Archive for the ‘lifeboat’ category: Page 11

Jul 31, 2013

There Is No Need For An End

Posted by in categories: education, lifeboat

The imposition of compositional structure within the craft of writing was recently pointed out to me. As students we are told repeatedly to open, elaborate and conclude a writing work. This carries on into so-called professional life. Indeed the questions that arise during the course of any given writing work are outside the scope of the work itself, the material of the work deals with facts and recommendations, which are based on our conclusions. To end a piece of professional or student work without conclusions and with questions would be seen as a lack of seriousness. We believe time invested into investigation is only worthy if we emerge with answers. And the answers we are to have begin with our original questions and are influenced by the way we approach the questions. And yet we approach the questions knowing they will need to be answered and so our opening approach is very limited. We not only formulate opening questions we feel we will have a good chance of answering, but our entire attention during the duration of looking at the question is focused on finding an answer. So where is the originality then in our thought? And where is the opportunity to explore the limitations of thought itself as it is applied to the complexity and urgency of matters in the world? If my opening point of inquiry is designed to be something I know I can find an answer for, then certainly I have no opportunity to go beyond what I know to address it, not really, and so there is nothing new. And if I begin a problem knowing I will be judged on finding an answer for that problem then I will necessarily limit or eliminate any point of fact or inquiry that takes me from that task. The generally accepted process and presentation of writing today is linear and monolithic in an academic and professional context. We talk about complexity and interrelatedness but we judge, evaluate and reward a written approach to that complexity and interrelatedness according to how well it fits into what we already know and according to the standards we have already found to be acceptable. Because we are bound to our knowledge and our processes of merit through training, repetition, various forms of aggrandizement and institutional awareness, however subtle or overt, we disregard or penalize information and modalities that fall outside our realm of knowing. Therein, the places we go to fulfill our knowing may expand (geographically or otherwise) but the way we approach and arrive at knowing remains the same. Although some may develop original technical innovations, those technical innovations will be used as tools to serve the knowledge system that is already established within any given realm of inquiry.

Our assumptions and biases about knowledge creation are interwoven with our experiences, our interpretations of those experiences, and our identification with the experiences and interpretations. Patterns emerge and we craft a self through the mosaic and soon that mosaic can stand in for our self. When that mosaic of experience and interpretation is cultivated through authority and the authority of our own experience and sense of self, we will extend our sense of authority into the realm of that which we already know. In this we are setting up a subtle preoccupation with what we know and with the familiar way we arrive at knowledge while simultaneously we derive a prejudice against what we do not know and also any unknown means to cultivate the known.

For example, pretend I am a teacher with a PhD, many people have applauded my research and I publish books, give famous lectures and have tenure at a prestigious school. I feel confident in my work and consider myself to be an authority in my field. A student comes along who does not know me and takes my class for the first time. She questions my logic and says my class is a bore. She tells me my exams do not test her knowledge of the subject but instead test her ability to repeat my version of the subject. She writes a paper calling into doubt the major premises of my field, to which I have contributed the most popularly followed lines of inquiry and she proposes an entirely new approach to the field and ends her paper with grand questions about the nature of intellectual thought. How do I approach this? In a typical situation I would question the student’s credibility as a student. I would consider her farfetched and someone who is incapable of understanding the subject matter. I would have trouble finding a way to give her a passing course score. She would be a problem to fix or to solve or to ignore. Never would I consider that perhaps she had a point. Why? I assumed the ascendency of my own knowledge based on my own sense of authority. Because the student operated outside my realm of knowledge and outside my sense of appropriateness in the acquisition of knowledge, I decided she was wrong. Invisible to me are my own assumptions of authority, including my assumption that authority has validity. Even though I have a wide set of experiences related to a branch of knowledge I am unable to see that those experiences are necessarily limited because I have only had a certain set of them, no matter how vaunted, and that knowledge itself is limited because it is always about what is already known. So I approach my student as if she is a problem instead of approaching her as a person with insight that may also be valid and should be explored. If we use something that is already known to approach what is new, how can we really approach it? The new will consistently be framed according to its relationship or lack of relationship with what has been established. And as has already been stated, what has been established is where authority has been placed, including our reverence for all the things we have already authorized.

Many of us operate in this field of inquiry, discovery and selfhood and it is apparent when we review our written forays into the realms of global problem solving discourse. So often we conclude. So often we have answers and set approaches to solving problems. So often we solicit recommendations for action. But rarely do we ponder over, except that which we have relegated to philosophy. In the realms of activity (politics, business, economics, education, health, environment, etc.) we theorize action, take action or meet to form a new activity. We say events and circumstances are too urgent to stop for too much thought, but in our haste, our actions themselves lead to further reasons to have to meet again to reorient ourselves. Our writing becomes a part of this process. We write in order to validate our next action and we guide that writing according to what we think that action should be. We rarely write to discover the appropriate terms upon which our action should be based. We rarely question the terms upon which our previous action has been based. We rarely inquire into our standards, we just try to find novel ways to meet them.

Continue reading “There Is No Need For An End” »

Jul 8, 2013

KurzweilAI is promoting our book today!

Posted by in categories: futurism, lifeboat

KurzweilAI is promoting our book today at…load-today

Spread the word!

P.S. You can interact with the author of the book at

May 24, 2013

Why does Science Fiction gravitate towards Dystopia and not the Utopia that Transhumanism promises?

Posted by in categories: ethics, futurism, lifeboat, media & arts, philosophy, singularity

Memories_with_maya_dystopia_Dirrogate_small front_cover_Mwm

Of the two images above, as a typical Science Fiction reader, which would you gravitate towards? In designing the cover for my book I ran about 80 iterations of 14 unique designs through a group of beta readers, and the majority chose the one with the Green tint. (design credit: Dmggzz)

No one could come up with a satisfying reason on why they preferred it over the other, except that it “looked more sci-fi” I settled for the design on the right, though it was a very hard decision to make. I was throwing away one of the biggest draws to a book — An inviting Dystopian book cover.

As an Author (and not a scientist) myself, I’ve noticed that scifi readers seem to want dystopian fiction –exclusively. A quick glance at reader preferences in scifi on sites such as GoodReads shows this. Yet, from noticing Vampire themed fiction rule the best seller lists, and from box office blockbusters, we can assume, the common man and woman is also intrigued by Longevity and Immortality.

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Apr 19, 2013

Bitcoin’s Dystopian Future

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cybercrime/malcode, economics, ethics, finance, futurism, information science, lifeboat, open source, policy

I have seen the future of Bitcoin, and it is bleak.

The Promise of Bitcoin

If you were to peek into my bedroom at night (please don’t), there’s a good chance you would see my wife sleeping soundly while I stare at the ceiling, running thought experiments about where Bitcoin is going. Like many other people, I have come to the conclusion that distributed currencies like Bitcoin are going to eventually be recognized as the most important technological innovation of the decade, if not the century. It seems clear to me that the rise of distributed currencies presents the biggest (and riskiest) investment opportunity I am likely to see in my lifetime; perhaps in a thousand lifetimes. It is critically important to understand where Bitcoin is going, and I am determined to do so.


Mar 29, 2013

Life and Boats

Posted by in categories: lifeboat, sustainability

In an enormously influential article published in 1974 in Psychology Today, and in a longer version published later that year in BioScience, Garrett Hardin introduced the metaphor of the lifeboat for economic and ethical consideration. This conceptual construction was intended as an improvement over the then-popular ecological metaphor of “spaceship earth” coined by Kenneth Boulding in 1966. Interestingly, in the opening paragraph of “Living on a lifeboat”, Hardin indicates that metaphors in general may be understood as only an early stage in mentally approaching difficult problems, and that this stage may be surpassed as theory advances and becomes more rigorous.

In Hardin’s analogy, large entities such as nations or the biosphere are likened to a boat, while smaller entities – for example, migrating individuals or groups – are likened to swimmers trying to board the already cramped vessel and exploit whatever resources are on board. In the imagined scenario, it is believed that the boat is near carrying capacity, but exactly how near is not known with certainty given the many future possibilities. A central question focuses on at what point, if any, the risk of sinking the entire boat outweighs the good provided for each additional rescued swimmer.

The metaphor of the lifeboat has structured thought about conservation, economics, ethics, and any number of other disciplinary areas for decades. The question I would like to pose is the following: Is the lifeboat scenario still (or was it ever) an apt metaphor for structuring thought about ethical conservation of resources, or have we reached a stage where the boat should be scuttled in favor of either a new metaphor or more literal language? Please feel free to post any thoughts you may have on this issue.

Mar 19, 2013

Ten Commandments of Space

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, biological, biotech/medical, cosmology, defense, education, engineering, ethics, events, evolution, existential risks, futurism, geopolitics, habitats, homo sapiens, human trajectories, life extension, lifeboat, military, neuroscience, nuclear energy, nuclear weapons, particle physics, philosophy, physics, policy, robotics/AI, singularity, space, supercomputing, sustainability, transparency

1. Thou shalt first guard the Earth and preserve humanity.

Impact deflection and survival colonies hold the moral high ground above all other calls on public funds.

2. Thou shalt go into space with heavy lift rockets with hydrogen upper stages and not go extinct.

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Jan 5, 2013

Gravity Modification – What Is The Record?

Posted by in categories: business, defense, economics, education, lifeboat, particle physics, physics, policy, space, transparency

If, we as a community, are intending to accelerate the development of interstellar travel we have to glower at the record and ask ourselves some tough questions. First, what is the current record of the primary players? Second, why is everyone afraid to try something outside the status quo theories?

At the present time the primary players are associated with the DARPA funded 100-Year Starship Study, as Icarus Interstellar who is cross linked with The Tau Zero Foundation and Centauri Dreams is a team member of the 100YSS. I was surprised to find Jean-Luc Cambier on Tau Zero.

Gary Church recently put the final nail in the Icarus Interstellar‘s dreams to build a rocket ship for interstellar travel. In his post on Lifeboat, Cosmic Ray Gorilla Gary Church says “it is likely such a shield will massive over a thousand tons”. Was he suggesting that the new cost of an interstellar rocket ship is not 3.4x World GDP but 34x or 340x World GDP? Oops!

Let us look at the record. Richard Obousy of Icarus Interstellar and Eric Davis of Institute for Advanced Studies claimed that it was possible, using string theories to travel at not just c, the velocity of light but at 1E32c, or c multiplied by a 1 followed by 32 zeros. However, Lorentz-FitzGerald transformations show that anything with mass cannot travel faster than the velocity of light. Note that Lorentz-FitzGerald is an empirical observation which was incorporated into Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity.

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Jan 1, 2013

2012 was Great and may 2013 be Extraordinary

Posted by in categories: business, education, engineering, ethics, fun, human trajectories, lifeboat, media & arts, open access, open source, policy, scientific freedom, space, transparency

May peace break into your home and may thieves come to steal your debts.
May the pockets of your jeans become a magnet for $100 bills.
May love stick to your face like Vaseline and may laughter assault your lips!
May happiness slap you across the face and may your tears be that of joy
May the problems you had, forget your home address!

In simple words .….….……May 2013 be EXTRAORDINARY … the best year of your life!!! Simply the best New Year greeting anyone has sent to me. This was from Robert White of Extraordinary People.

This morning I checked the Lifeboat stats for 2012. When I started blogging for Lifeboat at the end of July, we ended July 2012 with 42,771 unique visitors. We closed 2012 with 90,920 unique visitors for the month December. Wow! Our blogging has become more relevant, and more thought provoking. As a community of bloggers (with the exception of one) we have moved away from the 3 Cs of pseudoscience. Clouding the field. Confusing the public’s perception. Chasing away talent.

How did we do this? By backing up our discussions with hard facts, robust debate and real numbers. From years if not decades of investigation in our field of research. By speaking from our own unique experience. By sharing that unique experience with our readers.

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Dec 31, 2012

13: The Year of The Comet

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, counterterrorism, defense, economics, ethics, events, existential risks, futurism, geopolitics, habitats, human trajectories, lifeboat, military, philosophy, policy, space, sustainability, transparency

A happy new year to the human race from it’s most important member; me. Since self-worship seems to be the theme of the new American ideal I had better get right with me.

With my government going over the fiscal cliff it would appear that the damned soul of Ayn Rand is exerting demonic influence on the political system through worship of the individual. The tea party has the Republicans terrified of losing their jobs. Being just like me, those individuals consider themselves the most important person on the planet- so I cannot fault them.

As Ayn Rand believed, “I will not die, it’s the world that will end”, so who cares about the collective future of the human race? Towards the end of 2013 the heavens may remind us the universe does not really care about creatures who believe themselves all important. The choice may soon be seen clearly in the light of the comet’s tail; the glorification of the individual and the certain extinction of our race, or the acceptance of a collective goal and our continued existence.

Ayn Rand made her choice but most of us have time to choose more wisely. I pray for billions, tens and hundreds of billions of dollars- for a Moonbase.

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Nov 18, 2012

Visualizing the World and its Dangers

Posted by in categories: existential risks, lifeboat, particle physics, rants

I want to start a project of better visualization of the problems we face. We ask children to visualize in school but we all could use it. In the common economic discussions trillion dollar budgets and a million dollars are discussed interchangeability shows lack of visualization. The West is heading for currency collapse but austerity measures in Greece just add to unemployment not debt reduction, why is this so hard to visualize?

One clear way to shore up the US economy is to end foreign bases and end the embargo of Cuba. Boycotts hurt both sides, the Cuban economy is smaller so it hurts them more. The US economy is shaky so at some point embargo’s may be the straw that makes us fall apart.

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