Edition 1: Humans will always do more than survive
The journey of growth, GPT-3 goodness, and why you should stop using the word 'interesting'.
I have a few things to get you thinking, here’s a quick glance at the content:
→ Introduction: Humans will always do more than survive
→ The uncomfortably natural journey of growth
→ Exploring ideas with GPT-3
→ Why you should stop using the word 'interesting'
→ Speaking of Futureland
→ From the archive
→ Inspiration 🔗
→ Memes 🐸
Humans will always do more than survive
Though our lives are different, the time period in which we live, the technological age, is one of those landmark periods that will become a part of the history of humankind. Each of us might only live through a few of these breakthrough moments, but we all share the journey toward discovery and meaning.
The future is to be full of technological advances we can only dream of today. We’re to colonize other planets and build robots that act like people, as well as create virtual realities and harvest unlimited energy. As far as I know, I’m not going to live long enough to see what life is like on a planet other than Earth, or maybe I will, it all depends on whether or not we discover anything in space—and how soon we get there—but I’d never say thinking about these things or trying to achieve any of it is a waste of our time.
The inner spirit that drives us might be a mystery to even to us, but it’s the very definition of what makes us human. The sun might someday explode and kill us all, but until then, we build things, discover new places, create and communicate—we put on costumes and sing, dance and play. We do more than just survive, we discover what life has to offer along the way.
Looking at life from a distance, it's hard not to smile.
The uncomfortably natural journey of growth
You chose growth because you want to expand beyond your current capabilities. It’s easy to settle for what you already have, but you’re forcing yourself to grow whether you like it or not.
If you're on this journey, it's because you want more than what you have now. That's why you have all these questions, and why you're forcing yourself to grow. It doesn't have to be comfortable - but that's okay because you've already decided that more is worth it.
When you're trying to grow, you have to try a bunch of different things. It's like a pendulum—you swing from what you are now to what you want to be.
At first, everything feels uncomfortable because it’s not natural yet—you’re still not used to operating that way. You have to think about it actively and you keep swinging back and forth. But don’t worry, that feeling goes away once you get used to it. And by the time you do, the pendulum will naturally settle in the middle and it’ll be much easier for you to pull from both sides of who you are—the current you and the past you. Just give it time and appreciate the progress you make along the way.
We force ourselves to feel disordered so we can learn that there are better ways of living. There may be an inherent chaos to this process, but if you look closely enough, you can see that it’s also remarkably beautiful and worth preserving.
Exploring ideas with GPT-3
While it's not perfect, I've been struck by the connections GPT-3 draws between words and ideas in almost every domain. It’s a new way to have a conversation of sorts with a computer, and get a peek into how an AI understands patterns in the world.
When I asked GPT-3 (Q&A preset) to explain ‘unorthodoxed design’ here’re some of its responses:
Design is fundamentally about creating ideas that innovate in the spirit of wild dreams.
It's usually smarter to start with the obvious idea and then work your way around to something new and uncommon.
I ran the top half of my essay, Humans will always do more than survive, through GPT-3 and tried to get it to write me an alternate conclusion; here’s what I got.
🤖: We have a tendency to overcomplicate things, but the truth is that dance, music, art and theater are all ways for us to escape from reality, and enjoy ourselves in the process. I hope that people never become so advanced or obsessed with their advancements that they forget why they got here in the first place...so we can all go out and dance until the sun comes up.
One other paragraph in this newsletter (outside this section) was written by GPT-3, can you guess which?
Why you should stop using the word 'interesting'
It's a diplomatic word, used when there's no other word available. A substitute for thinking. It means nothing. Because the word 'interesting' doesn't say anything about what's interesting. It's the verbal equivalent to a shoulder shrug, and it usually means either that a speaker doesn't have anything substantive to say, or that they just aren't saying anything at all. Why are you 'interested' in something? Does it mean that you want to know more? Or does it mean that you already know what's going on, but you think it might be fun to look at anyway?
In place of the word ‘interesting’, say why you think it is interesting instead.
Speaking of Futureland
I want to share the various tools, mental models and ideas I come across that are valuable in some way. Sometimes these could get a little nerdy, but I mean well.
Futureland has been one of the most delightful pieces of software & community combinations I’ve come across this year. It's quickly become one of my favourite apps. Try for yourself at futureland.tv.
→ Look to this journal to learn more: vin/Welcome
From the archive
An excerpt from Polymath Letters - 05/07/2020
Even when the human is about to die, his illusions, mind, hopes, and opinions don't die.
One patient was afraid of the pain to come, and one patient was happy remembering his good old times -- both are entangled in the games of the mind. Even in the last moments of our life, the mind doesn't let us just live; it keeps us busy in its games.
The past and the future, both are not real; they exist only inside your head. The only moment that truly exists is the one you are living right now. In remembering the past and imagining the future, the present moment passes by.
Reading: Good to Great – A management book on transitioning from good to great companies. 1/ Finding your Hedgehog concept and why great companies have one 2/ Put the best people on the biggest opportunities, not the biggest problems. 3/ Confront brutal facts head-on.
→ How Airlines Quietly Became Banks: Each airline runs its own loyalty program as a separate company, and these programs consistently bring in billions more than the airlines themselves.
⭐️ The Art of Code, a talk by Dylan Beattie: There's the code that makes our banks and hospitals, as well as the code we use to browse the web and create spreadsheets. And then there's code that just exists because somebody wanted to write it. Maybe it solves a problem. Or maybe it doesn't do anything at all, some software comes into being just because somebody wanted to write it and make their friends smile, laugh, or dance.
Format: [title]: [my summary / why it’s interesting]
Finding the best format for this newsletter is going to take some experimenting. Let me know what you think by replying to this email, I’m always open to feedback or to start a conversation about anything I’ve covered.
As always, I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for reading ✌️
– Udara (@devUdara)