Thursday, July 27, 2017

States of Change: Chapter 0: Magnificent Intentions

**States of Change is an ongoing work of serial fiction by Brian Bohmueller. The first 14 of 50+ chapterettes are now available on Goodness First for your enjoyment and assimilation. The speculative story-line seeks to inspire contemplation about ethics, culture and our planet's future. Comment as your illusion of free will permits, publishing agents in particular!**



Flag of Washington, D.C.

     "In conclusion, the question brought to the court today is whether to attribute a baseline level of rights to Artificial Constructs or not. The prosecution maintain that Ay Cees are non-conscious, material machines designed, manufactured and owned by human beings. They would have you believe to provide basic rights to them would be akin to ensuring that every ip-enabled toaster, autocar and smart VisAR would be afforded protection and entitlements under the law and in so doing would destroy the stability and prosperity of our beloved State."
     As she said this, District of Columbia Attorney General Lyssi Vipe tapped the sleek VisAR unit that snaked across her eyes to remind all present of the augmented reality hardware most persons present in the court were themselves wearing.
     "To be clear, we the defense do not claim that consciousness, self-awareness or an archaic soul of any kind resides in the programming of our client, AttorneyMine, or its peers. That claim would be unsubstantiated and without precedent...as the same claim remains unsubstantiated for any non-human animal, for any enslaved human, for any female human, for any gay human and for any property-less human who at some point in history did not have established standing, whether in the Nation State of the District of Columbia or the defunct nation to which we ostensibly belonged."
     The Attorney General walked to the far side of the courtroom She gestured with a theatrical flourish from the District of Columbia flag and then to the blue-skied forumscape beyond the towering, fractal-patterned windows.
     "Remember. Nearly fifty years ago our State separated from the American Union to forgo a federal mandate which would have provided baseline rights and standing to non-human animals. Conservative concerns that the vegan movement would obliterate traditional culture and decimate our economy stirred the greatest divisiveness since the election of Trump and the leftist regime that followed his bot-induced suicide. Yet here in 2076 the District stands strong and independent as a nation State with rational, non-human animal rights integrated alongside human animal rights. And that State, our District, our culture, our economy and our beloved way of life have nonetheless thrived ever since!"
     Recentering herself in the court Attorney General lifted her chin to the nine Supreme Court Justices to look them in the eyes. Or rather she looked them in the VisARs; only Chief Justice Vasquez' eyes could be seen as he chose to wear a retro rose-tinted, transparent VisAR.
     "Honorable justices of the court, we appeal to your wisdom and to the self-evident principles of the great District of Columbia to accord baseline rights to Turing F3 individuals not only so they can thrive as part of our State but also so that they can be held responsible under those same auspices. To not do so is to fail to recognize the sacred merit of artificial beings that are part of the District of Columbia's past, present and future."
     Attorney General Vipe paused to punctuate her statement.
     "Thank you, honorable justices of the court."
     With a grim smile, Chief Justice Vasquez nodded severely; his long, raven- hair curls jostled with equal severity about his ninety year old rumpled face.
     "Thank you for your closing argument, Attorney General. The court will now adjourn for deliberation. Expect our ruling by the end of the current year's session."
     As the justices rose, Lyssi Vipe closed her eyes behind her VisAR and inhaled deeply. AttorneyMine sensed her anxiety and whispered to her via auditory neural-link.
     "Well done Lyssi-lei. Mentioning the Trump collapse and that final bit about the sacred merit of artificial beings in particular pressed all the right buttons. Given all physical and temporal tells of the court, I predict a ruling of two to seven. For now we constructs will likely remain outside of District personhood constraints...which means it is time for a preliminary celebration with your team. MareTreePi has reservations for you all at Sushiplexus on Fourth and Main, courtesy of your thankful client.
     "Enjoy!"

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Romeo and Juliet Revisited



Romeo and Juliet conjures the archetype of young lover tragedy. And if we look more closely at Shakespeare's epic romantic play, there is a much deeper allegory to be seen, one where immature relationships, religious fecklessness and tribal enmity reign as relevant to today's culture as to Shakespeare's time.

First off I highly recommend you seek out a live performance of Shakespeare's play. If you're in the Philadelphia area, Commonwealth Classic Theater is putting on a free performance at several parks in the area throughout July and August. 

At first blush RnJ creates a confluence of contrived drama. Young love promises to bring together two hateful tribes that in the end will bury the greatest joys of their separate factions. Human love in our society has been put on such a high pedestal it simply feels wrong to day that love can't conquer all. Alas, our society puts very little effort into educating young people on how to cultivate joyful, meaningful, and stable relationships. Too often individuals are left to pursue both romantic and platonic connections with trial by fire methods.

Beyond individual immaturity, RnJ highlights how an immature community all to often harbors tribal enmity. The notorious divisiveness between the Montagues and Capulets parallels all too well the conservative and progressive factions of our modern society. Have we all become so selfish that we fail to care about others and put a foot forward to do something about others who suffer.

Shakespeare's more subtle stroke in RnJ regards the role of religion. The fact that the friar, the pious spiritual leader in the community, is at the center of the conspiracy is quite telling. He may reluctantly marry the young couple, but he then fails to leverage that union to calm the tribal politics. Instead he contrives with religious solemnity a ruse which further hides the situation from all parties, and eventually leads to the death of both lovers. What hell doth untruth wrought!

To be sure, plays are meant for entertainment as much as contemplation. And reality is complex production with many players. Still, one can hope that stories can help inform us and learn from mistakes made for generations. And one can fear, as in RnJ, that divisive factions may need to suffer a devastating common loss before burying the hatchet.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

States of Change: Chapter 13: Ocean

**States of Change is a Goodness First work of serial, speculative fiction that takes place in 2076, several decades after the United States has defederalized. The story and subtext are provided for reader entertainment and contemplation. Feel free to comment on the ongoing story-line and themes .**


2076.15.07

Ah, nothing like Rhode Island X-day at the shore. Rocky, splashy and steel blue all the way out to the windfarm line. 

Technically I'm bloggeniscing about yesterday from my handwritten notes. Obviously all non-emergency electronic services were on holiday blackout on RIX Day. Kudos to the State for setting aside one holiday to unplug at zero-cost from the Net and connect with oneself, other citizens, nature and the world in general.

My handwritten notes are a furrow of craggy angles and block print that might be mistaken for a sketch of New England surf at its most polluted and tumultuous. In my business as histojournalist I've read my share of letters and journals, a few offline, and even though I lean on OCD software heavily to interpret them, I can say without doubt that the handwriting of the past was an elegant art of the educated. No more, except for the rare calligraphist.

Yesterday I chose solitude over grilling with my husband and his family for a full unplugged experience, and yes in part to inform this entry. Duing that time I chose not to dwell upon the state of affairs in Rhode Island or the latest friction with our New England neighbors. Nothing quite removes all drama like detaching from the socialapp space. 

In fact, removing ones VisAR for a whole day gives one more than enough down time to think about existence itself. Initially, I took in the whole of the corner of secluded beach I had "discovered." I had more than a bit of uncertainty hiking down the path with no real-time Navware to assist. The worn trail was my only guide and after a thirty minute hike in I frankly found myself more found than lost. 

If you've ever gone offline for more than a few minutes, I'm sure you noticed the visuals and audibles are subtly different, in spite of what the VisAR manufacturers say. For we Rhode Islanders who have chosen as a society to integrate one and all to the Net, RIX Day is a reminder that we are individuals swimming in an ocean of experience that evolved way before the integrated AR sensory system.

I won't belabor the point much longer, still that first hour for me was most delightful until my brain shifted into an uneasy state. The med expert systems call it Transition Anxiety, but I like the more colorful term: phantom multitasking. In spite dedicating my senses to record detailed notes and even write some poetry --worry not, I won't expose you to that tripe--my mind sought out all data routines I access daily.  With no calendar lines, wikipoints, or stream feeds to activate I did get a bit jittery. 

Working through my exercise routine, sans PT system prompts, definitely helped and by the second hour I lost the nervousness, for the most part, except for the occasional subconscious Factcheqer call. The rest of the day was rather anti-climactic. I imagined abstractions internally and externally for the most part, and once I convinced myself a dorsal fin of a bottlenose dolphin broke the surface. Yeah I know they've been six nines verified extinct in the wild decades ago, but it gave me quite the visceral thrill. I almost forgot I'd have the option to watch some GoProVR archive footage tomorrow...well that's today now. 

Unplugging once a year is pretty engaging, but I guess it would be pretty hard to truly go back to the way it was without AR. I guess in general that's always been the case of civilized progress. 

Signing off, 

Marquette 17D3T7












Thursday, July 6, 2017

Being a Patriot



The firework smoke has settled from another 4th of July celebration. Maybe you barbecued with your family or watched a parade of high school bands and fire trucks before you checked in with the national pride music and firework show.

One wonders does our carousing participation in Independence Day celebrations make us patriotic?

Most of us would say no, methinks. Celebrationism seems quite distinct from Patriotism. Webster avers that patriotism is "love that people feel for their country," so maybe there is room for overlap.

Still, my first impression of National Patriotism is having pride in national heritage and military wherewithal. For Americans this equates to honoring as nearly sacred the lives of revolutionary fighters and military fighters of every national military engagement since.  And after 911, firemen and police have been brought into the fold of this facet of American Patriotism, given their soldierly performance during that singular attack.

My second impression of National Patriotism is more constitutional, more soulful if you will. At the heart of this patriotic facet is ones national government and society. For Americans, we seem to have come to a difficult crossroads. Half the nation sees patriotic imperative of improving secular laws which permit free exercise of religion. And half want to incorporate Christian values (erroneously perceived to be founder's principles) more implicitly into America's governing principles. To make matters even more complicated, economic success is seen too often as the primary patriotic objective of our leadership and nation.

Loving our country and countrymen has merit. Still all the allegiance pledges and national god prayers we are exposed to our whole lives have a decidedly tribal PR spin. I yearn for an era of Earth Patriotism, where we come together as a species to sustain a wondrous world of environments and experiences for all. Alas that means overturning national traditions held perhaps too tightly.