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
Psychology Social Media Tech

Ludic loop

In his blog post on breaking phone addiction, Erik Barker uses a quote from NYU marketing and psychology professor Adam Antler to explain why we keep checking our phones again and again. The process is called a “ludic loop.”

The “ludic loop” is this idea that when you’re engaged in an addictive experience, like playing slot machines, you get into this lulled state of tranquility where you just keep doing the thing over and over again. It just becomes the comfortable state for you. You don’t stop until you’re shaken out of that state by something.

So how we do we keep ourselves from going down the Facebook and Instagram rabbit hole? We employ a “stopping rule.”

It’s a rule that says at this point it’s time for me to stop. It breaks the reverie and makes you think of something else; it gets you outside of the space you’ve been in. The best thing to do is to use a declarative statement like, “I don’t watch more than two episodes of a show in a row, that’s just not who I am.”

As Barker points, you can also remove the dopamine hitting apps from your phone and replace them with something useful like the Kindle app to encourage more reading. And in the worst-case scenario, you can throw your phone into the ocean, or just leave it in an inconvenient place to prevent the urge to take another futile gamble.

Categories
Social Media Tech Video

Watch a Chimpanzee using Instagram

Watch a Chimpanzee using Instagram

This video of a chimpanzee scrolling through Instagram is eye-opening.

Touch is intuitive, the candy-colored screen all too addicting. Generation thumbs transcend humans.

But can the chimpanzee access the Stories feature? This video reminds me of this snippet from the Yuval Noah Harari book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind:

We control the world basically because we are the only animals that can cooperate flexibly in very large numbers. And if you examine any large-scale human cooperation, you will always find that it is based on some fiction like the nation, like money, like human rights. These are all things that do not exist objectively, but they exist only in the stories that we tell and that we spread around. This is something very unique to us, perhaps the most unique feature of our species.

You can never, for example, convince a chimpanzee to do something for you by promising that, “Look, after you die, you will go to chimpanzee heaven and there you will receive lots and lots of bananas for your good deeds here on earth, so now do what I tell you to do.”

But humans do believe such stories and this is the basic reason why we control the world whereas chimpanzees are locked up in zoos and research laboratories.

Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Categories
Life & Philosophy Poetry Tech

Flashes of intuition

A photo of person flashing a light in the dark

When we drop a coin in the dark, our first instinct is to look for the nearest lite brite (be it a streetlight or our phone) to find it. But the initial frustration of blindness provides enough luminosity.

We are victims of ignoring the obvious — the coin is often just below our feet. It is not lost. Sometimes, we’re even standing right on top of it.

Some things are not meant to be clear; obscurity is their clarity. We should not underestimate obscurity. Obscurity is as rich as luminosity.

Etel Adnan

It’s amazing the things we discover when just use our intuition pumps. Our predictive senses are immune to the best technologies.

On the grid, off the grid, curious what hides in the night. Yet we can imagine radiance all along. All we had to do was use our senses to look around first.

Categories
Creativity Life & Philosophy Tech

Thinking in the cracks

We think in the cracks all the time. We fill in the blank spaces throughout our day with either fodder or deliberation.

The observer internalizes the outside world to create meaning. Not every thought, of course, is worth marveling. Sometimes thoughts are just thoughts — they are arbitrary with no bearing on reality. Just as often though, those thoughts bleed into our creativity.

Boredom is an idea generator. If we were smart, we’d find more free time to liberate our brain cells from all the hyperconnectivity. Idleness removes our obligation to follow the whims of the algorithm. Doing nothing is a fertile activity.

Whether we’re on the move or still in the chair, the moments in between make or break our attention, which dictates how we go about our lives.

Categories
Life & Philosophy

Humans are noticing machines

Humans are noticing machines

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to become a noticing machine. But it does take practice, exercising the eyes, ears, to stretch the thinking tool that is the human brain.

Noticing is an awareness, an alertness that calls to mind what the mind shouldn’t scan over. But the observant person shall not force it.

Perception is two-way street. It is neither aloof nor entirely effortful but open to the seeing the subtleties in the streams of everydayness. Sensing is natural, interpretation is artificial.

More than any other animal, we process data before letting the amygdala have its way. Patience is skilled emotional control.

The rest of our lives we seek a dependable calm that allows us to embrace the world.

Categories
Culture Photography Social Media Tech

Coping with ‘the colossal volume of memories’

iwatch hearts

In an interview with the Financial Times, Apple lead designer office Jony Ive points to one of the technological conundrums of our time: balancing ease with excess.

“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.

gif via Mashable

Categories
Arts Culture Tech

Kevin Kelly: ‘I define art as cool and useless’

KevinKelly2.jpg

Kevin Kelly was the former editor of the Whole Earth Catalog, the counterculture magazine Steve Jobs adored. He also founded Wired Magazine and continues to write books and give speeches worldwide about the future of technology.

Below are some of the most interesting highlights of a recent interview with an online publication The Caret.

Just as Brian Eno believes that “art is everything you don’t have to do,” so too does Kelly think art at its rudimentary level is useless.

I think there’s never been a better time to be a creator. It’s a wholly new era for the ease and power of creation. And I think of art as a subset of creation. I define art as cool and useless.

In the glut of today’s DIY artists with internet reach, it’s even harder to stand out. But there’s no reason to hide: some artists gain a posthumous reputation — Van Gogh for instance — and according to Kelly, all an artist needs is 1,000 true fans.

But this goes back to my true fans theory: you only need 1000 true fans to support your work. With the large market that we have, almost any weird thing that you do, if you really strive for excellence it’s entirely possible to find 1000 fans in the world of that. I see it again and again, where something is very esoteric and very niche — if you have a market of a couple billion people you’ll probably be able to find 1000 true fans.

While Kelly continues to predict the technology of tomorrow, he’s equally sanguine on today’s developments. He scoffs at the notion of a digital detox, as the internet is just too good.

Whether it’s work or a habit or technology, when you disengage, you recharge your batteries and come with renewed enthusiasm and new ideas. But I don’t like the term “detox” because I don’t think technology is toxic. I just think that you gain something when you don’t have it — a new perspective and new ways of looking at things and those are SO valuable. The challenge of the world today is that when everyone is connected 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year, it becomes harder and harder to think differently. And thinking differently is the engine of creation, it’s the engine of wealth. So anything we can do to help us think differently is a huge advantage. And I think one of the most powerful things you can do is turn something off that’s usually on, no matter what it is.

Also be sure to check out Kelly’s interview with Tim Ferriss.

Categories
Tech Travel

Underground bicycle parking systems in Japan

The robotic system, called the Eco Cycle, stores bikes 36 feet underground. It can store 204 bikes at a time.

To use it, you need to attach a chip to the front wheel of your bike that links to your Eco Cycle parking account. When you pull up to the Eco Cycle, it will recognize you’re a paying customer. Simply press the button and your will be taken underground.

Bikes are so ubiquitous in Japan that construction company Giken had to build an underground system to store them.

Read more

 

Categories
Life & Philosophy Politics & Society Tech

The oppression of speed

giphy-1
gif via @Waywardteacup

According to German critical theorist Hartmut Rosa, accelerated technological developments have driven the acceleration in the pace of change in social institutions.

Noticeable acceleration began more than two centuries ago, during the Industrial Revolution. But this acceleration has itself accelerated. Guided by neither logical objectives nor agreed-upon rationale, propelled by its own momentum, and encountering little resistance, acceleration seems to have begotten more acceleration, for the sake of acceleration.

To Rosa, this acceleration eerily mimics the criteria of a totalitarian power: 1) it exerts pressure on the wills and actions of subjects; 2) it is inescapable; 3) it is all-pervasive; and 4) it is hard or almost impossible to criticize and fight.

Read To be more creative, embrace the art of doing nothing