Surprise vs. Wonder

Surprise is the difference between what is expected and experienced. You open the door and it’s 20 degrees colder than expected. That’s a surprise. You wonder what is behind the door. Wonder is your imagination negotiating your reality.

Your forcefield never sleeps. It is always ON. It is always sensing, processing, analyzing, negotiating, reporting, and notifying. The security and comfort you seek depends on it.

Your attention does not waste energy on outcomes or high probability events because both lack surprise and wonder.

We go to Google for answers. We walk our dog (aka human attention) in social media. Our human attention is designed for surprise and wonder. Google sells answers. Facebook sells surprise and wonder.

Every human has attention. That attention is like a forcefield that surrounds you. You don’t give your attention to anything. It is already given. Your forcefield has a trillion 360 degree sensors that are measuring change (surprise) and negotiating new information (wonder).

In order to predict how much human attention will be consumed by social media experiences, we need to calculate surprise differently from wonder. Surprise is the delta expressed as a ratio. The formula is actual / expected. Your attention system in cooperation with your subconscious memory has an expectation about pretty much everything. When our actual experience exceeds this expectation, we are surprised. In the rare cases, our subconscious memory does not have an expectation, we are in wonder.

Author: John Rector

John Rector is an AI Futurist who predicted the next word in business™, starting with his notable paper from 2015, "Mommy, What's a Cashier?" Drawing upon 40 years of experience in the practical applications of high technology, he assists clients in converting uncertainty into strategic advantages within a one-to-six-year framework. With leadership roles including IBM executive and co-founder of e2open, he has a diverse and impactful background. In the AI sector, he has set benchmarks through his contributions to Mind Media Group and Florrol, pioneering AI-based services and content generation. His investment initiative, Waterway Ventures, is committed to advancing promising AI startups. His creative ventures include founding Bodaro and graphic design studio Palm ❤️. In education, he has launched Nextyrn, which uses AI for personalized learning experiences, and in art, he leads Potyn, an initiative using AI to create bespoke pieces. His ever-expanding portfolio features companies like Nozeus, Infinia, Blacc Ink, and Maibly. Operating from Charleston, SC, his current focus involves partnering with individuals and enterprises to develop innovative business models and processes for the rapidly approaching age of AGI.

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