Chapter Twenty-Nine: Questions


“… the prediction favored by most cosmologists is not a Big Rip but rather continued expansion and cooling, the universe ultimately sliding into a “Big Freeze.” History of the universe, PBS, 2000,

“That our own “real” universe is more likely a simulation than not has been seriously argued in the philosophy field, and experiments capable of providing evidence for or against this are described by physicists.”
Philosophy: N. Bostrom, Are you living in a computer simulation? See
Experiments: S. R. Beane, Z. Davoudi, M. J. Savage, Constraints on the universe as a numerical simulation, arXiv, arXiv:1210.1847v2,

“… it is known that most species last no longer than a few million years.” S. J. Gould, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, Harvard University Press, 2002.



This book has benefited greatly from input by numerous parties; I am grateful to each. They include David Alexander, Arnold and Riva Berleant, CASFWG, Keith Curtis, Joseph Friedlander, Bill Friedman, Maciamo Hay, Tom Howard, David Hutchinson, Jack Jackson, Maryann Karinch, Alan Kauffman, Peg Kay, Daniel Levine, Donald Maclean, Shirin Mirlohi, Margaret Morris, the Natural Philosophy Study Group, Steve Nerlich, Megan Neumann, Terri Proksch, Jonathan Simonson, Logan Streondj, Viktor Toth, Tihamer Toth-Fejel, UALR, Willard Wells, Eleanor and George (1928–2012) Wolff, Eve Syrkin Wurtele, Paul Yoder, and others. You probably know why you’re here and have my heartfelt thanks! If your name was inadvertently omitted, please let me know. A special mention goes to Eric Klien of the Lifeboat Foundation for his confidence in this book and, in addition, his invaluable editorial and other support.

I also extend my thanks to you, the reader, for your interest in this fascinating subject we call the future. If you would like to submit a suggestion or correction, however large or small, for the next edition, please go to or to the facebook discussion group, It will be received with appreciation.


About the Cover Artists and Designers


The cover of the book you are reading features one of a collection of fine works by artists associated with Lifeboat. This book is distributed featuring each artist at different times. To view and enjoy all of them online, simply visit the publisher at Please read more about the artists below.


Catherine Asaro received her PhD in chemical physics from Harvard University and wrote her doctorate in theoretical atomic and molecular physics. For the past twenty years, she has been a novelist with over twenty-five science fiction novels and near future thrillers published, as well as numerous works of shorter fiction and non-fiction. She was elected to two terms as the president of the board of directors for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, sand is the president and founder of Starflight Music, an independent record label. She also teaches as a visiting professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and coaches profoundly gifted math students in high school and middle school for top-ranked national and international contests, for example the USA Mathematical Olympiad and the American Regional Mathematics League. She is a member of SIGMA, a think tank of speculative writers and scientists who advise the government regarding future trends affecting national security.

Catherine is a two-time winner of the Nebula Award, sometimes known as the “Oscar of Science Fiction,” for her novel The Quantum Rose and her novella The Spacetime Pool, and she has won numerous other awards for her science fiction, fantasy, and high-tech thrillers. She appears as the Author Guest of Honor, as a futurist and keynote speaker, and as a singer at numerous conferences in the United States and abroad, including for example Guest of Honor at the New Zealand National Science Fiction Convention.

Find out more at


Design: Catherine Asaro. Clock art: Francesco De Comité.



  1. Daniel Battis a writer, teacher, designer, and developer of community groups. He currently serves as the Art Director at a nonprofit organization in Sacramento, California. He has written and published several short stories including the children’s tale “Keaghan in Dreamside” and is the designer of many more. In addition, he is preparing the release of his first full-length novel,The Young Gods. Jason is a member of the Lifeboat Foundation, serves on the Advisory Board for the University of Arizona’s Consortium for Applied Space Ethics, and was a speaker at the 100 Year Starship Symposiums in 2011 and 2012. He and his family live in northern California.

Find out more at



Frank D. Smith is a Lifeboat Foundation staff member and project coordinator of the InfoPreserver skills repository wiki at (email: An “artnician” from Los Angeles who has interwoven art and technology throughout his career, he now makes his home in Bellingham, Washington, USA with his beautiful wife Kimberly and amazing stepdaughter Siri. He hopes to be creating holographic covers for Lifeboat Foundation publications in a hundred years.

Find out more at


About the Author


Daniel Berleant earned his PhD and MS from the University of Texas at Austin in 1991. His BS is from MIT. He has worked in industry as a software engineer and taught courses at three universities to students ranging from the freshman to advanced graduate levels. Berleant and his students’ research has been funded through the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Corporation for National and Community Service, and other agencies; and through industry including Procter and Gamble, Electricité de France, Invitrogen, and others. Research in his lab has included artificial intelligence, inference under severe uncertainty, web science, energy, text mining, bioinformatics, and technology foresight.

Find out more at



Chapter Two: Smart Pills’n Such — Cognitive Enhancement the Easy Way


“… alpha-CaM kinase II …”: L. Gravitz, Selectively deleting memories, Technology Review, Oct. 22, 2008,

“The common anti-diabetic drug metformin, for example, can make mice learn water mazes better; they even grow more neurons in the process.” J. Wang, D. Gallagher, L. DeVito, G. Cancino, D. Tsui, L. He, G. Keller, P. Frankland, D. Kaplan, F. Miller, Metformin activates an atypical PKC-CBP pathway to promote neurogenesis and enhance spatial memory formation, Cell Stem Cell [sic], 2012, vol. 11, issue 1, pp. 23–35,

Table 1. Some cognitive enhancement substances and activities.”,

  • (i) For entries caffeine through methylphenidate, review and additional references provided in A. Sandberg and N. Bostrom, Converging cognitive enhancements, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2006, vol. 1093, pp. 201–227,
  • (ii) For hydromel, an ancient recipe is: Pour some water (“hydro”) and honey (“mel”) into a container. Mix well. Enjoy!
  • (iii) For modafinil, armodafinil is a newer drug available as nuvigil but not available as a generic.
  • (iv) For piracetam and Hydergine, simply start with a web search.
  • (v) For donepezil, see M. S. Mumenthaler, et al., Psychoactive drugs and pilot performance: A comparison of nicotine, donepezil, and alcohol effects, Neuropsychopharmacology, July 2003, vol. 28, no. 7, pp. 1366–1373,
  • (vi) For cortactin, see: UBC researchers’ discovery could rejuvenate the brain, The University of British Columbia, Dec. 2008,
  • (vii) For magnesium threonate, see I. Slutsky et al., Enhancement of learning and memory by elevating brain magnesium, Neuron, Jan. 28, 2010, and Ordinary magnesium supplements (“milk of magnesia,” dolomite, etc.) may help as well.
  • (viii) For insulin-like growth factor 2, see D. Y. Chen, et al., A critical role for IGF-II in memory consolidation and enhancement, Nature, Jan. 2011, vol. 469, pp. 491–497.
  • (ix) For metformin, see Wang, et al. (2012), detailed above.
  • (x) For exercise, see (1) H. van Praag, et al., Running enhances neurogenesis, learning, and long-term potentiation in mice, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 1999, vol. 96, no. 23, pp. 13427–13431; (2) P. S. Eriksson, et al., Neurogenesis in the adult human hippocampus, Nature Medicine, 1998, vol. 4, pp. 1313–1317; (3); and (4) C. D. Wrann, et al., Exercise induces hippocampal BDNF through a PGC-1?/FNDC5 pathway, Cell Metabolism, 2013, vol. 18, issue 5, pp. 649–659.
  • (xi) For afternoon napping, see e.g., (1) A midday nap markedly boosts the brain’s learning capacity, (2) E. J. Wamsley, et al., Dreaming of a learning task is associated with enhanced sleep-dependent memory consolidation, Current Biology, Apr. 22, 2010, vol. 20, issue 9, pp. 850–855,
  • (xii) For NgR1 antagonist, see: (1) regarding myelination, J. K. Relton, J. Li, and B. Ji, Use of Nogo Receptor-1 (NGR1) antagonists for promoting oligodendrocyte survival, US patent application US2011123535, May 26, 2011,; (2) regarding synapses, F. Akbik, S. M. Bhagat, P. R. Patel, W. B. J. Cafferty, and S. M. Strittmatter, Anatomical plasticity of adult brain is titrated by Nogo Receptor 1, Neuron, vol. 77, pp. 859–866, 2013,

“This is not electroshock therapy, which applies hundreds of times more electric current (usually 800 milliamps, as much as many lightbulbs, compared to the 1–2 milliamps typical of TES) …”:
800 mA: MECTA Corporation – electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) products,
1–2 mA: R. C. Kadosh, Using transcranial electrical stimulation to enhance cognitive functions in the typical and atypical brain, Translational Neuroscience, 2013, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 1–14.

“Things have come a long way …”: Field reviewed in (1) S. Zaghi, M. Acar, B. Hultgren, P. S. Boggio, and F. Fregni, Noninvasive brain stimulation with low-intensity electrical currents: Putative mechanisms of action for direct and alternating current stimulation, Neuroscientist, June 2010, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 285–307,; (2) R. C. Kadosh, 2013; and (3) blog with updates at

“… Sylvanus Thompson’s classic electrical engineering textbook described connecting a battery to the forehead to cause a ‘wild rush of colour’ …”: Elementary Lessons on Electricity and Magnetism, Fourth Ed., ch. 3, lesson XIX, Macmillan and Co., 1883. An edition was reprinted in 2011.

“For example tDCS was shown in 2011 to induce insight in tricky problem-solving situations.” R. P. Chi and A. W. Snyder, Facilitate insight by non-invasive brain stimulation, PLoS ONE, 2011, vol. 6, no. 2,

“You can even build your own TES machine on the cheap from do-it-yourself plans.”

“Indeed, in September 2011 DBS finally made mice smarter.” S. Stone, C. Teixeira, L. DeVito, K. Zaslavsky, S. Josselyn, A. Lozano, and P. Frankland, Stimulation of entorhinal cortex promotes adult neurogenesis and facilitates spatial memory, The Journal of Neuroscience, Sept. 21, 2011, vol. 31, no. 38, pp. 13469–13484,

“Luckily, progress in brain scan technology is improving exponentially.” R. Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near, Penguin Books, 2005, pp. 159–160.

“Another method uses ultrasound …”: W. J. Tyler, Y. Tufail, M. Finsterwald, M. L. Tauchmann, E. J. Olson, and C. Majestic, Remote excitation of neuronal circuits using low-intensity, low-frequency ultrasound, PLoS One, Oct. 29, 2008, vol. 3, no. 10,

“The nanomechanical effects of the ultrasonic sound waves …”: W. D. Jones, Sound waves for brain waves, IEEE Spectrum Online, Jan. 2009,

“Its connectivity to other parts of the brain explains 10% of the variation in intelligence in humans.” M. W. Cole, et al., Global connectivity of prefrontal cortex predicts cognitive control and intelligence, The Journal of Neuroscience, June 27, 2012, vol. 32, no. 26, pp. 8988–8999,

“… learn to change them as desired …”: C. Chase and G. Yonas, Cognitive enhancement using feedback, US Patent Application 20150297108, Oct., 2015, For some background see B. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, Penguin Books, 2014.

“Some evidence suggests that this can ‘enhance attention, increase overall intelligence, relieve short-term stress, and improve behavior.’” T. L. Huang and C. Charyton, A comprehensive review of the psychological effects of brainwave entrainment, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 2008, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 38–50.

“… roughly $15,000 per IQ point …”: S. D. Grosse, et al., Economic gains resulting from the reduction in children’s exposure to lead in the United States, Environmental Health Perspectives, June 2002, vol. 110, no. 6, pp. 563–569 (see Table 2),

“Iodine deficiency … can significantly lower the IQ of whole populations”: The scope of the problem, Micronutrient Initiative, See also N. D. Kristof, Raising the world’s IQ, The New York Times, Dec. 4, 2008, New York edition p. A43,

“However, taking choline …”: Sandberg and Bostrom (2006), pp. 207, 223, detailed above.

“… take cod liver oil …”: I. B. Helland, et al., Effect of supplementing pregnant and lactating mothers with n-3 very-long-chain fatty acids on children’s IQ and body mass index at 7 years of age, Pediatrics, Aug. 2008, vol. 122, no. 2, pp. e472–e479,

“Sometimes called the ‘critical mass’ effect, anyone who has been in such a group can vouch for its effectiveness.” E.g. A. W. Woolley, C. F. Chabris, A. Pentland, N. M. Hashmi, and T. W. Malone, Evidence for a collective intelligence factor in the performance of human groups, Science, 2010, vol. 330, no. 6004, pp. 686–688,



Chapter Three: Keys and Screens Today, Mind Reading Tomorrow


“A brain wave reading device that enables paralyzed individuals to switch lights and appliances on and off without moving at all was reported ready for marketing as early as 1997.” Remote-control system uses brain waves, Associated Press, Dec. 25, 1997,

“This device, the MCTOS Brain Switch, was still listed for sale as of 2013.” E.g. Synapse Adaptive,

“In 2008 a team of researchers at Keio University,” June 2, 2008,

“By 2013, non-invasive brain wave detection enabled people to control quadrotor air vehicles by imagining hand motions.” University of Minnesota researchers control flying robot with only the mind, UMNews, 2013,

“For the number keys, this principle was demonstrated in 2009 …” E. Eger, V. Michel, B. Thirion, A. Amadon, S. Dehaene, and A. Kleinschmidt, Deciphering cortical number coding from human brain activity patterns, Current Biology, 2009, vol. 19, issue 19, pp. 1608–1615,

“highly significant accuracies”: T. M. Mitchell, S. V. Shinkareva, A. Carlson, K. Chang, V. L. Malave, R. A. Mason, M. A. Just, Predicting human brain activity associated with the meanings of nouns, Science, May 30, 2008, vol. 320.

“… capability was also demonstrated with viewed pictures rather than imagined words …”: Mind reading machine knows what the eye can see, New Scientist, Mar. 2008,

“There is no natural barrier from what we can see”: Reported by Agence France-Presse (AFP), July 7, 2008,

“For example, ancient catapults used… human hair!” J. G. Landels, Engineering in the Ancient World, University of California Press, 1978.

“Soldiers would need to think in ‘clear, formulaic ways … similar to how they are already trained to talk.’” L. Zyga, US Army invests in ‘thought helmet’ technology for voiceless communication,, Sept. 22, 2008,

“… by 2010, an off-the-shelf brain wave reader was demonstrated as part of a cellphone device …”: K. Grifantini, Mobile phone mind control, Technology Review Editors’ Blog, Mar. 31, 2010,

“… a technique for reading the mind and outputting a fuzzy movie …”: New Scientist, Oct. 28, 2009, issue 2732,

“… another project read interpretations of Beethoven from peoples’ brains and played the results …”: Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival, Feb. 22–24, 2013,

“… Wright’s, Goddard’s, and hybrid laws (applying to many technologies).” B. Nagy, J. D. Farmer, Q. M. Bui, and J. E. Trancik, Statistical basis for predicting technological progress, PLOS ONE, 2013, vol. 8, issue 2, Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival, Feb. 22–24, 2013,

“… technology for safe brain scans was measured as doubling in power every six years in spatial resolution, and doubling every one and a half years in time resolution.” Derived directly from figures on pp. 159–160 of R. Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near, Penguin Books, 2005.


5-min. presentations this week

In-class students: the last week will focus on in-class presentations.











Bird’s-Eye Views of Social Discord: an Ethical Imperative?

That’s a mouthful! but let’s get it figured out…


  1. (a) Immanuel Kant and his “Categorical Imperative”; (b) Robert Kane, Through the Moral Maze: Searching for Absolute Values in a Pluralistic World, Paragon House, 1994, ISBN 1-55778-601-1; (c) The Golden and Silver Rules
  2. (a) Peter Turchin, Ages of Discord; (b) Price’s equation (GR Price, (i) Selection and covariance, Nature, vol. 227, pp. 520-521, 1970, (ii) Extension of covariance selection mathematics, Annals of Human Genetics, vol. 35, pp. 485-490, 1972); (c) SIR epidemiological models (RM May and RM Anderson, Infectious Diseases of Humans: Dynamics and Control, Oxford University Press)



Treating People With Respect

  • Immanuel Kant‘s theory of morality, the categorical imperative, states that it is immoral to use another person merely as a means to an end, and that people must, under all circumstances, be treated as ends in themselves. –
  • “Treat every person in every situation as an end and never as a means (to your or someone else’s ends).” – Robert Kane, Through the Moral Maze, 1994, p. 21

If these are the specs, what is the implementation?

The Golden Rule (& the Silver Rule)!

Do these considerations apply to professional life? Personal life? Public service?


The US contains 2 popular attitudes:

(1) “Broadly cooperative,” and

(2) broadly hostile

  • Which generally leads people to treat others per the above?
  • Which generally leads people to violate the above?
  • Love vs. hate:

It is ethical to promote love and discourage hate

(according to Kant, the golden rule, and me)

A weak point in the argument:

ethics is about actions, not thoughts

attitudes are just thoughts

Thoughtcrime is not supposed to be a crime

(Term coined by Orwell in 1949)


Image credits: collage of portions of and


Thoughtcrime is not a crime,

but pervasive attitudes do cause

societies to act ethically or not


What controls whether love or hate predominates?

  • Turchin’s answer  (ref.: Ages of Discord)

The US, the Roman Empire, medieval France, etc. –

cycle through

“integrative” and “disintegrative” phases

  • Integrative

The country is working

  • Disintegrative

Things are falling apart

  • Disintegrative phases are driven by:

1) Hardship among the general populace

No big surprise here

2) National financial crises

No big surprise here either

3) Political division among the power elite

This is the *most* important factor!

  • According to Turchin:

Peasant or worker uprisings alone don’t work

A unified elite can suppress them

A fragmented elite is a different story:

One fragment can use discord (e.g. uprisings)…

…as a tool to fight another fragment

Fiscal crisis weakens government…

…which then cannot control the disintegration

  • Turchin has a computer model

It predicts:

The US is now in a disintegrative phase

The low point lies a number of years ahead

The last low point was the civil war

Model does not predict how low the next low point will be

Disintegrative phases contain 25-year alternations

 While (disintegration=true){
         One generation is sympathetic to violence
         The next generation prefers peace
         T = T+(50 years)
  • Turchin’s model is complex

Let’s see a key equation of the integrative/disintegrative cycle

…and then a key algorithm of the 25-year violence-peace subcycle


The equation

dP/dT=Vs*Bs – mean(Vi)*Bi

  • P is the level of prevalence of people with

“broadly cooperative” attitudes

  • High P leads to compromises in governance
  • Low P leads to partisan intransigence
  • We could call P the “love vs. hate” level

High P – “love conquers all”

Low P – “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”

  • dP/dT  –  calling all calculus students:

What does that mean??

Comment: Turchin mistakenly calls it ΔP

So he’s not a huge calc fan either!

  • V –  “variance,” or cultural distance
  • s  –  societies, or countries
  • Vs  is the cultural difference  between competing countries

E.g., the US and another country or transnational culture

  • B  –  amount of competition
  • Bs  –  amount of competition between countries (“polities”)
  • Vs*Bs  –  the tendency for P to go *up*


What if cultural differences are high? Low?

What if competition is high? Low?

  • i  –  intra-society (subgroups of society, such as in the US)
  • Vi  –  cultural difference between the subgroups
  • mean(Vi)  –  Turchin’s patch because there are multiple subgroups
  • Bi  –  amount of competition among subgroups

Why no mean(Bi)?

Another error in the equation,

or worse,

in the computer model?

  • mean(Vi)*Bi  –  discord level within the country
  • mean(Vi)*Bi   –   the tendency for P to go *down*
  • dP/dT=Vs*Bs – mean(Vi)*Bi

The rate at which love is gaining/losing against hate

During integrative phases “love” increases, “hate” decreases

During disintegrative phases “hate” increases, “love” decreases


The 50-year subcycle

  • Think of desire for violence as a disease
  • Then apply epidemiological modeling
  • SIR

S is the susceptible population

I is the infectious population

R is the recovered population

  • Just as diseases come in waves…

…properly set up, the model predicts…

…violence levels swing up or down every 25 years


Why is a birds-eye view good to have?

  • When people argue for force, hate, and violence

You can step back and see it in context

  • When people argue for peace, love, and brotherhood

You can step back and see it in context

  • In your future profession and career

Favor love over hate

Helps keep your job stable and career going in the right direction!

It leads to ethical behavior (golden rule instead of FUism)!

  • And if Turchin is right…

There may be a bumpy ride

Hold on to your b##t seat!

5-min. presentations – sign up now!

In-class students: please email me or let me know in class when you can do your presentation. Any class day that is not already full is fine, or let me know if you are flexible and I will assign a day. Thanks.

Welcome back from Spring Break!

Finish strong and think about summer being almost here!

Online students only: note on topic 3


    This week’s two lectures will involve running through an interactive video system about ethics. I don’t plan to record the lectures, therefore. What you would do as an online student is simply go through the interactive video system yourself (it should be fun, I hope). Do it in two 50-minute sessions, corresponding to the two classes we had on Tuesday and Thursday. For your notes posted to your blog, give two blog posts. See these examples of the the first and second posting: each is titled with the date of the corresponding lecture, just like for other lectures, and the content of each post is what choices you made during the interactive video (since it is interactive).
     Hope that makes sense, but let me know of any questions.