Happy 2017

2017

Here’s my wish list for the world in 2017:

1. Not more stable countries and functioning pieces of the developping world fall in to the destiny of Syria. Not more peaceful cities be subjected to invasion, wars, conflicts, destruction and evacuation.
2. More refuguees go back home safe.
3. Less terrorist operations be observed in the western world.
4. The freedom of expression does not get more limited where it still exists.
5. There will be less policing, unnecessarily harsher law enforcement, survailance and control.
6. Less number of species go extinct during the year to come.
7. Multinational corporates do not come closer to a monopoly over our lives and choices. In particular there will not be more frequent mergers and acquisitions more than 10B dollars value.
8. Rich-poor gap does not get wider worldwide.
9. America becomes a democracy again!
10. The other democracies of the western world do not move to that direction, away from fair distribution of decision making and cashing out the political power.

Looking at the trends, most likely none of these will come true, so I make one last wish hoping less celebrities die in 2017. This one stands a relative chance. Specially because many more people asked for it.

Happy New Year!

Science is a Random Walk

RandomWalk
Rain on asfalt.

“Science is a random walk of accumulated literature.”

What do I mean by this compact claim is that the scientific code and its instrumentation evolve organically within an ecosystem of ideas and objects.

By scientific code I mean its language, terminologies and formulations, as well as their results and interpretations. And by its instrumentation I refer to the science-making technologies; tools and instruments.

The scientific code in its evolving journey is profoundly sensitive to its initial states as well as randomness along the way. Random elements of all kinds such as mistakes and accidents, cultural bias, geographic self-reinforcement among the scientists, charisma, manipulation by power and even the order of discoveries. All of these factors have potential to deviate scientific claims to drastically different directions.

We are limited beings trapped in a narrow set of interpretations that we call reality and therefore we are not using our imagination as much as we can to realize how things could have been otherwise. More interesting, useful, truthful alternatives do not get the chance to be seen or discussed in the dictatorship of the scientific enterprise. And scientists are behaving very politely with a fear of being abandoned, excluded or fallen in the blacklist of pseudo-sciences determined by the dominant story. And things doesn’t have to be this way.

Now speaking of the chaotic self-organized nature of the scientific random-walk, we would like to believe that there is an objective truth out there that functions as an external field and leads the scientific endeavor to get closer and closer to an “attractor” of the ultimate truth, neutralizing the effect of its random fluctuations.

This is not obvious.

How do we know that we are dealing with a controlled random walk, that there is an attractor? There may be many attractors. There may be none. There may be infinitely many with a different cardinality even. If we are destined to one thing is that we belive in destinty. And we think of science as having a destiny too. This may be an unwritten assumption but widely accepted that there’s a naturally truthful science. It may be randomly deviating people admit, but it is moving towards the attractor of the holy truth. In my experience the common claim is that not only that truth exists, we are also approaching it rather effectively. And so how can you even dare to argue over this when you are wittnessing the fantastic discoveries and the ground breaking achievements of science?

I am not unfamiliar with this world-view and can comprehend their logic, but have a completely different idea. I am saying that the myth of a naturally truthful science should be debated because it undermines the profound chaotic nature of the evolution of the scientific code and its instrumentatlity. It should be questioned because it ignores how fundamentally trapped we are in our cognitive tunnel and left alone with a very narrow and specific set of wide-spread stories that we have made about the reality.

And let’s say that the attractor of reality does exist in a sense, and that we humans are getting there because we have launched an honest journey with a solid plan. Even if so, I think without bringing up discussions like this post, such a goal is unattainable and navigating towards such a truth is impossible. We can not be sure we are on the right path, let alone the only path, if we suppress any effort to overcome our blindspots, simply because we don’t see them.

So this is what I summarize in the compact claim that science is not about the truth. Science is about the instrumental growth of the human ape, developed and expanded collectively and in a deep sense accidentally. Science is developped with the help of the limited capacities of our brain and its selfish interaction with the environment, ultimately for the sake of survival. We are fundamentally trapped in this thinking organ and besides that we do not try to keep in focus what our hard-wired biases are, as much as we should. We don’t even ask simpler questions such as how our cultural biases shape the way we think often enough. The answers can be sometimes really surprising if we dare to digg into this.

While it is still a meaningful topic to question for example how science would look like for some alien intelligent life form, I will not go that far here. I am claiming that even with the very same structure of the human brain, in a parallel version of our – let’s say – post-agricultural civilization, branched out as late as five thousand years ago and formed with a different throws of dice, the scientific code could have looked very very differently. And at this point only imagination can speculate on this important question about “how else” things could have looked like in an alternative human society. Let’s just specualte a bit. This is pure contemplation:

I think we may not have come up with Newtonian mechanics and then two theories of relativity later on, very unlikely. Instead we could have had things in between or completely different models that would still work. For example with a whole new set of definitions angular momentum did not necessarily have to imply rotation and who knows may be not a single scientist of that parallel world would have even heard of the analogy that some particles rotate around others similar to our planetary system. Imagine the possibility that Einstein’s idea of spacetime was thrown earlier than anything like Newtonian mechanics, simply on a different food diet or given another set of conflicts, power shifts and revolutions.

Imagine Which parts of Algebra would look different beyond its symbolic representation. And then to explain our cosmos how would we expect more complex formulations – such as string theory – to have formed similarly out of a completely different context? The whole axiomatization of our mathematics and how it would state its open problems could look different. It stil can. My personal hope is that it could look more fractal, and more transcendental in a sense. Or not. But we may have not had the Euclidean dominance on our early geometries, the following Cartesian coordinates and thus the use of complex numbers in some form of electronics or any technologies that would give us functionalities similar to smartphones or chip implants. Instead remarkably different tools and languages would serve a similar purpose.

The most solid pillars of our sciences shake if we think in these terms. Even the idea of evolution itself which is the support story behind this post could be told differently. Darwinism and Lamarckism wouldn’t be exposed as distinct theories with a form of epigenetics as their compromise. Other good functioning legends could be told with a different order of discoveries and their marketing.

Well, and on the other hand some core ideas and theories could have been told similarly. And it is not quite impossible to contemplate and guess which of them. It’s very difficult to place a bet for me here but I think we would still have numbers in a sense, and mathematical constants. We would somehow know the families of π and e. We would have had telecommunication and eventually at some point we would sequence our genes and hack ourselves to the next level.

What would remain intact and what would change? This is an important question for all sciences and we do have the tools and resources to make a move towards some answers these days. It’s not necessarily expensive in terms of research fund nor environmental footprint to get on to this. Imagine we live in a world when a comprehensive digitized copy of our scholarly literature is publicly available with all sorts of accessible algorithms. We can now supervise machines to evaluate a whole body of the scientific literature in a matter of days if not shorter. Machines can now reveal contradictions and fallacies in proofs and arguments, detect and neutralize the marketing bias in scientific work to extract the quality, detect and promote ignored nobel ideas and bring up the missed gems, deconstruct existing notions to come up with new ideas, and simulate the future of the whole science itself in multiparallel versions.

None of rhis is any longer farfetched. For those of you who love brands and abbreviations, I came across SSK and SSI, one in many posssible projects of meta-science in this regard. They stand for sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK) and its complementory, sociology of scientific ignorance (SSI). The maturity of these projects were the dream of philosophers such as Fayerabend and Kuhn long before the age of Big Data. That idea didn’t take off and was suppressed by other dominant codes which could make more money and thus stood the selection pressures of the scientific enterprise better, to address its demends.

Fair! They were too vague and not regirous enough. And they were not affordable at the time. Our processing power is now millions of times bigger and the immediate availability of pretty much every important scientific idea that have been created is not a dream anymore. So we can get on to such a project again.

And those of you who love stories about AI take over, would agree that if we don’t do this, at some points machines will go ahead and do it for us; or for themselves. This one is not a new story anymore, since we have probably read a piece of fiction journalism on a similar idea lately. So, crazy ideas don’t seem that farfetched when they are repeated enough or endorsed by the public.

Science is an amazing achievement and the fact that its pioneers have constantly used it to transcend itself with new paradigms, ideas and breakthroughs is simply beautiful.

Science deserves to be better than an idiocracy. While, despite its core values of a truthful struggle, like other human achievements that have become old enough in a rigid framework, it seems attracted in to that direction now. People who rightfully claim that science is white or masculine are only scratching the surface.

If you love science, care about it. Try to see its fundamental limits and so transcend it. You may still call it science and I won’t argue over terms. I think it will still not be about finding the truth; however, it is a neater struggle to serve such a purpose.

P.S. I am not viewing this post as a truthful post, either. This is just a code. It’s a rather unconventional idea in the sphere of ideas out there. Your human brains recieve it; some relate to it and some object. The process of understanding something is a set of biochemical algorithms; Logic and reasoning have that shady characteristic in common with emotions and feelings. This is why there is so much disagreement out there in the world. It’s not that people are almost always wrong. It’s because folks are different and the evolution of their worldviews take totally different pathways and so different things make sense to them based on their previous experience and knowledge. From these many ideas out there some of them get lucky enough to survive, take over and dominate for a period but it is not necessarily an indicator of their truthful. Truth may be non-monotonic in a very deep sense. It is alarming when we realize that even if the external field of reality or the attractor of truth had not existed, we would still assume them. And what I have said here has been said before in different tones and terminologies. The scientific climate has not been so friendly to those ideas and they have not got enough exposure or resources. All instances of similar claims that I managed to find have faded out due to what I think as a form of early exposure. This post is not about the truth either. You can view it as a mutation that I would like to promote. This time around it may take off somewhere around here.

Ripple or break?

Faro, Portugal - September 2016

I learned at the coastline of Faro by the Atlantic Ocean, that wind waves show two very distinct patterns. They all attack similarly but decay in two different forms: ripple or breakage.

Most distinguishable waves ripple back smoothly. They come, have their time and leave peacefully just like cultural hypes or music genres.

Some of them on the other hand crash before hitting the shore. Then there’s chaos and bubbles, like wars and revolutions, strokes and backlashes.

I think the term “wave breakage” describes a variety of phenomena of over-exhaustion. It suits financial crises better than the “bubble burst” analogy. It describes a political counter-reaction better than the term “backlash”.

“A breaking wave is one whose base can no longer support its top, causing it to collapse…”

Nature works in beats and pulses at all scales; evolution and extinction of species, rise and fall of empires, boost and decline of cultures. Ocean waves manifest similar dynamics visually; They come, leave their mark and go back in one way or the other. 🌊

Riding the wave of humanity, we will have to go back too. That is inevitable. But will our wave ripple back peacefully? Or will it break down?

Science and Truth

Science is not about the truth. It’s about our instrumental growth.

It’s a human specific language for the short-term dominance of this very species; a subjective and relative cultural viewpoint; a man-made phenomenon not only sensitive to geography and demography of its producers, but fundamentally relying on our specific physiological features.

Science is a random walk of accumulated literature largely indifferent to the reality; a set of self-reinforced terminologies that has hypnotised our collective mind.

Science is one in many possibilities that turned out to be the dominant widespread culture of our time due to a series of thrown dice with similar dynamics as rock pigeons colonized the urban landscape worldwide.

So if you take all of it too seriously you may as well think of a pterodactyl as the superior form of a flying object; the shape of a moldy bread as the most genuine form of the truth, or the last check-mate snapshot of a mediocre chess game as the ultimate possibility of a chess board.

Capitalism, Space and Time!

I had no major problem with capitalism until I realized how the beast actually works. I don’t share destructive non-libertarian views of communism or the world views of the abrahamic religions and Islam in particular. All of these dangerous ideas have a viral code for dominance and that is exactly why they have been dominating large parts of the world.

Now what I see about capitalism is frightening me even more than its key rival ideologies. And that is its simple code:

Capitalism does not deliver its massive value out of thin air. It largely borrows it from far in space and time.

And these two problems are one.

Far in space could be wherever it outsources the suffering to make a little local joy. Whether it be ethnic conflicts, African mines, animal farms, species in the oceans or cheap child labor economies, such blind treatment of these resources by the capitalistic machine is prone to overexhaustion. And this will mean that what’s far comes closer and closer. You see it has already sneaked in to our safe bubbles and we should get the message.

And what far in time means? Future. That too gets closer and closer. I think we all agree on that. So what can stop us from facing a deserted earth full of angry human apes killing each other?

Nothing. Literally nothing. No reform, no software upgrade nothing but the shut down of the machine at least with the current model.

This choice is inevitable, or else this greedy machinary will shut itself down but only after destroying all of us together.

Aleppo; Fossil Fuel, Weapon Industry and Corporate Media

It doesn’t take conspiracy thoery paranoia, nor rocket science complexity to link the Syrian war to two strong industries on each side of the Syrian proxy war: Fossil fuel and the weapon industry. And the media outlet hasn’t been sitting idle when both groups on both sides need public opinions on their side at some strategic moments.

The latest wave of worries in the Western media over Syria didn’t start until the power shifted in Aleppo; the so-called “rebels” backed by the US, Nato, Turkey, the Gulf States and Israel lost control over their most important city they had held in Syria.

And in Aleppo those rebels are now primarily al-Nusra front, a previous branch of al-Qaeda that was rebranded this year for the sake of fundability, since al-Qaeda is a UN-recognized terrorist organization. This by the way means that the trillion dollar war on terror that officially started to fight al-Qaeda is now backing it.

Now the biggest problem that west has with the Syrian government is not the genocide against its own people. The pragmatic issues with with Assad are strategic and financial and on top of the list for many lobbyists who determine the destiny of the war in Syria, lies his choice over the proposed alternatives for a bloody pipeline that will is going to bring gas from the Persian Gulf to the European markets.

Assad has for long rejected the Qatar-Saudi-Turkey pipeline and the unifying reason for the western media to chants for regime change in Syria is that the Syrian governmnet has sided with Iran and Russia for the pipeline to pass through Iraq and the Mediterranean see instead. He being back in charge of Syria means that the pipeline is not going to pass through the two most powerful allies of the west in the region, US-backed Saudis and Nato-member Turkey, both of them currently supporting ISIS, too.

Sadly this is the actual reason that the media needs your cries over children in Aleppo: al-Nusra (legitimately fundable al-Qaeda) is losing control over the city.

The new round of showcasing children filled with blood and dust narrated with fake emotions of the hosts accompanied by the *unbiased* informants in the field, are selected to justify the need for some further act of intervention in Syria. This pathetic level of propaganda conveys one message to the western citizens before christmas holidays: Syrian children are suffering and we are just sitting and watching.

No, you are not just sitting and watching in Syria. Your tax money has been spent actively to expand and prolong a war and to fund gladiators fighting each other. You are shown more children, more terrorists, more of good, bad and innocent guys so you keep buying the story.

aleppo

Have you seen the before/after pictures of Aleppo? (+). Perhaps what happened to Aleppo in the period from 2012 to 2016 was not precisely predictable at the dawn of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the so-called Operation Iraqi Freedom. But this trend should have been seen right through. That this will inevitably happen to some cities, somewhere, for its nearly impossible not to happen.

If we can’t predict where and how a pressed balloon will be torn apart at least we can know for sure that it will explode. I have learned from data analysis that if the patterns of the data does not depend on one dimension, change the dimension. If the predictions fail on one fieldn, change the key. So here if we can’t predict the world by its cities, we can do it by its bombs. Right?

I don’t have business data from the weapon industry but it should be intuitive what bombs are made for! It should be more clear than ever that the weapons produced and sold every day have a rather unpredictable path with a predictable destiny: they will go off. They get sold, travel around, change countries, meet new wharehouses, change owners with the shift of power, but one day they eventually reach the hands and brands that will use them.

The arms pumped in to this region every day is likely to go off one day and those who manufacture and trade them know this. They are well aware that this will not forever be about the cold power.

And so when the US president (whoever who takes office) or any other leader signs arms contracts worth of dozens of billions of dollars to their for-now allies, they have already created this before/after picture. We just get to see their effect materialized a couple of terms later.

And so we should be really naive ignoring that this destiny is awaiting many more peaceful cities around the world. We don’t know the list, just yet, but there will be a list. And it will also be very naive to assume that such future list will be limited to the middle eastern cities; Aleppo, Mosul, Ben Ghazi, San’aa…

Forget about countries, flags, names and borders. They are just made-up divisions in our heads. They are good for the media to tell stories for your dinner table.

Our shitty civilization is globally connected.

PS. On the other side of the proxy war, there was no secret that the Iranian state-run Press-TV and the Russian RT have been feeding their own shameless bunch of lies, to protect friends in their own weapon industry and meet their own fossil fuel interests. The thing is that post-Brexit BBC and post-Trump CNN are apparently adapting to their new climate too. Lessons are learned from the fascist states: Lies don’t have to be so subliminal. They work anyway so why not going for the big bald lies?

Tech and Emotions

We pitched our HappIt app at Disrupt London 2014 and it didn’t take off. Our submission was immature and so was the tech savvy hackathon to understand some of its ellaborated features. It used facial expressions instead of text, had a social element to encourage emotional data logging, and used five-dimensional motion charts for visualization of historic emotions.

Two years later, same event, same city and eventually tech realizes the value of an independent platform dedicated to emotional data collection and analysis. Congratulation to Emotion Journal for wining the Disrupt London 2016 hackathon grand prize. It is a victory for promoting genuine psychometry in tech and they did it with a one-diensional donut chart!

Now the tricky discussion is always around the data collection medium. How do you fish for emotional data? How do you ask people how they feel?

This team has an implicit approach based on natural language processing. First a speech recognition module and then a sentiment analysis algorithm.

The catch is that the phonetic language did not evolve to capture or communicate human emotions at the first place. We had faces to do that. Double-articulated language evolved partly to fake those feelings even.

Right now as you read this, even if you knew me very well, you have no clue whether I write this in a state of happiness, jealousy, dissapointment, hope, anger, shame or pride and now by lining up these keywords I have made it even harder for the sentiment analysis algorithm to capture my real feelings. Technical challanges of parsing such as negation handling and so forth are not the main problems in this area.

I’d argue that facial expression is a better alternative to capture emotions, whether an implicit analysis of an actual selfie, or an explicit drawing of a simple emoticon on a smart watch in a crowded subway.

But of course a hybrid approach combining insights from all different channels (and for example taking voice intonations into account), would be ideal. Until that day, one thing I agree here the way they said it:

“If you do it once a day you can see a visual representation of your feelings and experiences over time.”

So, whichever future app you will use to log your emotions, remember to “happ” it!

Make it a happy habbit.

A bigger picture than politics

From the futuristic people of the past, also listen to Terence McKenna on politics, after the collapse of the Soviets:

Consider three or four minutes from 3:35 to 7:10, on the corruption of the two-party system of the American Republic and that the change must come from the independents. Suits our time after a quarter century. Doesn’t it? Now we get why Bernie Sanders stood no chance from within the democratic party platform.

Now let’s ask a more important question:

How can a quarter century old lecture by someone who was not even interested in politics, describe the geopolitical events of our time more accurate than opinions expressed by the up to date political commentators, op-ed writers of the prestigous newspapers and well-informed talkshow hosts of 2016?

How can experts be so zoomed in on the local events without the ability or tendency to connect them and infer more reliable conclusions?

We are an interconnected society of apes. Our geopolitics has roots in a deeper context, our anthropological roots. Knowing everything about the conventional world of politics is not enough to make a single correct prediction about it if we miss the bigger picture.

The explosion of articles about the personality of Donald Trump, the daily political interviews of the state media and the government-funded experts are all missing it.

The futuristic people of the past

I find it worth listening to the futuristic people of the past. These are the visionary breed who see the future better than us. Now while their futuristic stories are sometimes our trivial past, it could as well be our unforeseen future!

There’s something about their way of observing the world that makes their ideas more resilient against the test of time. Those ideas die out with a different time constant than the normal so they will eventually win over the temporary opinions of the habitual daily routines, the temporary, the mortal.

Now with that in mind listen to Terence Mckenna’s interview on the power of the Internet, from 20 years ago:

At a penetration rate of perhaps less than 1% of its current rate, the rise of the Internet is referred here as an example for “the emergence of the transcendental object”.

Mckenna foresees the rise of the citizen press, new media and grassroot journalism before the creation of mainstream blogging or digital social networking services. He ellaborates so beautifully on the social aspects of the digital disruption before the rise of new business models powered by the Internet. He has great especulations on the future of augmented reality and in other sources he had predicts the rise of data science. And he spells the long-tail theory, what Chris Anderson and other visionary entrepreneurs of the Sillicon Valley started branding 10 years later (half way between this interview and us). Fun to notice that some predictions of the long-tail theory have already failed, while Mckenna’s ideas are still – mostly – valid. And last but not the least his deep insights on the “technological singularity” and the implications of extrapolating the Moore’s [and similar] laws and the take over of AI, are neater than what people like Kurzweil did, trying to coin the term to their names.

And the striking fact is that McKenna has done the same thing in several other fields, epigenetics, linguistics, anthropology and sociology. Pretty much anything that he has been queried by his audience after he was back from the woods to give talks on his new insights.

This is the power that you get when you leave the civilization and observe merely plants for a couple of decades away from an urban settings. Some turn into Charles Darwin. Some turn into Terence Mckenna. I am very excited to have found this profile. And now if you don’t find this interesting, go ahead keep reading the morning news, the scientific paper right in front of you, or the manual of your vacuum cleaner.

P.S.1. the content of your sweeper’s manual may be still valid in 20 years, so I take that one back!

P.S.2. Many futuristic attempts fail to understand the importance of that “meme time constant”. As an example, in the expensive Hollywood sci-fi projects we see that long-term trends are masked by temporary hypes. If a movie is made today to depict 2040 you see they introduce spaceships and flying cars too early, next to the to-be-extincted numerical keypads (too late). But not even a vintage radio is seen in the scenery. In a futuristic depiction I find it unrealistic not to present the past’s profound achievements in retro style. I however understand that not many others find it as silly, just yet.

Economics is not Science

I love this daring video:

At the very least neoclassical economics is not science. It’s an elitist made-up language based on fake concepts such as supply and demand to maximize fabricated quantities in order to exhaust the nature and abuse the people.

Its higly prestigious Chicago school with their fraud models of trade and their deceptive political byproduct, neoliberalism, is responsible for much of the blind destruction of the environment and the uncalculated harms to our societies and nature.

Their influential *thinkers* and theorists are responsible and must be held accountable for bringing humanity to the disaster that it is facing now.

And the most recognized awards and medals of honor should not go to those unintelligent short-sighted charlatans. They should actually go to the people who can possibly figure out how to reverse this effect; how to take us out of the deep trouble caused by those prominent economists of the neoliberalism. After fourty years or so it is time to make a global U-turn away from the policies advocated by the Milton Friedman and his fellow politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. Even so the consequences of their disastrous ideas are yet to hit us.

“Conventional economics is a form of brain damage.”

Well-said. Alter your language domain. Don’t be deceived by the illusions created by con artists. Stay real!