Conundrum Pt. 3

So, part 3, a conclusion of sorts I guess. I mean if humans are these insane flawed monkey creatures that can’t be logical or rational for an entire day, let alone an epoch, what in the name of ancient divine coping mechanisms do we do about it? Sounds like something easily reached before we plunge the planet into a state that all but confirms our own extinction and at the very least the mass extinction of this crop of genetic lineages alive today. Sure the planet will live on, hell Venus does fine all on its own (we have trouble landing probes on Venus because they melt in midair, but hey, it still exists!), mass extinctions have occurred before, and will again. Sun has a few billion years of go left in it, next lot of species will have to try and escape the rock before the suns surface extends out towards, well… Venus again.

How to plug the hole in our brains before we glass the place? Not a simple task many experts agree. Some even go as far as to espouse the virtues of machine intelligence as a way to stem the tide of our madness.

Enter the transhuman.

Importantly, the next stage of human evolution will undoubtedly be driven by technology. It’s kind of impossible to put the technology toothpaste back in the tube. In the last 100 years, we have already vastly outstripped the pace of natural selection in the way can modify ourselves.

Is that the way we leave the confines of our first home to look for another? Is the only way to save the human race to merge with an intelligence totally foreign to our own?

For this season of Trending Human, I want to explore these themes. What are the implications of human-ai hybridization, what are the roadblocks and dangers? Is it needed? Will we find a solution before it becomes necessary?

Let’s see what we can find out.

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Conundrum Pt.2

This is not a post about President Trump

He is merely a symptom

… a fairly terrifying symptom, but one nonetheless

Humans have created things of immense beauty, of scale, of vast emotion and meaning. Constructions of material and thought to beggar even the gods of old.

We have also been idle, easily led, foolish and corrupt, short sighted, cruel and manipulative.

Evolution saddled our species with strength and passion, but reason does not come naturally to us. For many thousands of years, sages of all cultures have found ways (or tried to) to create reason within us, to quiet the tide of emotion that we have yet to learn how to control and direct. Greek philosophers, Hindu gurus, Buddhist sages, and modern thinkers, many hundreds of methods and creeds. That reason, or critical thinking, remains a task, rather than intuitive, is the conundrum at hand.

If we look at the gap between cognitive bias and critical reasoning, we notice a blind spot in human thinking. The list of cognitive flaws and bias are long, information bias, Outcome bias, Stereotyping, Bandwagon effect, and much more. The point is not to explain them, some are simple, some are complex, and we have barely scratched the surface with many. What is important is that this blind spot exists, and is known and understood for what it represents.

A reason why we are still children with too much power in a world that cannot defend itself from us any longer.

Editorialising aside; neuroscience tells us that our minds don’t often do what we think they do. Studies in the last handful of years have raised doubts about our much-vaunted sense of free will, that in reality our brain runs on autopilot most of the time, and merely allows our sense of self to rationalise the various decisions we make in a day. Remember the last time you drove home from work or did some other repetitive task you have to do but would rather not. How much attention were you paying? Even driving, where you engaged with the process or let your years of driving experience take the wheel? Did you really want that brand of butter or is it just the one you have always bought and haven’t re-thought the decision-making matrix in some time. Oh, sure we are capable of change, of inputting new information. Apparently, according to the man on the TV, cholesterol is bad, so I’d better buy margarine instead of butter, less fat and all that. (Not even launching into the charade of FAT BAD of the last half of the 20th century).

The point of this and the conundrum as it continues is where does the autopilot start and finish? Trump rails against Mexicans, calling them rapists, and American Mexicans then vote for Trump. A world of scientists say you must pay attention to health and eat fewer carbs, the world aggress, when a similar group of lab coats say you must vaccinate your children, everyone loses their minds.

Welcome to crazy town, population, all of us.

Conundrum

(photo credit sciencenews.org)

(July 2017)
A distressingly large part of the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica finally broke away from the mainland and became one of the largest icebergs seen in the last century.

While immense, this is not unheard of and can be considered a natural event.

(June 2017)
Xinmo, in the Sichuan province of China, completely gone. Rainfall registering in the unheard of category loosened material enough to cause a landslide that was feared to claim the lives of 100 people. a 7.3 earthquake in 1933 set the stage, but the recent rainfall created the disaster. Miami will cease to exist with rising sea levels, scientists still trying to warn.

Still, earthquakes are natural, and even the man-made ones register nowhere near 7.3 on the Richter scale. Rainfall is more difficult to attribute.

(May 2017)
Floods and landslides kill 150 in Sri Lanka. 13 dead in Moscow after what was described as freak winds. Winds in the UK and US cause millions in damage. Scientists continue to warn about sea level rise.

(April 2017)
Sea level rise will be much worse, claim scientists. City of Rockhampton flooding at nearly 9m, millions in damage as residents flee homes. Cyclone Debbie in Queensland, damage in billions

(March 2017)
Cyclone Debbie smashed Australian NE coastlines. Avalanche in Japan kills seven students and their teacher. Global temperature maps are showing odd patterns of warming and cooling, in places not known for it at this time of year.

(February 2017)
Floods in Chile leave million without civil infrastructure and potable water. Torrential rains and fatal floods in California, India, Russia. Australia under record breaking heatwave and bushfires in NSW wipe towns off the map.

“Natural disasters”

Three earthquakes, 2 in Japan, 1 in Ecuador, cost the world a mere $35 billion in 2016.

How does it relate? The conundrum lies in why there is an absence of political will in some of the worlds largest nations, to address a problem that strikes at the heart of the paradigm that same leadership swears by.

Short answer, climate change caused by humans, humans rely on economics to fuel society, climate change threatens economics, humans willfully deny the existence of climate change, the human economy collapses.

Hence conundrum, why are we so shortsighted and bloody-minded idiots. Short term thinking, for short term gains, gains that may not exist in a year let alone a lifetime. This, again, is the failure of the human condition.

 

We begin again