Rules for humans in the age of automation

I recently read Futureproof by Kevin Roose. Kevin is a technology writer for The New York Times. The book has two parts to it; I skimmed through the first part but found the second part interesting. It is a list of nine rules designed to help us, humans, navigate a world increasingly run by machines.

I want to call out four of them that struck me as very insightful.

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Gottlieb and other tales of psychotherapy

Back in 2004, when I was in Bangalore and still fresh out of college, I was mesmerized by a book with a title that asked you to kill the Buddha if you met him. The murderous Zen title notwithstanding, the book was written by a psychotherapist who drew parallels between literary characters and his patients. I wanted to read more such books, but as I said, I was in India and it was 2004. Only in the last year have I delved deep again into the realm of psychotherapy.

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George Saunders: A Swim in a Pond in the Rain

Close to the end of A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, George Saunders looks back on a class from his graduate school. His professor, a short-story writer, gave a reading of Chekhov. Saunders didn’t know much about Chekhov then: he thought Chekhov’s stories were “mild” and “voiceless”. The professor reads three stories, and in doing so, brings Chekhov to life. After that reading, Saunders was not only convinced of the power of the short story, but also “desperate” about writing better short stories himself. [Read More]

Ishiguro: Klara and the Sun

We are all familiar with sci-fi stories of evil robotic overlords. I’m not into science fiction as a genre, yet I thoroughly liked the movies Ex Machina (2015) and The Matrix (1999). Both movies are nominally about artificial intelligence, but ask deep philosophical questions.

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Ghachar Ghochar, A Novella

I recently read Ghachar Ghochar, a novella by Vivek Shanbhag. The original is in Kannada, but I read the English translation by Srinath Perur.

The novel is slim; it runs to a little more than 100 pages. This is significant, because within these pages, the author still tells a wonderful story. It’s a story that leaves a lot unsaid, for the reader to fill in the details.

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