Thursday, July 25, 2013

Singularity and the New-Normal

Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.

So began Vernor Vinge’s now-infamous presentation titled: The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era …at the VISION-21 Symposium held on March 30th, 1993 (A slightly changed version appeared in the Winter 1993 issue of Whole Earth Review). The renowned science fiction writer, professor of mathematics (retired) and computer scientist went on to say…

“The acceleration of technological progress has been the central feature of this century. We are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth. The precise cause of this change is the imminent creation by technology of entities with greater than human intelligence. There are several means by which science may achieve this breakthrough…

1) There may be developed computers that are "awake" and superhumanly intelligent. To date, there has been much controversy as to whether we can create human equivalence in a machine. But if the answer is "yes, we can", then there is little doubt that beings more intelligent can be constructed shortly thereafter. (AI)

2) Large computer networks and their associated users may "wake up" as a superhumanly intelligent entity. (World Wide Web)
3) Computer/human interfaces may become so intimate that users may reasonably be considered superhumanly intelligent. (Transhumanism)

4) Biological science may provide means to improve natural human intellect.” (Intelligence Increase - I)

At this point, all four of Vinge’s scenarios seem quite viable, if not quite likely. Currently, computer driven artificial intelligence (AI) has progressed to the brink of Vinge’s impending technological singularity.

Simply stated, singularity is the moment when machine intelligence surpasses human intelligence. Although this proposition is frightening to many, it is humanity's evolutionary and technological success that has brought us to this crossroads. As our computer networks gain more (human-like) ability and assume more mundane responsibility, humanity too continues to evolve greater capacity.

If an AI or a computer network becomes capable of intelligence that is comparable in sophistication to that of a human, humanity too must move beyond our current limitations. Like AI, we too must cross our own human-singularity threshold.

Paranormal: the New Normal

Throughout history, there have been many individuals who possess extra-ordinary capabilities. Up to this point, these abilities have been viewed with fear and skepticism. In the distant past, these abilities were considered magical or mystical. More recently, these extra-ordinary human faculties have been labeled… paranormal. The word Paranormal is a general term that designates human experiences that are indicative of phenomena considered to be outside of science's current ability to explain.

Taking the evolutionary next step, crossing the human-singularity threshold requires humanity to fully embrace these capabilities that have historically been considered paranormal by the general populace. In a world of globally networked AI, what has heretofore been labeled paranormal must become the new normal. Human capability must evolve beyond our current limitations, if for no other reason that to anticipate and prevent a “Rise of the Machines” nightmare scenario, ala the Terminator franchise… from actually coming to pass. We have to stay smarter than our machines, folks.

Staying ahead of the machines is not only a prerequisite for survival of our species; it is the primary challenge of the twenty-first century. We must keep a handle on the “high weirdness” that is our Brave New Future. What was once considered fringe theory is fast becoming reality... as the paranormal morphs into the new normal. Such is the nature of the new paradigm.

It is a strange world we live in… and the truth is stranger than fiction. We owe it to ourselves (and our kids) to monitor and control our Popular Future in such a way as to insure not only survival, but a healthy and happy near-future. We must evolve and grow into the twenty-first century humanity by developing so-called paranormal abilities, such as extra-sensory perception, pre-cognition, telekinesis and… our favorite… psychometry. The wide-spread development of paranormal ability is what will keep us one step ahead of the machines. Don’t look back… something might be gaining on you.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Travelogue: on expedition @ the Oregon Country Fair

If you're traveling… in the north country fair
Where the winds hit heavy… on the borderline
Remember me… to one who lives there
For she was once… a true love of mine
- from “Girl from the North Country” by Bob Dylan

The “Oregon Hippie Scene” is alive and well in Veneta, Oregon (just outside of Eugene… home of the U of O and the mighty Ducks). Each summer, on the second weekend of July, the Tribes gather in the Pacific Northwest for the Oregon Country Fair. The OCF has been a psychedelic, vaudevillian timebomb that has exploded in day-glow brilliance in the very heart of the Willamette valley, for the last 44 years.
The Oregon Country Fair is held in a 280 acre wooded fairy glen, along a meandering black, muddy river known as the Long Tom. Nestled within the woods and meadows are miles of winding footpaths with over 700 artisan and food booths and 18 different performance stages. Lurking in the wooded shadows, one will find a wild assortment of magicians, jugglers, gypsy fortune tellers, fauns, satyrs and wood nymphs.
Like Prometheus, our field operative, Jack Heart …went on assignment into the “belly of the beast” to steal the magic fire that is the OCF, and bring it back to the delight and wonder of all the intrepid readers of this blog. What follows is a picto-travelogue of this amazing festival.

the main stage
toward the main stage

"video" game at the fair
 toward the community village
 in between performances at the main stage
 along the path
Here are some bonus pictures, not of Jack Heart's camera... 


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Navigating the Apocalypse 1.6 – Babylon Revisited.


Like the “Summer of Love” in the United States… the Egyptian “Arab Spring” has proven to be a popular and pivotal, albeit brief moment in that Nation’s collective consciousness. The peaceful outpouring of the Egypt’s “wired” youth… the spontaneous collective call for liberty… the mass condemnation of tyranny that erupted in Tahrir Square in Cairo back in 2011 (See: Navigating the Apocalypse 1.4 - Revolution in Babylon) has been nothing short of globally transformative.
The subsequent ousting of then-president Hosni Mubarak (Muhammad Hosni El Sayed Mubarak), followed by national elections and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi (Mohamed Mursi Isa al-Ayyat), who assumed the presidency in June of 2012, turned out to be merely the next chapter in this amazing narrative of revolution.
Amid accusations that president Morsi commandeered the Egyptian political process by installing a constitution created solely by the Muslim Brotherhood (while ignoring other political factions) the Egyptian people once again took to the streets. Other major grievances voiced in mass across Egypt included the fact that there appeared to be no recall referendum mechanism in Morsi’s hastily drafted constitution.
In supposed response to this latest popular uprising, the Egyptian military staged a bold and successful coup d'état. Currently, the fate of Mohamed Morsi is unknown. He is reportedly being sequestered in a presidential guard facility, while senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood are being rounded up by the military. With the deposing of the first democratically elected government, it appears that Egyptian people are living through a real-world version of “The Empire Strikes Back.” Once again, life imitates art.
As of this posting, violent clashes between the military and an outraged Muslim Brotherhood continue… and the death toll continues to rise.
Time will tell as to the overt outcome of the current geo-political intrigues in Egypt. But while the pro Muslim Brotherhood protesters rage in the streets of Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt, while television cameras are trained on Tahrir Square, while the world is focused upon this most recent news cycle… profound and far-reaching events are quietly transpiring and quickly fading into momentary obscurity.


The summer of love was thought to be a passing fad, a momentary meme in the annals of American pop culture. Although the summer of love quickly devolved into disco fury, which was promptly answered by punk, followed by yuppies, gen x, grunge, etc… a very potent psychedelic seed was planted in 1967. The impact of that amazing summer continues to expand, rippling across the still waters of time and merging… intertwining with the very fabric of American culture. The repercussions of which continue to grow… to this very day.
It can be argued that without the psychedelic movement of the ‘60s, there would have been no personal computing revolution of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Wizards of Silicon Valley, such as Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, placed great importance on the influence that the psychedelic movement had in their creative lives. Personal computing led directly to the mobile (cell) phone revolution of the last decade, which led to the contemporary social media revolution. Social media, in turn, has proven invaluable in the organization of mass demonstrations such as those occurring in Tahrir Square, even as we speak.
Just as with the summer of love, circa 1967, Egypt’s Arab spring, circa 2011 is fast being overlooked as the cultural turning point that it is. Events within our globally intact new paradigm seem to be emerging with ever-increasing rapidity. The situation continues to be desperate as usual. New geo-political developments, such as events in Syria and Turkey, obscure and eclipse the birth of the Arab Spring.

However, of all the modern expressions of freedom over tyranny, beginning with Tiananmen Square, none are more symbolically indicative, more iconic than Egypt’s Tahrir Square. The actions taken by the peoples of Egypt in 2011, is the epitome… the very face of what popular democracy will look like, as we move forward into the 21st century. Even as it recedes into our near-past, it will stand out as the gold standard of peaceful political transformation in the decades to come.

Already this new political paradigm is duplicating… virus-like… across the planet. Protesters in Brazil mimic the successful tactics of Tahrir Square. The tools of social media become a great equalizer in organizing an aware and activist populace. Like a fractal, media-driven freedom movements expand outward... duplicating, not exactly… but organically… to the farthest reaches of earth.

And the beauty of it is… there is nothing the already-antiquated “New World Order” can do about it. The old paradigm crumbles before the might that is Tahrir Square. The Djinn is out of the bottle, and there is no putting it back. Fitting analogy… the djinn… the ancient spirit of Araby. So if this new power that is sweeping the earth… emanating from the Arab Spring… holds any of the magick of the ancient Arabian spirit… the let us ask of it, three wishes…

 Liberty, Love & Light!
The complete series may be viewed at the links below...

Friday, July 5, 2013

R. Buckminster Fuller, renaissance man

"Intuition operates in the twilight zone between
conscious and subconscious."
 -Bucky Fuller
R. Buckminster Fuller was a renowned 20th century inventor and visionary born in Milton, Massachusetts on July 12, 1895. Dedicating his life to making the world work for all of humanity, Fuller operated as a practical philosopher who demonstrated his ideas as inventions that he called “artifacts.” Fuller did not limit himself to one field but worked as a 'comprehensive anticipatory design scientist' to solve global problems surrounding housing, shelter, transportation, education, energy, ecological destruction, and poverty. Throughout the course of his life Fuller held 28 patents, authored 28 books, received 47 honorary degrees. And while his most well know artifact, the geodesic dome, has been produced over 300,000 times worldwide, Fuller's true impact on the world today can be found in his continued influence upon generations of designers, architects, scientists and artists working to create a more sustainable planet.


Geodesic Domes
R. Buckminster Fuller spent much of the early 20th Century looking for ways to improve human shelter by applying modern technological know-how to shelter construction, making shelter more comfortable and efficient, and making shelter available to a greater number of people.
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Synergetics is the system of holistic thinking which R. Buckminster Fuller introduced and began to formulate. Synergetics is multi-faceted: it involves geometric modeling, exploring inter-relationships in the facts of experience and the process of thinking.
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Dymaxion World
At the heart of Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion concept is the idea that rational action in a rational world demands the most efficient overall performance per unit of input. His Dymaxion structures, then are those that yield the greatest possible efficiency in terms of available technology.
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World Game
In the 1960's Buckminster Fuller proposed a “great logistics game” and “world peace game” (later shortened to simply, the “World Game”) that was intended to be a tool that would facilitate a comprehensive, anticipatory, design science approach to the problems of the world.