Macro: An exploration of time
Macroeconomics is not only about today and tomorrow’s economic numbers. When thinking about technology bets in trading and what happens in the world, the very long view sometimes helps adding perspective. So this time we look at a very long view.
According to Big Bang Theory, out of nothing, there comes the explosion of energy that forms our universe called the “inflation”. It will take roughly 380.000 years until the overall radiation density goes down and the universe cools down so quarks can mingle and atoms start forming.
A few more billion years, and the plasma and newly merged atoms form suns that start burning and producing a lot of more atoms untill they start to explore in supernovas and shoot rays of particles throughout space and eventually lead a lot of carbon to be placed in different areas of the universe.
And another few billion years until planets start forming out of plasma and atomic dust. Carefully orchestrated, the universe clusters into galaxies. The galaxies somehow from in a large web that looks like our brain. Within the Galaxies, sub structures form that cluster into solar systems. And cooled-off planets rotate around very hot objects such as suns. And then you have planets such as earth that accumulate carbon and burn inside. As they burn inside, they create chemical processes that produce an electro-magnetic field which keeps out radiation and lowers the surface temperature volatility that allows climate to emerge.
Our planet is currently dated at 4.5 billion years, so this happens roughly 9.4 billion years after the big bang. From there, it takes another roughly 3 billion years for planet earth to move from being a chaotic dead planet to building an atmosphere with Oxygen in which life can start to evolve. And from there, many generations of cell deaths and mutations in DNA later, the Cambrian explosion leads to an unfolding of cell DNA into a multi-tude of multi-cell organisms. And yet later, a few hundred million years later, we are building computers and manipulate DNA. thinking about the origins of the universe. Our planet is currently dated at 4.5 billion years, so this happens roughly 9.4 billion years after the big bang. From there, it takes another roughly 3 billion years for planet earth to move from being a chaotic dead planet to building an atmosphere with Oxygen in which life can start to evolve. And from there, many generations of cell deaths and mutations in DNA later, the Cambrian explosion leads to an unfolding of cell DNA into a multi-tude of multi-cell organisms. And yet later, a few hundred million years later, we are building computers and manipulate DNA. thinking about the origins of the universe.
It goes without saying that this is fascinating as much as it is peculiar. It seems humans and their intelligence are not possible without the biosphere, but intelligence naturally emerges out of evolution. It appears that a biosphere can not emerge without some very detailed configurations in a solar system, and yet here we are and if the configuration is given, you get life and intelligence. It seems such configuration requires many physical forces and the creation of different atomic structures, and yet we have these structures and hence we have the rest. And even still. in all this complexity, it seems the universe needs enough energy to make all these random occurences come together over time. And it had this energy. And here we are.
One can not start to wonder if this is all just randomness. If this is all just things happening. And it all bears no meaning. Or whether this is reason to be amazed. If this is reason to be puzzled. Awed. And maybe even allowing us to raise the question: Is there anything larger than the universe? How is the universe connected to maybe an even bigger system? And in all these structures and their complex relationship, is this just the beauty of chaos, or is this maybe the work of what we have called God(s)?
It goes without saying there is a gross error in reasoning when assuming this is all just a random play of things and there is absolutely no reason that such a small system as the human brain is able to create awareness and posses consciousness and that it deems itself capable of reflecting, describing, modelling and controlling such fascinating topics as matter, forces, energy and DNA. I think one has to be be rather dull and uncreative in reasoning to feel anything but amazed about this. And once can not but feel deeply saddened given all this that we are still discussing whether we shall let our neighbors starve, whether we shall fight over who has a right to live on this planet earth. To argue that anyone could be worth more than any other being in the creation. It seems utterly absurd, if you understand how far we have come and how close we are to making the earth an utopia for mankind and all the other members of our biosphere that inhabit this planet.
Again, we can see 13.5 billion years ago, we assume the big bang happens. 300.000 years later we have atomic structures forming. Around 12.9 billions of years ago, the formation of galaxies out of gasses happens and they starts to separate. Well, at least to our regular eyes they separate. Today we know, that all galaxies are connected. We discovered it in simulations and can now see it with specialized telescopic equipment. (Link)
Around 9.1 Billion Years ago planets start to emerge. Yes, that is non-burning, rotating pieces of rock that circulate around suns and other heavy objects. And today we believe that there are around 19.000.000.000.000 Billion earthlike planets in the universe (Link) .
That always has and always will raise the question: Are there other intelligent life forms in the universe? And on what stage of development are they?
Well, this guy ran an example calculation on how long it takes for intelligent life to form in a carbon-based system.
- The core equation : P-L-H-E=A
- P = 9.1 Bn Years . Time it takes to form planets
- L = 0.6 Bn Years . Time it takes to form life
- H = 3.78 Bn Years Time it takes for hominid-expressive DNA
- E = 0.3 Bn Years Time it takes to accumulate biomass energy
- A = 4.42 Bn Years Radio-Capable civilizations to emerge in galaxy
From earth itself, we know a bit more. Let’s look at our statistics on how long it took Earth to build a biosphere and early life forms to generate Oxygen. Oxygen appears to have a critical role in carbon-based ecologies. And again, to become relevant and create life, we do not only need Oxygen and the magical properties of Carbon. We need exactly the atoms we have for this to happen. We furthermore need their properties that define when they are liquid, when they are gas, when they are solid, how they react with each other and under what conditions and they need exactly that amount of energy from the Sun that the planet get to produce something like our biosphere. Peculiar? Yes.
So, assuming that first organisms started to form rather randomly around 4.5 Billion years ago, we get the following time line for earth.
We have to consider that we had Theia (and Moneta 40) slam into proto-earth 4.51 Bn years ago. So that would have killed pretty much all prior life and it created our moon.
For life to form, you probably need a non-solid surface out of air, dust and winds, water and fluid mechanics. And suddenly your elements start floating around and forming clusters that generate the first carbon-based complexes that then start to use energy in their environment to run chemical processes. At some point, these organisms start to have cell structures and the cell structures merge and start to form micro-organisms, DNA emerges and parts of the cells start to specialize. Organisms start living sperate “lives” and move about, dying and reproducing and eating and so forth.
This all truly becomes possible once Oxygen levels start skyrocketing. So around 2.4 Billion years ago, although it dropped again around 2.0 Billion years ago, (link), things start getting more interesting. It takes 300 million years and Eukaryots start forming. Probably by merging bacteria and algae.
Another 800 Million years later, around 900 Billion years ago, multi-cell organisms start forming. 400 Million years later the whole thing becomes exponential and and we have the Cambrian Explosion. Life explodes in the water, on land. And complex ecosystems and their ecology emerges, starting the evolutionary process we know from Darwin.
A few years later, we are getting the Dinosaurs. Another mass extinction event. And then we see the evolution of humans.
The interesting thing here is really how all comes together. Energy turns to elements. Elements clump to planets. They assemble around suns. The mass properties of suns are sufficient to attract the planets. Some planets have a bit of luck and are non-solid structures with just the right composition of atomic elements and biospheres emerge. Under the right conditions, life emerges and builds a biosphere. Then DNA/RNA is emerging and vast ecosystems of life forms start to emerge, being regulated as dynamic systems of interaction and always strongly interacting between host systems — e.g. dinosaurs or humans -, parasites — such as worms, viruses — and complex elements — such as bacteria.
This goes on an on until you have intellect and planned decision making forming and you have intelligent life, which clones the ecological concept by forming abstract ecology which we today call economics.
This all is possible only because of a system of abstraction. Quantum physics is abstracted away from the larger universe when you have atomic structures and the macro-physical world forming. The macro-physical world is clustering into galaxies and solar systems who life fairly free from each other. And then you have chemical puzzle pieces evolving fairly contained from the wider universe in their planetary system. Cells start forming rather indifferent from what happens somewhere else than in their current environment. And then organisms ranging from single cells to billions of cells start interacting mostly unaffected from organisms that are vastly different from them. We don’t eat air, but things of sufficient size that we can see it. For some arbitrary reason the water we collect and drink falls in sufficient size that we can catch raindrops and the ones we can catch and are provided to us are neither too small — e.g. they could be microbiotic sized — not too large — they could be football field large — to live with them.
And then we start using tools that fit ito our hands and can operate on our organs which also happen to just have the right size for us to operate on them. All such wonderful coincidences.
And now we are able to find gold, oil and other natural resources in sizes that are just large enough for us to build cities, cars and computers and ships. Oh what a funny world it is indeed.
And as we continue to explore life around us, the viruses and bacteria co-exist without much influence on our life and we build reservoirs and farms of animals and fish that seem just large enough for us to feed and nature provides our soils and waters just the right amount of nutrients to keep us going.
This is not only amazing when you think about sizes relative to humans. You also have to wonder how much “size” in cells is needed to generate something as complex as our brain. And what a gigantic biosphere you need to create the organisms that we call food to sustain our brains. And how carefully well this must be designed in order to have us find sufficient resources in the right amounts to build cities, roads and machines. And how ridiculously well designed this must be for us to be able to create nano-sized chipsets that do computing work for us. And this all must work hand in hand so well that we can run machines using solar energy that now interact with the biosphere. Does this all look coincidental? Or does it sound that humans are in control of all these happy coincidences?
I think the federal reserve can look at these phenomenon only with sheer wonder given the sound economics of the universe. And one can start to wonder: why is it that we are not better in some of the things we do?
But in the end, all seems to fit perfectly together and demand from us that we refrain from Hybris on our control of the universe and our planet. But we look at it with respect. And with an open and friendly question on our mind: how can be fit better into this universe and this planet that made this all possible for us?
Technology and the Future
I think it goes without saying that we have absolutely no control over a few things at the moment. Bacteria and viruses and how they evolve are still beyond our control. We will have to hope for the best when it comes to the complexity of life when it comes to micro-organisms considering we are several billion cells strong and it is just outside of our reach to control this topic.
The very same is likely true for the macro world we know. There is just nothing we can do if a Quasar or some other macro event we might not even understand yet is heading for our demise. It is absolutely random and likely due to our very short history that we have not been confronted with anything catastrophic here. But given the few billion years of earths existence, there is no reason to believe that we might have missed something here. It goes without saying that our sight into the past is limited to our understanding of reading what presents to us today.
Another area where we seem yet to have little control over is what happens exactly in the quantum world. As we seem to make progress here, we still cannot exclude that new doom might just come to us out of nowhere via he structures in a world we do not yet quite understand. Our sight is only as far as the universe presents itself to us.
Given these three areas, one of the most absurd ideas that I have come across in the tech ecosystem evolve around the transcendence of humans and life by new technology. Some absurd theories exist around us uploading ourselves into computers. A concept so narrow minded that one doesn’t really comment on it. But simulating the complexity that may be required for consciousnesss to form might as well require the entire universe, given that we have no understanding yet on how the complexity in our brain cells contribute to consciousness and what quantum-level structures we might not even know yet.
The idea that artificial intelligence and robots will transcend us is equally nonsensical and seems to be fed by a gross misunderstanding on how complex life and our biosphere really is. Even 1.000 billion robots and microchips would not replicate this complexity. And even then, they would be creatures adapted to an environment that we understood at the point in time when we created them. If we miss any particular feature of our reality, they will forever be limited to function according to our today’s understanding. Whereas we as humans and our biosphere is certainly embedded in whatever there is that we still have to discover.
So the big technology areas that are certainly interesting are studies on genetics and management of the biosphere as well as the creation of computation and robotic machines that can augment our life and that of the biosphere. Yes, swarms of nano-bots cleaning the oceans from plastic and the air from pollution are one such thing. Robots killing bacteria is likely not something that will help anyone. And humans killing trees and animals is also not likely something that will advance mankind.
So from from this very macro view on the world, the macroeconomic outlook for mankind certainly is that is has to stop fighting humans with humans. That we have to carefully consider our interaction with nature and the biosphere. And that we should be careful and open about any innovation that may hinder the evolution and symbiosis of what we are today of what we — including everything else on this planet — may become in the near term future.