'Sentient' AI, and What Differentiates Us As Human Beings
Martin LeFevre: Have you heard the one about the Google engineer who was fired because he declared that the AI program he'd been working with, called LaMDA, has a soul? It's darkly fitting that as more and more humans lose their souls, AI engineers are seriously proposing that computers have them. ... Besides the multifaceted hilarity of the whole thing, the episode highlights the urgent need for clarity about the machines we've made in our image, as well as clarity about what differentiates us as human beings...
Jun 23, 2022, 5:46pm
Imagining 'Umwelts' Is Unnecessary
Martin LeFevre: Rows of magnificent cumulus are piled up to the east. ... Some people advocate trying to envision, through knowledge and imagination, an animal's 'Umwelt' - the world as experienced by a particular organism. ... In order to glimpse animals through their own eyes, thought must fall completely still, allowing our eyes to be bathed in immediacy and innocence of perception. ... The idea that each animal has its own "Umwelt, its own unique perceptual world," is still a product of human separativeness projected onto animals. ... In deeper meditative states, when thought is completely quiet and one has spontaneously left the dimension of the known, animals are often drawn to one...
Jun 22, 2022, 9:22am
Indict the Bastard
Martin LeFevre: In keeping with a long tradition of Americans looking the other way, hoping bad things will go away, and trying to have things both ways, the January 6 Committee is signaling that it won't call for the indictment of Donald Trump. ... If it does not, the Justice Department, under Merrick Garland, will almost certainly not indict him. Trump will run again in 2024, and very possibly steal the election ... He and his cronies need to be held accountable for their crimes...
Jun 16, 2022, 5:15pm
Refusing to Procreate
Martin LeFevre: A catchall phrase for a generalized sense of hopelessness about the future of humanity is "climate anxiety." Because of it, many young people are opting not to have children, which scares the bejesus out of mainstream pundits on left and right. Why? And to what degree is the trepidation a rational response? ... "Climate change" stands in for many things ... But it also symbolizes a dread about the future, a feeling that the world as it is and will be is an unfit place to bring children. ... Can "human agency overcome existential threats and usher in a welcoming and even thrilling world?" Not without a creative explosion of insight...
Jun 9, 2022, 11:11am
Intelligent Life, Meditation and Transmutation
Martin LeFevre: ...one first has to emotionally perceive the truth that that Homo sapiens is not an intelligent species, but a potentially intelligent species, with a limited number of chances to change course and grow into one. ... An intelligent, thought-bearing species is one that has put thought in its place. ... The fact that a sentient species is decimating the diversity of life on Earth to the degree of bringing about only the Sixth Mass Extinction in the history of life on Earth, should give everyone pause. ... Understanding ourselves and growing in wholeness, we naturally contribute to the wholeness of humanity....
Jun 7, 2022, 12:02pm
Expansion or Negation of Self?
Martin LeFevre: By invitation in the last few days, I attended a zoom reading and discussion of Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself." Considered his masterpiece, the poem fuses the 'divine I' with the egocentric I in an originally and quintessentially American attempt to have things both ways. ... However as the readings proceeded, I found myself sinking with dismay. I wondered, what would Whitman say about the parlous condition of the America today, when the spiritual health of the nation is lower than it was even before the Civil War? ... We don't have to imagine the pain of the world; we are required, as human beings, to feel it, since we are inextricable from the causes and effects of the world's suffering...
Jun 2, 2022, 10:02am
I Have Never Felt So Ashamed of America
Martin LeFevre: America is caught in a perpetual perfect storm of cultural collapse, rampant mental illness, unbridled darkness and evil, and roiled on a bloody sea of 400 million guns. ... All of that is background. The foreground, and the reason nothing changes, is that "we the people" are dead. ... These are not "incomprehensible" crimes, as politicians and pundits repeat ad nauseum with each nauseating slaughter, but all too understandable in a culture like this. Understanding such evil however, requires facing the non-individualistic sources of such acts. ... It is said that the killer acted alone. He did not. He had millions of complicit accomplices...
May 25, 2022, 5:40pm
Response To an Optimist’s Worldview
Martin LeFevre: Lynne is a life coach for business executives... If you are curious, there are countless resources that demonstrate the work being done from the ongoing breakthrough in human consciousness about business and social change. ... Martin ... We seem to be living on different planets. Obviously the universal human tendency to see what we want to see rather than see things as they are increases when the profit motive is involved. ... The planet is now in much more peril, and human consciousness much darker...
May 23, 2022, 1:41pm
The Locus of Evil Is Not a Person or a Nation
Martin LeFevre: The problem of evil is a very hard philosophical nut, one that no philosopher, East or West, has cracked. Illuminating the nature and operation of evil has now become a matter of inward survival, and even the physical survival of humanity. ... It's no longer possible to avoid collective darkness and evil. The accretion of darkness in human consciousness is destroying the human spirit. ... Evil is not a cosmic phenomenon but a man-made reality. ... For our part, Americans either individualize evil or project it onto an enemy. That's allowed collective darkness to grow in us as a people...
May 16, 2022, 9:45am
The Dialogue Buffet at the Death Café
Martin LeFevre: Recently a friend invited me to participate in a “Death Café” dialogue on zoom. ... in my view, “the official objective of a death café is to help people make the most of their finite lives.” ... I also found, as the literature states, that participating in a conversation that confronts our mortality “revives and an awareness of and appreciation for shared humanity.” ... In short, confronting our individual deaths is a totally different thing than confronting our collective destructiveness as a species. We have to do both...
May 7, 2022, 9:48am
Pouring the Foundation Before the Collapse
Martin LeFevre: Many people feel that the old world order has to completely collapse before man will change course. While that may be so, few realize that the foundation for a true order has to be poured before the collapse occurs, or nothing will essentially change and things will be even worse in the aftermath. ... The collapse of an old order doesn't have to be violent, but it is always deeply disruptive. ... The word 'foundation' is interesting. It comes from the Latin, fondere -- to pour, to melt. A true foundation for a global order has to be continuously poured, so it won't harden and become brittle, but remain liquid in each generation...
Apr 27, 2022, 10:00am
Not Think Tanks, But Insight Founts
Martin LeFevre: According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the term think tank was first used in military jargon during World War II to describe a safe place where plans and strategies could be discussed." Given that we may be on the cusp of World War III, it's high time for a new concept, the insight fount. ... Insight founts, by contrast, are based on the Socratic principle that when one clearly sees things as they are, and has insight into them, one's actions flow seamlessly from that perception, and one has no choice but to do the correct and fitting thing. ... By its very nature, insight is a wordless flash or state of understanding that's new, arising from questioning, listening and observing in the present moment...
Apr 18, 2022, 10:03am
The Mystic's Jesus
Martin LeFevre: To my mind, a mystic is simply a person who denies dogmas, creeds, rituals and beliefs, and has a direct experiencing of the sacred. Obviously that means the Christian's Jesus Christ is very different than the mystic's Jesus of Nazareth. ... Jesus mission was to bring about a radical change in the human heart. ... His mission failed because the people of his time refused, as the vast majority of people still do today, to be self-knowing and continuously learn about themselves...
Apr 15, 2022, 11:20am
Is Universality a Western Idea?
Martin LeFevre: Most people acknowledge that human beings are essentially the same wherever they live on earth. Yet there's also a strong belief that ethnic and cultural differences are primary, and that universality is a Western construct. ... It cannot be both - people are either essentially the same, and cultural differences are secondary; or cultural differences are primary, and people are different in dissimilar places. ... But the question remains: Is there such a thing as universality? Yes. It is not only possible, but it has become urgently necessary for a sufficient minority of people to emotionally perceive humankind as a whole...
Apr 12, 2022, 10:57am
'Higher Thought': Threshold and Impediment To Intelligence
Martin LeFevre: ... why does the division and fragmentation of symbolic thought so dominate the brain and planet, to the point of bringing about the Sixth Extinction, and with it, perhaps our own? ... Apparently, conscious, symbolic thought is such a powerful adaptation that the creature in whom it evolves strongly tends to view life and the universe in terms of it. Which is to say, in terms of separation, symbol and memory. That's an existential mistake of the highest order, and lies at the root of human destructiveness. ... I'm also sure that the transition and transmutation from creatures of thought (that is, psychological separation and memory), to human beings of insight and understanding, requires our conscious awareness and diligent spadework...
Apr 3, 2022, 10:17am