If you could compress several hundred years of technological evolution powered by fossil fuels, this is what it would look like. It starts slowly, but then there is a profusion of tools, each spring loaded by fossil fuels, a cancerous profusion. They go off rapidly and that’s it, end of civilization. Who and what will reload the springs? Will it be reloaded with another fossil fuel bonanza? Even if a new source of energy is found, what type of RNA will be around in a destroyed ecosystem to reload the springs? Without humans what is technology’s purpose? With humans what is technology’s purpose?
Below is one of the early technological tinkerers. Not really that early, you can see the buildings behind him. There is already enough surplus energy in society, because of agriculture (another form of mining) to provide enough free time to explore possibilities. Nature loves to explore and discover new possibilities as seen in her profusion of different species. How pleasing to have exploration and innovation occurring at another scale, the human scale. The inventor doesn’t know it yet, but he is an intermediary between information and the physical world, an RNA. In studying the brain I continuously hear how wonderful and complex an organ it truly is, but the complexity does not lie with the human brain, but with the information to which it makes small changes. The human brain is little more than a rewards seeking organ, just like most of the other brains on the planet. Its uniqueness is in its evolved ability to make small changes in information in the design of tools. Most of the “awesome” complexity doesn’t reside in the human brain. The complexity builds within the information. For instance, there isn’t a person alive that could specify all of the components and materials of a personal computer, it just doesn’t exist in a human brain. But a human brain can make small changes at the margin using specialized knowledge. Human brains are vastly overrated and are not the most complex things in the universe.
Robert Hooke surrounded by recorded information and tools. He’s one of the RNA facilitators of technological evolution. Information coming through the eyes for hands to assemble tools. His hands of course are a key feature of this wonderful painting, the essential manipulative organs. The chain in his hands will be placed around Homo sapiens neck and pulled tight.
Humans mostly just build tools and seek reward, that’s what they’ve evolved to do without much circumspection. The tools can be very complex and effective at eating and processing everything in their paths, turning it into cancer infrastructure, also known as factories, roads, cities and so on. The rewards flow through the arteries of the expanding cancer to the humans whose dopamine continuously motivates them towards new rewards. What is there to do about it? Probably not much because most of humankind are not conscious. They may be awake, but they’re not conscious and may actually have neurological defenses against being fully conscious. Now we have to watch mindless buffoons compete for the right to lead an equally mindless cancerous growth while thumping on Bibles and waving flags in the air. There’s not a whole lot to be said for “the most complex thing in the universe”, the human brain, if all it can produce are simpletons, flim-flam artists and mindless tinkerers busily assembling tools of self-destruction.
This video is great. Shows the compressed metabolic activity of Los Angeles. Remember, this outlandishly large scale growth has spread all over the earth, for now.
The activity depicted in the video clip above is probably little different than what occurs in your body. Numerous cellular structures, distribution lanes, the flow of essential materials into and out of cells. As I’ve mentioned before and as a result of our natural heritage, human RNA travel to and from their work cells to their domestic cells – just a human preference not to live in high-density, concrete-clad environments 24/7. They may even go fishing, hiking or hunting on the weekend or just hang out on a concrete street corner doing social monkey things. It takes 19 million barrels of oil per day converted into kinetic energy to keep metabolites moving in the United States plus an additional amount on the farmlands to make sure the RNA are adequately supplied with food. Prior to our malignant conversion the ecosystem could only support a relatively small number of large predators by concentrating plant energy in large herbivores. We were probably just marginal meat eaters and the top of the food chain (lions and tigers and bears) fed upon the wayward monkey. But you have to be in awe of these giant tumors like Los Angeles, the outlandish scale of energy consumption is simply orders of magnitude greater than what the ecosystem could ever support or will ever be able to support. The only reason it exists is because of the rapid draw-down of fossil fuels, soil, water, mined metals and other resources. Humans have evolved to initiate and bring to completion this orgy of consumption. It won’t last and is currently beginning to break down. It couldn’t have been stopped as we have no free will in the face of such glorious rewards.
The oil seesaw is now in motion, high prices (broke economies) followed by low prices (broke energy sector) will eventually lead to signs at the gas stations “NO GAS” or alternatively “NO MONEY” in the pockets of unemployed RNA. Just sort of crept-up on our perceptive leaders who now scramble to squeeze oil from rocks and make sure the Middle East jugular doesn’t get cut. That’s the way exponential growth is, it’s the last doubling that catches you by surprise.
Rats and humans have so much in common. It’s all about the rewards. Mother nature is spring-loaded too.
Life happened. If there were some awesome cognition in the universe, I’m sure it would consider life an amusing incident. But such a God, in order to think, would also have to be the product of such an amusing incident. So let’s just consider ourselves an incidence of replication, reproducing molecules that further elaborated themselves into reproducing cells and then into reproducing organisms. We are and forever will be unknown in the galaxy, occupying a thin watery layer of just the right mix of precursor molecules just the right distance from a star. Our ancestors have been thoughtlessly slaughtering and eating each other for several billions of years as a matter of course. It’s all seems as meaningless as the circulating currents in the seas and atmosphere, we’re like little spinning tops just throwing off heat on the way to our next meals. All of the evolution leads nowhere except, as I’ve tried to convey on this blog, to a different scale of the same thing – technological evolution, competition, degrading resources, throwing off heat and mutually assured destruction (MAD). And the destruction is most assuredly assured if we take just a few more steps down the path of technological competition.
So why take survival so seriously? Aren’t you just being a dupe in continuing the madness? Why not put an end to life, the competitive madness that leads nowhere but to more competitive madness, once and for all? Perhaps it’s because of the reward system. We don’t have time to think about what we’re doing and our concerns are focused upon getting the next rewards. We must or die. If there’s anything that gets the dopamine flowing it’s the chance at a big reward, an opioid brain cocktail, and that’s what we think about mostly (and the obstacles between ourselves and our happy destinies). Organisms rarely have time to consider what they’re doing, but must continuously have in mind their next reward lest some other greedy organism take the opportunity from them and win in the survival of the fittest. Generally speaking, the fittest are those that can acquire the most rewards vis-a-vis their competitors. Strangely, many of those that have been most successful at running the reward maze, have forgotten to procreate. Go figure.
At this point in human evolution, as we have been reduced in stature from free-living system to molecular operator in technological cells, one must wonder what continuance has to offer. Another iteration of Ipad or Iwatch or perhaps ICBM mark VI? Unfortunately the neurological adaptations allowing our technological conversion can not be seen as progress in the evolution of life, they rather have marked the departure of humans from the ecosystem, at least partially. Human technological development is a step backward, like when humans get cancer and it spreads all over their bodies and often causes such disruption as to kill the system. Imagine that. We took the fork in the road that leads to such rapid and toxic evolution and growth that massive extinction and alteration of the biosphere will be the result. Technology won’t replace the pyramid of life that concentrates biomass into bite-size chunks of food for us, but temporarily it can create irresistible rewards. We’re a package of cells moving relentlessly from one resource gradient to the next brandishing new tools on-the-fly to degrade everything we come in contact with, but building magnificent malignant cells and distribution systems along the way. Magnificent!
Apparently and in accordance with the Holy Book of Thermodynamics, there is no
“reason” to live except to seek rewards and that is what we will do to the best of our technological and personal abilities until the very end. Humans can not be expected to not seek rewards, even though their self-satisfying behaviors in sum total are suicidal. Neither my writing nor any other writing will retard destiny in progress. Hope you get some of whatever you seek right up until the very end, before its too late – perhaps it’s already too late (see rat above).
Professor John Gabrieli (MIT) explains how humans lose the ability to consider bad news as they grow older. Also note that they are unlikely to seek new information. The entire video is worth watching but most interesting part begins at 40:35. Older people ignore bad news and have a relative positivity bias.
Sensory organs and brain (ganglia) function in tandem to move mobile organisms towards positive stimuli and away from negative stimuli. In the evolutionary past this was accomplished subconsciously based upon hardwiring and limited learning. The human cerebral cortex is a neurological amplification of the simple environmental surveying and reward seeking circuits possessed by more simple animals. Instead of simple stimulus-response circuits, the environmental stimulus is mapped into a fluid neural representation of the world, or network, before appropriate movement or behavior, if any, is promoted. With an expanded prefrontal cortex, substantial planning of movement towards goals or rewards can be rehearsed before actual movement commences. During a work week a human may have to perform many preplanned movements to arrive at the reward at the end of the week. Waking up, taking a shower, getting the kids ready for school, filling the car with gas, driving to work, performing all of the variable movements at work, socially grooming the boss and co-workers and so on, just to arrive at a paycheck at the end of the week. The paycheck is not the ultimate reward, but rather what the paycheck can purchase is the reward. The cerebral cortex can be thought of as a massive elaboration of more simple circuits and ganglia, capable of maintaining a complex representation of the world into which environmental data is fed and processed prior to bodily movement.
Even though deficient in calculating probabilities, the human brain moves millions towards ticket outlets in search of mind-boggling lottery rewards or it can motivate a student to pursue good grades to achieve a degree and well-compensated employment. All movement requires energy and resources and ultimately, in sum total, all movement must be rewarded. Humans and other mobile organisms are on a tight leash to perform only those movements that are rewarding. If behavior and movement do not result in energy acquisition, then starvation and death occurs. Perhaps this is one reason we are so unconcerned with our impact upon the environment, our brains are preoccupied with producing movements that result in reward.
Even today the theory of evolution cannot provide the “comfort” afforded by other explanations of our origins. The very presence of “high school” proves the theory of evolution even though the humans above resist the teaching of “evolution” in their high schools. Picture taken at the time of the Scopes Monkey Trial.
Brain real estate is limited and always has been. The neural tissues must be fed and fed richly. Those functions and abilities that contribute most to survival are therefore more fully represented. Only recently in human evolution has language been given greater increments of neural space even as a rapidly expanding brain and skull struggles to exit the birth canal. Prior to our technological emergence, it is reasonable to believe that greater percentages of neural tissue were more fully dedicated to functions other than language, writing and scientific reasoning. Relic brain functions have been conserved even as humans have transitioned to RNA-like functionality.
It is as easy as observing how most humans spend their time to determine the evolved nature of the brain. Even though the brain has evolved to allow a nascent technological emergence, the old behaviors, those expected to arise in a tribe of social apes, are still extant and dominant. Our preoccupation with competitive hierarchy, sports (tribal warfare), gossip, good vs. evil, religion, Facebook socializing, entertainment, politics and emotions, feelings and the unending quest for “happiness” bespeaks an ape whose brain has changed just enough to move it from under the trees on the savannah into technological cells while retaining most of the social behaviors evolved in the past.
Even though the typical human wakes up and must report to a cell for work, they are also occupied with who did what to whom, gossip of all sorts, the presidential race, God, what is good and what is evil, how they will climb in the tribal hierarchy and obtain rewards, and who won the game last night. Then it’s off to work to go through the motions that technological society demands, especially in its competition with other technological societies. The typical human is running on automatic and has no idea how they came to be except to say that God made them that way. They have no idea why they have to spend so much time in school, why they have to learn to read and write, nor why they typically have to spend most of their lives within four walls going through some well-defined set of motions. Some people become rich by determining the behavioral tendencies of humans, setting up technological production facilities (cells) and then making product available. If the opioid triggers are released, or if a mass marketer can instill the idea that product consumption will release great pleasure, then the dopamine shall flow and the human shall move towards the product and purchase it, providing a nice profit for the business. All production is not glitzy and about human desire. Some is about infrastructure, the nuts and bolts of putting together distribution systems and cells. But in the end, it is the old behaviors which must be fed.
Humans are mostly unaware that using technology to eat and despoil the biosphere is necessarily a bad thing, especially since they are trapped within an evolved mental cocoon more suited to jungle tribal life than technological existence, where their attentions are constantly upon those things their brains are evolved to notice (Facebook Twitter, office politics, presidential politics, religion, gossip, sports (how did our warriors do against theirs). The MSM simply panders to human behavioral/attention proclivities to gain as much profit as possible even though their “attention” should be focused upon things of real importance, like the collapse of their feeble cancerous civilization. Since most humans are still not awake and have nearly accomplished the destruction of their environment, it is unlikely that they will ever be awake. Instead they will fall back into their default mode, fight over a “fair” share of resources, gossip, play politics, believe in Gods, go to war with neighboring tribes, think very little and seek any reward the environment still offers.
The rollercoaster isn’t going to stop back under the tree in the savannah but rather somewhere in isotope fission wonderland. Everyone off, the ride is over.