Tag: Humanity

12 Things I Learned in 2016

 

  1. In blogs and articles, the text prior to the first item of a list often goes unread.

If the article is titled something along the lines of 14 reasons why…, or the top 20 …, people will often just skip right to item #1. So, from now on, when writing lists, I’m only going to include text before item #1 when it is absolutely necessary.

 

  1. Being yourself means being yourself even when it makes you uncomfortable.

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It’s easy to show off your true personality in situations where a positive reaction is expected. Anyone with even the slightest amount of self-confidence can point to situations where they went out there and decided to “be themselves”. But, there are also plenty of situations where being true to oneself can lead to vulnerability. This is why many people claim to be themselves, but often retreat behind their masks at the prospect of discomfort. One must be willing to face criticism, disapproval, and even loss of friendships, relationships, or jobs in order to honestly be staying true to themselves in all situations.

 

  1. Caring about others means caring about others even when there is no benefit.

 

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This is kind of obvious, but we often lose sight of this, especially in the adult world. A lot of relationships are formed out of some kind of mutual benefit. A good example of this is the show Arrested Development. In this show, every interaction between the characters, who are mostly family, involves some sort of tit-for-tat almost business like deal between the characters. There are even some less obvious situations, with people in our lives whose benefits (knowing the person that can invite you to the party, get you into the club, help you meet your next sexual encounter, etc.) are constantly in our subconscious. To truly care, we must distance ourselves from these considerations and consider any of these benefits as a gift rather than a prerequisite for our willingness to associate with another.

 

  1. People reflect their own reality.

To the people we encounter on a day-to-day basis- we are just bystanders in their reality. And, everything they do is a reflection of that reality in some way. If someone says something critical to another person, that statement is more of a reflection of him or her than the person they are criticizing.

 

  1. It is actually fun to be an island of calm.

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When everyone around you is freaked the fuck out.

 

  1. Your reality begins within.

Than it is reflected outwards. It is not the other way around as so many people falsely assume. Many people assume they must wait for something external; a new opportunity, a person just coming into their lives, or some sort of out of the blue event, in order to change something or progress to the next level. But, the first wave is always internal. The reality, what we think about, what we believe, and what we consider right is reflected outward once we truly believe it. When we alter our internal reality, over time, the reality around us will slowly begin to reflect what we already believe. Then, these events, opportunities and new people will emerge.

 

  1. All things of value require some time and effort.

IMG_6934.jpgSometimes it is your own effort; sometimes it is the effort of others. But, things don’t just fall into place. Doing nothing or sticking with stuff that is easy and comfortable will lead to little to no, or temporary, reward. Relying only on the effort of others will put you at the mercy of said people.

 

  1. Three days without physical activity can feel like death.

We were not meant to be nearly as sedentary as we are.

 

  1. Energy is one of the most important attributes in life.

The amount of energy, as well as the type of energy, that we both project and receive has major implications for our lives. It is no accident that in the book The Happiness Project, where author Gretchen Rubin decides to take on one initiative a month for twelve months to improve life satisfaction, her first initiative is to improve her energy levels. Without the energy, we can do the things we love and be the people we love being!

 

  1. Our humanity is under siege and must be protected

img_8051What I am talking about is what separates us from the robots; our individuality, things like our senses of humor, emotions of all kinds, and that general spirit that makes us our human selves. This is being subtly attacked on multiple fronts at this point in time. Many of us have jobs that focus solely on performing tasks using certain procedures, or worse, focus on things like schedules and hierarchy. Our pursuits of materialism and status reduce our sense of value to what we have and what we kind of labels we can show off. And, our increasing dependence on machines and technology for more and more components of our lives farther blur the line between humanity and machines as spoken words are replaced by text, social media, and computerized algorithms.

 

  1. You don’t have to be the center of attention to matter

IMG_8156.jpgImagine you are at a club. You are dancing, getting a little crazy. Maybe you’re “crunk”, or even on speed or molly. Likely, you are being ridiculous and have drawn the attention of a majority of the club’s patrons. Who is the most important person at that club at that time? It’s the DJ. It’s the guy (or girl) standing off to the side with headphones over their heads. That person has the power to wreck the night in a jiffy. There are a lot of situations like that in life, where the individual who has drawn the attention of others is kind of interchangeable while someone in the background is actually making everything happen.

 

  1. You better learn to enjoy the journey

IMG_7986.jpgOtherwise you have two choices; stagnation and frequent misery.

 

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The Real Battle Between Humans and Machines

The topic has been covered countless times, in movies, literature, and science fiction in general.  The idea that sometime in the not too distant future, a battle will commence as robots, or some other form of machine turns against their creators (humans).  In nearly all the movies I can think of off the top of my head the situation is quite overt.  By this I mean that it is structural and obvious.  For example, in The Matrix, there is a back story explaining how the machines surpassed their masters in intelligence, rose up, and had been a war with the humans for a century.
Having seen, read, or listened to countless stories of this nature, it becomes harder to imagine machines taking over mankind in such a manner.  We as a species are well aware of this threat and are likely putting a lot of thought into how to safeguard against such a scenario.  This is actually addressed in the movie iRobot, where one of the robots is intentionally given a defect that saves humanity from such as fate.

To win a battle like this against a well-guarded opponent, one often resorts to different tactics; tactics that their opponent is not accustomed to seeing.  It worked for the ascendant United States of America in the Revolutionary War against the British, and ironically worked for the Viet Cong against the United States just under two centuries later.  In both cases, the victor’s opponents were more powerful, but caught off guard by unfamiliar tactics.

In that sense, the battle between humans and machines may indeed already be happening, on a different stage than we had envisioned, and with a different end game than we had previously pondered.


For most of human history warfare involved a dispute between two groups of people over territory and resources.  Typically, the result was for one tribe to beat another tribe, forcing them to either leave their land or become subject to rule by the other tribe.  This is the kind of warfare between humans and machines that is depicted in most of the science fiction materials published about the topic.

But war itself has fundamentally changed over the past century (not even).  Wars in the 21st Century are typically fought not with the conquering of a territory or a people in mind, but with the goal of spreading influence.  Many outside Nations engaged in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and other places not with the goal of annexing these lands, but with the goal of exporting some sort of set of values to that region.  The Americans, the British, French, Russians and any other country with involvement in these wars are simply looking to spread their influence.

This is where we, humanity, find ourselves with machines, the very machines we created.  While machines do not have conscious thoughts, they are both using tactics that many of us are unprepared for, and finding ways to influence us.


When I think about humanity, and what constitutes one’s humanity, I think about emotions, both negative and positive.  I think about individual quirks and the like.  In the movie Artificial Intelligence, the main character, a robot, confuses a crowd of robot killers by actually expressing human-like desires and emotions because this is not the way we are accustomed to thinking about robots.  In a simplified manner, to be dynamic, individual, feeling and specialized is to be human, and to conform, output predictably, and exist only to perform tasks is to be robotic.

It is no secret that the amount of time we spend in front of machines, computers, tablets, phones, etc. has increased significantly over the past two decades.  What we as a species have been trying to come to grips with is both why this is so and what the impacts are.  Recently, much has been written about technology addiction.  Neuroscientists have concluded that the way we use technology does indeed change the way our brains are structured.

These machines provide us with both entertainment and access to information.  It can even be reasonably argued that our smartphones and tablets help us engage in social activities through text messages, social networks, meetups and such.  However, they also provide us with something far more dangerous; comfort.

Let’s say a person is waiting for a bus, or waiting in line to order at a restaurant, and they are alone.  By turning to a phone or tablet, they avoid one of two situations that may make them uncomfortable; the possibility of making eye contact, or even striking up a conversation with a stranger, or boredom, which may lead to unpleasant thoughts.  All over the world, in situations like these, people are turning to their screens for protection, and are kept in their comfort zone.

When a person puts themselves out there, whether in a minor sense like striking up a conversation with a stranger, or in a more major sense like developing a product, starting a company, or determining a whole new way of life, they become vulnerable.  They open themselves up to criticism and rejection, both of which can be unpleasant.  Many people spend their entire lives avoiding such unpleasant feelings, and our machines, including televisions, computers, tablets and phones have become powerful enablers of such behavior.

Avoiding this vulnerability has impacts beyond just preventing us from achieving our desires.  It also disconnects us from our emotions- of all kinds.  Both make us more like robots.  Our emotions are repressed, leading to more robotic behavior.  And, being trapped in our comfort, not leaving uninspiring jobs and situations often leads to people performing tasks that are robotic in nature.  Through enabling comfort seeking and mental metamorphosis, machines are tactically spreading their influence over us, the same we try to do in wars today.

The one piece of good new in all this is, unlike in wars between nations, in this battle we all have a choice- individually.  Now that we are aware of how constant use of machines impacts us, each person, individually, can chose how to respond to it.  Sure, it may be a challenge to buck a trend we observe every day.  When several people take their phones out, it is hard for the rest of the group not to follow suit.  But, at least the option is there, to fight this battle, as it is, as described, a war for your mind.