Sunday, April 30, 2006

How urgently the world needs a bright view (2) - What is Enlightenment?

It couldn’t be said better – each word as true and important as 200 years ago...

An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?

Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another. Sapere Aude! [dare to know] "Have courage to use your own understanding!"--that is the motto of enlightenment.

Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why so great a proportion of men, long after nature has released them from alien guidance (natura-liter maiorennes), nonetheless gladly remain in lifelong immaturity, and why it is so easy for others to establish themselves as their guardians. It is so easy to be immature. If I have a book to serve as my understanding, a pastor to serve as my conscience, a physician to determine my diet for me, and so on, I need not exert myself at all. I need not think, if only I can pay: others will readily undertake the irksome work for me. The guardians who have so benevolently taken over the supervision of men have carefully seen to it that the far greatest part of them (including the entire fair sex) regard taking the step to maturity as very dangerous, not to mention difficult. Having first made their domestic livestock dumb, and having carefully made sure that these docile creatures will not take a single step without the go-cart to which they are harnessed, these guardians then show them the danger that threatens them, should they attempt to walk alone. Now this danger is not actually so great, for after falling a few times they would in the end certainly learn to walk; but an example of this kind makes men timid and usually frightens them out of all further attempts.

Thus, it is difficult for any individual man to work himself out of the immaturity that has all but become his nature. He has even become fond of this state and for the time being is actually incapable of using his own understanding, for no one has ever allowed him to attempt it. Rules and formulas, those mechanical aids to the rational use, or rather misuse, of his natural gifts, are the shackles of a permanent immaturity. Whoever threw them off would still make only an uncertain leap over the smallest ditch, since he is unaccustomed to this kind of free movement. Consequently, only a few have succeeded, by cultivating their own minds, in freeing themselves from immaturity and pursuing a secure course.

But that the public should enlighten itself is more likely; indeed, if it is only allowed freedom, enlightenment is almost inevitable. For even among the entrenched guardians of the great masses a few will always think for themselves, a few who, after having themselves thrown off the yoke of immaturity, will spread the spirit of a rational appreciation for both their own worth and for each person's calling to think for himself. But it should be particularly noted that if a public that was first placed in this yoke by the guardians is suitably aroused by some of those who are altogether incapable of enlightenment, it may force the guardians themselves to remain under the yoke--so pernicious is it to instill prejudices, for they finally take revenge upon their originators, or on their descendants.


Immanuel Kant
Konigsberg in Prussia, 30 September 1784

(Emphasis mine)

Each word as true and important as 200 years ago? Or even more true and necessary than 200 years ago, maybe more true and necessary than ever?

Only pure chance or grim irony of fate? Playing exactly 200 years later than 1784, describing sad reality nearly everywhere on our blue Mother Earth - dismal proof of the Apex of the Gain cost function of intelligence and that humankind may have crossed it long, long ago...

George Orwell: 1984

Nothing seems to have changed since the Romans:

Homo homini lupus.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

How urgently the world needs a bright view

Some days ago i first met the Brights. RJHall visited my blog and mentioned them – i was glad to hear about, bewildered, however, by their vision:

Persons who have a naturalistic worldview should not be culturally stifled or civically marginalized due to society’s extensive supernaturalism. Rather, they ought to be accepted as fellow citizens and full participants in the cultural and political landscape.

Why bewildered? Because i wondered about being “culturally stifled or civically marginalized”. What – did i think – what? In times of quantum theory, moon flights, ISS and Darwin, naturalists should be forced to wish to be “accepted as fellow citizens”? Natural sciences move our world, invent the machines, TV, cinema and SUVs, invent computers and new weapons against cancer – even make people discuss the origin of the universe...

they are the engine, the heart of our civilization.


but then i met my mother and watched myself being silent – silent about her catholicism, which burdened my childhood because first and foremost a (wo)man has to be a believer, has to obey. That simply means that (like a female muslim or Goebbels-like german) a woman has to be a willing servant of her “head”, her husband, forced to stay with him withouth the right to demand respect and care for her and her children. That is only the “right” of God, not of a mother. But i am silent because i don’t want to hurt her. The same with the Muhammad cartoons, where most politicians and bloggers actually say, that free speech ends where religion begins. Or worse: the “Honor Killing” by fathers and brothers. Instead of dismissing them in disgrace as betrayers of deepest trust (the needed trust of children in the protection of the own family), as the biggest sin a human can do, to sell out your own daughters and sons, these murders are praised by even the women of their society. Conclusion: As if by a miracle religion can metamorphose rape, torture and murder in “worthful culture”. Don’t care about your children – God does and when he spits on girls or foreigners, on disabled or poor, don't care about. What God does is well done.


but then i watch TV – they talk and talk about the new pope and how great he is and how great the previous one was. They don’t care about the Jews, the Muslim, the Pagan or my point of view, that by fighting against birth control these popes support vehemently poverty in the countries they control – not other than any Ayatollah. IMHO it’s just blind bias to laud and magnify men who willingly support death and starvation to promote their own cause. Oh yes, they demand from others (us!) to give money to help people getting out of a mess instead of educating them to avoid overpopulation and devastation, instead of educating them to care for the future of their children. (Certainly) against better judgment the popes demand from people to behave like rabbits in Australia. Don’t care about your children – God does and when he wants to have them piled up in huge heaps, don't care about. What God does is well done.


but then i discuss on my favorite Resistance blogs about justice and read that:

Neither societies nor human behavior follow the laws of physics, and so far as I can discern, I don’t see that they involve “high intelligence” other than in some science fiction...

never ask a physicist or a philosopher their opinion on anything because they both know every thing, but they have no common sense.

They discuss about moral, justice and “human behavior” – regularly – with believers, they talk about God and his rules and laws and love seriously and patiently without doubts and questions...

but they are able to state firmly, that “Neither societies nor human behavior follow the laws of physics”, they even mock people trying to understand the world (that’s exactly the common ground of physicists and philosophers).

Are they all Creationists, all promoting Intelligent Design? How can anybody with an average brain accept Darwin AND not see, that all our behavior must “follow the laws of physics”? How could evolution create “our society” otherwise? By the touch of a magic wand, by “God's breath”?

And do you know, what the most frustrating part of the above answer was – for me? That the guy sounds so reasonable, so pragmatic, really down to earth with both feet on stable ground. As if he would never prefer to accept “un-understandable” things to decide human fate without even trying to dig for the truth, never accept chains of causes and effects ending in the obscure realm of wishes and dreams of brains, ending there, totally cut off from the foundation on which the neurons and their strategy to gather and store information depends, the foundation offering the laws to be learned and used?

Justice, moral, right or wrong – just a “chimera”, “a standard ... shift[ing] from time to time and society to society” – how could it be that clear understanding of altruism (a very moral term, i guess) can be found in human infants and even monkeys may “show sense of fairness”? Oh, yes, i know: “By the touch of a magic wand, by God's breath” works fine, while experiment, proof and contradiction is forgettable.

Anyway, i often thought about the reason, why thousands and thousands of computer scientists are not able to understand information – it’s all about “stability” aka controllability, manageability.

Stable environments are the dream of every human brain – but they are also nothing more. As much as some people want to believe in stability, the stability of their wealth, their religions, their superpower-nations, their muscles, weapons and “superior genes”, stability is nothing else than a dream, created in our own brain.

And i guess, that’s the same reason why people prefer to believe that God himself put souls and society into the heads of the naked apes by the touch of a magic wand – without needing the omnipotent, omnipresent power of the everlasting infinity of the permanent change, called “physics”.

Since one of the most significant trends in religions over the eons was the trend towards determinism, Chronos proves the true task of gods, because he was the first to overcome “time” aka Chaos, Change, Unpredictability, Indeterminability...

Uncontrollability, Unmanageability...

the fear of the Unknown, the Future is so deep rooted, so overwhelming that they prefer to be slaves of a god stronger than time. Why? Because he – having started as Caring Mother, then mutating to a Stern Father – is primarily thought to behave like parents: If you obey and be a “good child”, daddy will protect you and fix all your broken things. And since it is enough that daddy knows all the complex, dangerous stuff – you don’t have to understand anything.

Actually, IF you would understand how the world works – you would have to accept, that the only daddy you have is your real daddy, just a person like you, that your dreams can’t create gods, that your wishes can’t stop time.

And then enters again: Uncontrollability, Unmanageability, Insecurity...

It takes bravery, real bravery to stand the gift of Mother Nature – the brain, allowing us to conquer the future, thereby showing us, how complex and in-deterministic it is, how “dangerous” life is. Bravery – simply that. It takes bravery to allow your brain to work as designed.

And since many people love heroes, Supermen and Lone Rangers, mostly because they themselves aren’t that brave – bright brains have to be not only brave enough to stand reality, they also have to be able to stand tall in a sea of wishful thinking...

to fight alone against the dragon...

It is possible that mankind is on the threshold of a golden age; but, if so, it will be necessary first to slay the dragon that guards the door - Bertrand Russell

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Black Holes and High Intelligence

Black holes. Heart of the Galaxy. Superpower of destruction.

And the human brain, part of a small, fertile species, overcrowding our beautiful Blue Earth, causing the next Super-Extinction.

What do they have in common?

Both destroy information. Black holes destroy it by destroying “kind”, by destroying characteristics and attributes capable of creating identity, of being measured, therefore reducing the differentiation of states needed for the identifiability of information – while high intelligence hides the states, therefore preventing the repeatability needed for information.

Imagine communication. Communication = information processing.

Each time, communication fails, information is not processed. But destroyed?

Not each time. But there is a typical failure of communication, which may indicate that information is jeopardized or already destroyed – in case both communicating parties want to communicate, so both really try to adjust interfaces. What does that mean?

Information is repeatable and identifiable process, characterized by well defined series of well defined states. Information processing depends on that. It’s knowledge is all about memorizing the states and their interconnections. Passive processing does this by storing the knowledge about states and relations in fixed “bodies” like DNA or relational databases, active processing does this by detecting and measuring the attributes of the states and storing attributes with values – like brains or XML.

The great advantage of active over passive processing is, that active processing is able to learn, can add more and more and more intertwined states in its memory, the great disadvantage is, that this memory is perfectly and absolutely individual, perfectly unique in the whole universe.

Not a problem?

Think of the repeatability of information: each time, the initial state is entered, the same end state has to follow, that’s information. To be precise: the identical end state has to follow. That allows information processing systems to “foresee” the future, if they are able to detect informational patterns in kind and time in the linked states of their memories. Then they can “use the information”, meaning that they are able to predict the end state of the current process to decide and act based on that knowledge.

They use information – and act. They absorb energy as physical action and emit energy as physical action. And as any other transformation of energy it might result in “heat”, usually seen as “loss” because of its randomized, chaotic (aka useless) nature. Likewise the emitted physical action might no longer be information, because even the high intelligence may not be able to reproduce the decision/action. Why? Because memories of active intelligence are dynamical models of the world outside. Each new experience offers new states and new relations and therefore may force the active processing system to revise the model, to “re-calibrate” the stored “web” of links. So even when a perfectly identical event will occur, the active processing system will – after some time of learning (= absorbing new states and relations) – detect other informational patterns in kind and time in the linked states of its memory, so it will “complete” the incoming state with another part of its knowledge to another “initial state” of its own decisions and actions: Despite the fact, that the event was the same, it will decide and act otherwise. No longer the same result regarding the external event, no longer foreseeability: The same event leads to different outcomes – no more information.

High intelligence destroys information like a black hole.

And that is something which makes communication nearly impossible. Because to process information you have to guarantee, that the states of the transported information are fully communicated/given from one “speaker” to the other: One state in one memory has to be the same in the other, then the series of states, representing the information, is “copied” (mapped, processed) properly. But if there are big differences in experiences, this may not be possible even for simple communication acts.

Btw: That’s why language is so important and allowed us to become the most powerful species on our beautiful Blue Earth: a progress in communicating information between humans to protect information.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Do you want to live?

Or do you prefer the “Here and Now”, not to care about the future, especially not to care about the consequences of your deeds?

Don’t you know Bertrands Paradox? Don’t you know that each small piece of information improves your forecast?

Don’t you know, that intelligence is the “conquest of the future”? Don’t you know, that Mother Nature gave generously to us a priceless gift – a big, mighty brain to do exactly that? To gather more and more information, to be more and more intelligent...

just to better foresee the future – to make better decisions NOW? Decisions for survival?

Blessed ignorance?

To avoid thinking what we, humankind, did to our Mother Earth, what we did to our children, destroying their future – only to enjoy our SUVs, our Fast Food and our holidays somewhere in Cheapistan is simply to say:

no, i don’t want to live – tomorrow. I am too stupid to imagine being hungry without refrigerator, being sick without medical help, being thirsty without clean water, being lost without friends – looking helplessly at my starving child, begging me to protect her.



Greedy enough to stab your own son, your own daughter in the back by wasting their precious resources, but too stupid and spineless to stand the knowledge what you do?

“One is responsible for this immaturity and dependence, if its cause is not a lack of intelligence or education, but a lack of determination and courage to think without the direction of another.” – Immanuel Kant

If you want to live, if you want to get older...

and especially...

if you love your child...

- Sapere Aude!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Hope vs. Anger

What do you believe is stronger to help you through desperate situations? Hope in “the light at the end of the tunnel” or anger – anger about your enemies, anger about the circumstances, anger about the violation of rules which would have served you?

And what will stay with you in the end, when you will realize that the end of the tunnel isn’t finished yet? That there can’t be light?