AI AI: Diffusion Models AI: Large Language Models AI: Transformers Futures Living

Navigating the Infinite

We will soon, if not already, be drowning in the Sea of Infinite Content!

It’s become clear that we’re heading into a world of infinite content – as if we aren’t already drowning in that sea of meaningless, automatically generated content. What was once a seemingly manageable stream of books, websites, and media is becoming a overwhelming tidal wave, threatening to erode the shores of human creativity. The age of innovation is impacted.

What’s moving us from today’s world of “just a lot” to our future of “way too much”? Why do I say we’re drowning in a sea of infinite content?

In two words: generative AI.

Since the launch last fall of ChatGPT (and many similar tools), it’s become increasing clear that we can now use these tools to churn out endless repetitive, low quality content. Indeed they can create spammy nonsense for themselves, with no regard for truth or diversity. All that matters is predicting the best next word.

The focus is on quantity over quality. So much garbage is being produced that it’s becoming harder to find meaningful information and creative art amidst the noise. Useful voices are being drowned out by the drone of algorithmic imitation of what’s already popular.

There is also the risk of misinformation as fake AI-generated content spreads. Propaganda and radicalization loom as nefarious actors exploit these tools. Jobs in creative fields disappear as AI replaces human creators and artists.

All this tidal wave of endless content needs is electricity. Power. And ever more semiconductors.

Where does this path lead us? What will become of creativity and originality if AI takes over? We must question how to harness infinite content ethically to serve humanity, not overwhelm it. The age of human innovation cannot be allowed to end under a sea of meaningless artificial content. We cannot lose what makes us human.

How can we ensure these technologies are used responsibly? How can we stem the tide before it’s too late? The debates must begin now.

And where will all of that power – and all of those semiconductors – come from?


Giving More

There’s a lovely new interview of Kevin Kelly on YouTube as part of David Perell’s How I Write series. These are all such graceful and insightful conversations – I so appreciate Perell sharing them with us.

One of the comments Kelly makes on this conversation is “the more you give, the more you get”.

Kelly calls it one of the weird paradoxes of the universe “that makes no sense whatsoever. … It doesn’t make sense that the most selfish thing you can do is to be selfless. That if you really were aiming to get a lot, that you have to give away a lot. That’s a fundamental paradox, but that is so reliable.”

Generosity. Reminds me of Adam Grant’s notion of the world being made up of givers and takers. Be a giver and you’ll be a whole lot better for it. A constant reminder to self.

This whole interview with Kevin Kelly is another one of his gifts. I love the motto on his website: “Over the long term, the future is decided by optimists!”

Note: I usually listen/watch YouTube videos or podcasts at 1.5x or 2x speed – but not these videos that David Perell is doing. They need to be savored – and are so enjoyable.

Living Memories New York City Television

Remembering: The Price Is Right

piano keys illustration
Photo by Pixabay on

Host Bob Barker‘s recent passing at age 99 brought back memories of my experience on The Price Is Right stage as a ten-year-old in the late 1950s.

Our family would visit relatives in New Jersey during our vacations from our home in Ohio. In those days, shows like The Price Is Right were filmed in New York City studios. Like others have recently commented, watching The Price Is Right on TV is what you did if you were home sick from school or if school was closed for a snow day.

Somehow my Dad qualified to be a contestant. He won big on the first day, so they brought him back for a second day (where he won nothing more). At the end of day one after the cameras were off, host Bill Cullen had me join them on stage. Cullen then asked my Dad to bring me back for day two – that’s when I was on the show. I remember my Dad needing to wear a blue shirt for the show – white shirts were too bright for the cameras!

A few months after we returned home, Dad bought an audio recording of the show on a 78 rpm record which was mailed to him. We had fun listening to the scratchy bidding replay on our record player, though there was no video back then.

One item my Dad won was an upright Sohmer piano, shipped to our Ohio home. I wasn’t thrilled about it, as my parents immediately pushed me to take lessons! Like many forced into childhood piano lessons, I wish I had practiced more and truly learned to play.

It’s funny what sparks these old memories. Bob Barker and The Price Is Right take me back to a simpler time.

Creativity Living Photography

The Root of Creativity

 “At the root of creativity is an impulse to understand, to make sense of random and often unrelated details. For me, photography provides an intersection of time, space, light, and emotional stance. One needs to be still enough, observant enough, and aware enough to recognize the life of the materials, to be able to ‘hear through the eyes’.” — Paul Caponigro

Paul Caponigro

In his poetic reflection on creativity and photography, Paul Caponigro speaks to the impulse within us to find meaning and connection. He describes creativity as the act of synthesizing seemingly disparate details into a new understanding. This certainly rings true for photography, which takes fragments of time, space, light, and feeling and fuses them into a single image.

Caponigro argues that photography requires stillness, observation, and awareness. In stillness, we allow the details to come into focus rather than rushing past them. In observation, we notice and absorb the subtleties that give those details meaning. And in awareness, we sense the deeper essence that animates the materials—the “life” inside inanimate objects and moments.

This process of seeing and synthesizing creates order from chaos. The photographer looks patiently until the details crystallize into something coherent. By “hearing through the eyes,” they grasp at the threads connecting each fragment into a whole. They take meaningless bits of time, space, light, and emotion and compose them into an image that conveys a new understanding.

There is a mystical quality to this act of creativity that Caponigro evokes. Photography becomes almost a meditative practice of slowing down and listening closely enough to hear the inner life of the world around us. When we tune into that life force, we can then give it expression through a photograph. Just as a musician channels sound into music, the photographer channels light into art.

Note: for more about Paul Caponigro, see this short video about making prints from his images.

Books Living Memories Presence

Good Memories

back view of a person walking on a forest path
Photo by Gabriela Palai on

“There is no explaining this simple truth about life. You will forget much of it. The painful things you would be certain you would never be able to let go of, now you’re not entirely sure when they happened, while the thrilling parts, the heart-stopping joys, splintered and scattered and became something else. Memories are then replaced by different joys and larger sorrows. And, unbelievably, those things get knocked aside as well…”

Ann Patchett, Tom Lake

This passage about our fleeting memories reminds me of another Ann Patchett quote about life being just a compilation of small moments – either we pay attention to them or we miss it.

“It’s about paying attention to all of the small moments of your life, realizing that your life really is just the compilation of small moments. And either you are awake to them and pay attention to them, or you’re always looking ahead and you miss your life.”

Ann Patchett, PBS Newshour interview

There’s truth in that. Our sharpest memories fade when we fail to fully appreciate the little daily moments. We often overlook the power of presence.

Presence means living fully in the now, using all your senses with mindfulness and gratitude. Noticing the vivid colors of autumn leaves, the warm aroma of fresh bread, the crunch of footsteps on a gravel path. Tuning into the senses opens doorways to memories.

We can choose to cherish routine moments by fully immersing in the season at hand. In spring, capturing the arrival of ducks at the pond. In winter, photographing the tranquility of a rainy street or the drama of an angry sky. Describing in a journal the earthy petrichor smell after a rainfall. Or in snow country noticing the absolute stillness after a snowfall.

When we cultivate presence, ordinary life becomes extraordinary. Making an audio recording of a child’s infectious giggle so you can replay those belly laughs forever. Or interviewing an elderly friend or relative. Freezing time by photographing a baby’s tiny fingers grasping yours. Remembering to capture a photo at your next family celebration together. Preserving memories through the senses helps make them last. Journaling helps record them for future serendipity when you re-discover them and get swept back across your life to revisit moments.

The more we nurture presence, the more natural it becomes. It’s about shifting perspective to treasure the mundane moments we overlook. Being awake to the ever-changing beauty of each season, each day. Appreciating what an amazing gift it is.

So maybe the lesson here is to embrace the fluidity of life, while striving to be fully present. If we learn to cherish today through all our senses, those memories may never fade.

Yesterday I wrote about The Couple I noticed on my morning walk. And the sounds in my ears of Meryl Streep reading while I walked around the pond. I should have taken a photograph of that couple – and I’ll be sure to do that next time. Sometime a while from now I’ll rediscover The Couple – and I look forward to it.

Audio Books Living Menlo Park Walking

The Couple

On my morning walks around the pond, I often see a married couple taking their own constitutional. They walk in perfect sync, stepping in time as if trained in a military march. In their right hands—always the right—they clutch large mugs emitting wisps of steam. Their elbows press close to their sides, steadying the mugs as they promenade along.

Every so often, maybe every 100 yards or so, some invisible signal makes them halt in unison. They raise their mugs and take long sips, black coffee I envision, turning to each other to exchange a few private words before pivoting in tandem to continue their measured pace.

This morning, while watching the couple’s syncopated steps carry them farther from view, I listened to Meryl Streep narrate Ann Patchett’s new novel Tom Lake on my headphones. She read a passage set at a Traverse City cherry farm, describing a summer visit before the harvest. The lush depiction of endless orchards with lush green grass under the trees heavy with green fruit made a lovely soundtrack for my walk through the neighborhood.

It was a peaceful start to the day, with the air very still and heavy with humidity. High overcast clouds blanketed the sky in an unbroken slate grey. The solemn couple marching away added a faint visual rhythm to accompany the cadence of Streep’s voice recounting the verdant cherry trees. I found myself wishing I could capture the mood of this moment – the mingled sights and sounds that made it so uniquely serene.

Family Living Memories Tracy Loftesness

A Very Special Day

On this day ten years ago, we gathered as a family at a nearby restaurant to celebrate our cherished daughter Tracy‘s birthday. We shared a wonderful lunch together – laughing, reminiscing, and simply enjoying each other’s company, as families do on such special occasions. After lunch, we went for a leisurely walk and then visited a nearby art museum.

Looking back on that beautiful day this morning, it seems like only yesterday – yet, when I woke up this morning, I didn’t have any specific memories of the occasion. That’s what happens as the years have passed and the vividness of that day ten years ago has softened in my mind. But the memories came rushing back when I came across a few photographs of that day that were like opening old windows to the past, instantly transporting me back to the moments we hold so dear. A “magic carpet”!

Now I can still see Tracy’s effervescent smile, a reflection of her unique zest for life. As always her eyes sparkled with a vibrancy that seemed to capture the very essence of her spirit. She always “lit up the room” with her good cheer – something we’ll always remember even though we don’t have her here to celebrate with today.

“Memories are like magic. They take you back to a time and place, and make you feel as if you were still there.” Today, for me, that special time and place is ten years ago with our family gathered together celebrating her beautiful birthday!

Creativity Living Photography - Black & White

Uncovering Hidden Value

Leveraging the “Sawdust” of Your Creative Process

person holding chainsaw
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

For creatives, the byproducts of our work often get swept aside once the main project is complete. The unused sketches, raw demo recordings, or half-baked concepts – these become the “sawdust” we leave behind after building something new. But what if we viewed these creative leftovers through a different lens?

Rather than discarding the residual materials from your creative process, consider how they could hold untapped potential. Just as a woodworker’s sawdust can be repurposed into revenue-generating products, you may be able to extract value from the fragments left over from your projects.

By sifting through the unused ideas, experiments, and prototypes you accumulate, hidden opportunities can emerge. Could an alternate lyric or melody from a recording session work in a new song? Might those rough product sketches contain the seed of a fresh design? With the right perspective, your leftovers can become ingredients for future work.

This philosophy of maximizing resources aligns with Jay Clouse‘s emphasis on reframing challenges. By bringing a spirit of creative reuse to the byproducts of your efforts, you can uncover new possibilities where you once saw waste.

For photographers, the sawdust metaphor could apply to all the unused or discarded photos from a shoot. Rather than deleting the outtakes, putting in time to review these images with fresh eyes may reveal some gems. Photos you initially disregarded due to small flaws could potentially be salvaged through editing. Or alternate angles could lend themselves to new creative compositions. By taking the time to re-examine your photo “sawdust”, you may find shots that warrant a second look. With some targeted post-processing or creative cropping, those photos destined for the trash could end up being featured in your portfolio. Just like a carpenter transforming sawdust into useful material, photographers have the power to find merit in the images they may have previously discarded or overlooked. I’m often surprised when I look back at old photos and see an image with “new eyes” – for me that joy is one of the best parts of photography.

So challenge yourself to regularly revisit the “sawdust” of your creative process. You may discover surprising connections that spark your next big idea. With some imagination, everyone has the capacity to transform their leftovers into treasure.

Books Kevin Kelly Living

The Magical World of Kevin Kelly

One of my favorite writers, Kevin Kelly, is out with a new book titled “Excellent Advice for Living: Wisdom I Wish I Knew Earlier“. This book is based on several of his earlier annual blog posts that he began writing on his 68th birthday about “some things he had learned about life that he wished he had known earlier.”

On my morning walk this morning I began listening to Tim Ferriss’ recent interview of Kelly and it immediately triggered a bunch of ideas in my mind – even before they began discussing his new book! Among them (just during the first 15 minutes) were:

  • The bet he made 20 years ago about the decline of world population by the year 2060. He had observed that modern people, on average, are not having more than two kids per couple which is below the replacement rate required to maintain, let alone grow, population. Google Bard notes that “the global fertility rate has been declining for decades. In 1960, the global fertility rate was 5.0 births per woman. Today, it is 2.5 births per woman. This decline in fertility rates is due to a number of factors, including improved education and healthcare, as well as the increasing availability of contraception.
  • His notion that if you can find 1,000 people who are passionate about your work (1,000 true fans), you can make a living as a creator. Ferriss wrote about this idea in one of his books and helped popularize the notion. Kelly comments that “every day people write to me, and meet me, and say, “Yes, I have been able to do that,” inspired someone by hearing of that possibility.
  • The Whole Earth Catalog and his friendship with Stewart Brand. He described the Catalog this way: Steve Jobs famously called it “the internet before there was an internet.” It was internet printed on newsprint because it was reader generated. It was one of those big books that you could get lost in – analogous to how you can get lost on the Internet while looking up some piece of information.

Kelly has such a creative mind! He has been a joy for me to follow and enjoy for many years. My listen on my morning walk to this interview just highlighted that again for me. He’s just fun (and stimulating) to listen to (and read!).

He continues to blog regularly and to write as Senior Maverick for Wired which he helped co-found many years ago. He writes one article per year for Wired – his most recent being about generative AI image tools: Picture Limitless Creativity at Your Fingertips. Even though I read several of his earlier birthday blog posts of advice, I look forward to reading his new book when it is published later this week. Oh by the way, it appears that today is his birthday!

Living San Francisco/California Weather

Suddenly All at Once

We’ve had one rough winter in the San Francisco Bay Area. Not rough in the sense that many have living in much more extreme winter conditions. But rough for us.

It seems like we’ve been waiting and waiting for spring to arrive and every time we thought it might be around the corner we took another jag into either an atmospheric river bringing heavy rains and wind from Hawaii to a spin-off low making its way down from Alaska bringing more cold air.

Then suddenly it changed. Yesterday was the first truly glorious spring day with bright sun and temperatures approaching 80 degrees. It took a long time but it seems spring has finally arrived!

And all of this winter’s rain seems to have finally dented California’s multi year drought problem. That’s a good thing!