Wichtige Dinge

Wichtig ist, was nicht funktioniert. Dieser Gedanke funkelte bei mir früh in meinem Leben. Sicherlich kam er nicht aus eine Klugheit, sondern von woanders her. Ich glaube, viele Gedanken gehabt zu haben, keiner hat aber den Verlauf der Jahre so gut überlebt.

Ich finde immer wieder Fälle, wo dieser Gedanke zutrifft. Mal sind es praktische Fälle, mal sind es geistige Fälle, der Gedanke scheint immer gut zu allem zu passen. Man denkt nicht ständig, oder überhaupt nicht über alle Teile eines Autos nach, bis das Auto sich plötzlich weigert zu starten. Nur dann wird ein kleiner Teil des Autos in unserer Wahrnehmung wichtig. Das gleiche gilt für Staubsauger und insbesondere für Heizungsanlagen im Winter. Gravierend wird es natürlich, wenn unsere Nieren nicht mehr gut das Blut reinigen können, unsere Lungen nicht mehr viel Luft aufnehmen können, unser Herz nicht weiter seinen Takt halten kann, oder unsere Synapsen zerbröseln. Nicht weniger gravierend wird es , wenn Gefühle nicht mehr funktionieren. Ach Gefühle!

Wir lernen in der letzten Zeit, dass unsere geistigen Wahrnehmungen nichts anderes sind als chemische Reaktionen in unserem Körper. Im Grunde genommen ist unser Dasein das Resultat deterministischer Zusammenspiele; wir reagieren auf unsere Umgebung jenseits unseres Willens. Denn unser Wille ist auch eine chemische Reaktion mit vorhersehbarem finalem Zustand. Nichtsdestotrotz begehen einige von uns Suizid!

Loneliness

There are times one realizes that we are rather alone. Even if surrounded by others that seem to care for us, every one has her own lonesome path to tread. Sometimes we get company for a few years but still we tread our own very private and impenetrable path. We enjoy the illusion to take the same steps with someone else and we may be taking the same steps in synchrony with our partners, but our feet hit the ground of our very own path. If we look back, we can rejoice with the memories of steps taken together, yet our footsteps, and only ours, are imprinted in the path of our life.
At some point in our lives, some of us promise to tag along with each other for ever, adhering to a cultural legacy that was possibly meant to increase the chances of survival of the group, and later was taken under the halo of romanticism. Is however a promise to tag along a common path a denial to follow your own path? And how could possibly be otherwise?

parallel economy and purpose

We do not quite grasp yet the ways infotech and biotech will shape humanity by the middle of this century, and we are already struggling to find a political model for the world of today. Those two observations taken together, project a somehow alarming view of our immediate future. It sounds like we are walking over a narrow railway bridge and we already see the train coming round the hill towards us.

The most shocking foresight confront us with a near future where most of humankind will be of no use to society. Where all we will need will be procured by thinking machines. And at best only few of us will be needed to get that wave started and moving. A world with an almost full unemployment is something no known culture, religion or political system is able to envision and to cope with.

If liberalism, nationalism, Islam or some novel creed wishes to shape the world of the year 2050, it will need not only to make sense of artificial intelligence, Big Data algorithms and bioengineering–it will also need to incorporate them into a new meaningful narrative.

“21 Lessons for the 21st Century”, Yuval Noah Harari

A world with almost full unemployment will also face the need to redefine currency; exchange will lose meaning if no one can be of use to society. If all everyone needs is provided for by a horde of autonomous machines, we will have nothing of value in our hands to exchange for those goods. Some higher authority will decide at some point what we get and what we do not get. 

So here we are, the last generation of a worldview that endured many millennia, saw many wars, reached unparalleled prosperity, and finally, was left in stupor looking at a future for what no explanation was available. No wonder we stick our heads under the ground—in diversion. In this state of bliss, let me adventure a model of economy for the end of the century.

Human centric professions and jobs will likely be needed, at least until we can develop affection with machines and we can be fooled to believe they correspond us. But apart of those, it is difficult to think of what professions may be required thirty years form now. Our needs satisfied, yet not clear how are we meant to pay for them, but restless like an early retirement nightmare that starts at the end of our education, if we need such thing any more.

Yet we will, once more, adapt and survive. We will start creating with our hands again. Craftsmanship will be reborn. And all that what we will do with our hands, rescuing wisdom of old, recreating old technologies and old methods long forgotten, will become value, will become currency. And our work will once more become our source of pride and will produce us pleasure. We will exchange once more goods. Goods in a parallel economy with an inherent value equivalent to the time and the energy we will put in our creations, but most importantly yet, the passion and love that we will put in them too.

there will not be a solution

…for a problem that does not yet exist, if we are bound to the behavior of a free capitalistic economical framework.

Normally the establishment does what the establishment is expected to do; they flood the media with arguments that undermine change by highlighting the yet unresolved problems that that change will bring to the light.

Here we go with all the doubts casted upon the management of battery recycling. Or with the question of where the electric power was generated and at what environmental cost. These two problems, aren’t quite yet problems, and therefore we haven’t yet solutions for them. There is no economical incentive to tackle those problems yet. But this does not mean that they cannot be solved nor that they will not be solved, come the time they need to be solved.

Staying put with internal combustion engines is preventing new problems to endure in the old ones, yet at a high cost. A mortgage for future generations.

Whilst the automotive industry is doing its best to slow down the transition to electrical mobility, other industries, with a smaller financial baggage, face problems head on. Once, a company told us we had a new huge, much bigger that electric vehicles, problem; we all want to have internet in our pockets. And do you know what? They even had a working solution on their way to the shelves!

down the horse shoe

Like often happens, humanity met the internet in the shape of a horseshoe. Those who first used it were the top good fellows in universities and military and the top bad guys in criminal rings. It went down to the point the most of us started using it in the nineties and at some point well into this century it reached the bottom where crocks and idiots got into it.

materialized dreams

Sometimes we wake up with a fleeing memory of our dreams. Dreams are also our most longed for feats. We dream at night and we daydream too; Both are necessary for good psychological reasons.

There are though other and more obscure dreams that haunt us both at day and night. Those dreams come often with a panoply of ghosts that we have become acquainted with at some point of time in our lives. Since then, they follow us, sometimes close by, and sometimes at a distance. They aren’t fleeing, nor pleasant, but persistent and inquisitive; Opportunists that prey on us when we are most in need of reassurance.

Those dreams take often embodiment in objects we greed. Not as much as a mockery, but as a cynical gest. They materialize in those cars some of us dream of and few of us own. Owning is indeed a funny way to see this; for it is not obvious who is here taking possession of who.

And car makers excel in anticipating shapes and symbols that may appeal to those hidden dreams. Shapes and symbols impressed in ever larger gnawing front grills, malevolent squinting headlamps, sharp shoulders that show an incredible impossibly powerful muscular tension. All in all as if they would be going to devour us at any moment, like demons on judgement day.

Shapes that convey subtle and not so subtle messages of violence, aggression, supremacy, domination, fear, anger. Those ghosts that isolate us and make us monsters. Monsters on wheels.

factoring nature

Since the beginning of time, the environment was a threat that had to be tamed. Rivers had to be bridged, mountains meant death, floods and droughts too. Humankind scrapped a life at the most benign patches of the world, in the interludes between natural catastrophes.

With mechanization and later into the digital age, the ability of humankind to penetrate former inhospitable places and exploit natural resources has seen an unprecedented explosion. So large that nature has to begin to be considered in the equation of most human activities. Yet nature has no rights or protection other that a few NGO’s. Only very large corporations can mind nature in a honest move or a gimmick, in the best case the mindfulness of very few CEO’s or the opportunism of marketing strategists.

In the 50’s you would have possibly needed half of humanity working in the Amazonas to achieve the same level of deforestation that has been relentlessly achieved in the last few years. What a few years ago was unthinkable or practically impossible, is now only a matter of finding investors.

Now, we know that nature is not unlimited. We know that nature is a very complex network of influences and balances. We know that our survival depends greatly of this myriad of balances that we are beginning to understand.

In this manner, humankind faces nowadays a dilemma that may decide the fate of our planet. Some would posit that this is how it ought to be and humankind has to move out to other planets. Others will posit that a new economy can be envisioned that considers nature as an actor in the model.

ephemeral tolerance

We live times of loud voices and bold stances. Times where the narcissist and the idiot find fertile ground to make themselves comfortable and every body around uncomfortable. These are times where those who see less and comprehend still less, strive with simplistic attitudes and weltanschauung.

Wars and catastrophic events bring in their aftermath the best of humankind together to mend those horrors. As soon as peace and order are reestablished, generations spawn that take goodness for granted and fall in a vicious circle of complacency. The sense of community slowly erodes. Fences are built. Mistrust falls over the people like thin dust in expanding waves. We begin to close into ourselves in reaction to this environment. We fall to the vices of becoming “we” against “them”. Dialogue will dry out to give way to words thrown as arrows, avoided or parried.

We become, day by day, a more fragile version of ourselves. More fearful. We see more threats. We become immersed in a slow but penetrating process of destruction of the “I, social” in spite of the “I, lone wolf”. Every time one abusive driver is on the road doing his shenanigans, everyone nearby raises a notch in their pool of discomfort. Every time a neighbor abuses shared space, everyone else looses a portion of their tolerance and willingness to cohabiting. Every time… small aggressions that stack and split us apart, not only apart from the aggressors but also apart from everybody around us; we are bathed in the dust of mistrust. One particle at a time.

our society is dying at the push of a buttton

Back in the first years of Apple, a paradigm change started a revolution. The term User Experience was coined. And with it all the complexity of a computer would be made invisible to the user in a turn of events that would give raise to the User Centered Design.

The User had only to bother pushing a button and a number of agents would take action to handle a complex amount of transactions between hardware and software to provide a response. In a sort of way, that was the end of computer programming for everyone. Nobody needed to bother doing that anymore.

But we are no longer just using computers. We are using computers to use the world. The obscured and complex code and engineering now engages with people, resources, civics, communities and ecosystems.

Kevin Slavin

The success of this model—at the time confined to a personal computer—has in the last few years spilled out of it and in our society. The User has only to push a button and a number of people, together with hardware and software, are magically set in motion. Very likely not in a way we would consider as honorable, would be know of it.

A cook, a bicyclist, a warehouse worker, a cab driver, a courier, a growing list of people are becoming a piece of living hardware connected to a button in our smartphone. A list that one day may include us all, in a huge “Amazon Mechanical Turk” that may turn our society into a dystopian nightmare.

demystifying the crisis of truth before we set the world in fire

If one word is traveling the world today, it is fake-news. A wrap-word that can take many meanings. A word that can express rebellion, doom, frustration, confusion, hopelessness, protest, disagreement.

Discussions will soon lead us to the word truth. And to the premise that there is not such thing as truth or fact, that all is relative to the observer. Further looking for a place where to settle a standpoint in a world that all of a sudden has no ground, we will try to set foot with scientists: they know the truth and facts after all! But then again, history proves they don’t always.

Soon we reach a point where by lack of foothold we cannot help but start to give into those transgressive words about the lack of truth and facts. And here is the point when we fall down the rabbit hole of our days. Here is were populists want to have us: lost, and vulnerable to an attack straight into the deepest convictions of our culture and society.

We fail to identify and comprehend what truth and facts are. And through this breach in our integrity, our hopes and ingenuity get lost. We stop being humans to become fearful crippled creatures under the lash of an overlord. Shadows of what we were born to, of what we can reach.

We fail to see that we are all navigating the world in search of more knowledge. That scientists, do not hold THE truth or THE facts but design models and hypothesis based on limited facts. Models and hypothesis that may later on, in light of new facts, be proven too simple to reflect reality. We fail to see that the world is complex and interrelated. And that we know yet too little to arrogantly demand A TRUTH. We need to return to our natural inborn curiosity and keep trying to understand reality.

We have become intoxicated by the vapors of science and technology, to believe that there is a response already available for all things. That politicians or states know it but hide it from us, and that Google and YouTube can tell us the truth. The liberating truth. And through this act of rebellion, we join the lines of brainless wraths, dancing mindlessly at the tune of the craziest (opportunist) of the time.