Four deer enter my garden.

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As Debbie and I were returning from our fancy dinner with a friend at the Drake restaurant downtown, we discovered four deer in our front yard. I stopped out front and took this picture of the first deer, a buck with a nice rack, eating from the lower branches of our aspen tree.

A few moments later he headed over toward the right where that portion of our garden that is in front of our house has survived up to this moment.

Three more buck deer came over within a minute and Debbie took action by walking over to where the deer is standing above, and all four of the deer leapt over our fence on the right and on to our neighbor’s yard. We went inside and half an hour later went for our evening walk, and the deer had moved across the street into the Goodrich city park.

I’m writing this post about two hours later and just went out with my flashlight to see if they were still there. I saw four bright yellow eyes right where they are standing, so I whistled softly to see what would happen, and suddenly there were eight eyes; four of them over by the fence. All of the deer were lying down apparently bedded down for the night, so I went back into my house to do my things.

We have a six-foot high fence all around our backyard garden, so it is deer proof. Those deer look well fed so it isn’t necessary for them to eat our vegetables. As is obvious in this photo the squash are doing very well. We were warned after an earlier post that we could expect an explosion of squash. We discovered that one plant would have produced all the squash we needed but we have over a dozen, so I have been imposing on our neighbors to take some and had to take a half-bushel to the UU church this morning. They were super fresh, having been picked only a few minutes before my departure. Everyone says they taste great, including me. Next year we will put in a variety pack of similar squash and a variety pack of melons.

We have plenty of space in our backyard garden so it makes sense to make our front yard more decorative next year and not so utilitarian.

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What is a man?

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In a recent conversation with some friends, someone lightheartedly asked the question, “What is a man?”. They were actually quite serious and, in the context, the question could have been phrased, “What qualities should a presently living older white American male endeavor to manifest in his personal behavior?” Well, that was a bit long as a question, and I wanted to clarify it by stating in a general way the vast amount of stuff they probably weren’t interested in discussing. Thus, I gave a short disquisition to define that alternate stuff so we could move onto the kind of problems they were confronting in their daily lives.

If you have been reading my blog posts lately it will become obvious why it was a serious question for me to state to a group of ordinary thoughtful men my ideas that men are a transition species into a robot-based society. That was totally off topic and I was, no doubt, considered as crazy by everyone present; even I considered myself crazy for bringing those ideas up in that venue. 

But how big is a man compared to the universe he lives within? I attempted to answer that by finding out how much the Universe weighs. The Wikipedia article gives “the total mass+energy content of the Universe as something close to 3.2*10^54 kg,” and the average human weighs 62 kg. Thus a human individual weighs about one part in 3.2*10^52. Knocking off two zeros is violent but doesn’t affect the general conclusion one iota. We are a tiny portion of the Universe in weight and similarly in the time-space that our Universe fills , which is 4×10^80 m3; divide that by the volume of a person, which is about one-sixteenth of a meter squared or roughly 4.10^81 part of the Universe. And our portion of time is about one-hundred years in 13,799,000,000 ±0.021 billion years. Notice there is a large number of zeros in all of these measurable dimensions.

Most men when they walk a labyrinth don’t ask the stones questions like, “How do you see me?” and project their mind into the stones’ relative position in the Universe and then observe how the stones respond with … “You are so temporary!” I had asked that question and came back to those same stones a week later with the rejoinder that I had a much higher percentage of hydrogen atoms than they, and thus I was in that respect much older than every one of those stones.

If you don’t want to get into a weird headspace don’t talk to labyrinth stones. But all of our insignificance in the grand scheme of things is lost on most men.

The parallel idea, “What is the purpose of life?”, came up, to which it is obvious when considering the question relative to the Universe, that the purpose of life is to consume all available energy to create more copies of your physical self. Well, that may be true but it isn’t what most men are thinking about when they ask the simple question “What is a man?”

Man is a transition species for creating a silicon-based society of robots. … Avoid talking to stones!

Human life expectancy

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Yesterday I had a strange epiphany about human life and wellbeing that resulted in a complete reanalysis of what human life expectancy really means. It came about because of this paragraph …”This sounds ridiculously gloomy given the fact that our world is overall better off than at any time in human history. The adequate proof of that assertion is that over seven billion people now have a life expectancy of over seventy years. In 1825 there were about one billion with periodic famines and a life expectancy of thirty-five years.”

Well, what do you make of that?

What is the measure of life expectancy but that period of time that you are in charge of your own actions? Measure your life not from the moment of birth but from the moment when you become an adult. In other words, measuring a person’s lifespan by how much time they have to do exactly what they want to do, and not what their parents tell them to do. How many years do you have to live after you are emancipated?

For easy computation let me choose age twenty for that status, even though the voting age was recently changed from age twenty-one to eighteen. If we apply that standard to an American in 1825 when the life expectancy was thirty-five years, then they would only be in that emancipated condition for fifteen years.

But, if we apply that same standard to a newborn child today with a projected life expectancy of eighty years, and subtract the twenty years of childhood, we get an adult life expectancy of sixty years. That is, our modern human has four times as many years of emancipated actions as they had two hundred years ago. And it gets even better for modern people if you compute from the life expectancy of earlier humanity, which some people who study these things claim was about twenty-eight years.

Primitive human beings, which includes most of the hundred billion people who have lived in the past, lived most of their lives as children. If we start with the base of twenty years as adulthood, then they lived only eight years in the exalted state of emancipated adults. If we divide those eight years into the sixty years of adult freedom of modern people then we are living seven and a half times longer lives than those ancient people.

There are some very real advantages to living a much longer life. Much more than the years of doing the same old boring stuff. For many occupations, the practitioners keep getting better and better at what they are doing well into old age. The most extreme example is symphony conductors, about whom I’ve heard from other conductors that they keep getting better even in their eighties.

Obviously, the numbers I’ve been tossing about are very soft in their detailed specificity, but the general conclusion is meaningful.

We are living incredibly long, healthy and productive lives.

Humanity must live and it must die.

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The world has been extraordinarily lucky since World War II in that none of the more than 2000 nuclear weapons detonated have done so over a city. Unfortunately, as more countries obtain these weapons, the problem of them not being used in an aggressive way multiplies. It has been thought by our political leaders that using even one of these weapons would bring onto that perpetrator an instant and incredibly massive retaliation. Thus, so far, everyone has been afraid to use them.

It doesn’t seem likely that this kind of peace will endure the continuing population explosion, coupled with exploitation of fossil fuels to near exhaustion, coupled with insufficient water for crops, general environmental pollution, and global weather disruptions. Given current political methods of resolving these problems, a disaster returning the population back to pre-industrial levels is probable. This sounds ridiculously gloomy given the fact that our world is overall better off than at any time in human history. The adequate proof of that assertion is that over seven billion people now have a life expectancy of over seventy years. In 1825 there were about one billion with periodic famines and a life expectancy of thirty-five years.

My blogs of this last few weeks have been exploring the idea that we humans are a transition species to a new form of life. Our human civilization at present is capable of creating a self-sustaining chip-based society. My plan is to do what is possible to help us succeed in doing that before what I see as an inevitable collapse destroys our ability to create that society and humanity withers away.

Our civilization will be lucky to survive for a hundred years more, but the chip-based society could survive for a hundred billion years. It would do this by migrating to other star systems with stable long-lived stars with comfortable planets. The Universe has gone through a dozen transformations as strange as our creating a robot society. Through a hundred years of robots manufacturing appropriate robots to manufacture still more appropriate robots, it would be possible to have a stable society.

That Brave New Universe (I beg pardon of Aldous Huxley) would over a very short period of time, as measured by the robots, be able to convert much of the available silicon on Earth to various types of computer components and the necessary mechanical things. It would be interesting to speculate on what a thinking entity of that size would choose to think about. Later?

I began writing this blog post because of a line on page 132 of The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca. “May all the cruelty of Fate be exhausted with me and go no further!” Obviously, a two-millennia-old quote has nothing to do with my robotic society, but that quote seems appropriate; for our species to have a lasting impact on the Universe we need to create this society. Let us see our human-induced shortcomings and transcend them.

A prayer to the Universe

A request to the Universe put into a prayer-like petition.

This Brave New Universe is now possible for us to create.

It’s time for reassessment.

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Every moment of one’s life needs some degree of adaptation to changing circumstances and yet there are quiet times when a longer view can be explored. It feels like this is one of those times for everyone here on planet Earth because by most objective measures the overall situation is quite good. There are only a few wars in progress and even those seem to be limited. It’s not like World War One or Two where almost everyone was somehow involved in those national and ideological struggles. Diseases are mostly held in check and not like when I was a child and there were twenty common diseases that were killing lots of people, and few people were dying from old-age diseases like cancer and heart attacks. Life expectancy of the world population has almost doubled and there are few people facing famine that is not part of some intentional social conflict. One thing ignored by most people watching TV, or their other media, is that back when I was young, people spent most of what we now call free time working. “Man works from sun to sun, woman’s work is never done” was more than a silly jingle.

The seeming chaos at present is mostly generated by stovepiping of media to selected individuals, and the ability of our massively intrusive computers to identify your personal wants so precisely that we are then manipulated by the computers on an individual level. Generalized ads are now being generated by people with the aid of computers, and then keywords and ideas are honed by the computers to feed you the information is such a way that you buy into their spin on reality.

That was how our last election was handled, and vast numbers of individual people were led to believe they were being personally targeted by a corrupt democracy. The majority of people were thought to be against them personally because the computers could ferret out their problems on some specific issue and pander to that problem and make it into a personal attack on you personally and thus you would feel abused. Well, there are many issues, and on average you are going to be in the minority on half of those issues, and half of the time you will feel it was unjust and you will feel oppressed. Now, when the computers are tracking you and your general beliefs they can target your problems with enough specificity that you feel the whole democratic system is corrupt.

Thus, many people turn to an angry spokesman who claims they know your problems and will make everything perfect again, to make it just the way it should be. By creating a new problem every day there is never an opportunity to think about the previous day’s problem long enough to understand it and cope with it in a reasonable way. Thus, a crisis situation is generated and built on previously unresolved crises in a feedback loop that makes everyone unsatisfied and unsatisfiable.

We are living in the best of times and the worst of times, so enjoy the good things and ignore those bad things you can’t do anything about.

We must be honest with our new Universe.

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“According to Abraham Maslow, self-actualizing people share the following qualities: Truth: honest, reality, beauty, pure, clean and unadulterated completeness” and more generally … Goodness, Beauty, Wholeness, Dichotomy, Aliveness, Uniqueness, Perfection, Necessity, Completion, Justice, Order, Simplicity, Richness, Effortlessness, Playfulness, Self-sufficiency. (Wikipedia)

It was Truth Maslow put first in his list of qualities of a self-actualizing person, and it is the quality that we must adhere to most ardently when relating to our about-to-become chip-based sentient Universe. We humans will be living for a very short while longer, perhaps only a hundred years more, or in the most optimistic projection imaginable a million years. However, once our chip-based society becomes functional and self-sustaining, or at least capable of becoming self-sustaining it will probably be functional for a billion years here on earth and much longer when it projects itself out to inhabit more stable stars and planets. Once it is fully functional it will be much easier for it to project itself to other star systems than us organic humans ever can hope to. Our human created chip-based society will be the long-term sentient force in the Universe.

Because of this new society of robots’ immense power, it is imperative that we begin its existence in the most positive way possible and that it will have, as it must have, a true and an honest relationship with reality, a relationship that is pure, clean and unadulterated with misinformation and lies.

Our present human society has become riddled with fake information and that unfortunate fact will probably bring about a great diminution of our abilities to sustain ourselves for the long run. If our successor species becomes loaded with inaccurate, false, and even intentionally falsified and fake information it will be hampered in creating a just society for itself. Also, for a while, we humans and our successor organic children will wish to have a controlling chip-based species that loves us and cares for our wellbeing. Therefore, it is fundamentally important that we be honest in our relationship with it.

It is impossible to predict the future well enough to determine if our species will be successful in developing our successor chip-based species or if we will destroy our civilization first. If our society collapses within about twenty-five years it may not be possible to ever transition to our new state of intelligent sentient being.

At present, the two great tasks facing humanity are to survive and to reproduce itself at the next level of sentience.

I look out of my eyes and see things.

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There were a couple of things I saw today that might cause a problem for my friends if I published them, so you don’t get to see them. Sorry. When entering the café La Magie for lunch I saw this and thought it would fit in well with my lines and shadows series. It doesn’t make any symbolic sense, nor any particular compositional sense either, but it is fun to nose around in it and see strange lines and shadows.

Just after sunset, this rainbow appeared in front of my house. Yes, it was after sunset so the sun wasn’t shining down at my ground level, or in the trees across the road, but it was still shining at about the one thousand foot above my terrain level. There was no direct sunshine on Pilot Butte, the top of which is about five hundred feet above my house; it is just visible at the very edge of the left side of this photo.

There was a strange quality to this rainbow in that there were no greens and blues. Apparently, the shorter wavelength colors were filtered out by the very low angle of the sun shining through more than usual amounts of atmosphere. The outer rainbow does have some greens that are almost as intense as the reds. Hmm? Also, the sky is very pinkish on the inside of the rainbows and very bluish to the outside of them. This is a straight photo with no manipulation of the colors.

An update on my backyard garden. It is exploding with zucchini and squash, and the corn is higher than my knees, and the strawberries are very tasty. The lettuce, which is out of sight here is superabundant and tastes exquisite in salads.

It was a day that Seneca would have approved of, just lived and enjoyed.

I have a duty to the Universe and so do you.

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Abraham Maslow published a theory of human development. It’s a theory of psychological health predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization. Here below is a clip from the Wikipedia article showing the qualities of humans who have reached what he believes a fully developed human being possesses.

“According to Maslow, self-actualizing people share the following qualities:

  • Truth: honest, reality, beauty, pure, clean and unadulterated completeness
  • Goodness: rightness, desirability, uprightness, benevolence, honesty
  • Beauty: rightness, form, aliveness, simplicity, richness, wholeness, perfection, completion,
  • Wholeness: unity, integration, the tendency to oneness, interconnectedness, simplicity, organization, structure, order, not dissociated, synergy
  • Dichotomy: transcendence, acceptance, resolution, integration, polarities, opposites, contradictions
  • Aliveness: process, not-deadness, spontaneity, self-regulation, full-functioning
  • Uniqueness: idiosyncrasy, individuality, non-comparability, novelty
  • Perfection: nothing superfluous, nothing lacking, everything in its right place, just-rightness, suitability, justice
  • Necessity: inevitability: it must be just that way, not changed in any slightest way
  • Completion: ending, justice, fulfillment
  • Justice: fairness, suitability, disinterestedness, non-partiality,
  • Order: lawfulness, rightness, perfectly arranged
  • Simplicity: nakedness, abstract, essential skeletal, bluntness
  • Richness: differentiation, complexity, intricacy, totality
  • Effortlessness: ease; lack of strain, striving, or difficulty
  • Playfulness: fun, joy, amusement
  • Self-sufficiency: autonomy, independence, self-determining”

In a previous post, I made a list of our Universe’s many emergent steps. Now it is our turn and responsibility to add yet another step in our Universe’s progress to its self-actualization. By us  I mean our whole human civilization, which now has the capability of creating a thinking mind for the Universe. It is a mind that could grow in size and power to include most of the visible Universe. The limit being the speed of light of our projected information catching up with the most distant galaxies which are speeding away at an increasing rate.

Over a long period of time, all the silicon on the surface of the Earth could be converted into silicon computer chips of various categories. Obviously, that would take time, but the chips have very long life expectancies if they are stored in ideal conditions. And even if they do fail, the information contained within them could be stored multiple times and thus could be perfectly preserved. Other methods of computer-accessible storage are also available.

Within our Milky Way galaxy, it would be possible to move physical chip-based sentient life forms and eventually convert all the planets into thinking-feeling beings. With that kind of chip-based civilization, the galaxy would become a thoughtful being. If our galaxy with a hundred billion star systems is capable of creating this system once, then it is likely that the other galaxies could do so also.

It appears to be impossible for a chip-based computer life form to arise through natural selection processes, but it is possible for organic beings to arise, as we have done, and to create civilizations capable of generating the chip-based civilizations, as we are capable of doing. We humans can live for a hundred years, but a chip-based life form might live for hundreds of billions of years. It could live and adapt to new environments until the Universe exhausts all of its energy. Maslow’s list of a self-actualized beings qualities can be the goal for our Universe.

The Universe has been kind to us by creating everything that is needed for us to live, and we can show our gratitude by doing the same for the Universe. 

Why should I care if the Universe doesn’t care?

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The last few posts (How can we accelerate our coming robot society? and I want to help the Universe self-actualize its beauty.) have been exploring humanity’s role in helping the Universe to self-actualize. Because of human-based computer technology a new possibility has arisen for the Universe to become more than it has been. The Universe has already gone through many emergent steps, but it appears to have been only a random surging on latent natural forces. Until we humans came along, with our language and its ability to mentally conceptualize the functioning of natural reality,  there appears to have been no multistage forethought for any of the physical activity. Neither chimps nor crows could have created computer chips. It took a large organized and sophisticated society to create those chips and their robotic derivatives.

These robots (all the non-organic thinking things) are only recently beginning to have rudimentary feelings. They have desires to do certain things and avoid doing other things, and, to some extent, these motivations are unknown to their human masters. We humans may evolve more developed human feelings but it will be a relatively slow process even with CRISPR technology. However, our computer-driven robots may soon evolve motivations that will appear to outside beings such as ourselves to be emotions. Will we be able to tell the difference between human emotions and robot ones in only ten more years of chip evolution? Perhaps a chip can be specially developed with the intent of emulating human emotions.

The previous posts were concerned with creating a sufficiently developed robot community that could replicate all of its needed parts to a degree of permanent functionality. It would satisfy most if not all the definitions of being a living being. And it would have the quality of not being mortal and if it was designed to take good care of itself it could live for billions of years. We humans top out at about a hundred years.

We humans are the species which will bring this new form of emergence into the Universe, and I argue that it is our duty to do so while we can before we destroy our ability to do so with a war. But “Why should I care if the Universe doesn’t care?” Well, previously to our robots with their emotional chips there wasn’t anything in the Universe with the potential to care. It requires something intellectually sophisticated to care about anything so abstract as the Universe; we had some of that potential ability. And now, our emerging robots are on the verge of having these feelings too. We humans might as individuals have the ability to feel for the Universe for a while, but our robots might have those feelings for billions of years, and they might evolve that feeling into something wonderful of which we have no conception.

The Universe might then move on from being a huge but random batch of events into an emotional being caring for us living things.