Monday, March 27, 2023


If there is one thing that seems clear to me at this point in my life, it's that you and I have a love-hate relationship with progress.

Many people might say they enjoy progress.

Progress and the colourful merry-go-round at the town fair have many things in common.

The gentle spin as the ride begins is delightful; we happily anticipate more to come; the slow swirl of the early rotation has us wanting more; a twirl that makes us flick our heads left and right to make sense of the scene beyond the prancing horses makes us tighten our grip on the pole; all too soon, we begin to have had our fill of the ride; any faster and we fear losing our grip... 

My grandfather was a published author. I only recently read some of this books. I can safely say that unless you studied French-Canadian literature at a Quebec university, you have never, ever heard of Oscar Masse.

I never met him, he passed three years before I was born.

The novel I am reading now, published in 1922, begins in his present but quickly shifts to explore what life was in the 17th century, in what was then neither Canada, nor the U.S.

Oscar began his book with his impression of progress. He wrote of the modern wonder of steam and electricity, how cars replaced his father's horse and carriage, cinema replaced theatre, how planes seemed destined to replace cars, and he foretold a crazy future where telephones might become wireless. His narrative then slips back in time, to the early days of the colony and he paints a picture of a very different world.

For many, 1922 has left no trace in our present. Here in Toronto, that past has been mostly erased as the new replaces the old at a crazy pace. The skyline seen from the lake no longer looks like what it did even ten years ago.

The truth is that all technology progresses at an exponential pace, whether it's the industrial revolution, or the digital one.

In large measure progress today is driven by computer chips, either directly, like our 'smart' phones, or indirectly where data networks, container shipping, and air travel result in our global economy. We have shrunk the world. North America, Europe, and Asia were, not that long ago, worlds apart, and now are only hours apart. What happens in Moscow and Beijing, affects the price of our bread and butter within just a few days.

Some of us want off that carousel. To return to a time that made more sense to us, when our neighbours were more like us, spoke like us, ate as we ate. When we didn't need to update our software, when our cars didn't sense their surroundings...

I have to admit that the pace of change once really frightened me, freaked me out, when I was sure that younger, computer-armed generations, would surely obliterate my career because computers and I were strangers.

I survived, unscathed, and even prospered, once I learned to type and made computers my friends. 

Today I gave up my morning bike ride in the sub-basement to share these thoughts with you.

I enjoy writing and sharing. It's something that allows me to express the essence of my self. To be artistic, to share my thoughts, and perhaps to persuade...?

ChatGPT4. What the heck...? What are you doing here?

Hey ChatGPT! Can I call you AI...? Write me an article about how the exponential pace of change is challenging our capacity to adapt, making people long for a return to simpler times.

In recent years, the world has witnessed a rapid and exponential pace of change in various aspects of life. The advancement in technology, globalization, and demographic shifts have accelerated the pace of change, making it challenging for individuals, societies, and even institutions to keep up. The exponential pace of change has been so rapid and unprecedented that it has made people long for a return to simpler times.

The capacity to adapt to change is an essential aspect of human life. However, rapid, complex, and unrelenting changes can overwhelm even the most adaptable humans. The exponential pace of change has been so rapid that people are struggling to adapt to its consequences. This struggle to adapt is evident in many aspects of our lives, including our social, economic, and political lives.

People's longing for a return to simpler times can be attributed to the fears and uncertainties brought about by change. The rapid pace of change has left people feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed by its negative impacts, and uncertain about the future. As technology and globalization continue to shape the world's landscape, people fear that they may be left behind if they do not keep up. For instance, the exponential pace of technological change has created anxiety about job loss, privacy concerns, and social isolation, making people nostalgic for simpler times.

The pace of change is also affecting social values and norms. The traditional social norms and values that have governed human societies for generations are undergoing rapid changes. The internet and social media have fundamentally changed how people communicate, interact, and form relationships. The traditional social norms that helped build communities and social cohesion now face significant challenges. This loss of traditional social norms is generating a longing for a return to simpler times when the community and interpersonal relationships were the backbone of society.

Moreover, the exponential pace of change is driving the demand for quick fixes and immediate gratification. People are used to getting anything they want, whenever they want it. This kind of instantaneous gratification is making people impatient, making them desire simpler times when life was more predictable and manageable.

In conclusion, the exponential pace of change is outpacing our capacity to adapt to it. As a result, people are uneasy about the consequences of change, and they long for a return to simpler times. However, change is inevitable, and we need to come up with strategies to adapt to it without losing the positive elements of our traditional values and norms. Rather than fighting or resisting change, we should embrace it, learn from it, and take steps to mitigate its negative effects.

Oh wow... Let's see... literally as I ate my breakfast, a) I searched on Google on my iPad for "ChatGPT"; b) I downloaded the app from the Apple App store;  c) I posed the question; d) I hit enter;  e) I waited maybe three minutes, maybe less, and BINGO! In all, in well under ten minutes I went from almost no knowledge or experience with AI, to that article.

The app wouldn't let me copy the output, or even my own input. I'm guessing that it "thinks" that it owns the copyright to my input as well as to its output? Let's see, as between one who sows the seeds and reaps the crop, that nature produces, who owns the crop, Mother Nature or MOI? I suppose that, for now, its intelligence is truly artificial.

I should add that it took my tools and my knowledge of computers to do a screenshot of the output, airdrop it to my desktop, feed the screenshot to my text scanner, edit the transcription in my word processor to remove spurious carriage returns, and paste it into blogger.

OK, so now I'm both lawyering AND bragging.

ChatGPT for its part just kept its mouth shut and instantly produced, claiming no credit, as far as I can tell.

So what do you think? Who wrote the better article? Was it me, or my 'buddy' AI? 

I spent hours, thinking, conceiving, writing, editing, preening, re-reading, tweaking, from 7:15 until I published this at 12:17.

AI puked out its text in mere minutes.

So that's now. And in two years, four years, a decade? If computers as we knew them spawned social media that might just be rotting society to its core, what will AI do?

I have no fear for my future. That's because I basically no longer have a future to speak of. I'll be 71 in June.

How does all this make you feel?

I'm curious.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023



This morning I was surprised.

"Surprise" is a word that gets lots of use. "I was surprised..." "we surprised him with..." "it was a surprise to learn..." "it was a nice surprise..." "I don't like surprises..." "it may surprise you...."

My surprise today happened on my morning P2 Loop.

No, it's nothing even remotely bad or disturbing. Besides, I do my best to be extremely focused and on the lookout for cars and people coming and going.

What surprised me this morning was a first for all of my 286 P2 Loops to date: another cyclist came down the ramp from P1. Hard to tell, but I suspect he was as surprised to see me, as I was surprised to see him.

I am posting this because it's an opportunity to explore what a surprise is. I think that it's something sufficiently out of the ordinary that it lights up our neurons as soon as it happens. Not always enough to provoke a significant physical reaction like a jerk, or a gasp, or a shout, but certainly enough to feel a psychic jolt of a kind. It's definitely a physical experience that stems from our perception of our environment.

We become familiar with our environment. We develop complex sets of expectations. It's our way of navigating our world, of predicting the imminent future. The surprise is unexpected. This encounter certainly fit that bill.

He was a serious cyclist, perhaps a commuter returning home. Our paths crossed in an instant. We were traveling in opposite directions, me northbound approaching the ramp, he exiting the ramp to head southbound. I assume he was headed to P3 because after that brief moment I didn't see him again.

We were alike in many ways as far as I recall. Both men, both dressed in shades of dark grey, both wearing gloves and black helmets, both alert, and very focused on riding, both moving at a decent pace. Both silent in our movement.

We were also quite different. His was a road bike, mine a Brompton. Mine had lights fore and aft, his had none.

Now I wonder how he would describe our flash encounter.

Was he surprised?

Happy Spring!

Thursday, March 16, 2023

What's a million?

I'm glad I asked.

Clearly it depends on what you count.

Stars? A million is nothing, less than a drop in the universe.

Grains of sand? Nada. Maybe a sand castle on a beach?

Humans? Humans are never nothing. We are just the most amazing and bewildering things in the universe... as near as we can tell, we think. It's likely that many of the cities boasting of a million or more people, are places you have never even heard of.

Money? Ha... not what it once was, that's for sure.

So what's this particular million?

It's actually the millionth

The millionth Brompton bicycle rolled off the Brompton assembly at the sacred plant in London that all Bromptons come from, including mine. I 'liked' (loved? hearted?) the video of course and just had to comment.

I recommend that you watch the video too. It's obviously historic. It will be even more so if King Charles heeds my advice and knights Andrew Ritchie, Brompton's brilliant creator.

Feel free to chime in and poke King Charles in favour of Sir Andrew Ritchie.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

"Good morning"

"Good morning" are two words that I give, and receive, multiple times during my morning P2 Loop.

They bring happiness, and start my day on the right note.

This morning an enthusiastic dog turned, looked me in the eye as I was passing and woofed a few woofs while nodding and wagging its tail. I took that as "Good morning" so I said "Woof, woof" with a smile, which I took to be pooch also for "Good morning".

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.