My cycling and fitness activities are being enabled by a set of technologies that were not widely available a few years ago- online coaching through internet enabled analysis of power files and streaming fitness sessions monitored by a wearable measuring movement and heart rate.
20 years ago we started using heart rate monitors widely. Before that there was just subjective effort. With a few chips we could see inside ourselves and augment the experience by seeing another, physiological dimension. Now my bike has a power meter, so I can see my actual output and compare it to the physiological effect and the subjective effort. My experience of riding and ability to train is augmented. The winner of Tour de France last year was only 23. The cycling pros of the previous generations ascribe the rise of younger champions to their use of these technologies to skip the years of learning and slow builds that the previous generation had to go through.
The key is that you need to use the technology to achieve real personal goals, not just enrich tech platforms.
One concern is that a machine would not need to be more intelligent than humans in all things to pose a serious risk. “It’s something that’s unfolding now,” he said. “If you look at social media and the algorithms that choose what people read and watch, they have a huge amount of control over our cognitive input.”
Do you want to blindly give away your data to others and allow their algorithms manipulate us? Or seek real experiences augmented by technology? Do we live in the real, augmented world or in their “metaverse”
I’m hoping that Apple’s augmented or virtual reality device will be more along the lines of a way to enhance the experience of real or imagined worlds and not a way to enslave us in their artificial environment.
The Augmented Environment
One of my conclusions from studying how the brain interprets the world and how people actually make decisions is that the single most important decision we make is the choice of our environment. And by that I mean both physical and semantic environment. Who are the people we surround ourselves with? What are the books and websites we read? The key is that our beliefs strongly condition how the world occurs to us. We can’t decide in the moment how to react to the statement of a politician or writer.
In statistics, we call these beliefs “priors” that determine the probabilities we assign to events. We update those priors with new information all of the time, so the information we’re exposed to on an ongoing basis determine perception.
At the brain level, we can see this in the most basic forms of perception, like how we see ambiguous figures, for example here: Long-term priors influence visual perception through recruitment of long-range feedback
A computational model incorporating hierarchical-predictive-coding and attractor-network elements reproduced both behavioral and neural findings. In this model, a bias at the top level propagates down the hierarchy, and a prediction error signal propagates up.
It’s reasonable to extend this kind of biased perception extending to how we perceive what people say to us or their motives. If you believe you live in a violent environment or that some classes of people are inherently violent, your priors will influence your interpretation of the words and actions of everyone around you. No choice in the matter, because belief comes from experience and experience largely comes from environment.
The trouble is that in our augmented reality, we don’t experience much of the world at all. We read reports of the world and interpretations of events. That’s an overlay that we experience as part and parcel of the real world, even though it’s just an overlay providing an interpretation, augmenting the pure sensory event.
So choose your friends and your information sources carefully.