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Writing, Medium, A.I., Dhamma, Art, and not Living on Fresh Air Alone

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 5 Oct 2023, 21:56


Have been writing a lot on Medium. I like it that they have decided to set the default flag to 'no' for allowing A.I. to train on the site's content. 

I don't know if putting writing behind a paywall also helps to protect one's writing from being fed into a large language model, but I have decided to do that now. I put my best polished work on there.

Medium encourages one to work hard on their articles, which is good, and the financial incentive does work as a carrot on a stick to work harder at carefully crafting my articles, especially when submitting to a publication (magazine) on there. The editors of publications I have got feedback from have been really helpful in me improving my writing.

I don't think it is fair that A.I. companies are just hoovering everyone's content off the Internet to train their machines without asking permission or compensating authors for it. Especially as these companies are for-profit. Using people's hard work to make money, without acknowledging them or sharing any of the profits with the artists whose work they've used is wrong.

Another thing that concerns me, is if enough of your content is fed into the machines, they can start to mimic your style. And that could be used by people wanting to market and promote stuff, (stuff you might not agree with), and to create propaganda, and deep fakes. That gives me the creeps. We are entering a world were noone will know what is true anymore. People will be smeared by deep fakes that look real, and those who are not victims of deep fakes will claim to be, when something true is reported about them that they don't want people to know. It is a very disturbing and troubling world we are heading towards. One were critical thinking will be invaluable. 

The sad thing is we are all conditioned to believe what we see on a screen. So one is going to have to be very careful about what they trust in the future. Now in fact, the future is already here.

I am about to study A.I. for the next module on this degree. I am not sure I am well enough to work in an office again, or do long hours, or if I want to work for companies that steal people's data to make money. I am hoping to make a livelihood with writing, as that's where I feel passion when it comes to making a living. But it won't hurt to learn about how A.I. and machine learning works, and I also may be able to make a living writing articles about it in the future. So studying this will not be a waste of my time.

I like writing about dhamma mostly (dhamma means truth), even though it isn't that popular, I feel that others may benefit from it, even if my writing just helps one person it's worth it.

Also a few Buddhist friends and a Buddhist monk encouraged me to write, so I will do it for them as well.

And because of the love of it. Because I find putting things into words cathartic. Attempting to articulate things helps me understand them better.

I also want to write more poetry, and more about the environmental catastrophe facing the world, the sixth mass extinction event we are currently living in, and the disturbing social issues of today; but in a way that doesn’t come across as a rant or judgemental. I don’t want to put readers off, I want to connect with them.
I want to find a way to write that helps this world in some way.

Money is helpful though, don't get me wrong, I can’t live on fresh air; but if I use money as the motivation it can kill my ability to write and make art, I don't know why, so I have to pretend I am not bothered about money, even though earning feels very nice. But I have to be careful as it gives Mara, the dark side of the force, a foot in the door to wind me up and upset the balance of my mind.

I shouldn't worry too much about it though. For all I know, my time here might be short. It would be a shame to die without having at least tried to share some of what I know. It might help someone else out there.

Peace and love to all beings.

May we all be serene and boundless.



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Asoka

New blog post

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 10 Aug 2023, 20:02


That's enough blogging for a bit. Went a bit mental there with all my posting. I read somewhere that the ideal amount of times to post to a blog is about 2 - 4 times a week. Otherwise readers get over saturated.

I'll try to keep that in mind in future. I get a bit carried away sometimes.

Anyway back to the studying, got an exam to revise for.

Right livelihood is part of the noble eightfold path too. I need to find some way to make a living.

Peace and love to all beings.

May we all be safe, well, peaceful, and happy.

...

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Asoka

Studying, fatigue and livelihood

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Fatigue is challenging today. I think I may be recovering from COVID. A neighbour last week told me they had it. And I was sick on Thursday last week and through the weekend. the symptoms were mild this time, just a general malaise, but the fatigue really knocked the wind out of my sails.

I am behind with my studying again. It is hard going. I read a paragraph, reflect on it and realise I have not absorbed the information at all. So I read it again, and still can't get my head round it. I see the words on the screen, but can't seem to extract their meaning. It is frustrating. 

It is tiring reading from a screen. I could print out the course materials, but printer ink isn't cheap and the cartridges don't seem to last long, and there's a lot of course materials to print out. Just too expensive to do that.

I get on much better with the practical activities. I like those best. It's the reading from a screen and note-taking that's really tiring. It is hard to motivate myself to do it at times.

 I don't enjoy studying anymore, it feels like I am doing a degree in suffering.

Cyber security is not an easy subject to learn, it is complicated, and not the most intuitive thing in the world. There's no wonder there's a skill shortage. Still, if I can finish this degree which is getting harder, (like wading through sludge). I should be able to secure a livelihood in the future I think.

 I have decided to remain in the household life a bit longer. People need me around still, and going off into homelessness would not be responsible or kind to those around me at this time. 

I will try to limit the hours I work though. I honestly cannot work long hours, I get so fatigued sometimes. Nor do I want all my life energy to be spent working at a livelihood. I want to practise meditation too, and it is hard to practise if one is tired after working, with a stressed mind full of worldly stuff and the delusion of self. 

 When I am sick or dieing it isn't cyber security or my knowledge of A.I. and machine learning I will be reaching out for. My career path will feel meaningless then. It will be my knowledge and experience of dhamma, my spiritual development, my friendships, my skill in meditation that will matter then.

Livelihood is just something to pay the bills, feed and clothe the body. But I don't want it to become my life.

Need to find a middle way. 


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Asoka

What knowledge matters in the end?

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 26 Mar 2023, 17:59


Back to studying today. Currently learning about cryptography and how it is used in cyber security. Very tiring to learn actually. Involves a lot of reading, making notes, and trying to understand at times difficult concepts. Feels like wading through treacle.

I have fallen behind by about a week now. And the amount of studying that still needs to be done feels daunting. I talked myself into soldiering on with it though, despite the great reluctance I felt to continue.

Cyber security will be a useful skill to know. So much of our world is run by computers now. And it could be of service to others, to good people, such as Buddhists and other noble organisations that have websites. They are just as vulnerable to cyber attack as anywhere else online. So learning this is not a waste of my time.

I just keep thinking, when death comes cyber security will be the last thing on my mind, it won't mean anything then. My career is not what I will turn to when the body begins to shutdown, when consciousness has to leave this body. It will be all the time I spent learning dhamma that matters then.

It is one of the sufferings of the world I guess, this need to have a livelihood and make an income.

'It's a bitter-sweet symphony this life.
Try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money - then you die.'

The worldly winds..... blowing one this way and that.... that way and this.... pain and pleasure, gain and loss, success and failure, praise and blame... these winds blow one across the treacherous seas of Samsara.



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Asoka

World's on fire

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 28 Feb 2022, 13:51

Eyes blink non-chalantly at ominous events.

Poverty looms and the inner critic judges me.
But with building a livelihood I am stuck.

Felt comforted by my paintings when sick. But cannot seem to make money with my art.
I am not good at promotion and selling.
And lack of energy is a problem.

I contemplated like the Buddha, leaving the household life and going forth into homlessness as a solution. Concluding that maybe in the future that could well be my fate, but it won’t be easy to live that way, especially when I often feel unwell and fatigued. And walking around with an almsbowl just isn’t going to cut it here, nobody is likely to support me, and many will most likely despise me and get angry, so there needs to be another way to eat/survive. Perhaps if I go forth in faith, with courage like the Buddha, I won’t starve.

The five skandhas are empty.
And there is no-self.
But one still has a responsibility to look after the body.


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Asoka

Livelihood, kindness and equanimity

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The cost of living has sky-rocketed here. Food and energy bills are a lot more expensive than they were this time last year. We are really not able to live within our means anymore and have become dependent on generous family members to help us out. I feel ashamed, but also trying to balance that, as I know from experience self-loathing is no help at all. The other extreme is also unhelpful:  too much self-grandiosity. So one has to get as close to the centre as possible with these states of mind. (I imagine it like a needle on a dial, where I am trying to keep the needle in the green area.) But do so with kindness towards oneself, this makes the experience all the sweeter and easier I am finding. The mind works better when it feels loved, especially by oneself. 

So I am finding myself stuck on the 'Right Livelihood' aspect of the path just now. I have discovered this year, rather unpleasantly and quite painfully, I do not seem to have much ability for maths or computing anymore. I really seem to be struggling with the module I am studying this year on computability and algorithms. I am suddenly not sure software development and coding is realistically going to be something I want to or can do anymore as a career.

I enjoy painting, but I cannot support myself financially with painting, I have not yet sold a single painting or a print after nearly a year of trying. I just cannot for the life of me do the marketing involved, I have tried and failed repeatedly. I do not seem to have the right personality and not really cut out for it. I just want to paint, not spend all my time in self-promotion, my mind just won't work that way.

 Sadly chronic pain and faitigue makes even shelf-stacking at the local supermarket impossible. I think from now on I will only be able to work part-time from home, which is not enough to live on these days. I am at a loss with how to realise 'Right livelihood' if I am honest, this is not an easy part of the Noble eight-fold path for me. I am very uncertain as to how to proceed or how I am going to support myself in the coming years. Again I have to be careful not to get overwhelmed by negative states of mind here. I must face all this with kindness and equanimity, remembering to cut myself some slack, because shame and self-loathing is no help either. It is important to balance my life with the other aspects of the path and not just spend all my time and energy focusing on livelihood. One must not neglect the other parts of the mind. If I do not look after the whole of the mind. I will be in danger of becoming burnt out, unwell and unable to do anything. 

Equanimity is a careful balancing act, which is itself balanced out by kindness. Metta (loving-kindness) and Upekkha (equanimity) are like a knife and fork, they compliment one another and support one another perfectly on the path to enlightenment. 


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