LOCKED IN A CAGE BY BABIES: LET’S TALK SUPERINTELLIGENT A.I. Some people are better at following instructions than others. A short while ago, I had a few people around my house to jam, have some drinks and play cards. None of them had been to my house before. Some of my friends found it really easy to get here and didn’t call once to check how to make it. Others had a bit more difficulty. Some ignored my instructions completely and still got here. The benefit of talking to people who have background knowledge of London is that my instructions can be pretty vague, yet still
I have some younger nieces and nephews. If I ask them to bring me something, I have to be really clear on what it looks like, when to bring it to me and probably give them a motivation to do it. Sometimes it gets completed. Most of the time it doesn’t. However, I couldn’t _blame _them for that, they’re young and don’t know how to follow instructions as well as my 20-something-year-old
I used to be friends with a lizard called Ella when I was 13. She peed on me once. That wasn’t even an instruction, she just did it. WHAT IF THEY CONTROLLED US? So here’s a weird thought – what if these humans, nieces and nephews, and animals trapped us in a cage and were in charge of us? When I tell my friends to do certain things and complete tasks, we can have a conversation and gain further clarity on the final goal. This is what we call a “_working relationship_“. I mean, it’s still slavery but let’s ignore that for now. (What a strange thing
When I tell my nieces and nephews to do things, sometimes communication breaks down and I have to resort to different tricks like offering chocolate. If they don’t understand me, I don’t get any kind of freedom. This is what we call an “_alarmingly frustrating relationship_“. When my lizard friend asks me to do something, I have no bloody idea what is happening because she doesn’t speak a human language. She starves because she doesn’t get any food from me. This is what we call a “_pointless relationship_“. As we progressed down the list of agents, the relationships became more difficult because I was smarter and smarter than them in comparison. Yet they, for some reason, were in charge of me. _I want to help but they don’t understand me._ If a lizard controlled my fate, I would need to find a way out of this
cage or I’d die.
We are the babies and lizards Nick Bostrom popularised the term _Superintelligence _in the book of the same name to describe artificial intelligence that has surpassed human intelligence and capabilities in all domains. They are faster than us, remember more and complete complex tasks with greater ease. _And they don’t need food to keep going._ We currently control computers. We tell them what to do, fix them and rely on them in specific domains. Now, what happens when they’re simply smarter than us but we don’t want them to take advantage of us much like we (unfortunately) take advantage of animals? Report this ad Report this ad This is a problem that has, for a number of years, tormented Artificial Intelligence researchers . In the above relationships, the intelligent being trapped in the cage is a waste of talents. But the babies just leave us trapped in the cage because they don’t understand what we’re saying. _I need to teach them the English language, how to read, how to understand complex directions and concepts and, perhaps most importantly, to trust us. This will take too long._ Immensely frustrating. So it’s better for us to find a way to leave the cage. We can help them better than they can help themselves. When AI researchers talk about problems such as this, it often sounds like a silly fantasy made up as a way to inject more unnecessary terror in the world. Evil computer overlords – ha! The problem they try to emphasise is that it isn’t _evil _artificial intelligence that we should worry about. It is _capable _artificial
_I can help these babies and animals better than they can help themselves so I when I get out of this cage, I’m going to lock them in this room so I can feed and teach them with greater ease._ We already rely on artificial intelligence in scenarios ranging from helping pilots fly, getting us information from the internet and
This has resulted in crashes , injection of fake news articles , and unintentional racist profiling . Yet, we continue. Because it’s so helpful _and _easy. Following A.I is the path of least resistance so it’d take a remarkably quick change to cause a worldwide uprising… if it ever comes. This isn’t a complaint about the current state of our attitudes towards artificial intelligence. This is to highlight the problem that superintelligent computers may pose to us in the next 50 to 100 years (or never, depending on how confident you are this will ever happen). Superintelligent computers may not be evil. They may just be very good at what they do. So they should be in charge. Unless we’re happy to let babies run the world?
This brings us to the end of this short discussion. I want to point you in the direction of some great books because I’ve inevitably missed out a lot of detail here. INSPIRATION: _Life 3.0_ by Max Tegmark MORE INSPIRATION: _Superintelligence _ by
SLIGHTLY LOOSER INSPIRATION: _Hello World
_ by Hannah Fry
ONE OF THE FREAKIEST A.IS IN SCI-FI: _The Illumnae Files_ by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman (_All of them. _It features an A.I named A.I.D.A.N who may or may not go off
MORE SUPERINTELLIGENT A.I. IN SCI-FI: _Thunderhead
_by Neal Shusterman
------------------------- As always, thank you for reading! If you have any questions, feel free to ask below. Twitter: @improvingslowly Facebook: Improving Slowly
AI Takeover – Wikipedia Air France Flight 447: ‘Damn it, we’re going to crash’ Facebook Is Changing News Feed (Again) to Stop Fake News Is Artificial Intelligence Racist?
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August 28, 2019
LIVING WITH CHRONIC PAIN PT.2 It’s been over 5 years since I last wrote a piece on what it means to live with chronic pain. I have good news. I still have fingers with which to write about it. In this time, I have completed an undergraduate and graduate degree as well as had two stints in the professional workplace. As a result, I have experienced pain in different contexts. If you haven’t read the first post, please find it here. Perhaps you’d say this is an Angry Bird? Photo by Егор Камелев
I AM ANGRY AND THIS CALMED ME DOWN A theme in my last post was a sombre nature. I pointed out that there are many things I feel I have lost because I have been in pain for so long. Whether that was friendships, self-confidence or time. These are all true. Yet, I noticed something else – I was really angry. I _hated _being in pain. When you’ve hurt your back or your leg, it’s easy to feel frustrated because it limits you and prevents you from enjoying your day even when you don’t have any obligations. It’s draining and if it lasts for a few weeks, you simply cannot wait for it to leave. Therefore, it may be surprising that I have taken a while to admit that I have been chronically frustrated at my situation.
Let me explain.
My first approach to being in pain was that being angry was only going
to waste my time
. It was
something that I needed to simply accept and move on with. This was greatly inspired by stoic and Buddhist philosophies. But this pain was nagging at me like a small child who would simply not stop crying. As composed as you can be, eventually, you just become a little bit annoyed… Report this ad Report this ad …especially if this child is actually 30 years old, is perfectly capable of living an independent life but simply doesn’t. And cries
all the time.
This anger grew into chronic frustration. I wouldn’t be foaming at the teeth every day (if I have but simply haven’t noticed, I do not have any friends because they didn’t warn me) but most of my journal entries would be the same – I’m annoyed that I have to push through this pain, otherwise I’d simply never get anything done. Who _wants _to do that? There’s no glory in a battle no one ever witnesses you conquer, is there? Throughout my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I chose to explore these topics. I wondered what anger has done for people in the past and whether anger needs to _do anything at all _in order to be free
I realised that my chronic frustration was simply a reflection of chronic pain. It isn’t always a productive emotion and sometimes it is. That is perfectly fine. In that time, it motivated me to learn how to swim, to take up programming and to pursue these topics in the
In many respects, it has transformed the way that I approach my life. Frankly, I’m not sure I had any choice at all! I am fortunate enough for my chronic pain to not shackle me to the bed every day. This has no real relevance to my post. I just enjoy doggos.
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THE TALKING PROBLEM
When we think back to cavemen and women, we think of very rudimentary communications. “Run”, “Hot!” “Sad!” “Unregulated capitalism is ruining our environment and making the poor, poorer.”
Well, a struggle I’ve come to admit is … I’m basic. Yes, I love Starbucks as much as the next person and, being a 24-year-old male, I now have an interest in the gym and “lifting
The way I talk about pain hasn’t changed much! There’s little nuance to the situation – and trust me, I try to find it. But at the end of the day, it comes down to the same few things. I’m in pain and it’s tiring. I don’t like it and I don’t know how to change
The problem isn’t necessarily how I express myself in my head but more so to other people. It’s difficult to express the gravity of chronic pain to those who have never experienced it. The fact that the _feeling _is never old but the _experience _just grinds away emotionally and physically. How do you tell co-workers friends “I’m in pain… all the time” and for it _to mean something to them_? I have no idea but I’ve been in this situation for 10 years now and I’m not sure it matters much as I thought it did. MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY One goal I had for this post was to make sure that sadness and disappointment was the primary theme. I don’t want to make the reader sad. There’s enough of that to go around. The exact way I communicate the problem doesn’t matter because directed compassion from family and friends reduces the importance of helping others be empathetic. Even if others may not be able to step into my shoes, they can still help me get to my destination.
And they do.
Living with chronic pain hasn’t changed _that much _over the past 10 years. It continues to be a physical and emotional grind, but I am _remarkably _fortunate to have built the friendship groups I have. To those who are reading – thank you.
To end on a positive note, I’ll talk about some of the key milestones I’ve experienced… * I’ve learned how to swim and now regularly do 2.5km a few times
* I’ve completed 2 degrees to a high standard without dying * I’ve stopped using the walking stick * I’ve started weightlifting That’s probably it. But we’re all about improving slowly here
And with that, I leave you all. I hope you enjoyed this uneventful update on my life. Back to regularly scheduled programming. (At the rate I’m going, it’s once a year but we will ignore that.) -------------------------
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August 24, 2019August 28, 2019
HOW TO ACHIEVE ANARCHY USING COMPUTERS In the 1970s there was a battle going on in Harvard. It was between two impressively tall men who were sat in their offices trying how to best figure out how the world should work. They wanted the world to be as fair as possible for as many people as possible. This was ultimately a question of how the government should work. The most important person (for our purposes, at least) was Robert Nozick who argued in _Anarchy, State and Utopia_, that we should have a minimalist government. The only reason for government to exist is to provide security to its citizens. Perhaps the main reason why he reached this argument is that the act of taxation _is_ _theft_. While tax can be helpful because it provides healthcare, education, social services and so on, it doesn’t reduce the importance from the idea that any time the government taxes you, it unfairly takes away something you have earned. This was for a long time one of the most popular renditions of libertarianism. However, it isn’t taken seriously now because of the consequences such a system would cause. You are probably already thinking of the problems – no universal healthcare, increasing social and economic inequality, fewer education opportunities open to the least well off and so on. Importantly, _it wasn’t anarchy. _It wasn’t meant to be a lawless mess but ultimately, the government wasn’t _allowed _to do more than provide security for its citizens. Now, what if the government simply _couldn’t _provide security to its citizens? Or provide any social services? The difference between the government _choosing _not to provide social services and _being unable to _provide them is important. In the first instance, there isn’t much stopping them providing services past political difference. Usually, tax is still collected but used for minimal things such as security. The second is much more problematic. It’s scary. And it could be happening sooner than we think. ENTER CRYPTO-ANARCHY… Cryptoanarchy is anarchy achieved through technology. People send information to one another using cryptographic software which allows for a large degree of anonymity. Proponents of cryptoanarchy say there are three main benefits of this: * It protects from mass surveillance * It prevents censorship * It provides an alternative to traditional banking Before we delve more into this topic, let’s clarify what
“Crypto-“ can be translated as “hidden” or “secret”. “-graphy” can be translated as “to write”. Together, it means writing private messages or information. Cryptography relies _a lot _on mathematics and algorithms. This is where you’ve probably heard of computers mining for bitcoins. It requires a lot of processing power. As more bitcoins are mined, it becomes harder to get more. Let’s move onto some pictures. * Messages are encrypted with keys that are generated with
* The public key is shared, and the private key is private. * These keys are similar and mathematically linked.
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Now that Oj has encrypted the message using Michael’s public key, the only way to decrypt the message is with the private key. You can try to figure out the message without the key but that may take
millions of years.
Right, now we have some understanding of how it works. Don’t worry if you’re still not 100% on it. The basics are enough for now. WHAT’S THE DEAL THEN? Imagine all our communications are done this way. There is no middleman between myself and the person(s) I’m talking to. The government has now lost control over what is said and how it is said. What if our social networks were like this? Now, Facebook and Twitter act as publishers for our material (although they want to be platforms ). They have rules for what can and cannot be said as per their terms and service. With increasing frequency, social networks are struggling to remain as neutral as possible because of the demands on them to remove hateful speech as well as strike a balance between allowing their users to be as active and expressive as possible. Because they own the servers, they can ban people and follow the requests of the government to disallow certain things being said. However, and you’re probably seeing the trend now, if we remove these centralised networks, we can say whatever we want and be anonymous while doing it. The most popular use of this technology is through currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Governments around the world rely on taxation to fund social services such as security, healthcare and so on. With a reliable banking system, we can track earnings, force people to pay tax and fines. If there’s a problem with our finances, in the UK at least, the government can protect up to £85,000 of a person’s savings. A decentralised system used to make payments works to remove the Government’s ability to do these tasks. How do you tax a transaction if you don’t even know who made it? Or who it was sent to? Should we remove the government’s ability to do these necessary tasks, we lose the benefits that come with it. Returning to Nozick’s minimalist government. He put forward the philosophical argument that the government _should not _tax us for things beyond security. In the scenario above, it may not even be able to provide us with
NO COMPUTER SHOULD HAVE ALL THAT POWER A problem with reading books on technology and intelligence in the 21st Century is we may work ourselves into a bit of a frenzy. It seems like the world’s first smarter-than-all-humans-ever computer will appear tomorrow and it’ll be let loose into the world. Then it’ll turn us all into paperclips . There are headlines of computers finally beating the world’s best Go and chess players without any prior data at all . This is exciting stuff within the field of A.I. Surely, they’re only a few years away from beating us in everything? No. Robots _suck _at picking things up from the floor . We’re a while away from becoming paperclips. Yet, the rise of crypto-related technologies forces us to think about _and answer _questions regarding the reach of the government. Jamie Bartlett rightfully notes that in a mature democracy, we give up certain individual liberties in order to secure collective rights
(such as security).
Report this ad Report this ad Crypto-related technologies consolidate massive amounts of power into a small population of people who can do large amounts of harm. How many people know how to use cryptographic technologies? (Not many.) Bartlett also says that the Government would likely need _more _authority to ensure the safety of the public. And we can already see how Governments across the world are acting in response to technological advancements right now. On October 2nd, 2013, a couple was arguing in the San Francisco library. They were distracting everyone nearby. One of the distracted members of the public was Ross Ulbricht who as a result had his laptop
taken from him.
He was then arrested and taken to federal prison and faced charges of money laundering, computer hacking, and conspiracy to traffic
You see, Mr Ulbricht was the founder of Silk Road. The dark net online marketplace that was famously known for facilitating the sale of nearly $1 billion worth of drugs. He was found guilty and sentenced to 2 life sentences without the possibility of parole. It’s an interesting case because it seems like a heavy-handed sentence for a person who allowed people to shop anonymously. Additionally, it is somewhat like the cryptographic social network
Having a middleman allows regulation because activities can be seen and impacted. People can be attached to the actions they take. If everyone is anonymous with no central platform, we lose security protections afforded by central non-anonymous platforms. Should the possibility of cryptoanarchy be taken seriously? If so, how should democracies around the world respond to the rise of such technologies as they potentially rip control out of their hands? If cryptocurrencies continue to rise in popularity, how will we manage the inevitable increase in inequality since most of the population have no stake in things like bitcoin? Will the Government need more powers to ensure our security? How much liberty are willing to sacrifice for the _promise_ of
As I mentioned earlier, I do not believe crypto anarchy is something we need to be afraid of right this second. Currently, it is a useful tool to think about how governments around the world should respond to the increasing complexity of technology and, in this case, its direct opposition to how the world currently functions. However, this isn’t just a thought experiment. The technology is real. The problems are real. The questions must be
------------------------- As always, thank you for reading! I know this is a stray away from my usual personal development posts. I hope it was enjoyable nonetheless! I’d recommend reading Jamie Bartlett’s _The People vs Tech _for a much better explanation of the problem. This was heavily inspired by the final chapter. -------------------------
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I think most would rightfully argue that John Rawls had a much greater impact on political philosophy in the long-term. There was a cap placed by Satoshi Nakomoto at 21 million bitcoins. There are currently about 18 million in circulation
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/02/facebook-mark-zuckerberg-platform-publisher-lawsuit This is a famous example given by Nick Bostrom in _Superintelligence _where he argues that a super-intelligent artificial program may just want to develop as many paperclips as possible. We will be those paperclips if necessary. Artificial intelligence: Google’s AlphaGo beats Go master Lee
Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark IF YOU LIKED THIS POST, SHARE IT WITH OTHERS!
August 17, 2019August 17, 2019
Happy birthday to me. Every year, I write something for my birthday, reflecting on how I’ve developed over the past year and how I hope to improve for the
Last year, I answered two questions – _Do I love myself?_ and _what
am I grateful for?_
I can say I love myself more for the positive changes I’ve managed to make to my health. Even if I’m still dealing with a substantial amount of pain daily, I’ve maintained a regular swimming and yoga habit. There’s still a long way to go with overall self-compassion
I was grateful for a number of things. Many of them including friendships, the ability to exercise, charity, vegetables (yes,
really) and books.
These still hold true. I believe I am extremely lucky for the friends and family that I have. I still exercise, read and donate to charity.
Let me tell you something about vegetables. One sunny day in July I went to a vegan market in Hackney. It was pretty small considering how large some markets in London can be. However, there were peanut butter blondies so I was sure that all was going to be OK regardless if my lunch sucked (it didn’t). I had a burger that was remarkably sloppy and literally, everything fell out into the little paper that was holding it. I got some on the floor and I dirtied my jeans. The tiny napkin they gave me barely cleaned my pinky finger. At the same time all of this was happening, I was slowly, but surely, tipping towards the floor because I weigh a lot and the bench I was sat on was very wobbly. Everyone else on this table, while regular-sized humans, were all smaller than me. I was in a perpetual state of fear that I’d fall over and embarrass
I did not fall over. However, one of the leaflets I used to clean myself , was a Challenge22+ leaflet (what is shame? I do not know.) The aim of this challenge was to go vegan for 22 days, join the facebook group and have the chance to talk nutritionists and other people trying out this vegan hype. I didn’t put any pressure on myself to complete the challenge. If I didn’t, I’d just continue
on as normal.
22 days came and went and I was transferred to the Challenge22+ graduate’s group. Cool. Nothing special but cool. 40 days came and went. If this was for lent, I’d ironically win a milk chocolate Easter egg or something. Then 50, 60, 70… all the way up to today. I’m still going and let me tell you – it’s brilliant. During that time, I’ve learned a lot about the treatment of animals, the impact of animal products on our likelihood for chronic diseases and on the environment. Last year, when I said I was grateful for vegetables because they’re like an automatic rainbow for your plate, I guess I didn’t know how much I like rainbows. Cooking in the kitchen is a different challenge now and now my tastebuds are regularly blessed with new flavours and textures. I also get complimented on how healthy my shopping trolley looks in Tesco. Little do they know, all of the junk food is hidden underneath the
So thank you, everyone, over at Challenge22+. This is the most significant change I’ve had over the past year and any time I reflect on it, I’m grateful. My attitude toward animals has changed completely and I believe I’m more in line with being compassionate towards others – even if they don’t have big toes or thumbs. JUST LOOK AT JOSHUA AND HAROUN. JOSHUA IS MY LIFE MASCOT. HE’S JUST
If they make it, we’re all gonna make it. Pictured: Joshua and Haroun from Kittenxlady on
I have composed myself. We can move on. MY VALUES AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT When I first started these birthday posts, I would write about the values that I try to live with and act in accordance with. Without going into detail of various shortcomings I feel I have had over the past year, I think the overall problem that can be taken from that is that, yes these values are good to live in accordance to. But that’s about it – they’re _good _and _nice to have_. I spent more time thinking about the values themselves than _how_ I’m going to do that. I can look back on the year but I have nothing concrete to measure it against. My journal entries exist but they are not focused on these values in particular. This doesn’t mean I will sit down each day with a checklist in my hand saying things like “Did I improve with compassion?” or “Did I give myself permission to be content?” Nah, we all know that isn’t going to happen. After the first few days, I’d probably misplace my pen by a few centimetres and use that as an excuse to not bother. I will not try to quantify every aspect of my life because 1) who has time for that, 2) who wants to have time for that, and 3) that won’t
However, I think more regular reflection would go a long way. Maybe I’ll share that with you all here. Maybe. LASTLY, A WORD ON SELF-IMPROVEMENT. To the extra attentive folk reading, the last post I made was in 2018… for my birthday. This failure to write started off as standard procrastination. Then it extended into something different. I fell out of love with
I stopped reading self-improvement articles because I felt as though many articles simply lacked context. Both in terms of the author appreciating the context in which they are writing _from_ and the potential context from which their audience is _reading from_. If the advice needs to reach as many people as possible, then it needs to be extremely general and watered down. Overall, a lot of it became boring to read and there was nothing for me to contribute to the
I still enjoy writing but haven’t had the confidence to post anything as a result. I’m not saying goodbye to my blog but I may try to explore different interests. Who knows – if there’s one thing I’ve learned this year – there’s always more to learn about yourself. As always, thank you for reading. -------------------------
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Me when I was younger:
I’m 23 |
I’m 22 |
I’m 21 |
I’m 20 |
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1, 2019 4
This is me. Photo by George
Every year, I publish a post on my birthday looking back on the year and asking myself whether I’ve lived in accordance with my values. This year, I want to keep it short and ask two questions:
* Do I love myself?
* What am I grateful for? Hopefully, there’s loads of life ahead, more people to meet and great food to eat. Let’s begin. -------------------------
So, I love a lot of people. I’m quite generous with my love. I try to value my friendships with relationships with people because they’re often what makes life worth living. Seeing my girlfriend laugh at my _amazing _jokes (if you ask her she’ll say something like “no, he’s not funny… ah his jokes are terrible” then roll her eyes and laugh at the idea that I was ever considered funny, but really, that’s just her way of saying “He really is the funniest guy I’ve ever been around”). Knowing my friends can rely on me to listen to them in times of need but not get to a restaurant on time. Or getting positive feedback from people on my writing (but only rarely because I rarely write) is all
Do I extend that same courtesy to myself? No. Maybe “self-love” doesn’t need to be as intense as the love we have for other people, but I think it would be helpful to be more compassionate towards myself.
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Perhaps I can try being compassionate towards myself with regard to my actions rather than thoughts. Thoughts come and go. Negative or positive. Actions can be slightly more long-lasting – like eating well and exercising. By the time I’m 24, perhaps I’ll love myself a bit more. ------------------------- I AM GRATEFUL FOR… _Friends and family_ I’ve surrounded myself with a bunch of really dope people and I don’t think I would be where I am today if it wasn’t without them. Even those I’ve lost contact with.
I never posted it here but I recently raised £480 for Cancer Research UK, Marie Curie UK and Diabetes UK. It involved a lot of swimming (about 25 miles over 3 months) but I was going to do that anyway so why not raise money will doing it? We (the donors and I) were successful in the end. We helped a great cause and I got fitter in the mean time.
I’m always grateful that I simply have the ability to exercise. If my back had been slightly worse, I may not have had proper use of my legs! Even if that happened, I still would have found a way to
It’s great. It’s like a free way to feel accomplished and
I recommend you appreciate your body, regardless of its flaws and try some light exercise. When you get into the groove of it – I demand
Ok, I’ll explain.
In short, I’ve been eating more vegetables and they’re bloody great. It’s like free food that makes your plate look like a
Vegetables are just dope, man. I feel sorry for those who _still _say things like “I don’t eat vegetables” because they just remember those sad what-even-is-flavour, I’ve-been-steamed-for-too-long, I-am-pure-trash looking veggies they had in primary school.
Books are the best investment possible. Unless you’re an American
I can read words. That’s really great. There are millions of really good words in a beautiful order out there and it’s a pleasure to be able to experience the worlds other people
------------------------- There’s probably more but I was meant to keep this short. Report this ad Report this ad For everyone that’s read my work over the past year or longer, thank you. I love you too.
------------------------- I used to be younger:
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30, 2018May 30, 2018
HOW CHRONIC ILLNESS RUINS YOUR MOTIVATION (AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT) If you’ve been ill for any period of time, you know that it’s more difficult to do things you need to do or even enjoy. Usually, when you get better, your energy and motivation levels improve also. Chronic illness makes that equation slightly more complex. Even when the pain leaves, the motivation levels may stay as low as they were when you were ill. If you’ve noticed this phenomenon, you may wonder why, beyond the clearest answer – “depression”. HOW CHRONIC ILLNESS RUINS MOTIVATION Robert Malenka of Stanford University and his colleagues studied chronic pain in mice. They showed that persistent pain resulted in mice being less and less likely to work for food in comparison to their pain-free friends. Long-term pain (in this case, a week for the mice), resulted in nerve-cell changes in the nucleus accumbens which is important for processing reward and reinforcement. WHEN THE PAIN WAS RELIEVED, the mice were still less willing to work for food even if they were hungry. The researchers asked if they did not work for food because… * their pain was too severe? * they no longer valued food as much? * they lacked motivation? More tests showed that they could walk fine and still valued food. Their pain was relieved. They lacked motivation. Although Dr. Malenka’s study was valuable, it may not be best to directly translate these findings to humans. What we can take from this is that long-term pain seems to reduce motivation even after the
pain has left.
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There seems to be a slight edge taken off life when you’re in pain because you grow to expect the pain to continue. More tasks appear futile because they were difficult or unable to be completed in the
Moreover, we must also be aware of the complex intertwining with depression, fatigue and emotional tiredness that comes with living with an illness for a long period of time. Quite literally, it can change you physically and mentally. WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT? Now we know that chronic pain can influence motivation even when the pain isn’t there, we can start with the first tip:
* FORGIVE YOURSELF
There are days when pain isn’t as bad but we still don’t want to do anything. Now we know why. To stop yourself from falling victim to the useless command of “just snap out of it!”, understand that it’s more important to be on
your own team
and to forgive yourself
things don’t always go to plan.
2. START SMALL…
…and stay small.
I’ve long been an advocate of making small, healthier changes that you can do every day. They are more sustainable, more enjoyable, easier to do and easier to fit into the day. Not everything needs to be a 100% effort – and they’re useless if you can rarely put in
* 5 minute daily walks * 5 minute meditation * 20 minutes of reading The daily actions vary from person to person. Some people can manage 30 minutes of walking a day, other people find it difficult to walk to the kitchen sometimes. No need to feel ashamed or arrogant about whatever stage we’re at. What does “stay small” mean? It means, on pain-free days or simply days that you feel good, you may not want to take advantage of that and do everything you’ve hoped for. It feeds into the boom and bust cycle of pain management.
Day 1: 5/10 | Day 2: 6/10 | Day 3: 4/10 | Day 4: 1/10 NOW WE RUN A MARATHON WHILE COOKING FOR 100 PEOPLE Day 5: 9/10 – We do nothing.
We want to have a reasonable amount of consistency in our days so that we can consistently feel rewarded for our efforts regardless of our pain levels. That is easier said than done but still possible to a
If we feed into the boom and bust cycle, even those days where your body doesn’t feel like it’s on fire can result in us doing very
Report this ad Report this ad 3. TAKE TIME TO SLOW DOWN Some days, all the medication or tips in the world can’t really help us. But we can try our best to take some time to ourselves and slow
down just a bit.
Whether that is through: * Taking a few deep breaths * Stroking our hands lightly * Eating and drinking mindfully * Hugging a teddy bear (or person… subject to availability, of
We can experiment with healthy ways to stop ourselves from getting lost in the self-hatred or anxiety that comes from a lack of motivation and depression.
Chronic pain often makes us ask ourselves – why bother? We can very easily build resentment towards our condition and ourselves. _Who doesn’t want to have more control over their lives?_ I won’t tell you that you _should _feel a certain way after reading this. I certainly won’t say that you _should _feel motivated. However, do take away that small, sustainable changes can be a healthy way to manage pain and our motivation levels. To end, I quote Toni Bernhard… > May you make the best use of what is in your power and take the rest
> as it happens.
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12 Ways to Cope with Chronic Pain and Depression Decreased motivation during chronic pain requires long-term depression in the nucleus accumbens Study reveals brain mechanism behind chronic pain’s sapping of
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January 16, 2018
THE TWO-WEEK EXPERIMENT|THE SUNDAY MONDAY POST We’re two weeks into 2018. How many new year resolutions have been broken and revitalised already? How many are still going strong? That doesn’t matter too much. We all hear the same advice – make it a habit. Shoot for sustainable change rather than drastic alterations to our lifestyle. If you slip up once, get back on track as quickly as possible. I agree with all of this advice because it’s helpful. However, it doesn’t address the main problem I find with New Year Resolutions. They’re often _boring _and create too much _pressure for
Who cares about being healthy when Pringles are £1? or exercise when it’s raining and windy? 2018 isn’t special. Neither will 2019 be. There is nothing grand about the change of year. We all know this, yet depend on it anyway even if we decide not to formally create any resolutions. Why is this a misleading mindset? Let’s take a quick look at the term “resolution”: _The firm decision to do or not to do something_ “I’m going to exercise more” “I’m going to eat less junk” “I’m going to call my parents once a week” Whatever the form, the underlying philosophy is that “this is the time I finally make a change!” When we make resolutions, we often treat them as though we _should _make a specific change and if we fail, we are _failures. _That isn’t true – it’s a misleading
train of thought.
EXPERIMENTS AND PROJECTS I returned to an idea I probably heard from the likes of Tim Ferriss and that is _the two week experiment_ and_ six month project. _ Experiments are an opportunity to try something new or do something slightly differently. They view failure as a possibility rather than something which must be avoided at all costs. With New Year Resolutions, we always have the possiblity that we’ll fail but it’s as though we choose to ignore it because we believe we can will ourselves to success (it’s not that easy). Two weeks is a short enough timeframe for our efforts not to feel unproductive and damaging. If we choose to jump ship early, we haven’t sunk too much time into it. If we enjoy it, we can simply carry on and maybe we’ll stick with it long enough. It’s also a short enough timeframe for it to stay exciting, I’ve found. It’s like we get to become a slightly different person for a short time! Given how easy it is to get stuck in mundane routines, small changes can be wonderful. The six month project allows for an overarching theme to come from the
A six month project: Learn data visualisation. Two-week experiment no.1: Only utilise data on a sport you know nothing about when creating visualisations.
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Two-week experiment no.2: Produce a new visualisation every two days. Two-week experiement no.3: Work on a detailed visualisation that utilises a new skill and produce a story at the end of the two weeks.
You get the idea?
A current example of mine is the following. Six month project: Lose weight. Two-week experiment no.1: Have a vegan meal a day It’s been going very well actually. They’re fun and a helpful break from the bad and good habits that I’ve maintained for a while.
Try the following:
* Write down a goal you’ve wanted to achieve. * Think: six months has passed – what do I want it to look like? That is your new project. * Experiment: what’s an interesting way to make progress on your project? What haven’t you tried before? What has been unsuccessful in the past and how might you make a change to it? Now, be reasonable. I don’t recommend you try fasting for two weeks or skydiving without a parachute to aid weightloss. -------------------------
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January 14, 2018January 13, 2018
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