Time to Get Your Life Back

A medically functioning body is just the door into Human Life

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Statue of Leonardo in Amboise

So far, so good – after thousands of years dramatic journey in Time, Homo sapiens, our only extant human species, has successfully arrived at the Anthropocene epoch.

At present, various options of new anthropogenic disasters like large-scale wars, mass destruction, pandemics, climate change, wrongly assessed outcome of human triggered processes in fields like Artificial Intelligence and Gene Editing and others are still on the table for us, humans, to make the “To Be or Not to Be” decisions.

But if we are civilizationally wise, we could survive even our innate deficiencies.

And the best is yet to come.

As for our biological existence, there is much ground to feel optimistic.

Technological advance has already accumulated enough potential to allow Peter Diamandis predict abundance.  Elon Musk mentions a formula to convert robots taking our jobs into Universal Basic Income resource. And we can read in AI100 Stanford Report that “Longer term, AI may be thought of as a radically different mechanism for wealth creation in which everyone should be entitled to a portion of the world’s AI-produced treasures. It is not too soon for social debate on how the economic fruits of AI technologies should be shared… The measure of success for AI applications is the value they create for human lives.”

But when the reality of Abundance and Basic Income comes, would you accept mere biological existence to be your bravest dream?

If you look at the great names of human civilization, such as Da Vinci, Newton, Darwin, Bell, Kelvin, Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Picasso, Kandinsky, Mozart, Wilde, Kant, to mention just very few, practically none of them worked eight hours per day to get the pay-check at the end of the week so that they could feed their families. Even Einstein, who in the most productive period of his life was employed at the Swiss Patent Office, in reality was inspired for his greatest discoveries by the afterhours hobby to discuss with friends the works of Henri Poincaré, Ernst Mach, David Hume and other philosophers. For various reasons those

Most successful representatives of humankind were not engaged in earning their everyday bread

for either someone else provided them their existential circumstances, or they simply neglected it and existed on the brink of physical survivability. And that condition seems to have unleashed the tremendous burst of inborn energy to accomplish the things they really loved to do, and to bring to our human civilization their unique fruits of human ingenuity and creativity.

The ultimate objectives of human life and the greatest achievements of human mind are of character by orders higher than what can be described in economic, technological or social terms. 

Curious to find out what spiritual treasures might be hiding beyond the dimensions of culture, science and art?

Get Your Life Back!

 

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All the Harmony of the Universe

in just one picture:

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“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” Albert Einstein

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The Industrial Revolutionaries and the Monkey Syndrome

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Since the first human species appeared some 200 000 years ago until the current Anthropocene age, Humankind successfully rode through the millennia on a strategy of group survival. On the way, Human Civilization emerged as the spiritual dimension of group survival strategy that unlocks capabilities of human beings to mutually defend their strategic self-interest through generating civilizational values.

All human history has been projecting onto two basic vectors: the technological advancement which all the time provides us with more efficient and more sophisticated tools to make the things we want, and the societal progression which records the changes we impose on our societal systems.

Humans never stopped improving their life through inventing, but there are periods of time when new technologies disrupt whole sectors of economy and format a new way of life: the Industrial Revolutions. Revolutions are made by people. They are called “revolutionaries”. And industrial revolutions are no exception.

Right now we are amidst the whirlpool of the most exciting one – the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Artificial Intelligence already shatters the foundations of our good old Temple of Philosophy where we have indulged for centuries in the serenity of discussing problems that never had any practical significance; Synthetic Biology and Genomics invaded the very texture of the biological framework of our own lives, and we even started to recklessly mix different self-evolving pieces of living matter with no clear idea about what type of uncontrollable monster could be waiting for us at the end of chain;  and Robotics that were forecasted by the recent Mackenzie report  are marching into the factories  – to take half of our jobs in the next 17 years.

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And this is only the beginning of a new age unfolding.

The billions of people living today on our planet might not understand the details of how exactly deep neural networks work, or how self-driving cars solve traffic circumstances. But human nature has preserved one primitive ability: to feel directly through the skin when imminent danger, no matter how vague, is intensely coming out somewhere very close. And the fact that we do not precisely understand the character of that danger invigorates our feeling of fear and sharpens our preparedness to react.

Humanity is about human prosperity, and human dignity is an imperative value that has to be defended to the last line of fire. Human dignity has three basic existential pillars: life, income and status. The Fourth Industrial Revolution has already put them all under attack. Life and security – because in the final end every invention gets applied into weapons build by humans to kill humans. Losing jobs and wage stagnation as a result of automation means not only loss of income: it is also loss of social status and shutting the prospects that were throwing light on the paths leading to your dreams – yours and that of your family.  And when people feel that all three basic pillars of their life are threatened, their behavior can become very unpredictable.

Those existential processes might be present within the motivation of the people who massively voted for Brexit.  And maybe Donald Trump was supported in the election by a silent but very powerful undercurrent of millions of people who feel being left behind and who anticipate that the foundations of their lives are starting to melt away. Shocked by the reality that, contrary to the general presumption of a permanently advancing human society, their life is going to be worse and poorer than the life of their parents, they are getting desperate to the extent to embrace the unpredictable candidate.  And a definitely more serious issue of concern is the analysis of a number of experts who associate radicalization of young people with the absence of visible prospects for a human life that would be normal in the sense of what we considered normal human life just a decade ago. What behavior can we expect next from people who consider themselves disenfranchised?

No matter how thick the walls can be, in the current intensively interconnected world there was no way for the wealthier part of the inequality graph to remain undisturbed by the tectonic movement of social and political strata. Some of them may have lost the comfort of the highly predictable world they were used to inhabit. In initial symptoms of panic they mobilized media resources to attack an elected politician. That was basically wrong, because the reality is that in a democratic system you cannot attack an elected politician, you can only attack those, who supported him. And you cannot have convincing enough arguments against their reasons to do so. This year, even the participants of the traditionally glamorous Davos gathering seemed to not have been prepared for more than quietly uttering the mantras of a liberal order that is fading away. At times they looked like a crowd standing on the seashore and waving farewell to the beautiful departing ship, pretending not to know that this ship will never come back again. A crowd with no clear idea about how the new big ship will be designed and what it would look like. Or is it going to be a ship at all. Yet.

The paradox of this particular moment in history is that the depressive moments of gloom and despair are spreading after it became crystal clear that the exponential technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are in reality bringing unlimited potential for abundance. Renowned futurists and experts, including Peter Diamandis, have no doubt that “Abundance is our Future”.

Leading MIT economist Andrew MacAfee recently stated in an interview:

“We are creating an overall more prosperous world. The pressing question is: How do we share that prosperity?”

The above pressing question is not for the technological club. The members of the technological club have done a great job: For just only 250 years since the First Industrial Revolution, the industrial revolutionaries have elevated our human civilization to the stage where abundance is technically available!

The above pressing question is to the political club. It is the policy makers who have to respond to the new trends determined by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and to design adequate policies that will protect basic human values and human dignity, and will defend the strategic interests of human civilization.

And why isn’t that happening?

The Monkey Syndrome 

“Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result, all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth.

Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

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After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana. Why not? Because as far as they know that’s the way it’s always been done around here.”

Politically, we are still using the societal technology of the monkeys that emerged some 60 million years ago. Including the Monkey Syndrome which keeps reproducing absurd social patterns, and tribal thinking that enables violent conflicts, inequality, and disregard for human dignity.  And just like the monkeys – all the time this drama goes on without anyone having any idea why.

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So, what takes our policy makers so long to start walking their mile forward in the societal vector?

And, if the industrial revolutionaries are now having their brightest moment of glory, where are now the civilizational revolutionaries to close the gap on the road of our advancing Humankind?

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Civilizational Thinking Speech of the Year

In 2016, no vision got closer to the core problems of Humankind:

Remarks by Joe Biden, Vice President of the United States, at Davos 2016

“The sense of Possibilities: The Soul of our common Humanity that no Machine can Replace.”

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Would Your Next President be Artificial Intelligence?

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Artificial Intelligence and the Ultimate Democracy: No Politicians. No Corruption. No Elections.

We live in a society, and very naturally, in the process of division of labor, we empower politicians to take care of our common interests. As stipulated in the Declaration of Independence, “…— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, …” What we call government is usually politicians elected in top decision making positions like president, ministers or secretaries or in parliament, Congress and other important institutions. And politics is about government projecting the aggregated individual interests of us all – the millions of voting taxpayers, into corresponding adequate policies, and implementing those policies by spending our – the taxpayers’ money accumulated in the budget (treasury) of the country.

That explains why it’s not only our right to closely follow how the government spends our money: it’s our obligation, stemming from the self-respect in regard to the things that are important to us, and from the public interest to keep the democratic machine moving smoothly to where the majority of us wants our nation to go.

In reality, however, politics function in a very different manner.

Both Presidential and Congressional elections have consequences on your immediate socioeconomic, ecological, security, etc. environment. Naturally, you want to vote for the candidate whose positions on key issues during the campaign are closest to your interests.

The fight for the ballot papers, however, logically turns the election campaign into clash between the PR units of the contending parties that provide the voters with no reliable ground to calculate the future political behavior of a President, or member of the Congress. Because, once elected, the new president starts following a different agenda: one that is formed by the real-time political priorities and that is influenced by the top donors of her/his campaigning. Big political money could distort decisions and favour the interests of small groups at the expense of larger communities of citizens. The result: “Political scientists have been studying the question of campaign promises for almost 50 years, and the results … suggest that presidents make at least a “good faith” effort to keep an average of about two-thirds of their campaign promises;”

But politics is not mathematics, and only if you are politically lucky, the campaign promises that made you vote for that particular politician might prevailingly fall into the “fulfilled” promises. Otherwise, you will well understand another set of statistics: Confidence in institutions, where currently trust in the Congress is about six percent.

Each condition has alternative solutions, and the wisdom of the forefathers should never be underestimated: “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

So, let’s consider a totally different method of Government taking care of our interests:

Elect Policies, not Politicians

The current Political System:

At certain point of the presidential race, based on your individual circumstances, condition and interests, you have decided that your personal top ten key issues that will determine for whom of the five candidates A, B, C, D and E, you will vote, are as follows:

Should Any Public Colleges or Universities Be Tuition-Free?

Should US Election Campaigns Be Publicly Financed?

Should Fracking Be Allowed?

Should Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legal?

Should the National Security Agency (NSA) Continue to Collect Phone and Email Metadata on US Citizens?

Should the United States Transition Away from Fossil Fuels and Towards Renewable Energy?

Should Genetically Modified (GMO) Foods Have Mandatory Labeling?

Should the US Return to the Gold Standard in Which Coin and Currency Are Backed by Gold?

Should the Death Penalty Be Allowed?

Should There Be a Flat Tax on Income?

In the following table the five candidates’ positions on the above issues are marked “Yes” when you support, “No” when you are against, and “?” when the candidate has no clear position on that issue, with last raw calculated as “Yes” points minus “No” points:

  Your Individual Key Issues A B C D E
1 Should Any Public Colleges or Universities Be Tuition-Free? No Yes ? Yes Yes
2 Should US Election Campaigns Be Publicly Financed? ? Yes Yes Yes ?
3 Should Fracking Be Allowed? Yes Yes ? Yes ?
4 Should Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legal? ? No Yes ? No
5 Should the National Security Agency (NSA) Continue to Collect Phone and Email Metadata on US Citizens? Yes Yes ? Yes No
6 Should the United States Transition Away from Fossil Fuels and Towards Renewable Energy? No Yes Yes No Yes
7 Should Genetically Modified (GMO) Foods Have Mandatory Labelling? Yes Yes No Yes Yes
8 Should the Death Penalty Be Allowed? ? Yes Yes No Yes
9 Should There Be a Flat Tax on Income? No Yes No Yes Yes
10 Should the US Return to the Gold Standard in Which Coin and Currency Are Backed by Gold? No ? Yes Yes No
-1 7 3 5 2

None of the above five candidates fits all your priorities, but you still have a clear favourite: you would vote for candidate B. In the course of the campaign, however, B and C drop out of the race, and you vote in the election for the best that is still available – D. That lowers your potential joy of eventual victory from 7 to the 5 points promised by D.

The Artificial Intelligence Political System

Functions as a sophisticated interplay of several AI modules:

AI Module 1: Letters to Santa Claus

In the above table, no one of the running candidates is your ideal candidate. But you should not worry about that – design your personal ideal President yourself: take a pen, and put down everything that you think the government could do to make you happy. It could be something like a demanding letter to Santa Claus, but you shouldn’t be modest: Pursuit of Happiness is Your Unalienable Right, and it is your government that has to take care of it.

When all the millions of your fellow citizens submit their letters to Santa Claus into a national data base, AI will analyze all of them, sort in categories such as Economy & Taxes, Education, Crime & Justice, Labor & Wages,  Health Care, Abortion, & End of Life Issues, etc. Functioning as a direct democracy procedure, this AI module will automatically constitute a new category in case certain new type of request exceeds, for example, 300 000 entries.

The final product of AI Module 1 would be a list of few hundred Key Political Issues on which the public interest is strongly focused, with the number of voters Pro, Con or Neutral on each Key Political issue. And that already provides a clear-cut guidance for the Government what policy to follow on that particular issue.

What AI does in this module is analyzing the millions of ideal “presidents” as described by each one of the voters, extracting their expressed preferences on each major political issue, quantifying the public support or rejection on each policy, and, in fact, aggregating the results into a comprehensive political program that will represent the “ideal President” at the point of time.

AI Module 2: Foreign Policy, National Security, Defence, and response to changes in the outer political environment

You don’t have to understand everything in the above areas. But the high professionals in the corresponding government Departments must be a zero-compromise edge. In the capacity of experts, not as politicians. Debatable only within qualified expertise community, and with limited transparency.

AI module 3: Designing economic policy for growth that maximizes the tax revenue in long-term dimensions.

AI module 4: Determining priorities of the whole system, e.g. capabilities of AI Module 2, favouring key factors such as science and technology advance, etc.

AI module 5: Dynamic optimization of overall correlated processes within the whole system.

The Artificial Intelligence Political System would have many advantages. In our current reality, for example, all politicians who run for President always promise to be the President for the whole nation. But human nature has never excelled at being impartial, and that is only one of the reasons why the results of any political election have always divided the society into two, at times very close in numbers, very distinct groups – the “winners “and the “losers”. With a transparent Artificial Intelligence procedure there will be no winners and no losers in a continuous process of optimizing resources – results ratio that is not disrupted by political elections.

With the relevant data fully transparent and published, all government policies would enjoy massive public understanding, support and trust. In such circumstances if you are not satisfied with a particular government decision, you cannot blame the bureaucrats. Your only choice would be to accept the reality that you do not belong to the majority opinions of your fellow citizens.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what is the name or the background of your President. It doesn’t matter what is his or her political party. It doesn’t matter even if they came to power through an uncontested democratic process, or on a military plane, or designed in an AI laboratory. The only thing that matters for political power is that they have the unbreakable determination and the edge capabilities to defend Your singular interest, as related to the interests of all community members.

And from all we know from politics in our history, no human would ever be in position to do the job better than an Artificial Intelligence assisted President.

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The Concept of Civilizational Values

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“The Starry Night”, Vincent van Gogh, 1889

If Nobel Prize winner Albert Szent-Gyorgyi was precise in defining brain as “… another organ of survival, like fangs, or claws” that “does not search for truth, but for advantage, and … tries to make us accept as truth what only self-interest is allowing our thoughts to be dominated by our desires”, then its decisions on where do we go and what we do, determine the interplay of both existentialist and behavioral sides of our existence through a very simple command: Chase Values!

Some values that are important to us, we have for free from Nature. Most of our dearest things, however are related to or made by people.

Civilizational Value is a physical or non-material product of human activity that has the capacity by itself, or aggregated with other civilizational or natural values, to be recognized by other humans as a potential source to accomplish one or more self-interest components. In economic terms, an entity incorporating civilizational and natural values, can appear on the market in the form of goods or service.

As an example, let’s follow 15 minutes of your routine morning: your croissant for breakfast incorporates pieces of civilizational values such as farmers cultivating land, harvest of crops, mill, transportation, baking, etc; in a similar way – through a chain of pieces of civilizational value, your coffee comes on your table. And while sipping your hot espresso, you check news and mail on your smart phone – with Van Gogh’s ”Starry Night” selected for the background picture. Did you know that the handset only is a product that incorporates several hundred pieces of civilizational values in the form of patents? The 4G telecommunications connectivity you need to reach internet servers with your smart phone, functions on another set of 80 000 active patents. And that does not include other many thousands of civilizational value pieces: such as already expired patents, or previous inventions and discoveries. You would definitely agree that your smart phone would not exist if William Gilbert had not discovered electricity in year 1600. While having breakfast, you are keeping an eye also on the TV – a different set of many more tens of thousands civilizational value pieces. You switch that off, and head to your car, that represents yet another set of tens of thousands civilizational value pieces. In reality, for those 15 minutes you might have consumed close to million pieces of civilizational value, each of them designed or manufactured by one or more human beings.

Just think about it: If we take for granted that Happiness is the momentary measure of self-interest, then one million people or teams of people, who lived in different centuries of human history, have worked hard to make you happy and feel comfortable in that 15 minutes of your routine morning! And very importantly – by your personal preferences and definitions of happiness and comfort!

No matter if a finalized civilizational value is a direct outcome of human activity, or was made by a robot that was made by a robotic plant that has been designed by humans, ultimately, humans only can be the source of any civilizational value. The greater the numbers of healthy and well educated people who enjoy high life standards and have successful careers, the higher the total output of civilizational values generated globally. And because civilizational values are what essentially has the capacity to serve our individual self-interest and make us happy, everything what we tend to categorize as “altruism” is, in reality, based on plain egoism.

Civilizational values cannot be measured by money. Otherwise, it would be impossible to explain why Van Gogh died penniless, after he painted more than 900 pictures with some of them, like your favourite ”Starry Night”, are worth each well over 100 million dollars? And how does that compare with John Smith, who made a few millions on the stock market: he has done for you what?

It all means one thing: Time has come to design the metrics that provide quantifiable assessment of civilizational values.

Today Big Data processing practically enables analysing the market information about who of us, (7.4 billions of people on the planet), likes what, and that will have two major cognitive (and not only) consequences:

First, Artificial Intelligence Deep Learning already is in position to peel off the layers of each complex product conglomerate of civilizational values and to reach the frequency and the multiplicated usage of every civilizational value piece ever generated in human history; then AI can measure, in exact figures – in CiVal units, the overall contribution of that particular piece of civilizational value to the advancement of human civiliztion.

And second: by composing a trustable algorithm to attach each piece of civilizational value, as indexed in the above method, to its creator – we can design, for the first time in human history, a precisely calculated quantitative assessment of how great minds of Humankind – both from history and our contemporaries, have contributed to the long-term wellbeing of our human race. Are you not curious to see the Civilizational Ratings of Leonardo da Vinci, Einstein, Mozart or Archimedes? Or that of Elon Musk?

That will change a range of attitudes and decision-making processes: from the way people sitting in the Nobel Prize Committee and institutions vote, to news media editors-in-chief deciding who to publish on the front page.

But most importantly, Civilizational Value Rating will change individual and public perception about not what, but who is really important to Your Life.

For, if we don’t hold in our hand the compass of humanity’s basic values, how can we live confident, that we are walking our singular mile of human civilization’s long way, in the right direction?

Posted in Artificial Intelligence, Brutal Logic, Humans | Tagged , | 2 Comments

“Every Man is a Universe” – Heinrich Heine

Why do we need transition from Tribal Thinking into Civilizational Thinking?

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In the whole process of evolution, human species never had a viable strategy of individual survival: we can’t run fast enough to escape a cheetah, or kill a mammoth for dinner in a one-on-one fight.

Humans became a success story and reached the current Anthropocene age, riding on an initial version of group survival strategy: the one enlightened by the torch of Tribal Thinking.

As a result, our 21st century world is intensely globalised and technologically highly advanced, but we are still a Humankind decomposed into tribes that seek dominance in the way they did thousands of years ago.

This reality has significant negative consequences on

The ultimate existential meaning of human civilization: securing the long term self-interest of each individual human being

For the following reasons:

  • The ubiquitous political culture of Tribal Thinking has over and over generated the greatest anthropogenic disasters in human history: wars and armed conflicts among various state and non-state actors have ended with tens of millions human lives lost and material culture worth tens of trillions USD destroyed;
  • Driven by fear of real confrontation, current world annual military expenditure soared to trillions of USD;
  • World economy suffers astronomical losses due to the current rigid rules that lock edge technologies exclusively for military and security purposes and does not allow their use in mass large-scale production;
  • The advance itself of human civilization is significantly slowed down by the fact that top IQ human brain potential of the world are employed in the non-productive areas related to defence and security;
  • And, most importantly, the real time cutting-edge military capabilities of the weapons deployed around the world have more than enough power to self-destroy Humankind.

Which means that by still operating in the Tribal Thinking version of group survival strategy, in civilizational terms, we have made further technological advance of human society not only obsolete, but also a threat to our very existence as human species on planet Earth.

All we need to solve this existential conundrum is a new version of group survival strategy: the Civilizational Thinking.

Civilizational Thinking is not about creating new ideology or new religion. Civilizational Thinking is only about re-organizing the global political space environment into a universal multifaceted platform, on which all polities in their ideological, political, national, cultural, ethnic, religious, racial, etc. diversity exist, interrelate and compete with each other without conflict – by following incontestable rules that are optimized to protect core values of human civilization.

More than 180 years ago, the Swiss have already made Switzerland a fully functioning prototype for Civilizational Thinking: a socio-political space where people of different ethnicity, different religion and culture, who speak different languages, live together without violence and enjoy a high standard of continuous prosperity.

There is no ground for expectations that some intelligent creatures from other planet will come make the crucial transition from Tribal Thinking into Civilizational Thinking for us. It is we, the humans currently living on planet Earth, who have to roll up sleeves.

We could start with an open source process that generates relevant ideas and induces the appropriate real politics.

Just like the policy making in ancient Greece cities, where free people gathered on public places called Agora to live discuss and decide together what is best for them and for their future.

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Artificial Intelligence and the “Who To Kill” Equation

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Inside a self-driving car

It is a very special excitement these days to watch history being made in the global Artificial Intelligence workshop with driverless buses starting test running in Finland’s capital Helsinki, world’s nineteen major car makers declaring their fully autonomous car will be hitting the roads by 2020, renowned AI experts discussing the benefits that AI self-driving cars will bring to traffic safety “How Self-Driving Cars Will Choose Between Life or Death” and the need of moral consideration about how AI-empowered machines behave.

The choice between “life or death” is not a difficult one to solve in terms of human morality. The more challenging moral dilemmas come in everyday life where we are not given that type of choice.

Let’s have a look at a hypothetical situation on the highway:

The car marked “A” in the drawing below is equipped with AI computer managed self-driving system. Suddenly, an accident occurs somewhere ahead of car “A”, and its computer driver immediately calculates that car “B” in front will sharply break and stop in two seconds.

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Within the two seconds interval of time the AI driver has to choose and execute one of the following options:

Option 1: Change nothing. In this case, provided the high speed, the following six people will be injured heavily, some of them maybe fatally: A1, A2, A3, B6, B7 and B8.

Option 2: Turn sharp right. As a result, another set of six people – A1, A4, A6, C5, C7, and C8 will get injured.

Option 3: Turn sharp left. This choice endangers passengers A2, A3, A5, E1, E2, and E4.

Option 4: Break sharp. That would make vulnerable those on seats A6, A6, A8, D1, D2, and D3.

The AI calculates that a collision is inevitable, and knows the identities of all the 24 potentially endangered passengers, among which there is a high school student, a renowned neurosurgeon in his thirties, a baseball star, a terminally ill senior woman, a senator, a young mother breastfeeding a baby, a marine going on a trip with his girlfriend, a successful businessman, a prisoner just released after heavy crime sentence, university professor, and some more; with the exact information who sits where.

How do we program the AI driver to process the above situation? Or, in moral terms, how do we, the humans, take the responsibility to teach the self-driving car computer how to solve a “Who To Kill Equation”?

Take your time (our brain is not that fast) and try to decide what your choice would be in the above situation. Study carefully the available information about each one of the 24 potentially endangered passengers: they all have their names, social status, profession, family, friends, dreams, etc. They all are still alive, but that is going to change in two seconds, because six of them do not have future.

Having somehow made your choice, ask your friend Alex to do the same exercise (Alex is a great baseball fan), or your colleague Jane, who would on the way discover, that the marine’s girlfriend is in fact her beloved niece! Or ask the local municipality for their opinion, or the Congress. Put it on Facebook, or organize a small referendum. I bet all the way you will be receiving different answers that are crucial for the 24 men, women and kids involved in the drama on the highway. And all the 24 have absolutely equal rights to stay alive in circumstances that make this impossible.

And there is an escapist fifth option: for controversial situations like this, in order to avoid moral responsibility, engineers can build into the self-driving program a “Russian roulette” – random decision to choose one of the above options. But then, in the same situation the split-second spontaneous reaction of a human driver might prove to be better.

The brutal reality is, that you can’t solve the “Who To Kill” Equation in terms that allow for the AI self-driving system to make that final, irrevocable and irreparable existential decision within two seconds, without providing the AI with the information about the human value of each of the 24 people potentially involved in the crash. 24 simple numbers is all the machine needs in order to do its job. But who will provide the 24 simple figures?

The idea itself to design methodology and the metrics that can assess the value of a living human being through a mathematical process based on weighing dynamic unquantifiable characteristics that exist and evolve in the irrational dimensions of human morality, would be a challenge beyond the scope of contemporary political philosophy. And that is exactly what makes the idea more attractive. Even if the discussions on this aspect of human morality will most probably start as a huge battlefield where philosophical, religious, anthropological, axiological, racial, legal and other concepts will clash in epic fights.

One direction for contemplation would be looking back into human history. As a result of a more or less spontaneous process, over the millennia people have imposed some sort of civilizational values matrix  that already has assessed the value of numerous human beings like Einstein, Van Gogh, Mozart, Da Vinci, Mother Theresa, Pushkin, Archimedes, Alexander Fleming, Alexander Bell, as well as thousands more bright minds that Humankind will always be proud of. For one only reason: in their lives these people have exercised titanic capacity to create civilizational values that hugely changed, in a positive way, the lives of millions of people on the planet for generations ahead. They all had extremely high quotient of capacity to create civilizational values – CCCVQ, and exactly that is what gave them the unique appreciation of the rest of the people.

Obviously, at this point of time we don’t seem prepared to solve the equation with the five cars on the highway.

Could we, then start with a more simple one, projected on a real case from 19 century France:

Evariste Galois, a mathematics prodigy, in his late teens made fundamental discoveries in the theory of polynomial equations that hadn’t been solved for centuries. He also was a passionate activist for the republican idea and against the king. Galois did not live long: on May 30, 1832, at the age of twenty, he was killed in a duel. There is no clear record even about the name of the man who killed Galois, but presumably it was a fair fight with rules kept and each of the two men had the right to defend their honour and kill the other.

If an AI system was to decide the outcome of that duel on May 30, 1832, what algorithm would you suggest for the computer to follow in order to have spared the life of Evariste Galois for the benefit of the generations to come?

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Evariste Galois

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Artificial Intelligence and the Temple of Truth or How to Benchmark Reliable Information in News Media?

The Decline of News Media Truth

Gutenberg_Printing_Press

Since around 1440, when German blacksmith Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, for more than five hundred years, news were printed on paper. The technology allows the black ink for the text to penetrate deep into the porous paper in hundreds of thousands of copies. Compared to contemporary high technology communicated digital media, that was a primitive manufacturing of newspapers. But it has one essential advantage:  because once printed, the text was inerasable, and because newspapers were supposed to be kept in public libraries forever, both news writers and editors prepared the contents with great care and responsibility and signed the articles with their real names. It was a generally observed practice in case something turned out to be wrong after the newspaper was distributed, a correction note garnished with sincere apologies would be published in its next issue.

Even during the ideological confrontation of the Cold War certain objectivity rules were kept. Like in the famous anecdote about a running competition between the American President and the Soviet leader that was won by the American: the next day Soviet newspapers informed their readers that in this historic sports event the Soviet leader won the silver, and the American president finished last but one.  A beautiful example of brutal misrepresentation of the real event, but with objective facts still kept intact.

Not anymore. Now there are no rules protecting the reliable information in news media. The disregard of truth in manipulative media in the last years soared to levels that allow some media stories to qualify for weapons of hybrid war. And in the same way in which abandoning the gold standard monetary system destabilized the substance of money, abandoning media truth standard degrades our trust in the news we watch every day and exposes us to aggressive digital mixtures of bright colored pieces of non-truth, images of basic level appeal, tailor-made sets of advertising entertainment and political manipulation.

The general reason is that our human society, which is still functioning in tribal mode, cannot adequately manage the consequences of its exponentially advancing technology.

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Why the Gap Between Worker Pay and Productivity Is So Problematic

The diverging trends of productivity and hourly compensation created and continue to create clusters of excess money in huge volumes. Most of it is reinvested in business and finance, or spent on luxury villas, yachts, cars and expensive hobbies, but a certain portion of the excess money is transformed into political money. And many of the owners of political money have the strange hobby of trying to influence the thinking of other people by violating their right of information.  The current state of affairs is a paradoxical example how technological advance in a world dominated by tribal thinking can contribute to the civilizational devolution of humanity.

In our deeply politicized world mass media has become an integral part of tribal clusters that are funded by political money. Following the agenda of the tribe represented, every nanosecond TV and radio stations, news media, interactive components of social media etc. discharge into the digital media space significantly distorted and aggressively conflicting images of reality. Normal people, who deserve to know the truth, informationally exist in a battlefield where powerful tribal propaganda machines are fighting each other. With all the consequences of humans degrading into civilizationally dysfunctional individuals with inadequate attitudes on fundamental issues essential to their own social existentiality. This grave civilizational problem is not remaining unnoticed by high profile figures of the journalistic and media circles, and the recent presentation “Truth and Reality in a Hyper-Connected World” by Katharine Viner, Editor-in-chief, Guardian News, is just one of the series.

The sad reality is that instead of providing the public with reliable information, contemporary news media evolved into highly efficient technological hybrids of two mythological creatures: the Sirens that attract us to come closer so that they can grab our hearts and hand us over to the Gorgons – to petrify our minds.

sirens

In Greek Mythology, Sirens are beautiful winged human like creatures who can hypnotize people with their songs. They were dangerous yet beautiful creatures, who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island.

Gorgon

Gorgons were a popular image in Greek mythology with powerful gaze that could turn one to stone.

Brewing Rogue Democracy

By failing to inform the public in a comprehensive, objective and unbiased way news media deprive citizens of access to reliable information and severely affect their individual capacities as voters to make clear political decisions at elections. This is a violation of human rights that can paralyze the functioning of human civilization’s most inherent achievement – democracy. If public has no guaranteed access to reliable comprehensive information we risk to enter new type of dark ages – rogue democracy. And this would be a major setback for humankind in transition from tribal into civilizational thinking.

People being diverse is the greatest treasure of human civilization. With each and everyone of us having different biological and social circumstances, each and everyone of us is predetermined to have his own unique, firmly grounded and undeniably legitimate version of truth: “Scientific thinking means that if we are faced with a problem, we approach it without preconceived ideas and sentiments like fear, greed and hatred. We approach it with a cool head and collect data which we eventually try to fit together. This is all there is to it. It may sound simple and easy. What makes it difficult is the fact that our brain is not made to search for truth; it is but another organ of survival, like fangs, or claws. So the brain does not search for truth, but for advantage, and it tries to make us accept as truth what only self-interest is allowing our thoughts to be dominated by our desires.” Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

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Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Nobel Prize winner 1937 (Physiology or Medicine)

But if we cannot trust one human brain about what is true, how can we trust numerous human brains in a like-minded group or common interest motivated tribe about what is true? And to add some passion to the tranquil theme of truth: we are very diverse also because we love different things. As G. M. Chesterton noted, “You can’t love a thing without wanting to fight for it.” That completes the bigger picture about the primary problem of a humanity in transition from tribal thinking into civilizational thinking: We know we are all different, we like the reality that we are all different, but we haven’t still designed the societal model where diverse people can live together without violence. We are yet to discover the Universal Future.

At this point of time we are left with no other choice but to admit:

Truth is just another issue of fundamental importance to human civilization that cannot be resolved by humans themselves because of the conflicting legitimate interests of the existing individuals and tribes which are composed of those same humans.

Thus formulated, the conundrum sounds irresolvable enough to stop us from trying further.

But we should still try one more path: Artificial Intelligence.

Recent breakthrough in two key sectors of information processing could change the rules of the game:

One is that the cohesion of big data processing with machine learning algorithms made possible for contemporary machine learning programs to follow in real time multiple sources and sort the data simultaneously; to analyze huge volumes of big data in dimensions that bring the degree of accuracy and of predicted extrapolations by orders higher than the levels at which decisions are being made now through our “classic” methods; through advanced machine learning to input seamlessly and in real time newly available data entries into the big data analytical process without disturbing the logical correlations.

The second factor is the exponential dynamics in which sources of primary information develop in both arsenal and precision. “Over the next decade, the market-driven explosion of surveillance sensors and data analytics will bring an unprecedented level of transparency to global affairs. Commercial satellites will capture daily images of the entire globe, offering inexpensive and automated reports on everything from crop yields to military activity. Journalists, NGOs, and bloggers will increasingly use crowdsourced data to uncover wartime atrocities and expose government hypocrisy. Private security companies will discover the sources of cyberattacks and data theft. Biometric systems will expose the identities of clandestine operatives, and government agencies will struggle to contain leakers and whistleblowers.” – writes Sean P. Larkin in “The Age of Transparency – International Relations Without Secrets”.

If international relations, one of the most sensitive areas of human activity, notorious also for its James Bond style clandestine operations, has the chance to become transparent, then we have enough ground for optimism in practically all spheres of journalism and news stories objectivity.

The above technological achievements take us very close to accomplishing one of humankind’s greatest dreams:

The Truth project

Imagine a global news exchange that compiles and analyzes big data bases about political, economic, financial, military, humanitarian etc. processes which are continuously present in the radar of public interest; with algorithms that can execute verification of events and fact check its details in real time; that are authorized to issue dynamic truth certificates on the measurable parameters of any news story; that are capable to assess and endorse sources of reliable information, and to black mark attempts for disinformation and manipulation. To mention just a few of the features defending the Temple of Truth.

A global news exchange vehicle that will very quickly evolve into a coherent database for public reference, functioning on a transparent code. Which would be a great advantage against commercially or otherwise dependent search machines. Including Google.

Artificial Intelligence could become the Guardian of Truth against manipulative media.

Because you have the right to demand The Truth.

 

 

 

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Shakespeare, Cervantes, and the Evolution of Civilizational Thinking

The Globe is not a Theatre, and the Blood is Real

This week world literature noted two anniversaries: British poet and playwright William Shakespeare and Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes both died 400 years ago on April 23 1616. In the books they wrote, each of them revealed different, but equally important aspects of how humans approach the reality of living together. Which in general terms means political philosophy. It is important for all of us because we have advanced into the cosmic space, we use nuclear technologies and now we are already breaking into the unknown area of artificial intelligence, but we still have not solved a problem of much higher order of priority: what is the most adequate system for humans to live together in a globalized world with powerful technologies in their hands?

Going through Shakespeare’s most popular plays “Hamlet”, “King Lear”, “Macbeth”,  “Henry VI”, “Richard III” we observe the tragic plots where, fighting for the throne,  brother murders brother, uncle murders nephews, nephew murders uncle in revenge and daughters humiliate their own father. In a way those great works of literature can be regarded as attempts to dissect how power, the eternally critical key concept in politics, was functioning in medieval Britain. The blood running already 400 years on the theatre stage when “Macbeth” is on might not always be a nice view, but that is not Shakespeare’s fault. And more importantly, real human blood never stopped running in conflicts and violence all over the world. It is not about the “Globe” theatre, it is about the globe itself.

And it’s all about obsession with power, perceived by some as the highest meaning of life and ultimate value of existence: the throne that makes you different from and superior to all of the rest of the people in the country.  That model of power turned out to be a theme so fascinating that it got reborn into a 21st century version of the Shakespearian world – the “Game of thrones”, thus hardening even more the illusion that because it always has been like that in human history, it has to be like that in human future too. With all the consequences.

Where is the obsession with power coming from? Why were those people so hopelessly convinced that they would not have a completed life of a human being if they were not the king? Is the primitive adoration of power an atavistic sediment from the survival instinct of the wild animals in the jungle who felt vulnerable when not strong enough? Is power the shortcut to grab other people’s wealth? Or is power the universal remedy for a person to compensate their inferiority complex like the ugly and disabled Richard III, or Hitler with his anatomical specificities?

Hamlet

Hamlet

Shakespeare did not elaborate into the dark motivation for power. Neither had he questioned his reality. He just stated that this is the world, and that human nature is what it is. Shakespeare never reached beyond the point of despair in Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be; that is the question”, but he marked the issue of political power in a way that no one can afford to disregard – now and in the future to come.

Miguel de Cervantes, from the point of view of civilizational thinking, went one step further.  In “Don Quixote” he created “a hero who carries his enthusiasm and self-deception to unintentional and comic ends”.

Don Quixote1

“Don Quixote” is an encoded story about a world with relations among humans that Cervantes deemed unacceptable. By stating that “Too much sanity may be madness and the maddest of all is to see life as it is and not as it should be”, Cervantes declared that we need to change our world.

Who are we waiting for to take the next step?

Who will rationally design the vehicle that can bring human civilization closer to where we all would want it to be – a world of sustainable prosperity?

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