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I’ve been having weird dreams lately. Part of my dream last night involved the singularity and a word called “ultrapunishment.” Needless to say, it was more of a nightmare.
It was pretty abstract, but the jist of the dream was that the “Mariani family secrets” were stolen by a fellow in his pre-singularity mortal life, and an apparently Mariani-related woman who looked like Camille Paglia (who is actually pretty cool) was now a powerful posthuman being who had the power to torture the thief’s consciousness.
There are no Mariani family secrets, and nobdy knows what the singularity holds for us – a fact that is baked right into the etymology of the word. Maybe perfect moral enlightenment will come with merging with a superintelligence. Maybe they will inherit their human pettiness, or maybe such pettiness will magnified yet. The point is that even a chance of the extreme disutility scenario of being punished forever is worthy of consideration.
Even someone who is originally a dick to you could be a vengeful post-human god – maybe it’s unlikely, but it’s possible. So, it’s in your interest to follow the teachings of Jesus and love your worst enemy. Any utility lost from self-denial for the good of another in this mortal life is inconsequential compared to a potential eternal punishment or reward.
This is all textbook example of imperfect contrition, where someone behaves morally out of something such as fear of punishment rather than the love of God and his laws. So my advice is to try to show charity and kindness even to the least deserving assholes on the planet, since you don’t know who is going to be in a privileged position of processing power. Maybe it’s the best reason, but if you believe in the singularity, you might as well follow God’s greatest commandments.
For reasons that should now be obvious, I don’t view the singularity as a necessarily good thing. As Zager and Evans said, “If God’s a-coming, he oughta make it by then.”
0600 – Wake up, start coffee maker.
0620 – Begin reading local newspaper. Front section is a mish mash of local crime, state legislature blather, Christians beheaded by ISIS, chickens loose on a California freeway after falling off a truck, train crashes in West Virginia, snow storms Back East. Etc.
0645 – Begin making breakfast and lunch for me and my son. For the first time so far today, deal with something real.
Periodically throughout day – repeat check-check-check. Get angry at Mitch McConnell for giving in on “clean DHS funding bill.” Obama wins again. The country is going to shit. The goddam Democrats are blocking everything good and holy, except for bringing millions more illegal aliens who will eventually vote for them and for more welfare. Pope Francis is quoted as saying he’s just skippy with homos having anal sex…or at least that’s what the Lamestream Media want you to believe about him. Greece elects hard-lefties who promise to screw the EU, and it’s hard not to get excited/concerned about that, either because they’re hard-left a-holes or because it would be so delicious to see the EU collapse like the craptacular, multiculti house of cards it truly is. Tweet the blog posts from the people you like that were posted in the last six hours. Throw in a couple of original tweets about how the Oscars are a disgusting sewer hole of Political Correctness. Check Drudge again to see if the world ended while you weren’t noticing. Don’t resist clicking on the story about a man having a freaking baby. Don’t resist clicking on the link at the bottom to “8 Hottest Hotties in their Hottest bikinis.”
Read Dr. Bruce Charlton’s new book Addicted to Distraction. It’s free, and it’ll take you an hour. May you never look at Mass Media the same. We are indeed addicted to distraction, you and I and most of the people who immerse themselves in the Mass Media. Which is just plain most people in the West, and soon the world.
Dr. Charlton makes the point often missed: the media aren’t “biased” to the Left, the Medium is the Message, and the message is that everything is someone’s opinion, everything is “relative.” Even when media presents something good, heroic, charitable, it’s immediately subject to analysis and criticism, to dissection of motive, to questioning on whether the White Cismale who saved a kid from drowning was just another Macho stereotype.
We thought we would use the Web for our purposes, us conservatives, men of the Right, Traditionalists, Neoreactionaries. The Left controlled the Old Mass Media, the NYTWAPO and NBABCBS, but we would seize our chance for every man and woman jack to blog and comment and share our perspective, to go around the Gatekeepers, to form our own networks and “get our message out.”
We were wrong. We were assimilated. We continued to click on the Mass Media, to respond, respond, respond to all of the relativism and the bullshit, to “strike back” at Obama and Reid and Pelosi and Jezebel and Buzzfeed, Slate and Salon, to the married fags and the trannies and the Slut Walkers, the beheaders and terrorists, the escaped tigers and maniacs, the Kardashians and Housewives; to the Daily Spew.
Dr. Charlton is a blogger himself, of course, and he’s quite frank in his assessment that not only is he mired in the Mass Media, too, but his efforts to escape the addiction are subject to constant temptation and periodic backsliding. But it’s a fight well worth making, not in an effort to save the society, but to save your soul. You might with profit read his piece The Psychological Basis of Self-Remembering as an aid.
It is possible, if barely, to continue to use the web and to post articles on real things without remaining in the Mass Media matrix. I’m going to try. My strength is the examination of Old Stuff, anyway. Like Dr. Charlton, I know I’ll backslide, just like with the Commandments I’m taught in the Church. These human frailties are the base upon which the Mass Media was built.
The Church, at least, has the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Hopefully, as the media continue to lead society toward the drain we can, like AA members, help each other retain a measure of sanity.
It’s over here at TheDC. Check it out:
TheDC: What is ExposeCorruption.org, and what convinced you to the media needed to be taken on?
Dickinson: After what happened to me, I saw the same keep happening. Over the past year media behavior seems to have been getting progressively worse. The Brendan Eich incident, him being fired from Mozilla. The Matt Taylor incident, him being forced to give a tearful apology for wearing a shirt. And also GamerGate. It just seemed like a lot of threads were coming together and that the battlefield might be ready for something like this project to succeed.
TheDC: Aren’t there already media watchdogs, like Media Matters or the Media Research Center?
Dickinson: We’re different from those other groups because we aren’t politically partisan. We don’t represent team red or team blue, we’re with Team Grey. We are partisan to the internet generation and that libertarian-inflected free-speech-valuing culture. I think a lot of people out there are especially furious with the media right now, and this latest NYT outrage will only deepen the feeling. I woke up to the NYT’s Julie Bosman’s dox in my inbox this morning. She was one of the writers of that article doxxing Darren Wilson.
The Daily Caller was good enough to let me publish a piece on why #Shirtstorm is a symptom of fashionable neo-Marxism in our culture. Here’s an excerpt:
The Verge, a tech site that tipped its hand as unethical and agenda-pushing during GamerGate, ran a headline reading, “I don’t care if you landed a spacecraft on a comet, your shirt is sexist and ostracizing.” They are literally convinced that fashion, in both the clothing and radical chic senses, is so important that they don’t even care about forward leaps in science. Think I am mischaracterizing them? The subtitle reads “That’s one small step for man, three steps back for humankind.” Wearing a shirt that the groovy people at The Verge don’t like is three times as bad as making a breakthrough in space exploration is good.
The feminism that we have making noise right now isn’t the feminism that fought for equality and against discrimination. Rather than being based in enlightenment values of humanism and equality under the law, it is grounded in neo-Marxist theory of power and oppression. You know when people say that only women can be victims of sexism because of some non-falsifiable, abstract, aggregate definition of power? You were hearing neo-Marxist critical theory.
Escalating this kind of outrage is a pretty dangerous gambit, I think. As with all anti-rationalist narratives, this bizarre campaign is eventually going to buckle under the weight of its own accumulated contradictions.
The year is 1974. Harvard philosophy professor Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia has just hit the shelves. A few dozen pages in, Nozick prods you to consider a simple thought experiment: Imagine you had a choice between everyday reality and a fabricated, alternative existence provided by what he called “the experience machine.”
This apparatus, invented by neuroscientists, could be set in advance to provide you the feeling of all your desired experiences over the course of your life. Nozick assures us that this simulated existence would seem entirely real, although you’d merely be floating in a tank, attached to electrodes.
Hedonism is the view that pleasure (sometimes also labeled “happiness”) is the chief good humans strive for. If hedonism holds, then, by definition, all human action would be strictly a means to that end. When prompted with the opportunity to pre-program a lifetime of pleasurable experiences, hedonists would rejoice: they would strap into the experience machine. However, most people, feeling a deep unease even contemplating the choice, indicate they would decline the offer. From this we are left to conclude that people value more in life than felt experience alone. Nozick’s clever hypothetical is generally viewed as convincing among contemporary philosophers as a robust challenge to hedonism and utilitarian theories in moral and political philosophy based on it.
Now let’s flash forward forty years from the thought experiment’s formal philosophical introduction and have a look at the current state of affairs. Does the experience machine, or something like it, exist?
The world we live in is digitized and connected like never before and it just so happens that a lot of people spend a lot of time taking advantage of that. Some of today’s widely used technologies can feel like low-level experience machines, although none come close to being a proxy for Nozick’s. That is all about to change. Oculus, a kickstarter-launched company has created what might be the next screen to claim its place in the pixilated lineage of groundbreaking electronic devices. Its virtual reality (VR) headset, dubbed the Rift, provides an immersive first-person sensory experience that will have a wide range of applications in the future. Facebook executives thought so highly of the technology that they speculated it could become the globe’s “next major computing platform” and promptly coughed up two billion dollars to make it their own.
While virtual reality has been around for quite some time in various forms, this recent innovation represents a large shift towards real-life experience machines. Call it Nozick’s axis:
While the Rift is impressive, any possibility of realizing Nozick’s famous thought experiment depends on how well VR matches up against certain characteristics of the conceptual machine.