the black box theory

The world made complex by technology will become simple again.

A core tenant of speculative fiction is technology’s eventual hiddenness behind a layer of reality. Its purpose: to reduce the cognitive load of knowledge workers and engineers, while bringing focus to work and life.

Like Ford crafting the model-T line, we’re beginning to realize civilization’s most valuable commodity. Cal Newport in his book, A World Without Email, writes that, “in Ford’s world, the workers were dispensable (supremely valuing output), while in the knowledge world, our brains are the source of all value.”

The Information Age of torrential inundation has to transform into an Age of Understanding. Understanding simplifies the data flood and leads to wisdom. To get there, we need to clear cluttered desktops.

Think about Clarke’s third law: “any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic.” The way we send emails today follows a process incomprehensible for a person plucked out of the 60’s who ran information through complicated tube systems to receive physical mail.

Black box simplification” is inevitable.

We already see it in small ways. You have no idea how the black box (literal and figurative) you’re reading this on functions, but you’re still competent to access information. And while it still has a complex interface that confounds some who were not born into an iSociety, its base functions become simpler and more efficient each year.

This learning curve leads to another pillar the field of ethical technology hoists- accessibility for those on the periphery. All this complexity and overload only serves a purpose if we perpetuate it on an equitable plane.

The Center for Humane Technology established baseline conditions for humane technology to enter society:

(Humane technology) narrows the gap between the powerful and the marginalized instead of increasing that gap.

We will simplify to this state.

One revealing point economists always reference post-crisis refers to “civilization immunity”. After a societal state of emergency (e.g. wars, famines, pandemics…), a civilization’s immune system is triggered, so that something similar cannot happen again. This can often have unintended and far-reaching consequences for good and bad.

It’s not a leap to say a year and half with the screens of our technology more prominent and under circumspection than ever will lead to societal transformations alongside COVID-19-induced evolution…

radio

The radio makes me frustrated.

On one end, we hear uninspired, inauthentic “popular music” that tries to imprint on our brains with catchiness and hearts with false messages about life and love (this is not a feat, Chainsmokers- merely an algorithm).

On the other end, classic and country radio clings to outdated beats and tones heralding the long gone “good ol’ days”. Stuck in the past, there is no newness to inspire or experimentation to witness (I concede we have to appreciate and study past work grasp out current state- I take issue with stubborn grasping that ignores the didactic value the classics provide).

Very rarely do innovative, deep pieces of beautiful music appear over the “waves” to move our hearts or minds. It has inspired and changed culture.

Maybe this is asking too much of the radio, but for decades radio has been (and in other countries, still is) a joining of culture and common folk around shared values and beauty.

More than all that, radio makes me sad.

I believe radio in America is another sign of our polarized times. Without those shared values, without an artist producing who young and old, man and woman appreciate, we lose another mode of connection as a people in a world of increasingly few bridges…


counterpoint // slaves to the algorithm

for the sake of Creation

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good…

Genesis 1:31

According to Genesis, when God created the world, it took Him six days to make His masterpiece. Five days of stars and fish and plants, leading to a man and woman who were created “very good.”

I’m not trying to say an artist will sell every 6th day; that they will then strike upon an idea that shakes creation to its core. See in this passage the patience of the ultimate creator.

In this patience, an idea took shape and was gradually developed toward the grand finale.

God, in five days, “practiced” all the pieces of creating man He needed in unleashing his passion and love to His goal. The waves gave Him knowledge of man’s heart, all at once tempestuous and calm. The stars imprinted the beauty in man’s optics, shining with tear-fall and joy. The animals provided biological models and linkage to create the apex mamel.

Every piece played a part in forming God’s art towards His destined manifestation of creative expression and affection.

determined

Technological determinism is the philosophy that says a simple innovation sometimes causes massive shifts, unforeseen in culture and the external environment of civilization.

This belief raises a host of questions like, “can an individual truly shape history through one act; do the impacts, for good or bad, moralize a technology; through an act of technological creation shaping our world, is technology the end all be all of existence?”

Not long ago I asked whether technology was the disease or the cure. My philosophy and this deterministic one need a revision.

Technology is a tool. We can use tools well or poorly, but ultimately, we are a more primary actor in our lives than the tools we use. We do well to remember our own agency.

More to come…

cease

It was one of those days where you come home and your body screams “cease and desist”! Quit your chatter, on the floor, stop what you’re doing!

I think this is a sign of yet another modern dilemma brought about by our constant inundation in technology.

The Rock has been working out till 2am and waking up at 6am for his hustle- he’s not listening to his body’s commands and signals, or he’s drowning them out with noise. I don’t intend to judge the man or his work ethic, but when you start saying that,”the hungry human being at times can be unstoppable“, a word which, in Rock’s context, means losing sleep to gain muscle or fame or money.”Once that human being starts to make a little bit of money — don’t be surprised if that hungry human being becomes even more hungry…”

Work in an agrarian society kept people from overlooking the signals that their bodies needed a break: sharp pain on your forearm clearly meant a gash from a plowshare.

Today, one of the aptitudes knowledge workers lose is the ability to perceive correlations between their body’s groaning for rest, and how online and sedentary work styles cause this pain (mentally and physically we see this dissonance).

When we’re immersed, its easy to keep going, refraining from breaks till we come home and give ourselves another dose of the mind-numbing drugs- social or TV. What we’re missing is a Paleolithic connection to our physical beings. Presence in the world means we take responsibility for being aware of everything around us.

So, go for a run or kayak. Learn to juggle or bake. Your body is shouting the prescription- take it.