🔮 Apple is 40; AI, bots & interfaces; the future of sex; CEO narcissism; mind control; π++ #56

🔮 Apple is 40; AI, bots & interfaces; the future of sex; CEO narcissism; mind control; π++ #56
The Exponential View

Apple’s next 40 years; the importance of computational thinking; Tesla’s stellar Model 3 launch; Snapchat; how the state has lost to tech firms; the future of sex; visualising convolutional networks; AI-bots as interface; narcissistic CEOs; sphere-packing; neuroplasticity and transcranial stimulation; rising sea-levels & Saudi plans for the post-oil era.

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Dept of the near future

🍏 “In Apple’s first 40 years it shipped 1,591,092,250 computers”. Horace Dediu on why the next 40 years could be as fruitful. EXCELLENT. (Also on Apple: a SUPERB look at Regis Mckenna’s original notebooks and creative executions from Apple’s formative years.)

⩞ On Computational Thinking. I recently re-read Jeanette Wing’s seminal paper on computational thinking from exactly ten years ago. Still WONDERFUL and more relevant today. (Also her thoughts 10 years on.)

💡 Tesla’s launch of the Model 3 garnered $7.5bn of pre-orders on launch day. Astonishing on many levels. Wired magazine profile. (GOOD READ)

👻 How Snapchat is climbing the ladder of engagement, attention & revenue. GREAT ANALYSIS by Ben Thompson

🌊 Great interactive on how coastal cities will flood with rising sea-levels. ENGAGING. (See also commentary about this simulation.)

The state has lost. Western democracy is now run by tech firms. PROVOCATIVE Morozov.  (Also, awareness of mass government surveillance increases self-censorship online.)

Dept of artificial intelligence

💎 Is AlphaGo such a big deal, and what are its limitations? Yes. “We have learned to use computer systems to reproduce at least some forms of human intuition. Now we’ve got so many wonderful challenges ahead: to expand the range of intuition types we can represent, to make the systems stable, to understand why and how they work”

Interesting profile of Demis Hassabis in MIT Tech Review. Highly accessible. (Skip if you’ve already got a reasonable flavour of DeepMind.)

Benedict Evans on AI and the chatbot opportunity. How do bots represent a third phase in accessing your customers? First was the web, with the hassle of getting them to your website. Then the app, and the challenges of having them download your app. Will the AI chatbot provide a new easy-access channel? And are today’s AI’s up to the task?

IBM’s TrueNorth is a neuromorphic chip inspired by the brain. It’s already showing exceptional performance and extremely low power consumption.

🌟 O'Reilly’s Machine Intelligence: excellent, accessible series of essays of new topics in machine intelligence from the leading academics and practitioners. Fairly high level and accessible. (Disclosure: I have only read a couple of them.)

Topological visualisation of a four-layer convolutional neural network.

Dept of pay-it-forward

Exponential View grows exclusively by your referrals. It’s a hugely rewarding when the community grows.

Please find a moment to tweet a recommendation and forward this to a few colleagues with whom you work (sign-up link). Большое спасибо!

Dept of sex, life & embodiment

💑 Harvard Professor Henry Greely: “I confidently predict that people will still be having sex in 20 to 40 years’ time, but they will be using sex to conceive their babies much less often.”

🚼 Exponential View reader, Martin Varsavksy, has recognised this opportunity with his new startup Prelude Fertility. Read 1843 Magazine’s profile on Martin and ‘rational reproduction.’

Of course, in an evolutionary frame, sexual reproduction is something of a conundrum. Compared to asexual reproduction, sexual reproduction is half as efficient, and “if all [men] do is eat, without an ability to produce babies, what long term benefit are they to society?” A new Kyoto University study shows males 'cost less’ when there are more females. (Best read and considered in conjunction with the above.)


In LA, PodShare is a coworking/coliving space for would be inventors-of-the-future. Rent is cheap but sex is banned. The bizarro alternative appears to be living in a wooden box in your friend’s front room (SF, $400 per month.)

Severing the mind-body connection: a more detailed look at Sergio Canavero’s plan to undertake a head transplant in 2017. (h/t @mrperrett)

Short morsels to appear smart at dinner parties

🚀 How many decimal places of π do you need to accurately fly across the Solar System? Less than you think.

Ukrainian mathematician, Maryna Viazovska, solved sphere-packing at higher dimensions (8- and 24-). “She’s pulled a Ramanujan.” AWESOME

CEO narcissism: the larger the signature, the poorer the performance & the higher the pay. h/t @pmarca

😖 Magnetic impulses on the brain reduce prejudicial thinking and religious fervour. ABSOLUTELY FASCINATING. (We discussed transcranial magnetic impulses with Anil Seth at the last Exponential Dinner.)

Just a superb infographic on neuroplasticity. (I am thinking of printing out and sticking on a wall.)

Cost Riva logs 75-days of 100% renewable energy. Hooray.

The Dutch parliament considers banning new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2025.

My old boss, John Micklethwait, on Saudi Arabia’s $2trn new fund & plans for a post-oil future.

Lovely, brief essay on the new Finnish model & the nation’s plan to introduce a universal basic income.

What it feels like when a robot takes your job. (On the story of GoButler’s human butlers replaced by a narrow optimization algorithm when the company pivotted flight search. Lots of caveats.)

A programming language for bacteria”. Web-based interface arriving soon.

What you are up to

EV Readers Samim Winiger,  Roelof Pieters and I discuss artificial intelligence, agency, education augmentation vs automation on his podcast, Ethical Machines.

Interesting profile of EV reader Shivon Zillis, a VC and author of the machine intelligence landscape. (ht @mediaczar)

End note

Amazing week. Honestly, the most interesting with largest ramifications is the success of the affordable Mode 3 launch. Still digesting what opportunities this creates (and how quickly) and whether this is the sort of things that decarbonises the economy even quicker.

Remember, you can also find me on Snapchat.


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