I think the way we use technology today will be looked back on the same way we look back at naive cigarette smoking in the 1950s.
Modern app design isn't about creating things that are good for the user, but about creating want in the user. This is a problem.
For example, there are several studies showing that using Facebook in general makes people less happy. User happiness just happens to not be be necessary for Facebook to be a successful business.
Go to a developer conference by one of the big tech companies, and speakers generally aren't talking about doing good things for the user. They'll use euphemisms like "increasing engagement". There's concepts like "permission priming", psychological tricks to get the user to do what you want. There's books written about how to maximize app addictiveness. It's stuff that mildly screws over the user, and it guides the product designs that affect the lives of billions of people. It's not good.
After the planet has warmed beyond a point of no return, after antibiotic resistant bacteria make routine surgery a life-or-death decision, after we have squandered away our resources and used what little we had left to wage futile wars, we will find ourselves looking back at these Bernaysian psychological tricks of mass consumerism...and I wonder if we will use the same excuse then as we do today:
"But it was good for GDP!"
"Yes, the planet was destroyed. But for a beautiful moment in time we created a lot of value for shareholders."
The demise of antibiotics is much overwrought. It won't happen, since researchers have basically solved the problem of cost-effectively finding an unlimited supply of new ones.
In general people like seeing doom everywhere. To the extent this motivates some of them to do something about it, this is probably good. But it is very irritating when the doomsayers don't adjust their doomsaying based upon current scientific work.
I love this line. It's like somebody just submitted doomsaying homework, and you are not taking issue with their premise per se, but taking off points for the sources they used.
Then I started dating a hydrogeologist. As luck would have it, her very MS thesis was on fracking. She dispelled rumors left and right: "fracking causes earthquakes!" - actually it's poorly built injection wells and wastewater storage that causes earthquakes; "fracking injects radioactives and other poisons into our groundwater!" - nope, the fluid itself is relatively benign (except for a single phase of high-concentration HF/HCL) and the radioactives are actually pumped UP from the crust, not the other way around. And as much as we hippies like to believe - the 60s/70s never really ended in Ithaca - our town is powered by dirty, dirty coal, not magical fairy dust; natural gas would hugely reduce our CO2 emissions.
Point is, it's fair to be scared. Improper fracking CAN cause earthquakes, it CAN poison groundwater, but it is very obvious where and how it happens, and it can be regulated and prevented.
The only real problems arise when people refuse to reconsider their opinions in the face of facts.
In your mind fracking is separate from building injection wells and wastewater storage? All of your examples are the reasons why fracking is dangerous. Just because people get confused about whats being pumped in, doesn't make them wrong that 'radioactives' are appearing.
I think you have been duped by the power of the p . . .
EDIT: Also worth noting that there is a clear correlation between the increase of electronics/battery recycling in the West and lead poisoning cases in Kenyan children where the recycling is done. America cleaned up its sooty and smoggy cities by exporting the freedom to pollute to China and Mexico. No such thing as a free lunch.
Burning fossil fuels in perpetuity is dangerous too.
The point is, fracking can be done safe, it can be done properly. The only reason we see these hyperbolic results in places like Oklahoma is that states that tend to allow fracking just so happen to be the ones that couldn't give a rat's ass about effective and proper regulation.
We've come a long way from rope seat belts, haven't we?
So I ask: how do we provide energy to a rapidly growing global population without surging carbon emissions using readily deployable technology? Renewables might work - if people stopped having kids for a while - but aside from truly revolutionary advances in energy efficiency, generation, and storage, we are left with an unfortunate but undeniable fact: we need nuke.
With the outlier of Chernobyl, nuclear energy has a very good safety record. Shoddy and dangerous Soviet engineering has a very bad safety record. The operative variable here is shoddy and dangerous Soviet engineering.
You wouldn't say that because Eastern Bloc cars would have ludicrously awful results in a crash test, therefore it's unsafe to travel by car. You wouldn't say that the safety record of the Ilyushin Il-62 proves all passenger planes are unsafe. You wouldn't say the combat record of the T-72 means the Army should immediately retire that useless deathtrap M1 Abrams.
There are inherent dangers to nuclear power, as with cars, passenger planes and combat vehicles. However, these dangers are all well-understood and easily mitigable. In the Soviet Union safety was not a priority or oftentimes even a consideration, in America it is.
Not only that, but nuclear power is not remotely even the most potentially dangerous form of power generation. That easily, easily belongs to hydropower. The Banqiao Dam disaster killed 171,000 people.
But I'm not worried about hydropower and neither should you, if you live in the first world. Dams are, inherently, incredibly dangerous. But we understand the dangers, and we know how to make dams so that the danger is reduced to near-zero. That a dam built in Mao-era China was unsafe doesn't mean that it's impossible to make a safe dam.
If people weren't so terrified of nuclear energy by movies like Silkwood or TV shows like The Simpsons they might actually look past their own emotional hinderances and do some trivial comparisons, like, say, the extraction-to-power-generation death rates of nuclear energy versus coal and oil (not to mention air pollution) of the last 50 years and come to a simple conclusion: nuclear energy is perfectly safe if you do it right.
These media strongly questioned those institutions based on stories of cases in which they seem to have failed.
If operators of nuclear power plants manage to reduce the effectiveness and autonomy of the institutions that are working to guarantee safety, the situation gets more like the Soviet Union. One way of thinking about this is that the most useful lesson of the 1970s anxiety about the nuclear industry is less "nuclear power is dangerous!" and more "how effective and independent are our institutions, and how do we know?".
Fukushima is another example showing that fission power is dangerous and expensive - because of the safety precautions, insurance, disaster recovery and cleanup costs, and worse it shifts those costs and dangers from the power plant to the host country and surrounding countries. It's far more expensive in those terms than most other ways of generating power save coal (which has worse problems), maybe it should be part of the mix but only if there are no simpler alternatives like hydro, wind, wave and solar.
Fusion will be far better when we work out how to contain it. It's amazing to think of the progress we could make if energy was almost free.
Prior to the Fukushima disaster, how many proponents of nuclear power considered it to be an example of a nuclear plant that was too dangerous to operate, and how many treated it as an example of modern, safe nuclear power and dismissed criticism as anti-nuclear fearmongering?
There is plenty of energy out there. Recent advances in solar and wind technology make it within reach.
Nuclear is simply not an economical solution.
Waste storage? Same story. We have plenty of useless desert in the US, but people don't want to be anywhere remotely near them.
Recent advances in solar and wind technology might make it within reach...if we were dealing with 1-2 billion people, not close to 10 billion people in our lifetimes. All of these people want to live like we do: they want to eat meat, they want light at the flick of a switch, they want heat at the turn of a dial. Assuming prices will go down and efficiency will go up to match skyrocketing demand is greatly misguided.
Not to mention, extracting and refining the rare earths necessary for a lot of these devices is unfathomably ruinous to the environment, and recycling is just as bad (see my other comment about lead poisoning in Kenyan kids).
You have brought up 2 political problems and 1 technological fantasy. Nothing about economics. Nuclear is fine.
More concerning would be the chemical toxicity hazard, but that is void because nuclear waste is vitrified (turned in to glass), which makes it extremely chemically inert.
Then there's the possibility of recycling the spent fuel (waste?) in fast spectrum reactors, if we can work out how to do that reliably / economically.
I'm not sure what you're saying here? How does being waste make it radioactive?
If it still contains valuable energy it isn't waste. By virtue of the fact that nobody wants it I'm assuming that energy can't be extracted economically at this time?
"By the end of this year, cumulative global installed solar photovoltaic capacity will surpass 310 GW, compared with just 40 GW at the end of 2010"
Which of those looks like it's producing the futures capacity?
It seems like you haven't done the math. I have. You're ridiculously wrong.
US marketed energy consumption per capita is 9.5 kW (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_energy_co...). That's 9.5 square meters of sunlight. If we pessimistically assume that we can only site solar panels on land (29% of Earth's surface) and only 10% of that, and that we're only using the currently common 16%-efficient polysilicon photovoltaic panels (rather than, say, solar thermal collectors or multijunction cells), then we receive enough solar energy for 60 billion people at current US levels of consumption, according to units(1):
You have: circlearea(earthradius) * 1000 W/m^2 * 29% * 10% * 16% / 9.5 kW
You want: billion
Is it too costly? Currently, photovoltaic modules cost about US$0.50 per watt (see http://www.solarserver.com/service/pvx-spot-market-price-ind...), so, for everyone to consume as much marketed energy as USAns, we're talking about an investment of about US$4800 per person, or about US$160 per person per year, assuming a 30-year lifespan for the panels, even if costs didn't drop further. That's only about 1.6% of the nominal world GDP of about US$10k per year per person (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nomi...).
And that's just solar photovoltaic. EGS (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enhanced_geothermal_system) and oceanic lithium (see https://www.withouthotair.com/c24/page_172.shtml) are two other energy resources of similar magnitude to solar photovoltaic, but they're being developed more slowly — photovoltaic is practical today.
Your comment would have been reasonable ten years ago, when solar PV was still expensive. The facts have changed. When the facts change, I change my opinion. When are you going to change yours?
- US$24000 of panels per person, or
- US$800 per person per year, assuming 30-year lifespan, which is
- 8% of nominal world GDP of US$10k per year per person.
Worse, though, is that this reduces the carrying capacity calculation to some 12 billion, which is a number we might actually reach, although not soon. We're projected to reach 10 billion in 2083 by the UNFPA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_growth
What's actually going to happen, though, is that PV prices will start dropping again; the majority of marketed energy consumption will be from photovoltaic cells starting sometime in the 2020s; energy prices will drop well below where they are now; we'll increase our per capita marketed energy consumption far above current rich-world usage, but much of that will be thermal, not electrical; and we'll use a lot more than 10% of the land area for solar energy gathering.
We don't have to do it differently in the future ("this time"), we just need to do it marginally better over time. Every new power plant built, whether goal or gas or nuclear, or solar / wind, is marginally better than the previous design because of what we've learned.
You could replace "Nuclear power" with quite a lot of things we do these days. Such as "Driving" or "Home construction".
Nuclear is safe, affordable and the only alternative to non-renewables that doesn't require us to drastically reduce our energy usage. Because realistically, we all know that's just not going to happen.
Not to mention, throughout the 20th century, we in the first world reaped the benefits of readily available energy to drastically boost our living conditions. To deny that benefit to developing countries by restricting them to wind solar and hydro would be immoral.
I live here and this is the first I'm hearing of it.
250 B gallons in, 210 B gallons out. So net-net 40B gallons for the entire industry between 2005 and 2014. Call it 40,000 swimming pools worth.
The "out" is completely treatable.
"Large though those numbers seem, the study calculates that the water used in fracking makes up less than 1 percent of total industrial water use nationwide." - FTA.
"Gasland" is a bad movie.
Now, in some places, the available water is sufficiently short that it probably should not be used for industrial use at all.
But your fact is just another one's opinion. We have had ample examples in the last fifty years where "science" has been abused with a for-profit motive (tobacco and nutrition are useful examples, as is this article).
It's not fair to blame "hippies" for ignoring "science", unless you're also willing to blame media, politics and business alike for overstating the "certainty" of scientific knowledge.
Yes, the media, politicians and so on has a tendency to proclaim falsehoods as facts - nutrition advice and policy being a great example - but our legal system requires a modicum of intent to assign liability, just as society accepts that requirement for blame. (Blah blah criminal negligence other exceptions I fucking hate how defensively I have to write on the internet these days just to get a point across without leaving a tiny detail open for someone to slam for karma).
>But your fact is just another one's opinion.
That is a very dangerous perspective. Our understanding of the universe is always changing. But eschewing accepted science without a compelling alternative because it could be wrong is a path to nowhere but President Trump.
Well. To be fair, it's a path also to President Hillary. Or President Cruz. Or President Sanders. It seems our politics is rife with science-ignorance and science-ignoring. I don't think it's particularly constructive to call out Trump as being different.
Everywhere I've seen fracking it's been almost completely unregulated. The US MMS (Minerals Management) has been called a "culture of corruption" by whistleblowers: http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/10/14/oil.whistleblower/index.htm...
What makes you think fracking would be regulated in any reasonable manner, given our current bought and paid for government?
Not to mention, the kinds of folks that tend to "buy and pay for" our government live and work in the tri-state area. Don't expect them to risk their health and property values anytime soon.
Equating fracking risk with poor regulation is like assuming moneyed resistance to fracking in NY will work everywhere.
Don't let the boogeyman scare you away from cold, hard, scientific fact: hydraulic fracturing, when done properly, is safe and cost-effective. The regulatory culture surrounding it has a huge effect - nobody's denying that - but the real risks are not scientific or engineering: they're political.
Since the film "Gasland", all manner of untrue things are flung at fracking. IMO, a grain of salt is in order.
The stuff down the hole is much more dangerous than the fracking process - there is (maybe) HS gas, possibly radioisotopes, pressure, other stuff. Fracking is simply a part of the completion process of drilling.
Then, you're saying that fracking doesn't have to cause these problems, but the fact is that it has. So, it's the fracking industry itself that has given fracking a bad name.
In general, it sounds like industry PR and misdirection.
...if you drive very fast and don't wear a seatbelt?
As I have said exhaustively (because I am getting quite tired of repeating myself), the process of fracking - which has been done hundreds of times to no ill effect - is not inherently dangerous or error-prone. No more so than deep-sea drilling (anything but Deepwater Horizon come to mind? Also, another case of underregulation leading to calamity) or nuclear energy (which is extremely safe but evokes an emotional fear response; fun fact: almost 200,000 survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings are still alive today!). It is the lack of effective regulation that results in pollution. I don't know how I'm particularly misdirected by PR given that I fully support NYS Gov. Cuomo's fracking moratorium, precisely because fracking companies don't want to deal with the very regulations that make fracking safe.
Side note: most of upstate NY's roads are pretty terrible. But just south of the border in PA - where fracking is ongoing - the roads are all new and well-built, because they are needed to truck the natural gas away safely, so everyone there has safer roads as a result. Can't just pick the pros and cons you like.
>I am getting quite tired of repeating myself
You're missing my point. You're claiming that fracking can be done safely, but I'm not arguing that in the way that you think. What I'm saying is that there are frequently externalities brought about by the manner in which the fracking industry actually operates vs how you claim they could operate. Doubtless it's cheaper for them. Maybe the problem is that fracking can be done safely, but it's just not cost-desirable or even profitable to do so. I don't know. But you can't go jumping on people's heads for acknowledging the obvious: fracking can be dangerous.
>fracking is not inherently dangerous or error-prone.
What do you mean by "inherently"? If stringent regulations are required to constrain frackers from causing massive amounts of damage, then it seems to me that it is inherently dangerous by definition. This is where you seem to be mixing things up, as with your nuclear example. None of these things are "inherently safe". They are inherently dangerous if not conducted in a carefully prescribed manner, which is why the stringent regulation you advocate is required. So, you're really saying two different things here and trying to figure out why you're not getting your point across.
Anyway, therein lies the danger that people fear: even with the required regulation, mistakes can have and have had dire consequences. It's not unreasonable for people to have concerns.
So, It just comes off as a little disingenuous to exclaim that everyone has it wrong on fracking when the current reality is that they don't.
There's no technical reason that fracking can be dangerous or has been?
There is a movie from .. 1940? titled "Tulsa" where Robert Preston's character "invents" fracking - a column of water and dynamite. It got safer :)
I'm sure there are incidents. But it's not like an incident goes without recourse. I think there's one case where a formation in Wyoming is physically entangled with the water table. That operation should never have been approved ( and yes, these things have to be approved ). After a decade of reading, that's the only remotely credible one I know of. Generally, water is at, say 400 feet and oil/gas/shale is at 10,000 feet.
Even then, while it's not easy to clean it up, it's doable.
J. Larry Nichols is a founder of and on the board of Devon Energy, one of the companies that pioneered fracking for shale. He's on record saying "show me one case where fracking caused environmental damage."
But, of course, he's not considered reliable by people interested in environmentalism, usually. And I haven't found a demonstration (other than the one) that proves him wrong yet. I'm a lot more concerned that oil in general will get the USA v. RJR treatment which sets off some sort of scarcity cascade that could destabilize the Third World.
IMO, gas at the pump ougtha be $10 a gallon and $5 of that should go to alts research but I doubt that's possible.
IMO, and this is also just IMO, the whole thing is a proxy for AGW fear because nat. gas is a bridge technology while we wait for Elon Musk to save us from fossil fuels. But that's psychlogizing, really.
Fracking is a pretty high-energy activity. But most of the fuss seems at least to be mostly confirmation bias by both sides.
Otherwise, you make a great point.
Your claim on the other hand is just an opinion at this point as I have seen nothing that indicates low oil prices lead to worse practices and procedures among domestic fracking firms.
It doesn't matter that it CAN be done safely. No one in their right minds trusts either the companies or the government not to eventually cut corners and make severe mistakes.
This is why, post-Deepwater, BP wasn't allowed into the club of Gulf producers pooling mutual aid and research efforts toward safer deepwater drilling. Everyone knew they were reckless.
Had Deepwater Horizon been a Shell or Exxon operation, there never would have been a crisis.
On the other hand it's hard to get responsible regulation when the dispute is so polarized. Unbiased information can be harder to find. You get one extreme or the other. So a delay doesn't seem so bad.
Well that's not true, they have no palatable solutions or actionable items. No new toy to buy that will fix things, no low effort/high status ritual to perform. Just a bunch of changes that involve sacrifice on our parts, and involve organizing large groups of people and trying to get them to plan for the future and then act in accordance with this plan. Also some of these choices will result in immediate harm to some people for the sake of future harm prevention, so these are quite easy to argue against using the inherent uncertainty of preventing future harm.
tldr; The problem with the doom sayers is that they have no solutions or actionable items that allow me to consume more things, so we say "fuck that"
I think of it as "chicken little-ism" and, as parables so often do, it illustrates that nuanced knowledge of the psychological pitfalls has been well understood for centuries.
Yet, somehow even highly educated, professional, scientists seem to be just as susceptible to its lure as the rubes who attend Donald Trump rallies, who are convinced not "the world is going to hell in a hand basket" but that e journey has been completed.
Paul Erlich could be the poster boy for this group. He's still at work, announcing doomsday scenarios to this day.
Which illustrates the cost of giving in to this psychological bias. Should we believe him this time? Wasn't there some other parable about this kind of thing, with a wolf and a young male of our species?
1) Potential: If climate change is significantly affected by human output, then we may curb or counter the current climate trends.
2) Actual: Healthier environment for life on this planet. We won't have cities like Los Angeles used to be, or Beijing is now where people can barely go outside without taking a year off their life. This is, without a doubt, a good thing unless you explicitly want poorer health to be the norm.
That money has to come from somewhere. It could be spent on healthcare, getting people clean water, etc.
To me that would be a tragedy.
Incidentally, one can imagine a parallel message of informed empowerment to address the dark sides of OP's UI "mind hijacks."
What's interesting is what those old people spend the money on. macroscopically, what matters is what money motivates people to do, who handles the money is just a means.
> Don’t get me wrong—there is certainly no case for complacency at this stage.
Oh. Okay. So unwarranted optimism is... unwarranted.
According to this PNAS  paper: "Lead pollution of “tap water” in Roman times is clearly measurable, but unlikely to have been truly harmful."
Nor do I trust certain natural additives or physical processing methods; chemical is full of unknowns, but natural can be harmful too. I try to avoid white flour and added sugar, for example, and I have my doubts about how good of an idea it was to breed all this sweetness into modern fruit...
Nature is chemicals. What you are saying is that you trust the chemical outputs of the chaotic natural environment more than the ones produces by scientists.
In that context, every lead source ends up becoming increasingly important.
Note, you would really get a differential equation with several terms, but more or less the same idea just after more time and balanced with water that overflows the field etc.
Bernays created the very first _Public Relations_ office (he made up the term because "Propaganda" was a bad word). He helped get more women smoking (torches for freedom!). I'm sure if it wasn't him and Anna, someone else would have come along and made these discoveries anyway.
Capitalism, Consumerism and Planed Obsolescence will be what brings down the current world.
I'm sure it dawned on him that it wouldn't take long until everyone was using it and there would be no discernible difference between the good or bad.
"Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely."
If our behavior renders us extinct, then we had a good run.
Thus, we turn everything that exists into what we measure as profit.
We are the indigenous people selling our lives and attention and time and land/planet for shiny trinkets without value.
I don't know if you've looked lately, but corporations do a lot of things differently than simply maximizing short terms profits now. Besides, that's mostly an artifact of mutual fund style public stock financing. In addition to going private, there is emphasis on dividends, stock buybacks, that sort of thing.
At its simplest, a thing is profitable if it can be done efficiently and people want it. That's not a bad thing.
"You show a history of reading this and that book, have watched these movies and your circle of meaningful people have influenced you thus, so we have this book on its way to you now."
It looks like it's really intelligent and offers convenience, time-savings, "efficiency". You don't even have to think of what you want, it knows already. You have an appointment in LA in 3hrs, don't forget your [whatever] and the mother of the person you are about to meet is in the hospital, take something appropriate for the occasion, we also suggest the following lamentation "...".
This kind of thing is taking the humanity out of being human. People are reduced to a basic animal framework and the machine is adding humanity for you, so you don't have to bother. In taking the "tedium" out of daily living, people are reduced to a sort of best on a pedestal.
Prior to the written word, we had to devote time and effort to passing down information through the spoken word. By offloading this task to an external device (wall, tablet, parchment, paper, book, screen), we've been able to use that time and brainpower to focus on other items, while also increasing the fidelity of our history and what we can learn from it. People lament the loss of an oral storytelling culture. It is a loss, but we've gained as well, so mathematics, literature, philosophy. We are able to build on the past in a way we weren't before.
Prior to the plow and domesticated animals to pull them, we used to have to plant manually or practice a more hunter & gatherer lifestyle. By offloading these tasks we are able to secure our future needs, and live a life less of subsistence, and more of security in our health and future. Some people lament the loss of connection to the land, the feeling of oneness with the seasons. It is a loss, but again, we've gained as well. This free time has allowed us to study what we've written, and build upon the past.
You could make a case that using these tools (and hundreds more in our history) takes the humanity out of you, and relies on the tool for it. I would make the case that using these tools is what makes you human, as without them, what's really the distinguishing feature that separates you from the apes? To me, nothing defines humanity more than the constant improvement of our race, our reach, and our capabilities.
That I carry around a small computer in my pocket that connects to a much larger network and allows me near instantaneous connection to my family, friends, coworkers, and the largest accumulation of knowledge the human race has ever seen might seem like I'm trading away what you think makes us human, but since I use this to keep in touch with friends, be more mindful of important things to them, learn about what I'm doing to be more safe, secure and healthy, and share with myriad sub-cultures, I strongly disagree.
If you're unhappy with how people treat some things as worthy of their attention and others as something they can delegate to others, that's not a technology problem, that's a problem you have with cultural norms. Culture is the original hijacker of our minds, and all we're seeing is people is people acting in a way that's slightly different than what you think is acceptable based on your culture, and fighting back against it. Not because it's inherently wrong, or worse, but because it's different, and culture resists large change.
No way. Just look at language, a tool we use for communication. It changes us radically. Listen to the RadioLab episode on on : http://www.radiolab.org/story/91725-words/.
Another example is writing. Before widespread writing and printing, many people used the 'Mind Palace' to remember things (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Method_of_loci), hijacking the place-cells in the hippocampus to vastly increase memory. With writing, that all evaporated, much to chagrin of the old monks that taught and used the technique. But then look at us now as a species.
Another example is money. The tool that is currency and a method of exchange has changed some people a lot. Greed is not a good thing. Most religions have bans on usury and intreset because of the warping effects it has on society. I may or may not agree with those bans, I mean, hey, I live better than any king from 200 years ago. Still, we are feeling those effects today in our politics after Citizens United. Money, the good tool that it is, does change people.
I'm sure others can think of many more examples. But your tools change you just as much as you use tools to change the world.
These tools change our jobs and behavior, but they don't change our core physical being much in a way that persists (evolutionary aspects of course apply), much less change philosophically what makes us "human" (in the sense of our "humanity", not homo sapiens).
Another way to look at this, what is it to reduce someone's humanity?
Still, I disagree. The tools that we use shape our souls as much as our brains. It's that repetitive daily use that mostly does this. We come to see the world and then believe things in the way we experience it, and our tools heavily shape this view.
To reduce someone's humanity is an incredibly deep question and i don't have the space here, nor the access to beer, to do it justice. However, I like that you turned the question on it's head. Most of the time we ask what it would take to make something human. The way you pose this question: "what would it take to rob a person of their humanity?" is MUCH more interesting and very provocative.
I'll definitely do so. I don't recall off-hand if I've heard that one, but I've heard a lot of them (I've been an on-and-off listener for a decade).
> Still, I disagree. The tools that we use shape our souls as much as our brains. It's that repetitive daily use that mostly does this. We come to see the world and then believe things in the way we experience it, and our tools heavily shape this view.
I don't disagree with your assertion, I just do't think the way "see the world and then believe things in the way we experience it" is actually humanity.
> To reduce someone's humanity is an incredibly deep question and i don't have the space here, nor the access to beer, to do it justice.
It is, but my use here is fairly simplistic. Basically, I think most people use "humanity" as a stand in for the values of the day. Obviously, if something is so affected by the current culture and attitude, it's can't be the defining trait of our race, can it? Thus, most of my comments here have been along the lines of both calling out what I see as a bogus definition, and proposing my own one, base don what I see as defining traits of our race. Innovation, advancement, etc.
It really is a big question, but this bit by Hannah Arendt in "The Origins of Totalitarianism" (a book I highly recommend, it's as timely as ever sadly) really struck me.. it's on page 667 in the German version, this is my crappy translation:
> Humans, in so far as they are more than a completion of functions able to react, whose lowest and therefore most central are the purely animal like reactions, are simply superfluous for totalitarian systems. Their goal is not to erect a despotic regime over humans, but a system by which humans are made superfluous. Total power can only be achieved and guaranteed when nothing else matters except the absolutely controllable willingness to react, marionettes robbed of all spontaneity. Humans, precisely because they are so powerful, can only be completely controlled when they have become examples of the animal like species human.
So I would say at least part of the answer might be: taking away the ability to act instead of just react, and the the ability to start a logical chain of thinking from new premises (which is also something she mentions, though of course in contrast with totalitarianism, which forces a certain flow of logic based on some premises set in stone; she's not writing about what it means to be human).
All you have to do is be, you no longer have to think, slowly things are done for you and decided for you -- with best intentions, of course.
We're not there yet. But we're getting there.
I'm not saying people need to maintain survivalist skills. But I think there is a danger in relinquishing your will and control to data. How will people, in the future, be able to adjust to catastrophe? I have no pocket computer, what should I do? Can I eat now? What can I eat? It's so bewildering...
It's akin to an overly protective parents who one day has to face the world on their own, it can take years for them to recalibrate and readjust to their new reality.
What happens in a catastrophe? People probably die. Depending on the scale, possibly a lot. Will everyone die? Probably not, but there are cases where it could happen. The ways to mitigate that have nothing to do with less automation of simple decisions in my mind, and possibly quite the opposite.
We'll be relegated to a state where there are a few "important people" and the rest are basically just vegged out (with a few pockets of 'natural people' here and there). People will not even notice this happen as they will slide into this state willingly and happily. Just as we slid in to a sugary diet without complaint.
It's hard to make the case for "inconvenience" in life, it's harder, it takes more energy, it's not efficient, and so on. But I think if we are to remain a useful species (not just a few useful people), we have to contrary to our inclination.
With too much automation of our social lives and relationships, many actions may simply become meaningless. Maybe they would even be done away with after a while, making human interaction colder, less personal. My app will talk with your app and setup a time to do something we enjoy, without either of us thinking of it ourselves, or discussing it. We would just have to show up, as directed by our apps. These apps remind us what we should discuss or mention, given our friends likes/dislikes. Sure we might have a great time, but the app might have prioritised meeting this friend over another, as your more compatible (measured via some series of metrics). You rely on the algorithm. Your not actually thinking about who you want to spend time with and why. Would you be able to make friends without the app?
> With too much automation of our social lives and relationships, many actions may simply become meaningless.
So we stop doing those actions. We'll find new actions, or reinterpret old ones to mean something more.
> Your not actually thinking about who you want to spend time with and why.
Then you must not care about the people involved. You devote time to what you care about. Reminders aren't going to change that.
These reminders are really just alleviating cultural busywork, which is really only needed because these cultural norms developed when we lived in much smaller communities. Rememdering birthdays and meeting in celebration of all your friends was much easier when we lived in villages of 100 people. Now we have cultural baggage from different economic developmental stages, and it creates a lot of extra work just to do what's culturally expected, as it doesn't fit the environment so many of us find ourselves in. In the end, that's just busy-work, we'll find ways to make those that matter to us know it.
It begs the question, is it worth gaining a few minutes here and there each day for the price of dependence on apps and a degree of disconnection from what makes us human?
Imagine your friend is in the hospital, but you've been busy, and haven't checked your normal sources of information about your friends for a few days. You get a suggestion to send them best wishes or flowers, because they are in the hospital. This both suggests a course of action you wouldn't have considered, because you didn't know it was a candidate as well as imparts useful high priority information that you want to know that was hidden behind a feed you classified as low priority lately.
Sure, many suggestions may be minimal and not help much, but do we always classify systems based only on their average use? Sometimes it's important to look at the distribution of use, and whether there are other positive (or negative) externalities.
This is the point. Is it worth the small gain in time, for the loss of some aspects of meaningful human connection/interaction?
This is exactly the problem. Supplementing x implies complete knowledge of what ideal x is. And what the "ideal" is nearly impossible to assess, since it require complete knowledge of future. I mean, what form of a "human being" will the most optimal through all of human existence? When you supplement without knowing the ideal, it has more chance to do harm than good.
>using these tools is what makes you human, as without them, what's really the distinguishing feature that separates you from the apes?..
Ok. But is it the only thing? What about creativity? We have language. We can create great stories and beautiful poems in them. We can look into the secrets on nature and create immensely powerful tools with that knowledge. Isn't that more of a hallmark of being a human, than mere dependency on our tools?
And is there no limit on how much we are dependent on them. Does it make sense to trade of our innate capabilities in the long term, for minor conveniences in the short?
I had a friend who could easily navigate any complex routes and had all the local routes and short cuts in his head. I respected him for that. Now he cannot find way around a supermarket without GPS. A part of him, that once I respected as a human being, is gone now.
>To me, nothing defines humanity more than the constant improvement of our race, our reach, and our capabilities.
You think our race is improving? Why? Because we have smartphones and have a massive and collective addiction to it?
>and the largest accumulation of knowledge the human race has ever seen..
It is also one of the biggest Ad/propaganda delivery channels.
Easy access to information does not make a difference is the people does not have the drive to consume it. If you give internet to 10 persons 9.5 of them will use it for social media and porn. How many of the addictive smartphone users have you seen consuming wikipedia? I have personally NEVER, not even once, seen someone reading wikipedia on a smartphone.
I wish they were better at it. For 15 years now, people have promised that relevant ads will be useful rather than annoying. So far, it seems like the pinnacle of that is to show me the last pair of shoes I looked at on Zappos every where I go.
Ad-tech seems laughably bad. Now I just run with uBlock Origin. Maybe I'll block ads for the next 15 years and see how things are looking in 2030.
Your senses are staggeringly limited and your brain is a mess when it comes to determining what is "real" or not.
We use technology to fill the gaps. That's what technology is for - to allow us "see", interact with and influence the world through discrete and explicit measurement in ways our biological systems can't.
How is that not the dream? Augmenting and eventually replacing our biological capabilities with robust, high precision systems is the ultimate goal.
Sense perception to understand reality or to seek pleasure ? When we pick the phone to play a game, is that interacting with reality or with pure imagination. Same with the round about action of liking each others or seeing what new experience you posted etc.
Sense perception can be used for survival and pleasure. In the game of evolution the latter will get phase out and former will evolve. However in short term, where there is a great economic incentive to game the "pleasure seeking senses" for creating wants and consumption, there would be short term pain and confusion in masses. The question to ask ourself is that whether i succumb to this enticement or just move and let it meet its eventual end.
Country, companies are higher order concepts that lasts over generation. This lets them experiment over many people life and adjust accordingly. But we as an individual we have limited time and space constraint. Its only our mind that can help distinguish the chaff from grain and live a meaningful life.
> Augmenting and eventually replacing our biological capabilities with robust, high precision systems is the ultimate goal.
This was also true when wheel was invented. The purpose of technology is to help in getting things done. The pleasure seeking, sensory perception is just a distraction. And for many of us, the ultimate goal is to live a better life by reducing these distractions.
I was however addressing the question of "should technology guide our existence" - and I think you agree with my emphatic response of yes but don't realize it.
And for many of us, the ultimate goal is to live a better life by reducing these distractions.
My guess is you are compartmentalizing things like social networks etc... into those "distractions." I might also, but would also place in there "hunger", "pain", "confusion" etc... the things that distract us from understanding the fundamental nature of the universe.
Our goals likely align - but on different points along the scale of time.
It should be fun to look at the data after a few weeks of logging via a free app.
I noticed it has 'Export to csv' functionality, which is convenient. But I haven't yet verified that it works.
For most people, that's bad posture deviating from a more neutral head, so isn't genetic.
Overall I'm glad I did it. I can still get on the laptop when I want to check in on people and will hopefully be less distracted at work. Looking forward to reconnecting with people in real life as opposed to virtually.
I feel like a lot of people respond to those impulses by going out of their way to make it normal—everyone has this problem—rather than deal with it before it becomes a monkey on your back. I have a lot of compassion for their predicament, but I also know that the answer is very, very simple: walk away and do something else.
On a national or international scale, we don't get to deal with what ought to be, only what is. And it increasingly looks - Facebook averages 50 minutes of use per day - like the average person either doesn't know or doesn't manage to limit their consumption of these things. Super-satiation is a real problem, is in fact most of our problems from obesity to inaccurate news to dishonest politicians. There comes a point where we have to accept that this is going to take some solution larger than personal responsibility.
But we have to ask ourselves if that's a worthwhile end goal. Perhaps a bit of detour is actually what we need.
> I'll explain it all in my next post...
By leaving it hanging your curious mind could not resist the temptation and started to fill in the blanks, and when that wasn't enough you posted a request for more. That's why the main characters never get home or never make out — it's a lot like an infinite scroll.
I think that was very much intentional.
It's a line of thought I frequently have when trying to think critically about many accepted practices in todays society.
It usually comes in the form of asking myself "Is this practice the kind society is going to laugh about in a 100 years?" or me imagining someone saying "Haha I can't believe this is what they did in 2016! Man were they dumb".
Most prominent non-tech example in these times for me is the meat industry.
The entirety of food production is insane.
We import workers from other countries to have them pick our fruit and vegetables.
We use tons of various chemicals to combat and kill all kinds of insects, birds, animals to keep them away from our crops.
We grow huge amounts of food in areas without fresh water sources
Given that we see this type of behavior in all industries (not just tech), it seems to me it's actually a systemic problem. People / organizations are incentivized universally to optimize for their own selfish interest, because they do not incur the cost of their decisions on everyone else. In this case, designing your product to maximize e.g. addictiveness or time spent per user makes sense if the downside of that is paid by the user.
I think taxing wealth / property instead of (primarily) income actually solves this problem, but that's another story...
Taxes are, to a rough analog, like the vacuum hose system within an automobile engine. (Hrm: I'm thinking that this may be a bad analogy if there aren't many auto gearheads here.)
An internal combustion engine is essentially a self-powered air pump. It has a low-pressure end (intake) and high-pressure end (exhaust). It's got various bits and pieces which need powering. Chains, shafts, and vacuum hoses bleed off some of the energy output of the engine to run systems which can't otherwise be powered. Without the vacuum system, the engine as a whole runs worse.
A vacuum leak, though, worsens performance as you're bleeding off energy and not feeding it back in where it's needed.
In the same sense, taxes modify the function of markets by rasing or lowering costs, and transferring purchasing capability elsewhere. If properly structured, they improve the function of the economy as a whole. If not, they worsen it.
The engine (wealthy) generally perceive the direct costs, but not the indirect benefits of the tax system.
Assuming that you are redistributing wealth (as you describe above), taxing wealth instead of income has a profound effect. It creates an incentive for every individual to increase the total wealth in the system, no matter who creates it, or where it's created. When you tax income, it makes no difference to you whether the income was created wealth, or merely captured.
Whatever is more expensive, you have less of.
Your question can be restated: what's your overall economic goal?
You tax to achieve that.
Allowances for that which is reasonable. Disallowances for that which is not.
The thing that should be taxed is rents, Ricardian rents as written about at length by Adam Smith.
Indeed, we may go this far: The television commercial is not at all about the character of products to be consumed. It is about the character of the consumers of products. Images of movie stars and famous athletes, of serene lakes and macho fishing trips, of elegant dinners and romantic interludes, of happy families packing their station wagons for a picnic in the country -- these tell nothing about the products being sold. But they tell everything about the fears, fancies and dreams of those who might buy them. What the advertiser needs to know is not what is right about the product but what is wrong about the buyer. And so, the balance of business expenditures shifts from product research to market research. The television commercial has oriented business away from making products of value and toward making consumers feel valuable, which means that the business of business has now become pseudo-therapy. The consumer is a patient assured by psycho-dramas.
I highly recommend the book http://www.amazon.com/Amusing-Ourselves-Death-Discourse-Busi...
Android phones become infinitely more useful with Tasker and AutoApps plugins. They let you work around the limitations of many apps, force them to talk to one another and to the underlying operating system. Sure, you can technically program Android, but the standard interface to that (Java, APKs) is so heavy and complicated that you can do whatever you need in Tasker quicker than you can create a hello world in Android Studio. Oh, and you can do this on the go, from your phone.
 - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.dinglisch....
 - http://joaoapps.com/
 - I only discovered them like few days ago, despite using Tasker for years, and I've already integrated many features from them, with clear path to using even more. They make Tasker many times more powerful than it already is. They e.g. solved my problem with creating custom commands for Google Now.
I really use apps on my phone for:
3. Messaging (mostly with one other person, but occasionally a few others)
4. looking stuff up on the web
5. Reading a bit in my downtime
6. Listening to music, podcasts or audiobooks
7. Checking the weather
I suspect most people are in the same boat, give or take a few things.
I know that Tasker can do cool stuff like activate certain apps in certain places (turning on your music in the car, for example), but I can do that to. Every time I've sat down to figure out tasker program I realize that the 30 minutes I'm going to spend messing with it will save me about 5 seconds.
So I'd like to know what I'm missing.
This means that people close to me can get in touch if my phone is off, but apps that want to sync things or notify me can wait until I open my phone. I also don't have facebook/twitter installed on my phone, although I use fb occasionally via desktop browser.
Re: the article, these days the worst offender is email spam. I've stopped using gmail's auto categories a few months ago, and I still (a few a week) occasionally get stuff that would have fallen into the "promo" category. I've lost count of the number of newsletters I've clicked "unsubscribe" to when I first made the switch. I made the switch because I wanted to get out of being tied to the gmail client. Now I'm free to use any email client, and my inbox looks sane regardless of what tool I use.
1. "Quiet hours" before quiet hours were a part of Android. I had a task that automatically reduced the volume levels for calls, notifications, etc. between 00:00 and 06:00. I've recently updated it to also go full volume if a certain number is calling.
2. Automatically turning wireless on/off when I'm entering / leaving home.
3. Automatically silencing / unsilencing phone when entering / leaving work (at previous work I used NFC for that, currently I use geofencing).
4. Adding custom voice commands to Google Now (I'm playing with it right now, as I finally found a way to make it work with my Bluetooth headset only a day or two ago).
5. Overriding media buttons on headphones, making them do other stuff.
6. I'm making my phone much more chatty right now - whenever I have a Bluetooth headset connected, it starts to tell me stuff via TTS - it reads out important notifications, tells me when I'm transitioning into/out of a geofence, occasionally tells time (yeah, too lazy to look at my watch), etc. I'm adding more stuff at the moment, with the intention of turning the phone into information awareness device.
7. Some time ago my SO wanted me to remind her stuff regularly via SMS; I eventually made a Tasker script that auto-assembled a message out of randomized components (to make it sound natural) and sent it to her. (Yes, she eventually started to suspect it's automated - I think because the reminders tended to come perfectly on time, or even during phone conversations.)
8. Orgzly is an application I use a lot (because I run my self-organizing in Emacs & Org-Mode). It doesn't auto-sync and having to select "Sync" from menu annoyed me a bit; I wrote a Tasker script that automatically opens the app and clicks in the menu for me every morning (still tweaking it due to issues with lockscreen).
9. Quick remote actions. I have a task that automatically opens a SSH connection to my VPS (via JuiceSSH) and executes commands.
10. IoT. In our Hackerspace, we've set up lights to be controllable via an API. A friend made me a Tasker overlay (yes, you can design UIs in Tasker) that could be used to turn the lights on and off.
11. I've just made myself a control panel for my IRC bot. The use case is this: sometimes people from our Hackerspace want me on the channel ASAP for some reason, and they notify me about it via Pushovers sent from my bot. Logging in to IRC while on the go isn't exactly convenient, so I made a popup control panel, accessible with a homescreen shortcut, that provides me with a text field and a series of canned responses that I can use to have my bot tell them something in my name.
12. When I was in China on a business stay, every day we'd catch a taxi to take us to the company. Since taxi drivers in Shenzhen don't understand any English and can't really read latin alphabet, we used to show them the photo of the street sign with an address. Taking out the phone and finding that photo was annoying, so I got one local to say the address out loud, recorded it, and then made my Pebble activate a Tasker task that would play the recording out loud - this way I could press a button on a watch twice instead of having to pull out my phone and find the image.
13. Speaking of Pebble - I used to forget to note down work entry/exit times in China. I realized that I always think about it while I'm riding an elevator, so I made a quick Tasker logger and hooked it up to the Pebble.
The common thread in all of these is getting rid of trivial annoyances and quickly adding some features to the phone. For half of these you wouldn't probably even find an app. Tasker to Android is like Bash scripts to Linux - when you learn it, you suddenly start using it all the time for fixing stuff and implementing random ideas. It turns your device into a tool. Yes, I do the same 7 things you do on my phone, but I know that if I want to do something else - like e.g. manage a server or an on-line service - I can make it happen.
I wanted add Locale. I find Tasker is easier to work with for edge-based transitions - reactions to events - while Locale is easier to work with for level-based states, i.e. to enable some setting when a certain set of criteria are true, but go back to defaults if they're not.
I use Locale for toggling wifi when leaving home and silencing when at work, for example.
- A phone has a convenient form factor (I still keep using a lot of desktop apps though)
- Small open source tools usually are incomplete and have clumsy usability
Or Photoshop, when Adobe switched to a subscription service. I use it maybe 3 times a year, a (legal) old version would be fine but you can't buy one. GIMP it is, even though it has less features.
I want to spend less time looking for new apps/services just because the previous ones went out of business or now charge monthly for 5 lines of code. Libre/Free software mostly stays around, even the unmaintained stuff is often forked/fixed/updated by someone if the fix is small enough.
Another problem is that a Google search for "convert to PDF" turns up so much crap it's hard to even start looking. Same with "convert to MP4". I just use ffmpeg directly now, even though getting the command line options right is not easy.
Agreed. But the anti-thesis of that is that along with tech companies (like Facebook and Goolge), the average user is evolving too. In other words, sooner or later, the average user will start thinking exactly what you are thinking now. And thats when the user will start ditching Facebook for something open source and WhatsApp for something like Telegram.
There's some sort of future truth in this kind of thinking that I'm still sorting out. It seems to centre around a future ability to embrace and accommodate all the ways that humans and our minds are frail, instead of all the ways that we're great. And that seems pretty counter to the prevailing western culture of choice and autonomy. Accepting this might require social concessions, where we carve out safe spaces and practices, free from the all-too-easy possibility of manipulation. I can very much imagine, in a sci-fi-esque way, how this leads into conversations that will later involve trans-humanism :/
Hopefully the above doesn't seem dark -- I'm an optimist!
> Modern app design isn't about creating things that are good for the user, but about creating want in the user. This is a problem.
This would be my feelings as well. However, you have to acknowledge that this is only one possible scenario. It could be that somewhere in the future all of a sudden we discover a puzzle piece which is as of yet unknown and boom everything makes perfect sense and the way we did things in the 00s looks incredibly quaint and idiotic.
Atm I try to ignore FB et al as much as I can but there is a slim chance that this makes me look like a fool one day.
On the bright side, the profit from hijacking your brain goes to sending their kids to "low-tech" schools Hurray for computer human symbiosis after all
All that is necessary for Facebook to be successful is to make money for their shareholders. User happiness is only important if it impacts that particular line item.
Or perhaps cars and freeways, from about the same period.