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Why I Call Myself Socrates


My name is Nikola Danaylov and I am the one who dares to call himself Socrates.

This is not an alias I have deliberately or consciously chosen myself.

Nor is it one I have always embraced because it rarely serves me well.

For as long as I can remember I have been referred to as a black-sheep; a contrarian; a misfit; an opposition; a nail that sticks out [and ends up getting hammered]; a problem-man; a man who’s always questioning; an unreasonable man; a do-it-my-way kind of a weirdo; a stubborn mule who enjoys the thorns and the whip more than going peacefully along the beaten path; a can’t-go-with-the-main-stream and can’t-fit-well-in-any-group type of a guy.

A natural outsider and/or an outcast.

A gadfly.

Being this way is not something I necessarily chose or always enjoy. But rather who I’ve always been. Even when I’ve tried my best to fit the standard mold and tow the established line I have always ended up failing and on the other side, often worse off than if I’ve simply started there.

It is why I’ve made mistakes. [And hopefully gotten to learn from them.]

It is why I’ve had people notice and remember me both in a good and a bad way since kindergarten; why I barely made it through high-school; why I was sent to a punishment unit when I was in the Army; why my university record had not only exceptionally good but also a couple of exceptionally bad grades as well; why I did not pursue a PhD; why I failed to find a job after my Master’s Degree and why I am largely unemployable today.

It is also why I started Singularity Weblog and why I have not given up on it after giving it everything I’ve got for 5 years and trying to do it my way, yet again.

It is why so far I’ve failed [or refused] to monetise my blog and my podcast in the usual ways – by advertising, a freemium model, a paywall, a teaching fee, a corporate sponsor, a membership site or by simply selling it to the highest bidder.

Why I’ve turned down several blog sponsorships, partnerships, acquisitions and TV-show concepts.

I am in love with learning and yet somehow I seem to have refused to learn the most basic and fundamental lessons that wiser and more successful people have tried to impart on me all my life.

I am not sure if I am more stubborn or more stupid. Either way, it is who I am: an imperfect human being bent on staying true to himself. [And willing to look bad, be broke or become unpopular, if that be the price.]

And so I don’t plan to become someone different: it is not someone else I want to be and, in all likelihood, it is not someone else I really can be.

Rather, I’d like to be just more of who I am – just a little better version of myself. Every day.

And that is why I have embraced the Socrates moniker – it reminds me of who I hopefully am and who I aspire to be. [As well as the level of steadfast commitment I have to possess and the price I have to be prepared to pay for daring to be one.]

Socrates was the one person I know of who fits perfectly pretty much all the adjectives and personal descriptions I have been called all my life.

Socrates was also the one who refused to become a “sophist” – or a prostitutor of wisdom as he called them. Instead he eked a living from the generosity of his followers just as I have largely been fortunate to do so far.

Socrates is who I was born to be and who I am.

Socrates is who I want to and have chosen to be!

And so I will be. Hopefully not only for me but also for you…

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  • A name well deserved!

  • CM Stewart

    Socrates – Nikola – you are one of the very few people in this world I admire, and you wear your moniker well. I am proud to call you my comrade. Weirdos FTW! 😉

  • Tamas Simon

    Wow, make it sound like you’re my long lost firend

  • I am not sure I understand what you mean Tamas. Can you please elaborate and be more specific, either way?!

  • Tamas Simon

    I can relate to the “stubborn mule” part.
    My friends told me I would be fighting off polar bears when I dare to pop my head out of the igloo if I immigrate to Canada… but it worked out well and winter is actually milder on the West Coast than back in Hungary.

    It’s hard sometimes to be a forward thinker. I guess your blog attracts people who get it…
    It’s a tough job when it comes to advocating about taking action now. e.g. Future Crime or – in my case – education vs technical unemployment

  • Socrates! This is why we love you, man. Because than is nobody Youer than You. I’ve been following your blog for some time and feel that you are a true voice of balanced perspective and new information as we prepare collectively to enter this new dawn. Sometimes it’s a rabbit-hole and sometimes it’s a breath of fresh air but as you’ve proven it’s an unstoppable reality at this time for humankind –so why not learn about it and make the best of it..ie; Change. Which is kind of funny when you think about “Socrates”, one who remains true to himself, unchanged by the torrents around him, –yet free and aware amidst the Change.
    So, yes, this is why I am on your side of the road. And, living in an era where people are actually “living” already in cyber-space as 2, or more people, it comes as no surprise the parallel between our analog and digital names as reflected by our organic and changing selves.
    I am Paul Vitale but in 2000 i became “Whitedog”(my middle name in Welsh) to better express my expanding Spirituality on my website called “Pagan Poet”, which now, as it’s changed so much in the years behind me, that there is becoming a slight blur across all of my “Names”.

    What your “Why I Call Myself Socrates” has led me to realize is that the pull of singularity is so strong, so all encompassing, so real, unavoidable and so Now, that even our identities have already changed. For this, and several other reasons, I thank you on behalf of me, myself and i, organically and digitally, as in the this strange day and age this is the Way.

    *When I first found you online I was becoming aware of the significance of the Merge and was by and large against it but now am more or less on the fence looking around marveling at both sides before I inevitably give in, accept, allow, and possibly endorse Change itself.
    I imagine there will soon be therapists helping people to cope with it all for what is now but a mere shadow of the masses will soon become the face of all races.

    But what of the Soul? This is where my interest and concern is well off the fence.
    Thanks again for sharing your All,
    In Heart and Art,
    Pagan Poet

  • Gordon Deans

    Socrates is a person to respect as you are Nikola.

    I spend my days searching CyberSpace for knowledge and wisdom and yet I still learn new things from each of your emails.

    If each of your followers has broadened their awareness and understanding as I have, then the world is becoming a better place thanks to your work.

    Future Crimes will be the second most important book you can read in 2015 following the first, BOLD by Peter Diamandis.

    In the future, we will look back to 2015 as the key-point in the exponential take-off to the Singularity in 2029.

    And most people are still unaware of the massive changes which are happening around them.

    Nikola, your work is more important than ever.

  • Neo Lama

    Nikola aka Socrates

    I started watching your youtube interviews a few weeks back.

    With the very first video when I heard you say Aka Socrates I wondered why is he calling himself Socrates. Does he think he’s a reincarnation of Socrates?
    (Ever since my 1986 trip I felt I was a reincarnation of …)

    Anyway as I continued to watch your Singularity 1-1 videos I continued to wonder and oscillate between thinking it silly and lowering your status or thinking it as cute and harmless or that you really are a reincarnation of the great philosopher- the man with the questions.

    A few weeks and many Singularity 1-1 videos later I signed up to get your blog updates.

    I was going to ask you why you called yourself Aka Socrates but I move very slow as I have slowed my processes down while at the same time wondering if you and I have a Karmic link.

    Then I scanned my emails a few weeks back and saw this blog post explaining why you call yourself Socrates.

    I did not read it at the time and then I couldn’t locate it and wondered if I dreamed it since when I first glimpsed that you were answering MY question I felt yes this is a synchronicity and therefore we DO have a karmic connection.

    If you have written about why you call yourself Socrates before then the synchronicity is less strong but still there since as I said I just within 2 weeks of first starting to watch your videos and signing up you answered my first question I would have asked you if I interviewed you or even if we’d casually met.

    If this is the first time you’ve spoken about why you call yourself Socrates publicly (especially since your Singularity 1-1 videos existing for 4 years or so) then this is a very strong synchronicity and we have a powerful karmic link.

    Thank you kindly for answering my first question and I look forward to contributing comments and such to your webblog.

    Your interviews are most excellent and you certainly are highly intelligent and have enabled me to catch up with what’s been going on in the AI and immortality arena while I’ve been on a different plane of existence.

    After watching your great interviews I am both gathering new knowledge as well as feeling like I’m sinking into an abyss.

    I’ve been obsessed with immortality and AI since I’ve been very young and my views on immortality have drastically changed.

    Thank you Nikola Aka Socrates for your hard work and for answering my very first wonderment about you and your Singularity 1-1 podcast.

    I hope to comment and contribute to the community as long as I remain on the planet.

    Sorry for this long comment. I will be briefer…take care, I remain, a very mortal man

  • Thanks Neo, and yes, despite the fact that I started blogging and podcasting almost 5 years ago, this is the first article I have posted on the topic. It was about time, eh?! 😉

  • Neo Lama

    Wow! That was an incredibly fast reply. Are you a super intelligent robot? Lol I’m alittle sur

  • Pingback: My Journey to Singularity and Beyond: An Evening Symposium with Socrates in Rotterdam()

  • Weltregierung

    At the moment, I believe that the answer is simply that you’ve got Asperger’s, or rather, a part of a larger spectrum of conditions that are commonly subsumed under that headline. “Normal” people have an instinct that makes them synchronize their opinions, which if you think about it makes immediate evolutionary sense: the benefits of being able to signal your allegiance to the ingroup by displaying the same beliefs far outweigh the benefits of having consistent or factually correct beliefs. Thus, the best opinion forming system leaves people with the most useful opinion, and yours is broken.
    Where your peers in kindergarten stopped thinking as soon as they arrived at the normatively correct opinion (the one demonstrated by the authority), your brain required proving that the opinion is true. This made you unable to follow commands: imperatives do not compute if your brain cannot match them onto a right-wrong matrix, and instead tried to map them to true and false.
    Unfortunately, two different facts conspire to make this hard to discover: your condition is relatively rare, and only applies to about 4% of the population, so teachers (which mostly don’t have it) chalk it up to stubbornness (also, most Aspies are less socially interested than you are, so you do not fit the clichee well enough). And as a society, we teach the value of autonomy and critical thinking, so we do not recognize that true autonomy (i.e. a lack of compulsion to follow the opinions of the environment) is actually a neurological defect with genetic causes, and not a choice.

    The reason why you have been unemployable is probably your inability to instinctively submit to social structures. Others shove all these important behavioral cues and critical facial expressions into your face, but unlike normal people, you do not feel any urge to act on them, even if you can read them. After all, it is not logical.

    Your defect (if my suspicion is correct) has made your brain compensate by training logical, independent thought, and will likely have contributed to the insecurity that speaks out of your post and your (please forgive me) slightly pretentious choice of name. Without your defect, your brain would not have had to grow all these problem solving abilities: obviously, that is a small price to pay for what you have got.

    It seems to me that you have managed to use the gifts bestowed upon you by your quirk with considerable success, but once you realize what is actually going on (that you are simply lacking the instinct that cripples the rationality of normal people to make them conform), nothing will stop you.

  • Very interesting input and, most interestingly, this is the 2nd time in a month – and ever, that I’ve been told I probably have some kind of mild Asperger’s syndrome. Wow, how can we prove or disprove this claim?!

  • Weltregierung

    We cannot, because it is just a name. But you can check if it is functionally correct that instead of a right-wrong model of the world (which makes groups converge on shared normative truths that feel objectively right to them), your brain seeks truth independently of shared norms. If I am correct (and I do not know you), you should be pretty much oblivious to the concept of authority, and you should have difficulty to process imperative statements if the reason for them is not immediately obvious to you.
    Don’t get hung up on the “Aspie” label too much, because you probably have no other pronounced defect than the inability to be readily hypnotized by opinions based on perceived social status. It sets you apart from 96% of the population and thus creates a lot of difficulty for you until you understand what is going on, but afterwards, you can easily compensate for it (and forgive yourself whenever you don’t).

  • Logan Linthicum

    Officially, you get someone with the right degree to say so. Unofficially, it’s just a name for a great big spectrum that imperfectly describes one slice of a much larger and even more unknown pie of human cognitive styles.

    Though, I happen to agree that you appear to be on that spectrum, and I believe myself to be as well. Your moniker is actually a relevant indicator, I think. I identified strongly with your description of yourself, and have always felt the same. And yet, I am also aware that in social society, when one adopts the name of another in the way that you have it is seem as that person attempting to put himself on equal footing with the named, which I believe is typically seen as arrogant or laughable. The fact that you never really address this at all leads me to suspect that you might not actually be aware of that connotation, though it could also be that you just don’t care. If so, are you really so sure that you are more of a contrarian weirdo than I am?

  • I am aware of those but I honestly don’t care.

  • Weltregierung

    Exactly. You are aware of these little normative things, but you do not get an impulse for action out of them, as neurotypical people do: http://positiveaboutautism.co.uk/attachments/Understanding_Neuro_Cornish.pdf

  • Very interesting.

  • Logan Linthicum

    Have you looked into Quantum Archeology? The information paradox is not fully resolved, to my knowledge, though it does very much appear that information is never destroyed. In which case, everything that made up your father is still propagating throughout this universe and is potentially amenable to reconstruction via advanced technology. It is not a foregone conclusion that your father is lost to you.

    In any case, many people are not interested in immortality. More are not than are, though I believe this will shift as the technology matures and society starts to separate the reality of of life extension from fantasy.

  • Logan Linthicum

    That strikes me as a bit unfortunate. Nikola, I think you are attempting to do important work, and I more than anyone I’ve ever met value the importance of being true to oneself. But it does seem to me that the perceived arrogance/delusion of your adopted moniker wrong-foots and distracts from every interview you conduct, and seriously eats into your potential exposure(at least partially squandering the opportunity of your access to your guests.) I know that in every discussion of your work that I’ve seen, this issue is always a prominent negative.

    As a self-identified member of the autistic spectrum, my life has been defined by the effort to be true to myself in a way that also takes into account the experiences of other people. An adopted name is interesting being it overlaps the personal self and society. And if that name carries historical weight, that overlap spills much more into the social sphere. This is because when it is used in public discussion, the other party is put in the position of either not using the stated moniker, which most will find intensely uncomfortable as this disregards your preference and could be seen as confrontational. The only other option left to them is to participate in the moniker, even though they might find it arrogant or silly. Acquiescing to this option will likely make the party feel as if they have been slightly socially dominated. Most crucially, the party has not been given a meaningful way to opt out.

    My question is, is it necessary that people be placed in this position for you to be true to yourself? I believe that your connection to the historical Socrates is as deep and personal and true to you as you say it is. In which case, why is it necessary to involve the public? Surely this personal connection that you feel to Socrates does not need public validation, why can it not be a thing that you know about yourself without placing other people in a potentially lose-lose situation?

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