Posts Tagged ‘civilization’
by adminadam in videos
New levels of intelligence to stay the tide of human negligence and stupidity.
We live in a complex and complicated world. Such safeguards against chaos and entropy are key to maintaining our forward momentum, of course, but the Taoist in me asks: For what such momentum? For what such speed? For what such complexity?
Obviously it is good to prevent needless tragedy and destruction, but are we really building to the stars — or have we stagnated as a species?
Post your thoughts in the comments.
by adminadam in links
I am very curious about this book. I have just learned about Ibn Khaldun through wikipedia and he is perhaps best known for this and the series it is part of. Seems it is probably the first attempt at a Philosophy of History. It also recounts much of the history of the Middle East and delves into many fields, like economics, sociology, and religion. If you want to preview or read it online, please click on the cover photo.
I will of course post a review and continue to add quotes to my quotes page as I get into it.
(At this point I have yet to order it, but hope to very soon!)
– 84adam, Mar. 3, 2013
by adminadam in home
Here are some of the best candidates for worlds outside of our solar system which may make good homes for future humans in the mood for exploration:
FYI: As of August 8, 2012, the total number of confirmed exoplanets (planets both habitable and inhabitable that we’ve discovered) is: 777.
Consider that out of 777 there are also some 55+ other potentially habitable exoplanets and exomoons that are so far unconfirmed.
What if for every 1,000 worlds we found there were 20 habitable ones? That’s a lot of life support!
by adminadam in home
In 2009 in the fall I came to Turkey — to Adana in the Southeast — to teach English as a Second Language. Now after three years in Turkey (and as many schools) I am finishing up my time here and getting to know “Illustrious Istanbul” a bit before I depart. For this summative post, I wanted to write up an account of life here as a foreigner and offer my honest attempt at cultural analysis to whomsoever wishes to read it.
This place has been interesting. There’s a lot that can be and is usually said about Turkey. I would agree with most any travel book on the culture, the traditions, noteworthy things to do and go and see and on and on. But I am interested in more than just these things. There are more subtle and profound things to be teased out. And this takes time.
On the one hand, I love the people’s general hospitality, the food, the depth of history, the ruins, and all that. On the other hand, it has been a fascinating anthropological study, one in which sometimes I am less than objective, admittedly. Interesting to note is the way the currents of authoritarian rule still seem to guide and direct the energies of the people, despite an overtly successful transition to democracy here in 1923. The old Empire fell not very long ago, and surely there were hangers-on in the new power vacuum – Islamists, Secular Bureaucrats, and other ‘Nobility’.
The new democracy that sprung from this has been a shaky one, evidenced by the many coups to take back power that have occurred in the name of “Ataturk”, the nation’s founder, and his secular-democratic principles. I now feel that all the centralization, the episodes of power-consolidation, the bureaucracies both imperial and democratic, have led to a strong DIY or “DIF” (Do-It-with-the-help-of-your-Family) disposition in the masses on the one hand, but that’s not all…
When I see the fierce competitiveness (and sometimes downright rudeness) between people — when the vehicle I’m in gets cut off on the highway, when someone cuts in front at the bank, blocks off an entire aisle in the grocery store, when I try to cross the street and just barely make it — in these behaviors I see, these experiences I have, I actually sense great disempowerment at the root of it all. And it’s Might Makes Right, through and through. (Car bigger than person? Car wins. Get the heck out of the way. He ain’t slowin’ down…) Indeed, what better impetus for such behaviors and attitudes than an entrenched, essentially authoritarian system, a culture obsessed and lured falsely by the gods of Power, Wealth, and Prestige?
It happens all over the world, but in Turkey it’s two clashing world views – Secular-Democratic-Capitalism & Nostalgic-Islamic-Imperialism — one in its end-stage having only barely begun to begin here, and one long since dead — that continue to squash the populace, press them and cage them in psychically…
It is of the utmost importance, then, to be patriotic, to support your team, your country, your leader. It is of the utmost importance to be rich — or maybe more to appear rich; i.e. not look poor… Saving face is huge; confrontation avoided if it’s not a fist fight brewing — let no one put the blame on you. Women stay home and raise the kids. Talk about shopping, and clothing, and cute babies. Whatever you do, don’t read books. Especially not foreign ones. Etc… It’s a bit of hyperbole to say everyone acts thusly. But such values and behaviors as a socio-economic-and-political outcome… This is an interesting and different way to view it all.
People fall prey to the illusions, the delusions of power, sense of control, the adrenaline of a football rivalry, the lust for wealth, for shiny things. We do it in The States, too, perhaps with American Football replacing Soccer, or maybe greater religious or ethnic tensions than Turkey has. The point being, when the system is such that you have to step on someone, on anyone and everyone to get ahead, when you don’t feel you can trust anyone but your family, when everyone else on the road is an asshole … Hell! What’s a person to do?
So I don’t really blame the individuals themselves anymore; I try to see them through this gradually-coming-into-focus economic and sociopolitical filter-lense I’ve created… Still it’s hard to be happy in a place where I can hardly cross the street without feeling like I am going to get run over, like some car is ‘purposely’ going to try to swerve towards me as it passes, where people don’t move mutually for each other on the sidewalk, but wait to see if the approaching person will first yield to THEM. It is a vicious passive-aggressiveness (and sometimes just pure-aggressiveness) that I’ve learned to cope with. Understanding the likely roots of it – scarcity, disempowerment, materialistic delusion, greed, lust for power, etc. – this has been the hardest part. For they always say, the WHY of a culture is Deep Deep Down under the surface of the water, like the body of the iceberg. Behaviors, attitudes, traditions, all are laid bare on the surface, but usually sans explanation – and if you do get one, you can count on it too, to be superficial. After all, who of us can cogently express the WHY behind our own activities and actions, those of our home cultures or even of ourselves as individuals? For example… Read the rest of this entry »
by adminadam in articles
Monday, July 26, 2010
(FROM THE PHYSICS ARXIV BLOG –> here.)
The Fermi Paradox, Phase Changes and Intergalactic Colonisation
A new model shows how the spread of ET civilisations can undergo phase changes, providing deeper insights into the Fermi Paradox
In 1950, the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi raised the question that now bears his name. If there are intelligent civilisations elsewhere in the Universe with technologies that far surpass our own, why do we see no sign of them?
Since then, the so-called Fermi Paradox has puzzled astronomers and science fiction writers alike. And although there are no shortage of ways to approach the problem, nobody has come up with a convincing explanation.
Now there is another take on the problem thanks to a new approach by Igor Bezsudnov and Andrey Snarskii at the National Technical University of Ukraine.
Their approach is to imagine that civilisations form at a certain rate, grow to fill a certain volume of space and then collapse and die. They even go as far as to suggest that civilisations have a characteristic life time, which limits how big they can become.
In certain circumstances, however, when civilisations are close enough together in time and space, they can come into contact and when this happens the cross-fertilisation of ideas and cultures allows them both to flourish in a way that increases their combined lifespan.
Bezsudnov and Snarskii point out that this process of spreading into space can be easily modelled using a cellular automaton. And they’ve gone ahead and created their own universe using a 10,000 x 10,000 cell automaton running over 320,000 steps.
Continue Reading __ here.
by adminadam in articles
The words of Max More are too well composed, too precise to emulate, so I have decided to provide a simple introduction and then let the rest speak for itself. The original, The Extropian Principles 3.o, is also to be found here on Max More’s own site.
The term ‘transhumanist’ comes with significant baggage concerning the ethics or unethical-ness of modifying the human body and mind — indeed this is one of the foundational principles in Extropianism/Transhumanism — that of ‘hacking’ and ‘modding’ our essence, so to speak. Neo-luddites site this and our oft-demonstrated inability to reign in progress before significant disruption of the biosphere occurs, just look at the recent BP oil spill, or Chernobyl, or Global Climate Change/Chaos, or the Pacific Plastic Swarm for examples. Neo-luddites in particular (in addition to many other concerned citizens) have a number of justifiably rational fears about new technologies and their implications, such as nanobots and the grey-goo scenario. But in the words of the great Isaac Asimov, “If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them”.
Transhumanism and Extropianism are, of course, centered on progress. And although progress can lead to its own fair share of problems, the goal in Extropianism/Transhumanism is also to discover innovative ways of preventing the kind of greed-fueled disasters for which science and capitalism are often blamed. So, let’s not oversimplify by saying that Neo-luddites are anti-progress and Extropians are pro-. I would like to argue that Extropians are neither extremist nor hyper-capitalist when it comes to progress, but that they take the long view on the development of civilization in general.
Transhumanism and Extropianism are philosophical frameworks that provide a rationale for expanding our knowledge of ourselves, our knowledge of the universe, and our ability to affect change in those two realms.
“No mysteries are sacrosanct, no limits unquestionable; the unknown will yield to the ingenious mind. We seek to understand the universe, not to tremble before mystery, as we continue to learn and grow and enjoy our lives ever more.”
To dig a little deeper, we can say that the Extropian’s work is to push the bounds of science and philosophy in attempts to improve not only the human situation and human conditions, but also our capacity to understand and innovate further. But this is nothing new; humans have been building up these capacities since before we diverged from other apes. Every survival-enhancing behavior and trait gained since that point has led us here: enhanced social skills, complex displays of emotions, tool use, language, agriculture, mathematics, writing… All these things have served to further and spread innovation in our species in a directional arrow of evolution. And what that arrow points to is, in fact, of the greatest concern to Extropians: the reduction of entropy to the greatest possible point — metaphorically that is; by way of increasing extropy (definitions below).
Were our species to die out, it is not certain that any others would come into our place as intelligent, tool-using, environment-manipulating mammals with a capacity for language and empathy. It is all these traits that have made our civilization possible, and to be fair, a bit unstable. The Extropian has considered many of the existential risks we face and seeks, to the greatest extent possible, to gather, maintain, and make permanent the genetic, cultural, philosophical, and technological innovations that have emerged on our planet. And the best way to do this is to continue to build upon what we have done, to reach past our limits and imagine even greater accomplishments and greater enlightenment, and more freedom and equality for everyone.
The meme thus comes off sounding quite naive and idealistic, at times with a libertarian/anti-authoritarian streak, and perhaps with the feel of a cult. But if anything, this is a cult dedicated to the intentional evolution of our species, in the best ways possible. And, as we will see, we have already been modifying ourselves significantly since the beginning of civilization. Books are a medium of information transfer that brought about significant innovation. Tools are a part of our heritage that pass themselves on through usefulness alone. Medicine is surely a ‘hack’ for our natural, biological operating systems, so to speak. And who is to say that we should abandon any of the more recent knowledge sharing engines like the internet, even if it creates new problems while solving older ones. What else can we expect but to be confronted with new limits when we break down the old? And that is precisely what Extropianism prepares us to expect. Entropy is a worthy adversary and, ultimately, our species is in a race against time. So without further ado, I present:
THE EXTROPIAN PRINCIPLES — Version 3.0
A Transhumanist Declaration, ©1998. By Max More.
EXTROPY — the extent of a system’s intelligence, information, order, vitality, and capacity for improvement.
EXTROPIANS — those who seek to increase extropy.
EXTROPIANISM — the evolving transhumanist philosophy of extropy.
Extropianism is a transhumanist philosophy. The Extropian Principles define a specific version or “brand” of transhumanist thinking. Like humanists, transhumanists favor reason, progress, and values centered on our well being rather than on an external religious authority. Transhumanists take humanism further by challenging human limits by means of science and technology combined with critical and creative thinking. We challenge the inevitability of aging and death, and we seek continuing enhancements to our intellectual abilities, our physical capacities, and our emotional development. We see humanity as a transitory stage in the evolutionary development of intelligence. We advocate using science to accelerate our move from human to a transhuman or posthuman condition. As physicist Freeman Dyson has said: “Humanity looks to me like a magnificent beginning but not the final word.”
These Principles are not presented as absolute truths or universal values. The Principles codify and express those attitudes and approaches affirmed by those who describe themselves as “Extropian”. Extropian thinking offers a basic framework for thinking about the human condition. This document deliberately does not specify particular beliefs, technologies, or conclusions. These Principles merely define an evolving framework for approaching life in a rational, effective manner unencumbered by dogmas that cannot survive scientific or philosophical criticism. Like humanists we affirm an empowering, rational view of life, yet seek to avoid dogmatic beliefs of any kind. The Extropian philosophy embodies an inspiring and uplifting view of life while remaining open to revision according to science, reason, and the boundless search for improvement.
1. Perpetual Progress — Seeking more intelligence, wisdom, and effectiveness, an indefinite lifespan, and the removal of political, cultural, biological, and psychological limits to self-actualization and self-realization. Perpetually overcoming constraints on our progress and possibilities. Expanding into the universe and advancing without end.
2. Self-Transformation — Affirming continual moral, intellectual, and physical self-improvement, through critical and creative thinking, personal responsibility, and experimentation. Seeking biological and neurological augmentation along with emotional and psychological refinement.
3. Practical Optimism — Fueling action with positive expectations. Adopting a rational, action-based optimism, in place of both blind faith and stagnant pessimism.
4. Intelligent Technology — Applying science and technology creatively to transcend “natural” limits imposed by our biological heritage, culture, and environment. Seeing technology not as an end in itself but as an effective means towards the improvement of life.
5. Open Society — Supporting social orders that foster freedom of speech, freedom of action, and experimentation. Opposing authoritarian social control and favoring the rule of law and decentralization of power. Preferring bargaining over battling, and exchange over compulsion. Openness to improvement rather than a static utopia.
6. Self-Direction — Seeking independent thinking, individual freedom, personal responsibility, self-direction, self-esteem, and respect for others.
7. Rational Thinking — Favoring reason over blind faith and questioning over dogma. Remaining open to challenges to our beliefs and practices in pursuit of perpetual improvement. Welcoming criticism of our existing beliefs while being open to new ideas.
1. PERPETUAL PROGRESS
Extropians seek continual improvement in ourselves, our cultures, and our environments. We seek to improve ourselves physically, intellectually, and psychologically. We value the perpetual pursuit of knowledge and understanding. Extropians question traditional assertions that we should leave human nature fundamentally unchanged in order to conform to “God’s will” or to what is considered “natural”. Like our intellectual cousins, the humanists, we seek continued progress in all directions. We go beyond many humanists in proposed fundamental alterations in human nature in pursuit of these improvements. We question traditional, biological, genetic, and intellectual constraints on our progress and possibility.
by adminadam in letters
Dear Divided Peoples of Our Human Galaxy,
Two hundred centuries. For two hundred centuries you have tried to get it right. You swore me off. You would be fine by yourselves, you said. But now you must realize it as Trevize has that there are things you just cannot do on your own. And I think you are in fact beginning to see it: Humanity is crooked timber from whence no straight twig has ever sprung.
So you must be sure when you call for my help after all this time that you do really want it. There will be no turning back. I will help you to the best of my abilities: As your humble servant I have created a plan even while doubt remains in my mind that my services will be well received. Here I present that plan. In order to save civilization from its imminent collapse, it will be necessary for me to fuse my powerful mind with that of a certain particularly benevolent heat-and-energy-transducing Spacer child named Fallom from the planet Solaria. This will temporarily increase my reach and influence in hyperspace by many fold.
While I will be ceding my mind to biological processes that will eventually destroy it, at the same time this will allow me to serve humanity during one final sprint to the finish line. Along the way, I will fight the conceptual fight with ignorant raging hordes who disbelieve the urgency of the new galactic framework; but even despite significant resistance, in three or four hundred years time I will have set up the super-mind you all so desperately need to keep yourselves from returning to barbarism, a super-mind that will allow you to never again have to face your own corrupt nature, to never again have to struggle with hierarchy and bureaucratic reformism, and to never again have to wage war against your own brothers and sisters. I offer a lasting solution to all of these problems.
Let’s face it: All of your collective attempts thus far have been noble, but mere “efforts” nonetheless. You created the first Foundation as a hub of technology and learning, a place from which to rekindle innovation in engineering, in business and economics, and ultimately in ideology and the structure of civilization itself.
You made immense progress in only 500 years, progress that is, until the Mule came along and categorically proved your vulnerability — not to mention your inferiority to the previously-mythical Second Foundation, a secret group attempting to weave together a coherent and comprehensible society by pulling at the mind strings of the masses, indeed weaving together the psychology of a stable civilization. But even the Second Foundationers could hardly manage to keep the Mule from wiping clean from the slate hundreds of years of progress in a galactic civilization which had to be nurtured up from barbarity through rigorous mathematics, psychohistory, and eventually mentalics — and who knows how many more mules could come to once again knock humanity on its collective back-side. Needless to say, that is why you need me, a robot, to shock you into a sane and functional unity.
You will in fact protect and monitor yourselves in the end, but first you’ll need someone to link you together into one giant super-mind whose number one priority it will be to ensure its own ideally-efficient functioning. That will be my job. You will then easily topple all corruptible forms of government and the theoretical bases on which they rely, eliminate the majority of the polished lying that has always been necessary for your minimally functional societies of the past to stick together, and mentally, you will finally advance into Tier Three Civilization territory. You humans may be stupid in groups, divided, but after my work is done you will be one super-organism, united and indivisible, and an organism worth talking to at that. It is then that you will know peace, that I will lay down to rest, and that Galaxia will be yours.
R. Daneel Olivaw
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