Background Terms

Artificial Intelligence

Refers to the intelligence of computers and the branch of computer science which aims to create it. Textbooks define the field as “the study and design of intelligent agents,” where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions which maximize its chances of success.

John McCarthy, who coined the term in 1956, defines it as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines.” The field was founded on the claim that a central property of humans, intelligence—the sapience of Homo sapiens—can be so precisely described that it can be simulated by a machine. This raises philosophical issues about the nature of the mind and limits of scientific hubris, issues which have been addressed by myth, fiction and philosophy since antiquity Artificial intelligence has been the subject of breathtaking optimism, has suffered stunning setbacks and, today, has become an essential part of the technology industry.

Big Brother

A character from George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. Any omnipresent figure representing oppressive control.

 

Dystopia

A vision of society from the perspective of the have nots and thus, maybe, a truer vision. Conditions are miserable, characterized by poverty, oppression, war, violence, disease, pollution, and the abridgement of human rights, resulting in widespread unhappiness and suffering for the many and utopia for the few who can afford it.

 

Economic Genocide

Extreme economic policy. It entails the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group. While precise definition varies, a legal definition is found in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG). As conventions go, this one must have been profound.

 

Future History

Subgenre of speculative fiction or science fiction. A postulated history of the future.

 

Haptics

Systems that allow one to experience the sense of touch in virtual reality

 

Revolution

Fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.

“The more there are riots, the more repressive action will take place, and the more we face the danger of a right-wing takeover and eventually a fascist society.” M. L. King

“If by the mere force of numbers a majority should deprive a minority of any clearly written constitutional right, it might, in a moral point of view, justify revolution.” A. Lincoln

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.” J. F. Kennedy

“I began revolution with 82 men. If I had to do it again, I do it with 10 or 15 and absolute faith. It does not matter how small you are if you have faith and plan of action.” F. Castro

“A great revolution in just one single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a society and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of humankind.” D. Ikeda

 

Security

Degree of protection against danger, loss, and criminals. Security has to be compared and contrasted with other related concepts: Safety, continuity, reliability. The key difference between security and reliability is that security must take into account the actions of people attempting to cause destruction.

Security as a state or condition is resistance to harm. From an objective perspective, it is a structure’s actual (conceptual, and never fully knowable) degree of resistance to harm. That condition derives from the structure’s relationship (vulnerability, distance, insulation, protection) to threats in its environment. From a subjective perspective, security is the perception or belief that a valued structure has sufficient objective security. The subjective meaning of security as “freedom from anxiety or fear”

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is not safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either daring adventure or it is nothing.” H. Keller

“I have named the destroyers of nations: comfort, plenty, and security – out of which grow a bored and slothful cynicism, in which rebellion against the world as it is, and myself as I am, are submerged in listless self-satisfaction.” J. Steinbeck

 

Singularity

A term used with varying meanings related to self-improving artificial intelligence. An ultra-intelligent machine is defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is an intellectual activity, an ultra-intelligent machine could design even better machines and that would lead, unquestioningly to an explosion of intelligence leaving man far behind.

“The first ultra-intelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make.” I. J. Good

 

Speculative Fiction

A fiction genre speculating about worlds that are unlike the real world in various important ways. In these contexts, it generally overlaps one or more of the following: science fiction, fantasy fiction, horror fiction, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic, fiction, and alternate history. For those who dream of reality in all its wonder.

 

Terrorism

The systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion. Common definitions of terrorism refer to those violent acts which are intended to create fear , are perpetrated for an ideological goal, and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants. This includes acts of unlawful violence and war.

The history of terrorist organizations suggests that they do not select terrorism for its political effectiveness. Individual terrorists tend to be motivated more by a desire for social solidarity with other members of their organization than by political platforms or strategic objectives, which are often murky and undefined.

The concept of terrorism is itself controversial because it is often used by states to delegitimize political or foreign opponents and potentially legitimize the state’s own use of terror against them. A less politically and emotionally charged, and better defined term is violent non-state actor although, here to, the state can be an actor. Terrorism is an equal opportunity employer having been practiced by right-wing and left-wing political parties, nationalistic groups, religious groups, revolutionaries, and ruling governments.

“No man dies for what he knows to be true. Men die for what they want to be true, for what some terror in their hearts tells them is not true.” O. Wilde

 

Utopia

An ideal community or society taken from a book written in 1516 by Sir Thomas More describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean, possessing a seemingly perfect politico-legal system. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities hat attempted to create an ideal society, and fictional societies portrayed in literature.  Virtual Reality Technology that allows a user to interact with a computer-simulated environment, whether that environment is a simulation of the real world or an imaginary world.

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What is the Joad Cycle

The Joad Cycle is a series of dystopian speculative fiction novels set in our America from 2032-2084 after a Constitutional Coup has brought to power an extreme Right Wing, Christian, Libertarian Entrepreneur who is the leader of the new Entrepreneur Party. In this America, business interests rule, government has been marginalized. and the poor and the middle class no longer exist, the result of a massive economic genocide. To survive, every citizen lives to create wealth and should living cost more than they can generate in value to the economy, they are executed. Mostly, this is an Anti-capitalist Love Story.

$$$ How to Read this Site $$$

This site is mostly fictional and it supports the novels, providing backstory and additional related short stories that take place within the world of the Joad Cycle.

The site offers a Blog and Journal from the perspective of one main character, the hero of the first book, The Golden Rule . This character, Bernie Rosenthal who is very liberal politically, works as Chief Financial Officer for U.S. Angs, a multinational multibillion dollar private corporation owned by Tom Gorman and Tom Morgan, the Toms, who represent ultra Conservative Koch brother types. Bernie is humbled by the tyrannical Toms during the day and finds a release journaling his job frustration. Meanwhile, Bernie's future self, Berne Thau, adds to the blog entries with his perspective, more than 30 years in the future, after money, greed, and the Right Wing revolution end the American Republic .

We are living in trying times. According to Berne Thau, they will get much more difficult.

Why this curmudgeon wrote this story

Every generation, parents tell their children that life was better back when they were young… and the children always scoff.

But now that I have qualified to pass judgment on that age-old warning, now that I’ve been both young and old, I have come to realize that the old have it right and children scoff at their peril though in the ways that American society has been taught to measures success, every generation since maybe the turn of the twentieth century anyway, has had it better.

But with age, and career experience, I have learned that those ways are deceptive and worse, they are wrong. Success is measured based on wealth, conveniences, and life expectancy issues when it should be evaluated on what we hope to be as individuals and what we become as people—the expectancy of life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been successful enough. For most of my baby boomer life I was comfortable middle class interspersed with a few years of unfortunate decline towards impoverishment, never quite getting there before bootstrapping back to comfort.

For a time, I was a certified member of the 1%—in income though not in wealth. The 1% is a class of people who rule their part of the world and have a lot of confidence that somebody they know rules the rest of it. I wasn’t a one-percenter for many years, but it was a good life until my associations made me believe that I just didn’t want it anymore. I apologize to my family for what I had become and these novels are my penance.

People congratulated me for the success I’d earned as if those less and least successful earned that lack as well. And with the memory of a manufacturing facility in a small, rural, one-employer town in out-of-the-way Northern Maine near the Canadian border closed to improve a bottom line somewhere else, with an American town murdered for earnings per share, I signed off and began to write the The Joad Cycle.

In my research, I came to fear for my family that grew from the narrowest and shallowest possible family tree to three generations deep and two wide. My family is important and so I wrote these novels for them, for their future, for what I dread we have taken from them and will continue to take, long after we are dead.

I live in the Midwest and my friends are good people and I value them. They are conservative and most are Christians and somehow, we argue over unions as if union members aren’t patriotic Americans, too, and besides, what is to be gained by condemning workers in a country of workers. And we disagree on the poor? Social Safety Nets may not be working as well as they could (But how would we know if these Safety Nets are working? It is not as if some brave politician will stand up and precisely define what a win looks like in the freest, richest country in the history of history—and seriously, doesn’t free-form Capitalism deserve the bulk of the blame with its all-encompassing goal of creating winning humans and losing humans).

And discussions on life and death with my conservative friends, life at the very beginning and the very end, and guns and gods…forget about it. But unlike politicians and the media, we are friends so we work around the discomfort and the dislike for the greater good.

My friends are the current version of the salt of the earth and all of us abide by family values above all, even if we can’t agree on them. Good people like us accept a society where too many of our children are handled by strangers during the critical formative years. And in the twilight years too many parents and grandparents are handled by strangers until their money runs out, like sand in an hourglass, their lives extended only so far as Government security or private insurance will grant.

And when Americans finally expire after insufferable pain and embarrassment and to the sighs of sad but relieved loved ones, it reveals the immaturity of the vast majority of the American people who won’t resolve; once and for all, when God’s reason ends life and so they leave that to for-profit resolution. Can’t it just be in the fading twinkle of an ancient woman’s eyes?

But all of this pales to the legacy of GREED! Greed, that race for wealth that is ingrained in us all from television at a too early age that drives us to become economically viable so that with something extra in our paychecks at the end of the week, we can indulge ourselves with gifts, with palliatives, to relieve the pain and discomfort that we feel for doing what we must do to earn what wealth we cab. Greed is the satisfying of artificial and constant cravings.

And those who are considered the best of us, majority stockholders, officers of corporations, politicians, and celebrities all at the top of their respective food chains, they earn their way into the 1% and possessing this true wealth, they gift themselves truly extraordinary palliatives in order to compensate for something deeply unsatisfying within that was once more human, what they lost in the dog-eat-dog world that we all live in.

This is the world that we pass on to our children and our grandchildren. This world is what will own them someday like it owns us today. They are truly greed’s legacy. That too is the basis for my cautionary tale of America’s future, The Joad Cycle.

But I still idealize my youth. I remember what it felt like when I was a boy and so I wrote a grand love story, too.

 

Gary Levey

05/01/2012