Yet Untitled Lite 002 - Utopias and Sentient AI
Short thoughts from a small, green island
Greetings Yet Untitler,
Welcome back to this shorter edition.
“Human Beings are smart enough to build a sustainable world”
This is what comes to mind when in Singapore, especially through the eyes of my kids. Walking inside a large, air-conditioned dome where a mountain forest has been recreated in a tropical climate zone, all sorts of conflicting thoughts run through my head.
Of course, the Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi jumps to mind with its stanza about taking out the teees and putting them in a tree museum, and yes I agree - mountain forests should first and foremost survive where they are, not inside glass domes. But, what a feat of human ingenuity! Overall, watching nature and the stuff we human build coexisting and thriving side by side at this scale is a stupendous experience.
At the same time, I’ve seen enough David Lynch movies to know that anything that looks too perfect likely has something very dangerous and completely horrifying hiding just below the surface. I’ve also watched Donnie Darko - set in a Lynchian near-perfect suburbia - a lot as a 20 year old, enough for this point to have really stuck - wondering what kind of scary bunny lurks around the corner.
Thanks for reading “Yet Untitled”! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
PS - about nature thriving where it should (in the real world), check out my fried Karen’s weekly newsletter - Life in the Real World - where she shares many poignant reflections inspired by her nature walks around Kansas.
Another thing that’s been running though my head while negotiating this beautiful, fun city with my family:
On Google’s AI possibly becoming sentient
Did you read this article?
A scientist believes that the artificial intelligence behind Google has had an awakening!
Whether this is true or not, and if we are able to get beyond the shock of life suddenly resembling a Terminator 2-type Robot Apocalypse, another line of thought could be -
“well, great; now maybe the robots can solve our problems.”
That’s where my head went.
In Star Trek: First Contact, the Vulcans finally take notice of Earth (after a stubborn scientist makes a short hyperspace jump) and decide to lend it their superior technology, leading humankind into a new utopian era of amazing development that rids it of the evils of malevolent economics and basically any other threat that the planet may have been facing.
I realised that I was just voicing a deep seated wish to abdicate the responsibility of solving our problems to someone else; which likely isn’t happening. Even if it happens (and I end up witnessing the arrival of sky-sized flying saucers in the sky in this lifetime), again, I imagine what sort of scary Donnie Darko type horror-bunny they hide in their bellies.
The optimist in me says - they also could turn out to be compassionate, Buddhist, fluff-bunnies who want us to be well and prosper. The Buddhist in me says - “be courageous, understand your responsibilities and take action for a better world”.
Which brings me back to Singapore. As they like to say here - “can, can.”
I like that spirit.
If the photographer Sebastiao Salgado can turn around dead land and revive it back into a rainforest single handedly, I am very hopeful of the amazing results a whole collective of us with strong intentions can achieve.
Ok, not two, but 2.5 reflections!
See ya next week!