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Monday, 24 July 2017

Me time

One of the hardest things to ask for in a marriage or relationship is "me time". Strictly speaking, "me time" is "one's own personal time to be alone". More often the domestic debate is about leisure time and who enjoys more. A 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center concludes that American men enjoy 10-15% more leisure time than women.

More seasoned couples may prefer a Living Apart Together (LAT) arrangement in order to deal with the leisure and "me time" negotiations. Obviously, the negotiations between partners will then shift to the question when time will be spent together.  Balancing time spent together and time spent alone / apart is a key issue in any (type of) relationship (eg, Psychology Today).

In general, couples have a weird idea about each other's need for "me time", especially in situations where one partner works and the other takes care of the children. The one who returns home is usually still stressed from work. The one waiting at home is usually also stressed due to a balancing act at home. Both expect the other person to grant some "me time". This expectation gap will usually result in a blame game, which is actually hiding a power game.

The willingness to grant each other some "me time" follows from togetherness: "a happy feeling of affection and closeness to other people, especially your friends and family". Also see my 20 January 2016 blog on Togetherness. To some extent, granting "me time" is even a case of self-interest as "you don't know what you have until it's gone" (eg, Elite, video 1, video 2).

The reasons for needing "me time" are interesting and relevant. A 2012 Psychology Today article mentions 6 reasons for spending more time alone. The 1st is the most interesting one: Solitude allows you to reboot your brain and unwind. Reasons 2, 4 and 5 are (in)directly related to reason #1. Also see my 30 July 2015 blog on Solitude.

In my 21 July 2017 blog on Focus vs Distraction, I mentioned the book "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman. Wiki: "The central thesis is a dichotomy between two modes of thought: "System 1" is fast, instinctive and emotional; "System 2" is slower, more deliberative, and more logical." (2011 NYT book review). Hence, distractions must be in #1 and focus in #2.

I suspect that solitude enables the "rebooting" and allows for some kind of an information download / transfer from (short-term) brain system #1 to (long-term) brain system #2. Without this reboot or transfer, (short-term) brain system #1 will get an (information) overload. Hence, the phrase "there's too much on my mind" (lyrics, video). This overload may also explain why couples move from rational explanations to emotional arguments for not understanding each other.

In the absence of togetherness, "me time" should be carved out at work and at home. It's a matter of priorities in a schedule of being busy, busy, busy. Walking alone in a quiet park around lunch time, might be sufficient for a reboot and "Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind".

I Can See Clearly Now (1993) by Jimmy Cliff - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.
I can see all obstacles in my way.
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.


Sunday, 23 July 2017

Liberalisme

Sinds vele jaren omarm ik het economisch liberalisme, met name de sociale markteconomie. De vrije markteconomie heeft helaas de neiging om monopolies en oligopolies te creëren. Op zich logisch want winstmaximalisatie is nog vaak het uitgangspunt van ondernemingen. Tegenwoordig is er een stroming van persoonlijk liberalisme: het individu bepaalt en de overheid faciliteert.

Het persoonlijk liberalisme van D’66 en VVD staat haaks op de uitgangspunten van confessionele partijen, zoals CDA, CU en SGP. Dit verklaart deels de langdurige formatiebesprekingen. Daar waar het economisch liberalisme partijen verbindt, splijt het persoonlijk liberalisme.

Het omarmen van de dood in plaats van het leven, creëert bovendien principiële tegenstellingen. Het omarmen van de dood blijkt uit liberale wetsvoorstellen als abortusgrens, embryokweek, en voltooid leven. Deze 3 liberale voorstellen kiezen tegen het leven en voor de dood.

Liberalen vinden dat religie een persoonlijke keuze is, die anderen niet opgedrongen moet worden. Het persoonlijk liberalisme doet echter weinig anders, bijv. inzake verplichte orgaandonatie. Waar zit de persoonlijke vrijheid in de Wet op de Orgaandonatie? Die zit uiteindelijk enkel en alleen in een NEE registratie want anders bepaalt de overheid jouw JA.

Het meerouderschap is nog zo’n liberaal lifestyle voorstel. Als drie (3) of meer ouders een wettelijke mogelijkheid wordt, dan zal elke toekomstige variant mogelijk worden, inclusief mens en robot. Er zijn nu al mensen die beweren verliefd te zijn op hun robot. De keuzevrijheid bij een huwelijk tussen mens en robot is de volgende stap. De liefde tussen mens en AI robots is al uitgangspunt voor enkele intrigerende films: Her (2013, IMDb) en Ex Machina (2014, IMDb).

De toenemende wettelijke regelgeving ten aanzien van allerlei vormen van persoonlijke lifestyle keuzes baart mij zorgen. De nadruk op uitzonderingen creëert steeds meer frictie met de gemene deler. Het gaat nu vooral om (de persoonlijke keuzes en vrijheden van) het individu en niet zozeer (de persoonlijke keuzes en vrijheden van) de samenleving.

De bemoeizucht van de liberalen met de samenleving doet mij denken aan de bemoeizucht van socialisten met de economie. Het eindresultaat is daarmee - waarschijnlijk - voorspelbaar. Een samenleving is echter niet gelijk aan het totaal van de individuen. Er dient ook nog te worden samen geleefd. Het concept van individu en samen(leving) botst daarom vaak.

Mogelijk is de liberale politieke keuze voor persoonlijke lifestyle keuzes c.q. vrijheden een electorale niche - en dus politieke marketing. Mogelijk hebben liberale politici een (te) grote afstand tot de samenleving. Mogelijk vertegenwoordigen liberale volksvertegenwoordigers vooral bepaalde specifieke segmenten in de samenleving.

Het kiezen voor de belangen van individuen is het kiezen tegen de belangen van de samenleving. Mogelijk verklaart dit de toenemende polarisatie in Westerse samenlevingen. Een minder positieve uitleg is dat liberale politici gewoon niet weten waar een samenleving voor staat. Deze taak lag voorheen namelijk altijd bij confessionele en socialistische partijen.

People gotta move




People Gotta Move (1974) by Gino Vannelli
artist, FBlyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

People come on and do it right
Shake your behinds like dynamite
Chuck alll your worries and toss your thighs
To be tame is a pain when you realize

You gotta move...
People gotta move...

Shake all your brains and pump your heart
Show all the world what you are
You come on for right, you come on for wrong, you come on for zeal
'Cause the tones of your bones makes you feel

You gotta groove ....
People gotta move.....

Saturday, 22 July 2017

This is not America

On 14 July 2017, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase made an interesting comment: “We have become one of the most bureaucratic, confusing, litigious societies on the planet. It's almost an embarrassment being an American citizen traveling around the world and listening to the stupid shit we have to deal with in this country.” (eg, CBS, WPZerohedge)

This Jamie Dimon remark is in line with other reports: (1) Bloomberg's America is now a "Second Tier" country. Or (2) the 2016 announcement (PDF) by the Centers for Disease Control that the United States is in the midst of an unprecedented prescription opioid overdose epidemic (eg, pain killers). Or (3) the increasing mortality rate of middle-aged white Americans since the late 1990s, a.k.a. the "deaths of despair" (eg, BloombergBrookings, FTNPR).

The aforementioned paragraph does not include the deplorable situation for black Americans. Many people are already aware of the disproportional statistics related to crime, drugs, imprisonment and unemployment for black Americans. They might think it's better to be white in America. Perhaps it is but only if you are white and rich, else you are "white trash". 

Early February 2017, the FT featured an article written by an American citizen, living in the UK, born in South Africa, and being from Dutch descent. The author's bipartisan observations show how weird America has become when you are not living there (anymore).

One of the author's observations: "It’s true that inequality has risen across the west, but no country in the EU has a Gini coefficient of income inequality anywhere near as high as the US’s." Actually, just eight (8) men - of which 6 white men in the USA - own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity (eg, Oxfam, Fortune).

I should stress that at least 7 US billionaires claim to be worried about American income equality. There are also groups of patriotic millionaires and 50 NY millionaires advocating for higher taxes. This is however also self-interest as poor people cannot buy their goods.

The opening quote from Jamie Dimon is a reiteration of his April 2017 assessment: "It is clear that something is wrong [with the US] — and it’s holding us back." (ZeroHedge). WP: "The inability to make headway on significant legislation is “holding us back and it is hurting the average American. It isn’t a Republican issue; it is not a Democratic issue.”

I haven't lost my hope in America. I admit that Donald Trump makes a continued effort to crush it. Mid 2015, I genuinely thought Trump could make a difference. He does indeed but not in the way I hoped for. The only goal of the Trump-Bannon Revolution is disruption, chaos and destruction, and particularly the Obama legacy, in the continued absence of realistic Trump plans.

It's hard to believe that this is America going forward and going down the drain. I still like to think that this is not America.

This is not America (1985) by Pat Metheny Group featuring David Bowie


Friday, 21 July 2017

Focus vs Distraction

I'm easily distracted, either by external curiosity (eg, sensory input from eyes, ears or other) or internal curiosity (eg, questions arising in my mind). Yet, I am always able to regain my focus. In yesterday's blog, I mentioned that our era of information overload causes many distractions. How will Humanoid sapiens handle limitless Knowledge / Information?

In 2011, 2002 Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman wrote the book "Thinking, Fast and Slow". This book claims that focus and distraction are in 2 separate brain systems. Wiki: "The central thesis is a dichotomy between two modes of thought: "System 1" is fast, instinctive and emotional; "System 2" is slower, more deliberative, and more logical." (2011 NYT book review).

The above results in an amendment of my 2016 classification of the 4 areas of human intelligence, being Knowledge, Beliefs, Instinct & Intuition, and Imagination.

The current challenges of Artificial Intelligence (AI) are in the field of external curiosity (intuition / instinct) (eg, Futurism, MITScience)

Artificial beliefs, rooted in internal curiosity, should follow the Three Laws of Robotics by Isaac Asimov else AI might become dangerous to humans (my 2016 blog).

Imagination, also rooted in internal curiosity, is the only area of human intelligence that AI may never reach. Hence, the category "unknown unknowns". This is also the main reason why Humanoid sapiens needs human intelligence. Artificial intelligence may never be enough. Humanoid sapiens will thus become a part of Evolution, enhanced by Technology. 

At a first glance, distractions may seem irrelevant and superfluous. As from childhood, distractions are however an integral part of learning (eg, discovering, playing). It's sheer impossible to retain a 100% focus at all times. Our mind needs relaxation and stress relief. To some extent, fast and slow thinking are like front-end and back-end computing

The limitless amount of Knowledge available to Humanoid sapiens probably requires a horizontal split between slow thinking and fast thinking - or front-end and back-end computing. This is in line with my earlier suggestion about distributed computing in part 4 of Humanoid sapiens.

Considering the above and with the knowledge of hindsight, the word "versus" in the title of this blog is probably misleading. Without distractions, we would probably also lose focus (eg, burnout, fatigue). Distractions (eg, hocus pocus) are necessary to keep focus. Finding a balance between both is the real challenge for all of us.

Hocus Pocus (1971) by Focus - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


PS: hat tip to this blog

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Humanoid sapiens (5)

Part 4 of this blog series concluded that Humanoid sapiens is part of Evolution which created Life. All species started from 1 cell (eg, Nat Geo, Wired). Multi-cell organisms are much more complex and required building techniques like compartmentalization, redundancy and specialisation. Also see my 4 May 2017 blog Why is Life digital?

Some 40-50 thousand years ago, the human brain got a major overhaul for reasons still unknown. The resulting behavioral modern homo sapiens was very different from the anatomically modern humans which species had existed for 2-3 million years. The future Humanoid sapiens may take any shape or form but will retain the human mind although enhanced by technology.

Human intelligence developed as follows (also see my blogs of 2015 and 2016):
1. Knowledge or Information - category: known knowns - all life forms - stage: Needs
2. Intuition or Instinct - category: unknown knowns - animals and humans - stage: Wants
3. Beliefs - category: known unknowns - only humans - stage: Beliefs
4. Imagination - category: unknown unknowns - humans/humanoids - new stage: Limitless.

Humanoid sapiens, the descendant of Homo sapiens, will be the first species to enter the new and 4th Limitless or Unlimited stage. It will be the first species that can deal with unlimited volumes of Information. All previous life forms and species, including Homo sapiens, were limited in processing and storage of Information or Knowledge.

The past few days, I have been wondering if - and how - Faith and Religion would affect Humanoid sapiens. A 2017 scientific study concludes that religion is an evolved instinct. Also see my 23 May 2017 blog: Religion and human instinct. This conclusion is consistent with the observation that certain animals do perform rituals that suggest proto-religious beliefs (eg, chimps, dolphins, elephants).

Homo sapiens created religious beliefs based on these evolved animal and human instincts. This development matches my ranking above. Our beliefs often limit us from understanding other people. Imagination will however "free your mind, and the rest will follow" (lyrics, video, Wiki).

Hence, I expect that Faith will finally take over from Religion. This is in line with Mahatma Gandhi's conclusion that "God has no religion". Essentially, Amos 5:21 (see Book of Amos from the Old Testament and Hebrew Bible) claims the same. Similar quotes are in the Quran (eg, 22:36–76:136). Religions are already anticipating on this development: see 2017 video.

The Limitless stage does pose some interesting questions: how do you keep focus with unlimited information? How do you prevent information from becoming an existential distraction? To a large extent, we have already approached an era of information overload. How will Humanoid sapiens survive in the new and 4th Limitless stage? To be continued.

No Limit (1993) by 2 Unlimited - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

No no limits, we'll reach for the sky!


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Humanoid sapiens (4)

The 10th and last episode of The Mind of the Universe was about the connection between Nature and Technology and its impact on humans. This connection may bring Humanoid sapiens, the future descendant of Homo sapiens. Their only resemblance might be our human mind.

The human timeline is not very impressive given the age of the Universe (13.8 billion years ago), Milky Way (13.2 bya), Earth (4.5 bya), earliest life forms (3.8 bya), earliest of humans (2-3 million years ago), and now the behaviourally modern humans (40-50 thousand years ago). Behavioral modernity is about the behavioral and cognitive development of the human mind.

The next likely development of the human mind is a combination of Nature and Technology. Compared to computers, our human mind is (i) quite slow in processing information, and (ii) lacks information storage capacity. Our human mind is, however, unique in creativity - or imagination. Technology could enhance the human mind (e.g., augmented reality in Google Glass).

The main challenge for Humanoid sapiens is however not in information (known knowns) but in the 3 other elements of human intelligence: beliefs (known unknowns), intuition (unknown knowns), and imagination (unknown unknowns). Humanoid sapiens can probably not survive without beliefs, intuition and - especially - imagination.

The 2015 Sci-Fi movie CHAPPiE (IMDb) offers a view on how Humanoid sapiens could emerge. One of the scientists is working a program for downloading the human brain onto a computer. One of the key technology obstacles is the immense volume of the human mind and the speed of the download. The upload to a non-organic network takes however little time.

The movie shows that a Humanoid sapiens may assume any “exterior” or form. Hence, our future descendants may not resemble us at all. Humanoid sapiens may use distributed computing in a vast network of intelligence. Knowledge would not get lost unlike the impact of organic death in human beings, which wipes out all existing knowledge.

Humanoid sapiens might be considered immortal from a current Homo sapiens perspective. Its human legacy belief systems would probably make it conquer and rule the Universe. Humanoid sapiens will become the grasshopper of the Universe until it will be stopped by a more advanced species. Given the 10 billion year age difference, other species might be far ahead.

In my view, the above developments are unavoidable and unintentional and are part of Evolution. Evolution, as we now know it, seems to end with the development of Humanoid sapiens. Afterwards, it’s about technological improvements and no longer about genetic mutations to create new and improved species. Evolution and Technology merge into Creation.

Something is still bugging me. Mass extinctions and natural disasters (e.g., Great Flood) thus far prevented the development of a supreme species on Earth. Humanoid sapiens leaving Earth to conquer the Universe would be a major exception. What's the purpose of Humanoid sapiens??

Across the Universe (2002) by Rufus Wainwright - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2