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I've been thinking quite a lot about consciousness and (artificial) intelligence, and what it means to experience. I shared a few notes on my concepts of AI and consciousness over in r/SciFiConcepts

"Anyway, no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power." P. J. O'ROURKE

I want to help get out the message that there are valid reasons for some of the friction and lack of features in Mastodon, while there is also of course plenty of room for improvement.

The inability to free-text search anyone’s messages or anyone’s hashtags across the Fediverse is instrumental in keeping harassers and trolls at bay. Abusers must work harder to find conversations, there are no ”quote-boosts” and no viral rewards. Incentives and abilities to torment are restrained.

This needs a little polishing, but I think it'll make for a good short story. I might even work some version of this into my third book.

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Whether it's in affluent homes or poor ones, the victims rage. An infected species that so far has done well (due to collaboration) starts to stagnate. Polarization rises quickly. And that is how any democracy dies: polarization that just keeps increasing only ends one way.

This was the Great Filter.

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Humanity was just one of its countless victims. It lay embedded in our species since we were primates. It took advantage of a flaw in all sapient individual species: the Halo effect, that we make positive judgments about good looking individuals. Over time, they rise to the top. Then, triggered by the inevitable information age comes the last phase: the compounded effects accelerate and infected are now born narcissists with below average intelligence.

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The mysterious woman explains that she is a Watcher, whose mission it is to give closure to beings who were committed to a quest, but who died before the quest was done. A brief moment of clarity. Seeing how it all connected for a second before the inevitable transition that is death. And as our protagonist starts fading away, she suddenly understands the magnitude of what she had been investigating. It was a virus designed to kill democracies. Or rather, make them exterminate each other.

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By this time, she has spent more than 20 years on the investigation, and gotten nowhere. Had this small problem really been that important? Could she have done something that mattered, something that changed this moment when humanity died out? But as the flashing light reachers her, she suddenly finds herself in a white room, with a woman looking at her. "Welcome, says the woman"

(to be continued)

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She decides to get infected on purpose. She doesn't notice any changes. Clearly, the people are not puppets. She keeps digging. Parallell with her investigation, the world grows more and more restless: water wars, broken alliances. Before she can find out, nuclear holocaust happens.

In the moment she is waiting for the shockwave from the bomb New Gilead dropped on her country as retaliation, she has an epiphany.

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It's the year 2056. Humanity is still on track for 2.5°C warming, and there have been two recessions and three pandemics since The First, which is what they call covid-19, which still is circulating. The only thing in common for all the stuff that's happening is that the rich and powerful always make it unscathed.

She gets lost in the conspiracy parts on the web, where it's speculated that this parasite is an intelligent species using the infected ones as puppets. It seems far fetched.

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It turns out that the parasite gestates in the fetus, slightly altering its DNA. Over time, natural selection has led to traits that lead to more sex.

It turns out that it is underestimated as well, with some clusters (always affluent areas) being up to 95% infected.

As it makes the news, some people in power now refuse to take the test, saying it's ridiculous and an invasion of privacy; they don't want to know if they have it.

In the middle of it all is Kim, an investigative journalist.

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A study I just read gave me an idea for the premise of a short story: humanity is revealed to be the vessel for a sexually transmitted parasite that is believed to be harmless, considering 15% of the population are shown to have it without any adverse effects.

As we now know of the existence of this parasite, we start to study it. And slowly we realize that it does affect us in very subtle ways.

People who have it are less risk-averse, more shortsighted, and more attractive.

No matter how weird this advert for "Vigor's Horse-Action Saddle" seems, it's maybe the least bizarre of these 16 bizarre Victorian era inventions:

(It's one of my favorite links so far this year!)

A very neat annotated image comparing the imaged black holes at the center of M87 and our own galaxy (Sgr A*) as seen by the Event Horizon Telescope. Super exciting #Astronomy news today!

My top albums for writing ambience right now:
Michael McCann's "Deus Ex" soundtracks, and the soundtrack to Mass Effect 3 by Sam Hulick and Clint Mansell. These are masterpieces when it comes to creating a slightly dystopian sci-fi ambience.

Hi Fediverse! I'm trying to write a tranquil description of the #RedForest (part of the site of the #Chernobyl nuclear disaster ☢️). Are there any resources where I can learn about the current #wildlife there? 🔍

I know about the 🐂 bison, 🐻 bears, and 🐺 wolves that have taken refuge there, but don't see much about small mammals or plants. Ideally I'd like to describe the thriving ecosystem which has (albeit with shorter lifespans) sprung up in the area... 🐛

#HelpWanted #BoostsAppreciated

If anyone missed it last night, I've launched a BBS (yes, an old-school BBS, text interface, you access it via telnet) to act as a chill social hangout for #trans folk.

Since it just went live, it's very small, but if we can grow it into a cozy little community, I think it could be pretty great.

If you're interested in the details, contact me directly.

Boosts are also appreciated!

I've been thinking quite a lot about consciousness and (artificial) intelligence, and what it means to experience. I shared a few notes on my concepts of AI and consciousness over in r/SciFiConcepts

One odd but persistent effect of my Ayahuasca therapy:

Before, when I dreamt I could fly, I could never really take off. Now when I dream I can fly, I really can fly and control it.

I think Carl Jung would have a thing or two to say about this.

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