Session 3. Minimalism

Sponsor: O.M.

Signatories: K.V., A.G., S.M., M.Z., A.J., N.C.

Topic: Minimalism

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O.M.’s vision of minimalism

Expanding the borders of minimalism beyond the conventional perception of the term as aesthetics and anti-consumerism,

  1. States that minimalism is also a lifestyle, or way of life. The measure of success in practicing minimalism may be considered achieving happiness, but letting go all that has been dictated onto oneself without one knowing it.
  2. Recaps on the artistic history and social roots of minimalism, such as suprematism.
  3. Defines minimalism at home, as the focus point on family and human interaction. This is achieved through re-thinking traditional household items and re-arranging the space to create more of the perceived value.
  4. Defines minimalism at work through leaving out all objects of non-functional value from one’s working environment; although acknowledges that functional value of a tool has a different meaning for a different user. Another element of a successful minimalism practice at work is enforcing distraction free environment, such as a block of time and no disturbances during it.
  5. Opens up a discussion for the minimalism in technology, and social media adjacent to it, suggesting an approach when one consciously uses technology instead of the opposite. There are so many ways to do it, and the one that is suggested is arranging the phone screens and managing notifications in the least distracting mode.
  6. Acknowledges the positive side of tech which gives the ability to learn much faster and have access to the information in colossal sizes. eBook is stated to be a great tool for continuous knowledge expansion due to its portability and memory capacity.
  7. States that minimalism in food is a variety of a diet, although it originates in one’s mind through a discipline and goal setting.
  8. Recommends using a minimalistic approach to traveling. A week long trip is possible to be packed in a cabin luggage. Variety and interchangeability of clothes is attained by color coordination and using basic styles that could be worn in any situation of the trip. A “four by four” rule is recommended. This simple approach results in 16 clothes combinations.
  9. Questions how todays pace of life affecting human relations and proposes to bring minimalism into the relations category through scrutinizing the circle of people one interacts and staying with those who truly matter. An experiment conducted by one of the members of the think tank is cited. During the experiment the member had disconnected from his relations for one year and remained with those who would reach out and miss him throughout this time.
  10. States that minimalism in fitness is using the gym that is always with you: calisthenics, gymnastics, running. Your body weight is a machine and the surroundings are your gym.
  11. States that minimalism despite the modern raise of interest to it among the more successful part of the population is not an egalitarian life style. Minimalism is in many ways starts with disciplining one’s mind regardless of the social status or career path.
  12. Concludes that minimalism is a hard work and discipline.

Dubai,  Jan 30, 2017

Side notes: Some of the references: on Suprematism, Kazimir Malevich; we spoke of some prominent figures in minimalism, Leo Babauta, Collin Wright. Everyone has watched the Minimalism movie by distinguished authorities in cutting the clutter away from their lives, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. We have done an experiment similar to the one shown in this movie, and are grateful to our host for patience. O.M. who has sponsored the topic, had shared the deck of slides on minimalism: enjoy!



Session 2. AI Inevitable

Sponsor: S.M.

Signatories: A.G., D.H., H.M., M.Z., N.C..

Topic: Artificial Intelligence Inevitable

Explaining artificial intelligence as an advanced computational tool and acknowledging the inevitability of it,

  1. States that although the AI is a lot about machine learning it is important to identify the subject of learning and the method of learning.
  2. Distinguishes between the AI and Technology, where the latter executes and the former decides or at least aides in making a decision.
  3. Forewarns that the AI should be employed as a reference and not replace the judgement, at least at this early stage of its development.
  4. Draws parallels to the 1867 invention of dynamite by Alfred Nobel as a solution to use in mining and transport, and therefore stresses the danger of the AI if used maliciously.
  5. Speculates that AI may cause humankind loose their interest in life through repetitive and improving prediction algorithms.
  6. States the disadvantage of becoming a human habit not to doubt in the outcome of the AI computation and taking it for granted, which is eventually a trust in the flawlessness of another human being who had programmed the AI or, at least, had set in motion the learning process of it.
  7. Alerts about the infancy of the ethical and legal issues arising together with the advancement of the AI. Refers to a discussion around the ethical issues of the influence of social media during the talk of Tom Fletcher in Dubai this Autumn.
  8. Reminisces Isaak Asimov Laws of Robotics and calls for the issues of governance of the AI.
  9. Lists reduction of the maintenance costs in infrastructure as a positive side of the Artificial Intelligence, as well as an effect, similar to Toyota’s reinvention of the manufacturing process, on industrial expenses.
  10. Poses the question: how does humanity recognizes that the AI has arrived?
  11. Calls for the humanity to be prepared to upgrade itself and be prepared to create the jobs in lieu of roles taken over by the machines, more creative and emotionally fulfilling jobs.
  12. Stresses the necessity for the society to alter its principles of human remuneration or taxation of the machines.
  13. Foresees the coming iteration of the AI indeterminate to a more human form starting from the brain chips implants to prosthetics and biomedical engineering.

Dubai,  Dec 5, 2017

Side notes: the discussion has been packed with energy and disagreements and accord and we have really had fun. Some of the references: Tom Fletcher, Naked Diplomat book,  Isaak Asimov’s Laws, the importance of reading books in the ‘Short Circuit‘ movie, and sentient robots in the ‘Bicentennial Man,’ universal basic income from the book ‘Utopia for Realists‘ — a chance, and finally Tamagotchi.



Session 1. Agility

Sponsor: A.J.

Signatories: A.G., A.J., K.V., M.M., M.Z., N.C., S.Y., S.M.

Topic: Agile design beyond IT

Remembering the Agile Manifesto that underlines the four values:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan,

and attempting to help one of the members of the think tank to find a solution to his current professional objective of setting up an agile approach to project management,

  1. States that the organization that the A.J. represents is en route from using a Waterfall project methodology to an Agile methodology;
  2. Lists complications of having multiple stakeholders, necessity to batch the large projects into smaller batches, lack of clarity whether the smaller batches to be released to customers or hold till the competition of the larger project, and unclear priorities;
  3. Defines the way of working on projects in periods of time;
  4. Compares the agile approach to a factory conveyor;
  5. Brings up a question of defining priorities as the most crucial element of the project work;
  6. Offers  an approach to define priority using: a) commonalities, b) monetary value of the projects, c) alignment of the project to the strategy of the organization;
  7. Suggests using the priority matrix as a tool to define immediate activities, major projects, no-goes and thankless tasks;
  8. Acknowledges that any organization strategy pursues monetary or social  objectives
  9. Encourages to apply agile values and methods in fields of work other than IT, such as banking, construction, oil and gas, manufacturing and education, and others.

Dubai, Nov 15, 2017