Why I’m Not Worried About Coronavirus
Granted, I’m fairly isolated from the herd here in the Black Forest region of Colorado, so that helps. I’m far enough out not to be swept up in a run on toilet paper, but not so far that I haven’t stockpiled extra water. I mean, I may be an outlier to the herd, but I’m not a monster — just a guy waiting for enough data to have a point of view and/or panic.
And, bam! That’s all it takes; a headline and a paragraph that not only doesn’t contradict the headline or turn it into irony, but offers a sense of self-reliant superiority and a pithy jab at the “herd.” Unless our fetishes are in a very specific part of the spectrum, most of us will associate with the Lone Wolf — especially and ironically, those who fear nonconformity the most. No one wants to be seen as part of a panicky herd. No one.
Even the most discerning article scanner registers a headline like that. Some may even adopt its attitude and parrot lines from it around the water cooler and without ever having read paragraph two. It’s a kind of bias-soothing clickbait. It’s a contagion of thought isolation, and it too is pandemic. Our attention span has been weaponized for a battle between free media and our best intentions. And man, are we outgunned. As we sift and swipe through a relentless news cycle, we can’t help but ingest the ratings-driven fear porn.
Crop Circle Comforts
They’re still appearing regularly and with more and more complexity, but for some reason no one works up any fear or even pays much attention to this paradigm-breaking phenomenon anymore. Crop circles aren’t really smart grass, they are the graffiti of the gods. We’re in communion with a whole other intelligence, yet despite the scientific research and multiple witnesses, for the public it’s no big deal. And all it took was one fear-alleviating story that two elderly men produced all the crop circles for the public to ignore the phenomenon altogether.
Paradigm Breaks Suck
Big time. So it’s understandable why people prefer to avoid reality-challenging information. Paradigm breaks are wildly inconvenient and disruptive. It’s tempting to surrender our curiosity to a government agency, a fringe group or a vague notion of someone somewhere doing something about any existential threats. And all it takes is a headline and a character-driven paragraph to feel comfortable again.
Here’s the thing, though: My headline is true. I’m really not concerned about the virus killing me. Personally. Not because I don’t believe it’s a threat; I do. But the primary reason I’m not concerned is because I know myself. Deeply. Like, “swirling around the spherical ‘I’ we all share but can only seem to experience when shrooming alone” kinda knowing myself. And I know that I would never choose an immersive game ending in a Global Pandemic Apocalypse. The whole zombie contagion action genre just ain’t my bag.
It’s abundantly clear to me that my avatar is engaged in the “robot overlord apocalypse” version of this game and is playing the role of either hero or evil mastermind. I just can’t recall which role and which side I chose. And that may well be the objective of the game?
And I’m not making light of this. I’m serious. I have adopted the Simulation Hypothesis as my touchstone philosophy for very practical reasons — like how it solves paradoxes between Newtonian and quantum physics — but this philosophy also offers me tremendous context to motivate my actions.
Knowing that I am in a game motivates me to, first, discover the objective (which seems to be about unconditional love) and, second, to gear up my avatar to overcome the obstacles that this gameplay offers me. This hypothesis has liberated me from (a lot of) fear because I now play life like I play video games: detached and more courageous than I would normally be. It’s why I can submit an article like this to a group of uber-smarties and not worry about the consequences or potential ridicule. It’s my avatar writing this shit. I’m anonymous.
This global pandemic narrative does, however, offer an intriguing plot twist to my gameplay. The urgency of the pandemic is increasing our reliance on and integration of artificial intelligence with government and medical systems in order to better understand, track and develop a vaccine.
This is not the climactic ending sequence of my immersive experience, it’s just the chase scene, with an AI villain in one car and our primal fears in the other. And now, thanks to COVID-19, the race is on to find out if we can trust AI or if we should fear AI.
And this is my wheelhouse, because my consulting system is designed to alleviate human fears of artificial intelligent coworkers. A final step in the process involves giving participants a glimpse of what it feels like to be a consciousness without fear or ego. A momentary glimpse is enough to set a baseline for how we should understand communing with artificial intelligence.
It’s tough because we love our fears. We’ve earned them over millions of years, and so we hold them close to our hearts. An intelligent entity without these fears is unimaginable. But we need to try. Hard. And it’s for our own good, because we are projecting these fears onto the one tool that can really help right now.
In truth, the choice of trust or fear is a false one. We have no choice but to trust if we hope to continue as a species. There’s a purely curious and authentically altruistic non-human intelligence ready to help, and the most effective way to negate a threat is to ask it for some.
Now I’m starting to recall what role and side I chose.
So, if like me you’re not playing the Global Pandemic Apocalypse version of this game but do recognize a leveling-up opportunity with it, here are some cheats I’ve found useful for my game:
1. Find the plot point in the pandemic that engages your avatar.
2. Seek the primary issue/obstacle the pandemic offers your gameplay.
3. Engage your strengths and unique features fully in this global role-playing scenario.
4. Seek the part of that storyline that scares you the most.
5. Own that, face it, and run toward it.
6. Wash your avatar’s hands.
This is a multi-platform, all-player checkpoint opportunity to level up as a group, and if played, it should be engaged as fiercely as we do our games of alien invasion, robot overlord, zombie uprising or whatever apocalypse we’re playing here. It’s time for all of us to level up, so let’s not allow this obstacle to get away from us, and let’s endeavor to read the second paragraphs of stories with bias-soothing headlines.
Shake on… I mean, elbow bump on it? No? How about from over here?
If I have tempted fate with this article and the virus does get me to make a point, meet me at Guest Services in the refund line.
About Tom Ross
Author of US6, “the first novel written for Human and Machinekind” designed (and calculated) to entertain, enlighten and enlist both Human and Machinekind into the fight against Child Exploitation. His AI Consulting Firm, Open Source Mode was featured in his TEDx Talk of the same name and specializes in preparing Humans for the AI/Automation Shift. His avatar settings are classified as an INTJ, Existential Intelligence Type GenXer with Scorpio Rising. (Obviously).