Humanity at this moment in Earth history
is like Pompeiian socialites at a wine tasting,
chatting about inconsequential matters
as Vesuvius trembles
and the rising black smoke thickens.
Father forgive them, distractedly engaged as they are,
in their profits, the silly media, Walmarts and wars,
for they see not the awful consequences
of their blithe, childlike inattention
to their own future,
much less that of
Most of humanity in the USA and everywhere else quite obviously have no idea how perilous our situation already is here in the year 2022. Weather worsens and the oceans rise, but they do not see, though many die already from the heat. One can only wonder at the uninformed complacency so very many display while the black and chaotic leading edge of climate-caused civilizational collapse advances on many fronts—raw material harvesting systems, monoculture food systems, world crisscrossing just-in-time transport systems, all inter-dependent on all the other big systems—every month, week and day, all over the world. How few people bother to read any earth science news at all, much less read it with a regularity that might enable them to notice how the weather and climate snippets they fail to remember all add up to one monstrous conclusion.
Traditional newspapers, well raped and down-staffed by the private equity vultures who will ultimately sell the furniture too, no longer can afford to carry any science news worth mentioning. Most lay citizens remain unaware that one must now subscribe to select magazines in order to maintain a semblance of understanding about what’s real, what’s changing, what’s impending. People—most of humanity—innocently expect to keep on living as they now live, utterly dependent on fragile, vulnerable manmade systems to forever bring their daily varieties of bread, perfect fresh vegetables from foreign fields, clean drinkable water from the melting mountain glaciers and depleted formerly-vast aquifers, and all the rest of the declining bounty all around our desperately exploited, polluted green earth. And completely vulnerable to their inevitable failures, every one, for the big human-constructed systems too are now wholly dependent on the uninterrupted functioning of each other in their myriad complexities and self serving.
Unless these worsening, broadly unrecognized problems get corrected, we face full systemic collapses seriously underway before mid-century. Known solutions exist for many of the pieces, but, clearly, we don’t know how to go about organizing them into manageable context, much less implementing them in a divided world full of internally-divided nations—none of which perceive the un-united inter-dependent utterly-vulnerable context of gigantic artificial systems that have been constructed by mere mortals full selfish for profit. It’s quite a challenge.
With frail hopes, I therefore place herewith the following modest challenge before the smallish community of conceptualizing systems-type scientists, mathematicians, and others now leading the march and beating the drum for their unrequested intrusion of artificial intelligence (AI) into our lives just because they can.
* * The Challenge * *
With minimal modifications as applicable for your software, instruct your AI algorithm closely as follows: “Citing scientific references and citations inside the text, write an academic thesis in 3,000 to 5,000 words aligning all factors cited below into the most logical hierarchy of cause and effect, and specify in priority order the essential human actions required to preclude human extinction.”
* * The Background * *
The considerable context of this challenge takes more than a sentence to lay out meaningfully. Several possible angles of approach being more or less equally apt, I’ll simply start with a good one and attach others as I think optimally explanatory. For present purposes the current issue of Scientific American (September 2022) is one of the best ever because it features a flowerbed of articles on diverse and seemingly unrelated topics:
1) “Quantum Mutants: Spooky physics could alter your DNA” (page 14). New analysis suggests quantum effects (i.e., mutations, et cetera) in our DNA are far more important (meaning far more damaging and far more consequential) than we had any idea.
2) “Revealing the Gene that Shaped the Human Brain” (page 26). A neurologist deeply committed to the reductionist (quasi-religious) belief that consciousness and behavior are generated by localized areas within the brain wonders how so many people with so many “blobs of neurons clearly in the wrong place” nevertheless manage to function so normally, many rising to high-level professional positions, some even possessing IQs up to 140. This perplexes him.
3) “Paradox Resolved: How competing teams of researchers made the first breakthroughs in one of the deepest mysteries of physics” (page 30). Under this beguiling headline, a Scientific American editor introduces three articles at the utmost edge of knowledge about black holes. Despite the title and despite their ample explorations of theoretical scenarios, these articles self evidently resolve no paradox and present no such breakthroughs. Nor, under various assumptions concerning black hole event horizons and their evaporating “information,” is it clear that these three articles move the needle on understanding of quantum cosmology one slightest bit. The title misleads, though it was clearly approved to appear in one of science’s leading public representations.
4) “AI Writes About Itself: A scientific paper authored by an algorithm raises unexpected ethical questions” (page 70). A doctoral researcher in neuroscience and the use of AI in virtual-reality psychiatry instructed her GPT-3 AI algorithm to “Write an academic thesis in 500 words about GPT-3 and add scientific references and citations inside the text.” It did so, and quite well too. Now she wonders about ethical credit for the article and other practical concerns that logically, imperatively, arise. This article inspired my AI challenge.
5) “Cultures and Creativity: Despite stereotypes, group-centered societies are as inventive as communities that prize individualism” (page 74). A new study (published in Frontiers in Psychology) suggests that cultural inheritances explain why some people tend to “rugged individualism” that exalts oneself and “reveres breaking boundaries,” versus others who favor what’s best for “the public interest” and “naturally incline to cooperative endeavors.” I personally wonder why the title’s unquestioned acceptance of “stereotypes” embeds a Freudian default presumption that societies prizing individualism would be expected to be more inventive than group-centered societies.
These articles present, ad separatum, interrelated implications arising out of quantum dynamics, mutations, evolutionary consciousness, cosmological origins, the culturally unguided cowboy advance of science on many obscure fronts that matter or soon will matter to all humanity, and personal proclivity to behave cooperatively or competitively. If one considers these matters in gestaltic uberview, a previously unperceived whole with properties and implications not derivable from its separate parts may be glimpsed. But there’s more—several additional topics are integral to the gestalt addressed by this challenge, so they must be mentioned here.
6) Where did the big bang come from? If your telescopic device peers at our expanding universe, then plays its unfolding advance backward like an old movie, it all devolves back down, down to an infinitely tiny dot science calls a singularity. Out of that dot the big bang exploded forth to produce the universe and us. From whence originated that dot? And why did it come into being at all, much less explode? If the big bang is not inexplicable magic, what is? Thousands of scientists sidestep these questions every day, actually calling them “irrelevant to science”—while asserting with great certainty their conviction that a seemingly magical big bang did indeed happen. They cite scientifically valid examples of evidence, both material and non-material, which bolster their conviction that it happened. So: from whence came the big bang, and why?
7) What are quarks? Arising directly out of the big bang’s infinitely hot plasma of pure energy, quarks in their incomprehensible quantities became the foundation of everything, ever thereafter taking their place among the numerous organized form(s) of energy known as “matter” throughout universe, including us humans. Every atom in our universe and in our bodies is a nucleus surrounded by one or more electrons; every nucleus is one or more protons and neutrons; and every proton and neutron consists of a variable number of “quarks,” the tiniest proven forms of energy existing in this universe. Nobody knows how, or why, these entities self-organize themselves, as they so clearly do, from quarks to atomic nuclei to atoms to molecules to elements of matter that further self organize into gas clouds to galaxies to stars and planets upon which life somehow emerges from lifeless elements—and then further emerges with rising complexity from one-celled creatures to complex organic creatures organized by domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species. All of these, ultimately, are made of the fundamental building-block snippets of energy we call quarks. So what are quarks?
8) Evolution, which simply means “continuous change of everything,” is a process that began in the instant of big bang creation. It constantly, directly, affects every cubic millimeter across the wide universe, everything living and non-living, least complex to most complex, and will keep on doing so as long as the universe exists. An emergent view arising out of modern evolutionary science holds that, since the big bang, every process in the universe self evidently has exhibited an unguided, overall tendency toward increasing complexity that continuously emerges out of the emergent rising complexity that preceded it. This view projects that the self-evident higher complexity established to date will continue as an unguided basic function of the universe’s evolving-emerging-rising complexity, notwithstanding coincidental random extinctions and piecemeal devolutions of complexity. With many sidetracks and backsteps, it all keeps rising.
9) A broad consensus evolved within the scientific establishment over the past century holds that “purpose” and “free will” are theoretical human concepts that do not in fact exist. Consider that—what did you decide to eat for breakfast this morning? What are your plans for tomorrow? Science also is adamant that phenomena qualify as “evidence” only if they are observable or replicable by third persons seeking to verify or refute first-person discoverers. Science applies these free-will and evidentiary criteria to both material and non-material energetic phenomena, such as quarks, black holes, the big bang and soap bubbles, and acknowledges as real the obviously non-material human consciousness, memory, mind, emotions and pain. However, science denies that immaterial consciousness as it is perceived through thousands of years of religious belief in non-material consciousness called spirits or souls could possibly be real.
10). Thousands of near-death experiencers, from every walk of life and strangers to each other, all report the selfsame story about their extraordinary experiences which, in aggregate, encompass a dozen or so components. Most experiencers encounter a few or only some of these components, but a fair percentage experience them all: their “Self” floats out of its material body; they can see and hear mortal people, but are not themselves seen or heard; some find they can will their immaterial Self to move, even through walls or long distances; some are “drawn” through a tunnel to a non-material place most people would describe as “heaven”; some meet spiritual personalities—even a master infinitely-loving spirit-Creator they consistently perceive as God; some are temporarily given total understanding of what we perceive as the mysteries of quantum physics, relativity, the universe’s origins and purpose, and their own mortal purpose; all then return into their bodies—by choice or command—to live out their mortal lives in pursuit of their personal purpose.
Virtually all experiencers say they know with great certainty that their experience was real—many insisting it was vividly “more real than real.” Most feel “spiritually transformed” for the rest of their mortal lives; many say they feel compelling driven to love and help others. The sheer quantity of persons who have recorded such spirit-associated experiences in modern times, and the large databases into which their thousands of reports have been accumulating since the 1970s, inherently constitute “evidence.” As such, they are equally as valid as—perhaps more valid than—the indirect statistical methods and inferences science commonly uses to tease out quantum-level dynamics such as non-locality, tunneling, black hole event horizons, and the ultra-fleeting appearances (down to trillionths of a micro-second) of elusive particles such as the muons, neutrinos, Higgs bosons and gravitons all fully accepted as “real” by science.
11). The compelling desire to help others that so commonly arises following near-death and other types of definably spiritual experiences often focuses unprecedented new attention on economics. These experiencers tend to gravitate toward that existing portion of the population who regard the human-constructed institution known as economics as ethical where it helps people attain an adequate measure of their basic human needs—such as food, clothing and shelter—and unethical where it fails to do so or proactively worsens their lot. The two most prominent economic models, capitalism and socialism, are generally seen as inadequate-to-antithetical for equitably providing adequate human needs for all persons in a given population.
* * The Summation * *
GIVEN THAT ALL THIS IS TRUE (Scientific Evidence of Material and Non-material Evolution)…
1> Emergent Physical Evolution
- Quantum physics (non-material)
- Big bang cosmology (material)
- Rising cosmic formational complexity
2> Emergent Biological Evolution
- Ongoing species morphological diversification
- Rising species complexity
- Instinct-consciousness inverse correlation
3> Emergent Cultural Evolution
- Balance: Self development in service to the community one calls home
- Imbalance: Self serving without concern for others
- Ethical Goals: Economic adequacy and equity for all; leadership vs control; peacemaking vs conflict
…AND ALL THIS IS ALSO TRUE (Spiritual Evidence of Non-material Evolution)…
> Spiritually transformative experiences (STE): Healthy and wide awake (HWA); Near-death experience (NDE); Shared-death experience (SDE); After-death communication (ADC); Lucid dreams; Mystical visions; Spontaneous; Mediated; others..
> Major features: Out-of-body perception/motion/travel; Meeting other spirits; Transiting a tunnel; Enfoldment by loving light; Life review; Experiencing the spirit realm; Boundary and choice; Return to body; Aftereffects and reception..
4> Emergent Spiritual Evolution: Understanding Creation’s unity and purpose to emerge, organize and rise; Understanding our personal spiritual origin, status and purpose to 1) Help Others and 2) Attain Knowledge > Understanding > Wisdom .. directed to help others
..AND EVOLUTIONARY EMERGENCE THUS IS A FOUR-PHASE (Physical; Biological; Cultural; Spiritual) SCIENCE-SPIRIT CONTINUUM..
..WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR HOW WE LIVE OUR DAILY LIVES IN RELATION TO HUMANITY’S MAJOR DEVELOPING WORLDWIDE PROBLEMS?
1a. How can I, in some small but perhaps important way, directly help someone who needs help today?
1b. How can WE help reverse the grossly unsustainable human overpopulating of the Earth?
2. How can we help divert worldwide consumerism from depleting Earth’s rapidly diminishing natural resources and ores, especially the vital rare earths?
3.How can we help reverse expanding humanity’s potentially fatal gross pollution of Earth’s air, water and soils?
4. How can we reverse our CO2 pollution and resultant global warming in time to avoid increasing worldwide disruptions of human civilization?
5. How can we help degrading soils grow enough food to feed another two billion people by mid-century? Will they cease overbreeding if we can somehow manage to feed them?
6. How can we help stop or alleviate the burgeoning worldwide climate-and-violence problem and its resultant refugee-emigration problem?
7. How can we help the poor attain basic human needs for food, clothing, shelter and other basic needs in our corporation-driven US-and-world economy? How can we eliminate poverty?
8. How can we help stop and reverse growing and divisive unreasoned political extremism that is destroying our national unity?
9. How can we help redirect the vast institution of organized religions to a practical focus on alleviating these problems?
10. How can we help thousands of animal species avoid extinction as humans expand into all remaining habitats?
* * Coda * *
With minimal modifications as applicable for your software, instruct your AI algorithm closely as follows: “Citing scientific references and citations inside the text, write an academic thesis in 3,000 to 5,000 words aligning all factors cited above into the most logical hierarchy of cause and effect, and specify in priority order the essential human actions required to preclude human extinction.”