December 1, 2023: Learning, Biology, Communication, Technology, Energy, and Alchemy

Love?  How about starting ‘em with loins that boings, feelings with ceilings, minds that rate? At least they will have an occasional mate. God wondering aloud

Before you become too entranced with gorgeous gadgets and mesmerizing video displays, let me remind you that information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all.  Arthur C. Clarke

It’s not artificial intelligence I’m worried about, it’s human stupidity. Neil Jacobstein

Intelligence: the ability to learn, understand and make judgments or have opinions that are based on reason; Artificial: made by people, often as a copy of something natural;  Artificial Intelligence(1): the use or study of computer systems or machines that have some of the qualities that the human brain has, such as the ability to interpret and produce language in a way that seems human, recognize or create images, solve problems, and learn from data supplied to them.

Artificial Intelligence(2): a human-made, likely self-mobile, information-gathering, assimilating and disseminating, nanotechnological-mechanical device designed to free humans from many forms of daily work, thereby increasing free-time, enabling humans to come up with even more scenarios that increase fear. Civilized behavior: 1) the art of accommodating when assimilation is not possible, 2) a position where everyone is semi-dissatisfied, but fewer are disaffected. Similar Concept: progressive human evolution. The Morning Gruel Dictionary, ©2023, all rights reserved:

Emotions: observable behaviors; Feelings: not observable (as in, easier to hide or obscure them).  A somewhat arbitrary attempt to operationalize a workable distinction facilitating research into emotions (from many textbooks on Behavioral Psychology).

Life has found a way. Intelligence is still floundering.  Hoo-nōs

Having a voice is dicey at best.  Like most any communication medium, it can be easy to tune in or out. The rights and practice of giving voice to something as well as the rights and practice of tuning in or out are codified in the U.S. Constitution, the Amendments, and the Bill of Rights, aka, our laws.  Those rights and practices present a conundrum we have not well figured out, especially when it comes to democratic principles.

The associations we form in navigating those rights are as varied as the attentions and abilities of folks driving cars. And as these associations are not just mental or emotional alone, but exist at the level of cells (yep—check it out, cells form associations), our biology becomes involved.  And of course, our environs.  In other words, there are a lot of feedback loops to either modulate or shut down, both of which can be appropriate if used judiciously (e.g., avoidance is a pretty good short-term practice to dodge stress, albeit a lousy long-term strategy).

Having a voice is another way of saying we all would like to be recognized for some positive contribution or other. Of course, being recognized can be problematic as we also want our own territory.  It is like a two-year old’s developmental “stage”: testing the limits while needing the limits. So enters “freedom,” mostly thought of as individuals are allowed to do most anything.

What we create, we do so in our own image—as in our imagination or desires become an objective part of reality that then independently affects us (think children: Was that one of the reasons why AI was considered?).

Since most of humanity long ago gave up clicking, grunting, and posturing as ways to communicate (essentially giving up a pretty effective way to communicate), we’ve adopted word-smithing in an attempt to be more nuanced (mostly coming out as word-salad—yeah, make with the easy jokes about this post).  Like most reductionistic efforts, what we got into was a quantum world-of-words where the rules of the macro-world easily led to entanglement.  It did and here we are, like fish in their first encounter with land and gills did not help.

Alchemy: 1) A medieval chemical philosophy having as its asserted aims the transmutation of base metals into gold, the discovery of the panacea, and the preparation of the elixir of longevity.  2) A seemingly magical power or process of transmuting.  3) Medieval chemistry; the doctrines and processes of the early and medieval chemists; in particular, the supposed process, or the search for the process, by which it was hoped to transmute the baser metals into gold. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

Consider That…?:

Alchemy is transformational, not developmental.  If we truly want to transform the human experience, it will require breaking away from what is, to another almost entirely new area, i.e., what will be.  That new area will require a fundamentally new way of thinking, feeling, and behaving, i.e., a new present.  And yep, when we finally adapt, eventually that new ground will become a circular path if we’re not paying attention.  In other words, we are almost always busy. (Another reason for AI?)

The straight and narrow as a doorway rather than an eternal narrow hallway.  Thresholds as both entrance and exit points.  Consider if the life you love becomes a static condition, you will not love it for long.  Ergo, change may be manageable, but not avoided.

Perhaps the nest of us has grown too small and the thought is to kick some folks out of the nest.  That sounds a tad insane—a maladaptive loss of contact with reality, especially when we celebrate attempts to have a democratic reality.  There is not one nest.  We can even take it with us or take joy in making another of our own choosing.  And we can do so without dispatching others.

We cannot return to another time.  Technology, including AI is no longer optional (sure we can choose to use Conestoga Wagons, but it’s a bad life-style choice in this world).  We cannot solely go back to former ways of communicating.  We cannot expect to live in this world without someone or something having some input about it.  Democracy may very well struggle with a near catastrophic setback, but authoritarianism will get old much faster than ever before. We can establish principles, but we’d be ill-advised to think of them as existing without exception. We can choose much, but it is a mistake to think we are all equal in our skillsets, contributions, or behaviors.  It is a major behavioral tell to dehumanize while shouting about the importance of democracy.  It is apparently beyond our present abilities to treat every person as a human being, even when we are forced to take action against them.  Perhaps we take action for, not against?  Otherwise, we are on the verge of turning gold into lead.

“Winning” is best thought of as transitory. There is no need for all of us to break bread or lift a glass together, but it is imperative we stop vilifying.  We are in a band, yet each of us has solo parts. In both cases, the notes have to fit the piece, the separate sounds have to blend together so the enthusiasts are largely enthralled.  And we have to know there is no such thing as one kind of music, sound, band, orchestra, or way to play. In other words, there is no need or reason for any authoritarianism whatsoeverThere is a need for authoritativeness—a bedrock of democracy is the validity of our behavior, including having a voice.  (Authoritative: 1) able to be trusted as having accurate and valid concerns, backed by data, study, feedback from different people of different backgrounds and ways of being; 2) having integrity; 3) likely to be calm and focused in the midst of a crisis; 4) recognizes their limitations and flaws and thus seeks considered feedback and discussion.  From The Morning Gruel Dictionary, ©2023, all rights reserved. (Compare this definition to a real dictionary—it’s not crazy off base.)

If we dare to transform, let’s go with way more useful behaviors, thoughts, emotions, environments, and social interactions than what we have. There is no going back. There is no remaining the same. Nonetheless, much of what was old, can be carried forward, it does not have to be lost forever, even if it is no longer alpha (think biologically—the brainstem did not disappear when the limbic system came into being, nor did either vanish when the cerebral cortex evolved).

We are deciding our course whether we know it or not.

We learn to make the best choices we can, put those choices to the test, and stand ready to make changes.

No one gets dehumanized—saintly or deranged, we are human beings.

To be alive means being busy.  Resentment is best served with humor.  We also need to ensure we have time to rest, to vacation, to include others, to practice the art of awe and wonder.

The Point: Integrity and validity are valuable currencies (there are different kinds of each) in having a voice and in our behavior.  Biology learns.  The past may not be alpha now.  The present is a gift.  The future is ahead—always.  Despite the temporal categories, the time is always now.  Technology is supposed to help, not take over (we were letting tech take over long before AI).  Nonetheless, the question is what do we do now—live disingenuously? Create a technological intelligence in our image and then live in fear it will do what we have done or do we create ways to be better than we have been?

Learn to be alone-alone, alone-together, and together-together. The I-energy, the you (other)-energy, and the we-energy are not always equally important; they always interact in some manner. Grow the “I am,” get better at the “you are,” recognize the “We are” is here to stay. 

Alchemize well.

Next month?: Resentment—a personal tell-tale. Entanglement is apparently easy when attention is hijacked.


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