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George Mobus
Associate Professor, Computer Science & Systems, School of Engineering and Technology (was 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
The smoke has cleared from the Seattle area skies, for the time being. And rains are here and in the forecast. We very much need the moisture. Since my teenage years, reading apocalyptic sci-fi, I always wondered what the end... Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2020 at Question Everything
Given all of events going on in the world today: The good news is, it seems to me, that mankind is going through a major mental evolution. That is the noosphere may be going through a phase transition that could... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2020 at Question Everything
Might the SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus be the black swan event that puts us past the tipping point? The virus itself, and the disease it causes, Covid-19, is certainly dangerous in its own right (though the actual death rate is... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2020 at Question Everything
I hope this finds you well and, at least for now, safe. When I sat down a few weeks ago to start sketching what I would write about for this post, and after several false starts it dawned on me... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2019 at Question Everything
All, If you are interested in the idea of sapience as a unique human characteristic, which is, unfortunately, only weakly present in the majority of the population, then please read my book. We can all form opinions about what is and isn't genetic or nurture vs. nature. But whether those opinions conform to reality is dependent on scientific facts examined systemically. I addressed the MPP in a reply to my previous blog. George
Toggle Commented Sep 24, 2019 on Autumnal Equinox - 2019 at Question Everything
All, Apologies for my lateness in responses. Things are happening and demands are more than should be the case for a retiree! My Autumnal Equinox blog, now up, may supply some thoughts in answer to points made in your commentaries. As always I expect nothing from the current governments and so as long as the citizens permit them to govern, they are committing species suicide! The truly sapient among us will drop out of the social structure and prepare for the worst. George
All, I have attempted to show that humans have transcended mere animalness vis-a-vis the properties of sapience in the book. So, for example, the maximum power principle may be (to some degree) overridden by governance. Not too dissimilar to the way in which power dissipation (through oxidation) is controlled in metabolism. Power is still dissipated but over a longer time frame. Recommend you read the book and consider the arguments before dismissing the thoughts I've expressed in this blog. George
All, Apologies for my lateness of response. Retirement finds me involved in more projects than is reasonable! What I am suggesting is that there is a universal evolution as the process that produces increasingly complex organization and that humans in their current form may be seed components for the next round of complexification. But only if there is further evolution (selection) of sapience. Evolution is always a kind of crap shoot! The only thing we can say definitely about it is that it WILL happen as long as there are energy gradients in the universe. @Gary, Paul has a Facebook group. You might try searching for him there.
Toggle Commented Sep 24, 2019 on Could There Be Any Hope? at Question Everything
Several people have said that the link I provided for the Doomstead diner doesn't work(?) It did for me. But if you use RE's link to Youtube you should be able to get the interview.
Toggle Commented Sep 23, 2019 on Autumnal Equinox - 2019 at Question Everything
Three Books You Should Read and a Big Question First the question. How did we get here? Here, of course, means the impending collapse of global civilization, of technologically-based cultures, of the majority of the human population, of the great... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2019 at Question Everything
There Is a Technical and Feasible Solution to Reducing CO2 - But... This is not a claim that we can solve the climate change problem. It certainly isn't a solution that will allow us to continue BAU. I cling to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2019 at Question Everything
Dear Readers, A quick note to let you know that my book on sapience (ideas first explored in this blog), "A Theory of Sapience: Using Systems Science to Understand the Nature of Wisdom and the Human Mind", has been published... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2019 at Question Everything
My thanks to Paul Chefurka for his comments that have prompted me to share some of my more recent thinking. As with Paul's thinking, mine has been evolving. So for what it might be worth... The hope of which I... Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2019 at Question Everything
@Frank, Several years back I reported in this blog about my research in the psychology and neurology of sapience, or the brain basis of wisdom. The starter page is here: and you can search the archives for pages related to "sapience". Basically I argue that we evolved to pass a threshold of cognitive capacity that makes us humans unique animals. It isn't intelligence, but the capacity to develop wisdom over a lifetime. Except that the average human being is just above that threshold, so their capacity is yet weak. The series of chapters try to address your question directly. ------------------------------------ @Karl, Exactly so. The evidence of collapse is all around us. ------------------------------------ @Norris, Thank you for this and what you are doing. I have posted, in years gone by, suggestions for a social system based on localization and reductions in materiality. As per my comment above, these are based on a society of eusapient individuals. I would suggest that what is needed is more than just the abandonment of FFs. What is driving the destruction of civilization as we have known it is capitalism and the belief in profits and growth. It has succeeded in taking over the zeitgeist because it appeals to our less-than-sapient selves. But it is capitalism that drives an insatiable need for FFs to drive industry and commerce. ------------------------------------ @Molly, Good to hear from you. I am working on some projects that address the issues I just mentioned to Norris. When I have some results I will likely write them up for the blog. A major paper is being presented in June to the ISSS conference. So it is coming together. ------------------------------------- @Raquel, Very unsustainable. But that doesn't mean some kind of life for humans and society needs to be unsustainable. We just need a better design for living and a lot fewer people! That is what we are facing and, it seems, sooner than later. ------------------------------------ @Fred, Thanks for the heads up on Wilson's book. Putting it on my list right now. He is one of the most eusapient people I have ever encountered. George
I honestly did not expect to be a witness to the end of civilization when I started blogging those many years ago. Though I thought I could clearly see where the trends (energy, climate, social) were heading and tried to... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2019 at Question Everything
To all commentators: Sorry for delays. I am deeply enmeshed in a few projects aimed at still trying to understand our predicament and a systems approach to minimizing harm. These are absorbing my time completely. I will try to summarize in my equinox post in a few days. George
Toggle Commented Mar 15, 2019 on Happy (sic) New Year at Question Everything
Heading into the New Year - 2019 As we prepare to welcome a new year, some of us with hope that things will improve compared to 2018, I'm afraid I have some sobering news to share. I've been tracking the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2018 at Question Everything
Folks, Ugo is Ugo Bardi who's blog is listed in the side bar - Cassandra's Legacy. Check it out. ------------------------------- @Shawn, I suspect you didn't read the papers at the link I provided. In fact we have gotten all kinds of new communications technologies over the past 100 years, linking lots of minds together and look where it has gotten us. Tools are only as good as the minds that use them. George
Toggle Commented Dec 28, 2018 on Winter Solstice 2018 at Question Everything
Happy Solstice everybody. I don't know what else to say. I had started a piece taking an inventory of beliefs and ideologies that underlie the major pathologies in our socioeconomic system, things like belief in free markets. But it was... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2018 at Question Everything
@cowboy, As I understand the physics, particulates from, for example, coal burning, actually absorb solar energy. White ash from volcanoes may reflect if suspended high enough in the atmosphere. But I think it is mostly speculation at this point. We don't have sensors out in space capable of detecting the effects. As for Guy's general thesis I personally think the probability is low, but not zero. We need more observations re: the rate and amount of CH4 emissions to have a sense of run away warming. ------------------------------------- @Roope Bill, I posted this because the IPCC report is the first real kick in the pants regarding something I have been trying to get people to pay attention to for a long time. Thanks for the link. Wait till we see social chaos! -------------------------------------- @Bev, Cantab, and Molly R, As I survey the group of women who are stepping up to run for political office I am seeing (I hope) qualities that are much less contentious and power-hungry than among most men (or Nancy Pelosi for that matter) that currently hold office in the Congress. It is clear that those men have made a royal mess of things and need to be booted. Whether women could do a better job (is there a gender difference that matters?) I don't know. What I do know is that they couldn't do any worse. Time will tell. Or maybe not since according the the IPCC report we really don't have a lot of time! George
As hurricane Michael bears down on the Florida pan handle as a Cat 4 storm, I wonder how many people who are going to be directly affected by its devastation are thinking about anthropogenic climate change. This week a new... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2018 at Question Everything
To be completely honest I am not sure what more I can say; certainly nothing that would really help our situation. Here we are at the autumnal equinox, heading for the darkness of winter, and, frankly, it seems appropriate. The... Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2018 at Question Everything
Hi Molly, Thanks for the kind and encouraging words, but honestly I am not sure what else I can offer that hasn't been covered in my years of posting. Basically the world is going the direction I thought it would, but at a pace more accelerated than I had imagined. My writing efforts now are going into my new book on how to use the principles of systems science and the systems methodologies I have developed to try to grasp deep understanding of how the world (and the human species) is working in the hopes that some people with a bit of wisdom and younger than me will be able to have a leg up on the impending collapse of society. I don't know what else to do at this point. This blog has attracted some attention, but it seems fleeting and has't seemed to matter a great deal. After all, to those who are pseudosapient the message that they are in that condition probably doesn't resonate. And I still think there are very few who are really sapient or even eusapient for whom the message would make any sense. I continue to take hope that those who are sapient will already recognize the situation and that what they need more than someone continually pointing out the nature of the problem is someone codifying the way to greater wisdom (or so I imagine). I have been working on a set of appendices to the book that detail the nature of several complex adaptive systems (CAS) and complex adaptive and evolvable systems (CAES) generic model archetypes. They are for decision agents (deciders and controllers), a governance architecture, and a generalize economy. The patterns I am writing about appear in systems starting with the single cell (metabolism is the economy of a cell) and running to the whole human social system on Earth. I am examining major differences between the economy of, say, physiology and an ecosystem as compared with the human social system's experiments with governance and economy. I am trying to point out the deficiencies in the latter with respect to what nature has found to work. But I also point out that the human social system is still in evolution. If we don't completely blow it with nuclear war or global warming, we might just evolve ourselves and our societies into some kind on sustainable balance with the whole Ecos. Needless to say, while this is a possibility, I probably won't hold my breath! Nevertheless, one has to project some kind of hope or else just buy a handgun or a pill that would end it all. I'm not ready to go that route. --------------------------------------- @Fred, Good observation. I guess if I really have any faith in the capacity of eusapience I should just assume they will figure it out for themselves. No need to be a helicopter parent, eh? George
Hello Gene, Thank you for your interest and questions. RE: inheritance. I think it is likely that eusapience or, at least, higher levels of sapience, are indeed heritable. My research has led me to suspect that there are a few alleles responsible for the development of the prefrontal cortex (esp. Brodmann area 10) that is implicated in higher levels of sapience, and that these are fairly recent mutations. I suspect, further, that these are not necessarily protein coding sequences, but more likely control sequences that affect the development of brain tissues (again Brodmann area 10) that are involved in higher-order judgement. RE: survival in response to ferocity. I have wrestled with this notion for a long time. I can't help reference back to the biblical injunction: the meek shall inherit the Earth! I suspect that eusapient individuals will know how to keep their heads down and avoid confrontations. At least I hope so. RE: Tech and cooperation. I suspect that eusapient individuals will be capable of interpersonal communications that are of a much more cooperative nature than we see presently (my next book will explore this in great detail). I expect Homo eusapiens to exhibit hypersocial tendancies even while maintaining a sense of self. Of course all of this depends on a survival of some eusapient individuals reminiscent of the survival of bird and mammals after the great extinction of dinosaurs! Wish I could be around to see! George
If you feel as if chaos is accelerating you are not alone. I'm sure that most still reading this blog are completely aware of what I mean. The irony to me is that Trump is right to call out the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2018 at Question Everything