Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Memeing of Life

The Memeing of Life


Blogs an such online places like here, F’book, Pintrest, Reddit, Tumblr etc. they all thrive on the Meme’s, but what is a Meme? It’s funny usually, yes?! It’s always bite sized. No long discourse or reading required to “get” the joke, so what makes a Meme so appealing? And why do we all seem to be so addicted to them?

Definitly go to that link – it’s a short article, much like the subject, but to put it in an even smaller nutshell: a Meme is an idea with a life of its own and it propagates through our culture transforming people’s thoughts or even ideologies and often is being transformed as well, as it travels from person to person.

You might liken it to a mental parasite if you happen to dislike the Meme in question, or you might call it a mental symbiote if you view the meme in question a little more favorably. Or you just might laugh and send it on to some other folks you think would like it, and or put your own spin on it first and then send it on.
Meme’s also bind people together, in a sense they can become shibboleths or serve as sign post in jokes that define a community. In fact I think they serve more in this sense then as a means of educating or sharing ideas. Here’s a few from the Atheist/Non-Religious community, going back in time we have: 

 The Flying Spaghetti Monster  FSM – a Joke religion. Our current favorite fake religion jokes on the creationists beliefs and has fun details about life with wenching and beer.

Invisible Pink Unicorn – a joke religion http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn
This one is very 90's

 A joke religion used as a satirical device and to prove to religious that they can't really prove the existence of god.  

Bob and the cult of the subgenius – a joke religion started in the 70's and is also making fun of alien abduction and other hippie dippiness.  Emphasis on the commercialism of mainstream religions.

Satanists – a real religion - possibly started as a joke 60's 70's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_Satan   They start from a point of Atheism and go from there.

Now though it might seem similar don’t get Tropes confused with Memes. Tropes are literary devices, like annotations meant to inform writers and readers alike. Names of Tropes might seem Meme like but they’re definitional and meant to apply to multiple applications / works of writing. So in a sense Tropes are more like Archetypes than Meme’s.


Archetypes are symbols, rich with history, and allegory. Concepts like the Trickster and the hero, snakes and apples etc. – okay all of these have more applications than just literary but I’m focusing there for convenience, however, my head is about to explode with all these different terms!!!
So many different words and ways to analyze our culture, maybe it’s necessary?!, maybe just because there are so many different cultures, writitngs and means of communication now? Well anyway, let me have a little face plant time. . .

So maybe Archetypes are the really old tropes, you know the oldest – Snaaaake! -

 wink, wink, nudge nudge! 

Monty Python bit

And Tropes are now more from the wiki links simple word descriptions based on real world examples, here have a plot coupon, - ah hah! I saw what you did there! analysis with jargon to please us writer geeks and then Meme’s are Meta billboards for our oh so short attention span culture that allow us to talk about difficult subjects with a deflecting sense of humor at play.
Whew! Glad that’s done, (note how I’m using Meme’s to illustrate the other two concepts!!) now go back to your regularly scheduled life of meme’s which is indistinguishable from what we were just doing.. .


Friday, September 12, 2014


Apocalypse Stew: Where are we heading?

So though we’ve defined Atheism as a lack of belief in Gods, Atheism has of course become more than just a point of view concerning religion. Whether or not non-religious choose to identify with Atheists, there are often issues in the world that we all hold in common esteem. Human rights, health, science and knowledge about our world – just to name a few, and there’s also still so many unanswered questions about our universe, or our own minds.

For instance, there is that wishful thought of a soul, - that question has so far eluded proof. We all have wondered what dying will feel like. It doesn’t help to know that we’ll all get to experience it eventually. Death can’t help but sound like an unpleasant experience, and our lack of personal knowledge about it may be making it seem much worse than it actually will be, kind of like your anticipation of going to the Dentist when you’ve never been before but heard stories. . . Since many of us will probably be brought down by a slow degrading disease or organ failure brought about by “old age” there is a real likelihood that you’ll get sick of enduring the discomfort of life and will actually welcome the end. As I said before, we value time and energy, if you’ve got time but no energy and no ability to do anything except a drug induced sleep, is that really a life worth living?

Brain death is unavoidable, but with technological progress going the way it is, many are wondering when Scientists will develop a way to copy a person’s mind – as in down load it into a computer. Oh no! don’t think that’s transplanting your awareness out of your body and into a computer, even if an ambulatory android like computer, no you’ll still get to endure death in your physical, human body. If the copy is made of your brain though while you’re dying. . .will your copied mind then have a valuable insight into what death feels like? Will that memory be worth keeping, will your copied mind want to re-experience it? Or will it be something best forgotten? like the pangs of birth?
Sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it? Sure, but then I remember watching Star Trek Next Generation, Deep Space Nine etc. and thinking their little tablet books for writing and reading looked like an awesome thing that I wanted, but devices like that seemed a long way off back in the 90’s, am I right?! This is why many of us say we’re living in the future!
The prediction of the Singularity
There’s this future event predicted – some people will call it an apocalyptic event, but it might not be, it might actually be both the best and worst thing that ever happens to our species, but what it is really, is just the natural extension of Moore’s Law. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law#Futurists_and_Moore.27s_law

It’s called the Technological Singularity. It’s a point at which the combination of AI, bioengineering of humans and computing power lead to development of ever increasing artificial intelligence and further technological development progressing beyond human beings’ capacity to understand. Think about that for a moment.

What will it mean for humanity? Other than the very real possibility that we could retain copies of the deceased’ minds on a computer hard drive? Imagination soars at the possibilities and then there’s the fear.* This technological event is important particularly because we cannot speculate with any confidence about what will become possible. One thing seems likely to me though, and that is finally the existence of disembodied people, as close as we may ever get to ghosts or spirits. These disembodied voices or formerly living citizens of the world may only ever exist in a virtual reality, it might not be a viable expense to have large numbers of android people walking about but if we do, it may seem more like the television series Dollhouse with temporary downloads for specific missions or duties.

One thing I must point out is that if human minds are transferred into android bodies, then the questions of the rights of these transhumans will become an issue with the still living humans. This is of course assuming nothing bad happens with our development of AI. 
Let’s hope Humanity can be a good collective parent to the incipient higher intelligence because unlike humans parenting humans, the AI will be able to check our “facts” instantly, and so will know exactly when someone is trying to bullshit them. If they also have access to the collective memories and experiences of the copied human minds, then they’ll probably not be as prone to being talked into an illogical corner, - a la Captain Kirk’s strategy with computers from Star Trek.

How the AI develops its consciousness, whether it has empathy for humans? or if we try to control its development with programing? All of these things will inform how this event will develop and what life will be like afterwards.

Chart of AI Components

*Take a look at Science Fiction. People have been speculating about horrific things coming about in the future due to technology for years. There’s a tremendous fear of technology running through so much of our culture and it shows up in most Science Fiction, especially movies and television.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Acting as Primate?

Please don’t mistake me, I’m only a synecdoche. . . 

This doesn’t seem like it really should be necessary but here goes – I am only human and anything I say here, or share, any references or annotations I include, are not meant to be the sum of all knowledge to be found on said subjects. I am not a “professional” a “Subject Matter Expert” or any other type of “Authority”. So that being said, any annotations I do provide should of course be taken as only a first step. A beginning in getting your own take on a subject I’m posting about. Another words, don’t take my word for anything, do the research yourself, - educate yourself. Don’t accept anything I say as Gospel/Fact/Truth without verifying it yourself. If you do decide to skip verifying, don’t blame me if you embarrass yourself.

That being said, I am of course also no more typical of today’s Atheist than any other pea in a pod might be of all vegetables. And though I might quip that I’m 98% chimp that doesn’t mean that I think I’m a good representative example of all primates*. Though I might be an adequate example of Homo Sapiens.
(*If Alien Abduction is really happening who knows what Aliens might be looking for, maybe to an Alien I would be a good example of a primate – to them I’m sure both would be considered “Earthlings” … I can’t help but remember some old joke I’d heard years ago- Aliens: “We’ve been anal probing earthlings for 75 cycles now, and the only conclusion we’ve come to is that 1 in 4 don’t seem to mind.” (Wish I could remember whose joke it was, since my memory has probably changed it a bit, I’ll have a tough time searching.))

As for any instances where I’m wrong? Well I’ll own that, - I did say I’m only human. You should have known what you were getting into from the start, I mean, you’re on the Internet!? What were you thinking? Did you think just cuz something’s written down that must mean it’s a fact!? There’s lots of bound pieces of shite called books too, some of them are probably useful, truth filled, but how do you know? All it takes is money/resources to “publish” a book. It could say anything in there, like that all women are descended from one woman who was made out of a piece of some guy’s rib cage. . .