Dead Clowns

meaning, relevance, sense – questions people who live are too often compelled to leave them to philosophers …. – like issues of production as reproduction of real life are, on the other hand left to people while economists read in tea-leaves of heroic, even quasi-divine formulas that are distant from peoples’ and people’s life — just remaining meaningless and non-sensual.
Some time ago already – after I gave a presentation at the Symposium organised by the European Academy of Sciece and Arts – looking at
a later presenter was carried way by
Several month later, by accident, I was getting nicely aware of the misleading question of humanoid robots replacing humans, spotting by accident a clip showing
Baseline? There is no real danger of human beings becoming replaced – the danger is that some Kurzweil’ig ‘systems’ are brought forward by those sigularitarian minds in their Plutocratic caves [see Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else]. The danger is that some powerful forces succeed in reducing us to mindless clowns, caught in Platonian caves – the circle of virtuality emerging as vicious circle, its life depending on he fact that no needle will be used, by nobody.
Mind, all this is not really about  Humanoid toys – it is about comedians and actors like Beppe Grillo in Italian politics, natioal citizens attacking fellow citizens from other countries, narcissistic tyrants rethinking the liberty statue and overlookin the old rebukes
Skerbischs „Lichtschwert“ vor dem Opernhaus Graz
Von Marion Schneider & Christoph Aistleitner – Eigenes Werk, Gemeinfrei, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5016791
And yes, it is also about administer-infantilisation.
Overcoming humankind, if it then happens, won’t be much else then the
(EN)

« My makeup is dry and it clags on my chin
I’m drowning my sorrows in whisky and gin
The lion tamer’s whip doesn’t crack anymore
The lions they won’t fight and the tigers won’t roar »

(IT)

« Il mio trucco si è asciugato e cola sul mio mento
Sto affogando i miei dispiaceri nel whisky e nel gin
Il domatore di leoni non da più colpi di frusta
I leoni non si azzufferanno più tra loro e le tigri non ruggiranno »

 

 

Annunci

science – new readings from the tea leaves

It is surely getting exciting now – on the back-cover of the book
Abundance – The Future Is Better Than You Think
authored by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler we read:
Breaking down human needs by category – water, food, energy, health care, education, freedom – Diamandis arm Kotler introduce us to dozens of innovators and industry captains making tremendous strides in each area: Dean Kamens’ Slingshot, a technology that can transform polluted water, salt water or even raw sewage into high-quality drinking water for less than one cent a liter; Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE which promises a low-cost, handheld medical device that allows anyone to diagnose themselves better than a board certified-doctor; Dickson Despommier’s ‘vertical farms,’ which replaces traditional agriculture with a system that uses 80 percent less land, 90 percent less water, 10 percent fewer pesticides, and zero transportation costs.
Now, I am not scientist but social scientist – and some scientists insist that there is a difference, science being the only ‘precise’ and ‘reliable’. Admitting that I am social scientist ‘only’, and thus speaking so to say as layperson, I still dare to conclude that something is odd:
zero transportation cost means the stuff grows from nowhere, just being there as the famous honey and milk rivers, the roasted pigeons just waiting to find a open throat and probably we all standing there, mutated to cows.
Oh, lads, mind: there is huge difference between scientific analysis and reading tea leaves as there is a difference between peoples’ visionary dreams and nightmares that are only profitable for minorities.
And that
[t]he authors also provide a detailed reference section filled with ninety graphs, charts and graphics offering much of the source data underpinning their conclusions
reminds a bit of the claim of most of religions: you have to believe, even if you cannot see it. And in case of doubt we make things visible.
What makes all this even more interesting is that New Princes, self-nominated, as for instance Ray Kurzweil and Sir Richard Branson are full of praise of the book – those are major players of RIP = RIp-off Profit businesses, exactly those who followed the Thatcherite programmatic of There is no such thing as society, which seems to translate well into – ‘We, the Soeders, Thatchers, Blairs, Zuckerbergs – sitting e.g. in Davos  on the Bilderberg, making sure that humankind’s future will end with stultified individuals, bleating like sheep.
Who ‘they’ are? – Here is what
Chrysta Freeland
writes in her book
PLUTOCRATS .THE RISE of the NEW GLOBAL SUPER-RICH and the FALL OF EVERYONE ELSE [39 f.]:

The best known of these events is the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, invitation to which marks an aspiring plutocrat’s arrival on the international scene—and where, in lieu of noble titles, an elaborate hierarchy of conference badges has such significance that one first-time participant remarked that the staring at his chest made him realize for the first time what it must be like to have cleavage. The Bilderberg Group, which meets annually at locations in Europe and North America, is more exclusive still—and more secretive—though it is more focused on geopolitics and less on global business and philanthropy. The Boao Forum, convened on Hainan Island each spring, offers evidence both of China’s growing economic importance and of its understanding of the culture of the global plutocracy. Bill Clinton is pushing hard to win his Clinton Global Initiative a regular place on the circuit. The annual TED conference (the acronym stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design) is an important stop for the digerati, as is the DLD (Digital-Life- Design) gathering Israeli technology entrepreneur Yossi Vardi cohosts with publisher Hubert Burda in Munich each January (so convenient if you are en route to Davos). Herb Allen’s Sun Valley gathering is the place for media moguls, and the Aspen Institute’s Ideas Festival is for the more policy-minded, with a distinctly U.S. slant. There is nothing implicit, at these gatherings, about the sense of belonging to a global elite. As Chris Anderson, the curator of the TED talks, told one gathering: “Combined, our contacts reach pretty much everyone who’s interesting in the country, if not the planet.”
Recognizing the value of such global conclaves, some corporations have begun hosting their own. Among these is Google’s Zeitgeist conference, where I have moderated discussions for several years. One of its recent gatherings was held in May 2010 at the Grove, a former provincial estate in the English countryside whose three-hundred-acre grounds have been transformed into a golf course and whose high-ceilinged rooms are now decorated with a mixture of antique and contemporary furniture. (Mock Louis XIV chairs—made, with a wink, from high-end plastic—are much in evidence.) Cirque du Soleil offered the five hundred guests a private performance in an enormous tent erected on the grounds; the year before that, to celebrate its acquisition of YouTube, Google flew in overnight Internet sensations from around the world.

But mind …

the market and … power versus respect and dignity

Musings from earlier this year – and in a way probably a foretaste of the future. From a mail I sent to a former student [well, I say former while my Chinese students don’t stop seeing me as their 老师:

Thanks for the mail, 刘嘉颖,
yesterday I submitted the reference. I think there is a general problem with these submissions, only very few universities showing respect. It is all set up to suit the universities, not the applicants. If they send a mail to he BU-mail they get an auto reply, asking them to resend the mail the esosc-mail which they do not do. I perceive this as disrespecting your interest of taking really care of your application. There are other things: the mail was marked as SPAM because an oeverload of graphs, depersonalisation of addressing the message, silly questionnaires and forms which, if submitted by a student as ’sample for how to design a questionnaire’, would result in ‘failed’ … – Well, all this is a simple economic issue

Image ref: Alex Slobodkin Getty Images/iStockphoto; from: http://fortune.com/2015/07/01/behind-the-rise-of-indian-students-at-top-u-s-universities/

* if accepted you will pay fees

* if you do not succeed for instance because a reference is missing they still have enough ‘paying customers’ = students who play fees

* they ask academics to help THEM, the university, with the assessment, and we do it for free – it seems as we would do it for you, the student – and in some way it is true; but economically we work free for those universities – imagine one alternative: they would employ external assessors? Would they work for free?

May be even they would – there are ways to make such jobs ‘attractive’ – one could beat them with a note in the CV: External Assessor of …university.

That these procedures of universities upset me more then it probably should has exactly this reason: universities of this kind, money making machines that live on the back of others, without respecting even basic rules of market relations are just one example of an endless number of today’s mal-practice businesses, though they babble about dignity, social responsibility etc. It is the same irresponsible behavior as the behaviour of an airline that ‘allows’ people with a licence as pilot to join as co-pilot, without paying them – as those pilots do not have any proper alternative, they accept it because they need a certain number of hours per year to maintain the license. Many other things could and should be mentioned, in academia the tenured positions are becoming further reduced, people like myself working on ‘occassional jobs’, doing so without social insurance etc.. And it also undermines the ability and capacity of universities to offer proper education as in some universities even for teaching obligatory courses there are only ‘casual lecturers employed. [I am not sure anymore, I think at the university of Vienna ca 40 percent of teaching staff is not-permanent]  – You may see many issues I was talking about in the economics classes: about the invalidity of the law of supply and demand, the laws of the market being laws of power and not of free choice, contracts not realy about what they formally suggest to be, and also the externalisation of cost and even the production functions, here in terms of a change of the function due to the wrong basis for the calculation: part of the work is not included into the calculation. And it goes on as at the end it is of utmost relevance on the micro- and the macro level. Just think briefly about issues of taxation. …

So, end of the lecture 😉 ….

 And possibly the end of a string of posts on this topic, which could be drawn together under the heading
 Not sure, if this is the complete list of related posts, at least some:
 .
 It remains to be added that some universities that I contacted directly with complains, came back to me, asking for apologies, and exact information to consider changes of the procedures, also opening them for a more personal way of assessment. Though all this is often and seems to be a waste of energy … – perhaps it worth to move on, of course in the best case it is not just a matter of private initiative but a collective move and protest against the fall of higher education.

How to define appreciation?

[http://deacademic.com/dic.nsf/dewiki/1490665]

or a bit like carrying another cross today …

Well, one of the requests, a student in need of a reference, the Imperial College, as so many others, applying imperial methods and exploiting the labour force of academics instead of employing external assessors — but at least kindly acknowledging … see the highlighted words.

Now, so far so bad. The best step then, after submitting an auto reply is arriving, indicating the imperial understanding of valuing the work: an e-mail with three pages [reformatted as normal text], the beginning of it reads as follows:

Thank you for your email.
We are currently experiencing a high volume of enquiries. Please read the information below as it may answer common queries.

It does not say that the reference had been received, and the rest to the information actually concerns students who applied or want to apply.

Disrespectful is the term that comes to my mind. And if I would like to study, seeing such mail I would even as student look for another university. Rejecting raking I am wondering: if we are living in a world of rank and file in its military understanding, the highest positions occupied by reps and admins, we may think about the gutter rank: which institution makes it to the lowest ranks?

It reminds me of another university, after submitting a reference fro a student there I received for weeks and month  ads, asking me to subscribe to one of there courses. I don’t even know if I would accept a job offer from such unwilling, unknowing, unsensitive …, well, there is something nice when returning medieval standards – talking about un-deservring was quite common those times though it usually punished the wrong people ….

Artificial Intelligence – and the Reduction of Being

Both quotes are from Hannah Arendt’s Human Conditions, 43 and 41 respectively (Arendt, Hannah, 1958: The Human Condition; Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press). Aren’t they saying much what Artificial Intelligence is about – and how much it depends on the reduction of ourselves?

The unfortunate truth about behaviorism and the validity of its “laws” is that the more people there are, the more likely they are to behave and the less likely to tolerate non-behavior. Statistically, this will be shown in the leveling out of fluctuation. In reality, deeds will have less and less chance to stem the tide of behavior, and events will more and more lose their significance, that is, their capacity to illuminate historical time. Statistical uniformity is by no means a harmless scientific ideal; it is the no longer secret political ideal of a society which, entirely submerged in the routine of everyday living, is at peace with the scientific outlook inherent in its very existence.
****
This modern equality, based on the conformism inherent in society and possible only because behavior has replaced action as the foremost mode of human relationship, is in every respect different from equality in antiquity, and notably in the Greek city-states.

Where we are standing

From one of the Great Works of European Literature (here for the English), written by Victor Hugo and published in 1862; and there is still so much in it “from today”.

For a less “poetical account” see the recent report by OXFAM: A EUROPE FOR THE MANY, NOT THE FEW

===========

CHORUS
Look down, look down
Don’t look ‘em in the eye
Look down, look down
You’re here until you die

1ST CONVICT
The sun is strong
It’s hot as hell below

CHORUS
Look down, look down
there’s twenty years to go.

2ND CONVICT
I’ve done no wrong
Sweet Jesus, hear my prayer

CHORUS
Look down, look down
Sweet Jesus doesn’t care

3RD CONVICT
I know she’ll wait
I know that she’ll be true

CHORUS
Look down, look down
They’ve all forgotten you

4TH CONVICT
When I get free
You won’t see me
Here for dust

CHORUS
Look down, look down
Don’t look ‘em in the eye.

5TH CONVICT
How long, O Lord
Before you let me die?

CHORUS
Look down, look down
You’ll always be a slave
Look down, look down
You’re standing in your grave.

JAVERT
Now bring me prisoner 24601
Your time is up
And your parole’s begun
You know what that means.

VALJEAN
Yes, it means I’m free.

JAVERT
NO! It means you get
Your yellow ticket-of-leave
You are a thief.

VALJEAN
I stole a loaf of bread.

JAVERT
You robbed a house.

VALJEAN
I broke a window pane.
My sister’s child was close to death
And we were starving.

JAVERT
You will starve again
Unless you learn the meaning of the law.

VALJEAN
I know the meaning of those 19 years
A slave of the law.

JAVERT
Five years for what you did
The rest because you tried to run
Yes, 24601.

VALJEAN
My name is Jean Valjean!

JAVERT
And I’m Javert!
Do not forget my name
Do not forget me
24601

CHORUS
Look down, look down
You’ll always be a slave
Look down, look down
You’re standing in your grave.

Les Miserables – Prologue Lyrics | MetroLyrics