I love cooking with fire, enjoying fires in our fireplace at home, and building campfires when our family goes camping. I wrote about this a bit in my previous post, “Identity and Fire Cooking.” For the past year or so, we’ve had a friend’s “almost broken” plasma TV in our guest bedroom, serving as a large digital photo frame thanks to a $25 component to HDMI video signal converter. (The built-in HDMI port on the TV is broken, so my friend was going to discard this TV.) Earlier this week, looking at Google Photo “recent highlights” shared in “ambient mode” on the Chromecast connected to that TV, I realized I could create an entire album of photos of just “FIRE.” So I did. Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms are smart enough to detect every photo in my collection of thousands (which now auto-upload via the Google Photos iOS app) which have FIRE in them. This is SO COOL!

I cannot understate how encouraging, affirming, and even LIFE GIVING it is to see old photos of our family from past years, especially having fun together camping. It’s a sign of old age I’m sure, Shelly and I are on the edge (4 months away or so, depending on college selection) from becoming “empty nesters.” Our “three birds” are going to be living away from us, and it will just be us and the dogs at home… and geographically, “home” is even going to change dramatically. BIG changes are afoot.

Identity is a curious and interesting construct. I learned (mostly from Michael Wesch) that our identities are primarily formed by the external signals and inputs we receive from others in our surroundings. So when I see photos of our family camping, of campfires and hearth fires I have built, I am reminded of people I love and things I love to do. Yes, I am seeing VIRTUAL images of these things, but perceptually there is little difference. These images bring me JOY and help me “ideologically marinate” in happy thoughts.

I love the “serendipitous rediscovery” which can happen through algorithms and technologies like Google Photo smart albums and Chromecast ambient mode on a large format television. Similar to the ideas I share in my workshop, “Discovering Useful Ideas,” it’s possible to set ourselves up for serendipitous encounters with powerful and potentially life-changing ideas. This can also be true for images and the ideas / feelings / emotions which go with them.

There are dark sides to powerful technologies, but there are also incredibly wonderful, positive, and constructive uses of powerful technologies too. I love harnessing the power of “AI Photo Magic” to enjoy images and memories of good times our family has shared, in this case with campfires, cooking fires and hearth fires!

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