Monday, 7 May 2012

Managing discomfort

In any particular situation involving discomfort there are two general responses: to accept the discomfort and push on; or to seek to minimise the discomfort. It is not possible to lead a productive and fulfilling life (or perhaps any kind of life) without using a combination of both responses.

In general, the latter response is associated with many human vices, such as laziness and overeating. However, if we always accept discomfort, without seeking to minimise it, we can damage ourselves and therefore not perform optimally (assuming of course that we have the strength of will to endure the discomfort).

How can we help ourselves to make the optimium choice?

Education and experience are essential, in part because they give us mechanisms to interpret the data about our discomfort and assess the level of risk of damage that the data indicates.

Is it possible to shortcut that education and experience through technology? Introspective technologies that give us more objective data to our present state should be able to facilitate our decision making.

For example, imagine you are running for exercise. You are feeling pretty tired, and you're trying to decide when it is optimal for you to turn back. You want to do enough exercise to maintain or increase you level fitness, but you don't want to be too tired for work the next day. Data on blood glucose, distance run vs previous runs, etc can help us make more informed choices. Imagine asking the question "Computer, should I continue running?", with a response such as "The data suggests that you should run for another 10 minutes before turning back, based on your current tiredness level, previous performance and work commitments tomorrow".

No comments: