Wednesday, August 3, 2016

IT and social contracts -- message to Yeshua ben David

Good morning, Yeshua!

As for brain data -- Robert says he will bring us a new MatLab, maybe as soon as tomorrow, which would allow Luda and me to get back to that world, though we might need to do special things to be able to handle large databases. (32 bit versus 64 bit). We will see.

But I have been thinking a lot about social contract, as you suggested, and not forgotten about the watch. (Have not done much with water, but that is another matter.) Observing what is happening does affect my thoughts about social contract.

Two weeks ago at Quaker meeting, one person got up in the main meeting time and briefly cited a verse from the Bible about the covenant, a kind of social contract of humans and "God," some mix of
noosphere and perhaps what is beyond noosphere. (As I watch... I think of a serious joke: "GOD is just an acronym for Grow Or Die." But really,
I do see a kind of holy trinity made up of pater galacticus, noosphere, and lots of us various little guys inside the noosphere. Rarely do I even speculate what is beyond the galaxy, beyond our reach or responsibility.) At "afterthoughts time," a special routine in our local meeting, one of the other people talked about the threat of crazy and bad activity spreading from the idea of US being a god-ordained exceptional people. 

Then I got up and I mentioned some of my own fuzzy recent groping thoughts about social contract. "In the Bible, the Jews were a special people with special support only so long as they held to the covenant -- but when they did not, they suffered greatly. In my view, the closest thing we now have on earth to a proper, sustainable social contract and covenant with God is the US constitution (or even the better update of it now used in Germany) -- a document which owes a lot to us (Quakers) and which supports the life and freedom of spirit more than any contract before it, thanks to all the great efforts which went into it. Our own people will remain exceptional and avoid suffering only so long as we adhere to that convenant, the full spirit and not just the written letter of the law."

"Many in the world now feel we are losing that spirit, and are groping with other notions of covenant such as sharia and canon law and silly forms of fundamentalism, for fear that we are not fully IMPLEMENTING the spirit of the Constitution. The challenge, then, is how to come up with new structures and perhaps a new social contract, to more fully express that spirit, and protect us from the threats which would erode it."

When the Islamic father of a martyred veteran spoke at the Democratic convention, it was an electric feeling... we never mentioned Trump at meeting that day (or Clinton or Democrats or Republicans), but the other parts of the father's speech was such a precise echo that I felt it was unmistakable. And yes, it suggests this is a proper line of questioning. The noosphere has taken it up. 

Questions, but where are the answers? 

The subject is very complex, but a few points stand out in my mind. First, there are many expressions of aging or entropy in human societies all across this planet, combined with serious concrete threats which would almost certainly kill us all without the special help of the noosphere (and perhaps a bit from pater galacticus as well, though we earth people are called to solve our own problems). Second, if the noosphere itself were just the outcome of local self-organization, as Teilhard de Chardin believed, the entropy would still be enough to kill us. But if we adhere to the logical concept that the noosphere has a longer lineage, and a kind of immune system and system of self-repair
in its basic nature, then there is some hope that proper mobilization of the noosphere  could allow our survival. If social contracts support that, we have a chance -- and if we don't, the noosphere is our best chance of a partial lifeboat for some of us.

The fundamental problem/crisis is that the spirit of the US (and German?) constitutions is being lost de facto, by certain trends, seriously threatening the expression of spirit and intelligence worldwide,
and thereby threatening any remaining hope of species survival.
(The visible large direct threats are from H2S, misuse of nuclear technology and destructive forms of information technology (IT) such as Terminators  or improper brain/computer interface, all areas demanding lots of higher intelligence not only from us but from users and managers.) The growth in inequality and long-term unemployment are just two of the aspects of that.

Why are things getting worse? What are the threats which demand a stabilization somehow? I see two or three main ones:

(1) Concentrations in flow of money related to the last gasp of the fossil fuel industry -- something which will end soon by our time-scale, but perhaps not soon enough  to protect us from HUGE damages, such as flows of money to groups degrading the human mind all over the earth;

and (2) the power of IT to concentrate power, and open up new options similar to the option a century ago of giving people frontal lobotomies.

Perhaps I should also list (3), the continuing problems related to population growth, and unstable demographics in general.

Could new social contracts be found to "stop the bleeding", to arrest the rate of decay related to these three problems? And, after finding a possible solution, what of the ways to bring it to reality?

For now, it comes ever more clear to me that fundamental IT really must be a crucial part of such a new development. It is no longer just a collection of commodities. In many ways, the real trinity of power on this tiny planet (" a whole complex universe in a grain of sand, or a microbe, or a planet") is the noosphere, the humans and the internet. If all money will be on the internet, more and more, the agreements governing the internet become an inescapable challenge as part of global social contract (and drivers of DNA gradients). And serious insight and creativity become important in design/implementation/manifestation of what the new internet should be. Even if we start to feel full of frustration about hopes that this crazy species will avoid extinction, the issue of immune system design and internet design  is unavoidable, at all levels. 

As this image started to form in my mind last week, Luda mentioned a new development. "Go to RSA conference, search on moxie, encryption, privacy. There has been a sudden new development." It sounds as if the great conflict between IBM, on one side, and Google and others on the other, may be part of a kind of IT armageddon, which will be really decisive here.  Absolute open-source unbreakability and privacy without back doors in the most basic systems is one of the crucial, unavoidable if painful requirements we must face up to. 

But not the only one.

In truth, there are people who are working energetically (and making "progress") to implement a different vision of future IT, in which a rule-based system like Watson controls everything and everyone on earth,
including all the governments and all the people. I wish this were speculation on my part, and I have been reasonably careful not to 
name the scariest names, but I did include a slide on some conversations I have heard on the talk I gave last week (slides attached) to the NATO workshop on predetection of terrorism.

The challenges in this IT part of it include development of a more sustainable IT foundation, as part of extended new global social contract, relying on concepts more like free marketplace of ideas and markets than central dictation. More like resilient electric power systems (ISO/RTO) than like Watson. Of course, ADP designs are part of
resilient power systems. and this is a serious challenge for mathematical understanding, even at the level of design. Who knows? If design makes sense enough, maybe noosphere can take care of some of the politics. Hopefully not with too many of the curses of Moses, but if we survive such growing pains, it will be for the best. How to insert buffers to prevent ADP from spawning terminators or even a "Matrix" kind of situation? 

As I type this, I think more: the mission for me now is not to convince or fight the reactive thinkers, like IBM or oil lobbyists or shariacs or even Hayden, but rather to stimulate the kind of positive creative thinking that could lead to better IT design **WITH** proper relation to spirit and human potential. I suppose that the best way to build IT which serves spirit and noosphere is to remember that "the voice of the people is the voice of god," if it is not restricted or on drugs or wires, and leave the issue of direct quantum computer interface to not-assumed-not-avoided.

All for now.

Best regards,

P.S. It is curious that suddenly today the "totem tree" in my back yard has crashed to the ground -- the tree with a deer face above the human face. Vultures tried to nest there a couple of years ago, but Luda shooed them away to a neighbors house. Another group DID nest at NSF, which is now essentially dying, and that neighbor is possibly recovering from cancer much more severe than the little bout I am back from (permanently, says the doctor). Who knows? But I see no choice but to try to move forward on It and internet, even though we have to guess hard and work hard to know which way IS forward.   


The threat of administrative investigation of Hilary Clinton, 
and demands that US foreign policy be controlled by programmers 
maintaining an IBM server and managing what can appear on it, is of course part of this "IT armageddon." Curious that they did not release stuff from the RNC, which would also be a bit lurid. 

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