Live Not OnLine

Geoffrey Hinton just resigned from Google, where he was a leader in the development of Artificial Intelligence. He resigned so he could speak freely.

One of his concerns is that AI will flood the internet with fake videos, photos, and news, so that people will “not be able to know what is true anymore.”

We are already there. If we live on the internet, we cannot know what is real. 

What is the alternative? It is hard to think of one. But there is one. It is possible to live in the real world.

At first it is not as exciting. It is not as easy. It is not as controllable. It makes demands the internet does not. But it will be the only way to stay alive.

On the internet we are jerked around by representations that look real, bouncing from outrage to desire, from fascination to boredom, endlessly on the prowl for something satisfying. It will not be found.

But along the way the turbulence, agitation, and meaningless decontextualization of atomized information and anonymous vicarious experience accumulates, and reinforces yearning, searching, and loneliness. That is how the internet manipulates and impoverishes the people who depend on it. 

What about recovering our freedom and our sources of nourishment? We can do that, if we can understand what has happened. 

People have lost touch with people, the natural world, our own worth, and our own lives. Our physical environment is often as barren and artificial as our virtual environment. Which makes it easy to blur the distinction. But the distinction is real. Being stuffed into crowded streets, cramped apartments and cars, walled off in spaces large and small, with no earth underfoot, no horizon and no sky in sight, no sounds of birds or the wind, just a punctuated hum of traffic, sirens, ring tones, copiers, screens, shouts and whispers, in rooms lit, heated and cooled by machines, the seasons and the weather banished, as we are fed by machines, paid by machines, taught and evaluated by machines, eased into the illusion of human contact from a distance, manipulated by unknown people with public faces. Is there any wonder we feel uneasy? 

We do not have to accept this. We do have to notice it.

That is why training in real life, not from videos, not with lessons on the internet, but in real life, with other people, is essential.

Training in a challenging and wholesome way, together, relying on the rewards of sincere practice, not on the artificial payback of awards, titles, notoriety or status, but on the natural rewards of strength, skill and competence, the well-deserved mutual respect and shared humanity of people who take on hard challenges together, and meet them. 

Log off and live well.


Post and photo Copyright © 2023 Jeffrey Brooks, Mountain Karate Dojo, Yamabayashi Ryu, Saluda, NC

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