Automatic Automation

Automated system for building cars. Requires very little attention.
  1. Your automation team doesn’t always get it right. Sometimes you have to dig back through your previously automated habits and rewire them. Doing this requires humility.
  2. Your system has a mode called “act fast” that shuts down your slow-moving, reflective conscious attention entirely. If your brain matches a pattern for “danger”, then there are three options: fight, flee, freeze (or hide). This mode can save your life, so it’s really important to have it. But, here’s the bummer, your learning team is on furlough if you are in this mode. No conscious attention, no learning. So if you want to learn, you’ve got to learn to relax.
  3. Being an “expert” means that someone has made some domain of knowledge and skill completely automatic — and therefore unconscious. This is why experts rarely innovate, why some people think “beginner’s mind” is valuable, and why “stupid questions” are some of the best questions to ask. It’s also why I love the phrase “unconsciously competent”.
  4. Our automatic habits of categorization, reaction, knowledge, assessment and action actively defend themselves — they actively avoid being brought back into attention, where they might be updated or modified. This is why being “right” can feel so important. After all, you have invested your most valuable resource in creating this automation, and presumably it has some value, so why risk dragging it back to the space of conscious attention where it might get modified? Not only that, but if you start questioning the veracity and value of one habit, where might it all end? What a can of worms.
  5. In my opinion, the compression and optimization algorithms are “lossy”, meaning you don’t get the same high-resolution truth from an automated, unconscious assessment as you would from a slow, conscious use of attention. I would cheerfully assert that this is the source of many of our cognitive biases. But there’s a great trade-off in speed and efficiency, so don’t knock it.
  6. Your automated systems connect with ordinary waking consciousness very efficiently through feeling and emotion. If you have well-adapted systems, then your emotions are helping you. If you have some “maladaptive unconscious competencies” (MUCk) lurking in your subconscious, then emotions sourced in those MUCks are not helping you. Good therapy helps you deal with your MUCk.

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Nathan Otto

Nathan Otto

35 Followers

Awaken the incredible value and power of mastering your attention to create a life you love and a world that works for everyone.