20230226 – The Network State
The author possesses highly developed communication skills, so he provides multiple definitions of the book’s central concepts in such a way that each definition expands on the previous from one sentence to the essay. For example, here is the second level of complexity definition:” A network state is a social network with a moral innovation, a sense of national consciousness, a recognized founder, a capacity for collective action, an in-person level of civility, an integrated cryptocurrency, a consensual government limited by a social smart contract, an archipelago of crowdfunded physical territories, a virtual capital, and an on-chain census that proves a large enough population, income, and real-estate footprint to attain a measure of diplomatic recognition”.
The author then proceeds to look in detail at this concept from all conceivable angles.
MY TAKE ON IT:
I think that all this is a nice exercise in the philosophy of the nation and state. Still, by its very definition, the network state could not possibly exist because it is distributed in space with nodes (individuals) of its network connected via communication channels. The state, whether small or big, requires the concentration of its members in close proximity because the state is always about violence and force. It could exist only on two conditions:
- There are people who are ready to kill and die for it
- These people are so close to each other that they are strong enough to suppress or eliminate all and any groups of individuals who for one reason or another do not want to accept the existence of the such state.
The world is divided between states, and history demonstrated that these states were created only by one of two processes: dissolution of bigger states due to the internal contradiction between groups of approximately equal power or as a result of merging smaller groups, usually when one conquers others. So the idea that any ruling hierarchy of any state would tolerate any individual living on their territory who profess loyalty to some distributed network state seems to me contradicts the whole history of humanity from it being divided into small bands with a few hundred members controlling a few square miles of territory to contemporary superstates with billions of people. So this nice dream is just a dream and nothing more than that.
20230219 – The World Before Us
The author’s description of the content of this book:” This book explores the Palaeolithic era (or Old Stone Age), a key phase of late human evolution from roughly 300,000 to 40,000 years ago; a period when we, Homo sapiens, became us. This area of research has changed dramatically over the last couple of decades, and what we know now about our own deep past is very different from what we once thought “. The recent critical findings that occurred due to discoveries in the Denisovan cave and technological breakthroughs that led to decoding ancient DNA samples prompted considerable changes in our understanding of human evolution. It turned out to be much more complex and interesting than people thought. It included multiple human species, previously unimaginable routes, timings of migrations, interbreeding, and many other complex occurrences. It is also a brief but excellent review of new technological advancements that allow the development of this new understanding. These technologies come from multiple areas, from satellite imaging to the biological processing of fossilized material.
MY TAKE ON IT:
Back just a few decades ago, it would be inconceivable to believe that DNA could be extracted and decoded from organic residues created long ago. Similarly, it would be hard to imagine that images from the satellite could lead to archeological discoveries. From my point of view, the new findings demonstrate that human evolution was not a straightforward process as people thought back in the 1970s but rather a complex and convoluted process with setbacks, the division of species into subspecies, and their merging back together. It also causes territorial expansion of humans and then contraction. However, all this does not change the main point of the human species’ development via evolution. It just demonstrates that the understanding of evolution as a directional process is plainly incorrect. The actual process is basically adjustable, so it is not from simple to complex or from lowly amoebas to noble humans. It is just an adjustment to various environmental niches that sometimes includes movement from simple organisms to more complicated, but sometimes from more complex to something simpler but better adjusted to environmental change. Amoebas are still existing in their niches and seem to be doing great. I hope the same can be said about humans for a long, long time in the future.
20230212 -Searching for a Memory
The main point of this book is that memory is not a passive process of retrieving information from a warehouse of information, but rather an active process of constructing the image of the past based on the condition of neural networks in the human brain. This condition changes dynamically, strongly impacting the results of this construction. The author provides a good metaphor for memory as a telescope pointed at the time. The author expands on this idea by discussing historical examples, experimental data from the use of technology, and referring to the usual behavior analysis methodology of people with damaged brains.
MY TAKE ON IT:
Like everything else in the human body, the brain’s work that generates memories is defined by evolutionary development. However, evolution is about survival and reproduction, not about the search for the truth and factually correct representation of events. So, the process of memory construction necessarily includes mainly unconscious adjustments to whatever relevant neural networks produce to the main objective of survival. The interesting part is that, being social animal, humans actually need both: truths about the past, which is necessary to provide effective interaction with the environment, and lies, which is required to maintain social cohesiveness. We are now at a very interesting point in human history when the demand for truth becomes more important than the demand for lies, whether these lies are noble or not, because technology has achieved such a level when denial of reality makes human survival questionable. A good example was the recent Covid pandemic, when usual bureaucratic manipulations and suppression of the factual data in the name of pseudo-science prevented effective handling of the epidemic, causing enormous economic and psychological damage to the population. Whether humanity can mature to the point when it can effectively handle memories and data soon enough to survive remains to be seen.
20230205 – The Great Demographic Illusion
The content of this book should put to rest both weird ideas that were derived from changing demography of the USA:
- Democrats hope that America is becoming a “minority/majority country,” meaning they will be in power forever
- Non-elite whites fear that they will become a minority and be treated as inferiors, which is already often the case implemented by the elite via affirmative action programs.
The author provides several arguments falsifying both these ideas. The main argument is that ethno/racial divisions are not really that rigid. The history of America demonstrated that people considered non-white and inferior such as Jews and Irish in the XIX century, became as white as they got by the second half of the XX century. Another point is that, since we all belong to one human species and therefore can interbreed, it’s what Americans do on a vast scale. There is explosive growth in multiracial and multiethnic children that makes all racist ideas plainly meaningless. The same history demonstrates that the newly arrived ethnic and racial groups change their political affiliation over time when their social and economic position rises to mainstream levels. Finally, the author discusses how government demographic statistics manipulate data to fit the dominant narrative and how it hinders the transfer of immigrants of diverse backgrounds into regular Americans, commonly occurring within 2-3 generations.
MY TAKE ON IT:
I think that all issues related to “race relations”, “majority/minority struggle for dominance”, “affirmative actions”, and so on are the product of the elite. The elite tries to maintain their status by dividing the non-elite population and busying them with intergroup fights. These fights leave no time and resources for the battle to assure meritocracy and alignment of elite interests with the general population’s interests. A good example would be “free trade” and “environment protection”. Currently, the elite’s interests are linked to their possession of assets, either capitalistic – control over businesses, or socialistic- a good position in a governmental or quasi-governmental hierarchy, such as a governmental bureaucrat or a university professor. Correspondingly these interests include a high return on material assets or a high level of virtue signaling by supporting strict environmental regulation. Both are satisfied by moving production to a third-world country where labor is cheap and ecological law is either non-existent or not enforced. This shift is clearly against the interest of non-elite, for which more affordable consumer goods do not compensate for job loss. Correspondingly, the worst nightmare for the elite would be concrete political action of non-elite demanding that all goods and services sold in the USA would be produced in full compliance with US laws. Obviously, the necessity to pay the American minimum wage and comply with US environmental regulations, however idiotic, anywhere in the world where goods are produced for US consumers would make the US the most efficient place to produce these goods and services. Alternatively, they will force US regulations to change if goods and services cannot be created under such conditions. The division of non-elite into racial and ethnic groups and their incitement to fight each other reliably distracts non-elites of all races from fighting for their common interests.