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The Singularity

Much has been written about the so-called “technological singularity“. This is when machines are given sufficient intelligence to play a big role in the future of civilization. According to the wikipedia article, such a future is hard to predict.

We should not forget, however, that there has already been a singularity and we are living it. I call this the “subsistence singularity”, that occurred when mankind was freed from always searching for food, as every other animal must do. The outcome of this prior singularity, in existence for tens of thousands of years, could scarcely have been predicted. We are still trying to understand its implications even though we are in its midst.

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The Seeds of our Own Destruction

It has been written many times that advanced civilizations may contain the seeds of their own destruction. The idea is that our primitive natures do not change as fast as technology, so our capability to destroy ourselves is combined with a primitive mind-set derived from our evolutionary heritage.

I would argue this seed is already planted, and that we have already started our own self-destruction. The modern world is really not that new.

Nearly all of mankind stopped foraging for food thousands of years ago. Our need to make food our primary obsession has been gone for quite some time. Yet, our genetic makeup and propensity for survival are based on the need to constantly seek out our next meal. Seeking our next meal is fundamentally who we are. This requires a certain level of aggression, paranoia and fear. Psychologically, we need to keep looking for food. In reality, we don’t need to do that. This discrepancy explains modern humanity, as it explains humanity for the last few thousand years. Attempts to create utopian societies that do not take our fundamental natures into account are doomed to fail. We do what we are meant to do, according to our genes. We cannot escape this.

The Many Stages Of Self-Deception

OMG! I have way too many things to do. Too many deadlines. I can’t finish the project by tomorrow.

Wait! I’ll just have to put off that snowboarding trip I was planning. Then I can get it done.

That gives me 12 hours more time to do it! No problem.

(Wastes 10 of those hours on the web).

OMG! Deadline is approaching. I better get started. Getting started now.

Wait! I’ll just forego one night’s sleep. That gives my six more hours. No problem.

(I could keep going…)

 

 

Consciousness and Survival

The origination of consciousness was possibly a huge survival advantage. The advantage comes from being self-aware and aware, via an imaginative facility, of how other species may react to our selves. In this way, one can thwart attempts from hostile species to destroy us.

Consciousness led to a corollary need: the need for meaning in life. I can understand a vague connection between being aware of your self and then needing to feel that that self has meaning. The need for meaning led to religion.

Seeking meaning seems fundamental to atheists and religious people.

Men are Inherently Brutal?

This is my response to this NY Times editorial. Among the more extreme I’ve seen.

This is a ridiculous over-generalization. Extremely few men have been exposed, yet this article is about all men. Who says we are not confronting our nature? You mention years and years of such discussion. You live in Canada, which has an “explicitly female” foreign policy. Do male forces drive culture or not?

The ideologies of men are irrelevant? Then how is a discussion to occur?

Sex is every bit about power than pleasure? How do you know that? What about procreation, which is the reason we have a sex drive? Is there a role for that?

Please don’t ignore the aggressiveness of women. Women display aggression as do men. We are all human.

This piece is hatred by a man towards men. This is not the way to make progress. Calling men monsters is not a step forward. I am a man, but I am no monster, I can assure you. There are certainly women who are more monstrous than I. I for one do not want to see the end of sexual attraction. And just think about what you implying regarding homosexuality between males. It’s hate on hate and power versus power. Ugly to contemplate. Many gay men would object I think.

I do not accept that male mechanisms of desire (the erection?) are inherently brutal. This is wacko stuff.

A New Era

Here are comments I wrote after reading Bannon’s views as published by Buzzfeed. These are the comments I left on Bannon’s web site:

This is an important article. It shows how deeply humanitarian Bannon is, and reveals why the left will have problems with him. Basically, he unabashedly believes in Judeo Christian values and in traditional values such as marriage. The left will want a more “relative” take on values and morals.

He also believes in the working and middle class. Decent people who are willing to work hard and want to feel they are not falling farther and farther behind because of it.

Bannon has more understanding of crony capitalism than I ever will. He was an investment banker at Goldman Sachs.

But I see issues. Bannon+Trump is: the visionary of a movement to create a more humanitarian capitalism, and the billionaire who embodies crony capitalism in many ways, or used to (big donor to Hillary and Democrats, etc.). The question is whether Trump has embraced Bannon’s vision, because it’s not Trump’s history.

There is also a question of realism. Is a humanitarian capitalism really possible? It might be that Bannon believes that if capitalism is less “cronyistic”, it will be more humane. That’s not at all clear to me. Yes, our capitalism has crony aspects, but is the cronyism really central to the plight of the working class? Will a “pure capitalism” really help the working and middle classes?

This remains to be seen. It is a central tension in the Trump/Bannon era, a tension that is now being played out.

 

My Diet Advice

In response to this article:

Don’t smoothies have tons of sugar also? I agree that cutting back sugar and carbs for breakfast is the way to go. The best way to lose weight is to deny your body sugar and carbs for long periods at a time (I mean large fractions of a day). That changes your body chemistry so that it starts burning fat, rather than making you feel hungry when the blood sugar drops a little.
 
I do full protein breakfast four times a week, and carbs like granola the other three times. The full protein breakfast is: omelette with “egg beaters” or similar (cholesterol free product), and chopped up veggies in the omelette (I use onions and Japapenos) and turkey sausage. That’s it. No toast, no juice, etc.
 
The extreme point of view on this is Vinnie Tortorich. He likes to use real eggs and pork sausage. He thinks eating cholesterol is not a problem. I’m not there yet. Also, he would not do the granola thing at all.
 
I don’t think you need to be as extreme as Vinnie. Just make sure that carbs are real low (close to zero!) for about 12 hours every day, or perhaps do this for several days a week. You’ll find your body will become fat-burning. You’ll burn fat and also be less hungry.
 
I hope this helps.