Allan's Perspective is not recommended for the politically correct, or the overly religious! (Some people have opinions, and some have convictions ..., what we offer is Perspective!)

My wife is right, I am anal retentive...., so now I keep a can of WD-40 next to the toilet! (Sometimes I feel like I'm just a bobble-head on the highway of life!)

Monday, April 24, 2017

'Back to the Future' for real!

Dear Friends: "Let's get things back into Perspective!"
Image result for cave man clipart
Continuing with our heavy duty stuff week, I have a great article by Tim Urban! 

(No, not the country and western guy ........, that's his brother Keith!)

P.S. This article talks about what is often referred to as 'The Singularity!'

We are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth. — Vernor Vinge

What does it feel like to stand here?
It seems like a pretty intense place to be standing—but then you have to remember something about what it’s like to stand on a time graph: you can’t see what’s aahead. So here’s how it actually feels to stand there:
Which probably feels pretty normal…

The Far Future—Coming Soon

Imagine taking a time machine back to 1750—a time when the world was in a permanent power outage, long-distance communication meant either yelling loudly or firing a cannon in the air, and all transportation ran on hay. When you get there, you retrieve a dude, bring him to 2015, and then walk him around and watch him react to everything. It’s impossible for us to understand what it would be like for him to see shiny capsules racing by on a highway, talk to people who had been on the other side of the ocean earlier in the day, watch sports that were being played 1,000 miles away, hear a musical performance that happened 50 years ago, and play with my magical wizard rectangle that he could use to capture a real-life image or record a living moment, generate a map with a paranormal moving blue dot that shows him where he is, look at someone’s face and chat with them even though they’re on the other side of the country, and worlds of other inconceivable sorcery. This is all before you show him the internet or explain things like the International Space Station, the Large Hadron Collider, nuclear weapons, or general relativity.

This experience for him wouldn’t be surprising or shocking or even mind-blowing—those words aren’t big enough. He might actually die.
But here’s the interesting thing—if he then went back to 1750 and got jealous that we got to see his reaction and decided he wanted to try the same thing, he’d take the time machine and go back the same distance, get someone from around the year 1500, bring him to 1750, and show him everything. And the 1500 guy would be shocked by a lot of things—but he wouldn’t die. It would be far less of an insane experience for him, because while 1500 and 1750 were very different, they were much less different than 1750 to 2015. The 1500 guy would learn some mind-bending shit about space and physics, he’d be impressed with how committed Europe turned out to be with that new imperialism fad, and he’d have to do some major revisions of his world map conception. But watching everyday life go by in 1750—transportation, communication, etc.—definitely wouldn’t make him die.

No, in order for the 1750 guy to have as much fun as we had with him, he’d have to go much farther back—maybe all the way back to about 12,000 BC, before the First Agricultural Revolution gave rise to the first cities and to the concept of civilization. If someone from a purely hunter-gatherer world—from a time when humans were, more or less, just another animal species—saw the vast human empires of 1750 with their towering churches, their ocean-crossing ships, their concept of being “inside,” and their enormous mountain of collective, accumulated human knowledge and discovery—he’d likely die.

And then what if, after dying, he got jealous and wanted to do the same thing. If he went back 12,000 years to 24,000 BC and got a guy and brought him to 12,000 BC, he’d show the guy everything and the guy would be like, “Okay what’s your point who cares.” For the 12,000 BC guy to have the same fun, he’d have to go back over 100,000 years and get someone he could show fire and language to for the first time.

In order for someone to be transported into the future and die from the level of shock they’d experience, they have to go enough years ahead that a “die level of progress,” or a Die Progress Unit (DPU) has been achieved. So a DPU took over 100,000 years in hunter-gatherer times, but at the post-Agricultural Revolution rate, it only took about 12,000 years. The post-Industrial Revolution world has moved so quickly that a 1750 person only needs to go forward a couple hundred years for a DPU to have happened.

This pattern—human progress moving quicker and quicker as time goes on—is what futurist Ray Kurzweil calls human history’s Law of Accelerating Returns. This happens because more advanced societies have the ability to progress at a faster rate than less advanced societies—because they’re more advanced. 19th century humanity knew more and had better technology than 15th century humanity, so it’s no surprise that humanity made far more advances in the 19th century than in the 15th century—15th century humanity was no match for 19th century humanity.

This works on smaller scales too. The movie Back to the Future came out in 1985, and “the past” took place in 1955. In the movie, when Michael J. Fox went back to 1955, he was caught off-guard by the newness of TVs, the prices of soda, the lack of love for shrill electric guitar, and the variation in slang. It was a different world, yes—but if the movie were made today and the past took place in 1985, the movie could have had much more fun with much bigger differences. The character would be in a time before personal computers, internet, or cell phones—today’s Marty McFly, a teenager born in the late 90s, would be much more out of place in 1985 than the movie’s Marty McFly was in 1955.

This is for the same reason we just discussed—the Law of Accelerating Returns. The average rate of advancement between 1985 and 2015 was higher than the rate between 1955 and 1985—because the former was a more advanced world—so much more change happened in the most recent 30 years than in the prior 30.

So—advances are getting bigger and bigger and happening more and more quickly. This suggests some pretty intense things about our future, right?

If Kurzweil and others who agree with him are correct, then we may be as blown away by 2030 as our 1750 guy was by 2015—i.e. the next DPU might only take a couple decades—and the world in 2050 might be so vastly different than today’s world that we would barely recognize it.

This isn’t science fiction. It’s what many scientists smarter and more knowledgeable than you or I firmly believe—and if you look at history, it’s what we should logically predict.

So then why, when you hear me say something like “the world 35 years from now might be totally unrecognizable,” are you thinking, “Cool….but nahhhhhhh”? Three reasons we’re skeptical of outlandish forecasts of the future:

1) When it comes to history, we think in straight lines.
When we imagine the progress of the next 30 years, we look back to the progress of the previous 30 as an indicator of how much will likely happen. When we think about the extent to which the world will change in the 21st century, we just take the 20th century progress and add it to the year 2000. This was the same mistake our 1750 guy made when he got someone from 1500 and expected to blow his mind as much as his own was blown going the same distance ahead. It’s most intuitive for us to think linearly, when we should be thinking exponentially.

If someone is being more clever about it, they might predict the advances of the next 30 years not by looking at the previous 30 years, but by taking the current rate of progress and judging based on that. They’d be more accurate, but still way off. In order to think about the future correctly, you need to imagine things moving at a much faster rate than they’re moving now.

2) The trajectory of very recent history often tells a distorted story.
First, even a steep exponential curve seems linear when you only look at a tiny slice of it, the same way if you look at a little segment of a huge circle up close, it looks almost like a straight line. Second, exponential growth isn’t totally smooth and uniform. Kurzweil explains that progress happens in “S-curves”:
An S is created by the wave of progress when a new paradigm sweeps the world. The curve goes through three phases:
1. Slow growth (the early phase of exponential growth)
2. Rapid growth (the late, explosive phase of exponential growth)
3. A leveling off as the particular paradigm matures3

If you look only at very recent history, the part of the S-curve you’re on at the moment can obscure your perception of how fast things are advancing. The chunk of time between 1995 and 2007 saw the explosion of the internet, the introduction of Microsoft, Google, and Facebook into the public consciousness, the birth of social networking, and the introduction of cell phones and then smart phones.

That was Phase 2: the growth spurt part of the S. But 2008 to 2015 has been less groundbreaking, at least on the technological front. Someone thinking about the future today might examine the last few years to gauge the current rate of advancement, but that’s missing the bigger picture. In fact, a new, huge Phase 2 growth spurt might be brewing right now.

3) Our own experience makes us stubborn old men about the future.
We base our ideas about the world on our personal experience, and that experience has ingrained the rate of growth of the recent past in our heads as “the way things happen.” We’re also limited by our imagination, which takes our experience and uses it to conjure future predictions—but often, what we know simply doesn’t give us the tools to think accurately about the future.

When we hear a prediction about the future that contradicts our experience-based notion of how things work, our instinct is that the prediction must be naive. If I tell you, later in this post, that you may live to be 150, or 250, or not die at all, your instinct will be, “That’s stupid—if there’s one thing I know from history, it’s that everybody dies.” And yes, no one in the past has not died. But no one flew airplanes before airplanes were invented either.

So while nahhhhh might feel right as you read this post, it’s probably actually wrong. The fact is, if we’re being truly logical and expecting historical patterns to continue, we should conclude that much, much, much more should change in the coming decades than we intuitively expect.

Logic also suggests that if the most advanced species on a planet keeps making larger and larger leaps forward at an ever-faster rate, at some point, they’ll make a leap so great that it completely alters life as they know it and the perception they have of what it means to be a human—kind of like how evolution kept making great leaps toward intelligence until finally it made such a large leap to the human being that it completely altered what it meant for any creature to live on planet Earth.

And if you spend some time reading about what’s going on today in science and technology, you start to see a lot of signs quietly hinting that life as we currently know it cannot withstand the leap that’s coming next.

(I have to admit it folks, Tim is a pretty smart guy! -Ed.)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The meaning of life! No, really ....., the meaning of life!!!!

O.K. here's what I'm a gonna do for the next little while folks.

For the next week I will try and explain some of my philosophical ideas that I have been playing around with for fifty years , and then for the next two weeks after that I will be writing about my trip to B.C. for my daughters wedding!!


Now to get on with the serious stuff, I might be right and I might be wrong, but this is the best I can come up with on a subject as controversial as religion and the meaning of life. (Matter of fact, I wrote a book about it called, appropriately enough: "An Exploration of Religion and the Meaning of Life!")

First, IS there a God, or is there NOT a God?

Only one of two possibilities here kids. If the likes of Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins are correct then everything happened in a serendipitous way and there is no rhyme of reason to it all!  (Sort of like what Jodi Foster said in the movie adaptation of Carl Sagan's book Contact! "It's a terrific waste of space!")

Now if there is something behind it all, as those great panpsychic philosophers Alan Watts or Bertrand Russell maintain, then we have to take all the religious texts like the Bible, Torah, and Koran and toss them in the garbage, because they are only fictional books meant to further a human agenda. (Once again: See my book on Amazon: "An Exploration of Religion and the Meaning of Life!")

With nothing left, this leads us to the conclusion that the material Universe was created by a Ethereal being or beings that dwell in the metaphysical realm!

Yes kids,our reality would very well be an attempt by incorporeal entities to conjure and experience a physical world as a relief from boredom! (Remember, even on Star Trek some of the "Q" were getting bored, so they assumed a material form to amuse themselves.

Matter of fact, it was an episode of Star Trek some fifty years ago that got me traveling down this road of exploration and conjecture regarding our many beliefs and superstitions. In it, an impossibly old being called Sargon takes over Captain Kirk so he can experience the feelings and emotions that go along with a physical body! (Now I must warn you that this performance is the end result of what happens when a bunch of Frenchmen at the 'Montreal School of Acting' try to teach an English pupil how to act!)

Anyway, I hope you get the idea, we are nothing more than playthings for a Supreme Being ......, or we are that Supreme Being and don't know it!!

More tomorrow:

"Let's get things back into Perspective here # 42"

Dear Friends:

Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest and reflection so  I'm going to print an article by P. Dovorsky that might tickle your fancy! 

If not, or if you don't like having your fancy tickled then move on to other stuff, after all, it doesn't matter whether you agree or dis-agree, it just makes for interesting reading!


Nietzsche is famous for saying that God is dead, but news of The Almighty's demise may have been greatly exaggerated. Here are some of the most fascinating and provocative philosophical arguments for the existence of God.

To be clear, these are philosophical arguments. They're neither rooted in religious scripture nor any kind of scientific observation or fact. Many of these arguments, some of which date back thousands of years, serve as interesting intellectual exercises, teasing apart what we think we know about the universe and our place within it from what we think we're capable of knowing. Other arguments, like the last two listed, are attempts to reconcile questions that currently plague scientists and philosophers.
Philosophy goes where hard science can't, or won't. Philosophers have a license to…Read more on io9.​com

Now, none of these arguments make a definitive case for the existence of God, and many of them are (fairly) easily debunked or problematical (as I'll try to show). But at the very least, they offer considerable food for thought. 

Finally, by "God" or "god," we're not talking about any specific religious deity. As this list shows, the term can encompass everything from a perfect, omnipotent being to something that can be considered even a bit banal.
1) The very notion of an all-perfect being means God has to exist
This is the classic ontological, or a priori, argument. It was first articulated in 1070 by St. Anselm, who argued that because we have a conception of an all-perfect being — which he defined as "that than which nothing greater can be conceived" — it has to exist. In his essay Proslogion, St. Anselm conceived of God as a being who possesses all conceivable perfection. But if this being "existed" merely as an idea in our minds, then it would be less perfect than if it actually existed. So it wouldn't be as great as a being who actually existed, something that would thus contradict our definition of God — a being who's supposed to be all-perfect. Thus, God must exist.

Okay, admittedly, this sounds a bit weird by modern standards. Actually, it even sounded weird back then; Gaunilo of Marmoutiers ripped apart Anselm's idea by asking people to conceive of an island "more excellent" than any other island, revealing the flaws in this type of argumentation. 

Today, we know that this type of a priori argument (i.e., pure deduction) is grossly limited, often tautological, and utterly fails to take empirical evidence into account.

But surprisingly, it was a position defended by none other than Rene Descartes. His take on the matter is a bit more illustrative; Descartes, in his Fifth Meditation, wrote that the conception of a perfect being who lacks existence is like imagining a triangle whose interior angles don't sum to 180 degrees (he was big on the notion of innate ideas and the doctrine of clear and distinct perception). So, because we have the idea of a supremely perfect being, we have to conclude that a supremely perfect being exists; to Descarte, God's existence was just as obvious, logical, and self-evident as the most basic mathematical truths.
2) Something must have caused the Universe to exist

Philosophers call this one the First-Cause Argument, or the Cosmological Argument, and early advocates of this line of reasoning included Plato, Aristotle, and St. Thomas Aquinas. It's predicated on the assumption that every event must have a cause, and that cause in turn must have a cause, and on and on and on. Assuming there's no end to this regression of causes, this succession of events would be infinite. But an infinite series of causes and events doesn't make sense (a causal loop cannot exist, nor a causal chain of infinite length). There's got to be something — some kind of first cause — that is itself uncaused. This would require some kind of "unconditioned" or "supreme" being — which the philosophers call God.
I'm sure you've already come up with your own objections to the First-Cause Argument, including the issue of a first-causer having to have its own cause. Also, infinity does in fact appear to be a fundamental quality of the universe. All this said, however, cosmologists are still struggling to understand the true nature of time and what "caused" the Big Bang to happen in the first place.

3) There has to be something rather than nothing
Called the Cosmological Argument from Contingency, this is a slightly different take on the First-Cause Argument. The German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz put it best when he wrote,
Why is there something rather than nothing? The sufficient reason... is found in a substance which... is a necessary being bearing the reason for its existence within itself.
Because it's impossible for only contingent beings to exist, he argued, a necessary being must exist — a being we call God. Writing in Monadology, he wrote that "no fact can be real or existing and no statement true without a sufficient reason for its being so and not otherwise."

More recently, the philosopher Richard Swinburne looked at the issue more inductively, writing, 
There is quite a chance that if there is a God he will make something of the finitude and complexity of a universe. It is very unlikely that a universe would exist uncaused, but rather more likely that God would exist uncaused. The existence of the universe…can be made comprehensible if we suppose that it is brought about by God.
4) Something had to have designed the Universe
The Design Argument, or teleological argument, suggests we live in a Universe that surely had to be designed. The cosmos, goes the argument, exhibits orderliness and (apparent) purpose — for example, everything within the universe adheres to the laws of physics, and many things within it are correlated with one another in a way that appears purposeful. As William Paley argued, just as the existence of a watch indicates the presence of an intelligent mind, the existence of the universe and various phenomena within it indicates the presence of an even greater intelligence, namely God.

Needless to say, this line of argumentation was far more compelling prior to the advent of naturalism (the idea that everything can be explained without the benefit of supernatural intervention) and Darwinian evolution. Indeed, Darwin served as a kind of death knell to the Design Argument, at least as far as the biological realm is concerned. We know that the human eye — in all its apparent complexity and purpose — is not the product of a designer, but rather the painstaking result of variation and selection.
The answer is actually yes. And in fact, the Roman Catholic Church has recognized Darwinian…Read more on io9.​com
One of the most challenging tasks for the modern day creationist to is reconcile the belief in a…Read more on io9.​com
But the Design Argument isn't entirely dead yet. The exquisite fine-tuning of the "biophilic universe" has lead some to conclude there is in fact a greater intelligence at work. To counter this line of reasoning, however, philosophers say we should simply defer to the anthropic principle, which is interesting because theists say the same thing!
One of the more extraordinary things about the universe is that it has produced beings who can…Read more on io9.​com
5) Consciousness proves that immaterial entities exist
We still don't have a working theory of consciousness, giving rise to the notorious Hard Problem. Indeed, subjective awareness, or qualia, is quite unlike anything we normally deal with in our otherwise material universe. The weirdness of consciousness, and our inability to understand it, has given rise to the notion of substance dualism, also known as Cartesian dualism, which describes two fundamental kinds of stuff: the mental and the material. Dualists say that material on its own is incapable of producing qualia — one's capacity to have internal thoughts, subjective awareness, and feelings.

Theists have used substance dualism to make the claim for an independent "realm" of existence that's distinct from the physical world. It's a scenario similar to the one experience by Neo in The Matrix; his mental experiences occurred in a realm separate from the one that hosted his body. Theistic philosophers have taken this idea to the next level, using it to infer the existence of otherworldly or immaterial entities, including God. It's a bit of a stretch, and an argument that could use a lot more evidence.
6) We're living in a computer simulation run by hacker gods

God is in the eye of the beholder. Unlike Anselm's take on God as something "that which nothing greater can be conceived," gods can also consist of entities vastly beyond our comprehension, reach, and control. If the Simulation Hypothesis is true, and we're the product of posthuman ancestors (or some unknown entity), we simply have no choice but to recognize them as gods. They're running the show, and our collective (or even individual) behavior may be monitored — or even controlled — by them. These hacker gods would be akin the gnostic gods of yesteryear — powerful entities doing their own thing, and without our best interests in mind.
Back in 2003, Oxford professor Nick Bostrom suggested that we may be living in a computer…Read more on io9.​com
7) Aliens are our gods
We have yet to make contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence, but that doesn't mean they're not out there. A possible solution to the Fermi Paradox is the notion of directed panspermia — the idea that aliens spark life on other planets, like sending spores or probes to fertile planets, and then leave, or monitor and control the process covertly. By definition, therefore, they would be like gods to us.

This idea has been addressed many times in scifi, including the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Chase", in which a god-like species is responsible for all life in the Alpha Quadrant, or Ridley Scott's Prometheus, in which an alien can be seen seeding the primordial Earth with life. Even Arthur C. Clarke's 2001 is a take on this idea, with the monoliths instigating massive evolutionary leaps.
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