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Comment Re:Anthropological principle (Score 1) 187

You look at humans and see consciousness. I look at humans and see life. I see no difference between the two.

Nope there's a slight difference in how the word consciousness is used. I do NOT look at humans and see consciousness. If I look at other humans, all I can see is brains (and life, as you put it), and if I think about it, I assume those brains are conscious. BUT I cannot see their consciousness. Only I can "see" my consciousness, and it isn't even a seeing in any normal sense of, a subject looking at an object, because for me, consciousness is the subject, or to get religious, the Supreme Subject or Supreme Self, but that woo language isn't necessary, albeit poetic, it is just that, if I wasn't conscious, then I would experience nothing, and not even nothing, there could be no sense of "experiencing nothing" because experience itself, of anything, would simply not be, for me. I would not be. The analogies for consciousness are that it is a mirror on which everything is reflected, but the mirror itself is not made of anything, it is more like "space" or "emptiness". Again, poetic, but just that's consciousness.

Life is consciousness, and vice versa.

You experience consciousness as the ability to think, to say to yourself, "this is why I am doing this."

Again, not quite. Descartes said, "I think therefore I am" but he was mistranslated! It was more like, "Being, therefore Existence". A dog may be sentient, but that doesn't mean it has thoughts about itself. Man 500,000 years ago may have been sentient, but the contents of his experience didn't include thought out questions like, "why am I doing this", rather, he may have operated purely on instinct, but also, experienced his life, or given he didn't have the thought, "my life", he may simply have experienced running down large animals and experienced his hunger satiated by the flesh. Likewise elephants might be sentient but because they lack the neurones for abstract reasoning, they just hang about in their herd and look for water, experiencing life on the savannah like that.

Sadly, the FMRI machine, transcranial magnets, and some modern science experiments have shown that consciousness is just a side effect, a plausible explanation of our actions fed to the conscious mind by the real workhorse of human action and thought, the non-verbal parts of the brain. For instance, say you decide to move your arm. TOO LATE! Your brain started sending the signal before you consciously thought if it, before you decided, before you thought. Then thought is merely the reflected afterimage of non-conscious/non-verbal modules of the brain, the part of the brain that thinks it is the motivator, the initiator of action when in reality it is merely the translator of actions and thoughts into verbally accessible structures and experiential sensory phenomena. It is almost as if consciousness is just the "seminal memory," an altered version of events that gives the verbal part of the brain an understanding of what has just happened in terms it can relate to, but which actually deviate quite strikingly from actual reality.

Seeing thought and consciousness as the illusion they are, realizing that the actual human experience of life is inaccessible to the verbal mind, and therefore not able to be experienced truthfully, and that every verbalization of experience is fundamentally flawed with the untruths inherent in our experience of reality as "thinking beings" with "consciousness" becomes a little disorienting. Better to take the observation of "life" and "consciousness" outside the organism which we have proven has issues (massive ones!) with internal consistency, objectivity of experience, and even cause and effect.

From outside we see a complex system, reacting to the environment based on a system of internal rules. We call it life. It has movement, structure, and seeming purpose. An issue arises though. This is is in many ways functionally indistinguishable from the levels of complexity we see expressed from sub atomic particles, to atoms, to molecules, to cells, and to other organisms. This thing we call life is made up of the things we call not-alive, and yet, when observed very closely, these not-alive things seem to behave much like life does. The molecules have movement, structure, and seeming purpose. When introduced to other molecules they seem to take action, operating in these actions according to a set of internal rules. Even their constituent parts are the same, having movement, structure, and seeming purpose. They operate according to a set of internal rules and seem to take actions when introduced into an environment with other similar scale parts.

This is a fundamental truth of our universe. There is a fractal arrangement of interactivity, structure, and purpose from the incredibly micro sized up to the macro size. Everywhere we can observe, and at every scale. Some would say this complexity has reach it's pinnacle in the human form. That our intelligence and consciousness is the top of the scale.

I call that arrogance. Hubris if you will. We would be as aware of the levels of organization, structure, and seeming purpose above us as enzymes are aware of cells, as heart cells are of the horse they inhabit.

Our first gods were the sun, earth, moon. If they are the next scale up, who is to say they don't speak the cosmic language of large bodies, expressed in magnetism and gravity, emission spectra and absorption, or forces we cannot yet detect in the dark spectrum? What would they converse about?

Yeah that last part is pretty woo, but would we even know the difference if it were true?

Well, this goes to what I was saying that some people think consciousness is a hard problem, and others dismiss it. The reason you're dismissing it is basically because we know there is a brain and the brain is doing a lot of work which we don't experience. I do not for example, experience the cells in my retinas assembling information into patterns of light and dark and nor do I experience the neurones in my brain which are busy detecting edges in images, and so on, all the way up to the "room, desk, and chair" which I actually experience. So we would conclude that consciousness is just a thin layer or illusion. And there is a lot of truth in that. But see this goes back to my point, why bother being conscious at all?

So, imagine a second that you are as you are, a human operating in the environment, with all processes happening unconsciously in the brain. Imagine, if you will, that you are NOT sentient. Does this feel like it is just a small and unimportant change? DO you mind existing but not experiencing anything of life? Or is that tantamount to being dead?

If that total oblivion is death, like you were in an accident and they restore 99% of your brain function, so you can continue to walk around and go to work, but your conscious experience has vanished, you are no longer sentient, is that like being dead?

Yes, the data which appears in our experience has come via a long chain of processes which we do not experience (all the way back to the big bang actually). And as sentient beings, would we not be "dead" without consciousness?

Comment Re:Yes, it's *giants* all the way down. (Score 2) 125

I mostly agree, plus there's a level of semantics to what we choose to call "genius".

And there's also, not to be ignored, a thing about "emergence". That's when certain conditions make something new possible. And that's a bit different to incremental change. For example, hypothetically, the world has 197 countries (or so) and you could incrementally see blocks merging until maybe there's just 3 counties. Now the difference between 197 and 3 seems big, while the difference between 3 and 0 is small, yet the move from 3 to 0 is arguably the most significant change, as at that point, a very different world becomes possible, a world without borders.

There's other names for this sort of thing, like "network effect" and "tipping point" and so on. A lot of things are around but don't actually make a big impact until there's sufficient adoption. In that sense a company can make an impact if they, through deals and marketing, manage to promote adoption, even if their own technical contribution was minimal.

And it's weird with social things like religion -- if just a few people believe it then it is a crazy whako cult, but if millions believe it then it is a religion and worthy of respect and tax exemptions. O_o

Comment Re:Anthropological principle (Score 5, Interesting) 187

One thing which gets left out is ... I hate to say this but ... consciousness. We know matter exists, and we know consciousness exists, but we really don't know the first thing about how consciousness works. I don't mean information processing, because eventually any robot will be able to do everything a human does, as it is just about having a machine that's processing inputs and converting those to behaviours.

No, the real mystery is why such a robot would even need to be sentient. There is no reason why humans, as we are, need to be sentient. We are just biological machines. We could go about performing human functions and communications all running our complex brains just as we are, just not sentient, not experiencing any of it. One human could say to another, "I love you" as simply a code for certain information which gets processed into various probabilities of scenarios for future survival, and so on. Even poetry can come down to that, given we're now starting to develop machines which can work with intuitive patterns.

So that leaves consciousness as a) totally irrelevant and b) the most core part of our existence as sentient experiencing humans, humans watching the movie of their lives.

A lot of people tend to dismiss consciousness as just a byproduct, but that's maybe just because it is so hard to study that any self respecting person stays well clear of it. But it is also known as the "hard problem" and it is so "hard" that some say we'll need to start thinking about consciousness as another law of the universe, along with the other fundamental laws. And that would eventually start to modify these "anthropic" principles in some way.

As for "gods" well, humans have always had very powerful imaginations, and we make stories, but that's a separate thing altogether, and those stories about identity and belonging are perhaps seen as survival strategies between groups, where rather than physically fight another group, you just reprogram them to act as if they are part of your group already, "owning" as it were, without destroying.

And even if one puts aside survival questions, and one assumes there may be an afterlife, it really is up for grabs what form that could take, as the possibilities are endless and in my mind, either you die and disappear in which case you don't know you're dead, or something else, which could be anything. Nobody knows. But I digress.

Back to the point, ideas like the anthropic principle tend to go a bit too far with their conclusions given that they take no account of consciousness and what part that plays in existence and the cosmos.

And inventing trillions of trillions of other universes as a way to explain why this one happened to be tuned just right for us, is hand-waving and as made up as any myth which was made up as an ad-hoc explanation. An explanation isn't more rigorous just because it avoids mentioning gods or turtles.

We don't know why matter was tuned just right, and we don't know what consciousness is, and we don't know if there is life out there. Although there's no reason to think that Earth is special. I mean, it is more like the naughty corner if anything, you get sent here and ignored until you learn to calm down and behave. (See, stories.)

Comment Re:Whipslash? A suggestion? (Score 1) 895

Yes, we nerds are empowered by facts - not alternate facts.

As a side note, I continue to be amazed by how often the "cover the lie by sticking an adjective in front of it" method is used.

Alternative facts.
Heart-healthy margarine.
Catastrophic global warming.
Peaceful religion.
Natural ... whatever.
Organic ... whatever.

Which isn't to say those things are all lies as such, rather, just how often marketing people use adjectives, rather than explain facts and how those facts were established, and how they were verified repeatedly, without excluding any counter-facts, and free of bias, and objective, and uh... oh ok.

Hey, Wise and Popular Trump everyone!

Comment Re:Arrest him and throw him into Gitmo (Score 1) 626

At least this now highlights that anyone traveling to the US should use "dumb" phones instead, preferably some old device with obscure hardware interface.

I'm planning a visit to USA just as soon as I finish converting my data to binary smoke signals gathered into a jar.

Besides, as far as I can tell, USA became a great nation largely due to a lot of enterprising migrants coming to take advantage of vast natural resources, from places like tired old Europe. And that's great. And I'm sure China is still kicking itself for those emperors who decide that China was "the world" and the rest of the planet was just wastelands of barbarians, not fit to even explore. North America could have been colonised by China. Like, wow.

And I get it that it was largely the excesses of extreme PostModern culture which have made much of the core of USA say, f**k it, let's vote in someone who manifestly is NOT infected with PoMo, and oh look this guy keeps spouting racist stuff, great he's definitely not PC, let's vote for him! Thank you France and Germany for extreme PoMo which so successfully infected USA's academia. Thank you alt-left liberals and extreme reverse-colonialism and extreme catastrophic global warming predictions and extreme anti-prosperity consciousness and all that. Yep, the opportunity was created, and the first opportunist con-man took advantage.

Be that all as it may, one would really hope that border security would be a boring, mundane, technocratic, "do what works and what's efficient" undertaking, free of all that cultural wars stuff. It should be as interesting as plumbing or basket weaving. But instead, y'all seem to have turned it into this politicised pork contracts and hyperbole about stopping terrorists, and brown people, and it is like WTF, you'd expect that from--with all due respect to a small undeveloped African nation who setup the president's nephew as Supreme Director of National Borders to run the system, with consequent hilarity of obnoxious and silly rules, like the time my mom was told she had to change from her trousers into a skirt because women are not supposed to wear trousers (name of small African nation redacted)--but here we have king of silly rules as none other than the greatest nation on earth. Wow.

Comment Re: Well, once the panels are installed (Score 3, Interesting) 415

To be a little glib, the future of energy economics is just two things: gas and pork.

Gas for getting stuff working, and pork for all the people who are making money off of useless "renewables".

At the end of the day, every renewable is backed up by a gas plant. If the future is really without oil and coal and nuclear, as greens want, then everything will be gas.

(This post intentionally simple and glib to make a point.)

Comment Re:Prepare for deluge of stupid (Score 3, Interesting) 481

You're entitled to that opinion. And, if so many people can suffer denialism, how do you or I know that we aren't also suffering from some sort of political bias? I mean it is funny isn't it, that it is always the other people who are the stupid deluded ones. I am, for example, reading a book at the moment that goes into the massive scientific cockup that was nutritional science over the last fifty years. The book got a review in the BMJ to the effect that, admitting indeed that, we all thought science was this clear headed thing and actually, there can be screw ups that ruin an entire field for decades and decades. If you want a fact, people are fallible and whole fields of enquiry can fail spectacularly whilst lots of intelligent smart and skilled people in the field confidently cock it up. That is just a fact of life, that it sometimes happens. So rather than just blast other views as denialists, why not be a little less certain? For me, once a field starts calling others "denialists" then it has become closed minded and loses the self-correcting nature that is supposed to be the reason why we trust science in the first place. It *might* have got the answer right, but once you start blasting others as denialists, we can no longer know whether it can be trusted, because the self-correciton has been replaced with dogma. As I say, we KNOW, empirically, from experience, that whole fields can and do screw up. I will still go to the doctor when I get ill, but I won't blindly trust anything he or she says about nutrition.

Comment Re:Terminology and Bait-and-Switch (Score 1) 366

Actually, exercise can and will change the body's metabolic setpoints such as your resting metabolic rate. But nothing in your calculator can inform you about metabolic setpoints and so you remain misled by your incomplete understanding.

It appears a similar gap in your understanding blinds you to the truth about human triggered climate change.

Well, it is a similar thing. The metabolic set points can be changed, true, but that effect is small and practically useless compared to the real reasons why we gain weight. Just like climate change, we are sadly pursuing the wrong part of the system, the parts which are small and not the real problem. High level sports people are finding that they were not able to lose weight regardless of how well they set their system using athletic levels of exercise. Because that's not the key part of the system. And likewise you can want to see action on climate change all you like, it ain't going to work.

Comment Re:Terminology and Bait-and-Switch (Score 1) 366

In nutrition there's this funny thing where, if you actually add up the calories burned in exercise, it becomes factually silly to think exercise has anything to do with weight loss, and yet, word + dog + medical establishment + science, all keep advising people to exercise more to lose weight. Yet it factually is quite silly to anyone with a calculator who actually thinks to add it up.

Once can easily expend 300 calories per day with relatively light exercise (eg an hour of light jogging), which depending on your body mass will usually be about 15% to 20% of the daily intake of the average untrained adult, assuming moderate physical activity lifestyle and not being grossly under-/overweight. Furthermore, exercise is known to increase the body metabolism and strengthen muscles, both of which contribute to the increased resting energy consumption of the body.

To say that this would substantially contribute to the body's energy balance is not silly at all, it's a reasonable conclusion based on very fundamental physical properties of the universe. Now of course, if one were to compensate for the expended energy they would remain their weight, and I would agree with that, but if you are going to say this is the exception and not the rule then I will ask of you the same I ask of anyone who challenges mainstream science: citation needed bitch.

Well, an hour of jogging is not "easy", and 300 calories is what, to adjust for eating slightly too many potato chips?

Look, I'm getting this from the paleo/primal movement where sports scientist Tim Noakes used to run and run and run and still put on weight. And one day he realised, fuck me this isn't working!

As for fundamental physical properties of the universe, bitch, exercise also works up an appetite and that drives people to eat excess calories. Oh what a great jog for the last hour, oops I now ate a bit extra pasta and a couple extra bytes of cake and slightly more cereal at breakfast the next day and downed a larger glass of orange juice. Poof all your savings are gone and then some. So the equation is not a simple one way thing.
I find this myself. If I just sit around most of the day, I eat less.

And as for energy balance, there is a simple but overlooked calculation, and this one is a real head-scratcher. See, the difference in energy balance between becoming obese in a few decades or starving to death in a few decades, the cumulative energy balance, is just one bite of food extra or under per day. So how is that possible? How do we regulate our energy intake with that degree of precision? Animals don't do that, and neither do humans. Gaining weight can't be a simple energy balance. Yes, no laws of physics are violated. Just like a hybrid car which has a controller which decides when to direct energy to the batteries and when to direct it to the wheels, is not violating laws of physics. The body has its own controls.

It is more plausible to say that the body self regulates in many ways. And people are now finding that they can lose a lot of weight by eating foods which don't mess around with the body's hormones, the ones which promote weight gain. Exercise is good for other reasons, but weight loss is not one of them. That's just a dogma that's been spread for a few decades now, but which experience is proving wrong.

Comment Re:Terminology and Bait-and-Switch (Score 1) 366

Science + Medical Establishment do not suggest exercise to lose weight, but to remain healthy.

From AMA, July 2016, five steps to lose weight, including "Balance what you eat with physical activity."
That was just the first hit on google.


Comment Re:Terminology and Bait-and-Switch (Score 1) 366

Yeah there are those aspects, true. Actually the reason I cite/simplify it down to exercise being pointless is because the real reason for gaining weight is generally that, it is the carbs which cause insulin to be released and which tells the body to store it all as fat, until eventually the person one day becoming insulin resistant and then everything else gets buggered up too. And this affects athletes too, people who can't seem to keep the pounds off, despite athletic levels of exercise.
Once that main giant mountain of an effect is dealt with, then the hacks such as, exercising to stimulate the metabolism, or exercising with high intensity for short periods, and so on, can really come into their own. (That's as well as I understand it for now, and the low carb thing works for me). I got away with eating high carb for a long time, and people would say I must have a high metabolism, and then I started gaining weight at 40.

Comment Re:Terminology and Bait-and-Switch (Score 2, Interesting) 366

In nutrition there's this funny thing where, if you actually add up the calories burned in exercise, it becomes factually silly to think exercise has anything to do with weight loss, and yet, word + dog + medical establishment + science, all keep advising people to exercise more to lose weight. Yet it factually is quite silly to anyone with a calculator who actually thinks to add it up.

I mean, that's just one of those things, where people don't talk facts, they talk on account of what message they think they are sending out. Like, we can't encourage laziness, so we can't mention the calories numbers and the actual implications (that you cannot outrun a bad diet).

And you see a lot of this, unfortunately, in climate change. People insist it is all about science and facts, yet so often, the message is about what ethos people are trying to promote. Because if you are really trying to solve AGW, well, there is nothing to solve, because we are not going to stop catastrophic warming. I mean, years ago they were saying we have just just 3 years to save the planet, and such like, and yet a decade later we are still trying to get the world to agree to some such. Add up the calories, it doesn't matter if you "must do something" or "must make a start" or "head in the right direction"... we will not get there, the warming is locked in, and the amount we can reduce it by is negligible at this point. But people won't say that. Because...

Because... and the reason is telling... because climate change is what is known as a "superordinate goal", in that, the goals transcend the actual issue, and the goals can be fitted to many other issues. You can take climate change and use it to justify many different issues, like global ethics, transnationalism, one world government, as well as, energy schemes, new taxes, various kinds of subsidies, investment in research and education, and so on, and don't get me wrong, a lot of these things are good things, in the right context, and applied in places where they work, and I for one look forward to the day when a child can be born anywhere on the planet and have equal opportunities for health and education, but that day won't be for a long time, unfortunately, and yet, such issues are often gathered up in some catch-all term like "climate justice" and it leaves people wondering if it is some new kind of marxism or some new kind of spiritual awakening for humanity where we all suddenly grow a huge empathetic field of awareness and give up our material greed for the sake of helping the poor.

I remember the environmentalist who told me that it didn't matter if other forms of pollution might be worse than CO2, because, "by reducing CO2 you force a reduction on production and a reduction in consumption" and then she added, "it's about reducing greed." Well, for her it was about reducing greed. But reducing greed isn't going to stop climate change. That's the superordinate issue, the grand narrative to trump all other narratives. The "fertile fantasy" as Soros would put it.

At least people like Gates seem to be using it to drive an agenda for more investment in new technologies which might actually produce large quantities of energy, and not just the piddling wind farms which look nice but don't run much, compared what we actually use, and what the world will need in future.

Various thinkers have said that when you are faced with the problem of how to convince the masses to follow some action which they are not remotely interested in, you use bait-and-switch. I'm kinda hoping the nuclear people will be able to surf this to get more nuclear energy out there, if the new technologies fail to deliver, but I worry that the goals will be swayed too much by the guilt and greed brigade who see humanity as a cancer.

Comment Re: Owning vs Renting (Score 1) 353

No you can't, Google Drive syncs links to Google Docs to your hard drive, not the actual documents.

Habits change (keep personal privacy, no wait, let's share it all on Facebook) but this about documents is the one thing I can't let go of.

I'm sure these data centres are the best in security and backups. I still want the piddly files copied to some media I own.

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