Unplugged

They weren’t speaking to me, I know it.

Although fear of social failure drives me to believe so, when I inquire as to whether generic comments others make, in person or on social media, are directed at me, the answer is no; either they were talking in general or about someone else.

Therefore, I have no reason to believe anyone is talking about me.

In conclusion, no one talks about me and I am already dead.

I had once worried about reaching this stage in my life.

Like, you know, totally, like, for sure, what if, OMG, I was never ever famous or, like, umm, I haven’t accomplished anything, like, real, you know what I’m saying?

Let’s see, where was I?  Firefox requested a reboot to install an update and after it rebooted, it opened to the tab with an open Facebook account, where….sigh….the lovely, beautiful, smart Guin was promoting an upcoming event.  Dang it, woman, why can I not get you out of my thoughts?

So, although I was dropping into a meditative writing state, I’m in another state of thoughts, I’ll go with the thoughts I’m in.

Yes, I like to dance and when I do, I give my all to my dance partner. Admittedly, for those who open their bodies to me, receptive in a sensual, if not sexual way, I reciprocate probably more than I should.  It’s possible for both the dance partner and me, the moves we share on the dance floor, the connections we make, are better than any sexual act could, would or should be.

I’ve purposefully never shared a connection like that with Guin, nor she with me.  I feel like we’ve kept it above the neck, so to speak, making eye contact in a familial way, almost like sister and brother or father and daughter.

That’s why it’s so odd that another part of my thoughts imagine us raising a child together when I can’t imagine having sexual relations with her.

To make up for this mismatched thought set, I try to help her with her “child,” the local dance group/community she has formed with which she has bigger plans.

I step in every now and then like a distant brother, father, uncle or grandfather, knowing that I have a way of taking over a room and attempting not to take over the dance group when I get involved, sticking my nose in, stomping around with my clumsy feet and stirring up the mud, but that’s just who I am.  I’ve stopped making apologies for being my blundering self.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, rediscovering recent thoughts.

In junior high school, my sister, two years younger, told me one day that all her friends thought I was weird and that I had weird friends (“weird” at that time being a euphemism for gay), implying that she didn’t like it because it made me unpopular and interfered with her social status.  I asked her which friends and she told me a few names.  I asked those friends if they thought I was weird and they said no, meaning someone was a liar.  I trusted my sister and understood that people will talk about you behind your back and lie to your face.

Unfortunately, because of that incident, I grew to mistrust other people.

Deep down inside, I think all people lie in one form or another — to be polite in social settings, to save face, to close a dishonest deal, etc.

Rare is the person who tells it like it is and doesn’t care about the consequences.

I know I lie.  Like, for instance, tonight I took my wife to a local dance studio for West Coast Swing lessons.  I didn’t really want to be there; after the lessons were over, open dancing began and I made a false excuse to leave, in order to avoid dancing with other women and having to look them in the eye, leading me to want to seduce them on the dance floor and attract sexual attention just when I promised myself I would stop doing that.

Of course, my wife knew my lie — that I had a sore ankle — was probably false but she accepted the lie because it’s part of being a social animal, feigning an injury to avoid confrontation with another animal.

I haven’t figured out how to dance socially and avoid the sexual animal inside me [deja vu — how many times have I thought or written that?].  Does that have anything to do with my sister calling me weird?  There doesn’t have to be cause/correlation for everything, does there?

Anyway, back to my meditation.

Reaching down within myself, sensing no “fair” cause and effect in society/culture, letting go of cultural practices of imposing fairness rules (including government, sports and religion), knowing that I am who I am, which has recently included thought trails linked to social media posts, taking me away from living at a higher level of thought — more abstract, less personal…

Forgetting who I am for a moment.

Seeing how this solar system’s arrangement of sets of states of energy are progressing, looking “forward in time,” as the saying goes…

Without the trickery of religious miracles, scifi time travel machines, magic, faster-than-light-speed space travel…

Hearing the change in the tinnitus tones in my thoughts…

Feeling myself hunched over the laptop keyboard…

Smelling the mold that is in the sunroom after heavy rains forced water through sunroom roof crevices…

What separates a set of algorithms that can coordinate to rewrite themselves creating something we can’t recognise from what we call consciousness as exemplified by living creatures such as humans, birds, and forests?

If I remove myself as an individual from my thoughts, removing everyone as individuals from my thoughts, what do I see?

The patterns that emerge include the rubbish we create — in nature, nothing is wasted, there is no trash, no treasure, no rubbish, no junk, no landfills, no toxins — everything we touch, everything we create, everything we destroy is the same.

By embracing what others have called optimistic nihilism I have been able to see the future more clearly.

Global warming, high un/deremployment, massive species extinction — these are concerns of a single species on a single planet — the universe is benign.

The transportation of people, of goods and services, for the act of global trade between members of our species, essentially the movement of sets of states of energy, what value do we gain by decreasing overall the amount of transportation?  How do we change the model of the profit motive to accomplish such a feat?  What would Maslow have to say about altruism today?

Thoughts to ponder as I close this blog entry at 2:21 a.m. on Saturday morning.

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Autopolis

The cat’s out of the bag, and no, it’s not Schrödinger’s cat.

My team has elected the next project leader for the next project, an autonomous greenhouse, which is basically a building-sized robot that feeds itself and grows/harvests food for humans.

Interestingly enough, but not surprisingly so, they chose a project management algorithm to lead the project, giving over all decision making and late night number crunching to a software team member who/which won’t need weekly meetings or summary reports to get its point across when fingers are pointed toward the causes of failures in achieving project goals.

The algorithm already mines Bitcoins to generate revenue for the project so cost has all but been eliminated from concerns on this project.

Practically eliminating humans from the design and construction phase reduces labour costs; so, too, during operation and maintenance.

The algorithm has a flexible set of milestones to complete the design and construction, this being a new project for all involved.

I trust my team.

However, I’m building my own scale version of this to compare one human’s design to that of an algorithm.

In my case, cost is of paramount importance, labour cost is primarily my free time and schedule is within a few weeks/months depending on weather conditions and my free time.

Wish me luck!

Metal hinge

I was a teenage script kiddie.

Go ahead, laugh at me, I can take it.

Motivated by love for a friend of mine, a future computer engineering genius, I emulated his coding skills, mimicked his sense of humour in programming comments, hoping he’d approve of my own cleverness.

He never did, ridiculing my lack of originality, accusing me of merely being an engineer whilst he was the true scientist exploring uncharted territory through scientific experimentation.

He saw me as his assistant, the comic sidekick who was good-looking, able to score funding from parents and friends via my charm and personality.

In other words, he couldn’t live without me for a couple of years.

He wouldn’t admit he loved me, too.

Fraternal love, is it different than romantic love?

Do plant roots love rain?  Can they distinguish water falling from the sky, which has collected minerals in the air in its gravitational journey toward the center of our planet, from river water? Do they understand concepts of inflow and infiltration?

Every time I work on electronic equipment, in the back of my thoughts I think of Joey and the joy we shared building our first CPU-based systems, having “graduated” from single transistor and R/C/D (resistor/capacitor/diode) based systems. 

I say I build these systems now for Guin and Shelmi.

And I do.

But I also honour older relationships.

It is who I am, connected to sets of states of energy which no longer exist, knowing as we do that friends we had 40 years ago are not the same persons whose names they keep perpetuating.

The electronic dance partner taking shape in my laboratory will remain essentially the same throughout its period of utility.

Do we see what that means in how we define living systems?

Rate of change.

Labels.

Sets and subsets.

Summer solstice — would entities on other planetary systems understand that phrase?

Do I?

This planet, Earth

On the middle part of the North American continent, with noncontiguous parts involved, a 24-hour period of time set aside to remember dead humans who swore to protect and defend a social group, an organised cultural entity called a government named the United States of America.

On this day, many celebrate family ties.

Some, like me, spend time with family but also spend hours in a work shift collecting blood from donors to save lives of civilians and government military workers as needed.

Our species is built to compete against and cooperate with members of its kind for planetary resources, resorting to organised violent attacks sometimes.

Remembering the sets of states of energy no longer actively participating in our daily lives helps us relearn what they learned but also to live and learn more.

The apparent opposite poles of war and peace are illusions.

We flesh eaters burn a lot of energy, that is all.

How we burn energy in the future is the debate of which I’m most interested today.

The dead and fallen give us the right and permission for such a debate any day, of course.

Let’s start now…

Summer Chill

Lee first noticed the reddish-brown algae on aquarium glass, like an ochre smear left by a fish rubbing up against the clear aquarium wall.

For months, the smear changed neither size nor shape.

A second spot appeared, outside the aquarium, as if the algae had grown through the glass.

Lee shook off his imagination. Algae can’t grow through glass.

But what is glass, really?

Isn’t glass a type of silica liquid?

Lee strained his thoughts to recall his chemistry classes and lessons in chemical compositions.

Glass is an electrical insulator, a solid vessel for liquids.

So how did algae get on the outside?

He traveled out-of-town for a few weeks and forgot about the algae.

Or he was going to forget until he noticed, after staying a few days in the same Airbnb rental for a week, that the glass wall of the bathtub suddenly showed a same reddish-brown spot similar to the one at home.

Lee sat on the toilet seat and pondered the situation.

In his travels, curiosity seekers asked him for advice, familiar with his work investigating the macabre.

Less than a year before, a being that seemed human but smelled otherworldly showed him an orb of unknown origin.

The roundish ball was cracked.

Lee carefully examined the crystal clear sphere with his bare eyes. Normally, he would use a pocket magnifying lens but he’d only left his rental for a relaxing walk in shorts and a T-shirt (“T-Rex couldn’t fly but he soared above his competition!”) when the smelly stranger approached him at the entrance to a local walking path.

“What do you make of this?” A clawlike hand reached out from under a serape and handed him the glass object.

Lee loved surprises and took the grapefruit-sized ball from the stranger’s hand, rolling it around in his palm to feel its texture, weight and temperature.

But there was something about the object that startled him, almost as if tiny fingers had reached out of the hairline crack and serrated the skin of his forefinger.

He switched the orb to his right hand and brought his left forefinger up close to his eyes.

Sure enough, he’d cut himself.

There was no blood of his but there was an odd stain.

He mentally wrote off the stain as dirt that had he had rubbed out of the crack in the glass. 

Until today.

What had the stranger said to him? “Those who can’t see the future are doomed, unless the Future wants them to see it.”

He had noticed a preternatural disposition to see the future the last few months.

Was the ochre stain a type of fortuneteller?

If it was everywhere, it would, theoretically, have access to the interconnectedness of everything.

Could it be the key he sought to open the door that shows time is an illusion?

Single-celled organisms were known to communicate with each other as one.  They had thrived on Earth for hundreds of millions of years.

What did we know of extraterrestrial beings surviving space travel, crossing galactic distances as streams, swarms or colonies of single-celled organisms?

Were they sending him a message, and if so, why?

Why now?

He had a lot to ponder, an ochre stain to study in his lab when he got home.

Another mystery to solve!

Pushing through the muck

Lee had not forgotten about life on Mars.

The colonisation process occupied the widest path in his thoughts.

Lee practiced being human and detoured from the path to remind himself of the frailties he once faced daily.

He reminded himself of love, what it was like to converse in realtime without the safety of the Internet between two people, having to see into each other’s smiles, smell each other’s bodies, risk tripping over words and word meanings.

But Mars was always there.

He challenged himself and the team to make AI entities more humanlike for the human tourists who visited the Moon and Mars.

Not “uncanny valley” human.

Less mechanistic.

More compassionate and understanding, able to read emotional states in silent interchanges between AI and humans.

Not just behavioural science but a more scientifically holistic approach to human-machine interface.

How to understand unspoken painful memories.

How to interpret sarcastic statements without knowing the socioeconomic subcultural history of the speaker/writer.

Lee expected perfection and settled for nothing less.

He set the example of himself to the team, willing to face his own deep, dark secrets and painful memories to program and test AI algorithms against the rest of the team, refining the code so that it was not tuned to a single personality archetype or body type.

He had been an artist from childhood.

But he was also a scientist and engineer.

A computer engineer and social engineer.

Computers programmed to perform only a few functions could be seen as megalomaniacs and single-minded narcissists from the wrong perspective.

Lee preferred the 360-degree view.