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

 

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

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.

The Vagaries of Dying

Mother Earth (AKA God, Yahweh, etc.) has arranged that all life forms procreate then die. It could not be otherwise because the planet would be quite crowded, resources would be unstable and there would be no room. So, all humans will die. Dying is painful, inopportune, and generally unpleasant. But dead is different. Being dead is like a long, deep nap in the afternoon. Time passes by unnoticed; there are no challenges, fears or inadequacies; no achievement is required. Just rest – even rest passes by unnoticed.

There are many kinds of death, each unique to its existence. For example automobiles die; there are graveyards for automobiles. Buildings die by decaying. On the other hand, buildings can be razed, too. Even Pando, the oldest living tree in the world at 80,000 years plus, will die perhaps by the hand of Mother Nature herself.

Species also die but not necessarily in the same time frame. Consider the opossum: Its origins date to the end of the dinosaurs but the lifestyle of each opossum is the same today as it was 65.5 million years ago. On the other hand, humans have ended the existence of 83% of all mammals and half of plants since the dawn of civilization. And to the point: humans, given their frailties, are willing to end their own species as well. Did Mother Nature make a mistake in the blueprints or is it humans who are supposed to enforce change by erasing estuaries, unbalancing rain forests, wiping out critical biomes or setting up an end to the mammalian age – even at the cost of their own demise?

Unlike the opossum, humans will not let stability remain. Human society changes as often as the weather. If society doesn’t change fast enough, humans invoke wars; if status quo even pauses for a moment, human science and technology trashes it for something new. Alas, society the world around is in the midst of social wars and societal collapse brought about by technical advancement. Not just one advancement but by 400 years of advancement bumping into the next one and the next one until change has become constant for 200 years.

For humans, change and conflict are two sides of the same coin. The old social standard must die – usually along generational timelines – except for the rare exception, e.g., the conservative Amish. Nothing is allowed permanency: slavery, economics, Frank Sinatra replaced by Elvis, replaced by Beetles, replaced by Wu-tang Clan, replaced by Nosebleed. Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite replaced by FOX, MSNBC and CNN.

The New Deal followed by Reaganism followed by corporatism, and on and on. Cultural life, anguish and death are continuous.

Mariner grows tired of it all. Even the prophet Amos went home at the end. The slashing and killing of a democratic society is not pleasant to witness or to live through. It isn’t just Donald, the TV version. It is plutocracy, authoritarianism, artificial intelligence, retail communism, and international solvency all at once. No citizen knows what the world will look like in the age of generation Z. Then there’s global warming. Even Mother Nature is pitching in.

It’s time for a nap.

Ancient Mariner

 

REPRINT!!

Danger Ahead

If there is any strength the US has to stand up against a hostile world, it is the US Intelligence Service. Coupled with the best funded military in the world, other nations think twice about taking on the US mano-a-mano.

In this most serious sector of US policy, Donald is showing his disregard for US security in favor of money schemes and showing his incompetence as a Commander-in-Chief.

This is beyond political rhetoric, beyond the politics of ‘the base’, beyond the dysfunctional condition of Congress. Donald is, in a seriously inept way, playing with the security of the US – a monkey with keys to the vault. He has no regard for anything that does not add wealth to his pocket. Under his leadership, the subtleties of international relationships are irrelevant.

Unfortunately, there is no Congress to take him to task. The electorate must suffer through an ever increasing dismantle of the US image and its authority. The electorate must endure to the election. The nation is at risk in a way that has not existed since the Second World War.

Ignore the ‘base’; ignore the do-nothing-Congress; ignore the true conflict surrounding the loss of jobs under Reaganism – the security of the US is at stake.

Ancient Mariner

Did you know?

Day to day, we forget that if the billions of years of life on Earth were scaled to a twenty-four hour day, our settled civilizations began about a fifth of a second ago. [Falter, McKibben]

This implies that the existence of humanity, regardless of many years of human life ahead, is but a microscopic blip in the history of the Planet. The dinosaurs (during the Mesozoic Era inclusive of the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods) existed for over 170 million years. So far, the Homo clan has existed for 2.2 million years; modern humans, the troublesome sapiens kind, have existed only for 200,000 years.

There is scientific debate about the cause of extinction for dinosaurs. One or the other or both a large asteroid and/or excessive volcanic activity blocked the sunlight and caused atmospheric gases that made life impossible for dinosaurs – although virtually every other creature made it through this catastrophe in one way or another. The survival of other species suggests that the end of the Cretaceous Period was a slower change in the environment. Some scientists think while both catastrophes may have contributed to the extinction, they suggest the real cause was a more gradual shift in climate and changing sea levels.

Does that sound familiar? Humans are not blessed with asteroids but from time to time, large volcanoes have disrupted daily life around the planet. Just to be sure, though, humans have fossil fuels to create a warming climate and changing sea levels.

Another study suggests that the dinosaurs were overpopulated and suffering from disease and malnutrition during the end of the Cretacious. Humans have that covered, too, with excessive global population and intentional starvation across much of the Planet.

Mother Nature is not deterred from her strict laws for survival. Mother Nature is the spirit of the Planet – not of any life form per se. As to troublemaking humans, she says, “Capitalism, shmapitalism; profit, shmofit; AI, shmai – humans have never been in charge and never will be.”

Humans snub their noses and say they will leave Earth and live elsewhere in the cosmos. Where? On another planet?

Ancient Mariner

 

Stuff of Dreams

Be forewarned, mariner is taking a dive into nerdism. A few nights ago mariner had one of those nights where one tosses and turns while the brain works feverishly on some very important issue (to the brain) that seemingly cannot be resolved so the brain keeps returning to the issue seeking resolution.

The brain was trying to define something about how time moves faster or maybe how change occurs rapidly. To make a long night short, the brain was wrestling with Bayes’ theorem, which generally is the kind of probability math that explains the probability of change in genetics among many similar probabilities, even betting on the Chicago Bears.

The conflicting equation, not an official mathematical equation, is Moore’s Law about how increasingly rapid engineers will stuff more transistors into a given space; just Moore’s opinion that has proven true for the last decade or two.

Mariner is not the nerd one might think knowing about these equations. Mariner read Nate Silver’s book about gambling probabilities which contained an entire chapter on Bayes’ theorem. Nate’s book has been a best seller for years. As for Moore’s Law, mariner spent many years as a consultant working on expanded databases – which requires smaller and smaller transistors per square inch.

Back to the brain’s preoccupation. Why? It took a day or two to realize that mariner had read an interesting article on LiveScience.com about the fact that the Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way Galaxy will come together sooner than later. Of course, don’t hold your breath for a few billion years but apparently the brain was concerned about the effects of two galaxies crashing into one another. As anyone knows who has had these odd, nightlong dreams, don’t try to make sense of the assumptions.

Now to rinse away the nerdiness. Everyone who has had the opportunity to know is aware that the starting point for humans as we know them was about 90,000 years ago. Suddenly, major change occurred about 20,000 years ago as humans developed rudimentary economies; 12,000 years ago, humans developed religion; 6,000 years ago, humans developed sustainable nations; 300 years ago, electricity was harnessed; 200 years ago, the combustible engine was invented; 130 years ago, the automobile replaced the horse; Less than fifty years ago, computers took control of data; just yesterday, smartphones took over the human brain. Should readers be as concerned about the acceleration of change as mariner’s brain was?

As to Bayes’ theorem, hasn’t everyone thrown a rock into a pond and watched the ripples move out and away from the point where the stone entered the water? Bayes simply said, “What are the odds that the ripple will reach 20 feet within 5 seconds? Will Andromeda coalesce within 4 billion years? What are the odds?

– – – –

Incidentally, Mariner will be traveling for a couple of weeks (Does the reader feel he needs it?). Perhaps a post will be available but no promises.

Ancient Mariner

The mice warned us

The early pioneers in psychology, the standard list around the western world is Pavlov, Skinner, Jung, Maslow, Erickson, Rogers, Freud, and Piaget, focused on an individual’s response to reality. These folks helped us understand the physiology of the human brain and mind; they provided insight into the human response to love, fear, success, failure and a myriad other emotional behaviors. It wasn’t until the Second World War and after that psychology partnered with sociology and history to investigate group behavior. Similarly, management theory and economics incorporated psychology and sociology to uncover new approaches to management; one thinks of Deming, Drucker, Chandler and Aldrich among others.

An interesting observation is that the study of group behavior began about a decade before differences in individual behavior versus group behavior began to be documented in contemporary terms. Two world famous experiments were conducted that have become common knowledge. The first was one of a series of studies of mice by John B. Calhoun in 1972; the second was a college experiment performed at Stanford University in 1971 covered in the next post.

CALHOUN’S MICE

The mouse study was performed to answer the question, ‘what happens when overcrowding occurs?’ (The human brain is optimized for a social group of about 150-200 people). Calhoun was careful to eliminate the lack of resources as an influence and fed his mice with an endless supply of food, water and nutrition. Calhoun provided a mouse utopia with apartments and different levels called Universe 25; the initial number of mice was 8. The landings of the pilgrims and the first migration to the Middle East from the Rift Valley in Africa come to mind.

Brackets [] in the quoted material below are added by mariner.

At the peak population [2,200 by day 560], most mice spent every living second in the company of hundreds of other mice. They gathered in the main squares, waiting to be fed and occasionally attacking each other. [Nations live this way now on every continent except Australia and Antarctica] Few females carried pregnancies to term, and the ones that did seemed to simply forget about their babies. They’d move half their litter away from danger and forget the rest. [Forced migration] Sometimes they’d drop and abandon a baby while they were carrying it. [Closely approximates behavior in estranged communities and certain starving populations in Africa; mice had no chemical alternatives or voluntary abortions]

The few secluded spaces [owned territories] housed a population Calhoun called, “the beautiful ones.” [wealthy class] Generally guarded by one male, the females—and few males—inside the space didn’t breed or fight or do anything but eat and groom and sleep. When the population started declining the beautiful ones were spared from violence and death, but had completely lost touch with social behaviors, including having sex or caring for their young.” [Comparatively, humans in their teens and twenties today have significantly less sex than their elders at the same age] [Add to that the lessening need to socialize with other humans directly because of the smartphone, TV and other electronics]

A notable side effect as the population approached its maximum was that mice that still had a bit of territory chased other male mice into specific corners at the opposite end of the cage. Mariner wonders whether suppressed groups in Africa and other nonproductive locations are simply ignored because there is no forced limit of territory at this time. Oh to live in Silicon Valley….

Now, in 2015, interpretations of Calhoun’s work have changed. Esther Inglis-Arkell (UCSF) explains that the habitats he created weren’t really overcrowded, but that aggressive mice enforced territorial prerogative to keep the beautiful ones isolated. She writes, “Instead of a population problem, one could argue that Universe 25 had a fair distribution problem.

“In 1972, with the baby boomers coming of age in an ever-more-crowded world and reports of riots in the cities, Universe 25 looked like a Malthusian nightmare. It [collapse of society] even acquired its own catchy name, “The Behavioral Sink.” If starvation didn’t kill everyone, people would destroy themselves. The best option was to flee to the country or the suburbs, where people had space and life was peaceful and natural.

“The fact remains that it [Universe 25] had a problem, and one that eventually led to its destruction. If this behavior is shared by both mice and humans, can we escape Universe 25’s fate?” [Inglis-Arkell]

Mariner leaves the door open for readers to have further speculation about group behavior in unbalanced societies.

Next post, the effect of power.

Ancient Mariner

Another Episode of Brain v Gorilla

When mariner moved to his current residence in a small Iowa town, he noticed that many families had leaf blowers. It is also true that town families have affection for any kind of two cycle engine some of which are cultivators, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, chain saws, air compressors, lawn trimmers, car washers, paint sprayers and generators. In recent years some two cycle engines have been replaced by battery-driven power using Lithium. All these devices save (avoid) physical labor.

When he was younger mariner remembers old timers saying, “Back in the day we had to cut grass with push mowers” or “When I was seven, I had to rake leaves with a rake and burn them” and of course the classic, “When I went to school, it was uphill both ways.” Many more examples of saving labor can be conjured. Technology has changed the level of labor-saving opportunities: “Back in my day we had to forge and shape our pistols on an anvil.” Today, of course, just turn on your 3D printer and one will be made for you.

Mariner observes this tendency to avoid labor as a universal characteristic of all living things. The squirrel in mariner’s back yard raids the bird feeder rather than hunt for food; monkeys in Bangladesh raid street market fruit stands with the precision of a navy seal team rather than hunt for food in the surrounding trees; chipmunks greatly prefer a life of pilfering to a legitimate relationship with nature; Raccoons prefer the corncrib to rummaging in the forest.

In response, most folks would say, “And?” Being retired and of an idle mind, mariner has time to speculate on this important dichotomy in evolution. Imagine that evolution did not have a fluid-like motion of change and a cause and effect adaptation over eons of time. Imagine that evolution was a result only of serendipity and otherwise was a defined marching order set forth by a permanent genome. Mariner dares to say evolution would fail and species would disappear even faster than humans have succeeded in expiring them.

Humans in particular are quite adaptive to their own circumstances. Humans even have created their own environmental reality far beyond the influence of two-cycle engines – to the chagrin of Mother Earth, also subject to planetary evolution. It is evident that the conflict between Brain and Gorilla grows more intense. (If the reader must be prompted, Brain is the grey matter in our skulls that has an extraordinary imagination unbound by anatomical ethics; Gorilla represents our physiologic constraints as a primate on evolution’s tree. Brain has no difficulty, in fact, enjoys manipulating anything and everything it can from atoms to global atmospheres. Gorilla is bound to follow the current constraints of its body and an environment favorable to that body.)

Too slow to notice, there is a cause and effect phenomenon created by our supple brains. The simplest example mariner can think of at the moment is the ability of the brain to control fire. Before Brain, fire was a cleansing function, born of the Solar System itself that reenergized an environment. The recent fires in California demonstrate how violent and indifferent fire cleansing can be. But Brain turned fire into an every day experience used to keep warm, cook, and incorporate into chemical processes (oil, explosives, herbicides, nuclear bombs and most important, electricity) that are to the advantage of human ingenuity. These new processes go far beyond any physiological requirements held by Gorilla – and often are in conflict with those physiological requirements.

Those who are concerned about the state of Gorilla, e.g., physicians, physical therapists and the like, lament an invention by Brain: the chair. Gorilla has a skeleton and musculature that is ruined by sitting in a chair. For the vast majority of us, sitting in a chair is the dominant activity of the day. Sitting in a chair leads to general back pain, stooped posture, bulbous abdomen, accelerates atrophy of leg muscles and arthritis. Compression of the viscera along with fat caused by sitting all the time interferes with kidney function, digestion and oxygenation. Functionally, the chair deters Gorilla from performing the exercise needed to remain fit.

Mariner offers the chair conflict as a simple metaphor for all the divergent issues between Brain and Gorilla. The most important effect of these conflicts lies in the unnoticed process of evolution. In recent centuries, as conflicts increase both in number and impact, Brain has begun to have visibly negative effects on Gorilla. Further, Gorilla’s environment has serious problems. Gorilla and its fellow creatures are not doing well and constitute a modern major extinction of species.

It is the inventiveness of Brain that forces scientists to rename the present Holocene Epoch as the Anthropocene Epoch because Brain has such an impact on Earth’s environment.[1] Evolutionary activity typically follows a significant change in environment. Briefly, the primary demise of dinosaurs and the beginning of mammals and birds was caused by destruction of the Earth’s environment by a meteorite. While Gorilla hasn’t changed much in a million years and its needs have been met by the environment, Brain has separated its environmental needs from the traditional habitat of Gorilla.

Brain requires above all else a controlled, electrically-based environment. To emphasize this transition, the next era of Brain (AKA human) progress will be artificial intelligence (AI). AI will enable Brain to replicate human behavior in robots and androids, including perception through the five human senses (Gorilla senses?). Relative to all the immense changes of the next age, how long will it take for Brain to cohabitate with its new friends and not need Gorilla or Gorilla’s habitat?

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] An excellent and easy to read reference about Brain’s impact on Earth’s history can be found at https://www.livescience.com/28219-holocene-epoch.html