Friday, September 29, 2017

The physics of who we are, like Plato, Zelazny, Willis

After a technical discussion of collapse of the wave function, new experiments, and what it all means for the question of "who are WE?", someone asked me:

On the other hand, were Zelazny's Amber works not fiction?


My views have changed again today, to a new tentative position which i find somewhat startling but hard to escape, based on the best mathematics now available: 


Thank you very much, and thanks also to others who asked this pointed questions yesterday, for getting me to revisit the question:
IF the math of Einsteinian realism fully works out, and if it will eventually be logically justified as a deeper replacement in principle of MQED (the version of "quantum mechanics" I advocate)... what does it tell us about time and parallel selves?

I now think that what I wrote in a groping way yesterday was correct, but I felt some uncertainty as it emerged late in the day. Now I have had time to meditate on it.
Sometimes I wish I could afford to wait a day like that, and meditate at a higher level, before responding to ANYTHING by email. The differences in levels of intelligence are an important story in itself, and maybe I will even say just a little more about that too if there is time this morning.

ARE WE (like I as I write this) a configuration/pattern/form of the one true 3+1-D reality or not, if Einsteinian realism is the deeper reality and truer physics, and MQED just an approximation?

I remember the exact moment when I "realized that we are just shadows," IN THE MQED framework. Our mundane level of existence, the "half" of us which is body and brain but not soul, only connected to soul... is governed by MQED, almost exclusively. There are nuclear forces holding together the nuclei of the atoms of our body, but all we really see in the material properties of atoms and their interactions, and their interactions with electromagnetism, are nuclei as point ions, charges particles with mass,
connected and vibrating together  quantum mechanical way -- but those quantum mechanical vibrations are all within the realm of MQED. All knowledge which actually gets imprinted in or remembered in the brain is fully within the realm of MQED, whenever it is expressed in the brain. 

I remember focusing VERY hard on the issue of "what does a photon experience and do, from femtosecond to femtosecond, as it passes through a polaroid type polarizer (like simple quality sunglasses!)?" This focused thought resulted in a new continuous-time mathematical model of that phenomenon, which worked, which fit the Bell experiments, and which I posted at (Actually, two such models, a traditional KQED kind of model, and an MQED kind of model.) In this model, the wave function does not collapse instantaneously, but step by step, fitting what we know about polarizers as real physical objects, not just metaphysical observers. 

We too, like those polarizers, change in a relatively incremental way, but at times we (and they) change so fast it APPEARS like an instantaneous jump on a normal time scale. (Cavdat: I resist saying more about the deeper time scales of the mundane brain. Not for now. This story is complicated enough, and does not need that digression/footnote.) At one point, as I thought about that little photon passing through sunglasses, I had a very sudden change of perspective on who were are.. but it was not TOTALLY instant; it was like a fast dawning realization.

There is some VERY viscious polarization right now in the US government. I was thinking about that photon, in 2014, still working for the National Science Foundation (NSF), at a time when the viscious conflicts were especially painful for me. I was thinking: "That photon has its own orientation, an angle theta. The sunglasses want it to conform to ITS angle , theta-a. At any moment there is some probability that the photon WILL jump to that angle, conform, and then be totally absorbed, and virtually nonexistent from the viewpoint of the macroscopic experimenter. There is some probability that it will jump to the 'opposite' angle, 90 degrees away from theta-a, which will make it absolutely independent and able to pass through unchanged after that (though it still loss its original self.). That reminds me of the horrible situation I face right now! But that photon has a third possibility, crucial to the physics, without which the model cannot work in making correct predictions (within the constraints which yield MQED): it can simply object to being in that situation, and  create pressure to the cosmos to rewrite the past so that it won't be in that situation in the first place." (I was reminded of an insightful wry British comedy movie, maybe something about deadly sins, where a  :guy makes a deal with the devil, who says he can just stick his tongue out to remake any situation he chooses to reject -- just seven times. The photon has the power to stick out its tongue in the same way.) It took a bit of time to nail that down, and express it as a very clean differential equation, which anyone can see on the web at But the fast realization began with the question: "If a little photon can do that in ITS polarizer, how is it that I, a full human being, do not have the power to do the same in the polarizing place I am in right now?" And then very quickly, after I posed that question I realized: "oops, maybe I can."

After that, I quickly inserted a new paragraph or so into, a paper which had been accepted for publication in an obscure Russian journal, subject to some minor revisions; I just added this new insight to the revisions. (It was an invited paper, the kind of thing I can afford to publish much more than things which take more time, particularly when I get involved in many different areas.) Some key points: since we live our mundane lives AT THE LEVEL of MQED, the full mathematics of MQED DO actually describe our lives. That includes the "many worlds" KQED claim that we ourselves DO live in mixed states," ALL THE TIME. No, there are no metaphysical observers, but YES, we are "Schrodinger cats" OURSELVES. MQED is not the deepest reality, in my view, but it IS what governs our mundane experience of life directly. 

This was a really huge shift in my views. It is curious that I am now started reading a new novel by Connie Willis, Crosstalk, who has also written very important novels about the nature of time, perhaps the most valuable and relevant science fiction on that topic as such ever by anyone.  Before the new shift, my views about time and retrocausality were generally similar to what was expressed in her earlier novels (and in a simpler novel Chronoliths). I have never made any claims about actual TRAVEL into the past (as in these  novels), but even so, I could clearly see that physics MUST allow backwards communication of information in order to explain certain paradoxes from experiment. In her novels, Willis talked about an "Oxford standard model of time" in which there is only ONE actual state of the space-time continuum, in which somehow despite the backwards time effects we cannot splinter the cosmos into different possibilities or outcomes.

Following that view, before my shift, I naturally asked: "IF we can design backwards time communication devices, HOW do we avoid the old 'grandfather paradox' of time travel stories? For example, if we use the device on the stock market (as we might well do, by the way!).. what happens to disturbance of the market in the past due to the change in trades?" Looking at the Einstein/Lagrange mathematics as best I could at that time, I concluded: "A system which threatens to change the past can not ACTUALLY
change the true past, since there is only one true past, but it can have an impact within the constraints of what we KNOW about the past, in a way which is ultimately the same as our limited impacts on the future. If people build powerful enough systems which 'threaten' to change the ;past, these systems will end up being 'weirdness generators.' Folks who try to make trades which change the past will be stopped by unexpected weird coincidences, like taxis stalling as they ride to the stock exchange, somehow screwing things up regularly and reliably in a way which SEEMS to be surprising coincidence." No folks, this didn't come form imagination, it came form understanding what Lagrange style maximization actually implies when translated to our realm. And no, it wasn't quantum mechanics, but good old fashioned Einstein/Lagrange math. 

As I live in the DC area, my instant emotional response to this realization (long before the shift in 2014) was: "Hey, has someone ALREADY built one of those weirdness generators? It sure feels like it in this neighborhood." But in fact, such capabilities do exist in the noosphere,and that is part of what creates patterns in human life. 

Not long before my shift , I read Connie Willis' two-volume novel, Blackout and And Clear, where she begins asking whether she really believes that old "Oxford standard theory of time travel." COULD we change the past after all, even beyond what seems hard and fast? If WE are forms of the one true reality of 3+1-D spacetime, no, we can't. 
BUT in my shift in 2014, I realized: WE are not the one and only reality. For all practical purposes (the MQED level of life), we are just ONE of many copies of ourselves, like the shadows in Plato's cave (or yes, like the story in Zelazny's Amber series, roughly). That new viewpoint is also expressed in the paper I wrote last year for a NATO workshop  on predetection of terrorism, published in a volume in the NATO book series, and posted at

But, Whit and others ... just yesterday you got me to reconsider: was I right AFTER that shift?

If the true(r) reality is still Einstein underneath, and not MQED, is there or is there not just one true reality, and are we or are we not part of it?
How do I deal with the paradox of two viewpoints SEEMING to make very different predictions for this one point?

Logic immediately said to me even yesterday (when I was at a lower level of intelligence than this morning) that any weirdness contained in MQED must be present in the deeper reality, PLUS more, if MQED is ultimately just a fuzzy approximation to that reality. So all the weird new stuff about ACTUALLY changing the past still holds, somehow. (To be honest, that is also a bit more consistent with my first person experience.) But how?

Even as I never forgot that part of the logic, I found myself wondering for a moment yesterday: IF MQED works NORMALLY, but Einstein/Lagrange wins in any direct confrontation, COULD some of the new time technologies I have in mind (for detailed discussion only AFTER key experiments are done) end up letting us build ACTUAL weirdness generators which give us the power to defeat MQED in ways which no classical or simple experiments could? Certainly I have been thinking about new computing architectures which really would test the ability of our cosmos to implement astronomical numbers of "parallel universes,"  and bring out any granularity or discreteness in the underlying force fields if such is there. BUT: ordinary Deutsch style quantum computing ALREADY tests that kind of thing, and no anomalies of that kind have been found. We should have our eyes open, for many reasons, but the logic does still hold.

But how COULD it still hold, if the Einstein/Lagrange view is totally correct? Where are we in the one true reality, if there is really only one at bottom?

Well.. do we even exist or not? Or are we like "the dreams of the sleeping vishnu?" Logic seems to suggest more firmly to me this morning that this is the most credible picture of who we are after all. (But still with caveats and uncertainty both.) 

There is a strong analogy to another situation very familiar in science fiction. Most of you have read some story about people who create really detailed computer simulations of an imaginary world, so detailed that the characters in the simulation are just as complex as people with brains in our world. Their simulated brains have ALL the properties and dynamics of mundane brains in our world. If asked whether they are conscious, they will of course say that they are, and they will pass every version of the Turing test.
THEY have no way of knowing they are "just a computer simulation," unless we tell them. Stephen Baxter has some novels like that, asking the questions of ethics about how we deal with such creatures. Are our ethical duties towards a fully intelligent simulated humans more or less than our duties, say, to a mouse? There is also a really great collection called Far Futures, where lead science fiction authors were asked to write realistic scenarios about the human future -- the best story of which described the life of computer simulated humans on earth. I have heard that Elon Musk now believes that WE are computer simulations ourselves. By the way, in 1962 or such I wrote one of those types of stories for the school literary magazine in high school, based on stories I told myself many years before that as a child going to bed. (Still there, scanned into my files.)

And so, if the cosmos is LIKE a grand computer or mind of sorts, solving an extremely complex and tricky optimization problem, are WE basically just part of the simulations it uses in order to solve that optimization problems? 

Even as I type this, a shiver runs up my back as I see/remember a connection to something I saw years ago which I could not quite make sense of. 

Yes, like the MQED picture, but weirder still. Just as "Gaia" is a distorted but mostly reasonable reflection or shadow of something real, the noosphere of our solar system, it seems most logical that the dreaming Vishnu is also a kind of reflection or shadow of something real. That we are those dreams or simulations, when we get deeper than MQED down to the Einstein/Lagrange level.

Of course, I will now resolve to be even more vigilant to look for any REAL signs of a level deeper still, but I still see no real basis at all in logic for expecting it. Life really IS weird, after all, at least from a lowly human viewpoint. 


And I should say a few words about Connie Willis, who in SOME ways reminds me of my wife and of levels of intelligence. In the first few pages of her new novel, Crosstalk, 
I remembered what Woody Allen said in one of his movies: "I would never stoop to join a club so crude and insensitive that it would accept ME as a member." (My wife says he stole that from Groucho Marx. Well, she notices lots of stuff I don't. Like Willis.) My instant response at that time: "I really would have wanted to marry this woman, but she would not have given me a second look. But then again, Luda is just as intense, much more suitable for me because of her much deeper understanding of heavy science and such, and definitely beautiful... who knows about that other one?"  But that was just the start; the book goes on to address issues of the Internet of Things, which is now remaking the entire world and which I have not at all come to full terms with yet, and seems to be located where my younger daughter is (though her employer is much stronger). At the end of the day, my wife, Willis and I are all very intensely "high bandwidth people." She clearly experiences life with more high resolution than any other science fiction writer I have ever read. And she clearly experiences the other dimensions of life which are unfamiliar to those who embrace the worst form of Cartesian dualism, where all they live is life in black and white without seeing any of the colors which come from spirit. It is intensely REAL... like my wife.. though perhaps I am a bit more astral. What other authors can I think of with such intensity and bandwidth? maybe Dickinson is closest in Science fiction? Or Dickens in the larger world? 
And all three of us do ask questions intensely and always, asking what we know and what we don't... which of course always makes one aware of important things we DON;T know... 

Best of luck,

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

see the naked "swamp" Puerto Rico example

Trump has rightly talked a lot about "the swamp", but can he ever figure out where it is and how it works, and how to save us from the extinction it is on course to bring us?

My previous post on electric power problems, which could become as big on mainland US within the year as they now are on Puerto Rico (watch the example closely folks). That's more urgent than this post.

But even so, it was amazing to see on CNN just a few minutes ago the woman who now runs DHS explaining why the request for a special waiver allowing foreign help was ignored in the case of Puerto Rico, when it was approvcd quickly for Texas and Florida.

Since she did the work, I tend to think that the White House rationalization was just post hoc PR, which we have seen a lot of this past year. (Not invented  by Trump, of course, but also not something a sane observer would not be aware of.)

WHY did the two previous requests get immediate attention, but not this one?

This one just came from Congress. the others cam,e form industry (from large stakeholders).

Some folks imagine that the President runs the executive branch, and Congress provides just budget and oversight. Authoritative academics can find lots of authoritative books saying that this is how it works. But we live in a new world now, folks. Those who have seen at ground level know better. In ever more agencies, instructions come from visiting "stakeholders," empowered by selected members of Congress. No, it's not those civil service folks who do this (except when they are too scared to let anyone know, but the new whistle blower systems point back to the folks who represent the stakeholders.) Roughly speaking, actual power is proportional to the size of large campaign donations, and there are numbers out there for those who watch closely, like certain intelligence agencies.

The Moslem Brotherhood itself is actually bigger there than Russia, but their friends steer us elsewhere, and poor Trump believes a lot of what certain folks tell him.

All for now.

Puerto Rico's problems: are you next, and what could be done to save you?

On a technical level, it is well-established that the whole US power grid is in real danger this year of being shut down as badly as Puerto Rico, a real disaster we need to understand better and face up to. (No electricity for months to come, suddenly no food.) For example, James Woolsey (former CIA head under Clinton) says that Kim may be poised this year to do an EMP attack which would shut down half the generators in the US, and I have given details and citations for a cyber threat even worse at 
Why hgve our leaders done nothing to correct problems which could actually be corrected quite easily? 

As people start to realize this is real, even for the political leaders living in DC, one leader has asked a group of us:

I wouldn’t know the first thing about this, but is it possible to put parts of the grid, not just wires but smaller if not larger transformers underground?  And if that were done, would it help much?

Thanks very much, ...

At some level, the real problem may be a gap in communication between the engineering people and the mysterious politically shielded process of stakeholder influence in the Senate. Nobody in the latter seems to know the first thing about the EMP threat to burn out and shut down half the big transformers, or the cyber threat to burn out and shut down half the generators, on the continental US. There are only a few parts of the US (like Texas) where the water threat to the grid is anywhere near as serious, but a better understanding of the CONSEQUENCES of losing electricity for a long time might help a little, maybe, in getting policy-makers closer to reality on nature and importance of the EMP and cyber threats. 

For the EMP threat... putting wires underground is expensive. In October 2001, I organized a joint NSF-EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute) workshop on urgent opportunities to harden the grid, at EPRI headquarters in Palo Alto. For transmission, underground wires cost about ten times the ordinary wires, which were already hard enough to get build because of issues of regulatory barriers and costs running into the billions BEFORE any multiplying by ten.

But there are much simpler and easier technical fixes. Under the Congressionally chartered EMP Commission, an engineer named Kappenman worked with others to develop (and I think patent and incorporate) much cheaper, easier and more reliable fixes. The estimate was on the order of $100 million to harden the ENTIRE US grid from all kinds of EMP (other than lightning, which was already being addressed in other ways). When I hear Woolsey on TV talking about how Kim could shut down the US with one single H bomb, and about how Kim does know this and is preparing to do so, I find myself really wondering about the sanity of people who could have engineered the fix ten years ago, and did not. Part of me says -- I am not a professional politician; I do well enough in passing information on to people who are, for someone who is more a scientist, engineer, economist and Quaker than politician; but even so, the total failure to get even such a simple fixable problem fixed makes me ever more enervated in the face of equally fatal problems in other areas, likely to kill us all if we don't learn better how to walk a straight line.

With EMP, the required fix to the grid is not only cheap and easy but known to the House. More precisely, Congressman Trent Franks (with strong support from folks we knew like Roscoe Bartlett) introduced a bill, the Shield Act, which passed 3-1 in the House (obviously bipartisan), which would have hardened the grid against EMP, years ago. 
Franks is a conservative Congressman from Texas, so of course there was nothing socialist or weird about his solution. The bill would simply have empowered and mandated FERC (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates interstate gas and electric transmission systems) to ADD EMP resilience to the many other existing reliability standards enforced by FERC. Just one more health and safety kind of standard, less expensive than others long on the books. At a (one time) cost of $100 million, it would end up as about a $1 one-time charge to the average rate-payer (if as a rough guess we have 100 million of them in the US), with maybe a continuing cost of 10 cents per year thereafter for maintenance. Just part of the cost of having a reliable source of electricity.

I remember very vividly an important "inner circle" meeting of Franks and other supporters of the Bill at the Senate Visitors Center, where even the top people in the House in both parties were deeply mystified about why the Senate simply did nothing with an easy matter of life or death which they could have taken care of quickly. There was a lot of speculation. My natural response was; "Holy cow! If even THESE guys are baffled about what is going on, what are my chances to figure it out... with Specter now gone from the Senate." But my year working in the Hart building did give me SOME basis for my own guessing... and I remember how Reid operated, with his own view of the Stakeholder System, which is probably similar but worse under McConnell. On the tombstone of the US, will it be written "Death by shared new procedural ideology"?
Could McCain save us somehow, as the most reality-oriented guy left now that Specter is gone? Or will Murkowski, Cantwell, Kaine and Schumer be the last remains of hope?

Anyway, the fix to save us is easy, and it may be all it would take is for the right Stakeholder (maybe BP could do it) to gently tap the shoulder of McConnell or whomever, and note that Franks is still alive and happy to reintroduce the bill. I don't know.

BUT: the cybervulnerability is just as urgent, and even bigger as a threat. (Folks in the House speculated: maybe senators just wanted to solve EMP and cybervulnerability of the grid TOGETHER. But clearly waiting for A before B and B before A is a dumb and even fatal strategy here!!)

It is EVEN MORE technical than EMP. At www.werbos,com/NATO_terrorism.pdf (published in a book in the NATO series), I give technical details of that threat and of HOW TO fix it. It certainly depresses and enervates me very deeply that we show no signs of progress in making THAT fix either. It is so obviously a matter of national survival that I find myself wondering about the patriotism of the powerful folks who have chosen to do nothing here. (Yes, I share the deep worries of the public about the "swamp," but I often wish Trump had a better understanding of what it actually is.) But my son in law, who is closer to the specific technologies, suggests it is simply a case of old fashioned cover-your-ass psychology. More specifically, in the 1970's, when the Multics operating system was being developed (in front of my eyes literally), there was a collaboration of folks who really knew what a computer is and of folks who really know what a theorem is, yielding among other things "the orange book." (If you look up Multicians on the web, you will see I am just one junior member of a larger group, if they haven't all died of old age yet.) THE ESSENTIAL FIX of open machine-verified compliance testing of operating systems for critical infrastructures (starting with power) requires that kind of crossdisciplinary cooperation, which may have simply been lost with time (just as we may have lost Boeing's hot structures capability crucial to economic access to space either for missile defense or power generation). It COULD be reconstituted, and not take all that many years, but when key people in power do not want to admit what they have lost and what it would take to fix... well, maybe that's the political problem which needs to be solved somehow or other.

But again, I am not so involved in such politics any more. I was invited to Trent Frank's meeting due to connections which are pretty much gone now. Tomorrow I do go back to revisit IEEE HQ in DC again for the first time in a long time -- but only to give a technical talk to the aerospace electronics society, focusing on exciting nuts and bolts related to IT. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Can natural markets solve our problems of species survival?

Recently, on a listserv set up to discuss as analytically and as realistically as possible the threats to the very survival of the human species and strategies to reduce those threats, I posted the link to a new essay:
Urgent need to develop new integrated platform for IOT, to prevent the worst as it (inevitably?) does take over the world, sooner than most people expect.  This essay does get into more undiluted specifics than you will find anywhere else, on the basic big question of the future of humans (if any) in the IOT:

One person on the list said we should not worry about any of the threats I mentioned, because "natural markets" will take care of all of them. He also objected to the concept of "market design" in general. Here is my reply to him:


First consider an analogy: some people assume that God or fate will determine the outcome anyway, so why should anyone think about it? There are people who apply that attitude to all large issues, to the issue of whether they might lose their job, and even to the issue of finding a  new job when they lose it. Personally, I regard such attitudes as a kind of neurotic defense mechanism, one of the many such common neuroses widely prevalent even in the high performing sectors of our society. I highly recommend the book by Valliant of Harvard, who tracked the life success and failures of Harvard graduates over many decades,  and established connections between people's success or failure on their own terms, with their choice of defense mechanisms. At, I discuss what it means to be truly sane, based on what we now know about how brains work.

In my view, the idea that "natural markets" will take care of everything is very similar to the idea that God or fate will take care of everything. 

To begin with -- what the hell IS a "natural market"? What are the words actually supposed to mean, apart from the obvious vigorous emotions they are attached to? Are they just a new synonym for God or fate, and a new phrasing of the same old Idea? Or are they more like "natural foods," defined as foods produced by plants or animals and not by Humans? 

So is a "natural market" one created by nature and not by humans? That's a rather odd ideas because all markets I ever heard of were created by humans, one way or another.

Or is a "natural market" one created by unconscious humans, with a strict rule that market design should not be tainted by anything like conscious thinking about how the system Works? Is consciousness a kind of taint which corrupts everything, and should be repressed? Or is it just altruism which should be outlawed? How could one try to make any real sense of such cultural beliefs?

When people say "natural markets ensure optimal outcomes," perhaps they are trying to give us a simplified interpretation of the serious work of Adam Smith, Walras , Samuelson, Ken Arrow and such. There DOES exist a serious and thoughtful effort in economics to understand WHAT kind of markets (what kind of market design) lead to optimal results in what sense. Some markets do, some don't. (Arrow actually was on my thesis committee at Harvard, when one of the two possible topics was a deeper understanding of what people's utility functions are, but dropped out when I chose the other topic, how we actually maximize their expected future value.)

I would guess that the markets of feudal rural England would count as "natural" and "organic" much more than the more formal organized free markets developed after decades of intense intellectual and political work by the Liberal party of England, with lots of lawyers creating and implementing new explicit rules.  (In those days, "liberal" simply meant promoting freedom.) In fact, simple banditry was a big part of the older more natural markets, and limited trade reduced not only the level of productivity but the rate of growth. 

All of the optimality theorems show a limited type of optimality, only when certain assumptions are satisfied. One of the required conditions is "perfect competition." Serious market economists all respect the great classic work of Joan robinson, who gave us a basic quantitative understanding of how much lose at any time when we face a certain DEGREE of lack of competition. 

So this leads to a kind of first grade understanding of what market design is about. Truly natural markets, like the dark ages of Europe or wars between animals in the jungle,  reduce the degree of (effective, honorable) competition, and reduce not only output but growth. (I'd say more about the growth aspects.. but later. If there is a real economist on the list interested in joint authoring a paper, please let me know.)
First grade market design works to create more competition, more effective, more fair, etc. 

But it goes beyond that.  In the early days of electric power deregulation, there were some enthusiasts who basically thought that any kind of market would work. Then came Enron.  There is now a huge literature on auction systems which work and those which don't. This is one of the big inputs from economists to the development of the new economic dispatch and unit commitment computer platforms which now control most of US electricity generation.

Another key assumption in the optimality theorems is perfect information by all players, including clairvoyant knowledge of the future. (Don't believe me? Fine. I don't claim to be God. Just Google dynamic general equilibrium models.) Imperfect information causes all kinds of problems, again not only for the current standard of living but also for growth -- and in truth for the probability of survival. 

Serious policy economists also know about the private goods assumption, usually discussed as the externalities problem.

Market design, in my view, may start from first grade market design but really should account for the other aspects as well, to get closer to real .optimality.


LOTS more can and should be said about this subject! For example, lack of competition in energy markets has been a huge problem for US national security, among other things. See for gross market imperfection/failure in the electric power sector. See this IEEE policy statement for ways we could have improved competition in the market for car fuel, which would have been of huge benefit to the liquid fuels companies (who now face possible extinction due to lack of alternatives to gasoline and electricity) but was blocked by lobbyists with same monopolist anticompetitive ideology as what really blocks interstate transmission. I still remember the warnings I received from Boyden Gray, then general counsel to president Bush, in the west wing proper, about problems even the president had in trying to cope with.. well, after a lot of floods, I can't help thinking of a swamp, and I'm grateful that other parts of Texas are doing better.  I am very grateful to the friend who sent me privately some passages from the book of Mormon directly relevant to that. The stakes are very high here. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

debate about minimum wage laws and future of work/ITon a ;policy list

X:... the most enlightened minimum wage laws and working condition regulations are developed using sophisticated economic models, and  studies confirm that some work as intended...<

Y: Again with the miraculous economic models, etc.  besides, min wage laws are pretty much a club.  And as I mentioned about 2/3rds of of owe under new min wages lose their jobs.  It's very basic economics, no need to over analyze (for a excuse to over control?)  If the jobs were worth the new mandated prices, they would likely be paid about that already. 

My response:

Since these are both tricky and life-or-death issues, I am maybe halfway through writing an essay on the challenge here (especially as a challenge to IT, the technology which is replacing humans here and now). 

For the moment... just a few quick thoughts. The many studies of future jobs reviewed by the Millennium project say that 2/3 of ALL the jobs will be lost, not just the minimum wage ones. Some would say; "If these folks are not worth it, they SHOULD lose their jobs, to hell with the consequences, because what are those humans worth anyway?"

What's worse, the human policy types who served in those studies were paying close conservative attention to what they already know; at the frontiers of IT , we can see that NO HUMANS ARE NEEDED ON EARTH. Clearly, adherence to that line of evaluation is in itself a threat to the existence of the human species!

It is important to understand that "WORTH" here is not something magical which our corporations get from God on a burning bush in the Sinai, but more like a rule from the SEC. There is a WHOLE lot of market failure out there right now, what Trump has rightly called a "rigged system." (Why did Google insist on injecting a question mark when I typed "Trump"? I really wonder sometimes about "the soul in the machine". This is not the first time  by far.) All markets now are DESIGNED markets, like the electric power markets today maintained by computers and viable (not so rigged) only after many years of technical study and retuning. A key part of the challenge is how to design automated markets (as all markets will be before long) which accurately reflect the value of human beings, at least enough to maintain their existence and -- in my view -- their full human potential, material and intellectual and spiritual. HOW TO BUILD SUCH AN IT SYSTEM? It is a crucial challenge, which no one has fulfilled as yet.

There are times, when I consider the hopes and dreams of Robert Mercer (who is working closely with Charles Koch in remaking the world economy, and liberating their computers from any government influence, partly documented in the excellent book Dark Money), that I am reminded of a scene in Asimov's extended Foundation trilogy, where he describes a planet with a human population which has slowly dropped to a few thousand but has a huge GNP to support those people, disintegrating bit by bit to where it all dies in just a few thousand years. So what is value then? Or would the intelligent AIs step in and forestall the disintegration in the obvious way? I expect so, but weak systems in any ocean are the first to discover how invasions can work. 

more debate in Vedanta group about astral travel

Me: Thank you for your serious thoughts here! Since this is serious stuff, I will endeavor to be as precise as I can in follow-on.


Both the Astral and our physical plane composed of the baryonic matter and 4 fundamental forces are physical in the sense that

Me: As you know, I take very seriously Einstein's (early) vision of the laws of physics, governing an entire cosmos which most likely (but who knows?) is simply a curved Minkowski space. But in that view, the (Einsteinian) physical plane is actually composed only of force fields -- not exactly the four forces discussed before the discovery of EWT (by Weinberg and Salam), but a variation we can now smell but not touch, a variation which would include the foundations of dark matter and dark energy.  

I) both are the derivatives of the  same primordial physical physical stuff with physical being the derivative of the astral in succession.

 Me: ==================================================================

In the Einstein view, everything in this cosmos EXCEPT the underlying forces and the ultimate Lagrangian laws is emergent. Protons and electrons themselves are seen as emergent patterns (roughly, as "solitons"). Atoms, molecules and planets are even less fundamental, and more "emergent", than protons and electrons. Living organisms are at yet another level, emergent from the (oceans) of molecules or the equivalent that they emerge from, in a process more general than Darwinian evolution but inclusive of Darwinian evolution. ALL FORMS OF ACTUAL MIND ACTUALLY KNOWN TO US, except for the cosmos itself and AI and imaginary things people dream of, emerge as subsystems of such living organisms, subsystems we may call "brains," even though that would include aspects of the noosphere of our solar system, a mind so great it usually appears as a whole cosmos in itself to those humans who get to see it more and more completely. 

What we call the "astral plane," or astral bodies, is basically just a view of part of the emergent CONTENTS of  the noosphere of our solar system. Like the electronic traces of the mundane thoughts in our mundane brains, it is more like an IDEA or MODEL of reality than like reality itself.

Even if one shifted to a nonEinstein model of the cosmos, in which the underlying forces themselves are just an emergent level of something deeper, the atoms and molecules are closer to underlying reality than the ideas we see in the noosphere are... ideas which certainly include the silver cord, the humanoid forms we chose to wear/project in most astral travel, Santa Claus, all of the archetypes described by Carl Jung (and Joseph Campbell and Neil Gaiman) and the serious, powerful "shadow" images attached in human culture to names like Jehovah and Allah and even most Church versions of Jesus. (These last are cases where I see an existence both of something real, more real than the archetypes, but ALSO a shadow image of imperfect fidelity, just as Fox in his book Astral Projection describes useful but imperfect shadows of the physical world in the astral.) 

II) Both lack any innate consciousness.

Except for the cosmos itself, I view ALL consciousness we know about as emergent. Humans do often like to talk and speculate about what they know nothing about, but 
that kind of phenomenon, reinforced by groupthink, is more about human psychology than about reality. In truth, I do believe we should be vigilant in looking for REAL clues for anything which would give substantive information about reality beyond the Einstein model (if such should exist),  but  I have looked far and wide (and will continue to do so), and have only found things which provide deeper understanding of the Einstein vision. (As I type, my wife mentions a new headline: "Trump says Strange Grown Up Since Election." But Carl Jung would have no problems understanding deep aspects of how such puns arise.) I will keep looking, but the deeper understanding seems more promising to me right now. 

When I hear some folks argue about whether God is male or female or transgender, I wish they were conscious enough to consider the obvious metaphor of fetuses wasting their energy speculating about the sex lives of their parents. Fetuses have a lot of mental work to do, but it is a waste of energy to oscillate (let alone fight!) on variables which are not yet ready to converge to any kind of point estimate or weight. (Still, it is not unreasonable for a fetus to imagine that the matrix it is living in could be imaged as female.) 

Best regards,


P.S. I apologize for using the computer science definition of "avatar" in discussing astral life before, but the term fits SO well! Not only do some people chose a cloud as their astral form in such travel; there are also folks who MODIFY their body appearance in such projection, sometimes changing it in real time. And there are Chinese mystics who regularly use nonhuman organic forms in their projections. The original term avatar from India has a very different meaning, of course, ALSO very real in the fundamental wiring of the noosphere. One of you has mentioned Joan Roberts, who talked a lot about "channeling," which in my view is a very real and important phenomenon, even when the channeller and channellee are both quite fallible. I do recall a meeting where one person talked about an experience of visiting someone else in need of a certain kind of help, and the person who had been visited was present and learned of the other half right then and there when I was watching. RELATIVELY veridical in the details,  crosschecked. The Netflix series Sense8 tries to bring some of the core ideas of the Upanishads "to life", and includes some scenes of this kind, and illustrates other basic principles you would find familiar. (Though it caters a bit more than I would like to postmodernist political groupthink.) Channeling is always two-way TO SOME EXTENT, and it can actually form a chain.
I suppose that (somewhat imprecise) phrase "sub Planck" could refer to the level of fundamental forces and Lagrangian laws of cosmos itself, with EVERYTHING else at  higher emergent levels, in the picture of Einstein realism. 


As I think this over, I remember that some sincere, experienced mystics have argued that our mundane earth is just a "slow lane" of the astral plane, because it too can be influenced by dreams and thoughts, and because their experience in the astral plane does show varying levels of mutability already. However, even mundane human thoughts can change our mundane world simply because of ACTIONS WE TAKE. Yes, we may have had a dream before we acted, but that does not by itself make the consequences of our actions any less real. Mystics can act not only directly, through mundane body actions, but through other efferents of the noosphere, but even that does not make the consequences less real at a mundane physical level. The narratives are very important, but we should not let us lose touch with reality here.

This reminds me of one of the simple maxims I presented in Nepal:
"The further along one goes in the path, the more and more important it becomes to resist two ever more powerful delusions:  delusions of grandeur, and delusions of helplessness. " This applies both to ourselves, and to what we hear from others.