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Terracotta Army, Xi’an

Two years ago, Mark Carney, the then governor of the Bank of England warned that pervasive automation and AI are responsible for the current wage stagnation that is like that of the 19th century, which gave birth to communism.

“If you substitute platforms for textile mills, machine learning for steam engines, Twitter for the telegraph, you have exactly the same dynamics as existed 150 years ago when Karl Marx was scribbling The Communist Manifesto”, Carney said.

In reality, the disruptions and the dangers are much more serious now than 170 years ago. The new computer and robot technologies are replacing both brain and brawn and many jobs will disappear forever. Furthermore, the concentration of manufacturing in China has created a great scarcity of jobs elsewhere, which has become one driver of mass migration that is leading to conflict between groups that have very different views on life and reality. …


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Structures in the universe (Pixabay)

Friends have asked me for the layman’s explanation of my recent theory that physical space is e-dimensional (e = 2.71828…) (here’s the link to the paper: [1]).

They concede that it is a surprising new idea, and new physics, but how can physical dimensions be anything but 3? And the most troubling thing is that it is not even a rational number!

The answer is that three-dimensional view of physical space is a convention. We use this convention to mark points on Earth, but we can’t really check this easily at the cosmological level.

In the big bang model, the universe expanded from a singularity (initial state of extremely high density and high temperature) which explains the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, and together with gravity (whose origin is unknown but which is seen to work through either Newton’s or Einstein’s theory) it is consistent with the large-scale structure of the universe with its patterns of galaxies and matter on scales much larger than individual galaxies or groupings of galaxies. …


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Fisherman|China|Pixabay

Although China proclaims its desire to have good relations with its neighbors, it is aggressively pursuing unilateral action on the disputes regarding the border with India in the Himalayas, and control of the Paracel and the Spratly islands in the South China Sea. After constructing a string of artificial islands, it is building deep-water ports, military-grade airstrips and strategic infrastructure to the alarm of its neighbors and the United States.

China’s greatest trading partner is the US, so one would imagine that it will generally be sympathetic to the US position in international conflicts. But WikiLeaks shows that whereas China presents a façade of being reasonable and responsible in its actions, it is actively supporting American adversaries in various theaters. China has supplied nuclear and missile technology to Pakistan and North Korea. …


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Ayodhya/Ayush Srivastava/Unsplash

For a colonized people, winning political freedom is the easy part; it is much harder to set the mind free.

India’s experience of the British Raj was disastrous in terms of material prosperity. Economists estimate that British occupation cost India $45 trillion dollars of wealth and the destruction of native industry and education systems.

But most of all, the British foisted false narratives of history on India. If you ask me why the minds of many Indians remain colonized, this is it.

The American historian John Henrik Clarke said: “To control a people you must first control what they think about themselves and how they regard their history and culture. And when your conqueror makes you ashamed of your culture and your history, he needs no prison walls and no chains to hold you.” …


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Sand dunes in Taklamakan Desert near Khotan

How do people forget their past? By deliberate suppression going beyond destruction of religious or artistic images; genocide of people and their expulsion, as in the case of the Yazidis in Iraq and Turkey and the Pandits in Kashmir; or it could be people switching to a new language of prestige and then slowly become separated from their history.

The Tarim Basin in Xinjiang was Kashmir’s twin but it has forgotten its past, and so have we.

The entire region was a part of the Sanskritic world for centuries. It was called Uttarakuru (perhaps the origin of the word Uyghur) in Indian texts and its languages included Indian Prakrits like Gandhari that has some similarities with Kashmiri, Sanskrit, and Khotanese Saka, which itself has much Sanskritic vocabulary. We have attestation of the name Uttarakuru in local accounts. For example a Tocharian B text from Kucha speaks of Uttarakuraṣṣe = Uttarakuruvāsī उत्तरकुरुवासी. …


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Pixabay

Indians are successful the world over, literally in all fields. So people ask, why is it that they have not done equally well within their own country?

The critics recognize that India is making progress and the GDP in nominal terms has reached number five in the world, but they say that this rise is driven mainly by the very size of Indian population. India has many individuals who have made noteworthy contributions, but as nation, collectively, it hasn’t done as well.

As comparison, they mention China and South Korea, both of which, seventy years ago, were behind India in industry, technology, and education, and now they are far ahead. …


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A Varanasi Temple Image/ Pixabay

Congratulations to the Class of 2020. This is the time to cast a quick look at what has happened and where we are going.

First, it is clear that we live in a time of unprecedented change.

I am not even talking of the coronavirus and the lockdowns, disruptive though they are and they have messed our plans in so many different ways.

To put this pandemic in perspective, more serious influenza pandemics swept over the world post-Second World War in 1957 and 1968 in each of which a million people died, and nobody remembers them. …


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Pixabay

The word yoga means union and scholars define it as the union of the mind and the Self (ātman). Assuming it is a fair definition, we need to know what the words mind and Self mean before we can understand how a union of the two may take place.

The difference between the mind and the Self is rather subtle. The mind is the cognitions associated with judgement, language and memory which are mutually intertwined and underpinned by ego, whereas the Self is pure awareness that is not colored by prior experience or emotional attachment to one’s personhood.

The mind is the instrument that, energized by the ego, assumes that it is the real individual. In reality, there are many minds that show up in different situations, and each one of them is a secondary presence, just like the moon that reflects the light of the sun and waxes and wanes. The Self is the inner sun (gold), whereas the mind is the moon (silver). The dialogue of the Bhagavad Gītā (a central text of Yoga) is between Krishna as the sun and the Witness and Arjuna (the name means silver) who represents everyperson’s mind. …


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Pixabay

The earth is smaller than a speck of dust in the cosmos, so what do our lives mean? And while our senses guide us, how much can we trust them?

The first big problem is that of the body, our own and that of the physical universe. And what lies beyond the solar system and the stars?

The second big problem is that of change. Everything is in flux, so the images we form of ourselves and that of the universe can best be a snapshot, a frozen moment of time? The mystery of time.

And then this: The brain is pitch dark. There is no light in it even when we look at things. There is no evidence for the naïve idea that somehow the image impinging on the retina is projected at the back of the head. …


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Hampi

Imagine this: While traveling through a foreign land, you find an announcement of a public lecture about your country at your hotel. Being free that afternoon and feeling nostalgic for home, you and your spouse go to the lecture and discover that while the speaker knows the broad elements of the history of your country, his understanding is so shallow that it borders on nonsense.

What can you do? You can’t just say, “Excuse me, but you have it all wrong.” No, because you’re in a foreign country, and your spouse will never forgive you for creating a commotion. Not wanting to be rude or be accused of grandstanding for attention, you hold your tongue and walk out at the first opportunity. …

About

Subhash Kak

सुभाष काक. Author, scientist.

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