What a year. With pandemics, racial unrest, a slew of natural disasters, and a bizarre seemingly unending election, it seems like 2020 was determined to be uniquely remembered in the history books. Well, it succeeded. People who are old enough can reportedly just say “1968” to each other, and the meaning is clear. For the rest of our lives, it seems like we’ll be able to say “2020” to each other and it will invoke a host of similar feelings.
It’s also been a year of personal challenges for me. Some of it pandemic related. I lost a couple of relatives and an old friend to the virus, and watched as a number of others got sick, most with only mild cases, but a few who were debilitated for weeks and months. And I’ve had a couple of my own health challenges, minor ones to be sure, but exacerbated by the pandemic situation. And it’s been a year of career ups and downs, and struggling to decide whether it’s time to retire and move on to the next phase of life.
As I’ve noted before, it was also a time of change for the blog. I was forced to switch themes earlier this year, something that I let distract me and consume far more time than it should have. And more recently I’ve had to get used to this new editor. (I mostly am used to it now, but there remain things about it that drive me crazy.) I’ve noticed a number of prominent bloggers go through similar transitions. In a misery-loves-company sort of way, it’s a relief to know others found it as aggravating as I did.
According to the site stats, there were 106 posts between last year’s Christmas post and this one. Not as much as last year, but still a decent run. And the shorter post style seems to be working, even though I have to constantly be on guard against blathering on for far longer. And together we put down 4,123 comments so far in 2020.
As always, my online friends and our discussions of consciousness, AI, space, science fiction, physics, and many other topics have been a desperately needed escape. Most of us seem to share a hunger for wonder, tempered with a healthy dose of skepticism, with some interesting disagreements on where the borders lie. I’m grateful to all of you for the many intelligent and mind expanding conversations we’ve had.
Along those lines and related to Christmas, maybe I’ve been underestimating the dangers of AI after all: The ghost of Christmas yet to come: how an AI ‘SantaNet’ might end up destroying the world. Clearly the danger of Christmaspocalypse is worse than I imagined.
Whatever Christmas means to you, I hope you and your friends and family are safe and enjoying this holiday season, and look forward to all the conversations we’ll have in 2021.