A Personal Manifesto

The first microprocessor-based personal computer was installed in December 1972 at a Litton Industries facility in Long Island, New York. It was developed and manufactured by Q1 Corporation, then located at Farmingdale, Long Island, New York. I started Q1 in 1970, despite the fact that I am neither an electronic engineer nor a computer scientist. This is the first time that I briefly allude to the rationale for my decisions and actions.

In 1970 I was a doctoral student of philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. I found the philosophy to be the most important and most troubling part of knowledge. I take philosophy to be the only part of knowledge that can integrate particular areas of knowledge. As such, it is the only part of knowledge that forms the basis for effective decisions and policies on what ought to be done. Recently it has been scientifically proved that sensations are innate. The denial of this fact underlies current philosophy. This denial has severed the ability to derive normative policies from science. Hence, the reconstruction of philosophy is an urgent public concern. Meanwhile, the philosophic community abdicated from its unique role in solving problems that no other part of knowledge can. Instead, it’s a focus is on ‘clarifying’ problems rather than seeking to solve them.

These views are outside the mainstream. I, therefore, felt pressure to demonstrate the problem-solving power of philosophy. Since I have been interested in relation computing to brain function I chose the information field. I managed Q1 for a decade. For me, the result of conclusively has proved the problem-solving power of philosophy.

Until the philosophic community acknowledges the verdict of science that sensations are innate it is unlikely that I could reach that audience. I now plan to interest the financial, medical and technologists the constructive power of philosophy. For example, more recently, obtained two US patents (2010 & 2012). The 2010 patent identifies brain loci that are selectively activated in the presence of an elementary sensation of interest. The 2012 patent identifies protein specificity determinants of an intrinsic function of locus-specific cells. Alternatively, if any major IT company would be interested, I will accept the challenge to once again outline the next major phase in information technology.

Philosophy, Gene Editing and The Next Phase of Human Evolution

We can now control future human evolution. It is the most far-reaching technological development since humans branched from other primates some six million years ago. There does not exist at present a conceptual framework with which to address this (or any other) long-term global issue. Typically, any long-term global issue is a looming disaster. Consider a few examples: climate change, pollution of the oceans and air, nuclear proliferation and demographic upheavals. This record suggests that the worst outcome is also the most likely in the instant case: that during this century, some national entities would introduce heritable enhancements to the human genome in their country – making the last millennium Homo sapiens’ last.

This book identifies philosophy as the root problem. It then outlines how current science requires updating the 300-year-old foundation of knowledge. It concludes by indicating how such reconstruction provides the ground for formulating normative social policies.

De-nuclearizing North Korea

What has prevented atomic conflict since the Second World War is the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). Kim Jeong Il discovered that this formula is inapplicable to the potential atomic conflict between a superpower and a small country. Instead, the superpower, having more to lose, is in a military disadvantage. This fact confers negotiating advantage in the smaller country. However, such an advantage is limited to negotiations. In an atomic conflict, neither side wins.

In the interim, North Korea is subject to a punishing embargo. It desperately needs a source of income. They have one thing that many entities desire, so naturally, North Korea is in the business of selling atomic know-how. Some well-funded terrorist entities that seek to obtain atomic weapons are not geographically locatable. As a result, there is no way to counter any attack by such entities. China may be among the initial targets for such unilateral attacks. Such prospects are utterly unacceptable. It would force China to prevent opening this Pandora’s box: this means de-nuclearization of North Korea.

Some notes relating to the forthcoming publications of the revised The New Foundation of Knowledge (2017)

A. Philosophy

A1. The current state of affairs.

Philosophy is the most basic and most troubled field of knowledge. Present-day knowledge is still based on assumptions about human nature that are now known to be false, that were introduced some 300 years ago. These assumptions underlie normative disciplines, including ethics, law, politics and economics. As a result, human institutions are guided by policies which appear inconsistent with long-term survival.

A2. Bringing the foundation of knowledge up to date

A2.1. Psychological attributes are heritable. The theory of evolution led Darwin to conclude that heritability applies to biological as well as psychological attributes. Present day science proved Darwin right on this point. Specifically, humans possess innate sensations emotions and cognitions. For example, the newborn human (or rodent) likes sweet and dislike bitter. It shows that both the sensations of taste and likes and dislikes are innate. Furthermore, the innateness of the preference constitutes knowledge of the world prior to personal experience.

A2.2. The denial of heritable psychological attributes. Empiricism is the theory of knowledge that is based on the denial that sensations or emotions or cognitions are innate. Empiricism underlie all present-day theories of knowledge. By and large, the philosophic community proved unable to set aside the 300 year epistemology legacy, and do not acknowledge the scientific evidence.

A2.3. Truth and consequences. Innate commonalities of human nature is the ground for deriving universals of human
conducts. In the United States, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a manifestation of the view that some moral principles are universal. But this is an exception. The more basic law is called “positive”, which means non-universal. In contrast, the legal doctrine of natural law is based on the view that these laws should not be relativistic. Relativistic ethics and laws make it impossible to bridge the cultural chasm separating East and West in trying to address the long-term global issue of the future of humanity.

A3. Toward a dawn of a new day.

Updating the foundation of knowledge is the most important and most urgent problem confronting humanity now. The philosophic community ought to undertake the long-term challenge of making explicit the implications of the scientific evidence about biology, mind and brain. It would bring philosophy the recognition and authority it deserves, once it does its job.

The 1951 UN Refugee Convention is inconsistent with the US Constitution

Nations are sovereign: they have exclusive authority over a territory and its borders. A sovereign entity controls entry and stays within its borders. The 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of refugees, commonly known as the Refugee Convention undermines sovereignty by creating the legal right of persons to claim asylum in countries other than their own. Such a claim is subjected to 2-3 stages of the process during which the claim is examined by the selected country. During this period persons claiming asylum are entitled to the following rights:

  1. The right not to be punished for illegal entry
  2. The right to be issued identity and travel
    documents
  3. The right to freedom of movement in that country
  4. The right to access the courts
  5. The right to work
  6. The right to housing
  7. The right to education
  8. The right to public assistance.

In the US the children born to asylum claimants become citizens under the 14th Amendment. Such children are not deportable if the parents & claim for asylum is denied. Separating a child from his father or mother is not a humane or realistic option.

Apart from these considerations of principle, there is a looming reality. The end of the second world war was the period that colonialism in sub-Sahara Africa came to an end. The United Nations introduced several programs aimed at improving health and economic self-sufficiency. It proved successful in the first aim but failed in the second.

The improved health led to a sharp drop in child mortality producing explosive population growth. Food production did not keep up. As a result, migrating to more developed counties appears as the best option. Some states in sub-Saharan Africa are not democratic, and their population is deprived of human rights. Thus, they satisfy the UN criteria of persons entitled to asylum.

It is projected that by the end of the current century the population of sub-Saharan Africa will grow by some three billion persons. Many of them, if not most of them, would migrate to more developed countries.

This human flood could make citizens in developed counties into minorities. This extreme development is as grave as climate change. As climate change, it is a manifestation of human un-wisdom.

 

Why this century is unlike any other

T. Philosophy and survival
T1. The state of the world.
T1.1. Climate change. From the evolutionary perspective species come and go; Homo sapiens is still a work-in-progress. Climate change exemplifies the fact that long-term global consequences of technology are generally toxic, irreversible this century, and raises concerns about the challenge of surviving convergent natural disasters.

T1.2. Demographic trends. Some other long-term trends suggest that Western philosophy may be the implicit cause of self-destructive policies. For example, there is a question Western culture can survive having the white population of Europe and the United States become the minority this century (e.g. non-Hispanic whites in the US would become the minority among the newborn within a year).

T1.3. The prospect of controlling our future evolution. Biotechnology now makes possible to introduce heritable enhancements in the human genome. If any national entity undertakes to do that then, whether or not others follow, the last millennium would prove Homos sapiens last.

T2. Philosophy
T2.1. Updating the foundation of philosophy is a priority. Philosophy is the only part of knowledge that could have served as a survival manual in confronting the looming upheavals. But philosophy is not only the most fundamental part of knowledge but also the most troubled. This makes bringing the foundation of knowledge up to date a priority.

T2.2. A single factual issue. Neuroscience has recently established the fact that sensations are innate. For the last 300 years, the most basic assumption at the foundation of knowledge was the direct opposite – that no sensation is innate. John Locke (1689) introduced that assumption, concluded that the brain of the newborn is like a blank slate (tabula rasa).

T2.3. The challenge. It is now necessary to make explicit the epistemological implications of replacing the tabula rasa by its direct opposite. This would be the most basic change in the foundation of knowledge since Locke introduced his factually false assumption.

T2.4. The philosophic community. Updating the foundations of knowledge would establish the central role of philosophy in guiding social policy. But it would take time before the philosophic community is ready to set aside the 300-years of epistemological legacy. In the interim, the most pressing philosophical issue confronting humanity now is virtually terra incognita.

T2.5. The forthcoming revision of my 2017 book. The forthcoming revision of The New Foundation of Knowledge (2017) reviews the evidence for the innateness of sensations and provides an initial glimpse of the new epistemological landscape.

T3. Sensations are innate.
T3.1. The sensation of sound. The electrical stimulation of the cochlea elicits sensations of sound in the normal hearing and in the deaf. The heard pitch is determined by the cochlear locus stimulated. It proves that heard sound is not a property of air vibration. Some children are born with a dysfunctional auditory nerve. They can be made to hear by an implant that electrically stimulates hearing-related brain loci (e.g. brainstem, thalamus, or cortex). This proves that heard sound is innate and elicited by the brain: it is neither a property of air vibration nor originates in the ears.

T3.2. Any sensation. In every sensory modality (e.g. vision, hearing, touch, taste or smell), the same type of electrical stimulus elicits the modality-specific sensation as determined by the modality-specific area stimulated. This proves that said electrical stimuli do not contribute to the resulting qualitative sensation; it is the stimulated brain loci that determine the qualitative aspect of the sensation. Thus, sensations are innate and are elicited by the brain.

T4. The first empirical proof that consciousness exists. Innateness of sensations and consciousness. Evolution stumbled on consciousness, and natural selection let it be. From an evolutionary perspective, the role of conscious knowledge is to improve survival. Yet, to date all attempts to account for what consciousness is and what it does have failed. The reason for this failure is the denial of the fact that sensations are innate.
The physical is publicly observable. Innate sensations are private or alternatively termed subjective, phenomenal, or mental. Thus, our knowledge of the physical is an inference from the phenomenal. This conclusion confers epistemological priority on the phenomenal relative to the physical. The hope that Physicalism could account for consciousness is not realizable.

T5. Spatiality and Ubiquity. Physical objects, such as triangular tiles, are locatable in space. The concept of triangularity is not. The phenomenal cannot be said to be located in space. It is ubiquitous.

T6. Some top-down implications
T6.1. Pain. The tabula rasa assumption presumes that pain originates in the body and is imported into the brain by afferent C-fibers. Pain, like all sensations, is innate and is elicited by the brain. Based on the tabula rasa misconceptions, neurosurgeons performed numerous operations to disconnect the presumed source of pain from the brain, hoping to stop painful stimuli. In many of those cases, the pain returns with a vengeance. The continued failure of medicine to effectively address chronic pain is based on the philosophical error.

T6.2. Light. Like all sensations, the sensation of light is innate. The electric stimulation of visual cortex elicits the visual sensation of spots of light, called phosphenes both in normally seeing subjects and in the blind. On the basis of this fact, visual cortical prostheses were developed. Such prostheses are about to be available for the born blind. As in the case of auditory prostheses, it is best to implant prostheses in the subject during childhood. I expect visual prostheses for the born blind would be demonstrated within five years.

This century whites are due to become minorities in the US and EU

It is projected that whites in the EU and US will become the minority by the end of the century. In the EU, that transition is expected in the second half of the century. In the US (non-Hispanic) whites will be a minority within a generation and among the newborn, within a year.

In the EU, that prospect is a subject for intense discussions, for example, see The Strange Death of Europe by Douglas Murray (2017). In contrast, the US is still in denial of the inevitable transition. For example, the media addresses immigration issues on daily basis, but discussion of the impending transition is avoided.

The EU is the primary destination of asylum seekers. States in Sub-Saharan Africa cannot feed their rapidly growing populations. Many are under a dictatorship and are known for human rights abuses. Thus, immigrants from these countries satisfy the asylum seeker criteria. The United Nations projects that by the end of the current century the Sub-Saharan African population would grow by some billions. At present, there is no real or conceivable mechanism to stem the expected tidal wave of migration. Include the fact that immigrants during the initial two generations double in number, while Europeans, like Americans, do not even reach replacement levels: the demographic shifts will be massive.

Murray in his book addresses only Europe and only from the perspective of a journalist. However, the issue applies to Western culture on both sides of the Atlantic, and the root cause is not political in that people did not vote for this consequence. Western culture has been dominant for the last
100 years. The only explanation for its current predicament is that it is the consequence of principles implicit in the philosophy ascribed to in the West. Philosophy is the only knowledge area that can address this failure of self-preservation. With authority comes responsibility. The philosophic community has let us down by retreating to the position of a spectator on vital issues of survival.

It is now imperative that the philosophic community confronts the challenge of bringing the foundation of knowledge up to date and, recognize, for the first time, the innate commonalities of human nature, and derive survival imperatives to guide policy.

Philosophy: toward a dawn of a new day

A. Consciousness

A1. The consciousness enigma. Being Conscious is the central fact of personal existence. Yet, to date, attempts to account for what consciousness is and what it does have failed. This issue is addressed below.

A2. A criterion of physicality. The physical is publicly observable. Your dentist can see your aching tooth but not your toothache. The tooth, being publicly observable is physical; your toothache, being private, is not. Such observations are deemed objective. In contrast, a toothache, being private is considered subjective.

A3. The tabula rasa assumption. The most basic assumption that underlies present-day theories of knowledge is that sensations are imported into the brain, none innate (Locke 1689).

A4. Sensations are innate. Recent findings in neuroscience demonstrate that information from the senses to the brain is devoid of qualitative attributes. Sensations are innate and are evoked by the brain.

A5. An epistemological consequence. Making explicit the epistemological implications of the fact that sensations are innate would constitute the most fundamental advance in knowledge since Locke introduced the tabula rasa assumption. Consider one such implication.

B. The physical is inferred from the mental

B1. Sensations are private. The fact that sensory qualities are not received from the senses nor from the external world through the senses determines them to be private, subjective, phenomenal or mental.

B2. Knowledge of the physical is inferred from sensory information. Knowledge of the physical is inferred from sensory information that is innate, private, and thus mental.

B3. A proof that consciousness exists. The above subsection B2 confers epistemological priority on the mental relative to the physical. It constitutes a proof that non-physical consciousness exists. It is the first to do so.

C. The Mind matters

C1. Imagining selectively activates the brain. Brain-computer interface prostheses (BCIs) for persons paralyzed from the neck down are based on the fact that performing, as well as imagining, a voluntary movement creates a characteristic pattern of activation in the motor cortex.

C2. Selective brain activation by imagination is exemplified by BCIs. The BCI detects the activation pattern of the motor cortex, identifies the intended movement, and initiates commands to the servomechanism, to fulfill the desired movement be it control of an electric a wheelchair or moving a cursor on a computer screen.

C3. The mind affecting brain and behavior is commonplace. The brain is physical, while imagination is not. The fact that imagination activators the brain show that the mind affecting the brain is common places.

D. The conscious brain does things that the non-conscious brain cannot.

Exemplified below are some things that the conscious brain can do that the non-conscious brain cannot.

D1. Qualia. The physicist’s description of nature is devoid of qualitative attributes of sensory modalities of exteroception (Locke’s secondary qualities). Yet, these are the qualities through which we know the physical world. Such qualia provide us the simplest representation of the outside world.

D2. Perceptual binding. A percept combines several sensory modalities and submodalities, each of which is represented in a different part of the brain. There is no known location in the brain that represents a percept. Thus, ordinary perception does not correspond to any brain location. What the mind does simply, neuroscience cannot explain yet other than the synchronous activation of these multiple brain loci.

D3. Concepts. Theoretical physics is formulated by use of mathematical concepts and operations. For example, the concept of triangularity or of a regular polygon is not an object locatable in space or available for public observation. It is generally accepted that concepts are not physical. Neither are they arbitrary or a mere linguistic convention. Recent neuroscientific evidence indicates that there are innate brain mechanisms that convert percepts into concepts.

E. Conclusions

E1. Innate sensations prove that the physical is inferred from the mental.

E2. Qualia, percepts and concepts exemplify the advantage of consciousness.

E3. The mind affects the brain and behavior.

E4. The mind and matter are different aspects of the same more basic reality.