Marolt: Bad stuff happens, but humankind endures
November 1, 2018
I was talking with friends the other day and they said something surprising. They were worried that computers are taking over the world. It was surprising, because the last time I spoke with them, they seemed perfectly sane. I chuckled and they didn't, so I knew I was in trouble.
I corrected them. "You mean some nasty people are going to take over the world using computers, right?"
Oh no, that is not what they meant. They explained that, with artificial intelligence getting more advanced, eventually computers are going to figure out how to program themselves with rational thought processes so that they can raid our bank accounts and take over the world.
I tried humor. "Why would a computer want my money? Is it going to teach itself how to drive a Ferrari or enjoy beachfront property in Malibu? Not that they could get enough out of my checking account to do either."
They were silent for only a moment. It was power that the computers craved, they explained. The machines would take over the planet simply for the challenge of it.
"Couldn't we unplug them?" I asked.
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To this they explained that, once the machines control The Blockchain, we can no longer stop them by cutting the power. Apparently, we would have to cut power to the entire planet, which isn't practical since some people rely on iron lungs to breathe.
I couldn't convince them that there is nothing to worry about here, so I capitulated as cynically as possible. "So, the machines don't want money. Because they are super smart, they want Bitcoin!" I said. "Now it all makes sense!"
I used to think smoking marijuana was the leading cause of paranoia. That'll show you what basing conclusions on observing a small sample of ski bums and extrapolating the results to the masses will get you. I am now pretty sure the culprit is age. This is mostly based on me observing myself.
When age fails to bring wisdom, fear is there to fill the void.
Remember when you were young and feared almost nothing? That was because we hadn't seen much really bad stuff going on around us yet. The stuff that did happen, we missed a lot of because we were so self-absorbed. We healed incredibly quickly, both physically and, seemingly, emotionally. What we noticed of life was darn good, especially relatively speaking while looking in the rearview mirror to see if time was still gaining on us.
Now start sprinting toward the future, then jog, walk when that gets hard, and now limp, because that is the most comfortable way to get around anymore. A lot of bad stuff has happened. We and our friends get sick more often and lots of times with more serious things. We know way more people who have died. You used to be able to keep track of them. Problems mount over the years and seem to come more frequently. We have many more responsibilities. Eventually we notice there is a lot of stuff to be afraid of; so much, in fact, that we can't even put our minds around all of it. This is the point when we basically become afraid of living.
You know you have hit rock bottom in the pit of fear when you start overanalyzing other people's misfortune. You talk about it. You come up with theories as to why it happened. You place blame. You become driven to find answers to the causes of all calamities, convinced that knowing how, what, where and why these things happen give you the knowledge to prevent them.
Not once in this futile process do you stop to remind yourself that mankind has been going through the same exercise collectively for the past 6 million years and bad stuff is still happening. All the hand-wringing and over-analysis doesn't work! Stuff happens, lots of times we don't know why.
I thought all this driving back and forth to Grand Junction alone the other day. Did it cause me to be an inattentive driver? Probably. Just another thing to worry about.
Fortunately, everything changed when my smiling wife and jinglingly happy dog met me at the door. The sight of them and a recounting of the news of the day that included words from the kids who were all well and happy changed my perspective. For every bad thing that happens, there is human resiliency of unequal and opposite force that moves us forward. Tragedy makes us stronger and brings us tightly together in unfathomable ways. We are better for the struggles, wiser for the sadness, sturdier together. Rocks hit bottom, love soars infinitely.
Roger Marolt was encouraged by his drive to Grand Junction. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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