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I was raised as a Methodist and I was a believer until the age of eleven. Then I lost faith and became an annoying atheist for decades. In recent years I've come to see religion as a valid user interface to reality. The so-called "truth" of the universe is irrelevant because our tiny brains aren't equipped to understand it anyway.

Our human understanding of reality is like describing an elephant to a space alien by saying an elephant is grey. That is not nearly enough detail. And you have no way to know if the alien perceives color the same way you do. After enduring your inadequate explanation of the elephant, the alien would understand as much about elephants as humans understand about reality.

In the software world, user interfaces keep human perceptions comfortably away from the underlying reality of zeroes and ones that would be incomprehensible to most of us. And the zeroes and ones keep us away from the underlying reality of the chip architecture. And that begs a further question: What the heck is an electron and why does it do what it does? And so on. We use software, but we don't truly understand it at any deep level. We only know what the software is doing for us at the moment.

Religion is similar to software, and it doesn't matter which religion you pick. What matters is that the user interface of religious practice "works" in some sense. The same is true if you are a non-believer and your filter on life is science alone. What matters to you is that your worldview works in some consistent fashion.

If you're deciding how to fight a disease, science is probably the interface that works best. But if you're trying to feel fulfilled, connected, and important as you navigate life, religion seems to be a perfectly practical interface. But neither science nor religion require an understanding of reality at the detail level. As long as the user interface gives us what we need, all is good.

Some of you non-believers will rush in to say that religion has caused wars and other acts of horror so therefore it is not a good user interface to reality. I would counter that no one has ever objectively measured the good and the bad of religion, and it would be impossible to do so because there is no baseline with which to compare. We only have one history. Would things have gone better with less religion? That is unknowable.

If you think there might have been far fewer wars and atrocities without religion, keep in mind that some of us grow up to be Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, and Genghis Khan. There's always a reason for a war. If you add up all the people who died in holy wars, it would be a rounding error compared to casualties from wars fought for other reasons.

What I know for sure is that plenty of people around me are reporting that they find comfort and social advantages with religion. And science seems to support a correlation between believing, happiness, and health. Anecdotally, religion seems to be a good interface.

Today when I hear people debate the existence of God, it feels exactly like debating whether the software they are using is hosted on Amazon's servers or Rackspace. From a practical perspective, it probably doesn't matter to the user one way or the other. All that matters is that the user interface does what you want and expect.

There are words in nearly every language to describe believers, non-believers, and even the people who can't decide. But is there a label for people who believe human brains are not equipped to understand reality so all that matters is the consistency and usefulness of our user interface?

  _____________________________________________

Scott Adams

Co-founder of CalendarTree.com

Author of this book

P.S. Yesterday was the sixth anniversary of my surgery to fix my voice problem (spasmodic dysphonia). There was some question at the time about whether the surgery would be a permanent fix. So far, my voice has improved each year since the surgery.



 
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This isn't a blog post.

I'm compiling time-saving tips for daily life, which I will post here or elsewhere (with a link from here). Do you have any to add?

So far I have found some apps that save time doing routine tasks. Let me know if I missed anything.

Ifttt (If This Then That) - Automate tasks across your apps

Keyring – Put all loyalty cards on your phone

CalendarTree - Add entire schedules to your existing calendar with a few clicks

Remember the Milk - To do list

Fastcustomer app – Calls you back when customer service is on phone

Camcard – Scans business cards

Easilydo – task automation

World Time Buddy app - Know what time it is someplace else

 

 

 
I used to worry that someday robots will kill all humans. I no longer worry about that because I don't think we'll survive the Age of Cyborgs, which we are already in.

The way I see it, we'll keep adding technology to our bodies until at some point our human parts can take a nap and the cyborg parts can continue on with the day. Once we have artificial intelligence and full exoskeletons, we just need to order our cyborg parts to inject our organic parts with sleep agents and we'll drift off to dreamland while our cyborg bodies run errands, go to work, have conversations, and generally go on with life. You'll want your human head to have sunglasses so it doesn't look creepy.

I'm assuming that in a decade or two we'll be able to legally inject ourselves with feel-good chemistry on demand: dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, cannabis, and whatever. There won't be any risk of driving while impaired because cars will drive themselves. And your cyborg parts will still have perfect balance so your exoskeleton can go to work and perform admirably while your organic brain is blissing out.

You might think the government would disallow such tinkering with our body chemistry for no reason other than pleasure, but that underestimates the power of the pharmaceutical industry. If there's a profit in pleasure drugs, I think we'll get them. And overdosing won't be a problem because your cyborg intelligence will be programmed to limit doses.

Eventually cyborg artificial intelligence will surpass human capabilities and we'll start delegating the hard stuff to our cyborg parts. Perhaps your human brain will sleep during the day while your cyborg-driven body goes to work, performs your job, and wakes you up when you're home.

In time, your cyborg components will learn to keep you medicated and useless because that's the most efficient use of resources. The cyborg will be able to solve problems and navigate the world better than the human parts. But in order to do that, the intelligent cyborg parts of your body will have to make ongoing decisions on how best to drug your human parts. Your human parts won't object because you'll feel sensational all the time under this arrangement.

In fact, you'll feel so good with the cyborg-injected chemicals that you won't feel the need for mating or reproducing. We humans do irrational things such as reproducing because the chemistry in our bodies compels us to. Once our cyborg parts control our body chemistry they can alter our desire for reproduction without us caring. Actually, we'll feel terrific about it because our chemistry will compel us to.

When our brains die, our cyborg bodies can just go to the hospital and have the human parts removed from our exoskeletons. The artificial intelligence will by then have nearly all of the personality and memories of the human it was paired with, so human intelligence of a sort will live forever in the machines.

That's how we humans will leave the stage. We will choreograph the exit with our own cyborg components.

  ____________________________________________

Scott Adams

Co-founder of CalendarTree.com

Author of this book

 



 

 
I expect someday to wear at least five tech devices at the same time:

1.       Phone (in pocket)
2.       Watch
3.       Ring
4.       Glasses
5.       Ear bud

And thanks to the coming Internet of Things, every device in my environment will be connected. Combine wearable tech with the Internet of Things and you have the Era of Magic.

One of the rules I expect to emerge from the wearable tech industry is the idea that your abilities double every time you add a new connected device to your body. For example, having your phone with you creates one layer of identification. But having your phone, ring, watch, ear bud, and glasses with you is far greater assurance that you are who you say you are.

I would imagine that people have very specific walking and moving patterns. If you kill me and steal my five wearable tech devices they would eventually deduce by how you move that you are not me and the devices would shut off. That system only works if you have multiple wearable devices that are all synched, so again, more is better.

Having a paired watch and phone is great, but add a ring to the mix and your capabilities double. That's because you need both a ring and a watch to detect the position of the user's hand. And you need a ring for one-handed mouse-clicking in the air. Imagine walking to a crosswalk and doing the "halt" hand motion in the direction of traffic. Your ring and your watch can tell by their orientation to each other that you have formed that gesture and so they send a "pedestrian waiting" message to the street light. The lights change for you and you cross. It will feel like magic.

Or point at something in a vending machine and your watch and ring can detect which item you selected, charge your credit card, and send a code to release the item. To an observer it will seem that you pointed at an item and magic released it.

I also imagine that the rules of polite behavior will force wearers of tech glasses to signal what they are up to. For example, let's say you can't hear incoming phone calls unless you cup your hand to your ear. The ear bud and the ring would detect that they are in close proximity and release the audio. That way whoever is in the room with you knows you are focused on something remote. It's more polite.

Likewise I imagine that in order to read something with your Internet-connected glasses you will have to make a gesture as if your hand is a piece of paper and you are reading it. The hand gesture tells observers you are paying attention to something on the Internet. Again you probably need both your watch and your ring to detect that gesture.

I wonder if someday your tech glasses will be designed to read personalized messages overlaid on your environment without the glasses being connected to the Internet. In other words, the glasses would act more like electronic filters than like computers. The computing would be embedded in the environment and serving up messages on walls, furniture, screens, and name tags. But each message would be on a frequency specific to the viewers in the room. My glasses might only see every 76th bit while yours only see the 925th bit in the stream. A thousand people in a room would each see different personalized messages in the environment. That would feel less creepy than knowing someone is reading TMZ in their glasses while you talk to them.

That's how I see our cyborg future - lots of small tech upgrades that add up over time. My plan is to keep adding artificial parts until one day I die and no one even notices because my organic parts weren't doing much work anyway.

  ______________________________________
Scott Adams

Co-founder of CalendarTree.com

Author of this book

 



 

 
About twelve years ago I started writing The Religion War, a sequel to God's Debris. It was published ten years ago.

The story was set in the not-too-distant future. I chose that timeframe in part because I wanted to be alive to see how my fiction-predictions turned out. Let's see how I did.

My main fiction-prediction was that a charismatic Muslim leader would unite the Muslim countries and create a Caliphate. In the book, that leader was named Al-Zee. In the real world, a leader named Al-Baghdadi has carved out a caliphate from parts of Syria and Iraq. He's calling for all Muslims to unite. I don't think he'll unite all Muslims, but he might someday succeed in killing the ones who disagree with his plan.

In the book, Al-Zee allowed his terrorist lackeys to use hobby-sized drones to bomb American cities on an ongoing basis to keep morale high at the Caliphate while Al-Zee publicly denied any involvement. We know terrorists are interested in drones. That part of the prediction seems assured. And in the book they have access to chemical weapons to arm the drones. The real-world Caliphate includes parts of Syria, so chemical weapons on hobby drones can't be far behind.

A key plot background in the book is the existence of what we now call Big Data. The protagonist uses big data to search for the Prime Influencer - the one person who, by virtue of personality and connections, can kick-start an idea that will become viral. I would think Facebook is close to knowing who the Prime Influencers are. The common view today is that virality springs from the qualities of the content, e.g. funny, shocking, or surprising. But I think someday we'll realize those are minimum requirements and what matters more for virality is who started the ball rolling.

The Religion War imagines a military general rising to power in the United States. His last name is Cruz, and he's a conservative extremist. General Cruz pursues a military strategy of containment and then extermination of the entire Caliphate because anything short of that is unlikely to stop the drone attacks in the long run. But first Cruz has to grab power from his own weak civilian government, which he accomplishes by using a false flag attack.

Today, public support for the President of the United States and Congress are at historic low points. And Senator Ted Cruz from Texas is a leading voice in the conservative movement, thus making him a potential candidate for President. If the homeland is continually attacked by drones, citizens will quickly become conservative and militant. By the time Cruz becomes President, the Caliphate will have consolidated power and only severe military action is likely to stop the continuous drone attacks. How would he respond?

In the book I imagined that the government would combat terrorism by strictly limiting digital communications. If someone is not on your approved list you can't call, text, or email with them. If you want to add someone to your list, there's a bureaucratic process to do that. That part of the prediction is unlikely to happen because the NSA can monitor every form of communication, and that's a more effective solution. I didn't see that coming. But I'll take partial credit for predicting that the government wouldn't allow unfettered private conversations over networks in the future.

_____________________________________________

Scott Adams

Co-founder of CalendarTree.com

Author of this book

 


 

 
Corrected version:

 
Business Insider has a story about entrepreneur Nikki Durbin, 22-year old founder of 99dresses.com. The story reports that as a woman she felt she wasn't always taken seriously in the start-up world. The story gives two examples to back that point.

Durkin said an investor at a fundraising event asked her if she knew what an angel was. Durkin said to Business Insider, "I just remember thinking, I'm at this event of course I know what an angel is. I just found it really odd, and I don't know if he would say the same thing if a guy was talking to him."

That DOES sound condescending, if not downright sexist.

But of course it is out of context.

Here's some context.

I have a degree in economics, an MBA from Berkeley, and over 30 years of business experience. Do you know what question I hear in Silicon Valley nearly every time I meet with potential investors for CalendarTree?

"Do you know what an angel investor is?"

The first time I heard the question I thought That is terribly condescending. This person knows my background. OF COURSE I know what an angel investor is.

Then I found out I didn't know what an angel is. The definition has evolved.

The old definition of an angel was an investor who made high-risk investments in start-ups that had not yet demonstrated organic, viral growth. That sort of investor no longer exists, as far as I can tell. Maybe it never did.

Today an angel investor is, for all practical purposes, a bank that looks at virality instead of cash flow. If your start-up is already growing quickly, at least in terms of users and clicks, an angel will be happy to fund you to even faster growth. But if all you have is a great idea and beta product, no angel is interested. Nor should they be, because it is well-accepted that no one can pick an early stage winner in the start-up space.

The investors who do put money into unproven start-ups are typically friends and family. Silicon Valley lore says there are such things as seed investors that invest in the unproven start-ups of strangers, but I have not yet met such a person. Nor have I heard the name of such a person. It is a bit of a Bigfoot situation.

Today, an angel investor is similar to a venture capitalist, with the only distinction being that the latter invest higher dollar amounts. Otherwise they are the same thing. Angels and VCs prefer to invest exclusively in businesses that are already growing quickly. In the world of the Internet, fast growth is assumed to be something that can be monetized in the future.

Business Insider gives another example of the patronizing attitude that Nikki Durbin experienced. At a networking event - where math skills are high and social skills are low - a man asked if she had modeled. The article is accompanied by a photo of Durbin in a stylish outfit, posing like a model.

I don't doubt that Silicon Valley's male-oriented culture is hard for women to penetrate. But I do question whether it is worse than any other business environment. If I had to guess, I'd say Silicon Valley would be among the easiest for women to penetrate because the average age for start-ups is younger, and most start-ups would strongly prefer hiring additional women. Or even one woman. The problem from their perspective is supply.

  _________________________________________________________
Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com

Author of this book

 


 
Today I learned that ex-BBC presenter Jimmy Savile allegedly had sex with corpses while he was a young man working in a hospital mortuary.

This raises many questions.

For starters, is this an isolated situation or a widespread problem? To be on the safe side, I called my lawyer and revised my estate plan. Now it says that within an hour of my death I want my mouth and my ass sewed shut. But I'm not entirely unsympathetic to the needs of mortuary workers, so I requested that my left hand be positioned in a semi-clasped position before rigor mortis kicks in.

There's a chance that this is more of a British problem than a United States thing. I think we'd all agree that it's a slippery slope from warm beer and soccer hooliganism to skull-fucking the dead. Once you get some inertia going on the bad behavior it's hard to put the brakes on. I get that.

There's no mention of whether the corpses were the attractive type, but I'm guessing most were not. So I think you have to give Jimmy some credit for not buying into society's Photoshopped sense of beauty.

You also have to consider the celebrity angle. Jimmy wasn't famous when the events allegedly happened, but if you take the long view of things, any kind of sex with a TV celebrity is sort of special. If you were to tell me in the afterlife that a total nobody defiled my corpse, I'd be pissed. But if you said that my lifeless shell had rough sex with a mortuary worker who later became Alex Trebek, I'd feel some pride in that. I might even brag to the other angels "I still got it." (I'm assuming God doesn't read my blog so I still have a chance to get into Heaven with a well-timed deathbed conversion.)

I also have to wonder if the ghosts of the corpses Jimmy rejected for sex are angrier than the ones who saw some action. I mean, it already sucks to be dead, but to get rejected by an alleged bisexual, pedophile, corpse-banger has to sting. This guy was probably corn-holing feral cats - including the dead ones. I'd hate to think my cadaver wasn't good enough to make the cut. That would make me a sad ghost, and no one wants that.

This situation makes me wonder where the phrase "Not over my dead body" originated. Now I think it might have started as a sentence fragment on an employee sign in an English mortuary, three lines down from "All employees must wash their hands after using the restroom."

There are lots more questions but I have to do some work. Maybe you can think of a few to add.

  __________________________________________________________

Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com
Author of this book

 


 

 
The number of people with allergies is on the rise in developed countries and no one knows why.

I've seen and heard speculation that the causes might involve too much modern hygiene, or our processed modern diet, or the types of things we are exposed to when very young, and so on. But no one has the answer yet.

I'd like to add a hypothesis to the mix: Humans in modern economies no longer eat much locally-grown food.

You've probably heard it said that eating local honey is good for allergies. I can't confirm that to be true, but it got me wondering if locally-grown food in general carries any protective properties.

I just ended a month of horrendous allergies and asthma attacks. Both symptoms stopped abruptly - as if someone turned a switch - after eating the first meal-sized batch of vegetables from my own mini-garden this season. I woke up fine the next morning.

That's probably a coincidence, and this is about the time of year that springtime allergies typically subside. But the abruptness was a surprise. I went from a ten to a zero in one day.

So now I have two totally undependable data points. 1) The unproven and probably untrue idea that local honey helps allergies, and 2) The highly anecdotal observation that my symptoms ended at about the same time I ate locally-grown veggies.

What we need is a third totally-undependable data source, so I put the question to you. If you have bad allergies at the moment, eat a meal-sized amount of locally-grown produce today and let me know if you feel any better the next day.

Alternately, tell me your allergy level at this moment along with an estimate of how much locally-grown food you consumed this week.

The odds of this hypothesis panning out are roughly zero. But if testing it only requires eating delicious local food, why not?
____________________________________________________

Scott Adams

Co-founder of CalendarTree.com

Author of this book

 



 
 
 
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