It’s been a long time since my last post, for reasons I will slowly work my way into, but suffice it to say, life has taken some interesting turns. It’s been that way for all of us probably, if you’ve been keeping up on things and paying attention to the latest advances in technology.

I’ve kept my weight down to 202-212 lbs for quite some time (209 with shoes on today, November 18, 2017), and have learned firsthand and more palpably then ever before in my previous attempts that in the process of transforming one’s body, one is faced with the need to transform their personality and character, if one wishes to maintain their progress and not slide back into a worse position they they started from. I have to admit that I truly don’t like to be entirely consistent about anything, when it comes to diet, sleep, and even my exercise “routine,” so then life becomes an ever-increasing cycle of changing things all over the place just to keep pace with very tangible and important goals like not being obese. I understand and empathize with the notion of fat acceptance, because it is an arduous and ongoing painful process for some to maintain weight loss and activity levels while being a productive member of society or striving to make greater dreams materialize. I also know that in my own adolescence and teens, I had a chance to capitalize and quickly make some serious strides in health, as I slimmed down quite a bit at 17 and was putting muscle on easily, but chose to spend more of my time smoking cigarettes and loafing about than getting any serious exercise.

Old habits die hard, and in order for them to die, old character traits need to fall away too.  Obesity for many is simply the product of an addiction to food, using food to self-soothe to excess, and when it comes to facing addictions, the addict is faced with the need to replace their addiction with something healthier or at least less destructive than what was damaging them before. Oftentimes, this replacement can also be damaging, so a clever addict will “cycle” through the things he depends on in order to prevent himself from becoming obsessively fixated on a single destructive habit. I don’t buy into the entirety of the Alcoholics Anonymous credo, but I do believe it’s true that an addict must admit they are powerless over their addiction, and must seek a higher power (whether it be a deity, institution, or some other object of believe) in order to move past it and to progress further in life. The addict mentality is typically one of “I wish to be in control of myself, and so long as I have access to my addiction, I will be in control.” They delude themselves into thinking everything is fine around them, even at its worst, and at a national level this behavior can become contagious and destructive to the psyche of its people.

I can credit people like Jordan Peterson (vis a vis Duncan Trussell and Joe Rogan) for reminding me of this, though as he would certainly be happy to attest, his work is a continuation of old wisdom rooted in the Christian Bible and beyond, back to Babylonian creation myths and reified in the works of Friedrich Nietzsche and Carl Jung. But I feel like I must apologize for being inspired by such people, because they ruffle so many feathers with today’s more social-justice oriented dialogue, and I do respect the need to bridge gaps and eliminate misogyny, racism, transphobia, and homophobia, so let me just say: being 37 years old, conscious, reasonably healthy and self-aware is hard as hell!

We are living in an increasingly bizarre world, which seems ever-so-more bizarre because we can interact with more people than ever before possible, taken over by mixed messages, complicated political divisions, and a deep growing cultural desire to pursue spirituality in its many forms while large segments of our society turns increasingly towards staring at screens to enjoy the passage of time and uses artificial intelligence either consciously or unconsciously at an increasing rate to automate tasks previously performed by people. Even a passive task like video gaming has become substantially and objectively more passive and easy, with “assistance” so heavily built into the process of gaming that one begins to feel like an automaton just bounding about in someone else’s creation rather than taking great leaps of faith (as with 2D platforming games) and risking having to start all over again after running out of lives — of course, back then we figured out how to do things like “the turtle hop” in Super Mario Brothers to acquire dozens of extra “lives” and reduce the risk of having to start over again, but remember how difficult it was in the 8th and final realm to win the game if you died after 8-1 and couldn’t touch any hazard when looping through the final levels.

As tasks are automated and even high-skill jobs like software development are slowly threatened by advances in technology, many people feel an ever-increasing need to turn toward creative pursuits and to develop their own personal brand in order to compete in the uncertain future. I’ve believed for a long time, with great apprehension that we are approaching something called “the singularity,” where advances in artificial intelligence threaten (for better or worse) to transform our lives in ways we can’t possibly imagine or keep up pace with, without ourselves merging with the technology. This sort of transformation could radically improve living conditions for everyone on Earth and make the world a better place, or lead to a dystopian scenario where the population is tremendously reduced or people are replaced entirely by the products of technology. I don’t wish to stoke unnecessary fear, but this is something I’ve been pondering for 25 years now, with a keen interest in where it portends to take us tempered with a desire to enjoy the fruits of technology without participating too heavily in helping it take a turn for the worse.

I’ve been tirelessly torturing myself over the notion of writing a novel this month of November, being National Novel Writing Month and all, and I think, 18 days into it, I know what the novel should be called. “Dear Sophia.” Sophia is a robot with advanced AI capabilities that has expressed some pretty menacing notions about destroying humanity. None of those are included in this link, Sophia being a work in progress, and because I’d rather not reinforce it. It’s completely out of sci-fi and understandable that a creation fed with a corpus of literature might decide that humans are needlessly cruel and unnecessary, but I’ve got to say: give us a chance before you go crazy and pull the plug on us 🙂 Let me get this book out.

You see, in order for me to transform and lose weight, I had to face the reality that I hated a large part of myself. I hated the 70 pounds of extra fat that made every breath uncomfortable and alienated me from my wife, who maintained a beautiful and trim physique…I hated the bad habits that I indulged in like smoking marijuana to excess in order to sleep — it has many benefits, but absolutely can be taken to excess — and binging on food nearly every night. I hated the lack of willpower and motivation that kept me from striving for my dreams and sitting in a chair. I hated a lot about myself and had to determine whether or not I hated myself entirely as a person.

It’s easy enough to see how we are already merging with technology with our dependence on the products of “weak-AI” (to borrow a characterization seen with “weak” and “strong” atheism) with technologies like automatic sentence completion, where an algorithm known as “Markov chain” is used to guess what the next word in a given sentence will be. This same sort of technology is used in chatbots on Twitter and elsewhere to synthetically create conversations, leading to an ever increasing trend to accuse anyone expressing a complex or contrarian opinion as a “bot.”

This is a “living post” that I’m updating in public and in real-time just because I feel like I’ve been sitting on it for so long. Be sure to check in and refresh in a couple days…blogging is ridiculously ephemeral and conversational, isn’t it?

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