Summary of my Beliefs

by Duane Bristow
March 2016

I have been researching the nature of Man and the Universe for about six or seven years now.

I have found a lot of different ideas and opinions.

Some of these seem to me philosophically to fit together or be more true than others.

Although I have no proof of these, the things below seem to me to be true:

The universe is one of a whole, endless, eternal and, perhaps, continuous.

I suspect that the world we know is either a simulation in some type of quantum computer or the all that is consists of many worlds or the world we perceive is a structure created by our consciousness.
One monk said, "The flag is moving." Another monk said, "The wind is moving." A third monk said, "Not the wind, not the flag, the mind is moving."

The laws of nature are discovered through observation, deduction and experimentation and they are expressed through the language of mathematics.

We have no right to assume that any physical laws exist, or if they have existed up to now, that they will continue to exist in a similar manner in the future. (Max Planck)
Also, we have no right to assume that any physical laws that exist now, existed in the same way in the past. (Duane Bristow)
This plus the relativity of time, space, and scale brings into serious question the "Big Bang" theory.

The universe is not deterministic but evolves or changes and those changes that are best fits to the existing universe persist while most do not.
There seems to be, at least, some randomness in these changes.
Therefore the form of what exists is influenced but not completely determined by the form of what has existed before.
The world is based on cycles and patterns and imperfections of change, perhaps, at base, on motion of a wave structure.
Plants and animals do not exist to feed man, but man evolved to eat plants and animals because he evolved in a world that contained plants and animals.

Perhaps the universe is matter and energy and also information about the arrangement and interaction of this matter and energy in time and space.


We seem to need three types of perspective.

First, perspective in space. We exist in a three dimensional matrix actually on a thin layer on the surface of a planet circling a sun in a galaxy either adrift in the universe or a part of a larger structure in space.

Second, perspective in time. We exist in what seems to us to be the now, an instance in a never ending stream of time extending what we perceive as back into the past and forward into the future and our lives only exist for a small segment of time in this stream.

Third, perspective in scale. We can sense other beings and things at our scale but we have found that there are many things which exist with us at scales too small for us to sense or at scales larger beyond our comprehension. For example, microbes, atoms, quarks, galaxy clusters, black holes and other things difficult for us to imagine.

Man and the world are neither as we commonly perceive them. The goal here is to vastly broaden our perception of "what is". We are a part of the universe no less than the trees and the flowers.
The human body is composed of cells of which about 90% are not human and it is controlled mostly by the subconscious including emotions, by the autonomic nervous system and by the human microbiome more than by the human conscious mind. Perhaps at the subconscious level consciousness is connected to the quantum universe in ways unknown to us.

The universe unfolds according to a set of simple rules.
Results of the unfolding of these rules cannot be predicted but must be experienced.

Being is not created from nothing but is the contrast created by limits on the all-pervading everything.


Who are we?

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 consciousness is the way in which the universe has become aware of itself.

To the extent that we appreciate and are aware of the rest of the universe around us, we fulfill our destiny.

Beyond the lives of our individual bodies, we want to preserve our specific DNA traits, our species, life on our planet and beyond that life in the universe.

We are aware that our physical bodies are limited in time, but how much more tragic would we feel our existence if we knew that we were the last of our race or our species or life on the earth or life in the universe.

We do not know that life such as us is the only way in which the universe is conscious. Perhaps Gaia is conscious or perhaps galaxy clusters are conscious or perhaps there is a type of consciousness at a quantum level.

But we feel that a universe without any consciousness to appreciate it would have no purpose and thus could not exist.

Death of the individual does not result in the death of the DNA if reproduction has occurred during life and death of the individual results in the same state of being as existed before birth.
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.

Man is a social animal and, as such, tends to thrive best as a member of and with the support of a social structure which exists to use the strengths of the strong to support the weak because the mind and the personality are of value more than physical, mental and economic strengths and skills.

The course of our lives is a result of somewhat random events over which we have little control. We are not watched over by angels or attacked by the forces of evil. We just are.

The purpose of life is to maximize happiness for oneself and for others. Life involves the daily facts of living, learning, loving, reproducing, socializing and coming to terms with the fact of one's own existence and the temporary nature of his life. The purpose of life is not to serve and/or worship gods or rulers or to dominate others or to amass vast quantities of material goods. To the extent one does these things, he has missed the point.


Social Relationships - Politics and economics:

The goal of our lives should be to increase complexity and happiness in the universe for ourselves and others.

We should question common beliefs about religion, patriotism, the work ethic, marriage and reproduction among others.

Religion seems to be the belief that man was created to be the center of a world ruled by a narcisstic, cruel, arrogant, demanding God. Religion's purpose seems to be to demand that everyone believe that the world is as God (the ruler) wants it to be and no one should question that, but should instead believe that this is an evil world filled with sinful people and we should not try to change that because we are promised a better world after we die if we will only love and obey this God as defined by the people chosen to be his representatives on earth.

Patriotism seems to be the belief that one should love and support their country and its rulers and its system of government and economics without question.

The work ethic is the idea that we are meant to spend our lives working for our superiors in order to enrich them with the hope that some of their prosperity will trickle down to us.

Maybe our traditional ideas about religion, patriotism and work are a vast con game meant to support the status quo and suppress informed dissent.

Maybe there is no God and man is not special in the world.

Maybe countries should be supported by their citizens only as long as they promote human happiness better than any other system they can find.

Maybe we should spend our lives learning and thinking and loving rather than working and fighting.

Maybe we all do not need to marry in the traditional sense but simply need to live in some type of intimate or less intimate relationship with others.

Maybe children are not the best thing for everyone but maybe a rewarding life can be lived without them.

Maybe our natural world should be preserved rather than exploited.

Politics and economics should be based on kindness and sharing and empathy, not ego and greed.
With more equitable distribution of wealth, everyone could be assured of adequate shelter, food, medical care and education.

Humans live in a capricious world in which their very existence is a highly unlikely event.

Your body is an ecosystem; a community of living organisms. You are a community.

The biological evolution of genes has now been supplanted by the social evolution of memes.

The greatest threats to mankind are destruction of the environment and vast economic inequality.

Probably the best political system is democratic socialism with an economy based on consumer and worker owned cooperatives as well as small business capitalism with a guaranteed basic income.


Web Links:


Pictures:

Human Change

I wanted to answer the question: "How has the world changed from prehistoric times to the 1860s to 2016 and projected to sometime between 2025 and 2045 in terms of the place of the individual in society." Primarily we have developed group thinking with the result being that independent individual thought is suppressed in favor of assimulation into the collective and this is enforced by total information awareness. In an endless river of time, in the limitless immensity of space on a thin "goldilocks" envelope encasing an otherwise small non-descript planet orbiting a yellow sun, life has evolved from the formation of amino acids to naked DNA to single celled organisms to the coming cybernetic beings of the singularity.

Evolution

Biological organisms, once created, evolve to survive and reproduce.

Brains capable of neurological pattern forming and recognition of patterns in the world evolve.

Evolution of sexual reproduction leads to social relationships which, in turn, leads to evolution of cultural memes.

Development of brains capable of speech is the first step toward the world of today.

This leads to writing, math, and then mechanical printing followed by electronic information collection, storage, analysis and dissemination.

Group Think

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints, by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.

Once man evolved to the point of developing speech ability, information could be distributed only from one person to another orally. By the mid nineteenth century writing and printing were well developed and information was stored and disseminated by books and periodicals and newspapers. This meant that cultural memes could propagate more widely to people who were not and probably had never been in personal contact with each other and could also be passed down through time past the death of the individual creating such records. In the twentieth century inventions of various electronic means of communication such as photography, radio, television, computers and the internet meant that such propagation could not only be much more efficient, but also became, for all practical purposes, almost instantaneous.

This also meant that organization of society into social groups such as religions, clubs, companies, etc. was more widespread and no longer limited by geography.

During his lifetime a person's influence spreads like ripples in a pond spreading outward from the splash of a rock. The size and persistence of such ripples of influence was small in prehistoric times but became progressively greater with more efficient technologies of transportation and communication.

The fictional Borg of the Star Trek TV series were a pseudo-species of cybernetic beings, or cyborgs. No single individual truly existed within the Borg Collective (with the possible sole exception of the Borg Queen), as all Borg were linked into a hive mind. The Borg were cybernetic organisms functioning as drones of the collective. The Borg message was "Assimulation is inevitable. You will be assimulated. Resistance is futile. "

In a pre neolithic tribe people functioned as parts of a relatively small group and their life emphasis was mainly on survival and reproduction both as individuals and for the tribe.

In the mid nineteenth century, especially in North America, there were more rugged individuals who lived alone or with a family or in small groups in exploring new lands and the rugged individual who fended for himself or his family was a feature of society and independent action and thought was prized.

By the twentieth century organized religion was widespread, society had developed the idea of celebrity, commercial sports, and consumerism. All these led to pressures on the individual to conform to his social group's thinking in his beliefs and in how he led his personal life. In other words he was more likely to be interested in sports, celebrities, religious and other groups and to have the same priorities in his life as the others in his group.

Also media, primarily television, became ubiquitous and the people seen on TV shows and news casts became the role models for how people should act and what they should believe. This led to less individual thought and more conformity.

In the early 21st century the internet developed what became known as "social media" which meant that people could now spend even more of their life propagating social memes and conforming to even larger groups. People became more dependent on technology and began to even have technology implants and modifications to their bodies.

These trends together began to resemble transformation of people into Borg like beings subject to group think and dependent on technology. Technology and conventional and social media became extensions of their lives and their bodies. To keep people addicted, media makes everything that happens into an exciting sport by using sports metaphors and reporting scores.

In the 2016 presidential primaries, since Hillary Clinton was getting many more delegates than Bernie Sanders as most delegates were awarded proportionately to votes, the media made the contest about number of states won rather than delegate counts. This made the Sanders campaign seem more competitive to increase public interest in the coverage of the race by the media. Analysis of the 2012 Presidential campaign made a victory by Obama almost certain. However, the news media portrayed the race as close which had the effect of fooling many Republicans into believing that they could win. As a result there was widespread shock when they lost. Listen to media news reports noting sports metaphors and the amount of hyperbole generated by raised voices and liberal use of adjectives calculated to increase interest in a story which otherwise might be very boring. A prime example of this was the use of "body counts" encouraged by the military and swallowed whole by the media as a way of scoring the Vietnam War. This led the public to be very disillusioned because, due to the scoring they were given the war should have been won easily, but it went on for years and was finally lost by the American side.

Total Information Awareness

Total Information Awareness (TIA) was a program of the US Information Awareness Office. It was operated from February until May 2003, before being renamed as the Terrorism Information Awareness Program

Based on the concept of predictive policing, TIA aimed to gather detailed information about individuals in order to anticipate and prevent crimes before they are committed. As part of efforts to win the War on Terror, the program searched for all sorts of personal information in the hunt for terrorists around the globe. According to Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), TIA was the "biggest surveillance program in the history of the United States".

The program was suspended in late 2003 by the United States Congress after media reports criticized the government for attempting to establish "Total Information Awareness" over all citizens.

Although the program was formally suspended, its data mining software was later adopted by other government agencies, with only superficial changes being made. According to a 2012 New York Times article, the legacy of Total Information Awareness is "quietly thriving" at the National Security Agency (NSA).

On 24 January 2003, the United States Senate voted to limit the TIA program by restricting its ability to gather information from electronic mails and the commercial databases of health, financial and travel companies. Several months later, with increasing public outrage, Congress agreed to terminate the program and cease its funding.

In May 2003, Total Information Awareness was renamed as Terrorist Information Awareness.

TIA would be, as they say, defunded from the defense budget. But all the money for it would be moved over to the classified side of the budget—the black budget as it’s often called. And it was disbanded in name, and all of the various components of the research program were separated, were given new cover names, and almost all of them were then shifted over to the management control of the National Security Agency, Which unbeknownst to almost everyone in America at the time, had been running its own Total Information Awareness program.

As a "virtual, centralized, grand database”, the scope of surveillance includes, among others, credit card purchases, magazine subscriptions, web browsing histories, academic grades, bank deposits, passport applications, driver's licenses, toll records, judicial records, divorce records, etc.

Health information collected by TIA include drug prescriptions, medical records, and individual DNA.

TIA morphed into the PRISM program— in which the NSA is able to collect and then search Americans’ internet data

Now, in the uproar over PRISM, there has been a tendency to focus on privacy concerns: Is the government reading my Facebook messages? But I think that’s a mistake. Because, quite frankly, no one really has privacy anymore to begin with. Most of us have willingly handed all of our information over to Google.

No, the real problem is the secrecy. The problem is that we didn’t know about this. We didn’t sign off on it. Because secrecy acts to insulate the government from the most basic kind of democratic accountability

As a part of our assimulation into the Borg, we not only accept the idea of TIA but willingly put our personal information into the cloud by use of the internet and social media. Besides this widespread surveillance, cameras, rfid chips, and use of smart appliances including forms of personal computers mean that total information on individuals can now be collected and stored by companies and governments. This can include biometric ID systems, linking birth registry, DNA, land title registry, financial services, education history, medical history and much other information such as location, pictures and videos, sounds, thoughts in terms of internet browsing and search history, personal data stored in the cloud or even on your own personal computer.

Computer programs to mine such "Big Data" repositories are becoming ever more sophisticated and this data analysis can make possible reports which could not have been imagined in the past.

In very early times a person could go through his entire life unknown to anyone except his family and close neighbors. In the nineteenth century it would be necessary for a private detective to do a lot of shoe work to gather information on an individual by physically visiting government agencies and people who knew the subject. Now cyber sleuths can find immensely more information by electronic means simply sitting in their office working a computer. I expect that within 20 or 30 years or less complete databases on everyone will be available in one web stop.

Now data is collected, not only by the NSA, but by companies such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and many others. It is stored in the NSA's Utah Data Center and in Google's and other companies' arrays of storage computers. Soon it is expected that all these databases will be linked for analysis.

At that point it will be possible for someone to ask questions such as, "give me a list of everyone who was within 200 feet of Grandma's Coffee Shop in Yuma on March 20, 2020 between 9 and 10 am and tell me what they were doing, list any purchases they made, any communication between them and any others; identify the others and show photos and videos from all cameras in that area at that time." Or to request that information for anyone near an individual person for a given period of time. Or to show a network of people connected by their communications data and to show the strength of those connections based on the number and length of times they communicated.

The Singularity

The technology invented by humans and the discoveries about the nature of their world have increased exponentially throughout history with astounding progress during the last fifty years. We now have the personal computer and the internet and all kinds of associated smart devices and programs and capabilities, 3D printers, drones, and self-driving cars. We have mapped the human genome and genomes of other species and made human organ transplants and replacement of body parts with manufactured substitutes fairly common. We now understand much more about life processes at the cellular level. Much of our work is now done by robots with less need for human labor.

Artificial intelligence work increases by leaps and bounds with speech recognition and facial recognition as well as the Alpha Go program proven by Google to be able to learn on its own and to beat the World's best Go players by its learned behavior rather than by "brute force" algorithms.

Other significant developments include increased use of solar and other clean energy technologies reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, increased understanding of the human genome and genetic modifications of other species, especially those used for human food, proteins and other foods produced in factories rather than from animals raised on farms, and automated full body medical monitoring and diagnosis, perhaps from implanted chips.

Our extended bodies with artificial implants and associated electronics and robots may be leading to a change in the nature of our species which we are unable to imagine and this may very well occur in the next 30 years or so. It will probably be our new type of descendents who will finally begin to conquer space.

Of course, as in all evolution, these new beings, Homo evolutis, will, at first, exist alongside those of us older or less advanced to eventually be the only ones left as the less capable Homo sapiens die off.

Humans will most likely experience gradual conversion as portions of their brain are augmented with neural implants, increasing their proportion of non- biological intelligence slowly over time.

The technological singularity is a hypothetical event in which artificial general intelligence (constituting, for example, intelligent computers, computer networks, or robots) would be capable of recursive self-improvement (progressively redesigning itself), or of autonomously building ever smarter and more powerful machines than itself, up to the point of a runaway effect—an intelligence explosion that yields an intelligence surpassing all current human control or understanding. Because the capabilities of such a superintelligence may be impossible for a human to comprehend, the technological singularity is the point beyond which events may become unpredictable or even unfathomable to human intelligence.

References:

The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster - 1909

Brave New World and Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley

1984 by George Orwell

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

"The God's Eye View." by Barry Eisler

The Circle - A book about privacy by Dave Eggers

Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War by James Risen

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald

When Google Met WikiLeaks by Julian Assange

Lords of Secrecy: The National Security Elite and America's Stealth Warfare by Scott Horton

Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance by Julia Angwin

Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World by Bruce Schneier

The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
Daniel Ellsberg (Actor), Patricia Ellsberg (Actor), Judith Ehrlich (Director), Format: DVD

Wikipedia - The Singularity is Near

The Prism Program includes Total Information Awareness

Windows 10 - spying by Microsoft.

AlphaGo

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