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Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at www.aycinena.com. She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

The Cognitive Era: Don’t be fooled, it’s already over

 
September 14th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


In a unique new partnership between the ESD Alliance and San Jose State University
, SJSU alum and legendary EDA VC Jim Hogan will be speaking on campus this coming Wednesday evening, September 20th, at 7:00 pm.

Hogan’s topic is revolutionary, the Cognitive Era, and the official message behind his talk is all things bright and beautiful:

“Cognitive science is a diverse field which is unified and motivated by a single basic inquiry: How does my education, career and life change in the Cognitive Era? How do people, animals or computers ‘think,’ act and learn? To understand the mind and brain, cognitive science brings together methods and discoveries from neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, philosophy and data/computer science.”

The unofficial message, however, ain’t so cheery. That’s because we already know how people think, act and learn. They do it all around us all the time, and so do we. We don’t need the sciences of neurology, psychology, linguology, philology, or digital-ology to explain it to us.

What we do need is for those disciplines to protect us from all that science and engineering has produced, the stuff that’s now overwhelming our sense of wholeness and health, sanity and serenity.

The stuff that’s altered our lives in the span of less than a single generation, so that we are now completely, totally, inescapably subsumed by digital everything.

The stuff that’s keeping us awake at night, beeping, glowing, informing, twittering, scrolling, chiming. The stuff that’s bothering and bullying our kids. Stuff that’s disturbing our ability to concentrate, interrupting meals, conversations, arguments, dinner dates, showers, and our ability to drive.

The stuff shouting at us while we’re pumping gas, sitting in the emergency room waiting to be seen for a bad cough, or trying to concentrate at the coffee shop while an endless stream of digital detritus pours down over us and everyone else around us.

blah blah blah blah. dot dot dot. dash dash dash. dot dot dot. blah blah blah. 0101010101010 …

The truth is, the Cognitive Era is exactly the opposite of all of this. The Cognitive Era is not the today or tomorrow where we literally can no longer hear ourselves think for all of the digital sludge that we’re swimming in 24×7.

Or worse yet, a today or tomorrow where a blob-that-ate-New-York-City-scaled AI/ML/AR/VR blobness overwhelm us.

A true Cognitive Era would be one in which we pull the plug, disconnect the battery, shut down our connection to the grid, turn off everything, and sit quietly with a good book and a cup of herbal tea. For like 10 minutes. Or even a day.

Just sit, think, look around, listen to ourselves, and maybe the somebody sitting next to us. Quietly, contemplatively, peacefully, thoughtfully think – and maybe watch the fog roll over the hills. Maybe silently stand in the darkness and watch the Milky Way go by.

That would be a Cognitive Era.

But as you and I both well know, that Cognitive Era is over. Fini. Kaput. Done. Extinguished. Forever.

Yes, Jim Hogan will be speaking at the Diaz Compean Student Union Theater on the San Jose State University campus next Wednesday and you should attend. Hogan’s an excellent speaker, and his talk will discuss what’s so revolutionary and wonderful about the next phase in human-driven progress. Yay.

But, oddly and ironically, it will also feature that most human of all cognitive behaviors. Which is why you’ll be going in the first place – to listen and learn, face-to-face, in real-time, so you can then go home and toss back a stiff one and wonder whether those real time encounters aren’t the real stuff of life.

Not all of this joining together of well-admired disciplines who want to own more of our cognition and our destinies.

Those well-admired disciplines we’re all part of, working so eagerly and diligently to bring an astonishing and absolute end to life as we’ve known it since human kind first emerged from the cave and started banging dots and dashes out on a big rock with a little piece of flint.

dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot …

Which translates to: If you want to attend the ESD Alliance/SJSU event, you can register here.

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