Aug. 4th, 2006

oneirophrenia: (Fascist Pink)
Nothing really developed here, mind you--I'm just jotting ideas down so I can look them up later and maybe do something with them.

1. I've recently begun to think about how children learn--how young humans' brains acquire information, especially language/musical knowledge. Those little neural nets are wide open and absorbent as polyacrylic sponges, waiting for programming. Programming naturally comes about through basic observation, listening, and play....Anyone who has witnessed a 14-month-old's absolute hunger for novelty, exploration, and mimicry knows what I'm talkin' about here! But...the process doesn't necessarily have to be completely random, or directed entirely by the child. I envision a Secret Gubermint Experiment in the near future in which children are raised in carefully-structured "cognitive environments" specially designed to literally program them, from Day One, for certain forms of thinking: i.e., mathematical/logical analysis, intuitive creative thinking, and so forth--all with the goal of engineering the near-future equivalent of Frank Herbert's Mentats. Mind you, this doesn't necessarily need to be a Secret Gubermint Experiment--it could very well be done by a Mad Scientist of some sort with adopted or abandoned children...and, yes, before you even ask: if I had children of my own, this wouldn't be fiction. But, anyway. Naturally, the Experiment goes south eventually simply because unbioneered human neural networks are characterized by global neural plasticity, which means that even in highly "pre-patterned" regions such as language centers that are prettymuch built to absorb a specific type of information in a specific way at a specific time, there's still a huge amount of chaos involved in the process. You can pour scads of a certain type of information into a forming human brain, but that does NOT mean you can engineer or pattern them completely by structured feedback and education. One of the greatest advantages --and, at the same time, disadvantages of the human brain is that it's so variable and adaptive. The same basic physical complex that produced Stephen Hawking also produced the mouth-breathing refuse I saw mucking about KMart tonight. Design feature upgrade for Human 2.0: More deterministic development model for >H neurologics.

2. So...what happens to the Middle East and the so-called "Arabic World" when the Acceleration kicks in across Europe, North America, and Asia--the First World nations/cultures? I generally see the "Singularity" period as a potentially hopeful period, but one cannot be too optimistic, because historical and technological developments are never wholly "good" or "bad"--those appellations can only be given to applications of that technology. I rather like "Dark Singularity" stories that focus on how the Acceleration could (and, realistically, probably will) grind certain populations into the dirt. Imagine, if you will, that what partially drives the Singularity is military developments in the US, EU, and China that are used to prosecute the ongoing "War on Terror" in the Middle East. By the 2050s, the Islamic East will be nothing but a depopulated wasteland scoured of almost all native life thanks to nuclear, biological, and eventually nanotechnological weaponry and almost half a century of nonstop lowlevel war (not only against the "West", but among Sunni and Shi'a Islamic sects as well). All the great oilfields are occupied by low-level Western and opportunistic African powers who still need petrol to literally feul their tech-base; many of these oilfield regions are now populated by imported "colonists" from North and South America, Eastern Europe, and Africa...and actual natives--the few still alive--are regarded as little more than sad beggars to be rounded up into "Cultural Reservations." The great warzones of Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan/Pakistan are haunted by nanoweapons and abandoned robot systems that will kill any human that they stumble upon....But there are still small pockets of free Kurds, Afghans, and so forth living god-awful "Mad Max"-like lives in the useless (to the West) regions like the Afghan high country and mountains. This story would naturally be told from the point of view of an older man, a former teacher of Arabic literature at a university in...say, Afghanistan--who, in his sixty-four years of life--has literally watched his world ground into dust by Western powers who, every year, grew stranger and stranger as they became more posthuman, and by sectarian violence and religious idiocy on the part of his own people. This man is highly-educated, urbane, liberal, technologically-savvy, and a devout Muslim. His only "crime" was standing by his own people--his family, his friends, his fellow believers--when the War on Terror began, and he found himself trapped between a Western bloc that was gradually seeing Muslims in general as an undifferentiated threat, and zealous jihadists among his own culture. We're talking tragedy here, people.

But then, one day, a man from Upper Kuwait--an orbital platform built by Kuwaiti survivors of the Oil/Terror Wars--descends to Earth looking to save those people left behind. The Upper Kuwaitis have gone hardcore transhuman and are riding the wave of Acceleration right toward the posthuman condition, and this fellow wants to make amends for his family and people having abandoned other Muslims by gathering them all together and carting them up into orbital habitats under the aegis of his polity. But...will they want to go? How can people brutalized by half a century of war and a cultural conflict of the most profound proportions ever learn to trust anyone again--especially a man who's more machine than organic?

This idea is actually lies fairly close to my heart. I like Islamic culture. When Europe was enjoying a nice Dark Age courtesy of the Roman Church, the Islamic world was producing incredible art, preserving Classical Roman and Greek culture and knowledge, laying the foundations of contemporary chemistry and medicine, and just generally keeping things together. What happened? It seems like, when the Ottoman Empire collapsed, a great portion of the Islamic world began to sink into idiotic fundamentalism and ethnic insanity. It's hard these days even for me to look at the Islamic World and realize that it's not all composed of religious maniacs and tinpot dictators--I mean, look at North Africa. Egypt's got its act together (well, Egypt has always had its act together, from Day One), as does Kuwait and--surprise--Libya.

Freakin' sad.

By the SAC!

Aug. 4th, 2006 01:44 am
oneirophrenia: (Girl I Like Bear 2)
Deckchair traps Croatian man BY THE BALLS.

I feel your pain, my Hrvatski brother.
oneirophrenia: (South Pegritz!)
My cellphone has died, again. For the ninetieth time. It lost all signal around 11pm, and went black around 1am. I thought it had just--mysteriously--lost all battery power (as it has done a number of times), so I plugged it in. Black. Blach crash, people. It wouldn't even light up with the little charging indicator.

This particular model of phone has been replaced five times for me...and each one has had the exact same problems: loss of signal, loss of battery power, and, ultimately, the Black Screen of Complete and Utter death. I have an insurance plan on my phone that has (I shit you not) replaced this thing four times, though the fifth time it was replaced the folks at CellOne actually replaced it because there was some kind of specific defect in the model that had caused the last death and Motorola was replacing phones who'd died that way for free.

I am NOT getting this one replaced. I never want another model of phone like this again.

Mind you...I have NO money to go and get a new phone, so until further notice, I'm using my mom's cellphone again. You can reach me there at 724-557-1857 (I think that's the number). I won't have voicemail, though, so be aware. I also don't know most of your numbers, so if you need me, CALL ME FIRST.

BTW: The dead phone is now 150% extra-dead. I popped my SIM card out of it and safely stored it away (I hope it didn't get fried or something), then took the phone out and beat it into tiny little shards on the sidewalk with a ten-pound ballpeen hammer. Sometimes, you just need to destroy that which has caused you so much grief. Huzzah for the psychopathic Croat temper! When I get that pissed off, I simply have to smash something inanimate into oblivion or my nuts swell and I end up stuck in a deckchair.

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