Monday, April 10, 2017

Higher intelligence: from world conflict to basic physics

This month, I seem to be making some progress in trying to understand the significance and action implications  of new concepts we all could benefit from assimilating better. More and more I see things as a whole, from the politics we see in the news (like the obvious confusion about Syria) to the level of technology, religion and the very lowest levels of physics. I am called this morning to clarify a number of important aspects which tie these things together, which none of us have seen so firmly as yet.

So let me start with the word “God,” what it means and what it implies. Our little word is not the same as the objective reality, and that’s why I use quotes.

I do use that word in casual conversation with my wife, because it is a useful shorthand for something extremely important. I do not so use it so much outside the house because so many people have so many different theories and emotions related to the word, and there is no value in driving people nuts fast. To me, the word “God” basically refers to higher intelligence. There is nothing in advanced physics which tells us either that intelligence higher than the mundane human brain cannot exist, or that it cannot be important in a very practical way to our lives. I certainly think for myself on this subject, but a huge volume of experience and analysis convinces me that it does exist and is important to us, and does shed light on important aspects of human history and culture. Some of this is explained more analytically in my paper at, addressing the rudimentary but essential  foundations we can build on.

But OK, those are foundations. Building on the foundations... just exactly what is “God”? What  does all that experience and critical reason and analysis of thousands of years of human culture actually tell us about it at the end?

Two months ago, I would say for practical purposes that “there really is a holy trinity, but more like what the high Andes people tell us than what they taught us in Catholic school when I was little.” Luda reminds me that there are lots of local thought police who would insist that “trinity is our word, and We get to define it and say what it is.” Such people often demand things which even God would refrain from demanding, such as depriving women of freedom of choice and free will in their own lives. So, OK, let’s not call it trinity, let’s not get hung up on stupid semantics. As she suggests, “troika” will do,
even though it too has other connotations. What English word DOESN’T?

She would not like the acronym I was thinking of two months ago for this troika of God – GAG,
G for Gaia (like pachamamma of Andes, but more precisely what I have called noosphere or pi),
A for archetypes (well, apus for Andes people, but “archetypes” includes more... not such a distinct aspect in any case), and another G for galaxy (like pachattatta or pater galacticus of Jesus’ Father in Heaven, but not the old jehovah or zeus archetype).

That came up in a very curious context this week. In regard to a certain person or persons, I said to Luda: “I have come to accept your way of handling certain kinds of situations. I work hard NOT to zap people, at all, consciously or otherwise, though it still takes work at times not to. Rather, I record the facts and my proper Bayesian type analysis of the implications, and pass it up the chain. My role is not to be judge but to be witness, to be part of the watch.” (I previously described when Yeshua and some Quakers both “called me to the watch,” not a piece of science but not something I would just ignore either! And as for what a witness is... that reminds me of the great paperback book “A G-Man’s Journal:" by Oliver Revell, which works very hard to illustrate the basic concepts.)

“But why would God need a witness, if God knows everything anyway?”  

OK, when two simplifications collide, one must be a bit more precise and technical (when one knows how, without inventing things). My quickie answer: “But Gaia, or the noosphere does NOT know everything. We are the eyes and ears of the noosphere. That is a serious responsibility.” More serious for some, in some ways, than for others, but that is what the Watch is really about.

“And your trinity... it is just three things, not three in one.” Well, in Catholic school they really had no idea what it meant to be three things and one both at the same time. Simplifying, I said it is three things, and try to explain each of them, but actually they are part of one system, just as cerebellum and cerebral cortex and limbic system of the brain are part of one system, interconnected. More precisely, archetypes as they pertain to any life on earth are just like major cells in the “brain” of the noosphere (though, OK, apus have a more direct physical aspect, like cells in the spinal cord)... so it’s really two “brains.” Our noosphere is in turn part of the galaxy, though linked more to some parts than others, just as a small child in a village is more tightly linked to mother and father than to village as a whole, and is too young to learn much if anything about village politics.

And whom might we be working hard not to judge? Well, many experiences encourage people to be more emotionally judgmental than they should be – though we are certainly NOT called to be indifferent or free form emotions either! One experience I tried to hold at arm’s length this past week is
the complex web surrounding Syria, the next phase of health care and various aspects of east Asia and missile technologies. Observe, watch, but not as closely this week, and in nonjudgmental way. But a few aspects do call for a little explanation, which I oversimplified in a couple of twitter posts.

One tweet stressed the line between weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and regime change, an immediate issue in Syria but also entangled with the larger issue of how to save the human species from going extinct before its time. I had several discussions of that extinction issue in Silicon Valley last week, and posted six slides summarizing the big picture of Information Technology (IT) and the future of humanity (see Among the key points (backed up by citations) were: (1) WMD are a very special issue requiring lots of persistent conscious attention; and (2) certain changes in our IT infrastructure and trends are crucial, in helping us avoid any of the extinction pathways.

And now to go deeper.

The politics we see right now show an incredible profusion of entropy, a thousand ways for things to get screwed up along pathways leading to oblivion. Yes, things looked messy a thousand years ago too, but as of now we do have ways to make it permanently fatal. That’s new. We are like teenagers who now have the power to get themselves killed, who need to be a lot more mature than they had to be when they were small, or else they may die. Sorry, folks, but in nature, some teenagers and some species do in fact die, and God makes no guarantees for us... nor does the galaxy offer guarantees to the entire earth. Life as a whole has never been so harsh and so lonely and so painful  as in the science fiction trilogy “Three Body Problem” (by Cixin Liu, the “Isaac Asimov of China), but never so universally pleasant as the deer in our back yard used to imagine when they ate Luda’s flowers. (We never zapped them, but were intrigued when a piece of a deer leg suddenly appeared in one of our gardens.)

So far as I can tell, the probability of human survival now looks so low, when I look at all the insane and myopic game plans dominating life on earth, and all the many pathways to extinction, that I would simply give up on human species stuff... except for the role of higher intelligence, which offers at least some hope of something better than entropy and better than my own meager skills. (I should note that we are called to be eyes and ears AND hands... but the Quakerly process of spiritual discernment is too complex even for this long piece.)

But how does that hope work?

How do organisms like noospheres have lifetimes longer than what you would expect for a nonliving system?

There is another science fiction series, the Hermetic Millennium, which hints at part of the answer – and part of the difficulties in being explicit about the answer, which is entangled with technologies which would be too dangerous for this species to possess at this time. It is basically the same as the question of how to reduce the process of aging by an order of magnitude. It may be safe enough to say that the biology of a human organism, for example, possesses a kind of immune system, an inborn system which has an ability to prevent excess aging. It enforces certain rules, very basic rules, not interfering with higher intelligence in the brain, but handling certain infrastructure issues.

So in a way, I might tell a true joke here: “God only gave Moses ten commandments, and left out some really important ones, only because Moses was not yet ready for the other more important ones. Commandment eleven is “Thou shalt not depend on operating systems with write-enabled backdoors,” as explained more in www.werbos.,com/NATO_terrorism.pdf. (Still in press, but coming soon, they tell me. Within an hour after I posted this they sent me the URL for the book:, ) Seriously. Certain failures in our collective immune system really would doom us all, in many ways.

But certainly WMD are a major part of what our noospheric immune system (grounded in the spiritual DNA of the noosphere, a force not to be underestimated) must give some priority to.

And so, when Trump bombed Syria in a very limited way, focused on asking for serious implementation of the previous agreement on chemical weapons... I could not deny the validity of the foundations of this. Yes, I remember how totally awful and even evil was Cheney’s manipulation of the WMD issue... but the evil was not the attention to WMD as such; the evil was in the lying use of it as an excuse for what he really wanted, a war which Halliburton (like other servants of the Third Caliphate Movement) wanted for other reasons, just as they now deeply desire a war between US and Israel versus Russia and Iran, so as to cancel out their two greatest obstacles to their own grossly incorrect vision of a world immune system.

They view sharia as God’s rules. The problem, simply, is that (1) it is not; and (2) it is so far that it by itself offers humanity a path to extinction. Of course, it does not include the eleventh commandment. But it was the best that a certain infant culture could decode long ago, and the best that an infant can understand is simply not enough for survival of a teenager like earth today. The rules for a baby do not include “though shalt learn arithmetic and do thy homework and think very hard about new challenges posed by your teacher.” But if a teenager in high school does not advance to these new guidelines... well, I have seen teenagers die. Of course, extreme orthodox Judaism has all the same problems, as does the Hindu caste system, and the “Christian madressas” set up in the US, especially the south, in order to avoid desegregation and the discomforting challenges which Thomas Jefferson imposed on US public school students. All anathema, literally.

However... WMD are not regime change. The demagogery which would encourage us to display immature behavior and start a war with Russia, or even just block a deeper and more respectful dialogue to address common problems, is also anathema. Dangerous anathema. Straight and narrow is the way, and the right way is not laced with IEDs which make us blow up. If we have IEDs in our own minds, we really need to work on them, yea unto respect for what Freud and his successor Valliant told us about hot buttons in our brains.

Let me explain a little more here, since these are issues of life or death. In recent days, CNN has often fiercely echoed the critics pushing for war, saying that Trump's actions were not enough. "How are these chemical weapons any different from barrel bombs which have killed a lot more people? So shouldn't we just kill them all and start a war with Russia?" Well, to begin with, if Russia itself began by "killing them all" regarding ISIS, should we also start killing ourselves to punish ourselves for military action?

To take it further, please think hard about the time when military people and defense contractors both in US and in Russia pushed hard for development and deployment of "tactical nuclear weapons for use in everyday combat." They to argued that it should not matter HOW people are killed, if people are killed. Fortunately, there were people in the US and Russia both who had studied escalation and multiplayer games more analytically, who understood what a horrible slippery slope would start up once people crossed the simple clear line of  "no use of nuclear weapons except after clear crossing of definite, objective red lines." Though of course it would have been better if Trump had not used words like "bad man" when ordering the bombing, and had used words like "international agreement" even more than was done. It was a great relief when Tillerson clarified what I hope is the policy.

Sadly, we do not know precisely what the objective reality is, the “spiritual immune system/DNA” . But we know for sure that the squashing of the human spirit is not part of it, and that we are called to do mentally challenging homework, and learn to work together in diverse ways.


Speaking of which... my views of “God” have changed a little recently, because of my better understanding of science.

A few months ago, I wondered: “Is it really just noosphere and galaxy or pater galacticus, these huge but fallible beings?    What about the idea that the cosmos as a whole is one intelligent system, one mind?”
There are many varieties of that idea, but I remember how Lagrange once suggested that the entire universe flawlessly maximizes its utility function (which we now call “the Lagrangian”), just like an intelligent system but without any approximation, like a perfect version of an intelligent system. Hamilton debunked that idea, by showing how realistic field theories are actually based on a “minmax” pathway through space and time, maximizing the Lagrangian or minimizing it, just like what happens in some games between two enemies.
(Minmax: everyone should learn about Von Neumann, Theory of Games and Economic Behavior.)

But as of now, I have a much better understanding of “life at distance scale of 3 femtometers or larger,” life as we know it here on earth. I understand precisely how to formulate “MQED,” a modified version of quantum electrodynamics, which I discussed a little in previous blog posts, building far beyond the foundation of our paper on Analog Quantum Computing, published in Quantum Informatoin Processing (and posted at At our level of life, physics does appear to be stochastic. More important, the cosmos does seem to maximize a probability measure across space-time, in a way which fulfills the vision of Lagrange and escapes the debunking skepticism of Hamilton. What’s more, the behavior of the MQED cosmos is far more intricate and intelligent  than I had expected  before based on untrained conventional wisdom.

And so now... this morning... I would say that the holy trinity as I perceive it, for our lives in a practical sense, is noosphere, galaxy and MQED. All three really intelligent in a practical enough way.

MQED reminds me in a way of popular stereotypes about a superintelligent AI. (Not correct steroetypes, but whatever.) Unlike the others, it really is perfect (if you accept stochasticity as part of perfection). It really does “know everything” in its domain. It does not need eyes and hands... but if our hands get in its way, we can be zapped in ways most humans cannot begin to imagine (like having their entire continuum of life, from past to future, dissolved away... washing away their sins and their life both). BUT unlike the others, it does not partake of deeper qualia, the important realities of dark matter, dark energy and life below 3 femtometers. And so, it is just one element of a triad, not the unity of all. What lies at those deeper levels? Well, extinction or no extinction, that is where curiosity calls me most at this time...   a fitting place to end this post. 


Oops. One more detail. The Economist recently published a long article on quantum technologies, a heroic effort which could use a lot of clarification. It talked about a new theory of basic physics being developed by David Deutsch, father of digital quantum computing (the only kind they understood). Deutsch is one of the truly creative people on earth, and he is now exploring a variety of Idealism, of the idea that the cosmos itself works like a kind of Great Mind. I was amazed to see how his "constructor" idea fits exactly with my earlier work (in the neural network field), on "decision blocks." Should I point him to the specific modified Bellman equations (Bellman being the stochastic generalization of Hamilton-Jacobi which he knows well) which I developed circa 1998, and published in several places, essential to achieving the reptile level of intelligence? Is he unintentionally developing a model of the cosmos as a great dinosaur brain? Yet does he really want to enforce the idea that this brain is incapable of learning recurrent relations, like what make backwards time communication possible? Or would he say the universe is capable of backwards time communication but must learn how to do it? If we do it, are we acting as teachers? In any case, our understanding of the general mathematics of intelligence and learning does not require us to assume that an intelligent cosmos, even with a dinosaur like brain, would only be capable of time-forwards operation. Time-symmetric life and intelligence are described in more detail, in my chapter in Pribram's book Origins, from Erlbaum. 

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