Friday, September 16, 2016

They are already here

As a chunk of investments go down the drain seeking extra-terrestrials, drug resistant bacteria that cause two million illnesses and 23 thousand deaths in the US alone (1), have gotten little attention. These true extra-terrestrials, who got here hitching a ride on an asteroid, have been powerful and robust over a few billion years. They have transformed the planet, oxygenated it and prepared it for larger organisms, that would fall prey to them. They could dance in unison, divide and multiply and evolve in short horizons, aided by almost countless experiments. They will create organisms that could walk and eat, to satisfy their every whim, with an intelligent control system, that "advanced life," calls the microbiome. They could trigger feelings, switch their occupants' brain on and off, get them to eat what they would like and even decide on an expiry date for the host. Such is the power of the single cell organism, they have dominated the blue planet since their arrival, perhaps by chance.

ET is already here and they have been for over four billion years. As the greatest scientists fear, they are indeed more intelligent as they have not only designed an environment for themselves but also populated it with organisms they could control for their own benefit. As the chemists seek soil from far and wide to conquer the fully optimized machines they could only observe under a microscope, as the pharmaceutical companies run away from declining economics of third world diseases, as the NIH struggles to figure out how to advance thoughts and action, as the foundations that proclaim to lift humanity from disease and strife stop at mosquito nets and commercials, the single cell organism organizes further to consolidate control.

The worst idea of human history is the thought that they are "advanced."


Monday, September 5, 2016

ROE - Return on Education

As the political season heats up, politicians appear to be mired in tactics, symptomatic of lack of vision and strategic intent. A society deserves the politicians they are afforded but increasingly policies that affect the long term health and prosperity of the nation are unlikely to be affected by the appointed leaders, whoever they may be. Some want walls and others Wall street, but neither can lift the spirit and ambitions of 320 million beating hearts across the continent. As space enthusiasts search for extra-terrestrials, technologists build artificially intelligent bots and medical experts seek methods to ameliorate pain and defeat micro-organisms - politicians, caught in a time warp struggle to stay relevant. The younger generation has left them, for they have seen the light at the end of the tunnel, where they could imagine and build a world for the future.

As the blue planet spins and rotates to stay alive from its perpetual plunge into the center of the sun, protected from countless debris by its venerable cousin, Jupiter, its inhabitants, blinded by ignorance, appear to be ready to fight. They fight with ideas, races, countries, localities, genders and the gender-less, as if their whole life depends on it. They shout on TV and against those on the idiot box, they soften and harden policies at will, they own and disown coal, make speeches to the top bankers for money, refuse to release tax returns and proclaim wealth without understanding there is a liability side to the balance sheet. They visit churches of color, dance to show approval only to break down a few minutes later. They seek money for charities funded by the straight and the crooked, they meet lobbyists and people, shake hands and hold babies as if the whole country is melting down at the sheer sight of them.

Politicians, possibly a new species, could be endangered species, especially if the world educates itself with freely available information. Education has the highest return compared to any other investment by an individual or society. It can help sort out fake politicians who assert their past and your future, confidence tricksters, non-replicatable academic studies, drugs that lose efficacy over time, financial advisers who do not know finance, advertisements that promise the impossible, religious fanatics who perform magic, insurance policies that do not pay, charlatans who shout buy and sell as markets close and space agencies who spawn manned space missions for their own sake.

Such is the state of misinformation that education has higher returns now than it ever had.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The stock and flow of IQ

A recent publication in the Royal Society Open Science (1), hypothesizes an intriguing idea - explosion in hominoid intelligence a few million years ago was aided by a significant increase in blood flow to the brain and not necessarily by an increase in its size. Moreover, the increase in the flow of blood may have resulted in the growth in brain size. If so, a lucky change in the diameter of the arteries carrying blood to the brain may be responsible for humans dominating the blue planet.

Plumbing appears to be central to health. It has been speculated that most autoimmune diseases, including even Alzheimer's disease, could be related to the body's declining ability to eliminate waste through the plumbing system, it has been afforded. Age and use of these systems appear negatively correlated with their efficiency in clearance. If the recent finding is true, the plumbing alone plays a central role in the evolution of intelligence, providing the energy hungry organ with ample fuel and cooling and nourishing it from relatively modest beginnings in Australopithecus to arguably better modern humans.

Plumbing appears to be central to modern medicine. In a regime with little threat from microorganisms, humans may perish by the clogging of their own aging infrastructure.