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Science Tech

Dancing with the algorithms

We dance with the algorithms, yielding time-saving results. How else are we to discover all these gems in a sea of content? How are we to land on the right words in a swamp of choice?

From Spotify to Gmail’s suggestive text, we accept the computer’s recommendations to curate and speak for us. We allow the recipes to crunch down our tastes and our speaking patterns, essentially doing all the homework for us.

Playlists generate themselves; emails answers themselves. 

Yet, just as humans are poor decision-makers, the symphony of algorithms is also flawed. 

“An algorithm is an opinion embedded in math,” writes Cathy O’Neil in her book Weapons of Math Destruction (Amazon).

The computers and their code are often in over their heads, impractical, and sometimes stupid. Just ask Facebook — it takes a human to quell the dangerous idea virus that is fake news. 

The algorithm, written by humans, also requires human moderation. 

The ultimate balance of power is the intermixing of human neurons with the speed of computer nodes. Connecting humans to computers will supercharge decision-making in a fast-paced world. 

Thoughtless algorithms seem to know us better than ourselves, for now.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Tech

Life as protest

The revolution is in consciousness — passing and going into aliveness with a jolt of caffeine.

We can fool the brain into thinking that we’re more jazzed up than we are.

But one’s attitude and perspective don’t change overnight. We grow into ruthlessness through restlessness.

The audacity of hope is an oddball talent.

We once looked to religion to save the world. Now, we look at a few individuals who take big chances.

Entrepreneurs want to be gods.

Elon Musk basks in the simulated world’s glory, where he exploits his mental software to rewire predestined code. Always in overdrive, Musk creates endless opportunities to break the mold.

We can control our destiny if we’re crazy enough to believe it.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Tech

The art of doing nothing

Relaxation is an art, antithesis to our ‘always on’ culture.

But it takes work to do nothing. Those tiny hits of dopamine are addictive.

The route to super-consciousness is paved with roadblocks, the least bit unplugging from the maelstrom of 24/7 news and unnecessary push messages.

We crave novelty

Chasing the rectangular glow for entertainment produces intense cognitive clutter. All the engagement makes us less happy in the end.

Distracted into busyness, we begin to decay into inanition. We miss the events unfolding in our day, permitting evil to spread as a consequence of blindness.

When we’re interacting in excess, we miss out on recharging and thinking. Disconnection is the only way to put the mind back into the mix.

The goal is not just to relax, per se, but to be free from collecting screen souvenirs. What we want to strive for is long-term serotonin.

To do great work a man must be very idle as well as very industrious.

Samuel Butler

We fight for the present to turn idleness into concurrent exploration. Time ticks to the clock as the mind does to the brain. Breathe and stop, we can stave off the ludic loop.

Surrounded by accelerated context, moments of silence seem to be the only way to make anything click.

Categories
Culture Life & Philosophy Social Media Tech

Our fragile, famous lives

The cafe was the original newsfeed, a meeting place to exchange ideas and to find out what the heck was going on in the world.

The cafe was a place, other than a detached home, where Arabica beans filled people’s minds with sparks of aliveness. 

Exposure to high thought influenced great art. 

But then fame happened — the instant gratification of smartphones converted authenticity into the thrill of collecting views and hearts. 

How one in today’s age wants to be naked and famous yet maintain their privacy is lunacy. Fame and confidentiality is a zero-sum game. 

The cuckoo has been tik tokked into the dizziness of freedom. Infotainment sends the chicks back to the nest, amusing themselves to death through the “wisdom” of devices.

In a wreck of people and data, the clouds beckon us to pursue self-constraint. In a world devoid of scarcity, there arises a pandemic of sore thumbs.

Quarantined in such loneliness, the uncertain future compels us to go big on the internet stage. The domesticated strive through wires while Zooming in their underwear.

Categories
Culture Life & Philosophy Tech

Lost in translation

If you know a language, you can say exactly what you mean. Nothing gets lost in translation.

If you use Google or any other artificial-intelligence translation services you lose the subtleties, the cultural verbiage that makes the difference between saying you had a good day versus a great day.

The listener/reader of your words works harder to comprehend what the foreigner is trying to say. All attention goes into the beat of those retranslated lines.

Sure, spitting out something is better than nothing. The immigrant gets kudos for trying out the language in his new home country, except maybe in France.

But the most accurate exchange is the deepest exchange, where what’s being said gets communicated right into your eye sockets or ear lobes.

Of course, if the intention is to keep the conversation murky, just use SMS. Emojis, in particular, always seem to get misunderstood.

Categories
Culture Life & Philosophy Tech

Let go to grow

The internet is a thing of convenience.

Now that we’re all stuck in our cubby holes, we may think it makes sense to over connect with our peers.

But sometimes we have to step away and ‘let go to grow.’

So we pick up new hobby horses. Instead of tweeting, we send a hand written note to an old high school buddy.

When we hurry slowly, the birds outside grow a little louder and appear more beautiful. Nature calms us down and resets our noticing engines.

Let go to grow

Technology compels us to hustle. And while it helps push things along, what we see is that overdrive makes us blind.

Minds are fragile to begin with. And while they be plastic, there’s a limit on the number of neurons we can grow. The web will always be more infinite and exhausting.

Life is connected to many things we can’t see and in ways we are just starting to understand.

We don’t have to strive to be always on. Instead, we bask in the incomplete.

Categories
Productivity & Work Social Media Tech

One too many chips

Continuous partial attention makes it too easy to snack. Instead of waiting for the main meal, we fritter our hunger away on too many chips and salsa. We’re full before the entree.

Replace chips with social media, and you start to see the excess wear and tear we put on our bodies and minds. We can’t possibly consume all this information and still devour the main meal. It’s like eating all the popcorn before the movie starts.

Unless we plan on taking the food home with us or putting on some extra weight, we better slow down and refocus our attention on why we decided to eat out in the first place.

If you’re going to snack, do it in moderation, so you’ll still have plenty of room left over to absorb the good stuff.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Psychology Tech

Are we still alive?

Somewhere upon the way of evolution, humans lucked out. We developed language. And we grew hands and fingers that allowed us to manipulate our environment.

But a bigger brain didn’t make us smarter or more conscious than our other animal friends.

Neanderthals had larger brains than humans, as too do dolphins and whales to this day. Despite their cranial superiority, the former died off, homo sapiens thrived, while the fish are confined to the water.

Meanwhile, humans built intricate tools. Says American neuroscientist Christof Koch, “human civilization is all about tools, whether it’s a little stone, an arrow, a bomb, or a computer.”

Given the advancements in technology and artificial intelligence, we may be too smart for our own good. By exploiting tools to think and to operate for us, we’re outsourcing our neurons and developing a kind of robotic consciousness.

Humans have turned into broken machines.

Our jobs make us feel important and shape our identity. What are people going to do when we no longer have to work and have bundles of free time instead?

Some of us may procrastinate and lounge while others will want to play like children with crayons again. We just might art ourselves back into life.

Categories
Tech

Everything is sampled, including our DNA

It’s in our DNA to sample, to take existing slices from each other to build something new.

The internet is the largest cut and paste machine. A producer of novelty, it begs for recombinations, a collection of stuff we can remix and make our own.

Like a Tumblr page, we decorate our personalities with originality. But everything from our interests to our blood develops from outside sources like an amalgamation of sounds.

All one has to do is scour Twitter for the latest in curated novelty. When favorite something we like or find interesting, we should feel free to mash it up in new serum, in a new format, shuffling ideas into fresh architectures.

Categories
Creativity Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Social Media

The student never graduates

Learning stops in adulthood because people think all they’ll be doing the rest of their lives is working. But the cubicle, formerly called the ‘action of office,’ is where ideas and learning go to die.

You can put your head down and work for the same company for 20 years if you want. You’ll gain title and support the family. Everything will be safe and stable.

But you’ll never use up all your vacation days. You’ll get stuck in the maelstrom of email and meetings and come out feeling no smarter than where you started. Even worse, no company offers pensions these days.

Learning is a life-long endeavor

You can attach all the meaning you want to your job, but it’ll never replace the significance of continued learning that the Internet makes so accessible.

Tools for continued learning in adulthood include podcasts, tweets, blogs, newsletters, and a place to synthesize it all — whether that be your notebook or a blog.

The best part about the web is that most of the information is free, like air, minus a few paywalls. And yes, being a paid subscriber to a few respectable publications will make you appreciate shared intelligence even more.

Reading the right stuff can give you the knowledge and motivation to do your job better.

Sustenance, or in some cases chasing the Benjamins, is no substitute for education. Throwing in the towel helps nothing but time fly, a distraction from the things that matter.

Business isn’t necessarily learning. It’s just business.