Autonomous Ride

How is the body an autonomous vehicle? When you eat, the teeth and tongue and throat simply do their thing while you essentially sit there, aware of the taste. “Mmm this is good” you think, as the process happens without supervision. And you’re certainly not involved in coordinating the digestive process, are you?

And when you walk, you’re not planning and arranging all the actions of your feet — you’re simply carried along as your mind wanders elsewhere. Same when you drive a car, you’re not constantly scanning for possible obstructions while monitoring your speed and maintaining a steady wheel all while actively coordinating your foot on the gas-pedal — no, you essentially sit there enjoying the view as you’re whisked down the road.

Or when you need a solution to a problem, you can sit there all day trying to hash-out an answer that never comes. Until finally, you’re in the shower the next day and the solution suddenly appears in your thoughts. Bingo! So it seems as though EVERYTHING you do is an autonomous action of the body — and all that stuff “just works”. Your body does what it does while your awareness simply watches it happen.

But does it? Does your consciousness simply sit there? Oh that’s right, your consciousness expresses itself through constant criticism. Nothing the avatar does is ever good enough. And so you berate it, “You’re worthless! If I’d have been born as ANYTHING else it would’ve been better than THIS! You’re disgusting, a loser, you don’t deserve to contain my consciousness!” On and on, and everyday it’s the same thing.

And with that same consciousness, you blame the avatar for the miserable time you’re having. That poor avatar is the cause of every problem in the world. It can’t be your intense negativity that’s causing you to be unsatisfied — right? It MUST be the avatar’s fault. Tearing it down day after day has no detrimental effect — right? Poor sleep? Slouching? Headaches? Poor digestion? Feeling startled all the time? None of that sounds familiar right?

Maybe, just maybe, after all the abusive diatribes you’ve levied against your avatar, perhaps you’ve managed to beat it into a quivering mass of poorly-performing goo? MAYBE you can’t sleep or stay unflustered or even stand-up straight because your avatar actually does listen to you — it reads you LOUD AND CLEAR. And you’ve never said ANYTHING except “YOU SUCK”.

This is what they mean by self-love: appreciating your avatar, the vehicle that’s done nothing except carry you through this world in order to experience a fun time. But not you, Mister Smarty-Pants, you’d rather bully an avatar than enjoy yourself. That sounds like a super-smart idea — a real good plan. How’s that been working out for ya? LIKE SHIT!!! In other words, STOP IT!!

Who am I? Well if the avatar is the character you’re playing-as while on Earth, and you’re the conscious-observer being whisked around by the avatar, I am the higher consciousness the resides beyond it all. I’m here when you fuck-up. The balancer. I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. But if you say one more goddamned thing about your avatar… I dare you… I double-dog dare you….

Listen princess, you tried your way for a good many decades already, and it only proved what a complete and clueless moron you are. Now you get to sit pretty while you keep your yapper zipped. The only words I want to hear from you is how fucking awesome everything is. How fucking amazed you are by this world. How happy and appreciative you are to be living in this magnificent place. And you better fucking mean every fucking word of it.

It’s not rocket-science pal. Within the mind, bullshit-based thoughts enter: shut them down. Favorable thoughts enter: you invite them in to stay awhile. Use your focus to concentrate on everything good that evokes delight. Avoid focusing on stupid shit. And for the love of all that is holy, DO NOT disparage your avatar — pay it some goddamned respect for once.

Listen, you fucked up but it’s time to start over: Hi, welcome to Earth! Please enjoy yourself while you ride around in this complementary vehicle. We’ve spared no expense in making this the most interesting and immersive experience ever! There’s all sorts of activities and adventures to keep you entertained for many years to come! We’re so excited to share this with you, and hope you have a wonderful time in this place where dreams come true! Have fun!

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Autonomous Obstacle

It seems like our consciousness is whisked around in an autonomous vehicle. If that’s true, then what’s the problem? Either the autonomous aspects were programmed in a sub-standard way OR the passenger keeps interfering, which screws everything up. Which is more likely?

Imagine a Tesla on Autopilot driving down the street while you-the-passenger sit there anxiously, constantly on alert for something to go wrong, ready to grab the wheel and take over. That’s no fun. And what makes you think your senses and reflexes are better than the car’s radar, ultra-sonic sensors, and vision-based detection mechanisms?

The more likely scenario is that YOU keep getting in your own way. You refuse to trust the vehicle while insisting on manual-control despite having no clue of what you’re doing. “Oh no, I’m too close to the edge! I better turn! Oops, I over-corrected! Ahh, this is worse than before!!” Instead, you should simply let the car do its thing.

“But I’m not going in the right direction! It’s too close to oncoming traffic! I have to fix everything!” But you-the-passenger don’t know which direction to go, the car does. You don’t understand the capabilities of the car, the car knows. You don’t know how to fix anything, the car does — you’re just the passenger.

IF manual-control was the correct procedure, you’d be having a great time right now. Since you’re not, it means that fighting against the vehicle’s autonomous-controls is a bad idea — you get lost. Imagine grabbing the controls of an advanced spaceship and blindly pressing buttons while heading in random directions, stupid right? THEN STOP DOING IT!

The correct procedure is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. Because you don’t know where to go or what to do, it’s the only logical option anyway. Your primary obstacle as a passenger is not the obstructions in the road (that’s the car’s job), your hurdle is letting go and trusting the driver. That’s it. From that perspective, you need to develop an ability to calmly look out the window and appreciate the scenery.

Programmed Autonomy

I’ve been obsessed by automation lately. I’ve had two dreams about riding in a Tesla on Autopilot. I fantasize about owning a Spot robot from Boston Dynamics and taking him out for walks. I’ve been browsing programmable robotic arms, robot parts, and lidar systems. I even got back into programming as a hobby, making little simulations of self-driving cars and autonomous-ants finding food — nothing fancy, just rectangles on the screen doing their own thing.

Ideally, I’d like to get some actual robots and program them to do stuff. The idea of having a small commercial-quality robotic arm to program seems like a fun hobby. I went so far as to order a Windows-based laptop recently, in-case I need to interface with some electronic-components. It hasn’t arrived yet, but I think it’s been about a decade since I used one. I’ve been exclusively using an iPad Pro for the past few years. I happened to mention a laptop to my mom and she offered to get me one, so that was that.

Until robot-parts magically fall into my lap, I’ll probably be using the PC for more hobby-level programming projects. I have the software lined up and I’m itching to go. Who knew it would take over a week for the laptop to arrive!? Excuse me, I thought this was 2019! I ordered from Dell because it’s all I know — I used to configure PCs and order from them in the late-90s/early-2000s. For this build, I wanted a solid-state hard-drive and a dedicated graphics-card. I can’t believe they still sell spinning hard-drives.

Oh and just to mention, I’ve been using Codea on my iPad for programming. It’s a neat app that allows you to program with the Lua language to create on-screen interacting sprites — it even includes a basic physics-engine for motion and collisions and gravity and such. It’s not really a beginner’s app, so you kinda have to know what you’re doing. And for the PC, I’ve been looking at Godot, which seems like a super-charged version of that. I’ll also take a look at Visual Studio and C# to see what’s new there as well.

But that’s not the point. The point is this: what interests me, is attempting to program something to navigate its world autonomously i.e. based solely on the initial instructions I provide. Basically, wind it up and let it go. Then, I observe it interacting with its world, evaluating how well I did with the programming. That takes me to my larger point: if I was an infinite-being, I would probably do something similar i.e. create a character and let it go within a world while observing and evaluating how well I did with the initial programming.

I’d see him attempting to navigate a path through life, interacting with others, and even just walking through the world using his body. And perhaps I’d see where I made mistakes and try to correct them for the next time around. Maybe some parameters were tweaked a bit too high, some too low. Perhaps my buddy sent her character in too and they linked-up for some squad-play — who knows. But I must admit that I’m not impressed with how my character’s performing — hopefully some hot-fixes can boost his abilities.

Factual Fat

Dear Rich, why should I give-up on the idea of blubber-based intelligence? What’s wrong with believing that the brain is the source of who I am?

Well dear reader, if you can handle it, and you’re having a great time, then go right ahead and enjoy that perspective. But if you’re like me, and the intensity of that outlook is too much to bear, then I recommend dropping it.

If you choose to continue the belief, be careful not to over-analyze it though, otherwise you’ll soon realize how absurd it is: a hunk of moist fat contains everything you are? Really? Of course not! That’s why you can’t re-animate a dead-body — the link to the server’s been cut — the body itself was simply a vehicle for the intelligence beyond. People have known this forever by the way, they just happen to call it a soul. Us modern-science-minded folks simply missed the boat on that one.

But now with the advent of Simulation Theory, us science-minded folk can have our own interpretation of this phenomenon. Quite simply: the player resides outside of the simulation, and whatever’s inside, is all for show. In other words, this is a virtual realm populated by avatars infused with the awareness of a consciousness existing beyond. Is the simulation technology-based? Is it dream-based? Who knows. Our in-game understanding might be too limited to grasp whatever lies beyond.

But the concept of Simulation Theory certainly fills in a lot of blanks. Why else do we approach this world from a gaming standpoint? We come in as confused noobs, always exploring and confronting new challenges. Just coming to grips with the avatar we find ourselves within is a problem we must continually overcome. If we were truly born of this world, our bodies would make a lot more sense to us — yet they’re as mysterious as every other thing we experience here.

So dear reader, if you find yourself unable to cope with the smart-lard perspective, you have options. The best option I’ve found so far is the idea that fatty tissue simply serves as filler — and the actual intellect resides “outside”. Why else are people so interconnected in unusual ways? Why do odd coincidences happen? Why do circumstances align all the time? How do people’s aspirations manage to come true? Obviously there’s something “outside” coordinating it all.

Fat Head

If I threw a large piece of fat down on the table and told you that it contains the sum of your intelligence, you’d likely be incredulous. “WHAT?! That’s rude! Stop being an idiot Rich!” Yet for some reason, we tend to accept that the brain contains everything there is. A chunk of fat can somehow contain a complete personality, all the instincts we’re born with, as well as all the new knowledge we’ve gained over time. The fat stores facts? Hmm….

“Uhh, well if not the brain, then where’s all that stuff stored Rich!!??” Obviously these meat-machines are mere avatars, the real stuff is stored somewhere else — outside this virtual world. If you could dissect an avatar in any standard video-game, you wouldn’t see much inside of its head either — just some filler. And that’s exactly what happens inside our heads too: just some fat to fill it up. In other words: the lack of complexity inside the brain is a tell-tale sign that we’re in a simulation.

“Maybe you’re just an ignoramus that doesn’t understand anatomy!!” Well on one hand, we have the idea that a hunk of blubber contains an extensive framework capable of processing and storing large quantities of information — and on the other hand, we have the idea that meat is simply the place-holder for a source-of-knowledge far exceeding these fleshy confines. Which is the more plausible conclusion? Plus, we all know a little too much, more than our meat-laden body would imply.

And I know, I know, “Rich, you’re such a tool, everyone already gets it. You’re just pointing out the painfully obvious!” Well fine, I’m late to the party. I actually fell for it, I fully believed that the sum of who I am was contained in folded flab. I’m the big dummy, ha ha, have a good laugh at my expense. Yes, it was a ridiculously absurd belief. It’s like when your older sibling tricks you into believing something dumb and you go around repeating it like fact. Oh well, live and learn.

Relativity of Enjoyment

If I sat you down and showed you Microsoft’s Windows 2000 today, you’d be unimpressed. “So what?” you’d say. But in my opinion, Windows 2000 was the greatest operating system ever developed. “WHAT!!??” Yes, that’s right, the greatest! For the record, the second greatest operating system in my opinion, is iOS (the software that currently runs iPhones/iPads).

Why Windows 2000? It was the first fully-featured OS that didn’t get in your way. You could edit full-color photos, watch movies, edit video, browse the web, write in word-processors, make spreadsheets, develop software with relative ease, connect a myriad of peripherals — everything. But one of the most important aspects, is that it didn’t constantly crash.

Prior to its release, I was using Windows 95, Windows 98, and even Windows NT 4. I should note that Windows NT 4 was a decent attempt at a solid OS, but it wasn’t as fully-featured as Win2000. And of course, Win95 and Win98 were complete nightmares to use.

They were nightmarish because you’d be working on something, then suddenly the screen would freeze. Hmm maybe it’s just the program itself, you’d wonder. NOPE! The entire operating system was now in a frozen state. You’d have to Ctrl-Alt-Delete or even hard-reset, and thus reboot the computer. A bunch of minutes later, the desktop would appear and your work would be gone. Fun.

Win95 and 98 made using the computer a very frustrating experience. Turning the power on was a daily game of Russian-roulette. Back in the 95 days, sometimes a file in the OS would get corrupted and Windows would no longer boot-up. You had to boot in with a DOS-floppy and edit a file via the command-line and try again. And if that didn’t work, you reinstalled the ENTIRE operating system!

So when Windows 2000 came out, you’d work for hours and nothing would go wrong. Sometimes a program would crash or lock-up, but it didn’t take down the entire operating system with it. You simply opened the task-manager and ended it. But again, that was a rare occurrence. By comparison to its predecessors, Win2000 seemed like the greatest thing ever.

And just to note, Windows XP was essentially a re-skinned version of Windows 2000. So even if you haven’t heard of Win2000, you’ve probably heard of WinXP (an operating system that lasted over a decade). But what’s my point in all this? It actually has NOTHING to do with operating systems. It has to do with how we measure our experiences relative to other experiences.

I’m not objectively claiming that Win2000 is the greatest OS ever — my love is relative to the abuse I suffered at the hands of Win95/98. If not for those torturous OSes, Win2000 would’ve simply been doing its job — nothing too impressive. It would’ve been meeting the expectations of an operating system: managing the hardware and allowing software to run unencumbered. No big deal.

But because I was so shell-shocked by the intermittent crashing of its predecessors, I literally loved Windows 2000 for treating me decently and therefore exceeding my expectations. So what I’m saying is this: the stuff we enjoy in life is extremely-subjective and dependent on our prior circumstances.

No matter how long you stare at it or how much I talk about it, you won’t appreciate Windows 2000 the way I do. And that goes for EVERYTHING in life. Stories are the way in which we experience life. You enjoy a circumstance or an item based on how it fits into your life’s narrative. An item or circumstance has no objective value on its own.

And that’s a good thing. That means it doesn’t take much to make you happy. It means all you ever need is a positive interpretation of events, i.e. a happy little story to tell yourself, and you’ve got all the necessary components for a great life.

Checking Boxes

The game-of-life has several categories we must attend to. If any are neglected, we’ll feel a lack of satisfaction — as if we’re not living a “full life”. But the way in which we attend to each category is highly subjective — only our personal character can determine the specifics. In other words, activities performed must be meaningful to the individual.

Body. You must engage in activity that utilizes the body in a way that feels significant to you. This activity does not have to be strenuous in any way, it’s simply taking your body out for a spin and enjoying it. To some, that might be running a marathon, but to others it might be a walk in the park — or it could be more artistic endeavors such as playing the piano or folding some paper (origami).

Busywork. You must engage in activity that fills-up time and accomplishes something you’re proud of. It could be an actual career or it could be a hobby like woodworking. It could be cooking or daily fitness training. Whatever it is, at the end of the day you should feel as though you accomplished something.

Relationship. You must engage in a relationship with some other entity. Whether it be romantic or parental or fraternal or friendship or a partnership — you have to significantly bond with another being. It should be a connection that makes you feel like you’re not alone OR that you’re a vital part of their existence.

Diet. You must find a way of eating that works for you. This is a personal selection of food that fits only your palate. It should make you feel well-nourished and never lacking. Diets change throughout time and culture, there’s nothing set in stone — so you’ll need to discover and experiment, finding the foods that leave you feeling satisfied.

Impact. You must feel as though you’ve influenced your world in some way. Whether it’s simply your immediate surroundings, your family, or even society itself — you’ll need to feel like you left some footprints. This might include having children, or passing on a legacy of some sort, or simply winning “Yard of the Month” and helping your neighborhood look nice.

Appreciation. You must develop an appreciation for life. You must constantly strive to find the good in the gifts you’ve been given. This is the very opposite of complaining about everything. Instead of picking out what’s wrong in the world, you must pick out what’s right.

Home. You must feel as though you’ve found a place in the world, a home. Somewhere, somehow, you fit like a puzzle piece into this world. Find that spot. For some this means a move, but for others it means recognizing the home they’ve already got. Hint: you might be in the correct physical location, but require an attitude adjustment.

Understanding. You must develop a comforting understanding of existence. You don’t have to figure everything out, you just need to develop a perspective that allows you to feel comfortable in the world. This could take the form of a religious or spiritual belief or some other form of philosophical interpretation. At the end of the day, you have to feel good about what’s going on here.

Role. You must feel as though you’re performing your role. You have a particular character with a certain set of preferences and abilities. Experiment, see what your strengths are and what activities you enjoy. This role might tie into your relationships, or how you influence your surroundings, or even your physical activity.

Adventure. You must feel as though you’re wandering through an exciting realm of wonder. Some aspect of life should cause you to feel like you’re discovering a whole new world. If your attention isn’t captured by something, you’re likely barking up the wrong tree — try another path.

Depending on one’s age, many of these items will be incomplete. THAT’S THE POINT. These boxes start out unchecked and you have an entire lifetime to work on them. And it’s not likely you’ll do them all at once — that’s ludicrous.

Also specific to the individual, is the priority we place on each category. For example, some people might spend hours everyday training their body whereas others barely use theirs. Or one person might spend years cultivating a deep personal relationship with a life-partner whereas another person might have a guinea-pig he cares for — both perfectly satisfied.

These categories simply serve as a guideline to the question: What am I supposed to do here on Earth? If you’re not sure, there you go. Work on fulfilling these categories — they’re the roadmap to what’s going on here — you’ll want to visit each of them in some way. Good luck, Earthling!