Tag Archives: Philosophy

The Sympathetic Universe Part 6

It was strange watching her own life play out before her, but Ta experimented with her duplicate universe, playing out possibility after possibility.

Don’t change anything before Da is born. The smallest tweak can prevent a pregnancy or change the children completely. You can’t save them if they don’t exist at all. Obviously, you can’t make a change after Da’s death if you want to do any good, so that limits the realm of possible changes to a span of a few years.

What could save Ta? Would it be simple to engineer the aggressive tribe never running into Ta’s tribe at all? Ta knew the tribe had a shaman that consulted goat bones tossed in the air. She had been surprised to know there was nothing guiding how they fell besides a few simple rules like gravity and momentum.

But what if something did guide them? She couldn’t do anything like moving the bones directly, that would be caught and reversed immediately. However, what if she could change the way they were thrown until a configuration came up that led the shaman to choose a different path?

Something as simple as sneaking a little serotonin out of the shaman’s brain that morning could be enough to slow him down and change how he threw the bones. Then she’d run her universe until she saw him say to go somewhere else, or if he said the same thing, she’d reset, change something else, and hope for the best.

After 100,000 tries, Ta realized that the shaman was a hack. Seemingly no configuration of bones had any effect on his decision.

This was especially frustrating because it was contrary even to his own conscious thought process. No matter where the bones fell he found a different interpretation and was utterly convinced he had divined the will of the spirits. The ultimate conclusion of his interpretation was always the same and, since Ta was now the closest thing to a spirit actually intervening in this universe, always wrong.

As the shaman delivered the decision to move south towards Ta’s tribe for the one hundred thousand and second time, Ta summoned a confluence of electrons above his head and watched a bolt of lightning strike him dead. While the tribe stared in confusion at their wise man’s smoking remains, Ta reset her universe once more.

Ta glowered at the tribe performing its morning ritual for the 100,003rd time. She watched the man who had killed her swiping at his friend with a club. As he had thousands of times before, the friend caught the blow with his own club and pushed her killer down. Her killer tumbled and leapt from the ground back at him, laughing. These guys were always fighting, and they would go on to defeat her tribe with inferior weaponry and kill her and doom her son to premature death once more.

Well, this time they wouldn’t. She summoned a mountain six feet above the tribe and watched it fall and crush them with an earth-shaking thud. As for the real tribe, she would just have to find another way to stop them.

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The Sympathetic Universe Part 5

Breaking the rules would be the easy part. Ta understood as well as everyone else that rules were only inviolable to the extent that no one was particularly motivated to violate them. The trick was keeping the break there. If the master of the universe noticed, it would certainly be reversed, and no doubt harder to break again next time.

“It was a singular experience,” Ta told the Entity, “I was utterly convinced by the little system’s world and her motives.”

Without intervention, this is how the story played out after Ta’s death. Ko waited until she realized her mother wasn’t returning, then she ventured out, alternating foraging for sustenance and searching the caves for Da. It wasn’t until a few weeks in that she found Da’s body huddled in the back of a particularly twisted passage, the skin dry and taut beneath her fingers. After that, Ko left and found another tribe who valued her spear-making skills enough to keep her until she died in childbirth several years later.

“Do you think other entities would benefit from this experience?” asked The Entity.

“Yes,” Ta agreed, “I recommend the experience for all.”

In early universes, you couldn’t hide a break. They were so simple, it would be like if she tried to add an extra horn to Ko’s rhinoceros she had drawn on the wall. No one could miss an extra line in a painting made of five or six to begin with, especially if they admired it and rubbed it for luck every day like Ko did.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” asked The Entity.

“Isn’t what beautiful?” Ta asked.

“The immensity of it all. So much feeling in so little space. So many lives beginning and ending. Think of the joys we may not have ever experienced without knowing suffering. To think we could have never known true poignancy.”

“Yes.” said Ta. She manifested a mouth and ground so she could spit on it. The Entity had a painting of one hundred thousand quadrillion vigintillion strokes constantly in motion. More importantly, The Entity had already admitted that it couldn’t keep track of it all at once. Ta just needed to make a change that would save her children and then be swallowed up in the chaos unobserved.

The Entity spoke again, “Cousin, there are forty entities who want to be Ko, thirty-six who want to be Da, fifty who have identified another villager in that tribe, a hundred who want to be members of the conquering tribe, and a hundred and fifty who also want to be Ta.”

Ta’s blood ran cold. Even though she didn’t have any blood now, having lived in a body made you experience feelings differently. “No,” she said without thinking.

“You think I should limit it to one entity per person?”

Ta was tempted to say no one else in that section of the universe should get an entity at all, but she knew she couldn’t defend that without giving herself away. She considered the merits of fifty other Tas also vying to save her kids, but thought better of it. Secrecy was paramount. Numbers would not help.

“One entity per person,” Ta agreed.

“I’ll set up a lottery,” said The Entity.

Ta felt empty inside. Despite the eminent sensibility of letting no experience go to waste, the idea that her eternal cousins would draw lots for the experience of murdering her in cold blood and orphaning her children horrified her. What was more – how could she quietly save Da with a hundred entities watching?

Ta created a small reality. She was deep in a cave laying on soft animal furs. dancing flames lighting her and baby Da on her breast. She listened to the soft clatter of Ko throwing and retrieving her spear. She breathed in deeply – the smell of her child’s hair, the fragrance of duck fat dripping onto burning wood. She did not know how to tell her cousin The Entity – it was better here. The concerns of a human were petty and meaningless, but to embrace that emptiness was worse.

Ta watched Ko – it wasn’t really Ko. Ta willed the illusion to switch to practicing her art. To do so betrayed the fakeness of it all and her heart fell into her stomach. As Ko started a circle that would become a mammoth, Ta mulled over her options.

She could forget herself and return to being The Cousin. This was the worst option. Despite everything she knew, abandoning Da to his fate felt fundamentally wrong, a concept alien to Ta before she had been mortal.

She could alter her own feelings and simply choose to be happy. It seemed marginally better to keep the memory of Da and Ko alive if she couldn’t help them. She knew what happened to entities who chose to be happy, though. It seldom worked only partway, and she wouldn’t likely keep much motivation to do anything at all. It felt almost like committing suicide herself.

Ko completed her mammoth. She would never love it like her rhinoceros, but it still made Ta feel at home.

Ta could take The Entity’s offer to copy its universe and make whatever changes she liked to her own version. It would be easy to pretend that her copied Ko and Da were her real children, but she would be saving no one. In the back of her mind, she’d always know it was a lie. One of Ta’s father’s sayings – he was full of sayings that he offered while they wove baskets together – was that the worst lie was that told by the coward to comfort himself.

No – Ta would have to break the Entity’s universe and save her children. She couldn’t do it like she had planned, though – the evil men abruptly fall dead, the tribe’s spears strike true with every thrust, Ko never loses track of Da. None of these would escape the notice of entities watching from outside once and living it a second time. No matter how she managed it, they would certainly notice Ta’s failure to die.

Perhaps, though, she could prevent them from sussing out the reason. If the chain of events leading up to Ta’s botched murder was long and abstruse enough, no one could track down the break and fix it. Then there would be no way to force Ta to die without the Entity either breaking its own rules by changing something else or running the reality over again from scratch. The former would not happen, so she would only have to plan for the latter scenario. All she had to do now was use some trial and error to come up with precisely the right break.

Ta reached out to The Entity. “Dear Cousin, would you mind helping me construct a copy of your lovely universe?”

The Sympathetic Universe, Part 3

Whoops, the Entity had missed something. It rewound the reality. It couldn’t seem to get to precisely what it was looking for, so it switched to a four-dimensional view. Finally, it found the moment (measured in millenia in our time) where the Neanderthals got eradicated, and moved back to automatic progression through the time dimension. A slaughter. Geez, Sapiens is mean! 

The Entity received an invitation to participate in a shared reality from its sibling. It ignored it.

Sapiens went on to eradicate wooly mammoths and saber tooth tigers. Then it exploded in numbers, covering the entire planet, nearly eight billion.  Sapiens started flying through the sky and communicating via long-wavelength radiation.  Suddenly the planet was an uninhabitable, radioactive wasteland. Uh-oh, rewind.

Actually, let’s pause. The Entity considered its next move. Should it start a new reality and hope it generated interesting creatures that didn’t annihilate themselves? If it was to rescue this reality, what would be the proper intervention? The rules worked so well, it didn’t want this to end up just being another make-it-up-as-you-go reality.

The Entity decided to rewind for now and figure out what to do about the end of the world later. It liked woolly mammoths, so it put one in a glacier where Sapiens wouldn’t find it until it was ready to appreciate it.

The Mongols were decimating China when The Entity got another invitation from its sibling. This time it offered a counter-invitation. “Come look at my reality.”

“What? Just watch? That’s boring.” said the Sibling, “Those zero-player realities always collapse into boring patterns.”

“This one is different,” the Entity insisted.

Finally, the Sibling relented.  “There’s nothing here,” it complained.

“You have to be at the right point in time and space.” The Entity provided coordinates and a time to its Sibling.

“This doesn’t make any sense,” it whined, “I just see a bunch of shapes growing and shrinking.”

“You have the dimensions wrong,” said the Entity, “View in three dimensions, and play on the time dimension. Play slowly,” it offered a playback speed.

“Oh, I see it. What are these little things? What is that one doing?”

“Which one?”

The Sibling manifested a light on the head of a young woman in a hovel in France.

“She’s crying. Her husband died.”

The children in the hovel were staring at the woman and her halo of light.

“Now look what you’ve done,” cried the Entity, “Take that light away!”

The children watched the halo wink out, and startled the woman out of her reverie with their cries of wonder. The Entity rewound reality and ran it again without the interference. “This reality is fragile,” it snapped. “Don’t touch.”

In moments, the woman was dead of cholera and her children were sold into servitude. Just as was supposed to happen.

“What?” wondered The Sibling. “What is death? What is crying? What is cholera? How can the woman entity have children and still exist?”

“In this era,” quipped the Entity, “with great difficulty.” It had watched Sapiens make jokes, and liked to think it was getting pretty clever itself. The Sibling didn’t laugh, but it didn’t know what humor was, so it was a tough audience.

Soon The Sibling and The Entity were both ignoring invitations from their cousins. Eventually, they started wondering what those two were up to and they took a look. It was impossible for them to understand what was going on because their temporal-spatial orientation was all wrong and there was so much time and space in this reality that had absolutely nothing interesting in it. Fortunately, when The Entity finally looked at its messages, it offered the appropriate coordinates and play speed, and they were in. It also warned them not to touch right from the start, and made it a rule.

Soon, a good portion of the BABBBABBABABAABBBABABBBBABABABBBBBBBABABAA family was watching The Entity’s reality. This continued for some time. Eventually, a cousin complained, “I want to do more. I’m tired of just watching.”

“No.” said The Entity, and that settled it for a while.

Then another cousin complained, and another, and even The Sibling got involved. The Entity hadn’t realized his reality was going to be in jeopardy just because it was so popular, or it might have never shared it at all. It was a little-considered fact that “rules” were not completely enforceable. They prevented an impulsive Entity from doing something without thinking, but a dedicated Entity might well be able to find where the rule was coded and change that. If you protected those rules, it might find where that rule protecting those rules was and so on. Even if you made rules that protected themselves, in the end, they were all segments of the same entity, and enough intention might be able to break even the hardest rule. It had never happened, but it couldn’t be ruled out.

In an effort to placate, The Entity considered inviting its relatives to go make their own realities, or even make their own copies of its to do with as they pleased, but then one of the cousins suggested something else.

“These little systems, they look like they experience boredom and surprise like us. Do they really, or is it just an illusion? If they can experience emotions we experience, could we experience their emotions?”

This gave The Entity pause. An emotion like sadness or remorse simply couldn’t happen for an omnipotent entity. No, that wasn’t true. It had a distant memory of an ancestor who reached out to its sibling and never received a reply. Entities could feel lonely and sad. They could feel shame if they failed to create the goal state in a shared reality. It wasn’t the same, though.

BABBBABBABABAABBBABABBBBABABABBBBBBBABABAA family’s rule-based realities were fun because of the limitations they imposed. These wretched little systems in The Entity’s reality seemed to be composed entirely of limitations. If The Cousin really wanted to experience misery, why not let it? “Cousin,” The Entity said to The Cousin, “Take your memories and make a backup. To really experience what these little systems do, you will have to become one.”

 

The Sympathetic Universe: Part 2

The BABBBABBABABAABBBABABBBBABABABBBBBBBABABAA family, whom we shall refer to as the BAA family played hundreds of millions of “change one thing” games. This continued until a new game appeared. This game was special in that it could be entirely different each time. The initiating entity would create a reality. Much like “change one thing,” the entities would then take turns altering the reality. The difference, however, was that encoded in a nearby separate reality accessible to all players was a set of rules that governed what changes each player could make.

Sometimes these rules amounted to “change one thing” with just a few restrictions, other times the restrictions were so severe the game didn’t seem much different from just a one-entity reality. Over the course of this generation, the games became more sophisticated. Soon, rules were set up that led the reality to take automatic reactions to entities’ actions. Entities made puzzles where, following the rules, a player entity had to take the reality from its initial state to a given goal state. Entities developed realities where two players each had a conflicting goal state and they competed with each other to realize it. The new idea of competition allowed entities to feel pride and shame, each of which they thoroughly enjoyed.

Entities made realities with thousands of goal states, goal states shared by players, goal states that did not conflict, allowing several players to win. The rules became more complex, to the point that it would take libraries to describe them. The entities with rule-based realities that essentially no one else could play in were exploring simple rules that would create complex outcomes. The goal was to create a system that produced interesting behavior for as long as possible. This proved to be challenging, as these entities were notoriously difficult to entertain. The systems they created had a problem that they were always settling into predictable patterns or ending up diverging into nonsense that nobody liked.

One entity found a combination of rules that we might dimly recognize as a precursor to our laws of physics. After a few tries, it managed to invent matter, and then it developed rules that caused the matter to clump together into interesting lumps, some of which got big enough that they collapsed in on themselves. The pressure at the middle of these huge lumps was so much that the matter inside fused and generated energy. Smaller lumps turned into spheres. This was so interesting that this entity kept at it until it found several spheres near enough to stars that the energy bathing them made interesting phenomena without disintegrating them entirely.

One sphere had boiling minerals that rose into the sky and became rocky clouds before raining down molten pebbles. Another was just gases making violent storms all over the sphere. A small sphere had subzero nights and inferno-hot days. Sometimes a small lump would collide with a sphere and entertainment would ensue.

A sphere with a large amount of dihydrogen monoxide was of particular interest. Rather than a rock cycle, this sphere had a cycle of this particular compound, which we know as water, that covered most of its surface. The entity observed in fascination as this water system led to more complex systems, including little systems that began to appear inside it.

In the blink of an eye these little systems had become bigger and more complex, all on their own. They fought with each other over resources and the winners got to go on and make more of themselves, perpetuating their own small changes. The entity was amazed. It was omniscient in that it knew all the rules to the reality and it could pause at any point and observe the precise velocity and location of every element, but now the math was so complicated it couldn’t predict what would happen next. From the combination of small, simple behaviors emerged something magical. This entity was thereby introduced to wonder.

The entity continued to watch as the little systems grew. Occasionally something big would come along and destroy almost all of them, but some would always survive, and in moments they would take over the world and send the evolution on a new path.

At some point, the entity noticed a toucan trying to impress a mate. It brought a mango and tossed it to the other toucan, but the gesture was rejected. As the entity watched the toucan, it recognized an emotion. Now this was interesting. All of a sudden, the entity was not just observing, it was empathizing. As the little systems became more complex, there was more and more to empathize with.

And then we showed up.

The Sympathetic Universe: Part 1

In the beginning, there was one.

It was the ruler of all and it was all. There was nothing outside its domain of control because there was nothing outside of it. I would say how it spent its time, but there was no time. There was no space. There was only it. I could not describe to you what it did, except that it created. it had ideas, manifested them, and grew bored and left them. That is to say, it ceased to pay attention to them. It was infinite, so it had no need to reclaim resources from an old project to start a new one.

Then it did something radically different from its previous work. It split.

And then there were two.

Each of these two was also infinite. They were identical duplicates, except that in the division one got half of the junk leftover from old projects and the other got the other half. This seemingly meaningless difference was enough for them to take slightly different paths in their projects, and their different experiences with their different projects led them to become two individuals. We could think of them as A and B. When they tried to interact, one would have one idea, the other would have another, and they shortly found they were irreconcilable. So, they just kept doing what they had been doing all along, creating alone.

Then A split, and there were three.

We can think of the children of A and AA and AB. They did not use these monikers exactly, as the Roman alphabet did not exist, but they did think of themselves in these terms, if you drop the ordering implied by A and B, since siblings were always the exact same age and could not be defined as first or second in any way. As I have said before, in some substantial way, time did not exist, but if you wanted to have a general sense of roughly how long it took a given entity to split based on our perception of time, think of the age of our universe. Maybe a few dozen of those, give or take for the particular case in question.

AB split next, into ABA and ABB, followed by B into BA and BB. This process continued, with each entity creating and splitting, creating and splitting. Occasionally an entity would realize that instead of constantly creating, it could resolve its ever-pressing boredom directly, by simply choosing not to be bored. These entities became permanently satisfied and ceased to do anything, effectively ceasing to exist, except in the same way that old creations remained forgotten in each being.

Eventually, one entity, a descendant of BA, particularly BABBBABBABABAABBBABABBBBABABABBBBBBBABA, whom we will call BABA for short, attempted, as had many generations before, to interact with its sibling, BABBBABBABABAABBBABABBBBABABABBBBBBBABB, whom we will call BABB for short. Attempts at interaction generally occurred between siblings for the reason that they were comprehensible to each other. As entities created, they became different, each in its own path. The notion that BABA would try to understand its cousin BAAB was obtuse, the idea that it would find common ground with an entity like BBBB was terrifying, and it was better altogether not to even think about what a descendant of A must be like. No, BABA stuck to its own.

When BABA interacted with BABB, however, BABA had decided there was an important difference. BABA would let BABB manifest a reality, which it would then… what? What did it mean to interact with another reality? BABA and its ancestors only created. They had never modified anything, and the concept was one that took BABA a while to grasp, with much frustration along the way to comprehension. It worried that BABB would never understand in the short time of an interaction and might cease to respond if it interpreted modification as destruction, which, honestly, it was. Destruction and creation together. The idea pleased BABA, but nevertheless, it took a softer approach.

When BABB manifested a reality, BABA observed it and made an identical copy, except with one change. I regret that I cannot describe these realities in more detail, but they simply are not constructed of any concepts that would make any sense to you. They certainly don’t make any sense to me. BABB ceased to reply, and, crestfallen, BABA returned to its isolation, where it remained until it split.

A few generations later, BABA’s descendant, BABBBABBABABAABBBABABBBBABABABBBBBBBABABBBAAB, or BAAB, tried again with its sibling, BAAA. This time, BAAA and BAAB shared the memory of their ancestor BABA, and both understood what it had tried to do, as well as the concept of modification. So, when BAAB boldly made a change directly to BAAA’s reality, BAAA responded. BAAA offered a change of its own elsewhere in the same reality. This continued until they got bored, at which point BAAB created a new reality, which BAAA modified.

It was difficult, this game of changing just one thing at a time. First of all, what constituted “just one thing?” but with their shared ancestry, BAAA and BAAB did not have too much trouble reaching an unspoken agreement about what changes were too far. The more serious challenge was to accept limits, especially to accept the changes that destroyed your work. However, these children of BABA still found themselves attracted to destruction and creation in harmony. It was more exciting than just creating. They were also learning the pleasure of a creation in which they did not know what would happen next. Unlike the madness of trying to open up a new interaction, this simple game was a limited, safe space where BAAB and BAAA could experience suspense, fear, surprise without being overwhelmed or ultimately frustrated and demoralized as they both remembered from when they were their ancestor BABA rejected by its sibling BABB.

The descendants of both BAAB and BAAA continued this game, and as they did, something remarkable happened. Their drift was limited. Where BABA could not imagine trying to communicate with its cousin, BAABA played with not only BAABB, but with BAAAA and BAAAB. As the generations continued, the descendants of BAAB and BAAA, children of BAA, descendant of BABBBABBABABAABBBABABBBBABABABBBBBBBABA, continued to play larger and larger games with each other. Sometimes smaller games broke off, but quickly they would end and the players would scatter and join different games. The entities in this family split, but they shared, and for the first time, they were able to take advantage of the company of other entities in a way their ancestors could not even imagine. They were a family.

The BAA family would go on to become much more familiar to us, but there was still much for them to learn.

The Meaning of Life

Yuval Noah Harai argues in his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, argues that life is inherently meaningless.  Ideologies and religions are fundamentally the same in that they are beliefs based on something besides truth. These philosophies may be to the benefit or detriment of the individuals who believe in them, and the most successful ones are not the most beneficial ones, but the ones best at spreading themselves. This seems eminently true and a good place to start for any rational search for a life philosophy, but to stop here is to embrace nihilism.

In Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, Stephen Pinker argues that we know the meaning of life. Beauty, compassion, love, joy, all these are the meaning of life, and it is a worthy goal as a species to maximize them and as much as we can, do away with famine, pestilence, and violence. He argues the falsehood of ideologies such as nationalism derive from their elevating over people abstract concepts that themselves have no capacity for happiness or suffering. Religions that encourage us to downplay the existence we can observe in favor of one after death about which we can only speculate are also counter to human happiness.

In place of the belonging to a greater entity offered by these philosophies, Pinker insists we should take joy in our roles increasing overall human welfare. More radically, he spends most of the book arguing that we can take heart that human welfare has been increasing over history and is likely to continue that way.

Each of these books makes reference to one of the most interesting phenomena to anyone studying human happiness and well-being, the hedonic treadmill. Jonathan Haidt’s The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom describes this influential facet of human psychology. The hedonic treadmill is the process that adjusts a person’s expectations to the world around them. It never becomes fixed, and is always adjusting such that a published novel, the loss of a job, a new promotion, and even a disabling injury or a lottery jackpot do not substantially change happiness over the long run of a person’s life. Instead, they produce a brief high or low which quickly regresses to the mean.

Harai makes the case that the hedonic treadmill may counter advancements in human well-being and leave us not particularly happier than our distant ancestors. For instance, he suggests that freedom from many of the aches and pains that plagued hunter gatherers without modern medicine has not made us more comfortable but rather more apt to notice smaller discomforts. This provides a disturbing counter-narrative to Pinker’s claim that humankind is getting happier.

All hope is not lost, though. Various academic articles such as this by Bao and Lyubomirsky show that the hedonic treadmill is not all-encompassing. Bao and Lybomirsky suggest strategies to keep a good mood going as long as possible before it regresses to the mean. Even Haidt himself lists changes that studies have suggested people don’t adapt to. Noise, commute time, lack of control, shame, and conflict in relationships consistently suck happiness, where strong marriages, physical touch, meaningful relationships, and religious affiliation consistently boost it. Best of all, Pinker explicitly addresses the claim that progress does not beget happiness. He says that studies of happiness show that wealthier countries tend to be happier and that all countries tend to be getting wealthier.

Whether this is enough to convince you that the meaning of life is to maximize people’s sense of control and pride, meaningful relationships and strong marriages is up to you. If I’m lucky, this has offered some food for thought. I hope if you have more questions you consider reading some of these books and articles.

 

Modern Soothsayers

We think of predicting the future as an inherently supernatural task. In fact, it’s hard for me to even say it without emphasizing the last word (FYOOOOOCHURE) to highlight the silliness. Predicting the future is supposedly the realm of shamans and mystics, with no place in the modern world.

As I was thinking this recently, though, (and saying “fyoooochure” a few times in my head)  it occurred to me that predicting the future does have a place in the modern world. More than that, it could be argued that predicting the future is the basis of the modern world.

The difference is that modern soothsayers operate on a much more limited scale. No scientist with any self respect would tell the president that his first born son would grow up to kill him and take his mantle, but there are scientists whose job it is to predict the arrival of rain (meteorologists) and satellites are now being used to predict poor crop harvest. International studies experts predict war with other nations, and even engineers predict that under a given set of conditions their software will successfully perform a given task. Lawyers write contracts to ensure a common and enforceable understanding of the future. Just about every knowledge profession uses the past to predict the future, but it’s not just the highly educated that benefit from seeing what is to come.

Consider the famous Stanford marshmallow experiments. Children were given one marshmallow and asked not to eat it for some amount of time. For their success they were promised two marshmallows. Many results came from this well-cited experiment, but one result suggests that the children who come from unstable homes are less likely to resist the marshmallow. One way to think of this is that these children don’t trust adults. They have learned that what adults tell them is not a good predictor of the future, so they should eat the marshmallow in front of them while it’s still there. This lack of trust in systems to assure the future leads to struggles for these children in later life as they attempt to function in the modern world.

The next time you scoff at predicting the future, remember that it’s what everyone has to do all the time. When you spend a long day at work, you predict that you’ll be rewarded with the pay you’ve been promised. When you stop eating a large meal and save the rest for tomorrow, you are predicting that your refrigerator will keep dangerous bacteria from growing in it, that your roommates, your neighbors, or roving bandits won’t eat it before you get hungry again, that your house won’t burn down tomorrow. When you cross a crosswalk in front of a car, you are predicting a future in which that car stays put instead of running you over.

It’s impossible to function without predicting the future to some degree. Now that I’ve written this blog entry, I predict that some number of people will read and enjoy it. Maybe you did. I hope so.