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“We think of the past like it’s a physical fact – like it’s real. But the past is what we call our memory and stories about it. Imperfect memories, and stories built on one interpretation of incomplete information. That’s “the past”.”

Eyewitnesses aren’t always reliable. Much of our life narrative that we’ve unconsciously or consciously constructed for ourselves can be transformed. I think the ubiquity of therapy can be a mixed bag in outcomes but one great nuance it can introduce is recognition of the underlying stories that have held power over you for some time.

“Thick travel has made me realise how much chaos we have here in the US, at a spiritual level, compared with the rest of the world. We are becoming a thin culture, obsessed with the surface, more and more in denial about the importance of what is beneath. We have forgotten that we need webs of meaning, eroding so many of them.”

This may well be true but I’ve rarely seen more craving – both spoken and unspoken – for deeper connections in my entire life, ranging from people actually engaging in witchcraft after astrology doesn’t suffice to rejecting materialism and deliberately choosing less lucrative but more meaningful careers.

“In 2017, along with Pierre Delplace and Venaille, both physicists at the École Normale Supérieure in Lyon, France, Marston observed that the Coriolis force swirls fluids on Earth the way the magnetic field spins von Klitzing’s electrons. In the planetary version of a topological insulator, equatorial Kelvin waves are like the current flowing at a quantum material’s edge. These immense waves propagate around the equator because it is the boundary between two insulators, the hemispheres. And they flow east because in the northern hemisphere, Earth’s rotation swirls fluids clockwise, and in the southern hemisphere, the ocean swirls in the other direction.”

A growing theory I have is that the entire universe is fractal. The topological swirls in quantum electronics are copied by the weather waves spanning the globe; maybe the universe’s black holes more closely mirror cellular decay than we think?

“In no way do I pine nostalgically for the seventeenth century and its coal fires, outdoor latrines, rats, lice, fleas, biannual baths, and so-called dentistry. But gross jobs are still part of life. We’ve just divvied up roles such that we can mostly hire someone else to do the dirty work.”

The physicality of our existence means it’s essential, in my view, to learn how and why things work. I’m still trying to get better at this. Oh, and it’s critical for especially teenagers to get exposed to ‘dirty jobs’.

“And, like a good localist, Swift saw what needed doing: taking care of the soil, avoiding abstraction, especially in ownership but also in leadership, providing for ourselves, and solving problems with solutions suited to individual places—that is, seeking local wisdom.”

If WFH truly becomes the prevailing mode, it is possible that a localist revival could occur, but that seems pretty far off/hard to imagine, given the sheer mass of cultural change that’ll need to occur.

“Yet, opines Deneen, it is custom and authoritative cultural institutions that protect the average person against the rapaciousness of the elite. In Deneen’s view, the emphasis on the autonomous self to the detriment of custom and communal authority has left people adrift. Without these authoritative cultural transmitters of meaning and custom, the common person becomes a pawn to a “power elite” that promises to manage people’s lives for them.”

It’s important to note these are usually local, not national institutions, e.g., your neighbors that look out for your car as thieves try to make off with it (happened just this weekend to an acquaintance of mine).

“Wood’s team showed that a computer powered by a GPU and running Unity, a software package for producing video games, could generate the necessary pictures — including detailed reflections of digital images wrapped around the curved, wet human eyeball. It took the GPU system just 23 milliseconds to generate each photo. (In fact, each image actually took only 3.6 milliseconds to produce; the rest of the time was spent storing the image.)”

How much data will AI systems really need? Data poisoning is likely to become a much bigger problem sooner rather than later, while the rarity and quality of datasets are going to become a distinct pipeline of IP.

“And so, what do we find when we read Zuckerberg’s letter against the background of Yeats’s poem? We find that Zuckerberg’s imaginative vocabulary is suffocatingly limited. In fact, the metaphors we hear, almost exclusively (perhaps, not surprisingly), are drawn from the practical application of mathematical functions, sketched out into order to find vertex coordinates; that is, those graphable points that represent maxima and minima for market opportunities.”

Many tech CEOs are far smarter than I am – still, maybe they could have spared some time to read some literature. The glorification of the quantifiable and the coder in the 2010s is dying, thankfully.

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