24 September 2005

A Tale of Two Cities

Hurricane Rita slammed into the Texas and Louisiana coasts Saturday, bringing strong winds and a significant storm surge. New Orleans was flooded once again, but this time the city was depopulated, and there was no repeat of the primitive lawlessness that occurred after Hurricane Katrina.

Houston, Texas, received a strong lashing from hurricane winds. Some looters tried to take advantage of the largely evacuated city, and the adverse weather. Houston was better prepared than New Orleans. Many looters were arrested, and many more were discouraged by the presence of either police officers, or citizen armed patrols. Certainly Houston contained a large number of criminals, just as New Orleans did. The state and local authorities in Houston were competent and aware, unlike their counterparts in Louisiana and New Orleans. There were none of the rapes, murders, carjackings, and other lawlessness that made New Orleans famous for all the wrong reasons.

Houston functioned as a modern, western city. New Orleans functioned as a city in Haiti, or better yet, Hades. Why the difference? Not very many miles separate the two cities. Houston was not flooded like New Orleans, but the hurricane's passage provided an excellent opportunity for the stay-behind criminal, just as it did in New Orleans.

Incompetence of local government officials, due to corrupted democratic institutions, is probably responsible for the Louisiana disaster. New Orleans had simply developed into an incredibly foul nest. It required a catastrophic event of nature to demonstrate just how foul.

The example of Houston's behaviour under duress should provide some encouragement that Louisiana is not representative of the United States, North America, or the increasingly multicultural developed world in general. That is most fortunate, since it is this multicultural aspect of the developed world which is growing the most rapidly. These new arrivals must pull their fair share of the load, rather than becoming freeloaders as many fear they will be. The technological progress required to push humans over the hump depends upon developed nations maintaining a high productivity.

Next level humans are waiting to be born.
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17 September 2005

Right Ascension

I have a confession to make. I do not really believe in "the singularity." Certainly I have links on the sidebar leading to several long discussions about the implications of the singularity, or "the omega point," as it is sometimes called. The concept is an important one, and approximates roughly what is likely to happen, unless the hyper-luddites of the left and right bring scientific progress to a screeching halt.

To actually reach the singularity is more difficult than to talk about it. It may be impossible. Like Zeno's paradoxes, you can approach the target but you can never strike it. Consider the state of affairs that would constitute a "singularity" to a modern between-levels human. Then consider the state of affairs that would constitute a "singularity" to a next-level human. They are not the same.

Humans have not reached their ultimate potential, even with the currently evolved genome. Changes in environmental parameters, particularly pre-natal environment, but also early childhood environment, have significant potential to improve mean human intelligence, by lifting some of the lower tail values. Significant statistically, but not nearly enough for our purposes.

The genome has to be modified, very carefully. Mind and brain need time to co-evolve into new realities. How long? It takes human girl infants about two years to become little chatterboxes. Human boys may take three years. Any adult humans who try to make the transformation will have to go through years of intense adjustment, similar to the early childhood years. The person who emerges may not resemble the original person very closely. No one knows.

Parallel to research in increasing human intelligence, is research into machine intelligence. Machines have no "rights organisations," so researchers can do what they like with machines, then discard them. The combination of research into machine intelligence, cognitive science, nanotechnology, and information technology, is leading inexorably toward new forms of intelligence. Humans had best do what they can to keep up.
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03 September 2005

Descent into the Inferno

Last week in the US city of New Orleans, a large number of people descended into hell on earth. Following the breach of a flood levee, the partially evacuated city lapsed into total lawlessness, as the city police joined the looters, or simply deserted their posts and left the city. As the city government collapsed into uselessness, the Louisiana state government apparently failed to fill the gap, even lacking an individual to place in charge of the logistics of relief efforts. This failure of local government to attempt to meet the needs of a devastating emergency boggles the mind.

The entire world was treated to stories of massive lootings, arson, rape, pillage, and murder. A small group of mostly European and Australian tourists, racially white, were threatened with death repeatedly by the black co-refugees inside the major evacuation centers inside New Orleans. These tourists were very afraid that the police could not protect them, and the police admitted as much. In the midst of an incredible human disaster, they were threatened because they were white. Not in Haiti, not in Cote d'Ivoire. In the United States of America, the richest nation in the world.

Thank goodness for the US military and its ability to get to disasters quickly. Despite the failure of local and state government, the US Navy, Coast Guard, and other elements of the US military were able to ultimately bring relief and order back into the chaos and impromptu human violence -- and make the place safe again for civilian forces. But what if there was no US military -- or if the US military were as incompetent and corrupt as most other militaries of the world? Things would have turned out much differently.

In order for the progress toward the singularity, toward the next level, to take place, civilisation has to maintain its hold on at least the developed world. The rule of law must be maintained, law and order must provide the stability for progress.

Various subcultures naturally develop in the freedom of the western world, where multiculturalism is celebrated, and some of these subcultures will inevitably become dysfunctional at some point. This dysfunctionality must be pointed out, and corrected both by the leaders of society at large, by the media in the society, and by respected people within the subculture itself. If the subculture has devolved too far to produce respected people from within, who will oppose its dysfunctionality, then other means of protecting society will have to be worked out, preferably while still respecting everyone's freedoms and rights.

This problem is something that will have to be dealt with eventually. I suspect that it will be contained well enough to allow the transitions I have been describing to occur among much of the population. At that point, better ideas for turning the negative devolution into a positive evolution will be produced.

It would be nice if a developed society of modern between-levels humans could come up with solutions for this problem that they themselves are responsible for, but between-levels humans are not far evolved above primitive level humans themselves. The dominance of the shit-throwing monkeys (post-modernist dogmatists and the political correctness police) in academia, government, and much of the corporate world is testimony to that.

No, it seems clear to me that the appearance of a significant number of next level humans will be necessary, before any meaningful solution to this "devolution in the middle of evolution" can be found.


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