node created 2012/06/17
last changed 2012/06/17
 4 m ago

"they're slopping the trough for you"

Now the police dreams that one look at the gigantic map on the office wall should suffice at any given moment to establish who is related to whom and in what degree of intimacy; and, theoretically, this dream is not unrealizable although its technical execution is bound to be somewhat difficult. If this map really did exist, not even memory would stand in the way of the totalitarian claim to domination; such a map might make it possible to obliterate people without any traces, as if they had never existed at all.
"The Origins of Totalitarianism"

Virtual reality, the computer science that brings artificial worlds to life, is in its infancy. Today, it allows adventure-seekers wearing stereoscopic headgear to fly on the backs of pre-historic birds, but in the future, with the use of stereo TV cameras and robots, it could allow surgeons to operate on patients who are one hundred miles away.
 5 m ago

Confidence, est. 1979

Original dateJune 10th 2007, 13:25

Original dateMarch 5th 2009, 12:23

Original dateSeptember 2nd 2007, 07:41

Original dateMarch 5th 2009, 14:14

Original dateMarch 5th 2009, 12:31
 6 m ago

"content creators"

Older guys "acting cool" in front of people so young it would be incredibly awkward, creepy and sad in anything but a virtual context, people calling other people "creator" for basically mumbling nonsense and padding it out endlessly with more nonsense.. so "make sure to leave a like" and "smash that subscribe button". If you think you already did that, please double check and "make sure".

Stream viewers get "paid attention" to by the streamer, if not for chat messages, then for donations. That's the dynamic. "Thanks for the support, you guys are awesome". That's what the viewers need to be told, that they're awesome for being unable to stand silence, and liking none of the valuable things it could be filled with.
 6 m ago

the beauty and the beast

Haha, what garbage did I just read?

The same principle is at work in verbal wit. The English film director Anthony Asquith, for example, once introduced Jean Harlow, the platinum-blond 1930s Hollywood star, to his mother, Lady Margot Asquith, the author and wife of the longtime British prime minister Herbert Henry Asquith. Harlow mispronounced Lady Margot’s first name, sounding the final t, as in forgot. “The t is silent, my dear,” Asquith snipped, “as in Harlow.” Lady Margot isolated and exaggerated the significance of the simple t, just as Tinbergen isolated and exaggerated the herring gull’s orange spot, thereby dramatically enhancing its impact.

Is that a way of saying "she called her a harlot" that went over my head, or did the author not catch that she called her a harlot? Be that as it may, that "quotation" is apparently widely considered to be witty, and I'm not seeing it. An intelligent (nevermind witty) person wouldn't betray their pettyness, cruelty and insecurity like that at "hello". A more sensible world would have long forgotten it as a weak moment of a person who probably had a lot on their plate.

In that article I noticed the setup that could not be cheaper: "platinum-blonde" vs "the author and wife of longtime prime minister".

she accused her shell-shocked stepson Herbert of being drunk.

I see. "The author and wife of longtime prime minister" certainly has a different ring to it than, say, "the kind of person that would accuse her shell-shocked stepson of being drunk", even though the later might actually help explain the anecdote, instead of juxtaposing a supposed sophistication with graceless nastyness and as such serving only to further mystify the issue.


... yeah. So let's try this again:

A totally different principle is at work in psychological abuse. The English film director Anthony Asquith, for example, once introduced Jean Harlow, the young, beautiful and warmhearted 1930s Hollywood star, to his mother, Lady Margot Asquith, a woman of a remarkable lack of any endearing features, who had developed an especially cruel looking mouth. Harlow mispronounced Lady Margot’s first name, sounding the final t, as in forgot, though she meant nothing by it. “The t is silent, my dear,” Asquith snipped, “as in Harlow.”, marking the beginning of an evening that to the young people felt like trying to have a picnic while being harrassed by a flock of old sea gulls that seemed more intent on shitting on the food than stealing any of it.

They didn't talk back, laughed politely, because it seemed clear Margot was not just unhappy, she didn't even remember happiness, and this was her way to get back at all what that had broken her heart when she was younger. Harlow knew Margot think she meant her, but that she didn't, didn't even see her, couldn't see her, saw only the light playing on her hatred for herself... so Jean came to feel deep compassion for this poor person.

To use the picnic analogy again, she simply decided that they weren't going to get to eat a bite anyway, and that they may as well watch the acrobatics of the shitting birds. For even the ugliest human is beautiful, if you look at them careful enough, listen well enough. What seems ugly, what seems like chaos, is just as causally ordered, that order is just hidden from casual glance. Beauty is symmetric, and that's sublime, but uglyness is complex, and that is sublime too; and sneaking these kind of bald claims into stories is probably what makes writing them so fun.

Later that night, when they were alone, Harlow looked into Anthony's eyes for a long time, finally whispered "Oh Anthony, you told me it was bad, and I did believe you.. but I still had no idea just how bad it was", and made sweet pity love to him all night long, which totally blew his mind.

P.S.: Looking at his bio I realized he was homosexual, which makes that ending unlikely, but also potentially gives the scene a whole other level of oppressive atmosphere. His mother calling a person she literally just met a harlot for being pretty and an actress makes it seem unlikely she would have approved of his homosexuality, so maybe they were relieved she called her harlot, since that meant she had no clue of his homosexuality, and gladly played along. If she accepted her son, why be such a bitch to Harlow... wit? Pff.
 6 m ago
A picture may say more than a thousand words, the trouble is that often enough the words are along the lines of "leh lah da da da de de de, ra ra ra bleh blah blih".
 7 m ago

bullshit-introducing clichés

  • at the end of the day..
  • any reasonable person would agree that..
  • I'm not entirely sure that I'm convinced I fully agree that..
 7 m ago

In response to "Superintelligence - The Idea That Eats Smart People"

The danger of computers becoming like humans is not as great as the danger of humans becoming like computers.
What eats me is trajectory we are on as humans. Runaway actual intelligence, even if it destroys humanity, wouldn't worry me as much, I'd wish it good luck, IMO even a totally random dice roll is better than what we're aiming at. But AI is more a meme than even an honest intent. It's like saying "I really really want blueberry pie", but then when you ask what that is, they it gets real murky real quick, but that doesn't stop the hype, as if wanting something a lot makes up for not knowing what it is. But that doesn't prime a person to *make* blueberry pie, it primese them to get lured by what they think is the smell of blueberry pie.

Here's something to note, as the length of a discussion about "AI" grows in length, the probability of things getting explained via something they saw in a movie or read in a book or saw on TV, glossing over 99.9% of the "details" those left out, approaches 1. You may say we make this fiction because of our achievements, or may point to things that actually did come to pass (of course, compared to the stuff that didn't, even from the same authors, it's nothing). And I love using examples, too, and I sure love quotes.

But still, I think when we are this steeped in variations of the same thing over and over and over, of course we'll "consider it" at some point, and the moral or philoshopical depth is drastically reduced by already being primed. We're like people who don't see what we build with our hands, because we wear VR googles that show us movies of our childhood or some console game.

What I can see us realistically making are are "idols" with eyes that do not see, with audio output, perfect speech synthesis, that does not convey meaning, incredibly fast analysis that is not thought. From the get go, starting with the Turing test, it was more about how what something seems from the outside, than what it is to itself on the inside.

Furthermore, we might make human level AI no problem, EZ PZ, but not by making AI so smart, but my making humans dumber. We're already training ourselves to select what we consume and think from discrete pre-configured options. We notice and complain about the effects of in all sorts of smaller areas, but it's a general trend, and I think it's not so much about creating something "better" than humans, but about removing human agency.

The frightening coincidence of the modern population explosion with the discovery of technical devices that, through automation, will make large sections of the population 'superfluous' even in terms of labor, and that, through nuclear energy, make it possible to deal with this twofold threat by the use of instruments beside which Hitler's gassing installations look like an evil child's fumbling toys, should be enough to make us tremble.
"Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil"
Meanwhile, there's this idea that humans becoming "superfluous" means we'll all be free from "bad" work, and free for fun work and leisure. How we would get from an *increasing* concentration of wealth in fewer hands to some commnuist utopia? Is that some kind of integer overflow, where enough greed and power wrap over to sharing and letting others live and decide their own fate? We're connected to that (like Michael Scott is to the baby of his boss,) by delusion, the path we're on doesn't lead there.

Throw away a word here, do something that "everybody does" there, adapt to "how the world is" some, and there you go, a blank nothing that can be deprecated without guilt or resistance. The desire to control human agency is met more than halfway by our desire to shed it, to abdicate responsibility, become a piece of floatsam flowing down the river of history to the ocean of technotopia, enter the holy land of holodeck, where we can consume endlessly. We digitize, we sample, that's how we make things "manageable", and at high enough resolution we can fool ourselves, or have something "good enough to work with".

And just like children that get too much sugar too early tend to not liking fruit as much, because they're not as extremely sweet, our abstractions lure some people to prefer them over the dirty, fractal, infinite real world, or the exchange of emojis and pre-configured figures of speech over real human contact, silence that isn't awkward, thinking about what you're trying to say, or even coming up blank and that being okay... just like we go "posterized, high contrast" in all sorts of ways aready, I hve no problem supposing that we will come up with a form of alienation like that, but for thinking, I just no clue how it will look like.

We already have it with language of course, but I'm sure we can take that to the next level, maybe neural interfaces. If we can't read and transmit thoughts in their fullness and depth, then hey, just reduce our thoughts to the equivalent of grunts, that might work. Become like a computer, 0 and 1. Convince yourself that's that just what humans have been all along, remember Star Trek wisdom, don't be so proud and consider your brain more than a "meat machine", don't deny Data his quest to become human! Might is right, cue super emotional music swelling up.
 7 m ago

spooky thought of the day

The attack on general purpose computing is just a means, the attack on general purpose thinking is the end.
 7 m ago
That's what turned me off from most gaming was the soullessness on many levels. But just looking at youtubers, 99% of their "discussions" of games make me want to throw up, too, and that includes most supposed "serious" ones, too. Even when they're going by a script, if you reduced what they said to the actual meanings, there would be little to nothing left except misused phrases.

I used to despise show wrestling as a kid, but yesterday I saw 5 minutes of a Star Craft world championship finals game, and the announcers made me insane with hatred within 15 seconds. "What an epic moment", oh, how those units come out of the base "*so* instantly". Consider Bill Hicks' imitation of Jay Leno, then consider how much worse than Jay Leno "gaming" shills have become.

My theory is that this has to do with a shift from games being about something, even if that's just silly fun or violence, to them being about escaping from facing reality. People say shit that doesn't mean anything, and the people they say it to don't bother to ask "what does that even mean", because one hand washes the other, and they are in an unconscious conspiracy of pretending what they clobber together are sentences.