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Superpowered Imagination

Published 3/11/2021

Much of our attention and effort is used trying to remove human influence and finding "raw" truth. Today, I want to ask you to do the opposite of that.

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
In today's episode, I'm going to ask you to make a commitment to yourself. But first, I want to talk about Mario. Well, really, I want to talk about my son who loves Mario. Recently, my son, Liam, has gotten very interested in the storyline of Mario but also all of the physical antics that Mario undertakes. And he runs around the house jumping and making the same noises to a surprising degree of accuracy that Mario makes. And we allow him to play Mario from time to time and he is infatuated with the idea of acting like Mario. My name is Jonathan Cutrell, you're listening to Developer Tea. My goal on this show is to help driven developers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose in their careers. And if I were to say that clarity is about finding perfect truth, some reality, and that living under any kind of delusion is suboptimal, then it would be my responsibility, my duty as a father to sit my son down and explain to him why he is not Mario. Why he can never become Mario and that all of these fictional characters are just a layer of delusion. This obviously is not something I am planning on doing, don't worry. I plan to allow my son to run around and make Mario noises as long as he feels up to doing so. But why? Why should I let my son live with these incredible moments of imagination? And what role does it play? Because the truth is that as we age, as we become adults, much of our effort, especially in our professional lives, really critically in our professional lives, is aimed at uncovering reality. We want to see things as they truly are, much of our intention, even on this show, is to peel back the layers of bias and to understand things in their rawest form without any rose colored glasses without any delusion. And so often we do this by eliminating the human factor in our equations. We want to understand how people are thinking and feeling in objective measures. And so we compress those things out of our discussions, often to really interesting effect, sometimes taking us closer to our goals. We manage by the numbers, we create scores for happiness, we create metrics for success. All the while, in our personal lives, outside of our professional worlds, we continue to adopt various illusions and delusions to keep our reality suspended. And this doesn't have to be because we don't want to face reality. In fact, there's much more to the story than that. When we watch a movie, we allow our minds to entertain a different reality than our own. Sometimes we imagine realities that are so far beyond our own that they can only be imagined as scientifically fictitious or sci-fi. So what exactly is happening here? And how does this work to help us, which is intethetical to all of our striving to remove these layers of obscurity to true reality? That's what we're going to talk about after we talk about today's sponsor, Linode. Today's episode is sponsored by Linode. If you are a listener of the show, then you already know and probably love Linode. With Linode, you can simplify your infrastructure and cut your cloud bills in half with their virtual machines. You can develop deploy and scale your modern applications faster and easier, whether you're developing a personal project or managing larger workloads on a team. You deserve simple, affordable and accessible cloud computing solutions. And you can get started today with Linode. This is the important part with $100 in free credit for listeners of Developer Tea. Now, the cool thing is Linode's plans start as low as $5, which means $100 can take you a long way on Linode. Linode has data centers around the world with the same simple and consistent pricing, regardless of the location of the data center. So choose the one that makes the most sense. If you want one that has low latency to your location, choose one that's nearest to you. If you want one that has low latency to your users, choose one that's closest to your users. You can also receive 24-7 365 human support. That's all the time. They're always open with no tears, no handoffs. You don't have to be a super user. You don't have to have 400 instances to get to your users. 400 instances to get high level support. You're going to get that right away. And you can choose shared and dedicated compute instances, or you can use $100 in credit on S3 compatible object storage, managed Kubernetes, and more. The important thing is, if it runs on Linux, it runs on Linode and you get $100 to check it out for yourself. Head over to linode.com slash Developer Tea. Make sure you click on the Create Free Account button to get started. That's linode.com slash Developer Tea. Make sure you click on Linode for sponsoring today's episode of the show. So we're talking about this idea that we seek reality as if it's the ultimate experience of life. Or that the only way to optimally operate is if we have all of the available information. But it's incredibly important to remember some of our kind of unique advantages as being humans. One of our unique advantages as humans is that we can imagine. An imagination necessarily creates a separate reality from our current experience. It's not one that's necessarily incongruous with the principles of reality. Or at least it doesn't necessarily have to be incongruous with the principles of reality. It could be a possible future, for example. Or it could be a possible past, a possible historical event that we don't necessarily have all the information to fill in the blanks. Or it could be a possible parallel reality. In other words, we have the ability to construct an entire kind of existence or world that we're not physically experiencing for ourselves. And here's the most interesting part of this. Everyone is doing this with our current experience. What does this mean? Well, essentially our experience of our present reality, stick with me here, because this is really interesting. And it can get a little bit confusing, but if you stick with it, the payoff is really good here. The present experience of our reality is at the most fundamental level, a recreation or a representation of our senses. We're taking in raw information and then we're making sense of it on a very small delay, actually. The neuroscience behind it, we're actually experiencing the world on a very, very slight delay. Our brain takes all of that information and then recreates a reality for us to understand. The raw inputs are then played back, more or less, for our brains. Now, this isn't some fiction, this isn't some story about hard brains work. This is actually what we're experiencing. And here's the important kind of interesting factor here. When we imagine things, when we imagine a reality that is not presently being experienced by our senses, our brains can't really tell a strong difference between our imagined realities and our actual experienced reality. In other words, that same projection that's happening when we take in that raw information, that's a very similar projection occurs when we imagine something. This is such a powerful effect that we have the ability to change our own memories of real events. So why do we do this? There is a reason why humans are able to do this. There's a lot of theories as to why it is a fundamentally human thing. One of the most important and prevailing theories is that we do this so that we can learn. We're really good at simulating the world in our minds. And so we can simulate multiple possible futures, and we can make guesses about what we should do in those futures. We can also simulate things that are just purely enjoyable for one reason or another. If you were to sit down and talk to my son about Mario and how Mario is fun, he wouldn't be able to separate the idea of learning about all of the cool things that Mario can do and experiencing the fun of playing the game. The learning and the fun for him are inextricably connected. So much of our experience of life is not purely about peeling back the layers and removing the humanity in order to observe the rawest form of the data that describes truth. So much of our experience is about seating all of that context in our own imaginations. This is such a fundamental part of human experience that I want to ask you to make a commitment. Many times in our working world and our professional world, the intention that we have is to move from a soft metric to a harder metric, to move from a human expression to a practical output, to go from personal goals to business goals. But I want you to make a commitment to do one thing today, one thing, one very simple thing, and that is to go the other direction. Connect is deeply as you can with something that is nearly impossible to quantify. Whether that's a deep emotion about the work that you're doing, maybe it's a sense of awe and wonder about what you're excited about, something that you're interested in, or maybe it's even on the negative, what we would consider or kind of imagine to be a negative scale, a sense of boredom or frustration. All of these things are a part of the human experience, and removing them from our work lives, or even removing them from our personal lives, is doing an injustice, not just to the emotions that we feel or mental health. It's doing an injustice to what got us here in the first place, this amazing ability to imagine. So I want you to take things the other direction, and at least in one particular regard today, that's the commitment I want you to make. Thank you so much for listening to this episode. Thank you again to today's sponsor, Linode, have a JuLinode.com slash developer to you to get $100 in credit. You can click the Create Free Account button to get started today. We've had quite a few people join the Discord community, the developer to Discord community. I would like to invite you, if you're listening to the show, if you enjoyed this episode especially, we need you to come and participate in this Discord community. If you reach out to me directly on Twitter, that's at developer to you, or you can email me, developer to you at gmail.com. I will send you a way to get on to that Discord and invite to that Discord community. Thank you so much for listening, and until next time, enjoy your tea. Bye.