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The Corporal Brain

The Corporal Brain

Hello and good day!

My great Aunt Opal lived to be 97 years old. She was born in 1898 and she passed in 1995. From the year 1942 until her death, she lived in a house built by her second husband, Walt.

Opal's first husband abandoned her. Walt was the love of her life, but he died young of cancer in 1950. She remarried a third fellow named Bob Whitefoot in 1955. Bob passed in 1978 and Opal kept on living.

Around age 93, Opal stopped going down the driveway to get her own mail. he driveway out to the road was too long for her to traverse using her walker. A neighborhood boy named Timmy brought in the mail for her every day after coming home from school.

Starting at age 91 and continuing on through age 95, my Aunt Opal wrote me a letter every two weeks telling me about our family history. She didn't send me the letters. Rather, she kept them in a book which she left for me after she passed away. I have the book sitting here on my desk and I read a letter every morning.

It's akin to holy scripture for me. The book of Opal.

If I can live a life as good as Aunt Opal's, I'll consider my time on this earth to have been an unqualified success. She had a plain-spoken way of writing, and every entry is written in neat cursive, although the writing becomes a little squiggly towards the end of the book.

Her mind was good and sharp until her final days. It was her body that gave out on her, not her mind. At age 97, she fell out of bed and broke her hip. Her body failed and she passed.

We got into the business of buying and processing cacao in 2008, 13 years after Aunt Opal died. We found out early that much of cacao processing requires hard, physical labor. A good strong body is needed. Certain bodily motions must be learned and mastered. Swing a machete wrong and you'll ruin the cacao seeds inside the pod. Eyes learn to spot rotten or germinating beans. Fingers pluck the bad cacao out of a batch. Hot sun blares on your skin. Mosquitos bite your legs and ankles and feet.

It's sweltering and humid in the northern Peruvian jungle, and you wear shorts and sandals most of the time. Acidic fumes from fermenting cacao vaporize in your nose and burn your sinuses. Shoulders carry sack after sack of exportable cacao from the warehouse to a truck. The sacks weigh a hundred and ten pounds each.

My brother Brian  has had corrective surgery on both of his shoulders. Even so, his shoulders are so thoroughly shot from carrying cacao, that now he needs stem cell treatment to boot.

You learn how to crouch down and swing up a bag perfectly so that you don't pull your back muscles. Riding motorcycles down muddy roads is a particular skill. There is a specific balance to it and a certain mode of decision making. You need to know what your body is capable of in relation to the terrain you are facing.

I am barely scratching the surface of the necessary physicality in cacao harvesting, processing, and chocolate making.

I listened to the most fascinating interview a few days ago. The featured guest was a leading neuroscientist. He was asked about artificial intelligence and what would happen as computers become vastly more intelligent than human beings.

He offered a unique perspective. He explained that there are inherent qualitative differences between the ways a computer and a human being can be intelligent.

Note the word qualitative.

A computer can process tremendous amounts of certain types of information. But it can't process even a single byte of other types. The scientist described how the human body is purpose built to operate in the physical world on planet earth.

Our brain is connected to every single cell in our body. It receives information internally from internal organs, and externally from sensory organs. The brain is connected to a central nervous system. Chemicals are secreted in our bodies based on our interactions with the environment and these chemicals influence our perception and behavior.

The professor called it a fallacy to think that humans are nothing more than a brain, and that our body is nothing more than a vehicle used for carrying our brain around in. In that were true, humans would have no chance against computers. If it is nothing more than brain against brain, we probably lose the battle.

However, our intelligence is not entirely brain based. Rather, our intelligence is generated from an agglomeration of all that we are. Intelligence is the result of our entire body working in unison. A person's brain can be sharp, but if their body fails, they die. Neural networks, the engineering structure used to produce artificial intelligence, are completely void of corporal data.

Unless somebody can figure out how to build data models of functioning human bodies that account for the diverse biochemistry that you find in each individual human being, artificial intelligence will never be able to exactly match or exceed human intelligence.

The neuroscientist mentioned that humans are yet to produce anything approximating a self-reproducing system that doesn't require external intervention. For this reason, he found it extremely unlikely that a virtual body could be built to accompany neural networks.

The conclusion, according to the neuroscientist, is that human beings very likely have a distinct and insuperable advantage over computers in the real world. We lose our advantages when we disregard our bodies and interact primarily with digital inputs.

A good strong healthy body, a healthy well-maintained brain, and living primarily in an environment in which all of your sense organs, including your skin, are engaged, is the antidote to fears over artificial intelligence.

Of course, chocolate exists in the real world and can engage many of your sense organs all at once (shameless plug, I know). More and more studies are linking cacao consumption with longevity. The number one killer in the United States is heart disease and cacao is a very potent heart healthy food.

To conclude, I hope that you will get out into the world today, if you can, and exercise your natural technological advantages.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!