The concept of time is uniquely human. We think that very few species of life have a concept of the past and of the future and of time itself; possibly just chimps and maybe dolphins in addition to Homo sapiens
We humans are a part of the universe created by the universe with the property of consciousness. Our consciousness enables us to believe that we have a purpose. The only logical purpose for us, during our brief existence, is to try to maximize our collective happiness.
This is a statement of my beliefs about the nature of us and our world and ourselves and of what might be the nature of a utopian or ideal, from the standpoint of maximizing our collective happiness, environment in which we could exist, if we can create such a world. Fortunately, one of the properties of ourselves, as humans, is that we do, to some extent, have the ability to change our world. It remains to be seen if we have the ability to change it enough to create this utopian vision.
We are organic beings which, through the providence of an infinite universe in which islands of order occasionally emerge from the chaos of continual creation and destruction, have evolved to a point of consciousness. This means that we have a perception of ourselves and a universe around us. Since this is what we perceive the question of its reality is a question with no meaning. Our purpose is to be aware of our own consciousness which is defined as an existence which can appreciate the universe. We should celebrate the fact that we exist as a part of the universe.
Our existence is expressed in a number of ways:
Besides the biological imperative of DNA for reproduction and survival, man's consciousness has also developed a need to feel that it has a purpose in addition to or instead of the biological imperative. This purpose can be considered to be to maximize satisfaction with the brain's perception of the events of life. Different people tend to get more satisfaction from different things. For instance:
I see the world as a huge evolutionary process from my perception of time which, I realize, is probably an illusion. This process proceeds from chaos toward complexity in stages in which all possibilities are tried and almost all result in what, from my perception, is failure with a very infrequent success. Complete chaos means nothing exists which is the same as complete order. Once something exists it tends to be in a disordered state because there are more arrangements of stuff that are disordered than that are ordered. If, in a disordered universe, small pockets of order happen to appear, energy is required to maintain or increase that order.
The first stage of this process was physical which resulted in many worlds with vast amounts of matter and energy, a very small proportion of which became stars and galaxies and planets.
The next stage was biological in which life appeared on a very small number of these planets.
The next stage was multicelluar in which the complexity of a few organisms increased by symbiosis of individual single cells and life later evolved to a form of complex multicelluar plants and animals and in a very few cases it developed consciousness. Of these, which on Earth was the genus Homo, several species developed with only one becoming Homo sapiens sapiens.
The next stage was social in which complex forms of life banded together to form social units of more and more complexity resulting, at this point, in the most complex being nations and multi-national corporations and other aggregations.
The next stage seems to be virtual in which people are forming virtual communities which is probably a further refinement of the social stage but it is unclear where this is heading.
During the last of these stages, due to the brain power or ability for abstract thought and analysis of man, there were technological developments which accelerated the process. Building of shelters, the taming of fire, inventions of the spear and the ax and the bow and arrow were followed by the water pump and the wheel. Later came agriculture and machines and the industrial revolution leading to robotics and nanotechnology with the result of freeing man from much physical labor.
Then came writing and the printing press and computers which resulted in very enhanced mental abilities and possibilities of data collection and organization and manipulation leading to an accelerated explosion of knowledge and consciousness. These developments meant that we could have a collective memory and repository of knowledge accessible both worldwide and over time.
This was followed by development of the internet which meant that planetwide communication and creation of virtual worlds was possible.
In the meantime genetic knowledge gives the possibilities of man being able to control his own evolution and that of other species and space exploration which gives the possibility of man leaving earth and spreading to other places.
Of course there were many setbacks along the way including several near extinctions of all life on Earth and several near extinctions of Homo sapiens. There were also setbacks in the development of man such as arguably, agriculture, and unarguably, religion. At this point there are a number of threats (see problems) to the existence of mankind, most of which are caused by man himself, which are likely to result in an end to this prong of the overall evolution of this planet in this world of the many worlds of the universe.
From my standpoint, however, the only productive stance is to assume that this prong of evolution is not a dead end and to consider ways in which progression to even further complexity might take place and my appropriate response, if any, to these possibilities.
This is a timeline of human development to help us to keep our place in time in the proper perspective. It is based on a scale in which now is midnight on December 31 and on this scale the formation of the earth 4.5 billion years ago was one year ago on January 1st.
At this scale one month represents 375 million years of history.
6 months is 2 1/4 billion years
3 months is 1.125 billion years
1 day is 12.3 million years
1 hour is 513,698 years
1 minute is 8,562 years
and 1 second is almost 143 years.
So, at this scale, here is the year:
74,000 years ago Toba volcano eruption causes global cooling and reduces world human population to just a few thousand people and they began to wear clothes to keep warm.
About 60,000 years ago the scientific Adam gave birth to the modern human race.
40,000 years ago was a supernova event - arrival of radiation blast - preceded by huge gravity waves, which unsettle the earth's crust, causing increase in volcanic activity.
33,000 years ago was another supernova event - arrival of the supernova shockwave.
20,000 years ago was the peak of the last Ice Age.
12,000 years ago end of last major ice age.
The sphinx was built.
10,000 years ago the Sahara began to transform from grassland to desert.
farming - goats, cattle, sheep, wheat, barley, rice, millet, lentils, figs, beer, pottery, pigs, llamas, chickens, spinning and weaving.
8,000 to 9,000 years ago city of Jericho flourishes.
6,000 years ago there were villages with Kings and the beginnings of empires and some big buildings were built such as the ziggurat temples in west asia.
Horses were domesticated and carts were invented as were metal tools from bronze.
5,000 years ago writing began.
4,500 years ago the pyramids were built.
4,000 years ago wheels with spokes and the pottery wheel.
3,500 years ago the alphabet and use of iron.
3,000 - 2,000 years ago religions developed - kingdoms and city states and empires
Bow and arrow, travel and trade flourished.
2,000 to 1,600 years ago there were smallpox epidemics, blown glass and paper were invented bricks and concrete were used for building.
1,500 years ago the idea of zero as a placeholder was conceived and the modern numeric system began.
1,600 to 1,200 years ago empires collapsed and Islam arose and Christianity spread.
1,150 years ago arabic scholars invented algebra.
1,000 years ago the climate got warmer and mirrors were invented.
900 years ago was the first Crusade.
800 years ago the Mongols rose to power and spread culture throughout asia and the middle east. There was moveable type, compasses and gunpowder.
700 years ago was the little ice age, a colder period.
670 years ago the Mongol influence increased trade and travel and people living in cities spread the bubonic plague throughout Europe, Asia, and North Africa and the Mongol empire collapsed.
600 years ago was the end of the plague and the Ottoman empire spread.
The Iroquois and Inca, Aztec, Maya, and Zapotec tribes were strong in America.
500 years ago the last islamic rulers were forced from Spain and Columbus sailed for North America.
In the last 500 years the enlightenment began as well as the age of exploration and the subjugation of native peoples by the Europeans.
In the last 150 years, more big changes came to the world. First, the invention of motorized machines, or the industrial revolution, meant that instead of most people working on farms, most people could live in cities while only a few people worked on farms. Second, the native people of most of the conquered countries got back control of their countries.
What are the things and events which formed what I think of as me?
Is there any "me" independent of these influences?
See these links:
We Can Move.
We humans share about 50% of our DNA with a banana. Banana plants are fixed in place but we can move. That accounts for some of the differences in our DNA. Banana plants have roots and a stem and leaves. We have bones and muscles formed into arms and legs and a head. Not only can we move our bodies, but we can also move other things. I can carry a stick of wood or a banana over there. A banana can't do that.
We are also different than a rock or a drop of water in that we have a method of reproduction as does a banana. Us living things can produce more very much like ourselves. A rock can't do that.
We are a complex assemblage of living cells sychronized into a harmonious and symbiotic relationship. We also exist in social structures of many of us working together.
We also are conscious of our environment and have networks of specialized cells called neurons which give us the ability to compute and to perceive our environment by interpreting the signals received from our sensory cells. Due to this and to our ability to move we can change the environment around us.
So, to some extent, we are not at the mercy of our surroundings but can either move to other surroundings or change our existing environment by use of technology we have been able to develop.
In the long evolution of the universe, we are the most complex development that we know of. That is an amazing fact and makes us very unique. Many of us are not fully aware of the complexity of our existence and, perhaps, not adequately appreciative of it.
Many of us are also not aware of the nature of the world in which we live as a structure of patterns and cycles and change at scales large and small.
How are we humans unique?
First we are complex beings made of matter (mostly carbon, hydrogen and oxygen) and energy.
We are alive as opposed to a chunk of granite, for instance. That means we can reproduce or produce others much like ourselves.
We are beings composed of a huge aggregation of individual specialized cells living in a symbiotic relationship.
We are able to move in space and to move other things in space as opposed to most plants and inanimate objects which are fixed in space or have no control over how they are moved.
We have a mind that is conscious of our existence and of things around us and that is capable of abstract thought including imagination and logic and speech. We are aware of the passage of time and are able, to some extent, to remember the past and to imagine the future. So far though, we have a perception of moving in time only forward and only at a speed over which we have no control.
Due probably to our sexual method of reproduction, we are a social species and tend to form all kinds of social relationships and organizations.
Due to the nature of our mind's ability to imagine and our muscles' ability to move both ourselves and other objects we are able to invent tools and to harness the forces of nature such as fire and even nuclear energy. We can change the world around us to an extent which seems awesome.
We have developed a collective memory and knowledge repository in the form of recorded data which gives us the ability to transcend distance and time in passing on our accumulated knowledge and beliefs to others both in our world and to our future.
We are becoming a combination of physical, biological, social and technological beings which, as far as we know, could be unique in the universe, but probably isn't.
As biological individuals we have an existence which is limited in time but, due to our culture, the social institutions of which we are a part and the creations of our existence have the possibility of surviving us for some time.
How do we spend our time in this limited existence? What do we do?
We, first of all, do those things that are the necessities of our existence. These include procuring food and shelter and health care and education and companionship and reproducing. We also try to protect ourselves and our families and social relationships from destruction by other humans or other living things or the forces of nature. In other words, from war and crime and wild animals and disease and the ravages of age and from floods and tornadoes and falling objects and earthquakes and other such dangers.
The interesting thing is though, that we also do things which are not necessary for our existence and which, it seems, we only do for fun or pleasure. This includes things like stamp collecting, music, composing, arranging, playing and enjoyment; games both mental like chess and physical like baseball and other activities which are certainly not essential to life but may even be detrimental, such as mountain climbing, boxing, scuba diving and bungee jumping. We do these things for the pleasure or the rush they give us. We like to create for our own pleasure, for the accolades of others and for posterity. We do things like writing, painting, inventing, entertaining and a host of other non-essential activities.
So as our knowledge of our world and of the nature of our existence increases we, more and more, want to explain the how and the why of our being.
How do we learn?
Before the baby is born and afterward as the brain develops, the newly forming brain is bombarded with stimuli from the senses. Its first task is to begin to make sense of these sensations by recognizing patterns and connections and similarities. It is able to remember these sensations and begin to organize them in memory by associations. Consciousness, memory and ability to recognize and mentally organize patterns and connections is the essence of what we consider the intelligence of our species.
This organization is aided by coding in the DNA which developed in past generations in a way which was most likely to ensure survival of the species. For instance, it is thought that fear of falling is encoded in the DNA and that leads to fear of heights. So one of the first things is to recognize those sensations that are associated with being in a place from which one might fall. Other emotions besides fear such as happiness, sadness, and anger also seem to be encoded in our DNA.
For obvious reasons it is also important to be able to recognize and remain close to parents and those on which the newborn's survival depends and to find and obtain sustenance.
At any rate, the brain seems to develop early in life by growing neurons and the connections between them designed to enhance this process of making sense of the world around us in a way which will help us to survive.
So, as we grow and develop, we come to have a world view of the environment in which we exist and of other people and beings in that environment and of relationships among ourselves and the beings and things in our environment.
As we get older this world view becomes hardened in our brain and the fundamental beliefs we develop when young become very difficult to change or dislodge, sometimes even in the face of overwhelming evidence that they may be wrong.
After a few years of attachment to our family and our world we develop a need to assert our own individuality or to separate ourselves from our known world and explore more of the rest of the world and develop a life separate from our parents and to find a mate.
Many people remain in their familiar world and others leave to find their own way. It is interesting that many of those who separate often after a few years or many years decide to return to the world in which they first began life.
Many of us feel that the world which we first learned is the only correct or secure or proper world and that other peoples or environments or ways of life are alien to us. Others are able to leave and never, or seldom, look back.
The neocortex occupies the bulk of the cerebrum. This is a six-layered structure of the cerebral cortex which is only found in mammals. It is thought that the neocortex is a recently evolved structure, and is associated with "higher" information processing by more fully evolved animals (such as humans, primates, dolphins, etc).
Thoughts on burning a stick of wood in the stove.
I burned a piece of wood to keep myself and my family warm this winter night.
That led me to contemplate what is.
What is is but only on condition.
That condition is that what is can be in more than one state.
If not for that condition what is would not be.
So what is changes state, say from 0 to 1.
But what is in state 1 changes state also, perhaps back to 0.
So if what is changes state rather than existing in multiple states then this implies the concept of time which must refer to a measure of the existence of what is in a given state. Note that we are not saying that what is is monolithic but can be perceived as an infinity of parts, each of which can be in one of various states at any particular time.
On occasion what is in state 1 combines with more of what is in state 1 and becomes a combined what is which might be perceived as state 2. This can then be seen to lead to the possibility of the existence of states 3 and 4 and even higher states of what is.
This process can lead to the perceived existence of what is being in states of matter and energy and even to such complexity as a hydrogen atom. What is then can have a property, perhaps an electromagnetical property and/or a gravitational property, such that it can attract more of what is in the same or a similar state and a further process of combining or increasing complexity can take place so that stars are formed in which nuclear and quantum forces increase complexity in the face of entropy which is a term referring to the tendency of what is to revert to a simpler or less complex form.
As a result of this property of what is we can perceive matter and energy existing in various states of complexity and this perception is our world. This world seems to be bootstrapped and its perception is indistinguishable from reality so the question of whether it is real is a non defined question. It just is.
So we have the existence of complexity and of time and of cycles. The first cycle is the cycle of changing states. But there is also the cycle of increasing complexity and of its opposite, increasing entropy, both concepts possible because of the measure of what we perceive as time.
So we can now perceive of a world of various states of complexity existing in a continuum of time which is characterized by change.
This concept gives rise to the perception of matter and energy in various states which, in the continuum, changes.
This is our perception.
From this perception comes the concept of evolution which is the process of change over time.
First is the physical evolution leading to a complex world of matter and energy, of physics and chemistry.
Then comes a threshold reached in which this complexity gives rise to life, another level of complexity.
After that comes biological evolution and the perception of the concepts of biology.
That leads to a threshold of combinations of biological existence and complexity which gives rise to very complex beings giving rise to consciousness and to a social structure and culture and the perception of the concepts of psychology and sociology. This is then a third level of being.
That then leads to complex social structures giving rise to technology.
And the combination of physical, biological, social and technological beings perceived by themselves as the Borg.
As one of the Borg, I perceive myself as an individual which is a part of something larger, first in the long term existence of the strands of DNA which define me and also as a part of a social structure. My physical world of matter and energy, my biological existence as DNA and the social and cultural structures into which my individual being is interweaved will have an existence measured in time longer than my individual existence.
However, it is a primary property of my individual existence that I am compelled to extend the existence of my physical body and my biological legacy and my social and cultural organizations as long as possible.
That is why I put a stick of wood in the stove.
Now let us look at the physical and chemical and biological cycles implied in that act.
Due to the memories and knowledge held in my neural networks and gained from my culture and from my personal experiences, I know or believe or have the perception that I am a warm blooded animal, a mammal. Mammals living in cold environments require, besides water and energy (food), shelter from the cold to prevent their dissolution or death caused by the pressure of increasing entropy. This implies a need for such things as buildings or other shelters, clothing and a source of heat, especially on cold winter nights.
Wood is a complex organic structure formed by other living beings which will, when heated in the presence of oxygen, be broken down into its constituent components, in the process, releasing the heat energy which was originally added to the structure by trees during the photosynthetic process in a previous time. So this energy is the energy from the sun. Most energy on the earth either comes from the sun or from heat within the molten core of the earth, although it may have been stored and/or converted in form in various ways as in the case of wood.
This energy is stored in the wood in a potential rather than kinetic state in the form of chemical bonds meaning that formation of the wood is an endothermic process. Burning the wood breaks those bonds releasing the energy kinetically. In other words that is an exothermic process.
Burning is the process of chemical and physical changes initiated by heating the wood in the presence of oxygen. This process releases more energy than is required to cause the process.
Wood is a complex organic carbohydrate made mainly, like all carbohydrates, of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen by the use of energy in a factory like process, in this case, photosynthesis. It is made from water and carbon dioxide in the presence of sunlight. The complex carbohydrates are primarily cellulose, hemi-cellulose and ligin which form chains and fibers with ligin acting as an adhesive binding it all together.
All common wood is made up of roughly 50% Carbon, 6% Hydrogen, and 44% Oxygen with the rest inorganic ash. When burned completely about 1/2 the wood mass is converted to Carbon Dioxide and 1/2 to water.
The process liberates about 8600 to 9000 Btu's of heat energy per pound.
Up to 85% of the mass and 60% of the heating value of the wood is usually consumed in burning with the remainder becoming smoke, creosote and ash. Smoke contains over 100 chemical compounds including carbon monoxide and methane.
A wood fire consists of primary combustion in which the wood is burned and secondary combustion in which the gases produced by primary combustion are burned. Primary combustion produces the coals and embers you see and secondary combustion produces the flames.
When the tree produced the wood it combined carbon dioxide from the air and water from the ground, which was in the ground due to rain removing the water from the air, and using sunlight as energy through a complex process to produce a very complex carbohydrate. In other words use of energy to increase complexity using the water cycle and the carbon cycle in which these elements exist in our world.
When I cut the tree and split the wood and stacked it and put it in the stove I used the energy stored in my muscles from food I had eaten, which were other complex carbohydrates, to convert the standing tree to wood in my stove. This enabled me and my family to survive to eat more food in a mesh of other cycles extending the amount of time I and my family could exist as individuals before being dissolved into our constituent components by the inexorable forces of increasing entropy.
This returned the water and carbon dioxide to the air for use by other trees to produce more wood.
So existence consists of our perception of cycles of states of being.
A belief in overall kindness and sharing, means that people must all work together for the common good with everyone sharing every life necessity available as equitably as possible so that the goal is a common destiny for all and that each one must be supported not only physically but also emotionally and economically by all others. This applies to family and to local social groups as well as to political entities and to the stranger within our gates or to those in need worldwide because we are all in the same boat. That boat is called Earth and we must care for and maintain it.
Hopefully this attitude will lead to humility and peace and caring for the well being and happiness of others and tolerance of differences in the beliefs and life styles of others.
People should spend their time exercising; expanding their education and their minds, traveling to distant areas, studying subjects of interest, attending classes, forums, discussions, symposiums, or arts events such as concerts; creating things or ideas; or playing sports or other games of physical or mental skill or participating in protecting the environment or improving the community and/or government.
People need the resources to live and support a family. They do not need to work. They need to live.
Once people were a part of the community. They gave according to their ability and were supported according to their need. If they did not fit in they could be expelled from the group.
So thieves and liars and greedy power grabbers and loafers were ostracized or expelled. Others could expect to be supported by the community.
We humans consider ourselves the pinnacle and crowning achievement of millions of years of biological evolution or of divine creation.
As such we have an interesting culture:
We have developed a worldwide news media which will give equal time to a deflated football or an exposed female nipple as to widespread war or destruction by natural disasters and more time than to scientific discoveries and technological inventions.
We love our pets so much that at the end of life when they are in constant pain we will pay to have them euthanized, but we will fight to keep alive people in the same condition or in irreversible comas or to preserve the lives of premature babies who we know will never have any quality of life and will require constant around the clock care for their entire lives.
We bemoan the violent nature of our people and other peoples and argue, with a straight face, that the solution to this violence is to be sure more people have arms and countries have more armaments.
A reporter will stand on national TV and interview one of the few survivors in the midst of a scene of widespread death and destruction while that survivor argues that his very life is proof of the existence of a loving and benevolent God who loves and protects mankind in return only for unquestioning blind obedience and worship.
We think nothing of movies viewed by children which depict unending violence and gruesome death and destruction of human bodies, while we believe that if they were to see two naked people making love together in that same movie they would be emotionally scarred for life.
We try our best to protect our children from knowledge that females have breasts or that males have penises or that Daddy would ever stick his penis inside Mommy.
We act as if we believe that some people are rich and powerful because they deserve to be so and others are poor and homeless because they want to be in that condition.
We are willing to go to great lengths to ensure as many births as possible but argue against spending money on the health, education or welfare of the people who are the result of this process.
We admire nature so much that we are willing to show our admiration by destroying it. If you see a beautiful flower blooming in the woods, by all means, cut it off or pull it up to take it home with you. To love is to possess.
In war, we believe that to save the village it is sometimes necessary to destroy it.
We threaten to kill those others who will not accept our peaceful and loving way of life.
or the story of how grandma gets to see the new baby!There was a man named Benjamin Franklin who flew a kite in a rain storm and demonstrated the existence of electricity. He was studying energy so today we might call him a physicist. If he studied matter we might call him a chemist. However, according to Einstein's theory of relativity, as demonstrated by the existence of atomic energy, matter and energy can be converted one to the other so physicists and chemists are really studying different aspects of the same thing.
Matter consists of atoms such as oxygen which has 8 protons in its nucleus and carbon which has 6 and silicon which has 14. A stable atom has the same number of electrons in its shells as protons in its nucleus but it is possible for an atom to have too few electrons so there can be an electron imbalance. This causes a potential for the electrons to flow from one place to another to correct this imbalance. Some materials allow electrons to flow easily and others do not. We call the first type of materials conductors because they conduct electrons freely and the other type non-conductors or insulators or resistors because they do not. Essentially this flow of electrons and changing their status from one energy level to another is what we call electricity and this process can release energy which can be useful to us humans.
So things like metals and water are generally conductors and things like glass and rubber and plastic are insulators. That means if we have a thing like a battery which stores high energy excess electrons or a generator which creates them and we connect it with a piece of metal such as a wire to a sink sometimes called a ground which has a lower number of electrons we can induce a flow of electrons through the wire. If we cause these electrons to flow through a material of greater resistance such as the filament in a light bulb then we will get a release of some of the energy in the electrons usually in the form of heat or light. That's why light bulbs and electric heaters work. Passing an electric current through a coil around a core of ferromagnetic material such as soft iron creates an electromagnet which can be used to move matter giving rise to electric motors, generators, relays, loudspeakers, hard disks, MRI machines and many other uses.
Men who had developed abstract concepts like language and even writing and drawing or painting discovered or realized that the flow of electrons could be controlled to represent a code like that developed by a man named Morse. So the telegraph worked by one man pressing a key to allow or stop the flow of electricity over a wire and by a man at the other end of the wire listening to clicks produced by the energy released by directing this flow into an electromagnet which attracted a piece of metal mounted on a spring. When the second man interpreted the code represented by these clicks man had created a method of transmission of information over a distance.
Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone by realizing that instead of sending clicks over a wire he could collect sound waves into a pattern of electron flow by means of a microphone and decode that back into sound waves by a speaker on the other end of the wire.
Then Marconi and others invented the radio by sending these patterns through air and space by means of modulated radio waves. Besides the light bulb and many other inventions, Thomas Edison, invented a method to store these patterns of sound waves so that they could be played back over speakers at a later date and they could even be duplicated to be played back many times. Thus the phonograph and records.
Then it was just a matter of encoding light waves and decoding them along with sound waves to invent the television and movies.
Information is data represented in an abstract way such as words, or written symbols or, in the case of the telegraph, patterns of electron flow. Our brains receive input as signals from stimulated neurons. We know of five sources of these stimuli. The eyes receive light rays and transmit that data. The ears receive sound waves. The nerves in the skin receive touch from other matter. The nose analyses chemicals in the air and the tongue analyses chemicals in materials in the mouth. There is also the subconscious part of the brain and the autonomic nervous system to consider.
So the brain receives input and interprets it and stores this interpretation as information in memory. If I receive a letter from my dad in which he says he has three cows in the barn, my brain receives the image of the light rays reflected from the page of his letter and interprets these into words. It then interprets these words into an image of three cows in a barn. This image in my mind probably gives a color to these cows such as black and a position such as standing or lying down even though the letter did not specify this information. The image of the barn may be more exact because I may have seen the barn in the past and may have a memory of it already so that the new data is merged with the old memory. Later if I visit the barn and find two standing red cows my brain will reinterpret the information by correcting the color and position of the cows and concluding that one cow has left the barn or perhaps that my dad was mistaken in the number of cows he originally reported in his letter.
Organically information can be stored in memory as patterns in brain cells and transmitted by the nervous system, perhaps as words spoken to another or as actions taken by muscles due to conclusions reached from analysing the data. We also now, as humans, have the ability to store data externally in a number of ways including on paper; magnetic, optical, or solid state on digital media; graffiti on walls, etc. and to transmit data by moving the storage media physically or by copying and transmitting it as electronic images or by light or sound waves or other methods. Some of the first methods used to store information external to the human memory were rock carvings, cave paintings and storage of numeric data by means of knots tied in ropes.
The digital camera is an instrument invented to collect light rays hitting a lens in much the same way the eye works and converting the information received into an electronic code which can be used to recreate these light wave patterns perhaps on a computer screen or printed on a paper.
Your new baby is born and, having a digital camera, you take a picture of her cute smiling (or crying) face. The camera stores the information collected by those light rays shining through the lens onto a light sensor into an electronic pattern in a format determined by the program in your camera. That computer file is stored on a storage media such as a solid state flash card and labeled with a file name such as "pic001352.jpeg" That means that this is the 1352nd picture taken on your camera and that it is information stored in the format standard developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group.
You also have a computer which is an instrument invented by man for the purpose of electronically collecting, storing, and manipulating data. For more information about this click here.
You connect your camera to your computer and transfer the file of the picture of your new baby to the computer in the process changing the file name to "NewBaby.jpg". The file is stored on your computer's hard disk drive in a region that has been labeled by the computer's operating software as "My Documents/My Pictures". You store it in this location so that you can find the picture easily among all the other data stored in your computer such as Aunt Jane's recipe for sauerkraut and notes from your advanced calculus class and your financial records and your genealogy information.
Then you run an application program you have installed on your computer which has the purpose and the ability to send and receive email. Grandma has told you in the past that her email address is "email@example.com" so you give your email program the command to send an email to grandma at that address and you write the subject as "Picture of new baby attached." Then you give your email program the command to attach and send a copy of a computer file along with your message and you browse to the place in your computer file system where you have stored the picture and click with your mouse on "NewBaby.jpg". This tells your email program which computer file you want to attach.
When you click on the send button the magic begins to happen. Assuming you have set up a connection to the internet through an ISP (Internet Service Provider) such as your local telephone company, your email program sends your email to the MTA (Mail Transfer Agent) which is a program on a computer belonging to your ISP. The MTA program reads the address and parses out the domain "yahoo.com". The MTA sends a request to the DNS (Domain Name Server) for the ISP. The request asks that computer for the IP (internet protocol) address of yahoo.com and that address is received back in the format of 4 numbers separated by dots as in 22.214.171.124. The numbers are all three digits or less from 0 to 255. The IP address is a number assigned to the computer receiving internet traffic for Yahoo. From this point on the IP directs your message to Yahoo's computer. The message is transferred from computer to computer so that it goes to a main internet backbone computer first identified as 98. That computer then sends the message to a computer within its network identified as 139 which sends it to a computer in its subnetwork labelled 180 which then sends the message to computer 149 at Yahoo. That computer then reads the address as "Grandma" and stores the message in a part of its storage system indexed to Grandma so that when Grandma uses her email program to check her email it will find and download the message with the attached picture into her computer and she can view the jpg file with her picture viewing application.
That is a computer program which instructs the computer to load a data file, in this case NewBaby.jpg, and decode the file to convert it to a pattern of colors on a computer monitor (screen) or to print that pattern of colors on paper by means of an attached printer. That pattern of colors is a reasonable representation of the light waves received by your camera lens when focused on your new baby's face.
Those who have read much of my writings will know that I am fascinated with many aspects of the universe and of my existence as a part of it. I have written about the Big History of the World and the physical evolution (change) in the universe and the biological evolution of life culminating at this point in the species, Homo sapiens with its developed neurological capacity leading to consciousness and a third stage of evolution of social, cultural and technological complexity. This technological evolution has, as I see it, two distinct parts. First we developed tools to help us with the physical work of our life leading to the bow and arrow, the water pump, the mechanical reaper, the automobile and nuclear power. Then we began to develop tools to help us with the mental and social work of our lives; with communication and calculation leading to such things as the printing press, the telephone and the radio and the computer and the internet. This gave us the ability to begin to conquer space and our own DNA.
This essay is about the convergence of these two types of technological development in which the tools we have developed for our physical empowerment use the tools we have developed for our mental empowerment to do things for us. Some fear this will lead to our tools developing their own consciousness and becoming aware and working together for their own ends which may not be in the best interests of us, their creators. One aspect of this is what is called the Internet of Things.
Here are a few links:
I envision a home automation system which includes the sensors and the output devices below all of which are assigned a network address and the controller for which, such as an Almond router, can be interfaced by a program on a computer or a tablet or a phone or a web page accessible from anywhere and which can display conditions from all the input devices as well as activity logs and can send either command line commands to all the output devices or can run timed scripts to control the output devices depending on the environment reported by the input devices.
This means scripts could output graphic and video playlists to screens and audio playlists to speakers, take pictures and video, turn on and off and dim lights and other electrical applicances, play movies to specified screens and speakers in mono or stereo, change colors of lights, lock and unlock doors, control curtains, blinds, and heating and cooling, send emails and text messages either automatically or on demand, and even print out documents on a printer.
The addresses of these devices could be either on a local network or on the internet anywhere in the world.
Ideally the controller would be on an Uninterruptible Power Supply and would be able to switch on a backup power supply in case of electrical failure.
All electrical devices in this utopian future world would be designed to interface with such a system. Besides the smart toaster and refrigerator in the kitchen there might also be a screen on which messages to the family could be displayed with a couple of buttons to mark the messages as read or to delete them.
I could imagine the features of a universal protocol language with security protocols for managing such devices. As far as I know there is no work at present on such a universal protocol but that would seem to me to be essential before this vision could become a practical reality.
How close are we to achieving this vision and what would others add to this wish list?
Sensors - input devices
Basic Economics as I Learned it.
Money is not Wealth!
Wealth is human capital such as culture and education and skills and it is things such as food and land and minerals and growing crops and forests and machinery and tools and it is infrastructure such as roads and dams and buildings and water lines and sewer lines and phone and electric lines.
Money, on the other hand, is just a means of measuring and exchanging wealth. At a given point in time it has a value which translates to the amount of real wealth such as that defined above for which it can be exchanged. At one time a bale of hay may be worth $1.00 or 1 unit of whatever type of money we are talking about and at another time it may be worth 4 units.
It does not matter what the exchange rate is as long as we are able to sell our stuff for money and using money to get or make or hire more stuff. What does matter and can cause a problem is the value of money changing between the time we get it by selling and the time we spend it for something. So inflation or deflation or printing more money or governments or other institutions taking money out of circulation only affects those who are holding cash or its equivalent.
Monetary policy is referred to as either being expansionary or contractionary, where an expansionary policy increases the total supply of money in the economy more rapidly than usual, and contractionary policy expands the money supply more slowly than usual or even shrinks it. Expansionary policy is traditionally used to try to combat unemployment in a recession by lowering interest rates in the hope that easy credit will entice businesses into expanding. Contractionary policy is intended to slow inflation in order to avoid the resulting distortions and deterioration of asset values.
Money supply is influenced by tax policy, government spending, and interest rate manipulation.
Keynesian economics holds that governments should expand the money supply during periods of high unemployment and contract it during boom periods when the economy is expanding and unemployment is low. Expansion of the money supply is done by lowering tax rates, increasing spending and lowering interest rates which leads to government deficit spending but this is not problematic because interest rates are low. Contraction of the money supply is done and government debts are paid off during boom times by decreasing government spending, raising tax rates and raising interest rates.
Expanding the money supply decreases the value of cash being held thus encouraging spending and investment. Contracting the money supply increases the value of cash held encouraging saving and slowing investment, thus putting the brakes on excessive speculation.
Unfortunately, many people do not understand these principles and thus believe during economic stress periods that governments should operate by increasing austerity, decreasing spending and deficits. This tends to make recessions deeper and longer lasting than they need be and rather than leveling economic swings tends to exacerbate them. Conversely during good times government policy makers may feel that it is safe to overspend rather than reducing debt because they do not seem to anticipate future downswings. Also they find it is more fun to spend and gives them more bragging rights with the voters. They often feel that if they cause future problems, maybe the chickens won't come home to roost until they are out of office leaving the resulting problems for their successors.
The strength and wealth of a nation is not threatened by deficit spending if Keynesian principles are followed because money is not wealth. Deficit spending is only a problem if it is done on a large scale during periods of prosperity as was often done recently during Republican administrations such as the Reagan and second Bush administrations. Increasing national debt during boom times makes it more difficult to increase debt when it is necessary during economic downturns and limits the flexibility needed during those times.
The disabled widow woman only survives because of the kindness of her neighbors and charitable organizations and government programs. She does not accumulate wealth.
The current worker or retired previous worker survives only to the extent that the rulers at the top let him keep a small portion of the wealth he produces.
Mostly the wealth produced trickles upward and is accumulated at the top so that the small number of rulers there, over time and through generations, end up with a huge proportion of all the wealth of the society.
Those who do not produce wealth are those who do not work with their hands or their minds or their sweat to produce the goods and services needed by our society.
That includes the banking and the insurance industry and capitalists who only own and use paper such as deeds and mortgages and stocks and bonds and cash.
They are the people who make the rules that the rest of us have to live by.
The workers are those who work with their hands to produce or who create with their minds and their imaginations or who use their knowledge to provide the services that others need. These include the farmer and the miner and the fisherman and the forester and the factory worker and the builder and the sales clerk and the trucker and the lineman and the garbage man and the plumber and the teacher and the librarian and the historian and the programmer and the doctor and the lawyer and the scientist and the engineer and the fire fighter and the policeman and the soldier and the entertainer and others in similar positions.
Now we have had increased productivity for a long time with people working long hours with more overtime and increasing unemployment. As a result wages have not increased as fast as has productivity. This seems to suit the ruling class because keeping unemployment high keeps workers scared to join unions and ask for higher wages, so the rulers reap the increased profits.
Remembering those articles and their vision of the future, I am thinking that maybe we need a 30 hour work week with four weeks of annual paid vacation and a minimum wage of about 25 dollars per hour at today's dollar value indexed to inflation.
Hopefully that would reduce unemployment and redistribute wealth. Then we just have to rethink the "work ethic" and reimagine use of leisure time.
Money Supply vs. Real Wealth (assets):
Money supply has a definite ratio to real wealth (assets).
If real wealth is increased either by an increase in the labor supply or by increased productivity, then the money supply can be increased accordingly.
If this does not happen then money becomes more valuable (deflation) and prices fall.
On the other hand, if money supply is increased without a corresponding increase in real wealth (assets) then money becomes less valuable (inflation) and prices rise.
If assets that could be used to increase real wealth (assets) are underused (for instance, high unemployment) then an increase in money supply can be used to utilize these assets (example, WPA) to then increase real wealth to bring it into balance with the already increased money supply.
Government should exist on three levels: local, regional and world.
It should consist of three branches at each level:
To want life means that we want to obtain the physical necessities of life such as air, water, food, and shelter and protection from physical dangers from both our environment and from others of our species. It also means we have a compulsion to mate and pass our genes to future generations.
To want liberty means that we want freedom to do what we think is in our best interests to control our own destiny without being forced to do the will of others.
To want social approval means that we have a desire to be a part of a social structure of a group or groups of others of our species and we want to rise as high as possible in the social structure hierarchy of our group.
Since we will live out our lives in an environment which is sometimes benign and sometimes hostile to our interests, our success in obtaining what we want from life will be determined by a combination of luck and our physical prowess and our intelligence and our personality and physical attractiveness which will determine our social skills. We will have to sometimes compete and sometimes cooperate with others to obtain our goals.
Although it is possible to live our lives either alone or with only our mate and our offspring, we are a social species and are thus more likely to live our lives in a social structure such as a small band or a neighborhood or even a virtual online community.
Thus arises politics, which is the means by which we leverage the power of the group to obtain, as much as possible, the goals most common in the group world view. Since the group is made up of individuals with different personalities and world views, the interests of the individuals and their views of the best means to obtain them will not always mesh perfectly. This means that persuasion and compromise will be essential.
In the history of the development of humans an event called the neolithic revolution occurred. This was the discovery of agriculture and it led to cities and the concept of property ownership and the end of the nomadic way of life. It also led to the invention of money and the notion that ownership of wealth in the form of property and money could be a gauge of social success.
The neolithic revolution led to a great increase in the size of social groups to the size of, first city-states, and then nations. These were groups which were too large for cooperation based on individual's personal knowledge of all others in the group and this led to large governing organizations for groups or what we now call governments. Rather than leadership being based on skills and knowledge and personality, governments were led by individuals who were more powerful in social relationships often based on ego and wealth and the raw exercise of physical power.
So governments came to be characterized by type of structure and by objectives. As far as type of structure, they can range from dictatorship by one man or a small group to an oligarchy to various degrees of democracy where all or a portion of the people governed participate to various degrees in choosing or running the government.
As far as the objectives of a government, these can range from almost complete control of the significant activities of each citizen to a government which exercises no control and provides no services except, perhaps, keeping the peace and defending borders.
Many, perhaps most people, feel that a government is best which includes as many of its citizens as possible in both choosing and participating in the government, although many would rather that only those people most in tune with their own world view participate in the government. Most people prefer that the objectives of government limit its power over the individual while at the same time providing all the services needed for the health, safety, welfare and infrastructure for business of its people. These two objectives are, of course, somewhat in conflict which leads to many differences of opinion as to how to govern best.
Most think that government regulation of the fine details of their daily life is not in the best interests of citizens but that protecting them from physical violence, fraud, corruption and other dangers to their life and welfare is a legitimate function of government. Carrying out these functions by government while still leaving each citizen as much choice as possible in living his life is desired.
The exercise of government power to enforce its legitimate laws is usually expressed in terms of physical force expressed as imprisonment, bodily harm, or enforced slavery called community service or as economic penalties such as fines or as limits on the future freedoms enjoyed by the offender such as removal of the right to vote or of other privileges afforded to law-abiding citizens.
Since governments tend to enforce the power of the majority over the lives of all including dissenting minorities, it is essential that, at least, the most basic rights of minorities be preserved. These basic rights are often included in an enumerated list sometimes called a bill of rights.
Certain fundamental principles of governing are supported by many. These include such principles as:
Laws written by governments generally prohibit or discourage certain activities by citizens and/or encourage or require other activities. Basically this means that they limit absolute freedom of the individual.
A well written law will explain why the law was written and its objectives. It will be specific and unambiguous in describing prohibited or required activities. It will specify the penalties or range of penalties incurred by those who disobey the law. It will, as much as possible, leave open other choices to those who might have trouble with the law's application. It should have an expiration date or a date for further review by government agencies to evaluate to what extent the law is achieving its objectives.
Change the emphasis of school to how to find information and evaluate it and integrate it into an existing framework of knowledge and philosophy and world view. Teachers should instill in students the value of learning the subject and help them to develop and flesh out their own interests and integrate those into a set of required standards. Teachers should be those who ignite an interest in learning the subject and then become guides and facilitators to the student's own interests and efforts.
Research skills and writing and other communication skills are essential once interest has been developed. Survey the field, formulate a question, research what is available, review and outline, write an answer to the formulated question.
When I want to go to spend the night with my friend, Roger, I tell my mom where I am going and then go get in the car. I tell it I want to go to Roger's house and it flies me there in about ten minutes. Sometimes it has to stop at a hydrogen depot to refill the tank but it usually does that on its return trip when it has no passengers. When I get ready to return home I summon the car on my smart implant and it soon picks me up.
For several years now my mother, Ann, has had her friend, Mary, and a couple of men, Jack and Charlie, living here with us. In our community that could change though because people often shuffle households with people who are living in one house deciding to go and live with someone else who wants to live with them. I remember when I was younger, just one guy, Jerry, lived with us. Jerry lives with Louise and her children about a mile from us now. Sometimes Mom goes to spend the night with Jerry and Louise and sometimes they spend the night here with us.
My mother's mother, my Grandmother, lives next door to us. My aunt, Sue, lives with her friends, John and Crystal, there with my grandmother. It seems that most houses around here are owned or rented by women although some men own houses. My grandmother says that since the world government has been instituted there have been no more wars among nations such as there were when she was young and since people have changed the culture to value caring and sharing and humility more than power and wealth there is now very little crime. Government programs provide medical care and the tax structure makes sure that everyone can afford food and housing. She says that the environment is now much cleaner and people are happier now. However, she says that when she was a girl there was a lot of ice and big white bears in Northern Canada and Alaska and there were big cities on the seacoasts and most oranges were grown in Florida and California not in Georgia and Alabama as they are now. She says that crews of men used to fight forest fires each dry summer. Of course now any forest fire is immediately detected by remote sensors and extingished by swarms of flying drones. She also says that when she was young the first moon landing took place. Now there is a colony on the Moon and one is being developed on Mars. Our world seems to me to be quite a change from the world she describes to me from years ago. I'm glad I'm living now rather than then. I have a number of friends both in my community and in my virtual world and we talk about these things sometimes. My virtual world is always available through my smart glasses and my Personal Body Computer implant and the smart wallpaper in my room.
My mother works in a local cooperative bank. Jack works in the cooperative grocery nearby and Charlie works in a cooperative food processing plant. My aunt Sue works with Charlie. Most businesses in our town are cooperatives owned by the workers and the customers. They are run under the principles of the Statement on the Co-operative Identity maintained by the International Co-operative Alliance
I go to school each day. My teacher doesn't really teach anything. He is a learning facilitator helping us with our studies when we have problems we can't seem to solve on our own. He makes sure we take the required classes on our computers. The classes are designed and taught by experts in the subject from around the world. We must pass the mastery test in each subject before going on to the next subject. Our teacher also guides us in choosing questions of interest to us which we then research and write web pages or make videos about. I don't always stay long at school because I can do a lot of my work at home. One day per week we have "lab" in which we do hands on work on the material we are learning. That can involve a field trip or work in an actual laboratory. I have chosen a career path in culinary arts so I have gotten an internship at the kitchen of a local restaurant where I work two afternoons per week. This counts also as part of my school work. After High School I will have two years at a technical school studying my chosen field. My friend, Roger, wants to get a four year degree in forest management, so he has an internship with the state department of forestry. He is now studying plant intelligence and communication as well as nanotechnology.
We go to Church on Wednesday night for games like poker, bingo, chess or others and on Sunday morning for an inspirational talk by a local person or by an outside guest speaker. Often these talks are more question and answer sessions or sometimes debates between several people with participation by the congregation. Orgies are held at the church every Saturday night. Mom and Mary and the guys almost always go. I have never wanted to go but Roger, who is a year older than me, goes and maybe I will too when I get older. Julie hasn't started going yet because she is young but many girls my age do.
When we want to buy a meal or groceries, we order it on our smart implant and a flying drone delivers it to our door about a half hour later. That is the way we get most stuff. We try to lay off high carb foods like pizza and sugars and to eat more fish and meats and insects and fruit and nuts and salads high in fiber. We try to keep reasonably clean by taking showers two or three times per week. Most families keep pets and do gardening. Many people spend most of their time in the nude at home and at church although they usually wear clothing at school and work. Due to advances in robotics the standard work week is down to 25 hours now and everyone tries to get at least 8 hours sleep every night and often we take afternoon naps. We try to limit our time watching screens other than at school or work to no more than 3 to 5 hours per day. This gives us more time for physical activity. There are usually recreational drugs available for use at home and church.
Last week was kind of exciting. There was an empty lot next door and a girl from another town decided that she was old enough to leave her mother's house so she and her boy friend and her family got together enough money to buy the lot and to hire a house printer. The printer's trucks came by and in about three days they had printed her a concrete house on the lot. Julie and I enjoyed watching the house being printed. She has moved in now and her boyfriend, Joe, lives there with her. I think she is pregnant. Most women don't have more than three children and many have none so that the overall world population is actually decreasing. Advances in genetics give parents a lot of control over the genes of the developing baby.
We get most of our energy now from solar and wind and water sources and some from natural gas. My grandmother said that energy used to come mostly from coal and oil and that caused a lot of environmental damage. Due to cheap energy most food is now very high quality food produced in AI controlled buildings, much by hydroponic plants and most of the meats we consume are produced by in vitro cloning of muscle tissue.
I do a lot of walking and swimming and playing softball with my friends and I run in the local church's field games held each week. When I was small the doctor found that I had a defect in my vision so I was given bionic eyes. For that reason I can see better than most people and see a lot of things in wavelengths others can't see. Many parts needed for humans are either made in factories like my eyes or grown and customized in biotics labs.
Once every six months I have to visit my government paid doctor. He checks my weight and my personal on body computer (PBC) reports to him my vital signs and blood tests and microbiome results so he can check for abnormalities in case I have picked up any pollutants from the environment. My PBC also does a complete scan of my genome periodically and analyses any variation from my last genome scan. Because my genome scan is on record in my personal cloud it will be possible to grow any body parts needed for me if I damage or break something. If my doctor finds a problem he discusses with me how to adjust my diet or my exercise schedule or my lifestyle such as my eating or sleeping habits to try to correct any abnormalities. The doctor also reports any environmental problems he finds to the Environmental Protection Agency. Between my regular visits to the doctor, my PBC alerts me if it detects any significant abnormalities in my body. Due to advances mostly in genetic modifications of humans and of disease organisms, people don't often get diseases and antibiotics are little used, although my grandmother tells me that was not always the case. She says people's life spans were 70 to 80 years and the oldest people were 110 to 120. Now life spans are about 110 and the oldest people are between 125 and 135.
There are churches all over the county. Each one serves maybe 15 to 50 households. The people in each household decide which church they want to join. Of course, some people decide not to join any but they miss out on a lot of fun activities that the rest of us enjoy.
Each church is limited to a maximum of 150 and a minimum of 20 members. Churches are based on the idea of sharing. All the members give to the church based on their income to provide food and shelter to whoever needs it including guests passing through. All members must share their possessions and sexual relations with other members in need, particularly women who are trying to get pregnant. Both the church and their families see that elderly and disabled people are kept safe and comfortable.
Each church governs itself independently. All the main issues are decided by popular vote of the members. A leader is elected every 6 months and he or she carries out the wishes of the congregation and takes care of the church property and schedules use of the church building and grounds and keeps the financial books which are open to all members. A church by a 2/3 vote can accept a new member or expel an existing member. If a church membership gets near the limit of 150 members, the church will split into two churches by building a new church nearby and some members will decide to become members of the new church while others will stay with the old church.
The church building includes the main meeting room and often two or three smaller meeting rooms, a kitchen and dining area for the congregation with a few unisex bathrooms and a few computers available to all in the dining area as well as a holodeck for virtual reality experiences, full immersion 3D and tactile and olfactory senses, including games and remote conferencing. It also includes several bedrooms with bathrooms and an office for the church leader.
Besides inspirational services, games and orgies, the church often sponsors cookouts, dances, picnics, travel tours, debates, math and spelling contests and other fun functions. Church members also often help each other with their studies because all kinds of subjects are available to study online and that is an activity enjoyed by all ages.
The community center in town has a wooded outdoor park with a small lake with rowboats and a kids playground and a swimming pool and tennis and volleyball courts and baseball field and golf course. It also has an auditorium, a game room, gym and basketball court, sauna, bowling alley, movie theater and a computer room. It has meeting rooms for club meetings like the Jolly Age Club, or the scouts or the drone flyers or the chess club. Every week there is a concert or a magic show or a square dance or something similar. It sponsors Little League. We all go there often.
My vision is based on the research I have done on the internet in the last five years. Everything in here is not my original idea but is based on the ideas and research and beliefs of others. The only thing that I claim is original to me is putting these ideas together in just this way. I would argue that everything in this paper is based on existing trends in our present world or ideas being pushed by other groups; ideas which seem to me to have a good chance of becoming reality within the next few years. I would therefore argue that such a world as I have described is possible, maybe probable, practical and workable.
see School - by Duane Bristow for Lovers of Learning. If you study all the links presented here and try to learn as much as possible from them and follow all of them I think you will have, in essence, taken a liberal arts graduate course for college graduates who want to learn more about the nature of the world they live in and who want to develop a plan for living life.
After the neolithic revolution, commerce and the use of money became widespread and people began economic interactions with a wide range of strangers rather than just with the people of their own families and villages and those nearby whom they knew well.
Several economic systems were tried over the years but the one that survived was capitalism and free enterprise including private ownership of property, the profit motive, and individual accumulation of capital. Because it was the main system to survive, many people feel that this is the best economic system. Maybe so; but it certainly is, not only imperfect, but leads to a number of inefficiencies and outcomes that are detrimental to a number of people.
Examples of these bad conditions either caused by or allowed by our economic system:
Probably the best alternative to capitalism is a system based on consumer and worker owned cooperatives.
As far as we can tell these were egalitarian societies in which the economic system was one of sharing providing for the physical, mental and social needs of all according to their needs and expecting contributions to society according to their abilities. In this world there was fear and suspicion of other species and other bands of humans which were unknown or very different than themselves and respect and caring for those of their band and maybe closely allied bands.
Leadership in these bands fell on those who were perceived to be stronger physically, smarter mentally, and/or with better social skills than others. If the perception then became that these leaders were abusing the power given them, the band had the power to replace them. Deviation from the norm, especially those deviations which might threaten the society, were punished by shunning, expulsion from the group or death depending on the perceived severity of the offense.
About 10 to 12 thousand years ago, with the discovery of agriculture, these nomandic bands settled down to living in one place with increasing populations leading to the development of villages, towns and eventually cities. This caused more anonymity due to larger populations.
Power, both economic and political, was then seized by small groups of those who were stronger, smarter and more ruthless and the weaker members of society became a class or classes of the unempowered. Power actually was held by the type of persons who would not have been tolerated in those earlier societies.
During this period of time, ending almost two thousand years ago, there were at least two societies, the Greeks and the Romans, who extended power to most of the whole group considered to be citizens, as opposed to unempowered non- citizens such as slaves and females, by means of a form of democracy in which power was determined by the will of the majority of the people at public meetings.
After that the, so called, dark ages descended on Europe in which power was believed to be given to Kings, nobles and religious leaders by a mythical higher power called God and people were taught that this was the natural order of things.
About five hundred to eight hundred years ago, a few began to question the prevailing beliefs and thus to question the divine right of Kings and the truth of religious beliefs. This enlightenment led in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to revolutions in America and France in which the ruling classes were overthrown and the ideal of democracy was instituted. Although slaves and women and non landowners were still excluded, other citizens were given the right to choose their leaders by popular elections. Generally the prevailing economic system was a capitalistic system of free enterprise.
Since then there have been a number of controversies and conflicts:
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the other founding fathers of the United States fought a war for independence from the English monarch and government. They based their revolution on the idea that any government was not legitimate which did not have the consent of the governed and they tried to establish a government in which the governed would have to give their consent on a periodic basis. This government also included the idea that there were fundamental rights of all which government could not violate. This was the "Bill of Rights" and an attempt to preserve certain rights for individuals and minorities which could not be pre-empted by rule of the majority. The Bill of Rights includes freedom for religion, speech, the press, and the right to assemble, associate with others and petition the government for a redress of grievances. It also protects the individual against unreasonable searches, seizures and warrants without probable cause and provides for due process of law before any person can be deprived of life, liberty or property.
During the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln the Civil War established that states could not secede from the Union and eliminated the institution of slavery and led to citizenship for former slaves.
Teddy Roosevelt was president of the United States early in the 20th century. Although a Republican, he was a progressive who believed that the world should be improved for future generations. He was active in conservation, especially in establishing national parks, and in breaking the powers of the ruling classes in favor of a "square deal" for labor.
Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States from 1913 to 1921, continued Roosevelt's progressive ideals and decided that women should be full citizens with the right to vote and, during his administration, an amendment to the U. S. Constitution was enacted giving women full voting rights.
Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson were progressive presidents who believed that governments should be used to create a better life for all and who tried to increase equality of power taking from the rich and giving to the poor. They were fairly successful in doing this from about 1933 until the Reagan administration in 1980.
During President Roosevelt's January 11, 1944 message to the Congress of the United States on the State of the Union, he said the following:
"It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people - whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth - is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.
This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights - among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.
As our nation has grown in size and stature, however - as our industrial economy expanded - these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.
We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. Necessitous men are not free men. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all - regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
Ronald Reagan was a conservative president who rolled back many of the reforms of the progressives and his administration was successful in transferring much economic and political power from the people back to the oligarchs. This rollback was pretty much continued in subsequent administrations, particularly in the second Bush administration. He and George W. Bush both increased government spending and lowered taxes increasing the national debt mostly in order to transfer more money to the rich. George W. Bush also started a war in Iraq, supported by the Congress due to a program of misinformation and fear conducted by the Bush Administration. The purpose of this war was to control the oil supply from Iraq and to use the guise of national security to transfer more money from the taxpayers to the rich.
In the progressive era, particularly from the 1940s to the 1970s, CEOs of major corporations generally felt that their duty was to do what was in the best interests of their workers, their customers, their shareholders and the general public. In the 1970s, 1980s and in subsequent decades that attitude changed to CEOs believing that their primary duty was to make profits for their shareholders and their officers and directors often at the expense of customers, workers and the general public. The idea was to transfer as much of the wealth of the nation as possible to the upper tiers of society. This effort has been largely successful. As a result much of the middle class has been destroyed. This was done, as much as anything, by the unempowerment of the worker union movement mostly done in the Reagan administration and by the gutting of regulations to protect consumers and workers and to regulate the financial sector and to protect the environment.
My argument is simply that we must change our culture from one of ego and greed to a culture of kindness and sharing which shames and ostracizes those who try to seize power and wealth thus demonstrating ego and greed.
The first argument is that we can't afford it. That argument may have been true in the past, but at this point our productivity due to enhanced technology has increased to the point that a relatively small number of workers working with advanced computers, robots and other modern technology can produce enough to support the masses provided that the fruits of their labor is not hogged by a ruling class of greedy egoists.
The second argument is that if people have a Guaranteed Basic Income they will have no incentive to work and thus will do nothing. First this assumes that we need them to work and second it assumes that it is human nature to be lazy. To be fair, this would apply to some. However, experiments around the world have shown that most people want to use their time on earth to be creative or productive or useful or esteemed or whatever and that generally most objective measurements of the health of a society improve with a Guaranteed Basic Income. As for the argument that we need everyone to work, just see the paragraph above.
We have now arrived at a condition where the people running our government are servants of the rich and powerful in society and are much more interested in keeping their wealth and power than in the welfare of the people. They are also basically dumber than what we need because the intelligent are too smart to get involved in that mess and the voters have been convinced to vote based on party and sound bites rather than on an intelligent discussion of the issues.
Proposed system for election of lawmakers
If I want to run for office as a legislator (lawmaker) then I must not, at present, be a legislator and I must then write essays in answer to up to 20 questions which are published by the board of elections and publish those essays on my campaign web site.
Next I must get the signatures of at least 5% of the people who would be eligible to vote for me on a petition asking the election board to allow me to run for the office.
Once the election board verifies my petition as valid they will allocate me a sum of public money to finance my political campaign.
During my political campaign I must limit my campaign statements to defending my positions on the issues and criticizing the positions of my opponents for the office.
The election board would be charged with developing, with public input, the issues questions to be put to the candidates, certifying the eligibility of the candidates, allocation of public money to finance campaigns and overseeing the campaign and election to be sure they are fairly conducted.
Here are a few example issues questions:
The UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as adopted by the United Nations includes the following:
Many people think that we should measure the success of our society economically. Robert F. Kennedy explained why we should use as a measure of the success of our society something other than the Gross National Product.
Robert F. Kennedy speech
University of Kansas, March 18, 1968
Even if we act to erase material poverty, there is another greater task, it is to confront the poverty of satisfaction - purpose and dignity - that afflicts us all.
Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product - if we judge the United States of America by that - that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.
It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.
It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.
It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.
And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.
If this is true here at home, so it is true elsewhere in the world.
We must get to a time when we do not consider any act a crime unless there is a victim who is damaged and a time when we let judges and juries do their jobs and sentence criminals based on the individual circumstances of the case rather than tying their hands with mandatory sentencing. We must also do away with privately owned prisons and their built in conflict of interest making it in the best financial interest of the rich to lock up as many citizens as possible for as long as possible, especially since the rich control the law makers.
Fortunately, at least in western societies, there seems to be a trend to get away from these foolish attitudes and accept the functions of the human body and the differences between the sexes as a normal part of life instead of a source of fear or embarrassment. Most of the punishment of women for being sexual beings and being different and thus inferior to men now seems confined to religions which, hopefully, with increased educational levels, will soon be a thing of the past.
In any case, these tendencies in our societies are quite obviously detrimental to us as a whole. It seems that most wars and violence are the results of ego and greed and fear and religion. It may be that if we can change our culture to remove these aspects of humanity, we may, in the process, reduce our tendencies to war and violence.
Humans are already well into becoming cyborgs thinking of themselves, not as individuals, but as the sum of their biological, social and technological components. Mankind is evolving into a social organism larger than the individual.
We tend to form strong social relationships which to a large extent sometimes subjugate the individual to the collective due to a strong desire of each to conform to the group mentality. This process is enhanced by the social media of the internet.
Our beliefs and our world view conform to the collective due to exposure to a common culture caused by the ubiquitous media.
We are becoming a combination of biological and technological beings with our attachment to personal technology and also with the addition of body jewelery and tats and painting and with medical implants and enhancements.
So we are becoming cybernetic organisms functioning as drones of the collective. That is the definition of the Borg.
Add to this the fact that the world we live in is becoming increasingly changed by us and our activities so that it becomes an extension of ourselves and we see our world, our bodies, our technology and our minds melding into the collective.
Before the advent of capitalism this situation would have meant that we would be able to provide the basic living requirements for all unconditionally. Many believe that capitalism requires that the fruits of our techology should go to those who own or developed this technology leaving no need and no place for everyone else. So the combination of success in developing technology along with a capitalist economic system may lead to poverty and starvation for most and vast wealth for the few.
Even in economic hard times, the United States already has an economy that produces the equivalent of over $190,000 for every family of four.
Suppose I were asked to write a speech introducing myself as a candidate for President of the United States. What would I say?
Here is a possibility:
"Today I would like to introduce myself as a candidate for President of the United States and to ask you to support my campaign and to vote for me.
The two most obvious questions are:
I would want to be President for a number of reasons. These include:
Why should you support me?
First you have a vote and there will be an election so you should consider the candidates and the issues and support somebody. It is in your own best interests to support that person who you think is most likely to help to change the world in ways which you think would be beneficial to you, your family, friends and offspring and to humanity as a whole.
Second, you can decide who you will support by considering which candidate seems most sincere and most intelligent and who has positions on the major issues of importance to the nation and to the world that most agree with your beliefs after you have carefully considered all the issues and their pros and cons.
Third, I think I can convince you, not that I am the perfect candidate, but probably the best one in the running as far as the criteria above.
The question is not do you fully agree with me, but do you agree with me more than with any other candidate whom you could support?
I would not run my campaign with any jingoistic slogans or by trying to scare you or by personally attacking the other candidates and I would urge you to consider the extent to which other candidates are doing these things when making your decision.
As President I would surround myself, as best I could, with the smartest people I could find and, with them, I would develop a list of the most important problems needing action and with a plan for a course of action on each of those; a course of action which would be most effective and most practical.
In the following days I will publish on my campaign website a list of what I and my staff now consider the top twenty issues along with a detailed essay as to why that issue is important and my approach to work on that issue.
I ask you to consider if you agree with me that these are important issues and if you agree with my approach to them.
I also ask you to insist that any other candidates publish their list of issues and approaches on their websites so that you can compare. If they will not do this then I ask you to question their motives and intelligence.
If they do this then I ask you to vote for whichever candidate seems to you to have the most well reasoned and sincere web site.
I am pretty confident that, if voters will do as I have suggested, then I will probably win the election but, more importantly, if they do this and I do not win the election then it is probable that the better candidate did win. "