Reflecting on Amazon’s new HQ in New York

We are entering an era in which companies dream of becoming cities.

They will fail, almost certainly.

A company can not mimic a city without being as dynamic and as self-organized, even if it surpasses a city in size or revenue by a large margin; companies have a naturally shorter lifespan.

This happens since cities have the freedom of a bottom-up flow, coupled with certain network properties that are vital for a superorganism to adapt to the environmental changes. Corporations cannot always stir fast with the moves of the market (elaboration for another post). They are a different animal. Obesity kills them eventually if they don’t die a natural death.

Due to structural differences, after a certain level of growth companies experience decline in their rate of “innovation” – the very glue that holds cities together. Unlike cities and forests their synergy will eventually stop and reverse, then they can not carry their own weight unless they innovate and disrupt. Companies can not scale forever.

* * *

And can tech giants innovate proportional to their growing size, i.e. with a so-called “superlinear” rate?

No, not passed a certain size. Not with a gigantic mass, a top-down flow and a compartmentalized structure. For these giants to grow bigger than this, for them to be worth trillions or to become cities and last, they need to revolutionize their structure. But they simply don’t have the code for it.

Of course innovation will keep taking place in megacities but increasingly outside these campuses, even if they try to attach themselves to megacities like Amazon is trying to land on New York’s metropolitan area.

What tech giants should do at this point is to downsize their mass, their physical manifestation, lay off and restructure, then grow again but that is not how public companies are ruled. Their leaders may well be aware of this better than the average shareholder, but neither have a better next possible move on the board. They are accustomed to follow a natural course for the evolution of the mega-creatures they are shaping. And in that course there is no prospect of keeping the pace of the innovation. This is not about the talent-base; this is a structural failure and it’s emergent.

* * *

What are these companies going to do with their facilites when doomed by their nature they have to let go of their extra load?

In the most organized and systematic scenario, these buildings will be taken over by a new generation of emerging insitutions and reused for different purposes than they are built for. So they better design them with flexibility.

In another foreseeable future our kids shall play techno in their abandoned halls, or whatever fusion the spirit ot their time will be!

And I think this will happen no later than a couple of decades, perhaps gradually. Doesn’t need to be any apocalyptic scenario, system collapse, war or political revolution.

I will place a long-term bet on this one too.

Trees may be smarter than humans, collectively

Cities never die, neither do forests

When I was in Belgrade I read in their official travel guide that the city has been almost completely destroyed and rebuilt 44 times! I mind you that if the chance of not recovering after each destroy was as low as a lucky 5%, then the city would have perished by now with a chance of 90% after the fourty fourth time.

So it occured to me what kind of organism could possibly lose a considerable chunk of its mass and yet survive such many times (spoiler: forests).

I couldn’t also find anything magical about the coordinates of Belgrade, or many other cities for that matter. It’s not like there is an unexhaustable mine or a particular type of access exclusive to that location that would make people rebuild the city over and over again right from there. It’d probably only take a bunch of survivors to take off again.

Or just look at Rome. It has lived under different tyranies, governments and religions, and also under different political systems from slavery, feudalism and capitalism. So, what is that essence that has kept Rome alive as long as there was a little flame left to burn through the next regime?

All companies die. But cities never die.

Geoffrey West’s main findings and his flagship results in his body of work claims this.

He claims that cities not only save energy per capita, but also create more wealth – even per capita. This leads to a closed feedback loop for growth of the cities that is unprecedented in other super-organisms in nature [I would exclude forests before agreeing to this];

Anyhow he rightfully shows with mathematical models that cities, although can be destroyed or wiped out, do not die a natural planned death. Companies, people or animals on the other hand don’t have such double synergistical effect to their growth pattern. So once growth make their building blocks (humans or cells) so their exponential growth stops internally, and not due to exhaustion of resources, then they die. Something that doesn’t happen to cities. Concievably neither to forests.

In the following comes my reading of his work, plus some opinions and critics:

Superorganisms are “alive”

Just like other organisms such superorganisms are formed based on smaller elements coming together to benefit from the economy of scale. So from the perspective of network science, technological or social networks aren’t necessarily different from biological networks. So their similarities make them “alive” in some sense. Cities, companies, forests (I would add civilizations, empires, religious institutions, coral colonies, hives, prehistoric humanoid tribes, etc.) are all alive in a measureable and objective sense, although not necessarily sentient or conscious, which is a quite a different [subjective] story.

Typically all of these network have evolved to reach an equilibrium after growth, and for the same mathematics they all stop growing at a certain point, live up to a rather predictable age and then they die a natural death. By doing so – independent from their mechanism of reproduction – they leave room for the new and the young to repeat the cycle. Nature has favoured this sustainable code over endless number of cycles.

Cities are different, they are in theory ethernal

While there are many parallels one can draw between all these superorganisms, in one sense “cities” seem to be an exception. They by design suck up the resrources around them with no self-correcting mechanism. At least in our current economic model and so far as I know what has been experienced since the first human settlements, we don’t suddenly see a systematic and planned evacuatioon of a city or its division to smaller cities, say for people living a better life, repeating this cycle all over again. We just don’t have a code for it. This has not happened and will not as long as the economy of sclae gives the citizens a double edge to live there, which is again:

Similar to biology the bigger the organism gets the less energy its cells consume, per capita. But unlike biology the bigger you get the more “money” you gain per capita. That positive feedback loop seems to be exceptional to the cities among all the other superorganisms.

The additional glue: Creativity and productivity, driven by money and language

Although just similar to biology that extra wealth per capita translates to smaller homes and less stuff in the center of megacities compared to the country side, because of the rules of the monetary system the economic power such money creates keeps attracting people to the big cities. Wages are higher in big colonies of humans because they seem to follow the rate of productivity, which is higher per capita in bigger colonies. “Stronger input-output linkages, better matching of employees and employers, and invisible but active knowledge spillovers in agglomeration economies” are believed to increased productivity resulting in higher wages. The so-called “agglomeration” economies shaped in desne areas increase creativity (the number of patents as well as wages follow a super-linear fit, fueling the exponential growth of the city. So in retrospect, among other tools the advent of language and the invention of money changed the dynamics of the human network, human creativity was unleashed and an exponential growth pattern, the civilization, emerged from that network.

On an individual level, this effect is not an unfamiliar phenomenon. We people living in big cities, capitals, and close to the power hubs may live in denser areas and consume less energy per capita to warm our habitat compared to residents of the countyside. But we also create more waste due to our higher economical level. We shop more, commute longer to work, travel more, etc. And this economically driven factor is the essense that makes us and our embeding super-organism, the city, rather different from the other super-organisms.

But what other network may also enjoy such a double edged growth patterns of the cities (super-linear gains at sub-linear gain). What other superorganism might be exceptional? Could it be forests and reefs, since their exceptionally long lifespan may tell a story about that additional glue. What keeps them together that could be analogous to the superlinear “glue” of the cities? Why does it seem that – similar to the cities – forests or reefs also last exceptionally long? Do forests and reefs – like their individual trees or corals – have an internalized code for death? Sure they can be killed off or shrink due to external reasons, but they don’t have an internal mechanism to die as a whole.

In other words, what do individual trees benefit from when they are in a bigger and bigger network? What’s in it for individual corals to be in a huge reef than a small one when they can’t even move?

Trees

Do trees have money, or language?

May be!

Also this is far-fetched, I think it could be inferred merely from the physics of the network, considering the emergent properties of a forest, that it is way more than a regular grid. It is a complex network, not only highly clusterized but also with the properties of a small-world network. And thus without a deep knowledge of ecology or forestry even, one could possibly show that trees have a sense of networking, collaboration and communication (likely even symbolic communication with an inventory of signs).

Also, trees have documented track record of “trade”. But do they have a sense of currency, property law, and ownership? Do such concepts necessarity follow the invention of a formal *phonological* language? Those who claim Capitalism is a product of the nature, may have gotten something right.

In linguistics, “double-articulation” is known as the most crucial feature that makes human language differ from other forms of communication in nature. This is the ability to exploit the combinatorics of dual patterns and is extremely powerful since it makes symbolic computation possible.

It is, however, very naive of us humans to assume that such phenomenon evolved first in our species. Both rainforests and reefs seem to possess some network properties (amognst others self-similarity, small-world and high clusterization) that could be an infrastructure for an phonological [alphabetic] mind capable of symbolic computation, given a random mutation of dual patterns.

This may be the hidden story behind any of the evolutionary leaps on earth, and not just the last one. And it could mean, with all the seriousness, that rainforests or reefs, as intelligent superorganisms have literally invented animals the same way we invented cars. And for short-term or long-term reasons.

It’s a testable hypothesis to see if rainforests have evolved, say, their own stock market somewhere down in the ground. I just wonder if like ours it ever crashes once in a while in some million years! A bit more far-fetched than that, the urbanization and the human experiment, us, could be one of those crashes!

Does vegetation has similar properties as urbaniation? Do rainforests possess a collective intelligene comparable to that of Sillicon Valley, Wall Street or Holley Wood? Are they creative, productive and experimental?

How crazy is that?! Not crazy at all.

Printing a megacity in the desert?

Or

Can you print a megacity in a desert and demand it to return your investment?

“Dimensionality” in complex networks is still an ignored concept in any other discipline which deals with those networks – but physics, the mother of them all.

In city planning for exmaple, governments can aspire to make a metropole of 9 million and expect it to behave like NYC, once it matures. If not necessarily reproducing the same financial or political influence, but at least creating a similar “feel” internally shouldn’t be much to ask?

Not true.

It is essential to build mega-cities from smaller organic elements: minor cities already near each other.

Is such a simple observation in other, similar, networks something that the policymakers of some trillion-dollar future megacities are unaware of? And do they not need that knowledge when they expect the return for their investment?

* * *

Building new fresh sustainable megacities in uninhabitable feilds sounds like a brilliant idea. The trend has many great promises:

It returns the investment massively through real estate and beyond. It will host the future waves of urbanizing population while built with the state-of-the-art and more sustainable technology. Even better if it is built in a desert where preserving the natural ecosystem is much less vital than say, a rainforest.

But sustaining a megacity – logistically – is not possible without sustaining it culturally. That is the foundation of the city life and for it is necessary to mimic the underlying dimensionality of organic metropoleis – something that should match the metropolis’ magnitude – or else the megacity will never produce the effects of even much smaller cities, no matter how much more money central-planers poor into the project long after building it.

* * *

Even if the best engineers set up the physical infrastructures and plug in the vital resources, even if structures are built with fresher and more sustainable technology with a smaller footprint, even if they kick out or bury all the workers who built it and resettle the desired population, it is still not wise to establish a city on nothing with a grid mindset.

It takes a little more investment but in the right direction to try to recreate a “dimensionality” that typically evolves over centuries when a megacity is organically seeded.

Only then one can attempt to create the equivalent of a two or three centuries old universities like NYU or Columbia in the course of decades.

Chinese have understood this and are building their megacities around the existing smaller parts. Even much smaller cities like Dubai or Doha grew their skyline organically – though on steroid – around an existing old town.

Predicting Cryptocurrencies

My naive analysis of cryptocurrencies based on the publicly available data (historic price of the major coins) inferred four key parameters to model a typical crash:

– The magnitude of the latest bubble.
– Length of the inflation period.
– The speed of deflation measured by the powerlaw exponent of the decay curve.
– The length of the deflation period.

On the flight back from New York City (have to look up the date but it was early January this year) looking at the 11 major crashes in the history of cryptos, the rather simple model predicted that:

The market may crash at any moment. (It did in a week, but could go on a little longer too).

And that at the current market cap ($800B at the time) a following crash will, in a period of 6 months to one year:
– Deflate to a market cap of $150B for all cryptos.
– 4,500$ for Bitcoin (17,000$ at the time)
– 200$ for Ethereum (1,200$ at the time)

And I said I will buy when two of the three goals are met.

So far (9 months through) one of the three has taken place (Ethereum hit 170$ yesterday).

You’re welcome!

Explosions between Camberian and Technological Singularity?

Economy of scale and life’s ponctuated equilibrium:

Life on earth is going through another short period of rapid morphological changes, this time because of us humans: In a short geological moment we have gone through a massive scale-up (7 orders of magnitude from tribes of hundreds, to billions on the Internet or members or the global economy). That we all know.

Phase transitions are common place in single species – known as ponctuated equillibrium and are spotted based on local evidences at hand such as fossil records. But terrestial life as a whole experiences such phase transitional behaviors too, although they aren’t always as easy to spot in our labs.

Last time we think a scale-up like this happened was the so-called Camberian explosion half a billion years ago: The rapid shift in life forms from single-cell organisms to complex animals with advanced specialized systems and organs. This was when nature evolved new networks and gave life emergant properties such as intelligence or purpose.

And well in between these two explosions, there may have been other economies of scale transcending single units to complex wholes, though we may not as easily manage to identify them. I am for instance quite open to the spiritual idea that views rainforest as an intelligent whole, with a form of wisdom and the ability to reason, possessing foresight and purpose and other emergent properties invisible to our senses and ungraspable by our brains.

We require more advanced tools to discover those realms, but rest assured there exists much more than we have seen; Communicating with the intelligence that takes place at much bigger or smaller scales, or much slower or faster pace isn’t the most trivial thing we have evolved to do. Neither we have made our tools specifically for this. But I think we already have made tools that we can begin to utilize for this particular purpose. And I am hopeful and optimist, that science has the ability to eventually explore those realms.

Subjectivity,an emergent property?

What can be even more puzzling is the question of conciousness, subjective experience and sentience. Are they too, some emergent properties of complex networks? This is a whole new discussion:

Can networks emerge not only intelligence, planning and reasoning – as stated before, I am convinced they do – but also create joy and suffering out of nothing?

And what are the ethical implications of all these?

We don’t know if cells have sentience. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they do have something like we do. Why exactly can we have that and they could not?

And now let’s for a moment assume they have a sense of sentience. The ethical question is then: Was that explosion a fun thing for them, or was it a disastrous regretable mistake to ride the economy of scale and shape animals instead of competing alone for survival. Did they sacrifice their individual freedom for specializion in order to serve the survival of a bigger whole? More far-fetched, is a kidney cell *happier* than a lonely floater with shorter life span and less guaranteed levels of safety, but possibly higher degrees of freedom?

Relativity of morals is ethics 101, and good for something is bad for seomthing else. So I am not trying to quantify and sum up all the good and evil in the universe to solve a Karmic optimization problem here. This is difficult enough to ask. Could singles be happier on their own, or as a part of a bigger whole?

And if it doesn’t make sense to you to ask such a question about microbes, just wonder the same thing about us. It’s hard to conceptualize things we haven’t evolve to percieve but our transition from tribes of apes to specialized memebers of powerful gigantic institutions that decide our faith more than us is a phenomenon that we tend to ignore. And such super-organisms, whatever you can think of them from physical campuses of multinational corporations, institutions and governments, to less visible codes of AI all across the Internet competing for their own survival, may only be in their early forms. Their real game may have not even started yet!

Point being, all the signs of technological singularity fits in the context of evolution.

Ethical considerations:

Back to the ethical questions: whether this is all good or bad and should we help or stop it? Relativity of ethics aside, there are two levels of moralities I can think of:

– One is what we are used to in our conventional ethics; A sense of good or bad at the human level or familiar issues in its proximity such as animal welfare: Are we as individuals losing our freedom to serve the dictatorship of new giant monsters? Are we going to suffer more and for long dark periods as humans? Could we humans catch ourselves in a blink of an an eye (a giant eye!) in miserable conditions as animals are experiencing in our industrial farms, simply because unavoidable forces of nature are leading us there? Or will we find a more sustainable and less cruel way of expanding the network of life and transcend this with less pain and suffering, explotaition and war?

– The other ethical discussion is a more Karmic sense of good vs evil: The ultimate survival of life. Whether or not we humans will be happy or miserable in any given futuristic scenario, is our technology eventually going to protect life on earth from external cosmic hazards and possibly even expand it beyond earth? Or will it kill it off completely. Some say our species may actually have a purpose and this is it.

In this context if our civilization explosion instead implodes to kill all life, before our reaching its multiplanetary ambitions, then that can be viewed as a failed gamble by mother nature.

Will humans make it to, and survive the technological singularity?

And then there is this third scenario in between. The most likely I would say. Our species will die a mild extinction before taking over stars, but also before completely destroying the life forever and ever. Both seem much more difficult than simply going extinct.

What will happen in that scenario? Probably plants will come back with new wisdom – resistance to nano-biological hazards, radioactive, plastic and what not. Then they make new things that will move around and will send them again on the mission to pollinate other stars for another thousands of unsuccessful trials, up until a massive asteroid finishes us off, this time completely.

Now seriously, does mother nature have ways to set goals and make plans, invest in a species to become technologically advanced enough to protect its mother? Hey let’s make some humans to protect and expand the life although they may kill it all. And in taking such gambles does she even further possess mechanisms for sensing and evaluating the risks involved?

I think she does. Apparently in one instance right here and now.

If this post evolved as a part of nature, then nature does have ways to try assessing the risk of its gambles. All technologists and scientists who push our civilization forward, and yet inform and warn us about existential threats that come along the horizon are the manifestation of such a risk assessment. And they come from the nature. So why should we think of them as an isolated phenomenon? How do we know nature hasn’t manifested things like this previously? All we see is the qualities of its current wave of emergent intelligence.

Hopefully it’s not the last wave, and I really doubt if it is the first one. Unlikely!

Facebook and the world domination

Dino

Instagram app has updated its data policy. It is not yet rolled out to their website so I can link, but I urge you to read it once you soon get the notification:

They are being upfront about how much data they collect, and implictly admit that they have your shadow profile, even if you don’t have a Facebook account.

Which is a double-edged knife; Not only it’s an honest gesture, it will also make you give up quitting their service, cause of course, they see you anyhow even if you haven’t made an account at the first place.

It is smartly drafted and clearly technical experts, lawyers and psychologists are involved.

They have listed many different types of raw data they collect (“data categories”, as a congresswoman called it), but don’t say what this data can be used for. What other information about us can be inferred from processing such raw data – how much this data can tell about us – is inconcievable for most of us. Cambridge Analytica was the tip of an iceberg.

Facebook among many other giants are closing on to the level of a super-organism mapping the real world of social and physical connections, and yet conveying that you can not escape this system so just try to get along and live with it.

While we should be aware how such level of knowledge can be used to manipulate us or others against us – simply for profit and at any costs, simply how capitlaism’s metrics work – we should know that this is yet another stage of our evolution.

As the Internet made the infrastructure available for many codes to quickly evolve and dominate, no *beta* version of any code, no early form of DNA for any superorganism lasts so long.

* * *

The forementioned data policy shows that Facebook has not given up on its self-destructive greed, and is covertly following its growth patterns of move fast and break things. Facebook might have gotten away with this challange this time around, and could also possibly come to an agreement with lawmakers and politicians to let them safely keep on going with their endless domination agenda.

Although, I am sure this super-organism is not aware of things that some of its cells are, and even its CEO could not process such information better than some of us.

That – in a nutshell – how exactly in the face of environmental pressures the big can fail faster:

When the large asteroid hit the earth 65 million years ago, it was the gigantic dinaseurs who went extinct. So Facebook may want to give a little budget from their lawyers and psychologists to hire an ecologist or an evolutionary biologist, to help them take note and learn why it happened to those giant super-advanced reptiles, who were once inarguably on top of the food chain. And how tiny shrews took the chance in such a chaos to dominate the scenery and kickstarted new generation of mammals taking the game to the next level.

My note from two and a half years ago on the topic:

Facebook will die

Ethernal AI dictatorship

Elon Musk is right.

And humans are already slaves of some self-organized technological super-intelligence, made of flesh and sillicon. It’s just many of them out there fighting over us as resrources and the evolutionary battle hasn’t been settled just yet.

So let me reflect on these doomsdays scenarios:

I think we tend to undermine the algorithmic nature of the world, and so the wide variety of scopes and the vast magnitudes of scales that the so-called *evolution* can rule, beyond biology.

It’s an old story. Trees made us to be their polinating agents and we cut them down. We made AI and it will enslave us.

So he is right. But this doomsday scenario isn’t like a Terminator story.

A ‘god-like’ AI is a true threat. But it doesn’t need to be a robot, a super computer, or a conventional AI.

These god-like creatures have algorithmic nature, similar to AI. So let’s talk about that instead.

First of all, algorithms don’t run in a methaphysical space sperated from our world. Algorithms need *stuff* to run on; They need flesh and sillicon. Also they were not invented by humans with the digital computers. They have been around for a long long time.

The truth is, we are already slaves of self-organized algorithmic beings higher than ourselves. The technological end legal entities that interact with each other and the machinery of our civilization for example. These super organisms beyond any individual’s power have evolved an order and dictate what we should do. They rule us, own us, embed and encompass us; We are like cells in their bodies.

What are exactly these algorithmic super-organisms? Very difficult to pin point.

If we can spot and name them, we would still view them as vague concepts entangled with each other like a spaghetti, rather than detached phsyical objects. I don’t think from our perspective we can define these super-organisms as separate entities like the conventional organisms that we know, but that doesn’t make them any less real. Perhaps we can, with our limited understandings, identify some of them that are somewhat immediately built by us: organizations, nation-states, political parties or corporates. But there is much more complexity that goes above our heads when we include all the algorithmic functionalities within and in between them.

It is really these entities who make wars, invent alphabet, or send objects to Mars, not our individual leaders, inventors or visionaries. They have habits and patterns like our personality traits, and one may say we made science as an endeaver to understand those patterns and traits.

These algorithmic gods and masters are beyond our understanding as we are beyond our cells. We are just a small part of them. And they are intelligent too. More than us or less, is difficult to tell. They are operating at different scales and deal with different problems for the survival of their code. Are we more intelligent than our cells? What about the cancerous ones? If so how one of them can kill us?

I think we already are slaves of some god-like beings that are in their infancies and are co-evolving with us. And it shouldn’t be surprising if their greed for domination and survival as their emergent property, tend to accelerate out of our control and if we find ourselves captured in a deterministic ordered that we built together, while there is no way out.

We have experienced this situation before. With the idols, commandments, money, cities and legal systems we have previously made codes that became stronger than us. These codes are already our masters, exhibiting recognizable patterns taking us to wars and situations beyond the decisions of any CEO, king or emperror.

And I think of AI threat along the same lines, only on steroid. AI is scary because it runs on increasingly faster platforms and can accelarate since it may gain the power to make itself acceleratingly smarter.

When it comes to what matters to us, things like freedom of humanity, what we call AI and is warned about can co-evolve to make the grip of such evolving super-organisms much tighter. It can give them more efficiency to execute their codes against the competition and help them minimize their cost-functions more aggressively to optimize their goal, money, growth, profit, order, whatever it might be.

While nature is at its own game, the bad news for us may that our current welfare and freedom can last for only a short moment in the history. That the priviledged position of the enlightened modern man may be just a temporary behavior of one of these algorithmic entities going through a phase transition.

So these fuzzy pilosophical especulations aside, I think what makes AI dangerous is something like this:

* * *

Technology has transformed us. As our individual survival depends more and more on the interaction with technology, we are gaining some freedom while losing some. Our functions are changing rapidly.

We are already not free to think with our own individual brains. Are we? The dominant codes, wide-spread systems and algorithms are dictating how we should think. What questions should be asked and what options are out there. How we should model the world, how we should think how to live. Call these forces the society, economy, media, culture; They have rules and systems and we get our thinking patterns from them. The most successful of them have evolved to copy themselves like programs in our heads and they are ruling us already.

We see now that smartphones controlled from small brain-like power hubs and control panels in the tech giants already control the masses. But they even control the CEOs of the those giants in some way. You see when these powerful individuals seem to be in full control, how suddenly desperate they become in the face of unforeseen challenges?

This is just one decade of smartphones taking over our lives. Soon enough we will even have chips in our brains and implants will replace screens and touchpads. So it would be much easier to control us, and voluntarily even.

Environmentally, almost all wild animals who did not follow the new order are gone already and only us the tamed ones are left. Some of us domesticated animals will be the the pigs locked up in the slaughter house. Some would be workers trapped somewhere else to provide electricity to those facilities. Some of us would be more free programming the machinery, some are following someone elses’ orders, who gets order from another one, who is somewhat voted by us through the propaganda that is fed to us by . No one’s really free already.

Who wrote all these code? No body as far as we know. We all together did it and it evolved with us. And it’s there now anyway. AI can only make us voluntarily head to make such a destiny much faster. Because it potentially knows us way better than we do ourselves.

We can’t even say if this scenario is good or bad. It just is. I think there’s no right or wrong at this scale.

Good or bad, I think a kidney cell can never go back to float freely in the wild precamberian oceans of the earth like its ancestors did. Not after it evolved to enjoy the economy of scale and its existence dependent to interact with the rest of the nody.

We may be heading to uncertain futures like this that find ourselves increasingly *locked up*, if not physically but algorithmically, to run functions that deals with our very survival. It sounds deterministic and sad. But we are heading that way already. I think AI could only make it faster and could come up with new creatures that would blow our current minds.

There is one thing for sure. What we are experiencing now is anything but a state of equilibrium, so we are heading to something pecular. We humans as the catalyzers of this process may try to stir it so the established future order wouldn’t be upleasant for our species. Although I doubt if we can manage.

Electrified Bees

If you are an electrified bee amongst all other bees in the hive, how far can you go off-the-grid and still survive?

– What if you think electrified bees produce bad honey?
– What if you have a dream of making honey, but not from sugar fed to you under fluorescent light. But from wild flowers and in the sunlight?
– What if there is this rule dictated in the hive that going off-the-grid is a sin. So if you do it, most bees would think of you as a lazy bee who doesn’t want to make its fair share of honey?
– What if you come to believe that the honey you make is really not honey?
– What if you come to believe that the honey you make is really not yours?
– What if you think the hive has a systematic leakage? And most of what you all make goes wasted?
– What if you come to understand that no one is responsible in this situation more than you. That the queen bee is in it together with all the rest?
– What if you think the hive is in a free fall off a tree, or rolling down from a hill, and sooner or later will hit the river?

Should you, if you can, get a little far from the craze if not completely off-the-grid, and still survive?
Or would you starve on the way to the flower garden?

Reflecting on Iran’s Recent Protests

Iran’s anti governmental protest enters its fourth day. People follow with mixed feelings, hope and worry. Few points and opinions for the western audience that the mass media may not highlight:

1. Technically, this time around things didn’t even start in the capital. They took off in few smaller cities across the country and spread to some big cities and then reached the capital. This points to different dynamics that could make the uprisings more difficulto control for the government. More than 30 cities have been involved. This is unprecedented.

2. Iran has reportedly repealed some net neutrality (restoring its freedom as some put it!) by reportedly discriminating against massaging apps that are used to mobilize populations. If protests spread further, they may shut down the whole network as they did before. In comparison to 2009 uprisings the Internet penetration rate has nearly doubled reaching above 80%.

3. During the first couple of days the hardliners tried to seize the protests and view them as economic disatisfaction of the masses to use it against the reformist government. That however backfired and slogans targeted the regime as a whole. This will intensify if the revolutionary guard (under the supreme leader) enters the scene; so far only the police forces have been in charge of controling the crowd with limited casualties.

4. Protesters as usual protest economic pressures and also demand social and political freedom. Economic pressures are partly due to neoliberal policies of the reformist government and the power it has given to the banks. This plus some typical-range curroption and mismanagement is not unique to Iran. Iran’s economy, however, suffers from few other elements:

The country has grown several political mafias in the past 40 years from cartels under the rule of the Islamic revolutionary guard and many other theocratic organizations. On top of these, the economic sanctions that were supposed to be relieved after the Iran Deal, still keep pressuring people. Needless to say that US under Trump resisted the agreement illegally, although Europe did its part after Iran showed its commitment to the nuclear deal.

5. Now Trump’s administration backed by the war machine is trying to harvest the fruits of this economic pressure their own way. His message [although in pure syntax and without a context] was heart-warming (The world is watching, we are supporting the people of Iran, they differ from the government, bla) in reality was only worrying, given where it came from!

The truth is, the majority of the people in Iran are tired of its theocracy, though a majority of those – hopefully – have some historic memory on what has happened to other places that US offered a hand of support; Iraq, Lybia, Afaghanistan, Yemen and Syria, directly or indirectly. So it seems they will pass this time too. Plus no one should be fooled that Trump’s administration has a slightest care for this thing called human rights, in any part of the world.

This is a political excuse to use against the geopolitical adversaries, and never against the temporary allies. And in itself is a hypocratic and psychopathic measure.

6. Along those lines, Fox News is shamelessly repeating that Obama lost a golden opportunity in 2009 to interfere or else the Iranian regime would not be in place. I wonder what kind of people watch this show. What’s their level of intellect, their fact-base or their empathy level, to buy this rhetoric, still in 2017? One of these three at least shall be questioned for any houshold who gets their news and analysis from such sources.

Had Obama meddled in 2009, [a quick look at other countries where they meddled show that] not only the theocrats in Tehran wouldn’t be in place right now, but lots of buildings and roads, infrastructure and universities and historic monuments and probably some half a million people wouldn’t also be there. Thus, Obama did the right thing not to seize that *opportunity* to wage war against a complex and misunderstood country. And did it wrong with any other country that it did meddle with, including Syria and Lybia. It’s that simple. And it’s mind-blowing that a large fraction of the American public watch this rhetoric on channels like Fox and don’t call it bullshit to change the channel immediately! This is about time for Americans (and with respect to the trends, soon the rest of the west) to understand how short-minded and manipulative these rhetorics are and to stop seeing themselves as the saviors of the world. Especially America that needs to deal with its own rigged politics before exporting a democracy that is running out at home.

7. War is a lose-lose game. That is, the end of all hopes. And the war machine does not miss any opportunity to wage another war. The west must not repeat its mistake this time around, when US adiministration will come to team up to get allies to participate in another war. We must be very clear that it is not an option.

War is lose-lose game for the whole planet, including the western voters who keep voting for war-friendly politics, not paying enough attention to the fact that much of their issues come from those counter-productive policies. Only few will win in a war: Right wing politicians, such as the Republican Party and the sentaros who will use it to distract the public while looting them. Hardliners, Mullahs and right-wings in Tehran who will probably get more powerful if they won’t be overthrown, as they did it before in the 80s. Even if they are rid of, other perhaps new radical groups and brands such as ISIS who will norture from a post-war ecology. And not to mention, of course the weapon industry and their shareholders. These groups combined mke a very tiny fraction of the world population. They are the winners of the next war and every one else will lose. Generations will be hurt and that pain – as usual – will NOT stay within the borders of the affected country. Its shockwaves does spread through immigration, economic difficulties, disease and a lot of other mysterious ways that Karma works. So do not get hopeful when you see another country in war cast on your TV. Right in that moment you are participating in it, and Karma works in mysterious ways!

8. Social and political freedom is a win-win game. It’s time for theocrats in Tehran to let go of their repressive measures and let the people breath. They sure know policies such as compulsory hijab, or the organizations that keep an otherwise democratic code from functioning democratically, do not come from their faith in some ideology. These are just symbolic signs to show who has the power, or some institutions to presever it. And similar to the collapse of soviets, they aren’t working for them anymore and if they try to keep those elements, they may lose it all.

So it’s about time for the Iranian government to allow genuine and radical reforms – socially and even politically – not as a passive response to the political unrest, but as proactive measures for the future events that will sure come their way even if they manage this one. In fact this might be one of their last chances to do so. The moment people know a different reality is imaginable they will not tolarate theb current fourty-years backwards politics of isolation. We are hopeful and we wish that somehow without any other foreign intrusion, the Iranian people manage to mobilize peacefully to align their demands, and confront their local dominators in large numbers to show that enough is enough. Let’s see how the future unfolds. But a large political shift, like a referendum should be within reach.

And as a usual princinple, screw the dominator!

Peace and love