The hills teach a heap. The power of silence and stillness is the chief amongst them. I can say that with a ring of certainty. You see, I am just back from the hills after a break. I traded internet connectivity for some ‘whatever-for’ walks, ‘have-you-got-more’ food and vacuous stares into the green hills across the mountains. Over a few days, the clean air and clear skies emptied out what was full and filled me all over again.
The mountains gave a perspective of size. The plants, animals, rolling clouds and people taught the meaning of change and life. It’s a long but surprisingly simple story. A story that began with my original trade-in: net connectivity!
It took some time to get used to. When staring into the hills is the only purposeful accomplishment of a good day, the ‘busy’ness mind lets out howls of protest. After a couple of days, things settled down. The power of stillness and silence had me in full.
And then, surprising things began to happen. The hills seemed to swallow dilemmas that have kept me company for a while. Somewhere, in a conversation with a farmer an insight popped in about what I should do on a project that has floundered. Between the huffs and puffs of treks, the hue of life turned green, perhaps to match the setting outside.
Pico Iyer summed it up well.
“The central paradox of the machines that have made our lives so much brighter, quicker, longer and healthier is that they cannot teach us how to make the best use of them; the information revolution came without an instruction manual. All the data in the world cannot teach us how to sift through data; images don’t show us how to process images. The only way to do justice to our onscreen lives is by summoning exactly the emotional and moral clarity that can’t be found on any screen.”
The high perches offer an endless stream of peace and clarity. That offer is valid to all of us who choose to see the tyranny of connectedness beyond the mirage of benefits on offer.
We need to switch off to be able to switch ourselves on in full.
We need to slow down. Urgently.
Auto-renewal is available on insurance policies. Deliberate renewal is critical to living. May I invite you to consider? Meanwhile, for this edition of The OWL Despatch, I have five pieces for you consider.
The OWL Despatch
1. Amazon is investing $700 million to train its American workers to do more high-end tasks. I will be watching this experiment closely, as the narrative of machines and robots replacing human beings is catching on. Will digital technology merely change jobs or will it destroy them? Read on here.
2. Sample this quote.
“data collected on a youthful transgression may be given the same weigh (and remembered the same) as any other data-potentially resulting in the reinforcement of bad behaviour, or limited opportunities down the line as this data becomes more embedded into our lives”
Imagine you danced to gay abandon whilst you were in school and someone published it online. Your tempestuous youthfulness is now part of your online personality. Forever! The hard question before us: How can we teach artificial intelligence to forget? That sure is a pressing issue!
3. You are travelling in a foreign country suddenly realise that you have lost your wallet. What are the odds that you would get it back? It turns out that It depends on which country you are in and whether you had money in the wallet or not. I was surprised by some of the results this piece threw up.
4. Rene Descartes, the French philosopher said “I think. Therefore I am”. Here is an awesome piece whose title had me hooked from the word go. “Descartes was wrong: ‘a person is a person through other persons’. Lovely writing. Catch it.
5. 15 different shipping companies are coming together to aid Tradelens, a Blockchain platform from Maersk and IBM! And similar stories from the Blockchain world. It is always good to remember that it is business value and putting business issues in the front and centre that drives adoption.
That’s that for this edition. Please let me know how this one read for you. Or if you have an area or two for me to follow.
One more thing. Please consider switching off your phone and switching on the power of silence and stillness. I can tell you, it leads you to treasures you can’t quite describe.
Curated reads for this 35th edition of The OWL Despatch
- Amazon retrains its workforce
- Teaching AI to forget
- People are more honest than they think they are
- Descartes was wrong : a person is a person through other persons
- Blockchain industry adopts new ways of working
Image credits Pixabay