Successful Failure

If you wanted to program an android to act like a human, you’d have to introduce erratic behavior into its actions. The android should perform haphazardly, having one mishap after another. Instead of a quick and precise path, the android would need to take a slow and sloppy route. The completion of objectives would become uncertain and prolonged.

But with this change, the android’s actions suddenly become a lot more exciting to observers. “Can he do it!!?? He was so close last time!!” Fast and efficient action that’s always successful is boring. Sports, games, gambling — these events are only fun when the outcome isn’t certain AND we invest some time into them.

Because we’re always traversing a slow and sloppy path toward our selected objectives, we can deduce that existence is a manufactured experience. We’re obliged to take the slow and sloppy route — it’s by design. And it’s this very condition that entertains the consciousness, the observer within watching it all go down.

In other words, you’re not supposed to instantaneously have everything you want. You’re supposed to take a winding route fraught with uncertainty — that’s where the fun comes from. A successful life is not one in which you achieve arbitrary goals — it’s one in which you enjoy the epic adventure you’re experiencing, the slow and sloppy route to nowhere in particular.

Bot Behavior

A bot is an autonomous program, a form of AI. In this instance, think of it like a little man searching for food onscreen. In the least impressive form of AI, my bot would simply ascertain the screen-coordinates of the food from the program itself and place himself next to it. But what if I wanted my bot’s behavior to be more humanlike?

I don’t want my bot to be omniscient nor able to blip himself anywhere onscreen in an instant. In a slightly more impressive form of AI, my bot would randomly wander around the screen until he accidentally bumped into the food. There’s a possibility he’d never find it — but if he runs long enough, his random pattern might succeed even though he isn’t going anywhere in particular nor remembers where he’s been.

To make the bot more humanlike, I’d want to interrupt and alter his movement with random timers, making his path more erratic with less obvious patterns. Humanlike behavior also degrades over time, so a humanlike bot would slow down its actions and decision-making as the activity progressed — even pausing as if decisions are being considered. But within that decaying action, I’d mix in some random “bursts of energy”.

My bot will need biases. Humans have preferences, so a more humanlike bot would need to choose from a set of particular options — not purely random, but a weighted random. Maybe he prefers taking right-turns for example. He’ll also need to pick a destination and get there. Humanlike behavior isn’t meandering randomly, it’s going from one objective to the next.

In actuality, a bot can know everything the overall program knows, but to be more humanlike, his perspective must be limited to his immediate vicinity and not allowed to grasp the whole picture. He needs to react only to what’s around him. But relatedly, he should remember some of where he’s been — but this memory should degrade over time. Some memories might be prioritized and maintained through a reward/punishment ranking mechanism.

Now, if I implemented such a humanlike bot, and you watched the little character onscreen searching for food, could you tell the difference between a human-controlled character or an AI controlled one? The more perfect the character behaves, the more artificial he’ll seem. But by corrupting that perfection with sloppiness, he’ll appear much more human, wouldn’t you agree?

So what’s my point? The very nature of humanity seems to be sloppiness. If a robot wanted to act human, he’d have to introduce a lot of randomly erratic behavior into his actions. “Whoa too much!”, “Oops too little!” It’s always one mishap after another. Now consider this: what’s a roller-coaster? A car on a sloppy path to nowhere.

What’s a movie? A narrative in which a character takes an indirect and winding path to his destination. What makes a movie a movie is the fact that the character takes the sloppiest route possible. This sloppiness is by design, it interjects excitement through uncertainty while prolonging the experience.

My onscreen bot could perform his food-finding function in milliseconds. But so what? No one wants to watch that. Perfection is near instantaneous. But if I mix-in uncertainty and a drawn-out pace, all of a sudden you’re rooting for the little man onscreen. “You can do it! Oh so close!! Come on! YAY!!”. That’s existence in a nutshell: traversing a sloppy path toward our selected objectives.

At the Top

Sometimes I sit and stare at successful people. You know, like watch interviews and such. Some do just fine at the top whereas others stumble and fall, even to their death. Is life at the top THAT precarious? But of course, people die at the bottom too, probably much more so. And isn’t it better to die in a mansion than a cardboard box? If you gotta go, might as well go in style.

From those that survived falling from the top, they said their success was ultimately unfulfilling i.e. it didn’t solve their problems, so they had no place to go but down. And down they went. In other words, they had their wish granted but they didn’t feel satisfied — and with nothing left to attain, their lives felt empty. It seems that if you get what you want without an ability to appreciate it, you’re going to have a really bad time.

Typically these people are young, and rocket to success while lacking practice in appreciation. If you’re going to have fun at the top, you need an ability to appreciate it. You can’t be paranoid that you’ll lose it, you can’t be suspicious of everyone around you, and you have to embrace the lifestyle and trust that life wants you well. Otherwise, you might freak-out and literally jump off.

And I admit, it wasn’t that long ago that I imagined walling myself away from the world. In Minecraft for example, I used to build underground bunkers to protect myself from the harsh and brutal mobs. I would have full food supplies and whatever else I needed alongside extensive tunnels and air-lock style door systems. Zombies weren’t gonna catch me slippin. So if I had early success, I would’ve likely done something similar.

But nowadays I see the futility in “protecting” yourself from life. If life wants you dead, ain’t nuthin you can do. What determines your fate is a good attitude, that’s it. Believe in the goodness of life and you’ll receive it. Whereas if you believe in the bad, you’ll get exactly what you asked for. That’s the conclusion I reached after watching all those successful people. That’s the common thread that determines whether you enjoy your time at the top, and whether you remain there.

Today’s lesson: learn to appreciate. If you can’t do that, there’s no sense in getting to the top.

Final Frontier

I just finished re-watching all seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I saw the series when it originally aired and I would’ve watched some reruns along the way as well. It’s been awhile since then, but every episode had an air of familiarity to it. Plus it’s a different experience to consume an entire series in a few months rather than over the course of several years.

No, not every episode is great and season 7 is a bit weak, but overall I love it: 5 outta 5. Jean-Luc Picard and Data are a force to be reckoned with. In the beginning, I was struck by the sheer competency of the crew. If you like to see professionals at work, THIS is the series for you. The Enterprise is the flagship of the Federation and it shows.

Another striking theme is the preeminence of AI in the form of Lieutenant Commander Data. He’s a self-aware android that could take over the ship at-will. Because of his vast database of knowledge and computational power, he offers solutions that regularly fix complex problems — it’s kinda like a “Deus ex Machina” situation where an actual machine keeps coming to the rescue.

Funny enough though, the people of that time don’t trust autopilot all that much and prefer human intuition when it comes to navigating through difficult situations. And just to note, cyborgs are pretty much demonized in this future — humans should stay human and any systematic integration with computers is detrimental and robs humans of their humanity.

Yet another prominent theme is the nature of reality. Whereas Data demonstrates that organic humans have been superseded in the physical realm, the series essentially explains that humans should transcend the physical realm anyway, reaching different planes of existence (something Data likely cannot do). So the final frontier isn’t actually space, but existence itself.

Time and distance are mere constructs devised by limited thinking. Once this is understood, the door to greater possibilities opens up. The series ends on this note. Something else to consider, is how the series was bookended by Q, an omnipotent being that exists beyond physicality. Although others of his kind questioned the value of humanity, he was entertained by humans and ultimately cared for their continued existence and growth as a species.

And as I mentioned, that growth entails a transcendence beyond limited thinking. To progress, humanity must overcome the confines of tribalism and their propensity towards violence. And humanity won’t progress by means of technology, nor by the exploration of space, but by the exploration of their own consciousness and the expansion of understanding.

Musical Fantasy

Haven’t you ever listened to music? You know, like songs on the radio? The words are sparse, rambling, and repetitive? And just look at the music-videos that accompany them, they’re utterly dreamlike and often absurd. Plus, those projects cost millions of dollars and take months to produce and subsequently rake-in millions of dollars from fans.

You’re telling me that such a circumstance is the culmination of millions of years of evolution? NOPE. This is a fantasyland, a dreamworld, a place where imagination takes shape. Why would a civilization dedicate so much time, energy, and resources to people singing abstract songs that merely entertain fans for a few weeks until the next song comes along? That’s the height of absurdity and therefore PROOF that this world is not “real”.

Name any musical performer you want, they’re not THAT good, and you can find a thousand people that think they absolutely SUCK. Talent isn’t a thing, there’s no cream rising to the top, it’s simply people wishing to be stars and fans forming around them. This is Westworld, the movie from 1973 where patrons get to live out fantasies amongst robots. But in this amusement-park, patrons are made to forget their origins.

Some of us apparently forget too much, and believe ourselves to be living as fragile creatures struggling for survival amidst a harsh and brutal hellscape DESPITE the fact that pop-stars exist. WHAT!!?? No offense, but how dumb do you gotta be to not realize that this is a fantasy world? Okay, okay, I’ll admit it — I am that dumb — it took me several decades to understand this facet of existence.

Now that I do understand, I’m trying to go from gritty nightmare-realm to lighthearted fairy-tale land. I’d say for the most part it’s working. A couple years ago I lived in a single-wide mobile-home in a trailer-park and now I live in a top-floor two-story condo in the heart of downtown overlooking a nicely manicured park. And I literally did nothing to achieve this dramatic change except wish for it. I simply packed the car and sat in the passenger seat as we traveled to our new residence.

My biggest obstacle of last year was trying to appreciate my surroundings despite my inherent pessimism and anxious tendencies. And my biggest obstacle this year is my attempt to suppress any remaining suspicions that life is out to get me. I’m still working on it, which is why I’m pointing out how contrived everything is. If circumstances are created specifically for my amusement, there’s no reason to worry. The point of this world couldn’t be clearer: have fun.

Lame Life

Did you ever think about how lame life can be? Take yesterday for example. I took a shower like I do every morning. I scrubbed the same spots, dried off, applied deodorant, combed my hair in the exact way as usual, dressed in an outfit I’ve worn many times before, and ate what I ate the previous day. Lame right?

Later, I sat down in front of a screen and contemplated the nature of existence. While I transcribed those thoughts via keyboard, I left the physical world — I was captivated, focusing solely on the words in my immediate field of view. I could’ve been sitting anywhere on the planet and it wouldn’t have mattered, all I cared about were those unfolding ideas.

Then later, in front of that same glowing screen, I played an online FPS (First-person Shooter) game. There I was, in the heat of battle, weapon in hand. “Enemy spotted!” Pop!Pop!Pop! went my rifle in the direction of the red-flagged opponent. “Tango down!” I did it, but the war was far from over. I approached the enemy base, and in a mad-minute of pure adrenalin, my gun puked so much lead that the other team fell like ice in a hail storm. Victory was ours.

When I got back to “real life”, I ran to the toilet. I had to work through some intestinal distress — something I ate. Again, kinda lame. So what’s the deal!? Why is regular life comprised of the dumbest stuff possible whereas everything onscreen is 100 times more interesting. For example, I’ve been re-watching Star Trek: The Next Generation for the last few weeks and I LOVE it.

Therefore, I’m wondering whether this mortal form is simply the vehicle that allows me to enjoy onscreen media. If presented with the option, I honestly don’t want to live a life with gun-sights trained on me all day — nor do I want to deal with the drama that the crew of the Enterprise deals with. But isn’t it a bit silly to have a body simply as a means to consume media?

It’s like watching a TV show from within a video-game. Why not skip the middle-man and just consume media as a bodiless being of pure awareness? I suppose at the very least, my physical presence allows me to relate better to the material happening onscreen. For example: when a character stubs his toe, I know what it feels like. I don’t need a lot of backstory since I understand the fundamentals of being human.

An interesting question is this: what sort of “real life” could I lead that would be of equal entertainment-value to what I see onscreen? It can’t be too intense, but it’ll have to generate excitement in some way. I’ll think about it and report back. Maybe something absurdly amusing, something so silly that I find myself laughing the days away. We’ll see.

Origin of Species

Being that I believe in Simulation Theory, that kinda kills the whole Darwinism thing. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. That’s not to say that evolutionary-like patterns and inheritance aren’t fundamental parts of this world — but those things are done behind the scenes, in code — NOT by means of an ongoing struggle for survival.

As a programmer myself, I reuse code all the time. It’s common to use previously devised patterns and algorithms as the foundation of new stuff. So if you examine the codebase of my various programs, you can see undeniable similarities and an evolving design. And by building on previous code, each iteration grows in complexity.

Darwinism presumes that an epic competition occurred over the course of millions of years and WE, along with our cats and dogs, are the end result. But not truly the end, for the battle rages on in an endless quest to develop the most suitable beings for this harsh and brutal environment — a place that provides no quarter to the weak.

Except I AM weak. I’m quite inept in fact. And the people I’ve known throughout my life are pretty weak too, no offense. Physically, emotionally — just dealing with life, as well as lacking in self-control and determination — it’s a sad state of affairs I’d say. The “struggle for survival” just isn’t there.

Are we the anomalies? I don’t think so. I think this world was created as-is to be a playground for bodiless beings. WE are NOT the sum total of organic evolution, WE are what happens when the incorporeal dream. With a spark of inspiration, an entire world with ever-branching narratives filled the void.

Oh a big-bang happened alright — it was the moment the dream began. The storybook opened and pages began filling with tales of embodied beings living outlandish lives filled with chaotic circumstances. The crazier the better, each iteration trying to outdo whatever came before. So it is THIS, this silly whimsical dream, that is the origin of species.