What lies ahead

Mariner recently posted a metaphor relating the status of the United States, its culture and its economy at war with itself. This cultural war is the result of inadequate regulations on wealth. As if this were not enough, another war is horning in on the citizen’s awareness: Artificial Intelligence (AI) – but even more so the domination of daily, personal human life by computers.

Artificial Intelligence will displace our need to perform mundane tasks, even sophisticated tasks. The hidden agenda is that using AI, corporations will know so much about our daily activity, preferences, illnesses, and common daily behavior that computers will decide how much insurance will be available at what cost, how much salary will be permitted, what we can eat, buy or have access to. Where we are permitted to live, how much housing cost we will be allowed and what medical insurance we may have based on our daily behavior, all will be based on monitoring our lives in minute detail. In short, computers will control our choices in life and our routine behavior – the concept of privacy will disappear.

The simple conveniences of talking to ECHO or similar devices will do us in. The data tracking behind ECHO will capture every instruction, every activity, and every movement of daily activity into a complex database that will determine who you are – statistically. Not so much who you are as an individual but who you are compared to everyone else. You will be allowed behaviors commensurate with your statistical relationship with the population – statistically.

Perhaps younger generations see no problem being defined as a statistic somewhere in a database. Mariner is of an older generation, perhaps one that has lived too long given its genetic foundations. Mariner still has a unique persona with its own consciousness, intellectual awareness and the idea that he can be who he wants to be in society. While statistics may describe him, they do not create him; free will is still a dream with which he can build his life.

Ancient Mariner

 

The Future

֎Yuval Noah Harari

Mariner has mentioned Yuval Noah Harari in previous posts. He is an unusually pragmatic futurist not prone to future utopias, fantasies or whimsy. His main concern, as is mariner’s, is that there will be large numbers of humans who will be useless to society and for which there is no reason to exist and no way to participate in the world of artificial intelligence (AI). How will AI deal with these humans? Mariner highly recommends you read his article.[1] Having finished the article, mariner turned to his wife to describe the future:

Future reality will be like a glove we wear on our hand – but it isn’t our glove and our hand does what the glove tells it to do.”

֎25 percent for every 1 degree Celsius

Using reliable news services and scientific journals, mariner has kept abreast of climate change and the unexpected effects of global warming. Hotter temperatures will, according to a new study in Science, make insects hungrier, which in turn will spread more disease and decimate more crops. For every 1 degree Celsius (about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) increase in global temperature, wheat, corn and rice will be damaged 10 to 25 percent.

֎The Democrats are sailing a ship named ‘Liberalism’ and enjoy good winds as they sail toward November 6 2018. Fivethirtyeight.com, mariner’s reliable oddsmaker gives the Democrats a 7 out of 10 chance to win the House. Mariner’s alter ego Amos is worried that (a) ‘Liberalism’ will lose its favorable wind as the election nears. He is skeptical that the likes of Senator Sanders and Senator Warren are the types that will unify the electorate behind a new liberalism. (b) Donald has left the electorate in disarray; the Trump party and its base will not play nice; the Democrats have their own problems with identity politics; the disemboweled Department of State, Department of Education, Environmental Protection Agency, and especially the Department of Justice will be unable to provide signs of early progress and reorganization. This inadequacy may run long enough to influence the 2020 Congressional election.

֎By the way, did anyone notice someone named Martin O’Malley stumping in Iowa for Democratic candidates? Turns out he ran against Hillary in the 2016 primary and is a former Governor of Maryland. Hmmm.

Ancient Mariner

 

 

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/10/yuval-noah-harari-technology-tyranny/568330/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=atlantic-weekly-newsletter&utm_content=20180831&silverid-ref=NDkwMjIzMjA1Mjg2S0

What REAL Change is

The world map might look differently had the Greek volcano Thera not erupted 3,500 years ago (1645 BC) in what geologists believe was the single-most powerful explosive event ever witnessed. Thera dwarfed the atomic bomb. Thera didn’t just blow a massive hole into the island of Santorini – it set the entire ancient Mediterranean onto a different course in history. The legend of Atlantis and the story of the Biblical plagues and subsequent exodus from Egypt also have been connected to the epic catastrophe.

Minoan culture, the dominant civilization in the Mediterranean at the time, crumbled as a result of the eruption, changing the political landscape of the ancient world indefinitely. Environmental effects were felt across the globe, as far away as China and perhaps even North America and Antarctica.

There are no first-person accounts of what happened that day, but scientists can compare it to the detailed records available from the famous eruption of Krakatoa, Indonesia, in 1883. Krakatoa killed upwards of 40,000 people in just a few hours, produced colossal tsunamis 40 feet tall, spewed volcanic ash across Asia, and caused a drop in global temperatures and created strangely colored sunsets for three years. The blast was heard 3,000 miles away.

Thera’s eruption was four or five times more powerful than Krakatoa, exploding with the energy of several hundred atomic bombs in a fraction of a second.

An absence of human remains and valuables like metal suggest that the Minoan residents of Santorini predicted the eruption and the island had been evacuated, but the culture as a whole did not fare as well. The powerful Minoan civilization declined suddenly soon after Thera blew its top. Tsunamis spawned by the eruption would have swamped its naval fleet and coastal villages. A drop in temperatures caused by the massive amounts of Sulphur dioxide spouted into the atmosphere led to several years of cold, wet summers in the region, ruining harvests. The lethal combination overran every mighty Minoan stronghold in less than 50 years.

– – – –

The Black Death, also known as the Great Plague, the Black Plague, or the Plague, was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 200 million people in Eurasia and peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351. The bacterium Yersinia pestis, which results in several forms of plague, is believed to have been the cause. The plague created a series of religious, social and economic upheavals, which had profound effects on the course of European history.

– – – –

The Earth’s climate has changed throughout history. Just in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 7,000 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era — and of human civilization. Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives. A change in orbit is expected relatively soon.

The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions released into the atmosphere. Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with the five warmest years on record taking place since 2010. Not only was 2016 the warmest year on record, but eight of the 12 months that make up the year — from January through September, with the exception of June — were the warmest on record for those respective months.

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass. Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland lost an average of 281 billion tons of ice each year between 1993 and 2016, while Antarctica lost about 119 billion tons during the same time period. The rate of Antarctica ice mass loss has tripled in the last decade.

Is our twenty-first century civilization facing another REAL change?

Mariner will not speculate on the changes to civilization overall, which will be dramatic, but some effects already have been determined by scientists:

By 2100 worldwide shortages in potable water will be severe.

By 2100 every major coastal city in the world will be flooded.

By 2100 every major agricultural belt will be severely diminished. For example, the average temperature across the US wheat belt will average 104° with no let up during winter.

Take note that these changes are worldwide. How will civilization change? How will concepts like nations and economy and civil liberty change?

Ancient Mariner

 

 

Climate Change – Too Slow to Worry About

Actually, the title is inaccurate in that it suggests there is nothing to worry about. On the other hand, just because it is too slow to cause concern as if it were a tornado approaching, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

The current Atlantic website and magazine has an article presenting the latest findings of scientists who have new tools and insights into climate change[1]. It turns out that in Earth’s history, about 60 million years ago when mammals began to emerge, the atmosphere held 400 ppm (parts per million) of CO2 – the same amount we have in the atmosphere today. The last time CO2 was at 400 ppm (as it is today) was 3 million years ago during the Pliocene epoch, when sea levels were perhaps 80 feet higher than today. Scientists predict the sea level will catch up to the effects of CO2 around the end of the century – which may or may not reach 80 feet[2]. Mariner suggests a homework assignment: using Google Earth, determine how many major cities around the world have an altitude less than 80 feet above our current sea level (The entire shoreline of Florida including the Keys qualifies).

There is more science and environmental change in store, like palm trees in Scandinavia, and an increase in methane from very large swamps covering thousands of square miles. Methane is the chemical that slowly accelerates sea level rise. Mean temperatures in places like the Mediterranean and St. Louis will hover around the 104° mark and have no winter.

This climate future largely is out of our hands. The damage has been done and the results will play out. Interestingly, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) wants to hold CO2 to 1,000 ppm – only 600 ppm more than what we have today. What’s an 80 foot sea rise when it may be possible to wipe out mammalian existence in a few hundred years?

Mariner often hears a common retort: “Well, we won’t be around then.” This response, besides pretending to be an ostrich with its head in the sand, is part of the fact that climate change is so very slow. Yet, the end of the century is just 82 years away. One’s grandchild still may be around to endure the slow, slow inevitable impact on world economy, health and survivability near ocean waters.

Given the current US political position on climate change (fake science – no, undesired science), younger voters will have more than racism and greed to worry about at election time.

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/08/earths-scorching-hot-history/566762/

[2] There are so many variables, from the planet’s point of view, that it is difficult to predict actual sea level rise. What worries scientists is current annual sea level rise is increasing geometrically; small amounts now but increasing dramatically over time.

The World is Flat – a Growing Truth

The news and other public activities struggle with fake news promoted always with an ulterior motive. It makes it difficult for the average citizen because fact checking, or at least cross referencing, is a new task.

Fake news is a bad thing but it will never disappear completely; a growing organization is the flat Earth society. Check it out at

https://www.newyorker.com/science/elements/looking-for-life-on-a-flat-earth?mbid=nl_Daily%20053118&CNDID=49421095&spMailingID=13616048&spUserID=MTg3Njg2NDM4MTg0S0&spJobID=1402854118&spReportId=MTQwMjg1NDExOAS2 or check your current copy of the New Yorker magazine.

The fake news tsunami is due to the overwhelming – truly overwhelming – amount of information, opinion, and deliberate intention to mislead that comes to us at the speed of light. It wasn’t too many years ago when the only new information came to an individual by a telephone, neighbor, newspaper or a simple, short announcement of headlines on the radio or television.

Still unaccepted is a common source that represents truth. There is none. None are pure enough, disciplined enough and moral enough to convince users that this is true information.

Is there a solution?

Ancient Mariner

 

Environment as a Change Agent

65 million years ago during the early Paleocene, the first primate-like creature evolved from the family Plesiadaptis. It was a small tree-climbing mammal that looked more like an insect-eating tree shrew. It was the beginning of the great age of primates and especially the branch of evolution that led to Homo sapiens – us.

This isn’t so long ago, actually. The dinosaurs existed for 230 million years until the biosphere was rudely interrupted by a meteor strike and to a lesser degree by some growing genetic deficiencies. Even so, such long timelines expose the role of the biosphere as a major player in evolution. Humans would not have been happy living during an earlier era of Earth’s history; the continents would have to spread out a bit to permit acceptable weather patterns and ocean currents; a few intense ice ages would be required to transition to fresh water so land creatures could evolve.

The reader is aware of the old, trite puzzle, ‘what came first the chicken or the egg?’ The puzzle hangs around because there are two logical answers: immediately, the answer is the first chicken hen must exist before there can be the first chicken egg; the other path of reasoning is that the genome of the chicken first occurred within the egg – a composite of several generations of genetic shifts. But another question precedes: What came first the chicken or the environment? Inevitably, the environment must be suitable for chickens in general to exist.

Environments normally change slower than creature evolution. Still, creatures have no choice except to adapt or disappear. On the other hand, creatures will modify the environment to fit their needs. For example, ahermatypic coral draw calcium from their environment to build homes for themselves; the beaver rearranges trees and leaves to build a dam which makes a pond, which enables a home safe from predators by placing the home in the middle of the pond. Neither creature has created a new biosphere but has rearranged a few conditions to better fit their needs.

So it is with humans. What humans sense about the environment is that it does not guarantee safety or longevity. In the great migration of pioneers across the western US, the environment was a threat, not a means of sustenance; the great gardens of the British Isles and Europe which require constant maintenance and an appearance of tight control also stems from an innate sense that the environment is not necessarily man’s best friend and must be mastered. One can imagine that the whole science of astrology is an effort to place meaning into an indifferent cosmos.

Innately, humans have sought to make life better and more secure by rearranging the environment. It started in earnest by collecting iron, copper, coal, nickel and other minerals; humans have always been aware of magnetic resonance in some fashion (electric charges in fish were documented in 2750 BC) but did not begin to extract magnetic forces until 1600 when William Gilbert identified the phenomenon and coined the word ‘electricus.’ Throughout the next 300+ years, humans were able to organize electrical resources to make life easier with motors, tools, light and energy in many forms. In the early 1900’s, Einstein and Fermi expanded electrical knowledge by entering the world of nuclear physics and quantum theory – the very building blocks of the biosphere and the Universe itself.

Humans are rearranging the biosphere to fit their species’ needs – nothing more than super intelligent beavers. But there is a difference. The human brain is a genuine mutation. A new branch of evolution’s tree is emerging. It is a species that will survive as the planet’s environment experiences significant changes.

One marvels at the synchrony between environment and evolution. We humans live lives and have known families in just a hundred years or so; written history goes back only a few thousand years. Modern Homo sapiens has existed only about 90,000 years. Our scale of change isn’t worth the blink of an eye. On the planetary scale, environment and evolution are changing every moment but at such an insignificant pace that it takes eons to notice.

Serendipitously, we live at a time where both the environment and the world’s specie profile are changing more rapidly than usual. The question to ponder is how much change is forced by our beaver habits and how much is caused by planetary shifts and cycles? Mariner suggests the combination is algebraic, changing more rapidly and more drastically than a normal curve of change would suggest.

Speaking in broad terms, it appears the human brain prefers the world of artificial intelligence, that is, an environment less dependent on mammalian characteristics and more dependent on an environment of electromagnetic existence. As our brains wrestle with this odd transition, the mammalian behaviors still hold on to make life awkward; sort of having one foot in and one foot out, so to speak. CBS news covered the fact that electronic giants like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs limit the use of smart phones by their children; just one small incident of struggle between the mammalian instincts and the brain’s preference for electronic communication.

We have pondered the end of the Earth and Sun since primitive times. The idea of Armageddon and the idea that we can escape to a heaven reflect our awareness that the mammalian age will not last forever. Will a life of artificial intelligence enable survival for a longer time as the Earth moves through ages of growing disruption to the mammalian environment? Perhaps the forces of environmental balance push species survival – invoking evolution one day at a time.

Ancient Mariner

 

God’s Christmas Garden

There is a strain of theology that suggests the phenomenon we call history is evidence of a God who is not necessarily a god of intercession but who has set certain conditions in place that cause reaction and compensation to occur. This is true of the stars, planets and other astronomic phenomena as well as the conditions of living things – including living things on Planet Earth. This strain of theology is a subset of pantheism; the difference is that God didn’t create everything and just walk away; before departing, God set a timer of sorts to avoid a static, unchanging universe. We perceive this timer as history – the ongoing reaction to and compensation for events. Mariner’s more colorful analogy is when he sets up the garden under the Christmas tree the last thing is to plug in electricity. Lo and behold! Immediately mariner must react to and compensate for unexpected conditions. There is an eventful history in mariner’s Christmas gardens.

So it is that humans continuously and unconditionally react to the vagaries of God’s timer. Humans devised a concept of God in such a way that a relationship could exist between humanness and Godliness. On the other hand, some suggest that being superior and distinct is self-serving and grandiose; that in truth Homo sapiens is nothing more than a smart gorilla. This dichotomy may be the essence of human life on earth and perhaps provides the electricity that creates history in our Christmas garden: we are hedonistic idealists.

So much for theology. Let’s move to dogma. For clarity in our metaphor the smart gorilla will be divided into two separate persons: Smart and Gorilla.

Gorilla is a product of evolution, of the laws of creation set in place before God left. Gorilla is no different than any other mammal insofar as the need for safety, nutrition, sex and comfort. Frankly, this is as far as dogma goes for Gorilla: pursue safety, be sated, have sex, and be comfortable while performing these acts. Provide a male Gorilla with a handful of gorilla maidens and existence is complete. Should any of these requirements be challenged in some way by another gorilla or any other beast in creation, Gorilla becomes Mighty Joe Young and will defeat any challenge. This aggressive behavior is more a ritual than a dogma; it will be addressed later.

Gorilla had been around for millions and millions of years before Smart came along. Evolution has positioned Smart as the junior partner, a Charles Darwin type of experimental mutation. Like many other unnecessary mutations, Smart is a troublemaker because Smart turns out to be an abuser of Gorilla’s environment and has an unbearable ego. Smart’s egotistic tendencies lead to the importance of sanctification, validation, modification and self-promotion; a set of terms that are Smart’s dogma.

Now Smart and Gorilla will be rejoined to live in one brain. Because Gorilla is the dominant self, Smart does not often get a chance to express independent behavior. In fact, Smart in many ways uses Gorilla’s behavior to a level that damages Gorilla’s environment and causes unnecessary fights with other Gorilla families. Survival of the fittest is now laced with survival of the most vain. Still, all in all, evolution’s law that the fittest will survive is in play. In the Christmas garden analogy, vanity may be electricity – the active ingredient for further evolutionary history.

Stay with mariner here – mariner decides to have an interview with Smart:

“How are you and Gorilla getting along?” he asked Smart.

“Being a mutant is not an enjoyable experience,” Smart replied. “I’ve been living in an old fashioned gorilla body for a long time; seems it’s about time I took charge of this new branch of evolution’s tree.”

Mariner was puzzled. “What do you have in mind?”

“I’ve started making changes where I can,” Smart said. “The planet has adapted to electricity; then I started introducing devices like the telephone, radio and television. That moved faster than I thought it would and already has become integrated with gorilla physiology.”

“What do you mean integrated?” mariner asked.

“If I am ever to take charge of my own being, I have to swap out parts of Gorilla’s body for parts that fit my own nature. The medical field has made the most advances by using electronic replacements. Think about Gorilla’s sense of hearing – Gorilla couldn’t hear more than one hundred yards away until I introduced the telephone. Now Gorilla can hear around the world. Or should I say Smart can hear around the world. For that matter, hearing aids let Smart hear even when Gorilla can’t.”

Mariner was intrigued. “You’re suggesting that your body is quite different than Gorilla’s body. Is there any part of your body in common with Gorilla’s body?”

Smart paused for a moment. “I am alive just like Gorilla but even that requires redefinition. What is ‘alive’ made of? Is the Sun alive? It has a lifespan; what is the definition of life – not by defining parts but by defining function?”

Mariner responded. “You are a new branch of a tree that contains carbon-based life forms. Whatever the definition of life’s functions, Smart still will need a body of some sort.”

“That assumption is spoken like a true carbon-based creature” Smart retorted. Look around at the new devices that are moving Smart to the edge of Gorilla’s capabilities: Remember that old movie ‘The Stepford Wives’? They exist today and are sold as sex toys; there are robots that can carry a real conversation with humans; there are robots that can learn a thousand times faster than humans; for the first time intelligent electronic devices don’t have to look like humans – consider Alexa, Google, Cortana, Siri and the like.”

Mariner commented, “These are excellent electronic devices that foretell the promise of Artificial Intelligence but I don’t see the connection with your statement about replacing Gorilla parts.”

“I don’t use the term ‘artificial.’ Intelligence is intelligence. Pay particular attention to advances in brain-related technology. Did you know mental imaging can be captured in an electronic device? Did you know that for some time now the brain can actually command dexterity in artificial limbs without an electronic box? Did you know that recently electronics were able to replicate human thought outside the brain? Do you see what Smart is doing?” Smart paused.

Not really sure,” mariner said.

“The time is rapidly approaching when I will exist in an electronic state and no longer require Gorilla’s mammalian body.” Smart went on, enjoying the vision of a new state of being. “I am making rapid progress now. It won’t be too many decades before human lower court judges will be replaced with Smart – sans the gorilla suit, of course.”

What will a Smart lower court judge look like?” mariner asked.

“In the beginning, androids may be necessary but all one needs is my brain linked to a data source. Eventually, perhaps a small box attached to the global network. My brain will be integrated with external intelligence devices providing a unified super intelligence.” Smart stopped.

Mariner mused a bit. “That sounds like using a virtual reality mask.”

“Now you’re getting the drift of things – just remove Gorilla.”

Mariner opened a new direction. “How does Smart eat without a body? Is exercise important?”

“Nutrition is chemically based; I will eat through tubes. My body is still evolving; my existence will be a combination of network integration and mobility of some mechanical sort. Have you ever watched the show ‘Battlebots’? It’s truly primitive but the technology is solving issues around mobility. I’ll need some type of mobility. I like the idea of multiple bodies at once; something the Battlebots have introduced with their second and third attack aides.”

“So all you will keep is the brain you and Gorilla share?”

“Yes. Likely the physiological support will fade away over time.”

Mariner closed the interview. There was the whole issue of society, politics and freedom but mariner had to give more thought to that before he could talk to Smart again.

Ancient Mariner

 

 

Coming of Age Past 60

Of all the disruptive suggestions offered by mariner to make life equitable in the coming artificial intelligence age, setting an age limit of 60 rather than setting a limit on elected terms received the most comment. Mariner responds to these comments in today’s post.

֎ Genetic Disposition. As Homo sapiens grows up, lives life, and grows old, both the mind and the body go through distinct changes we are familiar with and about which we compensate in some way. The body certainly is subject to age else professional sports would be filled with old athletes and tenure would become a union issue. Only the most dedicated, ascetic athletes maintain energy levels past 50; mariner suspects few of these few athletes serve in elected government positions. The mind follows a similar path, becoming more pragmatic and less adventuresome in its thoughts.
֎ Role in Culture. Mariner remembers studying the Japanese custom of elevating its esteemed leaders and thinkers to a supernumerary status in their later lives. They were called upon in special situations when their acumen helped with solving problems. Here in the US after notable careers, many US leaders and thinkers continue to shape the direction of politics and other disciplines by belonging to think tanks and consulting with active leaders. Many return to professional careers, continuing to shape the dynamics of society. Many leverage their political influence by becoming lobbyists – perhaps not a best choice from the electorate point of view; some even become university presidents.

The point is this: Codgers (cf. last post) have a jaundiced view. It is jaundiced because times change; the values codgers learned in life are passé or have context that no longer applies. Two examples will suffice:
First example – Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska was at one point the Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. This committee was responsible for, among other things, developing legislation and regulations related to technology which at the time oversaw the growth of the Internet, computerization and telecommunications. One can research his career on Wikipedia. He passed few communications bills and virtually no meaningful technology bills. Upon his retirement, he confessed he did not understand how computer networks worked. After long instruction by staffers, he grasped the idea that wires transmitting data were comprised of tubes through which data was transmitted – similar to department stores. Senator Stevens was born on November 18, 1923; he was 86 when he left the Senate in 2009. Because the Senate Chair had no comprehension of modern telecommunications or its social ramifications, Silicon Valley runs unimpeded to this very day – allowing abusive data practices similar to Facebook.
Second example – Senator Strom Thurman was born on December 5, 1902. He represented the state of South Carolina from 1954 (age 52) until he retired in 2003 at the age of 101. Notorious for his resistance to civil rights legislation, he was able to prevent universal civil rights in everything from public schools to restaurants. When he stepped down at the end of his career, he had singlehandedly kept states right rule and segregation in the Dixie states even to today when racism is not an idea but a function of daily life. His opinions on race always were 40 years behind that of the general public.

Mariner deliberately cleansed the examples from party inclinations in order to clarify the effect of codgerism. One may challenge mariner for selecting two seemingly extreme examples. Mariner challenges back for the reader to take a list of age 60+ legislators and compare their later advocacies to the needs of the day.

֎ Taking Measure of Priorities. Psychology and pop psychology sources are full of models, comparisons and timelines reflecting the stages humans pass through in a lifetime. Mariner truncates abundant references into five stages of life:

0-20: An age of learning the rules of life; imprinting mores and behaviors that are meaningful for personal integration into society; acquiring identity and role in society.

20-40: The age of the warrior; passion, energy and commitment focus on growth and achievement; establishing family and challenging society are prominent.
40-60: The age of the expert; seasoned experience translates to power in society; peak of insight to mitigate conflict and procedure.

60-80: An age of withdrawal; wisdom replaces achievement; acquiescence replaces challenge; tolerance replaces discipline; physical presence wanes.

80-?: The age of the self; reflection; personal necessities; physical and mental decline.

Mariner acknowledges that moving from one stage to the next or even transitioning within a stage is not driven by toggle switches; the change of weather seasons more closely fits. However, searching for representatives among 350 million citizens, the stages are a stable rule.

֎ Energy to Burn. A marvel we experience is watching very young children burn energy through constant movement, gesturing, animated conversation and otherwise consuming an endless supply of energy. The amount of energy we have, not only at hand but in reserve, dwindles steadily through life. For adults, there comes a time when the energy required for determination just isn’t there. We acquiesce to ‘going along’ rather than pressing our opinion forward. Genuine statesmanship in behalf of others suffers the most as we approach the age of withdrawal.

Given the four conditions outlined above, mariner believes older age is the cause of more dysfunction across a legislative body than having one extremist hang around too long. Mariner suspects that older voters, sharing the transition into withdrawal, are more comfortable with their own kind as a representative. Certainly don’t want those brash youngsters changing everything.

To show magnanimity, mariner will yield on age 60 and replace it with age 65 – if only to match Medicare policy. In return, he submits that cabinet members, too, be subject to the age rule.

Ancient Mariner

Man’s Role on Earth

It’s the year 1870. Two American Bison are talking. One says to the other, “It doesn’t look good for us, Bill. We’ve been hit with the Man parasite.”

Yesterday, two Parrotfish are cruising along the Coral Reef. One says to the other, “Did you hear they’re shutting down the whole reef? It has a Man infection.”

A Bengal Tiger and A Silverback Gorilla are resting by the waterhole. The Tiger says, “My cub came back to me the other day and said he couldn’t find a place to live and that he’d have to move back with me. I don’t have enough room as it is.” The Gorilla replied, “Tell me about it. That Man infestation will be the end of us all.”

Two wild Salmon are swimming up the Chuit River in Alaska. One says to the other, “You know this is the last time our families will swim up this river – The Chuit open face coal mine and gas wells will cause Man poisoning.”

Mother Nature finally had to call a meeting of the Living Creatures Task Force. The Man parasite had eliminated 600 major species in just 100 years and thousands of species were complaining of disorders from gentrification, disease, poisoning, starvation and unnecessary violence and murder.

In the past, Mother Nature had been a bit conservative, surmising the Man parasite had enough intelligence to curb its excesses. Now she had to concede that things were out of hand. Mother Nature presented to the task force two subcommittee reports; one from the planet climate subcommittee and one from the Committee on Species Population.

“The climate report doesn’t look good,” she said. “Both the atmosphere and the oceans are out of balance from Man infections.”

A flatfish piped up, “I heard Man plans to dredge the ocean floor for increasingly rare minerals – where can I go?” There was a growing rumble rising from the task force.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Mother Earth said. “The Climate report says the damage is irreparable as far out as the next ice age.”

She switched to the report from the Committee on Species Population. Her face grew pale. “The report says species are becoming extinct at a rate higher than the first five extinctions – and there hasn’t been a Solar System catastrophe.” “Except for the Man parasite,” a beaver shouted. There was a general response to the beaver and discussion centered on the overpopulation of the Man parasite at the expense of other species.

Mother Earth turned to the Chairman of the Solar System Committee, an Andean Condor. “Do we expect any surprises from the Solar System?”

The Condor replied that Jupiter and Saturn are in syzygy which likely will cause an ice age at some point. Further, the Condor suggested that a reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field is due. “At least the Sun’s eleven-year solar cycle has been uneventful.” Condor added.

“I saw in the climate report that the world’s estuaries will be flooded by rising water levels,” a mud puppy commented. “To say nothing about shellfish,” a Maryland crab whispered.

Mother Earth gaveled the task force to order. “I’ll have to give this some thought,” she said. “I am concerned that the cure will be catastrophic; we will all suffer mightily.”

She gaveled the meeting of the Living Creatures Task Force to a close.

Ancient Mariner

 

Another Animal at the Zoo

In an effort to remain sane and to maintain rational emotional feelings, for several weeks mariner has avoided American news programming, tolerating only BBC, CGTN (China), selected CSPAN and, with the aid of the fast forward button, The Eleventh Hour on MSNBC. For years mariner has been saturated by the home and do-it-yourself networks. He tends not to watch fictional programming.

What is left? Science channels (seen all the programs), geological and environmental programming (been everywhere, travelled through time and space, seen all the conditions); mariner knows how to be a junk dealer, bootlegger, hotrod mechanic, gardener, and furniture maker. Scrounging about for anything, mariner uncovered the veterinary shows. There are several series. The theme is that animals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish of all kinds are brought to a vet’s clinic having all kinds of maladies.

Mariner suffered a binge watch the other night. He had enlightenment. As he watched the animals, he wondered how they dealt with human creatures while not knowing the intellectual dimensions, knowledge and cause and effect processes that are foisted upon them. In most cases the patients had learned to tolerate humans, even accepting dependence for comfort and care. But intellectually, there had to be an immense gap between patient reality and human reality. When they were healed, did they have a causal awareness between newfound health and the creatures wearing masks and poking with needles?

Then mariner had his burst of insight. In 150 years, when artificial intelligence has been thoroughly ensconced in human culture, humans will have the exact intellectual experience as the animals. There will be no way to link human consciousness with the surreal reasoning of a robot. This insight applies not only to visiting our electronic vets but also our electronic government, our electronic softball game versus robots and (one wonders) our spousal relationships.

We will be no more than a baby opossum experiencing the AI world in complete ignorance; tolerating them and even accepting dependence for comfort and care. There’s always a concern that AI vets will, just as human vets, decide to have us put down.

Ancient Mariner