Sunday Surfing 03/07/16

“Development involves both change and challenge and also continuity. So to see the norm as stability is wrong.”  – Michael Rutter, King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience

Historia_ Nikolaos Gysis_1892

Talking story is the Hawaiian expression for sharing about yourself. How cool is that?

“Resilience initially was talked about as if it were a trait, and it’s become clear that’s quite the wrong way of looking at it. It’s a process, it’s not a thing…

[Just as the body needs to be exposed to germs to develop immunity, so does the psyche:] “Development involves both change and challenge and also continuity. So to see the norm as stability is wrong.” – Michael Rutter, researcher at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience

“Autobiographical memory is the process whereby you record and encode your own experiences and make sense of [them],” explains Eamon McCrory, Professor of Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology at University College London. “We know that individuals who have depression and PTSD have… an over-general autobiographical memory pattern, where they lack specificity in their recall of past experience… We also know that kids who have experienced maltreatment can show higher levels of this over-general memory pattern. And longitudinal studies have shown that a pattern of over-general memory can act as a risk factor for future disorder.

“One hypothesis is that the over-general memory limits an individual’s ability to effectively assimilate and negotiate future experiences, because we draw on our past experiences to be able to predict the contingencies and likelihood of events in the future, and use that knowledge to negotiate those experiences well. So… over-general memory might limit one’s ability to negotiate future stressors.”  Lucy Maddox reports in mosaicscience.com

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Practicing resiliency: yes, we have been saying that over and over again this year. As long as the nodes are in mutible houses, flexibility is a key word for all of us. You can consciously start by practicing in little ways every day…to repeat, ‘its a process, not a thing’.

An ‘over-general memory’ is a new articulation for me. I really like that it provides yet another descriptor in my counseling  and coaching work, a new way to launch discussion. And its got me thinking on a fuzzy memory or two of my own. The natal astrology wheel is so very personal and unique; unpacking that wheel, facet by facet, via the mind/body/spirit experience of Living Now cannot help but expand our  understanding of our memories and the wiring our story has wrought. The subsequent gift is a genuine and applied appreciation for the others in our world.

Plutonian Prototype

Take a trip back in history with an interview from the 70s in the Paris Review. Excerpt: ‘Jan Morris was born James Humphrey Morris on October 2, 1926, in Somerset, England. As she recalled in her memoir, Conundrum, “I was three or four when I realized that I had been born into the wrong body, and should really be a girl.” …But he would live as a man for the next thirty-six years…

INTERVIEWER

Is there a book you’ve written as Jan that James would not have written?

MORRIS

Pleasures of a Tangled Life. The whole point of this book of essays is to try to present the sensibility that has been created or has evolved out of “the conundrum experience,” as we say in our evasive, euphemistic way. People who come to interview me at home often ask, Do you mind if we talk about the conundrum thing? The book tries to present, to readers as well as myself, what kind of a sensibility has resulted from this sort of thing. I think the conundrum aspect runs subliminally through the whole book. I recognize that the pleasures, nearly all of them, are ones that I enjoy in a particular way because of “the conundrum thing.”

INTERVIEWER

Do you feel that having been a man at one time in your life gives you more courage to make excursions on your own?

MORRIS

Yes. There’s a hangover from the confidence I had as a man. When I started, the feminist movement hadn’t really happened, so, of course, there was more of a gulf between a male and female traveler. Now things are very, very different. Many women are unnecessarily timid about travel. I don’t believe it is so different for a woman or a man nowadays. Of course, there are actual physical dangers of a different kind. But the general run of hazard is exactly the same for men as for women, and the treatment that a woman gets when traveling is, by and large, better. People are less frightened of you. They tend to trust you more. The relationship between women, between one woman and another, is a much closer one than the relationship between men. Wherever a woman travels in the world she’s got a few million friends waiting to help her.

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I think perhaps there is a bit of ‘bubble-speak’ in that last statement but its lovely in theory. But wow, what fortitude, faith in self gnosis and loving support Jan must have sought and summoned. RESPECT.

For a 21st experience of another female journey (you can work on your empathy skills, guys) – and a lot of laughs out loud, watch bad feminist, Roxane Gay, keepin’ it real.

 

The Illusion of Understanding

‘…we have this fantasy of a machine reading, or machines being able to watch television programs and figure out what’s going on. Obviously, the three-letter agencies would like to do this. But if you want to advance in science or technology, we’d like for machines to be able to take all the literature that’s out there and synthesize it in a way that people can’t. This is part of why I do AI, because the potential is there to totally change medicine, to invent science that we haven’t even thought about. To do that, we need machines that can read, and to do that, they need to go beyond the data. There’s just not enough data to brute force your way to scientific understanding…’  – much more from Gary Marcus of Geometric Intelligence at edge.org.

 

 

Death is the ultimate field-leveler. So we all have a role to play in reimagining the end of life experience. The challenge is that it’s a topic people tend to avoid. – Dana Cho at Core77 on ‘how design can truly make an impact in people’s end of life experiences.’ They are welcoming everyone to share their stories and ideas in an effort to transform this stage of life experience.

 

It’s understandable that readers would expect a mention of the brexit from me and I do have a couple of thoughts to share. 1. It is my understanding that the age group of 18-24 year olds are a substantial voting block and they wanted to stay in the E.U.  2. It is my understanding that the majority of 18-24 year olds did not get themselves to a voting station. And now they are upset. So, Get Real. Ideals require effort. Magic requires effort. 3. While I can well appreciate the pros of the UK remaining in the block, there are absolutely some very positive potentials that this island nation could navigate into being from where it stands now. Who is going to work the hardest for their version of what is best now?

On a related side note:

Birthdays – and conceptions – occurring from the 23rd of February ‘88 through 6 February ’91 all carry the energy imprint of Neptune, Saturn and Uranus in Capricorn.

I look forward to big slices of time for contemplation on that ‘unfolding picture’. I would be delighted with any feedback you may have.

’til next time, be well. For personal guidance, reach me at elemental.living@yahoo.com

  • weaver

 

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Sunday Surfing 20/03/16

While it’s true that the Sun now turns its pulsating beams upon the warrior’s way, we may still feel we are somewhat pleasantly wading through water-color scenery. That’s how it feels here and we are leaning into it. Any lagging pace wont last much long, thats for sure. In honor of our Pisces pile-up, particularly the potentially luscious Venus conjunction with Neptune, percolate on some quantum-ly quotes that span the spirit and concrete worlds…

 

Intelligence operates simultaneously at two distinct levels: In one level it is the pure onlooker, the Witness; in another, the lower level, it is the actor and constitutor. These two distinct levels of activity of God or the higher Intellect, the one transcendent and the other immanent, is reflected in the human plane as the two principal modes of wakefulness, i.e. a wakefulness in the world and a wakefulness to the world: This is the distinction between the active and the contemplative life. But even the active life, action here implying outward mobility, is founded on the contemplative activity of the spirit. After all, everything is contemplation, for the One is contemplation par excellence: It is contemplation that creates, i.e. transcendentally constitutes, the field of action. – Tomaj Javidtash, metaphysicist

 

outerplaces.com reports that Dr. Hans-Peter Dürr, former head of the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich, posits that, just as a particle “writes” all of its information on its wave function, the brain is the tangible “floppy disk” on which we save our data, and this data is then “uploaded” into the spiritual quantum field. Continuing with this analogy, when we die the body, or the physical disk, is gone, but our consciousness, or the data on the computer, lives on…and Dr. Christian Hellwig of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, found evidence that information in our central nervous system is phase encoded, a type of coding that allows multiple pieces of data to occupy the same time. He said, “Our thoughts, our will, our consciousness and our feelings show properties that could be referred to as spiritual properties…No direct interaction with the known fundamental forces of natural science, such as gravitation, electromagnetic forces, etc. can be detected in the spiritual. On the other hand, however, these spiritual properties correspond exactly to the characteristics that distinguish the extremely puzzling and wondrous phenomena in the quantum world.”

The ever-fascinating edge.org conversations series recently featured Stephen Wolfram speaking on AI and the Future of Civilisation:

The interesting language point is that today we have computer languages, which, for the most part, are intended for computers only. They’re not intended for humans to read and understand. They’re intended to tell computers in detail what to do. Then we have natural language, which is intended for human-to-human communication.

I’ve been trying to build this knowledge-based language, where it’s intended for communication between humans and machines in a way where humans can read it and machines can understand it too, where we’re incorporating a lot of the existing knowledge of the world into the language in the same way that in human natural language we are constantly incorporating knowledge of the world into the language, because it helps us in communicating things. One branch that I’m interested in right now is what the world looks like when most people can read and write code.

What’s the future of the humans in a world where, once we can describe what we want to do, things can get done automatically? What do the humans do? One of my little hobby projects is trying to understand the evolution of human purposes over time. Today, we’ve got all kinds of purposes. We sit and have a big discussion about purposes, which presumably has some purpose. We do all the different things that we do in the world.

Can you imagine a world in which we all naturally read and write in a virtually universal code? In pure symbols. I wonder how the emergence of this phenomenon would influence the artistic communities of the world. Personally, I’m thinking: fascinating, even alluring in an abstract way, with a slice of dread…  🙂

And last but not least, a possible fly in our ointment:

‘Science is regarded as rational, but we must remember that it is formed by ideology and national emotions.’ Professor Michael Schultz, University of Agder (source)

 

 

 

 

Warning: 21st Century Mythology Employs Retrograde Vocabulary

There is a new presentation up over at edge.com featuring Jaron Lanier, a genius in computer science, that I want to recommend. It is super helpful in putting into context the concept of the Singularity. Because I think this information is so important to be aware of, I have quoted him below on what I think are his key points for reflection but you can (should!) listen to the soundcloud interview or read the unedited transcript by clicking here:The Myth Of AI

Do you feel incompetent when it comes to comprehending and navigating the digital database economy in which we now live? I wonder how much of that is down to a reasonable hesitancy in dealing with the new and unfamiliar that has morphed into ‘the Great and Terrible Unknowable’. Lanier’s statements offer a reset button of sorts for our attitudes towards Artificial Intelligence. We can use the frictional energy of the times to our everyday advantage in positive ways and that starts with re-imagining, re-visualizing current trends and trajectories and our rightful place in them.

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JARON LANIER:
The idea that computers are people has a long and storied history. It goes back to the very origins of computers, and even from before. There’s always been a question about whether a program is something alive or not since it intrinsically has some kind of man vs machineautonomy at the very least, or it wouldn’t be a program. There has been a domineering subculture—that’s been the most wealthy, prolific, and influential subculture in the technical world—that for a long time has not only promoted the idea that there’s an equivalence between algorithms and life, and certain algorithms and people, but a historical determinism that we’re inevitably making computers that will be smarter and better than us and will take over from us. Some like the idea of the computers taking over, and some of them don’t. What I’d like to do here today is propose that the whole basis of the conversation is itself askew, and confuses us, and does real harm to society and to our skills as engineers and scientists…

Let’s go to another layer of how it’s dysfunctional. And this has to do with just clarity of user interface, and then that turns into an economic effect. People are social creatures. We want to be pleasant, we want to get along. We’ve all spent many years as children learning how to adjust ourselves so that we can get along in the world. If a program tells you, well, this is how things are, this is who you are, this is what you like, or this is what you should do, we have a tendency to accept that. I’ll give you a few examples of what I mean by that. Maybe I’ll start with Netflix. The thing about Netflix is that there isn’t much on it. There’s a paucity of content on it. If you think of any particular movie you might blog_thezeitgeistmovement_comwant to see, the chances are it’s not available for streaming, that is; that’s what I’m talking about. And yet there’s this recommendation engine, and the recommendation engine has the effect of serving as a cover to distract you from the fact that there’s very little available from it. And yet people accept it as being intelligent, because a lot of what’s available is perfectly fine. Dating always has an element of manipulation; shopping always has an element of manipulation; in a sense, a lot of the things that people use these things for have always been a little manipulative. There’s always been a little bit of nonsense. And that’s not necessarily a terrible thing, or the end of the world. But it’s important to understand it if this is becoming the basis of the whole economy and the whole civilization. If people are deciding what books to read based on a momentum within the recommendation engine that isn’t going back to a virgin population, that hasn’t been manipulated, then the whole thing is spun out of control and doesn’t mean anything anymore. It’s not so much a rise of evil as a rise of nonsense. It’s a mass incompetence, as opposed to Skynet from the Terminator movies. That’s what this type of AI turns into…

If you talk about AI as a set of techniques, as a field of study in mathematics or engineering, it brings benefits. If we talk about AI as a mythology of creating a post-human species, it creates a series of problems that I’ve just gone over, which include acceptance of bad user interfaces, where you can’t tell if you’re being manipulated or not, and everything is ambiguous. It creates incompetence, because you don’t know whether recommendations are coming from anything real or just self-fulfilling prophecies from a manipulative system that spun off on its own, and economic negativity, because you’re gradually pulling formal economic benefits away from the people who supply the data that makes the scheme work….the mythology is the problem, not the algorithms. To back up again, I’ve given two reasons why the mythology of AI is stupid, even if the actual stuff is great. The first one is that it results in periodic disappointments that cause damage to careers and startups, and it’s a ridiculous, seasonal disappointment and devastation that we shouldn’t be randomly imposing on people according to when they happen to hit the cycle. That’s the AI winter problem. The second one is that it causes unnecessary negative benefits to society for technologies that are useful and good. The mythology brings the problems, not the technology…

This idea that some lab somewhere is making these autonomous algorithms that can take over the world is a way of avoiding the profoundly uncomfortable political problem, which is that if there’s some actuator that can do harm, we have to figure out some way that people don’t do harm with it. There are about to be a whole bunch of those. And that’ll involve some kind of new societal structure that isn’t perfect anarchy. Nobody in the tech world wants to face that, so we lose ourselves in these fantasies of AI. But if you could somehow prevent AI from ever happening, it would have nothing to do with the actual problem that we fear, and that’s the sad thing, the difficult thing we have to face…

To my mind, the mythology around AI is a re-creation of some of the traditional ideas about religion, but applied to the technical world…There’s an anticipation of a threshold,th00GTZ9CK_flickerdotcom an end of days. This thing we call artificial intelligence, or a new kind of personhood… If it were to come into existence it would soon gain all power, supreme power, and exceed people.The notion of this particular threshold—which is sometimes called the singularity, or super-intelligence, or all sorts of different terms in different periods—is similar to divinity. Not all ideas about divinity, but a certain kind of superstitious idea about divinity, that there’s this entity that will run the world, that maybe you can pray to, maybe you can influence, but it runs the world, and you should be in terrified awe of it. That particular idea has been dysfunctional in human history. It’s dysfunctional now, in distorting our relationship to our technology. It’s been dysfunctional in the past in exactly the same way. Only the words have changed…

If AI means this mythology of this new creature we’re creating, then it’s just a stupid mess that’s confusing everybody, and harming the future of the economy. If what we’re blacklistednewsdotcomtalking about is a set of algorithms and actuators that we can improve and apply in useful ways, then I’m very interested, and I’m very much a participant in the community that’s improving those things. Unfortunately, the standard vocabulary that people use doesn’t give us a great way to distinguish those two entirely different items that one might reference. …this vocabulary problem is entirely retrograde and entirely characteristic of traditional religions…In the history of organized religion, it’s often been the case that people have been disempowered precisely to serve what were perceived to be the needs of some deity or another, where in fact what they were doing was supporting an elite class that was the priesthood for that deity…That looks an awful lot like the new digital economy to me, where you have (natural language) translators and everybody else who contributes to the corpora that allow the data schemes to operate, contributing mostly to the fortunes of whoever runs the top computers. The new elite might say, “Well, but they’re helping the AI, it’s not us, they’re helping the AI.” It reminds me of somebody saying, “Oh, build these pyramids, it’s in the service of this deity,” but, on the ground, it’s in the service of an elite. It’s an economic effect of the new idea. The effect of the new religious idea of AI is a lot like the economic effect of the old idea, religion.’

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Interesting side note: Jaron Lanier has no social media accounts at all and all purported ones are fake.

Comment here or reach me at elemental.living@yahoo.com