The Journey of Thoughts to Words

28 Jan 2024

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We think. We all can agree on that. We have no idea where the thoughts are coming from, and we end up flowing through the thoughts throughout the day, or at best, it’s a monologue within us. Most of what we think does not make it out to words on paper. I was wondering what would be the fastest way to convert our thoughts to words.

The traditional method is to pick up a pen and write on paper. There are muscles involved in holding the pen and moving it elegantly to write, and the eyes get visual feedback for evaluation. Assuming the thoughts originated in the brain (we don’t know for sure), then the brain has to give instructions to the hands, receive feedback from the eyes, and evaluate whether what we wrote is the same as what we thought. It all happens in the physical world. That means there are some precious moments when our brain is not thinking but converting the old thoughts to words, even though it’s not obvious to us.

Think -> Write -> Think -> Write …

Or if you imagine a queuing system in the brain (i.e.), one part of the brain is thinking, and the other part of the brain is coordinating the writing, then the thoughts would accumulate faster than we could write. As far as I can tell from my experience of writing, the amount of memory available in my brain to hold the thoughts is probably very little. I don’t recall having a queue of thoughts to write, and in most cases, I forget what I thought a moment before.

[Queue] Think, Store, Think, Store, Think, Store … (fast)
[Writing] Retrieve, Write, Retrieve, Write … (slow)

Writing is surely the slowest way to convert thoughts to words. Every writer in this world knows this. But this is the only available option to humans for thousands of years. There was nothing else that we could do. As the most intelligent species on the planet, can’t I create a device that allows me to convert our thoughts to words faster? Oh no… Our ego is hurt.

No, no, no… you are wrong. Writing slowly is actually better for you. It helps you to think clearly. How? What makes us think that thinking slowly is the best way to think clearly?

Imagine your brain as a computer, and the thoughts are the data that are fed to the computer for processing. If the computer is from the ’90s with only a few GHz processing capacity, you would struggle to process all the thoughts. What if your brain is a supercomputer which can process a ton of data in a microsecond, would the assumption still be the same?

[Thinking Slowly] Think, Pause, Evaluate, Think, Pause, Evaluate …
[Thinking Fast] Think, Evaluate, Think, Evaluate, Think, Evaluate …

“Think” phase is magic. “Evaluate” phase is probably the same in both the cases, your capacity to process the thoughts. What’s up with this “Pause” phase? As if magically there will be some sort of revelation while we wait for the next thought. We don’t know how the thoughts originate, so waiting for the next brilliant thought is equivalent to praying to God - give me something, make my life better. This gets philosophical. Let’s not divert.

Let’s go back in time…

Some privileged scholars had the advantage of thinking out loud and having their disciples transcribe them. The thinker is essentially freed from the act of writing. He could dictate as fast as he could think. It’s up to the many disciples to carefully listen, transcribe, and reconcile the text with other disciples. The disciples are not thinking but writing. This was available to only a few thinkers with power and money.

With the advent of technology, this process is now available to all of us. Yes, you could pick up the phone and start talking. Use any of the AI tools that are available in the market to transcribe it for you. It’s super simple. I have a lot of my thoughts captured, transcribed, and stored. As expected, the process of going through the transcripts, editing, and publishing them on the Internet is slow. But hey, all of my thoughts are available to me at any moment. I can go through them anytime I want. Who knows, I could hire a few intellectuals to do the writing part for me, in the future.

I’ve been using “Otter.AI” for the past week, and I am super happy with the results. Now the barriers to converting my thoughts to words are gone, I am actually looking forward to speaking to my phone many times a day. This is an experimental process that I am going to do for a month and then try traditional writing to see which one suits me better.

Let’s talk …

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