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inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #51 of 223: for dixie southern iraq (stet) Tue 5 Jan 10 11:45
    
>If we could heal everybody with technology, the doctors would be out
of work, for sure. So if that killer healing app appeared, would you
want to suppress it so that doctors could hang in?  

Technology doesn't heal people. Doctors use technology to heal people.
That's how it's worked for as long as humans have been humans, and I
don't see anything that can or should change it, and (as I've said) the
loudest argument against 'participatory medicine' are the tv ads
encouraging people to participate in asking their doctor for
imbeciledumbostatin
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #52 of 223: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 5 Jan 10 11:47
    
"Havel talks a lot about the dangers of technocratic government in
this book.  Of handing over politics to well-trained experts who know
what they are doing and can prove it.  I happen to favor technocracy in
politics because I think politics ought to be dull, and business
should be rather dull too,  while efforts like science and the arts
ought to have all the vibrancy.  But after reading Havel's warnings
about the crimping and demeaning effect this has, the loss of a sense
of purpose, I'm troubled."

That word I used with medicine - "participatory" - occurs to me here.

It's good to have capable managers running government, administering
government affairs and making sure everything works as it should, going
for the best result. These are bureaucrats - they're staff - but it
shouldn't be their job to decide, at a high level, what they should be
doing. That's driven my people who legislate and people who execute -
politicians and statesmen who are ideally responsive to the popular
will. They're most responsive to the people they hear and see, which is
usually not John Q. Citizen, but Leticia Lobbyist. If we can have
better participation, and especially if we can get the real passions of
the people pumped into the legislative process - won't that balance
the "crimping and demeaning effect" you mention?
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #53 of 223: Harmless drudge (ckridge) Tue 5 Jan 10 11:47
    
I am thinking a lot about industrialization right now, because I am
busily teaching a bunch of outsourcers in the Philippines how to index
periodicals. I am turning a hundred-year old craft into an industrial
process that can be done by cheap, high-turnover workers anywhere. It
is really horrible and I will probably get laid off when I'm done, but
it is giving me things to think about.

It seems to me that what we have to do is to industrialize medicine
and teaching, two things that are done now as crafts, poorly, and at
great expense. We need inexpensive medical technicians doing the same
exact tests, procedures, and protocols over and over, exactly the same
way each time, with the speed and perfection of incessant practice.
Break the work into parts; analyze the parts into steps; train people
to do those steps quickly and perfectly: that's our trick. 

Similarly, we need is not only a national curriculum and standardized
testing, but uniform lesson plans for each teacher each day. The lesson
plans needn't be compulsory; making some lesson plan or other
compulsory would do the job. Making lesson plans is far and away the
hardest part of a teacher's job. Most of them would use the available
plans most of the time.

I don't see any way around this. We can't have a bunch of half-shamans
wandering around at work as if they were in the middle ages in the
middle of a industrial society, sucking huge amounts of money out of
the system in return for doing a moderately poor job. We aren't rich
anymore. We can't afford to be inefficient.

This seems like the only thing to do, and it seems like there is no
way in the world people could be gotten to do it. Could it happen? If
so, where, when, how?
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #54 of 223: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 5 Jan 10 11:56
    
Stet - I said "if" for a reason. Of course there won't be a "killer
healing app," I posited that for the sake of argument.

To your other point, ads on television are not participatory medicine.
In fact, they're a goofy idea, though they probably work to sell
pills. Hearing about something and asking your doctor about it is not
participating in your care and treatment - you're still passive and
uninformed in that process.

If you saw the ad, then studied the treatment it mentions against
other treatments, assessing potential upsides and downsides, side
effects, etc., then discussed it with your physician in an informed way
as a possible treatment choice, that would be closer to participatory
medicine.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #55 of 223: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 5 Jan 10 11:58
    
*ICON magazine just sent me email saying that they accidentally put
chunks of issue #80 online before the release of their print edition. 
You know, it's that story I put in the State of the World discussion
here.

*They discovered their error, and hastily removed the material, except
for my little story there.  Online for mere hours, it promptly got
thousands of hits after Google spidered it and then the link got
Twittered.  So ICON, rather sheepishly, decided to leave the story up.
It's still there, with no other parts of a magazine around it.  Kind of
a loss-leader now.

http://bit.ly/8RRbsZ

*Okay, likely some mild, unsought web publicity for the mag from this 
mishap.  No big deal.  But better leave it there.  Right?   Why risk
probable WORSE publicity when random ornery geeks are clicking on a
dead link and it's like: "Hey!  Upscale British architecture print
magazine!   Where's that free stuff?  We never forgive!  We never
forget!  Expect us!"

*Here's a supposedly slyer architecture mag from Holland, where they
put a full story of mine online, let it soak up some hits, then cut the
dot-pdf in half. They baldly tell you that you have to buy the print
magazine if you want to read the rest of it.  But, I rather imagine
that issue's sold out by now.  So, if you stumble-upon this story while
websurfing, you can blithely read half of it and then suffer the
irritation.

http://www.sunarchitecture.nl/upload/49d601a8ba4b25.51434338.pdf

*Are either, or really any, of these schemes working for print media? 
No.  Why?  Because a magazine on the web isn't a magazine on the web. 
It's a piece of the web that is shaped like a magazine, and tries to
maintain magazine-like customs, functions and expectations.  And, like,
why.  Why do that?  It sort of worked when the Web was a series of
static non-refreshing web pages, but now it's about as likely as trying
to cram a glossy mag onto the WELL. 

It's not that print's a medium, and the web's a medium, and you get to
migrate between media.  The Web is a metamedium that turns everything
it grips into network-culture.

*So it's easy to see that mags are in for it.  What's a little harder
is looking at the hollow shell of your once-favorite antique shop and
realizing that's all about eBay.  "Gee, I'm on the web all the time
now... time for a stroll, it's a sunny day... Gosh, my neighborhood's
full of spooky holes."  Gothic High-Tech.

*Oh, but that's not all.  Wanna see some "Favela Chic?"  Cool Chinese
piracy of a Bruce Sterling story.

http://www.docin.com/p-34476299.html
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #56 of 223: for dixie southern iraq (stet) Tue 5 Jan 10 12:05
    
>We need inexpensive medical technicians doing the same
exact tests, procedures, and protocols over and over, exactly the same
way each time, with the speed and perfection of incessant practice.

That's done now. The medical problem is interpreting the tests with
respect to the individual patient presenting, and that is not trivial.
The human with stethoscope desperately needs all the help she can get
to understand the meaning of the tests - how the result of test 25B
five years ago sheds light on the results of test 1097 from last year
and the new images that she just received. She has fifteen minutes to
figure this out, and then it's time for another patient.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #57 of 223: for dixie southern iraq (stet) Tue 5 Jan 10 12:08
    
>If you saw the ad, then studied the treatment it mentions against
other treatments, assessing potential upsides and downsides, side
effects, etc., then discussed it with your physician in an informed
way
as a possible treatment choice, that would be closer to participatory
medicine.

Except how informed can most people be? They're going on the basis of
popularized summaries posted on the Internet. They don't know basic
physiology, chemistry, immunology or genomics, though they convince
themselves they do. Sure, research can come up with good questions to
ask a doctor, if the patient researcher is smart and well informed to
begin with. Otherwise - ask any doctor for horror stories on this
subject.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #58 of 223: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 5 Jan 10 12:15
    
Participatory medicine and the print media. Check this out:

http://www.foliomag.com/2009/2009-year-magazines

"Time’s most recent average weekly circulation is somewhere around 3.4
million (the POTY edition is almost certainly substantially more). 
That’s down 17% from 5 years ago but is still an impressive number. 
Plus, as Time Inc.’s media kits are at pains to remind you, a general
interest publication like this also has a substantial amount of
“pass-on” readership (think of all those doctor’s office waiting rooms,
for example).

"So who’s advertising? Turns out that the #1 type of space being
bought, by far, isn’t really advertising at all.  It’s prescription
drug legal disclosures.  Yup: 21% of Time’s Person of the Year ad pages
was taken up by those comforting warnings about “suicidal thoughts or
tendencies” or “increased risk of heart attack or stroke”. On average,
there were 1.4 pages of text disclosures for each page of health ads
that contained a photograph.

"All-told, health advertising comprised 40% of total ad pages for 14
prescription drugs and 3 OTC ones.  The biggest spender was
AstraZeneca, whose Seroquel medication for bipolar depression contained
a whopping 5 pages of disclaimers to accompany the one color photo of
a very sad-looking lady sitting on a concrete step. (side note: I just
saw one of their TV ads for the same medication, and the
contraindications and warnings droned on so long that it felt like I
was watching a 30 min. infomercial)..."
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #59 of 223: Michael Heap (jonl) Tue 5 Jan 10 12:29
    
From Michael Heap, submitted via email:

Bruce - on a slight left of field tangent - how do you see hope (the
emotion not the hacker conference) rolling out over the next year as
the key to meaningful change.

to my eyes (yes im still sat in a middle eastern gas/petro-chemical
microstate propping up old media) at the moment im plugged into the
green movement across the gulf as the current regime flails around
trying to deal with the new younger genoration demanding change. one
thing in the last 6 months ive noticed is the hope in the young iranian
populace is very very strong, despite the backlash of the regeime
(maybe i should put it because of the regeime - they have something to
push against).

what i find utterly facinating is the change the young ones want - its
not the shiny western democratic ideals sold by the west - they seem
intent on rejecting those - its to forge their own newly minted islamic
based liberalism looking back to the pre-shah iran.

With iran headed in one direction, turkey heads another from
liberalism toward a stricter interpretation of islam, the introduction
of veil for women and a rejection of western values, again acompanied
with hope of a new turkey.

is hope for change (again backed up by actions by those who can change
- ie the youth) the way forward, by those who are disenfranchised to
re-build their societys?
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #60 of 223: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 5 Jan 10 12:45
    
Stet: "Except how informed can most people be? They're going on the
basis of popularized summaries posted on the Internet. They don't know
basic physiology, chemistry, immunology or genomics, though they
convince themselves they do. Sure, research can come up with good
questions to ask a doctor, if the patient researcher is smart and well
informed to begin with. Otherwise - ask any doctor for horror stories
on this subject."

I think you make several unfortunate assumptions:

- That "most people" can't be informed enough to have active input
into their own medical treatment.

- That without a physician's knowledge and training, patients can't
have useful knowledge, background, or input.

- That patients inherently assume they know more than they do.

Those aren't necessarily correct assumptions, and I'd like to hear
some of the "horror stories" - the worst I've heard is that patients
sometime misinterpret what the  read online and it takes a few extra
minutes of the doctor's time to explain something.

In fact, many of the strongest advocates for participatory medicine
are physicians who really want patients that are better informed and
can be peers within the process of treatment.

It's not just about having patients be more involved, though. Check
out the definition of Participatory Medicine: 

"Participatory medicine is a model of medical care, based on the
development of a team that includes the patient (often referred to as
an e-patient), patient groups & specialized social networks, the entire
care team, and clinical researchers in a collaborative relationship.
It requires equal access to all the data and equal rights in the
decision making process, based on all the data available, the
information gathered and the collective wisdom of peer social networks.
It is based on the understanding that optimally treating an individual
patient suffering from a complex medical condition is often beyond any
single individual's ability."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Participatory_medicine
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #61 of 223: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 5 Jan 10 13:02
    
>*Migrating human brains onto a computer network: about as likely as
migrating human brains onto plankton.

Not human brains, human memories/personalities/identities. Been a
staple of science fiction in one state or form forever. Where's the
impossibility?

*Science fiction adores impossible stuff.  Time machines, faster than
light starships, androids you can marry, artificial intelligences.
Those are sci-fi staples specifically because they're not practical,
and they  don't or can't really exist.

*If there were flying cars around (and we could drive them without
murdering a hundred times the number we already kill on nice flat
highways) then they wouldn't be science fiction.  Science fiction is
particularly enamoured of stuff that can be made to sound plausible,
and yet can't be dragged into popular use.  That way it keeps its
sci-fi gloss and remains in the genre instead of in the business pages.

*That said, let's consider a platform suitable for downloading a human
personality.  I don't think that machine is remotely likely, because
the brain is not a dry, crisp network of logic circuits. The brain is a
big bloody multicellular gland full of rushing liquids and hormonal
goo.  But even assuming there was such a platform, and that it worked,
nobody would hold it still to put human brains on it.  Society wouldn't
be able to get there from here.

*The thing's capacities for other purposes would be colossal.  There'd
be whole hosts of industries and applications exploding out of a
platform like that.  If a thing like that were real, we wouldn't even
bother to have "brains." We'd be pulling out the chunks of wet tissue
and plugging in new stuff that really worked.  Our human
"personalities" wouldn't be personalities.  We would no longer be
remotely human, not a bit of it.  The whole idea of doing such a thing
would seem like a phantom from a vanished age.

*The first guy who used that augment to become President, or make a
billion dollars, would throw the whole scheme into a cocked hat.  Tech
development there would turn into a wild scramble over the issues that
really interest us, self-realization, esteem, love, belonging,
security, meeting our everyday needs. 

*Nothing so wrong with that, but the impossibility gets worse. The
path of technical development required to create a brain-downloading
device would completely transform society.  If we had some humble
gadget fit to hold a mouse brain, it would be so powerful that it would
mean the end of most every custom, institution, ethical system,
philosophy, ideology, everything we know.  We'd be entirely busy
haplessly adjusting to the spinoff apps.  We'd forget all about
conserving brains.

*There are situations that are easy to dramatize, or that are
romantically attractive for philosophical reasons.  "Things that are
good to think," mind-stretching things.  Then there's actual technology
as it is deployed by actual societies.  The relations of society and
technology are very deep, intimate, cultural relations.  Nobody
understands them. Nobody.  

*Science fiction is written to entertain people. The Rapture of the
Geeks is there to help geeks deal with their buried transcendant
impulses and their will-to-power.  The technosocial thing that is
really going on, it is wet and deep and colloidal and infectious...
intimate, domestic... rapturous and paranoid, even.  
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #62 of 223: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 5 Jan 10 13:13
    
"Hope."  A big issue.  You know, I'm going to bow to the Maestro in
that one.

Even a purely moral act that has no hope of any immediate and visible
political effect can gradually and indirectly, over time, gain in
political significance. 
Vaclav Havel 

Hope is a feeling that life and work have meaning. You either have it
or you don't, regardless of the state of the world that surrounds you. 
Vaclav Havel 

Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and
powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or
willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for
success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is
good. 
Vaclav Havel 

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the
conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that
something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. 
Vaclav Havel 

Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the
certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. 
Vaclav Havel  (((He kept working on that one.  That's the one I really
like.)))

I really do inhabit a system in which words are capable of shaking the
entire structure of government, where words can prove mightier than
ten military divisions. 
Vaclav Havel 

I think theatre should always be somewhat suspect. 
Vaclav Havel (((Another particular favorite.  He's a literary man, our
Vaclav.)))

If we are to change our world view, images have to change. The artist
now has a very important job to do. He's not a little peripheral figure
entertaining rich people, he's really needed. 
Vaclav Havel (((He's really needed, and then he shows up with a bunch
of morose wisecracks, and, also, he's bipolar and drunk.  Plus, his
publisher is broke.  There's always hope, though!  Come on!)))

Isn't it the moment of most profound doubt that gives birth to new
certainties? Perhaps hopelessness is the very soil that nourishes human
hope; perhaps one could never find sense in life without first
experiencing its absurdity. 
Vaclav Havel (((Explains why the Czechs made him President. For 15
years!)))

Just as the constant increase of entropy is the basic law of the
universe, so it is the basic law of life to be ever more highly
structured and to struggle against entropy. 
Vaclav Havel (((the physics fan, or rather, the metaphysics fan)))

Lying can never save us from another lie. 
Vaclav Havel 

Modern man must descend the spiral of his own absurdity to the lowest
point; only then can he look beyond it. It is obviously impossible to
get around it, jump over it, or simply avoid it. 
Vaclav Havel 

None of us know all the potentialities that slumber in the spirit of
the population, or all the ways in which that population can surprise
us when there is the right interplay of events. 
Vaclav Havel 

Sometimes I wonder if suicides aren't in fact sad guardians of the
meaning of life. 
Vaclav Havel (((Absurdists, however, live to be 74 and counting
despite missing part of a lung)))

The attempt to devote oneself to literature alone is a most deceptive
thing, and often, paradoxically, it is literature that suffers for it. 
Vaclav Havel (((More great advice to take to heart.)))

The deeper the experience of an absence of meaning - in other words,
of absurdity - the more energetically meaning is sought. 
Vaclav Havel 

The exercise of power is determined by thousands of interactions
between the world of the powerful and that of the powerless, all the
more so because these worlds are never divided by a sharp line:
everyone has a small part of himself in both. 
Vaclav Havel 
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #63 of 223: for dixie southern iraq (stet) Tue 5 Jan 10 13:39
    
transfer personality to chips? we aren't talking about something that
we know is impossible.

>I don't think that machine is remotely likely, because the brain is
not a dry, crisp network of logic circuits. The brain is a
big bloody multicellular gland full of rushing liquids and hormonal
goo.  
Which supports a neural system with an enormous number of
interconnected neurons linked in enormously complex patterns - 10 to
the 11th  neurons. Each neuron is connected to about 1000 other
neurons, creating the staggering total of 10 to the 15  active
interconnections. 

The neurons talk to each other in a time-based pulse code, which is
now well on the way to being decoded. We can model the network
digitially. Sure, it's complicated. What do we have more important to
understand. 

>v*The thing's capacities for other purposes would be colossal. 
There'd be whole hosts of industries and applications exploding out of
a platform like that.  If a thing like that were real, we wouldn't even
bother to have "brains." 

Except what do 'we' have that's more important to "us" than potential
immortality?

>We'd be pulling out the chunks of wet tissue and plugging in new
stuff that really worked.  Our human "personalities" wouldn't be
personalities.  We would no longer be remotely human, not a bit of it. 
The whole idea of doing such a thing would seem like a phantom from a
vanished age.

Sure, we wouldn't be in Kansas anymore. but again, that doesn't make
the idea impossible. 
 
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #64 of 223: for dixie southern iraq (stet) Tue 5 Jan 10 15:01
    
>I think you make several unfortunate assumptions:
- That "most people" can't be informed enough to have active input
into their own medical treatment.

Input, sure. But, if it's so straightforward, why does the medical
profession exist, and has existed for so long? Because the Internet is
a new invention?? The practice of medicine is a tangle of extremely
detailed technical information, detective ability, memory and (often)
physical skill. Patients can help doctors by keeping good track of
their lives. 

- That without a physician's knowledge and training, patients can't
have useful knowledge, background, or input.
This is an overstatement. But, again, if this doctor stuff is
overestimated in terms of how tough it is, why stop with your own case?
Why not help your neighbors, maybe pick up a few bucks. The laws
against this are wrong and shortsighted and outdated?

- That patients inherently assume they know more than they do.
Not always. Many do. People continually do this in all kinds of areas
- read any political blog about climate change to see it in action.
Vaccination rumors and bogus autism pathology are other examples. 

>and I'd like to hear some of the "horror stories" - the worst I've
heard is that patients sometime misinterpret what the  read online and
it takes a few extra minutes of the doctor's time to explain something.

See above. Not explain, have to argue with a patient, or, much worse,
a patient's parent, about biology 101. Or parents going off to
quackland.  


>It requires equal access to all the data and equal rights in the
decision making process, based on all the data available, the
information gathered and the collective wisdom of peer social
networks.
>It is based on the understanding that optimally treating an
individual
patient suffering from a complex medical condition is often beyond any
single individual's ability."

And that's why a complex medical condition is often handled by a
collaboration of two, three or even more specialists. Sure, some
patients can add insight. Not all, though, and I can't imagine making
it compulsory for doctors.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #65 of 223: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 5 Jan 10 15:07
    
The juxtaposition of the Havel quotes with the "consciousness in a
box" concept makes me think of those famous fishbowl heads in Futurama.
Very handy, access to all those brains, held immortal on hand.

I hate to say that anything is impossible, but I agree with Bruce,
storing consciousness somewhere outside the body is about as unlikely
as it gets. James Cameron's "Avatar" depends on this concept - we've
seen it so many times in so many variations that we don't blink, we
suspend disbelief readily. As Bruce says above, science fiction often
makes the unreal seem real, the impossible seem possible. The
occasional accuracy of sci-fi predictions lends even more credibility
to science fiction's devices and imaginings.

We don't even know what consciousness is, or where exactly the sense
of the bounded self emerges... it's fluid and volatile and complex. How
would you know what to move where? And how would it be the same, once
moved? When you move data, the operation is that you copy it, and
delete the original. In moving "heart and soul," what might be lost in
the translation? How do you translate organically emerging awareness
into ones and zeroes?

This makes me think about the technological singularity and the
concept of the superintelligent machine. Bruce, have you seen anything
in your travels to suggest that, as Kurzweil says, "the singularity is
near"?
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #66 of 223: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 5 Jan 10 15:22
    
To stet's latest:

"Input, sure. But, if it's so straightforward, why does the medical
profession exist, and has existed for so long? Because the Internet is
a new invention?? The practice of medicine is a tangle of extremely
detailed technical information, detective ability, memory and (often)
physical skill. Patients can help doctors by keeping good track of
their lives."

I don't disagree with any of that, but I'm not sure how it relates to
what I was saying, or your respone? I didn't say anything was
straightforward, or that the medical profession shouldn't exist, or
that medicine was not complex. We don't seem to be having the same
conversation.

(I said that stet implied...) "- That without a physician's knowledge
and training, patients can't have useful knowledge, background, or
input."

(stet responds:)

"This is an overstatement. But, again, if this doctor stuff is
overestimated in terms of how tough it is, why stop with your own
case? Why not help your neighbors, maybe pick up a few bucks. The laws
against this are wrong and shortsighted and outdated?"

Again, you're speaking to a conversation I wasn't having... and I
don't think it was an overstatement of what you said, but you know
better than I what you were thinking.

Nobody said that "this doctor stuff is overestimated in terms of how
tough it is." Furthermore, the concept of the e-patient is not, as I
think I said earlier, about replacing the doctor with the patient. It's
about the patient, doctor, and others in the system peering and
working together. And certainly nobody suggested that anyone can and
should practice medicine anywhere. I can't see where you're getting
that, frankly.

(I said...)
"- That patients inherently assume they know more than they do."

Stet responds:
"Not always. Many do. People continually do this in all kinds of areas
- read any political blog about climate change to see it in action.
Vaccination rumors and bogus autism pathology are other examples."

So we agree that it's not inherent. In fact, I think it's unusual in
the doctor/patient relationship. I doubt that we can prove your
contention or mind, however - not sure where we'd find the data.

(I said...)
">and I'd like to hear some of the "horror stories" - the worst I've
heard is that patients sometime misinterpret what the  read online and
it takes a few extra minutes of the doctor's time to explain
something."

(stet responds:)
"See above. Not explain, have to argue with a patient, or, much worse,
a patient's parent, about biology 101. Or parents going off to
quackland."

I'm sure that can happen. Again, probably rare. Again, hard to prove
one way or the other.

I don't think we're going to agree, so we should probably end this or
take it elsewhere.


>It requires equal access to all the data and equal rights in the
decision making process, based on all the data available, the
information gathered and the collective wisdom of peer social
networks.
>It is based on the understanding that optimally treating an
individual
patient suffering from a complex medical condition is often beyond any
single individual's ability."

And that's why a complex medical condition is often handled by a
collaboration of two, three or even more specialists. Sure, some
patients can add insight. Not all, though, and I can't imagine making
it compulsory for doctors.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #67 of 223: for dixie southern iraq (stet) Tue 5 Jan 10 17:36
    
>We don't even know what consciousness is, or where exactly the sense
of the bounded self emerges... 
not yet, but the work of Shannon got us closer.

>it's fluid and volatile and complex. How
would you know what to move where? And how would it be the same, once
moved? 
If it's zeros and ones, you know it's the same. That's what Shannon
got.


When you move data, the operation is that you copy it, and
delete the original. 
not necessarily

In moving "heart and soul," what might be lost in
the translation?
don't know till we've tried, do we?

> How do you translate organically emerging awareness
into ones and zeroes?
We don't know yet. Does that mean it can't be done?
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #68 of 223: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 5 Jan 10 18:25
    
"jonl: How would you know what to move where? And how would it be the
same, once moved?
 
"stet: If it's zeros and ones, you know it's the same. That's what
Shannon got."

So human consciousness can be manifest as zeroes and ones? Can you say
more about how that works?


"jonl: When you move data, the operation is that you copy it, and
delete the original.
 
"stet: not necessarily"

Okay, I'll bite - how else do you move data? If the original remains,
you've copied it. If the original goes away, it's been deleted. But I'm
not a computer scientist - I'm sure there's much I don't know about
data operations.

"jonl: How do you translate organically emerging awareness into ones
and zeroes?

"stet: We don't know yet. Does that mean it can't be done?"

Quite likely.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #69 of 223: bill braasch (bbraasch) Tue 5 Jan 10 18:57
    
I'm counting on the knowledge acquisition bottleneck to keep it just fuzzy
enough.  'this is a 1, but what does it mean?'
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #70 of 223: for dixie southern iraq (stet) Tue 5 Jan 10 19:07
    
>"stet: If it's zeros and ones, you know it's the same. That's what
Shannon got."
So human consciousness can be manifest as zeroes and ones? Can you say
more about how that works?

It doesn't work yet. But consciousness is the product of
information-processing -- I mean, what else could it be. And if it's
information processing, it presumably could be digital, absent some
condition you can cite showing it can't - that's the Shannon
contribution.


"jonl: When you move data, the operation is that you copy it, and
delete the original.
 
"stet: not necessarily"

>Okay, I'll bite - how else do you move data? If the original remains,
you've copied it. If the original goes away, it's been deleted. 
You can copy and send it without deleting the original. Think of an
mpg file of "Ripple in Still Water" on your computer. You send it to
me. I have it, you still have it. Mine is identical to yours.


But I'm
not a computer scientist - I'm sure there's much I don't know about
data operations.
Please wiki "Claude Shannon."


"jonl: How do you translate organically emerging awareness into ones
and zeroes?

"stet: We don't know yet. Does that mean it can't be done?"

>Quite likely.
"I'm sure there's much I don't know about
data operations." but you think it's quite likely that it can't be
done. Maybe read a little before you decide what's quite likely and
what isn't.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #71 of 223: for dixie southern iraq (stet) Tue 5 Jan 10 19:08
    
>I'm counting on the knowledge acquisition bottleneck to keep it just
fuzzy enough.  'this is a 1, but what does it mean?'

ones and zeros don't mean anything. They are raw information, to be
transmitted perfectly using error coding. Meaning is in the mind of the
receiver after the message is complete. and one receiver's message is
another receiver's noise.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #72 of 223: Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Wed 6 Jan 10 01:27
    
Based on my experience with tech support, most people don't really
know how to write a bug report. I suspect that there are similar issues
with  doctors attempting to come up with a diagnosis based on vague
complaints. So it seems like one of the most important things we as
patients should be able to learn to do is to gather and record data
about ourselves. Instead of going in with a vague set of complaints,
how about doing some readings and publishing a dataset? Medical sensors
and diagnostics becoming much cheaper might lead to something.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #73 of 223: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 6 Jan 10 01:37
    
*Top ebooks pirated in 2009 by guys with electronic book readers. 
Man, that gadget-toting reader set is a weird crowd.

*Imagine the one guy who read all ten of these ebooks. Either that guy
is bi-curious or the hardware is owned by a married couple with some
real issues.

1. Kamasutra

2. Adobe Photoshop Secrets

3. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Amazing Sex

4. The Lost Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci

5. Solar House--A Guide for the Solar Designer

6. Before Pornography--Erotic Writing In Early Modern England

7. Twilight--Complete Series

8. How To Get Anyone To Say YES--The Science Of Influence

9. Nude Photography--The Art And The Craft

10. Fix It--How To Do All Those Little Repair Jobs Around The Home
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #74 of 223: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 6 Jan 10 01:48
    
*The brain thing is not gonna fly.  I mean, the notion's gonna hang
around because it's so romantically attractive, but it's not important.
 If it were genuinely important there would be a Cabinet officer in
charge of Brain Immortality, and some kind of Brain Immortality StartUp
Cluster, probably somewhere around Pittsburgh where they could hang
out with Hans Moravec.

*The idea is not formally and metaphysically impossible, but it's
impossible in the way that a shapely and obedient robot girlfriend from
the Stepford Wives Club is impossible.  There are plenty of
transhumanist geeks who wanna upload their brains, but they are vastly
outnumbered by lonely geeks who lack interpersonal skills and wanna get
laid by machinery.  That's an old scifi idea too, really old, as old
as Fritz Lang's METROPOLIS.  

*We've made some headfakes in that direction since.  YouTube's got
some awesome videos of foam-rubber Japanese chicks, and there are
inflatable dolls and even publicity stunts where geeks marry cartoon
characters.  But it would be wrong to say we're on some kind of
Singularity brink of inventing robot girlfriends.  The sci-fi
landscape's littered with 'em, and Terminator killer robot-boys too,
but they're stage props, not working technologies.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #75 of 223: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 6 Jan 10 02:29
    
I don't want this to turn into a Rapture of the Geeks lovefest here;
people who are into transhumanism are emotionally committed.  They're
not gonna be rationally argued out of their heartfelt desires, any more
than Creationists are gonna go kiss a chimpanzee on the lips and say
"Mom."

Metaphysical arguments are rarely settled.  They just get re-phrased
in subtler terms.  Time passes, and the debaters re-define victory.  
"Okay, I said 'Artificial Intelligence' in the 1960s,  but I really
meant 'Google.' Google is unhuman and really smart just like a 1960s
Hard-AI machine, so my ideas about intelligence and what could be done
with it were right all along." 

Well, no.  Because Google is a *collective* intelligence which is
collating what people are doing... but how boring to split hairs like
that!  Cool machines that know stuff!  We live in an age of wonders! 
Yeah man!

*But, well, look.  Human intelligence is not ones and zeros. No.  Ones
and zeros don't eat lunch.  You know when you skip lunch, and you get
kind of weak and cranky, and you can't think very well?  That's because
the brain is metabolizing a flow of chemical energy into the body,
chewing it, breaking it up with a huge gut system, and particles flow
into your bloodstream and *you think with that.*  That's you. Take that
away, and you die.

*You also have sensory input, you sleep and dream and have sex and get
exercise, and all these things profoundly affect the brain,
consciousness and the personality, and none of those phenomena are
about ones and zeros inside a "platform."

*If you take people and put them in a sensory-deprivation tank, where
it's just them and their cognitive platform, they start hallucinating. 
Rather promptly.  That's because there is no analytical ones-and-zeros
ghost in our heads that can be pulled out with a tea-strainer.  

*The brain's a gland.  Anatomically, the brain is quite like an ovary
or a testicle.  If you talked about the bit-streams and nerve networks
in your ovaries and testicles, people would immediately sense that
there was something fishy going on with your reasoning.  But if you
talk about consciousness and personality, you can immediately hide the
issue inside a long-accepted Descartian body-mind split.  

Even though -- mind you -- people with ovaries have feminine brains
and people with testicles have masculine brains.  Would you really like
to have a de-masculinized, de-sexed brain?  Isn't gender something
that has rather a lot to do with our "personalities"?  You don't get
gender behaviors without gender glands.

*So, let's say you fully mimic your testicle.  Scan it with the same
techniques as the brain scan. There it is: testicle on a chip, with an
operating system, thank you Microsoft Windows XXXVII.  Are you gonna
have children with that scan?  Is that, in any formal or pragmatic
sense, really a testicle?  It's your model of a testicle, made through
a certain device and encoded in certain ways.  Would you expect it to
behave exactly like a testicle? If you kick it does it howl, if you cut
it does it bleed?  Is it going to go through puberty and viropause,
developing in the way that testicles actually develop?  No.  It's a
medical model of a testicle, so to claim that it's actually "your
testicle" is a category error.

*The same would be true, except much more so, of your human
personality on a chip.  There would be a program on a chip, but it
wouldn't behave remotely like a human personality.  You'd need, really,
to scan not just a handy testicle, but a whole functioning body. 
Adrenal glands, heartbeat, meals.... Skin, eyelids, eyes, retinas... 
Sleep, dreaming... Some sex is generally considered a good idea...  So
you'd better model somebody else on your chip too, plus a home...
children... some rich sensory input, reruns of THE HONEYMOONERS,
tortilla chips, whatever... 

Kinda piling Pelion upon Ossa there, and that's why the idea's not
credible.  IMAGINABLE, sure, popular, kinda, credible, not really.

Uploading's about as credible as going to heaven.  Tremendously
compelling idea.  Ancient.  Indestructible.  Irrefutable.  People
pretend to believe in heaven all the time, mind you.  Huge majorities
of people, even.  Tell somebody their Grandma's gone forever, she's
just ashes... they get really upset. They won't nod and agree just
because you present them with some overwhelming evidence.  

We already have a magic uploading site where there is no marriage or
giving in marriage (unless you're Moslem).  It's not much use to sit
down with someone and argue that the blue dome of Heaven isn't really a
dome, like we thought; that we've got instruments now and we can
pretty well tell now that there are no gates and angels up there, that
Jupiter isn't Jupiter and Saturn isn't Saturn.  

*Believers will just smile at you in sophisticated fashion and say,
well, that was just metaphorical... that life has no meaning
otherwise...  that they'd kill themselves if they were forced to think
like you think.

*You get used to that after a while. It's okay.  On to another
topic... Hittite conspiracies, color theory, trilobites, the manned
space program.  There's plenty of fish in the sea.
  

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