Is technocracy the answer to America’s troubles?

Is technocracy the answer to America’s troubles?

Technocracy is a system of government where leadership is comprised of technical experts; experts in specific fields who also have bureaucratic experience, as opposed to elected officials or appointed politicians. The United States looked fairly technocratic when it was first founded: Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, for example, were both renowned inventors, and much emphasis was placed on intellect. But the U.S. has strayed far from the merits of technocracy. Officials without background in the agencies they are running, or without expertise in any field for that matter, is an issue that must be addressed if we are to make our government more effective. Out of 535 members of Congress, only six are engineers and one is a physicist; there is actually a higher number of musicians, accountants, and former entertainers among the ranks. Even of President Obama’s 23 cabinet members, only the Secretary of Energy and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency had engineering or natural science backgrounds. Most of the rest were lawyers. Understanding technocracy The idea is that the experts run the show – those with experience in the fields over which they’re making decisions. This removes political agendas from the equation, and it removes (however controversially) the need for anything other than proof and fact when making decisions about the future of our country. It means the bible no longer plays a role in reproductive rights, for example. At it’s core, though, it’s simply a respect for knowledge and skill. An understanding that technocracy is about the people who have dedicated their lives to a certain subject, and are therefore most qualified to make decisions necessary...
Don’t kill Hitler: How the past becomes the present becomes the future

Don’t kill Hitler: How the past becomes the present becomes the future

If you could go back in history to kill Hitler, would you? The popular answer is, Yes. Of course. This makes you a hero. Humans love to speculate. We spend time in our own heads imagining scenarios where we do something important that changes the course of history. We ask the question, if you could go back in history and kill one person, who would it be? Hitler. But perhaps the better (bigger, more important) question is, Would that actually change anything? Does a single individual make the difference? Do individuals matter? Or would it have happened anyway? The romantic view is that of course individuals matter. The Third Reich would never have happened without Hitler. The atrocities of the Holocaust could never have happened without the singular Adolf Hitler. But that’s not a realistic point of view. And it simply isn’t true. The man is only a symbol. He represents something. A sentiment. A feeling. An idea. Killing the man does not kill the idea; the sentiment remains; the feelings only grow. Today, there are comparisons between U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler. Beyond the increasingly-present Godwin’s Law (the longer an argument goes on, the more likely it is that comparisons to Hitler will be made), there has been serious speculation into the similarities between the two. Is the point then to kill the situation that allowed Hitler to arise? And if history is repeating itself, what does that mean for today? We then also cannot blame Donald Trump for creating the sentiments that got him elected. Why people are comparing Hitler to Trump Are the comparisons justified? There...
The philosopher and the party

The philosopher and the party

Tonight, the sun will sink below the horizon as it always does. Streetlights will blink on, one by one. Overstated neons will glow in the darkness. Bars, clubs, dance halls, music venues, and house parties all across the world will fill with people looking to leave the world behind. The nihilistic nature of partying Nihilism rejects the “higher powers” of religion and morality. It is often discussed in terms of extreme skepticism (i.e. a questioning or doubt toward knowledge) and relativism (i.e. there is no certain truth; only our perceptions exist). For most of the 20th century it has been associated with the belief that life is meaningless. So what is the point of living? While this is often seem as a negative thing, especially by those with religious faith, it doesn’t have to be. “Meaningless” doesn’t mean life without joy; nihilism doesn’t mean without activity. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP), defines a “true nihilist” as one who “would believe in nothing, have no loyalties, and no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy.” Staying up, partying all night, watching the sunrise through a haze from the floor of a hotel room or some random house or the street is a way to destroy; to break from normalcy, reject anything greater than ourselves, and affirm that nothing really matters. In this age of information, we grew up knowing that nothing is forever. Uncertainty can be  something of a security blanket, i.e. “ignorance is bliss,” and fuels a hope that because we don’t know for certain, there might still be meaning to all of this. There might be a greater purpose,...
Everybody sucks (except for you)

Everybody sucks (except for you)

You’re feeling awesome today. You woke up on the right side of the bed, your hair is on point, the weather is beautiful, work is going well. And then, in an instant, someone comes along and ruins it.  It might be the person that cut you off on the highway, or the coworker who just doesn’t know when to shut up, or especially, especially that @sshole on the internet who knows exactly how to push your buttons. Staying in a good mood is usually easier if you avoid the internet, or at least the comments section of any article on the internet (really, any article. You can find the most positive topic and there will be someone to spin it wrong). In addition to the keyboard warriors looking to hit you with their “knowledge”, there are the people who get paid to start fights online. And of course you have the trolls who do it just for kicks. But you shouldn’t have to stay away from your favorite sites. You’re awesome, after all. You know why you support the things you do, why you love what you love. And you’re confident that no matter what someone throws at you, they won’t be able to shake your conviction. But then there’s that annoying quip, that backwards belief, that mind-bogglingly asinine quote, that gets you right in the gut.   It can be hard to feel awesome  Even when you know that you’re right. You can’t get into the minds of others (best X-Men power). It doesn’t even have to be a stranger; it could be someone you know, an old friend or lover, that...
Don’t try to live before you die

Don’t try to live before you die

“I want to live life to the fullest.” “I want to reach for the stars.” “I want to…” “I want to live life before I die.” These are not real goals. These are meta goals, and should not be your focus. The same as sitting down to come up with the most brilliant idea to change the world or attain happiness and wealth, they are intangible. And it doesn’t work that way. Set real goals Before you say “I’m going to give it my all,” know what “it” is. It doesn’t matter how big or small. If you want to read all of the published Game of Thrones books by the end of the year, do it. If you want to join a Zumba class by next week, do that. If you want to ask out that cute coworker before the end of the day, that’s all you. These are tangible accomplishments. It doesn’t matter at all what the activity is, it matters how much of yourself you put into it. Engage yourself to the fullest, dive in and make it your everything. Don’t listen to anyone who tries to judge you based on how sophisticated your goals are, what is worthy or unworthy of your time, or what you should be doing. Only you know what you want/need to accomplish. What is should?  Too many people give in to what they (think they) should be doing. You should be doing this, you should be doing that. You should be doing things the way everyone else is doing them. “Should” isn’t a real word. Well technically it is. But it’s just an auxiliary verb “used to indicate...
You and A.I.

You and A.I.

Public perception of A.I. and robots has changed often in the last 100 years. A.I. robots have been represented in pop culture as both friendly helpers like Wall-E, and sentient computer killers like HAL 9000. But now that actual homes and automobiles run on smart technology, it’s no longer just pop culture. As robots are starting to look an awful lot like humans, science fiction is starting to look a lot less like fiction. If true A.I. (i.e. a machine/robot as smart and with behavior capabilities as skillful and flexible as ours) becomes a reality, is a world where humans have been replaced as dominant species nigh? We have to start thinking seriously about what this reality will look like for humans. We’re not just talking about simple robots. We have already been living with “robots” for ages. Your car, cell phone, TV, etc. are all extensions of your human body. The roof of your home is an extension of your head/skull. Your shoes extend the abilities of your feet. Your clothes are the result of adaptations to different weather conditions; every time you put on a jacket you’re more or less putting on a robot. The arrival of the computer adds a complexity which we don’t yet fully understand, but our first instinct is to classify it as an extension of our brain. At the University of Minnesota’s Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Vision Laboratory (AIRVL), they’re studying things like Intelligent Transportation Systems and building mini-robots (including adorable Lego-based mini-robots). These inventions range from incredibly useful on multiple levels to simply being really cool toys. Infusing already commonplace things with A.I. has thus far only been positive for humans....