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theadvancedapes  ·  3301 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: John Oliver, Edward Snowden, and Unconditional Basic Income  ·  

    and Medium took it and ran as fast as they could with it.

You mean Scott Santerns - a basic income advocate and someone who blogs using the Medium platform - who does not represent Medium itself...

    Upon broaching the subject of Unconditional Basic Income, she was offended that the movement parades under the banner of "liberalism". She sees the idea as a radically-left, obviously socialist policy that undermines moderate leftists.

Liberals like this play the political game on conservative terms. Only a new radical left can help solve our modern issues with government/economics. The job of the radical left is to render the conservative/liberal tension obsolete: taking the economy to a new meta-level (what the next tensions will be I am not sure but my intuition is that they will revolve around transhumanism and super-collective intelligence).

    The EU isn't doing so hot, but Scandinavia is more or less fine.

Countries like Denmark and Sweden are proof that building a human economy and being a competitive economic entity are not mutually exclusive concepts for developed countries in the 21st century. It is possible, in fact, they may be reaching a point where they can become more competitive (if the "Collaborative Commons" starts outcompeting traditional market forces).

    Instituting UBI in America would have to be a process, and a long one at that. If we woke up with the policy in place tomorrow, I think almost all of your minimum wage employees wouldn't show up for work.

MAYBE. Research with basic income communities shows that people work more overall in a basic income society because they are more in control of defining their own work trajectory. There are many structural status quo 'impossibility' notions at work in the idea that the system would collapse because we wouldn't have minimum wage slaves. In particular I am interested in the fact that people say that most people will stop showing up to bullshit jobs - but my response is SO WHAT? I am sick of living in a society built on alienated (read: dehumanising) labour. Moreover, people will say that everyone will stop working alienating jobs, but I am more interested in the fact that people will not then simply do nothing. People want meaningful work. How about let's focus a discussion on that.

    It's pretty obvious whose pockets the money will have to come from for UBI to exist. But these people, with their deep pockets, are actively making policy to retain as many pennies as possible. They don't want this. They don't want anyone talking about this. No, it will absolutely take serious social unrest before the discussion enters into the mainstream media circus. And again, it won't happen immediately or quickly. The process will be necessarily painful.

Demand the impossible.

    There are also people who absolutely will not.

This is neoliberal ideology. The people who are a drain on society in the developed world are the mega-rich, not struggling low-income workers or the unemployed. People who receive a basic income and just decide to spend their basic income without doing anything extra will still have to spend their entire salary in the market. Also, we must work hard to ensure that new forms of collaboration and entrepreneurship will enable people to explore inherent pro-social and pro-creative interests and passions. I think that if we design a truly human economy we can eventually eliminate alienated labour altogether which will render redundant the whole discussion of whether someone is "employed" or "not employed". The goal should be collective self-actualisation - no one is left behind - all options for growth are open.

    Edit: To you, Cadell, if you have the time - Everything I argued above is assuming a strictly domestic UBI (domestic to the U.S.). If a unified global hierarchy does indeed see adoption during the 21st century, you've gotta scrape a whole lot more wealth off the top to distribute to poorer regions. This complicates things... significantly. I hope transhumanism has got some A+ solutions in its bag.

IMHO - I think the job of the government today (and the job of a new international left) is to shift economic focus from corporate activity to commons activity (this means - as a foundation - huge investment in making education, health care, food, water, shelter free). New economy: all basic creature needs are a human right and non-negotiable (this is why modern liberals are destroying the left, and why they are playing the political game on conservative terms). I don't think this requires the erection of a "global hierarchy" - in fact - quite the opposite. I disagree with economists like Piketty that a global government is going to emerge to regulate a global market and distribute funds from a global wealth tax. True global organization is distributed organization (i.e. no central control). When we have reached the end of history there will be no state, but to get there we need to radically democratise the state and create a globe that is a common space for all humans. My hope is that one or several countries will lead the way in this initiative - in the developed or the developing world (i.e. Switzerland or Namibia for example) can institute a basic income and start experimenting with communities based on social self-organization projects. If you are interested about what is happening with basic income initiatives/advocates/research in Belgium, Switzerland, and Namibia I'd recommend this documentary which gives a nice summary.

EDIT: Here I would also like to add an old Hegelian notion that speaks to our current situation (which I believe to be largely one of overcoming our own psychology):

For Hegel: in order to pass from alienation to reconciliation, we do not have to change reality, but rather the way we perceive and relate to it.

In other words: we need to change the way we perceive and relate to our labour/work/society - we need totally new foundations for adult human life. Until that happens - we are going to continue to have the contours of our collective life organized by impersonal persons (corporations).

theadvancedapes  ·  3561 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Ben Goertzel on Psychedelics  ·  

I've read these AGI works by him: x, y, z. All worth your time and consideration. I've always been impressed by Goertzel's philosophy and ambition. His ideas about future mind stemming from his work on novamente seem to me to be a plausible future for our subjective experiences. He summarized these ideas in a paper about Mindplexes. However, like I think everyone else, I have no idea when AGI will come or what form it will take. I don't know if Ben's on the right track... and I would need to dedicate years in order to feel comfortable giving an answer! But I do try and keep up to date on what is being done in the field. And I wouldn't be surprised if Ben was a part of the team that made a big breakthrough!

theadvancedapes  ·  3593 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Creative Universe  ·  

    How can we be certain of this? Is it not true that some animals dream?

Well, 100% certainty? I'm not sure we can be 100% certain of almost anything. And to be sure it is an area of study and inquiry filled with speculation so you have to be careful to weed out the sense from the non-sense. But the rationale for stating that other organisms live entirely in the present comes from the fact that no other animals possess language, and therefore do not run a narrative. And it is a narrative that allows you to leave the present, otherwise you are simply experiencing percepts (perceptions). It is true that these percepts will accumulate over time and give you a type of "biological memory" like "last time I touched that stove I burned myself so I shouldn't touch it again" or "last time I encountered the smell of this human he was nice so it's ok to go up to him". But the organism isn't thinking about these experiences in narrative form. So you can think of the biological memory as a sort of intelligent guide from past experience, but the guide isn't letting you revisit that past. I wrote about this here. In contrast, humans can come up with concepts/abstractions, interesting cognitive tricks that help us recall past experiences in detail. Also human language helps us explore the vast realms of the future. As Jonathan Marks stated:

    Language permits us to discuss things that didn’t happen, that might happen, that will happen.

And in terms of dreams, of course nonhumans dream, but their dreams probably do not have a narrative-arc - they are probably just flashes of sensations - sights, smells, sounds, etc. - those sights, smells, sounds do not get a cohesive character-based narrative explanation.


    That animals mourn their dead?

Yes, chimpanzees are really the most impressive species in terms of "death awareness". Take for example this observation from a recent Current Biology study:

    We describe the peaceful demise of an elderly female [chimpanzee] in the midst of her group. Group responses include pre-death care of the female, close inspection and testing for signs of life at the moment of death, male aggression towards the corpse, all-night attendance by the deceased’s adult daughter, cleaning the corpse, and later avoidance of the place where death occurred.

Or take this YouTube video captured by the Max Planck Institute. I wrote a post about it when I first started TAA.

But it is clear from observations that they do not have a symbolic death awareness (again no language).

    As for atechnogenesis, can you further define that for me? Are you saying that this "symbolic code" created by man, will eventually create it's own habitat and culturally evolve within it?

What I'm trying to do here - and hope to explore the concept in detail in an academic paper (still not ready for that yet) - is to make the term singularity more easily definable. Obviously the term "technological singularity" is attempting to capture a similar phenomenon. It is a term borrowed from mathematics and physics to describe a point in time when infinite technological change (at least to the human mind) starts to occur on finite time scales. But the problem with this term is that technological change is always relative to your time/place and so it is hard to rigorously quantify when we have "reached singularity". (I discussed this a bit in a previous post). Surely it wouldn't be a biological human making the declaration but still it does seem to lack a certain objectivity.

Another popular definition of singularity is a time when a greater-than-biological human intelligence emerges. But again this would be difficult to quantify as biological intelligence varies to such a profound degree. After all, Albert Einstein and Paris Hilton are both biological humans. And it's possible that biological humans could massively enhance their intelligence with synthetic biology or nanotechnology... so is that the singularity? Or no? Hard to say.

Futurists George Dvorsky and Ramez Naam (both very respectable thinkers and theorists) recently had a conversation about the usefulness of the term technological singularity and brought up similar concerns. Dvorsky prefers the term "Intelligence Explosion" to refer to a machine superintelligence. I agree with him that machine superintelligence is the key concept for singularity, but the term doesn't seem like a useful one either - considering that an "Intelligence Explosion" could have been said to have occurred in the past (i.e., Renaissance, Enlightenment, Scientific Revolution... heck, even now, in the "Information Age").

What I think we need is a term, not borrowed from physics and mathematics, but a term borrowed from chemistry and biology. Only one time in the history of evolution has a new form of evolution emerged and become an independent process: abiogenesis. I think you're aware that I did a video on abiogenesis as well as an extensive review of a 2013 paper on the phenomenon. This was an event in which chemical replicators managed to produce entities that could grow and replicate on their own (biology).

Since this time biological evolution has been the only form of independent evolution on the planet (this is because evolution works on the basis of differential replication and there have been no non-biological replicators). Of course, the human mind has set forth cultural evolution (cultural evolution is carried by the linguistic code and produces complex technology). The primary replicator would be the meme or the idea. But cultural evolution is living in a hybrid world and it creates an organism that is a hybrid of codes. This is why the human animal is such a weird creature. But over time cultural evolution is getting much stronger. As I state in a recent publication:

    Evolutionary scientists have long recognized that the cultural evolutionary process shares many non-arbitrary parallels with biological evolutionary processes (Ridley, 2011), and that these cultural evolutionary processes are uniquely manifest in the human species (Tomasello et al., 1993; Tennie et al., 2009). Experiments show that cumulative cultural evolution is not only unique but can also result in adaptive complexity in behaviour and can also produce convergence in behaviour (Caldwell & Millen, 2008; Laland, 2008). Before the emergence of humans biological evolution was the only way this type of adaptive complexity could emerge. With cultural evolution as a new mechanism for complexity construction the entire evolutionary process is more potent and can operate much more quickly (Laland, 2008). Furthermore, cumulative cultural evolution consumes all of human individual and collective existence. The human life is one spent first learning the knowledge, inventions, and achievements of previous generations, and then secondly, building upon them (i.e. ratcheting "up" the complexity) (Tennie et al., 2009). In the modern world, all individual and collective economic success is dependent on our cultural and technological complexity, the mechanism for which is our ability to understand and make use of imparted knowledge and artifacts (Caldwell & Millen, 2008). From this perspective it does not seem unreasonable to suggest that one evolutionary process (i.e., culture) is growing more dominant than another (i.e, biology). To envision these as evolutionary pathways, I would propose that one evolutionary pathway is "biochemical" and one is "technocultural".

This "atechnogenesis" would be a time when cultural replication "idea sex" would replace biological sex as the form of novel complexity construction. Culture could leave biological evolution and finally gain its independence. Idea sex (i.e., conversation) is getting very strong already and it is close to producing new minds. Mind children, as roboticist Hans Moravec would put it. But in order for mind to become self-sufficient it will need to exist within a substrate of its own making (good thing we're working on the Human Brain Project and Connectome Project). So atechnogenesis is A) easily definable, B) is an evolutionary process, and C) uniquely describes the event futurists are trying so hard to understand.

    What does that look like and what are the implications?

The implications deserve their own book. But let's imagine future hubski. It would be a place where, instead of good minds coming together and typing to each other in written language (an imperfect way to communicate thoughts/feelings/ideas) we could share our brain patterns and form higher-levels of consciousness. Hubski would become an "orgy of minds" (as would everything else for the subjective consciousness of technologically-based life). We would be sharing brain patterns directly instead of communicating the surface of our thoughts with language. We would be able to combine and re-combine minds in news ways creating new "theaters of consciousness". Ben Goertzel has tried to describe this world if you're interested. Also, two of my colleagues at the Global Brain Institute wrote a great piece about the nature of a cultural evolutionary world where "worldviews" and not "genomes" are in competition/cooperation with one another.

theadvancedapes  ·  3795 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Why rational people disagree  ·  

    Let's say we get to a point as a species that we are fully integrated with one another in some sort of post singularity grid.

One could perhaps call it a... global brain.

    We have access to all information and data at all times.

MMmMmMMmmm... all the information in our brainssszzzz...

    Do you think this eliminates a sense of self?

I think higher types of consciousness will start to emerge. I still think you will have your own consciousness. But discussions between different collections of "people" will include mergers of "brain spaces", Ben Goertzel has called them "mindspheres". The best way to imagine this is by comparing your state of consciousness when you're alone to when you are a room full of people having a conversation. Your consciousness (or state of mind) is much different in these two situations... you might even say that there is a "feeling" in the room... a collection of the feelings/thoughts of all those taking part in the conversation. However, with digital minds that conversation could take place without language... we could actually subjectively feel each others thought patterns, or collection of thought patterns of multiple people. This would be a qualitatively different type of experience than the types of conversations we have today... just like explaining language to an australopithecine would be impossible... explaining this completely may be impossible.

    Will we all have the same conclusions?

I highly doubt it (because I think information and knowledge are different things - and having the same information doesn't mean having the same opinion about that information), although I feel like our collective opinions will get closer and closer. You can imagine this with a simple thought experiment. Imagine we were to have four people from 1500 (say from Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia) magically teleported into the same room and forced to discuss their thoughts on the world. If they could eventually understand each other, their opinions on reality would undoubtedly be radical divergent. If we continually ran this experiment every century (i..e, 1600, 1700, 1800, 1900, 2000, and so on) our global conversation would be becoming more and more coherent with more and more agreement and less and less disagreement. This would just be a function of globalization and the rate of cultural information transfer in the system. We should expect this to continue - but I doubt it will continue to the point where all agents in our collective global brain system agree on everything. I think we will largely have discarded with notions connected to our hunter-gatherer and agricultural past, but we will still disagree about bleeding edge scientific theory or perhaps even spirituality.

theadvancedapes  ·  3813 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: How Can A White Supremacist Be 14 Percent Sub-Saharan African? : Code Switch : NPR  ·  

Yes, we are all technically African. In the sense that modern humans evolved in Africa. Our entire evolutionary history as far as you would like to date back (whether that be 200,00 years with the rise of modern humans or 8 millions years with the emergence of hominins) took place in Africa (of course it's all semantic - if you wanted to date our ancestors back to the emergence of monkeys then "we are all Asian" or if you want to date us back to the emergence of the first primates than "we are all northern North American and European" or if you want to date us back to the emergence of the first known life "we are all Australian"!).

Back to humans. That being said, of course the last 100,000 years of our existence has not solely been African. There was an immense bottleneck that took place when modern humans finally left Africa (the result is that >90% of modern human genetic variation is in Africa).

It is a little surprising that this man's genetic results suggest that he is "14% Sub-Saharan African. Razib Khan (Gene Expression blogger) doubts it:

    If Craig Cobb, the white supremacist, is ~14% Sub-Saharan African, he’s in the less than 0.1% of white Americans with this sort of pattern.


    the reality is that European Americans with relatively well documented histories usually do not have a high probability of having African ancestry. And if they do, 14% is a great deal. I have seen this among my friends (or more honestly, 5-10%, which is not far off), but that was due to a cryptic (though somewhat known within the family) non-paternity event.

Different genetic tests could most definitely reveal a different percentage. And I'm not going to vouch for a genetic test done by 23 and Me for a daytime talk show. Especially since it gave results that are statistically impossible and produced the desired result for the highest degree of controversy (what a coincidence!). We know from American history that the disgusting "one drop rule" prevented anyone with any black ancestry from really becoming integrated within "white" society (much less a "white" family) (unlike in Latin America where the racial categories and boundaries were much more fluid and less restricting). White Americans (U.S.) always drew a very firm line in the proverbial sand between "white" and "black" (of course it's far more likely for an "African American" to have a substantial part of their genetic heritage to be "European").

From my perspective 23 and Me tests (like the one taken by Cobb) are really misleading science. It's not necessarily pseudoscience, but they definitely make statements that, from a scientific perspective, are really difficult to say with a high degree of certainty (or any certainty) (and yet they always make very definitive statements after a test).

The reason it is so hard to say anything about genetic backgrounds with a high degree of certainty is because there is no such thing as biological races and therefore the "percentage" of your genome that is descended from a certain culturally constructed group will change based on your classification scheme (i.e., how are you grouping people? sub-Saharan African? Black? African? Tutsi? Bantu? Who gets into what category and why? What makes sub-Saharan African a category worth measuring? What is considered "black"? As I said there is more genetic diversity in Africa than any other continent. If sub-Saharan African is a category of humanity than the only logical further division is with "rest of humanity". In which case the title of articles should read "non-African discovered to be 14% African").

Also, if you go back just 8 generations you have well over 200 ancestors and could have a genome mixed of all of them equally. So if you go back only a short period of time you probably have ancestors on every continent (even though they may be disproportionately concentrated on some continents over others). Calculating any further back than 10-12 generations is essentially pointless. The exponential pace at which your ancestors increase well past this point makes all of humanity your ancestors.

As a result a lot of genetic testing related to "ethnic" and "continental" ancestral heritage is really sensationalized (especially when it comes to saying that someone is a certain percentage "of something"). There are no such thing as "sub-Saharan African" genes (there are certain genes that will arise with a higher frequency in different populations and some genes that may be unique to certain populations - but there is no such things as a "sub-Saharan African" group.

So what does it mean to be "14% sub-Saharan African"? Hm. IMO it means nothing. I guess it means that a lot of websites will run headlines that catch peoples attention and generates controversy.

theadvancedapes  ·  3835 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: An Open Letter to Evolutionary Anthropologist Cadell Last - Evolution News & Views  ·  

I'm really busy today so I can't respond right now... however, I will rebut a few of his comments here on Hubski and send them to him via email since he emailed me this article yesterday asking me to respond. I won't be responding in a blog post as my site does not function to discuss the non-controversy between evolution and pseudoscientific creationism. Furthermore, if my writing starts to attract a wider audience I should suspect that more people in the "Intelligent Design" community will start to draw me into discussion and debate. Stephen J. Gould and Richard Dawkins took/take the stance that they wouldn't/won't debate Young Earth Creationists (YEC) because you give them exactly what they want: credibility (i.e. a scientist is taking our arguments seriously enough to debate me!). I know "I.D." is not the same as YEC but they are equally wrong (even if one is more intellectually untenable than the other).

During the first two years of my exposure to science I spent a great majority of my time debating the validity of evolution. I found this to be exhausting and actually subtracted from what I wanted to discuss... which was the science itself... not the validity of science. Historians of Rome don't have to constantly defend whether Rome actually existed. Physicists don't have to constantly defend whether or not atoms exist. Evolutionary scientists shouldn't constantly be burdened with defending evolutionary theory. Evolutionary theory is supported by more evidence than perhaps any theory in science (with the only possible exception being Quantum Mechanics). Therefore, my blog has always functioned to discuss the science - not the non-controversy. In short, I take the stance that even acknowledging a debate with pseudoscience gives them the fuel they want to keep the controversy alive. I don't want to give them any fuel.

theadvancedapes  ·  3845 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What is the evolutionary reason for male facial hair, while women don't have it?   ·  

Your brother is not necessarily wrong - there is a hormonal basis for the lack of female facial hair. The real evolutionary cause is facial neoteny. Neoteny is the "retention by adults of traits previously seen only in juveniles". The effects of neoteny are massively exaggerated in human females (i.e., larger eyes, smaller noses, and fuller lips). Many physical anthropologists have shown that you can estimate the age of an individual based on information about eye width, nose height, and lip height alone - and it is clear that women (on average) have much larger eyes, smaller noses, and "taller" lips than do men. In this sense, facial hair growth can be seen as part of this neotenous package (as infants and children also do not have facial hair - obviously). This could be adaptive, or perhaps an exaptive - no research has really tested which it is (but the actual selective pressure was very high since lack of facial hair is always seen as a sign of physical attractiveness cross culturally).

I would add that several studies have shown that in the neotenous package - women are always rated as more sexually attractive cross culturally if they exhibit "supernormal" aspects of the neotenous package, and studies of high end fashion magazine and super model magazine model facial proportions also end up falling on the most neotenous end of the facial spectrum.

I would add that in these studies the researchers admit that it is hard to control for what it was - evolutionarily speaking - that men selected for in women - neotenous faces, or maximal waist-to-hip ratio - both of which are indicators of youth and high fertility.

To end - I took a sexual selection theory course in grad school. Two of the most interesting questions to me where the following:

A) Why are humans the only species that have hair that needs to be cut?

B) What is the evolutionary origin of the female orgasm?

One of these questions is currently still a mystery. What one do you think it is?