“The complexity and urgency of the problems faced by us earth-bound humans are increasing much faster than our aggregate capabilities for understanding and coping with them.”
– Douglas Engelbart
What I take away from reading Engelbart’s “Augmenting Human Intellect” is not just his forethought and foresight into the future of computing, but his drive to make the world a better place. He focused not just on what we could do with computers, but why we should do it in the first place: to augment human intellect.
His insistence on calling computers “artifacts” strikes me as insightful, too — it emphasizes the machine as a tool, a thing to be used for a purpose.
But maybe most striking is his conviction that devoted time should be spent continually augmenting our collective intellect: each advancement should create opportunities for more advancement, an endless exponential augmentation.
Reflecting on my own life, my job, my use of technology, I’m dwelling on how much of my time is spent doing and how little is spent on focused thinking of how and why I could do better. Continual self-improvement — and larger world communal-self imrpovement (augmentation!) — should be one of life’s biggest goals, even if I’m (we’re) not very good at it (yet).