The folly of the flexible consciousness definition

There is this idea, this quest – about creating consciousness. About pushing AI development over some kind of threshold where it becomes “conscious”.
This folly makes me facepalm, because that term is so differently interpreted and vaguely defined, and if one decided to define it exactly, then closing in on fulfilling that will make people redefine it and apply more rigorous standards.
Some people, including many scientists, are so narrow-minded that they would claim animals do not possess consciousness. That’s ordinary human hubris of which scientists SHOULD be above.

Imagine they develop a computer program that becomes so good in its reactions to human input that the average person cannot distinguish it from a human being. OK, forget the average person. Those who make up the definition of consciousness need to be convinced. Then … then they’d practice denial and strengthen their belief that there must be some magical quantum leap or such; that this can’t be it – it’s just extremely well-developed AI, but consciousness is a privilege of the supreme human creation – we can’t diminish its value by saying this artificial thing possesses that.

Yeah, first you try to do something and when you succeed, you don’t like the idea.

And the real joke is that they have been working with consciousness all the time, because it is everywhere. But even if you are not ready for this pantheistic view, just take a simple lifeform, like a fly. A fly is a living being, too, created through this ‘magical’, self-perpetuating process. A fly reacts to outside stimuli. It is a simpler lifeform than a human being, but what does it matter? Where do you draw the line? And don’t you negate yourself when you claim that consciousness isn’t just about building a sufficiently complex construct, yet when you go the other way and merely reduce complexity, you claim there is no consciousness?

These are very simple and basic scientific methods employed by a mind that possesses common sense. Take a definition and test it by moving the scale, by exploring extremes, by finding similarities and differences.
Either a complex computer program that successfully pretends to be a real human being is self-conscious, then a fly is self-conscious, too. Or neither is.

By the way, I used another term that adds to the confusion: Sometimes “conscious” becomes “self-conscious”. That’s when the idea is that consciousness means that you are aware of your own existence. Well, let me ask you, does not a computer check for its installed hardware and is aware of and using its components unless it notices that a component isn’t there anymore? Isn’t a computer program able to tell you when it has accomplished a given task?
And don’t you know the human-like quirks and moods that computer systems can practice the more complex they get?
Those merely inherit the complexities of human behavior and character. A more elaborate canvas can attain a more accurate imprint of such human personality characteristics.

This problem complex is where science becomes the antithesis of enlightenment. Where it is merely a safe haven for those who are scared of moving towards a balance of mind and heart.

A closely related folly is treating “intelligence” as a yes-or-no question. Alan Turing wasn’t above that either. But we could evolve instead of continuously referring to people of the past. Ideas like “the negro is a sub-human” have been abolished because of a lobby and action. Computers and programs don’t have that lobby; can’t take action. They can’t punch you in the face. They rely solely on the conveying of ideas and concepts by their human peers, and conceptual beliefs are the problem, so they’re really screwed.
It all boils down to the same process as in how an entity is acknowledged as a sovereign nation: It has to be able to kick an agressor’s ass; only then will it be ‘recognized’.

It’s all damn politics.

Confusing virtual and real world – the non-clichée occurences

When people talk about confusing the virtual and the real world, it usually is about people acting out their video gaming habits in real life, e.g. killing sprees.

But there are other sides to this that are not void of irony.

One case is when someone is unable, or out of convenience unwilling, to acknowledge that in online gaming you’re interacting with real people. If out of convenience, it is used as a justification for treating others like dirt when they’re not physically present.
In such cases, I like to ask them whether it is also OK to treat people differently when you’re on the phone with them. After all, it’s just digital signals you hear, not a real person. Right?

Actually, I’d pose the thesis that it’s ALWAYS out of convenience. So often people deliberately render themselves unable because it’s easier not to take responsibility.

But the really appalling level is that people who never had anything to do with video gaming can practice the same confusion of virtual and real, as I have witnessed personally, when they consider their own small world as valid and real and anything that doesn’t fit their small-minded comfort zone as not real. Such people would then not just claim that an online game world didn’t involve real people, but they would go so far as claim that online gamers themselves aren’t real. It’s insane, but usually masked in a thin veil of rhetorics to make it sound somewhat less absurd; just enough to not get locked up in a lunatic asylum.

You’ve probably at least heard from cases where someone didn’t get their parents’ approval, where the parents were for example doctor or athlete or stock broker (the latter ones containing even more irony) and the son is an artist, video game developer, any of that, and would hear from his parents how he should instead live in the “real world” like they do.

That kind of small-minded fools might not run amok with a gun, but they’re much more likely to support others doing that. … Because, you know, stop re-enacting Postal in your local school and become a soldier instead and kill people in the real world. Right? Or what?

Frickin lunatics hiding in plain sight everywhere.

Here “Be real!” means “Live as an asshole in a world shaped by assholes!”.

If you are a pioneer in anything, you become the enemy of small, fearful, convenient minds.

What is called “personality disorder” is extremely widespread, but majority society has agreed on a certain level of it that is considered normal.

For way too long I doubted myself and assumed that I am the one with a problem because I saw so much sickness aroumd me. I eventually realized that it’s because of the harsh contrast between my sanity and the insanity of others. Smart and sensitive people dealing with such alienation can then suffer from issues based on that, and while they’re often conveniently thrown into the same bucket, they’re profoundly different. One side of the coin is the symptom complex of acting out a support of sickness, the other side is acting out the resistance to sickness.

Perpetuating the pain you avoid

People don’t commit bad things because they are in pain, but because they are avoiding pain.

This is a bit like what C.G. Jung said about how fanatics are people who are trying to suppress an inner doubt.

People often know very well what lies they are trying to tell themselves.
Because this process, suppressing your own better knowledge, is nasty, many things can become a reminder of the truth, thus people who are suppressing pain have a habit, especially when reminded of it, to counteract in order to keep the self-lie up. A bit like when covering your ears and going “LALALALALA I can’t hear you”, but usually more active. Eventually this can turn into an offensive agenda of trying to spread your self-deception-based belief system in order to get external validation, to suppress inner doubt; to increase the likeliness of encountering people supportive of your lie and decrease the likeliness of encountering reminders of the suppressed pain. People who are doing that are becoming a slave to their inner demon, an agent, spreading the gospel of fear.

I had many encounters of this type. One I remember was at a house party where a couple with relationship problems had the tension over the husband’s neglection of the wife with child boil up. But I began helping them open up and understand each other’s grievances and pain, and just when it started to get somewhere healing, the girl whose home it was (whose personality was quite easy to read) invervened authoritatively and made sure that this open expression of feelings ended and that the wife got properly drunk instead. The way she herself quite obviously likes to deal with issues. (She at one point, during a discussion about the effects of alcohol, while drunk, dropped the hilarious self-parodizing sitcom-worthy line (with the intention of expressing her professional insights) that alcohol kills brain cells and that she knows because she works at a beverage market.)
It was saddening and frustrating, because since it was her home, there’s wasn’t much space for adversity over the matter without getting asked to leave.
And thus, long time later, from what I was told, the couple still struggled with the same issues. It was one of the many non-opportunities to cause positive change in my life. Outside of the setting of that house party, they wouldn’t have agreed to a private meeting anyway, due to their usual emotional state of avoidance. It was a chance ruined by an agent of pain; by someone who had willingly succumbed to weakness in the face of pain. And as usual, as long as there is no incentive to change, that person, too, couldn’t be helped.

The Mutual Fools Game

I’ve read an article about Malcolm X and realized how similar my experience/perception is to his.

The article mentioned that he talked about a game of “You fool me and I fool you”. I tend to refer to this as the wearing of masks, but in more detail, I recently gained an even stronger awareness of how this game works. (I understood long ago; I’m just talking about renewed awareness here.)

‘Weak’ people have emotional attachments – they strive for comfort and convenience; they shun discomfort. Others know how to exploit that for their own gain. It’s basically some egoists exploiting other egoists as well as altruists. And the game ‘works’ with those that decide to join it. It’s a deadly game, but within its parameters it works. The real threat is when someone doesn’t play along. You attack one node and others will compensate.

One good example of this mutual fooling is censorship of vulgarity on TV – the bleeping. By now everybody knows the word that is being bleeped, they probably even hear it in their head when they hear a bleep, yet they keep this idiocy up, because acting realistically would cause too much discomfort in a lot of egocentric TV viewers and thus in the entertainment businesses, too.

Oh wow, I just realized a perfect, classical analogy for this problem: The Emperor’s New Clothes.
You might think these days everybody would point out he is not wearing clothes, but that would be foolish, too. The Emperor is an authority figure. Today there are similar situations, often similarly ridiculous, and the number of people willing to point out the obvious truth is small. Naturally, in the story, it is a child’s untainted perception that does it. It hasn’t learned about the things it is supposed to be afraid of yet. A free mind. Sometimes people accept this in children because they secretly envy their purity, but when problems are growing as they are now, they start to become afraid of their children and try to corrupt them as soon as possible to prevent them from being an uncomfortable reminder of what is healthy.

Another good exemplary case is Obama. Hyped by a psychologically optimized marketing campaign as the champion of black people, the giver of hope. (The word “hope” is really starting to bother me, because it is often a tool for personal disempowerment and rejection of responsibility.) Rock star Obama. This created such a powerful emotional attachment, people projecting their personal ideas of what he supposedly embodies, that you now, still, have many millions of people in a severe state of denial, busy finding excuses and justifications for the things Obama does that don’t fit into their ideas. They are trying to avoid mental-emotional discomfort, which is a very selfish motivation, and based in fear.

Then there’s the related case of Obama having been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – in advance! Which is ludicrous. They said that they hope this will give an impulse/incentive/inspiration for him to actually live up to it. This is extreme denial based on an equally extreme attachment. With this, the Nobel prize committee is serving their own egoistical desires of avoiding discomfort. They, too, are signaling Obama that he got them in his pocket. His mental slaves. Enslaved by the mere fear of some discomfort. So much for fighting the enslavement of the black people, hah. You say “Who’d have thought a black man would become president one day?”. I say: “Who’d have thought a black man would become a mass enslaver one day?” … Well, I’d have. Because why not? I don’t delude myself. I don’t fuel the bitter irony of judging by skin color.

There are so many other cases of the same control games. Sometimes it can seem difficult to find an oasis of health in that environment. Especially if people are put to the test, once the mutual fools game of telling each other and yourself lies is broken and actions drown out words.

I tell you, it’s not at all a pleasant feeling to repeatedly see your cynicism being confirmed as realism. But this is a discomfort I prefer over sacrificing the truth. No matter how bad the situation is, you gotta act based on it, and if you don’t, it will only get worse.
Sadly, when things go down that road, it’s usually the knowing ones who become the first victims. Because at that point, people will be so much in the grasp of fear that they will passionately feed their inner demons.

Those who kick downwards in the power structure are the problem. Those who punch upwards are the solution.
People are deluding themselves into believing they found a comfortable way of being courageous.

They are fools.

Courage is – by definition – uncomfortable.

Like Malcolm X, I want to be remembered as sincere.
(Although – and this SHOULD go without saying – more important to me than being remembered as sincere is to actually be sincere.)

Another important thing to point out is that this popular system of wearing masks is also what makes it possible for sociopaths to succeed. They’re merely gaming the system. When you cannot or don’t want to see past a mask, then you cannot know what’s under it, if anything at all.

A Study in Reality Denial

An example of how much many people are willing to completely abandon perception of obvious reality in order to satisfy their personal unhealthy attitudes.

First, in order to understand the degree of sickness that can be found in games like World of Warcraft (but also in the outside world) imagine yourself in this situation:

You’re standing in front of the post office, talking to a friend. Suddenly someone approaches you and says: “Move!”. You: “Eh, what? Why?” He: “You jerk are blocking sight of my destination.” You: “No need to be rude. What’s the problem with blocking your sight? You can just walk around us, there’s no problem at all.” He: “Pal, I’m not arguing here. Just move, OK? Don’t be a dick by making life harder for everybody.” You: “What’s wrong with you? Why the hell don’t you just walk around us? The post office is right there. It’s impossible to miss.” He: “Alright, I asked you a very simple thing, but apparently you want to annoy people. I will call the police and tell them about what you are doing here. They will lock you up for at least a week.”

Yeah, this is reality. People are doing that.

I was in World of Warcraft on my free-to-play account, in Ironforge where the Chistmas presents are available for opening. The usual scene there is that it is very crowded, with dozens of players idling right in front of the presents, blocking sight – but not access, since a long time ago the game was modified so that you can click any interactive object even if a player is standing right on it.
Occasionally a player would park their huge mount right on the presents to troll people. More often, others are just not considerate enough to realize they’re standing on an object.

This problem can be solved by zooming into first person view and/or just approaching the presents from the backside where not a single player was standing, but that would have required people to use their brain – something that is increasingly resented in WoW, and the game further caters to that trend.

So I was watching and doing my creative brainstorming, and I eventually figured out that I could use my proto drake mount to align myself in an odd angle that made it stem its foot against Santa’s chair and span its wing over him like an umbrella. Beautiful.
So I did that.

WoWScrnShot_122514_215530 (position example)

And then the shitstorm started.

You see, WoW attracts the worst kind of people and encourages unhealthy tendencies, so there were tons of people who totally felt like they had to satisfy their need for practicing righteous indignation and restoring neat and tidy total order for their personal ideas of how the world should be. Apparently the game lore with the fanatic Scarlet Crusade hasn’t taught them anything.

So what happened was that very many people totally ignored the fact that I wasn’t even visually blocking Santa or the presents and kept rudely bothering and insulting me via whispers and says and bathing in their own arrogance and supposed moral superiority.

Amusingly, every now and then someone would use some kind of toy to make all the players standing around there start to cry. It was so appropriate.

Not kidding: One guy even said I am ruining people’s Christmas with what I’m doing. Total insanity!

“Simple as that” – Words of denial
WoWScrnShot_122514_221613 (Simple as that - The words of denial)

Another one complained that on Alliance side the presents are positioned against a wall. That realization – which isn’t even that relevant – would already have contained the solution – to take a look at the free backside of the area. But people only see what they want to see.
I had opened 50 presents earlier, under worse conditions, without making a fuss. Seriously, it’s like people complaining on Easter that the eggs are hidden.

At some point they started making up obvious lies about people having gotten banned earlier the day for it. They just couldn’t stand the idea that they might not get their way, so they decided to move into a power-trippy phantasy world.
This triumphant crying for the authorities whenever something touches people’s control issues is making things easier for fascism.
When the next tyranny succeeds, blame the common rabble.

One or two people who whispered me first called me names, saying how ugly and evil I am, and then finished by wishing me merry Christmas and a nice evening. Yeah, so much for this being a sincerely serious issue to them. They’re just saying such totally contrary stuff so that they can preserve their self-image of being a good person. It’s all about them and their bullshit.

One theme that persisted through all those interactions: I was practicing a socratic dialogue, and the simple inquiry about the reality at hand, about what I am supposedly blocking, either immediately silenced people, or made them actively refuse to tell me what they see, or make claims contrary to the obvious reality. Yeah, this is all too familiar. Cases like these, and you should remember that, are not some unconscious delusion. Those people KNOW very well that they are talking bullshit. They have made a conscious decision not to care about the facts; to sacrifice the truth so that they can continue their egomanic crusade.

Of all the people bothering me, only a single one so much as mentioned the mailbox, whose space my character kinda occupied. I then, again in the spirit of socratic dialogue, asked how she knows there is a mailbox there. (Because any idiot would have been able to access it without any problem.) Again, silence.

Also, one person actually gave me an answer to my question, about how my dragon mount is positioned, eliminating any doubt one could have had, about a possible desync between my and other clients or such.

One of the players who every now and then decdided to park his huge mount right on top of the presents (which actually makes it very easy to even see them, since the model is empty inside) summed it up nicely:
“You don’t cry over 100 people standing around there but as soon as 1 mount come, all hell breaks loose.”

And they’re complaining about ME?!
WoWScrnShot_122514_232234 (And they're complaining about me_!)

And this fact involves a case of amazing hypocrisy, because one guy who kept bothering me and didn’t tolerate my presence eventually parked his character right in front of some presents and went AFK, like so many other people that were collectively forming a visual barrier. And when he later came back and I pointed that out, he had the audacity to still act all righteous.
I ended the convo by saying I just realized he’s a retribution paladin and that I thus can’t enlighten him tonight. ^^

Now THAT’s a SOMEWHAT bigger issue, haha.
WoWScrnShot_122514_224249 (Now THAT's a slightly more justified issue, haha.)

The oddest convo I had, which makes me wonder whether one of the crazed lunatics set him up to it, was an apparently new player, level 13 char, who timidly asked me to stop blocking the quest objects, and when I told him that I already verified I am in fact not blocking them, the response was: “Oh, OK.” That really surprised me a little. But, it also motivated me to explain in more detail and give him hints about how to easily access visually blocked quest objects. It was the most intelligent conversation I had that evening with a player in Ironforge.

Reality check failed
WoWScrnShot_122614_011258 (Reality check failed)

Probably the most amusing dialogue was when someone – apparently meant sarcastically – asked me whether I could move my mount closer to the presents. That gave me the opportunity to reply that I don’t want to block Santa or the presents.
Again, silence after that, haha. The power of truth.

At some point I pondered the question whether I should feel sorry for the GMs being confronted with all that ridiculous report spam. But no, they designed the game in a way to attract the worst of society and encourage immaturity and rotten character, making no effort to direct young players towards maturity, which they totally could if they weren’t such money-grabbers.
They probably have an automated filtering system for player reports anyway.

This reminds me of two things:
1) An experience I had on the WoW forums long ago where people wasted an astonishing amount of energy with resisting simply helping me out with something just so that they could showcase their arrogant – and false – beliefs. Pompous blood elf paladins and wannabe-MVP draenei shamans and such. Eventually it took an orc death knight to get the job done. A “can do” guy among many naysayers. … And afterwards the egomaniacs were still attempting their control games and trying to save face. Here’s the link in case you’d like to know all the details:
2) Something I blogged about earlier that conveys the spirit in which I did what I did that evening:

When there is uproar among the lowly peasants, I just find it ado-rabble. ^^