"Q: HOW LONG BEFORE WE CAN BUILD AN ARTIFICIAL BRAIN? A: I’ve said 2029. Both hardware and software are progressing exponentially. If logical thinking were the essence of intelligence, then computers would already be superior to us. The area where humans still have an edge is our emotional intelligence. Emotion is not some sideshow or distraction to intelligence. Being funny, being sexy, expressing love—those are the cutting edge of human intelligence."
Gonna re-orient my computing habits towards a more cloud-based system. At least where it counts, for me: Google Documents instead of Microsoft Office, Google Calendar instead of iCal (I would prefer to sync iCal with GC and update my calendars through the GC web interface, since a web browser seems to occupy the scope of my vision more often than not—which is perhaps a larger issue I am too afraid to approach head-on right now), etcetera etc. It’s difficult for me to imagine going a fully minimalist route when I still feel compelled to download and store music on my computer. But c’est la vie (“such is life”), vita progreditur (“life goes on”), and bahala na (“leave it to God”): do I really give a fuck at the end of the day?
1. Fewer choices are freeing. Asked which shirt Hyde picks in the morning, he replies, “The clean one.” How much time and mental effort do you spend choosing what shoes to wear, what movie to watch, what dish to cook? Choice is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is often overvalued, especially related to things that aren’t aligned with what’s really important in our lives–things like relationships, health and recreation.
2. If you have fewer things, make them good. As Sarah Laskow wrote in Grist, living light doesn’t mean living cheap. Hyde’s possessions are all very high quality. Paring down means choosing stuff that holds up and looks good. If you have 3 shirts, you can’t afford to have that one shirt that doesn’t fit right.
3. Sometimes you will not be prepared…and it’s okay. You likely won’t trim your possessions to Hyde-ian proportions, but that doesn’t mean you have to everything for every occasion. Americans in particular like to be prepared for the worst-case-scenario, having separate cookie cutters for Christmas and Halloween. We seldom consider how negligible the consequences are when we run out of something or are unprepared. Nor do we consider how high the consequences are for being over-prepared: creating more money, space, upkeep and mental clutter.
"I don’t like this expression ‘First World problems.’ It is false and it is condescending. Yes, Nigerians struggle with floods or infant mortality. But these same Nigerians also deal with mundane and seemingly luxurious hassles. Connectivity issues on your BlackBerry, cost of car repair, how to sync your iPad, what brand of noodles to buy: Third World problems. All the silly stuff of life doesn’t disappear just because you’re black and live in a poorer country. People in the richer nations need a more robust sense of the lives being lived in the darker nations. Here’s a First World problem: the inability to see that others are as fully complex and as keen on technology and pleasure as you are."
I have, for several years, subscribed to the theory that those who are mostly desk-bound should buy the cheapest laptop they can get by with and the most expensive desktop system they can afford. One reason is the idea that laptops — slower and more fragile — aren’t really worth a big investment. Better, say, to spend $1200 on a 12-inch iBook and $1800 on an iMac than to spend $3,000 on a big PowerBook. Get a portable that’s truly portable, and use a real desktop system the rest of the time.
As of two weeks ago, I officially unsubscribed from this theory, and I am filing this report on a new 15-inch PowerBook G4, maxed out with 2 GB of RAM and the 7200-RPM hard drive upgrade I pondered in my initial coverage the day these new machines were announced. New theory: get the best PowerBook you can and live off it.