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Personal Computer or Personal Enemy?

2 min

The personal computer has become a personal enemy.

It is undoubtedly powerful and useful for many tasks. However, using a standard PC today involves numerous threats and distractions that compete with its beneficial functions. The computer itself wants you to check your notifications, and megacorp websites want you to stay on them. The strength of these default pulls are underestimated even for those who think they've accounted for them. How many times have you gone to your computer and hours pass before you realize you've accomplished nothing valuable and now you feel like crap? Or perhaps you go to your computer and accomplish a valuable task, but then you waste a whole 30 minutes doing nothing at all.

I have found at least one crucial solution to this problem. It is very simple, but also easy to forget and hard to stick with. We don't take the problem seriously because it's embarrassing to admit that something so stupid is a real problem. Then sometimes the best solution to a problem is so simple we can't take the solution seriously. We don't trust how real and important a solution might be, because it's too simple for someone to write fancy book about it.

The solution is that you only go to your computer after you've made a clear and specific decision about what you wish to do with your computer. When you're done, you walk away from the computer. You can go back to your computer, whenever you want, but only on condition that you've made a clear and specific decision about what to do with your computer.

This solution has been extremely effective for me in recent weeks. Combined with quitting television and podcasts cold turkey, it's like an industrial-strength protective cover for one's attention. Overkill? Perhaps. Embarrassing that I need such measures? Perhaps. I don't care. My attention is one of the most valuable things I own, the stakes are currently very high for the human mind, and desperate times call for desperate measures. If they made a bulletproof vest for the mind, I'd wear one. Indeed, one way to think about Urbit is that it's like a nuclear bunker for digitally-networked minds, and I see the Other Life community more broadly—the courses, the meetups, and everything else—as a kind of nuclear reactor for liberated attention.

AI increases the cost of failure, and increases the payoff to success, on this dimension.

Put on your bulletproof vest, get the bunker ready, and 3D-print your own nuclear reactor—before it's too late.

The Attention War is here.

May we win it together.

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