Scott Adams: Quotable

I started this blog in 2002. Since then I have quoted Scott Adams — from his blog, his books or other publications — 114 times. More than any other writer, blogger, or public figure. I found his insights fresh, provocative and brilliant. Topics included: robots; reality; education; the universe; immortality; free will; the economy; war; religion; politics; voting; government… and a bunch more. I stopped following and quoting Mr. Adams near the end of 2015. That was around the time he became — it seemed to me — obsessed with Donald Trump and his presidential campaign. It was “All Trump all the time” on Mr. Adams’ blog and I stopped following. As did many others. This week I’ve been doing a bit of housekeeping on this blog and had occasion to reread Mr. Adams’ posts. Many of his predictions about technology were eerily prescient. Most of his pre-Trump ideas still resonate with me.

The Passion of St. Dilblert

I stopped keeping up with Scott Adams when he went wall-to-wall Trump stuff, but Google still slips me a link to his blog from time to time. In a recent post he complains that Twitter “throttles back my free speech when it doesn’t fit their political views.” He insists this only happens with “Trump-related content.”

Sounds a little paranoid to me but who the fuck knows anymore. And then there’s this near the end of the post:

“I’m trying to get my channel on YouTube running smoothly for after Twitter’s collapse. I’m still having massive and unpredictable hardware/software issues. You’ll see my A/B testing over at this link. Keep it handy in case I suddenly disappear from Twitter.”

I find this interesting from a social media perspective. It sounds like he’ll switfh his social media efforts to YouTube if/when Twitter makes him “disappear.” I watched a few minutes of this “A/B testing” on YouTube although I’m mystified why one would post such a test. Does he expect people to watch long, crazy-head YouTube rants?

Watch a minute or two of this video and you’ll see this rich, semi-famous guy sitting in a dark room in his California mansion, switching back and forth between webcams.

Master Persuading all over this election

Until giving up a few months ago, I struggled to understand Scott Adams’ fascination with Donald Trump. Slate’s Ben Dolnick succeeded where I failed.

“Every time Trump wins, Adams wins, too—Trump is the giant crushing his rivals one by one; Adams is the genius who saw that he would do it.”

“As his rightness about Trump became more apparent throughout last summer and fall, Adams’ blog changed—posts started getting longer and more frequent. His updates began to multiply. More and more of his blog was devoted to things that other people had written about him, or to praise he’d gotten, or to people he’d humiliated.”

Whether Trump wins or loses, I’ll never see Scott Adams as I once did. I liked him better before he was a Master Persuader.

A new mind for an old species

“Technology and life must share some fundamental essence. … However you define life, its essence does not reside in material forms like DNA, tissue, or flesh, but in the intangible organization of the energy and information contained in those material forms. Both life and technology seem to be based on immaterial flows of information.” (What Technology Wants, Kevin Kelly)

“Humanity is developing a sort of global eyesight as millions of video cameras on satellites, desktops, and street corners are connected to the Internet. In your lifetime it will be possible to see almost anything on the planet from any computer. And society’s intelligence is merging over the Internet, creating, in effect, a global mind that can do vastly more than any individual mind. Eventually everything that is known by one person will be available to all. A decision can be made by the collective mind of humanity and instantly communicated to the body of society.” (God’s Debris, Scott Adams, 2004)

“All information will come in by super-realistic television and other electronic devices as yet in the planning stage or barely imagined. In one way this will enable the individual to extend himself anywhere without moving his body— even to distant regions of space. But this will be a new kind of individual— an individual with a colossal external nervous system reaching out and out into infinity. And this electronic nervous system will be so interconnected that all individuals plugged in will tend to share the same thoughts, the same feelings, and the same experiences. […] If all this ends with the human race leaving no more trace of itself in the universe than a system of electronic patterns, why should that trouble us? For that is exactly what we are now!” (The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Alan Watts,1989)

“This very large thing (the net) provides a new way of thinking (perfect search, total recall, planetary scope) and a new mind for an old species. It is the Beginning. […] At its core 7 billion humans, soon to be 9 billion, are quickly cloaking themselves with an always-on layer of connectivity that comes close to directly linking their brains to each other. […] By the year 2025 every person alive — that is, 100 percent of the planet’s inhabitants — will have access to this platform via some almost-free device. Everyone will be on it. Or in it. Or, simply, everyone will be it.” (The Inevitable, Kevin Kelly)

Scott Adams: Direct citizen voting

“Imagine a system that involves direct citizen voting on every issue. But in addition to voting yes or no on a ballot question you can also assign your vote FOR A PARTICULAR TOPIC to any other voter who is open to that assignment. For example, I might cast my own direct vote on simple topics, such as gay marriage, weed, and doctor-assisted dying. I feel I know enough about those issues to be useful.

But if the proposed law is about economic policy, I might want to delegate my vote to Paul Krugman, or whoever I thought had the best thinking on that topic. You could also delegate your vote to your better-informed spouse, a friend, or anyone you would trust making decisions for you. But I would make it illegal to delegate a vote to anyone representing an organization. And I would make it illegal to delegate more than one voter topic to another person. That keeps individuals from becoming too powerful outside their field of expertise.

The beauty of my system is that you never have to wait for elections to improve things. The minute that you hear an expert saying something brilliant on a particular topic, you call up your voting app and assign rights to that expert for all of your votes in the category. If you hear a smarter expert tomorrow, you reassign your vote to that person.”

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Scott Adams: Robots

“The age of robotics could replace religion, at least for the young. We will come to see our bodies as moist robots working according to the rules of physics, not magical beings with invisible souls that guide our actions. In other words, when robots start acting exactly like humans, humans will feel more like robots at the same time. It probably works both ways. At some point in human history – and I think today’s kids will live to see it – humans and robots will be working together, living together, and probably dating.”

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Scott Adams: The illusion of Free Will

“I could ignore any advice coming from my technology, but why would I? My human-made plans work out great about 75% of the time. But a computer-made plan that knows all of my preferences, and everyone else’s too, could make decisions that pay off for me more like 90% of the time.”

“As the trend toward machine-made decisions accelerates, your sensation of free will is going to erode to zero. You will have no sense of making decisions in your life. All you will be doing is agreeing with the excellent decisions made by machines. A baby born today will probably never drive a car or make navigation decisions because cars will handle that on their own. We will come to trust the machines more than we trust our friends or our own bad judgement.”

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Is Earth a seeded planet?

“One possibility is that we will build 3D printers and create organic humans based on our software personalities just to experience reality through five senses. An organic creature can keep learning its entire life. So our future software selves might find a need to bring some of our minds back into organic form just to keep up the challenge and the learning. And you know where this is going. If the scenario I described might happen in the future, how can we know it didn’t already happen and we are the second-generation organic humans?”

Scott Adams thinks it is and makes his case here.

Scott Adams: Marriage and Happiness

“Marriage is probably a great solution for 20% of the public. The rest of us need better systems. […] I don’t think traditional marriage is going away anytime soon. But it probably isn’t a coincidence that there are more single and divorced people than ever. Traditional marriage is the biggest obstacle to happiness in the United States. I give it twenty years before society acknowledges it to be a bad fit for modern times.”

Scott Adams on traditional marriage »