Lack of apt expressions!

Lack of apt expressions can be though of as a great source of frustration among people. I recently saw a movie in which a psychiatrist explains expressiveness. He says, if we are angry, we have to express it. If we are sad, we have to express it. Same thing applies to happiness, determination and all sorts of other emotions we have. But, it can be fatal to a relationship if we don’t contain those expressions within socially acceptable limits. Hence the term “apt expression”.

Coming back to the topic, we are remarkably intolerant of others now a days. We fail to express ourselves properly and we get irritated when someone else expresses. I recall incidents were people have displayed silly attitude which are are carcinogenic to the mind. It becomes a cancer and eats the whole psyche. In fact I know a friend of mine who has been the victim of her own psychic cancer.

Are we biologically evolved to be selfish? I think we are. That is a survival instinct. But as Dr. Dawkins mentioned in his remarkable book “The Selfish Gene”, there is something called meme which is a unit of social awareness that also evolves overtime. And that meme has brought more insight into our minds than ever before. We are now able to surpass our own biological predispositions in order to have total control over our lives and our future.

But does this ability that evolved for the survival of society will eventually cut at the roots of humanity? May be if we let the meme evolve in anyway it likes. Am I prejudiced? I think yes and everyone I know are prejudiced one way or the other. The difference is that I admit it and others don’t. And that brings us back to the beginning of the discussion. Are we really expressing ourselves?

I must let the readers know that it is perfectly okay to be prejudiced. What is not okay is to express the prejudice in manners that are not acceptable. You can express your prejudice in subtle languages that others can accept. Thinking that another person will be offended and not expressing ourselves is unhealthy. It does not mean that we should blurt out at others in public. May be we can have a private conversation on the phone so that no one else has to know.

Expressions can have negative effects and are highly volatile if not handled properly. We were taught about adult ego during our personality development training program. It speaks about maintaining proper composure while talking to people. Whether this is practical or not is something I leave to the readers. But mind you, there are civilizations on Earth where people do follow etiquettes of respecting one another and obviously that civilization is not part of the Indian subcontinent.

A note on the Fermi-Hart Paradox!

The Habitable Zone

The Habitable Zone around a star

The future of humanity looks bleak and bright at the same time depending on how we perceive it. If we look around, we may feel that we are moving forward towards a brighter tomorrow. However, if you look up, the thoughts change. The sky on a clear night is one of the most beautiful sights you can get on Earth but this awe inspiring sight brings questions into our minds regarding the bleak future of human race. Whether we are alone in the universe is a question that might give us clues about our own fate in the distant future. We can hope to grow so advanced that we wouldn’t have to look back or we can expect ourselves to fall back and perish. SETI scientists spend their entire lives with radio telescopes pointed at the sky listening to the “cosmic buzz” hoping to find evidence that there is intelligent life outside Earth. The Drake Equation gives different estimates regarding the number of intelligent civilizations outside depending on whether it is an optimist or a pessimist who substitutes the values. However to this day, there hasn’t been any conclusive evidence that there is life outside out planet.

This paradox first postulated by Enrico Fermi and later examined by Michael H. Hart, analyzes various reasons why there haven’t been any intelligent exobiology detected so far.

The Drake Equation – Predicts the number of civilizations in the galaxy

The statement made by the Fermi-Hart Paradox is as follows:

The apparent size and age of the universe suggest that many technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilizations ought to exist. However, this hypothesis seems inconsistent with the lack of observational evidence to support it.

So why is it that despite the size of the universe, we haven’t seen intelligent life outside earth yet? Two corollaries of the Fermi-Hart paradox may give us some clues. They are the Doomsday argument and Von Neumann Probe.

According to the Doomsday Argument, we ask ourselves, Is it the nature of intelligent life to destroy itself?

This theme has been extensively explored in science as well as science fiction alike and deals with an argument that precludes the possibility of a technological civilization with an invariable proclivity to destroy themselves shortly after developing radio or space technology. The various postulated means of annihilation include biological and nuclear warfare, nano-technological catastrophe, accidental contamination, a badly programmed super-intelligence, ill-advised physics experiments or a Malthusian Catastrophe that deteriorates the planet’s ecosphere.

Probabilistic argumetns have bene put forward suggesting human extinction as an inevitable event happening sooner than later. Sagan and Shklovsky suggested in 1966 that either a technological civilization will destroy itself within a century after developing interstellar communicative capability or will master their self destructive tendencies and survive for billions of years.

An inhabitable planet

Gliese 581c – An exoplanet within the Goldilock zone of its star

Thermodynamics and chaos theory may also suggest clues regarding the tendency to self annihilate. As far as life can evolve as an ordered system, it may not create a problem but when it starts with its interstellar communicative phase, the system would probably get unstable and eventually self destruct.

Self destruction is a paradoxical outcome of evolutionary process in a Darwinian point of view. Evolutionary psychology suggests that at a time when humans competed for scarce resources, they were subjected to aggressive instinctual drives like tendency to consume resources, extend longevity and to reproduce which eventually led to a more technological society which may drive us to extinction. Self destruction of a technological civilization, according to Fermi, might be a universal occurrence. Self destruction may not be the only outcome though. There is a remote possibility of the civilization getting back to being non-technological as we saw happening to the Ba’ku people in the movie Star Trek: Insurrection.

A Flying Saucer – An alien craft?

A slightly different question is posed by the Von Neumann probe which asks, Is it the nature of intelligent life to destroy others?

This postulate investigates the possibility of a technological civilization, once it reaches a certain level of technological capability, destroys other intelligence when they appear. This concept has also been explored in science fiction for decades. The causes of such extermination might be expansionism, paranoia or plain aggression. Cosmologist Robert Harrison added a corrolary to Sagan and Shklovsky’s suggestion in 1981 by arguing that given a technological species that has overcome its own tendency to self destruct, it will view other species in the universe as a virus and try to exterminate them. A direct consequence of this argument is the picture of an intelligent being as a super-predator, just as humans are today.

Von Neumann Probe

Extracting a star’s energy – An example of a Von Neumann Probe

Just like exploration, extermination of other civilizations can be carried out using self-replicating artificial probes. It is a more dangerous case since even after the civilization that created such probes have died out, these probes will continue to do the job their creators assigned to them. If take this possibility into consideration, then that might answer the scarcity of observational evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence, because either these probes will destroy them, force them to be quiet or force them to live in hiding to prevent detection.

Leaving all these arguments aside, there is still a very high probability that we are indeed alone in this universe. To conclude, what is going to be our future? Are we heading towards self destruction? Is our life and society as ephemeral as that of a mayfly? Are the advancements we make every day in technology actually the nails we are driving into our own coffins? Or are we going to be like the Borgs? I leave this up to you to answer.

Sources:

Fermi Paradox
Risks to civilization
Article by Fraser Cain
Living in a killing world
Margaret Atwood
Memory Alpha on Borg
Wikipedia on Malthusian Catastrophe

Brain drain vs Globalization!

A few weeks back, one of my close friends asked me to comment on a blog he wrote in Blogger regarding the subject called “brain drain”. I don’t know how much the western world is familiar with it and its effects but what he was concerned about was that a lot of Indians are moving to developed countries in search of better education or job opportunities. Most of them never return and eventually gain citizenship of the respective countries where they migrate to. The ill effects of this is that the countries from where these people move out will be deprived of their intellectual faculties which will adversely affect the development of their nation.

I commented something in favor of what he told and he was very happy about it. But later on I just had a feeling whether I made a mistake by writing in his favor. Whether he was actually right. What made me think is the existence of an interesting concept called globalization. Why I call it interesting is that there is an underlying state, the state of being a human being.

Someone asked me once about my nationality. I replied : “I am a human being of planet Earth”. Isn’t that the best way of describing oneself? I think yes. And that is the subject of this post.

The place we live on Earth is subject to what we do there. And in order to be at a place to do something, there has to be a driving force. Something like a desire and in most cases it is either education or career or family backgrounds. And yes, there are other instances too which can be categorized as miscellaneous. Either way, the place we live depends on many different reasons.

When we expand this, the city becomes part of a state which again is the part of a country. Very few people expand it to the extant of continents or the entire planet especially when describing themselves. Now the question is why should we say that we are human beings of Earth. There are no aliens in touch with us to ask where we come from. But I must say that we need to have that in mind all the time. Whenever we proudly say that “I am an Indian” or “I am an American”, we should realize that we are part of a bigger world that that.

Having said that, does it make sense to complain that a person is migrating to another country? Certainly not. As atheists, we should not differentiate or categorize people based on religion, race, color, nationality, language etc. And when atheism becomes more widely accepted, when more people leave their religious faith, the concept of nationality in my guess will lose its meaning. When someone migrates to another place, he/she will have migrated to another part of Earth which is inhabitable. And the notion of selling someone’s brain to another country is meaningless because through globalization, every invention/discovery made for the benefit of humanity will obviously spread across the globe.

So it is totally unfair if someone says that there is brain drain and that wise people are moving out to different places. I must say that they have to move out. Every human being will have an intrinsic feeling or a dream about the kind of place he/she will be comfortable living and working. And I think each one of us should be allowed to be in places where we want to be. Just like Indians move to other countries, people from there can come and settle in India if they like it here and I see no harm in it.

I am glad that English has become the global language even though there are people who don’t use it primarily. And I believe that in another 100 years or so it will be the spoken language throughout the world. The reason is that the word nation will lose its meaning with true globalization and when that happens, there will be a requirement for a common language of communication and that I assume will be English. There will be a common currency everywhere. There will be a governing body ruling the entire planet something similar to what we see in Star Wars. There will be no more Indians or Americans or Russians. There will be Earthlings all around.

I imagine a world where there are no boundaries. Where people have the same tongue. Have the same meaning for brotherhood. A world without religion where scientific reasoning dominates. Where there is law and order and proper hierarchical government to implement it in order to secure all the benefits for humanity.

Now I think I can tell my friend based on what I just posted that even though he got his facts right, he is so terribly wrong. What he told makes sense only in the context of nation and when that disappears, brain drain will disappear too!