John Maeda on Uphill Thinking
a little back-to-school inspiration
John Maeda is a bit of an everything guy: a VP of Design & AI at Microsoft, a Bill Nye the Science Guy for AI (see analogy relating the progress of AI to a ketchup bottle), and a thought leader that publishies an annual report on Design in Tech. Between all of this, he recently wrote a piece on Figma’s blog titled “Uphill Thinking” that was easily the best thing I read all week on AI:
“Humans are innately driven to take the adventurous, longer route. Our distinct traits of creativity, innovation, and uphill thinking compel us to explore the unseen, unheard, and untouched, even when it's seen as rationally “wrong” by conventional standards.
This shared spirit, found in entrepreneurs, athletes, and artists alike, is demonstrated in our history of remarkable art, groundbreaking discoveries, and revolutionary innovations. This willingness to embrace challenges, endure setbacks, and choose “longcuts” over shortcuts underscores our unique capacity for uphill thinking.
Even as AI excels at efficiently executing repetitive tasks, it remains rightfully constrained by our design for safety and lower risks, making it less suited for the daringly imaginative and transformative tasks that creatives undertake. This courage to venture in unconventional directions, to bet the farm on an irrational path, is what differentiates us from today’s AI.
The uphill thinking that may seem suboptimal in an AI-centric view is, in essence, the core of human creativity.”
The truth is, AI is just a tool. It’s a drill instead of a screwdriver.
Over the next decade, the way we work may change, but why we work will not. We will still continue to trudge up hills, searching for the next breakthrough.
Raman at Rhetoric