In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Barbara Tversky about how our senses of space and motion underlie our capacity for thought.
They discuss the evolution of mind prior to language, the importance of imitation and gesture, the sensory and motor homunculi, the information communicated by motion, the role of “mirror neurons,” sense of direction, natural and unnatural categories, cognitive trade-offs, and other topics.
👉 “Spacial thinking is the foundation of thought.”
👉 “Hand and lips have larger mapped real estate (neurons in brain) than other parts of our body like back or legs.”
👉 “If you sit on your hands while reading your memory recall rate drops by 70%.”
👉 “Evolutionary terms: if you can’t move, sense the environment around you, and respond with any action in that space, there is no basis to evolve intelligence or anything else. Intelligence only matters because you can do something with it that affects your survival. A sense of world, the capacity to move within it had to have came online very very early long before language does.”
This is fascinating since it backs so many of the common topics we hear in our society like:
Learn by using all your senses eg. highlight what you read, take notes into your favorite app (even if you won’t read it again), share your notes/learnings with a friend or family and be animated when explaining what you learnt etc..
Kids at schools should not sit quietly while learning and instead need PE/constant spatial motion to develop their intelligence. Yes California I’m looking at you and your “PE not required for Kinder nonsense!”
Using hands/gestures when presenting publicly or privately helps memory recall since movement is the foundation of brain development. Next time you are stuck on something, get animated!
Listening vs Reading
You probably read the doom and gloom articles on how listening is not as effective as reading. What they fail to address is the different behavior people take when being engaged with each type of medium. Reading is engaging: turning pages, highlighting text using a pen and even scribbling in the margins.
Here’s an idea: DO THE SAME ON A DIGITAL MEDIUM.
Get one of those screen pens from a tech conference or your local store and start engaging with the digital medium by taking notes of podcasts using that pen. When done share what you’ve learnt with friends and family and/or even write a blog post. I think you will find that your ability to retain will be identical if not better than reading a book.
Real life application to Child Development
The practical side of the theory in this podcast is spot on with the great work SensoryLifestyle.com is doing for newborns and toddlers. Sensory Lifestyle is dedicated to sharing evidence based play ideas & parenting resources that will help you feel confident in your parenting and boost your child’s development.
Tulsi Gabbard, Jocko Willink and Joe Rogan discuss US politics. And it was an awesome debate! Finally a politics discussion without malevolence.
These hyperpartisan times we live in are tearing at the fabric of humanity; dilating people’s egos to avert pattern changes, and dividing some over ludicrous issues. Let’s not forget that media is the cheerleader of these conflicts because conflict is good for ratings! We are better than that.
Few take away snippets
The gov is not a great solution to most of our problems. The solutions are balanced.
Everything is broken down into little sound bites. You are either pro this or against that.
It’s like if you believe yes and I believe no then I will attack you. Who cares about Political belief alignment when we can have so many things in common (surfing, training martial arts etc…) and still hang out.
Our ego pins ourselves into a corner. We should be looking at other people’s perspectives to understand where they are coming from.
Every News story that comes out is… “THIS IS THE END OF THE WORLD!”
America is stronger than one man!
We think that some news event that we can fully understand in an hour or a tweet. We need to let these things develop and see where the actual long term effects are. We can’t be snapping judgement and making split decisions when we need to assess what’s really going on. The press is just snap decisions, snap decisions.. very comical.
Media are the cheerleaders of these conflicts because conflict is good for ratings!
Tulsi Gabbard is a 2020 Presidential Candidate of the Democratic Party and is currently serving as the U.S. Representative for Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district since 2013. https://www.tulsi2020.com/
Jocko Willink is a decorated retired Navy SEAL officer, author of the book Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, and co-founder of Echelon Front, where he is a leadership instructor, speaker, and executive coach. His new book “Leadership Strategies and Tactics” will be available in January 2020. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkqcY4CAuBFNFho6JgygCnA
The month leading up to Halloween (31 October) becomes a Pumpkin fest full of festivities with empty spaces and farms turning into pumpkin patches for all ages.
It’s no secret Americans sure love celebrating Halloween. You don’t even have to check the calendar. At the first public appearance of a pumpkin looking at you outside someone’s (home: pumpkin houses) or at the local supermarket (Safeway, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Market etc) you will instantly be reminded it’s October and Halloween is near.
If you have kids then this will be a busy time for you. From scary pumpkins to (ghosts: link to fake ghost house) to dress ups to pumpkin patches. Your month as a parent is set. And best part is you’ll enjoy it with them. Especially the pumpkin patches.
There are a ton of pumpkin patches you can visit. The city ones are often found on the El Camino highway in the form of a pop up venue. They are ok. Smallish but convenient to drop by to choose a big pumpkin for d-day. The pumpkin patches located on a farm just shy of the Silicon Valley boundaries are gold!
Enter the Spina Farm Pumpkin Patch
Spina Farms Pumpkin Patch is located in beautiful Coyote Valley at the corner of Santa Teresa Boulevard and Bailey Avenue. It features tractor rides through the corn fields, mini train rides for kiddos, Area 51 corn maze with pumpkin blasters (pumpkin loaded bazookas), live music and of course thousands of pumpkins all shapes and sizes. You pickup a barrel, and go for your life picking the crop of the lot. At checkout don’t forget to grab yourself a soft juicy pumpkin bread.. leave some for me 😉
I’ll let the photos do all the talking but as a final note why I love thus place. It feels authentic— like a real farm away from all the chaos of Silicon Valley. Just shat the doctor ordered lol. The freshness is in everything you see and smell. Like busing a forest.
Photos from our visit there few days ago
What’s your favorite Pumpkin Patch in and around Silicon Valley?
I recovered 30 gigs of storage on my MBP (MacBook Pro) with this simple hack of converting my PNGs to JPEGs. Here’s how.
If you own a Mac or an iPhone, you’ll notice both devices save “screenshots” with a PNG extension. Portable Network Graphics (.png), an image file format is uses lossless compression to save your images. You maybe thinking this lossless compression is the best format but the reality is JPEG, a lossy compression, is just as good at retaining image quality at a MASSIVE fraction of the size of a PNG.
Image sizes really matter when your device runs 1080p+ resolutions (most modern Macs) or new OLED iPhones. A full size (no crop) screenshot on my MBP with a resolution of 2080×1080 yields a 7MB (7168kb) image. A JPEG equivalent is 500kb. That’s ~14x smaller. If you are like me and take screenshots as reminders or todos (GTD baby!) then you’ll be chewing through storage fast.
100 of these PNGs and you’ll be reaching the 1Gb territory.
With storage being dirt cheap who cares right? Not so. Laptops with external drives are annoying and iPhones do not have extension cards. Furthermore, data transfer is a burden consider upload speeds are always conveniently ignored yet important if you are backing up to the cloud. And let’s face it, who’s got time to sit around waiting when the same lot of photos with identical quality (assuming you aren’t blowing them up on a wall) can be backed up to your Dropbox cloud storage 14x faster. GTD baby!
Did I mention this will also speed up your Spotlight searching, indexing, extend your SSD life and open those images faster.
Convert PNGs to JPEGS
PNG are uncompressed images from things mainly like Screenshots on your Mac or iPhone. They don’t need to be PNG unless you really are picky about the quality of text sharpness. ie. Under JPEG text becomes a tad more blurry since compression reuses surrounding pixels to make image smaller.
Overall, the chance of you retaining PNGs is low unless you do a lot of photo editing and need that pixel level detail especially for font/text clarity.
 Identify Opportunities
Run a scan to identify where the opportunities (PNGs) are located on your drive.
$ find . -type f -iname '*.png' | wc -l
find . -type f finds all files ( -type f ) in this ( . ) directory and in all sub directories, the filenames are then printed to standard out one per line.
This is then piped | into wc (word count) the -l option tells wc to only count lines of its input.
If you only want files directly under this directory and not to search recursively through subdirectories, you could add the -maxdepth flag:
$ find some_directory -maxdepth 1 -type f | wc -l
The key to that case-insensitive search is the use of the -iname option, which is only one character different from the -name option. The -iname option is what makes the search case-insensitive.
Create JEPG versions of the PNGS and remove old PNGs. There is no need to keep the old PNGs. They are the ones that take up all the space.
Run this on a small subset of your PNGs to make sure you are happy with the resulting JPEG.
I was excited to finally get my hands on the new Bose QC35 II because noise simply annoys me more than the average bear. The beautiful world we live in today is very noisy, from cars to traffic lights to photocopiers to background chatter, and it’s something some of us have learnt to live with while others suffer from the disruption. I’m in the latter crew. Until that it, a $300 Bose QC35 II became my friends, even if it was for a short period of time.
During this short period of time they were amazing. The ANC (Active Noise Cancelling) was superb! I was so excited I started showcasing (marketing for Bose) to all my software engineers and entrepreneurs, who like me seek silence to do their focused work, how their lives will change. I also sold my wife on these as a solution for plane travel. Noise inside planes reaches 80db, the sound of a vacuum cleaner near your ears on a trip from San Francisco to Sydney has shown over time to damage ear drums.
That is until I upgraded to firmware 4.5.2.
Enter the Firmware
You see, the Bose QC35 II has a computer inside which uses the multiple microphones places strategically to listen to incoming noise and cancel out the sound waves. This is orchestrated by a small onboard computer (think Arduino) running custom Bose software to run and manage the hardware. Hence ACN. Software has bugs. Even production versions. Thus is the nature (complexity) of the beast. And manufacturers will send updates over the internet to patch things up.
I have no idea why I installed the firmware update since the headphones were working flawlessly. I’m sure it was from habit; an expectation of better things to come from an update. Just like when I update my iPhone or MBP I get better performance and maybe few new bells and whistles (features).
Sound Quality Degradation
After the update, the noise cancelling quality of my QC35 II was degraded. I sat there in the library hearing the photocopier and background chatter. Something I could never hear before. WTF! I tried the 2 ACN noise levels (high and low) and both were indistinguishable.
There was something wrong with the v4.5.2 firmware update.
Whether intentional or not, one has to question whether Bose took the $9 an hour engineer outsource route (Boeing is famous for doing so with their 737 MAX MCAS) because something like this surely could not happen if they owned the whole release process and had QA. However the timing of these degrading version updates coincides with the more expensive Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 release. Coincidence or not I’ll leave this to the conspiracy experts to debate.
They are the puppet master here. Controlling at will the quality of the headphones you paid them handsomely for.
Commanding a premium for average quality sound gear with what used to be amazing ACN, then manipulating the quality of their ACN moat through ghost version updates to prop new cheaper build products (*cough* Bose 700) by degrading previous generation units.
If you own the QC35 please let me know how your experience has been so far.
I just remembered something that needs to be bedded down as a post. We all know this very well, and have seen the picture below, but yet we forget. When we forget this basic truth we start behaving in an unsound manner, looking for big words to fuel the story our ego is improvising to. Sometimes it’s best to catch ourselves and remember that everything starts as nothing. New things go 0 to 1. And this is also how most startups are born; the garage startup.
The first short story comes directly from the corporate world. An individual I was speaking with let their belief system run amok and painted a picture that the company they are employed by is superior and expect the same size company to be dealing with (ie. not startup). Even throwing in a derogatory statement like “a man in a garage coding” to generally refer to companies they do not like. hmmm…
The 2nd story comes from the world of Facebook Groups where a group of bookkeepers started talking about software companies they use to provide tools for their clients. One explained the horror she felt when she learnt one of the companies she was speaking to is a “dude in a garage”. *insert roll eyes emoji*… yeah.
Deflating the ego
If you are ever in such a situation please remind these lovely people that everything starts as nothing.
It’s easy to get a job and be part of something someone else laid the foundations to. What’s more special is starting something yourself. But it takes guts, grit and a go getter attitude to start something from 0 to 1 without a safety net of it working out.
Apple, Google, Amazon, and countless others all at one point were garage startups. I’m sure every company has a story of starting from nothing. The struggles. The courage. And for some the breakout. Here is that famous Silicon Valley picture to remind us of this fact.
Recently, 2 Billionaires debated in Shanghai China about World Artificial Intelligence; Jack Ma the founder of Alibaba and Elon Musk aka Tony Stark, former cofounder of PayPal and currently a founder of Tesla, SpaceX, Hyperloop and Neuralink.
The robots are coming!
AI is in the news everywhere you look. The spectrum of predictions is entertaining and somewhat hilarious; from sentient Skynet like robots to the singularity. One thing is certain, predicting any future event is a cognitive bias we all should keep in mind. It’s nice to tickle our senses and day dream, but the reality is no one knows what the future looks like.
Recently, 2 Billionaires debated in Shanghai China about World Artificial Intelligence; Jack Ma the founder of Alibaba and Elon Musk aka Tony Stark, former cofounder of PayPal and currently a founder of Tesla, SpaceX, Hyperloop and Neuralink.
This was a rather weird interview. Elon Musk had to start the interview even tho he was invited to Shanghai to discuss AI with Jack and then there is the entertaining polar opposite views about the future of AI.
OR watch this 5 mins version version which illustrates how weird this interview was.
General Intelligence vs Specialized Intelligence
There is a HUGE difference between general intelligence and specialized intelligence. It’s illogical to compare human (general intelligence) to specialized intelligence (machine task based intelligence) UNLESS we compare tasks each can/do perform and just like that… machines outperform humans.
Elon Musk was giving examples of specialized intelligence eg. Deep Blue, iPhones, are all number crunchers, which YES outperform humans. Just like most manufacturing robots outperform humans. Jack Ma’s reply that no machine invented humans is a straw man argument and illustrates how little he knows about AI. I guess money talks after all.
Will we ever create general intelligence? No one knows. What is certain is;
(a) we still don’t understand how the brain works, (b) neural networks in machine learning only scratch at the basics of how neurons work in the human brain and (c) let’s not forget the vastness of venture backed companies faking AI using offshore labor to fake specialized intelligence.
So let’s not get caught up in robots/AI taking over our jobs.
I had a blast in Last Vegas at Amazon’s re:MARS Conference for Machine Learning, Automation, Robotics and Space. Below are some of the videos I recorded from the event. Hope you enjoy them!
Thank you Amazon for inviting Team Veryfi (my company) to attend this wonderful event! We had a blast, learnt a lot and rubbed shoulders with many smart folks.
Now onto the videos!
New Shepard (Blue Origin) Space Capsule Experience at #reMARS
Robert Downey Jr. at Amazon’s #reMARS in Las Vegas
Robert Downey Jr. appeared at Amazon’s re:MARS artificial intelligence conference in Las Vegas to entertain the crowd of engineers and scientist and make an awesome announcement. Robert, in true Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) fashion, announced Footprint Coalition to Clean Up the World With Advanced Tech.
Jeff Bezos Keynote Fireside Chat at #reMARS with Jenny Freshwater
Jeff Bezos and Jenny Freshwater (Amazon’s Director of Forecasting) speak on stage on June 6, 2019 at re:MARS conference for Machine Learning, Automation, Robotics and Space ran in Las Vegas (California).
Unveiled at reMARS in Las Vegas (California), an Amazon conference for Machine Learning, Automation, Robotics and Space.
The NEW Amazon Prime drone with hybrid architecture to fly like a plane and hover like a traditional drone with propellers. Amazon Prime delivery on auto-pilot at light speed anywhere in the world (give or take ;-))
Boston Dynamics CEO demo’s Spot at #reMARS
Video recorded at reMARS Amazon’s conference for Machine Learning, Automation, Robotics and Space ran in Las Vegas (California). Boston Dynamics CEO Marc Raibert showcasing Spot, its first commercial robot.
Spot is a small four-legged robot that comfortably fits in an office or home. It weighs 25 kg (30 kg if you include the arm). Spot is all-electric and can go for about 90 minutes on a charge, depending on what it is doing. Spot is the quietest robot we have built.
Spot inherits all of the mobility of its bigger brother, Spot Classic, while adding the ability to pick up and handle objects using its 5 degree-of-freedom arm and beefed up perception sensors. The sensor suite includes stereo cameras, depth cameras, an IMU, and position/force sensors in the limbs. These sensors help with navigation and mobile manipulation.
Veryfi is automating bookkeeping, starting with automation of time & materials for architecture, engineering & construction (AEC) workforce. We help businesses of all sizes to get access to Veryfi’s intelligent and secure mobile apps to:
I’ve known about the Koenigsegg cars for a while. As a fan of fast cars, and having built & raced one myself, it’s only natural to be inspired by the nature of fast automotive. There is an art to building race cars which today I appreciate and often contrast to building a business. Having cofounded 2 x venture backed startups in Silicon Valley inc. (inc one backed by Y Combinator) I find the parallels similar yet different.
Recently I was watching a famous VLogger Mr JWW interview Christian Von Koenigsegg on the new Koenigsegg Jesko Hypercar. The name Jesko is a tribute to Christian’s father, Jesko von Koenigsegg. The Jesko is a high-performance track car, with focus on high aerodynamic downforce and more precise handling. Power 941 kW; 1,262 hp from a 5 L (5,032 cc; 307 cu in) twin-turbocharged V8 with a cost close to $3m.
The video interview struck me because of the detail and passion Christian has for his business developing unique hypercars from the ground up. Christian knows all the intricate detail that make up the cars his company manufacturers. He is a walking talking car dictionary. Not just cars. He is an innovator. Most parts inside the Koenigsegg are designed and built by Koenigsegg. Not sourced from 3rd party suppliers like other manufacturers would do.
So I had to dig up some info and learn more about him and his company. Off to the official Koenigsegg website I went.
About Christian Von Koenigsegg
Christian makes hyper cars that rival the Bugattis and Ferraris of the world. Everything in the Koenigsegg car is custom made. From gearboxes to turbos to engines. His latest gearbox allows the driver to go from gear 9 to 3 in an instant to pull maximum power from engine. The computer supports the driver by making sure that the gear user selects is not going to blow the engine. His cars cost $1-2m on avg. His company has ~200 employees.
It’s get’s better!
What’s more amazing is this story on the about page found on his company’s website.
“In 1991, he invented a new solution for joining floor planks together without adhesive or nails. He called it Click, as the profile enabled the planks to simply click together. Christian presented this technology to his father-in-law in Belgium, who ran a flooring factory. He rejected the idea, saying that if it was viable, someone would have come up with it a long time ago. Christian then showed the concept to a few other floor manufacturers who also dismissed it. In 1995, a Belgian and a Swedish company patented the exact same solution as Christian’s Click floor – they even called it Click! This innovation has now turned into a multi-billion dollar industry…”
I should have known better than to change the date of birth on my company’s Twitter Account Veryfi to the company’s inception date 2 years ago. Without warning or any confirmation Twitter immediately declared that I must be underage and locked the company account.
As panic set in, I explored my options. Oh I can prove to Twitter my identity by submitting my drivers license to them. But how will Twitter know I really own this company account if my identity is no tied to the Veryfi Twitter account? I shrugged and decided to share my drivers license.
Little did I realize that their form was also broken and kept on rejecting the drivers license photo followed by disabling the “Upload image” button. A company with a market cap of $30B based in the heart of SF cannot do basic QA (quality assurance) on a feature that serves justice? No way! In the end I managed to get it working. There, sent.
While my company also owns a Youtube account on which we explain about our services and products, I have never come across such a situation on it. When we started the channel we did take the services of a company to buy views as buying youtube views might feel like cheating, but it’s really not and ever since then our channel has been booming in views thus helping the business to grow drastically. In other words, the Youtube algorithm and automated response is way better than Twitter, and you can see in the below image why I said that.
Few hours later, silence.
I check gmail.
A sentence has been served…
At this point I had enough. But, let’s rewind this a tad to reflect on this problem.
How to destroy trust
Jack (CEO of Twitter) gained my trust for Twitter when he came back to Joe Rogan(JRE Podcast) for the 2nd time to cleanup the mess of his first appearance. Kudos to Joe Rogan for reeling him back in and for Jack to face the music. Jack arrived with his legal advisor Vijaya Gadde. Tim Pool(an American journalist, YouTuber, and political commentator) also joined to spice up the discussion.
During the interview, listening with laser sharp focus, I gained more empathy and respect for Twitter and it’s daily challenges. A platform that is juggling free speech, propaganda and fake news. It is a bloody tough job! Peoples emotions run wild. We all have something to say.
How does one determine truth from fact?
When does one hand down a sentence?
“ei incumbit probatio qui negat, non qui dicit” — Presumption of guilt, in Latin
Presumption of guilt is a default position based on pessimism and suspicion whereas presumption of innocence is based more on optimism and trust. So which playbook does Twitter really play?
But I disgres.
Tim Pool drilled Jack and Vijaya around the decision making process before killing Twitter accounts. “Where does machine logic and where does human intervention come in?” Of course the answers were colorful but Jack made bold promises for a better review processes and more care before killing accounts.
I was sold. I now gave Twitter more love. They had a hard problem to solve and their CEO had committed to fixing it.
Until, months later, when I declared my company’s twitter age to be 2. <insert-police-lights-here>
Should computers run the world?
Strangely enough, the night prior I was glued to Royal Institutes lecture by Hannah Fry(a British mathematician, author of Hello World) speaking about machine bias in decision making. You can catch it here on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Rzhpf1Ai7Z4
Hannah presented a fascinating topic. She questioned the audience to see who would let machines dictate their fate in a legal system where machines are used to do just that. Being a software engineer by degree and a 2nd time entrepreneur I declared that I rather let an algorithm decide fate. My view was that due to a more logical approach, minus the human emotion bias that occurs during heated trials, a machine will lead to a fair outcome.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please return your seats and tray-tables to their full upright positions, and extinguish all smoking material, as we’re about to land in the red zone. Ahh! No survivors!” — Fight Club
Hannah, I was wrong!
Where to from here…
Back to the case at hand.
The story is Twitter decided to ban Veryfi’s Twitter Account https://twitter.com/veryfinance because I wanted to tell the truth and tell them the company’s actual date of birth was 2 years ago. Twitter’s logic was as simple (and stupid) as this:
IF age(dob) < 13 THEN LockAccountImmediately('DoNotConfirmWithUser') SendDeathNote('FewMinsLater') ENDIF
12 hours later… I think Twitter actually deleted Veryfi’s Twitter Account without any due diligence.
Earlier in the day I also complained to @TwitterSupport using my personal twitter account. I’m pretty sure it fell on death ears since no one acknowledged or offered to help.
Tonight I went for a walk to reflect on this issue. Walking past many famous companies based in Mountain View (CA); Giants that have stood the test of time. It lifted my spirit and got me thinking. Given Twitter’s pessimistic authoritarian style and hypocrisy, will they stand the test of time?
I recalled a wise decision my wife and I made (over 10 years ago) to eliminate the idiot box (TV) from our home. We have not regretted it since. Books have replaced the space where the idiot box used to live.
Do we need Twitter? I don’t think so. It saps our energy and time. No business, big or small needs Twitter.
About Veryfi (banned from Twitter for being 2 years old)
Veryfi, Inc. is a California, US-based mobile software automation company founded in December 2016 and backed by Y-Combinator inc other prominent investors in Silicon Valley. Veryfi helps Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC) workforce of all sizes to get access to Veryfi’s smart mobile tools to eliminate 90% of time wasted doing data entry (& chasing records), improve job costing and empower their financial prosperity. To learn more visit: https://www.veryfi.com/