Melding minds with machines

“You could just think your query and download the relevant knowledge directly in your mind.”

Forget Ritalin. Forget Google and Evernote acting as our second brains holding all the information we can’t. And instead, prepare for brain implants where mind melds with machines. We don’t even have to type, click, or touch anything. We just think and imagine commands.

As part of a clinical trial called “Brain Gate,” 13 applicants at Brown University have had a sensor placed into their motor cortex and so far have been able to control cursor movement on a screen. Says doctor John Simerall at Brown University building the neurotechnology device:

“Simply by imagining intuitive movements participants can immediately control a robotic device.”

Here come the cyborgs.

How to persist after hitting rock-bottom

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We can toil in obscurity for years before we get a lucky break. We can also give up and accept that it isn’t meant to be.

But something happens when we feel like a complete failure. We start to simplify everything — what we own, where what we do — and get back to basics.

Defeat offers its own beneficial limitations. It pushes us to play with what he have and stick to the belief in our art.

When JK Rowling hit her lowest point — divorced as a single mother on child welfare with no published books — the only thing she knew was to keep writing. As she said in her Harvard commencement speech:

“I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless.

Even when the publishers rejected her, she kept on and wrote even more. She leaned in on the process of showing up every day at the cafe and getting to work.

Failure can either be deemed temporary or definitive, depending on how we frame it. But with the right mentality, we can leverage the foundation of rock-bottom to help us limit our choices and persist.

‘The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle’

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The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle. Like, I will probably never get struck by lightning, or win a Nobel Prize, or become the dictator of a small nation in the Pacific Islands, or contract terminal ear cancer, or spontaneously combust. But if you consider all the unlikely things together, at least one of them will probably happen to each of us.

John Green, Paper Towns

The new journalism, where fame is the game

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We worship celebrities like they’re the new Gods but they’re as fallible as we are.

We obsess with the famous for being famous. First, we had reality tv and then social media gave us the Kardashians and Trump.

Is this how the media wants to harvest our attention and chip away at human decency?

Reporters will continue to dupe a distracted public with attention-seeking missiles. The buzzfeedication of the web has taken over.


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Art by Etalpmet

We are stuck in click-bait culture

If a good journalist is supposed to write what they see and leave it to the world to interpret, then they better start choosing better subjects. At least more interesting ones.

Let’s start with this rule: No more graduation speeches to those who were famous for 15 minutes.

 

Newsletter: Nappuccinos, audio illusions, and Tesla’s American experience

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The audio illusion

Each week I like to highlight some the articles written on this blog in a condensed format. It reminds me to take a step back and review why I thought it was worth posting in the first place. If you enjoy these reads, you can sign up here to get the weekly newsletter delivered directly to your inbox. 

Interesting Digs

How taking an afternoon ‘nappuccino’ increases productivity. If you start to zone out around 2 and 3 pm (thank you circadian rhythm), you may benefit from a pre-nap coffee. Remember: “The caffeine won’t fully engage in your bloodstream for about 25 minutes, so drink up right before you lie down.”

Tesla: American Experience. Motivated by wonder and awe, he exploited his imagination to foresee the wireless networking and cell phones we have today. Tesla was an artist working with dreams and visions but “his medium was electricity.” Excellent documentary on the magician on PBS.

This is what happens when you reply to spam email. In a hilarious TED Talk, comedian James Veitch details his emails with one spammer who contacted him about a business deal. Into the second week, James got the spammer to start replying in ridiculous code revolving around candy.


Digging = Donating

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Thought of the week

‘I’d rather be a lightning rod than a seismograph.’

— Tom WolfeThe Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

Video of the week

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Watch

Ainslee Henderson takes interesting “stuff” (wood, stick, wire, leaves, broken electronics, etc.) and turns it into stop-motion puppetry.

Visualizing social media reality through 3D art

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Ubiquitous and abundant, social media companies manipulate human pysche. They are addictive by design. Yet users continue to consent to sell their attention (re: data) to merchants.
 
Each platform — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat — has their own cunning way of keeping us hooked.
 
New York based artist Ben Fearnley designed some visualizations to illustrate our sticky social media relationships
“Each one of these platforms encourages a different kind of communication and the amount of time we spend on social media has skyrocketed. I challenged myself to create a visualisation of how I could represent each social platform’s user interaction in the most simplistic way that people could relate to and find conceptually amusing at the same time.”

Feel free to laugh and cry while I check my Tweets.

(h/t Creative Boom)

How social media fuels fantasies of the ideal self

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Social media is the story we want to tell about ourselves. It is the edited self.

The problem occurs when that ideal self fails to match up with the real one. Can we live up to the image and credentials minted in our LinkedIn profile?

Fake it until you make it?

We paint our social media feeds with fantasies and hang them like pictures on a wall. For some people, it’s like directing and starring in their own movie. For others, sharing can make them feel like they have to be more accountable in real life. It’s a chance to match in action what our thumbs project in our profiles.

The internet is a chance to choose ourselves. We don’t need permission to post. As dehumanizing as it sounds, everyone can be their own brand without losing a sense of self.

The butterfly has to come out of the cocoon and face the music eventually.

Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter — they all work like any other placebo. They inspire us to be our best self. The only hope is that we can match the narrative on the other side of the screen.

Meet the flying train, a hybrid train and plane

image of hybrid train planeWhile Elon Musk is helping to combine hyperloops and space travel, the Russian architecture firm Dahir Insaat wants to build a hybrid train and plane that transports 2,000 people at a time.

The flying trains reach speeds up to 300mph, not much faster than the speediest train in the world, the 267 mph Shanghai Maglev. Even if it looks like a giant lego piece, most people would still rather ride in it than sit in traffic.

Furthermore, I wonder how we’ll look at any concept of transportation once SpaceX’s vision to fly people across the globe in 30 minutes becomes a reality.

Turning inanimate objects (‘stuff’) into puppets

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Ainslee Henderson takes interesting “stuff” (wood, stick, wire, leaves, broken electronics, etc.) and turns it into stop-motion puppetry. Says Henderson on the creative process:

“It’s like making music, you just see where it leads you. I stick and scult and keep scraping, putting things together and shaping things and then suddently what was just stuff becomes this character staring back at you.”

By the end of the video, he’s got all the puppets playing music together.

“They’re like little actors that only ever get to play one role. Everything they do is their swan song. They have a tiny little life and then they go back to being an inanimate object again.”

How taking an afternoon ‘nappuccino’ increases productivity ☕💤

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Like most people, my brain starts to fizzle out between 2 and 3pm. According to science, this isn’t due to a lunch hangover but rather a part of our circadian rhythm.

To preempt the inevitable afternoon slothfulness, author Dan Pink proposes to take a nappuccino. He recommends that before you take your 20-minute nap (science shows that more than 20 minutes can make you feel drowsier), you should drink a cup of coffee.

Writes Pink in his new book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing:

The caffeine won’t fully engage in your bloodstream for about 25 minutes, so drink up right before you lie down.

The pre-nap caffeination will give you an extra boost when you wake up. Your brain will be sharper and more focused. You’ll also receive all the benefits of a nap: lower blood pressure and a stronger heart.

You can read more about the nappuccino productivity hack here.