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Posts Tagged ‘Wired Magazine’

The central contention of physics has it that the building blocks of the universe will endure even if, or even when, the humans who tally them, and the planet we live on, all die.  To see into the deathless universe is to try to see nothing so flamboyant as [William] Wordsworth’s favorite daffodils and walnut groves, but to peer into the coldest spaces, the black holes and the fractional electric charge of theoretical subatomic particles.  These entities have no blood flow, of course, but also no DNA;  they’re not susceptible to pandemics, however virulent, or the dividends and ravages of carbon.  They don’t live, so they don’t die.  To model the universe as precisely as possible is to try to see the one thing that even the strictest atheist agrees is everlasting — to try to achieve, in a lab, an intimation of immortality.
Back to the living world that’s under our feet.  [Carlo] Rovelli is right to caution against the potential delusions of those who are greedy for eurekas.  But, as a fellow physicist with a radical streak, he is also sympathetic to their ambitions, a drive to “learn something unexpected about the fundamental laws of nature.”  To Rovelli, whose latest book describes quantum mechanics as an almost psychedelic experience, a truly radical discovery entails the observation of phenomena that fall outside three existing frameworks in physics:  quantum theory, the Standard Model of particle physics, and general relativity.  Only by blowing up one of those frameworks can one achieve the kind of immortality that scientists get, the glory of someone like Einstein or Heisenberg.
But to keep looking, as Rovelli has, as Fermilab has with this study on the muon’s magnetism, is also to apprehend hints.  To follow hints.  In that way, the physicist’s work and the poet’s are the same.  And if Wordsworth is right, immortality can be found, of all places, in the hint — the staggering proposition by nature itself that, in spite of all the dying around us, something of all we love might be imperishable, might still flicker or shine or wobble when the rest of our world is gone.
    —     Virginia Heffernan
From her article:  “Muonstruck
Appearing in:  Wired Magazine;  dtd:  June 2021
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On This Day In:
2021 Keep Growing
I Keep Looking
2020 I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Plans
One Earth
2019 Beautiful Rules
2018 Skepticism
2017 WWGD?
2016 Growing Greatness
2015 When It Is Darkest
2014 Knowledge And Doubt
2013 Three Thoughts
2012 Gentle Reader
2011 Leave The Light On For Me Anyway

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One does whatever one can for oneness that is greater than self.
    —     R. A. Lafferty
Quoted by:  Jason Kehe
From his article:  “A Gigantical Tale Of Laffervescent Genius
Appearing in:  Wired Magazine;  dtd:  June 2021
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On This Day In:
2021
Take To The Sky
2020 Heroes Die Too
Front Update
Still More Hope Than Fact
2019 The Ones Worth Remembering, Anyway
Boot Edge Edge (My New T)
2018 To Reach The Next Threshold
2017 Streaking Tales
2016 Singular Reality
2015 He Says It’s Hard To Get There From Here
2014 Question From A Founding Father
2013 Make Heroes
2012 See And Hold
2011 Am Not, Are So

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What I’m suggesting is that there’s a self-fulfilling element to conversations about automation.  It’s not so much that machines are relieving us of activities that are intrinsically rote and mechanical;  it’s more that a skill comes to seem rote and mechanical when a machine learns to do it.  An ability only begins to appear “worthless,” as you put it, when it can be executed by highly profitable technologies.  At the moment, our talents and aptitudes are being made obsolete at such a rate that many people, like you, are uneasy about where this trajectory might end.
We consumers are not asked to vote or weigh in on the new devices, features, and apps that will inevitably shape our lives.  It’s completely reasonable to worry that you might look up at some point and find yourself at a historical destination that you never consciously chose.
All of which is to say, you’re right to pause and question this technology.  Given how quick we are to adapt to and assimilate novel forms of automation, it’s doubly important to consider whether a given skill is something you’re willing to relinquish.  In that spirit, I’m going to avoid prescribing anything concrete (what is advice but one more automated solution?) and instead encourage you to continue thinking about what you are prepared to give up.  Are there certain boundaries that you’re not willing to cross?  Or is your humanity just a moving target, its definition staked on whatever remains after the rest has been offloaded onto devices?  The willingness to think through these questions, consider their consequences, and commit to a course of — literal — action is itself virtuous and worthwhile.  It’s one thing, at least for the time being, that we alone can do.
    —   Meghan O’Gieblyn
From her “advice” column:  “Dear Cloud Support: My Car Is Making Me Feel Useless!
Appearing in:  Wired Magazine;  dtd:  May 2021
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On This Day In:
2021 Seeking Happiness
Check Your Watch
2020 Expectation For The Near Future
2019 Indian Myth
Did He Even Have The Courage To Ask?
2018 Nothing
2017 Approval First
2016 In Search Of Words
Day 2 – Blending
2015 At What Price?
2014 Intricate And Subtle Order
2013 Attention To Detail
2012 Aequanimitas!
2011 Consider This

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If we’re going to live together, the [tech] giants and me, I’d like to ask them something.  Humbly. If you’re a product manager working on a feed or search interface inside of a giant tech company, you have access to hundreds of billions of hours of human attention.  Could you help your users spend one hour a year learning about what’s coming for the world, climate-wise, with a small dose of civics to go with it?
Because, if you did, that would be 2 or 3 billion hours of shared experience.  Two to 3 billion hours of people learning how important it is that we come together calmly.  And that is a beautiful canvas of time upon which to paint a future.  It would be one hell of a product.  We’re counting on you.
We have no choice.  You won.
Billions of us need help making millions, billions of decisions.  Decisions about whether to upgrade HVAC systems, or how to fuel our shipping, or what to plant in the backyard.  Sometimes it feels like the paradigm has inverted.  Technology was the mold growing across human systems.  Software was eating the world.  Now it feels like humans are the mold growing on technology.
I said that there’s no next big thing.  But deep in my soft, uncynical heart, where I keep my most embarrassing predictions, I do know what it is.  The next big thing is us.  Just plain old people.  Humans using language.  Humans accepting limits.  I can’t help you turn it into Q4 results.  I don’t know how to invest in it, nor who should run the conference series.  Nor could I tell you who should host the podcast.
I just know that it’s got to be our turn.  I love technology, but this is faith.
    —     Paul Ford
From his article:  “The Great Unbundling
Appearing in:  Wired Magzine;  dtd:  May 2021
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On This Day In:
2021 If You’re A Lucky 11 Year Old
Just Got To Be
Masked Countdown And Gratitude
2020 Democratic Aspiration
2019 Soul Before Will
2018 Small Things
2017 Clear And Warm To Me
2016 Ripple
2015 Amazing Or Full Of Wonder?
2014 Are You Confused?
2013 But The Odds Are Against It
2012 Far Better Off With Books
2011 Timid And Fainthearted

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The key to discoveries is to look at those places where there is still a paradox.  It’s like the tip of an iceberg.  If there is a point of dissatisfaction, take a closer look at it.  You are likely to find a treasure trove underneath.
    —    Erdal Arikan
Quoted by:  Steven Levy
From the article:  “The Man Who Conquered Noise
Appearing in:  Wired Magazine
Dtd:  Dec. 2020
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On This Day In:
2021 True Originality
There Must Be Peace And Understanding
2020 #45: Lies And Hate-Speech Are Not Moral Leadership
2019 Be Brave
2018 What Else Matters?
2017 Slow Go
2016 A Tiny Ripple Of Hope
2015 Liberating Books
2014 Discover God
2013 Without Witness
2012 Nutritarian

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When asked how we will know when the internet is becoming conscious, [Christof] Koch [Ph.D] replied that the surest sign will be when “it displays independent behavior.”  It’s hard to imagine what exactly this might look like.  But considering that this process will also involve the waning of human consciousness, you might look inward, at the state of your own psyche.
The early stages of this process will likely be subtle.  You might feel a bit scattered, your attention pulled in multiple directions, such that you begin to suspect that the philosophers are right, that the unified self is an illusion.  You may occasionally succumb to the delusion that everyone you know sounds the same, as though their individual minds, filtered through the familiar syntax of tweets and memes, have fused into a single voice.  You might find yourself engaging in behaviors that are not in your self-interest, mechanically following the dictate to share and spread personal information, even though you know the real beneficiary is not you or your friends, but the system itself.
The great merging, when it comes, might feel — and I confess I find this most probable — like nothing at all.  There will be no explosion, no heavenly trumpet, just that strange peace that is known to overcome tourists standing in Times Square, or walking the Las Vegas strip, a surrender to overstimulation that is not unlike the numbness that sets in after hours of scrolling and clicking.  In such moments, the noise is so total it becomes indistinguishable from silence, and even there, amidst the crowd, it is possible to experience a holy solitude, as though you are standing all alone, in the center of a great cathedral.
From an article written by:  Meghan O’Gieblyn
The article:  “Is the Internet Conscious? If It were, How Would We Know?
Appearing in:  Wired Magazine
Dtd:  Dec 2020
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On This Day In:
2021 Have Republicans Figured Out Biden Won Yet?
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2020 Careful About Myth Telling
2019 My Irish Diet
Fighting With Oneself
2018 Feeling Both
2017 Just Start
2016 Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall
2015 Restraint At The Inn
2014 To Not Discovering
2013 I Have Less To Say
2012 Not The Best Prediction I’ve Ever Read

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When asked how we will know when the internet is becoming conscious, (Christof) Koch replied that the surest sign will be when “it displays independent behavior.”  It’s hard to imagine what exactly this might look like.  But considering that this process will also involve the waning of human consciousness, you might look inward, at the state of your own psyche.
The early stages of this process will likely be subtle.  You might feel a bit scattered, your attention pulled in multiple directions, such that you begin to suspect that the philosophers are right, that the unified self is an illusion.  You may occasionally succumb to the delusion that everyone you know sounds the same, as though their individual minds, filtered through the familiar syntax of tweets and memes, have fused into a single voice.  You might find yourself engaging in behaviors that are not in your self-interest, mechanically following the dictate to share and spread personal information, even though you know the real beneficiary is not you or your friends, but the system itself.
The great merging, when it comes, might feel — and I confess I find this most probable — like nothing at all.  There will be no explosion, no heavenly trumpet, just that strange peace that is known to overcome tourists standing in Times Square, or walking the Las Vegas strip, a surrender to over-stimulation that is not unlike the numbness that sets in after hours of scrolling and clicking.  In such moments, the noise is so total it becomes indistinguishable from silence, and even there, amidst the crowd, it is possible to experience a holy solitude, as though you are standing all alone, in the center of a great cathedral.
    —     Meghan O’Gieblyn
From the article:  “Is The Internet Conscious?
Appearing in:  Wired Magazine;  dtd:  Dec 2020
The article also appears online at:  https://www.wired.com/story/is-the-internet-conscious-if-it-were-how-would-we-know/
(I don’t guarantee the printed article matches the online version    —    KMAB)
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On This Day In:
2020 A Word Of Assurance They Are Not Alone
Is #45 Still Crying?
2019 It’s Obvious
2018 Passed Too Swiftly
2017 On Our Wall (Part 1)
2016 Or The Ripples From A Good Life
2015 Titles And Reputations
2014 Unfolding
2013 Again
2012 Needs
Damned
2011 Potter & Prejudice
Blink, Blink

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“I sort of have this joke theory,” Brooks says, “that consciousness is put there by God, so that he has this very quick interface to find out what we’re thinking about.”
    —     Rodney Brooks
Quoted by:  Virginia Heffernan
In her article:  “Clean Conscience
Appearing in:  Wired Magazine;  dtd:  Nov 2020
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On This Day In:
2020 Everyone I’ve Ever Met
A Secret Chord
2019 A Big “IF”
2018 Silence Presence
2017 Feeling Small Standing In Front Of My Shelves
2016 Show Willing
2015 If He Only Knew…
2014 Dared To Love
2013 Strong Kung-Fu
2012 Two Tribes
2011 Made Any Assumptions Lately?

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Democracy is not partisan.  That’s where I begin this conversation.  Who I choose once I’m inside the voting booth is my business.  Ensuring my ability to get inside is the responsibility of government.  I’m a progressive Democrat in part because I want the system to be fair.  We should not be guaranteed victory, but we should be guaranteed access.  Anyone who believes in our democracy should hold that to be a good.
    —    Stacey Abrams
Quoted by:  Gilad Edelman
In an interview:  “Stacey Abrams on How We’ll Beat Back Voter Suppression
Published in:  Wired Magazine
Dtd:  15 September 2020
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On This Day In:
2020 Give Me A Minute To Think About That…
November 3rd Is Coming!
An Eye For An Eye
2019 Is #45 Warning Alabama Again?
Day 11: 49ers Win
2018 Worry (x2)
2017 Still Working
Gold In The Morning Sun
2016 Power Inside
2015 Sometimes I Feel Small
2014 It Slipped Away
2013 Corollary
2012 Working Retired
2011 The Web Is Not Authoritative! (Really?)

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The nuclear family, in its brief heyday, was fundamentally an economic strategy, one that made it easier to control the supply of workers and organize childcare and domestic work so that women were doing as much of it as possible for free.  This arrangement no longer makes economic or emotional sense — and millennials know it.  Almost half of us, after all, grew up with parents who were divorced, or in single-parent households.  But the nuclear family remains the only form of family with cultural legitimacy.
Here’s the lesson I had to learn:  “Traditional” nuclear families today are no more stable or secure, no more or less likely to lead to lasting happiness, than “alternative” households.  In “The Sirens of Titan“, Kurt Vonnegut spends hundreds of pages coming to the conclusion that the purpose — or at least a purpose — “of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.”  The problem with found families is exactly the same as the problem with every other sort of family.  There is no perfect structure, no single set of rules, that can guarantee that people will always be decent to each other, will never have growing up to do, and that nobody will ever get their heart broken ever again.
And that, I suppose, is what family means.
It means you love whoever is around to love.  That doesn’t mean you have to like them all the time.  Love takes work.  Living together takes work.  Sick and tired of waiting around in the antechamber of socially sanctioned adulthood, millennials are setting up home right here.  We are not waiting for our “real lives” to start.  We may never have the security or stability we were raised to desire, but we can still have commitment and community.  For me, this is my real life.  These are the households and relationships where I have grown up, learned how to take care of myself and other people, had my heart and brain and favorite mugs broken.  These are our real lives, brief and beautiful, stupid and unlikely, and we would live them far better if we were given permission — beyond the wish fulfillment of fiction — to believe in them.
    —    Laurie Penny
From her article: “Live Wrong And Prosper: It’s The Future Of Families
Appearing in:  Wired Magazine, dtd: July / Aug 2020
Online at:  https://www.wired.com/story/live-wrong-prosper-covid-19-future-of-families/
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On This Day In:
2020 A Message To Optional Trump Supporters (Basically Everyone)
2019 Bigger Jaws
On The Other
2018 Hoping For A Blue Wave In November
2017 Garden Dreaming
2016 Well, Maybe Not “No” Talent
2015 An Appetite For Life
A Trip To The Library
Great Expectations
2014 Pass The Soul
2013 Zapping Music And Art
2012 Not Quite Fantastic
That Kid Is Back
2011 Wolves At The Door
2010 I’m Feeling Patriotic… (Well, more than usual, anyway.)
Beating the Heat…

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“For a lot of people a car means freedom and social status,” says Janette Sadik-Khan.  “But if a city provides you no choice but to drive, a car isn’t freedom, it’s dependence.  If you have no choice but to drive for every trip, it’s not your fault.  Your city has failed.”
    —    Janette Sadik-Khan
Head of New York City’s Department of Transportation
Quoted by:  Adam Rogers
In his article:  “Road Warriors
Appearing in:  Wired Magazine, dtd:  Apr 2020
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On This Day In:
2020 A Short Count
Two Loves
2019 Don’t Forget: Fire Burns
2018 Especially In The Middle East
2017 A Good Local
2016 Life Unlimited
2015 Still Trying
2014 Destiny, n.
2013 No Apologies
2012 Utterly Convinced
2011 A Key To Effectiveness

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Plagues don’t come for one tribe or another;  they don’t smite a population because it’s gone astray;  they’re neither divine punishment nor a sign of the Rapture.
    —    Virginia  Heffernan
From her article:  “Words To Live By
Appearing in:  Wired Magazine;  dtd:  May 2020
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On This Day In:
2020 Social Distancing
2019 Touched?
2018 Chillin’ With My Bro
Inconvenient Adventure
2017 Genuine Tragedies
2016 Why I’m Scared Of November
2015 I Can Tell Too
2014 In Hand
2013 No Fear
2012 Comic Books
Keeping The Peace
2011 You Still Have To Pay For It

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From our first moments of consciousness up through childhood, the things we think we might be able to do with our lives broaden and broaden.  And then, at some point around adolescence, they start to narrow.  Our imaginations shrink, our obligations grow, we charge ahead on certain roads and avoid the ones less traveled.  Eleven is wonderful.  You’re aware of the world and its limitations, but if you’re lucky your imagination hasn’t been crimped yet.  Really, maybe, you can do anything.
    —    Nicholas Thompson
From his editorial:  “An Awesome Question
Appearing in:  Wired Magazine, dtd:  Apr 2020
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On This Day In:
2020 Democratic Aspiration
2019 Soul Before Will
2018 Small Things
2017 Clear And Warm To Me
2016 Ripple
2015 Amazing Or Full Of Wonder?
2014 Are You Confused?
2013 But The Odds Are Against It
2012 Far Better Off With Books
2011 Timid And Fainthearted

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2034: A Novel of the Next World War”  (2021©)  —  book review
The book subject to today’s review was written by Elliot Ackerman, James Stavridis Admiral USN (ret.).  Ackerman is a former White House Fellow and decorated Marine veteran.  Stavridis is, of course, best known as a four-star Admiral and former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.  Ackerman is a working journalist / opinion writer and both are authors of multiple books.  That’s pretty much their bonafides for writing a “future – history” about world war / combat.
This novel is set thirteen years in the future.  Putin is still in charge of Russia.  The U.S. has a female President from an Independent party.  And, we don’t really know much about anyone else in charge around the world.  We know China is pushing its claims in the northern Pacific, yet Taiwan remains an independent “nation” state.  India has somehow “resolved” the Pakistan issue in its favor, but we don’t know what that means for either India or Pakistan.  NATO is in disarray without strong U.S. leadership.  And, finally, Iran has had some success against Israel.  What isn’t exactly made clear, except Iran has somehow “freed” the Golan Heights.
Background:  The first third of this book was published as a special “full dedicated issue” recently in Wired magazine, which I subscribe to.  I have read EVERY issue of the magazine since inception back in 1993.  The company I worked for back in 2000 had all of the back issues on a shelf and I would “borrow” them one at a time, read cover to cover and then bring them back.  As far as I know, no one else EVER read any of them, as once I was hired, I kept the current ones on my desk and no one ever asked for them.  Shortly before leaving the company, I got a personal subscription and have continued reading them for the last 20 years.  Anyway, Wired‘s issue left you hanging with the promise of a future novel publication in March 2021.  My review is of the full publication.  This book was one of two I received as a birthday present from my wife.
And,…  This book is about a military conflict between China and the United States.  Supposedly, China is an ascending world power and the U.S. is a descending / failing world power.  China stages a confrontation in order to demonstrate its military superiority – and the world slips into war.
Is the book interesting?  Informative?  Entertaining?  Accurate – technologically, politically or militarily?  Is it worth the time to read it?  To be honest, the magazine promised more than the book delivered.  The answer to all five of those questions is mostly so-so…
It is a fast read at barely over 300 pages.  The problem is there isn’t much there – there.  I don’t know how much (if any) current military capability Ackerman has access to.  It is a given (to me) that Stavridis would have had nearly unlimited access (pre-retirement anyway).  The problem is, of course, the book would have had to be submitted to and cleared through State and DOD before it was published and neither agencies (nor the authors) would have been inclined to offer much useful information in a novel.
With nothing but the most general capabilities described we get a lot of implausible “magic” technology under the guise of “AI” (Artificial Intelligence) which seems to work perfectly and then not at all.  We get very poor strategic decisions / action by the U.S.; we get some oversimplification of other technologies (overseas internet cabling);  side tracks by Russia and Iran, which seem to have been added to make the conflict global rather than China vs. U.S.;  and then we get a couple of miracles at the end by India to conclude the novel / war.  That pretty much covers the “informative and accuracy” portion of this review.
What about interesting and entertaining?  Again, so-so…  There are five main characters: female American Admiral, male American fighter pilot, male American (Indian immigrant) NSC advisor, male Iranian officer (he ends up with various ranks), and the main Chinese (half-American) Admiral.  The story is told from each of their viewpoints.  (Yes, there are also another handful of secondary but important characters, but this is really about the big five.)
The problem I had was the number of characters made for a long, deep story which developed each character to the point where you cared about them without giving away too much plot / ending.  Unfortunately, this book is neither long nor deep, which meant you almost cared, but not quite.  And, again unfortunately, it was almost entirely predictable and therefore, while I finished feeling entertained, I didn’t feel satisfied – emotionally or intellectually.
Then is it worth your time, then?  Yes!  It raises the interesting question if military technology is useful if it is subject to (can be negated by) a less expensive counter-measure.  In this case, the apparent answer is that if the elephant is blinded, it is still an elephant and not easily overwhelmed.
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  This is not Tom Clancy or Sir John Hackett level political, military or strategy writing, but I did find it entertaining even if not informative or militarily consistent.  I’m grateful to have received it as a present, because I’d have waited for the paperback or a very reduced price before buying it myself.  So I got to read something almost literally hot off the presses…
Final disclaimer:  I purchased this book at normal / sale price and no compensation has been provided to me by anyone for my opinions in this review.
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On This Day In:
2020 First Buds
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2019 What If Nobody Believes Them Either
2018 It’s About Heart Not Skill
2017 Winning So Much I’m Already Tired Of It (Not)
2016 Punishing Red Binge
2015 Bits In The Soup
2014 More Beef, Less Bull
2013 Where Are Your Mountains
2012 Spherical Knowledge Of Hamsters
2011 Taking Stock Over Time

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Generations imply some giant disruption in the universe.  I like curves more.  Moore’s law (always more transistors), Metcalfe’s law (bigger networks are more valuable), experience curves (making things gets cheaper when you learn by doing), and so forth.  I like these thumbnail rules because they encapsulate the Great Muchness more than some theory of intergenerational strife.  It’s terrible that we’re headed into global climate catastrophe, but then again, we’re only facing doom because for 75 years no one started a nuclear war.
So our sleep will be transcribed and robots will deliver our sneakers, which will themselves be computers.  Technology will not solve bad marriages, bad eating, or racist thoughts, nor stop DisneyWarnerNetflixQuibiPlus from making superhero movies.  I find it profoundly helpful, then, to not just reject the concept of generations but to invert it:  The immense changes in technology show us, again and again, year after year, that we are basically the same as ever, just reacting to our place along curves of life well out of our control.  One can get very mixed up about what makes us human.  And it would, in fact, behoove all of us on the grayer side to get to know and love our peculiar youths, so that they might speak well of us when we do not matter anymore.
    —    Paul Ford
From his article:  “Generation Vexed
Appearing in:  Wired Magazine, dtd:  March 2020
Online the article is titled:  “How Technology Explodes the Concept of ‘Generations’
The link is:  https://www.wired.com/story/millennials-genx-technology-explodes-generations/
(You may have to go through a “pay-wall” to view the article.)
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On This Day In:
2020 Pay It Forward
2019 From My Sullied Prison
2018 In My Room (2)
2017 Pretending
2016 And Songs Too…
2015 On The Road To Failure
2014 Each Moment
2013 Conversation
2012 4 Down, 11 Done (At Last)
I’m Not Afraid
2011 Who’s Risk Is It, Anyway?

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