“Whatcha thinkin’ bout?” It’s a common question, especially in the dating world. Humans have always had a habit of keeping thoughts to themselves… for the most part. There has always been that separation between what is in your head, and what you present to the world. Sometimes it’s because we’re being lazy, sometimes it’s because we want to keep a secret, and sometimes it’s because we’re crazy. Whatever the reason, it has always been a blessing and a curse to the process of communication. On one hand, it’s nice to not always show all of your cards… on the other… miscommunication of the thoughts in your head can lead to some nasty situations. Animals don’t really have that problem… but then again, animals lick their own asses and don’t have a second thought about it.
When it comes to technology, people (older generations in particular) have always struggled getting the
thoughts in their heads in to the machine. Computers aren’t exactly telepathic, and they can’t exactly relate to situations and put themselves in your shoes (figuratively, not literally. Of course they can put themselves in to your shoes literally…). Computers can’t tell if you’re happy, sad, busy, tired, etc. They can’t figure out why you keep using the incorrect spelling of the world “there”, or why you decided that “lol” was something that should be said every 3 minutes during any given conversation. They are just completely disconnected from the human experience… or at least they were…
Part 2: Instant messaging wants to destroy you.
Instant messaging is fast, simple, everywhere, and pure santorum-sucking evil. Open Facebook, did someone just send you an IM? Check your Gmail account; how about now? Do you have Skype and it’s auto-installed Firefox plug-in? What about AIM for all you pedophiles and people that still use Myspace? Even text messages are basically little IM’s. Instant messaging is very much a part of our world, fully integrated, and ready to make you look foolish.
Instant messaging de-humanizes conversation. You’ve probably heard this before but there have been a ton of studies on this. When people communicate via IM something just snaps and we are more likely to say things we normally wouldn’t. Four shots of tequila stuff, only without the broken windows and the soul crushing emptiness of seeing pictures of yourself in your tighty whities and a cowboy hat riding a rocking horse the next day. This phenomenon has a few names and I wont tell you my favorite because I promised Arachnode I wouldn’t cuss too much. I will however give you a link to Wikipedia and let your sweet detective skills put it together.
What kind of innovation do you really expect kids to unleash on the world? A new way to decorate macaroni art? Perhaps a new concept behind how the birds and the bees REALLY work? How about a way to increase the efficiency of a solar panel array by up to 50%? If you were going to choose the macaroni art, you’re dead wrong.
Explosions, guns, awesome motorcycle tricks in mid air while shooting missles… These are the first things that come to mind (for some) when the great robot war is mentioned. Hollywood has done a fantastic job of getting us super pumped about fighting machines in order to preserve humanity. There is always some sort of physical manifestation of our robotic foes, and the humans always end up winning by fighting them toe to toe. If you step back for a minute and think about it though… this is highly illogical.
If you were a fish, you’d fight in the sea. If you were a bird, you’d fight in the air. If you were a bear, you’d fight in the woods… so why would artificial intelligence ever want to fight us in the physical realm? Just so there can be explosions and carnage? Think of all of the wasted energy and resources that go in to a physical fight. Gas, rare metals which could be harnessed for energy rather than explosions, metal, etc. These are all things that machines need, so why would they want to put us in a situation where we would use it all up? Wouldn’t it be better to just talk it out? It wouldn’t it be nice to be able to skip that part too if possible?
IT’S THE BRAIN!!! IBM’s Dharmendra Modha is helping the robot apocalypse along by doing his part. He’s trying to give our cybernetic overlords the ability to learn. Oh what fun!!! One major difference that has always separated the human brain, from the microchip, was our brain’s ability to rewire itself, adapt, and learn. It’s a very basic concept, but a very complicated procedure.
No, we aren’t talking about a new east coast branch of ID Software releasing an update to the ever popular Quake franchise. There was actually an earthquake that shook the U.S. east coast on August 23, 2011. There are tons of articles out there on the web that have really awesome interviews with folks that “survived” this earthquake. Some example quotes include “I was like… what is going on”, “I guess there was an earthquake”, and “I tried to call my friend to see if they felt it, but the phones didn’t work”. If you were one of the millions affected by this earthquake in Maryland (the whole state), you should probably buy a t-shirt to show the world how amazing your life is.
There are tons of items you can choose from, but t-shirts are the most traditional medium for such events. All profits will go towards my brother’s college tuition… or a new xbox (the old one died)… which he will play while in college (that counts, right?).
If you were a reader of our previous blog site, you may be familiar with this topic already. For those of you who are not familiar with this topic, please allow me to introduce you to the Skynet Watch. Skynet, is the name of the self aware artificial intelligence that plagued human kind in the Terminator movie franchise. Don’t worry if you’ve never seen any of the Terminator movies, all I did was borrow the name for the most part. The idea is that there will come a time where machines are able to think (at some capacity anyway) all on their own. That seems fine and well at first glance. You could have machines that keep a house clean, will organize everything in your house perfectly, and keep it all spotless. There could be machines that help blind people by seeing a digital form of seeing eye dogs, and warms them about any dangers that are lurking in the darkness. There could be machines that protect us against foreign attacks, as well as domestic ones. There are tons of uses for robots that can think on their own, at least on some level or another. It’s been a topic of science fiction for decades, and now it’s starting to leak in to the non fiction section. Sounds like a good idea, right?
Communication is a very deep and complicated process. Check out amazon.com and you will find hundreds of books devoted to the subject. It’s something we do every day and more and more of us are doing it poorly. With text messages, IM’s, e-mail, rap music, and Facespace too many of us are forgetting that how we say something speaks volumes about ourselves. So what are we missing?
1. Communication happens in layers:
This is never more true then when you are speaking face to face. When I speak my body language is unconsciously adding emphasis. When I type the punctuation takes over most this role. My cadence communicates the strength of the emotion behind my words. Dramatic pauses intentional or otherwise will show the listener how much thought is behind those words. The very words I choose will show my bias or where I am coming from. It’s all a clever dance that evolution has hardwired into us through years of people who can’t spot a liar dieing for no good reason and it goes much further then that short list of examples.
2. You need to control your message and your audience:
When I say that “I hate football” that is not the only thing a person listening will hear. There are some natural assumptions that come with that sort of statement and worse those assumptions are completely different depending on your audience. Some would assume that I hate all sports, others that I hate America, people from outside the states are going to spend a few minutes trying to figure out if I mean soccer. This is a problem because none of those things are related to my point in my own mind. Suddenly I have lost control of my message and the audience is off wondering if I was picked on in high school rather then listening to my otherwise excellent points on over-commercialization. Instead I would have done better to lead into my point by mentioning that I think football is run by sellouts and if I really must, closing the argument with the useless statement about my emotions.
3. Communication has levels:
That’s right layers AND levels. You have probably said or at least heard someone say “they were talking above my head” or “that subject is beneath me”. It’s fairly easy to empathize with those statements. I think Sponge Bob Squarepants is brilliant and others think it is the stupidest show in a line up of stupid shows. That’s my level, which appears to be K-12. When putting words to your own opinion you should be speaking about something you understand, that being said it’s far too easy to forget to explain things that appear to be common knowledge and you can quickly lose your audience if you are wrong about the commonness of said knowledge.
4. Jargon is only a time saver in the right company:
An excellent example of this is acronyms. Acronyms are a form of jargon and jargon is a sin in the wrong company. Your grandmother might not know what a LOL is and she is probably not going to “google it” on her “smartphone”. When you use language that your listener is not familiar with not only do you make them feel stupid but you present them with a distraction that de-rails what you were trying to say. Now Nanny is too busy trying to figure out what a LOL looks like and if it is a carnivore or herbivore to read what you say next, by the time she is back on task she’s probably forgotten that she even said something funny.
5. Words have meanings:
Synergize is a real word, it’s not some non-sense that means “communication in real time” and yet that is how you will hear it used most of the time. Synergize means to cooperate, usually in the context of solving a problem. It’s a useful word but it has been overused to the point where it means nothing to most listeners. It gets worse then that, some words have multiple meanings and there are some things that can be said using a variety of words but only one that fits exactly. Even better, most people do not have a large vocabulary and do not know some of the words you keep in your toolbelt. If you are out to dazzle someone with bullshit this is a great tactic but if you are trying to communicate you will probably do more harm then good using awesome words like defenestration.
6. People have no attention span:
And that is why we will talk about this more later. I have probably lost a few of you already in my so far 825 word rant. For those of you who stuck around, thank you. Feel free to comment below and if you bring up a great point I will address it in the comments or in the next part where we talk about how technology is trying to turn these rules on their head, and only making us look like idiots in the process.