Feb 27, 2023Liked by Benn Stancil

I know all of these exact behaviours, I used to incredibly afraid of flying, but I never wanted it to prevent me from traveling. So all of the counting, listening to changes, obsessively watching the little plane on the map as we progress to finally be done with the terror tube. Being a data person, I decided that it was a "good idea" to consult the NTSB accident and incident reports (https://www.ntsb.gov/Pages/AviationQuery.aspx) which sort of helped, because there you see the majority of incidents are your garden variety "whoops!" on the tarmac between vehicles, severe turbulence that injures someone who doesn't pay attention to the seatbelt sign, or some problem with the APU. (not life threatening) Then one day, my fear just stopped. I don't know how, I was doing a lot of flying at the time, so maybe that was it, but now I don't have that gut twisting dread whilst flying. (Save for a few lingering tics)

But to your point about AI and emotional manipulation, I think this is a very real thing that needs to be explored further. I suspect there's some very smart AI Ethics people that are on it, but not getting the attention that it needs.

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Feb 26, 2023Liked by Benn Stancil

On the flying anxiety part. For me, visiting a cognitive behavior therapist helped a lot. More specifically - understanding distinction between rumination and "productive" thought. And now, when I sense the begining of a "negative loop" ("counting down the long minutes until we land"; "remind myself the wings are still upright"; "I monitor for changes in pressure or speed, listen for new engine pitches or hisses in the ventilation, and try to detect hidden connotations in announcements") I'm trying to shift me focus onto something more "productive" (listen to podcasts or music; read a book; watch a movie; sleep).

On the "are we in charge of the AI, or is the AI in charge of us?". As with anxiety, the goal is not try to control anxiety (the more I tried, the more it took control of me), but accept it and let it be (it usually goes away in 20 minutes without additional negative food, as our brain not designed to stay in this state for too long without substantial reason).

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I also developed a bad flight anxiety on a single flight after college that lasted for probably 15 years. Oh man—“the heart-stopping announcement that flight attendants will need to discontinue their service for a few minutes.” The worst for me are trans-Atlantic and trans-pacific flights. Though amazingly, something about 2 years of constant pandemic anxiety seems to have cured me. We’ll find out—I’m reading this post as I wait to board a flight!!

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