Reality Blind - Vol. 1

will often result in disappointment. If you order a fantastic array of sushi and the waiter instead brings you a piece of bread, you will have a plunge in dopamine levels that creates an immediate (strong) craving for sushi. It is this delta between expected reward and reality that underlies much of our modern behavioral reactions. Our current culture and technology are geared towards providing a steady smorgasbord of novel stimuli. Unfortunately, this perpetual stream of “unexpected reward” bo th leads to habituation and addiction, and as we’ll see later, is currently very predicated on non - renewable resources. TaaL: There is simply no limit to the amount of reward humans can learn to expect, and quickly habituate to. This was never much of a problem when trekking the savannahs as nomadic hunters: much of life had an “unexpected” edge to it, leading to more frequent joy and fear (and then joy). Exosomatic possessions were minimal: a necklace, a colored stone, a carved antler, a prized stone knife. There were inherent limits to unexpected reward, so there was no reason for the selection of a neural mechanism for “ I have enough rewards ”. So even though you now DO have far more than enough (on average), you have no inherent ability to be satiated by it. (That is a difficult skill to be mastered; few try and fewer succeed, but it can be done). Do you notice other humans getting all freaked out if they’re given unsolicited spoilers to Game of Thrones? The info doesn’t really matter to their lives, but it kills their unexpected reward. If you go to Vegas and bet $5 a hand on blackjack and the guy next to you is betting $10,000, both of you humans are ‘feeling’ the same thing as the cards are turned over. The unexpected reward sensation of the cards being turned over (or shopping or stock market investing) is mostly untethered to resource use or scale. The flip side of unexpected reward is the non-occurrence of an expected reward , what the authors here have called the “Christmas Pony Effect”. At taining realistic rewards can feel insufficient in comparison with unrealistic imaginary ones, and this may have a profound effect on human potential to move toward benign futures. Moreover, the civilization your human predecessors have created, with 24/7 baseload power, stocked supermarkets, commoditized products, generic toilet seats, zoning and all else has pretty much eliminated unexpected reward from natural things. You are, thus, no longer happy when it rains or do dances when the wind blows. You have rendered your world predictable and have demanded that such predictability be maintained whilst you get your unexpected reward from new gadgets. And you insist on esoteric explanations for why you’re depressed...


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