Monday, August 25, 2014

Behind the 42

Behind the 42 - 3

One of the actions as described in my previous post in this series consisted of looking for existing answers.
These existing answers can fit in the mainstream belief system or can be from a weird point of view.

Weird often means "doesn't fit in my belief system".

Asking the right questions (and finding answers to them) allows you to (un)conditionally accept or (un)conditionally reject an answer.

But don't forget,

It is you, and you alone, that makes up your mind. You are the one who defines your belief system.


Nothing, believe me, really nothing is in your way of generating your own answers. Initially probably better called hypothesis.

But as with all the existing answers, ask the right questions. Not only the ones that support your hypothesis, but also the ones that might discredit it.
For the latter, if you don't, other people will. So if you would like to communicate your answer to other people, it might be useful to think about potential negative evidence (and you can expose these at the same time). Not many scientists do so, so that's an opportunity to provide a better contribution to human knowledge.


Belief systems

Before moving on  a few words about belief systems.
Of course you're free to have another opinion, so I'll just expose the way I think about belief systems.

For me each individual has one and only one believe system. Mine will be different of yours, because my life has been different, my education and knowledge is (not was: life long learning) different, etc.
Even when writing this post my belief system is changing. Yours is changing when reading this.

What is it composed of?

I include everything I know (or think I know), all the questions I have, all hypothetical answers, all uncertainties, all (possibly flawed) certainties, all temporarily best theories and so forth.
That's the intellectual part.
I also include whatever my senses acquire about the state of my environment, whether they make up their way to a perceived level (I become aware of it) or not. These senses are not limited to 5.
Not sure how to categorize dreams, emotions and gut feelings, but they are in.

Thinking out loud: I cannot find anything related to me that's not included. And the universe is related to me (and the other way around).

What about you and me?

As I mentioned above our belief systems are different but parts are similar. We can understand each other (to some extend) without the need to be explicit for everything.
For the parts that do not overlap, I'd like to quote Elisabet +sahtouris from a recent talk:
"In the Runakuna culture, reality is personal experience and collective experience: tell me your perception, your reality truly, don't distort it to manipulate me, and then I'll accept it as your reality without having to make it my own".
Do you need more words to understand the implications?
Just a few for the fun:
Explanations? With pleasure. Trying to convince me? Rejected!


Scale


In many of your future hypothesis (and existing answers) this specific aspect will occur.
Other related words can be granularity, dimension, ...
Most of the time it is not the scale itself that is important but

The implications of scale.

Most of us are more or less familiar with distances on Earth: meters, kilometers, several thousands of kilometers, ...
But sometimes there are points we normally don't think about. An example is a noticeable delay between electrons moving from one end of big supercomputer to the other end. And we might enter the realm of relativity.
Grasping a feeling of the implication when going beyond the earthly scale for distance (astronomical distances) is more difficult. We have never experienced it. And things get fuzzy.

Scale effects also occur in terms of for example population: individual, family, town, nation, world population. And many, really many topics exist in which scale needs consideration.

One of these, and very common, one for which many of us are not really aware of the huge implications, is the one I'm going to use to illustrate the effects of scale.

Time

Before any discussions are starting here, I'll give you my belief system related to time. At least the part I use when writing this post.

Time: linear, continually progressing (one second, or fraction of that, at a time). The mainstream time.

A little note about the term now. I have a hard time to conceive the term now without a particular context. In mathematics I can imagine an infinitesimal small point in time, that once has been now (or will be now if it's in the future). But in all other domains, looking at the semantics of now, at the very moment of "now", it already belongs to the past. When we use the term now, the context in which it is used defines some implicit duration.

Two little exercises:
- What is your interpretation of the duration of now in various situations? And the others around you? What do they think? Ask them.
- How would you teach an artificial intelligence what our human interpretation is of now?


What are the implications of time?

When thinking about time, one thing that might pop up (as almost all of us have experienced it) is that time is not perceived as linear (for the last time here: in this belief system).
Just have a look at the numerous expressions in your own language about this non-linear perception.

What was your day like 10 days ago?
Out of your head, no agenda, nothing. Just think about 10 days ago.

We all have some sense of how long a year is. Right?

Let's think of a year in the form of a question: What remains of your experiences of the past 365 days? 
In your internal memory, i.e. what you can remember (the things you did, situations you were in, the dreams you had, etc ) and your external memory, i.e. your persistent creations (writings, photo's, paintings, etc.). Not so much for the things we commonly call achievements, but all the rest.
What is the precision if you would like to put it on some time-line? An hour, a day, a month?

What about 10 years ago? And for those to whom it applies: 20 or 50 years ago?

How do the high volume social networks change this?


Credit: http://blogs.houstonpress.com/artattack/rkobh0205b.jpg


Side step: in this context I'll define the term generation as having a length of 25 years. No discussion possible. Right? In this same context I'll consider that the life-span of a generation as lasting 3 generations. If my math is right that is 75 years. I just temporarily aligned your belief system on this topic with mine.

Now think about one generation back in time: your parents. What do you know about their lives? Before and after your birth? And your grand-parents? What would you do if you wanted to know a little bit more about their lives? 
If they are still alive, you can ask them. And/or dive into their archives. You'll get some insight in their personal life. You can use historical information to get a feeling about the general conditions in which they lived.

Hey!
How far are we back in time?
That's only 2 generations, less than your own life-span.
And things get really blurred already.

The further we go back in time the less we know about personal lives. Exceptions are of course those individuals that occur in some kind of external memory (bibliographies e.g.). But that's quickly becoming a very, very tiny fraction of the world population. And even that is only a very small part of their real life. Or am I wrong here?

Do you know the saying "the winners write history"? Numerous situations are documented where they even rewrite history. Destroying previous memories. In he name of ... whatever.

Side step: Whenever you read a text (look at a painting) remember that the author made it's creation with his or her belief system in mind. And that that belief system is the result of his or her life. Things they've learned, heard, experienced. Got indoctrinated with. That there are huge differences between individuals, cultures and over time. That your interpretation of it is influenced by your own belief system. And thus is necessarily wrong to some extend. That the older the document is, the blurrier your belief system is about what was in the past.

Let's make a 5 generation jump. 1890.
I know, a bit more than 4 months lacking.

Credit Wikipedia, Nicolas Tesla, 34 years, 1890
Engagement present of Jan Mathijs Hubert Poell to Elisabeth Juliana B├╝hler, Breda, Netherlands, 1890.
Spoons made by Popke Siebma in Groningen (Netherlands).



  • With his 34 years Nicolas Tesla is in the bloom of his life.
  • My son's second great-grandfather (the father of my grandfather) gave an engagement present to my future great-grandmother.

Some random facts:
  • The Kingdom of Italy establishes Eritrea as its colony in the Horn of Africa.
  • Wilhelm II, German Emperor, dismisses Otto von Bismarck.
  • Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh moves to Auvers-sur-Oise on the edge of Paris
  • The United States Census Bureau begins using Herman Hollerith's tabulating machine to tabulate census returns using punched card input.
  • Wounded Knee Massacre.
  • Brown trout are introduced into the upper Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park.
  • Francis Galton announces a statistical demonstration of the uniqueness and classifiability of individual human fingerprints.
Side step: When using event list like these in wikipedia it is often useful to look at pages in other languages also (using automatic translations if needed). It will complete greatly your perception of what happened in the world. And remember Wikipedia is a community effort (with it's advantages and inconveniences).
Fingerprints? A few years ago mine were digitally scanned at the US border. Punch cards? At the age of 15 I wrote my first computer program with punch cards.
Looking back for 5 generations shows that there are remains of things that started at that time. Things each of you learned about the history of your country, your nation, your tribe. The good and the bad things that happened.

Documented in external memories. In oral transmissions (with the risk of loss and transformation => this is a hint).

But did you ever asked yourself:

What do we don't know?

What were the hidden agenda's, obfuscated facts, perceptions of the losers?
Remember history is (re)written by the winners.


A big step

I propose to get 23 generations back.

Complicated math shows that we are in 1439.

And we are approximately 5 generations after the suppression of the Knights Templar (Friday, October 13, 1307) and 8 generations before the birth of Isaac Newton (25 December 1642).

Printing.

In that year, or shortly after that, the book press is said to be invented. By two persons almost at the same time: Johannes Gutenberg (Aachen, Germany) and Laurens Janszoon Coster (Alkmaar, Netherlands). These two towns are at a distance of approximately 250 km.

Up to you to ask the right questions here.

And this is all about external memories, distribution and access to them for a much greater number of people as previously possible. Diminution of the risk of permanent loss of information. Although voluntary destruction has persisted since (even up to our days).

It created the need to learn to read for many people.


A huge leap


And before that?
Handwritten documents, carved artifacts (e.g. Egyptian hieroglyphs, Mayan glyphs) and other external memory systems (like the Inca Quipu, a knot based system).
And probably (potentially many) other memory systems we actually fail to identify as being one.
The oldest known writing system goes back to Mesopotamia some 208 generations ago (3200 BCE).
Side step: Some scholars distinguish writing systems from other symbolic communication systems. To understand the external memory the essence for me resides in knowing as much as possible about the believe system of the person that produced it, not in what is used. Maps and paintings all belong to what I call external memory systems.
Side step: The 208 generations mentioned above are calculated in the believe system that our calendar (Julian followed by the Gregorian) is right. In my believe system there is an area where this is not the case. There are strong indications (= unanswered questions) that our calendar might be flawed by as much as 12 generations.

What is happening between 200 and 20 generations back in time?

Only the privileged have access to the known external memories. Sometimes making a reduced number of more or less exact copies.
Many of them are still difficult to access. But things are changing.

For example the Vatican library contains 75,000 codices, more than a million books (from which 8,500 from before 1501) and 150,000 items in the library of the pope. Only a few months ago (march 2014) they started the digitization project for initially 3000 manuscripts.

Side step: This one is about translation. What is translation? For me there are 2 phases. Understanding the source and then re-express what has been understood in another language. You're now familiar with my concept of believe system and this implies the huge pit-fall of "understanding". Homework: have a look at the chain of translations of the Biblical texts (Who, When, between which languages). Make up your mind.

What about the ordinary people? Didn't they had some kind of external memory? Why?



How can we learn about the period where we don't have identified external human memories?

Let's say 2000 generations in the past (around 50000 years ago).
We're in the middle of the last ice-age. In Europe and Asia there were Neanderthals. Around that time or a bit later the first modern humans came to Europe. Believed to come out of Africa.
The sea level was about 90 m below the actual (-120 m around 800 generations ago (20000 years) and rising ever since).

We have fossils, archeological findings (artifacts and traces of human activity), geological records (e.g. a gigantic volcanic explosion near Naples 1576 generations ago -39400 years-, a short magnetic field inversion 1640 generations ago -41000 years-), (micro-)climatological records, partial eco-system records,...

Stop! There is one thing in the sentence above that might bring your thoughts back to a previous question.
Before reading on, can you figure out what that is?


When I asked you to think about your own past, how many among you forgot to think about the traces you left? The electronic traces. The plastic bottle you threw away (perhaps ending up somewhere in the sea), the fingerprints you left on it. The DNA you left on a cigaret.
The DNA itself that represents a part of your ancestral history. The scars on your body, representing a particular event in your life.

Side step: A personal experience. About scars and memory. My curiosity developed very early in my life and has never left me since. But learning the hard way had also some negative consequences. Around the age of 18 months I got severely burnt on my chest. On a sunday morning my father was pouring hot tea in a cup to serve it for my mother in bed. I was curious to see what was going on on the table and reached out. Flipped over the cup. You can imagine the rest. Second degree. That scar is still visible. But what is curious is that I'm not supposed to have any memories going further back than the age of three. But I do. There is one first person and two out-of-the-body views my memory produces related to this event: the moment I reached for the table (first person), the moment my father carried me into the black taxi just before I lost consciousness and the last one in the hospital when the doctor said to my father: "Fortunately he is a boy and not a girl". Made up memories? Possible, my father liked to tell stories and this one has been told a few times.

Me before the accident.
A few words about the dating of this event. For the fun. I have a letter from my father's girl friend in southern France (before he met my mother) from August 30 1958 in which she mentioned that my burning is now nothing but a bad souvenir. That letter is an answer to a letter my father wrote her on July 31 1958. The picture above was taken in our kitchen which was not heated. The last day with a temperature above 15°C was on September 22 1957 and the first one next year on May 8. I didn't traced my length curve yet, but that might give another precision for the picture. My actual estimation is that this accident has happened by the end of 1957 or more unlikely in May or June 1958. 
My parents died 10 years ago but in 2012 I was able to trace my father's girl friend and had a few mail exchanges with her. Unfortunately she doesn't remember much of the period in which she met my father (in this period of the year but 64 years ago). She must be close to the hundred now. I tried to meet her in person but didn't succeeded in that till now.

Combining what is known

Or perhaps the subtitle should be: not-combining what is known or the lack of multidisciplinary science.
When reading about astrological orientation of ancient human constructions (pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge, UK, etc...), there is at least one thing I cannot find in the documentation.
It's plate tectonics. The African plate is moving to the north-east 2.15 cm per year since 100 million years. Europe and Northern America are drifting apart at 1.5 cm or so per year.
Speaking about plate tectonics, ever seen the origin (coordinate 0,0) mentioned? Are we measuring only relative plate movements?
If the pyramids are dated 5000 years ago, then the relative movement was about 10.5 Km. Is this used in the astronomical math? Is it negligible given the measurement precision? Show me.

The same question arises for Stonehenge and the Eurasian plate.

Can you figure out a question related to Greenwich, atomic clock, length of a day and plate tectonics?
Scales: 1 day, 1 year, 1 generation, 2000 generations, ...

And one for Darwinian evolution theory and global variation in human physical aspects?
Scale: 2000 generations.

Can you come up with something you "know" in a specific scientific domain that apparently isn't taken into account in another domain (and it looks like it should have been)?


From a historic perspective scientists have become more and more specialized because a human life is so short and access to information rather time consuming.

Now a huge amount of information is accessible. As stated earlier, it is still far from what is needed to get the answers to the right questions. But this is within reach. If we want. If everyone is convinced that everything should be published and accessible by everyone. Even the raw measurement data, allowing potentially everybody (including artificial intelligence) to verify the conclusions.

We have made the first baby steps towards a real interdisciplinary scientific and cultural collaboration. Let's get mature and hurry on.


Wrapping up

This post is a long and winding road. I'm fully aware of that.
And I hope it has, if necessary, opened your mind a bit to think for yourself. To ask yourself questions. That navigating between various disciplines is a must. That you are the owner of your own belief systems. And that this belief system is unique.

I didn't include any reference to data I used. On purpose. Because I think it would have been distracting. The target was to make you think in a particular way. The data I used was for illustration purposes only. Not to provide answers, nor to provide questions.

Curious fact to end with:
To some extend you are reading this because of the 12 spoons in the photo above.



Ronald Poell
2014-08-25

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Behind the 42

Behind the 42 - 2

In this post I'll expose my thinking framework, the method if you might call it, that allows me to set up a question network.


Most often when I see, read, hear, feel or write something immediate questions pop up. And they are one or more of the 5 W's: Who, What, When, Where, Why.

Side step: Question: Are there other kinds of questions I ask myself? Immediate answer: yes: this questions itself is of a different kind. An immediate negation: no. Reformulating the question in What are the other kinds of questions I ask myself? makes it fitting in the 5 W's. Lesson learned: don't ask questions with a yes/no answer. Ask open questions (or reformulate a temporary closed question as soon as possible).
Often others before me have asked the same questions, so possible answers can be found. In the current age more easily then 2 decades ago because of the high and easy availability of them.

What to do next? 
  • Follow the hyperlinks?
  • Looking for answers?
  • Try to find other questions?
  • Think about the question and if possibly reformulate it?
  • ... (Whenever lists are presented the ... stands for: What are the lacking elements in this list?)

Although the things I do to set up the question network are quite consistent, the order in which it is done is at best erratic. 
This works for me. You might have a complete way of discovering things. And that's fine.

What's on the agenda?

The best way to show you what activities are involved in making up my mind on a specific topic I propose to take you on a example tour. And will see that the initial specific topic is sometimes the least important (in time spent, in valuable insights, ...).

If you're reading this you are in an age where you're not a blank sheet. And if you are an artificial intelligence and can understand what is written you're neither.
So at some places I assume there are thinks you know (in which I might be wrong) in other places I'll explain things I assume you don't know (which might be wrong also). But I think I have no alternative.

References

In my personal notes I use permanently reference to sources providing some kind of information. Unfortunately when enthusiasm, speed of thinking, or something else makes me forget to do so, regrets are on the agenda sometime afterwards. 
But the situations where back-tracking to the origin of notes became necessary, provided lots of experiences. These are slightly of topic but the most important are the following. 
Internet resources are not stable over time (make local copies). 
Relying on things like browser history is highly unreliable.
Notes about an article, presentation etc. are a subset of the whole (probably only what appeared most striking at that moment). Memory retains more then the notes. Completing these notes after a second reading (perhaps much later in time) is often useful (mind has changed, attention focus has changed, mind wandering occurs at different moments, ...).

In the example I'll take you through, I'll omit the references because for showing the process it's not relevant and doing so should avoid you of being tempted to deviate from the red line.


Diving in


Image credit: Ricardo Liberato

Starting point: Pyramids, Egypt

The first thing I do is ask the question: What are the facts?
In other words: What is not subject to discussion (further questions)?
A few:
  • There are pyramids in Egypt.
  • Some are (partially) made of huge blocs (megalithic pyramids) others aren't.
  • Some have hieroglyphs, some haven't.
  • ...

All information that I cannot classify as a fact belongs to one or more belief systems. A random selection of some:
  • All are tombs
  • Some are tombs others are not
  • There is an astronomical relation to position and orientation
  • There is a relation with pyramids in other parts of the world.
  • ...

The next question is: 
Why do I classify this information as facts? 
Knowing that images can be falsified (including satellite images), human observation is not reliable, etc. (I've been there, done it, got the T-Shirt, so these things I know (facts) are from personal experience).
And of course we might live in a completely simulated world.
It's up to every one of you to make up your mind about this step. But be prepared to revision your axioms. And be pragmatic.


Primary question network


This action consist of generating as many questions as you can. Personally I associate them with further actions get potential answers, exploring hypotheses, finding details etc.
This is a real explosion of questions in many cases.

For the megalithic blocs for example (random order):
  • What are the natural stones?
  • What are the potential artificial stones (sort of concrete)?
  • What are techniques to distinguish natural from artificial blocs?
  • Where do the natural stones come from?
  • Why were huge blocs used?
  • What are the physical properties of these blocs?
  • What function (mechanical or other) might they have?
  • What techniques might be used to transport them?
  • What population was needed to transport them?
  • ...

For the hieroglyphs:
  • What do they mean (individually and as a story)?
  • Where does the interpretation of the meaning come from?
  • What is the age of them (compared to the construction)?
  • Why in some pyramids there are none?
  • ...

This initial primary question set is always long and incomplete. The questions themselves might often need reformulation (more precise or on the other hand more generic).


Looking for the answers


At many points in the whole process I look for existing answers.
The existing answers are initially considered as a more or less plausible hypothesis
The reason for this is that most answers don't provide the necessary argumentation to make it into a fact or even a plausible hypothesis.

Example of transporting huge natural stones via the Nile (boat or raft). Typical questions that arise for me when thinking about this technique:
  • What are the floating conditions necessary to transport them (Archimedes law)?
  • Can these floating conditions be achieved with the known techniques of that time?
  • What materials where used for the boats/rafts?
  • How long did these boats/rafts last?
  • Was there enough building material for the boats or rafts available, and where?
  • Could the Nile be used during the whole year?
  • What technique(s) were used to get the stones on the boats/rafts?
  • Is transport over land from the quarry to the Nile feasible (altitude profile, transport techniques)?
  • What time would the transport take?
  • What population is needed to support the workload?
  • What social system was needed?
  • ...

All these questions form what I call the secondary question network. And of course answers to these secondary questions will probably bring up new questions.

Is this endless?

No.

But perhaps for other reasons then you might expect.

Let me sketch a few I encounter quite often:
  • Inaccessible answers: hidden in non public accessible scientific papers.
  • Never been studied (low priority, no budget, taken for granted).
  • Incomplete scientific data (meta data, raw data).
  • Lost scientific data.
  • ...

What is interesting to notice here is that starting with an archeological subject you cover domains like geology, hydrology, sociology, economy, ecology, astronomy, engineering, etymology and as we will see further on several other domains and implying a much more extended time span then the pure archeological context initially considered.


Taking a deep breath

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jenorton/

After being thrown into this ocean of questions, floating on the surface and taking a few deep breaths of fresh air will provide fertile conditions to some other aspects of this quest.

A few other mental exercises are ahead.

Before reading further, please make a short list of questions that bother you in relation to this post.
Not on specific parts of the example I choose, but more on the ocean of questions.
Sort of helicopter view.

Apply this schema:


I hope you did, but for most of you I'll never know.

But I can tell you what I've put on that list.


My first question:
The Why's of why I cannot access certain answers (see the last list above).
The short (and incomplete) answer I can come up with for each of them:
  • economic
  • economic
  • scientific carelessness, fear of loss of power/status
  • carelessness, dogmatism
Things are on the move for most these, but we are far from the desired situation (from my point of view) and there is a lot of legacy stuff to correct.

Second:
Which of these questions (issued from an archeological topic) can be applied to examples in other domains? Asked slightly differently: What is the more generic form of the question that can be applied in other domains?
You know your classics, don't you? So you know the answer to the ultimate one.
The only thing to do is finding the ultimate question. 
Earth failed to provide it in 1978. 
Perhaps we are ready for it now.

Third:
Why do I have so many questions?

Hmm....

Ambiguous question. 

Let's try again.

Third A:
Why am I interested in the answer to so many questions?
That's an easy one: I just want to know (or at least have the feeling that I know). To see how things are interrelated, connected. 
Hmm... In fact not so easy. What's creating this life-long drive? Why do I want to see how things are related?
Hopefully I can give you an answer somewhere in the future. I owe you that.

Third B:
Why are the answers not just well known facts? or Why do we have to study our past?
Bingo!
Answer included in the forth question.

Forth:
Why does knowledge gets lost over time?
Think of:
- individual: impossible to remember something you know you know (tip of the tongue)
- about whole civilizations
- techniques used by ancient civilizations
Question: Is it really lost or do we just fail to see it (interpret it for what it is)?

I can see combinations of:
- attention blindness (not seeing because focused on something else)
- destruction of the carrier before transmission 
- accidentally
- on purpose (destruction of books/people because doesn't fit with current belief systems)
- attention blindness: failure to interpret for what it is (e.g. focussing on details, not seeing the whole)
- so normal that it is not considered worth transmitting it on purpose. (e.g. etymology of expressions).
- it has already been recorded (or is available, you only have to point to it)
- voluntary obfuscation (elite, secret, security reasons, bad consequences, encryption)
- indoctrination (form of voluntary obfuscation inducing blindness)
- making it digestible for non specialists (vulgarization) and loosing the original knowledge (contains things like gods and their actions, metaphors,…)
- replaced by something "better".
- ...

Axiom:
Mankind has never been stupid, and knowledge/lore transmission has always existed: 
- pure biological: master and apprentice, oral (myths, legends, stories, daily life), telepathy?
- using persistent carriers: writing systems (hieroglyphs, carving, books), imaging (paintings)
- using pointers to where to retrieve it when needed.

This axiom opens a door to find the means to look for perceived losses but that are still there:
- thinking outside the box (change attention focus, or reduce focussing)
- try to understand what means might have been used (identifying the carriers, we need to think as the ancient people did, in their environment)

Here also secondary questions pop up. Just one for the fun:
What are the motivations behind voluntary obfuscation?


Wrapping up


Already shortly indicated at the end of the chapter "Looking for answers", there is no scientific domain that is not interconnected with all the others. Current, past and future.
Boxing science (separate science in domains) is equivalent to blinding yourself and thus no so much recommended.
It wasn't in the past, has become that way later on (and that is fully understandable), but I'm convinced that now we can break that artificially erected barrier.

Homework (if you wish):
- take whatever subject
- apply a similar process as the one described here
- share it in the comments.

And as you might have guessed if you have made it up to here, I'm quite open to questions.


Stay tuned as there is more to come.

Ronald Poell
2014-08-13



Friday, August 8, 2014

Behind the 42

Behind the 42 - 1


What if:
- all observations are correct
- all interpretations of these observations are correct
- all interpretations of these observations are biased

Hmm....

The yy

Why this series of posts?

At several periods in my life I experienced a strong feeling of restlessness, hungry for the unknown, the need for having a feeling of understanding, connecting the dots.
As being on the edge of an important change or insight.
Sometimes I describe myself as knowledge wolf and in these periods this aspect is extremely strong. The past few months where of this kind, and this period is not yet finished.

Thinking about the foundations of Gaia (the she artificial intelligence described in another series of post), thinking about the implications of artificial general intelligence and starting to build her certainly played a role in the start of the current process.


Image credit: http://goo.gl/1ciN43

Why this title?

Most (or at least some) of you will have assumed that it refers to Douglas Adam's "The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything". And those who did are right.
When cogitating about a title of what I was going to write about, several options came across my mind. But as the final outcome was not clear, I choose the road that has some resonance in some of you.
And if it doesn't, I recommend to catch up.

The yy remembers me of:
YYUR
YYUB
ICUR
YY4Me

(if you don't know the answer just copy those four lines in the Google search box and you'll find it).

Context


I'll provide a few random questions to give you a feeling about what kind of things bother me in these restless periods. The order is random.

1
Why did the (proto) humans migrated to a hostile environment (ice age conditions)?
2
If some people experience para-normal things (telepathy, telekinesis, levitation, ...) why other's don't? Why is this more frequent in some cultures and less in others? Why is this more frequent at the adolescent age?
3
What is the real effect of earth magnetic field inversion? On shielding radiation, on animals using the magnetic field, on us?
4
We all agree that we all disagree on a practical definition of cognition. But why can't we agree? And what about the term knowledge?
5
Some past advanced civilizations didn't have a known writing system. Was oral transmission the only other way to transmit experience.
6
Why particular structures like pyramids and stone rings occur in various places on Earth at periods where communications (travel) between these areas seem improbable?
Why and how the enormous blocs of those structures where moved.
7
Why do we have gut feelings?
8
Why do we only use some 10% of our brain?
9
Under what conditions traveling faster then light is possible?
10
Why was there no social, theological and technical evolution in Europe in the Dark Middle Ages?
11
What does the Google "AI" make of my browsing and search history on all these topics?
12
What triggers in me the occurrences of these hungry periods?
13
Why don't we learn from the past as much as we could? On purpose I omit the topics here. Think about them in short-, mid- and longterm past.
14
Why in the past important inventions occurred apparently at the same time?
15
Do black holes exist or not?
Z
Why do we fail to come up with coherent answers to these questions? Or at least with answers that resonate positively? Why do some answer resonate positively and others don't?



How many questions there are between 15 and Z?

Endless.

Let me explain why. Many things I read, hear and see bring up new questions. Sometimes it is the facts, sometimes it is the explanation.


What to expect next

My next task is to synthesize all my notes, formulate the not yet expressed and make it into a consumable and digestible picture (and writing).

I'll try to maintain Einstein's
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
but don't nail me if I fail at some points. I don't like being nailed physically. Intellectually is fine, I see it as a challenge and/or a lesson in humility.

I don't pretend to have the answers to all of those questions (and the others).
But I will try to set up a framework (a way of thinking) having the potential to find them.



Keep tuned.


Ronald Poell
2014-08-08