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Monday, 31 July 2017

Perfection of means and confusion of aims

On 28 September 1941, Albert Einstein spoke these famous words at a Science Conference in London: "Perfection of means and confusion of goals seem, in my opinion, to characterize our age." (eg, Entersection, video > 8 minutes, Wiki).

Although the immediate context of Einstein's message relates to WW2, there seems to be a universal truth in his words. The bigger companies or societies become, the more need there is for specialised functions (eg, business units, departments, specialists). The more we specialise, the more difficult it becomes to communicate with each other (e.g., jargon). Hence, Einstein's appeal for having a "common language". Our perfection of means results in a confusion of aims.

The relentless media focus on (extreme) minority interests and/or opinions is creating a similar phenomenon. The exception no longer confirms the rule but becomes the rule in media coverage. While covering the exceptions may perfect the number of readers or viewers, it also confuses the message to society. 

Back in the 1980s, I noticed a huge discrepancy between American reality in daily life and on TV. TV mainly showed criminal incidents and relentless advertisements for opioids (eg, pain killers). One might argue that reality in daily American life has now caught up with TV reality. In 2016, the CDC announced that the United States is in the midst of an unprecedented prescription opioid overdose epidemic (PDF).

The Technological Revolution of 1800-2100 also fits well in Albert Einstein's message. We have perfected technology (means) to such an extent that its aim is confused. The recent Charlie Gard debate shows the increasing discrepancy between medical technology (means) and the Hippocratic Oath (aim). Baby Charlie became the perfect means for the confused aims of others.

"Connecting the world" was/is the aim of Facebook, "an online social media and social networking service". Wiki: "Social media are computer-mediated technologies (LO: means) that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks." It's still a matter of intense debate whether Facebook's perfection of means has created a confusion of aims.

Religion is another example: who really believes that Allah, God and Yahweh are different deities? Religion has perfected the means (eg, book and place of worship) and confused the aims (ie, Faith in a deity or Supreme Being). Politics also perfected the means (ie, Power) and confused its aims (eg, leadership, public service). 

In my opinion, the words of Albert Einstein need to be rephrased: "Perfection of means and confusion of goals seem to characterize humanity."

Living in Confusion (1991) by Phyllis Hyman - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Seems like I'm always going through changes
Living in confusion
Confusion, confusion


Sunday, 30 July 2017

Don't Look Any Further




Don't Look Any Further (1984) by Dennis Edwards featuring Siedah Garrett

Someone to count on in a world ever changin'.
Here I am, stop where you standin'.
What you need is a lover, a man to take over.
Oh girl don't look any further.

Strange when you think of the chances
That we've both been in a state of mind.
Too cool to be careless. Looking for the right thing.
Oh baby don't look any further.

Tonight (tonight) we're gonna taste a little paradise.
Rockin' all night long. Rockin' all night long.
Daylight (daylight) I'll still be looking in your heavenly eyes.
Oh we rocked on and on and on.

Day o umba day o mambu ji ay o.
Don't look any further. Don't you look no further.
Day o umba day o na jam bay um bay o.
Don't look any further.

Someone to count on (someone to count on) in a world ever changin'.
Here I am, stop where you standin'.
What you need is a lover (you need a lover)
to love you all over (love you all over).
Oh baby don't look any further (further).

Tonight (tonight) we're gonna taste a little paradise.
Rock you all night long.
Rock me all night long.
Daylight (daylight) I'll still be looking in your heavenly eyes.
We'll go on and on and on.

Day o umba day o mambu ji ay o.
Don't look any further. Don't you look no further.
Day o umba day o na jam bay um bay o.
Don't look any further.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Levels of consciousness (2) - unconscious

Consciousness has 4 main states: conscious, unconscious, subconscious and superconscious. Yesterday's blog was about the most common state: being conscious. Its related brain activity is thinking. Another familiar state is being unconscious (eg, sleeping). Its most common related brain activity is dreaming. There are also some other unconscious activities.


Personal unconsciousness is limited in Time and has two states: (1) temporary forgotten information and repressed memories, and (2) dreams. The 1st state often results in human "complexes". 

The Space dimension is different between both states of personal unconsciousness because the locations in #1 are limited, while the locations in #2 (dreams) are (potentially) unlimited.

The collective unconscious is unlimited in both Space and Time. 

Carl Jung did not offer a solution for the box in the left bottom corner: unlimited Time and limited Space. This empty box puzzled me for a while. 

The ancient Sumerian beliefs do, however, offer a solution that fits (1) the unconscious part of our brain and (ii) fits the Time and Space dimensions

According to ancient Sumerian beliefs the (divine) Soul (zaqiqu) can travel during the human sleep (limited Time, unlimited Space). After our demise, the (divine) Soul leaves the body and continues its existence (unlimited Time, unlimited Space). In some cases, the (bodily) spirit (etemmu) continues living as a ghost (unlimited Time, limited Space).

The ancient Sumerian beliefs on the departing (divine) Soul, and Carl Jung's collective unconscious match in a beautiful way. The collective unconscious might be equal to the collection of all Souls of all persons whom ever existed. Moreover, scientists claim that information is never lost in the Universe (eg, Quora), and even despite the existence of black holes (eg, BBC).

Twilight Zone (1982) by Golden Earring - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Friday, 28 July 2017

Levels of consciousness and thinking

Yesterday, I stumbled on a new word - superconscious. This stirred up my internal curiosity as I realised that superconscious was #4 in a row of 3 others: conscioussubconscious and unconscious. The "levels of consciousness" in Wikipedia is quite an interesting starting point.

After some reflection, I realised that the conscious level has a direct connection to my 21 July 2017 diagram on human intelligence - or thinking. I decided to prepare a new diagram outlining the levels of consciousness and the levels of (human) thinking - or intelligence.

Homo sapiens is mostly at the limited level of consciousness: thinking and dreams.

Some people have special abilities which we usually refer to as extrasensory perception - or ESP. I suspect these abilities arise from the subconscious which volume is - allegedly - 10 to 30,000 times more powerful than our conscious.

Wiki: "The term [ESP] was adopted by Duke University psychologist J. B. Rhine to denote psychic abilities such as intuition, telepathy, psychometry, clairaudience, and clairvoyance, and their trans-temporal operation as precognition or retrocognition.

Super- or higher consciousness is a "transcendental reality". Wiki: "it has ancient roots, dating back to the Bhagavad Gita (recited 5119 years ago) and Indian Vedas."

Humanoid sapiens, the descendants of Homo sapiens, will probably be the 1st human species entering the unlimited dimensions of Space and Time, a.k.a. the superconscious. 

The diagram above details Thinking as a sub diagram of Consciousness. This suggests that the 3 other levels of consciousness may also have a more detailed sub diagram. I will start working on those. My diagram does not include the labels voluntary and involuntary consciousness. Nevertheless, this distinction occurred to me as a sudden line of thought.

I am pleased and proud to present this epiphany to you.

Higher Love (1986) by Steve Winwood - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Thursday, 27 July 2017

Air France KLM

Actually, it's a near miracle that the 2004 merger between Air France and KLM is still operational. Mergers between or with French companies have often been dysfunctional (eg, Alcatel-Lucent, BAE-EADSOrange-Bouygues, Publicis-OmnicomVivendiVolvo-Renault, Wiki).

On 18 July 2017, Dutch newspapers reported on a failed cooperation between Air France and KLM (eg, Dutch FTDutch Telegraph). On 20 July 2017, the Guardian also reported on the leaked internal Air France KLM culture study by a Dutch and French consultant. The Dutch and French observations about each other's culture are entertaining, indicative and relevant. 

I suspect that this internal company study was purposely leaked by top management, given this Air France-KLM statement: “The conclusion of this study identifies cultural differences and different visions leading sometimes to difficulties but also a common interest and the desire to find solutions in the interest of Air France-KLM group and each airline.” (eg, Guardian, KLM)

Some excerpts from the Guardian: (1) “The French have the impression that the Dutch think only of money and are always ready to fight for profit. They are not afraid of anything.” (2) “The Dutch think that the French are attached to a hierarchy and political interests which are not necessarily the same as the interests of the company." These excerpts could however have been said about any Dutch or French company. 

Dutch society is based on consensus decision-making. Lobby organisations for employers (e.g., VNO-NCW) and employees (e.g., CNV, FNV) propose joint solutions to the government. Decision-making is decentralised in order to improve acceptance and support of decisions. This typical Dutch phenomenon has been nicknamed the "polder model". The relative absence of social classes in The Netherlands is often demonstrated by the Dutch King and Queen. Another striking feature is the absence of Dutch chauvinism and their admiration of other cultures.

French society is almost the exact opposite of Dutch society. It's highly centralised with an astounding gap between population and the elite, including the omnipresent French aristocracy. The French family name defines one's future. Decision-making in business and politics is by directive from the top. In general, French employees view their employers as the "enemy". Starting-up new businesses is not facilitated by the government, unlike the Netherlands.

Hence, the Dutch and French culture collide on many levels, including language. The French regard French as a leading language. The Dutch consider English as a leading language and hardly speak any French. The vast Dutch vacation presence in France is much to the annoyance of the French. In general, the Dutch are viewed as having loud and rude behaviour (extrovert), whereas the French are seen as having arrogant and pompous behaviour (introvert).

Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, King of Holland (1806-1810) was however genuinely interested in Dutch people and even resisted his brother Napoleon Bonaparte, the French Emperor. He was also popular and widely respected in Dutch society, which is still largely based on his legacy.

Vogelvrij / L'Oiseau (2008) by Jack Poels & Alderliefste


L'Oiseau (1965) - OST Belle et Sébastien - videoWiki


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Do people deserve a 2nd chance?

On the website debate.org the answer is clear: 80% says that people should get 2nd chances, and 20% objects. The "No" answers usually refer to all kinds of criminals and (sex) offenders. I expected that terrorists would also be mentioned but I was wrong.

Recently, the FT posed a similar question on the several thousands of dead bodies in Mosul: "In death, what do men who have “murdered, raped and pillaged” deserve? This investigation shows the city’s inhabitants have an obvious answer: not much."

I wouldn't mind offering people a 2nd chance provided that I would be sure (enough) that history would not repeat itself. I doubt that I would be able to trust people who have committed crimes against humanity. Once people have crossed a certain red line then their guilt and shame thresholds can no longer be trusted as a compass for moral behaviour.

There is a flip side to that coin: When people exceed my tolerance levels then the vigilante in me wants to get out. Usually, I am able to restrain my vigilante because often there is mutual accountability and responsibility involved - and thus mutual guilt. Revenge and retaliation would only make matters worse.

In general, people who do not show regret and remorse fail the test to obtain a 2nd chance in life. Judges usually grant some clemency in their verdict when a crime is (i) acknowledged and (ii) sincere regret and remorse are expressed.

When it comes to judgement, there is a serious discrepancy in religion between the historical vindictive concept ("an eye for an eye") and its more modern opposite - forgiveness. The concept of forgiveness is slightly different between Judaism (no requirement but encouraged), Christianity (duty), and Islam (virtue).

The Christian duty to show mercy becomes nearly impossible in case of evil. Evil has no guilt, shame, regret or remorse and takes pleasure in admitting its accountability and responsibility. Evil knows what it's doing and enjoys it. Hence, evil should be an exception to forgiveness: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23: 34 NIV).

Granting people a 2nd chance implies our expectation that such people are willing - and have the intention - to change their behaviour. Change is however a delicate process that requires understanding, accepting and believing in Change. Change will only be long-lasting in case of willpower and faith (in these new beliefs). Also see my 12 June 2017 blog.

True remorse is never just a regret over consequences; it is a regret over motive. A quote by Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983), American author and journalist.

While You See a Chance (1980) by Steve Winwood 


Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Intelligence

Recently, my interest was caught after noticing the FT article: "Why are we clever? DNA has nothing to do with it". Apparently, science does not know a lot about intelligence. This is hardly surprising as "the brain is the most complex structure in the universe" (eg, BBC, NPR, NYT).

Independent (2014): "Our brain is more mysterious than the least explored regions of the deepest ocean." The following quote will put the previous one in perspective. Scientific American (2014): "Less than 0.05% of the ocean floor has been mapped to a level of detail useful for detecting items such as airplane wreckage or the spires of undersea volcanic vents".

Hence, it's rather difficult to answer any of the questions related to intelligence: What, When, Where, Who, Why and How. The problem starts at #1: What is intelligence?? The Who question used to be simple (ie, humans only) but intelligence is attributed to more and more animals. The latest addition are ravens who can plan for the future (eg, AtlanticCBC, Nat Geo).

Forbes (2016): "The whole field [of intelligence research] suffers from foundational weaknesses: we cannot really define intelligence, and cannot separate it from culture. Psychologists do indeed have definitions of intelligence but (surprise!) these definitions tend to emphasize skills at which psychologists excel: verbal fluency and manipulation of abstract symbols, for example."

Sometimes, researchers again claim to have found the gene for intelligence but there is always a catch attached to this claim. Telegraph (2015): "Imperial College London has found that two networks of genes determine whether people are intelligent or not so bright." Here is the catch: "Scientists believe that there must be a ‘master switch’ regulating the networks and if they could find it, they could ‘switch on’ intelligence for everyone."

The Nature versus Nurture scientific debate wants us to believe that intelligence is either linked to biology (eg, genes, DNA) or to cultural aspects like (religious) education, parental upbringing, and social environment (eg, friends, social class). The field of astrological psychology attributes intelligence to the 3 indicators in your horoscope: Saturn, Mercury and Jupiter (source).

The TV documentary The Mind of the Universe argues that human intelligence is more and more connecting, collaborating, and might once become a universal network of collective intelligence. In my blog on The human Truman Show, I have argued for the opposite: the human mind might be a mere “cell” in an existing Mind of the Universe. The "master switch" is handled by an unknown scientific phenomenon, which Religion refers to as a deity or Supreme Being.

Intelligence is like a combination of fertile ground, the right seed for the right soil, the right time for sowing the seed (astronomical calendar), and nurturing the land (eg, farmer skills, water). The "master switch" might be called (random) Chance, (divine) Destiny, or a mix of both.

Sowing the Seeds of Love (1989) by Tears For Fears


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


Tuesday, 18 July 2017

That special UK-US relationship

The Special Relationship is a term introduced by Winston Churchill in a 1946 speech for describing “the political, diplomatic, cultural, economic, military and historical relations" between the UK and the US. It’s remarkable that this special relationship works both up and down. Both countries are in political chaos and losing Power in the international community. Why?

Their 2-party political system worked well for many decades. The chaos that we now see is the result of a decline that started in the 1980s. Those years are characterized by the 1987 movie Wall Street (IMDb) and Gordon Gekko's phrase: "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." Those years also created 2 classes of citizens in a 2-party system: winners and losers.

Since the early 1980's, the Anglo-American model of winners & losers has drifted away from the continental European Rhineland model, based on consensus decision-making. A growing divergence in economic growth was its result. However, a “winner takes all” model only favours one of its 2 classes of citizens after each election (e.g., tax breaks vs healthcare). Hence, the UK and US societies become increasingly divided following perceived nepotism.

The laws of Nature dictate that pressure will equalize: Avogadro, Boyle, Dalton, Pascal, Raoult. In this context, the political deadlock in UK and USA is an equalization of Power - or pressure. Any force has a unique mix of durability (Time) and intensity (Space) as total Energy is limited. In this view, the Anglo-American model focused on intensity and Rhineland on durability.

The current chaos in UK & US politics could imply that its model has run out of Energy. Only change would end its chaos. Such change includes (i) a 1-party system, or (ii) a multi-party system after a split from 2 in 4. Trump’s USA seems eager to explore a 1-party system. Its alternative might realign the Anglo-American and Rhineland model.

The equalization of pressure - and Power - is likely to affect its underlying elements. This thought would explain the mediocrity of political candidates. Only outsiders stand a chance of creating Change – or Chaos (e.g., Obama, Trump).

Having 1 opponent in life simplifies one's (outward) view on (complex) reality. It creates an inward "selfish" focus and difficulty coping with change. Having multiple opponents, requires an outward focus and a willingness to accept change in order to survive.

Hence, it’s too easy blaming Russia for the chaos in the UK and USA despite its meddling in Brexit and the 2016 US presidential election. The inherent weaknesses of a 2-party political system allow for such external vulnerabilities. Russia "successfully" exploited them.

The current chaos in the UK-US might also relate to today's political challenges, which require a view on durability rather than intensity: climate change, economic (mass) migration, global ageing demographics, global population growth, Technological Revolution 1800-2100, urbanization.

You’re a Special Part of Me (1973) by Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye - lyricsvideo, Wiki


Monday, 17 July 2017

Mrs May's Machiavellian Moves (6) - the Brexit oxymoron

The outcome of the UK's snap election has created a unique situation. Nobody will challenge Mrs May's role as UK PM for the next 2 years. Brexit has become a radioactive toxic file with severe contamination risk. Brexit can only ruin one's political career until April 2019.

The UK PM is actually quite lucky as both main parties do not know what they want. The only thing that UK Labour wants, is to succeed the Conservatives. Afterwards the same chaos will re-emerge as Labour is also deeply divided over Brexit. Hence, no one will dare to backstab Mrs May during the 2017-2019 Brexit negotiations. Mrs May has bought herself 2 more years.

It's quite possible that Mrs May will become the proverbial Phoenix from her own political ashes. Initially, I was quite convinced that Mrs May has a stroke of Machiavellian genius. Her subsequent actions made me doubt my assessment. However, even her apparent clumsiness might be part of her Machiavellian moves. It's often better when people underestimate you.

It's hard to conceive in Continental Europe that hardly any Brit has an idea what Brexit means, apart from Mrs May's rather useless 2016 slogan "Brexit means Brexit". If you don't know where you are going to, then chaos is the likely end result.

The key oxymoron of Brexit is whether the British exit from the European Union is a choice for Nationalism or Internationalism (a.k.a. globalization). Considering pre-Brexit slogans, it was about Nationalism and taking back control from the EU. Theresa May however claims that post Brexit "Britain will lead a new era of free trade" and that Britain is committed to free trade and globalization (eg, NYT). Brexit cannot be both. Hence, the oxymoron.

This key oxymoron explains the British negotiation stance towards the EU: they want a divorce but do not want to leave the house or pay for the joint bills. This 2nd oxymoron explains the often used British proverb that "you can't have your cake and eat it".

Despite an initial and repeated refusal to pay a divorce settlement bill to the EU, "the UK quietly recognised financial obligations to the EU in a written statement to parliament on Thursday" (Guardian): "The Government recognises that the UK has obligations to the EU, and the EU obligations to the UK, that will survive the UK’s withdrawal—and that these need to be resolved."

The current UK acknowledgements on (i) EU citizens living in the UK and (ii) the EU divorce settlement bill are necessary to secure the 3rd agenda item: a future trade agreement between the EU and the UK. In true Machiavellian spirit, the end will justify the means.

The end result may become a major case of window-dressing: the UK will pay (much) more money to the EU (eg, losing UK rebate), and similarly claim independence to its citizens and voters. Everybody happy, at least for now. 

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (1991) from Monty Python's Life of Brian

Always look on the bright side of life
If life seems jolly rotten
There's something you've forgotten!
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing


Sunday, 16 July 2017

Time to think

Since 8 July, I've had some time to think because my back pains returned following several weeks of stress. Sitting in a chair and getting up both equalled torture. The prospect of pain took away my pleasure in writing. Actually, I lost my inspiration too. Nothing really mattered anymore (lyrics, video). When you have plenty of time, there is no escape from thinking.

Time to think is not something which most of us look forward to. While thinking comes naturally to me, it’s still pretty threatening when there’s nothing else to do. In my mind I’ve been revisiting my past, present and future. It didn’t cheer me up. Time to think never really does. It reminds us of doubtful decisions, missed opportunities, and lots of uncertainties going forward.

I suppose the above is the reason why we avoid taking time to think. Our busy lives – mine not included - allow for little time to think. Our mindset is often on the following day(s) and perhaps next week. Anything beyond seems irrelevant “today”. Being in control requires having certainties. A short-term outlook enables that sense of control.

Until a week ago, I was just living in the Now. Once you let someone enter into your life, there’s also the prospect of a joint Future. My mind may have been belittling that Future but my body certainly did not. The recent events of 8 and 12 June and its uncanny parallel with 8 June 2016 hurt my confidence, hope and trust. My body saw its usual way out in stressful times.

My girlfriend’s imminent medical examination will probably reveal nothing as we know almost nothing about that part of the human body. I’m not looking forward to her new examination and neither is she. I’ll support her decision anyway as it will be the right one - whatever she decides. She has been living on borrowed time for decades. I’m confident there’s a good reason for that.

Obviously, I was and still am afraid of losing her, and I’m not the only one. It explains my current stress levels to a large extent. Things in life are, however, often more complicated than one single event explaining all. My life’s plate of spaghetti still has several threads left to sort out and digest. Rushing decisions is not part of my approach.

I wasn’t the only one who had ample time to think. That mutual thinking brought us closer together. We are discussing future plans and that has lifted my moods – and hers. These discussions are conditional, hypothetical and even premature but nevertheless they still feel good.

Time to think is more dangerous when you’re thinking alone. It’s easy to amplify future risks and uncertainties. It’s tempting to minimise opportunities and appreciate what you have now. When there’s time to think together than creativity and enthusiasm bring out a more balanced line of thought. In business, this process would be called “brainstorming”.

Time to think together requires certain characteristics: communication, respect, togetherness, trust, vulnerability. These 5 belong to the 7 elements of a unique relationship (see my 2016 blog). I must admit that it feels so good!

Feels So Good (1977) by Chuck Mangione - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Monday, 10 July 2017

The human Truman Show

You may remember the 1998 movie The Truman Show (IMDb), in which Jim Carrey lives in a village observed by cameras and unknowingly features in a reality TV show. Some scientists argue that humans may also live in a virtual reality, like The Matrix (IMDb).

Perhaps, you may already have wondered whether you are just a pawn in a game by the Gods. I must admit that this thought has indeed crossed my mind once in a while. Sometimes events occur in our life that are just too difficult to grasp. Such events might be similar to humans playing (evil) games with ants (eg, New ScientistNPRVolkskrant).

A human body consists of some 37.2 trillion individual cells (link). Nevertheless, it feels as if we are one. Every 7-10 years, the cells in our body are replaced by new cells. Yet, we never feel a different person. Perhaps our most remarkable body part is our brain. René Descartes once stated: “I think, therefore I am”. Explaining this concept of “thinking” is however far from easy.

I have argued before that our human mind (brain) doesn't feel the limitations of our human body. The human mind might even be trapped in our ageing body. Our solution is creating humanoid sapiens, our future descendant (see my blogs). This might qualify as an escape attempt, similar to Neo’s escape attempts from The Matrix.

Another way of looking at the above is that our human body is a mere "vessel" for our mind. This thought occurred to me after reading the movie plot of Meet Dave (IMDb).

My most provoking thought is that our mind is a mere “cell” in the Mind of the Universe. Concepts like consciousness, (self-) awareness, and thinking would suddenly require new definitions. A human body would enable that "cell" in the Mind of the Universe to perform “machine" learning. Human intelligence might then be a derivative of "artificial" intelligence rather than vice versa.

The above is in line with a concept called panpsychism. Wiki: “In philosophy, panpsychism is the view that consciousness, mind or soul (psyche) is a universal and primordial feature of all things. Panpsychists see themselves as minds in a world of mind. [] The recent interest in the hard problem of consciousness has revived interest in panpsychism.”

Wiki: “The hard problem of consciousness is the problem of explaining how and why we have [] phenomenal experiences—how sensations acquire characteristics, such as colors and tastes.”

In my view, the answer is about (machine) learning. Our mind has received a sublime "vessel" for picking up information and digesting it. Without that vessel, no new information could be processed. An expanding Universe might equal expanding information - or learning.

The only thing that separates humans from being learning machines is our Soul (zaqiqu in Sumerian). According to ancient Sumerian beliefs, humans "woke up" following a divine "breath of life" - or breeze. This concept still applies in subsequent religious beliefs like Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Soul is the divine gift that makes humans unique.

Summer (Sumer) breeze (1972) by Seals & Crofts - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2