This originally appeared on misteragyeman.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.
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?