In her new book East Meets West (Amazon), graphic artist Yang Liu illustrates the differences between Western and Eastern cultures. From the way people confront a problem, deal with the boss, approach a queue, self-perceive, or talk in restaurants, it’s quite obvious that behaviors range between the two hemispheres. As they say, a picture is a thousand words.
The internet was made for aggregation. The abundance of information is impossible to swallow. So we pluck the highlights, the most useful stems.
If we gather all the data from our environment, we don’t have to do all the work. We puzzle it out ourselves.
Collecting artifacts online is a social experiment, a peer to peer network of bytes of genius. Unfortunately, knowledge can also be used to propagandize rather than do good. There are no limits to floating ideas that can become instantly contagious, like lighting a match.
But suppose cognitive bias does more to spread the plurality of ideas so we can make disparate connections, such as peanut butter and chocolate. The internet is more than just a copy-paste machine.
“We have such a high-quality camera with us all the time. But it becomes irrelevant if you can’t actually enjoy the photographs you’ve taken. Even 30 years ago there was always a box somewhere containing hundreds and hundreds of photographs. So this isn’t a new problem. What is a new problem is the sheer degree, the colossal volume of memories that we have recorded, and as important as the recording is the way of enjoying what you’ve recorded, and I think that’s something that’s just an ongoing experiment, and it’s an ongoing creative project for us.”
Smartphones make it too easy to capture and even easier to consume photos. Given the profundity of images, we don’t spend enough time reviewing them.
To quote Om Malik: “We have come to a point in society where we are all taking too many photos and spending very little time looking at them.”
The age of abundance combined with undeterred distraction poses an interesting creative problem that’s more complicated than storing boxes of photos in the attic, never to be seen again.
Panasonic is developing blinders for your face so you can preserve a “personal psychological space.” The company debuted the item dubbed Wear Space last year at SXSW in Austin. Writes the product website:
As open offices and digital nomads are on the rise, workers are finding it ever more important to have personal space where they can focus. WEAR SPACE instantly creates this kind of personal space – it’s as simple as putting on an article of clothing. The device can be adjusted based on the level of concentration you desire, so it adapts to the various situations you’ll find yourself in.
The device also comes with Bluetooth headphones just in case you want to shun the world, office, or coffee shop out even more.
While these look like ridiculous racehorse blinkers, they could actually be remarkable. Until then, I’ll stick to my scientifically optimized music to help me focus.
The best marketers bake their advertising into their work.
Whether you’re an athlete, an author, or a baker, the product speaks for itself. Your trade either breeds trust and gets shared by others or falls at the wayside.
Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, and Albert Einstein put their money where their mouth is.
But there are of course ways to exaggerate one’s abilities.
David Beckham was a good football player, not great. Karl Lagerfeld is a good designer, but no one amazing. The difference is how these two talk about themselves and strategically elevate their game by raising their awareness platform.
Performance is only half of the story. The other half of the story is what the consumer tells themselves. Buyers acknowledge the artifice but also stand on pedestals they too think they deserve.
Since the dawn of market society, owners and bosses have revelled in telling workers they were replaceable. Robots lend this centuries-old dynamic a troubling new twist: employers threaten employees with the specter of machine competition, shirking responsibility for their avaricious disposition through opportunistic appeals to tech determinism. A “jobless future” is inevitable, we are told, an irresistible outgrowth of innovation, the livelihood-devouring price of progress. (Sadly, the jobless future for the masses doesn’t resemble the jobless present of the 1 percent who live off dividends, interest, and rent, lifting nary a finger as their bank balances grow.)
I doubt the rise of technology obviates the need for human brains and hands. We are thinking machines while the automatons themselves excel in action, at least for the time being.
The bigger problem seems to be the perception of jobs. Most people allow work to justify their existence when really it’s the things we do outside the office that should make us feel needed. There’s more to life than a paycheck!
The machines are going to be there like they’ve been all along, helping people get their work done more efficiently. The bots versus brain chasm is a non-zero-sum game.
But if it just so happens that all we do is push buttons all day, perhaps it’ll give us a chance to do other things like making better art.
How much of our thought process do we want to relinquish to artificial intelligence?
Even Gmail’s auto-replies takes the burden out of typing in two-word responses with pre-populated text likes “yes, great,” “sounds good,” or “awesome.” Soon enough the computers will be the only ones conversing and high-fiving each other.
Just as the painter imitates the features of nature, algorithms emulate human memes. The problem is the tendency to abuse these recipes to avoid thinking altogether. Bathing in such idleness set the precedent for laggard times.
Without thought and action, our memories will starve. When we type, we produce pixels on a screen. Auto-reply forfeits the experience of being there. But such detachment may not be as harmful as we think.
The symbiosis of man and machine begs for innovation. AI may free up cognition for other more intensive tasks. In other words, having a dependable personal assistant may compel us to do even more great work.
The only fear of AI is complete human dependence. We need elements of crazy to keep creating. We’ll die off as soon as we stop winging it.
“The genie is out of the bottle. I’m never going to be niche again. I’m commercial establishment. I would love to be weird and unattainable again. That’s what I wanted to be—to live in poverty but be like Giacometti.”
Paris-based fashion designer, Rick Owens, when asked about his success.
Be sure to check out the interview plus a profile on Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama in the latest newsletter.