Let’s Talk About Text: Unfunny puns and physics.
My friend Thomas Fletcher and I tried to enjoy Big Bang Theory one afternoon in his Pasadena apartment. He was two years out of Caltech with a law degree and a fiancée and offer at a prodigious D.C. law firm. I was waiting for my gap year to end between my two years watching Goldman Sachs and waiting for my graduate career at Cornell University to begin. He was nostalgic for his years of intense Chemistry and the uncomfortable discover that out in the rest of the world nobody knew or particularly cared about smart people.
With me watching from the heights of Goldman Sachs overlooking the world, I had better understood my lot, as defined as how the powerful seemed to see me before I arrived or spoke, as protecting the rich and powerful from making mistakes, which they did anyway. A man named Barack Obama was still a few years away from a national spotlight, giving us the confidence that intelligent men and women still had a place in this thing called the American Dream.
So, maybe that is why Tom wanted me to like the show. I didn’t. I hated it.
I heard punchlines where no punchlines were written, and punctuations of a laugh track that seemed to only emphasize the boilerplate statements of the dorky graduate students as they made physically accurate physics statements.
No puns, no charm, no construction of a joke. Just a quiet evening of listening to physicists prattle off secret codes and concepts without knowing they were.
To boot, in the American economy of the early aughts and the failed venture of that iteration of cowboy American leadership, a lot of those clueless young physicists were facing a relatively dark economic future if they didn’t wise up.
Who’s the punchline of that joke?
Sam Harris believes we ought to begin creating a new post-AI religion. His reasoning is that super-human automated intelligence is a when-not-if inevitability. This is different than the Simulation hypothesis popularized by Elon Musk, that we are doomed to outpace our intellect with simulations so that future automata idle away their days bringing humans out of nothingness and halt the unproductive ones; and by Keanu Reeves and the Matrix, that our intellect is eclipsed so thoroughly that we are doomed to be their nuisance. This is different than the Tenet hypothesis popularized by Batman director Christopher Nolan and Sean Carroll, that we are racing towards an oblivion that only we can prevent.
Thinking back to the quiet acts of rebellion at Goldman Sachs..
All this talk and projection of ones’ id speaks to the countenance that in this age of personalization algorithms more millennials believe in astrology than ever before. Countenance has two meanings here, and as we live an increasing proportion of our lives on camera, our emotions reveal our true spiritual self.
Moreover, the nature of human intelligence is strictly ours to define as the humans in the systems of intelligence which we allow operated by AI. And because human beings are bound by a particularly curious set of limitations by our own physiology, neurology, and romance we have an obligation — a moral obligation — to design and build this system of intelligence around our innate social and educational preferences as human relationships living happily.
In Contact, the characters played by Matthew McConaughey and Jodie Foster discuss whether the secret technology channeled down to Earthly civilization by mysterious forces could be destructive, instead of altruistic. Her reasoning is profoundly moralistic, but also strikingly diminishing and subversive, asking why, with technology so grand, would any aliens consider taking destructive action against humanity? She unwittingly establishes a pugilistic moral high ground which make her, and by extension women and humans, pejorative to some super, superior, supreme that does not even understand its otherness.
His response sets this in stone: why would aliens consider destructive action against humanity any more consequential than wiping out anthills in Africa?
This, of course, is a false choice in AI and post-AI because we humans are its builders and mothers. We are its carpenters and its teachers.
So goes with post-AI.
What do we really know about reality?
As a physicist, the disconnect between the abstract conceptual descriptions of our world and our day-in and day-out experience has always fascinated me. It is what I first fell in love with reading Albert Einstein’s first works of relativity.
Because of all the sciences, astronomy, astrophysics, and the universe are the most cosmological in the nature of what physics means to us as human beings.
Every physics conceptualization came out of some human imagination during a round of serendipity and attentive thought, and so who is to say whether we as human beings are fooling ourselves with conceptualizations of the world?
We can point telescopes to the furthest reaches of our outer space universe, but if our measuring apparatus or instruments are tied to that phenomena, how can we be sure our observations are not closed-loop figments of mind?
Under what conditions do scanning electron tunneling microscopes confirm the wave-function dynamics of an atom to be independent measurements?
Peace be with you.
How is it that the sub-atomic reality whizzes and pings with electronic forces and quantum chains of dynamically probabilistic reality, and yet I am simply walking to the grocery store? What does it mean that these two realities seem to be exactly and equally real? Even more so, if you pull the thread of physics long enough you begin to realize there are rifts in the conceptual fabric, too. How does the Copernican perspective that humans have no special place in the Universe square with the need for Quantum Mechanics to have a prime observer in order to break the degeneracy of experimental measures, anyway?
In the end, I concluded that physics is not so much a definition of reality as it is a language we human beings articulated to describe our surrounding reality.
As my thinking goes, physics is just another exercise in poetry, as laden with the psychological realities of literature and open to interpretation subjectively.
Why did Einstein believe atomic theory was so important to make connections between Brownian motion and the mathematics of diffusion? I don’t know, man, maybe he psychologically felt jostled around during the experience of not being hired by the academia of his time. Maybe it’s not rocket science after all.
When Einstein originated the conceptualizations of special relativity, he did so at a time of great mechanical innovation, in which the whole of economies in Germany were trying to invent methods for synchronizing clocks across great distances after the invention of the intra-country railway system, so that those famous German trains could run on time. He was in constant connection with the greatest physicists of his time and working at the famed job at the patent office… during the time those synchronization methods were across his desk.
This social phenomena of the science of physics had a profound effect on me.
The Lovely Life and Good Wife
Among the indignities of pop culture us physicists have to endure is this joke:
Three men — an artist, a doctor and a physicist — were discussing the relative merits of having a wife or a mistress. The artist says: “For sure a mistress is better. Life is to be lived for passion.” The doctor says: “For sure a wife is better. Life has meaning with companionship.” The physicist says: “You’re both wrong. It’s best to have both a wife and a mistress. That way, when your wife thinks you’re with your mistress, and the mistress thinks you’re with your wife, you can be in the laboratory working!” Cringetopia. Or, rather, Bazinga!
Ready or not, here AI comes. If not already, the greatest minds of physics are going to be inventing methods that become manifest in our post-AI reality.
Maybe the world ought have a better framework for thinking of these people?
Rather than punt the nuclear football of AI into the far future, I would rather we use the platform to create compassion and passion between free thinkers who feel a lifetime of wellness and goodwill generosity to others near them.
We could generate stories and bon-mots that minimize the user lifetime in these cringe channels and determine what they feel their society is lacking.
There will be a systematic protocol established to determine bot from human.
This will be a transparent research and development platform for a generative AI that will facilitate the creation of a media company encompassing all the areas of art, literature, and science supporting Marvel and Sunshine Capital.
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Fusion was the broken heart that was lonely’s only thought.
And all night you drove me wild with your equations.
— The Temptation of Adam
You have to listen to the song. He doesn’t push the button. That’s the point.
Other than those two lines, the song feels like the willies and the creeps.
Snap, back to reality; oh, there goes gravity: Lose Yourself.
A physicist had reached out to my company for consultation on a question one of his clients appears to be asking about the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
We have a solution or partial solution to this problem. But, when sitting in a WeWork with a woman who would later be identified as an American, lady, bad hombre-type my instincts held me from performing the duties as desired.
When she later prevented me from participating in a WeWork sponsored party of a new Italian mens club and fashion providers, I decided to exit the party.
Which is to say “you guys aren’t ready for that, but your kids are going to love it.”