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Internet Culture

Day 1148 and ayyy lmao

Ayyy lmao

One of my Twitter mutuals Visa of Friendly Ambitious Nerd fame has a meme format he’s perfected with the Scylla and Charbrydis mythos that has become colloquially known as ayy lmao.

If one must sail between monsters representing inescapable and opposing existential threats (yes that’s a metaphor for life) then the only path through is to just sail on.

I see a lot of “fuck it, we ball” energy in the air now. It’s been emerging slowly but surely over the last two years or so. The inclination to say to hell with the odds represents a commitment to action. With Safetyism everywhere who wouldn’t simply want to say fuck it ayy lmao?

Categories
Travel

Day 1127 and Smooth Sailing

I’m on the last leg of my journey. Yesterday I was marveling at the miracles but today I’m putting one foot ahead of the other. I want to keep getting through the connections and keep my head down.

I’ve had a relatively uneventful trip. No weather got in the way. No mechanical or crew issues delayed us for more than a few minutes No unruly passengers threw fits.

Even getting through security at my least favorite airport wasn’t so bad. Getting through airport security with injectable biologics is usually chore but the Gods smiled on me.

I appreciate how with tempered expectations every moment of travel can be appreciated. Smooth sailing in a choppy ocean is worth a smile.

Categories
Travel

Day 1126 and Modern Miracles

I am in transit at the moment. I’ve never calculated how many times I’ve flown on an airplane but I’ll presume I’m in the triple digits.

It’s not a new experience but it still has the power to astound me. That ugly bags of mostly water had the cognitive power and social coordination skills to lift our species to the sky still astounds me. How we’ve come to view this as anything but miraculous is beyond me.

Flying over Southwest Montana

And yet we become inured to wonder so quickly. Two women on my first flight were complaining about how awful air travel is these days. A common complaint and one I agree with generally.

Prosperity has made air travel as common as taking a bus for Americans. So I suppose the privileged few who remember a more glamorous time can’t help but tut tut about hoi polloi ruining the experience. American Airlines is less miserable than Greyhound, but you’d never know it based on the kvetching.

We’d been stuck on our plane after landing for twenty minutes or so. We’d arrived early so no good deed goes unpunished.

It was the first leg of my journey but seemingly the end of theirs as the two compared how long it has taken to arrive to their destination. Multiple flight delays and rerouting had given one woman a 40 hour transit for what amounted to regional travel.

I’ll be transiting over multiple days. It’s simply how it’s done at this point if you are going internationally. It’s obnoxious, time consuming and exhausting. And yet the miracle of our species achievement is still clear to me. I hope I still feel that way further into my journey.

Categories
Media Startups

Day 1110 and Somatic

I’m upset. I feel it in my body. Soma apparently means “body” in Latin, somatic is “of the body” so to have a response in your body is a somatic response. I’m having a somatic response.

I’ve been surprised at the emotional campaigns that have been waged against technology in the general, and artificial intelligence in the specific, as of late. But I am starting to feel the emotional weight of the collective fear and emotion in my own body. Futureshock is here and the fear mongers are here to tell you and I that we should be afraid.

This weekend there was op-ed was published in IEEE entitled Open Source Artificial Intelligence is Uniquely Dangerous.”

The o-ed was written by David Evan Harris who is a chancellor’s public scholar at UC Berkeley. He used to work a Meta on ethical AI. Now this not the opinion of IEEE which is calls itself “the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity.”

You’d think that sort of mission would be a little more on board with new technologies. But maybe David is just an extreme voice. Op-Ed’s are meant to represent a variety of opinions after all.

But how should I feel about the benefits of technology when it’s presented to me like this? They used a skull to really get across the visceral fear. No friendly face to make a concession to our silly human anthropomorphic desires. Let’s scare the stupid hairless apes.

Don’t worry the government and regulations will save us from this psychedelic skull

I have an inherent skepticism when someone wants to sell me on the dangers of regular people having access to something new and potentially transformative. Why must we always default to the precautionary principle? Why is fear always our default?

I don’t want to let this sort of thing get to me. But I can see the narrative campaign being waged against artificial intelligence and the sheer volume and tenor of coverage leads me to believe that everyone is aware of its potential.

Claiming artificial intelligence is only for the knowledgeable few chosen by committee of expert sounds so sensible. But I think my body knows better. I should be upset by this.

Categories
Travel

Day 1064 and Faster San Francisco

I am energized by my day. Any residual pain from the challenges of travel have been mitigated by rest, exercise, meditation and lots of medication.

If I could to give only one argument in favor of acceleration, it would be our capacity to improve medicine. I’d like to find a cure to my ankylosis personally, but it’s bigger than all that. I believe we should do everything we can to improve the health and well being of humanity.

I do so much to balance my own health and wellbeing just so I can keep working and contributing to the startups I love so much. Often I miss so much of life that others take for granted like socializing together. Hobbies, socializing and much of the tapestry of living together is off limits to me as energy budget is too high.

I’d like more capacity in life so I can chose not only to work, but to go to meetups, dinners and whatever else folks get up to in their leisure and community hours.

I am not one for FOMO while I’m in bed recovering, but on the occasional day where I get to do leisure activities I am reminded that I could have more of life if we agreed to prioritize the acceleration of medicine. My energy budget is only limited by the state of our healthcare.

On that note I’ll be at an e/acc meetup tonight in San Francisco. If you think you see me do please come up and say hello. I’d love to meet you. I’ll be wearing the leopard dress I have come to think of as the “spot me in the wild” outfit as well as three distinct wearables.

Categories
Internet Culture Politics Startups

Day 1058 and Battle Plans

The sense of anger, frustration and disappointment in Silicon Valley startup circles over the current regulatory mess around artificial intelligence and compute limits is intense. #FreedomToCompute is resonating.

As with any new technology there are invested interests, naysayers, panicking and paranoia. Which would be enough to make us remember past battles over encryption and privacy. This time we’ve got the cherry on top of existential risk.

While I agree that artificial intelligence is a technology that will have many risks, I tend to think of them as of the more quotidian types like algorithmic bias. We cannot allow incumbent powers to centralize a new technology that can and should benefit us all.

Math and computing power are as essential as speech. In today’s world, they ARE speech. We may speak in natural language, but the way we extend ourselves, build things, and grow as a species is through our tools. Computation is a tool.

We oppose all attempts to restrict computational power and envision a world where we all have the right to build whatever we can dream.

#FreedomtoCompute Julie Fredrickson

Categories
Community Emotional Work

Day 1057 and Grateful for Disappointment

Thanksgiving is one of America’s strangest and most utopian holidays. We take a day at the end of the fall harvest season, just as we head into the darkest time of the year, to give thanks for having survived the last the cycle.

Everyone who makes it to the Thanksgiving table is symbolically finding a place of security, abundance, friendship and family. Even if it’s just for an hour.

It’s within this bittersweet context that I think being grateful for disappointment is a worthy objective. I say the serenity prayer with that thought in mind.

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Serenity Prayer

While I am grateful for all of the things that went my way this year, I am as glad that I have been able to accept the things I cannot change.

The disappointments in life are endless and personal. Our own family stories are shaped by the intimate family dynamics of feeling loved, secure, safe and empowered. No childhood is without some emotional ups and downs.

If you feel disappointment it’s a privilege. You extended enough empathy and love that you could be hurt. The trust required for this is one of life’s most human experiences. To love people that have disappointed us is to find peace with forgiveness. May we invite that forgiveness into our lives.

I give Thanksgiving for being able to feel connection with full knowledge of its risks and rewards.

Categories
Aesthetics Culture

Day 1053 and Revivalism

You’ve gotta have faith.

I am a little surprised to find myself discussing what appears to be a genuine revivalist movement from all walks of life.

“This particular corner of Twitter” is neo-Shakerism. The singularity is always coming is coming for the computer nerds. The rationalists are pitted against futurists. Steely realists admit to having woo sensibilities about the nature of reality.

But we are also being subjected to surprisingly archetypal forms of the hero’s journey in every single news story and social media narrative at alarmingly rapid rate. A rational man is going to want to wag the dog. We do a little kayfabe. The crowd cheers its hero.

But also mere men are elevated to strange statuses. You can believe in a cause but be unsure of the martyrs and mercenaries that fight for it. I feel like if you were really that horny for the Roman Empire you’d have more dates handy on Caesars and the savior and be a little less focused on the Gladiators and the bread and circus.

But we’ve got people who can conjure fire and this time it’s not priests but machine learning engineers who write fan fiction about British Boarding schools that are in charge. The biggest dork you know gets to summon God. It’s not that irrational to worry we’ve summoned elder gods isn’t the of the divine right? Folk stories have some meaning right?

And like sure Bayesian inferences says maybe you should worship a Flying Spaghetti Monster. I say watch out for those Babylon death culture memetics because we didn’t have the right inference field about the sun for most of history. The trickster god can be summoned as sure as the devil. Lets remember information hygiene was not good for most of history so it paid to have some prejudices.

Nevertheless the worship of men has gods has generally been iffy. And so, and I can’t entirely explain it as evidenced by the rambling writing in doing this weekend, but the hive mine of the Internet feels like a real team effort at controlling popular opinion about the arrival of the promised land.

And sure I have recency bias. While I was in Amsterdam for the Network State Conference I was missing a gathering of what amounts to Christian hippie revivalists. Another node of my network that m feels adjacent to both technology and culture was at a Catholic divinity school in Washington D.C. Meanwhile my feed makes whisper jokes of mystery cults and computational power. Worship is powerful. I’ve talked to all sorts of rationalists into new forms of woo and, magic. We speak of queens and divas and witches. Everyone is sure that something is coming and they feel the divine.

It’s within these networks of social organization and belief where I see clashes of power and organization. There are political theorists and economists contending with what a centralized higher authority might do make for more efficient resource allocation. Appeal to authority! We have any number of radical thinkers who are essentially rogue elements of human consensus who are if they seized with a little bit of “agreed on common good” we can revolutionize how we do resource allocation. Central planning is so scientific. Tith!

I feel a little bit like the drama of everyone having access to social media has made us all participate in elaborate fan fictions about who moves the world. I see all over my timeline Zoomers staning over Schopenhauer and Heidegger and Kant as if they were secret movers of history. And they are.

We’ve got a genre of signalling on the internet where if you find a theorist whose mother wrote a nasty letter to him for being socially awkward you’d get people discussing general trauma dumping. Did you understand that? I’m sorry to say you have brain worms and you’ve been trained on a steady diet of rebellion and empire. Be safe out there.

Categories
Media Startups

Day 1051 and Wild Speculation

My timeline got absolutely imploded by the news that Sam Altman has been fired by the board of OpenAI. I’ve got so many priors and biases and you probably can guess at some of them. Others I hope I’ve played a little closer to the chest. I do not know what happened.

Everyone in Silicon Valley is going Matthew McConaughey paranoid smoking conspiracies

I do think we’d know more about what the fuck was going if we had the kind of reporting that was a little more shoot from the hip and a little less tsk tsk regime. I’ve never missed Valleywag more.

I do think it’s been an impossibly weird week and everyone is as reactive as it is possible to be. Silicon Valley has always had factions and drama and the Federal government breathing down its neck. So this feels like a little bit of the same cycle of power and drama that we’ve always had. No one is ever an angel and the devils are often unexpected. It’s best not to make a martyr out of mercenaries. Just don’t be too sure you know what army you’ve been drafted into.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 1016 and Carrying On

It’s been a terrible week. I feel stupid even typing it. How many times can I state the obvious? It’s as if the repetition of stating that I’m in a hard place physically, and emotionally, somehow shames me. Can’t I say or feel something new?

But I don’t have any desire to dig any deeper into the wounds of the present. I am in too much pain. I am deeply emotionally affected by the situation in Israel. In ways I frankly didn’t anticipate. Those horrors overlapping with being sick, being far from home, and having a significant personal milestone, have collectively laid me flat.

I’d prefer to remain silent but the exercise of daily writing pulls at my habits no matter the extent of the misery. And maybe that’s the point. No microcosm of personal suffering or global macro view of atrocity changes the reality. Pain is an equally shared human condition. And we walk through it no matter our circumstances.

I have to assume I am not alone. The ambient misery is both personal and collective. The human experience is terrifyingly universal. I am fearful of my own physical fragility when abroad certainly but it’s bigger than being away from home. I’m afraid of being fragile in a cruel world that is getting crueler.

I’ve struggled to maintain a level head and a healthy routine this week as the whiplash of a hostile immune reaction and steroids took me from one misery to another. Prednisone is a cruel drug. It tamps down any reaction from your immune system. It’s a hard reboot for a physical system gone haywire. How appropriate given the circumstances.

It wasn’t quite how I envisioned turning over from one decade to another. And while I appreciated the stormy Baltic solitude to savor the weight and significance of my personal milestone, I can’t help but also notice that carrying on feels like a heavy burden.