Brain 2.0 – beta

So things have been quiet for a while. A big while. I was involved in a pretty big project, that ended in the meantime, and in that meantime off I went in vacations.

But far from me the thought of minds being left idle, here’s something to churn those surplus neurons: If only gay sex caused global warming.

Yup, you read that correctly. It’s a small article, that I first heard of while reading a not so small book, that revolves around the reasons of why we (as a species, but I’m guessing the author meant US americans in particular) care so much about terrorism, and so little about global warming:

The odds of this [global warming] happening in the next few decades are better than the odds that a disgruntled Saudi will sneak onto an airplane and detonate a shoe bomb. And yet our government will spend billions of dollars this year to prevent global terrorism and … well, essentially nothing to prevent global warming.

Now, if indeed gay sex (or anything else that goes against established moral rules) caused global warming, we would mobilize and demand action be taken, for “Moral emotions are the brain’s call to action.” This is indeed one of the problems with global warming: “It doesn’t cause our blood to boil (at least not figuratively)“, and that’s also the reason for the article’s name.

The author deals with three more problems that threaten to render global warming into oblivion — at least while it doesn’t come back for revenge. First, “global warming lacks a mustache” — seriously. We tend to overestimate big time threats that come from other humans, while systematically underestimating those not related to human intent, viz. natural disasters. Indeed “If two airplanes had been hit by lightning and crashed into a New York skyscraper, few of us would be able to name the date on which it happened.” Secondly, environmentalists’ discourse to the contrary, global warming is not happening fast enough — fast enough for us to actually realize it, in a “oh my God we need to DO SOMETHING about this” kind of way.

The third reason, which is the one besides this post’s title, has to do our good old brains. If they originally evolved to allow better and quicker responses to a changing environment, we now have within our grasp the ability of not only responding to environmental changes, but also predict them before they actually happen. But there’s the rub:

But this innovation is in the early stages of development. The application that allows us to respond to visible baseballs is ancient and reliable, but the add-on utility that allows us to respond to threats that loom in an unseen future is still in beta testing.

I guess it remains to be seen if we can drop off the beta before falling victim of what might well prove to be the ultimate software bug.


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