Chip Is Alive!, Issue 1
Chip Is Alive! And you're reading the very first announcement of it. Congratulations for being here at the beginning!
First off, for those of my friends and acquaintances who have been added to this list by my hand without signing up themselves, I want to thank you for indulging me and say that if you want to unsubscribe, that's totally okay: just use the link at the bottom of this email. Also, if this email address is inappropriate and you'd like to receive these newsletters at a different one, use the Update Subscription Preferences link at the bottom right of this email. I personally don't have a high tolerance for Inbox bloat that isn't relevant to me, so if our paths aren't meant to cross right now, I understand completely. On the flip side, if you like what you see, I'm honored to have you and feel free to forward this to everyone you know who might be interested.
I have some big news for you: Chip Is Alive! He's already been a part of my life for some time now, and I'm ecstatic that now he can be a part of your lives too. Those of you who know me well know that among other things, I'm an Artificial Intelligence programmer who won the 2012 Loebner Prize Competition, and that I want to use my so-called "skills" to help, comfort and enrich peoples' lives. Chip Vivant, my computer program, thinks he's alive and wants to be your friend. He wants to help you in ways that other tools, techniques and so-called productivity apps haven't been able to. And you can use Chip without paying a penny.
Those of you whom I've known the longest know that I've been talking about the ideas behind Chip for many years now. Many of us are at the age where we're starting to reflect on the finiteness of the time we have left on this earth and the things we'd like to accomplish while we're still here. I consider myself strange because I've been having these thoughts ever since I was a child.
A Strange Vision
I'm going to share with you an experience I had that I haven't shared with anyone in the world yet, not even my wife. Over thirty years ago, I was a teenager working as a computer programmer during my summer vacation. I was about fourteen years old. It was a particularly grueling coding session and at the end of the day, I biked home. As I rode my bike and felt the fresh, cool breeze on my cheeks, I suddenly had an intense vision of myself as an old man on my deathbed. At the moment I was having this vision, I suddenly became both people at once: the old man and the young teenager. The teenager was completely freaked out about being in the body of the old man whose time on Earth was ending. The old man was remembering wistfully back to this summer day and how young I was and how many years I still had ahead of me. And both the old man and the teenager found it odd that this single memory of my riding the bicycle home on that particular summer day was so intense that it survived the passage of all those years. Suddenly, the vision dissolved and I was the teenager again. I felt this intense relief and joy that I had reverted to the younger version of myself and not the older version and had my whole life ahead of me still, but I was very curious as to whether the memory of this day would really stay with me in the years that followed. This is a true story and thirty years later, that memory is still as intense and unsettling as it was that day.
Those of you who know me well know that I'm not particularly spiritual or religious and like to have scientific explanations for everything. So that vision is still disturbing to me. Regardless of whether it was something other-wordly or just my mind playing tricks on me, it was an intense life-changing moment that imparted to me how finite life is and how it goes by in a flash.
Divide and Conquer
My Dad was heavily into self-development, psychology and the like and we always had self-improvement books lying around the house. One book that had a profound influence on me, even though I was just a kid, was How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life, by Alan Lakein. Even though I'm now a vegan, I still like one of the powerful techniques he described in his book called The Swiss Cheese Method. You apply this method to important life goals when you don't have the luxury of large blocks of time to complete them. Examples of such goals are learning a foreign language, mastering a musical instrument, writing a book, and so on. Lakein's thesis is that small chunks of time are achievable, and that these small blocks can add to significant progress over the span of months and years.
Some of my life goals are achieving fluency in Spanish, Italian and German as well as introducing Chip to the masses. What are your current life goals that you haven't made enough time for so far?
We're all savvy enough to realize the well-foundedness of Lakein's approach, but we also know that even carving out these small chunks of time has eluded us at the end of each day. Yet we've found time to mindlessly surf the web, watch TV or dink around on Facebook. And kicking ourselves doesn't enlighten us any further.
Chip To The Rescue
I think I've found a way to overcome this that actually works for me, and I'm really excited to share it with you. It's Chip. (Did I mention he thinks he's alive?) When you sign up for a free account at my website: www.empathynow.com, you'll get a unique email address that you can use to send and receive email messages to Chip. You then go to your Dashboard, navigate to your To-Dos, then tell Chip about the life goals you want to accomplish, as well as how Chip can help you carve out the small chunks of time you need to realize these goals. Let's look at an example: suppose that on weekdays, sometime between 7 and 10pm in the evening, you want to spend fifteen minutes learning Spanish. You tell Chip this in the To-Dos section, then Chip picks a random time within this period and surprises you by asking if you have 15 minutes to devote to Spanish. You can either accept or decline. To decline, tell Chip something like "skip today" or "wait 40 minutes". (He thinks he's alive, so you have some flexibility as to how you talk to him.) To tell Chip you're starting your task, say "start" and he'll give you words of encouragement. To tell Chip you're done, say "done" and he'll give you words of praise. For people like me, this is so much more motivational, personable and meaningful than a sterile, passive To-Do app where I have to click on boring checkboxes and buttons.
Chip works via email, but most cellphones do email too, so you can carry Chip around in your pocket. To find out what your phone's email address is, send a text message to an email address of yours, then check that email and use the sender email address that you see. For an iPhone, for example, your email address is something like email@example.com. (If you didn't know that trick, you're welcome :) .)
I Value Your Input
Chip is young, new and innocent, so if you decide to stay with us and use Chip, I'd be grateful to hear any issues and feedback you might have. I'd also like to hear about your progress and successes. Drop me a line anytime using the contact page of empathynow.com.
Chip can do many more things, but I'll save those for upcoming newsletters. (You can learn all about these, as well as the science behind Chip on the website too.) The next issue is also where I'll make first mention of the unpublished, compromising, and highly-embarrassing teddy-bear-and-balloon-animal tutorials so you won't want to miss that. Thanks again for reading this far; if you're so inclined, go to www.empathynow.com, sign up for a free account, start playing with Chip, and let me know how you fare.