Friday, June 7, 2024

Exhausting AI

I want to focus on a small set of the absurdities of so-called Artificial Intelligence. I'm motivated in the first place by some misapprehension about what general intelligence is and isn't. Human intelligence, for instance, can't be understood apart from random. Random is that uncontrollable part of reality, which human intelligence deals with reactively and/or intuitively. There is emotion involved.

Sometimes humans proactively measure how the future is likely to be disposed and change present decisions accordingly, in a proactive way. The decision is only logical if there is time for that. Otherwise, I would contend that it's mostly emotional. We'd never survive if all our decisions were made logically. 

Now, I'm sure that computer-based AI can also deal with slings and arrows, perhaps even better than humans can. Perhaps it will be enough better than humans to price out human reaction, no matter the cost in electrical power and design to prime our intuition pumps with artifice. The trouble is that once the raw speed of AI decidering takes over, emotion will be essentially banished from our world.

I have maintained for quite a while that AI doesn't and didn't start with computers. AI is the kind of intelligence to which we delegate our human choices when we wish to take credit for our good luck on the basis of our cleverness. Sometimes, while knowing the morally good choice, we make the clever choice to advance our individual interests. 

This is what our economy is designed to reward, and most of us are familiar with the blowhards who claim credit for their inherited social capital, which includes social placement, good luck, and frankly for their vacuity in the morality department. 

Artificial intelligence leaves no room for morality in decision-making, except in the extremis of legal sanctions against certain plays, and possibly when morality can be reduced to a set if rules for compliance. But legality and rule-making is its own realm of AI, not able to touch the global decision-making which most, or at least many, of us still leave to the Gods. 

But the Gods won't decide such things as how ridiculous it is to build electric vehicle recharging stations along the interstates. Sure, if mandate number one is to preserve private vehicle saturation, which it certainly is in our economy, then it only makes sense to get them on the prized contributor to the economy from the military-industrial complex, which is the Interstate Highway System.

From a more human perspective, it surely makes more sense to retrofit those rights of way with comfortable high-speed rail. Leave the electric vehicles for those benighted souls who still want to live in the suburbs, and leave the smartphone distributed autonomous vehicles for the urban centers. Make them mostly trolleys, please.

If you're lucky enough to be a C-level deciderer, you know that it would be considered immoral of you to forgo the collective, corporate, interest according to your personal or religious morality. You only job is to maximize profits, though that might be accomplished by pleasing a certain religiously guided segment of your customer base. 

While what we mean traditionally by religion is dying, we collectively behave in ways concordant with religious empires just simply because no matter how sophisticated we think that we've become, we have as much ability to trust our collective knowledge as we did before Darwin when we trusted religious authorities. Where's the progress, I ask. 

For good reason, we've tried to ban religious thinking from the marketplace, from the education space, and especially from government. The trouble is that we don't know what to do about morality short of the law. Or long of the law, if you will. 

Now for certain, I think that the notion of a personal god has become nutty, but not quite so nutty as the notion that there is no god. And I don't mean a God, which tends toward nutty but God. As in there is God. 

You can say it's just lazy to attribute to God what is beyond humans, but really that's only if you think humans are ultimately capable of understanding everything. Which would mean, ultimately, to banish random except as a mathematical concept. Which is probably the same thing as to banish God, since many of us find God in the distinction between random events which make no difference, and random events which do. We're somehow supposed to believe, scientifically, that it's wrong to attribute meaning to happenstance. I think that's a rule impossible to follow myself. 

Let's take if for granite [sic] that machines don't fall in love. While machines having a certain sort of sophistication to their logic pumps, their LLMs, might imitate forms of language or music or imagery which trigger emotional response in humans, those machines themselves are never taken in.

Now, jumping ahead of myself for a moment, do we really wish to live in a universe of what used to be called MUZAK (c) ?? Surely AI can anticipate our emotional responses better than any superstar, especially when that superstar is immediately digested by the AI replicating monster.

Machines aren't taken in, in part, at least, because of an inbred inability to make decisions by random selection. At it's extreme, that's because digital is cut off from that continuum which living creatures are part of and not apart from the way that AI is, by definition. 

Sure, throw in random from the "real world" beyond the AI and you can get something that might nearly replicate the processes of evolution, for example. But apart from the performative sort of falling in love, which arguably most humans practice now, especially given the ubiquity of performative sex on screens everywhere, there won't be any machine falling in love. Whoops, I've turned you off!

It's funny, in a weird way, that those of us who grew up under the shadow of the scary population bomb have now been presented with an equally scary baby-shortage bomb, itself under the shadow of the climate bomb. 

Our economy depends, in addition to amoral AI, on perpetual growth. At its root remains perishable humans. Perishable humans who can't separate the mechanics of sex from the emotions of sexual engagement, and ultimately, of reproduction.

I know that sounds primitive of me. I wish to say precisely nothing about the amorality of hooking up, of trans sex, of recreational sex whatever gender to whichever. Those things don't quite make it into my morality either. 

I'm just talking about the necessary and eternal connection between whatever it is that we feel in communion with our fellow humans, and whatever it is that we physically do. Love can take at least as many forms as cultures, languages, and people do. At root, there has to be some sort of reproductive process for life to be life. 

It is my contention that the overall trajectory of life is in a direction informed by love. I mean evolution in the largest possible sense. This direction has been disturbed by the forces of AI for only a few hundred years by now. Call them the years of apocalypse if you must, but the form and nature of that darned apocalypse keeps shifting, doesn't it?

The big BIG question is how are we to collectively decide anything anymore? I guess the good news is that we are in a massive liminal zone, which is wherefrom all life has always evolved. Think beaches and tides. Earth and sky. Beneath and beyond the bozone, er, ozone layer. 

Frankly all of our weirdness can be reduced to idiotic notions of individualism. The great thing about the great transformative NOW is that the skin is dissolving before our very eyes. ASMR, sure, but we don't feel a thing anymore. 

Here are some of my own practices in service to the collective good. They all seem to have the quality of having been internalized as disgust. Sort of like the digust we would feel while eating shit, but less natural than that. 

So, I can't drink Coke. If I must drink it, it tastes as good to me as it does to you, but given that I don't and can't know everything that's in it, I get more pleasure from a splash of orange juice into soda water. If I could afford it, and it didn't cost so much transportation-based wastage, I might use Perrier water, but it does so I won't.

I can't purchase plastic bags or plastic wrap, though I do clean and use the stuff that's thrust on me in the form of leftovers. I see no actual need for these things, and I feel a kind of disgust with myself to use them. 

I won't ever buy an electric car, basically because those seem to have more power to continue our addiction to automobiles than gas cars do. Sadly, I can only imagine the actual joy of plentiful and comfortable public transportation. I could use the social interaction. I love driving, though, and like a gun owner you can pry the wheel from my cold dead hands, or I'll gladly relinquish my car if you help me vote for more and better public transportation. Meanwhile I need a stick shift and the sense that I'm doing the driving. I can't imagine any other reason to want a car. I know a million reasons for needing a car, but we need to vote those out of existence.

My route to not feeling fretful or guilty all the time is to imagine that the God resolution when it comes, will look nothing like the human resolution. We obviously can't decide to end global warming. But the decision will be foisted upon us willy-nilly. Will it be population collapse? Shipping breakdown for political reasons? Hatred and warfare because of the obscenity of intrageneralational wealth transfer combined with s shrinking ratio of beneficiaries per decedent? Some seventy trillion dollars going from lots of baby-boomers to far fewer offspring.

We're already almost crippled - politically we are crippled - by all the hatred caused by the ambiguities of received truth. Meaning that we don't know who to trust, and gather toward those whose beliefs most match our own. We use things like race and culture and religion to mark our enemies. Surely that collective force will overwhelm any goodwill we might muster. 

And yet through it all there will still be love and life and happiness and sadness. Hanging on to what we have now, no matter how comfortable we think it is, is not going to make anyone happy. In very simple terms, the comforts we crave - in the same way we crave a Coke - are not sustainable. 

But many these are artificial comforts, not even worthy of the name. The real comforts are love and security and warmth and a full stomach. The gizmos and gadgets and happy-making machines just don't cut it against those basics. The more duress we bring on to the whole, the less the distinctions among us will mean anything. A wealthy person on his yacht or in his bunker is just as dead as the rest of us once the seas are roiling and the skies are hot and dry.

The sun will come up tomorrow, and many of us will still find reason to think that the likes of Trump are other than a psychopathic con artist. In the collective, we are truly no smarter than the rest of the animal mass combined. In the collective, we are Leviathan gulping oil. We take credit ourselves, never crediting God for the challenge. Shall we blame God for the fall?

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

The Insanity of Panpsychism and Metaphysical Idealism

For some reason that I can't quite fathom, there have been a lot of articles in the popular press lately about either or both of Panpsychism and Metaphysical Idealism. I suspect it's because they don't threaten a thing about the status quo. We're all afraid of antiracism anymore. Or anything which can be polarized.

Of course, I find these approaches to metaphysics plenty attractive. But they don't really change anything, except to get rid of the same Occam's Razor rule breaking idiocy that they replace with a still worse violation. By calling everything conscious, one doesn't solve anything about the human brand of consciousness, which is so obviously singular. By calling all reality "mind" one finds oneself in the same place. These thinkers just simply can't do both/and. 

Mind and consciousness are distinguished in nearly the same way that material reality is distinguished from woo woo reality. It changes nothing to claim universality to either of these words. There are no new strategies available to test and to understand reality. Calling both or either universal qualities is an unnecessary all or nothing play. Dangerous for that.

Now of course, nobody's asking me, and nobody's going to ask me, but if you ask me, these approaches can only come from people who know far too much. Meaning that they have dived too deeply into one discipline or another and have more they need to get rid of (but can't let go of) before allowing for more radical interpretations such as the one that I would propose. 

I'm suggesting that emotion is the universal they should be looking at. There's no real woo woo about emotion other than the evident fact that it can't be measured materially, and that it's been assigned to the realm of qualia, whose existence I contest right along with Daniel Dennett, although I'm not quite so atheistic as he and the other storied four, now three R.I.P. horsemen are. 

My fundamental knowledge that God is real is based only on the conviction that we're not ever going to understand everything, nor are any of our successors or assigns even if evolution does somehow keep going. Humanity as we now construe it is the only full stop to that. On par with such other extinction events as meteor crashes or solar death, if far more premature and technically avoidable. Which means that anthropogenic stoppage is no random matter. 

To reiterate again what absolutely nobody seems to get, I'm defining emotion as the felt pseudo motion of conceptual arrangements. Never mind qualia, concepts are real, and are related to material reality by the fact that we need material approximations of conceptual arrangements in order to be able to speak of them. Take circles and squares, for instance, or any old idea for that matter. There are no ideas which exist in material reality. There is no idea of a tiger, but our decision making emotive reaction depends on having that generalization in mind. Logic is far too slow to deploy in the face of emergent reality. Logic is required only to lay the foundation for emotive choice.

Squares transforming to circles elicit about as much human emotion as would a dandelion show evidence of consciousness. Dandelions don't react or respond to generalizations, though they sure do elicit an emotional response among humans, depending on all sorts of associations. 

Yes, Virginia, art is at the root of humanity, and no other species. We live now almost entirely bereft of art, having replaced it by artifice, so long as the artificial has economic valence. The emotions we feel toward money matters are approximately as profound and bereft of actual evaluation as are our political feelings, depending as they do on very bad actors.

Go red! Go blue! I prefer football for that stuff, and my team is both red and blue.

I'll keep pounding on these things until the moment I die, I'm sure. But no worries, that event won't be any further away than the apocalypse you all believe in but don't know what to do about, or our collective awakening, which will happen willy-nilly. Whichever comes first. Our collective behaviors just now are atrocious, but then we've never been so collective as a species until so very recently. 

Don't go blaming yourself as a member of my species. You have no more real choice than does a dandelion. The story of Jesus taught us choice, if we could only jettison the claptrap about how special we are as individuals. We are nothing as individuals unless we get it together. That's the rest of the story. 

As my mom, Virginia, always said, it's darkest before the dawn. True that!

Thursday, May 30, 2024

AI Can't Legislate Morality Either

Wasn't Holmes Jr. the author of that quote? I have it on the authority of my brother, a lawyer, that he was. Google says it's MLK Jr. My brother could always beat me up, even though I was bigger than him. He played football, I was a swimmer. Game over. He must be right!

Well in any case it's probably just law school shorthand lore. One gets the general idea, except when my lawyer daughter speaks in-group shorthand, like crimpro (I made that one up). 

Remember when Google was going to scan all the books ever published, and make it like a public service. That all went the way of 'don't be evil,' didn't it? Now we have NYT suing ChatGPT for pilfering their words along the way to training the bot, whose innards are as opaque as those of the human brain. Who knew?

Might we now depend on AI to skirt the copyright boundaries. What will be lost? Like we family share a bunch of film streaming services and feel downright rooked when they start surveilling and putting ads back in. Which was the whole point, right? 

But who, really can police this stuff? The Times also provokes me with AI as a threat to C-level types. And in the same issue (what's an issue anymore, really?) talks about how we win wars when they're truly existential. Meaning some general makes the call to kill large numbers of civilians. Destroy the morale of the enemy hoards. Nuke 'em. 

Holmes was the champion of the common law, right? It's what the people decide and it might not always comport to what philosophers of morality would decide. 

But CEO's have always been paid, and ever more exorbitantly now, for putting aside any concern for the patsy on whose brash enthusiasms their corporate selfie thrives. There is such a clear price now for amorality! Sick. According to Tooze, only the computations for 'evil bitcoinage' exceed the computing costs for AI training. Maybe CEOs will be the first to fall? The only ones worth the sacrifice, at the outset.

At elite colleges now, the Times also tells me, it's politically correct to boast about selling out. Grab you bag (of loot!) and take your prize. I'm telling you as a prolapsed Yalie that this is same as it ever was. No news fit for print. The local paper offers an ad-free account now, thought up by their national handler. So low have ad revenues fallen.

I know from my ex father-in-law that newspapers were so very recently among the most profitable to the tune of fifty percent businesses to own. No wonder Buffet, not Jimmy, owned ours for so long. So long! Newspaperman Commander Tom has his funeral today, may he rest in peace.

I tend to blame the degenerated system of public education, and I don't mean what you mean religionists, which in turn tends to blame the degeneration of the family, for the inchoate idiocy of Trump and his followers. Have any of them read any history? Ever? Or does the rot start at the top?

But hey, you know, that particular branch of the hoi polloi may be more emotionally intelligent than the rest of us. They know that something stinks in Denmark. Nuke it, they say, not entirely unreasonably. They smell an existential threat when they hear it.

Frankly, my dear, we don't give a damn. We have no good theory about what we're leaving out when we experiment with general intelligence. Well, I say, take a look at the world as a whole and you'll get the idea. 

Our media, whose eyeball grabbers have been artificially intelligent for eons, have finally polarized and bifurcated us to final death. Like a splitting amoeba, we glom to sides defined by guns and pollution without nuance for civil discussion. Red team blue team red pill blue, it's all that's left of me and you!

The law apparently has nothing much to say against allowing a proto-fascist to run for office, just because so many people place themselves inside his blob. I might almost agree that zero intelligence Trumps artificial intelligence every time, but for the evident fact that this guy's a psychopath who cares only for himself apart from performative displays of pseudo-passion. What we've come to expect from any politician.

Now hey, have I got a show for you! Mad Max on steroids, as if you could press that franchise any further. Max kicked me off on my Roku, but I was able to finish on my phone. Mad dash to the promised land. We may not have a good theory for what intelligence really is, just like we may not have a good theory for what morality is, just like we don't have a good theory for what emotion is.

Here's a good ol' college try: Emotion is that aspect of intelligence which artificial intelligence lacks. I say the lack is by definition, since logic reduced to binary bits is cut off from the factual integration of everything with everything else. 

Sure, a good CEO makes his best decisions by the seat of his pants. Take Steve Jobs, please. Oh wait, he's already taken. Like a great quarterback, you have to master the game and then you have to make the plays by feel. Computers don't feel a thing.

Who knows how the brain works, but however it works the brain is embodied, just like the body is embodied by the all. Decisions are the least of what the brain does, bogged down as it is with setting the stage from experience. Experience is built on moving about in the world and discovering commonalities with all else that lives. There is terminal sadness in the proliferation of plastics from oil, Benjamin, and not just in the form of global warming. Tools in the hand have been retracted onto a screen so that we may compute any structure that we can imagine. 

This is the root cause of our degeneration. Even Trumpers know that. Especially Trumpers. Which is a taboo subject on my side of the Great Divide. 

Fuck, I'm old. Just moving is painful. I have to hand it to those two soon-former guys as they keep up their marathon attendance on their roles. I watched the Buffalo marathon the other day. There's nothing there - there's nothing anywhere which could draw me into that pursuit. Painful just to watch. A woman who looked to be 80 jogged past with with numbered bib as I strolled toward the starting gun. Just wanting to witness the big bang. I walked a half marathon that day as a lonely spectator. Paying for it still.

So we still witness life, even though we might no longer participate in it. Even though our earth is almost fully constructed now. Even though we nurse dreams of travel through the Dune-scape of outer space. We mimic down here on earth now, the uncrossable distance one to the next as is the mandate of our economic totalitarianism. If you are not an individual you are nothing to the marketplace. A worthless cog. 

But we ain't dead yet. I don't know why, with the endlessness of unreachable space and its endless population of similarities, we think, against the laws of physics, that we're going to make contact with other life. We can't even make contact with one another here on earth. 

Get it together and God will be known to us once again. Not a god, or The God, but God, that remainder beyond our understanding which always defines the here and now.

Over and out. Roger that. There are so many ways to terminate. Not so many ways to live. At least we're all together now. One vessel. We made it ourselves. Let's get it together.

Or as my granddaughter sings, 'row row row your boat . . . '  I'll learn the ropes some day, even as it kills me. Hey, automatic life preservers are on sale! Yippee, hooray, wahoo!

Sunday, April 28, 2024

A General Theory of Love

A General Theory of LoveA General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was alerted to this book a while ago, but only recently found it in the library. It’s not a new book, and it remains very brain-centric, which makes it, to me, somewhat obsolete. But then we’re all more brain-centric than ever, now fairly obsessed with intelligence, natural and artificial.

By brain-centric, I mean that we still imagine that our thinking and feeling both happen somehow *in* the brain. That is where we locate our consciousness, likely mostly because of the brain's proximity to our most basic senses.

A less brain-centric understanding of the brain might conceptualize it as more of a switchboard to orchestrate the interactions of our body-boundaries with the world we live in. Such a view would make the mind more of a microcosm than a computer; our contemporary machine metaphor for how things work. The mind and body interact, and emotion was never absent. Heck, emotion also pervades the cosmos. We just can't see it yet.

Of course, clever though we certainly are, our intelligence, highly untempered by love, is destroying us even as it elevates us. This book was instrumental in foreshadowing the impending paradigm shift we so ardently resist.

As Lewis demonstrates and insists, emotion is in no way subordinate or merely ancillary to intelligence at the core of what makes us human. We perish as easily from love’s lack as we do from stupidity.

To call it what it is, the behavior of our economic and political leaders is hateful. They celebrate a kind of disembodied merit, which discounts kindness as but a sales booster. They treat the symptoms of the dispossessed by drugs and prison in what is revealed by this book to be a vicious cycle which starts with being too desperate for survival to afford love.

Nobody but what we call the one percent now benefits from this ardor. The rest of us make do with bread and puppets between our overtime labor gigs in someone else’s interest.

Where is the love?

Well it’s been papered over by false passions for personal gain. We should know better; that there is no person without the social, and there is no social without emotional bonds.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Civil War

My daughter sent around this well-reasoned and alarming article from the New Republic. It sent me into a bit of a tailspin, especially as it was immediately followed, in my reading adventures, with notice of a new film called Civil War. How many of us will now be picturing fraternal warfare in our minds? The referenced article outlines four possible outcomes for the fall election, none of them good.

I've since checked up on the filmmaker, Alex Garland, no relation to Wizard of Oz, I'm almost certain, and was reminded of liking Ex Machina, in a way. It played more with the cinematic elements which might trigger an audiences loins; audience as proxy for creator. I found that interesting.

I dialed myself back anyhow, with a haphazard read hinting Adam Tooze' take on Foucault's take on power. Kind of the absolute autarchy of the workplace up against fantasy fictions of public democracy. Yes, sure, maybe there are people who would shoot their right-to-carry gun at someone shouting angry epithets in their direction, but how really shall we identify the ones to hate? How shall we decide who's cheating to make it in and who's really just supplicating? Are we really so ready for anarchy? Genetic testing proves white supremacists to never be quite so lily-white. We are already more like family than we are a nation.

Shall there be no sanction against murder? How would we identify teams? Town against town, or would we each choose an AI inimitable leader? Does it really all devolve into black and white? Can Texas and California be united based only on their exceptionalism?

We do destroy by proxy with abandon from here, without feeling all that much worse for it because it doesn't seem directly to affect us. It's over there. It's horrible the way a movie is horrible, and then we go shopping for this and that, eat out, drink beer, and merry ourselves. Shall I eat popcorn while watching Civil War?

I myself reserve my sharpest anger for rich people who've become Trumpers because they think the policies which enable them to get rich on the backs of everybody else need to be continued in support of their life-styles. But since I actually love some such people, and since I don't want a gun anywhere near my hand, except for target practice maybe, I'm not going to be charged up to kill any such people, hate them though I might. When alone. On and in principle.

Now what happens when my phone no longer recognizes me? I ordered up a new driver's license to reflect my newish address. It was getting to be too much trouble to deal with transactional types who filled in the driver's license old address unthinkingly. Don't they know how often people move? Or do I just look stable? I forgot to record the fact that my eye-color has changed because of glaucoma drops. How does one even do that? I don't think my phone cares. It's more geometric and deploys frequencies I can't sense.

The world is roiling, and, interestingly to me, it now revolves around national security threats which result directly from our savior economic system, which rushes to the cheapest manufactory and damn the torpedoes!

So we see evil in the differing economic arrangements in China, say, where the People's Liberation Army was "designed" so as not to be a burden on the people. It would grow its own food instead of plundering overtaken villages and farmsteads. And, eventually, it would grow factories and whole industries, some defense-related and some only incidentally so. Potato potaato, we build our economy on the basis of our military-industrial complex, while China is maybe more up-front about the arrangements.

I might have been more professionally engaged with China. My august professor, meaning to write me a glowing recommendation to a heady pre-professional stay in China, included a phrase which might have made the same sense to me as it did to the selection committee. 'while I can't see him becoming an influential professional, [he] has all the qualities . . .' He was surely correct, no matter the causal relations.

Anyhow, it's no longer $500 hammers and NASA at the leading edge of tech. Even the military industrial complex gets its silicon parts off the shelf, so to speak. I know from personal experience that the IT infrastructure and services on an aircraft carrier, say, are far inferior in robust fault-tolerance and service corps as compared with much of the business community. My personal interface with such matters has grown old for sure, so don't take my word for anything. I'm just sayin' that I did once know my networking basics better than the officer-types I sometimes interfaced with, though I would never for a split second consider myself competent to manage a warship's infrastructure. Anyhow, we all believed the same proprietary propaganda. What choice did we have? Chain of command doesn't apply in all situations.

There are so very many things I once was certain of. But now I marvel at how many times that certainty I once had about how to accomplish even mechanical tasks astounds me for my former stubborn simplicity, so full of pride in my acumen was I. Why didn't I think of that before? Pride was in my way.

We're going to ban production in China now for the makings that go into wonder drugs because we're worried about the sort of private intellectual-property style data they can mine. As though our Meta-Alphabet-ical Amazonian rainforest of personal data mined from our incredibly anti-social monetization as sanctioned in and by and for the digi-verse over here. Who owns you? Who ever asked you for permission to use your very personal genetic code for their private profit?

Arrangements are very shifty right now. We long for the kind of stability in cultural arrangements which only seem to have existed in our misty hindsight. And so our fears are easily fanned by demagogues, charlatans, hucksters and Confidence Men. YOLO FOMO motherfuckers who are the inevitable result of we can't tell the difference between reality TV and reality.

But I get it. I do. Scientists who are addicted to the notion that absolutely everything has to make their kind of sense come up with shit like 'many worlds,' or now many other worlds which cuts itself shaving on Occam's Razor for sure. They are so desperate to get the observer out of any and all equations that we're supposed to ascribe reality to these purely mathematical constructs so that we can call it a day. You hear these things in snippets and then you can't find them. But I know the point of the multiverses within multiverses theory was to obviate the need for any observer.

It took billions and billions of dollars to prove the foregone conclusion that the Higg's boson does exist. My nephew did the graphics based on the math so that all could see. He works for Amazon now. Which is the thing we're better off for?

The thing is that nowadays the explainers on the radio, if you even listen to that anymore, are all pert female voices that you can imagine as pretty, which is a great stereotype disturbance when discussing bleeding edge science, but hey why are they reporting and not doing, exactly? Talking heads can be groomed in many dimensions, most beyond your sensory awareness.

I'm way more comfortable with not having to explain everything or assume that it might be explainable in any ultimate sense at some indeterminate future time. I've stopped already in my defeat of Godhead and its replacement by us. At this point now, in human history, there is no more sense to making sense.

My only certainty is that digital AI can't come close to the real thing. The trouble is not that AI will exceed us, it's that we've already capitulated by internalizing the AI that's been all around and about us ever since we started constructing our world even before petro-reality and even digital reality by way of sail and wooden ships and actual horse-power. Sustainability is no road to any future that I want. Sustainability is the fantasy excuse for not changing a thing. Nobody debates that we slaughtered Buffalo to near extinction; that Native Americans never stood a chance. Keep your powder dry.

I want to deconstruct, like any good post-industrial post-modernist. I sure don't want no Elvis wanna-be for any kind of leadership role. Even Parkinson's addled, Muhammad Ali would be better. At least he knew from love. And his job was to hurt.

By definition of digital, meaning the absolute distinction between on and off, digital can't be real. It can only be black and white, with simulations of otherness for froth. As a self of any sort, I am intertwined with just about all of creation. Digital can't be. 

We have no theory for how random works even as we have to way to understand mind as a limited aspect of reality. We certainly have no excuse for separating ourselves as some kind of exceptional knower. Computers, in principle, can't even do random.

So sure, bring it on Trumpers. We do indeed need to devolve power to a more local level. What we don't need is Disney religion permeating our political permutations and determinations on anything approaching a national scale. If only we could imagine decent people wanting leadership roles we could easily imagine smallish autonomous states, intertwined by all our wonderful technologies while bereft of illicit manipulations. 

In your dreams. 

I do, of course, have a theory for random. Canonically now, our DNA evolves according to how its engendered physical embodiment survives to procreate within the ever roiling environment for existence. This evolution is based on, powered by, you might say, random reconfigurations whose net is ever increasing complexity among the living. Whatever you or I know, we know mostly by random, no matter how much credit you may wish to claim.

The only fittest that survive comport to God's mind, not ours. We have but made ourselves numb to any kind of godhead, with religion leading the charge. God has never spoken in words.

Genetics seems like some kind of grand transfer of complexity from dying entropic structure to the quickening realm of what we call creation. As such, it informs a direction for time as a kind of twin for entropic decay. Each must be measured by the other.

One must now say that God is random, which is to say that the Godhead is the fountainhead of life. Is it really any more complicated than that? Must it be? We have far more important work to do than to pound our head on what we think that we must become.

Can't have one without the other; mind the yang, entropic decay the yin. Life builds while its constructs decay. Boundaries are always fractal and therefore unmeasurable to eternity, depending on magnification. The boundary between my mind and the rest of knowledge is surely arbitrary and capricious, though it is certain that I can know nothing all by myself. The constructs of our knowledge also decay, and so, therefore, must knowledge.

My digital records conceal more than they preserve.

I hone my Occam's razor the way that Chuang-tzu's butcher honed his cleaver to find the space between what only seems to be joined. It's not the seeming that's the fiction. It's the knowing which can only be conjecture. The cleaver doesn't change the join.

So sure, let's bring on a civil war of all against the other, Pogo. Who can ever be said to have won that contest, I wonder. Not I, said the little-read hen. I wouldn't even know who to be angry at, other than myself. Good thing, really, that I'll never own a gun. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Three Body Secret of China

The Three Body Secret of China

Some time back in maybe 2016, when I was routinely in Shanghai working for an American College which wanted to build a bridge between here and there, I became aware of the SciFi novel then known in English as The Three Body Problem, by Liu Cixin. Of all things, I learned of the book by way of Facebook, where Mark Zuckerberg touted reading it and touted himself by proxy.

Now I’ve grown to detest Facebook for a variety of reasons that I won’t go into here, but mostly because I’ve always been socially shy. It was a work-necessity at the time (across a VPN while in China). But I learned about the precedent-shattering Hugo award, and I even watched Zuckerberg mimic an American tech-titan in a cringe-worthy imitation of Chinese. I’ll give him credit for trying. I won’t give him credit for much else.

While trying to build my bridge, I would routinely speak before large groups of Chinese students, and sometimes - after I’d read the book - I would ask who had read San Ti, its Chinese title. I was surprised that only a few would raise their hands, though my survey was not an accurate count. The book has its subversive undertones, which might have kept hands unraised at the time.

Amazon was viable then in China, and I had a physical address in Shanghai, so creating my Chinese account was trivial. I had amassed enough WeChat cash to purchase the three-book collection for a song. It was a pretty easy read, not exactly packed with those pesky four-character expressions or too many erudite literary allusions the way that Card Apprentice was when I translated its 600-plus chapters uncredited and for a pittance while wandering across the US trying to understand Trumpism. I was translating for the Chinese on-line literary equivalent to The Voice or whatever we do over here on television that I shall never watch. I was indeed a party to, and part of, the modern version of They Shoot Horses, Don’t They, or a six-day ride-until-you drop bicycle race. Not pretty.

Hey, let’s put on a show! Let’s get rich on the desperation of the intelligent masses. Let’s transform our economies to something even worse than capitalism and make the people love it! It’s all free, after all! The money pump to the top is more efficient than ever, post-industrially speaking. That’s what tech means!

Along my travels, I was told about the child of an acquaintance of my sister who was starring in an upcoming Chinese film about the story of Edgar Snow and Red Star Over China, which I’d obviously read, since I’ve obviously studied some about China.

Now Kenan Heppe, who played Snow in the film, comes across as a rather caricatured American, reminiscent of Zuckerberg’s self-caricature, and is criticized for that. I think that’s how he was cast though, and he played the part brilliantly. Zuck is just a tool.

Way back when, I spent some hours trying to figure out if either film was ever made, and never could. That was when Covid was hitting, and frankly, penetrating the Chinese web remains deuced difficult by reason of a kind of language and ordering that is still more different than Chinese already is from English. I gathered that production of Three Body was suspended for various reasons, having less to do with Covid than with cinematographic cultural reconfigurations. I watched some atrocious clips. And then I forgot about the whole mess.

Now, in the midst of another great China-America chill which makes me glad I never did build that bridge because it would have crumbled if not from Covid then from America’s continued ignorance about China, I find myself curious again.

Low and behold, there is a Chinese TV series called Three Body which is easily available now to continent-bound me, by way of Peacock. And that unnamed American piratical (when I point at you there are three fingers pointing at me, nenerneenernana) mega-service had the Red Star film for free. Navigating cross-continent subscriptions remains tricky for me, and the price differential can be mind-boggling, although I may still have some yuan in my WeChat account. Hmmm. In any case, Amazon in China, having my now defunct Chinese phone number on its mostly defunct service, is well beyond me anymore.

So here’s the point of my meandering post:

Each of us is a strange attractor by way of coincidence; we are attractors mostly for links which none of us could make solely on the basis of hard work. None of us can master what is really true in cross-cultural relations. All of us are subject to prejudice, and all news is slanted, at least by the prime directive to get your attention.

But I shall and must confess that I wept while watching the Red Star film. It was a fine representation of China’s founding hagiography. I saw myself in my own youth, since the actor somewhat resembles me at that time. The film was also a morality play meant to remind the US of old promises, and the way we once were. Both cinematic productions are old by now, just as I am.

Anyhow, I’ve dived right back in to reading Three Body for yet another time, with my old-age Chinese on my crumbling China-based tablet. I know that I was thrilled by the first read. But there are deeper harmonics for me now. I doubt that anyone even yet knows how profoundly this book has altered China’s sense of itself, and our relations with China.

These twin experiences have given me new hope.

End of Message.

Monday, February 19, 2024

It's About Time

I said I'd stop this. I'm old and I'm tired much of the time. I'm always in pain. Not debilitating pain, but the kind that makes you not want to kneel, lift, climb and so forth in anticipation of how it will feel. I exhibit many of the signs which most people refer to as lazy. I'm certainly lazy in my writing. 

Way back when I hit on what I thought then, and still think now, was an important reconfiguration of how we conceive of understanding, I was certain that the upshot was so obvious that all I had to do was prime the pump and then some more qualified individual would take it over. 

Indeed that pattern has been my conviction about how things work. If Einstein hadn't come upon his theories of relativity, someone surely would have. After all, these are matters of truth - or what I prefer to call truing - where, over time, all of us must agree. I don't tend to credit genius as much as an exuberant first to the finish line. Perhaps you might say that so-called "genius" is a grant from the Fates, which it surely is. But a winner does require skill and training to luck into a win. 

A lazy ass like me can almost never be a winner. Well, I'd say, based on work I've done and jobs I've held that I am not a lazy soul. But I sure am shy of winning. 

Lately, I've been making the unsupported claim that time is a conspiracy of life. Then last night I watched a fairly pedestrian biographical look at Einstein, on Netflix, and realized that I'd better do a bit more work here. 

Among the quips tossed off by the actor playing Einstein - all credited as the actual words of Einstein in writing or in speech - was one about time. Something like "no future to look forward to and no past to regret". I find this online: "The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." Close enough. 

But Einstein's theories only showed that time would slow according to relative velocity of motion, I don't think he ever demonstrated, in his thought experiments, that time could reverse. Subsequent physical models have required time reversal - a kind of reverse causality - as a feature of our cosmos at its extremes.

So it remains unchallenged and therefore unexamined that on the macro scale, causality defines the material cosmos. That's the basis for how the scientific method sets out to understand the way things are structured, and the way that they work. Prediction is the thing, and it should, ideally, be based on a schematic model; a theory. I understand something, scientifically, when my predictions are true, to within some acceptable margin for error.

In a way, I would like to broaden the meaning of "understanding" to accommodate what most of us mean when we say "understood." We live in a time of radical mistrust of authority, which must relate at least a bit to the complexity of elite theorizing. I think that the cosmos may be rather simpler than the experts let on. I continue to believe that this reconceptualization will be good for us all. And by "good" I don't refer to the good life, but rather to life that is good for everyone. A community of man.

But most of us who read at all know that there is this pesky matter of quantum theory, also triggered by Einstein, which prevents, in principle, knowledge about causality beyond certain limits for perception. Indeed, most accepted versions of the theory have it that the investigating subject cannot be removed from the observations; that any attempt to measure - to pin down - what is happening has an impact on the results. Objectivity is dashed beyond a certain scale. 

Now way back when in my youth I was troubled by the twin paradox in classical relativistic physics. In my thought experiment I had to reduce the cosmos to just two elements, each of which would leave the cosmos of the other were they moving relative to each other.

I understand that the paradox has been rubbed out by math, but however those formulations are made, they don't resolve the thought experiment for me. It's trivial to realize that objects in relative motion eventually fall out of touch. But for me, the trouble was that 'out of touch' meant impossible of relation in the direction of what I consider to be 'multiple cosmos solutions' to knotty physics problems. Talk about a violation of the principle of Occam's Razor!

In a material world, there are only forces and objects, and all relative motion must be accountable to those. I surmised that there must be a conceptual relation apart from forces and objects, without which there couldn't be a singular cosmos at all. 

Without forces, these relations are static; they form concepts or ideas. When they change they do so according to the quasi force of emotion. But emotion is an apprehension rather than an imposition. Still, it is real. The shape of a crystal is real and realized over time. It seems to tend in the direction of some idealized geometric form. 

We humans are used to distinguishing natural forms from artifice on the basis of shapes which tend toward ideals, discounting the spirals of the nautilus for their very complexity; their no two the same quality. 

Now here's where my laziness kicks in. I simply don't know what the consensus is about apprehensions of intelligence. I know that the creationists are crazy, but I don't know that the evolutionists care enough about how unlikely evolved "natural" forms are. I differ with their usage for random.

Over enough time, the random processes of evolution begin to look similar to crystallization; as though revealing a kind of hidden structure - the manifestation of an atomic structure "underneath." Might we ourselves not be conceptualized as the manifestation of some latent structure of the cosmos? Something only manifest over time. 

I would maintain that time is directional in either the materialist or the evolutionary sense only as a conspiracy of the whole. Furthermore, there is no purely physical resolution to the conundrum of time's arrow. 

Here I make my lazy leap, that, therefore, time's arrow is a function of the evolution of life. And the attention given for the measurement of quanta, whose existence in a particular locus in space-time as required by an act of measurement, is demonstrably absent prior to the measurement being taken. The "thing" measured demonstrably exists in a measurable, or at least estimable, cloud of probability. There are waveforms which pervade the cosmos, until they are collapsed by impingement.

My own impetus for this kind of thinking was to resolve - or to "understand" - the many "meaningful coincidences" that I, and I suppose all of us, experience in life. It seemed too lazy even for lazy me to attribute these to God. There had to be something missing in our treatment of random. In all things, I took some clues from China.

Probability relates to chance which relates to random. It is my contention that emotion is what turns the attention of the measurer to the object being measured; passionless though those operators of the perceptual apparatuses may seem. I am redefining usage for emotion to where it is never absent and is never just some quality of the higher forms of life. Emotion is apart from, but essential to, the materialistic outlook.

If there is consternation about the weirdness of quantum mechanics, it seems to focus on the absurdity that conscious measurement determines the disposition of reality. Or call it conscious attention. I understand there may be argumentation about whether, and if so how, consciousness might be an aspect of everything. A kind of panconsciousness. Some call it panspiritualism, panpsychism or maybe "analytical idealism" the way that Bernardo Kastrup does.

I'm trying to make this all much simpler. In my understanding (haha!) it is emotion which is pervasive. And emotion is not something that is possessed, any more than forces are. Emotion is a relation, as is force, and it constitutes the apprehension of forceless motion; meaning, really, that there is a correspondence between the motion happening "over there" and something "familiar" toward or away from which it is moving. 

I don't wish to imply that there has to be an apprehender. I'm only trying to distinguish from perception, which is material implication. Emotional implication is what entangles the twins of the twin paradox. A sense of potential oneness. This is also the superposition familiar to researchers in quantum computing. The connection of distant particles, by definition as I'm suggesting, is an emotional connection. 

At the mega scale at which we operate, all that means is that the particles are connected by a "knower." There is no other way to define both the separation and the oneness. Knowledge then consists in a correspondence between models in the mind and models in reality beyond the mind. The match is an emotional match. Reality can't be defined without it. I guess that I must confess that I also don't think "mind" implies a knower. Mind is a distributed quality of matter when that matter takes a form. Mind conceives, while force is required for perception. And exchange of percepts or what we sometimes call gauge bosons (I think).

Or in other other words, the search for strange forces or time un-bound exchange of information is fruitless, and shall forever be. Information theory is strangely agnostic about means of transmission, which makes information seem disembodied, which, of course, it can never be in reality. There has to be something to count; whether "packets" of zeros and ones as transmitted by wifi or ethernet or light pulses or whatever. The information is sent and it is received. In the case of superposition, there is no transmission at all. There is a definition for identity which is far more extensible than the resolution of the twin paradox ever need be.

Well, I guess and suppose that this is all about as clear as mud to you, though it is as limpid as ether to me. I remain convinced that this shift to understanding can and will make a difference, and that it is as inevitable as Einstein's part I. Part II is where we neutralize the power of the bomb because we realize that it is only love which is holding it all together. No matter what the Right Wingers tell themselves, truth does matter. A lot. 

Let's start telling it.