Social Singularities

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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Faramond » Thu Mar 03, 2016 4:44 pm

I'm going to use the following definition: a social singularity is an event that profoundly influences the human frame of reference.

Then the first example I'd mention would be something that most everyone has commented on in some way or the other -- the age of Ubiquitous Information. Through the internet we can communicate with anyone, anywhere. Through smartphones we can communicate from nearly anywhere. (subject to whatever carrier has the most colored balls going down a ramp this week) Through Google or similar services we have access to all of human knowledge. (And all of human ignorance, too.)

This has obviously changed our perspectives, how we think, how we interact with each other and the world. The world has been gradually been getting 'smaller' for many centuries, of course, in terms of how far away other people and information was. The printing press, railroads, automobile infrastructure, airplanes, telegraph, telephone, radio, television -- they've all helped give us more access to each other and to information and the world.

There is no one event that is a singularity, but the overall effect is that the worldview of a person from the 16th century would make him or her an alien to us today. In fact most societies were so isolated that there would be hundreds of different kinds of worldview aliens from the 16th century.

The second example is something that is closely related to AI, as least in the future. That is our changing perception of what our human purpose can be and could be and should be. Another way of approaching this one is to think of what kind of jobs we do, and think we should do.

For a long time the purpose of most people was just to *survive*. We were very close to our food. The 1% were lords and the 99% were farmers or serfs or peasants. There weren't really higher purposes outside of stories, maybe, unless you were one of the 1%. Just get by, grow enough to eat, stay warm in the winter.

Simple version of history is that the Industrial Revolution happened and now a lot of us are a lot farther away from our food. (Farther away in the sense that we're not actively working at this.) We're no longer all on the ground floor of survival. You get industrial jobs, of course, but you also get more abstract jobs. Creative jobs. Intellectual jobs. The human purpose is no longer just survival, not always.

Now there is another shift in what kind of jobs we do. It's not just our food that most of us are far away from now -- we're also getting farther away from the creation of the goods we use. You don't need true AI for robots and computer programs to take over for a lot of different jobs. Factory jobs, clerical jobs, service jobs. Even some highly specialized and intellectual jobs might be in danger in the future as more and more advances are made in robotic and computer technology and programming.

So what happens when there aren't enough jobs to go around anymore? For so long human purpose has been tightly bound to jobs, but what if that changed? It may be changing in the future.

What are some other potential future social singularities?

Discovery of alien life
Discovery of intelligent alien life
Rise of a deadly and drug-resistance pathogen (something worse than AIDS)
Rise of an implant culture (something like Google Glass integrated into the human body)
Discovery of efficient/faster-than-light travel (unlikely)
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Jnyusa » Fri Mar 04, 2016 10:08 am

Faramond, Hi!

Faramond wrote:Mensa was not founded by Asimov! I'm sort of baffled that you think this, or where you're getting this stuff about world peace.


:Q Bizarro World!

I'm surely embarrassed to repeat wrong information, but mainly I'm flummoxed, because I know exactly where I got that stuff about world peace. It is probably the only article I've ever read about Isaac Asimov - so far in the past now that I don't remember which magazine I read it in - not a scholarly journal! - but the article was about ideas in his life and work, focused on the post-World War II world, Asimov's (alleged) belief that government's would not be able to avoid recurrence of world wars, but if we got the high-IQ people thinking about this issue we would have a better chance of creating a survivable future. And that MENSA was the organization he envisioned for this task.

First, I can pinpoint the date when this appeared because one of its factoids was that Asimov had published 223 books. That would have been true in 1980. I might have read it as late as 1982 but not later than that, and it seems likely to me that I read it somewhere between April 1980 and September 1981. (Another factoid was his diligence in keeping diaries of events in his life, a propos of nothing.) And ... I have to say that not having read very much about Asimov, or even by Asimov (3.5 books, maybe a dozen short stories), this article shaped my opinion of him pretty heavily. So after reading your post I googled around to try to figure out what pieces of this I could have misunderstood or mis-remembered that would end up being so wrong on the face of it. I thought perhaps I had mis-attributed foundership of MENSA to him when he was only an early enthusiastic. But he was not an early enthusiastic; he didn't like MENSA very much, apparently. Then I thought, well maybe MENSA was founded for world peace by its actual founder; but no, apparently it was founded pretty specifically to have no political agenda.

I often misread things or mis-remember things but I don't think I've ever hallucinated an entire thesis. My feeling is that I probably remember correctly the sense of the article - that MENSA was founded to put smart people to work on the world's problems, specifically war, and that Asimov was an early mover and shaker if not the actual founder - but the article as it regards to MENSA was simply fabrication from start to finish. (Maybe it was written by a member of MENSA?) Why didn't I question this account when I read it? Because I had no reason to doubt it. If I had had reason to doubt it in those days I would have had to make a trip to the library, order from interlibrary loan a biography of Asimov and a history of MENSA if such things existed at that point, all assuming that those particular facts were important enough for me to care about them, and they just weren't. If someone wrote that Asimov was the crest of a particular trend, well, why not?

But I have to confess that I've always thought slightly less of Asimov because of believing that about him, believing that he thought a high-IQ club would actually apply itself in that way. It's the sort of idea one gets in high school and then abandons when one is old enough to vote. I think better of him knowing that he didn't believe in it. And now I'll probably lose some sleep trying to find that original article and who wrote it and what magazine published it. It makes me angry. I have a pretty good memory for where and when I read things, but not a very good memory for who wrote them unless they are in my profession, in which case I take notes. I should take a page from Asimov's book and keep a diary of all the ideas that I confront, whose idea they were, where they were published, etc., to avoid embarrassment if nothing else.
~
Thanks for your comments about singularities. Yes, I have some responses to make, but also twenty graduate essays and seventy undergraduate essays to grade today and tomorrow so it is likely to be Sunday before I can post again. But your information about Asimov shocked me ... that is, it shocked me that so much of what I had thought about him was wrong, and I wanted to own up to it before writing anything else.
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Storyteller » Sat Mar 05, 2016 2:55 am

Faramond wrote:So what happens when there aren't enough jobs to go around anymore? For so long human purpose has been tightly bound to jobs, but what if that changed? It may be changing in the future.

There are three obvious possible ways it could go:

1 - Job shift. Technological revolutions of the past did not result in absence of jobs but rather in a shift from one type of jobs to another, because the change affected not just supply but also demand.

Technological unemployment has been feared since ancient Greece, but the fact remains that the shrinking of agriculture jobs was accompanied by emergence of industrial jobs, which were in turn part-replaced by computer-aided office jobs, call-centers and other service economy jobs. In most cases, jobs don't get replaced so much as have some of their associated tasks automated.


2- Guaranteed base income for an increasing number of people who can't keep up with the education demands of new economy and get stuck jobless for lifetime.

3 - Population control to reduce the amount of dependents.

What are some other potential future social singularities?

Rise of an implant culture (something like Google Glass integrated into the human body)

That is bound to fail for the same reason why Google Glass failed - usability barrier. Crudely put, if you have an Internet modem implanted to connect neurally with computers, or a co-processor to boost your brain power, you'll need brain surgery every few years to upgrade for compatibility.

Far more likely is the rise of genetic optimization and specialization. One way humans can keep up with ever-more efficient machines is by modernizing human biology. Science fiction has dabbled in prediction of possible effects of that, including separation of humanity into distinct species and castes due to increasing biological divergence.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Jnyusa » Sun Mar 06, 2016 1:36 pm

Faramond wrote: But that is exactly the definition of singularity! No information can get across. None of these things being talked about are true singularities ... To me the essential part of any kind of singularity is that what is on the other side is essentially unknowable.


Well yes, the idea of singularity is lifted from physics and re-applied, as Deepok Chopra lifts things from physics and re-applies them, except that Chopra isn't using his terms metaphorically and I think Kurzweil knows very well that he is using the term metaphorically.

If there were a social singularity in the true physics sense - no information transmitted - by definition we could not even know that it had happened. Kurzweil surely doesn't mean it that way. If he does mean it that way then it's a nonsensical hypothesis, no way to test it, like life after death. It would invite and tolerate only mythical answers, not real ones. So I think the questions we can ask of Social Singularities must be different, if there are such questions that are sensible at all ... they are metaphorical maybe, or analogous up to a point and not analogous beyond that point.

Living organic creatures depreciate as well. How do they get around this problem? Replication. The same might well hold for AI creatures in the future. What if they learn to recreate themselves out of raw materials? <snip> I mean, you can write out any DNA sequence as a binary string easily, since there are only four nucleotides.<snip> You could certainly set up an AI system where the behavior of the *creature* is governed by a binary string ( like its DNA ) and then when it replicated random bits were switched around to simulate mutations.


First, organisms have natural growth rates. Individual organisms die eventually but they don't depreciate (except in the limited sense that our DNA sometimes comes unzipped), and when they die their information is not lost if they have reproduced (except in the limited, very, very long-term sense that some alleles get voted off the island by natural selection). The coding carried by an organism is, for practical purposes, an immortal chunk of code, and it has at its disposal an endless source of energy precisely because it is housed inside organic matter.

You can write a code that replicates itself with 'mistakes' and achieve variation that way, but for AI to be the thing we are talking about - alternative human - what you have to write is the binary string for all possible changes (or a very large number of them), in hierarchical sequences, and that's really not simple. So, you mentioned later that it just requires a lot of time ... yes, time is the big deal but it's more than that.

This is an exceedingly complicated comparison ... not sure I can do it justice in the time I have.

Let's say that the replications could be planned very fast for a machine because you could test all possibilities at once (or as quickly as the programming could be done, which is already not an insignificant amount of time). But you could not test all outcomes at once by actually building the machines - the resource requirements would be too large to be met simultaneously. But let's say you can tell just by looking at the code whether it would 'work' or not, whether it could survive? Then we have to ask 'work' in what sense? Survive in what selective environment? And the answer will be teleological -- the person who built the machine imagined some purpose for it, even if that person was another machine, and the workability of the mutation is weighed against that purpose. Allowable variation is going to be narrower than it is for organisms, and the components that allow for changes we don't anticipate will be undervalued compared to the neutral value they have for organisms. If your variations are not open-ended, you have something that becomes a little more obsolete with every circumstantial change.

If you remove the teleological component, then you're back to building every variation on the machine and seeing what happens to it, and that's just not feasible in an inorganic world. The resources simply aren't there. I'm trying to think of the shortest way to say this ... organic matter grows and replicates by consuming itself and other organic matter, all fueled by energy input from a basically inexhaustible sun. Even if a machine could figure out a way to use the sun to fuel its sentience, it cannot use the sun to regrow itself and in that way perpetuate its code. That's just not one of the properties of inorganic matter. Eventually it will break down into its constituent molecules and have to rebuild itself from undepreciated matter and eventually the undepreciated matter will run out. The earth is a closed system from a machine's point of view.

You need lots and lots of *computing* time. Computers are getting faster all the time. Evolution can happen on a much faster pace in a computer than it can in the real world.


Yes, I agree, but you're still up against the physical constraints. Either you're limiting the outcomes by imposing purpose, or you're exceeding the resource capacity by allowing all possible outcomes to physically exist. If it's designed with a preconceived purpose then it's not going to be anything like a human or any other animal or plant. How different will it be? Well, I think we'll probably find out, because I agree that science will push this technology as far as it will go.

The big exception, of course, would be creating a machine that destroys us. We've already built one that can destroy us. But that's not what Kurzweil was thinking of either, I'm pretty sure.
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Jnyusa » Sun Mar 06, 2016 2:11 pm

Faramond wrote:The second example is something that is closely related to AI, as least in the future. That is our changing perception of what our human purpose can be and could be and should be. Another way of approaching this one is to think of what kind of jobs we do, and think we should do. <snip> Simple version of history is that the Industrial Revolution happened and now a lot of us are a lot farther away from our food.


Storyteller wrote:Technological unemployment has been feared since ancient Greece, but the fact remains that the shrinking of agriculture jobs was accompanied by emergence of industrial jobs, which were in turn part-replaced by computer-aided office jobs, call-centers and other service economy jobs. In most cases, jobs don't get replaced so much as have some of their associated tasks automated.


The move away from our primary resource base was prompted by a couple technologies introduced in the mesolithic era, 8000-10,000 years ago. Irrigation, animal husbandry, selective cultivation of food plants ... that's the first time we see humans generating a food surplus and able to commit labor hours to commercial activity. It takes about 2,000 years to sweep outward in both directions from the Middle East.

I would certainly agree that those tech developments constituted a social singularity. We do find entirely new social and political forms arising in their wake and the adjustment was probably pretty abrupt for people when they were newly introduced to these technologies. Everything after that, in terms of job development and eventually industrial development, I would tend to say was basically more of the same. We became more and more efficient at growing food, and as efficiency increased different kinds of job opportunities opened and closed. It's not really until the industrial revolution that you see a big shift taking place ... going from 80% of labor devoted to food to 20% of labor devoted to food (in the Western nations). But the idea that food surplus is what fuels development was early knowledge, supported or discouraged in varying degrees by different political/economic systems.

Faramond wrote:So what happens when there aren't enough jobs to go around anymore? For so long human purpose has been tightly bound to jobs, but what if that changed? It may be changing in the future.


Storyteller wrote:Far more likely is the rise of genetic optimization and specialization. One way humans can keep up with ever-more efficient machines is by modernizing human biology. Science fiction has dabbled in prediction of possible effects of that, including separation of humanity into distinct species and castes due to increasing biological divergence.


I fear that something along the lines that Storyteller describes might be happening already. Not that we are actively varying our DNA to create a caste of underlings, but that the natural variation in humans is not equally favored by the rapid advance of technology. Technology tends to create castes - those who have access to it and know how to use it, and those who don't. Incomes follow the crest of the wave and desert its troughs. If we harbor a moral sense that some minimum level of consumption and self-actualization should be available to everyone, we will have to rethink our economic systems pretty thoroughly, in my opinion.

Faramond wrote:Discovery of alien life
Discovery of intelligent alien life
Rise of a deadly and drug-resistance pathogen (something worse than AIDS)
Rise of an implant culture (something like Google Glass integrated into the human body)
Discovery of efficient/faster-than-light travel (unlikely)


Alien life would do the trick, I believe! I was more interested though in the idea that pandemic would create a singularity. I don't know much about the Plagues that struck Europe, 14th ce, I guess. What kind of social repositioning did we see following that?
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Jnyusa » Wed Mar 09, 2016 5:52 pm

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Re: Social Singularities

Postby ToshoftheWuffingas » Sun Dec 25, 2016 1:33 pm

Hi folks, it's been a long time since I visited. I would add one more singularity moment; the Kyoto agreement when the nation states of the world resolved to attempt to terra-form the planet.
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Jnyusa » Sat Dec 31, 2016 7:35 pm

Hi, Tosh! How've you been?

Love this statement from Neal DeGrasse Tyson:
"If you have the power to turn another planet into Earth, then you have the power to turn Earth back into Earth."

On a different note, I expected more discussion here about Brexit, and, of course, the US presidential election. Guess people are still in shock.
Anyway, Happy New Year to All, and a better life in 2017 for each of us.

Jn
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Storyteller » Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:21 pm

Jnyusa wrote:On a different note, I expected more discussion here about Brexit, and, of course, the US presidential election. Guess people are still in shock.
Anyway, Happy New Year to All, and a better life in 2017 for each of us.

Jn

Frequency of discussion has generally been declining here for the last year.
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Faramond » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:41 pm

The number of posters has dropped below critical mass. There just isn't enough fissile material left to sustain a reaction.
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby hamlet » Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:07 am

Not even with something as volatile as the Twitter in Chief incoming.

Plus, I blame exhaustion. People are just tired after a 2+ year election cycle. It's too early to send folks back into the fray now.
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Jnyusa » Thu Jan 12, 2017 8:02 pm

I have to share this with everyone: a continuous live feed from the International Space Station. There's a continuous live chat going on as well among people from all over the world.

Jn

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzMQza8xZCc
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Faramond » Fri May 05, 2017 1:46 pm

Was the election of Trump a social singularity? Surely not, but sometimes it seems like it.

It's a pity no one is left here. But even if there was, what is left to say now?
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Storyteller » Fri May 05, 2017 11:35 pm

Many people seemed to have regarded Obama's election as a social singularity. Or is it every President change?
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby hamlet » Mon May 08, 2017 11:03 am

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

No, Trump is not a social singularity. Perhaps an annoyance singularity, but not more than that. He's president, not dictator.
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Frelga » Mon May 08, 2017 9:24 pm

* flies in *

There's nothing NEW about Trump. An anomaly in the US history, maybe, but probably only because of the relatively short span of said history.

* flies away *
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby hamlet » Tue May 09, 2017 1:16 pm

He's not even that new or novel when you consider Reagan, really. Granted, at least Reagan had a thought between his ears . . . but still, movie star say what you will about his politics.

I guess reality tv really has taken the next logical leap and gotten into politics. That, I suppose, in and of itself, could be a social singularity: a time when our political futures are decided by ratings and populist "voting" by home audiences. Or, at least, the plot of a comic book.
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Billobob » Tue May 09, 2017 9:43 pm

A lot of what's spawning this new breed of politics is the fact that people don't vote based on policies and politics. The vote on personality and person. So now politics isn't about being a good leader it's about creating a persona, and while this has always been somewhat true now it's become overwhelming. People didn't vote for Trump's policies (for the most part) they voted for what Trump represented and does represent to them: an anti establishment businessman, a strong leader, and someone who will make America great again. So essentially politics isn't about rational reasoning it's about rhetoric and showmanship. In the end the current state of affairs in American politics has occurred because people are locked in a two party system (sorry for the tangent), those with power are trying to gain more like always (mostly this is true for the corporations), and because people aren't looking at the policies and the leadership qualities but at the personality of the candidate.
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Jnyusa » Tue May 23, 2017 5:09 am

Posters in TORC! It sure has been awhile since there was a discussion going on in here. Hi, everyone! Really good to see you all again.

The range of opinion about Donald Trump among TORCers is narrower than I expected . Yeah, I too think he's basically a showman. Not a social singularity, per Faramond's question - if for no other reason than the whole country is dissecting the things that led to his election. We're obsessed with the continuum, which I think is the opposite of what happens with a singularity. Same with Obama's election - his significance within the history that led to the event was more important than the event itself.

Something that was revealed a couple days ago in that interview with James Comey's friend from the Brookings Institute (forgot his name ... and am not sure now if he's from Brookings or some other think tank in DC) ... anyway, he was talking about Comey's uncomfortable relationship with Hillary's AG, Loretta Lynch, and the pressure she had put on Comey to tone down the Hillary email investigation, by way of explaining why Comey's public revelation of that investigation was seen by Comey as a way to depoliticize the role of the FBI, or to protect the FBI from later charges of politicizing the election ... a very poor appraisal of what would happen, as it turned out. But I was sitting there wondering if there was any candidate in the election who was NOT engaged in obstruction of justice? What a clinically depressing realization about the state of our government.

The other thing that the election highlighted, I think, at least in the minds of East Coast Liberal Elites like myself :roll: is just how shafted the 'flyover states' have been in terms of government meeting their needs and the national media talking about those needs. At some level I did know what they were up against because I do read the economic news, but it wasn't tactile for me as it is for them. I understand their impulse to just throw the whole system under a bus. But Dems should not be gleeful, imo, at the prospect of those people realizing they've been shafted once again between now and 2018. You know, there are now something like 1400 neo-Nazi groups in the US now, and they voted universally for Trump, and Trump's first visit abroad is to the Moslems, the Jews and the Catholics, three of the four 'identities' (as in identity politics) that can't walk safely through a neo-Nazi neighborhood. I wondered, I really wondered, what was going through their minds as Trump 'bowed' to King Salman, embraced Netanyahu, and will undoubtedly kiss the ring of Pope Francis. In the category of silly hypothetical choices, I think I would rather be accused of treason by the Justice Department than by 1400 neo-Nazi organizations. Seems to me that the first 115 days are about one-tenth of the turmoil we're going to have during the next 18 months.

Given that the Dems don't WANT to change the way they do business (a la Bernie Sanders' recommendations, for example) because they are bought and sold by the same people who have bought and sold the Republicans, it's hard for me to see how we are going to get through this transition without violent episodes, assuming that we do get through it and don't end up on the scrap heap.

The Dutch and French elections were a relief, but also a temporary reprieve, imo. What can we expect from pro-globalization policies that will solve the underlying problem -- which is the financial sector treating the national citizenry as if it were a colony? Next stop Germany.

Just fyi, if you are zooming around youtube and want to hear non-boring economic analysis, listen to some of the shorter public lectures/panel discussions with Mark Blyth. He's a Scottish economist currently at Brown University in the US. Very straightforward and entertaining explanations of austerity, globalization, and 40 years of non-growth for the 99%, delivered with an eye-popping accent.

Jn
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Aravar » Tue May 23, 2017 1:19 pm

Jnyusa wrote:What can we expect from pro-globalization policies that will solve the underlying problem -- which is the financial sector treating the national citizenry as if it were a colony?


Nothing. Absolutely nothing, because the globalizers are citizens of nowhere and owe no shared allegiance. Their interests then shrink to the purely economic.

delivered with an eye-popping accent.

Jn


Or a normal Scots accent to many posters here.
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Jnyusa » Tue May 23, 2017 7:23 pm

Mea culpa! People who live in Flufya (Philadelphia) should not poke fun at other people's accents. :oops:

We listened to about 40 minutes of a Blyth lecture in class the other day where almost 40% of my students are not native English speakers. It was a challenge for them. But then, my English is a challenge for them; and their English is a challenge for me. They key is to double-down with power-point slides that can be plugged into a translation program.
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Billobob » Mon May 29, 2017 4:52 pm

Just an interesting note about American accents: Did you know most people on the west coast (excluding most people in Southern California) actually don't have a subspecies of American accent? While people in the south have a southern American accent and new englander's have their own version of the American accent people in Washington, Oregon, and Northern California have for the most part a distilled version of the American accent. Though of course it still sounds like a "foreign" accent to those not from America or maybe even those from a different part of America.
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby hamlet » Wed May 31, 2017 7:26 am

Actually, they do have an accent. It's literally the one used on TV in the US which became so widespread after the advent of national media and television. It doesn't sound like an accent because it sounds like the standard way that most national new reporters sound on the tv. Still is one though.


JNyusa: I'm not gonna go into this at length because I think we're moving past the original topic of the thread, though you are the originator and I suppose you could decide the topic at will . . .

Anyway, I think the many MANY reasons that have been picked over as to why Trump got elected are all very interesting. I think what's more interesting, though, and what borders on the concept of a social singularity at this point, is the concept of instant gratification information. It doesn't matter anymore whether or not the information you have is correct. it only really matters if it reinforces your own beliefs, sounds truthy enough, comes instantaneously, and is popular enough. Right now, it's very common to see news reporting based less on whether it's actually important but whether it's trending on Twitter. in fact, what's trending on Twitter is daily news here every morning while I run in the gym. Today it's Trumps new made up semi-word Convfefe or whatever it was. That's not news, that's a POTUS-ian brain fart and it didn't deserve the light of day past an accidental thumbing of the post button. But, it seems, that at least a few hundred thousand people think it's awesome one way or the other so it's no front page news.

I think the internet and social media of really started to change the nature of not just our interaction with fellow people, but with our very definition of information at this point. Things are getting strangely fuzzy.
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Billobob » Wed May 31, 2017 8:39 am

hamlet wrote:Actually, they do have an accent. It's literally the one used on TV in the US which became so widespread after the advent of national media and television. It doesn't sound like an accent because it sounds like the standard way that most national new reporters sound on the tv. Still is one though.


JNyusa: I'm not gonna go into this at length because I think we're moving past the original topic of the thread, though you are the originator and I suppose you could decide the topic at will . . .

Anyway, I think the many MANY reasons that have been picked over as to why Trump got elected are all very interesting. I think what's more interesting, though, and what borders on the concept of a social singularity at this point, is the concept of instant gratification information. It doesn't matter anymore whether or not the information you have is correct. it only really matters if it reinforces your own beliefs, sounds truthy enough, comes instantaneously, and is popular enough. Right now, it's very common to see news reporting based less on whether it's actually important but whether it's trending on Twitter. in fact, what's trending on Twitter is daily news here every morning while I run in the gym. Today it's Trumps new made up semi-word Convfefe or whatever it was. That's not news, that's a POTUS-ian brain fart and it didn't deserve the light of day past an accidental thumbing of the post button. But, it seems, that at least a few hundred thousand people think it's awesome one way or the other so it's no front page news.

I think the internet and social media of really started to change the nature of not just our interaction with fellow people, but with our very definition of information at this point. Things are getting strangely fuzzy.


Ok correct me if I heard you wrong but your essentially saying that the northwest version of the American accent is thought as the standard accent becuase news reporters (and etc.) speak that way? Hmm interesting theory but I'll have to cross reference it. Ok sorry for dragging out that tangent.

As for the degradation of online (and otherwise) news I think that it has happened mainly for this reason. Online news sites tailor their stories to what people will click. So this leads to news sites posting articles with either misleading or sometimes just simply untrue head lines. And as more people click for this sensationalist type of news the news sites keep on churning out more and more articles meant to pander to people's prejudices, outrage, and fear. So essentially if the quality of online news is to improve then people have to change what they view. Of course this will only work for a certain time because at some point there will be almost no true news sites ( stations, papers, and etc.) left leaving us with sensationalist news that doesn't inform but simply manipulates and entertains people.
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Aravar » Wed May 31, 2017 12:38 pm

hamlet wrote:I think the internet and social media of really started to change the nature of not just our interaction with fellow people, but with our very definition of information at this point. Things are getting strangely fuzzy.


Part of the problem is that social media now is very much about the short sentence, the soundbite. It is very difficult to develop an argument, let alone provide evidence in support when you have very limited space.

Those two sentences above themselves exceed the 140 character limit on Twitter, which illustrates the problem. "You're a communist/libtard/fascist/racist/bigot/sexist/sjw" does not.
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Billobob » Wed May 31, 2017 12:45 pm

Aravar wrote:
hamlet wrote:I think the internet and social media of really started to change the nature of not just our interaction with fellow people, but with our very definition of information at this point. Things are getting strangely fuzzy.


Part of the problem is that social media now is very much about the short sentence, the soundbite. It is very difficult to develop an argument, let alone provide evidence in support when you have very limited space.

Those two sentences above themselves exceed the 140 character limit on Twitter, which illustrates the problem. "You're a communist/libtard/fascist/racist/bigot/sexist/sjw" does not.


Yeah it's kind of like new speak from 1984. Where they shorten and eliminate words in order to reduce the level of meaning in conversation. In the end I think that because everyone is too busy to read a paragraph, to busy to double check, and to busy to rationally explain their statements arguements will increasingly grow less intelligent.
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Jnyusa » Sun Jun 04, 2017 6:36 pm

Billobob wrote:Just an interesting note about American accents: Did you know most people on the west coast (excluding most people in Southern California) actually don't have a subspecies of American accent?

Hamlet wrote:Actually, they do have an accent. It's literally the one used on TV in the US which became so widespread after the advent of national media and television.


That's what I've always heard as well -- that TV commentators are trained in an accent considered to be neutral. It wasn't always California, though. When I was a youngster TV commentators had a very mild drawl, I guess because the softness of the southern accent was felt to be appealing throughout the country. It was supposed to be a neutral midwestern accent of sorts. Though ... I myself don't know quite what 'midwestern' means because I can hear the difference between Chicago and Detroit after one sentence. Anyway, I think it's true that TV people are trained to talk a certain way and the rest of us who are listening to it all the time accept that that's how American English is supposed to sound.

Hamlet wrote:JNyusa: I'm not gonna go into this at length because I think we're moving past the original topic of the thread, though you are the originator and I suppose you could decide the topic at will . . .


I don't mind if we go off topic. Communication - the ability to do it - is close enough to the concept of singularity for it to fit the thread ... seems overkill to split out a thread or self-edit our thoughts for relevance when there are so few active threads.

It doesn't matter anymore whether or not the information you have is correct. it only really matters if it reinforces your own beliefs, sounds truthy enough, comes instantaneously, and is popular enough.


Yes, I think that's true. And the other thing feeding into this is that it is not easy or cost-free to do one's own fact-checking, or even to know sometimes what point of view is represented by the channel one is listening to. Whenever I click on a new internet news channel I google it first to see who owns it, what country it originates from, etc. to make some minimal determination of reliability, but it has become a game of three-dimensional chess.

Billobob wrote:Online news sites tailor their stories to what people will click. So this leads to news sites posting articles with either misleading or sometimes just simply untrue head lines.

For quite some time now, I would say since the mid 1980s, news stopped being news and started being entertainment. The internet has been a real double-edged sword and we're going to have to think real hard about this - and talk to one another! - to reconcile the deluge of disinformation with our notions of free speech. It is a big, big thing to deal with, imo.

Aravar wrote:Part of the problem is that social media now is very much about the short sentence, the soundbite. It is very difficult to develop an argument, let alone provide evidence in support when you have very limited space.

Billobob wrote:. In the end I think that because everyone is too busy to read a paragraph, ...

And with the print media falling by the wayside, we don't get a full argument anywhere. But I'm not convinced that busy-ness is the only reason. I see my students glued to social media during class, in the library, while doing their homework ... opting for that intermittent distraction instead of putting sustained effort into something with longer term benefits. There's kind of two schools of thought about how to deal with it. I have one colleague who won't let his students have anything readable in front of them while they're in class - no laptops for note taking, no cell phones, no nothing. And then we get these teacher workshop that tell us students bring on average six digital devices with them to class -- and we should use them! Call them on their cell phones while they're in class, or have them phone their answers to questions to you while you're teaching. Build the technology into the syllabus! I'm like ... see this gray hair? I am NOT going to teach over a cell phone. But there's a real attention span problem that feeds the preference for Twitter over the New York Times.

But I also think that the problem is not that new, because we were told in no uncertain terms by our children's teachers: Turn Off the TV! That's 30 years ago, right? The instant gratification of the media has always been an obstacle to sustained thought and sustained conversation. Lot of things reinforce that mind-closing/talk-closing ... conversion of public main street to privately-owned mall (no loitering, no solicitation), suburbia, super highways, cable TV ...
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby hamlet » Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:06 am

The intrusion of media into daily life is a topic in and of itself. It's not only something that happens at school (and seriously, if I knew a teacher/school that followed the idea of building such technology into the curriculum, I'd probably avoid sending my children there if possible, that's just nuts) it's even here in the work place. In meetings all day, I see folks tapping away at phones, laptops, iPads, etc, instead of paying the hell attention to what's going on and writing out short notes on a blank sheet of paper. Hell, even the guy giving the presentation half the time is distracted by some instant message, text, email, call, whatever. I'll admit, I'm easily distracted, but when it's time to work or focus, I can still accomplish that at least and I know that there are a LOT of people I work alongside that can't look away from some digital device or other for more than 5 minutes, not even to go to the restroom. I can't tell you how much that icks me out, the line of guys at urinals still tapping their phones with a free hand.

News and media are fast now. Instant. Unscheduled beyond "RIGHT NOW" (even television schedules are no longer at all regular, another reason I cut the cable cord a while back and don't really miss it). People suffer from terminal (and I hope you'll forgive me using the term) fear of missing out. Not to mention fear of ever having to question or doubt . . . anything really.

I wish I could say it's a new phenomenon, but honestly, I'm not sure it is. I think that the internet just plugs directly into pre-existing tendancies in the general human psyche and really tickles our addiction buttons.
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Re: Social Singularities

Postby Jnyusa » Mon Jun 05, 2017 6:11 pm

Hamlet wrote:I can't tell you how much that icks me out, the line of guys at urinals still tapping their phones with a free hand.

Cannot unsee .... :shock:

Apparently all that fake news is lucrative: a fascinating and horrifying story from the Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2017/03/02/this-beauty-queen-was-the-face-of-a-fake-news-website-she-says-she-had-no-idea/?utm_term=.ca92180439ab

There must be media-watch organizations that could undertake some sort of "seal of truthiness" vetting that would appear on websites and on youtube. The news agencies that are real would have a stake in seeing this get done, and advertisers would too.
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