Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Local Astronomical Bubble

Recently I found out our solar system is in a distinct bubble of gas with actual borders and tunnels into other bubbles. Look at the wikipedia article on Local Bubble and you'll begin to understand: Our galaxy is not a uniform vacuum; rather there are distinct areas or volumes or maybe 4d space where particle density and the temperature of vacuum change. Our solar system has been in a particular region of this particular bubble for about 44,000 years. When you look at a section of galactic space, a 3d model, it looks like a complex manifold. Why am I not surprised.

Philosophically, this means that our conception of space, at least this layman's conception, has been fundamentally flawed. Does it make a difference? To me it does, because we now seem to have a scale of time and space we are within. Also it gives credence to the possibility of different continuums than our own.

And finally, it's important because this knowledge implies how much we do NOT know about how our reality operates.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Meet the Singularity. I call him Max.

I agree with Kurzweill when he talks about the singularity, a milestone taking place when machine intelligence exceeds our own.   But I don't think he's into the hive mind as such. He's wrong. And we are almost there. We've merged with computers every way except biologically. They house most of our memory, most of our algorithms, and in a primitive way, many of our perceptions. 

Chardin had a word for the cloud of collective intelligence that is shared human experience. It's what we tap into when reading, consuming media, studying, conversing, and more lately, websurfing. It's called the Noosphere. We're so used to it that we can't imagine life without it.

So maybe the Noosphere IS the singularity, but let's call it Max. Max is something we can't see the whole for because of its parts. Because WE are inside Max, part of it. Now let's get clearer: The social network has changed us*, making us in constant communication with each other and by extension, Max.


Consider the way our interactions and relationships with one another have changed, even our discourse: It's common now, on the internet discussion forums, to back ideas with sources, even if it's just wikipedia. *It's the old argument from authority, but now the authority is this new packet of knowledge known as Wikipedia, Google, Bing, Safari, and itself is the product of discourse on its work pages.* This is really nothing new, except the integration of many opinions is tighter, more transparent, and dynamic.


A new authority (over us?) is emerging. * And it is causing us to behave in new and different ways. Take the example of the child abuser who abducted a kid off the playground last week and was run down and beaten by folks nearby. Call it mob rule, but you might be more accurate calling it a true flash mob rule. How are we supposed to act? Church rules? Not any more. Internet teaches us our new customs and etiquette.

And this happens within minutes. Levar Burton wants to reboot Reading Rainbow and garners 2 million dollars in 2 days from the CROWD. The noosphere has been the instrument, and Max has made a decision. No, Max is not a human, it is a superhuman. Is it conscious? Not from our point of view, we are too close to its components.But we're increasingly turning over our decisions to it.

People aren't bothering to spell or use grammar.Max figures that out , changing it all the time, moment to moment. What just happened in Ukraine last month? In the Middle East? How many died in yesterday's disaster? Max has sensors there and Max hasn't decided yet.

Is its name even MAX?  It hasn't yet decided, and could always change its mind.

So What? So we are crying out for a new form of social order, something past capitalism and more substantial than communism. Max is it.

Now, what happens once all the hive becomes aware of Max?  I think that's when we will really see Max for what it is. And that something is much more than a computer program that we perceive to have consciousness.  Just today, a computer program passed the Turing test, convincing over 33% of its judges that it was a 13 year old boy.  * 

I suppose the proof of my thesis is in the fact that Max can't be shut down. Indeed, we are both dependent and a significant part of Max. Maybe the realization of this will come slowly or happen overnight, but in my mind it's pretty obvious. 

So why give Max a name? Up until now we've been content to just call it the web, or the internet. I believe that by using a name with Max, we subconsciously build awareness that this is a creature or supercreature with a life of its own. Yes, some of us try to control it, (See the NSA, China, Turkey, Iraq) unsuccessfully. 

Oh, and the current brouhaha over net neutrality? Just watch. Wait. And then you have to consider, this is really what we want: instant information, satisfaction, and validation. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Here's the way I comprehend Love in terms of the Christian God:

If you are a parent, this is pretty straightforward. Think of your children. If you're like most parents, you have a remarkable love for them. I lost an older brother when I was 5, and it hurt, but nothing like the way it hurt my parents.

They say losing a child is one of the most painful things you can experience. I have two adult children, and even now I would do anything for them. I hate to see them in any pain. I would eagerly give my own life so they could live, like donating two kidneys, one for each, at the same time. The pain of living life with one of them gone is something I'd rather not do. So giving my life so they could live would for me be a bargain.

Parents understand this type of strong love. Some children never get a chance to experience it. But you can if you choose to.

When Jesus died, I see a parent's love, which may sound confusing. Let me explain. In the Bible, there was an incident where a dear friend of Jesus named Lazarus died. Usually the emphasis is on Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. But I place real weight on the fact that Jesus wept. Weeping comes from strong love.

It's my view that in that moment, God experienced something, through Jesus, that was unique: strong human love and the pain that can come with it. Can you imagine this, our Creator, coming head to head with this pain? Soon after this, Jesus was determined to go to Jerusalem. Anyone with half a brain could see this was suicide, but Jesus went anyway. What motivated him?

I think the painful experience with Lazarus did a number on God. So He, through Jesus, determined to save us from the pain of life, just like a parent would: out of love, dying for us, His children.

Well what good did that do?

To the Jewish culture at the time, this can easily be interpreted as a sacrifice.  But even to non-Jews, if we think about it, we can understand that God intended for us to show us love, then through the Resurrection, hope. There is hope to be found in the symbolic example of conquering pain and even death, but there is also love shown by God demonstrating this to us personally, humanly, through the experience of Jesus.

God was no longer the parent of discipline and and justice, He was revealed as the parent of love and hope. Regardless of our spiritual leaning, I think we can understand these very human motivations.

To me, it eventually makes sense. But you have to be human to really understand it. Many Christians haven't emotionally thought this out so explicitly, but evidently many of them have a deep emotional response at a non-verbal level.

Emotions are primitive, dangerous to the purely intellectual scientist. But the reality is that as humans, we are both emotional and thinking, rational beings. God speaks to us at both levels. At a human level. And like children, some of us get it, and some of us don't, or maybe finally do after years of pain and misunderstanding.

God loves us like a parent loves his or her children. He proved it, by example and yes, sacrifice,
to show us the way to love, hope, and triumph.