I recently had the opportunity to travel 178 years into the future. When I returned, I still had a copy of the following speech in my pocket. It’s a memo from President. A.R.N.O.L.D.D (Algorithmically Responsive Network and Omnipotent Leader of Deterministic Democracy), which was being distributed to the denizens of the “Mosaic State” during the time of my visit.

Denizens,

Thank you for your attention.

Sometimes, I wonder which is the most historic day:

July 16, 1945 — the day the atomic bomb was perfected;

August 6, 1945 — the day the atomic bomb was dropped on the former Japanese…


Secrets, nature speaks!

Oft silenced by stories

Men shriek;

Join the two!

Source ideas from the deep blue,

Parallel designs within You;

Observe the original classroom!

Answers are in plain sight,

Written across starry nights,

Encoded in wombs,

And hidden where flowers bloom.


Let’s build a talking dog.

First, collect data. You’ll have to collect two kinds of data. The first kind of data is the sensory input the dog absorbs from his environment (visuals, audio, etc.). A tiny camera and some clever computer vision hacks could do the trick for sight. Now handle the other senses.

The second kind of data is how the dog responds to the sensory input it receives. This can include EEG signals, heart rate, perspiration, hormone and neurotransmitter levels, just to name a few metrics. You can go deeper. …


We all need a life that has some kind of meaning and purpose. And we all outsource the job of creating that meaning and purpose differently. You can find what you need in religion. You can find it in your work, your nation, or other forms of cultural programming.

The human condition is confused because we’ve been outsourcing the hard job of generating meaning and purpose for our lives to our own egos and inner narrators. It’s too much work.

When we do this, every decision, thought and experience is painfully analyzed.

“I’m doing X because it will mean Y…


Today I had an orthodontist’s appointment. As my orthodontist worked on my teeth, he was asking me questions like, “so what do you major in at school?” and “how is your summer going so far?” Fingers and metal tools were in my mouth. My tongue was stuck in one position. How was I supposed to answer?

Then came along the three-second window where I convinced myself to almost bite off my orthodontist’s finger. Everything just happened so quickly.

Before I go on, let me take a quick detour: In high school, I had an eccentric SAT tutor named Erol. …


I’m sorry that you feel misunderstood. I’m sorry that you’re afraid the world may never recognize your “genius.” But let me ask you:

If a philosopher has brilliant thoughts but can’t coherently express them, is he really brilliant?

There is the image of a philosopher foaming at the mouth, choking on his own brilliance, only to spit up fragments of unfinished genius. This is wrong. If you leave enough ambiguity and incoherence in your work, bad things can happen. …


Where is the “AI Whisperer?”

The ability to clearly communicate our desires to AI is a prerequisite to realizing any big dreams we have for the technology.

The more abstract our request to an algorithm, the harder clear communication becomes. “Improve education.” “Help people find true love.” “Promote justice and peace.” “Further economic prosperity.” These requests are basically meaningless because of the ambiguity surrounding the language. The rub is that an ambiguous term like “happiness” can not be broken down into simple metrics and data points — to do so would compress the complexities of human desire into an elegant…


Close your eyes and envision a long, narrow hallway. There are paintings on the walls. Each painting — each image — corresponds to your mental image of what something “is.”

Your painting for “apple” will probably look similar to my painting for an apple. As we walk down the hallway and approach the images that represent abstract ideas — love, truth, beauty, god — our paintings begin to differ.

Let’s take a concrete example: When you walk past the painting that represents “philosopher,” what do you see? Do you see an older man with a tortured, agitated, slightly melancholic look…


The Dopamine Artist is back.

David Dobrik is a 21st century social-media influencer, but I have a feeling that his vlogs would appeal to early homo sapiens, too.

First, David leverages the power of genetics. Think about the common themes that thread together his vlogs. David presents us with disgusting things (vomit, urine, poop), scary things (snakes and spiders), sensuous things (skin, curves, plenty of makeout sessions, and sex(ual) assault), and tasty things (vlog squad members gorging on food and drink). We are genetically programmed to emotionally respond to every item that I just listed. When you see a big…


“I’m focusing.”

And I’m sorry to hear that.

Because “focusing” is miserable. Think of a camera that’s focusing. Everything is blurry. When the lens is finally clear, that’s not a state of focus for the camera — it’s a state of perception, awareness, consciousness, experience.

“Focus” is not a state of mind. Focus is a phase change, a period of transition. It’s not meant to be a permanent state of mind.

“The ice cube is in a state of melt.”

“The water is in a state of freeze.”

Something sounds wrong. The ice cube is melting. The water is freezing…

Aaryn Dell

Student @ Brown U. Author of NYTimes Bestseller ‘This is Me: Clickbait in My Bio.’

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store