Reaching your potential…

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Having aspirations helps us navigate life in a meaningful and fulfilling way, but it can also cause psychological distress when hopes are left unfulfilled. New research has found that it’s not failing to make progress toward our ‘ideal-self’ that is problematic but rather the tendency to focus on that lack of progress in a negative way that leads to psychological distress. [1]

Humans trying to reach their potential.

But who dictates that potential?

And if you don’t reach your potential, wouldn’t that mean that this was your potential?

Humans. Constantly thinking.

Of what should be.

Of what could be.

Never their mind on where they are. What they are doing.

Watch yourself. Trying to walk. Trying to speak. Trying to think.

Think not any further.

This is your potential!

Attributing art. Understanding art. Making art?!

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AI used to analyze and attribute art. (1)

Computers analyzing art.

Categorizing it. Attributing it.

Computers understanding art.

Computers destroying art.

Only because they understood it.

While it is not meant to be understood.

But can’t you see?

This means that they didn’t understand it after all!

Weird cosmos.

Full of people. Full of computers.

Humans creating art.

Computers understanding it!

How nonsensical.

How dull.

How awfully… artistic!

Walking upright (Missing home…)

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A paper published today in the Journal of Geology makes the case: Supernovae bombarded Earth with cosmic energy starting as many as 8 million years ago, with a peak some 2.6 million years ago, initiating an avalanche of electrons in the lower atmosphere and setting off a chain of events that feasibly ended with bipedal hominins such as Homo habilis, dubbed “handy man.”

The authors believe atmospheric ionization probably triggered an enormous upsurge in cloud-to-ground lightning strikes that ignited forest fires around the globe. These infernos could be one reason ancestors of Homo sapiens developed bipedalism — to adapt in savannas that replaced torched forests in northeast Africa.

“It is thought there was already some tendency for hominins to walk on two legs, even before this event,” said lead author Adrian Melott, professor emeritus of physics & astronomy at the University of Kansas. “But they were mainly adapted for climbing around in trees. After this conversion to savanna, they would much more often have to walk from one tree to another across the grassland, and so they become better at walking upright. They could see over the tops of grass and watch for predators. It’s thought this conversion to savanna contributed to bipedalism as it became more and more dominant in human ancestors.” (1)

And now we walk upright.

Traveling fast.

Running through the wild.

We will reach the stars one day.

Colonizing other galaxies.

And in the midst of enthusiasm…

No one will see us crying…

Longing for a home.

Dreaming of the days we were bound to earth.

Not able to go nowhere.

Because everywhere was already here…

Learn to fear…

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Computers can master some tasks—like playing a game of Go—through trial and error. But what works for a game doesn’t work for risky real-world tasks like driving a car, where “losing” might involve a high-speed collision. To drive safely, humans have an exquisite feedback system: our fight-or-flight response, in which physiological reactions like a rapid heart rate and sweaty palms signal “fear,” and so keep us vigilant and, theoretically, out of trouble. Now, researchers at Microsoft are giving artificial intelligence (AI) programs a rough analog of anxiety to help them sense when they’re pushing their luck.

The scientists placed sensors on people’s fingers to record pulse amplitude while they were in a driving simulator, as a measure of arousal. An algorithm used those recordings—80 minutes divided among four people—to learn to predict an average person’s pulse amplitude at each moment on the course. It then used those “fear” signals as a guide while learning to drive through the virtual world: If a human would be scared here, it might muse, “I’m doing something wrong.” AIs using this method still had to crash to learn safe driving skills, but they required 25% fewer crashes to reach the same level of performance as a nonfearful AI, the researchers reported this week at the International Conference on Learning Representations here. (1)

Fear guides men. (And soon, computers too)

Fear creates paths.

Fear pushes one forward (or backwards)

So stubborn are we.

Full of fear. And yet, moving!

Believing that we achieve something.

That we overcome our self.

(Can you overcome your self?)

Refusing to acknowledge that what we fear is not moving.

But standing still…

Look. You are walking…

Santa Claus exists. And tooth fairies. And mermaids. Oh, and so do you…

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Small children believe in Santa Claus. They are thrilled when the presents arrive and even try to find proof that he exists by placing cookies for the saint to eat along with a glass of milk…

But we are grown ups. We know that he doesn’t exist.

And we all struggle and question ourselves. Should we let them be? Should we perpetuate the lie or should we inform our children that he is just a fantasy, along with fairies and unicorns?

Such a wrong dilemma.

Rational people tied up into the chains that they created.

Could we be more wrong?

I am not going to get into the ‘Saint Nicolas was a real person’ line of thinking. Indeed Saint Nicolas was a real person and he indeed gave gifts to the poor. One could simply argue (and he would not be far away from the truth) that it is the spirit of Saint Nicolas – a very real person that did exist – that still endures and makes all those presents be. Every parent follows his example when dressing up like Santa Claus (a name Saint Nicolas came be known by because of his Dutch nickname, Sintar Klaas – see here).

I could also go into more extreme arguments, like the quantum superposition argument. One can read here an interesting article on how Santa Claus exists and is in fact a macroscopic quantum phenomenon, with its wavefunction collapsing when into ‘dad’ when Santa Claus is observed. It is quite amusing to see how our definition of reality and the limited knowledge we have about it can give birth to multiple ideas that question the most common of our beliefs. Do not take this article as an amusement article only. Our knowledge for reality IS limited. Our senses and NOT reliable. We know NOTHING about being or existence per se. As Oscar Wilde once said, the most serious things are said in jokes…

But there is a more fundamental line of thinking that can explain and justify the existence of Santa Claus. As Harmonia Philosophica has tried to explain for years and years, asking the simple questions is the way of true philosophers. And as many of you know, philosophers have been trying to find out answer to the most fundamental questions of humankind but with no success. Many might believe that this means they have failed. But that would be incorrect. For the purpose of true philosophers is not to lead to the truth, but to make it clear that we can know nothing about it. Because such thing as the ‘truth’ does not exist. (Non-thinking is the way towards the cosmos, try to read more in Harmonia Philosophica about it).

So let us re-examine our question.

“Does Santa Claus exist?”

Aristotle once said that any question contains its answer. So true. “Does Santa Claus exist?”. A phenomenally simple and innocent question that is loaded with so many beliefs and so much dogmatism. A question saying so many things about the people who ask it. It implies that we know about existence. It implies that we know who and what exists and what does not. It implies that non-existence is also… existent. Last but certainly not least, by asking about the existence of Santa Claus we clearly imply that he might not. We wouldn’t be asking for the existence of our self for example, would we?

“Does Santa exist?”

Let me ask another thing though.

What about you?

Do YOU exist?

Foolish question it seems. But not so foolish after careful consideration. How do I know you are there? Perhaps because of some undeniable proof? Should I take your word for it? Why should I believe you are a human and not a perfectly programmed robot? How could I know you are saying because of your own free will and not because your cells are programmed to do so? Could you convince me your are not a zombie? (The Zombie argument is a cool argument by the way for the existence or non-existence of consciousness)

Mermaids exist. They just hide beneath rocks when we look for them…

~ unknown kid

What is more, what IS existence? What does it mean to exist? Philosophers for thousands of years have not solved that problem so how could you even consider saying that you exist? What IS Being? The greatest philosophers of all times failed to give an answer. So how could you be so arrogant to claim that you “are” and others not? What IS reality? Who can claim that he or she has access to that magical thing called ‘reality’ without discarding thousands of years of philosophy trying and failing to find out what that thing is? Even for the phenomena we observe, the surface of the ocean we swim in, our senses and science can only explain a minor fraction of that world we capture with our senses; let alone things that lie beyond them. So what makes you so arrogant as to ask such a dramatic question?

The only argument you have for your existence is your feeling and knowledge that you do. Feelings and knowledge that you cannot transmit to others no matter how hard you try.

Guess what.

Santa Claus exists for children for exactly the same reasons!

This is not a shallow trick-argument to solve the problem. No. As already mentioned above, our total lack of knowledge regarding what existence and being are is totally true. Our total inability to know what ‘reality’ is also is something totally true. What we really KNOW are the things we have immediate experience of. Our existence. Our thoughts. Our consciousness. A peach we eat. A lonely summer night. The love of our parents that are here. Santa Claus bringing gifts which we sleep…

Something magical.

And because of that, truer that anything can ever be.

You see, magic in life is something we forgot. And yet, it still drives our destiny.

Love is magical. Our own life is magical. Santa is magical.

But we got carried away. And again we forgot the simple question we started with. “What about you?” we asked. Tell me my child, do you exist? How do you know? More importantly. How do I know? All my science, all my knowledge, all my philosophy cry out loud that I could never be certain for the existence of anyone else than me. And yet, I am certain for your existence. More than I am certain about my own!

You see…

It is not Santa Claus that is magic.

It was never a question of whether he existed.

It is all about you my child.

It was about you from the beginning.

You are magical!

Believing in good in a place full of evil. Loving and caring without expecting anything in return.

You DO exist!

Now go get your presents.

Santa was here while you were asleep…