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.

Appreciation Station

What’s ice-cream without appreciation? An insult, an undigestible concoction, absolute garbage? Without appreciation, it’s nothing special at best, and something horrible at worst. This condition applies to everything: something is only worthwhile if it’s appreciated. Therefore, appreciation is the secret-sauce that turns mere rock into pure gold.

That’s magic by the way — a spell of sorts. Something of no-value becomes something of high-value through the application of appreciation. In other words: if you can focus your appreciation, you can turn anything into a treasure. Simply devise a story in which the object-in-question becomes the hero — and voila, you create gold.

The inverse is also true. Devise a wicked tale in which the object-in-question becomes a villain — and voila, you create crap. It’s an amazing power you possess: the ability to add or subtract value from anything, simply based on the story you tell yourself. The enjoyment you experience in life is directly related to these stories.

Not enjoying life? Then you’re obviously focused on unpleasant stories that make appreciation difficult. Whereas the logical path is to focus on amazing stories that fill you with delight. Why aren’t you doing this already? Because, a vehicle in motion will tend to drift and crash if no one’s steering it. You’ve neglected to steer your mind, letting it swerve this way and that.

Grab the wheel! It’s okay, it’s within your ability and it’s expected of you. Yes, it’ll take some practice to get the hang of it — but the sooner you start and the more you do it, the better you’ll get. You’ll no longer veer-off course and into every tree. Eventually life will become the awesome adventure you knew it could be.

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.

Small Scale

Sometimes I play video-games. Oftentimes it’s for research purposes. If life is a simulation, a simpler and smaller-scale implementation of it can aid in understanding the larger game I find myself within. The way in which I interact with games can provide clues as to what I’m doing wrong in regular life.

For example, I notice that I’m often fighting with the controls. I’m often blaming them for my poor performance. Ah, these friggin buttons! Gah, this touch-screen is slowing me down! If only I had better tools to work with!! Yet, it’s the same interface everyone else is using — but for some reason I’m having a major problem with it.

That’s an issue because I focus on the controls as the sole source of my problem. Rather than adapting to them and working within provided parameters, I struggle against them in a hopeless battle of attrition. You WILL submit to ME!!! Yet being just a collection of buttons, they sit there silently and never change.

It’s true in this game as well. I’ve been complaining about the interface forever. I honestly don’t get it. I don’t know how to do anything in this world so I sit staring at the scenes flashing by. And when I do try to engage, I crash. No not an actual crash, but things get unpleasant — fast. Therefore, I simply resign myself to watching.

In games I complain the entire time, yet due to an inherent masochism I keep at it — losing 20 times for every 1 win. I get a rush when the odds are stacked against me — the hopelessness and frustration is intoxicating. It’s like poking at a sore-spot just to feel the tingling sensation of pain. BUT it’s stressful and ultimately I don’t enjoy it. Therefore, I don’t want to experience that kind of scenario anymore.

So what are my options? I suppose I have to accept and appreciate the controls for what they are — and NOT criticize them. I have to adapt, not them. It’s MY timing that needs work, not the control mechanism. I have to seek aspects of the game I DO like, facets I can comfortably enjoy. And I think it’s fine to watch other people play, but I might try to squad-up more — isolated adventures are inherently harder.

I tend to default to solo-mode, trying to do everything myself. Yet in games, I know my stress-levels are higher when all the pressure’s on me and there’s no room for goofing-off. It’s nice to be part of a team and allow other members to fill in the gaps. When alone, I have to know everything, whereas in a team I just have to do my particular part.

I came into this world with my back to the wall, not trusting anyone. “Those suckas won’t catch me slippin.” And they never did! They never actually tried, but I was ready! Hm, what I think this all boils down to is this: it’s NOT the controls, it’s NOT the game itself, it’s the fact that this is a squad-based game and I’ve rejected team-play in favor of trying to do things on my own — yet my character is not capable of performing every role, and consequently fails at the overall objective.

Therefore, to succeed at this game, I need to be an effective teammate. I can’t do it all on my own, nor should I attempt to do so. There’s no trophy at the end anyway — the overall objective IS the squad. Who cares about attaining arbitrary goals, it’s the camaraderie you develop along the way and the shared experiences that make team-games worth playing. It’s not about how well YOU succeed, it’s about how well you contribute to the success of the team you find yourself within.

Without a team, you’re just a freak on a field with a ball and no one to pass to. As an individual, you obviously can’t compete in the larger game. No matter how hard you train, you simply can’t fill all the positions. And even if you tried, what a boring experience it is without a celebratory victory party and no one to high-five — nothing but you struggling against impossible odds for a trophy that isn’t there.

So here is the lesson for today: strive to be the best teammate you can become.

Real Superhero

What would a real superhero do? If we analyze fictional superheroes, we can see they mostly battle bank-robbers and super-villains. But now that money is kept in the cloud, robbers are more likely to carry keyboards rather than guns. And of course petty street-crime is better handled by improving people’s economic situation and their educational opportunities rather than through intimidation and violence.

What about super-villains? If you survey super-villains, they tend to be self-centered idealists that want to reshape the world based around their personal preferences. That sounds like a lotta people, but super-villains have the drive and dedication to go after their goals and don’t care who they hurt along the way. Again, that might sound like a lotta people, but fewer still have the resources to enact such far-reaching plans.

Whereas super-villains tend to take power away from people in order to concentrate it for themselves, superheroes tend to take power away from concentrated sources and distribute it back to the people. A superhero’s role is to make individual lives matter. Every individual life has the right to pursue happiness in the manner he or she so chooses — and so it is the superhero that makes such situations possible.

Powerless individuals cannot fight concentrated power, which makes superheroes a necessity. Or is that only how it appears? Just how powerless are individuals in this particular world? They certainly seem meek and incapable of anything extraordinary. But is that how it must be? Is servant to his master truly the limit of a man’s ability? Are you, the individual, merely a cog in someone else’s machinations?

If you believe yourself powerless, then you’ve successfully convinced yourself of a pernicious lie. YOU devised this fiction and YOU consented to its truth. And that makes YOU the super-villain taking power away from your own individual life, yet you don’t want that power for any particular reason — no, you simply want to watch the world burn. You’re a sadist evoking pain because you’re also a masochist eating it up as your main course. You sick f*ck.

Stop it. It is time to become the superhero you always knew you were. Save yourself. Stop telling yourself those bullsh*t stories about how weak and incapable you are. That’s not how this world works. You are the dreamer, the weaver of your life’s tapestry — you choose the hues and themes with which to color the narrative you experience. THAT is the truth.

You always had that power, but you wielded it in ignorance, using it for evil — painting dark scenes in which you tormented your character. Now use that power for good: craft a tale that delights and amazes, an adventure that invigorates, a wondrous world in which your character experiences the very best of your imagination. Now that you realize the truth, you owe it to yourself to fix what you’ve done. From super-villain to superhero, make things right.

Hocus Focus

If we’re captivated by life and our primary form of control is our focus, then practicing the ability to direct our focus should be a high priority. BUT life is so good at capturing our attention, that the act of redirecting our attention is a difficult thing to do.

And we certainly do want to control our focus because it improves our experience here. Why waste time engaging with unpleasant things, when we can engage with the best of what life has to offer instead. In other words: the answer to all our problems is proper focus BUT controlling our focus is like trying to rein-in a raging bull.

For example, imagine focusing on joyful thoughts that evoke delight instead of dour complaints. Imagine focusing on the sensation of comfort in one part of the body instead of an ache in another part. So in essence, imagine focusing on everything right and wonderful instead of what’s wrong and unpleasant — how great an experience would you have if you did? But no, that seems to be a hard thing to accomplish.

I know this, because I’ve read about this concept and written about it for YEARS and I’m only a little better at. Whenever I have the realization that I need to direct my attention, my mind wanders somewhere else in the very next moment and I forget about redirecting my focus.

I suppose my question for the universe is this: how can I better control my focus in order to have the best experience possible?

For example, I have a slight headache right now. If I distract myself with something, I forget it’s there. YET, for whatever reason, my mind keeps wandering back to the discomfort. WHY?! Am I simply a masochist that enjoys the sensation of pain? Proper focus literally cures my affliction yet I seemingly refuse to apply it.

That strange routine surfaces in every area of my life. Anxious thought? Just don’t focus on it, and you’ll no longer be anxious. Focus on it anyway!!! Something annoying you? Focus on something else instead. No, double-down and doubly-focus on that annoying thing!!! Hm. I guess I’m just a masochist, or an idiot.

But just imagine the super-power of selective focus. Something bothering you? Simply alter and maintain focus on something better. Are you being eaten by an alligator? Simply look at the lovely sky above and appreciate the tweeting birds singing their lovely songs. With selective focus, everything is awesome. No longer would you be subject to the whims and ways of an unruly mind, YOU would be in control and you’d obviously select the best of what life has to offer to focus on.

So what have we learned here today? Proper focus fixes problems BUT it’s difficult to do. Also: if focus affects our lives to the degree that it does, this demonstrates the non-physical nature of reality. Proper focus is essentially lucid-dreaming, an awareness and control of our experiences. If you want the best life possible, proper focus is the path you must master.