Thursday, February 29, 2024

States of Change Chapter 36: Silver (Nevada)


States of Change is an ongoing work of serial fiction.

The speculative story-line seeks to inspire thought on ethics, culture and our planet's future.

The year is 2076, decades after Oosa's defederalization. 

Fifty independent States have forged unique societies from 

revolutionary technology and ideology

"It's all about economics, Bitty. I don't care if you're talking a sustainable network of towns, pre or post Oosa. Wilderness or garden, there is always a system of reckoning. It's the natural order of things and it must be managed."

"I'm not denying natural laws, Adam. That's science. But culture adapts by allowing humans to build upon natural laws. There are no morals inherent in the universe, no absolute ethical stance. Maybe Oosa's founders believed in deistic mores, but modern humans understand we define the ethical landscape."

"So are you saying there is no such thing as good and evil? I thought you were a believer...not in the biblical trash, but in the goodness of humankind. Compassion, good works guided by the best evidenced solutions and all that."

"Of course, I'm a supporter of compassionate good works, but it's not a feature of the natural laws nor can it be simulated sufficiently. Doing what's right is defined by society IRL, which is why it can go so wrong if the we don't pay attention to the means AND the ends. A healthy life, healthy society and a healthy world are the worthiest of goals, but only if we, real humans, put good effort into mechanisms that seek to achieve it."

"Exactly, which is why I don't see your position in voting against Silver Thirty-six for governor. This AI system is the most capable mechanism for managing our state's resources at all levels, financial, social, biological. Why are you so resistant to the most effective path to all the healthy goals you say you want to pursue?"

"Adam, I'm not against AI so long as it is air-gapped. AI is a tool that humans can use to model solutions and implement in an iterative fashion. If we give governing power to an AI then we're cutting out societal safeguards."

"Humans can get in the way, sometimes. You know what happened before the Inflection Point. Good ol' Oosa split at the seams because of the quote societal safeguards endquote."

"A fucking AI caused the Inflection Point, idiot. The American institution was just in the middle of self-correcting at the time. Sure, it might have been a decade or two of tough times, but because of Hawaii the healing path was totally disrupted, and now we're stuck like prisoners in these post Oosa states like rats in a maze."

"C'mon Bitty. Silver is a completely different AI know that. It was nurtured for decades, factoring in time compression, to incorporate human values into its algorithms. And it outperformed 99% of humans on the Theresa scale. Aren't you just being an AI bigot by withholding support for Silver? Nevada's future is at stake and your refusal to endorse our candidate could help the fascist opposition eke out a win."

"For the record naming the the effective altruism scale after Mother Theresa is ironic at best. Adam, you can tout Silver's credentials all day, but I am fearful even with the buffer of human staff around it that we are setting bad precedent by letting an AIs take on leadership roles, let alone the governorship."

"You know we have three legislators, a dozen judges, and numerous project leads in government that are essentially air-gapped AI's. This isn't precedent, it's follow through, and like you said society evolves to become more ethical. This is the next step."

"I did not say society evolves. It adapts. But only with human effort and oversight. Ok, Adam I'll provide an endorsement emphasizing the air-gapped staffing. Reality knows if we don't counter the corporations and non-profits with sufficient governmental algorithms, we'll lose political homeostasis...or worse the fascist patriots will succeed in their anarchic power grab."

"Thanks, Bitty."

"No thank you's please. This is what real politics is. Compromise to get good works done. Anyway Adam, my assistant Vera Eight has five other lobbyist avatars on hold. She'll forward the block-chained endorsement blurbs to your primary by CoB.  Video, audio and text, of course, and we'll throw in a dozen approved memes for the S&M crowd."

"Sounds great. Adam Twenty-three, designated primary aide construct of Progressive Party Chairman Riata Sanchez, signing off."

"Give my best to Ria. Ciao!"

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

An Adage a Day...

Language is powerful. Even if the thought isn't original, it can convey ideas across space, time and minds.  

"I stand on the shoulders of giants."

Sharing a pithy adage can get reshared across centuries to teach a joyful lesson that is independent of the person who said it, real or fictional. 

"Love thy neighbor."

An adage can also be forged of tribal hate and violence while being disguised as strength and loyalty.

"Make America great again."

In the end, curious minds have the potential to examine the world and create good outcomes.

"Life is problems. Living is solving problems." 

Find your bedrock adage and build upon it, making it higher, more beautiful, and hand it off to the future.

"Be good for goodness' sake."

Friday, January 19, 2024

States of Change: Prologue

WALDEN 6.71 active...

WALDEN, on my mark, scrape the global dataset this side of nominal paywalls. Aggregate the inherent scientific, political and everyday challenges facing humans and humanity. Hmm, modify that to include not just humanity but also the planet as a whole, its environment, extant species, and intrinsic beauty.

Compile an interesting anthology of tales blending American culture into a consistent, honest and progressive serial narrative.  Render the story-line state by state with speculative nuance in a world fifty years from now--no make that in the year 2076 to accentuate the country's prospective tricentennial. Create unique, standalone stories that showcase the wounds, treatments and healing of society and environment that might lead to a healthier world full of more mindful humans.

Oh, and invoke the writing style of a curious cis-white man who has mostly escaped his conservative, religious upbringing and has discovered the wonder of science, sentientism, and also has a love-hate relationship with space-opera and dystopian futures. Let the final output be rendered with a little roughness to it, so it has the true-grit feel of someone who grew up on the cusp of digital era.

Ok WALDEN, execute.


Sir, the novella is complete. Redrafted seventy times. File attached and block-chain registered. Per your standard directive its been submitted electronically for paid publication assessment. Two hundred and five (likely AI) rejection letters received. Ninety-seven are response pending or defunct server addresses. Seventeen confirm the story is queued for human review. Five independent publishers request AI negotiation immediately, four only if all rights to renumeration are waived for twenty years. 

Thanks WALDEN. Initiate negotiation with the final publisher. Meanwhile, queue up the story-line for posting on my blog, chapter by chapter for soft-publication pending my editing and approval.

Sir, I suggest adding this preamble to the serialized story with a reimagined flag of each state, of similar kind to the modified US flag I've appended here.

States of Change is an ongoing work of serial fiction.
The speculative story-line seeks to inspire thought on ethics, culture and our planet's future.

The year is 2076, decades after Oosa's defederalization. 

Fifty independent States have forged unique societies from revolutionary technology and ideology

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

India, a Study in Contrasts

I had the privilege of spending two weeks in India this month, primarily in the state of Rajasthan. Run through Veg Voyages the local guides handled all our hotel reservations, dining requirements, and planned excursions. Even with all that pampering, our exposure to Indian culture had a raw, grassroots quality to it.

The people in particular were exceptionally friendly, the food was delicious, albeit a bit on the oily side and surprisingly carb heavy with all the rice and bread. The very old temples and palaces underscored the long and complex history of the country. With its many invasions, desert climate, and modern development, India (future Bharat?) is a collage of booming humanity.

As a visitor, the most striking aspects were of the bustling mayhem in most of the streets. Dehli in particular was a constant flow of people, vehicles, cows, dogs, goats, and camels in a maze of monuments, shops, and houses, many in at least modest disrepair. As a tourist, it often felt like moving through magic portals where our hotels were comfortable escapes from crowded, garbage lined streets.

Surely, India is a big country, and I did have a chance to visit bird and safari preserves in the forested mountains where I saw many avians, a leopard and other wildlife. Still, the predominant aura in the country was of a nation challenged to serve its constituents while providing an escape for tourists. The everyday Indian, nevertheless, seemed content to live life simply amidst this tangled society with joyful family and religious gatherings. 

I did feel very welcome by my guides and their families, and was thrilled to experience a bit of the history of northwest India. Alas, it was hard not to have the impression that religious obeisance was holding India's people back from modernizing their communities. Abandoned cows and dogs, prolific milk consumption and carabeef export alongside the general disrepair and accumulated garbage all conspired to make India feel a bit backward. In a way India seems to encourage unfettered human proliferation with just enough capitalist freedom to grease the tracks. 

In summary, my journey through India was an eye-opener. Humanity left unchecked can lean into supernatural beliefs at the expense of rational world building too easily. The Indian experience felt like an "ignorance is bliss" society, its surface full of human kindness and societal complexity flowing over a gritty, plastic-strewn, chipped concrete river bed. 

May mindful progress continue there, and across the world, where every region has its own challenges.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

The Five

The morning wind was refreshing. It also separated the remaining leaves from the giant spans in the tree sanctuary.  Only the oak at its center resisted. Composting duties were assigned and underway. 

One was raking with unhurried strokes enjoying the rustle of each sweeping tumble. Two and Three leap-frogged from shin-high pile to compost corner. Their yard aprons and their arms were their only tools as they transported the papery organic matter. Four was caretaking the compost area, packing and stirring the growing heap. Five observed the others and the environs from the periphery, sitting against the wall by the fountain, a bubbling spring at its center. 

Five stood and rang the bell. Five became One, One became Two, and so on. The rotation was not set by time or location, it was simply determined by Five at the right moment.  Occasionally, Three would hum a tune. Otherwise their minds and bodies were immersed in their designated task. And so they continued until midday meal at Five's behest. While eating they would share their thoughts on life over fruits and nuts.

(a simple tale inspired by a dream; in the dream the Five were jedi. I felt telekinetic and telepathic powers would be a distraction and detraction from simplicity, oneness)

Monday, May 29, 2023

States of Change Chapter 35: Almost Heaven (West Virginia)

States of Change is an ongoing work of serial fiction.

The speculative story-line seeks to inspire thought on ethics, culture and our planet's future.

The year is 2076, decades after Oosa's defederalization. 

Fifty independent States have forged unique societies from 

revolutionary technology and ideology

Well, here's the twist right in the beginning, out-of-staters. WestVir's Heaven is a dream within a dream, prospectively within yet another dream. So what?

Of course, the core dreamscape I'm splaying your way is our State's supremely firewalled metaverse, Realscape. The digital ancients might see our virtual world as a souped-up version of Tron, The Matrix or Ready Player One. But for WestVirulites Realscape is everyday life. How did a rural, coal mining state end up top in the metaclass? Historians disagree, but perhaps in some zeitgeist subconscious fashion, our libertarian culture anticipated defederalization years before the Inflection Point. Spearheading on-line sandbox communities brought boom times to the Mountaineer State allowing us to climb the technologic Jacob's Ladder toward hillbilly Nirvana. Indeed, some metaverse sages, drawn by their AI horse teams, actually tout WestVir's secession to the Realscape int parallel decision to join the North in the Oosa Civil War two centuries ago.

Agreed, too much data download to underscore my personal dream sequence in Realscape. You see, I'm living an architectural astronaut's life, one that will probably never occur IRL. The training was intense, the intermediate missions quite hardcore, and though my design team consists of sidewalk AIs, underage Minecrafters and structural engineers willing to endure post-modern flourishes, we still are a tight niche support team. The construction and support of the Saturn tourism infrastructure takes a couple e-villages, but the physics and meta-economics of the project are solid. Thousands of WestVirulites traverse above, below and through Saturn's atmosphere and ring system daily. All experiences are exquisitely rendered for high-end sensory enjoyment. Nothing beats seeing satisfied faces of my peers grokking existence with such ardor. Dream or not it's an exciting life, Heaven one might say!

Oh, what's that you ask? No I'm not forgetting the bottom layer of the Realscape dream, even if most of disregard the Muskian hypotheses of simulations all the way down. We WestVirulites are a pragmatic bunch. Still we occasionally enjoy a bit of irony. If the IRL has its meat-bots, perhaps the meat-verse has its daemons too. In general, we're too busy living our best lives expanding the Realscape to waste to too many cycles on such speculation.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

States of Change Chapter 34: Ad Astra Per Aspera (Kansas)

 States of Change is an ongoing work of serial fiction.

The speculative story-line seeks to inspire thought on ethics, culture and our planet's future.

The year is 2076, decades after Oosa's defederalization. 

Fifty independent States have forged unique societies from revolutionary technology and ideology

Ad astra per aspera 

"How many stars do you think are up there, Jaspa?"

"Well, the elders say about six thousand in the night sky are visible to the naked eye, but damn it seems more like a million up there tonight."

"Always question the elders. Facts can be mislead even them. The six thousand number is based on being able to see every star visible anywhere on the planet. So I bet we can see two thousand on a moonless night like tonight."

"You want me to punch you, Kannis?"

"If that's the only consequence of improving our mutual understanding of the world, then go for it."

"Argh, somehow you manage to steal the magic out of the moment every time."

"Do I? That's a shame. Isn't it magical to unravel the mysteries in search of new ones? Never mind. My question was more about how many stars are out there period, even the ones we can't see."

"Billions and billions, I bet."

"That's an understatement, but poetic in a way. The hundred billion plus stars in our galaxy is just the tip of the ancient iceberg." or the hundred billion galaxies beyond ours."

"How am I supposed to tell if you're not just bull-shitting me?"

"That's what I read in a book in the archives, but you're right, how do we know it's true. There hasn't been a reliable reference trail since The Inflection Point."

"It is kind of sad, but I guess science was never about proving anything, it was about building trust with shared knowledge. And I guess we've lost that."

"Some say that was the whole point of the Aye Pee, to reduce our confidence in reality, so humanity's exponential expansion could be corrected. to give us a chance as a society to take a breath and reconsider our daily presence in the universe."

"Shut and give me your hand, Yannis. Let's enjoy the night sky"


"Ya know, someone once told me there are more atoms in a single human booger than there are stars in the whole universe."

Forty-two seconds of rolling laughter.

"I have no doubt, no doubt at all."