An Ontological Discussion With Matt [Short Story]

An Ontological Discussion with Matt
by Joel Nickel

“Every person is actually the same being experiencing reality subjectively,” Matt pulled the cup to his mouth. His words were spoken as though they were mundane and ordinary; some trivial conversation about some idle piece of gossip.
They sat down in the café after both had ordered drinks.
Lillith was so shaken by the enormity of Matt’s words that her body convulsed as though her whole body was doing a comically exaggerated double take for some hammy vaudevillian act.
“Holy fuck? What?” She immediately covered her mouth. “Sorry,” she looked down, embarrassed. “I meant, to say . . .”
“I think you meant to say ‘holy fuck’,” Matt grinned.
She chuckled shyly and then tried to sit up straight. “Okay, I’m going to think about this critically. Convince me.”
“I think humans are identical pieces of the same being, but are represented in the physical world separately by each person’s consciousness. And only in that way are we differentiated. If we went back to the spiritual world we’d just be part of that same being. All consciousness is supplied by one being hosting separate bodies; a meta-subjective view of reality.”
“Hmmm, so that thing is everybody?” she swirled the coffee around with her brown plastic stir stick.
“Yes, but I think it’s a single being from a duality. There is good essence and evil essence inside us. When one of the essences controls another being more than the other that person becomes good or bad.”
“That would explain why so many religions are built around the idea that the world started by God for humans. Maybe consciousness developed when this entity was able to harness the body of the homo sapiens and insert it’s consciousness onto it,” she took a drink from her coffee.
“I believe that the first modern man and woman were given consciousness by just such an entity. So the Bible’s Adam and Eve were actually just the first two homo sapiens that had consciousness. And that explains how there were other homo sapiens for Cain and Able to mate with. They were just mating with homo sapiens who hadn’t attained consciousness. Maybe the first consciousness was only in Adam and Eve, but then through birth it separated from Adam and Eve into Cain and Able. And then was transferred to the rest of humanity through Cain. Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a metaphor for homo sapiens attaining consciousness. Both good and evil energies existed together as one in both Adam and Eve, but when they had children the energies were split apart. Cain contained more evil than good and Able contained more good than evil. But then Cain killed Able and the majority of goodness was lost from the timeline and the rest of humanity is filled with the evil energy that Cain propagated through the generations.”
“What if Adam and Eve have a good son that was hidden away?”
“Woah. What if he wasn’t written about again until Mary, but rather than the virgin birth, Mary was actually part of the biological line of the good son of Adam and Eve had hidden away from Cain’s evil lineage. What if in that isolation from Cain the good energy lineage exercised a kind of sexual selection where only those with a high amount of goodness were allowed to procreate until we reach Jesus who was almost entirely good energy. When Jesus became aware of the way that the Jewish religion had been distorted as a system of control over the people through the influence of an elite few, he decided to expose humanity to the real message. Everyone is a subjective piece of God’s consciousness.”
“What if the context of what Jesus said was altered by the people who reprinted the Bible? The original Hebrew was changed to Greek and then from Greek to Old English, right? I’m pretty sure that’s right,” it had been a long time since she was ever in Sunday School and she really didn’t know that much about religion so she decided to stop herself and Matt continued.
She looked down at the floor.
“There are single words in certain languages that represent whole concepts. Since word is a whole concept, it can only be translated as a sentence when there is no equivalent word in the language it’s being translated into. Although, actually I can’t think of an example in English,” he paused, scrunching his face together and looking up as though he were trying to peer inside his brain with his eyes and that somehow that would help him remember. “Well, the French have a word ennui. And ennui, means . . . actually,” Matt pulled out his smartphone and entered the word into the search engine on his browser. After an unbelievably short time, which wasn’t appreciated or even acknowledged as being as miraculous as it was, the smartphone gave him the knowledge he was desiring. “Ennui is the feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction. That one word actually means an entire concept. And the word petrichor! That is the scent of rain on dry earth. Both are concepts condensed into one word. What words in original Hebrew were like ennui and petrichor? Maybe the meaning conveyed in those original words were mistranslated when the scriptures were transferred over to Greek. And then again when the Bible was translated into English? I always wondered if when Jesus said ‘we should love another as yourself,’ he wasn’t meaning you should love one another as separate, disconnected individuals. Maybe he was saying you actually ARE the other person. Only you are subjectively viewing existence and have a different individual past that we have named as our self to which we tether recollections of events as having happened to that self. But it’s only because we’ve had different experiences from one another that shape our behaviour and the way we interact and perceive the world. There’s that atheistic argument that religion is dependant on where you are born. If you’re born in the US you’re probably going to be a Christian. If you’re born in China you’ll be a Confucian or a Buddhist and if you’re Japanese you’ll probably be Shinto. Those cultural designations and expectations will colour your experience of reality.”
Lillith remained silent. Staring, unblinking, contemplating.
Matt continued: “rather than being separate and antagonistic we should recognize that while we are only experiencing the world subjectively, our consciousness is the same consciousness as any and every other person experiencing reality subjectively through their body. That’s a pretty intense idea for the whole of humanity to posses if a certain amount of subjective experiencers want to retain their individuality and their control and power over others. So what did the Pharisees do? Well they killed Jesus and then made it seem like he was a heretic. He was going up against the control, the influence, the power, and the evil that Cain’s lineage stood for. Cain’s influence as the evil force even ended up usurping the spiritual message that Jesus true followers were trying to get out. The church instead used Christianity the religion to control the masses. Not to free them with knowledge. In the Dark Ages only the clergy and noblemen could really read. Why? ‘Cause knowledge. That’s why! Those who possess knowledge possess the power to shape the perception of those who do not have that knowledge. Have you ever told a lie and you knew it was a lie but the other person you told trust you so much that they believe that you are telling them the truth. In that moment you have altered their experience of objective reality. With words, you have changed that person’s awareness of truth. You have made an illusory film that obscures the other person’s awareness of the true, objective reality. So yah, if most people can’t read, they can’t verify whether what the bishop at the front of the church is actually reading is written on the pages of the book in front of him, or whether the speech and its meaning are simply propaganda that aims to control the thoughts and actions of others for the benefit of the elite. That’s why whenever I hear something I also put the information through a prism of critical observation. Who is telling me this information? Why are they telling me this information? Could the messenger have a motive or a bias?”
Lillith continued to stare at him. She was aware now that he was emitting a subtle light that danced in the air around him. She felt a recognition of understanding in his eyes and then she felt an odd sense of deja-vu. She remembered this experience. She remembered this conversation but she remembered it through the subjective experience of Matt.


Google Glasses – Never Stop Playing – Ouroboros

Watch these two videos and then watch Ouroboros. Augmented Reality glasses … video games we can take with us anywhere … it’s only a matter of time before we start creating worlds to jack ourselves into ….. and thus: Ouroboros.

Google Augmented Reality Glasses

Playstation Vita – “Never Stop Playing”

And my short film – Ouroboros Season One

Ten Principles To Live By – Tony Schwartz

Via Fast Company

If you’re like most people I work with in companies, the demands come at you from every angle, all day long, and you have to make difficult decisions without much time to think about them. What enduring principles can you rely on to make choices that reflect openness, integrity and authenticity?

Here are ten that work for me:

1. Always challenge certainty, especially your own. When you think you’re undeniably right, ask yourself “What might I be missing here?” If we could truly figure it all out, what else would there be left to do?

2. Excellence is an unrelenting struggle, but it’s also the surest route to enduring satisfaction. Amy Chua, the over-the-top “Tiger Mother,” was right that there’s no shortcut to excellence. Getting there requires practicing deliberately, delaying gratification, and forever challenging your current comfort zone.

3. Emotions are contagious, so it pays to know what you’re feeling. Think of the best boss you ever had. How did he or she make you feel? That’s the way you want to make others feel.

4. When in doubt, ask yourself, “How would I behave here at my best?” We know instinctively what it means to do the right thing, even when we’re inclined to do the opposite. If you find it impossible, in a challenging moment, to envision how you’d behave at your best, try imagining how someone you admire would respond.

5. If you do what you love, the money may or may not follow, but you’ll love what you do. It’s magical thinking to assume you’ll be rewarded with riches for following your heart. What it will give you is a richer life. If material riches don’t follow, and you decide they’re important, there’s always time for Plan B.

6. You need less than you think you do. All your life, you’ve been led to believe that more is better, and that whatever you have isn’t enough. It’s a prescription for disappointment. Instead ask yourself this: How much of what you already have truly adds value in your life? What could you do without?

7. Accept yourself exactly as you are but never stop trying to learn and grow. One without the other just doesn’t cut it. The first, by itself, leads to complacency, the second to self-flagellation. The paradoxical trick is to embrace these opposites, using self-acceptance as an antidote to fear and as a cushion in the face of setbacks.

8. Meaning isn’t something you discover, it’s something you create, one step at a time. Meaning is derived from finding a way to express your unique skills and passion in the service of something larger than yourself. Figuring out how best to contribute is a lifelong challenge, reborn every day.

9. You can’t change what you don’t notice and not noticing won’t make it go away. Each of us has an infinite capacity for self-deception. To avoid pain, we rationalize, minimize, deny, and go numb. The antidote is the willingness to look at yourself with unsparing honesty, and to hold yourself accountable to the person you want to be.

10. When in doubt, take responsibility. It’s called being a true adult.


Reprinted from Harvard Business Review

Tony Schwartz is President and CEO of The Energy Project, a company that helps individuals and organizations fuel energy, engagement, focus, and productivity by harnessing the science of high performance. Tony’s most recent book, Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live?, is a The New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. Follow him on Twitter @TonySchwartz.

What Does English Sound Like To A Foreigner?

Via Matador Abroad

Photo by lemasney

Even if you don’t speak a word of a language, chances are you can identify it based on the sounds you hear.
GLOTTAL STOPS, LILTS, PITCH – there’s a lot more to hearing a language than just the words. Do you speak German? If not, do you know when you hear someone speaking German? Probably so.

And what about English? More than once, I’ve attempted to hear English through the ears of a non-speaker by eavesdropping on a conversation and going into an almost meditative state, focusing on the sounds and not the words. It only lasts for a few seconds at a time.

This short film, entitled “Skwerl,” gives us an idea of what English sounds like. I have to applaud these actors for managing to get through this without laughing. Their “English-ish” language seems to be a mix of actual English words and sounds in a nonsensical order. (See if you can catch “Elton John” and “make the pope cream.”)

For This iPad-Using Baby, Paper Does Not Compute

Via PC World

While adults can look back at a time when you had to go to a reference desk at a library with your questions and a cassette player was the coolest way to carry around music, the younger generation certainly cannot. This baby is absolute testament to the effect technology is having on children.

Jean Louis uploaded a video to YouTube that demonstrated how his one-year-old daughter has been shaped by the iPad. As you can see, she’s pretty slick at navigating around the tablet, but hand her a magazine and she’s almost clueless. While she can turn the pages, she tries to swipe, pinch and tap to “navigate” each sheet. Unlike the look of joy playing on dad’s iPad, she appears to be completely baffled by her magazine experience.

Jean says that he originally posted the video as Steve Jobs tribute, but as he says in the video: “For my 1 year old, a magazine is an iPad that does not work. It will remain so her whole life. Steve Jobs has coded part of her OS.”

[YouTube via Laughing Squid]

Oxford Philosopher Nick Bostrom Describes his Simulation Argument

Via Boing Boing

Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom describes his Simulation Argument on a recent episode of the excellent Philosophy Bitespodcast. He proposed the argument in 2003, and it is interesting to hear him discuss it here.

As I understand it, one of the following three statements must be true:

1. Civilizations go extinct before they are able to create advanced simulations.

2. Advanced civilizations are not interested in creating advanced simulations.

3. There are so many advanced simulations that is is far more likely that we are inside a simulation than in the physical universe.

I might be oversimplifying things here, but I think that’s the gist of it.

If we are in a simulation (and I don’t think we are) it is upsetting to imagine a cruel operator who could flip a switch and send all of the people in the simulation into agony for all eternity (using Freeman Dyson’s Eternal Intelligenceidea for extracting infinite computation during the heat death of the universe).

Listen to Nick Bostrom on the Simulation Argument

Entrepreneur Anshe Chung Makes A Fortune Selling Virtual Land, Banking and Fashion

Via Singularity Hub

How much would you pay for a piece of imaginary real estate? Anshe Chung has made millions renting it. Maybe your investment portfolio needs to include more fake property. A decade ago Ailin Graef was just another player in online games with a virtual avatar named Anshe Chung. Now the young entrepreneur’s China-based company manages online video game property worth millions in US dollars. How? In some online worlds, like Second Life, in-game currency (in this case, Linden Dollars or L$) can be sold for real money. Ailin/Anshe started making virtual money by designing and selling virtual fashion items for her fellow avatars. She leveraged that into virtual real estate investments. Today, Anshe Chung Studios has 80+ employees managing thousands of rental properties, helping design new 3D virtual chat rooms, and making tons of money on virtual to real currency exchanges. Anshe was the first person whose virtual property exceeded a real world value of 1 million dollars, and Anshe Chung Studios is perhaps the single largest third party developer of virtual property ever. Hers is a model for a new kind of online mogul: not one who makes the games, but someone who works inside the system to make a killing. Anshe Chung is a digital life mogul. Who wants to be next?

Anshe Chung is the online persona of Ailin Graef, world's first virtual millionaire and a developer of digital property.

Each online video game has its own way of handling currency. Some just give you points, some allow you to perform repetitive tasks to earn coins, and many will allow you to trade virtual goods and currency back and forth. The true goldmines (so to speak) are those games where the currency can be exchanged for real world money. Second Life allows its users to readily exchange L$ for US dollars or Euros, etc. Entropia actually sets the rate to a fixed amount. Either way it means that the activities you do in the video game can translate to an actual income. Some people, like Graef/Chung see that as an opportunity to make a fortune.

Graef started off in mid 2004 designing small scale animations/styles for virtual fashion. “Give me a few fake bucks, I’ll give you this nifty alternate design for a normally bland accessory.” (Something like that.) Anshe Chung Studios continues to make customized goods you can buy to dress your avatars in several online worlds.

Here's what 21,000 L$ (about $80) per week can get you. Not a bad island, even if it is virtual.

Once you start accruing virtual currency, however, investment opportunities outside of fashion begin to arise. In some virtual worlds, like Second Life, you can buy land to modify and develop. That’s what Graef did, and soon “Anshe Chung” was managing vast tracts of land in Second Life. And the scope of that real estate continues to expand. Today you can go to Azure Islands, some of the custom built and designed landscape built by Anshe Chung Studios, and get yourself your own parcel to rent starting at around L$ 821 or $3 USD per week. The really fancy plots go for as much as 13000 L$ a month (about $50), and the prices just keep going up from there (check out the picture to see what $80 a week will buy you). Anshe’s tenants may simply want a fancy place for their avatars to live online, or they could be more business minded. Virtual dance clubs and other meeting places can draw in good business by having the right landscape and design. It’s not just Second Life selling to Anshe Chung Studios who’s selling to users. There are many more tiers in the economy as everyone in Second Life, Entropia, IMVU and the other online worlds find places to live their virtual lives.

Online real estate is just the beginning. AnsheX is a virtual currency exchange. Do you have USD but want Linden dollars? AnsheX will sell you some. Same for Euros and PED (the currency for Entropia) or IMVU credits and Hong Kong dollars. While AnsheX rates are pretty close to the going rates, they make real world money on each purchase. Customers are willing to buy and sell at slightly disadvantageous rates because they can get the currency in 24 hours or (much) less rather than having to barter or arrange their own deals by hand.

So, you’re a fashion mogul, a real estate developer, and a banker – what’s next for your virtual empire? You might as well step behind the video game. Anshe Chung Studios is one of the major partners with a hand in Frenzoo, a social network and online chat program based in Hong Kong. Create an avatar, spend money (or time or both) dressing them just right, then go and meet other avatars and chat. Frenzoo has a pretty standard formula for success. IMVU is similar and has 50 million+ users and six million items up for sale. Catch the demo video for Frenzoo below and judge for yourself whether it has the same potential:

We’ve certainly seen people make real money on virtual property before. A single piece of territory sold for $635,000 not too long ago. What makes Ailin Graef and Anshe Chung Studios different is that their endeavors highlight the diverse paths one can take to gaining wealth by augmenting the way people play online games. The appearance of avatars, the design of locations, and the facilitation of trade are three big virtual markets and Anshe is tapping them all.

Talk about expanding markets - did we mention that many of these virtual worlds, like Frenzoo, are going mobile?

I also marvel at the value of the secondary markets that Anshe represents. If the actual producers of these virtual spaces are the ones reaping in billions of dollars (as Blizzard is with World of Warcraft) there’s still hundreds of millions to be made as players trade not with the owners, but with each other. Most of those business deals are probably going to be small – probably for virtual property valued at less than $1, but when you multiply that by millions of items for sale and tens of millions of regular users…that’s a lot of cash. The efforts of Anshe Chung Studios exemplifies how these games constitute real economies. Er, virtual economies. Or real virtual economies – look, you get the idea, these games are real revenue generators. Graef accrued a million dollars worth of online wealth way back in 2006. Others have followed and it looks like the future could support a wave of new VR moguls who build their riches on nothing but digital living.

Which isn’t to say it isn’t all some elaborate bubble. After all, when you buy Linden dollars, or an island paradise, or a new broach for your avatar you aren’t owning anything physical. Some day the entire affair could come crashing down. Imagine if people suddenly lose interest in a simulated environment because a new and better one arrives. Your investments could turn out to be worthless.

The same could be said of any investment on Earth.

Take a good long look at the multi-tiered empire Anshe Chung has built, and think of all the people it took playing those games to help her build her fortune. Those millions of players represent a growing part of our population. As online living continues to gain ground, the virtual economies (however temporarily) will thrive as well. There’s money to be made in those digital hills. Ailin Graef was the first virtual millionaire. The first billionaire could be right around the corner.

[image credits: Anshe Chung Studios]

[sources: Anshe Chung Studios]