Class Warfare Blog

June 23, 2020

Typography Evolves, Not Necessarily for the Better

Filed under: language,Technology — Steve Ruis @ 10:54 am
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I am a bit of a typography snob. I work as an editor and I work with people in their teens and their nineties. I note that people quite old tend to show some quirks of their past. For example, at one time English, as German still does, capitalized most nouns. We have moved away from that practice, but some older writers overcapitalize. It was also the practice to have a space before colons and periods which is no longer the practice, so as mentioned, things change.

There is also a slow morphing of compound nouns. In the 1930’s it was quite common to see to-day and to-morrow in print and now the hyphens are gone. This is a common process. A place in one’s home to have a fire becomes a fire-place and then a fireplace. The same thing happened to sail-boat, foot-path, black-face, skin-head, and dog-house.

Currently we are seeing another transition, one I hope does not stick. This is the recent practice of only capitalizing the first letter of an acronym, an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word, for example NASA. Back in my early days these things were typed out thus: N.A.S.A., F.B.I., and C.D.C. After a while we dropped the periods as being superfluous and so we got: NASA, FBI, CDC, CIA, SCOTUS, etc. This was acceptable because there were very few other situations in which words were formed from all capital letters. No one would be confused seeing NASA instead of N.A.S.A. But now I am seeing Nasa more often than not.

If the “all capitals” rule for acronyms is taken away, as is becoming the current practice, the possibility of confusion increases a great deal, especial for young or new readers of English. I tend to approve of such changes when they either (a) simplify communication or (b) make communication more accurate. In this case I don’t see what is saved. If I type <cap lock>,n ,a ,s, a, </cap lock> instead of <shift> n, a, s, a, I am not really saving a lot of effort.

I went to Wikipedia to consult a list of acronyms (and their ilk, such as initialisms) and I limited myself to just those starting with A and C.

Some of these, such as CAP, which stands for Civil Air Patrol, would easily be misunderstood if written as Cap, possibly referring to a piece of headgear, especially if the word begins a sentence, which always begin with a capitalized letter anyway. Others of this kind are:
FOE  Friends Of The Earth
ACE  Allied Command Europe
ADAGE  Air Defense Air to Ground Engagement (simulation)
AID  U.S. Agency for International Development
AM  Amplitude Modulation
CARP  Computed Air Release Point
CART  Championship Auto Racing Teams
CATS  Computer Active Technology Suspension
CIAO  Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office
CIS  Commonwealth of Independent States
COBRA  Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985
COIN  Counter-Insurgency (military)
COPE  U.K. Committee On Publication Ethics
CORE  Congress of Racial Equality
CREEP  Committee for the Re-Election of the President (Nixon)
Plus there are any number of these which could appear to be a person’s name, the first letter of which is typically capitalized.
TERI  Tata Energy Research Institute
ANA  All Nippon Airways
COLT  Combat Observation and Lasing Team (military)
CHiP  California Highway Patrol

Since these came from lists with just these two letters of the alphabet, I am sure there are hundreds of other terms that could also be sources of confusion.

I do not intend to adopt this new practice and hope that it dies out over time as being counterproductive.

How do such things get started? I do not know, but my guess is in magazines. Magazines are always looking for typographical ways to appear trendy, on the forefront of the topic they cover. Magazines are responsible for article and book titles now being formatted as if they were sentences (few are), which I believe emanated from ad copy. A header in an ad, if it appears to be a sentence with no “full stop” at the end encourages people to keep reading to find closure for the idea begun to be stated.

April 13, 2020

Election Security, Election Trustworthiness

Filed under: Politics,Technology — Steve Ruis @ 11:01 am
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I was watching a documentary called Kill Chain, last night. This was about how easy it is (not would be) to hack into the electronic systems used for our elections. A fact that by itself undermines the integrity of our election process. At one point the people leading the documentary took a series of machines to a hacker conference in Las Vegas and asked people there to try to hack the machines. So, with little to no preparation and only the tools that they had on them, the play began. In just a couple of days, every machine available (including all of the ones currently in use) was hacked. These were casual hackers working part-time attending a conference. As the hosts commented, in Russia and other countries there are highly trained and motivated professionals working 24-7 to do the same. How hard could it be?

That the technology was 16 years old, with four years being a long generation of computer hardware, this was hardly a surprising outcome. The documentary went on to document several rather egregious examples of hacked elections, so why hasn’t there been federal action to forestall our elections being undermined?

The documentary showed a clip of Mitch McConnell, the majority leader of the U.S. Senate, saying that any such anti-tampering legislation would have to be bipartisan to be brought up for a vote in the senate. Then various senators pointed out that at least four bipartisan anti-tampering bills had been forwarded to Senate leadership and none had been brought to the floor. Each had been killed by . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . . Mitch McConnell.

Even though McConnell seems to be in the pockets of the Chinese and/or Russians, it is quite extraordinary to accuse a sitting Majority Leader of such a treasonous act, so the politics are more likely to be more local.

So, think about this. Think about the current GOP membership and the current Democratic Party membership. On one hand you have CEOs who can barely type and bankers and the like and farmers and soldiers and on the other you have all of the New Age hippie computer nerds in tie-dyed teeshirts. Which party do you think would have the better hackers? Yeah, it was obvious to me, too.

So, why is Mitch McConnell acting to protect Democrat election hackers?

Why would he betray his own party like that? In any kind of reasonable contest, the hippie Democrats could hack the shit out of a band of GOP members, so why is Moscow Mitch protecting Democrat hackers? What do they have on him to make him their puppet? Do you think they are controlling the outcome of his re-election? What would make a staunch rock-ribbed Republican into such a toady for a bunch of hippie hackers?

PS Watch this documentary!

 

 

March 18, 2020

Can Software Be Conscious?

Filed under: Morality,Technology — Steve Ruis @ 11:55 am
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This was a question addressed at a conclave of philosophers, software developers, and their ilk, but I think this is the wrong question. I think the question is can a “computer” be conscious, with the word “computer” standing in for some combination of hardware and software.

A major leg up on being “conscious” is being self aware. Researchers devised the mirror test to see if animals recognized their reflections as themselves or as another animal or at all. I don’t know if this test really tests for that and I do not know whether any other animal has “passed” this test, but it does show the importance being placed upon being self aware by consciousness researchers.

Now, let me begin my argument with a thought experiment. In my sport we depend a great deal on proprioception, which is the awareness of where our body parts are in space. For example, you can pick up a glass of water, close your eyes, and take a drink from that glass with no problem. We “know” where our hand is and we can feel the glass in it and we “know” where our mouth is and we don’t need to be “talked down” (a la every airplane crisis movie ever made) to delivering that load where it is intended.

This ability is not obvious to us, but any disruption of it results in quite some confusion. For example, if you get an injection of a pain killer in a gum for some dental work and part of your tongue goes numb, don’t expect to be able to talk and be understood until that anesthetic wears off. The position of our tongue in our mouth is necessary information for being able to form sounds.

Another sense we suffer from losing is our sense of balance. If you have ever had extreme vertigo, you will know what I mean. But if we have a stuffed up nose from a cold or other, we seem to get by quite adequately without a sense of smell.

Now, as to the thought experiment. You are lying on a bed and you lose your senses, one by one. First, you lose your sense of sight, which means full “fade to black,” not just what you can still see when you close your eyes. Then your sense of smell, then hearing, then touch, then taste, finally your sense of balance, then proprioception. You cannot feel the bed under you or the breeze blowing in the window or hear the birds chirping outside.

This why the science fiction trope of having a brain in a jar doesn’t work. How long do you think you could remain sane in this state? You couldn’t even scream for help. It is questionable that you would even be able to vocalize.

Software does not have “sensory input” without hardware. And, it seems that we are rapidly developing sensory inputs for computers. A common theme of news commentaries is face recognition software, which is, of course dependent upon video feeds as “sensory input.” An article headline in this week’s Science News is “An AI that mimics how mammals smell recognizes scents better than other AI.” AI stands for artificial intelligence or “super-duper computer.” Computers, for quite some time have had the ability to monitor the temperature of their CPU’s and can tell you if they are experiencing a “fever.”

It is not a big stretch of imagination that if we continue to add “senses” to computers and allow those computers to monitor their sensory inputs, we will have a much greater likelihood that one of those AIs will become self aware.

Now, I am sure that some people will argue that these computers will only be simulating self awareness or some other such construct, but since I do not see that we fully understand our own self awareness, how we could build machines that would have self awareness exactly the same as we do. Nor do I see that that is a necessary condition. Self awareness is self awareness, no matter the mechanism.

I have read science fiction and fantasy for at least 60 years and have read more than a few stories about self aware “computers” and what they are capable of, including feeling something akin to death when they are “turned off.” In the latest season of the show “Altered Carbon” on Netflix, the main protagonist’s AI does want to perform a reboot even though he is glitching up a storm because he doesn’t want to lose memories which are precious to him. Apparently recorded memories are just not the same as “real” ones. A major step along this path, a path that leads to self aware “computers,” “AIs,” and whatnot is providing what can stand in for senses and internal monitoring of those senses. We seem to be barreling down this path at great speed, so I think this may happen in the next 50 years, if not sooner.

 

 

March 16, 2020

We Are Done For

I was refreshing my memory of some of the earliest episodes of Westworld (on HBO) before I tackled the beginning of the third season. In the first episode Mr. Ford (played by Anthony Hopkins . . . I love Anthony Hopkins and have since Lion in Winter) musing on our unknown scientific and technological future mentions that, one day, we may even conquer death and as he finished that thought, he follows with “And then we’d be done, finished. We’ll never get any better.”  (This quote is from memory so it is probably slightly “off.”) This is one of the more brilliant throw away lines in this series.

What Mr. Ford is alluding to is that death is an absolutely vital part of the natural selection process at the heart of the theory of evolution. If we conquer death, then mutations and other changes, make no difference in our survivability and this marks the end of physical evolution.

Of course, social evolution is still possible . . . but then so is social devolution. We could change socially in ways that benefit no one and, in the short term, we could eradicate our own species before corrective actions prevailed.

The current Coronavirus-induced pandemic is a quite vivid sign as to how ill-prepared we are for such global events. With Trump in the White House and some Hindus drinking cow urine as a palliative for the Coronavirus, we have a full spectrum idiocy guiding our actions, it seems. Well, that and the normal “panic and run around like a chicken with its head cut off” human behavior (that is not a baseless metaphor, I have observed that behavior). “Toilet paper, toilet paper, my kingdom for toilet paper!” Where is Shakespeare now that we need him?

November 27, 2019

The Truth About Sodom and Gomorrah

Filed under: History,Religion,Technology — Steve Ruis @ 9:57 am
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I have seen other programs under the rubric of “Buried Secrets of the Bible,” and blogged upon episodes, but this new series stars Albert Lin, the likable new star for Nat Geo programming. The charming Mr. Lin has appeared in a series on the Maya, Lost Cities and a couple of others, I think. In any case, this series is using his tool set to investigate events in the Bible to see if there is any archaeological basis for the stories in the Bible. Very little time is spent on the theology involved. Mr. Lin’s tool set is to use LIDAR (from both plane and drone) and satellite imagery to identify hard to see from the ground archaeological sites, then he goes exploring.

These shows are, I suspect, a gold mine because if they avoid offending righteous believers, they pick up the “see everything in the Bible is true” crowd and at the other end are the curious science types looking to see what advances in archaeology are to be had. NatGeo, of course, blends in a soupcon of beautiful cinematography to make it very tasty to the eye.

Okay, so last night Episode 2 was on Sodom and Gomorrah. Was there any truth to be discovered about that story?

After some scene setting, the final segment was about an archaeologist who had discovered a site, or decided he could identify the site, as the ruins of the city of Sodom. The ruins were properly placed in time, they had the outward characteristics as described in the Bible and as were known to exist at the time. The site was quite near the Dead Sea. This city had been turned into a “pile of rubble” in some sort of catastrophic event, which involved the tumbling down of buildings, extensive fire and then 700 years of no further occupation after the event. Various possible causes were considered, but the archaeologist involved felt that the possibilities were quite limited because of some of the artifacts. These were pieces of clay pottery that had been exposed to extreme heat, to the point that the pottery melted. The only known sources of such temperatures were nuclear explosions or meteor strikes, so the working hypothesis was a meteor strike. Part of the meteor (they seldom are just a single object) could have exploded over the Dead Sea resulting in a giant wave of salt water flowing over the arable fields supporting the city, resulting in fields that no longer supported crops, which would explain the 700 year historical gap. Another part of the meteor, striking the ground or exploding above ground would account for the shock wave causing the tumbling buildings and fires.

Using LIDAR and satellite images, Mr. Lin’s team created a 3-D representation of the city site and using false colors, they picked up what appeared from the ground to be a giant cistern for water, but from above looked exactly like an impact crater from a small, but potent, meteor strike. Ta da. The cistern idea wasn’t very good unless it were underground as water exposed over that large of an area would evaporate too quickly. To confirm that it was indeed a meteor crater, an excavation study will have to be done. If confirmed then a story of massive destruction involving “fire and brimstone” from the heavens will have an historical event underneath it.

Very cool.

And, let’s entertain the idea, for the moment, that this scenario, or one like it, were true.

This is a tragic event. An entire city of thousands of people with their animals were wiped out by an “act of nature.” So, residents of that city who had been away on trading trips or nearby relatives of those living there would be faced with the horrible remains. People from safely far off would describe the fiery death of the city. The survivors would be left with tremendous losses and questions that couldn’t be answered, the primary one was “Why?”

The fact that the “why” question could not be answered didn’t stop some of the religiously minded. They connected dots that existed mostly in their minds, including: this was a horrible destruction rained from above, therefore it must be an act of their god, a godly punishment. And since the destruction was so vast, the reason for the destruction must have been heinous. But in the Old Testament, the only real sin is disobedience. People are punished for disobedience because, well . . . why, boys and girls? Because religions exist to control the masses to serve the interests of the secular and religious elites, that’s why. And obedience is always what they demand and disobedience is what they always punish.

So, the inhabitants of these cities are declared to be depraved because their punishment was so severe. Stories were invented to show how depraved they were including attempts at angel rape. (Which brought to mind Arlo Guthrie’s masterpiece “Alice’s Restaurant” and “. . . mother rapers and, and father rapers, sitting right there on the Group W bench . . .”) How it is that angels couldn’t protect themselves from puny, human angel rapists is beyond me. (Were I one of those angels, I would pull out a fiery sword and lop a few heads off and see if their mood changed at all.)

And, of course, the topper is the story of Lot’s family. Lot, son of Abraham, is the only righteous person in the entire city, so angels come and tell him to get his family the heck out of town and don’t look back. And as they are descending the hill of the city, the destruction began, and one of Lot’s family couldn’t resist the temptation to sneak a peak and got turned into a pillar of salt. (Another example of the punishment not fitting the crime, but that is the norm for the Bible.)

Now, who was selected to be the disobedient one? Ah, Lot’s wife. Silly woman. She might have been righteous and tight with god, but she also made a good object lesson and the topic of the lesson is? Disobedience! (Ah, you were paying attention!) Silly woman. Women are so flighty and undependable. Tsk, tsk. That will teach them to stifle their curiosity.

So, it wasn’t enough for the people of these cities to be destroyed by a random cosmological event, but in the aftermath, religious assholes smeared their city and all of the inhabitants and their families for ever and ever, Amen, with made up stories of their depravity. Well, I guess they just got what they deserved . . . not!

Oh, and if the narrative doesn’t hold up, then we are left with the prospect that the entire story is made up, aka fictional, which makes the religious who wrote it, thinking it a great teaching story, even bigger assholes.

A New Version of “If Their Lips are Moving . . .”

Filed under: Politics,Technology — Steve Ruis @ 9:42 am
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I read that the only Dutch-speaking fact checker working for Facebook has quit in protest in Facebook’s policy that it will not fact-check political ads.

I applaud the decision as one of personal integrity but it will mean next to nothing to Facebook as they . . . do . . . not . . . care. Actually they care about making money, but fact checking, preserving people’s privacy, etc. not so much.

This serves merely to bring up my question: Are there still people who believe that you can learn anything of value from a political ad, enough so that they are worth watching? These “advertisements” are exactly what they are as used in commerce—misleading statements that are trying to sell you something. The whole modern practice of advertizing grew out of what was called at the time . . . propaganda. (I kid you not. And this was before propaganda was seized upon for political use in a major way.) And, ironically, modern economic theory is based upon “buyer” and “seller” having the same information, which means there should be no need for advertising, certainly not the deceptive kind.

I stopped watching/listening to political ads years ago. There is no upside. Well, there is the upside that politicians will waste their money producing the damned things.

So, I recommend to you that you should also eschew political ads as they are misleading propaganda that have very little up side and a big downside. They are hardly worth fact checking as most would not pass muster.

The old joke was: Question: How can you tell a politician is lying? Answer: His lips are moving. Maybe we need an update on this: the modern version is: Question: How can you tell a politician is lying? Answer: When you hear/see him saying “I am <name> and I approve this message.”

 

 

November 25, 2019

Impossible Burger . . . Possibly?

Filed under: Culture,Economics,Science,Technology — Steve Ruis @ 11:17 am
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The irony is palpable. The “health industry” is telling us in a loud voice that we should eschew “highly processed foods” in favor of using fresh ingredients, cooked to eat . . . and at the same time we are also urged to consider hamburger substitutes, such as is being served in the Burger King Impossible Whopper.

The commercials for the Impossible Whopper make it look very appetizing. The burger glistens with fat as if right from the grill. The edge of the burger patty is irregular as if it were formed by hand. Yum. So, I tried one. In appearance, not so good. the patty had a very regular edge, as if it had been extruded through a die (which I suppose it had) and glistening fat was nowhere in evidence. The color was closer to grey than the brown and black version (often with a pink interior) shown in the advertisements.

The aroma was minimal and the texture not bad. The flavor compares with ordinary burgers, so quite an accomplishment. If burgers were ranked on a scale from exquisite a la Bill’s Place in San Francisco used to make to dog meat burgers (mostly filler), this one would be near the middle of that scale, so mediocre, but not in a bad way.

I have always felt that vegetarians should be creating their own dishes (Porcini Mushrooms and mashed potatoes, yum!), not trying to mimic meat dishes, but I realize that to get the majority of people to come along with a more environmentally favorable diet, some copycatting is going to have to occur.

So, as copycats go, the Impossible Burger is meh, but a good deal farther along that road than the lamentable “garden burger.” And it is, without fear of contradiction, a highly processed food. I have no idea how nutritious it is.

I think a lot could be done to ameliorate the woeful environmental record of the meat industry, first would be to eliminate factory ranching of cattle and pigs and the like and go back to free range everything. This would not only reduce the carbon footprint of the industry but would save soil and has many other benefits. The increased cost of meat and fowl produced that way would also lower its consumption.

September 24, 2019

The Fermi Paradox and Other Aspects of Wishful Thinking About Aliens

Filed under: Reason,Science,Technology — Steve Ruis @ 12:17 pm
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Famous physicist Enrico Fermi once uttered something along the lines of “Well, then, where are they?” in a discussion of the possibilities of there being alien life. Fermi’s exact quote is uncertain, but the gist of it is plain. Since there are so many other places in the universe in which life could develop, why haven’t we been visited by aliens at this point?

Let’s look at this because there is so much bullstuff circulating.

Let’s consider time first. A recent Netflix documentary discussing this topic pointed out that the universe was 14-15 billion years old and the Earth was about a third of that old, 4.543 billion years old. So, there has been plenty of time for aliens to have visited us. WTF? No!

If aliens had visited us 2 billion years ago, how would we have any record of that? Maybe if an enduring alien spacecraft had crashed here and avoided being subducted below ground, there might be such evidence, but that is a rather far fetched scenario. We need to be reasonable and consider that Homo sapiens have been around for probably less than 300,000 years. Any prior visitation would not be noted in any way. We also have had a written language for less than 10,000 years, so any prior visitation could only have been recorded in the form of petroglyphs or cave paintings, and there are some rather bizarre figures that could represent such visitants, but I don’t see any consensus in the scientific community as to whether these are factual representations or imaginative ones.

And, it has only been in the last couple of centuries that we have had the means of recording images of such visitants and the images we have suggesting that possibility are of relatively low quality. Recently, some higher quality recordings have led to the possibility that we have, indeed been visited, but that enquiry is still going on.

So, when it comes to time . . . we have been in a position to document such a visitation for a few hundred years out of the 15 billion years of the universe’s existence, a very tiny (tiny!) fraction of the time involved. So, the time factor is quite disfavorable to the argument that we should have seen something by now.

Also, as a factor of time, have you seen the tiny blue dot illustration? Here it is.

The tiny blue dot represents how far radio waves (and TV, etc.) could have traveled since their invention here. Aliens traversing this blue zone would be able to pick up those signs of intelligent life. Again, this is about 200 years in time, 200 light-years in space. Look at how small that zone is compared to the volume of the entire galaxy. Prior to that time or outside of that space, those aliens would be looking for “signs” of life as we are doing now: indications of water in its liquid form and things like carbon dioxide or methane in planetary atmospheres. These searches may turn up “signs” but no conclusive proof of intelligent life.

Now let’s talk space. Clearly any aliens in other galaxies are just too far away to consider making a trip here. Our closest neighboring galaxy is the Andromeda galaxy which is 2.537 million light years away. If these aliens could travel at the speed of light, they would be entertaining a trip of two and a half million years . . . one way! If they could do 1000 times the speed of light, they would still be looking at a 2500 year journey . . . one way. So, intergalactic aliens should be considered to be completely isolated by time and space (unless wormholes of some other similar phenomena are proven to exist).

So, how about aliens inside our own galaxy? With hundreds of billions of stars and trillions of planets in our galaxy, surely . . . surely what exactly? Our galaxy, the Milky Way galaxy, is 105,700 light years wide. Traveling at the speed of light, currently thought to be impossible, would require 100,000+ years to go from one edge to the opposite edge, but let’s assume that “our aliens” are not that far away, that they are at least on our side of the galaxy, so their trip would be less, less than 50,000 years at the speed of light. Let’s be honest. If the trip takes more than a decade or so, what benefit would there be in making it? Trade is out of the question as the distances are too far. Trading technology with a less advanced species, again hardly worth the trip. So the only motivation would be a voyage of exploration, or maybe a desperate attempt to find a new place to live. Excluding the latter, because it would be problematic in the extreme (I would venture that those aliens no one wants to meet), let’s consider a voyage of exploration/discovery.

It doesn’t seem plausible that on such a voyage there would be just one stop, here. If I were planning such a voyage, there would be many stops, amplifying my chances of encountering something new. This would go a long way towards justifying the cost of such a voyage. Even if profit or money were not involved (say our aliens are a hive mind, to which such things would be incomprehensible) the amount of effort to be put into the creation of such a ship only to send it off on an “iffy” mission, possibly to be never seen again is an additional barrier to such a voyage. Think back on how many billions of U.S. dollars were expended sending astronauts to the moon, just 250,000 miles away. Imagine what would happen if President Trump were to announce an ambitious new project to explore some of the rest of the galaxy. The projected budgets surely would go into the trillions of dollars and the howls of fiscal irresponsibility would be heard on the moon.

So, the answers to the Fermi paradox seem rather straightforward.

  1. They came but were too early to see anything promising.
  2. They came and met some sapient Earthlings, but those Earthlings had no way of leaving an enduring, credible record of their visit.
  3. They came but we do not count the reports of their visits as being credible “alien encounters.”
  4. They are coming but haven’t gotten here yet.
  5. They looked for places to go, but outside of the tiny blue dot, there were only vague signs of life, certainly none of intelligent life, so we were just one of myriad possible sites to check out and they chose other places to visit.
  6. They considered coming but nixed the idea as there was no “upside” in the form of trade or technology transfers to warrant the trip.
  7. They have taken such voyages but we are too far away to travel here or to even communicate via EMR signaling.
  8. We were so far beneath them that visiting us would be the equivalent of us trying to communicate with a slime mold.
  9. They were planning such a voyage but the early cost overruns were too scary and they backed out of the project. (They are more advanced than us, remember.)
  10. They were on their way but had an accident and had to limp home.
  11. And, of course, the old tried and true opinion of many theists: “They don’t exist; we are alone in the universe, because . . . we . . . are . . . special!”

Of course, there is also the “Ancient Aliens theorists” conjecture that they came a long time ago and jiggered with our DNA to help create another sentient species in the galaxy. Would you want to meet such a species, one that would take such liberties with lower life forms, to whom we would surely still be a lower life form?

September 14, 2019

Oh, This is a Really Bad Idea

Here’s the blurb announcing a new video game! Hurry, hurry, read all about it. . . .

“The newly released Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is an open world survival game where you control a group of “hominins” – our first ancestors – and explore, expand, and lock in new knowledge so your “clan” can evolve. It takes the players from 10 m years ago, and the common ancestor of both chimpanzee and hominins, to 2 m years ago, when you can play as an early version of Homo erectus. The aim of the game is ultimately to evolve to the point when humans began to leave Africa.”

* * *

No matter how much time is involved in the virtual world that has been created, the amount of time in our world that this game takes will be in hours and days, not millions of years. That will leave a subliminal impression. But, too many people now have the impression that evolution should be visible now to us, when in fact it is glacially slow, in fact evolution makes glaciers seem really, really fast. While the process is continuous (some people think that evolution stopped because it had the objective of creating us) being so slow makes it essentially invisible to ordinary observations.

The vast majority of events (mutations, etc.) are either neutral or detrimental, so such a game has to accelerate in the player’s minds the actual causes of positive changes. And the phrase in the blurb “you control a group of ‘hominins’ – our first ancestors – and explore, expand, and lock in new knowledge so your ‘clan’ can evolve” seems to indicate that the game developers do not even have even a foggy notion of how evolution, a mindless unguided process, works. The earliest point at which human “knowledge” might affect our evolution is right about now where we have the ability to modify genes in human embryos. Or possibly, our ability to control our environment will affect our ecological niche and we will adapt over long periods of time to that. (Those who think we can “evolve” to adapt to climate change or our strange new diet are smoking something barely legal.)

Hey, maybe it is part of a Christian misinformation campaign to discredit the theory of evolution. That might explain the existence of this “game.” Hey, if evolution can be guided, then there just has to be a “Big Guider in the Sky,” right?

December 21, 2018

More on GMO’s (Gosh, What Could Go Wrong?)

Filed under: Science,Technology — Steve Ruis @ 8:46 am
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I have written about GMOs (genetically modified organisms) from the position that these genetic modifications, unlike the ones our artificial selection processes have been created, skip over steps that may produce non-viable results and, therefore aren’t “vetted” by nature. In John Hively’s blog is a report on one case of “what could go wrong” by the generic engineer inventor himself. I think this is must reading for anyone concerned about GMOs, bees, our future survival, corporate bad behavior, etc.

GMO Potato Scientific Founder Says GMO Potato’s are a Pandora’s Box of Troubles

PS I am not saying we shouldn’t investigate GMOs; I am saying we should go slow because the safety protocols needed are immediately obvious.

 

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