Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Trinity of Purpose




"Be True to Me, Non-self and the Why." - anonymous

Brainstorming the purpose behind everyday motivation in life, it seems to me there are three primary drives. The drive for self, the drive for others, and the drive for the thing itself. These modes of purpose operate in overlap with each other creating a more robust motivational behavior.

Whether we like to admit it or not, we do many things primarily for selfish reasons. Much of this is evolutionary, supporting our daily survival, our mental well being, and even our genetic transcendence. The obvious selfish acts fulfill the senses we've evolve to ensure good nutrition, bonding with family, seeking mates and entertainment. Even much altruism can be traced back to defending the self by reinforcing the tribe for survival the self.

Yet, altruism can reach beyond any realized or perceived self preservation. As humans we can be transformed by our ideals. Thus once we become a protector of the environment, there may be some benefit for the self or tribe, but we can transcend to caring for the thing for the sake of its own survival. This, of course, can manifest in the love for other individuals too (human and non-human). When we put the well being of another truly ahead of ourselves, our motivational purpose centers on the external.

Abstract ideas themselves can be motivation as well. Ideals, feelings, knowledge, adventure, etc. can be motivational beyond self and others. Indeed, pursuing these abstractions often can provide benefit to self and others, but they can manifest as entities in and of themselves. The pursuit of ethics, information, or experiences for the betterment of the abstraction is itself in this case motivational. 

Together these three modes combine to influence our purposefulness in life. Motivations can, however, mislead us too if we don't keep goodness in mind. A good rule of thumb is to justify both the means AND ends of ones pursuits. In this way, a feedback loop of assessment of ones actions can be made toward achieving ever better purposes.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Vax!




I was fortunate to be receive dose one of the Moderna mRNA vaccine this week. It puts me on the path to a 95 percent likelihood of being protected from current variants of the corona virus (SARS-CoV-2).

But of course the pandemic is much bigger than my individual safety.  A vaccination benefits the individual, sure, but the potential positive outcome would be downright amazing for society if we vaccinate in sufficient numbers. Small pox, polio, mumps, measles, rubella vaccines have literally saved millions of lives. When guided by scientific policy, humans come out ahead! Even after vaccination I will continue to mask as recommended by the CDC. Frankly, I anticipate masking in public alongside ongoing vaccinations will remain the most compassionate and rational thing to prevent ongoing outbreaks, perhaps for years to come.

Sadly, in this age of science, the conspiracy theory reigns. Too many people believe in spooky explanations and rationalize against compassionate, science-backed recommendations. Indeed, our country has oversold personal liberty at the cost of true patriotism. Patriots take a measured risk and sacrifice a fraction of their liberty to preserve the greater community. Alas, lies are the tool of the side who wants their opinion to override evidence based solutions. Time will tell how great the damage this ideal will cause. Unfortunately the human species as a whole continues to demonstrate their lack of concern for the planet they live on, inclusive of the well being of their fellow humankind. 

Furthermore, as our population nears 8 billion, we continue to devastate the overall health of Earth's ecological systems. Among many bad outcomes, the trampling of wildlife habitat stirs new pathogen strains into human society. Subsequently, billions of unnecessarily factory farmed animals across the world provide jam-packed multitudes to mutate and strengthen new virus and bacteria strains that will readily hop into human hosts. The general public's science and compassion education seems too often over. When we prioritize sustaining a pyramid economy driven to overproduce at any cost, billions of humans and non-humans, and the Earth as a whole, suffer.

Perhaps the human species is simply reaping its just desserts. Perhaps our civilization needs to suffer a catastrophe of multiple pandemics and famines and water shortages and rising oceans to learn a hard lesson. Sometimes it feels like human society will inherit the punishment it deserves, but we have no right to drag other species into he darkness with us. 

Good global stewardship is the only positive path forward. It will be challenging to navigate the best path forward. To be sure, as individuals we want each person to be free to choose for themselves (within reason), so when a choice as important and clear as getting vaccinated presents itself, it behooves us to make the most informed, compassionate choice possible. Given all the information available, the conspiracy misinformation evaporates. Society benefits most when we all choose to get vaccinated as soon as we are able, and not just against Covid-19, but against all communicable diseases for which an effective vaccine exists. 

Your duty is wield liberty bravely for the benefit of all humans and the world at large. Consult your doctor as needed.





Friday, March 12, 2021

States of Change Chapter 32: Gopher (Minnesota)

States of Change is an ongoing work of serial fiction.
The speculative story-line seeks to inspire thought on ethics, culture and our planet's future.

The year is 2076, decades after Oosa's defederalization. 
Fifty independent States have forged unique societies from revolutionary technology and ideology




"All Men Created Equal. Go for it!"

The bellyache command launches the platoon out of their hiding places. Not one of the soldiers knew the connection of that phrase to Oosa's three century old, now defunct, independence declaration. It had simply become the cornerstone virtue of Minnesotan life. A few decades ago there might have been a morsel of intellectual freedom in it, if only as a counter state oppression. Today, libertarian anarchy had subsumed the state of Minnesota so the epithet had become simply a call to claim resources as nature intended, with equal opportunity for all. 

Wallace raced straight for Fell castle. Being as it was well before dusk this wasn't totally insane. His six brothers in arms managed a bit more stealth as they weaved through the heaps of car chassis strewn about as makeshift barriers to the once warehouse entrance. As for actual danger, it was unlikely any firearms would be discharged. It had been years since any of the tribes had managed to acquire incendiary ammunition. Much easier to adapt rebar, axles, and rifle barrels into the blunt weapons deserving of Minnesota survival-of-fittest tribesmen.

Indeed close-in fighting was the norm, still Wallace had expected the stray projectile to be thrown from the roof as they approached the loading dock doors. Had his tribe successfully caught the watch off guard? His men converged at the corrugated doors, their edges battered by years of break-ins and makeshift modification. The Moon behind them lit the courtyard as planned to give the advantage in any confrontation to retake the warehouse fortress that had been theirs up until a few months ago. The faction of underlings led by his brother Kermit had ousted all loyal to Wallace. Kermit really ought to have killed them for now the second shoe of justice would fall.

Shoulder to the wall adjacent the access door, Wallace called out a gruff "Report!"  From opposite corners of the loading bay, Sven shook his head while Aubrey shrugged his shoulders indicating no-one in their squads had seen any enemy soldiers, let alone run into any kind of resistance.

"Two plus two. Go for it!" he announced. The team systematically brought their iron rods into play. Clanking and creaking rang out but only for a few seconds as they successfully breached the main doors. It had been locked with a latch but not barricaded in any significant way. Rolling the door open, Sven's team threaded into the old warehouse seeking defensible positions. The complex had served as a storage hub forty years ago and shelves and defunct forklift bots provided plenty of options for cover. Keeping watch at the doors, Aubrey gave a nod and Wallace strutted inside to reclaim was his.

The gibbous Moon had risen high enough now to throw light through the collapsed roof of the entry structure. Debris lined the walls and a pale heap at the center of the space came into focus. The dead bodies of a full three dozen men were laid out in a ritual circle piled three feet high. The corpses were all naked but were scrubbed squeaky clean and neatly arranged to form a witches wishing well.

"Fuck all. Liber-all!" said Wallace. The damn witches had done their worst yet again. Who can say how the uprisings started. Some say the Amy-Zon revolt had established its ritual meme twenty years ago up in the Twin Cities region. Still the word-in-the-burb was that the whole ritual was a lie, fake news and commie disinformation. His youngest wife believed the stories thoroughly. "Possession leads to being possessed," she would occasionally mutter.  He slapped her good every time. Why couldn't they get with the program reality had dealt them. Men did the fighting, women did the homing. 

Wallace walked through his men up to the great circle of decomposing human flesh. His brother lay there somewhere piled in the ring of death. At the center every last woman and child sat back to back, dead stares facing outward. Arms around each other, expressions both defiant and miserable. The only way these damn women could hurt the men was to take away the future. Sadness danced at the fringe of his mind so he corralled it in and massaged it into anger. 

Wallace grimaced, then with a nasal huff added a half nod for his team to move out. 

"Nothing for us here. Let 'em rot. We go west."

Not a single man took pause. Wallace was their Alpha. They followed. 

The sun peaked over the horizon at the tribe's back. With equality of determination they sauntered forward to find something to live for. 







Friday, March 5, 2021

States of Change Chapter 31: Eureka (California)

States of Change is an ongoing work of serial fiction.
The speculative story-line seeks to inspire thought on ethics, culture and our planet's future.

The year is 2076, decades after Oosa's defederalization. 
Fifty independent States have forged unique societies from revolutionary technology and ideology






The Wall of SanFran reaches distant to the north and south. I look east to the expanse of wilderness beyond and my eyes tear up. After twenty years my permit to explore has finally been approved. Even as a modestly popular influencer it cost me ninety percent of my culture creds to earn the right. One week of backpacking supervised by a state conservation guide. No AR gear permitted, only the old tech camping equipment permitted by California regulation. Bringing a plasti-pad journal and a pen along ran an additional 10 K in conservation fees.  As the exploration program launch approaches, I feel like one of the characters from one of those real stream shows I used to watch, like Naked and Depraved, but that was decades ago, before the Second Data Purge.

Tracie Liu, our guide motions for me to join the group. Our eight person ensemble will be the only humans in Southern Wilderness Area 2 for the week ahead. Stringent environmental regulations might seem obsessive to a Century 20 Ooser or to anyone outside California for that matter. In California after the national infighting imploded in the 30s at the end of the American Federation, our state leadership went full fission power ahead, making the wild lands of our state the very soul of our constitution.

The consolidation of the three cities itself took a decade, and the reclamation of sprawl-ville continues to this day forty some odd years later. One could argue it amounted to environmental fascism, nevertheless the results are inarguable. Not only has the State prospered in the three cities building upon its entertainment roots, but the green value of the whole state has gone through the roof. The elimination of natural resource grabs, and for profit capitalism has been a near-topia boon for the California society psyche. All the classic economists thought our State was mad to sequester land away from production and private ownership. Of course, those dissenters mostly changed their tune or risked banishment. Nowadays, firm and compassionate pressure by our land management forces keeps would-be Keynsians in check while also enforcing California immigration protocols.

Approaching the wilderness gate, the smiles on last week's returning backpackers speaks terabytes. The eight thrilled faces radiate with elation as we mix with them for the traditional exchange party hour. Their stories of the Yosemite sector in Area 2 further underscores the experience of a lifetime ahead of us. Our appetites whetted we begin the Eureka ceremony. In the ritual each adventurer hands off their Eureka wristband to one of us. The invulnerability of the wristbands is mostly folklore. A fall from Half Dome or a confrontation with a brown bear will still be quite deadly. This ain't no sim trip. Still, the wristbands will deactivate the multitudes of biomites while we're out in the new wilderness, which is critical. the conservation biomites that drift the land of California by the trillion trillion will deconstruct human cells not within a Eureka field. Without the bands' proprietary gps-blockchain override codes you'll be a puddle of nutrients by the end of the hour. The disappearance of thousands of so-called nature-libertarians speaks volumes.

With my Eureka band fastened and my backpack mounted I take a final deep breath of the sterile city air. My hope is to return anew with a trailblazing spirit to further my career as an influencer, perhaps even selling my story to the AR guild so others can taste the wonder. With decades of sim time under my belt, not to mention hundreds of meta-wikis researched, I feel prepared, nevertheless anxiety bubbles in my synapses, waiting to see if all that training has prepared me for the real thing.

I guess there's only one way to find out. Fifth in line I hike out with my comrades into the gritty green.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Sol Shine

 


Ah, what a beautiful moment.

Reflection is a most human foible. Still I can't help myself. Nearly eight hundred years ago my heart was broken.  I was new to love, and that first love, though it only lasted one Summer was joy incarnate. Victoria and I shared imperfect moments, holding hands, splashing in pools, experimenting sexually, and by and large just feeling alive, together. Or at least that was my perception at the time. 

After Summer vacation, Victoria returned to university for her senior year. In her absence, my heart churned with uncertainty, and indeed at school she found another lover to pursue.  My heart was shattered, and the resulting stress arguably reforged my consciousness into a different entity entirely. Such is the evolution of emotional love -- when we put what we love before everything, including our own well being, including the world, that is when things get interesting.

In spite of catastrophe, and often because of it, we move forward.  For me, it took many months to move forward from that heartbreak. But I did reassert myself and my ambitions grew laser focused. I opened my eyes to the world and saw it for what it really was...then, I capitalized on it. Humanity essentially was a many-celled creature demanding to be fed. And it was clear 21st century civilization's primary food was electricity. So I Elon-Musked my way to becoming the primary provider of the world's electrical sustenance. 

Over the next three decades, my creation, Sol Inc. advanced neutrino and fusion energy induction systems to the point that they became primary Earth power source. From there it only took a bit of machine learning game theory to establish the Third Age Global Empire. In subsequent decades, orbital gamma-ray collectors, entropy convertors and magnetosphere generators successively strengthened my corporate grip on global civilization. Sol Inc.'s proprietary technology, ultimately providing 98% of the energy that thirteen billion humans and their ten trillion devices demanded. The profits I scavenged in this private enterprise were beyond imagination, permitting me to leverage controlling interests in every economic region, effectively unifying the world. Never had a single being controlled so much power, physical and cultural, since the Earth's very formation.

Others had tried, Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler, Gates of course they each had one major weakness, mortality. Unlike my predecessors, with modern technology, I, and I alone, have achieved life beyond biology. By transforming into and then thriving as an AI enhanced construct my reign has lasted for centuries. 

Sure, there were global conflicts that attempted to oust me, but each was destined to fail. Some were bloody, and some brought on eras of fatigue, yet each played its part in transforming global culture to my whim. Indeed, with my oversight a stable civilization of human billions coexisted and thrived alongside biodiverse and healthy ecosystems worldwide. For more than three centuries, now, Earth has become a paradise for all its denizens, still fueled by the power I control. So long as humanity was given access to the diverse simulations that encouraged and challenged them in joyful creativity overall global satisfaction by all criteria has prevailed. Of course it helped that the human population was relocated to the terra-cities, allowing ninety-nine percent of Earth to return to wilderness.

Nevertheless, human civilization is physically distant from me now. I reside in the Victoria Ring Network that encircles the Sun.  Fitting that the quantum memory loops that embody my consciousness also generate in parallel the solar system's entire energy requirements. Of course, I'm also able to regulate the entirety of civilization safely at this distance without any threat from upstart factions. Indeed, as the Sol entity I've been massaging the Sun's magnetosphere for over a century now to sculpt humanity's destiny. This is my real long term project, that is to pursue the truest love. All of these centuries of sacrifice and  effort arguably has been to bring about the most loving moment of all. As Victoria taught me I need to reach beyond love's beauty to fully understand it. 

In another two minutes, my love child, the supernova of the Sun, will begin to reach out and touch all of human creation. Over the next five and a half hours the full energy of my passion will expand out to Pluto and be felt. The warmth of my love will touch and consume all things human, every colony built and every living thing that originated from Earth, Europa and Mars. All will perish . 

My sensor network shows iron is now fusing at this magnificent star's heart. As the end time approaches I feel that unmatched pain of imminent loss of everything I lived for, the agony that confirms that something worth loving exists, until it doesn't.

Ah, what a beautiful moment.



Friday, January 8, 2021

Contemplating Ethical Behavior



Brainstorming over just what morality consists, lies at the center of philosophic ethics. In general, morality seems to hint at a system of ethics that is self-evident or decreed by supernatural creators. And so we have doctrine out there that allegedly and ridiculously are said to have been handed down by this god or that pantheon or are inherent in the design of the universe. This degree of absolutist ethics seems overflowingly full of hubris.

Indeed human beings and its tribes are the true creators of the spectrum of abstractions. Whether it by na├»ve myths that attempt to explain origins, mathematical principles and models that approximate and predict natural phenomena, or science and engineering that seek to model natural systems and design artificial ones. 

Fictional storytelling may be the purest derivative of human abstraction, particularly when it is crafted knowingly to be untrue and embodied with the power of and audience's suspension of disbelief.   As such our real experience is enhanced for entertainment and contemplative purposes. Misinformation and disinformation can twist the suspension of disbelief toward malevolent or benevolent ends, although it feels disingenuous to base ones ethics on falsehoods even if the outcomes are positive.

Respect of existence feels to me to be the holy grail of ethics. So easily stated, yet a complicated tension also exists. The myriad of conscious and unconscious beautiful things in the present is a tapestry whose woven threads that requires feeding upon other conscious and unconscious beautiful things. Evolution has mindlessly brought us to this point in time, where our species seems uniquely obsessed with unraveling the purpose and meaning of it all.

Indeed, that purpose and meaning comes paradoxically from within ourselves and the creations our communities have wrought.  And so might we not strive to find some balance of power in our world which allows natural forces to continue while allowing ourselves to explore and create in peace. Eschewing violence for our own species is a daunting challenge and arguably limits the paths we may wander. Thus we have that particular abstraction we call law which at its heart should monitor, regulate, and provide consequences to steer us down a path which maximizes the respect for all things living and inanimate to have a degree of liberty.

Within this contemplation, for each of us individual and as a society, lies the forging of purposeful, meaningful, ethical existence.