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Thread: The robots are taking over

  1. #1 The robots are taking over 
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    As a child, I had to learn all sorts of things adults do automatically. I learned you have to apply just the right amount of pressure and pause on the handle, to properly flush a toilet. I learned the labyrinth of motions in tying shoelaces. How to recognize the shape of letters 'd' and 'b'. These things I was once keenly conscious of, I now can scarcely think about. Don't ask me how to tie shoelaces - I can only demonstrate by setting my hands to the task. Obviously some parts of me understand those sorts of things very well, but I'd be deluding myself to believe the conscious Pong assembling these words, is the sole actor in all this. No, I'm just the boss here. I don't have to find the home keys... f and j? Yeah, they're f and j.

    Britannica definition of robot: "any automatically operated machine that replaces human effort, though it may not resemble human beings in appearance or perform functions in a humanlike manner." The tersest definition I know is "an autonomous machine that performs its function without a human operator". By that a mousetrap is a simple robot. It need not walk around and say "excuse me" to be a robot. Robots may exist as software agents only, then we often call them 'bots.

    The robots I have in mind are the "subroutines" we use in daily life: "autonomous cognitions that perform a function without conscious operation". Every one of them once occupied the forefront of consciousness; then by some apparently normal process they sunk from awareness to be filed away as little machines we invoke as needed. Or maybe it's that consciousness grows atop them? Anyway it seems the conscious thought of today is the robot of tomorrow. We just keep amassing these robots, so more and more of life becomes automatic.

    Some people are deluded and believe they're fully aware of everything entering and exiting their brains. When I offer the example of driving for an hour on "autopilot" and recalling nothing of the trip, most people relate and get it. And then they begin to fathom the vastness of their autopilot functions vs. the ephemeral cambium of fresh thought that is consciousness. You'd think the revelation ought to upset a person's sense of self, but it doesn't really. One may think about this without really grasping it.


    I've been growing concerned for my own self lately, though. Thus the thread. I have a raft of concerns.

    Firstly, my mind is growing so automated I'm feeling claustrophobic. Half the conversation I engage in, I'm only aware of at a sort of editorial level. When - or how - does this process end? Does the conscious part get to "climb the ladder" indefinitely? Or am I doomed to flatten against some ceiling? A brain of fixed volume can't afford consciousness infinite "elbow room", so to speak.

    Secondly, I dread losing it in a bad way. As more of my higher thoughts become robotic, I could lose touch with reality. Then I might harm others without knowing what I'm doing. Or I might act inappropriately because my robots are out of date and have come to run the show.

    Thirdly, the overeager robots often get ahead of me and trip me up. They unlock unlocked doors. They put things in odd places when I'm not looking.

    Fourthly, because they're now a force to be reckoned with, I sometimes cuss and mutter at them. In the second person. Like, "You idiot! Why did you do that?" Talking to oneself is classic lunacy.

    Fifthly, this whole lifelong process of automation may not be normal. It seems real enough to me, and seems to make sense. That I don't find people acknowledge it much I attributed to the social necessity of simple identity.


    This is a genuine call for advice. I intend to raid Buddhism and even neo-spirituality if necessary because they talk alot about focusing the conscious mind in the present - a skill I'm sorely wanting. I'd appreciate other views before getting wooed by some shaggy mystic's teachings.


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  3. #2  
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    I am sorry to tell you, but you are a robot.

    Just adjust your emotional chip and you will cope with the reality ok.

    Obviously it bother's you this is non-robotic in nature, and robots also mimic the actions of the creator because they are created into them. Subroutines existed even in ancient history in different mechanical ways and what you are doing is nothing that abnormal. I barely pay attention to people half the time at an "editorial" level, but I have realized that is because they bore me, and on a deeper level because of my own arrogance and pride, and selfishness in being stuck in my own head instead of reaching out.

    Making ones self into an emotive robot is simply an easier way of dealing with life, rather than..dealing with life.

    You need not consider any of these things, as you are indeed a robot.


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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong View Post
    As a child, I had to learn all sorts of things adults do automatically. I learned you have to apply just the right amount of pressure and pause on the handle, to properly flush a toilet. I learned the labyrinth of motions in tying shoelaces. How to recognize the shape of letters 'd' and 'b'. These things I was once keenly conscious of, I now can scarcely think about. Don't ask me how to tie shoelaces - I can only demonstrate by setting my hands to the task. Obviously some parts of me understand those sorts of things very well, but I'd be deluding myself to believe the conscious Pong assembling these words, is the sole actor in all this. No, I'm just the boss here. I don't have to find the home keys... f and j? Yeah, they're f and j.

    Britannica definition of robot: "any automatically operated machine that replaces human effort, though it may not resemble human beings in appearance or perform functions in a humanlike manner." The tersest definition I know is "an autonomous machine that performs its function without a human operator". By that a mousetrap is a simple robot. It need not walk around and say "excuse me" to be a robot. Robots may exist as software agents only, then we often call them 'bots.

    The robots I have in mind are the "subroutines" we use in daily life: "autonomous cognitions that perform a function without conscious operation". Every one of them once occupied the forefront of consciousness; then by some apparently normal process they sunk from awareness to be filed away as little machines we invoke as needed. Or maybe it's that consciousness grows atop them? Anyway it seems the conscious thought of today is the robot of tomorrow. We just keep amassing these robots, so more and more of life becomes automatic.

    Some people are deluded and believe they're fully aware of everything entering and exiting their brains. When I offer the example of driving for an hour on "autopilot" and recalling nothing of the trip, most people relate and get it. And then they begin to fathom the vastness of their autopilot functions vs. the ephemeral cambium of fresh thought that is consciousness. You'd think the revelation ought to upset a person's sense of self, but it doesn't really. One may think about this without really grasping it.


    I've been growing concerned for my own self lately, though. Thus the thread. I have a raft of concerns.

    Firstly, my mind is growing so automated I'm feeling claustrophobic. Half the conversation I engage in, I'm only aware of at a sort of editorial level. When - or how - does this process end? Does the conscious part get to "climb the ladder" indefinitely? Or am I doomed to flatten against some ceiling? A brain of fixed volume can't afford consciousness infinite "elbow room", so to speak.

    Secondly, I dread losing it in a bad way. As more of my higher thoughts become robotic, I could lose touch with reality. Then I might harm others without knowing what I'm doing. Or I might act inappropriately because my robots are out of date and have come to run the show.

    Thirdly, the overeager robots often get ahead of me and trip me up. They unlock unlocked doors. They put things in odd places when I'm not looking.

    Fourthly, because they're now a force to be reckoned with, I sometimes cuss and mutter at them. In the second person. Like, "You idiot! Why did you do that?" Talking to oneself is classic lunacy.

    Fifthly, this whole lifelong process of automation may not be normal. It seems real enough to me, and seems to make sense. That I don't find people acknowledge it much I attributed to the social necessity of simple identity.


    This is a genuine call for advice. I intend to raid Buddhism and even neo-spirituality if necessary because they talk alot about focusing the conscious mind in the present - a skill I'm sorely wanting. I'd appreciate other views before getting wooed by some shaggy mystic's teachings.
    I remember still reading Koestler's book "The Ghost in the Machine", in my late teens. Have you read it? There were a lot of things in it about the process of delegation within the brain of tasks which, once learnt, can become semi-automatic. The brain supervises but only intervenes when called on, e.g when you drive, if something unexpected happens control is rapidly taken back by higher brain consciousness.

    This book was written in 1967 so will hardly be the latest thinking, but I've always found it a reassuring account of the sort of phenomena or experiences you seem to be describing. I'd certainly recommend it before trying anything wacky.
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbhokie View Post
    I am sorry to tell you, but you are a robot.
    I don't understand what you mean. I know of one theory that consciousness is created by components of the unconscious, as a helper mechanism so they can do their jobs better. In that view I guess the me you're addressing is a dumb robot. Anyway the problem still stands, of my executive being sometimes overwhelmed by subordinates.

    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist
    Koestler
    I read a later book of his when I was too young to digest it. I will definitely read The Ghost in the Machine, thanks.
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  6. #5  
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    Automaticity is the way we manage to live without having to think absolutely everything through. We acquire it through brain plasticity. And as some people say, Brain plasticity is not your friend. It's very helpful, but when it comes to bad habits or approaches, they are just as likely to become automatic or ingrained as learning times tables or how to tie shoelaces.

    Read The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge for a fascinating introduction to the topic. If you're worrying that you're just letting your brain run itself without you taking full control, there are ways to give yourself a good jump start.

    (Since my husbands heart attack and associated brain injury he's been doing some online brain exercises as well as physio, occupational therapy and, more recently, regular gym workouts as well as a couple of times a week doing specific body balance/ yoga/ pilates sessions. I don't know what his online brain training thing is called. I'll check when he's back from the gym. Most of those brain training game type things are useless, but this one seems pretty good. )
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    This is a genuine call for advice. I intend to raid Buddhism and even neo-spirituality if necessary because they talk alot about focusing the conscious mind in the present - a skill I'm sorely wanting. I'd appreciate other views before getting wooed by some shaggy mystic's teachings.
    Even as a strong atheist, I do not hesitate to recommend a critical and examinative* study of Buddhism. That, and some study of the neuroplasticity mentioned by adelady, should help you form a plan and as a process require significant conscious input.

    *No, "examinative" is not an official English word. Yet!
    I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
    Lucky me. Lucky mud.
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    The Brain That Changes Itself
    Skimmed that when it came out. Would you believe that I'm reflexively skeptical of exuberant new theories? Well, until New Age finds another buzzword I'll hold neuroplasticity at arm's length. OTOH, the basic thesis that "the brain can change" is not really news.

    At the time I only wanted to corroborate an idea that individual neurons could facilitate unrelated "layers" of circuits. I'll re-read that book; it's shelved in the basement. And maybe another on the topic... know any that aren't too hypey?



    Did I mention I'm searching for my glasses nearly every day now? It's not that I forget; it's that I wasn't conscious of taking them off. Chime in with insights to betray your age.
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    Me. I'm 66 and my husband is 5 years older. Unless you're over 75, I'd not be inclined to worry about age-related decline in mental function. Even in people who are older than that, it's just as likely to be depression or the thyroid slowing down or half a dozen other things rather than an isolated and specific brain problem.

    If you're a bit forgetful and feeling a bit vague generally, the first culprit on the medical production line (the easiest target) would be to get your thyroid checked.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    The Brain That Changes Itself
    Skimmed that when it came out. Would you believe that I'm reflexively skeptical of exuberant new theories? Well, until New Age finds another buzzword I'll hold neuroplasticity at arm's length. OTOH, the basic thesis that "the brain can change" is not really news.

    At the time I only wanted to corroborate an idea that individual neurons could facilitate unrelated "layers" of circuits. I'll re-read that book; it's shelved in the basement. And maybe another on the topic... know any that aren't too hypey?



    Did I mention I'm searching for my glasses nearly every day now? It's not that I forget; it's that I wasn't conscious of taking them off. Chime in with insights to betray your age.
    Snap! The solution to the glasses problem in my case was to get multifocals. Being somewhat, but not severely, short-sighted, and over 50, I was taking off my specs for reading or other close-ish work (cooking, house maintenance tasks, singing, working with the computer, etc) and this became an unconscious reflex. However, as they were a trendy, "minimalist" design, the effing things then became invisible! With multifocals, I only take them off rarely e.g. for reading very small print) and the chance of mislaying them is much reduced. Also I keep an old pair of specs handy, i.e. always kept in the same drawer in a desk, to enable me to hunt for my proper specs if I mislay them. Sounds silly but, as one ages, these are the strategies one has to adopt.

    If this is your problem you are not going nuts: it's normal.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    thyroid
    My mother had that unfortunately when chronic fatigue syndrome was the popular cop-out diagnosis. After something like five years someone said, "Hey, why not get your thyroid checked?' and a week later my mom was "never felt better".

    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist
    multifocals
    I'm 42 and after 27 years of stable prescription the nearsightedness is drifting towards normal vision. Being cheap and lazy I reason "why get a new pair every year when I can just take them off?"
    You are right of course.


    What about the first concern, about the encroaching automation? I feel less engaged. It's not like a depression or schizophrenia; more like scheming and daydreaming while I keep doing whatever. How far does this go? If consciousness was consumed by automation, I suppose my outward function would appear normal and even pass the Turing test. But I'd no longer experience life freshly. For example I would go to the coast to look at the ocean... but I wouldn't really look at the ocean. I would glance at it.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Automaticity is the way we manage to live without having to think absolutely everything through. We acquire it through brain plasticity. And as some people say, Brain plasticity is not your friend. It's very helpful, but when it comes to bad habits or approaches, they are just as likely to become automatic or ingrained as learning times tables or how to tie shoelaces.

    Read The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge for a fascinating introduction to the topic. If you're worrying that you're just letting your brain run itself without you taking full control, there are ways to give yourself a good jump start.

    (Since my husbands heart attack and associated brain injury he's been doing some online brain exercises as well as physio, occupational therapy and, more recently, regular gym workouts as well as a couple of times a week doing specific body balance/ yoga/ pilates sessions. I don't know what his online brain training thing is called. I'll check when he's back from the gym. Most of those brain training game type things are useless, but this one seems pretty good. )
    Unconscious effort?
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    thyroid
    My mother had that unfortunately when chronic fatigue syndrome was the popular cop-out diagnosis. After something like five years someone said, "Hey, why not get your thyroid checked?' and a week later my mom was "never felt better".

    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist
    multifocals
    I'm 42 and after 27 years of stable prescription the nearsightedness is drifting towards normal vision. Being cheap and lazy I reason "why get a new pair every year when I can just take them off?"
    You are right of course.


    What about the first concern, about the encroaching automation? I feel less engaged. It's not like a depression or schizophrenia; more like scheming and daydreaming while I keep doing whatever. How far does this go? If consciousness was consumed by automation, I suppose my outward function would appear normal and even pass the Turing test. But I'd no longer experience life freshly. For example I would go to the coast to look at the ocean... but I wouldn't really look at the ocean. I would glance at it.
    I'm afraid that too may just be age. I recall - in my 40s, as it happens - lamenting the decline in the freshness and immediacy of the things I experienced. I rationalised it as a result of experience - there was little left that would truly surprise me, as I'd seen lots already. I used to think of the family cat: when she was young she would play enthusiastically with anything, but as she aged it was harder to get her to take an interest in the ping-pong ball or whatever it was. She'd have a go, but would soon give up and wander off. You could almost see her thinking "fuck it".

    I also found one enormous compensation however: at 40 I realised I no longer got anxious about what others thought of me: what was important to me was what I thought of them. Perhaps not coincidentally, it was around this time that my career plateaued.......
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    thyroid
    My mother had that unfortunately when chronic fatigue syndrome was the popular cop-out diagnosis. After something like five years someone said, "Hey, why not get your thyroid checked?' and a week later my mom was "never felt better".

    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist
    multifocals
    I'm 42 and after 27 years of stable prescription the nearsightedness is drifting towards normal vision. Being cheap and lazy I reason "why get a new pair every year when I can just take them off?"
    You are right of course.


    What about the first concern, about the encroaching automation? I feel less engaged. It's not like a depression or schizophrenia; more like scheming and daydreaming while I keep doing whatever. How far does this go? If consciousness was consumed by automation, I suppose my outward function would appear normal and even pass the Turing test. But I'd no longer experience life freshly. For example I would go to the coast to look at the ocean... but I wouldn't really look at the ocean. I would glance at it.
    I'm afraid that too may just be age. I recall - in my 40s, as it happens - lamenting the decline in the freshness and immediacy of the things I experienced. I rationalised it as a result of experience - there was little left that would truly surprise me, as I'd seen lots already. I used to think of the family cat: when she was young she would play enthusiastically with anything, but as she aged it was harder to get her to take an interest in the ping-pong ball or whatever it was. She'd have a go, but would soon give up and wander off. You could almost see her thinking "fuck it".

    I also found one enormous compensation however: at 40 I realised I no longer got anxious about what others thought of me: what was important to me was what I thought of them. Perhaps not coincidentally, it was around this time that my career plateaued.......
    Never cared about what people thought/think of me. I just wanted to be myself. No one will ever like everyone, nor will you ever like everyone either. Being who you are is what is most important. Those who are real in life find those walking that same walk. Sorry to be so philosophical. Great learning curve. Thanks for sharing.
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    thyroid
    My mother had that unfortunately when chronic fatigue syndrome was the popular cop-out diagnosis. After something like five years someone said, "Hey, why not get your thyroid checked?' and a week later my mom was "never felt better".

    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist
    multifocals
    I'm 42 and after 27 years of stable prescription the nearsightedness is drifting towards normal vision. Being cheap and lazy I reason "why get a new pair every year when I can just take them off?"
    You are right of course.


    What about the first concern, about the encroaching automation? I feel less engaged. It's not like a depression or schizophrenia; more like scheming and daydreaming while I keep doing whatever. How far does this go? If consciousness was consumed by automation, I suppose my outward function would appear normal and even pass the Turing test. But I'd no longer experience life freshly. For example I would go to the coast to look at the ocean... but I wouldn't really look at the ocean. I would glance at it.
    I'm afraid that too may just be age. I recall - in my 40s, as it happens - lamenting the decline in the freshness and immediacy of the things I experienced. I rationalised it as a result of experience - there was little left that would truly surprise me, as I'd seen lots already. I used to think of the family cat: when she was young she would play enthusiastically with anything, but as she aged it was harder to get her to take an interest in the ping-pong ball or whatever it was. She'd have a go, but would soon give up and wander off. You could almost see her thinking "fuck it".

    I also found one enormous compensation however: at 40 I realised I no longer got anxious about what others thought of me: what was important to me was what I thought of them. Perhaps not coincidentally, it was around this time that my career plateaued.......
    Never cared about what people thought/think of me. I just wanted to be myself. No one will ever like everyone, nor will you ever like everyone either. Being who you are is what is most important. Those who are real in life find those walking that same walk. Sorry to be so philosophical. Great learning curve. Thanks for sharing.
    In my experience, thinking you can remodel yourself to be someone other than who you are is a very American trait, bound up with the American Dream, I suppose. That's not what I meant at all. I simply meant that younger people are frequently concerned about what impression they make on others. Anyone who has bought fashionable clothes for example is obviously concerned about this, as is anyone trying to attract a mate. A large part of what young people do is forging and promulgating an image of themselves, not for their own amusement but for the place they want to take in society. This is not an exercise in faking (unless of course the person concerned happens to be an arsehole), but it is a form of advertisement of who you think you are.

    But when you get to 40, the concrete has set, you are stuck with who you are, and you might as well relax and make the best of it.

    That's my view of it, at least.
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    thyroid
    My mother had that unfortunately when chronic fatigue syndrome was the popular cop-out diagnosis. After something like five years someone said, "Hey, why not get your thyroid checked?' and a week later my mom was "never felt better".

    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist
    multifocals
    I'm 42 and after 27 years of stable prescription the nearsightedness is drifting towards normal vision. Being cheap and lazy I reason "why get a new pair every year when I can just take them off?"
    You are right of course.


    What about the first concern, about the encroaching automation? I feel less engaged. It's not like a depression or schizophrenia; more like scheming and daydreaming while I keep doing whatever. How far does this go? If consciousness was consumed by automation, I suppose my outward function would appear normal and even pass the Turing test. But I'd no longer experience life freshly. For example I would go to the coast to look at the ocean... but I wouldn't really look at the ocean. I would glance at it.
    I'm afraid that too may just be age. I recall - in my 40s, as it happens - lamenting the decline in the freshness and immediacy of the things I experienced. I rationalised it as a result of experience - there was little left that would truly surprise me, as I'd seen lots already. I used to think of the family cat: when she was young she would play enthusiastically with anything, but as she aged it was harder to get her to take an interest in the ping-pong ball or whatever it was. She'd have a go, but would soon give up and wander off. You could almost see her thinking "fuck it".

    I also found one enormous compensation however: at 40 I realised I no longer got anxious about what others thought of me: what was important to me was what I thought of them. Perhaps not coincidentally, it was around this time that my career plateaued.......
    Never cared about what people thought/think of me. I just wanted to be myself. No one will ever like everyone, nor will you ever like everyone either. Being who you are is what is most important. Those who are real in life find those walking that same walk. Sorry to be so philosophical. Great learning curve. Thanks for sharing.
    In my experience, thinking you can remodel yourself to be someone other than who you are is a very American trait, bound up with the American Dream, I suppose. That's not what I meant at all. I simply meant that younger people are frequently concerned about what impression they make on others. Anyone who has bought fashionable clothes for example is obviously concerned about this, as is anyone trying to attract a mate. A large part of what young people do is forging and promulgating an image of themselves, not for their own amusement but for the place they want to take in society. This is not an exercise in faking (unless of course the person concerned happens to be an arsehole), but it is a form of advertisement of who you think you are.

    But when you get to 40, the concrete has set, you are stuck with who you are, and you might as well relax and make the best of it.

    That's my view of it, at least.
    Agreed that holds true for many young people. I however also think it holds true for some people all of their lives. I do disagree that at the age of 40 or even 50 you are stuck with who you are. I have seen that proved wrong with individuals I have known all my 60 years on this earth. Those who wish to change, can, and do....those that wish to become curmudgeon's also DO!
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    thyroid
    My mother had that unfortunately when chronic fatigue syndrome was the popular cop-out diagnosis. After something like five years someone said, "Hey, why not get your thyroid checked?' and a week later my mom was "never felt better".

    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist
    multifocals
    I'm 42 and after 27 years of stable prescription the nearsightedness is drifting towards normal vision. Being cheap and lazy I reason "why get a new pair every year when I can just take them off?"
    You are right of course.


    What about the first concern, about the encroaching automation? I feel less engaged. It's not like a depression or schizophrenia; more like scheming and daydreaming while I keep doing whatever. How far does this go? If consciousness was consumed by automation, I suppose my outward function would appear normal and even pass the Turing test. But I'd no longer experience life freshly. For example I would go to the coast to look at the ocean... but I wouldn't really look at the ocean. I would glance at it.
    I'm afraid that too may just be age. I recall - in my 40s, as it happens - lamenting the decline in the freshness and immediacy of the things I experienced. I rationalised it as a result of experience - there was little left that would truly surprise me, as I'd seen lots already. I used to think of the family cat: when she was young she would play enthusiastically with anything, but as she aged it was harder to get her to take an interest in the ping-pong ball or whatever it was. She'd have a go, but would soon give up and wander off. You could almost see her thinking "fuck it".

    I also found one enormous compensation however: at 40 I realised I no longer got anxious about what others thought of me: what was important to me was what I thought of them. Perhaps not coincidentally, it was around this time that my career plateaued.......
    Never cared about what people thought/think of me. I just wanted to be myself. No one will ever like everyone, nor will you ever like everyone either. Being who you are is what is most important. Those who are real in life find those walking that same walk. Sorry to be so philosophical. Great learning curve. Thanks for sharing.
    In my experience, thinking you can remodel yourself to be someone other than who you are is a very American trait, bound up with the American Dream, I suppose. That's not what I meant at all. I simply meant that younger people are frequently concerned about what impression they make on others. Anyone who has bought fashionable clothes for example is obviously concerned about this, as is anyone trying to attract a mate. A large part of what young people do is forging and promulgating an image of themselves, not for their own amusement but for the place they want to take in society. This is not an exercise in faking (unless of course the person concerned happens to be an arsehole), but it is a form of advertisement of who you think you are.

    But when you get to 40, the concrete has set, you are stuck with who you are, and you might as well relax and make the best of it.

    That's my view of it, at least.
    Agreed that holds true for many young people. I however also think it holds true for some people all of their lives. I do disagree that at the age of 40 or even 50 you are stuck with who you are. I have seen that proved wrong with individuals I have known all my 60 years on this earth. Those who wish to change, can, and do....those that wish to become curmudgeon's also DO!
    Very American of you!
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
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    thyroid
    My mother had that unfortunately when chronic fatigue syndrome was the popular cop-out diagnosis. After something like five years someone said, "Hey, why not get your thyroid checked?' and a week later my mom was "never felt better".

    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist
    multifocals
    I'm 42 and after 27 years of stable prescription the nearsightedness is drifting towards normal vision. Being cheap and lazy I reason "why get a new pair every year when I can just take them off?"
    You are right of course.


    What about the first concern, about the encroaching automation? I feel less engaged. It's not like a depression or schizophrenia; more like scheming and daydreaming while I keep doing whatever. How far does this go? If consciousness was consumed by automation, I suppose my outward function would appear normal and even pass the Turing test. But I'd no longer experience life freshly. For example I would go to the coast to look at the ocean... but I wouldn't really look at the ocean. I would glance at it.
    I'm afraid that too may just be age. I recall - in my 40s, as it happens - lamenting the decline in the freshness and immediacy of the things I experienced. I rationalised it as a result of experience - there was little left that would truly surprise me, as I'd seen lots already. I used to think of the family cat: when she was young she would play enthusiastically with anything, but as she aged it was harder to get her to take an interest in the ping-pong ball or whatever it was. She'd have a go, but would soon give up and wander off. You could almost see her thinking "fuck it".

    I also found one enormous compensation however: at 40 I realised I no longer got anxious about what others thought of me: what was important to me was what I thought of them. Perhaps not coincidentally, it was around this time that my career plateaued.......
    Never cared about what people thought/think of me. I just wanted to be myself. No one will ever like everyone, nor will you ever like everyone either. Being who you are is what is most important. Those who are real in life find those walking that same walk. Sorry to be so philosophical. Great learning curve. Thanks for sharing.
    In my experience, thinking you can remodel yourself to be someone other than who you are is a very American trait, bound up with the American Dream, I suppose. That's not what I meant at all. I simply meant that younger people are frequently concerned about what impression they make on others. Anyone who has bought fashionable clothes for example is obviously concerned about this, as is anyone trying to attract a mate. A large part of what young people do is forging and promulgating an image of themselves, not for their own amusement but for the place they want to take in society. This is not an exercise in faking (unless of course the person concerned happens to be an arsehole), but it is a form of advertisement of who you think you are.

    But when you get to 40, the concrete has set, you are stuck with who you are, and you might as well relax and make the best of it.

    That's my view of it, at least.
    Agreed that holds true for many young people. I however also think it holds true for some people all of their lives. I do disagree that at the age of 40 or even 50 you are stuck with who you are. I have seen that proved wrong with individuals I have known all my 60 years on this earth. Those who wish to change, can, and do....those that wish to become curmudgeon's also DO!
    Very American of you!
    BRAT! Not at all. It is just MOI! I never stop changing or exploring or experiencing! When you do that. You're freaking dead Sir London, I believe! *L* My daughter would say, that response.......he's so BRITISH! *L*
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    Pong, it is not clear to me what problem you are describing. Surely, it is beneficial to have the unconscious mind do the routine tasks automatically. This frees up the conscious mind to pursue whatever you are interested in doing.

    If you are forgetting where you put things, and this is seriously interfering with your life, then it might be wise to see a doctor about your loss of memory.

    Maybe the problem is that you have lost interest in doing anything beyond these routine functions. If so, that sounds to me like depression.
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    Unconscious effort?
    No. It's about making no effort at all.

    Things like times tables and other simple number relationships - once they've been learnt, you don't think or make any effort of any kind, you just know. Same as tying shoelaces or riding a bike. Once you know how to do it, you use no effort at all, no thinking, nothing other than just doing it. You only have to think, a bit, when you get a new (or a new kind of) bike or shoelaces.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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    those that wish to become curmudgeon's also DO!
    They needn't wish it, they just have to let it happen.

    It's also absolutely true that some people were "born middle-aged".
    babe likes this.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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    on some thing as human you don't wish to keep your conscious at... so you start the robot... but is this bad thing???
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Unconscious effort?
    No. It's about making no effort at all.

    Things like times tables and other simple number relationships - once they've been learnt, you don't think or make any effort of any kind, you just know. Same as tying shoelaces or riding a bike. Once you know how to do it, you use no effort at all, no thinking, nothing other than just doing it. You only have to think, a bit, when you get a new (or a new kind of) bike or shoelaces.
    that is actually what I am saying in my "personal" terminology "Unconscious effort".
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    I read an article, where author said that scientists made something like Internet for androids. Project is called RoboEarth. It could be scary like Terminator's scenario.
    He is numb from his toes down
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong View Post

    Britannica definition of robot: "any automatically operated machine that replaces human effort, though it may not resemble human beings in appearance or perform functions in a humanlike manner." The tersest definition I know is "an autonomous machine that performs its function without a human operator". By that a mousetrap is a simple robot. It need not walk around and say "excuse me" to be a robot. Robots may exist as software agents only, then we often call them 'bots.

    The robots I have in mind are the "subroutines" we use in daily life: "autonomous cognitions that perform a function without conscious operation". Every one of them once occupied the forefront of consciousness; then by some apparently normal process they sunk from awareness to be filed away as little machines we invoke as needed. Or maybe it's that consciousness grows atop them? Anyway it seems the conscious thought of today is the robot of tomorrow. We just keep amassing these robots, so more and more of life becomes automatic.

    Some people are deluded and believe they're fully aware of everything entering and exiting their brains. When I offer the example of driving for an hour on "autopilot" and recalling nothing of the trip, most people relate and get it. And then they begin to fathom the vastness of their autopilot functions vs. the ephemeral cambium of fresh thought that is consciousness. You'd think the revelation ought to upset a person's sense of self, but it doesn't really. One may think about this without really grasping it.


    I've been growing concerned for my own self lately, though. Thus the thread. I have a raft of concerns.
    This is an interesting thread, I personally like the idea of being able to do certain tasks on 'autopliot'. It seems there are times when we'd all rather be doing something else.
    I don't think it's anything to be worried about, we all seem to do things that way at times, especially repetitive tasks we've often performed many times before.
    Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it. - confucius
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    I find this thread to be leaning towards the visions of a bunch of old farts! jocular
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    I recall - in my 40s, as it happens - lamenting the decline in the freshness and immediacy of the things I experienced. I rationalised it as a result of experience - there was little left that would truly surprise me, as I'd seen lots already. I used to think of the family cat: when she was young she would play enthusiastically with anything, but as she aged it was harder to get her to take an interest in the ping-pong ball or whatever it was. She'd have a go, but would soon give up and wander off. You could almost see her thinking "fuck it".

    I also found one enormous compensation however: at 40 I realised I no longer got anxious about what others thought of me: what was important to me was what I thought of them. Perhaps not coincidentally, it was around this time that my career plateaued.......
    Maybe your career plateaued because you'd attained the perfect ratio of automation ("experience") vs. conscious engagement?

    I suppose there's a perfect ratio for each activity. A deckhand wants the quick precision of robotics; a navigator wants to contemplate. Since in time a practiced activity grows robotic, those requiring conscious attention will become reckless as the robots take over. Hm. Topically, my father had some fingers shredded a few months ago, by tablesaw. Somehow, he must have thrust his hand into the blade... he can't recall how. I've heard that most professionals have their first major accident around 17 years into use. Woodworkers agree it's due to thoughtless habit. My father was only a frequent operator so he got an additional 20 years?

    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    I'm afraid that too may just be age.
    Many conditions once accepted as inevitable with age, are now better understood and managed. Of course we're not wanting to cure people of robots, but we could understand the process better, and perhaps cultivate and handle them more deliberately.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Pong, it is not clear to me what problem you are describing. Surely, it is beneficial to have the unconscious mind do the routine tasks automatically. This frees up the conscious mind to pursue whatever you are interested in doing.

    If you are forgetting where you put things, and this is seriously interfering with your life, then it might be wise to see a doctor about your loss of memory.

    Maybe the problem is that you have lost interest in doing anything beyond these routine functions. If so, that sounds to me like depression.
    Industrial accidents illustrate how performing tasks thoughtlessly is not all beneficial. A balance is needed. Yet increasing automation is involuntary and supposedly inevitable with experience or age.

    Hm. Another anecdote suggests one strategy for keeping up with the robots. When I worked in print shops, we used a laughably massive powerful paper cutting machine - the same machine George Lucas got his "close the blast doors" sound from. We'd arrange stacks of paper beneath the waiting blade, then for safety there were two buttons at opposite ends of the table - the operator must remove both hands from the blade area to push both buttons simultaneously. Then the blade would slam down and up, ready for the next batch of paper. Well my workmate and I found it a lot faster for me to load paper, he to unload it, and each of us would push the button on our own side of the table. We'd get into a rhythm, like a dance. Faster and faster. After a few terrifying false starts though, we found that making a song to accompany the work prevented us from missing a beat. I think the worksong was holding our conscious attention to the task, and coordinating our robotic actions, and maybe interposing at a deeper (neurological) level that is not well understood.

    Quote Originally Posted by adelady
    ...riding a bike. Once you know how to do it, you use no effort at all, no thinking, nothing other than just doing it.
    The Zen folks would say: "When you ride a bike, just ride." What do they mean? I believe they mean to focus all one's consciousness into an activity that could be automatic. So if the chain squeaks, don't think about how you need to oil it and so forth. Don't let robots ride your bike for you while you think about other things. Let the chain squeak, and just ride.

    But if the brake rattles, you'd be wise to think about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by blackscorp
    on some thing as human you don't wish to keep your conscious at... so you start the robot... but is this bad thing???
    Some repugnant though necessary chores we perform with the bare minimum of conscious attention. Personally, when I'm in that mode, my actions are clumsy so I'm not doing the job well. But the alternative is psychologically nasty. I mean handling shit for example.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ascended
    This is an interesting thread, I personally like the idea of being able to do certain tasks on 'autopliot'.
    Thanks, it appears this aspect of mind is mostly ignored and taken for granted. And remarkable we're talking about the interplay of conscious & unconscious yet traditional psychology has nothing relevant to say. Or does it?



    Earlier I suggested consciousness is like cambium. That's the thin membrane of a tree, between wood and bark, that is most alive. As the tree ages, annual layers of cambium are frozen in time as wood. I use this metaphor to understand the relationship between the conscious and unconscious, specifically between the alert present and the automatic/resolved cognitions. Because it seems clear the bulk of mind is patterns laid down by the progression of consciousness. I know it's more complicated than just that, and the unconscious isn't really "dead", but is there a better basic metaphor?
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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    Hm. Is the subject too hard or am I being weird?
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
    I find this thread to be leaning towards the visions of a bunch of old farts! jocular
    self description? *running for the hills*
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