Category Archives: History

So we learn and do not forget.

The key to everything

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via 3QuarksDailyNYBooks: The Key to Everyting

Freeman Dyson reviews Geoffrey Wests book on “Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies

“Geoffrey West spent most of his life as a research scientist and administrator at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, running programs concerned not with nuclear weapons but with peaceful physics. After retiring from Los Alamos, he became director of the nearby Santa Fe Institute, where he switched from physics to a broader interdisciplinary program known as complexity science.”

Freeman’s review nicely summarizes the book for some heady reading. But his view on the subject is not without criticism driven by differences in philosophy:

“The choice of an imagined future is always a matter of taste. West chooses sustainability as the goal and the Grand Unified Theory as the means to achieve it. My taste is the opposite. I see human freedom as the goal and the creativity of small human societies as the means to achieve it. Freedom is the divine spark that causes human children to rebel against grand unified theories imposed by their parents..”

I share Freeman Dyson’s view. But this is still worth reading and stimulating to think about.

Dude, you broke the future – a talk by Charlie Stross

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Charlie Stross gave a talk at the 34th Chaos Communication Congress in Leipzig, December 2017. It puts our current history into a larger context. It includes a fresh view of AI as it has been with us for centuries in the form of corporations!

A real eye opener worth reading! Dude, you broke the future!

You can also watch the talk on youtube.

Bill Gates: “We Need an Energy Miracle”

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Killing the fallacy that Capitalism and Markets are effective and efficient. And it is especially true when viewing the slow unfolding climate disaster.

Bill Gates on the surprising wisdom of government R&D: “When I first got into this I thought, How well does the Department of Energy spend its R&D budget? And I was worried: Gosh, if I’m going to be saying it should double its budget, if it turns out it’s not very well spent, how am I going to feel about that? But as I’ve really dug into it, the DARPA money is very well spent, and the basic-science money is very well spent. The government has these “Centers of Excellence.” They should have twice as many of those things, and those things should get about four times as much money as they do.”

Read more on the Atlantic.

Robert Hughes & John Berger – Art as a Way of Perceiving the World

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A long time ago we were fascinated by the series “The Shock of the New” by Robert Hughes broadcast on PBS. It was both captivating and enlightening, one of the few programs I remember vividly. I had been thinking about it lately and looked for it on Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, but without results. Oddly, I ran across the series on YouTube.com apparently captured from VHS. Since our streaming is poor, I downloaded the series for later viewing.

The wonderful impact of art is that it makes us more aware, it teaches us to look and hear, it makes us see! Art is the mirror of a culture and must be seen as deeply important to the culture’s participants. If you lose art, you lose the mental and emotional commons.

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While I waited, youtube led me to John Berger and his equally fascinating series “Ways of Seeing,” which I had not been previously aware of. He was interviewed interviewed as part of the 2012 Serpentine Memory Marathon. This interview is rich with perspective, but one that really struck me with a memory from my youth was the following observation.

After the fall of the Russian system clearly displaying all of communisms fault, how could anybody have believed or still believe. The answer is that today nobody would know the hope it embodied, the hope for a more just system.

I remember feeling that before my disillusionment.

The Illusion of Separateness

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Looking at the odd history in the making in Europe with UK voting to leave the EU, it becomes apparent that we generally look and understand parts better than the whole. This is certainly true on the political stage, where we often do not know, what we have lost abandoning the bargaining table. When Prince Escalus says “all are punish’d” in the final scene of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, he might as well have referred to all European nations and especially Britain in place of the Montagues and Capulets. They lost their most precious children in exchange for nothing. In the UK, it is the young who will lose the most being partially blocked from a larger world, which is struggling to become whole despite our common lack of vision.

I am starting to think that it is a peculiarity of our vision that makes us so fond of finding differences, of loving the parts more than the whole. Vision shapes our way of defining models. Delineating lines of shadow and dark, seeing colors instead of the continuity of the full spectrum is a trick our mind & vision use to make sense of the complexity of the world with limited capability. We simplify, reduce, decide under the illusion that seeing the parts we understand the whole. This is true even in science, where reductionism has given us progress especially since the Enlightenment. We are delving ever deeper taking the world to bits to find the Higgs. But even finding this God particle, our search is not at end. I sense, we are going about it wrong.

Perhaps we are about to enter the next age, where we look at the world with new eyes and try to understand it as one system – from the way we look at nature, our bodies, our societies, our ecosystem, and the world. Systems theory clearly shows that the most interesting emergent behavior is on the larger level of simple elements working together to shape much more complex behavior. This is where all of our answers lie, maybe even to our quest for purpose and the meaning of the universe.

The separateness of anything in the world is an illusion. The world is one system. As we look at the apparent boundaries in detail, they disappear to the point that we cannot truly tell one quantum particle from another. Our bodies are in continuous interaction with the micro-biome in us and surrounding us. We are seeing that our old disease models are simplistic. We are truly and deeply connected with our environment. In cyberspace, our minds and thoughts are exchanging thoughts and concepts at increasing speed. It might be a struggle, but I believe in seeing and making things whole, we truly find the solution to all of our issues. Being in and with this world and each other will give us incredible progress and peace and prosperity past anything we can image. It is the key to our humanity!

All we need to do is look at the world differently.

“What we think, we become.” — Buddha

We need to become one with each other and the world.