Why did we start farming? The quest for answers in a harsh cosmos…

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The reason that humans shifted away from hunting and gathering, and to agriculture – a much more labor-intensive process – has always been a riddle. “A lot of evidence suggests domestication and agriculture doesn’t make much sense,” says Elic Weitzel, a Ph.D. student in UConn’s department of anthropology. “Hunter-gatherers are sometimes working fewer hours a day, their health is better, and their diets are more varied, so why would anyone switch over and start farming?”

Weitzel sought to get to the root of the shift in his new paper in American Antiquity, by looking at one area of the world, the Eastern United States. In a nutshell, he looked for evidence to support either of two popular theories.

One theory posits that in times of plenty there may have been more time to start dabbling in the domestication of plants like squash and sunflowers. The other theory argues that domestication may have happened out of need to supplement diets when times were not as good. As the human population grew, perhaps resources shifted due to reasons such as over-exploitation of resources or a changing climate. “Was there some imbalance between resources and the human populations that lead to domestication?”

Weitzel tested both hypotheses. And the findings are… mixed. Despite the mixed results though, the findings supporting domestication happening in times when there was less than an ideal amount of food are significant, says Weitzel. (1)

Easy times…

Hard times…

Man moves on no matter what.

Lighting up fires, because we are afraid of the dark.

Staying together because we are afraid being alone.

Have we really moved on?

Easy times…

Hard times…

Are we any different now than then?

At the end, we just want to live.

Trapped in the same mindset from the beginning.

As all animals, trying to pass over our genes.

Except some people who…

Choose to die.

People who see something different beyond the looking glass of reality.

These people do not hunt, nor farm.

Sitting by the edge of the abyss.

Watching people trying to live.

Laughing.

For they will soon meet…

[Written on 2019-04-04]

Tools: God. Humans. Apes.

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Flexible tool use is closely associated to higher mental processes such as the ability to plan actions. Now a group of cognitive biologists and comparative psychologists found out that the apes carefully weighed their options. To do so the apes considered the details such as differences in quality between the two food rewards and the functionality of the available tools in order to obtain a high-quality food reward. (1)

Using tools to harness the cosmos.

Apes.

Letting go of the tools to see the cosmos.

Humans.

Closing your eyes to know that you are the cosmos.

God.

Evolution does exist. But not in the direction we think of. We used to be gods. And then we started being humans. At the end, we will have the best tools in the world. And we will be nothing more than apes…

Question your assumptions.

And what is left, will be nothing more than the obvious…

You.

Sitting by the river. Feeling the forest.

With no forest anywhere in sight…

The third eye… Light… Darkness…

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Just like land plants, algae use sunlight as an energy source. Many green algae actively move in the water; they can approach the light or move away from it. For this they use special sensors (photoreceptors) with which they perceive light.

The decades-long search for these light sensors led to a first success in 2002: Georg Nagel, at the time at Max-Planck-Institute of Biophysics in Frankfurt/M, and collaborators discovered and characterized two so-called channelrhodopsins in algae. These ion channels absorb light, then open up and transport ions. They were named after the visual pigments of humans and animals, the rhodopsins.

Now a third “eye” in algae is known: Researchers discovered a new light sensor with unexpected properties. The new photoreceptor is not activated by light but inhibited. It is a guanylyl cyclase which is an enzyme that synthesizes the important messenger cGMP. When exposed to light, cGMP production is severely reduced, leading to a reduced cGMP concentration – and that’s exactly what happens in the human eye as soon as the rhodopsins there absorb light. (1)

See too much light.

And your eyes will close.

It is darkness you seek.

So that your eyes open.

For only in the dead of the night, can you detect brightness…

Only there, standing alone in the complete absence of any source of light, can you realize that the only thing emitting light in this cosmos is you… And this knowledge will be the darkest knowledge you will ever have.

Cherish that knowledge.

And never seek light outside you.

If you do, you will find it.

And the whole cosmos will instantly fall into darkness…

Counting. Playing music.

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Bees can solve seemingly clever counting tasks with very small numbers of nerve cells in their brains, according to researchers. (1)

Scientists have developed a 3D-printed robotic hand which can play simple musical phrases on the piano by just moving its wrist. (2)

Everyone feeling so important when counting. But every animal can do it. Even bees. And what makes us special is that we may choose not to count even though we can. Everyone feeling so amazed when seeing a robot playing the piano. And yet we are not important because we play music, but because we may choose not to and listen to the silence instead.

In the future the world will be full of bees and robots.

Buzzing through chattering humans.

Playing the piano between soundless men.

But within the dreaded noisy night, a child will suddenly stay silent.

And under the scorching midday sun, an old man will stop to listen…

Beyond the robots playing perfectly…

Past the bees counting seamlessly…

Looking at the cosmos.

Crying, for it is so full and perfect.

Laughing, for it is so flawlessly dead…

AI. Games. Intelligence. Humans.

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Artificial Intelligence is constantly beating humans in more and more board games. Some years ago, the same team that created that Go-playing bot celebrated something more formidable: an artificial intelligence system that is capable of teaching itself—and winning at—three different games. The AI is one network, but works for multiple games; that generalizability makes it more impressive, as it might also be able to learn other similar games, too.

They call it AlphaZero, and it knows chess, shogi (Japanese chess), and Go. All of these games fall into the category of “full information” or “perfect information” contests – each player can see the entire board and has access to the same info (that is different from games like poker where you do not know what cards an opponent is holding). The network needs to be told the rules of the game first, and after that, it learns by playing games against itself.

The system “is not influenced by how humans traditionally play the game,” says Julian Schrittwieser, a software engineer at DeepMind, which created it.

Since AlphaZero is “more general” than the AI that won at Go, in the sense that it can play multiple games, “it hints that we have a good chance to extend this to even more real-world problems that we might want to tackle later,” Schrittwieser adds. (1)

See?

Even computers can learn.

As long as you teach them. (the rules)

That is how you learnt as well.

Alone.

Wandering in the dark abyss.

Walking in the dead of the night.

You knew the rules.

You just had to deduct the rest.

And you were so afraid.

Because the only rule was that there were no rules.

Because the only law was that you were the law.

Once upon a time, your father told you he loves you.

And that you were free to go.

You decided to leave.

Afraid of yourself.

And you are trying to find rules ever since…