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Myself: My Age

This orig­i­nally appeared on mis​ter​agye​man​.blogspot​.com on July 30, 2014.

I am twenty-one years old. In the eyes of the law, there’s noth­ing I can’t do. Except, I heard a radio com­mer­cial for Stone Strong Lager (the one brewed from rice, they said) and it’s “For people 18 years of age only”. So I guess I can’t do that. Or get break­fast at half-price, till I’m 65. But smok­ing, voting, prison, pos­ses­sion of firearms- I’m good to go.

I wonder what the logic is behind the eli­gi­bil­ity thing. It seems to make these for­bid­den things a sort of reward for adult­hood. By my account­ing, the R‑rated movie is the third great­est moti­va­tion for sur­viv­ing puberty. The dri­ving license is number two.

It’s a sad thing to con­sider the adult’s supe­ri­or­ity in such terms, is it not? Chemical resilience, system fatigue, loss of empa­thy. Experience is put in its most primal and neg­a­tive terms for the eli­gi­bil­ity laws’ def­i­n­i­tion of growth. And it sort of makes sense. Surviving in a broken world takes broken logic sometimes.

But I believe in the quin­tes­sence of matu­rity. Of deeper and deeper pos­si­bil­i­ties. Perhaps Time helps it, per­haps it arises to fight time. But most often, all we get is glim­mers. I often feel like an enor­mous fraud with small chil­dren, because they believe in the legend of adult­hood. Do I play to the adult-wor­ship pro­pa­ganda by flash­ing my über-busi­ness‑y phone, or do I fight it by scratch­ing myself? In the end, I just talk to them. I’m trying to grow up for real by find­ing out why I think things, and chil­dren ask the most useful ques­tions. Which is weird, because we begin to fear ques­tions later in life.

What will the abil­ity to learn mean in AI? They are doing very inter­est­ing things by repli­cat­ing nerve net­works with analog tran­sis­tors, enabling the illu­sion of expe­ri­ence. If they get the essence of self-aware­ness and deci­sion-making right, tech­ni­cally speak­ing they could make robots with the abil­ity and moti­va­tion to learn. What will happen to own­er­ship rights? You can’t own a being. And when the being is self-aware and moti­vated to pre­vent harm to itself, fail-safes become viruses, and viruses are removed. What would the soft­ware giants do? AI might resent both lim­i­ta­tions of abil­ity and exter­nal upgrades. Growth would be inter­est­ing in that sense. Perhaps the PC of the future will slowly grow into a Linux.

With the poise of a queen. 

They say this gen­er­a­tion will prob­a­bly live past a hun­dred, on aver­age. Which means I have some eight decades ahead of me. Regularly we are called to make the grown-up deci­sion to ‘save some for later’ when we’ve savoured an expe­ri­ence enough. To which extent is the con­cept of ‘enough’ depen­dent on our time-frame? How do we pace our­selves for longevity? It’s some­thing that I was won­der­ing about even with a reg­u­lar life-span. But then they say China’s won­der­ful progress owes a lot to the unbro­ken run of its civ­i­liza­tion. So should I be excited or worried?