Blogging at Happycrow’s Eyeball Factory is light this week, as Real Life(tm) has strong demands, deadlines, and an overwhelming assertion that Happycrow *does* indeed have a crack-like addiction to food and shelter that needs his undivided attention.
But I wanted to point out an article on the excellent blog Next Big Future for consideration: wearable electronic sensors may be able to give people “spider senses” and potentially avoid a lot of accidents (or social dangers).
If Happycrow were a character in a sci-fi novel, they’d call me a “mild pre-cog”: I’ve always had a “spider sense” of the type they’re describing here. While not having anything so world-class-cool as synaesthesia (jealousy jealousy jealousy), my nervous system has always been good at putting together sensory cues that were far too subtle for me to have picked up consciously. Examples:
- Knowing out of the blue that my boss was behind an office door down the hall.
- Picking the same straw, out of a hundred, that my twin had picked twenty minutes earlier (when I was in the basement), because I “recognized it.”
- Instinctively dodging careening objects that I didn’t know were coming.
- Blocking punches in pitch darkness when I had absolutely no clue that somebody was planning to deck me.
- Getting a sense of where the other(out of sight) paintball team was by “feeling” the environment — and being right about where they were, even when the notion was dismissed because technically where I was “pointing” was out of bounds for the scenario (our paintball was small-unit recon and tactics, rather than capture-the-flag).
On the one hand, outside of freaking out my parents and getting mocked by AP English teachers in high-school for having cat-like reflexes (but he was always kind of a prick anyway), some of these are pretty useless. On the other hand, that sort of thing tends to guarantee you hang out with the “geeks, nerds, and other” on the high-N side of the Meyers-Briggs test. After all, everybody gets hunches. The difference between “Sensing” and “Intuiting” isn’t just that the high-N people have hunches, but that those hunches are usually right, often enough that it’s more than simply confirmation bias, and they come not only to rely on them, but rely on them successfully…what the nervous system is doing winds up shaping the personality.
Bit of a no-brainer, that. But psychology often tends to dismiss neurology rather than saying “you’re like this because you’re like this.”
On the gripping hand, “spider sense” saves lives and keeps people from being smacked with heavy moving objects. And any competent self-defense guy will tell you that the most important self-defense skill in the world isn’t the hop-sockey ability to break a man’s forearm and twist his head off like a peach from a tree, but simply knowing what’s going on around you. Awareness, awareness, awareness. Especially the kind of awareness that keeps you from winding up on worker’s comp because the pile of bricks fell on your head. Yes, people DO die because a ton of bricks falls on their head — Chez Happycrow lost a great-great-uncle that way, and similar workplace accidents wipe people out every single day.
Bring on the future, as fast as they can get it here.