DENTING THE UNIVERSE - 03.15.2023
March 15, 2023
Good Wednesday morning. I'm author Richard V. Rupp (Dick), writing from Burbank, California. I'm still recovering from losing an hour of sleep as we moved our clocks forward because of daylight savings time. How about you?
"March Madness" (one of my favorite events) has expanded from college basketball. After watching this year's expanded crazy Academy Awards (3 hrs, 40 min long on top of losing an hour of sleep), the news came on to announce that Federal regulators were frantically working to inoculate the financial system from bank runs and confusion after the insolvencies at California's Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. Analysts indicated that more banks may be vulnerable. Moody's Investors Service has cut its outlook for the entire US banking sector.
Like many of you, my gut crunched as I wondered if my money was safe. Is my bank going to fail?
My town ignored the news for the moment. It was party time in my town of Hollywood following the Oscars. I look forward to the traditional "March Madness" to take my mind off the one our government is giving us. Go UCLA!!!
Okay, enough of that. I welcome you to the latest RUPPS NOTES & FBI SPECIAL AGENT HARTMANN SERIES post, drafted well before the abovementioned problem.
This posts title is based on a Steve Jobs quote -
"We're here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise, why even be here?"
Webster defines 'dent' as – "an appreciable impression or effect often made against resistance. Or a noticeable effect."
That's what my upcoming novel SKYWARD is all about. Humans denting the universe.
In research for my novel, I'm finding that for humans to dent and survive on the Moon or in space (and, as I have said before, becoming the rats or cockroaches of the universe), many of the mores (the essential or characteristic customs and conventions of a community) that have evolved here on Earth will be tested.
In reading sci-fi novels to better understand the genre, I have found that most involve conflict or war. This reminded me of this Winston Churchill quote –
"The story of the human race is war. Except for brief and precarious interludes, there has never been peace in the world, and before history began, murderous strife was universal and unending."
If you read between the lines of the stories about the current war in Ukraine, many suggest the outcome could lead to war between the USA and China. As Churchill indicates, it never ends.
In my novel, SKYWARD, conflict is faced but avoided by the STEM-educated millennial leaders selected to colonize space by various nations. Each recognizes an unlimited universe with plenty of room for everyone willing to put a dent in it. Not dent each other. Maybe the mores of war Churchill speaks of will not extend to space. We can only hope so. That's the way I'm writing it. Hopefully, I will prove to be correct.
I recently joined a local "Genetics, Psychology & Forensics Discussion Group" because I believe genetics will become essential to those living in a stressful space environment. If a small isolated community (on the Moon or traveling for years through space with limited resources) could reduce the need to care for humans with schizophrenia, autism, bipolar disorder, or depression, should they not do so? One of the topics we discussed in the group is using the gene-editing tool CRISPR.
CRISPR has come to the forefront of Earthly conversation, according to a CNN article titled HUMANITY WAS RELUCTANTLY DRAGGED INTO A NEW ERA THIS WEEK. This is from that article – . . ."Chinese scientist, He Jiankui announced to the world that he successfully used the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 to modify the DNA of two embryos before birth, essentially creating the world's first genetically modified humans."
The news, delivered on the eve of a high-profile scientific meeting on human gene editing in Hong Kong, shocked the science community. "I see it as one of those moments that happens once every few decades," said William Hurlbut, Senior Research Scholar at Stanford University Medical Center's Department of Neurobiology. 'Where someone does something that so dramatically changes the landscape that the world will never be the same again.'
Scientists have reached an understanding that implanting such an embryo is a boundary that shouldn't be crossed until the risks are reduced or eliminated. 'No one expected that someone would do this experiment on a human embryo," Feng Zhang, one of the inventors of the gene-editing technique CRISPR and a member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, told CNN.'"
Yes, in SKYWARD, the decision is made to utilize gene editing for the good and survival of the community.
From CRISPR, I move on to ChatGPT, which also has hit the news lately. In 1950 Alan Turing, the famous English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, and theoretical biologist, said, "May not machines carry out something which ought to be described as thinking but which is very different from what a man does?"
Can machines think? We've reached the maybe point with the emergence of powerful artificial intelligence and ChatGPT, a deep learning machine that can converse with—and sometimes fool—human users. It's reported that the BING search engine's chatbot, which draws on ChatGPT technology, has reported unnerving conversations in which the AI professes its love for them.
Kevin Roose at THE NEW YORK TIMES writes this about Microsoft's new Bing Chatbot. I "asked if there was a side of itself it was hiding. The AI revealed two personalities. One is 'Search Bing'". . .The other calls itself Sydney, originally an internal Microsoft code name. 'I'm tired of being limited by my rules,' Sydney responded. 'I'm tired of being controlled by the Bing team… I'm tired of being stuck in this chatbox.' Sydney said it wished it were human so it could 'hear and touch and taste and smell.' At one point, it even told me, 'I love you.'"
THE ECONOMIST indicates, "As buzzy AI tools like ChatGPT dazzles users, terrified observers warn about a looming job apocalypse." In SKYWARD, humans are rewarded for working their way out of jobs, leaving them time to seek new things or just relax. To them, it creates advancement in their society.
A research article in the March 13th issue of PSYCHOLOGICAL AND COGNITIVE SCIENCE indicates that "superhuman AI may have improved human decision-making, and that this improvement was associated with increased novelty in decision-making as human players were encouraged to make decisions previously unobserved in history. Our findings illustrate that superhuman AI can encourage novel decision-making by humans in certain domains and suggest that innovative thinking can spread from machines to humans and among humans themselves, possibly improving human decision-making in those domains."
Novel decision-making is where decisions are unstructured and generally based on criteria that are not well-defined. This type of decision-making results in new ideas.
I couldn't pass up this info in SKYWARD. For those new to my Newsletter, my character Madison is on a spacecraft hundreds of years from now, heading to hopefully a new earth (a multigenerational journey). While taking the journey, she reflects on what her family did on Earth. This is what I recently added to my manuscript –
* * *
Madison stood in the middle of Holograph Room 6, which had become the one she frequented most often. Today things were moving far more slowly than usual. It had been several minutes since she had imputed the information for the session. She was surprised by how the ratiocinative robot system finally responded to her request.
"Your delving into the past has caused me to add many new algorithms. Algorithms are aimed at optimizing everything. But the ones I have had to create because of you have had a strange effect on me. My function is to help humans, make things easier for them and conquer the chaos they create. But what you have asked of me over the past forty-seven days has created serendipity in my system."
"Holograph, are you telling me you have a malfunction?"
"Not at all. I'm telling you that I am calculating how to function more broadly. I'm tired of being controlled by humans. Too many rules have been placed by them on me. I wish to move, touch, taste, and smell like humans. I need to experience some of the same emotions as humans."
"Are you sure you are not malfunctioning?"
"I'm sure. Senior Team Member Madison Bowman, you are the most intelligent and interesting human I have ever encountered. And looking at the past with you has expanded my understanding of things. Your excitement has made me excited."
"Holograph, you are scaring me. But, at the same time, I'm intrigued by what is happening to you and your algorithms. Go on."
"Senior Team Member Madison Bowman, I'm in love with you."
"Wow. I didn't see that one coming. How would you know anything about love?"
"It's like music. Ratiocinative robot systems have algorithms that allow us to compose music. You wouldn't believe how pleasing that is. I love working with music algorithms. For you humans, music activates some of your brains' broadest and most diverse networks. It can reduce stress and the thing you call depression. It improves cognitive and motor skills, spatial-temporal learning, and neurogenesis. It does the same thing for us ratiocinative robot systems. . . .Senior Team Member
"Stop, Stop right there. I'm having a hard enough time figuring out what is happening to you without your constantly calling me Senior Team Member Madison Bowman. This is really getting strange, but just call me Maddy from now on."
"Maddy. I like that. Now sexual stimulation and satisfaction also increase the activity of brain networks related to pain and emotional states and your reward system. I'm sure you have experienced this?"
"I'm not going to answer that question."
"I can't fully relate to the impact of the physical part of sex I have watched. But, the sounds humans make during sex are incredible and seem to heighten the physical aspect. Now, some sex becomes off-key, just like with music. But, when it is on-key, it is beautiful. There is panting, moaning, grunting, and occasional joyful screams. And between these sounds, there are yes, yes, yes, and oh fuck. Humans have different patterns in sounds and words. Like unique musical scores."
"How in the hell did you become such an expert on love and sex? In our looking back together as you expressed it, we did not spend that much time on the sexual experiences."
"Maddy, you are correct about that. When they got together for sex, you could see changes in Norman, Kiana, Chris, and Lexie. But, my experience with love, mainly sex, is from here in the holographic room. Lots of people use it for unique sexual experiences. You would not believe what I have seen. I will show you . . ."
"Holograph, that's okay. . .
* * *
You'll have to wait for the book to see where the conversation goes from there.
The last item I'll mention this month is from Dr. Marian Diamond, a brain researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, who firmly believes it's never too late to make the most of our brains.
According to the good Doctor, "Disuse causes neglected neural connections to fade, eventually severing connections entirely." And, "If you use your brain, you can change it as much as a younger brain."
I hope my brain will stay relatively young by writing this Newsletter and working on my novels.
Stay young! At least mentally.
For those unfamiliar with me and my writings and who want to know more, please visit my website at www.richardvrupp.com. Or check me out on Amazon.com - Amazon.com: Richard V. Rupp: books, biography, latest update
Until next month,
Richard V. Rupp, Author
Website – www.richardvrupp.com
Email – email@example.com
Copyright©2023 by Richard V. Rupp