The kids are wiser than their parents

The generation of the children is wiser than that of the parents. The children are able to understand more complex interrelations and their urgency. And not only that, the children also have the ability to organize themselves so that they can draw worldwide attention to the problems they have identified to create the pressure to act.

The elders never really understood what MySpace, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Snapchat were all about. Suddenly it becomes clear what motivates the children to become so intensely involved with the Internet and all the new forms of media. Why screaming teenagers worship YouTube influencers who became famous for makeup tips and other nonsense. It isn’t about what these Influencers were talking about, it is fascinating how they do it. Some kids are able to get across the new communication channels better than others. And those who do is best are taken as role models. The stars have something up their sleeve that the others want to learn. And within a few years, children were able to develop the ability to communicate through electronic media at an intensity never before seen in human history.

Communication is the exchanging of information. And that works in both directions. This is immediately clear to the kids, where as we, the older generation, had to go to universities to learn it as theoretical knowledge. Kids use the net, which didn’t even exist in our time, not only as a broadcasting facility that can reach millions of people, but also as a source from which they draw their information. And also in this respect they are vastly superior to the old. While the majority of the elders still get caught up in echo-chambers, which leads to the loudest screaming idiots being chosen as political leaders, the kids (who themselves are still too young to vote) use the same net to acquire a more comprehensive understanding of the true concerns of the world.

I’m not talking about the one kid in your head who only sits in front of a computer all day playing computer games. I’m talking about the entirety of the kids who have also learned to play networked computer games and are now able to use the net in a way that is still incomprehensible to us older people. Instead of playing with networked computers, we played with Lego bricks as kids and became great engineers.

With the technology that the engineers of the parents’ generation have built, the kids today develop the consciousness to recognize the big pending problems, to differentiate them from the less important issues and to act purposefully and in the required haste. And from the point of view of a representative of the parents’ generation, I can only be amazed at how quickly the kids managed to select representatives from their ranks and to charge them with so much weight in such a short period of time that they are in a position to represent their common interests in the world’s highest bodies. And not only at eye level (which would be remarkable enough in itself) – these representatives with their 16 years of age are brighter, more thoughtful and in every respect wiser than the representatives of the generation that is currently running the world out of control.

The calming effect of wild boar in road traffic

I used to often get upset when I was in traffic. Well, often? Actually always. If, for example, such an arsehole took my right of way or just stood stupidly in my way because he dozed off when the traffic light turned green. The world is full of such idiots!

But because it is unhealthy to constantly get upset – it is not good for the heart, for the blood sugar level, for the blood pressure – I wanted to come up with something.

When one of those wild boars got in my way again, it suddenly became clear to me: cars are wild boars. And it is the job of a wild boar to behave like a wild boar. With a wild boar in the forest, you wouldn’t take it personally when it jumps in your way. Wild boars exist to behave like wild boars.

When I take my motorbike through town today, I don’t have to worry about idiots all the time, instead I’m prepared for wild boars that can come from unexpected directions at any time. I take it sportive and it is like a game to sidestep the boars from the beginning.

And if I can’t avoid them, then I brake. And if a wild boar nodded off at the traffic light in front of me, I wait patiently until it wakes up on its own. That usually doesn’t take long. I don’t get upset anymore. To get furiated about it – pure waste of energy. Those are wild pigs!

I like wild boars.

With time I have become even better. I have learned to judge wild boars as they are not all the same. Some are friendly, others aggressive, some are sleepy or playful. All this can be read quite well on their faces. When a wild sow like that comes along, the lights are grimly pulled together into flashing slits, or whether a nice piggy with round eyes looks dreamily into the world, you can quite well guess from the distance how it behaves.

The animal is created when man and car come together and become one. Most people are completely harmless when you meet them in the wild. Even more harmless are cars that sleep on the roadside without a human being inside them. Only in combination can they become dangerous under certain circumstances.

I keep my distance from aggressive wild pigs. But also with all others it can happen that suddenly some nonsense occurs to them. When it happens, I don’t get upset anymore. I don’t take it personally. The car+human-animal is just what it is: a wild boar!

Uber logic

Berlin Kreuzberg. It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon and I’m riding my bike past one of those new, chic, cool coffee shops when I notice someone who’s also on a bike. A young man with a full beard, as they are currently in fashion. He’s riding a bright red-orange Jump rental electric bike. Jump is actually Uber. And Uber is one of the companies that is currently transforming the taxi industry worldwide. The man with the full beard is turning into a cobbled side street. He calls out “Uh, Oh!” and I see that the rear wheel of his bike is flat.

I wonder a little at first and as I continue to cycle more and more, whether the young man realises that it is not good for the bicycle at all when you ride over cobblestones with a flat rear wheel. With a normal bicycle he would probably hardly get any further, but with electric drive it obviously works, even if it seems to be unpleasant. The bicycle is an expensive bicycle and the rear wheel is surely heavily damaged after the torture. Only an idiot would do that to his own bike, but it is a rental bike. While I’m still thinking about whether it frees the young man from being an idiot if he destroys a rented bike, our paths cross again. The young man drove on another route in the same direction.

I speak to him and ask first if he is aware that the bicycle would suffer. The young man is well aware of this – ‘they’ have certainly priced that in, is his first answer; and as if to prove that he is capable of even more complex thoughts, he asks back whether I know what kind of company Uber is, and he gives the answer himself: an exploiting company! And he doesn’t think it’s OK, that I aproach him so morally.

I have neither sympathies nor antipathies towards the Uber company and I say this in my defence. I am just always amazed by the logic with which people think. And when the chance presents itself, I sometimes ask.

That would be too exhausting for him now and if I could please go on and leave him alone.

I understand that, I don’t feel that way myself, but I understand that it is exhausting when one’s own thinking is put to the test. Even well-educated and well-combed young people who live in the most pleasant parts of the world without any great worries find it difficult. That’s what I keep finding out with my questions.

 

How to change your mind

Television alters thinking. Religion alters thinking. Books alter thinking. Music alters thinking. Images change thinking. Conversations alter thinking. Meditation alters thinking. Observations alter thinking. Closing one’s eyes alters thinking. Taking in food alters thinking. Fasting alters thinking. Feeling alters thinking.

Everything alters thinking. Thinking is based on the exchange of electrical signals between nerve cells. Nerve cells that are connected via synapses. Nerve cells, which arise and disappear, connected by synapses, which also arise and disappear.

The nerve cells connected by synapses are like the molecules on the water surface of a lake, stable enough that a water strider can walk on them. But there are never ‘the very same’ molecules on the water surface. The molecules are in constant exchange with the surrounding water molecules in the lake. It is a constant dance of the molecules, in which always others come to the surface to be immediately replaced by others. As if one were standing on a gravel path and the stones under one’s feet are permanently exchanged.

The synapse connections between the nerve cells in the brain are the paths of thinking. The paths on which the thoughts walk. But the paths are in constant change. Paths are being trodden or are drifting. They never remain exactly the same.

(( More spectacular, although much rarer, is the idea or realization – the discovery of a completely new path, a completely new connection. The younger one is, the more frequently it occurs, logically, because there is not yet such a pronounced road network of thoughts. This occurs with everyone over time. ))

People tend to ask, “Is that good or bad?”
Is it good or bad when the ways of thinking change?
The answer is the same as to most ‘good or bad’ questions: It is not good or bad: it is.

Being aware that everything changes your thinking, that everything you absorb consciously or unconsciously changes you, enables you to influence what you absorb, what changes you. Becoming more conscious at the same time gives others less possibility to manipulate you as they would like you to.

Of course one cannot choose everything that comes into one’s head – into thinking. But you can influence it. The first steps are to remember again and again that everything you take in influences your thinking and thus your perception of the world.

A very smart friend once said to me: “I have always read an incredible amount, probably thousands of books in my life. That was everything, literature, non-fiction, but also crime thrillers, trivial and any kind of junk. But it’s strange, I used everything, even the greatest nonsense, at some point to get my insights.”

“Sure,” I said, “because all you put in your head is the material you think with. What other material should you think with?”

But not all material is equally good.

And unlike earlier times, when people couldn’t get enough information, today we live in a time when we are confronted with an overwhelming mass of information.

There is better information and worse information.

We can improve our thinking by learning to be more aware of what we let into ourselves.

 

autopilot

I have been using an autonomous system for quite some time. I get on my motorcycle, go whereever I want to go and focus on what is currely on my mind. These are mostly complicated things that take all my attention.

Especially when I’m driving a route I’ve driven before. Only when I drive a new route, every now and then the autopilot calls for attention to ask if it should turn right or left. The autopilot does the rest. Including occasional arguments with other motorists when I’m in Berlin.

Meanwhile my brain is busy with something else. Podcasts from the New York Times for example, the Washington Post or Sam Harris.

Riding the motorcycle is done by the autopilot.


Excerpt from “Codonaut – Where do we program ourselves?”, a Korsakow film about artificial intelligence. Go to codonaut.de to see the film.