Posts tagged progress
Balaji Srinivasan asks in a Twitter thread why we’re not far more productive given the technology available and gives five possible explanations…
The Great Distraction.
All the productivity we gained has been frittered away on equal-and-opposite distractions like social media, games, etc.
The Great Dissipation.
The productivity has been dissipated on things like forms, compliance, process, etc.
The Great Divergence.
The productivity is here, it’s just only harnessed by the indistractable few.
The Great Dilemma.
The productivity has been burned in bizarre ways that require line-by-line “profiling” of everything.
The Great Dumbness.
The productivity is here, we’ve just made dumb decisions in the West while others have harnessed it.
(via Balaji Srinivasan)
superject (in progress) (via https://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/50698595796/)
“Look around you. If there are others all moving in the same direction, and they look like you, and they move like you, and they all like the same things, and they hate the same things, and they are angry about the same things, and they are screaming about the same things, chances are you are on the wrong path.”
–Nick Cave, The Red Hand Files Issue #123
“The sea is not a surface. It is, from top to bottom, an abyss. If you want to cross the sea, sink.”
“What’s now captured the interest of intellectuals is the elephant chart, the idea that over the past 30 years the winners were emerging market middle classes and the 1 percent in developed markets, but the developed markets’ middle classes were stagnant,” he wrote. “And I think we’ve finally found the correct framework for thinking about intersection of politics and macroeconomic trends.”
“It used to be the case that people were admonished to not“re-invent the wheel”. We now live in an age that spends a lot of time“reinventing the flat tire!””
“On the left you can see features of good science, with authors providing their data and software code, and in the best cases even using pre-registration of their study and version control for maximum transparency. The grey area in the middle shows questionable research practices, which can include p-hacking, sloppy statistics, peer review abuse etc. On the right side and marked ‘red’ is scientific misconduct as commonly defined (falsification, fabrication, plagiarism). Between the grey and red are is data secrecy.”
When I am very frightened, I look out the window on airplanes and say very quietly: I have seen the tops of clouds And I have. In all the history of humanity, I am one of the few that has seen the tops of clouds. Many would have died to do so, and some did. I have seen them many times. I have seen the Earth from space, and spun it around like a god to see what’s on the other side. We are the only consciousness we’ve ever found that has looked deep into the infinite dark, and instead of dark, we saw galaxies. Galaxies! Suns and worlds beyond number. We have looked into our world and found atoms, atomic forces, systems that dance to the glorious music of the universe. We have seen actual wonders that verge on the ineffable. We have coined a word for the ineffable. We have coined thousands of words for the ineffable. In our pain we find a kind of magic, in our worst and meanest specimens we find the flesh of a common human story.
Famous though the slogan might be, its meaning has never been clear. In the 2004 IPO letter, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin clarify that Google will be “a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains.” But what counts as “good things,” and who constitutes “the world?” The slogan’s significance has likely changed over time, but today it seems clear that we’re misunderstanding what “evil” means to the company. For today’s Google, evil isn’t tied to malevolence or moral corruption, the customary senses of the term. Rather, it’s better to understand Google’s sense of evil as the disruption of its brand of (computational) progress.
I don’t know of a better example of the way the collective imagination of the modern world shifted gears when Sputnik I broke free of the atmosphere and opened the Space Age. Until then, the top of the atmosphere might as well have been a sheet of iron, as the Egyptians thought it was. (Their logic was impeccable: polished iron is blue, and so is the sky; iron is strong and heatproof, and the sky would need to be both to deal in order to support the boat named Millions of Years on which Ra the sun god does his daily commute; besides, the only iron they knew came from meteorites, which they sensibly interpreted as stray chunks of sky that had fallen to earth. Many of our theories about nature will likely seem much less reasonable from the perspective of the far future.)
It’s always the electronic frontier. Nobody ever goes back to look at the electronic forests that were cut down with chainsaws and tossed into the rivers. And then there’s this empty pretense that these innovations make the world “better.” This is a dangerous word. Like: “If we’re not making the world better, then why are we doing this at all?” Now, I don’t want to claim that this attitude is hypocritical. Because when you say a thing like that at South By: “Oh, we’re here to make the world better” — you haven’t even reached the level of hypocrisy. You’re stuck at the level of childish naivete. The world has a tragic dimension. This world does not always get better. The world has deserts. Deserts aren’t better. People don’t always get better.
Why did the projected explosion of technological growth everyone was expecting—the moon bases, the robot factories—fail to happen? There are two possibilities. Either our expectations about the pace of technological change were unrealistic (in which case, we need to know why so many intelligent people believed they were not) or our expectations were not unrealistic (in which case, we need to know what happened to derail so many credible ideas and prospects).