> For black people, to be cool was to be “calm, even unimpressed, by what horror the world might daily propose.” Cool was a quietly rebellious response to the history of slavery and post-Civil War injustices.
Cool is kind of the anti-reactionary, laissez-faire attitude, but it's also using that attitude to create. To use slang in creative, liberating ways. Or music, or art, or drugs, or whatever.
Now give an algorithm that's been trained with all of human history and society. Would it also disregard the past horrors, but use the memory to create? What would it create? Would it be cool, even if you didn't know that it came from a human or a robot?
They said computers would never be able to beat humans at chess. Then IBM built Deep Blue.
They said computers would never be able to beat humans at go. Then Google built AlphaGo.
They said computers would never be able to understand natural language. Then Apple built Siri.
It's a matter of when, not if, computers will understand cool. But when they do, they will probably be too cool to care.
To say that Siri understands natural language is just laughable. It can analyze natural language in a way that is extremely error prone and contextually insensitive, just barely well enough for it to parse Zork-like commands and google stuff for you, set alarms or call people in your contact list. What's at all slightly impressive about it is its voice recognition, and even that is very error prone.
I think it’s a stretch to say that Siri understands natural language. You need to form your sentences very specifically to have any luck, dramatically different than talking to a human.
"Hey, Siri, remind me to get a room for Wintergrass."
"Okay, I'll remind you to get a room for one in the ass."
One would also think that Siri has figured out my sexual preferences by now. (To be clear, she obviously has not.)
But to the point, the hype of speech recognition over the decades, and the state of the art today, are why I am not convinced I'll live long enough to see true self-driving cars despite the current hype of that tech.
So, they're still saying that, then.
Might as well have invoked Eliza.
As for the other two, they are just number crunching endeavors. If somebody said computers would never be able to beat humans at them, they were wrong from the start.
For the other things, not so sure.
Who said what?
I may be wrong but I thought black people throught out the world were cool..
As a social term cool just means the same thing, referring to things whose positive qualities come from what they lack.
Indeed, pushed hard by the advertising industry etc. with the idea that we are defined only by the products we consume.
I see cool as similar to the phenomenon of less well off people spending money on designer labels, i.e. reaction to a position of relative social inferiority. Chavs buy Burberry, whereas Prince Charles patches holes in clothes that he's had for decades.
Which is also a status-signal ("hey, I've got good tailored clothes which are sentimentally important to me and I am beyond consumerism") from someone with a huge estate...
'I happen to mind deeply about the poisoned legacy we are leaving our children and grandchildren and have been attempting to invest in their futures through reminding people of the urgent need to work in harmony with nature, rather than against her.'
Yeah, give away your estate you didn't earn but enjoy because of an antiquated bloodline-based institution to help nature causes then.
If you do it when a single banquet in your favor involves such waste as 10,000 ordinary people's gatherings combined, then yeah, mending your clothes to save the planet is not really sincere.
And everybody does that in some way. Most HN users just won the lottery of high IQ, so it's easy to laugh on those burberry buyers.
And it's not like you can escape/trancend that status game somehow.
And regarding your attempt to turn this back on me: I drive a small car, own a humble home, spend well within my means and as a courtesy to others, deliberately avoid dress and behaviour that would draw others' attention to me. I'm quite happy being an invisible old fart.
Everybody compares themselves to others. Some people are more lucky than others and do have better status, in real life. So you don't feel the need to get it from other means, like you commented. Which is a good way to behave, i agree.
But what about people living with low status ? Comparing yourself to others and feeling bad upon the result is a deep biological reaction. Afaik, it's not something you can turn off, unless we're talking medications(and side effects), or maybe meditating for decades. Not practical.
The other thing is of course, build a society for humans, egalitarian, possibly in small tribes, like humans intend to be. Maybe a dream for the next generation. Not practical.
So a useful discussion would be: what could people with low status do, to lower their status anxiety ?
Humans are a little bit smarter and can see the future a few years past copulation, but it’s still instinctual to show off when you see a mate you like, and make sure your neighborhood/family/tribe/class knows it. And to make sure you can attract whoever you desire (along with feeding and securing yourself), we try to gather as many resources for ourselves and our family/tribe/class as we can.
I don't know, that method at least had an honesty and openness about it that the modern equivalents lack. Everything is shrouded and hidden and lied about to such an extent that a lot of people even consciously believe the outward falsehoods while subconsciously still making decisions based on reality.
I believe the only thing that has changed is our perception about our place in the status hierarchy.
Mass media has the effect of making people aware of more high status individuals and this has been exploited by advertisement. But people on TV are easy to keep in a separate status box.
The recent phenomenon has been social media and the positively biased posting by peers giving a false impression of low relative personal status. There is also a bias to pay more attention to those of higher status, the more people you know the more individuals of higher status you’ll know. Both of these effects can be undone by understanding selection criteria biases.
I think the solution is to teach others of the effect of selection criteria biases.
There is also the solution of breaking down the hierarchy into smaller niche hierarchies so more people can be closer to the top of their smaller hierarchy. E.g. maybe I’m not the richest person alive but I have one of the rarest sneakers, or the best Magic The Gathering deck, or Furry costume etc.
I think there is a comercial drive towards niche activities that are now more viable with targeted advertising. So the disease may become the cure as there is money to be made in taking away a small subset of a bigger status hierarchy and creating a new one.
Consider this as opposed to a communist utopia where there is only one hierarchy.
Oops, I think we are done for.
As the author says, cool started gaining popularity in the 30s, as mass broadcast media became dominant and service jobs made up over 50% of the US work force . Almost all service jobs, to a greater degree than farm and manufacturing, require the participants to signal competence. The cool persona is Hollywood's and Madison Avenue's counter-signaling answer to this demand. Cool is on another plane from those other, gaudy service sector workers. Cool doesn't flaunt competence, but if you give cool a guitar, gun, motorcycle, or skateboard, flawless execution will ensue. Anyone can adopt the mannerisms of cool (to Madison Avenue's benefit ).
What replaced cool? Genuine enthusiasm. With the rise of the internet, social media, and Youtube, entertainers are no longer selected by service-economy executives. Now entertainers rise up through skill, passion, and endless hours of self-promotion. Now artists and athletes have access to their fans, and their fans see their dedication and associate it with status. To get a sense of this change, watch a few early 2000s Scarlett Johansson interviews, then watch a few current Jenifer Lawremce interviews. The new cool is engaged and open, a tightly-packaged version of the qualities of Youtube star or professional athlete.
 This chart https://www.ahrq.gov/sites/default/files/wysiwyg/professiona... from this 2018 study https://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/education/curriculum-tool...
I had to LOL hard at that one.
Yeah, as if in the age of the selfie, Instagram celebrities, vanity blogging, social media status games, and so on, "genuine enthusiasm" even had a chance...
>Now entertainers rise up through skill, passion, and endless hours of self-promotion. Now artists and athletes have access to their fans, and their fans see their dedication and associate it with status.
LOL again. The music industry is more entrenched than ever, and 99.99% of those musicians with "skill, passion, and endless hours of self-promotion" are totally niche. Big success comes from huge label promotion and media bombardment even more so than before.
>To get a sense of this change, watch a few early 2000s Scarlett Johansson interviews, then watch a few current Jenifer Lawremce interviews. The new cool is engaged and open, a tightly-packaged version of the qualities of Youtube star or professional athlete.
Jenifer Lawrence has had tens of millions of promotion thrown at her. Just because the mood of the day is to give a "casual" personality vibe in interviews doesn't mean anything substantial changed.
>* The new cool is engaged and open, a tightly-packaged version of the qualities of Youtube star or professional athlete.*
Yeah, the "genuine enthusiasm" of Logan Paul...
But in both absolute and relative terms, the number of genuinely passionate famous people has increased. And the amount of hours people spend watching these people perform and reading their own words has increased. I'm using Jennifer Lawrence as an effect, not a cause. She wears this faux-accessibility because she's competing with less famous, truly accessible people. Earlier celebrities didn't have to appeal to this desire because there was no one flanking them on that dimension.
Look at pictures of the highest grossing actors of 2016 . Even in their facial expressions, they are miles away from John Wayne, Paul Newman, Humphrey Bogart, or Clint Eastwood in the golden age of Cool.
And yet, there were more independent voices with actual influence back in the day (writers, poets, musicians, etc) than in the whole of the internet combined. Who weren't there for the money either.
Those "passionate people" in vlogging have disintegrated into cheap salesmen very quickly. Those on Instagram even more so.
>Look at pictures of the highest grossing actors of 2016 . Even in their facial expressions, they are miles away from John Wayne, Paul Newman, Humphrey Bogart, or Clint Eastwood in the golden age of Cool.
That's because everybody is as well. Styles change over time. We don't speak in a Transatlantic accent like actors of yore either.
It is my impression that youtube or instagram have a long tail of creators, appealing to niche interests, but maybe there is a falseness to this as well if everyone is playing by the same rules.
Thanks for the exchange. I don't necessarily agree, but I'll be thinking about it.
What if that reflects how you've changed, and not how society has changed?
eh, I do think, in some ways the "genuine enthusiasm" or if we are going to use tech company words, "Passion" is a fundamentally different thing from "cool" - even if it can be just as inauthentic.
"Cool" is about acting unaffected; in some ways, it's acting like you don't care even when you do. "Passion" and "Genuine enthusiasm" are in some ways the inverse; they are acting like you care deeply and genuinely even if maybe you don't.
Here he is just before he died with his old friend Billie Holiday (who he nicknamed 'Lady Day' - he called everyone 'lady'). Before him, what everyone wanted to be was hot, screaming, wailing sax, jumping up on bars, playing a lot of notes, extreme. Then suddenly less is more. He came up playing with Count Basie, who was also a less is more kind of guy. To oversimplify, hot was about high energy, cool was about beauty and taste. Hot was macho, competitive, striving to impress; cool was human, content, enlightened.