Stand out of our light

stand out of our light.jpg

Huxley predicted that the deliberate flood of information, perhaps a more lethal strategy than Orwellian censorship, would dent our interest in reading books, having active opinions, and therefore make us passive.

The internet, of course, puts information distribution on hyper-speed, skipping from one issue to the next. People consume and quickly forget what’s important, all the while externalizing everything onto the screen. We have lost our ability to pay attention, not just because of tweeting politicians but because of screaming merchants.

There’s yet another book dissecting this very topic of how technology hijacks the brain. Author James Williams of Stand out of our Light: Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy writes: 

“The liberation of human attention may be the defining moral and political struggle of our time. We therefore have an obligation to rewire this system of intelligent, adversarial persuasion before it rewires us.”

The former Google strategist has witnessed the intentional creation of distractive technologies that overpower human will so we no longer “want what we want to want.”

The Financial Times book review writes:

In an attempt to invent new linguistic concepts, the author plays with three types of attentional light: spotlight, starlight and daylight, pertaining to doing, being and knowing.

In this respect, Williams admires the free-speaking Greek philosopher Diogenes. One day, while sunning himself in Corinth, he was visited by Alexander the Great, who promised to grant him any wish. The cranky Diogenes replied: “Stand out of my light!” Williams wants a handful of West Coast tech executives to stop blocking out our human light, too.

Perhaps if we regain our detachment from irreality we’ll be able to look back and pinpoint attention distortion with fresh eyes.

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Human plus machine 🤖

It’s inevitable. In technology, nothing stands still.

We’ll know what we want to accomplish and we’ll do so with incredible pace and confidence.

The only thing that stands in our way is lack of belief in the brain and body’s flexibility.

Virtual or non-virtual reality, there will only be one continuous world. Everything else is information, waiting to be decoded.

The human part will transcend the robot, the robot part will bring new meaning to the brain’s neuroplasticity. We’ll be able to recall Instagrams before the tip of the tongue.

Through neuro-chip exertion, the mind will make ‘always-on’ an exaggeration of the past.

Sleep may be the nature’s last organic recharge.

Further reading:

Making magical machines
This professor describes the future educated person
Competence without imagination 🤖
Learning to think again

Numb to the pleasure of patience

@rafaeldearaujo

You can’t coax a train out of a tunnel. You have to be patient and wait it out behind the yellow line.

Perhaps the only thing we don’t have to wait for is the next alert or push message. Writes author Michael Harris on how mobile connectivity intercepts our sense of time:

Our sense of time has always been warped by our technologies. Church bells segmented the day into intervals. Factory whistles ushered workers. But the current barrage of alerts and pings leaves us more warped than ever. I’ve been trained not just to expect disruption, but to demand it. Back in 1890, William James wrote in The Principles of Psychology that “our sense of time seems subject to the law of contrast.” No kidding.

He goes on to explain how technology resolves our impatience by numbing us “to the pleasure of patience.” We quell our anxiety with the rectangular glow so the late train no longer puts us on edge.

In chasing any goal, it behooves people to keep the patience. Things always take longer than we think but appear shorter in the telescope of perspective.

The train will eventually come and we’ll hop on, prompting the nerves to jumpstart in anticipation of the next destination. As we grow nervous and impatient, the rectangular glow acts like a pacifier to allay our fears.

When we’re moving along plugged-in at warp speed, we are no longer tracking time. Like a carrot, the clock dangles in front of our eyes, waiting for us to notice its blessings.

Life on infinite scroll

Scroll, tap, repeat, refresh. Novelty hypnotizes us. The fantasy that we can talk directly to celebrities and act like one ourselves for fifteen seconds puts us in a dopamine-infused trance.

The internet’s a stage, with individuals accruing endorsements through the bartering of likes. Remember when tech intended to make the world a better place, not an impulsive and egotistical society led into dystopia by a Tweeting lunatic.

The good news is that our eyeballs are still intact. The scenery outside the sorcery of our rectangular devices is not going anywhere. We can always step out and take a fresh breath of air.

The barrage of distractions creates conflict that runs opposite of concentration. The goal now is agreeing to stay focused, like a referee judging a football match. We are present, reminding other people that they too are still there.

The art of doing nothing

Relaxation is an art, antithesis to the obsession of doing. If we could be immediately present, time would slow down. We’d be able to hear the individual ticks in the clock.

The route to super consciousness is paved with unplugging from the maelstrom of 24/7 news and unnecessary push messages. It is all the distraction that makes us less happy. Dopamine is addictive but ephemeral.

When we’re interacting in excess, we’re missing out on recharging and thinking. Always-on is benign until it isn’t.

When illusion meets reality

How real is any of this, our minds continually intertwined with the screen of irreality. We can only be certain of what can see, surely.

But the computer is an extension of our brain. Technology presents an alternative existence that replaces the status-quo with a broad range of possibilities. We are just beginning to see the amalgamation of mind and machine.

Reality has been in the ‘August imagination‘ all along. But like a parachute, cognition is just now cracking open to double its processing power in collaboration with artificial intelligence and algorithms that are constantly improving.

Technology stretches our eyes beyond optical error, begging for a fresh approach. Reality and irreality will work together to fill in the illusion of an empty calendar as we know it. Looking neither right nor left, the human mind works ahead.

What remains will be worthy of attention.

Hooked on artifice and spin

Twitter’s removal of millions of fake accounts reminds us that not everything is what it seems. The internet is full of bots, replicating humans, even programmed to act more human than the humans themselves.

We too are conscious automata, no more authentic than the droids themselves. People are just savvy editors. We present our best selves online to increase our self-worth make other people envious.

Artifice defeats authenticity in all chess matches of the irreality we crave.

Yet, the push to be at our best could be the resolution to our proposed mediocrity. Why shoot ourselves down when a quasi-celebrity lifestyle sits at our fingertips.

Fame happens to the mobile holder. Stuck in a ludic loop, we are the host of our own Truman Show. Attention captured, republished, and released. We’re neither superior to bots nor are we consciously behind.

Thinking aloud in chemical synchronicity

When you can think aloud your own thoughts, you will strip the mind of its own disfluency.

The brain’s pen will be mighter than the sword.

“Protect yourself from your own thoughts.” — Rumi

At which point it’s too late.

We, the data

Dissolved into data, we produce a feast of trackable interactions.

They are the editors as much as much we are the authors. While we create everything, they produce nothing, yet the internet still owns our words.

The attention merchants munch on the aggregate and peel off the niches into targeted prey.

Our eyeballs are the oil, primed, pumped, and then exhausted into tanks of consumption.

Monetization of the ego starts at birth, built for entertainment in the first place. We make, make, make until we are over-marked and sold to the highest bidder.

The telephone man

via

No one picks up the phone anymore

Freedom is slowing down

It’s a canard to think that you must use an electronic device for everything productive. A computer is a doing machine, not a thinking machine.

Your best thoughts happen when you’re disconnected, in the shower or on a walk. They also happen when you slow down, pen in hand letting each idea match the pace of the ink.

“A good idea doesn’t come when you’re doing a million things. The good idea comes in the moment of rest. It comes in the shower. It comes when you’re doodling or playing trains with your son. It’s when your mind is on the other side of things.” — Lin Manuel Miranda

Human beings aren’t meant to operate in high gear for long periods of time.

There’s a reason commas exist. They prompt intentional interruptions to bring you back down to earth in a mental pace that’s more tortoise-y and less hareish.

The obsession with speed is self-defeating. It thinks without thinking, aiming for security that leaves you more emotionally insecure.

Permit your reptilian brain to breathe into your inner experiences. The key to security is the freedom to be insecure, to live and let go, even if that means doing nothing but float at any moment. The best device is the rest.