Art, at its best, mines the paradoxes that make humans human. It celebrates our ability to embrace ambiguity, and to experience this sustained, unresolved state as pleasurable, or at least significant.
Commercial entertainment, by contrast, has the opposite purpose. The word entertain — from the Latin for “to hold within” — literally means “maintain,” or “continue in a certain condition.” Its goal is to validate the status quo values by which we already live, reinforce consumerism, and — most of all — reassure us that there is certainty in this world. Not only do we find out whodunnit, but we get to experience a story in which there are definitive answers to big questions, villains to blame when things go wrong, and a method for administering justice. These plots depict a character we like (usually a young man), put him in danger, raise the stakes until we can’t take it anymore, and then give him the solution he needs to vanquish his enemy and win the day, at which point we can all breathe a sigh of relief. …
You know that moment when a dog sees something he doesn’t quite understand? When he tilts his head a little bit to one side, as if viewing the perplexing phenomenon from another angle will help? That state of confusion, that huh?, may be a problem for the dog, but it’s awfully cute to us. That’s because for humans, a state of momentary confusion offers not just frustration but an opening.
Team Human has the ability to tolerate and even embrace ambiguity. The stuff that makes our thinking and behavior messy, confusing, or anomalous is both our greatest strength and our greatest defense against the deadening certainty of machine logic. …
Artificial intelligences are not alive.
They do not evolve. They may iterate and optimize, but that is not evolution. Evolution is random mutation in a particular environment. Machine learning, by contrast, is directed toward particular, preprogrammed ends. It may be complicated, but — unlike evolution, the weather, the oceans, or nature — it’s not complex. Complicated systems, such as a city’s many traffic lights, direct activity from the top down. By contrast, complex systems such as a traffic circle establish flows spontaneously through the interaction of their many participants. …
Playing for Team Human today, author and technology historian, George Dyson.
Dyson helps us take a less human-centered perspective on our place in the cosmos for our own — and everything’s — best interest.
In his opening monologue, Rushkoff discusses the imperative to not hold grudges after the presidential election and pays tribute to his late friend, Mark Filippi.
Analogia: The Emergence of Technology Beyond Programmable Control is now available at your favorite independent bookseller.
To many developers and investors in Silicon Valley, humans are not to be emulated or celebrated, but transcended or, at the very least, reengineered. These technologists are so dominated by the values of the digital revolution that they see anything or anyone with different priorities as an impediment. This is a distinctly antihuman position, and it’s driving the development philosophy of the most capitalized companies on the planet.
In their view, evolution is less the story of life than of data. Information has been striving for greater complexity since the beginning of time. Atoms became molecules; molecules became proteins; proteins became cells, organisms, and, eventually, humans. …
For days, if not weeks, our media pundits have been telling us not to expect a winner on election night. The left demanded patience and voiced their concerns that Trump would prematurely declare victory and turn to the courts for support.
Yet when election night came, those calls for patience went out the window. Instead, Democrats melted down on television and social media, treating every Trump red-state victory as a sign of certain defeat. It may not have been their fault.
While the major cable networks were still doing set up and exposition, the New York Times already appeared determined to induce full-on post-traumatic stress disorder. As early as 7:30 p.m., the newspaper’s online election coverage had all the subtlety of an instrument-only airplane landing: three needles — just like the one they used to condemn Hillary Clinton’s chances four years ago — all pointing to the right. The most important of them was already pinned, indicating a 92% probability of a Trump victory in Florida. …
Playing for Team Human today, Professor of Community Justice and Social Economic Development at Jon Jay College and author of Collective Courage: A History of African American Economic Thought and Practice, Jessica Gordon Nembhard.
Jessica shows us how black communities already developed the circular economic mechanisms that the rest of us need to dig out of the repressive weight of exploitation.
In his opening monologue, Rushkoff discusses how the made-for-television format of United States presidential debates does more harm than good for democracy.
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LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rushkoff/ …
Algorithms do reflect the brilliance of the engineers who craft them, as well as the power of iterative processes to solve problems in novel ways. They can answer the specific questions we bring them, or even generate fascinating imitations of human creations, from songs to screenplays. But we are mistaken if we look to algorithms for direction. They are not guided by a core set of values so much as by a specific set of outcomes. They are utilitarian.
To a hammer, everything is a nail. To an A.I., everything is a computational challenge.
We must not accept any technology as the default solution for our problems. When we do, we end up trying to optimize ourselves for our machines, instead of optimizing our machines for us. Whenever people or institutions fail, we assume they are simply lacking the appropriate algorithms or upgrades. …
Almost everyone seems to think last night’s debate was so much better than the first. To me, that’s a bit like saying having a stroke is much better than suffering a heart attack. It’s not. Even if it’s less painfully dramatic to watch, the damage is the same — or, in this case, actually worse.
A less unhinged president speaking lies in a calm voice is not fundamentally an improvement over a totally unhinged president shouting lies out of turn. It simply camouflages the inadequacy of his arguments under the veneer of a well-established format. Indeed, the debate structure itself enables and legitimizes the untethering of civic discourse from on-the-ground reality. This can’t go on. Blame the moderators all you want, but the form itself is untenable. …
A future where we’re all replaced by artificial intelligence may be further off than experts currently predict, but the readiness with which we accept the notion of our own obsolescence says a lot about how much we value ourselves. The long-term danger is not that we will lose our jobs to robots. We can contend with joblessness if it happens. The real threat is that we’ll lose our humanity to the value system we embed in our robots, and that they in turn impose on us.
Computer scientists once dreamed of enhancing the human mind through technology, a field of research known as intelligence augmentation. But this pursuit has been largely surrendered to the goal of creating artificial intelligence — machines that can think for themselves. All we’re really training them to do is manipulate our behavior and engineer our compliance. …