Monday, December 2, 2019

Climate Change Hypocrisy in Canada

I love Canada but do lament the present hypocrisy which prevails here in its governance. 

It is said that we have a Climate Change Crisis and we need to address it immediately. Its people are even taxed in the name of this crisis.

YET the extraction of natural gas (by fracking) and oil by one of the dirtiest methods on this planet is encouraged. Its export to Countries who are environmentally irresponsible is strongly supported. One of the excuses given is that the profits from the export of these products will be used to offset the Climate Change Crisis! Go figure!

I live in a town which has declared a Climate Change Crisis and yet the local Council does nothing to discourage the development of a Liquid Natural Gas Export facility on its own doorstep.

 Even the workers that will setting up this facility will NOT be local, contrary to what was hitherto promised.

An effective control of devastating Climate Change is hard in wealthy Democracies. The 'rich' control the power strings most of the time and the 'rich' want to keep their wealth. Any sacrifice essential for any real reversal of our world dilemma will be very difficult.  

The survival genes imbedded during our evolution could, ironically, lead to our demise as a species. We might be the shortest lived in the history of life on this planet
....Unless something drastic happens to help.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

A Myth Buster Rant:

Recently there have been claims that paper and cloth shopping bags are worse than plastic bags for the environment (re. Climate Change).
We have had a few cloth bags for years and they have been used hundreds of times instead of plastic bags!
If you have a cloth bag USE IT LIKEWISE. Then you also will not need to use paper bags either. If you do ever use a plastic bag, find further use for it for a while and then ensure that it is buried somehow and not allowed to enter the ocean's food chain in any way. And cloth bags DO NOT HAVE TO BE COTTON. Many bags are made of synthetic fibers which are themselves derived from the oil industry and, as such, are 'carbon sinks' if they are kept out of the food chain or not burnt. Pass them down to your grandchildren!
BTW, in our town (Squamish), we have excellent lead free drinking water. THERE IS NO NEED to use plastic disposable water bottles. USE TAP WATER. Carry any drinking water in a permanently dedicated bottle.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Royalty and their Bleating

Much has been written recently about how Meghan, Prince Harry's wife, has been treated by the media. Is this fair or not?

The Royal Family is 'stinking rich'. We are talking hundreds of millions here. Look up the full stats.

Tax-payers get very upset when they learn that they are on the hook for anything other than ceremonial expenditures which help the Politics and Economy of the Country. Private jets, vacations and private parties should never be paid for to anyone in the Royal Family unless it directly serves the UK. Private home renovations to suit the whims and fancies of the owners should not be paid for or subsidized either. At the end of the 18th. Century the French got very upset about such a whole similar scenario!

We are in a world now where almost every Country has a top-heavy Economy. Much of the wealth is in the top 10% or less in most Countries. This includes Dictatorships and Democracies alike.

The social structure in most Countries is bleeding and this is creating worldwide stress. The inherent inequalities are becoming a danger to the overall security of the world.

Meghan.. live with it! You are not used to privacy and you will, furthermore,  not get it in your present situation. You are a 'taker' as are so many.

BTW, many underline all this with the argument that British Royalty contributes so much to the Economy in the form of Tourism.  This may be true but their "old money" is a legacy of a very suspect history. Also, a great many British 'Stately Homes' and their vast estates were largely created from the Slavetrade triangle in the 17th. 18th. and early 19th. centuries. Should such be continually celebrated in our increasing PC world?

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Protoplasmic Life and AI...Who, Which and When

Protoplasmic life is life as we know it. It depends on liquid water, the right temperature range and supply of those gases and trace elements that enable its chemical reactions.

We are carbon-based. Carbon has the ability to form chains and complex branches when combined with other elements. This complexity also allows for replication, reproduction, and variation leading to evolution to new varieties and species. Most life forms (Plants and Animals) require oxygen. Most plants also require carbon dioxide and oxygen. Most of life thrives in an atmosphere that has adequate pressure. These are the conditions we find on earth today. However, they are rare and tenuous. We get all the elements we need by breathing, drinking and eating organic materials including essential minerals,

 Planets like this are, likely, scattered throughout the Universe but we only know of a few right now. On earth, protoplasmic life has evolved to a high cognitive level which we see in humanity. Such evolution has relied on fierce competition. This has resulted in "Have's" and "Have-nots".

This is now threatening the continued existence of this level of life. In short, we are "fucking-up" our environment in a prophetically fatal manner. Due to our political structure on this planet, we may not be able to solve this before irreversible extinction occurs. Most of this danger has arisen in just the last three Centuries.

We are looking for other similar life forms in the Universe by sending signals at the speed of light, hoping for a reply. This takes a long time..... check the math! It is likely that any intelligent protoplasmic life will have already done what we are doing in destroying their environment through their own competitive greed.

Their only (kind of) salvation would be to have developed Artificial Intelligence (AI) which we are now tinkering with here on Earth. We may have to go the same route. AI  units do not need so much of the restrictive conditions to further their survival. This does not mean it is my choice. My 'druthers' are fast becoming under the umbrella of "I remember when...." Things are not good right now!

The conclusion is that any aliens whoever contact, or visit us, are very likely NOT to be protoplasmic. So don't expect to find any of the squidgy stuff in a 'downed' flying saucer!

And, there is this!:

Some might say that if humanity persists in its present path, it deserves the cold stark reality which AI portends. A kind of 'Cosmic Justice'. 

Friday, September 27, 2019

Nationalism and the World

Everybody on this planet agrees that they should be proud of their Country. This kind of pride, to everyone, would seem like, 'Motherhood'.

However, History has shown, often, otherwise. Humans are, by their nature, competitive animals. What we want, we want to get, and keep.

We have seen many situations where Countries/States have united for a perceived benefit. The Prussian states did it under Bismark. The Italian states did under Victor Emanual in 1848. Europe has tried it with the EU including the UK. The UK is still a 'Union'...for now.

Canada is a Confederation but Quebec is still straining at the leash. Nationists argue for freedom as their marching call...they want autonomy within their boundaries. But today is all this, always, advisable?

We are faced with trade wars which affect individual economies. We have worldwide conflicts as usual and now we have the threat of devastating Climate Change.

 I say we cannot afford to propagate Nationalism much further. We are increasingly seeing a trend toward the breakdown of Unity in great blocks of our world. This is only increasing conflict. There would seem no way out of this. We abhor the idea of one Country taking over the whole world and imposing world Government benign or likely otherwise. But we cannot keep repeating this competitive drive toward conflict.

We have copious amounts of technologies to help us solve Climate Change. But with our present world political structure, the use of it is very inefficient. There are even some Countries who do not believe in Climate Change because their incumbent misguided leaders do not. Indeed, some might say we are 'screwed'.

In short, I think we should start to turn our backs on the concept of Nationalism and move toward a positive Global approach for all the good reasons! 'Pride' is one thing, ' Fall' is another!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Influence of the Media on World affairs

I read the news and opinions every day on my various devices....alas, now very rarely on hard copy.

Media has our 'ears' or rather our 'eyes'. We have our favourites...whether it be the Guardian of the UK, the New York times, etc. Yes, it includes television stations too. Nevertheless, we are led by the trends, agendas, and policies of each.

Many have 'Opinion' sections which we read and decide our individual stances for the day. We go to work or the equivalent, and, as eloquently as we can, try to voice our opinions...often followed by arguments raging from polite and benign to vicious and vitriolic. 

Election time comes along and we decide how we might have a chance at changing the course of world affairs. Some of us will have thought it out in the light of our experience which may be wide or narrow. Hey, this is how our Democracy works...right!?

However, I do not think this that this serves Democracy particularly well..but what does? We are truly led by the sophistication of the media, the slick graphics, and the anchor team's personalities. 

The journalistic training of the writers results in the heaping of 'snow' on everyone. We can all read and watch; watch, but we are still doe in their hands.

We must all be aware of this and beware. Do as much research on every issue that comes up before action. 

Politicians are a special breed and the Media has become their faithful servant.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Some brief questions about Artificial Intelligence (AI)

In our world today we have systems called Governments. We say that there are Democratic Governments and there are Dictatorships.
We all know that Democracy in its purest form is a Utopia. A benevolent Dictatorship is also a Utopia.  All governments boast 'controls' which supposedly are designed for the efficient running of each respective system. Invariably there are flaws involving efficiency, civil rights, and ethical management generally. And the old adage: "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" comes to mind.

So what can we do? Well, there is a concept called "Artificial Intelligence" or a.k.a. "AI". This has arisen from Cyber-Science which now forms an integral, indispensable part of life on this planet for most of its inhabitants.

This branch of science very much depends on 'algorithms'. In everyday terms, these are mathematical rules/formulae which lead to desired outcomes or should do. AI depends on algorithms which are embedded in such a way as to ensure a degree of learning and also creativity of the specific system.

In short, an AI unit is a Computer Plus; one which is capable of learning and performing creative actions based on its learning. Such would be like a 'brain' in a box but made of inanimate materials. Of course, to physically act, such a box would need appendages and tools to manipulate its environment in any effective way.

A line of progressive technological complexity could be seen as the following: abacus- calculator-computer-AI unit. This could stop here but if we give the unit tools, sufficient processing powers and the ability to replicate its parts (given that it is provided with the materials) we have something quite awesome!

The learning ability and the end capabilities merely depend on the algorithms built in the design. So it would seem that we would still have control over the progression. The key to all of this is: Who feeds in the algorithms and other design parameters?

It is my opinion that the dangers of AI are inherent in who is producing and setting the limitations on the degree of autonomy, learning capability, and creativity of the product. Will such units be run by Governments for advice? Will they be part of weaponry in conflicts? Will they be used as adjuncts to human brains or other body parts? How complex will they be allowed to exist?

The human race is messing up its own planet right now. Could AI be our salvation? Will we allow ourselves to trust in the potential learning and resulting advice from these AI units to save us from our own self-destructive actions?

Who actually will ever decide a workable course of action here?

Now there is another aspect to all this...Consciousness. Protoplasmic life on this planet includes many life forms which have varying degrees of consciousness. Humans, other primates and cetaceans are right at the top of the tree in this regard. Our sense of Ethics lends respect to such beings as these; even further down the tree of life.

We are now considering the ethics which might be applied to AI now and in the future. Are such units conscious?... I think so. Personally, I would go a step further and say that consciousness is something shared with all things which can accumulate and act upon memory as a reference.

We are our memory anyway. You could scroll down and read an article I wrote on this several years ago ("We are a Dream of the Past" Nov. 2011...See side menu). AI is, as are, computers, based upon a binary switching system of zeros and ones. Protoplasmic neurotransmission relies upon sodium/potassium shifts combined with protein and steroid dynamic synaptic connections. So, similar but with different chemicals.

If we choose to use AI in a positive controlled manner it could be very useful and might lead to our ultimate salvation.  There are pros and cons but here is the rub... there is great diversity in the agendas of world Governments. How can we be ever sure that some will not grossly misuse this technology?

Yes, we should walk very carefully, and slowly, in front of this new 'vehicle' waving our proverbial red flag. Control of the potential for rogue autonomy is essential here.