Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 7th, 2015

How Accountants could be really sexy?

John Peter shared this link of Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Friends, let us discuss this point by Rory Sutherland:

If rationality were valuable in evolutionary terms, accountants would be really sexy.”

1) Is it that professions that are attractive to others and provide social rank satisfy a certain selection criterion, with hidden benefits to society that we can detect?

I think so: courage is extremely attractive and heroes are worshipped for a reason, as they take risks for the collective.

But is it universal?

2) The accountant definition of rationality is too narrow and not altruistic enough to qualify as useful for the collective.

They are scribes, not high priests.

3) We can extend the discussion to other professions: mathematicians (I am told) aren’t interesting to others (except to math students).

 Same with economists.

If these professions don’t seem “sexy” is it because they aren’t that “fit” (for our actual irrational behaviors)?

Are we Preferring Virtual Reality to Reality? Is that a bad trend in our evolution?

Is It Really So Bad If We Prefer Virtual Reality to Reality?

As I’ve been developing this series, I’ve gotten to spend time with people who are working on the coolest innovations in virtual reality.

Surprisingly, whether they’re the CEO of a haptics company or an academic researcher, one topic consistently comes up in conversation: What will happen when the technology has evolved to the point that people actually prefer virtual experiences to real ones?

This question has captured the imagination of science fiction writers for generations.

But it was a question that only science fiction writers needed to worry about, since it was technologically unfeasible.

In the internet age, however, we already choose virtual experiences over “real” ones on a regular basis. We do it every time we choose to post on a friend’s Facebook wall instead of meeting them at a coffee house.

VR changes things considerably not only because is it immersive, but it also simulates the feeling of physical presence; and that’s likely to be much more addictive than simply staring at a computer screen.

Even at this early stage of the consumer industry, the technology already exists to give people full body immersive experiences and social interaction. Couple HTC’s Vive rig and AltSpace‘s social environments or High Fidelity’s facial motion detection and social interaction  with hand tracking devices like Perception Neuron’s gloves or Leap Motion, and you can already get pretty close to a feeling of full physical immersion.

Even though these innovations are in the early stages of development, it’s easy to see their potential.

In the near future, we could experience incredible worlds which can only be built and experienced in virtual reality — worlds much more vast and diverse than what we are able to experience in our daily lives today.

Like how the internet has made us feel closer and more connected, virtual experiences have the potential to elevate our collective consciousness even more by allowing people access to experiences that are currently not possible.

We might even begin to think of access to virtual experiences as a human right, the way we think of access to the internet today.

So the question is, would it be so bad if we chose to spend our days in virtual worlds fulfilling our deepest desires and weirdest fantasies?  (Sure. day in, day out)

Where do we draw the line on too much virtual and not enough reality? (Where do you draw the line on suicide frequency?

What’s the big philosophical question about VR on your mind lately?

Tweet to us @singularityhub or to me directly @svm118 so we can explore your questions as part of the series.

Patsy Z  shared this link Singularity Hub

“We might even begin to think of access to virtual experiences as a human right, the way we think of access to the internet today.”

What will happen when the technology has evolved to the point that people actually prefer virtual reality experiences to real ones?

War is a million miles away when the Lebanese begin to party

By 18 July 2015

It was mid-afternoon and already the crowd had given itself over to wild abandon.

Standing on picnic tables, skinny girls in hot pants and crop-tops gyrated to thumping beats, upending bottles of vodka into the mouths of the bare-chested men dancing beside them.

Having worked out obsessively – though even in the gym they keep their make-up immaculate, their nails painted, and their hair perfectly straightened –

the ladies revelled in showing off their figures, in the unlikely setting of a hen party in the Lebanese mountains.

Lebanese supporters of the Christian Phalangist and Lebanese Forces parties celebrate their victory in the central Lebanese city of Zahleh in the Bekaa valley.

A Lebanese Christian woman partying after recent elections Photo: AFP

And what they hadn’t perfected with exercise, they had fixed with plastic surgery.

In the upper echelons of Lebanese society, the most important thing is to see and be seen.

Consumption is the ultimate good. An open-top car, Christian Louboutin shoes and a full-time, live-in maid to look after one’s children are all must-have accessories.

Beauty is paramount: parents are known to book nose jobs as a birthday presents for their teenage children, and the youngsters wear their stitches proudly, as badges of honour.

The average cost of a birthday party among this elite, one event organiser tells me, is $200,000. A wedding is $300,000.

It is a lifestyle that few can realistically afford.

So they rely on credit. It is said that most of the country’s big spenders sustain their lifestyles using bank loans they cannot obviously repay.

The phenomenon is often explained as a consequence of the civil war: after decades spent trying just to survive, there comes overcompensation – an attempt to prove to themselves, and to those around them, that they have conclusively moved on from its horrors. (That’s a load of crap rendition: Their parents share in the highway robbery of the public money)

Scratch below the surface, and it is clear that the gaping social wounds caused by the civil war are far from resolved.  (They don’t even recall the war: most of them were not born)

In Lebanese classrooms, history ends in 1943. Everything after that – the 15 years of sectarian violence that saw 200,000 people killed or disappeared, and the conflict with Israel – is deemed “too controversial” to teach.

Society remains divided. Most Lebanese put sect before country. (Not true. They don’t give a hoot about religion. And don’t care to know who are their representatives, their President or their PM…)

Beirut is a patchwork of separate cantons (in Christian Ashrafieh, the women wear miniskirts, while 10 minutes’ walk east, in the mostly Shia district of Basta, the prevailing fashion is the hijab).

The communities rarely interact.

Rushing through the city’s Armenian quarter one night, on my way to the chic downtown district, I was stopped by an elderly man who warned me not to go on. “There are Muslims there,” he cautioned.

With the government unable to settle on an agreed version of past events that can be taught in school, children turn instead to their relatives for information about the momentous events that have torn this country apart. But in so doing, they mostly hear a one-sided version.

(I read this repeat story, (supposedly a believable rational analysis) many times. Actually, no kid has ever asked his parents about the civil war. Nobody in the younger generation care to know))

The “us” and “them” of war transfers to the next generation, and empathy, so critical for the fostering of true and lasting peace, falls by the wayside.

A Lebanese businessman told me recently how he had struggled to persuade a British colleague to come to Beirut. For years she refused to visit, until it became a necessity for her work.

Convinced she was flying into a war zone, her hands shook with fear as she checked in at Heathrow. On the plane she broke into floods of tears.

Lebanon’s vital signs – the economy, the sectarian enmity, and the spillover from Syria – often yield news headlines that predict war and violence.

But the country has proven supremely resilient, and it remains, for the most part, a visitor’s dream.

Sure, there are daily power cuts, and the summers are passed in a sweaty mess when the water runs out. But rather than dodging flying bullets, day to day, the biggest risk to foreigners in Lebanon is a thick waistline and a stinking hangover.

For now, sadly, even at the magnificent Greco-Roman temples of Baalbek, the tourist touts sit together at a coffee table by the empty ticket hall.

A camel, dressed up to the nines, with an embroidered doily resting between its ears and an elaborately carved wooden saddle on his back, waits under a tree, desolately swatting flies with its tail.

The businessman’s friend may well have been their last customer.

Note: A few days ago, I revisited Baalbek after decades of absence. Baalbek is even more majestic and supreme and I wondered: If they had cranes in those days, instead of Baalbek we would have had stupid skyscrapers, built one floor per day.




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