To What Do We Evolve?

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Yakusugi Land, Yakushima, Japan: ‘steps’

From the micro-verse of a Tokyo Starbucks.

It seems that we have been striving since we gained thinking ability to separate ourselves from our animal impulses. This is on our way to what? What shall we evolve to?

Thinkers including Nick Bostrom, Ray Kurzweil and Alan Guth have argued that we may be living in a simulation. If so, what can our striving evolve to? If our universe was indeed created by highly advanced beings, who compared to us can be described as gods, then it would be to evolve to gods ourselves as Giulio Prisco has suggested. Applying my own human based spin on this as my imagination explodes, craves an answer to the question, what would motivate a god? We basically want to satisfy our urges, survive and reproduce. A god would have no need of that. All of our pleasure is derived from our animal base. I think the concept of pleasure as it relates to a god simply does not compute. Maybe a god exists in an extra universal realm or dimension beyond pleasure. I will call it a bliss-field. Maybe that is what we ultimately strive for.

I will set my imagination on that for a while…

Pleasure vs. Pain

One of my missions is to gain some understanding of this life and the Universe which contains it and share that with others. One of the past philosophers I respect the most is Friedrich Nietzsche and last night I watched a video by The School of Life which summarized his writings. This was of great help to me, as working my way through “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” is slow going.

If I understand Nietzsche’s philosophy correctly it says our purpose is to struggle to actualize our will and that this may involve pain. Yet I believe the pain/pleasure dichotomy evolved in our animal ancestors simply so that a self replicating molecule would be copied into the future.

As we embrace technology and move past our primitive hardwiring, I wonder:
Must we continue to endure physical or psychological pain?

A contemporary philosopher thinks not. His name is David Pearce and you may find his ideas interesting. His website is called The Hedonistic Imperative.

Best explorations to you…

 

Compilation from The Coffeehouse Philosopher

Brain sufficiently infused with “Old Grandpa” from Urth Cafe (the darkest roast I’ve found), Momo-chan starting her morning catnap on a pillow next to me kindly ignoring my keystrokes and before I must get practical and start my day in the ‘real world’, a few thoughts:

Practicality – common folk have it naturally, probably because they(we) have no other choice. The highly intelligent must choose it though. It is necessary for getting along with the current set of circumstances we call ‘life’ at any given time.

One can argue for a better way, but if the current system is entrenched and intractable and ninety percent of the population is fine with it, fighting it will take generations of smart folk chipping away at it for it to finally budge. So, while it is noble and desirable to tilt at it at every opportunity, if one wishes to have some semblance of success in life one must work practically within the offending system.

This is the same with any group throughout history where generations who had been subjugated had to find a way to survive and flourish the best they could within the system while taking the occasional swipe at it, the repercussions for which were estimated to be nonlethal.

So on it is with my day of practicality, all the while on the lookout for a gap in the armor of ignorance which will not bring forth a lethal response.

 

The Status Quo:
Society dismisses genius until genius captures and carries off the future, average folk kicking, screaming and denying it all the way until it is history and everyone accepts it.

 

Shall We Fear Designer Babies?
I suppose that my title is rather misleading. “Designer” tends to imply aesthetics which is not what I am writing about. I am writing of our future survival. If we develop gene repair techniques which prevent illness and they are designed into our progeny, then I think “designer baby” fits.

Since we no longer follow natural evolution, aka natural selection, negative mutations will continue to creep into our collective genomes and be propagated (my myopia for example). In other words, if random mutations drove evolution, without selection pressure now, mutations will cause a decline in fitness. So we have developed corrective lenses, insulin and everything else our technology has allowed in order to overcome the results of the declining fitness of our genes.

The principle of ‘survival of the fittest’ throughout our evolutionary past brought us to this point but we stepped beyond what mere nature could do many, many years ago. The first hominid who cared for a sick tribe member essentially put the first nail in the coffin of natural selection for humans. Today, no longer do the individuals with the most genetic advantages necessarily produce the most offspring who make it to reproductive maturity. This is why I need corrective lenses in order to see well enough not to be eaten by a predator (or be run over by a car).

For those who fear technology and the tampering with our genomes, the other two alternatives are far more terrifying. I believe the Hitler regime toyed with one and other would involve going back to nature’s survival of the fittest rule (sadly, I imagine that if civilization collapsed we would go back to the latter automatically). So, we really have no acceptable choice but to continue to embrace technology. And what better way to do that than to do it at the source code? Everything else are mere patches or the alleviation of symptoms.

In our extropian future, as long as we remain biologically based, that is, we will continue to seek improvements to our bodies and minds and to undo the damage caused by the ‘errors’ that have crept into our code.

Besides a potential gene therapy to alleviate a scourge of humanity such as cancer, selfishly, I ‘hope to Scientist’ that a gene therapy is developed that can correct myopia. Would it not be nice if we all received a shot along with our other vaccinations in childhood and no one ever had to wear glasses again?

 

May 10, 2015  Don’t Call Me White…
Don’t call me ‘white’…or a ‘man’ or a ‘North American’ or even a ‘Human’. However, most who might encounter me on the street or hear me speak would likely pronounce me all of these. But must we identify ourselves in this manner? It seems that this only serves to separate us. With the coming New Paradigm of Humanity and a transhuman future, unification will be necessary.

A fractured civilization cannot move efficiently into a peaceful and sustainable future. Where there are groups, there is subjugation and where their is subjugation there is strife. Where their is strife there will be war and other violence and at the very least this is will stunt our growth. At the most it will destroy us. This extends far beyond our little ball of rock and water.

When we do encounter another intelligence, possibly one far more advanced, I hope they consider us their brothers(gender neutral but such is our silly language) rather than some separate group to compete with, dominate or enslave. So even categorizing ourselves with a seemingly benign term such as ‘Earthling’ could ultimately prove to be limiting or segregating. We must eventually seek inclusion with all self-aware, self-replicating systems of information and energy and consider all of us kindred entities.

Think about it please. Must we state that we are man or woman, French or Italian, gay, straight or bi, Human or Vulcan? Each identifier or label takes on a life of its own and propagates and perpetuates a limitation. I wish for us to be limitless.

I wish for us to go beyond mere tolerance of diversity. I wish to unify; not to take away differences but rather, to disregard them for anything that matters. In this vision we are all different but equal parts of a unified whole.

How bizarre might it seem to an intelligence from another part of our galaxy to learn that those who happen to live on Earth choose to group intelligent beings based on the wavelength of light reflected by their body covering? Maybe I’m from anther planet because it seems bizarre to me.

I hope one day we will be judged worthy of inclusion with the other self-aware, self-replicating systems of information and energy in our Universe.

 

April 27, 2015  The Death of Evil
Once our lifespans become indefinite, beauty and intelligence are but an upgrade away, access to resources is universal and the difference between individuals has dissolved away, so too will have competition, and with it the last flicker of evil.

November 23, 2014  CoffeeHouse Philosophy #27
Pusscat getting his start on the day. "No milk in this cat's coffee!"

Seeking Reasons to Feel Good About Ourselves

Navigating the labyrinth of the mind – The answers for successfully navigating this world, life and feeling well all reside there. Tracing the pathways to a beneficial set of beliefs, thoughts and perception of reality can be challenging. It took me practically a lifetime to determine that this was even possible (and still, I must remind myself of this each day). Must our sense of self worth come from events in the external world? It seems that our minds try to tell us so. I happen to have a hobby of growing bamboo. The other night I discovered a languishing bamboo culm (stalk) on a new specimen I had planted. Was this caused by gophers or something falling against it? I felt I must save it regardless. The leaves were curling, it was loose in the dirt, attached to one long, spindly root and sure to perish. Later I thought about how good I would feel about myself if I succeeded in starting new plants from sections of this compromised culm. How odd, looking for a reason to feel good about myself! Evolutionarily there is a healthy and natural part to this since animals need something to motivate them to live and flourish. That something is impulse satisfaction. If an animal did not feel something negative when it failed to satisfy an urge it may not attempt to improve its tactics. Even though we have free will and advanced intelligence, we still run to a large extent on impulse satisfaction. We however, have a unique challenge apart from other animals. When we fail at satisfying a desire, we think about it. All manner of things are invented to explain external occurrences and we assign meaning. The damaging mind-inventions are the ones that say something like, ‘I am inferior and this is why’. Having been through our own experiences both positive and negative we have each formed and set into memory, unique pathways through the maze of our psyche. Thus we have varying ‘programs’ running in the background affecting our perception of the world. Some of us attempt to prove to ourselves that we are ‘OK’ as this would in turn mean that we are worthy of the life we desire. If we are trapped in this ‘proving to our self mode’, we must somehow upgrade to the ‘confidently moving forward with plans mode’ if we wish to advance. The proving mode, suggests an underlying belief of insufficiency. This is akin to a ‘bug’ in the software. It might be interesting during periods of introspection or meditation to tease out the self defeating programs and follow their pathway back from whence they came. We desire success just as we desire a meal when hungry. However to crave continuous little successes in order to feel worthy seems like an addiction. This suggests a focus on, or a perception of some basic lack. Satisfying the addiction takes the place of something more fundamental such as a natural sense of self worth. At the very least it is worth a bit of exploration through the paths of the forest of our mind.

 

November 1, 2014  Coffeehouse Philosopher #26
Fujioka blue butterfly.
Fujioka Blue Butterfly

Flaws and Beauty

 Some of us fret and worry if whether everything is “right” or “as it should be” especially as this relates to ourselves (“why am I this way or that way when our vision of ‘ideal’ is different”). The argument can be made that the current physical state of humanity is the result of nothing more than chance mutations some of which happened to be coveted by nature long ago. These past mutations which made it far into the future were not right or wrong. They simply happened to work for a particular set of circumstances in a particular environment. We cherish a particular set of traits today but the mutations which caused their emergence were not correct or incorrect, they just were. A different set of circumstances in a different environment would provoke a different path of evolution and maybe a different opinion of what is beautiful.

What if we had evolved in an environment which happened to include a giant bird of prey which only selected as a food source, humans with the physical features we consider today to be the most aesthetically pleasing? It is likely that today we would have a different opinion of what is beautiful. As another example let us assume that humans only evolved living on the sides of a steep mountain with a nomadic way of life and only traveled in one direction around the mountain. If this were the case, the “ideal” might be to have one leg shorter than the other and at a particular ratio to the other.

So one can see from this that what is favorable is also flexible. The same process of random changes which caused what we consider to be beauty today also caused the things we consider to be defects. My nearsightedness or myopia, for example is usually considered a defect. Yet, I can think up a theoretical environment where it would be an advantage. When I remove my glasses and bring some specimen to within inches of my eyes I can see detail which others cannot. A world close-in where we had to differentiate between edible or poisonous plants based upon minute visual cues and no reason to look far would favor the nearsighted.

My myopia is neither right or wrong, it just is. Energy and time fretting over it is time and energy that could be used more beneficially. This is the thought process I used to navigate through the maze of this one tiny corner of the human experience. It has helped me and maybe it will benefit others as well.

 

August 3, 2014  The Coffeehouse Philosopher #25

UNDERSTANDING

I really did not ‘know’ who I was for most of my life. Indeed my understanding of Self is continuing to grow even now. If one observes their emotions and probes the source of each, one may find the point where a wave of misunderstanding is propagating from one’s distant history into the present moment.

Of all of the gifts which evolution (or ‘God’ if you must) has given us, “thought” is most significant. Other animals can run, jump, play, sleep, fight and procreate but of all life’s creatures we have as our strongest ability that of thought and reason. It follows then that as thinking entities, thought will provide our greatest return in life. It also follows that by utilizing thought we enhance the satisfaction we find in our more basic processes. As an example, in thinking about what we eat and we may discover a more healthy, enjoyable, long term practice instead of simply eating the first edible thing that happens along our path. In this case, thought enhances a basic impulse.

Most animals operate on impulse and only react to situations through instincts (analogous to our emotions). We have the ability to think through these emotions.

I personally am not ready to give up my positive animal based joys however at the least I can think through their processes. In doing so I might determine if a particular activity which I have been repeating is being true to the Self which I have determined that I am.

If I feel a slight or potential threat from another must I rush to an automatic response which has its root in a million plus year old wave or can I think through the situation and determine the response consistent with the Self I have decided that I flow from?

Substitute the “I” above with “we” or “our group” and determine if something like war is really necessary or unavoidable.

Laws are a crude attempt at civility and we tend to accept ‘culture’ over law.

Can we not become a culture of thinkers?

 

July 27, 2014  Coffeehouse Philosophy #24
Sunday – At home at the Villa Zee Zaw observing Tomas-the-cat for any reaction to starting her on insulin. I lost Pusscat to chronic kidney failure on June 1st and now this, my second oldest significant feline has been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus. The Doc says that this is not as serious as renal failure. We will just to the best we can. Since taking the photo she is awake now as I type this and eyeing longingly my eggs al Irish Cheddar, dried garlic, truffle and olive oil. This is paired with Urth Cafe’s Old Grandpa, their darkest roast done by Melitta Pour-over.

This Weeks Observations:

Some of us have minds historically trapped at various points in our understanding of and relationship with reality. This sounds at first like insanity but since reality is, a) flexible and b) a perception, maybe not so much upon further thought.

Our vision of self has been shaped by our perception of other’s perceptions of ourselves.

This reminds me of a quote I had heard some time ago:
“I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am” – Thomas Cooley, Inscriptions: Prairie Poetry

Thought Exercises:

If I was recently cloned, which one of us would be the real Peaceman4tja3?

Would I lament death as much with the knowledge that the younger “me” would continue after? Probably, since he is not me.

We would be identical genetically yet two separate and un-linked consciousnesses. Separate just like we are from each of the rest of humanity.

I am unique and separate compared to my theoretical clone because I cannot experience his thoughts directly or his precise perception of reality. Nor can he mine.

We are each Separate and each of us only experiences our own version of reality. That is why we want to continue and why we resist death. We do not want to think about a reality without us in it, to perceive of it.

Maybe in our trans-human future instead of uploading our individual consciousness into a new physical version of ourselves or into a separate cyberspace to cheat death we can be uploaded together into one mass expression of human consciousness.

If all were allowed one physical life after birth and then at death be uploaded into a common realm of pure information and energy…
Might we call that heaven?

With all of humanity thus linked together in a common continuum we could each experience a multitude of different consciousnesses.

After time had passed and we had experienced everyone else’s unique contribution to the unit maybe the unit would start behaving as a cohesive whole.

What might such an intelligent and knowledgeable entity be interested in pursuing?

Adding to its energy and information?

Battling entropy?

Escaping the Big Crunch?

Maybe an advanced and concentrated mass of intelligence and energy would operate outside of the ‘normal’ laws of physics, entropy-free. Maybe it can jump from universe to universe or even exist in a pre-universe, independent of a universe or possibly even Be a Universe.

Can it be that this is what our Universe is and we are part of its expression after it became nostalgic for physicality?

 

July 13, 2014  Coffeehouse & Villa Zee Zaw Thoughts #20/#4
Pusscat getting his start on the day. "No milk in this cat's coffee!"
It seems to me that at various periods of my life I have lived from different chambers of a flexible mind. The current chamber is telling me that if I really want to make a meaningful and positive contribution to society that I need to dedicate a major chunk of time to thought and writing. To do that I require a support system. Currently my support system and my thought and writing time are in competition for my attention. As either wins a greater share the other suffers. The paradox is that if my support system was advanced enough I would have the time to think and write all that I desire.

A recent revelation that I have had is that when there is a paradox or an unclear best choice, one should look for the most practical solution and get done what needs to be done.

For this reason I am going to have to put my writing and the pondering of the mysteries of the Universe and those of this human world on the “back burner” so to speak while I build my support system(business) to a more advanced state and a more self supporting entity. So my blog posting will at best now be more sporadic. I will still attempt to splice together the daily observations that I allow myself in between the practical business of building a business.

What follows are some observations I’ve had over the last few weeks:

6-30-2014
Do we have a choice of what we think about and how we think about it? Can we choose not to dwell upon painful, trivial or unproductive things? Can we recognize when limiting, incorrect or self defeating thoughts enter our consciousness? It seems to me that many people cannot do these things. Otherwise we would not have so many people exhibiting addictions or seeking help for psychological angst.

Rather than accepting the current imperfect system completely, embracing it and just “doing life” the best we can, I wonder if there might be a better way. Possibly some sort of a blend between acceptance, exploitation of the system and working to change it. Accept what currently is and exploit it to obtain our material needs. This will also create our desired local environment and time. Then with that liberated time, engage creatively in our life’s work which might be that of bettering humanity. Exploitation sounds harsh but it is what we all do in order to survive(think about a humming bird who exploits the facts that flowers contain nectar and that they happen to have a long tongue).

7-4-2014
Nature is a system that works and not for the benefit of any one organism. As we evolve non-biologically through technology, knowledge and understanding we are taking ourselves out of nature per se but that does not give us the right to take down what spawned us in the first place. If for no other reason than “it is”, nature should be left alone. However a practical reason to not sully this natural system with our inventions is that of an insurance policy, should we, this offshoot of life fail or be wiped out by some unforeseen circumstance. The theory is that the natural system of life, left to its own designs would again, eventually produce advanced intelligence.

7-11-2014
On the way to do some shopping I looked out the window and saw only the ugliness of a society mired in “put ’em up cheap” condos, a few types of mass industrially-cloned plants and prepackaged everything including our idols and heroes. Everything has been brought down to the lowest common denominator. It seems as if I am seeking authenticity where this is none.

In the stead of offering an education to everyone equally, the level of which is based upon ability, we doll it out based upon family wealth. To keep the masses from revolting we produce entertainment and cheap goods to keep them pacified.

Yes we all enjoy a rising standard of living but it withers in comparison to what it could be. Our progress is nothing compared to what it could be if people were allowed to rise to their individual innate abilities rather than have an education (or lack of) dictated by the ability of one’s recent ancestors to compete for position in a flawed society. I wonder how many would-be researchers or inventors are toiling away at menial tasks so they can purchase their processed food, plastic toys and worship the factory produced sports hero or entertainer du jour? What might they create if they had been exposed to other possibilities, possibilities which could drive their evolving interests from a young age and then educated based not on family income but on interest and ability?

I am anticipating what you are now thinking and maybe it goes something like this, “Ok, Peaceman, fine but we already know that things are not as they could be. What are you doing about it?” My hope is that before I check out of this system of matter that I will have left behind something that, even if only incrementally, furthers our quest for humanity’s improvement. I’ll certainly let you all know when the book is published.

Rest In Peace PussCat, 1996 – 6/1/2014

 

Date: June 28, 2014  The CoffeeHouse Philosopher #19
Krakatoa Coffee House 7:00a.m.

What if we are really infinite light-beings
Existing in a realm of energy and information
What some call quantum
Others say spiritual
And what if we each were granted but one physical life
To experience the sensate
With no User Manual
Nor knowledge of the fact
Once back home after entropy did its deed
Once they realized they’d blown their one chance
At a fully lived life
I bet there’d be a lot of pissed off light-beings

 

June 12, 2014  Coffeehouse Thoughts #18
This morning I am enjoying a double hammerhead at Cafe Moto made with Indo Noir and FT Espresso Moto for the espresso component.

If we boil everything down to its most basic form as far as our desires, goals and evolving intelligence goes – I wonder if all we can really hope to do is satisfy our animal impulses and leave something behind that increases order.

One is transitory and one is lasting.