Chronicles of a delayed essay
This previous week has been hard, there have been a lot of assignments, readings, videos, and a great deal of activities outside of the scope of the academy which I had not accounted for, this didn’t set well with my affinity to complicate simple things, and my passion to let important things to the last moment and well … the result was the delayed published of this essay, I offer you my sincere apologies for that. I hope this serves me as a remainder that gradual progress everyday is better than trying to do all progress in the las few days before a deadline. But complains aside, I really enjoyed going trough this first journey in the academy, all the information we were tasked to assimilate was very interesting and I hope you find it as well. Let’s start!
The Lightning Talk
During last week there was a great quantity of information to be absorbed, readings and video material and besides that we had lightning talks, little presentations my partners and I made regarding several topics related to technology or the material provided to us from academy. My presentation was about Artificial Intelligence, a general introduction to the field and some ideas about the term “Intelligence” which I describe bellow:
“It’s the branch of Computer Science that studies and creates systems that exhibit intelligence or characteristics associated to the human or natural world behavior.”
My pronunciation was very flawed and I got very nervous during a presentation that I had previously rehearsed, I actually forgot the purpose of some meme slides I introduced to lighten up the presentation, and when I realized this, my nervousness skyrocketed, it was a very awkward moment. There were a lot of observations made by myself and others about possible improvements which I hope to make in the upcoming talks.
The reading material
How to talk to anyone
Next I’m going to introduce you to the interesting readings I made during this past week. Let me start with a pretty peculiar reading from a book called “How to talk to anyone” by author Leil Lowndes, I say peculiar because it addresses social situations in such a methodical way that it feels kind of uncomfortable knowing how you can handle a conversation knowing these techniques. The reading is partitioned in different kinds of situations that can arise during a conversation and in different purposes.
The linux shell
Next reading was about the shell. As users of a computer, we have two options to interact with it, by using a Graphical User Interface (GUI), or by using a Shell interface. A shell interface is a command line tool that allows you to interact directly with the computer. The advantage of using a shell over a GUI is that you can use all the possible options a computer has to offer, meanwhile a user using a GUI is limited to the option available in said GUI.
What are the most profound life lessons from Stanford Professor John Ousterhout?
The next reading was from Quora, a social network for questions and answers, a funny note about Quora is that is thanks to this social network that I found out about software engineering. Going back to the topic, the reading was about the views about life from Professor John Ousterhout. I chose one view that I liked a lot and made a comparison with a popular cartoon character.
Fear is more dangerous than evil 😨 > 😈
Professor John Ousterhout is an academic in Stanford, in the area of computer science, and he states that fear is the main reason human history has been marked by violent and vile events. Fear is the base in which we construct a reasoning to do irrational things, and it has a lot of sense, let me explain it by using one of my favorite cartoon characters, Azula.
Azula is one of the main antagonist of ATLA (Avatar, The Last Airbender), she is seen as ruthless and cruel, she doesn’t hesitate to harm innocents, and even her own family and friends to pursue her goals. She’s highly successful in almost all the plans she makes (she even kills the avatar, something the fire nation had been trying to do for 100 year), she can easily manipulate people and get them to do her biding. In the season she was introduced you could considerate her as invincible, but as the series progresses we got to see more about the origin of her personality, and we realize that her whole character has been molded by her own fears.
As a child, Azula was a prodigy, born in royalty, daughter of fire-lord Azulon’s second son, Ozai. As a prodigy, Azula always excelled in the arts of fire-bending, even shadowing her older brother, Zuko. For this, she receives conditional love from her father. In consequence she grows to be his tool, carrying his plans and continuing receiving “love” from him in return. She, in turn, uses fear to dominate her friends to obey her and be her allies. However It all comes undone when one of her friends, Mai, overcomes her fear and betrays her. After this betrayal her world falls apart and she starts to make more mistakes and failing in everything she does, because she continues to live in fear of not being the child her father wants and stop receiving his affection. In the end she is defeated, and we come to understand that she wasn’t truly evil, she just had an unlucky childhood and a bad role model as a father who instilled on her the fear that drove her life.
Professor Ousterhout reaches the same conclusion that we did when we saw Azula at the end of ATLA, evil people mostly are evil because they have take fear as one of their main drivers in life.
The next and last reading was about how we live our lives taking decision unconsciously, making decision without even thinking them, living in autopilot. In today’s world, an average British person makes about 35,000 decision per day, that quantity has pushed us to develop an unconscious decision-making system to keep us from overloading. The problem with this is that:
- it’s keeping us from making conscious important decisions.
- it’s triggering negative habits
- we make decision we do not intend to do
“The opposite of autopilot is purposeful living.”
There are three autopilot archetypes:
- The pleasers: always struggle to say no, piling the amount of tasks they need to get done. In order to one must: Learn to say “NO” and cancel unnecessary meetings.
- The pacers: they do as much as they can everyday, without stopping to effectively live. In order to one must: Do the important stuff first, the stuff most important to you; Set an alarm to remind you to relax and disconnect from your chores.
- The passengers: they are passive watchers in this life and struggle to make choices, following the crowd instead. In order to one must: Break out of your autopilot and start making active decisions and prioritise you to-do list.