Give your head a shake

When I booked a rental car recently for an upcoming trip to Austin, I intentionally declined the option of a GPS. While I’d been to the city a few times before, I am by no stretch of the imagination familiar with the city. And while I have a GPS in my phone, I decided to navigate the old-fashioned way. I looked at a map of the city in advance and plotted the route from airport to hotel, a distance of about 20 miles. Why do that, you ask? For the same reason five years ago that I moved my mouse and mouse-pad from my natural right-side over to the left. I wanted to challenge my brain.  I did that too as a kid playing baseball when I intentionally taught myself to turn my world around and bat from the left-hand side of the plate. Switching things up puts the brain in even more charge of the way one moves.


I was reminded of this when I read in Wired Magazine about algorithms running the show. The article is short and it’ll make you think. We’re automating almost everything in life. I’ve spent the last 30 years working in an industry that focuses on speed and the introduction of iterative efficiency. Computing has delivered to us convenience, choice, and knowledge. It’s spread wealth around the globe. Ironically, it’s also made our brains lazy. My favorite line from the piece, “Tech lets us do things more easily. But this can mean doing them less reflectively too.”




About Peter Armaly
I get jazzed by automation, big data, and blockchain tech. Business, technology, and fitness are things I understand. Scotch, wine, food, and fiction are things I appreciate.

2 Responses to Give your head a shake

  1. Being older and preferring to use paper maps for purely nostalgic reasons I can relate on another level altogether. However, when in Austin – which can a be “weird” experience in general (both the roads and people; and proud of it I might add, LOL), it doesn’t hurt to have the assist from a GPS to get from point A to B. That said, the article “Relying on Algorithms and Bots Can Be Really, Really Dangerous” made me think that our emerging world of “Asperger-symptom” technology breakthroughs is not so convenient and something we all need to become more acutely aware of before it is too late… Think about the song lyrics from Zager and Evans “In the Year 2525” for example as one extreme. Or the movies “The Terminator” and the “The Matrix” as others. Will such lackadaisical behaviors, in the long run, result in a major incorrect paradigm shift for society.

    On a brighter side, it is still more fun to try and get those darn maps folded back into their original state!

  2. Peter Armaly says:

    Thanks for the comment, Danny. It’s fun and scary to think how the world will evolve under the unstoppable influence of computing and smart machines. You provide a couple of good references of people who thought about it many years ago. Another was John Updike, one of America’s most respected novelists, who wrote a book called Towards the End of Time. The machines had become so intelligent that they began to self propagate in ever smaller form. Basically, they were the result of today’s intensive research around nano-technologies and while they were originally designed for good, they fell from grace somewhere along the line and became a bit of a menace. I’m hoping I will have bid farewell long before that happens here. 🙂

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