Humans are, on the whole, not very good at math or maths depending on where you live.
Yes, there is the occasional math nerd who discovers something new and different and naming the resulting esoteric theory which will never find itself in 99.99999997% of conversations even when things are being discussed by math nerds. Conversation has to be created for them to discuss this theory!
For most of the species, numerical literacy ranks up there with befriending cockroaches, cleaning toilets, visiting in-laws, the secret joy of root canals, and deskunkifying your dog after he proves he’s more brave than smart.
For most of us we use only the numerical literacy necessary to stay employed. And even fewer of us think about numbers in a way where we can see their intrinsic value. We think about a million dollars, in a very loose, abstract way. Pretty much any number after a thousand becomes mostly symbolic in our heads, rarely representative of the actual value in comparison to anything we could actually measure with our hands.
After a certain point, we become innumerate. Numbers become abstract models in our minds nothing more. Given most of our natural inclination toward minimal numerical fluency, so much of our society vanishes beneath a tide of math we barely realize and is almost always poorly explained to us. From climate models to the stock exchange, most people are too numerically crippled to make any use of the facts in any way that matters.
But let’s put a value on the thing from which all other things should be valued against: The value of life.
If we were to try and derive how unique each Human is, we have to determine first, that most of the Human DNA is junk and has nothing to do with the intrinsic nature of being us. The genes which define the most important aspects of you can be broken down into an unit called an exome. The exome is the genetic distillation of humanity in its purest form. How many humans could be created before we could see another with the exact same genome?
“The universe of genes that are actually expressed in humans — called the exome — is comprised of about 30 million bases of DNA. Sequence changes in this DNA are more likely to lead to an actual change in the functioning of genes and their expressed products.
“One effort to quantify exome variability estimates that each human carries about 13,500 variants, and that perhaps 300 of these affect gene function. Again, you can multiply this number out by the number of persons now living (7 billion), or the number that have ever lived (108 billion) to get another very large number. But that is the lower limit. The number of possible combinations is 1 x 2 x 3 … x 300 = 3 x 10⁶¹⁴, a number that is so large as to be meaningless.”
This means every single life is so unique as to be beyond description.
We once equated humanity’s ability to be unique to be the same as having two snowflakes which appeared exactly alike. We can stop using that as a comparative model, because scientists have learned to make identical snowflakes.
Meet the scientist who makes identical snowflakes
The old adage "No two snowflakes are alike," is wrong. At least in the laboratory. So says a scientist at the…
It would appear every individual, unless printed at the exome-level using a technology far more precise than any technology we have created to date, every person, genetically, will ALWAYS be different than any other Human. This makes every individual life unique in the Universe (barring any such ideas of multiversal or parallel Universal similarities such as Star Trek’s Mirror Universe stories.)
In the vastness of the Universe, we have no proof of life anywhere but here.
Mathematically, it seems so reasonable to imagine life must exist somewhere other than Earth. There are, mathematically speaking, the potential for hundreds of millions of Earth-type planets exists. There are an estimated two trillion galaxies in our observable Universe.
But the math does not make the certainty, only the possibility. And we have no significant quantifiable evidence confirming it. (This means in the public knowledge at the time of this writing. I certify I do not know for certain IF alien life has been confirmed at this time.)
A trillion is 1,000,000,000,000, also know as 10 to the 12th power, or one million million. It’s such a large number it’s hard to get your head around it, so sometimes trillion just means “wow, a lot.”
What a strange mathematical awareness Humans have. We make the assumption that there are too many people on Earth means life ISN’T precious. Or that poor people existing is evidence of their inability to hack it living on Earth with all the privileged people. Or any other of other specious comments denoting a distancing of the privileged from anyone who isn’t.
This contempt for the value of life must stop. As a society we consider ourselves civilized, yet consider war, prison, poverty, disenfranchisement the natural order of things. The veneer of civilization balks at the actual sharing of the Human experience with anyone who is different from us.
We should gasp inwardly every time a Human life is lost, no matter where they are, no matter who they are. Each loss is an individual thing so unique as to make the stars seem commonplace by comparison.
Stars are not alive. (As far as we know…)
We make the assumption, there are surplus lives on Earth, and as such, we have no obligation to protect, enhance, guide or enhance lives outside of our immediate family groups.
No matter how culpable you may be in their suffering. In their decline. In their lack of resources. This is the part where math literacy and a bit of empathy might make it better for everyone if we strove for different things than we do today.
Don’t strive for billionaire-hood. We know, mathematically, for you to become a billionaire, you stepped on tens of thousands of people, undermining their lives with poor pay, worthless educations from school districts where your corporations didn’t pay taxes. Yes, you did. Admit it. It will just be between you and I and the thousands crushed beneath your boot heel.
Not just you, either. Every billionaire adds to the overall suffering. Millionaires, as well. Low quality of lives where other billionaires didn’t clean up after their toxic waste, don’t clean the output of their factories, don’t worry about the effects of their insecticide on beneficial insects or ten thousand other such irresponsible but financially beneficial behaviors. As the world dies under the economic cause of progress, these behaviors prepare the world for little more than becoming a barren wasteland.
I kid you not. No matter what perspective you take, if humanity continues on its current course of burning coal and fossil fuels, refusing to acknowledge we live in a closed environment, a lack of interest in protecting the seas, the air, the water, the land, our infrastructure, monitoring our lifestyles, taking stewardship of the Earth rather than wringing every economical unit we can from it, the Earth ends up a dessicated husk with piles of “economy” scattered across it in dead, overgrown cities where Humans once lived.
We will have engaged in economic suicide. Lots of finely crafted, mechanically produced goods, but nothing to eat, drink or breathe.
I find greed to be the only math where 1 > “many.”
If you want to be something other than a well-paid parasite, sucking the lifeblood from the future of our species, strive for utility. Strive for your business to be of value to people. Let it help people BEFORE it makes money for you to not spend and save until you can boast you are a millionaire.
Make less money, but know your taxes paid for schools, roads, bridges, mass transit and all the other things cities need but can’t get when millionaires step on the backs of the precious thousands, driving their health further into the red, depriving them of options, keeping them underpaid and little more than organic robots, living until their health gives out and can’t be fixed because they can’t afford it.
Such inhumanity should be shunned. If people were really aware of how often corporations engage in their immoral calculus of putting wealth before their concern for the people who make them rich, they might simply boycott everything until those companies went out of business and had to try again.
I am not advocating this, mind you, but I am beginning to suspect this may be the only way people ever get corporations to take them seriously. Stop going to work for a month. Let the ramifications of your disappearance remind corporations who matters.
The goal for businesses today needs to change from empowering the crazed and uber-wealthy and instead having their business be of service to humanity as a whole. Let no action you take not benefit all of humanity in a way that does not destroy the Earth and you will never be poor a day in your life.
Rather than letting people rest and recovery, our immoral calculus burns their lives, treats them as little more than kindling for the great bonfire of profit, the elite sit around and boast about how much kindling they made this year. How many lives were destroyed, how many families undermined, how many precious lives lost, downgraded, flushed into lives of desperation, degradation, without hope of ever knowing anything better.
Because being a millionaire should mean less than being a fine human being. If you were doing it right, it means reaching out and helping your fellows. Not just your other elite bloodsuckers who slowly strangle all of the life, creativity, and humanity from their workers.
Let your financial pyramid be based in the idea, your workers get one corner of the pyramid. Your investment team gets one corner, your society gets one corner and only after these groups have been fed should you as the intelligent, humane, aware of the value of human lives be paid in a proportion equal to that of your least paid workers on that final corner.
Let the pyramid be the value your idea brings to society, a thing by which we build society, a thing of true lasting value which does NOT secretly act as a means you can steal the information of your clients, and sell it to a mysterious third party exploiting this information to better tailor advertising in an effort to sell poorly made products to the most precious lives. (Yes, I’m talking to you Facebook.)
Build something by which society is improved, nay, transformed, a thing which builds a new way for humanity to relate to each other in a positive, necessary fashion.
To change what corporations do, we must change the math by which they see the world.
Corporations that don’t value Human lives, should get less business. Starving them into paying their workers more. Cruel? No more cruel than the same calculus they use to deny those workers their true value in the first place.
The power does not lie in their hands. The power lies in yours. Your two little hands. Math well within your capacity to understand.
The math we have forgotten, is to judge every life as precious, and work toward making the resources available so every life CAN be valuable, not just exploitable.
When the value of a single life is lost to exploitation, the ultimate returns are always lessened over time, until all the energy spent in the management of society ultimately returns nothing of value.
From value, value must be returned. We have emphasized money over value. We have lost sight of our individual Power.
The Individual Society: where the value of the individual is both at its highest and at its lowest, at the same time.
The trick is to figure out which value is important.
- Money matters more than morality. See any mega-church.
- Money matters more than ethics. See any government.
- Money matters more than culture. See any religion.
- Money matters more than peace. See any war.
Where is the value on the individual?
Where is the value placed on their achievement, their unlocking of potential, their apotheosis into a life of mind, body and spirit bringing value to society because they were valued by everyone in their lives, who felt valued where they worked, who felt valued when they bought what they needed, who felt valued when they shared time with each other.
Who realized the value:
- Isn’t money for money’s sake.
- It isn’t life for life sake.
- It isn’t religion because it defines us from them.
- It isn’t fear as a control vector.
If money, lifestyle, religion, for fear dominates any or all of how you live, you have less value.
You may be wealthy, but emotionally, culturally, socially impoverished. You would know this if you weren’t so concerned with being wealthy. If your things and your people weren’t indeed the same concept in your mind.
When you are in your right mind the words “Human Resources” disgusts you.
If forcing women to conceive life rather than giving them the choice is your preferred way of thinking, you are living through your religion, or your culture or your fears. Forcing anyone to do anything once they understand the consequences of their choices is wrong.
People must choose to participate in this great experiment called Society. Those who do not, cannot, whether they be rich or poor, they should be equally judged and punished according to a fair doctrine no matter their so-called wealth. (Which in a more fairly distributed society would not be a factor in their sentencing at any rate.)
Humans are poor at math. Our impoverished sense of mathematics has made the mistake of assuming a single human life is only as valuable as they can make themselves toward being exploited.
Each life is more precious than the rarest of jewels cut to perfection. Each life can cast infinite shadows upon the lives it touches, for good or ill. How good or ill depends entirely on what that Individual comes to understand is important.
We have confused priceless (a thing without price) to valueless (a thing without value).
All Humans have value. If this statement means nothing to you, you are the problem. The reason the world can’t get better. The reason things cannot be more equal.
All Human lives have equal value. No matter where they are. (And when we discover time travel, no matter when they are.)
If you are not able to understand this, you are the reason people live on super-fund sites. Why people work three jobs and don’t have healthcare. You’re the reason people are disenfranchised for the sake of money.
Yes, any disparity in society can be traced to money being traded for value. The value of Human lives.
Concerned about CTE? You should be, we are sending millions of children toward a date with this disease for the sake of making money from beer, car and Viagra ads.
No matter the harm, someone is enriched. We trade money for Human Value. And we have to stop. It’s already too late for billions of us. Restore the Value of lives and find a way to make it stick. Don’t let people convince you to live for less. To settle for less.
To accept a life less than you deserve.
You are Life. You are the recombinant matter of stray elements from the hearts of stars millions of years dead. You are the awakened stuff of those stars processed by billions of years of evolutionary forces, through millions of forms, across a hundred thousand ecosystems, across the face of our world, until after three hundred thousand years of homo sapiens has resulted in YOU. The unique merger of egg and sperm resulting in the magnificent specimen coupled to the potential of a species unlike anything this world has revealed thus far.
You are the most priceless thing in the Universe. Literally.
Snowflakes falling to the ground see you and are forced to recognize they are meeting one of the most unique things ever. Never forget this.
Fight for your value. Know your worth. Know thyself.
Bring Heaven to Earth, uplift your fellows.
Live to the true standard of your worth. No matter what anyone says. You can always be better, never let anyone stop you from achieving this.
You are more precious than anything in the Universe. Believe it. The math bears it out.
Thaddeus Howze is a writer, essayist, author and professional storyteller for mysterious beings who exist in non-Euclidean realms beyond our understanding.
As a prolific writer of speculative fiction, scientific, technical and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California, Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, ‘Hayward’s Reach’ (2011), a collection of short stories and ‘Broken Glass’ (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.
Thaddeus works as a writer and editor for two magazines, the Good Men Project, a social men’s magazine as well as for Krypton Radio, a sci-fi enthusiast media station and website. He is also a freelance journalist for Polygon.com and Panel & Frame magazine. Thaddeus is the co-founder of Futura Science Fiction Magazine and one of the founding members of the Afrosurreal Writers Workshop in Oakland.