Category Archives: Philosophy

Thinking of the nature of the world and thought itself.

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.

New Years is as good a time as any to make changes to patterns making you dumb!

As I contemplate the year and our life it has become clear that following my current patterns will not give me the future I want. My habits are not destructive, but also not constructive.

This is a very personal thing, but I am sure that many in my age group will find themselves needing to redefine their life, start fresh and complete, what they always wanted to do. Since we are embodied, we must start there. Sleep, food, other things. What pattern makes us truly feel good and able to achieve what we aspire to?

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I have decided to abstain from some things I like in exchange for feeling better long term. I also want to find myself in control of my urges. Wine and beer is one of those things I associate with relaxation.

Reading biographies of the many good people who ended up their lives struggling with dementia, it is surprising to see the widespread problem of alcohol. I am not an alcoholic, but I have noticed the heightened sensitivity to it with age. The pleasure is not worth the risk. This blog is a great collection on Dementia: Going Gentle Into That Good Night

I ran across it doing research for a story I am planning out.

But there are also other habits most of us share.

Over the last few months I have self observed patterns of electronic media consumption, which by themselves are not obsessive, but can become so. Apps like Flipboard claim to search for your interests presenting the results, but they are designed to keep your attention like a drug. Facebook has the same ultimate intent as do many other social apps like imgur, Pinterest, and even Quora.

All really aim to permanently capture your attention via continually changing visual stimuli in an unconscious way. While you are aiming to take in this information, you DO NOT THINK. You are just visually processing. And you are becoming addicted! You keep spending time.

It turns out that “flipping those boards” and reading those abstracts one after another or “Liking” the posts on Facebooks as you scroll endlessly also might have more long term effects on your intelligence and creativity – perhaps even eventually causing dementia.

The site mentioned above has a great book review of “The End of Absence” by Michael Harris and analyzes some of these patterns further in Technology and Neurology – A Perfect Storm For A Lifestyle Dementia

I am not intending on becoming a Luddite, but “attention must be paid!” In this case, I want to look at my patterns and be aware and in control . In the end our life experience is about how we consciously spend our time.

Time

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I thought I was establishing a habit of writing frequently. But life got in the way. The really odd thing is that in my mind the last time I blogged seemed like a couple, maybe three weeks ago, not months.

There is the desire to write, the surge of ideas, the need for expression. But actually sitting down seems hard at the moment. In any endeavor the vision of what the outcome will be is usually divorced from reality. There is the struggle for what you feel is there and what you find forming on the screen or page.

I think, most of us find it hard to live in the present. We reminisce, we look forward to something. Before we know it has passed. Family, kids home, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and suddenly it is February with the tax return looming. And I will not write about politics right now.

Like everything good, I need to make it a habit. Life change – daily mindfulness, exercise, expression – write.

Track it, form the habit. Write, no matter how silly the output. And maybe I can make something of the ides stacked out there in my notes. In the flow, the self stops being the focus. Rationally, life is futile. We find or escape in the purpose we create.

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.