Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is coming upon us… and it’s here to stay.

Major tech companies have been improving upon designing algorithms called artificial neural networks which simulate how the human brain interprets swaths of unstructured data or meaningless information, and produces structured or meaningful or novel information.

I will be writing more about this in the future. I want to transition into the industry, and work with a company spearheading this technology and implementing it across industries, specifically using big data

The leading artificial intelligent products are IBM’s Watson, Google’s DeepMind, and Digital Reasoning’s Synthesys.

I’ve bought several books on artificial intelligence and the artificial neural networks they’ve created to perform machine learning and cognitive computing.

I will outline my new insights, and work through my understanding in consequent posts.

I’ve been working in the field of industrial automation for the past 4.5 years, which is mostly the hardware side of things, but I want to learn more about the IT, the software side of automation.

More to follow.

The Coming Collapse of the House of Cards: Tech, Education, Health

I just read the article titled Disruptions: With No Revenue, an Illusion of Value that discusses the overvaluation of tech companies. 

This article is so intuitive, yet so refreshing. It’s incredible that people aren’t discussing another eminent collapse.

Let’s talk about money and value.

Money represents a denominated value; it represents purchasing power. What does it mean to be worth something? It must possess utility, and that utility must be great enough, must possess enough value, that you would be willing to trade something else you value equally for it.  But what if the value of what money is representing is actually valueless?  What happens when the value attached to the dollar don’t reflect the value attached to the object? What happens when the dollar is worth significantly more than the object? You simply won’t exchange your money for the object, and suddenly it’s value decreases and disappears.

What if someone told you that a company was worth a billion dollars, but you actually believed it was worth nothing? I think of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Groupon. How do these companies generate revenues?  How much value are people willing to give up to use these services?

The problem is speculative valuation. The question of whether these tech companies will actually deliver the advertising dollars is still out. A valuation is only as good as its assumptions. Valuations based on discounted cash flows rest on some limited tentative assumptions, specifically: basing projections that the past will be like the future, variable discretionary capital expenditures, as well as the uncertainty of discount rates and growth rates. What if the market suddenly decides that companies like Instagram are no longer “cool” and stop using the product? What’s going to happen to that billion dollar valuation?

The tech industry is experiencing a speculative bubble, similar to the one witnessed preceding the real estate bust and the resulting financial crisis. What is the real value of information technology? I know it increases efficiency, it provides us with superficial pleasure as we peruse the internet, look at Facebook pictures, and the like, but what happens when we no longer derive value from these things? What happens when suddenly Instagram is no longer cool? The value will disappear along with everyone’s money.

I also believe that the education system, specifically higher education, is experiencing a boom and will eventually bust. What is the real value of going to college? You accrue massive debt that you can’t ever escape, your income is increased marginally, and there’s no guarantee you’ll get a job. What happens when people simply decide that the price tag isn’t worth it, they don’t want the loans, they don’t think college is worth it? The value disappears.

What other industries are suddenly thriving? Health care? Is health care an over valued industry?

As this article mentions, and I believe and have said for a long time, that our economy’s worth is built on distorted valuations. The financial industry is over 21% of our economy. That’s right: twenty-one percent. What value are they actually producing? Financialization leads to decreased real asset investment, so I argue they produce no value. Instead, financialization increases speculation, risky investment, decreases private savings, and increases debt, among other things.

Our economy is a house of cards. Where is the real value?  What things possess real utility? When shit hits the fan and people have no more money, no more surplus income, no more savings: what will they be spending their money on? What good or services will people include to satisfy their necessary consumption for sustenance?  Will people prefer to spend their money on services or goods? I suspect real-asset goods. Is technology a good or service? It is intellectual capital, but does it possess any tangible value? No.  If people are broke, you think they’ll spend money to use Instagram? I bet not. And what if Instagram decided to use advertising? And what if those people are so broke that they don’t buy what they advertiser is offering? Why would a company advertise with Instagram, or Twitter, or Facebook, or similar companies?

Service industries are the result of past increases in productivity that lead to equal distributions of rising income which created a larger middle class; this middle class created a demand for services that were previously only available to the upper class; but as income distribution widens and wealth accumulates at the top while everyone else gets poorer, people will not be able to afford services. They won’t spend money on luxury goods. They won’t go out for dinner as much anymore.

But this will only occur when people can no longer borrow on credit. At present, debt is solely responsible for our sustained domestic demand and aggregate output over the years. Financial liberalization (cheaper borrowing through regulation) has allowed consumption to remain relatively stable as real wages stagnanted and inflation rose.

Only when lenders can no longer extend credit will our country experience massive stagflation (high inflation, high unemployment), eventually leading to a massive economic collapse.  We may be witnessing the beginning of such a stagflationary period.

How can someone prepare for a bubble collapse? Where should they invest their money? Commodities? How can someone bet against the market? Which goods will be in higher demand as incomes continue to drop and inequality worsens?

I’ll be posting a massive paper on inequality within the next few days and I’ll elaborate in depth on how  inefficiencies within various channels lead to economic inequalities that reduce socioeconomic equity and decrease economic growth.

Transcendent Kurzweil

“The irony of man’s condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation; but it is life itself which awakens it, and so we must shrink from being fully alive.”
―Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death

Raymond Kurzweil is an author, inventor, entrepreneur, futurist, and the founder of Singularity University, as well as the prophetic figure who preaches the salvation of technology through singularity, where technology explodes at an exponential rate and mind and machine become an indistinguishable unity. He is also the creative protagonist in the film Transcendent Man which documents the personality of one of histories most sophisticated minds.

From an early age Kurzweil was a precocious youth who undertook projects inventing various machines and contraptions with whatever he could pull together. His father was a hardworking, financially strapped composer who actively supported and encouraged his son’s creative pursuits in every way he could. At seventeen Ray built a computer that composed music and in 1965 he gained his first national exposure when he was invited on a CBS game show to showcase his invention. Shortly thereafter he invented a computer that matched and selected colleges that were best suited for a student given their academic data and preferences. Upon graduation he attended MIT, studying Computer Science and Literature, and went on to start several companies during his undergraduate years that would produce original breakthroughs in flat-bed scanning and electronic acoustic synthesizing technology.

Kurzweil pioneered many advancements in the areas of computing technology, specifically in the areas of transcription software, optical character recognition, music machines and synthesizers, and artificial intelligence. He is the award winning author of many books on trans-humanism, singularity, and artificial intelligence. As a futurist he has developed a cult following due to his uncanny ability to predict historical events and technological advancements to the year, forecasting the fall of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the Soviet Union, and foretelling the date of technological breakthroughs, such as when a computer would beat a human grand chess master, or describe the Internet phenomena and its explosive social integration many years and decades beforehand. This ability served to strengthen his persona as a clairvoyant leader of a technological future growing increasingly uncertain.

A recent prediction of Kurzweil that is slowly unfolding into fruition is the human synthesis of genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics into everyday living. He asserts that we will eventually merge man and machine, technology and thought, so as to enhance our capabilities and intelligence. Ultimately Ray Kurzweil has a not so hidden motive behind all his work and theories. His aim, he says, is to transcend death, to live forever. According to him this will be achieved in our lifetime in the very near future. Eventually, when singularity is reached and technological breakthrough arrives at an event horizon of infinite upward intelligent potential, artificial intelligence will allow us the capability of beating the odds of death. Even more incredible is that Kurzweil believes we’ll even be able to resurrect the dead through the information contained in memories and data. Many contend that he’s a crackpot, or that even if his singularity prediction is true, artificial intelligence, being infinitely intelligent, would usurp power and control and dominate mankind, similar to the way humans deal with insects, in what contemporary AI researches deem as the Artilect war, or artificial intellect war.

What is initially curious about Ray’s obsession with transcending death is compounded to just plain weird when he begins speaking about his father who unexpectedly died from a heart attack. It seems that Ray’s fascination with conquering death and resurrecting the dead originates out of the painful loss he suffered when his father passed away. Since then he has collected and stored, some may say horded, every scribble, bill, and manuscript left by his father with the professed hope of digitizing it one day in order to reanimate his father.

Notions like this are certainly wild. Just as wild as his daily regimen of 200 supplement pills that he consumes to “reprogram the biochemistry” of his body in order to reverse the effects of aging and grow young again. Despite his quirky eccentricity, his advancements have allowed the blind to listen to visual text, libraries to digitally transcribe and immortalize volumes of text, musicians to create music and synthesize acoustics, in addition to founding dozens of multimillion dollar companies from technology to health and wellness. His achievements and ideas have gained him worldwide notoriety and recognition, winning dozens of honoree doctorates and awards, most notably the National Medal of Technology, the highest medal awarded by the president, and the National Inventors Hall of Fame. His acclaim and contributions are undisputed. Even his ability for predictions, of which 89 out of 108 came true, serve to bolster his credibility and make even his wildest ideas appear taste worthy.

To understand and tolerate his futuristic and often fantastical visions of the coming world, you must gain a glimpse into his inner mind and how he thinks. To begin, Ray Kurzweil is a mathematical prodigy by most accounts, giving him a rare ability to calculate complex abstractions, conceiving and building technology in his mind before it is even feasible of producing that vision into reality. Many of Ray’s current technologies were produced this way, far in advance, long before the technology was invented. He describes his creative process as dreaming himself years into the future, imagining himself interacting with the technology, describing its use and functions to an audience at a conference, detailing all the problems they must have solved and hurdles they must have overcome to produce it, eventually working back until the entire piece of technology has been reverse engineered in his mind. He recalls that when he sets out to create or invent he allows himself to fantasize or dream about it and that he’ll frame the problem in his mind before he sleeps and will frequently wake up with the solution in mind. He stresses that it is a process however, not simply a light bulb flicking on, and requires actively seeking the solution in mind.

Kurzweil points out that the nature of his creative work in the realm of technology doesn’t provide him so much opportunity for solitary creativity. Because technology is often the synthesis of many specialized disciplines, ranging from linguistics to mechanical engineering to computers, he is required to facilitate creative collaboration among groups of specialists despite their disparate vocabularies in order to accomplish a common, creative task. While flow can be a challenge to achieve for individuals, he says it poses an even greater difficulty for groups managing different perspectives and values. However, ensuring that everyone is equally invested and on the same page with mutual interest, collaboration yields a diversity of perspective and greater magnitude of thought, yielding invaluable results.

True to his American values, Kurzweil believes that the US is a leader because of its ability to see new frontiers, reward risk and generate new knowledge which, given the emergence of the information age, he says is becoming the new capital currency. Risk is a necessary component of success. For Ray, failure is apart of risk, but failure is simply success deferred.

While Kurzweil and his ideas have been warmly received by the public, in large thanks to his life changing technologies and paradigm shifting predictions, he is not without critics. Despite his large, almost cult following of technologists and scientists, many skeptics believe his predictive powers are over inflated, that anyone could equally observe the basis for his predictions provided they had access to the same technological information being developed at the time of his claims, while others posit that, given the observed trajectory of past trends, such predictions were bound to occur and not so much a surprise as many people would believe. Rather than debating whether the event of singularity will occur, most critics challenge the date Kirzweil believes it will take place, as well as the nature and magnitude of the “event horizon”. More numerous are those that challenge his ideas regarding transcending death via the integration of man and machine. Many highly regarded contemporaries draw a line in the proverbial sand and fault Kurzweil for over reaching his domain of expertise into the realm of biology where they say he has little understanding of the delicate balance of biological organisms designed over millions of years by the hand of evolution. Whatever the criticisms may be, Kurzweil has produced an indelible mark on science and progress with his technology from which everyone has directly or indirectly benefited, and his appreciation is continually recognized year after year.

The narrative of Kurzweil being portrayed in Transcendent Man communicates a misunderstood genius who carries with him the suffering of paternal loss as a haunting reminder of his own frailty and death. It paints his character as one of wild optimism and hope that technology, with the aid of his hand, will deliver him from this suffering by simultaneously preventing his death and finally resurrecting the memory of his father. His work appears to revolve almost exclusively around integrating his envisioned prosthetic technologies seamlessly into the human life as a means of overcoming physical constraint or existential finitude.

When viewed in this light, his creative activities and life accomplishments, while awe inspiring, seem to be vain desperate attempts to manipulate the hand of god and alter fate. Interspersed between his articulate monologues, fervent speeches, and the various technologies of his being surveyed there remains a portrait of a hollow man emptied of heart, preoccupied with the past, longing for his father, and pining for the future of technology to arrive before death does. His crisis is internal but always subsuming beneath his genial intimations. His father’s death acts as a reminder of his frailty and forces the confrontation of his metaphysical identity in the face of annihilation. In an act of defiance, Kurzweil renounces both in a creative expression of vision and technology that wills the formation of a new identity, free from death, and a new world, free from loss. In this way we can see how his creative pursuits manifest this struggle to establish a new nomos in which he is the author and architect who writes the rules of fate.

Multitasking State of Mind: Technology and its Effects

A journal response/rant to an essay by Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson titled Multitasking State of Mind

I agree with Simpson. These are not new thoughts. I feel more disconnected with the world now more than ever. I feel like a puppet master that articulates gestures to the world through mediums apart from me. I can tweak these gestures and reveal carefully chosen facades to the world.

I am exhausted, no doubt about it. I come to class in a stupor. My mind is in distant lands. It’s not whole, that’s for sure. When I say whole, I’m referring to a mind that’s all together at one place at a time. Instead my thoughts drift in all sorts of directions, leaving me spacey and unenthused. Why unenthused? My ability to conjure passion for a subject and the idiosyncrasies it possesses are virtually nonexistent. Let me tell you, it is a daily struggle to pry myself from the grips of the web. I can watch my mental state degenerate as I log in time on the computer. At the beginning of the day I find myself refreshed. I usually stay away from the net as long as possible… but once I’m there… it begins. My mind, its quiet thoughts that usually dwell on solving important priorities in my life, are off tending to random information consumed through news feeds. The news itself is usually enlightening… for a moment. Once I bring in new enlightening information it flees and usually never returns. I never have an opportunity to synthesize it, make sense of it. I’m constantly barraging myself with multisensory distractions.

The shame in all this is that I was raised in a family that shunned electronic devices. No cable TV, 30 minutes a day on the internet. When I was living at home I had to make fun. It was great. Today, and when I say today I’m referring to my life at college, I am a pathetic party pooper. I didn’t start off this way. Oh no. Upon prepping for college I was a voracious reader, pumping out four books a month the year prior to landmark. I would write in my journal for hours at a time. I was motivated and focused. I taught myself coping mechanisms that I could bring to landmark. That was before the laptop came into my life. Once this happened, and I was very conscious of it the moment it entered, I lost all self control. It was a slow loss of control at first. It came with justifying my internet and web surfing usage bit by bit. Hey, everyone’s doing it. All the cool links that fill up you inbox from your friends. I felt like I was missing out.

I remember restraining myself from using the net. Turning off the wireless function, limiting myself to ONLY school related programs and sites. Bit by bit however I found myself delving into the horrific world of instant gratification. Stimulus and reward had crept into my life. It is a horrifying realization of course. At this point I’m graduating… and I am absolutely, 100% full of CONTEMPT for technology. It has ruined my ‘chi’. It has destroyed my spiritual peace of mind. I am no longer in the present, aware, and disciplined. I have been infected by a virus that seeks only new information… whatever interests me and rewards these impulses. My mind seeks these out and grows wary in most other stimulus inquiries. I say it’s a virus because it has grown worse and worse, almost ravaging me, and now I can say I am a participant that drags other fresh untainted minds into the realm of stimulus/ information consumption.

I HAVE tried ridding myself of this virus. I have planned and allotted time for quality reading and thinking. I do journal. I do seek peace on walks and reflections on nature. But, alas, I find myself in front of the computer at the end of the day, checking emails, and there they are- more distractions, links and stimulus. I hate it. Nay, I loath it.

As some one with ADHD… I NEED control. I CRAVE it. I have accepted that I cannot necessarily control the way I learn, so I adapt and learn to control other factors. I create novel ways with learning. I choose my environments wisely. These actions offer me a control to work around myself. But nowadays, in my current state, I feel helpless. Out of control. My mind wanders to the technology and it it’s robbed and abused. The satisfaction is so temporary that it genuinely leaves me with no lasting feelings. I must feed off it.

The concentration element is another story. My concentration has been so corrupted that even my desire and goal to achieve meaningful tasks has grown into a heaping obstacle. This actually coincides with the communication aspect. Because my concentration has been so abused, my ability to initiate meaningful conversations has dwindled. How? People, unlike the web pages and images that plaster the internet landscape, have depth. This depth needs to be explored… and people do NOT readily present this information. Nope. You are required as a human to become genuinely interested and do some work at finding it. Digging it out. Communicating requires a certain level of interest where digging into that depth is achieved. In this way a connection can occur. Problem is, people don’t have links covering their body. They don’t advertise the interesting stuff. It’s buried deep within them. To get it out, you must seek, dig, and poke around. You must concentrate, use some working memory, make connections and discover them.

ALAS, people in this era have lost the patience for such an art. Book reading is the same way. Books are long, with complex plots. They require an interest and concentration that allows you to dig up and make associations. Articles on the web, short summaries, twitters, wall posts and status updates hardly required this level of thought. It goes in and just as fast as it goes it, it leaves.

So, would I agree with Simpson? Hell yes. She is on the money.

Do I think this multitasking trend is a good thing? Nope.  But I could argue the other way as well. In terms of health, absolutely not. In terms of adapting to the cultural trends, of course it’s a good thing. How would you survive in today’s fast paced, information crunching culture?!

But our minds, bodies and spirits have not evolved with these trends. We need quiet contemplation. It rocks my world this non-stop stimulation. It’s not even physically taxing. Simply mundane. It adds no REAL value to my life. Networking online with other virtually faceless profiles is an unfulfilling practice. We are only furthering a narcissistic urge to advertise our uniqueness to the populace. LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ALL THE FUN I HAVE! MY COOL QUOTES! MY AWESOME PICTURES! LOOK WHAT IT CONNOTES! DENOTES!

The truth is… it is not bringing us closer to our goals… UNLESS that goal is to flatter ourselves. Swear to God. What the hell are these networking sites for anyway? To get ourselves out to the world!?? ‘Look at me!’ we say with our profiles, ‘I am special and unique and bring value!’ The HUGE problem is, I find that most people, including myself, put MORE time into the networking aspect, than to the value they are trying to project.

How a person spends every second of their day defines who they are. If we got real with ourselves, we’d realize we spend diddly-squat time reading and doing the things we advertise as our passions when we COMPARE the time we spend on technology. Compare the time people spend leisurely listening on their IPODS to music to actually making music. Or the people who browse art ALL day long on the internet, but how many hours a day do they spend painting? COUNTLESS other examples…

I can’t imagine all the damage we’re doing to ourselves.

In the end its all about perspective. I’m not really convinced this technology revolution will aid in the overall health of those involved. I believe in simplicity. Mathematics, physics, and all other great sciences, depend on simplicity. I believe, in our life, we need it. A life with focus is a life with direction. What focus can people say they have? Perhaps this whole trend of multitasking is a focus itself…

********

(I wrote this personal journal entry in January as a natural response to my own ruminations about the effects of the internet:

I’ve been wrestling lately. With thoughts. I’m wondering if the Internet is a bad or good thing. Most of my free time is spent reading blogs, e-mailing, watching videos, reading the news, checking updates or just plain surfing. I find that traditional reading has become more of a chore than it used to be.

It’s sad to think that’d I’d prefer to e-mail or message someone instead of call them on the phone. Catching up is done online. Catching up and conversing over a cup of coffee is almost unnecessary. I almost need something to do, like an activity or event to make our time a worthwhile experience. It seems like a waste of time when it’s all been said. After all the updates are read and all the blogs are perused, what else is there?

This is not a new thought or debate by any means. I feel that as much as this technology has made it easier and brought us together, I feel that we’re grown more alienated and impersonal than ever before. Even now I express these thoughts electronically, publicly.

I have a hard time remembering when certain people really knew me. When our relationship was something special and unique. That only a handful of people had the opportunity of knowing my day to day thoughts. I’ve become so transparent I feel lost. Where is the fidelity of a deep friendship?

Maybe this is a temporary feeling. I don’t know. I suppose I’m speaking to a very niche crowd. I know there are many nonconformists who live free of the networking hassle.

**********

Multitasking State of Mind: Technology and its affects

A journal response/rant to an essay by Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson titled Multitaskinbg State of Mind

I agree with Simpson. These are not new thoughts. I feel more disconnected with the world now more than ever. I feel like a puppet master that articulates gestures to the world through mediums apart from me. I can tweak these gestures and reveal carefully chosen facades to the world.

I am exhausted, no doubt about it. I come to class in a stupor. My mind is in distant lands. It’s not whole, that’s for sure. When I say whole, I’m referring to a mind that’s all together at one place at a time. Instead my thoughts drift in all sorts of directions, leaving me spacey and unenthused. Why unenthused? My ability to conjure passion for a subject and the idiosyncrasies it posses are virtually nonexistent. Let me tell you, it is a daily struggle to pry myself from the grips of the web. I can watch my mental state degenerate as I log in time on the computer. At the beginning of the day I find myself refreshed. I usually stay away from the net as long as possible… but once I’m there… it begins. My mind, its quiet thoughts that usually dwell on solving important priorities in my life, are off tending to random information consumed through news feeds. The news itself is usually enlightening… for a moment. Once I bring in new enlightening information it flees and usually never returns. I never have an opportunity to synthesize it, make sense of it. I’m constantly barraging myself with multisensory distractions.

The shame in all this is that I was raised in a family that shunned electronic devices. No cable TV, 30 minutes a day on the internet. When I was living at home I had to make fun. It was great. Today, and when I say today I’m referring to my life at college, I am a pathetic party pooper. I didn’t start off this way. Oh no. Upon prepping for college I was a voracious reader, pumping out four books a month the year prior to landmark. I would write in my journal for hours at a time. I was motivated and focused. I taught myself coping mechanisms that I could bring to landmark. That was before the laptop came into my life. Once this happened, and I was very conscious of it the moment it entered, I lost all self control. It was a slow loss of control at first. It came with justifying my internet and web surfing usage bit by bit. Hey, everyone’s doing it. All the cool links that fill up you inbox from your friends. I felt like I was missing out.

I remember restraining myself from using the net. Turning off the wireless function, limiting myself to ONLY school related programs and sites. Bit by bit however I found myself delving into the horrific world of instant gratification. Stimulus and reward had crept into my life. It is a horrifying realization of course. At this point I’m graduating… and I am absolutely, 100% full of CONTEMPT for technology. It has ruined my ‘chi’. It has destroyed my spiritual peace of mind. I am no longer in the present, aware, and disciplined. I have been infected by a virus that seeks only new information… whatever interests me and rewards these impulses. My mind seeks these out and grows wary in most other stimulus inquiries. I say it’s a virus because it has grown worse and worse, almost ravaging me, and now I can say I am a participant that drags other fresh untainted minds into the realm of stimulus/ information consumption.

I HAVE tried ridding myself of this virus. I have planned and allotted time for quality reading and thinking. I do journal. I do seek peace on walks and reflections on nature. But, alas, I find myself in front of the computer at the end of the day, checking emails, and there they are- more distractions, links and stimulus. I hate it. Nay, I loath it.

As some one with ADHD… I NEED control. I CRAVE it. I have accepted that I cannot necessarily control the way I learn, so I adapt and learn to control other factors. I create novel ways with learning. I choose my environments wisely. These actions offer me a control to work around myself. But nowadays, in my current state, I feel helpless. Out of control. My mind wanders to the technology and it it’s robbed and abused. The satisfaction is so temporary that it genuinely leaves me with no lasting feelings. I must feed off it.

The concentration element is another story. My concentration has been so corrupted that even my desire and goal to achieve meaningful tasks has grown into a heaping obstacle. This actually coincides with the communication aspect. Because my concentration has been so abused, my ability to initiate meaningful conversations has dwindled. How? People, unlike the web pages and images that plaster the internet landscape, have depth. This depth needs to be explored… and people do NOT readily present this information. Nope. You are required as a human people, to become genuinely interested and do some work at finding it. Digging it out. Communicating requires a certain level of interest where digging into that depth is achieved. In this way a connection can occur. Problem is, people don’t have links covering their body. They don’t advertise the interesting stuff. It’s buried deep within them. To get it out, you must seek, dig, and poke around. You must concentrate, use some working memory, make connections and discover them.

ALAS, people in this era have lost the patience for such an art. Book reading is the same way. Books are long, with complex plots. They require an interest and concentration that allows you to dig up and make associations. Articles on the web, short summaries, twitters, wall posts and status updates hardly required this level of though. It goes in and just as fast as it goes it, it leaves.

So, would I agree with Simpson? Hell yes. She is on the money.

Do I think this multitasking trend is a good thing? Nope.  But I could argue the other way as well. In terms of health, absolutely not. In terms of adapting to the cultural trends, of course it’s a good thing. How would you survive in today’s fast paced, information crunching culture?!

But our minds, bodies and spirits have not evolved with these trends. We need quiet contemplation. It rocks my world this non-stop stimulation. It’s not even physically taxing. Simply mundane. It adds no REAL value to my life. Networking online with other virtually faceless profiles is an unfulfilling practice. We are only furthering a narcissistic urge to advertise our uniqueness to the populace. LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ALL THE FUN I HAVE! MY COOL QUOTES! MY AWESOME PICTURES! LOOK WHAT IT CONNOTES! DENOTES!

The truth is… it is not bringing us closer to our goals… UNLESS that goal is to flatter ourselves. Swear to God. What the hell are these networking sites for anyway? To get ourselves out to the world!?? ‘Look at me!’ we say with our profiles, ‘I am special and unique and bring value!’ The HUGE problem is, I find that most people, including myself, put MORE time into the networking aspect, than to the value they are trying to project.

How a person spends every second of their day defines who they are. If we got real with ourselves, we’d realize we spend diddly-squat time reading and doing the things we advertise as our passions when we COMPARE the time we spend on technology. Compare the time people spend leisurely listening on their IPODS to music to actually making music. Or the people who browse art ALL day long on the internet, but how many hours a day do they spend painting? COUNTLESS other examples…

I can’t imagine all the damage we’re doing to ourselves.

In the end its all about perspective. I’m not really convinced this technology revolution will aid in the overall health of those involved. I believe in simplicity. Mathematics, physics, and all other great sciences, depend on simplicity. I believe, in our life, we need it. A life with focus is a life with direction. What focus can people say they have? Perhaps this whole trend of multitasking is a focus itself…

********

(I wrote this personal journal entry in January as a natural response to my own ruminations about the effects of the internet:

I’ve been wrestling lately. With thoughts. I’m wondering if the Internet is a bad or good thing. Most of my free time is spent reading blogs, e-mailing, watching videos, reading the news, checking updates or just plain surfing. I find that traditional reading has become more of a chore than it used to be.

It’s sad to think that’d I’d prefer to e-mail or message someone instead of call them on the phone. Catching up is done online. Catching up and conversing over a cup of coffee is almost unnecessary. I almost need something to do, like an activity or event to make our time a worthwhile experience. It seems like a waste of time when it’s all been said. After all the updates are read and all the blogs are perused, what else is there?

This is not a new thought or debate by any means. I feel that as much as this technology has made it easier and brought us together, I feel that we’re grown more alienated and impersonal than ever before. Even now I express these thoughts electronically, publicly.

I have a hard time remembering when certain people really knew me. When our relationship was something special and unique. That only a handful of people had the opportunity of knowing my day to day thoughts. I’ve become so transparent I feel lost. Where is the fidelity of a deep friendship?

Maybe this is a temporary feeling. I don’t know. I suppose I’m speaking to a very niche crowd. I know there are many nonconformists who live free of the networking hassle.

 

**********