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Tardigrades, known colloquially as water bears or moss piglets, are a phylum of water-dwelling eight-legged segmented micro-animals. He may be scratching his back just like bears do with trees or he may be temporarily stuck to the little bubble because of surface tension, the physics of the microbial world are very different than those of our daily life.

They are one of the most structurally complex organisms of their size. They have brains, nerves, and even simple eyespots. That might not seem like much, but they are so tiny that amoebas are a mouthful to them, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for extra parts.

These little guys are believed to have survived every major extinction event on Earth. There’s more Tardigrade fun over here! (slightly NSFW)

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I intended this as a 4 part series, to be read in sequence. That plan failed. Here’s the solution to a very small problem that no one knew they had.

This is a story about a being a naive, selfish asshole who learns to love…badly at first, through several icky flavors of codependency, before finally seeing the truth of loving and being loved. This is a big read and I wouldn’t expect anyone to tackle it unless they felt a need to. The pictures are linked.

Naked 1: Base Camp

“I’m being transparent here about my many failures because you can only recognize something you’re acquainted with. The only way to tell this truth is naked and the only way to understand it is naked. The only way to use this truth is without shame and without defensive denials. When you fight it, it loses the power to free you. That’s why I’m being transparent here, to provide a “no fucks given” example.”

Naked 2: The Rise and Fall of Lizard Boy

“…I didn’t understand that being loved can’t fix the belief that you don’t deserve love. It just makes you uncomfortable. If you meet your ideal love and you can’t accept what they are offering, that’s a tragedy, not a dream come true. Find the antidote, heal the wound, then seek love.”

Naked 3: Wasting Everyone’s Time

“Most people who avoid and destroy intimacy in these stupid ways aren’t awful, mostly they are trying and failing. For every narcissist there a thousand inept, self-sabotaging, frightened seekers. This behavioral mess is just what it looks like when people seek joy but neither believe in joy nor experience it. It’s Sisyphus going up the hill with candy and flowers.”

Naked 4: Wake The Fuck Up!

“…From inside, co-dependency seems like a titanic battle of wills between two unique individuals, starkly silhouetted against an angry red sunset. From the outside, it’s just a couple of numbskulls trapped in a machine and too stupid to leave. It’s the Three Stooges slapping each other on an infinite loop.”

 

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Not my writing or source. I thought their title was a bit much and rewrote it in Hugh language. This is an intriguing step toward creative innovation in artificial intelligence. To this point AI creativity has been sleight of hand, working within the “variety tolerances” of very complex algorithms. This is an interesting innovation but just the beginning.

And as usual, let’s hope they don’t kill us all.

Computers Evolve a New Path Toward Human Intelligence

Jeff Clune / Quanta Magazine

In 2007, Kenneth Stanley, a computer scientist at the University of Central Florida, was playing with Picbreeder, a website he and his students had created, when an alien became a race car and changed his life. On Picbreeder, users would see an array of 15 similar images, composed of geometric shapes or swirly patterns, all variations on a theme. On occasion, some might resemble a real object, like a butterfly or a face. Users were asked to select one, and they typically clicked on whatever they found most interesting. Once they did, a new set of images, all variations on their choice, would populate the screen. From this playful exploration, a catalog of fanciful designs emerged…

…One day Stanley spotted something resembling an alien face on the site and began evolving it, selecting a child and grandchild and so on. By chance, the round eyes moved lower and began to resemble the wheels of a car. Stanley went with it and evolved a spiffy-looking sports car. He kept thinking about the fact that if he had started trying to evolve a car from scratch, instead of from an alien, he might never have done it, and he wondered what that implied about attacking problems directly. “It had a huge impact on my whole life,” he said. He looked at other interesting images that had emerged on Picbreeder, traced their lineages, and realized that nearly all of them had evolved by way of something that looked completely different. “Once I saw the evidence for that, I was just blown away.”

Read on: Link to the article 

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Lovely simple talk about accepting yourself, the secret to letting happiness and love in. People who felt enormous pressure from their family to prove themselves acceptable during socialization and beyond can spend their entire lives stuck in the feeling they aren’t good enough. The wonders you achieve, the amazing things you’ve accomplished feel inadequate to justify your happiness or the value of your love. It can make you avoid true love because it seems impossible that you could ever work hard enough to deserve that.

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And their vision of our future

The soft brutality of crappy algorithms, and how this model delivers blunt reflections of prejudice.

Corporations don’t want our opinions with the nuances and compassion still attached. They capture a causally harsh picture of us and that picture is reflected in the development of the only tools we have to communicate with each other…which reinforces its impact on society.

  • Virtually all internet hubs traffic in this lowest-common-denominator model, embracing and broadcasting our worst and weakest traits as norms. How do we fight this?
  • Whatever systems we have for societal healing and repair (do we have any?) are drowned in a flood of unanticipated impacts.
  • How will these results affect the assumptions built into business and social planning?
  • How will those plans reinforce our tacit assumptions about each other?

Emil Protalinski, writing for VentureBeat: At the Movethedial Global Summit in Toronto yesterday, I listened intently to a talk titled “No polite fictions: What AI reveals about humanity.” Kathryn Hume, Borealis AI’s director of product, listed a bunch of AI and algorithmic failures — we’ve seen plenty of that. But it was how Hume described algorithms that really stood out to me. “Algorithms are like convex mirrors that refract human biases, but do it in a pretty blunt way,” Hume said. “They don’t permit polite fictions like those that we often sustain our society with.” I really like this analogy. It’s probably the best one I’ve heard so far, because it doesn’t end there. Later in her talk, Hume took it further, after discussing an algorithm biased against black people used to predict future criminals in the U.S.

“These systems don’t permit polite fictions,” Hume said. “They’re actually a mirror that can enable us to directly observe what might be wrong in society so that we can fix it. But we need to be careful, because if we don’t design these systems well, all that they’re going to do is encode what’s in the data and potentially amplify the prejudices that exist in society today.” If an algorithm is designed poorly or — as almost anyone in AI will tell you nowadays — if your data is inherently biased, the result will be too. Chances are you’ve heard this so often it’s been hammered into your brain.

 

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(This series will be way better read from beginning to end, rather than end to beginning.)

A little context: I’m not mindlessly arguing for relentless, hurried personal change for everyone. That sounds awful. This is a naggy but loving pep talk for people feeling very stuck.

Life is Trouble

Life is a constant struggle between us and any random shit, little or big, that crops up. Some of these struggles are life choices though they don’t seem weighty at that moment. Moments and small choices can be deceptively deep. A metaphorical Sphinx is checking in with you like: “Love or No Love? Past or Future? Fear or Hope?” hundreds of times a day.

The results are navigational data points along your personal trajectory. The important question isn’t what you chose but why you chose it.  Does it point up, down, back, or forward? If you win a fight to stay the same, you learn nothing new and win nothing except a temporary extension of the status quo. But the status quo will inexorably roll forward into change like an unmoored parade float. The change will come but guided by who? With what goal? Maybe we’re just taking our hands off the steering wheel.

In the context of your life struggle, rationalizing standing still is a choice to remain in the shitty room temperature shallows of life where it’s comfortable enough. This is the inertia of the weary, defensive human heart and we know perfectly well that our cover story for this kind of choice is masking something like “I’m rudderless and utterly flat inside”.

Everything better seems too high UP to reach from here. As enthusiastic as we may sound talking about a life choice, we’re often staging an official personal PR release simply to cover the truth: “I’m afraid and this was the least scary option”. Rationalizing downward is choosing to become a slightly worse and smaller version of yourself, moving forward. Slightly worse because you stopped hoping, slightly less because you’ve given up trying. You without hope or determination is you on a slippery slope.

We downward rationalize every day. Sometimes it’s healthy: Holding steady and keeping things together or maybe NOT accepting some exciting risk because it’s dumb and dangerous. More often it means incrementally settling for less and offering less. It gradually lets the air out of the bouncy castles of human hope. If you lack hope you may well conclude that this, this right here, this stupid mess, is as good as it gets, at least for you, then sigh and return to polishing the turd at the center of the problem. Continue reading

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