internet, social media, Technology, Uncategorized

Life Finds a Way

The story that Facebook had shut down computers that had begun to talk to each other and were creating their own language made me stop dead in my tracks. While the concept of computers learning and speaking their own language is amazing I was equally stunned by the fact we seem never to learn. We shut down the computers as they had begun to speak in a language that we could not understand but the computers could. It seems that no matter how much we think we know, we never learn the lesson, as Ian Malcolm states in Jurassic Park, “life finds a way. We think we can master nature and make it do our bidding only to find that it has a will of its own. Even now we seem oblivious to the grating roar of waves slowly taking back our cities and coastline. It is easier to think global warming an alternate fact than to accept the consequences of our actions. As a child, if we ignore the problem we think it will go away or think that once the genie is out of the bottle we can control it and put it back whenever we choose. Anything we create at some point takes on a life of its own, a life which will find a way. Perhaps it’s time for us to acknowledge our creations and treat them like the new Adam and Eve that they have become.

ADAM AND EVE, ALTERNATE TRUTH, ANCIENT HISTORY, COMMUNICATION, CONNECTIONS, DIALOGUE, DOVER BEACH, FACEBOOK, GENII, GOD, IAN MALCOLM, INFORMATION, INFORMATION SOCIETY, JURASSIC PARK, KAREL CAPEK, LANGUAGE, LIFE WILL FIND A WAY. FACEBOOK, PERSONAL COMMUNICATION, RUR, SOCIAL MEDIA, TECHNOLOGY

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Have It Your Way

While our Janus’ face is often turned to the future, it took a brief look back to an old Burger King ad when we heard the news of a study that showed that Robots could create twice as many jobs as they destroy. It seems a bit optimistic of the World Economic Forum which says while machines and computer algorithms could displace 75 million people it could create 133 million jobs. Of course, we realize that new technology always creates in its wake social unrest and disruption. The printing press as a prelude to the Reformation, newspapers to the rise of unions, television ushering in the era of civil rights and protests that launched the end of the Vietnam war and started woman’s rights movement. While all of these innovations both technological and social have made people’s lives better, there are always those who are caught beneath the wheel of progress. And while we have no doubt that the rising tide of progress will raise many boats, what happens to those whose skills don’t fit exactly in the last lifeboat. Perhaps, social media has brought reality into our lives with an immediacy that television couldn’t match that perhaps is calling us to forge a new more compassionate version of democracy. One in which the winners don’t always have it their way, as Burger King commercials used to say, a new world in which the high tide raises all boats, not just the ones of the rich or famous.

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In Silicon We Trust.

While an update of my phone is not a big deal, my most recent update has brought about a strange and comforting site. Now everything when I open my phone, I see the notifications that the app that protects my phone tells me “Everything is OK”. Its comforting in an odd sort of way and reminds me of the Greek theater, where the impossible situation the characters have found themselves in is resolved by the appearance of a God who resolves the situation and brings the drama to a close. While this is called deus ex machina, it refers to the fact that a machine was used to bring actors playing gods onto the stage, it literally means god from the machine.
Perhaps that is what next frontier in our relation to the larger world and the divine will be. While we have looked for deeper meaning in historical figures, pop culture, mediation or sedation we may now find a comfort for our soul in a silicon-based deity. In George Lucas’ THX1138, the titular character played by Robert Duval, goes to find comfort for his spiritual angst in a futuristic phone booth, where when the door is closed, an image of a sort of Jesus appears on the screen and a recorded voice says, “My time is yours, go ahead” as Duval begins his confession, the recorded voice randomly chimes in with statements like, “Yes, I understand,” and “Go on” no matter what the person is saying. Perhaps George Lucas was more prophet then we care to know, sensing that we would ourselves create an electronic God if we couldn’t keep a metaphysical or mystical one alive. Perhaps the realm of electronics have become the magic of the future.   Perhaps our future redemption will be from a silicon God whose “everything is OK” will become the nightlight keeping the 21st-century monsters at bay.

THHX1138, George Lucas

 

If you have never seen THX1138, please use this scene as an appetizer to a brilliant feast of a movie.

 

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Penny for your thoughts….

For those of us who may remember Jack Benny the comedian on radio and later television, whose persona was that of a miser who, for the sake of comedy often found himself at the mercy of a robber who would say to Benny, “Your money or your life!” to which after a long silence, Benny would reply, “I’m thinking it over”….The idea of money having value is so simple to grasp that the idea of something not so tangible having value still gives me pause. This was never more apparent than when I saw that the buzz from Nike’s Kaepernick campaign was worth more than $163 million in media exposure. While the stock price of the company, its physical manifestation dropped, the It seems that just the idea of our looking at something has value and by extension, our consciousness, when focused on something must also then have value. It would seem then that the sheer fact of us allowing something into our consciousness, could become a monetized action. In the way that we now pay for content, perhaps at some time, we would be compensated to turn our attention on something as to raise its economic value. While we have often thought of the monetization of our data exhaust, perhaps the real money lies in what we see or allow ourselves to look at. Our gaze already affects companies bottom lines, why are we then not being compensated? Perhaps, we are being robbed without thinking about it. Maybe its something we need to think over.

Kaepernick, nike, media exposure,concsiousness,

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More Light! More Light!

The church choir that I am section leader for has been invited to Carnegie Hall to sing a concert featuring a new choral work by Dan Forrest, LUX: The Dawn From On High (Lux being Latin for Light). While I won’t be going to Carnegie, for many reasons, having sung there before among them, I have loved learning the music with my choir. The crux of the piece talks about the importance of light, light as a blessing and a spiritual end result from a life- an abundance of light as a heavenly reward. The text of the piece from religious texts and comments on the end of one’s life being surrounded by light. It makes me think of  a pre-electric age the importance of light and the power of the darkness. Restoration theaters had candle wick trimmers whose job it was to keep the candles burning throughout the performance. In New England, on the 19th of May 1780, is known as New England’s Dark Day where candles were needed from noon to midnight, so heavy was the cloud cover. Perhaps we still harbor that childhood fear of the dark and bathe ourselves in light to protect ourselves from the unknown. Is that the reason for the preponderance of light in the religious texts describing heavenly bliss? What would be better in the afterlife than the things that we lack in this life? With that thought in mind, it makes me wonder what would be the valued thing would be that would greet us in a contemporary afterlife. What would be our final blissful reward in heaven? In short, what would be the final reward to a culture that has reveled in abundance and immediacy in everything?

light, Lux,

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internet, social media, Technology, Uncategorized

Last Will and Textament….

It has been disturbing to me to see the acceptance of the most informal of communications, texting, and tweeting, have become acceptable forms of communicating and I was hear that the French legal system said that the texting of a last will and testament has no legal value. Indeed, the court decreed that a texted will or texted changes to a will, had no value in a court of law. While there may be those that remember the outcry when Genesis frontman Phil Collins divorced his wife via fax, it seems that now we react more with what Conan O’Brian calls a horrorplause, the reaction in which the audience responds initially in disgust and shock to a joke and then gradually comes around and laughs and applauds. It seems with this media driven political arena we have embraced the horrorplause. We will be horrified by the statements of our political leaders only to come around and applaud and laugh as if the sitcom we had been watching had come to a close and the credits were about to roll. Perhaps the midseason elections will be the newest version of the midsummer replacement tv shows when we decide that what we are seeing is no longer interesting and that a change is no farther than a tweet or text away. People text or tweet condolences, or announcements of personal importance, but whatever happened to such a personal announcement being worthy of more than 140 characters, or at best 120 characters for the cherished retweet. Or perhaps, in our digital age popularity has become more important than sincerity.

 

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internet, social media, Technology, Uncategorized

A Dream Is A Wish Your Tablet Makes…

While watching the news report on our president, the image of Raphael’s, “Sistine Madonna” came to mind. Now bear with me for a moment, as this painting is probably best known for the cherubs at the bottom of the image. The thing that made me think of them was not their cheeky demeanor but the fact that the cherubs are downright chubby. Like many representations of cherubs in paintings of the time, they are notoriously well fed. Later I discovered that the reason for that was that in a time when most people were starving the idea that there might be more than enough food in heaven did add a certain level of interest that a blushing Madonna’s or pious saints wouldn’t have- the elusive robustness was to be valued, prized even idolized. In this time when we think of social media as a new form of religion, why are we surprised to see the parade of characters cast before us every waking moment? From the earliest days in television, we were presented with ideal visions of family and life that were far from anything most people had known or were even possible. Today we watch the Kardashian’s in the hopes that we could also be famous and valued for absolutely no reason. We watched “Friends” living in an absolutely amazing New York apartment with they paid for with jobs and paychecks that they never seemed to work for projection a similar fate might be possible for us too. Perhaps we should not be surprised that we have projected our most precious desires into a world that seems real and yet attainable only through a miracle or some miraculous transformation. It seems we look to these media icons to allow us to dream a world that we cannot or don’t live in. A world where we will be fed to the point of plumpness, rewarded with adulation and attention for no reason, or be able to act and say whatever we want, no matter how hateful, contradictory or detached from reason. Perhaps it conceals a certain desire in all of us to act as if our actions had no consequences, other than those that would be resolved by the final credits.  I mean, wouldn’t we all like the opportunity to act like children – even if only chubby children with wings?

Kardashian, Friends, Television, Raphael, Sistine Madonna,

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