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Mitch SMith

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This conversation is closed.

What do we trade-off for the comfort of technology?

We all go for it - the quick-fix.

But later, we often find that our ignorance has been exploited for the advantage of someone else .. who's only virtue was to get there first.
Evolution has nothing to say about getting there first .. there's nothing there to code in genes.

So .. what I'm asking is - what are we giving up for comfort?

How much comfort is constructive, and at what point is it exploitive at the benefit of comfort for a few, but at the detriment to our species?

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Closing Statement from Mitch SMith

The conversation went quite wide.

I am disappointed that few actually got the point of what advantage is traded off for comfort - and who gets it.

There are even those so vein to think that they are in total control of their lives.

Hey ho - at least we explored it a bit.

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    Jul 1 2013: We loss touch with the natural world and the processes taking place that are suppose to define our humanity. Science has given us some understanding of those processes but we are not using that understanding enough to rethink traditional values and remold our society to fit this evolving knowledge but instead we are using it to create toys to perpetuate this failed ideology of wanting more and better.
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      Jul 3 2013: Yep.

      I get the feeling that we cannot detect the diminished returns of any specific comfort.

      We presume that we are intelligent and that we should know better .. and our laws often reflect that assumption.

      Do you ever get that insight that common-sense is not common at all? That these things we call common-sense are only known in retrospect?

      More and more, I am perceiving the limits of humans .. maybe because I'm getting older, but a friend of mine once said:
      "my life is like a table-top .. after a while, if I push something onto it, something else drops off"

      Are humans making a mistake to think that we all have infinite "table-tops"?
    • Jul 3 2013: Prosthetic limbs, cochlear implants, artificial hearts, health information technologies, water purifiers, solar panels, geo thermal energy, vertical farming, ocular implants, medical/assentive robots, electromagnetic implants for pain management, and more.

      Do you just picture iPhones and xboxes when thinking about new technology?

      Developing toys gets people to invest in technology they don't see a use for otherwise. Then we use the interest to create a feedback loop of innovation.
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    Jul 10 2013: Hi Mitch:>)
    In my perception, you answered the question in one of your comments on this thread....
    " something to do with how humans balance....."

    Technology is a tool, which we, as humans have created, and we can use the tools in many different ways. In medicine, for example, we have the technology to diagnose injuries and dis-ease, so we may know more about what we are dealing with for the purpose of staying healthy and/or healing.

    While many older practices were abandoned, in favor of using only modern technology, we are now seeing medical professionals re-evaluating the benefits of some older practices....meditation, yoga, acupuncture, reflexology, iridology, etc. Some medical professionals are using everything that is available to support or treat the body/mind in our quest for health and healing, which I wholeheartedly support. This, to me represents a new open-mindedness, which I think is beneficial to humans.

    There are some comments on this thread about media and communication systems. Those systems all have an on/off button which we can freely use....it is a choice. We can spend time watching tv, or using the computer mindlessly, and/or, we can benefit from the technology to learn, grow and evolve in a balanced way.

    No one can exploit us with technology, unless we allow that to happen. As thinking, feeling, intelligent, multi-sensory, multi dimensional human beings, we have choices. Personally, It feels more comfortable when I am balanced, so I strive for that feeling.
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      Jul 10 2013: Hi Colleen - long time - great to hear from you!

      On-off is not really true. we are addicted. And there is no "off".

      I have practiced this in the past . how to destroy the off button and get whatever I wanted - and I got a lot.

      I don't do that anymore .. it was just the game I was taught to play .. it's so boring after the first few times.

      You have no will - people like me will over-ride it before you even know you are at risk.

      There is another way.

      Those alive cannot be owned or over-ridden. I truly hope you are in that space because I have a certain regard for you - and my people should get the best of me and nothing less. I have certainly gotten as much - so there's nothing to lose any more.

      My sister is a teaching nurse .. she does research and practice of wound treatment with maggots. She has a colleague who researches leaches. And she is a leading expert on the techniques of pain management. None of this technology is new. It's little more than folk lore millennia old.
      myself .. well, I don't get dental pain because melaluka alternifora gum leaves are keyed to the same bacteria that likes to infect teeth and these leaves grow around here.
      If you have an open wound, it's best to put a piece of cloth an an ant nest overnight and apply the cloth to the wound next day - ants produce a broad spectrum antibiotic that they secrete around the nest.
      If you have a fungal infection, honey is effective where no commercial treatment works.
      Technology as we know it is a con-job.
      tribal observation preserved through the culture is far more effective.
      We are not commodoties - our surplus is for our culture, not for rich manipulators.
      Our suffering is not for sale. And our sadness is as real as our happiness - to deny this is to fail.
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        Jul 10 2013: OK Mitch, if you feel addicted, that's your thing. I prefer to believe and practice "choice". I do not agree Mitch that I have no will, or that anyone can over-ride my choices. That idea seems to simply reinforce the idea that we have no choice, and I don't think that is an idea worth spreading. I like to support people (including myself) with the idea that we DO have choices:>)

        I realize there is a new interest and research with the use of maggots/leaches, and it makes perfect sense, because maggots/leaches only feed on decayed material, so they actually clean the infected area, while encouraging increased blood flow, which is also good for healing. I'm not sure I would use it.....never know!

        I found out about honey as a treatment, years ago when I was in Egypt, because I had an infection in the hand. When I went into a restaurant, the waiters "treated" my hand with honey:>)

        When my daughter was tiny (about 6 months old), she got a bad cold. Her grandmother made a poultice with warm garlic and onions, and wrapped the baby's chest. Cold symptoms were gone very quickly. This serves the same purpose as Vicks Vaporub.....remember that product? I LOVE it, because that's what my mother used for chest congestion....apparently, she traded the garlic/onion poultice for the "new" Vicks! I don't think they sell it anymore, but I still have an old jar of it:>) Modern medical professionals sometimes want to give us a pill rather than the remedies that may have worked really well...we have a choice in my humble perception:>)

        I grow and use lots of herbs, which are both medicinal and very enjoyable to eat and drink in various forms:>) It looks like you have a new interest in Shamanism? GREAT!
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          Jul 12 2013: Hi Colleen,

          Addiction isn't always negative .. a large amount of human value is generated by people accommodating their quirks and foibles into productive pursuits .. a psych professor once told me that hyper-productivity can be one outcome of trauma etc .. so it is never so cut and dried.
          I am glad you are not available to manipulation - I have seen it practiced, and it gets a bit scary when you see how choice can be less than we assume. Most of this stuff gets practiced as a bag-of-tricks" for personal advantage, so I don't have much respect for it - better to understand the principles and gain a better responsibility as a result.

          Scientific medicine has given us much .. penicillin is the prime example, but there is something a bit more robust with folk lore - it's intergenerational in a way that science cannot support .. science tends to become shrouded in enclaves of academia and patent laws. Apart from that, I like the idea of being in a family and tradition that can give from the heart .. not just a matter of pride, but of feeling of value and integrated.

          P.S. shamanism took an interest in me .. a while ago. I don't talk about it often because there's not much of it that corresponds to the way it is represented .. we get images of witch doctors and formulaic ritual .. it's not like that at all .. well, not for me. Objects can have a certain power, but the crafting of them conforms more to circumstance without any ruleset .. it is a craft without precedent and cannot be taught as some assume .. not beyond a very general sense of "there's something over there". Talking with animals is the same .. they have something to say, or not, and one has to be in the right "phase" and time .. confluences that cannot be contrived .. happen .. or not. Acceptance is the only truth of it - it is not available to proof or disproof .. beyond that .. well, can observe things that deliver one-off advantage, but never for the practitioner..
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        Jul 13 2013: I agree Mitch, that addiction isn't always negative, and I didn't say that it is. I have wholeheartedly admitted to having an addiction to gardening and TED:>)

        You wrote..."You have no will - people like me will over-ride it before you even know you are at risk."
        I don't agree with that statement, because I know I have choices, just like everyone has choices. That is why I don't perceive any " trade-off for the comfort of technology" in my life. I use technology as a tool, and I know I have choices regarding how I balance the life experience. In my perception, nothing is ""cut and dried" my friend:>)

        If we don't truly believe that we have a choice, then yes, it is easier for others to manipulate us. If we "know" our self, and know that we have choices, it is less likely that we can be manipulated. As you insightfully say..." better to understand the principles and gain a better responsibility...". If we don't make plans for ourselves, somebody else will! LOL:>)

        Funny how that often happens.....someone/something takes an interest in US! I have the same feeling at times.....interests/activities call to me, and create excitement about learning. I had a little background for some of the concepts of shamanism because I've grown and used herbs for a long time, have been very interested in the body/mind connections in regard to healing, and have explored holistic healing.

        Years ago, I met a person who had lived and studied with a Shaman in So. America for a year. We became good friends, and of course he shared much of what he had learned. At the same time, I got lots of books about Shamanism and explored/studied on my own:>)
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    Jun 30 2013: You may find interesting this year's research in New York, Berlin, and Mumbai of the BMW Guggenheim Lab, a traveling urban think tank.

    Their theme for this first year has been "Confronting Comfort." http://www.bmwguggenheimlab.org/what-is-the-lab/theme

    Their work in New York most clearly focused on this theme, while the work in Mumbai revisited in a slightly different way by focusing on privacy as a dimension of comfort. The lab's work in Berlin strayed a bit from this theme, focusing mostly on the lack of communication between the government and urban population in determining uses of urban public spaces but more centrally private dwellings, as gentrification takes hold there.
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        Jun 30 2013: Did you follow the DIY projects, particularly in Berlin?
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        Jun 30 2013: The Lab is specifically urban, so no, I have not seen anything from them with a rural focus. The same is true of the Sustainable Cities Collective.

        The Berlin Lab had a little featured design of a sort of box shelter that could go anywhere and that lots of people made side by side as part of the lab's DIY stuff, but it is only a shelter- without any sort of facilities.

        At this point every home show displays little houses built within shed-like structures. Even IKEA shows an interior.

        But I fear we are getting somewhat away from Mitch's question.
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        Jul 1 2013: Are you familiar with an organization called Architecture for Humanity? They are specialists in very low cost shelter, primarily of the type that can be erected pretty quickly and at low cost in emergency situations.
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      Jul 1 2013: It's not that far off topic .. given that the topic is incredibly broad - navigation from the periphery to the core could reveal some important factors.

      With the accelerated urbanisation of humanity .. I get reminded of the invention of agriculture, and how it precipitated sedentary lifestyles.

      My personal policy about cities is "They are a great place to make money - but have an escape strategy."
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      Jul 10 2013: Yep.

      Thanks for this.

      Straight away I am in the shaman-space.

      That's not easily "talkable" but has a lot to do with objects. As a shaman, I can craft an object for any purpose. If it accords with my own objectives.

      Meaning. And I defined "meaning" as having the root of "means" and means being the path between now and next. "Meaning" is the same word as "purpose" .. and it is defined by the pressure of speciation.

      SO .. to explain a little, I spent a half hour speaking to my son about an impending house move.

      My wife decided the house we live in has become burdensome. The burden is the advancing gentrification radiating from the nearby city - we feel it as an oppressive cloud. So we look at a place far to the west that is totally isolated - as our lifestyles have become .. bar the internet - where we both make our livings.

      We are totally un-integrated with our community, because all around us are renteures - slag-dumps - retirees from the city, from whom are being extracted their life-times stored wealth for the rest of their expected longevity.

      Well... I retired from that 10 years ago and it's not the end.

      So I have to educate my home-schooled son about snake awareness - how to keep the lower legs fortified from the 10 most deadly snakes in the world .. but not to worry - we just make a lot of noise, and they, being shy creatures will move away. And they don't actually live to bite humans.

      SO we are locally divorced because everyone is divorced .. running through channels designed to extract their increase and they are all poverty-stricken no matter what their annual income is.

      So we don't need a community - in this age, there is no community.

      We will go away - beyond the definitions. And when it all explodes, we will gravitate a tribe from the refugees, and we will start it all over again. Or die .. which is the more llikely outcome.. but between now and then, we are going to have a s**tload of fun. On our own terms.
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        Jul 10 2013: Thank you for defining words that are used differently in Australia.

        One issue many people raise about cities is that many people are disconnected or not bonded in any significant way with neighbors whose purpose in living there is different. One of the things Jane Jacob considered a strength of the city was exactly the choice of whether to be/feel separated or to connect with others and within connection, the extent of connection. I know people I see every day and talk with whose names I do not remember. I still value the sort of regular connection we have.

        I don't recall the age of your son. Will he miss friends when you move farther out?
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          Jul 12 2013: Hi Fritzie,

          My son is 12 .. he is autistic .. but a lot less autistic than when he was 6.

          I didn't actually want to become this isolated .. I'm naturally gregarious .. then with the child being so radically different, all the common basis dissolved.

          Before all that, I was in a top earning job as a corporate consultant, living in the epicentre of the city with everything within a 1 minute walk .. anything at all. I suppose I was one of the 0.01% .. certainly as defined by money.

          The isolation began with the birth, and then my wife was confronted with the true isolation of western culture - the abandonment of motherhood .. so she started an online mother's group .. I watched closely as it became a political unit and the target for marketeers, journalists, politicians and perverts. She solved a large swath of human problems keeping that community running.
          The combined burden of all that precipitated our total disengagement with the urban paradigm - we had the best it could offer, and in the end one wakes up in the middle of the night wondering what your life is for .. with a glaring answer of "not anything at all" which is intolerable. SO we left.
          Went into a semi-rural place and concentrated on music and art - as opposite as we could possibly get. Then the child got the ASD diagnosis when we tried to enrol him in a school.
          So we read all the peer reviewed papers on autism, appointed psyches and confronted the mainstream education system to get our kid integrated.
          After a lot of effort and research, we found that it's not a case of integrating into .. we would have to change the entire world to correct the skew. And so we have done.
          It's exhausting. My child is no longer easily defined as ASD. The education department has produced a handful of people who understand that it's all a sham, and we have a place in reality.
          Better than waking up at 4am with no reason to be on the surface of the planet. Popularity becomes a craft .. at needs.
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          Jul 12 2013: Here we go!

          Courtesy of my wife Ayca:

          http://www.slaughterhouse.com.au/destinationthere/2013/07/12/internet-connection-for-animals/

          see what I mean?

          BTW - Creative Copyright (CC) is granted on these images - if you need to quote sources.
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        Jul 12 2013: Are the images your son's work? I am so glad he is thriving.

        Here is another piece you may find interesting about creating informal community: http://www.thepolisblog.org/2013/07/contested-urbanism-dharavi.html
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          Jul 12 2013: No The images are by my wife - it was very quickly done .. and hard to draw when larfing so much. (there's more production-grade stuff on the website .. but the cartoonic simplicity is sufficient for that particular message.)

          Thanks for the link. David Harvey also promotes the work of Lefebvre .. personally, I think there is only one dynamic at work in urbanisation: money. That's the only reason to go into a city, and if you don't have an exit strategy you get trapped there.
          But, whatever happens, humans form up into tribes. I'd like to look at the study done by the group in your link to get access to the detail .. it might help as a cross section with Jared Diamond's recent book .. which is next on my reading list. From these bodies of work, I might be able to do a global abstraction matrix to identify disparate tribal formations much as I did for mercantile corporations .. and I expect it will be similar .. but perhaps with some evolutionary taxonomies added. How all that relates to comfort trade-offs and the role of technology is not clear .. but there's something there. The good thing about the corporate model is that it clearly demarks resource allocations .. and that measures entropy rates.
          What I find particularly attractive about the link is that these "informal" megalithic urban phenomena accumulate "by default" and are not helped at all by top-down interference. If you put aside the artificial motive of money for a moment, that leaves a skeletal structure that requires no planning or education .. a property of the species as it were. Even slime mould does this when it gets a resource.
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        Jul 12 2013: You have probably heard the TED Talk about the informal economy and the amount of commerce therein. I don't remember now the speaker.

        I very much enjoy art brut and mistook the images for that sort of work. There is an arts magazine that features it, called Raw Vision. That work ranges from the quite simple to the incredibly complex.
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          Jul 12 2013: Art is being profoundly changed by the internet right now.
          It's a phenomenon that I refer to as "the ghost in the machine".
          The tool shapes the work.by virtue of its limitations. For instance all the music called "techno" arises from what is easily done with synthesisers. If you have a lathe, things tend to be cylindrical.
          In reciprocation, the tool also alters the brain - the tool map becomes part of the body definition and therefore enters the metaphorical/symbolic definition of the world view.
          So we have these 3 main forces exerting on us that shape us:
          1. the stasis of the proto-self (comfort),
          2, the changing landscape of day-to-day environment (discomfort).
          3. the limitations of the tools (potentiation)
          So I suppose you could match motives to each of these forces .. so .. call them intrinsic and extrinsic motivators plus a topological definition of potential means.
          I'll think on that.
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    Jul 1 2013: To earn comfort we spend our lives in a 10 by 10 cubicles...perfect worker bees.

    To earn comfort..

    We Give up freedom

    freedom to move.

    freedom to remain close to the nature and enjoy it.
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      Jul 3 2013: The tortoise is adapted - it has a thick shell.

      The human is adaptable - it's skin is as thin as paper.

      In times of teeth and claws, the tortoise rules, the human takes the tortoise's shell.

      In times of fast floods and running Lava, the turtle dies and the human is already running.

      There is a universal balance between adaptation and adaptability.

      We have swift adaptability .. how swift is enough?
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    Jul 1 2013: I'll just throw in a tangent here:

    How about we look at the relationship between comfort and "benefits".

    For instance, most citizens in western "democracies" surrender their recourse to violence to the state in return for the benefit of having policemen available to protect them.
    Then the policemen start becoming violent without due cause.
    The benefit is eroded without the corresponding return of the right to commit violence.

    Don't let us kid ourselves - violence is a primary tool of survival. Surrendering it is a major concession.
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      Jul 1 2013: America is an advanced society, relatively speaking. As an American I have the right to use force (violence) in protecting myself from a perceived threat. I would (violently even) oppose any government effort to seek my surrender of my right to defend myself with "equal force". Now, about trade-offs, I offer one example. I willingly trade my right to privacy for the right to access the Internet and its immense benefits. I know "they" can, and probably do, record every keystroke I make. I choose not to make the same trade-off to participate in the social media where the benefit is far less influential for me. Anyway, I think the short answer to your question is "privacy".
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        Jul 3 2013: I agree.

        The object of my post was to demonstrate the manifold aspects of comfort.

        Here is the great power of TED. The participants in these talks and commentaries are united by one single strength - honesty. Even if we cannot agree with the divergent stances, we can acknowledge the earnest expression of them.

        That gives rise to a rare value - the ability to discern multiple aspects of a single subject. At best it can reveal dimensions of a problem that are not obvious, at worst it can reveal common misconceptions.

        Either way - it allows us to become wiser than we can each be alone. I find that enormously encouraging - and I thank you for your contribution.
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    Jul 1 2013: Are you thinking of things like using fuel and electricity to keep living spaces within a narrow band of optimal temperature rather than allowing greater variation of heat and cold? Perhaps using private automobiles for the sake of privacy, time-saving, and control of ones mobility in lieu of using public transportation? Using artificial lighting rather than waking and retiring with the sun?
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      Jul 1 2013: Yes,

      As a rough measure, one might use the human body as a metric.
      For instance:
      Our bodies seem to require some level of motion to maintain robust health.
      There is some evidence that we need electrical grounding for many cellular functions to operate properly - polymer-soled shoes are not good for that.
      The lymphatic system relies on a certain level of deep breathing for circulation.
      Over-washing the skin actually makes us more vulnerable to infection.
      Then there are the radiation issues with cell phones and other electronic gadgets.

      All these things seem to have polar extremes .. water is good to drink, but easy to drown in.
      Should all these things be taken in isolation? Or is there a common dynamic that can be employed for forming adaptive policy?
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        Jul 1 2013: As you write, what is common is that more is not always better (of use of particular technologies or of anything else). There are ranges of "better" points (I am deliberately not using the word optimal, as I doubt there is typically a unique best level of use), which differ for different people.
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    • Jun 30 2013: It has occurred to me that perhaps historians will single out the Twentieth Century for teaching the world that the costs of some forms of technology can be too high.

      I can remember the first time I saw a news story about some tree huggers, trying to save some trees from being cut down. I think I was in my early teens. We all thought this behavior was bizarre, possibly crazy. It took a few years before we heard the word environmentalist, and even then this seemed a strange concept that threatened progress. It caught on and became mainstream. Now we are all working towards sustainable everything, and zero environmental impact. Soon healthy lifestyle will be a major factor in technology and city design, architecture, career choice, etc. It seems to be very difficult to learn what should be obvious.
  • Jun 30 2013: A very good question, and extremely difficult to answer comprehensively.

    Anyone who makes broad use of modern electronics has traded off privacy.

    Everyone who uses an alarm clock to get up in the morning has given up sleeping as long as we need. Inadequate sleep results in further costs from mental and health problems.

    Automobiles have many costs, both direct and indirect. We have turned paradise into a parking lot.

    Too many times I used the TV to keep our children occupied; now, considering the trade-off for that is scary.

    If I tried, I could probably go on for hours. Its almost too frightful to consider, especially when you consider the societal costs plus the personal costs. How many extremely bad decisions have been made by managers and politicians because they did not get enough sleep?
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      Jul 1 2013: Yes, it's a difficult one.

      I get a feeling that there might be some simple metric .. something to do with how humans balance long and short term decision making. There's a lot of material on this with offering long term Vs. short term rewards (would you like a dollar today or 2 dollars next year?).

      I keep thinking of that escalator leading up to the exercise gym.
      • Jul 1 2013: It seems that you are more interested in the personal trade-offs, rather than societal trade-offs.

        That escalator is indeed interesting. Apparently, the proprietor considered it to be a good investment. Entrepreneurs can be a good source of behavioral insights.
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          Jul 1 2013: What societal trade-offs did you have in mind?
          It would be interesting to explore the synergy.

          Yes - entrepreneurs are adapt at harvesting advantage - it is a deeply psychological art, well worth examining.
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        Jul 1 2013: Anyone who wants to search this literature could use "discount rate" as a key word.
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          Jul 3 2013: Thanks for the suggestion Fritzie!

          It's been a few years since I did a business case.

          The good thing about applying monetized NPV is that it directly addresses advantage - if you accept that money is the unitisation of advantage.

          From that basis one would have to look deeply at the profit motive.

          Here is where it gets gnarly. For instance, I have noticed that successful entrepreneurs only apply discount rates as a bottom threshold for any particular venture .. they hire accountants to do that for them because their motive is not so much the profit, but the thrill of winning it - or the thrill of getting huge amounts of it. The accountants' mindset is not motivated in that way.

          It occurs to me that the studies on the affects of dopamine are cogent here, but that all of it devolves, ultimately, to moral and ethical imponderables.

          And externalities are often akin to common-sense - sometimes you can't know them until after they appear.

          The main problem with comfort is that it manifests as a threshold - above which is survival, below which is sickness and death.
          We then get a temporal frame .. for instance, it may be prudent to lay-in stores for winter if you want to still be alive next summer.

          I think the core target of my question here is: how do we measure the upper threshold?

          Diminished returns seems like a good place to start.
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        Jul 3 2013: Are you saying that you think of sickness and death as below a low threshold, then comes survival but not comfort, and then an upper threshold defines the boundary between survival and "comfort?"

        The concept of diminishing returns describes something continuous, whereas the concept of threshold sounds more discrete.

        There is no reason in principle that you could not discount utility rather than money. It's about now versus later rather than about cash now versus cash later.
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          Jul 3 2013: Hmm I've not been clear ..

          The lower threshold is like the bottom end of a range you could call comfort.

          So Comfort begins at survival, goes through a range suitable for risk variability, but beyond that becomes discomfort via unintended consequences.

          Adaptability infers a similar range .. a point at which the adaptability is exceeded by conditions.

          I agree that money is not sufficient to fully measure advantage. There's something significant about that .. apart from utility - any ideas?
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        Jul 3 2013: I see. You are looking for upper and lower bounds on comfort. And normally when people write diminishing returns, they mean diminishing marginal returns. I see now your different meaning.

        Are you thinking, then, that utility is a concept connected to an individual and you want an aggregate measure?
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          Jul 4 2013: Well . yes.

          But there's a dross in the forge .. so to speak . that is the fractal egress of the self.

          This thing bothers me .. that I wanted to define a self as being a nucleus/membrane model ..and that they are essentially the same thing . and that the membrane is the thing that modulates entropy with the nucleus being the purpose of the membrane .. a definition .. or something like a standing wave. The membrane modulates entropy in negentropic and super-entropic flows (flux?)

          .. in a way, these flows are independent .. I was looking for the singularity where the flows produced a vertical flux barrier that precipitates the explosive negation of the self ..
          But what I am finding is that there is always a fractal escape path .. the self cannot be isolated .. no self can exist without relation to another - and the relation can connect through grain-definitions that exceed perceptional field-size.

          There is an old traditional concept that describes the breaking of the circle .. so far it looks like there is no such thing as a circle in this universe - and that the break-point is not arbitrary.

          So when I talk about diminishing returns .. I am looking at identifying the reality break-point of any particular confluence of negentropy.

          I suspect that the exit point is the beginning of an exploration into the super-entropic field - each self creates the environment in which other selves must manifest in order to balance the conservation of entropy.

          What I'm getting at is that the universal entropic bias is the entire genesis of the universe .. and that it need be no more than 1:1-(1/infinity). The interaction of the prime singularities. (Boolean = not no-thing .. not not = not is minus not not .. and has no negative)

          Nearest to the break-in-the-circle are the diminished returns - nothing of this self can pass through without being a part of the self on the other side.

          Look at us .. we do this miracle routinely.
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        Jul 4 2013: There is indeed no question that our utility/satisfaction/well-being both affects and is affected by others. And in this we have the connection or interdependence among utilities. The social utility is not merely an aggregate of independent others.
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          Jul 6 2013: Yes - it is the true increase.
          GDP assumes zero sum - which cannot be .. which is why it is always equal to population growth.
          Reality does not care about population.
          Humans are fools to think that GDP is anything but a lie.
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        Jul 6 2013: I have never thought of GDP as attempting to capture quality of life. It is simply an indicator of stuff produced and its market value and tends, I believe, to be correlated with other things like availability of health care and sanitation.
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          Jul 7 2013: Mind wandered.. I've been looking at alternate interpretations of "wealth" .. specially to do with the source of negentropy .. and how/why it is stored.
          Current economic practices assume that all increase is harvested and entropized by specialised individuals who's only function is to destroy increase.
          (edit: That role might be available to evolutionary forces .. accelerated entropy does not seem the required pathway just now .. Sapolsky has some hints about an alternate path .. but it's not politic for me to point that out - no one wants to know just yet)
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        Jul 7 2013: Could you rephrase the second paragraph?
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          Jul 8 2013: OK .. don't want everyone to get a heads up on that one just yet .. we'll keep it to ourselves ;)

          But just between you and me and anyone else who can read .. do you think that subtracting humanity from the local entropic system is advisable?
          The best of wisdom is that we should all go solar .. and that means we don't need anything else on the planet to remain alive .. the most complete monoculture in the universe!

          What an achievement!

          And so much for the quality of human wisdom :)

          And don't worry - no one ever reads these long threads .. it is like the ultimate "cloaking" technology.