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George Mobus
Associate Professor, Computer Science & Systems, Institute of Technology, University of Washington Tacoma, author: Principles of Systems Science, Springer, ISBN: 978-1-4939-1919-2
Interests: Systems Science: systems science is the science of understanding how the world works. it is at the core of every other science. Given our energy and material consumption, and governance of our systems will we be able to sustain all life for the long-run. The Human Condition: the human brain has evolved , our capacity to share abstract/conceptual information, and our ability to cooperate in complex ways have advanced us to dominate the Ecos. but, should we confiscate nature to our selfish purposes? Do we have the wisdom to find a balance between our own desires, and the good for the whole earth?
Recent Activity
I'm sitting in Newberg,OR at my sister-in-law's house, just ten miles from the edge of totality. It is nearly 8:30 am and as soon as breakfast is over we will, perhaps, drive a little further south so as to catch... Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2017 at Question Everything
Thanks all for comments. I won't be able to respond individually due to severe time constraints. I am preparing some comments on the interpretation of the Charlottesville, debacle. I see it in the context of a much bigger, global perspective. George
Toggle Commented Aug 15, 2017 on Anticipating the End at Question Everything
A democracy works only if the electorate are 1) intelligent1, 2) knowledgeable2, and 3) informed3. None of these criteria are true of the United States of America today (or actually of any country). It should be no surprise that the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2017 at Question Everything
@Don S. I am familiar with Sapolsky's work but not the other author. Thanks for the heads up. I will look into them. *Context is everything *Anything you can measure in the nervous system can be changed by experience I tend to steer clear of absolutes if I can. I agree context is very important, but it is not everything. That would be tantamount to returning to the concept of the 'blank slate,' something we gave up a long time ago. Similarly, there are any number of parameters in the nervous system that you will find to be stable under most nominal conditions. And things like synaptic strength do not modify linearly in any case. ----------------------------------------- @Godofredo, ... I find that most of the books around are just half way opinions To this judgement you must consider that you have or know the other half. Or are you just expressing deep disappointment in what has been written (and promised perhaps) vs. how things have continued to decline. I certainly share that sentiment. However, I still find there are new things to think about every day. And I appreciate the authors who provide me with information or challenges to consider more than what I already have. I agree with your final conclusion. "Big corrections" may be required but then the system is corrected to what? ------------------------------------- George
Toggle Commented Jul 22, 2017 on Summer reading list at Question Everything
I thought I would share some of the books I have been reading lately. All relate to the theme of watching the world fall apart. The End of Normal, by James K. Galbraith (son of John Kenneth Galbraith), the Lloyd... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2017 at Question Everything
@GaryA, Thanks for that link. I started reading the manifesto and it does look interesting. --------------------------------------- @EnkiAnuna, Thanks. What else is there to do. I hope my work on systems science and working with the global systems science community will come to something. At least it keeps me busy and out of trouble! -------------------------------------- @Godofredo Aravena, That is a worthy sentiment to be sure. I take your point re: witnessing vs. being part of. In some of my writings about the nature of sapience I point out that one of the unique things about our brand of consciousness is an ability to both be in the system and mentally project ourselves outside of the system - as if to see is from a distance. I think this is the basis of transcendence in many forms. For example, mentally witnessing a system of which we are a part is a necessary condition for self-awareness, e.g., seeing ourselves in the system acting on the other subsystems. Ergo, both perspectives can be true at once. ------------------------------------ George
First the MENA collapse. Now the EU collapse. What is next? The Trump administration provides clues. Depletion of fossil fuels. Climate chaos. Leadership failures. You are witnessing the end. Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2017 at Question Everything
@craig, we are definitely in a world of trouble. This world is coming to an end soon. What will replace it? ------------------------------------- @garyA, Colorful and apt. All those who are eusapient should be looking for their escape plans. --------------------------------- @Godofredo, Look back to my writings on sapience and eusapience. The selection criteria for the latter is at hand. ____________________________________ @Michael, It no longer matters how the "world works." It doesn't work. We are way beyond explanation of how the world works. We are in chaos. Nothing else matters. _____________________________________ George
Hamburg Germany is just a taste. The G-20 is the remnant of a failed economic ideology that more people are recognizing as the destruction of our world. You can hardly call them leaders. Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2017 at Question Everything
@Enki, It does, doesn't it. _________________________________________ @Molly, Glad you indicated "first" husband!!! If you get to Tacoma again, let me know. _________________________________________ @Tom, The ISBPE organization is still not very organized! At the meeting we had a business session in which it was revealed that there are still a number of unfilled "positions", including web guru! This meeting was a work shop so the presentations were not really "papers" as such. I don't think there will be a submission of papers, even though some of us have tried to prepare such. If I get a chance, I will try to post what I wrote. The main topic was EROI, but there was a considerable amount of dissension as to what that should mean. One significant problem in expanding the boundaries of EROI analysis is that most of the data are reported in dollar amounts and the analysts are forced to convert dollars into joules for consistency. The problem is that dollars are incredibly lousy measures of anything anymore. Financialization of the economy has distorted the value of dollars so much that nothing really meaningful can be said about energy costs converted from dollar measures. This will continue to be a major problem in BPE for some time to come, I'm afraid. ________________________________________ @Godofredo, Got your email, but will need time to digest - long! Not sure that one can answer the question about how the collapse will unfold. Too many variables, I think. Re: (in your email) the nature of evolution, and my "faith" in it, it seems to me you may be working from an incorrect consideration of evolution. It is not based on pure random events (and magic), as you suggested, though random events do play a role (i.e. mutations). Rather, it follows a pattern of unfoldment (covered in my book - Principles of Systems Science). That is why I asked the question about trajectories! ____________________________________________ George
@MM, Thanks very much for the link. I will investigate further and perhaps resurface my Sapience book! I can't necessarily address the probability/plausibility at present, but will dig deeper. Thanks again. George
I'm at the 8th almost annual Biophysical Economics meeting, this year in Montana (Flathead Lake Bio Station). The subject of discussions continues to be the energy issues that are an ever growing threat to humanity. There is such an incredible... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2017 at Question Everything
AP, Dateline: Saturday, April 1. Seattle Washington Computer Scientists Discover a New Realm of Information, An Alternate Reality In a news release today from the University of Washington, the Institute of Technology located on the Tacoma, Wa. campus, announced the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2017 at Question Everything
Hi Don. I am sorry for delays in response. I retired only to take on a number of publication duties and now am a slave to publication deadlines worse than when I was in academia! I will take a look at Nora's work. I met her and her mother at ISSS 2016 but I missed her talk. Get back to you as soon as I can! George
The elections are over. The new president is installed and has already brought chaos to the world, not just the US. History may not repeat itself exactly, but it does prove we humans have gotten into cycles of the same... Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2017 at Question Everything
@Don, Got your e-mail. Will follow up via that route. -------------------------------------- @Steve, Good to hear from you again. It probably won't surprise you to learn that the issue of population overshoot comes up rarely among systems scientists, probably owing to the dangerous political territory it enters. At least one wing of SS actually thinks that SS can solve the problem by increasing the carrying capacity of the Earth. I've had a few discussions with several of them (the techno-optimists) and I don't think their world-views are going to be changed easily. For the last four years I've been part of a four-way meeting with David Pimentel, Jack Alpert, and Ken Smails over the issue of how to convince the world of the magnitude and causes of the problems we face. Every year we look at different strategies and tactics and every year we conclude that given the prevailing delusions (e.g. the American Dream is still feasible) and momentum our efforts are not likely to make a difference in the majority attitudes. I suppose we will meet again as long as we're all alive (we're getting up there in age!) Part of what we discuss is getting a handle on characterizing the optimal population size given certain assumptions about energy and other resources that could be available for such a population. Even this exercise is problematic. My own perspective is that, of course, we need to continue to try, hope for the best, but I expect the worst. In my new role, I do expect to help guide the book series along paths that make systems science understood as the best way for us to fully understand our situation and develop some kind of solution. Wish me luck. George
Thanks all for your comments. The funny thing about retiring from full time teaching is that my so-called spare time has evaporated with these new duties. It is getting hard to spend the time needed to read these comments and provide an adequate response. May I suggest that if you have a thesis you want to share with the other readers, then feel free to use the commenting facilities here. If you would like me to read something please send me an e-mail with a summary of points you think I should take a look at and I will respond either to the e-mail or to the comment if I have any substantive things to say. For readers who have started reading lately I would recommend taking a look at the archives for older articles that might contain some useful morsels re: what I have already covered - topics that occasionally show up in comments. For those interested in the background on Sapience you could look at the working papers that are available through this blog site. If you are really interested in the topic you can e-mail me with a request for access to the whole book draft, available on-line in pdf format. There is a lot of information in that book re: explanations of mind, consciousness, language, and much more re: the evolution of human beings. Thanks to all. George
@Don, Thanks. I'd be interested in whether Siegel explains how the emergence comes about. I am always a bit hesitant about claims of emergence that don't include explication of the auto-organizing processes that produce the emergence. And it is also important to examine the interactions that the emergent process (e.g. mind) has with its environment to see how such interactions arise from the emergence. I see too many authors claim emergence as an explanation in its own right as if that is a sufficient explanation. My co-author and I covered this in our book - chapters on auto-organization, emergence and on evolution. George
Opening on a Hopeful Note I have been named Editor in Chief for the International Federation for Systems Research (Vienna Austria) book series, published by Springer, “Systems Science & Engineering”, previously managed by George Klir. I am deeply honoured to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2016 at Question Everything
Dear Readers (those still reading!), My deepest apologies for not responding to prior post comments for a while now. I appreciate the many thoughtful comments and regret that I haven't had the time to go through them carefully and responded... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2016 at Question Everything
Humanity Needs a New Social Arrangement and New Understanding of Reality What follows is an exercise in fantasy or at least futility. Note that while all of the below are conceivable in principle, give some thought to what it would... Continue reading
Posted Oct 20, 2016 at Question Everything
@Iodan, You seem to be using the word "sapience" more broadly than I am. In my writing I try to distinguish sapience as a brain function that can give rise to wisdom (knowledge). There may very well be a societal equivalent mechanism, e.g. what government should be (but isn't). I think it important to make scale distinctions and stick to them for clarity. ------------------------------------- @Don S. Symbiosis and commensulism are two examples of the nature of fuzzy boundary conditions in systems, one of the chief reasons that identifying exactly what the system of interest is is so difficult. Suggest you look at the works of Antonio Damasio re: influences of affect on decisions making (one kind of intuitional influence). ------------------------------------- @Jordan, Re: Pinker's observation. While it is true that the carrying capacity has been artificially extended, the reality is that the population has actually expanded at a much greater rate relatively speaking. This has become especially clear since the 1970s when the peak in net free energy per capita happened. The US history since those days has been mostly about trying to take over the major sources of oil in the Middle East! What we have failed to take into account is the cost of military power to make that happen exceeds the profit from the effort! Additionally, and coincidentally, the 1970s marked the peak of growth of multiple factor productivity, especially the contribution from technologies. In spite of the small blip in productivity increases due to computing and communications in the early 1990s, the general trend has been negative. The slow down in productivity growth (and hence economic growth in general) started back in the 1960s, peaked in the mid to late 1970s and has been in decline (mostly) ever since (see: Gordon, Robert J., The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War). Pinker's general conclusion is that the increase in passivity is likely due to the increasing role of government(s) in daily life. But there has to be some mental factor that makes it possible. ------------------------------------- @Davy, In the final installment I start off by suggesting that the recommendations I will make are an exercise in fantasy if not futility. The point of everything I have written is to make clear how unlikely any form of current society is to survive into the future! I have made it clear over the years that I see no chance of us getting through this in one piece. An evolutionary bottleneck is, in my opinion, a given. The question is are there representatives of higher sapience in the current population that might be able to survive and give rise to a new kind of human being at some time long into the future past the bottleneck? I have met a few individuals over the years that I suspect would be good candidates. But they are rare indeed. Especially given that they need to be young enough to have reproductive potential in front of them. Given that wisdom doesn't start showing itself in any meaningful, observable way until one is approaching elderhood, it will be a matter of chance and selection - evolution - to decide. ------------------------------------- George
Toggle Commented Oct 16, 2016 on A New Human Society - Part 4 at Question Everything
Higher Levels of Consciousness Defining Consciousness Let's start with a relatively simple definition of consciousness. Let us say that consciousness is the property of a system that allows it to be aware of its environment. Moreover, consciousness allows a system... Continue reading
Posted Oct 13, 2016 at Question Everything
@Liodan, Let me direct readers to your blog site so they can get some background: My current blog has to be understood in the context of much of what I have written over the years. If you look at some of that work you will find that I have been paying attention to anthro-sociology over the last several decades. Not sure what you read (into) what I wrote, but I assure you I have researched the cultural evolution of humanity. ----------------------------------- @Craig M., Thanks. That quote from Mencken nails it perfectly. ------------------------------------ @Don S., I like Kahneman quite a lot. However, he partitions thinking into just the two time domain processes. In my view there is yet another time domain process - sapience - which is the basis for wisdom, not just rational thought. Kahneman's fame, along with Tversky's came from demonstrating to economists that their concept and models of rational agents in economic decisions were bunk. Many other psychologists, however, maintain that wisdom constitutes another dimension of thinking that is not included in the two system model. " By ideology, I mean that we have internalized certain rules, so that in our Fast Thinking we default to the rules rather than to immediate sensory experience." I think this is a reasonable characterization as far as it goes, but it doesn't address the so-called think-tank intellectuals who might be using slow thinking but a faulty set of premises if not faulty logic. The premises come from the ideology. The logic is usually a process of rationalizing to desired conclusions based on the emotional commitments to the ideological propositions. Something is missing from a simple two time domain model of thinking processes and I think it might be characterized as a very slow, background and largely unconscious thinking that is the basis of wisdom. ------------------------------------ George
Why We Do What is Wrong — Holding Ideologies Part 1 — asking the question: “How Can the Human Social System Survive?” Part 2 — looking at some of the things that we are doing that are wrong in this... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2016 at Question Everything