Friday, August 7, 2015

NATURE NEEDS PEOPLE

I like this conservation video .. but they needed a script consultant.  If you have not seen it already, you can see the video I discuss at the end of this post. Julia Roberts plays Mother Nature, not a bad choice.


We may think of natural destruction as evolution too. But contrary to the video argument, Nature does not falter, "She" commits no error, makes no mistake. These are human ideas.
And here is the important point: We too are Nature, we create and we destroy.
For millennium we have created new diversity in species. Today we certainly have the technology to create new species. Tomorrow we may yet develop the technology to terraform nearby planets. And we may do unimaginably more of permanent consequence.
But we have not yet become these gods and the Earth is fragile. There is cause for concern.
The potential destruction of all life on our planet must produce the existential crisis in each of us. For then all human endeavor would have been pointless. The child raised well, even your own moments of happiness, that memorable smile, the giggle of our sons and daughters, all acts of intelligence, could carry no meaning, for its consequence, the now that was once so precious, is gone, lost and meaningless.
Contrary to the script of the video, Nature is not "prepared" to evolve. Nature evolves blindly and productively only under the right circumstances. It may not create those circumstances.
A continuing planet Earth unable to sustain human life now seems as likely as one that continues and in which we and our children can thrive.  We need to live longer, to become wiser, and we need to leave the planet in order to expand.  To bring life to this vast place, the universe.
It is the sustainability of human life upon which this video is intended to cast doubt.  Nature is neither good nor bad but we are a part of it.  I like to believe that we are a constructive part of nature, able to take life beyond the natural constraints of Darwinian evolution. Nature changes and productive evolution may occur only within that change. We face change now.
As far as we know, Nature has no intent beyond that which life embodies here. We ARE nature's intension. We need to wake up and to see our own potential significance in this regard. Nature needs us to bring intension, and its sibling intelligence, to the larger world, so that intension and intelligence may yet play a role in the universe. Because they play no role that we know of now.
The truth is that Nature was here much longer than "more than 4.5 Billion years."  A period mentioned in the video and intended, I assume, to refer only to the lifetime of the planet Earth. Popular science says the number is 13.7 Billion years, but many of us think that Nature is older still, that in fact, "she" is eternal.
But if the end game for our species is death then what is the point of that?  All that we have discovered, all of our science, all our culture and art, every conversation, every glance across a room, is for nothing.
We have a responsibility. We must rise to nature's challenge, to grasp the greater goal. Nature needs us as much as we need nature, for we are nature too.  We owe it to ourselves and to our children to think bigger.  Not just to survive but to do what life does ... grow.
And in this sense, while I understand the motives, I must challenge the Conservation International's anti-human mantra of Nature Doesn't Need People as misguided.
Nature Needs People ... because people are, necessarily, nature's intension.

Steven Ericsson-Zenith



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Favor The Wise


By virtue of assertive belligerence or fierce self righteousness the loud often dominate free expression and oppress the voice of the gentle, the compassionate and the wise.

In the lands where free expression is possible it is too frequently sacrificed by those who can buy, through favor or cash, privileged access.

In the so-called “free world” the ignorant parade their agendas at the expense of the wise in a frequently unchallenged appeal to convention and steam over the quiet wisdom and suffering of the hidden, the complex and the unpopular.

The “free press” cannot help but distort our perception and our thinking by mediating facts through personality, and “balanced reporting” is constrained by the availability of the articulate on each side.

Freedom of speech is not a balanced thing. There is no requirement that the playing field be leveled. The loud too have the right to be heard; as much right as the meek, the poor and the uneducated. The ignorant – or merely those without the education to appreciate their predicament - have as much right to be heard as the wise.

Today the cause of peace in the world demands that those of us with the ability to speak well must defend those less able. That those of us with the education to appreciate the predicament of others, speak on their behalf.

Yet it is the responsibility of each of us first to listen. In the vast noise there are quiet voices that need to be heard. They will uplift us. They will alert us to injustice. They will inspire and awaken us. They will warn us of the coming storm and they will lead us to discovery. They will humble us.

It is the responsibility of each of us to discern. To think for ourselves and draw our own conclusions. To dismiss the ignorant and favor the wise.

Steven Ericsson-Zenith, Favor the Wise, 2005.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Review: Explaining Experience In Nature

From 2004 thru 2010 I published almost everything that I wrote in my research online. This meant that you could see the development of my ideas and the progress I was, or was not, making.

In 2009, however, I became stuck. It was unclear to me how to move forward, especially in formal terms. And so in 2011 I took my materials off line.

In 2012 I focused back upon computation and the work of Alan Turing, spending much of the year traveling and celebrating Turing's life and work. In 2013 I had a breakthrough and became unstuck. Then in early 2014 I was diagnosed with Cancer and a minor stroke, requiring brain surgery, two weeks in ICU, and seven weeks of radiation and chemo therapy.

In November 2013, before my diagnosis and inspired by my wife, I presented the first chapter of a new book at Stanford University, intending to have it finished in the following months and to release it in early 2014. I knew at the time that my capacity was diminishing, I felt less bright and had to work harder to focus.

I am beginning to feel much better now, especially in my mind. I have physical challenges to over come but I am brighter and more focused. Fortunately, the stoke was minor and the bleed is now cleaned up. In the coming year I WILL publish this new book based upon the now decade of full-time basic research. This volume "On The Origin Of Experience" is both more narrowly focused and more comprehensive.

For historical reasons some of you may wish to read the work that led me here. Informally published online and evolved over many years, you can find this work in the internet archive on The Way Back Machine under the domain SENSES.INFO. Follow this link to find the four file version generated from my research tool, The Glass Bead Game, on July 16th, 2011; one hundred and forty pages, about 50,000 words.

You can navigate on ARCHIVE.ORG through the versions of my research in progress back to March 9th 2008.

In the months before IASE was officially incorporated as a non-profit I published IASE.INFO in November 2005, this was captured by the Internet Archive on December 17th, 2005.  In the following year we gained $60,000 from Microsoft but over the years I survived primarily by reducing costs.

You can forward through the evolution of IASE in the Archive. I am happy with some of what this reveals but discontent that I was unable to make better progress in developing the organization and raising funds, especially hard during the economic crisis.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Cancer

Unknown to me at the time of my lectures at Stanford University, I had Cancer. I had been misdiagnosed with TMJ. I was diagnosed Stage IV a few months later with Cancer of the tongue, hence my use of a water bottle during my talks. During the diagnostic scans it was also discovered that I had a brain bleed (a minor stroke), but at the time suspected to be further Cancer, of the brain. In May 2014 I had brain surgery, performed expertly by Dr. Marco Lee, and no tumor was found (the bleed was superficial only). After almost two weeks in the ICU VMC trauma unit, there followed seven weeks of Radiation and Chemo Therapy as treatment for my Cancer.

The book discussed in my November lecture was placed on hold. This is a note simply to say that I am recovering well, although my power of speech is currently diminished. I have returned to my research with the refreshed vigor that comes of facing my mortality. I expect the book now by the end of this year (2015) probably to be published in early 2016 ... subject to my continuing recovery and good health. I apologize for the delay, the book is sure to be better as a result of this experience :-)

My thanks to Doctors and Nurses at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, the Sobrato Cancer Center and the Stanford Cancer Center who have helped me over the past year. In particular, Dr. Harlan Pinto of Stanford (ENT Oncology),  Dr. Kimberly Shepherd (ENT), Dr. Marco Lee (Neurology), Dr. Albert Lin (Chemo) and especially Dr. Nam Cho (Radio Therapy) and Lisa Liang (Nutrition) of VMC. A special call out to the many residents, nurses, and assistants that work with these doctors and all those doctors and nurses in the Stanford ER - only a few of whom the names I can recall.  I have been well cared for on every step of the journey and cannot say enough in praise.

Extra special thanks to my wife Debbie who has stood by me and stood in for me over the past year. As a sign of our appreciation she donated the Debbie's work "What Horses Dream Of" to VMC. You can see it at VMC Radio Therapy in the Sobrato Cancer Center.