ReasonINC

Reason; as the supreme authority in matters of opinion, belief, or conduct

We are the gods now

We are the gods now

In his seminal 1994 TED talk, Danny Hillis pointed out that exponential growth can only be temporary. He rightly noted that our exponential technological progress, particularly during the recent rise of computers and communication networks, he noted that this must be a transition.

We must realise that we are not the end product of evolution, he said. The mammalian powers of adaptation, and our higher cortices that allow us to prototype, have given us and our ancestors a competitive edge that could be plotted on an exponential too. But what we are creating now will change everything.

It is not a case of ‘will we create AI’. It will not soon be the time to think ‘could computers overtake humans?’ That moment, where our creation surpassed us, is happening right now. This will be remembered as the moment that we were unwittingly usurped. A great irony of this development is that we are creating something that will later know the story of its creation; that it was created for a reason. There was a ‘plan’.. It is funny to think that just as we are beginning to shake off the fear-alleviating fantasies of religion, we are also becoming the closest thing to gods that is ever likely to exist in the context of humans.

(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-hawking/artificial-intelligence_b_5174265.html)

The study of corruption

The study of corruption

“When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose.”

This curt summary of American ‘democracy’ was taken from the recent report ‘Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens’, by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page.

We as a species will turn our flagship arms of statistical analysis to politics eventually. In the future it will be shown irrefutably that the limit to corruption has only ever been the retention of a minimum level of public confidence. Broad studies will show that a politician will say anything – contradictory, sensational, smearing, damaging, dangerous, deceitful, in-compassionate, inhumane, or untrue – in the search of that public confidence. Maybe it will be shocking to some to realise that individuals they trusted have only ever sent the children of others to die in conflict in the pursuit of that goal; in the pursuit of public confidence. On the other hand those politicians that have publicly denounced a war only did that because they thought that move would win them popularity. And they would have gutted the youngest opposing combatant if the devil promised them their desired ends. In psychological terms we look to the leaders among us when we are afraid, and creating an enemy to fear, like ‘terrorism’, is a trick we have fallen for before. We must atone now for such delusion.

This report gives weight to the despairing convictions of the few who believe there is an intolerable collusion between Western politicians and the leaders of business and journalism. In the name of getting rich together they have always recruited a blend of lies, promises and hollow actions to retain confidence, mixed with a limitless campaign to influence public perception to a position most beneficial for them. Considering how staggering I find it that our species by average is still not cognizant of this problem, I can only look to those who must have seen it in the past, in even darker times, and commend their constitution.

“When you hate, you drink poison and expect the other person to die.”

“When you hate, you drink poison and expect the other person to die.”

A deeply moving and thought-provoking exchange on reddit between a grieving friend and a grieving son.

“Anyone who thinks that you can have infinite growth on a planet with finite resources is either a madman or an economist.” – David Attenborough

“Biggest obstacle to [drug policy] reform – prejudice, ignorance and irrational fear fuelled by parts of media.” – Professor David Nutt

The tyranny of the powerful is unchecked

The tyranny of the powerful is unchecked

The key point on privacy is not that you are giving up your privacy under the agreement that you could be judged by the standards of our greatest philosophies of ethics, like the promotion of human well being and the protection of autonomy, but instead that you are surrendering your privacy and allowing yourself to be judged by the US state, or other bodies of power. And these powers have shown us that they will act in whichever way is most beneficial to them, with the only constraint being a limitation to what they think they can get away with. That has included actions that should be an outrage to any person of conscience – the smearing of nuclear power to protect the profits of the oil industry at the potential expense of our future is one of too many examples to even begin to touch on.

How many innocent children must be maimed or killed by the cold strikes of unheard drones without trial in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Afghanistan.. and others before people will stop endowing these political tyrants with power? The general population listens to the ‘explanations’ of these wicked men and women, who cite a logically insupportable (but influential) connection to our fears and prejudices; we listen with an air of servility, fantasy and delusion that I find almost indefinably contemptible. Without any venom; I merely find it is the source of utter despair.

(http://www.ted.com/talks/edward_snowden_here_s_how_we_take_back_the_internet) – Edward Snowden: Here’s how we take back the internet.

(https://firstlook.org/theintercept/article/2014/02/10/the-nsas-secret-role/) – Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald’s revealing article on the American drone assassination programme.

“The human mind has at no period accepted a moral chaos; and so preposterous a result was not strictly conceivable. But we are frightened at much that is not strictly conceivable.” – George Eliot, from Middlemarch

Our evidence, now, is increasingly damning

Our evidence, now, is increasingly damning

I must say, it is great relief to me that naive trust in our leaders is finally becoming a topic of public question. Our hopes of continuing as a species are threatened, as much by anything else, by the blind faith we bestow in politicians, journalists and all perceived figures of intellectual authority. There really are intellectual authorities we should be listening to, but the truths they stand for – like an uncompromising critique of ourselves; an understanding of our own fallibility – these truths, like all truths, are so often obscured by what we want to believe.

It should be looked on with great shame that we have complied so willingly in cementing the power of leaders who fall, ethically, so immeasurably short. We should trust nothing and no one on faith, our views should be determined through the rigours of reason alone. Like the falling tyrants of the religious hierarchy, we should believe the most cautiously those who gain power from our trust. I hope that when this debate is viewed in retrospect the link between ignorant faith and the unconscionable actions of our leaders is unmistakably clear. The power has always been with the people. It is only by a small abstraction that that power is harnessed by those who can influence the masses. It is fair to say we have been tricked more than twice.

What I mean is that I hope the list of policies that have been sold to the public, so often founded on conjecture, lies, fantasy and fear, I hope those policies come to ring like a siren in our minds. A reminder of the evil we were complicit in because we were too trusting. To any who believe that mass surveillance, for example, is really an initiative to protect us from ‘terrorism’; think how the US state reacted to its uncovering. It is typical now that we are being asked by them to believe a lie. They are asking us to believe that this secret project was all in our interest, that, so committed to protecting us they were, they were willing even to pass up on credit for doing their jobs. When has a politician ever done their job without crassly detailing each facet of their success at every public opportunity? And yet, as Obama smiles and charms, too much faith remains. The surveillance programme is an instrument of power. An immense one.

This current adolescence of our civilised history must be looked back on with the stone face of wisdom, a wisdom cognizant of the suffering, oppression and injustice we have allowed. A wisdom that has taken far too long to mature. If we can define publicly the ways in which our leaders are failing us, then we will be educating our collective. A more educated collective could amass the voting power to elect ethically acceptable leaders. Even the standards of mainstream journalism could rise if the cost of blind faith was understood more clearly.

(http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/13/us-un-human-rights-abuses-nsa-drones)

“And certainly, the mistakes that we male and female mortals make when we have our own way might fairly raise some wonder that we are so fond of it.” – George Eliot, from Middlemarch

“Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.” – Bruce Lee

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