Government 2.0

Posted: December 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

Recently a very public testimony was given in front of congress with Mark Zuckerburg and the results were nothing short of meme worthy. Fast forward to Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s testimony and a grim realization emerges. Our elected officials have never been much for inspiring confidence or displaying competence but as more and more technology based issues find their way under the microscope in D.C. the situation is deteriorating rapidly. It is painfully obvious that the people entrenched in power have no idea the scope or significance of the problems that they are inquiring about. They cannot even formulate questions of any real value to ask. When congress does not realize that Facebook generates revenue through selling Ads or that Google search engine functions on a hierarchical algorithm and not people manually aligning ads and results with search queries or targeting mobile gaming we have a serious problem.

Science and technology are in a state of advancement being referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. ” It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres, collectively referred to as cyber-physical systems” -Wiki. These technologies have completely restructured modern society in less than 15 years and will continue to do so at an accelerating pace. Entrenched lawmakers who cannot grasp the scope and significance of these changes, and are prone to attempts at leveraging anything and everything possible for personal power and gain, is a most dangerous mix indeed.

The danger we face from a political climate in conflict with science and reason can not be taken lightly. History is littered with cautionary tales began with this exact introduction. Money and influence have dictated policy for far too long and it is time that we mature as a society. People who do not understand something CANNOT be tasked with its regulation. We need to empower people in a capacity that is transparent, independent,  and aligned with expertise. I can think of no bigger disconnect then the amount of power given to politicians who are blatantly unqualified to deal with modern issues. Pair this with the fact that there is little sign of their actions aligning with the best interests of the people they represent and we find ourselves in a situation where ignorance is prevailing. All of this in the face of destructive weather events, unacceptable miscarriages of justice, and a rapid degradation of the institutions that improved life for so many more quickly than at any other time in history.

The market does not reward incompetence so neither should our political system.

Technological Morality

Posted: December 6, 2018 in Uncategorized

Dr. Ian Malcolm: “Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

This iconic line from Jurassic Park uttered by Jeff Goldblum waxing reflective about the de extinction of dinosaurs was recently parroted by Dennis Mckenna on the Joe Rogan podcast in terms of creating Virtual Reality worlds. He implies that technology in and of itself is neither good or bad and I am torn on this.

I completely understand the dangers inherent with the creation of powerful technologies. The most immediate danger is always their weaponization. Nuclear power is humanities most immediate chance at clean sustainable energy for all but it is also the fuel for nuclear weaponry. Biological warfare is not easily separated from medical advancements in treatments for disease. No version of these discussions leads us back to a point where we would have been better off leaving these things undiscovered. If we as humans did stop to answer the question of “just because we can should we?” I cannot reach any other conclusion but an absolute yes. Not excusing the horrors of their misuse but we have powerful tools to fight infections and diseases that we were powerless against in the past. The behaviors of the worst of us cannot offset the victories that these discoveries have afforded us. I am the first to advocate every attempt be made for ethical and measured behaviors in the presence of advancing tech, but if it comes down to a choice between discovery and intentional ignorance the choice, in my humble opinion, needs to always favor discovery. No advancement has a net negative effect be it coal or plastic or virtual reality. Coal and plastics have had tremendous negative impact on the world but I challenge anyone to defend that humanity would be better off if they remained undiscovered. Coal fueled the creation of modern civilization. Plastic has given us a level of hygiene and sanitation that has saved an unthinkable amount of lives. So my position is that discovery and technological advancement is the most moral action we can take. Discovery is the source of knowledge, knowledge is the antidote to ignorance, and the choice to remain in ignorance in my opinion is the single most immoral choice that can be made. Fear is the only perspective that justifies the defense of anti creation and discovery. That cannot be the perspective we begin from. It is always better to know than to not.

The gift of humanity to be able to discover ourselves, and our world, and the universe is our most obvious purpose for being here. Everything that makes us unique is predicated on this ability. It is unforgivable not to discover everything possible about our existence. The earth rewards nothing to the extent it does the acquisition of knowledge. Every increase in our ability to survive and thrive has been the result of pursuing knowledge and the act of creation. An ethical code where significant attention is paid to minimizing or eliminating harm during the process is essential and indeed emerging. You cannot have a conversation about artificial intelligence without considering the potential impact and the necessity of caution and care. This is increasingly critical as the technologies we develop become ever more powerful, but our stride must not be broken. Not when so many still suffer and go without. So to reiterate my answer to the question of if we should I say yes. We absolutely should, and we must.

The Forgotten Muscle

Posted: November 29, 2018 in Uncategorized

Ok it’s not a muscle per se, but spoiler alert your muscles are not the only part of your body that respond to progressive overload. The most critical component of physical prowess is often the least utilized. Have you guessed it yet? I’m talking about the brain. The single most fantastic creation in the cosmos thus far. The tool with which we became aware we exist. It’s aware of itself yet cannot perceive itself and even through the combined efforts of many who use theirs at a very high level. It does not know itself. It works but does not know how. It’s like the ultimate Swiss Army knife in the hands of a child who has not learned what most of the tools are for or what they can ultimately do. It perceives, experiences, remembers, and predicts and has had this capability long before it was used to create the wheel or harness fire. Yet at an accelerating pace we are discovering that brains are capable of doing the *ahem* unthinkable. That is to say we have yet to find the limit of its functional capacity and hardly a day goes by where I do not witness a new achievement attesting to the limitless capabilities these brains afford us humans. Memory competitions where people memorize whole decks of cards faster than I can cook an egg. A spatial memory savant that can recreate entire city scapes after a 20 minute helicopter ride around the city. The show superhumans is a buffet of mental magic attesting to the capacity of the brain that boggles the mind *pun very much intended. Mental phenomenon such as “instant savant” also break linearity with our understanding of how the brain works. Google it. It basically implies that Socrates was right “learning is remembering”. What hypothesis can we form as to how a head injury could result in formed and functional knowledge of skills or languages that have never previously been known? Is all knowledge intrinsic and we are just unblocking it as we perceive ourselves as learning it? Or is there some ancestral link with out DNA that if someone in our lineage could play the piano that a specific occurrence to our brain can resurface this ability? I have no idea but it’s really weird none the less.

The major takeaway here is that we are obviously just scratching the surface of what our operating system can do and considering the potential there in a much larger portion of our time dedicated to exploring and developing these potentials has limitless value.

To be continued…

The Only Decision That Matters

Posted: September 7, 2018 in Uncategorized

Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.

-Jim Rohn

As a companion to yesterdays Does This Smell Funny podcast I would like to go a little deeper into the concept of defending your bandwidth. I’ll begin with a question. How is it that two people who live in the same area, make similar wages, and have had a similar set of experiences can view the world in two completely different ways? Two people who sit next to each other at the same job, grew up in the same town, and have effectively lived identical lives can live in two completely different worlds. Person A reads books, travels on their vacations, and practices kindness and patience when having conversations with people. Person A’s friends would refer to them as optimistic and curious. Person B only watches specific news channels, only engages in specific conversations with people who agree with their beliefs, and avoids any and all conversations and information that opposes the beliefs they have.

On a fundamental level there is little reason to believe that these two people should view the world from polar opposite perspectives. However, they do, and they do to a significant degree. Certain symptoms of an optimistic, growth mindset such as the one shown by Person A are beliefs that change in the presence of new information and constructive conversations with people that hold varying positions. Person B is dismissive with a more fixed mindset. This person holds the same views regardless of any new perspectives or information they encounter. Things like confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance, and an echo chamber effect emerge. The only information sought is that which is predetermined to agree with established positions or it is rejected. Whenever information is happened upon that contradicts established positions and opinions these are reacted to with pretty consistent strategies. Either a dismissive disqualification of either the information, or the person providing the information is established. Often lumping them into a group or other method of invalidation (liberal, globalist, dumb or naive kid) or simply reacting with hostility (ad hominem). One thing is for sure is that rarely will the components of the actual topic be discussed, and if they are it will not be with any open mindedness or chance of constructive progression.

None of this is meant to be an attack on those with fixed mindsets or uncompromising belief systems. People often develop these positions either out of privilege (no not that kind of privilege), example, or necessity. It is the example that was set for them, or the tool kit that has helped them navigate their lives up to this point. Optimism is not safe and being open minded is not always accepted or comforting. If your parents hold uncompromising views and have fixed mind sets there is little opportunity for you develop an optimistic, growth mindset. An adolescent expressing progressive beliefs, or any belief that does not align with their authority figures will often be met with the same response that they will end up using in perpetuity, or until a better example is set or growth occurs.

The reason I am discussing this is because one consistent observation I see is the difference in the quality of life and the level of peace. So what is the most important decision a person can make? It is the decision to be happy. This is truly the only decision that matters. No single person has influence over every circumstance they encounter, but your reaction is completely up to you. I am not suggesting anything akin to self delusion or deception. I am simply suggesting to allow yourself to be at peace by controlling your perception. Problems will inevitably arise, but getting angry about something you can have zero influence on is simply spinning wheels with the parking brake on. Lots of smoke and damage but no distance is covered. Cut yourself a break and take a moment to asses a situation using a simple two step test.

Step 1: Can you do anything about it?

If not then let it go immediately. If yes proceed to step 2.

Step 2: Do something about it and then let it go.

No value is created through division and contempt for people who hold different views. If you find yourself in combat with an idea, I urge you to allow yourself, or even force yourself, to deploy kindness and patience, and take a moment to realize we are all just doing the best we can. Regardless of the scorecard at the end of any given day, we are all we have, and an open mind allows for unity and strength where a closed mind is simply stagnant. Please allow yourself peace and try to seek to understand those you are at odds with, before trying to convince them of anything.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood”

-Stephen Covey (soft attribution to Habit 5)

 

 

 

OneGen- A Startup

Posted: August 20, 2018 in Uncategorized

Until very recent history innovation has pretty much kept reasonable pace with capability and capacity. Recently the discrepancy between what has been possible and what is being achieved has been widening more and more. Now we are in a world of boundless possibility with the realization that we are under performing as a species to a significant degree.

No reason for world hunger to still exist.

There is no reason that stem cell therapy should not be eradicating disease already.

No reason that we should not already be an interplanetary species.

These are all complete failures of the human race. Nothing less.

Abundance used to be what humanity would strive for when the benefits were not even all that apparent. Now it seems to be resisted at every turn when benefits are immediately apparent. Entrenched industries being disrupted left and right is a side effect of how long overdue change is. Little more than a bit of imagination, some tech savvy, and a little hard work has been disintegrating the status quo for the last decade.

It is actually pretty difficult to quantify how much progress was lost throughout human history because of ignorance and resistance to change, but ANY amount was tantamount to nothing short of a tragedy.

What can we do as a people to minimize the loss of progress from this point forward?

There is no imminent problem that we do not have the tools to solve at this point. Our level of capability from a creativity, knowledge, resources, and needs perspective is at a surplus.

Students seeking degrees in the sciences is on the rise!! No single sentence has ever given me more hope for the future. The level of progress that we have achieved as a society has been achieved by the tiny percentage of science minded individuals among us. If this trend continues it will be inevitable that every aspect of life on earth (and beyond) will be improved significantly in the near future. Progress has been built upon the foundation of transferable knowledge. The written and spoken word all the way through to the information age has been little more than tiny layer upon layer of added knowledge and then the expression of the knew thoughts and ideas that emerge from it.

Historically a lot of discovery and progress was achieved, knowingly or unknowingly, as seed investing for future generations. Gorilla glass was invented a generations prior to the smart phone making it ubiquitous. Countless examples exist for this type of situation. Where a discovery was made but practical uses for it would be years away. We are not as severely confined to this timeline progression anymore. We are in the midst of an era where the distance ideas have to travel from the realm of science fiction to culturally irrelevant is very short. We are on the path to shorten that timeline from idea to distribution effectively to zero. Ideas will be able to be created with AI, AR, and then rapid prototyped on home 3D printers with the ease that you could type and print a document today. So the manufacturing stream of the very near future is going to be done in home or even in-situ.

So what will it take to align our progress with our capabilities? What will it take to optimize innovation? In “Ideas and Opinions” Einstein speaks of the need to remove obstacles from the path of creativity and discovery. Freedom to explore ideas is the most powerful ingredient to progress. Throughout all but the most recent portions of human history there has been a pervasive fear and beliefs in mythology that has hamstrung progress in the sciences for more time than it has not. How do we balance this? How do we usher in the next phase of scientific progress? How do we bridge the gaps between the sciences and create a global (and beyond) community that fosters progress and triumph for humanity? Ultimately how do we align our capabilities with our performance?

Cooperation and pressure in the pursuit of magnificent goals.

This is the strategy that got us to the moon. This is the strategy that precipitated the greatest achievements in human history. This is the strategy that will align the capabilities of our collective human race with the next wave of solutions to humanities biggest problems.

Alignment and cooperation is a strategy that can result in the largest possible benefit for the largest possible amount of the world. The resources are available. Both to accomplish any goal set forth while at the same time giving the following generations the biggest head start possible so that they can do the same, so on and so forth. Maximizing the compound interest returned on our investment into ourselves and our planet.

I imagine a trend where the largest companies in the world begin making it a priority to amplify their positive impact, and the awareness of the impact, on the world as a whole. Not only companies but all institutions. Hospitals and militaries as well. Any entity with the resources and personnel  will always find acceptance and longevity making investments into the future of all humankind.

I think it is an absolute necessity to shift the focus of all societies to a more connected, positive paradigm. It always puzzles me when I find out that there are massive charitable organizations that nobody has ever heard of but if a Kardashian puts out a new book or has a baby, everyone knows about it in real time!!! This in and of itself should be ample motivation to realign the priorities of society. There are massive forces for good at work that can be 10X’d if the public connection to them was amplified. It is a tragedy that the knowledge of these forces contributions have to be pursued when the latest fodder on TMZ spreads like the flu. Everyone knows the second McDonald’s has a new dollar menu item but the actions of the Ronald McDonald house?? sorry, you are going to have to dig for that. There are a class of mutual funds identified as “social” funds. These are funds that consist of companies that have met certain criteria of social responsibility. You would be shocked at the companies that meet this standard and how drastically their social reputation is in opposition to this achievement. Companies that have an image that is either disconnected from social responsibility or are perceived as socially irresponsible are often found on these indexes. It baffles me that this is not a priority for them to have these actions as part of their public image as their product.

 

The previous rant was simply some of the thoughts that catalyzed the dream of OneGen.

Morgan Freeman’s character in Shawshank Redemption had a very powerful line in reference to “time and pressure”. Few things are unable to be achieved when put under these conditions. I think there is massive value in applying time and pressure to situations in an effort to inspire and accelerate their achievement. There is absolutely zero reason that humanities greatest problems cannot be effectively eliminated in one generation.

That is the vision statement for OneGen- to align the capabilities of humanity with its accomplishments. Ruthlessly pursue knowledge and solve the worlds problems in systematic fashion. Nobody in the world is doing the best they can, we can and must do better.

 

Examples of possible OneGen projects:

How do we raise the collective IQ (ability to consume and process knowledge and form, articulate, and execute on intelligible thoughts and ideas) and EQ (empathy, compassion, kindness, and patience) of humanity?

How do we achieve a zero waste world?

How do we raise the standard of living of the entire world to above anything resembling poverty?

How do we stop people from ever getting cancer (or any disease?)

How do we develop the technologies to free us from energy dependence?

How do we remove the risk of fatality from as much of daily life as possible?

If we use a format where we think through grand scale solutions to their end, then we are automatically left with a picture to simply reverse engineer into a step by step guide to solving these issues. This is my action plan for OneGen. To tap into as much knowledge and expertise as possible to form strategic road maps for moonshot achievements to be accomplished as fast as possible.

When teams begin work on a project, shared progress will be reviewed to see where opportunities for cooperation emerge. Strategic alliances will be compound the likelihood of success. Personal gain and ambition will have to be sidelined for these projects as the achievement needs to be the reward, that way prize money can instead be used to fund and accelerate the projects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeet Kune Do

Posted: June 7, 2018 in Uncategorized

As a strength athlete I am no stranger to people who appear larger than life. Stand next to Worlds Strongest Man Brian Shaw for a moment if you ever find yourself needing to be brought back down to Earth in a hurry. The man is massive and powerful in every sense of the word. Born a few decades earlier a man of his dimensions would be traveling with the circus as regular employment being anything other than a plow horse would not be logistically possible. However when I was growing up there was one person that I found time and time again as powerful and impactful as any other that had come before him. He was a mighty little game changer going by the name Bruce Lee. His seminal work, the Tao of Jeet Kune Do is an amazing masterpiece that I am pleased to take a dive into today.

First order of business is to clarify that this book is in many ways an homage to Lee more than a work directly attributed to him. It is a compilation that was compiled and edited after his death. The profundity of the work speaks to the intensity of the man but the biggest take away for me is the fact that this amount of insight and enlightenment was attained by such a young man. One could be forgiven for attributing the work to someone of a much more advanced age. I am left to wonder what impact this man could have had on society had he been among us longer than 32 short years. He was empowering, inspiring, and progressive. Far beyond being a performer he had incredible gravitas, a commanding presence, and contagious energy that made him the consummate teacher sought by elite martial artists and celebrities alike. You will be hard pressed to find a more quotable person, always focused, deliberate, and engaging. “Be like water” “Using no way as the way, and no limitation as the limitation”. That’s good shit right there!!!! The ultimate inward locus of control!! These philosophies are so inspiring that they have seeded the Bruce Lee Foundation. The foundation uses the philosophies of self-expression and empowerment to engage with the youth and underprivileged. The Foundations website says that through his philosophies and inspiration “we can impact the world by giving people permission to follow their dreams, in harmony with their community”.  How powerful is that? PERMISSION! Not from the context that permission is being granted to the individual, it is from the perspective that we are the arbiters of our empowerment, and the our own guides to enlightenment.

At a time when the self-improvement genre was still at the fringes, the Tao of Jeet Kune Do was relegated to the bookstore under how-to Karate.

Mentor is a buzzword that permeates the self-improvement world these days, and while there is no denying the power of mentorship on the path to success the value of ultimate self-expression can not be overlooked. A true teacher or mentor has failed if they simply reproduce themselves in an effort to carry on a legacy. A true legacy that will stand the test of time is one of empowering the self with confidence to be an individual. Inspiration not replication. When a teacher empowers a student to achieve a fulfillment of the self, and achieve things that no one else has ever achieved before, that is true mentorship. If one was to try to illustrate the influence Bruce Lee has had it would be quite exponential. The fact that martial arts studios are commonplace across the entire country and that the martial arts film genre is one that has become deeply embedded in American culture are both just testaments to the ripple effect this man had on our culture. He was the original MMA pioneer.

Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.

-Bruce Lee

This is the hallmark of the MMA philosophy and a powerful tactic to deploy in pursuit of self  betterment. Another observation that validates the impact Bruce Lee had culturally is that you see people crediting him with influence from sports and industries that could not be more detached from martial arts. His philosophy is inclusive and universal. It can be applied to any domain and be as impactful as it has been on the martial arts world. The term “kung fu” itself is often misappropriated to the martial arts. The true nature of the term is simply referring to a high level of mastery achieved through dedicated effort. When concepts are distilled to their underlying principles it is often the case that a certain universality emerges. The same dedicated effort and self-confidence that makes a proficient fighter also makes a funny comedian, a great chef, and a master artisan. These principles hold the same value for the martial artist as they do artists from any genre. An elite ballerina is as much a kung fu master as is an elite martial artist. But the most powerful thread connecting all of his principles are that we are all complete just as we are. Self actualization needs no additional ingredients. You are everything you need and will ever need to become your ultimate self-expression.

 

On Being Articulate

Posted: May 25, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

ar·tic·u·late
adjective
ärˈtikyələt/
  1. 1.
    (of a person or a person’s words) having or showing the ability to speak fluently and coherently.

A topic I have been giving thought to lately is the skill of being articulate.

This is one of the most individualized abilities among humans and has impact far beyond what is often considered. Someones ability to use language effectively is not easily measurable, and that makes it impossible to compare with any precision. The ability to articulate feelings can be the difference between a relationship working out or not. It can be the difference between an altercation and a peaceful resolution. It can be the difference between getting a job or not. It impacts temperament. It can be the difference between a successful life and one of struggle. In extreme situations it can be the difference between life and death.

As a writer the words I choose to use, the combinations of them, and my ability to have those words invoke their intended purpose is paramount.

An example of people who often suffer from the inability to communicate their thoughts and feelings are people on the autism spectrum. It is really easy to understand the tendency for outbursts when someone cannot make themselves understood. Imagine just wanting to ask for comfort or to express affection towards someone and not being able to. To reach for words to say where there are none. Constantly being misunderstood and the impact that has on how one is perceived and how they understand themselves.

Opportunities lie on the other side of articulation. It can affect everything from who best pitches themselves for a promotion, to the sentence someone receives for an offense they have committed. If two people are charged with the exact same crime, and are both equally remorseful for their actions and equally likely to respond well to a lenient sentence, but one of them is able to express their remorse and a desire to take responsibility for their actions, then that person is far more likely to receive a more compassionate sentence.

Being able to express yourself accurately and effectively manifests options where there otherwise would be none. How many great ideas went unfunded because the creator could not express them well enough to the gatekeepers? How many discoveries were lost because the inspiration could not be shared with peers? When someone is articulate they can be more genuine. They can be inspiring and motivating. They can exude confidence and authenticity. They are better at finding common ground with others.

Is our ability to be articulate able to be improved?  Every strategy that improves the ability for someone to communicate will see huge benefits. It is actually one of the most malleable traits that we possess, but no different than attempting to improve any skill it takes work. These efforts will have different results depending on certain things, some of which we can control, others we cannot. As far as the things we can control the most important is to read and listen. Read books beyond your comprehension level and do it with a phone or dictionary next to you. When you read words you do not understand look them up. Look at the examples provided in the dictionary as alternate ways the word may be used and compare that to the way it was used in your reading.

Kindles are amazing because any time you come across a new word you can simply tap it and there are dictionary and thesaurus capabilities built in. If you are listening to a powerful speaker and the person uses words you do not understand write them down and apply the same strategy afterwards. If this happens in conversation ask the person to define or explain the word they used. If they are wise and knowledgeable they will welcome the interaction, otherwise you will have called someone out for using words they were not articulate enough to use appropriately, and hopefully they will be more authentic in the future.

I remember hearing Stan Lee of Marvel comics fame talking about the decision to use college level vocabulary in their comics. It has been observed that children who read comic books like this see benefits in the form of conversational ability and vocabulary.

With self improvement being so popular I was surprised to find such a void of conversation around this topic. Forming habits and self-confidence are hot topics. Nutrition and exercise are commonly explored. Mindfulness and productivity have a pretty solid position in the public awareness, but not too much in regards to being articulate. Even if you are not a fan of the subject matter I would highly recommend listening to Sam Harris. Even Neil Degrasse Tyson has observed the artistry behind Harris’s conversational skill. He has a profound vocabulary and uses it with surgical precision. It is difficult to focus on how great speakers speak without focusing on the subject matter. A powerful tool to improve your articulation is to listen to HOW great speakers speak instead of what they are saying. I challenge you to read books intentionally beyond your current comprehension level. Listen to articulate speakers. Look for patterns and things that stand out. The pace and rhythm that they speak with. Look for techniques that seem to add value and texture to what they are saying by how they are saying it. Humans have a talent for mimicry. See how increasing your exposure and awareness for articulation improves your ability to communicate your thoughts and feelings.

As always any feedback and conversation is always welcome.

Here’s to your empowerment