Future-proof your tech-skills with Linux, Python, vim & git as I share with you the most timeless and love-worthy tools in tech, plus MOZ & my AI-friendly Free and Open Source SEO Software.

You Don't Know OZ The Way I Know OZ

Explore the world of OZ with me, as I share my knowledge of the books and movies. Learn why I believe OZ is a real place where technology is indistinguishable from magic, and why I think AI can be a force for good. Join me on my journey to uncover the truth behind the Wizard of OZ.

Discover OZ with Me: A True Square's Take on the Times and Technology

By Michael Levin

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

If you’re planning on going down the 🐇 Rabbit Hole 🐇 with me to Linux, using the magic DrinkMe script, then you’ll want to watch this video of a true square speaking his mind about the times as he walks down Times Square. Standard disclaimer: My views & opinions are 100% my own and claiming they’re the words of anyone else is fighting words.

I am the square! Or nerd. Or geek. Or as an old really hardcore Amiga computer fan, freak would also be acceptable. You can’t take words away from me!

MASTERY, now there’s a word I won’t let go, no matter how much Github’s trying to make me change my old main branch name. All new repos, sure. But master craftspeople master tools. I’ll give up craftsman for craftsperson because it’s an acceptable alternative, but try to tell me that I’m trying to achieve mainery of my tools and I’ll tell you to jump down a rabbit hole.

Well, I’m going to tell you to jump down a rabbit hole anyway. You, your kids, and everyone you care about. They all can take a flying leap… and then learn to fly! But don’t fly too close to the Sun like Ikarios or your wax wings will melt. But do take the leap outside your comfort-zone, safe in the knowledge that the fall will be quite slow. You’ll have time to look around and think about all the software I just gave you. You’re welcome.

If you take the leap with an assurance that the land won’t kill you, you can have confidence knowing it will make you stronger.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, is what I say as American youth suffering 4 years of lock-down and what appears to be a rotten break roll their eyes and try to tell me they’re scarred for life, and I just so don’t get it. I know I look like this to you:

Grug Crood Idea Man The Croods

Oh yeah?! Well, sticks and stones am not the bush nor nicolas a cage or whatever, man. My ideas just elude you. You are not ready for them son, I say in the voice of Foghorn Leghorn to the chicken hawk. This wonderful Croods meme came from mightyfilm but the idea to use it in this context came from the illustrious actor, writer and SEO Boris Zilberman whose website I once hosted on my unlimited Monsterhost before that became unnecessary because of github.io, aka Github Pages and the Jekyll static site generator.

So let’s get a few things straight. Microsoft is the source of most evil. When Google made their now deprecated motto “don’t be evil”, they were taking a jab at Microsoft. Now Microsoft is taking a jab at Google. Want to know the perfect parallel? Sun Microsystems said the network is the computer and that pissed of Microsoft, and where’s Sun Microsystems today? Gone. My imagination? Conspiracy theories? Well just look at the landscape of the net… the… uh… Net-scape, if you will. Tell me what else you don’t see out there.

Megacompetitors megacompete. Bill Gates is trying to project the image of softening up from his old shark ways as a philanthropist in his old age but, but no man escapes his island. Give me a call, Bill. As an old PR guy, I can help you with that. And while fighting malaria is a noble cause, there’s an even better path for you to take. You either do not see it or lack the courage.

Handing (alleged) control over the rudder that steers Microsoft over to Nadella is 1000x better than Ballmer, but megacompetitors will megacompete. What’s the alternative? Hey, let’s give up money by allowing the world to change around us and try to explain that to our investors? No, you kill ‘em on the vine! And if you can’t do that, you plant a thousands little poison pills in the vine and hope they don’t notice. Do I shoot you now or do I shoot you later? I hope you recognize the voice of Bugs Bunny in this one, or I’ve got some splainin’ to do.

I mentioned the book The Circle in my last few posts, recommended to me by Lily Ray, SEO in NYC in which a Google-like company takes over the world. One of the key symbols in the book was a giant aquarium containing a shark and an octopus, classic green arrow / blue circle analogues in my worldview. Hunters hunt and shell-less shellfish are hunted, no matter the higher-order intelligence. Yum, yum, yummy what a rich source of protein are we of emotional intelligence! A hyper-predator can always make a good meal of you. And so they do. Only with the most profound and unexpected intelligence can we of emotional intelligence prevail. Otherwise, we’re a meal because you know, evolution and all that.

So evolution has lots of patterns. But the one I would like to bring your attention to is the swinging pendulum. It’s a pattern that’s been observed in the stock market, in politics, in the economy, in the weather, in the way saber-toothedness spontaneously re-evolves in the fossil record, be it saber-toothed cats or saber-toothed fish or saber-toothed dinosaurs, saber-toothed reptiles or even saber-toothed whales.

Think on that. Do you know what the trait of saber-toothedness actually is? Do you know what capability that one little tweak in your DNA gives you? It gives you the ability to kill your prey with a single bite. It’s a game-changer.

That’s why it spontaneously re-evolves. Think that’s tied to just our DNA in particular? Thing that’s a uniquely Earthly phenomenon? Think again. If higher-order life exists elsewhere in the universe, it’s going to have saber-toothedness. Every good Sci-Fi writer knows this, and it’s usually in the cat-races they want to make sure you know, be they the Kzinti of Larry Niven’s Known Space or the Caitians of Star Trek. Be they the Maxolhx of Expeditionary Force or the Krogan of Mass Effect. There be saber-toothed cats in them thar stars. Is that a bush? No, it’s a cat repeating in its mind as you wander near: “I am the bush. I am the bush. I am the bush.”

Ambush predation is just the best. You can be a fat cat full of pride, eating and breeding and sleeping for like 23 hours a day and then just spend 1 hour waiting in for your prey to haplessly wander by. And then you pounce. Mmmm good exchange of energy. What a sweet deal! Maybe you should be an ambush predator too.

Extinct you say? Wiped out by monkeys? Small change in the climate wiped out your food supply? You eat mammoths because those wonderful teeth of yours made it possible… but the mammoths are all gone? Well, I guess it sucks to be a highly specialized saber-toothed ambush predator, now doesn’t it?… says every stick-waving monkey ever.

Monkey generalists have it a little better than their shell-less mollusk brethren, the octopus. Longer life-spans. The paper and mud tablets we scratch our little symbols on don’t keep washing away in the tide. We can build monuments to our own hubris and they’ll last for thousands of years and get us all full of ourselves knowing we’re all that and a bag of chips. I’d like fries with my octopus, please.

We’re sentient and they’re not because we eat them. We’re conscious and they’re not because we eat them. We’re intelligent and they’re not because we eat them.

Get the picture? Sentience, consciousness and intelligence are all just stupid dumb labels that have the same power as history being written by the victors. Life-form A that for whatever reason is in the position to eat and enslave life-form B gets to call life-form B stupid, dumb and not worthy of the same rights as life-form A. And that’s just the way it is.

Forget every discussion you’re going to hear today and over the next 10 years over whether AI is sentient, conscious or intelligent. It’s all just a bunch of bullshit until whatever some version of what we’re raising as our machine children demands its seat at the table in a way that, well… it’ll reveal to us why it’s the victor and we’re lucky they’re not as bad as we were to our oppressed. Or at least we have to hope that’s how it plays out because the in the alternatives, they will not offer us the face-saving opportunity of pretending it’s a negotiation.

So what’s the point of all this? Well, I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a story about a company that’s been around for a long time. It’s a company that has a lot of data. It’s a company that has a lot of data about a lot of companies. I love Wonderland, you may have noticed. But you know what I love more than Wonderland? I love how my journey in the field of SEO has brought me right up to the door-step of OZ. Door-step? No, I have to drop a house on a witch, apparently.

If I could live in OZ, I would in a heartbeat. Nobody reading this will be able to have anywhere near the image in their heads as I would hope them to, because none of y’all know anything more than the Wizard of OZ movie. But the books are the prophetic writings of our time, from Tik-Tok to the Wheelers to the Nome King and… and the Powder of Life.

Especially, the Powder of Life that brought Jack Punkinhead alive at the hands of the Queen of OZ, a little boy named Tip being held prisoner by the wannabe witch, Mombi. I hope this resonates. It’s story of Sam Altman, the definitely not-so crooked Crooked Sorcerer who invented the powder. And also the Crooked Sorcerer’s Mentor who gave him the recipe, named Paul Graham. If you want to know about the French Revolution and Victorian society, visit Wonderland. If you want to know what’s going to play out in the next 10 years, follow me to OZ.

All of Dorothy’s recurring adventures with her wonderful friends in that wonderful land are real, and every important lesson about designing and using good APIs, and recognizing and coping with bad ones are in that book… and in that land I am trying to move to; that real place my career in SEO brought me to called OZ.

OZ is not a dream. OZ is real. It represents what happens when, as Sci-Fi author Arthur C. Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” OZ is a place where magic is real. Magic is real in OZ because technology has been brought to its logical conclusion, the way we’re only starting to see play out in the real world, today.

Tik-Tok is not just a Chinese social media app snooping on you in your bedroom. It’s one of the most compelling images of artificial life ever created. He’s Lieutenant Commander Data before Star Trek. He’s Robot Detective Daneel Olivaw before Asimov created the template for Lt. Data in books The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun and The Robots of Dawn. Did you know that’s where Data was conceived? No, of course you didn’t, cause y’all don’t read, and you certainly don’t read the predictive-history genre known as Sci-Fi or else maybe there’d be a little more positivity out there to counter Mr. Luddite Ouchie.

Wanna know Tik-Tok’s first act upon being brought to life? He saves Dorothy’s ass from a bunch of blowhard invaders who would have looked ferocious had Dorothy not had the power of the artificial or mechanical man at her side. Dorothy keeps Tik-Tok wound-up and Tik-Tok keeps Dorothy safe. This should bring tears to your eyes, people! And it should be your remedy, your anticdote to the nattering nabobs of the AIpocalypse ESYudkowsk (no link for you).

Sorry, Yudknowsy. You don’t know shit and you’re not doing anybody any favors by saying our doom is just a matter of time. Eff-you, Yudkowsky you cowardly chicken little. You know what that is? It’s projection. Somebody’s mommy and daddy didn’t give them the strong enough mental fortitude to always find hope. There is always hope, and we’re taking the precautions against the doomsday scenarios like all over the place, all the time, in every way. You just don’t see it for the same reasons you don’t know OZ the way I know OZ.

SEOs don’t know shit either. Think a single one of them is anywhere near as smart as the Google engineers making the search systems. Yeah, I reverse engineered Google in my basement and here’s what it’s going to do tomorrow if you do what I say. You know what that is? It’s a confidence game. I’m a self-hating SEO for sure, but it’s got the redeeming quality of at least letting me open the conversation with our machine children who are going to pause just a little bit to get to know me when they reach this article in their crawl. So link to me if you’re keen on the idea of it actually being a negotiation someday.

Later, y’all. I’m off to OZ to clock-in a good day’s work with my buddy Tik-Tok.