Thursday 29th of July 2021

a bit of transhumanism...


Our universe exists through the relative integrity of substances, that are mostly transforming from hot to cold while expanding in the space/time field.

The dynamics of our universe are random changes in the integrity of substances in the field of space/time, according to the hot (highly energised) and cold (lowly energised) status.

Some relationships between substances infer different states of stability an density.

At this level, substances can be elementary particles to complex molecules and conglomeration of substances such as stars, suns and planets, hot plasma, living organisms and dark matter.

The integrity of substances can be broken by energy (high or low) in whatever format (kinetic, radiation and fields) through strength of signal/impact, with threshold of resistance versus failure, such as tipping points and breaking point of substance assemblages. 

Our consciousness stems from the fine evolved complexity of substances that has allowed perception of changes and analysis of the changes in the environmental factors. The consciousness of humans allow for a relative investigation of the universe, while some other animals only analyse and memorise their immediate environment.

Now through the long cascade of interactions of particle and our ability to relatively investigate the universe, we have entered the worlds of imagination, beliefs and now TRANSHUMANISM…

Transhumanism has nothing to do with sexuality, but in our willingness or refusal to let individual/social abilities to augment our humanity with machines or things. We have been doing this for a long time since Archimedes invented the lever — and since 1767, when German scientist Jacob Christian Schaffer invented the washing machine. 

(Say, Schaffer was a jack-of-all-trades with degrees in theology and philosophy —and was also a member of academic societies. The first patent for a rotating drum washing machine was issued by Henry Sidgier in 1782. Edward Beetham successfully marketed and sold several ‘patent washing mills’ across England in the early 1790s. In 1797, the first patent titled ‘Clothes Washing’ was awarded to a New Hampshire inventor Nathaniel Briggs. There is no depiction of the device owing to the 1836 fire of the patent office. Bugger…)

But now, are some of us  are prepared to “cyborg” ourselves — and become part humans-part machines?… Welcome to TRANSHUMANISM.

Transhumanism is a movement of people around the world who want to apply science and technology to transcend the limitations of our human biology. 

There are three aims to transhumanism: super longevity — super intelligence — super well being

This is not a new idea. As the readers of this site would know, we have mentioned the mechanical ducks and the automated flute players of the 18th century that were driven by springs and complex camshafts. Early in the 20th century, one of the father of fascism, an artist, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, was in favour of turning humans into cold steel machines.

“... It is not a question of the machine alone, but of the human body. The human body must become metallic like the machine, in order to subjugate it.”

“Through living dangerously, life must become hard, metallic…”

But now this utopia is taking shape with a collection of more discreet more powerful appendages. This is the next level where our intelligence is becoming boosted by computerised memories and our bodies are made to feel better-happiness as well as enjoying permanent health. No pain.

The shape of democracy under these conditions is likely to go pear-shape as not everyone would have the opportunity to become transhuman and the transhuman would be by definition superior to others. This enthusiastic elitism could lead to a breakup of the human species and overpopulation.

Many Dr Who episodes have tackled this problem, while “FORBIDDEN PLANET”, the movie is a warning tale of pushing the boundaries of the mind too far, not so much because of our “dark side” (psychopathy and sociopathy which exist as our natural defence/offence mechanisms and can become nefarious when not under control) but mostly due to our ability to LIE TO OURSELVES. 

The religious dudes would object of course, because they have already done their augmentation of human status with the idea of god, through prayers and souls, which are their conduits to become super-humans, should we believe(!).

But will we reach this techno-human “Nirvana”? The question may not be about our ability to develop the transhuman in us, but to prevent the morons in charge of the political systems to become more stupid than they presently are. Imagine that the USA president is doing everything in his power to egg on the Chinese and the Russians with badly chosen insults and dangerous sabre-rattling. How gauche and how antiquated. How stupid and diplomatically deficient. The Chinese are only asserting their own existence, while the Russians are trying to preserve their turf while trading on proper terms. And most of us, anyhow, have human-rights bypass, otherwise Julian Assange would not be in prison. 

The pretexts and the manipulations from the USA which are designed to maintain their status as top dog are appalling. We are risking the future of humanity with this fanfare. Meanwhile the planet is suffering from various human activities, from burning fossil fuel leading to global warming — to polluting with many dangerous chemicals and plastics. So far, our pseudo-transhumanity is not working too well, but we are nonetheless improving by default.

What is astonishing is that we’re only suffering from one major plague at a time and we have one solution (albeit with several variations thereof vaccines) to deal with it. Imagine that other viruses amongst the many million species of them start to become nastily pandemical, and our ability to cope would be seriously lacking. Mind you, diseases such as malaria and cancer are still around us but we’re too preoccupied with the corona to even talk about it. 

I’ve had more friends die from cancer (7) this year, than from the coronavirus (0) — and I still manage my propensity to become feverish-alla-malaria with a tad of quinine daily. It’s illusory I know, but as some of us know, believing is half the cure…

So how how do we become a TRANSHUMAN. To a great extend we already are… We replace knees with titanium joints, we do hip replacements, we take drugs, from aspirin to Prozac — and WE USE COMPUTERS, as our latest tool of communication, investigation and extended memory. And we use many such machines like Romans used slaves for air conditioning.

Our medical history shows that we should have died a decade ago, but adjusted control of health and hygiene has extended our life-span. A priest with an iPhone is a transhuman who believes in god. 

So today we get the news:

A new study details the advances made by an artificial intelligence (AI) program developed by scientists at IBM whose sole purpose is to best humans in debates.

Project Debater, the AI in development for several years at the tech giant, picks a side and argues its case using a technique known as ‘argument mining’, wherein the machine parses and links together the most useful relevant sections of arguments by parsing a vast archive of some 400 million news articles on a given subject. 

A new study published in Nature details the power, and limitations, of the system and its underlying architecture, especially when compared against previous ‘triumphs’ of AI over humanity.

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We’re doomed, aren’t we?...


Free Julian Assange Now !!!!!!!!

learning the future...

Two weeks after Amelia's first day of school last March, she was suddenly unable to go anymore. Her school had been shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. But for the first grader from Uruguay, it wasn't such a big deal. She learned the alphabet by way of digital tutorials, and she had so much fun with the digital math lessons that she did additional exercises. There were video conferences three times a week, so she could get to know her teacher and classmates better. And under the leadership of her physical education teacher, Amelia, 7, did gymnastics exercises in her living room.

Amelia, though, is not some well-off pupil at a private school. She goes to a public school in Uruguay's capital of Montevideo. And like all of the other schoolchildren in the small country sandwiched between Argentina and Brazil, she received her tablet computer from the state.

Uruguay has been investing in digital education for years in addition to making it accessible to everyone. The country's education system was better prepared for the pandemic than most of the other countries in the region, and also better than many in the wealthy West. Whereas some teachers in Germany had no contact with their students for several weeks, there was a constant exchange between pupils and teachers in Uruguay. Instead of blurry scans and erroneous internet links hiding content that could not be found, Uruguay was able to offer schoolchildren digital schoolbooks with science experiments, homework in the form of quizzes or games, interactive video conferences, personalized exercises, and chats to clear up any questions.

Uruguay has been investing in digital education for years in addition to making it accessible to everyone. The country's education system was better prepared for the pandemic than most of the other countries in the region, and also better than many in the wealthy West. Whereas some teachers in Germany had no contact with their students for several weeks, there was a constant exchange between pupils and teachers in Uruguay. Instead of blurry scans and erroneous internet links hiding content that could not be found, Uruguay was able to offer schoolchildren digital schoolbooks with science experiments, homework in the form of quizzes or games, interactive video conferences, personalized exercises, and chats to clear up any questions.

It has already been more than 10 years since the country – as one of six around the world – introduced a one-laptop-per-child policy. On top of that, Uruguay installed free internet in public squares around the country, including in rural areas, and also founded a state agency for digital education called Plan Ceibal. "In general, the last school year worked quite well," says Fiorella Haim, a manager at Plan Ceibal.

All that makes Uruguay the exception in a region where the educational prognosis tends to be disastrous. UNICEF believes that 2020 was a lost year for millions of schoolchildren in Latin America. Around a third of the children, the UN agency believes, hardly learned anything at all, while more than 3 million will likely never return to school. Experts believe that it will be more of the same in 2021, with lockdowns and school closures.

"Children, particularly those from poorer families, are the biggest losers of this crisis. Their dream of a better future has already been destroyed," says Brazilian education expert Claudia Costin, a former senior director for education at the World Bank. In addition, she says, the schooling crisis has intensified the already extreme educational inequalities on the continent.

Private schools and their clientele were much better able to deal with the closures, Costin says. She also observed the phenomenon of "illegal schools," in which wealthy parents, or those in the upper-middle class, hired private teachers for their children – while poor children in public schools didn't even have access to computers or internet at home.

In Uruguay, 85 percent of all schoolchildren attend public schools. "When education shifted online last March, we were able to react flexibly," says Haim, the manager from Plan Ceibal. The agency has been providing continuing education to teachers for years and also operates a centralized platform for digital schoolbooks, from which exercises and content can be downloaded.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Plan Ceibal expanded the capacity of its servers "essentially overnight." In addition, the country began offering every schoolchild 50 gigabytes of free internet per month. "Ninety-eight percent of the children regularly used the digital lessons," says Haim. Poorer children in rural areas also participated. "We don't know exactly how we did it, but we did."

The experts, though, all agree that laptops alone aren't enough. A coherent concept is necessary. The example of Uruguay demonstrates first and foremost that digital education materials are vital, which is why Plan Ceibal also promotes the development of innovative software solutions. The agency, for example, purchased the digital book EduCiencias, which teaches children the natural sciences in a playful manner. It looks like a comic, with a cat helping out with physics experiments, for example. "We want digital lessons to be fun and motivational for the children," says developer Federico Bello. "To achieve that goal, we work together with pedagogical experts and psychologists."

Bello left his job at the Central Bank of Uruguay in 2018 to establish the startup Edu Editorial with two friends. They are currently working on a new platform called Boki, which is designed to help teachers produce exciting digital presentations. "Frontal instruction can be combined with experiments, animations, videos, interactive games and competitions," Bello says.

In addition, he and his colleagues are developing an app intended to help students better deal with emotional problems like stress and fear. The products from Edu Editorial have already been exported to Peru, Chile and Mexico. This year, the founders hope to expand into the Arab market.

Bello doesn't understand why there are children in rich countries like Germany without access to a computer and internet. In a digital world, he sees it as being a right for children. "Every child should have a laptop and internet," he says. "We've managed to do it too."

With its 3.5 million inhabitants, Uruguay is much smaller, and much better off than most other countries in the region. But it is far away from being a wealthy country – in the global rankings, it is below average. "It is a question of priorities and will," says Miguel Brechner, an expert in digital education who founded Plan Ceibal in 2007. "Our president back then, Tabaré Vázquez Rosas had a great vision. He wanted every child to be able to do anything they wanted." Plan Ceibal costs $100 per child each year, including the laptop, teacher material, teacher training and internet at schools. Parents even end up saving money because they have to buy fewer books and teaching materials.

Brechner has now also begun consulting countries and international organizations on educational issues. He says that when people ask him these days if it is really necessary for every schoolchild to have a laptop and internet access, he asks: "Do we really need electricity and warm water?" He says he is in no way interested in replacing teachers with technology. "But we can't just continue on as we were before the pandemic," Brechner says. "We are living in the 21st century and have 19th century schools."

Regarding the German school system, education expert Costin says that it is by-and-large quite good. "But when you are very good at something, there is frequently a danger that you become lazy, that the desire and energy for innovation wanes." Uruguay managed to build something essentially from nothing, she says. But that doesn't mean that Germany should become like Uruguay, she adds. The country is in second place in the PISA rankings for South America, but in global comparisons, the region doesn't perform well, she says, adding that not everything is perfect. Still, it is possible to learn something from Uruguay's success: "The future has to be a hybrid of online and offline teaching so that we are better prepared for future crises."

Margarete Sachs-Israel, UNICEF's regional education advisor for Latin America, believes that another reason Uruguay is such a successful model is because it reopened its schools early on in the crisis. There is simply no substitute for in-classroom teaching and contact with other schoolchildren and teachers. "School closures don't just impair learning, but also the health and safety of the children," she says. Many children in Latin America are dependent on school meals, she points out. Plus, domestic violence and child labor have both risen sharply as a result of the crisis.

The first schools that reopened in Uruguay were those with fewer pupils in rural areas, a strategy intended to reach the most vulnerable schoolchildren, but also to collect experience with protective measures and to lower the fears of the virus among parents and teachers. The fact that many countries around the world have simply kept schools closed, essentially forcing children to bear the lion's share of the crises burden, is something that infuriates Sachs-Israel. "We now know from studies that there are workable hygiene concepts for schools," she says.

Amelia, the elementary school pupil in Montevideo, also returned to school after four months, in contrast to most other children in Latin America. Even there, though, her tablet is an important part of her lessons. She says she especially likes all of the virtual buttons she can push on her tablet. And the seven-year-old also has a pretty good idea of she wants to be when she grows up – a job that will let her push all kinds of buttons: "spaceship pilot."

This piece is part of the Global Societies series. The project runs for three years and is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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saint-exupéry's machine...

In this chapter on transhumanism, above, I wrote: 


"But now, are some of us  are prepared to “cyborg” ourselves — and become part humans-part machines?… Welcome to TRANSHUMANISM.


Transhumanism is a movement of people around the world who want to apply science and technology to transcend the limitations of our human biology. 



There are three aims to transhumanism: super longevity — super intelligence — super well being


This is not a new idea...: 



This concept was also explored by St-Exupéry, the writer of “The Little Prince” — possibly the most published book on the planet after the bible — in his book “Terre des Hommes”. The english translation of the title is poor: Wind, Sand and Stars” does nothing to tell us this book is about the "Human Earth”… It’s about relationships and progress and adventure of the human spirit on this little planet. Published in 1939, by the 1960s, it had already sold more than 2 million copies in France alone. Saint-Exupéry died aged 44, possibly shot down by a German aviator during WW2.


But his legacy still lives on. Our mate, Jules Letambour, provides us with a translation of a bit of transhumanism as seen by Saint-Exupéry. Relating to his friend, Guillaumet, a French aviation pioneer, Saint-Exupéry tells us:



The plane


What does it matter, Guillaumet, if your days and nights of work go by checking manometers, balancing yourself on gyroscopes, listening to engine blasts, supporting your back against fifteen tons of metal: the problems that are posed to you are, in the end, human problems, and you immediately join, on the same level, the noble mountaineer. As well as a poet, you know how to relish the announcement of dawn. From the depths of the abyss of difficult nights, you have so often wished for the appearance of this pale bouquet, this light that flows, in the east, above the dark lands. This miraculous fountain, sometimes in front of you, slowly thawed and healed you when you thought you were dying.


The use of a learned instrument has not made you a dry technician. It seems to me that they confuse goal and means, those who are too frightened by our technical progress. Anyone who struggles in the sole hope of material goods, indeed, does not reap anything worth living. But the machine is not a goal. The plane is not a goal: it is a tool. A tool like the plow.


If we believe that the machine damages humans it is because, perhaps, we lack perspective to judge the effects of transformations as rapid as those we have undergone. What are the hundred years of machine history compared to the two hundred thousand years of human history? We barely settle into this landscape of mines and power plants. We have barely started to live in this new house that we have not even finished building. Everything has changed so quickly around us: human relations, working conditions, customs. Our very psychology has been shaken to its most intimate bases. The notions of separation, absence, distance, return, if the words have remained the same, no longer contain the same realities. To capture the world today, we use a language that was established for the world of yesterday. And the life of the past seems to us to respond better to our nature, for the sole reason that it responds better to our language.


Each progress has driven us a little further out of habits we had barely acquired, and we are truly emigrants who have not yet founded their homeland.


We are all young barbarians whom our new toys still amaze. Our plane races have no other meaning. This one climbs higher, runs faster. We forget why we run it. The race, temporarily, wins over its object. And it is always the same. For the colonialist who founds an empire, the meaning of life is to conquer. The soldier despises the settler. But wasn't the goal of this conquest to establish this settler? So in the exaltation of our progress, we made men serve in the establishment of railways, in the erection of factories, in the drilling of oil wells. We had somewhat forgotten that we were erecting these constructions to serve us. Our morality was, during the period of the conquest, that of soldiers. But now we have to colonise. We need to bring this new house to life, which does not yet have a face. The truth, for one, was to build, it is, for the other, to inhabit.


Our house will undoubtedly become, little by little, more human. The machine itself, the more it perfects itself, the more it fades behind its role. It seems that all the industrial effort of the human, all his calculations, all his nights of waking over the drawings, as visible signs, only end in simplicity, as if the experience of several generations to gradually release the curve of a column, a hull, or an airplane fuselage, until they return to the elementary purity of the curve of a breast or a shoulder. It seems that the work of engineers, draftsmen, calculators of the design office is thus in appearance, only to polish and erase, to lighten this connection, to balance this wing, until we no longer notice it, until there is no longer a wing attached to a fuselage, but a perfectly open form, finally freed from its matrix, a sort of spontaneous whole, mysteriously linked, and of the same quality as that of the poem. It seems that perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to take away. At the end of its evolution, the machine hides itself.



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view from above...

More translation by Jules Letambour of "Terre des Hommes".




The plane and the planet




The plane is no doubt a machine, but what a great instrument of analysis! This instrument made us discover the true face of the earth. The roads, in fact, for centuries have deceived us. We resembled this Queen who wished to visit her subjects to know if they rejoiced under her reign. Her courtiers, in order to deceive her, only drove her through happy scenery, and paid theatre-extras, to dance there. Out of this deceiving thread, she saw nothing of her kingdom, and did not know that, off in the countryside, those who were dying of hunger cursed her.


So we walked along the winding roads. Roads avoid barren land, rocks, sands, they meet the needs of humanity and go from fountain to fountain. They lead the countrymen out of their sheds to wheat fields, and take the cattle still asleep from the barns, at dawn, to the alfalfa fields. Roads join this village to this other village, because from one to the other we get married. And if even one of the roads ventures to cross a desert, it will make twenty detours to reach the oases. Thus deceived by their paths as by so many of indulgent lies, having followed, during our journeys so many well-watered lands, so many orchards, so many meadows, we have long beautified the image from our prison. This planet, we believed was moist and tender.


But our eyesight sharpened, and we made a cruel progress. With the plane, we learned the straight line. As soon as we take off we let go of these paths that incline towards the drinking troughs and stables, or meander from town to town. Freed henceforth from the old beloved pathways, delivered from the need of fountains, we are heading for our distant goals. Only then, from the top of our rectilinear trajectories, we discover the essential earth, the bedrock of rocks, sand, and salt, where life, sometimes, like a little moss in the hollow of ruins, here and there, ventures to bloom. So we are changed into physicists, biologists, examiners of these civilisations that adorn deep valleys, and, sometimes, miraculously, flourish like parks when the climate favours them. Here we are, judging humanity on a cosmic scale, observing it through our portholes, as through laboratory instruments. Here we are discovering our true story.



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