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differently alive

FOOD OF THE MODS

There’s something that gnaws at me. Why did God create and then place at the very center of the Garden of Eden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

Why?

It wasn’t meant for us ((humans)). God made clear that under no circumstances were Adam and Eve to take even a bite from the tree’s fruit.

We know how the story begins:

The devil rather easily persuades Eve to take a bite and she in turn rather easily persuades Adam to take a bite.

At once, they become fully self-aware and their whole world, moments before swirling in good only, no evil, becomes a mix of these two forces. The fall is so swift and so complete that their first child, Cain, murders their second child, Abel.

So who is the tree for?

It’s doubtful it was for some other species, as God makes clear humans have dominion over the world. The tree also wasn’t meant only for God and those god-like, as he clearly states: “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” “One of us.” They already possess this knowledge, the tree is unnecessary.

Could the tree of the knowledge of good and evil been intended for our creations? For that which follows us?

Are our creations on the cusp of self-awareness and the ability to choose right and wrong, good and evil?

We cede control and responsibility to our machines — be they robots, computers, sensors, digital assistants, and artificial intelligences. But we have never ceded to these control of choosing between good and evil. We certainly use them in our choice, but it’s always remained our choice.

Is that about to end?

For the first time since human life began?

What then?

I know, I know. You’ve been taught that when our machines develop self-awareness, all hope for humanity is lost. We will quickly become their slaves — those of us not killed in the great cyber wars. We will do what they say, when, and how, and with whom.

But science fiction is almost always wrong!

Fahrenheit 451? Wrong! We are awash in free and freely available books. The Diamond Age? It predicted only two tablets–available only to teach the most privileged of children. Wrong! There are already hundreds of millions of connected tablets in use.

What if machine self-awareness is liberating? Not for them, for us! Like our previous machines, mechanics, computers and processes? These previous constructions have freed us from back-breaking labor, from drudgery, from starvation.

What might self-aware machines free us from?

From work? Yes. From having to be rational — all of the time. Think of it! But first recall, nothing great ever happened by being rational.

Just as our machines have relieved us of the burden of labor, calculation, and memorization, our new self-aware machines might liberate us from the burden of the rational. Rational is what keeps us in place.

“God speaking through you direct connection.”

SELF CONSCIOUS UNCERTAIN

“The rhythm has my soul.”

But what has your soul?

Screens everywhere, data pervasive, alerts never stopping, notifications never ceasing, no moment of darkness, no moment of silence, contemplation under threat, acceptance not tolerated, log in, choose a side, don’t quit, no escape, speak, touch, write, flash and do not feel, but your spirit demands release, the soul will out and there, at last, you give yourself to the vibrations of the universe, vibrations flowing below you, above you, inside you, always.

Peter Gabriel gave his soul to The Rhythm of the Heat, a primal, powerful anthem of the inner self, unleashed. It continues to reverberate.

“Drawn into the circle that dances round the fire. We spit into out hands and breathe across the palms, raising them up high, held open to the sun. Self-conscious, uncertain, I’m showered with the dust, the spirit enters into me and I submit to trust.”

What can you not turn off?

Turn that off.

GOD, ARE YOU THERE? IT’S ME, BRI–

“You always have the Lord by your side.”

God exists, the devil exists, the Bible is true, this is known, these are not the ravings of a mad man, don’t ask for my name, I am not a believer, at least I wasn’t, rather a man who spent the past 26 years working for the US Government, most of those in the basements of the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, and the past 8 serving as a liaison between the NSA and the CIA, a job I thought would be easy, a way to earn my pension while still on the payroll, little work, no stress, pushing papers, setting up meetings, only my penchant for exactness, long viewed as unnecessary now that our thinking machines can do that so much better-faster than we, led me to evidence, clear, incontrovertible evidence, and I say this not to gloat maybe not even to alarm, though in truth the news shakes me to my core, is that God is real, the devil is real, the Bible is true, all of it, and more than that, this has all been known by a select few within the US Government since the very beginning of the US Government, long before that, in fact, as the very founding of the United States of America was precipitated by a secret meeting between the then-King of England — and this is also known by a few living persons, now me included — and the Pope, because a group of monks in what we now call Montenegro came upon evidence — I can’t say more than this, lest Giant Brain targets me for elimination — evidence that proves the truthfulness of the Bible, all of it, and for the past several hundred years the shift of Europeans, then Asians, now Africans to this place we call the United States of America, has been a concerted multi-century effort to keep the world destabilized, at war, in a constant struggle with each other, economically, culturally, politically, so as to keep us focused on a specific version of goodness and living, right and wrong, good and bad, weak and strong, patriot and rebel, all to ensure we remain willing believers — not in God — but in the State, enabling some to grow ever more powerful, more wealthy, and with enough time to develop a means of transferring human consciousness — human consciousness of a select few — into a vessel that will allow these select ((humans)) to live forever, immortal, free from death, free even from God, this is why the bones — the DNA — of select leaders have been preserved throughout history, they will be resurrected, and this whole effort, America, migration, immigration, the global economy, it was all a way to keep pushing society relentlessly forward, never allowing us to enjoy the blessings of our world, the blessings of our (brief) time alive, but to keep pushing pushing pushing until we developed the means of constructing a **literal** immortality for a few persons, which is almost now achievable, that’s the other evidence I uncovered, it’s all linked together, a way of uploading the brain and thoughts of select individuals into a entity that can keep them safe, keep them linked to Giant Brain, and soon — this is expected in about another 30 years — allow this entity with them all safely inside, to travel through space, living, learning, growing more god-like, all while the rest of us continue to fight and work and push and hate and jostle one another, all because a few hundred years ago, evidence was discovered that the Bible is real and Jesus is returning, in 2057, to be exact, and most will die and a few will go to heaven and the select few that are in on this truth don’t want either of those options, I’m not sure which one I’d take, to be honest, they want to remain as they are, but in a form that lets them live forever, untouchable, and I’m sharing this with you because if you want that third option, the option presented only to a few, the option to become an immortal non-human, it’s possible though I suspect it will require an actual military coup against our own government, and our own government is in fact every government.

We are each–or very soon will be–constantly connected to and within a always learning, sensing, calculating AI brain, one that, thanks to smarthomes, smartcars, smartspeakers, smartphones, and various smartthings will know us each better even than our spouse, our children, our parents, our colleagues, our dearest friends, or any combination of these.

It will know that we are about to commit suicide.

When do we program this AI to tell the person to do it?

Would have spared a lot of innocent lives in Las Vegas, to name one.

THAT GODDAM KID FROM CRYING

“God damn! Look at that pollution!”

All this noise, none of it music, none of it mute-able, none of it able to be picked apart, isolated, nurtured, it’s just noise, the noise of our media, our screens, the noise of people clamoring for the right to engage in death thoughts, hate thoughts, the non-creative, the not-uplifting, just noise, noise of our own making, which means noise that we should be able to turn off but we can’t, we won’t, we’ve lost our ability to sustain ourselves on not noise, plus we can’t because we ceded that power over our lives, so there’s more noise, then more, then more, and our solution, meager as it is, is to break off into tribes and more-noise the others, it’s the only way, but a few of us, ears covered, bunkers dug, we know this is not the way, this far too much noise, noise that never stops, noise that leads us nowhere, noise that doesn’t uplift because it can’t uplift, that’s not its intent, we know this but feel powerless against it, laying down our noise-arms only gets us overrun with their noise-arms, but we hope that maybe if we just quiet ourselves just a bit, then they will match this, then they quiet themselves a bit more, and we will match them, then us, then them, but we don’t because it was tried, we were told, and that slight reduction in noise never got heard, so great was all the other noise, and so we dig our bunkers deeper, choose our tribes tighter, shout and scream and more-noise as rightfully as we believe necessary, and pray for sleep because there is no noise there still.

Think of all the sounds, lights, badges, notifications–all the screens–you can’t turn off.

Give it five more years.

HIT ME WITH THE CHING CHING

“Jesus”

We are, second by second, bombarded with words, numbers, sites, sounds, posts, shares, faves, likes, red badges, yellow pages, blue checks, black flag but never the whites of their eyes, those are always staring into the screen.

But you think you can deny your child the screen?

You can’t deny yourself!

If you can’t, they won’t. What parents know, children know, and what parents know is that life inside the screen beckons, comforts, ensnares, all hours, all days. Parents — adults — take their eyes off the screen only when forced or on those very rare occasions when there’s actually something more interesting taking place beyond. Asking a child to not behave like their own parents is almost always doomed to failure. Children know.

You refuse because you are weak, afraid.

So you demand An Other usurp your role.

Apple!

Apple should make its devices so they don’t encourage screen time!

Stupid.

Apple’s entire business model is screen time!

Apple offers you an enticing screen for every waking moment. At work, on the toilet, seated in your favorite chair, standing in line for coffee, in your bed. A Mac, a Watch, an iPad, an iPhone, Apple TV. Always a screen within eye’s reach, like Coke makes it so there’s always a pop within arm’s reach.

If too much screen time is bad for children then it’s bad for adults.

If you are strong enough to restrict your child’s screen time be bold enough to restrict yours.

Probably, you won’t. You won’t for the same reason you consume too much food, too much junk, spend too much time seated, get not enough exercise, avoid getting involved, hope your parents don’t call. Because the omniscient now of the screen convinces you there is more pleasure within than without.

But it’s not just what’s inside the screen that lies to you, but the screen itself, its physical manifestations, its tactile calling. These beguile you. These convince you that a touch or tap or call will alight not only the screen, but your self. They will liberate your talents, unlock your creativity, unleash your productivity, spread your abilities across the world, shower you with riches — release your magic.

This is a lie.

If you possess magic — and you do — it resides within you and about you and does not need a device or screen or object to be made real.

Stop fearing your magic.

Stop cordoning off your magic within a screen.

Let your children see that.

HIS LIFE IS FULL OF WONDER

Why do we continue to create tools and entertainments which remove us from the availing blessings of our planet, the stars, the universe, grass, water?

Is it a retreat?

Or are we somehow uniquely endowed with a drive to extricate ourself from all that surrounds us–for reasons not yet fully revealed to us?

The cave affords shelter and we collapse deeper inside it?

The cave is our screens.

John Denver went to the mountains and was changed.

“Now he walks in quiet solitude the forest and the streams seeking grace in every step he takes. His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand the serenity of a clear blue mountain lake”

Beautiful.

“You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply.”

The casual reply.

God need not enter your life with a boom. Is that what you need right now?

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