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4 Kinds of Mistakes

Source: MindShift, Nov 2015

An appreciation of mistakes helps us overcome our fear of making them, enabling us to take risks. But we also want students to understand what kinds of mistakes are most useful and how to most learn from them.

The stretch mistakes

Stretch mistakes happen when we’re working to expand our current abilities. We’re not trying to make these mistakes in that we’re not trying to do something incorrectly, but instead, we’re trying to do something that is beyond what we already can do without help, so we’re bound to make some errors.

Stretch mistakes are positive. If we never made stretch mistakes, it would mean that we never truly challenged ourselves to learn new knowledge or skills.

We want to make stretch mistakes! We want to do so not by trying to do things incorrectly, but by trying to do things that are challenging. When we make stretch mistakes we want to reflect, identify what we can learn, and then adjust our approach to practice, until we master the new level of ability. Then we want to identify a new area of challenge and continue stretching ourselves.

The aha-moment mistakes

Another positive type of mistake, but one that is harder to strive or plan for, is the aha-moment mistake. This happens when we achieve what we intend to do, but then realize that it was a mistake to do so because of some knowledge we lacked which is now becoming apparent.

We can gain more aha moments from mistakes by being reflective. We can ask ourselves What was unexpected? Why did that result occur? What went well and what didn’t? Is there anything I could try differently next time? We can also ask people around us for information we may not be aware of, or for ideas for improvement.

The sloppy mistakes

Sloppy mistakes happen when we’re doing something we already know how to do, but we do it incorrectly because we lose concentration. We all make sloppy mistakes occasionally because we’re human. However, when we make too many of these mistakes, especially on a task that we intend to focus on at the time, it signals an opportunity to enhance our focus, processes, environment, or habits.

The high-stakes mistakes

Sometimes we don’t want to make a mistake because it would be catastrophic. … It is okay to see these events as performance events rather than as learning events, and to seek to minimize mistakes and maximize performance in these events.

SG: Nurturing an Innovation Culture

Source: StraitsTimes, Nov 2015

Singapore has to move progressively not only towards an economy driven by innovation, but also towards an innovative society.

Singapore also needs to change the culture in education – to move away from an obsession with children’s grades and focus more on giving them diverse experiences, he said.

“No one knows for sure how we get a creative people. But there is some consensus that diverse experiences in life, particularly early in life, do help.

“Diverse experiences and interaction with people from diverse backgrounds, that helps,” he said.

“And that means everything you do on the sports field, in the dance hall, in debate and even when you’re just daydreaming.”

Mr Tharman even took a couple of minutes out of his speech to endorse daydreaming, saying that the meandering of the human mind is not purposeless.

maximising the innovative potential of everyone in the team, whatever job they are doing. 

A Scotsman Turns American

Source: NYTimes, Oct 2009

If “American on Purpose” is, in part, a memoir about Ferguson’s alcoholism and his triumph over it, it is also an account of an addiction he’s unlikely to kick: his obsession with America. He first got hooked as a child, when NASA responded to his letter expressing interest in becoming the first Scottish astronaut by sending him a lavish book and two posters about space; he became intoxicated again when, thanks to the budget airline flights of Sir Freddie Laker, he visited New York as a teenager. His current success in the United States has only borne out his impossibly high opinion of the place.

To Ferguson, America is a land of boundless opportunity where even a guy with a thick Scottish brogue, a self-destructive past and a “creepy laugh” can tuck the nation into bed every weeknight and become rich and famous doing it.

Clay Christensen on Disruptive Innovation

Source: HBR, Dec 2015

Disruption is a process, not a moment in time.

Disrupters typically utilize different business models, not just different products or services, from incumbents.

Disruptive innovation does not guarantee success.

Critics point out that plenty of companies that Christensen deemed disruptive have failed. Christensen and his coauthors counter that the theory was never intended to be equated with success, saying it was intended to explain an approach to competition.

A company does not necessarily have to disrupt its core offering when it is being disrupted.

Nick Bostrom on AI

Source: The New Yorker, Nov 2015

a dense meditation on artificial intelligence by the philosopher Nick Bostrom, who holds an appointment at Oxford. Titled “Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies,” it argues that true artificial intelligence, if it is realized, might pose a danger that exceeds every previous threat from technology—even nuclear weapons—and that if its development is not managed carefully humanity risks engineering its own extinction.

Central to this concern is the prospect of an “intelligence explosion,” a speculative event in which an A.I. gains the ability to improve itself, and in short order exceeds the intellectual potential of the human brain by many orders of magnitude.

Bostrom’s contribution is to impose the rigors of analytic philosophy on a messy corpus of ideas that emerged at the margins of academic thought.

The people who say that artificial intelligence is not a problem tend to work in artificial intelligence. Many prominent researchers regard Bostrom’s basic views as implausible, or as a distraction from the near-term benefits and moral dilemmas posed by the technology—not least because A.I. systems today can barely guide robots to open doors.

… He came to believe that a key role of the philosopher in modern society was to acquire the knowledge of a polymath, then use it to help guide humanity to its next phase of existence—a discipline that he called “the philosophy of technological prediction.” He was trying to become such a seer.

As innovations grow even more complex, it is increasingly difficult to evaluate the dangers ahead. The answers must be fraught with ambiguity, because they can be derived only by predicting the effects of technologies that exist mostly as theories or, even more indirectly, by using abstract reasoning.

In people, intelligence is inseparable from consciousness, emotional and social awareness, the complex interaction of mind and body. An A.I. need not have any such attributes. Bostrom believes that machine intelligences—no matter how flexible in their tactics—will likely be rigidly fixated on their ultimate goals. How, then, to create a machine that respects the nuances of social cues? That adheres to ethical norms, even at the expense of its goals? No one has a coherent solution. It is hard enough to reliably inculcate such behavior in people.

True love means looking beyond the couple and out towards life

Source: Aeon, Feb 2013

for love to have a future, couples need to be able to move from falling in love to standing in love. Lovers must learn to embrace what lies outside their cosy twosome in order to survive.

How can the energy that romantic desire releases be directed outwards so that it feeds a passion not just for life together, but for life itself, led together.

Life is not perfected through love, as the romantic fantasy implies, but through love you can find more of life.

… the value of commitment in relationships, a commitment that provides a container for the ups and downs, allowing them to be worked through. There is no static ‘happily ever after’, but a continuing need to play together. It suggests that a good relationship comes from the future, not the past, as Aristophanes’ myth implies. Love is more made than found.

some lovers are blessed by what Plato calls an Anterotic dynamic. It is as if they are able to prise themselves apart from one another, stand back a little, and observe what is going on. A third space opens up between them. It brings an essential capacity for self-awareness.

A couple can work out not only how to live together but how to live well together

The words of the French writer and poet Antoine de Saint-Exupéry come to mind: ‘Experience shows us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking together in the same direction.’ As lovers, two people look only into each other’s eyes; as friends, they can look ahead together. They begin to see a life that lies beyond them and, supported by one another — now standing in love — they have the resources to step into the future together.

Triangular love, where space is made in a relationship for life (and love) beyond the confines of the couple, is the highest form of human love because it makes a good life possible.