While on a business trip, my daughter and I were staying at a relative’s house, when she slipped and fell from the staircase, landing with a hard thud.  She’s just five years-old, and somehow miscalculated which step she was on, and missed the last two steps completely, hitting the floor on her hands and knees.

There were tears, and like any parent, my instincts kicked in, and I went hurrying over.

I said, “oops, you missed those last two steps!” 

And she said, “it’s okay, I’ll get used to them!”

In that moment, I had a good chuckle, because she can be a real tough cookie, but I was also reminded just how resilient kids really are.

Today, however, we seem to live in a time dominated by the “rise of safetyism” (a phrase I’m borrowing from social psychologist Jonathan Haidt).  It is very tempting to shield kids from every possible harm.  And I suspect that this has happened because, as we haven’t gotten more and more technologically advanced, we have been able to make the world safer and safer – only, we can never make a world that is perfectly safe.

Which is why it seems we still need to foster resilience in our kids. If only it weren’t so!

Alas, Haidt’s work has show that our culture of safetyism is, paradoxically, cultivating a generation that is more prone to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. 


Because humans have evolved a psychology that is anti-fragile.  And kids have a need to test their limits.  Playgrounds need to offer just the right amount of challenges.  Youngsters need to fall and dust themselves off again.  Because without these small exposures to accidents and mistakes, they begin to live in a bubble where their sense of what is dangerous is exaggerated and grossly distorted. 

And that triggers anxiety, because the brain has never been trained to get a realistic model of what is really dangerous and what isn’t.

Of course, the flipside is that children need to be protected from acutely traumatic events. 

But falling down a couple of steps – as much as that might hurt in the short term – helps prepare the mind to encounter real dangers in the future, and not to imagine danger is lurking where there is none.

This is an important, but very expansive topic, so if you’re interested in exploring it further, I can’t recommend Haidt’s work enough.

On his website, he’s posted an excerpt from his book “THE CODDLING OF THE AMERICAN MIND” which you can read here: https://www.thecoddling.com/chapter-1-antifragility

One adjacent topic is how kids have faired during the pandemic.

We know that they are experiencing high levels of stress, as we all are.  But is it all bad news for them? 

Maybe we should take some comfort in the fact that these difficult times, while coming at a high cost, may actually make kids more resilient to future challenges – of which there are many.  My hope is that I’m setting a good example, modelling behavior that shows my daughter that, yes, this is a hard time, and we should look out for one another, especially the vulnerable, but that we can also manage through it, and take comfort in each other.

When she needs a hug after falling from the steps, she can always get one.  But I also trust that she can pick herself up, dust herself off, and keep going.

Hopefully, after this difficult time is over, that will be a strength she carries with her into adulthood.

Read more: https://www.thecoddling.com/

If the topic strikes you as interesting and you want to take a deeper dive, you can order your copy on Amazon here: The Coddling of the American Mind

SYMBY is almost here, and I’m thrilled!

We all know that digital technology is having a large-scale impact on our world – our cultures, politics, relationships, jobs, etc.  The list goes on and on.

And the current zeitgeist seems to suggest, no matter where one lands on various topics of concern, that the overall effect is negative.

After all, how many times have you noticed yourself staring into your phone for no real reason?  How many times have you heard a comment about „phone addiction“ at a dinner party, or in the news, or in a video on YouTube – which you were probably watching on your phone!

But is it really that we are just developing bad habits?  Or is a fundamental paradigm shift taking place?

We are now at a stage in human history, and human evolution, where we are not only making tools, but our tools are so sophisticated that they are starting to really shape us.  Therefore, a major question of the next decade is whether or not humans will be able to create genuine artificial intelligence, rather than what we have now, which is a kind of narrow artificial intelligence (which includes everything from chess bots, to computer vision systems in cars, to the recommender algorithms used by various social media platforms).

And as we hurtle toward that future, what will our relationship to AI be?  Will we continue to be addicted to the technology?

Maybe another way to think about our “addiction” to technology is to consider it from the perspective of developing a relationship with a new form of “intelligence”.

And at the moment, what we are experiencing could be described as “digital parasitism” – where big tech companies use smart technologies to take our data, violate our privacy, make us cranky, and in the meanwhile, they make all the profit.

Is this the kind of relationship we want to have with new AI technologies?

What happened to the optimism of the early internet days?  Where is the spirit of adventure?

To be clear – tech companies have also driven innovations that benefit us in ways previously unimaginable, and many are struggling with the enormous responsibility that comes along with being on the cutting edge of such massively revolutionary technology.  But maintaining those complex, expensive systems may be what is blinding them from going to the next level.

That’s where Symby comes in.

Symby’s first job is to help students.  To truly extend human intelligence, with search technology that delivers focused, high quality results, and from a source that isn’t beholden to advertisers.  It is a tool students can really learn with, and that protects their privacy along the way.

Symby is the artificial intelligence that represents a new way of thinking about AI, and our relationship to digital technology in general.

Rather than digital parasitism, we want to create a product that is all about „digital symbiosis„.

And Symby is learning too – every time you search for something, we work on Symby to help it get better, and to deliver relevant, accurate information.  Symby also strives to keep the content appropriate for learners, keeping them as safe as possible from inappropriate images and content.

We have high hopes for Symby, and are developing other products to expand Symby’s capabilities.  And we have a lot of cool ideas to keep a lookout for in the future.  But our highest hope is that by focusing on education, we can start to influence the direction of this technological paradigm shift, and bring back some of that enthusiasm for digital innovation, as well as fostering a healthier relationship with technology, so that it really works for you, and not the other way around.

Try www.symby.com today, and be a part of that change!

What The Covid-19 Pandemic and Complex Global Challenges Should Teach Us

2020 was a challenging year. And a particularly tragic one as well.

And yet, we are compelled to make something out of it, to see what we can learn for the future – because, like it or not, we live in a rapidly changing technological age, with newly emergent challenges on the horizon, all of which need to be confronted by an interconnected global village.

Where to begin?

Most obviously, the worldwide pandemic has exposed the weaknesses of the school system, and the lack of proper integration of digital technology.

By using truly „old school“ methods and technologies to accomplish „online-learning“, we are failing both our educators and our students.

And yet, digital technologies hold so much promise!

Today, you can learn ANY PLACE and ANY TIME.

So why are we stuck in the past?

Maybe because the challenges seem so daunting; increased automation, growing political instability, income inequality, environmental concerns, the rise of social media, etc, etc.

At BOLD BRAINS, we believe the best way to tackle these issues is to start by taking on the challenge of harnessing digital technology to help everyone with lifelong learning, to harness the power of artificial intelligence to improve human intelligence, and to leverage our ability to connect online to strengthen our connections offline, in the real world.

Where others see only challenges, we see opportunities!

This is why we need to be bold, and harness the power of our imagination, creativity, and our technology, to manifest a better future for generations to come.

We look forward to you joining us on this adventure. And we encourage you to look bravely toward the future.


As the official film geek here at Bold Brains, I’ve nominated myself to review family-friendly content that, if not educational, at least won’t turn your kids’ brains into oozing puddles of goop (SpongeBob, I’m looking at you)!

The only problem with starting the movie review series with this one is that it is just so darn good – it sets the bar very high!

The story is classic: Katie Mitchell is about to start college (where she’s going to study film), and her dad, Rick, is having trouble not only letting go, but relating to his maturing daughter.  Katie’s got a younger brother and a very sweet, quirky mother – but it’s the Katie and Rick relationship that’s the beating heart of the movie.

Sprinkle in a tech mogul who inadvertently unleashes a super powerful AI that seeks to enslave the world via smart phones and, eventually, the titular machines, and you have an adventure film that taps into the current zeitgeist and pulls at the heart strings all at the same time.

To say much more about the plot would just be too spoiler-laden, but it’s the kind of family viewing that can be enjoyed by quite young kids (my 5 year-old had a blast), teens, parents, and grandparents.  Which is kind of unusual.  A lot of films – like DreamWorks or Disney stuff – tends to be aimed at younger kids, and we adults are just along for the ride.

Here, the bittersweet storyline is all too resonate for parents.

One of the biggest challenges parents face is – and this is tough to admit – accepting your children as they are.  Sometimes, their interests differ from ours.  Other times, they follow in our footsteps in ways that make us feel pretty proud of ourselves, although, surely every parent can also relate to the challenge of watching their kids making the same mistakes they made growing up.

Of course, parents and guardians are there to help shape the next generation, and we all wish to make that positive impact on our kids, without being overbearing, and without letting them just run wild. Striking that right balance is tough.

And this is right where we find Rick Mitchell – he’s worked incredibly hard for his kids, made sacrifices, and now, his first born is ready to venture forth on her own, and he just can’t quite relate to her passion for film.  But he tries.

What Rick discovers is, well, that balance.  He can’t make Katie more like him.  And he wouldn’t want to.  But he remains curious about her, and tries to see her perspective.  And this really hit home for me – any time, as a parent, I’ve blown it, it’s because I’ve tilted too much one way or another, but that sweet spot is just remaining interested.  Approaching our kids with curiosity is so crucial.  You might not always like what you see, but we parents are on a journey with our children – and sometimes, what we learn from them is that there are parts of ourselves we’re not that comfortable with, and by remaining curious about them, we can actually make progress in understanding ourselves.

Anyway, that’s my philosophy.

What do you think?

Check out THE MITCHELLS VERSUS THE MACHINES and post your own review, and any parenting or philosophical insights the movie stirs up!

Also – bring the tissue box.

Side effects of the movie include getting the sniffles and a little misty-eyed.