We aren't bacteria. Narratives concerning the rise of artificial intelligence often compare the resulting systems with today's humans. "To the advanced potential of these self improving AIs," they say, "humans would be viewed the same way we view bacteria."* No! This is completely missing the point. Today, we can see the direct connection between bacteria and mankind. We can envision the genetic line that stretches back through time's rank depths. We can relate, however tenuously, with both our ancestors and fellow species. We know what it is to see, taste, touch. To move. We exist, defined by these conditions. We can say, "I am alive, like that cat, and that bat, and even in a way with the bee and the tree." Of course, of course, there must be exclusion. "That rock," you say, "That rock is not alive!" And it isn't.

It's Called a Phase Transition

You know, water to ice. "Plain old matter" to Life. We see our connection to ancient ancestors and the relationships between all living things. We don't see the same connection to the rock. The phase change is from one state to another with very different properties. So we say that grubs and shrubs are life, that mold and fungus grow. Rocks, and air, and copper, and hydrogen and everything else is acted upon.

We are not bacteria to these gods, we are not relatives even in that minor sense. We are the ground, less, a brief substrate.


*this is of course referring to ancient bacteria, or bacteria-like creatures, single celled organisms in general. The idea being that we regard these bacteria as both distant ancestors and modern examples of simple anachronisms, far less powerful than ourselves. Cells are, of course, enormously complex. Human technological manipulation of chemicals may be impressive, but biological systems currently far surpass us.

Who

Nov. 15th, 2011 11:01 pm
I don't like this person I become sometimes: At work, in official situations, in transactions. I detest the facade, but have come to love the game. Honesty always barbed. First thing is to find out what someone wants from you. Not in a material sense! Most people I meet want their expectations broken in small ways, providing novelty without threat. They are the simpler set, as almost any mild eccentricity will do. Rouse interest, then provide positive reinforcement and project confidence. The more rigid people don't want their expectations broken. With these, identifying what those expectations are and exceeding them according to their own internal standards works best. Overall, a genial and conscientious demeanor, hints of friendly subversiveness.

The best complaint I've had is rather ambiguous. "We... have no idea what to think about you." Of course, quite happy with that.

Why can't you just be yourself, be natural?

I am. Always. But what you're really asking of me is to be unaware of the processes driving behavior. Every interaction is calculated in some way, whether you're party to it or not. This truth makes people uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable. The facade is mandatory, freedom is forgetting.

I'm not that grim, not really. I enjoy... all this. Love it. Relish. Sometimes.

Because people can align, they can fit so perfectly with each other that their masks dissolve. Sublimity. For a moment, forever, through any sense, even the smoke signals of writing. Is that what I clumsily attempt to reach? Using all the wrong tools, chasing the unquantifiable with a calculator? It's ok. One good conversation is worth it.
Think about current events as if you were a future historian. Historians are observers of a special sort, removed in time from their observation. They do not take part in what occurs and have dissimilar cultural references. Values are assigned through pattern recognition(of course what else would you use).

Structural ruins describe the arc of civilization. As historians we look back on ruins and assign names, references, and actions in order to reconstruct them as virtual objects.

When our recent history is reconstructed, what might it look like?

If someone could wander through a reconstructed version of our present, what would they see?

do you?

May. 11th, 2011 02:00 am
Do you wash your earphones? Should you?

Imagine that you live inside a transparent bubble(problems of air supply and waste management magically solved). The material around you is very flexible, it conforms to any action you take. When you bend down to pick up a ball it forms a film around your fingers. The feel of textures is transposed through the membrane. So, the bubble is not necessarily spherical but takes whatever shape a situation requires. While inside you interact and sense the world but never contact it with your skin.

Now paint the bubble black. You are blind. Remove your senses of smell, hearing, taste. Fumble through a world composed of touch, Braille landscapes in a museum of even surfaces, rich layers of intensely detailed sensation.

The outer surface of the bubble becomes a camera, the inner surface becomes a screen. Microparticle detectors send readings to smell broadcasters which recreate scents. Microphones pick up audio and speakers inside immediately play it at perfect volume. For outward movements events are transposed similarly.

Trying to transpose food raises some interesting questions about boundaries, about what happens to artifacts that cross. The bubble has to behave somewhat like a black body in that signals passing in do not pass out. What is emitted is a re-creation of response, mediated, twice removed. So, a sandwich that passes into the bubble is destroyed as it is perfectly recorded. The record is passed inside the bubble and a sandwich is recreated to exact specifications. Or, grotesquely, the interface sits flush with your gullet, broadcasting food sensation and flavor, transposing nutrition and fabricating shit. Someone has to.

I suppose I'll wash my headphones, wipe them down at least.
We wander. Our hand reaches for a paper cup filled with coffee. Tired. Sepia people, nicotine stories, wrinkled suits for important days and those jeans, that sweatshirt, for everything else. Despair*, with its gaudy airs, is banal in practice. There is no romance in despair, no baroque liasons of substance or meaning. The theater's despair is an invocation to, if not enjoyment, at least a tenuous satisfaction for something. Despair presented as spectacle does not (is not intended to) induce despair but instead vicariously satiates a hunger for an extreme.

The experience of despair is a stranger. All choices become equally undesireable, all actions become meaningless. A person in despair no longer moves of their own accord, but is instead moved by the world. It is not necessary to be conscious to navigate our society: Think about what we call small talk. People pass premade phrases back and forth without thought or evaluation. The exchanges are not shallow from a functional standpoint! The intonation and body language are as intricate as any interaction, but what we think of as consciousness(point of view, discrete process, narrator, sequentialness) can be completely disengaged. Complex human behavior is not dependent on ego. Our world of countries, cultures, art, and technology could exist without a single conscious mind.


*this may need a different word
I'm writing about a world where all the boundaries that have not been erased are distorted. Thinking about the 'unreliable narrator' not as a deception but as a necessity. The blue man and the detective are the same character but not congruent... or maybe tangential. Tangential, I like that.

And to continue... I like how dw saves partial entries. Let them aggregate, stalagmites.

Linking functions that a browser provides inherently seems redundant. Placing a 'back' button on a page, for instance. The browser has a back button. I'm going to start making buttons that enable mouse cursors to move. Sure, they won't always work. But then again, no thing always does.

Beautifully well designed page


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