Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ray Kurzweil revisits his 1999 predictions for 2009

In 1999 inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil published the book "The Age of Intelligent Machines" in which he made rather daring predictions for years 2009, 2019, 2029 and 2099.

Kurzweil is a considered to be one of the most accurate forecasters of technological advancement, which is the reason why today, in the beginning of 2009, it is extremely interesting to see how well his predictions have stood the test of time.

Most of Kurzweil's predictions are actually astoundingly accurate. Such predictions as "Individuals primarily use portable computers" and "rotating memories are on their way out" seem highly in place considering the extreme surge of notebook and flash memory sales have seen in recent years.

A prediction such as "There are services to keep one's digital objects in central repositories, but most people prefer to keep their private information under their own physical control" also seem to reflect the shifting paradigms occurring today with services such as Google Docs, Flickr and YouTube which exceedingly enable users to keep their digital objects online.

"Digital objects such as books, music albums, movies and software are rapidly distributed as data files through the wireless network and typically do not have a physical object associated with them" also sounds just right. So too do "Documents circa 2009 routinely include embedded moving images and sounds" and "learning at a distance is common place" and "virtual partners are popular as forms of sexual entertainment, but they're more gamelike than real".

However some of the Kurzweil's other predictions still seem a while ago. In June 2008 I interviewed Kurzweil for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz and asked him to comment on some of his predictions which still seem a while away. Here is what he had to say regarding chosen quotes from his book.

Kurzweil's Response to his 1999 predictions

"People typically have at least a dozen computers on and around their clothes" (p. 189)

KURZWEIL: Consider someone sitting at their desk. In their pockets there may be a cell phone, a digital camera, an IPOD, a Bluetooth headset, their electronic car keys, each with one or more computers. On their desk is their desktop or notebook computer, a printer, various communication devices, each with one or more computers. So that's close to a dozen computers typically right now. With the advent of multiprocessor architectures, these devices are starting to have 2, 4, 8... computers each in them, so we'll exceed a dozen computers "on and around their clothes" by the turn of the decade.

"Cables are disappearing" (p. 190)

KURZWEIL: There is already increasing use of Bluetooth, WiFi and other wireless technologies to eliminate physical cables. There is technology emerging that allows wireless communication between pocket devices such as cell phones and cameras and desktop devices such as printers and desktop computers. This technology is becoming more ubiquitous. People are increasingly using notebook computers and pocket sized computers and using one form of wireless communication or another to communicate with printers and other devices.

"The majority of text is created using continuous speech recognition" (p. 190)

KURZWEIL: People are migrating to pocket sized computers, but these devices do not provide satisfactory keyboards, so this is now starting to create the need for effective large vocabulary speech recognition. Up until recently hand held devices such as cell phones have not had adequate computers to support large vocabulary speech recognition but that is now changing. New cell phones such as the Blackberry Bold from RIM have computers that are fast enough and with enough memory to support effective speech recognition for text creation. We will see speech recognition used in a widespread way on such pocket computers within the next couple of years.

"three dimensional chips are commonly used" (p. 190)

KURZWEIL: Chips in the latest high cell phones are already three-dimensional with multiple layers of circuitry. The number of layers will continue to increase.

"a 1,000 personal computer can perform about a trillion calculations per second" (p. 191)

KURZWEIL: There are many ways of achieving a teraflop for about a thousand dollars around 2009:

* Today, a NVIDIA Tesla C870 with .5 Teraflop peak computation is about $1,000, but computing is coming down in price by half every year.

* NVIDIA's GTX280, coming out the summer of 2008, is 933 GFLOPS peak for about $500 (adding the rest of the computer is about another $500).

* NVIDIA's GeForce 8800 Ultra provides about .5 Teraflops for about $500 (the rest of the computer is another $500).

* ATI's 4870X2 (2x480), coming out the summer of 2008 is 2 Teraflops peak for about $500.

* AMD FireStream 9170 board with .5 Teraflop is now coming out at around $2,000.

Supercomputers are expected to be built from boards such as the above.

Game computers is another approach, and supercomputers have been constructed from multiple game computers. The Playstation 3 provides 160 GFLOPS for about $300 which is about .5 Teraflops for $1,000 today. Price-performance doubles every year so that's about 1 Teraflop for $1,000 in 2009.

"Translating Telephone techonlogy is commonly used for many language pairs" (195)

KURZWEIL: We have two kinds of "translating telephone" technologies already from our company. We have a cell phone that can capture print documents in seven languages and then translate the documents into any of the seven languages. We are adding more languages. The cell phone that can capture print documents in the seven languages is already a shipping product, and the translation feature has been demonstrated at shows and will ship in a couple of months.

We also have a prototype of this technology that can capture speech with speaker-independent large vocabulary speech recognition and then translate to another language with voice output. This will be a shipping product in the next 1-2 years.

We are talking to multiple cell phone companies about building this technology into their cell phones.

"Human musicians routinely jam with cybernetic musicians" (p. 196)

KURZWEIL: There are many software packages that will accompany you with rhythm tracks that adjust to your playing, walking bass lines, and other accompaniments. Such software is also built into home digital keyboards.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Psychedelic University

The article was originally published on the Reality Sandwich magazine.

Most sincere and mindful people would not dispute that the use of psychedelics can, under certain circumstances, have positive outcomes. Psychedelics, after all, have played a crucial role in human culture for millennia and continue to be a part of many cultures, even today.

The recreational use of LSD and other mind altering substances during the psychedelic sixties is one of the main factors that frightened society away from the exploration of psychedelic realms. As long as researchers and psychologists kept their experiments with LSD confined to their laboratories and clinics, everything was fine. But the widespread use of psychedelics among large sectors of society, with many people having no knowledge about how to work with psychedelics, led western society into a state of media frenzy and paranoia regarding all forms of consciousness expansion. Psychedelics were rashly demonized and then outlawed without any further discussion -- a fact which has been lamented ever since by psychedelic advocates from fields such as psychology, theology and philosophy.

There's been little movement since the sixties toward the legalization of these substances. Yet it seems that society's willingness to consider positive applications of psychedelics has grown lately. Psychedelic research has finally begun to get back on its feet after being put on hold for decades, and the public discussion of psychedelics seems to be somewhat less ill informed than it had been in recent decades, as was noted in Daniel Pinchbeck's article on the future of psychedelics.

Those who can go beyond the veil of propaganda and misinformation that cloaks the entire territory can discover that, unlike many other perfectly legal and accepted substances (such as coffee, alcohol or nicotine), psychedelics are actually non-addictive, non-toxic drugs which in the long term have no adverse side effect on body and brain functions.

When handled with care and in a knowledgeable, respectful manner, psychedelics can have many desirable personal, psychological, philosophical, spiritual and creative results. These facts are well known to the societies in which psychedelics have been a part of the culture and religion for millennia.

The question of psychedelics

But despite the many merits they possess, psychedelics continue to have a highly ambivalent reputation in our society and are prohibited in most countries.

The reasons behind this global paranoia about psychedelics are complex, but can be summed up in the sentence: Psychedelics aren't dangerous, but careless, ignorant use of psychedelics is.

Even Holland, which has the most liberal drugs laws in the world, is currently in the process of banning the selling of magic mushrooms in local "smart shops." The reason is, as it has been in the past, the occasional tragic cases in which newcomers to the field of psychedelics (usually tourists, usually young people) experiment with psychedelic drugs without much prior knowledge about their effects, the importance of set and settings, and how they interact with other drugs (usually alcohol), etc.

Such blind sighted encounters with psychedelics are quite likely to lead to disaster. And so we have the occasional jumping out of a window, or different forms of freak-outs. It doesn't matter that the number of annual cases of this sort is less than a dozen, while cigarettes kill 400,000 people a year.

Such unfortunate encounters with psychedelics are a side effect of modern society, and are avoided by indigenous societies using psychedelics thanks to the ceremonial manner in which psychedelics are consumed. This is because indigenous societies partake in psychedelics at specific dates and times, in a religious context, and in the company of shamans. The recreational use of such substances is almost unheard of. Thus the ceremonial use of psychedelics is considered safer, more "dignified," and has been legalized in many parts of the world.

Movements advocating the use of psychedelics in a religious context have indeed seen a great surge in recent years, among them the Native American Church use of peyote, and ayahuasca use by the Santo Daime and Uniao de Vegetal religions. Such religions have managed thus far to eschew the stigma shed upon psychedelics by society. Their existence is indeed very positive, but while people might have safer access to psychedelics in these contexts, they do not support the use of psychedelics for creative, psychological and philosophical purposes. These religious uses, as well as psychotherapeutic uses of psychedelics, sacrifice the individual's freedom to pursue psychedelic exploration in favor of being part of certain religious or psychological institutions.

Society doesn't know how to handle psychedelics, and since we live in a capitalistic society the choice about psychedelics has been reduced to: sell them or ban them. It's not relevant that treating psychedelics as consumer products might not be a good idea from the psychedelic perspective. Since our society is capitalistic, we quite automatically apply the model of consumerism to anything that comes along. However, psychedelics aren't your average consumer product. Far from it. And when the choice is between selling them or banning them, most countries choose what they consider the safe path: prohibition.

So, in an attempt to reverse the inertia associated with the image and legal status of psychedelics, those who do believe that psychedelics can be put to good use and benefit society have to find an alternative way to regulate them.

Various thinkers in the history of psychedelic thought have been aware of this issue. Many of them believed that psychedelic substances need not be distributed in a mass-consumption, capitalistic manner. Except perhaps for Ken Kesey, nearly every major psychedelic advocate has also called for strategies to make sure that psychedelics are properly handled and intelligently used.

Albert Hofmann cautioned against the recreational use of psychedelics and believed that their importance lies "in the possibility of providing material help to meditation." Aldous Huxley wanted to give psychedelics to a small intellectual elite. He spoke about the development of "a technique of applied mysticism" -- a technique for helping individuals to get the most out of their transcendental experience and to make use of the insights from the "OTHER WORLD" in the affairs of "This World." Timothy Leary wanted psychedelics to be distributed to small groups of people in a psychological or religious context. Even Terrence McKenna admitted that not everybody in a psychedelic society has to actually take any drugs.

Yet the question remains, how will society determine which people it deems fit to experiment with psychedelic substances? Religious and psychological systems are, as mentioned above, unsatisfactory forums for tapping the full potential of psychedelic exploration in modern society. At the same time, selling psychedelics as a standard consumer product has its own disadvantages, which is why we have prohibition.

The Psychonaut License Model

These questions and the need to advance the field of psychedelics have led me to develop an alternative model for the regulation and use of psychedelics in society. I refer to it as the Psychonaut License Model. This model, as I have recently found out, was actually already proposed by Leary in the Sixties. But for some reason or another it seems to have been forgotten for all these years. Here I would like to offer a variation of this model for your consideration.

Our society has mechanisms for the handling of objects which it deems both helpful as well as dangerous. In order to drive a car or a plane, for example, you need a license. What if we would have a psychonautic license? A license for exploring your mind. A license that would ensure that use of psychedelics is guaranteed to those who are willing to approach them knowledgably and responsibly.

A person would receive such a license after taking part in a psychedelic course. Such a psychonautic course could consist of 10-15 meetings, or a concentrated term of 7-10 days. Each course would educate the aspiring psychonaut about a specific substance, such as LSD, Magic Mushrooms, Ayahuasca, Mescaline, Cannabis, etc.

Classes would deal with key questions about psychedelics, such as: the role of psychedelics in culture, the history of psychedelics, psychedelics and ecology, the chemistry of psychedelics, the medical aspects of psychedelics, psychedelic psychology (how to psychologically deal with the various aspects of a psychedelic trip), psychedelic theory and psychedelic spirituality. Thankfully our community is not suffering from a lack of valuable psychedelic knowledge.

The teachers would be cutting-edge experts from the various fields of psychedelics: psychedelic thinkers, shamans, medical doctors, historians of psychedelics and psychedelic psychologists.

Each course would also include 2-3 carefully built, practical psychedelic ceremonies, guided by knowledgeable individuals. These teachers would strike the balance between allowing the freedom for individual exploration, while ensuring a structured (at least partly structured) psychedelic learning experience.

I believe that such a carefully guided tour through the psychedelic world might be a modern version of ancient initiation ceremonies. It would allow for potential explorers of the psychedelic realms to start their journey in safer, more stable surroundings, setting the stage for more individualized psychedelic experiences in the future.

Such a solution could also set the stage for the reintegration of psychedelics into the social fabric in a way which would be better accepted by society. It would also build the basis for a stronger psychedelic community and allow for the growth of psychedelic research and techniques.

The Psychedelic University

The establishment of such a psychonaut license would of course demand the establishment of a stable, professional institution. Hence, the idea for the Psychedelic University, a nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading unbiased knowledge about psychedelics, and supporting individuals seeking safe, informed and inspirational access to psychedelic substances.

The establishment of such an institute demands a tolerant legal environment. To the best of my knowledge, such an environment exists in only one place in the world at the moment. So the Psychedelic University should be located in Amsterdam, Holland where it can act in total agreement with the Dutch law.

The Netherlands has been looking for various ways to regulate the use of psychedelics. While Holland has been tolerant of psychedelics, recent tragedies have weakened its liberal stance. Since the country continues to reform its drug laws every few years, it seems that Dutch authorities are still looking for a sensible solution regarding the regulation of psychedelics. The Psychedelic University and the Psychonautic License model respond to the need for such models, and offer an alternative that enables a safe, responsible and yet imaginative introduction into the world of psychedelics.

The purpose of the Psychedelic University is not to polemicize, but to make an example of the psychedelic movement, displaying its radical commitment to the responsible and constructive use of psychoactive substances. Referring to the future of the psychedelic movement, Terrence McKenna said, "Pointing back to my notion that the responsibility always rests on us and that you don't want to go out and really form a movement to change those guys or that bureau -- I think the thing that should be done is: people who are involved in psychedelics should live life of such examplitude and impeccability that the notion that there was anything shay or wrong or curious about this phenomenon would be ludicrous." Making sure that psychedelically inclined individuals get the best drug education would be a first step in that direction.

While the Psychedelic University will not in any way seek to become a governmental institution, its success might encourage the Dutch government and other liberal governments to consider the implementation of this model elsewhere in the world. Such a university would also, in time, become a center for psychedelic research, collaborating with institutions such as MAPS in the furthering of psychedelic knowledge

Our dream is to enable any person on the planet legal and safe access to these sacred substances, which we value so highly, and to help in the distribution of psychedelic knowledge.

While the criminalization of psychedelics has been seen as nearly irrevocable for decades, new possibilities are also emerging. Legalization and the creation of a new path are not a dream.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Olympic Feeling - A Countercultural Response to the Olympics Games

The Reality Sandwich site published an article of mine about the real meaning of Olympic Games.

Read it here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

An Interview with Steve Wozniak

In September 2007 I had the opportunity to interview Steve Wozniak as part of the Digital Minds interviews that I've conducted at the time with leading digital figures.

Wozniak, who together with Steve Jobs co-founded Apple is considered by many to be the inventor of the first personal computer. Since the personal computer has been like an integral organ of my body for the past 2 decades, speaking with Wozniak was a bit like talking to the architect of existence, almost a sort of demigod really.

The Interview was previously edited and published in Hebrew as a part of a magazine piece I did for Nana about Wozniak. I publish here the full and unedited version of the interview itself.

Hartogsohn: Hello Steve, why don't we start with the feeling that are currently keeping you Busy. So what are you up to these days?

Wozniak: Well, I'm doing a lot of speaking engagements around the world. I'm also involved with a few start-up companies including one that started up and went public with some former apple executives. It's called jazz technologies and we were formed to be an acquiring company and we acquired the chip maker jazz technologies. And I'm involved with some other people who are doing energy efficient house start-ups

Hartogsohn: How did your interest in this field of environmental housing actually evolve?

Wozniak: It just sort of always been with me, but only never high priority. Actually the way it evolved was I discovered somebody doing energy efficient housing that was kind of like the clean simple approach to things. Fewer parts doing more. And that's just something I believe in. There is more to that than I'm trying to save energy, because if you try to save energy there is always somebody else who says they are saving more.

Hartogsohn: Let's get back to the beginning of your career when you were making the first computers? When did you first realize the impact of what you were doing? When did you realize that the personal computer is really going to change things?

Wozniak: Oh it's very difficult to say because I've been building computers my whole life. I've even built the hardware for the personal computer 5 years earlier in 1970 but this was the first one that really worked. And I just knew that it would solve a couple of problems that I had like playing games and writing programs to help my engineering. I didn't know that would change the world. I was involved with a lot of other people who believed that the small computer would soon be owned by everyone and make a huge difference in the world. But the differences that we foresaw never came to be. So it's difficult to say that we foresaw the future. No, we were just accidentally right in some way that low cost computer made sense for a lot of people

Hartogsohn: It's always interesting to see how technological inventions look at different points at time. What did you foresee then that didn't happen.

Wozniak: Well we foresaw that the users would be technical people like ourselves writing programs to solve problems, whereas what really came to be the case is that people tried to buy a pre-bought solution to solve the problem. We foresaw the internet in some crude fashion, of people communicating at a very low level. We didn't see such things as music sitting on a computer. Sure we thought of music going through a computer, but not being stored on a computer. So almost anything that goes at all with today's large hard disks we didn't foresee at all. We did not foresee video on a computer, ever. We did not foresee even storing huge amounts of email.

And we didn't foresee digital cameras, but who could have, I mean they weren't here so nobody foresaw them. And besides when they tried to come, they were so expensive that they really couldn't change the world yet. You know when you realize that something is way too expensive to even think about, you don't think about it. And then at a latter year, oh it makes sense. Some things that's been too expensive but had niche markets maybe, all of the sudden they take off and become mainstream.

That happened with apple products quite a bit. The product that we first had was only applicable to a few people. As far as real dollar savings it's very hard to measure. Maybe a person would have a computer and be more capable than other engineers at his work. But it's hard to put a dollar tracker on that. The typical engineer salary back than was maybe 25,000 dollars and if the computer costs 2500 dollars, you have to weigh that in. But still it's a lot less expensive than a computer that costs a 100,000 dollars.

Hartogsohn: At the time when you began working it was still a very small scale industry in which one person could design a computer by himself. How do you feel about the way this industry evolved and the high-tech industry of today?

Wozniak: Well, one thing that changed is: I didn't design a computer for the world. I just designed the best computer for myself. I had No business plan and no intent to sell it, it's just that it was my life long goal to own a good computer someday that I could write programs on, and the way I achieved this was just to build it myself.

As to way the computers have gone to this day it's absolutely wonderful. I love everything about the computer. It's the nicest the interface we have to the world. Sure it's not as good for some things, not as big a screen as my large screen television set. When I look at google earth it's not like a globe. It's on a flat screen.

But just think of the many things that we can do so easily on the computer that we had no way to do in the past. Maybe the smartest most well funded researchers could do those sort of things that we do today.

Hartogsohn: You have been known to be a programming purist. I once heard you say that your best design decisions were made because you didn't have enough money. How does the obese software of today's operating systems and desktop programs make you feel? Does purist programming and technology still stand a chance?

Wozniak: I think it got undone by abundance of resources, basically RAM that allows a programmer today to grab as huge a framework as he can, and just put in a few little things to master routine what somebody else wrote rather than writing their own programs and getting the job done. I think a purist would not program that way, and there are a few examples. On Macintoshes when I buy shareware occasionally it's tiny, it could have been a big programs but its only 47K, which was also a huge program back when we started. So I think the real strongest purists would force themselves to adhere to it.

In my own case I really when I didn't have money. I couldn't even afford an assembler to type my assembly language programs into. So I wrote them on paper and then I wrote down the ones an zeroes they would get translated to by an assembler. Nobody's done that, except in the early days of computers. Or when you're trying to develop a brand new computer and you need a blue scraper team. So I wrote these couple of hundred pages all by hand. It's hard to imagine, but it brings you closer, more intimate with the code that you are writing. It becomes a part of yourself. And you have to understand it so deeply that it is very good for an engineers not to have as many bugs.

Hartogsohn: So vast software possibilities and computing powers degenerated programming?

Wozniak: Sure, but you can't totally say it's wrong. Because for example I had to design a lot of circuitry that put out NTSC video, but now you can buy a chip, one chip, and plug in where you want the colors, and it puts out the video. Why would you bother having 10 chips do the work when you could just buy one, already made. Sometimes simplicity just goes: the world is right here, I just have to do a much less part myself. And that in it's own form is simplicity even though the end result may wind up being monstrous.

Hartogsohn: Let's get back to the eighties. Do you think that had Apple done a few things differently than it could have the power that Microsoft today holds in the operating system world?

Wozniak: I wonder, but it doesn't feel right and proper to look at the past as though as if we had made a different decision we could have owned the world. It might just be that the Macintosh was unfortunately was too early, 5 years too early, before the cost of resources could have justified it.

Apple was pushing out a new technology that was too expensive to do the full job well and especially the problem of software angles. Microsoft had all the software that the burgeoning business market needed and we were leaving that to our apple 3. So we really just pitted the apple III against IBM, and the Macintosh into other people's needs. And maybe we hoped for the right kind of software. The PC's had [Lotus] 1-2-3 and it was just a solid community built around that.

So maybe we should have saved our dollars, fought it out, had more software from the start, or put our resources into the apple 2 in a way that we could make the Macintosh low cost and then the market for it would be used. We diverted a whole company for a market that was gong to be small for 5 to 10 years. And by the time that market got large, Microsoft had an easier play to make. They build a base of fans and those fans just stuck with the hardware. If we had built the Macintosh in the year when we could have sold it for 1200 dollars or 1800 dollars, but we build it when we could sell it for 3,000 dollars. It was so expensive for a tiny little black and white screen. we had to give up so many features to get it out on the year that we did, and if we had waited just 5 years we could have had a very soft transition to the GUI world. I think jumping the gun was probably the biggest error with the Macintosh, not something technical. The pricing, people talk about the pricing, but that's just a factor of jumping the gun.

Hartogsohn: I've read somewhere that you have been doing some teaching and working with children?

Wozniak: I've wanted my whole life to work with 5th graders. And then I started teaching 5th grade in 1992 maybe. And then I taught higher grades, and then I taught teachers too. And I kept the press out of it. Just something I wanted to do. One on one.

Hartogsohn: Do you feel that all people or all children can learn to program, or is that something that only a select few are able to do?

Wozniak: I think that you have to be in the age where your mind can adapt to algebra before you can learn to program correctly and well. And that's 7th grade. And I do think it can be taught to all. It just teaches mental rigor of getting things right, of building large projects out of small. It's an excellent category of life but we'll never really teach it very much in our schools because nobody really wants to rock the boat and change the status quo. So we are just going to have just as many hours in the class learning the same history, the same mathematics, the same English or writing skills as we have in the past and there is no extra room in school for something like computer science, for programming, it will only be taught to a few.

Hartogsohn: How do you think is a good way to teach programming to children or people who have no knowledge about this world. How do you think is a good way to start with them?

Wozniak: I don't know a good way today. I am sure they exist. I know in my time I'd look for a programming language. I didn't teach 5th graders to program, I've waited until they were 13 to program. I taught them when they were in the 5th grade how to make their homework look good and proper, and take care of a computer and everything. For programming I used the language we had at apple called Hypertalk where you could type in programming statements and instantly something would appear on your screen in a window, or instantly something would appear on a menu. And it is immediate feedback that helps learn programming. The language logo has that feature but logo is a very restrictive language. You can only go so far with logo programs.

And I also only picked examples that would be fun for the kids, I didn't have a book on programming. I taught it and everyday we'd practice a few of those steps. And then we'd right our own programs to sort numbers or play Tic-Tac-To. I'd look for fun games, fun results, or have little men animated walking across the screen. Whatever it was that someway they could feel they have done something unusual. Now days this is common, but back when I did it, this was so uncommon that the kids were just in awe to see the ability of themselves on a computer.

Hartogsohn: I understand that you still work in apple

Wozniak: Oh no, I am an employee but I really don't work

Hartogsohn: Sounds like the best kind of job.

Wozniak: I just do it to stay on the computer. The only work I do is I consult with Steve Jobs over the phone or via email, once in a while, on some products and directions of the company.

Hartogsohn: So what do you think about the direction Apple has taken? It seems like the direction is shifting towards more portable machines like iPod or iPhones

Wozniak: I think apple discovered almost unexpectedly what a huge market the iPod was. Finally apple had a great product that really reached the masses and not the Macintosh small percentage community and I think it opened a lot of eyes at apple to some great huge dollar rewards for doing good products in the consumer electronics sphere that don't apply to Macintosh only.

It's the first time apple stepped out of the Macintosh only realm of things very well. They had tried to do printers, but they just hadn't really done it well. So I think the iPod was a very good lesson for apple and the iPhone would follow and basically expand apple into more than one business at the same time, which is very healthy financially. Not just for the revenue within, but also if one product line is doing poorly due to competition or whatever the other one is there.

Hartogsohn: How do you see the future of computers and personal computing in the next years?

Wozniak: I think it is going to continue pretty much as it is. I think the main user interface is still going to be a keyboard and a video type display. I don't have a mysterious sense that says we're going to have many different categories for things that we're going to be doing that are different from what we do today. I don't know what they are.

People often speak about doing the same things better or in a different form factor. I could imagine a flexible display making a globe in the shape of Google earth but I don't really expect it. I do wish that the computer would become reliable and do what you want when you want it to, with less effort on your part to remember how to get things done. And it's pretty unlikely that's going to happen. It's basically Macintosh and windows, and each one of them is a monopoly in their own way. There really isn't the incentive to have new features that kind of work the way a human mind works.

It used to be the Macintosh got a very good reputation for making everything very visible and obvious and now I try to use GarageBand and some of the most important aspects are little hidden icons down below somewhere. Can't even find them on the menu. It's very difficult. You want the world to be simple and really you're told: once you learn it then you know where it is, so it really doesn't have to be simple. But that is what put us in business with the Macintosh. Computing should be much more intuitive, if you remember the early Macintosh we had Mac paint and Mac draw with little icons on the side and it all made sense – a bucket, an eraser, a square, some colors. It was all real obvious and right in front of your eyes all the time. And I am one of those people that likes that kind of world, but now days it's very difficult to realize – oh yeah, there's a plus sign somewhere, oh yeah and that and that will make a new entry. Or provide some of the other commands in menus. I believe in the early Macintosh dreams of people that came with these concepts of how computers would really work as more of a friend side by side with the user. I still believe in those dreams.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

No Consensus to Consciousness

As we walked through the Amsterdam zoo I had some thoughts about the relation between organisms and altered states of consciousness. Each of the animals in the Zoo seemed as if it were in some kind of trance. The zoo is a zoo of consciousness forms. The reptiles are in a reptilian consciousness state, the fish are in a fishy consciousness state, the monkeys have the monkey state, the tiger the tiger state.

Each of them lives in its own world, even that curious looking amphibious creature which we met in the aquarium and looked as if it spends its whole life in a different reality. Each of these animals has a way to see the world, to experience it, to understand it, to react to it. Each one has its own view on the world, and it resides in it, knowing only that consciousness for the rest of its life. There is no consensus to consciousness.

When I was sick I had curious dreams at night. It felt like visiting other realities. This is not the first time this happens to me while I am sick, and I thought about how the influence of having different levels of fever is tantamount to consuming different amounts of psychoactive substances. Having 37.5 degrees fever might be parallel to consuming a certain amount of a psychoactive substance, but having 38 degrees is already double the impact while having 39 or 40 degrees have an impact tens of time more powerful.

A disease is also an exit from the consensus trance of consciousness. There is no consensus to consciousness.

When I left Israel and came to Amsterdam for a visit, I felt as if I am getting direct oxygen supply to my brain. Levantine aggressiveness and the different pressures of Israeli reality - all went away and suddenly I breathed with my entire lungs, literally. I realized that the different places I am in put me in different consciousness states. I realized that it is very easy to forget that these consciousness states are bound by the environment, a certain ecology, and not just who you are. A person that lived his entire life in a certain place might think that his everyday consciousness state is a "normal" consciousness state for him, the only one to which he is capable, just the same way as somebody who never tried a consciousness altering substance might spend his entire life without ever knowing that the world could be seen differently. That person who has spent his entire life in one place, surrounded by one group of people supposes that the Israeli mind-state, the Dutch mind-state, the Senegal mind-state, are the only states, the only way to see the world. But no. There is no consensus to consciousness.

There is no consensus to consciousness

It is always moving around on different terrains, while balancing between the various forces and influences that pass through it. Eating meat creates different thoughts than eating a tomato and a tomato different thoughts than seeds. Consciousness is moving between the different drugs we consume: between the coffee, the alcohol, the nicotine, the tea and all of the less legal drug we might be taking in. Between Ritalin and Prozac, ginseng and aspirin. Between different physical states of fatigue, hunger, anger or joy. Between needing sexual outlet, the trance of sexuality and that certain feeling that comes after sexual satisfaction has been achieved. There is no consensus to consciousness. It flows constantly between borders which can not be measured.

A person in love is under the influence
Dad and mom are under the influence
A horny person is under the influence
A hungry person is under the influence

We are all under one influence or another. There is no consensus to consciousness. Consciousness has only one truth: it is always in a trance. Always immersed within itself and forgetful of all other consciousness states. A trance of fun, work, fame, family, love, studies, sexuality, ravenousness. Always in a trance.

Books are the true psychedelics

Psychedelics call you to develop your awareness to your consciousness and the ways in which it is constantly being formed and changed. It presents to you a world which is made of consciousness. Psychedelics may be the most intriguing phenomenon I have encountered in my life, but there is another thing which intrigued me no less over the years and keeps intriguing me even today. Books. Language.

In spite of everything, books and ideas remain probably the most consistent influence on who I was in life, and who I am becoming. Again this makes me understand that for me, books are the true psychedelics. After reading Brothers Karamazov I plunged into months of incessant spiritual elation. After reading Journey to the end of the night I experienced months of misanthropic thoughts. Doesn't the influence of these books remind one of the influence of certain psychoactive substances?

Ideas are psychoactive, and for me reading a book involves a strange kind of intoxication, sometimes reminding me of trips really. Sometimes when I am reading a book my heart is pounding so strongly as if it is going to burst from the power of ideas. As if any radical idea which might arrive in the next paragraph might cause my heart to explode.

Ideas intoxicate, and they are probably the most dangerous substance for my consciousness. They are the ones that keep driving my consciousness forward in this world, while making this living so exciting.

The entrance of a new idea into the system is like the entrance of a new substance for the Junkie. The idea junkie experiences the new idea like an exploding bomb in the head. Things appear to gain new dimensions, new colors and characters. In the beginning any small dose of that idea is intoxicating, but the more you deal with these ideas and enter that new world, you also develop a sort of tolerance to it. Of course the thing which is better about ideas in comparison to some addictive substances which people sometime irresponsibly meddle with, is that once the tolerance has built up inside you, you do not find yourself addicted to an idea. You just move on to the next one.

And again we get back to language and its amazing role in changing our consciousness. Books are machines for changing consciousness and generations of mystics, theologians and writers have understood that over the ages and used this cover to cover medium in order to create mind transforming machines which are more elaborate than the imagination can grasp. Books are consciousness transforming machines, only not everyone who opens a book knows how to operate the machine.

Do you know this archetypical picture of a book opening and worlds flowing out of it as a cascade of energies. A book so powerful, that upon opening it, you are violently drawn into it, like into a vortex, with no turning back? This archetype appears often in popular fantasy films such as The never ending story and in The Spiderwick Chronicles. However, this is no fantasy. This is the way a book functions when the machine works as it is supposed to work. It sucks you into it, splashing consciousness forms on you without giving out any warning and changing you forever.

Again, there is no consensus to consciousness

When you open a book, you do not know what this will do for your consciousness.
When you start fasting on Yom Kippur and visit the Synagogue you don't know what this will do to your consciousness (Ask Franz Rosenzweig)
When You are watching a commercial on TV you do not know what this will do to your consciousness.
When you decide to move into nature, you do not know what this will do to your consciousness.
When you buy a new cellular phone, you do not know what this will do to your consciousness.
When you started reading this article, you didn't know what this would do to your consciousness.

There are people (some of them regularly drink coffee and smoke cigarettes) that always warn you that psychoactive substances alter consciousness – and that they might change your 'true' consciousness.

My God! Would you please explain to me how it is possible to stay one moment in one consciousness state, without it changing?

I keep going on my path
On the celestial succession of minds
I am a vagabond of ideas
A vagabond of consciousness

do not listen to those
Who try to drag me back home
I know consciousness has no home
It is moving, and I am moving with it

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Commercials 2.0: Advertising the divine

Reality Sandwich published my article Commericals 2.0: Advertising the divine.

It is basically a piece about how to transform and inverse commercials from a malignant phenomena to a visionary, inspirational tool.


Monday, April 14, 2008

The Internet is the collective Trip

Mark Pesce once said that the Internet is humanity's collective trip. This sentence once sounded vague and unclear to me, but this week, as I was sitting in the social security office in Tel Aviv watching some woman grappling with the security guard I had a certain epiphany and it seemed to me that I understood what that meant a bit better.

As I sat there in the social security office I was reading Leo Buscaglia's book Love and trying to evade that pressing net of negative energies which surrounds this building. On the way out, when I encountered that security guard and woman quarreling I had to think about that bad vibe that rules that place. It was interesting because spiritual teachers in the New Age culture often speak about how we create our own reality, or in other words, how the things we think about influence the net of possibilities which surrounds us. Think good and it will be good, think bad and it will be bad.

Nothing new here yet. In fact the fact that we create our own reality has been reckoned with by spiritual teachers long before the New Age phenomenon was born and this kind of idea is actually crystal clear from within the psychedelic experience where each thought creates an hyperrealist reality. The only novelty here is that these ideas are now conveyed in films such as The Secret and become common knowledge.

But this element of creating your own reality which exists in the life of different people also has a collective aspect. People generally and quite validly argue against The Secret that it ignores the collective elements of the human condition. How can a boy who was born in Iraq, in Gaza, or in Shderot influence the reality of violence and poverty which surrounds him? Can he really create his own reality? Is his destiny not predestined to begin with? This kind of criticism is indeed quite valid, but if we see that the element of creating reality also has a collective aspect things might be a bit less difficult to understand.

And here comes the social security into the picture. The social security is a sort of really bad collective hallucination. It is Kafka's The Trial which has become reality, it is a bad trip you can just walk into any hour of the day if you wish to experience anger of frustration. Actually I am quite sure that a lot of the people who work in the social security office suffer from all kinds of problems just because they are working surrounded by that sort of energies many hours of their day.

In much the same way you can notice how the problems and maladies which are on the mind of the Israeli society is stuff that is being constantly transmitted through the media. I constantly get to meet people who think that the cosmic element which drives humanity and history is 'money' or 'sex'. This idea which might seem quite odd or myopic to people who are part of psychedelic or anyway spiritual circles reflects the order created by media shows such as Survivor or Israel's next top model – an order which is then reflected back by people into the media. And so a feedback system is created in which society and media feed each other with the notion that the important thing is money and sex. In this way the collective hallucination is created using the modern collective drugs of media.

To go back to the people in Iraq, Gaza or Israel. They all have a part in creating the reality in which they live. Something in the collective attitude contributed to the reality in which these societies exist today. But the Americans and the Germans also have a part in creating the psychic reality in which the live – this isn't even mysticism, this is plain mind-ecology*.

Let us get back to media. As I once mentioned in another post McKenna speaks about media as the tool which enables humanity to share symbols, ideas and actually share the collective unconscious. The media, the ruby in the crown of our magnificent noosphere is the psychic reality of our planet – it reflects the thoughts, symbols, feelings and notions which are going on on a planetary scale. It is the conscious and the unconscious of our planet. It is the not very lucid dream that we are having.

The Attention Economy

And here comes Mark Pesche's remark about the Internet as the collective trip back into view. What happens is that the more we continue in the information revolution, so does information become the most valuable commodity. And this trend will continue to encompass bigger and bigger parts of our economy in the next dozens of years, we are now only in the beginning.

Almost the whole of the internet is run on advertisements. The major sites, anyway. This economy which is based on advertisements is called the attention economy. It is called that way because the primary currency in this economy is attention. Everything we give attention to gets power from us. Whether we click on a link to read more about Lindsay Lohan, stay after the commercials to watch an item about Lindsay Lohan or watch a Lindsay Lohan clip on YouTube – we are wiring the planet's global brain and teaching it that Lindsay Lohan is something important – the same as when we click on any other subject, such as reading an article about Teilhard de Chardin.

The problem is of course that most of us would rather click on Lindsay than on good ole' Teilhard. These things are very clearly noted in editorial boards and by various bots and the collective mind keeps reorganizing itself in a process of feedback in order to readjust itself to the culture which has become a slave to primate conditionings, to monkeys with a mouse in their hand and dirty thoughts in their minds, going on in a perpetuate state of digital self-excitement. And while our culture used to have cultural standards which strove to limit or stir this process in a desired direction this is now all long gone.

But that is also the trippy part about this whole story. In the collective trip of the internet we are left to ourselves, to the whims of our consciousness. The attention economy is this trip. It functions like the psychedelic trip where everything we give attention too becomes ever more prominent while that which we ignore simply vanishes from existence.

Attention is the single most resource in the struggle for Humanity's future. Not soldiers, not airplanes, not sanctions, not atomic bombs – attention, something that each of us has a 100% of at all time – and we usually rather give it to Lindsay Lohan and it's myriad consumer variations.

Accusing the editorials and the program managers is in a sense like accusing ourselves. In the global brain there is not they, there is only us, as Rushkoff says. The editors and programmers act as feedback machines responding back to whatever impulses our brains create. We are the neurons of the brain, and we've got to think right – think about evolvement, transforming to something other and higher, to a flower to a new fractal.

In the attention economy confronting the infinite happens when you are holding the mouse in your hand. The place you surf to creates not only your reality, but also the collective reality. That attention is the one which creates reality, the worlds which are created around us. Everything we focus on grows and proliferates. Once we live it be, it will disappear. Your attention is the currency that builds and demolishes the worlds, it is the ultimate power, use it wisely.

* I wish to state that this description only explains a part of the situation and is of course incomplete and not exhaustive. Other parts of such situations are political, historical and circumstantial – and although it is not part of the discussion here. It is clear that no exhaustive debate about the historical fate of groups can be complete without it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Media Resistance – An Interview with Douglas Rushkoff

In july 2007 I had the opportunity to Interview Douglas Rushkoff for the Israeli site NRG (The internet site for the Israeli newspaper Maariv).

For those of you who don't know Rushkoff, he is considered by many to be one of the most important media critics of the last decades. He has published a series of bestseller books such as Media Virus and Coercion: Why we listen to what they say which deal (among other things) with media ecology, subversive uses of media and the way media, culture and people interact.

Rushkoff has also written a series of fictional books. Such as the ambitious graphical novel Testament: Akedah which transpires in part in a futuristic world in which future draftees are implanted with location tracking devices and whose other part follows the life of the biblical Abraham in 3 different episodes in his life.

It should be already apparent that Rushkoff does not cringe from taking two seemingly disparate topics and mixing them together. One of these at first surprising links that he's made and which made him both a sought after as well as controversial figure in American Judaism was the idea of "Open Source Judaism" – a blending of Judaism and open source, which actually might not be a blending at all, since for Rushkoff the two reverberate perfectly.

Judaism is for Rushkoff a religion of open source activists, literate people who can see the world around them as a code which can be read consciously and critically and also rewritten or reprogrammed. Judaism is thus actually a lesson in media literacy, our ability to be smart readers of the mediums and realities around us. It is not without reason, says Rushkoff, that the coming of age ceremony of Judaism is the Bar Mitzvah. In proving to be able of reading the biblical text, the code one becomes an adult.

In his Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism, Rushkoff states that the basic values of Judaism are critical thinking and the readiness to destroy idols and stay on a never ending, convention breaking search. Rushkoff sees in these Jewish values powerful vehicles which can assist the modern man who is bombarded by a flood of aggressive media and marketing schemes.

If you ask me it is a shame that Rushkoff's ideas about Judaism has thus far not reached the Israeli public, since his radical reading of Judaism could well benefit the moldy image of Judaism in Israeli society today. This was partly the reason for this interview which opted to seek a different angle on Judaism and media.

Judaism is open source

Hartogsohn: Hey Douglas, so what is actually open source religion and open source Judaism?

Rushkoff: I suppose the easiest way to say it is that open source religion is the contention that religion is not a pre-existing truth but an ongoing project. It may be divinely inspired, but it is a creation of human beings working together. A collaboration.

I wrote a book on Open Source Judaism, entitled Nothing Sacred, because I thought Jews in particular needed to reconnect with the open source ethos at the religion's core. For many completely understandable reasons, Jews often use Judaism to justify certain static conditions - presumptions about race, nation, and favoritism. There's a need to "lock down" the religion and understand its stories historically rather than mythologically. And this makes it impossible to actually *do* Judaism.

Judaism is a process of interaction, deliberation, and ethical action. It's the process by which we make the world a better place. This was a radically original and revolutionary idea a couple of thousand years ago. It was illegal to presume that human beings can actually alter the story of the world. But that's what the escape from Mitzrayim (Egypt) was all about.

This is the original open source idea: to learn the underlying codes of the world in which we live, and rewrite them together to serve us all better. To participate.

Hartogsohn: Is this an essentially Jewish thing?

Rushkoff: Now, I do think Judaism's sister religions, as well as those that derived from Judaism - such as Christianity and Islam - have open source tenets as well. But I don't feel they're quite as central as they are in Judaism. People in these other religions really are supposed to *believe* things. As I've come to understand it, Judaism is more about crashing beliefs than constructing them.

Hartogsohn: When we carefully scrutinize Jewish culture from the Talmud and to the way Jewish Halacha has been assembled and received over the ages we can see it is actually already open source. Is open source Judaism anything new, or is it just radical in the meaning of getting back to the roots of Judaism?

Rushkoff: It is as classical as Judaism gets. But Jews don't practice Judaism anymore. It is too scary in light of all that's going on in the world. Judaism is just as hard as Buddhism or any real spiritual path. And it is incompatible with the rationale that American Jews, in particular, use to justify their lives.

It's particularly difficult to justify Israel using Torah stories if you want to also use those stories allegorically. The whole idea that everything is up for discussion is too threatening to those who need to use the text for political reasons. And the enforcement of certain ideas tends to require unifying myths, rather than open ones. If you can get people to believe a particular story in a particular way, they are easier to control.

So the necessities of state and social control really are at odds with the fundamental teachings of Judaism.

Hartogsohn: You have stated before that you see Judaism as a product of media literacy. How is Judaism related to media and media literacy and what is the Jewish message in that aspect?

Rushkoff: To me, Judaism is a product of media literacy. Hieroglyphs were “priestly writing,” and limited to the priest and royal classes. The invention of the 22-letter Hebrew alphabet turned the greater population into readers and writers. So when God says to Abraham ‘you will be a nation of priests,’ he may as well be saying ‘you will be a nation who can read and write.’ Imagine that! A whole nation of people who have attained literacy. What would that mean?

It would mean a people who no longer simply react to the whims of their gods, but instead write their own laws, record their own history, and who take the very controversial stand that human action makes a difference. You have to realize, in pre-Israelite times, to say that human beings made a difference was blasphemy – heretical. For the Israelites to run off to the desert after desecrating Egypt’s highest gods (sacrificing a calf was illegal, particularly on April New Year’s Day when he was being revered) and then create a legal and spiritual system based on life – that was revolutionary. Lechaim is a naughty thing to say in a society based on death cults.

Dealing with Media Viruses

Hartogsohn: Your books talk about a world where the people are being attacked and coerced by continually evolving media viruses. How does the hyper-Jew of the media age defend himself against ever evolving media viruses?

Rushkoff: Media Virus isn't about people being attacked by viruses; it's about how people can create and launch their *own* media viruses. Unfortunately, marketers tended to read the book more than radicals, and so it ended up becoming something called "viral marketing." And in this case, yeah, I suppose people are being subjected to something like viral attack. Except for the fact that the marketers are so very inept at what they do, it's more like flood of shit than carefully crafted viral assault.

The way to 'defend," as you put it, against media viruses is to be secure in own code and outlook. Things will always grab your attention if they're crafted well enough. Like an accident at the side of the road. The trick is the second part - is the code within that virus (like the DNA within a biological virus) - capable of confusing your own thoughts and intentions? You have to know who you are and what you want. Then, a piece of new information can be parsed and digested without throwing you totally off balance. You choose to interpolate the new idea or not to.

Hartogsohn: Your book Coercion which aimed to help consumers gain control in the consumer-media arms race. At the same time you also acknowledge that "they" are really "us" and meanwhile you also consult for corporations like Sony which wish to stay cutting edge. How can "Us" win against "They" when you are on both sides? Can one work with corporations and still "do no evil"?

Rushkoff: My book Coercion was aimed at helping consumers gain some agency in a consumer-media arms race. My book Media Virus was really a celebration of the datasphere's new complexity. I was celebrating how it was now operating more like an organism than a system of control.

Coercion took a step back, and tried to help people see how easily they transferred their autonomy to others. The idea of Coercion is that we see many institutions and people as a "they" - as an authority. When there actually is no such authority. We create "they." Without us, "they" don't exist.

As far as your us and them, there is none. There's only us. There are many human beings working in corporations who are the most programmed beings on the planet. Yes, they are doing terrible terrible stuff - but that's the reason why real thinking human beings need to go in there and help them come back into consciousness. Sometimes, it means convincing people in corporations to quit their jobs. I've done that. Sometimes it means helping a small group take over the company - take it back from those who have perverted its deeper purpose. I've done that.

Sometimes I just give up. I realize the place is too big and the people are too hardened to hear what I have to say. But those aren't the kinds of places that invite me in, to begin with. They look at my website or read my articles and very quickly understand what it is I'd be asking them to do.

Regrettably, Most people seem to think money is real

Marshall McLuhan used to say "There is absolutely no inevitability, so long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening." Understanding Media, McLuhan's masterpiece reads like a catalog of technologies, media and the symptoms they create. Rushkoff who is considered to be one of McLuhan's theoretical followers in the field of media critic today seeks to raise the consciousness to the various way media functions and foster an active and creative approach to media instead of passive reception.

Hartogsohn: Can the role of media be reversed? Can it turn from a disempowering agent into an empowering force? If so, then How?

Rushkoff: I think your questions betray an over-determined, almost binary way of understanding the world. I don't think things go one way and then we turn them around and make them go another. It is not just one thing. The media is many things, and it acts in many ways at many times on many people.

I think the best first step for helping people exploit media in appropriate, life-affirming ways would be to teach the biases of media. Different media have different biases. They were created with different purposes in mind. TV was created to market. The Internet was created to share. What is a blog? Is that the only way to use the Internet, or are there others? How was the Internet changed from a sharing medium to a publishing medium? Why does Rupert Murdoch like MySpace so much?

By understanding how different media and platforms work, and what sorts of behaviors they encourage, who in particular they empower, we end up in a better position to choose what we do.

But the first step is understanding that this stuff is programmed. It's not pre-existing. It's coded by people.

Hartogsohn: You have been described as a technorealist. Like Marshall McLuhan in his time you seem to be both the prophet of technological promises as well as a skeptic and harsh critic of the media. Has your view of media changed over the years? Where do you see the promises of new sorts of media and where do you see its dangers now and in the near future?

Rushkoff: I'm less hopeful about the immediate impact of the Internet. I thought we, as a civilization, were more ready for collective agency than we turned out to be. Marketers were faster and smarter than I gave them credit for. And money is a bigger force than I realized back then. I've always understood money to be a medium - something created, with rules, and with biases. But most people seem to think money is real. And that's a true obstacle.

So my belief in the promise of technology remains about the same. My respect for the social conditioning that people have undergone in the last century or so has increased, though. I think you could put the key to the universe in front of them and they would still be afraid to use it.

Go get some air

Hartogsohn: How would you advise our readers to go with their relations with the media: TV, commercials, the net?

Rushkoff: I don't have any single piece of advice that fits everyone. The best I could do would be to ask people to evaluate how a particular media experience makes them feel. Especially afterwards. Do you feel more alive? More social? If the answer to either one is "no," then consider doing something else next time.

Hartogsohn: If you could envision a utopist media society of the future which uses media in a smart and empowering way. How would that society look like?

Rushkoff: My utopian vision of the future is people engaging with one another in real space. Literally breathing together in the same room. If media can make the world more efficient so that people get more time to be with each other, for real, then it will have done its job.

Hartogsohn: Actually you surprise me. I was expecting maybe mind altering virtual realities. Why do you attribute that kind of importance to "real space", what is there about it that is so detrimental and necessary in your opinion.

Rushkoff: The body is a terrific interface for this dimension. The five senses haven't yet been surpassed by a screen and sound interface, and I don't expect them to. Most people can still tell the difference between sexual intercourse with a live human being, and masturbating to sexual imagery on the Internet. This is not a bad thing, as it's just possible there are aspects to sex that can't be recreated in a digital communications medium. Not every parameter of human experience can be taken into account in any interface.

And live contact has much much broader bandwidth than even a fiberoptic connection. People in real space communicate through their bodies, through position, through touch. Incarnate activity has many properties and feedback mechanisms that virtual processes don't.

The object of a virtual reality is not to replace life, just as the object of a map is not to replace the territory. Language doesn't replace emotions. God doesn't replace mystery.