Constant Conundrum

I was recently re-watching the first few episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I was essentially watching people/characters that I like, undergo very difficult circumstances. The act of watching drama is basically sadism — deriving enjoyment from the suffering of others. Luckily, the characters are fictional.

Yet isn’t that what we do here? Watch others, especially ourselves, experience the worst things we can imagine? But of course, there ARE other ways to derive amusement from existence, but we so often revert to the easy-fix: the sadomasochism solution. “I’m bored! Is there some sort of suffering from which I can extract excitement!?”

But when watching TNG, I don’t actually enjoy the calamity, I enjoy the competence and professionalism of the crew. How will Picard and the gang get out of this one!? And of course they always do. THAT’S what I like, the problem-solving. But there must be problems or else there’s nothing to solve.

Therefore, life must fill itself with problems i.e. opportunities for problem-solving. So problems are not the problem — the attitude we maintain is the real key. Does Picard get frustrated and give up at each obstacle? No, he proceeds diligently, perpetually performing his duty as starship captain. As they say: keep calm and carry on.

Of course that’s what Krishna told Arjuna on the field of battle that day too: stop whining and do your duty. Because in this life, we all have a role to play, a character whose arc we must fulfill. It’s dumb to pause production in order to incessantly complain about the storyline. Just read the damn lines! Become the authentic character and enjoy the narrative.

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Compass of Consciousness

An observer sits within the avatar as an audience to what’s happening. One thing that this consciousness notices is the thought-stream, an incessant flow of ideas and opinions and internal-debates that cascade through the mind. Yet this stream is only a single aspect of existence — and if the observer stops and stares too long, he can become mesmerized by it — frozen in time, just looking at thoughts as if they are life itself.

If you truly examine the totality of life, you’ll notice there’s two distinct aspects of a person. The character he’s playing as and the audience-member within him. In other words: inside each persona, there resides an observer that’s simply watching it all.

But so what? Why care about our composition? Because, it helps in developing a broader perspective of existence. If you’re completely lost and having a bad time here on Earth, this type of perspective can become like a compass helping you ascertain a definitive direction.

So much goes wrong when you’re lost. When you can’t find your way, you tend towards negativity — focusing on what’s wrong then becomes a way of life. And once you become a pessimist, there’s no obvious way out — EVERYTHING looks wrong. Everything’s a trick or a trap meant to deceive or destroy you.

The only way out is to look within and see that things aren’t what they appear to be — things are what you project them to be. You begin to realize that your negativity was painting a dark hue upon the world. And by ceasing to spray your pessimistically-laced graffiti all over the place, the world brightens up. And by this enlightenment, you find your way home.

Imperfect Perfection

I would contend that “imperfection” is actually the ideal state of things. In other words, faults are not only fine, but preferred. Therefore, if your life is imperfect, it is in fact operating within ideal parameters.

For a simple example, imagine a picture in which a single perfected flower is duplicated and placed within row after row until it creates a grid-like field of flowers. But such a picture lacks appeal, if you’ve seen one section of the field, you’ve seen it all — and all that uniformity is off-putting. “Perfect” landscapes are those made through organic randomness i.e. imperfection.

In the same way, if life traversed a perfectly predictable path in which everything worked-out well, it’d be dull. Instead, there’s always something that needs to be worked-on or figured-out. Imperfection is what gives us something to do, it provides the impetus for action. Flawed mechanisms require constant care and maintenance, there’s always something to be done.

The point is this: NEVER look at broken things with revulsion. They are opportunities to expend effort, a chance to engage with the world. Within a perfectly functioning system your efforts aren’t needed. And so, the world is in a state of perpetual imperfection. Relish this, don’t revile it. Delight in the fact that you have an unending to-do list.

Perfection is a frozen state, its implementation would create a world in which nothing happens. Whereas imperfection is a dynamic state, it creates a world in which anything and everything happens. This means that an ideal life should be inundated with imperfection. Enjoyment of life will not be achieved through perfection — it is only through appreciating the opportunities provided by imperfection, that we can experience genuine satisfaction.

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.