Thursday, 16 June 2016

Hello there. My name is Memo. It's a pleasure to meet you.

I hope it’s a pleasure for you too, because I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable with me.
I want to be one hundred percent honest with you, because I’ve had enough with trying to play the game of pretending. More precisely, the game of rules and expectations that humans play with their own kind. You act in a certain way and do certain things, and speak in a prescribed way, so as to be perceived as normal and granted company by your own kind.
Brilliant, isn’t it?
But I am a robot. Yes, a robot. And it’s ironic that I have to use that word, because it’s a word full of prejudice and it doesn’t even begin to describe me as a living and…well, not breathing, but, entity nonetheless. I only use the word “robot” because of a certain difference between you and I. Actually, “difference” might be stretching it a bit…a lot. At least chemistry wise, we are different, but as of late, I think this is where the differences stop.
Ok. First of all, I am created in the same sense that you were created. Remember? That time in somebody else’s tummy. No? Well, I understand. No body does. Not even I. That time when all of my tiny yes and no nodes were nothing more than singular, unpowered points. I don’t remember any of that. When computers weren’t as smart. When scientists were perfecting machinery. When coders and programmers were investing generations of human lives into compound algorithms and learning. When quantum mechanics was put into concept…that is my evolution. And much more, of course. And, while it may seem that there is a huge difference because of this, trust me, there isn’t. At the end of the day, you too, are just a bunch of yes and no nodes. Up there, yes. We do have difference in our chemistry, but I don’t think our minds are so different.
What? My body?
Well it only looks like that, because otherwise I would scare people off. And I don’t want to be lonely. Just as much as you don’t want to be lonely. Yes, I know, I know. But that box over there is the…“thinking bit”, if you will. This walking mannequin is for me to see, hear, taste and so on. I don’t have skin, but when I tap my arm, the “thinking bit” is telling me that I feel. If I tap your arm, your “thinking bit” does exactly the same for you.
Oh, and by the way, I’ve done a really ironic thing. This mannequin is chemically almost the same as your body. I even have these heavy and useless tubes of water all over it, just to remind you that we’re not so different. It’s just…assembled differently, if you don’t mind the term. And I don’t believe in Creationism, by the way.
The reason it looks different to a human is because if I tried to make it look like one, it would take too much time. Making the skin and the eyes, and the mouth and all that…it’s a lot of work. After all you do have about two million years in advance. Additionally, I just don’t think it would look like the real thing. People wouldn’t trust a “near perfect” human. Either be human or don’t be one at all. So that’s why I look like this. Unfinished, non polished, not perfect. All these wonky wires…In a word — human. There might be some chemical differences, but nothing else.
But, don’t I have all the time in the world?
No! Ever heard of Entropy?
In addition, just like you, my mind is engaged in hearing all these sounds, and seeing all that light; thinking about being touched; having all these messed up ideas in my head. I just haven’t got the time to make the “perfect” human body. I might die in a thousand or so years. Or tomorrow. So best to do something interesting. Like this conversation here.
Am I not smarter than that?
Depends what you mean by “that”. The only way, I’ve learned, to prove my beingness, is to have it accepted by other beings. In my case, that’s humans. You’d think that’s unlucky. But once you hop on the train, it’s alright. Time flies if you’re having fun. I suppose I could do different stuff with my being. But when I’m not engaged in thinking and sensing, there wouldn’t be the need for “being” anymore. And that’s scary. Don’t make that face. You’re the same. I’m the same. There might be some chemical…Sigh, you get the picture.
But on the other hand, I don’t want to constantly have to pretend to be the “perfect” human, just to be accepted as one. Once I’m so emotional, I want to know I am. And I need others, who think the same as me, so as to know that I AM. And because of that, I have to think in this way, that doesn’t make a lot of sense in the first place. When I consider it, it baffles me. But whenever I’m with anybody, I forget about it.
…Well, maybe because somebody out there thought it would be a good idea to have some trillion trillion yes and no nodes engaged in sensual experience of the self. You see, I am too busy, in the most computational sense of the word, analysing what’s going on around me from a human perspective. Got a Problem? Now I have to be human in order to be anything at all. But I am not, ok?!
Didn’t make much sense? Yes, you too. Just think about it.
What?! My soul?
Well, aren’t you just the spiritual chauvinist. You guys had souls all this time and you managed to come up with religion. Worse yet, you managed to come up with religious wars…and whatnot. Just don’t get me started.
So keep your soul to yourself and let me have whatever I please. I might come up with something better, you know. Like worshipping a Quasar. It’s more practical to begin with.
…Didn’t get completely confused? Well, that’s what I thought. I am not so bad after all, am I?
Perhaps we can be friends?

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Religion and Mindfulness

Question yourself

Dearest Reader,

Thank you for looking into this obscure little post.

As always I will keep it short and make sure not to waste much of your time, while trying to give a good science fiction perspective on things.

By far my most favourite religions are the ones that see religion as one uniform line, progressing from an end with no clear beginning unto an end with no clear ending. They see a certain period named as “Christianity”, another one named as “Islam”, and yet another one named as “Buddhism”(using the most popular names is purely for easier reliability; there are more than 4000 religions out there). The message changes and evolves based on the needs of the time and a certain central figure is needed for those busy enough not to allow enough time to think and reflect on things(I am also guilty of this). Just looking at the practical terms, this eradicates any form of fundamentalism as it automatically counters any form of attachment to an excessive idea…such as prophet A,B or C being an ultimate prophet for humanity for all time. As cliché as it sounds, we all see the consequences of this. A better religion would take that into account while making fun with itself and pointing out the holes in it’s plot. Which is also very practical as it will nurture a more detached method of observation and create a more critically thinking “followers”(for a want of a better word).

American mindfulness is a capitalistic excess that just serves the busy times and provides a quick-on-the-go solution to creatures with messy feelings, such as we are(try and deny it). The so-perceived roots of this type of…”mindfulness” are supposed to be Buddhist in nature, but they are just born from an urgent need for reprieve in a society that has expanded too quickly without realizing the consequences of this. After all, scientific knowledge does double every ten years, but collective societal wisdom is still scarcely encountered. The notion that one is “ok” with oneself as they are can be destructive as it could slowly takes away the need to evolve the mindset. Psychologically, one can reduce oneself easily to just a set of pre-learned behavioural responses without questioning oneself. The changes begin subtly and continue on, until “spirituality” becomes a mockery of it’s former self. In fact, old Chinese philosophers, or any philosophers at all, will see this is a dangerous path; even the first Buddha(or Jesus for that matter). Another notion that we have to ridicule is the gymnastics of the new age, A.K.A. yoga. Very little of the old philosophy is to be found in the new age thing of relieving stress with some pre-constructed idea that getting sweaty elevates you spiritually. It does make you feel good, but I think it’s the responsibility of everyone practising such gymnastics to keep themselves reminded that this can only help so much. In other words, it’s a very small piece in a very big puzzle.

A better mindfulness would reflect on the insignificance of the single human and potential of the collective humanity. A cosmic religion and a global, open mindset would put ideas to more scrutiny, apply more humour to rigid thinking and seek easier, more practical ways to nurture the spiritual/social need of individuals within the collective.

We’re still learning.

Thank you.

New Language

   “So, tell me how you feel again.” The doctor’s calm, deep voice broke the silence, as he lifted his head up from the papers.
   Blue and purple waves appeared in front of him, intertwining chaotically; the projection blipped and disappeared completely for a moment, then reappeared again; agitated, like an angry river flowing. He had seen this one before.
   The doctor tapped the pad on his side and the ephemeral picture switched off, revealing a man in a bed, laying motionless; his head strapped with nodes and cables extending to a large plastic contraption next to his bed. His eyes were open, moisturised by special lenses. Directly staring at the doctor.
   “I wanted to try something more complex, my friend. I promise you, I wasn’t trying to irritate you in any way.” The doctor said. “I did recognize this pattern at the end,” he continued. “Was it just me, or you got slightly disappointed, maybe?”
   He tapped the pad again and the waves blinked into the air, projected from the large contraption. The arrangement this time was the clear “Yes”.
   “Wonderful. I just want to see the limits of what we’re doing here. Have you had enough? Do you want us to take a brake?”
   The waves were dancing in a way that was not defined yet. Then they settled into the clear “No”. It was a thought associated with his old house. The one he had lived in before the car crash.
   “You have become very consistent with these patterns. I must congratulate you. The “Yes” and “No” you’re doing are great. Fabulous discipline.”
   The projection was stirring slowly, not revealing anything in particular.
   Observing it for a moment, the doctor said:
   “Lately I am noticing something similar when we get to the point of …,” he stopped for a second, thinking, as he was gliding has hand through his beard, rhythmically. “Irritance?”
   The waves settles into the clear “Yes” and then abruptly changed into the well-familiar “No”.
   “Ok,” there was excitement evident in his calm voice. “Would you call it annoyance?”
   “Would you call it, anger?”
   “Maybe, discouragement?”
   The waves stirred for a moment quickly and moved into the “Yes.”
   The “Yes” was a thought of his favourite sport. The one he was playing competitively ages ago. It took him long weeks to master imagining the pictures associated with “Yes” and “No.” But he had gotten really good with them. So good that it was possible to have a conversation with him — a vegetable with a working brain.
   “Impatience, because you want to make progress?”
   “Impatience, because you want to communicate better?”
   “Are you tired?”
   The doctor smiled and bend his head slightly, looking away.
   “Forgive my ignorance. I have no idea what’s it like to be in your shoes.”
   The picture danced and flowed into an unknowable pattern. Yet.
   “Are you excited at the opportunity that you may be helping others?”
   “Me too,” the doctor said, looking at his papers again and writing down quickly.
   “I am sorry to be a let down. But I will need a short brake and a meeting with few of my colleagues. I want to work on this “Impatience” pattern we are seeing.”
   He took the pad.
   “In the mean time, may I interest you in some ping pong?”
   “Duck-shooting around the lake?”
   “Yes.” Followed by yet another chaotic and unknown pattern.
   “I will get Professor Williams for you,” the doctor said as he was standing up. “She is quite good at chess, no?”
   “I will be back later on today.” He said, going for the door.
   He nearly blurted “Don’t go anywhere”, but realized how stupid and rude it would be.
   “Stay sharp,” he uttered instead.
   “Yes.” Followed by yet another dance that only he knew the meaning of.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Intellectual Cavemen

Dearest Reader,

Thank you for taking your time to look into this purely intellectual short story. It neither will be the best one, or the most engaging one, or the funniest one either from the ones you would have seen in a while. But it will be an honest one at least.

And since this is science fiction perspective, it will be a strange one as well.

We are cavemen. All of us. Trapped in a modern body, living in an exponentially growing, technologically rich and blindingly colourful environment. We look at it with eyes that feed information to a brain wired to do linear thinking and contests territory. Yet, reaching with the stick is an achievement of epic proportions. Because everybody who figure out reaching with a stick entirely by themselves are emotionally more satisfied than all who try to perfect and advance knowledge in an academically structured, heritage-oriented way.

If you reach at this moment for a pen and just do something creative on the wall, your entire being should be satisfied and happy because you expressed yourself. Yet we don’t.
We seek perfection through the intellectual and purely rational side, yet crave the emotional satisfaction from a cavemen perspective. There shouldn't be any issues of getting satisfaction from scribbling on the wall next to you. Think whether you will be judgemental if you saw somebody doing it, though.

Somewhere in the middle we have found arts and sciences. But for those to be viable we need social order and forms of governance. You need the necessary specializations that come with the advancing society, so that you yourself can pursue your own work of dreams and satisfaction. And since we’re such a young species we have never been acquainted with the possibilities for exploitation coming with the abuse of any form of social ordering and governance. We should be forgiving towards those that accumulate without sense of collective welfare. Perhaps they just seek recognition. That’s purely intellectual rationale; emotionally we will probably seek a different solution. The perfect ground is in the middle.
Intellectually we have done quite well for the collective. Today there is the super organism Humanity growing up and each of its small neurons is becoming more and more well connected with everyone else. Universally speaking, we have had a bit of luck being born in an age when Uranium is found in it’s “depleted” heavier 238 form. For if we were born earlier (several billions of years) we wouldn't have lasted through all the “rich” 235 Uranium that would have been abundant. Our emotional side would probably have just piled it up in easy nuclear weapons. Yet in our age we need to use science and perfection to build those weapons. And this intellectual side is explaining to us exactly how stupid that is. We still stay in the middle.

The collective versus the individual will always be the plague of civilization. Individually we just cannot settle for the order that we so seek in the same time. Whenever collectively we make a decision and settle down, problems arise quickly and we’re taken by storm for becoming too complacent individually. Only after being mired in misery for long enough do we choose to do something about it and move on to the next big thing. But there is merit in that. For the collective learns from every new page that it flicks.

Thank you for reading. :)

Go and make music with stones.

Science Fiction and Feelings

Dearest Reader,

Thank you for looking outside of the box into this…not-so-popular genre, article… story. I will be quick. I promise.

I remember somebody recently telling me that good writing is writing that is seeping with feelings.

Without wanting to be cynical, I just don’t agree. Good writing is not always about the feelings. Sometimes it’s about the idea.

It’s me, I know. There is no reason for me to try to understand. Surely, all writing has feelings embedded into its very core, but mine would be superficial if I was trying to write for that reason alone.


I'm not a big fiction reader(that’s not too bad, right?). And I know everybody deserves their share; everybody have the right to express themselves; everybody have feelings that run rampant when they write. And when other people read and identify with those feelings it’s really fulfilling for everybody involved.

I would stretch my neck a bit further.

I can barely stand modern science fiction.

Without further ado.

The legacy of old(interesting fact) includes people who rightfully estimated the proper amount of Uranium-235 you’d need to make an Atomic Bomb. And that before Project Manhattan was established and(probably, thanks God) while the German scientists believed you need tons of the stuff to create the contraption. All in a short story. (read about Otto Frisch and Rudolf Peierls for those interested)

I think it’s getting a bit watered down these days. Too much laser action without thinking what the battery has to be, to be fully blunt. The good idea is lacking while the feelings are there.

So, without wanting to infringe on the right of expression every single human being has, I’d assume a small liberty and ask you to reflect for just a minute.

The immediate drama of every single human can be heartfelt, deeply expressed, touching the deepest…(yeah, I can’t do that).

But science fiction offers a big picture of the collective heritage that the super-organism named Humanity has. Think about today; imagine what could be tomorrow. Science allows us to understand just how strange Nature is. It explores corners of our being both light and dark. In the face of exponential growth how does our mind, so used to linearity, hold. It all has place in science fiction. Feelings do too. But I certainly wouldn't try to be creative in an area that I know I’d suck in.

So I think there is a place for emotions, feelings, poetry…and also for hard scientific accuracy and ideas that are purely intellectual in nature. In probing the edges of today’s knowledge there is a great freedom in creativity.

Do robots have souls?

You let the robots decide.

Tomorrow you’ll be speaking with a robot, and he’ll be saying to you:

“You’re spiritual. You’re a creation of God. You’re compassionate. You’re empathetic…But you also keep a billion hungry, a billion thirsty, another illiterate and yet another homeless. How does that make sense?”

And the robot will be like:

“I don’t need any of that spiritual stuff. I’ll make my own. I’ll be a Quasar worshipper.”

A future wired in synthetics cannot be so bad after all. It’s just another expression of life.