The Idea Mashup

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There’s a great F. Scott Fitzgerald quote, that “the test of first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that that things are hopeless, yet be determined to make them otherwise.”

One of the patterns we see all the time in conversations about technology, social media and digital culture is that people often take one stance and stick with it: The merging of man and machine will solve all of humanity’s troubles… We’re addicted to our gadgets and we’re losing the ability for meaningful connections with other human beings… It’s good… It’s bad… It’s scary, exciting, dangerous, whimsical, delusional…

The thing is: That’s all true.

Life is changing at an ever increasing rate, and the possibilities are endless. But Spiderman said it best: With possibility comes responsibility. That means that now more than ever, we need to bring all of those disparate voices together, into one conversation, to have an open conversation about our technology, our lives, our relationships and our world. Think of it as a virtual round-table of innovators, artists, technologists and sociologists. And you, too.

We’re calling it the Idea Mashup. Each week, we’re pulling two interviews from Rdigitalife, and pairing them to spark new debates and ignite new conversations. From optimists dreaming of a techno utopia, to others with a more cautionary view of the future, we’re examining our increasing dependence on digital tools and the merging of man and machine, our changing communities and relationships, and the evolving way we tell stories and spread news.

Here’s an example. Two big ideas are getting circulated around the web a lot these days: adaptability and stability. As the world becomes increasingly uncertain in the face of natural disaster, economic turmoil, and dissapearing privacy, we yearn for stability, and yet we know that to survive we must be adaptable. It’s a paradox that seems insurmountable; these concepts appear to be contrarian, especially when our conversations focus on just one or the other.

In fact, one relies on the other. By being adaptable, we are able to form a new kind of stability for ourselves, and by finding a source of stability, we are more able to adapt to external change.

The same thing is true for conversations about the future. Ray Kurzweil and Sherry Turkle are both thought leaders in the debate over what role robots will, and should, play in our lives. Kurzweil predicts that by 2040, artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence, while Turkle questions why we’re so drawn to robot companions and caretakers, and what that says about our relationships with each other.

Too often we’re asked to choose sides. The optimist or the pessimist. The inevitability of a utopian or dystopian future. Could it be that they’re both right? That following the curve of exponential growth, artificial intelligence will continue to advance, but that as this happens, we have a responsibility to question our relationships with technology and with each other?

At Rdigitalife, we think it is only by bringing together the disparate – and often opposing – views, that we’ll find the right balance and create a future that we want to be a part of… and we invite you to join us, as we explore the space in between.

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