The current president has ordered ICE to start rounding up people he does not like in major cities across the country. I kind of thought that the entire country was a sanctuary for all people, not just people you like.
I always get a little nervous when this happens. Where will it end? Seventy five years ago Anne Frank said “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
Imagine if you knew someone was hiding. Just trying to survive. Would you go to your boss or authorities and give them up? Would you be able to carry that weight? Or would you fold yourself into a ball and close your eyes to the suffering in front of you?
There was not much of a landing ceremony. Rather than planting a flag I thought of something else. Years ago I saw a couple had carved their initials on a tree. Eventually the tree would be gone, but there love would be eternal.
After checking all the lander’s systems I powered up a rover. They are very small and reminded me of radio controlled toy trucks. I set up a pre-programmed path for the rover to spell out my wife’s initials on some open ground. If you had a powerful enough telescope you might see it.
I carved my love for her in stone. My words here may still disappear but my love will always be more blood than ink.
Looking at the video I could see we were coming in more like an airplane to a runway rather than an elevator. The thrusters gave one last big burst to slow the lander down and then the airbags deployed. They turned the lander into a giant beachball bouncing over the sand. This went on for awhile and the video would make you motion sick. Eventually it came to a halt on the inside rim of a crater. Gyroscopes rotated the lander to an upright position and the bags jettisoned releasing their air. It looks messy but it worked. I aligned the antennas and sent a message home. Technically this is now home, possibly for the next billion years.
At this Point I do not know what to believe. The warning light is still on but the telemetry is telling me that the lander is on course. What am I worried about? I am an expendable machine at this point. The flesh and blood version of me is watching this at some mission control center. If I am destroyed in the crash, they will send another version. Ultimately they will launch hundreds of versions of me. I’ll have to get used to being destroyed again and again.
As the Lander looks like it is going to crash, I begin to wonder if all this is a good idea. Marsha Colton spent a lot of money on some very cutting edge technology. The semiconductors in Taiwan. The aerospace hardware in Israel. The software in Silicon Valley. Thousands of people and millions of dollars largely out of public view. I checked the onboard telemetry and it looked fine despite the information the Lander was sending home. Then it occurred to me. What if they want people to think the lander crashed?
All these years entrepreneurs have been telling people to think outside of the box. Now they have to figure how to get me into a box. It is like trying to fit into an old pair of blue jeans. Even one digitized person takes up a certain amount of storage space. I am told I originally took up a building full of servers. They wanted to get it down to a single server and eventually to a single chip. The chip gets loaded into a time capsule and becomes part of a mesh network with regular updates of the entire Internet. Various capsules will disconnect over random intervals to avoid destructive viruses and then replicate new networks. The idea is to survive almost anything.
The Lander warning light is on. There is a problem as we approach the lunar surface. If there is a crash, will I even feel anything?
Signs on restroom doors have gotten complicated. I saw solution and I’ll have to go back and take a picture of it. Rather than a stylized picture of a person, it was a picture of toilet. Sometimes the solution is not depicting the user, it is depicting the use.
Alan Turing said if you cannot tell if you are talking to a machine, the machine is artificially intelligent. The early versions of me would give awkward or formal responses. Later versions would still get in some trouble by not getting inside jokes. If your friends could still tell, you had to keep working at it. The oddest test is for you to talk to yourself. Of course you know it is not you, but at some point the artificial version cannot tell if you are real or not. From that point it was a separate person that could learn and adapt its behavior. It is odd to never be tired or hungry.
Today Americans celebrate when the cast of Hamilton decided that they would not be ruled or influenced by foreign governments or inherited wealth. I’m glad that didn’t happen. Excuse me. What’s that? Really? Well, I’m glad that at least there aren’t tanks in the streets of Washington. What’s that? Really? Oh dear.
Getting turned into artificial intelligence is like filling out the world’s longest social media application. Every kind of personal question you could imagine, every thing you ever said or wrote wound up in what they called Minerva mapping. I asked if this was part of some pre-existing secret government program. They said no, it was part of a routine marketing profile. I was not the customer. I was the guinea pig. The first version of me they built could beat most email filters but they needed more. They wanted the undocumented stories of my life. Most artificial intelligence does fine in structured situations. They wanted to know how I behaved in unusual ones. I was uncomfortable with it, but it seemed like a fair trade for virtual immortality.
The sun was setting on Billy Thoreau’s estate, high on a hill overlooking the California coast. Billy was not there to enjoy it. He was considered lost at sea in a ship collision back in 2012. Since then, his family hosted an award ceremony every summer. They used to hold it in August, but it was too hot. The next year they held it July, but it was still too hot. By the next year they held it in June and with the intense heat, the next event would happen in May. Attending the event was the only time many of its wealthy guests would experience global warming.
Four people stood next to the pool instead of hiding in the big air conditioned wedding reception tent, Tech billionaire Marsha Colton, showbiz legend Aaron Auschmann, the mysterious futurist Ten Kay. And me, reporter Nowah Guy. We knew what the heat meant.
The question was what to do about the heat. The odds were good that climate change would kill everybody on the planet. Even the richest person in the most heavily defended secret bunker with the largest amount of canned extinct tuna would eventually die. Even if a handful of Amazonians survived they would not be able to rebuild civilization. Nothing would be left.
So we decided to not go gently into that good night. We would collect all the knowledge we could and put it in time capsules all over the planet. Maybe surviving humans would find and make use of it.
Ten Kay thought maybe something else like a digital assistant to explain all the stored information. Network all the time capsules with orbiting satellites and call it Blood Moon.
He looked at me when he said it. Why me? He said because I spent my life explaining technology. The problem of course is that satellites eventually fall to the ground. The moon never does. In fact, it is slowly moving away. But if you put artificial intelligence on the moon it would still be able to communicate or at least observe what was going on Earth.
The lander was in the final approach of lunar descent. Touchdown was in one hour. They said it was automatic and I would not have to do anything. Frankly, I could not have done anything, just watch as the surface seemed to speed by with more and more detail of craters and mountains. The thing nobody talks about are the moon’s magnetic anomalies, variations that can throw off orbiting or landing spacecraft. There is a reason the moon does not have its own little moons. They either crashed or wandered off somewhere. This was their first try and I was their guinea pig. I volunteered the way a pirate on the gangplank volunteers to take a dive. They made an offer to a drowning man and I took it. Now I had too much time to think about how all this started.
This marks my twenty fifth year on the web. My first website was painfully assembled HTML. Fifteen years ago Doug Wray came up with one of the first WordPress designs that you see here. I hope for many more versions over the next few years. Thank you for visiting. This site continues to do its work.
I was pulling out of a shopping center on a hot summer afternoon at a busy six lane intersection. The light turned green but nobody was moving. I looked ahead and see a very small older woman in a traditional wheelchair trying to push her way across the crosswalk. She was in trouble. Before I could do anything, a homeless man rode up on a bicycle, left it on a corner and helped push her across the street. He left the most valuable thing he owned help a stranger. You know what else? Nobody honked. There is an old punchline about crossing the road to get to the other side. With enough patience and compassion we will all help each other get to the other side.
It is Pride Month. The old divisions and polarities are shredded and rewoven into a flag, with each thread a different person. Reinforcing old divisions or creating new barriers does not move us forward. When some people complain about emasculating this or defeminizing that, those terms are Victorian steampunk. They want to deny someone a job, housing, education or basic human rights because they are uncomfortable. The differences were always there and they will have get used to the rest of humanity. The flag is still there.
The last few days have seen a series of anniversaries for human rights. A hundred years ago American women got the right to vote. Seventy five years ago Allied forces invaded France on D-Day. Fifty years ago the Stonewall riots erupted in New York City. Thirty years ago Chinese students protested in Tiananmen Square. At this very moment there are a million protestors in the streets of Hong Kong. All these events are part of a progression toward greater freedom. If you can read this, it is working.
As I look out across all of you here today I am reminded of all those who could not be here. They never had a chance to go to college. Whatever personal goals you have, you should work toward making college free for all. Without the burden of debt, this investment fights poverty. It creates a middle class important for democracy.
You see a lot of things in California. I saw a man skating down the street with a large snake wrapped around his left arm. I would have taken a picture but I was driving. I had a lot of questions. Was he on his way to lunch with a fire eater, a juggler and a small car full of clowns? Was it for personal defense? Was it a rescue snake? Was it an emotional support snake? Was he moving the snake away from actor Samuel L. Jackson? Was he just taking it for a walk… or slither?
On May 24, 2019 NPR presented Sarah Bowen of North Carolina State University, Sinikka Elliott of the University of British Columbia and Joslyn Brenton of Ithaca College. Their book is ” Pressure Cooker: Why Home Cooking Won’t Solve Our Problems and What We Can Do About It”. They said “But inequality is baked into our food system. If good health depends on eating real food, it’s time to make sure all families get the support they need to eat well. This means making healthy food more affordable, but it also means addressing the other challenges families face: for example, by guaranteeing workers a living wage and fair working conditions and by investing in families through universal free school lunch and subsidized child care, so that parents don’t feel like they’re doing it all on their own.”
Bill Hader and Henry Winkler lead a great cast on a dark journey. A veteran hit man considers switching to acting. Tarentino meets Saturday Night Live.
Game of Thrones
Never watched it. I usually wait until a series is over. I then watch the first and last episodes. If it is worth it I watch the whole thing. That is rare. Frankly I already know a lot about medieval Europe and the reality is much stranger than fantasy. The good news is it is finished.
An environmental catastrophe is denied by a powerful Russian elite while millions of people suffer. Quite a lesson. Some very brave people sacrificed themselves to save the rest of us. Years later we learn their story. The scariest moments are simple like a dead bird on a sidewalk or a flashlight going out.
It started out surreal but could not keep up with our current Surrealty. Kind of a warning of how weird things are right now.
Wyatt Cenac Problem Areas
Funny approaches to serious issues. Love the retro set.
The story of the very real Ann Lister in 1830s England. If you studied gender issues or were there at the revolution you probably know about her. She left a large amount of documentation to future generations. I like the song played over the credits.