- 1 Luck Rules Everything Around Me
- 2 Brainy Computers
- 3 Simultaneous Multiple Realities
- 4 Surface Level, Layer Cake-like Weirdness
- 5 The Future of Domestication
- 6 Perpetual Technology
- 7 Learn'ed Machines
- 8 It's Never the Person, It's Always the System
- 9 Squishy Future
- 10 Just One Word...Plastics
- 11 What is Right is seldom what is Popular
- 12 Your Brain Is Real Bad At Stuff
- 13 We're Already Covered This, People
- 14 Bad (At) Business
- 15 Think Larger
- 16 Strange Geometries
- 17 Late Stage Capitalism ~= Pre-WWII Capitalism
- 18 eBooks
Luck Rules Everything Around Me
The preponderance of success and failure is systemic. A good chunk of the remainder is luck. Personal effort takes up a tiny amount but that's the part that most people focus on. "You failed because you didn't try hard enough" is demonstrably false. Yet, we beat ourselves up over it. And even worse, we ignore other people's suffering because we think that luck has nothing to do with their condition.
"Our results suggest that much of ecological management is bound to succeed or fail simply because of good or bad luck"
Finding the correlations between our own brains and the computers we've built to help our brains is like looking into a mirror. Not realizing that a mirror reflects and distorts is the first mistake. The second is assuming that the human brain is as simple as the silicon wafers that make up computers.
Now, with that said, OH MAN IT'S GONNA GET WEIRD
Sprinkling in a little AI lets us find weird complex correlations between what we think we're doing and what we're actually doing.
Let's not even get into how we can kinda sorta find ways to kinda sort have a brain-computer interface. We aren't sure how the brain brains, but we're pretty sure how computers compute, but somehow we can...just...jam things together and they work??
Simultaneous Multiple Realities
When augmented reality and molecular scale computing become widespread and stable, there's no reason to assume that everyone will experience the same reality at the same time. Why watch ads when your AR can filter them out for you? Why see hate speech when your AR can blur that person from your sight and mute them from your ears?
Why experience the homeless person's suffering?
Something to consider is the idea of curated persona projections. In a fully AR environment, you can have your meatspace self and your AR self. And depending on the AR environment you are projecting into, you can have several AR personas. Just like we have profiles for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc, etc, we would have AR personas for the GoogleAR, fBook-AR, etc, etc
And funding for these AR environments might come from the same places as current websites. Want to use the GoogleAR? You gotta submit to scraping your location, personality variations, etc. And imagine a fully branded Coca-Cola persona, one where they pay you, per second, to look and act like one of their mascots in another AR environment.
In such a situation, some people would go voluntarily 'blind', skipping the AR concept altogether, relying solely on meatspace. Some people might go 'fiend', only existing as AR concepts never turning it off, walking around in formless, completely obscuring clothing, maybe even finding ways to transmit to the 'blind' with projectors.
Surface Level, Layer Cake-like Weirdness
Metamaterials were the first wave of this sort of Thing, where we mixed and matched elemental forces into strange and terrifying amalgams that would freeze the heart of any alchemist in paroxysms of ecstasy. Also they made really pretty colors!
Then we figured out weird ways to etch common materials to make them behave in uncommon ways and found that the hassle of mixing the elemental forces could be dispensed with if we just....kinda...drew on stuff a little funny. with lasers!
Then, when all the weirdness of drawing on stuff started getting really really weird, we messed around with effectively two dimensional solids, films that were only an atom thick, films that we turned into ribbons or toroids or moebius strips. And when those strips and films were made of graphene we found out even deeper points of weirdness came from layers of those films.
And soon and/or now, we come to the cusp of an era where the surface of things, whether rough, smooth, spiky, or shiny, matters more than what makes that thing. And where how things are layered allows us to bypass the 'rules' we've been assuming were Rules and make Weird the new rule
The Future of Domestication
Domestication has radically altered some species. So radically that they couldn't survive without us. Can you even imagine how long a chihuahua would survive in the wild? Hell, the bananas you get from the store are a monoculture that requires grafting to propagate. If our species decided to stop eating bananas, the cavendish would be extinct in a generation.
pacemakers that don't need a toxic battery core would be the upside. the downside? ads that never turn off even after humanity is extinct
Getting to more efficient applications of machine learning requires we get past the hype cycle that we are currently in.
We are getting past the "OMG AI" phase and get to the "okay, okay, it's not 'artificial intelligence' AI, it's just 'machine learning' AI, but it's still cool if we can figure out where to use it"
Until we start treating AI as just really, really stupid machines that we are doing our level best to reason with we're gonna keep getting sideswiped by how horrifically bad at things it can be 
A glaring mistake in 'AI' use in the U.S is trying to toss this buzzword-heavy doodad into governance, both local and federal. Even people aren't good at this and you expect a machine, doing it waaaay faster, to be any better?
Another is the misunderstanding of statistics. Yes, you ignore outliers if you're trying to find a correlation. No, that doesn't mean your correlation is 100% accurate it just means that you tweaked your data to give you the result you wanted. The more you scrub your data, the more mistakes in your end result
A huge problem is the "well it works in theory given these specific parameters. now we just gotta make it work in practice!" fallacy. In theory, the first nuclear weapon should have caused a cascade effect that turned the planet into a new sun.
In practice? Not so much.
It's Never the Person, It's Always the System
Systems reward conformity. Success within a system is proof that you found a system that rewards you, not that you have achieved objective success
And, man oh man, that is haaard pill to swallow.
We aren't successful through our own efforts, we are bourne on historical waves of success and failure. Sure, there are outliers. But, odds are, you aren't one.
It's never what you know, it's who you know, which is a side effect of where you grew up, what schools you went to, who your parents were, etc etc.
But the other side is true. If a systemic fault causes harm, it's foolhardy to assign blame to a person
A near future where genetically engineered processes replace mechanical ones, and we grow, rather than build, new machines. A time when computer virii are not as important as actual virii. this is the natural progression of biomimicry-as-technology. from using seashells as models for more resilient ceramics to learning new ways to use bacteria 
Soon a vat of green goo in your backyard, or on your windowsill, generates all the electricity you need. As long as you remember to feed it and keep it healthy.
if these don't look like a Dahl-seuss-esque factory, i will riot
go home,Home, you're drunk.
"behold, living architecture!"
"wait, all you did was plant some trees and moss and stuff?"
"um..yeah, what were you expecting?"
"something more like this?"
the first signs of this future are already here in probiotics, but the next wave might actually work
Just One Word...Plastics
Plastics were a common part of post-WWII global development. Plastics are still the best option for some applications, but plastics + consumerism resulted in massive amounts of plastic refuse. And plastic isn't exactly going anywhere. Now, we gotta figure out what we're gonna do with plastic.
one question is more plastic or less trees?
What is Right is seldom what is Popular
People prefer reasonable to rational because rational is too harsh. But rational is empirically accurate and reasonable is subjectively pleasant. And in the long run, isn't it better to be nice than to be right?
No. No it is not.
- a different kind of math could have handled quantum weirdness [a lot better https://phys.org/news/2020-01-indeterminist-physics-world.html]
- groupthink feels good, that's why we keep doing it. it's not always in the best interests of individuals, or the species as a whole, or the planet upon which that species lives...but it *feels* good
Your Brain Is Real Bad At Stuff
No, seriously, this stupid lump of neural fatty tissue that is the driving force behind civilization? Real bad at stuff. Which means you have to accommodate this thing with systems  or illusions and generally mistrust whatever that stupid thing in your head is telling you.
as soon as we can sort out how the damn thing actually works.
100 milliseconds is the difference between your brain saying, "oh look, a thing!" and not even registering that happened. and given that you can HEAR 100 milliseconds, no rational person would think that seeing is believing.
We're Already Covered This, People
Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. And also to permanent brain damage from slamming their palms into their foreheads
intergenerational warfare is super predictable
this finding isn't surprising to immigrants or biracial people. but hey, thanks for noticing?
Bad (At) Business
Given the sheer volume of information about business, it's fascinating and galling to watch companies/researchers/people in general make the most boneheaded mistakes and decisions. Here are examples of being bad at business, bad businesses, and the occasional example of the way around this sort of tomfoolery
- the schadenfreude i feel watching companies try to blitzscale is damn near illegal
- "im just so stressed at work!" "well, maybe if you dressed sexier you wouldn't be?"
- making work 'fun' is a surefire way to make 'fun' suck
- still dragging old management ideas from the industrial age into the information age
- "One lesson is that consumers are arguably the least powerful agents in the whole retail system: they can only buy what businesses are offering"
- if you haven't solved your one bus problems, you basically invite these sorts of problems
- "trust me, this time it's different baby! I've changed!!"
- every single one of these things is the reason why i became a consultant.
- attempts to shoehorn personal preferences into a larger systemic structures are a horrific idea, but businesses just keep coming back to it
- centralized management is not resilient or flexible
- what's the point of increased productivity if you can't have more free time?
- a common sight is a group of specialists working together towards a common goal. this common sight is also uncommonly bad at producing results. and yet...it's still common.
Sometimes, you have to take a step back and reexamine the world from a larger scale. Whether that scale is time, space, or some other dimension is irrelevant.
it might not who you are. it might be where you are
i find thinking about geologic timescales relaxing. subway delays? hard day at work? all but a flicker
just one, giant, closed system
"The costs of conservation were being borne by poor people and those impacts have been slow to be revealed"
the [technically right amount of intervention (mowing) in an newer system (lawns) is not easy to implement when said system is part of a larger system (people being house proud and wanting lawns)]
just don't let the mystical, woo-woo crowd find out or we'll be knee deep in pyramids
Late Stage Capitalism ~= Pre-WWII Capitalism
oddly, modern farming demands more compassion and care than the old days. Back then, one sick chicken meant one dead chicken (and possibly a chicken dinner). Now, one sick chicken could mean hundreds of dead chickens, no chicken dinners, and losing your house.
and that point is often lost in the general discourse about how we eat and how we feed each other.
Hopefully, other industries will realize long term benefits outweigh short term benefits.
Fully cyclic economies will become the new normal. Planned obsolescence and disposable anything only worked when we didn't know/care where the things were going to end up. But, in small villages, human waste was used in leatherworks and fertilizer
Another shift will be towards consuming less and wanting less. You don't need a house, a car, 2.5 kids anymore. You need just enough to get by.
Oh and then the COVID plague hit so none of this really applies any more...exactly...well, it kinda does....but not exactly enough.
Brushfire: A simple set of rules that should let you make radical, widespread changes to your business