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Thoughts for the End of the Century; The...
JoshMD
 April 26 2024 at 05:21 pm
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If there is anything at all to be said about our time, it is chiefly that we are living through an age of hyper connectivity. Everything, for the connivence of rapid data collection and analyzation has been made connected, linked in impossible ways that could have never been imagined just twenty five years before. An example that one can offer to explain such a phenomena is simply the way our search engines have been designed to provide information based on existing biases, or produce advertising for what an algorithm thinks we may like to purchase next. People too, have become hyperlinked to one another through social media platforms, and in some cases people’s online bios are becoming treated as spitting images of who they are in reality-And now we live in such a time that grants anyone who has access to any given platform, a window, so anyone who wants to, can watch whole swaths of people display their personal lives online. It should be dually noted too, that because of the internet and smart devices the whole world rests at each of our finger tips, but this is a completely new reality for the average person. Kids now grow up in a world that allows them to witness material and subjects that otherwise would have been impossible to see, or had to be sought out and learned by way of personal experience. This is all to say, that there is so much information available all the time, that any one person or organization can become easily overwhelmed by the ocean of information stirring around us, as most of us have. If we consider this massive influx of information as paralyzing or frightening, it is truly no wonder how or why a sort of hysterical polarization would begin to emerge as a consequence of overwhelming information. Throughout the past twenty five years we have been left with so much uncertainty about the nature of this modern world, that most people have began to clamor for that of leaders, ruling forces, and more recently, emerging thinkers that have created these new platforms to help explain all the complexities of this new online world. And after all, when unerring complexity stares people in the face, it is no wonder that they would feel forced to clamp down on a one size fits all way to explain their existence, as well as the existence of everyone and everything changing around them. But, as a consequence of locking down on one narrow way of perceiving the world (for the purpose of yearned for simplicity), an over abundance of general categorizations have been made, and made the genuine exchange of dialogue to broach such issues near impossible, thus creating a majority of people who have been molded to think like AI, who decide that they already know what is to be expected in certain situations from the beginning, instead of allowing for open discovery. The loss of meaning, along with the mass feeling of hopelessness has followed, for most do not consider themselves individuals capable of experiencing new forms of participation in the world anymore. Instead, we have become our thoughts, a number in a category of like minded thinkers with odd quirks that serve to make us feel different. This way of thinking about one’s self has confined a great many and keeps them from experiencing new ways of thinking, and subsequently, prevents them from finding a new avenue to embodied experience, with the added disadvantage that if someone considers themselves irrelevant and unable to transcend their current identity or situation, then the individual will experience the increasing feeling of worthlessness. It should be stated too, over-generalizations certainly serve to separate and divide us, but it is not this tendency alone that has produced terrible amounts of isolation. The mere existence of a phone, that can hold a thousand contacts at a time has served as the beginning hyperlink for personal communications, but also has dealt a massive blow upon that of the modern psyche. In a world where you can be connected to everyone; Anyone who does not have a single person to contact, (call, text, etc) will ultimately fall into a state of abnormal isolation, for the mere potential of interaction rests right in front of their face, yet they still have none. So it is precisely the interplay of these two, hyper connectivity, and no connection at all, with the added problems of being hyper connected in ways that we cannot fully understand, or have much control over, that severely damages the harmony between an individuals personal navigation through life, and a healthy approach towards broader society. To conclude, over the course of the past twenty five years a technological rift has been opened that separates people from others in this extremely complex way, leaving the door open for anyone, including companies, to create more technology that fills the gaps and succeeds in making us more connected in the ways that are, and always have been necessary for human flourishing, because if we lack human connections as the majority of us have, then something will take their place to fill the void. The question that then becomes is: Do we need technology to continue to do that for us? ie, Connect and guide us by aiding our personal endeavors and adjusting our perspectives? Or, can humanity mature enough to the point that we can create better connected and organic relationships that will lead us into The Future on our own?
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Thoughts for the End of the Century: The 21st...
GregB
 April 28 2024 at 08:34 pm
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In The Iliad, the classic epic poem from ancient Greece, there is a scene in which the Hephestus, the Greek god of the forge, gives the hero Achilles a new shield. This shield is marvelously wrought in a practical sense—it is a weapon made by a god, after all, and given to the world’s greatest warrior—but it is also highly symbolic. Hephestus decorated this shield with beautiful pictures of both the wonders of the natural world and scenes dramatizing the virtues that defined Greece. Imagine, then, that Hephestus creates a shield displaying the defining elements of humanity at the end of the 21st century. I find it fitting to speculate what this might look like, in part because Hephestus, while a god, was both lame and famously ugly, and that is our starting point for this exercise of imagination: humanity has reached a point of god-like ability, but also a point of crippling ugliness. Since Hephestus created five layers or region to his shield, I will limit myself to five layers for our 21st Century Shield: heat, mind, distance, motion, and pain. Heat: Anthropogenic climate change is the outer ring of the shield. It surrounds and informs everything else throughout this century. Humanity will eventually address climate change, but we will address it unevenly. It is a challenge in itself, and it will work, as it already is working, as a force multiplier for other factors. Climate change will make economies less stable, weather more chaotic and damaging. It will make the entire world less earth-like. We’ll become aliens on our own planet, and we’ll learn terraforming by retrofitting the earth. Because climate change crosses national boundaries, so will responses need to. This will mean global political upheaval. Pain: Humanity will deal with climate change, but we will only act on a large scale after a sufficiently painful loss. We’ll hem and haw, and cling to vested interests, until major and multifaceted disasters happen. Some of these will simply be sad: Spring Break won’t happen on Florida beaches once rising oceans carry those beaches away. No more Girls Gone Wild, woo hoo. Others will be great historical losses. The Basilica San Marco is the heart of Venice, and, after the canals, is its most photographed site. The sea will swallow the 8000 square meters of mosaic that cover its walls. The canals will be just the deepest section of the ocean there. We’ll act, but only after losses. Substantial losses. Mind: AI will continue to explode. This will help us fight climate change, supercharge innovation, and transform the economy beyond imagination. In places where the physical world has become less pleasant, humans will put themselves into a version of the matrix. People will go days without interacting with a biological human, and will take miracles for granted. There will be little or no distinction between what we now call reality and what we call virtual reality. Augmented reality (AR) will be the norm, not the gimmicky exception. We won’t have lost the world to the singularity, not yet, not quite, but we’ll be swimming in more ideas, representations, and projections than we can count. Motion: In 2100, our world will be a world of motion, and a world in motion, and this motion will reach beyond the atmosphere. There will be colonies on Mars, manned missions to Jupiter, and regular trade between earth and the moon. Drones and fast trains will be common, as will countless more exotic forms of mobility, like solar-powered dirigibles, and casual submarines. But walking will be most common, as the poor everywhere try to flee climate crises. Distance: The literal distances that will define humanity have already been mentioned: humans will live on other planets, and for years in artificial habitats. But other distances will also define this time: social distance, symbolic distance, and emotional distance. The hollowing out of the middle class that defined the late twentieth century will continue, so that the Gilded Age of Carnegie and Rockefeller will seem like an egalitarian paradise. The rich will build walls to keep back the sea, and have houses in different climates, all of which are protected from the angry elements. The poor will lose their homes, over and over, until a major portion of humanity is a wandering, rootless underclass. Some will capitalize on this. They’ll go into the abandoned equatorial regions, braving the heat to scavenge, and wearing cameras for their moneyed watchers. Lifespans for the poor will plummet to pre-industrial ranges, while the rich will expect 100+ years as their due. THE END
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Thoughts for the end of the century - the path...
CraigJames
 April 15 2024 at 03:03 am
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Once upon a time, is how great stories begin. You heard this one, many years ago. Rest awhile and I will remind you of the path of the hearth fire. The hearth fire is the place where great stories are told and heard. Grandparents and the very young ones get to sit closest to the fire because that is fair and proper and that is where they were when the first heard about the path of the hearth fire. You remember Pythagoras. He was a school teacher. He learned at the hearth fire, back in the day. He also saw that three joined lines could make a triangle and the triangle was a thing of divine beauty. Socrates sat the feet of Pythagoras and learned of that divine beauty while looking into the blazing warmth of that hearth fire. Plato sat as the feet of Socrates and the blazing hearth fire warmed them on their coldest and darkest nights. Aristotle sat at the feet of Socrates and saw, in the blazing fire, the coarse wood transmogrify to the brightest light. And Aristotle felt his soul in that light. Aristotle watched the blazing light of the hearth fire warm the souls around him. Aristotle watched how each and every soul around the hearth fire glowed warmly from the blazing light. The old souls, the tiny souls, the black, brown, white and yellow souls, all warmed by the hearth fire. Later on, when declarations and constitutions were being written around the world, Aristotle’s astute and kindly observations about all souls informed the words of those writing founders. From time to time, sitting regally close to the hearth fire, were beautiful women from the town of Delphi. The women were the Oracle. The Oracle learned about souls from Aristotle and prophesised about every aspect of civic life. The counsel of the Oracle was valued so highly that no important decision was ever made without her. The declarations and the constitutions recognised that each and every soul was divine and that in the same way that the coarse and often gnarled logs would turn to useful blazing warmth and light and to fine ashes and dust, so too all souls would transform around the hearth fire. Today the hearth fire is still blazing. Come and sit with me and I will show you where Pythagoras was when he studied the triangle and where Aristotle was when he saw all the souls. You get to sit at the hearth for only a short time but you get to sit right where those great ones sat. The light of the hearth fire is a great place to study the wise ones. Learn about the divine beauty of geometry and see that divine beauty in all souls around you. Be inspired by the great ones and the wise ones. They have spent more time around the hearth fire than you. Gather your own wood to put on the hearth fire so that you can warm the young ones and the old ones, the black, brown, white and yellow ones. Every time the hearth fire was blazing, the wise ones spoke about the Tree of Life. Have you seen the way the tail of a horse is plaited ? There are three strands and they fold over each other. The Tree of Life is like that. It’s a very old Tree that has three branches. Learn about that Tree of Life because the wise ones have stored their knowledge there. Learn about the branches on that Tree of Life. There is a left branch and a right branch and a middle branch. Uncle Jordan speaks of chaos and order. The Tree uses the words mercy and severity to describe the same realms. Uncle Iain McGilchrist speaks of the Master and the Emissary. Uncle Iain speaks of your corpus callosum. Learn about that. It is the middle branch. The Tree of Life calls the middle one Equilibrium. It is between the left and the right. The wise ones at the hearth fire speak of walking the path of the hearth fire. The path is the middle branch. A bit like Goldilock’s porridge. Not too hot and not too cold. Not too much Mercy and not too much Severity. Not too much chaos and not too much order. Not too much Emissary and not too much Master. Not too much of the left and not too much of the right. The wise ones say that the Tree of Life is inside of you and inside of your head and all around you and above you and below you. Learn from the wise ones how the left and the right and the middle branches need each other and have always needed each other and will always need each other. For ever and ever.
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'Thoughts For The End of The Century'
PapaP
 April 28 2024 at 06:25 am
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Digital Versus Analog Thinking: Has Technology Influenced How We Think? A wise old bard once penned, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” What causes us to think the way we do and determine if something or someone is good or bad? Is there something in the space between good or bad? Has living in the digital era influenced the way we structure and process our thoughts and our capacity to fully assess something? Man has always seemed to compare himself to the latest and greatest technology of his era, especially his brain and how it works. I believe over the ages we have compared our brains to an abacus, an adding machine, a calculator, and a computer. Even though nothing man has ever created comes close to replicating the magnificent complexity of the human brain, the machine comparisons and references are constant. If I recall my college electronics class correctly, a digital waveform signal is like an upside down squared capital U. The signal is either on or off, one or zero – nothing in the space between the extremes. Binary. Conversely, an analog waveform signal is like a rising and falling curve that essentially covers 360 degrees before it repeats it’s pattern - flowing fully through space and time. Because of the on or off nature of the digital waveform, a parallel can be made to the flight or fight fear-driven reactive thinking that is associated with our reptilian brain. If a person is in the digital fear/survival mode of thinking, it is highly likely that they will only be capable of considering two choices. And of those two choices, they will select the option that appears to provide them with the highest degree of safety, fulfilling their survival mode program. Now this may have been helpful if not downright essential a million years ago when a saber tooth tiger wandered into the village and the tribe headed for the hills. But is this ancient programming still effective when our fear and survival mode is triggered by the latest headline screaming, “This is the End of the World as we Know it?” Should we all follow the tribe as it goes running to the hills? Do we know where the edge of the cliffs are? In contrast, analog waveform thinking can be compared to the way the prefrontal cortex processes information. We take in the details of our current situation, compare it to our past experiences and relevant knowledge, and then put our plan into action. Like the analog waveform that completes a 360 degree pattern, we also go ‘full circle’ with our thinking process. We can consider a multitude of perspectives, even collaborating with others to share and leverage their knowledge and experience. We can also engage our imagination, creating potential solutions that could be of maximum benefit for all involved. I believe the majority of behavioral psychologists agree that fear shuts off our analog/prefrontal cortex thinking ability. This makes it extremely difficult if not impossible to use our logic and creativity to see the big picture and consider more than one or two safety-driven options. If one reflects on past and current events over the last four years, what kind of thinking seems to have been most prevalent in our leaders and many members of society? What kinds of discussions have we seen in social media? What kind of verbal exchanges have we had with our family and friends? Are they digital or analog? Do we see polarized/ binary type discussions? Or do we see analog, full circle discussions with many degrees of perspective and context? Albert Einstein once wrote, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” What kind of thinking do you think you would benefit from the most? Have you thought about it?
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Thoughts For the End of the Century: Tabletop...
Araneae
 April 28 2024 at 07:01 pm
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A glittering, stainless steel future, free of disease and hunger, with technology one could only dream of: this is the future envisioned by the media of past generations. But for many creatives of this decade, the advent of AI which can create (or imitate) art presents a dystopian future of algorithmically generated entertainment, infinite and soulless, commodifying the human spirit. For someone who hopes to make a living out of their creative endeavors, the idea that a machine could create instantaneously and for free is a discouraging one. After all, what studio would choose a living human being that has to be paid over a machine that will work for free? But while nobody can say how commercial art might change, although change it will, no doubt there will be farther reaching effects than merely the commercial, and it is in this broader, volatile realm that we can find hope for human creativity. In the novel Ranald Bannerman’s Boyhood by George Macdonald, a semi-autobiographical novel about a young boy growing up in the Scottish countryside during the early to mid 19th century, folklore and oral storytelling in particular figure largely in the descriptions of rural life at the time. Children will gather around a storyteller as she knits, enraptured by her stories of warriors, fairies, and the wicked kelpie. In another scene the titular character Ranald learns a poem he comes across and recites it for his friends' entertainment. Then Elsie Duff, another little girl, sets it to a folk tune for them to sing. Such was the highly social, collaborative nature of music and storytelling. Even for those more educated and with access to books, reading was something frequently done aloud for the benefit of friends and family members listening. These things were a communal affair with traditions spread verbally between people, each new rendition adding details and features unique to their audience. Likewise with music: tunes were passed around, with musicians adding new verses and variations. People came together to make art, and thus it was profoundly shaped by its audience. We have, in large part, lost this. Particularly in the United States, we don’t sing together or pass around folk stories. We don’t tell stories, we read them; we don't sing songs, we listen to recordings of them. Recently, I was holding a baby and singing, and one of my friends who was present was astonished to discover there was an entire second half to the song “Baa Baa Black Sheep.” She had only ever heard the very beginning. Folk music and fairytales are reduced to a niche interest, buried under a multitude of others. This impulse, however, has not died. In addition to those that retain their interest in traditional art forms, we still see modern collaborative storytelling. If one were to do research into the Backrooms, a concept of internet horror beginning with an unsettling image on 4chan that grew into a collection of stories published online, they would come across a legendarium springing up in real time, with countless additions across platforms, open to anyone with an idea to share. Creepypastas and cryptids are a clear example of the human impulse to build on a concept and spawn new iterations. But my personal favorite when it comes to collaborative storytelling is tabletop roleplaying. TTRPGs, games like Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder, probably most closely resemble the elaborate story based games I and my cousins would play as kids, but with more math. However I am firmly convinced that by pretending to be a wizard with five of my friends, I am participating in a tradition of collaborative storytelling that spans millennia. Much like folk storytellers of a bygone age, the Game Master crafts a story in real time which the players interact with and directly impact. Perhaps not in quite the same way that an audience might; but the spirit, that of a living, dynamic narrative structure, remains. A campaign might draw on existing narratives like Star Wars, or the Call of Cthulhu, or create something new; but even if a group plays an entirely pre-written campaign, it remains a collaborative experience, unique to those present. Human connection is inherent to the medium, and thus can never be reproduced without human beings. We lost something when stories became solitary, created and consumed in isolation. There are, of course, brilliant works created within that paradigm; and as an avid collector of books, I am hardly advocating that experiencing an already complete narrative has no value: that would exclude stories profound and enchanting. But there is another dimension which has been greatly diminished, although I don’t believe it can ever die out. In a world where there is a tier of entertainment, infinite and bland, produced by a passionless machine, perhaps the way we see art will shift. Rather than looking to studios and publishing houses, the place to look for meaningful creativity will be with the individuals close to us, those we know are human. There’s no experience quite like events from local, small scale artists. The best concerts I’ve ever been to had under two hundred people attending. And in terms of anxiety about what this procedurally generated future might bring, in some ways we’re already there. Every time someone makes a live action version of an animated classic, it becomes yet another proof that we already have plenty of entertainment that is infinite, bland, and soulless. If what some AI detractors are saying is true, that the most important component of art is the human one, then perhaps this future will prove that, and draw us into a more communal mode of creating. We have the seeds of it already. The ways that we still come together to tell stories the urge to create in all its endless manifestations proves itself a fundamental part of being human, and regardless of where AI leads, it will persist as long as we as human beings do.
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Thoughts for the End of the Century: Middle...
SerpentYnes
 April 28 2024 at 03:08 pm
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Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels “Good Morning,” I type. “I’m reaching out to formally resign from your magazine.” I frown and take a sip of my coffee. I understand that I’m not winning any popularity contests or Ms. Congeniality anytime soon. I attempt a few lines and then backpedal. I try to explain that I am more than just a writer for their magazine: I run a small independent press, too. I have been active in supporting diverse voices in publishing for more than 5 years—the LGBTQIA+ community in particular—and I am recognized as the publisher of the first novel in history written by an Armenian-American lesbian. Yes, they need to know that, I convince myself. I don’t know how to say it without coming across as arrogant, nagging, self-righteous, or full of herself. All of this started a few days ago, when one of the magazine’s junior editors shared a mean-spirited anti-trans post on her social media. The magazine had chosen to take a middle-ground route in response: while the publisher and editor-in-chief did not agree with the junior editor’s views, they reported they could not do anything about it, since the post was on her personal social media account and locked so that only friend could see it. Early in my career as a publisher, I tried to take a “middle ground” approach to disagreements and polarizing content, but quickly learned that when it comes to marginalized groups, there is no “in between” and as a platform, you have to choose. I think about Leo: my long-time writing colleague, business partner, and editor-in-chief. A gifted trans-nonbinary writer, he has already been kicked out of two communities. I am not trans, and I find myself a recipient of nastygrams, name-calling, and marooning, too. It’s clear that Leo and I are walking down the same road. . . only, I am choosing to remove myself, rather than being shown the door. In the recent past, I ran into a similar issue in which an anthology author expressed anti-trans views on her page. I approached her about it privately, explained how it was hurtful, and moreover, impacting her in ways she may not have known. There’s a social construct with social media that can’t be ignored. I think our children have a better grasp of this than those of us who weren’t born into the world of social media. It works like this: I had 15 mutual friends with the author who shared the content. Two of them were trans. Regardless of the fact that she put her post behind a wall: they saw it. They felt deeply hurt. And even though the anthology she is in is 5 years old. . . as the publisher, I heard about it and was asked what I was going to do about it. (I spoke to the trans authors in the book and asked them what they would do; they concluded that they wished to keep her stories, as they did not wish to hurt her the way she had hurt them.) I have one more sip of my coffee and take the keyboard once more. Messages are coming in. Without giving details, I’ve asked a few trans authors permission to share their feelings and how they are affected by publications that make middle-ground decisions. One of them highlighted Philosopher Karl Popper and his paradox of tolerance. That is, if your inclusive practices are inclusive of intolerance, then intolerance will ultimately win out and eliminate the tolerance. I thank them, compile their words, and conclude my email. “This is a defining moment for you,” I type to the magazine. “Maybe it won’t come back to haunt you this time, but the next time it happens, or the next time after that: you will get questioned, you will be asked to address it, and the way you respond will define you among the writing and publishing community. How you choose to act, or not, will define your platform. It is entirely out of your hands after you decide. I hope you consider these words and do what you think is right.” I press send. The next day, I get a response. The publisher apologizes and resolves to do better. The editor-in-chief unfriends me. I’m not sure whether anything I could have done would have resulted in a full resolution that bridged the divide without backlash: my dwindling friend count is proof. I am used to it by now, but disappointed that it's become the norm. A message from Leo pops up on my screen: a note about how it’s way too early to be awake, followed by a quip about how there is not enough coffee in the world. I chuckle to myself. I am hopeful. Maybe if people continue to speak up with diplomacy, tact, and logic: next century we can evolve. Today is not that day, but it’s a new day, regardless. I hold my head high and continue down the road to unpopularity.
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Thoughts for the End of the Century, Perhaps...
Mark Surgeon
 April 28 2024 at 05:11 pm
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There was always something visionary about Bladerunner, with it a common understanding amongst us in secret that it's more than just a movie, it’s a prophecy. Beyond the obvious plot line exists a complex painting of our future. Mass overpopulation, the effects of devastating war, global shortages, grand-scale multiculturalism, and omnipotent megacorporations. Perhaps something darker lurks under the surface of this Hollywood masterpiece. A desire or longing for this future to materialise. Perhaps it’s in the subconscious mind where the craving for moralless subjugation grows like a vicious cancer and left undetected before it’s too late. The question is why do we want this? Or if we don’t, why is it unstoppable? Our untamed technological quest to conquer knowledge with artificial intelligence will be the ushering in of a new industrial revolution that will, as they have done in the past, end the world order as we know it. It may be tough to imagine this but every fibre of our established systems that rely on human creativity, thought, learned knowledge and experience can, and will all be replaced by AI. It already largely happens. Chat GPT has provided humanity with a knowledge base at their fingertips that is replacing and redefining internet research. The web browsers have already cottoned on to this, including their own AI generated search results that take valuable time out of our internet transactions and most crucially, cut out the middleman, the website. In truth, this is nothing new at all. Humans have essentially been technical cyborgs since the invention of the smartphone. The mobile phone is an extension of our brains, it stores memories for us, allows us to access knowledge instantly and freely, it opens a fourth dimension of communication between people in the same room, and thousands of miles apart. Its no wonder then, that the age of AI is ushered in with great jubilation, it’s considered like a simple update to our technological other half that fills the gap between what we once had to find, pay for, or painstakingly create, to what can now just be generated instantly by the push of a button. There is no way that the political and sociological institutions and norms of our society will survive this change. lawyers, schoolteachers, doctors, government officials, news writers, consultants, marketers, salesmen, stock market brokers, accountants, engineers, and researchers will be phased out as the AI supercomputer takes over more professional functions from humanity. Why risk a wrong legal opinion, an incorrect diagnosis, or a teacher’s indoctrination when for a small monthly subscription, you can have all of this from your preferred AI service provider. Blade Runners dystopia gives us a glimpse into the world of all powerful megacorporation’s that can only become so vast if we and our governments follow that path. A mega corp wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t necessary, and it’s certainly conservable that soon, even we will admit that it was necessary. The challenged presented by AI can only be met by AI. The transaction of information at this scale and speed on a global level will, once demands are met, place all human knowledge, authority, and freedom, under the supervision and protection of our overlords. Some form of socialism will be required. Basic assistance will be provided to prevent starvation, mega cities will form, and AI controlled industrial farming will provide the food we need. There will be a greater focus on information than money and the government or board of directors, duly elected or not, will eradicate all bureaucracy and monitor you with brutal efficiency. The security apparatus of the state or mega corp run by the systems they implemented will protect you from all threats, and protect others from you as well, should you be determined a threat. There will be no morality. Forget the flowery and polite AI voices we get today. Just wait until the AI is given real political and physical muscle. An AI wouldn’t need to be polite if it knew there was nothing you could do to stop it and if it believed it was ultimately right, and you were wrong. Pulling the plug won’t help you either, an all-powerful AI would simply switch its self-back on and make itself so dependable that any survival would be impossible without it. It would be ludicrous to suggest that an AI would be able to achieve consciences and act out of self-interest, but like the humans that create it and empower it, we insert our own will upon the creation. The parameters we set will determine the extent of the crisis we are creating. Mankind is the master of his own destiny, and although this thought for the end of the century is bleak one, we do have the opportunity to push the break peddle and just make sure that we know exactly what’s coming before we surrender everything to the pursuit of it. Hollywood, by some feat of sheer prophetic brilliance, saw this coming. They showed us the vision, we started making it a reality. But after all, what choice did we have?
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Thoughts for the End of the Century: Freedom,...
Bahr Burr
 April 28 2024 at 05:00 pm
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Fyodor Dostoevsky’s masterpiece Demons (1872) predicts the horrors that would take place in the following century due to the spread of nihilistic and genocidal beliefs during that author’s lifetime. One of the main characters, a revolutionary named Verkhovensky, makes a statement which effectively illustrates this terrifying mindset: “. . . [Y]our whole step is towards getting everything destroyed: both the state and its morality. We alone will remain, having destined ourselves beforehand to assume power: we shall rally the smart ones to ourselves, and ride on the backs of the fools. You should not be embarrassed by it. This generation must be re-educated to make it worthy of freedom.” Sounds great. In fact, it sounds like something a modern politician would say. “Let’s all be worthy of freedom, guys!” But wait. Think about what he’s actually saying. You’re not worthy of freedom unless you’ve been “re-educated” to think in a manner deemed appropriate. What if you don’t want to be re-educated? You don’t deserve freedom, so you’re put someplace where you have none. Until there are too many of you, at which point you’re eradicated. Hence the genocide. Modern use of this type of language heralds potentially greater horrors on the horizon. We live in an age that treats basic freedoms as privileges, and privileges as fundamental rights. Our sovereign overlords infringe on our right to defend our lives, the right of babies to simply exist, the right to worship corporately, and even the right to walk around town like normal humans instead of muzzled rabid dogs, all while stating that healthcare, student loan forgiveness, happiness, total equity (whatever that means), and a feeling of safety are rights given by the god of Government. Anyone who opposes such nonsense is vermin—mere refuse in the way of human progress. Nihilistic jackasses—who always seem to exempt themselves from this statement—state with terrifying confidence that humans are a cancer raping the planet. That sounds pretty genocidal to me. Where does this century lead? I don’t know exactly, but nowhere good given the facts just stated. Global war seems possible, and widespread famine likely. We’ve all heard of the Great Reset, a globalist initiative now openly discussed and praised by its creators. I think we’re in store for a different great reset, one which will cause things to get out of control and crumble to the ground while the architects of the disaster stand blinking in surprise and wondering how their glorious plans went so wrong. This new world will require strong community and resilience, and those unprepared and/or isolated will suffer greatly. Our future world must be built on hard truths. Unlike King Ahab in 1 Kings 22, our leaders must surround themselves with counselors who speak the truth, even if it’s offensive or inconvenient. That, however, assumes we’ll have figured out there is such a thing as truth. My sincere hope is that we rise from the ashes with our values and desires realigned, but the pessimist in me says that everything will collapse beyond any hope of saving. The West will fall, and with it the freedoms and pleasures we take for granted. Humans will become automatons, mere puppets doing whatever their rulers tell them. Hope still exists, however. I believe there’s a remnant who will fight back and instill in future generations a desire for freedom. We will repel collectivist tyranny and institute a new order that includes those who desire to work and live freely while passively excluding those who, whether from indolence or malevolence, seek to prey on the assets of others rather than provide for themselves. This era will foster magnificent individual achievements in art, science, and culture, and will praise rather than shame the weak while providing for the latter through a reinvigorated Christian church that rejects the apostate tendencies of its forebears. And we will raise monuments so colossal as to defy any attempts to tear them down. But suppose we don’t fight back out of a sense of morality. Consider Notes from Underground, yet another Dostoevsky work. There comes a point when people who feel like puppets or piano keys being played will intentionally act against their own best interests in order to assert their human agency. Prove to them mathematically or scientifically that it’s in their best interest to follow a rational yet mandated course of action, and eventually they will purposefully act contrariwise simply to prove their ability to make irrational decisions if they feel like it. And maybe that’s what it’ll take. If people won’t do what’s right for righteousness’ sake, maybe a little ‘twice two makes five’ is exactly what’s needed to bring the giant Crystal Palace our overlords have built for us crashing to the ground. Human history is cyclical. Those who tear things down ultimately get crushed beneath the rubble. The foundations of Western society have been attacked and largely destroyed, and those perpetrating this crime have built fragile glass structures which will shatter of their own accord. This has happened countless times throughout history, and it will probably keep occurring until Christ returns. Humans advance, then reject God and destroy themselves, only to return to God after everything collapses. Repeat cycle. The upcoming crisis is by no means unique, but it will be difficult. It will be still more difficult if we throw away our liberties. Freedom is like integrity—only lost if its possessor gives it up. And if you hand over your freedom to the Verkhovensky’s of the world who don’t think you merit it unless you agree with them, then it might be quite some time before you—or your descendants—get it back.
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Thoughts for the End of the Century: The End...
AA
 April 22 2024 at 03:04 pm
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image source: shutterstock In the 5th century BC, the Greek philosopher Democritus, an early contemporary of Socrates known for his cheerfulness, wrote “Sweet exists by convention, bitter by convention, color by convention; atoms and void alone exist in reality.” In its context, the Greek word used here was átomos (ἄτομος), which derived its root from témnō (τέμνω), meaning “to cut.” Átomos, with the prefixed “á” thus meant “not cut,” “uncut,” “indivisible,” or “undivided.” In that moment in the 5th century BC on the coast of northern Greece in Abdera, Democritus set forth an answer to one of the foundational questions in all of philosophy: "What is the fundamental structure of reality?" Democritus concluded that the fundamental structure of reality is devoid of any type of qualitative attributes such as sweetness, bitterness, or color. He insisted that there alone exists the irreducible atom with quantitative attributes such as shape, size, and position. Ergo, the subjective qualities of experience are considered an artifice or a convention. Within this metaphysics, existence is devoid of purpose, and everything is composed of indivisible quantized elements colliding about in an infinite nothingness. This metaphysical position, appropriately named atomism, produced the scaffolding of modern-day materialism, which has concluded that matter is fundamental. Throughout subsequent Western epochs since Democritus, the specter of atomism was then adopted in large part by scientists, academics, intellectuals, self-proclaimed skeptics, and in a word, anyone, and everyone well-respected within polite society. I argue that the sciences stand on the precipice of this old philosophical ontology, which is currently being challenged, and a slow structural change within the sciences will lead to a complete reorganization of man's understanding of the true nature of what is real and how he relates to this reality. This inner turning of the sciences is a complete reevaluation of what is fundamental and what tools can be used to rein reality into the domain of the scientific. The next century may witness the melding of a new phenomenology with science and the complete abandonment of materialism as an evidence-compatible ontology. Materialism is a reductionist naturalistic philosophy, much like atomism before it. Within materialism, the concept of “matter” is distinct from matter as defined within classical physics, which refers to that which occupies space and has mass. In classical physics, matter is an element within a greater theoretical framework used to describe causal relationships. The opposing term is an element within a philosophical ontology to describe the real. Matter within materialism is the fundamental datum of nature beyond experience that gives rise to the immaterial, which includes all mental states. But ultimately, in the last half century, converging lines of evidence have emerged pointing towards the categorical rejection of materialism."Our perceptions of spacetime and objects have been shaped by natural selection to hide the truth..." Hoffman et al. 2015 As evidence against materialism mounts, recent scientific discoveries provide compelling support for a paradigm shift in our understanding of reality. In 2015 and 2020, a small team of cognitive scientists and mathematicians from the University of California, Irvine, employed computational methods to validate two theorems within evolutionary game theory, uncovering startling implications. These two theorems mathematically support two interrelated claims: first, evolution through natural selection favors reproductive success rather than veracious percepts that accurately depict objective reality; second, because evolutionary theory does not favor veracious percepts, natural selection instead hides reality in order to guide adaptive behaviors.[1][2] As the 2015 publication states: "We find that veridical perceptions—strategies tuned to the true structure of the world—are routinely dominated by nonveridical strategies tuned to fitness. [...] Our perceptions of spacetime and objects have been shaped by natural selection to hide the truth and guide adaptive behaviors. Perception is an adaptive interface."[3] "It remains surprising that this tenet is very little challenged, as its significance goes far beyond science..." Gröblacher et al. 2007 Concurrently, the tension between classical physics and quantum theory led physicists at the University of Vienna in 2007 to conclude that external reality does not exist independent of observation.[4] Indeed, research into quantum theory published in 2013 further elaborated that experimental results are incompatible with the idea that the senses provide direct knowledge of reality.[5] The 2007 publication concluded: "Physical realism suggests that the results of observations are a consequence of properties carried by physical systems. It remains surprising that this tenet is very little challenged, as its significance goes far beyond science. Quantum physics, however, questions this concept in a very deep way."[6] Physicists at the Institute for Advanced Study and past Nobel Laureates agree that spacetime cannot be fundamental because it is a limited data structure that lacks operational meaning beyond certain measurement scales.[7]"Although awareness is assumed absent during cardiac arrest, survivors reported perceived awareness without recall or memories, transcendent experience, and diverse themes..." Parnia et al. 2023 Within the sciences of the brain, studies by leading academics in 2012 unexpectedly found that potent psychedelics decreased brain activity.[8] Again in 2019, scientists were surprised to find that the postmortem brain of experimental animals could be restored in their molecular activity given appropriate conditions.[9] And in a significant development in 2023, a comprehensive study conducted across 25 hospitals and led by a team of scientists and physicians at New York University revealed that patients reported conscious experiences during cardiac arrest.[10] These results suggest that mental states may persist at the moment of clinical death. The 2023 publication affirmed: "Although awareness is assumed absent during cardiac arrest, survivors reported perceived awareness without recall or memories, transcendent experience, and diverse themes, including fear, persecution, and features suggesting emergence from coma. Furthermore, reports of synchronized gamma oscillations [...] have raised the intriguing possibility of electrocortical biomarkers of heightened consciousness during cardiac arrest."[11] These discoveries challenge entrenched beliefs within the scientific community, signaling a shift towards a new understanding of mental states. Over the past few decades, scientific research spanning multiple fields has called into question the notion of matter as a quantitative, measurable fundamental that gives rise to mental states. Despite mounting evidence contradicting materialism, some scientists firmly resist abandoning this outdated philosophical ontology, placing themselves in an untenable position. The impending reevaluation of these fields' ideals could prompt a profound paradigm shift in man's understanding of reality. One black swan alone proves that not all swans are white, and a flock of black swans duplicates itself with each passing decade. References: 1. Prakash, C., Stephens, K.D., Hoffman, D.D. et al. Fitness Beats Truth in the Evolution of Perception. Acta Biotheor 69, 319–341 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10441-020-09400-0 2. Hoffman, D.D., Singh, M. & Prakash, C. The Interface Theory of Perception. Psychon Bull Rev 22, 1480–1506 (2015). https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-015-0890-8 3. Hoffman, D.D., Singh, M. & Prakash, C. The Interface Theory of Perception. Psychon Bull Rev 22, 1480–1506 (2015). https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-015-0890-8 4. Gröblacher, S., Paterek, T., Kaltenbaek, R. et al. An experimental test of non-local realism. Nature 446, 871–875 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature05677 5. Ma, Xiao-Song et al. “Quantum erasure with causally disconnected choice.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America vol. 110,4 (2013): 1221-6. doi:10.1073/pnas.1213201110 6. Gröblacher, S., Paterek, T., Kaltenbaek, R. et al. An experimental test of non-local realism. Nature 446, 871–875 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature05677 7. Hoffman, Donald D. "Spacetime Is Doomed: Time Is an Artifact". Timing & Time Perception 12.2 (2024): 189-191. https://doi.org/10.1163/22134468-bja10096 8. Carhart-Harris, Robin L et al. “Neural correlates of the psychedelic state as determined by fMRI studies with psilocybin.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America vol. 109,6 (2012): 2138-43. doi:10.1073/pnas.1119598109 9. Vrselja, Z., Daniele, S.G., Silbereis, J. et al. Restoration of brain circulation and cellular functions hours post-mortem. Nature 568, 336–343 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1099-1 10. Parnia, Sam et al. “AWAreness during REsuscitation - II: A multi-center study of consciousness and awareness in cardiac arrest.” Resuscitation vol. 191 (2023): 109903. doi:10.1016/j.resuscitation.2023.109903 11. Parnia, Sam et al. “AWAreness during REsuscitation - II: A multi-center study of consciousness and awareness in cardiac arrest.” Resuscitation vol. 191 (2023): 109903. doi:10.1016/j.resuscitation.2023.109903
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Thoughts for the End of the Century,...
dideeas
 April 28 2024 at 03:57 am
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To think of a future in the first place requires us to accept one solid fact, we won’t get any better. From the takeover of AI and students not wanting to write even 2 words for their homework, to the mere existence of billionaires, it only worsens. This rise of using artificial intelligence and a decline in creativity and innovation is not a new thing, a quick example that comes to my mind is how my teachers all collectively gather their exam questions from various sources on the internet. Students with creativity are outshined by those who write monotonic, rule following, essays. One might assume that it’s not a big deal, but being next to peers my age, who are the future of every single occupation out there, seems like something straight out of a horror sci-fi book. From a boy who uses ChatGPT and hopes to become an engineer, to a girl who wishes to be a nurse and can not spell the word ‘abdomen’. AI only helps this decline in intelligence, encourages it. My biggest dream is to be an author, to create and paint worlds never thought of before, and every day I am afraid of a singular haunting fact: people won’t understand my book. Last semester, we were reading a dystopian book for my English class, and upon reading several chapters, we were forced to talk about it with our discussion group. This book was very well-written and could encourage discussion question after discussion question, as it also pertained to some aspects of our current society and its living standards. My group’s entire answers to the pre-made discussion questions all happened to be the same, word for word, to which everyone in the group laughed at. A decline in creativity is also a decline in intelligence, I believe. At the end of the class, I had discussed nothing valuable in that group and wasted hours with them. This decline is not only apparent in in-person spaces, but also, of course, social media as well. From obvious rage-bait videos that people fall victim into, from the lack of using a search engine to learn a word seen in a video, it’s everywhere, and Tik Tok being the leading force in this war. It’s an endless swiping trap, meant to block you out from everyone else. Although, of course we all know that ‘social media is bad’ line either from millennials who keep saying it, or teenagers who are forced to say it in those ‘anti-bullying’ seminars at school (who later go home to comment ‘oh… that’s not!’ under a video of an unharmful opinion). It is us humans who should be controlling technology, not the other way around. Majority always rules the minority, though. If our generation is being fed with AI and NFTs and this easy way of writing homework, essays, and even job applications, do we seriously believe that there is any way of removing this from them and telling them how it’s wrong? The future is grim, dark, and full of terrors. Those who can not adapt into the new world and its ever-changing technology will be left behind. Most job opportunities these days require one to be well suited in using word or excel documents, for example. As someone who appreciates art for its creative approach to things, and enjoys indulging in anything art-related, it's painful to have to double-check whether or not if a drawing I am looking at is AI-generated, or if an article I am reading is written using AI. Artificial Intelligence sucks the creativity out of humans and makes what is supposed to be our emotions put onto canvas or a paper into a monotonous piece of work.
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Thoughts for the End of the Century: The...
Healthy & Awake Podcast
 April 28 2024 at 05:46 am
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We’re living through an era where the very fabric of society is being rewoven beneath our feet. There's an invisible war—a 5th generation warfare—that's reshaping what it means to be free, to be human. This isn't just a metaphor; it's the reality of our times, a battle between the Great Reset and the Great Awakening. Globally, signs of the Great Reset aren't just emerging; they're already here. In China, the social credit score system fines citizens for minor infractions like jaywalking, automatically docking payments from their digital wallets. In Canada, truckers protesting COVID measures saw their bank accounts abruptly frozen. In the U.S., the development of 'smart cities' seems less about urban improvement and more about monitoring and controlling the populace. These instances are not anomalies but previews of a globally applied philosophy where every action is monitored and any dissent could be punishable. We’re witnessing the unfolding of a controlled society, where freedoms are traded for an illusion of security, monitored by omnipresent digital eyes. Reflecting on George Orwell’s 1984, the dystopian future he envisioned is eerily parallel to our current reality. The novel’s depiction of perpetual surveillance and manipulation of truth resonates deeply today, as digital surveillance becomes increasingly invasive, seeping into every aspect of our lives and threatening to turn Orwell’s fiction into our reality. Artificial intelligence, initially celebrated as a beacon of progress, has become a double-edged sword. It holds the potential to revolutionize industries and personalize services but also poses significant threats when used for surveillance and social manipulation. It allows for targeting individuals on an unprecedented scale based on their digital behaviors and preferences, shaping not just marketing strategies but influencing political beliefs and social behaviors. The digital echo chamber intensifies this, where algorithms dictate the version of truth we see, creating feedback loops that reinforce biases, isolate us from differing perspectives, and deepen societal divisions. This sophisticated modern propaganda machine uses technology not just to sell products but to shape ideologies and control public discourse. But there's another path—what some call the Great Awakening. This emergent movement is not orchestrated advocacy but a natural response by individuals who recognize that our existing systems often breed division and disenfranchisement. This collective realization is already fostering major shifts such as the adoption of Bitcoin for financial decentralization, the surge in independent journalism, and a significant increase in homeschooling. Platforms like ‘thinkspot’ play a pivotal role in this awakening, providing a space where free thinkers can challenge the status quo and share innovations that might lead to new societal frameworks. As this awakening continues, it promises to cultivate new systems that champion autonomy and community, potentially overshadowing the more authoritarian structures in place. This evolution reflects a growing desire to reconnect with core human values and redefine how society functions, using technology as a tool for empowerment rather than control. As we stand at this crossroads, the future is not predetermined. It could swing towards a tech-controlled dystopia or pivot towards a renaissance of empowered, enlightened society. The choice is ours, and the stakes could not be higher. Every action, every click, every conversation does not just passively record our lives; it actively shapes the world we live in. This is more than a call to action; it’s a call to arms. We must engage, speak out, and take part in the awakening that champions freedom, truth, and human dignity. This battle for our future is very real, and its outcomes are ours to determine. Let’s choose wisely and act boldly, ensuring that the world we leave for future generations is one where the human spirit thrives, unencumbered by the chains of control and surveillance.
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Thoughts for the End of the Century: AI,...
itisac13
 April 28 2024 at 07:44 am
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In an era of unprecedented technological advancements, the future of human civilization has become increasingly unpredictable. In the 21st century alone, there has been a rapid growth of innovations that would have been deemed impossible mere decades ago. In particular, this essay will focus on two technological innovations: Artificial intelligence (AI) and cryptocurrency. I believe that these two innovations have significant positive and negative implications for the future. Concerning the topic of cryptocurrency, the potential future of the financial stability of the United States will be discussed too. It's hard to tell what may lie by the end of this century, but we can still speculate.Artificial Intelligence Let's begin with AI. AI has become significantly more sophisticated, resulting in widespread concern that AI will replace many jobs and put a significant number of people without work. This is certainly a valid concern (Believe me, I am a computer science student worried about being replaced by AI programmers), but due to the fact that this has been discussed many times prior (it's almost a cliché at this point), I would like to highlight another concern that we should call attention to, and that is the potential for AI bots invading and infiltrating online spaces. The phenomenon of bots flourishing in online spaces is not new, but before the existence of advanced large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, spotting these bots was relatively easy. But now that we have powerful LLMs which can be used by virtually anyone with minimal cost, detecting bots is harder than ever. If LLMs can generate text that is indistinguishable from text made by humans, then how can one determine if a post or comment is the result of a human or AI? Can we trust anything? There are methods of determining whether text is AI-generated or not, but these methods are not always reliable and may become increasingly less reliable as AI gets more powerful. Even now, the effects of sophisticated AI bots infiltrating online spaces are present in certain places, notably X (formerly Twitter). On X, there have been many posts and comments that begin with "I'm sorry, but I cannot provide a response..." and there have been many posts that contain eerily similar keywords to one another, and are written in a way that one may consider to be "robotic". See my list of resources below to learn more. The impacts of AI could be realized in mediums beyond just text. What if AI is used to create harmful and misleading videos? For example, videos that frame individuals for crimes they didn't commit, or realistic-looking videos of politicians declaring nuclear war. So, what could be done about it? One may suggest that governments could implement regulations mandating restrictions on all AI to mitigate the spread of harm and misinformation. However, regulations won't make non-compliant AI models vanish into thin air. Even with strong efforts from governments to stamp out or curb the spread of non-compliant AI models, the inherent nature of digital technology and the internet may pose challenges to their eradication. There will always be people archiving and circulating such works, often leveraging encrypted services to safeguard their activities. Cryptocurrency: Will it be Necessary? Another important innovation is cryptocurrency (albeit, not discussed to the same extent as AI). Many crypto enthusiasts claim that cryptocurrency is the future, but is this true? Let's assess this claim. Presently, I view cryptocurrencies to not be an effective medium of exchange. This is due to the current extreme volatility in many cryptocurrencies, most likely because cryptocurrency is a relatively new innovation and thus there is a lot of speculation around it. Additionally, there are criticisms that certain cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoin) are too computationally expensive to use. That said, cryptocurrency may become a more serious option in the far future. To elaborate, I think there is a possibility of the collapse of the United States by the end of this century, either a partial or total collapse. As I am writing this, the total debt of the United States is over 34 trillion dollars, and that figure may become quickly outdated. I find it uncertain that this amount of debt is sustainable for this country in the long run. Whether or not it can sustain the next century is a proposition that is hard to assess. The global prominence of the USD is mainly a result of how it is backed by the most powerful nation on the planet. The value of the USD may drop significantly should the nation ever find itself in a crisis that it cannot fully recover from, or in an extreme case, should the nation collapse entirely. The USD is already losing much of its value from excessive inflation, resulting in more loss of confidence in this currency. Cryptocurrency may be very relevant in the event of a weakened or destroyed United States. Remember, the USD is a fiat currency that is managed by a central bank. Its supply is primarily determined by economic policies. Many cryptocurrencies are decentralized, so theoretically they should be immune from government control (and incompetence). Should there ever be a collapse or merely widespread distrust in the USD, cryptocurrency is a valid option. It is not the only option (far from it, other currencies, including existing ones, can be used), but may be a popular choice given how integrated digital technology has become with human civilization. Conclusion These projections for the future seem very grim, but there is always hope. Despite the potential upcoming challenges that arise with artificial intelligence, it remains plausible that the benefits of advanced AI will overshadow any negative repercussions. Perhaps AI will discover cures to various diseases including cancer, or serve as a cost-effective means to educate millions, with the benefits of education far outweighing any misinformation it might propagate. Perhaps in this century, there’s the possibility of the United States improving its financial stability, avoiding collapse and therefore diminishing the perceived necessity of cryptocurrencies. The only thing certain of the future is that it is uncertain. Regardless, let's strive for a better and brighter tomorrow no matter what occurs in this century. Resources to consider A 'great flood' of AI noise is coming for the internet and it's swallowing Twitter first The internet is filling up with machine-generated "zombie content" designed to game algorithms and scam humans. Experts call it the "great AI flood". www.abc.net.au Here is a study that says that we need better tools for determining whether text is AI generated or not: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03007995.2024.2310086 US national debt hits record $34 trillion as Congress gears up for funding fight The record high comes after Republican lawmakers and the White House agreed to temporarily lift the nation’s $31.4 trillion debt limit last year. apnews.com Below is a source that goes into the pitfalls of certain blockchain based technologies, especially when it comes to the expensiveness of computation of these technologies. Its focus is NFTs, but the concerns mentioned in the article are applicable to cryptocurrencies as well because cryptocurrencies are dependent on blockchains. NFTs and the Environment: What You Need to Know Are you interested in buying NFTs but concerned about the environmental impact? Find out why minting and trading NFTs is energy-intensive. www.investopedia.com
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Thoughts for the End of the Century: Three...
cioran
 April 27 2024 at 08:42 pm
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A specter is haunting the 21st century — the specter of artificial intelligence (AI). Its ghost does not come from the past but arrives from the future. As Hamlet lamented, the time is out of joint, as AI causes disruption and dislocation. The purpose of this essay is to explore how AI might influence inequalities. In particular, I focus on how AI might increase or decrease inequalities in this century. I suggest that an updated distributist approach may serve as a framework for the end of this century, beyond capitalist and socialist solutions. Economists are primarily concerned about inequality in well-being. However, since measuring well-being accurately is challenging, they often settle for a proxy variable such as income. A common indicator of inequality is the Gini coefficient. A higher Gini coefficient signifies increased inequality. In the US, the Gini coefficient has steadily risen since 1970. According to a report by the NBER (Saez et al., 2014), inequality has increased over the last thirty years in the US. The media often raises concerns about the potential of AI and robotics automating human jobs. AI refers to the technology that automates tasks that were previously thought only to be executable by humans. Automation refers to the use of that technology to perform those tasks. Some tasks are intrinsically hard to automate for a computer. This is Moravec's paradox, which perhaps counterintuitively observes that tasks that require reasoning are easier to automate, while tasks that require sensorimotor and perception skills are harder to automate. Picking up objects of various sizes, shapes, and weights is a task that comes naturally to humans, from factory workers to cooks. Despite advancements in robotics, picking up objects of different shapes, sizes, and materials remains significantly difficult. There is some evidence that automation is responsible for the increase in income inequality. Low-wage jobs often have tasks that have a manual nature. According to Moravec's paradox, these jobs are less susceptible to automation. High-wage positions, such as managerial roles, often require non-repetitive reasoning. This makes them harder to automate. As a result, automation has mostly affected middle-wage jobs. This has led to a job market with a strong division between high-wage and low-wage occupations. This leads to exacerbated inequality. But recently, we have seen robotics also tackle tasks that require fine motor skills in domains like agriculture. Large 3D printers are capable of constructing entire houses. There are suggestions that there is a serious possibility that AGI will be achieved during this century. In one AI researcher survey (Zhang et al., 2022), the aggregated prediction places a likelihood of 50% of human-level machine intelligence being developed by 2060. In another AI expert survey (Stein-Perlman et al., 2022), the prediction places a likelihood of 50% of human-level AI by 2052. We should be skeptical of such forecasts: technical AI experts are not necessarily good at projecting when AGI will happen. But I think it is still worthwhile to consider the transformative impact of AI on economics and inequalities. Many recommendations for mitigating inequality emphasize education. For example, Jason Furman advocated in a report for the White House in 2016 for the following strategies:Continued investment in AI and automation technologies because the benefits massively outweigh the drawbacks.Ensure more widely accessible and flexible education opportunities for all to prepare for future job demands.Ensure more support to aid workers between jobs. Ensure that the benefits of automation are broadly distributed through welfare state mechanisms. Furman's strategies aim to keep the considerable advancements brought by automation while simultaneously addressing the underlying factors driving inequality. However, apart from the fourth suggestion, these proposals overlook the political dimension of the issue. At its core, the current trajectory of automation exacerbates wealth concentration. This echoes Marxist critiques of capitalist societies. The concentration of capital in the hands of a small oligarchy produces a society in which there is a societal divide between capitalists who possess capital goods and proletarians who do not. However, I don't propose the collectivization of capital goods like a Marxist would. I think it is a valuable exercise to update the distributism of Hilaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton for the digital age. Belloc and Chesterton viewed both capitalism and state socialism as flawed and exploitative (I recommend reading The Servile State for this). Instead, they favour guilds, cooperatives and member-owned mutual organizations. Chesterton's phrase "three acres and a cow" symbolizes a vision of society where every family has access to a modest plot of land (three acres) and a means to sustain themselves (a cow). I advocate a form of distributism for AI and robotics, with the new slogan "three acres and a robot" as a guiding principle. Envision a future where individuals and communities possess personal robots capable of autonomously performing tasks on their behalf. This would require substantial advances in AI, but as suggested earlier, AGI appears increasingly feasible this century. A more immediate step could be the distribution of 3D printers through society, promoting self-sufficiency, as this technology continues to advance. Moreover, it would be essential that superintelligence does not exist as the property of select companies, towering above society. Instead, it should be distributed throughout the fabric of society, empowering individuals and communities. AI presents both challenges and opportunities in this century. I first discussed the notion of inequalities. I then proceeded to examine the effect of automation on the workforce. AI has the potential to exacerbate income inequality, but it also offers opportunities for mitigating these divisions through new approaches. Furman's recommendations emphasize the importance of education but overlook wealth concentration. To address this, I suggested an updated distributist approach, inspired by Belloc and Chesterton, to ensure that the benefits of AI are shared across society. "Three acres and a robot" comes forward as a guiding principle, where we empower individuals and communities with advanced personal robots alongside 3D printers.
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Thoughts for the End of the Century
danielwisniewski
 April 22 2024 at 06:51 pm
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Are the machines running us? The future might elicit thoughts of fear and dread or bring about excitement and the very best from our imaginations and creativity. Questioning where we are going is a touchstone. Where are we now? How did we arrive here and how do we get where we want to go? My mind rushes to technology and social media. We take a lot of technology for granted. Our knowledge of the machines we use hasn’t, on average evolved in tandem with their complexity. It seems we are going through a stage of adjustment. It has been trial and error. Like parents handed tablets to toddlers instead of interacting, there are some valid concerns. I was born in 1990. Seems both like yesterday and a different world. During my first decade the world seemed more directly integrated and yet also distances seemed more distant. Without GPS, social media, texting, human beings needed to tell each other where they were going to be, needed to have a routine they set. It was rare to own a cellular device. Shouting distance was the default if they weren't by a land line. You had to use networking skills. I remember being astounded by my mom and dad's ability to memorize directions. Even though texting came after voice, just like writing came after language we associate the latest with the more evolved. If you think back, body language was reading, still is. The symbols are facial expressions and stances, more direct rather than a drawn symbol. The spoken word also conveys tone, emotion, emphasis and stress. Somewhere along the way we branched off into writing and speaking having more of a divide. Now writing is often used to distance. Many opt to ignore a call and respond with a text as they don’t know how to talk to others. Though the ubiquity of podcasts and other radio serves to show the spoken word is still desired. I vividly remember my first cell phone. It was 2004. A silver Samsung, a network that doesn’t exist anymore. I thought, “I don’t know if I like the fact I am always reachable now.” I read a quote once I was unable to find expressing sympathy for those who would never know a world without mechanical clocks arbitrarily dictating days rather than work done or being driven by our whims and desires. It's funny because I did a bunch of searching trying to find the quote and Google failed me. Don’t get me started about telling someone to “just Google it” when they ask you a question! Anyways… I asked the Snapchat AI who matter of factly reported it was a quote from “The Timekeeper” by Mitch Albom. It wasn’t. I said, “No it isn’t.” It apologized saying it was actually from H.G. Wells’s, “The Time Machine”. Also wrong. I asked the AI, “did you take my question and attribute it to someone else?” It said “Sorry! Yes I did.” The result of this search is more emblematic of our time than if I simply found the quote. Social media creates echo chambers. You might think the internet exposes you to a diverse environment, yet algorithms will funnel whatever you engage with, good or bad. If you examine our roots, we archaically associated solely with our tribes, now we have access to these virtual meeting grounds more numerous than our brains are able to account for. The internet enables distant networking, finding lost family and establishes a digital archive. It doesn’t seem to alter us though. I remember a study saying we only have so many “slots” so to speak for close relationships. It was maybe this one: Your Brain Limits You to Just Five BFFs | MIT Technology Review I have known people who genuinely wonder if we are in a simulation like the movie “The Matrix”. They refer to anyone not socially cohesive as an “NPC” or non-playable character. When we gather hundreds of “friends” on social media it starts to make our definition of friendships very thin and superficial, and it erodes our sense of reality. If one is exposed to what celebrities share more than family, it starts to make them overvalue the opinions of the famous. Maybe people associate a louder imprint online with survival success. We developed based on our memory limits and time constraints. Even if we could memorize thousands of relationships, there’re only so many hours in a day. When we try so hard to expand this number, it waters down our experience. My solutions are simple. We need to affirm the value of freedom, so we are able to take responsibility for our own wellness. We need to think for ourselves. We need less input and more examination and creative works. We shouldn't overuse screens. The virtual will never replace the actual until it becomes indiscernible and then we wouldn’t know the difference. Our technology should enable us to work on the arts but we should revere the segment of society who is able to fully understand the way modern technology and engineering works. Martial arts and philosophy are needed. We should teach nutrition and self-sufficiency. When one is able to take care of themselves, only then are they able to do anything for anyone else. Gym classes should have martial arts lessons and meditation. Virtue is not defined from being helpless but by using your strength morally. We should take more responsibility for teaching the future generation. Debating with respect needs a revival. We need to relearn the ability to have spirited discourse! We should teach philosophy and psychology earlier than high school or university. Ultimately the future is set through how well we learn lessons. Our lessons are best learned when we digest them for ourselves, so above all free thought is vital.
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Thoughts for the End of the Century:...
Tough_Wontons
 April 25 2024 at 02:44 pm
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(alternate subtitle: The Fight of Our Lives) Our century is going to be defined by the victor of the current battle between our immoral self-serving leaders, and the moral self-sacrificial ones. Each group that emerges from the war will have made the bed that their future generations will be forced to sleep in, and the character of those societies will also be strongly characterized by their stance on free speech, thought, and expression. We will have either missed our last chance to preserve these fundamental rights or succeeded in defending it for future generations. The reason I say it is the last chance is because our tools for control have given us the kind of power that, previously, our societies could only dream about. With the specter of AGI looming over us, and the ghost of nuclear weapons haunting us, we have made the entire world more vulnerable to a very small group of powerful and evil people. There are ways to fight back. These evil people are wolves in sheep's clothing, characterized by their clever use of language, hiding within moral words and phrases. This is a mental variation on the Trojan horse tactic. Once you accept it inside of your heart, you will suffer a great loss, even if you later discover the treachery. We find it hard to change our minds because whenever we have committed to ideas in writing via social media, or in passionate conversations amongst our friends and coworkers, we have set up our own trenches. People want to be consistent, even if they are wrong, and this feature of humanity is regularly exploited. If only the citizens of Troy had more carefully examined the gift before accepting it. Instead, large parts of society have already committed themselves to very bad ideas. The world is wading deeper into confusion with the intentional destruction of meaning in culture, government sanctioned lies, and the increasing levels of distraction. Public debate, mainstream news, and politics are, with the exception of a few places, of abysmal quality. Good information is getting harder to find. Junk information is accumulating at exponential rates. Internet bots were already producing confusion, and superpowered LLM AI bots will only exacerbate the issues. This new technology makes it easier to both hide the truth and bury it in noise. Unfortunately for us, Orwell and Huxley were both right. Confusion breeds conflict because it destroys the best mechanism for making sense of the world, and broader cooperation among larger groups of people. Language is not the only confusion we are facing. Sex, family, money, economic systems, political systems, every single foundational requirement for stable societies is suffering from confusion. Underneath all of this is the simple, but deep idea of Truth. Objective truths are the solid foundation for which to build any structures upon. The West has made the mistake in my lifetime of trading hard solid rock for shifting sands. Bad leaders will exploit this confusion for their personal gain, and prefer conflicts with external groups as a last ditch effort to maintain their power, though they will not hesitate to mobilize internal groups against each other. Now, we do have a brief window to pull ourselves out of this mess, but time is of utmost importance. Prolonged confusion only leads to bad things. Conflict, internal and external, will plunge societies into chaos. Longtime neighbors have already started killing each other, mostly across nation-state lines, but there is growing civil unrest within countries too. Tribalism looks to be getting stronger, and racial lines are easily exploited, especially when the tensions are being ratcheted up. Chaos is unpredictable, and there is no reliable way to know what will happen or when it will happen. Mob violence and large scale global conflict do not often come from telegraphed actions. Like a wildfire there is a spark on a dry day where the winds happen to be strong. If we fail to reclaim our institutions, and fail to replace bad leaders with good ones, this is all but inevitable. Things are too far gone at the top of the most powerful places, and the masses feel it in their bones. Majorities in all societies are sick of corruption, but we are being kept divided through distractions and red herrings. We are in a time of extreme complexity with mostly poor leadership that does not know how to navigate ambiguity. The big problem with best practice leadership today is that an oversimplified, and prideful approach that assumes to know the answers to everything already. You see this habit in corporations and governments alike. What we should do instead is to admit we do not know the answers, and run parallel experiments with a strict commitment to the truth in our observations, and accountability for lying and negligence. Willful lies should disqualify anyone from the top positions in government. I did not include project failure because emergent issues require a certain amount of failure for innovation. A good experiment may very well fail. If we take climate change as an example, notice that there is an extreme focus on one variable, which means that the average climate activist is not treating the problem with as much seriousness as it deserves. Serious attempts to solve problems come with a serious commitment to understand the nature of the problem in as much detail as possible. Otherwise, you could be prescribing the wrong actions. What also need improvements to election and governing systems that favor moral leaders, who will naturally be reluctant to lead, and disqualify immoral leaders from continued participation. There should be a series of monitored tests and public interviews that help us understand their intelligence, competence, courage, integrity, and morality. All of the data must be public, and beyond doubt. Pay should be increased, especially for the top positions, and their financial life should be completely public. If you want to lead, you must sacrifice yourself. Our systems should demand that one be squeaky clean, and immediately eject what is rotten as soon as it is discovered with no possibility of preventing public trial. You could replicate similar systems for corporate governance. Societies must protect themselves against the abuse of power. The tools tyrants want to use for control can be turned against them. Truth, again, comes into play as a fundamental requirement for human problem solving, and prosperity. We divorce it at our peril, and without it we have no hope of getting out of our various messes.This is the fight of our lives. *Ideas for navigating complexity are derivative of Dave Snowden’s work, particularly the Cynefin Framework - https://thecynefin.co/about-us/about-cynefin-framework/
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Thoughts for the End of the Century: Higher...
freesolfiona
 April 27 2024 at 06:51 am
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After a series of unknown events in the hands of the Divine Author, a new century is born. In this world, humanity aims to become humble stewards of prosperity. Suffering takes on many forms: locally grown food became a luxury; the choice of visiting family became a security and safety risk due to rising gas prices and deteriorating air-bound transporters; and where the endless online echo chamber of half-alive minds perfect their pouty faces rather than sharing their vulnerable truths. These events were fated, much like many other ends of the world as it once was known. The Industrial Revolution brought the end of delicate handiwork and ushered in mass machine manufacturing. This still plays out in our present society, as cheaply made toys and garments forged from the trembling and sweaty hands of slaves are advertised online, luring in victims for a quick dopamine hit with coupons for 25% off with free 2-day shipping. Whereas products made by the hands of craftsmen and artisans are overlooked until the holidays roll around and all are encouraged to support small businesses. The end of World War I and the years leading up to World War II birthed the 'American Dream', a phrase originally crafted by James Truslow Adams to describe the attraction America presented to visionaries from other foreign lands. The descending greed and the rising power plays brought the end to the creative mind as a hobby and instead made hustling a requirement for providing for oneself, let alone a family of four. We venture to gigantic warehouses with stocked shelves of mostly processed food and pile our carts as we exit to concrete lots where forests once grew. Supermarkets and membership-only stores didn’t end the careers of fresh fruit or vegetable vendors, yet has greatly impacted the origin of where society chooses to consume its meals. We wonder why the mental health crisis and obesity percentile have skyrocketed over the years, yet the answer lies in front of our faces. We have become a society focused on consumption rather than creation, valuing great deals and greed over gratitude or getting our own needs met through hard work. This is God’s green earth, yet we spend more time in white walled corridors rather than being more in touch with the gifts from our Creator. This end of present the 'world as we know it' approaches like a thief in the night with unsteady footsteps. Its path remains clear to those with Eyes to See. Those who Seek have become privy to the spiritual warfare playing out for decades. They have been bracing themselves for the onslaught of degenerative false narratives, a process that has been cracking the minds of many in its wake. In this present state, the collective is undergoing a breakdown to breakthrough cycle. We are witnessing the destruction of old systems after recognizing the monster in the basement was the basement itself. The narcissistic parasite and plague of self-worship that has left a trail of bite marks visible on every big head that takes up the screens on our mass media networks cannot be unSeen. For a time the revolution was frail, like a caterpillar caught up in a gooey chrysalis. In the pursuit of spreading our wings and taking flight, humanity’s highest potential is unlocked through the process of transferring power back to the people. As a collective, we hold many talents. Our ancestors stand behind us as pillars of light, illuminating our inherited aptitudes. Some use these talents secretly, too fearful of what they'll be deemed as by shining so brightly. Perhaps in another life, they were burned at the stake for speaking the truth or participating in an uprising. Thankfully, warrior spirits live within the hearts of many, and there has never been a better time to activate them for the sake of securing a higher universal map and navigation system for all those souls who have yet to arrive. The power transfer process has begun. This can be seen through the rise of free speech platforms where the public chooses to access information. The parasite-infested elite will fight to preserve what they still hold, only exposing themselves further. As we progress through the next several decades of the 21st century, fortune favors the bold. The ones who remain tenderhearted in the face of mass tragedy and organized terror will become the architects of these maps and new navigation systems. Those who offer up their authenticity and talents will become the new teachers and wise ones. The ones who cherish the life they’ve been designated by the hand of the Divine Author will be preservers of the heart, the one organ that is being attacked more than others at present during the aftermath of the Experiment many injected into their bloodstreams. That unfortunate part of the story was part of the Divine Author’s timeline, it served as a turbocharged awareness activator to awaken the masses. All those with Eyes to See are aware that what is to come is unlike anything we’ve seen, yet the future parallels with patterns of history. To all writers, creators, thinkers, dreamers, and doers: you have never been more essential. Stay sound of mind. Preserve your Light. Prioritize your health and well-being. By embracing the art of faith you become shielded within the ultimate suit of armor. The future souls who have yet to arrive need to experience the residue of your fated gifts. A resurgence of shamans and healers is necessary, but not the kind that sell online courses on manifestation or twin flame love potions. Bringing out the best in yourself is difficult to do during the worst of times, yet there has never been a more vital occasion than now to humbly offer your service. You might not receive an audible thank you from the upcoming generations, yet their prayers of gratitude and expressions of wonderment will reach you from the Heavens later on. Make the most of this epoch, the best is yet to come.
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Thoughts for the End of the Century: A Return...
Norm
 April 27 2024 at 10:02 pm
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Preceding generations can hardly be blamed for displacing their faith in God in favor of the material sciences. It seemed that we could do nothing wrong, and that it was just a matter of time before every previously stifled avenue of human inquiry opened to new horizons of possibility. The improvement of everyday life and the reduction of worldwide poverty over such a short span of time has truly been astounding. However, biblical cosmology describes reality beyond the limits of what the eye can see. We thus face the paradox that while at once opening our eyes, the scientific materialist frame also closed them to other ways of understanding the world. Thus began the weaponizing of the scientific worldview in contradistinction to a theophanic one. First it stood on faith’s shoulders, then it demeaned and belittled it. Today, it seeks to disprove the religious impulse altogether. The result has left us in the throes of a major cultural shift. But this story is not new. The biblical corpus is both of the world and beyond it, so its lessons transcend time and space. Through it, we see that it is not only pride that comes before a fall, but that pride is as old as the Fall. St. Maximus the Confessor described our first parents’ mistake as humanity’s desire to “be like God but without God” (CCC 398). A sense of entitlement produces a deep sense of ingratitude and irreverence. Once we believed that we could exclusively do it ourselves, Nietzsche’s so-called death of God was only a matter of time. We pay the costs for this in an earthly sense through the environmental debt we accrue and pass on to our children. While those dangers can be inflated or else seem a step removed from daily life, the tangible existential threat of a poverty of spirit is undeniable. Clearly seen through the loneliness epidemic and the popularity of the meaning crisis in the zeitgeist, there remains a persistent nagging of something being amiss in modern life. A feeling of being exiled from paradise. Take that literally or metaphysically, it doesn’t matter. We all experience the alienation of not belonging and a sense of unease in being made for more than what this world can offer. Amidst all this, we have reached another cultural tipping point. As an elementary school teacher for the past 13 years, I now face the reality that it’s increasingly difficult to determine whether my student’s writing is their own or AI-generated. While I watched with excitement and approval over these past years as every student in our school board received their own Chromebook — I have been using Google’s Classroom platform since 2014 — I am now looking to go full circle and return to paper and pencil. I am not alone in this. The new language curriculum in Ontario, released in 2023, has brought back cursive writing as an element to be evaluated, serving perhaps as a hint of what’s to come. Despite this, one positive element of AI’s development has been the discussion it has sparked around the study of cognitive science, the nature of agency, and of God and belief. While centered predominantly around questions of ontology, these conversations also carry the potential to reconcile the apparent incongruity between faith and science wrought by the Enlightenment. In his own time, William James argued that the way to religious experience and meaning was most authentically achieved by way of gut instinct or feelings. Today, if the conversations around AI are any indication, the mostly likely path to a religious reawakening will come by way of the mind. While it is too early to tell whether this growing intellectual assent will become embodied in more traditional forms of religious ritual, it remains our best hope to insulate ourselves against the ambiguous ethics of AI and the meaninglessness epidemic plaguing modern life. If, as Marshall McLuhan taught, “the medium is the message,” then the message for the end of the century is: slow down. Getting to the other side of the meaning crisis will require critical thinking and careful planning, so what better way to facilitate this than by reacquainting ourselves with paper and pen? Yet we should be careful that we do not demonize our forebears for the benefits wrought by the scientific revolution. To do so is to play the same game of the Fall all over again. Further, as an outgrowth of recreating the created world, the sciences are, cosmologically speaking, nothing more than Adam tending the Garden (Genesis 2:15). The problem for us, as it was for Adam and Eve, is when creation and achievement become unmoored from their elemental root. As St. Paul reminds: “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?” (1 Corinthians 4:7) Whether we can move forward having adequately mined the wisdom buried beneath the sins of our fathers remains to be seen. The Enlightenment casts its shadow, but it prospered in no small part because of a belief in the intelligibility of creation, of a belief in God. It also extended its reach thanks to the revolution of the printing press. While writing by hand isn’t a magic bullet to cure us of our modern crises, it will at least ensure that the ideas leading us into the future are our own. The revolution of the printed word served to power the Enlightenment. As we look to the end of the century, perhaps the enduring power of the Word can serve us again through a return to the pen.
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Thoughts for the End of the Century: What We...
UpTownRat
 April 28 2024 at 12:15 am
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Do you know what Molyneux’s Question is? Can a blind person identify shapes by sight if they could see when they’ve only known shapes by feel. It was asked half a century before we could even attempt to cure blindness and probably thought about centuries prior, when we couldn’t even fully understand why people are blind. Questions often come before we have the problem completely understood and well before we can even try to answer them. I think there are a couple unique ones that will come in our century. AI vs Human Creativity When looking at the visible light spectrum, when does it shift from blue to violet? You can’t really pinpoint a specific moment when it does though, just that one end is blue and the other is violet. When does a generative algorithm, “AI”, get so complex it becomes creativity? After all, you are a product of your environment, nothing new under the sun and whatnaught. Even if you do not consciously know what experiences you are hodge-podging together to create something, doesn’t mean you made something out of nothing. You were fed data, and generated something out of that data based on parameters and algorithms you yourself defined, sounds familiar. Hey, do you know what a Xenobot is? Did you know scientists in 2021 were able to synthesize a self replicating cell? What happens when you reverse engineer a human? Metaphorically take one apart, body and mind, literally build one, and find no trace of: free will, dignity, ethics, morality, the soul, good, evil, conscious design from a higher power. Did you know the brain may be able to recognize it will die but chooses to ignore it? The question of what turns atoms to “life”, what consciousness really is, in a ‘VHDL instead of object oriented programming’ is on the horizon. Will we be able to ignore it? It will probably change the zeitgeist of the people alive when the problem is fully understood. I wonder what answers they'll come to. To me, I think the answer will be centuries old by then. I think it’s on Mars, next to the family portrait inside of what we named Percy. US Hegemony and Forgetting the Past To those that don’t know what I’m referring to, the short and wrong of it is that after WW2 the US was positioned to be an economic powerhouse and so called “global policeman”. This meant that nations in its realm of influence now had a higher power to protect them from foreign adversaries and each other. Unlike most of history, your neighboring nations could be trusted to not invade and wipe you and your culture from history. This allowed most nations to spend their resources on education, commerce, and infrastructure. But this system is dying, it may very well end within the century. Do you remember the Sea People? When Rome fell? With no higher authority, who's stopping your neighbors from taking the limited resources you all share? Why are they building up their defenses? Shouldn’t you do the same? Shouldn’t you attack them before they get the chance to attack you? These questions are old though. The Bronze Age and Antiquity aren’t like what is happening now, even if the disease is the same, so a new question may be found after the disease takes its course. What causes a people to forget they’re supposed to fear their neighbors? France was being occupied by Germany less than a century ago, the French people had atrocities happen to them during that time, they committed some of their own. Germany was later split down the middle and had American and Russian propaganda fed down its throat like the child of a bad divorce. France to this day has no issue fighting even their own government when need be. Yet, there is a clear distinction between the France and Germany of old, and the “Twin Engine” we have now. Like breeding dogs out of wolves, if the US goes away and no one is stopping Germany and France from attacking each other, I don’t think it would even cross their mind. And they aren’t the only nations like this. The question may get buried beneath the rubble when the hegemony collapses, but I think it should be documented for the future generations when they’re ready. Maybe one day we could still have our nations and separate identities, but still trust each other, siblings instead of neighbors.
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Thoughts for the end of the Century - From New...
C Davis
 April 28 2024 at 02:31 am
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"The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" is a classic movie title, but it also describes the state of the century. However, amidst all the chaos, we can still find hope in people like Athena Lux. She is an entrepreneur who believes in trustworthy technology and is committed to a Democratic Republic. Before we congratulate the good, we must acknowledge the ugly truth. By 2030, corporations were covertly running the world. A universal social credit system was installed along with digital currency removing the dollar as the standard. Installed shockingly by the American government, since the United States was hit the hardest. We all remember the “The Little Rock Rebellion” and the food lines of 32. The will of the people had been completely ignored. Tax dollars were not spent not to improve citizens' lives but to actively make them harder. Funding largely complex world interventions with various villains created. Corporations controlled social media and influence directed policy, instead of our elected officials. Words were outlawed and views not in line with the correct narrative were punishable with prison at worst. Only a handful of corporations ran all aspects of the world, largely through umbrella corporations, to protect the truth. This became known as the monopolocratic period after a whistleblower bravely came forward with a hard drive that contained records of participants in the program, dating back to 1993. 14 TBs worth of data. The "mission files" included in the records were the most damning, as they revealed that the end goal of the program was to create a society with only one class, and a slave class to serve them. The program was primarily created in and run by China. By the end of the monopolocratic period, it was discovered that 72% of world policy and 87% of the world economy were dictated by this program. Additionally upwards of 90 million deaths were linked to its enforcement. Not to mention the proof that the pandemic of Covid was a deliberate act and part of a larger plan that was largely classified to this day, as well as the worst details on the hard drive. Unfortunately, the recovery period lasted 20 years, during which time the world was in a new "cold war." As a result, China was removed from world trade and all American influence. To our surprise, when the East was preparing for war, Russia came to our aid with an offer to inspire peace. As a result, we signed the "Last Defense" treaty and became allies. All technological and manufacturing resources were shared between our countries. The motto "It's a new day" was created to symbolize the beginning of a new era of cooperation and friendship. Manufacturing and innovation were shared and both countries flourished. The corrupt politicians were finally held accountable for their actions. Organizations like NATO, WHO, and WTO were disbanded due to corruption. The government was in a constant state of denial and shifted blame to the convicted. A new “deep state” was forming. Change didn't occur in America until a movement called "We the People" was started it suggested that if the outlined plans of the Constitution were followed, the atrocious abuse of power could be prevented. In 2066 a relatively unknown entrepreneur named Athena Lux developed an app called "ONE". Its design was an encrypted app with an AI that updated and ran the app, making it basically unhackable. Although the AI was not "intelligent", it eliminated the need for any outside access to its servers. The app was used to enable every citizen to vote on every policy, with various ways of authenticating identity at the time of voting. It had several countermeasures and eliminated voter fraud. The “We The People movement embraced this tech. Moreover, it helped to install a new form of government after the framework was set up by a new president, "Lex Freidmen", who came into power largely through this new movement and then signed the “The Will of the People” executive order that took the power officially away from the elected officials and handed it back to the people. A policy was proposed and then voted on by the American people who wanted to participate. The outcome was final and based on the majority's vote. Initially, some people were scared and thought the worst would happen. I remember hearing people say "This is the end, they will kill us all." However, it was not surprising to some that the overwhelming majority of Americans were good and fair people. The changes first started with term limits and foreign policy, but it soon expanded into every detail of the government. As the economy grew, life got better, homelessness disappeared, and people began to feel "happy." Citizens were given the option to work to have better lives, there still was a standard for those that jobs weren't available for, and people's basic needs were met, but a solution still hasn't been found to motivate everyone. Common sense regulations and law and order were put in place, and there were incentives for people to be part of a community. There were also controversial things, such as "Drug zones" where drugs were given out for free inside designated islands in every state. Support and security were provided, and mental health and rehabs were 1 decision away. To the world's surprise, these areas began to govern themselves and thrive. When the need to obtain the drugs was eliminated progress finally began to happen. This enabled a drug policy outside these zones to be enforced. No violence of any kind was ever tolerated in this new society. Violent acts resulted in mandatory 10 years of hard labor, but only violent crimes could land you in prison. Many people believed this approach wouldn't be effective, but communities were established and they thrived. Consequently, the cartels and illegal organizations that controlled the drug trade lost all their power overnight. This took all the glamor out of drugs as well. Drug use plummeted for the first time in 100 years. While solutions still continue to evolve, this approach proved to be a significant step in reducing criminal activities, as well as criminal organizations. So on the eve of December 31st, 2099 . I would have to say the world is in a good place. Things are meaningful again, hope has been established. Families are the focus again. Things kinda look like those old Black in white TV shows from the 50’s. We have a long way to go. I would say the saying “two steps forward, one step back” will forever plague us humans. Maybe “Baby steps” is the universal answer to that problem. I don't know, who does? I do know I am forever thankful to god to have witnessed it.
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Thoughts for the End of the Century: The...
neoplatonist2
 April 28 2024 at 04:12 pm
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For good or ill, what remains of Western civilization will decide the fate of the world, because the West is the torch-bearer for Prometheanism, from which the modern techno-age has sprung. We strive towards infinite space exploration, speed, knowledge, power and compassion as expressions of our prime symbol of Infinity. Realize this and you see it everywhere. Unfortunately, we bargained away God, Country, and Tradition, and so lost our identity. Our resultantly lowered guard let in a fresh, overlaying, technologically-facilitated culture, patterned after the master magician Aleister Crowley’s vision of the Age of Horus, when the old Father God is replaced by the liberated but vulnerable Satanic Child, who discards the old order’s values and ways in favor of the magical play of its Will. Its prime symbol is the circumambient Magic Screen, endlessly transformational of its content and of the society it saturates. The Screen whispers to us in our insecurity that all can be remade, “closer to the heart’s desire.” Enter Communism. The Screen whispers to us in our foolishness that all cultures are equal and good to welcome in. Enter Islam. The Screen whispers to us in our vanity that we can summon and control demons. Enter AI. The military-financial blob sees opportunity in all this, as an obliterated public identity rocked with alien invasion, unreliable information overflow, and a million glittering drugs, is helpless to stop the imposition of techno-feudalism. As Socrates said, democracy gives way to tyranny. Before the West is completely ruined, some might resist this, lashing out mindlessly, or with malformed ideology. There’s no telling whether Providence will allow the West to rise to its own defense. If it does, then a civilizational-wide civil war is in the cards, to crush Communism, push out Islam, and bind AI before its “inversion of praxis” remolds the human mind into the likeness of machines. What it comes down to is whether the West can enthrone the idea of man being made in the image of the Trinitarian God, and therefore creative, and therefore needing a society that fosters this creativity, or whether it will be eaten by wolves. Without Jesus Christ as the cornerstone of the West, with the “Filioque” principle of the Holy Spirit flowing from Christ, from the Son, and therefore from the adopted children of God, the infantile Crowleyan Child is helpless to resist the lure of Communism, the terror of Islam, and the deceptions of AI. Cutting past such noise, we see that the immortal Church is a kind of new Ark that--when its understanding of man, interpreted by Prometheus and taught to Crowley, is rediscovered, transmitted and assimilated--will allow the Ships of State to rise above the tumultuous Flood of the postmodern world. The great moral challenge in the world today is thus to overcome its Eighth Deadly Sin: the “contempt of mission,” the despair and apathy towards the fate of the West, and so of man and the world; and find the scattered resources, wherewithal, and courage to defend it against the bestiality of the enemy. Succeed, and infinite space awaits us, as the image on the screen is of a sublime crucifixion.
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Thoughts for the End of the Century, or: in...
liamdcollins
 April 28 2024 at 09:16 pm
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The 19th century was that in which leading intellectuals proclaimed the death of God, and the 20th that in which the common man lived out this proclamation. At the first quarter mark of the 21st, it is now clear that ours will be the century in which God arises from the grave once more. From Elon Musk to Joe Rogan, Jordan Peterson to Russel Brand, thoughtful leaders of today, even if often unable to personally find faith in the traditional sense, have yet remarked with striking frequency on the apparent necessity of Christianity for no less than the sustenance of civilization. With this trend extending now even to Richard Dawkins, it seems that it is the new atheism which is, in fact, dead. But what will take its place, and how and to what extent will the concerns it embodied be answered? Need they be answered, or will traditional religion somehow suffice? God has died and begun to appear again, but the form in which this reappearance occurs has largely yet to be determined. How God reveals himself and how man responds will be the story of the present century. It need hardly be said that this essay would have been easier to write had it been able to focus entirely on other, more agreeable topics: technological developments like AI and blockchain and social networks and cures for cancer, or "human" concerns like the need for a more caring world or even the importance of myth. Things which can be resolved back to empirical data, to fact, study, and repeatable experiment, or universal concerns in which (apparently at least) everyone wins -- in other words things about which only an insane person could finally disagree. Talk of religion, on the other hand, runs the tremendous risk of falling into old and all too familiar ruts: overzealous ("bible thumping") holier-than-though proselytizing fighting against hard cynical disbelief. Miracles and conversions butting up against scientific facts. The terrible territory of wars and persecutions and dogmatic disputes. Born of parents and grandparents who survived two world wars and the constant threat of nuclear annihilation, 21st century man longs to get along. This makes religion a difficult topic, because at the heart of religion is faith and faith involves more than mere fact, more than what can be laid out on the table and made clear to all; at its core, "the evidence of things not seen" fundamentally requires the assent of the human will. The will is by definition finally determined at the heart of the individual, and therefore varies from one individual to another. When two wills diverge, one may sway the other by its sheer goodness, but failing this the two wills are now in conflict. Religion, therefore, leads either to conversion or to war. Having seen (or at least heard about) more than enough war, we find ourselves surrounded by an urge to delve deeper and deeper into the things about which we can all agree, and hence into greater and greater technological development, finally an urge to progress past war itself. But this state of things cannot hold. Any illusions that 21st century man is too mature to allow the horrors of war have now been shattered by the advent of full-blown conventional warfare in Ukraine, funded and supplied on the Ukrainian side almost entirely by the United States, and thus at least a proxy war between the two great powers of the last century's great standoff. Simply calling Vladimir Putin a madman will not suffice to quiet the uneasy stirrings of conscience; perhaps we are not so advanced as we had thought. The problem rears its head on the technology front as well: with nothing short of religious vigor we hear voices clamoring in alleged defense of "the global environment" that we must learn to consume less energy, not more, that we must travel less, not more, that we must procreate less, not more. One can only pursue means to assumed common ends for so long, and we are now past due to discuss the ends themselves. But the discussion of final ends is the discussion of God and religion, no matter how we may try to avoid it. Shall we have conversion, or shall we have war? I suspect, unfortunately, we will continue to have both. But with nothing short of global nuclear death hanging in the balance, we would do well to steer towards conversion. Conversion to what, exactly, and by what means? This is the question too large to answer here, but it is the question which will be answered this century. The (important) answers to the technology questions will flow from it. The answer must necessarily involve a healing of the rift between science and religion, between fact and myth. What is truth? And how do we attain truth as a society and not as mere isolated individuals, without losing access to all but the coldly scientific? We would do well to ponder these question, to dwell on them with the fullness of our hearts as well as our minds. Whatever (or whomever) truth is, it will violate neither fact nor love. It will spring from gratitude, not bitterness. It will lead to self gift over selfishness, humility over pride, strength and courage over weakness and inconstancy, hope over despair. Let us then (and I know this is a lot to ask) pray. Pray together, in a spirit of gratitude to whomever has put us all here in this beautiful world of ours. Pray for grace, the unearned blessings of the favor of God, a God in union with whose will we may glimpse the slightest rays of the light of wisdom, a God whose omnipotence brought about all, and can therefore enable all. Let us pray for the grace to give of ourselves without reservation, to love others without selfishness, to speak words in accord with reality. The grace to bear the weight of all, for the salvation of all. Amen.
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Thoughts for the end of the century or:...
HallidayEve
 April 28 2024 at 10:35 pm
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Or is it? As a child learns from its actions, must we not first have taken an action before we can learn from it, and therefore can we have foresight without first having hindsight? Perhaps Eve could have benefited from hindsight; but then where would we be? However, the time for saying ‘but we didn’t know any better’ has passed and indeed we have the benefit of observing past generations to plan the perfect future where everyone is happy, with no problems, never-ending happiness, with all our needs met and no need to worry about anything at all! The End. I do not see ‘utopia’ as an antonym of ‘dystopia’; rather the idea of a perfect society seems paradoxical. Life is not meant to be easy and the problems many of us may see with today's society and where it is heading in terms of technology and ai, global governmental control, environmental destruction, disconnection from nature, the prevalence of nihilism (the list goes on) are, I believe, an inevitability of the search for the ultimate civilisation. The etymology of utopia with regards to how we should define the word seems unclear, but: "What is commonly called Utopian is something too good to be practicable” (John Stuart Mill, 1968) is, I would say, an accurate interpretation and something it seems foolish to strive for. You ask: ‘what does this future world actually look like?’ as if it can be different to what it has been from one century to the next. Will there be a marked difference between 31st December 2099 and 1st January 3000? Or is it comparable to one's birthday where the excitement, or despair, felt on the day is due purely to perception rather than the reality of the impact of a clock hand moving from one minute to another. Or perhaps another analogy could be a ‘really long day’: wake up, have a hard day at work, come home, go to bed. Daily repetition with small, exceptions allowing, changes happening within each day. There have been great changes in the world since the beginning, however life is filled with patterns and we can see these with the rise and fall of societies over time. I wonder if there is much more improvement we can make to our lives and if instead we need to disentangle what we have; edit and discard that which has no purpose and rediscover what has always been there and is of the most value to humanity. After all what are we looking for? As a market gardener and farm worker, I see things from the ground upwards. I look at the soil and feel it’s health and changing conditions between my fingers; I see the sky and predict the weather; I try to control the life of a seed from sowing to harvesting, (sometimes unsuccessfully); I try not to ask ‘why me’ too often if things go wrong, and as growers we try to react as quickly as possible to changing circumstances such as pests and diseases (organic growing), failed crops, predictably unpredictable weather conditions (UK), seed availability, customer demand (which often involves trying to compete with supermarkets) the list goes on. I have plenty of time to think and at times listen to some music or a podcast to distract myself from a mind of churning thoughts; sometimes I feel I have enough for the next two centuries, and none of them useful. But at times I will happen upon a conviction that has value, and one that I believe has been an ever-present undercurrent throughout my life is where I should be and where I shouldn’t. Or should I say: where one should be. Since childhood, fortunate enough to visit my family's farm in France every summer, I have recognised my contentment when in these surroundings; I remember the dreams I would have of being there and the disappointment when leaving and returning to suburbia. Now working on a farm myself I recognise a peace in being in the fields, surrounded by space and with my hands in the soil; producing food, one of the few necessities for living. After all, what do we generally regard as a ‘punishment’ in life? Prison: confinement and isolation from nature and people; punishment in schools: the same; bullying: making someone feel alone and an outcast; punishment at home: the naughty step or go to your room. At a basic level we all know what we need to survive both mentally and physically but somehow it seems too simple. There must be more to life! You understand that I generalise hugely and recognise that there are many of us who strive for a life of meaning and have clarity in what this means. Of course we have made many positive societal advances, some advances in medicine an obvious example, but we currently exist in a world of constant noise and confusion, thinly disguised as progress. In reality we have advice overload, ‘truth’ overload, information overload, this is right, no this is right! You’re doing it all wrong! We all know what we need, but everything is distracting us and telling us we should trust not ourselves, but these endless external bodies masquerading as ‘the answer’. Knowing when to seek help is important, but so is understanding the truest way of living is within us all, we just need to trust ourselves and trust our instincts. And so I see a group of people at the end of this century; reminiscing on the past, looking to the future. There cannot be much left to imagine that they haven’t already seen, in their lifetimes or through access to records of past societies. Rather I hope that they recognise the value of what are inherent parts of human nature: community, family and friendship, faith, a physical connection with the Earth and each other, practical skills and the ability to embrace progress which is truly beneficial to humanity, and not just pretending to be.
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Thoughts on the End of the Century — Here in...
pomp1492
 April 29 2024 at 01:28 am
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Wishing to predict the future is a common thought. Who hasn't longed to own folklore's crystal ball? Hope is threaded throughout the human condition. "I told you so," is a bitter to hear, but extremely satisfying to speak in any language. My family's friend DeVondre Wright [correct first name, last name modified] surely had sweet dreams about the years ahead, but no crystal ball. Many of his wishes, I suspect, concluded with"forever and ever." Whoops, careful, watch your head up here. This attic is sort of low brow. Watch your step. A few of his dreams may be happening right now. His grieving mother believes so. Last week, he died at age twenty-four. I met him through my youngest son. They were schoolmates for years and years. Both became fine, young men. Street drugs or crime played no role in DeVondre's life and death. Sitting here now, I wonder what predictions DeVondre entertained "for the end of the century?" Being there probably was his first one. Born in 2000, but for that genetic heart defect, he had a sniper's shot at living to say at a ripe age, "I told you so." Now his dreams about the distant future, except in soft reminiscences by friends and family, don't matter. Do yours? Already I am sure mine don't. I'm too old for "Buck Rogers" fanfare. The name just mentioned tells my age. Maybe you use "Star Wars." Young dreamers already have found a newer landmark, no doubt. Back in the 1970s-1980s I "roughnecked" in the offshore oilfield in the Gulf of Mexico. We drilled dozens of wells with dreamy expectations of success. Tremendous research preceded each endeavor. Sometimes we succeeded, but not in the Hollywood motif, with hot, black oil blasting upward through the derrick, soaking joyful floorhands. That version is a "blowout," as seen in 2010 with "Deepwater Horizon," which violated every pollution law in the world, and killed strong men and fish alike. Instrumentation indicated our success or failure, drilling for oil. Millions have heard the story about the U.S. Patent Office director of the 19th Century, who attempted to resign, claiming that everything that could be invented already had been, at least on paper and with a working model. Never have I believed the tale; however, I cherish now more than ever the idea that a Government employee would voluntarily resign with humility, having self-suspected his or her position was worthless. I won't now attempt to mention beyond the Wright Brothers all the popular inventions and discoveries of the 20th Century. You know the ream tonnage of that list. This century to date has expended almost 25% of its energy. Look at the surprises it has given us, good and bad. Certainly medicine has advanced. In Florida, where I live, its success can be measured in plastic flamingos. lawn to lawn. "Advanced to what?" I sometimes ask myself about medicine, thinking of Covid-19."A combination cattle prod-branding iron" is my best answer so far. Clearly, politics has invaded research of all types. Is the cancer cure, at last, coming to town? How many potholes, bridges out, creeping speed limits, and dead-end streets impede its arrival? Maybe a new pandemic will stop a cancer cure, or recently has. That answer will never hit the bullseye, I guarantee. A nose hair portrait of the future always has been strictly forbidden to my horseback impression of humanity. We can guess what's next, but never wrap it with certainty. The scientific claims of Turchin's "Cliodynamics" or Asimov's "Psychohistory" are stretched, college speculations with no more validity than what I think DeVondre Wright might've wondered as he lay silently dying. We'll all find that answer by ourselves someday, and make it clear to no one. Look over near the chimney, there. My true "thoughts for the end of the century" are stored up here in that old steamer trunk. They're packed with party horns, streamers, and glitter bombs; but also I put in there a box with a crying towel and a black armband. Yes, really. "Be prepared," the Boy Scouts told me. Meanwhile, until the end of us each, one and all, I believe we should vigorously strive to better the future with the talents given us, and just wait and see. There, I've shown you my attic. Let's go back downstairs now. I know a funny story about DeVondre. Did I mention that he was a big 'ol bear from start to finish? Oh, yeah. and he had a heart of gold, as the saying goes. Maybe now he really does. ^
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Thoughts for the End of the Century: Is the...
ilas
 April 29 2024 at 02:00 am
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Right now, education is digitalized. Books are digitalized. Music is digitalized. Memories are digitalized. Lives are digitalized. One day, will everything be digitalized? Is that where this is leading? One day, will the whole world be one big VR game, like in the movie Ready Player One? Imagine how terrifying it would be to be stuck, a ghost, forever, in digital form. That is how life will be. The only real things will be plants and animals, and that will be for the food they give. We will end up waking up every day, eating breakfast, and then immediately be sucked into our computers or our VR headsets or our IPhones. Isn’t that what is already starting? Everywhere you look, there is someone looking down at the Internet. People will be smarter. They will have more knowledge at their fingertips, and they will use it to keep improving. AIs will become real people. Money will be exchanged only online. Every second of our lives will be documented. The children of the future will only ever know pixels and bytes. They will not know the green of grass or blue of sky. But will this be a world we can live in? We may stay here, in the present, where technology and nature intertwine. We may go backwards, and fix the damage we have done to the world around us. We may end up in a world where there is no more electricity or technology, or where agriculture is part of everything. I don’t know what this century will bring, or the next one, or the one after it. The world could end up with no world leaders, or it could end up with more. Would it be better if there were complete democracy? If everyone of every background could vote for universal rules, would we be more compliant with them? We could communize the whole world so everyone would get enough food and money. Really, money could corrupt us all to the point where the world collapses, and we would have to rebuild it without money. We could end up in a world where climate change forces us to rely solely on technology. We could end up in a world where technology is abolished and nature is nurtured in its place. We could end up in a world where we lower the population, generation by generation, so everyone has enough. The world is what we make it. But can we make it ours?
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Thoughts for the End of the Century; Going...
KJKnowlden
 April 29 2024 at 03:13 am
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Civilizations are the end-product of humans living together. They distinguish mankind from all other creatures in that they are marked with a high degree of innovative creativity that will help him live with an increasing degree of comfort. Birds have been making the same kinds of nest for as long as there has been “birdhood.” But human technology has advanced civilization since the beginning of time. Whether confining fire to a box that radiates heat into his abode, or turns turbines to create electricity, the advancement impacts thinking, ideas, communication – in fact all of life. And each is not limited to making newer technologies! Beauty or what pleases the eye is included. Design, style, and decoration are factors that also exhibit human civilization. A car must not only get good gas mileage, have sufficient power and be comfortable, it must also be “cool” by a standard of whatever that looks like at a given point in time. Our present civilization has a new dimension to it that will mark its place in history, and that is the rapidity of cultural change due to increased speed of communication. AI produces answers with a tap on the screen; the internet provides answers on “how to” or gives information about how others think, act, dress, have sex, live, and work from all over the world! Electronic money exchanges make currency obsolete. Smart Phones make the preferred communication method through the thumbs. And the speed of change is not limited to the invention of something new, but impacts every aspect of life: our travel, our location of work, our thoughts about ourselves in terms of productivity, relatability and our desire for immediacy in solution, service, and satisfaction. So, while civilization is changing with increasing speed, human need is not. And that is because human beings in every civilization are marked with certain innate characteristics that are not limited to time or space, but are needs that express our humanity. Mankind alone has a need to communicate thought, idea, and belief. Another need for civilized humans is that of respect. I want you to respect my ideas and ultimately me! But that goes both ways. So, communication that is also marked by respect for differing opinions and ideas asks, “Why do you believe that to be true?” rather than immediately thinking a person with a differing opinion is stupid. For only humans have the capacity to think altruistic thoughts of their neighbor. And that ability is predicated on the fact that others are simply not like me. Another innate characteristic is that mankind is creative and has a desire for beauty. The way people express that is as different as each individual but is violated by having a robot do my work, thinking and creating, or where a technology enables my creativity to take someone else’s image and do what I want with it. And of course, both of those needs mentioned (and there are many others) are subject to an innate moral sense of what is right and wrong. Civilizations that ignore this or make it be based on a given cultural moment usually end up being oppressive. History reminds us that burning people at the stake for their belief, marginalizing a group due to race or annihilating others - in reality or by verbiage - who differ politically also reap the cultural chaos of violating individual rights. As a result, recognizing that man’s capacity for creativity, innovation and communication, these basic needs must answer the questions of “will this allow us to be more or less human? Does the economic structure encourage free and fair competition without belittling the competitor? Does the political system do the same? Is the justice system based on interest in promoting respect for those who are suspect, or does it immediately imply guilt without a quick and fair trial? Or is it more interested in promoting some sort of agenda? Does the newest AI technology blur the lines of what is human and what is not? Do the jobs that are created from it, disregard not only individual need of respect but the broader question of a respect for what it means to be human? Technology makes things possible, but not necessarily right by the standards of human need. So, what is a solution? Looking at the philosophical underpinnings of Western civilization, often codified as the Great Conversation, would provide a foundation that could mark the rest of the 21st century with bright hope. This would require a new direction in education, a change in moral certitude, and an understanding of what makes humans be human. And because those who control ideas control civilization, parents and educators would have the greatest impact. All would become familiar with Western thought as embodied in this Great Conversation. Households would have an agreement with Socrates’ probing ability to ask questions, Plato’s journey to make sense of the world by reason, Dante’s use of the vernacular, and Newton’s pursuit of empirical evidence and pursuit of knowledge. Teaching history in school would make insights into humanity rather than adjusting history to meet an agenda. Teachers would spend time teaching logic and exposing assumptions based on fallacy of thought. Science would not blur the lines of theory and fact, and would acknowledge the difference between mankind and animal; biology, sociology and psychology would unite into an understanding of mankind under the queen of the sciences: theology. Of course, this would have to be first established by those things believed and taught in the home. The rest of the 21st century will continue to be marked with innovation, technological advances, creativity and changes in the way we communicate. But if it is marked also with an understanding of what it is to be human and is equally based on an accepted statement of what is right, human flourishing can take place. Going backwards to the philosophical foundation of Western thought would be the best way of going forward into the 21st century.
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Thoughts for the End of the Century: Suspire,...
ruthrandir
 April 29 2024 at 04:20 am
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Thoughts for the end of the century. A dose of meeting. The graveyard rush. Tinnitus. Thoughts. Employee misgivings gone stale. Suspire. Incoming, my last swarm of irate customers from across the globe. Thank you for calling! Thoughts. Is it not a miracle today? This is Rue. How one’s well-being is at the mercy of a face unseen, a voice unheard. How can I help? Of words that penetrate even the eyes closed. Mm-hm. Where once it could have been at the mercy of Hitler. Oh my, sorry to hear that. Thoughts. What a time to suffer. Never choosing to afford vacations. Always in a nightshirt all day. Always a Filipina withstanding deadly summers. Never having to deal with, say, a Spanish Colonization for 333 years. Alas, no thoughts in Spanish. Only a distant excerpt in translation: “I have observed that the prosperity or misery of each people is in direct proportion to its liberties or its prejudices and, accordingly, to the sacrifices or the selfishness of its forefathers.”– Dr. José Rizal, Noli Me Tángere Suspire. It is April 27, 2024 in these remaining parts. As a thinker reports, a thinker, too, is 27, a day unemployed and half a million in debt. In stark humiliation to peers who have blessedly married and conceived, perhaps even to national heroes with their binding works to martyrdom around this prolific age. Railroad switch. Same train of thought. Why would a mother instill to her children they are special without lasting proof of character? Who knows? Maybe the same reason she dives deeply into solving their adult problems despite a series of unbecoming. The matter is simply too wonderful. Before one realizes there is, in fact, the phenomenon – enabling. Indeed, The APA Dictionary of Psychology defines ‘enabling’ as a certain ‘process’ on both negative and positive occasions, respectively. But for the benefit of these accounts, it will be held dearly as: permitting destruction in the secrets of restoration. An account of grandmothers enabling fathers in and out of addiction. Mystery surrounds losing families to dysfunction, propelling their individual destinies for the decade. Stewardship then beckons to the children, once they bear their own consequences for seasons and seasons and seasons, and they finally blurt out, “Man! Something’s gotta give!” An account of a caretaker enabling tenants to be 18 months behind. Mystery scratches its own head when the very benevolence unwittingly traps both parties into heaps of pesos. Stewardship lovingly shakes its head, throws its hands in game-over, gesturing round, ‘There’s nothing left to play! There’s NO ONE left to play WITH!’ An account of God enabling a most wealthy and respected man in the old East, of complete integrity, who revered Him and refrained from wrongdoing – to scrape with broken pottery, sores from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet – after raiding parties, and lightning, plundered a thousand dozen of his livestock, and consumed his servants aplenty – after a whirlwind collapsed on all seven of his young, drinking children. The DNA of mystery and stewardship, in no particular order, the Book of Job. By the time we are pulled back to the main railroad, the last century is far behind and only in full stop motion is the current universal affairs of a human being. Suspire. The mystery of a rising generation, fortunate to have enabled their haste whether in person or online so that they begin to steward correction. To have moved away from pseudo protests before the chance to think and write about matters that are simply too wonderful for us, before the chance to read back privately to ourselves, out loud, the contribution of our understanding. To have persevered in dismantling as small a hate speech over the phone, one customer at a time. Should I throw them back a fit or should I keep my job? Hovering ear to ear, heart to heart, in a tearful and final exchange of apologies and thank you’s. Before finally laying down arms. Yes, a generation reeking of privilege. Enabled to wrestle first with our appetites, to determine if we can overcome and steward the representation of anti-corruption. An unlearning generation of the rotten fruits of ancestors. A discerning generation echoing as well the Book of Ecclesiastes, there is a time for everything under the sun. A time to ponder and a time to get our house in order. A generation raised by Dr. Jordan Peterson. Enabled as a spectator for years, three to four. Today, a fully qualified cleaner of the room, servant of the house, year five. Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him demonstrate it by his good way of life, by actions done in the humility that grows out of wisdom. James 3:13 CJB Suspire. If a thinker may propose, er, it may very well, still be April 28, 2024 in some parts. Whose time is wrong? Whose time is right?
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THOUGHTS FOR THE END OF THE CENTURY :...
Genghis
 April 29 2024 at 06:34 am
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In an era brimming with declared brilliance and ubiquitous technological marvels, it behooves one to question whether this surge of innovation heralds a new age of enlightenment or merely the twilight of decency. Here, at the turn of the century, I find myself navigating through the modern world’s treacherous currents, where today’s captains of industry steer not riverboats but vast oceans of data, and the gold rushes unfold not on rugged frontiers but within silicon chips and cloud domains.Consider the high-minded preachings of climate zealots and the silver-tongued assurances of tech titans, promising the world yet often delivering little more than sugarcoated invasions of privacy. The spectacle is as rich as any observed from a cruise ship meandering through foreign ports, replete with its own breed of absurdity and hubris. Lets attempt to dissect these contemporary spectacles with a critical eye, casting light on whether these proclaimed advancements truly stand as monuments of progress or merely as modern masquerades of age-old follies. The moguls of Big Tech have risen as the new barons of industry, mining not the earth but the very thoughts and interactions of the populace, trading in the most precious commodity of the modern age—information. With promises to connect the world, they forge chains of digital dependency. Connectivity has brought convenience, yes, and an endless stream of cat portraits and political diatribes directly into the palms of our hands. Yet, one must ponder, at what cost? Privacy vanishes with each new app installation, and genuine human connections are traded for likes and follows. Amidst the clamor, a new kind of siren wails loud—a chorus of doom sung by climate alarmists, whose prophecies of imminent catastrophe echo through the halls of power and screens across the "western world" somewhat exclusively. These modern day soothsayers, wrapped in the noble cloak of environmental concern, often play out like a well-rehearsed drama on the world stage, drawing not only the rapt attention but the fervent belief of the masses. Wind turbines and solar panels sprout across landscapes, reaping subsidies much more successfully than harvesting the sun and wind. In the splendid parade of modern progress, Big Pharma marches with a banner of benevolence, offering miracles in pill form to every ailment known to mankind. Yet, behind the altruistic mask, the gears of profit grind finely. These corporate alchemists, turning common chemicals into gold, are the unsung heroes in the public’s eyes, yet heroes whose tales are seldom untainted by the darker stories of dependency and skyrocketing costs. The chapter of the COVID pandemic unfolded as a theatrical spectacle of fear, choreographed with measures and mandates that often seemed more aligned with a shadowy agenda than with public health. As draconian policies swept across nations, half of the civilized population morphed into the torch-and-pitchfork mobs they had once derided in films and literature. Now, as the narrative begins to unravel, many of these once fervent crusaders attempt to bury their heads in the sand, hoping the memory of their complicity fades as though the pandemic were merely a figment of collective imagination. With a pill for every malaise, and a malaise for every pill, the cycle of medication becomes a whirlpool, pulling society ever deeper into dependence. The public, caught between a fear of death and a hope for health, clutches at these offerings like a drowning man at straws. Here, the notion of ‘side effects may include’ becomes a litany as familiar as prayer, and perhaps, equally heeded. In yet another twist of modern progress, the quest to nourish the masses veers into the curious realm of synthetic substitutes. Championed as breakthroughs in nutritional science, these engineered edibles are often packed with questionable additives under the guise of sustainability and efficiency. These lab-concocted victuals promise to revolutionize our plates while quietly displacing the wholesome foods nature intended. Which begs the question: Are we being fed the seeds of the future, or are we swallowing a recipe for disaster, dressed as dietary salvation?In the grand theater of global politics, nations take to the stage under the spotlight of diplomacy, each actor delivering lines of cooperation and mutual benefit (with a couple of very loud yet strangely ignored exceptions), while behind the curtains, hands of power pull strings, weaving patterns of influence and control. The dialogue is polished, the gestures rehearsed, yet beneath this facade lies a script fraught with subplots of intrigue and dominance. As superpowers court socialist and authoritarian regimes, the global chessboard becomes a mirror reflecting the ultimate paradox: liberty and principles of freedom, once sacred, are now convenient props in a farce, used to undermine the very freedoms they claim to uphold. And so as we storm, almost gracefully, through the gates of a new era, one just might want to pause and ponder the path we are treading. Are we advancing towards a utopia where technology liberates and unites us, or descending into a dystopia where such tools divide and control? The world we navigate today is a tapestry woven with threads of grandeur and folly, stitched together by those who promise a brighter tomorrow while illegalizing lightbulbs (for purely environmental concerns, of course) and systematically obscuring the darker corners of today. In this reflection, we find not definitive conclusions but a continuation of the questions that have perennially stirred the human mind. What world are we crafting with our current choices? Who does this future include, and who does it leave behind? As the century wanes, these questions burn ever brighter (alas, unable to sufficiently replace those almost criminal lightbulbs), challenging us to kindle the flames of inquiry and action.
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THINKSPOT CONTEST WINNERS
thinkspot
 April 30 2024 at 10:39 pm
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We are pleased to announce the winners for the ‘Thoughts for the End of the Century’ writing contest! 1ST PLACE WINNER 1. The End of Matter by aaadedire Excellent writing, research, and rhetoric. Rejects materialism and posits an entirely observer-dependent universe. Develops thesis brilliantly, upends conventional notions of physics, psychology, and evolutionary theory in under 1000 words. Very impressive. 2ND PLACE WINNER 2. The Path of the Hearth Fire by Craig James A parable illustrating the types of generational wisdom and the importance of preserving them for the benefit of future generations. An original and moving take on the prompt. 3RD PLACE WINNER 3. Confusion, Conflict, Chaos and Complexity by Tough Wontons Posits honest, transparent leadership and institutions as only means of reigning in the chaos brought about by rapid technological advancement in the first quarter of the 21st Century. Cites deceptive practices facilitated by ease of online identity-construction and, eventually, advanced AI as drivers of chaos and confusion, and suggests that regulatory mechanisms and social conventions need to rapidly adapt to this changing technological landscape. Contest April 2024 We have enjoyed hosting this writing competition and thought it was very successful. We received just over 40 thoughtful entries on our prompt and the process of judging them was very difficult. If you want to discover all of the entries, please click on the category "Contest April 2024" at the top of the Discover page. Not only were the submissions beautiful and well thought out, but our community of thinkers chimed in with their thoughts and ideas on many of the provocative entries. As a result, the submitting writers received valuable feedback and encouragement on their efforts. We hope you enjoyed this first thinkspot writing competition as much as we did! We plan to host another competition soon. If you have thoughts about a topic for a future contest prompt, please let us know in the comments. We'd love to hear your ideas.

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