historical facts doesn't matter... what really matters is Holy Legend, that need to be feed to people, to make next generation of real patriots"(sic!!!).

But... the same time. I clearly see from where it do come. And why such propaganda working.
For example -- I often see on TV very good, very professionally made, documentaries about WWII... where told all about War in Pacific, about "D" day and freeing of France...

But, there NO... not equally good, but even just somewhat good documentaries about East Front.

Instead of it, RFia's pours money in making fantasy-like movies about War...
parroting blockbusters like "Fury"... and thinking like "Yeah, look how we outrun that stupid pindoses... their bloody Hollywood TOO, he-he-he!". %)))


\\Aloud to your aunts.
(Your uncles are too far gone.)

How do you know???! %)


All below is your homeland problems... how could I comment on it?


>> Duncan Cairncross said...
\\Democracy appears to work quite well here on earth in smaller countries - but it appears to be difficult for it to grow

What makes democracy grow -- it's economy.
So... one who want to rise democracy -- need to know and to use laws of economy well.

\\ EU into a democratic state?

EU already is such state. Look and learn from EU.(even if it not so good... it's rare and unique example on the Earth)

porohobot said...

I couldn't help it. I NEED to comment on *this*.


\\...vulnerable US carrier strike group...

Yep,yep... very vulnerable, as vulnerable as pink dressed pony princess... in the middle of Times Square.

And totally unsusceptible of any possible threat, yeah...

two little gun boats, tug boat and 24 sailors... in tightly controlled Kerch Strait

against Black See Fleet of RFia, their ground based anti-ship missles, their air forces...
without ANY possibility of back up or even reliable uplink to HQ.

But this 24 ukrainians ARE NOT sissies. They came there. And they perform great.


It's exactly THAT chicken attitude MAKES Putin feel SO strong. Understanding that he can just say "Boo!" and all proud of yourself NATO armies... will shudder and flea before his face.

It's making me feel mad. %(((((

Mike Will said...

Re: diversity

Advanced governments and institutions sometimes apply the "tenth man principle". This is a form of "Devil's Advocate" whereby some small part of the analysis/decision team is split off from the main group and tasked with consideration of contrarian perspective (even that of the adversary if need be). This seems to me to be a bureaucratic application of Fisher's theorem. I know I keep harping on Asimov's psychohistory, but it's mostly because he (and our host) hit on the most important concept in the history of history (sorry SETI), and the world just rushed past it in the endless pursuit of shiny objects.

Calculemus!

Larry Hart said...

@Mike Will,

Asimov's books made great use of the concept of psychohistory as an abstract plot device. I'm not sure he did as good a job of letting us see just what axioms and theorems of psychohistory would actually look like. He tried a bit in one of his later "young Hari Seldon" books to describe Hari's inspiration after hearing of a guy was embarrassed to touch a girl's leg at a party even though the guy had done so at the beach, but I found that example to be inadequate to what I had been looking for.

Every once in awhile, some idea about human nature comes up that makes me wonder if it would make a good axiom of psychohistory. For example, the fact that over time, the electorate tends toward a 50/50 split between two extreme parties.

Anonymous said...

\\Asimov's books made great use of the concept of psychohistory as an abstract plot device. I'm not sure he did as good a job of letting us see just what axioms and theorems of psychohistory would actually look like.

1. It need millions of planets for that predictions of psychohistory would be for sure and not some sheer probabilities.

2. It need some "role of the person in history" plot, which can manage time and place of its intervantion with utmost precision.

3. One who want to choose the path of history -- must be hidden from its general flow.

Larry Hart said...

@Anonymous,

You list some conditions under which psychohistory would function. What I was looking for was something different, though. Something along the lines of laws of physics such as:

Acceleration = Force times Mass
or
An object at rest or in motion or at rest stays at rest or in motion until acted on by an outside force

What would some of the equivalent "laws of psychohistory" look like?

I'll grant we got a bit of a taste in Foundation and Empire with the bit about weak or strong generals and weak or strong emperors. That was an after-the-fact explanation by a lay person, though. We didn't see that it was actually a law of psychohistory (although in retrospect, it must have been one).

Mike Will said...

@LH

Whenever someone asks me what I want for Christmas, I reply "A Prime Radiant"

My eldest son (economics, history, math grad) knows what I mean. Everyone else just gives me a blank stare or eye roll :)

Larry Hart said...

Mitch McConnell spouts nonsense:
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/03/us/politics/mcconnell-senate-republicans-shutdown.html

“I’ve made it clear on several occasions, and let me say it again: The Senate will not take up any proposal that does not have a real chance of passing this chamber and getting a presidential signature,” Mr. McConnell said. “Let’s not waste the time.


He'd have a point if Benedict Donald didn't change his position too often to keep track of. If McConnell would just remember back to when the earth was cooling last month, Trump did say he would sign the bill that the Senate passed, only to renege at the last minute when the time came. There's literally no way to know what has a "real chance" of getting a presidential signature.

The only possible strategy, even from a Republican POV, is to pass something and then see if he'll sign it. Trying to nail down the signature before passing something is self-evidently a mug's game.

matthew said...

The only way to see if Trump will sign something is to see what Limbaugh,Hannity,Coulter, and Jones think of it. A very small handful of very toxic pundits are the only advisers that Trump listens to.
Trump went from saying he would sign a temp measure to denying it based on a Limbaugh rant.

Oh, and the discussion regarding WHERE Trump is getting the pro-Soviet propaganda is an interesting one. Is he talking directly to Putin? No American conservative pundit was making such claims before the President spoke on the subject, and it was only a couple of months ago that the Kremlin started trying to rehabilitate the Afghanistan invasion of 79. My guess is Trump is getting the idea from Gorka (who is getting the idea from his Hungarian ties, who are getting it from Putin...), but Putin himself is an interesting idea. I highly recommend Johnathan Chait on this one.

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/01/trump-defends-soviet-invasion-of-afghanistan-for-some-reason.html

porohobot said...

Good historical survey

What Russia really wants

...
Quartz: Can you describe Putin’s worldview? What is he aiming for in his foreign policy?

Zygar: His ideal is some kind of new world order. He wants a second Yalta; as in 1944, when Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin came together in Crimea and divided the world into different spheres of influence. That was a symbol of the strength of those three major powers. He wants to be a major power to control the world; to have a permanent seat in that order. Every time he hears from foreign partners that, ‘That’s not what we do now, there are no more spheres of influence in today’s world,’ he thinks that he is being cheated by foreign politicians who are pretending to be idealistic and pretending to focus on human rights and liberal values. He thinks that’s obviously not true. NATO still exists—why does it still exist if there are no spheres of influence?

He wants to have partners who share his rather cynical and pragmatic approach; a kind of board of directors of the world, where he’s got a permanent seat and can discuss everything with the US president, Chinese chairman, and probably the German chancellor. Obviously, the UN Security Council was supposed to be that kind of board but it doesn’t work anymore. So he wants new rules of the game that would admit that he’s a key player.

He sees himself as the most experienced politician in the world.

...
It’s very important to know how [Russian politicians] usually discuss things:...
...
After that, he didn’t want to see the middle class as his power base, he focused much more on “ordinary people”—the working class or the Russian equivalent of rednecks. They are much more conservative, much less successful. Among those people, the idea of Russia as a superpower is much more popular.
...
When all the international media speak about Putin as the most powerful man in the world, the man who manipulates US elections or French elections, the man who controls the American president—that’s the best news they can get. That makes some people feel happy...

David Brin said...


“Yeah... to vote for someone with bigger mouth, who will proclaim "more pittances for everyone". You just don't know what REAL populism is.”

It is a cliché to claim “the people” always vote themselves gifts from the treasury. In the US the people party has always been fiscally more responsible and the oligarchs vote themselves tax gifts.

Mitch McConnell spouts nonsense:
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/03/us/politics/mcconnell-senate-republicans-shutdown.html
“I’ve made it clear on several occasions, and let me say it again: The Senate will not take up any proposal that does not have a real chance of passing this chamber and getting a presidential signature,” Mr. McConnell said. “Let’s not waste the time.

The laziest congresses in the history of the republic. Snork.

Mike Will said...

To the Senator: say it with me: A-r-t-i-c-l-e O-n-e

porohobot said...

\\It is a cliché to claim “the people” always vote themselves gifts from the treasury.

Nonetheless it is the actual history. And quite recent one. For me. And my country.
That dumbass politic was our premier 10 years ago.
Famous by: showing of on the public, blaming and trying to coup against president which was her partner during hard elections, known to you maybe as Maidan 2004 or Orange Revolution and was fired,
then... came to be premier yet one time via collusion with her sworn enemies,
and tryed to seize National Bank, signed neck-strangling gas contracts with Moscow,
created big budgetary deficit tryed to fix it with biggest external credits,
while paying to common people 1000 hryvnas (about 200$ that time) of pittance in count of non-existant USSR bank deposits... and so on.

So... multiply your current problems 10x, or maybe 100x...
and you'll see what problems encounter all other world,
not blessed to live in N.America. %(

That world, you are so eager to enlight with "people around the world would say: "Hey wait a minute, don't we get to vote, then?""...

Oh, and that... that problem with not having budget after New Year... we have had it for many years. But we cured from it... somehow. Maybe because of imminent threat of war at our gate. %(((

jim said...

If you take Surplus Energy Economics seriously, you have an understanding of why there was such an increase in prosperity over the last couple of centuries. (basically, there was a massive increase in the surplus energy per capita.) And why there have been growing problems in the western world sense about 2000 and why the prospects for the global future look very problematic. We are now in a situation were the surplus energy per capita (a.k.a. prosperity) on a global basis is now falling.

Over at Surplus Energy Economics

https://surplusenergyeconomics.wordpress.com/

Tim Morgan newest post is on how taxes fit into this picture, and it is not pretty. Basically if taxes stay the same (as a portion of GDP) while prosperity (surplus energy per capita) is decreasing discretionary income takes a big hit. Tim calculates for France after tax prosperity has fallen by 38% sense 2001. It is no wonder that the yellow jackets took to the streets.

porohobot said...

Wrong statement

\\Soviet citizens began demanding the right to speak the truth, not only about the war in Afghanistan, but about all Soviet reality.

It was NOT demand of people.
It just new General Secretary Gorbachov... have had too loose grip on power.
(because he was not one of zubres of Politburo and have little apparat power)

So he proclaimed "Perestroika" to appeal to simple people of USSR.

But then... "something gone not right" (tm).


Why I comment that excerpt here.
Because it strikingly showing lack of understanding of USSR/RFia realities in USA...


And yeah... I think it's Putin's doing. It's him who drop that "lapsha"/noodles on Trump ears.
Probably then, in Helsinki.

Because there is NO such motive in INTERNAL RFia's propaganda.
They strongly DO NOT like to mention "Afgan" there.

So... it could be the same as:
"""
Putin didn’t foist alcohol on Bush, a reformed heavy drinker, but instead told a miraculous story about his mother’s crucifix being the only thing left over when his summer house burned down. So charmed was the American president, a fervent Christian, that he remarked, “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul.”
"""

matthew said...

And in happier thoughts - Brian May's (Queen) soundtrack for New Horizons.

For those that didn't know, Dr. May got his PhD in astrophysics after a 30 year hiatus from grad school to pursue his other career.

https://slate.com/technology/2019/01/brian-may-queen-mu69-new-horizons-ultima-thule-song.html

Larry Hart said...

to matthew's point above:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/04/us/politics/democrats-trump-meeting-government-shutdown.html

Sean Hannity, a Fox News commentator close to Mr. Trump, may have signaled a way out, when he suggested on his program Thursday night that the president resurrect the old Democratic notion of twinning wall funding and protecting from deportation young immigrants brought illegally to the country as children, so-called Dreamers.


So in other words, this option has become possible because Hannity gave Trump permission.

#SAD!

Anonymous said...

If Trump is taking his queues from a few commentators, then that combined with the increasing use of deepfake videos suggests a useful hack. If some deep-pocketed techie could do a deepfake of one of Trump's favourite Alt-Right loonies actually espousing sensible policies, and slip it into Trump's newsfeed (but no one else's) then good things might happen without anyone knowing why :-)

jim said...

I do think that the Democrats are going to impeach Trump....
Next year.

This year is all about investigations but next year, start the proceedings in the house in the spring time and then send it over to the senate in the Summer.

If McConnell refuses to bring up impeachment then every senate republican running for office will need to explain why they are adding and abetting Trumps Treason.
Also when the Democrats win the Presidency they should take away the security clearance of every republican who helped cover up Trump's crimes and brand those people enemies of the United States publically and repeatedly.


(also Democrats should also start referring to the shutdown as Putin's Shutdown of the US Government.)

Larry Hart said...

jim:

I do think that the Democrats are going to impeach Trump....
Next year.

This year is all about investigations but next year, start the proceedings in the house in the spring time and then send it over to the senate in the Summer.


Why would they spend energy and possibly give voters a bad taste to impeach someone who has to run for election at the same time? If the public is about to re-elect Trump, they won't be charitable towards those trying to impeach. And if they're not, then let the electorate do it.

I don't see what you think the Democrats would view as an upside to impeachment in summer 2020.

porohobot said...

Curious idea came to me.

We humans are too inclined to absolutes. And as results of my other thoughts...
it could be so, because of linear structure of how we speak -- really, we have only one mouth. ;)

So, I quickly come to... what if, it is a plot of sifi novel? It's easier to explore ideas in such a way.

It can be first contact with ET.
But I more prefer super-Earth premise.
Then, it'll be like all ancient stories: of greeks about people with two heads, two tongues, medieval maps with territories where dog-headed people live,
will be true.
And we can show how such different species were colliding from very early times.

Really. In our cultures "double" have not so good connotations: double speak, double bind... even double blind maybe not so well known because of it.

Because it have negative meaning -- to be a lie. Like, literary, have two tongues -- be a liar.

But what with culture, where people have TWO speaking systems.
For them, people with just ONE voice obviously would be seen as impaired and/or (half)dumb.
And... people which have, or trying to speak "in one voice" -- would be the bad people.
Because they'd be greatly biased against any signs of unison.

What art could have such people. What science. What world view(s)... as it for sure they will be plural in it.

And what biases could they have... so for my non-refined taste %) "Double blind" could be a great title to start.

Twominds said...

@porohobot

Interesting idea! What would being in two minds about something mean for them? Would it be their ordinary state of being? Instead of being in a dubio that should be resolved, as the main meaning is here?

Mike Will said...

@Dr. Brin
I've read your 1984 vs BNW thoughts early in this discussion several times, esp the dream of leaving hierarchies behind. I have not responded simply because I agree entirely and wholeheartedly. Ideology has failed utterly. Hopefully machines will help us. That was certainly Asimov's (and others') hope.

"Intelligent/indulgent, openminded but program-controlling hedonism is better than imbecilic-suicidal, earth-ruining sadism." - that's a keeper

@porohobot
One of the main self-therapies I employed for stroke recovery (temporary loss of speech) a long time ago was to play with Morse code to 'open a second communications channel'.

To have another language is to possess a second soul. - Charlemagne

porohobot said...

Of course, things like "two minds in one body" and/or "second communication channel" could be researched in such novel too.

But main part, it's about way of speaking.

We, with our one mouth can say it only linear -- first say A, then B, then C.

But this people can say two things simultaneously.
And what it'll add to semantics?

Simplest example.

A part says: "I smiling"
B part says: "I smiling"

It's easy to see what it could mean -- joy, happiness, etc.
Or.

A: "I crying"
B: "I crying"

It's definitly sorrow, grief, etc.

But what rich possibilities and details of meaning would give just a simple permutations.

A: "I smiling"
B: "I crying"

Its already is some ambivalent situation. Which shows that there is something bad, unfair happens.

I think such beings would be more capable of logic too.

Because simplest logical structure -- syllogism, consist of two elements with reciprocal dependency.
And it is not easy to humans, with their linear single-mindness, to grok that connection.
To quickly forget A part, while listening/saying/hearing B part.

But for this people it would be easy as cake... they'll just hear that there is something wrong, illogicaly sounding was said.

porohobot said...

Or. For example.

How would ordinary hunter story would look like.

A: I run -> I throw spear -> I stop, seeking the spear

B: Deer run -> Deer dodges it -> Deer ran away

What would need a lot of gesticulation for human hunter... could be described in words only and much shortly.

Donald Gisselbeck said...

Trying to argue on facebook with flat earthers and space as CGI people is providing amusing distraction from the doings of the thin-skinned doofus. (I was told you can't see Venus in the dark, shortly after admiring it while doing chores in the dark.) It has also been educational. I didn't know about Arthur Compton quantifying the earth's rotation with a liquid-filled torus.
I'm not sure how many of these posts are from bots. Those that appear immediately probably are, but I think the person claiming his blurry pictures of the planets are the only real ones may be live.

David Brin said...

onward

onward