futurish_0005 ❤ A visual guide to your lifespan, What do Aliens think?

This issue is guest-hosted by long-time Futurish friend, Moritz Wenzel. Moritz lives in Vienna, Austria, and in his spare time likes to play with the universe, hang out with his guitar and experience his loved ones. He can be found writing at https://www.loosely-intelligent.com/

Survive, be lazy and keep exploring

Time is limited. Therefore, time is valuable. You want to be careful, what to spend your time on. But what does that even mean? What IS worth spending time on? Is there an answer to this question? 

The first thing that comes to my mind is: I want to be happy, so I should spend time on things that make me happy. The way I see happiness though is that it is not a place you want to go to. There is no happy place. No, I believe happiness is more like a compass that tells you whether you are going in the right direction. 

This, in my opinion, is also why it makes you happy to make other people happy. Because it’s a meaningful thing to do. The meaning of one human life cannot be to just make that one human happy. There has to be something more profound to it. I think that the point in space-time that our happiness compass is pointing towards, has something to do with our fundamental needs as living things. 

These needs are; 1. Survival, 2. Be lazy (minimize the increase of entropy), and 3. Find out what is going on in the universe. 

All three are made up and possibly wrong. But if we look at animals, I would argue that points 1 and 2 are already pretty evident. Things that make me happy for example are a nice steak (outstandingly delicious survival), spending time with friends and family (it’s a lazy kind of social survival in my opinion), figuring out how the major scale of music theory corresponds to the eigenfrequencies of a guitar string (understanding the universe just a little more). 

This way of thinking led me to write my most recent blog entry, where I also expanded this philosophy to alien life. But firstly, let’s take a look at how much time we have and how we could spend it.



The Tail End

Gerhard: We all know, or should be at least aware of it, how precious time actually is. Every second that passes is gone. Gone forever along with all the socks entering the space-time washing machine portal. Yet, we often tend to be too busy living instead of actually experiencing every living second there is. The Tail End powerfully puts time in a very concrete perspective. I turned 31 last December, if I live to the glorious age of 90, I have around 59 Christmases left. Or summers in which I can enjoy playing frisbee golf in short pants, a cold beer, and friends until late in the day.

I read on average 10 books a year, which leaves me with 590 books I need to choose from. My parents are way closer to the age of 90 (and I hope they will live even longer than that) than me, which means that I have maybe 20 Christmases left with them. This post shouldn’t make you feel sad, actually quite the contrary, it should help you realize just HOW insanely precious time is. And how important it is to spend this time with your loved ones as long as you can. Spend this time with people and things that give you joy. Every second, minute or day can’t be redeemed. So often we lose ourselves in worrying about the future that while worrying we actually miss out on the present at hand. 

Priorities and quality time matter :)

Ps. I know I promised the continuation of the Multiverse Series in our last edition, but I found this article too inspiring to be left out in this edition. I will continue to write about the fascinating world of multiverses next time!

Pete: I love this way of thinking, but I admit I’m the last person to prioritize my personal time. My professional career is spent managing time and deliverables to ensure high throughput, but when it comes to my personal life? Yeah, all I want to do is lounge out with my loved ones. I guess it depends on what you value in life.  Like Moritz mentioned in his opening paragraph, the need to be lazy.

For me being lazy really boils down to spending time on things that I enjoy. I find if I enjoy something then I’m getting value out of it. I’m nearing 40 myself and honestly, as I get older I’m finding I’m enjoying life more. I surround myself with people that empower me. I work on projects that I get enjoyment from. I’m crafting my life to get the most happiness out of it.

Maybe I’m lucky in life to be able to live like this but it allows me to enjoy the moment and not worry about the future.

Moritz: It’s humbling to see your time outlined in such a graphical way. We want to spend our time in the best way possible, but what is the best way to spend time? 

Being locked up at home due to a pandemic gives you a lot of time to think. One of your possible conclusions may be: Hey, I am being robbed of my time! My time is limited and I wouldn’t even get all that sick from this stupid disease, even if I’d catch it. 

While that may be a justified thought, other people definitely do die from it, and therefore, lose time they otherwise would have had. So somehow, we need to strike a balance, where everybody gets to have the most time possible. 

I as an individual, someone who doesn’t know what the right policies are, can only really influence how I spend my own time. But the beautiful thing about your own time is that it is part of the overall total time and happiness experienced by humanity. So by taking care of yourself, you are actually taking care of humanity as a whole.

What I am trying to say is this: Enjoy your time! You are not doing it just for yourself, you are doing it for everyone!


Moritz: Have you ever wondered what all the aliens are wondering about? Which aliens, you ask? Well, all of those that definitely are out there. 

Just think about it, there are a hundred billion stars in the milky way and a hundred billion galaxies in the observable universe. I am not even trying to guess how many things exist in the universe that we are not looking at. I won’t guess, but I definitely will enjoy the chills on my back this gives me. 

Considering the preposterous size of the universe, you can’t seriously believe that there is only one planet like earth. There must be millions. So what are all these aliens up to, I wonder. In my most recent blog entry, I ponder on what makes us humans do what we do and try to make some predictions on what that possibly means for aliens. 

Let me give you a quick rundown of the things that I believe are the main reasons we humans keep going through life like we do; Firstly, we want to survive, Secondly, we want to be lazy, and Lastly, we would like to understand what the hell is going on. 

In my blog entry I elaborate on these points in some more detail, but what is really important here, is that I would expect aliens to have the same driving factors in their lives. By extrapolating these drivers, I make some predictions on what all the aliens are up to and how they might look like. Please visit my blog for more details and enjoy your ride through this very special universe! :) 

Pete: It’s an interesting thought but every time I hear these comparisons I always wonder if it’s the right way of thinking about it. We, as humans, always like to think we are the most important beings in the universe. We assume that other life out there shares the same core functions that we do.

If we were to break that thought pattern what would that mean? Well for one, I feel self-awareness might not apply to alien life. Maybe it’s too primitive for them to think that way? Maybe it’s a waste of brainpower? Are ants self-aware? Or do they simply share their consciousness with their peers and as such share their drive, their will?

Thinking this way takes us away from the ‘me’ and brings it to the ‘us’. I strongly believe that a lot of the problems we face in the world are due to everyone being so self-involved that if we took a few steps back and thought about others and how to help others, we could drive society forward.  Hive style.

Gerhard:  I am definitely on the side of “We are 1000% not alone out there”, however, I do think that we cannot simply apply our way of thinking, feeling, and doing to potentially other species out there. I do think that this whole universe is a huge ass experiment of trying trillions of combinations of life forms, to see what works and what doesn’t. Perhaps it is a gigantic recursive function with billions of multiverses, only to find out the optimal path. Yet, the big question I would ask is “What is nature’s / universe hypothesis?” or, “What is nature / the universe trying to find out?”. 

While I do agree with Moritz that we do many things because ultimately we are actually quite lazy and we create things to make life less hard, I also think we exist to lay the foundation of whatever comes after us. Perhaps we humans are just a stepping stone for a Super Intelligence, and the current development of AI is just the very beginning of this Super Intelligence.

Then, I also think we exist to just create. We are gifted with this superpower of turning our imagination into something real. Sometimes for pleasure, sometimes for no purpose at all besides the sake of creating, and most often to keep pushing the boundaries of humanity aka exploration. 

Finally, we exist to exist together. Not just with humans, but with everything around us, but especially fellow human beings. We are actually quite weak and useless as individuals, but the human strength lies in combining the intelligence and strength of many humans. Our strength lies in the collective. Like Pete said, Hive style :) 

We all step in shit from time to time. We hit roadblocks, we fuck up, we get fucked, we get sick, we don’t get what we want, we cross thousands of “could have done better”s and “wish that wouldn’t have happened”s in life. Stepping in shit is inevitable, so let’s either see it as good luck or figure out how to do it less often.

Matthew McConaughey, Greenlights

Around the web

Google's 5-Step Formula for Team Success Is a Master Class in Emotional Intelligence - In 2012, Google began a multi-year project to discover how to build the perfect team. This is what they discovered. - Gerhard
Jeff Bezos: Here’s how I make Amazon’s highest-stakes decisions
Clubhouse’s Inevitability - Great article on the new audio social platform, Clubhouse and what it could mean to the future of Podcasts. - Pete
How Slack uses Slack
A different Super Mario Bros. game now holds the title for most expensive ever sold
What Physics Teachers Get Wrong About Tides!  - Honestly, this was a bit of a ‘woah’ moment for me - Pete
How stunning visual effects bring Ghost of Tsushima to life

 Pete & Gerhard