OUR INSANELY GREAT AWAKENING

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the past is more unknowable than the future

THE LAST JEDI SHREWS

“I traveled to the south. The ancient rabbi appeared to me, voice heavy with the sands of time. He made me see. Same as Kabalah Dave but for you it’s free. God guides us on our journey but careful with those feet.”

Odds and ends at the work week’s completion.

Facebook is threatening to have its users determine the veracity of the news sources they read, which is the absolute worst possible method except for literally any other method.

In America, black and brown commit radically disproportionate more violent crime than white, which everyone knows, but almost no one is comfortable thinking about, and certainly not discussing. The inerrant outcome of this, having the data but not liking it or what it might mean, likewise shows up in our algorithms.

More than a half-century ago, the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick imagined a world in which a “precrime” agency made that possible. Today, a handful of tools promise to help nudge society in that direction.

But a new study out this week suggests that at least one such forecasting algorithm, used in some American courts, is no better than untrained humans.

Star Wars The Last Jedi did a disservice to women. The men were always taking action. The women were always there to say no, not yet, maybe later. Ugh. Even if the women were right, they were no fun — and in movies, action and fun is everything.

As I predicted long ago, wealthy, established Silicon Valley giants are calcifying America’s innovative, highly disruptive ecology — likely deliberately — with their insistence on incorporating non-relevant factors such as “diversity” across the industry.

Nothing great was ever built because of diversity. Not our Constitution, not the iPhone, not aspirin, not television, not the Internet, not any great book you’ve ever read, not any great painting you’ve ever witnessed.

In California, the blogosphere has been full of chatter about the inequity of life. Some of this, especially for women, is true and for certain individuals their day of reckoning has been long overdue. But many of the soul-sapping discussions seem like unwarranted distractions. In recent months, there have been complaints about the political sensibilities of speakers invited to address a corporate audience; debates over the appropriate length of paternity leave or work-life balances; and grumbling about the need for a space for musical jam sessions. These seem like the concerns of a society that is becoming unhinged.

These topics are absent in China’s technology companies, where the pace of work is furious.

Hollywood is stupid.

From HBO comes a teaser trailer for an upcoming adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, a film that went in today production a year before the 2016 election–that is, before things in America took a turn for the worse and the weird.

Fahrenheit 451 is one of the most wrong science fiction works ever that is still taken serious. Books banned? Made unavailable? Stupid. For $50 or less, anyone can have a magical tablet which can download and store and make instantly available literally thousands upon thousands of great books, most free, thousands more available for under a dollar.

But small minds take comfort in false truths.

They hope to make you believe they are beacons of truth, honor, ready to fight, to sacrifice, against all bad — but only when the bad is make believe and there is zero real pain from the struggle. Weak.

I believe the Trump economic pillars—slash regs, cut taxes, fair trade deals, secure borders, and promote individual entrepreneurship—will initiate massive sustained economic growth over the next 5-10 years, at least. Invest now. In yourself. In America.

LITERALLY I CAN’T

“Oh my God. Shut the fuck up.”

Welcome, children, I know you are all eager to take this, your final exam after twelve long years of state-enforced, parent-required, union-run, 20th century-modelled education. Please, still still, quietly, disconnect from all devices, you may not access any videos or data sources, no search engines or spreadsheets, no archived information or virtual reality training enhancements. That is not how we do things at school!

Brian! I am talking. Stop your fidgeting!

Good.

Now, to ensure you are ready for adulthood, I will call on each of you to answer a series of questions. Please, answer each to the fullest of your abilities.

Deena, you first!

The following is a list of 1,000 great books representing the very best of our culture. Name all those you have read.

None? Really? Ok.

Describe the structure of America’s government?

You can’t?

Recite the first amendment.

Yes, let’s skip that one.

Can you explain compound interest?

Agreed, that is too hard.

Have you ever balanced a checkbook?

No, I suppose you haven’t.

Here is a basic geometry question, a trigonometry problem, and an algebraic riddle. Solve.

Yes, you did get them all wrong, dear.

Recite a line from Shakespeare.

To be or not — close enough!

Give me an example of a depreciating asset.

Depreciating asset.

Depreciating.

Asset.

Name 3 presidents.

Yes, we’ll accept two.

Here is an internal combustion engine with two basic problems. Fix them.

Fine, that was too hard.

Connect this common API with this popular app.

Yes, that was also too hard, I’ll give you that.

Spell “debilitate.”

No, just one ‘a’ I’m afraid.

No, not there.

No, not there, either.

D-e-b-i-l-i-t-a-t-e.

Agreed, spelling isn’t terribly important. We should probably remove that question from the test.

Why did America enter World War 1?

Agreed, that was over 100 years ago, let me change the question.

Why did America enter World War 2?

Nazis? Yes, we’ll accept that.

Here is a number set. Calculate for us the mean, median and mode.

No, wait. That’s obviously too difficult. Question withdrawn.

That’s everything we have for you, Deena. Congratulations, you passed! The future welcomes you.

BLOCKCHAIN BORN AGAIN

Idea: a blockchain fart app. That way, whoever dealt it can’t deny it.

Wait. Would Apple banish a blockchain fart app?

Speaking of Apple, China, where your iPhone is made, the device that better than anything or anyone knows everywhere you go, everywhere you’ve been, all your contacts, all your purchases, all your searches, all your downloads, the country that imprisons political activists and that makes anonymity on the web literally illegal, is now demanding that Christian citizens remove images of Jesus from their homes.

“Well, they showed you a statue, told you to pray. They built you a temple and locked you away.”

Apple is the richest corporation in the world. Apple has parked tens of billions of dollars, maybe hundreds of billions of dollars in off-shore tax havens. Apple outsources its manufacturing to China.

Will this American-born corporation even consider standing up for our values?

Should China ever allow gay marriage, I suspect Apple’s CEO will very publicly praise them — while remaining cowardly silent on how China treats all who dare think or speak differently from the party view.

It is always illuminating to discover wherever there is power and wealth — and surrender.

“You got a brand new soul. And a cross of gold. But Virginia they didn’t give you quite enough information.”

But no surrender for me. I have not yet begun to fight.

I expect us to force Apple to pay its fair share of taxes.

I expect us to get Apple to move manufacturing to inclusive, democratic nations.

There’s more.

It’s not only Apple.

Google, Facebook, Twitter and others get rich off our data. That’s a bargain we make, free stuff in exchange for our information. Fair enough.

What’s not fair is that we are expected to cede full rights to our data in perpetuity.

This must change.

We each are and always should be the sole owners of our personal data. We can delete it, re-sell it, and demand it be handed over by anyone who may possess it.

This right, however, could be under permanent assault not (only) because of greed and policy failures but because of the blockchain.

The blockchain is essentially a widely distributed, digitized ledger that records online transactions and interactions and, it is believed, records them fully and correctly forever. A purchase you make, a home you sell, a contract you sign, a promise you give — via the blockchain — is now proof. It is verifiable and can’t be altered.

Meaning, the blockchain has tremendous potential to rid ourselves of gatekeepers, to tear down high barriers to entry, to banish centralized powers to the 20th century, to throw out those that charge exhorbitant fees to “verify” and/or “record” and/or “archive” any transaction.

Wonderful!

Blockchain is what powers bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies and it’s potential — potential — cannot be over-emphasized. It could rival that of: the Internet Protocol meets cash money. Blockchain has the potential to be so individually empowering that it should be no wonder that China seeks to shutdown bitcoin and blockchain.

There is a problem, however.

Blockchain can obviously be used for transactions where we buy and sell — cars, houses, used furniture, our time. But it can also be used to record our health information. Theoretically, it can be used to make a ledger of our tweets, our searches, our likes, our ratings, how others rate us, any of our online interactions, whatever they may become.

How can this data be erased?

How do we take full control — full ownership — of our data when all the world’s gone blockchain?

Declaration: We must not allow blockchain to be used in any manner where we cannot ensure that we can engage an interaction fully anonymously or where we cannot take back our involvement.

Everyone has the right to be born again.

“They say there’s a heaven for those who will wait. Some say it’s better but I say it ain’t. I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. The sinners are much more fun.”

THE DIGITAL DISAPPEARING

“Well, I came upon a child of God.”

Baby Boomers are next in line to die.

What then?

Where does the future lead us?

“Boomers” had a considerable impact upon the culture to this point but the culture from this point seems determined to burnish the past, all of it, if possible.

Boomers out on the pavement thinkin bout the government — but soon, no one will ever know, just as no one now really cares.

“We are stardust. We are golden. We are caught in the devils bargain. And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.”

We are the net result of our tools and our tools are remaking life, living, working, learning, playing, and dramatically impacting our physical and mental parts, making it so there’s no way for anyone to go back, to live as before, to be like those before, and so — in defiance and in rage and in glory — those who are next will seek to destroy, literally, all the signs, symbols, relics and leavings of those from before.

All the great artists of the Baby Boomer age, even The Beatles, who are peerless, will soon be publicly scorned, the controllers of the levers of popular culture deriding anything that smacks of the past attempting to seep into the now.

All the grand symbols of Baby Boomer culture will be torn down.

The Vietnam Memorial does not celebrate America, American greatness, nor heroism. It is a dark reminder of a stark time, a time that influenced Baby Boomers probably more than any other. By, say, 2029, the Vietnam Memorial will be toppled. Likewise, the arenas which the boomers took over and made their own, universities and media, in particular, will be fully de-constructed.

This is messy stuff.

But what of when everything’s all digital, virtual, erasable?

When destruction is clean.

Should we place restrictions on what and who may be erased, and why, and whether permanently or not?

Feasible: In 2022, your watch informs you that you are allotted an additional 32g of protein. You walk into the market and your earbuds list all your available rewards and coupons. Your smartphone automatically shares your location with your spouse and children, whose reminder bots also speak in your ear, urging you to buy them some chips. Your purchases are logged, the money instantly debited from your preferred account, and your steps are recorded, along with your caloric consumption, which is instantly sent to your primary care physician, whose algorithms alter — just slightly — their recommendations for you, which then reduces the cost of your medical insurance, all while this flow of data is beamed to a university, one whose research study you approved of, which is examining your longevity and all of those with similar DNA.

Potential: None of this happens, not one bit, because you — in a fleeting fit of foolishness — mocked a recent government decision. Or went online and derided a beloved cultural icon, or made a joke which all the right people found — in public — to be repellant.

Thought crimes are the new accounting.

We are already actively engaged in the digital disappearing of those guilty of offenses to the senses.

On social media:

NBC was quick to remove all photos of Matt Lauer off the “Today” show’s social channels following news that the longtime co-host has been fired amid a sexual harassment allegation.

As of Wednesday morning, “Today’s” website, Facebook page, and Twitter account have been scrubbed of Lauer’s name and picture.

In film:

Ridley Scott said he quickly decided to replace Kevin Spacey from “All the Money in the World” after hearing the news of his sexual harassment allegations.

Very quietly, Scott said he quickly put into motion a plan to cut out Spacey and shoot his scenes with another actor.

No doubt, you’ve already been made aware of individuals being removed from Twitter, YouTube, and other virtual arenas. No doubt, you are aware that the original Star Wars films have been altered, multiple times. Soon, those originals will never be accessible. Just like your (neighbor’s) daughter won’t be able to enter the popular metaverse playground with her schoolmates — because of what the wife said, on Facebook, which everyone saw.

While it’s in our power, since it won’t be for long, let’s do our best to embed right rules into our erasable knowledge.

We should each have the right to control all our own data.

We should each have the right to be forgotten.

We acknowledge the means to digitally erase a person or group, the past, an other, but we will use this power only after much consideration and due hesitancy, so much so that we can remember in our heads the so very few officially forgotten.

You know who was at Woodstock? Everyone who said they were.

Except for the writer of Woodstock, Joni Mitchell, she was not there.

EXORDIUM & TERMINUS

“In the year 7510
If God’s a coming, He oughta make it by then
Maybe He’ll look around Himself and say
Guess it’s time for the judgment day”

Sounds wise, but can we trust these words given that the person proclaiming them only achieved fame once?

I say, yes.

One hit wonders remain curious things, as they cause us to wonder what semi-famous, partly-recognizable musicians must do with all the remaining days of their life, with everyone wanting that one song of theirs played over and over and over again while they, even if they are somehow always decent and tolerant about this, are forever unable to replicate that lottery-like success that propelled them into our collective consciousness, but we also wonder how white hot fame can be achieved by someone — only once — because the relentlessness of the machine that is capitalism is always seeking out, always maximizing return, always copying whatever works, and we simply expect this consensual metaverse to throw off enough data so as to ensure that if anyone does it once, they’ll certainly have the tools at their disposal to achieve at least a second go-round on the fame-success wheel, but no, one-hit wonders remain, like a frozen moment in time or a flower that emerges from across the cultural landscape, delivering joy, briefly, and then gone forever. Curious.

In 1964, the duo of Zager & Evans wrote their only hit song — In The Year 2525.

It became a hit, in, fact, in 1969.

Ripples require time to reach the shore.

This is how I feel about several core technologies now radiating towards us. We won’t fully realize the sum total of their transformation of human form and thought and movement for at least another 17+ years.

The flood comes in 2035, that’s when the past will no longer be readable and the future becomes fully writable.

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, sparring abundances, competing algorithms, and the connecting of all people to all things will transform all life and living on this planet.

The past will then become more unknowable than the future.

That means that together, we can and should build a new way of living with our creations and can and should embed our values — the right values — into all that comes next.

What comes 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, shortly. Nothing will be left untouched, not even humanness. I predict the next 17 years will foster the following global trends:

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 expression.

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.

There’s more. With everyone and everything connected, in real-time, and always, and with the spread of bionics, nano-machines, processors, the very notion of ‘self’ will be transformed. Connectivity is our self.

4. HACKING MORTALITY

Hacking mortality will become the biggest industry of this century. We will not live forever but those that come next will live for probably decades longer than us. Great for them, less so for much of what we’ve constructed. 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.

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 will be free and freely available. 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.

You will pay for things, but not with money, often not with work.

And when no money needs to exchange hands, ever, because the price — of everything — is effectively zero and 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.

Know this: 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.

Capitalism knows our desires better than we know our limits.

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. Values will determine their customer base, their margins, their market. The purely profit-based corporation will whither.

In the next stage of commerce, your values will always be on display and used for exchange.

9. THE INSANELY GREAT AWAKENING

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.

We just don’t know what it is.

We will seek out God.

We are eager to believe.

A great awakening is upon us.

10. THE PAST IS MORE UNKNOWABLE THAN THE FUTURE

“But through eternal night, the twinkling of starlight, so very far away, maybe it’s only yesterday”

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.

We will soon scarcely even understand those before us.

We will not be like them at all.

We cannot go back.

Let’s recall the wise words of that musical duo from Nebraska, what were they called again, Zager & Evans, and that one song they had.

“In the year 8510, God is gonna shake His mighty head. He’ll either say I’m pleased where man has been or tear it down, and start again”

God came early.

BE POSITIVE THOUGH IT HURTS

Why do you remain?

The same beliefs same routine same expectations all the lies.

Does new ease the pain?

Might shiny blind out the fear?

Buy iPhone X.

A device that knows everything about you, including your location, your face and fingerprints, from a tax dodging corporation that makes its products in a country which has outlawed anonymity on the web and imprisons people for wrongspeak.

You’re the future!

“Sometimes in the morning I am petrified and can’t move.”

I deleted my Gmail account. No, this is different, my gmail was not like yours. I was one of the very first. It was April 2o04, the product still in beta, but thanks to my also being one of the very first to have and fund and manage a Google keywords ad campaign for a small business, I was so honored with what at the time seemed like the future of communicating online for business.

Now, more than 13 years later, all gone. Every email. Tens of thousands, sent and received.

I also recently deleted well over 100,000 tweets. Yes, really.

“But the lows are so extreme that the good seems fucking cheap.”

We think our digital traces never really go away and that digital spaces are anlogous to physical ones. Both thoughts are false.

Digital matters, but differently.

Like sight, but not touch, like hearing, but not smelling.

But we are allowing it to consume us, all of us, all the parts of us, our connections, our prospects, our thoughts and fears, our joys, our past.

We are so much more than what it can contain.

“You’ll be honest, you’ll be brave
You’ll be handsome, you’ll be beautiful
You’ll be happy”

Rilo Kiley, now effectively deceased, were deliberately anti-commercial, their songs constructed to celebrate their joys, but never quite, to showcase their voice, yet sublimate underneath the gear, their words expressing their feelings, but never their rawness.

They couldn’t be true, full, honest, themselves.

There’s a lesson in that.

“Your ship may be coming in. You’re weak but not giving in.”

It’s good to not give up. And it may be liberating for you to leave behind.

You can not respond, not engage, not share, not like, not pose, and still go forward with your life. I promise you. In a fit of indignation, Rilo Kiley sang “that God never blessed her insides,” but he has yours. And that’s all the validation you need.

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