Mayer Spivack (1936 - 2011) is @MayerSpivack on Twitter. He was a consultant and advisor on organizational behavior, innovation, and learning, based near Boston, Massachusetts. He was also an artist working in a variety of media. All writing and artworks presented here are the original work and are the copyrighted property of Mayer Spivack. Nothing on this weblog is aggregated from other sources. Reasonable use involving copying with attribution, and limited sharing not for profit, are allowed. Your comments are invited. This blog is now maintained by his son, Nova Spivack. We look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your interest.
We stand at the edge of time, onlookers and participants in a swirling cosmos that we have neither understood or imagined. It is our illusion that we look ahead at tomorrow or next year. This moment is our event horizon. We cannot see beyond it. We cannot anticipate if our passage in this solar system will either continue or end. We do not know if what we view is a beginning or an ending. Because all moments mark the end of now, all moments are finite singular end points. Restricted to such a foreshortened view, what business do we have causing destruction? All we can achieve in this mode is to restrict and narrow the course of the future, essentially contributing only to entropy, not to life.
After the ‘last mile’ is completed, when the last high bandwidth cable has been connected, and computers are predictably faster than they are, information will still have to travel the last few inches from the screen and be formed into meaning and memory within the mind. These inches are your own nerve fiber, not copper or optical fiber, and they place the ultimate limits upon our efforts to push or pull information from providers to consumers. Outwitting our own brains will be the next big thing. In order to make these last inches more receptive to what the information network provides to their computer screens, the network must pre-digest the information it serves to users. The most powerful digestive juices we can employ come by way of Twine via Radar Networks Inc.. Twine, like the human brain, does a lot of it's work associatively. It is the first really syncretic system to be developed for computation. Using Twine, my computer finds something for me, something important that I did not know and was not seeking. It is a bit of a shock. This is new territory. My computer suddenly seems smart.
While Moore’s Law optimizes the possibilities for many aspects of computation, the pace of nerve fiber information transmission will ever remain constant. Eventually, (a long time from now) a computer may demonstrate the processing and intelligence equivalent of brain-power. But we will still always have to read, organize and consider the sentences as we read them.
Then follows the complex brain-work of deriving and ascribing context and meaning to what we have read. This will always happen at the nice human speed of brain and nerve. There is human pleasure in this process and pace, like taking a walk, or a swim, we live within and enjoy our human scale speed limits. Someday Moore’s Law will become unimportant to most hands-on uses of computers because our brains will be so much slower (and more expensive).
The problem of bird flu virus H5N1 is brewing, quite literally, in a biological soup in Asia and now on the European continent. It is a time-bomb. We will all be fortunate if it ticks for a few more years before detonating everywhere at the same time (within a week). Isolationist plans are worthless. Post-crisis-planning, as in Katrina, is worse than useless, it is inexcusable. Incompetence and ignorance of science an public health techniques round out a lethal combination for probably many millions worldwide. None of us has any familiarity with calamities of this sort. The death rate from infections of this flu epidemics in humans is around 50%, some predict worse outcome. Those who are not killed would be so ill as to be unable to care for each other. Downstream and later, the effects of this great human trauma would be felt for a century. It horrifies me to personalize this, but should the pandemic occur, about half of us, family, freinds, and strangers might die, at home, together.
“The crisis you plan for is not the crisis you get. We learned that even the most basic of assumptions can be violated. In a crisis, failure of phones lines should be expected, but not even cell phones worked consistently on 9/11. Transportation modes can and did cease. We may be unable to count on the public safety agencies that otherwise are reliable day and night,…”
“We learned that even the most basic of assumptions can be violated. In a crisis, failure of phones lines should be expected, but not even cell phones worked consistently on 9/11. Transportation modes can and did cease. We may be unable to count on the public safety agencies that otherwise are reliable day and night… the crisis you plan for is not the crisis you get.” — Marilyn McMillan
“From paper, pens and tape to mutual aid agreements, and sophisticated communications and data back-up, the planning was key to dealing with whatever crisis unfolded.” — John Curry, Executive Vice President, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The above quotes are taken From a report titled:
The Boston Consortium for Higher Education
150 Great Plain Ave
Available online: http://220.127.116.11/search?q=cache:bj250eW9FLAJ:web.mit.edu/community/resources/learning_history.pdf+social+unrest+disaster+plan&hl=en&ie=UTF-8
These cautions are truly warnings. We can learn from the experiences of populations and responders under severest stress. In New Orleans (and the Asian Tsunami, the recent floods and earthquakes) almost nothing worked—except for simple things improvised at the local level. For the most part nearby neighbors tried to help each other sharing what they could improvise.
I’m sure you have heard folks quip that “everybody complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it”. Well, that folkstory, like so many comforting old crackerbarrel ‘wisdoms’ is cold comfort these days. It will be hot, rainy, mudsliding, flooding, desertified, and dust stormy discomfort from now on into the future. The truth is that while we have been helplessly complaining about the weather, we have all been actively doing something to it. We have ruined it. And we have ruined the climate at the large physical scale and long time-scale along with it. Time for the global-warming deniers to get off the crackerbarrel. We have less than ten years to reverse the damage we are doing.
The Alex Foundation- Home page Irene Pepperberg studies cognitive process, teaching and learning in birds. She is problably the most recognized researcher on avian cognition in the world. Alex, her now famous long-time research subject and 'collaborator' recently died at half his life expectancy. Now Wart and Griffin are her collaborators. They are saying and doing things we used to believe that only small children, great apes, and dolphins could do. Her brilliant work deserves better funding.
Tai Chi Chen style Taiji quan- Instruction Marin Spivack is a masterful Teacher of Tai Chi in Salem, Massachusetts; Chen style Instruction in authentic Taiji martial arts, Qi cultivation, Tai Chi DVD videos. Chen Zhaokui Martial Arts Research Association, North America. He is also a composer, a saxophonist, and he is my son.
Minding the Planet Nova is a cognitive scientist and high-tech entrepreneur working on technologies that overcome our information overload. He has founded companies and is now developing interactive internet software, TWINE, that we all need. His thinking covers a great range. He is my Son.
Marin Spivack & Milo Francis | Amie Street Marin Spivack is a Composer, virtuoso saxophonist, Teacher of Tai Chi in Salem, Massachusetts; Chen style Instruction in authentic Taiji martial arts, Qi cultivation, Tai Chi DVD videos. Chen Zhaokui Martial Arts Research Association, North America. He is my son.