History of the Far Future

I love fiction and non-fiction stories that imagine the far, far future. One can think of flying cars and super-computers, but what comes ten thousand years after, or one million years after?

Nobody knows, but here are some stories that try to answer that question:

Lastly, here are a couple of links from Wikipedia with many more resources:

The Hero’s Identity

Video games, basically interactive storytelling, fulfill a great number of human needs. If only the rules of the game on real life where do clear…

Today, Cam has been sober from gaming for seven and a half years. For him, it was a problem that insinuated itself into every corner of his life over the course of his adolescence. “Gaming fulfills all of my needs in one thing,” Cam explained. He earned rewards consistently. Benchmarks for success were clear, tangible. He got his social interaction. Structure. It helped him forget about how he had dropped out of high school, lost friends, got too out of shape for hockey. Or his bullies, his deteriorating family life, his pretend jobs. He had an identity.

The Truth About “Video Game Addiction”

On Quiet Minds

Alan Lightman on the human need to spend quiet time unplugged and alone every day.

Invisibly, almost without notice, we are losing ourselves. We are losing our ability to know who we are and what is important to us. We are creating a global machine in which each of us is a mindless and reflexive cog, relentlessly driven by the speed, noise, and artificial urgency of the wired world.

Why we owe it to ourselves to spend quiet time alone every day

On the Value of Bad Art

Bad Art. It sounds awful.

I love Art. Art that is big, and confident. Art that is unapologetic and grand. Art with capital A.

But there is also beauty in “bad” art. The art that’s small and unpretentious, that is not educated, that is unfinished, rushed, abandoned. There are worlds of infinite complexity in the most simple of art.

And so it’s funny when you look at a piece of Art with a fat A–

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–and then you put it next to this doodle by Austin Kleon:

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Hard not to see how they stand equal side by side.

Sometimes I See People

When I’m in my head I see another world. I know I do. I see people that aren’t there for me under the daylight. I look at the eyes of a homeless man and I can see a soul. A universal, human soul that speaks of human struggles and dignity. I look at the face of a confident young professional and I see a fighter scared of the world. I look at an old woman and I see satisfied ambitions and dreams of new victories.

Are these stories real? I don’t know. But they feel real. More real than the blank masks we look at.

Maybe I should be able to see people all the time. Maybe we should feel more united than we feel apart. Maybe the climax of humanity will come when we believe each other to be even more than brothers and sisters, but One.

Inner Logic of Sci-Fi Stories

Readers, we’ll believe any fictional world a book describes, but once that world is established, the author can’t change the rules of the game. Whatever the crazy world a sci-fi writer can come up with, it has to have an inner consistency that can’t be broken.

In a story about an alien invasion you might be willing to accept the fact that aliens just landed on your backyard, but you would have a hard time believing unlikely behavior, such as the possibility that said aliens have fallen madly in love with you.

So don’t lie, and keep your stories consistent.

On Doing the Right Thing

There is pride that comes from doing the right thing with no regards for rewards or recognition. And this pride feels good. It really does.

—Some western hack

On the Robot Soul

When thinking about robots most of us ask ourselves several questions (I know I do). _Could humans build intelligent robots? Could we build a machine that is self-aware and conscious? Could robots have feelings and emotions? Could a machine have enough sensibility to write a poem that could move a human?

Maybe you believe that human beings are just the product of a particular configuration of particles (long ago set in motion) that eventually gave rise to life and intelligent. If so you are likely to believe also that such process can be repeated by humans. On the other hand, you might believe that there is another plane of reality to our existence, and that not everything we are and do can be explained by physics. In that case then, you might have serious reservations as to whether humans can build machines that can replicate Life. We are talking about “soul” (the traditional or the new age kind).

In truth I do believe that we are nothing that particles. But that’s just not the whole story. I do believe that we are driven by the laws of physics in this part of our cosmos. It is likely that those laws that govern reality are more complex than we know. And so, there might exist something as esoteric as hidden dimensions, instantaneous action across space time, or even a cosmic omnipresent “field of energy”. But I am also certain that those mysterious things–as much as they might look like magic to us today–are govern by specific, defined rules. Not religious ideals, but physical rules.

So back to the question, could machines become conscious beings? Sure.

Could robots have a soul? I don’t know. Do you?

Theme and Meta-Theme in Coco

In Pixar’s movie Coco, one of my favorite lines is by Ernesto de la Cruz. Ernesto is a famous singer and performer, who is shown playing a priest in one of his films. After a woman in the film exclaims “Oh, but padre, he will never listen,” Ernesto de la Cruz responds,

He will listen to music!

Theme and Meta-Theme in Coco

Here Pixar has put a movie within a movie, and the theme of this sub-movie happens to be the exact same theme of the overarching film Coco.

Not only is this a great line to explain the motivations of the priest, but it is also a line that applies to Ernesto, and Miguel, the protagonist who looks to emulate him.

Theme and Meta-Theme in Coco

It’s a very meta moment. A movie within a movie. A segment that is delivered in an over the top way, almost comical, manner in the film within the film, has also the function of perfectly calling out the theme of the larger story. And the beauty is that Pixar does all this without ever using a single metaphor. The meta qualities of ite film allow it to remove layers, and spell things out for us calling things for what they are.

The closer the story within the story is to the actual story encompassing it, in terms of story plot, the closer the thematic references can be made. If the plot matches, the themes can be expressed with little to no obfuscation. No metaphors, no allegories.

Theme and Meta-Theme in Coco

All that mumbo-jumbo, plus the fact that Ernesto de la Cruz’s charms are unquestionable.

Logic and Emotion

Ever think “what the fuck am i doing with my life”? Ever think that the purpose of all the struggle is? Am I making the best I can with my time in this Earth? The time we have is fleeting and it is tempting to want to do without diplomacy. Of any single endeavor I have embarked on people are the hardest part of the challenge.

Logic and emotion go hand in hand. We can’t forget whenever we try to appeal to somebody’s brain, that their heart is part of the package. Even those of us who think we are driven by logic have to deal with our internal emotions.

So I constantly remind myself that emotions are human but we don’t have to be driven by them. I can observe the world around me, I can observe my reactions to it, and accept the emotions without being at their mercy. The emotions will pass, just like my circumstances will change.

So what the fuck am I doing with my life? People, we bring joy and sorrow to each others. I don’t want to turn my back to humanity just yet, but also not letting my emotions write the story.