In our era the machines are advancing. But we humans still need work.
Look around. You are driving to a parking lot, walking into tilt-up concrete buildings to buy stuff imported from China, making small talk with the cashier while checking your phone.
You are on-line at work, at home, at the gym, on the move. Like Xerox once, Google is now a verb. So is Facebook. When Jeff Bezos says “drones,” you had better duck. Netflix after supper.
This digital world is convenient and entertaining, and it often seems free or at least cheap–though it’s not. The data miners are cashing in. Machines and software are getting smarter. Algorithms are evolving, almost like life forms. Continue reading “2016: Year of the Human”
Innovators make a lot of experiments. Some work out. By the time we know, they have moved on. David Bowie comes to mind – and my friend Joe Donovan.
David Bowie died. I was up late watching a BBC documentary about him in the 1970s. He was a character trying out many musical roles. “I’m not very creative,” the musician said at one point. “I just like to keep up on the latest trends.”
Only a truly creative person would say that. Regular people try to be creative. There are books and seminars. Creative people may try not to stand out. It can be a struggle. People who go out of their way to appear creative usually aren’t the real thing. Real creative types are too busy exploring, falling down and getting up again.
In Wired to Create: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind, authors Kaufman and Gregoire argue that the essence of creativity is the same in any field. Creative people tend to have diverse interests and try a lot of things. This helps them to see connections most of us miss. It’s not easy. Continue reading “David Bowie’s reinventions”
Technology is a nice place to visit, but do you want to live there?
The airplane stops. Everyone turns on their smartphone. There is a lot of Facebook. A man passes my wife’s bag from the overhead storage. “Thanks,” I say. “How is your day going?” Suddenly he looks suspicious. “Why do you ask?” he says, his eyes narrowing.
We have a brief chat. I can tell he isn’t used to speaking to people on airplanes. Entering the terminal, most people are staring at their phones. Inside, almost everyone is. Few people are talking to each other. Social now means media, not chatting to the person beside you.
This is the new normal. Everywhere a laptop, a tablet, a smart phone. All the pretty pictures, clever videos, smart websites. Check social media and see your friends smiling on a mountaintop. Their life is wonderful, and yours should be too. Continue reading “The price of perfect: The mythology of the digital age”
This inventor is fascinated by long time scales, tiny pieces of matter, long strings of information and the brain’s ability to make jokes and love.
We are addicted to the short term, the dopamine jolt delivered by our various screens. Turn on the news and you get a blast of randomness of the negative variety. Switch to entertainment, what the stars are wearing. A TED Talk subs for reading a book.
So Ray Kurzweil’s thoughtful optimism and long view of the world are refreshing. Pragmatic and creative, the animated inventor and archetypal boy genius is no longer a boy, but he wants to live forever. Continue reading “Ray Kurtzweil invents the future”