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Nothing Definitive is an enlightenment blog by Sam Shadow (SMSHDW).

The Carman Theory

Doors open and the machine swallows them whole. A third entity emerges from their merger. The Carman is born. I try not to look at you. The grotesque form of man merged with machine. Flailing about in that nightmarish world. Their soul is lost. Their eyes droop and lethargy engulfs their mind. They are its slave now.

There is an optimal use for each machine that is rarely reached and never maintained for long. The average person isn’t very capable to begin with and I estimate that their IQ drops by at least 10 points upon merging with a car. I’ve also found that if I do not make eye contact with the other driver I can manipulate them into operating as if I wasn’t there which is optimal because it allows me to better predict their behavior and maneuver around them as if they were some mundane, inanimate object in the environment. I do not believe humans drive cars because it would be too harsh a reality to accept. Instead I believe the average person is a machine that loses their ability to fully operate when integrating with a car and thus becomes this third abstract entity. An entity that is sub-optimal as a human and sub-optimal as a car. Thus the Carman.

Obviously, I’m being overly dramatic and harsh, but basically what I’m saying is: cars are not the perfect user experience. They’re not perfectly designed for human interaction and each person, depending on their own brain, may find themselves more or less capable of interacting with it successfully. Thus there is an immediate and overall loss of optimization when a human merges with a car. Humans are optimal as humans and cars optimal as cars, but the carman suffers from a loss of fidelity in bridging those communications. The translations aren’t perfect and this applies to all complex systems we interact with: computers, the Internet, your microwave, TV. We all fail to fully communicate with them as originally intended, but there are humans that know this and they compensate by understanding these machines at a deeper level to gain a higher level of proficiency. Professional drivers, programmers, technicians, engineers. The first step is to realize this intersection of man and machine exists and that an abstraction emerges that is neither you nor the system you’re interacting with. It’s something else. Something a little alien that needs to be understood separately from the two objects in question. Once you can do that, you can start to consciously correct errors that have eluded you your entire life rather than stumbling upon them accidentally.

Emerging Patterns 2018

Last updated: 2018-04-17

This post contains my suspicions and observations about society in 2018. They are not necessarily true or accurate. They are just a sampling of thoughts that occurred to me while reading the news or studying various topics online. You may disagree, that’s ok.

  1. Authoritarian concerns are mounting in Europe and the United States, perhaps elsewhere, on both sides of the political spectrum
    1. Counter: democracy appears to be weakening worldwide, but perhaps it is more a desire for justice that people want. Challenges to the system are disruptive, but maybe it strengthens it through a demand for change in law and social attitudes.
  2. Bitcoin may remain the “gold” of cryptocurrency, but alt coins will ultimately dominate the landscape; there may never be an ultimate “winner”
    1. Counter: powerful forces will shape and take control cryptocurrency by ultimately creating the platforms through which cryptocurrency is processed. You can own one or many different coins, but the final transactions are handled through large bank and corporate exchanges.
  3. Investments in artificial intelligence are on the rise and progress marches steadily forward
    1. Counter: artificial intelligence requires a far greater understanding of consciousness and may never take shape the way we anticipate. Our ultimate design may be one of intelligent systems that aid us over “conscious” machines that construct their own cultures and identities.
  4. Battery technology is improving slowly, but significantly
    1. Counter: fossil fuels may remain the most practical form of energy for the foreseeable future as we continue to extract them in large amounts from reserves throughout the world.
  5. Trash storage and management is becoming an increasing concern
    1. Counter: new technological strategies and clever business opportunities may result in improved recycling practices and abilities to breakdown materials or store them in new ways that reduce this stress on society.
  6. China is gaining world dominance, but is also facing mounting internal pressures that seem unsustainable
    1. Counter: China’s society undergoes a radical transformation like South Africa and the government peacefully transitions into something more globally sustainable and skyrockets as the world’s wealthiest and most powerful country of all time.
  7. Assassinations are still a prevalent threat to the rich and powerful
    1. Counter: improved forensics and investigative techniques along with surveillance and data mining make traditional crime virtually impossible to succeed at.
  8. Seafood is getting worse and more dangerous
    1. Counter: seafood is improved through technology that extracts contaminants, new international regulations that protect bodies of water, and improved fishery management that produce higher quality farm-raised seafood for commercial consumption
  9. Overcrowding and demand is increasing quickly; expect a future of queues, waits, and inconvenience
    1. Counter: clever strategies and redesigns of traditional roadways and queues eliminate a percentage of this growing inconvenience. Countries with vast populations like China hire more people to work service jobs to handle the influx of demand. Autonomous cars and machines increase efficiency.
  10. Small aircraft are still dangerous to own and operate despite advances made in aviation
    1. Counter: lessons and standards from the commercial airline industry blossom into the growing private aviation industry to make small jets and autonomous aircraft safer for everyday use.
  11. There have been more “legitimate” UFO sightings reported and more credible individuals confirming their existence
    1. Counter: the curve at which government technology has reached is further out than it has ever been before and we are catching glimpses of classified technology on accident.
  12. Drones and robotics are steadily increasing in quality and reliability
  13. Powerful entities and individuals are being indicted more frequently
    1. Counter: coverage of indictments are sensationalized or overly hyped while the number of corrupt individuals and illegal collusion remains steady or perhaps increases with an expanding world population.
    2. Double counter: with rising complexity and continually changing technology, the difficulty of “getting away with something” is increasing as well. Indictments will rise and the powerful will be more exposed and vulnerable than ever before.
  14. Space-faring businesses are slowly on the rise
    1. Counter: the barrier to entry for successful space-faring businesses may still be so high that expansion into space is many decades off.
  15. Virtual reality adoption (sales and people familiar with the technology) seems to be fairly slow overall
  16. We’re consuming increasingly contaminated water and food resulting in more long-term diseases and conditions like cancer
    1. Counter: standards are improving and regulations involving water and food are becoming more scientific and strict. This is merely our awareness coming to light and the issues will be resolved quickly and effectively.
  17. Pet and child tracking will become more common. This may lead to us tracking each other as well. Why not share that data with each other for peace of mind? We’ll expand this by tracking vital signs as well.
    1. Counter: privacy concerns will attempt to suppress this technology and it will be occasionally used against us to target and eliminate individuals. But overall I don’t think this technology will go away. We’ll choose to trade away privacy for security and comfort.
  18. The perceived value of human life is increasing with more access to technology that can keep us alive and with more time to spend thinking about ourselves. Philosophical thoughts reveal the depth and complexity of human life and our societies and that can result in a greater attachment to it.
    1. Counter: with overpopulation and greater conflict in the future, this “special” regard we give ourselves might falter due to focus being placed elsewhere. Philosophy is a luxury wealthy societies can afford, but if countries waver then it may diminish and return their citizens to a previous era of thought.
  19. Smaller and poorer nations are rapidly closing the gap with wealthy nations. Supply and demand is increasing. Populations are increasing. The world will soon have many countries all competing and operating at around the same level. Exploitation of weaker nations will diminish. Trade will blossom.
    1. Counter: increased demand will strain the world economy and production will not be able to keep pace. Disasters like pandemics and climate change will impact poorer nations the hardest. Competition will become fierce. These factors will keep wealthy nations ahead of the curve with the ability to suppress weaker nations from rising up.
  20. The effect of fame is becoming diluted. The culture of fame is becoming less popular. The importance of teamwork is being highlighted more frequently while the story of individual heroes is dying down. Heroes are unrealistic and unscientific. More countries are producing famous people which further dilutes the market.
    1. Counter: fame is ancient and will never cease to draw people’s attention. We are innately drawn to worship heroes because it is hardwired into us. The amount of famous people might increase, but there will always be mega-stars that people idolize. The heroes story will always be compelling. Teamwork is boring by comparison regardless of what it can accomplish.

The Desire for Justice

Why is there such a drive for violence and aggression? In my imagination, the thought of fighting back, giving the finger, or arguing with someone seems desirable. As if it would accomplish something important. One explanation might be the desire for justice. When someone wrongs me, even in a trivial way, I feel compelled to settle the issue. If it remains unresolved and I access the memory later, it will be tainted with negative emotions. I will feel unfairly wronged by the individual or institution without the subsequent positive emotion of justice being served. However, if I could equally return justice upon them and walk away from the situation feeling it was properly settled with no permanent damage, then the memory would feel reconciled or neutralized. It would have the positive feeling of fairness. However, you’re unlikely to ever “equally” reconcile an injustice. The result will always either slightly favor you or the source. It should also be noted that if you took justice too far, and it became revenge, then you might not achieve the goal of reconciliation. The memory would load with a feeling of negativity assuming you felt guilty for taking such extreme action. Especially if it was outside the realm of legality and you were worried about criminal charges. This also brings up justice optimization and counter-attacks from the source. If you were a sociopath or less concerned about fairness, you might always try to seek justice slightly beyond what you really deserve to ensure it’s not only neutralized, but that it benefits you. Not enough to become revenge, but more than what’s fair. The problem with this strategy might be the recursive nature of the source then feeling injustice in return and taking action back towards you. Eye for an eye mentality until someone surrenders, or worse. I could see this being problematic for society as injustices propagate through citizens unable to reconcile with the original source or mistakenly identifying the source. Additionally, I can also see how people might harbor feelings of injustice towards abstract concepts and institutions. Especially if there is confusion or a lack of understanding. I’d imagine that these injustices could stack and severely skew your perspective on government, exclusive groups, different types of people, powerful individuals, and many other entities. Perhaps this is where blame comes in because there is no realistic way to resolve the injustices you believe exist. If all the government is to blame for not executing in your desired fashion, what could you possibly do to resolve that injustice? Complaints and blame allow you to feel victimized and shifts the burden of responsibility off of you. What if all that exists because you simply have unresolved injustices? And what if those injustices are not even accurate? You might be living inside a fantasy world of your own making where you feel marginalized by “evil entities” you don’t really understand.

Strategic decision-making

It’s not about the moment and making spontaneous decisions, it’s about planning for the future. For example, in this moment, as I try to fall asleep, I could listen to music. If I chose Radiohead my future would be different than if I chose Daft Punk. This is because my brain chemistry would react differently to the different styles of music and thus different thoughts would emerge and lead me down a different cognitive paths. As a result, the innumerable decisions I’ve made and not made, large and small, to reach this point could never be fully realized. There are just too many options to manage, even in a single day or a single hour. Instead, it’s about programming yourself to utilize tools and discipline to continuously shape your future. Your momentary self should almost be on autopilot attempting to achieve the strategic goals the other side of your mind is planning for. This means you need to understand yourself and learn methods to manage the chemistry and situations that arise each day and alter them in your favor. It’s a long game of carefully crafted statistical choices which means the sooner you start the better you may fare later in life. The other way I’ve imagined it is like a radial menu from the “Sims” video game franchise. Each moment has a menu available to it with a myriad of options to choose from. You tend to choose the ones that are most similar to past decisions or most comfortable to you, but the others are available if you’re feeling daring or adventurous. And who knows what other realities could exist if you started to choose the other options. That’s where this goes off the rails and you realize how insignificant your decision-making powers might be. Have you ever made a truly conscious decision before? And even if you have, it may be one decision out of hundreds or thousands made in a day. Is that even significant? Does that really affect the outcome in any meaningful way? That’s why it may be more about long-term strategy than momentary decision-making because developing mental tools shapes the statistical outcomes over time. Instead of trying to manage the unmanageable mass of decisions immediately in front of you, you can rely on more abstract systems to make those decisions for you. Then you can spend your conscious effort improving those tools so that as situations arise you make the right, productive, and principled decision.

Additional note: I came to this conclusion after auditing my own decisions throughout many days over the past couple years. There seems to be decisions I make that are automated, but not with any strategic foresight applied to them. They are relics from my past life that don’t really benefit me in any way. They’re bad habits or laziness or just unaware actions that could be replaced with something more useful. To understand this, I think you need to reflect on your actions and pay close attention to the things you do during the day and consider alternatives that might be more efficient, more kind, more courteous, more productive, and just better overall. Also, to clarify the Sims reference, you can search Google Images for “sims radial menu” to get a visual of what I’m talking about. I imagine that this menu pops up at any significant decision-making moment and if you intercept your normal thought process you can make a different decision before your automated self clicks the button that is most expected or comfortable. This can help break patterns of bad behavior and reveal new insights about other options you might never consider otherwise.

A Consistent Foundation

Ok, I’m talking through the problem and it just occurred to me that maybe the strategy of defining precise objectives isn’t the answer. Maybe it should be about defining routines based around universal constants. Things that never change. Projects and objectives should NOT be part of the strategy at all. Consistent routine should be entirely about when you wake, what you eat, what order you do your basic necessities in, and the meaningful rituals you perform and have no reference to your end goals. Those only fit in when you have free time between these other activities. You’re basically building a foundation upon which only the strongest, universal elements are constructed. The things that won’t change now or in the future and won’t change even if you do. Everything else lives inside it, but is not a part of the structure. That way you can be both consistent and dynamic.

The black and blue bubble

During the day we live inside a comfortable blue bubble, but at night things are revealed for what they are. The vast darkness of space, the dark nightmare that surrounds us, the dangers that lurk within.

Ceaseless execution

There is nothing more to discuss, just a firm resolve forward into silence. Executing on task after task in a futile effort to fill a nameless void. Ceaselessly, until the end of time.

Somewhere, deep in a dark place, a solitary statue stirs and a crack forms down its side…

One step forward, two steps back

The more I learn the more I understand why people work so hard to succeed. It’s because we all start so far away from any meaningful end game. Each insight takes me one step forward rationally, but it feels like a net loss because my position on the game board becomes more clear. It’s almost as if the more I learn the further backwards I find myself. It’s an interesting dilemma because moving forward increases my intelligence and allows me to see reality more clearly, but it paints a much bleaker picture overall. I wonder if there is a way to negate the effect of moving backwards by somehow accurately pinpointing your position on the game board so new insights only felt like a step forward? Basically you would be taking a huge hit up front, probably devastating your ego, but then recovering in a position that actually wasn’t delusional.

Shifting focus

Logic, rationality, philosophy, and science. These pursuits construct tools inside your mind for interpreting reality. It then becomes less an aimless struggle for self-awareness and more about cultivating good decisions over a long stretch of time. A game of statistics that’s less focused on you as an individual and more on navigating an external game board. How do you maximize your successes? What direction are you traveling in? Knowing who you are is still important, but maybe you are equally defined by the path forward as by the path behind.

Selfishness is an adjustable calculation

Being thoughtful and labeled as someone who thinks about others is yet another calculation. There are 24 hours in a day, you sleep on average 8 of them, you spend another 10-12 working, at school, or tending to necessities. That leaves 4-6 hours each day that you can customize to your liking. Those 4-6 precious hours are yours to spend however you wish and those who are more selfish spend a higher percentage of them thinking about themselves and their own endeavors. Let’s say the average person spends 5% of their time thinking about others in some meaningful way while a selfish person spends 1%. Let’s then average 4-6 hours to 5 and convert it to minutes = 300 minutes. At 5% that is 15 minutes per day that the average person goes out of their way to really think about another person’s well-being and ways they could help improve it. 1% would be 3 minutes. Someone who is “thoughtful” might adjust that percentage to 10% and spend 30 minutes per day thinking about others. The point is, we go about our days not reflecting on how we really spend our time, and even less on adjusting them to reach our goals. By consciously recognizing this fact, you have the power every day to change how you spend your free time. And this thought process applies to many different things, not just your level of selfishness. For awhile, I conducted an experiment using Toggl where I tracked every minute of my day for weeks. It revealed new insights about how I really spend my time and, as a result, who I really am. The second level after that, is the realization that small adjustments, tweaking your day just slightly, changes the long-term statistics of your behavior and the results. A 1% increase towards selflessness, over a long period of time, could result in all sorts of unexpected benefits from the extra 3 minutes per day, 21 minutes per week, or 18 hours per year. That’s the power of recognizing how numbers can influence your life.

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