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Luck Rules Everything Around Me

The preponderance of success and failure is systemic. A good chunk of the remainder is luck[1]. Personal effort takes up a tiny amount but that's the part that most people focus on. "You failed because you didn't try hard enough" is demonstrably false. Yet, we beat ourselves up over it. And even worse, we ignore other people's suffering because we think that luck has nothing to do with their condition.[2][3]

"Our results suggest that much of ecological management is bound to succeed or fail simply because of good or bad luck"

Brainy Computers

Finding the correlations between our own brains and the computers we've built to help our brains is like looking into a mirror. Not realizing that a mirror reflects and distorts is the first mistake. The second is assuming that the human brain is as simple as the silicon wafers that make up computers.[4][5]

Now, with that said, OH MAN IT'S GONNA GET WEIRD

Sprinkling in a little AI lets us find weird complex correlations between what we think we're doing and what we're actually doing.

Let's not even get into how we can kinda sorta find ways to kinda sort have a brain-computer interface. We aren't sure how the brain brains, but we're pretty sure how computers compute, but somehow we can...just...jam things together and they work??[6]

And what about qualia? what about subjective measures of reality and feeeeeelings, man? Oh, don't worry, we're working on that too

Simultaneous Multiple Realities

When augmented reality and molecular scale computing become widespread and stable, there's no reason to assume that everyone will experience the same reality at the same time. Why watch ads when your AR can filter them out for you? Why see hate speech when your AR can blur that person from your sight and mute them from your ears?

Why experience the homeless person's suffering?

always on[7], unseen[8][9], undetectable augmented reality [10][11], with invisible sensors to interface with meatspace [12][13]

Something to consider is the idea of curated persona projections. In a fully AR environment, you can have your meatspace self and your AR self. And depending on the AR environment you are projecting into, you can have several AR personas. Just like we have profiles for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc, etc, we would have AR personas for the GoogleAR, fBook-AR, etc, etc

And funding for these AR environments might come from the same places as current websites. Want to use the GoogleAR? You gotta submit to scraping your location, personality variations, etc. And imagine a fully branded Coca-Cola persona, one where they pay you, per second, to look and act like one of their mascots in another AR environment.

In such a situation, some people would go voluntarily 'blind', skipping the AR concept altogether, relying solely on meatspace. Some people might go 'fiend', only existing as AR concepts never turning it off, walking around in formless, completely obscuring clothing, maybe even finding ways to transmit to the 'blind' with projectors.


Surface Level, Layer Cake-like Weirdness

Metamaterials were the first wave of this sort of Thing, where we mixed and matched elemental forces into strange and terrifying amalgams that would freeze the heart of any alchemist in paroxysms of ecstasy. Also they made really pretty colors!

Then we figured out weird ways to etch common materials to make them behave in uncommon ways and found that the hassle of mixing the elemental forces could be dispensed with if we just....kinda...drew on stuff a little funny. with lasers!

Then, when all the weirdness of drawing on stuff started getting really really weird, we messed around with effectively two dimensional solids, films that were only an atom thick, films that we turned into ribbons or toroids or moebius strips. And when those strips and films were made of graphene we found out even deeper points of weirdness came from layers of those films.

And soon and/or now, we come to the cusp of an era where the surface of things, whether rough[14], smooth[15], spiky[16], or shiny[17], matters more than what makes that thing.[18] And where how things are layered allows us to bypass the 'rules' we've been assuming were Rules and make Weird the new rule[19]

How Weird? well, think of a crystal that stretches and throw in anti-viral ballgowns and you're getting close

The Future of Domestication

Domestication has radically altered some species. So radically that they couldn't survive without us. Can you even imagine how long a chihuahua would survive in the wild? Hell, the bananas you get from the store are a monoculture that requires grafting to propagate. If our species decided to stop eating bananas, the cavendish would be extinct in a generation.

What's interesting is the next species we domesticate might not look the way the current ones do. They might be smaller[20], more specialized[21], or look completely unchanged[22]

Perpetual Technology

pacemakers that don't need a toxic battery core would be the upside. the downside? ads that never turn off even after humanity is extinct

Learn'ed Machines

Getting to more efficient applications of machine learning requires we get past the hype cycle that we are currently in[23].

Which may be/ already is happening[24][25]

We are getting past the "OMG AI"[26] phase and get to the "okay, okay, it's not 'artificial intelligence' AI, it's just 'machine learning' AI, but it's still cool if we can figure out where to use it"[27][28][29][30]

Until we start treating AI as just really, really stupid machines that we are doing our level best to reason with we're gonna keep getting sideswiped by how horrifically bad at things it can be [31][32][33]

A glaring mistake in 'AI' use in the U.S is trying to toss this buzzword-heavy doodad into governance, both local[34] and federal[35]. Even people aren't good at this and you expect a machine, doing it waaaay faster, to be any better?

Another is the misunderstanding of statistics. Yes, you ignore outliers if you're trying to find a correlation. No, that doesn't mean your correlation is 100% accurate it just means that you tweaked your data to give you the result you wanted. The more you scrub your data, the more mistakes in your end result[36]

A huge problem is the "well it works in theory given these specific parameters[37]. now we just gotta make it work in practice!" fallacy. In theory, the first nuclear weapon should have caused a cascade effect that turned the planet into a new sun.
In practice? Not so much.

It's Never the Person, It's Always the System

Systems reward conformity. Success within a system is proof that you found a system that rewards you, not that you have achieved objective success[38]

And, man oh man, that is haaard pill to swallow.

We aren't successful through our own efforts, we are bourne on historical waves of success and failure. Sure, there are outliers. But, odds are, you aren't one.

It's never what you know, it's who you know, which is a side effect of where you grew up, what schools you went to, who your parents were, etc etc.

But the other side is true. If a systemic fault causes harm, it's foolhardy to assign blame to a person

Squishy Future

A near future where genetically engineered processes replace mechanical ones, and we grow, rather than build, new machines. A time when computer virii are not as important as actual virii. this is the natural progression of biomimicry-as-technology. from using seashells as models for more resilient ceramics to learning new ways to use bacteria [39]

Soon a vat of green goo in your backyard, or on your windowsill, generates all the electricity you need. As long as you remember to feed it and keep it healthy.

space squishies, xenobots, and other forms of new techno-organic wonders

if these don't look like a Dahl-seuss-esque factory, i will riot

let's make AI look like a steam engine [40][41]

go home,Home, you're drunk.

i, for one, look forward to giant vats of glistening goo replacing factories full of robots

remember how we turned wolves into dogs? yeah, that but tiny.

"behold, living architecture!"
"wait, all you did was plant some trees and moss and stuff?"
"um..yeah, what were you expecting?"
"something more like this?"

the way out of the pollution mess we're in might be Squishy [42][43]

the first signs of this future are already here in probiotics, but the next wave might actually work

Just One Word...Plastics

Plastics were a common part of post-WWII global development. Plastics are still the best option for some applications, but plastics + consumerism resulted in massive amounts of plastic refuse. And plastic isn't exactly going anywhere. Now, we gotta figure out what we're gonna do with plastic.[44]

the tiny bits are everywhere [45][46]

one question is more plastic or less trees?[47]

What is Right is seldom what is Popular

People prefer reasonable to rational[48] because rational is too harsh. But rational is empirically accurate and reasonable is subjectively pleasant.[49] And in the long run, isn't it better to be nice than to be right?

No. No it is not.

Examples:

Your Brain Is Real Bad At Stuff

No, seriously, this stupid lump of neural fatty tissue that is the driving force behind civilization? Real bad at stuff.[50][51][52] Which means you have to accommodate this thing with systems [53] or illusions[54] and generally mistrust whatever that stupid thing in your head is telling you.

Think about your worst fears.[55] yeah, that's in your head. where your brain is. the thing that don't work too good.[56]

but we can, kinda[57], sorta[58], fix that problem.

as soon as we can sort out how the damn thing actually works.

or, heaven forfend, how it doesn't work[59][60]

100 milliseconds is the difference between your brain saying, "oh look, a thing!" and not even registering that happened. and given that you can HEAR 100 milliseconds, no rational person would think that seeing is believing.

We're Already Covered This, People

Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. And also to permanent brain damage from slamming their palms into their foreheads

intergenerational warfare is super predictable

this finding isn't surprising to immigrants or biracial people. but hey, thanks for noticing?

Bad (At) Business

Given the sheer volume of information about business, it's fascinating and galling to watch companies/researchers/people in general make the most boneheaded mistakes and decisions. Here are examples of being bad at business, bad businesses, and the occasional example of the way around this sort of tomfoolery

Think Larger

Sometimes, you have to take a step back and reexamine the world from a larger scale. Whether that scale is time, space, or some other dimension is irrelevant.

just cause it seems like a recent trend, doesn't mean it isn't an ancient one

it might not who you are. it might be where you are

i find thinking about geologic timescales relaxing. subway delays? hard day at work? all but a flicker

just one, giant, closed system

"The costs of conservation were being borne by poor people and those impacts have been slow to be revealed"

the [technically right amount of intervention (mowing) in an newer system (lawns) is not easy to implement when said system is part of a larger system (people being house proud and wanting lawns)]

Strange Geometries

There are some really really cool and weird geometries in the world[63][64][65][66]. And we are getting better at using them to our advantage.[67][68][69][70][71]

just don't let the mystical, woo-woo crowd find out or we'll be knee deep in pyramids

Late Stage Capitalism ~= Pre-WWII Capitalism

As the flaws of scale-based economies start to show, the response will be to fall back on what worked before.[72]

agriculture will probably be the first convert since food demands are also seasonal demands (and oh boy is the weather getting weird)[73][74][75][76]

oddly, modern farming demands more compassion and care than the old days. Back then, one sick chicken meant one dead chicken (and possibly a chicken dinner). Now, one sick chicken could mean hundreds of dead chickens, no chicken dinners, and losing your house.
and that point is often lost in the general discourse about how we eat and how we feed each other.[77]

Hopefully, other industries will realize long term benefits outweigh short term benefits.

Fully cyclic economies will become the new normal. Planned obsolescence and disposable anything only worked when we didn't know/care where the things were going to end up. But, in small villages, human waste was used in leatherworks and fertilizer[78]

"One man's trash is another man's treasure" will turn into "one man's horrible outputs will become that man's critical inputs"[79][80][81]

Another shift will be towards consuming less and wanting less. You don't need a house, a car, 2.5 kids anymore. You need just enough to get by.

but the existing frameworks of globalization will still exist and allow the transfer of wealth to happen but in interesting, smaller ways.

Oh and then the COVID plague hit so none of this really applies any more...exactly...well, it kinda does....but not exactly enough.

eBooks

Brushfire: A simple set of rules that should let you make radical, widespread changes to your business