Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Consciousness and quantum theory

For those who don't competely subscribe to the idea of equality for moral reasons, the idea of interconnectedness could be important, but it can be a bit wishy-washy. Playing sugary music over pastoral scenes and saying that we are all connected might lift the spirits, but is not all that likely to convimce on an analytical level.

This two hour long lecture starts (well almost) from the two slits experiment, where light is shown to exhibit the properties of either waves or particles depending on what observations, and goes on to explain how this idea that observing something is what makes it real must apply at all levels, not just light particles/waves.

The speaker posits that we're all little bits of a universal consciousness as if we were part of a cosmic computer. The model is not radically deterministic - it has free will - and it also explains positive thinking, prayer, sychronicity and coincidences.

I'm not sure about the first part of the lecture, where the experiments with human subjects are explained. The speaker claims scientific rigour in these experimnets, and I have no reason to doubt it, but it's not clear to me how he gets from the results of those experiments to his theory. I'm going to watch it again to see if I understand more at the second pass.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

meta currencies, and all that

Someone sent me a link (no 3 above) to a prezi presentation about new wealth in our post industrial information age. The prezi platform is in itself interesting. When I went to the website, I saw a link (4th one above) to a presentation about metacurrency, which itself led to link (2) and thence to link (1).

I haven't grasped all this yet, but the various contributors say that money is just one type of currency showing on our map of the social world. Other currencies incluse trust, reputation, attention and intimacy, but we don't map these or see them as currencies.

This fits in with colloaborative consumption and alternative trading systems (LETS and the like) but bestrides them (hence the meta) and posits that there can be a network of these currencies (ways of measuring the flow of value).

Have a look and see if you grasp it better than I do. It is very thought provoking.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Future ICT is the website of the UK hub of this "proposal"

'The FuturICT flagship proposal intends to unify hundreds of the best scientists in Europe in a 10 year 1 billion EUR program to explore social life on earth and everything it relates to. The FuturICT flagship proposal will produce historic breakthroughs and provide powerful new ways to manage challenges that make the modern world so difficult to predict, including the financial crisis.'

Some of its ideas/plans are similar to those of The Venus Project.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Mary Portas goes shopping

I have just read Mary Portas' report on high streets. It's truly a lightweight document. It's especially patchy on what it is Portas thinks we want high streets for. Reading it as a transport campaigner, I was shocked by her repeated assertion that one way forward is to have cheaper car parking - ie compete with edge / out of town shopping centres to attract car borne shoppers. Portas brushes aside environmental concerns about increased car use. OK this report is not a transport report, but if Portas thinks that the great car economy will come and save us she is way behind the curve. She should Google peak oil and learn how oil production is falling year on year, as are discoveries.

The report is light on sources, and it would also appear that Portas has not considered the work of Sustrans showing that non car-borne shoppers represent a greater proportion of spend than most people think.

But for an RBE blog I need to dig deeper, and ask what human need do high streets uniquely address. Portas rightly says they should be social spaces, but constantly seems to have one eye on the perceived need for more shopping to be done, both overall and in high streets. The real main message of the report seems to be that if people don't go shopping retail will decline and then people won't be able to go shopping so much. A circular argument.

In the days when people had to go shopping, probably daily, in their local shops, the social function was a corollary. Now it has to be the high street's main offering. The constant references to having a cup of coffee in the discussion of local economies is because we usually link socialising with eating/drinking. People are doing an  increasing proportion of their socialising in cyberspace, where it can readily be blended with entertainment.

Portas doesn't really get at why we would want to save high streets, because she doesn't examine what human need would not be fulfilled if we didn't have them. Where we need to start when examining how we organise society is with how to sustainably meet human need. That is how an RBE approaches societal change and development.

Sunday, 11 December 2011


This documentary shows the history of several cancer treatments that have allegedly been supressed because they couldn't be sold, either because the intellectual property owner insisted that the formulation be in the public domain or because the substances used are food based and cannot be patented.

Plinly I am not qualified to comment on the efficacy of the these treatments, but if just oine of them is effective, then the corrupting influence of profit on human health is demonstrated and a powerful argument against the profit system is shown.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Retail vitality

A website of  history of the town I live in had a section on shops, with particular reference to the to time when I was growing up. The writer and some commenters seemed to lament the bygone age that seemed to be a heyday. OK, a bit of nostalgia is common, but it did lead me to a train of thought about what town centres are for.

TZM and TVP are about using science and technology to sustainably fulfil human needs. Town centres, just like anything else, need to be assessed on whether they directly (ie not through jobs and money) address human need sustainably.

The internet/www provides more and more people with direct access to the goods and services they need and therefore the town centre doesn't need to do this; and it can't compete with the convenience of on-line life. Technology is not going to stop making our lives easier in this way. So what, if anything, are town centres for. What human needs can they fulfil given that technology has taken over much of their role in this.

I don't think that techology has, as yet at least, succeeded in providing the means to convivium that public places provide. For all the ability to communicate instantly with people all round the world, there is no substitute for being with people, other than those you live with, even strangers - people watching. And I don't think eating and drinking will ever become separated from this convivium, so things like pubs, cafes, and restuarants will continue in some guise.

I also don't think live artistic performance will ever completely die out.

Anima (2011) This new film is a montage of inspirational talks from dozens of people including Stephen Fry, Jacque Fresco, David Icke, Peter Joseph, George Carlin, Sir Ken Robinson and very many others. The opening film didn't make me think that Anima was somethink I wanted to watch, but I persevered and found much to support the way of thinking that would be possible and hopefully normal in an RBE.