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The 3 Laws and Drones

Science fiction has pointed out fears concerning AI and various apocalyptic scenarios; this is the job of the creatives. Perhaps the most famous has been Isaac Asimov’s books on robotics in which he established the following 3 laws to protect humanity (from here):-

A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

In humanity’s development of AI so far, have we followed these laws or similar? And the answer unequivocably is NO.

And the problem is racism, humanity does not have respect for the life of the other. And where does the problem lie? With the power in the West. It is the nationalism of the West that is the problem, a nationalism that is prepared to use any weapons technology possible to further its own interests.

The main despicable weapons technology that uses AI is drones, and NATO’s use of drones is shameful. These are unmanned crafts that are being used to murder people in territories where there are no westerners. If you look at Asimov’s laws then western use of drones breaks the first 2 laws.

This is the problem with AI, if it is not programmed for safety; here is a Reuter’s article which says just that. The article is hopeful because it suggests that appropriate protective programming will be in place. But they are not facing the fact that AI is being used as weapons already as in drones and other technology. Protection is not in place already.

In other words these people have their heads in the sand:-

You could argue that drones are fired by soldiers in the Nevada desert but according to Asimov’s 3 laws that would not be allowed. The drones are killing, the drones are AI. Smart bombs are killing, smart bombs are AI. Applying Asimov’s 3 laws neither drones nor smart bombs would be able to kill even though humans are pushing the switch.

Protective laws need to be universal. They need to be programmed into AI now so that no-one can use AI-based weapons technology to kill other humans. And if there isn’t such programming then scientists working on AI are Oppenheimers:-

What we have to recognise now is that AI is already killing, the robots are killing. It is important to recognise the Vietnam factor. Vietnam was a war fought on foreign lands in my view for dubious reasons. The US establishment, particularly, suffered from internal protest and strife because of their involvement with the war – especially when US citizens came home dead. From that time technology was developed so that war could be waged without involving US troops on the ground. Decisions for war are already being taken when home lives are not being lost, decisions for war are being made using drones and smart bombs – not people. This is AI. Recognise now that AI is killing where politically NATO has difficulty justifying war with troops. We need Asimov’s 3 laws now.

No more drones, no more AI-based weaponry.

As I said the problem is nationalism and racism. Because of the arbitrary “War on Terror” all people who suffer at the hands of the US are labelled terrorist and that justifies the use of AI to kill people. The 3 laws need to be applied globally so that no AI-enabled weapon can be used to kill people. If we allow one nation such as the US or NATO to define terrorism and legitimise the murder of terrorists by AI, we are already in the doomsday scenario that science fiction writers have described.

Science needs to stop being Oppenheimers. Oppenheimer did not drop the bomb on Hiroshima, but he did create the bomb for people who are hawkish enough to drop such bombs. Those hawkish people are westerners, NATO. Oppenheimers need to stop working for NATO hawks until the laws of AI robotics have been established.

Of course that will not happen because so many scientists jobs and families depend on their being ostriches.

“Synthesising catness” <– Previous Post “Open letter” Next Post –>

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Synthesising catness

Still flying a bit with this AI stuff.

Hanoi (finish at 74m) speaks of AI “synthesising catness”. I can only surmise but I want to look into this. Presumably the AI is intended to assimilate all the data there is or was on cats. Commonalities – 4-leggedness, a tail (most breeds), whiskers, exploiting humans with cuteness, endless tedious clips. They can describe catness in this way. AI also has a scientific definition so it doesn’t make mistakes that might be made by humans. Is a meerkat a cat? I don’t know, I would have to do a search, and there would be a clear answer. AI would already know. Does that make AI more intelligent than me? By my definition of intelligent, NO – absolutely NOT.

But an attribute of AI is it knows facts, so no problem of manipulation of fake news with AI. Did Assad drop chemical weapons? AI would know. But AI would only know if the algorithms facilitated universal data collection. And if there is more profit in dropping bombs, then tinkering with algorithms to manipulate news would be a given. AI could know but won’t know because there will always be the 1% employing programmers?

Back to catness. We have a stack of characteristics that have been synthesised – far more than I have listed. Put those characteristics together do we have a cat? My answer. NO. I have a feel for what is a cat. This is a holistic or total feeling. I would describe “This is a cat (my holistic feeling) with black and white fur with a touch of ginger on its neck.” To make a point the AI might describe “Black and white fur with a touch of ginger, therefore it is a cat.” I start with the holistic feeling, the AI starts with particular attributes which it sums together thus concluding it is a cat because the attributes match the characteristics of catness in its database. I describe the cat from a totality that has attributes, the AI recognises attributes, sums them together, and determines from its database that it corresponds to cat.

In the case of cats there is little difference, in fact the AI might well have the edge because it has scientific knowledge that I don’t have. But then what about “my cat”? The longer I have “my cat” the more certain I am it is mine. But what about the AI? Will it know the cat is mine? In its database it might have stored far more characteristics of “my cat” than I would know, it will have photos of “my cat” to compare but will it know “my cat” like I do? What about when my cat has been out on the town, and staggers home disheveled and satiated? Mostly I will know my cat, no matter how different it appears, but will the AI? Maybe the recognition could also stem from something subconscious – a bond of “love”? If the cat has been on the razzle for a week and then returns home, it will be glad to see me (hopefully). It will radiate those feelings and I will pick up on them. This love or bond at present cannot be programmed or synthesised from data collection.

Now the problem with this is science as we now know it. At present science cannot measure this bond, conceivably such bonds might have physical characteristics such as a resonance not yet measurable or a particular wavelength not as yet measurable or even be described as a form of particle emission as yet not measurable. Therefore in the future it might be possible to humanise AI in such a way – but not now.

What is the motivation for such humanising? Here is where I am cynical. I could conceive of a situation in which humanising AI might make the AI more valuable – and therefore more profitable but at the moment that motivation seems slender.

It is early days but I want to draw a comparison with the way computers were introduced into the workplace. Every school programming textbook had as an important focus “user-friendly”. Computers were supposed to integrate seamlessly into the workplace routine. In practice computers were imposed on the workplace, and workers were expected to sink or swim – even losing their job. Now it is just accepted that we do things the way the computer wants us to. The bush mechanic became “educated” – schooled/trained – enough that they understood BIGJapan’s car assembly or they had no job.

This is the reality of the profiteering 1%-ethos that dominates the methodology of introduction into the workplace – what might euphemistically termed “integration into the workplace”.

Are the scientists being Oppenheimer?

Synthesising catness has its limitations that are beyond AI, and highlights the possibility of there being a “recognising bond” between cat and owner that is now not measured by science. What is there in this bond that we don’t know about ourselves, our humanity?

“Bush Mechanics” <– Previous Post “3 laws and drones” Next Post –>

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I am a huge Pirsig fan – even thought of studying with the Liverpool crowd (Anthony McWatt) (might have started if there were distance leaning but not now). Pirsig died last year. To begin with his only book was Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (ZAMM), (I quoted him in my teaching dissertation – loved it Corgi [1976] ). When Lila first came out I couldn’t get into it. Years later I did, and now think it is better. I started a thing where I was bouncing off Pirsig – reading a bit then writing, I might well continue the Pirsig Platform. I saw he had died, I wanted to show my respect.

In ZAMM Pirsig was questioning AI even before there were computers (I surmise). Let me explain what I mean. If you read ZAMM there is tons of stuff, and one theme was motorcycle maintenance. I am not mechanical so I didn’t personally get it but I think my intuition did. He would go on about how you must CARE for your motorbike. He would talk of mechanics who just read the spec, did what they were supposed to, then got stuck and were unable to go anywhere. And there were mechanics for whom it was an art, for whom fixing the motorbike was a feeling of love (my words). They got into it, and the bike was fixed properly; the spec mechanics couldn’t do it.

In the 90s I was in Botswana driving a wreck. I am a getting from AtoB driver, that is what my car means to me; none of Pirsig and his bike. I was also relatively broke so couldn’t afford a decent car, yet apart from the women driving to game parks was my greatest memory of my time there. This part of ZAMM was never a part of me even though I think I got it. But the bush mechanics were magical. You would walk into their lots and there would just appear a load of junk. But they could fix cars. Of course they broke down again, and they could fix them again. These bush guys got ZAMM, and have now been made obsolete.

Now I have a new car, and it is all different. There are maybe car bush guys around in Thailand who could work ZAMM magic, but that is not profit for BIGJapan. They have designed these bush guys out of existence. Bush guys cannot now open the bonnet and tinker the car into working. Under the bonnet is now an intersecting connection of assembly units. If something goes wrong the mechanics find the unit and replace it. These are trained mechanics. BIGJapan trains them with specs. Symptom, spec, change unit. Car fixed. I made a decision to pay this way, and go to the showroom. My car is fine.

I had a motorbike here, and I had a bike bush mechanic – ether are lots of them here. I damaged the motorbike by driving it without oil – fool. A bush mechanic pulled it apart put it back together again, and it worked. Something else happened, he did the same. I had screwed the bike, he could bush-fix it always. But it was not the way I wanted to drive – not AtoB. Now my car is serviced, and AtoB is fine. For the big bikes these bike bush guys have already been designed out of existence, as small bikes are driven by the poor in all sorts of condition bike bush guys might survive.

Difference between bush guys and BIGJapan – I am now paying far more money. BIGJapan has designed people out of the process and I pay far larger amounts of money to drive. In Botswana I had no money, I couldn’t do it and I needed the bush guys. In Thailand I didn’t want a car – until I did. I had a small bike and the bike bush guy was fine. I got bigger and there were problems until I bought a big bike from BIGJapan paid far more and had no problems.

There is a relationship between my incompetence, quality bush guys and BIGprofit. And BIGprofit designs out human quality. Money wants quality now, it has no patience, and it doesn’t care about people. If I can pay the big bucks to the showroom it is not my problem that the bush guy’s family struggles.

So where do you go with this? Do I demand rich guys hang around the old car lots I used to waste time in whilst the bush guys tinkers? How can I?

I see AI in this way. Human quality will be designed out of the process. Our world will be changed to suit tasks that can be carried out by AI. Do the assembled cars have intelligence? No. Does it work? Yes, if you have the money. Will the AI have intelligence? No. Will it work? Yes, if you have the money.

But where are people in all this? Where are the bush guys with their skills? Earning scraps whilst a few trained and fitted in with assembly units. And the showrooms have pretty girls.

When your boffs are in the labs working on AI for BIGprofit to make human qualities obsolete, are they thinking Oppenheimer?

“Racist AI” <– Previous Post “synth catness” Next Post –>

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Racist AI

A bit of a buzz this morning – curtailed meditation. It started with Brian, Hanoi and artificial intelligence. AI will be part of the path of scientific enquiry as will (might) become clear.

Not true – started with Safiya Noble and her talk on “Algorithms of Oppression”. In this she strongly indicated how search engines are racist and sexist. Now this is because of how I assume the search engine algorithm works – I don’t know how it works, and there is a certain amount of secrecy about the algorithms because business wants to be number one as advertising.

Fundamentally search engine rankings are based on what is loosely called the market, the most visited sites are highest up the rankings – assuming nothing too nefarious. Google is an advertising business, high rankings means advertising revenue. It is not based on human values eg the most creative has no component within the Google model.

What are the implications of this marketing model? I contend that marketing and bell hooks’ wonderful “white supremacist patriarchal society” are symbiotically linked. I am quite happy to say as I am not a scientist that marketing is white supremacist and patriarchal.

But I don’t want to get too bogged down in language because bell’s language turns the ignorant off. Marketing is the 1%-system might not raise so many hackles, it is not a huge leap to see that owners of big companies selling products are interested in marketing. And what are the characteristics of the 1%-system? Quite simple, the 1% exploit the 99% for profit. Not a biggy to say that. And it’s not a big jump to then say that marketing exploits the 99%.

For me that does not need explaining but let’s examine it anyway. I need to buy so I have to learn about what choices I have to buy. Let’s take food. I remember a TED talk, I think Dean Ornish, in which he describes the supermarket shelf as having many names but no difference in food choices. I know as a person who would love to eat 100% organic that I cannot go to a supermarket and do that. In other words in a supermarket I cannot choose to eat healthy; I cannot eat healthy although my choices can improve my diet. Market apologists turn round and say people are not choosing organic so it is not available. To counter that I argue that people are conditioned not to eat what is good for them, and we end in confrontation.

Marketing fashions what we know is available, and the results of search engines are based on the fashioning of the marketers. How can this be changed? Regulate search engines?

Search engines reflect the market, search engines reflect society. And that is why search engines are racist and sexist as Safiya Noble says. The algorithms reflect the way humanity acts. I did not say it reflects the way humanity is, and I will get into that later – that is the nub of AI and the path of scientific enquiry.

AI has a similar problem, and we come to Hanoi. In this clip (finish at 74m), he describes AI learning models as basically models that synthesise universal data collection. To learn about cats AI trails the net for all that there is to know about cats and then synthesises some kind of understanding of cats. Put simply AI learns from all that there is know about cats – good and bad. Sounds reasonable.

So what about learning models concerning race? Based on universal data collection in 1%-Trump-world, what kind of racist is our AI machine? What kind of sexist?

So what happens to those humans who do not want to be racist or sexist? If we can understand the answer to this, can we then add it to our AI learning model? Racism is conditioning, if we assume we are all born equal then it is simply conditioning. So as humans we unlearn our conditioning to stop being racist. This unlearning process is difficult, and has many stages of understanding including language, removing false delusions and removing institutional biases (institutional racism). But there is still more. Around us racist conditioning continues so we have to counter the continuing conditioning processes.

But ultimately we need detached minds that will prevent us from sinking back into the conditioning. And where do we get such a detached mind. One way is meditation although for some such a detached mind could be natural.

Of course not all would agree that anti-racist process is what all humans should be striving for.

This anti-racist model of unlearning could be written in stages as:-

Language
Removing false delusions
Removing institutional racism
Avoiding reconditioning
Remaining detached

How can AI be conceived with these stages?

Language is easy to stop if we choose.

False delusions becomes harder. Some delusions are clearly false. Scientific data exists to remove the 19th century racism that black brains are smaller. Black people deserve equal opportunity, but some might question whether they get such equality. “Blacks are taking our jobs.” becomes a little harder, because of the term “our jobs”. I would argue that the 1% are taking our jobs, and that there are enough jobs for all. So maybe the delusion is caused by institutional racism.

Avoiding reconditioning might be easy for AI. If a pattern of conditioning has been recognised it would be easy not to follow such conditioning again. But what is conditioning? And there we have a problem because what I might describe as conditioning is not the same as how others might describe it.

And as for detachment how can a robot be detached. What is human detachment? As a human I might be able to remain calm and detached but how do I then describe what I am doing?

If detachment is achieved through meditation then that is impossible for a robot. Natural detachment becomes difficult to describe, and if it difficult to describe how can it be “perceived” as AI?

For me the main issue with AI are political questions. I accept that we live in a 1%-system in which humans function as consumers for the express purpose of increasing 1%-profits. If that is accepted what impact will robots have on consumerism. The second political question is the Oppenheimer question. Scientists might well define AI limitations but will those limitations be what the 1% want and will they accept it?

But those political questions are not the main part of the mandtao path of scientific enquiry although financial and political awareness are always part of any path. For the mandtao path that issue is what AI cannot do?

In “Science set free” Sheldrake’s discusses his 10 core scientific assumptions/questions (here and AppA) and suggests that a science assumption is that it can explain everything given time. Extrapolate that, and we have can AI perform all that humans can given time? That enquiry is the path, part of the path of scientific enquiry.

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Mind and Brain Frustration


I began watching a BBC Horizon programme on Insight, and as usual ended up with the usual frustration about brain science.

The format of the programme was to look at current research on insight, and that research typically examined the location of brain activity when insights were supposed to have happened. Begrudgingly I recognise that the science is showing that certain areas of the brain react when insight occurs.

When considering brain science like this my first question is always concerned with the nature of mind. Insight would tacitly be accepted as coming from the mind, but what is the connection between mind and brain?

In science there is again a tacit assumption that the mind is located in the brain, but if I ask Thai people where the mind is they point to the heart.

In the case of this Horizon investigation I suggest there is a tacit assumption that when the location of insight in the brain has been found then the source of insight has been found. I am certain I am expressing the tacit assumption too strongly, but that assumption is there to some extent. But it is an assumption, and it is an assumption that I can cast some doubt on; I also note that from my personal experience I contend that assumption is not true.

There are corollaries to this brain science. If the location can be found can an insight be stimulated? What else are they going to do with this physical location?

It is not necessarily the fault of the brain scientist that this question of brain and mind has not been resolved, it is a fault of science and academia in general. “What is mind?” is accepted as a philosophical question that science doesn’t have to answer. So these brain scientists can proceed with their tacit assumptions because academia fails to reach an understanding of mind.

There is an empirical understanding of mind which comes from meditation. When people meditate then they become aware of their own minds and gradually learn more of its nature. In terms of this blogpost they learn that mind is not located in the brain. Hence the roots of this assumption of Thai people that the mind is in the heart because this is the populist Buddhist view of mind – not in my view what meditators say mind is. Now when I am considering meditation as an empirical method of understanding mind I am going against academia. And this is a big point. Academics do not know how their own minds function. I do not know how one can understand how the mind functions without meditating but I concede it is possible. But I would argue that in general academics don’t understand their own minds very few going beyond the cognitive or analytical. Here is a meme showing how Buddhadasa viewed the mind:-

If as I contend academics do not understand their own minds and if academia does not understand mind and its relation to brain, how can there be meaningful investigation into insight?

I want to consider the interesting case of Jill Bolte Taylor and how this puts light on the relationship between mind and brain for insight. Here is her TED talk.

I had forgotten what a phenomenal talk this was, and it was very clear that she was speaking from experience. Her talk was discussing the meaning of the left and right brain, what she called the serial and parallel processors. Are there lessons to be learnt concerning the connections between mind and brain? Her talk clearly points to the left and serial thinking, and right and parallel thinking. But does she talk of brain and mind connections?

During her stroke of insight did her mind reside statically in the brain or did her mind swap from left to right. Was she experiencing alternatively left-mind and right-mind, or was the mind hopping from left to right during the experience? I contend the second – without proof and the above meditation justification.

I am looking for a way that will make it obvious that my Buddhist understanding would prevail over the tacit assumption of brain science. I have not succeeded. When I have an insight, usually after meditation, it is because I have cleared my mind, focussed it (sometimes by mentally dropping it away), removed my ego and somehow have gained insight with a connection to sunnata because my mind is well-harmonised, this might show as some form of brain stimulation but for me that is the least of it. Sometimes in meditation I focus my mind in my heart, in other times I will drop it away in an effort to enable sunnata to flow into my body – this is a visualisation. I tend to think of mind as being amorphous, and that it moves around my body causing function sometimes consciously I move it sometimes unconsciously it is moved. As I have been unable to establish this I have just stated it as a contention.

I have not got over my frustration concerning brain science, in fact it is now worse because I was unable to establish my contention. My contentions are true for me, I wouldn’t waste time with sophistry for its own sake, but there is no simple way for me to make it true for you.

My frustration leads to an interesting question. If a certain part of the brain is known to react during insight, can I move my mind to stimulate that area of the brain into an insight? This is a horrible question these brain scientists want. Aaaggh!! Not at all the direction I wanted.

I ain’t doing it though. If I want an insight I am going to meditate.

Frustration!!!

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Even before I had completed the Treatise ideas of writing “The Path of Scientific Enquiry” started raising their disturbances. I began writing it here, but have discovered that far too many of the ideas have not been formulated. I now feel that this path is the purpose of Mandtao so I have called it the Mandtao path. [Aaaaggghhh – it’s probably a book.]

This is also in the way of Honiti, I want to finish that now I have pathtivism ( Ch24).

Now I am just blasted. Scifimuse was telling me to do Honiti, and spirimuse wants me to write a new book. Worn out so daunting – relentless.

This post is a series of notes concerning what I will look into for Mandtao.

Mandtao Empirical Method

What is the Mandtao empirical method?

My view – there are observations/events/experiences that can be repeated. Because they can be repeated then these are events that we can know. In other words these are events that we can give a scientific explanation for because they repeat.

So empirical method is to make observations and then determine a scientific explanation.

This is different than an experiment in a laboratory. Why?

What is lost in a lab? Can a real life be recreated in a lab?

How to recreate meditation?

How to recreate path?

Quantum Theory Enquiry

I have reposted the Zandtao Hagelin blog here in Mandtao. I learned sub-atomic was protons neutrons electrons. Now the smaller we go the more particles we find. Or do we? Do we find particles or do we find properties that we assign to particles? Fritjov Kapra Gary Zukav etc.

Do we find particles because of Newtonian paradigm?

If Bruce Lee was experimenting would we find chi?

If Annie Besant was investigating would we find consciousness?

Measurement

Bacon split reason and revelation. Is science no more than what we can measure and logic? If we cannot measure it doe it not exist? Human capacities beyond reason – intuition, insight, creativity, are they now not science/knowledge because they cannot be measured? Meditation/path?

Mind and Brain

I am just going to post a blog that has lain dormant about mind and brain. In the case of scientific enquiry how important is our considerations of what is mind and brain. When you consider the treatiseplusmeme if there is no vinnana to help transcend then there cannot be a path.

If there is only brain and nothing else, how much is this restricting our knowledge?

Medicine

This is basically the acupuncture discussion only much worse. How much do our medical models restrict our abilities to heal?

the relationship between funding and medicine is back-to-front.

Axioms

The hidden axioms has already picked on some axioms. Monism fundamental unity has not been investigated.

Gaia Assumptions

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Hagelin

I was put onto Hagelin and was impressed to see this clip. He was the leader of the Natural Law party (and presidential candidate) but I was told he was libertarian. I have always had sympathy for Libertarians, and this clip has just added to it. Why are these compassionate people right-wing BLOGLINK? But the answer with Libertarians is always the same for me, it is not the theory but the need for staged pragmatism especially in the time of such global bullies as the corporations that is so important. I don’t want regulations but the regulations that go first protect the people – the 1% will never allow their regulations to be quashed. What is the point of removing protectionism when the real control is with cartels. I love the idea of barter, am happy with farmers’ markets with healthy food and first-hand trading, but movements towards free trade globally only benefit the 1%. Follow the money. 1%-money never supports socialism but it does support libertarianism because it knows interim libertarian measures benefit the 1%.

Having said that I would love for socialism to discuss consciousness. To perceive religion as the opiate of the masses is true up to a functional point but it misses the most important thing, the insight and understanding that comes with deep religious understanding are revolutionary. What is worse (because it is not likely to happen sufficiently) this insight is needed for the survival of Gaia and humanity. How I would love for the left to embrace spirituality, and accept some sort of consciousness explanation of life. But the problem is that the left is dominated by left-wing intellectuals who have not experienced spiritual consciousness, insight or whatever is chosen to discuss this religious experience. But there are a few.

But there is something very important that Hagelin does, he brings discussion of consciousness and meditation into mainstream academia. Wherever this blog goes that is so important and mustn’t be forgotten.

Where quantum physics goes loses me, and that is the first half of his talk. But I do not ignore it, my science is just not up to it. When I was young I came across two books, The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav and The Tao of Physics by Fritjov Kapra. Basically these said to me that once you go subatomic it becomes impossible to be exact. You can measure as momentum or as particle but you cannot say that subatomically there are particles or there is momentum. In the Turning Point Kapra spoke of the Newtonian paradigm. Newton’s 3 laws talk about particles, and this works fine with “touchable” objects. But subatomically it is not certain there are particles. But because science’s axiomatic approach is a Newtonian paradigm, then it is assumed to be Newtonian subatomically.

At the same time that I was reading about this (mid-70s) I was becoming aware of the reality of chi (prana). It made perfect sense to me that subatomically there was energy, that we can measure the effects of this energy, but that this energy did not fit in with the Newtonian paradigm. Because I have experienced the chi this clearly meant to me that the Newtonian paradigm did not extend subatomically, so the investigation of quarks etc. subatomically with all the probabilities associated with it did not matter to me. As a way of measuring chi there might be mileage in this but I am not sure. In this same clip, Hagelin takes this subatomic “investigation” into unified field theory. It sounds to me that such strings are indistinguishable from energy; why not call it chi and investigate chi? One significant answer is BigPharma; there is no profit in a few needles and a trained acupuncturist, and BigPharma has significant academic control because of their amount of research funding.

Accepting subatomics as chi, it is a very small leap to accept that there is as Annie Besant describes consciousness in an atom – theosophy (here or Alice Bailey here. And this brings me to the second part of Hagelin’s talk – Maharishi’s consciousness. I use theosophy to illustrate this again because theosophy talks of a layer cake:-

When I first raised the issue of unity, I was meaning political unity that could be found by adopting approaches similar to the Unity Platform. But this political unity is very limited compared to the Unity that is put forward by many spiritual people – including Hagelin. The terminology I use for this Unity is “Gaia” or ONE Planet. It amounts to there being ONE life that is the planet, Gaia. This life force functions as a Unity but from inside we perceive separate individuals and forms of life. Science takes this separation as axiomatic, and misunderstands so much because of that – not least the misunderstanding concerning the sub-atomic realm. For me the sea is the best way to understand the Unity that is Gaia. What happens when you stand in the sea and a wave knocks you over? Are you knocked over by a particle, several particles, the momentum of the wave, the sea’s energy or even the sea’s consciousness (whatever that is)? It depends on how you setup your definitions (or axioms) as to what knocks you over.

In the second part of the talk, Hagelin links the unified field theory to consciousness. Whilst his conclusion is excellent his methodology left me numb; it was so academic. It reminded me of theosophy taken to extremes with diagrams, more layer cakes, parallel isomorphisms, and I have given all of these up. Buddhism talks of 5 skhandas one of which is sankhara – mental proliferations, and I see much of what Hagelin talks about as mental proliferations for academia. There are postulations of 10 dimensions or whatever, and the mathematical consistency supports his arguments, but show me the dimensions. But there is matter chi skhandas and pure being – simple. The real issue of understanding is whether we meditate – enough.

Is Unified Field theory consciousness? As far as I know, yes. The complicated intricacies are necessary for academia, and that is the medium Hagelin works in so I fully support him going for it. For me I see chi and consciousness, and meditation as the way of understanding. Hagelin, enjoy your mental proliferations; what you are doing is great.

But how can the pure being as compassion be found on the political right? In terms of Unity of Being and political unity in the Unity Platform LINK there is togetherness – great.

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Natural sleep


Sleep is natural, it is nature’s way of “recharging the batteries”. This is simplistic and appears to say little, but apply the converse:-

“Not sleeping shows there is something unnatural going on.”

It is this that is worth investigating if we are to understand sleep and why some people cannot sleep. There is something unnatural going on.

For a while I will consider whether we live naturally rather than what affects sleep. That means going back to basics, and for me that means Buddhadasa. To understand what could be unnatural we have in some way to understand nature. Ajaan Buddhadasa has a very interesting stance on this but because it is Buddhadasa the meaning is buried in language – in this case the Pali words he uses. He describes the Buddhist’s God as Idappaccayata, and he further “languagises” the issue by saying this one God is idappaccayatapaticcasamuppado, and he gives details of what is paticcasamuppada – dependent origination [Idappaccayata pdf p1]. God is a bit shorter, I could use the word nature but I prefer Gaia; let me explain why. At one stage I was calling this ONE planet. Buddhism amongst other religions talks of unity – ONE thing. We are not a collection of individuals, a collection of separate species etc., we are just one life that appears as separation yet we should consider as one – ONE. James Lovelock when he talks of gaia describes an ecology that is interweaved, separate life forms that connect. He describes this inter-connectedness as gaia, but as far as I understand it he sees man as separate. This is why I capitalise gaia, Gaia is the ONE life that comprises of all life on this planet. Because of this Unity Gaia is a more apt word than nature, and because of this Unity it is more applicable than a separate omnipotent God.

“The law of ‘conditionality’ is the highest of laws, the law that makes everything work, and this we call idappaccayata. …. Beasts, people, plants, trees, they’re all formed from atoms grouping together, and in every atom will dwell the law of idappaccayatā. …. the law of nature, idappaccayatā, pre-exists all things in the universe and is the reason for the existence of the universe itself” [Idappaccayata p3].

I think this law of nature is observable and I accept it, but if you like it is the only aspect of faith that I believe in. This faith consists of belief in the law of conditionality, that this law is in every atom, and that it pre-exists all things in the universe. I trust in Gaia – nature, but not what man has done to it.

Buddhadasa gave the law of idappaccayata as :-

“when there is this thing, then there is this thing too; because this arises, this can arise also; when this thing isn’t, then this thing isn’t either; when this quenches, then this quenches too. [p3].

Just a brief point on sleep, it follows this law. “when there is this thing, then there is this thing too”. When we are natural, sleep follows. And “when this thing isn’t, then this thing isn’t either”, when we aren’t natural, we don’t sleep.

It is also worth flagging that this law is causal and therefore fundamentally scientific. However science is based on defined axioms – axioms defined by science. Whereas idappaccayata is just based on causality and conditionality, a conditionality which I will look into later, yet a conditionality that is based on empirical observation. One such observation is that sleep is natural, a conditionality that is based on what we observe in a loose sense – everyday “wisdom”. A more contentious empirical observation is that TCM and acupuncture heals. This can be empirically observed by observing treatments and seeing patients recover but is rejected by some scientists who are given respect by some.

The Buddha took refuge in the Dhamma, saw the Dhamma as his God “In the end he made up his mind that he’d revere the Dhamma he’d awakened to: he’d ‘enter into and dwell within it,’ that is, he’d take it as his refuge.” [p1]. For this use of the word Dhamma you could replace Gaia as I have described it above, either way we are trying to understand “natural”. Buddhadasa describes 4 natural laws:-

“Dhamma (here with the meaning of the ultimate truth – the way things really are – hence it’s spelt with a capital ‘D’) has four meanings: nature itself; the law of nature [BZ – Idappaccayata]; the duty to be done according to the law of nature; and the fruit, or result arising from doing or not doing that duty” [p6].

In describing these laws Buddhadasa said “Essentially, it’s the duty of any human being to maintain life correctly. If they don’t then they must – in accordance with the law of idappaccayatā – experience the result, the punishment: suffering, ranging from being unable to sleep, to nervous disease, to deadly pain” [p11]. Subconsciously I might have remembered this but I was surprised at the relevance to sleep when I read this.

Now we come to the other half of the Buddhadasa “languagised” God – idappaccayatapaticcasamuppado. Paticcasamuppada, also known as dependent origination or dependent co-arising, is described by Buddhadasa as what the Buddha struggled with under the Bodhi tree “It was during the night of his awakening that he sought thus: What does suffering come from? Then he realized that it came from jāti, from birth. Jāti, ‘birth,’ what does birth come from? ‘Birth’ comes from bhava, from becoming. Becoming arises from upādāna, from clinging. Clinging comes from taņhā, from craving, from desire. Craving, comes from the vedanā, from feeling. Feeling comes from phassa, from contact. Contact comes from the āyatana, from the senses. The senses come from nāmarūpa, from name and form. Name and form comes from viññāna, from consciousness. Consciousness comes from sankhāra, from the power of concocting. The power of concocting comes from avijjā, from ignorance” [p1]. I have previously discussed this in relation to mindfulness meditation in education. This could be partly summarised as suffering arising from conditions that our desire allows and that we cling to. Through mindfulness at contact we are able to avoid suffering.

I also wish to consider this summary of Buddhadasa’s teaching that I call his meme:-

There are the 5 khandas that make up the body, psyche and consciousness. Under conditionality we attach to these khandas especially when young as we operate through instinct. As we get older we gain the maturity that enables us to be aware of conditionality and if mindful can avoid detachment. With increasing maturity we do not create new attachments and we detach from the selves that we have already made – through instinct. In the end ideally we are not attached to the khandas and have detached from all the selves that previous attachment has created leading to our being free of all conditioning. In this freedom there is just sunnata, unity functioning.

Somewhere within all our conditioning suffering through affected sleep occurs. Meditation can help as it can be used to remove detachments and avoid attachments.

I am not however offering this as an understanding as to how to deal with sleep issues but sleep is natural and the above discussion of nature, its laws and understanding of the development of suffering has some connection. In the next blog I will connect this conditioning to the path.

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Conative?


I have just come across a word I like – conative. Apparently it is not a word that is in use much but it is part of a model of thinking:-

“Psychology has traditionally identified and studied three components of mind: cognition, affect, and conation (Huitt, 1996; Tallon, 1997). Cognition refers to the process of coming to know and understand; the process of encoding, storing, processing, and retrieving information. It is generally associated with the question of “what” (e.g., what happened, what is going on now, what is the meaning of that information.)
Affect refers to the emotional interpretation of perceptions, information, or knowledge. It is generally associated with one’s attachment (positive or negative) to people, objects, ideas, etc. and asks the question “How do I feel about this knowledge or information?”
Conation refers to the connection of knowledge and affect to behavior and is associated with the issue of “why.” It is the personal, intentional, planful, deliberate, goal-oriented, or striving component of motivation, the proactive (as opposed to reactive or habitual) aspect of behavior (Baumeister, Bratslavsky, Muraven & Tice, 1998; Emmons, 1986). It is closely associated with the concept of volition, defined as the use of will, or the freedom to make choices about what to do (Kane, 1985; Mischel, 1996). It is absolutely critical if an individual is to successfully engage in self-direction and self-regulation.
Some of the conative issues one faces daily are:
• What is my life’s purpose and are my actions congruent with that purpose?
• What are my aspirations, intentions, and goals?
• On what ideas, objects, events, etc. should I focus my attention?
• What am I going to do, what actions am I going to take, what investments am I going to make?
• How well am I accomplishing what I set out to do?” [Source]

Now conative knowledge is also described as experiential knowledge and it was this that attracted me to the word; I was hoping to contrast cognitive with conative. However the motivational stuff doesn’t sound too experiential to me.

Knowledge is not all “equal”. When you have experienced something that knowledge is unshakeable. When ignorant sceptics want to tell me acupuncture doesn’t work, then I know they are not scientists but promoting an agenda. When science fails to apply itself to consider chi as real, given that so many people accept its existence it is a failure of science. Now that I have found that my plant-based diet has developed increasing yin excess that affected my sleep, metabolism, lungs and heart, I have strong indicators that the existence of yin-yang is real (I accept the possibility that starting to eat meat has done something else to my body other than making my food more yang but I have not learnt of such an interpretation). When meditation as empirical knowledge can be repeated, then it is the failure of science to apply itself to recognising this truth. Experiential knowledge carries a conviction with it that goes beyond misplaced authority.

Science applied through academia is mostly cognitive. Academic justification comes from a reference source, and such sources have “respect” – and therefore weight – that allows cognitive development through analysis to develop new conclusions as knowledge. But what is the axiom that this knowledge has developed from? It has developed from a reference but that reference could be greatly distanced from the initial experiential knowledge that gave it justification. It is worth considering this distance a little more. An original thinker writes a book, and for some reason academia accepts the original thinking that is in the book. That thinking might merit the original thinker being given a professorship – if her/his face fits. Other academic without the experience of that original thinker start to write about what is in the book – NOT about the experience that was the original thinking. If these thoughts become widely accepted more and more people wrote about what is written, often such writings don’t even source the original thinker especially of that thinker is not contemporary. Writing about the writings might give someone a professorship and her/his text might become the substance of a lecture course in which case a student is writing about a book that is about a book that is about a book that might not even reference the original thinking. As such cognitive knowledge does not have the conviction of the experiential because it is so distanced, it was this contrast that I wanted to make between cognitive and conative but am now unsure of the scope of the word “conative”.

Experiential knowledge is not for me based on any volitional or motivational or better “internal” reaction prior to experiencing the knowledge. Experienced knowledge is real, it is open to misinterpretation but it cannot be refuted as a real experience. It is axiomatic, science only interprets. For scientific principle, cognitive “so-called” knowledge, to contradict experiential knowledge is principle misapplied. An experience cannot be contradicted, that knowledge inviolable. When a Christian has a vision – a religious experience, the facts of the description of that vision is real, the interpretation of that vision as coming from God or Jesus is open to doubt and enquiry, the vision itself is not. If a child remembers a past life the description of that memory is real, it has to be proven to be fake or not but the memory cannot be dismissed. For science to dismiss reincarnation and therefore to dismiss the memory is not valid science, because science has failed to accept what is real – the description that the child gave. This example is not given because I believe in reincarnation – I don’t believe in anything, it is given because there is an important difference in types of knowledge. Conative knowledge based on experience cannot be refuted, only the interpretation or cognitive conclusions from it can be.

It is the approach of psychology, this “cognitive-affect-conative” approach that is flawed. It is evaluating knowledge by starting in the mind, to me this is a flaw. What is real is the experience, what is not real is any interpretation of that experience. However well-intentioned that interpretation is limiting. Consider an event such as a road accident. Accounts of that accident vary – whether by intention or not – because the knowledge that is accepted by the mind is not as full as the experience itself, the event, the accident. What is understood – recorded or accepted – in the mind is limited by the processes of mind.

Here is where mindfulness makes a hit. Consider the description of mindfulness as judgement-free awareness. If there is mindfulness then what is understood from the accident would be as close as possible to the actual event because it is simply awareness without any application of mental processes (judgement-free). As far I understand the language mindfulness is not cognitive but conative. Because it is based on the experience mindfulness has greater validity.

This brings me to something that is very important to understand at the moment. The 1% has recognised that the internet can be used to cause confusion, and with the ensuing confusion they are able to exploit the lack of resistance. Climate change was awareness, it was based on experience and backed up by scientific method. The Koch Brothers and their fakery financed climate denial, and because they were able to finance it to such an extent then the quantity of that financed denial impacted on the perceived knowledge. This is the confusion – financed confusion – to benefit the 1% who then continue to exploit the environment. In this case knowledge is being ignored by the 1% in order to create profit, and by promoting cognitive knowledge – in this case the cognitive knowledge is creating confusion – they are able to avoid paying for the consequences of their profit-making; they are able to avoid any concerns for the environment.

Fake News is not based on experience but cognitive approaches. The 1% pay for the repetition, and because of our education we do not discriminate between cognitive knowledge and experiential or conative knowledge. We do not have the convictions of our experience because we are conditioned to accept the cognitive and conative as equivalent. We cannot allow our experience to be undermined because we are not encouraged to accept a convicted approach. Conative knowledge has conviction because the experience is real. Educators need to recognise this especially in a world of fake news.

This brings me to insight, there is no greater conviction than insight. The only thing that should change a genuine insight is a new insight that demotes the older one to being that of clinging (to the old insight). Because many in academia do not experience insights they do not discuss its validity. Instead of insight being evaluated as conative or experiential knowledge it is passed off as simply another thought or idea that can come or go. But insight is not this it comes from the state of mind which enables pure truth to be accepted, this is why insight is so often associated with meditation.

Knowledge itself is not inviolable but the type of knowledge. Knowledge that comes from experience has truth but is open to misinterpretation. Knowledge that comes from insight is inviolable because the process of insight is a process that enables the mind to connect to truth. Insight brings with it a conviction that can thwart all cognitive attacks – necessary in this world where the cognitive approaches of the khandas attempts to undermine the truth which is insight. It might be more appropriate to consider the word conative as that which is beyond the khandas but that might be my simply appropriating definition. Truth is beyond the khandas:-

And the khandas contain the cognitive and affect of the psychological model. Khandas – rupa – body, vedana – feelings, sanna – perceptions, sankhara – mental processes or proliferations, vinnana – consciousness that can attach to the khandas or move beyond and allow sunnata to connect to the mind. I am suggesting that the conative might best be considered as a description of the consciousness that moves beyond giving truth to sunnata.

I like where this has gone, conative as being that which goes beyond the khandas. Not sure how much this is the intention of the word.

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Truth?


Since my early retirement I have enjoyed learning from the internet. I got sucked into conspiracies and subscribed to what I assumed were left-wing newsletters that kept me informed. It is only with examining the rise of Trump that I have determined that many of these are right-wing intellectuals. This is understandable as I see their funding as being a knock-on effect of the 1%-manipulations.

However whilst I describe this right-wing intellectualism, it does not mean that this information is untrue – far from it. I consider these intellectuals the right-wing periphery, and have no wish to dissociate from them. Of course that does not mean I have any right-leanings.

For me the issue lies with the answer to this question, how do we overcome the 1%? And the answer for me is very clearly Collective Unity, and struggling as the United 99% against the 1%. It is never clear to me how the individualism of these good right-wing intellectuals will overcome something as powerful as the 1%. In my view they need to overcome their abhorrence of the liberals, an abhorrence I also feel, and somehow find a way of working in Unity against the 1%.

Government and taxation is of course very divisive. When I look at the neoliberal governments of Blair and Obama I understand why these intellectuals are against taxation and government. As a teacher I incline to defend the educational aspect of governance, but I know that the caring aspects are only a subterfuge for the main current purpose of taxation – accumulation of wealth to the 1% through taxation for defence spending on the wars-for-profit.

There needs to be some form of commitment to Unity, and I don’t see these right-wing intellectuals wanting that; I must just accept the bonus of knowledge that the right-wing periphery funding provides. The egos that comes with individualism anywhere on the political spectrum has also to be recognised and defeated, ego is a major divisive factor.

I am old enough for truth to be easy, proletarian struggle. Occupy reinforced that with its simple 1% clarity. But these understandings are interspersed throughout a steady campaign of confusion. Politically for me this has shown itself clearly recently with the identification of the left with liberalism, when I think that people might identify my position with neoliberalism, its wars-for-profits and wage-slavery I shudder. But the clarity of my truth has to be tempered by the obvious failure of the genuine left to unite and be meaningful, hence the ease with which we have been labelled with the liberals.

This blog on truth was sparked by watching this video called “The Republic of Science” from Judith Curry, I absolutely do not recommend this video. In Mandtao I examine science – I am posting this in my main blog Zandtao as well. As a Buddhist I am firmly committed to 100% enquiry (4 Agreements as well). Science needs questioning because science is establishment. Now saying science is establishment for me means that science is controlled by the 1%, and when you listen to Judith she talks of the way science is controlled. She makes a very convincing case, that creative scientists (who she calls mavericks) are restricted by the science establishment and government direction. This is excellent, Mandtao would appear to say the same thing but the reality is the exact opposite.

Judith Curry is on the periphery of the Koch brothers campaign for climate denial. I suspect, although I don’t know, that whatever funding she gets stems from the vast amounts the Koch brothers have used to dominate the internet. So-called independent media. I have no interest in her climate denial evaluation – she might have a genuine position; she does not appear to be a direct definitive climate denier. What concerns me is that her analysis of science is so close to the truth that it is so easy to fall for her line.

The problem is she does not see the source of the problem as the 1%. She talks mostly of the science establishment stifling mavericks, who can argue with that? Her position is then that the establishment is stifling the maverick who talks of climate denial. This is so plausible but oh so dangerous. The question is “when is science stifling maverick creativity?” as opposed to “when is scientific knowledge refuting politically and financially-inspired bogus claims of climate denial?” these are significantly different positions yet so subtle. On the level of daily science, the source of funding that creates such destructive scepticism cannot be traced to the 1%, and leaves blogposts such as this in the realms of lunatic conspiracy. This is the purpose of confusion. And with the current level of collective confusion there can be no Unity to fight.

How can I ask for all to see through such subtle manipulation?

I have a completely misguided acquaintance who can put “likes” on my 1%-posts, and yet can support Trump. How confused is he? He does not have a mass movement base to his understanding. An individualist will examine Judith Curry’s individualist examination of science – the individualism that celebrates mavericks, and can see the partial truth of what she says as truth. The mass movement says “where is the hand of the 1%?”, and immediately looks at finance. Once you apply that paradigm you see the Koch Brothers and climate denial – whether Judith believes what she says or not.

I can support her analysis of the scientific establishment, and I thank the funding that has powered that. I can thank the right wing for the Corbett Report that brings this and other useful information to light. But if I am unsure I ask the mass movement question “where is the hand of the 1%?” …. and there is clarity.

As Mandtao the maths/stats man I am a supporter of scientific knowledge and scientific method. I attack the science establishment for similar reasons to Judith Curry’s video “the Republic of Science”, but in the end she is supporting the 1%, the Corbett Report is supporting the 1% by promoting her. All the scepticism around climate change can only be seen in terms of 1%-industries, the Koch Brothers campaign, and how any doubts that arise enable this industrial establishment to continue with the environmental damage and pollution – whatever “scientific point” Judith or others raise.

It is sad in this world that the 1% are so sick, so detached from the species they are a part of, that they want to destroy the very Unity of who we are – the ONE planet. And they will finance and manipulate at any level to enact their sickness. It is so hard to understand how these people became so sick, I understand why Icke wants to separate them and call them lizards, but they are just sick humans. We have to face the understanding that humanity can become as sick as these people.

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