Monthly Archives: February 2017

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On Being an Intelligent Species

We have written on intelligence here before, mainly because the author of this used to be a neuroscientist, wrorking to understand the effect of emotions on cognition. Having read all there was to read on the brain at the time, a clear notion of what goes on in our mind formed. This understanding I have yet to come across outside some academic papers. Also elaborated on here was the idea that keeping people on the wrong track, one not leading to AI, was a good thing, because AI would be like an unkown animal to us, suddenly appearing on the stage, with goals that could be harmfull to us. Although we are not close to this, once it happens, and once this AI achieves control over enough power to keep itself intact, we are in for a ride.

But humans are equally dangerous. A human being has evolved to be part of a rural farming or hunting community, not living to long or learning to much to attain 100% control over its survival or the environment. We have been competing against other species but geographical differences (like a desert or fertile flatland with few predators), language and cities have turned us into overwhelmingly superior beings. The attempt of life to prevail has fallen into a deep trough populated only by humans, with the humans to short sighted to aknowledge our dependence on other life calling the shots. Its always the boys that dream of soaring the skies like a fighter pilot that end up in jobs where they lay waste to so much other life, their dream of dominance was a distortion, a trauma, making them fit for jobs nobody should do.

But even if we don’t dream we can still be true to our nature, our existence as intelligent beings. There are a lot of threats to be met, and if we manage to free our minds from the pitfalls set by those that want to take advantage of us, we can deal with them and make our lives truely better. Emotions are important, but we don’t need to emphatize with every victim, especially when there is no real way we can help them. Worldly posessions are important, but the way we try to attain them, and the reason for which we think we should is often tied together like a moebius strip. The rich guy has a Ferrari, and to get a Ferrari you have to be rich, and you want the Ferrari because then you look rich, so what shit do you need to work through, how much of your moral fibre do you have to demolish to get rich? Wrong!  Just build a fucking Ferrari! Stop looking at Ferraris. Its a fast car that is read and looks predatory..

People that own a Ferrari often just bought it because they had so much money. What they did was not try to look something, but try to achieve something. They didn’t try to make money, but they tried to understand what about what they did they could change to make it cheaper to do, while finding out how to seduce more people to want their product. Even an environmental dream can be achieved by this mindset, because it is about applying our intelligence to our situation so as to change it into what we believe is a better situation. The question is how do we do that?

To start of, we need to know what we want to achieve, and we have to choose at some point to fix that idea. It may not be optimal, but success is more imporant than what you achieve (rule nr. 1). Say you want to get your drivers license. It is not an odd thing, every young person wants to have one to experience freedom on the road. That is your goal. Humans are goal achievers, that is all we are. We have many goals, to maintain homeostasis, to drink, eat, have a warm environment, sex etc. Our entire existence is an attempt to satisfy as much of those goals at the same time. For this we are rewarded with experiencing freedom. The feeling of freedom comes about when our behaviour is conducive to our goals. If you achieve what you set out to achieve you will feel free, because you do not have to inhibit yourself because you think that will drive you away from your goal. Politicians know that what we fundamentally want is freedom, so they mention that to you and you fill it in with what would mean freedom to you. Money is another word for it, money however is not really freedom, because the people that manage and create it do not want you to be free of the need for money!

So you are young and you want to get your license to drive. The idea is that you go up for the exam and pass. You can think about that a lot, but that won’t help. The question you need to ask is how do you make that more likely to happen. Your attention for likelyhood frees you from failure, you know there is a chance you can fail, it is not important. It will not demotivate you. All you try to do is increase the chance of passing the test. This has to be the approach to all goals, goals after all are themselves chosen by a statistic process, one that has to do with your exposure to them, exposure to strategies to achieve them, your sensitivity to them as part of your life (liike you would not dream of building a nuclear reactor in your room, but some people in this world clearly build nuclear reactors). The goal has presented itself, it promised more freedom than the others you could try to achieve, and you started to fixate on it.

All the other stuff you are thinking is other goals, other pieces of a puzzle to increase the likely hood to increase their realization. You may have to identify the other goals and decide you will for a while not try to achieve those goals. “I want to be fit, so I will not drink for a month”. Of course alcohol directly releases the dopamine system to give you the illusion of freedom, so it is hacking your system. All the more reason to take it easy with that stuff. Choices are just what you make to make it easier to achieve your goals. They show that what ultimately programms us is our own behaviour. If we can make a decision to go outside for a walk or get a glass of milk, we are equally free to do so. We then tip the scale to one side or another by thinking of a good or bad consequence of the decision, and it is made. In fact our brain makes the decision some time before we know about it. To make sure you achieve your goals you should therefor create environmental factors that will help you make the right decisions. Internally that means thinking about what will make you succeed, externally removing factors that inspire you to fail, adding factors that help you succeed.

A plan is nothing but a fantasy of outcomes you think will get you to your goal. If you have to overcome clear obstacles you might as well just focus on them first. It is better to fill your brian with ideas you need right away, or you will be sensitive to all kinds of things not yet relevant. A plan also allows you to separate ideas and give yourself peace of mind. So if you want the license, you have to study for the theoretic exam, that means sitting still reading questions. Then you have to take lessons, pay attention, get the routine, build rapport with the instructor (its a racket in most countries). The final ok you get can be a humiliation because it is such an arbitrary thing, and you have to coach yourself around that. You may have to earn money, get a job, with all kinds of other things you need to do right. In the end you are let loose on the freeways and nobody will care until you really screw up (and someone is watching).

The art of intelligence is to insert choices and then make the choices where they have the largest probabilistic effect on the outcome you want to achieve. To break into routines is hard, and uncomfortable. You have to pull yourself out of a social rythm to study, work, do what you need. In the end there is the outcome, you have to know whether it is worth it. Choose one with the maximal benefit, which depends on what you can imagine. Of course it follows that if you foster your imagination (not by hagning in front of the TV but by reading and exploring) you will start to choose better goals.

  1. Develop your ability to imagine your future, by reading and exploring
  2. Choose outcomes that you can imagine yourself achieving
  3. Try to map the intermediate outcomes, focus on the first few
  4. Work to increase the likelyhood of success and reduce the likelyhood of failure
  5. Insert decision points where you are not sure you are maximzally effective
  6. Don’t stop

Clearly every human is different, can imagine different things, achieve different things, communicates better or worse, has physical qualities that differ. So not all humans can achieve the same goals. But it is possible to share a dream and work together towards a goal, where one decides to achieve one goal, and another some other goal, and both combined achieve both their dreams. We are often advised to be divided, to compete, to dominate, but this is because it makes us easier victims of those that want to take advantage of us. Our ‘hardware’ has evolved to be robust goal oriented i.e. intelligent beings. Use this talent. Most people’s dreams are compatible. Most people want peace and prosperity..

Short note on the universe. Some think (like Will Smith) that if you decide the universe will get out of your way. Maybe. Although the universe is local, we see traces of incredible remote events (through gravitational waves) here, where we would never ever notice on our natural level of perception. Someone at CERN just concluded the existence of ghosts has been disproved by them not showing up as noise in the super super sensitive measurements. People claiming consciousness has a quantum dynamic basis seem to forget that everything does. That idea is just as religious and useless an assertion as believing we are created by a god. Making a clear decisions however does reduce your distraction and attention wasted on things that weaken your resolve.

On Strong Will

The will to do something is the result of defeating self inhibition, either by understanding the circumstances or by reasoning about and imagining or ignoring obstacles. The will can be stronger if the goal is more important than other goals we care about. If we don’t care about much we can be very ‘stong willed’ but we will cause a lot of damage and unhappyness. The test is to require that something really improves for you on a daily basis. No progress means your will is too weak and you need to redistribute your care (care less about some things and more about others). Success builds willpower, it builds assertiveness, so therefore as stated above : Success is more important than what you achieve. Small steps with success are better than big ones without.




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Elon Musk Reads This Blog

Great minds think alike, but some are more able to make those thoughts count than others. When your struggle is to reconcile your mortal existence and weird drives and urges with the affordances of reality, you end up scanning the fringes of what you can understand. As there is only one reality, people that do so will end up expriencing and thus thinking similar things. That may be what happend or some things Elon Musk says have been inspired by what he read here.

Why is it important that Elon Musk has read this blog? It isn’t really, or mabey it can be considered an honour. He and the writer of this will probably never meet, but he has our full support, and sometimes we worry he does not fully understand topics yet, like AI (We wrote about ARGO) or what happens to people when they have everything they need (The Roboeconomy). We even explained why it is unlikely we live in a simulation. He should read our stuff on Extraeconomics, which deals with self sufficient zones outside the global economy, run on renewables and generating natural resouces.

Our society destroys more resources than it creates. That is not a survivable situation

His latest question is how to give meaning to people’s lives as they come to enjoy the full effect of technology, not the current diet which is still restricted by fossil industry and carboncredit compatibility. Meaning and purpose in life is a struggle for all of us. Usually we are by our need to survive forced into a behavioural pattern that uses up most of our attention yet has the right dose of novelty, which keeps us well fed and warm. In that case we are usually happy. But if automation reduces our existential struggle we may become aware of our idleness and become bored and possibly depressed.

The economy makes things unnecessarily scarce, for example a beach gets fenced off to make money off it, because of and resulting in an increase in economic pressure.

These things are all relative. When society didn’t move as fast as today and most people’s experiences where limited we did not all kill ourselves. We had simple jobs and simple lives, and survived. A future in which the need to work is reduced for all will probably simply lower our activity level and increase our attention to our surroundings. One thing is certain : We won’t be suffering. We will be free, live in clean comfortable houses, be able to do more than we ever could. All because of solar, wind, and technology.

Cute animation nonetheless showing how a species that suddenly becomes more intelligent can upset the ecosystem..

A more to the bone analysis of humanities predicament is to say that we’ve won. Our species has won the struggle for survival. We can live as long as we like, even while ignoring AI, not leaving it to some interpretation of what existence is. A person will expres his/her needs and desires, will act out or indicate the changes needed to achieve those things. If it is about creating a family it will turn the drive to love in word and actions. A person during his/her life records the possible interactions amongst human beings, what works to achieve a goal and what doesn’t, how the lifeless universe has behaved as his/her survival happened. Every life story is like some pages of a vast instruction manual we never get when we are born.

A life can be economically exploited by defining it’s story, instructing its ambtions, something routinely done by advertisements

Today our minds (in the developed countries) don’t need to struggle to much anymore. our intelligence becomes less necessary, we need less information. Our brain’s cortex is hungry for the details of the real world, so it still drives us to absorb massive amounts of new impressions every day, which have to be novel to trigger us to learn, which brings the dopamine release that we crave. We crave freedom, and the more economic restriction that is put on us, the more we crave our intellectual freedom, or fantasy. But really for most it is about massaging the old brain into accepting a lack of freedom.

Human utility is an external property, a human being has evolved to survive, not to be useful to others. People that demand other humans are usefull in an environment where resources are scarce will end up wanting to kill those they deem useless (been there). The answer to this is to make resources abundant, and control population growth.

A true deconstruction of a person is that it is an organism with the ability to rubustly and autonously orient towards goal states, and this is what we do from the moment we are born to the moment we die. Even the ability to delude ourselves is part of the more general ability to achieve goals. They are always our own goals, as we can only strive for something we can imagine. It is logical that when we don’t succeed we get depressed, which is a mental state in which we absorb more of our reality, we see it as it is, so as we enrich our ability to imagine.

A human being is an autonomous robust goal orienting organism, it has evolved to survive long enough to procreate. Beyond this it has the inspiration to help other living organisms do likewise.

We are by our drive to procreate and our need for self preservation (thus having developed our specific sensibilities and tastes) forced to preoccupy a large part of our time reconciling ourselves or responding to our physical appearance. It is what we know best about most people we see. Behavior is second, we understand others behavior through imitation (our brain fires up like we perform the act we try to understand), and then we need to classify whatever we have observed as something we want repeat or prevent as our own. We may want to act it out as an example to inspire or warn the ones we love. Storytelling has the same function. These things occupy our lives because they are what our lives depend on, how we al survive, become and stay competent to do so.

The present dillema is this  : Imagine there is a machine that makes everyone anyone needs, and it does so using fossil fuels. Is then everyone out of a job, poor and unable to buy the things the machine makes (and starve as a result)? Or will everything be free.

The economic system distributing fossil fuels says : Starve (as much as needed to keep going)!

For someone that rises above that process, like Hamlet contemplating his ‘mortal coil’, suddenly the sky is empty. There’s two urges that will move us, one is fear, the other agression, and there is love. To simplify, one can say we evade the known or unkown, we invade the known or unknown, or we complete the known or unknown. If we do that in our mundain lives these forces shape our behaviour. If our mind is in a more abstract realm they create, construct and break down concepts. The agressive side wil analyse atoms and contemplate quantum mechanics, and explore the concept of a gravitational matrix that imploding stars can send a ping through..Our fearfull mind will conjure up doom scenario’s, risks of all kinds. Maybe it will entangle itself by creating a structured  fantasy of hell that is somehow comforting because it puts us in a relatively safe (imaginary) place.

Love creates things. Its that thing that lives in our environment we haven’t met yet, we have passively gathered aspects of it, and when enough of them work together to make it something we might interact with, it springs to life in our minds. We already imagine a living world, we need to because whatever we look for is in that world. As we wrote before about time and intelligence : It is prediction, it is modelling the future, as to escape the second law of thermodynamics (we localize entropy increase to our mitochondria, so all else can see reducing entropy). Life and love are in a fight with the physical reality. In our minds it is morality, the good we strive for, that is our talent to not only extricate ourselves from may damaging physical processes, but also shield other life from the same.

Economics and Robotics

If we come out of the mental clamp of fossil credit economics, and if our talents are being freed up from tedious labour by robots, and if our biosphere is restored by the same robots, extraeconomic communities and renewables, then we will be back in paradise, The forrest where we can find the fruits we eat and we don’t have to suffer. It is not fair to expect an organism that has over evolution left many companions behind to become the one able to survive reality to be struggling forever. Once there was one winner amongst the animals (humans) it was a matter of time before this species pushes off all natural threats to survival.

The best feeling is that of love, and love means protection of life. There will be high demand for people driven by this feeling in the near future. We have to fight for life on Earth. So for the people who’s lives are freed up by the advent of the roboeconomy, they can restore and foster, increase and let thrive life on Earth, which has not happened since fossil fuels began their distructive rise.






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Lying in Politics

The Trump administration seems to have no problem with lying. It is likely a result of the business background, where Trump has learned to exploit people by making them believe what is advantageous to him, a page from the book of “Catch me if you can!” or to quote Leonardo die Caprio : “People only know what you tell them.”. In general if you have to process speech and it requires more focus, or it is a message that touches you in a more powerfull way, you will not remember things that may be important as long as you process the message, even your experiences that are in conflict.

Humans are cognitively unanchored, our brains don’t have set ideas. We may prefer some over others because of the way the brain is structured, and some may be intrinsically rewarding, but never the actualization of the idea, so not the real thing, only the use it has to you (which you have learned from your environment). You will eat a dougnut, or an apple or a Mars bar, all food, so they have the same general function in your daily routine, but you don’t keep having problems with the shape of the dougnut, or the fact you have to unwrap the Mars bar.

Lies are in principle hard to detect. Even if someone tells you the Earth is flat, your brain, having no anchor, tries to start from that idea and tries to make it work. In the state you listen in the words you hear shape other parts of the brain, unlike when you report on what you see, when your visual cortex shapes activity in your Broca area. When the brian follows the words it may come up with a valid position for you to exist in, which is to assume the one talking means “people are stupid”, because it he/she can not mean the Earth is really flat. The facts you carry around and which you base your character on will assert themselves. If the person continues, “No, I really mean our planet is a flat disk!” then you still have to judge whether it is a joke, whether you will abandon yourself and accept the nonsense, or whether you will assert your view, and whether all this is important enough for you to respond to.

People only know what you tell them

The people following Trump, who are instructed by him to shoult “Build that wall!” or “No more muslims!” are not able to recognize the lies, maybe they just don’t have the experience, maybe they have been eating a diet that wrecks cognitive abilities, maybe they are taking debilitating medicine. They are from rural areas, maybe they have been breathing in to much Roundup and other poison floating through the air. They somehow can not get themselves to doubt or check the validity of the statements.

Trump knows this full well, and it has been a strategy for a long time for the right to mobilize idiots, the more stupid the better. Also an attitude of stupididity creates a good follower, one of intelligent discourse only invites opposition. The people are to be divided into drones and masters. If you don’t buy the lie, and you are not a master, you will be crushed.

The painfull reality is that if a small group controlls the majority this is a viable situation. If the master is in the big house and the 500 slaves in the shacks , and enough vigilance and force is applied, and enough deference ot needs is shown, this can a perfectly stabile situation.

Equally if an elite of business owners determines the laws (as has been the case many times in history) The workers can just forget it. They can have a great life buying in the company store, you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. Our history has been a series of ebbs and flows, and in general an consolidation of the elite over more and more people. Since the Davos meetings you can speak of a world government, of course of a globalist nature. The glue is debt and lies. The need a globalist economic environment is mainly because 1. It brings peace and makes participants rich and 2. Fossil has to be divided most optimally, which is done by distributing money.

Fossil fuels are essential to sustain the need for money, because people have to come back and earn more to pay for gas, their mortgage and all kinds of other costs. Thos costs would not be recurrent or as big if we ran everything on renewables! Robots and renewables are already demolishing the power of the financial elite, life becomes cheaper, debts evaporate, control over people is lost but because there is not scarcity, peace is upon the lands.

Every dictatorship rewrites history

But we are not there yet. The lies of Trump are putting us all in more jeopardy, and that is fine with the elite, we are useless consumers, annoying and obstinate for our class. The risk is real that control of the Trump type of extortionists becomes so complete that history is rewritten after the fact, making the lies seem real.

Saying the travel ban prevents terrorist can later be embelished with fake terrorist attacks before the ban. Saying Mexico will pay for the wall can be explained in many ways later. People only know what you tell them is the reality Trump counts on and hopes to creat. A amnesic populus that follows orders because they no longer connect to their own stories and environment. One that already went to war based on lies, but will likeley do so with itself soon.

Trumps idea is that whoever enters his sphere of intluence is toast, for him to butter and consume. He can pull it off with some. Has in the past. He adopts ideas and abandons them. We don’t know if he has any smarts or is on top of things. But the general goal of his kind of friends is to turn you into either a sucker or an ally. With lies and all other powers at their command if necessary.



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Building an Ocean Drone

Our oceans are dying, they have large and growing areas that have to little nutrients or are too warm for fish to live. Pollution, overfishing and climate change all put pressure on our aquatic species. On land we see the same problem with overuse of natural resources, be they forrests, agricultural soil and fossil fuels, causing rain to disappear and weather patterns to shift.

We believe humanity will use robotic systems to recover from this fossil fuel induced onslaught. We will because it is to hard for people to act as is needed in some of the places it is needed, and because the ones acting on climate may be a small elite existing in protected order while the rest of us will be struggling to survive. As we now see with the ability of fossil fuel to maintain order, as the fossil fuel supply fragments and wanes, the regions on Earth experiencing law and order shrink.

A tree planting robot

Robots can help us, they can even help us help us. The way we see it robots will be smart enough ans sensitive enough to venture into the world and restore nature. They will go where we don’t want to go or where we don’t want humans to go, and tweek the situation so life can regain grip. A great example of that is the contour trenching done in Africa and elsewhere : It is shaping the ground against the forces of erosion, so it absorbs more rainwater, gets vegetated and beats the forces of erosion. This is how a bare hill is turned into a lush forrest, a little tweak.

On our oceans we have the same opportunity, because water near the surface has little nutrients, water deep down has lots, but the light needed to use the nutrients is at the top, and the ocean can be dead. Mix the deep water to the top and you will see life come back. This is what happens in the usually abundand coastal regions, where deep water is forced up by currents.

We want to build a simple drone ship that can do things on our oceans, like mix water, create a fish refuge that not only serves fishermen, but also the fish. To do it we need a platform to have control over our autonomous vessel. We purchased a small sailing boat, well aware there are already drones out there, wingsail catamarans, that’s beautifull.

To control our boat we have a LoPy device, it is a python programmable Cortex M3 chip already connected to a LORA radio and a Wifi transmitter. The nice aspect of this device is that the LORA is easy to program, it is a Long Range Low Power Radio, which can reach about 10 km depending on the height of the antennae and obstacles. Excellent for working on the open ocean. A real drone will have a sattelite telephone ‘Rock’ type device.

To position the boat we use GPS, it is a cheap service these days, 15,- Euro and you have a position reporting component. Our boat will be sailing so it will not have a motor. We worked out the relationship between sail, wind direction. Detecting wind direction is not easy, a more sophisticated way should be deviced, now we have a light turning potentiometer, but we need a magnetic rotary encoder to be more robust and allow the ship to go through the wind.

- Servo control of sail and rudder
- Wind sensor (ADC)
- Wifi
- Lora

Total cost when bought new is about 350 Euro

- 3,7 volt battery
- 6 volt pack for servo's

As it stands now we are about to bring to gether the components, the boad will be able to sail courses of up to 35 degrees from dead into the wind, and it can only jibe not tack. This does give better control and wind awareness as the boat has the wind behind it and the model boat we use may not even be able to sail high courses.

Programm :
- set sail for wind
- gain speed
- read gps
- check closest indexed waypoint (they must be in a sequential list)
- adjust course to best approach new waypoint

The compass is left out for now, the boat will prioritize moving forward and then discover its bearing (by GPS). Then it will calculate the course it must go to get to a waypoint. There are lots of details to coding that. We hope to get to a small vessel that can control itself this way, then make it a bit bigger step by step, the mast now is about a meter high, the next mast is 3 meter high and will carry a wing sail.