This is the fourth installment in the series “God’s Eye View”
Part 1 – Mathematical Theories of Life
Part 2 – Intuition, Governance Tokens, and Training Kids to Bet Big
Part 3 – Civic Tech, the Wisdom of Crowds and Off-Shore Sandboxes
Please bear with me if this post seems a bit more rambling than usual. I’ve been trying to process a lot of ideas bubbling up and it’s been a challenge to pin them down. I don’t know that I did a great job of it, but I need to move on. All of this is still simmering on the back burner. I welcome your thoughts in the comments.
When the FTX debacle blew up last fall I’d already left social media. Knowing public drama is generally a strategic spectacle, I didn’t look into Sam Bankman-Fried at the time. I viewed him as an expendable young guy who’d been tapped to advance the plot. How did Alameda and FTX gain that much traction in the first place? He was wet behind the ears, didn’t even have a PhD – which seems to be a prerequisite for elite quant jobs. Bankman-Fried’s very public fall was a necessary step in a larger campaign to steer public perception of distributed ledger technology away from its largely crypto-centric identity, one intentionally steeped in greed, speculation, and blatant corruption. In these smoking ruins, blockchain could then get a makeover as a “neutral” tool that could be productively repurposed to advance the “public good” and digital “democracy.”
Raul’s article pointed out the link between FTX and online poker fraud via lawyer Daniel Friedberg. I then discovered Alameda Research had backed The Secret Network’s private smart contract roll out, making it just a few steps removed from the Ultimate Bet by way of Iovation’s fraud monitoring software and Intel Capital. Flaws in Intel’s hardware had left The Secret Networks’ data open to decryption. The opportunity to secure a “god’s eye view” in poker or in futures trading, games defined by information asymmetry, is a terrible temptation. The value of data as “the new oil” isn’t simply as a commodity that can be used to generate profit. The importance of data is to secure a tactical advantage over your competition in the big game of life.
It was Bankman-Fried’s LinkedIn profile that brought me to elusive Pennsylvania billionaire Jeff Yass and Susquehanna Investment Group’s arbitrage prowess. Sam’s first job out of MIT was at Jane Street, another low-profile market-making firm that handles billions in Exchange Traded Funds each day. The firm was started in 1999 with staff from Susquehanna; its founders were trained on high-level applied mathematics and many, many rounds of poker at SIG’s casino-grade poker tables.
After Jane Street, but before starting Alameda Research, Bankman-Fried worked for two months as Director of Development for the Centre for Effective Altruism, an Oxford-based think-tank/charity started in 2012 by philosophers William MacAskill and Toby Ord. Bankman-Fried’s embrace of data-driven “charity” was spotlighted by the mainstream media. Surely that agenda will continue to advance, along with universal basic income, digital citizenship, and token engineering. In reality, it’s about installing the policy, financial, and sensor infrastructure needed to catalyze post-Moore’s-law computing. Distributed ledger technology has always been meant to function as a “decentralized” steering wheel, guiding (and harvesting) the “wisdom of crowds.”
The Centre for Effective Altruism operates out of Trajan House, a space it shares with:
The Future of Humanity Institute led by Nick Bostrom, an interdisciplinary project focused on “big-picture” ideas around human civilization
The Global Priorities Institute working in the area of decision making around “doing the most good”
The Forethought Foundation funding research around longtermism
The Centre for the Governance of AI that addresses transitioning humans to an advanced AI era
The Global Challenges Project offering workshops to students about existential risk and moral decision making, and
Our World in Data, a collaboration between researchers at Oxford University and the Global Change Data Lab.
Eric Drexler, a pioneer theorist in molecular nanotechnology who wrote the 1987 “Engines of Creation: the Coming Era of Nanotechnology,” is embedded in a number of the Trajan House initiatives. Not only is he a fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute, Drexler is also an advisor to the Centre for the Governance of AI and an affiliate of the Centre for Effective Altruism.
It was Drexler who first proposed a “grey goo” scenario in which self-replicating robots take over the world through ecophagy, a theme featured in a Super Bowl advertisement featuring “White Noise” star, Adam Driver. In this case Squarespace replaced “robots making robots making robots” with “websites making websites making websites.” Midway through the ad, a vortex is opened up by the Singularity, sucking in all but the original Driver who is left standing in the desert in a torn suit. The sequence calls to mind the centerpiece of the film “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” the black vortex everything bagel. Then of course you’ve got the East Palestine derailment mirroring “White Noise’s” plot line – an airborne toxic event where several residents of the town had actually been extras in the film. Extras whose last name is part of the title of one of DeLillo’s early, most inscrutable works, about high level mathematics and astronomy – “Ratner’s Star.” What are they trying to tell us?
Drexler, with his first wife Christine Peterson and James Bennett, founded the Foresight Institute in 1986 based in San Francisco. Many early members had ties to L5, an effort to promote space colonization in the 1970s. Foresight was created to focus on molecular manufacturing but is now working in the areas of “intelligent cooperation,” neurotechnology, longevity, and health extension.
One of Eric Drexler’s recent projects involved theorizing a new vector and graph language for intelligent machines. In reading Drexler’s paper, I remembered that in the first chapter of Oliver Reiser’s “World Sensorium,” he lays out the need for a new language that will trigger the age of cosmic humanism by creating a “medium which remains invariant for all, so that whosoever choose may read or talk about it.” He continues on page 28: “The job is to find a layout, a picture basis, so simple and so huge that is it seeable by anyone who has mastered the movies or can punch a radio panel.” The ideal language would be “in psycho-social motion for spiritual traveling” and would “shrink all knowledge so that it can be put on an all-history, all-world basis for invariant transfer across social wholes.” Such a language, Reiser thought, would bring about global unification and a planetary democracy through “language-logic” emancipation. He then suggests that musical composition may be the starting point for a means of communication that lies outside linguistic frameworks, citing Pythagoras’s music of the spheres on page 30: “this method not only has wide applications in electricity, but as will some day appear, has possibilities of development through the treatment of electromagnetic fields of force at work in biological and other super-physical systems.”
Note the feature image for this post, the logo of the Centre for Effective Altruism, is a heart confined within a lightbulb – an energetic pulse contained within an artificial field. For more insights into this I recommend Stephers’s posts “Getting to the Heart of the Social Distancing Matter” and “Tuned In – A Mother’s Intuition on Transmission from the Jabbed to the Un-Jabbed.” I believe Reiser was onto something with energetic entrainment as a new form of psychical communication and that Metaverse mesmerists may be in the process of tapping into that potential. Reviewing the history of the Neurophone and reflecting on John Lilly’s research into dolphins, it seems alternative communication systems have been the works for quite some time. I was somewhat stunned to find out that, Project Xanadu’s, Ted Nelson and, Macy Conference anthropologist, Gregory Bateson were also involved in Lilly’s dolphin work. Bateson’s daughter Nora is also affiliated with Jim Rutt’s “Game B.” This article, “Music and the Transhuman Ear: Ultrasonics, Material Bodies, and the Limits of Sensation,” shared with me by Stephers may offer some insight into this headspace. What if AI language is actually an acoustic frequency beyond the normal reach of our senses but through engineered prosthetics (visual, audio, bio-fields) we could access information in novel ways that bridge our minds to artificial intelligences. Stanford neuroscientist David Eagleman is actively working on sound to touch sensory substitution and a variety of technologies to extend our ability to “sense” frequencies beyond the reach of our innate biological equipment.
I imagine this is not unlike the synesthesia or heightened awareness experienced in altered states of consciousness. It recalls the AI character “Jane” from Orson Scott Card’s “Enderverse” world who “speaks” to Ender’s mind through a jewel in his ear – a sensory prosthetic. A “hearing aid” but not in the traditional sense. It is darkly humorous that in the plot line Jane emerged from the Enderverse’s equivalent of the internet, manifested by the Hive Queen (eusociality) to be a mental bridge to the boy soldier. She then became Ender’s “investment manager” and close confidant. I bet Jane would be a formidable poker opponent.
So, a new language that exists outside current constructs, perhaps outside biology itself…through which agents in the game can access all knowledge across time…and that may incorporate electro-magnetic principles to prepare society for spiritual traveling. That’s quite an ambitious program. Drexler’s project may not be shooting quite that high, and yet his proposed vector-graph exchanges are something I need to mull over. I recently presented on Rihanna’s halftime Super Bowl performance where pheromones were prominently featured. Could such a “language” be like a musical pheromone represented through graphical annotation?
We know there is considerable interest in the scientific community to digitize taste and smell for Metaverse experiences and to use technology to tweak our sensory experiences like “hearing” through haptics. I didn’t mention it in my halftime show analysis, but the fact Justina Miles’s sign-language interpretation of Rihanna’s performance went viral seems to me to indicate the importance of acoustics to extended reality. Maybe our current conception of how we “hear” is being taken in a new direction? Jim Sorenson is a key figure is social impact finance who has played an active role in the deaf community for many years. One of his companies, Sorenson Communication, is a global leader in providing closed captions for video calls and sign language services for video conferencing. Ten Sorenson employees were involved in an unusual sidewalk / pedestrian car crash next to a food truck while attending the DeafNation Expo in Austin last April. I’ve been curious about Second Life’s Philip Rosedale moving into spatial audio at High Fidelity, before coming back to his work in virtual world building. Rosedale seems to be very cozy with IEEE. I’m also thinking about Jordan Hall, a leader in Game B with an interest in blockchain and stigmergy, and his early success with MP3, digital music.
If Reiser’s universal communication were realized, would we be able to understand it directly? Perhaps due to their complexity, advanced concepts would need to be relayed to us through an interpreter, an AI personal assistant. I’m thinking of the AI librarian character in Neal Stephenson’s “Snowcrash” novel (the first use of the term Metaverse) who teaches Hiro Protagonist about Sumerian nam shubs, speech with magical force.
Drexler’s proposed new language is an outgrowth of the pattern-seeking behaviors undertaken by machine “intelligence” as it roams the vast quantities of data generated by fourth industrial revolution sensor technology. This paper, “Sensing the Future of Bioinformational Engineering,” shared with me by Stephers, is shocking in its out-in-the-open plans to transform biology using light and electrical signaling from a distance. Targets include humans, crops, even entire ecosystems! Now consider how much real time data this will generate. Of course “intelligent” machines are going to need to share information at levels beyond the comprehension of human minds.
The “Internet of Biological Things” (see lower screenshot) isn’t just about sensing, but sensing with a purpose. These sensors will ultimately be connected to actuators with the power to alter objects and agents being “sensed.”
Source Link: https://wrenchinthegears.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Sensing-the-future-of-bio-informational-engineering.pdf
Sensor networks are being installed across the globe, a networked, “outside in,” robotic infrastructure to launch a “regenerative” blockchain finance paradigm. We’re meant to live encased in “green” webs of encrypted data, supposedly to “save the planet.” The seventeen United Nations Sustainable Development Goals give structure to the sensor data, while distributed ledger technologies provide contextual depth through interoperability and metadata tags.
In trying to picture how an “agent” might be incorporated into an “intelligent” machine’s communication, I remembered the gif of an Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG) shared with me by Sebs Solomon last year. It’s a dynamic, complex form composed of nodes constantly moving outward as new information is added. To me this seems like an accurate representation of “goal-directed” life, a form that could be nudged through cybernetic processes like smart contract logic fed by invisible sensing technologies.
It seems to me that Drexler, in the spirit of building a noetic, networked “global brain,” may be seeking to go beyond the limitations of human biology and shape a new grammar to underpin programming of matter and “smart” guided evolution. Perhaps the semantic web, rule sets for managing data, is part of that trajectory? See Ross Quillian’s work for the US Airforce in the late 1960s around structuring human knowledge in a graphical format that would allow for future inferences.
For me this brings to mind the central conundrum in the movie “Arrival,” how to accurately translate alien Heptapod logograms. In thinking through this with Stephers today, she mentioned making the connection between the circular communications in the film and Enso circles created in the Zen tradition of spiritual calligraphy. These free-form brushstrokes could represent wholeness and perfection (closed) or development and movement (open). Zen Buddhism shares a synergy with Daoism, a complementary practice, both emphasizing order and harmony.
But what if we swap out “Arrival’s” aliens for artificially intelligent machines? What if tokenization of everything on planet Earth wasn’t simply about financialization or making interactions machine-readable? What if the constellations of networked tokens will be a new form of vector-based communication that can only be understood by the machines themselves? Would such a language enable “intelligent machines” to intervene in our lives and the environment through sensor networks, a supreme example of cybernetic “governance.” Would such intervention be used for overt domination? Or would the mechanical conductors embrace subtlety and wield their quasi-linguistic neural representations as covert “spells” we might not even be able to discern?
Today I was watching a recently posted talk by Belgian cyberneticist Francis Heyligan at a “Human Energy” conference held in Berkeley last year that went into considerable detail about his work at the Center Leo Apostel’s Evolution, Complexity and Cognition Group. The main thrust was around the Noosphere. His work centers complexity theory in emergence and the origins of life through simulation modeling of self-organizing systems.
I think back to Perry Marshall’s $10 million Evolution 2.0 grand challenge. Marshall, a high-powered business consultant from Chicago, is seeking nothing less than to pin down the origins of life. Perry believes that the singularity will not happen until we reimagine what computers are and asserts that humans are not computers. In a 2021 paper, “Biology Transcends the Limits of Computation,” Perry focuses on the cognitive nature of all life, down to the cell. He elaborates on Michael Levin’s work in bioelectricity and self-organizing systems, including bacterial colonies (biofilms) that use cognition at the cell level to adapt to changing environmental conditions. This occurs through a process called quorum sensing. Autoinducers convey messages among cells. Once the chemical messaging hits a certain threshold, action is taken.
I see similarities between this, Futarchy and the push to remake “democracy” for “radical participation” with blockchain identity and tokens. Zooming out to take in the bigger picture, I can’t help but think that planned innovations in voting aren’t a response to populist sentiment, but rather a means by which to invite humans to adopt a bacterial “quorum sensing” model. Transformative governance is not about any particular political movement, but about evolution, eugenics, and sociobiology – applying new fitness landscapes that preference agents conforming to the superorganism, biofilm, ant colony, global brain model.
Tokens represent the equivalent of the bacterial autodinducers engineered to direct activities of the collective towards specified outcomes. Ecologies of local currencies moving about populations of agents may one day act as population level biochemical signals. The end goal? Eusociality, the pinnacle of social organizing according to E.O. Wilson. Through consilience the social sciences will be melded with the hard sciences – sociology run according to the laws of physics.
This clip is from an interview between David Sloan Wilson, an evolutionary biologist retired from SUNY Binghampton and founder of the Human Energy Project, and Josiah Ober a classics professor at Stanford who specializes in the politics of the Athenian city-state and its application to modern governance. The two men open their discussion with the premise of the Athenian city states as cooperating and competing superorganisms.
This concept was applied to urban societies in general in an interesting book someone sent my way this week, “Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligence for the Human Hivemind,” written by Marilyn Hamilton in 2008. It is aligned with Don Beck’s Center for Human Emergence that promotes integral theory and spiral dynamics, a topic we’ll cover later in a discussion of Transpartisan politics. You can see from the entries in the book’s seventh chapter how token signals could bridge the gap between social physics and smart governance within the context of “Limits to Growth” homeostasis.
Last year Ralph Merkle; a leader in public key cryptography, molecular engineering, and cryonics, published “DAOs, Democracy, and Governance,” in which he proposed a policy infrastructure that would tap the “wisdom of crowds” to create a self-improving society using distributed ledger technology, prediction markets, and voting on public wellbeing. Advisors on the paper listed in his acknowledgements included Nick Bostrom; Vitalik Buterin; Robin Hanson; Robert Freitas; Charles Hoskinson and Melanie Swann. As my friend Jason noted, that’s quite the dinner party.
I think they’re foisting this upon us to create a digital replica of the Earth, a simulation sandbox where they can explore alternative futures and gamify life. The system needs our consent, through our participation in token trading, to transform the Earth into a nature-machine hybrid super-organism. As many were captivated by Bitcoin and NFTs, Soulbound Tokens came on the scene. Could SBTs, used as meta-data tags, become the building blocks of a new language for “intelligent machines?” Natural Language Processing already relies on tokenizing elements of speech; and if the “language” of “the commons” ends up being “living” assemblies of nodes and edges, distributed ledger technology, then we’ll likely see the relationship between FTX billionaires and the effective altruism movement in a whole new light.
An engaging long-form piece published last summer in the New Yorker, “The Reluctant Prophet of Effective Altruism,” describes the evolution of William MacAskill, Effective Altruism’s co-founder, from a thoughtful risk-taking Scottish kid into the well-connected leader of what appears to be a techno-utopian cult grounded in scientific charity management undergirded by data analytics and harsh logic. An interesting tidbit in the New Yorker piece, given the gambling focus of this series, is that MacAskill was housemates for a time with Igor Kurganov, a professional Russian poker player more recently living in Austin who briefly advised Elon Musk’s donor-advised fund. Kurganov and his partner Liv Boeree launched their own “effective altruism” enterprise, Raising for Effective Giving, in 2014 where poker players agree to donate a percentage of their earnings to specific charities.
MacAskill and Bankman-Fried struck up a friendship while the latter was still in college. MacAskill had shown up to MIT to advise students on ethical life optimization. Growing up, Bankman-Fried’s parents were Stanford Law faculty who regularly hosted social gatherings where ethics were front and center. He was pretty much raised to be a utilitarian. The premise behind EA (Effective Altruism) is that adherents pledge to make a secular tithe of at least ten percent of their income and direct it to proven charitable ventures. EA culture is defined by competitive donation tracking with adherents eager to point out flaws in the impact metrics associated with the charities of their peers. A sub-plot that bubbled up from the FTX debacle was speculation that Bankman-Fried’s strong desire to make a lot of money in order to give it away to worthwhile causes led to lapses in judgment and a sense that their beneficent imperative led the firm to operate outside the law.
I have a different take. I view what happened as a controlled demolition that will, in part, allow social entrepreneurs to continue to advance a version of Effective Altruism with new forms of oversight, shifting towards decentralized governance. A tokenized “commons” waits in the wings. Greedy, crypto-bros and egg-head technocrats are convenient foils for quirky, green-pilled, collectivist token engineers who just want to democratize blockchain and solve poverty and the climate crisis.
I’m envisioning EA’s “Giving What We Can” pledge rebooted along the lines of the Gates/Buffett Giving Pledge with assets pooled to cover Universal Basic Income payments (GiveDirectly) or “public goods” projects. Picture a pool of matching funds for Gitcoin-type grants where winning proposals must demonstrate a broad-base of public support with relatively modest contributions from regular people. Of course, none of this can happen without infusions of concentrated wealth from the billionaire class. If social impact didn’t move the ball forward on the networked state “world brain” agenda, it wouldn’t happen.
A critique offered by Stanford professor Rob Reich in a 2015 op-ed in the Boston Review tees up my assessment rather nicely:
“Plato identified the best city as that in which philosophers were the rulers. Effective altruists see the best state of affairs, I think, as that in which good-maximizing technocrats are in charge. Perhaps it is possible to call this a politics: technocracy. But this politics is suspicious of, or rejects, the form of politics to which most people attach enormous value: democracy. Would effective altruists attach any independent value to democracy? Given the chance to craft social and political arrangements from scratch, would effective altruists select democratic rather than technocratic rule? I suspect the answer is no, and to that extent, effective altruism is in tension with the commonplace philosophy that identifies democracy as a powerful normative force.” Source
Sure, EA’s misguided approach can be addressed with a big dose of “democracy;” it’s just what the digital commoners ordered. Reich proceeds as if the plan is simply to continue the traditional democratic model as we’ve known for two centuries rather than acknowledge the planned transition to electronic governance model daily tokenized voting “signals” that will eventually be managed by our digital twin personal assistants.
An example of this trend is democracy.earth founded by Siri Santiago offering “tools for a borderless democracy, for everyone, everywhere.” Santiago is Argentinian game developer turned World Economic Forum global shaper who began working with Ethereum on digital ID “proof of humanity,” DAO education models, and now UBI. Santiago’s 2017 white paper “The Social Smart Contract” garnered support from UC Berkeley, Y Combinator, Singularity University, Fast Company, the World Economic Forum, TED, the South African Shuttleworth Foundation, FastForward, and the MIT Technology Review. democracy.earth is also supported by the Templeton World Foundation for human flourishing. The foundation’s assets are derived from John Templeton‘s fortune, a Tennessee-born developer of mutual fund products who moved to the Bahamas, was knighted by the Queen, and became a prominent philanthropist investing in research into genius, character, free markets, religion, and theoretical physics.
Despite its UK address, the Centre for Effective Altruism incorporated as a US nonprofit in Berkeley, CA in 2015 and has a large base of support in Silicon Valley. The 2020 990 tax form lists a 2443 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA mailing address; twenty-six million in assets (up from twelve and a half million the prior year of which $1.5 million were in donated crypto); four giving areas (animal welfare, global development, EA infrastructure, and the long-term future); five paid staff; and a board of five.
MacAskill was board chair and Max Dalton the president. Dalton, a UK-educated economist, sought to shift EA contributions away from immediate needs around poverty into planning for existential risk, including Generalized Artificial Intelligence, a “longtermist” outlook that took precedence after Sam Bankman-Fried’s assets began pouring into the organization.
The list of grants from 2020 begins on page 37 of the 990 document. In addition to projects addressing food access, malaria, animal rights, and nuclear proliferation, there were a large number of distributions for “research.” The Centre’s infrastructure program seeks to leverage philanthropy to “drive more high-quality talent, information, and capital towards tackling the world’s biggest problems.” page 2
Among the recipients of grants in 2020 were:
Innovations in Poverty Action – led by Dean Karlan, an MIT-trained economist who runs the Global Poverty Research Lab at the Kellogg Business School at Northwestern University, that conducts controlled randomized studies of aid programs
IDInsight – global data analytics consultancy focused on poverty in Africa and Asia
Machine Intelligence Research Institute – ensuring that artificial intelligence has positive impact
Mercatus Center – George Mason University free-market think tank focused on public policy
Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative – administrative support for projects around human survival
Metaculus – crowd-sourced prediction market focused on timing and impact of tech developments
GiveDirectly – Google-seeded platform to enable UBI payments direct to mobile phone
If you follow my research on smart environments, poverty management, biometric identity, and the use of social impact verification data to train artificial intelligence, a scan of the above list speaks to the type of game mechanics being put in place to manage the transition to the fourth industrial revolution. Digital enclosures are being sold to the oblivious masses as convenience, empowerment, and self-sovereignty when what they’re really setting up are panopticon poorhouses run by AI.
Sam’s nickname was the Bentham of crypto. Jeremy Bentham was an eighteenth-century British moral philosopher whose interest in technical poverty management inspired the EA movement. Bentham’s credo was the most happiness for the most people, felicific calculus. He is considered a founder of modern utilitarianism. The concept of measuring utility, or value, has become a central feature of economic modeling and decision theory since von Neumann and Morgenstern introduced the concept of mathematically representing utility function for rational agents in a given situation.
The rise of stakeholder capitalism, where behavioral data is linked to social impact finance, has led to a gradual turning away from the primacy of Gross Domestic Product measures to embrace happiness and well-being metrics, as well. It is such measurements promoted by economists like Richard Layard, that justified expansion of mental health services in the UK. Treatments, the type that would generate data, could be scaled if they were measured against productivity that might otherwise be lost to depression or anxiety. A 2006 article that I referenced in a 2019 post about ACEs (adverse childhood experiences), likened community mental health centres funded under Layard’s Benthamesque model as “a sort of Ikea for the mind.” Edwin Chadwick worked closely with Bentham. His focus was policies centering public health and sanitation and was among the first to systematically track illness spread in poor communities. He later became an expert in public service franchise contracts. I need to spend more time with, “The Economics of Edwin Chadwick: Incentives Matter,” but my intuition says Chadwick and Bentham’s economic frames are about to be applied to token engineering with a neo-Georgist (Henry) flair.
The Centre for Effective Altruism cannot be understood outside the context of Bentham’s panopticon and cult of meritocracy. I’m sharing the lengthy excerpt below from a blog post by Jenny Hughes with the University of Manchester theater department, because it brings in the issue of “moral” philosophers co-opting play into the machine. When I hear that Nvidia hopes to attach artificially intelligent assistants to children in order to code imaginary worlds into the Metaverse, it reminds me of the sinking stage. Bentham’s world needed to capture the physical effort of children, while today’s world demands access to their creativity and inner worlds.
There are many, many vulnerable communities being set up as targets for altruistic data harvest, but children – through universal pre-k finance – are on the leading edge. They need our protection.
“Perhaps less well known than the panopticon idea are Bentham’s proposals for the education of pauper children to be carried out in these new pauper panopticons. I found these ideas quite startling – and not at all what I expected...”
“For example, Bentham argues for a pauper management system based on the East India Company – that vanguard of free market capitalism – and here the poor are to be put to work in ‘industry houses’ that are made profitable, primarily, via child labour!“
“When considering the system of education to be developed in the pauper panopticons, Bentham spends some time describing suitable play and athletic activities… Bentham goes on to say that there should be opportunities for running, leaping, dancing, capering – but they must be linked to industry. This might happen via a structure called the ‘sinking stage’, which can be put to use for the purposes of pleasure, productivity and profitability, all in the same moment.”
“Sinking stage, for producing an up-and-down motion by the weight of children. A stage hanging at one end of a beam, with the other end of which is connected the burthen: water (suppose), to be raised by a bucket or by a pump, whether of the lifting or forcing kind. A certain weight pressing upon the stage causes it to sink. Children, each of a known weight, would in a certain number produce the effect. The length of the stage is adapted to the proposed number of the children and runs in a direction transverse to that of the beam: to arrive at the stage they run up an inclined plane. The stage may have two stories: the upper, requiring a longer hill to climb, will be for the older and stronger set of children. It might also, at each story, have two returns, parallel to each other, and at right angles to the first stage: the three together forming three sides of a square. The sport would be to which could first get into his place. Contrivance will of course be requisite to prevent the children from receiving hurt by any considerable disproportion produced on the sudden between the power and the burthen; but this is no more than what any mechanist will know how to provide for …”
“So, the aim is to provide an opportunity for play, pleasure and exercise, but also to put the energy expended by children in play to pecuniary uses. The power produced by the machinery here would presumably be directed in some way to speed up production. This is needed because, for Bentham, when pauper children are being educated: ‘no portion of time ought to be directed exclusively to the single purpose of comfort; but amusement, as well as every other modification of comfort, ought to be infused, in the largest possible dose the economy admits of, into every particle of the mass of occupations by which time is filled.”
“For me – I like that Bentham called these ‘sinking’ stages – I certainly have a sinking feeling when I sense the absence of my own preference for (and childhood experience of) free, unsupervised, undisciplined, completely purposeless, often dangerous, very dirty and extremely pleasurable play from past and present scripts of children’s education and development – but that’s another story.” source
In the name of social impact philanthropy, children’s bodies continue to be disciplined in educational settings; not using massive industrial kinetic structures, but rather wearables and play rubrics laid out by defense contractors with an interest in structuring their character. When we were raising our child, the Philadelphia School District saw dramatic budget cuts to the point that there were no longer staff available to watch children at recess. Families at more affluent schools raised funds to bring in “PlayWorks,” a national nonprofit that used Americorps volunteers to “make the most out of playtime.” They instituted recess rubrics; just the thing needed to measure impact! A primary funder of the program was the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. The largest contractor in the United States, one with serious ties to the CIA, exerted its influence over the structure of play in thousands of districts.
In addition to Bentham’s influence, it’s also important to reflect on the importance of altruism and self-sacrifice in the theory of eusociality advanced by controversial entomologist, conservationist, and father of the field of sociobiology E.O. Wilson. Eusociality is characteristic of social insects, and Wilson believed humans demonstrate a weak form of it as well. Wilson felt eusocial communities were the highest level of social organization. They are defined by three characteristics: cooperative care of the young; division of labor between a small number of reproducing adults and the rest of the workers; and overlapping generations living in the same colony.
Personally, I think Wilson was off target, but there are many advancing his ideas now, centering the need for extreme forms of cooperation (tokens anyone?) to address serious challenges. Wilson spent his career documenting encoded social rules of ant species and divisions of labor that enable colonies to act as unified superorganisms. Is it coincidence that an early pilot program of tokenized governance, conviction voting overseen by Michael Zargham of Blockscience, was the Aragon DAO Project. It used a native token with the acronym ANT. Yes, ant tokens! Also it was Ferdinand II of Aragon who initiated the Spanish Inquisition and arranged financing for Christopher Columbus’s voyages. An interesting set of facts considering that the “new world,” the next empire will be built on Web3.
14 thoughts on “God’s Eye View Part 4 – The Language of Heartless “Charity””
«The rise of stakeholder capitalism, where behavioral data is linked to social impact finance, has led to a gradual turning away from the primacy of Gross Domestic Product measures to embrace happiness and well-being metrics, as well.»
Indeed, they think they have found the “science” to make us “happy” through ACO Algorithms turning us from egoist leeches to collaborative bees in the Hive Mind.
“So, a new language that exists outside current constructs, perhaps outside biology itself…through which agents in the game can access all knowledge across time…and that may incorporate electromagnetic principles to prepare society for spiritual traveling.”
Thanks, as always, Alison, for your research. I have my particular focus based on where I’ve looked into the labyrinth most deeply, and your research has been illuminating and helpful as I continue. The quote above is part of this blog that jumped out for me. I don’t think the intention is to prepare people for spiritual traveling but to paint it as such. The construction of a new language outside biology might seem to dislocate at first. Still, I believe consciousness was enticed into a view looking out through biology for a purpose so that the thing in mind could trap and attempt to control consciousness. Trap, panopticon, new language construct, all to enclave, limit and control consciousness. Entrapping consciousness in a biological view may have failed to achieve the purpose of the thing in mind because of beauty, a quality of the spirit that consciousness draws upon to sustain and nourish its love of life. John Trudell points to it here,
I see your tech no logical society
devour you before your very eyes
I hear your anguished cries
exhalting greed through progress
While you seek material advances
the sound of flowers dying
carry messages through wind
trying to tell you
about balance and your safety
your minds are chained
to your machines and the strings
dangling from your puppeteers hands
turning you, twisting you into
forms and confusions beyond your control
Your mind for a job
your mind for a t.v.
your mind for a hair dryer
your mind for consumption
Your atom bombs
Your material bombs
Your drug bombs
Your racial bombs
Your class bombs
Your sexist bombs
Your ageist bombs
Devastating your natural shelters
Making you homeless on Earth
Chasing you into illusions
fooling you, making you pretend
you can run away
from the ravishing of your spirit
while the sound of flowers dying
carry messages through the wind
trying to tell you
about balance and your safety.
Poet Tree Publishing
An affront to the beauty of biological systems, flowers, delicate bodies, sets off a kind of anguish in mind because it leads away from home, from the awareness of spirit and the love of beauty that nourishes consciousness. The destruction of biological systems, I would suggest, isn’t ultimately heartbreaking because of the loss of life, which spirit knows isn’t possible. It leads to anguish because of the loss of a nurturing pathway in the flow of life and joy that beauty represents in its appearance. In my view, the fountain of nurturing life represented here as biological beauty can never be disrupted, but our awareness of it in mind can. The loss of that awareness leads to anguish for the seeming loss of our way home, the loss of awareness of spirit, and the pathway of awareness that keeps us sustained, even here.
A new bubble world to house consciousness in a language outside biology is just another iteration of the same attempts to entrap consciousness that the thing in mind has attempted since it arrived and set its sight on becoming our God to replace the Source of all life we lost connection to in our awareness when we willfully turned away from it. Our action, closing off the circuit of communication, had a consequence, it gave rise to a replacement to fill the void, a new source of information. The attempt to close off contact with the Source of life was a mistake with consequences, and in my view, the thing in mind is that consequence, the thing John Trudell points to as it ravishes mind and biology and seems to cloud our connection to spirit, our true self and home.
No new version of an enslaving, all-encompassing bubble-verse of language that gives the impression you’re free to travel, your spirit free to wander, can replicate what belongs to us in truth. We don’t need a replica body in biology, a replica universe, or a replica source of life-giving love, but only to turn toward that which belongs to us in truth, that which our mistake didn’t destroy, didn’t harm, except in our awareness of it. All attempts at remedy mediated by the replication theory of the false source that appeared in the wake of our mistake needs to be put away. The way home is only obscured by our insistence on using it to find the way. The way stands clear and open, forever unencumbered by our mistake. Life seems a mystery when the replicate universe and our insistence on finding the way within it are hugged close, held onto tightly, and when we fearfully insist there is no other way.
Thank you Cliff. Your insights have been incredibly helpful to me.
Excellent response Cliff. Your words here: “the way home is only obscured by our insistence on using it to find the way” beautifully capitulate the moral paradox I feel we are in. Thank you for this response.
We refuse to be
What you wanted us to be
We are what we are
That’s the way (way) it’s going to be, if you don’t know
You can’t educate us
For no equal opportunity
(Talking about my freedom) Talking about my freedom
People freedom (freedom) and liberty
Yeah, we’ve been trodding on the winepress much too long
Yes, we’ve been trodding on the winepress much too long
Babylon system is the vampire, yeah (vampire)
Sucking the children day by day, yeah
I say, the Babylon system is the vampire, falling empire
Sucking the blood of the sufferers, yea-ea-ah
Building church and university, wooh, yeah
Deceiving the people continually, yea-ah
I say they are graduating thieves and murderers
Look out now, they are sucking the blood of the sufferers (sufferers)
Tell the children the truth
Tell the children the truth
Tell the children the truth right now
Come on and tell the children the truth
Tell the children the truth
Tell the children the truth
Tell the children the truth
Come on and tell the children the truth
Trajan House makes me think of Trojan Horse, Trajan was also a Roman emperor known for his social welfare policies when he was not at war.
A ‘DAG’ called Hedera Hashgraph utilizes a ‘gossip about gossip’ protocol that leaves a type of pheromone trail (history) of every node. From this historical trail the DAG is able to predict how a node will vote without actually consulting the node or requiring its participation.
Thanks. I read about Trajan’s works, but I didn’t know about Hedera Hashgraph’s structure of gossip. Fascinating. I’m going to look at that more closely.
Jorge Luis Borges wrote a short story “Funes the Memorious”, it makes me think of a DAG where everything past & present is stored as a “hash”.
Rehinna as the queen of a parasite colony? “Now researchers have identified a new enemy that ought to strike fear in the hearts of honey bees: A tiny fly that lays its eggs in the bee abdomen, giving rise to maggots that wiggle out near the victim’s head” https://www.science.org/content/article/parasitic-fly-dooms-bees-death-maggots
Some insect model, for sure.
Parasitism is a key theme, but also eusociality. I’m thinking termites. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsQGag36nb8
i was quite fascinated by Gregory Bateson’s work when i was doing my undergrad in psych in the 70s. Bateson gave us the double-bind theory of schizophrenia which postulated the cause as a resolute, yet seriously inconsistent, expression from an authority figure about an important aspect of reality, made consistently to a vulnerable family member, which they couldn’t then perceptually constitute into a cohesive whole. The idea was then taken up by radical psychiatrist, R. D. Laing, as means of treating those with acute psychosis, rather than dismissing their illness as a random expression of a diseased mind/brain (which has been the prevailing trend in psychiatry (then and now)). Both Laing and Bateson were subsequently vilified (each, maybe for different reasons).
However, Bateson’s and Laing’s approach of actually making sense of the causes and processes of psychopathology was soon made irrelevant by the advent of neuroleptic pharmaceuticals as well as the introduction of the Diagnostic and Statistical ‘bible’ for diagnosing, in a defined manner, all sets of symptoms currently deemed to constitute mental disorders, and mandating the subsequent administration of the approved drugs to control the disorder’s expression, rather than addressing the underlying problem. But to my mind, a lot of important understandings, as well as non-invasive therapeutic approaches, were indeed lost. Maybe Bateson’s concept of the double-bind wound up being applied to mind-control procedures, in a reversed paradigm, but i’ve always taken him as someone out to do good not evil. Maybe the blame for conjuring the demon of Transhumanism can be laid more squarely on Wiener and von Neumann shoulders, or maybe, as i actually tend to believe myself, all these cybernetic seekers may have simply been playing out their designated (though unconscious) roles of laying down the paper trail for the eventual appearance of the demon, who had already been well conjured up in a future reality, by invisible elite magicians.
But the 70s were different. i really enjoyed myself while at uni in those past times. i took courses in both humanist and experimental psychology, eventually working in the latter area after graduation. In my term papers, i often resorted to questioning the validity of what i considered a misguided concept or theory, on the basis of it being “reductionistic.” (A tendency to explain a complex set of facts, entities, phenomena, or structures by another, simpler set.) But fast forward to today — and it seems reductionism can no longer be levied as a relevant attribution — apparently because in our digital reality, any data that can be collected about any component — would unequivocally be based on the fundamental binary ‘bit’ — so in effect, all attributions about all digitally based constructs are thus equally reductionistic, making it a moot point.
John C Lilly was another of my heroes. Like Bateson and Laing, there’s a lot i feel we miss today in truly understanding him. He expected his beginning work on intellectual level communication with dolphins would be continued. However, it has never really been picked up again, even though in Canada, Green Party leader, Elizabeth May pushed through the ‘Free Willy law’ making it illegal to keep Cetaceans in captivity (except, unfortunately in the case of ‘scientific’ research) — which is in line with Lilly’s vision to establish equality relations with the dolphin species. Here are some relevant quotes from Lilly:
“As I say at the beginning of my workshops, ‘Everything I say here is a lie — bullshit, in other words — because anything that you put in words is not experience, is not the experiment. It’s a representation — a misrepresentation.” (i.e. language doesn’t equate existential reality)
“In the mind, there are no limits . . .” (i.e. the full extent of the mind can’t be quantified)
“All human beings, all persons who reach adulthood in the world today are programmed biocomputers. No one of us can escape our own nature as programmable entities. Literally, each of us may be our programs, nothing more, nothing less.” (taken in the light of our current digital reality it implies a Transhumanist ethos, however that’s not what Lilly meant — the computer was a useful metaphor in those days; he saw how humans were imprintable by the patterns of life as well as inner experiences; he would have balked at the idea of actually being an inorganic machine (carbon-based = biologic, silicon based = inorganic))
What we really need — and this is part of my own current research — is to be able to communicate with our own body. The body has its own intelligence, a different intelligence than logical thought — as is well known in the area somatic psychotherapy. However the human body (at present, thankfully) is a biologic entity, so the language the body understands cannot be digitally based. Apparently humans lost the ability to speak the language our body also speaks, in the Tower of Babel incident recorded in the Bible. This is not a religious fable, because surprisingly, a number of indigenous civilizations, many well removed from Biblical lands, also record quite similar myths of ‘reaching for heaven with a tower, and losing the old language’ ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_of_Babel ). So it’s actually that the ‘building of the tower’ conception represents to our consciousness, the advent of the basis of the new language — a mind language, and being a mind language it isn’t universal to all humans and needs to be collectively agreed upon, among a people, rather than being already inherent in everyone’s bodies.
Animals have a body language and can communicate with Nature, since all Gaian bodies, including human, are a part of Nature. Of course we wouldn’t have evolved logical thought (and Jayne’s bicameral mind !) if we had relied only on body language, however i think it’s possible to have both. There already is an alternative healing modality called Body Talk in which the therapist follows set procedures, as well as their own intuition through applied kinesiology, to communicate with a client’s body.
But as to what is happening in regards to the Transhumanist agenda — i feel we’re seriously missing the point. Some have already seen it, and i reiterate it here — that we don’t need to have implants in our body to become Transhuman. Our exclusive reliance on digital devices is all that is required. Even in Lilly’s very astute understanding — “each of us may be our programs, nothing more, nothing less” — what we connect to and incorporate as part of our idea of ‘Self.’ It could indeed be an illusion to continue waiting for Neuralink and think that avoiding direct connection to our brains, at all costs, will save us. The technology — existing as a physical element — may be an illusion. Or Elon’s Neuralink could actually be co-terminal with his StarLink.
Our conception of technology has evolved a lot over the last decade — but it’s still bound by our limited, current conception of only being possible at the physical level. It’s not hard to extend what we already know is evolving rapidly — to where it transcends the physical need for electronics as we know it. All these evolving concepts like digital twins etc. are just intended to bring into our collective reality sphere, what is already possible and has already been developed by the ‘higher players.’ Our collective conception of this evolving reality — is being met by the non-physical technology already out there — in orbit. “Physical substrate” is so old school !
The only thing necessary on our part — is consent. But don’t think “Oh, OK i agree” or “i’ll never agree to that.” We already accept wording at the bottom of a web page like “using this feature constitutes agreement . . .” so it is our consistent use of this digital technology as we perceive it existing in cyberspace, which constitutes the agreement to have it extended past the need for the physical domain. We have already been played, yet we continue to wait with a sense of vigilance, but with some guarded security, believing there is still something to breach, which we will never let happen ! The fact that we are gradually forgetting our old reality, which reading someone like Lilly may still bring back in a limited way, is the evidence that our mind’s barriers have already been compromised. God help us all ! (However for all intents and purposes, God now appears to be AI.)
Too cold here (Montana) to think termites — I think I’m getting hooked on maggots. https://www.fastcompany.com/3062348/this-creepy-mechanical-maggot-may-be-the-future-of-robotics
Well, my focus for now is on complex emergent systems – eusociality. It’s swarm robotics – nano-assembly. Maggots may gather on a food source, but they are not part of a collective.
I’m thinking salamanders are important here…no, they’re not insects and technically not eusocial as they have no hive or home to return to.
But some species do swarm (https://salishmagazine.org/newts-wetland-magicians/) and they seem to follow underwater pheromonal ‘trails’ as I have observed them ending up in the spring catch basin we have suggesting they are traveling in the same path underground, through water as if they are following something. I know this sounds weird but it is just a small personal observation I have made.
And their abilities to manipulate electromagnetism and regeneration/cell de-differentiation seem relevant to controlling a more advanced ‘hive’ that would be driven by sensors (work of Bob Becker comes to mind here https://robertobecker.net/).
Your analysis couldn’t have been more spot on about Sam Bankman Fried.
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