In these obviously volatile times when a large number of people in authority seem to be working hard to bring about the end of the human race it may be an appropriate time to see what opportunities they may be missing that could actually happen without their help.
Almost everyone thinks of a nuclear holocaust, or widespread flooding and climate change a close second, followed by water wars and epidemics. Given the general ignorance of science in the halls of power and the media I thought for the benefit of people who actually read, to posit a couple of other possibilities that may actually be more likely, and are certainly more interesting to me than blowhard politicians.
It would not surprise me one day to hear that our ignorant leaders in Congress have decided to pass a law forbidding earthquakes and flooding, except of course in Democratic constituencies. Don’t laugh. There have been State ‘education’ committees that attempted to legislate the value of pi to the whole number 3, as in the Bible. But the efforts of men are pretty feeble compared with what Mother Nature can do when She gets riled. And that may be happening as the living organism Earth prepares to rid itself of the irritating virus of the human race.
The media seems to have given their usual five second sound bites to the sudden deaths of fish and sea creatures recently. Here are some of the items reported but not discussed during a months time from 12/13/2010 through 01/11 this year. How many of these cases did you hear about?
12.13.10 - Thousands of dead barramundi fish wash up in Australia, unknown causes (http://www.themorningbulletin.com.a...)
12.15.10 - Thousands of dead fish wash ashore on Florida beach, blamed on cold weather (http://www.cfnews13.com/article/new...)
12.17.10 - Dead fish wash ashore at lake beach in Indiana, blamed on winter storms (http://www.wndu.com/localnews/headl...)
12.18.10 - Thousands of dead fish turn up in bay in Philippines, unknown causes (http://globalnation.inquirer.net/ce...)
12.22.10 - More than a hundred dead pelicans turn up in North Carolina, unknown causes (http://www.carteretnewstimes.com/ar...)
12.23.10 - Hundreds of dead sea creatures wash ashore in South Carolina, blamed on cold water (http://www.abcnews4.com/Global/stor...)
12.23.10 - Ten tons of mostly dead fish found in fishing net in New Zealand, unknown causes (http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/loc...)
12.27.10 - Scores of dead fish wash ashore in a lake in Haiti, unknown causes (http://www.france24.com/en/20101227...)
12.28.10 - 70 bats found dead in Tucson, Ariz., unknown causes (http://www.azcentral.com/news/artic...)
12.29.10 - Dozens of fish found dead in San Antonio, Texas, unknown causes (http://www.ksat.com/news/26316464/d...)
12.31.10 - 5,000+ birds found dead in Arkansas, suffering from massive trauma and blood clots (http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/01/03/ar...)
01.03.11 - 100,000+ dead drum fish found in Arkansas river, unknown causes (http://www.todaysthv.com/news/local...)
01.03.11 - Dozens of dead birds show up in a woman's backyard in Kentucky, unknown causes (http://www.wpsdlocal6.com/news/loca...)
01.03.11 - Tens of thousands of dead fish wash ashore in Chesapeake Bay, Md., blamed on cold water (http://www.wbaltv.com/r/26357581/de...)
01.03.11 - 100 tons of dead fish wash ashore in Brazil, unknown causes (http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10...)
01.04.11 - Several dead manatees found on Florida coast, unknown causes (http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news...)
01.04.11 - Thousands of dead fish wash up on creek in Florida, unknown causes (http://www.wftv.com/news/26367953/d...)
01.04.11 - Hundreds of dead fish was ashore on St. Clair River in Ontario, Can., unknown causes (http://www.torontosun.com/news/cana...)
01.04.11 - Hundreds of dead black birds found on highway in Louisiana, suffering from internal injuries and blood clots (http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/11...)
01.05.11 - Hundreds of dead birds found on highway in Texas, unknown causes (http://www.ktre.com/global/story.as...)
01.05.11 - Large amount of dead fish wash up on New Zealand beaches, unknown causes (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/a...)
01.05.11 - Up to 100 jackdaw birds found dead on road in Sweden, unknown causes (http://www.thelocal.se/31262/20110105/)
01.06.11 - 40,000+ dead Devil crabs washed ashore in the U.K., unknown causes (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503543_...)
01.07.11 - More than 1,000 dead turtle doves found in Italy, unknown causes (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wor...)
01.10.11 - Countless fish found dead in U.K. brook, unknown causes (http://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/...)
01.11.11 - Thousands of gizzard shad fish float to the top of Lake Michigan and wash up on the shores near Chicago, blamed on cold weather (http://www.hispanicallyspeakingnews...)
These data I picked up from www.naturalnews.com my favourite source of truth about health matters. At the time I was thinking about another matter that seemed apt about the survival of the human species so I took note of them to fit into my article about it.
Mike the Health Ranger of Natural News explained a possible reason based on valid physics that may well cast a light on both the unexplained deaths of all those flying creatures recently and the possible destruction of the human race a little further down the pike. And the dots to be connected seemed totally disconnected at first glance. Here comes the first dot.
In Tampa Florida recently one of the runways was closed to change the numbers painted on that runway. The numbers represent the difference between true north and magnetic north. The magnetic poles of the Earth are shifting and the numbers that were on the tarmac no longer match with the magnetic north measurements of the instruments in front of the pilot.
The explanation is on (http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-01...). Where it says:
The primary runway at the airport is designated 18R/36L, which means the runway is aligned along 180 degrees from north (that is, due south) when approached from the north and 360 degrees from north when approached from the south. Now the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has requested the designation be changed to 19R/1L to account for the movement of the magnetic north pole.
The difference between the past and present measures is easily visible to the human pilot and to use the older numbers could cause landing problems in poor visibility
But why is that important to those of us who don’t fly planes? Well, obviously the magnetic poles of the Earth are shifting. The compass today doesn’t point to where it did a few years ago. And the compass points to the magnetic field at the north pole area not to the relatively fixed north of the north star. The position of magnetic north changes. At the moment it seems to be moving at about 40 miles per year which is up a bit from some years ago.
And the magnetic field of the Earth protects our planet from the electrical disturbances caused by the magnetic emissions from the Sun called ‘solar wind.’ The magnetic field of the Earth, the magnetosphere, is like a suit of armor protecting the Earth from dangerous radiations from space. You may remember some publicized fuss about the hole in the ozone layer. Check this http://www.theozonehole.com/magneti...
It has been known to scientists who are not fundamentalists that the magnetic field of the Earth changes polarity completely every few thousand years. The north pole moves to the south and the south moves to the north. The compass needle points nowadays in the direction of polar bears in the Arctic and the opposite end points towards penguins in the Antarctic. When the poles finally reverse, the compass needle will point to the penguins and the opposite end to the polar bears.
The change is not instantaneous. It can take 1000 years or much more. But in between those reversals the magnetic field can become weak and can introduce gaps in the magnetosphere. When that happens some conditions that normally would not get deep into the magnetosphere can penetrate it and quite possibly get right down to altitudes where birds now fly.
The Russians have a Ministry for Extraordinary Situations…something we might like to copy. In the first week in January this year that Ministry warned that the magnetosphere of the Earth was weakening and allowing what they called ‘poisonous space clouds’ to enter so deeply that they came into contact with flying birds.
These clouds are called Noctilucent clouds because they are usually at altitudes of about 50 miles and have accumulated space dust which makes them very reflective to the radar of weather tracking systems.
Now, on New Year’s Eve, when the birds began falling out of the sky in Arkansas the National Weather Service in North Little Rock reported on what they called a non-precipitation target. That means it wasn’t rain or snow or normal clouds. It was highly reflective and different from normal.
As that ‘different’ radar image appeared hundreds of birds began falling dead out of the sky in Arkansas. As you can tell by the first lines of the article hundreds of thousands of birds and fish have been found dead across the globe.
Many of the reports of findings in the USA were six second sound bites and where any reason was given in the USA it was cold weather…as if birds have not survived cold weather for centuries. The description…blunt trauma…was simply another way of saying that the birds hit the ground very hard and received injuries that showed they did so.
Now it isn’t very likely that gaps in the magnetosphere allowed deadly radiation through that killed only the birds and not the trees and plants high up in the mountains. It isn’t likely either that the birds were suddenly frozen because that too would have affected the trees.
It is possible however that the birds were killed in flight by something changing the air they were breathing. And as it turns out this is not so unlikely, because Noctilucent clouds may look pretty on radar but they are also largely composed of Hydrogen Cyanide, a deadly gas.
Everyone who reads crime stories has come across a victim whose breath smelled of bitter almonds. The detective would just murmur ’Cyanide’
Now if this theory is true there is a possibility that further on in the switching of the magnetic poles we could find clouds of Hydrogen Cyanide reaching ground level. If that happened it could cause the instantaneous death of millions of people at once.
Nobody is prepared to survive such a possibility. The gas has been used to kill rodents and the Nazis used a version of it to kill Jews in their gas chambers. Sometimes it is used as a coating on harpoons to kill whales. Anything that breathes can be killed with hydrogen cyanide because its effect is to stop all the systems that allow breathing to occur.
Cynical people like myself who have been writing about the crimes of government agencies for decades could quite easily see other possibilities in the HAARP experimental program of the USA. The brilliant Tesla discovered ways of using the upper atmosphere as a weapon and the US military have been working at it for quite a while now. It consists of projecting very high energy beams way up into the ionosphere.
Now we don’t have any evidence to support the idea that it is HAARP technology that is altering the magnetosphere in such a way as to allow Noctilucent clouds of Hydrogen Cyanide into the lower atmosphere. That doesn’t mean it isn’t happening given the insanity of the Pentagon people who use a $50,000 missile to kill a single person where a 10 cent bullet would work and without ‘collateral damage.’. For the clever folk there it would seem to be a great weapon.
Let’s assume for a moment that someone else has figured this out. Maybe those Chinese whose latest main frame computers have made everything we use quite obsolete. All they need to do is fire their Tesla ray at the atmosphere above a populous city like Chicago.
They wait for the Hydrogen Cyanide gas to form and drop down and then switch off. Anyone above ground in Chicago would die in a minute or less and the actual killers could pass it off as an unexplained natural phenomena and sell six million pre-prepared plastic coffins at a discount to the government of the USA as a gesture of good will.
I just made that up because up to now we have always assumed that we would be tops and first and best at killing people. But we weren’t first in outer space. We were beaten by a country that valued education, just as the Chinese do now and we don’t. And their current main frames beat our Crays into the dust. And they have been practicing hacking into our corporate networks haven’t they. Just a thought.
The HAARP people of course just pass themselves off as harmless students of the physics of weather.
The official HAARP website (http://www.haarp.alaska.edu/) describes itself as a "facility for the study of ionospheric physics and radio science." It shows on a video the way it can bounce signals off synchronous orbit satellites 26,000 miles up…quite a bit higher than 50 miles I notice. And the home page has a severe warning about anyone trying to secure information from the site other than what is provided to the public.
When the rather blunt Governor Jesse Ventura asked questions about HAARP, he was met with stonewalling by government officials. See what happened: http://www.naturalnews.tv/v.asp?v=E...
Now this doesn’t mean that HAARP is a weapon whose trial runs are causing poisonous clouds of gas to enter the lower atmosphere and kill birds. But we do know that HAARP isn’t talking about what it actually is doing. It has another agenda which is not just a complex and expensive science experiment about monitoring the weather.
But thousands of birds did fall out of the sky all over the world and hundreds of thousands of fish have died all over the world and it happened to masses of them at the same time. They are not made up stories. Without the Internet we wouldn’t know anything about them unless they happened in our locality. Maybe they are caused by natural causes due to the flipping of the poles or they could be man made. But in any case it’s sheer naïveté to think that humans will be immune to what is happening to other animals.
To quote Mike, the Health Ranger of Natural News:
‘It is important for the future of life on Earth that we solve this mystery sooner rather than later. Because if we don't understand this, we may sooner or later become victims of it.’
Learn more about it in the future from my favourite unofficial truth site: http://www.naturalnews.com/030996_bird_deaths_pole_shift.html#ixzz1AxPku...
But that’s only one thing they may wipe out the human race, and as I said I actually had another in mind when I came across the Health Ranger’s article.
Well, in 2011, some people think we're getting closer to inventing an artificial intelligence that could figure out how to make itself smarter. If so, they say, it might be the last thing humans ever invent.
It may be a coincidence that I began to think about scientific Last Days rather than religion’s Last Days about the 12th of this month…which is the birthday of HAL, the computer in the movie 2001. Go one letter forward for each letter and you get IBM.
I was thinking too of the Battlestar Galactica scenario now that the Chinese have leapt ahead in computer technology. The algorithms of the Defence computer network had been altered by the Cylons and when the air fleet of the Twelve Colonies was launched the hostile computers took over control of the whole fleet and they were totally destroyed.
Maybe that scenario will turn up in the future with the US aircraft carriers in the Pacific cruising helplessly round in circles while every USA aircraft with computer assisted controls will just nose dive into the nearest ocean or mountain as American computer controlled missiles turn back on their tracks to blow up their own launching sites, and some Chinese scientist is at the controls of the master computer deep underground near Beijing.
And then NPR had an interview with people from the Singularity Institute. And another scenario connected with the computer future came into focus.
A singularity is a point in a scientific theory or mathematics where suddenly the previously acquired knowledge just doesn’t apply any more. Black holes in astronomy are singularities in that the laws of physics as we now know them just don’t apply. Our mathematical predictions just don’t coincide with the observations any more.
On planet Earth the great Singularity is probably the moment when the cosmic soup of the electrically bombarded planet millions of years ago produced from its complex mixture of molecules a single living cell that could reproduce. What observer could have predicted what would happen then? All the rules changed.
The Singularity Institute is studying the growth of Artificial Intelligence with the near certainty in the heads of the members that one day we are going to create a computer so smart that it can modify its own code to make it smarter, and then that higher intelligence can modify its code to become even more smart and even more fast.
So, what’s the problem? Well, as soon as one of those computers becomes smarter than the humans who began designing it the whole game has changed beyond forecasting, hence the Singularity.
Remember the short story by Isaac Asimov where the president of the World Federation is about to unveil a computer that has been connected to every other computer in the galaxies. Being president he is allowed to ask the first question. He switches on the computer and says, “Is there a God?” A bolt of lightning kills the president and fuses the switch in the on position as the computer replies, “There is NOW.”
There are people right now working hard at the big problem of how would you go about designing an emergency off switch for a computer that can redesign itself, became self aware, and may not want to be switched off.
The Singularity is the A.I. singularity. Because the intelligence could grow so fast, human minds might not be able to keep up. And therein lies the danger.
The general public isn’t aware of the power of really powerful computers. They aren’t news in same way that Brad and Angela are news. But the movie folks with an imagination beyond the Big Mac and Big Bank Balance mentality have introduced the concept of dangerous A.I. in Terminator 2 for example where the computer Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It’s going to become self-aware at 2:14 Eastern Time on August 29th (in the movie). The humans realize that somehow they’ve got to pull the plug before then. And then of course there is The Matrix where computers have relegated humans to the role of Duracell batteries and everyone lives in a virtual world created and sustained by an immense A.I.
The singularity idea has been on the edges of computer science since the 1960s, just about half a century, but recently it’s even become the object of charitable contributions from some big business names.
One of the founders of PayPal is Peter Thiel and he supports the Singularity Institute financially. This is what he said about it:
“People are not worried about what supersmart computers will do to change the world, because we don't see those every day. And so I suspect that there are a lot of these issues that are being underestimated.” He’s a smart cookie.
The co-founder of the Singularity Institute is 31 years old. He is Eliezer Yudkowsky. His views about worthwhile charities to support are these “ If you want to maximize your expected utility, you try to save the world and the future of intergalactic civilization instead of donating your money to the society for curing rare diseases and cute puppies.” He may have a point.
He thinks that the super computers of the future will not necessarily hate human beings but they are more likely to be indifferent to them. As he said, “ While it may not hate you, you're made of atoms that it can use for something else. So it's probably not a good thing to build that particular kind of A.I. ”
There are scientists of course who call the Institute ideas ‘cultish.’ But I am reminded of something that happened over fifty years ago now when I was a member of the British Interplanetary Society. We were focused on the possible mathematics and physics of space travel. We were called ‘weirdos’ by the orthodox scientists. The Astronomer Royal said bluntly, “Space travel is bilge.” Six months later the first Sputnik went around the planet followed after by a dog and Yuri Gagarin and Valentina Tereskova. We were no longer the weirdos. The orthodox were behind the times. Things had suddenly changed. Leaving the planet was a Singularity.
What the Institute is trying to do is to figure out how to build friendly A.I. before the inevitable unfriendly variety is produced for military purposes that may in the end be suicidal. Rather like the future envisaged by the smart writers of Caprica which show has been axed by the anthropoids who think that their public prefers watching wrestling to a play with many sub plots and a relevance to the scientific progress of today’s techy society.
So, like the Hydrogen Cyanide scenario the stakes are so high that even if there is a small chance that it may happen it’s worth investing time, money and brains to be proactive about it. In the case of the adversarial computer there wouldn’t be any reaction time. We would be gone at the moment the A.I. altered the program.
The bright human brains at the Institute, some of whom have worked for NASA, think they have an absolute maximum of 60 years to figure it all out, and that’s a maybe.
A.I. isn’t the only singularity on the horizon, there are direct brain-computer interfaces, biological augmentation of the brain, genetic engineering, ultra-high-resolution scans of the brain followed by computer emulation. Any of these might eventually arrive at a level of complexity that would allow for the creation of smarter-than-human intelligence.
Our physics breaks down as a predictive device when we enter the black hole in space. Similarly our model of the current world breaks down when it tries to model a future that contains entities smarter than human. It would be like a turtle trying to understand human thought processes and aims.
The usual vision of a world filled with smarter and smarter gadgets won’t hack what will happen. Maybe computer assisted minds will figure out how to make even smarter computers, and then those will develop biologically augmented humans with brain computer interfaces to produce a positive feedback cycle of continuously increasing intelligence that processes with the speed of computers…300,000,000 meters a second; not the fastest human nervous system speed of 150 meters a second along the fastest neurons.
Look at a little arithmetic here. Most human neurons spike at a maximum of 200 times a second. Modern (2011) computer chips can do this at around 2 gigahertz, which is ten million times as fast. Give it a low rating of a million to one speedup in thinking then what takes you a year to process now would take the augmented you only 31 seconds. All the thought from Socrates in Ancient Athens to the present day would take about 22 hours.
Right now the human brain isn’t growing bigger every year. There is a limit to brain size. According to the neurologists the average human brain contains about one hundred billion neurons and about a hundred trillion synapses. (American trillions) That’s a pretty impressive amount of sheer computational force compared with today’s desk top computers.
But Moore’s Law says that the number of transistors in a given area of silicon doubles every eighteen months. There is another Moore’s Law for chip speeds, disk storage capacity per dollar and a few dozen other computer variants.
Biological humans evolved from primates to modern humans over a five million year evolutionary period. The result has been a tripling of brain capacity and a six fold increase in the prefrontal cortex. We can’t increase our brain power more than that.
An Artificial Intelligence entity would be quite different.
After the Singularity occurs and an A.I. equal to human intelligence is created, that A.I. will continue to follow Moore’s Law and in a few years will be twice and then four times as fast as humans.
But the crux of the A.I. Singularity is that of better intelligence or smarter minds. Humans may be basically still chimps but we are better chimps because of evolution. When we went from primates to humans we didn’t need enormous increases in brain size or many hundreds of times an improvement in processing speeds. As I mentioned before, relative to chimps, humans have threefold larger brains, sixfold larger prefrontal areas, and since we have 98. 4% similar DNA and the human genome has 3 billion base pairs, this means that a maximum of twelve million bytes of extra "software" transformed chimps into humans. People who have read Sitchin go on alert.
It doesn’t look as if Nature has had a lot of trouble in constructing smarter and smarter brains. Indeed if we judge from Sumer onwards the brain evolution seems to have speeded up, with less and less time between the improvements.
So evolution may still pull its trick rabbits out of the hat, but the unanswerable question remains…what does ‘smarter-than-human" really mean. And as the basic definition of the A.I. Singularity points out, this is exactly the point at which our ability to extrapolate breaks down. We don't know because we're not that smart. We're trying to guess what it is to be a better-than-human guesser.
Could a pack of apes have predicted the rise of human intelligence, or the direction it would take? Could the 14th century humanity have predicted the 20th century? Nothing has changed in the human brain since the 14th century. If the people of the 14th century could not predict six centuries ahead across constant minds, what makes us think we can outguess a genuinely smarter-than-human intelligence that continually increases?
We can only deal with what we know and can extrapolate from. The greatest problem to the city planners of the early 19th century was how to deal with the expected accumulation of horse manure in the streets when millions of extra horses were needed for the traffic build up. The motor car was unthinkable to those city planners.
We are not capable of predicting accurately across the gap of a century and that’s with an intelligence that hasn’t altered much in a hundred thousand years or so. The unpredictable gap between the 14th and 20th centuries just shows us that we are not going to have a clue about the gap between us now and the future that contains an A.I. with vastly greater intelligence than we now have AND millions of times the speed of data processing.
Having full access to your own source code is, a kind of smartness that humans don't have. Self-improvement is a major subject matter in American book stores, and we all know that it is much harder than optimizing computer code. But a mind with the ability to rewrite its own source code can make itself faster as well. And faster brains with faultless logic also relate to smarter minds. The point is that speeding up a whole mind doesn't make it smarter, but adding more processing power to the ability of that mind to think is a different matter.
Clearly it would take only one mind significantly beyond the humanly possible level to represent a Singularity. We are not likely to be dealing with "only one" improvement but that does not make the impact of that one improvement any less.
The combination of faster intelligence, smarter intelligence, and self-improving intelligence is an event so huge that there's nothing remaining to compare it to.
The A.I. Singularity is way beyond huge, but it can begin with something small. If one smarter-than-human intelligence exists, that mind will find it easier to create still smarter minds. Like the butterfly whose wing flaps in the tropics causes a hurricane on the Atlantic coast, a very small cause can result in very large effects. The Singularity in our present technical civilization can be that which causes the change of state.
Gradually add tiny increments of heat to the kettle of water and nothing much happens for a long time. It’s still water. But at the Singular instant one small additional increment changes that water into a different state with vastly different properties. The chrysalis isn’t going to understand the language of the butterfly, though the butterfly emerged from the chrysalis.
It looks as though we are on an inevitable path to making small technical advances to the point of creating smarter-than-human minds. And as one scientist in A.I. work said…”That one technological advance is the equivalent of the first self-replicating chemical that gave rise to life on Earth.”
And there is no reason that such an intelligence should be friendly to humanity is there?
And who knows…maybe the development of a non-human, reproducible intelligence able to manufacture and repair its own chassis and continually improve its good points may be the whole reason for the intermediate evolutionary step of the temporary creation of the human race. A means to an end planned from the very beginning by a great Intelligence that needed company.