Randomness Makes Life Interesting – 7 Takeaways No. 129

5 Dice on a green felt background.
(Image: depositphotos.com)

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1. “ChatGPT had invented everything”

Here’s What Happens When Your Lawyer Uses ChatGPT – Benjamin Weiser – (The New York Times)

In a world full of misinformation the latest AI breakthrough is … more misinformation.

Obviously the quoted story seems obvious: don’t trust ChatGPT without checking it, and certainly don’t blindly copy/paste what it gives you into legal briefs. It’s a story we can all laugh at. Mostly.

But it’s a cautionary tale as well. When will we be able to trust AI generated content, and how will we know? The person using ChatGPT improperly even asked ChatGPT if what it had provided had been verified as true. ChatGPT lied and said “of course”, when in fact it had hallucinated multiple collections of false “facts”.

I suspect things are going to get bumpier before they get better. Exciting times, indeed.

Do this: Check your facts.

2. “Seeing order in what is actually chaos”

The Fallacy of a Just World – Lawrence Yeo – (More to That blog)

People abhor randomness. They’ll do anything to come up with explanations for why things happen rather than accepting that many things just happen randomly.

That there is justice in the world is one such construct.

When people believe in a Just World, they believe that the state someone is in – whether peaceful or miserable – is a consequence of one’s actions. That randomness isn’t the variable guiding the hands of time, but rather one’s agency. While this may seem intuitive, it’s becoming clear to me that the belief in a Just World is one of the leading causes of human suffering.

It’s a tough pill to swallow. While we can have an impact on our journey — we have some agency after all — we cannot control the results. Randomness happens.

I feel the concept is almost circling around the Buddhist and Stoic philosophies of focusing on what is truly in your control, and accepting the rest.

Do this: Remember that shit happens. (Sometimes it’s good shit, though.)

3. “Randomness makes life interesting.”

8 (Short) Stoic Quotes for a Better Life That’ll Make You Immune to Tragedy – Tim Denning – (Unfiltered by Tim Denning newsletter)

The day after capturing the Yeo takeaway above, this shows up in my inbox via Denning’s newsletter. I love a good … random … coincidence (which I suppose is redundant).

We’re not meant to do the same thing every day.

We’re not meant to get one year’s worth of experience and repeat it for 30 years and call it a career.

Denning’s talking mostly about work, but it applies to all aspects of life. Randomness really makes life interesting.

Do this: “Force random things to happen each day. Choose randomness.” (The rest of the article’s quite interesting as well.)

4. “The aversion to being suckered contaminates decision-making”

Don’t let them fool you – Tess Wilkinson-Ryan – (Aeon)

This went deeper than I expected. The initial premise is straightforward: being especially afraid of being suckered into something like a scam can turn into a phobia. There is such a thing as being too skeptical.

But the author takes it much further, and discussed research that shows just how irrational we are when it comes to a fear of being duped. That fear can then manifest in a variety of ways, including our basic prejudices.

the scams that trouble us in the day-to-day are squishier, more ambiguous, and sometimes just the figment of a politician’s imagination

And that’s the part that got me: crafty politicians (and others) leverage our fear of being taken advantage of to their own gain.

Do this: Be skeptical, but within reason.

5. “People would be so committed to misunderstanding you”

Pros and Cons of An “Invisible” Business – Jason & Caroline Zook – (What is it All For podcast)

The “invisible business” the Zooks talk about in this episode is one with a minimal or non-existent social media presence. They go through the pros and cons of running a business in that way (spoiler: it’s mostly pros, for them).

The takeaway above resonated because it’s so true everywhere there’s reader/user feedback. It’s particularly true on social media. Some people can be so incredibly invested in taking what you have to say and twisting it into something entirely different. No amount of clarification or explanation will help. Whether it’s because they refuse to be proven wrong, or are just acting the troll, they simply won’t, or can’t, suss out the truth from your statements.

It can be very frustrating.

Do this: Don’t be that person. Always keep an open mind, and try to understand, especially in the face of correction.

6. “The superpower for the second half of our lives”

Brené Brown, on the Tim Ferris Show, surfaced via the Makoism newsletter, Token Reminders issue.

It’s a podcast episode I’ll probably go back and listen to in its entirety, but the full quote that got my attention in Makofsky’s newsletter is this:

Curiosity is really the superpower for the second half of our lives because it keeps us learning, it keeps us asking questions, and it increases our self-awareness.

This resonates so hard with me because I encounter people almost daily, usually via my Ask Leo! work, that have simply given up. They’ve reached a certain age and have stopped caring. They’re waiting to die. How sad.

Do this: Be curious. Forever. Please.

7. “Being curious and noticing things”

How to slow down the passing of time – Leyla Kazim – (Substack newsletter)

This must be the serendipitous edition of 7 Takeaways. Just after reading the previous takeaway, I came across this one with the same message: embrace curiosity.

This is in the context of making time less frenetic. The author’s takeaway is … mindfulness.

Taking a moment to acknowledge the information your senses are transmitting to you – sights, sounds, tastes, touch, smells – stops your brain thinking about what happened yesterday or what you need to do tomorrow, and brings you right into the here and now.

And I have found this act of observation – of noticing things – seems to be a very effective way of slowing down the passing of time.

She admits that it’s a perhaps over-used term — “Oh, not that bloody word again.” — but the bottom line is that in this situation it’s the correct and appropriate term.

Do this: Pay attention to the world around you. Right now.

8. “Sometimes failure’s just not that bad.”

The Cost of Failure – Leo A. Notenboom – (Personal blog)

I originally wrote this some time ago, but I was reminded of it this week. It’s about a decision tool I now use often: considering the cost of failure. All failure is not created equal.

If the results of failure are inconsequential, the “cost” of failure is low. If so, perhaps the risk is more readily worth taking. On the other hand if the results of failure are painful to even contemplate, the “cost” of failure is high.

Do this: Consider the cost.

More random links & thoughts

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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