Meanwhile

Because of the anthropological tumult in today’s world, mariner hasn’t visited the world of the sciences for a while. Here are a few updates:

֎ Invest in European real estate now before the rush

In the next 200 million years, Eurasia and the Americas will collide to form the supercontinent Amasia, according to a model of tectonic plate motion.

From Columbia to Rodinia to Pangaea, Earth has seen a few supercontinents come and go in its ancient past. Now, researchers theorize that these giant landmasses form in regular cycles, about once every 600 million years. They even predict when and where the next supercontinent will form, driven by the creeping flow of rocks in our planet’s hot mantle. Nicolle R. Fuller/Science Source

֎ Ortho and Orkin are new kids on the block when it comes to insecticide

Ancestors living in southern Africa around 200,000 years ago not only slept on grass bedding but occasionally burned it, apparently to keep the bugs away.

Remnants of the oldest known grass bedding, discovered in South Africa’s Border Cave, lay on the ashes of previously burned bedding, say archaeologist Lyn Wadley of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and her colleagues. Ash spread beneath bound bunches of grass may have been used to repel crawling, biting insects, which cannot easily move through fine powder, the researchers report in the Aug. 14 Science. Wadley’s team also found bits of burned wood in the bedding containing fragments of camphor leaves, an aromatic plant that can be used as a bug repellent.

֎ Do teacher unions know about this?

Artificial intelligence designs lesson plans for itself

Unlike human students, computers don’t seem to get bored or frustrated when a lesson is too easy or too hard. But just like humans, they do better when a lesson plan is “just right” for their level of skill. Coming up with the right curricula isn’t easy, though, so computer scientists wondered: What if they could make machines design their own?

That’s what researchers have done in several new studies, creating artificial intelligence (AI) that can figure out how best to teach itself. The work could speed learning in self-driving cars and household robots, and it might even help crack previously unsolvable math problems.

֎ Check the weather – frequently

$16 billion. That’s how much damage was caused in the U.S. in 2020 by 16 climate-driven disasters, which cost $1 billion each, as of October.

The average yearly number of these disasters, ranging from hurricanes to wildfires to prolonged heat waves, has quadrupled in the last three decades. The planet is now about 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than 100 years ago, near the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Ancient Mariner

 

Homo sapiens has become obsolete

Regular readers are familiar with the skepticism of alter ego Amos. In this new century, one beginning with a multitude of new and unchartered worries for mankind, Amos feels increasing depression as his fellow humans (AKA electorate) fail to grasp the enormity and perhaps the fatalistic nature of the times. The recent attack on the United States Capital was a misguided and virtually irrelevant gesture when global civilization is on the brink of collapse as the environment falters, global resources rapidly disappear, birth rates around the world approach zero growth and mankind’s own manufactured reality is decaying.

Now, there is hard evidence that Homo sapiens is about to be irrelevant and will disappear in short order. The following photograph is taken from the back cover of the January issue of The Economist. The small type says:

“Malicious AI created her picture, yet she has never been seen by a camera. It made her an online profile, yet she has never logged in. Malicious AI built her to attack you.”

The public today is worried about face recognition software. Poo. Who needs your face anymore when AI has a detailed description of your profile, health, driver license, family connections, friends and financial particulars – and can make a face made to order? Even more, a detailed copy of your whole existence sits in data bases that can emulate your probable real life experiences.

Now, AI doesn’t need your face or your body. AI can create a fictitious reality without using real human beings and can interlace you with others on Facebook, Twitter and E-Harmony. If you’re still around in a few years, you may have remarried and not even know it.

Consider the new AI world of business: AI creates a statistical version of a restaurant then populates it with statistical versions of humans. The finances look good on a digitized screen and AI will have to move bitcoins around in the fake economy to balance the database.

The next phase of human evolution will be complete. Living only as digitized energy, our progeny easily will be able to spread throughout the universe.

Ancient Mariner

 

It’s a New World

While the western world has survived the beginning of the twenty-first century more or less intact, getting organized for the rest of the century makes it seem as if the destruction of the Middle East is more descriptive.

Hopefully, Guru envisions a burst of energy, jobs and economy as the whole world responds to climate change, repairing infrastructure and shifting world economies in a way that will stave off international disruption through abuse of the Internet and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the global imbalance between the wealthy and the starving.

These tasks all are international and the wringing of hands and claims of the apocalypse will be part of the experience. It will be like training one’s wayward feet to fit into a new pair of shoes – if not painful at least uncomfortable.

Nations and their resources, unfortunately, do not drive the schedule of recovery. Every issue is at a critical stage such that avoiding catastrophe is the order of the day rather than casually planning new ideas with time to perfect them.

For the sake of brevity, mariner will describe only one issue – the one issue that ignores politics, economies and cultures; it is the most disruptive of the several critical issues: Climate Change.

We should be thankful that the pandemic has given the world practice at dealing with worldwide apolitical issues. Like the pandemic, climate change is no longer an issue of local environmental regulation and politics. It has become a global condition, an instability at the core of an environment that sustains all life. It is difficult to get excited about climate change because it is so slow in the manner by which it changes the environment. Mariner compares it to how sloping shoulders develop over decades of aging, one day at a time, one tiny increment of spine curvature each day. Then suddenly there is back pain and limitations of flexibility. The world already feels the pain of climate change.

Flooding of low lying land around the world already has become a crisis in many parts of the world: 11 million people in Bangladesh have lost two years of crops as the tides invade and stay longer each season; many populated islands around the world will disappear in this century; six large key cities in the United State will be overrun by rising seas – Miami already has in place city-wide pumping stations and drains to accommodate high tides.

Rising seas are caused by a warming atmosphere that melts the polar ice reserve. Being unusually warm, the atmosphere has extra energy for storms and, globally, the jet streams are shifting enough to begin changing agriculture on all the continents.

The following paragraph is a report from Forbes magazine:

“By 2050, sea-level rise will push average annual coastal floods higher than land now home to 300 million people, according to a study published in Nature Communications. High tides could permanently rise above land occupied by over 150 million people, including 30 million in China. Without advanced coastal defense and planning, populations in these areas may face permanent flooding within 30 years.”

The entire report is worth reading and has maps of where US cities will be flooded. See:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimdobson/2019/10/30/shocking-new-maps-show-how-sea-level-rise-will-destroy-coastal-cities-by-2050/

 

Storms get stronger

Data: NOAA. Graphic: Reuters

With climate change, hurricanes overall are moving more slowly, meaning they can linger for longer over land, causing more damage. —Reuters

The temperature, as a daily personal experience, will be much warmer. In the United States the entire sweep of Gulf States will become very hot with frequent temperatures over 100°. Not only will agriculture be forced to relocate, so will the people. This means that hinterland cities will receive large migrations of people and jobs moving north. Retiring to the southern shores will no longer be a pleasant fantasy.

So Climate Change is a serious, immediate issue that will notably change weather, geography, agriculture, population centers and a reordering of governmental functions and responsibilities – and each citizen because the changes will be quite personal.

Mariner agrees that the confrontation is serious, perhaps greater than all the wars in US history. But. It is a new time to unify and tackle a big problem together. The world must succeed. Mariner is reminded of Rosie the riveter. Let’s wind up our sleeves, get beyond petty politics and personal agendas and get on with it.

Ancient Mariner

Tiny Tidbits

֎ When oldtimers use the stairs, keep a hand floating along the bannister in case that trick knee jumps out or a slipper catches the stair. It is important, though, to use the legs to carry ALL the effort of ascending or descending – the more the bannister is used to disburse strain, the sooner the sense of balance is lost due to small leg muscles never having to balance under stress.

֎ The last environmentally balanced human species was Homo erectus who had mastered fire and stone tools. H. erectus, along with other hominins Neanderthal and Dennisovan, lived for two million years until 110 thousand years ago. H. sapiens, a trashier version, has existed only for 110,000 years but is not in balance with the environment.

֎ Mayo Clinic says the best treatment for insomnia is sunlight. Pills, it seems, aren’t very effective unless sleep is induced by nefarious narcotic means. Even on cloudy or cold days, go outside and stay there for a couple of hours. In cold weather, of course, dress accordingly.

֎ Speaking of human origins, the Australian aborigines moved to Australia 80,000 years ago and developed a characteristic of small, family-based tribes rather than assimilating into nations or empires. Today, aborigines are 3.8 percent of the Australian population.

֎ When using cast iron cooking pans or pots, make sure they have been seasoned at some point in a high temperature oven. Ask Alton Brown how to season iron. When washing, do not use soap. Use very hot running water and a putty knife or other stiff, straight blade, finishing with a vegetable brush. It is important to remove all recent oils and fats. When clean to the eye, wipe dry with paper towels or dry rags; sheen still should be visible. This method preserves the seasoning process and reduces sticking.

֎ Wasn’t it exciting to see Jupiter and Saturn in syzygy? Does the reader know that when the largest planets line up it affects Earth’s declination? When Jupiter talks the solar system listens because Jupiter is 14 percent of the planetary mass; add in Saturn and something is bound to happen. Every once in a while (this happened recently) Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus and the Moon get in a line. When this happens, Earth’s declination is changed just a tiny bit. Humans won’t notice the change right away because it is a 96,000 year cycle combined with Earth’s wobble and the relationship of gases in the atmosphere – carbon being the main one. Long story short – Earth is headed for a major ice age in about 5,000 years. Ice ages last for about 150-200,000 years.

Ancient Mariner

On Being a Stick

A stick always has two ends – if it has been broken from its tree. When it is attached to the tree, it is part of a larger presence, something that has evidence of a higher calling as part of nature. It is true that the branch (it is not a stick until it is separated) or even the entire tree may be dying or dead. Still, there is an aura of purpose, a part of the grand scheme for the planet’s biosphere.

Is the human species a stick or a branch? There is much evidence that humans have ceased being a branch; humans do not enhance the growth of the biomass, its natural balances or its evolutionary progression. The only human value to the world’s natural environment is species decomposition as mulch for the planet’s grand scheme, the same as a stick.

Unfortunately, on its path to mulch, the human stick exudes bile and poison and extinction to any environment around it. As Roundup is to vegetation, humans are to the environment.

The mariner, in spirit at least, has evolved into a minimalist. Three cheers to the ten million homestead families in the United States alone who have chosen to escape from the grist mill of human economies and who have returned to living only as the world around them will tolerate. Three cheers for the Amish who have sensed a limit to what nature will tolerate. There is no profit in nature, only balance. Ignored by the human species in pursuit of profit, the planet will tolerate only so much. The human species may end up being mulch, like a stick.

It is proven that humans alone are responsible for the extinction of 16,000 species since 1850. It is the combustion engine and energy production that has led to climate change, with seas rising more rapidly every year and forcing devastating shifts in weather patterns around the world. Human efforts in chemistry have improved war to the extent that a nuclear bomb can eliminate life, human and otherwise, in an entire city in one day.

Finally, artificial intelligence, a human contrivance, likely will eliminate the independent spirit of the human species. As independence fades, mulching grows nearer.

Ancient Mariner

 

Faith is a necessary life tool for everyone

Read these words from this old hymnbook favorite – sing along if you know the melody:

Life is like a mountain railway

With an engineer that’s brave

We must make this run successful

From the cradle to the grave

Watch the curves, the fills, and tunnels

Never falter, never fail

Keep your hand upon the throttle

And your eyes upon the rail

The verse asks for a commitment to an ideal, a belief that the run must be successful. A belief in what? It could be any religion’s doctrine; it could be any political vision; it could be a personal life or a person’s sustained commitment against fatal disease.

The point is that all thoughts and behavior of any merit require belief in a valued objective. The only instruction in the verse is completing the run and keeping one’s hand upon the throttle. Could this verse be applicable to Blackbeard the pirate’s belief in his role on the high seas? (Yes, mixed metaphor)

What is missing today is context. At the beginning of the verse, what does ‘Life’ imply? As an ethical compass, what is the world supposed to believe in – not just the United States but the entire world? The confrontation is universal: what is a gibbon to trust in a disappearing habitat; what is a fish living on a dying coral reef to accept as normal; what is the dictator of Kazakhstan to believe about his uncertain future; what about the broken and abused family in Nicaragua; what about the preacher in Kansas or the steel worker in Detroit; what about the billionaire CEO. With our hand on the throttle, where is the rail taking us?

More than at any time since nations have existed, we live in a time of social disruption and turmoil. The job of Homo sapiens is to decide where the rail will take us. Holding on to broken, outdated, even useless railways doesn’t help. The job of everyone around the world today is to build a new destination for our railway.

The hymn cited at the beginning was written in 1890 by gospel songwriter Charles Davis Tillman. He styled it for the repertoire of white southerners, whose music was derived from Gospel. Further verses reference the Bible as a source of context. Life in 1890 was from another time, another reality. Where is Life headed today?

[For several renditions of the hymn see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDrFJ7k9jOA ]

Ancient Mariner

Humans face Many Problems

In 2015 mariner wrote a post that attempted to distract readers from the campaigns of the last Presidential election. He focused on several natural phenomena that make human problems small and irrelevant. One topic was that the North and South poles switch places every so often. He wrote:

Every 200,000 years or so, the magnetosphere switches poles, that is, the North Pole becomes the South Pole and vice versa. Presently, we are experiencing the very early phases of a polar switch. Scientists have determined that the strength of the magnetosphere has dropped 15% since 1840. There is nothing cataclysmic about the switch. The North and South magnetic waves push through each other around the globe. For example, today the South Atlantic and the Bering Sea have very weak magnetic spots such that a compass can be seen to vacillate as North and South magnetic waves move back and forth. “It may take another 2,000 years,” said physicist Phil Scherrer of Stanford University.

The real danger in a magnetosphere shift is twofold: First, the magnetic waves shield us from strong radiation from the Sun that is capable of causing cancer and other radiation ills; the Earth’s magnetosphere is weakened considerably during a shift and the Sun’s radiation can reach the surface of the Earth. At some point, all satellite communications will be interrupted.

Second, every creature that depends on a compass to get around will experience a topsy-turvy effect that turns everything backwards. Many creatures may be disoriented: Monarch butterflies, geese, whales – anything that migrates great distances without mapping terrain.

– – – –

Mariner’s question today in 2020 is, “Will humans suffer topsy-turvy effects because all the maps and street signs will be backwards? What about life without GPS? Will self-driving cars just wander aimlessly? Will Google Earth even know?”

Ancient Mariner

On Aging

When mariner was very young, he remembers lots of men had a perpetual toothpick in their mouths. No point to be made; just that he remembers – isn’t that enough for an old man?

This post may read like self pity but it is just another pondering from his file on this planet’s biomass. Mariner is provoked, however, to write this post in behalf of his elder friends who sustain their lives in spite of greater challenges than youngsters and society may notice.

But before we start on aging, in a related socio-psychological subject it has been proven economically and socially that breaking down the extended family to a nuclear family has not been a good thing. For the Matrix-sensitive folks, do you think the new isolationist teaching method in schools combined with cloud control of our lives is preparing our species to live in coffins?

– – – –

Back to aging and speaking as an ancient member of Homo sapiens, a branch of the hominid family, mariner is taking science to task – especially the study of anatomy and medicine. Scientists laud their achievements in extending the human life span more than twenty years beyond the norm for hominids. What the scientists forgot was to include normal functionality along with the additional years.

For example: sex. If the reader thinks Jeff Bezos is rich, think how rich the scientist would be who discovered a way for guys over 60 to continue having an active sex life. And dementia – what good is living if a person doesn’t know they’re living? And Parkinson’s, heart disease, arthritis and palsy. How about incontinence and disappearing bone mass? Making hominids live longer without simultaneously extending functionality doesn’t improve anything except more opportunity to be depressed, in pain, isolated and ill.

Old folks’ skin looks like lizard skin because muscles and their inherent potential energy simply are vanishing. Case in point: can mariner still play football? Not.

Anthropologists suggest that evolution cares only about procreation, i.e. sustaining the species. While scientists were extending lifespan, why not extend fecundity? It boils down to this: living longer may avoid facing the end of life for a while but for a majority of folks it is a life of depression, pain, dysfunction, despair and medical bankruptcy. The best to be had simply may be a feeling of irrelevance.

Some youngsters may think old people are useless and in the way – especially when it comes to government support. But the elders are monuments to strength and perseverance despite the meddling of medical science. Let’s see what trouble will be stirred by tinkering with the genome.

Ancient Mariner

The Frontal Lobe versus Planet Earth

The frontal lobe is responsible for abstract thinking. It is the youngest and largest region of the human brain located just behind the forehead. While the rest of the brain abides by the normal mammalian genome adapted to Earth’s biosphere, the frontal lobe of a human brain is not bound by such mundane relationships.

In an exercise to pass time while sheltered, mariner developed an analog which eliminated conflict between humans and the biosphere by stepping backward in history until the conflict had yet to occur. An example everyone is aware of is the fossil fuel conflict. By tracking backwards to the point where the cause (a frontal lobe invention) did not exist, one can deduce the lifestyle, politics and what at that point would be compatible with the biosphere.

Herewith is a summation of the results:

SOCIETY

  • THERE IS NO FREE WILL. HUMAN BEHAVIOR AND INTELLECT ARE TIGHTLY BOUND TO A GENOME THAT EVOLUTION TOOK 70 MILLION YEARS TO CREATE. IN THIS RESPECT, HUMANS ARE NO DIFFERENT THAN OPOSSUMS AND KING COBRAS.
  • THERE IS ONLY 2% DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE GENOME OF A CHIMPANZEE AND THAT OF A HUMAN. THE DIFFERENCE IS THE FRONTAL LOBE.
  • ONE IN TEN HUMANS CAN THINK IN THE ABSTRACT. THE REST ARE SMART SIMIANS, ALSO KNOWN AS THE ELECTORATE.

HOMO SAPIENS

  • AS AN EVOLUTIONARY PHENOMENON, THE HUMAN BRAIN IS AN UNSTABLE ABERRATION. LIKE THE DINOSAURS, WHICH EVENTUALLY BECAME EXTINCT BECAUSE THEY WERE IN CONFLICT WITH THE BIOSPHERE, HUMANS HAVE AN END DATE FOR EXISTENCE.[1]

ECONOMY

  • CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM ARE SOPHISTICATED ARGUMENTS FOR GREED.
  • COMMUNISM, SANS ALL THE AUTHORITARIAN INFLUENCES, IS THE NATURAL ECONOMY FOR THE HUMAN SPECIES. TODAY’S EXAMPLE IS OFF-THE-GRID HOMESTEADING – A NATURALLY COMPLIANT BEHAVIOR WITH THE BIOSPHERE. NOTE THAT THIS LIFESTYLE MATCHES THE REST OF THE SIMIAN GENOME WITHOUT THE IRRITATING INVENTIONS COMING FROM THE FRONTAL LOBE.

SCIENCE

  • CREATES INTELLECTUALISM AT THE COST OF DISRUPTING THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT, E,G., LIFE SPAN OF A HUMAN BEING. RELEVANT HUMAN HISTORY IS SUPPOSED ONLY TO BE ABOUT 60 YEARS OR THREE GENERATIONS.

TECHNOLOGY

  • THE CENTER OF GROWTH FOR GREED-BASED ECONOMIES.

Well, there it is. Humans get in trouble when they let the frontal lobe do its thing without respecting the rest of the simian brain and its agreeable relationship with Planet Earth.

So much for shelter-in-place.

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] The asteroid just hastened the end of a declining existence for the dinosaurs; Covid-19 tried hard to bring an end to humans but came up a little short. Humans will have to end it on their own.

Evolutionary Change

For those readers who have an interest in the evolution of species on a grand, Earth-time scale, they may have learned that significant changes in the basic form of living things occurs in a relatively short amount of time. A couple of examples: The most significant ice age in Earth’s history lasted from 720-635 million years ago. The ice age caused a complete extinction of single celled flora that thrived on microscopic fungi and dissolved chemicals. As the ice age receded, a new form of life rapidly emerged: diversified plankton, similar boneless creatures and importantly, primitive sponges – the first evidence of the animal kingdom.

Another more popular example is the end of the Paleogene Extinction 66 million years ago when dinosaurs disappeared and the age of mammals literally exploded into the many branches of diversification that are familiar today.

Mariner apologizes for the lesson in paleontology but it sets a clear model for the absolute dissolution of social history as humans have known it since the Roman Empire and now, in the early decades of the twenty-first century a sudden, brand new, seemingly unevolved society – the age of artificial intelligence – is emerging. Thanks to Covid-19, one generation of humans can experience the rapid extinction of the industrial/technical age virtually overnight, leaving a new form of society ready to explode into the future.

The whole premise for future society is different. For example, capitalism is too slow for future society; capitalism has been the core economic philosophy all the way back to ancient times; it’s a horse-and-buggy single flow movement of resources. Cash flows only in one direction and ends up wasted in the coffers of the super-rich. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will redistribute static assets in a flash.

The tight, dark age relationship between work and wage will be separated so that work is an act of participation in society and wage is more related to sustaining an optimized GDP. This allows AI to utilize income as a fluid resource throughout the economy rather than the very slow, piecemeal process of distributing wages to each person one-on-one – another horse-and-buggy process.

The stock market already has acquiesced to the presence of AI. Twenty-nine percent of all transactions are decided by self-learning computer algorithms without human intervention – doubling since 2013.

Although at the moment many social behaviors are in turbulence as the dynamics of change already are shaking things around, new forms will emerge relatively quickly. For example, the bipolar political situation around the world is a sign of pushing out the old and reforming differently. In the US, it is quite plain that the republican concept of capitalism isn’t working well and is on the verge of losing dominance. New economic concepts will be a combination of capitalism, socialism, communism and AI’s philosophy, pragmatism – whatever works best in a market situation is what will set the –ism.

At the personal level and involving emotional comfort, secure identity, sufficient privacy, and the right to human judgment versus AI, things will be sticky. Human feelings and behaviors, bound by genome, don’t fit as smoothly to the bit and byte world of AI as economic policy does. There will be a struggle between the public and the never ending encroachment of AI psychology, Pavlovian control (witness how humans have adapted to smartphones and Alexi) and environmental manipulation, e.g., who can live where and in what kind of housing.

Add to personal uneasiness the issue of race. By 2045 caucasians will be a mathematical minority of US population. This will affect long standing social taboos and class definitions. Worldwide, mariner has mentioned in a previous post that Indians and Chinese will constitute one in every three humans.

And finally, the center of civilization will leave Europe, the Balkans, the Mediterranean and the Middle East and settle on the boundaries of the Pacific Ocean and the Southern Hemisphere.

Don’t bother packing bags, AI will do that.

Ancient Mariner