Thursday, July 19, 2018

Concrete next steps to show we can photograph the future

At a NATO workshop on predetection of terrorism, we asked: Is it possible to build a forward time camera (FTC), to take pictures of the future? (My chapter:

The quick answer: if the cosmos actually obeys the dynamic laws assumed by mainstream physics, there is no reason why not -- BUT if all of our measurement systems exactly follow the ad hoc rules (like "the Born rule") which physicists have assumed in the past, then it would be impossible.

Are those measurement rules valid, or should we replace them by time-symmetric rules which tell us that we CAN build a time forward camera? (Actually a prototype is actually under construction right now...)

Today I posted a highly mathematical (and citeable) paper on what the "Born rule" actually predicts for some tricky experiments which have not yet been done, which I believe should prove that today's Born rule is wrong:


One guy said "So what? We already know that the Born rule works. Why should we test it in new circumstances?"

But folks studying gravity don't think that way. They are happy to test general relativity (GR) in a wide range of new situations, to prove more and more that it does work, and to find out just in case there is reason to try to upgrade it. Why don't quantum folks think the same way?

It reminds me of an NSF review panel which I once observed (not my panel). When the proposal for a new experiment came up, the first reviewer said "This is very interesting. We should fund it." But then a very proud second reviewer said "No way. It is too high risk." First reviewer: "What is the risk?" Second reviewer: "It might demonstrate that MY theory is false." I often wonder how many scientists really remember how the scientific method is supposed to work. But of course, no one is surprised when some "Christians" seem to advocate stoning women...

Still, in this case, the only labs which produce triple entanglement now are in China, except for one in Austria where Pan Jianwei is close to his former professor who supported him when he figured out how to do it.

Industry folks ask: can we use weird people in the workforce

I maintain ties with all three of the most serious groups I know of, studying long-term problems of jobs in the world economy. One,, links studies across nations all over the world. Another maintains an active email discussion, linked to top industry groups. That last one spends a lot of time asking how to handle diversity issues (among other issues, like IT, closer to heir base). When they started discussing autism in the workforce, I replied (today):


The theme of autism, like the theme of encouraging innovation and creativity, is certainly important but also far trickier than people tend to assume. In fact, these two themes are both connected. Please forgive if I end up raising questions; I am still groping for answers, as I am also groping for answers to the question of how we could push the new development of the IOT into a safer pathway.

I remember seeing and hearing government efforts to encourage creativity which included the funding of chorus lines to chant "yes we can" and " we WILL be creative," which reminded me a lot of the singing sessions Bo Xilai propagated in China until Xi caught up with him. (I am not exaggerating here. I remember a more serious workshop in the Westin Hotel near the old NSF, where we could hardly hear our speakers at times over the loud chanting from the government-funded innovation corps in the adjoining room.) It is true that self-affirmations can be useful in focusing the memory of those who have not yet learned deep inner self-control and focus, but it is also true that developing social commitments without the ability of people to follow through personally often leads to nonproductive forms of groupthink.  The folks who develop new engines are not the folks who love to lose themselves singing and dancing in such chorus lines. The folks who are too embedded in such social activities often fail to take the mental acts of will required to get out of current thinking, to get out of the box in reality. They remind me a bit of the couch potatoes who cheer loudly for their sports team, while they drink beer and let their OWN bodies go to seed -- worshipping physical activity but not doing much of it. 

But no, autistic people are not generally like that. They are the exact opposite of that. If we approach autism in the same spirit of charity as medieval Christian nobility did, feeling ever so good about themselves as they distributed a few bits of bread or small coins to the poor from time to time, we will not do full justice to what different ways of thinking can really contribute.

Modern neuroscience actually could discuss autism at a much deeper level than today's practical clinical guides. But the details are complicated, and you wouldn't want to see them all in an email.
for links to a debate which included them and "the new AI" in a debate, which only set up a few of the prerequisites). But perhaps a few examples would bring out more on what the real challenges are here.

First -- it seems clear that Albert Einstein himself was autistic. (I have been to conferences for mathematicians and physicists where I spoke to people who actually knew him and Von Neumann, and who verified things in the literature.) I believe it was Hildebrand (sp?) who had access to twelve top mathematicians of the time, including those twelve, and all twelve EXCEPT Von Neumann thought in images so intensely that they had problems with ordinary verbal thinking. Right-brain types. (Von Neumann was more balanced.) Obviously Einstein was not stupid, and he did produce interesting words, but he was focused, fixated and even alienated in a way which people around him were overwhelmed by. His childhood problems integrating with society are well documented.
I have often thought: if he had gone to a modern, more benevolent kind of school, they would have treated his autism more effectively, and he would have grown up as a more normal, well-integrated person. How many potential Einsteins have been cured in that way in modern US and China, converted into more docile personalities better integrated into our enthusiastic chorus lines? 

Second -- when I ran several technology-oriented research programs at NSF from 1988 to 2014, we worked hard to find out who the most truly creative, ground-breaking thinkers were across many fields. That database of experience really shaped my attitudes on many things, and did not support the conventional ways of thinking about them. I was reminded at times of what a teacher once told me about Sophocles, about how all the great heroes had to have fatal flaws as well. I remember one woman who complained to be about the irrascible behavior of one guy I funded, and I replied: "EVERYONE I have funded, who does visible or useful work, has SOMETHING truly weird or challenging about them." She replied: "WHAT? You fund ME, and I am perfectly normal." Relatively speaking, she really was -- but she was also a practicing witch and a teacher in a school of flamboyant belly-dancing.  (By the way, the guy she complained about spoke just like Donald Trump. It was really unnerving for me to hear Trump a few years ago for the first time, and to recognize so many familiar mannerisms. The guy also made a lot of money, getting into one of those lists at Inc, until he had a major collision with a major defense company engaged in corrupt practices.) Lamar Smith put a stop to that kind of thing, all across the board, and put more emphasis on chorus lines; that's basically why I chose to retire in 2015, as did a lot of other NSF Program Directors. 

How can we make full room for the very most extreme and productive potential of such people, without crushing them (or even the Von  Neumann types) into useless nonthreatening docile behavior, but also without unleashing their OWN less social possibilities to make life hell for the rest of us? I remember trying hard to fund an irrascible guy who reminded me a lot of the Koch Brother's father, whose new engine could have really remade the whole world economy... but he kept offending people .. and I wondered what he might have done IF he had become a billionnaire, as he really should have. 

Many years ago, when I worried about local schools crushing my OWN children, I did help create a kind of local partial solution. I worked with a local Quaker meeting, to set up a new K-8 school (still doing quite well), which made it a firm mission: "Our mission is not to indoctrinate. Our primary mission is to develop SKILLS. Above all, we will maximize development of the powers of the body, the brain and the soul -- NOT belief but practice and skills." How to do that? Not easy, but the key was to keep trying and learning. Years later, I was surprised to learn that Thomas Jefferson played a key role in founding west Point, which still remembers that same mission! The same three skill sets! I wondered: what does West Point do to develop skills of the soul, as Jefferson called for? Their big display on that one stressed social diversity and football. But in the end, I should probably concede that West Point may have done more to foster the unique potential of autistic kids than our Quaker School did. But then again... (But: to the big three, we should have added the integration of the three. And the fostering of just enough "humility" to be able to learn things.)

All for now. If anyone read this far, I thank you for your patience. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Must we choose between Trump and war? The deep story.

This is serious, folks, and urgent.

Can any of you consider the possibility that I personally have had access to information on all sides, which dramatically changes the simplified guesstimates we see on CNN or in Trumps's statements?
Without any requirement to believe any psychic type inputs? Maybe not, but as a matter of due diligence, I do feel some duty to say a few things at a time when it would be possible in principle to avoid the worst. THINGS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM ON A SUPERFICIAL QUICK LOOK.

Last week, in Rio and in airports and airplanes to and from Rio, I had lots of conversations with well-placed people from all over the earth. In fact, my paper given at the WCCI2018 conference,, gives lots of references you can check if you do not believe me, including:

[23] U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Open Hearing on Worldwide Threats, Feb. 13, 2018, en-hearing-worldwide-threats-hearing-1 and

As one part of that hearing, you can see that ALL major US intelligence agencies place great emphasis on understanding what's next in "the new AI." Since this was the world's most advanced conference in that field, sponsored very visibly by McAfee, is it possible that very interesting people were candid with me (a key technical leader there) , in environments relatively free form recording?
People from all over the world?

Key people from outside the US were generally livid about Trump. Let's face it: personal insults (and flattery) DO have big effects on people all over the world, even political leaders. When humans are insulted, their brains are flooded with hormones which tend to block the higher rational faculties. Trump knows that, obviously, but equally obviously considers it rational to allow in his own brain.

My first answer to their questions: I compared him to another person (a very well-meaning Democrat,  not Hillary) who firmly believes in a kind of "honesty" and "spontaneity" which means saying whatever pops into one's mind without a whole lot of censorship, even for objective analytical truth or for what one might say the very next day. And yes, Trump has DONE some truly horrid dumb things. And yet... I qthen uoted (without naming) a person who recently left the Trump White House, who never spoke to the press, who was far more candid with friends than most of the folks CNN talks to.

Her position: "Trump is not so bad. He really wants to do some very important things which need to be done. The problem is that he is surrounded by  so many bad people, advisers who were thrust on  him by the swamp, because he did not have enough personal contact with people who have the technical, substantive knowledge he needs. Their power struggles are MUCH more than the simple personality conflicts the press seems to imagine. They are the ones who digest most of Trump's efforts to do good things, and output .. digestive products... many of which make the swamp much worse."

Yes, Trump has done some truly horrid things, which threaten the Republic. Perhaps the worst is to carelessly appoint judges likely to maintain the ban on limits to legalized corruption, money in politics, which is FAR worse now than just the partial view shown in the well-documented book Dark Money (one of Hilary's favorites, her friends tell me, along with Brock's book, equally partial). The wires from dark money to the offices of the whips to so-called "secret societies" (outside groups improperly warping operations within government agencies, undoing the work of Teddy Roosevelt) are the core of the REAL swamp, not the little puppets who get forcibly danced around on those strings.

And yet, I warn them all: Trump himself is NOT the worst threat here and now. Ironically, though he has done much to serve the swamp (unwittingly, through his lack of understanding), he has also resisted far more effectively than Hillary would have been able to do. Her outcomes in the State Department show clearly that she did not understand the puppet strings  and more than Trump did,
and she really would have ended up like Rousseff of Brazil if she had been elected. The "swamp" was undecided about whether to get rid of Trump or not, since he has done so much to advance their interests long-term.

BUT JUST YESTERDAY, the scene changed.

What I told folks last week was: "Be careful. There are folks around Trump who are far less talkative, and far less spontaneous, far more calculated, and far more dangerous in what they want to do."
For example, DON'T UNDERESTIMATE Crown Prince Mohammed of Saudi Arabia. Please, folks, whatever you do, pray for his long life and success -- which should not be taken for granted." Some of the most important wires go back to the Moslem Brotherhood. More precisely, that Brotherhood has integrated a group of billionnaires in Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia itself, along with the Gulf-based service company Halliburton which services them, and several of its colleagues. Years ago, with my usual improbably good luck (sorry, folks), I obtained a planning document directly from that group, showing that they depend above all on a war between US and Israel versus Iran and Russia as phase two atfer phase one, the war with iraq which they and their lackeys engineered. To let them pick up the pieces, and prevent them from uniting against them. "Third Caliphate" they say.

Yes, folks, I am accusing the head of a Persian Gulf service company of being a traitor to the Republic, and very much imitating the role of Palpatine in the Star Wars movie. Did he really try to poison "W" after the SOTU on addiction to oil? In truth, a courier actually did bring me information on his meeting of friends after that speech. (Not so strange, but what was that about methods and sources? No, I didn't seek the information; it just came to me, very very physically. By the way, there probably is a press story somewhere about the big talk I gave at Rayburn two weeks before that SOTU, arranged by a House Republican helping "W". In the smaller Senate one, I was part of a two-man show with Woolsey, and maybe that got press.)

It was in the press that Cheney got rid of "lawyer barriers" in the government, and forced all kinds of intelligence sharing and even private sector access. I think that Senator Feinstein, in that hearing above, noted that the worst leaks which now endanger the power grid, came form CONTRACTORS, private sector firms with full access to everything. Maybe, thanks to Watson, more access and reality information than what the President has.

So now the folks whose top priority is to be loyal troopers to that extragovernmental network (which does not tell its puppets whose money pulls the strings) are pushing VERY hard for that war with Russia.

Sure, Putin is not perfect any more than Trump. Nor was Saddam Hussein. But careless war hysteria would end up worse than what Trump is doing.

Any hope to stop that war? Not if CNN and Dems let themselves be manipulated into hysteria,
per "edge of chaos" regime change (well-known to folks who plan regime changes), into war.
Hysteria is not the most effective policy, to put it mildly.

Swamp wants Rouda, to avoid risk of anything added to the conversation... to suppress any voice against war.


Added at 3PM: Trump caves to the swamp just now and to the House, clearly lies. God help us.
Purchases nonimpeachment by promising money, guaranteed to cause future sequestration or devastating deficits. A step towards liquidating the US public sector, and deeper cutbacls to education.

Monday, June 25, 2018

A reply to Deepak Chopra

On Mon, Jun 25, 2018 at 7:18 AM, Deepak Chopra <> wrote:

Speaking of physicalism... two people on the Vedanta list recently debated "which came first, mind or matter"?

My response:

From a first person viewpoint, as in humble Goethian German existentialism,  there are times when honesty demands we say "I do not know." Nor do any of us here. I have a pretty inflated idea of how much I think I know compared to other people, but never so inflated that I would claim to see more than 15 billion years in any direction in space and time. 'Which came first, mind or matter?" No, we don't know. I often see debates which remind me of a cartoon of a fetus speculating about the sex lives of its parents -- with more empirical basis perhaps than we humans have for speculating about what lies beyond 15 billion years. Experience also tells me that those who claim to see much further than that are by that very claim showing their testimonies are less reliable than those of most scientists or authentic mystics. 

Modern rational thinking, promulgated in great part by Von Neumann (and his follower Raiffa), demands that we learn to discuss first person subjective probabilities, instead of pretending to a false certainty about the things we know the least. 

Perhaps I am closer to Kashyap, in attributing a 70% subjective probability for myself that our entire cosmos is ultimately governed by well-defined mathematical dynamics such as PDE or random graphs, operating over a well-defined mathematical space. (e.g. Minkowski space, Fock space, Klein-Kaluza, etc.) But one possibility in that set is the possibility that the cosmos is a kind of torus, bent back on itself in time, such that matter and minds both exist both before and after. One possibility. Another possibility we should not rule out is that of infinite time in both directions, with matter and minds both existing as far back and as far forwards "as we can see" and further. A possibility. And of course, there is a logical possibility of those classic Big Bang theories in which matter actually DOES exist before minds. It does not feel right to me, but I suppose I have no logical right to rule it out, especially not in the context of modern rational discussions of humans today. Some possible mathematical models remind us that the word "mind" itself is just an English word, inherently ambiguous, which may or may not fit certain more precise possibilities.  

But in truth, I also attribute something like 30% probability to SOME KIND of "idealism" or "cosmos as mind" or "this cosmos as a dream or simulation" theory. But there are MANY theories possible in that space, and I see little connection between ideological idealism and the kinds of weird things that woulds drive me to make some small allowance for such things. How to sort out how things would REALLY work if they are so weird, and how to test for that level of weirdness in the real life of first person experience? Yet even in such models, it is not obvious how time works, and there are many possibilities. I am often reminded of the movie Inception... but whatever.


Sunday, June 24, 2018

4D Fock Space: Don’t Underestimate Doctor Strange

Yesterday, Luda suggested: Why not watch Doctor Strange again in Netflix? Now that you have been to Kathmandu, and really experienced how authentically weird it can be, why not compare the movie more with the real place and the real thing? So, OK, I did.
Of course, many confident intellectuals would be horrified to imagine anyone truly serious watching such a movie, let alone thinking about it in a serious way. In the session on Culture at the Federal Foresight Community of Interest (FFCOI) two weeks ago, one speaker expressed total disdain for the most popular movie series, like Avengers (which includes Dr. Strange) and Star Wars and such -- “totally out of touch with reality.” Maybe, maybe not. Who is actually more out of touch with reality, folks in Washington DC who assume they know all of what is really going on, or the folks who write those movies? In actuality, it is not always obvious. Stan Lee probably does not know what is REALLY going on, but neither do I, and I know enough to know what is obviously wrong about so many other things people confidently think they know. Even in Kathmandu.
One small thing: just as Doctor Strange crosses the threshold to a whole new world in Kathmandu, Mordo warns him: “Forget everything you thought you knew.” In fact, when I was asked to give a nice brief overview of “the new AI” and machine consciousness -- of the best of what we really have learned in decades of pioneering that area -- I properly summarized the lessons learned by a quote from Mark Twain: “It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.” (For the details of that story, see .)
But what the movie reminded me of most was about physics. Serious physics. Very serious, fundamental questions about mathematical quantum physics. Lots of people write hundreds of equations about quantum physics, but even now I keep remembering one of the proposals I handled at NSF where the guy crammed about 100 equations into 15 pages but clearly did not really understand what any one of them actually meant. It is not so easy to understand what certain equations really mean. People get away with writing equations they do not understand because few others do either, and we all just muddle through. Even a movie can be helpful in stimulating us to ask what we really think our equations might be telling us.
Do you find that hard to believe? Do you assume that nothing could be hidden there in the math? Well, a few decades ago, mainstream people thought they understood everything really important and basic about ordinary differential equations (ODE), the standard way of describing the dynamics of any system made up of a few variables fluctuating with time. “Dynamical systems theory.” Huge texts were written by people like Jay Forrester trying to convey the wisdom of ODE to people like industrial managers and policy makers. But then came “chaos theory.” Work on “chaos theory” showed us that simple ODE systems can generate behavior much weirder than anyone used to believe -- weirdness which is a real part of our life on earth.

But ODE systems vary in time, not space. At any moment of time, they assume a world made up of just a few mathematical variables. That’s not our world. The most basic mathematical description of systems which vary both in space and time are Partial Differential Equations (PDE) -- well known to anyone in serious mathematical physics or engineering (or many other areas). Calculus 1b? One thing I have come to appreciate more and more is that the surprises awaiting us in the world of PDE are much much stranger and bigger than mere chaos theory. Maybe even just as strange as those strange movies like Dr. Strange. Maybe even stranger than quantum mechanics as such, even though quantum mechanics assumes that we live in a cosmos which SOUNDS much stranger than the mere 3+1 dimensional space time of Einstein’s PDE models.
The most solid form of quantum mechanics, used as the foundation of the electronics and photonics industries today, assumes that we live in a kind of infinite dimensional “multiverse,” or “Fock Space.” (Are you skeptical that I really know what I am talking about here? See For years, I got to probe in depth what people really do in that industry, and it’s not about philosophical interpretations of verbal discussions between electrons, like what you see in a lot of the quantum philosophy or Vedanta literature.) The basic idea is that you and me and the transistors in your radio actually exist in a state called “quantum superposition”. There are multiple versions of us existing in parallel, in the larger cosmos. The simple three-dimensional world which we seem to inhabit at any one time may be called a “universe” -- but there is an infinite number of versions of ourselves, and “universes”, inhabiting one very much larger “multiverse” (Fock space). (And, by the way, the Dr. Strange movie talks explicitly about multiverse quite often, and its sequel Infinity Wars centers on that very same concept.)
When I first learned about the idea of Fock space, in the late 1960’s, I was very intensely skeptical of it. Like Einstein and De Broglie and Schrodinger, I felt that Heisenberg’s weird equations must be a colossal mistake of some kind. Above all: couldn’t those weird wave functions defined over “Fock space” actually be statistical correlation matrices of some kind, really just describing the emergent weird behavior of a simpler real world governed by “simple” plain old PDE? They do look a lot like correlation functions…
So now let me be honest, even though I know most people will kill anyone who is too honest. As I get older, there are some things I should say, regardless, because otherwise they might be unsaid forever by humans.
The hardest core evidence now available clearly tells us two things, a crucial core paradox: (1) that quantum dynamics over Fock space CAN be explained as statistical correlations over Fock space (e.g.; and (2) despite that, the empirical evidence is overwhelming that macroscopic Schrodinger cats exist ( ). (That second link is to a review, with very hard core physics citations, written for some of the folks I met in Kathmandu, as I lived a life as close as anyone has ever come on earth to a real life Dr. Strange. There are parts of Kathmandu which now look more like movie scenes set in Hong Kong.)
Oops. How do we reconcile that? And how do we navigate the realm of really huge weirdness it implies? Furthermore -- the more we really understand, the more flexible and creative we can be in developing new technologies, such as technology to manipulate time, including some experiments which have already been done but have produced results so weird they are not yet ready to publish. (A few of them coming to light soon, I hope.)
In 2014, I first faced up to this paradox, just in time to update an invited paper in press in Russia ( It suggests a shocking possibility, many steps beyond what physics proper is really ready for yet: that we DO inhabit a very weird “simple” PDE universe, in a way, but “we” are actually just POSSIBILITIES in the set of space-time histories that the underlying (Lagrangian) optimization program gives consideration to. We are like the shadows in Plato’s cave, and not that one simple reality. It turns out that those PDE which emerge from the mathematics of optimization (the modern extension of the old mathematics of Lagrange) are especially weird, and our very lives may be an echo of that weirdness. Sorry, folks, but that's how mathematical modeling works out; with better understanding, we don’t always find that we are the center of the universe! (I also noted the scene in the Dr. Strange movie where the Ancient One says to the Doctor: “You need to get it through your head that it’s not about you.” Of course, that is another one of those things I myself need to be conscious never to forget.)  Right now, all of this points towards a need to be very practical in physics, and clean up what we do in Fock Space (which is mostly a good enough guide for the “spiritual” level of reality as well, at least for most of my life so far), putting the PDE stuff back to the future, leaving just a few bread crumbs about the workings of the PDE in notes I may or may not ever post (going well past a few possibilities in papers published years ago). I have learned a lot about how to say “meow” like a proper Schrodinger cat, especially as concerns the physics of time. (Another reason for downplaying the PDE level now: it points directly to dangerous possible technologies, ways to make it real what Nicholas Manton of Cambridge sometimes hints about, which could kill us all on earth, especially given daily reminders by political authorities all over the earth how irresponsible they are.)
But the movie reminded me last night of yet a further paradox: the usual multiverse math all assumes a “Fock space” across three-dimensional space. It assumes time is fundamentally different from space. When we manipulate time as if it were different from space, we fail to understand a few things. It seems as if we are trying to cope with a vast infinite dimensional “firehose of information” squeezed through a narrow hose of one-dimensional time. Even in my 3AM most conscious meditation, the “firehose of information” was really getting to me -- until Luda said: “Stop thinking of it as a firehose of information. Think of it as an Ocean.” Oh, duh, 4D, not 3D. And oh, duh, what of those folks who talked about the “ocean” level of consciousness? 4D.
To some extent, I have already been experiencing things in 4D (i.e. reconstructing my mental images of reality in that more complete representation) already since then, but the movies (Dr. Strange and Infinity War) remind me that manipulating time in the usual 3D_Fock+1D_time way of thinking misses important aspects of what is going on. Even if we need to think in terms of Fock space reality for practical life, is 3D enough? In fact, true mathematical physicists (the kind who know what axiomatic quantum field theory is, Haag’s Theorem, constructive quantum field theory and all that) are all aware of a classic little book by Streater and Wightman which attempted to develop FOUR dimension-based Fock space more rigorously. (The Feynmann path version of quantum field theory, described in the authoritative text Quantum Field Theory by Weinberg, is a very hands-on practical attempt to be four dimensional, which drives mathematicians batty due to the unbounded hand-waving shortcuts.) But even Streater and Wightman was grossly incomplete… so to understand things better do we have to clean THAT up, before getting to PDE?
Just a few zingers before I move on.
Years ago, before I spent years trying to reach BACKWARDS to where the mainstream now lives (e.g. in, I first developed the mathematics of PDE versus Fock space in the FULL FOUR DIMENSIONAL version. I quickly learned that a full up four dimensional version of Fock space was incomprehensible to mentally resistant mainstream hands-on users of hands-on Schrodinger equations, and so I spent time translating back to something more comprehensible to them. The arxiv paper using 3D Fock space was intelligible to folks like Marlan Scully (world’s top practical quantum optics theorist), and I was delighted to be invited to present that generalization in their elite Princeton workshop in 2014 and 2015. (I am sorry I did not realize they just wanted a rerun in 2015; I made the mistake of trying to move on to some wild new experiments, which people may be ready for in just a few years.) But the 4D version is there, in my scanned papers… maybe I will publish it someday, maybe not. I should think more about the empirical implications… just for my own enlightenment, maybe possibly to help me kibbitz the folks doing real work…
And: OK: one more even crazier thing.

I have come to believe that the best, most workable explanation for what people call “psychic” or “spiritual” experience and life is the evolution of life in the great ocean of dark matter and energy which we now know pervades the entire cosmos, in a vast network connecting (and creating!) all the galaxies. (And yes: creating. Read the recent work on how weak star formation is in the few protogalaxies that lack dark matter.)  But oops: just last night I noticed the “dark” stuff in the Dr. Strange movie. Oh, dear!! Is Stan Lee really just afraid of his own shadow, and creating imaginary monsters in his mind? Or is it all in the realm of dreams, like the final scene of one of the acts in Kathmandu?

Who knows? Lots to think about and play with.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Trump's speech on Space Corps

The reactions to Trump's speech on space corps have many characteristics similar to the reactions to his speeches in many other areas, some helpful and some less so. 

Our community wants to be very practical and earthy in how we interpret such things, but all these experiences demonstrate that we cannot ignore the deep psychology involved. 
In a video conversation of other issues with IT executives recently, we agreed that economics and psychiatry are the two additional disciplines needed most to penetrate the veil of illusions in Washington -- not only with Trump, but with reactions to Trump and to what he says. Is Trump a living, breathing Rorshach test, bringing out the deep traumatic aberrations, biases and euphoric aberrations of almost all listeners left and right?

There are many Trump speeches which are best heard as one would hear a report of an extremely vivid dream. (Like the book of revelations?) They are well worth analyzing, but only a few of them should be taken at face value. Many of Trump's speeches represent really important visions of what could be (for good or ill), but it is a HUGE mistake to just assume that they will happen, unless they just happen to fit the game plans of major political donors or emerging IT networks (which do not all agree with each other). 

In this case, I was initially very happy to hear about Trump's new determination to build up US capabilities in space, because our situation with launch costs is really quite desperate, and without it our bottom line in the human development of space is zero. Better something risky than the final spasms of total death. And folks aligned with ULA would not allow progress on launch costs unless some excuse were found to keep it deeply classified, so that it does not interfere with the effectiveness of paid chorus lines who sing to the glory of throwing money away on useless makework projects in worthy rural areas, or to the unbound spirit of entrepreneurial zeal uninhibited by regulations OR by technical reality.

As with most of Trump's better initiatives, there may be a few gigantic rough edges which need cleaning up, but that would be part of the package. The cleanup is important in general, but not a basis for switching to the alternative of death to realistic hope for humans in space. It's not as if we haven't probed the alternative pathways. 

But in fact, we have often seen cases where Trump speeches ended up in sound and fury without consequence (except to his reputation). The recent chaos regarding immigration sure conveys a lot of that.
He does not control "the swamp," and seems rather oblivious even to where it is. My best guess right now is that the swamp will drown him on this, at multiple levels, and that the nation will throw out the baby with the bathwater. If our only concern is with the future of humans in space, we will not just add redundant strength to the swamp, but think hard about how to save the baby (maybe by cleaning up rough edges like the people Trump turned this over to?).

Best of luck. We all need it.


On the emerging It networks... yesterday, a guy asking me about the South China see and surveillance reminded me that "drinking from a firehose" is a core issue for NSA. So of course, from keyword filters to Watson.
Is THAT why Mike Rogers a few years ago, in a meeting before a thousand people, said as best I recall: "You need to understand, WE are the tail and HE (a guy representing IBM on the stage) is the dog." Does IBM have more information and power than the president? Does google wonder whether facebook is just "the first domino to fall" before the new order? Whatever... 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Research needed to better understand interface of brain and soul

I broke off my connection to the Vedanta discussion list after its manager asked that we show more respect for folks who object rigidly and dogmatically (with ideological stereotypes and personal attacks on all scientists and Westerners) to concepts like objective reality and Darwin. But some of the same folks do cc me at times on a few things. One of them cc'ed me today on the issue of brain waves versus samadhi, which is a good starting point... to a serious challenge. I replied:


Thank you, ...,  for cc'ing me on a discussion which tries to combine several important topics.

You being by asking what URM has to do with samadhi. Since I do not know what "URM" means here, I did a quick google. The hits were dominated by "Underrepresented Minorities."
We never used that acronym when I was at NSF; instead we used "WMD" (which can mean women, minorities or disabled, or weapons of mass destruction). It seems that "URM" and "WMD" are like "consciousness;" if one insists they are just one thing, the same thing, one can get into trouble. 

By the way, I am also cc'ing Oded Maimon, who was a plenary speaker at the meeting in Nepal last year. Perhaps I would cc Lotfi Zadeh, if he were alive. These discussions give many, many examples where we need to be conscious of the fuzzy nature of the words we use, in order to avoid misunderstanding. It is not a small matter in these discussions. 

To better understand what you are saying, I next did a google on "URM brain." The result was interesting, including a paper I should probably read:

There has been a recent DARPA funding initiative to try to better understand how the brain minimizes its energy cost, with hopes of reducing energy cost in computers by learning lessons from the brain. Is that what you were reacting to?

I have friends who are very serious BOTH about understanding energy efficiency in the brain, AND about correlations between "brain waves" (EEG and related measurements) and meditative states. These are both very worthwhile topics where we all have a lot to learn, if we approach it as an exercise in curiosity and learning new things. I don't see that much direct connection between the two topics right now. The second topic is quite interesting -- and maybe even important to the real calling of assisting human development. Perhaps we should discuss it more. 

On Thu, Jun 21, 2018 at 7:16 AM, .... wrote:
URM makes quantitative predictions of Samadhi state as well all other meditative states (brain waves) you describe -

Samaadhi and all other meditative states are not the brain waves in itself.

Certainly you are right about this. 

You are right to make distinction between "samadhi" and  "brain waves," even though both terms have fuzzy boundaries. 

I tend to think of "brain waves" as EEG recordings, or recordings of electromagnetism emanating from the brain. (I do not claim that this is "the right definition," since no such thing exists. It is just a common language word. It would be nice if you recall the philosopher Ayers, but let me not distract with that.)

Thus I would actually make a THREE-FOLD distinction here:

(1) States of interface between brain and "soul" such as samadhi and others;

(2) Measured or measurable "brain Waves" (EEG or MRI or ECOG or electrode recording or the like);

(3) Actual states of the electrical or electromagnetic inputs and outputs of all the neurons of the brain.

You and I certain agree that "soul" comprises something much bigger than the electromagnetic state of the brain (or even its QED state, which is somewhat larger, including the positions and attributes of all the electrons, protons, neutrons and electromagnetic fields of the brain). For me, this is not a philosophical assumption, but a very strong conclusion based on what we know about QED and about the most basic, well-verified "siddhis" like remote viewing. That conclusion implies that it would be a gross category error to assume that states (1) are a subset of states (2) or (3).

Samaadhi states are the states of consciousness as higher Vs our wakeful conscious states. It could be that as higher levels of conscious states are achieved, and that is what is the Samaadhi states. its effect is created on the physical brain in form of e.m waves of altered wavelengths. But I am doubtful of this.

Here I must try to make a clarification, and hope you forgive me for doing so. It is an important point; without clarification, one can not make real progress in this area. 

As we sit here typing words into keyboards, it is our brain which is controlling our fingers as we type. The brain has NO SANE BASIS WHATSOEVER for assuming that sidhis or samadhi exist at all, UNLESS the soul somehow leaves some kind of trace 
on the brain. For this and other reasons, it makes great sense to try to understand what patterns the soul may cause to appear in the brain, under many different states of type (1). In my view, this is a very promising area for research. It is not ALL of life or ALL of what we need to study, but it is one of the positive threads which should be better supported on many levels.

A few weeks ago, my wife led me on a three-mile walk to a local library, just to benefit my health (and to talk). They were selling a silly old paperback novel, the Rowan, by Ann McCaffrey. For 25 cents, I bought it, and used it to relax. 
It began with an oversimplified but important idea: how a better understanding of the correlations between brain waves and states (1) could improve our ability to TEACH and MASTER states (1), which really could be important to the future of humanity. Given how desperate the situation of humanity is today (as many things become ever more dangerous), we really should not throw away any such positive hope. Those who say we should not give in to despair about the future of humanity because "God will save us" should ask what we should do to give God and soul a better chance to really manifest on this planet; murderous folks who claim to speak for God without even trying to listen certainly are part of the problem, not part of the solution. 


This endeavor does not require waiting for a well-justified mathematical theory of the physics of the soul. (It is good that the political authorities in Scythia did not order that the Iron Age should be postponed until the solid state physics of ferroic materials was established. Use of electrical brain stimulation SHOULD be held back until people have a better understanding of brains and societies, but even there it is not about waiting for physics.) 

It is a much more practical, empirical matter. Instead of starting from metaphysics, we need to start by getting more workable, practical maps of the great diversity of states (1), as we find them in ordinary life (both trained and untrained, selected and raw), and connecting them with the great diversity of brain wave states. Dean Radin's work is one important window into the diversity of states (1) . Likewise, the work of his colleagues, as in the great collection "Consciousness" by Goleman which I have recommended again and again to people discussing that subject. And yes, there are other sources. At this moment, I am reminded of the very beautiful colorful paperback ..

(Hey, buy it now, used for $1.25!!)

From the theory point of view, I have previously mentioned the idea that operating near the "edge of chaos", as in hypnagogic states (what reminded me of the book) fits what we would expect from REAL physics about the soul-brain interface much better than the popular quantum category errors. Thus to induce interesting states of type (1), one very important new tool to include in  the protocols is something discussed by MIT people at Tucson conference:

A few days ago, a wandering humble Sikh mystic suggested that I look into  Vipassana, On the Vedanta list, there was almost no follow-on interest when I raised the issue of breathing exercises (one of many tools relevant to 1), and the simple humble ($10) incentive spirometer which can assist them, but they also might have a place in future experiments. Breathing is important even to empirical studies of rats, let alone humans. And there is also very practical empirical work by Pete Sanders of Sedona, which might help in preparing useful experiments with high variance in the data. (I disagree with his physics as much as I disagree with Vinod's, but that is not relevant to these experiments.)

Of course, I do not expect us to have much access to "perfect samadhi" in initial experiments, but the more we learn from states along the path, the better our chances of going further in the future, not only in experiments but in our lives.
My paper in Neural Networks 2012 also gives some thoughts about more effective training of the mind, grounded both in mathematics and in what I have learned from world literature on that. 


Best of luck,


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

what space pioneers need to know about "the swamp" and the soul

Posted to the main list working to make space solar power a real option for electricity generation, followed by the larger challenge of human potential (what I planned most to do in retirement):

1. SPS and the swamp  ============================================

Making SPS "real" (the target of supplying at least 10% of world electricity at a generation cost no more than 10 cents per kwh) is a VERY daunting challenge, with no guarantees of success. But it is SO important, I am glad that some of us keep discussing strategies and options and collaborations to TRY to get there. It is good that some of us are very flexible in HOW to get there, because goals as hard as this cannot be achieved without flexibility. It reminds me of the old saying "No battle plan survives the first few minutes.." 

And no army or commander survives long without a certain degree of situational awareness. ANY real success with SPS does require some awareness of the disposition and nature of what some call "the swamp," epitomized in my mind by the very specific lobby groups working for the oil industry I alluded to last time and by folks who are both committed to NASA development of expendable rockets by the least qualified possible workforce (ala Ares or SLS) AND to the elimination of any possible competition to that in launch services. A certain kind of bipartisan corruption in Washington  (similar to the depiction of lobbyists in Atlas Shrugged) is the REAL swamp, and I often wish Trump fully understood that so that he could better resist or even shrink it. He hasn't seen how it really works at ground level across the main relevant government agencies, but ... as the old radio show said..
"the specter knows," and so do the janitors like me (especially after having worked for Specter). His recent attacks on federal workers actually make the swamp worse, by making it easier for external puppetmasters to give binding orders to them. 

Here is one example of the evillest swamp at work, actually important to SPS:

What does it have to do with SPS? Well, it turns out that Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, was the number one force for sanity on energy policy in Congress for many years, deeply respected by his colleagues, and powerful enough in the committee system. (And yes, he was important to me personally, as I worked closely at times with his two key energy staffers). 

Among other things, Bartlett was the chief spokesman for "peak oil" in Congress, the belief that national security demands greater diversity and flexibility in transportation fuel, and that it would be VERY risky to expect the US to meet its own oil demands forever. 

His colleagues respected him,  but certain well-heeled forces (the same ones who got rid of my old boss before my eyes) felt very strongly that that kind of national security effort and peak oil stuff was TABOO. And they simply got rid of him. 

What now? What can we do to keep the country from being liquidated, despite the unavoidable reality of those forces more firmly in place now than they were back then? 

You folks never had the experience of a certain type of Middle East oil guy (not the good Prince Mohammed type) come in to a US government agency and give them new orders to stop funding technologies which might create competition to orthodox oil and gas (which does not include methanol) and refocus research to ensure their dominance forever, with Lamar Smith's buddy standing next to him to reinforce the message. (Guess why I retired... along with half the other R&D leaders.) Nor the even worse experiences I have heard of from folks in other agencies we worked with. 

Ah, if only we had managed to get Exxon a stake in low-cost advanced launch services. But sounding like Roscoe Bartlett on peak oil is not the way to warm their hearts, to put it mildly.

Years ago, there was a small group called the "Propulsion Group" with chief economists of oil guys and auto guys with the legally required government presence. If THOSE guys were still like what I saw (in the year when I was the gov ernment presence), America really would become great again (and Exxon would sell a lot more methanol). But the great guy who set it up is 95 years old now, and a different breed has taken over power in so many industries. 

One key ever-present challenge is how to STRENGTHEN connections with Boeing, while AVOIDING the worst of the swamp  monsters (if possible by simply avoiding their turf except with a real pass from their real bosses).

Best of luck... 

#2. Reply to a friend committed to human potential ================================

Good morning, ...!

Since the basic goal here is extremely important, and I owe you very special respect, I owe you some background information before we go further. ..

Immediately after the Nepal conference, I was ready put in multiple levels of energy and time into the goal of broadening education all over the world to
better fulfill the core goal: developing the skills and strengths of ALL people in the three great continents of body, brain and soul, including the skills to connect the three and accelerate harmonious integration of all three. 

By now, I know enough about brains to know in some depth why effectiveness demands that we take the time to remember a larger goal again and again, and come back to "replan" our strategy. 
if I were in China, I would perhaps write that last sentence in very big characters and post them as a (citeable) banner in many places. 

And so, I am glad you are still on target there.

I remember saying to a friend that I met two or three people in India from whom I might actually learn something BEYOND what we learn on the normal high level we have here in places like the old NSF and local interactions with the best people I have access to around DC. ....

And so, we had a brief flurry of discussions .. which seemed promising,  but simply ended. ..

I wanted to forward to you all of that discussion (and check to see how much you were included), but yesterday I could not find the most important part of the discussion. Maybe today it will reappear, maybe not. I do remember my greatest worry: how to make sure that new efforts are truly cosmopolitan and oriented towards skills, with an absolute minimum of indoctrination and factionalism. I am ever mindful of the way in which good intentions have led to bad results at times (not just in education but in other areas!) (Those last two sentences also may merit a big banner.) 

As an example, I think of billionnaires in the Middle East, whose great donations to education ended up producing doctrinal madressas and more secular schools producing students who can get no jobs; both have led to decay of political systems, of stability, of culture; and of the soul itself in large parts of the world. Even in the US, "Christian madressas" are a major part of the negative developments of recent years, undermining the great work of Thomas Jefferson who, for all his limitations, was a great positive force for spiritual progress in the West. I am not a devotee of Thomas Jefferson, but I am deeply appalled at how the world seems to appreciate less and less how positive he was; we cannot fdo better unless we appreciate some of the key accomplishments of the past. 

Even in the effort to avoid decay into indoctrination, it is hard to avoid the basic fact that integrated growth of body, brain and soul tends to require belief in just these specific basics -- growth, body, brain, soul and integration. (In ancient China, perhaps I would call these the Five Great Seeds of Life.) It is a kind of necessary common denominator in this effort. To demand more (other than a few basics of constructive behavior) would be very risky, and a "slippery slope." 

But discussions on the sadhu list and elsewhere have made it very vivid to me how deeply committed many people are AGAINST one or more of the Five great Seeds. Interacting with those people reminded me of two experiences from the Nepal trip -- a simple connection to the main mosque of Doha in Qatar, and the connection I made in the presence of you and Joan in Kathmandu. All these represent a kind of breaking of a serious spiritual dam. (There were two other dam breakings I experienced in Nepal, one more challenging than what you saw and one less. I did not talk about the more challenging one to anyone, and no one in our group witnessed it. If Vadaran's swami could intuit what THAT was, I will be very deeply impressed. It had a Buddhist flavor.) 

By "dam breaking", I mean a kind of connection which involves a difficult level of energy to cope with, which demands very careful patience and self-control... a good thing which can become very bad if pushed too hard, too far, too fast, too crudely. Whenever I think of "dam breaking" experiences, I remember Annie Besant's little book on thought forms, which my wife Luda and I saw on Ghandhi's shelves in Mumbai. (We still have the photograph she took, which I posted on the web.) She talks about not pushing open the eyes of the mind TOO hard and fast (e.g. with drugs) but encouraging a natural and sustainable development. What she taught really is one important resource for strengthening the soul ... as a guide to us above all, not as a doctrine to teach
(except as one of many choices in certain advanced classes, not our K-8 starting point!). 

The discussions on the sadhu list began to remind me of that experience in Nepal, as the deep energy of people opposed to one or more of the Five Great Seeds became risky. 
I decided I am not yet ready to cope with that. I do not want to look up here and see what I saw there (what you drew my mundane eyes to in fact).

Yet in my own way, just this week, I am facing up to the core issue in what you sent me: HOW to justify the reality and importance of soul JUST ENOUGH to motivate, energize and anchor Five Seeds education? Without excess doctrine?

When I signed off of the sadhu list last week, I shifted my attention on the Consciousness front to a much smaller discussion of a few people interested in scientific journal publication but still serious about soul. I hesitate to name their names now, because of certain rules. (There are levels and levels of privacy rights and of IP.) I have been doing the same with quantum physics for some time. It is like people who feel confused, overwhelmed, who do not want to risk doing something negative because of that confusion, who withdraw FOR A LIMITED TIME to core areas they know especially well. I was very happy that the topics of Carl Jung and of archetypes came up in a serious and deep way. Neuroscience is a major part of that thread. 

Again and again in my life, in more and more areas, the theme of "one step at a time" keeps coming up. Each channel of communication, mundane and spiritual, has a kind of channel capacity, both quantitative and qualitative. I often get in trouble by saying too much too soon when people are not ready, even when it seems to me that I am speaking of things which are ridiculously elementary. 
There are dams which do need to be broken, but VERY carefully, and without unnecessary red herrings.


I should mention two more small things before closing this, and addressing some deadlines here.

First, I was stunned just a few years ago when my wife took me on a car tour of the US, and she showed me the museum of West Point, the main military academy of the US. It seems that Thomas Jefferson played a key role in planning that college. To this day they revere and talk about his goals for the college -- to develop the strengths and skills of body, brain and soul! Exactly! he was there first! It was a very successful college, though it did not FULLY attain what can be done with the three continents. In their big poster on what they do for soul, they basically listed just two activities: (1) football; and (2) affirmative action (sensitivity to minorities and gender). 

Second, last week I went back to the street where I worked for a year, in an office building of the US Senate, to attend a meeting organized by the Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers) on bipartisan action on climate change. At that meeting, I met the man who actually managed Friends Community School (FCS) after we created it, after the first school head had left. I was glad to hear that he continued to work hard to push hard the basic theme of strengthening body, brain and soul. I do not think they do football for the soul -- but they DO regularly do group meditation and the course in conflict resolution (an important kind of sensitivity training), among other things, and strive to do more. It is not easy HOW to do full justice to the Five Great Seeds, and we need to have a plan to LEARN MORE with time rather than expect to know the best way to begin. By the way, he is now more active in climate, and I was delighted that he understands how climate threatens human extinction better than anyone else I have met in my travels (except perhaps an oceanographer who just gave up and retired to a beach). 


But now I have a few more practical duties I must catch up on ...

Best regards,