It’s Saturday morning as I write this, in case you don’t know.
I hope you all had a momentous night. I wouldn’t say that I had one, but I was awakened by pain again, which is not a rare occurrence. I do take something for pain before I go to sleep, but I guess it wears off too quickly, even though the dosage period for Aleve (the “something” to which I refer) is 12 hours. That’s a bit frustrating. I also had reflux, which hasn’t happened in a while, but that’s a minor problem, and I think I know what caused it.
So, here I am, with less sleep this week than I think I’ve had since one November rotation in the ICU/CCU at Einstein/Weiler hospital during my medical residency. That was the rotation during which, on one shift, I literally did not even sit down for nearly 36 hours. It was very stressful, but at least I was doing some good in the world, and practicing my skills to do more good in the future. That’s not the case now, and frankly, I’m not sure I could ever have the energy even to try to figure out some new way to do good.
Here’s a little aside: When I wrote the phrase “even to try” just now, Google Docs underlined/noted it as possibly incorrect, as most word processors do nowadays. But the thing is, it recommended that I change it to “to even try”! That’s right, automatic grammar checkers are encouraging people to split infinitives*, instead of encouraging them not to do so.
I can be reasonable and nondogmatic and accepting about split infinitives‒they occasionally provide a cheap means of rhetorical emphasis that might require a full second or two of thought to achieve otherwise. But ever since I started studying Spanish in high school and college and realized that there are many languages** in which it is impossible to split infinitives without actual tmesis, I’ve decided to try to avoid the practice. In writing dialogue, of course, I’m quite happy to split infinitives, since people do that frequently in extemporaneous and casual speech. But I try to leave it out of narration or nonfiction.
I’m sure I accidentally allow it to happen without even noticing at times. Such are the fruits of living in a society that indulges in lazy grammar. But between the fact that autocorrect keeps replacing “its” with “it’s” when the added “s” is possessive, and that it’s*** now suggesting that writers split infinitives, I’m leaning toward the conclusion that it’s time to pull out the Glaive of Silence and do a restart on the world.
Just wipe it all out, everything but the microbes, and see what happens next. Because with bullshit shortcuts like ChatGPT and whatnot, humans are going to get lazier and lazier, and their thinking is going to get sloppier and sloppier. And, of course, since these “deep learning” programs don’t actually learn deeply or understand at all, but are merely “trained” on oodles of brain droppings from across the internet and web to predict what sorts of words might follow a previous one, and what might be a typical response to particular queries, cyberspace is going to be flooded with recursive nonsense.
Future ChatGPT type programs will “learn” from, among other things, the garbage produced by prior chatbots and so on, with no way to discern what’s good, or what’s correct, or what’s reasonable or logical or true, only what’s common. Then it will make those things more common by its own actions. And while it might be interesting to see how such crap evolves as people use it more to avoid having to think and work themselves, there’s no path toward actual understanding.
Probably most people don’t think about how things work, and they don’t want to do so. They just want to become the Eloi. Who cares if they’re being eaten by Morlocks? It’s worse than the Matrix. People will become addicted/enslaved, to a system that can’t even know it’s enslaving them. It’s worse than an idiocracy or a kleptocracy or an autocracy.
Imagine a world consisting solely of second-rate, “postmodern” literary and social theorists whose intellectual pursuits consist only of critiquing others of their ilk, in a cycle that never forces itself to make any contact with actual external reality, or with any actual literature, for that matter. Then take that to the billionth power and turn it into the new, accidental paradigm of civilization.
How long can it survive?
Not long, I would wager. But it can do a lot of damage before it goes. So maybe we should do a reset. Okay, maybe it’s not necessary to wipe out all multicellular life. Maybe we should just eliminate civilization, but keep the history and scientific knowledge, so that when rebuilding, repeated mistakes can be avoided.
It would be like going back to the last “save” point when your character is killed in a video game; you can learn from what killed you last time. It would be so much better than just being forced to continue the game without saving, and then, if you die near the end, just losing, without even the option to start over.
Maybe even that would be better than continuing to live indefinitely in a big “neural network” that doesn’t even actually understand itself, let alone anything else in the universe.
Wow, I didn’t expect to be writing about that when I started. But I know what initiated it and why, and I didn’t just react to it randomly, but have thought about such matters before. I even explored some of the issues in Son of Man, though not specifically those relating to chat bots and related civilizational tumors.
I guess I get a bit grumpy from lack of sleep and depression, not to mention a week of persistent and horrible sensory overload that’s borne down upon…well, a person who is probably somewhere on the autism spectrum, and who has never been particularly amenable to loud noises and random conversations and chaos except when it serves actual purposes.
I don’t know how long or even if I will be able to tolerate much more. Every camel’s back has a breaking point.
I already think I probably gave myself a mild concussion yesterday from banging my head repeatedly against a wall out of stress. I’m not exaggerating; I got woozy and sleepy not long after that, and even felt a bit confused and spacey. I still have a slight headache and just a mild degree of spaciness, even now.
I probably should avoid doing that too often. Knowing my luck, I’d probably get debilitating brain damage with which I would then live for decades, rather than something that kills me on a relatively short time scale. That would be ironic.
I need to find other, better reactions to my extreme stress, I guess. But it usually needs to be something painful, whether psychologically or physically (or both), to do the job. I’ve torn up drawings and paintings and music and the like in the past, but I don’t really have such easy targets nowadays.
Of course, it would be nice not to feel so tense and horrible that I have the‒sometimes irresistible‒urge to hurt my things or myself. But I don’t know how that is ever going to happen. The world only seem to grow less tolerable, not more, and whatever doesn’t kill a person often kills one slowly, with drawn out pain and suffering.
On that note…well, I hope you have a nice remainder of your weekend. ^_^
*And to do so boldly, one might be inclined to think.
**Spanish is one of them but not the only one.
***This is a contraction, and that is when an apostrophe belongs between that “t” and that “s”.