Saturday, August 24, 2019

writing an open access book


When I first started to structure the ideas leading to this book in 2011, it was clear to me that "information is physical". However, the link between information and consciousness was only a hunch then. Indeed, I only learned about Integrated Information Theory and panpsychism in 2016.

I now only realize that I missed a whole branch of reality relating to information. Ideally, the book's name should be "Information, Consciousness, Life, and Reality", and it should include the recently discovered computational foundation of biological life. A new understanding of thermodynamics and complex systems appears to make life (i.e., metabolic pathways optimizing dissipation) an inevitable phenomenon throughout the cosmos.

The Support

As I outline in the acknowledgments, I am lucky to have been supported by many kind people on this journey. It was always interesting to experience the synchronicities during the creation of the book (see Page 617) when often, out of seemingly nowhere, a new piece of the puzzle was revealed during a conversation. It was also clear from the very beginning, that the book had to be available for free. This not only meant that all the hours working on the manuscript were motivated by passion but that I had to pay the publisher upfront for a book that would never generate revenues. Moreover, in six years I bought close to 300 books for research.

Again, I was lucky that many friends helped mitigate part of the financial burden. Specifically, a foundation in Zurich co-financed me and I set up a crowdfunding campaign. Here I would like to express my deep gratitude to everyone who supported me:)

In detail, thank you:

You all rock!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

it's that simple

The following is an excerpt from Afrikaburn's Survival Guide, an official Burning Man regional event held in South Africa:

Nudity, skimpy clothing, or even raunchy behaviour is not an invitation to have sex or any form of intimate physical contact. The only invitation is a clearly spoken invitation. Ignoring someone’s inability to consent contradicts the spirit of our AfrikaBurn community completely.

Simply put: yes means yes, no means no, maybe means no and silence means no.

The standard for consent in our community is an enthusiastic Hell, YES!!

UNABLE to consent means:
- too young,
- too intoxicated,
- too asleep or unconscious,
- too scared or intimidated,
- too ill.

Photo credits: Jan Verboom,, 2017

Sunday, April 15, 2018

quote of the day

Tim Minchin is an Australian comedian, actor, writer, musician, and director. He is very outspoken, controversial, and provocative with his satire. For instance, in 2010 he wrote The Pope Song, inspired by Pope Benedict and the abuse controversy that resurfaced that year. Given the lyrics of the song, it is astonishing that he performed it during a live show at the Royal Albert Hall with the Heritage Orchestra.

"In 2013, the University of Western Australia awarded Minchin an honorary Doctor of Letters degree for his contribution to the arts, recognising his outstanding achievements and worldwide acclaim as a composer, lyricist, actor, writer, and comedian" [Wikipedia]. In his address, he presented 9 life lessons:

Eight. Respect people with less power than you. I have in the past made important decisions about people I work with---agents and producers, big decisions---based largely on how they treat the waitstaff in the restaurants we're having the meeting in. I don't care if you're most powerful cat in the room, I will judge you on how you treat the least powerful

See here and here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

more conspiracy theories

facepalm af
Recently, this illustration has been passed around, offering an explanation of how the world really works:

(High res here.)

It tries to expose the sinister levels of deception and manipulation behind our apparent reality. The picture originated here (from Autonomous on 4chan, but has been taken down) and was popularized here (MAGA Pill tweet). It has been called The Swamp or Down the Rabbit Hole.

For my own take on conspiracy theories, see this post. As an author of the study that produced the following figures appearing in the illustration (see right-hand side of the first level down)

I would like to comment the following.

Regarding the topic of the media (at the top level) I would focus on false news, post-truth, conspiracy theories, filter bubbles, echo chambers, lies (yes, alternative facts), hidden agendas, divisiveness, hatred, and propaganda. Relating to the overall state of affairs, this perhaps summarizes best:
As a species, our recent terraforming activities have fundamentally transformed the biosphere we rely on, resulting in considerable impact for us individually. In a nutshell, we have devised linear systems that extract resources at one end, which, after being consumed, are disposed of at the other end. However, on a finite planet, extraction soon becomes exploitation and disposal results in pollution. 
Today, this can be witnesses at unprecedented global scales. Just consider the following: substantial levels of pesticides and BPA in vast populations and even remote populations (like Inuit women whose breast milk is toxic due to pollutants accumulating in the ocean’s food chain), increase of chronic diseases, antimicrobial resistance, the Great Pacific and the North Atlantic garbage patches, e-waste, exploding levels of greenhouse gases, peak oil and phosphorus, land degradation, deforestation, water pollution, food waste, overfishing, dramatic loss of biodiversity,. . . The list is constantly growing as we await the arrival of the next billion human inhabitants on this planet. 
Compounding this acute problem is the fact that today’s generations are living at the expense of future generations, ecologically and economically. For instance, we have reached Earth Overshoot Day in 2015 on the 13th of August. Each year, this day measures when human consumption of Earth’s natural resources, or humanity’s ecological footprint, approximately reaches the world’s biocapacity to generated those natural resources in a year. Since the introduction of this measure in 1970, when the 23rd of December marked Earth Overshoot Day, this tipping point has been occurring earlier and earlier. Moreover, just check the Global Debt Clock, recording public debt worldwide, to see an incomprehensibly and frighteningly high figure, casting an ominous shadow over future prosperity. Yes, the outlook is very dire indeed.

(Taken from my contribution to HOW TO SAVE HUMANITY)

OK, let's dive down the rabbit hole. Can we please add people like Charles and David Koch, Rupert Murdoch, and corporate and finance tycoons to the list, thank you. By the way, my statement on the question if our study has exposed a global conspiracy, unmasking the all-controlling, all-powerful Illuminati:
What should you take home from all of this? Well, the high degree of control you saw is very extreme by any standard. The high degree of interconnectivity of the top players in the core could pose a significant systemic risk to the global economy. And we could easily reproduce the TNC network with a few simple rules. This means that its structure is probably the result of self-organization. It's an emergent property which depends on the rules of interaction in the system, so it's probably not the result of a top-down approach like a global conspiracy.

So far so good. Regardless through which political lens you choose to view the world, the status quo appears deficient and things could be arguably a lot better. Power and wealth have accumulated in the hands of very few, a condition accompanying the human species since over ten millennia.

Moving on to the second and third levels down the rabbit hole. This is where things become unsavory and appalling. This is where the batshit crazy enters and I am not talking about the pathological paranoia (advanced secret space programs, "certain" bloodline families dominating all aspects of our lives, trauma-based mind control, ...). No, I am talking about this:

Luciferianism, worshipping the Dark Side, next to child and human sacrifices.

Dude, seriously?

Another thing I object to is CERN being associated with the devil. Obviously, the logo of the three accelerator rings reveals the hidden symbolism of evil: 666! Ghasp (and not to be confused with 999). So, all scientists are bad people, ha. They are all corrupt and dishonest. But ever wondered where the gift of technology comes from?

It is an interesting idiosyncrasy of our times that we have become increasingly accustomed to the ongoing success of the human mind in probing reality and understanding the world we live in. Indeed, the relevance of this ever-growing body of knowledge, describing the universe and ourselves in greater and greater detail, cannot be overstated. It allows us to engineer and design reality at will! Sadly, we have come to expect our technological abilities to constantly accelerate and reach breakneck speeds, without giving it a second thought.

The good souls laying the foundations of knowledge, enabling and fostering technological progress are and have always been---drumroll---scientists. People love reaping the fruits of technology (from transistors in microchips to a global information network, from smartphones to rovers on Mars) while at the same time vilifying the hardworking scientists making this possible, based on petty social and political preferences. However, a simple solution is the following. If you deny science (from flat Earth, to creationism, to climate skepticism, to anti-vaxxers, ...) you don't get to use a smartphone and the Internet. Also, no electricity...

In closing, perhaps people should spend less time online and actually look at and engage with the real world around them. Perhaps a walk in nature could help cultivate a healthy and sane mindset. Or observing a sunset or gazing at the night sky. Perhaps a bit of contemplation and reflection could counter all this toxic thinking. Pro tip: Ever engaged in critical thinking? You know, stuff like this:
Critical thinking involves both cognitive skills and dispositions. These dispositions, which can be seen as attitudes or habits of mind, include open and fair-mindedness, inquisitiveness, flexibility, a propensity to seek reason, a desire to be wellinformed, and a respect for and willingness to entertain diverse viewpoints. 

Just sayin'

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

random quote of the day

technology A short quote on the acceleration of technological breakthroughs at breakneck speed:
The information society has been brought about by the fastest growing technology in history. No previous generation has ever been exposed to such an extraordinary acceleration of technological power over reality, with the corresponding social changes and ethical responsibilities. Total pervasiveness, flexibility, and high power have raised ICT to the status of the characteristic technology of our time, factually, rhetorically, and even iconographically.

The computer presents itself as a culturally defining technology and has become a symbol of the new millennium, playing a cultural role far more influential than that of mills in the Middle Ages, mechanical clocks in the seventeenth century, and the loom or the steam engine in the age of the Industrial Revolution.

Taken from The Philosophy of Information, Luciano Floridi, 2011, pages 4 and 5.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

How To ICO

token fun A little tutorial showing you how to create your own ERC20 tokens using Solidity on the Ethereum testnet Rinkeby.


To get started, you need Ubuntu Linux running. An easy way is to

Then you need to install
  • Solidity  (object-oriented programming language for writing smart contracts);
  • Geth (command line interface for running a full ethereum node implemented in Go).
To do this, execute the following:
$ sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
$ sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:ethereum/ethereum
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install geth solc

Check your installation:
$ solc --version
$ geth version
See more details here.

Solidity Deployment

Synchronize blockchai:
$ geth --rinkeby --fast
This will take a couple of minutes. Once you see something like this in the terminal, you are up to date (note that an average block time is 15s):
    INFO [08-01|14:53:24] Imported new chain segment blocks=1 txs=1
    mgas=0.021  elapsed=1.998ms   mgasps=10.505  number=638703
Then you can CTR-C.

To launch the CLI:
$ geth attach $HOME/.ethereum/rinkeby/geth.ipc
Create  an address (account) on the Rinkeby testnet:
$ geth --rinkeby account new
Enter password and save address.

Start Geth:
$ geth --rinkeby --rpc --rpccorsdomain '*' --rpcapi 
"eth,net,web3,personal" --unlock 0 --password <(echo XXX)

Go to:
Get ETH:
  • Go to and click "Crypto Faucet".
  • You need a GitHub account.
  • Login to create a Gist: description and filename can be anything, however, the first line (starting with "1") needs to contain the address you generated above, preceded by "0x" (see example).
  • Refresh the GUI at (and choose "Web3 Provider" again)
Now you should have an account balance showing a few ether.

Deploy Test Contract

Set up:
  • In add a new contract (plus sign top left). 
  • Fill in example code from here.
  • Click "Create" (orange/pink button right-hand side).
  • Wait for transaction to be mined.
  • Check terminal synchronizing blocks: you should see the address of the new contact "contract=0x0498b6289f48e28124ec23c30993fcf59af22092".
  • You should have less ether (top right).
  • Check contract address in
  • You should have buttons in the browser on the right-hand side ( corresponding to the getter and setter functions.
  • Enter in "set": 2,"MyAddr",42
  • Entering 2 in "getAmount" or "getAddr" should return "42" and "MyAddr", respectively.

Create ERC20 Token

  • Copy code from here into
  • Deploy contract with "Create" button ("browser/myToken.sol/MyToken").
  • Check "totalSupply" button.
  • Check your balance by putting your account address you generated with Geth above into the "balanceOf" field (right-hand side). NB: address is in quotes and add "0x" if missing in the beginning of the string.
  • Check contract address (from synchronization terminal or "Copy address" button in browser) in 
With the parity wallet (stop synchronizing terminal and go to ) ERC20 tokens can be stored. Create a new wallet address. Stop parity and restart Geth. Click " transfer" button with your parity address in quotes and some amount.

Voila, you just did an ICO and transferred some tokens.

See my example token (original address and my parity wallet).

Thursday, May 11, 2017

the relativity of the subjective perception of reality

fun with memes
The label post-truth is quintessential to our world today. We have transitioned from:
  • pstmodernism
  • constructivism
on to
  • relativism
Basically, today you can believe whatever you like and there will always be an on-line subculture defending those views with "facts". Ironic in times when neuroscience is able to explain why our brains cling to the belief systems it has formed, especially when presented with evince negating the beliefs.

The relativism of defining one's own subjective experience of the external world is perhaps most obvious when it come to conspiracy theories. Below a meme ranking conspiracy theories by how much you need to warp your perception of reality in order to convince your brain it's true.

By the way, I believe in the last four;) See here and here for details on why. This was my motivation for making the meme: If people are willing to believe bat shit crazy stuff, why not go all the way? While traditional conspiracy theories rely on everyone lying to you and constantly deceiving you, "my" conspiracy theories place you in the center of creation.