donderdag, maart 03, 2005

Robots to Watch Children Showcased

Oh No again!
As I said in the article below. Soon we won't be able to make any move without 'being watched'. It all began with the moment mankind started banging stones against eachother to sharpen them and use them as a tool. That's when we started 'manipulating' the environment to suit us better. Why? We are programmed that way, like all living beings; just to survive. The quest for survival is all about reducing uncertainty. That's basically what 'we' call technology: The capacity to adapt the environment to an ever greater extent, hence reducing uncertainty. And that's the only thing that happens.

Well, let me start by explaining my view on the difference between something being alive and something dead (or not alive):

'Dead' things like a table or a window or whatever consist of fixed molecular structures. The only 'respons' you'll get from 'them' is laid out in the rules of physics. You bang on a table, nothing happens (the molecular structures stay in place, although if you bang hard enough, they might break. When exactly does the table break > physics).

'Living' things consist of cells. Big bags of water basically in which molecular structures freely 'float' around, waiting for an assigment from 'their boss' (DNA). Assignments? Well, yes. Living systems have a natural tendency to 'expand', to grow. (and dead things just stay as they are, with the laws of physics just impacting them over time). Living systems 'want to' reduce the chance that the laws of physics have 'm end up dead. If a rock falls down, are you gonna wait until it hits your head, or do you step aside? Exactly. If a rock falls again, you'll step aside again. And if yet another rock falls... Ultimately we want to know why these damn rocks keep falling down and we wonder if there's something we can do about it; Uncertainty reduction.
The same goes for cathing the flu or anything, we don't want to get sick, we might die! So we start figuring out how all that works. One human started sneezing and you wonder why 3 days later you are sneezing as well: We have to figure out how this works. Etcetera, etcetera..

So, does all this development make us happy? Are we happier than, say, we were 200 years ago? I have no idea, since I don't remember being around 200 years ago, but I do have a hunch: No!
Why? Because the essence of Live = Uncertainty. That's why nowadays you see people skydiving, rockclimbing without ropes, etc.: We need uncertainty, because that's what's fun! And once all uncertainty is gone, well, so is the meaning of live!

But then again, everything is relative. The only thing a human ever gets to know is the world in which he/she lives at that moment (or 80 years or something). All you do is just trying to survive. So in this current world I studied, for instance, because it will increase the change of my survival. In the world, say 2000 years ago, I might have tried something else to increase my survival-change, cause hey, study? Let's just try to survive those damn Romans. Everytime they walk by on their horses, they kill all men and make slaves of the women; you know what I'm gonna do? I'm going to learn how to fight! There's no right, there's no wrong, there's only popular opinion..

So what's the problem?
On the one hand, there isn't! Things change, they always did. But, technological development comes at an exponential rate. It always did, it does so by mathematical definition: The better your technology, the better your capacity to develop better technologies. And so on. this has always been the rule. Had we ever figured out the human genome without fast computer chips? I don't think so Tim!

So technological development always causes things to change. We have been on that road of exponentiality ever since we 'set foot' on this planet. Nothing new. But because we have been on this road for quite a while now, the absolute speed with which things change has gotten pretty darn high! (just think of computers). The problem or challenge here is the capacity of human beings to adapt to this speedy development (is it legal to download music? What do we do with spam? Cameraphones are being forbidden in more and more places, like swimming pools and stuff). But what rule will governments come up with when you cannot even see the camera anymore with the naked eye? Huh? What if your clothes are computers as well, or aren't they? My T-shirt might be filming you right now, because the chip and all required sensors have been produced on a molecular scale, and have now been put, by the thousands, in the paint with which my T-shirt was colored.

All this shit will come in the next decade! Chips so small, you can't see them. Then what? Can you control a chip you cannot see? Yes! No problem! But what if their are 6 billion people and trillions of chips 'around'. The problem is not in the chips themselves, it's in the perceived uncertainty. I remember sitting in the train 2 days ago and this guy sitting opposite of me was playing with his phone. Problem for me: it was a camera-phone, so the camera was constantly focused on me. I didn't mind that, I just wanted to know for sure he wasn't making pictures of me.. No way to be sure... Total worlwide Paranoia is coming my fellow human beings..

We are on the wrong track damnit! The road of uncertainty reduction that we are walking now, is exponential too, just like technological development itself: the more uncertainty we reduce, the more we'll feel the need to reduce uncertainty more (what? :). The only aspect about this whole damn development that makes me smile, is this: I am fully aware of the fact that we can't do anything about all this, because there is no we. We have to deal with 6 billion opinions! What a full-blown Cassandra-complex here. To only thing we can do is on an individual level: To be aware of our fear (and so it should be as a living system) for anything that's uncertain and deal with it! Deal with it in the best possible way: the way that makes you happiest in the end. Accept some uncertainty! Don't install spy-software if you don't trust your spouse, don't have robots check on your kids, don't get frustrated when you have to wait in line for 10 minutes. Just imagine you were born 500 years ago and then look at today's world: Wauw! Look at all the great things we have invented that make our lives so much easier! Isn't it great that when you wake up, there's light? 4 generations ago, they didn't have that. Isn't it great that all you have to do to get all the food you'll ever want and more, is to go to one place (that we call the supermarket). We are soo rich, fucking enjoy it! Smile! Your focus determines your reality!

Anyway, enjoy the article about Microsoft's Teddy Bear/Robot/Big Brother-tool!

With love,

Jarno de Vries