Reality Zombies – Intelligence Could Not Be More Artificial

Our pre-American forbears led lives of subsistence; work all day, every day for enough food to survive; prepare and eat the food; collapse into sleep; awake to the same exhausting challenges.  This work ethic and focus are a major part of what colonists brought to the New World, driven by the chance to own the land they work, hunt and fish the wilds about them, and live free of the crushing burdens of near-slavery as serfs, peasants, and servants.  They could not dream of a time that was not filled with all the efforts of pulling and putting together the pieces of life’s necessities.

Just meeting today’s needs was never enough. They could not afford to face the seasons unprepared. They had to be alert, to anticipate, prepare, learn, and plan for the cycles and dangers of nature; they had to be ready for the seasons, timing, preparing, sowing, harvesting, preserving, and storing of food: crops, fish, game, fruits; cutting, splitting, and stacking firewood, clothing, tools, weapons; sickness, injury, childbirth; shelter, stewardship of farm animals, and on, and on.

Except for a few times, when nature did not allow work, people, including children, worked, ate, and slept.  Church was a mandatory break for the work-cycle.  Not only did weekly Sunday services provide “leisure” time for peaceful, renewing, and moral guidance, but it also allowed for physical regeneration through rest; it fostered hygiene and discipline; it fostered family and community “leisure” and play.

This kind of all-absorbing farm life continued for most Americans until technology began its ascent.  Within a dozen decades, we expanded, invented, and produced, new tools, factories, mines, roads, bridges, harbors, waterways, and railroads.  Farmers and ranchers produced enough food to allow them to sell it to non-farmers, who earned the money in towns and cities.

“Money-crops” such as cotton, tobacco, wool, hides, and furs, fed the textile mills, the leather tanneries, and tobacconists; cash was used for things the farmer could not produce easily, such as cloth, dye, needles, pins, shoes, glass, pots, pans, jars, jugs, clocks, medicines, spices, firearms, gunpowder, swords, axes, shovels, scythes, harnesses, chains, hinges, nails, buttons, buckles, candles, lamps, and things we needed then that we no longer remember.

Non-farm work had start and stop times.  Workers arrived at a certain time, worked and ate at certain times, and left at certain times.  That meant the rest of the day was up to the workers to use as they chose.  Holidays became expected days of rest.  Merchants tailored shop hours to worker schedules, which gave them down time as well.

The Great Depression and World War II accelerated three trends:  migration to cities, training in trades, and advanced education.

They also introduced and promoted the first virtual technologies, telephone, phonographs, movies, radio, and television.  Costs, broadcast time and reception areas limited the time people spent talking, listening, and watching.  But the attraction was clearly evident.  People would plan their days and evenings around their favorite news and entertainment programs.  Trips to the movies were considered treats.

The return of prosperity brought expanding demand for all the virtual technologies.  One limit on these technologies was location: phonographs, telephones, radios, movies, and televisions were locations people had to attend to use.  One exception for police and fire fighters:  two-way radios mounted in vehicles.  World War II saw the advent of “walkie-talkies,” the conceptual and technical precursors of modern cellphones.

Car radios, and the transistor radios released the listener from having to find a radio, to having a radio with them

The 1950’s, and 60’s introduced computers to American Business.  Once again, computers were locations, entombed in rarefied environments defended by physical security, and complete ignorance of the general populous.

The 1980’s advent of “personal computers;” which were portable, with some effort.  All that was missing was connecting computers through telephone systems – the Internet, and connecting radios to telephones – cellular phones.  The catalyst for the connectivity we enjoy today was the cellphone, which erased any connection between phones and locations, and made people the locations for telephone numbers.

Televisions were limited by the stations that broadcast in their reception area.  Three major national TV networks evolved, connected by satellite to the world.  Connecting televisions directly to satellites, coaxial cables, and now the Internet, brought us out of “network-tv” into the 24/7 “cable-tv” era.

Once cellphones connected to the Internet and television, where we watch movies, we arrived to today, where the distinctions have almost completely blurred.  Likewise have our senses of reality.

Now, “friends” are not people we know, “social media” is anonymous and often anti-social.  “Gamers” give a whole new meaning to “WoW,” spending days lashed to their computers, dispensing with bathroom breaks, installing Mountain Dew, refrigerators, and cutting pizza delivery slots in their doors.

We already have an entire generation living in basements.  What is next?  Maybe evolution will soon give our species extended narrow thumbs for “Texting,” and dimmer judgement for “Sexting.”  Maybe someday, all our ogling will be “Googling.” Is the “Zombie Apocalypse” upon us with the living “undead?”  I wonder if Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence will converge into caskets, from which we never need emerge?  Will we live to see the rise of VARZI?

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Independence Every Day – Divorce Virtual Opioids

This is a great time to be alive in America.  The average American has a better life than kings, queens, and pharaohs of the past.  We are safer, live longer, are free to go where we want, and enjoy knowledge and experiences that would have astounded the world only a few decades ago.

One area that is encroaching on our freedom is the enticing addiction to the virtual world to the exclusion of the real, here and now world.  More, and more, I walk through crowds of “zombies” stuck in their phones, tablets, music, and video.  They are not really “here.”  The inattention to life has begun to dominate our culture.  Isolation from “real” family and friends is rapidly wearing down the social skills of our society members.

The siren attraction of the imaginations of others is sapping the development and practice of imagining for ourselves.  Children need that development as they grow up.  What kind of adults, parents, employees will people become if they have no experience of self-creation?  What will our culture become when all we have is “copies” of the excellent ideas generated by a few “imagineers.”

Try doing without the virtual toys and tools you spend so much time with for 24 hours:  No cell phones, tablets, pc’s, internet, cable tv, DVD’s or other electronics.  You will quickly find out what you have been missing, such as talking with your family, reading books, playing musical instruments, inventing things, fixing things, learning things, eating with people who are present and making conversation about your life and the people you love.

We had to fight for our independence as we started this nation.  Now is a good time to exercise total freedom from the seductive draw of virtual opioids.

What Are We Watching? – Peter, Parkinson, Murphy Rule

Parkinson’s Law suggests that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”  The Peter Principle posits, “in any hierarchy people tend to rise in the hierarchy through promotion until they reach the levels of their respective incompetence.” Murphy’s Law states that “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, at exactly the wrong moment.”

All three ideas developed before the current age of exponential, media expansion.  What is so amazing is, that in the age of the Internet, and myriad TV channels, these three principles combine to form a valid hybrid theorem I have dubbed the “Information Extinction Horizon,” (IEH). This new IEH theorem states that, “as media content expands to fill existing bandwidth, it declines logarithmically to inane, bogus levels of incredibility, intellectual value, journalistic validity, and schlock, while simultaneously accelerating from bare facts to all possible interpretive opinions, and providing exactly the wrong information to the wrong people, at the most inopportune time, or, worse yet, no information of discernible value at any time. ” This is a clear refutation of e=mc2.

Major corollaries to the IEH theorem relate to the milieu of internet blogging outlets, social media platforms and any other posts of personal and political natures, including pure invention, and pictures of what one’s dog ate for breakfast (including recipes).

Using Google News as a proof, rate the value and verity of their current page of articles.  In your analysis, include the sub-articles and the number of outlets with different, (apologists use the word “nuanced”) versions of the same reportage.  Notice how the results form nebulae, galaxies, solar systems and planets of personal, political, regional, national, celebrity, and sports-team-loyalty cohorts.

Also notice how futile efforts to filter searches of any topic have become.

Added support to the new hybrid theorem is Parkinson’s Law of Triviality: “members of an organization give disproportionate weight to trivial issues.”  Browsers and search/advertising engines of major internet “organizations” amplify and degrade the value of content at the same time with advertising “pollution.”

For now, we must rely on anecdotal evidence and impressions to support the new theorem, but then, anecdotal is the essence of the theorem to begin with.

Stephen Hawking 100-Year Horizon – Human Nature Will Not Let US Survive

The most sacrosanct assumptions in projections of the future pertain to the uninhibited “right” to have children.  Arguments galore might pan the notion that having children is not a right, it is a luxury the future may not afford.

Ask yourself:

What is the source of pollution?
What is the source of famine?
What is the source of war?

The answer to all the problems posed by fatalists is simple:  people.

People, from birth to grave consume and emit.  Without technology, with technology, it does not matter.  Being alive adds to the problems we work so hard to offset.  Yes, you and I demand food, water, clothing, shelter, and many products and services that require resources.

In the extractive era, all we had to do was harvest.  We fished, hunted, drank water, felled trees, built fires, made tools, developed agriculture, and diverted rivers to allow us to harvest even more from nature.  And what did we contribute in exchange for the bounty we consumed?  Effluence.

So vast was the trove of resources, we had the energy, tools, and bodies to plant and husband, delve and drill, sail and dive, smelt and forge ourselves weapons and consumptive infrastructures.

The constant threat of extinction was real and constant.  The rate of mortality for mothers and babies was daunting.  The mortality of hunters and soldiers was also constant.  Not only was procreation allowed, it was demanded of women by men, relatives, and religions.

Numerous times, depopulation was significant, through wars and diseases.  The specter of extinction haunted our species, and still does in nuclear and cosmic ways.

It is ironic that the solution to our fears is the source of our threats – more people. Preserving resources ranks lower than species’ survival.  Increasing consumption of resources, and the byproducts that creates, threatens our existence.

Our nature demands that we dig our own graves, rather than curb our breeding.  Is it wrong?  Define wrong.

Millions of Americans Install Russian “Spyware” on PC’s

Update 9/15/17: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/09/14/why-the-u-s-government-is-moving-to-ban-this-russian-software-company/?utm_term=.829b6e95c13f

At last, DHS decided to plug a possibly benign hole in our info-armor, by requiring removal of Kaspersky software from government computers.

They only have authority in the executive branch of government, but “the cat is out of the bag,” and NOBODY in the other branches dares defend the cat.  I wonder what CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and the rest of the media will do?  The “Russia” thing has grown so prevalent, toxic, and taboo, that I bet vodka sales are down, at least vodka made by Russia and it’s satellites.  Fortunately, with the exception of borscht, cossacks, and the nested wooden dolls, I cannot think of any other “things” in American society that are possibly associated with Moscow, except maybe Hillary.

 

Update 7/2/17: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article159342929.html

In the 21st century, anyone in America, without awareness and knowledge of computers, is as vulnerable as a “babe in the woods.”  The information age has vaulted into predominance of American’s attention without the benefit of requisite education, warnings, and orientation.  And this extends to all the people who, together, run our government.

Unfortunately, computers have become easy to use too quickly, and recklessly; it is like giving a hammer to a baby.  Americans can send and receive emails, visit on Skype, download free “stuff,” shop til their fingers or credit cards give out, bare their most intimate and inane secrets and weaknesses, seek love, watch videos, etc.

Americans are as ignorant about “hacking,” as they are about “fracking.”  “Hacking” sounds like chopping away at something like wood, or meat.  The concepts of computer hacking are not too different, except computer hackers are trying to log in to computer networks by trying to identify an administrative  user account; otherwise they test countless combinations of usernames and passwords.  They are burglars trying to steal valuable information, such as Ms Clinton-related emails, or damage, or hijack your system for ransom.  They look for anyone who has access to everything interesting and “hack” their account.

Hackers count on users being careless and simple in choosing their log in credentials. Sometimes users use their home computers or laptops to connect to their work computers. That means a “hacker” can find out how to connect to other network computers through your computer using your credentials.

How do they get into your system?  Through the internet, mostly through email links or attachments, otherwise they use multiple login attempts.  Sometimes, seemingly innocent emails or downloads can install software that gives a hacker the keys to everything on your computer, including your identity information, accounts, and financial information.

So, we take steps to protect ourselves with anti-virus, and anti-malware programs.  These programs learn and have access to every intimate detail about your computer and its connections to the internet.  They are supposed to detect, deter, and destroy any harmful files that come your way.  But wait; what if this software is turned against you?

How asleep at the switch, clueless, and careless can we be?  Millions of Americans have blithely installed Russian software on our own computers, supposedly, to protect us from malicious intrusions, and we are surprised when we are violated?  Really?  This software holds the keys to access everything on any computer that uses it, and any computer that connects to it or its networks.

We could have, should have looked beyond the advertising, (even ads on public radio,) and no cost downloads to the company that offers it; but we have not.  Even if you uninstalled the software, did it really remove every trace of itself?  Or, could it have left some tiny, hidden, latent elements designed to give itself a “back door” to your computer?  How would you know?

Anti-virus and anti-malware software is supposed to guard our computers from harm; it has access to everything on our computers and everything from other computers that communicate with; email, surfing, contacts, documents, programs, firewalls, passwords, yes, everything.  It is supposed to identify and neutralize threats from people and programs that seek to ransom, destroy, and steal our most valuable, sensitive information.  How carefully have we researched the sources of the programs and data we have on our computers?

Did you know that Kaspersky Labs, renowned for its anti-virus/malware powers, is owned by Russians and headquartered in Moscow?  Check out this link.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaspersky_Lab

I wonder, how many Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Greens have Kaspersky software on their computers?  I wonder how many other programs we might have downloaded that could be secret agents for our enemies?

 

Parents Addict Children – Screen Zombies

Parents put their babies in front of television and tablet screens to entertain and “babysit” them.  Parents and teachers believe children can advance their knowledge through computer “learning systems.” Parents surrender to the pressure from their preadolescent daughters for smartphones so they can text their friends and share activities through social media.  Children spend hours at their computers and tablets absorbed in online role-playing and video games.

The problem is these children can easily become lifetime addicts to their virtual worlds.  Notice the bent heads of children with their families in restaurants; they are not saying grace.  Check out kids in buses and the back seats of cars; how many are looking out the windows or talking to each other?

Listen for that faint buzzing sound in movie theaters, and watch the Pavlovian response of children who cannot resist answering voice and text messages no matter when or where they are.

Dr. Nicholas Kardaras is an expert in addiction and rehabilitation.  He paints a chilling picture of the futures of these children in his book “Glow Kids.”  He operates rehabilitation centers for drug and alcohol addiction.  The problem with “screen addiction” is there is no way to eliminate the “substance” from their environment; tech stimulations are everywhere, waiting for the addicts to notice and return to them.

The trance induced by these addictions is powerful; people can spend hours at the screen and be totally unaware of the passage of time or the events that happen around them; their lives have been hijacked, and that part of their lives is gone.

Social media addicts get emotionally engaged with people they never met, pictures of somebody’s lunch, and silent “verbal” exchanges. When I was growing up, if someone teased me or called me names, I was taught to say, “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”, or “I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you.”, or “so are you.”  It really worked for me (except when sticks or stones, or fists or feet were actually employed.  THAT was what we called bullying;).

Now, kids are committing suicide in response to slurs or embarrassments.  Why would they do that? Think about it; no physical harm was done; a normal person would not react that way; it must be psychological; they would have to be addicts to respond that strongly to “cyberbullying.”  Not knowing about the addiction leaves most adult, non-addicts perplexed about what to do.  Instead of rehabbing and strengthening the psyche of the addict target, we try to outlaw bullying; what a thankless, futile waste of energy and time when dealing with children at that stage of development.

I defer to the experts on what to do and not do, but reading this book would not hurt your understanding of this problem.

A Business Owner’s Response To Obamacare

What a great time to load more burdens on business.  Just as the US economy has leveled off from its scary decline, the federal government has chosen to add regulations and taxes relating to health care insurance to the choice of whether to hire or keep an employee.

I suggest that now is the perfect time to deal with this extra cost head-on with a new concept of employment compensation:  Total Compensation Agreements.  That’s right, fire all your employees and rehire them under TCA’s.  A Total Compensation Agreement would put a number on the total amount the employer will pay for the services of an employee.  If the number is $75,000, then that amount would be allocated among the employer’s costs related to the employee; what was left would be their paycheck.

We are fortunate to live in the age of computers that can calculate how this would work out.  For example, if the employee’s health insurance is $25,000 for a family of 4, the program would subtract that amount from the $75,000 leaving $50,000; if the employer’s cost of  FICA, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation, etc., was $5,000, that would be subtracted from the $50,000 leaving $45,000; if the employee’s withholding and FICA was $7,500, that would leave take home pay of $37,500.  That is it.

If the business cannot afford to pay more than $75,000 for this employee’s services, or the employee cannot afford to live on $37,500, then no job.

The TCA structure would eliminate all minimum wage employees, and almost all less skilled workers from consideration.  Only those people whose productivity and lifestyle matched the profile would be employed.  Already, many business have found that redesigning their business model to use technology and fewer people makes sense.

What else can a business owner do?  It is either this approach or failure as a business.  Do the numbers.

So far, the only thing a business owner does not have to do is stay in business.