Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto. Now make me a sandwich.

I think that vacuum robots on their tiny rolls are not very well suited for human environments. Sure, they do work in a limited set of use cases, but they struggle with even moderate levels of household chaos. Therefore, I predict that household robots will not become a widespread thing unless they start moving on feet and have at least one arm, like Boston Dynamic’s spot, just more affordable.

They’ll be able to vacuum even difficult areas better than humans; they’ll handle pet vomit, litter boxes, toys and stuff that’s on the ground, they’ll be able to wet clean floors and the bath. High carpets won’t be a problem, neither staircases, and mid-sized objects that are in their way (e.g. chairs) can be shoved aside temporarily.

I believe the technology is already here, it’s just a case of shrinking IP licensing and manufacturing cost. Not sure how fast the acceptance and adoption rate of walking household robots will be, though; but if you’re a manufacturer of such a thing and are looking for test subjects, here I am, take me! I have a perfect set of bachelor chaos going on.

Just make it so that the thing doesn’t kill me with a knife while I’m asleep 🙂

I don’t love you anymore

Hey, Boomer saturday here. Well, in Europe I’m a Boomer, in the US I’d be a GenX’er 🙂

So I was thinking about what has been going on over the last 10 or so years — in terms of people who are good in principle, but let themselves be manipulated into doing bad things. Destroying the remainder of an old scientist’s life for saying something nice in a slightly awkward way. Misconstruing an author’s maybe somewhat backwards, but nevertheless well-meaning words into something horrible that was never said. Giving in to demands to remove a respected elderly science and reason advocate from a conference because he shared one borderline tasteless video clip online, causing him a stroke from the undeserved aggravation.

It’s called „cancel culture“ and the list is endless. I’m not saying criminal offenders shouldn’t be brought to justice; of course they should. I’m saying that people are being cancelled, lives destroyed outside of the justice system for having a different opinion, or trying to look at things in a more nuanced way, or simply for being slightly awkward with words; and then the mob decides not to look at the complete picture before participating in a public stoning.

While thinking about this, for some reason, the line from this old Eurythmics song came to mind this morning:

Now you think that you’re forgiven, but you can’t be born again

And whoever I noticed doing something like that, and not give an honest apology once they discovered their mistake, I’m sorry to say that I lost all respect and that

I don’t love you anymore.

AWAY von Netflix ist keine harte Science Fiction

AWAY von Netflix ist nicht Hard Sci-Fi, sondern Science Fantasy.

Normalerweise verfasse ich keine Reviews, aber „Away“ hat bei mir einen Nerv getroffen. Es wird als harte Science Fiction vermarktet, also als wissenschaftlich korrekt, aber das ist gelogen. „Away“ ignoriert Physik und ist daher Science Fantasy, genau wie Star Wars/Star Trek. Nur weniger spannend.

Warum ignoriert es Physik? Weil die Charaktere per Handy und Tablet mit der Erde telefonieren. Ohne Latenz, unabhängig von der Lichtlaufzeit. Und sie telefonieren unablässig, pausenlos, sie tun kaum etwas anderes, als zu telefonieren. Und zu skypen. Mit Überlichtgeschwindigkeit.

Die Sache mit den Handies nervt mich nicht so sehr, das ist technisch kein Problem (WLAN an Bord, Richtfunk-Relais zur Erde). Über die Null-Latenz komme ich aber nicht hinweg. Anscheinend gibt’s einen Punkt, ab dem keine direkte Kommunikation mehr möglich ist, wie ein Off-Schalter. Statt stetig zunehmender Latenz ist ab Tag X keine direkte Kommunikation mehr möglich. Das ist physikalisch unmöglich und zerstört jeglichen Anschein von Realismus. Wahrscheinlich haben die Macher der Show sich dafür entschieden, Lichtlaufzeiten aus dramaturgischen Gründen zu ignorieren. Dabei hätte gerade dieses Detail entscheidend zum Realismus beitragen können. Die wachsende Latenz würde das Gefühl der Abgeschiedenheit vervielfachen und für dramaturgische Komplikationen sorgen.

Davon abgesehen ist die Show langweilig. Die Crew ist unprofessionell und unglaubwürdig. Zwei Unfälle und zwei medizinische Notfälle in den ersten Wochen der Reise? Die Crew kann sich gegenseitig nicht ausstehen? Wirklich? Werden Astronauten nicht einem psychologischen Screening unterzogen? Bei einer dreijährigen Mission ist das essenziell. Ruhige und überlegt handelnde Menschen sind hier gefordert, die psychologisch stabil und berechenbar sind. Aber statt dessen haben sämtliche Mitglieder der Crew irgendwelche familiären Notfälle auf der Erde – in der Realität würde man diese Menschen nicht einmal zusammen in einen Aufzug stecken, geschweige denn für drei Jahre auf engstem Raum in ein Raumschiff fernab der Erde.

Die sich schon in den ersten Wochen der Reise entwickelnden Familiendramen auf der Erde sind langatmig, langweilig und vorhersehbar. Außerdem gibt es in AWAY wieder die typischen Token-Minderheiten, die auf jeden Fall in jeder Serie des 21. Jahrhunderts vorkommen müssen, damit der Twitter-Mob sich nicht aufregt – ein farbiges Crewmitglied mit weißer Mutter, insgeheim lesbische Chinesin, mehrere behinderte Charaktere, jegliche Schlüsselrolle von Frauen besetzt. Das wäre alles schön und gut, wenn es plausibel wäre. Diese Anhäufung von Repräsentation ist es nicht; die Charaktere sind nicht gut genug, um das glaubhaft zu machen.

Sehr enttäuschend. Apples „For All Mankind“ geht in eine ähnliche Richtung wie „Away“, ist dabei aber sehr viel geschickter im Umgang mit seiner Prämisse. Würde mich wundern, wenn „Away“ eine zweite Season erhält.

Do Mentally Unprepared People Break Democracy?

SO THIS PERSON I recently un-friended on FB and in IRL DM’ed me again, sending me a screenshot from an official WHO document that talks about simulations and exercises to increase preparedness in case of a pandemic (including preparing for a deliberate release of pathogens, i.e. bio terrorism or warfare). They insisted this was proof that „the virus was a planned thing!“ They also asked me how to put this screenshot up on Wikipedia (I’m not making this up).

I pointed out to the person that the document needn’t be put on Wikipedia, because it’s an official WHO document that’s freely available on the WHO website and provided them with the URL. I am not even certain that they knew where their own screenshot was pulled from, or whether they made any attempt at all to locate it themselves (it took me all of 90 seconds to find the document in question).

Since the person is Polish-German, I wondered whether their English might maybe a bit rusty, so I translated that part from the screenshot they sent me into German. They came back insisting that MY TRANSLATION is a proof that „the virus“ was planned and released purposefully (again, not kidding).

I explained as politely as I could that they cannot just lift a few words out of context and then construct a new meaning from them that fits their crude worldview. I also expressed my concern that they might have lost their ability for logical reasoning, to which they lengthily replied that they believe LOGICAL REASONING is the source of a lot of suffering, and that they therefore rather FEEL instead of reason. This person is an IT professional, btw. I am uncertain how an IT professional can function with this kind of belief system.

I told them that I unfriended them for a reason and that I do not wish to continue this line of discussion, because I’ve had enough tinfoil this year and can’t take any more of it in my private life. This probably won’t be the end of it, though.


When 2020 showed me one thing then it’s that there are so many more poor thinkers out there than I had ever imagined. This is a real problem and a real threat. Logical reasoning and being aware of one’s own biases needs to be made top priority in education going forward, but I’m afraid that’s not going to happen. It would require to officially acknowledge that a large portion of everyday people are mentally unprepared. Which would inevitably lead to the cancellation of the politician or public figure who said it first. And just for the record, I’m talking about both left- and right-leaning people, both sides of the aisle are affected.

I’m afraid democracy breaks down when a very large portion of the populace can’t think straight even if their life depended on it.

How to be a nutjob

Recently, I had a run-in with a moon-hoaxer on a supposedly science-based longevity group on FaceBook. I put him on my ban-list immediately, didn’t even bother to argue with him. I also left the group, because that wasn’t the first incident of its kind. But what I could not put on a ban-list or leave behind was my own nagging suspicion that I may not be as different in some ways. And that’s kind of hurtful. I need to cut through the knot.

I had been wondering for a long time already about what distinguishes a futurist’s ideas from that of a science and logic-denier. What’s the distinguishing factor between someone who seriously believes that the moon landings were faked and me? Or someone who thinks that Bill Gates is planning on delivering nanochips via vaccines to control the populace — and me, who is convinced that we’ll have strong AI, molecular nanotech, will solve or control all diseases including age-related ones, save the planet before it’s too late, and colonize space… And who hopes to still be around a hundred years from now to see it all come to fruition?

Both views are somewhat extreme when viewed from the outside. I’d like to believe that the science-denier can be easily debunked, and that my arguments can at least be discussed within a rational science-based framework. Also, I like to think that I am capable of changing my views upon contradicting evidence, even if I strongly dislike the new evidence. Am I, though?

From the outside, it may appear as if I’m trying to justify myself to avoid cognitive dissonance. I’m not talking to many people about futurist and transhumanist topics for fear of being put just next to science-deniers and conspiracy-theorists. I’m scared to discover that I, in fact, am one; or at least, belong to one of their subspecies…

I know that at least half of my FaceBook friends aren’t futurists, even less transhumanists, and they may think that I’m a nutjob sometimes. Well, I probably am in some ways, but maybe not in those that you’re thinking of.

So if you see me claim something outrageous, please take me to the task. At worst, we’ll part agreeing to disagree. At best, we part both having learned something new.

We do what we’re told

Maybe the wide-spread police brutality seen in those protests can be better understood with the Milgram Experiment and the Stanford Prison Experiment. The cops are a group exercising power over another group, and they are following orders (not talking about Chauvin and his abetters here; they’re criminals). It’s an ugly part of human psychology I guess. Can this be curtailed, and if so, how?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment

The right to stay alive

I firmly believe that existing sentient beings have more rights than non-existing sentient beings. Or to be more precise: Existing sentient beings have all human rights, including the right of continued existence, whereas non-existing sentient beings are fictional and have no rights at all.

That being said, I cannot ignore the fact that there will be future generations of sentient beings. They may be fictional right now, but they are coming into existence every day, confronting us with fait accompli.

I am not implying that overpopulation is inevitable; rather I’m asking hypothetically, if it was inevitable, would this create an ethical obligation for pre-existing sentient beings to perish in order to make room for newly created sentient beings?

And do we pre-existing sentient beings have the right to act in self-defence?

So, if pre-existing sentient beings have the right of self-defence, which I personally strongly believe they do, wouldn’t that include preventing other sentient beings from creating more sentient beings? We’re getting into dark futurology territory pretty fast here.


I don’t think that bringing a sentient being into this world forfeits its creator’s right of existence. Or in laymen’s terms, I don’t agree that parents must die once their children are of legal age. Especially if that wasn’t specified in the generational contract agreed upon. Right now, there’s no such contract anway, except perhaps an unspoken one, because until now, it was never necessary. People aged and died anyway, one way or another.

We can certainly discuss whether this will change in the short term; it’s debatable right now. But as long as our technological civilzation continues on its path, it absolutely will change at some point. We’re going to have to answer those hard questions sooner or later.

 

Triggered? Maybe. Scared or misogynistic? Hardly.

I’m not stupid and I’m not a science denier. I agree that hundreds of millions of people will suffer negative consequences from climate change, and many things need to be done asap to reduce the damage. I doubt, however, that our civilization will end because of climate change, although I can’t be certain, obviously.

Personally, if you must know, my last international flight was in 1995, didn’t go on vacation since 2006, don’t own a car since 2011, and reduced my meat intake greatly starting two years ago. I am a proponent of reducing meat production as much as possible, because it makes no sense whatsoever and is also ethically questionable, to say the least. So whatever triggers me it’s not because I’m a SUV driving pork muncher with a private jet 😉

So what does trigger me?

Well, when I was a teen, we were as much scared of a nuclear war as the current generation is of climate change. I am not making this up — we were scared shitless! The cold war ended 30 years ago, because a Soviet politician by the name of Gorbachev had the will and power to make sweeping changes. Some of them backfired in a really bad way — could he have known this in advance? I think not. The world is far too complex for even the brightest among us to foresee all possible consequences.

Many of our dreams were destroyed, too, just as many of this generation’s dreams were destroyed. I’m still bummed beyond belief that there are no stations on moon and mars, that nuclear fusion remains energy negative to this day, and that cancer is still a thing. I was promised all that and more as a child, and all by the year 2000. WTF went wrong? I guess the destruction of dreams happens to almost everyone alive in some form or another.

Boomers and GenX’ers have had their own impending catastrophes and fought them as hard as they could, from Vietnam to CFC/FCKW to acid rain. Yes, many if not most, may have underestimated the rate of climate change; that’s because humans generally have difficulties properly judging rapid changes. I would be surprised if that wasn’t true for Millennials and GenY’ers as well. They’re still homo sapiens, are they not? 😉

I take offence when someone is finger pointing at previous generations blaming a situation on them that — all things considered — was not so easily avoidable. The world is awfully complex, and there’s societal momentum that is hard to escape, and there are common cognitive limitations and biases that are very hard to overcome.

I take offence when someone is implying — not saying, but implying — that previous generations caused all current problems out of greed and never did anything good. It’s simply not true; especially Boomers did a lot to further the human condition, and current generations are benefitting from it greatly (and yes, they f’ed up some stuff pretty bad, too, there’s no denying that).

However, I do NOT take offence when somebody is pointing out past omissions, and lines out our common responsibilities. We ARE in this together, after all. I for one have no intentions of going away anytime soon… or ever. Even if I will go on to live on mars at age 100, Earth is and will always remain MY planet just as much as yours! So if Millennials and GenY’ers would just stop insulting our intelligence and integrity, if they’d curb their perceived righteousness just a bit, we might be able to work as one and find solutions… instead of feeling compelled to write essay-sized blog posts like these.

And lastly, mentioned only in the preventative, I am not scared by young women; maybe a bit apprehensive, but certainly not scared mindless. Neither am I a misogynist 😉

Energieverlust. Macht Mars mobil?

Vor ziemlich genau 20 Jahren habe ich begonnen, FARNHAMS LEGENDE zu schreiben, meinen ersten veröffentlichten Roman. Damals hatte ich eine Menge Energie – ich bin von der Arbeit gekommen und habe geschrieben, habe am Wochenende geschrieben, tagsüber, nachts, immer. Während dieser Zeit bin ich sogar umgezogen und am Ende saß ich mit meinem Computer auf einer Matratze in einer leeren Wohnung und habe trotzdem weiter geschrieben.

Heutzutage fehlt mir die Energie. Zwar stehe ich morgens mit dem Wunsch auf, kreativ etwas zu erschaffen, und an freien Tagen und am Wochenende klappt das auch meistens. Aber unter der Woche abends habe ich die Energie nicht mehr. Meine Kreativität ist im Büro verflogen, ich will nichts mehr erschaffen. Ich will nur noch in Ruhe gelassen werden, passiv Medien konsumieren, und mit niemandem sprechen.

Ich wünschte, ich wüsste, wie ich meine Energie von damals wieder bekomme, wenigstens ein bisschen was davon.

Biologisches Altern ist ja ein Prozess, der struktuelle und molekulare Veränderungen des Körpers zur Folge hat. Dazu gehört auch ganz buchstäblich der Verlust von „Energie“ in Form verschiedener Arten des Moleküls NAD, das jede Zelle für ihren Stoffwechsel dringend benötigt. Ein Fünfzigjähriger hat davon nur noch ca. die Hälfte eines Zwanzigjährigen. Ich denke, dass das eine große Rolle spielt. Sicher nicht die einzige Ursache, aber eine der wichtigeren.

Ich baue darauf, dass dieses und andere Ungleichgewichte in den nächsten 5-15 Jahren pharmakologisch wieder ausgeglichen werden können, daher denke ich, dass meine momentane Energielosigkeit ein vorübergehender Zustand ist. Etwa wie eine Grippe oder so, nur über einen längeren Zeitraum hinweg.

Also, ihr Molekularbiologen da draußen, lasst die Petrischalen rotieren, eine Armee müder Krieger und Kriegerinnen zählt auf euch 😉

I am what I am, but what am I?

It’s weird, I’m 52 but I don’t feel like a real grown-up. I see folks from my cohort, or younger, with their houses and mortgages, children and multiple cars, they’re serious people, they mean business. And here am I with my dreams of a magnificent future, of spaceships, nanotech, agi, the end of aging, and humankind united at last. A future of which I’m strongly optimistic is possible in principle, but uncertain when it’ll arrive.

There’s a guitar and a bass on my wall, next to a stack of keyboards and an actual vocal booth in what used to be my bedroom. There are two handful of books with my name on it on my shelf. What am I? Who am I? Where do I belong? Where am I going, or am I in it just for the path, not for the destination? Is it right, is it wrong; should I be more like the other folks from my cohort? I’m asking myself that question often, but I have no answers. Maybe there are no easy answers.

It’s like it is. I can only do what I must to, cannot do anything else, cannot pretend to be somebody else. So I’ll continue walking along this path whether it’ll lead to my timely demise or to the red planet.

Watch me 👽

Autor, Admin, Arschloch