Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Andrew Carnegie was a ruthless and heartless industrialist who used murder and brutality as well as corruption to become one of the richest men in the world. However, put aside the idea that morality has any intrinsic value and it’s easy to see how this man could be considered one of the most successful ever. He used the systems that were in place, systems that operated banking, work place rules, the ease of buying politicians, the how the public perceived men with money, and he used these systems perfectly. Those systems are still in place and they are still being used for the very same reasons for the very same ends today. Nothing has changed.

In the later years of his life, Carnegie gave away a great deal of his wealth and established libraries and all sorts of trust funds to help educate people, even though the lives and blood of his workers were the lubricant that make the flow of this money possible, but again, all of this was done within a previously built system that was already running before Carnegie arrived on the scene.

We have to understand that money is a system of beliefs held by all people who use it. We believe that money will work, that we can trade pieces of paper for goods and service, illegal drugs and illicit sex, and the transaction will be honored by all parties. Moreover, and here’s the tricky part, we’ve devised another system that requires nothing but electronic transfers of information to be included in this so that with nothing at all more than a sixteen digit number and an expiration date, we can buy anything we want and never so much as leave our sofas.

The real problem in these systems that we have created is that they were created, ostensibly as systems that would serve the community of humankind. However, once they became so large they became unstoppable and there also became subject to gaming. One person, or a group of people, could use that system to exploit other people and the people with the most toys would win. But the system itself serves no one as it is amoral and uncaring, blind and deaf. It’s like a river running through a town; how it is used doesn’t matter to the river only to those who use it.

Now, if we can see, feel, and experience the problems with these systems as we did in the 1930’s during the Great Depression and the late 00’s with the Great Recession, we might consider how a few people, or a few companies, might use these systems to control and exploit the vast majority of common people but we had no idea what to do about it at all and we still don’t.  It’s there and we know it’s harmful to us but there’s no real and practical solution anyone can come up with to help and we all understand it might be too late.

Then, suddenly, it gets very weird.

What we have not planned on happening and we cannot control once it does, is the fact that one day computers are going to become systems that behave in a manner that is consistent with their own understanding of the existing systems. We see this already in computer programs that chose stocks to buy and sell, buy tickets for concerts online to sell later for great profit, and even computer programs that rent apartments to sublet later at great profit, but the code inside of the computer is the same code inside the monetary system; greed is good. More is better. The whole thing is beginning to give birth to machine who are coded to create an infinite amount of wealth with no considerations outside that thought. If artificial intelligence is a profit drive and profit based system then we can expect that this system will serve us as poorly as but with more efficiency than the last.

What I think is lost on most people is that they trust money so they trust the people who have the most, even to the detriment of their own families. This is much like trusting the people with the most food, who have hoarded and cheated others out of good, during a famine. The big difference in what is coming is there’s ways and means to deal with other people but the systems that are in place and those that are going to be in place sooner than later, aren’t human and the resources they hoard and cheat from us aren’t exactly accessible no matter what we do. If a computer decides to drain every private bank account in America tomorrow, and hides the money in a billion different computers all over the world, what exactly is it that can or will be done?

And it might get even worse.

We know that artificial intelligence is being coded for greed but what if these systems begin to become self-aware and decide that, like Andrew Carnegie that the systems that are in place can be gamed and those gaming the systems know best? What will the system see or know or want or like or be programmed to do and how can we how to do anything but serve it, as we have in the past?

We can scoff and declare such thoughts as science fiction but it’s already happening. We are already held hostage when someone hacks our accounts. We are already helpless when computers go down. We already know that all our machines can be controlled by third parties if they have the right codes. This is happening right now. This is going on today.

The idea that we are creating systems that cannot and will not leave our control is as big a fallacy now as it was one hundred years ago but now those systems are larger and they move a lot faster. They are being gamed not by human beings with ideas of being the richest man in the world but by systems within the systems, and we have no idea if those systems are being controlled by people or if those people are being controlled by the systems. We have no way of knowing.

The idea that we might already be influenced by an odd sense of computer philology that isn’t quite conscience yet still is pushing us towards one thing or another has never really been spoken aloud. Yet we serve computers in a manner we would not any other machine. We allow them their flaws and faults and as much as we complain, each and every day we buy deeper into their control of the systems we’ve already bought into.

And when the day comes, and it may already have arrived, can we hope for more compassion from them than we received from Andrew Carnegie?

Take Care,


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The New Writing Idea

There’s something brewing deep within my mind, swirling around like blood in a coffee mug to be thrown onto a canvas, creating a very personal piece of artwork. If you find this analogy troubling then you either don’t understand art or you don’t understand the process from which it comes, or maybe even both. Or I don’t. But it’s there, right where it always is before it appears, like some noise in the brush before you see what has made it, even if it’s nothing there at all. There is a lot to be said for there to be nothing that made the brush move, I like those kinds of ideas, where the absences accentuate the fear, the longing, the dread, and it doesn’t matter if the audience ever sees what is pursuing the victim at all, just as long as they feel it.

But who is to say that the pursued is a victim at all? This thing in my head has stalked me now for the last three or four days, and I have stalked it. I can’t push it away and I cannot contain it. It’s like there is someone, or something, blowing a mist or a fog towards me and if I turn too suddenly the motion of my body, or that of my mind, dissipates it and scatters it. It has to be lured in and seduced. It has to be fed at a distance before it will come in and be fed upon and devoured.

It’s the classic tale of the mighty hunter, one shot left in his rifle, the wounded predator still stalking him, and the claws and teeth block him from returning to camp, and night is falling. What tools does he possess to survive the night? Should he rush the creature and hope to finish it off? Yet what if we spin this classic tale and have the creature speak to the man, and ask him what are they both doing in this fight to the death? What does it serve either to die or be killed or to kill? Or has it become a contest of wills, where each would rather die than retreat? Could the story be told from each beings’ point of view with each heart and mind laid bare for the reader?

This sort of thinking lures the thought closer to me. It wants to tell me that I am on the right track, perhaps, or it wants to laugh at my efforts, one of the two, or maybe both. It’s a thin thing, bare of muscle and sinew, nothing but the outline of a thought, a shadow of a blade of grass in a thousand acre field, casting its darkness within darkness, raising its head within a multitude, and I’m there, walking in the field, not looking for a four leafed clover, but something that looks like everything else, yet is not.

Maybe that’s it, I think, and it feels close. Maybe there’s something stalking the man that can only be seen when it’s at a distance and up close it’s invisible, but at the same time it can only be heard within breath smelling distance for it whispers. Or perhaps at night it’s transparent as the wind and speaks softly, as it is ethereal but in the light of day it is scales and claws and hot venom. It comes closer to me as these thought intrigue it into being bolder.

Or perhaps the story needs a twist; the animal in the day is his lover, turned into a wild beast by an angry wizard. She stalks him and seeks to kill him by day but by night her spirit seeks comfort with him. She is ethereal by night and a monster by day, and he cannot bear to kill her and he knows that he cannot let her live. Yet he cannot seek out other humans for the monster will kill them, or they might kill it, and she would die also. But she will kill him if he cannot elude her while trying not to lose her.

The idea comes closer and closer. It enjoys this and it thinks some of this might actually work. Maybe.

The wheels turn and the cogs mesh and there is some debate as to what point in time this would be most appropriate in. Of course, a medieval knight and a damsel in distress, but what about moving it forward in time but how much forward, and finally, how would this story work if set in 2017? Technology’s rise into the personal life of human beings has to be connected and integrated into each and every story now, and considerations must be given to devices as well as characters. It may finally get to the point some story like this is written where the two star crossed lovers can only communicate through Face Book but it will not be this story. But I could easily see a cell phone being the only place they could meet, Face Time with a spirit trapped in the body of a beast, no, nevermind, I am sorry I brought it up.

But perhaps this works better if the man is turned into a monster and the woman must pursue him as he is trying to destroy her. That’s a better analogy if nothing else, but it does make for a more interesting story when the lead is female. So what if she hires someone to track the beast, who has a certain amount of humanity for brief periods, and he flees as far as he can during these times, and while they are tracking this animal the tracker she has hired falls in love with her. A love triangle never fails when the reader gets to know all three of the parties, yes.

The idea comes to settle down in front of the keyboard and wants to know more like a cat seeking some inconvenient place of rest. This is an idea whose time has come and I must begin soon if to avoid it flitting off again.

Take Care,


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