Use Your Brain
I recently watched a Netflix show on algorithms and it got me thinking. We tend to associate algorithms with computers, but they are all around us. Simply put, an algorithm is a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps.
A simple example is a recipe for brownies. You buy the brownie mix and other ingredients, follow the steps on the box, and thirty minutes later indulge in tasty brownies.
When you were a baby, it didn’t take you long to figure out the algorithm for getting your diaper changed or getting a snack. All you needed to do was cry and a parent magically appeared to take care of your needs. Almost everything we do — or want to do — in life is defined by an algorithm:
Make a Career: 1. Get good grades in high school; 2. Apply to college, meet the admission requirements, and get accepted; 3. Get good grades in college; 4. Graduate, apply for positions, and go through the interview process; 5. Get an offer and accept; 6. Start working, make money, and pursue other opportunities to move up the career ladder.
Lose Weight on a Fad Diet: 1. Eat certain foods; 2. Severely limit other foods or cut them out altogether; 3. Lose weight; 4. Slowly add back forbidden foods; 5. Stay in maintenance mode for the rest of your life. 6. Go back to eating forbidden foods; 7. Gain weight back; 8. Try another diet.
Driver’s License: 1. Reach a certain age; 2. Take a written exam; 3. Take a driving test.
Find a Life Partner: 1. Hang out at places where singles congregate; 2. Go on dates; 3. Make a connection; 4. Date and get to know each other; 5. Fall in love; 6. Get married.
Become an Entrepreneur: 1. Spot a need in the market; 2. Develop a product to fill the need; 3. Patent product; 4. Form a company to bring the product to market; 5. Take on investors to increase liquidity; 6. Increase sales of the product.
Go on Vacation: 1. Buy airline tickets; 2. Reserve rental car; 3. Reserve hotel; 4. Plan logistics; 5. Pack
Retire: 1. Save money; 2. Invest well; 3: Don’t panic; 4: Withdraw 4% a year during retirement.
Much has been made in the press about machine-learning and artificial intelligence using algorithms to make us obsolete. Jobs that are routine and easily converted to algorithms — truck drivers, radiologists, cashiers, for example — will be the first ones to go, but after that it’s anyone’s guess.
What the technology companies get wrong is that we are not a set of algorithms — we are humans, flaws and all. The human brain contains over 100 billion neurons and no two are the same. This means that your brain is one of a kind and doesn’t think like any other brain in the world. This makes you incredibly unique.
While algorithms could replace your job, they can never replace your brain. The more you use your brain when performing your job, the more secure your job is. The brain is like a muscle — either you use it or it withers away.
Read books. Listen to music that inspires you. Study a variety of topics. Engage in deep conversations with your friends and family. Write a book. Play board games. Create twice as much content as you consume.
Use your brain and you’ll never have to worry about an algorithm replacing you.