Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/#9a417fe513f58988c3b5b1e84cfc57397194a79b 2017-12-13T13:50:56Z Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/ ranprieur@gmail.com December 13. http://ranprieur.com/#9eee4c14d7ed5ed41e1a30f48481452eecedae52 2017-12-13T13:50:56Z December 13. On the subreddit a reader just posted something I wrote six years ago, about high-tech artificial worlds and what they contribute to the world that contains them. I started a comment there which I'll expand into today's post: my latest thought is that the internet is the matrix. We're seeing what really happens in the early stages of the creation of a global artificial reality.

Fifteen years ago, the internet was the most amazing thing ever. Since then it has been improved into a clunky mess of addictive traps, annoying distractions, and seductive lies. It's getting harder to use the internet in a way that makes life better, but now it's almost impossible to live without it.

What went wrong? The behavior of any subworld is shaped by the values of the containing world, and human society does not hold up human improvement as its highest goal, or even human happiness. Its highest goal is the leveraging of power into more power. So increasingly that's what the internet is being used for.

This is oddly related to all the sexual assault stuff that's coming out, because that's a reason to seek power, to make powerless people do sexual stuff they'd rather not do. Somewhere someone is thinking, "Damn, if powerful people have to follow the same sex rules as losers now, what's even the point?"

My utopian vision is to shine the light way beyond sexual assault, eventually at everything we don't feel like doing but some authority commands it. When power no longer enables coercion, then it's no longer power as we know it, only responsibility, and only the best people will seek it. (That's how we fix personal power, but institutional power is a harder problem.)

December 11. http://ranprieur.com/#8da5c45659e7bf0ec24bc6309f82cafb5a9c3eda 2017-12-11T23:30:06Z December 11. Continuing on the subject of antisocial media, we're all in a war for attention, and I've been seeing it from the perspective of a content creator: there are all these abstract messages, competing for views from disconnected eyes. Readers remind me of the view from the other side: those eyes are people with social needs. We have a biological expectation of sitting around a campfire with friends and family, and the attention you get from other people is what makes you feel valuable and real.

The digital campfire seems much improved. You can share more exciting stuff, faster, to more people, anywhere. But this bandwidth is bottlenecked by the same human biology. The dizzying spectacle becomes the new baseline, and we're no happier. The medium is infested with parasitic robots, so less human attention gets through to actual humans, who have some sense of the quantity of attention they're getting, but no sense of the quality.

Even if you get face to face with people, you're competing with their phones -- and they're competing with yours -- because what's on the phone really is more interesting.

I'm not sure how we'll get out of this trap as a society, but as an individual, you get out of it through a commitment to going into boredom and out the other side. I just read this in an email: "It's crazy that when I am not on my computer, I find myself doing creative projects out of boredom. I think that's how it is supposed to work!"

And another line from my weed journal: "When you burn out looking for beauty in beautiful things, look for beauty in ugly things."

December 8. http://ranprieur.com/#1a97ea2c0f3731d0e6ea2abefe4a61cf2ec87a8e 2017-12-08T20:00:38Z December 8. When I was in high school and college, back in the 1980's, I don't think I even once heard the words "social anxiety". I mean it existed, but it wasn't enough of a problem that ordinary people gave it a name. Now it's everywhere, and I don't think it's limited to the millennial generation, because I've got it too, and worse than when I was younger. So where does it come from?

Yesterday, cog-boosted by cannabis, I wrote this: "Does the internet cause anxiety by normalizing a socially easier simworld?" In more words: The internet is an unprecedented global artificial world (I call it Internesia) in which social behavior has looser rules and less serious consequences than the world of modern society. If you're at a job interview, or at a party, or even just going to the store, the rules are tighter and the stakes are higher than when you're goofing off anonymously in some comment thread.

So what happens to someone who spends more time on the internet than out in society? The easier world becomes the new baseline, and what used to be the normal world now feels difficult and frightening. As the social internet grows, this happens to more and more people.

Notice that I haven't used the word "real", because even before computers our world was already unreal. If we avoid social interaction for being difficult and frightening, then why do we embrace the danger of something like rock climbing? Because it's a better fit for our bodies and minds than the nightmare of modernity. It used to be rare for teenagers to cut themselves, and now it's almost normal, because the pain of our culture has wandered so far from human nature that the pain of drawing blood feels comforting. It's a cliche now that Orwell was wrong and Huxley was right, but I think the guy who really nailed it was Kafka.

Anyway, I'm so serious about this that I've decided to slash my internet time, especially Reddit, which might reduce my posting.

December 6. http://ranprieur.com/#e223cf48765d7503441fe11d689b03f6f33dbd73 2017-12-06T18:40:05Z December 6. It's been a while since I posted a bunch of links about what's wrong with the world. This article from the Guardian has a lot more about last week's subject: 'Our minds can be hijacked': the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia. There's some good stuff about how the atmosphere of competing for scarce attention has made politics shallower and more impulsive. Also, I trimmed this bit from the original URL: "?CMP=share_btn_fb"

Related: an abstract of a scientific article, The influence of the number of toys in the environment on toddlers' play. Unsurprisingly, "an abundance of toys present reduced quality of toddlers' play," and "fewer toys at once may help toddlers to focus better and play more creatively." Obviously this is also true for adults.

Another long one from the Guardian, sent by a reader, From inboxing to thought showers: how business bullshit took over. It covers the whole 20th century, and ten years ago my take would have been, "Look at all the ways that evil corporations have tried to trick their workers." Now I'm thinking, look at all the ways that well-meaning humans have tried to make a better world, but it remains impossible in a social mechanism that puts profit first.

From Reddit, a good rant against suburbs, arguing that bad urban design has poisoned American culture and politics.

The Switch to Outdoor LED Lighting Has Completely Backfired. Instead of reducing energy consumption, cities are burning the same amount of energy to create more light pollution.

Related, and written with spirit: Bitcoin = Death Processors. The rules for generating bitcoins make it increasingly difficult and expensive, proportional to computers getting more powerful, so that more and more real resources go into something completely imaginary and useless. It reminds me of one of the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy books, where Earth's first humans used leaves as currency, and then to make their value meaningful, they burned the forests.

December 4. http://ranprieur.com/#855b9a5a0dbb5d91f63c86fba8c73f095294287c 2017-12-04T16:20:49Z December 4. No ideas today, so here are three old Ask Reddit threads on the same subject. This fascinates me because I have low intuitive intelligence and I'm envious.

Have you ever had a gut feeling that something was bad so you left, only to find out that something bad actually did happen?

Have you ever had a "something isn't right" feeling, and you were right?

What's the craziest gut feeling you have ever had that actually became true?

December 1. http://ranprieur.com/#d223ba3d71ea77a494b64804924df9ca428f7e29 2017-12-01T13:50:53Z December 1. Drugs and music for the weekend. Brazil Is Giving Prisoners Ayahuasca as Part of Rehabilitation.

I meant to post this a long time ago and forgot: What Science Says To Do If Your Loved One Has An Opioid Addiction.

With music, as a general rule, back in the classic rock era the good stuff was popular, and in this century the good stuff is obscure. But there are exceptions. From 1971, with 44k YouTube views, Exuma - 22nd Century. From 1975, with 14k views, Big Star - Kangaroo. And from 1968, with under 3000 views between this and another video, The Turtles - Can't You Hear The Cows?

And three great somewhat popular songs, all from 2006: Band of Horses - The Funeral, and The Black Angels - Young Men Dead, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Cheated Hearts.