Several of Carr's themes from "The Shallows" are echoed in this more general treatise on the pros and cons of automation. And to sum up rather pithilySeveral of Carr's themes from "The Shallows" are echoed in this more general treatise on the pros and cons of automation. And to sum up rather pithily, if I do say so myself: if Google is making us stupid, then automation is making us clumsy.
Pilots have gone this road (so to speak) ahead of us, as planes have been mostly self-flying for the last few decades (provoking existential discussions between pilots on whether they are *flying* the plane, or basically passengers like the rest of us)—and although catastrophes due to 'human error' have been mostly eliminated, when actual humans do have to take the controls, they're rusty. In the word Carr uses, they have become "de-skilled"—and we can expect more of the same when autonomous cars take over the roads. It really does make sense; why develop and hone skills like driving...or map-reading...or math calculation...or spelling...that machines can do for us? As the futurists have predicted, this frees us up to perform daring acts of creativity, to explore the universe, to delve deeply into the roots of our shared humanity, to learn multiple languages, to... to... nah, what research has discovered is that automation is freeing us up to watch even *more* cat videos or binge even more on Netflix. We are moving toward the vision of humanity portrayed in "Wall-E": obese and atrophied consumers of 24/7 infotainment.
And one of the most deeply depressing things I learned from this book is that autocorrect is *not* making us all better spellers. Nope, we just let Siri do his/her thing and no longer care about there/ they're/ or their....more
"The Martian Chronicles" by Ray Bradbury is one of my favourite books: a poetic, dreamy, surreal account of our first experiences on Mars. This book i"The Martian Chronicles" by Ray Bradbury is one of my favourite books: a poetic, dreamy, surreal account of our first experiences on Mars. This book is its exact opposite: prosaic, down-to-earth, technical and geeky. At several points I felt like it would be a better read for an engineer than for a dreamer like myself. Sometimes I was completely lost in the science and calculations and found myself (in complete horror) back in Grade 11 physics. But the book does work; Mark Watney indeed has "the right stuff" which includes a geeky sense of humour, a self-protective detachment from his emotions, and a get-er-done mindset. Like the Apollo astronauts before him, he never seems to be shaken or discouraged no matter what, and his courage is simply a matter of not giving up, of getting done what has to get done.
This book will inspire people to believe that we really will manage to survive on Mars. If a Robinson-Caruso-esque character can do it all on his lonesome for over a year, it should be a snap for a well-prepared and well-provided for team of professional astronauts. I'll bet that when we finally do get there, someone will have a dog-eared copy of "The Martian" in their duffle bag alongside Bradbury's masterpiece; and we may actually end up naming a landform "Watney's Triangle" in honour of this dude.
And in the upcoming movie, I think it will be hilarious if the soundtrack reflects that when in search of a theme song, our hero rejects the obvious choice of Elton John's "Rocket Man" in favour of the disco classic "Stayin' Alive"....more
Imagine living your whole life in the depths of a deep, dark cave, miles underground ... in a tiny oasis of light in the darkness, the City of Ember,Imagine living your whole life in the depths of a deep, dark cave, miles underground ... in a tiny oasis of light in the darkness, the City of Ember, which (although you do not realize it) is the last hope for the survival of humankind. As goes the Song of Darkness, sung once a year by the citizens of Ember during The Singing, "Black as sleep and deep as dreaming/ Darkness like an endless night/ Yet within the streets of Ember/ Bright and bravely shines our light". But the Generator, the source of all power and light for the city, is failing ... and as the power outages and periods of darkness last longer and longer, you wonder if one day the lights will not come back on. And you do not know the way out. As far as you as concerned, Ember is the whole world—as it was also for your parents, your grandparents, their grandparents—and there is nothing else. Brilliant in its simplicity, this is the story of two twelve-year old citizens of Ember who stumble upon a secret—the way out of Ember—and who must first make the fearful journey themselves and then convince a skeptical populace that there is a world beyond Ember. As I read this book to my sons, it reminded me of Plato's Allegory of the Cave: that our experience of reality might be far less than reality itself. Painted with swift, broad strokes, the book could easily be read by a serious-minded ten-year old. There is apparently a sequel, The People of Sparks, which I have not read. There is also a movie which, although quite different from the book in several details, is also enjoyable and moving....more
I began reading this book shorty after my own initiation weekend into The Mankind Project, wanting to compare my experience with the author's and to c
I began reading this book shorty after my own initiation weekend into The Mankind Project, wanting to compare my experience with the author's and to consolidate my own transformative experience. I found his style extremely intuitive and New-Agey, for lack of a better term (lots of talk about Spirit Guides and too-amazingly coincidental discoveries and dreams and mysticism), and to be honest, this turned me off; not to say that his autobiographical approach wasn't valid, but I found myself writing "WTF?!" more than once in the margins.
That being said, the last 20 pages of summary were the most valuable part of the book for me. The author recognized that his own healing process was happening in layers, from easier to more difficult, "the difficulty probably related to consciousness, the less conscious it was the more difficult it was" (p. 219)—and a large part of being conscious means being aware what I am feeling in any given moment or situation. I was struck by the author's assessment that addiction is actually the polar opposite of consciousness, and that many men use addictions to counterbalance their own numbness and pain. And I will end by quoting the author's penultimate statement about the kind of personal change that occurs during the course of the MKP Weekends: "To become conscious is to change, and change means dealing with fear. Men with deep wounds create behavior patterns to cope with the wounds. To heal the wounds is to let go of the behavior patterns, and the letting go means change, means stepping into the unknown". (pp. 229-230).
I suppose every single man who experiences these weekends could write his own story, and each story would be different. We each have a "Shadow"—the parts of ourselves and our early experiences that we hide, deny or repress—and the voyage towards wholeness involves facing and confronting that of which we are most afraid. ...more
Well, I finally read it—the book I'd been told since high school I needed to read but had never got around to reading. I'm a psychologist, so I foundWell, I finally read it—the book I'd been told since high school I needed to read but had never got around to reading. I'm a psychologist, so I found the internal contradictions and introspections and stream-of-consciousness non-sequiters and adolescent reinventions of the world of Holden Caulfield interesting—but I didn't 'enjoy' the book, and I actually came to find it rather tedious. I had always read that Salinger more accurately than most authors had captured the internal world of adolescence—and he may well have done so for 1945, but as i was reading I found the vocabulary distracting and quaint in the same way I found watching "West Side Story" and its efforts to capture the vocabulary of adolescence at the time ("daddy-o!"). Holden calls everyone "Old", as in "Old Sally", including his six-year old sister; he has several verbal tics ("if you like to know") that get really annoying, the equivalent of hearing valley girl talk today, ("so like I say, like, gag me with a spoon!"); and he uses the adjective "crumby" all the time (the equivalent today would be, I believe, "fucked-up"). He was a complex character, I suppose, as are we all—a mixture of compassion and self-centredness, of cowardice ('yellowness') and bluster, of desperate loneliness and self-sufficiency. I just felt sorry for him and kept thinking this kid really needs some parenting and guidance.