Here is the summary of the #VL with Brian, written by @maggiepeng - read and give her some love!
# VoiceLunch leftovers still to digest
by Margareth Jabczynski
I had no expectations at all, besides having a good time at our #VoiceLunch on Tuesday this week. It almost started to bore me when Brian Roemmele began sharing his story of how he started to build his first voice assistant in the 80ties. I could not be more wrong.
This was just an invitation, a slow-paced start to what would happen just a bit (41000 bits, to be precise) later. A good start to get everyone on board and tuned in. Me for example, I had no idea who Brain Roemmele was, nor am I a keen Twitter reader as I prefer thoughts in one piece instead of snippets of them without context. Brian Roemmele said, the human OS has a bandwidth problem, we are only capable of 41 bits of consciousness per second. I don’t agree but am more than happy to see someone thinking about these things that clearly. I don’t think having 41 bits is a problem. For me, it’s totally fine. I know enough about humans to know that even if we had more capacity to process stuff we would not do anything but consume. We don’t need even an ‘intelligence amplifier’ as Brian envisioned.
I think we are intelligent enough, it’s not human dumbness that is the problem but rather how we (and tech giants) deal with it and exploit is. What we do our 41 bits per second it is not a problem of intelligence or bandwidth. Because if you enlarge the bandwidth, you will see we will only consume more. Nothing will change. Also, before even amplifying anything - how do we define intelligence? Artificial intelligence for example lacks the emotional intelligence component. Emotional intelligence is hard to measure, nothing to show off with and maybe that’s a reason it is not such an asset or skill worthwhile to develop on one’s way to become a better self?
Developers those days were nerds left without adult supervision.
Or how else can we explain the omnipresence of dehumanizing technology? First a luxury, then a commodity one can’t live without? It amazes me how Brian’s thoughts resonated with mine in some aspects, like two sinus waves sharing some peaks although coming from different emissive contexts. Brain was - as he said - a huge admirer of (the hard) sciences. What you could measure was reliable, discussable and not blurred or hard to grasp. He never stopped exploring, however, soon questioned the hard sciences’ paradigm to come to a conclusion that resonates with me: We have excluded soft sciences for decades (I think even for longer than just decades) and now it is hitting us back.
On this #VoiceLunch Brain Roemmele shed a light on different aspects of how it is hitting us back. One: data. Huge companies collect data from us and are using it against us. You might think now - come on, is this an anarchist speaking?
I recommend you to think twice. Thrice. How do you spend your time with your 41 bits? You are scrolling on some screen, picking up information snippets served you by algorithms for days, weeks, keeping you there for ages if you count it together in one lifespan because it gives you dopamine. Deliberately we all give our usage data and increasingly also our biological data (via apps to help us sleep, move, eat), in exchange for having our amygdala hacked and made us addicts by the dopamine the tech releases in us.
Giving away the control over our very human activities, social activities, coordinating (when was the last time you found a way for the first time without using google maps?), eating, moving and so on - I think it is not going to lead us into being more intelligent humans. Rather into less capable one. Is that, a Freudian might ask a sentimental sublimed regression - live proved you can’t travel back in time so at least you subconsciously take revenge in exchange for responsibility and regress back to be a baby in need for help via applications to get around, get food, get in touch? Make this a new standard?
The more human aspects of our lives tech take over, the more dehumanizing is its effect on us. I share many thoughts with Brian Roemmele. However, I am deducing different conclusions from these well-observed events. I am not sure Brian Roemmele is free from the technological-dominant narrative he is criticizing himself when he speaks about intelligence amplifiers. What would they do? What is intelligence at all? What is human life and how do we want to live it?
Will we with our bodies spend life in a silicone bathtub, plugged to the machine-like in ‘The Matrix’ in a few years? This rather reminds me of a patient in a coma than a worthwhile life…
What all of us indeed agreed upon is, that we need to have a stake in tech. We need to have that conversation. Otherwise, the big tech data giants are going to answer the above questions for us. Without us taking even consciously notice with our 41 bits. Hardly for the better of what we wish for our world, our lives, and children.