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Tim Cook on Computers & AI & the Humanities

Tim Cook’s entire commencement address to the MIT class of 2017 is lovely (with enough fluff), but this is the part that struck a nerve:

Technology is capable of doing great things. But it doesn’t want to do great things. It doesn’t want anything.
That part takes all of us. It takes our values and our commitment to our families and our neighbors and our communities. Our love of beauty and belief that all of our faiths are interconnected. Our decency. Our kindness.

I’m not worried about artificial intelligence giving computers the ability to think like humans.
I’m more concerned about people thinking like computers without values or compassion, without concern for consequences.
That is what we need you to help us guard against.
Because if science is a search in the darkness, then the humanities are a candle that shows us where we’ve been and the danger that lies ahead.

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Why You Need a Reading Plan

Jeremy Andenberg, on the importance of Reading Plans:

Creates room for mastery of a subject.

This is perhaps my favorite part of having a reading plan. We’ve made the case multiple times here on Art of Manliness that everyone should strive to be “T-shaped”; that is, you should have a breadth of general knowledge, but also mastery in a single topic or subject or skill. Such mastery provides satisfaction and self-confidence in spades.

So how do you achieve mastery?
One way is certainly by reading deeply into a single subject.
Whether driven by your career or your personal passions, having a reading plan is a surefire way to deepen your knowledge base.

Read more over at the Art of Manliness.
They also have a helpful list of several reading plans if you need inspiration.

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Trying to Be Perfect Is a Waste of Time

“I never allow myself to have an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do.”
— Charlie Munger

That quote opens Shane’s post on the work required to hold an opinion, which remains one of the mental models I use most often.

Which is why I had my ears and my mind open, when Shane began one of his latest posts with,

“Trying to be perfect is a waste of time.”

I’ve inherited dad’s sense of perfectionism, and I always thought that should be something I ought to aspire to, at every skill I attempted to learn.
And for someone to come and say it isn’t so makes me squirm in my head.

But like Anne Lamott writes in Bird by Bird,

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.
I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die.
The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.

Shane too, using Taleb-ian ideas of optionality and antifragility makes a wonderful case for why good enough trumps perfect.

The post ends with a swift kick in the rear, to go forth and do …

Don’t be afraid of a challenge.
Don’t be afraid of not being the best.
When you routinely put yourself in situations where you aren’t the most skilled, you learn, you grow, and eventually you adapt.
You build your repertoire of traits and talents, so when change hits you have a wide array of skills.
This flexibility can also give you the confidence to seek change.
The mammal could explore and find new opportunities, but that bird was never going to leave the trees.

Read the whole post here. Will you be as convinced as I?

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Reasons to Write #1339

Derek Sivers on journaling daily.

Almost all the thoughts I have on any subject are the result of writing in my diary and journals, then questioning myself and working through alternate ways of thinking about it, and finally returning to the subject days or months later with a clear head and updated thoughts, seeing how they’ve changed or not over time.

Also on how writing helps him do the work required, to have an opinion.

I always write down my initial thought first, but then question it afterwards with slight detachment, and consider different perspectives.

Of course, as per Sivers usual, the whole post is detailed and helpful, and shows you his process. Go, have a look!

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When Death Comes

I want this glorious verse from Mary Oliver’s poem to be my eulogy, when, you know, my death comes.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

— via Austin Kleon’s touching eulogy to Mary Oliver.

P.S. Also love her instructions for living a life.

  • Pay attention.
  • Be astonished.
  • Tell about it.

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