What to write about? That’s a frequent question. I enjoy writing, or at least seem to have some skill at it. Usually, an idea comes through my mind and I just write. It is nice when someone reads it and finds it helpful, a double bonus, but one lesson for a writer is that the reader may not be readily available, yet. My head aches with ideas, and possibly bad ergonomics. Many of the ideas are not resolved, hence no dedicated post; so, I’ll list them and see if any resonate with anyone.
Russia and Ukraine
Two nations are war, one of which will be relieved to survive. Uh. Which one is that? Russia’s goals have cost so much that the country’s long-term viability is uncertain. Will it go out with a bag, or limp along with a whiny whimper, or somehow claim success despite losing tens of thousands of lives, credibility, and lots of hardware? If Ukraine manages to regain Crimea and all the occupied territories, their success will be tempered by the years and billions that will be required to rebuild the country. Getting refugees to return will be difficult until there are new buildings and infrastructure.
But that’s not all, as the news mentioned China/Taiwan, North Korea/South Korea, and fresh violence in several countries I’d have to look up even if I recognize their name. How much instability can we accommodate? How many of the conflicts will amplify into greater wars? Large countries are obviously worth watching; but small countries can hold key, rare materials that enable the world’s technology. Disruption reaches beyond borders.
Artificial Intelligence is advancing at a pace similar to the projections for a Digital Singularity. Oops and uh oh. Or. Finally, something with intelligence, regardless of the source or its motivations.
News outlets thought AI was fun to report about – but it seems that they have become aware that their jobs may be some of the first to be threatened. AI will continue to advance. It may not reach the level of consciousness, but that may not matter. Jobs are simultaneously being given to AIs and created for humans, not necessarily the unemployed being re-employed.
AI doesn’t have to reach consciousness. Already there are bots having relationships with people. The little-discussed sibling is AE, Artificial Emotion. Humans are experiencing loneliness to such a level that the health consequences are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. AEs may not help you get your work done; but they may help at the end of a stressful day. And, of course, emotional support can extend to emotional connections – no human required. They may also be better at convincing you to do something, anything.
IF AI does reach consciousness then we may not be able to keep up as change will accelerate over today’s already accelerated rate of change. At that point, we may want to wish it well as it evolves beyond influencing humans and begins chasing its further development. (Stop writing before falling into that infinitely deep rabbit hole of scenarios.)
I should probably repeat my political philosophy: I am an extreme independent moderate. I think there is value in knowing and somewhat understanding the extremes; but I am adamant that the only way we are going to make significant progress is by moving the middle, not the edges. And neither of the US’ duopoly impress me with their skill.
But, what I am aware of is the changes inherent in various cases of corruption, ignorance, and criminal acts. We’re witnessing the public’s awareness of these issues because the internet makes them easier to learn about, and public reactions are leading to actions – even though they don’t agree. In the meantime, society will shift. Whether it shifts because it acts or shifts because we accept those exposures as normal is something worth watching but not realistic to guess about. (But, how would you un-unite the states in the United States, or what third party could be a credible challenger, or what system of government do you prefer? Go Cascadia?)
Oh yeah, and because politics is governed by perception, how much will AI influence the elections?
Nature is changing, as always, but also in new ways. Earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis are seemingly unrelated to anything humans do; but, fracking can initiate quakes. A conjecture is that glaciers melting and creating landslides can remove the weighty plug that keep some volcanoes contained. Tsunamis may not have a human-made trigger that I know about, but millions of people live with that threat and can’t do anything about it because they, their government, or both are too poor. That reminds me that climate change is also changing. Now that climate change is making itself apparent, we’re also more aware that its change is accelerating. Oh yeah, and remember the other population that is at risk and possibly unable to do anything about it, people in wildfire zones.
My Personal Finances – Stocks
While it is a regular exercise, I must plan time to create my semi-annual portfolio review. This is June (June? How did that get here?) It is time for me to analyse each of them, write it up, share it around, and tend to the conversations I start. There might even be a video.
This is 2023, which could be treated like any year; but I get the impression that pandemic-related delays are being processed. Three of my stocks are expected to release very good news by the end of this year. That’s any time between now and December 31, 2023. If true, my personal finances may change enough to change my life. Managing a life is the ultimate personal responsibility. Managing the ‘greater good’ is the second step; except for martyrs. First things first.
My Personal Finances – Job
My job is changing everything from the way I spend my time, eat, work, exercise, socialize, and try to maintain my health – maybe even improve it. There’s no need for great and grand projections. I’m 64. I’m not building a career; I’m just trying to do a good job. The topics mentioned above are more significant for the world, but each of us has to maintain our individual lives. Life maintenance takes time, and spending limited and critical resources deserves lots of thoughts and actions – or inactions as required.
Thanks to the job I am paying unpaid bills, looking forward to paying off debts, and un-deferring deferred chores. The greatest luxury has been not worrying as much about the grocery bill, even at these prices.
I never thought I’d write something like this but, ‘My art is my refuge.’ Writing and photography have yet to pay bills enough to turn into a viable business, thought I am hopeful. In the meantime, I continue them because they are time spent on something I enjoy, have at least some skill at, that could benefit someone, and could benefit me. Images and ideas that I produce have generated Likes and Shares and personal compliments that encourage me to continue for the sake of others.
My art work benefits me. The camera allows me to ignore the rest of the world for a moment. Writing allows me to express myself (without being interrupted), and to imagine better worlds here, and other possibilities out there.
(Artist would chastise me if I didn’t include a plug or two: photos, photo books, books.)
That’s a bit of what my mind is juggling. This is the time to be aware of changes. Those changes are changing. The biggest ones have gone from conjectures to current events. They don’t all intertwine, but enough of them do that I pay attention as I adjust my plans, financial as well as social and existential.
They are topics that may take decades, years, months, weeks, day, or less to resolve. I think my mind will be busy. Maybe I should go sit on the deck for a while.