Forked and merged memories
FFFUTURES #16, Jan 26, 2021
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Ok, I'm finally doing this exercise Josh insisted me to do.
Demanded me to, actually.
He said I needed to put it in writing, that it would help me clarify my thoughts. I'm staring at a blank screen and typing these first lines that account for nothing, really, just trying to gain some momentum here.
Anyway, let's see.
I'm not sure where to start. It's like having a bunch of disconnected dots. I'll just put them out there, and maybe we'll be able to connect them in some way? Wishful thinking.
I remember I used to live with my daughter, Natalie. It was just the two of us. Monica had left us 5 years before, after a brief two month battle with that cancer that came out of nowhere.
So yeah, it was just Natalie and me. She was 17 and about to do the big move to college. We both were very excited and eager for college. Her world would open immensely, and I couldn't wait for her to experience this new challenge. It is a bittersweet feeling; you know how it goes. So overall, we were doing well.
Now, here's another dot to add to the landscape. Please don't ask me how they connect; that's what I'm trying to figure out.
These days I wake up to this life in which I'm the father of 6-year-old twins. Two girls, Harper and Claire. And it's just the three of us. Monica left us 5 years before, after a brief two month battle with that cancer that came out of nowhere.
And I don't know what is going on. I just woke up one day and this was my life. I have all these vivid memories of Natalie, our struggle when Monica passed away, our conversations at night planning for the future. Years together, just the two of us.
But I also have memories of my twins: The big challenge of dealing with Monica passing away. Becoming a single father of twins overnight. Reading self-help books at 4 am, just after putting Harper to bed (she has a complicated sleep schedule, unlike Claire).
My memory has two parallel tracks on it. I used to have a daughter, Natalie, and suddenly one morning, I have twins, and everything else around it is the same: my job, the city, the house, neighbors, friends.
Do you know that eerie feeling when you wake up in a place that is not your home? During travel, of when staying at a friend's house, those first 30 seconds when you're waking up and feel like everything around you is out of place? That's how I feel at this home, in this life, as a father of twins.
This place is not the place I'm used to waking up at.
I have no recollection of when the shift happened. This is what I was telling Josh, and he has his own theory. I only have questions.
Did I switch lives?
Did I really use to live with Natalie, and something happened?
Or have I always had twins, and my mind one day created the memory of Natalie?
Is this what it feels like to wake up after a long coma?
What if one day I wake up to find out that I switched back?
What if I wake up to another life entirely different?
This morning is the first time that I wake up feeling at home, and not like I'm living another life. Like this is the place I'm always lived at. I find that terrifying.
The New York Times gathers a list of cases of people who have been in a coma for long periods of time and miraculously wake up one day. I don’t think there’s any digital experience that can replicate the feeling of waking up to an entirely new reality in which you skipped and missed years of it. But it’s an intriguing exercise to ponder on what this feels like, and what our mind would process as reality vs simulation.
In a full coma, the patient shows no signs of being awake, with eyes closed and unresponsive to the environment. A persistent vegetative state includes those who seem awake but show no signs of awareness, while a minimally conscious state can include periods in which some response — such as moving a finger when asked — can be noted. Colloquially, all three categories are often described as comas.
🔮 Future Scenarios
This report touches on the proliferation of bots dedicated to buying online the most demanded items that have very limited stock (like event tickets) with the aim of reselling them for a profit in the second market.
The report states that in many areas of the economy the arrival of the Internet and online sales has yielded lower prices and greater transparency, but event ticketing is the great exception.
Ticketing, to put it bluntly, is a fixed game. Consider that brokers sometimes resell tickets at margins that are over 1,000% of face value. Consider further that added fees on tickets regularly reach over 21% of the face price of tickets and, in some extreme cases, are actually more than the price of the ticket. Even those who intend their events to be free, like Pope Francis, find their good intent defeated by those who resell tickets for hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
What are some viable solutions to the scalper problem? How can online systems offer fair competition that doesn’t get overrun by bots? (CAPTCHAs are clearly not working) What does the future hold for intangible/digital goods in a post-Covid world? Are digital goods with simulated scarcity the solution we want to go with?
💀 Not a Cylon
Sean Zellmer, @lejeunerenard
Sean Zellmer, @lejeunerenard
Sean Zellmer, @lejeunerenard
🧠 Common Enemy
Frank Pasquale, author of New Laws of Robotics: Defending Human Expertise in the Age of AI, discusses the four most important ideas required to guide progressive AI policy.
To democratize artificial intelligence (AI), he contends we need to imagine that an emancipatory politics is possible, one that can shape how automation is developed and deployed, without restricting key decision-making processes to merely determining the best way to save money, enhance efficiencies, and encourage innovation—innovation that honest discourse would admit disproportionately benefits elites and displays apathy, if not contempt, for the rest.
A quick summary of Fran Pasquale’s New Laws of Robotics:
Robotic systems and AI should complement professionals, not replace them.
They should not counterfeit humanity.
They should not intensify zero-sum arms races.
They must always indicate the identity of their creators, controllers, and owners.
Are you hacking with futures and other realities? Do you have comments, stories, or suggestions? I’d like to hear from you. Reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org
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