At the dawn of the age of artificial intelligence (AI), 2018 s the year when we should be campaigning for more G.S. (genuine stupidity).
I have been running my own small business teaching local children and adults to speak English so that they can be understood easily for seven-and-a-bit years and I have been a father for slightly longer. I have found that the key to success in both ventures is simply to be genuinely stupid by investing in things that no sane financial advisor would countenance.
The world is currently ruled by businessmen who connive at corruption, chase money and make spectacularly successful investment decisions that are based solely on the bottom line. These are the sort of people who go to bookshops and read the last chapter to save themselves the expense of buying the book.
If you want to be genuinely stupid, you have to raise your eyes a little to the lines that are above the bottom line and look at the actual story, which is the reason for the book in the first place.
My family makes enough money to have a good life. In comparison to the majority of Taiwanese, our life is exceptionally good, although they probably would not see it that way. Our bottom line is not nearly as healthy as most of the middle and working class parents whose children we teach, but the other lines are definitely a more interesting read. They tell a story of value: not profit.
We know that parents rarely add up the financial cost of children because if they did, the world’s population would not be increasing at its current rate. Parents know how to read an emotional spread-sheet properly. The key to enjoying the read is to cover the final tally with a well-placed finger. Only then, does the story make sense. In the context of today’s values, finding a way to be happy means that parents must be genuinely stupid. Artificial intelligence could never be used to understand the logic that values experiences higher than it values returns.
My family’s bottom line is the amount that we have to save for our ambitions. The entries above the bottom line testify that we have a business that provides us with enough for our current needs and wants. The details of those entries of those entries make no financial sense. The amount of money that buys the full set of the How to train your Dragon” series of books for my son would also increase a stake in a hedge fund that might give a six-fold return over a decade in the wrong hands, but that money translates as an excuse to spend a half hour each night with my son curled up beside me on his bed listening to tales of impossible bravery that send him off to the land of nod with a smile, feeling that he can conquer the world. Seeing his smile when I go in to check on him later gives me a thrill that money just cannot buy.
In those same wrong hands, our business could make double the money that it does now, but we would not have the feeling that we are at the centre of a small community that puts children’s needs above those of adults for a couple of hours each week and produces young adults who are eloquent, fulfilled and, hopefully, as happy as it is possible to be.
I have known the majority of students who have passed through this school for more than four years and a large percentage have been coming here for six or seven years. We are a part of their lives and they are a part of ours. Some occasionally bake cookies for my wife and some dream of my imminent violent demise, but they all know that we love them and my wife knows that they love her. As the author of their educational enhancement, I am the subject of occasional grudging gratitude but gratitude does not matter because I get a lot more than I give. Measuring that difference is impossible if mathematics is the lingua franca, as it is for A.I. You have to use a G.S. language that values the things that cannot be counted using a calculator.
Most lives are only money pits if you measure the input and the output in terms of the input (money and effort). If you measure the input in terms of the output (joy and illogical fulfilment), the input becomes infinitesimally small and the mathematics of G.S begin to make sense.
As business owners, we are the curators of a community of a few hundred people who all seem to genuinely care about some of the same things that we do. As parents, we are at the hub of a system of goodwill and love that really is overwhelming at times.
You can take your artificial intelligence and stuff it where enlightenment, kindness, politeness and love do not shine. This year, I’ll be taking the Genuinely Stupid approach every time.