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SinceYouAsked

We all have many opinions that no one really cares about.
In this place ecord ideas and opinions that no one will ever ask me for. But Since You Asked

There are a lot thing happening now (in Spring of 2007) that lead me to think about something I call the FungibleYou.


The first batch of things I entered here seem to be grouped together so I moved them to a page I call RandomThoughts.

Related to RandomThoughts is ChanceAndNihilism.

I'm starting a new topic to collect my thoughts on WhyStories are better than facts.

One of my FavoRite? examples comes from a response to the Edge's question of the year. The question is:
"WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS TRUE EVEN THOUGH YOU CANNOT PROVE IT?"


I am particularly taken by Freeman Dyson's answer: it never happens that the reverse of a power of two is a power of five. His discussion is very interesting and enlightening about how a mathematician thinks about stuff and you should read it. But my first reaction is: how wonderful to have beliefs about such things and aren't I glad Edge asked him the question.


Sort of a different strand from the whole randomness thing
In Sri Lanka a budhist monk had the following to say about the tsunam as quoted in a Salon Aritcle:
"You can read a thousand books," the monk in Kandy told the assembled crowd, "but if you don't apply them to your life, you haven't learned anything. In the same way, if mankind ignores nature, and the language of nature, we will always be caught unawares. The sea warned us when it pulled away from the shore; many people treated it like a curiosity. Many who were warned thought it was a joke. Those who understood, survived. Those who didn't, perished."
When you read something like this it is easy to be fooled into thinking that "the universe wants to teach us something" as opposed to "there are lessons we must learn from the universe". Note, It would surprise me if a Buddhist monk made this error. Aside from the anthropomorphism, there is also a tempation to beleive that we need to teach the universe/our fellow beings; sometimes, teach them a thing or two. I would rather live life in a way that will offer lessons back to the universe and my fellows.

Another Freeman Dyson connection. In the March 2005 issue of MIT Technology,
Dyson has a piece The Darwian Interlude where he dicusses the indication for genetic research that very early life (pre-single celled organiss) exchanged genetic material horizontally (between arbitrary individual things) then cell walls occured and genetic exchange only happened through reproduction. Following that the development of multicelluar organisms and sex led to the "Darwinian Interlude" in which species occured and change mostly occurred through the replacement of one species by another. Then, a few tens of thousand years ago, we get brains and Homo Sapian becomes the dominant species and evolution effectively ends as the main engine of change in life. That leads to the question since we are in fact the authors of environmental/biological change should we set up to the challenge and becomes the designers of life? Dyson states that: cultural evolution is better than biological evolution. And that: "Designing genomes will be a new art form, as creative as painting or sculpture."

The comparison of a genome to a painting or sculpture is interesting; what if sculptures ate each other or paintings could reproduce? If we do start designing genomes (and it would surprise me if that day didn't come), we won't designing individual critters but we will be fundamentally changing the life works at least on this planet. It will indeed be a return to the pre-Darwinian Interlude where genetic material is swapped horizontally and you expect change to be random (like fashions) and undirected. I wonder then what will be the equivalent of "cell walls". We know that genes are successfull to the extent they can reproduce themselves; at some point we can expect a "successful" gene to protect itself from the randomness of the genetic swap meet and set the stage for another evolutionary interlude.

Created by steve. Last Modification: Sunday 22 of April, 2007 21:07:16 UTC by steve.