Monday, October 3, 2011

The Point is that Clamenza is a Fat Fuck

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

Mr. and Mrs. Wernak give me an apple from their tree in the backyard.  I've never had one better, but it could have just been that I was hungry.  It lacked pointy bits and I can totally conceive of someone eating the entire thing.

Going to Newark yesterday I had to cross a narrow, two lane dam shooting loud torrents of water down some fifty feet.  It was terrifying and beautiful.  Today I had to cross a mile long two lane bridge into Philadelphia and there was no beauty about it.  The slums here are different than those in Baltimore.  It's possible they're just less pervasive or squalid.  Philly is overrun with homeless crust punks with dogs, though, so I guess they have that going for them.

I don't have a place to stay and begin my quest to find one.  I ask around and go to hip places.  By sheer dumb luck I run into Philip Lahaed.  He's dressed in a cycling outfit, as am I along with my geared up bike.  We start talking and he tells me he's taking a tour down to Florida and then over to New Orleans.  He's excited to be able to put me up for a few nights.  He's a weed dealer bike courier and I'm amazed at my luck.  He's an organizer for the Philly naked rides and doesn't hesitate to change in front of me.  I wish it was cool to get naked around other people.  I think I just want to show people my dick.  Philip complains about his current situation:  he's boning this girl but it's not really substantive or emotionally engaging.  I argue eating anything is better than going hungry.  Unbeknownst to me she is my waitress the next day.  She's filet mignon and apparently not the only course.

On my second night Philip dresses in extremely short khakis, black leggings, and a neon orange jacket.  We ride our bikes around much of Philly's empty streets making deliveries.  He went to the dentist that morning and needs to have some extensive work done, which means spending a lot of money.  He's going with two others on his tour and is nearly broke.  He calculates that he'll be able to spend about six dollars a day.  I'm averaging twenty between major cities and thirty to forty a day in them.  His trip is going to be radically different than mine.  Philip seems very smart and plans to get his M.D. and Ph.D. but currently attends a community college.  I wonder about who is smarter.  I can't tell if I'm thinking too much into it or he knows something I don't.


Aristotle said that there were three kinds of motivations: for wealth, for gratification, and for wisdom.  Wealth is simply another form begging of gratification.  Gratification is fleeting, temporary, and probably not virtuous.  Seeking wisdom is the best for some reason, but I always figured it was Aristotle being self-congratulatory on account of his seeking wisdom.  I think that might be the case, but he could have a legitimate point.

Without getting into whether intrinsic value can exist to begin with, I find myself judging more complex systems as more valuable.  That is, regenerative or reproductive processes become more valuable as they stack upon one another, if only based on their statistical rarity.  Psychologic processes are based on biology, based on chemistry, based on physics in that if any simpler system stops functioning so too do the complex systems based on it.  Sapience is more valuable than solely life, but life more than chemistry.

It could be egocentric, but I think intelligence different than any other adaptation, such as sight.  Intelligence is self replicating and self seeking, whereas sight can become more precise or expansive but not self replicating, unless you could have some sort of weird sight that seeks to see.  Frank Yang argues that consciousness could be something that existed before the universe as a way for it to comprehend itself.  I don't agree, but it's a neat way of thinking.

If a machine was made with the sole purpose of becoming more intelligent it's conceivable that if its physical form remained intact, and given the necessary resources, it would be able to increase its knowledge indefinitely.  It would never reach any one underlying truth of the universe because of infinite regress, but it could follow the same pattern of creating a new system at a certain level of complexity in the system prior.  The concept is easy to grasp, but the content of this new formation is impossible to determine.

As humans dependent on biologic forms, it seems unlikely that we'll ever attain this hyper intelligent state.  If we are, however, able to create a machine that could exponentially increase its intelligence it would lead eventually to a level of replicative complexity currently unimaginable.  Possibly anthropocentric, it's disappointing the thought of humans reaching their pinnacle in artificial forms, but the intelligence inherit in us finds the whole of itself more important than that of its biologic container.  As a cell dies for the body, so too can the biologic for intelligence.

I have a discussion with a graduate of Harvard and MIT about systems and their applicability to most things.  He's writing a book about the nature of systems both biologic and physical and how they can be used to solve practical problems.  I'm able to talk to him and understand his cognitive process.  I feel from him no condescension nor pretension as we discuss cerebral, subversive media and how a sense of fear in safe situations allows for a change of perception.  The difference between us is the same as between Philip and I: we keep up knowledgable conversation in spite of our different academic records and backgrounds.  Philip isn't less intelligent than me and I don't feel significantly less intelligent than this MIT guy.  We are able to retain a normal, intelligent conversation without any patronization nor large gap in understanding.  I begin to think that an academic background does not determine intelligence, only the raw amount of information one has.  Our separation in academia originates more from our initial motivation and foresight rather than pure cognitive capabilities.

In his own way, Philip is more knowledgeable about himself and what he's doing than some of these uptight, overachieving pricks getting straight As at John Hopkins.  They've worked for a grade, unquestioning of its significance since kindergarden.  Philip goes to community college because of poor performance before, but seems to know exactly what he wants and why.  Work ethic be damned, he's more knowledgable at least about his motivations than some of these to be lawyer shitheels.

Machines may obtain a greater factual intelligence, but wisdom seems to come from understanding one's motivations for doing what you are.  And have you ever seen The Terminator?  Robots are goddamn terrifying.

Pennsylvania Kill Count 
Cat: 1
Dog: 1
Mole: 1
Opossum: 1
Turtle: 1
Unknown: 3

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