Answering two of the great philosophical questions Tuesday, Aug 4 2020 

Being retired from the business world, I have time to just sit back and muse, especially about things of which I have zero knowledge. Do you ever do that? Just lay back, watch the clouds, and imagine things?

It’s both a relaxing and stimulating inactivity, both rewarding and yet unproductive.

In that vein, today, I saw the following article:Bacterial Nomenclature 101 and How to Describe a New Species ...

SCIENTISTS REVIVE 100-MILLION-YEAR-OLD LIFEFORMS

Researchers from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology dug up chunks of clay from 70 meters beneath the ocean floor.

They injected it with sugar and ammonia and, to their surprise, Ars Technica reports that colonies of bacteria quickly chowed down on the meal.

It’s a bizarre discovery, and one that suggests that organisms can survive more inhospitable environments than scientists thought.

It reminded me of two great philosophical questions:

  1. What is consciousness?
  2. What is life?

They have been debated by philosophers and other scientists for centuries.

Usually, the answers are self-referential in that they assume some circular form of, “Consciousness is awareness.” Or, “Life is what life does.”

For example, here is a definition of “consciousness” from Wikipedia:

Consciousness at its simplest is “sentience or awareness of internal or external existence”.

Despite centuries of analyses, definitions, explanations and debates by philosophers and scientists, consciousness remains puzzling and controversial, being “at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives”.

Perhaps the only widely agreed notion about the topic is the intuition that it exists.

Opinions differ about what exactly needs to be studied and explained as consciousness. Sometimes it is synonymous with ‘the mind’, other times just an aspect of mind.

In the past, it was one’s “inner life”, the world of introspection, of private thought, imagination, and volition.

Today, with modern research into the brain it often includes any kind of experience, cognition, feeling, or perception.

It may be ‘awareness’, or ‘awareness of awareness’, or self-awareness. There might be different levels or orders of consciousness, or different kinds of consciousness, or just one kind with different features.

In short, no one knows; everyone thinks they know; and there are no agreed-upon, revelatory answers.

So I thought there might be a route through this impossible maze, if one merely lists, in descending order, from most through least, conscious things.

Here is what I came up with. See if you agree:

CONSCIOUSNESS: 10 examples, in descending order of consciousness

    1. You
    2. Your dog
    3. A praying mantis
    4. A computer with Artificial Intelligence (AI) programming
    5. You sleeping
    6. You fainting, or under deep anesthesia, or being struck on the head
    7. A tree
    8. An amoeba or bacterium
    9. A virus
    10. A planet, a galaxy, and/or the universe

I’m quite sure you are smarter than your dog, but are you really more conscious than your dog?

I think so, because you understand more about your surroundings and their input to you, than does your dog.

Then, there is the praying mantis, that at some level must realize it needs to hide, evade predators, identify a victim, pounce, eat, and plan for the next. That requires at least some small level of consciousness.

Then the big one these days: At what point does an AI computer reach consciousness? Much fiction has explored that question: The robot, Hal, in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and more recently,  the robot, Ava, in“Ex Machina” are two si-fi characters I especially enjoyed.

Were these two robots more conscious than you, sleeping? As presented, they were fully aware of their existence. They both could pass the “Turing test,” proposed by mathematician, Alan Turing.

Turing Test: A test for intelligence in a computer, requiring that a human being should be unable to distinguish the machine from another human being by using the replies to questions put to both.

The Turing test, however, is not specifically a test of consciousness. It is a test of intelligence or thinking ability. By that test’s standards, your dog might not be conscious.

But, even in sleep, you are conscious, or at least, semi-conscious. You can hear a loud sound. You can feel someone shake you to awaken you. On occasion, perhaps your dream will reflect the reality of outside stimuli, as when someone calls your name and you dream that is happening.

And what about being under deep anesthesia, or being hit on the head, where you are unconscious? The “un” seems to indicate you would have no consciousness, but that isn’t the case.

When you are unconscious, your brain might be less conscious, but much of your body still is conscious of external stimuli. Your heart beats in response to your oxygen needs. Your lungs too, inflate and deflate when oxygen is needed. Your kidneys still seek out and eliminate toxins.

Your immune system continues to remember your old enemies, identify new ones, and to select the right defenses. Your liver . . .

. . . “regulates a wide variety of high-volume biochemical reactions, including the synthesis and breakdown of small and complex molecules, many of which are necessary for normal vital functions. Estimates regarding the organ’s total number of functions vary, but textbooks generally cite it being around 500.”

Your consciousness does not seem to reside solely in your brain, but also throughout your body. Consciousness is a brain/body collaboration, with no bright-line separation between the two.

Brain in a jar.png

Conscious?

The sci-fi “brain-in-a-jar” trope would not be as conscious as a fully functional human being, unless it were hooked up to a functioning body.

Trees do not have central brains, but they respond to stimuli and they communicate via chemical emissions. (Good article: “Do trees talk to each other?”)

Trees apparently have “a kind of experience, cognition, feeling, or perception,” the definition of consciousness used by some researchers.

Consciousness requires some level of thought. We cannot be sure whether an amoeba can think because we cannot be sure what “thought” is.

As Wikipedia says, “Although thinking is an activity of an existential value for humans, there is still no consensus as to how it is adequately defined or understood.”

Amoebas “think” well enough to avoid “bad” and to approach “good,” and to divide when the time is “right.” At what level does that involve consciousness?

Even a virus does what it must do to survive and to procreate under varying conditions and attacks by immune systems. But does a virus “know” what it is doing? Is “knowing” required for consciousness?

Or is the dividing line where consciousness begins and ends more accurately called: Purposeful actions? Are The Galaxies In Our Universe More Right-Handed... Or Left ...

Then we come to “the galaxy” and “the universe.” The universe created the galaxy; the galaxy created you.

Some say this reflects a massive, random accident of physics and chemistry. Others claim the universe is conscious, and that purposeful action is involved because you are a part of the universe.

Purposeful actions are a feature of life. And just like that, you arrive at question #2, “What is life?”

If we were to produce an 10-example, descending list of life, it could be identical to the consciousness 10-example list, we already have discussed.  And every example, by some measure, includes purposeful action.

The two questions, “What is consciousness?” and “What is life?” seem to meet at that point: Purposeful action.

In mathematics, if A=C, and B=C, then A=B. Consciousness = life, and life = consciousness. They are the same.

That said, you might resist the equivalence with regard to AI computers.

One feature of life is the ability to procreate. Yet viruses are considered, by many, to be alive. They do not have the ability to procreate without the aid of some other organism — and that is the situation for AI computers. In their case, the “other organism” would be their human creators.

(Parasites are living organisms that cannot procreate, or even live, without the aid of another organism. A virus can be considered merely to be a simple form of a parasite.)

Of course, a sufficiently advanced AI computer could be created to build additional AI computers. Procreation problem solved.

In summary: Consciousness and life are words given to the same process.

They are not absolute. Rather, the two words describe a process that can exist in varying degrees.

The process is like a long river that is crystal clear at one end and moving down, takes on one atom of mud, then another atom, then gradually more atoms as it becomes muddier and muddier toward the other end.

Standing beside the river and looking down, at what point would you say it is “muddy”?

Like the word “muddy” and for instance, the word “beautiful,” the words “life” and “consciousness” are not objective. They are in the eye of the beholder.

They are words that are defined arbitrarily by each observer. Your definition differs from mine, and their definition differs from ours.

So, it is a fool’s mission to attempt to find the “correct” definition.

The philosophers who have spent centuries debating “What is life,” and “What is consciousness,” may not have realized they were engaged in a semantic debate, not a debate about some form of reality.

Consciousness is life; life is consciousness.

Feel free to set your own parameters.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

Monetary Sovereignty Twitter: @rodgermitchell Search #monetarysovereignty Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

THE SOLE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT IS TO IMPROVE AND PROTECT THE LIVES OF THE PEOPLE.

The most important problems in economics involve:

  1. Monetary Sovereignty describes money creation and destruction.
  2. Gap Psychology describes the common desire to distance oneself from those “below” in any socio-economic ranking, and to come nearer those “above.” The socio-economic distance is referred to as “The Gap.”

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics. Implementation of Monetary Sovereignty and The Ten Steps To Prosperity can grow the economy and narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:

1. Eliminate FICA

2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D, plus long-term care — for everyone

3. Social Security for all or a reverse income tax

4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone

5. Salary for attending school

6. Eliminate federal taxes on business

7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually. 

8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.

9. Federal ownership of all banks

10.Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9% 

The Ten Steps will grow the economy and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

 

The real reason why Congress failed to act. The Broken Generation. Sunday, Aug 2 2020 

The United States, being Monetarily Sovereign, has the unlimited ability to create its own sovereign currency, the U.S. dollar.

Thus, the federal government has the unlimited financial ability to eliminate poverty in America.

It has the unlimited ability to provide healthcare to every man, woman, and child.

The federal government has the unlimited ability to provide education, all the way up through doctorates, for everyone in America who wants it.

The federal government could pay to repave every road, to fix every failing dam, to rebuild every unsound school, to provide good housing for every family, and to feed every hungry child.

It could pay to provide renewable energy, while saving the world from global warming, forest depletion, and air and water pollution.

It could fund colonies on the moon and Mars, and search for life on Europa.

And it could do all this without collecting a penny in federal taxes or allowing the nation to suffer from recession, depression, inflation or deflation.

That is how absolute the federal government’s financial power is.

Yet, this is what we have:

Yahoo Money
Coronavirus stimulus: Extra unemployment benefits cannot restart for at least several weeks, experts warn
Denitsa Tsekova·Reporter

Whether Congress agrees to resume the extra $600 per week or decreases the amount to $200 — as some Republicans propose — experts say that roughly 30 million jobless Americans collecting benefits will not receive any extra stimulus for several weeks.

Unemployed Americans will see a drop in their unemployment benefits between 52% to 72%, according to an analysis by Evercore ISI. Graphic: David Foster / Yahoo Finance

To simply restart the extra $600 now that they’ve expired would take up to five weeks, according to an estimate by the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA).

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which would have extended extra UI benefits among other stimulus measures, through the end of the year.

The Senate never considered the HEROES Act.

“Republicans just came to the table in the middle to the end of July to start the negotiations,” Ajilore. “The question is what the Republicans and the White House were doing all the month of June and early July.”

Even the Democrats’ $600 per month is inadequate, but the Republicans claim it is too much. They want to keep the working class in poverty, as an incentive to return to work.

But the problem is not a lack of incentive. The problem is a lack of jobs.

Heidi Shierholz, senior economist and director of policy for the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute said, “Concerns about the work disincentive simply ignore the realities of the labor market for working people, who will be very unlikely to turn down a job for a temporary boost in benefits, particularly when it is now clear that jobs are going to be scarce for a very long time.”

“Cutting off the $600 cannot incentivize people to get jobs that aren’t there.’’

The Republicans’ “incentive” claim is a lie. The real reasons for their reluctance to support the poor and middle classes are:

  1. The rich, who run America, and especially run the Republican Party, have not been hurt financially. The stock markets are doing just fine, thank you.

Until the rich begin to feel the pinch, the Republicans will find reasons for not acting.

Even during the current recession, the S&P 500 index, has returned nearly to its highest level, ever.

2.  The rich actually want the poor and middle classes to suffer, so they will be desperate for income, and will be willing to accept low-income jobs with poor working conditions and low benefits.

The real concern of the rich is that the poor and middle classes won’t be desperate enough. That is what the Republicans’ misleading “incentive” claim is all about.

Though federal support for the poor and middle classes would protect the economy, and Donald Trump would benefit politically from a healthy economy, the rich do not care about Trump. 

They know that Trump will be gone, probably in three months, or at worst, in four years.

The rich know how to take the long view.

The current recession will have lasting effects, probably for decades. Millions of American families will feel these effects all during the lives of current wage-earners and even beyond.

Young people will forego education just to eke out a living in a limited job market. Their economic futures will be dim. They will become “The Broken Generation.”

Jobs will disappear, as small businesses disappear. Large companies will have learned they don’t need as many full-time people as they did in the past, and in the “Zoom world,” part-time, work-from-home will become a much larger part of the economy.

As desperate demand for the remaining jobs continues to exceed the supply, salaries will shrink. Job-related benefits will shrink or disappear.

Company profits will grow. The top will disassociate further from the middle.

The rich want to become richer. Since “rich” is a comparative term. there are only two ways to become richer: Have more, and/or force those below to have less. 

That is the lesson of Gap Psychology, the desire to distance oneself from those “below.” It is that distance that makes one rich, and the distance has been growing.

The current recession gives the rich their opportunity to do both — have more, and force those below to have less — simply by allowing America to starve.

Each day of the recession, the rich will grow ever richer by comparison with middle-class America, who will see wages and benefits stagnate.

And that is why Congress, and especially the Republicans, do not do what obviously needs to be done: They do not sufficiently support the economy by supporting the working class.

They offer crumbs to the starving, and hope the starving will not notice the loaves of bread the rich carry.

This is the disgrace of America, and the real reason why Congress failed to act.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

Monetary Sovereignty Twitter: @rodgermitchell Search #monetarysovereignty Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

THE SOLE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT IS TO IMPROVE AND PROTECT THE LIVES OF THE PEOPLE.

The most important problems in economics involve:

  1. Monetary Sovereignty describes money creation and destruction.
  2. Gap Psychology describes the common desire to distance oneself from those “below” in any socio-economic ranking, and to come nearer those “above.” The socio-economic distance is referred to as “The Gap.”

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics. Implementation of Monetary Sovereignty and The Ten Steps To Prosperity can grow the economy and narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:

1. Eliminate FICA

2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D, plus long-term care — for everyone

3. Social Security for all or a reverse income tax

4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone

5. Salary for attending school

6. Eliminate federal taxes on business

7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually. 

8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.

9. Federal ownership of all banks

10.Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9% 

The Ten Steps will grow the economy and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

Donald Trump’s complete and detailed plan for how Americans should deal with COVID-19 Saturday, Aug 1 2020 

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The above is Trump’s entire plan. If you know any details that have been omitted, please contact us in the “Leave a Reply” section.

Thank you.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

Monetary Sovereignty Twitter: @rodgermitchell Search #monetarysovereignty Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

THE SOLE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT IS TO IMPROVE AND PROTECT THE LIVES OF THE PEOPLE.

The most important problems in economics involve:

  1. Monetary Sovereignty describes money creation and destruction.
  2. Gap Psychology describes the common desire to distance oneself from those “below” in any socio-economic ranking, and to come nearer those “above.” The socio-economic distance is referred to as “The Gap.”

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics. Implementation of Monetary Sovereignty and The Ten Steps To Prosperity can grow the economy and narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:

1. Eliminate FICA

2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D, plus long-term care — for everyone

3. Social Security for all or a reverse income tax

4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone

5. Salary for attending school

6. Eliminate federal taxes on business

7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually. 

8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.

9. Federal ownership of all banks

10.Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9% 

The Ten Steps will grow the economy and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

Why the GOP Senate fiddles while America dies. “I don’t know what we’re trying to accomplish.” Wednesday, Jul 29 2020 

Imagine you are Jeff Bezos, the $175 billion man. Your children are starving. They ask you for $10 so they can buy some food. You debate about whether to offer even $2.

That is the GOP Senate, today.

Parties remain divided over virus aid package
Some Republicans balk over price tag as deadline looms
By Lisa Mascaro Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The differences over the next coronavirus aid package are vast: Democrats propose $3 trillion in relief and Republicans have a $1 trillion counteroffer. At stake are millions of Americans’ jobless benefits, school reopenings and eviction protections.

Given that the federal government already has demonstrated it has unlimited money, and that infusions of money protect the economy and the people of America, why the reluctance to spend?

Striking any agreement between Congress and President Donald Trump by Friday’s deadline for expiring aid will be daunting.

“We cannot afford to fail,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said.

The outcome will be a defining one for the president and the parties heading into the November election as an uneasy nation is watching and waiting for Washington to bring some end to the health crisis and devastating economic fallout.

Given that adding dollars to the economy will stimulate economic growth, and a growing economy will benefit Trump’s re-election chances, why is it the Democrats who wish to spend and the Republicans who are reluctant?

Key to the debate is the $600 weekly unemployment benefit bump that is expiring for millions of jobless Americans.

Republicans want to slash it to $200 a week as an incentive to push people back to work.

Given that millions of people are out of work, not because they quit, but were fired, and there are not enough jobs available to hire them back, why do Republicans insist there is a need or even a way to “push people back” to non-existent jobs?

Defending cuts to unemployment assistance, Republicans said the federal supplement is too generous, on top of state benefits, and people should not be paid more while they are at home than they would if they were on the job.

Given that giving Americans more money will allow them to spend more, which will help American businesses survive, why are Republicans concerned that the federal supplement is “too generous”?

With the virus death toll climbing and 4.2 million infections nationwide, both parties are eager for relief.

There is some agreement that more money is needed for virus testing, to help schools prepare to open in the fall and to shore up small businesses.

Half the Republican senators are expected to oppose any bill.

They warned against caving to liberal demands and worried the price tag will balloon past $1 trillion.

The Republicans come to the negotiating table hobbled by infighting and delays. Conservative Republicans quickly broke ranks, arguing the spending was too much and priorities misplaced.

“It’s a mess,” said Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo. “I don’t know what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Those words, “I don’t know what we’re trying to accomplish,” will live in infamy, for that is exactly the situation. Here are what seem to be the Republican goals.

  1. Re-elect themselves.
  2. Re-elect Trump.
  3. Grow the economy.
  4. “Open” the economy.
  5. Get people back to work.

But they want to accomplish the above without:

  1. Aiding consumers so they will spend more.
  2. Aiding schools so they can create virus-free environments.
  3. Aiding states so they can, in turn, aid their counties and cities.
  4. More virus testing.
  5. Demanding mask-wearing.
  6. Offering any kind of unified recovery plan.
  7. Doing anything liberals might like.
  8. Benefitting the poor and middle-income groups.

When you don’t know what you are trying to accomplish, there is no hope you ever will accomplish it.

There are two steps Congress and the President could take that very quickly would return America to some semblance of normal:

  1. Pump dollars into the pockets of consumers.Your maks protects me.png
  2. Universal mask-wearing.

With regard to mask-wearing, the fault lies directly at the feet of the President. Recently there appeared an article that read like this:

Shops: No shoes, no shirt, no service.
People: OK. No problem.

Traffic Laws: Wear a seatbelt in a car or be ticketed. No drinking and driving.
People: OK. No problem.

OSHA; At work in a dangerous place you must wear safety gear.
People: OK. No problem.

Airlines: You must be seated, with your seatbelt buckled and your tray table up. No smoking.
People: OK. No problem.

Do not go down the “up” escalator.
People: OK. No problem.

TSA: Remove your shoes & belt; empty your pockets; put your luggage on the belt; and go through the X-ray machine.
People: OK. No problem.

Schools: Children are not allowed to bring guns into the school.
People: OK. No problem.NO ANIMALS ALLOWED IN A FOOD FACILITY SIGN (ALUMINUM SIGN) | HPD ...

Food processor: No animals allowed in a food facility.
Workers: OK. No problem.

Today’s stores: Please wear a mask to reduce the risk of infecting others and yourself with the deadly CORONA virus.
People: Don’t try to take away my rights and freedoms. If the President doesn’t have to wear a mask, neither do I.

Way back, on May 5th, 2020, we published:

The surprisingly simple way to open America in 14 days and avoid a depression.
COVID-19 transmits primarily through the air by droplets. Stop the droplets and you stop the transmission. The incubation period is 14 days. If everyone wore a mask, even just a simple cloth mask, the virus would cease to be transmitted in two weeks.

The was 2 1/2 months ago, and nothing that has happened since, to change the prescription.

Even without social distancing, even with handwashing, even without scrubbing down facilities, even without a cure or a vaccine, the simple act of universal mask-wearing would create a kind of “herd immunity” that would end the disaster.

Yet here we are, still fiddling. And America is burning.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

Monetary Sovereignty Twitter: @rodgermitchell Search #monetarysovereignty Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

THE SOLE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT IS TO IMPROVE AND PROTECT THE LIVES OF THE PEOPLE.

The most important problems in economics involve:

  1. Monetary Sovereignty describes money creation and destruction.
  2. Gap Psychology describes the common desire to distance oneself from those “below” in any socio-economic ranking, and to come nearer those “above.” The socio-economic distance is referred to as “The Gap.”

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics. Implementation of Monetary Sovereignty and The Ten Steps To Prosperity can grow the economy and narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:

1. Eliminate FICA

2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D, plus long-term care — for everyone

3. Social Security for all or a reverse income tax

4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone

5. Salary for attending school

6. Eliminate federal taxes on business

7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually. 

8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.

9. Federal ownership of all banks

10.Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9% 

The Ten Steps will grow the economy and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTYFchilde

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