friday five 6.23.17
FRIDAY, JUNE 23RD
I think this past year and the election has really forced us to reevaluate socioeconomic class, and the way it affects the way we think, communicate, and behave. Even the fact that we can "reevaluate" socioeconomic class, without the limitations of socioeconomic class being forced upon us, is such a luxury that most of us don't consider.
And of course there's the obscenely rich, but we as the upper-middle class are "everyday rich". I used to describe a lot of my friends in college as "not extravagantly or ostentatiously wealthy, but always rich enough in the sense that they always have money for the things they want to do." And in a community of peers in which it was common to send your kids to SAT classes or horseback riding camp, this kind of struck me:
There’s a kind of class double-think going on here. On the one hand, upper-middle-class Americans believe they are operating in a meritocracy (a belief that allows them to feel entitled to their winnings); on the other hand, they constantly engage in antimeritocratic behavior in order to give their own children a leg up. To the extent that there is any ethical deliberation, it usually results in a justification along the lines of “Well, maybe it’s wrong, but everyone’s doing it.”
Modern medicine is so amazing. And it's even more amazing that researchers are finding really positive effects with things that are normally considered dangerous (see: LSD microdosing). And I think stigma is hugely detrimental to scientific progress (like the persisting attitudes toward marijuana despite scientific proof that medicinal marijuana is incomparably useful), especially considering the benefit of really positive effects.
I mentioned this very briefly in my Cambodia travel blog, but there's this thing I read about in "The Interpreter" column of The New York Times called "authoritarianization," best defined as "...the steady dismantling of democratic norms and practices by democratically elected leaders." In other words, it's the subtle abuse of power over time. And thus is the problem with democratic backsliding, the boiling frog supposition, etc. It's difficult to see exactly when it's "happened"; instead, it's a very gradual corruption of our idea of "normal." And this is why it's very dangerous not to be outraged—because if we continue allowing it to happen, we will wake up one morning and realize we are living in a dystopia.
I was a little late to the Bitcoin party and never really understood what it was beyond the very fundamental tenets of cryptocurrency. But this is really cool. It's still a lot to process as I have very little knowledge of computational processes, but just the concept is awesome.
I love this, for so many reasons.
Because AI is rad and while I still have a little bit of anxiety about machines taking over the world, it's just really incredible to see technological progress advance independently of human direction.