The Info Diet | #4
Tech, being human, and finding the right balance between the two
Before getting to our final ‘Info Diet’ of the year… I’d like to end 2023 with a story that I haven’t been able to shake. It’s a fun fact of history that really makes you think… About the randomness of life, the choices we make, and how to position ourselves to maximize the surface area for getting lucky.
Morgan Housel told this story on a recent Tim Ferriss podcast, and it’s been haunting me ever since. But in a good way, like a whispering ghost, reminding me to live more and worry less. I thought some of you might find it useful as well.
The story takes place at a turning point of the Revolutionary War, during the Battle of Long Island. The British have George Washington and his men trapped just outside of Brooklyn.
His troops were famished and beaten down; more bags of flesh/bone than men. All the Brits had to do was sail up the East River and it would have been all over.
Alas, on a frigid and fateful night, the Brits finalized a plan to do just that. The final blow was mere moments away.
But suddenly, the winds changed course.
A capricious twist of nature barred the British from advancing, giving Washington and his ragged troops a sliver of hope, and a small window to escape.
David McCullough, one of the world’s foremost experts on the Revolutionary War, was once interviewed by the famous journalist, Charlie Rose.
Rose asked, “If the winds were blowing the other direction that night, would there be a United States?”
McCullough said, “Absolutely not.”
The existence of an entire nation, an empire, one of the most defining forces in history… it can all be attributed to a whimsical breeze.
Makes you really think… about all kinds of things, but mostly about the profound uncertainty and delicate nature of our lives.
Life is but a dance of chance and choice, rife with tiny decisions that spiral into life-altering events: how we meet a life partner, how we get a job, how we end up in a new city, etc,
Today's small choice might be tomorrow's defining moment.
With that last thought as an anchor, here are some things I’m reflecting on heading into 2024:
Embrace the unpredictable: Unpredictability is not a hindrance, but a natural and enriching aspect of the human experience. Treat it as a source of possibility and potential.
Appreciate the most minute moments: Seemingly inconsequential decisions or chance encounters can lead to monumental changes.
Stay flexible: Be a reed in the wind, bend with the unexpected twists and turns of life.
Find beauty in chaos: A certain magic emerges from chaos. Sprinkle it with a little bit of control, and let complexity theory do its thing.
With that… on to ‘The Info Diet’
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Welcome to edition #4 of ‘The Info Diet’ by Medium Energy: a simple list of content that grabbed me most this week, e.g. articles, podcasts, videos, or books.
For the new comers… this ‘information diet’ is broken into three buckets:
(1) Technology- news, trends, vectors around all things cutting edge tech, with a focus on AI, spatial computing, and blockchain
(2) Being Human- all things that promote well-being and self-improvement, e.g. psychology, leadership, mental health, neuroscience, fitness
(3) Tech + Being Human- examples of all the goodness that sits at the center of bucket one and two, aka: the upside from finding the right balance, or healthy tension, between tech and being human
Video: Must watch video of Tesla’s Optimus humanoid robot… | The progress in such a short period of time is stunning.
Tweet: Progress in AI + Robotics | If you want a 2 minute download on the latest progress in AI and robotics… skim this tweet from Bret Adcock. Some highlights…
Cal Berkley trained humanoids to walk with a fully virtual simulation + reinforcement learning
AI powered Avatars make for shockingly good news anchors
Mistral (the OpenAI of France) open-sourced a model that is as good at GPT 3.5, and the model is way, way smaller. Open-source might prevail…
Self-driving cars are going to have a moment in 2024… Waymo revealed that riders took more than 700,000 trips in their autonomous vehicles in 2023…
Article: 3D model generation via AI | Stability AI is getting really good at creating 3D models with very limited input (simple 2D images).
Article: Google DeepMind used a large language model to solve an unsolved math problem | This is a major step towards AGI (artificial general intellgience)… A reminder: LLMs just can’t do math. By combining math with language, in theory… AI should take a huge leap forward in reasoning, original thinking, and problem solving.
Article: Moving AI from the cloud to the edge, no internet required… | This is one of the more important development in AI to follow in 2024.
Article: The Rule of Forced Boredom - A tool for hyper-productivity and success | I’m finding focus to be the rarest commodity lately… The moment I’m stuck and bored with a task, my hand shoots out to grab my phone. Next thing I know, 10 minutes is gone in a flash. I spent it doom scrolling and consuming complete bull shit… It’s one of my biggest flaws of 2023. 2024 is the year of forced boredom.
TECH + BEING HUMAN
Video: AI Girlfriends | Weird & creepy, I know… But when you think about the pandemic of loneliness… perhaps this gives people the boost they need. My prediction… This is an on-ramp back into the real world, building emotional intelligence in those who lack it, and instilling confidence to better engage potential partners in the real world (aka similar to the ending of the movie, Her)
Article: Sphere and Loathing in Las Vegas | This was one of my favorite articles of the year. It speaks to the power of shared immersive experiences, and hints at what a more desirable metaverse could look/feel like.
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