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  • Translator: Timothy Covell Reviewer: Morton Bast

  • I love my food.

  • And I love information.

  • My children usually tell me

  • that one of those passions is a little more apparent than the other.

  • (Laughter)

  • But what I want to do in the next eight minutes or so

  • is to take you through how those passions developed,

  • the point in my life when the two passions merged,

  • the journey of learning that took place from that point.

  • And one idea I want to leave you with today

  • is what would would happen differently in your life

  • if you saw information the way you saw food?

  • I was born in Calcutta --

  • a family where my father and his father before him

  • were journalists,

  • and they wrote magazines in the English language.

  • That was the family business.

  • And as a result of that,

  • I grew up with books everywhere around the house.

  • And I mean books everywhere around the house.

  • And that's actually a shop in Calcutta,

  • but it's a place where we like our books.

  • In fact, I've got 38,000 of them now

  • and no Kindle in sight.

  • But growing up as a child with the books around everywhere,

  • with people to talk to about those books,

  • this wasn't a sort of slightly learned thing.

  • By the time I was 18, I had a deep passion for books.

  • It wasn't the only passion I had.

  • I was a South Indian

  • brought up in Bengal.

  • And two of the things about Bengal:

  • they like their savory dishes

  • and they like their sweets.

  • So by the time I grew up,

  • again, I had a well-established passion for food.

  • Now I was growing up in the late '60s and early '70s,

  • and there were a number of other passions I was also interested in,

  • but these two were the ones that differentiated me.

  • (Laughter)

  • And then life was fine, dandy.

  • Everything was okay,

  • until I got to about the age of 26,

  • and I went to a movie called "Short Circuit."

  • Oh, some of you have seen it.

  • And apparently it's being remade right now

  • and it's going to be coming out next year.

  • It's the story of this experimental robot

  • which got electrocuted and found a life.

  • And as it ran, this thing was saying, "Give me input. Give me input."

  • And I suddenly realized that for a robot

  • both information as well as food

  • were the same thing.

  • Energy came to it in some form or shape,

  • data came to it in some form or shape.

  • And I began to think,

  • I wonder what it would be like

  • to start imagining myself

  • as if energy and information were the two things I had as input --

  • as if food and information were similar in some form or shape.

  • I started doing some research then, and this was the 25-year journey,

  • and started finding out

  • that actually human beings as primates

  • have far smaller stomachs

  • than should be the size for our body weight

  • and far larger brains.

  • And as I went to research that even further,

  • I got to a point where I discovered something

  • called the expensive tissue hypothesis.

  • That actually for a given body mass of a primate

  • the metabolic rate was static.

  • What changed was the balance of the tissues available.

  • And two of the most expensive tissues in our human body

  • are nervous tissue and digestive tissue.

  • And what transpired was that people had put forward a hypothesis

  • that was apparently coming up with some fabulous results by about 1995.

  • It's a lady named Leslie Aiello.

  • And the paper then suggested that you traded one for the other.

  • If you wanted your brain for a particular body mass to be large,

  • you had to live with a smaller gut.

  • That then set me off completely

  • to say, Okay, these two are connected.

  • So I looked at the cultivation of information as if it were food

  • and said, So we were hunter-gathers of information.

  • We moved from that to becoming farmers and cultivators of information.

  • Does that really explain what we're seeing

  • with the intellectual property battles nowadays?

  • Because those people who were hunter-gatherers in origin

  • wanted to be free and roam and pick up information as they wanted,

  • and those that were in the business of farming information

  • wanted to build fences around it,

  • create ownership and wealth and structure and settlement.

  • So there was always going to be a tension within that.

  • And everything I saw in the cultivation

  • said there were huge fights amongst the foodies

  • between the cultivators and the hunter-gatherers.

  • And this is happening here.

  • When I moved to preparation, this same thing was true,

  • expect that there were two schools.

  • One group of people said you can distill your information,

  • you can extract value, separate it and serve it up,

  • while another group turned around

  • and said no, no you can ferment it.

  • You bring it all together and mash it up

  • and the value emerges that way.

  • The same is again true with information.

  • But consumption was where it started getting really enjoyable.

  • Because what I began to see then

  • was there were so many different ways people would consume this.

  • They'd buy it from the shop as raw ingredients.

  • Do you cook it? Do you have it served to you?

  • Do you go to a restaurant?

  • The same is true every time as I started thinking about information.

  • The analogies were getting crazy --

  • that information had sell-by dates,

  • that people had misused information that wasn't dated properly

  • and could really make an effect on the stock market,

  • on corporate values, etc.

  • And by this time I was hooked.

  • And this is about 23 years into this process.

  • And I began to start thinking of myself

  • as we start having mash-ups of fact and fiction,

  • docu-dramas, mockumentaries, whatever you call it.

  • Are we going to reach the stage

  • where information has a percentage for fact associated with it?

  • We start labeling information for the fact percentage?

  • Are we going to start looking at what happens

  • when your information source is turned off, as a famine?

  • Which brings me to the final element of this.

  • Clay Shirky once stated that there is no such animal as information overload,

  • there is only filter failure.

  • I put it to you that information,

  • if viewed from the point of food,

  • is never a production issue; you never speak of food overload.

  • Fundamentally it's a consumption issue.

  • And we have to start thinking

  • about how we create diets within ourselves, exercise within ourselves,

  • to have the faculties to be able to deal with information,

  • to have the labeling to be able to do it responsibly.

  • In fact, when I saw "Supersize Me," I starting thinking of saying,

  • What would happen

  • if an individual had 31 days nonstop Fox News?

  • (Laughter)

  • Would there be time to be able to work with it?

  • So you start really understanding

  • that you can have diseases, toxins, a need to balance your diet,

  • and once you start looking, and from that point on,

  • everything I have done in terms of the consumption of information,

  • the production of information, the preparation of information,

  • I've looked at from the viewpoint of food.

  • It has probably not helped my waistline any

  • because I like practicing on both sides.

  • But I'd like to leave you with just that question:

  • If you began to think of all the information that you consume

  • the way you think of food,

  • what would you do differently?

  • Thank you very much for your time.

  • (Applause)

Translator: Timothy Covell Reviewer: Morton Bast

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A2 US TED information hunter consumption tissue cultivation

【TED】JP Rangaswami: Information is food (JP Rangaswami: Information is food)

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    Zenn posted on 2018/03/13
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