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Monthly ArchiveMay 2012

Artificial Intelligence & Death & Goal setting & Health Rincewind on 16 May 2012

Life goals – republished from end 2006

I was just wondering if you people have any long term goals in life, and if so, why you have these specific goals. In other words: what do you live for, what is (or will be) your most long term project spanning decades of your life?

I’m not asking for things like ‘become happy’, but some more concrete stuff. I can understand that you don’t know what exactly your lifework is going to be, but you might have at least a vague direction of where you are going. Or you might not, of course.

A lot of people seem to strive for a happy family kind of thing: marry, get children, get a car, buy a house, work really hard for a random company until you retire, have the occasional family visits and just entertain yourself through it without further goals.

I’m not even sure if these people choose to do this. I think it’s more that it kind of happens to them. The girls asks to have a baby and you might not exactly consider it very well and BAM you’re down the road of the above story. It might also be so that due to failing to reach any higher goals family life becomes top priority. It seems to me that a lot of people lose their hobbies/serious ambitions when they have kids, and eventually start living for the only purpose of giving their family/offspring a good life.

I think this is pretty sad. Why do people bother living for their offspring when their kids might live for their offspring and so forth? Where does this lead to, except far in time. It takes so much time to gain knowledge and skills of some sort already, just getting children and counting on your kids (as last hope) in reaching anything throws all of your expertise (or time to exercise your expertise) away. Why not break the cycle?

So then if you’re not parting with the American dream life goals and if you’re a little more ambitious, the most logical thing would be to have a huge project to spend your life on. I’m thinking of a big science/technology project that takes up decades of your life. It could be anything: a new physics theory, a big invention in some area or starting a thriving company. This could – if you’re lucky, good and know how to exploit it – get the real big cash floating. It’s also pretty much an opium that makes you forget about the elapse of time.

And when you have a lot of money, you can actually hire people to realize your dreams, or at least have help working on it. This makes it so much easier to achieve your end goal.

But in the end, in the end it was just you getting carried away in the game of life. There are so many of these things you can do, invent, you can work yourself up in so many ladders, jobs, you can master so many different expertises. A lot of them are great fun, but the choices are endless.

In the end you might (or might not) have benefitted the world, done something for others, and you might even have enjoyed. But yeah, there you are.

Then we have death, of course. I doubt anyone is afraid of dying (as if it matters how you die), but have you ever been in fear of being dead – the world without your presence, your consciousness lost forever? Personally I am frightened to death when I fully realise the possibility of myself disappearing. It’s so sad that death seems such an unbeatable barrier.

Many of my own projects have grown larger with myself getting older (and I’m young). Even when we’re only talking about hobby projects there are some that have have taken up years now – and these are the projects that I feel pressing on the back of my skull screaming “FINISH ME DAMMIT”. I will have the time to finish these, but what I want to illustrate with this is that if projects keep getting bigger, at some point there just isn’t more time to spend in life to finish whatever business (or life goal) you were up to. You’re going to get to the point of dying. You ran out of time, game over.

It would be great to approach living forever: do the gross of the fun things, finish all the projects you start and work yourself to the top in many different professions. The universe as a huge playground. Sadly immortality is impossible, but the most logical and noble life goal I can come up with is prolonging life to the maximum. Also obviously this includes getting rid of the fragile human body and more importantly finding a way to replace my human brains with more durable hardware. And the trick is doing this without breaking myself or my consciousness, and without accidentily copying myself instead of transferring. There is a lot of work to be done, and I really ought to get starting.

I probably sound like somebody with a bad case of premature midlife crisis. But the truth is that I’m far from that, and I’m ready to get my hands dirty. If you weren’t totally thrown off by this post, then I’d love to hear some feedback and to hear about your life goal(s).

Health Rincewind on 02 May 2012

Bad sight can lead to death

Lots of things can go wrong with your sight: your lens can drop out (this happened to me as a kid once) or a piece can break off (as happened to me recently), you can get blood clots in your eyes (this happened to me too), and you can get all kind of other nasty eye problems that ruin your sight. One would say: just an eye problem, but severe eye problems can easily lead to death by all the effects that bad sight causes. Did you read that right? Yes! Death can be a consequence of bad sight.

This is what can happen: your brain circuitry can start disfunctioning because of your bad sight (all the bad images that are being fed to these circuits). Especially if you no longer enjoy normal stereo sight because the pictures can’t merge anymore into a 3D picture because the image quality is off in one eye, your circuits will have a hard time dealing with all the picture information coming in. Important brain circuits might go inactive, and other circuits might start functioning. Circuits are at risk of being washed away by the flood of bad sight information, and side circuits might form.

What happens a lot is that veins close off after brain circuitry has gone inactive around those particular veins, which can result for example in an entire brain half through which blood no longer flows. Because the circuits are inactive, they will no longer drain energy and so the veins will close too, sometimes with blood clots in them.

This in turn will result in problems with blood pressure in other veins, which can result, when the pressure in a vein is too high, in broken blood vessels and brain hemmorrhage easily. This is exactly what happened to me and I barely escaped death. Now luckily my sight is a lot better again and when my sight was improving all the resulted problems were disappearing too.

I found myself unable to work normally, I even got trouble with speech (my intonation and vocabulary changed for the worse), and couldn’t really do anything productive all day. I was shit scared to be in traffic, even riding my bicycle. I accidentily bursted a big blood vessel when going for a run because the pressure in the vessel was too high due to my other brain half having almost no blood circulation anymore. I got lots of extra problems as a result of an eye problem.

This all means that your brain is at serious risk when there’s something wrong with your eye, and if it’s bad enough you’ll be unable to work like you used to, find yourself with trouble speaking and possibly find yourself in a downward spiral of health problems ultimately leading to death, for example by brain hemmorrhage. The only thing you can really do to go against all of this is to fix the cause, the problem with your sight, as quickly as possible.