We're in for a wild ride. Exponentially accelerating technological, cultural, and socioeconomic evolution means that every year will see more developments than the previous one. More change will happen between now and 2050 than during all of humanity's past. Let's explore the 21st century and ride this historic wave of planetary transition with a confident open mind.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Post-Industrial Society = Beyond Idiocy

Reindustrialization is the best way to repair damage to earth. Terraforming deserts, building new ecosystems, MagLev trains, redesigned cities, nuclear and space based power. Not neofeudalist deindustrialization

Early 21st century was supposed to have been one of high speed trains zipping between continents, hypersonic air travel, 3 hour workdays or 2 workday weeks, increasingly colonized space, completely reimagined cities, mechanized infrastructure, and large scale terraforming of the planet to turn deserts into farmland (as well as creating new ecosystems where they weren't previously by building new desalination water infrastructure). All of this would be supported by first the increasingly more advanced fission reactors and then fusion reactors complimented by a large network of satellites beaming energy down to earth.

So what happened? Why do people actually believe the corporate media (when they stopped believing it in many other areas) in that the only way forward is for educated people to shovel mule manure, compost food, live in sustainable shacks with solar panels on them, ride in bicycles made from recycled garbage, and to devolve back to 19th century living while actually advocating that poorest people of the earth never even experience the 20th? Was it THAT easy for rich people to fill the meaningless nihilistic existence of educated westerners by replacing Jesus Christ with mother earth (environment) as their object of dedication?

Middle classes always pick up on cues from the ruling oligarchy on what to think, how to behave, and what obsessions to have. There is little regard to the fact of some of these cues often being propaganda of control. Eventually the propaganda trickles down to the poorest sectors of society through community role model emulation.

This appears to be the case with the concepts of "conservation", "post-growth economy", and "post-industrial world" (where most of 7 billion homo sapiens are all magically white collar innovator businessmen [!] living on a decentralized renewable power grid). The world's people are now supposed to make all necessary personal sacrifices and live in balance with nature as a punishment for their rulers having wiped out and poisoned large swaths of the biosphere.

It is now western oligarchy's barely concealed desire for the proletariat (anybody living paycheck to paycheck rather than from capital gains, roughly 99% of planetary population) to devolve to use of slower transport and more provincial community living. They would love nothing more than for people to return to horse and carriage (or its bicycle equivalent) and to spend a large chunk of the day and their caloric energy "conserving", recycling/reusing trash, making their own organic food, self-flagellation for sins against the planet, and creating pottery/trinkets to sell to each other. The rich themselves would of course live on large gated estates spread around the world, fly on advanced personal vehicles, have increasingly stronger healthier bodies through genetic engineering/cybernetics, etc. Globalization would homogenize the world's poor into an interchangeable mass just as it does the same with their neofeudal lords.

This is not an exaggeration. Post-growth and post-industrial means exactly that when rich man's stooges like Gordon Brown mention it: arrested development of heavy industry (such as creation of new comfortable futuristic cities and supporting large scale infrastructure). Most of the human herd is to enter an "equilibrium" and see an end to major annual increases in quality of life. The world is to enter a period of gradually declining population with younger poor people worshiping and sacrificing for mother earth while living in "harmony" with it. They would all do demeaning service sector jobs like being each others bartender, taking care of the elderly that outvote them, and grooming the large playground (planet earth) for the enjoyment of the concealed oligarchy.

Such a scheme is so absurd that it will probably collapse before being internalized as a value by most educated westerners and their children. The reason for that is that all the key problems of the world require exponential increase in heavy industry to be solved. Western world can  most definitely outsource all its industry abroad but the planet itself can never be post-industrial in that by definition that would mean large famines and vengeful outbursts of violence. Only more industry can create the energy necessary to feed all, provide comfortable housing for all, and to otherwise fulfill United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The collapse of the Copenhagen conference on stifling industrial growth in the poorest region of the world showed complete rejection of Western neofeudalism by Asia, South America, and Africa. These people want to live and they want to live well. Chinese and Russian leaderships completely understand the malice of post-industrial concepts since their own societies only got off their knees through rapid expansion of heavy industry, high tech, assembly plants, and construction of powerful new power sources. Since Beijing and Moscow understand how real economy works, they will increasingly take global leadership from the weakening, hypocritical, moralizing, incompetent and malicious hands of Westerners (whose only solutions to Africans for instance seem to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable slums). Chinese have done more for Africa in recent years than all the western money poured into the black holes of corrupt officials ever did. That is, they built new infrastructure in exchange for commodities rather than distributing drugs and food.

We obviously need to stop (and then reverse) mass ecological destruction and to decrease the use of carbon based fuels. The solution is not to succumb to luddite anti-human and anti-progress drivel by brainwashed millionaires with finance or law degrees. The only solution is terraforming the lifeless regions of the globe through dramatic increases in nuclear power production and corresponding high tech heavy industry:

1) Utilization of the newly available power (solar and geothermal have their places to complement the atomics) for expansion of the biosphere (alongside conservation) through bringing water to hundreds of thousands of square miles of all the world's desert. We can make endless lifeforms live where they weren't able to before. There are ways of introducing certain fungi breeds which create soil which in turn allows new ecosystems to be created. For the price of one month of occupation in Afghanistan or Iraq, brand new forests can be created where they haven't been able to live before. Working via collaborative central planning with Chinese, Russians, and Indians, Westerners can systematically eliminate deserts, restore and enrich topsoils, desalinate water for entire regions, and allow small and medium sized animals to thrive in the new territories.

2) Systematic destruction and recycling of abandoned urban sprawls and suburban areas to create building materials for more compact medium sized cities of the future (these new cities would most likely utilize modular design for rapid replacement of their neighborhoods every certain number of years). Hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of earth for ecosystems can be opened up this way. Former highways and roads can be hiking trails once they are ripped out.

3) Implementation of mass high speed MagLev train lines between the new cities to make cars, buses, and airplanes seem like a wasteful way to travel.

4) Opening up lunar colonization for helium 3 mining to feed earth based fusion reactors.

Humanity currently has the technologies already available to make all of these things happen. If any of this sounds too fantastical then the oligarchy has already won. Some terraforming has been possible and done as early as 1930s. In his amazing inauguration speech, FDR mentioned that without a vision, the people perish. Devolving back to a simpler 19th century life on an organic plantation run by
"eco friendly" corporations is not a vision. It is surrender and invitation for control and mass global suffering at the hands of the same people who damaged the ecosystem to begin with. Only grand new 21st century assembly lines churning out powerful new machines can help restore what the older industrial methods have helped to destroy. We can't repair the damage with a plow in hand and a wind farm here and there. Seven billion people are asking for more.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Transhumanist Collectivism Scenario

Exploration of how the research into more effective brain to machine interface may lead to hyper collectivism rather than individualism. No stance is taken on possible results of memory sharing.

Majority of transhumanists in the English speaking world often fancy that the future will continue becoming increasingly hyperindividualistic and that cybernetics will accelerate the process of divergence in pleasures, values, and modes of being due to divergence in vessels in which the human minds will find themselves. Considering the speeding up in fragmentation of cultural trends in Western culture (think of the duration and intensity of memes and trends in either music, film genres, activism, or even politics), such predictions sound like a safe bet. However, a couple of factors contribute to possible emergence of integrated collectivism the likes of which could not have been imagined before. Brain to computer interface communication is one such factor that is worth exploring. Let's discuss it systematically.

The last few years have brought great strides in the field of brain to computer interface. Paralyzed patients are now able to control cursors on computer screens with their thoughts and to type by thinking letters. Although much better communication between the brain and a machine's computer can be established through physical insertion of a net of carbon nanotube receivers straight into the brain tissue, increasingly it appears there is no need for that in many cases. The human brain waves have a frequency high enough to penetrate the skull and be read by ever more sensitive receivers on the scalp.

 Most recent breakthroughs in cybernetics still involve one way communication from the brain to the device as in the case of a monkey's mind controlling a robotic arm to feed itself and a monkey managing to move robotic legs on a treadmill by just thinking about it. It is necessary to emphasize that brain action in regards to use of the internet and non-humanoid machines can be very different than brain action in control of neuroprosthetic limbs. In the latter, the existing neural hardware is the source for outgoing brain signals and replaces missing/immobilized phantom limbs with mechanical ones while working in familiar territory. Whereas in the former, it is an unfamiliar territory and the brain has to be continuously exercised to create sufficient new neural connections and get an ever expanding stream of signals to operate programs that have little in common with human hardware.

As an example of the less familiar brain to computer interface, lets take a person's brainwaves "flying" an object (say a virtual airplane) through a simulation reality. This already exists by the way and you can get headsets allowing you to do so. At first the airplane spins wildly but the person realizes that he can steer it left when utilizing his right hemisphere and stir it to the right when utilizing the left. Frontal and posterior regions can do the up and down. The program understands the brain layout and thus utilizes it as a framework for 360 3D control. Obviously to think of math, lyrics, art, etc to control an object sounds insanely inefficient in comparison to neuroprosthetic method of thinking of moving a left thumb, right thumb, left foot, right foot, etc.

The issue here is not the development of the quickest simplest "universal remote thought control" (URTC) to control first a virtual object and then a real physical object in the form of a machine that is either attached to the body, is a short distance away, or is on the other side of the world. The issue is to create an easy to learn/use plug and play control mechanism that will have an almost non-existent lag in comparison to person's normal reflexes. Sure, we might at first have to create a simple internationally used URTC (think a simplified virtual keyboard for your brain to control a great number of programs from computer operating systems to lawn mowers to transport construction robots).

Lets take a ridiculous example of a lawn mower for instance (ridiculous in that it's easier to create an autonomous lawn mower than for a person to control it with thoughts). A person can direct the mower registered to his ID (can't have a citizen be able to control other people's property) over a lawn the way he directs a cursor over a screen. He can think at it some universally recognizable equivalent symbol of "faster" or "slower", to go to any of a handful of functions as well as of course to turn on and off. For many machines that is enough and same principles could be applied to literally thousands of gadgets of various sizes. Such a control scheme is not sufficient due to the lag involved. When a person is controlling his robot dog this way and a car is about to hit the dog, the middlemen of URTC can cause a lag that gets the robot smashed by the car. This problem is even greater when operating a passenger vehicle this way or some military bot. The advantages of the old joystick and wheel then become readily evident.

It now becomes more apparent that there are a number of possible thought control methods (with those relying on the most newly evolved linguistic parts of the brain being perhaps the slowest and least efficient). The linguistic thinking process may be enough for just communication (thinking up a word instead of typing it) but not for high speed and reliable manipulation of machinery. For that the more reptilian/ancient reflex oriented brain parts are probably needed.

Yes, but what does this have to do with emergence of possible collectivism?

The military and corporate organs will eventually be driven to find ways of capturing the total brain signal command output by capturing the information out of the spinal column as well as from the surface of the brain. This will be done with the purpose of achieving a reflex level control by the human brain over a desired computer program. Simultaneously there will be research done into creating a way to send signals from the machine to the brain to create a two way cybernetic communication. The breakthroughs in two way communication are the most exciting part if you ask any transhumanist. These are the technologies that will allow a blind person to have a spectrum of vision from the microscopic to the telescopic, for a deaf person to hear heartbeats, etc. As of today, research in this area involves making neuroprosthetics realistic so a person with a robotic hand can feel what it touches as well as command it smoothly with his nerves and brain.
If you consider that eventually, the total neural signal output will be captured, you'll see that this data can then be stored, streamed, modified, etc. In essence, the ability to read the total output will allow to fully record a person's experience as it happens and thus allow external storage of such experiences (memories). Reverse engineering of the total one way communication from the brain to machine will enable a total one way communication from machine to the brain. This means that the memories recorded from one person in real time can be stored and then played for another person.

Lets not even think of very augmented humans at this point and think of the implications for relatively familiar humanity that such technology creates. Playback of memories easily defeats movies as an entertainment medium. Eventually broadband speeds will enable streaming of such entertainment in real time to millions if not billions of humans (those who have the augmentation necessary to get the signal data). This in turn enables the sharing of virtually identical experiences (one's perception of the experiences is a different matter which is a topic for another day). We can see that people would like to spend their time and resources playing the most exciting memories and not the lousy ones. The more they do so, the more they become identical since what we are is just a collection of our unique memories with a physiological neural operating system.

We can conceptualize subcultures and religious sects where the members share the memories to such a degree that they increasingly relate more and more to each due to the fact of them increasingly becoming each other. Even without such inclination to overly share, we can see a youtube type sharing of thousands of key memories by millions of individuals who become one without really trying to do so. Rather than continue becoming individualized, the process will begin to revert itself as people from around the world gradually melt into one giant increasingly homogeneous collective. The more they become one the more that will influence which memories they seek out next which just accelerates the process. Of course since there are a number of different psychological breeds among humans, such process should result in a number of increasingly polarized collectives within one loosely integrated global one. After all, there would be thousands of hours of exciting memories yet not enough time to watch them all. Person's cultural, educational, psychological background would decide.

In a way this is already happening on the internet and the collectivization through a global or regional internet culture is the other factor in potential emergence of transhuman collectivism. I will explore the two factors more fully in part 2.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Landlords Are Feudal Parasites

Promotion of Georgist Land Value Tax, housing cooperatives, and abolishing of medieval parasites


It is remarkable how the last key remnant of pre-capitalist feudalism (private land ownership) persists to this day. What is even more surprising is that a solution to deal with the oppressive problem has been around for over a hundred years in the form of Henry George's Land Value Tax. A Georgist system would eliminate income and sales tax and just tax the previously parasitic do nothing feudal landlords who live off their often hereditary privilege. In essence it was assumed under the LVT scheme that since the American government is the one protecting them and conquering new land for them, the landlords should be paying rent to the government based on the value of their property.

As I have written in the Story of Joe the Land Baron, land ownership is the worst monopoly in terms of potential for abuse and exploitation on micro to macro scales. Those who would immediately say that it'd be even worse and more dangerous for the government to be the final singular landowner should reevaluate the moral justifications, allowances, and slippery slope arguments for taxes on income, product sales, and the like.

Sydney, Taiwan, and Singapore (a more pro-capitalist society than USA for those scared of government as your landlord) have had great success in improving economic efficiencies through Land Value Tax. That is because the tax does not produce deadweight loss the way property or income tax does. And yes it only applies to land and not any improvements on it since land was not produced by anybody and there is a finite supply of it (thus supply cannot be cut as in case of say, tax on luxuries).

Henry George was immensely popular back during Laissez Faire America since early capitalists (unlike their aristocratic descendants in the present day who have congress in their pocket) were still resentful of nobility and its wealth by default. In his own words,

"Like a flash it came over me that there was the reason of advancing poverty with advancing wealth. With the growth of population, land grows in value, and the men who work it must pay more for the privilege"

Indeed, there is a reason why a tiny city state of Singapore is one of the first to adopt this taxation scheme that broad range of thinkers (from the American founding fathers to Karl Marx) have an agreement on. Henry George really wanted to make America safe for capitalism by finishing a long struggle against landed feudalism that began in 1789.

"Furthermore, on a visit to New York City, he was struck by the apparent paradox that the poor in that long-established city were much worse off than the poor in less developed California. These observations supplied the theme and title for his 1879 book Progress and Poverty, which was a great success, selling over 3 million copies. In it George made the argument that a sizeable portion of the wealth created by social and technological advances in a free market economy is possessed by land owners and monopolists via economic rents, and that this concentration of unearned wealth is the main cause of poverty. George considered it a great injustice that private profit was being earned from restricting access to natural resources while productive activity was burdened with heavy taxes, and indicated that such a system was equivalent to slavery"

What often makes a large landlord the ultimate parasite and monopolist is the additional fact of him renting out rooms within land improvements to capitalists (who then use them as offices to run their wage slavery business out of). This makes the actual land baron a slave master to the second power and a real sturdy power center through pressure on company tenants. Obviously poor people who own a few acres of land and don't collect rents are not the focus of attack here (plus they would pay very little LVT due to lower social value of their land). Those people and corporate entities who own prime acres throughout large cities like London, NYC, and Moscow are the real problem. This feudalism and the poverty that it causes is a lot more noticeable when it's a large plantation in 1880s with poor people toiling on it. It is a lot less noticeable and allows the parasites to get away with it when it's a chain of apartment or office buildings.

Yeah but installing LVT is politically a very long and difficult road!! What can be done in the meantime?

Thanks for asking. In the meantime, the most obvious thing to do is mass social and political promotion of housing cooperatives. The cooperative corporation is a legal landlord entity that is collectively owned by the renters. Each person owns stock in this "landlord corporation" but the overhead is tiny since most of the "profits" are given back to renters in the form of lower rent (rather than maximized to go to non-tenant shareholders or some aristocrat's new jet plane). The feudal entity thus becomes decentralized among the people and controlled by them democratically.

People in cooperative housing pay a much lower rent than say their neighbors who depend on temporary contractual agreements with their often erratic master. It makes sense for a group to overcome the middleman land owner by collectively becoming the owner and splitting the money. It is already done in numerous areas of the world and United States and should be promoted on a mass scale at the expense of the landed oligarchy. In middle ages, the peasants often wanted to split and/or collectively own the master's farmland land they work on but do not own. Once Americans find out how much less they can be paying if they just force out the middleman, the same desire and motive will reignite itself. Only this time in urban jungles where most people now live.

It is good to close with a quote from presidential candidate Eugene Debs' anti-war speech that sent him to prison during WW1.

"And now among other things they are urging you to “cultivate” war gardens, while at the same time a government war report just issued shows that practically 52 percent of the arable, tillable soil is held out of use by the landlords, speculators and profiteers. They themselves do not cultivate the soil. They could not if they would. Nor do they allow others to cultivate it. They keep it idle to enrich themselves, to pocket the millions of dollars of unearned increment. Who is it that makes this land valuable while it is fenced in and kept out of use? It is the people. Who pockets this tremendous accumulation of value? The landlords. And these landlords who toil not and spin not are supreme among American “patriots.”  

In passing I suggest that we stop a moment to think about the term “landlord.” “LANDLORD!” Lord of the Land! The lord of the land is indeed a superpatriot. This lord who practically owns the earth tells you that we are fighting this war to make the world safe for democracy—he who shuts out all humanity from his private domain; he who profiteers at the expense of the people who have been slain and mutilated by multiplied thousands, under pretense of being the great American patriot. It is he, this identical patriot who is in fact the archenemy of the people; it is he that you need to wipe from power. It is he who is a far greater menace to your liberty and your well-being than the Prussian Junkers on the other side of the Atlantic ocean."

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Left-Handed People: Natural Leaders?

(disclaimer: This isn't a self aggrandizing article. I am right handed.)

Left handed people's more decentralized left hemispheric analytic functioning allows them to bridge the gap between left and right brained populations. They push society's transition towards playing by new rules of the game while maintaining order

Before we get into neural and psychological dynamics of leadership, here are some of these intel core 2 duo left handed people you may be familiar with:

4 of last 5 US presidents (13% of population disproportionately represented in highest office. Guess which one doesn't belong)

  • Ronald Reagan (this puppet had cross dominance but fits into the category)
  • George Bush Sr.
  • Bill Clinton
  • Barack Obama

Other Notables (one can take the really historical ones with a grain of salt as left handed want to claim them on perhaps dubious evidence)
  • Benjamin Franklin                                                                       Nelson Rockefeller
  • Thomas Jefferson                                                                       Herbert Hoover
  • Napoleon Bonaparte                                                                   Harry Truman
  • Julius Ceasar                                                                              Gerald Ford
  • Winston Churchhill                                                                      Sam Adams
  • Jon of Arc                                                                                   Fidel Castro
  • Otto Von Bismarck                                                                     Bob Dole
  • Charlemagne                                                                              John McCain
  • Alexander the Great                                                                   Steve Forbes
  • Da Vinci (cross dominance)                                                        Michelangelo (CD)       
  • Ross Perot                                                                                 Mahatma Gandhi  (CD)
  • Robert S. McNamara                                                                 Horatio Nelson
  • Edgar Hoover                                                                            Benjamin Netanyahu

So what's the big deal you may say? There are plenty of notables who aren't.

Left handed do not stand out as much due to their over representation in power but due to their interesting neural structure that perhaps allows them to be better transitional leaders once in power (I'll explain what transitional leadership means towards the end).

It appears the human herd is split relatively evenly between those with left brain dominance (52.5% of the population) and right brain dominance (47.5%). As mentioned previously, in discussion of Myers-Briggs personality and difficulties of political progress, this division and further subdivisions within the two major groups are essential for the herd's survival and evolution. Besides differences in consciousness (which mostly correspond to intra-Homo Sapien discrimination and deference), hemispheric factionalism in the herd seems to be the key source of lifestyle disagreement among individuals.

Find out where you lean here if you're interested.

Left brainers are the strong Js (ISFJ, ESFJ, INTJ, ENTJ, ISTJ, ESTJ, INFJ, ENFJ)

Right brainers are the strong Ps (ISFP, ESFP, INTP, ENTP, ISTP, ESTP, INFP, ENFP)

For information on which parts of the brain the other letters correspond to, you can refer here.

The lifestyle differences appear to stem from left brainers getting tasks done while the right brainers always modify and evolve notions of what tasks are to be done and how to do them. In essence, the right brainers always strive to modify and reevaluate the rules and mechanics of the game while the left brainers excel at playing within the existing order. We can see how arguments instantly arise. If you are physiologically good at dominating within the current framework, you'd have a problem with those who advocate reform or even abolition of the framework since it'd weaken your position (think how professional football players would react if some called for rules of football to be radically altered). The left brainers have lots to lose in terms of personal investment and perfected routines. In addition, the right brainers appear lazy, chaotic, and incompetent to LBs due to RB insistence on seemingly random tinkering and hoping to find shortcuts. The tasks and rules of the game here can be anything ranging from emotional, mechanical, political, religious, etc.

Here is a great short video speech by a neuroscientist who briefly lost control of her left hemispheric functioning. She became disconnected from symbol manipulating linguistic hardware and entered a powerful dissociated ketamine type state which she pretty much described as nirvana. The video helps understand the great importance of both hemispheres properly functioning and how physiological hemispheric emphasis can even influence one's spiritual inclinations.

The interpersonal conflict between LBs and RBs of course neatly translates to macro herd level. We can see who has more invested in the status quo and who is better organized and able to fight change. In fairness, a small number of left brainers (ENTJs and INTJs) are the most capable of making the jump into the new order of things even if they need some guidance, RB trailblazing, and inspiration. These NT LBs then drag the rest of LBs after them and even at times meaningfully contribute to formulation of the new order through rapidly thriving within it.

What does this have to do with the potentiality of left handed people being natural leaders? Well, unlike women whose brains have better data flow between the hemispheres compared to men due to thicker corpus collosum, left handed people have a bit of left brain processing within their right brain. This makes their brain hardware qualitatively different than roughly 87% of the population that is right handed. Left handed people are not just straddling the border between two worlds (someone who say, consistently scores as a hybrid of J and P on Myers Briggs in a good communicative balance) but have a kind of neural yin yang going for then.

A left handed person's overall biocomputer thus appears to have decentralized the analytic left brain to a degree. There are multitudes of brain scans showing a range of decentralization patterns that are possible. Considering that people who suffer from total blindness have their hearing and smell neural clusters pick up the slack and develop what could only be called "super senses" compared to the general population, we can only speculate the processing advantages a person acquires from "left brainization" of their right hemisphere. Those born with such neural arrangement of course are best positioned to exploit it than those who try to decentralize through exercise. Some exercise to decentralize processing for a right handed person of course involves using the left hand daily to create new neural connections in the right hemisphere. Other forms of longitudinal exercise (such as LB and RB people taking certain drugs over time that either stimulate their weaker hemisphere or hamper their dominant hemisphere) just create a balance but not neural decentralization for the most part.

We can now begin to conceptualize the neural dynamics of natural leadership. Such a person would:

1) Physiologically be able to bridge the gap between the LB and RB populations by being both simultaneously rather than a watered down mutt with poor understanding of both extremes
2) Intimately understand both RB and LB points of view to create reconciliation on a national scale
3) Have enough uniquely decentralized left brain computation to be one of the first Js jumping into a new framework created by right hemispheric people (assuming those left handed who have the patience/focus to crawl up the ladders of power to be J leaning overall).

Such combination would allow left handed leaders to dominate (be) both strong reform minded LB strategists (ENTJ/INTJs) and RB theorists (ENTP/INTPs). They would aid in transition of society from playing by one set of rules to another to help it survive and prosper.

Those who are cross dominant may take issue with this and say that cross dominant handedness is perhaps even better in terms of allocating neural computing power (CD examples include Richard Feynman, Einstein, Tesla, and Gandhi as mentioned above). But that is a story for another day.

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