Archive for the ‘ Religion ’ Category

Moon Stories – Heavy Construction

Don’t ask me about the title. Moon stories these will be and you’ll know what kind they are by the label.

Every one of us has stories in our heads from long ago (whatever that means to each of us) that make us who we are. Each story is a little part of us and how we came to be who we are. This is one of those immortal stories that we keep like dreams in jar.

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What we see here are classic Matchbox imagination vehicles. Heavy duty work equipment. They’re not built for speed, they’re built for doing _stuff_ and despite my precociousness at the time, I had only a vague idea of what ‘doing stuff’ really meant. Look at these paragons of American nostalgia. Forget Ford Tough, nothing beats a Matchbox! These things go on forever. In case you are wondering these are the actual toys I played with when I was about 4. I might have been as young as 3 but my memory doesn’t give me that information. I remember these two vehicles with grand splendor. Yes, those are the right words. I learned a lot with these two particular little toys.

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I remember the house I lived in, that I was much shorter than a 50 gal barrel, and that I still ate in a high chair and could not talk much. It was all I could do to beg my parents to buy me a coocoo for coacoa puffs cookoo clock. It was quite a bit of money back then and I saved cereal box tops to help ‘pay’ for it.

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I can’t remember what major construction project I was working on with these two vehicles under the wrap around deck on a 1950’s duplex, but I know it was more important than lunch a couple of days. Had I known then what I know about project management I’d have certainly told the boss (mum) that the truck is unsuitable because it doesn’t have a dump bed and the tow truck simply has the wrong kind of equipment to get my truck out of the mess if it gets stuck and I need a front end loader to load the dump truck properly.

Even then I was independent and I had imagination (and not many Matchbox cars). So it was that my finger tips filled in where the front end loader should have been and I tipped the whole truck and pretended it was a dump bed so I could build the hills that I had seen along the highway. When the dump truck got stuck I used both hands to pretend the tow truck was pulling it out of the muck. Sure, that’s improvisation and it worked a treat at 3 years old. I only wish I could remember what awesome project we were working on at the time. Maybe besting the Hoover Damn? I don’t know.

There are things that I do know. I had no idea at the time that later in life being able to substitute one thing I have for a thing I needed but don’t have would become a skill that would make life bearable for me. I did not know then that play along to get along would be important. I did not understand that fake it till you make it would be a thing. I was just a kid in the dirt making do with what I had and being totally in control of my world. I did not know how important it would be in later life to be able to feel the illusion of control in my world.

I did not know that the mere illusion of control would make it possible for me to endure unnumbered embarrassments, unmeasurable peer pressure, and unbelievable pressure to conform to society. At three years old I was learning how to deal with the fucked up world we live in. I knew, even then, it’s about control or even just the illusion of control. When you’re in control things happen the way that you want them to happen, the outcomes are securely affixed to your desires. Control is the heart and soul of imagination.

Yes, I have memories from that early in my life and some earlier. I have a lot of these Moon Stories and what they taught me, how they made me the me that I am.

I have seen lots of people just pretending. I can see their dump trucks don’t actually dump and their tow trucks don’t really do the job yet they pretend that life is good and their thinking is sound as if their backyard dirt project is real with government funding. I’ve known since I was still in diapers that people pretend. It gets them through the day, to the next hurdle, sometimes beyond. They pretend that it’s all going to be okay, that wishing for a better tomorrow will make it happen, that praying to a god will change his divine plan in their favor.

What I did with these toys in later life was remember to know when my dump truck really isn’t a dump truck. In that way I’m pretty lucky.

How is your dump truck doing?

 

 

What Happens When Machines Become Conscious?

Ex Machina

One sentence review: Ava _is_ an anti-theist

Good graphics – check

Good story – check

Good action – not an action flick

Good sex – depends on your definition, does mind fuck count as sex?

Would Nietzsche have enjoyed it? Once he got over the fact that we have 1080i resolution televisions with 4k screens, he’d have loved it.

Should you watch it? Only if you like cerebral stories about consciousness and what it actually means to be a conscious machine (hint: humans are)

Favorite scene: When Ava goes shopping for body parts like any woman browsing through a clothing store after killing her god

What can you expect to see:

  • A visceral demonstration of the law of reciprocity
  • How important empathy is, also see the first item (then think about this one carefully)
  • Why a 15 million acre ranch is a bad idea
  • Why people watching is addictive
  • How to be a bad parent
  • Why you can’t rescue everyone that seems like they need it
  • How to tell a scifi story while avoiding all the technical details

What you won’t see:

  • How religious people will feel about strong AI or consciousness in any species other than humans
  • The answer to created consciousness and fears about the singularity
  • Why robotic FWB is a bad idea
  • How human psychology is the epitome of evolution in consciousness

Do watch it, I totally enjoyed it. I also recommend

 

 

Election Season In The USA … Again

As we remember the dead and the slowly dying none of us can avoid the fact that it is election season again. Here are something to think about as you spend the next months picking out who you will vote for.

Some handy rules for you:

1: Don’t listen to just anyone about the candidates. This is not about picking a burger joint to get lunch.

 

2: When candidates talk about religion or faith, keep in mind that faith and religion are not exactly winning attributes or virtues.

 

I know it won’t be easy to pick out the right candidates so look forward to nearly 24/7 coverage of all of them, what they eat, who they bedded, what their children are up to… it’s going to be reality television the way that it ought to be. Good luck.

 

Who Am I?

Those of you who have been reading here for a while know that I have a particular idea about consciousness and all that this implies. My idea is not really in line with mainstream thought and if it is true, it abrogates much previous thought on consciousness.

THIS is what I’ve been talking about.

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We are machines that can remember and predict future events. The ‘I’ in that situation is nothing more than being able to remember the past, experience the present, and predict the future. It’s a reference point in the machine that keeps us from dying.

Thoughts?

Screaming rants about how stupid this is?

Ideas of where god fits in that situation?

PLEASE comment. The discussion about consciousness is far more important than it is usually taken to be. I believe it is the key to understanding all the problems that we currently face as a species.

 

Thank you

A Thought On: Human Desire & Awareness

Hero4Thought wrote a post titled Human Desire & Awareness  The post starts out with

As I reflect on my continued departure from having a belief in God I’m trying to pinpoint some of the important factors that bring believers and skeptics to diverge where they do.

That got me thinking the way that lots of things do. Cogito ergo sum

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The only thing that we can truly be certain of knowing is that we think, and therefore we somehow exist. We can be certain of no other thing. As children we learn about the world we are presented with and how it works. Empathy ensures that we like to see fairness and good outcomes, even for others. Of course, when you compare your feelings about those in Nepal recently you may feel no honest pity for them because their plight has not activated empathetic simulation of their condition.

The reality is that all we know of the life of another is merely a story being told in the simulation of the world that runs in our brains, and in that simulation the same nerves that interpret pain signals from our body are active when we see others in pain. In a way, all that is input to our brain is as real as anything we experience via our nerves.

The cut on your finger is not real, the sensation that you feel is merely electrical impulses sent to your brain to be input to the simulation. There the pain registers because your brain tells you that that set of signals causes pain and so other parts of your brain react to those signals in your brains simulation. It is theoretically possible to cause someone vast amounts of pain simply by inputting the right signals to the brain.

The reality is that nothing is real. Every last bit of it is reduced to electrical signals and input to our brains for the simulation. The tight connection between our nerves and senses and our brain gives us the illusion that we are part of a world that is outside and bigger than that of our body.

There is a confirmation bias at work. If we can appear to witness good things and justice happening for others, then in this world we seem connected to it must also be possible for us to experience both justice and goodness. Conversely, experiencing it vicariously drives a need to want it as a first hand experience.

When the rules we use to understand this impossibly unreal world are examined and compared to all the knowledge we have acquired in any way or form, our brains do the math to calculate outcomes of cause and effect scenarios. This is done in the simulation, or at least we are only self aware of the stuff that happens in the simulation. We stop being believers when we are forced by some knowledge to admit to ourselves that the math does not add up any more in consideration of gods and the supernatural. Then we use every tool available to square the problem to get the math to again work out right. Induction, deduction, anger, frustration, even fear. Then we eventually work out that if there is no god the math begins to work out again.

Knowledge is what makes us different from the believers. Not simply possession of that knowledge but the willingness and ability to apply it to the simulation of the world that we run in our heads. Believers don’t want to learn about biology, physics etc. To do so would cause pain, actual pain. Rearranging the rules in our simulation activates those bits which register pain from our nerves. In our heads both a paper cut and changing the rules around register as pain. Pain is bad and to be avoided. When you stay on the straight and narrow path you avoid the pain. The road less travelled is the one laden with pain brought on by new knowledge.

For me, this is where believers and non-believers part ways.

On Beauty And Where We Find It

… hitherto we have been permitted to seek beauty only in the morally good – a fact which sufficiently accounts for our having found so little of it and having had to seek about for imaginary beauties without backbone! – As surely as the wicked enjoy a hundred kinds of happiness of which the virtuous have no inkling, so too they possess a hundred kinds of beauty; and many of them have not yet been discovered.

from Nietzsche’s Daybreak, s. 468, R.J. Hollingdale transl

What is your favorite scientific beauty?

Color Outside The Lines

If there is something that Laci missed in her video I’m not sure what it is.

Color is not something, in this case, that should be kept in neatly arranged lines. There are a lot of non-black people that don’t understand what Laci is talking about and I’m not sure I have the credentials to explain it to anyone but there are a few things I can relate from my own experience.

I don’t like to see my friends have to put up with an attitude from a white person who makes them feel second class. I stand up and call out white people who do that so that they’ll know next time.

I don’t like to see men in the grocery store where I shop looking at me with trepidation, we should be able to meet in friendly ways on the street but black people have learned to be extra cautious, to the point that it ruins opportunities for us all. I try to change that one smile and ‘hello’ at a time. It’s been so noticeable at times that I want to wear a shirt that says “I’m not a  cop”.

We all judge people, it’s a human thing. I try to remove any racial qualities to my judgements. This is specific to me because it changes how I think about other people. It has not been an easy task.

Everybody you know or see is fighting their own battles. Try to be a nice person and not give other people yet another battle to worry about.

 

We all have a debt to society. It’s up to each of us to do our part to make our society the kind of society that we would like to live in and to make people feel welcome there. Yes, a debt. Especially in western societies.

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