Blog: Manipulating Your Behaviors: It’s Nothing New with A.I.
We invite others to examine our behaviors, judge it, and help us make us (our behaviors) better or, at least, aware of them. That’s what the whole self-help market is! At times, it may be too personal for another person to judge you — no American should take unsolicited advice! (said in a grouchy, middle-American tone) — so it’s been outsourced to print and media outlets so you can critique your behaviors without the direct scrutiny of another’s gaze; instead, you get some new framework the man-on-the-stand has written down.
We invite others (sometimes things) to change our behavior. These are some forms:
- Alarm Clocks. You would rather sleep as long as you naturally would, but use an alarm clock to alter the time you wake up in the morning.
- Self-help Books. Feeling down about yourself? Let a self-help book show you a new behavioral regimen, get in a good routine, acquire a healthy habit. Pay to let someone else give you advice.
- Therapy. Speaking of which… Talk to a professional to hear and see you as a third-party.
- Workout Partner. I can’t do it myself, let’s do it together.
- Fitness Apps. Shed extra pounds, by tracking your workouts and logging your caloric intake.
- Productivity Apps. Be more efficient in your behaviors. Track how long you’ve been on your phone. Get more done, quicker! Use a 4-hour workweek program to design your life with more efficiencies and less waste.
We continue to adapt our behavior to get through our environment. Often unconscious…or with intuition?…
You try hard to be a better person. You wake up and only eat low-fat yogurt for breakfast. You don’t eat any sugar after 7pm. You take frequent breaks from work because Psychology Today said it was better for your health and more productive. To yourself, you are your own disciplinarian, rewarding yourself when you’ve done well (celebrate after a good exam grade) and you punish yourself when you’ve done poorly (won’t eat carbs for 4 weeks after someone said you looked nice today with that same side-grin they use when telling Rachel she has such a good laugh when everyone knows Rachel’s laugh is unbearable. Be kind to yourself!) But, we’re still accountable to be our own disciplinarians. We pay others to board our dogs, and we pay others to board us. We even enjoy going to get groomed!
Then there are those things you don’t know you’ve been conditioned to do. The things that lurk in our behavioral system, our cultural code. Like eating large breakfasts. Or walking only on the sidewalks and crossing when the white man says go. The social etiquettes are integrated seamlessly with the non-barbaric, and our mannerisms are conditioned to its standards without our ever knowing. These are good and bad. Be a societal people. The school bell system gets you on a 90-minute timer and the conditioning persists years later.
We continuously are aware and unaware of our behaviors. We can be cognitive of some, and others carry on willy-nilly in our lives.
In these acts of conditioning, all of the other entities are types of influencers, and we should look at all of them as Magicians, whether you simply like magicians or because you are into magic realism philosophy (Yes, for clarity, “Magicians” here carries a double-meaning).
Let’s look at the effects magicians have on an audience. There is a difference between the magician who tricks you and the one who amazes you. Both magicians influence your behavior while misleading you — that’s the role of the magician, after all. They know it and they even have a name for it: they call it misdirection! The two types of effects both require behavior manipulation. However, one magician will make an audience feel manipulated, while the other will reveal something to an audience member that is totally different.
Creating the effect of superiority through cheating and manipulation is not good. In the other effect, the magician can be honest about their lying to you, their misdirection, their fooling, but, while honestly lying, they:
1) fool you
2) let you feel okay being fooled
3) open your mind to possibilities
The latter ones present their magic as a gift. Throughout their career, Penn and Teller have taken on this latter form of Magic as an art form. They present magic as an intellectual art and offer their misdirection as a gift.
Every entity, whether you are cognitive of it or not, asserts itself in the world with law-making abilities. All of these “laws” are formed to alter your behaviors. Momma says, “Don’t eat dessert before dinner.” The car says, “I will hurt you if you run in front of me.” The table says, “I don’t perform well if I am made out of jello.” The building says, “No Trespassing Do Not Enter.” The earth says, “Don’t make me too hot.”
These entities make laws to alter our behavior. They lay their boundaries, so we can adapt and work with their behaviors. (What’s cool is this is a two-way street. To them, we get to be the rule-setting, law-making, magicians. We desire to be at greater heights so we demand, “Building, elevate me to higher heights. Stack me upon another individual in the office below me”, and buildings get taller and come with elevators. I say, “I don’t like my feet rubbed because it tickles,” and I lay down the law and you can act accordingly.)
We can’t always hear the entities’ voices. And we can’t always hear it with precision. (Simply by being a solid, we can translate the table to announcing, “Stop running into me!”)
Before Newton really listened to the Earth, we knew things fell for some reason, but we didn’t have the communicative capacity to work with that falling object. For some unknown reason, Newton had his ear to the planet like a Comanche scout in an attempt to hear what it was saying, and, like a mathematical hippy, he devised a set of laws to speak for it, arrogantly named Newton’s Laws of Motion.
You can speak with it yourself if you wish. This language is open source and public domain knowledge by now: F = Gm1m2/r2. Compared to current levels of knowledge (as far as descriptive, earth equations go), this particular ancient equation is like a 4th grader’s interpretation of planet dynamics (No offense, 4th graders, you are just at the beginning of the knowledge acquisition trail — everyone starts somewhere). Our ability to communicate with planetary objects is more descriptive and complex than this now, and with that acquired complexity…so long Planet Pluto!
People want to adapt and live in harmony with these entities (it hurts to always touch the hot stove and never learn to adjust to not touching the hot stove. We adapt to decrease our pain, which creates a kind of metric in learning we can identify as tolerance for the status quo. The stove that appears hot and is hot is an honest Magician. The stove that appears not to be hot and is hot is playing evil tricks!) To adapt and to negotiate our relationship with these entities depends on our communication technologies to recognize them, listen to them, adapt to them, and, ultimately, communicate with them.
A bunch of dreamers recognized the possibility of man’s flight. They probably got envious of the birds and thought, “What makes them so special? And what is different with their relationship with the earth versus humans’ relationship to the earth?” The possibility of being off the ground was recognized. How does Man accomplish that? And with that question, we’ve acquired Newton’s attentive, listening ear (but lack his care and obsession to develop a mathematical expression.)
Entities are appearing in more abstract ways beyond just the physical earth, or at least beyond the physical entities we see. There are other abstract entities which affect our behavior and require some listening. Like the Laws of Physics, we’ve been exploring the philosophy of these abstract entities for a long time. Metaphysics, Psychology, Sociology, Economics, have all appeared as disciplines to start tackling the Laws of Humans as abstract entities. They are the humanities, which is really one entity, so each discipline pokes at the same fire with different sticks of different lengths, materials, and sensors.
This paper cannot go into those laws because I don’t care to. But, what this paper can identify are a few examples of abstract entities, with similar, behavior-defining, law-abiding forces like how the big earth has gravity. These are some examples.
Ex 1: Traffic
You have been directly influenced by your city’s rush hour for years. It has directly shaped your behaviors, making you rise early, leave work late, yell at unknown people, take alternative routes, incorporate work-from-home options.
Traffic ruined the relationships of many couples for decades before technology became available to start communicating with it. Traffic had no apparent reasoning for slow downs, no map to communicate alternative routes, no alternative routes to decrease the stress of traffic-flow.
In its mystery, traffic left a lot of unknowns for an absent spouse. Thankfully, people developed a way to tune in to traffic by developing the technology to communicate slow-downs, provide ETAs, show where wrecks are, offer alternative routes, and even just put a phone in the pocket so all this can be communicated with the waiting party at home.
Ex 2: Climate
Climate appears, physically, in the form of weather (the rain patter on the face), but it exists greater across a large time span, in various weather forms, and is everpresent across the globe. It affects us and we affect it. It turns out, as an industrial population who extracts resources from the planet, we can have an effect on this Climate thing. Suddenly, we’re in dialogue with it and can benefit from listening to it.
Ex 3: Capitalism
People attempt to construct the inner-workings of a society and they called it Capitalism. And the abstraction wasn’t created entirely from materials that were there. (Same with Socialism! So no one’s off the hook!) The Capitalism-Socialism difference could be as simple as “same fire, different sticks.” Both the systems poke at the fire of Humanity with different constructions and viewing tools.
As a people, we still play with articulating the Capitalist/Socialist abstraction, and the debate persists much like it did with the horses’ hooves. Like traffic, someone’s listening needs to create a piece of technology, perhaps a new medium, that can communicate with a currently, unidentified social object (USO), and translate to us the intents of our social functionings. Until there’s a new stick, getting to that point may start with throwing down the sticks.
- Our behaviors are constantly influenced by outside things, whether we pay for it or not, whether welcomed or not.
- Listening and developing listening tools can help us find solidarity with these entities.
- A.I. is our best available tool to recognize and listen for these abstract entities. When traffic hasn’t adopted our spoken language to tell us traffic is bad, we develop an A.I. to start listening to traffic. We give traffic a voice, and we develop tools to adapt.
- If you’re going to be a magician, be a good magician.
Communication tools give us more maneuverability in our relationships- with all entities! (We developed language between us humans long ago, and that is still a work in progress!)