April 1, 2021

Posted by orrinj at 11:40 AM


Here's how much money Americans in their 40s have in their 401(k) accounts (Nadine El-Bawab, 4/01/21, CNBC)

To help you know if you're on track, retirement-plan provider Fidelity set benchmarks for how much you should have saved at every age. By 40, Fidelity recommends having three times your salary put away.

If you earn $50,000 a year, you should aim to have $150,000 in retirement savings by the time you are 40. If your annual salary is $100,000 a year, you should aim to have $300,000 saved.

The average 401(k) balance for Americans between the ages of 40 and 49 is $120,800 as of the fourth quarter of 2020, according to data from Fidelity's retirement platform.

Americans in this age group contribute an average of 8.9% of their salaries.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Confirmed! We Live in a Simulation (Fouad Khan, April 1, 2021, Scientific American)

Space is to our universe what numbers are to the simulated reality in any computer. Matter moving through space can simply be seen as operations happening on the variable space. If matter is moving at say 1,000 miles per second, then 1,000 miles worth of space is being transformed by a function, or operated upon every second. If there were some hardware running the simulation called "space" of which matter, energy, you, me, everything is a part, then one telltale sign of the artifact of the hardware within the simulated reality "space" would be a maximum limit on the container size for space on which one operation can be performed. Such a limit would appear in our universe as a maximum speed.

This maximum speed is the speed of light. We don't know what hardware is running the simulation of our universe or what properties it has, but one thing we can say now is that the memory container size for the variable space would be about 300,000 kilometers if the processor performed one operation per second.

This helps us arrive at an interesting observation about the nature of space in our universe. If we are in a simulation, as it appears, then space is an abstract property written in code. It is not real. It is analogous to the numbers seven million and one in our example, just different abstract representations on the same size memory block. Up, down, forward, backward, 10 miles, a million miles, these are just symbols. The speed of anything moving through space (and therefore changing space or performing an operation on space) represents the extent of the causal impact of any operation on the variable "space." This causal impact cannot extend beyond about 300,000 km given the universe computer performs one operation per second.

We can see now that the speed of light meets all the criteria of a hardware artifact identified in our observation of our own computer builds. It remains the same irrespective of observer (simulated) speed, it is observed as a maximum limit, it is unexplainable by the physics of the universe, and it is absolute. The speed of light is a hardware artifact showing we live in a simulated universe.

But this is not the only indication that we live in a simulation. Perhaps the most pertinent indication has been hiding right in front of our eyes. Or rather behind them. To understand what this critical indication is, we need to go back to our empirical study of simulations we know of. Imagine a character in a role-playing game (RPG), say a Sim or the player character in Grand Theft Auto. The algorithm that represents the character and the algorithm that represents the game environment in which the character operates are intertwined at many levels. But even if we assume that the character and the environment are separate, the character does not need a visual projection of its point of view in order to interact with the environment.

The algorithms take into account some of the environmental variables and some of the character's state variables to project and determine the behavior of both the environment and the character. The visual projection or what we see on the screen is for our benefit. It is a subjective projection of some of the variables within the program so that we can experience the sensation of being in the game. The audiovisual projection of the game is an integrated subjective interface for the benefit of us, essentially someone controlling the simulation. The integrated subjective interface has no other reason to exist except to serve us. A similar thought experiment can be run with movies. Movies often go into the point of view of characters and try to show us things from their perspective. Whether or not a particular movie scene does that or not, what's projected on the screen and the speakers--the integrated experience of the film--has no purpose for the characters in the film. It is entirely for our benefit.

Pretty much since the dawn of philosophy we have been asking the question: Why do we need consciousness? What purpose does it serve? Well, the purpose is easy to extrapolate once we concede the simulation hypothesis. Consciousness is an integrated (combining five senses) subjective interface between the self and the rest of the universe. The only reasonable explanation for its existence is that it is there to be an "experience." That's its primary raison d'ĂȘtre. Parts of it may or may not provide any kind of evolutionary advantage or other utility. But the sum total of it exists as an experience and hence must have the primary function of being an experience. An experience by itself as a whole is too energy-expensive and information-restrictive to have evolved as an evolutionary advantage. The simplest explanation for the existence of an experience or qualia is that it exists for the purpose of being an experience.

There is nothing in philosophy or science, no postulates, theories or laws, that would predict the emergence of this experience we call consciousness. Natural laws do not call for its existence, and it certainly does not seem to offer us any evolutionary advantages. There can only be two explanations for its existence. First is that there are evolutionary forces at work that we don't know of or haven't theorized yet that select for the emergence of the experience called consciousness. The second is that the experience is a function we serve, a product that we create, an experience we generate as human beings. Who do we create this product for? How do they receive the output of the qualia generating algorithms that we are? We don't know. But one thing's for sure, we do create it. We know it exists. That's the only thing we can be certain about. And that we don't have a dominant theory to explain why we need it.

So here we are generating this product called consciousness that we apparently don't have a use for, that is an experience and hence must serve as an experience. The only logical next step is to surmise that this product serves someone else.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The Erection of a Placebo: When yesterday's placebo is tomorrow's treatment (NeuroskepticMarch 29, 2021, Discover)

MED3000 originated from Futura's efforts to treat ED with glyceryl trinitrate (nitroglycerin). Nitroglycerin is known to affect blood flow. The company created a nitroglycerin gel and called it MED2005, and carried out a randomized controlled trial comparing MED2005 to a placebo gel, which was identical except that it didn't contain any nitroglycerin.

The results of the first nitroglycerin trial were published in 2018. MED2005 performed slightly better than the placebo gel, but the difference was fairly small.

Futura ran a second trial of MED2005 vs. placebo gel. This study has not been published yet as far as I know, but Futura have revealed some of the results.

In the second trial, nitroglycerin MED2005 "did not achieve a difference" compared to placebo on the primary outcome measures. But both groups showed strong improvement in erectile function - even the patients on placebo. Boldly, Futura decided to turn the former placebo gel into a product in its own right, calling it MED3000.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Immigrants do not steal our jobs, they create them in the economy (STEPHEN MOORE AND DAVID SIMON, 03/30/21, The Hill)

Decades of comprehensive economic analyses show that immigrants improve the U.S. economy and raise Americans' incomes. They reduce unemployment and have little to no negative effect on the wages of native-born American workers. Skilled immigrants particularly benefit the U.S. economy; they raise wages for native-born American workers.

Let's not forget that there are today some 6 million jobs unfilled because of a lack of skills or because some service and agriculture jobs have almost always been filled by immigrants. If you don't believe this, go back into the kitchen of any restaurant or see the folks working in the fields picking crops and tending our farms.

On the high end of the skills spectrum, there is almost no debate that immigrant talent contributes to our global leadership. In September 2016, the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine issued a "comprehensive assessment" of the impact of immigrants on the U.S. economy. Its study found that immigrants increase long-term U.S. economic growth. They help the economy avoid the stagnation plaguing many other major economies caused by aging workforces; they boost "innovation, entrepreneurship, and technological change." They increase the number of patents, not just in total but per person. And they raise worker productivity.

This finding is not new. Research in the 1980s and 1990s by the late economist Julian Simon reached the same conclusion: Immigrants benefit the U.S. economy and raise the incomes of native-born Americans. That research confirmed what we can see with our own daily experiences: Immigrants work more, save more and start more businesses per person than native-born Americans.

Some studies even find that immigrants reduce unemployment. In May 2018, economist Madeline Zavodny, formerly of the Federal Reserve and now at the University of North Florida, reported that U.S. states with more immigrants generally have lower -- not higher -- unemployment rates. "Having more immigrants reduces the unemployment rate and raises the labor force participation rate of U.S. natives within the same sex and education group," she said. More immigrants improve local economies, which means more jobs -- and more money -- for native-born American workers.

Hmmmmm...what other reason could old white men have for not wanting immigrants as fellow Americans?