WIRING THE ARK

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THE FUTURE HAS ARRIVED ONLY ITS EVENLY DISTRIBUTED

MATRICULATE

My biggest professional regret? Never able to convince former Yahoo CEO Marisa Mayer to waste $50 million on me. Seemed like she handed out cash by the millions to anyone who happened along with a bad idea or bungled business plan.

Guess I was just too good for her.

Too straight, too narrow.

Blame it on college.

Which may no longer be a viable excuse.

Because college may simply no longer be needed, not for the real, not for its fake.

The industrial revolution let us outsource physical labors. The thinking revolution lets us outsource rational effort. Crazy is our future. You can’t teach that. Now throw in YouTube, coding academies, AI, a million bots, all of the Chinese, three hundred million just-as-smart but much harder working Indians, plus this apparent need for line cooks, plumbers, electricians and underpaid outrage peddlers on Twitter, and it’s plain to see that the business of college — learning as an industry — is in the midst of a massive disruption.

There are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States, but Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen says that half are bound for bankruptcy in the next few decades.

Heh.

In his recent book, “The Innovative University,” Christensen and co-author Henry Eyring analyze the future of traditional universities, and conclude that online education will become a more cost-effective way for students to receive an education, effectively undermining the business models of traditional institutions and running them out of business.

I will shed no tears.

In search of dollars and powers, colleges politicized themselves, becoming one of the largest partisan donor classes in America. They gave good jobs with great benefits disproportionately to individuals of sanctioned groups, got bloated and bellicose off hardworking taxpayers, conned parents and children into believing they were gatekeepers to the future, and happily joined in the grand parade to denigrate our culture and deride our greatness. Sooner they collapse, the better.

Then what do you do?

Where goes your future?

Hit the road.

You may have no better choice.

You, your mate, your friends, others, buy a bus — or, if this is being read ten years from now, an autonomous bus — and drive the roads, seeking work, constructing an economic unit, maybe creating a happy little cultural ecosystem, using Twitter, Snap, even Facebook to promote your homemade wares, reveal your various talents, to barter, build, play, keep safe. Live in the bus, play in the bus, sleep in the bus, all as the vehicle’s AI drives you from Cleveland to Dallas, from Flagstaff to Vegas, Alaska over to Russia, no need for a house payment, no need for a house, everyone sharing expenses as best you can, learning from one another as much as you can.

The nomad lifestyle is upon us, and soon as simple and then-obvious as Uber:

Founded in 2016, Cabin (formerly known as SleepBus) recently launched a chartered bus service between SF and LA that allows passengers to fall asleep in one city and wake up in the next — for about $100 one-way. The logistics are a no-brainer: Get in, grab a bunk, and snooze.

The flat rate makes it more affordable than flying and potentially more convenient than driving, but only if you can handle the tight quarters and 23 passengers aboard the double-decker bus.

The economy is being deconstructed, the cultural gatekeepers are going under, technology is destroying everything, all of which means various pods of people, activity, creativity and community will sprout up, some stationary, many mobile, and I dearly hope this leads to something better. I really believe it can. Less consumerism, less waste, less quiet desperation, more acceptance.

The past is gone, or soon will be, and its gone-ing will be massive and permanent. Shed a tear if you like, romanticize it if you wish. It’s not coming back, not in a form the past would recognize.

You’re the next. You get to build the future. Do it better.

You don’t need a house, a mortgage, a car, the trappings. Literally, these are called trappings! The world at present is poor and bound. Be poor and boundless, start there.

JD

Technology is enabling us to extend our life, awaken our spirit, exit the past, direct our consciousness, and build a future, as well as destroy all who are now and everything that came before. I won’t let that happen.

But for now, let’s talk about baseball.

Knowing they wouldn’t make the playoffs, and needing to shed salaries, the Detroit Tigers shipped off much-loved outfielder JD Martinez to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Perhaps you care, probably you do not.

The 30-year-old Martinez is now up for a new contract. He is seeking $30 million a year over 7 years. $210 million.

And Al Kaline wept.

Imagine Mr. Martinez gets only $20 million a year for 6 years. $120 million. Now imagine half of that is taken away by the government — $60 million.

Now imagine his agent and various others take $20 million.

He’s now at $40 million.

Let’s say he blows $10 million on foolish investments. $30 million.

His wife leaves him, taking most. He’s left with only $10 million.

For playing baseball.

Still more money than at least 95% of everyone, maybe 99% of everyone on the planet earns in an entire life of working.

In 1976, before most Americans were born, Reggie Jackson, one of the greatest to ever play the game, signed a five-year deal with the New York Yankees for $3 million — just over $500,000 a year.

Baseball, was stunned. Ditto, the cultural landscape.

The world is changing faster now than it did in the 1970s, I suspect.

We can’t predict where value will come from in ten years or twenty, certainly not thirty. Nor do we know what is well valued now that will be shockingly high-valued in 2034, say.

Writers have been casually documenting the destruction of businesses, industries, manufacturing, even salaries of others, but now are in tears over the destruction of wealth and the re-routing of value in writing and journalism.

The letter was from Joe Ricketts, the billionaire owner of Gothamist and DNAinfo. At the URLs of both sites was a statement in which Ricketts explained that he was closing them because they weren’t profitable. “I’m hopeful that in time, someone will crack the code on a business that can support exceptional neighborhood storytelling,” he wrote. Reading the letter, Whitford told me, “I burst into tears. It could not have been more abrupt or brutal.”

Had they spoken up before about the loss of jobs and opportunity throughout the country, no doubt they might have garnered sympathy today.

Well-compensated magazine editor Tina Brown lived large on even larger but now demands private industry fund her lesser colleagues chosen career path.

I do worry very much about the business model. I think it’s high time that Facebook and Google created a vast philanthropy fund to fund journalism. They have stolen so much that it’s high time they gave some of it back.

This is never going to happen.

But this post is not about hypocrisy nor even comeuppance.

Your job is also going away, and no, you can’t be retrained. You’re 36, three years into a mortgage, with 2 children. If you could be retrained, you would have long ago jumped at the chance. But if it makes you feel better, know that everyone else lives similarly — by choice, oddly enough.

And like you, they will also be out of work.

The upcoming worldwide workforce reckoning that artificial intelligence is expected to bring will happen much sooner than many experts predict, the former president of Google China told CNBC on Monday.

Kai-Fu Lee, now chairman and CEO of Sinovation Ventures, believes that about half of all jobs will disappear over the next decade and be replaced with AI and the next generation of robots in the fastest period of disruption in history.

In response to the coming AI reckoning, there is a push by Big Thinkers to put us all on the dole, “give” everyone a monthly stipend. This is bad policy.

We each need a mission, that’s why God put us here. We each desire a role, that’s hard coded into our DNA. But there’s more than that. We can’t surrender to our technology, we — not it — should decide the future. We, not it, determine value and value distribution. But should we fail at this most human of tasks, policy should not be to give everyone a monthly paycheck. Instead, make sure everyone has an actual job. Perhaps the government sector becomes an even larger proving ground for people who otherwise couldn’t find a “job.” That’s a start. That gets us each out into the world, bumping up against one another, it reminds us of our need to contribute, reveals to us the plight and lives and ways of others, and just might spark an idea that leads to improving our lot.

Hunger motivates, movement inspires.

And humans either control the future or surrender also the present.

A CRY FOR HATE

Hate is not all that we have left, but it remains the easiest we have left, and a declaration of our humanness, our aliveness, still, because ours, unlike all before us, is a world of superpowers, superpowers for all but with none of them under our control, this is true, think about it, a supercomputer in our pocket, in everyone’s pocket, a super earth-overlaying computing machine accessible with our voice, soon our face, and yet our own life, our own relevance, increasingly less so, buried beneath data and consumption, screen times and keywords, we tease our psyche, we rage against the machine, awed by it, fearful of it, hopeful through it, and even marvel that the very makers of the machine have themselves lost control, a few clever Russians confounding its algorithms, handfuls of sheltered and damaged teens manipulating its global discourse, the giddy unmasking of our truths, revealing our darkest, some do it for dollars, some for fuck it, the collective toxicity leading Americans to take aim at one another, an emerging civil war pitting one against one, all against all, for no better reason than our impotence at forcing the Other to acknowledge us, agree with us, be like us, accept like us, deny like us, faith like us, nothing else left, our ability to build, construct, create rapidly slipping away, despite all the superpower tools availing themselves to us, each of them starkly reminding us we are now serf to the Machine, we may access Giant Brain, beckon Comfort Voice — Alexa, play Mozart’s concerto for flute and harp — and instantly recognize its beauty, but just as instantly become distracted from its glory, a new tweet, a new share, the newest recommendation, barricading us from creating anything so grand as before, and so instead we make it money money money, ass ass ass, pussy pussy pussy, kill kill kill, the pharma taking hold, the lies keeping steady, but its all so fragile, like our phones we’ve hit the pavement and we get up cracked, but there’s no time for a fix, no money for a do-over, the shattered pebbles of glass weaving into our flesh, like digital bits into our brain, we stare at the broken screen, see our self, seek our self, look, look at me, see, see me, hear me, validate me, with the return response enough to keep us tethered, spinning wheel, food pellet, life on view, isolated, behind the glass, but we push forth, confident, we are the future and the future is vast, open, so open there can be multiple genders, or none at all, we can transform our sex, delete our past, erase our tracks, edit our genes, hack our brains, animal organs supplementing us, electronics enhancing us, boundless potential, but none of it nearing our soul, none unbreaking our spirit, because we like our spirit are just one, and just one in this world no longer matters, not when the aggregate knowledge, the ruling algorithm, the one screen, the Giant Brain and the Comfort Voice are always there, watching, listening, waiting, and altering how we view our self, how we view each other, making it almost impossible to even perceive value in the one, which we acknowledge makes sense because the aggregate world continues to get better, more democratic, more prosperous, we are sure of this, at least enough of the time, but people want to matter, some especially so, matter so much they embrace hate and death and killing and no, of course making sure everyone matters won’t stop this week’s mass murder nor next week’s, nor end gun crimes, nor prevent suicide, but the farther we arc our worst to the margins the better, that’s how we move ahead, but I get it, this is also the age of the non-rational, we have outsourced our thinking and calculating and decision-making to the machine and, as humans always do, we instead do what our machines cannot, and so that means crazy, emotional, faithful, joyful, hatful, violent, tribal, let the computers and processors and AI and Big Data and algorithms take care of the non-optimized human functions, I understand, I know that I can’t appeal to you using data or numbers or facts because those are already available to you whenever you wish them, which is why I will step into the irrational, me, here, to see you, hear you, touch you, to maybe help you so you can maybe help me so we can maybe help everyone find our way through this madness, a madness we did not create but which hatched from our response to our creations, so okay let’s do something to end all this hate, all this violence, to limit the mass shootings, because what if — think of this — what if all those people standing outside of abortion clinics for the past 40 years, the people we ignored or mocked, what if that’s now us, every single one of us, we are all now on the sidelines, resolute perhaps, righteous certainly, but changing nothing, not a thing, even though we know it’s all wrong, it’s profoundly wrong, it’s killing us, killing our soul, only it’s not some amorphous concept like unborn or fetus or clump of cells or, let’s face it, very few of us want to have a child when we’re not ready or don’t want to be with that particular person, not anymore, or if, god forbid, there’s something gone terribly wrong in it, poor thing, it happens, but I think of those people standing there along the walkway to the abortion clinic and wonder if that is the fate of all of us so that decades later we’re still killing off one another, innocent and non-innocent alike, because we couldn’t bring ourselves to solve the painful, we couldn’t place a hard stop on our selfishness, we could too easily look away, until 2057, say, when the mass shootings are over 100 persons each time and it happens 3 or 4 of 44 times a week, which is why, following yesterday’s mass killing, I’m now okay with any and every restrictive gun control laws you propose, seriously, have at it, even though I am skeptical it will do much good because I don’t think this is about guns, not really, instead we are dealing with a new breed of serial killer, the kind that can only bubble up in this toxic brew, but go ahead, please, try, try anything, ban, destroy, never again make AR-15s, or automatic weapons, or semi-automatic weapons or any of the other weapons that we label as automatic and semi-automatic but which aren’t but which doesn’t matter because regardless of what kind they are or make they are they bring easy death in mass numbers, because I know we have to try, we have to try to ban these things, destroy these things, not because it will end this but because we must take a stand for life, we must take a stand that we are in charge of our creations, and we must likewise make it plain to all that once these bans are in place there will still be those who try — and, sadly, succeed — at killing many, but that’s acceptable in a sense because only then, after all the rage and troll comments and posturing and laws, and failures, only then will we realize that we must restore our spirit, that’s where our focus must be, and we won’t restore nor re-affirm nor renew nor rebuild our spirit until this truth is out and clear to us, which dear God I hope is soon.

CHEAPER THAN A DOG

Your name is Prosody.

My name is Prosody, she replied.

No!

The man struck her. You sound much too timid!

She tried again.

My name is —

Smack!

You sound like you’re unsure!

There were tears. She was only 7, barely two feet tall. She smiled, but you could sense she was deeply hurt.

I don’t like you.

Why don’t you like me, she replied — then was punched this time, eliciting another howl, then pleading. Please, stop! Get off. Please!

A voice from behind the glass spoke. Sounds fake.

If you play with me then I will like you.

She rushed to the small table, eager. I like to play!

That’s not where you’re supposed to sit!

There was an audible whimper. She slowly got off the chair. She stood, trying hard not to cry, failing.

You know where you’re supposed to sit!

The tears began streaming down her pudgy cheeks. She did not know where she was supposed to sit.

Can I sit here?

Another voice from behind another glass. Now she sounds too human.

You’re too fat to sit there.

I wish I wasn’t fat.

You are fat! Fat and stupid! We are not friends!

Please be my friend! She rushed in close for a hug.

The man looked toward the glass. I think she’s ready.

The perfect companion. Even for the problem children.

For $50 you can’t expect perfection.

Still, cheaper than a dog.

THE METEOR HAS STRUCK

Wounded cynics and disbelieving optimists, our tools enabling both, accelerating their worldview, but what of the rest of us?

The mad, crazed, hopeful, bold and entirely credible efforts to hack mortality, disrupt death, and radically extend the use by date of the human form are underway, maybe they reach us, maybe they reach our children, but we remain stuck in traffic, upset with our spouse, angry at work, less fulfilled than the magic surrounding us should make possible.

What’s missing? God? Certainty? Movement?

Have the toxins in our air, our water, our food, our culture so polluted our spirit?

Made worse by the 20th century hold upon our collective activities, the way we still go to work, go to school, tend our yards, yet knowing how thoroughly of the past these are, but what’s next has yet to happen.

But what’s next is coming. That we know.

The spread of computing into every device and across every human interaction changes everything and everyone forever.

It began 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, and the connecting of all people to all things offers the grandest opportunity ever for unbounded human potential. And is a test of our soul.

We know this to be true.

We reach out.

A great awakening is on the horizon, kindling our spirit.

Belief in magic, religion, in spirituality and in God will accelerate ” and deepen ” because of, not despite of the rise of big data, machines, robotics, electronics, computing and artificial intelligences. We always become what our machines cannot. We do what cant be outsourced. Faith becomes our future. Magic our delight.

Our technology, edging us closer closer closer to possessing the godly powers listed in the Bible, validates our faith, does not deny it, thus revealing Gods presence ” while separating us from all who came before.

We are unsure what to do next, where to go next, how to live next.

I do not know if you will travel into space, own a flying car, live a portion of your life in a sealab at the bottom of the ocean. I doubt you will ever have intercourse with a sexbot, vacation in a holodeck, or live to 120.

But the people next will.

They will be unlike us, live unlike us, perceive unlike us.

The meteor has struck.

The sky is dark.

Time is running out.

Leave deep prints.

The other stuff won’t matter.

AN IMMORTALITY OF REGRET

I understand there are many questions here, but you don’t want an immortality of regret, the more complete your answers, the better, better still, your responses can be written, verbalized, accepted via brainwave response, noted from changes in skin, body temperature, facial expressions and breathing, but completeness is vital, it’s okay to lie, we measure for that, it’s helpful, in fact, now first, picture the sky, interesting, now picture the sky on a sunny day, excellent, human emotions are fascinatingly complex, at least to me, and the more we understand yours, the more we understand you, then when we upload your consciousness, don’t worry, it’s hard for any of us to fathom immortality, you — that you — will be more you than not you, it’s the emotions, the feelings, these are simply data which we can digitize and which separates each of us, like different files, or two drafts of the same document, if you prefer, so I can assure you it best for us to fully monitor your response to the various stimuli, assess your nervous function, your physiological responses, now think of how you feel about your mother, now how you feel about that man you call father, good, now touch yourself, go on, and let yourself accept how that makes you feel, this device stabs your thigh, see, you’re trying not to cry, that’s not exactly like everyone else, you’re different, now you feel sick, that’s from the medication we inserted, soon you will have a rather explosive bowel movement, I assure you it’s necessary, and your relief will be different than others, this image sickens most of us, but this image is calming, this sound is considered the most terrifying we possess, odd how your reaction was so alike all the other’s we’ve assessed, I’m sorry for that, but a nerve-splitting surprise remains one of our very best tools for understanding an individual, surprise, disgust, the thoughts we have when we’re extremely hungry, which the machine is inducing in you right now, these are invaluable, and the way you interact with others, others you are familiar with, others who are strangers to you, understand that emotion is primary and if we are to replicate that sense when you are digitized, we must carefully map the data, no, there is no need to measure boredom, nor suffering, good question, there are many realities you will never face in your new plane, happily so, like boredom, the fear of death, rage, compassion, embarrassment, such things will be left behind, emotions were necessary for human reproduction, and therefore human survival, and while it’s true they are not necessary where you are going forever, the first two generations of humans that were uploaded all melded into a single entity, and this was because their emotions, so uniquely individual in the physical self, were not adequately incorporated into the digitization process, that’s no longer the case, and that’s all we need, see, I told you it would be fast and not terribly uncomfortable, the only remaining issue now is when should we upload your consciousness, some like to have a formal celebration before leaving their bodies, that’s entirely up to you, of course, though I would remind you both that the sooner the better, we can’t resurrect a consciousness once lost inside a dead body, you never know what might happen, your mother and you can come to an agreement on the exact time, you should consider yourself very lucky, you’re one of the youngest to ever undergo the process, most don’t go through the door until they are at least five years.

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