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.

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.

Cycle of Significance

Things seem significant right up until they don’t. When I was in school, homework seemed important, tests seemed momentous, and whatever the teacher said seemed paramount. When I was no longer in school, those things seemed trivial. Who cares what a gerund is? Yet at the time, it seemed somewhat significant.

Navigating the hallways of school was like a minefield. Who might I run into? A bully!? A crush!? A frenemy!!?? The vice-principal in a bad mood!!!??? I was like a scout on patrol in enemy territory. One misstep and my life would’ve been ruined in an instant. A single embarrassing situation could’ve destroyed me.

Yet today, that stuff seems insignificant. So will the things I find important today lose their significance as well? Uh, duh! Should I simply not care about anything? What’s it like to no longer care? Is it a form of negativity or nihilism? Or is it simply an acceptance of the reality I find myself within? Is it freedom?

When I believed in the significance of school, I was a prisoner of that belief — captivated by the idea that grades and grammar mattered. I could see nothing beyond the confines of that institution. When I left, I felt free. Similarly, if I drop the pretense of importance I attribute to the things within my current life, should I feel even freer?

Whenever something comes up, it feels VERY significant within that moment. Yet when it passes, it losses all importance — especially when a new circumstance replaces it. It’s just a dramatic cycle of significance — a merry-go-round of theatrics, with me reacting to whatever stimuli happens to be within view as I whirl by.

Just imagine it, you hear a crash. You hurry downstairs to see dripping drops of red everywhere! It looks like a crime-scene! Upon further investigation, it appears that a ceramic dish of raspberry sorbet smashed on the floor and a child is caught in the midst of a misadventure. Suddenly, the remnants of a frozen dessert treat is the most important thing in your life.

Then just as suddenly, the significance is gone, replaced by something new. What a way to live: up and down and all around. Reacting to all the flashing lights and sounds that appear before me. And that’s fine, why not ride the merry-go-round and experience some excitement. BUT I must remember to appreciate it for what it is, a brief and fleeting scene meant to stir me up. When it’s over, let it go.

Next adventure, please! But even better than that, is when I save my excitement for what I truly treasure. Is a broken dish worth the drama? Not in my opinion, so I simply wipe-up the mess and move on. The way in which I react to these fleeting scenes is more my choice than I had expected. Complete passivity is a recipe for disaster — this ride requires active appreciation, a positive perspective, and proper focus.

Big Brain Time

What do you do when you know you’re in a dream and you also realize that dreams don’t adhere to logic? It’s Big Brain Time! That’s right, it’s time to apply amusingly absurd solutions to all your dream-world problems. In a dream, logic is for losers, it won’t work — B does not necessarily follow A.

For example, do you want to completely change your life? What you DON’T do, is start a gradual process of incremental improvement. That’s dumb — it’s too logical. What you DO, is make a collage of pretty pictures that visually describes the life you want to live. Eventually, your life will morph into whatever you imagined. Sound stupid? Good, it should — THAT’S how you know it’s right.

You may think I’m being facetious, but I assure you I’m not. As a former logical-thinker who utterly failed at life due to the over-application of logic, I’m simply speaking from experience. Logic IS for losers. If you want a great life, you gotta go big-brain. You have to come up with crazy ways to go from A to Z. Or better yet, A to Alpha-Centauri. In a dream, you can go wherever you want.

Do you have a goal you want to achieve? Then do it! There’s no “right time” to wait for, there’s nothing you need to know, no preparation necessary, no luck involved, no stars to align, no talent needed — you’re in dream, you simply wish it into existence. Focus on the goal and it manifests around you. If you believe you need a logical path to get there — you’re wrong. Get there the big-brain way!

Finish Line

So how’d you like it!?
Uhh, not so much.
Oh. What didn’t you like about it?
I dunno, it was kinda blah.
Oh. What’d you do there?
Uh, stayed indoors mainly, kept to myself, tried to stay outta trouble.
Oh. You know you could’ve done anything you wanted right?
Hm, not really, there weren’t any instructions.

Oh. Do you remember before you went in, as I started explaining the instructions, you said “Instructions are for dweebs – I got this”?

Hm, no.

And you know how every successful in-game character would repeat the mantra “follow your dreams”?

Hm, yeah but I didn’t think it applied to my situation.

Oh. So let me get this straight. You entered a dream world in which you could live a life of endless adventure and boundless delights — yet instead of enjoying yourself, you essentially sat in a corner the entire time.

Well when you put it that way….

Rich and Famous

Are you rich and famous? If not, why not? No offense, but you’re in a freakin’ simulation designed to bring dreams to life!! If you’re not doing something amazing, you’re being an absolute tool.

Imagine playing Minecraft for the first time. You enter the world, lost in the middle of the woods — so you seek out the nearest village. You reckon that your only course of action is to rent a room from one of the villagers while helping to pick crops from the local farm. You go to bed every night for fear of monsters and never stray too far. What a stupid way to play, right?

You should be out exploring and building grand monuments as testament to your creative power and saving villages from pillagers. You should be building portals to other realms or collecting treasures or mining to parts unknown. Your name should be known far and wide in that world — your mark should be made everywhere you go. THAT is how you play!

Imagine living out that mundane life in Minecraft and meeting up with other players at the end of it all. You might ask one: so what did you do while in the world? “Well I sought the End Portal and defeated the Ender Dragon. What about you?” Oh, well I lived in a small room in a village and picked carrots mostly. “WTF bro!?!”

But that’s a game, blah, blah, blah! Yet, in interview after interview of rich and famous people, you’ll hear them talk about how they once wished to be where they currently are. Then one day, they suddenly found themselves surrounded by the physical manifestation of their dreams. It happens again and again — it can’t be a coincidence!

In addition, they always add: and you too can fulfill YOUR dreams. Are they lying? Are they simply the “lucky ones”? OR maybe you’re a moron that’s been playing this game wrong. Which is more likely to be true: that rich and famous people are lying to you OR you’re clueless? Spoiler Alert! You’re a chump.

Have you not seen untalented people rise to the rank of rich and famous!? How is that possible? Because this is a world where dreams come true. Whereas you’re focused on thoughts of lack and limitation, they go through the world unencumbered by such nonsense. It doesn’t take luck or hard-work or talent or any in-world stuff at all — it takes focus.

Filter out the lack and limitation and focus only on the life you want to live. This is a dream-world and your path is selected through focus. Believe in a mundane world and you shall have it. Believe in a scary world and it’s yours. Believe in a grand world of fanciful delights and you’ll have that. Become rich and famous, there’s no reason not to.