Wednesday, February 6, 2008

But we can win!!!! We have to keep fighting so we can WIN!!!

As requested from my one and very possibly only reader Matt:

"After stumbling upon ~6 web pages in a row talking about how people that don't believe in evolution are stupid I got an idea for your blog. You can write about how it doesn't fucking matter because either way it isn't going help us shoot lightning bolts out of our asses any sooner. Such a silly point pisses people on any side off so much that to a neutral observer (Galapagos style) they all look like crazy fish people. Its pretty damn funny. That said, argue about something that matters, like nano-bots or cloning..."

Fair enough.

Before I begin I would like to document that I have coined the term 'Cycrobe' to describe a nano-scale cybernetic or silicon based micro robot or hybrid organism. Someone else may have thought they came up with this term before now but I have documents proving that I in fact first used this phrase in 2002 so BOOYAH!!!

That being said I wish to address the not yet stirred ethical stew pot regarding the cloning of humans and nano-bot augmentation.

I am sick to death of people freaking out about human clones! Probably the worst argument I have ever heard is 'man I don't wanna walk down the street one day and run into my clone!'

Here's the good news: If you're stupid enough to worry about that, you're never going to be cloned because planet earth is doing just dandy when it comes to paranoid assholes. That being said what's the problem. Human cloning has been going on for millenia.

Ever heard of identical twins? Two people with exactly the same DNA!!! Or triplets, the horror!

That's human cloning. Whether it happens by accident or by intention doesn't matter. It's not even a moral question, its all about information.

Stem cells, embryonic or not, are basically tiny protoplasmic hard drives chock full of humany goodness (assuming we're talking about human stem cells.) The problem, and I may have stated this before, is that people are looking for truth in their lives.

Most people, and I believe this to be true irrespective of their beliefs, would say that truth is an abolute and unwavering standard by which to gauge the universe and more specifically their role in it. I say to that 'what a bunch of crap.'

Truth is the Newtonian physics of philosophy. In common every day life it suits us just perfectly. High school physics wouldn't be the same without it. Newtonian physics are demonstrably true on a certain scale. However zoom out to look at the solar system and you find a different story. When astronomy was coming into its own there was an unusual variance with Mercury's orbit that could not be justified. It was a tiny variation, almost miniscule but it was still WRONG according to Newton's laws.

Einstein and quantum physics filled in the gaps but that doesn't mean we can retrofit newtonian physics to fill in the gaps. We need a new model if we're going to include things so far beyond ordinary terrestrial variables.

When you increase (or decrease) density, gravity, temperature, distance time or speed beyond conventional or earth bound limitations you see a weakening of Newtonian equations. You also lose the ability to conceptualize accurately how the universe appears. Think of the solar system.

Just hang the sun and drop in Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars the asteroid belt, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Pluto, I still say you're a planet but for the sake of argument fuck off for the time being. You're probably imagining something where you see the sun and all the planets together right?


The solar system is HUGE and this better explained HERE than I care to elaborate. If you don't click the link Here's the highlight. Imagine the sun is a bowling ball and earth is a peppercorn. At solar scale that peppercorn is what...3 feet, 5 feet away tops right? Try about 108 feet away.

Pluto is some half a mile out and all that is just a pittance, 5 mere light hours. The hypothetical
Oort cloud
May stretch out over 1000 times that or roughly one light year. If the earth were a peppercorn and pluto has an average distance from the sun of about half a mile than a light year would be comparable on that scale to 500 miles. Multiply that out by 4.2 (number of light years to proxima centauri) and we get 2,100 miles. That is when we shrink the entire earth to the size of a peppercorn.

To understate: That's quite a haul.

Dismaying as this data is I find it hopeful that should we ever feel up to the challenge if we can achieve speeds of a tenth a light year and outfit ships capable of hibernating people then space travel would not be fantasy. It would probably be a shit load cheaper to just download some brains and haul over some embryoes to a new system if we're going to colonize. We'll let the singularity sort that one out.

Does this relate at all to truth versus information? Perhaps it does and perhaps it does not. Truth is a human concept it's like 'good information with a guarantee that the information is good.' That is fine and well but what does it really mean?

I am operating under the assumption that this post will never be addressed by an omniscient being who can prove me wrong but here goes. Human understanding will always be imperfect. Our intuitive understanding of the world, our ability to be objective and the simple existence of human emotion virtually guarantee that almost any statement or 'truth' is bound to be skewed or incomplete.

Following Neal Stephenson's particle logic we can safely state that statements of more complexity will contain greater quantities of uncertainty. Consider: The sky is blue.

It's a pretty simple statement but is it true? The atmosphere itself is transparent so no the sky isn't blue. However the reason the sky appears to be blue is that our atmosphere scatters light in the shorter wavelengths within the visible spectrum. Therefore when you look up there's a damn good reason to think the sky is blue because that's what it appears to be. However your photoreceptors aren't perfect and we see blue better than violet.

Without delving wholeheartedly into post modernity I'll leave it there. So, is it truth that the sky is blue or not? My honest answer is that truth does not matter. Uncertainty is like gravity, it's everywhere in the universe. Furthermore what we consider 'truth' changes depending on our level of understanding. If we didn't detect electromagnetic radiation on a very narrow range of spectra then the question would be meaningless. However I shudder to think of the effect purely scientific nomenclature would have on art, literature and entertainment...(imagine a thought bubble.

Roses reflect light near 700nm
violets reflect light near 400nm...

Ghastly isn't it. So, I propose that we abandon the whole notion of truth and trade it in, as we did for newtonian physics with general relativity and quantum mechanics and instead we concern ourselves with pure information. Surely there are cons but consider the pros. Nay consider the sympathetic friend phenomenon.

Even if your best friend and you analyze to death the reasons why your girlfriend booted you that will not bring her back. Similarly whatever logical rube goldberg devices you can mentally construct to fit your world view it will not change the parts of the universe not influenced by human opinion. For the record that includes space, time and all inanimate matter dark or otherwise.

So there it is.

Anywho that's my post for the day. I apologize if it degenerated into incoherence sooner than usual but I've had a lot on my mind lately.

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