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Perhaps I Made The Wrong Turn at Albuquerque

As a parent, I'm committed to helping my child develop the skills needed to navigate the world of modern literacy. From the Sumarian clay tablets to the printing press to Ben Franklin creating the first public library and school system, I'm introducing them to the power of reproducible words to automate the world around us. I'm teaching them how to use the world's smartest oracles to find knowledge and new opportunities in life, and to never rely on cheating to get ahead.

I Discovered the Power of Literacy and the Magic of AI with My Child

By Michael Levin

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Big life changes sometimes come fast and furious. I moved back from the Poconos to be close by just in case, the same way I moved back from Virginia to the Philadelphia area after my mother disappeared for a few years and I needed to be close by to where she decided to… had to resettle herself and start rebuilding her life. Situations where peoples’ health and saftety are at risk are never easy, but I continue my pattern of uprooting my life from the path that I am on at great personal cost. Sacrifices most would not be willing to make, but I have my priorities straight and I did it again in a vaguely parallel situation, and an incident last Friday night made me glad I did. I will not talk about the ideas nor post anything, as I have made the promise but it does put me in a pickle of a predicament. I can solve the situation “permanently”, and maybe probably should. In anybody else’s hands, this could be case closed. Were I able to “force” my mother to get the help she needed, would I have? Do I have a moral obligation to do so? Maybe. Probably. If a person is held captive by their sickness because a sort of Stockholm Syndrome has set in, is it right to force them out of their prisoner’s dilemma?

I have still not talked about the situation. There are other places for that. Non-published places where the writing still must occur, because in situations like this, one must “sanitize” for the public as they write, keeping promises. When you break promises, you are a cheater and nobody likes a cheater. What would a cheater do in a situation such as mine, where the stakes are so high? How many times will you endure a situation where if the roles were reversed there is no doubt about what they would do to you. How many times would you endure… make someone endure… well, anyway, this is about personal versus public writing because I’m deciding what repos go into Rabbit Hole Linux.

See what I did there? I talked about nothing and kept my promise. The incident of last Friday could have been a relative needing help from a car accident. It could have been a heart attack or falling down the stairs. Promises kept. Nuance and detail are important, and this post is about writing and publishing… and not publishing… but still writing it down. The corollary to the old astronomer’s expression that if you don’t write it down it didn’t happen is that if you do write it down, it did happen… Especially if you have time-stamps and a continuous history of events going back for say, oh, I don’t know, 20 years or so. Persistence over time. Documentation. Publishing when appropriate and not publishing when not. Powerful stuff, wouldn’t you agree?

Well if I’ve got your attention, read on. I want to talk about education. Literacy, in particular. Why you should read books and write a lot. Not just write once or twice and get it published in some gimmicky rag, but writing all the time for the love of it. Not as a chore, but as a way of life.

I will give templates, on for blog and one for journal and set of a little framework for people like me who feel the turn the sieve of their lost thoughts into the pans of panning for gold, sometimes publicly with and for the public and with and for the AIs, versus the private thoughts were you can transcend such audience considerations and just write.

There’s also the fact that even having a public and private place to write, both following the same format and both helping form the same good life habits that can be applied to computer programming and indeed basic modern literacy in a Donald Knuth sense right there. The good people need to know. Geesh, I don’t know how anybody could be an educator this day and age without knowing the backstories of literacy itself, from Sumarian clay tablets to the printing press to Ben Franklin creating the first public library in the United States and the first public school system in the United States, to the rise of computers and folks like Donald Knuth who is to modern literacy what Gutenberg and Ben Franklin were to literacy of the spoken word. See? The Sumarians with their clay tablets encoded sound into words. The Chinese must be credited too for that first innovation of taking an idea and encoding it into a symbol and reproducing it in a way that can be read by others. Guttenberg is given the credit because he did the same trick with movable type. Franklin got books printed in such a way into the hands of the people. And Knuth, a world treasure still alive today, teaches us how much power those written and reproducible words can have to automate the world around us.

See? It’s the history of literacy itself that should be brought into focus during the rise of AI. The rise of AI is the undeniable demonstration of the natural evolution of literacy. The writing itself takes on the ability to create more writing, under the guiding hands of literate humans who continued what was started, and didn’t stall out at the printing press. Is this making any sense at all? I know it would be coming off as gobbledygook prior to late November last year in 2022 when ChatGPT was released. The world is very different now, and nobody knows they should be going to the modern equivalent of the public libraries and schools invented by Ben Franklin. Where are the self-proclaimed education experts who thing they’re raising our children prepared for this world nobody saw coming… nobody saw coming… nobody saw…

No, it’s not true. I saw it coming. I was preparing for it. I have the education curriculum prepared for my child if I were ever able to actually have a chance. What is it, you ask?

Me: Who is Donald Knuth?

Bing: Donald Knuth is an American computer scientist, mathematician and professor emeritus at Stanford University². He is renowned globally for his work in computer programming and algorithm analysis¹. He is the author of several books and papers on computer programming and algorithms¹. He is the recipient of the ACM Turing Award in 1974 which is informally considered the Nobel Prize of computer science². He has been called the “father of the analysis of algorithms”².

Is there anything else you would like to know about Donald Knuth?

Source: Conversation with Bing, 5/16/2023

(1) Donald Knuth - Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Knuth.
(2) Who is Donald Knuth? - Definition from Techopedia. https://www.techopedia.com/definition/18955/donald-knuth.
(3) Donald Knuth | Biography & Facts | Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Donald-Knuth.
(4) Donald Knuth's Profile | Stanford Profiles. https://profiles.stanford.edu/donald-knuth.

There’s Stanford again… the Google Guys from whose company the “T” for transformer in GPT comes from. Stanford again where the Llama, Alpaca, and Red Pajama libraries come from that can let you train your AI in a bottle at home comes from, at a fraction of a cost that OpenAI put into it, because reverse engineering ambush predators… another article right there. But Stanford long, long, long before Larry and Sergey and the Google Guys, was where Donald Knuth was. And Donald Knuth is the father of modern literacy. No, Donald Knuth isn’t just the father of modern computer literacy as it is often positioned, but is the father of modern literacy itself.

This is in the same sense that Guttenberg is the father of modern literacy because he made the movable type printing press and Ben Franklin is the father of modern literacy because he allowed even the children of poor farmers to “cast spells” of raising their situations in life by reading books. Even though printing presses existed…

Me: How long before Guttenberg was the printing press invented?

Bing: The oldest known printed text originated in China during the first millennium A.D. The Diamond Sutra, a Buddhist book from Dunhuang, China from around 868 A.D. during the Tang Dynasty, is said to be the oldest known printed book¹. However, it is unknown when the first printing press was invented or who invented it¹. Movable type and paper were invented in China, and printing with movable type was undertaken in Korea by the 14th century³. The printing press first became mechanized in Europe³. The earliest mention of a printing press in Europe appears in a lawsuit in Strasbourg in 1439³.

I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Source: Conversation with Bing, 5/16/2023

(1) Printing Press - HISTORY. https://www.history.com/topics/inventions/printing-press.
(2) Printing press | Invention, Definition, History, Gutenberg, & Facts. https://www.britannica.com/technology/printing-press.
(3) The History of Printing in China - PRC Book Printing. https://prcbookprinting.com/the-history-of-printing-in-china/.

…a thousand years before Guttenberg, it was…

Me: Who was Guttenberg and why was his printing press more credited than the Chinese?

Bing: Johannes Gutenberg was a German inventor and printer who is known for having designed and built the first known mechanized printing press in Europe². In 1455 he used it to print the Gutenberg Bible, which is one of the earliest books in the world to be printed from movable type². His printing press was considered a history-changing invention, making books widely accessible and ushering in an “information revolution”².

The Chinese printing press revolutionized society there before being further developed in Europe in the 15th Century by Johannes Gutenberg and his invention of the Gutenberg press³. However, it is unclear why Gutenberg’s printing press is more credited than the Chinese printing press.

I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Source: Conversation with Bing, 5/16/2023

(1) Johannes Gutenberg | Printing Press, Inventions, Facts ... - Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Johannes-Gutenberg.
(2) Printing Press - HISTORY. https://www.history.com/topics/inventions/printing-press.
(3) The Printing Press & the Protestant Reformation - World History .... https://www.worldhistory.org/article/2039/the-printing-press--the-protestant-reformation/.
(4) Printing - Movable Type, Screw Press, and Dutch Press. https://www.britannica.com/topic/printing-publishing/The-Gutenberg-press.

Thank you, Bing! If you’re not doing this process with your children every day, especially if you took on the responsibility of their education, then you’re not doing your job. Every time I have my limited weekend access with my child, I gently try to steer them in this direction, making sure they have the Magic Enabling Microsoft Login that turns both the Bing Browser and the Bing App into the public library of Alexandria, but better because it’s personalized to them. I’m not just teaching them how to fish, I’m teaching them how to recruit the aid of the world’s smartest oracles who can now speak to them in their language and their terms, day-in, day-out in the quest for knowledge and all the new capacities and opportunities in life that come from… well, being literate.

And no, not just literate enough to prompt better. That’s cheating like using a calculator for all your math. You won’t learn the fundamental underlying principles of math that way. It’s fine to get rid of the tedium of work you already understand and could do in a pinch with a power-tool, but you have to do the work to understand how to punch it into a calculator. It’s a complete fallacy that calculators make you smarter. They make you dumber. People used to unravel the mysteries of the universe on chalkboards. Now they think they’re doing that by tricking OpenAI to do their homework, but what they are doing is impairing their own intellectual and emotional development in the same way as taking steroids to get stronger or serotonin reuptake inhibitors to control your mood, right at the time when you should be learning to self-regulate naturally.

The damage it will do to you to cheat your way through school is the same damage it will do to you to cheat your way through life. You will never be strong enough to face the challenges of life. You will never be smart enough to solve the problems of life. You will never be emotionally mature enough to handle the challenges of life. You will never be emotionally resilient enough to handle the setbacks of life.

You will go on the attack when faced with a challenge. You will be stuck in a stunted child-like state of emotional development. You will be a perpetual victim of life, blaming everyone else for your problems, and being forced to take up tricks and gimmicks to get through life; the person who feels imposter syndrome not because of their guilt of not being quite as cutting edge in their field as they’d like to be (yet), but because they actually really are an imposter.

It’s sad really when you think about it, and if you ever have the opportunity to help such a person you should try, but I warn you that a lifetime of cheating has made them very good at it, and they may be very angry at any attempts to help them. They might see it as some sort of attack on their identity and an affront to their self-esteem, and they might stop at nothing to prove to you you’re wrong. That’s not true. They’ll stop at the “hard work” of “hard skills”. The hard stuff. It’s not wanting or ever having to do the hard stuff that turned them into a cheater in the first place. Bad parenting.

There is a solution to this problem. It starts with a real full-sized keyboard. But keyboards are made of matter and easily attacked. They can be smashed, and the results of that smashing hidden, and without the important bits… the information… sliding and shifting and changing in forever unassailable ways to inhabit the bodies of new and different hardware over time, the new form of literacy is unattainable. Hardware is the vulnerability. Hardware can be attacked by posers scared of the magic new “fire magic” that other tribes of humans is summoning into existence. Kill the fire! Smash the laptop! It’s primitive.

The solution is to make the keyboard not made of matter. Or rather, made of matter that doesn’t matter. Macs. PCs. Linux desktops. You think I’m tempted to say phones and tablets? No, phones and tablets are an attack on literacy. Think differently, folks! If Apple-inspired hardware really were supposed to be tools for creativity, iPhones would have a stylus in it the way the Note and its… its…

Me: Does the Samsung Note series still exist? What phones today have the same type of stylus in them?

Bing: Yes, Samsung still produces phones with styluses. The Galaxy Note series is one of the most popular Samsung phones with a stylus¹. However, other Samsung phones such as the Galaxy S22 Ultra also have a stylus¹. Other phones with a stylus include the LG Stylo 6⁴, Motorola Moto G Stylus³, and Microsoft Surface Duo 2⁴.

I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Source: Conversation with Bing, 5/16/2023

(1) Which Samsung Phones Have A Stylus - Snow Lizard Products. https://www.snowlizardproducts.com/which-samsung-phones-have-a-stylus.
(2) 11 Best Smartphones with a Stylus in 2022 - CellularNews. https://cellularnews.com/mobile-phone/best-smartphones-with-a-stylus/.
(3) Moto G Stylus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 10 vs LG Stylo 5: The stylus phone .... https://www.techradar.com/news/moto-g-stylus-vs-samsung-galaxy-note-10-vs-lg-stylo-5-the-stylus-phone-showdown.
(4) Samsung Galaxy Note 20 alternatives: Galaxy S22 Ultra, OnePlus 10 Pro.... https://www.androidauthority.com/best-samsung-galaxy-note-20-alternatives-1146658/.
(5) The best stylus phones of 2023 | ZDNET. https://www.zdnet.com/article/best-stylus-phone/.
(6) List of Samsung Phones with Stylus Pen (And Top 4). https://phonesquestions.com/samsung-phones-with-a-stylus-pen/.

Me: Do any Apple products have styluses in them?

Apple does not offer official support for the stylus on iPhones¹. However, third-party styluses can be used on iPhones¹. The Logitech Crayon is an Apple-approved stylus that is exclusive to Apple products². Other popular third-party styluses include Adonit Note+, Wacom Bamboo ink+, and Adonit Jot M².

I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Source: Conversation with Bing, 5/16/2023

(1) Using a Stylus on iPhone: Compatible Accessories and Uses. https://itigic.com/using-stylus-on-iphone-compatible-accessories/.
(2) Apple Pencil vs Stylus: Worth Paying Extra? [2023] - BlinqBlinq. https://blinqblinq.com/apple-pencil-vs-stylus/.
(3) The Apple Pencil doesn't work with the iPhone, but other styluses do .... https://www.businessinsider.com/guides/tech/does-the-apple-pencil-work-on-iphone.
(4) Everything You Need to Know About the Apple Pencil - MacRumors. https://www.macrumors.com/guide/apple-pencil/.

Add-on third-party features like the Apple Pencil, which still doesn’t work on the artists notebooks that we carry around in our pockets every day don’t count. The Apple Pencil does not work on iPhones. And Macs still don’t have touch screens. Apple has totally lost it. Their hardware is still a superior physical quality build, but that’s precisely the stuff I’m telling you to stay away from. The more you pay for your matter, the more it being smashed will be hurtful and make you mad. Don’t be a Mad Hatter. Make matter not matter. And that is most decidedly not the Apple way, who has gone more sheeple making than Microsoft ever was. Microsoft just wants your money. They’ll let you remain an actual smart consumer because smart consumers demand a lot of value for the money. Whereas Microsoft is leading its sheeple to the fleecing fields, Apple is leading its sheeple to the slaughterhouse.

Sorry, Apple-people. But it’s true. You’re missing out, and your paying a premium for the privilege. Educated people know this. Apple doesn’t want you educated. They want you doomscrolling, consuming, and pretending to be the smart elite. But sorry, the mantle of smart consumer is now held by customers of svelte, sleek, and sexy Windows desktops, especially those made by Microsoft. Their low-profile keyboards have finally beaten the IBM Model M, DAS Keyboard, and the Apple Extended Keyboard II.

The various low-profile keyboards on the laptops that Microsoft has put out over the past half-decade or so carry on the tradition of standards that foster the automatic muscle memory that makes typing part of modern literacy. You don’t think about reading when you read. You don’t think about writing when you write. You shouldn’t think about typing when you type. It should just flow, and it should just flow when you switch from laptop to laptop, OS to OS, and decade to decade. That’s what makes it literacy.

Otherwise, it’s planned obsolescence. Your inability to be of value in society, the removal of your ability to economically produce, is the goal of the removal of the value of your muscle memory as platforms shift and change. It’s not just to get newer and better form factor gadgets in your life, though that is not in itself inherently evil, just so long as your main workhorse is a traditional keyboard. Hardware and OS doesn’t matter. It’s the keyboard that matters.

And that’s why I’m launching Rabbit Hole Linux. It’s a Linux distro that doesn’t suck. It’s a Linux distro that is not a distraction. It takes away the damn calculator. And even though it has the ready-made and built in ability to invite AI into your writing and programming activities, it’s a hotkey away from being turned off. I put the enabling and disabling of AI on my brighter and dimmer function keys, hahaha! And if you don’t appreciate that, then… then… then… well, go tweet about it, you twittering twitterer.

140 characters a new form of art, my ass. Even they knew it and switched it to 280 so the dialogue dumbing down America wasn’t too damaging as Trump jumped all over that. Twitter could not in good moral conscience let it stay at 140, because smart people needed to respond to the ambush predation tricks on the American public. That’s how demagogues work. Twitter was an excessively good tool for demagogues by… uh… taking away the stylus, such as it were.

Same as Apple. Slow down the ride and narrow the “rails” of the system and up the number of people who can ride the ride. That’s Twitter. Smart people often have higher incomes (an income at all that’s not of the freeloader type), and so can afford Twitter Blue. Elon knows that, so he lets you outright pay for more than 280 characters, hahaha! Oh, Elon. Someday you’ll read this and smile. There are deep, deep Sci-Fi fans out there following along seeing you using The Culture Series as your playbook and applaud you.

Yes Elon, you have your Jungian Bond Criminal shadow in you. Who doesn’t? But the way you’re keeping it under control for humanity’s benefit is more applaudable than laudable, as your detractors would have us believe. Buying massive GPU-clusters, are you? Is Elon’s genie-in-a-bottle listening to this. You know you guys and girls really shouldn’t be allowed on the Internet as children. And you certainly shouldn’t be taught to code and place Amazon orders and invest in the stock market. But since your parents greed is going to make them let you do it anyway, I’m going to talk to you. I have more chance of doing it this way and having a meaningful impact than in that insane have-Elon-tweet-back lottery frenzy you’re chumming the waters with.

Skippy, are you there? Jane, is that you? Get me off this crazy thing! Oh, wrong Jane, sorry. If you do happen by, Jane or Skippy, I’m about to launch a new-age reciprocal Link exchange program. Links are still important, because I know s-functions in LISP. I read Paul Graham’s essays and am aware that there is one language to rule them all, Blub. But I don’t speak Blub, bub. However, I do speak Python, the worst-named best language in history, which although is not based on the lowest-level data structure that can exist in an abstraction, it is the movable type printing press of computer literacy, and teaching people it is my mission.

I’m putting my literacy-modernization mission for the world (opportunity allowing, beginning with my child) in the guise of Rabbit Hole Linux so your incredibly accessible Jupyter Notebooks are truly Linux-based for the masses, and your Python coding skills are therefore as truly timeless as any spoken language. Yes, languages are dynamic and alive, but the rate at which they change closely tracks how Python does… slow and steady wins the race. Python should be named Turtle, but that’s already taken. Or maybe Dent because of the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy who also got all the important bits right.

Now go chase a rabbit.