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Friday, 21 July 2017

Focus vs Distraction

I'm easily distracted, either by external curiosity (eg, sensory input from eyes, ears or other) or internal curiosity (eg, questions arising in my mind). Yet, I am always able to regain my focus. In yesterday's blog, I mentioned that our era of information overload causes many distractions. How will Humanoid sapiens handle limitless Knowledge / Information?

In 2011, 2002 Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman wrote the book "Thinking, Fast and Slow". This book claims that focus and distraction are in 2 separate brain systems. Wiki: "The central thesis is a dichotomy between two modes of thought: "System 1" is fast, instinctive and emotional; "System 2" is slower, more deliberative, and more logical." (2011 NYT book review).

The above results in an amendment of my 2016 classification of the 4 areas of human intelligence, being Knowledge, Beliefs, Instinct & Intuition, and Imagination.

The current challenges of Artificial Intelligence (AI) are in the field of external curiosity (intuition / instinct) (eg, Futurism, MITScience)

Artificial beliefs, rooted in internal curiosity, should follow the Three Laws of Robotics by Isaac Asimov else AI might become dangerous to humans (my 2016 blog).

Imagination, also rooted in internal curiosity, is the only area of human intelligence that AI may never reach. Hence, the category "unknown unknowns". This is also the main reason why Humanoid sapiens needs human intelligence. Artificial intelligence may never be enough. Humanoid sapiens will thus become a part of Evolution, enhanced by Technology. 

At a first glance, distractions may seem irrelevant and superfluous. As from childhood, distractions are however an integral part of learning (eg, discovering, playing). It's sheer impossible to retain a 100% focus at all times. Our mind needs relaxation and stress relief. To some extent, fast and slow thinking are like front-end and back-end computing

The limitless amount of Knowledge available to Humanoid sapiens probably requires a horizontal split between slow thinking and fast thinking - or front-end and back-end computing. This is in line with my earlier suggestion about distributed computing in part 4 of Humanoid sapiens.

Considering the above and with the knowledge of hindsight, the word "versus" in the title of this blog is probably misleading. Without distractions, we would probably also lose focus (eg, burnout, fatigue). Distractions (eg, hocus pocus) are necessary to keep focus. Finding a balance between both is the real challenge for all of us.

Hocus Pocus (1971) by Focus - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

PS: hat tip to this blog