Email presentation about the mathematics of life and civilization

From: Ray Gangarosa

Subject: A conceptual introduction to the mathematics of life

2020|7|16 ff.   my second email response to Friend#6’s email of 2020|7|?? — also the long-awaited introduction to the mathematics of life! 

From: Ray Gangarosa

Subject: a verbal description of the mathematics of life, as they are unfolding in our era

Hi everyone

As a very special musical interlude for this long overdue conceptual introduction to the mathematics of life, I offer four performances of three different Vienna Teng compositions, which I reinterpret as being especially relevant to humanity’s upcoming unicellular-to-multicellular transition. Vienna Teng, also known as Cynthia Shih, has already developed the lyrical and musical language for communicating these civilizational insights and is already bringing them to life in her day job with a visionary nongovernmental organization. 

Vienna Teng – Harbor (Live) —

Although this song was written about a particular long-distance relationship, the harbor could also be a refuge and beacon for all the explorers in our civilization. That’s how I hope to offer the mathematics of life in my theory, like a global positioning satellite receiver for civilizational design and transformation. 

Two versions of this song paint a picture of how we’ll recover from the wreckage of our era. 

Vienna Teng and Alex Wong – Level Up (Live January 4, 2019) —

Vienna Teng – Level Up (Official Music Video) feat. Tommy Guns Ly —

Vienna Teng Trio – Landsailor (Aims Live @ The Independent) —

This brilliant song presented as a triadic conversation between humanity, technology, and natural webs, with the latter played as the instrumental on an electric guitar. In her hilarious introduction, Cynthia Shih relates this trio to the “trophic triangle” — which I interpret to mean the triadic structure that I will show relates to chemical affinities essential to survival that are inherent in Schrödinger’s equation. 

Take care and stay safe, 


A conceptual introduction to the mathematics of life

Raymond E. Gangarosa, MD, MPH, MSEE

July 18, 2020

I’d like to thank Friend#6 and Friend#3for inspiring this draft of one of my foundational blogs. Friend#6 has prodded me to present the mathematics of life in a manner directed at overcoming humanity’s prevailing, highly vexing, communication barriers. Friend#3 seeks to resolve tensions by developing straightforward languaging that avoids labeling the warring parties by describing them instead in terms of their societal roles of highest potential. I want to frame the insights I’ve gotten from both of them in the setting and context of civilizational design and transformation, consistent with a reconciliation between the current strife-ridden dialogue and the mathematics of life — but also expanded in scope to take advantage of civilizational capabilities that exceed life’s performance envelope. By looking at the same kind of recurrent process from many different perspectives, I hope to accomplish all our goals. This is the first completed qualitative description of the mathematics of life. 

We can think of the mathematics of life as a recurrent cycle. I’ve found that a generalized Schrödinger equation that governs chemical reactions relates to an epistemological framework (i.e., conceptualization about how we get to know what we know) developed by the 20th century Jesuit priest and scholar, Bernard Lonergan, who thereby explained concept development as a cyclical historical process. By wonderful coincidence, this cyclical process also shows how to solve the inhomogeneous Schrödinger equation in structure and time by attacking it one level at a time, typically from lowest to highest. Substituting a manageable expression for structure or time for the other, the intractable inhomogeneous second order partial differential equation in both variables can be converted into a homogeneous ordinary differential equation in just one variable or the other. In second order, the previously unmanageable equation can be solved easily enough with some variant of the quadratic equation. This description suggests how life can (and must) link, from first principles, its chemical affinities at the lowest level to civilizational events and transformations at the highest ones — and all levels in between. A whirlwind tour of that spectrum of levels would provide lots of examples how everything fits together, but I’ll leave that exercise to the reader for now. 

Here was how Lonergan envisioned that humanity gets to know what we know — through a divide-and-conquer expansion of the same kind of dynamics to all levels, taking things one step at a time: 

A screenshot of a cell phone

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To make Lonergan’s formulation compatible with the Schrödinger equation, I have changed his 4 ´ 2 structure into a 3 ´4 format. Let’s avoid embedding irreversible processes inside irreversible processes, which would compound chaos with too many possible combinations of outcomes, by omitting “being reasonable” from life’s dynamics — instead of finding consistency with humanistic philosophies, life conforms to physical realities. So, my usual recurring triadic framework of past | present | future for reversible phenomena translates, respectively, into being attentive | intelligent | and responsible. Omitting the past | present | future internal structure from each of the limbs in this diagram, here’s how my modified Lonergan historical loop would look, where “phase change” is a system’s single irreversible transformation in state, whether for better (e.g., civilizational design leading to intentional transformation) or for worse (catastrophic derailment): 

Here is my modification of Schrödinger’s equation for a single nonrelativistic, spinless particle, which adds an integral over time for the potential function V(r,t) to represent cumulative effects from the system’s past: 

This equation reappears over and over at each structural level. At higher levels, it manifests as hydrodynamic analogues of quantum phenomena, sloshing around like bouncing oil droplets on a sonicated water tank in the pilot-wave experiment that allows us to see macroscopically the manifestations of much the same equation as applies to behavior of subatomic particles. Before Neils Bohr bullied quantum scientists into accepting the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, both Erwin Madelung and Erwin Schrödinger had developed the same general equation for quantum phenomena based on hydrodynamic analogies. 

What’s amazing about these hydrodynamic models of quantum phenomena is that we can easily see phenomena that used to be considered impossible to visualize or even not to exist — most notably particles following trajectories and pilot-waves guiding those particles — and then to observe them easily in real time at the macroscopic level, where they were thought to be hopelessly blurred beyond any recognition. Here are a couple screen shots of those bouncing oil droplets, taken from a YouTube video: 

Extracted from different segments of the video at website

A picture containing bottle

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What’s missing from these hydrodynamic models is the phenomenon of wave function collapse, in part because the pilot-wave model developed by Louis de Broglie and David Bohm didn’t think they required that concept to develop a comprehensive quantum model. However, in the setting of civilizational phenomena, I want to restore the concept of wave function collapse because it lends insight into complex irreversible phenomena. In simplest terms, we might think of the system “solidifying” a “collapsed” wave function by flash-freezing the water bath into either a more energetically tense (“bad”) quenched state or more relaxed (“good”) transformed state. 

In this regard, the usual context of quantum physics, subatomic systems and events, is on the opposite end of the spectrum as civilizational settings. Subatomic particles are so light they blow away and exhibit weird quantum phenomena just by applying enough energy to observe them, whereas civilizational phenomena are the product of long, powerful hydrodynamic-like waves over historical timescales. It’s very easy to induce wave function collapse in subatomic systems, while civilizational systems are inclined to keep exhibiting continuous “sloshing” behavior unless confronted by a hugely transformational event. Subatomic systems have much more noise, but civilizational systems feature staggering inertia. These differences in parameters make the same kinds of equations manifest very differently, even though they exhibit the same kinds of behavior. Heretofore, the differences have obscured the similarities, so these systems have not ever been linked in this way. 

Despite the enormous inertia of civilizational systems, the Trump administration, coupled with centuries of neglect of humanity’s responsibilities to nature and natural laws, could precipitate just such a series of huge transformational events, both bad and good. In fact, it seems like have witnessed a lot of such wave function collapses in our democracy, even as we hope for a transformative reaction that will prevent another dictator wannabe from ever coming so close to devolving it into a plutocracy and a cesspool of endemic disease. This cartoon captures the sad state of affairs perfectly: 

A close up of a mans face

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It’s clear that the Schrödinger equation for a single particle can’t model the transformations in question for a multilevel civilization with vast numbers of degrees of freedom, so we need to imagine a lot of such particles crashing into each other to exhibit irreversible behavior. That’s why the four-step version of my theory lumps together all the irreversible steps as the last stage of transformation: past | present | future | irreversibility. 

A few aspects of the process of civilizational design begin to come into focus. We don’t want transformational events to come too often, but rather want to “orbit” a highly functional attractor perched at the edge of a constructive transformation. We want to operate the reversible system so that it gains strength and to maneuver it in place to move toward the best transformed state and, anticipating a sequence of future irreversible changes, plan for further movement along the best possible trajectory. We definitely don’t want the system to lose potential, and we especially don’t want it to collapse catastrophically and irreversibly to a state of higher tension that would preclude transformative advancement along that promising transformative trajectory. We want the system to develop better and better tools at every level and exhibit more and more coherent (i.e., both focused and beneficial) behavior at higher and higher levels of its existence. For all these operational and navigational plans, we need to map out the contours of the dynamic environment in which the system is embedded. 

Then what is the system’s dynamic environment? I propose that it has the following structure: 

  • We consider only one human civilization, which has existed for all time in some form, however negligible, and will continue for all time (hopefully to develop well and never to go extinct into a flatline curve). 
  • Levels are arranged on a structural hierarchy, from the atomic to the molecular to cells to tissues to organs to individual organisms to family to friend networks to communities to different governmental groupings to international communities at different functional scales to the whole of human civilization. 
  • The system’s dynamics operate the same at every structural level, through recurrent and interconnected network patterns and processes. 
  • The basic structure of irreversible interactions between living systems has variously been described as the trophic triangle, the host-agent-environment diagram, the Trinity, or perichoresis, which I trace to an orbit in phase space relating to a modified Schrödinger equation that characterizes the expression of chemical affinities. 
  • More generally, system dynamics have the format past | present | future | irreversibility, corresponding respectively to the terms in the modified Schrödinger equation

past: òdt term — the cumulative effect of all prior memory the system has for its preceding history

present: Ñ2 term — the system’s existing physical structure

future: ¶/¶t term — the way the system changes over time

irreversibility: gradual transitional processes leading up to either catastrophic collapse or else fortuitous or intentional design transformation

This framework expands 3-step trophic triangles into 4-step modified Lonergan historical loops. 

  • Each level is supported by all levels below it and potentiated by all levels above it. 
  • Each level must contribute support to the system’s operation | function | development | and transformation to ensure 

past: adequate safety nets and circulatory supplies for vulnerable individuals and subpopulations

present: adequate living support for all its constituents at all structural levels, from individuals to the whole

future: potentiation of all its constituents, present and future, at all structural levels

irreversibility: potentiation of the whole system itself on a transformational trajectory over all future time

  • At this first effort to model system dynamics from first principles, we seek to model the most foundational, influential, and important effects, which will have the same kinds of propagating influence over all structural levels: 

past: survival issues — derived from chemical affinities → memory

present: volitional issues — Maslow’s hierarchy of needs → inheritance laws across structural levels

future: compounding dynamics — the potentiating effects of power laws

irreversibility: transformational dynamics — orbital trajectories and transformational attractors and repellors

  • Note that this kind of system has memory for its past | inheritance laws across structural levels | and the potentiating effects of power laws. Even neglecting the profound qualitative changes from transformational dynamics, systems with memory, inheritance, and power laws can exhibit rich, lifelike dynamics combining multilevel patterns and processes, including fractional calculus, fractals, and percolation. For example, such effects might play roles in communication, differentiation, and development comparable to the organogenesis in an embryo. 
  • The extent of memory into the past and of structural inheritance to ever-higher levels must have great bearing on a system’s power laws to function coherently | support operations | develop new capabilities | and transform the system. 
  • Technology has provided humanity unprecedented capabilities, which we have not used wisely and coherently. We have attempted to separate our fates at all levels from our physical environment, causing feedback circuits — most notably, the coronavirus pandemic — to push back against our encroachments. 
  • Transformational dynamics have changed dramatically with the introduction of high technologies, providing humanity much more power (to do both good and harm) and many more degrees of freedom. We’re at a developmental stage where our capabilities make us dangerous to planetary health and global stability on all levels, so even our reversible operational dynamics can no longer orbit “on autopilot”, but instead require us to steer intelligently. It’s as though humanity’s transformational dynamics have themselves undergone transition from a low-speed freight train (where collapse resembles derailment) to a high-speed aircraft (where collapse resembles a plane crash). 

Life introduces purposiveness to the dynamics of our world, which is further intensified, amplified, and expanded with civilization.

  • Think of civilization as a Kalman filter tracking appropriate responses to the challenges of each era, which requires finding the coherencies of life’s signal against a background of noise and inertia. 
  • The purposiveness of life and civilization manifests as amplification circuits, in which cultural and societal networks combine to function as a single, widely distributed, active and reactive medium. 
  • Life maintains a triadic structure corresponding to a second order differential equation because that is the richest configuration amenable to solution. 
  • A modified Schrödinger equation characterizes chemical affinities and interactions that pivot around them. Hydrodynamic quantum analogues characterize reversible behavior under Bohmian pilot-wave physics, but for complex civilizational dynamics beyond our capacity to model quantitatively, we also need to consider wave function collapse, leading either to catastrophic derailment and quench to a dystopic high energy state or else to civilizational transformation. 
  • A general solution of the modified Schrödinger equation in structure and time seems possible only when one variable can be eliminated by substituting a relationship with the other. Nature does this in embryogenesis with traveling waves of chemical signaling and development that catalyze somatic body segmentation. Postnatal life manifests this recurrent solution as Maslow’s hierarchy. As hinted above and explained below, civilization may implement these solutions by intentional design as modified Lonergan historical loops. 
  • We can think of embryogenesis as laying down a body plan that establishes boundary conditions for postnatal life and civilizational actions, framed in terms of the same multistep processes stemming from chemical affinities and network interactions. 
  • We can identify 7 civilizational sins and virtues associated with a 2-level, 3 + 4 step sequence leading up to a single irreversible process at the end. Note that I have more often described this sequential pattern, equally validly, as a 4 +3 step sequence, with the irreversible process embedded as step 4 instead of step 7, but the combinatorial explosion of possible states in that configuration has long contributed to the chaos of humanity’s “sleepwalking through history” without any awareness or understanding of the nature and mathematics of life: 
step  civilizational sinscivilizational virtues
1societal level, stage 1pastignoranceknowledge
2societal level, stage 2presentstupidityintelligence
3societal level, stage 3futurecorruptionhonesty
4civilizational level, stage 1pastexploitationservice
5civilizational level, stage 2presentduplicityintegrity
6civilizational level, stage 3futuretreacheryrighteousness
7civilizational level, stage 4irreversibilityexistential threatprotection of vital resources

Aside: Note how Donald Trump perfectly illustrates all seven civilizational sins! 

  • We can imagine civilizational operation and transformation in terms of design optimization through successive civilizational stages. 

Now consider how to operationalize those ideas in a form that could be suitable for simulation, empirical analysis, and theoretical development: 

  • The forces of civilizational evolution are compelling us to become aware of reality at infinitely higher levels, but we’re stuck in preconceptions about what’s happening in the noise and inertia of our individual histories. People who get pathologically attached to symbols that keep us entrenched in the past — as opposed to those that inspire us to talk about our destiny — are especially susceptible to dragging our civilization down into the noise and inertia. Those drags on our awareness are like the dramas we read into our existence and our interactions. That is the price that humanity has paid for emphasizing humanistic, anthropocentric philosophies instead of conforming to physical realities. And recent attacks on our awareness of reality by political ideologues, irresponsible social media trolls, dictatorial rulers, and foreign adversaries intent on sowing discord have greatly escalated those costs. 
  • Accordingly, we need to understand the mathematics and dynamics of our existence to begin to apply life’s lessons to attain the true freedom of multicellular life — as distinguished from the low-level existence, operational chaos, and ultimate collapse of unicellular organisms.
  • When civilization is compelled to track higher-level trends, these spurious inclinations to get absorbed in noise and inertia actively amplify the error signals that are already present. 
  • Think of human civilization as a Kalman filter trying to track a coherent dynamic signal into previously unrealized dimensions at higher levels. 
  • That tracking problem involves initially orbiting desired attractors to gather strength and experience until nature pulls the system into a transformative state. With further experience and much greater fluency, the system can track an entire anticipated trajectory of optimal transformations in its output phase space, actively catalyzing the transformative changes. 
  • Then imagine circuits, e.g., those seeded by spurious conversations in social media, that amplify intrinsic noise and inertia. 
  • Consider that those seeds of disinformation, discord, and doubt can derail the hydrodynamic operating mode of civilizational design and transformation, causing it to trip up on some aspect of its past and collapse its wave function into a dysfunctional frozen quenched state. 
  • Further envision a modified Lonergan historical loop functioning as a transduction between structure and time that is used to substitute one variable or the other to solve the Schrödinger equation. 
  • For example, imagine how such a Lonergan loop might emulate embryonic clocks that play instrumental roles in body segment formation in invertebrates and vertebrates. Note this huge advance in our understanding and application of modified Lonergan historical loops — how they relate to solving the Schrödinger equation and to a specific embryological application — which justifies humanity’s reconnecting with our civilization’s historical roots at every relevant transformation. 
  • Also recognize that the native noise and inertia are also buried in historical and literary trends in the Lonergan loop. This is the connection between the qualitative and quantitative models. 
  • Then consider how all these processes contribute to building the body of Christ into human civilization. 
  • Then consider how we might use all of human knowledge to anticipate how we might go beyond our current early embryonic stage at the threshold between unicellular and multicellular existence to anticipate the entire lifespan of civilization through its adulthood and ultimate senescence. 
  • It seems most likely that human civilization will follow life’s intergenerational pattern, handing off its dynamics and knowledge to its offspring. From the extremely limited vantage point of undergoing early embryological events, it’s very hard to imagine how that intergenerational process would manifest in civilizational dynamics! 
  • Anyway, back to envisioning the course of a single organism in this first generation of intentional civilizational design, next consider how we might optimize current design foundations to produce the best operational and transformational structures and processes for human civilization from its start to its end. 
  • Then consider how humanity might provide God with a civilization that gives Him the best possible tool for promoting good and vanquishing evil. 
  • Then, as suggested above, consider one civilization passing on its legacy to a successor after its death. 
  • Our job as citizens of human civilization is to recognize the coherence of these processes and enlist them to track the challenges that God puts before all generations in each era. 
  • Then consider how we might design human civilization to use the unique features of our civilization to transcend the limitations of biology, history, literature, and lack of awareness. 
  • For example, imagine using neural networks, knowledge engineering, and deep learning iteratively to refine the internal features of this Kalman filter to improve its tracking of the challenges that God puts before each era. 
  • It seems that this very specific engineering model would lend itself well to a mathematical description of the mathematics of civilizational design and transformation. Without having to go into great specific detail, I can imagine finding general mathematical descriptions of all the components described above — Kalman filter, tracking problem, noise and inertia components, amplification circuits, hydrodynamic quantum analogues, derailment model of wave function collapse, Schrödinger equation, modified Lonergan loop, embryogenic somatic segment formation, embryonic clocks, noise and inertia from historical and literary sources in Lonergan loops, extrapolation of embryonic formation to adult functions, operational specifications of life, design optimization through the entire adult lifespan, design optimization through multiple transitions from death to subsequent generations through legacies, civilizational sins and virtues manifesting at all levels, God’s needs to promote civilizational virtues and combat civilizational sins, sources of coherency (vs. noise and inertia) in all those equation, unique features of civilization that transcend limitations of biology and history and literature, incoherencies inherent in lack of awareness, identification of “handles” in the whole model that can be reviewed and revised through neural networks and/or knowledge engineering and/or deep learning — and describing abstractly the mathematical processes that link them. 
  • Next I plan to work on a clearer, more specific mathematical and technical description of my theory for scientific articles, mathematical publications, and possibly also blocking patents. 

Besides the mathematics of civilizational design and transformation, the human element is coming into play — and there’s no instruction manual for how to do this! 

  • What’s most significant socially, culturally, and psychologically is that humanity has not adjusted mentally and behaviorally to these changing dynamics, and our traditional information sources provide little insight how to make such adjustments and proceed. 
  • In fact, we’re so caught up in ideological struggles from the past — the right-left divide — that most people can’t see and that neither side can manage as a dynamic process. In the historical past of locomotive dynamics on a single fixed track, it might have been relevant whether the prevailing political party leaned to the right or to the left, but in our era of incipient flight dynamics, we need the capacity to steer fluently in all directions, as needed. 
  • Threats to democracy throughout the world and the rise of dictatorships present serious obstacles to negotiating these troubled times. Frustration with democracy has threatened our ability to function collectively at one of the most critical moments in human history. 
  • We have only a finite time to figure these things out. The clock is ticking on our capacities to make these changes well, as delay itself could precipitate catastrophic collapse. 
  • Most important of all, in this era of intensifying polarization, we cannot afford to descend into civil war at this critical inflection point — even though political demagogues, ideological zealots, social media, and meddling foreign enemies have been pushing us in that direction. We need to stop fighting among ourselves and concentrate on the process of developing a more cooperative civilization than we would previously have thought was possible. 
  • Our own bodies show that there is a better way to live — the security and “living standards” and “quality of life” of advanced multicellular organisms is incomparably better than that of unicellular organisms, not least because multicellular architecture has served as an evolutionary platform for the development of thought and a provided a substrate for the emergence and development of civilization. 
  • However, the operational boundary conditions of multicellular stresses, from multifaceted defenses to physiological shock responses to cancers — as well as the limited capabilities of organisms that straddle the boundary between unicellular and multicellular existence — demonstrate that improved living conditions cannot be the glue that holds multicellular organisms together. Cells in multicellular organism must exhibit extraordinary cooperation and self-sacrifice to keep those cohesive capabilities intact, lest the whole system collapse and all the cells within it die. 
  • By the same token, there’s not as much need in multicellular organisms to perform the routine overhead that unicellular organisms must do. 
  • For example, as human civilization makes this transition from unicellular to multicellular structure and dynamics, it’s less important for people to have jobs that make money to maintain their mere individual existence than it is for them to support the infrastructures that keep everything working. 
  • Under those modified conditions of multicellular existence, it’s particularly important that all individuals stop inflicting collective harm. As a result, financial incentives and cultural norms must shift dramatically to discourage backsliding into the selfishness of unicellular-mode operation. 
  • To some extent, there’s blame enough to go around, and on the other hand, that’s not the point of what’s involved. In the United States, the right can blame teachers for rent-seeking behavior that compromises education, but the left can blame physicians for monopolistic practices that make healthcare prohibitively expensive and difficult to implement universally. The bottom line is that nobody can be as self-sacrificing as our civilization demands of us to make this transition, and the future depends with great sensitivity on how we perform. 
  • The best that leftists and rightists can do is drive aimlessly in circles in one direction or the other, crashing into every obstacle that gets in the way, so neither has any cause for criticizing the other. If an embryo doesn’t make the transition from unicellular to multicellular existence, its failure to act will cause a spontaneous abortion, kill the whole organism, and curtail its future potential once and for all. 
  • On the other hand, as a matter of learning from experience and establishing cultural norms consistent with life’s realities, we need to perform a detailed, comprehensive “postmortem examination” of recent failure modes, especially once the Trump administration has safely crashed and burned. 
  • In the new process we face of developing a super-cooperative collective comparable to that in our own bodies, besides elucidating the scientific principles involved, the only valid starting point is setting up illustrative examples and counterexamples of how to act. Constructive examples must start with ourselves by exhibiting appropriate attitudes, behavior, and actions; counterexamples may involve establishing financial disincentives for harmful behavior. 
  • Our responsibilities to our civilization, future generations, our planet, and God’s kingdom dwarf all other considerations. As I’ll explain in future blogs, I believe that the souls of people in our era are especially accountable for making this transition well and setting up the future of transformations in human civilization. 

We can interpret what’s been happening to our democracy and governments around the world under assault by the Republican race-to-the-bottom, culminating in the Trump administration. Starting primarily with news, I’ll point out the progressive position, which I believe to be intrinsically in touch with both reality and common interests, despite its inclination to proceed from there with counterproductive leftist policies. Nonetheless, I think progressive Democrats will listen to arguments based on how life works, whereas I still think that conservative Republicans will not unless they are shocked out of their complacency (e.g., by the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic). 

On that basis, here is my (admittedly premature) postmortem examination of the Trump administration’s incipient fall, which should be considered a thoroughly informed prediction rather than a prescient prophecy: 

  • Single-issue voters, obsessed with antiabortion zealotry, closed off conservative governance to persistent feedback about the highly unbalanced state of our world. 
  • Rightwing ideologues like Newt Gingrich, egged on by antiabortion zealotry and extremist libertarianism, developed political attacks into a cold, calculated science, turning former legislative colleagues from across the aisle into bitter enemies. 
  • Offshoots of the rightwing political fray, most notably Roger Ailes and Steve Bannon, approached media moguls like Rupert Murdoch and Robert Mercer, to form broadcast networks designated for the abandonment of journalistic standards, denial of news, promulgation of conspiracy theories, and fabrication of what came to be termed “alternative facts”. 
  • Newly radicalized ideologues exploited the Republican primary elections to purge their party of moderates. 
  • Republicans countered two Obama landslides by concentrating on local and state elections, winning crucial support in 2010 that put them in a strategic position to gerrymander many state districts in their favor. 
  • The Republican Tea Party turned its platform into a pervasive denial of the realities of our time and the persistent, urgent feedback that humanity has been getting from natural and societal networks that have been tilted badly out of balance. 
  • Donald Trump used his universal name recognition and obnoxious character to beat 18 other Republican candidates who were in the more conventional mode of conservative dysfunctionality. 
  • As a hedge against Trump’s unknown allegiance and reliability, conservatives insisted on Mike Pence as a vice presidential running mate. 
  • Despite conservatives’ initial better judgment and a clear opportunity to oust Trump after the Access Hollywood tape was leaked, their opposition against him was short-lived — in part because Trump apparently panicked and timed the first Wikileaks dump of Hillary Clinton’s emails into the same news cycle. 
  • Defying all odds, Trump narrowly won an electoral victory with a margin of less than 80,000 votes in three battleground states, despite losing the popular contest by over 3 million votes. 
  • Trump did little or nothing to punish Russia for meddling in the 2016 election. Emboldened by getting away with its cyberattack, Putin repeated the process with other Western democracies during the Trump administration and has been even more brazenly interfering in the U.S. 2020 election. 
  • Fundamentalists interpreted Trump’s victory as divine providence. Their consistently overwhelming support for Trump kept him in power throughout his administration — a concerted choice that failed to perform due diligence and puts their souls on the hook for all the damage he has done through capricious, autocratic policies. That culpability will have profound consequences in the embryogenic process — most notably in the current generation of conservatives’ developing pain and empathy sensation at higher structural levels. 
  • Trump turned the party of Lincoln into the party of Trump. He dismantled government and perverted its function. He defied and defiled existing norms and subverted the rule of law. He pardoned cronies who engaged in criminal activities to cover for his actions and tried to prosecute his political enemies on trumped-up charges. 
  • Democrats won a landslide victory in the 2018 midterm election, often overcoming massively unfavorable Republican-engineered gerrymandering. That victory gave them a foothold for conducting investigations of Trump administration excesses and initiating impeachment proceedings. 
  • Trump tried to enlist foreign help again for the 2020 election, both from Ukraine and from China. 
  • The Democratically controlled House impeached Trump, but the Republican-dominated Senate refused to remove him from office. All Democratic Senators voted to remove Trump on both charges, but among the majority Republicans, only Mitt Romney voted to remove Trump on one charge. 
  • Trump is pathologically resistant to admit mistakes or change course, despite having refused to prepare himself for office, paid attention primarily to conspiracy theories, denigrated the best information sources in the world, which are routinely obtained by federal sources, dismantled agencies dedicated to providing presidential counsel, and surrounded himself by sycophants. 
  • Trump is also a pathological, sociopathic liar, having made over 20,000 false or misleading statements in public since his inauguration. 
  • Just as he did in derailing the Environmental Protection Agency’s mission, Trump has silenced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and now has stripped it of hospital data about the COVID-19 epidemic that it needs for crucial disease surveillance. Trump wants to blind government agencies and the public so he can make capricious, uninformed decisions based on magical thinking and not be held accountable for the consequences of his errors. 
  • Trump has expressed intent to curtail COVID-19 testing, so it’s not farfetched that he would try to suppress reporting of coronavirus infections. 
  • Trump has attacked democratic institutions, acted autocratically, expressed admiration for dictators, met privately in secret with Putin, protected Russia’s interests, never voiced criticism of Putin, and patterned policies after despots — most recently in sending federal troops in unmarked camouflage uniforms to arrest protestors en masse in Portland, Oregon. 
  • The Republican party’s contempt for truth has made even the nature of reality a contentious issue. 
  • Conservatives have thereby fallen into a cult of malicious personality that threatens to undermine and overthrow the rule of law. 
  • The United States was the country best situated to weather the coronavirus pandemic, yet under Trump’s gross mismanagement, we have experienced by far both the worst economic and epidemiological outcomes in the world. 
  • Trump stubbornly clings to a surreal impression that an epidemic can just magically go away. On that basis, he has obstinately refused to provide necessary federal leadership, thereby fragmenting our response to the virus. 
  • Even as the epidemic is growing in 41 states, Trump insists on opening schools, so parents will be free to go to work during the day, so as not to deflate any further his once-vaunted economy. 
  • As hundreds of thousands of American lives are at risk, Trump characteristically is thinking only of himself, in this case, getting reelected. He has a lot at stake personally: if he wins another term, the statute of limitations will run out for criminal actions he has committed during this term of office, so he might continue to forestall investigation and further commandeer the Justice Department to protect himself. 
  • Currently, Trump is panicky because he is consistently losing badly in the polls, not least because of his gross mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic and its downstream consequences: 3.5 million confirmed cases and 130 million deaths so far, unemployment not seen since the Depression, with 32 million people thrown out of work by the pandemic, enormous stresses on small businesses, and a huge anticipated drop in economic output. The stock market has oscillated but has not dropped significantly. 
  • Trump is bored with dealing with the coronavirus pandemic within the incompatible constraints he wants to impose on the economy, so his focus has changed once again to his fallback modus operandi of distracting and confusing the public. Unfortunately for him, the coronavirus knows nothing about the shiny objects he has tried to dangle before his gullible supporters, and his delays and negligence only exacerbate its relentless, remorseless dynamics. 
  • As an echo of what happened in the Bush administration, once again, stubborn denial of reality has resulted in economic prosperity inherited from the preceding Democratic administration turning into catastrophic collapse. The nature of that collapse is predictable — a huge death toll likely to compare with the worst wars in American history — but the full contours, e.g., in relation to economic indicators, cannot be fully ascertained just yet. 
  • With the murder of George Floyd under police custody, our nation has been plunged into racial turmoil, exacerbated by Trump’s egregious, lifelong racism. 
  • With all that’s happening to the American people under his mangled leadership, Trump continues to whine that, despite having the most powerful position in the world, he’s the victim of all this. Trump has obstinately refused to exhibit the requisite responsibility commensurate with the traditional power and prestige of the job. 

Proceeding to interpretation based on my theory, we can infer the following: 

  • Trump is playing chess at the international championship level with the highest of stakes, despite being a rank beginner, having spent no time preparing himself for the challenges, being utterly cavalier about the consequences, and getting roaring drunk (in his own inimitable way) on power. 
  • The chess analogy illustrates from an analytical standpoint how a series of catastrophic wave function collapses impairs system capacities and capabilities. The huge loss of life represents an irreplaceable pool of talent and potential. Trump’s magical thinking about the virus that pointlessly sacrifices tens of thousands of people to the infection, makes him like a beginning chess player who throws away pieces stupidly at perfectly straightforward defenses that any other president could easily have managed. 
  • Trump has thereby converted America’s position of great strength into a position of spectacular weakness and putting his side — that is, presumably, our side — in an ever-weakening position. He has thereby recapitulated the path he has taken at least five times in his business career, when he careened like a drunk driver out of control toward bankruptcy stuck his gullible investors suffering the financial losses, and reaped for himself the tax benefits of declaring bankruptcy. 
  • Trump’s penchant for lies, denial of reality, hucksterism, magical thinking, conspiracy theories, tactical distraction, disinformation, propaganda, authoritarianism, rash action, repeated bankruptcies, cavalier attitude toward unacceptable risks, lack of empathy, lack of accountability, etc., make Trump an American Chernobyl president — a spectacular catastrophe waiting to happen. 
  • Here’s an interesting anecdote and analogy. Trump has so attempted to distract and confuse that he has left doubts about the most basic truths about self-protection during a deadly pandemic, like facemasks. There’s no reason why such an effective measure should be controversial, yet confusion about that precaution is another shiny object he can dangle before the public to distract them from his gross mismanagement. 
  • I heard of a discussion where someone compared wearing face masks to wearing seat belts — and then another person said it was more like not driving drunk. Wearing masks, you don’t just protect yourself, but everyone else around you, including yourself. The protective effect of masks is quite comparable to that of sober driving. 
  • That’s a really good analogy that should go a long way to framing issues of collective responsibility in new ways! 
  • I exclaimed to the person who told me about the conversation, “Voting Republican is really what’s like driving drunk!!” Having Trump at the helm is like being a passenger in a taxi driven by someone who is roaring drunk! 
  • By analogy, the Republican agenda — divorced from reality, feedback, truth, consistency, sober leadership, and accountability and misled by their own denial, conspiracy theories, and propaganda — has been like “governing while intoxicated”. 
  • It’s as though Republicans have put the American people in a taxi with a drunk at the wheel — a whole series of conservative legislators, culminating in the worst of them, Donald Trump. Their deranged, drunk taxi drivers keep crashing the car, making it less and less drivable with each successive collision! That’s the effect on our economy of all those unnecessary deaths, unprecedented anywhere else in the world — even in past Republican presidents and legislative leaders. 
  • The development of technology has provided humanity with more power to do harm or good and more degrees of freedom, so we are experiencing a transition from a locomotive on a track to a car on a road or an airplane just taking off into the air. Unfamiliar with the change in scenario, conservatives and progressives have been struggling for control of the steering wheel, thinking that steering in only one direction is indicated and appropriate — but doing so will result in derailment to the right or to the left. 
  • These dynamics suggest that progressives intent on collective responsibility and conservatives obsessed with personal responsibility shouldn’t be competing for elected office, but instead should be manning governmental agencies associated with those operational functions. Instead of “dismantling the administrative state”, as Steve Bannon has advocated, the current generation of conservatives should find their major expression advising government within such a structure! Such is the politics of doing everything exactly wrong — one simple way to guess how to proceed from here is to do precisely the opposite of the Trump administration! 
  • Trump is drunk on power, to the extent that he deliberately pushes the envelope of the rule of law, exploiting a fabricated national emergency to try to exercise dictatorial powers (as, for example, his use of unmarked federal troops like storm troopers without permission of state and local authorities). 
  • The comparison between the Republican party’s collective irresponsibility and drunk driving is also apt in light of (1) the reemergence of trajectories in hydrodynamic quantum analogues, (2) the notion of derailment under wave function collapse, (3) comparison of Donald Trump to a spectacularly incompetent and roaring drunk taxi driver, (4) the analogy that Barack Obama gave about George W. Bush, that Republican administrations drive the country into a ditch, and so they shouldn’t get the keys again. 
  • The Republican agenda has thereby been orbiting destructive attractors likely to cause wave function collapse via derailment and quench. 
  • By closing off its agenda to urgent feedback from natural and societal networks through its antiabortion zealotry, the Republican party has chosen two successive leaders who will not admit mistakes or change course in the face of compelling evidence of profound error. 
  • Conservatives’ egregious double standards and tribalism have made them insensitive to the faults and failings of their own leadership and unable to reach consensus with the other side, even in times of pandemic crisis, when common interests should be evident and easy to appreciate. 
  • After the gains that conservatives made in local and state governments since the first Obama midterm election in 2010, conservatives imagined themselves in a position to sabotage the Democrat’s progressive agenda and steer their own course. 
  • Here’s a powerful new way to compare individual responsibility (like wearing a seat belt) to collective responsibility: drinking responsibly, driving responsibly, wearing face masks, and governing responsibly, voting responsibly, reporting the news responsibly. 
  • That’s be a powerful way to frame Americans’ responsibilities for voting in 2020 to get Donald Trump and his Republican enablers out of office and keeping them out of politics forever. The current generation of Republicans have done everything in their power to ensure they will henceforth be regarded as a hated minority. 
  • It’s up to never-Trump Republicans to salvage and rehabilitate the party of Lincoln by removing every vestige of the party of Trump. Fortunately, Trump did just one thing right, by showing how that should be done — the way he undid every action of Barack Obama should be the fate of virtually every decision he made in office. 
  • I should expand consideration of these topics of collective responsibility to other issues, e.g., equality of opportunity over population structure and long timescales to frame issues of racial discrimination and then also to planetary health, pollution control, environmental justice. 

Now let’s consider how the four-step cycle, past → present → future → irreversibility … → restart, plays out across all levels in human society, from our biochemistry that keeps us alive at the lowest level to our whole civilization to the entire future of all life to the kingdom of God at the highest levels. 

The basic structure can be recursively embedded within itself to any level of detail, like a fractal. However, we’ll only consider development through successive pairs of levels but then imagine how they extend from the lowest to the highest levels for which structural inheritance manifests. 

Also, as a matter of reliable civilizational design that prohibits a proliferation of fragmented possibilities, we’ll specify that there be only one irreversible step, at the highest level within our design ability. Thus, all intermediate steps must be three-step orbits, not four-step transformations. 

So, at the highest level, we have 4 triads, each corresponding to history | structure | change, i.e., òdt | Ñ2 | ¶/¶t: 

  • past:  set up capacities for orbital dynamics and transformative change

chemical affinities → memory | 

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs → structural inheritance relationships | 

power laws

  • present: 

minorities: protecting the weakest links | 

progressives: emphasizing collective responsibility, common interests, shared fate | 

conservatives: traditionally emphasizing individual responsibility and personal initiative, but morphing (in the wreckage of the Trump administration) into deep collective regret and emergence of awareness of humanity’s shared fate, which emulates the emergence of pain sensation

  • future: embryogenesis sets up the basis for human civilization to function like a multicellular organism — the body of Christ

roles for meso- || endo- || ecto- derm: set up traveling waves of chemical signals that catalyze somatic body segmentation, allowing substitution of time for structure (or vice versa) in the Schrödinger equation, and turning an intractable inhomogeneous partial differential equation into an easily-solved homogeneous ordinary differential equation

corollary: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is an abstraction of this kind of segmentation, which exists as a multilevel structure because of this alternating (structure-temporality) solution to Schrödinger’s equation — In other words, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is the abstract structural analogue of body segmentation! Wow-ward-ly!! 

mesoderm — fated to become the musculoskeletal system and visceral organs

endoderm — fated to become the gut

ectoderm — fated to become the nervous system and skin

Corollary: Friend#3’s languaging, which avoids labels and judgment: 

during embryogenesisafter some kind of “birth” event
“minorities” → effectors and balancers“progressives” → nourishers“conservatives” → sensors“minorities” → balancers and effectors“progressives” → nourishers“conservatives” → sensors and initiators

This is a framework for crafting an administrative state of expert advisors to nonpolitical (in the progressive-conservative partisan sense) elected officials. We should take George Washington’s ardent advice seriously, to remove partisanship from governance.

Obviously, every group needs every other or nothing can function in multicellular mode. Washington’s advice was prescient, anticipating a transition when American governance would function as a super-cooperative multicellular-like civilization. 

  • irreversibility: modified Lonergan cycle — an abstract basis for transformative dynamics emulating embryonic somatic segmentation and the postnatal Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Recall the basic structure: 

reconciling past | unfolding present | anticipating future | phase change

Here is how history is about to undergo a 2000-year cycle in the crucial inflection point of our era

— as a modified Lonergan loop: 

reconcilingthe pastdevelopingtechnology unfoldingthe present
need to learn how life works   
 Black Death Renaissance 
 Middle Ages Industrial/scientific revolutions 
 Trinitarianism World Wars
 Gospels Information age 
 origin of Christianity in Jesus’ time   
   need to merge 
phasechangetransformation science and spiritualityanticipatingthe future

In steady state orbits, …

… minorities | progressives | conservatives emphasize …

… protection of weakest links | collective responsibility | individual responsibility

Note that progressives and conservatives cannot establish functional orbits by themselves, even cooperatively: 

Their interaction would devolve to vicious competition. 

Minorities have more compelling needs on Maslow’s hierarchy. 

The triadic cycle establishes a basis for dynamic balancing and hydrodynamic quantum behavior. 

With minorities in the loop and proper behavior by progressives and conservatives, the system doesn’t derail, crash, or collapse. Its quantum states are intact and observable. It can build its functional capacities as it orbits and then steer toward desired transformational attractors. 

The implications of the critical role of minorities in this “perichoresis”, or “trinitarian dance”, are momentous — ours is the era when “The meek shall inherit the earth.” 

Note that dictatorships cannot undergo these changes: 

  • Neither dictators nor their captive subjects would be willing to exhibit sufficient self-sacrifice to prop up the dictatorship. 
  • People in a dictatorship are too close to survival needs to show much memory for the past or support for structural inheritances. 
  • The unicellular mode predominates, so a dictatorship functions like a bacterial pathogen, with no internal or external loyalties or commitments. 

On that basis, nations developing multicellular-like structures and functions have standing and measures for developing “antibiotics” against dictatorships: 

Make autocratic rulers personally accountable in civil courts to people and institutions harmed by capricious rule. 

Dictators’ defiance of democratic norms abrogates immunity that officeholders ordinarily have against personal lawsuits when functioning under color of official authority. 

When this generation of dictators is bankrupted by lawsuits for the harm they have caused, autocratic sociopaths will be discouraged from entering government “service”. 

Most corporations can’t pay for the harm they do, so dictators should be the starting point for developing fiduciary accountability for negative externalities — which we can anticipate will be an essential feature of a functioning civilization. 

I agree with fundamentalists that Trump won the 2016 election by divine intervention. God knows the evil in Donald Trump’s soul — the total lack of fear of God — so He put Trump in charge when humanity was confronted by a force of nature: the recurrence of the first deadly respiratory virus in a century. Fundamentalists should understand the concept of God’s wrath, of retribution for sinful behavior. The embryonic model of civilization predicts that conservatives, as the ectoderm fated to become the nervous system and skin, need to develop pain sensation at this critical transition. That development of pain will manifest as regret for having supported Trumpism and empathy for those whom Trump has injured with his capricious, autocratic rule. The adverse consequences of a pandemic are beyond human agency — although the effects of dictatorial rule can readily worsen them tremendously. We are seeing the current brand of conservatism forever linked with Trump’s efforts to impose dictatorship, by virtue of the path that fundamentalists and libertarians have doggedly taken for 50 to 100 years. 

There’s a secular, scientific way to understand this notion of “divine intervention”. Human civilization has gone too many times to the well of encroaching on fragile natural ecosystems, thereby tempting the inevitable emergence of zoonotic diseases once too often. Planetary dynamics have enormous information processing capability for finding humanity’s weaknesses, albeit at a very low level of coherency. What that means is that nature’s only defense against our encroachment — at least when we are so deaf to its feedback — is to generate deadly epidemics and threaten civilizational collapse. This is a teleonomic interpretation of God’s wrath — like the Old Testament lite for scientists! The next question is, which perspective has a better grasp of reality, or conversely, which flawed perspective has precipitated God’s wrath? 

Getting back to a teleological interpretation of God’s wrath, this novel coronavirus pandemic seems like divine intervention perfectly tailored to chastise fundamentalists while vindicating progressives and gently constraining their excesses. Beyond human agency, the need for social distancing has put the kibosh on the sexual revolution, curtailed the flow of abortions, and raised a generation on enforced separation. More importantly, God found a way to deal with the concerns of progressives — planetary health, climate change, environmental injustice — by stifling the human economy as it currently exists. Furthermore, from the standpoint of my theory of civilizational design and transformation, these new conditions will make it impossible for humanity to go back to the unicellular paradigm from which we came. Trump’s budget deficits have become crushing, and now to protect people enough to prevent the coronavirus from running rampant in homeless populations, we are forced to invest yet further in essential safety nets. The only way to build a workable economy will be to emulate life: to build a nurturant circulatory system and understand how power laws will allow constructive, accountable technological development. 

How would currency look in such a lifelike, multicellular economy? Definitely not for balancing budgets, which is a unicellular function! There are much bigger fish to fry and infinitely vaster forces to harness. Multicellular organisms have access to much more productive harvesters than conservation laws, ultimately using higher-level coherency to allow evolution of thought and coherence at yet ever-higher levels. I see a sequence of processes for orbiting a productive dynamic attractor, harvesting its benefits, and creating incentives that move the civilizational trajectory toward ever-new, ever-expanding vistas: 

  • past: evaluating and balancing tradeoffs
  • present: designing structures that engage power laws as sources of abundance
  • future: creating frictionless surfaces (e.g., extending coherence to ever-higher levels, e.g., as is familiar to economists at existing levels of commerce, by minimizing or even eliminating costs of search, barter, negotiation, etc.)
  • irreversibility: modifying financial incentives to guide human civilization along transformation paths

What comes next in the natural progression? Based on the embryogenic model of civilization passing this milestone in the unicellular-to-multicellular transition, I figure that the next task involves minorities, acting like the mesoderm, building a circulatory system that sustains everyone’s existence almost effortlessly and provides enormous room for growth. 

Instead, we see Trump getting tired of dealing with the pandemic, bored with his own minimal efforts and sacrifices to fulfill his duties to the country as its dynamics spiral out of control. He is still irrevocably committed to a completely unsustainable unicellular-mode economy, even as his own civilizational sins (see above) are fully exposed. Beyond human agency and Trump’s ability to spin, distort, or lie, God has revealed Donald Trump as the personification and enculturation of everything that humanity has been doing wrong. The Trump administration’s mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic resembles a process of squandering wealth and advantage to seek irrational goals — a specialty of Donald Trump throughout his career. He gets fixated on unreality without analyzing the true contours of existing challenges and rediverts huge resources in the wrong direction. We now can appreciate mathematically how that misdirected leadership looks in output phase space. Right now, Trump is so intent on opening the economy that he can’t appreciate that all the deaths and chronic injuries will impose such permanent economic harm through loss of talent, expertise, and vitality as to dwarf the temporary setback of a two-week nationwide lockdown. Trump is so obsessed with stock market numbers, thinking they will get him elected, that the infection and death counts mean virtually nothing to him. 

As Trump gets more and more obsessed with opening schools and the economy hoping irrationally to improve his reelection prospects, despite the risks and completely preventable human toll, everybody will see his craven callousness. And when the hyperexponential curve snaps, it will be easy to see the fundamental truth that the Republican party has devolved into moral bankruptcy, after having negligently ignored four years of Trump’s relentless assaults on democratic norms, the rule of law, and responsible governance. Impervious to evidence and snookered by their own propaganda, it seems the only message that fundamentalists and libertarians can process is burying their own dead. 

Future generations will see Trump’s last-gasp effort to salvage unicellular-mode operation for a plutocracy and dictatorship in the most cynical of terms. That cultural perception, beyond the capacities of human prediction or agency, will coalesce the determination needed to keep multicellular operation going, growing, and becoming more robust: 

  • The way Trump always delays and distracts the public, keeping everybody confused until it’s too late to stop him, relates to how parasites commandeer a host’s defenses. 
  • Trump developed those tactics as a grifter and mobster. He only needed to keep people off balance long enough to fleece them of their money. 
  • Think also about how these delays introduce phase errors in transfer functions that severely compromise the system’s defensive responses. 
  • Think also about how delays and distractions trigger derailment of system hydrodynamics to cause catastrophic collapse and prevent civilizational transformation. 
  • Trump has always tried to harness such collapses to gain business advantage over those with meager financial resources, but now having the power to use such encroachment against natural systems, the environment pushed back against him, in ways he was utterly unprepared to manage. He relied once too often on bankruptcy to bail himself out at the expense of the investors he hoodwinked — and this time, a novel coronavirus won’t let him off the hook! It’s poetic justice, after Trump dismantled the Environmental Protection Agency and has attempted to sideline the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the pandemic of the century, that the environment, in the form of a zoonosis he could have helped prevent, was what finally did Trump in when even impeachment could not! 

I predict that the negative example provided by Donald Trump, his administration, and the Republican party will serve as a warning to all future generations never to fall into any of those traps ever again. For example, libertarianism cannot be viable when technology gives humanity so much power — our only option for channeling all that power is good governance, not governmental nihilism, and our bodies, not past philosophies, show us the way to apply life’s lessons wisely. What libertarianism has shown us is the pitfall of anthropocentric thought that tries to bypass reality, only to subject humanity to the tyranny of unexplained downturn, confusion, compensatory clawing selfishness, susceptibility to demagogues and autocratic leaders, and ultimate collapse. 

And what we will learn as we explore multicellular structure is that higher-level dynamics are so much more productive than unicellular-mode operation that we must protect them at all costs. The only way an organism can enjoy the fruits of multicellular life and the potential inherent in its evolution to attain higher-level thought and coherence is to make the commitment to obligate multicellularity. Seeing how Trump’s rejection of civilizational multicellularity, life’s design, and the reality of planetary dynamics brought the wrath of God down upon us, we are left with a lot to think about the false narrative of unicellular mode as the source of any kind of true freedom. It only leads to collapse — true freedom requires the discipline of making higher-level coherence come into existence and then nurturing and sustaining it. 


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