Deep Neural Pathways

I sometimes worry that by specializing in certain of tasks at the exclusion of others, I will lose the ability to learn new skills; that my neural pathways will get frozen in a certain configuration, baking my current skillset into my brain.

But maybe it isn't that bad. You lose flexibility, but you gain efficiency. People who are great at their job do have it "wired" in them in some sense. They see what is relevant from so far, it's eerie. Maybe it's because they ONLY see what is relevant to their area of expertise.

Of course, one should thrive to bake in the right sets of defaults. And to know when to reconfigure.

Yesterday on Slack, a colleague (Simon) linked a video of a guy learning to ride an inverse bicycle that turns right when you steer left and vice-versa. Turns out it's amazingly hard. But after eight months, he got it. And guess what: after a while he couldn't ride the normal bicycle anymore -- he had to try 20 minutes for it to come back.

So what he did was not that he became more flexible: he overwrote a set of baked circuitry with another set. I don't know what the moral of the story is, but it certainly makes you think.