Today, I am going to look at five problems of society today. You may of course object to my use of the word “society”, as there are many small societies that coexist both peacefully and not so peacefully.

Nonetheless, when I say “society”, I mean the truly global society of people that is a higher-order phenomenon made up of smaller cultures and societies. Such a term makes sense today since everyone is highly connected from the richest to the poorest countries.

Therefore, it really does make sense to speak of a global society, even though there are highly local phenomena that make not occur everywhere. Of course in this post, I will refer to fairly global phenomena.

1. The principle of the least bad

With the rise of modern technology, we are often given the choice of the least bad. We are constrained to live in a world that is being destroyed by technology, or at least being heavily beaten by the violence of consumerism. However, we are sometimes given the choice of the least bad thing: for example, for communication, email is a prerequisite for life in most parts of the world. Many people choose Google, which works well enough.

However, Google is a soulless corporation which uses every dollar of profit to accelerate consumerism. It is not a good choice to support Google, but it is one of the least bad options for most people who just need basic email.

You may think that the principle of the least bad existed since the dawn of time, and in some cases, it did. But now that most of our freedoms have been curtailed, the principle of the least bad operates in full force.

2. Climate problems and every day life

Most of modern life is damaging to the climate. Unfortunately, what’s worse is that we are given no options to live life in a more harmonious way. There are definitely options for a few that are willing to go out and live in a shack with no electricity, but it’s clear that if everyone did that, it become chaotic.

We are always very optimistic about technology, and we say that technology can accomplish anything. Why are we so pessimistic that moving to a truly more sustainable future is impossible?

3. The illusion of change

In small democratic systems, people can truly change their community and have a voice in shaping it. In modern society, we have very little ability to change anything. But what’s worse is that governments and corporations are giving us the illusion that we are doing something via programs like electric cars and recycling.

Of course, driving an electric car might make some incremental improvement some of the time. Unfortunately, all of these changes happen within the capitalistic-consumerist framework whose fundamental objective is accelerating growth.

Therefore, people become more complacent than ever and never really try and change things because they think they already are changing something by eating less meat and driving an electric car.

4. Massive technology companies

The existence of massive technology companies like Google is one of the worst problems for modern society because they are hell-bent on creating a world where everyone is essentially a drone that simply produces more technology and consumes technology.

The big tech companies are the worst because technology itself operates best on a huge scale and a company like Google provides the perfect platform for such an operation.

We can see how tech companies are operating by looking at AI: it is a system to generate endless content so that we can consume it. We should instead destroy AI and tech companies but unfortunately few people even think of this.

5. Overpopulation

All of these problems are exacerbated and made possible by overpopulation. A lot of people think overpopulation is a thing at all because there is still world hunger and disease. Unfortunately, this is not an accurate picture.

The world continues to grow and even if technology solves all the “problems” like world hunger, we will have a massive momentum of humanity that currently has no idea how to live harmoniously with the world. In fact, the existence of so many people combined with technology is probably something that precludes harmony with nature.

Even if not, we need to start having less children and find ways to stabilize and over time, reduce our population.

Conclusion

I’ve listed five problems with modern society. Unfortunately, they are huge problems are are unlikely to be solved quickly. But at least we should start thinking about them and how to solve them.

Today, I am going to give you a short reading list for 2024. But before I do, I also want to mention that I released my latest newsletter. This newsletter is designed to be an encouraging email you get that shows that fighting against technology and global climate change is not a lost cause. The newsletter is entirely free, though you can support my work as well on Substack for just $5 per month.

Now, let’s get onto the reading list. These are books that I think give a great overview of alternative ways of thinking and living that are more harmonious with nature. They typically go against the ideology of forcing everyone into making new technology at the expense of wild animals and plants.

1. Mark Boyle, Drinking Molotov Cocktails with Gandhi

Drinking Molotov Cocktails with Gandhi is an excellent book that highlights how violent our society really is. While we aim for peace and extreme technological comfort within human societies, we actually pay for this system through our violent actions against nature.

2. Mark Boyle, The Way Home

This other book by Boyle is the story about the author living away from technological in rural Ireland. His insights and experiences should be very inspiring to anyone who believes technology is not all it’s cracked up to be.

3. Miles Olson, Unlearn, Rewild

Unlearn, Rewild gives another view of how unnatural our current society is. I’m actually still just a third into it but I already recommend it. It has some practical ideas as well as very nice viewpoints on our degenerate culture.

4. Shunryu Suzuki, Not Always So

In some ways, Not Always So is a bit of an outlier here. It’s not about the degeneracy of technology. Instead, it’s about Zen Buddhism. However, it is not hard to see how the sicknesses of modern society is in some way the opposite journey of Zen meditation. Therefore, I think a practice of Zen meditation is crucial in turning this world around. You can see my article Artificial Intelligence: A diseased manifestation of monkey mind for some ideas about this.

5. Edward O. Wilson, Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life

Wilson’s book Half-Earth is a more practical plan about saving our ecosystems from a biologist’s point of view. The recommendation is that we should set aside half the earth to be protected for nature. This is certainly one of the facets of a strategy towards a better future.

6. David Skrbina, The Metaphysics of Technology

If you could only read one book on the philosophy of technology, this would be it. This book summarizes pretty much all the serious philosophical analyses of technology and presents them through a novel synthesis. If you want to have a deep understanding of how technology evolves and its effects on humanity, you have to read this book.

Conclusion

These six books are some of my favourite books for understanding the world. I’ve actually read all of them (except the third, which I am currently reading), and they should be very useful for anyone who dares embark on the journey to change our planet for the better, instead of just for profit.

I’ve decided to make news posts every month about random things that are happening with me and my work. This month, I migrated my newsletter to Substack. Of course, this blog will still remain active.

However, if you subscribe to my Substack, you can get my technology and environment newsletter by email. It is 100% free, but there is an option of paying $5 per month to support my work. Any contributions are highly appreciated, as I am an independent content creator and one of my main goals is to work against the technological system that is poisoning our planet.

I’ve also read a few books lately that might be of interest to you. The first is Sylvia A. Earle’s “The World is Blue. It’s a book about ocean conservation and gives a good overview of what the ocean is all about and how we mistreat it.

The other book is Mark Boyle’s “Drinking Molotov Cocktails with Gandhi”, which is one of the best books I’ve read in a while. Everyone knows there are a ton of books on conservation and the ethics of the environment, but Mark Boyle really does an excellent job framing our attitude towards the environment in very clear terms: violence.

His viewpoint sparked my interest to research a bit more about violence so I went through Slavoj Žižek’s “Violence”. That was not an easy read in many places and certainly not as cohesive as Boyle’s book, but it does provide some insightful analysis as well.

Finally, I was also thinking that it’s been just about a year since I gave my notice in that I was quitting my full-time job as a researcher. Although I enjoyed my time as a PhD student, I didn’t not enjoy working with mathematics in the “real world” and quitting was one of the best things I ever did. So, to all my readers, I’d like to say that I’m doing well and I’m quite happy that I’m not contributing to technological development any more.

article written by Amelie Farrell

Over the past few years, the audiobook market has been booming. Data from Acumen Research and Consulting reveals that the market is expected to reach $33.5 billion by 2030, up from about $4.2 billion in 2021. Unsurprisingly, this growth hasn’t escaped the attention of tech companies and the cloying grasp of artificial intelligence (AI).

This article will explore the negative repercussions of AI-generated audiobook narration and some ways listeners can champion the irreplaceable craft of professional narrators, ensuring the art of storytelling remains firmly in human hands and voices.

The drawbacks of AI-generated audiobook narration

The primary argument often wielded by proponents of AI programs such as DALL-E and ChatGPT is their ability to cheaply and quickly churn out creative content. Sadly, the use of generative AI has bled into the world of audiobook narration. As a result, many voice actors and professional narrators have been experiencing a decline in business. For Tanya Eby, a full-time voice actor who has been working in the industry for 20 years, her workload has been cut in half — a worrying trend that rings true for many of her colleagues.

Even narrators attempting to ride the generative AI wave have not necessarily been successful at doing so. Despite companies like DeepZen somewhat fairly compensating voice actors by way of licensing agreements, paid recordings, and royalties, an increasing number of newer platforms have been exploiting this gray area. They do this by taking multiple people’s voices, combining them, and then creating a separate voice that they claim belongs to nobody.

An article in the Wall Street Journal found that out of over 5,000 listeners, 64% could distinguish when an audio sample was generated with AI. This is perhaps due to the lack of genuine emotion and nuanced artistry otherwise present in human narrations. There’s an intimacy in the voice of a real narrator that transcends mere words – an artistry that AI, for all its algorithms, struggles to replicate.

What you can do to fight back

Having said that, avid listeners need to recognize and support authentic narrators who infuse stories with life. Fortunately, subscription-based digital libraries now give you instant access to endless, high-quality audiobook titles ranging from mystery, self-help, romance, science fiction, politics, and philosophy, all for roughly the price of a single paperback book per month. Most notably, audiobooks in Everand’s digital library rightfully credit its human narrators so listeners can ensure that they’re supporting real people. Bestsellers like Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, for instance, is narrated by Jeremy Irons, while Tom Pile narrates Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves.

As for audiobook narrators, opt to work with companies prioritizing you and your art over adopting AI technology. Seasoned narrator Hillary Huber who has recorded over 700 books, recommends forging relationships with reputable publishers and production companies that recognize the value of human narrators. For instance, Penguin Random House openly condemns using narrator voices to train AI for audiobooks, considering it copyright infringement. Moreover, the company has ties with SAG-AFTRA, a union of which audiobook narrators are a part, to mentor voice actors, and is a staunch supporter of the fight against AI.

Human narrators bring stories to life with a touch of emotion and depth that AI can’t quite match. Choosing their work ensures we keep the genuine connection and artistry alive in our literary adventures. And in doing so, we preserve the authenticity that makes audiobooks a uniquely enriching experience.

You should watch out for AI masquerading as something good. Most technologies usually have both positive and negative effects on society. Unfortunately, the positive effects are usually ephemeral and quick to manifest themselves whereas the long-term effects are hard to comprehend for most of us and damaging to the basic nature of being human.

Consider the following article, Prediction of Temperature and Heat Wave Occurrence for Summer Season Using Machine Learning.

This purpose of this article is to ameliorate the effects of intense heat. In the abstract we read:

Climate variations have become worse and diversified recently, which caused catastrophic disasters for our communities and ecosystem including economic property damages in Korea.

However, the downside is that if we can constantly ameliorate the effects of climate change, then we will be oblivious to its true nature until it is too late. We should be burned by climate change, and we should respond by reducing our impact on the environment. Instead, we use technologies like advanced climate models and importing water from far away places instead of spending money on what’s really important: reducing our impact.

I fundamentally oppose most of these things because all they do is make people think that technology will save them. Of course, I do not believe we should stop helping people. But sometimes, people need a bit of pain to realize that they are doing something wrong.

Finally, why did I refer to this example as an example of a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Because it’s about artificial intelligence. It’s a great example of how people shroud their own intellectual amusement around AI into the guise of doing something good for humanity, when it certainly does not do much good.

In this article, I will tell you about six of the most dangerous threats from artificial intelligence, also known as AI. These six threats are so great that we should stop all artificial intelligence research, outlaw companies like OpenAI, and destroy all existing research.

1. It creates mass automation that removes purpose

Artificial intelligence like DALL-E or ChatGPT can, or will gain the ability in the near future to overtake humans in most creative disciplines. Of course, it is unlikely that it will approach the best human art. However, it will get close enough, and it is cheap enough that it will certainly replace most human creative functions even though its output quality is worse.

This is bad because people fundamnetally like to feel useful by trading their skills for other skills. It is a fundamental instinct of human beings.

Researchers are proponents of artificial intelligence often like to say that AI will still need humans to guide it, but that is just at first. Later, fewer and fewer humans will be needed. Moreover, the ones that are needed will hardly do anything creative. At some point, AI will no longer need humans.

Some people also say that AI may never equal humans in the creation of beauty, so that the best art will still be the domain of humans. That may also be true, but AI does not have to equal humans to take over their jobs. It only has to be cheaper than humans and do the job of the majority of humans as well as they can to cause societal disruption.

This does a few things:

  1. Concentrates even more wealth in the hands of tech companies and programmers, who are already receiving a disproportionate share of wealth
  2. Makes it impossible or difficult for people to enter creative work. Humans fundamentally need to feel useful in society and by removing creative work as an option, there is hardly anything fulfilling left to do
  3. Creates a world where humans have to rely on each other so little that we will stop caring for others

2. It creates a potential, unstoppable adversary

AI and computers have the potential to be very “smart” even if they are not sentient. They may deceive us as an emergent phenomenon, even if we cannot ascribe human intent to them. As a result, AI will continually shape humanity to serve its needs.

Again, AI does not have to be truly intelligent (whatever that means) to do this. Harmful acts against humanity do not require sentience, but just emergent phenomenon of technology as an organism. Bacteria do not require sentience to decompose dead animals.

3. It creates a world of confusion

Many search engines and content on the internet will be generated by AI, and some already has been. While we know how to interact with humans, our fundamental instincts will make it impossible to interact with AI and understand the information produced by it.

Soon, the internet will be filled with plausible-sounding garbage, and since there is no human motivation behind producing those falsehoods, it will be much harder to detect. Consider a Business Insider article, which says “[a] scammer reportedly used AI to clone a girl’s voice in an attempt to get money from her mother.”

AI will be used for intense psychological manipulation by the narcissistic wealthy 0.1% and criminals to subjugate us into a new era of slavery.

4. It is dehumanizing

In a world with AI, we will have to interact with it at every level: calling customer support, ordering food at a restaurant, and even being represented by a lawyer.

AI will directly remove human interaction from most levels of society because it is cheaper. Thus, it will be almost impossible to meet new people or to make friends, except on carefully-monitored online platforms where you exchange a few words with other humans just so you don’t starve from human contact completely.

The goal of tech companies is to remove human connection and replace it with drip-fed “human concentrate”, similar to how patients in hospitals get a drip IV instead of eating normal food and drinking water.

5. It will create a dystopia

Fundamentally, humans need a purpose in life. Of course, no one wants to work a crappy job, and AI will eliminate that. But humans need to strive for something, and sometimes even a crappy job can be a stepping stone to a nice job.

Technology has already removed a fundamental need of working for our food and shelter directly, and AI will remove any last trace of that requirement. This will be especially bad for teenagers, who will not be able to find that first summer job.

This will result in a dystopia where we are constantly plugged into the machine and we are removed from our fundamental connection with nature and wildlife. This dystopia will be a horrifying place where we have to plug into Big Tech constantly to do anything.

6. It removes responsibility

Humans have a fundamental need to feel responsible for something. For example, I am responsible for paying my bills, and for keeping myself fed. Other people might be responsible for their children.

Do you think technology will stop at its current point? No. Soon, it will be “better” at raising children than you are, and it will become so good that it will provide for all our needs, turning us into children who can never grow up, consuming media by the day to keep ourselves from going crazy.

A lot of people think the idea of being cared for like a child and having unlimited free time is a utopia, but it is not. Once AI reaches that level, it might seem good at first but the cracks will start to show in what we have made.

People will start showing eerie symptoms of maladjustment. Our brains simply can’t cope with this illusory utopia; it is a dystopia. People will go crazy and the only remedy will be mind-altering drugs. We are like children who have not yet learned about a good diet and who have unrestricted access to the cookie jar. Yes, the cookies taste good but eating a jar every day will eventually make us fat.

Of course, not everyone will reach a stage of having all their needs provided for by technology. But the fact that quite a few people will, and a disproportionate amount of them will be unusually rich and powerful, will mean that we will have a lot of very powerful, grown up “children” running around, looking for their next amusement. (Rich people are somewhat already like this, but AI will enhance their capabilities and make them far more dangerous.)

Conclusion

AI is an offense to humanity. It is disgusting for the reasons I listed and for many more. I am appalled that technology companies and revolted by anyone who contributes one line of code to any AI system.

If we want to remain human, we should learn extremely quickly that AI is dangerous and should be destroyed. Companies like OpenAI and Microsoft and others should be banned from using advanced AI and machine learning should not be taught at universities. Companies whose only product is AI should be dismantled. The allure of playing God is too great and we need to be mature enough to recognize this.

We should aim to reduce globalism, and by this I mean we should reduce global phenomenon by relying on global corporations less than we do now. Communities should be more self-sufficient instead of relying on imports from all over the world.

When I say this, I do not mean that imports are all bad but we have built such an interconnected system that local communities are no longer sustainable and they need to be part of a whole to function. Aside from robbing people of meaning in their lives, taking away their sustainability also robs them of having a standard of living that is simple and pure.

We should attempt to rely less on global companies. Their profits are too great and thus if they are faced with a decision that will degrade the environment and degrade society, they will not stop to consider the consequences because the money is too alluring. Global corporations push consumerism as well and create a system where the only ideas that flourish are the economically viable ones instead of the sustainable ones.

On an individual scale, you should remove your reliance on global corporations and complex technologies as much as possible. That could mean making your own clothes and buying local instead of imported food. Of course, reduction is great as well, and if you can reduce your consumption of products that are highly dependent on the global economy, that is also good.

Ideally, there should be speed limits on technological development to reduce globalism. For example, in the United States, buying a mass-produced t-shirt from China is sometimes cheaper than hiring a tailor to make you a shirt, even though China is about ten thousand kilometers away. But the cost of the Chinese-made shirt is so cheap because it is hidden in various places, not to mention that the environment also pays for your shirt from all the CO2 the cargo ship releases.

With “speed” limits, this would be impossible. Ivan Illich pointed this out in his book, Energy and Equity. If there were limits on the amount of shirts that could be transported at once, the amount of CO2 that could be released by such productions, and the amount of natural resources that could be plundered by raw materials extraction and building factories, then the ridiculous situation of buying a Chinese-made t-shirt could not be possible.

There should be limits on: the speed of the internet, the rate at which Apple and Google create new smartphones, the sizes of the data centers, and rate of consumption of fruits and vegetables from far away places. The news should have a limit on how many times they can update their websites, and farmers should have limits on their pesticide and industrial fertilizer use.

Limits would benefit everyone and reduce the extreme efficiency of globalism that is only possible do to our ability to take advantage of natural resources and destroy them. The ultimate limit would be a limit on human expansion and use of natural habitats, and beyond that limit we would not be able to use more.

Of course, implementing these limits may be hard, but you can already create these limits in your own life. It will actually be a good thing because you will live more simply and be less encumbered by possessions as well. For example, you can limit the amount of clothes you own, the size of your house, and how much water you use. I myself have pledged to not buy any new clothes for at least five years with the exception of shoes. I also like to limit myself to local fruits and vegetables when I can.

We should do everything we can to fight globalism and global corporations.

Unlike most websites, I do not track my visitors. I did have a stats plugin recently to see which posts were the most popular, but I figured there was no point in that so I deleted it. Of course, I can still view server logs to see fairly anonymous requests like every website, but I don’t see anything beyond some IP addresses and I rarely look at those anyway.

In short, there are no cookies, tracking, or collection of personal data on this website. You can check out my list of plugins I use for wordpress:

I only have three: the Akismet plugin to filter out spam comments, the classic editor because the WordPress Gutenberg editor is an abomination, and the WordPress Importer, in case I need to import some posts.

The best way to leave your mark here is to leave a comment, and you don’t need to be signed up to some junk service like Disqus or Facebook (one of the worst websites in existence, and one for which I’ve never had an account) to do so.

This website doesn’t get too many hits, but I’m actually happy about that. I’m not trying to create entertainment or tendy topics here. However, if you’re concerned about how technology is taking over the world and making it worse, this is a pretty good place to start.

As you know, technology and climate change are intricately linked. Thus, I’ve decided to write more about climate change. I’ve also started making some videos on climate change. There’s a bit of an internal battle inside me because I don’t like YouTube much but I do believe it’s a good way to reach people. I’m not sure if the net effect is positive because I’m supporting Google by using their platform, and the world would probably be better off if Google never existed. Nevertheless, we are stuck with what we have so click here to view my video on climate change in the Congo Basic in Africa.

Note: I don’t embed videos into my blog because I think Google can track you with it. Therefore, you need to click on the link to watch it on YouTube. However, this is not truly mandatory because I will just write about it here later, so you can stay tuned for the written version.

I used to have a 9-5, full-time job and this year I quit. The reasons I quit are somewhat complex but I think it’s fair to say that aside from getting money, it was a complete waste of time in the sense that I wasn’t learning anything I cared to learn, nor was I using any aspect of my intelligence or passion to do anything. I also felt that the whole objective of my job was mainly to keep society going as it always has been: keeping our economy growing and destroying ecosystems in the process.

I do not plan to work any 9-5 jobs or any jobs for corporations ever again. I also think more people should think about doing the same, and instead find ways to be more self-sufficient by growing your own food and doing other similar things. By doing this, you will consume less, and thereby contribute less to our consumerist, capitalistic system that is destroying the environment.

Here I’ve compiled some basic tips that you can use to get started:

1. Forget about the typical lifestyle

If you go away from the norm, you probably won’t be able to buy a house that costs half a million dollars or go on expensive vacations very often. That’s just something you have to accept if you’re going to do something different. Unless of course you’re rich, but if you are, you probably won’t care to read this article.

2. Save up some money when you are working

If you are smart, get a well-paying job for a few years and save up some cash. For better or worse, you will need some start-up money to become independent. After a few years, hopefully you’ll have enough money and then just quit.

3. Learn to do more things manually without technology

Recently, my wife and I have started to wash clothes by hand, and so there’s no need for an expensive device like a washing machine. I’ve also learned that unless you eat meat regularly, a refrigerator ins’t really necessary either.

4. Move somewhere cheap

It goes without saying that your biggest expense will be finding a place to live to call your own. Find a cheap place out of the way and buy it. Research some areas first so you’ll know how much money you’ll need, and then once you have enough, you can quit your job.

5. Find alternative sources of income

It’s difficult to find a decent, sustainable source of income. I’d recommend creating some courses on Udemy, writing some books, etc. You’ll probably still need some money to live. You will have to “work” a lot as well but unlike a 9-5 job, you can actually do something that you’re interested in instead of serving the irrelevant needs of your boss and some faceless corporation.

6. Have the goal of being self-sustainable

Your ultimate goal should be to become self-sustainable. If you grow your own food and own a small property that is mostly or completely off-grid, you won’t need much money. Find cheap hobbies and contemplate the meaning of life, while propagating ideas on how to do something different than just greasing the wheels of our consumerist society.

Keep in mind that the whole purpose of doing so is to live at peace with our biosphere and not destroy it.