Category Archives: Living

Cyborgs are coming to take your job, especially if you’re young.

The prospect of your job being automated is increasing.  The convergence of neuroscience, computing, biology and engineering has already made robotic prosthetics a reality and everyone carries a small thinking machine so that they can remember phone numbers, birthdays etc (media device/phone).monkeytorobot

We are certainly choosing a future in which we don’t work.  We haven’t addressed the consequences in a thoughtful way evidenced by the unchanged platitudes by politicians, ongoing agglomeration of industry and commerce (get big to survive) with its attendant pyramid of wages (little at the bottom, inconceivable wealth at the top) and public education systems still modelled on the factory.

Continue reading Cyborgs are coming to take your job, especially if you’re young.

What happens when you destabilise a suboptimal system? It implodes.

The death of John and Alicia Nash on 23 May brought attention to game theory and the Nash Equilibrium, which offer insights into resolving the problems of today’s world.

As The Economist succinctly says: “In the real world of less-than-perfect competition, a “Nash equilibrium” may well be stable, but not optimal.”   Game theory shows that competition yields a sub-optimal stability, which can only be enhanced by cooperation.

Today we live in a world where resource constraints are not just widening the chasm between “haves” and “have-nots” but are destroying the fabric of nature upon which all life depends.  Human consumption is reducing access to clean water, land and air, is eliminating species and people increasingly rely upon junk (food, fashion and stuff) to prop up our confidence.

The way to reverse the destruction of the biosphere is to reduce consumption which can only be achieved with a cooperative approach to resource allocation.  At the root of this cooperation must be the sharing of technology which allows efficient production and allocation of food, clothing, housing, energy.

A cooperative approach is not a bureaucratic approach, it is not mechanical and it can not be maintained with laws.  Cooperation is founded on a culture of empathy which engenders trust which reduces enterprise overheads.  The root of a the solution to resource constraints is in cultural maturity.

John Nash showed this scientifically half a century ago.  Many others have shared the same wisdom over the centuries, but have been drowned out by the confidence of political and economic ego.

TOGITV: Stag hunting – thoughts on John Nash and social cooperation

The Mereon Legacy: A Mereonic perspective on John Nash: Cooperation vs. Competition

Wikipedia: Nash Equilibrium

 

Three things parents must teach children: money, food, autos

The following piece by Leah Holstein on Funderstanding is a simple, fun admonition with some helpful links.  Enjoy the read or just note the message:

Teach children about finances, cooking and cars because they are essential skills for life which are not taught at school

Continue reading Three things parents must teach children: money, food, autos

The trouble with being rich is … family!

Of course, there’s really  no trouble with being rich, but … family is where issues arise because that’s what’s usually neglected.

If you made it you probably had to work hard which took you away from your family.  Whether you made or received it, you probably have responsibilities which you feel take you away from family.  Either way you might give your family the things they want because you want the best for them or just because they expect it.  So they live in a big house, ride in a fine car, jet off to hols and have the latest gear.  The trouble arises because what people need is you.

You might give your family the best schooling, clothing, holidays etc but you probably just don’t spend quality time together.  The “stuff” without the “touchy feely” invariably nurtures weak consciousness and a moral compass that spins easily.  The values that cement civilisation, like honesty underpinning trust and empathy underpinning care,  are weak so while everyone looks marvellous their happiness is compromised.  And probably yours too.

It is ironic that it is family that suffers most because relationships make human experience rich and wonderful.

familyownershipmanagementThe solution is simple, though difficult because it requires a change in perspective.  The solution is to give more time to family.  That is difficult because, as the entrepreneur or founder or guardian of the wealth,  you are busy and feel the need to work and fulfil responsibilities.   But if you spend time with family, playing as well as working, you help nurture a positive culture in which the sense of entitlement is replaced by one of duty and responsibility, greed is replaced by empathy and anger replaced with humour.

You don’t even have to be that rich for these issues to be pertinent.  Anyone with any prospect of succession will face family issues.  The best way to minimise problems is to admit they could be happening and try to separate ownership of assets from management of assets from family relationships.

BBC: The trouble with being a billionaire

Exercise body and mind to keep them fit; or lose you wits and fade away.

exerciseoldman-thinkstockphotosIn case you still find it a challenge to get off the couch or do mental arithmetic (when shopping for example) this week more evidence was published  showing the dramatic difference between people engaged in life and those waiting to die.

A study showing that elderly people who exercise ‘live five years longer’ was published the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

While earlier in the week, a BBC journalist reported being trounced by a brain-training octogenarian!

brain-lit-up-While at first you might think that walking and thinking are bygone arts of a pre-modern age when we didn’t have cars, phones, computers and media devices, in fact they are core to your happiness and well-being.

Exercising makes you feel good.  It’s a fact.  Endorphins stimulate the happy parts of your brain.  And you don’t need to be a champ, you just need to move, everyday.  Simply standing is nearly twice as good as sitting.  The study publicised today recommends only 3 hours of exercise a week.  C’mon everyone can do that!

And as for thinking, well isn’t it sad that we’d rather slide a finger across a screen than do the thinking that the human brain was built for?  That we can’t add up a few groceries in a bag or even guesstimate the change we expect from a purchase?  No wonder we’re defrauded by bankers, politicians and big business when we can’t be bothered to read a label.  Thinking can be fun too, because, here again, an active mind releases its own happy chemicals.

Vitruvian_MansmallIf the positive encouragement is not sufficient, ask yourself if you want the machines to take over.  It’s happening.  The futuristic scenario of The Terminator is becoming reality as artificial intelligence and android engineering advances.  We already have self driving cars and robochefs.  It won’t be long before rich people can get rid of the rest of us because all production will be automated.  And then the machines might decide to get rid of humankind, after all we’re not looking after the biosphere.

So, getup, think and choose to live.

BBC:  People who exercise ‘live five years longer

BBC: Ttounced by a brain-training octogenarian

The Economist: Robochef gets cooking

BBC: Google purpose-built robot cars tested on public roads

Good people are dying. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

screenshot-baltimore-riot-001-04272015Tension is rising is the USA.   Two US police officers were shot dead in Mississippi.  Last week.a New York police officer  was shot in the head while questioning a suspect from his police car.  And riots bubbled in Baltimore after a suspect died in police custody.  The mood is confused and angry.

The issue is justice.  Minorities in America (non-whites, females, etc) have been depreciated by law and culture for too long.  The solutions of education, jobs, and infrastructure have been neglected in favour of guns and incarceration.

System change is afoot.  We can choose a soft landing by opening up opportunities, sharing resources, and the “rich giving to the poor”.  Even if we do, cynicism and history means people will be sceptical of change for a while.  But the longer we continue using command and control approaches the worse it will get.

medrefugeesIn Europe, refugees are dying by hundreds as they try to escape feudal regimes, bereft of opportunity.  Many are people like us – farmers, teachers, postal workers, shop keepers, even doctors and engineers.  We can do more to stop them drowning, though, the real solution is again to promote education, infrastructure and jobs while reducing access to guns.

As long as we continue to turn a blind eye to unethical behaviour in the middle east, even to the extent of investing in weapons, the violence will continue.  As long as we allow capital and corporal punishment in our own judicial systems the global moral compass will continue to spin.

nepal-quakeWe can’t stop earthquakes, like the recent one in Nepal.  But we spent fewer, even no, resources on weapons, there would be more for education, infrastructure and jobs and emergency supplies for inevitable tragedies which will become more invasive as climate change and biodiversity loss impacts food supplies and our habitat.

Sadly, the push back against ignorance, immorality and injustice is going to get worse.  The sooner global cultural enlightenment can emerge the sooner humankind’s destruction of our own living systems will be reversed.

On a happier note, dancing helps as Dimitri Reeves showed …. so let’s show a bit of love.dimitrireevesdancing

BBC: Baltimore riots: ‘Without change more cities will burn’

BBC: Nepal Earthquake

www.DimitriReeves.com

CO2 levels exceed safe limit globally. Another sign we’ve broken the biosphere.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) reported that global carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations have reached 400 parts per million – levels that haven’t been seen for about two million years!

world02Isn’t it wonderful that a little monkey can upset nature so violently?!  We wield such power!

CO2 has risen more than 120 parts per million since pre-industrial times and half of that rise has occurred since 1980.  That’s a spike that isn’t going to slow down unless we CHANGE BEHAVIOUR.

In case you’re wondering, that means fewer people, consuming less.  Reversing the population explosion isn’t going to happen tomorrow, but everyone can cut their consumption by eating less meat (livestock farming is the #1 cause of climate change), travelling less (for work or pleasure), lowering the amount of chems we use on our selves (cosmetics) and our homes (laundry, detergents etc).

On the other hand we can love nature more, enjoy the company of friends,  and feel better about our world, … while we still have it.

BBC: CO2 levels reach monthly record

 

UK Election Exposes Shocking Social Chasm

It happens that as the UK goes to the polls today many marginal constituencies are based in rural areas and expose an unexpected economic vacuum throughout the economy.

The numbers are striking.  Very wealthy people live next to swathes of people surviving on charity who would rather work but jobs are scarce and low paid.

The Cotswolds charm tens of millions of tourists each year. It is a place that provides a rural sanctuary for billionaires.   ….  but it is the hub for many more who are in such a financial crisis that they are unable to feed themselves.

Maybe the issue is not about red or blue, labour or conservative, but about a system change in which it is recognised that the city is dead without its hinterland, that people need work however much automation is available and that the gulf between rich and poor is not about equality but about fairness, justice, equity.   Human beings need sustenance and love.

BBC:  Election 2015: What’s important for rural voters?

Don’t watch “Earthlings”. You can’t handle it.

Three stages of TRUTH:
Ridicule.
Violent opposition.
Acceptance.

Earthlings is a docudrama drawing attention to vile, uncivilised behaviour in which we all play a role.  It focuses on the torture of animals which modern society condones and from which we distance ourselves, covering five aspects: pets, food, clothing, entertainment, science.

earthlings4Be warned.  It is graphic.  You might have a pet which you rescued, you might eat only organic produce, you might avoid leather and fur, you might not go to the races and you might not wear make-up, but the atrocities shown in the film still go on today, in your community and are endorsed by governments, leaders and “everyone”.

The point is: Just say NO.  Humanity can not survive if it does not extend the rationale of justice to nature.  That means treating animals with care, even if you are going to eat them, though plainly that in itself is far from necessary.  In fact, a simple fix for climate change is veganism/vegetarianism because the livestock industry in the number one cause of greenhouse gases and a major contributor to biodiversity loss and environmental contamination. (See “The Facts” about sustainability, the environment and your future.)earthlings9

I watched the movie last night (mostly with my eyes closed) because Ellen said “Food Inc is “Disney compared to Earthlings”.  She wasn’t kidding.

I used to make fun of vegetarians and tofu.  One day I realised I didn’t like killing animals.  (Duh!)  So I stopped killing them and became vegetarian.  That was nearly two decades ago.  I’m still alive, a little overweight in fact.  And now it is science that a plant based diet is healthier and the meat industry is killing the planet.   It should be that we can eat a bit of meat, but the impact on the biosphere of a meat focused food industry  has become so violent, that a simple avoidance policy is really the only option.

You don’t have to watch Earthlings, but humankind must slow down and drastically reduce its consumption of the biosphere (our habitat which we need for life) and that includes consuming fewer animals.

syria-christian-massacre-3Is it going to happen?  Well, this is today’s headline: Syria conflict: Aleppo civilians suffer ‘unthinkable atrocities’, in which accounts of civilian torture and massacre are reported.  Not a hopeful datapoint …

Earthlings Website

Watch Earthlings online here.

Sapiens: Thinking, Stories and Ignorance, then choosing to die.

Yuval Harari’s brief history of humankind, weighing in at a meaty 400 pages, is enjoyable, provocative and very worrying.  The wide-ranging, scholarly story is easy to read and sensible.  I enjoyed the book from beginning to end, though I had to restrain myself from skipping to the last chapter: The End of Homo Sapiens.

For the first few chapters, the irony of our vain self-naming “sapiens” (wise in Latin) is palpable on every page .  We wiped out at least six other species of hominid, not because we were better, stronger or smarter, but because we believed in things that didn’t exist, imagined collaboration and ran amok.

Skipping to the end of the book, the stories that we’ve imagined (like a bearded man in the clouds) stand in the way of common sense.  We believe what we want to believe, not what we know to be true.  We believe advertisements instead of our own personal senses and experiences.  We believe in the virtue of power despite evidence that it is corrupt.  And everyday, with increasing speed, we choose a virtual reality of thinking machines and media devices which lead to a life without nature and the inevitable rise of cyborgs which are stronger, smarter and more emotionally astute that homo sapiens.  That time, presaged by the approaching technological singularity, is happening now.  In a few decades, humankind will be on the way down … unless we choose to live within the laws of nature.

Buy Sapiens and enjoy the story.  It’s about you!