death

Technological dystopia – AI

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I have a fear of artificial intelligence or, perhaps more specifically, I have a fear in the rise of artificial intelligence. I strongly promote the idea of progression and exploration and understand that curiosity is basic human nature and has undoubtedly aided us greatly in the past. Curiosity has made discoveries, solutions, progression but curiosity killed the cat and it’s likely it’ll kill us too.
Charlie Brooker has made an excellent UK thriller series of a technological dystopia that delves into the dark realms of a possible humanitarian apocalypse. It’s called Black Mirror and is one of the most beautiful, yet heart numbingly eery series I have ever seen. Isn’t it scary how so much of our personality, and so many of our thoughts can be stored in a mass sphere of information called the internet – the web. Mine and your Skype calls, text messages, tweets, Facebook status’, Facebook messages and blog entries can be logged and stored in an online filing cabinet with the name ‘Sarah Snow’ printed in times new Roman; and there we go an infinite virtual store of my memories and of my thoughts.
Accessing these memories and thoughts is always going to be second best to actual face to face communication, or at least current communication . But what happens when a tie is cut, when the person is no longer available to talk to, to communicate with, but we still want them, we still need them. We often forget the importance of natural order when we live in a world where almost anything and everything can be made easier. In times of grief and desperation our inclination is to do anything to ease the pain. We would seek an immediate outlet for our suffering and if accessing thoughts and feelings of the person we are grieving is an option, it’s sure to be a popular one. If we could in anyway recreate the person we so long for how could we say no? Ignoring what they left behind would be so close to impossible especially if only a tap of a few buttons away.
Latching onto our vulnerability is what temporary inhumane solutions thrive at. What offers a moments comfort takes away from our recovery and steps in the way of a natural process causing a chaotic spiral we do not know how to solve, Artificial intelligence could take us to an unknown scenario and give us no solution. Artificial intelligence could strip humanity of what humanity is and leave us as shells seeking momentary satisfaction again and again until we are nothing more than robots ourselves. I’d rather knowingly have an imperfect life with bumps along the way because every bump is a human struggle and every struggle dealt with adds to my character. Artificial intelligence would instead chip away, slowly and painlessly at our soul and we’d let it because by the time we realised we’d be too hooked.

Societies deadly dosage

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I think as humans in today’s society our priorities are ever-changing. We are so easily consumed with the modern world, the latest technology, the gripping but equally shallow and vacuous reality shows that they can often become a priority in our lives whether we realise it or not. By following these ‘celebrities’ on social media sites, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook they become an integral part of the fabric of our self-created day to day network of information. They stream into our lives after one tap on the ‘follow’ bottom and we consume it abominably from then on.

It’s easy though. And nice. I really like the car that Kylie Jenner drives, and the scandal of her engagement with Tyga? Tell me more! Oooh the cast of the only way is Essex are in Vegas, I really want to go there. I wonder how much they earn. Hmm. Flick, tap, scroll… Sigh. Ok we’re all guilty of doing this, and, we’re all guilty of convincing ourselves that we aren’t like the general public and that our infatuation is ironic not obsessive. That deep down we know that there’s a bigger picture and that leaving that knowledge deeply rooted but not letting it surface is somehow acceptable and thus justifies our intrigue in keeping up with the Kardashians.

The day that Kylie Jenner turned 18 was the day that Malala Yousafzia (an 18 year old Pakistani activist for female education) opened a school for Syrian refugee girls. This wasn’t covered by the media, it wasn’t streamed into our social media and so it flew right above our heads without a second glance. Even if it were to be covered and displayed to us it isn’t glitzy enough, not lavish enough to entice a generation of people who are intrigued by context not content.

Our generation is in a state of ludicrous levels of laziness. There is a mind warp pandemic and our brains are morbidly obese with the rubbish we are feeding them. The ‘man’, ‘It’ the ‘Media’ may be to blame for stacking a table full to the brim with unhealthy, fast, easy food but we are ready and waiting with our spoons to scoop up anything new added to the table. We leave the fruit of the media alone to disintegrate and rot, we are the selfish and simple end stage of the conveyer belt of rubbish that is society.

It shouldn’t be normal to partake in this system. It shouldn’t be normal to turn a blind eye to those most in need. It shouldn’t be normal to numb our hearts to the cries of the desperate. But we do. We obnoxiously avoid responsibility. The media has created a vast sphere that stretches across nations, continents, countries it scopes to the richest and to the poorest. But this has not lead to a community that is tightly bonded it has led to dispersion of responsibility to nothing more than a speck per person. Dispersion of responsibility combined with a much easier alternative than dealing with the problem is the deadly dosage we have been prescribed. We’ve got to use our specks of responsibility and make a storm with them.

The difference between happiness and pleasure

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When you don’t think about, pleasure and happiness seem like the same thing, when you do think about it, their differences become glaringly apparent. There are a few major differences between the very essence of each one. Happiness is a mood, a state of mind that stretches across life, and enriches our experiences, it penetrates into everything and thus I can have a bad day, but still be happy. Pleasure comes in bursts, on it’s own it holds no worth, it relies on the richness of a premeditated level of happiness to work. Happiness is self authenticating, pleasure is not. Happiness can cause pleasure, pleasure cannot cause happiness. I get pleasure from seeing someone smile because I’m happy, I get no pleasure from the very same thing, because I’m depressed.

But can we be happy, without pleasure? It almost seems as though we need events that atleast have the potential of being deemed pleasurable in order to sustain a level of happiness. Although happiness is a state of mind, a cloud of glowering enlightenment, it is not inaccessible by emotions like pleasure. But if pleasure can’t cause happiness how can it sustain it? Maybe because pleasure isn’t a ‘thing’ in itself but is moreover an illusion that happiness has cast. So as you would say ‘money makes money’ it would seem ‘happiness makes happiness’. And so although happiness isn’t permanent, although admittedly stable, it can be slipped in and out of. When we slip out of our happiness less pleasurable illusions are cast, less pleasurable illusions equals less genuine happiness and the spiral continues. 

Do serial killers deserve punishment?

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In a previous post I’ve discussed my view on personhood, I believe we’re purely a bundle of biology (not that that’s a bad thing..) I also believe in determinism, a combination that gives my life very little meaning or hope, but anyway.

Today I watched a documentary on the serial killer Arthur shawcross and not only did it illuminate the absence of any remorse, empathy or guilt Arthur lacked but suggested that he had an ‘abnormality’ in the brain, common in serial killers, or even killers for that matter. Identifying this it was argued that Arthur couldn’t be held responsible because he couldn’t help act in the way he did due to his innate programming, he didn’t chose to have this biological abnormality. Well of course he didn’t because he IS this biological abnormality and therefor he is fully to blame.

But similarly then, caring people, charitable people, loving people, cannot be praised for good deeds because they are programmed that way inclined. I couldn’t commit a murder, so by not I’m no better than Arthur why should I be praised for something I cannot possibly be do anyway?

Ok ok ok contradictions all over the place! I’m saying we are not responsible for anything we do, and therefore punishment and praise are irrelevant.. But really we are fully responsible for everything we do because what we are IS what we do. For example I am a person who happens to obtain a sympathetic mind, Arthur is a person who happens to contain an abnormality in the brain. He is the abnormality and I am the caring brain. There is no ‘me’ or ‘him’ seperate to the entities within my brain. I and my brain, and all contained within my brain are not distinguishable. All are one. So yes, I can fully blaim Arthur.

You are a conscience, you are not you

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Neurons, atoms, chemicals that’s what makes up the earth, the universe, the sun, the stars but do they make up us? The idea of a soul or some kind of ghost like self within our physical body of mass, is not a new one, nor is it dismissed as insane. But I just can’t believe it. I mean looking from a realism perspective I must assume that everything in existence is observable, in some sense. Now I don’t mean that everything that exists can be seen by the naked eye, in fact I am not discriminating against the other senses at all. As smell and touch are equally as ‘true’ as site. What I mean is what is deemed true in existence is what has sensory observability, e.g planes, birds, stars and pasta. Arguably various scientific theories such as the multiple universe theory suggest that our finite senses don’t allow us access to observation of everything, I mean I can’t ‘see’ numerous universes, but if enough substantial evidence was posed in favour of such a theory then I would consider it potentially correct.

So back to the original preposition, do we have a soul? When looking at ourselves in a materialist sense, I.e a bundle of biology, it proves no more ludicrous to assert ourselves to obtaining a ‘soul’ than to conclude that my radiator has a soul since both objects are no more than a combination of atoms functioning in a specific way. Of course our brains are far more complex than a radiator but does that really progress to the resultant conclusion of a soul? Of course not, where is the evidence that complexity evokes the need for a soul? Well I guess our ‘conscience’ our dillusioned sense of free will and ‘spirit’ I shan’t discuss free will, as I have in a previous post. But the concept of a soul, to me, comes under the same category as the sense of free will that is that they are both ‘illusions’ our conscience or moreover just ‘conscience’ is as a result of billions of neurons and the atoms they are made up of creating a persistent illusion of ‘self’ I am no more a being than a radiator. Infact ‘I’ do not exist. No one does. We are all just complex constructions.

That may sound somber but surprisingly it isn’t all doom and gloom, it means we can never die because there is no ‘we’ and any sense of ‘death’ is just a break down in the atoms and neurons that have created the embodiment of a highly complex structure. It also means that the possibility of existence is almost infinite as it relies on no more than a collection of substances. For example if programmed correctly, with the right atoms and components it would be possible to make a fully functioning ‘human’ with just as much rights as any other natural biological person. To conclude we are no more advanced than artificial intelligence, and we have no say, in anything, even the perception of a ‘self’ is formed from biology. We are not. But conscience is.

Does the future exist?

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It’s not a question I’ve pondered on a lot, that is until recently, I’m not sure what triggered me to even consider such a question I guess maybe the way in which we use our language to label almost everything. Everything including things we don’t understand or can’t claim to be ‘true’ I.e. God, love, pain etc. We can’t define these things and they are certainly subjective.. Are these traits applicable to the idea of a ‘future’?

If one doesn’t believe in any form of divinity or destiny then surely one must accept that the future doesn’t exist, for to exist it would be predetermined. For example one might claim that the future is say in two minutes time from now, the present. But to say with certainty that the future exists would rely on the concept of a greater being that had already put it in place. Something that had determined that there is going to be a ‘in two minutes time’. But surely if ‘in two minutes’ time is already determined it isn’t the future at all, because it is already ‘there’, it is currently, presently existing. Therefor it is ‘present’ but just not present in our current time.

Another argument is that we never experience the future, only the present. It is impossible for anything or anyone to ever exist in the future, because the present is inescapable, therefor the ‘future’ is unobservable by any of the senses, it is also, as expressed earlier unexplainable by definition. Or is it? A way of defining the future could indeed be ‘things still to come’. Although things still to come are in my opinion a continuous set of ‘presents’. However the ambiguity of the ‘future’ surely allows for interpretation, although ‘events yet to come’ are unanimously almost entirely ‘unknown’ why not label it with a word ‘future’ allowing future to vaguely assert a more conclusive concept. Although the future is arguably ‘nothing’ and never will be this doesn’t mean it can’t have a word to it. A meaningless word but nonetheless a quicker more efficient way of expressing ourselves.