And what about your information diet?

News vs Food → reflection on all this mess of today with a vision of better tomorrow if we would use similar approach to information as we do to food.
(If you're not much into reading long unknown texts, just skip to the last section or even last paragraph at the end to read the conclusion first.)

It's none of a secret that on-line media like news, social-networks or games needs you. They want your presence, your time, your engagement, your choices and will with more and more success bring interesting information to you. You're getting what you want, what you are responding to.

If you look at our pandemic of 2021, there has never been more time spent on-line as nowadays. No one can get away without being informed. Public announcement on Friday followed by law passed and approved on Sunday that starting Monday no one is allowed to go out and physically meet with friends for next three weeks. Now be the one who doesn't care about politics!...

Crazy times, especially over here in western Europe where people are not so used to state despotism, not used to sit locked-down hopeless at home against their will, with reasons that are barely to follow, without hope for the future and without options because anyone can report their misbehaving to the authorities. No wonder there is an immense spread of conspiracy theories all around trying to find "that power" which changed their lives so much that nothing is valid and nothing makes sense any more.

And new intelligence was born

When you're young, you look at television and think, There's a conspiracy. The networks have conspired to dumb us down. But when you get a little older, you realize that's not true. The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That's a far more depressing thought. Conspiracy is optimistic! You can shoot the bastards! We can have a revolution! But the networks are really in business to give people what they want. It's the truth. --Steve Jobs

This guy died in 2011, he only lived to experience start of this always on-line, always connected, immediately and globally informed news age. He was talking about the entertainment media of back then, when feedback was not immediate and could not be tracked with such a precision, running at much longer iterations. Back then it was possible to catch breath before the next shocking experience.

Around 2011 was the time when so called deep-learning-networks came to an existence, welcoming Distbelief framework that allowed to build larger neural networks and scale training to thousands of computers in their data-centers. For the first time in a big scale humans were able to define inputs and output and let the computational power figure it's way out how. In short this deep-learning-neural-network-problem-solving thing is called "artificial intelligence" or simply AI.

Training AI is like training a dog. You give dog an input - "sit", "lay", "bring", "bark" and you reward his neural system when he'll do the right thing or punish when not. Some dogs perform better, some worse, people keep the ones that serve their purpose of guarding of hunting of stunts better. Get those which are already pre-trained. The key to training is to keep the inputs clear. You don't yell commands in different tone, or you don't use different whistle every time. To train AI the biggest engineering challenge is to purify and filter the inputs and set clear outputs or outcomes. With immense computational power, through many levels of iterations, AI develops neural network that will do just the right thing - classify an animal on a picture, for instance. The point here is that no one can tell how or why, because of the neural network complexity. It just works. Your dog is obedient to your inputs, but will make funny face at me when I tell him to sit. Why? Because his neurons were not trained to my inputs.

Difference between dog and AI is similar as between horse and car. We no longer have to wait for the right breed to select and train. We no longer have to wait years for horses to multiply and to grow up. All we need is to throw in initial immense effort into development. Afterwards all we need is materials and energy and we can have billions of vehicles all around the globe that do exactly the right thing the right way. Technical revolution that has accelerated our lives for ever.

Difference between dog and AI is that AI has no evolutionary records, has no experience and has no conscience. Will turn inputs into outputs in any unimaginably or unpredictable way that will bring results. What Steve Jobs called "networks", nowadays we can call online-media. And without a doubt they reached their ultimate goal of maximizing screen time for us. Countless people all across the globe, with their instant notifications on are at home with nothing else to do than wait for their next interruption. Some even locked down for weeks by their own governments for their own health and safety.

The conspiracy is that there is no conspiracy. You don't blame fast food chains for nation wide obesity, as well you don't blame media for locking-in peoples minds. AI suggestion algorithms are at their peaks, will prove anyone right after two clicks. They've figured out how to exploit human weaknesses, give them superior feelings, fear, hatred or what ever they're reaching for and thanks to that it diverged human against human and sends them together into dumps of endless on-line posts and discussions.

Virtual is the new real

The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. --Jeff Hammerbacher

And these very best minds developed AI for us to that extend that the virtual world became more appealing, more real than the world outside of our windows. Internet allowed for the biggest shift from manufacturing something physical, into manufacturing something virtual for our needs. Less time spent on physical, more time left for psychological. Facing over population of our planet, this may actually be quite a good strategic move.

People used to be confused while surviving inside the concrete city jungle full of factories, traffic, cinemas and malls. They were living there with a fading memories of their villages, of fields, of hills and domestic animals. Knowing or ignoring the fact that none of that would be anything familiar or of meaning to their children.

Neo: I thought it wasn't real. Morpheus: Your mind makes it real.

We are on the edge of new future - a virtual future. As we can not deny existence and importance of city-reality, we can not deny existence and importance of virtual-reality that has actually became the reality for many of us. What villager could never do in his home village, for that city with thousands of strangers offered endless possibilities to. Good or bad. What used to be physically and time impossible, data-center virtuality with thousands of computers offer endless possibilities to. Good or bad.

News vs Food

To eat intelligently means to understand and supply the kind of fuel the body is designed for so that it can function at its best. The way you eat not only decides your physical health it decides the very way you think, feel and experience life. --Sadhguru

Now we are here, some came, some were pulled and some pushed into global virtual-reality. What ever work is the AI logic, no arguments, input→AI→outcome. Liking it or fearing it, we are here, we better learn how to survive how to stay sane. Nature survival rule is: adapt or die. Society survival rule is: adapt or leave. Due to current state of globalization, there is nowhere to leave any more.

Information we consume is food for our psyche. We all know how to recognize food that makes us fit and healthy and that which makes us sick or addicted. Can we recognize which news makes us fit and healthy and that which makes us feel sick and addicted?

"What nutritious value has this food for me?" Many ask. "What information value has this news for me?" Same coin from the other side. Even good food, when eaten excessively would lead to obesity, make us "live to eat" and not "eat to live". The spectrum for food plans and diets is huge - vegans, vegetarians, fasting, fat-free, vegetable-rich, etc. But what about information diets? What is the healthy ratio of news intake? There is a different spectrum of food needed for construction worker and different for software engineer to stay healthy and productive through the day. Same applies for virtual food.

As you're reasonable with food, be reasonable with your time on-line. Don't blame anyone for treating you with junk food full of flavor enhancers. You have the choice of what is healthy and good for you. You don't have to throw away your smart phone and retreat into a cave in Himalayan. Turning your wifi or mobile data (data connections) on only three times a day will already do a lot. If there is anything really urgent, anyone can call you, right?

When you renounce something, you're stuck to it forever. When you fight something, you're tied to it forever. As long as you're fighting it, you are giving it power. --Anthony De Mello

Why does this matter? It's thanks to, or because of, news and on-line interaction why we are where we are now - sitting at home, polarized, proving ourselves right, the others stupid. Suggestion AI algorithms made a great job of pulling all our attention together and motivate the only right one outcome there is. Which is to keep us on-line by any means.

Does this makes you angry? Sad? Happy? Relieved? Wanting-more? Energized? Excited? Justified? Sick? Cheered? Encouraged? Is this all actually relevant to you and to life around you? As it's wise to take your time for a short rest after your meal, take a pause after this article or after your favorite social-media session and watch your own feeling, thoughts and emotions. This is also called meditation or contemplation and it's that moment of silence when your body and mind are allowed to speak to you.

Technology, virtual-reality and AI is a gift to the humankind. It's one of the miracles, something completely impossible yesterday made possible today, but as with all other man-made inventions, we should handle it with care, as it can be used for and against us at any time. We are responsible for what we've created.

I can't tell you what goodness is, I can only tell you what it is like. It is like the sun that radiates everything, that warms everything, that makes everything fertile and brings forth everything. --Rober S. Hartman

If it was one thing I wanted to tell with this article, then it would be: Be careful what you consume, keep away from junk, poisonous or addictive media that just throws you into despair or makes you running around in circles. Be moderate with consumption and choose that which makes you fit, healthy and alive to accomplish better life for all of us on this planet. As with food, so with news. "Does this though, action or emotion make life around me perish or flourish? And so is it really worth caring and sharing?" should be among the most important questions to ask first.