Wednesday, March 23, 2011

what I learned today

It occurred to me today as I was perusing the headlines on my homepage (Elizabeth Taylor dies, Jerusalem bus bombed, and this from Scientific American: ‘one pill makes you smarter.’) that I’ve actually learned some interesting things lately. Like the fact that it’s actually good for you to play computer games.

According to author Jane McGonigal at cnet, reality has ceased to engage us or motivate us sufficiently, hence the reason ‘we’re up to playing 3 billion hours playing online games per week.’ (Of course, if you think about it, it isn’t just games we escape to, right? There’s books both real and e, all the little devices – ipad , blackberry, bluetooth, tv, etc. – we can’t seem to disconnect from. I mean how much time do any of us actually spend in the here and now?) The good news is we don’t have to feel guilty about gaming because playing may actually be good for us and game designers could have the best chance of positively impacting the most lives. Read the full article here. It’s very interesting and confirms what I subconsciously knew all along.

Another interesting concept I discovered is technological singularity: a hypothetical event occurring when technological progress outpaces our ability to predict the future. 'Many of the most recognized writers on the singularity... define the concept in terms of the technological creation of superintelligence. Vernor Vinge predicts that “Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.” Now there's an interesting albeit scary thought.

The last one I’ll mention is the one that got me thinking about what I learn as I click around the internet, the one I mentioned first about the pill that can make you smarter. The article in Scientific American mentions the pill because of the movie Limitless (which I still want to see), in which a pill suddenly makes a man a mental superman, this based on the belief that we only use 20% of our brains. This belief, however, is patently untrue due to default mode network, ‘a network of brain regions that are active when the individual is not focused on the outside world and the brain is at wakeful rest.’ You know, like autopilot, when you driving and thinking about how to extricate your mc from the predicament you put him/her in and realize you’ve traveled ten miles. So really we do use more of our brains than we’re aware of and the part that’s active when we’re daydreaming is ‘hypothesized to generate spontaneous thoughts during mindwandering and believed to be an essential component of creativity.’

What interesting facts have you find lately?


  1. Fascinating post. I love discussions about science and the human ability to outsmart itself from time to time.

    What interesting facts for today?
    Darn it, you would ask me for facts the day my head is empty.

    And thankx for E. Taylor info. I didn't know.

  2. My son and I were talking just yesterday about the % of our brains we use. He agrees with the post that humans will become super humans if we are able to tap into the full capacity of the brain. I told him the human condition cannot process that much information without going nuts. I mean, weren't like the geniuses of the 20th century bonkers? Who knows? I can go nuts just thinking about all this stuff. LOL.

  3. Wow -- You HAVE been busy learning today, while I spent all my free time at work counting blocks and tiles and rulers to complete our yearly inventory. What my conscious brain might have been doing while I was filling in the (mostly) non-fictitious numbers, I can't even recall.

    My husband wants to see Limitless, too.
    And Elizabeth Taylor died? Gotta check ccn.

  4. You won't ever convince me that playing computer games are good for you. Sorry my dear.

    Wonderful food for thought tho' and it asks the question:

    How much money can be made by encouraging people to engage face to face?

    How much money can be made by encouraging gaming?


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