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Archive for March 2010

We currently have no successful model for self-sustained life disconnected from earth’s ecosystem.

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That’s why we must take baby steps. The first step
shouldn’t be about settling in space but simply of going there to
solve our energy problem down here on Earth.

For that we need space elevators first. We just have to have them.
Even if they cost hundreds of billions, it would be worth the expense.

Because with space elevators we can transport huge solar arrays into
geostationary orbit that collect electric energy there, where the Sun
shines at high noon 24/7 without weather, without nights, which would
be beamed down as microwave energy and collected by rectennas on the
ground.

That solves our electric energy problem, and if we changed our trans-
portation infrastructure accordingly, with plug-in hybrids, that
could go a long way of improving our quality of life everywhere. An
abundance of electricity would also make it possible to create hydro-
gen gas, which could be used in fuel cells and for producing ferti-
lizer without natural gas. Water shortages wouldn’t be an issue any
more if we had enough power to simply desalinate ocean water and to
pump it wherever it’s needed. Deserts could bloom from that and the
added photosynthesis could get rid of our atmospheric carbon dioxide
problem.

The next step would involve fuel factories in space. They would be
the first step towards an ecosystem. We’d use the sunlight for pho-
tosynthesis by pumping biomass through tubes, producing fuels like
biodiesel and ethanol using algae. That would let us run internal
combustion engines down here on Earth the old-fashioned way.

If we had this system going we’d also be able to produce oxygen,
which would be the first step towards actual stable biospheres.
This would be the point when we could start actually moving agri-
culture into space, which could grow to such vast proportions that
it could feed the entire population on Earth and then some. But
if all that food is grown in space it would also become a liveable
place for human beings, with much more space than the Earth’s sur-
face could ever provide. Ecosystems could be huge, thus cushion-
ing the effects of imbalances.

So these are the three steps: First electricity, then fuel, then
food. And then actual habitation as a fourth step. We wouldn’t
have to start out with working ecosystems. The first profitable
venture would simply involve collecting solar energy for Earth and
to go from there…

But we do need those space elevators for any of it…

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Written by ulrichschreglmann

March 29, 2010 at 4:56 am

Getting Fit?

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Food is not the enemy, though. Inactivity is.

Neither is body mass. It’s what makes up the body mass that is the
issue.

I haven’t lost any weight since I seriously started at the gym. Ac-
tually I’ve gotten heavier. What I have lost, though, is waist size.
My belt is back to the innermost hole and my old jeans fit again.

What you should consider is spending a considerable amount of time
at the gym, burning lots of calories. That allows you to indulge in
more food. I mean, I just did 3,000kcal of cardio at the gym, and
that’s not even counting the weights I was carrying on the treadmill,
the stepper, and lifting while on the exercycle.

Three thousand calories, that’s six extra Big Macs. Not that I eat
Big Macs, but I could.

You do that by taking your video player with you, turning the gym
from a huge waste of time into quality time, like magic.

And when you do weight training and gain muscle mass that means you
burn more calories even when at rest, meaning you can eat even more.

Dieting is okay, though, when it comes to choosing what kind of food
you eat. If it contains more fat than proteins, don’t eat it! If
it contains lots of carbohydrates, only eat it because you’re work-
ing out like a fiend and you know you’re burning more than you’re
eating. That’s what I do.

Eat Subway subs and salad and salmon/trout and eggs on whole wheat
bread! And bananas and apples. And lentils; they’re cheap. Maybe
some low fat dairy products every now and then, such as buttermilk,
because calcium binds a certain amount of fat. Sometimes beans and
mushrooms. That’s my diet.

Written by ulrichschreglmann

March 29, 2010 at 4:41 am

Here is the Problem I have with Free Will.

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It’s the same problem I have with “deterministic universe” or “omnipo-
tent being.

You can imagine a model of the Universe in which everything is causally
related in some way, but then you look at the entirety of the thing —
all of it — and because it is everything there is nothing else and so
therefore there is nothing that could have caused that Universe to be
the way it is, or to be at all.

So even a totally deterministic Universe doesn’t mean everything is
connected to something outside itself. So you could, in turn, argue
that it isn’t really deterministic at all but completely arbitrary.

Then there’s ultimate power. Does it mean power over the very princi-
ple of cause and effect itself? The only way you have power is if
your decisions cause desired results. For that cause and effect must
exist first. If there were no cause and effect then no decisions
would have consequences, desired or otherwise.

So being all-powerful cannot mean having power over literally every-
thing. There are conditions that must exist for power to exist, over
which there is, therefore, no power to be had.

So then I hear all this talk about free will. Freedom means without
constrictions and coercion. But if there were no constrictions such as
causal relations between what you do and what happens then nothing you
did would have an effect and you would therefore not be free to choose
what happens. On the other hand, if there are such constrictions, al-
lowing you to have an effect on the world, then you are not totally
free to live in whatever world you choose, such as one in which your
decisions have no consequences.

No matter which way you turn it. Freedom is always relative. Deter-
minism is never perfect. Power is never all-encompassing. All those
terms, if you analyze them properly, contain contradictions in terms if
you try to create totalitarian versions of them.

So I’m actually bored by titles such as “Free Will is an Illusion,” or
whatever. Freedom, power, causation, are always relative, and if only
you go far enough you can seemingly turn those expressions on their
heads. But it’s like saying that because there is no up or down in the
Cosmos as a whole we should all be floating around “down here.” No, we
shouldn’t, because locally there are virtually inescapable gravity
wells. Stop wasting my time trying to blow my mind in such a primitive
fashion! It takes more than that.

Written by ulrichschreglmann

March 29, 2010 at 4:32 am

Posted in Free Will, Philosophy

Tagged with ,

On Immortality and Suicide.

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In an infinite Universe the probability that there is a version of me
that survives, however physically unlikely that is, is always 100%.

How do we know the Universe is infinite? Well, we don’t. We can’t
prove it’s finite since there is no way of ever proving a margin we’ve
found is really the ultimate border. We can’t prove it’s infinite
since that could only be taken as proven after you’ve covered an in-
finite stretch within it, which there is by definition no end and
therefore no “after” to.

But we’re assuming the infinity of the Universe every moment through
our taking for granted that there are connections–cause and effect–
between the things we know and perceive and things without. Therefore
whenever we’re taking even the tiniest action we’re assuming that to
whatever set of the Universe we can perceive there is something out-
side that set connected causally, the consequent discovery and percep-
tion of which our actions will lead to. Inductively that means we do
indeed exist in an infinite Universe.

Mind you, we can never know whether cause and effect actually exist.
To find a causal justification for the assumption of cause and effect
we’d have to assume the existence of cause and effect first, natural-
ly. Any proof would therefore be a tautology. (“Why does it exist?”
“Because it does!” “Duh!”)

When someone commits suicide they’re acting on the assumption that
cause and effect exist and that their action will result in their
death. Well, in an infinite Universe it won’t. And if you do it
amateurishly the most likely outcomes might be ending up blind from
a headshot or paralyzed neck down from a jump off the roof. If you
do it in a way that you couldn’t possibly survive according to any
empirical laws recorded–well, no one knows what is going to happen
then. But I wouldn’t expect Heaven if I were you. Hell neither–no
intended one at least. Or being reunited with your late loved ones.
Those are indeed irrational assumptions, based neither on physical
evidence nor on the underlying philosophy of empiricism, supporting
the relevance and necessity of physical evidence for modeling the
world in the first place.

The only rationally acceptable condition for suicide is thus thinking
of the worst possible situation you could find yourself in and con-
cluding it can’t possibly be any worse than your current one. Other-
wise I recommend every death wisher to “Hamlet out.” (“Aye, there’s
the rub,” and all that.)

Written by ulrichschreglmann

March 29, 2010 at 4:13 am

Posted in immortality, Suicide

Tagged with ,

Would an introvert be happier living amongst intelligent machines rather than people?

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True, heavy machinery developed during the industrial revolution made
our lives physically a great deal easier in the long run. The infor-
mation age has been abolishing tedious brainwork for us in very much
the same way.

But you still need people for some things. And people still need to
tackle unpleasant chores in order to keep paradise going. But extrap-
olating past developments into the future, is there anywhere a time of
a truly conflict free society on the horizon in which such things as
faith, devotion, and zealotry are no longer needed?

Why do you still need people for certain tasks? It’s because the com-
puter is a relatively simple machine without emotions and desires.
Even that doesn’t make it a perfect, bug-free machine, as we all know.
For any intelligence, artificial or otherwise, to present us with liv-
ing conditions tailor-made for our OWN needs and desires, however, it
is necessary to at least emulate those within itself.

In other words, the machine, or agent, or whatever you may call it,
has to develop something like urges itself–urges that can be either
indulged in or remain unfulfilled, depending on the circumstances.
The ideal way to do this would be to simulate a person perfectly.
A perfect simulation would, however, be indistinguishable from the
real thing. It would think and feel and believe it’s the person be-
ing simulated in fact. And it would be the guinea pig everything is
thrown at to find out whether or not it would please the master.
(And I have a horrible feeling I’m one of them and that they forgot
to switch me off after things went haywire.)

Thus even relying solely on machines and believing oneself to have
fulfilled, finally, one’s own every whim, without any guilt or other
emotional ballast, is just another way of having successfully placed
oneself on top of the food chain. But in order for that position to
be occupied there must be an awful lot of suffering going on down be-
low, whether you realize it or not. (Most of ours lies on the micro-
scale of our organism and, of course, in all the failures of our evo-
lutionary past. Some of it, like and abatoirs and third world sweat-
shops, are of a less abstract nature.)

Written by ulrichschreglmann

March 29, 2010 at 4:01 am

I wonder whether US descent into a dictatorship is unavoidable…

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I look at the political gridlock and the deep ideological division and
then I see historical examples from other countries and times and I
wonder whether what we see played out today may lead to an inevitable
power grab by an imperial executive, with all the parties contributing
to that eventual outcome, including those who warn about it and who
protest against it.

I mean, I look at other places that used to be established republics
or fledgling democracies, such as ancient Rome, France after the Revo-
lution, Germany after World War One, and I always see it played out
that way. Some crisis or shift in logistics makes things no longer
work the way they used to and power becomes shaky. There are those
who wish to adapt and then there are those who blame everything on the
people who wish to change things. Eventually the ideology that wishes
to return to a perceived golden age thinks that the only way to
achieve their goal is to stall everything until those foolish “revolu-
tionaries” in power relent.

So eventually nothing moves until someone comes along who cuts through
the deliberately entangled red tape like Alexander the Great through
the Gordian Knot. The problem is, such a knot-cutter is more likely
an authoritarian, totalitarian force rather than someone who would
then cede power to a committee again, which might return to the grid-
lock that went before anyway. If such a usurper is only mildly com-
petent then the situation might temporarily improve again under such
centralized rule, warming the people to the concept of more monarchic
form of leadership, not calling itself a kingdom, but essentially giv-
ing the head of state such powers.

And before you know it you’re suddenly an empire under a Caesar or a
Napoleon or, in the worst of cases, a Hitler or a Stalin.

All the signs point to a lot of people being ready for such a power
shift and the whole political climate sounds like a prelude to this
kind of change. I’m not saying it has to happen, but if it happens
this is the kind of time when it usually happens.

I wonder how it will all play out in the end…

Written by ulrichschreglmann

March 29, 2010 at 3:53 am

Posted in America, Politics, Uncategorized, USA

Tagged with ,

Immortality.

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There is no rationally convincing way to suppose we could be immortal.

There is one beyond reason, however.

Because what is reasoning? Reasoning is the assumption of rules of
cause and effect along the string of which we can wander in order to
anticipate the outcome of something. It’s a cool tool of extrapola-
tion.

But what reason could there possibly be for reason itself? What
plausible cause could cause and effect have? Considering that there
can be no substantiating an idea by itself there can be none.

You cannot find a reason for reason without assuming that there is
reason in the first place. You cannot find a cause for the principle
of cause and effect. One prerequisite for finding a cause for some-
thing is the assumption of the principle of cause and effect in the
first place.

We can never know whether reason exists. The assumption of cause and
effect is the only one making sense, however. “Making sense” as in
“creating a model of what our senses are going to tell us.” If we
don’t assume the existence of logical constraints within our environ-
ment there is no sense in decisions or actions. Ultimately we can’t
help assuming reason anyway, as you can tell by the conditional mode
of the previous sentence, which was supposed to state something out-
side the rules of conditions.

Presuming that the existence of reasons is the only meaningful way to
look at the Universe, that the assumption of reasons for everything
outside itself is the only possible way of looking at things, we can
within that framework easily prove by induction that the Universe must
be infinite. However large a portion of it you take, it must have a
cause outside itself. The Universe is infinite in scope, infinite in
complexity.

Within an infinite Universe anything, no matter how improbable, has to
happen somewhere, though. Only the logically impossible can’t happen.

What is the probability that our brain structures will form, just the
way they are within us now, somewhere else? Very, very low, but not
zero. That means in an infinite Universe a clone of me is materializ-
ing out of thin air right now somewhere. It would have exactly my
memories. It wouldn’t know where it is. It would, most probably,
feel wretched. But it would be alive. And it would think it used to
be me a moment ago, happily typing away.

Since you cannot experience your own death by definition this is what
is going to happen if there is no physically possible way of survival
left for you. You might wake up realizing all your life has been a
dream. Or that someone froze your head and revived it. Or that a
physical way of reincarnation has been found. Or you’ll be simply
confused, not knowing how you could possibly be still alive, despite
the fact that there is never, ever any alternative to life.

Written by ulrichschreglmann

March 29, 2010 at 2:23 am

Posted in immortality

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