The Big Bang, Information Theory, and Society

The big bang was said to have launched our reality about 14 billion years ago. At its start, the universe was far from equilibrium and there was a lot of uncertainty. Over the years, patterns towards balance (equilibrium) developed and resulted in what we perceive today: interconnected spots of certainty.

From seeming randomness to seeming organisation, that is the story of the evolution of human society.

If we describe information as a reduction in uncertainty, we can say that the ‘big bang’ and its evolution to our current reality was, and produced, a massive stream of information.

We may indeed read some things from our considerations of it.

If in some way we can feed a system information, so that it produces information in a way that we would like, then we have determined a hopeful end.

And if we perceive correctly, the information we are producing as a society, we would better be able to tell where we might end, and perhaps also, what information to imbibe in order to modify the pattern of change that trails our information generation.

The Purpose of Law

The need for law is the need to make a man a certain kind of man; to make a society a certain kind; to make a system a certain kind. It says that the man, or the system, has a potential/tendency to decay, deteriorate, or dissipate energy wastedly; to attain to an undesirable state, one that flows from the opposite of truth or the accepted facts.

What are we really doing when we make laws for our children and ourselves?
Every law that the government produces makes a statement, not just of what is legal, but also of what we should aspire to: how it wants us to be. Law is a codification of the ethics (imposed rules) of our existence, citizenship, and residence.

The purpose of law is to make the perfect man; the purpose of law is to make the ideal citizen; the purpose of law is to make the ideal society. But the ideal does not exist where the law exists, otherwise there would be no need for law.

If full love ruled, then perfection would be real. Husbands, fully love your wives, and wives, your husbands. (Love for your children is implicit in loving your spouse.) Imperfect people leading ideal lives.

So the law functions to train one’s conscience. Your conscience is the arbiter of personal convictions. Convictions which may be of truth, or falsehood in the guise of facts or feelings. The law trains us, like the media tries to do.

Two Kinds of Law

“Ariel, make sure you’re home before dark.” That’s a prescription. A law telling us what to do. The expected reward for following a prescription is health (improved/sustained/maintained).

The father is an authority. Law cannot exist without authority: authority to define laws, and to recompense or condemn. An authority is an entity that has a just cause to be obeyed. This is why law lies with authority.

“Uriel, don’t miss the deadline!” That’s a proscription. A law telling us what to skip. There is no reward for obeying a proscription. One only succeeds at avoiding negative consequences. So that every proscription is a direct threat.

Prescriptive laws say, in some sense, that everyone is sick or susceptible to sickness. And so  prescribes a pattern of living and response to stimuli that lead to, or keep one on, the path of health or longevity.

Proscriptive laws say explicitly that we are all well until we cross ‘the line’; that there is an authority over us; that crossing the line is what is bad for us; that it is bad for us because of associated negative consequences.

One speaks to promise of gain, the other, to threat of loss.

A wife said you her husband, “don’t go there.” That’s different from her saying, “stay here.” ‘Don’t go there’ tells her husband of a certain potential loss or suffering that he might experience for disobedience. ‘Stay here’ tells him that it is to the health of their home that he obeys.

“Ariel, I know that guy likes you. But I don’t like him.” is an implicit prescriptive law that Ariel may choose to defy. Defying authority leaves the authority with several options: To create exceptions, change the law, or condemn—even though the authority by ‘itself’ may/can not effect punishment or correction. Many consequences are left to natural law, sometimes called karma, but applied to this life not the next.

Breaking either kind of law is sin, i.e., to miss the mark. Do we see the ‘marks’ for the laws we’ve made for our selves, and the religious (spiritual, societal, institutional, philosophical religions), national, familial, organisational … laws we follow? It is the mark that justifies the law. Thus we can ask the question: is the mark itself just.

Every prescription and proscription must have a mark, otherwise, they cannot stand. The marks must be just, otherwise, we could call them unlawful. The reasonableness of any resulting laws notwithstanding, it is just for parents to be concerned for the safety of their children. It is likewise just for a business to want to ensure that they meet their obligations; a prevalent obligation being to ensure continued existence. And, any human law that contradicts a natural law cannot be lawful; it can only be legal. Any law that contradicts the constitution is illegal given the nature of a constitution.

The Ten Commandments is like a constitution. And it has a ratio of 4:1, proscriptive to prescriptive laws. (Its two prescriptive laws are notable and instructive: honour the Sabbath, the day of rest, and honour your parents.) A contraction of it and other laws into two prescriptive laws is to Love God with all one is, and to love our neighbours as ourselves. These two values were said to constitute the basis of ‘the law and the prophets’ in the Old Testament.

What might this view of laws mean for running our households, businesses, corporations etc.? Many laws can be framed either way. And the way we choose determines our goal and meaning. If we only tell people what the can’t or shouldn’t do, then they’re free to be or do everything else. When there are few ‘thou shalt nots,’ it could be scary what this might lead to. If we only tell people what they ought to do, then they are being taught to become a certain kind of person or to lead a certain kind of life along certain lines.

PS:
Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?
And he said to him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy understanding.
This is the great and first commandment.
And the second is like it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments the whole law and the prophets hang.
(Mat 22:37-40, Darby)

Regarding Correction And Punishment

Definitions:

Punishment:- I inflict/permit pain or discomfort on you because someone did something wrong. And you may or may not know that the pain or discomfort is a consequence of what you did, didn’t do, or what someone else did.

Correction:- I show/tell you what you did wrong, why it’s wrong (and perhaps why I’m showing you). And I show/tell you the right, why it’s right (and perhaps why I’m showing you).

Correction follows from the principle that people ought not get away with certain deeds, for their own good, and for the good of society. It assumes that there are positive results for the person and/or society if they are not allowed to get away with unacceptable behaviour or deeds.

Punishment, similarly so, but the wrong person might be paying the price. It has one message: ‘don’t do this again, or else.’ So the objective is deterrence rather than to instil values, even though it might also lead to repentance. It may also serve to satisfy the punisher’s need to assert authority, for the sake of maintaining authority.

Law of effect (in psychology) is the principle that behaviours are selected by their consequences; behaviour having good consequences tends to be repeated whereas behaviour that leads to bad consequences is not repeated. [WordNet® Dictionary]

Ivan Pavlov’s conditioning experiment is a variation on the theme of the law of effect. When we punish or correct, we’re attempting to condition people.

So we can say that ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’ has sound basis in human psychology. The great book also says that a word is enough for the wise and the rod of correction drives out foolishness. So train up a child in the way he should go, or else …

Training requires, at some point or another, punishment and/or correction. And these are necessarily intertwined with morals—individual or group.

Determining what is the right or the wrong in any situation is another subject. In this though, principles over rules; commonsense over laws. Because, at the very least, one would need much less memory space for commonsense and principles than to store all the do’s and don’ts in the law. This is why ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ answers many questions.

Determining what is appropriate for punishment or correction or whether or not it should be effected or deferred is also another subject.

Is there folly where one chooses to ‘spare the rod’ and talk instead? It all depends. So we can ask when or where the talk, the face, or the tone, is strong enough to effectively motivate a desire for change? Because correction is about change. What might be the response, long term?

Punishment and correction are part of the joys and responsibilities of parenthood. And there comes a time when the parent’s right and ability to use the cane goes to zero. What then? We could always pray, talk from tough love, leave it to the karma principle since we reap what we sow. But we forgive ourselves and move on.

Trivials:
The rod or cane or pankere (Yoruba: pronounced kpankere with ‘a’ as in apple, ‘e’ as in tell, and ‘kp’ as ‘k’ and ‘p’ pronounced at the speed of light one after the other) or ukpokpo (Esan/Bini: pronounced with ‘u’ as in full, ‘o’ as in go, and ‘kp’ as with Yoruba) is not necessarily physical. Just to say the obvious.

Can’t think of an English word with the ‘kp’ sound in Yoruba/Esan…. It’s one sound, and of a similar character to the ‘dg’ sound in judge.

The Internet of Things

Telcos, in addition to their traditional telecommunications services, are now internet service providers, cloud service providers, outsourced IT and customer service providers, media stores, media delivery companies (cable tv, apps, music et al), advertising companies etc. Their services are being integrated with those as of Google galaxy and Microsoft universe (  + Yahoo, Skype, Facebook) among others. Social media platforms are linking with one another and the behemoths too. So integration and collaboration is the game we play here today. Networking social networks.

The experience of the hardware is the software and vice versa; that we know. And steadily the telcoware is fast leaving our sight and becoming fully embedded in our subconscious. Internet — also a soon to be an antiquated word — is disappearing from our consciousness. These things together though, make the system we may call ‘the port,’ our interface to the matrix of others, including the inanimate.

What does the future hold for society in this? Scary opportunities, a new vocabulary, and another new way of life that probably already had been.

Maybe comes a time when telcos cease, or when we make do without them. Maybe comes a time when everything is matrix capable, and the interfaces are self-organised to the point of making ICANN and central organization irrelevant.
Maybe we won’t need displays anymore because they could be inside us — chips anyone? The blind shall see and the deaf shall hear — everything about the world from anywhere, in their heads.
Maybe, just maybe … is true.

Extracts from ‘The promise’ by C. Wright Mills—With Comments

“Many great public issues as well as many private troubles are described in terms of ‘the psychiatric’ – often, it seems, in a pathetic attempt to avoid the large issues and problems of modern society.”

“… ‘mans chief danger’ today lies in the unruly forces of contemporary society itself, with its alienating methods of production, its enveloping techniques of political domination, its international anarchy – in a word, its pervasive transformations of the very ‘nature’ of human beings and the conditions and aims of their life.”

“Suppose people are neither aware of any cherished values nor experience any threat? That is the experience of indifference, which, if it seems to involve all their values, becomes apathy. Suppose, finally, they are unaware of any cherished values, but still are very much aware of a threat? That is the experience of uneasiness, of anxiety, which, if it is total enough, becomes a deadly unspecified malaise.”

“It is now the social scientist’s foremost political and intellectual task—for here the two coincide—to make clear the elements of contemporary uneasiness and indifference.”

Comments
Written in 1959, the article remains contemporary. It makes 2014, and 2013, and 2012, and … look a lot like 1959. A testament to human nature, and a statement that the society created by man makes the man.

Paragraph 1: It’s more comfortable to not deal with root causes. I imagine a situation were few people are sure what it is and how to deal with it, and that most people agree to focus on symptoms—being the more politically correct or democratic route to take.

Paragraph 2: We hear of disruptive technologies, some of which we’ve tasted. We hear less, if at all, about disruptive social and political norms, and laws; evolving everyday, and morphing into new mindsets that may challenge our individual/group humanness and attempt to redefine it for better or worse. We build our houses and contain ourselves in them.

Paragraph 3: Fantastic descriptions of indifference and apathy; very real. I don’t unreservedly agree with his description of anxiety/uneasiness (maybe I haven’t sufficiently understood it), but it does make 95% sense—excellent. 

Paragraph 4: Amateur sociologists/anthropologists abound.

Is this utilitarian business?

… listening to the news with one ear, one report spoke of the record revenues from excise duties in a particular region paid largely by three companies. Two were in the alcohol business (brewery/distillery) and the third was BAT (with the last ‘T’ for tobacco). This report was, on the surface, okay until the next one which spoke of the need to enlighten the people, smokers in particular, about the downsides of smoking, and the need to stop (or never start).

First you keep them in production, mass production, with near unlimited distribution (convenience stores everywhere), and then you try to restrict their market(ing) and limit product take up by teens especially. What other examples are there?

It’s the manufacturing value chain that needed digital terrestrial TV first.
The government is always happy to do spectrum allocation and licensing.
Broadcasters and customers spend on new equipment.
We want more options.
We want more convenience.

Has it been more hype than substance?
What other examples are there?

In addition to the widely reseached health effects of smoking which acknowledges it as very contrary to the physical man, smoker and inhaler alike, it has severally been said to increase the governments’ healthcare burdens significantly. We choose to let them live. They/we/you keep them, and bear with them, at least for the tax that they pay, first. Second, for the fear of a fight against the ‘powerful’—and very rich— companies involved. (Don’t play with a man’s livelihood where he’s got clout that includes an addicted crowd and a happy supply chain.)

Economics sways emotion.
Emotion sways economics.
Who arbitrates?

Maintain the programs to deal with withdrawal symptoms and end addictions.
Control via legalization. Get some money on top of it.
You don’t want to have to find people new jobs for the ones that would be lost if the industry is shut down.

How powerful is the money motive?
But, they who are determined to be rich, fall into temptation, and a snare, and many foolish and hurtful covetings, the which, sink men into ruin and destruction,— For, a root of all the vices, is the love of money, which, some, being eager for, have been seduced from the faith, and have pierced, themselves, about with many pangs (Rotherhams Bible, 1 Tim. 6). Thinking motivations and contexts.

Who doesn’t like to look good.

You want to belong to a group and still maintain your independence and freedom to break the rules of the group.
One of the dilemmas of governments. And to think of it, some married folks too.
Is there necessarily a dilemma?

Finally, in the extreme (limit, in mathematics), if everyone were smokers then the problems we see with smoking would be amplified. If no one smoked, then what could be the loss or gain to individuals, communities and nations in the long run.