Craig Burton

Logs, Links, Life and Lexicon

Seoul Smog

There is a serious smog problem in Seoul Korea. Sensitive to this issue since we live here in Seoul. ( I love it here, but the pollution scares me.)

I’ve been dismissing the masks being worn as useless. I decided I need to speak from real information not assumption.

NPR published a study in 2016 to show just how serious things are.

2016 Particulate Index

Koreans worry much more about environmental issues (air pollution is #1 concern) that danger from North Korea. In fact, North Korean threats rank #5 in importance. Seoul has 10.1m people in an area that covers 12% of South Korea. One of the most densely populated and homogeneous cities in the world. There are some 22.8m cars in Seoul. Korean car emissions and manufacturing produce the most harmful emissions in Seoul.

To contrast, there are barely 3m people total in the state of Utah. There 8.6m people living in New York City.

The bottom line is to be protected from air pollution in Seoul, you must wear a mask capable of filtering out what is referred in international standards as PM 2.5. (particles 2.5 microns or larger) The cheap face masks most people wear do not even meet the requirements for PM 10 (particles of 10 microns or larger and according to Reuters–only 32% of the particulates are being filtered. That’s whopping 68% leakage.

Hardly being protective. In general, my assumptions were correct. Most masks are not effective and are merely a weak fashion statement. But after doing this quick study, I learned there are affordable solutions. There are usable masks (more expensive but effective) that can meet the PM 2.5 specs.

Know Your Mask Effectiveness Index–N95 or better.

Make sure you have masks that have a rating of N95 or better.

One of the touted benefits of iOS 12 is a new feature built into the system: Screen Time.

Screen Time is designed to help you manage the time you spend in front of your mobile device.

I fell for it. I admit.

I believed the hype that is telling us that we are globally out of control—duped by our smart phones.

Here is an example of the pervasive sentiment:

How to use Apple’s new Screen Time and App Limits features in iOS 12
Apple is making it easier than ever to cut back on app overload

We are being sold that we need to cut back on our use of social media and technology. This has become a common belief.

Like I said, I fell for it. I cringe when Screen Time reminds me every week how much time I spend on my mobile devices.

But something just doesn’t feel right to me about the whole idea that technology is bad for you.

Then I stumbled on a book that resonates with how I feel and think about technology and popular culture.

Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today’s Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter—Steven Johnson

This book has completely changed how I feel about Screen Time. I now revel in the numbers. We will need to change how we think about technology and popular culture—everything we know is wrong.

This is not a new book—2006. So, some of the references are stale, especially in light of what is happening in our culture right now. But if he were to go back and rewrite sections of the book to reflect what is happening now with social media, his case would just be stronger.

The Sleeper Curve

Mr. Johnson introduces the concept of the Sleeper Curve.

The Sleeper Curve: The most debased forms of mass diversion—video games and violent television dramas and juvenile sitcoms—turn out to be nutritional after all. For decades, we’ve worked under the assumption that mass culture follows a steadily declining path towards lowest-common-denominator standards, presumably because the “masses” want dumb, simple pleasures and big media companies want to give the masses what they want. But in fact, the exact opposite is happening: the culture is getting more intellectually demanding, not less.

 

The rest of the book makes the case why the hypothesis has merit.

This works for me on an abundance of levels.

I haven’t made the complete transition yet, but I finally found some language and discussion that is in alignment with how I feel.

AI Will Save the World

There, I said it. We are on the fertile verge of understanding how to use AI to our benefit like never before. To astronomically increase our ability to increase—not just our intellectual intelligence—but our emotional and social intelligence.

People often ask me about the future of AI. Most people believe AI is dangerous and will cause irreparable damage to humanity.

The exact opposite is happening. AI—more specifically AEI—will be a tool humanity uses to increase emotional and social intelligence like we have never imagined.

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