Tuesday, February 28, 2017

headspace

I've always wondered where the Buddhist emphasis on compassion fits in.  It appeals to me, and I've read all sorts of references to it, but it just never seemed to add up.  What does that have to do with pure open awareness?  So, I was just thinking, if "life is suffering," compassion is the awareness of that.  I guess that would make it kind of important.

If suffering is the bedrock of existence, as I remember some writer postulating recently, then compassion might logically be deemed the bedrock of awareness.  See what what meditating for a few minutes every morning for three days in a row can do?

In all seriousness, think it might be long past time I tried a structured approach to meditation.  I'm giving this a serious go.  I just wish it could be voiced by some old monk with a thick accent.  Which is rather dumb, I know.. but could I get some random temple noises in the background, too?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

sobriety

I don't feel like getting stoned.  Now, this might not seem noteworthy, but generally, I always feel like getting stoned.  I wake up in the morning, feeling like I just want anything that will make my day less shitty, and cannabis kind of helps.  Usually.  It's not ideal, and often I don't give in that early, but that feeling rarely goes away.  It's just a matter of wanting some relief, really.  From what, I'm not entirely sure.  It's just this ubiquitous lousiness that so often weighs on me.

Like any good painkiller, there are side-effects, and it's not ideal for that reason, too.  I'm not going to pretend it doesn't impede my functionality.  I could do my dishes, go shopping, or get some exercise.. but I probably won't.  More likely, I just forget why it matters, for a while, but I don't think it really impairs an experienced user all that much.  It's grossly overstated for a few reasons, from inexperienced people assuming that's how it is for everyone, to alcohol and pharmaceutical companies spreading nonsense, because they don't want the competition.

Still, being stoned all the time is a terrible idea, which gets progressively worse as active cannabinoids build up in the system.  Which makes it especially nice that I don't really want to be, anyhow.  Not that I'm giving it up.  Just saving it for more appropriate times, when being a little impaired is entirely rational, and not an act of desperation.

Of course, I have to wonder why.  It's been about two weeks or so.  I've just been feeling better, overall.  Is the Omnitrope finally doing whatever it's supposed to do?  Is it a change in diet?  Is it a fluke that will disappear at any moment, as inexplicably as it appeared?  Every little thing I'm doing differently, the last month or so, I'm afraid to stop doing.

I'm not feeling great, just better, and kind of hoping it keeps moving in this direction.  It would be nice if I knew, if there's anything I could do that might help ensure that's the case.  I still feel like I've got quite a ways to go.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

what is intelligence, really?

Without free will, it follows that everything is a matter of causality.  Or rather, the two ideas confirm each other.  That is to say, everything is systemic.  Everything a natural process that will play out exactly as it's coded to do, by all the variables of circumstance.



When people like Sam Harris discuss the potential dangers of artificial intelligence, it boils down to this.  Just because a system excels in some way, does not mean that it's what we'd consider good.  That is, beneficial to us, to humanity, etc.  An AI could excel at replicating itself, for example.  Superhuman in it's ability to learn and utilize information, but without the values we ascribe due to our physiology.  Any safeguards easily discarded by an entity much more intelligent than we are, in a relatively narrow sense.



A system we create that essentially evolves into patterns of expansion, much better than we ever could, given our physiological constraints.  From our frailty and fallibility to all those arbitrary values and emotions that get in the way.

Not really so unlike the systems we've been building for thousands of years.  Government and bureaucracy, culture and community, layer upon layer of cooperation and competition.  Like a hive, we build systems that far exceed our own cognitive abilities, as individuals.  We keep getting better and better at it, but these systems have to be constrained by human values.  What we're really talking about is the brutality of Darwinism, extending not only to us, physiologically, but in everything we build.

Maybe that AI that we're afraid of is already here.  A superhuman system of self-replication that exceeds our ability to constrain it.  Only we call it capitalism.