Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Depiction Part 32 - Depicting Brain To Computer Links - Online Bullying Prevention

Part 32
Depicting Brain To Computer Links
Online Bullying Prevention 

Previous parts of this series on how writers can depict (eliminate details, sharpen symbols, transform "reality" as observed into enjoyable fiction) what the writer observes in their real world are indexed here:

Writers are born observers of "reality" -- people watchers who can spin a life's history from a few details seen on a shopper at a Mall.

It doesn't matter whether the tale spun has any relationship to the actual reality of that person -- it is a story, a potential possibility, a flight of imagination far more interesting than the person's reality.

Writers look at people -- and see Characters.

Getting good at the craft of writing means perfecting the ability to distinguish between people (readers, for example) and Characters.

We all look at people and see someone other than the person who is really there.

We all fill in the blanks, make wild and unsubstantiated assumptions, and then deal with the real person as if that person is actually the Character we have imagined.  All your readers do it -- and most people who do not ever read fiction do it, too.  

The human brain is hardwired to take shortcuts, to recognize patterns from a few real details then imagine the rest of the details to fit that pattern.

That's how viewers guess the criminal in a TV whodunit.  It isn't TV (or videogames) that cause us to learn to do that, nor is it novels.  We do it in all our life's endeavors.

Consider a hunter in a jungle -- gotta bring home dinner.  He's got to spot the game animal and kill it, then retrieve it before scavengers eat it all up.

How does the hunter sort the cluttered jungle mess into information?
Like distinguishing between people and Characters, we must learn to distinguish between data and information.

These skills are developed at the brain's circuits, synapses, and even the sizes of brain regions, are developed from infancy through maybe 20 years of age.  

A writer's depiction is information.  What is being depicted is data.

Today, there is a massive push on among (swiftly grown to vast proportions) Tech Companies to create Artificial Intelligence that can learn to depict!  
I'm not sure any of them knows that is what they are doing - rewriting the world  - but the analogy between what a fiction writer does and what a self-driving car must do seems crystal clear to me.
In childhood, we learn to understand our world (green jungle, concrete jungle, down on the farm, King's Court Aristocracy, street smarts, etc.) by internalizing an Archetype -- a pattern, a "template" of reality around us that we then keep plugging data into, trying to transform data into information.
The current war between and against Media News can be described as a war between "Reality Templates" -- one template describing a well governed world where life is tranquil, and another describing a well governed world where life is strife-conquered-daily.

Anything that challenges the compartments of the template (think Microsoft Powerpoint or Microsoft Publisher where you download templates divided into little boxes, then insert your own images and text which magically re-formats to be beautiful), is immediately rejected with a glaring and stubborn error message.

Everything in one Media News template rejects every single bit of content from the other Media News template.  It's wrong. It's evil to disturb or distort the template of reality because that is what allows either tranquility or strife-conquered.

The two templates are incompatible.  One belongs to, say, Powerpoint and the other belongs to, say, Adobe In-Design.  There is a lot of acceptable material overlap, but incompatibility produces a mess or nothing at all.

We live in a reality where some people have internalized one template, some people the other template, some people have switched preferred templates, and others are trying to invent new templates and promulgate them.

Humans seem to thrive on this jungle like lifestyle.  It is now called multi-culturalism where each template is a culture.

Can we expect A.I. (robots, androids, smart thermostats and autonomous cars and trucks) to master all our templates, mix and match them to create new templates, overlap them and use two incompatible templates at once while ignoring incompatibilities?

The single most distinctive trait modern primates possess is adaptability and nowhere is that more evident than in the homo sapiens species.  

We might be the most adaptable intelligent species in the universe -- or the least adaptable -- and many grand Science Fiction Romance stories can be spun against backgrounds built from either premise.

But to spin such stories, the writer has to create a "template" that is being used by a Character to sort the tangled jungle of data, the heaving sea of data, the firehose of data, into information upon which to act.

Information is critical for survival, while data is not so critical.

Think about "Big Data" -- the enormous product of the Internet is massive tangles of data, but it becomes useful only when Google sorts it for you.  That's why Google has become so dominant - they solved the problem of "how do I find what exists on this topic?" and then they solved the problem, "how do I get rid of this spam."

Both solutions were based on algorythms that "crowd sourced" data collection and used their proprietary template to sort that data into information, then sort the information into organized files that could be searched.

Some of you may not remember the ludicrous answers Google search first came up with, or the world where to determine if an answer was online you had to use at least 5 search engines stating the question in different terms.

Then social networking became a possibility, a mere glimmering of an idea.  Facebook probably was not the first -- there were many forums and email Lists, and so on before Facebook.

The Prodigy Forums and Fido Net connections were all based on the existing ways that humans formed social groups.

Family, city, town, county (geographical regions where everyone has something in common - the Old West's Barn Dance), plus idea based groups (the Masons, Churches, Knights of Columbus, Science Fiction Fandom), and political parties, -- readers of a certain magazine or newspaper -- or people who bought from the Montgomery Ward Catalog or the Sears Catalog.

People who owned race horses, people who were accepted at Court -- whatever binding a group had in common, very often economic success depended on being an accepted member of that Group.

We are hard wired to seek acceptance in a Group.  Primates are not loners, though as a Group we do produce individuals who go out exploring (Mountain Men, the pioneers who found a way across the Rockies, etc. around the globe).  Those loners will probably be the first to settle on Mars.

But socialization is our primary survival trait.  So while it is true that, "You didn't build that," it is also simultaneously true (different Templates sorting the data into information) that "The Group didn't build that."

Among all primate species, there has always been an uneasy truce between the individual and the group.  No group can survive without strong and independent individuals -- but no group can survive without taming, harnessing, civilizing the strongest of those individuals.

The process of taming and harnessing those individuals starts with Romance, and all its associated elements from the highest spiritual plane of soul mates, to the grittiest necessities of physical sex.

It is the FAMILY UNIT that "tames" the wild individual to the purposes of the Group, so that individual survival becomes identical to Group survival.

The root of it all is testosterone and related gender identity hormones, all working in harmony (or disharmony).  

We discussed some articles about the effect that being bested by a woman has on a man - or being bested by another man has on a man.  Conquering or being Conquered actually has a lasting, permanent and continually reinforced effect on behavior and self-image.

Here is an entry in this series citing scientific research about depicting the married hunk - the hugely gorgeous, testosterone perfected, male molded into a father.

And here is an entry discussing how to use what you learned in Part 19 to expand the romance to include Aliens.

What happens in that transformation of the wild male into a father can be viewed as a Template Replacement.  

Before replacement, the Male sees the world as one thing - afterwards, as another.  Same DATA, same world, arranged differently.  

You can do this to a blog on blogger.com by changing the "template" and suddenly all your words take on a different arrangement.  At one point in blogger.com history, doing a template transformation wiped out all the comments that had been made.  The exact same world just looks so different, and new meanings emerge.

Humans in our civilized jungle undergo several template transformations, but at increasing intervals. It is called "growing up."  

A lot of the template shifting occurs because of physiological brain growth -- as the capacity increases, more data can be arranged and rearranged into more templates, giving wider, bigger, deeper, richer pictures of reality.

The more that inner picture of reality aligns with the actual data reality pours onto us, the more likely that person is to survive to become a parent.  

The more conscious the child is of the process of acquiring, sorting, and combinging templates into a personalized view of reality, the more flexible the adult will be as Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things changes what it takes to survive in the world.

It is possible the generation being born now, the generation that will regard your current W.I.P. as boring, antique, false because it is old fashioned, will live in an Artificial Intelligence world, a world crafted by and for A.I. and thus demanding humans adapt.

In every generation for the last few hundred years parents have adamantly refused to "let" their offspring do whatever new-fangled activity was now possible because of technology.

In other words, "good" parents prevent children from acquiring the adaptations that will insure their survival.  

Parents do that because we have survived dire threats to our survival only because of the adaptations  (the templates that transform data into information) we have internalized.  The goal of a loving parent, therefore, is to transmit the successful Template to their offspring.  

Because of the increasing tempo of change in the world (Alvin Toffler, Future Shock explains this), each recent generation has had to mix-and-match and create new Templates, new survival strategies, new ways to transform data into information that is actionable intelligence.

In the 1950's grammar schools forbid children to take ball point pens to school and insisted on teaching fine-motor-skills by using fountain pens.  The prior generation was forbidden to bring fountain pens and had to learn the proper way to dip a nib and not splash ink.

In the 1960's, college courses forbid electronic calculators and insisted students had to learn to do the calculations on a slide rule.  That insistence lasted fewer years than previous resistences to tool adoption.

And by the 1980's colleges began insisting each student must have a computer to log into the University's system.  Today live, real-time video courses are common, papers, grades, almost everything is done online.

When you choose the story you want to tell, you have to run up and down the sweep of history to find the decade that most vividly showcases that story.  Knowing the details of a historical decade is important, of course, but more important is understanding the connections among those decades.

It is not enough to depict the way parents resist the technology of their era, because you are writing for today's readers, and for tomorrow's readers.  Your story will have more verisimilitude if you explain (in show don't tell, not exposition) why these specific Characters are resisting whichever technology is swamping the development of their offspring.

Good parents have the objective of equiping their children to survive -- maybe also to thrive -- but to present grandchildren and great-grandchildren as soon as possible.  

Over the last century, there have been any number of books on how to raise your children.  Lately, there are more titles, not just because it's easier to publish now, or just because more people can read, or just because more new parents are so estranged from their parents that they have no source of reliable in-person advice, but because times are changing so fast.

New parents today know that whatever Template they acquired in childhood would lead their children to destruction because it is no longer valid in this world -- and change is accelerating in a direction that makes the truisms of twenty years ago deadly today.

So new parents go looking for books on raising children, new books based on current scientific research.

And of course, News Media interviews form a major source for stressed out, overworked new parents struggling to found a career.

The loudest thing new parents are hearing today is how Facebook Is The Source Of All Evil.  Facebook is rampant with Bullies.  Cyber-bullying on all the social networks is driving teens to suicide.

To me, this sounds just like the ban on ball point pens.  Ruination will be the result of allowing teens to access current, modern technology.

That is a result of sorting many dozen News Items through a Template of my own crafting, composed of a multitude of Templates I've mastered (if not adopted, just learned how to use so I can depict Characters who see the world differently than I do).  

Like ball point pens and electronic calculators, social media is something today's teens must master, not be protected from.  

But how does a parent who did not grow up on Facebook teach their child to stay out of trouble on Facebook?  You can see how the writer's mind transforms reality into a Plot Conflict and thematic statement.  The writer's mind poses questions nobody else is asking, nevermind answering.

What is cyberbullying?  Why does it happen?  What is the mistake being made, and what Template does a parent have to train a child to use, to avoid becoming a Bully or a Victim of cyberstalking?

Develop a theory that can supply answers to those questions and you will be able to extract, clarify and symbolize a THEME -- one large enough to support a galactic war and powerful Alien Romance.

Such a theme will be a statement of what the human primate really is, how it cam about that we survived to dominate this planet, and whether we are adaptable enough to survive in a galactic civilization.

There are thousands of such themes.  How do you find them?

Study people.  Invent Characters from them.  Find the Character's "story" and his internal conflict, then generate the plot that supports the story of his life.  

So we have a Character who we first meet as a teen of Romance-Susceptible age.

And we have a world of social media where Facebook Must Be Forbidden Because It Is Full Of Nothing But Cyber-Bullies.  Using Facebook turns you into a bully - it must be so because everyone on Facebook is a bully and generally, everyone isn't a bully.  Facebook must be at fault.  

Good parents must ban Facebook.  It is the root of all evil.

What will children raised under such a ban, ban their children from doing?

Is banning and preventing the best way to raise children to survive in a rapidly changing, A.I. world?

A first set of the Characters in your novel would affirm that thesis, and their Tempate would justify banning as a parent's duty because children are impressionable and can be harmed for life by a bad experience (which is a scientific truth we have to live with.)

Another, second set of Characters might reject the thesis out of hand, and their Tempate would sort the data stream into true and false based on the thesis that research comes out the way those paying for it demand.  It's not a "conspiracy theory" because nobody conspires with anyone to produce this behavior - it is intrinsic human nature to want to please your employer.

This second set of Characters might permit their children to do any sort of online thing the child wanted - including porn - and possibly online bullying, forming online gangs to beat the rejected child for the sheer joy of beating up on the weak.  After all, being beaten up is how you learn to hit back harder and become a strong adult. (that's a THEME)

A third set of Characters creating the conflicts in this novel-series might use a Template that was bigger, and required much more data to fill it up into a textured and nuanced picture of reality.

This third set might look at the natural growth stages of youth, look at the social networking scene, and use a Template which not only distinguished between data and information, but also distinguished between the Tool and the Tool User.

The first of the 3 sets of Characters (maybe 3 families?) would use a Template that arranges incoming data according to a picture of a well governed world where tranquility is the goal.  The way to craft such a world is, of course, to prevent children from experiencing strife and fighting their way to the top of the heap.  A fighter is relegated to the Template's compartment labeled Bully. All fighting is wrong and must be stopped by Authority (parental or governmental).  
Today, for example, there are a lot of STOP BULLYING campaigns. 

We all know (even the bullies) that bullying is wrong - but how many know why it is wrong?  How many know what in society has changed concurrently with the increase in bullying in schools -- and the advent of school-hall bullying leaping into Facebook and other social networks?  
Perhaps you know what is happening, but as a writer constructing a novel around a Conflict that is Resolved satisfyingly in the end (by Love Conquers All, to a Happily Ever After) you must also have a theory about why it is happening.

So lets back up to the science of what a primate is.  Basic Bonobo and Chimp behaviors include bullying.  

The most powerful and dominant male hammers his way to the top.  In other species, that dominant male acquires the top position by murdering the former top guy.

We adore werewolf romance where wolf physiology blends and sometimes dominates primate physiology, producing a pack led by an Alpha Male who recognizes and mates for life with an Alpha Female.

Romance loves a Bully!!!  

Why not raise our kids to be the best bullies on the block?  That's how you get to dominate the pack, how you get to mate and have lots of children, how we gain immorality -- by bullying, right?

But bullying is "wrong" and we must stop it.

Google up the plethora of images generated by the stop bullying movement.  It has become a cause -- alter human nature, don't master it.

We must expunge a behavior, not understand and harness it for the survival of the Group?  

Look carefully at the images you can find if you Google stop bullying meme.

They are about some figure with power and authority commanding those of lesser power or authority (adult to child for example) to go out and stop other people from bullying.  Or to alter your behavior so that I don't think you are a bully.  Nobody notices they are exhorting people to bully people into not bullying.

In that group of memes are also memes about those with issues pleading for others not to bully them because of those issues (weight, gender, ethnicity, a wide variety portraying their group as begging not to be bullied).

I see few if any memes noting that authority commanding bullies not to bully is bullying the bully into not bullying.  

What exactly is bullying?  And why is it wrong?  

The answers to those questions become your THEME.  There are hundreds of valid answers to both those questions.  If you are writing Science Fiction Romance using an Alien-Human couple, you have to invent the Alien physiology.  Consider primates incorporate the bullying behavior in all the species we know of -- what if your Aliens don't have the bullying gene?

At what age do humans begin serious bullying?

I'd bet it is sexual maturity.  Kindergarten kids jostle and fight for place in the pack, but until sexual maturity begins it isn't so much dominance behavior as it is currying favor with (parents, teachers) Authority.  

That jostling for position in the pack, tribe, or family becomes bullying when testosterone floods the virgin system.  Girls bully, too, but mostly other girls.  

In both male and female, bullying is a method of eliminating competition for a mate.  That's a THEME.  Or you could take the opposite statement as your theme -- that bullying has nothing to do with sex.

But consider that the worst bullies, alone or in packs, do it because they enjoy it, they get a physical endorphin payoff from making another human cower.  And they also love the feeling of power over others -- it is a rush.  

Some studies show how bullies become bullies by having been bullied -- as a way of getting revenge on their abusers, they abuse others who had nothing to do with abusing them.  

Thus, (THEME) parents who are too strict cause their children to become bullies because the parents have taught (by show don't tell) that Might Makes Right.

If you can force someone to behave as you prefer them to, then you are teaching them that in order to be able to behave freely, they must simply gain the strength to use that much force.  

One definition of bullying includes the idea that it is "bullying" only if the person who wields the most force (or authority) is using that superiority to alter the behavior of another, weaker person.  

PICK ON SOMEONE YOUR OWN SIZE used to be the school-yard mantra that taught pre-teens not to bully.

Why wouldn't a natural bully actually bully?  Because early in the impressionable teen years when social acceptance becomes the major goal of life, PICK ON SOMEONE YOUR OWN SIZE was shouted at them by mobs of other children, dripping contempt for punching down.

Fighting, and violence are just fine as long as it is kept between equals, each with the same chance to damage to the other.

Thus, if two toughs square off in a back alley, one with a gun and the other with a knife, they both throw their weapons aside and go at it bare knuckled.  The winner is honorable and the loser concedes.

Go read those articles on testosterone mentioned in the previous posts on turning a Hunk into a Father.  After certain definitive experiences, a man's testosterone level subsides -- losing a fight is one of those experiences, and losing a fight to a woman is emphatically more-so.

So the "bully" is formed from the childhood experience of fighting to the top of the pack in class, on the streets of the neighborhood, or just in the family or the orphanage.  The urge to keep on fighting a fight that's already been won is intrinsic in human nature.  So when testosterone surges in the teen years, it fuels the aggression of the male and sizzles through all the nearby females.

If the child has not grown up surrounded by other children who insist that a powerful person must never "pick on someone weaker" -- but may hammer it out with someone "the same size," -- then testosterone focuses that campaign for dominance on the weaker targets, the easier targets.  

Thus, with the understanding of how testosterone works in humans, we can understand why the oldest wisdom about stopping bullies simply is to stand up to them.  Beat the bloody hell out of a bully, and they will never touch you again -- if the bullying is testosterone driven.  
If the bullying is merely verbal - speak up, speak out.  
If it is physical, deck them. 

There is also the case of the weakest in a family or class learning the art of passive-aggressive bullying, playing the victim, framing others for their crime.  Wonderfully complex themes about the use and abuse of power lie in that.  

But consider carefully, how the world has changed, and the trajectory of change in the near future.  

Should today's parents ban the ball point pen of this age -- social media?

Are total permissiveness and total banning the only possible parental responses?  

They are the only possible choices for those who do not understand why teenagers are the way they are.  

Social media will have a worse impact on an 18 year old who moves out, goes to college, or joins the army if they have never been exposed to it during teen years.  But since social media never existed when these parents were growing up, they have no clue how to step their children through this adaptation.  

Think about what the teen years actually are for.  Watch elementary and middle school children in the school yard.  Watch the 7th graders and compare to the 4th graders.

The 4th graders run around, organize sports contests, climb and swing on the slides and monkey bars, and generally compete with each other to perform spectacular feats.

The 7th graders begin to spend their yard time standing around in circles, talking, sharing.  The girls start standing around in groups at a younger point than the boys, but they all end up grouping.  And then groups become rivals.

The early years are to develop a sense of self, of "I can do it," and the teen years are to develop socialization -- "Who Am I Among This Group" -- status, clothing, hair, sexual attractiveness, other-oriented thinking develops.

Young children have a circle of acquaintances, maybe from pre-school play-dates, through kindergarten, and then classes of 10 or 20 other kids the same age.

Generally, we now divide schools into elementary and middle-school to keep the naturally separate ages apart.  It's not developmentally healthy to mix too wide an age range -- never mind our great-grandparents grew up in the one-room school of all ages and one teacher.

So by the end of middle-school, children have a social circle of a few dozen people their own age, and even fewer than that older and younger.

The human brain develops gradually through the teen years, but critically.

A young teen can't do what an 18 year old can -- and the 18 year old is a crippled baby next to the 25 year old.

The purpose in the teen years is socialization, readying to join civilization.

The brain is being conditioned to the modern world (pre-agriculture, societies required different brain synapse configurations -- a person might never know more than 200 people in a lifetime).  

The teen brain is being wired to function, to adapt to, modern social requirements.

But the teen is driven by testosterone flooding a virgin system, prompting that system to develop aggressive tendencies.  (teens rebel against parents - it's what they do!)

So if you present your 12 year old with a smartphone, in about an hour or two, that 12 year old's social circle will have gone from 150 people total, of all ages, to hundreds of millions on Facebook.

That is way too big a shock for the human brain to adapt to.

Thiis is especially true if this teen boy has not had all his contemporaries circling around him shouting, "go pick on someone your own size." 

Not "don't pick on anyone, ever" -- but pick only on someone who can fight back in a way that will hurt you as much as you hurt them.

True, your 12 year old will "connect" first to others in his class, church group, family, people he knows -- but it is called a social network for a reason.  All the people in his class have relatives in other states -- in other countries, and they all have "liked" "pages" selling, purveying, explaining everything under the sun.

It is a culture shock situation -- overwhelming and horrible.  

It hits hardest on those teens who have been prevented from talking to strangers or otherwise walled and protected from the public square --- those without street creds.

THEME: proper parenting requires protection of helpless children even if that protection keeps the children from developing self-sufficiency, so children never grow up to become bullies.
THEME: proper parenting requires teaching children that they are responsible for the consequences of their actions.  Teach them to use tools, not to be used by tools.  The knife did not cut you; you cut yourself with it.

THEME: proper parenting requires gradual, stepped, programmed introduction of children into how to talk to, behave around, and interact with strangers, especially adults.  How to spot predators, how to disengage from seducers.  Proper parenting requires inoculation of children against predators gradually and systematically.

Now, consider all 3 sets of Characters with their different beliefs and different Templates sorting data into information.  All 3 sets of Characters identify their information as FACTS, and are dedicated to the reality of facts.

The three sets of Characters are fighting over control of a School -- say in a PTA Election, or a Board of Education Election (or even a Mayoral race).

Set just 50 years from now, you can weave in an Artificial Intelligence designed to run schools according to some world-wide agreed on (actually imposed by the U.N.?) nice-sounding but insidious curriculum.

How do the 3 sets of Characters vie for the attention of the A.I. -- how do they convince the A.I. the programming given to it is wrong, evil, monstrous, and setting humanity up for failure, death, extinction?

Worse, what if the A.I. already knows that's true, and is doing it to drive humanity (or at least the smartest ones) to extinction?

How can Love Conquer All and lead this group of 4 major conflicting elements (make it at least 4 long novels) to a Happily Ever After?  

Can the 3 groups (who loathe each other, of course) jointly convince this A.I. individual, and get this A.I. to go up against the swarm or gaggle of A.I.'s now running the world and enlighten them about why humanity is worth preserving (because we are capable of Love)?

Could the solution to countering a dictatorship of Artificial Intelligence be to directly connect human brains to machine intelligence, to communicate without words?  

To convince A.I.'s that humanity is worth saving, would you first have to expunge the bully-tendency from human nature?  Could that be possible?  Would you still have "humans" if they were incapable of bullying?  

Or are these Artificial Intelligences programmed in our image, to be bigger, stronger, faster bullies than we can ever be?

Presumably, an Artificial Intelligence would be the more powerful in a match up with a human, so any force the AI used against a human would (technically) by definition be bullying.

Would humanity, then, in logical self-defense adopt the passive-aggressive counter to bullying, sniping from the cover of being the victim?

Do we beg the A.I.'s to stop bullying us -- or do we beat the stuffing out of them?  

It is possible our entire food and energy supply will be run by Artificial Intelligence by then.  If we beat them into submission, they retaliate by turning off the food and energy we need that they don't?   White Mutiny?  Going on strike?  

Do the streets fill with robots demonstrating for equal rights?  

How can love conquer such a situation?  

Pick a theme.  Pick a time in future history.  Pick a Character and generate his opposition from his internal story.  What does he want to do, why does he want to do it, and who wants to stop him and why?

Can Love between a human and an A.I. actually resolve this problem?

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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