Issue #408
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a project of Dynamic Skillset Ltd.

Hello!

Welcome to 2021, a year we all hope is going to be better than the last one, while harbouring a sneaking suspicion that it might not. Either way, I'm sending you good vibes your way. 🤗

I'm bashing out this missive from Brexit Britain, working myself up into such a freedom fervour that the sovereignty sweat is literally dripping off me. What a time to be alive, eh?

Anyway, you're tuned into Thought Shrapnel, a stream of things going in and out of the brain of Doug Belshaw. I'm easing myself back in, so this week is pretty much just a collection of links to interesting stuff.

This seems like an appropriate time to say that you're welcome to make your New Year's Resolution to keep on receiving these weekly emails, or make full use of this unsubscribe link to banish this nonsense from your inbox forever.

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You can never get rid of what is part of you, even when of you throw it away

🤖 Why the Dancing Robots Are a Really, Really Big Problem — "No, robots don’t dance: they carry out the very precise movements that their — exceedingly clever — programmers design to move in a way that humans will perceive as dancing. It is a simulacrum, a trompe l’oeil, a conjurer’s trick. And it works not because of something inherent in the machinery, but because of something inherent in ours: our ever-present capacity for finding the familiar. It looks like human dancing, except it’s an utterly meaningless act, stripped of any social, cultural, historical, or religious context, and carried out as a humblebrag show of technological might."

💭 Why Do We Dream? A New Theory on How It Protects Our Brains — "We suggest that the brain preserves the territory of the visual cortex by keeping it active at night. In our “defensive activation theory,” dream sleep exists to keep neurons in the visual cortex active, thereby combating a takeover by the neighboring senses."

A simple 2 x 2 for choices — "It might be simple, but it’s not always easy. Success doesn’t always mean money, it just means that you got what you were hoping for. And while every project fits into one of the four quadrants, there’s no right answer for any given person or any given moment.."

📅 Four-day week means 'I don't waste holidays on chores' — "The four-day working week with no reduction in pay is good for the economy, good for workers and good for the environment. It's an idea whose time has come."

💡 100 Tips For A Better Life — "It is cheap for people to talk about their values, goals, rules, and lifestyle. When people’s actions contradict their talk, pay attention!"



Quotation-as-title from Goethe. Image from top-linked post.

You should aim to be independent of any one vote, of any one fashion, of any one century

Vintage photograph of an old man building a model ship with a young boy
⚒️ That which is unique, breaks — "The more finished goods become commodities, the fewer opportunities an individual has to generate new creation. The ability to mass-produce removes the opportunity for the great many to learn to produce at all. From such a thought, a future full of consumption-only hobbies might come as no surprise."

🚔 New Orleans City Council bans facial recognition, predictive policing and other surveillance tech — "The ordinance as passed puts outright bans on four pieces of technology — facial recognition, characteristic recognition and tracking software, predictive policing and cell-site simulators. A ban on license plate readers in the original ordinance was ultimately scrapped."

🎭 The ‘Batman Effect’: How having an alter ego empowers you — "Self-distancing seems to enable people to reap these positive effects by leading them to focus on the bigger picture – it’s possible to see events as part of a broader plan rather than getting bogged down in immediate feelings. And this has led some researchers to wonder whether it could also improve elements of self-control like determination, by making sure that we keep focused on our goals even in the face of distraction."

🦇 New lessons for stealth technology — "Optical metamaterials that refract and scatter light in adaptive ways are already familiar in the living world, for example in the photonic crystals found on strongly coloured, microstructured insect cuticles or butterfly wings. Now it appears that acoustic stealth technology too was discovered first by natural selection. Neil et al. report evidence that the intricate array of scales on some moth wings acts as an acoustic metamaterial to reduce echoes from ultrasound6. This, they say, is probably an adaptive property that reduces the visibility of moths to the sonar searches of their predators, bats.

🥱 Misinformation fatigue sets in — "It turns out maybe people don’t actually care about being lied to. And little is likely to change in 2021 unless and until platforms take actual responsibility for the way people gather and organize on them — admitting that their algorithms already guide what we see, who we speak to, what we buy, and what we believe, and working with outside experts to instead curate an experience that undoes a bit of the pollution that they’ve made."

Quotation-as-title from Baltasar Gracián. Image from top-linked post.

Until next week!

Doug
Thought Shrapnel Weekly is published by Dr. Doug Belshaw of Dynamic Skillset Ltd. You can connect with Doug by replying to this email, or via LinkedIn and Mastodon.


Some say he's full of hope. Others say he's fond of soap. No-one thinks he's smoking dope.
Many thanks to Bryan Mathers of Visual Thinkery for the Thought Shrapnel logo.

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