This is too much (PFAS…)

I am totally fed up. 

On Friday (19 April 2024) , buried under all the war, politics and other headline grabbing nonsense that we impose on ourselves, was this article about PFAS.  Apparently, these lovely chemicals have been detected in sea spray at various places around the world, at surprisingly high concentrations.

So – that deep breath of healthy, invigorating, salt laden air – that fully completes our experience of the ocean – now contains toxic, man-made, crap.

Enough!  Now we can’t even sit on the beach without worrying about being poisoned.  We have to do something.  For me it’s the last straw, or nail, or whatever cliché suits.

I have only one idea, which I struggle to articulate on this site and here (once again) are the key points:

  • “We”(all of us) are losing the battle for the biosphere.
  • The existing (courageous, knowledgeable, untiring…) environmental organizations do not have the power to halt the degradation.
  • They need to join into a federation to extend their reach and effectiveness.
  • Quickly.

1biosphere Federation and Artificial Intelligence

Since my 3 December 2023 “Battle for the Biosphere” entry I have tried to convert that rather long .pdf into a more approachable video. I excuse my lack of progress by learning just how to make a video and a medical interlude that wasted some months of my life.

In the meantime, two papers, with a focus on Artificial Intelligence, came to my attention.  I think they have significant relevance to my argument.

Which, to summarize, is:  Ecological/Environmental Organizations must combine to form an effective counter to the overwhelming power structures that strive for material wealth at the expense of the biosphere.

I have described this as a battle between two mega-creatures; Technology/Money (T-Mo) versus Biosphere/Humanity (B-Hu). 

(The slides illustrating the story of T-Mo and B-Hu, which I hope to turn into a narrated video, are included below)

Divide-and-Conquer Dynamics in AI-Driven Disempowerment by Peter S. Park and Max Tegmark, both of The MIT Department of Physics is available at

The authors position the unchecked development of Artificial Intelligence as a “common threat” and explore, with mathematical rigor, how the opposition to this common threat becomes disjointed, rather than unified.  One underlying reason given is the different perception of the threat by current vs. future victims.

This last reason is also very applicable to the battle (if I may continue to use this emotive word) for the biosphere.  Current victims (small farmers, animal herders and fishers in the equatorial regions, for instance) view the threat of biosphere degradation very differently from those of us living in the luxury of the industrialized world.  Our children (and grand-children!), the future victims, are trying to get our attention.  They have been partially successful, but without unity in the environmental movement the overall results are disappointing.

I feel the Park / Tegmark paper is a very appropriate to the issues facing our movement.  If you substitute “Biosphere Degradation” for “AI-Driven Disempowerment” in the quotes below, then the parallels become quite evident;

“ Our model also helps explain why throughout history, stakeholders sharing a common threat have found it advantageous to unite against it, and why the common threat has in turn found it advantageous to divide and conquer.”

[First] ”…current victims of AI-driven disempowerment need the future victims to realize that their interests are also under serious and imminent threat, so that future victims are incentivized to support current victims in solidarity. [please see my comment re TIME below]

Second, the movement against AI-driven disempowerment can become more united, and thereby more likely to prevail, if members believe that their efforts will be successful as opposed to futile.

Finally, the movement can better unite and prevail if its members are less myopic. Myopic members prioritize their future well-being less than their present well-being and are thus disinclined to solidarily support current victims today at personal cost, even if this is necessary to counter the shared threat of AI-driven disempowerment.”

“…movement disunity and consequent inefficacy are caused by members’ myopia, naivety, collaborationism, defeatism, and complacency.” [These 5 weaknesses are equally applicable to the proposed joining of the environmental organizations.]

An example by the authors of divide-and conquer tactics by the “common threat” is this ad:

[TIME – I am not sure if it is necessary to point out the differences in time scale when comparing AI Deployment to Biosphere Degradation, but just to be sure…

AI has brought incredible change in a very short time. The authors show the impact on artists and designers brought about in a year. Here the difference between current and future victims is quite clear and they are, usually, of the same generation. Biosphere Degradation is, by comparison, still relatively slow. The future victims are the coming generations, and many of them are well aware of the threat to their welfare. If we acknowledge that distinction the analysis of Divide-and-Conquer is still very relevant]

The report “The AI Threats To Climate Change” addresses current, and likely future, harm of Artificial Intelligence to the biosphere. It is available from the Friends of the Earth website.

“AI likely to increase energy use and accelerate climate misinformation. Claims that artificial intelligence will help solve the climate crisis are misguided, warns a coalition of environmental groups” / Guardian

Some quotes from the report:

“Silicon Valley and Wall Street love to hype artificial intelligence (AI). The more it’s used, they say, the more diseases we’ll cure, the fewer errors we’ll make—and the lower emissions will go.

Google’s AI subsidiary DeepMind claimed “advances in AGI [artificial generative intelligence] research will supercharge society’s ability to tackle and manage climate change.”

 At COP28 last year, Google released a new report proclaiming 5-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions could be mitigated by the use of AI.

But there are two significant and immediate dangers posed by AI that are much less discussed:

  • the vast increase in energy and water consumption required by AI systems like ChatGPT; and
  • the threat of AI turbocharging disinformation—on a topic already rife with anti-science lies and funded by fossil fuel companies and their networks.”

[ This report was prepared in a partnership – itself already showing a coalescing of environmentally active organizations:

Battle for the Biosphere” slides in .pdf format may be slow to load. Hover over the first slide to display download and full screen options.

A Change of Symbol

From now on I will use the symbol Ӕ to represent the biosphere.

Since starting this web site I have used ∃!Ⓑ to represent “There exists, exactly one, biosphere”.  The first two characters are standard math and logic usage, while the circled B indicates the bounded nature of the Biosphere.

Nothing could be simpler or more logical.  I could use that shorthand as a logo, an axiom on which to build a view of the entire environmental crisis and as my personal creation myth.

However, the real heroes of these stories, the climate and environmental protestors and activists, have consistently used the phrase “There is no Planet B”.  It is a good, forceful shout with a clear message.

I have skirted around the fact that my use of the letter “B” is in direct contradiction with the intent of “There is no planet B”.

Enough avoidance! From now on I will use the symbol Ӕ to represent the biosphere.

Why Ӕ ?

A” for Planet A (…there is no Planet B), E” for Earth.

Does this put up another hurdle to reading my stuff; which is already not that accessible?  Well, yes, maybe.  I will try to mitigate that difficulty by sticking to the following rules:

Ӕ is a type of vowel sound. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨æ⟩, a lowercase of the ⟨Æ⟩ ligature. Both the symbol and the sound are commonly referred to as “ash”. / Wkipedia

In English it is pronounced like  the a in “ash” or “cat”, in German as the ӓ in “spӓt”.

But, as I try to say above, I never intended the symbol to be pronounced – it was always replaced by “biosphere” if spoken.  We’ll see if that makes sense.  Always open to suggestions…

A Crisis Of Maladaptive Human Behaviours

The paper “WORLD SCIENTISTS’ WARNING: THE BEHAVIOURAL CRISIS DRIVING ECOLOGICAL OVERSHOOT”, first published online in September 2023, made it into the more accessible press in this Guardian article

The paper [“The Warning”] supports many of the points elsewhere on this site. The major difference between my approach and that of The Warning is the audience.  I aim for the community of Environmental Organizations and Environmental Activists. The Warning is primarily a call for “increased interdisciplinary collaboration between the social and behavioural science theorists and practitioners, advised by scientists working on limits to growth and planetary boundaries.”

As a result the language is academic, rather than my simplistic attempts.  I think both approaches are necessary if we are to make the changes required.  

I will try to summarize and pick some direct quotes.  However, I do suggest you read the original paper (it is not long!) and also look at the follow-on comments from the lead authors

We are consuming resources and dumping waste at a rate far above the earth’s capacity – creating an “Ecological Overshoot”.  Using up resources at a rate almost twice that of the earth’s [i.e. 1biosphere] capacity is bad enough, but if environmental justice were to prevail and all people attained the consumption model of the developed nations that ratio would quickly climb to impossible levels.  

Ecological overshoot in number of Earths required. Data from Global Footprint Network – June 2023 [On a personal note; my children were born around the break-even point on this graph – it’s stunning to see such massive change in such a short time]

 “…the evidence indicates that anthropogenic ecological overshoot stems from a crisis of maladaptive human behaviours. While the behaviours generating overshoot were once adaptive for H. sapiens, they have been distorted and extended to the point where they now threaten the fabric of complex life on Earth. Simply, we are trapped in a system built to encourage growth and appetites that will end us”.

The Warning analyses “… three drivers of the behavioural crisis in depth: economic growth; marketing; and pronatalism. These three drivers directly impact the three ‘levers’ of overshoot: consumption, waste and population.

[I insert my Biosphere Degradation diagram to show how closely it matches the three levers above – Consumption (Depletion of Resources), Waste (Waste and Pollution) and Population.]

“… the behaviours of overshoot are now actively promoted and exacerbated by social, economic and political norms largely through the intentional, almost completely unimpeded exploitation of human psychological predispositions and biases”.

“…we use the term ‘behavioural crisis’ specifically to mean the consequences of the innate suite of human behaviours that were once adaptive in early hominid evolution, but have now been exploited to serve the global industrial economy”. 

“This exploitation has accumulated financial capital – sometimes to absurd levels – for investors and shareholders, and generated manufactured capital (‘human-made mass’) that now exceeds the biomass of all living things on Earth”.

“Significantly manipulated by the marketing industry…these behaviours have now brought humanity to the point where their sheer scale – through our numbers, appetites and technologies – is driving ecological overshoot and threatening the fabric of complex life on earth”.

“These behaviours are related to our previously highly adaptive, but now self-defeating, impulses to:

  • seek pleasure and avoid pain;
  • acquire, amass and defend resources from competitors;
  • display dominance, status or sex appeal through size, beauty, physicality, aggression and/or ornamentation
  • procrastinate rather than act whenever action does not have an immediate survival benefit particularly for ourselves, close relatives and our home territories.

“In a global economy [part of the entity I label T-Mo elsewhere] that strives to create and meet burgeoning demand, rather than fairly and judiciously apportioning supply, these behaviours are collectively highly maladaptive, even suicidal for humanity”.

We have ” …three paths ahead:

  • We can choose to continue using behavioural manipulation to deepen our dilemma,
  • We can choose to ignore it and leave it to chance, or
  • We can use an opportunity that almost no other species has had and consciously steer our collective behaviours to conform to the natural laws that bind all life on Earth”.

“This raises ethical questions, for example, who is worthy of wielding such power?” [Which is also a major consideration for the imagined counter-force to T-Mo, which I have labeled B-Hu elsewhere]

The Warning urgently calls …”for an emergency, concerted, multidisciplinary effort to…catalyse rapid global adoption of new consumption, reproduction and waste norms congruent with the survival of complex life on Earth.

[Yes, and I think the formation of a fellowship / federation of Environmental Organizations is one step in that effort]

Europe – what if?

2 deaths, a day apart:

Wolfgang Schäuble; (18 September 1942 – 26 December 2023) was a German politician whose political career spanned more than five decades. A member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), he was the longest-serving member of any democratic German parliament. Schäuble served as 13th president of the Bundestag from 2017 to 2021.

In 1989, Schäuble was appointed Minister of the Interior, and he led negotiations for reunification on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany. 

Jacques Lucien Jean Delors ; 20 July 1925 – 27 December 2023) was a French politician who served as the eighth president of the European Commission from 1985 to 1995. Delors played a key role in the creation of the single market, the euro and the modern European Union.

As president of the European Commission (EC), Delors was the most visible and influential leader in European affairs. He implemented policies that closely linked the member nations together and promoted the need for unity. He created a single market that made the free movement of persons, capital, goods, and services within the European Economic Community possible.

Both men had outsize roles in shaping the European Union. They may not have been able to “breathe a soul” into the EU, but came damn close.

During their tenures the Soviet Union (USSR) collapsed, with its 15 constituent republics gaining full independence on 26 December 1991.  The fall of the Berlin wall between the two Germanies in November 1989 was an integral part of that process.

The resolute military position and the economic strength of the US was of course another major factor in this history.

Although on different sides of “the political middle” both Delon and Schäuble were solid in their commitment to the transatlantic partnership with the USA and the inclusion of the UK into the EU.

Fast forward to today; 

We have the patchwork of nations largely unchanged from that time.  We have a war in Ukraine. The UK has left the EU.  Despite some bright spots there are threats from within the EU itself, from neighboring countries and, depending on this year’s US elections, from the US.

What does this have to do with 1biosphere?

The EU is arguably ahead of the rest of the world in recognizing the degradation of the biosphere, in acknowledging the need for action and actually implementing policies to mitigate the damage.  It’s spotty of course; brown coal in Germany, no permanent nuclear waste storage in France, more oil exploration from Norway and so forth.

The war in Ukraine, quite apart from the human tragedy, is also an environmental disaster – wars just are.  A slide towards nationalistic, growth and greed based governments will set back environmental efforts, possibly by decades.  Time we don’t have to waste.

Which brings me to the “what if”;

What if, in the early 1990’s, the western powers had turned to Russia and initiated an open and honest program to, first, recognize the enormous sacrifices made by Russia during the 2nd world war, and second, make that recognition real by something like the post-WW2 Marshall plan. 

What if we had built memorials to the fallen Russians across their country?  What if we had sent our presidents, prime ministers, kings and queens to lay wreaths and express our sorrow and gratitude?  What if instead of inserting for-profit companies (fast food, fossil fuels, luxury brands) we had built free hospitals, schools, universities and libraries across the country?

Would we have avoided the rise of a Putin?  Would we have an invasion of Ukraine?  Would we have a unified environmental policy from London to Vladivostok?

It probably could never have happened.  The western powers were in no mood to be generous to the “losers”.  National, economic, issues were the top priority.  And would the Russian people have accepted such gestures?

I feel that we are in a similar situation now.  If we were to take positive steps now we might well have a far more palatable future.  We would have to lower our expectations of growth and profit. We would have to curb our excessive consumption.  We need to see the murderous hatred between nations as the futile waste it is.

Is that plausible given the overall society we live in?

Maybe not plausible – certainly possible.

The Meaning Of Democracy

This piece originally appeared in the Notes and Comment section of the July 3, 1943, issue of The New Yorker.

“We received a letter from the Writers’ War Board the other day asking for a statement on “The Meaning of Democracy.” It presumably is our duty to comply with such a request, and it is certainly our pleasure.

Surely the Board knows what democracy is. It is the line that forms on the right. It is the don’t in don’t shove. It is the hole in the stuffed shirt through which the sawdust slowly trickles; it is the dent in the high hat. Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time. It is the feeling of privacy in the voting booths, the feeling of communion in the libraries, the feeling of vitality everywhere. Democracy is a letter to the editor. Democracy is the score at the beginning of the ninth. It is an idea which hasn’t been disproved yet, a song the words of which have not gone bad. It’s the mustard on the hot dog and the cream in the rationed coffee. Democracy is a request from a War Board, in the middle of a morning in the middle of a war, wanting to know what democracy is.”

—E. B. White

[I heard it read on the radio.  It is relevant to this current discussion, especially to “The Battle For The Biosphere”.  My assumption is that democratic norms are needed to “save” the biosphere.  Some may argue that a benign dictator would be a better solution – history argues against that.

The language of the answer is of course dated and the themes are very American, very New York.  Applicable nonetheless

Except maybe “the score at the beginning of the ninth”.  If you are not a baseball fan you will need to look it up.  I had to.]

Battle For The Biosphere

[The following .pdf file may take a few seconds to load. Hover over the image for download or full-screen options]

I present a challenge to the existing Environmental Organizations, and individuals, worldwide. My argument is that we must urgently coalesce into a potent social/political force to create fundamental changes. You may counter that this is either an unrealistic dream or is already happening through organizations like IPCC, COP or other, more local, joint efforts.

I would ask that you skim through the file anyway. I have been told that my emotionless approach using symbols and few words makes it impossible to follow the story. Therefore, this will likely be the last entry using this format. If you do persist I will be grateful for any feedback. Thank you.

[Update: In the following .pdf I use the circled B symbol to stand for the “biosphere” – as in “there exists exactly one biosphere”. That usage directly conflicts with the international environmental slogan “There is no Planet B”. From January 2024 I have changed my notation from the circled B to “Ӕ ” – for Planet A, Earth”. That makes more sense. See my January 14, 2024 entry for more detail.]

COP28 start

Two news items.  Can you spot the difference?

“Something Big Just Happened at COP – Wealthy countries might finally pay for the climate change they caused.” / The Atlantic 30 Nov 2023 

“Several countries immediately announced their intended contribution to the fund. The United Arab Emirates and Germany each said they would give $100 million. The U.K. pledged more than$50 million, and Japan committed to $10 million. The U.S. said it would provide $17.5 million, a small number given its responsibility for the largest historical share of global emissions.”

[The total pledged to date is approx $400 million.  That amount will go up. Estimates for actual need range in the hundreds of billions. However agreement of the fund is a significant achievement and a coup for the hosts]

“Mellon Foundation Doubles Funding for U.S. Monuments, Pledging a Total $500 Million – The philanthropy will add to its ongoing initiative to tell diverse stories with new monuments in public spaces over the next five years.” / New York Times 28 Nov 2023

[The monuments are lovely creations]

Spotted the difference? It’s $100 million.

False equivalence? Of course. I just can’t find the words to delve into this further.

Words and Actions

Billions of words have been written about the environmental crisis, climate change, biodiversity, pollution and so forth.  Yet we are not taking the actions needed to halt, let alone repair, the damage we have done to the biosphere.

As we know words are slippery things so I have tried to use some abstract symbols to create an alternative way to frame this whole discussion.  What follows is my latest iteration – with a minimum of words:

there exists exactly one biosphere
– humanity is a subset of the biosphere –
– “Ⓒ” (everything non-physical) is a subset of humanity –
– Ⓗ interacts with Ⓒ and Ⓑ –

(More explanation in the Notes below)

– today Ⓒ drives our actions –

Once, a few millennia ago, our actions were driven (mostly) by Ⓑ. The need for air, water, food and shelter were our daily concerns.  Now we are driven by Ⓒ.  We invent things like land ownership.  We take actions that make no sense in the physical reality of Ⓑ. We die for concepts called god, king or country.  We poison the air, water and soil that makes us.  We are driven by an idea called The Economy to consume more resources than we can possibly replace.

We consciously and wilfully alter the biosphere in such a manner that our offspring will inherit a degraded planet.

We live inside the dreams of other humans – is another way of describing Ⓒ. Let’s not have those other dreamers, most of them long dead, rule our own thoughts and actions.

What can we do?

– let Ⓑ again shape our thoughts. Simple…

Well, maybe not so simple; what does “flipping the arrow” mean?

– we need to change the way we think –

The human brain forms the intersection of Ⓒ and Ⓑ [Ⓒ ⋂ Ⓑ]. It is only here where any meaningful change can take place.

Another way to illustrate this flip is to use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; typically drawn as a pyramid. We seem to have inverted it with selfish “wants” determining our thoughts and actions, often with negative effects on the more fundamental “needs”. That looks like an unstable situation; we need to “flip it”.

(Yet another diagram under Systems View in the Notes below)

While these diagrams themselves do nothing they can be one more tool to change our thinking and encourage a more critical analysis of the mass of information we receive each day. For instance:


  • From the Ⓒ perspective: EV’s are the answer.  They do not emit GHGs.  They offer the same levels of comfort and superior performance at a reasonable increase in price.  In parallel to the roll-out of EVs we will develop the needed infrastructure of charging stations, develop new sources of lithium and improve battery performance.  This will produce economic growth while meeting emission goals.
  • From the Ⓑ perspective:  We really need to rethink how, and more important why, we use cars.  Replacing internal combustion cars with EVs is not enough.  We need to reduce (!) the number of cars, or at least reduce the distance driven.  This will meet emission goals AND reduce the harm done by mining for lithium and the more exotic materials required by EVs.  Reducing personal driving will have secondary benefits such as the development of integrated living/working environments.  It will drastically reduce the need for new infrastructure; it may even allow the reclamation of some highway areas for rewilding.


  • From the Ⓒ perspective: Plastics are a key part of world industrial output.  “Single-use plastics are an affordable and environmentally friendly option, essential for health, safety and convenience”.  The industry employs close to a million people, in well paying jobs, in the USA alone.  The industry has shown consistent revenue and profit growth, supporting many more millions of investors through retirement funds and similar financial vehicles.
  • From the Ⓑ perspective: Plastics damage the biosphere at every step from production to disposal.  Due to the longevity of most plastic products they will affect the biosphere for generations to come.  The effects range in scale from molecules of plastic now found in practically all biological environments to the gross effects of toxic spills.  We need to drastically reduce our personal use of plastics, even if it means inconvenience and higher costs.


If enough of us can change perspective and “flip the arrow” we may make some real progress.


For ease of typing (and reading) I will use just the letters C, H, B and U in these Notes instead of the symbols ⒸⒽⒷ and Ⓤ. I trust the context will make the usage clear.


’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”


The background to the C⇿H⇿B diagram is in a previous blog entry – please ignore the final conclusions in that sequence, they were somewhat naive at the time.

For our purposes I use a somewhat loose definition of biosphere; including the minerals available to humans and the interaction between the biosphere and the rest of the universe (sunlight, meteorites, off-gassing and so forth). I also ignore any arguments about the “exactly one”. Even if we discover life on Mars or SETI receives a signal we will still be bound to this biosphere for the foreseeable future.

Two things strike me about B:

  • B is profoundly indifferent to itself. It just is. It does not care about floods or hurricanes or carbon dioxide levels. It did not care about dinosaurs and does not care about humans. It cares about nothing in C; not the sovereignty of nations, not the claims of religions or, for that matter, the beliefs of climate activists – sorry but it’s true.
  • Somehow “time” is in the universe and in B. But B does not care about time, certainly not human time. Again it just is, now.

C is just too weird to describe; unlimited, contradictory and illogical. Just for fun, at the end of this entry, is a “discussion” between my son (Q) and ChatGPT (A) touching on the nature of C.


We live inside the dreams of other humans – that wording as an alternative description of C is based on: “For thousands of years we humans have lived inside the dreams of other humans. We have worshiped gods, pursued ideals of beauty, and dedicated our lives to causes that originated in the imagination of some prophet, poet or politician. Soon we will also find ourselves living inside the hallucinations of non-human intelligence.”
– from Yuval Harari, Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin in an article discussing artificial intelligence in the NYT


This C⋂B simplification glosses over some fundamental questions of what it means to be human. What I am trying to capture is that our bodies, including the fine structure of the brain and the settings in there, at any moment, are part of B. But the beliefs we carry there, the ideas that shape our physical actions, are part of C.


Another way to draw the C⇿H⇿B diagram is as a systems model with inputs, outputs and feedback loops (simplified to two-way arrows):

This diagram may appeal to a more system oriented person. The dotted line around C is to indicate the unbounded nature of this system. U, the universe, is added here for completeness. In the bulk of the discussion on this site I have ignored U, just taking it as part of the B system; a bit of a liberty to take with the universe, but what the hell, I’m part of C and anything is allowed in there.

Each major “system” is obviously composed of a myriad of subsystems, which we struggle to comprehend and probably never will.

What the system diagram does not show is that C⊂H⊂B⊂U (⊂ indicates “is a subset of”). If B were to create an environment inimical to humans then H, and by definition C, would disappear. We are not talking about that yet, but unfavorable changes in B will affect H and therefore C.

How can a diagram like this help? Subject for another entry….

Q and A with ChatGPT on the nature of “C”

Q: Is it possible to use the free energy principle to find meta creatures. What may they be?

A: The free energy principle (FEP) is a theoretical framework in neuroscience and cognitive science that attempts to explain how biological systems maintain their internal states and adapt to their environments. It posits that living organisms minimize their free energy, a measure of surprise or uncertainty, by constantly updating their internal models to match the external world.

Applying the free energy principle to the concept of “meta creatures” suggests that you may be referring to hypothetical organisms or entities that exist at a higher level of complexity or abstraction. These meta creatures could be thought of as systems or networks that adapt and self-organize to minimize free energy in their environments.

There are different ways to interpret what meta creatures may be:

Higher-order organisms: These could be complex biological systems or even ecosystems, where various species interact with one another to maintain balance and minimize free energy.

Artificial intelligence: Advanced AI systems or artificial life forms that learn and adapt to their environments, following the principles of the free energy principle, could be considered meta creatures.

Social systems: Human societies and other social structures can be seen as meta creatures, as they are composed of interacting individuals who form complex networks that adapt to environmental changes to minimize uncertainty.

Theoretical constructs: Meta creatures may be purely theoretical entities, imagined to explore the implications of the free energy principle in various contexts.

Extraterrestrial life: If intelligent extraterrestrial life exists, it could potentially follow the free energy principle, making them “meta creatures” in the sense that they might exhibit advanced, self-organizing properties that minimize uncertainty in their environments.

It’s important to note that the concept of meta creatures in the context of the free energy principle is speculative and open to interpretation. While the free energy principle provides a framework for understanding how biological systems adapt and self-organize, it does not directly predict the existence or nature of such higher-order entities.


In a scientific context, let us reconsider the hypothetical meta creature formed through the complex interactions of human culture, beliefs, and social dynamics. This entity could emerge as a byproduct of collective behavior and shared experiences, much like the concept of emergence in complex systems. While it might not have a physical form, the meta creature could exist as a self-organizing pattern of behavior, communication, and emotional resonance that arises from the interactions of individuals within a society.

Instead of directly promoting war and religion, the meta creature could manifest its influence through more general patterns of behavior and communication. These patterns could be shaped by social hierarchy and the distribution of resources, leading to competition and cooperation among individuals and groups. This dynamic interplay could give rise to complex social structures, which in turn might contribute to the emergence and maintenance of the meta creature.

In this context, the existence of the meta creature could be likened to a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN). The meta creature would act as the generator, producing new patterns of behavior and communication, while the social dynamics of the human population would serve as the discriminator, selecting and refining the most effective strategies for navigating the challenges of their environment. This iterative process would contribute to the adaptation and evolution of both the meta creature and the society it inhabits.

As the meta creature interacts with its human environment, it could encounter other similarly emergent entities arising from different cultural and societal backgrounds. These encounters could result in a form of higher-order competition, akin to a “battle” between meta creatures. Such clashes could lead to significant shifts in cultural paradigms, as each meta creature attempts to adapt and refine its strategies to maintain its existence within the ever-changing social landscape.

In the aftermath of such a “battle,” an individual human might catch a glimpse of the complex web of interactions that gave rise to these meta creatures. Amidst the ruins of past social structures and cultural artifacts, a moment of insight could reveal the intricate dance of collective behavior and shared experiences that birthed these higher-order entities. This revelation might stir a deep emotional resonance, as the individual comes to understand the subtle yet powerful forces that have shaped their society and their own place within it.

Overall, the concept of meta creatures as emergent entities arising from the complex interactions of human societies offers a thought-provoking framework for understanding the forces that shape our world. By considering the possibility of such higher-order entities, we can gain new insights into the dynamics of culture, communication, and social evolution.


Q: the meta creature thinks in human minds. how. How else can it exist? What evidence (at least in a FEP or something like it sense) could support it and discriminate alternatives

A: The concept of a meta creature thinking in human minds can be understood as an emergent property arising from the interactions between individuals and groups within a society. In this context, the meta creature doesn’t directly think in human minds but exists as a self-organizing pattern of behavior, communication, and emotional resonance that arises from the collective behavior of humans. The meta creature is an abstract entity that emerges from the complex network of relationships, beliefs, and shared experiences among people.

In terms of evidence that could support the existence of a meta creature, the following aspects might be considered, especially within the framework of the Free Energy Principle (FEP) or similar theories:

Emergence in complex systems: The study of complex systems has shown that higher-order patterns can emerge from the interactions of lower-level components. In this case, the meta creature could be seen as an emergent property of human societies, with its existence supported by the patterns of behavior and communication observed in social networks.

Synchronization and collective behavior: Research on synchronization and collective behavior in various biological systems (such as flocking birds or schooling fish) could provide insights into how large groups of individuals can give rise to coordinated behaviors that transcend the capabilities of any single individual. Similar principles could apply to the emergence of a meta creature from the interactions of humans within a society.

Cultural evolution: Theories of cultural evolution, which explore how ideas, beliefs, and behaviors spread and change within human populations, could provide a framework for understanding how the meta creature might adapt and evolve over time. This would involve the transmission and selection of cultural traits that contribute to the emergence and maintenance of the meta creature.

Neural correlates of social cognition: Research in neuroscience and psychology has revealed that human brains are highly attuned to social cues and are capable of representing the mental states of others. This social cognition could form the basis for the emergence of the meta creature, as individuals in a society continuously update their beliefs and behaviors based on the actions and intentions of others.

To discriminate the meta creature hypothesis from alternative explanations, it would be necessary to identify specific patterns of behavior, communication, and emotional resonance that are consistent with the existence of a higher-order entity but cannot be accounted for by simpler models. This might involve analyzing large-scale social networks, cultural artifacts, and historical events to reveal the presence of an overarching structure that governs the dynamics of human societies.

It’s important to emphasize that the concept of a meta creature is speculative and not grounded in empirical evidence. While it offers an intriguing perspective on the forces that shape human societies, more research and interdisciplinary collaboration would be required to evaluate the plausibility and implications of such a hypothesis.

Q: emotional resonance sounds a bit foo foo. how to bring out the scientific, provable (or at least empirically discriminatable).

A: Apologies for any confusion. To clarify, “emotional resonance” in this context refers to the shared emotional experiences that arise from the collective behavior of individuals within a society. The term is used to describe how emotions can play a role in shaping social dynamics and the emergence of higher-order patterns. To address the scientific and empirical aspects of this phenomenon, we can consider the following approaches:

Neuroscience and affective computing: By examining the neural basis of emotions and their role in social cognition, we can gain insights into the processes that underlie shared emotional experiences. Affective computing, which focuses on the development of computational models and technologies to recognize, understand, and simulate human emotions, can provide empirical evidence of how emotions influence human behavior and decision-making.

Quantitative analysis of emotional expression: Researchers can analyze large-scale datasets of textual, audio, or visual data to identify patterns of emotional expression in human communication. By applying computational methods, such as natural language processing, sentiment analysis, or facial expression recognition, it is possible to quantify the role of emotions in shaping social dynamics and detect patterns that might be indicative of a higher-order structure.

Social psychology and behavioral experiments: Conducting controlled experiments in social psychology can help researchers understand how emotions influence group dynamics, decision-making, and cooperation. By manipulating the emotional context of social interactions and measuring the resulting behavioral outcomes, it is possible to test specific hypotheses about the role of emotions in the emergence of higher-order patterns.

Longitudinal studies and cross-cultural comparisons: Tracking the emotional experiences and social behavior of individuals and groups over time can provide insights into the temporal dynamics of emotional resonance. Comparing the emotional patterns observed in different cultural contexts can also help identify the universal and culturally-specific factors that contribute to the emergence of higher-order structures.

Network analysis and computational modeling: By representing human societies as complex networks of individuals and their interactions, researchers can use network analysis and computational modeling to explore the role of emotions in shaping social dynamics. Simulating the spread of emotions through social networks, for example, can help identify the conditions under which shared emotional experiences give rise to higher-order patterns.

These approaches can provide empirical evidence and testable hypotheses about the role of emotions in shaping social dynamics and the emergence of higher-order structures. By integrating insights from neuroscience, computational methods, psychology, and network science, researchers can develop a more rigorous and scientific understanding of the phenomenon previously referred to as “emotional resonance.”

Climate Change? Meh…

Every time I see or hear about CLIMATE CHANGE I sort of tune out.  Of course it’s a big, big threat and we have to come to grips with it.  But there is a downside of focusing most of the attention on this one problem.

Climate change requires explanations in terms of technology; greenhouse gasses, megatons of carbon dioxide, half lives, albedo effects, oceanic carbon sinks….

Technological solutions can then be proposed, debated, quantified and budgeted. It’s a neatly packaged discipline best left to the experts to debate the pros and cons.

It’s a trap.  I understand, a little, the key importance of greenhouse gas mitigation. I am fascinated by the technologies being implemented and those under development. I also am vaguely aware of the costs and other social pressures, the Realpolitik if you will, of implementing the required technologies in this complex world. Previous posts, here and at the now archived, addressed some of those topics.

So why do I think it’s a trap?  Imagine we had sudden breakthroughs on multiple fronts. Let’s have massive advances in both fusion and fission power; safety and waste problems all solved, the grid upgraded.  Let’s stop armed conflict and use the money saved for infrastructure.  Let’s find satisfying and well compensated employment for the affected fossil fuel workers.  What will things look like a hundred years from now?

It will be fantastic, yes? Greenhouse gas emissions well under control.  Global warming  constrained within 1.5℃. No wars and no climate refugees. Enough energy to desalinate water and produce fertilizer for all. Green hydrogen to allow unlimited global travel. It’s a science fiction paradise, a prelude to colonizing the planets. “Star Trek”, “Star Wars” and “Dune” are a little further into the future.

OR; will it be more like “On the Beach” or “The Road”?  Will the population continue to explode? Will there be any wild places at all?  Will we empty the oceans of edible fish and have no wild animals in the wild? Will farming still be viable in soil or only in fermentation plants? Will we employ millions of laborers to hand pollinate crops or will that be the work of automated drones?

Will plastic waste (super cheap oil and cheap energy will promote plastic production) overwhelm practically every small island in the world?

As I say, it’s the realm of science fiction.

Back to the present; 

The focus on CLIMATE CHANGE in the media and at decision making levels leads to a misguided optimism.  The general tone is one of ‘we can do this, we have the technology, we need to spend “only” 2% of GDP. – as long as we start now’.  Some very astute observers of the scene shy away from a more bleak conclusion by falling back on history; ‘we have always survived, there is no scenario of human extinction’.  Which begs the question of the quality of life of the survivors.

All of these discussions inevitably take place within the framework of our established culture and society.  Within that framework our needs / rights / wants always come first.  We need clean energy to support our way of life.  We need lots and lots of clean energy so that less fortunate people around the world can also enjoy our way of life.  We need even more energy to build a better (read ‘more materialistic’) way of life. 

We cannot continue to think that way.  We need to reverse our viewpoint to the needs of the biosphere. How do we need to change to sustain a biosphere that will allow future human development?  That is a complex question of philosophy and ethics, not of technology and economics.

As a first step to get to those questions (let alone the answers) I suggest we shift our emphasis from Climate Change to BIOSPHERE CHANGE.  Under that heading we can see a wider picture, with Climate Change and Clean Energy one (hugely important) problem and one solution set among many others.

None of what I say is new.  Many others have come to the same conclusions over the last decades.  I am simply trying to explain it to myself.  Lacking sufficient words I apply a simplified notation – which I have developed very gradually.  One iteration of this notation is in this post under the heading “Axioms, Symbols and Beliefs”.  To update and align the notation with this post here is a review:

  • There exists exactly one biosphere: Ǝ!Ⓑ (similar to, but not quite the same as “There is no Planet B”)
  • We humans , and our physical creations (cities, dams, roads, cars, plastic, books, shoelaces…), are all part of the biosphere Ⓗ⊂Ⓑ.  However we are not a necessary part of the biosphere.
  • We are dependent on, and interdependent with, the biosphere as a whole.
  • The vast non-physical universe of ideas and beliefs that we have constructed is just that; ideas and beliefs. is entirely dependent on humanity Ⓒ⊂Ⓗ
  • Therefore: Ⓒ⊂Ⓗ⊂Ⓑ
  • Despite this “obvious” relationship we, in“developed” countries, have adopted an attitude of being somehow different from Ⓑ.  We define ourselves more as members of our “culture, nation, religion etc.”,i.e. Ⓒ.  
  • At present considerations of drive our responses to the crisis in the biosphere.  𝚫Ⓒ→𝚫Ⓗ→𝚫
  • We need to reverse this attitude to become 𝚫Ⓒ←𝚫Ⓗ←𝚫Ⓑ


…to provide a link to the next entry we need the “influence” to flow from the right to the left in this diagram: