Brains in Motion

I operate a variety of machines as I prepare drip coffee every morning. This has become habitual choreography of some complexity and sufficiently rote that I can simultaneously think of something else. This morning I was thinking of scientific journalism, storytelling really, that I heard on the bbc before I got up. bbc

Alexa stop. Coffee is ready. Back in a minute.

I traced through a lot of old and complicated thoughts starting with Tim Urban's post from last April about Elon Musk's wizard hat idea. What would AI augmented thought be like? My guess is one or two steps above pair programming. See Mind Meld

Tim struggled with the story as did the podcasters. How can one explain a brain interface without first explaining the brain. Reptilian brain. Limbic system. Cortext. Language. Society. The bbc told the story of Tim telling the story of Elon Musk's logical argument: yes, a brain interface is possible.

There are a lot of parts to Elon's argument so it has been translated into stories for consumption by the population. Story and logical argument are just two of Alan Kay's agenda points for education. Three Ways We Must Think.

So I'm thinking about all the layers of my brain making coffee. I notice that I know how close to full the karaf is because I can hear it, not as an audio spectral shift, but as a vessel being filled. Before this finishes I've discarded yesterday's cone, fetched a new one from the cupboard, and place it in the coffee maker ready to go. This is all one motion. If coffee filters stick I might not have it placed when the karaf fills, then I must interrupt the motion to turn off the water. Awkward me.

Phase two of coffee making has me turn to the sink for the now filled karaf, fill the coffee maker reservoir just right because I knew what just right sounded like, and then slide the karaf under the empty cone. This touches a button that completes the heater circuit, switch on, reservoir full, and karaf in place. Heating starts and I say, Alexa, set timer for ten minutes. See Hello Echo

Ten minutes isn't just a round number. I've tried nine minutes but then the last drips from the cone fall on the counter as I pour my coffee. I'm not so anal that I have to have coffee as soon as possible. The failure I'm avoiding is getting into morning email and letting to coffee cool in the karaf without the insulating lid in place.

Phase three is when I reach for the canister of ground coffee and fill the cone. This is not time critical. I can even open a fresh bag of coffee, fill the canister, and still fill the cone before hot water starts pouring. I can hear gurgling as it start to boil. If I trip up filling the canister I can reach for the off switch to slow down the boil. Awkward me.

The airtight canister is my son Chris's contribution to good coffee. I use to just keep the store's bag in the freezer and brew frozen coffee every morning. I had stopped grinding my own coffee because it was noisy and the store grinder did a better job.

Chris also convinced me to brew more coffee. He measured out the proper amount, poured it into a number four cone, and marked with a felt pen how high in the cone that would rise. I think of Chris every morning as I visualize those marks while filling the cone.

Finally, with reservoir and cone caps in place and with Echo timing the brew, I open my laptop to write. The first question is, what will this page be called?


My story is really about how my own brain works: reptilian brain interpreting sound, limbic system noticing smooth and awkward motion, and my cortex thinking about logical argument and how Chris argued I should make coffee. The Echo part is a bonus nod toward Elon Musk's idea.