The Future of the Mind by Michio Kaku – comments

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I watched the movie Her while reading The Future of the Mind. In the movie the protagonist falls in love with a beautifully voiced computer program simulating a human woman. She names herself Samantha, and the interaction evolves into a romance that goes along wonderfully, until later in the movie she asks permission to go online publicly. Sure, why not, you’re just a computer program. Unfortunately for our lonely dude, Samantha goes viral and becomes wildly popular, and although he might have the same technical relationship with her he hates the thought that she is being shared with others, many others. He values the uniqueness of their personal affections. This is relevant to The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind,  by Michio Kaku, because the book is largely about how humans are going to respond to increasingly human interactions with increasingly non-human entities.

Our technology is rapidly blurring the difference between our human selves and our various alternate roles in our febrile online environment. Kaku explores the possibilities, nay the certainties, of our empowered minds, and the implications of our new-found powers for good, not so good, and evil. How dangerous is some people’s self-interest going to be when it impacts other people’s well-being? Kaku comes to his self-interest, and human self-interest, in the idea that these new devices, no matter how complex and sophisticated, will still be nothing more than transistors and wires. The machines will have no social rights. There is a real problem with that idea when one realizes that since the book was written, the US Supreme Court has decided that corporations have the rights of human beings, and that they have the right to contribute unlimited quantities of money to any political campaign anywhere in the US. They have already given the corporations human status, and it would appear that the terror of the machines being in control already exists. The present kerfuffle has to do with the length of fiber optic lines between stock trading stations permitting one computer to purchase some stocks a millionth of a second before a competitor and resell it to the purchaser at a higher price. The computers are in charge of our money right now! Also, the drones used to kill  bad people, are already on automatic, and only have a human in the decision process for humane reasons. But those human intermediaries can be taken out of the decision by simply throwing the switch that says GO a little sooner,  perhaps much sooner. That already exists also. The postulated future described in this book is already here, so the question for us becomes, what are we going to do, now?

Although the book was written about the potential future, and what our preformed responses to that future should be, I kept having the feeling the future Kaku was writing about was already past. Probably in a few years, say ten at the longest, this book will be seen as quaint and off the point of what really happened, and yet it is probably as good as can be done at the moment, so to stay current, or only a little behind, read this book.

Avoiding Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) and creating Positive Child Experiences (PCE)

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Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) has proven to be a predictor of poor adult behavior. One can easily estimate their ACE score by answering ten simple YES or NO questions. Adults who have low scores (1-3), generally don’t have serious social problems, but those with high scores (7-10) do. One has little control over their childhood experiences, but they do have control over their adult behavior, although it requires serious effort and intentionally maintaining a positive goal orientation. High ACE scorers can become happy and successful people, but they must consciously decide to do that, whereas those with very low scores can be happy adults with little effort, and by simply avoiding unpleasant behaviors. What are predictors of super success in adult life?  What is the opposite of the ACE test, the ACE score, and the ACE adult outcomes? What are predictors of super success in life? There is a huge literature on raising children, but is it possible to create a short list of clear YES or NO questions that would be predictive?


Finding Your Positive Childhood Experiences (PCE) Score

While you were growing up, during your first 18 years of life:

  1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often … Encourage you, praise you, or honor you in front of other people? or Act in a way that made you expect to feel the warmth of appreciation? Yes/No ___ If yes enter 1 ___
  2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often … Give you some extra special gift or unexpected honor? Yes/No ___ If yes enter 1 ___
  3. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever … give you responsibility to perform a potentially expensive action or voluntarily put themselves in your control? Yes/No ___ If yes enter 1 ___
  4. Did you often or very often feel that … Your family members loved you and thought you were important and special? or Your family looked out for one another, felt close to each other, and supported each other? Yes/No ___ If yes enter 1 ___
  5. Did you often or very often feel that … You had plenty to eat, clean clothes to wear, and someone to protect you? or that your parents were always available to take care of you and take you to a doctor if you needed it? Yes/No ___ If yes enter 1 ___
  6. Were your parents always eagerly supporting each other in their unique endeavors? Yes/No ___ If yes enter 1 ___
  7. Did your mother or stepmother often or very often defend your rights against other people? or physically step between you and someone who was bullying you or physically hitting you? Yes/No ___ If yes enter 1 ___
  8. Did anyone you lived with counsel non-family people who had a money, alcohol or drug problem? Yes/No ___ If yes enter 1 ___
  9. Did anyone you lived with work in voluntary programs to help people disabled by physical or mental problems? Yes/No ___ If yes enter 1 ___
  10. Did a household member receive a public-sponsored award for community achievement? Yes/No ___ If yes enter 1 ___

Add up your “Yes” answers:_____ This is your PCE Score.


This questionnaire is a simple flip of the existing ACE test. In a later blog post, a leap will be made into the unknown unknowns of this problem and an attempt to isolate the critical events. At this time it does seem reasonable that any person who has a low ACE score and a high PCE score would have a happy and very successful life. It should be expected of a parent or guardian to provide the children in their care with all of the support listed in these ten questions.

There’s no place like home! – Lyrics

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To Tom – Now living in his new home in Perth, Scotland.
I brought the book Light from Many Lamps, by Lillian Watson, to your going-away party. I intended to sing Home Sweet Home (p.254) by Henry Bishop to you, but didn’t, as there was just too much festivity in the air for such a melancholy song. The version I had rehearsed is from is from Watson, and I suspect it is as close as any version to the original, first sung in 1823 at Covent Garden Theater, London. (See also – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home!_Sweet_Home!)

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble there’s no place like home;
A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there,
Which, seek through the world, is ne’er met with elsewhere.
Home, home, sweet, sweet Home!
There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home!

An exile from home, splendor dazzles in vain;
Oh, give me my lowly, thatched cottage again!
The birds singing gaily, that come at my call—
Give me them—with that peace of mind, dearer than all!
Home, home, sweet, sweet Home!
There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home!

I gaze on the moon as I tread the drear wild,
And feel that my mother now thinks of her child,
As she looks on that moon from our own cottage door
Thro’ the woodbine, whose fragrance shall cheer me no more.
Home, home, sweet, sweet Home!
There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home!

How sweet ’tis to sit ‘neath a fond father’s smile,
And the cares of a mother to soothe and beguile!
Let others delight ‘mid new pleasures to roam,
But give me, oh give me, the pleasures of home.
Home, home, sweet, sweet Home!
There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home!

To thee I’ll return overburdened with care;
The heart’s dearest solace will smile on me there;
No more from that cottage again will I roam;
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.
Home, home, sweet, sweet Home!
There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home!

Your Friend
Charles Scamahorn

How to link reality to pleasure.

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We humans seek pleasure and avoid pain, so it is easy to believe beautifully presented false ideas because observing them brings us pleasure, and it is easy to ignore some true ideas because believing them brings immediate pain and makes us feel bad for a long time. Sometimes, truth hurts, and it is always possible to create a lie that seems plausible, feels pleasurable, and eases pain. Having a quick and pleasurable answer for every possible problem makes us feel good because it makes us feel we are in control of the present situation. Of course believing things that are not compatible with reality will not work as well as believing things that are reality-based, but sometimes reality hurts and so it is avoided.

To maximize our own long-term pleasure we need to make false ideas not only provably false to our own minds, but to appear ridiculous and painful to the believers in the false ideas. That may not always be possible if someone has been committed to a given idea for a long time, and they were given consistent positive information which made the false idea appear pleasurable. Follow false pleasures to their source, and remove the linkages that make them pleasurable.

Pleasure must be earned by some kind of useful and purposeful behavior. So seek to remove pleasure from any behavior that doesn’t give productive results. Every pleasure that comes from some destructive behavior must be replaced immediately with some negative feedback, some kind of pain. The pain doesn’t need to be acute, but it should be clearly associated with the inappropriate action or thought.

Two great mistakes in life are to believe things that are false, and to disbelieve things which are clearly based on repeatable observation. Ultimate truth isn’t possible in human affairs, but the infinite possible falsehoods are easily observed; generally they are based on wishful thinking that some pretty fantasy is true and that things which are not pretty are false.

Humanity’s problem is that all people strive to believe things which make us feel better, no matter how ridiculous the idea. We have little control over the now, because it is already past when we observe it, and the way we control ourselves is to anticipate what is going to stimulate our actions in the future, prepare a response, and practice it if possible.

We are in control of our actions of the future but not of our actions of the present. 

A critique of an atheist’s sermon.

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A self-proclaimed atheist was giving a scheduled two-hour-long sermon to me and a dozen of my friends and acquaintances recently. I was quietly listening, because I like to let a person get their position stated clearly, with a reasonable number of the subtleties inserted, before saying anything. Quite frankly I didn’t like the way things were going, but I did get some good ideas for future blog posts written down in my notebook, but they weren’t the speaker’s ideas; they were my reactions to his statements. Perhaps my thoughts were just subtle quibbles, but real enough to me.

I didn’t want to ask questions until the conclusion of the lecture time, but I was feeling annoyed. My problem was his habit of coming to reasonable and scientifically defensible positions and then consistently intellectually backing down. He had said that in discussions with religious believers he often softened his argument with the statement, “I wish there was a god!”, and then proceeded with a presentation of generally proven scientific theories. Such scientifically accepted things as evolution, or the composition and development of the universe, he claimed were preceded with that softening statement, and perhaps followed with it too. To my ears and mind he totally destroyed any chance of reaching his traditional god-believing audience, and to a rational and scientifically inclined person, such as I intend to be, his presentation sounded false, flimsy, hypocritical and worse than worthless. His style of talking to young people, say of high school age, would be counterproductive. Then it happened, I lost my composure, not really ranting, but with an uncharacteristically high and raspy tone, I spoke up.

I said, “Your saying, ‘I wish there was a god!’, is terrible thing to say! That statement totally undermines everything you have to say; it corrupts your facts and lets people distort anything you say into their own preconceptions. That statement ruins their chance to explore new ideas from a new perspective.” That was especially true because several times he assured us that he was a firm church-going believer until reaching young adulthood, and he probably said that to every audience in an effort to soften his presentation. He even said several times he was presenting his ideas in a more forthright way to us, than he did to the kids. But even this stronger version was very weak. Any statement starting with “I wish” is probably going to be followed by nonsense.

When you have a scientifically defensible position assert it clearly, boldly and with an example. Let your audience cope with seeing the conflict with their previous untestable and unprovable assertions.

A deeper philosophy based on self-interest.

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David Hume in 1776 wrote that self-interest was the highest form of social good, because the sum total of human beings allowed to pursue their own self-interest ultimately precipitated the maximum benefit for humanity as a whole. It is sometimes called the hidden hand theory of economics. Hume’s professorial occupation wasn’t that of an economist, but rather he was a philosophic professor of moral ethics.

Hume’s philosophy of self-interest was primarily focused on advancing and protecting one’s personal survival and wealth, but he did apply it to national interests to promote personal self-interest. His general theory was expanded by Malthus into his theory of population growth expanding to the carrying capacity of the environment, but its technical exploitation by humans wasn’t expected to grow as much as it did. That growth of technical expertise makes his theory appear to be wrong in the short run, but in general there are fundamental limits to growth, based on the resources that can be exploited. Darwin and Wallace both claimed their theories of evolution, based on survival of the those who most fitted their environment, were based on their reading of Malthus’s fifty-year-old theory, apparently without realizing the then eighty-year-old theory of Hume was a better starting point, as it was based on business practices that fitting their local needs best were most likely to succeed. The following will expand those underlying assumptions with the goal of understanding in the broadest possible way the concept of self-interest. It is a development of an idea needed because of my friend R’s challenges to my theory of kindness.

Self-interest is generally thought of as behaving in such a way as to advance one’s personal wealth, but the old saying for life’s goals, “happy, healthy, wise and wealthy”, covers more than that standard view. There is a problem with that view, in that self-interest requires the individual to be living to appreciate those boons, in that when they die those benefits vanish. Those people with children, or various categories of significant others, will pass the last of those boons, their wealth, on to those other people so they may realize the bounty of the dead person’s acquired wealth. Wisdom to some extent many people have already given to the world in the form of published works and other worldly accomplishments, and their influence on other people, and it might endure. Health might also be given, but it is limited to devising improved or sustained environmental situations that will survive their death. The feeling of happiness being transferred to the postmortem future seems limited to surviving things which generate thoughts which themselves generate positive emotions. Shakespeare said not to worry about his physical death as his works were the better part of him. Those things surviving the death of the individual might still qualify as enhancing their self-interest, but of course for them to enjoy it personally would require them consciously thinking about those future benefits enjoyed by their inheritors. Sonnet LXXIV:

But be contented when that fell arrest
Without all bail shall carry me away,
My life hath in this line some interest,
Which for memorial still with thee shall stay.
When thou reviewest this, thou dost review
The very part was consecrate to thee:
The earth can have but earth, which is his due;
My spirit is thine, the better part of me:
So then thou hast but lost the dregs of life,
The prey of worms, my body being dead;
The coward conquest of a wretch’s knife,
Too base of thee to be remembered.
The worth of that is that which it contains,
And that is this, and this with thee remains.

Shakespeare was clearly thinking of his future “literary life” here on earth as giving other people pleasure.

So I must return to the basic question, “What is self-interest, and how may it be enhanced, or maximized?” It would seem that by the age of four normal humans have come to realize that simply grabbing what one wants, by any means whatsoever, is counterproductive. That other people you encounter soon expel you from their presence when you violate their self-interest. As a general rule one gets more cooperation from other people by sharing goods based on aiding each other’s self-interest, and both of your are happier and more successful. This level of cooperation is well known in a basic form of the Golden Rule, “Give to others as you would wish them to give to you.” That complemented with the Silver Rule, “Don’t treat others as you would not like to be treated.” These two rules get most people though their personal relationships and life reasonably well, but they don’t address society, or the future. The old King James Version of the Golden Rule states “All things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you even so unto them, for this the law and the prophets.” That says what you should do is to “help them live and live more abundantly.” That form of the rule is much more expansive as it can apply to all people at all times.

My efforts to understand how we might help others to live more abundantly evolved into a theory of kindness which is based not on giving things to people, not solving their problems for them, but of perceiving what is blocking them from achieving their goals, and making the smallest possible removal of those blockages so they do all the work and get all of the rewards.

The question arises, “Where is my self-interest enhanced by removing some other person’s blockages.” The answer is the simple realization of one’s own mortality, because we all know we won’t live forever personally, but we live for an unlimited period of time in the form of our human DNA. Thus, if we enhance the self-interest of our human DNA we are enhancing our own long-term well-being.

Our kind deeds live forever in the form of enhanced human self-interest, which expands to all life’s self-interest, and to intelligence’s self-interest.

Atheists for Jesus by Richard Dawkins – a critique

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Today I was reading a Richard Dawkins article which pondered over the problem of why people are so nice to one another. He wrote, “From a rational choice point of view, or from a Darwinian point of view, human super niceness is just plain dumb.” He believes that all animals live in a world of pure self-interest, and humans, being animals, would naturally take every opportunity to steal everything they could from the environment and from other people. That we don’t behave that way leaves Dawkins, and formerly Charles Darwin, flummoxed.

Dawkins’ article searches for an explanation of our super niceness, so observed human niceness could be intentionally induced to spread through humanity like an epidemic.  “Could super niceness be packaged in such a form that it passes down the generations in swelling traditions of longitudinal propagation?” When I read that line I momentarily thought he had read my Eveish theory and was going forward with it, but he then lost track of the obvious, and started beating on his favorite straw man, Jesus and other religions. Later he returns with, “The advent of human super niceness is something unprecedented in four billion years of evolutionary history.” He obviously didn’t understand the operating principle of niceness, so then he corks his erroneously bottled theory with, “The singularity [of humans] is a product of blind evolution itself, not the creation of any unevolved intelligence. It resulted from the natural evolution of the human brain which, under the blind forces of natural selection, expanded to the point where, all unforeseen, it overreached itself and started to behave insanely from the selfish gene’s point of view.” This is wrong and even Darwin and Wallace knew it to be wrong back in the 1860′s, because humans have too many genetically unusual qualities to have evolved independently so quickly, under the blind forces of natural selection. What would be the natural driving forces for language, or the ability to learn computer games? There had to be something more.

Dawkins and all of the other modern evolutionary theorists still don’t understand how humans came into being, and it wasn’t from natural selection, it was from human-driven artificial selection, which I call Eveish selection. Our human qualities arose because humans began choosing their breeding partners for qualities other than pure natural selection of the physically healthiest mates.

All humans, and especially women, choose their mates on more than physical strength and health, and among the many qualities we seek is niceness. There is a heritable quality to being a nice person, and because all humans voluntarily choose to be around nice people, those are the ones our ancestors chose to live with and have children with. Dawkins was searching for a rigidly doctrinaire evolutionary method for creating super niceness, while ignoring the fact that we have been selecting for niceness for at least a hundred thousand years. We are nice to one another because it is bred into our genetic code to be nice to one another, as much as possible. That is covered more thoroughly in Eveish Selection Theory.

Humans are already nice because that’s what women have consistently chosen for breeding partners.

How to create artificial gravity for a trip to Mars.

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Part of the problem of long space missions that include humans is that humans need gravity to remain healthy. Humans’ bodies and mental health too, would be degraded even before they arrived at Mars by the absence of gravity on a year-long trip. Science fiction has created huge slowly revolving donut-shaped spaceships to eliminate the lack of gravity problem, but they are too expensive to construct using standard Earth-bound methods. Successful space missions to be doable must use their mass and energy very efficiently.

I propose a reasonably sized, more economically feasible Mars voyager that would solve the gravity problem. It is done by separating the spaceship into two pieces of approximately the same mass, connecting them together with a long cable. When these two pieces are spun around their common center of mass, it would create artificial gravity for both pieces and for the people in their portion of the two-part spaceship. It would require energy to spin up the system, but once it was spinning it would require no more energy input to maintain a desired gravity. The spin could be brought to a stop without using any more rocket energy, by passing the space ship through the thin upper atmosphere of Mars with the rocket portion having been designed with more aerodynamic drag, and also with some aerodynamic control surfaces. The relatively denser inhabited portion of the ship would naturally pull ahead of the more drag inducing portions with the rockets. This would permit an energy-free guidance to a specific landing zone, using only control surface ailerons and air brakes.

The artificial gravity could be created and removed without expending any additional energy for the whole mission. The spin-up of the voyager is created by firing the rockets intermittently on the rocket portion of the voyager, but only when the rockets’ energy was pointed in the direction needed for getting to its intended destination. When these rockets are fired in this way they would not only move the station toward its destination, but simultaneously generate more spin for the whole system and thus more gravity for the occupants.

When landing the human occupied portion of the voyager on Mars, it would be dangling from the rocket-powered section on the attachment cable that made the gravity possible. It might be possible to recover the cable and rocket section, which could be landed separately at some distance, for salvaging parts, or possibly for an ascent into a Mars orbit, which would permit a link-up with an orbiting ship for a  voyage back to Earth.

December 2010 – Probaway.wordpress.com – web posts

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Here are the posts published in December 2010 on probaway.wordpress.com:

  1. TIME’s Person of the Year 2010 reviewed from 500 years

  2. Is Hans Van Ripper a model for Jack the Ripper?

  3. Race mixing in the United States and New York.

  4. What is important and what can I do about it?

  5. TIME- Person of the Year 2010 – race to the finish.

  6. Life adapts to poisonous arsenic in Mono Lake

  7. Collapse by Michael Ruppert – From the Wilderness – review

  8. America continues to sell its dreams.

  9. Syphilis and tobacco were America’s “gifts” to the Old World.

  10. The media empowers the destroyers of humanity.

  11. Bernie Madoff for President

  12. “Free” Stuff found on the web you might want, but cheaper.

  13. TIME – Person of the Year 2010 – final votes

  14. I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas with Vera-Ellen.

  15. Zuckerberg is TIME’s Person of the Year 2010

  16. Human happiness for 10,000 years needs purpose.

  17. What Jesus really said about The Golden Rule.

  18. Sentimental Christmas Songs from Probaway

  19. Oh no! I just ate some rotten food. Now what?

  20. Estimating the total world population of humans – historical.

  21. Earth is different from space and so am I.

  22. The latest news on American’s death statistics.

  23. Who cares what Jesus looked like?

  24. Stop lying to Virginia about Santa Claus. Lying hurts children!

  25. Lose weight on a fantastic Christmas diet.

  26. How ordinary people can be happy without a comforting lie.

  27. People love themselves more than they love you.

  28. How to motivate Americans to be productive.

  29. How to find places on Earth from memory.

  30. How to make a map of the Earth from memory.

  31. Humanity’s failure to understand problems is nothing new.

November 2010 – Probaway.wordpress.com – web posts

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Here are the posts published in November 2010 on probaway.wordpress.com:

  1. Everything should be legalized BUT !!!

  2. Home ownership, rent or live abroad.

  3. William James – What Is an Emotion

  4. Artificial gravity for astronauts

  5. The Office – flu preparations – TV review S7 – E7

  6. Measuring pain in old dying people

  7. Is humanity worth saving? No? Yes? Maybe?

  8. Eureka! I finally see my problem.

  9. Why was a missile launched from Los Angeles harbor?

  10. Swindling and Selling by Arthur A Leff – Book review

  11. “MYSTERIOUS MISSILE LIGHTS UP THE SKY OVER THE PACIFIC” review

  12. Aspirin can save your life or kill you.

  13. Wandering minds need a positive goal to be happy.

  14. The EarthArk Project – Index page is listed by date posted.

  15. Appreciating other people.

  16. Cholera was expected, preventable and treatable.

  17. Stephen Hawking on God, existence and our Universe

  18. Decision Points by George W. Bush – book review

  19. Do Americans have more mental illness than CNBC?

  20. Abe Lincoln photograph

  21. TIME person of the year – the pre-selection list.

  22. Coolerado air-conditioner

  23. Self analysis and self defense

  24. Zero-sum games for individuals are destructive activities for humanity.

  25. Ambrose Bierce, a lovable curmudgeon.

  26. A new and improved bookmark

  27. Waiting for other people’s decisions is tedious.

  28. TIME – Person of the Year – 1960-2010 self critique

  29. George W. Bush and God

  30. TIME – Person of the Year 2010 analysis

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