Edition #013 - Risk-O-micron

Indy Neogy
Indy Neogy
4 min read

The O-micron Moment

Side note: I only learned recently that the two Greek letters Omicron and Omega can be thought of in relation to the words micron and mega.

This piece by the author Steven Johnson along with the reporting of a possibly important new strain of the coronavirus (Omicron) got me thinking about all the different assessments that this pandemic has required us to engage with.

As Johnson says at the end, crucially this is about the ongoing challenge of operating in an environment where: "the underlying information is noisy. You can’t be perfect at it, by definition, but you can get better at it. And maybe that’s another potential long-term positive outcome from COVID that would be worth rooting for: that it compels us to teach risk analysis and probability more widely in our classrooms, and to talk about those crucial life skills with our kids."

I'd argue that it's not just for kids, we've all had to confront the idea of risk analysis a lot more than before and will continue to need to do so. This is most obvious from the Johnson family case - if something is a bit different about your situation, then the general advice cannot just be followed without thinking. And one thing the pandemic has revealed is how many people's situations just aren't average, one way or another.
(Continue reading, 4 min read.)

The Impossibility of Automating Ambiguity | Artificial Life | MIT Press

I have yet to figure out access to this academic paper, but the abstract is fascinating and touches on a lot I have been thinking about, especially: "Grounded in complexity science and enactive and embodied cognitive science approaches, this article emphasizes why people, embedded in social systems, are indeterminable and unpredictable."

Hula hooping is not mindless, it is bodily problem solving | Psyche Ideas
There are surprising similarities in the way mathematicians do their work and the way hoop dancers devise new tricks

Really detailed piece with links to other interesting articles on embodied intelligence. I hope to come back to this topic soon.

Interesting Events

  • Monday, 6th December, 1830 London Time (GMT) - The Future of Artificial Intelligence and How You Can Save Our World - Mo Gawdat In Conversation With Robin Ince - Machines will soon surpass human intelligence. How do we stop it destroying the human spirit? The former Chief Business Officer at Google [X] is here with a plan. (howtoAcademy, online, £16)
  • Tuesday, 7th December, 1200 GMT - In search of ‘Aha Moments’: 50 Years of transformative learning with STiP - As part of the STiP@50 event series, Professor Ray Ison employs a STiP (Systems Thinking in Practice) lens to explore the history and achievements of The Open University’s 50 year-commitment to co-designing and providing Systems education, drawing from these experiences lessons for our current circumstances and future action. (Open University, Free, Reg Req)
  • Thursday, 9th December, 1700 GMT - The Mental State of Noise: Prof Catherine Malabou, resp. Dr Benjamin Dalton - Rationality has historically been modelled on the power of calculation. Artificial intelligence, in turn, is commonly mapped onto received ideas of human intelligence. But what if we turn the question around? Instead of comparing human and artificial processing power, we may ask more specifically about intelligence’s resourcefulness in the face of noise. (KCL, Free, Reg Req)
  • Thursday, 9th December, 1830 GMT - How to Succeed (When All Hell Breaks Loose) - Learn how to handle everything (and everyone) around you when things go south with the multi-million international bestselling author of Surrounded by Idiots, Thomas Erikson. (howtoAcademy, online, £16)
  • Saturday, 11th December, 1800 GMT - The Uncertainty Mindset: Innovation Insights from the Frontiers of Food - Vaughn Tan, author of The Uncertainty Mindset: Innovation Insights from the Frontiers of Food, joins technologist Amie Pollack for a delicious discussion of innovation, uncertainty, and food. (interintellect, Online, $30)
  • Tuesday, 14th December, 1830 GMT - AI, Art and Imagination – A Dive into Creative Tech with Dhruv Ghulati - How do creativity and ideation work in a moment of absolute technology? What does your brain do when it dreams things into existence, and can machines ever replicate that? Join a discussion on AI art, NFTs and the Metaverse! (interintellect, Online, $10)
  • I've noticed that as a number of organisations move back from online to in person events, I'm not seeing as many listings as before. If you're running or even just hear about an interesting event and think it would fit in the listing here, drop me a line!
  • And of course, Edition #014 of this newsletter will be out on Thursday 16th December in the afternoon London time - feel free to share this Edition with a friend before then. ;-)
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Indy Neogy

Indy Neogy is the main author of Mind Atelier. He is a coach, consultant and thinker about better thinking using tools, spaces and principles for thought.