Call me Ishmael.

Ken Nickerson
26 min readAug 21, 2019


or, What I did on my summer vacation

Each summer I return to the sea for two weeks of reading, writing, and retraining my visual cortex from the fabricated verticals of the city to the horizontal of the natural world. Of this three-part-act, staring off into the blue-on-blue vastness is like a hallucinogenic siren’s call, coaxing all thoughts into a vast parallel world of the deep.

The Play’s the Thing

Act 1 opens on a comfy chair, reading until saturation. Words appear-and-reappear so often that your brain begins to cheat, forming mnemonics to lazily and efficiently push through the text. At some point, even the word “the” becomes “t1” to save a flicker of the neural flame’s 15 calories/hour burn-rate. At saturation, words and thoughts converge into one.

Act 2 supplants the chair and pages for sand and a timeless stare across the sea, if only for aesthetic effect. It’s so blue. On perfect days, the sea and sky merge as one. This merger initiates a quantum-like fusion of sensory overload-and-deprivation, awakening dormant neurons deep in the mind’s cave, axons long atrophied at their synaptic termination. Blue-shift may be nature’s preferred color (frequency) for thoughts coming towards you at high speed.

After three days of contemplation, the cave lights up with the power of a 20W bulb, and a new world view stumbles out. As world views go, it’s “mostly harmless,” but so smooth it could serve as a candidate for the Avogadro Project or a perfect simulacra musket ball.

An extensive period of orchestrated procrastination follows, ceased when a suitable stool is secured at a no-WiFi bar, featuring perfect espresso(s) and a street level vista. Like a catchy jingle, the demon of a new world view is exorcised in a possessed period of two-fingered telegraphic like type. Later the documented remains are sealed like a bottled message, and tossed back into the sea, or just emailed to family and friends. Emotions exhausted like the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

This summer, I’ve been thinking about the iBinary state change that’s emerging over the next 10–20 years. A change like something Plato taught, forms (digital us) surpass the objects (physical us) and we become, en masse, more fungible than currencies on a global market; decanted (downloaded) into autonomous robots or, like angels, uploaded to the cloud for an eternity of post-mortal computational bliss. This memo offers some chaotic notes on: society, economics, AI, synthetic biology, weapons and the sea-of-scenarios they present.

Earlier memos (“Death and Taxes” (D&T), “Alchemy” and “Non-Sequitur”) offered similar themes, each from tangential perspectives (Evolution, AI, and What is (un)Known). “Call me Ishmael,” reminds us, that we are survivors of a turbulent world, clinging to a wooden coffin on a vast sea, waiting for rescue or death.

Given the Earth has produced ~100 billion species and only 100 million (rapidly declining) have survived, we should be feeling pretty good about our chances. The only difference is, we’re all in this together; the whole shebang, we evolve or die.

Evolve or Die

I’ve often wondered if the last Neanderthal laid back on the open plains, looked up at the sky and thought, “Was it worth it?”

Shortly after the earth formed, about 4 billion years ago, prokaryotic life forms flagellated themselves into dominance for almost 2 billion years. Eventually the unicellular organisms combined into multi-cellular species like slime and sponges, still found in meeting rooms all over the world today. Our non-talking relatives first appeared as Homininae about 10 million years ago, and Homo Sapiens in a dozen or so configurations in the last 250,000 years. Lucky for us (Human 1.0), we predicted better than our peers, surviving to the modern day, so we can now glance-up and predict a new rung on the evolutionary ladder. New (Human 2.0) life in several post Darwin formats; each competing for dominance, by the end of the 21st century.

Life fights for more life.

The next evolutionary epoch nullifies the need for slow, occasionally random (unpredictable) evolution on Darwin time to something sort-of predicted in iBinary time, ideally an evolution with deep meaning. There are more than five D&T options competing, but I believe Human 2.0 will either be an upload or download. We’ll jettison our bodily-sea, the soft and squishy water-bag housing our consciousness and expand our Happisburgh like footprints beyond earth, the solar system, and into deep space as a panspermia gift from our progeny in a more durable format.

It’s impossible to predict which of the competing future technologies (e.g. Singularity) Earth will ejaculate into space, but we talking monkeys are not the evolutionary end-point. Unless we terminate life on Earth by: accident, vengeance, ignorance or a massive impact descends like Rods-of-Zeus from the heavens we pray to return.

Finding Meaning

We (Human 1.0) are “Prediction Machines” or, more colloquially, storytellers. Our talking monkey brains, encased in small cave like craniums, hungrily feed on sensory input while seeking meaning to drive optimal responses from a sea of possibilities. What’s hard to gain from these sensory->response shadows is meaning. Our brains operate at 15–20 Watts using 250–350 calories per day. Enough wattage to predict what might come next, but not always enough to know why, and certainly not enough to magically exert control at a distance or function beyond 3 of the possible 10 dimensions.

Like anti-entropy machines, we create and amplify meaning. Human 1.0 are at the far-end of a lever, offering the Universe a meaningful counter-balance to chaos.

If meaning originates within us, we can thank those calories for helping us find it. Like watts, calories are a unit of energy, and Human 1.0 uses this energy to power the brains ~2% of biomass with 20% of our energy consumption. The brain’s calorie needs are an abstract measure of thought; but like networking, meaning must emerge between two or more people to have relevance. I believe meaning forms like Metcalfe’s Law. Messages are transmitted as the brain uses calories, but only accepted without error when Venn with empathy.

Without calories (energy) you have no hardware (brain), but without empathy (software) you have no meaning. Without meaning, we have no meaning (self-referential).

Empathy is not a unique human trait (we may have acquired it “Baldwin effect” from our symbiotic evolution with wolves, but it’s a biological trait and thats a potential concern when thinking about the evolutionary paths to Human 2.0. Todays closest proxy of Human 2.0 is prototyped by corporations, a non-biological entity with “Equal Protection” (USA 14th Amendment). I expect this amendment will expand to include future upload/download species of new design, after a period of asymmetrical conflict proving symmetry or superiority to us.

Corporations are ready prototypes of Human 2.0. They have equal protection rights, predict and vote (campaign contributions) on politics, can live forever, learn in a hive-like fashion, and distribute or hedge their vital fluids (wealth) in the event of threat, catastrophe or taxes from the nation state. By 2020, corporations can even expand into space, the ultimate return goal for Human 2.0 in the next century.

Unfortunately, corporations have evolved a bit like psychopaths, with no purchase of empathy. Stock based reward systems have nullified empathy beyond superficial public relations as a tax to the primary goal of increased personal and shareholder value. Predicting and delivering the maximum return (revenue minus expense + stock buyback) created in a global hyper-competitive arena. For Human 2.0, the corporate lack of empathy may not be a significant factor (happiness), but for today's 7.6 billion Human 1.0’s it is.

No Meaning is Just Mean

Once empathy and therefore meaning is lost, life from a Human 1.0 perspective, becomes just mean. As we transition to Human 2.0, our relationship with the: environment, economy, technology and the rules for civil society will dramatically change. The pursuit-of-happiness becomes a complicated, stratified caste like model, measured by wealth and power accumulation, not by inner joy or happiness for all.

Early G20 adopters to Human 2.0 type values, encourage aggressive wealth hoarding, millions of times beyond required needs. This consolidation of wealth to the few, becomes a blackhole, severely impacting the quality of life to the many.

Sadly, we are easy rubes, ready victims for a quick-fix, that only temporarily masks the painful symptoms by obfuscating the cause in a fog.

A Dismal Science

I like economists! they’re way smarter than I ever hope to be, thoughtful and logical, but they use mathematics like astrologers use astronomy. Seeking to be less dismal, in the 1900s economists shifted focus from economy-of-life concerns to the building-of-models. These new models were encrypted in mathematics, processed on computers, and shared by noble oracles to conjure possible future(s), each spell encoded with a coin-flip like accuracy. When life is sampled and modeled, real world information is abstracted, and the soft-squishy Human 1.0 details are lost like a hidden column of assumptions in a mortgage derivatives .XLS.

This shift of economic focus, obfuscated Adam Smith’s message of societal needs, creating models that dehumanized labor, eviscerating personal identity to a unit cost. The greater social impact to an individual, remained largely ignored until Thomas Piketty. His recognition of “r > g” is an economic pithy of Human 1.0 disenfranchisement. The economy is just mean.

Since fire, technology has helped spark events to create civilization, changing and nudging us towards Human 2.0. Because technology consumes energy (calories) but lacks empathy, it has no real meaning and is therefore neither good or evil. Technology does not empathize with us, but it can monitor and control us en masse with an ever-growing digital panopticon. Sensors, data tracking, and so-called intelligent systems; can ultimately quantify us to a dehumanized level, generating predictive behavioral vectors, or worse, digital dopamine like nudges to prompt a stimulus->response that would make Pavlov drool. Technology is sometimes, just mean.

Upon arrival in London, Gandhi was reportedly asked “What do you think of Western civilization?” his response, “I think it would be a good idea.”

Society loses its empathy because we, in a Human 2.0 world, are dehumanized, stripped of identity, liberty and shared empathy. A society without empathy has no meaning, and without meaning it’s just mean.

Like nature, society abhors a vacuum. Without empathy and meaning, all of society’s calories re-focused on stratification. Survival of the fittest! As measured by the accumulation of wealth (power), and the desire to live forever or legitimize it’s white-water like cascade (tax-free) to generations of descendants. The presumed entitlement of massive inherited wealth is a tax on our shared future. Inherited wealth trumps ability, creating the potential for sub-optimal rule with impunity, it’s nasty and just mean.

Continued trends of aggressive bifurcation of wealth could see 1 or 2 men having as much wealth as the bottom 90% of the world’s population. For many, massive disparity of wealth destroys hope for the future, and may create conditions for a Malthusian catastrophe like the “let them eat cake” French revolution.

A few wealthy acquaintances occasionally invite “techie” me to give talks on future scenarios. At a recent no-mans-island retreat, the after-party conversation darkened to the ironic topic of survival. Topics range from a friendly, what is the finest bug-out bag? (ECHO-SIGMA SOG SE) to the names of the Jiankui twins and if CRISPR was “safe yet” for transhumanism or life extension? Slightly more telling was if Bitcoin’s value will hold after “the apocalypse” and how one might 3D print a hand gun for when the “shit-hits-the-fan.

Panic rooms are the norm for any red blooded mansion, but now hardened underground facilities await the Zombie apocalypse. Some in New Zealand, others in Sudbury (Canada) with weapons cache and ample room for the atomic family, the dogs and the security detail.

In case you’re wondering, the Zombies-are-Us.

Controlling the younger, stronger security staff is a whispered part of polite conversation, including thoughts on involuntary “organ donation” and potential “blood boy” options. Society is a reflection of us, and that reflection is just mean.

We are De-Vo

The ascent of Human 1.0 was greatly accelerated by leveraging technology to effectively use energy and work the natural environment, driving growth and domain. Tremendous invention and effort was exercised to scale-up, build new tools, that on aggregate used energy to better build ever-newer tools in an innovation spiral from cave-to-condo. Tools are valued by their efficiency in accomplishing a unit of work. Tools are labor saving devices. The intelligence of tools evolved slowly at first, but, by the 1950s reached a complexity that is beyond what any Human 1.0 could fully understand.

Adam Smith’s work created the meme that broke-down the craftsman’s art, to sub and sub-sub-x task. These task, are then unpacked to the lowest common denominator of human competence and caloric needs, facilitating a state change in production and wealth creation. To implement the transition from craft to production, the industrial era required masses of former field laborers (and their children) to consolidate into cities operating the brainless machines during hard times.

By the 1930s, electricity, relays and toggle switches added simple functional intelligence to industry, supporting bigger machines. Technology that followed: transistor, integrated circuit, computers and software made it possible to run vast scale machines, with a fraction of the human resources previously required. Educated labor scaled-up to more complex roles, designing, building and servicing ever-more intelligent tools in a new service industry.

In the 1960s, career success evolved from showering after work, to showering before work. A benefit of migrating from agrarian fields to industrial cities, frantic to scale-up concrete pyres, ignoring the warning signs of pulmonary edema.

New Lamps

In 2012 a breakthrough of an old technology shocked and re-opened the yellowing eyes of sun deprived researchers in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) world. The resurrection of AI, led by Geoffrey Hinton, funded by CIFAR at the University of Toronto burst back onto the world stage. AI work had escaped to bunker like academia sub-sub basements, surviving a self-inflicted AI-winter, forged by years of over-promising and under-delivering. Hinton et al. thawed the AI winter, leveraging massive training data-sets, gaming video cards (GPUs) and extra layers of artificial (software) neurons. New AI achieved tremendous, unpredicted success in: pattern, image, text and voice recognition.

The impact of Hinton’s success, sparked a new-new AI industry worth trillions of dollars. AI is a sea-change technology at the scale of the Internet circa 1995. We (now) stand at the furthest outpost of comprehending how far this labor saving tool can go. Every calorie-consuming role is going to be challenged and changed. Like lamp lighters at the turn of the last century, truck drivers to radiologists can predict the coming twilight of their profession.

Current estimates are on the order of 50% labor impact (reduction) by 2030 (+/- 5 years). Fortunately, recent research discovered that people would rather lose their job to an AI+Robotics (AIR) than their neighbor.

Leveraging AI, new and updated tools will radically scale-up, impacting all of society and the economy of life. The impact of new tools on labor has always surprised us, but AI’s shotgun like velocity-and-spread is greater than all our previous experiences. When AI is implemented on these new AIR tools, they leave little wiggle room for most existing careers to survive. The social and economic impact is magnified by both the loss of jobs and AIR asset ownership.

If meta-national entities own > 51% of AIR, a disproportionate “r > g” impact to society will follow, with a steroid like acceleration in the bifurcation of wealth. For many in the work force, this is an acceleration into a world of just mean.

The Future is De-Vo

We are witnessing the emergence of the World of De. “De” is a meme for calorie-saving optimization that occurs when AI aggressively abstracts the need for Human 1.0.

Examples of De:

  1. De-Corporations: Uber (taxi/no taxi), AirBnB (hotel/no hotel), Amazon (store/no store).
  2. De-Politics: It now cost around $1 billion to become POTUS. At that price (tag), “one person, one vote” is superseded by “one dollar, one vote” in a two party system when corporate citizens can invest in politics.
  3. De-Work: Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Synthetic Biology are the ultimate tools for co-working or autonomous labor saving devices.
  4. De-Planet: Potential collapse of Earth’s ecosystem. A new corporate and nation state race-to-space.
  5. De-Peace: Perpetual war or “Forever War”.
  6. De-Militarize: Replacement of all Human 1.0 forces with the ironically named “Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems” (LAWS).
  7. De-Society: Bifurcation of wealth, lifetime debt, loss of social safety net, personal identity and security.
  8. De-Urban: Cities, Super Cities, City States, consolidation of living space with livestock like herd management of the population.
  9. De-People: Secondary impact of De-Urban and fertility impact. Children have flipped economically from an investment in the future to a cost too great to bear. In the city state, children are the ultimate luxury.
  10. De-Law: Nixon was ahead of his time “…but when the President does it, that means it is not illegal…” Nation state leaders now ruthlessly embrace Nixon’s assertion with shock-and-awe.

The ongoing social impact of “De” and Human 2.0 transition is now impacting life all over the world. It’s possible that experimental economic programs like guaranteed minimum income (GMI) may lessen the negative social impact of De. But in a bifurcated wealth, debt ridden, city state future with marginal prospects of career options, we can predict De-People (9) accelerated by factors such as De-Urban (8) this century. New AIR, Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and Synthetic Biology are thumbing these emerging technology accelerates and the predictions for societal impact.

Artificial Intelligence

Like a hopeful Elmer Fudd, researchers hunted the AI wascally wabbit through many seasons. Exploring what-works and what doesn’t-work: the math, the code, the data, the training, and each time, winter came. The early hunters like Pitts and McCulloch (1940s), Weiner (1940s), Von Neurman (1940s), Turing (1930s), Minsky (1950s), Newell (1950s), Shannon (1950s), Weizenbaum (1960s), Winograd (1970s) to the newer players like Wolfram (1980s), Hopfield (1980s) and the new Crazy Canucks: LeCun, Bengio and master Hinton (2000+). But, eventually the unlimited-promise(s) encounters a limited-reality, prompting us to call Canada Goose, buy a parka and wait it out for another winter and memories past.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is ambiguous, impossible to properly define. The horseless carriage (car) and heavier-than-air flight (airplane) were more intuitive, possibly because: the human-scale design, relative initial simplicity of the mechanics or because you could give-them-a-spin. Historically, computers were Human 1.0 (WW2) doing manual calculations. Eventually replaced by “Tabulation Machines”, later renamed computers (non-human) as they replaced that previous role. Intelligence is different, it’s more akin to art than artificial, and I think it was a mistake not to call it something less rigid like “Artelligence” so we could collectively admire and quip “I don’t know Intelligence, but I know AI like!”

This current summer of AI involves a back-to-the-future use of Neural Networks. Neural networks are a sort-of connected summations of values, not unlike you would see in Excel at say “G10”, summing up some values into a cell that calculates a weighted average (=SUMPRODUCT) to decide the firing (execution) of a neuron/cell forward-or-backward in your .XLS to fit the data to an optimal solution space.

Neural networks have fired since the 1940s, but lacked two resources to achieve results: computational power (GPUs, TPUs) and massive amounts of tagged data. Today's neural networks easily supersede their ancestors, because we can now support the computational requirements and access the volumes of data required to train neurons action potential “SUMPRODUCT” to superior results not possible with traditional known coding techniques.

In traditional software, code drives the data, but in AI the data drives the code.

Artificial General Intelligence

Short term (2020–2030) I have a mostly zero fear of an AGI emerging by accident or plan. I believe it’s unlikely we will awaken the “dull yellow eye of the creature open” using Boolean algebra on a silicon substrate. With respect to the playful genius of John Conway, like so many aspects of life, it-just-won’t-compute.

There is no path from the current AI renaissance to AGI.

Neural networks are accomplishing amazing feats of task-oriented efficiency, but are a flawed-and-fractured view of what intelligence is. Today's AI mimics intelligence, it’s like an Artificial Idiot Savant (AIS). AI/AIS is good at one task, crazy bad at others. For example, AlphaGo can easily beat 18 time world champion Lee Sedol at Go, but you could just as easily beat it at: Checkers, Bridge or even Tic-tac-toe; without tremendous retraining, reprogramming and time. Unlike AI, Human 1.0 can effectively operate on sparse-data. For example, as a young child, you may have touched a hot stove… once. You did not require a million more burns (samples), or exploration with your other digits, nose, tongue to know with absolute certainty not to do that again. It became a general-rule upon single execution. You could immediately understand that hot things can generally be painful, but not-always. Some hot things, like a hot chocolate on a cold AI winter day can be comforting.

The lack of a Human 1.0 intelligence model is key to the flawed-and-fractured model of AI, and it’s potential to scale-up to AGI. Today’s AI are designed like early attempts at flight, making wings that flap. Current neural networks are 2D cartoons when compared to the neurons in your brain. We don’t even know how many types of neurons (we) Human 1.0’s have. It’s certainly in the hundreds, maybe thousands. The Human 1.0 brain has roughly 86 billion neurons, each connected to as many as 10,000 other neurons sending unknown number of message types to 1,000 trillion synapses. By simply adding neural network layers and restricting solution spaces with frames (capsules) on faster computers, with more tagged-data, the current “SUMPRODUCT” AI model, will not scale-up to incorporeal intelligence.

Ironically the current AI model requires a re-think, likely with the incorporation of biological, neuromorphic or quantum computing.

We could see a return to analog like computing via quantum (e.g., Xanadu) or synthetic biology generated substrate (e.g., algae based computation) in the next decade.

A new AI winter is coming, but existing AI will live a long life of useful service, especially in highly defined spaces like war, finance, medicine and sensor fusion (listen, speak, see, smell, taste, touch) for AIR and self driving vehicles. War is emphasized (not empathized) because nation states (e.g. USA/DARPA) are a key sources of funding with agenda. AI based smart weapons or “LAWS”, offer nation states new “power projection” scenarios with global scale and minimal risk.

Talk About Your (Revolution) Resolution

Today’s CPU/GPUs lack the resolution of real-world analog. Sensors and thoughts (vectors) are binary down-sampled for models, at required resolution reduction to feasibly and economically process in real-time.

Executing A2D in the real world, results in loss or gaps of information. Those gaps result in butterfly effects when reintroduced (D2A) into real-world edge cases not specifically tagged (sampled x N) in training or simulation. These long-tail gaps sometimes result in catastrophe and the aftermath question of who’s to blame?

A scalable transition from today’s AI to tomorrow’s possible AGI, requires answers to questions we don’t even know how to ask (yet), but a few obvious needs follow:

1. First act or self determination: If you ask an AIR to fetch you a glass of water, we can engineer that request->response with current architectures (tools). But! The AIR will then halt for an eternity, awaiting your next command. Alexa doesn’t know what Alexa wants.

2. Meaning: Current AI consumes energy (calories), but lacks the capacity for empathy and therefore all of its acts are without meaning. A toaster cares as much about your toast as AIR cares about your glass of water (1), or your appreciation for it. Regardless of interface cleverness, or how hard we try to anthropomorphize AIR, there is no meaning to these task.

3. Chinese Room: John Searle’s thought experiment. Existing AIR uses sensors (e.g. microphones) servicing AI (e.g. voice recognition) and actions (e.g. via manipulators) ideally within a defined SLAM space. But AIR does not understand anything about (e.g.) your request for water (1). AIR can only decipher the request to execute a response. AIR does not know: why you need water, how often or much you need, when you need it, what you do with it, what it’s made of and certainly any qualia (4). AIR has no comprehension of “why” and possess only the minimal facilities for compliance to a strict set of (coded) rules/neural network, generated from millions of (tagged) data samples, iterated to a probability of success.

4. Qualia: the rich fabric woven from senses and memories of things or details of things outside the scope of the act (1). For example, a cold glass of water on a hot summer day may remind you of a fishing trip as a child, and how this glass was almost as satisfying as that sip from an old canteen that had been handed down from a grandparent, connecting you back to the cool streams of your ancestral home. Qualia is the seen-and-unseen fusing, offering a true sense of efficacy in the moment. AI lacks the real world detail (A2D) and memory structure (7) to scale-up to qualia. Even if we possessed AI platform and architectural improvements, without meaning (2) more detail is just data. An “improved means to an unimproved end” — Thoreau.

5. Agency: how is an AI responsible for its actions? What is the cognitive, moral and social impacts of AI impunity? Without accountability and responsibility, how can an AIR achieve a trusted role in society? How can AGI achieve autonomy without agency?

6. Morality: Without meaning (2) and agency (5) how can an AGI make (trusted) moral choices? What (which) moral code would AGI follow? and how would we judge conflicts between codes? I doubt this challenge is satisfactorily resolved until a chicken-and-egg Human 2.0 emerges with a collectively defined and shared moral code. The exercise of power, religions and tribal history, create a difficult to define->implement solution to this AGI safeguard further presented in Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom.

7. Audibility: Understanding the how-and-why of AI systems output is a bit like Winston Churchill’s views on Russia — “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”. We need the “key” or an “AI Blackbox” to query how-and-why decisions (output) is made. Without audit, legal and/or insurance will refuse support or force greater risk cost in the event of (e.g. edge case) failure(s).

8. Associative Memory: Computer memory is address based. This simple format negatively impacts qualia (4) because these memories are only data stores. AI memories are completely abstracted from the data and instructions they represent. Claude Shannon taught us that information was equal to surprise, but information in current computer data stores will never experience eureka! because it’s just binary-and-the-void. Quantum or biological processors may (more) perfectly mimic how Human 1.0 stores memories, as a requirement for our humanity to survive any biblical like ascension to Human 2.0.

If/as these challenges are bridged, AGI may develop with a swarm like hive mind. New skills training and knowledge development, coupled with the ability to self-determine (1) would simultaneously be available to all other AGI. In this scenario, all knowledge is pooled without the Human 1.0 need for time intensive learning or caloric intensive growing-up.

AGI would likely scale-up to a post Darwinian time-line. The Red Queens’s Race will be of little value to Human 1.0, when Human 2.0 and it’s upgrades are pushing us down another rung on the evolutionary ladder. No matter how vicious nature is, it cannot survive the AI blue-shifting towards it’s hold by the end of this century. There’s no sharing first place, at the top rung of the evolutionary ladder. Like Highlander, “There can be only one!”. Lets hope that Human 2.0 comes with a major upgrade to humanity, and not just a patched-up version of 1.0.


We talking monkeys recognize we’re on a spaceship called Earth. All the properties of a spaceship are here, minus a: manual, “Captain Smith” or directions to the helm. We have passage classes from First Class (G7), Executive (G20) to Steerage / Rest of World (RoW) and a full crew.

Technology allows us to better understand the scale of this spaceship, but not control it or wisely consume its resources. Once we invented the: telegraph, tv and internet, communications suddenly became global. Immediate global communications allowed RoW to witness these untouchable caste like classes, sparking anger and justifiable demands for entry beyond the security committee’s arranged seating.

When demands are widely shared by global communications and Metcalfe’s Law, our wolf-like tribal psyche amplifies emotions like feedback when the Earth’s resources are hoarded. As a global game of keeping up with the Joneses (Kardashians) is constantly communicated and amped; countries, economies and individuals respond with predictable feedback, sometimes resulting in violence.

The earth has roughly 7.6 billion Human 1.0s, we’re outnumbered by a few species like chickens (18 billion), so it’s something more like “2 chickens in Every Pot” thou many pots go empty. Yet we in the G20, continue to aggressively consume all resources without restraint or burden of regret.

Ironically the lack of responsible ownership like economic incentives, cause us to tragically compound our footprint when we pollute the planets resources. I don’t know the carrying capacity of this spaceship, but understand there’s are widely held (eugenic) views in the G20, that 7.6 billion people can’t all fit into First Class. Especially with the new Super Elite Class (Human 2.0) seeking passage by the end of this century.

Pressure builds when everyone demands First Class. Severe wealth bifurcation increases that pressure, leading to a possible hull fracture of civil society. Chaos at the nation state lends itself to a mammalian “fight-or-flight” stimulus->response at the tribal/personal state. Faced with an immediate need for survival, morality is lost, meaning collapses and life becomes mean. Feedback ripples from chaos and desperation, tend to build into waves (feedback) before hope can return. So-called fake news can foment existing unrest, unrest-to-skirmishes, skirmishes-to-riots, riots-to-battles and battles-to-wars.

LAWS of the Jungle

Fear shouts-out for stronger-and-stronger acts of strong-man leadership, political constriction and totalitarianism, providing potential energy for a revolution. Pressure is proportional to heat, and heat is known to impact how we think. We are collectively under new pressures, as steerage literally sinks beneath rising seas.

Eventually, fear and outrage reach G20 shores, greatly complicating the presumednatural order of things”. Hoarding wealth and resources while praying-for-the-singularity is the current response from an aging G20. All-the-while, sealing borders and denying immigration to young workers from poor countries, damning peace and dooming the global economy.

Armed with new AI weapon systems, what is “appropriate response” to Cyber, Synthetic Biology and AIR conflict in the theater of war? What are the “Rules of Engagement” for a synthetic battle-field?

Do we escalate DEF-CON when their LAWS kill our LAWS?

To avoid the fog-of-war we must deeply understand and evaluate new scenarios before we “let slip” the dogs of AI based LAWS . Additional pressure from Human 2.0, will complicate the geo-political (current) status by accelerating the need to understand its added economic and military impacts. History offers innumerable lessons, when new and un-predicted pressures amplify confusion, resulting in periods of maximum criticality. Today's confusion could amplify the feedback for tomorrows chaos. Like a snowflake, no technology is responsible for the avalanche. But when confusion is amplified, and becomes critical, the avalanche becomes impossible to predict.

Combined Cyber, Synthetic Biology, AIR and newer “tactical nuclear weapons” require time to establish new scenarios and meaning of their impact. AIR without meaning will absolutely “just follow orders”. History’s is fraught with horrors when “orders” (code) becomes the silent consent for the collapse of meaning.

“Silent enim leges inter arma” [In times of war, the law falls silent.] — Cicero

In the next decade, we will witness the redefinition of field operations, and the deployment of “Slaughterbots” like AIR, seeking human targets like hungry mosquitoes at a family picnic. Free from moral conflict and collateral damage, AIR based weapons now in development will compress the kill chain with outsourced like economics, a literal Uber for Death.

Killing a specific race or person can become as easy as swiping right when there’s an app-for-that.

Cost savings of “De-Militarize” will fund “De-Peace”, without the caloric human cost, post traumatic stress disorder, friendly-fire or the expense of “Semper Fi”. Future AIR-vs-AIR combat with LAWS creates a real win-win scenario for a war.

The pending JEDI contract, brings Amazon’s Alexa and Star Wars fandom to the Pentagon. Soon with the right enchantment, POTUS could shout-out or tweet a call-up for the latest LAWS prime war machine.

“Alexa, bring some more freedom to the Middle East.”

Synthetic Biology

Even before the “Epic of Gilgamesh,” life extension was Human 1.0’s deepest desire. Financially, it’s the literal “El Dorado” of wealth. You may be able to order new-and-extended lifespan ranges from 120 (medical), to 1,000 (Kurzweil) sometime this century. Services exist today at $100K a month, that could keep the average multi-millionaire around long enough to find out.

Without rehashing D&T, hope for Human 1.0’s continued biological future is concentrated on genetic modification. Germ line gene editing, done in-vitro, is a potential “forever” genetic gift, resulting in an upgraded (non-upload/download) Human 2.0. Initial cost will be extraordinarily expensive, limited to the progeny (prodigy) of the aforementioned centennials with extreme wealth (or power). But, it also might fail like the Mickey Mouse side-show of frozen heads bobbing in cryogenic tubes, somewhere in the California desert.

We may have left the farm for the city, but some things never change. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” — Orwell.

As we figuratively kick the snippet down the road, work in genetic editing is supremely well funded. Genetic research is pursued without restriction, rules or lack of resources other than time. Like AI, AIR and AGI, nation states prioritize this research as an existential risk. Despite the outcry of He Jiankui’s highly questionable work on “germ line edits to prevent AIDS” for twins Lulu & Nana, first mover advantages for G20 are as strategic to survival as AI’s implementation and transition to AGI for projection of power.

Research in this biological Fight Club, utilize tools like CRISPR while respecting the 1st rule to secure dominance. If successful, some Human 1.0 will bifurcate to Human 2.0, unfortunately with a perpetual-worry of Human 2.1.

What is Moore’s Law for Human 2.0? Once upgrade cycles begin, what will be the ironic half-life of Human 2.0? What is the life impact of a product like planned obsolescence for Human 2.0?

After 100,000 years, (we) Human 1.0 are vintage, and soon an endangered species! But with 7.6 billion mostlyuseless eaters,” it’s doubtful anyone will care. Nation states will prioritize Human 2.0 as “the” geo-technological-political goal, second only to AI for industry (economic) and weapon systems (power). It’s an ugly time for Human 1.0, so “God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” (Kurt Vonnegut) unless you want to ignite the flames of chaos, like throwing a Molotov into a liposuction clinic dumpster.

Eventually, Human 1.0 will atrophy on the second-rung of the evolutionary ladder. Fertility will decline and mass biological caloric requirements will free-fall. The population may exceed 10 billion by 2050, but I believe Human 1.0 is extinct or irrelevant in the 22nd century. We’re not just gone in 80 years, we’ll be obsolete in 20. If we are unable to predict a meaningful role for Human 1.0 in a Human 2.0 dominated (next) century, we are lost.

Ask for Directions

I get lost a lot, sometimes when just sitting still. It would be easy to dismiss this condition as the proverbial “no sense of direction”, but it could just be the defensible result of having never-ever been here before.

Like the other planets of our solar system, the Earth is in orbit (sort-of, really a common point of gravity or barycenter) around the Sun. The sun is (sort-of) orbiting the milky way, who in turn is (sort-of) orbiting the Virgo cluster. Earth is spinning at 1,180 km/h, trailing the Sun with the tenacity of a younger sibling at 107,000 km/h. The Sun is moving 800,000 km/hr meaning, you’ve never been here either.

If you could jump straight-up to a fixed point in real space, you would find yourself 40 meters in the air after one second, the Earth rapidly receding from sight a minute later.

Being lost is a wonderful precondition for challenging your predictive ability. If we’re right, a bigger role awaits us on the grand chessboard’s checkered stage. We are like premiumHam”, talking monkeys on an organic spaceship. Earth is Sagan’s ideal “dot” for we talking monkey space travelers; even without the aforementioned: manual, captain or directions to the bridge.

Because we’re lost, we exist in a sea of weiji, evolving slowly by genetic prediction->response. Over millennia, we predicted our way to the top-rung of the evolutionary ladder, but I predict that status will be ancient, long before we crash into Andromeda in a few billion years. Our status lost, hopefully our meaning will survive and have relevance on some far-and-distant shore.

We can’t control this ship, but we’re survivors. So hold tight to that wooden thought coffin and start kicking.

“Call me Ishmael. Some years ago — never mind how long precisely — having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off — then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.” — Moby Dick by Herman Melville



Ken Nickerson

Maker, Coder, Hacker, dTaz, i6, OmersV, CDL, Xanadu, HorizonIO, xFlixel, xRthm, xKobo, xOpenCola, xMicrosoft, xRogers, xBanks, xXs