Wednesday, December 19, 2018

archive of posts

From early 2017 to August 2018, I was using an account on the server, which ran Mastodon, an open-source program facilitating distributed/federated social networking. (My account was "" or "".) The server has gone belly-up, so I'm posting this archive of my posts.

Aug 11
I woke up this morning having dreamed about a showing of a movie called "The Secret Life of Plants." I looked it up, and it's a documentary from 1979, the year I was born, based on a 1973 book of the same name, with some interesting and controversial material about plant consciousness, and with a soundtrack by Stevie Wonder.

Aug 2
I think it's very important for us to
* undertake a deep analysis, a fundamental rethinking, of what we're doing here, and
* make a profound shift in how we're operating.

In order to do that in a coordinated way, on a large scale, I think we need an explicit set of new core values, new core principles, and that is a purpose that the Z3 Paradigm Framework can serve.

Jun 24
In many respects, the overall discourse seems to be stuck in a rut. That doesn't mean there aren't worthwhile conversations happening; there are. But new sets of core values, like the ones that the Z3 Paradigm Framework offers, seem to me to be very important for optimizing the discourse and getting out of many of the ruts that we're in.

Jun 24
Doesn't the discourse seem to be stuck in a rut? Doesn't it seem that radically advancing the narrative with new core values will be helpful?

Postverbal (a sci-fi scenario), part 1

Jun 13
The obsolescence of words:
"At this moment words remain a crucial part of life in multitudinous ways because we don't yet possess communication systems that can replace them. But we have the ability to create such systems."

Jun 13
There are multiple fundamental systemic areas where (deep and rapid) transformation is critically necessary. Without encapsulating these (distinct but interconnected) issues into a single framework, it's hard to see how we can succeed in making the necessary breakthroughs in any of these areas, much less all of them, within the requisite time frame.

May 30
A full year on, I still have a very keen (though maybe seemingly quixotic) interest in communicating this paradigm framework to more people. There are plenty of entirely understandable reasons for it having gotten so little traction so far. But the relevance of the framework itself has only increased, in my view. And it's been improved quite a bit over the past year. The most recent edit was 17 days ago.
framework authors:

May 19
I'd like to try to express why I'm so keen on this image from the Z3 Paradigm Framework. To a significant degree, our world is ruled by an abstract, artificial entity called money, which we symbolize (at least in this part of the world) with "$." If we're going to evolve toward a new way of organizing our world, it seems that it will be very helpful to have a succinct symbolic representation of the new system - a new symbol that can replace "$"

May 4
Been making some edits to "A tale of three paradigms" including the addition of this sentence today:
Alfred Korzybski's Science and Sanity (1933) gives techniques for cultivating a kind of optimal flexibility - in Alfred's terms, a "full conditionality of our semantic responses," an "∞-valued orientation."

May 4
Hey all!
Today I learned that the community of open-source, distributed, federated social media platforms has been dubbed The Free Network, at least in this pretty quick, but detailed, September 2017 article.
I've been sharing some thoughts regarding money, voting, competition, and the Z3 Paradigm Framework* right here on this Free Network account over the past couple weeks, before I knew that it was The Free Network!
*Z3 Paradigm Framework:

May 3
Z3 is a deep, yet concise, framework for an optimal civilizational paradigm. Well-meaning guardians of the status quo will diligently ignore it, but I believe it's time for those of us with prophetic inclinations to proclaim that the future will be zhergish!

Apr 27
A tale of three paradigms [edited 4-27-18]

Apr 24
Z3: a better way to be

Apr 24
The idea that competition should be a major aspect of how we organize the world seems to be both a sacred cow and a paper tiger. I see it being defended by people who identify as "conservatives," "liberals," "libertarians," and "anarchists." They keep broaching the topic in ways that seem to indicate that they're noticing the societal role of competition being increasingly questioned and challenged.

Apr 23
This page describes some fundamental problems with voting, and gives a rationale for creating better systems while participating in voting systems in the meantime:
It seems important for those who see the fundamental flaws of voting systems to vote -- if the only ones participating are the ones who don't understand, we can expect the worst possible results.
As Noam Chomsky has suggested, electoral politics should comprise a very small portion of one's civic engagement.

Apr 23
Money is so ubiquitous & so unnecessary. We say it takes a lot of money to build a house, or to build smartphones, etc. But if you demolish a house, or dissect a smartphone, you'll find no money in there (unless maybe someone hid it in the walls of the house). It's only "necessary" because we believe it is. We can look at it like a massive shared hallucination. Let's try to see past this hallucination. Imagine what we could accomplish on this planet if no one had to think about money ever again.

Apr 15
"There's a largely untapped dimension of hardware connectivity. Our devices can now act not only like telephones, connecting to others via central switchboards, but also like walkie-talkies, talking directly with each other." March 30, 2018 #MeshNetworking

Apr 15
A tale of three paradigms [in progress]
It seems potentially helpful to distinguish among three major psycho-social paradigms, and to assign a familiar mathematical symbol as a label for each:
1. >
2. =
3. ∞

Apr 7
Promulgate it
(To the tune of "Legalize it")
Promulgate it
Don't derogate it
Promulgate it, yeah yeah
And I will adumbrate it

Apr 3
@brianpoe ...create new ways of communicating that would make it feasible to imbibe, on reasonable timescales, more of the huge amounts of info that's out there. I think there's really something to the saying, "a picture's worth a thousand words." If we can explore all that information through pictures instead of words, then maybe we can learn at least a thousand times faster. BTW, ICYMI, I wrote another blog post related to this on the 1st:

Apr 3
Hi Brian,
Those likely future trends are some of the reasons I highly recommend the Z3 Paradigm Framework. (
Going back to your first comment, I would emphasize that I really do appreciate how enormously useful written and spoken words have been. Using the Internet, going to bookstores and libraries, I see billions of words that I'd love to read - I'd love to learn all that info - it would be so useful and enjoyable. This motivates me to try to...(continued)

Apr 1
We've been having a spirited discussion about economics, Z3, etc. in the comments of one of Eric S. Raymond's blog posts.
"Z3 advocates valuing or loving everyone, caring about/for everyone, which seems similar to what many have described using terms like agape, universal/unconditional love, etc."

Apr 1
"3D Internet interfaces & post-verbal ontologies"

Mar 31
@brianpoe When I write about post-verbal communication, I'm not necessarily thinking that present forms of communication will be discontinued - I'm focused on imagining radically new forms that we can help create. Just as we still make animal noises and use body language despite the fact that we have spoken and written words, we may continue using spoken and written words well into the future, but in many ways they may be eclipsed by newer forms of communication. I've blogged many ideas about it

Mar 30
"Mesh networking & post-verbal communication"

Mar 28
RT @ABC123 We've edited the final sentence of Z3, part 4, replacing "As more and more people do it" with "As people do it more and more" -- the transition isn't only a matter of discrete instances of people "joining" -- it's a matter of each of us repeatedly, habitually, increasingly embodying these more optimal patterns.

Mar 29
An essay called "Telepathy or Tragedy?" may be in the works~

Mar 21
RT @ABC123 Z3 Paradigm Framework, part 4

Mar 20
If I were going to try to express the essence of the Z3 Paradigm Framework, it might be: Let's take an omni-authentic and omni-compassionate approach, and structure our world around that instead of political hierarchy and commercial transactions.

Mar 20
"Dennis McKenna on Psylocibin Dosage"
(March 2016)

Mar 18
@kitredgrave hello?

Mar 16
I believe the time has come for us to embrace tools of consciousness expansion like marijuana and psychedelics as part of a comprehensive paradigm shift. Or even if you don't want a comprehensive paradigm shift, at least embrace these tools of consciousness expansion. "Embracing" them in this sense doesn't really have anything to do with the question of whether you want to take them yourself. But you can accept and celebrate the value that they can have for many, many people.

Mar 13
Friends, in case you weren't aware, Jeffrey Mishlove continues to post about two new interviews per week to the New Thinking Allowed channel, and he also recently started a series of daily monologues.
New Thinking Allowed: Conversations (and monologues) on the Leading Edge of Knowledge and Discovery

Mar 13
"In my opinion, if 100% of the people were farming it would be ideal."
Masanobu Fukuoka

Mar 13
"Wanna channel your energy towards a destination of choice?
Let’s bring it to neutral first."

Mar 13
A key aspect of the current competitive paradigm is the notion of working "for" a particular person or group. In an omni-cooperative paradigm, we can work *with* particular people and groups, but we can work *for* the good of everyone. #zherg

Mar 10
Good morning, friends. How are you? I continue to find it very important to promote zhergish values. I've written many social media & blog posts inspired by the zherg framework, and I'm working on another blog post now. Here's a link to the Zherg website.

Mar 3
To bridge the gap between our cosmic, angelic potentials and our current reality which includes widespread violence, oppression, and wasted resources, let's examine and optimize our first premises ~

Mar 3
Rudolf Steiner said, before you take single step toward knowledge or power, take two steps toward ethics. This expresses one of the huge reasons for upgrading our philosophical (including ethical) frameworks. We're on the verge of significant steps toward knowledge and power, but first there's significant ethical/spiritual growth to be accomplished.

Feb 28
It probably makes sense to pursue tactics like new political parties and such, to advance zhergish values, but let's also of course be practicing "cultural zhergism" anywhere and anytime ~

Feb 28
RT @ABC123 We're celebrating nine months since the Zherg project was publicly launched. In these nine months of noospheric gestation, Zherg has received significant positive feedback. The small amount of substantive negative feedback has led to productive conversations that have validated and reinforced the zhergish message. These nine months thus affirm that Zherg is ready to begin the next phase of its life. Thanks, everyone.

we've all been somewhat caught up in competitive games - for instance, in my case, - that's been the zeitgeist of the age - doesn't mean we can't participate successfully in an omni-cooperative system ~

Feb 11
Pavlov, skepticism, and labor

Feb 7
RT @ABC123 Truth and Love

Feb 4
What Honeybees Can Teach Us About Democracy

Jan 29
There are angelic possibilities - prospects of creating a true paradise on Earth - and yet we remain largely mired in systems of meathead authoritarianism & silly speculation. How can we overcome this inertia & reach for the stars? Here are some ideas for a basic philosophical framework around which we can structure everything:

Jan 28
I find Zx/Zherg so cogent and salient that I find it almost strange that I don't see more people talking about it ~

Jan 22
Kurdish Christians Call for ‘Urgent’ International Protection Against Turkish Shelling

Jan 22
Zx: a message of love and liberation

Jan 21
Why formulate and promulgate new paradigm frameworks like Zx?

Jan 21
I recently came upon this, a nice 2016 documentary about Terence McKenna called True Hallucinations

Jan 21
Some have found Zx confusing. I think it may take more effort than usual to figure out what it's saying, but I think it ultimately makes quite good sense & is very relevant for us today. You may want to read Z1 and Z3. Z2 is just a slightly trimmed down Z1.

Jan 16
Friends have discussed the idea of setting up a new political party as a moneyless, volunteer-run organization, only using money for necessary election fees ~

Jan 16
There's been talk about starting a new political party ~ Our current major political party logos seem rather like sports team mascots -- donkey, elephant... ~ How about something comparably substantive, like the chart at the bottom of Z3, part 3, specifying two components to emphasize, and two to deemphasize? ~

Jan 16
the takeaway from what seemed like a pretty insightful dream a few nights ago: Truth and Similarity

Jan 13

Jan 13
I maintain that an appropriate, effective solution is probably going to need to be radical -- it's going to need to address root issues. The Zx framework's radicalness does place it somewhat outside of many people's current comfort zones, which poses challenges in promulgating the framework. If you feel uncomfortable with it, I'd love to discuss it with you. If you feel comfortable with it, I'd ask you to share it and help demonstrate that there's significant interest in & support for such ideas

Jan 13
Huge amounts of our discourse still focus on individual personalities, partisan labels, and special/competing interests. Policies and substantive matters do get discussed, but clearly with less than satisfactory progress toward consensus. All of this indicates to me that the time is ripe for new paradigm frameworks to emerge, superseding and supplanting our current ones. #Zx

Jan 11
Some people have been saying there's just not enough interest in a paradigm shift for it to happen. Do you see how that statement can function as a self-fulfilling prophecy? There is a tendency to get comfortable with the status quo. But we also dream, and look ahead.

Jan 11
Check out this wonderful formula for organizing our existence and coexistence; it's encapsulated in this simple chart:

Jan 8
The Science of Curing Aging
Aubrey de Grey | 20 Nov 2017

Jan 6
Let's create a life-based economy!

Jan 5
"The mistake is investing 100-percent certainty in a result and not holding a probabilistic view of scientific truth or risk and benefit." Catherine Kerr, neuroscience researcher

Dec 30, 2017
These Noomap folks seem to be taking some interesting steps toward a "distributed, holographic/holonic, semantic web" -- a "3D cyberspace browser"

Dec 30, 2017
I think a very important (and very concrete) aspect of the paradigm shift is localized agriculture. Some Portland tiny home villagers are already participating in this by cultivating gardens. More villages, and more gardening, are very much in the works as we speak.

Dec 30, 2017
@frankiesaxx If you want/need a thing I have, then I can just give it to you. The person who has the other thing that I want/need can give it to me. Because I want you to get what you want/need and the other person wants me to get what I want/need.

Dec 30, 2017
@frankiesaxx Yes

Dec 30, 2017
@frankiesaxx Yes. But what if, instead, you were to give the potatoes to someone who can use them, without tokens or barter, and likewise, the person with the wheat gives it to you, and is given cloth by the person with the cloth, etc.?

Dec 30, 2017
I hope more people will read and share "Z3 Paradigm Framework." Part 1 anticipates and addresses some major categories of objections or hesitations that seem likely to arise. Parts 2 and 3 list the proposals that comprise the framework.

Dec 30, 2017
the ongoing transformation of values, and our relationships with current-paradigm systems in the meantime
The purpose of money, the purpose of any transactional system, is to incentivize actions that benefit others. A crucial assumption underlying these systems is that people won't care enough about others to take such actions to the same degree without these incentives. A major challenge that we're trying to meet is that of creating a transformation of values...

Dec 30, 2017
We now have available multiple inspiring visions of, or frameworks for, a radically new paradigm, including the Zx project ( ) and the Venus Project (aka resource-based economy - ).

Dec 30, 2017
If we're not offering an inspiring vision of a radically new paradigm, then our attempts to make piecemeal improvements thru moderation or modification of the current system may backfire, by spooking people & prompting them to double down on harmful purist ideological commitments

Dec 26, 2017
July 3, 2017: Zhergishly upgrading core values and transforming society

Dec 26, 2017
February 3, 2017:
I can see your halos: Further depiction of forthcoming interfaces

Dec 26, 2017
January 10, 2017: graphical/universal interfaces, filters, filter bubbles, artificial intelligence, global mind

Dec 26, 2017
via Daniel Pinchbeck:
A Vision for the Future:
"Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells and vast colonies of microorganisms that work together seamlessly as a community. Individual cells do not hoard excess energy or "wealth" for themselves but rather store any excess energy in fat deposits that are freely available to the cellular community as a whole. So energy can flow seamlessly... Without any competition, cells and organs work with maximum efficiency..."

Dec 26, 2017
February 8, 2017: Labels and conversations beyond the ideological x-axis

Dec 25, 2017
Please help spread the important messages contained in Zx. Thanx!

Dec 25, 2017
So commerce and political hierarchy seem to be two sides of one coin (a particularly apt metaphor!) and so it seems fitting to specify that we want to discontinue both of them.

Dec 25, 2017
Commerce and political hierarchy are two of the major methods by which civilization has been organized, and as such there's been a big ostensible rivalry between them. Behind the scenes, or on a deeper level, I think they're both ways to try to make things work without really valuing one another. Instead we pass the buck to authority figures, or pass bucks in exchange for goods and services.

Dec 25, 2017
The political message (corresponding to the eye in the pyramid) seems very important due to the unfortunate extent to which systems of control and domination have factored into our civilization over the years. "Liberatory" and "libertarian" and "anarchist" movements (for example) have tried to remedy this, but it remains a serious issue.

Dec 25, 2017
Even the best ideas can become traps when that happens. People are going to be understandably suspicious of any major new paradigm, suspicious that it could become a new dogma. So by including a statement of non-dogmatism among the basic principles of the paradigm framework, we can effectively counteract those suspicions, and we can help civilization overcome this centuries-old problem.

Dec 25, 2017
Here's why I think that what I've been calling Zx's epistemological message (represented by the eye with the infinity sign) is so important. A huge problem that people have experienced over the centuries has been dogmatism, the phenomenon where we fall so in love with our models of reality that we forget that they're models and mistake them for the reality they represent.

Dec 24, 2017
#Zx I know people are tired & wary of ideology, and for good reason. But ideology rules our lives in many ways nonetheless. Some of us seem very much disinclined to unpack or challenge the ideologies that rule our lives. For those of us inclined to do so, we should realize that criticizing those ideologies, or criticizing people for upholding them, is woefully insufficient. What seems necessary, in order to effect real change, are robust and salient new principles to replace the prevailing ones.

Dec 24, 2017
Could this be an emblem for the next phase of civilization? Let's hope so!

Dec 24, 2017
Have you read Zx (Zherg)? Do you understand it? Do you agree with it? Why or why not? I'd be fascinated to know your answers to any of these questions :)

Dec 17, 2017
#Zx It seems beneficial to put this on the table, inject it into the collective consciousness, participate in helping it seep into people's awareness in a way that will bring us a step closer to achieving consensus on this sort of paradigm.

Dec 15, 2017
We're experiencing a multifaceted planetary crisis. At the same time, fabulous possibilities, beyond our wildest dreams, are within reach. Many proposed strategies don't go deep enough to bring optimal results. Time to take a step back & revise the basics.

Dec 14, 2017
Being of Service to All Creation with Stanley Krippner

Dec 8, 2017
@kelli Cool, very interesting. Here in Portland the four tiny home villages give formerly underhoused people housing, community, meaningful work, and other opportunities, etc. :)

Dec 7, 2017
Continuously & perpetually changing ourselves from the inside out: I think this is key, no matter how sophisticated/advanced/enlightened one may already be, and/or no matter how constrained/victimized one may be by others & by the systems to which we're subject.

Dec 7, 2017
cooperative tiny home villages: a key strategy for constructing optimal futures

Dec 6, 2017
Let's try this. #Zx

Dec 6, 2017
In May 2015 I wrote about "formulating intelligence & unity."
The Zx project now seems to have produced a memeworthy fulfillment of my hopes for "formulating unity."

Dec 6, 2017
November 7: Mycologist Paul Stamets talks with Joe Rogan

Dec 6, 2017
Consciousness and Cosmology with Jude Currivan (New Thinking Allowed)
"Here she expands upon her insight that matter and consciousness are one and the same. Therefore, rather than say that we have consciousness, she maintains that we are consciousness. She refers to her early childhood experiences of supernormal awareness, and claims that this is the birthright of all individuals. We lose these natural abilities due to cultural conditioning."

Dec 4, 2017
RT @ABC123 Z3 Paradigm Framework

Dec 4, 2017
RT @ABC123 Z3 Paradigm Framework, part 3

Dec 1, 2017
While I'm here -- In Case You Missed It! There's a new version, with parts 1 and 2 of it released so far, of what I've been jabbering about since this May: Zx

Dec 1, 2017
Carne Ross Ted Talk (April): Accidental Anarchist

Dec 1, 2017
Why do we call it being "upset"? Well, there's a whole set of things that you would like to have happen, but there's this whole other set of things that are happening; it's kind of like being upstaged, or upended

Nov 26, 2017
RT @ABC123 Z3 Paradigm Framework, part 2

Nov 25, 2017e
We're at a crossroads...
Let's talk about a spiritual-ethical-political-economic-sacramental reformation.
Check out the Zherg paradigm framework:

Nov 17, 2017
RT @ABC123 Z3 Paradigm Framework, part 1:

Nov 10, 2017
So the Graphical Supersession Point can be defined as the point when GOD becomes our primary medium for explicit/public communication

Nov 10, 2017
GOD: Graphical Online Discourse
ZHERG: Zounds! Halos Encircle Real Gods

Nov 6, 2017
Let's not let inflexible ideological attachments, to Money or Mohammad or Marx or what have you, keep us from what can be an extremely, zhergishly good outcome for everyone

Nov 6, 2017
I think the cooperative tiny home movement is a very significant phenomenon. There are at least four tiny home villages here in Portland so far. As we build and optimize structures, relationships, and cultures, we can house the houseless while helping to refine cooperative models and to actualize more effective cooperation in society at large.

Nov 6, 2017
"We'll need to develop a viable, convincing, realistically based, inspiring vision of the direction that we want to evolve toward. We need some good, solid ideals for human evolution." Thomas Lombardo

Nov 2, 2017
Oct. 18: Mark Pesce: Rise of the Replicators

Nov 2, 2017
Oct. 17: Science of Us: The mystery and value of dreams and the epidemic of dream deprivation

Nov 2, 2017
Neural network pioneer Geoff Hinton has helped create something that seems to be a step beyond neural networks: "capsule networks."

Oct 21, 2017
ROOSTER: gift-economy/pay-it-forward/zhergish message boards, operational for Portland, Palo Alto, Berkeley, and Austin so far

Oct 7, 2017
Periodic reminder: please read Zherg:
Here's a video of me reading it:

Sep 17, 2017
RT @ABC123 Your endorsement of zhergish transformation can help usher in a new age

Sep 12, 2017
RT @ABC123 Before you can achieve it, you must first perceive it: Let's promulgate Zherg to help everyone perceive a positive new paradigm!

Jul 22, 2017
RT @ABC123 ZHERG: Ideas for a transition

Jul 26, 2017
What would a new & improved paradigm for the 21st century look like?
I shared these thoughts earlier this month:

Jul 5, 2017
Zhergishly upgrading core values and transforming society

Jun 30, 2017
The Future of AI: from Deep Learning to Deep Understanding, Ben Goertzel

Jun 30, 2017
8 AR Programming Blocks
"What would it look like for these VR programs and programming blocks to co-exist with objects in the real world? Would real life situations, interactions and locations inspire ways to think of programming that aren’t immediately obvious?"

Jun 29, 2017
meatspace ergonomics for VR users -- "The office of the future"

Jun 29, 2017
a reading of zherg1.0
[a/v is a bit out of alignment for about the last quarter]

Jun 29, 2017
Someone suggested today that Zherg seems to amount to an attempt to create a new religion.
This can be daunting to contemplate, so big and profound that we hesitate to go there. But if we think about it, I think we'll see that this kind of thing is exactly what we need, whether or not we use the word "religion."

Jun 29, 2017
As we continue tuning into psi and advancing our sciences and technologies, a truly utopian golden age beckons. But we should optimize our core values and principles in order to make the world better today, and in order to survive long enough to make it to the golden age.
Really, a I don't dismiss the idea that a genuine golden age could begin later this evening, if the conversation about optimizing core values and principles were to happen, to trend, to become a thing.

Jun 26, 2017
I'm really looking forward to a zhergesque paradigm shift
Please read this momentous document & share it with others

Jun 19, 2017
Zherg2 is a slightly shorter version of Zherg. In Zherg2 the paragraph regarding the All has been removed.

Jun 16, 2017
#zherg If we truly value each other, then we can agree to cooperate voluntarily, without any buying or selling.

Jun 15, 2017
I remain very excited about #zherg. We can avoid disaster & pave the way for utopia by building a zhergish consensus

Jun 15, 2017
In Feb. I wrote about trying to avoid using the terms rightist, leftist, centrist, conservative, liberal, SQW, & SJW

Jun 11, 2017
adopting an agenda for positive change ~ we can be new paradigm early adopters :)

Jun 10, 2017
Bucky Fuller titled one his books Utopia or Oblivion. He saw these as the two likeliest options for our species. This still seems true today. A zhergish plan seems like a good way for us to get utopia rather than oblivion.
Even if the stakes weren't so extreme, it just seems like the right thing to do.

May 31, 2017
This anonymous document seems to me to be a recipe for utopia.

May 30, 2017
I feel we can really use a formulation that can effectively supersede our legal, religious, and ideological texts, one that can serve as a unifying statement of our large-scale goals and plans. Zherg seems like a good candidate for this. Let's put this in front of more people's eyes!

May 26, 2017
RT @ABC123 We may add links from words in the text to pages that elaborate on, or illustrate, the points being made. So feel free to send suggestions for those, along with any ideas regarding the text itself. We'll incorporate your feedback into any future versions of Zherg. It's now at version 1.0, and we welcome and urge you to share it with others.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

One last purely theoretical think piece on our forthcoming radically new interfaces

The pieces are in place

Imagine a time just before speech -- when people had the physical ability to produce the same phonemes we use today, but before they had developed the practice of assigning definite meanings to sequences of phonemes. Maybe those ancestors vocalized expressively, playfully, with what we would now call babbling, glossolalia, and even song, but without having discovered the trick of maintaining elaborate, shared, memorized dictionaries of verbal labels for people, places, things, actions, etc.

There's a parallel between the unrealized potential of that situation and the situation we're in today with regard to the Internet. The computing/networking hardware we've deployed can potentially be used (programmed) in ways that will allow us to improve upon our current capabilities as significantly as the invention of speech allowed prelinguistic people to improve upon theirs.

Speech lets us convey, with a brief utterance, any idea to which a phonetic code (a word) has been assigned. We can utter several phonemes per second, thanks to the vocal dexterity conferred by the fine musculature of our lips and tongues, with which we manipulate the sounds that we generate using our diaphragms and vocal cords. This system, combined with the mental capacity to keep track of indefinitely many ideas, allowed our ancestors to share and compare precise information far more efficiently than ever before, apparently far surpassing, in many ways, what could be accomplished by any other beings on Earth.

Now, many millennia later, with our globe-girdling network of rapid, flexible devices, each possessing powerful processors along with sensitive input and vivid output capabilities, we have a system that, if used correctly, can enable us to present and imbibe information with an efficiency another gigantic order of magnitude beyond the efficiency of speech, or of writing. Writing transforms spoken language into a durable, visual medium, but our technology can now evoke ideas far more rapidly and flexibly by presenting complex, dynamic, audiovisual structures whose meaning we can apprehend much more directly, without relying on memorized correlations of ideas to phonetic or alphabetic codes.

So we can compare the current status of our species to that of our nearly-linguistic ancestors. This applies whether or not the above depiction of human prehistory is factually accurate. If the depiction is seriously flawed, or even totally fictional, then we can view the comparison as, at worst, a fitting analogy to a fictional scenario. Or we could use the analogy of a babbling toddler, who will be ready, any day now, to begin speaking, or any number of other analogies. The main point -- the very salient and seemingly somewhat underappreciated thing -- is that we're right on the verge of amazingly new and improved abilities vis-à-vis communication, expression, learning, etc.

Speech, writing, and then... something else

Much of what we're currently doing with our technology involves electronically transmitting spoken and written language and recorded video. When the electronic images and sounds have begun responding continuously, and helpfully, to our input, guided by vast troves of available online wisdom, then we will have created something new, which we could call a medium or modality, a new form of language or communication, etc. It doesn't seem to matter which of these labels we use, as long as we understand that we're discussing something radically advanced, relative to spoken and written language.

Rather than memorizing and deploying phonetic (spoken) or alphabetic (written) codes, we'll be memorizing and deploying relatively intuitively representative audiovisual objects. These representations won't tax our memories the way our current language does. Dealing with vivid, evocative images and sounds is naturally easier than dealing with sequences of phonemes or of textual characters. A string of spoken words or a block of text is relatively opaque until we scan through it, at least cursorily. The audiovisual representations of the new medium, by contrast, will convey at least some meaning even when we only glance at them. Then, if we want to learn more about such a representation, the option of delving more deeply into it - zooming into it or summoning additional/related vivid/evocative representations - will be readily available. If we want to learn how an object relates to any other particular object, or if we want to perform any other possible operation with something, these options too can be a few taps, or drags and drops, away.

So the meanings of everything we experience through the new medium will be relatively intuitively obvious, and when something isn't obvious enough, we'll have relatively easy and direct ways to learn about it. With people around the world communicating through representative, dynamic images/sounds instead of relatively opaque words, we can expect to expeditiously overcome a great many misunderstandings, language barriers, and other limitations.

A high, high, high priority

We spend billions of person-hours every day interacting with our connected devices. Once we've optimized the operations of our interfaces, our screen time will be vastly more fruitful and enjoyable, and we'll require significantly less screen time to perform a given action. We'll be able to accomplish multitudes of tasks that currently involve reading/writing or listening/speaking far more efficiently and effectively. (This includes learning about everything from bartending to Buddhism and beyond. The time and effort that learning requires are surely among the major constraints limiting the advancement of our species. To accelerate learning is to accelerate progress. Even skills whose acquisition requires extensive hands-on experience/practice and/or interpersonal interaction very often also entail a large book-learning component. In a virtuous cycle, our interfaces will help us get smarter faster, which will help us feed ever more intelligence back into the network, etc.) And we can expect that with the new medium there will emerge entirely new tasks, new actions, new ways of seeing and doing, possibilities and phenomena that we can't yet anticipate.

With such a prospect looming so large, it's sensible for us to sideline, or put on hold, some other priorities as we commit significant resources to the project of bringing this new medium to fruition.

Hopefully I've sufficiently communicated my reasons for being interested in this topic. In the future, rather than continuing to use words to theorize about the forthcoming medium, I plan to focus on helping to actually create it, possibly including the creation of mockups to illustrate some ideas.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Zhergish memetic transformation

Memetic transformation

Our efforts to change the world for the better take many forms. We can speak in general terms, and say that every moment is an opportunity for positive manifestation and transformation. We can also categorize our efforts/manifestations/transformations in various ways. The following categories aren't necessarily exhaustive, mutually exclusive, or rigorously defined.
  •  Internal: exploring the universes within; changing ourselves from the inside out
  •  External: engaging with others, with the environment; social communication and cooperation
  •  Intra-institutional: operating in the context of existing institutions
  •  Extra-institutional: operating in the context of less formal or newly emerging systems

(There are times when an appropriate/optimal course of action entails modifying or replacing our institutions. These actions can be intra- or extra-institutional, depending on the extent to which the institutions provide serviceable and accessible mechanisms to facilitate their own modification/replacement. Sometimes, when institutions are due, or overdue, for change, and their workings have in the meantime become markedly outdated or onerous, an optimal course of action may entail evading or countering those workings.)

The above is a fairly arbitrary list of some categories of actions that can have positive effects in the world. The main point of listing these is simply to emphasize that such actions come in many varieties.

The Zherg project employs a strategy for effecting positive change through what we could categorize as memetic activity. Memes have acquired a reputation as a relatively frivolous form of communication. But the word "meme" in its original sense simply refers to the uniquely human modalities by which information replicates and evolves. So memetic activity is a very broad category, no more or less inherently worthwhile than any other broad category of activity.

When we're operating internally, constructive actions may include meditation, introspection, dreamwork, and the cultivation of parapsychological abilities. Some potentially worthwhile external activities might be conversation, intimacy, various types of cooperation, etc. Examples of positive intra-institutional efforts can include participation in established economies or markets, voting, and so on. Extra-institutional tactics could include demonstrations, occupations, vigils, autonomous zones, etc. And in memetic modes, we perform the valuable actions of formulating, spreading, and building upon, chunks of information, also known as memes.

For a long time, there's been the idea that some key memes might emerge, which could facilitate rapid and comprehensive transformations of our psycho-social landscape. Let's look at the Z3 Paradigm Framework as a candidate for fulfilling these expectations.

The positive components

Very broadly speaking: Religious and spiritual frameworks have often emphasized bigheartedness, universal love, valuing and respecting everyone, etc. But such frameworks have often emphasized uncritical acceptance of, or adherence to, specific constructs, and have sometimes explicitly downgraded the role of the intellect or the mind. Scientific and secular philosophical frameworks, on the other hand, have often emphasized a clear-eyed pursuit of truth, but have often downplayed or ignored heart/ethics/morality/values, or have fallen short of an all-embracing ethical viewpoint.

The positive message of the Z3 framework clearly and succinctly emphasizes the importance of both heart and mind in equal measure. Each of these relates to one of the two enumerated positive components of Z3. Thus we have a balanced outline, on a very general level, for a radical restructuring and optimization of our lives and our civilization. It can be treated as "formal," in the sense that it can be explicitly adopted by individuals and groups as a creed or mission statement and can replace formal systems based on money and hierarchical authority, but it doesn't bind us to any structure, any rules, beyond a bare minimum set of principles. These principles are fairly easy to agree with, though truly, deeply implementing them may require time and effort. Explicitly adopting them can help focus our efforts in that direction.

This sort of framework can help us clarify and resolve many chronically intractable controversies. Let's consider abortion. A zhergish approach would entail concern for the well-being of all beings, including fetuses, but would recognize that our world teems with life, all kinds of life, continuously emerging, living, and dying. Even the most loving, compassionate, thoughtful, creative actions will involve damaging and even destroying some forms of life. We must use our wisdom to make optimal choices, always considering the long-term interests of everyone. We destroy animals' lives by including meat in our diets, but this seems to be important (at least historically) for optimally, or adequately, nourishing human beings, who may play a key role in helping all life on Earth to migrate into space and flourish in realms beyond Earth. This could be key for allowing Terran life to survive when the Sun turns into a red giant in a few billion years. Likewise, in the full moral and planetary context, it makes sense for a being with a complex, highly-developed intelligence, a member of a technological species, to be able to decide whether or not to undertake the risks and rigors of giving birth, and for her to be supported in her decision. To argue otherwise seems to entail arbitrarily or dogmatically privileging beings with human DNA over other beings and disregarding pertinent attributes and circumstances. As technology advances, we can look forward to new solutions such as high-quality artificial meat and the transplantation of fetuses into artificial wombs.

The negative components

The two positive components of Z3 seem to be, in many ways, the most important parts of the framework by far. These are the components that actually describe the structure of the new paradigm. It may seem unnecessary, inadvisable, or suboptimal to include the "negative components," the parts of the current paradigm that are to be discontinued. Why not just focus on the positive and allow the old, obsolescent components to recede when they're superseded by the new? Might we be "giving power" to these negative components by naming and discussing them - exactly the opposite of the desired effect? Might we simply be feeding negativity and resentment?

One reason to include the negative components is that the positive components, while definitely crucial, may not by themselves provide a satisfactorily compelling picture of the proposed transformation. Each of the two positive components reflects familiar ideals, to which humans have aspired for so long that they may at first glance appear clichéd, worn out, anodyne, banal, bromidic, trite, platitudinous, etc. To finally, truly live up to these ideals will undoubtedly be utterly transformational, but so much skepticism, cynicism, and fatigue have proliferated with respect to these ideals, that some additional components seem important in order to vividly communicate the shape of the proposed change in a way that overcomes people's habitual reactions. By mentioning that the change will entail growing beyond some specific, very prominent aspects of our present psycho-social reality, we can build a more complete and relatable picture of the paradigm shift.

These aspects, what we're calling the negative components, have been so prominent that without explicitly naming them, it may be difficult for people to imagine doing without them. Even much of the theorizing and advocacy that's widely regarded as highly radical, and much of the science fiction that's widely regarded as highly speculative and far-out, often include one or both of these aspects of our current reality in the future scenarios they describe.

We may, as we're still in the process of shifting the paradigm, participate in or encounter projects, trends and trajectories with zhergish characteristics. Without a zhergish framework as a reference, the fact that these phenomena lack the components of hierarchical authority and/or quid pro quo transactions may be held against them. The historical prominence of hierarchical authority and quid pro quo transactions may engender the automatic assumption that their absence is a sign of dysfunction. Movements may be criticized for lacking specific leaders, or for providing ways to function without buying and selling in competitive marketplaces. By explicitly detailing a vision of a new paradigm that doesn't include these components, we can help create space for such phenomena to flourish.

By including exactly two negative components, Z3 seems to strike a key balance. Many philosophies, frameworks, systems of thought, etc. have attempted to define one component that subsumes all, or most, or at least vast amounts, of the undesirable phenomena of the world. A single "enemy," whether conceived of as an actual being or as a more abstract entity, has been the focus of the negative aspects of such theories. ("evil"... "money"... "money in politics"... Korzybski seemed to lay quite a lot of blame on "identification"...) Such an approach often seems to oversimplify matters. On the other hand, when a theory includes larger numbers of negative components, it runs the risk of simply creating a laundry list of complaints without getting to the real roots of the problems.

When we apply a serious analysis, the two negative components of Z3 readily emerge as two major aspects of our current paradigm that are intimately connected to the fact that we haven't satisfactorily implemented the two positive components. The negative components, which we could roughly express as "money AND politics," have often been seen as adversaries, as two competing centers or systems of power and influence, but upon deeper analysis, we can see them as two sides of one pre-zhergish coin.


If we want to build a world that incorporates a healthy, ever-evolving approach to truth and values, then let's embrace models like Z3 that can help us do that. Cheers!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Postverbal, part 1

As our protagonist lounges in a recliner, sipping kombucha and enjoying the gently swaying trees, mostly clear skies, and fragrant air of a warm, early-summer day in Cascadia, something fleetingly occurs to him regarding his own name, Zen Coolidge.

Growing up, people often complimented him on his name. "COOL name!" - a nice enough, if somewhat obvious and literal-minded, comment to hear frequently from new acquaintances. If names mattered - and they did matter in many ways in those relatively superficial times, the late 20th century of Zen's childhood and the early 21st century of his early adulthood - then his served him reasonably well.

But now, it's been quite a while since the last time he saw or heard or used the words "Zen Coolidge." Have you ever suddenly remembered an old friend whom you hadn't thought about in what seems like a very long time? It feels a bit like that when Zen thinks of his name.

It's not that he has changed his name or assumed a different identity. It's just that people don't use words much at all anymore.

Zen lives in a postverbal era. Words can help to convey the events of this sci-fi scenario to those who still live in a verbal era. But postverbal people like Zen largely think and communicate in other ways. Words are nostalgic.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

the Internet as the AGI hardware substrate

What type of hardware substrate do you envision for the first artificial general intelligence (AGI)?

Many scenarios seem to envision AGI emerging in a particular computation system, and/or perhaps in a robot or robots. Many scenarios involve the system being connected to the Internet, as a crucial aspect.

What I tend to envision is that when an AGI first emerges, the substrate will be millions or billions of Internet-connected devices, along with their human operators. Not only will the collective computing power of all these Internet-connected devices dwarf the computing power of any particular system, but the inclusion of millions/billions of humans in the mix may also be crucial.

The software platforms through which billions of people currently interact -- Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. -- are (compared to what seems possible) fairly stupid/limited, focused significantly on goals like maximizing users' engagement/attention in order to more profitably sell their attention to advertisers. But creating more intelligent ways of connecting these existing biological intelligences (ourselves), to each other and to software and information, could well help us congeal into a more effective, coherent global mind, which would begin to have many of the capabilities that we expect AGI will have.

Such scenarios have been envisioned by science fiction authors and others. The salient strategy that seems to suggest itself is for AGI projects to be structured as social media platforms. I've blogged about some of what I'd like to see such platforms do in the early stages:

  • focus on post-verbal communication, using graphics and nonverbal sounds instead of words, pervasively and increasingly.
  • focus on giving users the greatest possible control over the behavior of their interfaces.

This can facilitate vastly more efficient cross-pollination of information and of programming components: We'll see, in this graphical environment, visual representations of information, including the tools that others are using to filter/curate/manage their info-streams. We can take those tools and plug them into our own control panels, which regulate the behavior of our interfaces/info-streams, allowing us to more efficiently locate and create additional information (including additional tools for info-stream filtration/curation/management), and so on.

This strategy seems like a great way to optimize our screen time and speed us toward optimal cultural evolution, if nothing else. And I suggest that through it could emerge something we would feel compelled to recognize as AGI.

This is not to say that existing and future AGI projects with complex cognitive architectures running on particular systems are misguided strategies. It's just to say that such architectures can - and for maximum impact, should - be deployed in an open, distributed, social media context, contributing maximally to the creation of optimal experiences for Net users and to the growing intelligence of the Network (all interconnected devices and people) as a whole.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The obsolescence of words

Words remain a crucial technology for coordinating our efforts, for accomplishing cooperative tasks -- from preparing a meal to launching a rocket ship. And words remain a crucial medium through which we perform less tangible (but equally valuable) activities -- learning, imbibing the wisdom and creativity of the ages, sharing experiences, expressing heartfelt feelings and thoughts, getting to know each other. Even solitary activities like thinking, planning, organizing, and doing chores, involve words.

And yet, along with the ubiquity and extreme importance of words, there's something else about them that we ought to appreciate: They're potentially on the verge of obsolescence.

At this moment words remain a crucial part of life in multitudinous ways because we don't yet possess communication systems that can replace them. But we have the ability to create such systems. It's entirely possible for us to create, in fairly short order, media that will:
  • do many or most of the jobs that words do, and
  • do those jobs much more effectively.
The salient point to appreciate here is that the effort and resources required to create these new systems are minuscule, compared to the benefits that will result. Improved information systems, improved modes of expression and communication, facilitate creative and imaginative growth and progress. And internal, intangible aspects of growth and progress are directly linked to external, tangible aspects. Constructing post-verbal communication systems is a vital part of achieving vastly greater prosperity, i.e., material abundance for everyone.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A tale of three paradigms [last edited 5-21-18]

It seems potentially helpful to distinguish among three major psycho-social paradigms, and to assign a familiar mathematical symbol as a label for each.

1. >

Let's try to imagine a relatively simple form of self-reflecting consciousness - a very basic awareness of self and others as such. We might associate this with animals, who generally don't seem to invent, memorize, and deploy elaborate symbolic ontologies the way we do, and from/with whom we've been posited to have evolved. But for present purposes it seems immaterial whether you think we evolved from slightly less sophisticated beings, devolved from slightly more sophisticated beings, are molded by an omnipotent being, are running on the computers of aliens in their parents' basements, etc. We've all probably had the experience of feeling "half awake." Groggy. In a rudimentary sort of state of mind. Operating largely "on autopilot."

Our priorities under these circumstances are necessarily fairly simple, straightforward, and have often tended strongly toward matters of immediate personal comfort, self-preservation, finding safety, security. As we learn and change more about ourselves, we can improve the instincts that guide us when we're groggy. But over the years and centuries, in various types of stupors, we've often perceived others as possible threats or impediments to our own comfort, security, etc., or merely as exploitable means to our own ends. In our relatively single-minded drive to escape danger and reach our immediate goals, we've sometimes stepped on others. The impulse to get out-from-under, to climb up to safety, to success, has entailed a lot of what we've come to label inconsiderateness, predation, aggression, violence, victimization, domination, subjugation, etc.

And these sorts of behaviors have comprised a significant part of our story on this planet. We speak of the war of all against all. The dog-eat-dog world. Might makes right. And so on.

The '>' sign, resembling to an arrow pointing to the right (the direction we go when we read and write) can represent a simple movement in a definite direction motivated by any felt imperative or goal. It can also represent the impulse to come out on top in a struggle for survival and/or resources, to be "more than" or "greater than."

2. =

Unsatisfied with the prevailing levels of sin and strife, we've attempted over the centuries to find a better way. We've noticed the impulse to be "greater than," and we've identified it as a major problem to be remedied. Sometimes there's been the impulse to go in the opposite direction, to try to achieve righteousness by being "less than," through self-sacrifice, submission, self-denial or asceticism, etc. But the attempt to achieve various types of equality, as a solution for our psycho-social ills, has been adopted in very large-scale, systemic ways.

Love thy neighbor as thyself. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We speak of being created equal, equal rights, equal representation, equality before the law, equality of opportunity, etc. By considering both ourselves and others, in equal measure (of various sorts), we found a strategy that worked more nicely and more effectively on large scales, compared to raw, vicious power struggles. We still compete for resources, and are expected to be principally concerned with securing our own personal wealth, but we temper the competition by practicing empathy (engendered by putting ourselves in others' proverbial shoes), and by implementing game rules aimed at giving everyone a fair shot.

One of our most widespread economic customs is the exchange of value for value, the two parties of a transaction giving each other items of roughly equal worth. (Let's make a deal!) This way, neither side seems to be taking undue advantage of the other. Things balance out. Even-steven. Fair and square. The centrality of equality in our transactional economics is reflected in the two parallel lines, of equal length, that appear within the symbols of some currencies (₴, ₦, ₽, ₮, ₩, ¥, etc.).

The '=' sign has been a key tool for making precise expressions in mathematics and coding. And in terms of the paradigms this essay describes, moving from half-awake, tunnel-vision-like, and paranoid '>' orientations to '=' orientations has helped us get along and work together much more effectively, and has helped great masses of people to flourish much more fully.


As mentioned above, there's disagreement about the origins of our species. But we can agree that it's possible for us to learn and grow in very significant ways. Many practices, religions, and philosophies over the centuries have aimed toward astronomically higher consciousness and better behavior.

In his 1901 book, Richard Maurice Bucke profiled people who had manifested what he called Cosmic Consciousness. Richard anticipated that this type of consciousness would continue to become more common, and eventually would thoroughly "occupy and possess the earth." Alfred Korzybski's Science and Sanity (1933) gives techniques for cultivating a kind of optimal flexibility - in Alfred's terms, a "full conditionality of our semantic responses," an "∞-valued orientation." These books make many interesting points and observations, though they also reflect in some glaring ways the limited consciousness of the times in which they were produced.

The Zherg project (2017-18) gives a prescription for a paradigm based on indefinite expansion of awareness and on the value of all beings.

When we've sufficiently opened our hearts and minds, we'll no longer treat each other as adversaries in a contest for survival or resources. We'll be able to leave behind our equality-based political-economic customs and institutions: If we're no longer playing games for resources, then obviously there will be no reason to be concerned with making the games fair. We'll treat everyone well, not just as a result of relating the treatment of others to the treatment of oneself, but as a result of considering others worthy of love in their own right. We'll coexist and cooperate harmoniously and synergetically. All beings will always be equal, in a very real, very fundamental sense, but infinity seems to be a better emblem for this emerging paradigm of universal consciousness and universal love.


Although many of us have, in various ways, become associated with, or even, in effect, become spokespeople for, one or another of these paradigms, it seems very helpful to look at them as three categories of tendencies, all of which are present in each of us. I do think that the more aware we become of these tendencies, the more we'll sublimate the > and = tendencies into the ∞ tendencies. Just by definition, when we frame the issues this way, the ∞ paradigm seems to be an optimal goal to aim for, a state of affairs which, if things go well, will increasingly subsume and transcend the others.

There've been bitter struggles and tensions between the > and = paradigms, continuing to this day. These struggles have done a lot to distract our attention from the beckoning promises of ∞ tendencies and possibilities. We've sometimes felt that there's much remedial education or maturation, and/or remedial equality or fairness, to be achieved before we can realistically consider trying to implement such utopian, idealistic aspirations. But we've been implementing them all along, in many different ways, big and small, reflecting the infinity within each of us, as beings whose eternal, perfect nature has been sometimes occluded and forgotten. And each such implementation has prefigured a possible planetary future where ∞ paradigms have thoroughly prevailed on macro scales.

"Utopian" ideas and proposals have often been dismissed as unproven or unrealistic. But when we consider the instances in which we've manifested ∞ tendencies, we find that "utopian" programs have in fact been implemented successfully in multitudes of times and places. Systems connected to less utopian paradigms have ignored, or even actively undermined or destroyed many of these ∞ manifestations. The more we consciously amplify our ∞ tendencies, the closer we can come to a true planetary utopia.