AI’s Awful Energy Consumption

Be mindful and intentional with technology tools…

Google and Microsoft report growing emissions as they double-down on AI : NPR:

“One query to ChatGPT uses approximately as much electricity as could light one light bulb for about 20 minutes,” he says. “So, you can imagine with millions of people using something like that every day, that adds up to a really large amount of electricity.”

What is Slop?

This is a fantastic post from Garbage Day (a newsletter I always enjoy) on the concept of “slop.” If you haven’t already, you will probably hear that term in various contexts soon (if you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably encountered “AI Slop” from weirdly generated pictures of Jesus at a poker match with dogs, etc).

The basic concept is that we’re all doing the work of content production as once mainstreamed media continues to crumble and (d)evolve as studios, businesses, influencers, and record labels struggle for relevancy. However, your 100 posts that are fully SEO friendly with the right hashtags and AI-generated thoughts to promote your new business or side hustle are just… noise.

“Slop,” if you will. Like Taylor Swift Slop when she churns out alternative versions of her songs.

Slop isn’t inherently negative, but it’s not doing much to further the discovery or memory of your brand (whether you’re marketing a business or posting images from your vacation on your Reels). 

Intentional Marketing will be a buzzword as we lurch towards election season and the Fall here in the USA if not well into 2025. Don’t post more. Post better and consume intentionally to decrease the slop effect.

More slop for the void:

The fix for all of this seems obvious and, unfortunately, impossible, at least right now. It has to come from us, the user, the viewer, the consumer, and there’s a lot of us now. We have to be the ones to demand that we all make less, aim smaller, be more deliberate about what we consume, and find new ways of funding — and distributing — what we do make.

Do What You Do Well (Unlike YouTube)

YouTube Shorts and these voiceovers are a mistake, in my opinion. YouTube does a few things very well. Long form videos. Discovery marketing. Algorithmic suggestions that draw people in to long binges of watching. 

You don’t need to chase something that you think is a market driver if it’s not a core competency.

Do what you do and do it very well and the market will reward you long-term. These short-term plays expend resources and revenues. 

YouTube Shorts adds TikTok-style artificial voiceovers – The Verge:

YouTube has announced a set of new features for YouTube Shorts, some of which are available now, like a new text-to-speech video narration that lets you add an artificial voiceover. On TikTok, those are the sometimes startlingly robotic voices that you hear a lot on videos with something to promote.

Anglo-Saxons Fought in Syria and Iraq

Anglo-Saxons may have fought in northern Syrian wars, say experts | Archaeology | The Guardian:

“These finds put the Anglo-Saxon princes and their followers centre-stage in one of the last great wars of late antiquity. It takes them out of insular England into the plains of Syria and Iraq in a world of conflict and competition between the Byzantines and the Sasanians and gave those Anglo-Saxons literally a taste for something much more global than they probably could have imagined.

It adds an international dimension to those sites. We have looked at the Anglo-Saxons in a rather insular manner.”

Rome’s Colosseum as a Garden

Beautiful thoughts here about modern architecture…

Rome’s Colosseum Was Once a Wild, Tangled Garden – The Atlantic:

Plants growing today in the Colosseum include very rare species like Asphodelus fistulosus and Sedum dasyphyllum, which scientists believe can only survive when sheltered by the arena, a sanctuary from the urban environment outside. Due to increased pollution and the rising temperature of the city, the flora inside the ruined walls are beginning to change: Plants suited to a warmer and more arid climate are beginning to proliferate at the expense of those more used to cool and damp.

Chinese Spy Cars?

Turns out it wasn’t just spy balloons…

Chinese self-driving cars have quietly traveled 1.8 million miles on U.S. roads, collecting detailed data with cameras and lasers | Fortune:

Since 2017, self-driving cars owned by Chinese companies have traversed 1.8 million miles of California alone, according to a Fortune analysis of the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles data. As part of their basic functionality, these cars capture video of their surroundings and map the state’s roads to within two centimeters of precision. Companies transfer that information from the cars to data centers, where they use it to train their self-driving systems.

Thrive AI Health from OpenAI Founder

Fascinating read from Sam Altman and Ariana Huffington here as they release Thrive AI Health, which will be something of an AI coach backed by OpenAI / ChatGPT. Combining this with Apple Intelligence is going to be interesting…

AI-Driven Behavior Change Could Transform Health Care | TIME:

Using AI in this way would also scale and democratize the life-saving benefits of improving daily habits and address growing health inequities. Those with more resources are already in on the power of behavior change, with access to trainers, chefs, and life coaches. But since chronic diseases—like diabetes and cardiovascular disease—are distributed unequally across demographics, a hyper-personalized AI health coach would help make healthy behavior changes easier and more accessible. For instance, it might recommend a healthy, inexpensive recipe that can be quickly made with few ingredients to replace a fast-food dinner.

My Beginner’s Guide to Artificial Intelligence

A client reached out and asked if I could put together a “beginner’s guide to AI” for them and their team a little while ago. I thought long and hard on the topic as I have so much excitement for the possibilities but so much trepidation about the impacts (especially to individuals in careers that will be threatened by the mass adoption of AI). Apple’s announcement this month that they are infusing iPhones with ChatGPT intelligence only drives that home. We are in a time of transition, and I want my own clients but anyone running a business or working in a sector that will be affected (which is every sector) to be prepared or at least mindful of what’s coming.

So, I put this together in a more expanded format with charts, examples, etc, but this is a good outline of the main points. I thought it would maybe help some others, and my client graciously said I could post this as a result. Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions!

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a topic that’s constantly buzzing around us. Whether you’ve heard about it in the context of ChatGPT, Apple Intelligence, Microsoft’s Copilot, or self-driving cars, AI is transforming the way we live, work, and even think. If you’re like many people, you might be on the fence about diving into this technology. You might know what ChatGPT is but aren’t quite sure if it’s something you should use. Let’s break down the benefits and costs to help you understand why AI deserves your attention.

The Benefits of Embracing AI

Efficiency and Productivity

One of the most compelling reasons to embrace AI is its ability to enhance efficiency. In our busy lives, whether managing businesses, marketing campaigns, or family time, finding ways to streamline tasks can be a game-changer. AI can help automate mundane tasks, organize your day, and even draft your emails. Imagine having a virtual assistant who never sleeps, always ready to help you.

For instance, AI-powered scheduling tools can help you manage your calendar more effectively by automatically setting up meetings and sending reminders. This means less time spent on administrative tasks and more time dedicated to what truly matters – growing your business, strategizing your marketing efforts, or spending quality time with your family.

Personalization

AI can personalize experiences in ways we’ve never seen before. For marketers, this means creating targeted campaigns that resonate on a personal level. However, AI can analyze data to understand preferences, behaviors, and patterns, allowing for a more customized approach in almost any field.

Imagine being able to offer each customer or client a unique experience that caters to their needs and interests. This personalized approach can significantly enhance engagement and loyalty. In marketing, AI can help create highly targeted content that speaks directly to the needs and interests of your audience, increasing engagement and conversion rates.

Access to Information

The vast amounts of data generated daily can be overwhelming whether you’re solo, on a team, or working in the C-Suite. AI can sift through this information and give you the insights you need. Whether you’re researching a new marketing strategy, preparing for a presentation, or just curious about a topic, AI can help you find relevant and accurate information quickly.

Think about how AI-powered search engines and research tools can simplify the process of gathering information. Instead of sifting through endless articles and papers, AI can provide the most pertinent sources, saving you time and effort. This is especially valuable in professional settings where timely and accurate information is crucial.

Creativity and Innovation

AI isn’t just about number-crunching; it’s also a tool for creativity. Tools like ChatGPT or Copilot or Gemini or Claude can help brainstorm ideas, generate creative content, and even compose poetry. It’s like having a creative partner who can help you think outside the box and explore new possibilities.

As someone who values creativity, imagine having an AI that can help you brainstorm new marketing ideas, create engaging content for your campaigns, or even assist in writing your next blog post. AI can inspire new ways of thinking and help you push the boundaries of your creativity. It’s not just for writing high school papers, but there are very tangible ways to use AI to spur new insights and not just “do the work for you.”

The Costs and Considerations

Privacy Concerns

I’m a huge privacy and security nerd. I take this very seriously with my own personal digital (and non-digital) life as well as that of my family members. One of the main concerns people have with AI is privacy. AI systems often rely on large amounts of data, some of which might be personal. It’s essential to be aware of what data you’re sharing and how it’s being used. Look for AI tools that prioritize data security and transparency if you’re using AI in any sort of corporate or work-related output. 

For instance, when using AI tools, always check their privacy policies and opt for those that offer robust data protection measures. Be mindful of the information you input into these systems and ensure that sensitive data is handled appropriately. Balancing the benefits of AI with the need to protect personal privacy is crucial.

Dependence and Skill Degradation

There’s a valid concern that relying too much on AI could lead to a degradation of our skills. Just like relying on a calculator too much can weaken basic arithmetic skills, leaning heavily on AI might impact our ability to perform specific tasks independently. It’s important to strike a balance and use AI as a tool to enhance, not replace, our capabilities. As someone who has worked in education with middle and high schoolers, I especially feel this need to train and model this balance.

Consider using AI as a complement to your existing skills rather than a crutch. For example, while AI can help draft emails or create marketing strategies, reviewing and personalizing these outputs is still important. This way, you maintain your proficiency while benefiting from AI’s efficiency. AI systems are constantly being developed and will continue to improve, but there are very real examples of businesses and even attorneys and physicians using AI output that was later proven to be false or misleading. Be wise.

Ethical Considerations

AI raises a host of ethical questions. How should AI be used? What are its implications for decision-making processes? These questions are close to my heart as someone interested in theology and ethics. It’s crucial to consider the moral dimensions of AI and ensure that its development and deployment align with our values.

Engage in discussions about AI ethics and stay informed about how AI technologies are being developed and used. Advocate for ethical AI practices that prioritize fairness, transparency, and accountability. By doing so, we can help shape a future where AI benefits everyone.

We are constantly hearing stats about the number of jobs (and incomes) that AI replace in 1, 5, or 10 years. I do believe we are in for a societal shift. I do not want people to suffer and lose their jobs or careers. However, AI is not going away. How can you or your business manage that delicate balance in the most ethical way possible?

Economic Impact

AI is reshaping industries, which can lead to job displacement. While AI creates new opportunities, it also means that some roles may become obsolete. Preparing for these changes involves continuous learning and adaptability. It’s important to equip ourselves and our teams with the skills needed in an AI-driven world.

Promote the development of skills that are complementary to AI, such as critical thinking, creativity, and emotional intelligence. Encourage yourself or your team to pursue fields that leverage AI technology, ensuring they remain competitive in the evolving job market. Emphasizing lifelong learning will help individuals adapt to the changes brought about by AI.

Embracing AI: A Balanced Approach

AI is a powerful tool with immense potential, but it also has its share of challenges. As we navigate this new landscape, it’s essential to approach AI with a balanced perspective. Embrace the benefits it offers, but remain vigilant about the costs and ethical implications.

For those still hesitant, I encourage you to experiment with AI tools like ChatGPT. Start small, see how it can assist you in your daily tasks, and gradually integrate it into your workflow. AI isn’t just a trend; it’s a transformation that’s here to stay. By understanding and leveraging AI, we can better prepare ourselves and our businesses for the future.

Explore AI Tools

Begin by exploring AI tools that can assist you in your daily activities. For example, try using ChatGPT for drafting emails, creating marketing strategies, or brainstorming ideas. Experiment with AI-powered scheduling tools to manage your calendar more efficiently.

Educate Yourself

Stay informed about AI developments and their implications by reading articles, attending webinars, and participating in discussions about AI. Understanding the technology and its potential impact will help you make informed decisions about its use. As always, reach out to me if you have any questions.

Balance AI Use with Skill Development

While leveraging AI, ensure that you continue to develop your own skills. Use AI as a supplement rather than a replacement. For example, review and personalize AI-generated content to maintain your proficiency. Find online webinars that are geared towards AI trainings or demos that you can attend or review. There’s plenty of videos on YouTube, but be wise and discerning as your attention is more valuable than quality content on many of those channels. 

Advocate for Ethical AI

Engage in conversations about AI ethics and advocate for practices that prioritize fairness, transparency, and accountability. Stay informed about how AI technologies are being developed and used, and support initiatives that align with your values. Whatever your industry or profession, there’s room (and economic incentive) for conversations about ethics in the realm of AI.

Prepare for the (YOUR) Future

Encourage yourself or your team to develop skills that complement AI technology. Promote critical thinking, creativity, and emotional intelligence. Emphasize the importance of lifelong learning to adapt to the evolving job market. Critical thinkers will be the key decision makers in 2034 100x more than they are today in 2024.

Final Thoughts

Artificial Intelligence is a transformative force that’s reshaping our world in profound ways. By understanding and embracing AI, we can unlock new levels of efficiency, personalization, creativity, and innovation. 

However, navigating this landscape with a balanced perspective is crucial, considering the costs and ethical implications. Be wise. Be kind. Be efficient. The future feels uncertain and this is technology that will literally transform humanity more than the internet, more than electromagnetism, more than automobiles… we are entering a new age in every facet of our lives both personally and professionally. I don’t want to scare you, but I do want you and your team to be prepared.

For those still on the fence, I encourage you to take the plunge and explore AI’s potential. Start small, experiment with different tools, and see how they can enhance your daily activities. AI isn’t just a passing trend; it’s a revolution that’s here to stay. By leveraging AI wisely, we can better prepare ourselves and our businesses for the future.

And as always… stay curious!

Book Review: John Longhurst’s Can Robots Love God and Be Saved?

As someone with a rich background in the cutting-edge side of marketing and technology (and education) and someone often referred to as a futurist but is fascinated with ethical and theological impacts and contexts, I found John Longhurst’s “Can Robots Love God and Be Saved? (CMU Press 2024) to be a fascinating exploration of the convergence between cutting-edge technology, ethical considerations, and theological inquiry. This book speaks directly to my passions and professional experiences, offering a unique perspective on the future of faith in a rapidly evolving world where concepts such as artificial intelligence (and AGI) must be considered through both technological and theological lenses. 

A seasoned religion reporter in Canada, John Longhurst tackles various topics that bridge faith and modern societal challenges. The book is structured into sections that address different aspects of faith in contemporary life, including mental health, societal obligations, and the intriguing possibilities of artificial intelligence within religious contexts. Those are constructed out of interviews and perspectives from Longhurt’s interviews with a wide variety of cast and characters.

Longhurst discusses the ongoing challenges many face with mental illness and the role faith communities play in providing support. This aligns with my work in consulting and education, emphasizing the need for understanding and empathy in addressing situations such as mental health issues, whether in the classroom or the broader community. He also delves into the discussion on Christians’ duty to pay taxes and support societal welfare, raising essential questions about the practical application of faith from various personas and perspectives. I found this particularly relevant when contemplating the intersection of personal beliefs and civic responsibility, echoing ethical marketing practices and corporate social responsibility principles.

Exploring the deep bonds between humans and their pets, Longhurst touches on the theological implications of animals in heaven. This can be a fascinating topic in environmental science discussions, highlighting the interconnectedness of all life forms and reflecting on how technology (like AI in pets) might change our relationships with animals. The book also delves into ethical concerns about government surveillance from a religious standpoint, providing an excellent case study for understanding the balance between security and privacy rights—a crucial consideration in both marketing and technology sectors where data privacy is paramount.

One of the most thought-provoking sections of the book delves into AI’s potential role in religious practices. Longhurst’s exploration of whether robots can participate in spiritual activities and even achieve salvation is a direct intersection of my interests in technology and ethics. It raises profound questions about the future of faith, challenging traditional theological boundaries and offering a glimpse into future innovations in religious practice.

Longhurst also examines how religious communities can address the loneliness epidemic, which I found particularly engaging. The sense of belonging and support provided by faith groups is mirrored in the need for community in education and the workplace. Technology, mainly social media and AI, can play a role in mitigating loneliness, but it also highlights the need for genuine human connections. That’s also one of my motivators for exploring when setting up a marketing strategy: How does this product/service/technology help establish more genuine human connectivity?

Additionally, the book ponders the existence of extraterrestrial life and its implications for religious beliefs. This speculative yet fascinating topic can engage students in critical thinking about humanity’s place in the universe, much like futuristic marketing strategies encourage us to envision new possibilities and innovations. This is a hot topic, with other books such as American Cosmos making many “must read” lists this year, along with general interest in extraterrestrial / non-human intelligence / Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP) / Non-Human Intelligence (NHI) very much in cultural conversations these days.

Longhurst’s exploration of AI and its potential spiritual implications is particularly compelling from a marketing and technology perspective. As someone who thrives on being at the cutting edge, this book fuels my imagination about the future intersections of technology and spirituality. The ethical questions raised about AI’s role in religious practices are reminiscent of the debates we have in marketing about the ethical use of AI and data analytics.

The work is a thought-provoking collection that challenges readers to consider the evolving role of faith amidst technological advancements. Longhurst’s ability to tackle complex and often controversial topics with nuance and empathy makes this book a valuable resource for educators, faith leaders, technologists, and marketers alike. It provides a rich tapestry of discussions that can be seamlessly integrated into lessons on environmental science, ethics, technology, and even literature in a succinct and “quick-read” fashion.

Can Robots Love God and Be Saved?” is a compelling exploration of how faith intersects with some of the most pressing issues of our time. It is a fascinating read for anyone interested in understanding the future of spirituality in a world increasingly shaped by technology based on first-hand considerations rather than a purely academic or “one-sided” perspective. For those of us on the cutting edge, whether in marketing, technology, or education, this book offers a profound and thought-provoking look at the possibilities and challenges ahead.

Good read!

What Should You Blog About?

Obviously, I don’t care about niche blogging and I advise my clients to do likewise. Just write. That’s all. Interest will find you. I do marketing, but you wouldn’t know it if you didn’t know it.

Be interesting. That’s where the real success lies.

Life Under Billionaires Systems and Blogging – 3 Threads – Curtis McHale:

While many people say that you need to stick with a niche to grow your audience, I wonder if that killed blogging. I’m in fact working on a longer piece on that topic specifically. When everyone was trying to be the next big blog so that they could just become a blogger going niche may have been the best advice for a business. I’m not sure it was ever the best advice for the writer though.

Should You Bother Recycling?

This previous school year, my students in Environmental Science led our school’s recycling initiative. They absolutely loved it. From making catchy morning announcements each Tuesday to designing posters and then the thrill of being out of the class and visiting each classroom from Pre-K’s to other 12th-grade classes was a blast for them (and me). We’d get questions such as “what’s the point?” every so often that I hear reflected and diffracted from social media and our general culture. 

However, the experience led to great conversations in class about sustainability, the value of our choices, and how we use materials.

 Yes, recycling is “broken” in many ways, as are numerous systems in our society in 2024. However, I firmly believe that by taking the right actions, we can contribute in small but significant ways at our individual levels to effect positive change. The success of our recycling initiative is a testament to this belief, and it should inspire us all to continue our efforts toward a better, more sustainable future.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot..” and all that. From choosing to be a teacher to choosing to pick up that piece of trash in the store parking lot to choosing to be intentional about how we recycle… those choices add up.

Recycling Is Broken. Should I Even Bother? – The New York Times (gift article):

So, is it worth the effort?

In theory, every item you recycle can keep resources in the ground, avoid greenhouse gases and help keep the environment healthy. And that’s all good.

“The value is in displacing virgin materials,” said Reid Lifset, a research scholar at Yale’s School of the Environment.

But here’s the critical part: Don’t wish-cycle.

Follow the instructions provided by your local hauler. If you throw in stuff they don’t want, the effort needed to weed it out makes it less likely that anything will get recycled at all.

DIY Lego Millennium Falcon

My 8-year-old son accomplished Luke’s X Wing in a similar fashion last week. I don’t think he understands how proud I am of him for taking the initiative to do that on his own, but I think we found our next summer project… would lead to great conversations about sustainability as well!

Colorful DIY Lego Millennium Falcon:

Using the official instructions and bricks from their own collection, a father & son team built a colorful DIY version of Lego’s massive Millennium Falcon (7541 pieces, $830 MSRP, kitty for scale).

In Physics, Minor Errors Can Cause Huge Issues

Fascinating!

Retired engineer discovers 55-year-old bug in Lunar Lander computer game code | Ars Technica:

As mentioned in the quote above, the root of the problem was a simple computational oversight—a missing division by two in the formula used to calculate the lander’s trajectory. This seemingly minor error had big consequences, causing the simulation to underestimate the time until the lander reached its lowest trajectory point and miscalculate the landing.

AI Video Generators

OpenAI’s Sora is impressive but the amount of text-to-video AI generators we’re seeing released (especially from China) points to a very real moment that we all need to pause and reflect upon. The coming year (I would’ve said the coming 2-3 years back in March) is going to be fascinating, haunting, and challenging all at once…

Introducing Gen-3 Alpha: A New Frontier for Video Generation:

Gen-3 Alpha is the first of an upcoming series of models trained by Runway on a new infrastructure built for large-scale multimodal training. It is a major improvement in fidelity, consistency, and motion over Gen-2, and a step towards building General World Models.

More from Runway’s X account here.

“If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.”

  • Rachel Carson

Social Media Platforms Need a Health Warning

Huge and so important for parents to understand…

Opinion | Surgeon General: Social Media Platforms Need a Health Warning – The New York Times:

The mental health crisis among young people is an emergency — and social media has emerged as an important contributor. Adolescents who spend more than three hours a day on social media face double the risk of anxiety and depression symptoms, and the average daily use in this age group, as of the summer of 2023, was 4.8 hours. Additionally, nearly half of adolescents say social media makes them feel worse about their bodies.

Trillion Dollar Companies

We used to not have $3T companies – Sherwood News:

In reading this nice piece my Sherwood colleagues did spotlighting the lopsided contributions of mega-tech companies to this year’s market rally, it struck me that we’ve never had three, separate three-trillion-dollar companies before.

In fact, until 2018, there were precisely zero companies with valuations that large.

It’s hard to get one’s mind around the what it even means to have a trillion-dollar capitalization, much less a three-trillion dollar market price tag. At some point the numbers become a kind of abstraction.

Discernment and the Value of Printed Church Bulletins

Wonderful piece here by Anne Helen Peterson highlighting our word for the day (I also recommend subscribing to her always astute Culture Study newsletter here):

DISCERNMENT

I won’t spoil the entire piece for you (it’s worth your time), but here’s the kernel regarding discernment… 

The Invite Was Already in My Mailbox:

A printed and mailed newsletter isn’t the right solution for every community, just like a Marco Polo group isn’t right for every friend group and a phone call isn’t right for every work relationship. But now that we, as a civilization, have figured out all these ways to access everyone and everything all the time, the hardest work is no longer in the delivery. It’s in the discernment.

Those of us who have sat through many long stanzas of Just As I Am at the end of our Sunday Service at the local Baptist church as young people, dreaming of the meal being cooked across the street at the Fellowship Hall, know the value of a printed church bulletin. I think a good deal of my love of design and printed aesthetics comes from those old pieces of paper, even today. 

I still have the church bulletin from the 1994 Youth Sunday at Little Bethel Baptist Church in Mullins, SC, when I preached my first sermon (it was on Kurt Cobain and why young people feel disillusioned with the powers that be…). I still have the bulletin from the 2000 Wofford College Baccalaureate Service when I gave the Pastoral Prayer. I have bulletins from most of the sermons I gave while “on the circuit” throughout North Carolina as a seminary student in the ‘00s. I have many important bulletins from Merianna’s career and calling as a Pastor, from her first sermon to her ordination service to the blessings of our children and friends’ children, etc. I have bulletins and programs from my children’s and students’ plays, musicals, and dance recitals. I have my old love letters from 7th-9th grade in the original box they were stored during my youth.

Discernment is one of those intangibles that our modern cultures seem to overlook in favor of the instant gratification of scrolling, likes, clout, and followers count. Yet, as I reflect on these printed souvenirs from my own journey, I can’t help but feel that strange tingling of wisdom that comes with age and the accumulation of experiences at our roots.

I’ll never be an oak tree in this life. Still, this accumulated humus, topsoil, and sometimes painful rain of memories give me a glimpse into what it must be like to be a Mother Tree in the forest, seeing life come and go and then come again over the many long years and human quantified time of centuries while trying to discern what’s best for the forest.

So I hope for a little discernment for you today in your walk along The Way and wherever life might take you. Collect some scraps of paper to help you remember, and keep a good notebook to help you look back in order to look forward better with a little discernment.

Or, as the late great John Prine gave us (via Steve Goodman):

Broken hearts and dirty windows

Make life difficult to see

That’s why last night and this morning

Always look the same to me

And I hate reading old love letters

For they always bring me tears

I can’t forgive the way they robbed me

Of my sweetheart’s souvenirs

Memories, they can’t be boughten

They can’t be won at carnivals for free

Well, it took me years to get those souvenirs

And I don’t know how they slipped away from me

Accelerationism: What Are We Doing to Ourselves?

Here’s your word for today as Apple’s WWDC looks to include an announcement of a major partnership with OpenAI (the folks behind ChatGPT) to make Siri much closer to an artificial intelligence (or “Apple Intelligence” as the marketing goes) assistant.

Accelerationism.

It’s a term that’s been used in the tech world for years, but the mindset (mind virus?) has really reached new levels in the post-ChatGPT 4 era that we now live in before what feels like an imminent release of something even more powerful in the coming months or years.

Here’s an article from 2017 about the term accelerationism and accelerationists: 

Accelerationism: how a fringe philosophy predicted the future we live in – The Guardian: 

Accelerationists argue that technology, particularly computer technology, and capitalism, particularly the most aggressive, global variety, should be massively sped up and intensified – either because this is the best way forward for humanity, or because there is no alternative. Accelerationists favour automation. They favour the further merging of the digital and the human. They often favour the deregulation of business, and drastically scaled-back government. They believe that people should stop deluding themselves that economic and technological progress can be controlled. They often believe that social and political upheaval has a value in itself.

With my mind heavy on what the Apple / OpenAI partnership might look like before WWDC starts in just a few minutes (it feels like this could be an important moment for historical events), Ted Gioia made this thought-provoking post on the realization that we are doing to ourselves what Dr. Calhoun did to his poor mice (unknowingly) in the 1960’s famous Universe 25 experiment.

It’s worth your time to read this and ponder our own current situation.

Is Silicon Valley Building Universe 25? – by Ted Gioia:

Even today, Dr. Calhoun’s bold experiment—known as Universe 25—demands our attention. In fact, we need to study Universe 25 far more carefully today, because zealous tech accelerationists—that’s now a word, by the way—aim to create something comparable for human beings.What would you do if AI took care of all your needs?

After being in the classroom for the last three years of “post-Covid” education and seeing how many young people are absolutely struggling with mental health (and how little schools of any sort, from public to private such as the ones where I taught, are doing to help them), it’s shocking that we’ll send stocks soaring on big tech news today that will make our swipes and screen time increase and lead us further down the primrose path of a future of disconnected violence and mental health disaster.

Io’s Volcanoes

Io looks a bit like a pale pizza, covered in weird splotches that turn put to be volcanoes, surrounded by the black of space.

It’s fascinating to me that we can peer up through our thick and whiriling sea of gasses above us that we call our atmosphere and peer into the far reaches of our solar system to capture images of Jupiter’s moons and their surface activity here from the surface of our own planet. 

Thanks to the amazing Phil Plait for the inspiration to look up today!

An amazing image of Io, Jupiter’s tortured hell-moon:

Yowza! All those blotches on it are volcanoes, many of which are active (Io is relentlessly squeezed by Jupiter’s immense tidal force, which create internal friction which melts the moon’s interior and cracks the outer layers, allowing that material to reach the surface). In fact the paper notes that the observations show some changes on the surface. The volcano Pele is the oddly shaped dark blob just below and to the right of center, surrounded by a red ring of erupted material. There are two volcanoes just to the right of it; the left one is Pillan Patera, and the scientists note that the red ring looks overlaid by newer lighter material right where Pillan sits. That’s likely from a powerful eruption that occurred in 2021.

New iPhones Get 5 Year Support

Now add in right-to-repair principles and more ethical mineral procurement (for batteries etc compared to the current terrible conditions and practices) and I’ll be happy!

Apple will update iPhones for at least 5 years in rare public commitment | Ars Technica:

Apple has taken a rare step and publicly committed to a software support timeline for one of its products, as pointed out by MacRumors. A public regulatory filing for the iPhone 15 Pro (PDF) confirms that Apple will support the device with new software updates for at least five years from its “first supply date” of September 22, 2023, which would guarantee support until at least 2028.

Moving On From Wilson Hall

This week marks the end of a significant chapter in my life as our family says goodbye to Wilson Hall, where I have had the privilege of teaching AP Physics, Environmental Science, and Life Science and coaching golf (and Ben completed 2nd Grade, Emmy completed PK, and Lily was basically born this past school year). It’s hard to encapsulate the depth of my experience in a single post, but as I reflect on my time here, I am filled with gratitude and a sense of accomplishment.

From the early mornings prepping experiments to the late afternoons spent discussing complex theories before heading to the golf course, every moment has been a testament to the power of education and the joy of learning.

One of the highlights of my time here has been the field trips, like the recent one to Charleston, SC. Watching my students engage with the USS Yorktown, explore Fort Sumter, and marvel at the beauty of Magnolia Plantation reminded me why I chose this profession. These experiences extend learning beyond the classroom and foster a deeper connection to the world around us.

To my students: You have been the heart of my experience at Wilson Hall. Your curiosity, resilience, and eagerness to learn have been a constant source of inspiration. Keep questioning, exploring, and pushing the boundaries of your knowledge. The world needs your bright minds and passionate hearts!

As I move on, I am thrilled about the future and the new challenges that await me. I am particularly excited about my latest venture, StudiesLab, where I aim to create an innovative learning environment for gifted young people.

I wrote this 11 years ago when I left Carolina Day in Asheville, and it seems like a good passage to include here as well:

My views and philosophy on education necessitate that I follow a different path. I’m not exactly sure what that looks like (“the woods are lovely dark and deep”). Yet I know that drive will take me and my career down a road that is still covered in snow because I have miles to go before I sleep (beg pardon of Robert Frost there).

So what’s next? I have a couple of interviews at exciting schools but I also have the nagging persistence of StudiesLab.

StudiesLab is a business plan and educational model I’ve had written for years in my head (and on paper) of decentralized, cooperative and authentic education based not on 19th century content delivery for Victorian factory workers but on current research aimed at producing world changers. A place for round pegs in a world of square holes. A prayer for hope and humility and learning.

Or something like that.

Anxious Generation Study

Ted’s entire newsletter is a worthy read here, but this part about new research indicating that the current genertion of young people growing up in a phone-based culture (globally) is doing real harm and damage. It makes me think back to the tobacco industry trying to pretend that cigarettes don’t hurt people or the petroleum companies hiding the neurological effects of lead-infused gasoline and so on…

Crisis in the Culture: An Update – by Ted Gioia:

Haidt declared victory on social media: “There are now multiple studies showing that a heavily phone-based childhood changes the way the adolescent brain wires up, in many ways including cognitive control and reward valuation.”

We still need more research. But we can already see that we’re dealing with actual physiological decline, not just pundits’ opinions.

At this point, the debate isn’t over whether this is happening. Instead we now need to gauge the extent of the damage, and find ways of protecting people, especially kids.

Seafloor Sediment Superhighway

Not that bioturbation was on your “To Think About” list for today… but you should think about bioturbation and its role in the larger biosphere. Fascinating stuff!

Mapping the seafloor sediment superhighway | YaleNews:

“Our analysis suggests that the present global network of marine protected areas does not sufficiently protect important seafloor processes like bioturbation, indicating that protection measures need to be better catered to promote ecosystem health,” Tarhan said.

Clear Communication of Worth

Petersen here defies what many of us who have spent our lives in academia or adjacent to it in some way feel… the institutional impact of certain places on our careers, our self-judgements, and eventually our self-worth can be crucibles that define our lives for years. Seeing past that is indeed difficult work, especially when we want to confer respect for ourselves and our future students.

Worthy read here whether you’re a teacher, preacher, parent, or trying to figure things out at age 45 like me…

Ten Years Out of Academia – by Anne Helen Petersen:

When it comes to these students, the best gift we can give them — whether they are our children, our advisees, our peers, our employees, or just ourselves — is clear communication of worth. It’s spaces to fail with security and create and build community outside of resume-building. It’s ongoing assurance of their value: not because of their grades, or their ability to “work hard,” but simply because they are. It’s respect, which looks a lot different than surveillance. Creating these environments requires a lot of work, most of it invisible. It’s arduous in part because it requires refusing so many legible norms of “good” parenting or mentorship. But its eventual value is beyond measure.