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Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

Soren Kierkegaard

The way we understand the past is the way we understand the future. The future is lit indirectly, by imagination, as if by moonlight.

Perception cannot escape the relativity of POV. Every story can be traced back to its author and their personal story. Every background has a background. Every measurement suppresses or ignores other measures in order to capture its sample of reality. Every given limits what can be given as it dutifully fulfills its own prophecy. Continue reading

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Humans are in a symbiotic relationship with another species. Without this relationship, modern people would not exist.

The only thing that really separates us from other species is our shapeshifting survival strategy. Most animals have a survival strategy that sets like concrete into a virtual job description. The job description includes what food you eat, how you acquire it, how you shelter, mate, and raise young: A strategy.

Survival strategies are like an idea that grows into an organism. The organism fully commits to the idea by adapting; physically becoming the technology (the claws, teeth, running muscles, etc.) needed for the job. These adaptations improve success within the strategy but it’s like evolving into a corner. It’s like gambling the house on your betting system.

Humanity substitutes tools for adaptations, we don’t morph into a specialized form and narrow down. Tool use isn’t exactly what separates us though. There are numerous “generalist” species such as birds and other primates that cleverly use tools. The difference is that these species are elegantly solving problems posed by tasks in their job description and surviving better as a result, but never innovating to the extent of “leveling up” to a different job.

We have a sort of default simple job of walking around in a group picking up food. We have a second sense for noticing useful stuff and trying it. It’s as simple as understanding that that stick will help us knock down more fruit. When faced with more complicated problems like catching fish, we try all sorts of half-assed ideas before getting a flash of insight like damming up the far end of the pool in the stream to trap the fish for easier capture. Continue reading

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I began meditating a few months back and it feels very positive, even transformative. That feeling is backed up empirically.

There are a number of interesting published studies on the effects of meditation but these two are amazing! Both have high strength of evidence. The titles below link to the full articles. Here’s the nutshell summary:

  1. Long term meditation alters brain anatomy in positive ways, such as larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of gray matter
  2. Meditation and yoga can rewrite our DNA and alter the gene expression of enduring trauma and stress correlates

Continue reading

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Tardigrades, known colloquially as water bears or moss piglets, are a phylum of water-dwelling eight-legged segmented micro-animals. He may be scratching his back just like bears do with trees or he may be temporarily stuck to the little bubble because of surface tension, the physics of the microbial world are very different than those of our daily life.

They are one of the most structurally complex organisms of their size. They have brains, nerves, and even simple eyespots. That might not seem like much, but they are so tiny that amoebas are a mouthful to them, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for extra parts.

These little guys are believed to have survived every major extinction event on Earth. There’s more Tardigrade fun over here! (slightly NSFW)

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I intended this as a 4 part series, to be read in sequence. That plan failed. Here’s the solution to a very small problem that no one knew they had.

This is a story about a being a naive, selfish asshole who learns to love…badly at first, through several icky flavors of codependency, before finally seeing the truth of loving and being loved. This is a big read and I wouldn’t expect anyone to tackle it unless they felt a need to. The pictures are linked.

Naked 1: Base Camp

“I’m being transparent here about my many failures because you can only recognize something you’re acquainted with. The only way to tell this truth is naked and the only way to understand it is naked. The only way to use this truth is without shame and without defensive denials. When you fight it, it loses the power to free you. That’s why I’m being transparent here, to provide a “no fucks given” example.”

Naked 2: The Rise and Fall of Lizard Boy

“…I didn’t understand that being loved can’t fix the belief that you don’t deserve love. It just makes you uncomfortable. If you meet your ideal love and you can’t accept what they are offering, that’s a tragedy, not a dream come true. Find the antidote, heal the wound, then seek love.”

Naked 3: Wasting Everyone’s Time

“Most people who avoid and destroy intimacy in these stupid ways aren’t awful, mostly they are trying and failing. For every narcissist there a thousand inept, self-sabotaging, frightened seekers. This behavioral mess is just what it looks like when people seek joy but neither believe in joy nor experience it. It’s Sisyphus going up the hill with candy and flowers.”

Naked 4: Wake The Fuck Up!

“…From inside, co-dependency seems like a titanic battle of wills between two unique individuals, starkly silhouetted against an angry red sunset. From the outside, it’s just a couple of numbskulls trapped in a machine and too stupid to leave. It’s the Three Stooges slapping each other on an infinite loop.”

 

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Not my writing or source. I thought their title was a bit much and rewrote it in Hugh language. This is an intriguing step toward creative innovation in artificial intelligence. To this point AI creativity has been sleight of hand, working within the “variety tolerances” of very complex algorithms. This is an interesting innovation but just the beginning.

And as usual, let’s hope they don’t kill us all.

Computers Evolve a New Path Toward Human Intelligence

Jeff Clune / Quanta Magazine

In 2007, Kenneth Stanley, a computer scientist at the University of Central Florida, was playing with Picbreeder, a website he and his students had created, when an alien became a race car and changed his life. On Picbreeder, users would see an array of 15 similar images, composed of geometric shapes or swirly patterns, all variations on a theme. On occasion, some might resemble a real object, like a butterfly or a face. Users were asked to select one, and they typically clicked on whatever they found most interesting. Once they did, a new set of images, all variations on their choice, would populate the screen. From this playful exploration, a catalog of fanciful designs emerged…

…One day Stanley spotted something resembling an alien face on the site and began evolving it, selecting a child and grandchild and so on. By chance, the round eyes moved lower and began to resemble the wheels of a car. Stanley went with it and evolved a spiffy-looking sports car. He kept thinking about the fact that if he had started trying to evolve a car from scratch, instead of from an alien, he might never have done it, and he wondered what that implied about attacking problems directly. “It had a huge impact on my whole life,” he said. He looked at other interesting images that had emerged on Picbreeder, traced their lineages, and realized that nearly all of them had evolved by way of something that looked completely different. “Once I saw the evidence for that, I was just blown away.”

Read on: Link to the article 

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