Technological faith, bots outnumbering humans, therapeutic bots, android detection, and more.
Hi there. I met a cool internet person who does their own little internet thing and they put a "theme song" for their piece that was so charming I thought I wanted to try it too. Here's something for you to listen to while you read this one -- fittingly, titled, Monday.
Whether it's to build "a god-like being of infinite knowing (the singularity); an escape of the flesh and this limited world (uploading our minds); a moment of transfiguration or ‘end of days’ (the singularity as a moment of rapture); prophets (even if they work for Google); demons and hell (even if it’s an eternal computer simulation of suffering), [or] evangelists who wear smart suits (just like the religious ones do)", transhumanists believe some crazy shit. But it's cool. Most of us do. Life is just more interesting that way.
As the article discusses, a bot can help you deal with digitizing details like mood tracking, or even acting as a sounding board, but I can't help but I'd feel like a moron spilling all of my problems to a robot. Why not just get a dog? (Oh. Because I live in an apartment and work a 9-5.) Not to mention concerns about data mining, privacy leaks, there's the depressing realization that I can't really afford proper therapy, and this is a real second-rate solution to having a friend who cares and understands to talk to.
Clearly, you can see I'm really bumming on the idea (maybe I do need therapy)--but on the upswing, if you don't go into with a completely skeptical point of view and use it for what it is, you could actually get something off your chest or out of your mind or find a way to learn to examine yourself, which is the most powerful skill of all. Even writing a letter and then throwing it away helps--it's the act of expression, not necessarily the act of communication that matters.
But I disagree. If you ask me, the public comment process, when truly opened up to the public (by which I mean literally everyone), becomes meaningless noise anyway. Important decisions like these, which have money and power at stake, are always decided by the oligarchs and/or the privileged and informed. A public comment section is a farce if those who hold it don't actually intend to listen to those with opinions to voice. Skepticism aside, we can solve some of these democratic issues by open-sourcing and making publicly available tools that can quickly analyze databases of commentary alongside publicly-provided user information to figure out what information is credible and what isn't. There will always be bots trying to manipulate minds and information, but most of them are dumb and not well-orchestrated--we have the technology necessary to analyze and detect them. I'm not saying this would be easy to do, but it is certainly possible to do.
Storytime! Want to hear the story of how I found out that I wasn't an android? (Warning: this is gross.) When I was five, I was on a vegetable farm helping farmers because my mother was a chef. There was a huge conveyor belt there, rolling boxes full of veggies into the back of a truck. My mother had warned me not to get the drawstrings of my sweatpants stuck in the gears that were in the conveyor belt--the belt had no protective paneling on the side. As it happened, I didn't get my drawstrings stuck--nope, instead I suddenly realized that my fingers were stuck in the gears, being crushed between the rotating teeth of the gears. I yanked my fingers out, and found that the index and thumb fingers on my left hand were hanging just by shreds of skin. No metal or circuitry to be found!
And what happened after? I went to the ER, they stitched my fingers back on, I got a teddy bear named Christopher, and a month or two later of living with a cast my fingers were back to normal with full function and feeling. Modern medicine is fucking amazing. Although I still have scars--and my left thumb is a little shorter than my right. (Granted - they could have made me into an android since then. I have no way of knowing.)