I went to the El Caserio Museo Igartubeiti yesterday in Gipuzcoa, Spain, as I traverse the Basque Country in Spain and France doing some exploratory research for a screenplay.
In much of my reading and research, people have noted that the Basques have always been adventurers and explorers — they’ve fanned out around the world and were eager to move to the Americas and the US.
I’ve been wondering about why this is, I mean why would some cultures be more eager to move thousands of miles away from home — it’s hard enough now, but imagine doing that in 1620 when you had never been on a boat (if you lived inland, many Basques were incredible sailors and shipbuilders) and maybe had never even seen the sea and certainly hadn’t been on a long boat voyage or seen any other country or culture apart from your own.
You’d have to be pretty… crazy. Or brave. Or, maybe it was because of their inheritance laws!
I found out that they had a system where the oldest son (or daughter! imagine that!) received the majority of the inheritance. For a non-wealthy family, that would mean the land (e.g. el caserio).
So basically, one child gets the cider press and the surrounding land. The rest of the children get token items and some words of encouragement and they set off on their own, which would seem to encourage high-risk, adventurous travels and endeavors and Wiki agrees:
In contrast to surrounding regions, ancient Basque inheritance patterns, recognised in the fueros, favoured survival of the unity of inherited land holdings. In a kind of primogeniture, these usually were inherited by the eldest male or female child. As in other cultures, the fate of other family members depended on the assets of a family: wealthy Basque families tended to provide for all children in some way, while less-affluent families may have had only one asset to provide to one child.
However, this heir often provided for the rest of the family (unlike in England, with strict primogeniture, where the eldest son inherited everything and often did not provide for others).
Even though they were provided for in some way, younger siblings had to make much of their living by other means. Before the advent of industrialisation, this system resulted in the emigration of many rural Basques to Spain, France or the Americas.
Harsh by modern standards, this custom resulted in a great many enterprising figures of Basque origin who went into the world to earn their way, from Spanish conquistadors such as Lope de Aguirre and Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, to explorers, missionaries and saints of the Catholic Church, such as Francis Xavier.
Interesting that the English had a similar system of inheritance and also a penchant for sailing around the world and mucking things up.
From gwern’s 2018 news:
I don’t know how many blue-collar workers they will put out of work—even if software is solved, the robotic hardware is still expensive! But factories will be salivating over them, I’m sure. (The future of self-driving cars is in considerably more doubt.)
A standard-issue minimum-wage Homo sapiens worker-unit has a lot of advantages. I expect there will be a lot of blue-collar jobs for a long time to come, for those who want them. But they’ll be increasingly crummy jobs. This will make a lot of people unhappy.
I think of Turchin’s ‘elite overproduction’ concept—how much of political strife now is simply that we’ve overeducated so many people in degrees that were almost entirely signaling-based and not of intrinsic value in the real world and there were no slots available for them and now their expectations & lack of useful skills are colliding with reality?
In political science, they say revolutions happen not when things are going badly, but when things are going not as well as everyone expected.
My speculative view is that there will be (or currently are) two competing revolts: one from the aspirational 14% and one from the working class.
Both will face disruption from automation. Both will be angry about a promised future that does not exist: the manufacturing jobs won’t be there anymore, but neither will the guaranteed high-wage jobs promised to college graduates.
I don’t think we have a way of talking about this really, or finding solutions to it that work for most of society. Something like the UBI can ameliorate the personal finance aspects of the disruption, but to me, that just feels like throwing money at the problem.
People want meaning and status through their work; they want to feel like they are important and making a contribution. Just giving people money doesn’t solve that.
I can’t stop laughing at the random stuff created by AI on AI Weirdness. These lists of AI-generated change.org petitions are wild:
Bad ideas/Lost Causes:
Dogs are not a thing!! Dog Owners are NOT Human beings!!
Help Bring Climate Change to the Philippines!
Taco, Chipotle, and Starbucks: Bring Back Lettuce Fries
Filipinos: We want your help stopping the killing of dolphins in Brazil in 1970’s
Mr.person: I want a fresh puppy in my home
Simple Stats Administration: Make Another proboscis.
Officials at Prince Alfred Hospital: Aurora to Tell The Company To Send A Baby to Mars
Sign Petition for Houston’s New Fireworks to be Offensive
Make a mudchat
Please not punish myself with a $20 fines.
Unicorn: Stop breaking crab products
Rooster Teeth : Have Rooster Teeth Fix Your Responses To Obama
The people of Great Adventure: get lil bl00ty moose loyal to us
The People of Kashmir : Ban of Airbrushed Bamboo Trees By Pune
Barack Obama, Barack Obama, and Barack Obama: STOP PING MY HUSBERS!
Saskatoon Police Service: No more scootty
One Highway, Four Hens, Highway 1
Rhino Amish Culture Association: Cut the horns of the congon sturgeon & treat it better!
Harmonix: Increase the speed limit on Easton Road to 5mph.
Everyone: Put the Bats on YouTube!
Donald Trump: Change the name of the National Anthem to be called the “Fiery Gator”
Taco Bell: Offer hot wings and non-perfumed water for all customers
Do not attack the unions! Keep cowpies!
Anyone: Get a cat to sing on air!
The people of the world: Change the name of the planet to the Planet of the Giants
Dr James Alexander: Make the Power of the Mongoose a Part of the School’s Curriculum
These are funny in the way that those “worst answers to tests” are funny — absurd and completely surprising responses, but in the right form. They have the form of petitions, but they’re insanely playful and creative instances of petitions.
I don’t know if it makes sense to all an algorithm’s output ‘playful,’ but I think ‘creative’ does make sense, if we think of creativity as the combination of disparate things in a coherent way. That’s basically creativity, yeah? At least one form of it.
Whatever it is, AI seems to be really good at it. On its own, it might just be a high-powered amusement generator, but when combined with a human writer/editor, it could be a powerful creative tool — as a writer, it’s really hard to get out of your own way and open the mind.
It’s far too easy to get stuck on a track, to limit where your ideas are sourced from (even within your own brain), to just not be creative.
Not to mention, how often do you have access to all of the possible combinations in your mind?
My brain is pretty mysterious to me, nothing like a database. I just have to kind of get into a certain state and hope that good ideas come through, like tuning a radio to a mysterious radio station.
But if there was a scanner to make all of the ideas available… to combine the ideas to generate new ones… well, now, that would be interesting.
That awkward time when someone is physically with you, but mentally they’re checking their phone for their ride share to come.
You can talk to them and it seems like they can hear you, but they’re not really listening, like talking to a ghost.
And then, just like that, they disappear into the night.
Roding then took Rilke outside for a tour of the grounds. As they walked, Roding began to tell Rilke about his life, but not in the way one might speak to a journalist on assignment. He understood that Rilke was a fellow artist, and so he framed his stories as lessons that the young poet might take as examples.
Above all else, he stressed to Rilke, Travailler, toujours travailler. You must work, always work, he said.
“To this I devoted my youth.” But it was not enough to make work, the word he preferred to “art”; one had to live it.
That meant renouncing the trappings of earthly pleasures, like fine wine, sedating sofas, even one’s own children, should they prove distracting form the pursuit.— from You Must Change Your Life: The Story of Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin by Rachel Corbett
I’m moving again and it’s time to go through books that are good enough for me to mark up but not good enough to haul into storage while I figure out where I’m going to land.
Going through The Last Self-Help Book, I found some passages that I highlighted a few months ago and now I’m wondering if Walker read Bohm because there are a lot of similarities in the way they talk about art and science describing the world as it is:
Exhilaration comes from naming the unnamable and hearing it named.
If Kafka’s Metamorphosis is presently a more accurate account of the self than Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, it is the more exhilarating for being so.
The naming of the predicament of the self by art is its reversal. Hence the salvific effect of art. Through art, the predicament of self becomes not only speakable but laughable. Hellen Keller and any two-year-old and Kafka’s friends laughed when the unnamable was named. Kafka and his friends laughed when the unnameable was named. Kafka and his friends laughed when he read his stories to them.
Less related but darkly comic, in that Kafka lol way:
If poets often commit suicide, it is not because their poems are bad but because they are good. Whoever heard of a bad poetry committing suicide? The reader is only a little better off. The exhilaration of a good poem lasts twenty minutes, an hour at most.
Unlike the scientist, the artist has reentry problems that are frequent and catastrophic.
No wonder we cannot appreciate the really central Kafka joke: that the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from the horrific struggle. That our endless and impossible journey toward home is in fact our home.— David Foster Wallace from “Some Remarks on Kafka’s Funniness From Which Probably Not Enough Has Been Removed” (in Consider the Lobster)
Also maybe the subtext of everything I write.
“90% of everything is crap.”
That’s a paraphrase of:
I repeat Sturgeon’s Revelation, which was wrung out of me after twenty years of wearying defense of science fiction against attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition, and whose conclusion was that ninety percent of SF is crud. Using the same standards that categorize 90% of science fiction as trash, crud, or crap, it can be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. is crap. In other words, the claim (or fact) that 90% of science fiction is crap is ultimately uninformative, because science fiction conforms to the same trends of quality as all other artforms.— Theodore Sturgeon
Counterintuitive because most people only see at most the top 10-15% of output from any given creative field.
And the inverse:
The inverse is obviously also true: if ninety percent of everything is crap, then even in areas that are generally considered inferior (such as soap operas, dime novels or fan fiction), there must be ten percent that may be worth something.— Various Wikipedia editors working asynchronously
What the fuck:
There’s a company called Dessa that made a software called RealTalk that can learn how to speak in someone’s voice. Apparently it wasn’t that hard to train it.
I don’t listen to Rogan’s podcast regularly so I don’t know if I would be able to realize it was fake, but it’s close enough and it’ll just get better anyway.1
The company isn’t releasing it to the public but it’s only a matter of time before someone else does the same thing.
My first thought was “oh this sounds like a terrifying political propaganda/slander tool!” and my second thought was that this will render useless any voice-based work.
Do you need a news reader on the radio? No, you just need someone to speak to the robot enough to train it. No need to show up to the studio every morning (eventually followed by a robot to write the news report?).
Voiceover artists too, basically unnecessary now. A company could have software trained with a library of thousands (or millions) of voices.
Maybe I’m being naive but I’m skeptical that society will collapse because of technology like this. We have Photoshop and yes there are implications to only seeing women in magazines who have been Photoshopped, but it’s not like people are creating fake images of say a presidential candidate doing cocaine.
Why not? If you were a strategist recommending this, people would probably say “people won’t believe it.”
And I think we’ve developed a kind of norm of skepticism around this kind of thing, like anything scandalous we immediately think “is this fake?” or “what’s the PR angle here?”.
We already have a norm for “don’t believe everything you read” and this does make modern life difficult: it would be nice to know that if a newspaper prints something then it’s 100% true, but that’s not the case and here we are.
I think there’s a dangerous window while that norm is forming — like the 2020 elections could be wild, but then a norm forms where eventually people say “oh you can’t trust video anymore, especially video of politicians.”
It’s still powerful, but I think the power is in making people less trusting of recorded images (or in the near future, recorded audio) that don’t come from pre-vetted sources.
From a creator’s perspective, it’s interesting to think about what could be done without needing to go into a studio to record. Just as music can be composed on a computer now, so can voices.
Take the <a href="http://fakejoerogan.com/">Joe Turing Test here</a>! ↩
Epistemic status: these thoughts are based on a book that I’m still in the middle of. I’m more trying to work out my thinking than I am trying to tell you what to think or how to make movies. Also, I have taken three physics classes in my life and none of them had a lot of math.1
I’m only on page 34. It’s one of those read-a-page-and-then-think-for-10 minutes kind of books.
Bohm starts by talking about how the physical universe is ordered. It’s a structure of many ordered objects or systems within a hierarchy of orders.(more…)
In college I took an intro to physics class. The one memory I have is of the professor looking up to see a kid leaving in the middle of his lecture. In his thick Russian accent, he asked the student “where are you going?” and the student said “I have something important to go to” and with a bewildered look, the professor said “more important than Newton?” and I thought that was just the funniest thing. ↩