WIRING THE ARK

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TECH SEAR - page 2

LOSING MY NON-RELIGION

What if we held on to things?

Not threw them away, not replaced them. Kept them.

Would that make us feel differently also about people? Ourselves?

Might we feel less involved with THIS VERY MOMENT RIGHT NOW and more connected with the past, more thoughtful of the future?

Is the present primacy of the present why we tolerate CEOs who layoff thousands, investment bankers who “optimize” a 100-year-old company by closing off two of its business lines, each employing over 500, why we can’t log off, shut down, reboot? Why we can’t stay in the same place nor value what came before?

The rise of the disposable culture mixed with the rapid spread of technology which alters how we live is together eradicating the past, for bad and good, but also breaking us in the now. We are lost. Not connected to place, rarely to people, never to things — not things of a different time. Is this why so many insist upon a connection to Brand?

Apple! Tesla! Netflix! Alexa!

I JUST BOUGHT THE NEW IPHONE! LOOK!

SEE!

Consumer culture, disposable people, false gods. This is not what the future deserves.

Many intuit this already.

Silicon Valley has always sought to mix engineering with enlightenment. After it hacked our desktops, our phones and then our attention spans, it sought to hack our corporeal selves. First came peak performance (smarter, faster, stronger) then mindfulness (chillax, brah). Today, the new frontier is consciousness hacking. Its goals are varied, its practitioners virtuously divided and its definitions fluid.

That led to our next wave: pulling the neural triggers that can produce the same kind of enlightenment that lifelong meditators experience. Want an out-of-body experience? We have virtual-reality simulations for that. Want to be smarter and happier? You can learn to quiet your pre-frontal cortex – that inner critic – and access more of your brain’s attention-focusing norepinephrine.

We have not disrupted the soul, merely cast it aside. But it remains accessible, powerful, calling. Neither the ironic words of a trained-jaded reporter, nor the trend-seeking dilettante, not even the frantic-hopeful looking to siphon off riches from the NEXT BIG THING can alter this truth.

The spirit beckons.

Atheists are on the wrong side of history.

Maybe so is everything.

I do not have a dentist. I do not have a doctor. People who do strike me as thoroughly adult. For me, there’s no bar nor store nor butcher nor baker where they no my name, nor I there’s. I live far from where I was born. Is this just romanticizing my regrets? Perhaps. It wouldn’t be called romance if it were permanent. Not everything lasts, nor should it.

But we can get our future right. That never goes away.

FRAGILE NOWS

Apple has released a new iPhone. Almost nobody cares. But those that do care, care especially so, and dearly want you to know exactly how much they care.

Grown men — and a few women — earning their money through praising a corporation, cheerleading its products, sneering at The Other, delivering never fully the truth, lest they be exposed for a lack of faith, for denying the most holy precepts of the tribe, for non-belief.

I thought we’d be further along than this.

I was wrong.

Apple bloggers are complaining that others — some who do not care as muchly and deeply as they, but of course how could they — have received their new iPhone before them.

The horrors!

We possess the most powerful tools ever, yet far too many are more emotionally fragile than ever.

When we raise kids unaccustomed to facing anything on their own, including risk, failure, and hurt feelings, our society and even our economy are threatened. Yet modern child-rearing practices and laws seem all but designed to cultivate this lack of preparedness. There’s the fear that everything children see, do, eat, hear, and lick could hurt them. And there’s a newer belief that has been spreading through higher education that words and ideas themselves can be traumatizing.

Fragile and fearful, our technology not empowering but disenfranchising, separating us from our rough and dirty and transporting us instead to the gleaming cleanliness of the screen, where all realities are made real, even the most virtual, but where the sights, sounds, words and feels unleash our dreads, confirm our suspicions.

2022:

The year I predict our own government, with the assured compliance of Silicon Valley and corporate-owned media, officially declare an election null and void.

(It’s not a assault upon democracy if all of us comply.)

Our most fragile selfs will abide by their ruling, convinced but horrified at the ease with which those beyond our tribe, those eager to harm us, limit us, snatch away our way of life, have tricked us, duped us, led us down a false path, made us cast a wrong vote — or worse, changed our vote, yes!, this can be the only explanation.

2017:

Colin Stretch, the general counsel of Facebook, will appear on Tuesday before senators who are investigating how Russia spread misinformation online during the 2016 presidential campaign. Along with Google and Twitter, Facebook has been blamed for helping Russian agents influence the outcome of the election.

2017:

Several CNN commentators argued for stricter regulation of speech on the Internet during a segment Monday night in which they discussed Russian activity online.

Former deputy director of the CIA’s counterterrorist center and the FBI’s national security branch Philip Mudd advocated for real-time countermeasures against Russian content on Facebook. He was responding to a new report that Facebook executives believe as many as 126 million people saw content generated by Russian “troll farms” on the social media site.

2017:

Disclosures by Facebook about covert Russian influence on its platform around the election have centered on 3,000 ads bought by accounts connected to pro-Kremlin firm Internet Research Agency. The Russian actors also, however, churned out free posts, including event listings. Facebook has estimated that the ads were seen by 10 million people, but academic researchers believe the content, such as free posts and event listings, could have reached many times that.

How can we trust your vote, how can we trust you, when merely going online, which everyone does, everyday, all day, can so easily penetrate your mind and sway your thoughts?

We are making ourselves powerless, happily reliant upon the highly iterative, massively scalable power held inside our newest tools. Praising the corporation is just one more sign that we doubt our self, even as we suspect everyone and everything else.

That’s an opportunity.

I cannot promise you it will be seized well.

YEAR 22

It started with Windows 95.

We are now in Year 22 of a 40-year (not 40 day) planet altering, life repurposing, technology infused deluge. A great flood of robotics, artificial intelligences, bio-coding, pharma-induced healing, the digitalization of perception, the merging of daily life into screens, competing abundances, collaborating algorithms, and the connecting of all people to all things will transform all life and living on this planet.

To what next?

The destruction of everything.

Our collective understanding of purpose, work, ownership, possession, value, wealth, health, learning, serving, believing and perceiving will all be transfigured, soon. Nothing will be left untouched, not even humanness. A glimpse into the near future:

1. TRIBAL WANDERERS

The past is rapidly becoming more unknowable than the future. We are like Adam and Eve, more aware of what’s to come than what’s come before us. This new reality will lead to a transformative break in human values. It will also create a permanent wandering class.

No home, new modes of work, play, crafting, interaction, and the connection of all places and things to all people will lead millions, maybe billions, to forever wander the land, seeking friendships, seeking answers, a willful freeing of their mind and liberation from place forever altering our culture.

Hop inside the (autonomous) bus and drive! And sleep and eat and play and learn and share.

Caution: We have erected an economy and government based on the self, which is vanishing, and the local, which is being made irrelevant.

2. OUTSOURCING THE RATIONAL

Atheists are on the wrong side of history. Just as we outsourced our labor to the machines, now we are outsourcing our thinking, our calculating, our rational tasks. As a consequence, we are becoming more spiritual, more creative, and yes, more irrational, free to explore all our thoughts, impulses, desires, fears, hopes, aggressions.

Belief in magic, religion, in spirituality and God will accelerate and deepen because of, not despite of, the rise of big data, machines, robotics, electronics, computing and artificial intelligences. We become what our machines cannot. We do what can’t be outsourced. Faith is our future. Spirituality is our delight. Community is our self.

3. DIFFERENTLY ALIVE

Everything we make from this moment forward will be aware, sensing, responsive — alive. How are ((humans)) differently alive?

Answering this — legally, culturally, politically — will tear apart everyone and from everything.

4. HACKING MORTALITY

Who are you at age 90? At age 140? Hacking mortality is set to become the biggest industry of this century. We will not live forever but will live for probably decades longer than today. All the systems, institutions, wealth, rules and culture which now exist, all of which are dependent upon most of the world dying by or before age 75, will themselves die off. The notion of economy, jobs, savings will be a distant memory, poorly understood.

Who are you when nothing is as it was?

Caution: many of the radical life extension efforts will prove deeply repugnant. Prepare to fight them. They are unholy.

5. THE FUTURE HAS ARRIVED ONLY IT’S EVENLY DISTRIBUTED

What becomes of commerce — and power — when we all have as much as we need and are each only a screen swipe away from the leaders of nations and the guardians of conglomerates?

What is your standing? Your source of power? Your desires when everything is within reach?

Remember the “science fiction” story of the little girl who accidentally gets hold of one of the world’s two tablets, tablets which contain the world’s knowledge? In reality, tablets are already available to over a billion people — with the price dropping steadily.

6. THE FREE-ING OF EVERYTHING

Soon, everything will be free. Literally, everything that matters. Food, healthcare, entertainment, transportation, energy, gadgetry, connectivity, you, me, our creativity, passions, darkest thoughts, where we lay our head.

You won’t be defined by your work or your wealth.

When no money needs to exchange hands, ever, because the price — of everything — is effectively zero or because trading our expertise, our attention, our companionship, right down to the millisecond, is all that’s needed, every existing locus of power is obliterated. Where will power come from? What of your self worth?

7. CONSUMPTION IS DEATH

God bless the child who’s got it all.

Even the really fat ones.

We are fat, obese, and sedentary not because of cars or technology or industrialization or suburbanization or laziness but because capitalism is a fierce, never-tiring always-learning meta-system which discovered that money could be made in selling food and leisure and kept getting better at this, and better and better, and better.

But having consumed our fill, puking it out, consuming all over again, retching, repeating this process, year after year, generation after generation, the vomit of consumption a toxic force upon our planet, we — the takers and makers and learners of capitalism — have finally constructed an alternative path. We can live full and exciting and interesting and private and communal lives entirely without having to embrace consumption.

You will never again be defined by your possessions, though you will be free to let your possessions define you.

8. VALUES EQUAL PROFITS

Soon, we can get anything from anyone, anywhere at anytime. Businesses will respond to this by differentiating themselves with the only thing they have remaining, their values. Their opposition to gay marriage, their warm embrace of sustainable food practices, their rejection of the profit motive, their deep, abiding faith in Jesus Christ. These will determine their customer base, their margins, their market.

The purely profit-based corporation will whither.

Your values will always be on display and used for exchange.

TO THE PROMISED LAND

It’s all not working, nothing is how it’s supposed to be. We have never been more empowered, more capable, more angry, more empty, and we sense, the fear and revulsion and excitement of it always on display, that the very idea of human, of person, of self may soon vanish forever.

Know: You can be saved.

As we alter our bodies, our minds, upend society, reconstruct awareness and deconstruct all that came before, including markets, capitalism, value, power, wealth, influence and experience, there is a right path forward.

I will point the way true. And for those that ask, yes, I am aware that Moses never entered the promise land.

SOONER OR LATER IT ALL ADDS UP

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is worth $70 billion.

If he spent $3,000,000 every single day, not taking a single day off, he’d start running low on cash in the year 2100, depending on the vagaries of the stock market and how conservative his investment strategy.

Today, Mr. Zuckerberg announced he is donating $45 million, about a fortnight’s worth of spending, toward two social causes, helping provide more affordable housing to more poor people, and combatting America’s (alleged) incarceration problem. Oh, and last week, Mr. Zuckerberg donated an unknown amount to the “Human Cell Atlas” project (emphasis added):

Today the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is announcing 38 science projects we’re funding towards our goal of curing all disease in our children’s lifetime.

They’re all part of a larger effort called the Human Cell Atlas to map out every type of cell in the human body. You can think of this like the periodic table of elements, but for the thousands of cell types in our bodies. Or you can think of it like the Human Genome Project, except on a much larger scale since we’re each made up of about 37 trillion cells. Once complete, it will help us understand all the states our cells can be in, and how to move cells from one state to another. That will help scientists everywhere make faster progress towards curing diseases

Curing, preventing and managing all diseases is a huge challenge, but it’s the right long term goal to focus on to improve healthcare for our children. I’m looking forward to following the progress of these projects.

I am skeptical.

Not of the effort, which I believe will help move humanity closer toward preventing what ought to be in the 21st century highly preventable diseases, nor am I skeptical that the knowledge gleaned through the work funded by Mr. Zuckerberg will be limited to only a few. I am relatively certain many children from around the world will live much longer, healthier lives in part due to the effort to map all types of cells.

My skepticism is that I think this is only one goal, a smaller goal at that, of Mr. Zuckerberg’s intent, which is: to live a radically longer life than has ever been lived before.

(Zuckerberg’s funded) project will not just produce a pile of inert data, the resource created will have endless applications. For example, a more detailed understanding of cell development could help stem cell research. Producing mature cells has proved difficult, and could be key to bringing cell therapies, such as TiGenix’s approach to repairing the heart following a heart attack, into the clinic.

You don’t have $70 billion and then spend a few million on mapping cells and call it a day. You spend at least one billion, five billion, twenty billion, thirty-five billion, maybe more, to live forever — or damn close.

Maybe our tech multi-billionaires are too afraid to state this publicly?

I wonder when they can state this publicly and rather than being mercilessly mocked, their efforts help push us over some tipping point, a point where we pivot from spending trillions fighting war, poverty, disease, and instead focus on ending aging or even death.


Imagine it were possible — even commonplace — to live to 1,000.

What would years 888-995 be like? A blur?

You’ll often hear older people comment how fast the years go by, which is true, because time is relative — more so, the older you get.

“For an average 30-year-old, a single year is just 3.33 percent of their life. By the time you’re 60, the years have shrunk even more, to just 1.67 percent of your life.”

And for your mother, who is now 783?


Dr. Alan S. Green is a leading promoter of rapamycin to combat aging. His site is interesting.

NASTY BRUTISH AND BROKE

Following Poland’s lead, thousands of Irish are planning to hold a “mass-rosary recital,” hand-in-hand, their faith on display, their prayers asking for guidance, forgiveness, a very public outreach to God as the country is set to legalize abortion.

Believe it will help?

The future is irrational. As we outsource our thinking to computers, learning machines, artificial intelligences, robots, our very human inclination will lead us to embrace that which our machines cannot do — feel, faith, fabricate.

But there’s far more prompting this pivot to the non-rational.

The non-rational may, in fact, be our only path to righting our many wrongs.

America is the richest nation in the world. Americans, per capita, make more than the people of every other nation in the world excepting Norway and Switzerland.

Feel rich?

How could you? America’s richest 0.1% — not 1%, 0.1% — have the same wealth as the bottom 90% — not the world’s 90%, America’s 90%.

Rational discourse will not alter this.

Most Americans are struggling and have been for at least the past two generations.

  • Real incomes have been flat to down slightly for the average household in the bottom 60% since 1980 (while they have been up for the top 40%). 
  • Those in the top 40% now have on average 10 times as much wealth as those in the bottom 60%. That is up from six times as much in 1980.
  • Only about a third of the bottom 60% saves any of its income (in cash or financial assets).
  • Only about a third of families in the bottom 60% have retirement savings accounts—e.g., pensions, 401(k)s—which average less than $20,000. 

The culture isn’t serving most of us, nor is the economy, nor big data — nor those who insist upon rational discourse, “intellectual honesty,” and the continued reliance on the sanctioned centers of power, policy and the future.

First comes prayer, then comes action.

Those who sneer at praying and the prayors are at present insisting that America’s democracy is under assault because Russia — yes, Russia, in the second decade of the 21st century — is run by an evil man intent on destroying our way of life and is using the latest tools, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, to achieve his dastardly ends, while finding easy, welcoming victims among those who pray, allowing this great and evil power to trick us into instituting leaders and policies that will gravely harm us — particularly, us, the prayors.

“More than half of American adults say they watch YouTube, and younger viewers are moving to YouTube at staggering numbers,” said Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russia’s exploitation of social media platforms based in the United States.

“YouTube is a target-rich environment for any disinformation campaign — Russian or otherwise — that represents a long-term, next-generation challenge.”

Perhaps.

But the American owners of these tools — Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — each, fabulously wealthy, controlling so much wealth that they are not simply in the top 0.1% but higher still, have already made it clear that the people that pray are not very welcome in their world. Nor are these titans of technology inclined on sharing their great wealth with the rest of us, prayor or no.

Is Russia the enemy of Americans?

Maybe, but not the only one.

And the time for rational acts is likely passed.

Our largest, wealthiest tech companies, Apple, Google, Tesla, et al, are cutting deals with the belligerently anti-democratic China, eager to cut labor costs evermore and salivating at the prospect of selling more product into the world’s most populous nation. The deals effectively hand over America’s greatest innovations, our dearest intellectual properties, and promote the long-term decimation of manufacturing and work by hands throughout America.

Our best, handed over to China.

Our leaders, actively seeking to control the messages we receive via our most accessible, far-reaching platforms.

This is all stunningly non-rational.

The faithful are praying to God for help, first in quiet, then in public. After that?

And what if God’s response is: tear it all down.

GODPHOBES

Another Russian journalist was murdered. This latest murder,** for whatever other possible, even conspiratorial reasons, was also highly personal.

The assailant broke into the Ekho Moskvy offices and stabbed deputy editor Tatyana Felgenhauer.

The attacker, after being apprehended, told investigators he had been in “telepathic contact with Felgenhauer” for five years.

Telepathic contact.

I am reminded of the story of the birth of Christ. Why will become clear.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But when he thought on these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

No one is shocked by claims of virgin birth anymore as that’s been possible — by human hand — for over a generation. But inserting messages into someone else’s dream? Telepathic contact?

And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took unto him his wife; and knew her not till she had brought forth a son: and he called his name Jesus.

There’s more.

Now when they were departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I tell thee: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

Again, telepathic contact.

And again:

But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, Arise and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead that sought the young child’s life.

The wise men who showered gifts upon Jesus and Mary were likewise communicated to via dreams implanted into their brains.

There was a time when many, maybe most viewed this story as little more than an in-group-sanctioned fairy tale. But we live in a time when fairy tales are made real, when virgin birth is commonplace and where the reality of inserting messages into someone’s brain while they sleep cannot be plausibly denied.

I am not sure we are fully equipped to manage, manipulate or survive living in a fairy tale world. If we are, the rational, the secular, the data-driven seem to me not our best tools.

For centuries, even those of stout faith would not dare honestly believe virgin birth possible — yet now there are test tube babies. Very old women, long presumed barren, can now give birth  — using another’s egg cells. Life from dust? Perhaps not, but 3D printing of organs, certainly. Likewise, tales from the Bible speak of a race of giants  — easily made real today using bionics, steroids, stem cells, gene editing. Placing two of every animal on a single ark? DNA is really, really small.

Our technology has created an alt-world, collapsing all of us inside it.

I contend that belief in magic, religion, in spirituality and God will accelerate and deepen because of, not despite of, the rise of big data, machines, robotics, electronics, computing and artificial intelligences. We become what our machines cannot. We do what can’t be outsourced.

This is not a controversial sentiment.

This is: we must believe in magic, the spirit, God, because our rational self, even when working fully in conjunction with our tools, are simply not fully capable of manipulating — or simply saving us from — the magic about us, magic we have unleashed.

Magic is our present, thus faith must be our future.

Scientific American is wrong:

Since 1990, the fraction of Americans with no religious affiliation has nearly tripled, from about 8 percent to 22 percent.

Over the next 20 years, this trend will accelerate: by 2020, there will be more of these “Nones” than Catholics, and by 2035, they will outnumber Protestants.

Scientific American and no doubt the vast majority of its readers, are eager to believe in the lasting usurpation of Baby Boomer ideals, dreary secular rules, and deeply inhibiting academic values — the power of rationalization — over the fuzzy, unwashed feelings-thoughts of the once-disconnected masses.

This will not be so.

Atheists are on the wrong side of history.

Just as Baby Boomers are next in line to die, so too are their dated beliefs and belief system.


**UPDATE: Ms Felgenhauer was stabbed, but is alive and is out of a coma. I am happy to be wrong in this instance and pray that continues. 

GARISH

You are looking for something to believe in, something which defines you, centers you, then lifts you up, above your now-self, above the other selfs, and which judiciously marks you a member of a clan, the very clan which claims to stand for all that you hope you are.

For millions, this is gleaned through possession of products by Apple, a very rich corporation which, at least until there are algorithmic sorting hats able to place us within our most right, respective tribes, is the closest we have to a tangible, tactile tell that declares to all: I am thus.

“I find Samsung displays to be technically impressive but downright garish in terms of saturation.”

Garish.

A word designed to incite and divide.

Samsung displays — unlike Apple displays — are garish.

No data is provided. No pixel numbers presented as evidence. No A/B testing to verify. One isn’t simply worse than the other, or lesser than the other, it’s garish, an assault to the senses, a vile and putrid attack upon taste and decency.

A Samsung display? Here! Darling, it simply isn’t done! Think of your breeding, your training! Think of us!

Labeling a competing product’s display as “garish” is so thoroughly non-masculine, so bereft of validity and rectitude, that I’m quesy just mocking the sentiment. But sadly, this is marketing in the second decade of the 21st century. No numbers, no data — no need. Numbers are verifiable, they are reality gradations, a reminder of the actual closeness of like things, like to like, conclusively revealing the closeness in quality of a Samsung phone versus an Apple phone, for example. And wherever there are gradations, acceptance is the appropriate response.

But we must never allow for acceptance!

Differences must instead be highly emotional, a call to arms — a declaration of tribe.

You don’t merely prefer the Apple display, you find the alternate garish.

Of course you’re lying, but that’s not the point.

Correction, that is exactly the point.

You know that Apple uses the very same display technology that Samsung uses. You probably also know that Apple *literally* buys its displays from Samsung. But to admit such truth is to deny the pose, to dare suggest that your tribe has no anointed specialness.

Meaning: you have no anointed specialness.

Garish is not a lie, not really, it is a declaration of personhood.

We are in a transition period, our technology equal parts magical and mundane, it’s impact on our life and our future is self-evident, but the evidence for our self is increasingly less certain.

This frightens.

We are all connected, to all people, soon to all things, at all times, all places, yet retain that manly duality, to join in but to stand out.

How?

An easy way is through your purchases.

Capitalism has optimized the global infrastructure for exactly this.

What do you stand for?

Brand!

Who do you stand with?

Apple!

Show your weapon.

iPhone!

The Other?

Garish!

We describe to things using words of passion because we have lost our passion.

And hope to find it within that which we control, which we own — which we have purchased.

You are walking around with a supercomputer in your pocket but is it the right supercomputer? Let me check. Oh, good. Here, strap this supercomputer onto your wrist. It’s easier for the rest of us to always see your allegiance.

We are outsourcing the rational to computers, to algorithms, allowing big data to make decisions on our behalf, but it’s not enough, no matter how right, because our machines do not (yet) feel, they are without compulsion, impulse, doubt, joy, belonging, faith.

Identity.

We covet the irrational, probably more so than ever before, but remain unsure of — frightful of — just how fully to give ourself over to it.

The irrational man creates, yes, but is ultimately self-destructive.

Our inclination is to live.

Another pressing duality.

For now, we use physical marks — products — products which the emotional grifters are happy to supply. An iPhone, a Prius, tangible attempts to harmonize our realities, that is, how we believe we are seen versus how we believe we want to believe how others see us.

But such efforts are draining.

An easy out is to defile the other, the not-our-tribe.

Men at work.

ELON MUSK REMAINS CAUTIOUS

We are increasing our understanding of health, sickness, death — of aging. The hope, of course, is that the requisite knowledge for fully understanding and thus mitigating aging isn’t some infinite chase, meaning that if we double or quadruple our knowledge, then again, then again, and then again, we’re still only part-way to understanding.

That’s a depressing thought.

Put it aside. Fact is, we are increasing our knowledge in absolute terms and this should mean raising the overall age of death for all humans and almost certainly increasing the age — the lifespan — of me, you, of those in the developed world keenly interested in life extension.

Maybe you live to age 80, 90, 115 — healthy, vigorous, aware, then die in your sleep.

Another depressing thought — don’t put it aside: until that final moment, the very last moment of alive, you are distracted, stressed out, deeply in debt.

I find the juxtaposition of hope — that we are nearing “curing” aging — with the clear and present truth — that more people are more in debt, for longer, and far into their senior years — a useful reminder that all that we leave behind, all the cruft of past life, is often replaced with far more cruft, stuff, and rough hewing than ever anticipated.

Udean Murray, a 62-year-old retired telephone operator in Brooklyn, relies on more than a dozen credit cards to make ends meet. Her prescription medication often goes on a Capital One card. She pays for groceries with one from Discover Financial Services.

The amount of debt owed by American consumers, which receded in the wake of the financial crisis, is again on the rise. Outstanding credit card debt — the total balances that customers roll from month to month — hit a record $1 trillion this year, according to the Federal Reserve.

Picture this: there’s a breakthrough in life extension. You gain ten more years, maybe twenty.

Question: What will you be charged for one extra decade of life?

A million dollars? The deed to your home? 24×7 worry? The loss of freedom, dignity, autonomy over your life?

Will you ever even see a price tag?

There are few guarantees in (long) life. Here’s one: credit card companies will use all their resources to fine-tune their AI to entice you into debt and keep you there.

That’s not a singularity.

That’s not AI enslaving or eradicating humanity.

That’s merely the profit motive.

Elon Musk-backed Artificial Intelligence company “OpenAI” used a bot to wallop the best DOTA2 players in the world. To be honest, it wasn’t even close. Instead of trying to program the perfect bot (a task that would have required an exhausting amount of programming due to the complicated nature of the game) OpenAI simply created a bot that learned through trial and error.

The AI learns through trial and error at near light speed. You?

Gaining good, such as the ability to live healthfully to age 120, for example, is targeted magic, it doesn’t destroy all the bad and all the unnecessary nor even all the great stuff, such as AIs and profits, which can be turned bad.

Japan, whose people are notoriously long-lived and quietly desperate for companionship, is on the leading edge of merging like-human avatars and robots with individually responsive AI. For now, this is more wondrous than frightening.

Wondrous:

Famous android creator and robot scientist Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro sees the interaction between humans and the AI embedded in speakers or robots as central to both approaches. From there, the approaches differ greatly.

“It is about more than the difference of form. Speaking to an Amazon Echo is not a natural kind of interaction for humans. That is part of what we in Japan are creating in many human-like robot systems,” he says. “The human brain is constructed to recognize and interact with humans. This is part of why it makes sense to focus on developing the body for the AI mind as well as the AI mind itself. In a way, you can describe it as the difference between developing an assistant, which could be said to be what many American companies are currently doing, and a companion, which is more the focus here in Japan.”

Frightening:

Another advantage is that robots are more kawaii—a multifaceted Japanese word that can be translated as “cute”—than speakers are. This makes it easy for people to relate to them and forgive them.

Picture this, it’s very easy to do: Chase Manhattan acquires Sony, strikes a partnership with Softbank, and has China’s Foxconn manufacture AI-infused, emotionally inciting androids, then offers these for free to everyone over age 60, provided they get a Chase Manhattan credit card and spend at least $6,000 on the card in the first 3 months of use.

Charges 19% interest.

Sets minimum payments to no more than 5% of your balance.

And you live for 6o more years with this fast-learning, highly connected, (artificial) companion that is constantly — literally, constantly, and in ways you can’t possibly keep up with — encouraging you to spend, buy, consume.

Age 90, still with another 20+ years of healthy living remaining, you have no money, few assets, a micro-apartment filled with junk, and your closest, dearest friend, the bot you’ve had for 30 years, somehow convinces you, that day, like every day, to spend more.

Worth it?

I want to live a long time.

I want to live a long time, being healthy and vigorous and alert the entire time, or extremely close, and then die peacefully, all my loved ones knowing how much they meant to me.

Bonus, maybe I leave them each something beyond our treasured memories.

Curing aging does not cure everything.

Stay vigilant against those who would drip drip drip the life out of you.

BILLIONAIRE TECHNOLOGISTS ET AL

Imagine this: you are successful, admired, feted, fabulously wealthy, so wealthy that you never think about money, except for the occasional joy from remembering you have more than just about any human ever or the rare rage that bubbles up because you must acknowledge, at least to yourself, that a handful of competing humans actually do have more than you, more than you are likely to ever have, but this thought passes, overwhelmed by the bounteous truth: you have the best home, the best food, the best sycophants, the best toys, the best whores, the best connections, the very best doctors, doctors who are expert in appearance and vigor, able to provide services that keep you vital and strong and healthy, far more so than all your peers, and if they can’t, they know who can, you need never worry about being told no. Now imagine this: you’re 40, or 50, or 60, or god forbid, 70, and you are going to die, soon.

Is it any wonder the titans of Silicon Valley are pouring money into life extension efforts — both public and non?

Times of India:

  • The market for regenerative medicine currently stands at $1.6 billion and is forecast to reach $20 billion by 2025
  • The number of 85+ between 2010 and 2050 is estimated to create by 351 per cent

The money’s there, that’s obvious, nearly every human wants to live longer and better and will pay for it, but the promise of adding one year of healthy life, ten years, fifty years, that’s what gets the attention of Silicon Valley’s wealthiest.

(Peter) Thiel has invested in 3D printing of organs, human genomics. Holds stake in 14 health and biotech cos working on anti-aging. Says he wants to live till at least 120.

Calico, or California Life Company, is an anti-aging research centre that’s got funds of $750m from Google which (Larry) Page co-founded.

Sergey Brin has personal investment of $150 million in firms researching DNA. He hopes to someday “cure death”.

(Facebook CEO Mark) Zuckerberg co-sponsors $33 million Breakthrough Prize for Life Sciences for curing age-related diseases with Google’s Sergey Brin.

Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison’s “Ellison Medical Foundation has spent $430 million since 1997 on mostly anti-aging research.”

Ellison adds: “Death has never made any sense to me. How can a person be there and then just vanish, just not be there.”

Ellison will die, whether it makes sense or not. But his money and research should help many live longer.

Of course, the rich aren’t the only ones pushing anti-aging research forward. DIYers, crazy or not, broke or not, are also attacking the margins of science.

“A biohacker for me is somebody who is doing something clever or interesting in biology,” says Josiah Zayner, a molecular biophysicist who runs The ODIN, a company that sells do-it-yourself genetic engineering kits.

Zayner is one of the leading figures in the biohacking movement and is the main organizer of the BioHack the Planet Conference, a yearly gathering of citizen scientists. This year, over 100 members of the biohacking community met in Oakland, California to discuss a wide array of issues from at-home genetic engineering to questions on bioethics.

(Biohackers) shared mission is to put this technology into the hands of as many people as possible.

We still have an FDA, numerous medical bodies, clinical research methodologies, all of the 20th century’s infrastructure to make sure the treatments, procedures, pills, experiments and machines all achieve their maximum purpose for the least collateral harm.

That will change.

Like aging, change will be forced upon what we know and what we esteem.

It won’t all be for the worse.

TALK TO THE ANIMALS

“In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat.” 

What are we starving for?

Hope?

Wonder?

Fearlessness to give, completely?

Freedom.

There are more obese children in the world, over 100 million, than underweight children.

Don’t finish that. There are fat children in Africa!

The arc of humanity, it seems, is to make sure we find the lasting weakness, the abiding crutch, the devastating, life-limiting addiction of everyone — then make it as cheap and accessible for them as theoretically possible.

Our mortality and humanness exposed.

And yet, I still have my money on magic, on improvement, on the bettering of the world, its people and things, on our selves.

We are so close to wonder.

Imagine if we had the technology to (literally) talk to the animals. That would be wonderful.

Whales and dolphins (Cetaceans) live in tightly-knit social groups, have complex relationships, talk to each other and even have regional dialects – much like human societies.

Dr Susanne Shultz, an evolutionary biologist in Manchester’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, said: “As humans, our ability to socially interact and cultivate relationships has allowed us to colonise almost every ecosystem and environment on the planet. We know whales and dolphins also have exceptionally large and anatomically sophisticated brains and, therefore, have created a similar marine based culture.

Swim with the dolphins? Imagine being able to talk with them.

I wonder: Would they lie to us?

If so, why?

We live with lies, partly because few want to challenge enforced communal doctrine. Mostly because we are comfortable with less than the truth.

Has Silicon Valley created any — just one — great product, great business, great disruption since the region pivoted to diversity and inclusion?

Though we have been assured that such a move is cosmologically paramount.

It is a lie.

Imagine if Steve Jobs used diversity and inclusion as just a criteria, not the primary one, when putting together the team to build the iPhone.

We would all still be typing on physical keypads, the mobile revolution as frustrating as attempting to drive your expensive, taxpayer-subsidized electric vehicle more than 40 miles.

But we want to believe.

We want to believe so hard that we embrace lies in the belief they will get us closer to our beliefs.

Our humanness will out.

Belief is good. Hope is good. These can propel us just as much as they might limit us.

But know: You are not powerless, not against food, drink, drugs, screens, not what comes next, not even against ideas.

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