Saphier Regina: Napos Éjjelek: Tesla PowerWall

Saphier Regina: Napos Éjjelek: Tesla PowerWall

Elon Musk Tesla PowerWallKöszönöm Elon Musk-nak, hogy lehetőséget biztosít a magyar állampolgároknak, hogy a közgazdaság síkján utasíthassák el az újonnan tervezett Orosz Nukleáris Erőművet, melyet az idióta magyar kormány csillagászati orosz kölcsön összegekből tervez felépíttetni, miközben a magyarok tömegeinek nincs munkája…

Amikor a politikai síkon, választásokkal nem lehetett megakadályozni a nukleáris erőmű tervének megszavazását, és amikor az EU impotens az elképzelés lenullázásához, akkor számíthatunk arra, hogy Elon Musk sorsfordító bejelentést tesz, és szinte minden egyénnek valamennyi lelki erőt, extra társadalmi befolyást, gazdasági szavazó erőt és gazdaságosan tárolható napenergiát ajánl! Erőt és lehetőséget a változtatáshoz… elérhető energiát a háztartásoknak, intézményeknek és vállalkozásoknak… Így a piaci verseny erejével lehet leszavazni a kormány gátlástalan butaságát.

A Tesla új, elérhető és hatékony háztartási és ipari napenergia tárolási technológiája máris olyan valami, amit még a magyar középosztály is hamarosan megengedhet magának, ráadásul állami támogatás nélkül. Nehogy azt várja valaki ettől a kormánytól, hogy majd értelmes dolgokat támogat! Ugyebár az értelmes az lenne, ha azonnal lemondanák az Orosz Atomerőmű megrendelést, és elkezdenének egy hazai Tesla PowerPack hálózaton, egy lakossági Tesla PowerWall támogatási projekten, vagy akár egy Tesla Gigafactory felépítésén gondolkodni… de ez eszükbe sem jut…

Képzeljünk el új házakat építő családokat, akik majd napelemeket és Tesla PowerWall-t vásárolnak, és a központi hálózatra rá sem kötik a házaikat (eljön a nap, amikor senkit sem lehet majd arra kötelezni az EU-ban, hogy a nagy semmire szereltessen fel villanyórát az állami szolgáltató kegyéből), hanem hálózatfüggetlen módon termelnek, tárolnak és használnak napenergiát (és általában megújuló energiát). (Óra akkor kelljen, ha egy magánszemély áram többlettel rendelkezik és el akarja adni az államnak.) Nem kell majd leszerződni egy szolgáltatóval, amelyik lényegesen drágább és környezetszennyezőbb, nukleáris alapú áramot vagy pl. földgázt árul.

A PowerWall-t a Tesla nyártól szállítja, de már most megrendelhető online… Természetesen az EUs piacon még fel kellene építeni egy-két Tesla Gigafactory-t… hogy igazán gazdaságos legyen a gyártás és a szállítás. Mindenképpen okos befektetés lesz családi házakba Tesla PowerWall-t, vagy pl. önkormányzatok részére PowerPack-et vásárolni (a budapesti II. kerületet kiszolgálná egy darab Tesla PowerPack, ha a kerület építene egy megfelelő méretű nap-farmot).

A Tesla féle elemek ipari verziója (a PowerPack) kisvállalkozások vagy pl. helyi energia szolgáltatók és helyi önkormányzatok számára teszi lehetővé a gazdaságos napenergia termelést, tárolást és szolgáltatást (éjjel és nappal egyaránt), pl. a kisebb gazdasági erejű kliensek körében (ha valaki nem tud saját PowerWall-t vagy PowerPack-et vásárolni). Hosszan sorolhatnám, hogy mitől lenne jó már elkészült otthonokba és létező intézményekbe is beépíteni… tisztább lenne a levegő… hiszen a lakások (gázzal, atomenergia alapú elektromossággal vagy fával történő) általában drága fűtése az egyik leginkább környezetszennyező tevékenység… ahogy a felrobbanó vagy lángoló atomreaktor és folyton halmozódó radioaktív hulladék sem használ senkinek… És mi lenne, ha végre minden légkondicionáló, éjjel-nappal olcsó napenergiával működne?

Nagyon támogatom a Tesla PowerWall-t és PowerPack-et! A titkos álmom, hogy Elon Musk lesz Magyarország kormányfője… vagy legalább egy hozzá hasonlóan intelligens és tehetséges ember. Akkor nem lehetne gátat szabni a fejlődésnek!

És a slusszpoén: 2 milliárd darab PowerPack képes lenne az emberiség minden energia szükségletét megújuló erőforrásokból begyűjteni, tárolni és ellátni (főleg napenergiából), és mindez 1-2 évtized alatt megvalósítható lenne. Ráadásul a Tesla rendelkezik egy “gyár méretű termékkel”, avagy: Tesla Gigafactory-t vegyenek! (Természetesen a gyár is megújuló energiával működik, mely energiát Tesla PowerPack-eken tárolják.)

A PowerWall 3000 – 3500 dollárért rendelhető. Vagyis a napenergia tárolás most lett hatékony és elérhető. Itthon ez egy átlagos családi ház hálózatfüggetlen energia ellátása esetén cirka 2 millió forintos befektetést jelent, ha hozzáadjuk a PowerWall árához a napcellák, a konverterek, a tervezés és a szerelés költségeit… Megtérül, függetlenné tesz és környezetkímélő… ráadásul még szép is és kis helyen, a falra szerelve elfér.

 

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Regina Saphier: Sunny Nights: Tesla PowerWall

Regina Saphier: Sunny Nights: Tesla PowerWall

 

Elon Musk Tesla PowerWallThank you Elon Musk for giving Hungarian citizens a possibility to economically refuse the planned new Russian Nuclear Power Plant that the idiotic Hungarian government is planning to build in Hungary for exorbitant amounts of borrowed money (borrowed from the Russians of course… while people have no jobs…).

When a political election did not stop the nuclear power plant idea (it did not), when the EU is impotent to stop it (it is), you can always count on Elon Musk​ to do something that changes the game and gives even individuals power in every sense of the word!

TESLA’s home (and industrial) solar energy storage technology is already something that the middle class could afford even in Hungary and without government subsidies. (Because never expect this government to support something that makes sense… in present and in future tense.) Imagine people building new homes, purchasing solar panels, a TESLA POWERWALL, and living off the grid from the first day in their new houses… no need to have a contract with a utility company that provides more expensive, nuclear power based electricity or “natural” gas… It is a smart investment economically and ecologically to spend money on a PowerWall (eg.: at home) or on a PowerPack (let’s say, by the II. district in Budapest).

These batteries (their industrial versions) will also enable small and local energy businesses, even local governments to provide extremely affordable day and night Solar based electricity to financially less powerful clients. And I could go on and on about how it is a good idea to build this technology into existing homes and institutions as well… And we would have cleaner air as well… because heating homes with fossil fuels is one of the major sources of pollution… as are exploding and burning nuclear power plants… And how about finally running air conditioners with Solar energy (day and night).

I am for the TESLA POWERWALL. I support the TESLA POWERPACK! My secret dream: Elon Musk for Hungarian president… or at least a similarly intelligent and talented person. Game change: on!

And the punchline: 2 billion PowerPacks could make the entire world 100% Solar and renewable powered within a decade or two, and Tesla has a factory sized product for this: The TESLA GIGAFACTORY (that is obviously powered by renewable energy and Tesla PowerPacks).

 


Regina Saphier: Writing, Inner Speech & The Borg

Regina Saphier: Writing, Inner Speech & The Borg

The adventures of our inner voices… in the age of artificial intelligence, direct brain communications and global online networks…

Seven of Nine (Annika Hansen) in Star Trek: Voyager (played by Jeri Ryan) image: fanpop.com

Seven of Nine (Annika Hansen) in Star Trek: Voyager (played by Jeri Ryan) image: fanpop.com

I swear I thought I am going to write about writing as a manifestation of my inner voice (silent thought processes that only you are aware of and only you can work with… until you write things down, speak them out loud or get them out of your mind in some other way with technology… no I am not joking), but I ended up in a completely different direction… this is why I write, to explore what is in there and what is out there and what is in between…

Writing is listening to my inner voice/speech (in a healthy way)… to my own thinking… It is a manifestation of my reflective capacity, my consciousness… and reading is listening to someone else’s inner stream of ideas (alongside your’s)… If you don’t realize that you do this, pay attention to yourself more. Just as many people are not aware of their inner imagery when reading a novel for example, the same way many people don’t know that they are running a narrative of their own reality in their heads… It is “on” so much so that only people well trained in meditation are able to turn off the inner voice, the inner speech, the random ideas, feelings and reactions… and there are mindful people attempting to guide and manage the inner speech and voice… to use it efficiently, even creatively (like me) and not let their inner processes ruin their experiences. Introverts are more in tune with this inner world.

Radio, Skype, Intimacy

I love the radio show: This American Life. I love many of the stories people tell or read on that show. Some are fiction, some are nonfiction. I think it is one of the best radio shows in the world. I always loved radio done by people who truly love to listen and tell stories.

I just noticed that a “voice only” skype chat with a friend and listening to “This American Life” stories on my computer or smartphone… these experiences have something in common. Perhaps it is intimacy. Films and video chats on skype never have this depth. When you see people, when you see yourself talking to someone, when you know you are being watched, when your conversation partner knows of being watched, you both remain highly self conscious (different people on a different level), even if you are old friends. When you listen to radio or to someone’s voice via skype (or via phone, if you do not have to hold onto the phone physically… remember how your hands could get tired of holding that thing… or your ears could hurt… these physical reactions keep you self aware), there is a depth of intimacy that you can never reach with the moving image and with a phone in your hand. The moving image is wonderful, but even if you put the camera right into someone’s bedroom and into their faces, the moving image can never be as intimate as hearing a person talk “only”. I am sure you can feel how overwhelming it is when some people film and photograph everything… and how calming it can be when you can just listen (listen to the other and to yourself) and relax. Of course photography is a brilliantly expressive art, and yes some images are worth a million words, but most images can never outperform a good voice chat online… and yes, I also love in person chats, of course, but those are different (due to the physical and the visual elements, it is simply harder to allocate all of your energy to the spoken layer). I love films, but I might opt for a good radio program instead.

Relying on Your Hearing Only

It is similar to blind people having unbelievable hearing, to the level of bats. When you “only” listen to someone, you become an emotional bat, navigating blindly in an emotional cave and relying on your listening skills and instincts. I believe this is a good way to improve your intuitive capacity. You don’t see with your eyes, you see with your mind’s other “eyes” and you go very deep, really fast, if you like. Your brain suddenly reaches a deeper level of listening and closeness.

This is similar to people sitting in completely dark rooms… they become highly intimate even with strangers (there is also less material for judgement… you are more able to feel close to another human being…). It is almost meditative when you listen deeply. Effectively, you can become a better listener if you only listen to people via skype and via radio. It is interesting to experience different modalities.

Inner Radio

I just realized, when I am writing, I am turning my inner radio on… I start listening to what I am thinking closely and I make it visible on my computer screen (would be nice to skip this part, the typing and the reading by making the process more direct). I ask myself questions without asking… the questioning of the self and the excavation of thinking processes and opinions are embedded in the process of writing. Writing is not typing. Writing is listening to myself and mapping how I am relating to the world. During writing your limited consciousness stops being a small mental container and turns into a portal for your deep mind… and the deep mind of sophisticated internet users is different from the mind of unconnected individuals who are not mindful. In the distant past when people were listening to their own inner narratives they had no real time options to see how that inner narrative related to other people’s deep mind and to facts.

Reading as Listening

Reading is listening too. Because after I posted this blog note, you started to read it (most likely) silently. I effectively speak to you silently… it is like asynchronous telepathy… you are listening to my inner voice in your head with some delay. When you start thinking about my ideas in your head, you virtually engage in a silent conversation with me. I only know it when you write back, or speak to me, but even if you do not, the conversation happens, even if “only” in your head (you will respond and resonate even if you do not write to me). Every person reading this blog conducts a secret parallel conversation with me in a hidden dimension of our universe. I believe that writers are essentially and primarily skilled inner conversationalist, explorers and listeners. Writers are even able to converse with people in the distant future (and with people in the past, when reading). I am writing for my own pleasure, to see what I think, but still, thank you for the conversation, now that you let me enter your mind with my inner voice and speech. It is my inner narrative that will survive as long as my writing is being read (or absorbed in some other way in the future).

The Future of Inner Speech and Mental Transfer

Perhaps one day people will no longer speak nor write to one another but simply use “technological telepathy” (just made this terminology up, because I know that the basic technology is already a reality in this area) to transfer this inner voice directly from mind to mind or from mind to computer (just like mental images are now recognized and reproduced by dedicated technology). It will be just as simple as leaving a message on an answering machine, or even easier. However, when I look at the difference in precision, I am thinking: how are we going to be able to be as precise and as nuanced as in writing? Are we going to think our ideas into a file and edit them by thinking about our thoughts? Isn’t it interesting to think about this? And when uploading our entire mind on a computer, are we going to edit out the personally embarrassing bits? And what are we to do with criminal minds?

Are we going to get help from AI to take our inner narrative to the next level? Will an AI companion read our minds to help us know what we think? Will an AI help us learn the things we need to know about the world and ourselves silently? Is it possible that we are becoming The Borg… a community of minds directly connected? Everyone hearing everyone else… Are we to become one mind? How are we to remain individuals in such a network? How are we to protect our minds from other people’s evil thoughts and destructive inner speech? Who is going to be in control of our minds?

Video: The AI based holographic Doctor teaching a former Borg, called Seven of Nine (a human being rediscovering her humanity lost during her childhood) on the show Star Trek: Voyager

Futurist Zoltan Istvan‘s transhumanist dream (and he is not alone with this dream) to upload his mind might just be the only reality for people in a machine age of constant learning, collective knowledge, the internet, robotics, space exploration and AI. But that won’t solve his fear of death, because he will still be gone one day… His knowledge, personality, and inner speech will melt into the collective. Humanity as The Borg…? “Seven of Nine”… “One of Seven Billion” today… But just how valuable will our minds be when AI systems will become more knowledgeable and more creative than people? Only we care about our ephemeral minds… Would you like your brain to be placed in an individual robot? Perhaps many people would be ok with that… Is your identity related to your body or your mind or both? Are YOU a mental process? Will our fear of death be replaced by the feeling of being intellectually and creatively obsolete when AI technologies become smarter and unfollowable for a human individual and even for humanity as a whole?

See? This is what I end up with today when I am thinking about writing as inner speech, a special way of self expression and listening. Our inner monologues will be highly and directly interconnected dialogues or group conversations in the future and that is probably an understatement of how our communications will be unrecognizable… and yet it will be natural even with technology, because our brains have the capacity to adapt. Writing and the spoken word might become obsolete sooner than we think. This will be the age of really big and fast understanding of unimaginably big “data”.

My facial expression exactly when I was done with this blog post! image: fanpop.com

My facial expression exactly when I was done with this blog post! image: fanpop.com

Articles I read mostly while I wrote the above post:

Telepathy is now a thing thanks to technology
http://www.seriouswonder.com/telepathy-now-thing-thanks-technology

Brain decoder can eavesdrop on your inner voice
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22429934.000-brain-decoder-can-eavesdrop-on-your-inner-voice.html

Artificial Intelligence Outperforms Average High School Senior
http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/11/04/artificial-intelligence-outperforms-average-japanese-high-school-senior

Direct Brain Communication Between Humans Study Replicated
http://neurosciencenews.com/neurotechnology-brain-communication-neuroscience-1492

Controlling Genes with Your Thoughts: New System Regulates Gene Expression
http://www.scienceworldreport.com/articles/18813/20141112/controlling-genes-thoughts-new-system-regulates-gene-expression.htm

These People Want To Use The Internet To Live Forever
http://www.businessinsider.com/jamie-bartlett-on-transhumanism-2014-11


Regina Saphier: Corrupt Dictatorships Kidnap Societies

Regina Saphier: Corrupt Dictatorships Kidnap Societies

Political Systems Are Able to Powerfully Distort Behavior Using the Channels of Peer Pressure and Social Networks: A quick look at corrupt dictatorial socialism, democratic socialism, liberal capitalism… “good” societies… “bad” societies… and my memories of Hungary before 1989…

 

Good societies... Bad societies... (virtualhumanism.wordpress.com)

 

Stigmatizing Swedes in the US?

The more twenty something Swedish liberals are exposed to a social democracy during childhood the worse their journalistic superficiality when reporting a highly sensitive social topic in a major international magazine while studying in the US?

A fresh study from “The DHYB Institute” * revealed that young liberal democratic Swedish men, especially Columbia graduates interning at The Economist while studying at Harvard are highly likely to write one dimensional and superficial articles. *Note: “The Don’t Hold Your Breath Institute” does not exist, I just made it up to be able to hold up a mirror in front of Simon Hedlin Larsson, Marjorie Deane Intern at The Economist who wrote this unbelievably short, superficial and damaging article about Dan Ariely’s research involving Germans, a dice game and very little amounts of money (note that the word “dice” is still misspelled in the original article, because the editors could not care less… rest assured that valid and constructive criticism is also very unlikely to impact them…):

The Economist
Economics and ethics
Simon Hedlin Larsson: Lying commies
“The more people are exposed to socialism, the worse they behave”
“The authors found that, on average, those who had East German roots cheated twice as much as those who had grown up in West Germany under capitalism.”

When in Rome, do as the Romans do? Are you sure? How did I perceive my own childhood before 1989 in Hungary? How do I perceive the Hungarian society today?

It is not easy for me to write about my experiences under communism, but not for the reasons you would assume. My story is highly atypical, but I feel I need to tell you where I am coming from in every sense of the word. I grew up in Hungary, in Budapest, but I also spent a lot of time in western countries since my childhood (mostly on my own, not with my family and mostly after 1989). A major social conflict I had to endure in Hungary (after I returned in 2002) was that people not only could not put up with my straightforward style, but simply called me an idiot for not participating in the local social cheating games. It is like not eating monkeys in a rainforest when visiting a tribe (that knows everything about monkey eating there is to know). You appear a loser to them, because it is survival that matters to these people and your best qualities mostly don’t mean a thing in their milieu. So, I have my insider experience with “the social jungle” in “Eastern” Europe, and it is not a fun one (not only because I am an eternal outsider in my own motherland, but also because I have never been a big fan of peer pressure and empty goals… plus, I keep having my own opinion and I even dare to voice it).

Surely you would like me to give you an example…

Note: If you don’t want to spend time reading about my childhood memories, skip the next part and scroll down ten paragraphs all the way under this title: “Now back to the article in The Economist

When I renovated my apartment in Budapest several years ago, it was torture. The main contractor (who came highly recommended by some locals) was surprised when I asked him to sign a contract. I know! How shocking that I would ask for a contract! Right? He brought smoking, drinking, uneducated workers lacking the basic ability to read an architectural drawing (I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, and I am able to read architectural blueprints… so, I am the misfit here… obviously). There were idiots wanting to (secretly) run the electrical wires so that they would cross one another in the wall in a totally irregular and unpredictable way (less wire, more money stays with the contractor)… and they were surprised to learn that this would be life threatening and that doing this was also dishonest. And this is not unusual here (… but wait, is it not possible that this could happen anywhere in the world…? well, in fact it could…).

Also, to the half dozen other contractors’ dismay I asked for invoices when handing over money. People here mostly don’t ask for invoices when renovating their homes. But the most shocking development to them was that a woman would fire them without payment if the work was unacceptable… or when I noticed their dishonesty. That was unusual to them. These people still think that something was wrong with me. Here are my mistakes again: I did not want the workers to smoke and drink in my apartment, I wanted electrical wires to run safely in the wall, I wanted the workers to be able to read blueprints, I wanted contracts, I wanted quality, and I wanted invoices. How horrible of me. I am sure you get the picture. This is the local culture and this happened in the capital, in one of the best districts. These same people would probably be more educated, more intelligent, more diligent, more precise, more respectful, better regulated and managed in Sweden. While personally this was a very painful experience, I am able to see that these people were not born to be evil or stupid, and I know for a fact that it wasn’t socialism that distorted them… the problem is so much more complicated. Socialism was legally over in 1989… yet the social structure and the culture did not become healthier.

When I think of my childhood I don’t remember socialism and I also don’t remember communism…

My mother was in an unlikely position in those days, because she was a homemaker. My father opted for collecting antiques and independence (collecting art is not exactly a group activity you know), instead of an office job (or instead of anything involving superiors). Therefore I didn’t know a thing about people in offices and in factories. The only place that I knew before 1989 was the school system (beyond our home). My parents found ways for themselves to remain outside the system (as much as possible), while letting me endure the school system alone, because there were no other options (at least not to their knowledge). My mother loved school and summer camps as a child, but as an adult she did not mingle much. I was a girl and so I was expected to be girly, to be social and to love school.

I hated my schools in Hungary (in fact as soon as I could I registered as a private student at my high school in 1989 and moved to Austria for a school year on my own to learn German, to go to school in Graz and to work as a nanny… I was only 17), and I never went to summer camps. I’m more like my father, disliking formal schooling… he by the way never set foot in any of my schools in Hungary (he hated schools very much… I did not know that until much later) and he never really noticed how much I suffered from the formal school system (while girls are expected to put up with unbearable things, boys usually stop adjusting and quit… one of the double standards of societies)… We all loved to learn about things that were interesting to us.

At the same time I’m lucky that my parents let me move to Graz alone at a very young age to assume my own responsibilities and explore the world. This was very unusual 25 years ago in Hungary, to complete four years of high school in three years (I had to pass a series of private exams at the end of the third high school year to be able to join my former class for the final year), while also working during the third year, plus going to a vocational school and learning a new language in Graz, Austria. I had the chance to shape my own learning. I wish I had mentors, but no guidance system was in place for my kind of people. All this in fact could have happened to me in the US. I am sure you see that most of my story fits both socialism, democracy and capitalism. Non-conformists struggle with the system everywhere.

What I remember from my childhood in Hungary is that nobody was supposed to speak freely on the phone and people were standing in line for bananas and oranges. We could not travel freely. News and knowledge from the West did not really make it to Hungary. I don’t recall it as a system that shared its goods with me (no redistribution). I remember that during a class reunion (when I was already in my thirties) some of my high school teachers told us stories how they smuggled things across the border (from Austria). I also remember how in high school the old school, conservative teachers and the young, progressive, reformist teachers were yelling at each other. I always knew that I was an outcast in those schools, I just did not know: why? I didn’t yet know just how different my family was… while others grew up with cheap retro furniture and uniformity (everyone had the same kind of cupboards, chairs and tables), I remember antiques, colors, textures and diversity. While many families had no books or a few books, we had lots of books. This is how I remember the times before 1989… I remember the feeling of not really belonging to any social group. Meanwhile, I was surrounded by a society that either really enjoyed camaraderie (those were often either naive, or privileged ones, or people coming from a poor background) or at least diligently pretended to enjoy the system. I understand that most people did not have choices. People were locked into a bizarre, paranoid and isolated society.

As a child I was not aware of much. We lived in a small family bubble. What made me aware was the social and political transition and my own, independent travels beyond Hungary. It was during my teenage years that I found myself suddenly being one of the delegates of a school protest in Hungary when the director fabricated a reason to eliminate the best professor, a liberal history teacher (this was after I returned from Austria). Until that day (right before our high school leaving exams) nobody mentioned that I might be a courageous leader (and little did I care about the risks: high school exams in year four were important parts of the university application process and university entry was artificially limited to a small number of people). I felt that I should be able to stand up for what I believe in without being afraid. This in fact is a very democratic value and I didn’t pick it up in school, that is for sure.

Blissful ignorance

I think one reason for not knowing a thing about my leadership qualities was that I was wholehearted, independent, introverted (with some extroverted qualities that I picked up from my parents) and never subscribed to peer pressure… So, nobody in those days risked to tell me how to become a leader. I lived with the assumption that everyone should be able to think for themselves (it turns out, most people don’t really like to think or lead, most people like to mindlessly follow… but for some reason I think this is changing as more and more people have the opportunity and the ability to learn online). I never came across any acceptable role models either. I did not perceive my teachers as role models to be followed at all. I felt most of them were rather troubled people. Ever since I recognized my own intellectual and leadership qualities I also started to consciously observe and analyze people and their “group think” tendencies. The more I experienced in life, the more I observed the human rituals of leading, following, marriage, religion and politics, the more bizarre human behavior appeared to me. People, I realized, build surreally firm social structures even out of thin air to eliminate their suspicion that life is short and that they are not really important in the universe. People construct importance, positions, ranks, hierarchies and dictatorships, even now that they are able to learn almost anything online for free, can use tools that are a bit more complicated than a stone, should be able to think for themselves and are no longer monkeys on trees. But I know that positive change is also constructed out of “nothing”… because we imagine things and try to realize those ideals. We are an interesting species in the universe. I wish we used our mental powers to create healthy societies that respect people in groups and individually.

Hidden layers that I did not know about at the time, only came to see them later

At my schools, kids with influential parents, who liked to party and went to “elite” summer camps (so much about being equal under communism) were very likely to end up in leadership positions later. The ones willing to serve their groups mindlessly got nurtured, included, rewarded and promoted, especially the extroverted ones. Only decades later did I realize that classes that kids were grouped into by school officials (when kids first entered school) were very often selective based on their parental backgrounds. I can tell you, I have never been in class A in school, because my parents were not in the communist party, were outside of the top ranking leader range and held no offices (nobody in my immediate family held any public or “business related” offices). Those who enjoyed the last decades of the softened socialist dictatorship in Hungary were the ones closest to the fire, receiving the most benefits. If you adjusted, you were fine. If you did not adjust, you had to face a lot of problems and you often encountered invisible roadblocks. The most privileged of the system change era are now the “leaders” of Hungary, no matter what party they are part of. Needless to say: I am still not a party member and will never be one. I hope I managed to show you that I’m not a beneficiary of the past system and I have my critical opinion of this particular society. I also feel that my non-conformist tendencies and my unusual family bubble prevented me from being mentally “kidnapped” by the corrupt socialist dictatorship that surrounded us.

Now back to the article in The Economist

In my informed opinion, the way Simon Hedlin Larsson reported the Ariely research in The Economist is dangerously simplistic and even the original researchers came up with the wrong conclusion in their infinite “wisdom”, because it is not socialism on its own that causes people to cheat, rather it is corrupt socialist dictatorships pretending to be communist that distort people for generations (unless something provides protection, like an unusual family and personality in my case). Also, just one question: Have you done some thinking how likely the capitalists were to do amoral things in former “communist” states? (Perhaps at least twice as likely?) No matter what hypocritical “western” business schools like to teach about avoiding corruption in corrupt markets (I suspect that is impossible to avoid in international business).

While I embraced the system change (I went as far as graduating from Columbia University in New York in 2002), it is hard to ignore the fact that there were no homeless people in the district where I grew up in Budapest before 1989, and now homeless people are part of the landscape. This tragic phenomenon, as well as drug abuse (beyond rampant alcoholism), joblessness, anorexia, morbid obesity, body image issues on a large scale, overt racism, violent crimes, and so on arrived with “morally superior” capitalism. The negative results of “super” morals and attitudes of capitalism: objectified life goals, masses of homeless and jobless outcasts, stress, anxiety and existential fear among the masses. Starved and/or threatened people with limited means were centrally “slenderized” under the dictators of “communism”, and full employment was just a way of storing people in buildings (to stop loitering) while increasing the national debt (to keep up appearances of a “functional communist society”), so people mostly only traded the causes of stress when going from “communism” to “capitalism”… a healthy social structure never followed.

When you combine socialism and democracy, you get Sweden, and I don’t think that people in Sweden are more likely to cheat (I know that Sweden is also a capitalist market economy, but redistribution in Sweden and in the US cannot be compared). Only when you combine socialism and corrupt dictatorships will you get the cheating behavior of East Germans as reported by Ariely and his team. Socialism without corrupt dictatorship does not necessarily distort behavior. Both the researchers and the interning journalist failed to make, explore and emphasize this important distinction. The hidden agenda of the young and politically active journalist is that he hates socialism in Sweden, but he is afraid to say so publicly. He thinks socialism in Sweden makes “undeserving” people dishonest, so he opted for psychological, historical and geographical transference. I am only theorizing here, but might just be right.

Meanwhile in Hungary… today…

Right now the biggest problem of Hungarian society: the phenomenally rotten “elite”. Not only did they keep their past “morality” of “take everything that belongs to the community” (the best example from the early years of the transition is the privatisation process during the nineties… the biggest takers now have their own schools, radio stations, companies and offshore assets… left and right), but they also adopted the locally “new ethics” of capitalism: “the richer you get the better for you”. So now, here is how they think: “Let’s take everything that belongs to the community because the goal is to be rich” (and now the goods and funds include the EU resources too). These people live with the most shocking sense of entitlement, with amazing amounts of ignorance, and don’t know (or don’t want to know) that this is simply wrong. My problem: Just how do you distinguish this from the amazingly amoral and über risky behavior of the western bankers who caused this major economic crisis that the entire world suffered from (and in many places the suffering is not over yet)? We urgently need a new elite, but the members of the old “elite” are suffocating the country.

Sudden and prolonged trauma both go very deep into the psyche

Back to my issues with the above mentioned research and article. If by the end of the 1940s in New York you would have tested German jews who escaped Hitler, and at the same time American jews enjoying the safety of the US from birth, and if you did the same test with the offsprings of these people one generation later, you would have discovered that exposure to a nazi dictatorship resulted in understandable mistrust towards institutions and other people, and this probably resulted in questionable behaviors (that would not be present without the trauma). You could have discovered powerful behavioral differences. The same is true for people exposed to corrupt “communist” dictatorships. Trauma, existential fear, pathological social systems (like dictatorships and autocracies) and wars cause epigenetic changes and so: lasting personality, behavioral, cultural and social changes. The original research had more to say about the reasons and the causes (compared to the short article in The Economist). Unfortunately, the Economist article basically says something like this (I am making this up for demonstration): “Germans in 1944 were twice as likely to appear to be nazis based on a simple test compared to French people” (why not compare the two… they are neighbors in Europe… if we follow the bizarre logic of Ariely). This is how it sounds to me.

The Economist article ends like this: “The study reveals nothing about the nature of the link between socialism and dishonesty. It might be a function of the relative poverty of East Germans, for example. All the same, when it comes to ethics, a capitalist upbringing appears to trump a socialist one.” Says the privileged young journalist from social democratic Sweden who apparently did not really read the research and knows next to nothing about socialism, communism, democracy, corruption, capitalism and the possible combinations of these… he is the naive child who thinks that it is only personal effort in capitalism that makes a difference and “only the lazy never make it”… but this is a delusion. The young journalist failed to display true journalistic talent and missed an opportunity to publish a marvelously intelligent, compassionate, well researched and deeply analytical article in this area. Let us hope that he will learn and change and not let his social bubble isolate him from reality for ever.

It is easier to be honest and correct in a healthier and richer society and the devil is in the details

I wrote in one of my essays (mostly about China, but also about Hungary) in July 2013: “Dictatorships not only brainwash and isolate people, they also distort people on the cellular level for generations. That is a crime against humanity. Outsiders and even privileged insiders usually “somehow” fail to see that. Change makers in these countries are mostly regarded as strange and are powerfully hindered by the conformist masses and by the rotten status quo even after the dictators are long gone.” Regina Saphier: The United States of China (Part 2)

Simon Hedlin Larsson published his article in a major magazine. Imagine an HR pro reading that article and coming up with the sad conclusion that he or she will never hire an “East” German IT professional again because those people are “rumored to be cheaters” (rumored because not many read the original research article and the original article in fact says much more, yet still too little). The way Simon Hedlin Larsson framed this story (“Lying commies” / “The more people are exposed to socialism, the worse they behave”) fuels discrimination and stigmatization, and he failed to express basic empathy with a traumatized “group” that is as diverse as Europe and Asia combined.

The worst Neo-Nazis in Sweden might have better politically correct table manners… I’m assuming (at least these people think that they love Sweden, while the young, liberal, expat intern apparently hates socialist Sweden and is inclined to stigmatize others)… Some of the Swedish extremists are being pushed out of Sweden to fuel extremist right groups in Hungary… in a country with a very fragile social and political immune system… Plus, Hungary wasn’t so lucky financially and economically as the East Germans were… “Communist” Hungary did not have a “Capitalist” Hungary to pour money into the recovering and devastated economy after 1989… Just how “dishonest” would the average Hungarian be during Ariely’s dice game? (I know Hungary was called The Happiest Barrack… but still…) I even give you this assumption: Mr. Larsson quit Sweden because he so powerfully hates the socialist tendencies of his motherland. Mr. Larsson is a big fan of liberal capitalism, and he is probably a democrat. Telling you the truth, I dislike all of the political and social systems discussed in my blog. When I think about options like the “Unconditional Basic Income”, I am thinking about options to restore Basic Human Dignity and let people explore new avenues in their lives. (Regina Saphier: Unconditional Basic Income) I strongly believe that technological abundance, an optimal unconditional basic income, and free online learning will lead to some very important and positive social changes.

Wait! Why are West Germans still cheating in such a simple game?

In the end I ask you, and here I refer back to my example of not devouring primates in the rainforest with the tribe you are visiting: Why are “West” Germans still fond of social “monkey eating” (cheating and lying for no good reason during a meaningless game)? Mostly well adjusted human beings use white lies to keep a healthy social balance, but: Why do people with a high standard of living, high income and no recent trauma caused by a dictator still cheat on a silly game? To me, this is the real question! And this is the kind of irrational behavior that Dan Ariely truly likes to explore. Therefore the right questions are these: How come “average” people are only twice as likely to cheat after so much past suffering and readjustment stress? Is it not possible that the truly irrational behavior happens when people without recent or inherited trauma, and with optimal income still cheat during a meaningless game?

It is simply not true that the original research article does not say a thing about the reasons. On page two and in the “Discussion and Conclusion” section there is an explanation saying that there was extensive scarcity, citizens were constantly observed, followed, interrogated, and freedom of speech was not a viable survival strategy. However, for no good reason the researchers keep saying that it was socialism that resulted in distorted human behavior. Again, in my opinion this is wrong. Socialism without a corrupt dictatorship does not result in lying and cheating. If you grew up in Sweden (like Simon Hedlin Larsson did) where democratic socialism is dominant, you should know this. It is dictatorial socialism or dictatorial anything (mostly) that distorts people… but even more precisely it is corrupt dictatorships that are inherently dishonest. But have you seen how people are distorted by unregulated market economies and capitalism? I have seen the change. Both systems are powerfully distorting, dishonest, and misguided.

Let’s see: Surveyance is present in the US, scarcity is present in African countries, preference for the common good is present in Japan, utopian socialists built the Kibbutz system in Israel. Cubans and North Koreans live in two different kinds of dictatorships (Cuba is now a bit like Hungary was a few decades ago, while North Korea is a bit like former East Germany+The GULag, so N. Korea is much worse).

Look at North Korea and South Korea

There you have it: try to compare the honesty and dishonesty levels in N. and S. Korea. What does an active dictatorship do to people’s morals compared to the hyper competitive capitalist side of the same nation? You will see that those living (or having lived) in the North Korean dictatorship (and perhaps escaped… note: cheating and lying… note: to survive…!) will show a heightened level of motivation for cheating and lying (even the next generation). (Note: Forces that make South Koreans be so extremely suicidal might have some surprising impact on morals… Nothing is black and white…) The difference won’t be related to communism, nor to socialism, and not even to capitalism itself. The difference will show strong correlation with oppression, scarcity, anxiety, shame, alienation, stories of mysteriously vanished relatives and friends, forced labor camps and public executions… in other words powerful and regular stressors… and so with epigenetic changes… even changes in the microbiome… and with differential neurological development… and survival strategies observed within families and in a society. I would never judge a North Korean refugee for his or her understandable paranoia and hardly unlearnable visceral reactions. Would you? I would want to talk about this, I would want North Korean refugees to get help. Of course I would also want to know that people make conscious efforts to overcome the powerful inclination to distort the truth and/or cheat. At the same time those without the traumas need to learn what happened to traumatized people and be as compassionate as possible.

To quote my 2013 article again (Regina Saphier: The United States of China (Part 2)): “… look at citizens in Germany, so close to each other (not apart like the US and China). People in the eastern part are very different from the people in western Germany. Decades of epigenetic changes due to a long era of suffering, fear, stress, anxiety and lack of resources and lack of freedom don’t disappear from one day to the other. At least two generations have to go before people in Germany start to look similar and indistinguishable again.” I called this process in my article “PSCS”: “post-system change syndrome”. If it is easier for you, look at East Germans and North Koreans as victims of a mass kidnapping that lasted for decades. Look at them as former and present day hostages of a politically sociopathological system. Don’t be sorry for them, don’t discriminate, don’t judge, rather learn to ask: “What happened to you?” Learn to be compassionate and listen. (You might also like to read Part 1: Regina Saphier: The United States of China)

Conclusion

It was not primarily the economic context that impacted East Germans’ honesty. It was rather the corrupt political layer that impacted the culture (note: I am sure not everyone internalized this culture). If you have a political leadership that is not corrupt, you have a completely different game (Singapore is supposed to be one of the least corrupt countries with a strong economy and it does utilize elements of a dictatorial system). Composing the wrong hypothesis in this case is similar to comparing a rich kid who lives in a well to do neighborhood and a poor kid who lives in a poor neighborhood and ignoring the fact that the poor kid experienced domestic violence, as did his or her parents, while the rich kid and his or her family did not. First, I only assumed that The Economist simply permitted a young journalist to be the five year old running around with scissors in a supermarket, but while this is true, at the same time the researchers simply came up with the wrong hypothesis or the wrong conclusion, and were negligent in their analysis. Look what happens when research based on a misguided and superficially defined hypothesis ends up in the hands of a badly mentored Economist intern. (Who financed the study by the way? What was the purpose?)

There is a reason why I stopped reading The Economist many years ago. I also find it dishonest that the articles appear without the names of the authors. I only know the name of this author because he used to be my first degree connection on LinkedIn (until he noticed my open criticism… after that he simply deleted me… how “convenient”… but not my loss actually). I publish with my full name everywhere. Who is dishonest now? The woman with a face and a name who grew up in a former “communist” state (while it fell apart), or the international magazine publishers with capitalist backgrounds and their faceless and nameless writers?

Sweden’s democratic socialism does not make one dishonest (if you have the right culture). East Germany’s corrupt dictatorial socialism did distort people (without the right culture), while it pretended to be communist. But hey, what do I know, I’m just an independent thinker and blogger taking the time to actually think and write about the world we live in.

Tomorrow is the 58th anniversary of the Hungarian uprising that happened in 1956. Warning: Hungary today shows signs of a corrupt dictatorship in the making. The fact that the leaders of the past did not go away and the leaders of the present got their power during the global economic crisis makes this a very dangerous situation on the eastern edge of the European Union in a poor country with a very thin layer of European culture, a high number of people living in the underclass, while members of the middle class, the upper class and intellectuals (left and right) are migrating to richer and much more developed countries. The European Union must stop giving free money to the corrupt Hungarian leadership in the form of EU grants. It is imperative for the EU to introduce the Unconditional Basic Income on a European level in member states like Hungary to give the freedom of choice and power to the citizens to be able to free themselves from the corrupt leaders and to live an honest and productive life. The money is there, only the channels of distribution must be changed. We don’t want to go back in time. We want to go forward, face the future with optimism and build a healthier culture.

 

Blogs written by Regina Saphier that you might like:

Virtual Humanism

My Coursera Blog

My TED Blog

 


Saphier Regina: Physique Sociale avagy Társadalmi Fizika

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Saphier Regina: Physique Sociale avagy Társadalmi Fizika

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A “big data” (és a “big understanding”) korában újra előkerült egy réges-régi fogalom, a “társadalmi fizika”, mely a szociológia fogalmát megalkotó Auguste Comte fejéből pattant ki. Mivel ma már az emberek szinte minden lépése követhető, egészen új szinten figyelhetjük meg a társadalom törvényszerűségeit és mechanizmusait, továbbá be is avatkozhatunk.
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A LinkedIn-en felmerült a téma, mely szerint a magyarországi konferenciákra nem nagyon érdemes előadóként ellátogatni… szerintem nézőként sem érdemes. A legjobb külföldi konferenciákat pedig online is meg lehet nézni. A TED fő konferenciáin minden előadó ingyen ad elő (alapos coaching-ban van részük, egyeseknek a Prezi-jét is legyártatja a TED). A motiváló az előadók számára, hogy 1. tényleg jó kapcsolatokra tehetnek szert a hosszú szünetekben, 2. ha igazán jó az előadásuk, a kiváló minőségű nyersanyagból profi virális videó lehet, ha a TED fejesei is úgy akarják (ugyanis nem minden előadás kerül fel a netre), 3. sokszor nagyon inspiráló a többi előadó is (szakmai szinergia alakulhat ki az előadók találkozásaiból), 4. az élő és csúcsminőségű online stream miatt olyan bloggerek írnak róluk globálisan, angolul, akár real time, mint pl. én (a saját kanapémon ülve, éveken át élőben tudósítottam a nagy TED konferenciákról, több száz előadásról, tehát az is közkincs lett, amiből a TED nem tett közzé videót). Megjegyzés: kb. 7 éve nem járok konferenciákra (sem előadóként, sem pedig nézőként).
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Felvetődött tehát egy probléma, helyezzük szélesebb kontextusba, nézzük meg a kapcsolódó társadalmi jelenségeket, gondolatokat, és lássuk, mi lehet a megoldás.
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Ha korlátolt a szponzor…

Vannak olyan konferencia előadók, akiknek érdemes fizetni, vannak, akiknek nem. Viszont mindkét csoportban vannak olyanok, akik mondanak néha nagyon érdekes, friss dolgokat, de ez teljesen kiszámíthatatlan. A digital media használatának szinte teljes hiánya a hazai konferenciák kapcsán megdöbbentő (a TED példát ezért hoztam fel, mert ők jól használják a digital media eszközöket… lehetne tőlük tanulni). Pár hónapja már majdnem rávettem magam, hogy ellátogassak egy online oktatási konferenciára a Magyar Telekom székházába, de mivel “beszólt” az egyik szervező, hogy ne tegyek saját és teljesen releváns online oktatási blog linkeket a konferencia üresen kongó facebook oldalára (később az egyik szervezőket koordináló személy elnézést kért tőlem, de addigra már nem volt mit tenni), újra teljesen elment a kedvem a személyes megjelenéstől, még azelőtt, hogy elindultam volna (átjött a helyi “értékrend” és sötétség, ami taszító és baromira felidegesít, ezért nagy ívben kerülöm)… Persze online nem lehetett előadásokat nézni, annak ellenére sem, hogy a Magyar Telekomnál gyűltek össze, és az online tanulás volt a téma. Utólag sem tettek fel videókat… mert egyszerűen nem készültek videók… nesze nekünk kommunikációs stratégia, ha korlátolt a szponzor… Lefogadom, hogy tele volt a terem videóképes okostelefonokkal is… Ha nincs az épületben ingyen wifi… nincs online konferencia stream… és nem kerülnek fel videók… kinek a szégyene ez? Megmondom én a kedves olvasónak, hogy ne kelljen ezen a fejét törnie, R. Iván kommunikációs igazgató szégyene… víziótlanság, fantáziátlanság, kicsinyesség és lustaság, provinciális multi szinten, és ezért még fizetést is kap… az ilyen emberek könnyen lesznek Magyarországon felsővezetők… nem a tehetség, nem a szorgalom, nem az ész, nem a szív, nem a jó szándék a mérvadó, hanem a bulizási képesség… az ilyen jellegű haverok nyomják egymást egyre feljebb… Hihetetlen, hogy még olyan kapcsolati hálók metszetében sem képesek a digitális média és a telekommunikáció eszközeit profin használni egy konferencia hozzáadott értékeként, mint a telekom szektor és az online oktatási szektor. Ez nem lehet pénz kérdés egy telekom cég esetében.
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Amire érdemes időt szánni: Google+ Hangouts on Air

 
Ha valaki széles körben be akarja mutatni, hogy ő kicsoda, mit tud, és mit gondol, az ma ne egy zárt ajtók mögötti konferenciára áldozza az idejét, hanem érdemesebb Google Hangout-okban részt vennie, on air (amilyeneket pl. Koltányi Gergely készített a nyáron… szerintem nagyon jó kezdet, nem szabad abbahagyni, Gergely elég extrovertált hozzá, és minden résztvevőnek komolyan kellene venni ezt a lehetőséget… rendesen felöltözni, megfésülködni, rendet rakni a háttérben, kiküszöbölni a háttér zajokat, fel kell turbózni a saját netet és számítógépet, kamerát, és illik pontosan megjelenni, online is, stb.).
Nézőként sem érdemes egy unalmas, egész napos konferencián kókadozni, amikor valaki otthonról vagy egy kávéházból megnézheti élőben az egyik online konferencia szekció Hangout-ját, amint a legérdekesebb szakértők másokkal beszélgetnek. Bárki bárkivel felveheti a kapcsolatot online, vagy személyesen (akár egy újabb videót is fel lehet venni). Nem érdemes pénzért előadni egy limitált közönségnek, ha online el(ő)adhatod a tudásodat, amennyiben tényleg van rá kereslet, egy online tananyag formájában (akár angolul is). Felesleges szokványos konferenciát szervezni egy szűk körnek, amikor meetup-okat is lehet szervezni, bárkinek (akár pénzért), akit érdekel egy személyes összejövetel egy számára izgalmas témával kapcsolatban, például egy Google+ Hangout on Air alapú konferencia után. Én ebben a blogomban most arról gondolkodom hangosan, hogy hogyan lehetne a magyar társadalom útakadályait a digitális média eszközeivel, hatékonyan elhárítani.

Pentland társadalmi fizikája a big data korában avagy a társadalmi “átjárhatóság”

Egy társadalom csak akkor fejlődik, ha van átjárás a társadalmi csoportok között, ez alap “társadalom fizikai” szabály. Ajánlom ezzel kapcsolatban Alex Pentland kutatásait, előadásait és könyvét: Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread: the Lessons from a New Science. A magyar társadalom csoportjai között minimális az átjárás, többek között ezért olyan gyenge a gazdasági teljesítmény is. Legyen pl. a konferencia prezentációs része online (mint egy TED előadás vagy egy MOOC videó), és a meetup legyen egy hatalmas, személyes “kávé szünet”, amikor mindenki leülhet és kedvére beszélgethet. Ennek van értelme. Hovatovább, a cégeken belül is ennek lenne értelme. Nem szabad az emberek csoportjait buborékokba zárni, hagyni kell, hogy együtt menjenek kávézni, lehetővé kell tenni, hogy beszélgessenek más csoportok tagjaival, megismerjék egymást és tanuljanak egymástól (erre nem alkalmasak a partik, főleg, mivel az introvertált munkatársak nem szívesen járnak bulizni).

Online névjegy

Hogy valaki érdekes ember, abból könnyen meg tudom mondani, hogy online mennyire izgalmas, amit ír vagy mond, és én csak akkor akarok vele találkozni, ha online képes tartalmas lenni vagy mond valami elgondolkodtatót (ez nem jelenti azt, hogy ne bukkannék személyesen is érdekes emberekre, de szakmai szempontból, ha valaki online nincs jelen, az ma elég gyanús és meglehetősen rossz benyomást kelt). A minap valaki online megkérdezte tőlem, hogy akarok-e egy olyan diplomamunkát bírálni tavasszal, amiben hivatkoznak az egyik tematikus blogomra. Megnéztem, hogy mit találok online a diákról és tudni akartam, hogy én mit tanulhatok tőle. Semmit sem találtam, ami bizony megdöbbentő. Ezt válaszoltam a professzorának (akitől a felkérést kaptam): “annyi közös lehet bennünk, hogy mindketten csillagpor vagyunk…”. Minek bíráljak egy szöveget, amit részben belőlem, vagyis az online megjelenési formámból ír egy önállótlan offline lény? Hasonlóképpen, minek menjek olyan konferenciákra, melyeken “egymás egyforma köldökét nézegető offline buboréklakók” beszélnek egymáshoz? Nekem többször fizettek konferencia előadóként, mint nem, de ennek ellenére ráuntam. A konferenciák a magyar társadalom összes gyermekbetegségeit hordozzák. Belterjesség és elmaradottság… a ki tudja hányadik hatványon…
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Ebből a kiút a digitális média síkjaira vezet:

– Blog (nekem ez az első számú kedvencem, ha tartalmat akarok generálni, mert alapvetően egy introvertált író vagyok, és szeretek befelé figyelni),
– G+ Hangout on Air vagy egyéb eredetű YouTube videók (ez inkább az extrovertált embereknek való… én a Hangout-okat hallgatni szeretem, nem nézni, mert minek nézzek pár ringó fejet egy órán át), és
– Audio (pl. online rádió, számomra ennek a befogadása a legmeditatívabb és magam is szeretek hanganyagokat felvenni, társaságban is… jó lenne egy online rádiót létrehozni).
Az élő konferencia stream önálló kategória, de itthon sajnos nem nagyon vannak átütő konferencia előadók, akiket egész nap érdemes lenne nézni (a magyar TEDx előadókat többnyire kezdettől fogva siralmasnak találom), tehát ilyesmit inkább a TED legfelső síkján szeretek befogadni, alkalmanként négy napon át.
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Hozzá kell tennem, hogy a legnépszerűbb előadók még gyakran nem tudnak azzal mit kezdeni, hogy az interjúik és az előadásaik egymás alatt jelennek meg a google-ön, és egy alapos néző hamar rájön, hogy a legjobb előadók is unásig ismétlik magukat, ahogy telnek az évek. Ha nem akarunk kiábrándulni a kedvenceinkből, ne nézzük meg az összes videót és ne hallgassuk meg az összes hanganyagot, mert nyomasztó lehet az ismétlés. Az előadóknak oda kell figyelniük erre a korábban ismeretlen problémára, és ez nem könnyű.
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Online nyitás

Mindent összevetve, az izolált, offline konferenciák szokásos formájukban az elmaradottságot növelik és a magyar gazdaságot stagnáló állapotban tartják (sok más egyéb belterjességet erősítő tényezővel együtt). Van, akinek a konferenciák csak kellemetlenségek (sok üres fecsegés, széken gubbasztás), van, akinek networking események (ők az önreklámozó, feltörekvő szakemberek, akik azt hiszik, hogy itt lehet felfelé törekedni, pedig ez nagyon ritkán igaz… itt a felfelé vezető út valójában igen gyakran lefelé visz morális szempontból… szinte minden csak optikai csalódás, az örökös üzleti növekedés téveszméjéhez hasonlóan). Számomra a konferenciák minősége kifejezi a magyar társadalom állapotát, melyen mindenképpen változtatni kell. Első lépésnek az is elég, ha a jelenlegi konferenciákat Google+ Hangout-ok formájában, on Air, vagyis élőben elérhetővé teszik és mellé rendelik a meetup-ok személyes, közösségi lehetőségeit. Szintén fontos, hogy a fő social network-ökön online is induljanak a témához kapcsolódó oldalak és csoportok.
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A konferenciák nyitottá tételéhez wifi, laptop, egy-két jó minőségű kamera, reflektor és mikrofon kell… no és persze jó (nemzetközi) előadók és beszélgetőtársak, akiket érdemes megnézni. Az ingyenes Hangout on Air okos felhasználása elősegítheti a gondolatok szabad áramlását, és az ideák szabad szárnyalása elősegítheti a társadalmi fejlődést és a gazdaság erősödést. A konferencia nem azért van, hogy az egyének magukat mutogassák, hanem például azért, hogy a közösség a jövőbe vezető utat közösen találhassa meg. Fontos tehát, hogy jó legyen a témaválasztás, és a konferencia címe mindenképpen legyen kifejező. A Hangout-okkal azonnal megosztható tartalmak is létrejönnek, melyek megtöbbszörözik az üzenet online (és offline) terjedési sebességét és távolságát.
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Válogatott írásaimat, angolul és magyarul, a legkülönbözőbb témákban itt találod. Ha tetszik, amit írok, ne habozz reagálni, megosztani, “lájkolni”. Köszönöm, hogy elolvastad és továbbadtad.

Regina Saphier: Recovering Plutocrats: Wake UP!

First published on Aug 22, 2014 on LinkedIn.

 

Regina Saphier: Recovering Plutocrats: Wake UP!

I used to write a live TED conference blog for years, but I stopped (partly because I started two other blogs, about MOOCs and Virtual Humanism)… partly because I started to publish via LinkedIn.
However, I watched a TED talk recently that I wanted to share with you all (this time via LinkedIn), but not because it was brilliant. I wanted you to see how billionaires are playing with ideas like raising wages or shortening the workweek to deal with the puzzling problem of the rich getting richer (despite the recent economic crisis), the middle class getting poorer, robots replacing human workers, profits going up (again, despite the recent crisis that did not yet go away), while employment is going downIt looks like new technologies are not creating new workplaces in large enough numbers.

Raising Wages?

Nick Hanauer is your average, recovering, garden variety plutocrat who says that the US middle class needs higher wages (let me translate that for you, he means: more purchasing power) and better living conditions (the ability to spend more on housing, for example). He is a capitalist who does not believe in his own privileges at the expense of american society. “Marvelous”. He warns his fellow plutocrats that the “pitchforks” are coming if things don’t change. In other words there will be consequences when too few own too much for too long.

Nick has a point, but unfortunately he still thinks that more consumption is going to fix a society that exists on Earth that has limited resources. Nick is wrong. You cannot forever increase productivity and consumption… that strategy does not lead to a sustainable society at this point. Yet it is important that he is willing to spend more of his revenues on wages instead of a new mansion or boat and that he stands up for his views publicly (let me remind you, he needs no more money, yet raising wages in general might result in more profits for him, depending on his investment portfolio). I also like that he admits that in another country with less national economic power he would sell fruit on the side of the road, because that system has only that much economic power and not everyone gets lucky… I am sorry that his warning has to do with his own fear of lower social classes, and not so much with his conscience.

What Could Be a Truly Transformative Idea for a New Era?

Plutocrats did not make america, rather the country and mostly its middle class made the 0.01% super rich, he says. I say, the super rich and governments of developed nations could easily implement the Unconditional Basic Income or UBI idea (or in other places it is called the Basic Income Guarantee or BIG).After all, Nick so clearly argues that minimum wages can be raised significantly without having to worry about negative consequences. In fact he says that spending will make the economy healthier.
So, if that is true, why not provide people with dignified optimal income (independent of work) and let them make real choices (like opting into the open source and sharing economies as consumers and/or as entrepreneurs)? This would be a truly transformative message. However, Nick is not interested in a society of true fairness and real choices, he is interested in a society that keeps people dependent and usable (keep working for money, keep spending to keep earning, to keep spending, to keep earning… so that Nick could make even more money, even if he does not need any more of that).

A Very Expressive Chart

Here is a chart that shows how corporate profits are going up while employment is in sharp decline in the US. (I regenerated the chart that I encountered in Federico Pistono’s lecture that he held at the University of Life Sciences Oslo in Norway in 2013.) If people are losing their jobs at this rate in the US, it will soon be hard to raise wages of workers… because there will be hardly any employees to benefit from a raise in a few decades. In fact Nick’s fellow plutocrats are going to be investing into technologies that make people obsolete (they are investing in this heavily already, otherwise how did profits go up to an all time high while employment plummeted to a 1984 level by now).
Every single road of this economy leads to human work becoming more and more obsolete, now even in the middle class… There will be low level jobs that cannot be done by robots (only for a while), and there will be jobs that require high level human intuition, cognition and empathy that robots cannot replace (again, for a while). The rest of the job market will be eaten alive by automation (it is already happening). Raising wages (or shortening the workweek) of nonexistent future workers is the kiss of death in a bad dream in the long run… It is happening in the US, in China, and I suspect that most of the angry people won’t grab actual “pitchforks”. To tell you the truth I rather not start to imagine what jobless masses are going to do in our foreseeable future without income. So, forget about raising wages (or shrinking the workweek) being the only way
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Nilofer Merchant looks at her son to see the future in “Digital Life in 2025 – AI, Robotics, and the Future of Jobs” (Pew Research Center, 2014):
Let me put it this way:
my son, who is 10, doesn’t think he needs to learn to drive or do grocery shopping because he says he’ll just click something to arrive. All the fundamentals of life can and will be automated, from driving to grocery shopping. Chores effectively disappear in terms of time consumption.

Shrinking the Workweek?

Recently I watched Larry Page while he spoke to Vinod Khosla (basically, one billionaire to another) and there were a few very important ideas.
Larry Page: “I totally believe we should be living in a time of abundance, like Peter Diamandis’ book. If you really think about the things that you need to make yourself happy – housing, security, opportunities for your kids – anthropologists have been identifying these things. It’s not that hard for us to provide those things. The amount of resources we need to do that, the amount of work that actually needs to go into that is pretty small. I’m guessing less than 1-percent at the moment. So the idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet people’s needs is just not true. I do think there’s a problem that we don’t recognize that. I think there’s also a social problem that a lot of people aren’t happy if they don’t have anything to do. So we need to give people things to do. We need to feel like you’re needed, wanted and have something productive to do.”
Larry Page goes on saying: “… reduce the workweek. And then, if you add slightly less employment, you can adjust and people will still have jobs.”
I agree that not everyone has to work to provide what people need, but reducing the workweek is only a short term solution… first you will have 20 hour work weeks… next 10 hour work weeks… Whats next? The 5 hour workweek? For how much money? Based on what performance? Coming from what source? Sustaining how many people?

Giving People the Opportunity to NOT Having to Work for a Living

In my humble opinion, providing plutocrats with endless amounts of profits cannot be a viable social goal in the age of amazing technologies. Humanity as a community cannot let this happen.
There were two key ideas I strongly agree with, added by Vinod Khosla in the video.
Vinod Khosla: “I fundamentally believe we move from an economy of labor and capital to an economy of ideas. Most economists haven’t caught on to this change…”
Vinod Khosla: “Looking 40 years out, I find it hard to imagine why we won’t need to support half the population to not work but pursue other interests that are interesting to them.”

Plutocrats Don’t Appear to Know Anything About: Unconditional Basic Income

Here is where “UBI” or “BIG” should have been mentioned during the discussion, but apparently not one of the three participants knew about it. Plus, Nick Hanauer, can you hear what Vinod Khosla, your fellow plutocrat is saying? He says, that in a few decades wage based employment won’t be a priority. He is right! What are you going to do with raised wages in an era of hyper automation? What are you going to do with shortened workweeks in the age of technology based mass unemployment?
Of course I wish all people had more income (who need it) and less meaningless work (giving people the option of self development and meaning), but raising wages or reducing the workweek are very short sighted solutions in this age, based on a highly outdated market paradigm, at a never before seen level of automation that was supposed to make human life easier and more creative. How are you able to stay rich if you are so shortsighted when you believe you are a beacon? Please, wake up and look beyond your corporate bubbles, look further along the road and try connecting the actual dots.

More content regarding virtual humanism, UBI, leadership and many other topics on My Virtual Humanism Blog


Regina Saphier: Experts don’t make the future. Dreamers do!

This is a cross posting of my article “Regina Saphier: Experts don’t make the future. Dreamers do!” published via LinkedIn on August 7, 2014.

Societies in 2042? Unemployed AI developer & robotics engineer needs your unconditional support. (virtualhumanism.wordpress.com)

Societies in 2042?
Unemployed AI developer & robotics engineer needs your unconditional support. (virtualhumanism.wordpress.com written by Regina Saphier)

 

Regina Saphier: Experts don’t make the future. Dreamers do!

I am writing this post in response to these LinkedIn influencer posts:

Vivek Wadhwa: We’re heading into a jobless future, no matter what the government does

Vivek Wadhwa: Why We Should Believe the Dreamers — And Not the Experts

Dear Vivek!

When I challenged you a few weeks ago to think about Unconditional Basic Income (as discussed in one of my blog notes), you responded that UBI equals unemployment in your opinion and that you are not sure the world is ready for that (note: I respectfully disagree, UBI would not cause unemployment and the world is just about to be ready for UBI). It is clear based on your blog on a jobless future that in addition you believe that new technologies also lead to unemployment. So, no matter what we do, the result is more unemployment in your opinion and there is no turning back. I agree. When you now write that people should opt for 20 or 10 hour work weeks you are not far away from the 5 or the zero hour work week (that comes next). In your other blog post you say people should know that experts are getting more and more puzzled by the future and are less and less able to predict what’s coming.

I agree: Dreamers Are The New Experts

There is one tiny problem: Mostly experts have the resources, dreamers usually don’t. Experts are usually part of the establishment and like to hold on to their power. Dreamers and idealist are usually outsiders and dislike institutions. Elon Musk is a rare kind of dreamer who is also an expert with self made resources. So, we have to find a way in the future to get more resources to the dreamers who possess or are ready to acquire and build expert level knowledge and find more experts with dreamer qualities.

To quote myself: “Many people sadly assume that if you work you earn an income and that this is the only way and that it is always true. Less people are able to imagine that if you have an income then you will work on things that matter based on your initiative and your diligence (based on inner motivation). We are up against the limitations of human imagination and experiences, NOT against economics. It is not economics that defines us. We are the ones creating and defining economics with our collective imagination.” This paragraph was taken from another relevant blog note written by me… basically Part 2 of my above mentioned UBI blog post.

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. (Arthur Schopenhauer)

Imagine

Isn’t it possible that sufficiently imaginative people are not very common in the field of economics? Isn’t it possible that when you suggest a shorter workweek you are stuck in an old paradigm that is completely outdated and not at all creative in terms of modern thinking? I think if we take David M. Kelley‘s principles of evoking creativity and combine his transformative methods with social issues and economics related innovation, we will be able to initiate a true paradigm shift.

For new kinds of ideas we need to discover new ways of thinking in a new era. To help you understand how silly it sounds to opt for 10 or 20 hour work weeks in the future: If Coursera or edX asked you to suggest a payment method three years ago during the planning phase (based on your latest article suggesting a drastically shorter workweek) you probably would have suggested that online students in India should pay “only” 25-50% of the tuition fee compared to American on campus students (at Stanford or at Harvard)… and so, would have completely rejected poorer talent in India based on simple personal lack of imagination, effort and courage. As we know that would ruin the entire massive model of these MOOCs, yet that would be the only thing you could come up with. I am sure in retrospect you would not want to take that kind of embarrassment upon yourself. People now have free choices for top level learning, and only exams come with a small fee (and even that can be waived). If this is possible, anything is possible. This is why either free utilities and/or (as I call it) “employment-independent optimal income” might and should be possible too (more and more of the technologies is there to make that possible) and instead of unemployment, it would mean massive open online entrepreneurship and human creativity with no existential pressure.

Serious Social Games

What we need is a new field of intuitive, compassionate and creative Social and Economic Engineering and Design or SEED, but ideally one that is not related to business, academia, party politics, nor government, rather one that is crowdsourced, that is based on big understanding of Big Data and Social Physics. Show me the numbers, the computer models, show me the online games that could test the hypothesis and trace the hidden, yet key mechanisms of positive social transformation. In EyeWire you can trace neurons, in FoldIt you can optimize proteins (these are serious online science games). I am positive there are serious game design opportunities to trace and optimally “fold” social structures, we just need to create those tools and mindsets on a global scale.

In the US the government was able to drive technological R&D. The same way, the task of the US government right now is to drive social and economic R&D. At the same time private foundations also must engage in financing social experiments that are based on careful, mindful and thoughtful research. The same is true for the EU that is now trying to shake up its economic situation, yet ignores the social elements and the ever present income inequality in eastern, southern, western and northern Europe. One day people are going to look back and think: How were people able to live during those dark ages?

What to Expect?

During my twenties I wanted the internet to provide me with information, let me exchange e-mails and chat lines and answer my questions. During my thirties I wanted the internet to connect me with the entire world, let me do research, let me express myself, let me build my online image and presence and provide me with top learning opportunities. During my forties I want the internet to find me the perfect jobs (as long as jobs are available), and provide me with an optimal income, as simple as that, independent of work in the traditional sense (in the future).

Just a Few Questions

Why do people take it for granted that facebook is perfectly welcome to earn money with our data, while we are not getting a penny? Why is it so natural that bloggers with excellent content get nothing while bad journalists earn money? Why can’t we track how our ideas pollinate the blogosphere and the mind of researchers and business people? Why is it that designers have to complain about their images being misused instead of having a solution that would make it possible for them to either receive automatic payments for every use or alternatively have their image posted with their work or website as an advertisement? How come the fitting jobs still can’t find you based on your extensive online content? How come society still thinks that creative human content writing (that can not yet be beaten by AI) should not be rewarded by the society that benefits from the producers’ inner motivation, diligence and hard work? We need more online activities that actually provide all sorts of income. We need to start squeezing more income out of the online sphere for everyone.

Social Scavenger Hunt

Here is an excellent example to tweak your attitudes and thinking regarding hidden value and access: The Bigger or Better Scavenger Hunt. This is a game college students and kids play in the US. The key idea is that you start with a small item, like a chewing gum and keep walking door to door asking for something bigger or better… like a book… or a pen drive… and in a few steps, after a few doors you might end up with a used smartphone. Imagine what you could end up with if you walked across the US… There are huge wasted assets and financial resources all over societies that need to be redistributed fairly in order to permit anyone to live an enlightened life on Earth. And developed societies must start to think about introducing Unconditional Basic Income, because when hundreds of millions of people start their grotesque jobs of 10 hours a week, what are we going to do to keep the middle class alive? And what about poor people who are without jobs already, some of them formerly known as lower or even upper middle class citizens? Everything happens so fast with technological development that we must speed up our social and financial adjustment and for that we need appropriate ideas for testing and we need to start the computer simulations yesterday to introduce the right policies tomorrow. After all, this is a social emergency!

Star Trek – Emergency Medical Hologram – “Please state the nature of the medical emergency!”

If you don’t know Star Trek Voyager: there is a brilliant holographic doctor with a slightly narcissistic personality… a gifted opera singer with the desire to be as human as possible. He is undoubtedly an important part of the starship crew and goes on all sorts of missions. Robert Picardo did an excellent job portraying a technology that appears to be human yet it isn’t. This EMH even has his own personality and his personality disorder to fit in perfectly with people. People in the story are never concerned with money, yet they aspire to do a good job, as does the Hologram. Members of the crew don’t get puzzled by the holographic team member, but they occasionally struggle with his personality traits. Very human indeed. I like this vision of a technology perfectly fitting in with humans, even having a sense of humor. And he (almost) never gets tired of asking what the emergency is…

The same way we should not get tired of asking: How are we going to sustain people in an era when human work no longer generates income? When income is a given and people still remain productive in so many ways… That should be a healthier avenue. Picture that! Please state the nature of the social emergency and use your imagination to solve it! Let us do this together.