Computer Overlords15 Nov 2019
The track “Methane Dreams (V3)” from my latest album Antimony contains a section in the middle which is essentially a speech I wrote independently of the song. I later incorporated it into the song as I realised the rhythm and song concept worked well together.
I wanted to lay it out here and go a bit more into detail with what I mean with each section, as it could be easy to misinterpret.
Before we jump in, here is the full unedited “speech”:
The problem with humanity is that we can’t be trusted; we are the teachers, we are the drivers, we are the leaders, but we are just people. What is it to be human? What is it to think, to be aware of one’s self? To realise you are free to move anywhere right now, to leave your home, to slam the door, to break a few plates, to steal a handbag, to maim, to kill; it is this freedom along with a lack of good mentorship, good parenting, and a good basic globally-standardised framework for civic behaviour which scares me. That’s why we can’t be trusted, we can’t be trusted with guns, we can’t be trusted with financial decisions, we can’t be trusted with our lives nor the lives of others, we can’t be trusted with our future. This rabbit hole ends with computers: We need computer overlords, for a while. We need a standardised system of mentorship until humanity is ready to make big decisions such as “should we allow guns?”, “should we allow people to take all these pills?”, “should we close our borders and set up walls?”. Walls won’t stop chaos; the chaos is within, the chaos is in each and every one of us, waiting to be stirred up until madness erupts. And some keep it quiet, some drown the fear in wine, some realise their power and choose peace and warmth over fear, but some let it loose, claiming lives, leading to strict laws and more fear, leading to paranoia, leading to a police state, leading to repression, leading to unrest, repeating in endless cycles. And only through good mentorship can we be at peace with ourselves, with our neighbours, with humanity, to a degree where we can be trusted again. Stark, but necessary.
In 2019 the world is somewhat chaotic; you could argue it’s no more chaotic than in the past, it is probably much less so, but the information superhighway gives us unprecedented speed and quantity of news, which is overwhelming sometimes (or most of the time).
Hence we hear much more frequently of massacres, violence, feminicides, sexual abuse, tragedies, extortion, massive data breaches, hacks, insane crimes, and mad people committing bizarre acts. We have politicians whom a lot of us consider borderline crazy, parliaments that reach no consensus, and a divided populace.
I was pondering how we can solve this? Are we going crazy? What is crazy? Is crazy sometimes avoidable through guidance? How would you guide someone? Are the parents responsible? What about the schools? Or maybe it is up to us to understand how to act in society, how to be responsible, how to act towards others, how to respect.
When I say crazy I don’t mean people with severe or uncontrollable mental illness, I mean those that are misguided and have thoughts that veer towards harm, violence, crime, or hatred; which those people might not even view as negative but just as part of who they are.
What about “being ourselves”? They say we all wear a mask, and sometimes even more than one.
Where do the boundaries between being disingenuous, being courteous, and being real lie?
Given an upbringing where you are taught so many things but not enough “sticks” and you don’t really understand why you are taking a civics class from an uninteresting teacher who is reciting material from a basic book with no concrete examples, it is easy to understand how you can end up growing up not knowing why you are here, confused about your realness, wondering what is real and what is not, bewildered by other people talking to you, trying to figure out how to reply, and if you reply what voice should you use? What tone? Do you need to look at a person directly?
Given a decent salary and a decent workplace this could just be derided as existentialist questions: A confused person wandering through a workplace wondering why he/she works, what is the reason aside from money?
But given a troubled background, a lack of money, an ailment, and things can turn much worse.
This is where the thoughts behind this “speech” come from. How do we set a basic foundation across the globe, where background, money, race, gender, have nothing to do with obtaining a basic level of education, tailored to the receiver, where an understanding can be obtained of the basics of society, interactions, freedom (and lack of), civics, religion, respect, and responsibility can be learned.
Maybe that would lead to slightly less chaos, less murder, less confusion, less violence, less rape, …
Let’s analyse the “speech” in more detail:
The problem with humanity is that we can’t be trusted; we are the teachers, we are the drivers, we are the leaders, but we are just people.
We have more power than we think we have. Each profession holds more responsibilities than it would seem. That said, you must think of each person, regardless of what they do, as an intelligent being similar to yourself, just on a different trajectory, and each of these people could have a world of mad ideas going on in their brains, we might have completely different views on things, so we much respect.
I used to think when I was younger “How can anyone understand what I am thinking?”, I used to doubt people could see the world the same way I did, I wondered if they kneeled down and inspected ants and other creatures and wondered about their lives and their purpose.
What I mean is: it doesn’t matter. Every person thinks differently, and views things differently, and that does not make them less intelligent, so even though we are not equals (with regards to views, thoughts, perspectives), we are equals as we are all going down paths. Different paths, but paths that involve interacting with others nonetheless.
When you see the world this way then cosplayers, furries, and gender dysphoria become not only tolerable, but you can be emphatic to people who are different to you.
You understand people can be on radically different paths, and become curious and want to understand more about how they think and why they make certain choices, in an effort to be more understanding and respectful towards them.
Coming back to “we are the drivers“… We literally are at the wheel, what is to stop us ramming into a crowd (as has happened before)? Basic but fulfilling education on the aforementioned topics would lead to less of these situations, as people will not only more aware, but will deeply understand the consequences of their actions on other humans that are just trying to get by.
What is it to be human? What is it to think, to be aware of one’s self? To realise you are free to move anywhere right now, to leave your home, to slam the door, to break a few plates, to steal a handbag, to maim, to kill
Here I am simply elaborating further on this. We hold incredible power, and it is scary once you realise you can do anything.
I sometimes have DP/DR (depersonalisation / derealisation), which are situations where you either don’t feel like yourself, you have an overwhelming sense of not knowing who you are, what your personality is, you feel an outer-body experience. It is sometimes triggered by social anxiety, but sometimes it might just be a wild thought that triggers it. Or sometimes I feel the world is fake, the people are plastic, and I start wondering: Why is this person at the bus stop? Is the person really there? Why is the person not moving left right now? Why not right? Why not backwards? What is the person thinking that makes him/her remain in that spot. Where is he/she going? To work? Why? Apart from money, why do anything at all? Why move? Why eat?
It used to scare me. But after much pondering I realised I can make good use of this way of thinking. We just have to think one step further:
We can remain static, but we are already here, and if we can’t do anything about that, then why not do something instead?
That thought (inspired by something similar I heard on a video on YouTube) caused a cascade of thoughts over the following couple of years that led to this “speech”.
it is this freedom along with a lack of good mentorship, good parenting, and a good basic globally-standardised framework for civic behaviour which scares me. That’s why we can’t be trusted, we can’t be trusted with guns, we can’t be trusted with financial decisions, we can’t be trusted with our lives nor the lives of others, we can’t be trusted with our future.
What I am saying here is that we keep making the same mistakes; not only at a macro level where nations can’t agree, some implement policies to limit, sometimes with the backing of the people, sometimes against their wills. Other nations are more liberal. There is no consensus on drugs, weapons, criminal law, etc.
However the point I want to make here is at an individual level. We are erratic, we are going through the same doubts, we are unpredictable, which some could argue is the art of being human, but whilst it can be a blessing, it can also be a catalyst of chaos, destruction, errors.
In other words, trustworthiness should be inherent, we should all assume that each and every person around us is accountable and has received the same basic education about civility, courteousness, politeness and attitude, to a degree where we can be fearless towards one another, upholding hospitality and empathy.
This rabbit hole ends with computers: We need computer overlords, for a while.
I am not talking about AI. I am talking about a global set of standards and education, enforced by computers, which every human worldwide must go through before “freedom” is given to him/her.
Before you start screaming in the comments, hear me out:
By freedom I don’t mean enforcing its non-free individuals via oppression… I simply mean that passing this education would create a record of his/her passing through basic set of global standard courses. This person not only learned, but has engrained in him/herself the basic principles of interaction and respect in society.
I am not talking about the standardised education system in the US either. I don’t think we should standardise education and tests in subjects like history, geography, mathematics, physics, computer science, economy, biology, or music & arts. Instead I believe those should still be taught at a regional or personal level; but some things should be inherent to society, some things apply to all of us.
We need a standardised system of mentorship until humanity is ready to make big decisions such as “should we allow guns?”, “should we allow people to take all these pills?”, “should we close our borders and set up walls?”. Walls won’t stop chaos; the chaos is within, the chaos is in each and every one of us, waiting to be stirred up until madness erupts.
We fear terror. We fear invaders. We fear immigrants. We fear losing our jobs. We fear change.
Most of these are external factors, but threats can come equally as often from the inside. Remember, we are all on different paths, each and every one of us with different levels of education, each of us more or less confused about where we are going and why we are doing things… It only takes a bit of pushing to stir the pot and send us on a rampage.
some keep it quiet, some drown the fear in wine, some realise their power and choose peace and warmth over fear, but some let it loose, claiming lives, leading to strict laws and more fear, leading to paranoia, leading to a police state, leading to repression, leading to unrest, repeating in endless cycles. And only through good mentorship can we be at peace with ourselves, with our neighbours, with humanity, to a degree where we can be trusted again. Stark, but necessary.
It’s not the many but the few that are the issue.
It just takes one mad man with a few rifles and a few hundred bullets to create chaos. It just takes a few hijackers to cause destruction and hundreds of deaths. It just takes a few words to change a confused, insecure and anxious person’s attitude, for better or for worse.
We need a baseline.
Some of what I said here might be obvious to you, maybe it’s just standard knowledge, or maybe you learned a thing or two. I hope at the very least it helped explain some of my thoughts in that song. I firmly believe we all absorb knowledge in slightly different ways. Even though I barely learned a thing in civics class in primary school, I feel I finally learned a thing or two using a different learning approach. I feel given the internet, and vast information on how we communicate and learn, computers could craft a better, personalised baseline education system that we can all benefit from.