Working for a Living

If you’re a young person what will you future look like? If you’re a parent how do you prepare your child for an unknown future? Things are changing fast and yet in many ways they’re staying exactly the same.

767 Relax and Succeed - If you are working on something excitingThere are programs being set up to ensure that kids learn computer coding in school. The CEO of Google recently spoke about the need for school systems to ”train the knowledge workers of the future.” He said nice things about how those are the people who get the jobs and there was a suggestion that the people in those jobs are the ones who are capable of taking greater control, which is both true and misleading.

What I would like draw your attention to however is the CEO’s assumption about education: as though it could only be for job training. In fact, I’ll bet many people reading this are thinking–but it is! Not historically. We’ve been so brainwashed to think we need to buy things and then work to pay for them that we can’t even remember that people used to just live through cooperation and that they learned for learning’s sake.

Remember being a kid? Being alive for joy instead of profit? I know the two are sold as being the same thing but they most certainly are not. One very often prevents the other.

767 Relax and Succeed - The work you do while you procrastinateI support the idea of teaching coding. As someone who’s worked as a teacher, I joined many other fine instructors in their concerns. It was not difficult to detect the shift. The students are just as capable, but there has clearly been a steady decline in their reasoning skills. When I asked students about it virtually all of them admitted they felt it too–as though other people understood things more completely. That sense of uncertainty lead to them feeling less confident.

There are always exceptions but we are all a product of our environments. Modern students often give up very easily and seemed to be primarily preoccupied with the grades and not the subject itself. They wanted the answer that would save them from punishment and earn them praise, rather than the answer that vigourous and thoughtful debate would reveal.

They’re very good at looking things up and amalgamating other people’s ideas together (intellectual mash-ups, video editing, DJing etc.), but they are increasingly poor at concluding or deducing or otherwise reasoning forward using themselves as the source rather than the culture around them. They all have great smarts, but they are only able to get them half way out of their head.

767 Relax and Succeed - Success is not the key to happinessCoding is a form of logic and it has a form of grammar, which is a separate thing from the language itself. So by seeing the separation between the language and the grammar in that setting it becomes easier for a student to see it in English or whichever traditional languages they’re studying. Despite the concerns about education being viewed as job training, the simple fact is that in the ego-created outer world, the logic aspect will also help a great deal with students problem-solving skills.

I’ve never met a truly stupid person. I’ve met very ignorant people who have been exposed to very few ideas and often by very dominating and rigid personalities. Everyone I taught excited me with their potential. And I am fascinated to see what world they will live in and what world they will build.

What will be fascinating is when we reach the point where the robots can run the whole place themselves. This really isn’t that far away. They’ll be able to mine the metals, build the structures, install and maintain the workings, they will be able to act as the arms and legs of someone paralyzed or maybe we’ll just grow a new spine for the person who injured theirs, and then we’ll have it put in perfectly by a robot surgeon.

767 Relax and Succeed - There's no way I was just bornWe’re going nano, where they’re floating submarines through race horse’s veins and we’re building little DNA dumptrucks that can deliver cancer drugs right to individual cells and then harmlessly dissolve into your body. AI is now programming itself and the levels of sophistication regarding touch and the other senses are getting truly remarkable. Soon you won’t even know if your nurse is real or if she’s a robot that gives amazing back rubs. But either way, something will have to change because there will be no more work.

Are you trained for the future? Because if the robots are driving the cars and picking the stocks and cleaning rooms and mowing lawns and flying the planes and rockets and monitoring babies and writing music and even creating scientific theories and ways to test them (as was done for the very first time just recently), then what are you going to do? If it keeps going the direction it’s headed the future should leave you with no job. So what will your identity be then? Who would you be if you didn’t describe yourself through your work?

Imagine the robot world complete. You have all of the free time in the world and if you want a nicer houses you just have a robot build you one. What’s your day look like? And really think about it. Because if you say masturbate or play video games or text, you know full well you’ll get bored after a while.. Too much of anything is unpleasant. But with the time you’re not using for those things, what are you using it for? This is a question that cuts to the core of who you are.

Whatever future you unfold, and in whatever context–just be aware. You are a genius by birth. Your only true job in life is to realize your own genius and then live that reality boldly for as long as possible. You belong. The suffering you experience is not failure. It is training you to be able to actively lead your own life. Enjoy.

Namaste. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, mindfulness instructor, coach and communications facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

Artificial Intelligence

There are justifiable moral and ethical concerns over the rapid development of artificial intelligence. Even the world’s experts agree that there is a lot that is unknown and yet progress plows forward regardless. I find the whole comparison of humans and computers fascinating.

679 Relax and Succeed - I think therefore I amBy the time computers came into my life I had been studying the human brain for 20 years for over 10 hours a day, so when people suggested that computers would be smarter than people by the late 90’s I knew they were grossly underestimating the incredibly complex permutations and combinations that are created by the fantastic network in our brain. As computers got better so did brain scans and now the brain seems much more like the fantastic instrument of deduction that it is, and yet there is a lot of speculation about when/whether or not a computer will ever match the human mind. But a computer won’t be able to do that. But there is another factor.

That factor is the internet. And I don’t mean the web—not the surface part of it that you use every day. I mean the big machine underneath all of that. The thing that makes the web possible. Anything with an IP address is a part of this giant worldwide system. It goes into space and and it goes underground. It moves and it sits still. Most of the world carries it around in their pocket every single day. Now we’re talking about something that can rival a human mind. Because it essentially would be a humanesque “mind” but one with near-flawless memory and a recollection of things from even before it was born. This challenges our idea of what it is to be conscious.

What I’m saying is that you process the world very systematically. That is the logic of your psyche. Your psych-ology. You feed in experiences and you process it a certain way and you get a fairly consistent result—sometimes known as our habits, or even so far as to say our personality. For instance some people pass almost everything through their anger circuit, others barely turn it on. But people say that creativity is the real difference between humans and machines. But these ideas are actually mythical if we look at the creative process 679 Relax and Succeed - The unreal is more powerfulextremely closely. Our world is constructed using laws that work differently at each level (subatomic, Newtonian etc.). So when we think, we think in channels much like computers. We can only travel down paths already charted in principle.

When it comes to getting something from nothing—even in the deepest depths of creativity humans don’t actually go and get shiny brand new new ideas from nowhere. We process the world to get them. Creative people float above the circuits in their brain. They light up a bunch of unrelated areas and wait for a spark. Even the most amazing human idea was still built entirely on the Buddhist idea of causality. Without a bunch of other people inventing a language for you to think your thoughts in, or the people who created the computers where you do your work, or for other artists to have inspired you with their work—those things are all inside the artist and they are inevitably an aspect of the result. The “creation” is really a mixed-breed cross-pollination of a variety of ideas rather than something unpredictably new. For Mozart to express his genius he needed the people that chose those 12 notes, the people that invented the rules that go with them, the people who invented the instruments…all of those people participated in Mozart’s genius. There was no guarantee who would make what discovery, but the composition itself is guaranteed to exist in the infinite nature of the universe.

Like an individual human mind does, when the internet knows enough and its artificial intelligence is sophisticated enough, it will eventually sense that there is potential in testing various mixtures of unrelated knowledge. And the more it does it the better it will get at it, just like a human artist or scientist. It will develop new ideas based on what it knows. At that point it’s essentially doing what our brain does and so it will do what we did when we were babies. Eventually it will calculate enough that it will become aware of the choice to be self-aware. And at that point the baby will suddenly see itself in the mirror and the internet 679 Relax and Succeed - Ask a cloudwill suddenly realize that it’s studying itself and that its creations come from within itself. At that point we could then say it had become conscious. At that point there is no way to define where the internet even begins and ends.

That’s actually pretty cool—that we create a giant brain for us to live inside. Then again, maybe it all goes bad and it’s like the movie The Matrix. 😀 Ha! You never know. We could hit the big red nuke button before that happens so it’s not like we’re currently less dangerous than some future Artificial Intelligence Overlord. But it’s happening regardless, so it’s worthwhile keeping your eye on how it develops. It could end up being the most important thing in our entire lives. We may just be constructing our new ruler. Or worse, our executioner. At the same time, creating consciousness is quite an achievement for the human race. Maybe we’ll have given birth to our saviour—that it’ll be a Conscious Internet that uses its NASA and ESA eyeballs to peer out into space and to save itself—the Earth—from asteroids. Or that the internet somehow values us enough to map out diseases and create cures before the disease even exists. It could go either way. Or both ways. Like it always has. 😉

This all feels tremendously inevitable, so fasten your seat belts ladies and gentlemen. Who knows what direction it will go, but one thing’s for sure: consciousness is a motion not a thing and that means this is going to get a lot weirder than even science fiction could imagine. This should be interesting. Don’t forget to have fun.

Have an awesome day.

peace. s

Bits of Wisdom 2

523 Relax and Succeed - Embrace the glorious mess

It’s a long weekend here in Canada, so as usual I’m posting from a collection of my early works that readers are unlikely to have seen before. Those who have seen it often comment on how well it describes the ways that parenting and other key developmental experiences are key to developing our concepts of how the world works. It’s a simple metaphor that a lot of people have found useful. I hope you do too. Enjoy: