Monday, 15 October 2018

Born to do Math 92 - Futurology: The Shape of the Future

Born to do Math 92 - Futurology: The Shape of the Future
Scott Douglas Jacobsen & Rick Rosner
October 15, 2018

[Beginning of recorded material]

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is the shape of the future? How does evolution provide an insight into this?

Rick Rosner: The deal is, certain things show up again and again throughout evolutionary history. Eyes have evolved a gazillion times. I bet you an evolutionary biologist who understands the whole history of evolution can show a half of a dozen different times eyes have evolved. 

Eyes did not evolve from only one organism. They keep evolving because eyes are helpful and every step up the way to fully developed eyes is also helpful, which is a nice helpful ladder. It is spotted on the surface of an organism that can detect differences in light intensity. No images but moving away from hot and cold light levels.

Then you get lenses and so on. Eyes pop up again and again because every step towards a fully developed eye gives you an advantage. Also, every step is evolvable. That it is something that can be accomplished via evolution as opposed to laser beam eyes or an internal gasoline powered engine. 

It is less likely that some organism has evolved a gas-powered engine within itself. In that, it might be helpful but there aren't steps towards that in evolution. How would you evolve pistons or a means for drilling for petroleum products? 

Gas-powered engines are a product of technology and not of biological evolution. 

Jacobsen: According to the Utah of University, 550 million years have passed since the oldest found eyes. It has evolved independently 1,500 times.

Rosner: Wow! If you leave organisms to their own evolutionary devices, whatever optical stuff they have will continue to evolve towards fully developed eyes, either from nothing or from eyespots, or brightness detecting spots.

Eyes are easily evolved.

Jacobsen: It starts with a flat light-sensitive patch and then has over 1,800 tiny improvements until you have a complex image-forming capable lens. Then there is improving that image too. 

Rosner: It keeps happening again and again. There is a bias in existence. Given eyes have evolved on our planet 1,000 times, you can expect, wherever we go to populate the galaxy and run into alien life, that it is super likely for there to be aliens with eyes because they are super common and evolvable. 

I assume there are historical steps that are so helpful and so doable that they are unavoidable given the right circumstance. You are not going to have creatures evolve eyes in a cave. If you put creatures in consistently dark environments, they continually lose eyes. 

With no light, it is a waste to have eyes. But given some reasonable circumstances, brains will evolve. I think brains are highly evolvable. That will show up again and again. They are doable and super helpful in evolution.

Jacobsen: The complication comes in having those light-sensitive patches and having those evolving in unison with a basic information processing unit.

Rosner: Yes, given the right circumstances, once technology starts, it will keep going. The right circumstances might be a non-aquatic environment. It is difficult to form technology underwater. Dolphins and whales do not have much in the way of technology.

They have a highly sophisticated culture. But they do not have machines because it is hard to build machines underwater. You need surface creatures existing in an environment of air or of a gas rather than of a liquid. 

Maybe, some liquids are conducive but, really. Given the right circumstances, technology will arise. It is apparent that once technology arises then you're going to have an information processing revolution. 

That in the future, we are going to be transformed. Eventually, the information processing technology is going to outstrip evolved biological abilities. That's coming. We are right on the cusp of our technology outstripping our biology.

It will transform to the extent that more and more people and entities will acquire more and more non-biological powers.

Jacobsen: In that way, there will be a drive to more rounded consciousness.

Rosner: Yes, information processing will transform consciousness.

Jacobsen: Because one argument in sophisticated theological thought and social commentary is technology improvements not improving moral behaviour, but, in fact, if you can design it then you can redesign the fundamental substructure of people's ethics, in a way, so that they're not only more rounded in their capacities but the world around them and how they act in it, potentially.

Rosner: This transformation is going to happen. Nobody has ever been able to hold it back. It may some countries, as you've discussed. Some countries may keep its nation living at a 12th century level of technology with political suppression.

Jacobsen: Or knowledge, if you take Turkey with Erdogan, he banned evolution in schools.

Rosner: Nice. 

Jacobsen: He wants a poor population for, at least, the next decade.

Rosner: That's horrible, but only in one country. This is a kind of unstoppable wave. 100 or 150 years from now, what's going on currently and politically in America, it will not matter. It will just be a blip.

The tide of history will move, regardless of the local political conditions. It is mostly good because the tide of history tends towards the good. There is the Martin Luther King quote about the arc of moral history.

That is largely true, I believe. The tragedy: if America cannot get it shit together, the tragedy is local and limited to America. 150 years from now, the people of that time will look back with only a limited amount of empathy if America falls apart.

They will be part of a big world. The tragedy will be for us now. We will be, because of dysfunctional politics, more shut out and have less of a chance of participating in the future because our country is now run by corrupt idiots. 

But that tragedy will be limited to us because the tide of history will move on and flow around us and beyond us. We will be a bunch of assholes from 150 years ago. 

Jacobsen: You make a strong case. Add to that, America is only 5% of the global population. So, it's only 5% of the population jumping off the ship. If we take the Turkey example with the banning or removal of evolution, it affects a generation if kept on for a generation.

It impacts biological sciences and medical sciences. Evolution is the fundamental idea in biology. 

Rosner: The Soviet Union, it was an official requirement to believe in Lysenkoism. It is a bad view of evolution. It is a view of evolution that does not work.

Jacobsen: You characterized some people in America as social darwinists who do not believe in Darwin.

Rosner: Darwin himself was not a social darwinist. I think he lived long enough to be appalled at what was being done with evolution to justify vicious business practices.

Lysenkoism, for those who do not know, is the belief that somehow organism are able to pass on traits based on what those organisms experienced in their lives with the stadnard example being if a giraffe spends its life having to reach for higher and higher elaves, then the giraffe will give birth to a generation that has longer necks. 

It is not how evolution works. Evolution says, "Among a population of giraffes that use this strategy of giong for the higher leaves; giraffes that go for the higher leaves and can reaclh them wil be genetically favored, but there is no switch within giraffes that says that reaching for leaves will leave offspring with longer necks."

It is not entirely true because there is epigenetics, which allows for a certain limited amount of that. But the Sviety Union had, in the 1940s and 1950s, under penalty of death - because Stalin liked killing people - you had to believe in this other thoery of evolution, which is largely untrue. 

It hampered their agriculture for decades. It led to famine and other horrible things.

Jacobsen: In the United States, it does not have to be instituted and legalized as in Turkey with Erdogan or in the Soviet Union with Stalin. So, in America, the sociocultural context is 35% in 2017 numbers believe in aliteral creation of Man from dust and Woman from rib. 

It is the image of the world.

Rosner: History's fruit will flow out and around those people. They will be little blips in the historical record. The beings of 150 years from now will look back on them and us the way we look back on people in the Civil War era. Those who were struggling to make sense of the world trapped in political an economic systems that make our lives limited and miserable.

They were trapped in history. We are trapped in and trampled by history.  Okay, I am talked out...

[End of recorded material]


Rick Rosner
American Television Writer

According to semi-reputable sources, Rick Rosner has the world’s second-highest IQ. He earned 12 years of college credit in less than a year and graduated with the equivalent of 8 majors. He has received 8 Writer’s Guild Award and Emmy nominations, and was named 2013 North American Genius of the Year by The World Genius Registry.

He has written for Remote Control, Crank Yankers, The Man Show, The Emmy Awards, The Grammy Awards, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. He has also worked as a stripper, a bouncer, a roller-skating waiter, and a nude model. In a TV commercial, Domino’s Pizza named him the World’s Smartest Man. He was also named Best Bouncer in the Denver Area by Westwood Magazine.

He spent the disco era as an undercover high school student. 25 years as a bar bouncer, American fake ID-catcher, 25+ years as a stripper, and nude art model, and nearly 30 years as a writer for more than 2,500 hours of network television.  He lost on Jeopardy!, sued Who Wants to Be a Millionaire over a bad question, and lost the lawsuit. He spent 35+ years on a modified version of Big Bang Theory. Now, he mostly sits around tweeting in a towel. He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife and daughter.

You can send an email or a direct message via Twitter, or find him on LinkedIn, or see him on YouTube.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing

(Updated September 28, 2016)

He is a Moral Courage Webmaster and Outreach Specialist (Fall, 2016) at the UCI Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality (Ethics Center), Interview Columnist for Conatus News, Writer and Executive Administrator for Trusted Clothes, Interview Columnist for Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), Chair of Social Media for the Almas Jiwani Foundation, Councillor for the Athabasca University Student Union, Member of the Learning Analytics Research Group, writer for The Voice MagazineYour Political Party of BCProBCMarijuana Party of CanadaFresh Start Recovery CentreHarvest House Ministries, and Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization, Editor and Proofreader for Alfred Yi Zhang Photography, Community Journalist/Blogger for Gordon Neighbourhood House, Member-at-Large, Member of the Outreach Committee, the Finance & Fundraising Committee, and the Special Projects & Political Advocacy Committee, and Writer for Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Member of the Lifespan Cognition Psychology Lab and IMAGe Psychology Lab, Collaborator with Dr. Farhad Dastur in creation of the CriticalThinkingWiki, Board Member, and Foundation Volunteer Committee Member for the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation, and Independent Landscaper.

He was a Francisco Ayala Scholar at the UCI Ethics Center, Member of the Psychometric Society Graduate Student Committee, Special Advisor and Writer for ECOSOC at NWMUN, Writer for TransplantFirstAcademy and ProActive Path, Member of AT-CURA Psychology Lab, Contributor for a student policy review, Vice President of Outreach for the Almas Jiwani Foundation, worked with Manahel Thabet on numerous initiatives, Student Member of the Ad–Hoc Executive Compensation Review Committee for the Athabasca University Student Union, Volunteer and Writer for British Columbia Psychological Association, Community Member of the KPU Choir (even performed with them alongside the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra), Delegate at Harvard World MUN, NWMUN, UBC MUN, and Long Beach Intercollegiate MUN, and Writer and Member of the Communications Committee for The PIPE UP Network.


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