Wafting thoughts

֎ Several weeks ago mariner read an article about why old people don’t wash. ‘don’t wash’ isn’t an absolute term; the article was suggesting that cleanliness became more arbitrary and a matter of necessity rather than maintaining cultural norms for cleanliness. The larger point was that it is the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries that set social norms. When at work, we may feel obligated to shave or smell a certain way or perhaps not wear jeans or certain styles of clothing. When retired from the daily obligations of society, old folks don’t feel the need to maintain a supply of different odors, sixteen different teeth whiteners and unnecessary chemicals to alter wrinkles and eye shadow. A bar of soap, a tube of toothpaste, maybe a deodorant if the oldster is wearing diapers; maybe a sponge bath at the sink instead of showers.

The article reinforced the notion that, if any influence can reach the subconscious, our behavior will be modified. It is job one for the subconscious to adapt to the external world – that is a critical survival skill. It’s just that the external world is jammed with artificial information to take money from you or get you to vote a certain way, or maybe marry someone you saw on the smartphone. Those $1,000 sneakers would sure make me look good! It’s all about surviving in the real world – however humans choose to define it.

֎ Culling through several polls over recent weeks, he saw that a noticeable percentage of Gen Z (today aged 12-27) were favoring Donald. On those occasions when the respondents were interviewed, their feelings were that everything was a mess and, more importantly, no one seems to be fixing anything – perhaps Donald appears more rambunctious and may at least try. Gen Z choices reflected other perspectives as well, a new generation whose roots are not buried in the soil of Reagan’s indifference toward labor, feel more liberal about social mores (homosexuals, abortion, importance of college, and don’t carry the scars of the past century, etc.). Mariner assumes that Gen Z is more accustomed to 21st century electronics thereby not being as distracted as older generations may be. It’s all about surviving in the real world – however humans choose to define it.

֎ The economic, scientific and environmental objectives affected by global warming are producing a Shakespearean drama. Each emphasis is taking independent paths in response to the claims (and current validations) of a warming planet. Each claims that it’s approach is the only moral path to managing the climate. Economics is trying very hard to pretend it is helping by inventing new processes for offsetting the impact of fossil fuels by storing gases in the ocean, for example.

The scientific approach is exploring new ideas like blocking the Sun’s heat in the atmosphere, growing food in miles-large greenhouses with recycled water and vertical gardens and incorporating useless deserts and swamps to support endless solar panels.

The environmentalists are planting trees, promoting home gardening on the front lawn, advocating changes in people’s habits relating to water usage and reducing food dependence on herd animals – or better yet, become a vegan. Environmentalists also pursue re-balancing nature, e.g., reintroduce wolves in Wyoming, saving the polar bear and curtailing dependence on seafood.

Each approach is pursued with an ethical assumption about how to make the world cooler. Yet the approaches are distinctly different in how they would change human behavior. For example, economists would say “continue to drive cars”, scientists would say “Don’t worry, we’ll invent something new” and environmentalists would say “Turn back the behavior of humans”.

Stay tuned, all three  will make entertaining news.

Ancient Mariner

Myth and Mystery are alive and well

In today’s email was a news item about a new direction in data gathering. Everyone is aware that Google is King Snoop on the internet today but a new data source is growing that may challenge Google’s monopoly. Microsoft, among others, is launching AI data gathering software that can search ChatGPT products, adding scope to BING, Microsoft’s smaller version of Google.

Already, serious internet users have a number of sophisticated search engines similar to COPILOT which can search online documents for substance, not just a noun phrase.

This is comforting. Already we know that ‘official’ documents like term papers, legal agreements and corporate reports that have been produced by ChatGPT have serious errors and lack comprehension. It’s as though humans actually wrote these documents themselves. Now AI is adding second generation software that can interpret these ChatGPT documents. Does this compound the confusion? Is Donald’s Truth Social produced by this new software?

There is a mental disorder called savant syndrome (street term ‘Idiot Savant’). These are folks who have difficulty with the substantive experiences of daily life but are true experts about one small, narrow subject, truly beyond the capability of a ‘normal’ person. While the savant’s expertise in a narrow subject can’t be replicated, certainly AI is creating the ‘idiot’ portion.

So life will go on just like the old days before the internet – a world based on myths, misunderstandings and mysteries that emerge from nowhere – just like humans.

There is comfort in that.

Ancient Mariner

Watchamacallit

The more mariner reads about the depth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its ability to understand human language and nuance, the more he believes it may be up to the job of communicating with humans. The more examples of AI misrepresentation mariner observes, the more AI seems the same as how humans garble things. Does the reader think AI knows what ‘chaduin’ means? Would AI speak similarly if it were composing conversation? Would AI and Fats Domino understand each other or even someone from Baastn?

Mariner wears hearing aids. Hearing aids are capable of stringing whole sentences into one long string of incomprehensible noises. That sounds like something AI could do. Can AI use euphemisms like ’till the cows come home’ without literally waiting for the cows to come home? Some folks use AI to create procedural documents, instruction manuals and legal briefs. The odds are pretty good that these documents are no more comprehensible than human versions.

These aberrations can be entertaining but newer capabilities like replacing chunks of human brain with an AI look-a-like brain may make it difficult to to trace one’s life history. Further, how does one ascertain who garbled a word, AI or the human?

Mariner also is concerned about AI’s ability to hallucinate, interpret delusions or speak non-answers to questions. Will AI ever comprehend Marjorie Taylor Greene or Bernie Sanders? If AI can’t handles this, politicians will never be automated – mentally – mariner can imagine voting for robots.

There’s a trope that says “It’s a brave new world”; Can one be brave and automated at the same time?

Ancient Mariner

Status versus rights

Guru seems particularly interested in the Supreme Court review of a case brought before the Court about Oregon’s Grants Pass lawsuit claiming it can fine homeless people sleeping on public land. His interest isn’t so much the person-to-person perspective but, typical of Guru, he sees a philosophical issue that cannot be resolved. Generally explained, it is the conflict between a citizen’s right not to be punished for something that is not their fault or cannot be resolved by the citizen personally versus the rights implied by zoning (public land) and regulatory privileges associated with privately owned property (NIMBY and several industrial interests).

The two principles at stake are (a) the status of a person, that is, the person’s actual situation interpreted by various laws and lawsuits and (b) the given human rights granted by the Constitution. What brings the issue to the Supreme Court is the overall circumstances caused by housing shortages, inadequate retirement accountability and, philosophically, the difference between capitalism and socialism.

Capitalism is nature’s law of supply and demand: if there’s enough to go around, then all the creatures are content. If resources shorten and become unsustainable, nature  requires the creatures to migrate to better pastures or, dwindle in body count commensurate with resources.

Socialism is a human behavior largely mandated by necessary conditions (potato famine) and articulated by philosophers during the Age of Enlightenment.

When North and South America were discovered and had unbelievable resources never imagined by Europe, nature’s capitalism exploded, branding the United States as the most capitalistic nation in the world. Over time, as population increased, as natural resources were abused or over-indulged, the situation arose that there were no longer enough resources to allow for all men to be ‘equal’. To avoid recounting the history of the US in a massive tome, it is simple to say that capitalism doesn’t seem to work as well as it did in the beginning when every creature had all they needed.

Unable to migrate in the natural sense, people (and other creatures) moved to locations that at least sustained a minimal survival. And economically unable to reproduce natural resources as humans have learned to do in recent decades, particularly housing and its amenities, a new class emerged called ‘the homeless’.

So, in Guru’s mind, at the core, is the US capitalistic or socialistic? Can ever the twain collaborate as folks did during the potato famine?

The Supreme Court knows.

Ancient Mariner

Assimilation

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the main story around the world. Journalists and authors are beginning to fathom the extent to which AI will change society, personal psychology, industry, science and the human experience of government. What has been reported on recently is AI influence on every sector of life from privacy and security to health maintenance to the workplace and education.

Journalists today are beginning to recognize the power of AI to erase whole cultures thereby turning the world into one perspective, one government, one economy and one corporate reality. [This insight calls to mind the movie 1984]. The enormity of these insights is personal. Consider the following excerpt from Atlantic magazine:

“AI is positioned more and more as the portal through which billions of people might soon access the internet. Yet so far, the technology has developed in such a way that will reinforce the dominance of English while possibly degrading the experience of the web for those who primarily speak languages with less minable data. “AI models might also be void of cultural nuance and context, no matter how grammatically adept they become,” Matteo writes. “Such programs long translated ‘good morning’ to a variation of ‘someone has died’ in Yoruba,” David Adelani, a DeepMind research fellow at University College London told Matteo, “because the same Yoruba phrase can convey either meaning.”

In other words, the core life experiences of whole cultures will fade away because the only language is English. We’ve been here before; how many of us can speak any number of American Indian languages? Mayan? Has not having a broad speaking base also eliminated the associated cultures? More aggressively, remember the impact of ‘superior’ European culture over the destruction of American Indian life? Mariner suspects this dominance of one culture over others will come with AI.

Taken to a more abstract level, will AI reduce the human psyche to one profile, one behavior, one history? Some writers speak positively about this ‘phase’ being required as a requisite for a genuine United Nations polity. Many allude to technical advances and even further convenience in life.

Well, whatever AI thinks we should do.

Ancient Mariner

Yes, Virginia, Armageddon has begun

The post will deal with this issue but first be sure to read Marc Miller’s response under Recent Comments. His lifestyle is right on the mark!

Now, about Armageddon. According to the Book of Revelation in the New Testament of the Christian Bible, Armageddon is the prophesied location of a gathering of armies for a battle during the end times, which is variously interpreted as either a literal or a symbolic location. The term is also used in a generic sense to refer to any end-of-the-world scenario. In Islamic theology, Armageddon is also mentioned in Hadith as the Greatest Armageddon  (the great battle).

The Abrahamic religions maintain a linear cosmology, with end-time scenarios containing themes of transformation and redemption. In Judaism, the term “end of days” makes reference to the Messianic Age and includes an in-gathering of the exiled Jewish diaspora, the coming of the Messiah, the resurrection of the righteous, and the world to come. Christianity depicts the end time as a period of tribulation that precedes the second coming of Christ, who will face the rise of the Antichrist along with his power structure and false prophets, and usher in the Kingdom of God. [ mostly from Wikipedia]

Now that we have our Certificate of Understanding, One can define Armageddon as any extended, excessive change and upheaval of morals, economy, global upheaval and comprehensive, diminished value of humanity.

In the news today, Trump, along with a self-interested polity, economic disparity, global population issues, overdue war among Islamic nations, AI, and planet weather on the move, could be described as an Armageddon.

But in his musings, mariner feels that a big list of troublesome times is not what Armageddon is all about. Planetary Armageddons preceded life on Earth by billions of years. Focus on the term ‘end of times’. When an Armageddon occurs, what pre-existed no longer exists.  Pre-Armageddon isn’t upgraded or modified, it is gone. One crude example is the disappearance of nomadic life when money was invented, ways were found to manipulate planet resources for profit, and stationery life made survival more secure. Only one nomadic tribe still exists: in Africa and its days are numbered just like thousands of other creatures on the continent.

Bear with mariner as he focuses on circumstances that predict an ‘end of time’ for humanity.

By far and without question, the potential for an electronically based existence that will push human life into extinction, is the most potent shift that may cause a genuine ‘end of time’ for humanity. With a bit of tongue in cheek, mariner poses some phenomena.

Already, trucks and electric vehicles don’t need humans to run around streets like a loose dog. One can call a self-directed cab, get in and arrive at the appointed destination. Cab driver? Give this situation a broader context: why, eventually, would taxis need to exist if fewer and fewer people travel? By then, will vehicles still exist?

Technology exists today to make sex dolls self-dependent. They will be able to move out and sustain themselves without a ‘sponsor’. Provide them with an especially supportive bordello – who needs human prostitutes?

It is not just less and less need for humans. Does the reader enjoy the presence of their local state bank? Armageddon already is underway for independent banks. Already, large credit card companies have been absorbed by corporations like Amazon. Amazon can then control pricing from manufacturer to customer – including managing a customer’s checking and savings accounts. Then there’s crypto – no one knows what will happen when crypto leaks into the stock market; perhaps we won’t need the dozen or so humans who control stock markets.

To sustain a human’s life is much more complex than plugging into an electric socket. Did the reader know that if every little piece of vein and artery in their body were pieced together into a long string, it would wrap around the planet more than once.

Then there are all the ‘human communication’ robots. Everyone knows Apple’s Siri replaces everyone’s relatives. Then there’s the world of minions who replace secretaries when the reader calls for service. Mariner once got tangled up in a phone answering web that had three levels and about fifteen options – none of which led to a human.

The point is that electronic existence is so efficient when compared to the complex chemistry of humans that any post-Armageddon world will consist only of simplistic biological creatures driven, fed and taught by AI.

Storefront shopping disappeared long ago.

Ancient Mariner

Report from the alter egos

As regular readers know, mariner is spending the 2024 election living in a small apartment in Chicken Little’s hen house. His television in the hen house blocks news channels and stations. It’s a simple environment, though more existential because one cannot watch the news. One is free to sense reality in its sunlight, rain and snow, early blooms in the bulb garden that hint spring is nigh – and the ability to communicate with neighbors in a friendly, unstressed atmosphere. (Via his laptop, mariner does smuggle a few of the better independent news links on the Internet.)

Mariner visited Chicken Little the other day. He’s in bad shape; he trembles so much his feathers are falling out. Mariner asked, “Plain and simple, what is your biggest fear?” Chicken Little sat silent with a strange look on his face. After a moment, he said, “The MAGA people.”

“Why?”

“They have guns. If Trump wins, he will use the military to shoot us; if he loses, the MAGA people will shoot us. Trump will only shoot his detractors but MAGA will shoot anyone they can find and burn houses – even my hen house.”

Mariner left him still very stressed and anxious. He decided to visit his skeptical alter ego, Amos. How are you doing, Amos?” “How do you think, mariner, with a dysfunctional Congress that is the oldest and most plutocratic in American history at a time when everything old has disappeared, two historically misplaced Presidential candidates, a collapsing biosphere, runaway corporations and untaxed billionaires?”

“Do you have some options?”

“Don’t vote for anyone over 55 – regardless of party; throw out the two party system and replace it with rank voting; shoot Trump and bury Biden. If the US wants to support Israel and Netanyahu, the US had better prepare for war with the Middle East, which I’m sure will be just as well managed as the Putin war.”

Mariner left Amos, who is still overwhelmed by a world without good news. Mariner moved down the block to visit Guru, mariner’s super-intellectual, intensive ‘why’ observer.

“Hello, Guru, how’s the planet?” “In a word, Armageddon” Guru replied. “Twenty-nine nations have no reportable Gross Domestic Product, the US is becoming isolationist at the worst possible time, computer technology has disrupted the normal transition of society leaving society without a rudder and, lest we forget, global warming has just begun.”

If you could redirect just one issue, what would it be?” There is a long pause, then another one. “Give the United Nations ultimate authority over any international event; the world has grown too small for nationalism; cap the world’s wealthy to redistribute GDP evenly around the world – there’s not enough food, too many people and a failing biosphere.”

Well – there seems to be a lot of negativity from the alter egos. Mariner wants to leave the reader with something positive. Living here in a small apartment, mariner’s diet often has leftovers. Often, he would eat dried, tough leftovers except for this tip: If the reader is reheating leftovers in the oven or the microwave, use a spritzer bottle to cover the food in water. As the food heats, it will not become even drier and tougher and may actually be restored.

Happy eating!

Ancient Mariner

Your new BFF

Mariner has been traveling, experiencing the wonderful Southwest Airline, mid-twentieth century airports, and marveling at the cultural and environmental differences between Iowa and Burbank California. While in Burbank, he was entertained by a huge tortoise kept in a yard as a pet – about two and a half feet high – and cute little miniature chameleons scurrying in gardens. It was gratifying to find a culture rich in diversified races, different cuisine and a society that maximizes the existential experience of life.

While on his journey and not writing posts, his readership had a nice bump; it must have been something he didn’t say.

The hubbub in the news today is all the new uses for robots that contain regenerative AI code. To date, the news has covered quick ways humans can avoid repetitive chores like writing contracts, validating health checkups, writing term papers, etc. But now, scientists are having compassion for idiot robots and inserting AI applications to make them act like idiot humans. This is serious. The man below is surrounded by robot dogs. How does one pet a robot dog? Is it as cuddly a feeling as cuddling a real dog? What will robot dogs do when their regenerative wisdom slips off track? Can dogs speak English? Robot sex dolls can . . .  May as well marry a human while you can.

 

[Yes, that is not a real human – it’s a talking sex doll.]

Meet your child’s new BFF at preschool; Do little robots behave like real three-year olds? Will robot babies come from the Meta world?

Begrudgingly, mariner will face the future; it will come and the world will not be the same. But there is something insidious about today’s change in social era: Humans won’t be in charge of important personal behaviors – corporations will run the world even so much as to diminish the importance of a citizen’s right to vote.

An analogy using the automobile will clarify:

When Henry Ford made automobiles, he sold them with no strings attached. It was a human that controlled the act of purchasing or not purchasing. A human could do whatever they wanted to do with the automobile; Ford didn’t care – he had his payment and moved to making the next automobile. Citizens were the decision makers in their lives.

Today, modern communications and AI technology are changing the decision process. Every interface with every social transaction is an experience where, to some degree, your personal decision is subject to corporate influence. Every mile you drive, every destination you reach, every service station you use, every restaurant, every job location, every school or church is noted. This personal data is used to set health and auto insurance rates, track regional gas consumption that affects prices, determines your  financial status and otherwise identify you as a given type of person politically and socially.

Many years ago mariner was looking for an automobile. Needless to say, he began receiving ads offering discounts or other deals on relatively inexpensive vehicles. Why didn’t they offer a fine Cadillac? Because at the time his income was meager. They knew; they made the decision as to what kind of automobile he should buy.

What else is not his to determine? The isolation of the stock market from the general economy prohibits meaningful participation by everyday citizens. Further, computers do most of trading without human intervention.

The typical sweetness of progress today carries a bad odor. Oh, to have his two ponies and a cart!

Ancient Mariner

Beyond Matrix

Yes, our bold scientists have moved beyond Matrix. Read this excerpt from Science Magazine:

“By squirting cells from a 3D printer, researchers have created tissue that looks—and acts—like a chunk of brain. In recent years, scientists have learned how to load up 3D printers with cells and other scaffolding ingredients to create living tissues, but making realistic brainlike constructs has been a challenge. Now, one team has shown that, by modifying its printing techniques, it can print and combine multiple subtypes of cells that better mimic signaling in the human brain.”

This article gives mariner a better idea of how humans will evolve into the technically driven creature of the future. As pieces of the body are replaced, the chromosomes will be modified in a manner that will alter future offspring. This way, humans won’t have to wait 260,000 years for a new species; just a few generations is all the time that’s needed.

How will 3D printers modify the brain? Perhaps arms and legs will disappear in three generations. Perhaps pregnancy can be triggered with a radio signal. On the other hand, perhaps life expectancy will be variable, maintaining a finite population/environment relationship.

Don’t be concerned about this. Your Apple goggle reality won’t expose this process.

If anyone wants to visit the mariner, he’s in his apartment in Chicken Little’s henhouse.

Ancient Mariner

Logarithms

Yes, he knows, logarithms aren’t interesting. But the reader will have to put up with obtuse and irrelevant subjects while mariner spends time in Chicken Little’s henhouse.

Cruising through Netflix, mariner found a documentary about how everything in the Universe is connected with everything in the Universe in an orderly fashion. Humans, like every creature, measure reality in terms of meaningful increments – one candy, one day, one football game, 12 eggs, one automobile, $500 dollars, three children, etc.

But if a very large number of anything – people, number of days late to work in a lifetime, the distance from Earth to every star in the sky, the number of times each letter of the alphabet starts a word in The New York Times, etc., the numbers will relate to one another in a pattern called a logarithm. Even the pixels in a photograph are subject to the same pattern in this logarithm. What is fascinating is that the values in the logarithm are the same for every example!

Take the tax returns from every citizen in the US. Throw all the numbers in all the answer boxes together. The number ‘1’ will start 30 percent of the values in all the boxes. The same is true when measuring distances to the stars; whether one uses miles or kilometers or 2x4x8 lumber, 30 percent of the distances will start with ‘1’.

Mariner will not pursue deeper uses for logarithms. He suggests the reader go to Netflix and search for ‘Connected’. Or, if you are more scholarly, search for ‘Benford’s Law’.

When mariner took calculus in high school, the ethereal characteristics of logarithms was not taught. Consequently, as a tool it was a boring inversion of exponential values. He, remembers, though, that a different order of values was created that seemed to having nothing to do with the rest of the values in the equation.

So, what’s for supper?

Ancient Mariner