[ExI] Why Instagram, Facebook, etc. makes you unhappy.

spike spike66 at att.net
Sun Aug 13 14:58:26 UTC 2017

>... On Behalf Of Adrian Tymes
Subject: Re: [ExI] Why Instagram, Facebook, etc. makes you unhappy.

On Thu, Aug 10, 2017 at 2:14 PM, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:
>>... Adrian, don’t worry man, you are one of my highly esteemed colleagues.  
> I won’t do the I’m unworthy thing on the floor but I will buy the beer 
> next time.

>...I'd hope so, since I don't drink beer (or most other alcoholic beverages). 

Cool, I will save money.  Alternative, I buy your beer then drink both of them.

>...- and so they looked up to the creators of their universe, until they got to know said creators.
>..."Never meet your heroes" is an even older version of this (albeit without the particulars of social media, coming from a pre-Internet era).


On the occasions where the ExI people met, I was seldom disappointed.  I always had a blast at those things.

To back up your point, I did meet one guy whose real life persona surprised me: Douglas Hofstadter.  About 17 yrs ago, I think it was 1 April 2000, there was a gathering at Stanford where he was one of the featured speakers in a panel discussion on all the stuff that turns us on.  Hofstader was the man who really got the ball rolling for me.  His book Godel Escher Bach: Eternal Golden Braid was the work that fired my imagination like none other back in 1980.  It shaped my future.

Hofstadter arranged a panel discussion with Hans Morovec, Ray Kurzweil, Bill Joy, Frank Drake Ralph Merkel, and aaaallll this, all these biggity biggies were going to give talks, give all this to the public free.  I convinced by bride there would be people rioting to get in there, even though they didn't really advertise it much.  I convinced that kindhearted young lady to go there with sack lunches six hours ahead of time to reserve a spot in a 500 seat auditorium, which was already half filled when we got there.  Two hours beforehand, geeks were hanging from the rafters and the fire marshal showed up, made a bunch of them leave, so they set up closed circuit TV in another auditorium, but soon that was filled too.

After the event started, so many geeks were trying to pile in, so we started getting worried, for it was getting hot and stuffy in there.  People were standing in the back, someone fainted, there wasn't a hell of a lot anyone could do: they couldn't get them to the exits.  No escape from the nerdist colony.

The talks were marvelous.  Back to Hofstadter.  In any organized event, things will go wrong.  In this one, they had set up a couple of folding tables on the stage so that the panelists could sit behind it and put their microphones.  Somehow someone failed to arrange for a white cloth table skirt, so it looked a bit amateurish with those clunky old folding tables up front.  Hofstadter was grumpy about that, asking grad students to go over to the cafeteria or somewhere, see if they could improvise something.  He seemed very concerned over a minor point of decorum.  

The early birds in the audience were there, and we all wanted to help, but there was no way our butts were going to leave those seats, for fear we would miss out if the fire marshal came back (he didn't, and that hall was packed to felonious densities.)  Hofstadter seemed quite annoyed over that table skirt business.  Had I not been in such awe of this guy, I would have called out from my seat: Dr. Hofstadter, nooooobody in this audience will care or even notice that table.  They will be hanging on every word you guys utter.

Summary: Douglas Hofstadter thought there wouldn't be any singularity in the foreseeable.  Bill Joy thought a singularity could occur soon and it would kill us all.  Ralph Merkel thought a singularity would happen soon and would save us all.  Han Moravec thought a singularity would happen at some not-necessarily soon date but would allow us to merge with robots and become immortal.  Frank Drake suggested the Singularity could explain the Fermi paradox.  Ray Kurzweil thought that a singularity was inevitable and was working to make it happen.  Without reviewing my notes, that is what I remember from the event.

That evening, I pulled off one of the most epic April Fools gags of my entire comedic career.  The ExI list was eager to have us write up how that went.  I wrote that we arrived and found it was all a big April Fools gag, no event, no speakers, several smirking Stanford undergrads.  Some of the locals picked up on what I was doing and joined in.  Adrian, weren't you in on that?  Then I posted, no that was just a meta-April Fools gag, there really was an event, etc.  Then we started going back and forth, writing up accounts of what was said, then April Fools-ing, then meta April-Foolsing.  The ExI list wasn't quite sure if there ever was an event.


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