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 motion charts for visualization of historic emotions.

Two years later, same event, same city and finally tech realizes the value of an independent platform dedicated to emotional data collection and analysis. Emotion Journal wins the Disrupt London 2016 hackathon grand prize. It is an important victory for the frontiers of genuine psychometry in tech; achived by communicating through a one-diensional donut chart or a 5 dimensional motion charts, doesn’t matter.

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 know 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 made it even harder for the sentiment analysis algorithm to capture my real feelings. Techies think negation handling and more advanced sentence parsing are the only problems.

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 yout smart watch in a crowded subway.

A hybrid approach combining insights from different channels (and taking voice intonations into account), would of course be ideal.

Until that day, one thing I agree here:

“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.

The futuristic people of the past

I find it so worth listening to the futuristic people of the past to the extent that I can’t quit it currently and I am running out of material! These are the visionary breed who see the future better than us. Now while their futuristic stories are sometimes your trivial past, it could as well be your 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. 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 he has done the same thing in many other fields, epigenetics, linguistics, anthropology and sociology. Pretty much anything that he has been queried by others 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.

Respect!

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.

Well, the content of your sweeper’s manual may arguably still be valid in 20 years, so I take that example back!

P.S. As a side note, many futuristic attempts fail to understand the importance of such a “meme time constant”. As an example, in the expensive Hollywood sci-fi projects we observe 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. I find it a bit dumb in a futuristic depiction not to present the past’s profound achievements in retro style. I however understand that not many other people find it that stupid, or laugh at the naiveity of those movies, just yet.

The Gaian Mind

gaian
Could it be so that the Gaian mind is actually a purposeful mind, although much bigger than ours so its super-intelligence can’t fit in our scientific theories?

Could we as a species be just an allergic reaction of our planet to some cosmic danger that the Mother Earth has sensed through all the information it has acquired from all levels of species across its body?

And that our collective technology is supposed to protect it from some outside hazards in the solar system instead of ruining it from within?

I have heard this argument recently (and independently) more often.

It doesn’t add up to what I think of randomness of emergence and purposelessness of self-organization. But I’m only a cell in this organism.

Where are Trump voters?

I thought I have a diverse and colorful social network or at least I did not expect that I have somehow excluded a big parallel reality of Trump supporters from my life.

Everybody in my social circle (residing in Europe, the middle East and the US) – literally everybody – is frightened and is mourning over Trump’s precidency. Where are the others who have actually voted for him? I would not be upset or sad, at all, to see them celebrating but I don’t get anything on my news feed.

Either I have Trump supporters and they hide their celebration from the world which I doubt it. Or Facebook hides it from me as their algorithms assume that this will keep me longer on their platform to click ads. Or simply, Trump supporters are nearly non-existing in my social circle. I seem not to have friends who have voted for Trump. Or I may have really few.

The thing is that I never removed someone from Facebook for being a Trump supporter and I won’t. I have taken similar wrongful measures previously when my philosophy was more tied to my reactionary political views. There and then I have happened to exclude people from my social friendship because our political views deviated. But I haven’t something like this lately, at least not because of politics, and certainly not becose of someone being a fan of the Republican party or a Trump supporter.

YET, I don’t seem to have any one in my social network who have voted for Trump. Where are they? How can I find them, befriend them and hang out with them?

I don’t befreind people in political rallies, why am I located on such a politically polarized spot now? How come I ended up with so many Clinton, Sanders and Jill Stein supporters and have I not come across anybody from the majority of the American voters? Can they be stereotyped for me to understand why not? They love country music, have family values, and call themselves socially conservative in some sense? Well there’s not any reason for me to have excluded them for any of thse reasons. Quite the contrary. And neither for them there should be a strong stereotypical reason to exclude me. But we have not come across each other, probably in any of the red states that I have travelled, or the places that I have been to. Is that so?

I will travel to the US next week and will make sure I meet some Trump voters/upporters and will hang out with them to break the social network’s self-reinforcing illusion that the world is in a full agreement with me. And well, which agreement? I was not even a Clinton supporter.

We seem to live in two parallel realities, divided with respect to the bi-partisan magnet of the US election lately. But I don’t wanna blame it on the social media’s news feed algorithms and their so-called “echo chambers”. I think the links between me and Trump voters hasn’t been simply formed in reality and social networks can’t capture something that is non-existent. They haven’t helped it form either though, which is a different topic.

Are we two parallel intertwined species minding our own business and pass each other bye only in public transport where people’s political agenda is not written on their foreheads? And then we crawl into our own bubbles to keep spreading our ideas to like-minded people?

The reality of Trump’s precidency didn’t hit me so hard as waking up to the gravitational forces of some mysterious dark energy that we don’t see but we can detect its effect on the universe, for example, after seeing the election results!

Come on people. Who voted for Trump? Let’s hang out!

I am still in shock.

Technology and the Substantiality of Experience

Melvin Sokolsky - from the bubble series
Melvin Sokolsky – from the bubble series

Technology is a great thing [for us humans], but it has a negative aspect not many talk about.

It deprives us from feeling the “real experience” in accordance to how we are biologically wired. Technology builds a protective bubble around the human body that however takes care of a lot of challenges for us, leaves us peculiarly unchallanged inside. And to elaborate a bit more on the “challange of unchallended”, it unemploys and unsues the sensorimotor circuitry in our pre-historic brains. And since we percieve happiness more directly inside our brains than on the surface of our skin or outside our bodies, this can be enough to spoil a good deal of fun for us.

In many cases technology offers the same functionality for our survival needs, but with less substance. Same outcome, less work for it. But what if “working for it” was a part of the satisfaction, that was planted in us by evolution to keep us motivated to persue tasks vital for our survival?

The main reason we have brains is sensorimotor circuitry. Some researchers claim it is the only reason. As organisms we need to act upon the world for our survival (the motor system) and in order to do that correctly we need to sense it by a sensory system. The technology sits in the way and eases this process for us, but at the same time it leaves those circuitry unused and unemployed. Lots of process that used to happen in our brains now takes place outside our bodies. In the civilized society most of the signals that we used to constantly handle for survival does not even reach our skin or come near us. People go to the nature or gym, try extreme sports or play video games to experience those situations and trigger those feelings; to go retro.

We hear modern complains that nowdays people use digital messages instead of real ink on paper postcards, navigate the reality with GPS, and now get dates from apps without holding face-to-face conversations. The outcome is the same; conveying the message, mating or reprodution, or getting to a destination. But something is missing during the process.

Now, this may be worrisome, but it is certainly nothing new.

And we think of this as a new trend only if we take our own norms as the ultimate base for the real experience, which is not a very reliable assumption afterall. Much of “the real experience” had already been taken away from our ancestors for dozens of millenia. It was already gone when we arrived:

Driving skills, that gives us the real experience of the roads is going to fade away with self-driving cars. But do we remember how horse riding felt before cars? And did our horse-rider ancestors know what they were missing not to hunt an animal while running after it, barefoot?

* Spending too much time in the digital conversations and dealing with only letters and emojis makes us deaf to the intonations of the spoken language. The ability to grasp the meanings conveyed in the rise and fall of the pitch and loudness of the speech needs to be practiced. But was it not the verbal language itself that provided a parallel channel of communication and made us blind to the previous forms of communication, such as reading of emtions from facial expressions? How often do we even try to read each other’s eyes nowadays? In such intuitive social skills that were vital for tribal survival, our illiterate ancestors were more intelligent than us.

* Youth nowadays get dates for their digital profiles sometimes without composing a sentence, or having to make a face-to-face charm. An Irish man in Trondheim told me once “There was a time that people couldn’t hide behind dating profiles. You had to show up in person in real places and talk to real people and prove yourself”. As if a bar is a gladiator arena, or the spoken language itself, just like dating profiles, is not used for people to hide behind. This complain is sound but to me sounds like we would complain to our grand children: “There was a time that you couldn’t just telepathically go through a hundred thousand profiles with the chip in your brain to get a mutual date. You actually had to open an app, a real app! And had to go through profiles one by one. And you had to chat with them, for real. Like composing sentences word by word to make a connection. And then there was still a high chance that they wouldn’t match you because it was not pre-calculated!”

Much of our sensorimotor circuits are inactive since their function is outsourced to the technology. And I think that comes in an order. First the motor act, the outcome of the whole process gets outsourced and inactive, since the machinary around us does it on our behalf. Then there’s no longer need for the sensory part and so that part gets dull and dormant too.

Your worry may be right. The new generation gets spoiled by the new technology and loses the real feel of an experience. They are handed in something as functional but less sensational; less powerful, engaging, and real. Just like we were.

We know it, by comparison.
Our parents knew it, by comparison.
Their parents knew it, …

It’s been fifty thousand years folks!

The Merger

dragon

I could write this in a thousand and one narratives, but tonight is the “merger” narrative. This is because this week two telecom giants merged together. Another merger, indifferent from anybody’s struggle to stop them.

This time 85 billion dollars. Let this number sink in a bit and then try to see the pattern here. You have seen it if you follow the global business news regularly:

  • Mergers are getting more and more frequent.
  • The acquisition prices get exponentially higher.
  • The industries involved get more diverse, which means more aspects of our lives is going under monopoly.
  • The rules that used to control and stop the mergers and guarrantee a minimal competition keep getting weaker by corporate lobbyists and bribed politicians.

What do we expect from these dynamics? They will slowly kill the competition and change our norms and habits. The pace of changing our internal habbits like the external environmental changes are not fast enough to be seen by the naked eye. It’s like staring at the hour hand of the clock; A 100x time-lapse can reveal it. Actually that was a while ago. We are talking about undergoing an exponential change so a 10x time-lapse is enough to make it visible for us, what change is happening around, and inside us.

But we are extremely adaptive creatures. We collectively conform to the norms around us and if they change, we change with them. What mergers do with those norms, is that when they get enormous enough to take over a whole industry at a globel scale, they kill the competition and unify the decision making between previously copeting entities. If one of the giants starts poisoning you, the other one will make a scandal out of it. But not if both are controlled behind the same dashboard. Can we comprehend the dangers here?

Megamergers are slowly changing our lifestyles, the food we eat and what it contains, the information we get, the politicians that rule us, everything! They can already predict and influence some of the decisions we collectively make and they won’t let you notice it. They think in statistics and you are just data points in their analysis. It is not even a month passed from Monsanto/Bayer merger that broke the historic world record of acquisitions at an stonning price of $65B, that this one silently came along with $85B. Can we extrapolate such an exponential growth and see what is waiting for us? Should we be suprised in three years witnessing a half a trillion dollars merger between an already merged food/retail company and another giant social network/media multinational corporate?

Let us fast forward this, fellow frogs:

Fighting cancer gets harder when it passes a certain level. Confronting mergers is increasingly harder when they get to such an gigantic size. Still, we may have a chance to bleck them now or regulate them more by antitrust regulators, but if we keep failing and wait longer, there comes a point that we cannot change the irreversible. That day we will see more clearly what is going to happen, but we will not have the power to stop it.

If things go as they are, in the course of decades if not years, the whole civilization as we know it will be acquired by one (not two) multi trillion dollar super-company or the coalition of multinational corpotations. Then their ultimate board does whatever they want with us data points. And they will have the means to do that, because we will be totally numb by then.

Did you actually follow me this far? Most people typically fail to care to this depth since they are already numb.

But you know that I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. Right? When I say “the board” I don’t mean the mysterious bad guys who are sitting and plotting the apocalypse right now. Or whatever Illuminati. Don’t buy into those naive theories. Conspiracy theories, most of them, are for the kind hearts and simple minds.

Nature is not designed. It is organized on its own, based on simple rules. And it repeats the same patterns over and over. Nature is full of collapses and Doomdays and apocalyptic events. Big and small in all scales. These collapses are smaller babies of the big bang, only reversed:

Reversed in the sense that more and more things will happen in shorter and shorter times!

Our apocalypse will have many faces. “The merger” is one of those one thousand and one faces. The merger is a “winner take all” game. It is a race and we are all in it, but we don’t know who will win, however, there will be a winner. And many many losers. No one can predict who eats whom at the end of the game, but that will eventually turn out. And everyone will be surprised.

Even the people who may think they are conspirist themselves. Even those who think they are the bad guys.

There is a power above us all; It’s cancer. It’s nature. It’s evolution.

I haven’t spoiled the movie for you yet, and I guarrantee it will be full of surprises that none of us can foresee.

Good night. Till another night of the 1001 night.

Leave services when they get huge

 esc

I think this is worth a 100$, but only if it works the way I want it to:
I need an “Esc” button to set my life free from any company that has grown bigger than a certain size and that can control my habbits, decisions and lifestyle, and shows tendency to do so, and to use controlling me as a customer to grow even bigger.

I am happy with the already purchased MacBook, although it was a forced choice in the absence of a true competition and among non-existing alternatives previously killed by giants like Apple.

But instead I will not check my Facebook feed today (Apple and Facebook are both in the range of 100 billion to one Trillion dollars worth companies).

P.S. Since this is copied from Facebook: Facebook’s AI machines should (if they already don’t) identify this post as not in line with the company’s profits and adjust the parameters to limit its spread. Next, they should discover obvious patterns of some million profiles like mine, that [for some unimportant reasons] do not contribute to the companies metrics which are supposed to drive profit fot them. So they should start adding us to a dynamic blacklist until we come back normal and contribute to those short-term metrics again.

Illuminati is us!

I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. Quite the contrary, I believe in self-organization. If you interpret me as a conspiracy theorist, I have failed to communicate my message. In the absence of any  evidence, I reject a belief system suggesting that a secret society of few humans have successfully teamed up during an evil plan to gain political control over the rest of mankind. Anything near this is incomprehensible for me.

In our diverse world it is becoming easier to impose non-existing patterns upon the reality. All it takes is to search for pieces of evidence and to put them together creatively to create a pattern that seems very unlikely to be random, although it is. Not that I fully trust science, but this practice is at best the work of art, not even science.

Conspiracy theorists should somewhat quantitatively prove that randomness has not resulted their discovered patterns and that some intelligent design has caused them. In fact most of such claims of conspiracy fail to address how difficult it is for conspirators to predict and control a chaotic system such as the modern human society secretly and flawlessly.

So let us relax for a moment and feel blessed that there is no evil conspiracy group ruling us since the 18th century, no one out there wants to hav fun with poisoning us by spreading chemtrails, and that September 11 was not an inside job. For a moment let us be all on the other end of the spectrum, albeit more naive and assume that all of our powerful figures and politicians are ultimately transparent and innocent, and none of their agenda is hidden away from us. And in case of any mistakes there will always be a brave whistleblower to catch them red handed.

A moment of relief… But does these beliefs still mean that evil outcomes should not be expected out of innocent intentions?

Sadly, not at all.

There is a simple physical experiment called “sand pile experiment”, during which grains of  sands are dropped one by one on a conical pile of sands and as a resulted effect once in a while there is a sudden avalanche caused by only one of them. Kudos to Scandinavia, the Danish experiment was repeated by Norwegians on piles of rice back in 90s. These were the first physical experiments to domenstrate a phenomenon called “self-organized criticality” which is an “emergent property”:

“Emergence: The larger entities that arise through interactions among smaller entities can show properties the smaller entities do not exhibit.”

The occurance of an avalanche is an emergent property for the sand pile. it is in fact naturally random and unpredictable both for local sand grains and the experimenter. But if you ask the local sands somewhere in the pile, what they would make out of their horrible experience of an avalanche and who caused it, they would probably blame one or few sands somewhere on top of the pile. In fact no single grain of sand can and has control over the behavior of the pile of sands as a whole system. Even the experimenter who is running the show and is God-like to the grains of sands by having a whole picture, will fail to predict when, in what direction and in what shape the next avalanche will take place.

We humans are the sands in a very complicated self-organized sand pile of our civilzation. Based on our limited view of our local neighberhood we tend to believe that there must be a designer behind every human phenomenon around us. We tend to connect big events such as wars, revolutions, scientific discoveries and historic breakthroughs to certain leaders or public figures. It is a believable story but it has usually been very very simplified for our little brains fo make some sense out of the complicated reality. Our civilization is much more collective and complex than it is portrayed in the human understandable narratives of our history books.

Beware that now I may sound like a conspirist again, which is not the intention. We all grew up in a simplified and misled culture, that is by the way shaped randomly by our collective society and not necessarily always few powerful people. When a vast painful event surprises our society, something that is not immediately natural such as earthquakes or volcanos, we immediately point our fingers to some other humans out there. We didn’t know it or see it coming, but somewhere out there has to be someone who knew about the event or accurately planned it. Political events are the behavioral effects of our collective civilization, but since we can’t comprehend their details we tend to believe that there should be people like us behind all of them; their minds should be like our minds, and that they must exhibit some form of team work behavior in a way we are used to, to be able to pull off such projects.

Is it actually possible for a group of folks, to successfully understand, model and control a super complicated network of interactions such as our society? At least not in that naive form. Such secret societies of few who have successfully teamed up against the rest of us with God-like predictive abilities and flawless conrolling power do not have to be an explanation for the political or societal evil we observe today. Illuminati doesn’t exist. But if it does, I tell you, it’s in fact me, it’s you, and it’s is all of us combined. Illuminati is our emergent property. Sometimes it can actually shape is few powerful people who mess things up, but they come and go too. Even if they exist in some definition, they are overruled too by the nature that created them at the first place.

The complex nature of our society and its political, technological, or social layers can be seen in various lights. Scientists of many fields can elaborate on emergent properties of us human sands in many different ways, and they should do it more. Here, among many of the narratives to pick from, I bring a simple anthropological evidence. The conclusion may be a bit bitter but will set you free from eluding our minds for the simplest explanations such as conspiracy theories. And they give us a heads-up to be prepared for unwanted avalanches that we may face sooner than later:

We humans are the building blocks of a complex and hierarchical society and we have achieved the current complex state of our civilization due to two main factors that seperated us from other animals: the level of communications among us which helped preserving the knowledge, and in fact some unique features of our thinking organ; our brain. None of them had to be extraordinarily different from other herds of animals, but combined they passed a critical level that redefine our nature to something very different, in a very shourt time.

In the past fifty thousand years we have transformed our lives from tribal animals into interconnected socioeconomic beings in a technological society. Meanwhile our brains has not changed much and we have arguably become slightly dumber even. Our brains, including the brains of our powerful decision makers, celebrities and politicians with a broad range of influence, is still tribal. Our brains grew from 0.5 to 1.5 kg from three million years ago to some fifty thousand years ago, so two third of that brain, one kilogram, consists of programs that were shaped during our tribal life on the ground. Our bodies and brains have not changed much since then, but our collective environment has, drastically. We tend to think that we do things for logic and reason, though we only do them for the sake of our survival, and in our very own unqiue human way.

The red button

Back in the tribal times the “red button” did not exist. Simbolically put, if Eve and Adam would push a botton, at most a fruit would fall off a tree. Now there are bottons around us that if we push we could somwhat blow up things out of your sight; lives can be affected by a minor task of us. Now we can simply make changes by pushing a like button, ordering an item from a restaurant menu, buying a share from stock market, or deploying a code.

We do it all for the sake of our survival, indeed with our kindness and affection towards our local tribe. The people for which we naturally have capacity to care, are only a couple of hundred people who are around us, socially or geographically. We can never affectively reach out to seven billion people out there, and not in fact to zillions of animals and beings. Nature has simply not given us the empathic tools to do so. Despite that, in order to increase the power of our influence, we have redefined our environment and hacked the natural resources around us. Just like any other animal we do it for our survival with disregard to other beings. The difference is though we do it beyond our natural habit, systematically and  technologically.

This already started from the first man who made a tool; the manifestation of grabbing and touching an object, using it, and leaving it NOT unchanged. Animals don’t do that. They either eat or kill the thing and destroy it permanently, or they let it be. We grabbed things around us with our hands and left them changed, still in our service. We made the first tools and then tools made more tools and that escalated. And well with an ultimate disregard to the nature and things that we touched, or things that we touched touched, we set up this advanced system. And now the complexity has reached a level that the mentioned disregard may come back to ourselves.

We tend to put our animalistic tribal behavior in a divine and holistic light. We are proud that we have made judiciary systems and rules, democracies and beurrocracies, technologies and computational systems to be soft and civilized and avoid the downsides of our wild tribal behavior. But are we still not let by apes like ourselves? Is the wild animalistic behavior limited to third world dictatorships and underdevelopped tyrannies, or to the ancient kings and emperors?

Now check this out. Apes and ravens are extremely social animals. As a group they sometimes team up to attack an isolated victim who did not play with the rules or to project a group failure onto that individual. When you see that for example 160 republicans (about the natural size of a human tribe) in a group act stop supporting Donald Trump, do you expect some of them to be brave enough and admit that this was not a calculated act independent from the truth of Donald Trump, and that was simply a tribal act of mimicing a group to conform? When you see such an animalistic behavior in such high levels or power hierarchy, do you really need to believe in conspiracy theories to explain evil? Let us not our problems on to the political parties or even broadly politicians. These are normal people like me and you. This is not about political parties or the individuals. It is about all of us and how rapidly and blindly we scaled up. This is what Hannah Arendt argues introducing the term “The Banality of Evil”.

Scaling up the human power to influence, without scaling its control mechanism (empathy) accordingly has been going on in waves since the prehistoric times and in each round the wave collapsed and taught us a new lesson on how to scale. Ever since we united in bigger groups than a tribe, an external force was required, after a collapse, to teach us how to scale in numbers while being in peace with each other. Depending on the size of the human populations we learned that we need to synchronize with music or stone idols, we need to invent language or religion, and that we need to set rules, judiciary systems and bureaucracies. The problem with our age is that we have never experienced the connectivity to this level, ever before. This is historically is not a good sign cause we don’t know what kind of collapse we will get after this and sadly it does not seem that predicting a collapse is enough to take measures to stop it. We need to see it with our eyes to reverse some of the aggresive and self-destructive aspects of our scaling.

Getting connected from a tribal to a global level, from a couple of hundreds to a few billions, is in fact a scale-up of a 7 to 8 orders of magnitude. Yet our amygdala has remained the same size as a hundred thousand years ago. What do we expect from such dynamics except for a catastrophic apocalypse? How can we theoretically see any other sustainable horizon in the near future when the scale-up is still going on and no one is trying to adjust it or advance it a bit more mindfully?

You see, you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist or a fatalist to warn others that The Doomsday’s Clock might be ticking. You don’t need to spot and blame some concious master minds or group for every disaster that comes along our way. The evil is not always one of us. It is bigger than us. It is our emergent property.

To put it intuitively, this video sums up the politics of our era. One doesn’t need to know more than this about politics: Scaling up the human power to influence, without scaling its control mechanism, empathy, accordingly.

We are not completely helpless though. There are solutions ahead of us. We can in fact take advantage of our destructive connectivity and design a data-driven system for functional empathy to avoid its collapse. This is not what we are doing. Nothing but a “technological self-conciousness” (interprete it in anyway you wish) can possibly save us from an exponential over-exhaustion of our limited resources and an apocalyptic breakdown.

Should we do something about that, or should we let the system collapse and wait for a new order to rise from its ashes? What’s right to do?

RIP Barrier Reef

Under the sea!

BerrierReef

The biggest living structure on earth and the only one visible from outer space, who had managed to live for 25 million years died a quick death, in few months.

“The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away after a long illness.”

This structure was hosting billions of organisms of all sizes, and even species of whales were observed in it. Now they are homeless and will probably die.

We don’t know how it is seen by the poor creatures deep down in the ocean but it must have been disaster and panic since March. Them panicing and scaping a great underwater “fire” set to their “woods”. Sounds like anything but The Little Mermaid song.

The underwater fire is on its way up to us?

Blindspot Dilemma

“We are blind to our blindspots.”

Does this quotation have a name? I couldn’t find, but let’s call it the “blindspot dilemma”.

Blind2
The image copyright: George Redhawk, an actually blind artist.

From the view point of dominant scientific paradigms [and in fact several of them] this statement amounts to bullshit!

When you mention it and you start to expand on it, mainstream routine scientists start to laugh at you.

Why?

– It is a logical tautology.
– It does not add anything to our knowledge.
– It doesn’t give us any new fact about our environment and how it works.
– It is not testable.
– It is unfalsifiable. (If they think Popper)
– It is unscientific. (If they think Feynman)
– It contains zero amount of information.
– It can’t predict.
– It has no value.
– At best it’s just a definition.

– “We can’t see what we can’t see.”

If you come from science, philosophy, business or what not, the dominant mindsets of your field may be expressed in different forms, but they all – perhaps wrongfully – mean the same thing:

The blindspot dilemma is worthless.

Yet, quite surprisingly, when I think about it, when I apply it to different domains, when I keep it – constantly – in the back of my mind, the conclusions I get are drastically different from before: New things emerge and old things get a different set of explanations. Observations make a better sense in a broader range, and a recursive sense of clarity starts to form.

How can that be worthless?

A month ago I applied this simple recipe to “the range of empathy in humans”. As a result, I was taken by a long trip and came back much more insightful. A whole new world of meanings and insights about morality, empathy, psychopathy started to hit me. I got a different vision of our collective civilization. My relationships with the people improved. Social behaviors made more sense. Everything was shed in an irreversible light!

I applied it to human behavior and I learned new things about politics, conflicts, societies. The way the world works and how it could be dealt with it.

I applied it to data, and I got new approaches, new models, new charts and shapes and values.

I applied it to cognition, and I learned new things about conciousness, and even geometry, math and topology.

Someone please tell me how can such a simple yet useful statement be so worthless?

I think the dominant scientific epistemology that is ruling the way science works is incompetent here. And the harm that is causing us comes exactly from that rigid inadequecy.

From Popper’s “falsificationism” to the statistical null hypothetical testing that is dominating the logic with which we do science, have failed to reflect a sense of recursion that may be more profound to our nature than we think.

The late Feyerabend who eventually went against Popper with refusing to accept the existence of universal methodologies in science was on to something. His anarchistic views of science in his against the method lost the battle of history to the falsificationism of Popper.

Science is so blind to its blindspots that Feyerabend’s “sociology of scientific knowledge” where he started to study science as a man-made cultural product made by the society of scientists (my wording) never took off the way it deserved to.

I don’t have a clear formulation to introduce a paradigm here. But I am sure, as much as Popper was sure of his unfalsifiable theory, that we can and we should formulate the blindness dilemma into scientific paradims in an elegant and ground-breaking way.

Me and myself have a recursive faith that beyond the incompetent tools of our current science and our profound blindness to other potential ways of finding the truth, there must be a formal way to adress the so-called “blindspot dillema”. We must nicely and regretfully invite it back to our toolbox of making sense of the world!

I can only hope we see a paradigm shift before our extinction.

P.S. In a looser reading, one can interprete the two “we”s differently by inviting two different perspectives. Then it is no longer a tautology. There is a model (an interpretation/semantics), for which you get something similar to Dunning-Kruger effect. That is not a tautology either. This is probably where I “cheated” in this passage. But I don’t think of it as cheating and that is the point here.

I am not defending this quick text as a well-thought and accurate post. But hear the idea:

Such a fuzzy freedom of interpretations (such as moving between perspectives) is missing in falsifiablity paradigm.

Even the way the dominant paradigms include uncertainty (e.g. statistical hypothesis testing) is so deterministic that they push uncertainty all the way to a statistical parameter or a random variable.

Such freedoms are in the blindspots of the falsifiability approach without originally being excluded them for a good reason. They are only not included, yet, due to a lack of solid and rigorous formalization.