Education in the New Machine Age

Education in the New Machine Age

Nobody can deny that we’ve entered a new era of technological progress. The so-called Digital Revolution is but the latest in a series of intellectual milestones that started with the Industrial Revolution. However, there’s something special about this era: exponential development. Our technology advances faster than ever before.

It’s not only board game players that lose to software algorithms. It’s all of us. It’s not that we’re stupid; far from that. After all, we created the software that is right now outperforming us in an ever-increasing number of areas, eliminating jobs across all industries.

But the human brain is perfectly capable of adapting to the intellectual explosion going on. The problem is that our social structures aren’t. And there’s a very simple reason behind that…

Economic Inequality

Fairness in the World of Economic Inequality

We often gasp at the amount of wealth various entrepreneurs have amassed. News about economic inequality (sometimes known as income inequality) is quite common lately, and so it should be. Slowly but surely, society’s patience is reaching the breaking point and when that happens, chaos ensues.

It is hard not to be shocked when confronted with the knowledge that the accumulated wealth of 42 individuals (no typo, it really is a two-digit number) is greater than that of the poorest half of the world’s population put together. And then there’s that already outdated statistic about the world’s top 1% owning more than the bottom X% (82% as of 2017 and growing).

Is there a reason to rage when these statistics show up? To many, the answer is an obvious “yes”. Indeed, the disparity is staggering, but fury isn’t usually the right attitude to address a problem. There are many factors that contribute to the present state of affairs and we are directly responsible for some of them. Owning up to this is the first step towards improving things.

As I’ll soon show, there are different kinds of “rich and powerful”. Some of these people are highly beneficial for the progress of our species, while others are destroying lives and wrecking our ecosystem, dragging down society by setting the wrong examples.

Daring to Imagine Cyberwarfare

Daring to Imagine Cyberwarfare

Computer viruses and hacking have been around since the dawn of the Internet. But while some time ago the platform was used almost exclusively by academics and the tech-savvy, the Internet is now quickly becoming one of the central technological pillars of our society. Particularly in developed countries, countless vital social systems are now connected to it, ranging from the run-of-the-mill residential heating system to critical infrastructure such as hospitals, public transport and even military.

In the same time, the skills and tools in the cyber-soldier’s arsenal have greatly increased in potency. Even more importantly, the interest and will to compromise connected systems has increased exponentially in the past decade. Some years ago, the Internet was home to mostly petty crime and the occasional larger security breach. Now-a-days, state actors such as the United States, North Korea, and pretty much all major powers and nation-states involved in military conflicts, train and make use of cyber-hacking squads.

The Worship Of Mammon

The Survival Instinct and the Rules of the Human Game

Irrespective of us having free will or not, at least a part of our mind is taking decisions based on a very deeply rooted program. That program is our instinct and, like for all other species, its job is to ensure our survival. Instinct is both necessary and ruthless.

In the same time, we’re living in a society that reaches for higher moral grounds through the evolution of ethics and empathy. Our need for moral progress is probably also an evolutionary trait, ensuring social progress, which is a necessity of our survival as a species. We have gotten this far not only because we are skilled individuals, but also because we’ve found ways to work together through the direst of circumstances. However, the evolution of our society is sometimes in conflict with the instinct of the individual.

Artificial Non-Intelligence

The Danger with Artificial “Intelligence” Is That It’s Not (yet) Intelligent

Albert Einstein once said that “our entire much-praised technological progress, and civilization generally, could be compared to an axe in the hand of a pathological criminal”. He said this in December 1917, almost a hundred years ago, after seeing Europe ravaged by the First World War. Regardless, Einstein continued contributing to that same technological progress. Human curiosity and our desire to achieve are incompatible with stagnation. We will have to deal with this by being careful with the technology we will inevitably develop.

Like many have said before me, Artificial Intelligence (AI) can either be our salvation or our doom. It is a far bigger game-changer than nuclear bombs. But the problem is that there is NO Artificial Intelligence yet, and there won’t be for quite some time to come. Everything that the world’s corporations are selling now-a-days as “smart” or “intelligent” is actually a mindless human construct. Sure, it’s advanced, but if a rocket is more advanced than a spoon, that doesn’t make it in the slightest more intelligent than the spoon. They both lack one of the prime ingredients of intelligence, which is self-awareness. And therein lays the true threat.

Right now, our so-called artificial “intelligence” is nothing but a tool that corporations can and will use ruthlessly against one another (and against the people of one another). This is already taking place on the stock market, something I wrote about last year. Back then, I highlighted the fact that exactly because these algorithms are not intelligent, they will be used to enrich and empower whoever spent money in building them, regardless of their morals or social affiliation. And let’s not forget that software is far easier to steal and smuggle than radioactive material. Put the wrong AI in the hands of the wrong people and…

The AI Stock Market Wars

The AI Stock Market Wars

Before Artificial Intelligence develops free will and would even be in a sufficiently advanced position to decide if humans are necessary on this planet, we seem to be doing a pretty good job of destroying ourselves anyway by giving a dangerous amount of power over to semi-intelligent algorithms. Enter the artificially intelligent hedge fund.

But what’s this talk about “destroying ourselves”? Can these things actually kill? Well, let’s look at this way: these algorithms are designed to make profits for their owners by moving investments from one company to the other. In other words, stock market algorithms are playing with the fate of companies in order to make profits for investors. But unlike a human, an algorithm is not programmed for empathy, mercy or intuition. Such algorithms could potentially annihilate a promising company simply because it made some errors in reporting or short-term financial planning.

Consumerism as Religion

Consumerism as Religion

A certain sense of achievement can arise following the break with organized religion. Many people rightly feel they have been freed from a prison of outdated practices and mentalities. Yet, the human need for belonging and confirmation has not disappeared. Neither has the inventive human spirit, always ready to prey upon its own in the quest for profit.

Consumerism is defined as a social and economic order and ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts. The way this behavior spreads and elevates its status in society is surprisingly similar with religious traditions. This text is about some rather amusing parallels that all but indicate that consumerism is taking advantage of the power void left by fall from grace of organized religion.

This is not to say that consumerism has any of the spiritual virtues that religion often promotes. That’s exactly the problem – consumerism is an economic tool that is capitalizing on an intimate need. It’s the wrong cure for something that isn’t even a problem. And it’s proving to be increasingly costly for the future of our ecosystem and thus, our quality of life in the coming decades and centuries.

Christmas as Avatar of Consumerism

Christmas as Avatar of Consumerism

Cultural war is tricky business. As a living entity, culture needs mechanisms of protection from external threats. But intellectual defensive systems can become an obstacle for evolution especially when a culture has fallen in love with itself to the point where criticism is no longer seen as a mechanism for progress. For all its merits, Western culture is affected by a plague of intellectual rigidity.

There is no need to generalize. There are many Westerners who are quite open to change and new ideas, perhaps more-so than any other major culture on Earth. This is only sufficient if these people can trigger an evolutionary step forwards by reaching a critical mass enough to spread a wave of change throughout society.

What does all this have to do with Christmas? It’s quite simple really. Changing the way we interpret Christmas is probably a litmus test for cultural evolution. Why do we need to reinterpret this cultural event? Because it is the avatar of a way of doing business that may have made sense in the 20th century, but will only lead to worsening the quality of life on this planet for future generations of human beings.

22 x 22 for PTSD

22 x 22 for PTSD

22 days ago, I embarked on a challenge to raise awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder. The challenge is one of those things that sometimes flare up through social media. It’s easy to generalize such happenings and to dismiss them as nothing but annoying fads. Luckily, not everybody is prone to generalization. I decided to undertake this challenge not only because PTSD is a mental condition that is familiar to me, but also because a good friend inspired me (he posted a video every time after doing his 22 daily pushups).

For the past 22 days, aside from the 22 pushups that are the subject of the challenge, I also did daily reading about PTSD. During this process, I compiled a rather long list of notes and now, I’ll use that list of notes to bring forth my own effort for raising awareness about PTSD.

Mainstream Entertainment And Objectification

Mainstream Entertainment and Objectification

The digital age has made audio-visual entertainment cheap, easy to obtain and, for an ever-increasing number of people it became one of the main means of counteracting the stress of daily life.

Cinematography and computer games are the undisputed leaders when it comes to this sort of fun. There are a lot of excellent movies and games out there. The opposite is also true and therein lays a problem: entertainment is a highly efficient means of propagating stereotypes and ideologies. Let’s take a look at some of these effects (such as the stereotyping of the human body) and observe how they sometimes end up damaging our society.