Posts from the ‘Professional Development’ category

Websites

I’ve been getting asked for website help lately. I hate to say the same thing over and over again, so here we are.

If you don’t have a website

Do you need a website? Do you already have social media, which you never use? Do you post content to it? How regularly? If it’s less than once a month, you should focus on creating regular content instead of making a website. Kids will tell you, you need a website (pay me to make a website). But do you really need a website? If you can’t make regular content on social media, why would that change with a website?

So, you are ready for a website?

If you already have a website, you can skip this part.

Sit down with a piece of paper and draw an outline of your website. What’s your About page going to say? What’s your Homepage gonna have? Do you want a splash page or do you have enough content for a more robust website? Is a robust website even necessary? What’s your goal for the site? Do you appeal to donors, sponsors, customers, investors, partners? Are you b2b? B2c? B2b2b? B2c2c? Etc.

Ask yourself, am I going to pay someone to do this forever, or do I need to be able to do it by myself for the next 6-12 months? If you can pay someone, just pay someone by the project and for maintenance. Or you can pay someone to start it and teach you how to do it. Or you can just pay someone to do the SEO, although it’s difficult to find a really good person. There are a lot of fakers out there. But really, SEO and marketing is just good ole hard work.

If you can’t pay for anything except hosting and domain fees, ask yourself how much time you have to devote to it. Do you need a set it and forget it except for posting content? WordPress with an easy to access support person through your host, which may be a tiny bit more costly, but worth everything for its convenience. See if you can afford to buy a theme that you will be happy with for a while. Or will you be posting merchandise? Probably something shopify related. Otherwise, use one of the easy to build ones like Wix/Squarespace/Weebly/Webflow, which all have their own pros and cons.

Will you have other things that need regular updating? Is it a platform or does it require more involved coding? Is it an app? What kind of app? Does it incorporate AI? Could your coding result in revenue that could go toward the nonprofit? Regardless, if you website requires more involved coding,  you’re probably just going to have to learn if you can’t pay someone. Or get a cofounder who knows how to code. But how does that work for nonprofits?

It would be nice if nonprofits started thinking of more involved business models. Such as those that involve a product or service (beyond consulting). Anyway.

For free web development, get them super jazzed about your mission! If your nonprofit/company has legs, there’s someone out there willing to work for free. But working with free web developers? That’s a whole other blog post. Send me a message if that’s what you’re looking for information on.

You already have a website

What platform did you use? How’s it going? What features are you missing? What features do you have but don’t need? Are you unhappy with the platform or content?  If you are lower than a 7/10, you probably have to make some changes to get happy with it and for it to be useful. Perhaps go back to the first section of this post and ask yourself these things. If you’d like a website audit, I am happy to invest 20-30 minutes for $25. I can provide feedback and point out the highest ROI easy wins.

If you’re happy with the website and it’s helping you be successful, worry about other things. If it’s not helping you be successful, and you don’t know why, get a website audit. But before you reach out, figure out what your website goals are.

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The Kitten Who Died

My phone’s screen had been broken since December. Not shattered, but there were black lines flashing horizontally across all the time. Sometimes it would go black. I’d excitedly show someone a picture on my phone. But they’d furrow their brow, hand it back to me, and say with extreme judgment, “Something wrong with your phone?” I also couldn’t hang up on phone calls.

ron swanson smashing a cell phone

A demonstration of intolerance.

While on the New Jersey Turnpike, the screen started going black and pixelated colors every time I hit a bump. There are lots of bumps. I wondered if I’d make it or have to drive around to stores and gas stations until I could find a map. Or have to ask for directions, and remember what it was like to look for street signs. And Jersey drivers are not happy when you slow down while looking for parking, much less for a street sign. I drove the rest of the way delicately holding the phone and thankfully made it. But that night I had to call it quits, redo my budget, and plan my day around a morning Costco visit.

how costco pulled frozen berries before they were even recalled

One of my cults. And they pay fair wages with benefits too. What are yours?

I splurged on a Samsung Galaxy S8. And while trying to log into Lastpass for one last time, the screen started turning black and while tapping it, I accidentally called someone I didn’t want to call, like really didn’t want to call, who was still in my favorites. And I couldn’t hang up. So awkward.

I gave it back to Costco (14-day no stocking fee return policy) when

  • google maps kept crashing
  • there were two homescreens and you couldn’t get rid of one
  • I kept accidentally hitting the Bixby button, especially when trying to unlock the phone with my fingerprint
  • I kept accidentally touching the edges of the screen
  • iPhones couldn’t text me, even when I deactivated iMessage both on the old phone and through the website
  • a million other things.

I was pretty disappointed. The only good thing about it was that you could search text messages (great for looking up wifi passwords!)

When I went to get a different phone, the salesman told me that he had just gotten three kittens. Well, they actually got him. He heard the runt of the pack cry and found the abandoned litter behind his house. He hypothesized that it had probably been crying for hours, if not all day, because the other kittens weren’t fussy or making any noise. I hypothesized that maybe the runt expended all of its energy crying, making it become the runt. But he said no, you could tell that it was much smaller than the rest.

kittens photoshopped with different colors

And then there were three.

This kitten, whether intentional or not, sacrificed itself for the rest of the litter. I’m sorry for telling you about a kitten who died, but that kitten was a hero. 3/4 was better than 0/4.

cartoon about glass half full or empty

Oh, hey. I was just an optimist. ::slow clap::

I often feel like a runt. I act like I’m the world police, constantly crying out loud for help, justice, and integrity. I’ve burdened myself with the suffering and troubles of others and the world, and while they did and will happen, most of them haven’t happened to me. It would probably help to limit my life scope, but that ain’t easy for a highly sensitive person.

Watching Lust for Life, a film about van Gogh starring Kirk Douglas, had me question what it means to suffer. Throughout the movie, relatives, friends, and random acquaintances support van Gogh’s insatiable thirst for painting and booze. They’re usually even-tempered people, considered more normal, and lack the emotional range of van Gogh. They admire, and in some ways, are jealous of van Gogh’s passion. They fund him because they know that van Gogh’s passion enables him to be creative in ways that they cannot. I’d argue how anyone could be as passionate as van Gogh, but maybe another time.

Van Gogh suffers throughout the movie. He suffers over unrequited love and frustration over many things. His drinks heavily and paints frantically. At one point, another character tells him to man the fuck up, but soon realizes that van Gogh can’t. Lead poisoning aside, it’s evident that from an early age, van Gogh’s brain was not the same as others’. It was probably a lot like a highly sensitive person’s brain, or less flatteringly, an MRI might show the brain of a manic depressive. His suffering was probably on the high end, but was more apparent because he did not, and arguably could not, contain it. I find the title of the film, Lust for Life, ironic because in the end he kills himself. Although historically, we don’t know who shot him. You could say that he had a love-hate relationship with life, but we’ll never know.

For reasons I have and have not explained before, and may explore more thoroughly a few hundred words from now, I have known nothing near the success of van Gogh. It hurts to passionately feel and to not express it, perhaps because I was told that any pursuit of art meant a poor, unhappy, and destitute life. And perhaps because I believed them and suppressed any artistic expression. Even after this discovery, I still can’t bring myself to paint; even the thought is absolutely terrifying.

But while reading Radical Acceptance, I can see how my thoughts and feelings aren’t me. In fact, Buddhism is a lot about accepting my thoughts and feelings as they come and go by saying yes to them. Who would van Gogh be were he a Buddhist? Or exposed to Buddhism? I don’t know if he was ever exposed to Buddhism, and I sure as hell wasn’t until I read Radical Acceptance. I have no doubt that a commitment to Buddhist practices would result in neurological improvements, but not necessarily an end to suffering. Turns out, suffering is real, and often, it’s relative. Can I say yes to suffering?

man reaching enlighted man on a mountain who says that suffering exists to make beer taste better

Apparently, you can’t appreciate the good without the bad.

Through high school to ARCBio, I savored and seized every opportunity to improve everything from the energy to the quality of work. Even those early days of wanting to contribute ended up being for nothing. For me at least. And once it segwayed into altruism, I didn’t get very far. And my circumstances only degraded once I recognized the altruism, and plummeted when I started to desire reciprocity with increasing financial insecurity.

With metrics that have evolved with tested assumptions about myself, I’ve discovered that if I do my one big thing, I have a good day. I’ve discovered that if I socialize and collaborate all day, I have a great day. And over the past six months, I’ve discovered that I am almost always in the depths of despair when I experience or am headed toward financial hardship.

I don’t know how or why, but I deluded myself into thinking that my skills were things people would pay for. Now, I consider myself pretty damn good at marketing, but I suck when it comes to marketing myself. And I can definitively say that I failed at marketing any of this. Sure, I made $500 here and there throughout the years, but it wasn’t sustainable income.

Just the other day, on a call meant for catching up, I gave away a half hour of free business consulting. When I had $6 in the bank. And when it was over, I hated myself. I hated that I knew so much more than her, and that she was doing well, and I wasn’t. I hated the internal battle between ugly, resentful person and contributor. I hated that the little voice in the back of my head said, “shut up and steer the conversation back to catching up,” and I didn’t listen. And I hate that during the call, she said that she probably needed to hire me for further consulting, but by the end, said it again the same way a Seattlite says they’ll see you again, but then they give you the Seattle Freeze. She hadn’t been able to find any of this information, and my best estimate is that she wouldn’t have ever gotten this information given her network and geography. Because I was an idiot, she got it in half an hour. I gave her all of the relevant industry information and insights, an action plan, and questions for a potential client. Now that I think about it, this is probably why she’s so successful. She didn’t have to spend a dime.

living in seattle meme

Almost spot on.

When you run a company or head a project, you’re supposed to surround yourself with people smarter than you. I’m that stupid smart person who’s helping you instead of helping myself. Why do I think these stupid thoughts or have to write this stupid post to get it out of my head?

I’m just desperately trying to improve my circumstance.

I think I finally figured out why no one’s paid me for this kind of help on a consulting basis – cause I keep giving it away for free! During these conversations, I feel the urgency in my bones that they need to be helped NOW. It can’t wait weeks until we’ve created an SOP and signed a partnership agreement. There’s no time to waste!

But maybe it isn’t wasted time. Maybe it’s investing in my needs.

Oh shit.

I went to Hopkin’s Social Impact Bootcamp today. Make sure you sign up for next year.

It was amazing, but I kept feeling anxiety as my stack of business cards dwindled down to nothing. I did my best to stay present (meditation shout-out), but I kept drifting off to figuring out what I would charge nonprofits, worrying about how the speakers kept mentioning pro-bono work, jotting down a million new business ideas, questioning whether I deserved my seat, avoiding a cold from the guy sitting in front of me, writing and rewriting my “offer” post-its, wondering if anyone would even follow up with me, and other distractions.

I’ll post my notes soon, but here’s the good stuff:

  • It was an even mix of aspiring social entrepreneurs, up-and-running social projects, programs, and nonprofits, resource organizations, and a sprinkle of funders.
  • The synergy was outstanding. Not surprisingly, there were many partnership and collaboration opportunities in the room, in addition to several who were doing the same thing who could coalesce.
  • The speakers and curriculum was just what I was looking for. I documented the local language of nonprofits, fundraising, community engagement and activism. They shared a few case studies of the work being done. Most of the Baltimore-based nonprofit resource organizations presented. A well-assembled panel directly answered thoughtful questions from the audience and moderator. Mini breakout sessions resulted in useful and inspiring discussion and sharing.
  • I learned about the local social entrepreneurship scene, the current state of the community, community needs, and met people, which were my main goals.
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Sheryl Sandberg’s Mission – To Maintain Capitalism’s Status Quo

I really want to remain a supporter of Sheryl Sandberg and her mission. I saw her talk this past May and was blown away!
quote by sheryl sandberg

It’s time we became aware.

But her ideologies and voice are sourced in capitalism. Get your hands dirty? What do you mean by dirty? Work hard and you’ll get what you’re promised? We know that this isn’t true, especially for those of us who didn’t go to Harvard. 
 
I’m happy to report that her female empowerment efforts seem to have been successful, at least in Seattle. This is definitely a step in the right direction.
But our entire world is controlled by a couple hundred families. We don’t live in a capitalist democracy. We live in a capitalist oligarchy where these families control all aspects of government through lobbying, legislation, threatening to pull their company’s money out of the US or unfavorable states, and a million other tactics. An oligarchy is “a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes”. Sound familiar?
 
Free market propaganda has put dollar signs on every human being on earth and resulted in an extractive economy. Even though the environment is to be enjoyed and shared by all, it’s ravaged by capitalists.
 
The conventional workplace is a dictatorship where we can be fired at any moment without notice – we have absolutely no say. And most of the time “layoffs” happen so that shareholders can maintain their year-over-year growth in dividends (that’s money pulled out of the company and put directly into their pocket).
 
A corporation’s primary purpose is for shareholder dividends. It is the law. FALSE. Shareholder dividend propaganda was spread by the University of Chicago and Milton Friedman. And each year, 150,000 traditional MBA’s are being taught that this is the law just in the US! That’s horrifying! An MBA’s transition from wanting to do good by business to “this is the way the world works and since it’s the law, there’s nothing I can do, and I may as well join them” has been well documented! And it only takes one year, and sometimes, just a semester.
 
Sad that you got fired, and your whole world got turned upside down? Angry? It’s time we stopped getting angry, and instead got smart.
 
I advocate for democratic socialism. It’s not what you think.
 
Democratic socialism is where we maintain a balance between owning personal property (like your record collection and clothes), having a say in what our lives look like, and having a say about private property. What is private property? “What touches all should be decided by all.” This isn’t communism – socialism has been conflated with communism as part of the capitalist agenda. Communism is actually an oligarchy and has nothing to do with socialism.
 
Private property is an aristocratic ideology based on oppression and maintaining the status quo for the world’s elite. An example is land owned by a king that is “leased” to farmers. Remember serfdom? We know how that turned out.
 
I could go on for days. But I’ll leave with you with what I believe is a great start – a way for us to have democracy in the workplace instead of a dictatorship – #workerownedcoops
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Have You Been Gaslighted in the Workplace?

movie poster for gaslight about gaslighting

Gaslighting:

a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or members of a group, hoping to make targets question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief.

I have always felt like a villain and maybe gaslighting my immediate family is why. But I was gaslighted many times in my youth. I wonder if it’s like molestation, where it’s passed on from generation to generation.

The more I learn about gaslighting, the more I think that at least half of people do it regularly, and that almost everyone has done it at least once. There’s intentional and non-intentional gaslighting, and regardless of the intention, the effects can be extremely detrimental.

After college, I started a company to eliminate animal testing in the United States. The European Union had just done it for cosmetics, and I was convinced that I would do it across the board in the US. I thought that if the US did it, the rest of the world would follow. Instead, I experienced over four years of binge eating, my best friend and I getting gaslighted by a coworker, being too afraid of people to leave my house, and more. It all kept piling on top of each other, and I didn’t deal with any of it. The first decade of adulthood felt like a nightmare that was just about to end, but never did.

I thought Seattle would be better. I really did. Like a new start. I found a city and people I wanted to be a part of.

I’ve had 8 jobs in the last 3 years and lived in 10 places, several of which were very unsafe, and one where I got gaslighted and attacked by a roommate. I couldn’t complain because I always had a roof over my head, but I failed at everything except having more trauma. I had three years to build at least one business or have one job in Seattle, and I failed. I kept getting panic attacks and deep depression and would quit. Or I’d get told to lie, which I fought against adamantly, but was ultimately let go even though I tried to persuade with alternatives. Or I’d feel the strongest pull that I can’t describe to stop doing what I was doing and start doing something else…to the tune of over 100 times. Throughout, I tried desperately to find work. But after the first few jobs, I started freaking out that I was going to get fired and had nightmares. The nightmares caused more anxiety. The anxiety caused more…you get the picture.

This past July, I shared with a business breakfast group that I was struggling between staying in Seattle or moving to New Jersey. A friend who was an executive coach and therapist offered to give me a free session.

At the beginning of our session, she asked me to start talking. When I said, “IBM”, I got tears in my eyes. She said, “let’s work on that.”

When it was all over, she leaned forward, put her hand on my arm, and said, “Heather, you have PTSD, and what happened wasn’t your fault.”

On July 25th, I was diagnosed with PTSD from getting gaslighted by a guy at IBM for two years when I was in my mid-20’s. A week later, I found out that my other coworker experienced the same and is recovering too. It’s such a shame cause she was a brilliant physicist/geneticist/chemist who is now struggling.

For those two years, he accused her and me of doing bad research. He had made a nanoparticle that to this day, I feel tremendous sadness over being lost. Its results were mind-bogglingly amazing. You could put just about any drug or compound into the nanoparticle and target different parts of the body. It was so nontoxic that it defied any other nanoparticle before it. For months, I brought him and our team pictures, videos, and test results that had us all believing that we’d in some way helped to save the world from disease.

But we ran out of the chemical. So, he made some more, and all the test results were different. He was notorious for making interns cry, being extremely manipulative, and angry. He gaslighted me and my colleague, who was also my best friend, for two years. He said it was our fault that the results were all different and would “work with us” to figure it out. In my second year of having the company, he convinced IBM to downgrade my contract from annual to quarterly. All year, I had panic attack after panic attack until I was afraid to leave the house. I was terrified my contract would be terminated with no notice, and desperately did whatever he wanted. I felt like my entire livelihood hinged on him, and he had complete control and power over my ability to pay rent and be successful. I thought he dictated my whole future.

By the third year, he was fighting for it to be downgraded to monthly, which thankfully, I fought and didn’t happen. But by then, the whole IBM research block knew what was happening. I begged other departments for work so that I could work my way out of this group, but they all said they didn’t have anything for me. (I found out a few months ago during coffee with one of them that they were afraid of giving me more work. They thought that with all the pressures, demands, and drama from this guy, that they were doing me a favor :().

I went through the hell of uncertainty, doubting myself, proving myself, and ultimately, no longer trusting myself and losing all confidence. Possibly, worst of all, I started to become afraid of people. I was isolated and alone, and the only other person who understood was going through the exact same thing. And not once did it occur to me to just quit. Novice business owners don’t realize that we can choose our customers!

In the end, this guy admitted that he had taken bad notes in his lab notebook and couldn’t reproduce the nanoparticle. I’ll never know if he wanted to save face, was afraid of losing his job, or had experienced similar abuse during his PhD (like many PhD’s do, another issue that angers me). He died unexpectedly in 2015 from a random drug complication.

I was so alarmed by being diagnosed with PTSD that I consulted with another therapist and a counsellor. They each independently gave the same diagnosis, along with depression, anxiety, and a bunch of other fun stuff. Turns out, PTSD is super common. The more I learn, the more I wonder how different the world would look if kids became self-aware and learned to cope with life positively from the very start. Well, duh.

Three weeks ago, the counsellor told me that I should get on section 8 housing, disability, and check myself into a year-long PTSD program at a hospital. I said, “But I shouldn’t have to do this! I shouldn’t have PTSD!”

She said, “But you do. Can you work?”

“No, it doesn’t seem so.”

I felt and still feel tremendous shame.

Before this, I’d aced every interview and been hired at every job I’d ever interviewed for (except for one, where I immaturely smoked a blunt with my friend before the interview and didn’t get the job because I kept asking, “What was your question again?”) Most of my jobs were retail and in the food industry, and I seized every opportunity and broke records. Not to mention that I landed a $323k contract with IBM to launch the business in the first place. Work was the last part of my life that was untouched by panic, fear, and despair. But ultimately, this, too, got sucked in.

A week ago, I moved back to Maryland to live with my parents and experience safety for what feels like the first time since 2011.

Since then, I’ve learned that as rampant as gaslighting is in personal relationships, it is just as rampant in the workplace. In the workplace, it’s typically referred to as workplace bullying. But it’s so much worse than that, because bullying is usually obvious. Gaslighting happened chronically, right under my nose, and I didn’t know how it was affecting me until it was too late. Gaslighting can involve scapegoating big time, so that I felt like it was my fault. One of the “coping” strategies of trauma victims is to believe the trauma was their fault. It gives us a sense of control, but also shame. I thought that it was my fault for not being smart/aware/insightful/perceptive/confident/tough/and so on forever and ever enough.  It wasn’t until the first therapist said, “Picture your younger self sitting next to you. Look at her. Was it her fault?”

No. It wasn’t.

Anyway, I’m in MD for the foreseeable future and focusing on my mental health.

Gaslighting by higher ups is well-researched, and gaslighting by peers is just starting to gain recognition and research.

Workplace abuse has been described as behaviors directed at an employee, with the intent to harm him or her. It negatively affects the person’s work and occurs regularly, over a period of time (Einarsen, Hoel, Zapf, & Cooper, 2011). In those individuals targeted for abuse, cross-sectional studies report depression, difficulty sleeping, and symptoms of burnout (Nielsen & Einarsen, 2012). In terms of consequences for employers, these behaviors have been associated with employee absenteeism, illness, legal and medical costs, early retirement, and general workplace instability (Hershcovis & Barling, 2010). Boddy, Miles, Sanyal, and Hartog (2015) find that employees in bullying situations tended to arrive late for work, leave early, and take longer breaks. (Popp, Social Intelligence and the Explanation of Workplace Abuse, 2017)

It’s illuminated the “dark side of emotional intelligence,” how psychopaths and sociopaths can harness their emotional intelligence for evil without feeling bad about it.

But in one of the articles I read, the author points out that it’s not the psychopaths and sociopaths (1/25 people) that we necessarily need to worry about. Their damage can be far-reaching, but there are many more folks who are close to psychopath and sociopath. This is more consistent with my life experience; I don’t think that just about everyone I know is a psycho or sociopath, but I do think that most of them have gaslighted someone else at some point or another. I don’t think that this guy was a psychopath or sociopath, because when his daughter was born in the first year of my company, he suddenly became a real human being. He thanked me for my work because without it, he would have lost his job. I also don’t think I’m a psychopath or sociopath for gaslighting my family as a teenager.

Here’s what missing for me in the literature so far:

  1. Is gaslighting learned or manifested?
  2. Once a gaslighter, always a gaslighter?
  3. Can a gaslighter be gaslighted? “Good people rarely recognize evil, as this kind of behavior is incomprehensible to them” (Temin, 2010).
  4. Is screening out gaslighters our only option? Because I was a gaslighter :(.

I don’t want gaslighting in the workplace (and in general) to be another “psychological phenomenon” that costs too much time or money to address. I always don’t want for all gaslighters to be doomed to have no career or hope, as I often feel. I have yet to see the dollar impact of it, and think that this is almost impossible to measure, much more than how effective employee trainings are (versus numbers of hours trained).

As a kid, I always wondered why common, traumatic life events would create villains in superhero stories. Thanks to gaslighting, I now know. TV has always been a giant pain in the ass for society. Netflix recently released several television shows that are built around inaccurate assumptions about how mental illness works and is treated, idolizing the power of gaslighting, and good old hypernormalization of harm.

My biggest takeaway at the moment is the recognition that my gut instinct isn’t garbage like I thought it was. When I joined a startup last year, my body had the same reaction to a new salesperson that I had felt with the guy at IBM. My quality of work plummeted as I increasingly became more confused, defensive, and afraid. Reading one of the articles was a play-by-play narrative of what had happened – the new employee had gaslighted me out of that job.

For the record, the new guy was happy to lie.

Most of this happened within the last two months. Per a classmate’s idea, I think more and more that HSP’s like myself and about 20% of the population are a huge opportunity. A few forum comments yielded how difficult it is for us to find work and living environments that allow us to thrive. Our industrialized and capitalistic society was not built for humans with feelings, so it reflects that in every aspect.

About a year ago, I had the idea to create a coworking and living space that was designed for HSP’s. Many of us are freelancers or self-employed, I almost never feel safe or secure, and we can all agree that scents, loud noises, and toxic environments don’t work. I worked on it until a few weeks before an old roommate attacked me, when it got put back on the backburner. I still think this would be an interesting experiment, but want to think bigger. The reality is that many HSP’s have already sheltered ourselves away, limiting our impact and benefit on society. The pain is just not worth any amount of money or work.

Is there a place for us? Can villains become good guys? Is there hope for “toxic people”? How can we all coexist? Is any of this worth the effort?

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We Need Biology to Win

Biology will always beat machine. I don’t care what anyone says.

fist bump between man and machine

Robotap

Other than Kevin Kelly, who says that machines will be used for non-human functions. And that eventually, AI will be able to do anything a human can do. Including be creative, or whatever.

I agree, if we stay as constrained, bogged down, oppressed, and trapped as we are now. If we aren’t unleashed, through the power of genetics or whatever.

ayahuasca

Would you like permanent and ever-increasing enlightenment for everyone?

Fuck machines. And fuck AI. Cause biology will always be better.

batman robin machine biology

That’s more like it.

I think our energy would be better spent seeing the limits of DNA, assuming there even are limits. Plus other forms of life we can come up with. Because for god’s sake, get it out of your head that life has to be DNA, or even carbon-based.

But my real pickle with machines and AI is the final play of the assholes. Basically, one human tyrant or tyrant family gains control of all humanity through globally adopted AI and machines. And they either wipe everyone else out or who knows. If they wipe us out, the best case scenario would be through not-a-bad-way-to-go bioweapons.

Best case scenario.

Or we get our shit together, and fix our shit through the power of biology. Cause as much as I love Elon Musks’s commitment to preventing our fulfilling-our-worst-selves-scenario, he’s bringing mechanization and AI to us too quickly. Doesn’t he wonder if maybe, just maybe, all of this human capital management, empowerment, mindfulness, values, and so on needs a little longer to become pervasive? To make a widespread difference? Maybe helped with a little gene editing?

Anyway, if we get our shit together, we are the ancient race. We have intergalactic space travel not through a machine, but through biology. Because life experiences matter, space, and time differently than us. Even just the difference between us and a bumble bee.

bumblebee orchid

So cuuute. The bumblebee orchid. I want to huuuuuug it!!! <3333

I’m very aware that this whole “printing of organisms” thing is going to be quite a clusterfuck of ethics and what is life questions. But I have often wondered:

Would it be as bad for feed animals if we were able to make them not have feelings? Or consciousness? Assuming we’re going to eat them one way or another.

If Terminator were to happen, realistically, we’d be pretty easy to wipe out.

Is it a compliment or a disgrace of humanity to say, “If we were in a zombie apocalypse, I would do really well.” Should I be scared of this person or become really good friends with them?

I don’t see why certain superpowers wouldn’t be possible if we could do Bioshock-level stuff with genetics. I mean, at the very least, vampires would probably be easy to make.

I know that Marvel Universe’s X-Men have a real dilemma around their relationship with humans. But both the pro and anti-human mutants are pretty cavalier when it comes to humans dying, especially because of their being completely nutty with power. Like, Magneto murdered probably hundreds of thousands, even millions of people in Apocalypse. And Xavier’s all like, Cheerio. I hope we can be friends, and I’ll see you when I see you.

What’s the fastest-growing lifeform in the world? I bet we could double, triple, even quadruple that with genetics.

If I wanted to be richer than god, I’d use genetics to cure male pattern baldness.

I’m pretty sure that there’s a bacterial composition that would make it so you could eat almost all day long and never gain weight. I want to figure it out, patent it, and throw away the key. Like big pharma has with so many cancer-curing, diabetes-curing, and other-curing therapies. Except in this case, I want to help save the world (versus destroy it from eating itself to death). Problem is, bacterial compositions are not really patentable. I guess I’ll just have to do the second step, which is to make the opposite – the bacterial composition for someone to be able to live off of a cup of rice. Or whatever.

Can we make things like a machine version of a hummingbird’s wings? Like, how pervasive is biomimicry, really?

Coders are always talking about code health and simplifying the code. We know that our DNA has a lot of junk. But it probably also has a lot of dormant stuff, genes that aren’t turned on. What if we have a bunch of genes that got turned off for various reasons, and all we have to do is turn them on? Maybe this is where we could start. And then maybe next, we can work on simplifying our code and removing the junk or repetition to, for example, reduce opportunities for error that result in genetic disease.

Can we modify our brains so that we can also communicate with animals?

Will plants be able to be sentient?

Will all of our buildings be made out of weird grown materials? Can it just all be made out of plant-like material?

Genetics, man. Genetics.

leonardo da vinci drawing of robot

That’s some leonardo da vinci terminator shit.

I believe that giving people control over their own genetics is the ultimate way for us to empower ourselves, and the quickest way to save as many people as possible. And for the world to become sustainable. Including our relationship with it.

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