Is our world in chains?

Is technology locking the world into perpetual suffering?

This ‘BBC Future’ article seems to be suggesting that it is and what might be ahead of us is a ‘grim fate’ that could be ‘worse than extinction’

The author of this story is Di Minardi and it was published on the 16th October 2020

Quote:

“What would it take for a global totalitarian government to rise to power indefinitely? This nightmare scenario may be closer than first appears.

What would totalitarian governments of the past have looked like if they were never defeated? The Nazis operated with 20th Century technology and it still took a world war to stop them. How much more powerful – and permanent – could the Nazis have been if they had beat the US to the atomic bomb? Controlling the most advanced technology of the time could have solidified Nazi power and changed the course of history.

When we think of existential risks, events like nuclear war or asteroid impacts often come to mind. Yet there’s one future threat that is less well known – and while it doesn’t involve the extinction of our species, it could be just as bad.

It’s called the “world in chains” scenario, where, like the preceding thought experiment, a global totalitarian government uses a novel technology to lock a majority of the world into perpetual suffering. If it sounds grim, you’d be right. But is it likely? Researchers and philosophers are beginning to ponder how it might come about – and, more importantly, what we can do to avoid it…”

“…Existential risks (x-risks) are disastrous because they lock humanity into a single fate, like the permanent collapse of civilisation or the extinction of our species. These catastrophes can have natural causes, like an asteroid impact or a supervolcano, or be human-made from sources like nuclear war or climate change. Allowing one to happen would be “an abject end to the human story” and would let down the hundreds of generations that came before us, says Haydn Belfield, academic project manager at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge.

Toby Ord, a senior research fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute (FHI) at Oxford University, believes that the odds of an existential catastrophe happening this century from natural causes are less than one in 2,000, because humans have survived for 2,000 centuries without one. However, when he adds the probability of human-made disasters, Ord believes the chances increase to a startling one in six. He refers to this century as “the precipice” because the risk of losing our future has never been so high.

Researchers at the Center on Long-Term Risk, a non-profit research institute in London, have expanded upon x-risks with the even-more-chilling prospect of suffering risks. These “s-risks” are defined as “suffering on an astronomical scale, vastly exceeding all suffering that has existed on Earth so far.” In these scenarios, life continues for billions of people, but the quality is so low and the outlook so bleak that dying out would be preferable. In short: a future with negative value is worse than one with no value at all.

This is where the “world in chains” scenario comes in. If a malevolent group or government suddenly gained world-dominating power through technology, and there was nothing to stand in its way, it could lead to an extended period of abject suffering and subjugation. A 2017 report on existential risks from the Global Priorities Project, in conjunction with FHI and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, warned that “a long future under a particularly brutal global totalitarian state could arguably be worse than complete extinction”.

Singleton hypothesis

Though global totalitarianism is still a niche topic of study, researchers in the field of existential risk are increasingly turning their attention to its most likely cause: artificial intelligence.

In his “singleton hypothesis”, Nick Bostrom, director at Oxford’s FHI, has explained how a global government could form with AI or other powerful technologies  – and why it might be impossible to overthrow. He writes that a world with “a single decision-making agency at the highest level” could occur if that agency “obtains a decisive lead through a technological breakthrough in artificial intelligence or molecular nanotechnology”. Once in charge, it would control advances in technology that prevent internal challenges, like surveillance or autonomous weapons, and, with this monopoly, remain perpetually stable.

If the singleton is totalitarian, life would be bleak. Even in the countries with the strictest regimes, news leaks in and out from other countries and people can escape. A global totalitarian rule would eliminate even these small seeds of hope. To be worse than extinction, “that would mean we feel absolutely no freedom, no privacy, no hope of escaping, no agency to control our lives at all”, says Tucker Davey, a writer at the Future of Life Institute in Massachusetts, which focuses on existential risk research.

“In totalitarian regimes of the past, [there was] so much paranoia and psychological suffering because you just have no idea if you’re going to get killed for saying the wrong thing,” he continues. “And now imagine that there’s not even a question, every single thing you say is being reported and being analysed.”

“We may not yet have the technologies to do this,” Ord said in a recent interview, “but it looks like the kinds of technologies we’re developing make that easier and easier. And it seems plausible that this may become possible at some time in the next 100 years.”

AI and authoritarianism

Though life under a global totalitarian government is still an unlikely and far-future scenario, AI is already enabling authoritarianism in some countries and strengthening infrastructure that could be seized by an opportunistic despot in others.

“We’ve seen sort of a reckoning with the shift from very utopian visions of what technology might bring to much more sobering realities that are, in some respects, already quite dystopian,” says Elsa Kania, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for New American Security, a bipartisan non-profit that develops national security and defence policies.

In the past, surveillance required hundreds of thousands of people – one in every 100 citizens in East Germany was an informant – but now it can be done by technology. In the United States, the National Security Agency (NSA) collected hundreds of millions of American call and text records before they stopped domestic surveillance in 2019, and there are an estimated four to six million CCTV cameras across the United Kingdom. Eighteen of the 20 most surveilled cities in the world are in China, but London is the third. The difference between them lies less in the tech that the countries employ and more in how they use it.

What if the definition of what is illegal in the US and the UK expanded to include criticising the government or practising certain religions? The infrastructure is already in place to enforce it, and AI – which the NSA has already begun experimenting with – would enable agencies to search through our data faster than ever before.

In addition to enhancing surveillance, AI also underpins the growth of online misinformation, which is another tool of the authoritarian. AI-powered deep fakes, which can spread fabricated political messages, and algorithmic micro-targeting on social media are making propaganda more persuasive. This undermines our epistemic security – the ability to determine what is true and act on it – that democracies depend on.

“Over the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of filter bubbles and people getting shunted by various algorithms into believing various conspiracy theories, or even if they’re not conspiracy theories, into believing only parts of the truth,” says Belfield. “You can imagine things getting much worse, especially with deep fakes and things like that, until it’s increasingly harder for us to, as a society, decide these are the facts of the matter, this is what we have to do about it, and then take collective action.”

Preemptive measures

The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence report, written by Belfield and 25 authors from 14 institutions, forecasts that trends like these will expand existing threats to our political security and introduce new ones in the coming years. Still, Belfield says his work makes him hopeful and that positive trends, like more democratic discussions around AI and actions by policy-makers (for example, the EU considering pausing facial recognition in public places), keep him optimistic that we can avoid catastrophic fates.

Davey agrees. “We need to decide now what are acceptable and unacceptable uses of AI,” he says. “And we need to be careful about letting it control so much of our infrastructure. If we’re arming police with facial recognition and the federal government is collecting all of our data, that’s a bad start.”

If you remain sceptical that AI could offer such power, consider the world before nuclear weapons. Three years before the first nuclear chain reaction, even scientists trying to achieve it believed it was unlikely. Humanity, too, was unprepared for the nuclear breakthrough and teetered on the brink of “mutually assured destruction” before treaties and agreements guided the global proliferation of the deadly weapons without an existential catastrophe.

We can do the same with AI, but only if we combine the lessons of history with the foresight to prepare for this powerful technology. The world may not be able to stop totalitarian regimes like the Nazis rising again in the future – but we can avoid handing them the tools to extend their power indefinitely.””

A tribute to my late mother Lily. Lily was one of the early western students of the practice of Transcendental Meditation

In late 1968 Lily visited Rishikesh in India in order to learn about and practice Transcendental Mediation as taught by the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Transcendental Mediation was in its infancy at the time. The Beatles were at Rishikesh around the same time as Lily. I later visited Rishikesh in 1969 and I spent a little time with my mother on my way to Europe and in the process I also met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. This was both privately as well as me attending a few  of his lectures at Rishikesh.

By creating this blog I am paying public tribute to my mother for having the foresight to become involved in Transcendental Mediation when it was in its infancy. Furthermore it seems that the Beatles were as like-minded as Lily was around those early days of Transcendental Mediation too.

The following two videos are self explanatory. The third video was taken on a “Super 8” movie camera that I had taken with me on my journey to Europe. This third video was later edited to become a feature presentation at my mother’s funeral on July 10th 2017. Unfortunately the quality of the film is not good.

One Transcendental Mediation student talks about her search for meaning at Rishikesh in those early days.

 

Going backwards in time before your eyes

We have been told that in physics that it is not possible to travel back in time. However, around seventy years ago a highly respected physicist by the name of David Bohm pointed out by analogy that in his opinion there exists a ‘layer’ of universal reality that he referred to as the implicate order. His analogy was along the lines of this experimental quotation:-

Quote:

“…It consists of two concentric glass cylinders. Between them is a viscous fluid, such as glycerine. If a drop of insoluble ink is placed in the glycerine and the outer cylinder is turned slowly, the drop of dye will be drawn out into a thread. Eventually the thread gets so diffused it cannot be seen. At that moment there seems to be no order present at all. Yet if you slowly turn the cylinder backward, the glycerine draws back into its original form, and suddenly the ink drop is visible again. The ink had been enfolded into the glycerine, and it was unfolded again by the reverse turning.

Suppose you put a drop of dye in the cylinder and turn it a few times, then put another drop in the same place and turn it. When you turn the cylinder back, wouldn’t you get a kind of oscillation?

Yes, you would get a movement in and out. We could put in one drop of dye and turn it and then put in another drop of dye at a slightly different place, and so on. The first and second droplets are folded a different number of times. If we keep this up and then turn the cylinder backward, the drops continually appear and disappear. So it would look as if a particle were crossing the space, but in fact it’s always the whole system that’s involved…” (I italicised the text)

Source

I present you with two video references that demonstrate what these words mean. I also draw your attention to the fact that these experiments visually demonstrate how it is possible to reverse time under everyday conditions. Demonstrations one and two establish this point.

This appearing and  disappearing of the insoluble dye in the cylinder represents what I symbolically see as being the mechanical relationship between ordinary ‘things’ and events going on around us (represented by the diffused dye in the clear glycerine) and something ‘bigger’ than  us that is conceivably without time. This is the openness of the empty inner cylinder. As observers looking from the outside of the walls of the larger cylinder they would see the whole of the two glass cylinder apparatus system as though it were a single unit. This is until such time as the dye droplet was introduced to the system. In the process we would not notice that the droplet was confined to the space between the outer walls of both the larger and the smaller cylinder. I am suggesting that the progressive diffusing of the dye as a thread as it moves ‘ahead’ in clock time is related to the speed of the clockwise movement of the outer cylinder.

However, as observers outside the system we would not notice this separation of the wider complete system. In this sense we might say that the empty inner area of the smaller cylinder of the system is an area (or continuum) without knowable dimensions or time. The area outside of it containing the glycerine is an area that we can observe with clock time. This is because we can measure the speed of the diffusing thread of dye as the outer cylinder rotates. It follows from this that visually we would not know that the ‘area’ inside the smaller contained cylinder existed in the first place. From this we might say that the dye is diffusing throughout the complete system as distinct from it moving from just one part of it.  We might then say that there exists within the system two areas (continuums) as though they are one. I say that as the turning larger cylinder later reverts to moving in an anti-clockwise state of motion, it progressively re-establishes its former non diffused (nearly complete) droplet state. This is notionally both within the without time (informational) reference frame of the invisible ‘contents’ of the inner cylinder as well as the adjacent clock time reference frame containing the glycerine and the dye. It is within the clock time reference frame that the dye is backward enfolding itself on itself as though it had a memory to exactly do this. This suggests that it is moving backwards in time commensurate to some sort of universal order and rules that scientists do not yet understand. We might then assume that the same unknown rules and conditions are applicable to the empty contents of the smaller cylinder as well. In other words it might then be argued that these same rules and universal conditions are applicable to the universe as a whole. If this is the case then these words support my notion that the universe is a two layer one and as such this is consistent with Bohm’s theory that there is both an implicate and explicate order in the universe.

Taking my ideas one step further, I feel that what we must consider in this instance is that this without time reference frame of ‘something’ in the smaller cylinder is one that might be of an analogical ether type (although it is perhaps easier to visualise it as being a ‘blob’ of informational consciousness). I am suggesting that this ether of information is conscious of both itself as well as the happenings (day to day effects) of mechanical things and events taking place around it. In this case it is within the space (continuum) between its outer wall perimeter and the outer wall of the larger cylinder.

As the outer cylinder reverts to moving in an anti-clock wise direction (with its contents of dye moving from a diffused state to a indiffused state, we observe the mechanical effects of the dye progressively re-threading itself to its original droplet state.

I am suggesting that the dye within the time cylinder continuum is conjunctionally moving in both relationship to the clock time continuum within which it is moving as well as an mechanically indeterminable without time informational ether blob like continuum. It is this blob of ether information (through its consciousness) that ensures that the coding (like a bar code) of the information of diffusing and refusing of the dye is never lost. This is although observably to us it seems to be moving only in clock time in both of the directions that the cylinder moves. In other words as the quotes says “…it is always the whole system that’s  involved…” with all things and events going on around us at all times.

This is consistent with both the proof of concept as described in the quotation as well as the two video links cited above as well.  I suggest that the following physics quotation relating to droplet ‘path memory’ is complimentary to this debate as well.

Quote

“… In each test, the droplet wends a chaotic path that, over time, builds up the same statistical distribution in the fluid system as that expected of particles at the quantum scale. But rather than resulting from indefiniteness or a lack of reality, these quantum-like effects are driven, according to the researchers, by “path memory.”Every bounce of the droplet leaves a mark in the form of ripples, and these ripples chaotically but deterministically influence the droplet’s future bounces and lead to quantum-like statistical outcomes. The more path memory a given fluid exhibits — that is, the less its ripples dissipate — the crisper and more quantum-like the statistics become. “Memory generates chaos, which we need to get the right probabilities,” Couder explained. “We see path memory clearly in our system. It doesn’t necessarily mean it exists in quantum objects, it just suggests it would be possible…” (I italicised the text)

Source

From these ideas you may assume that I am suggesting that ‘universal reality’ is dualistic. This is analogous to a two dimensional ‘layer’ universe about which the informational layer (Bohm’s invisible and indivisible implicate order layer) is the ‘dominant player’ in this universal system and Bohm’s explicit layer is materially visible and divisible quanta that include particles. If you consider the analogy and my commentary, you might say that these particles are not only crossing material space but also the whole of the described system as well. This includes the ether continuum described. This analogy might also demonstrate how mechanical clock time can ‘comfortably’ co- exist with a wider informational blob of without time ‘nothing’.

I am committed to the notion that all things and events taking place in the universe (including the ‘workings’ of you and me) are in this dualistic state that I refer to as an explicit and implicit state.

If you care to know a little more about the wider back ground of Bohm’s ideas in this area you might find that this reference is a useful link in order to do so.

The International History of Sexology

I present you with a document that I feel contains information that you have probably never heard about before. I introduce the document by quoting an opening introduction to the paper itself. I believe that its contents are self explanatory.

Quote:

“INTRODUCTION: THE HISTORY AND CONCEPT OF SEXOLOGY

In our Western civilization attempts at a rational and systematic study of human sexual behavior date back at least to the ancient Greeks. Indeed, physicians like Hippocrates and the philosophers Plato and Aristotle can be claimed as the legitimate forefathers of sex research, since they made extensive observations and offered the first elaborate theories regarding sexual responses and dysfunctions, reproduction and contraception, abortion, sex legislation, and sexual ethics. In imperial Rome, Greek physicians like Soranus and Galen further advanced and systematized ancient sexual knowledge. Their work, in turn, prompted later Islamic scholars to devote a great deal of attention to sexual questions. These studies, originally written in Arabic, were translated and introduced into medieval Europe. Together with re-edited Greek and Roman manuscripts, they became standard texts at newly established medical schools and stimulated a rebirth of anatomical research in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. The names of Fallopio (Fallopian tubes), de Graaf (Graafian follicles), Berthelsen (Bartholin’s glands) and Cowper (Cowper’s glands) recall, even today, the first flowering of modern anatomy and remain associated with the then newly discovered parts of human sexual anatomy. The Age of Enlightenment ushered in a vigorous and increasingly secularized discussion of sexual ethics and produced the first programs of public and private sex education as well as new classifications and documentations of sexual behavior. In the 19th century, new concerns about overpopulation, sexual psychopathy and degeneracy gave rise to the concept of “sexuality” and led to intensified efforts on many fronts to get a firmer intellectual grasp on a subject matter that rapidly seemed to grow ever more complex. Biological, medical, historical, and anthropological research by von Baer, Darwin, Mendel, Kaan, Morel, Magnan, Charcot, Westphal, Burton, Morgan, Mantegazza, Westermarck, Krafft-Ebing, Schrenck-Notzing, and others, laid the foundations of sex research in the modern, more specific sense. Finally, at the turn of the 20th century, the pioneering work of Havelock Ellis, Sigmund Freud, and Iwan Bloch established the investigation of sexual problems as a legitimate endeavor in its own right.”

Source

PDF file of the original document

Gnostic Scriptures and Fragments. Is this the real story about the alleged sinner Mary Magdalene?

Perhaps the biblical Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute after all?

If you are interested in biblical history you may find this Gnostic Society Library article of interest. It quotes the remnants of the original gospel of Mary Magdalene that has never been widely published by the Roman Church.

This link introduces you to the Gnostic Society Library website that includes all of the discovered remnants of the Mary Magdalene gospel that are allegedly written by her.

Source

Well known physicist Lawrence Krauss talks about why he feels contemporary physics is a fraud

I briefly quote Lawrence Krauss as follows:

Quote:

“… Because science is not done in a vacuum. It is done in a social context, and the results of science have important implications for society, even if it is simply providing a general understanding of how we humans fit into the cosmos. Thus, simply producing new knowledge, without making any attempt to help disseminate it and explain it, is not enough. I think one cannot expect every scientist to spend time on the effort to explain science. But in a society in which the science is of vital importance and also in which many forces are trying to distort the results of science, it is crucial that some of us speak out …”

I italicized the text above

See source to read the complete article.

Did you know that somehow we might all be biologically connected to each other?

It is now believed in science that all cells in our body (and all life forms as well) are derived from other cells and that all of these cells exhibit their own fields of organization. This means that if this theory is correct we are all somehow biologically connected to each other. I support this theory.

Morphic field theory points to this hypothesis as being a valid one. This means that human beings are also linked to all other life forms by means of biological fields of organization of some type.

The interesting feature about morphic field theory is that it relates to biology, more particularly to the development of plants, their morphogenesis genes and their associated relationship to the development of animals, which includes us. Morphic fields can be seen as biological fields, or developmental fields which can be directly linked back to Quantum field theory in conventional physics.

I feel the important thing you should appreciate in that morphic field theory is that all cells in our body (and all life forms as well) are derived from other cells and that all cells exhibit fields of organization. Genes are part of this organization but they do not explain the organization itself. However, I do think they might be explained by the contents of my blog Consider this idea about thoughts. (I emboldened text above)

My thought blog generally talks about the concept of blobs, links; weak links, strong links and dead links with scientifically determinable values. This is in accordance with Quantum Homotopic Field Theory relating to space quantum foam.

I have attached an article from Nexus Magazine, volume 12, number 3 (April – May 2005). Despite its age I believe it is a credible article that is supported by ideas derived from a number of respectable scientists including Miller, Hameroff and Penrose. Notwithstanding the complex scientific ideas I have cited on your behalf above I feel that this nexus story might help you to better understand what the science is all about and what it may mean in our daily lives.

A blog for the Curious and the Scientifically Perplexed

This Journey by Starlight blog is one in a series originally written by Ian Flitcroft. I am uncertain as to how many stories Flitcroft have been published. However, I recently discovered this post on line. It is one that I feel you might consider to be amongst the most descriptive and easy to understand educational science blogs that you have ever come across. I consider that the contents might be particularly useful for secondary high school science students (they are primarily physics related). There are fifty two science related short stories incorporated therein.

Source

Is it a fact that not all facts are facts?

Why facts aren’t always more important than opinions

I like the manner in which Peter Ellerton has addressed this topic

Quote:

“The Conversation By Peter Ellerton, University of Queensland

Updated 19 Apr 2017, 12:17pm

Which is more important, a fact or an opinion on any given subject? It might be tempting to say the fact. But not so fast …

Lately, we find ourselves lamenting the post-truth world, in which facts seem no more important than opinions, and sometimes less so. We also tend to see this as a recent devaluation of knowledge. But this is a phenomenon with a long history. As the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov wrote in 1980:

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge’.”

The view that opinions can be more important than facts need not mean the same thing as the devaluing of knowledge. It’s always been the case that in certain situations opinions have been more important than facts, and this is a good thing. Let me explain.

Not all facts are true

To call something a fact is, presumably, to make a claim that it is true. This isn’t a problem for many things, although defending such a claim can be harder than you think. What we think are facts — that is, those things we think are true — can end up being wrong despite our most honest commitment to genuine inquiry. For example, is red wine good or bad for you? And was there a dinosaur called the brontosaurus or not?

The Harvard researcher Samuel Arbesman points out these examples and others of how facts change in his book The Half Life of Facts. It’s not only that facts can change that is a problem. While we might be happy to consider it a fact that Earth is spherical, we would be wrong to do so because it’s actually a bit pear-shaped. Thinking it a sphere, however, is very different from thinking it to be flat. Asimov expressed this beautifully in his essay The Relativity of Wrong.

For Asimov, the person who thinks Earth is a sphere is wrong, and so is the person who thinks the Earth is flat. But the person who thinks that they are equally wrong is more wrong than both.

Geometrical hair-splitting aside, calling something a fact is therefore not a proclamation of infallibility. It is usually used to represent the best knowledge we have at any given time. It’s also not the knockout blow we might hope for in an argument. Saying something is a fact by itself does nothing to convince someone who doesn’t agree with you. Unaccompanied by any warrant for belief, it is not a technique of persuasion. Proof by volume and repetition — repeatedly yelling “but it’s a fact!” — simply doesn’t work. Or at least it shouldn’t.

Matters of fact and opinion

Then again, calling something an opinion need not mean an escape to the fairyland of wishful thinking. This too is not a knockout attack in an argument. If we think of an opinion as one person’s view on a subject, then many opinions can be solid.

For example, it’s my opinion that science gives us a powerful narrative to help understand our place in the Universe, at least as much as any religious perspective does.

It’s not an empirical fact that science does so, but it works for me. But we can be much clearer in our meaning if we separate things into matters of fact and matters of opinion. Matters of fact are confined to empirical claims, such as what the boiling point of a substance is, whether lead is denser than water, or whether the planet is warming.

Matters of opinion are non-empirical claims, and include questions of value and of personal preference such as whether it’s ok to eat animals, and whether vanilla ice cream is better than chocolate. Ethics is an exemplar of a system in which matters of fact cannot by themselves decide courses of action.

Matters of opinion can be informed by matters of fact (for example, finding out that animals can suffer may influence whether I choose to eat them), but ultimately they are not answered by matters of fact (why is it relevant if they can suffer?).

Backing up the facts and opinions

Opinions are not just pale shadows of facts; they are judgements and conclusions. They can be the result of careful and sophisticated deliberation in areas for which empirical investigation is inadequate or ill-suited.

While it’s nice to think of the world so neatly divided into matters of fact and matters of opinion, it’s not always so clinical in its precision.

For example, it is a fact that I prefer vanilla ice cream over chocolate. In other words, it is apparently a matter of fact that I am having a subjective experience.But we can heal that potential rift by further restricting matters of fact to those things that can be verified by others.

While it’s true that my ice cream preference could be experimentally indicated by observing my behaviour and interviewing me, it cannot be independently verified by others beyond doubt. I could be faking it.

But we can all agree in principle on whether the atmosphere contains more nitrogen or carbon dioxide because we can share the methodology of inquiry that gives us the answer. We can also agree on matters of value if the case for a particular view is rationally persuasive.Facts and opinions need not be positioned in opposition to each other, as they have complementary functions in our decision-making. In a rational framework, they are equally useful. But that’s just my opinion — it’s not a fact.

Peter Ellerton is a lecturer in critical thinking at the University of Queensland and director of the university’s Critical Thinking Project.

Originally published in The Conversation”

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-18/why-facts-arent-always-more-important-than-opinions/8449438