🔮 Brain special: Neuralink, psychedelics, consciousness; digital monopolies; peak car, negative mass, healthy Italians++ #110
What are brain-computer interfaces? When will we get them? How should we deal with monopolies like Facebook and Amazon? How does machine learning change our relationship with knowledge? Higher states of consciousness, negative mass and breakthroughs with coal.
Hope this inspires some great conversation.
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Dept of the near future
🔮 On Elon Musk’s Neuralink, brain-computer interfaces and the future of humanity. THOUGHT-PROVOKING long read at 38k words. (Neuralink isn’t the only firm doing this. Take Facebook & Kernel, for example. See also this good introductory survey of brain-computer interface (BCI) technologies. For a sober, contrary view on timelines of BCIs read Antonio Regalado.)
☣️ Monopolies like Amazon and Facebook need to be reined in. “Ultimately, the super-platforms–in harming both the content providers upstream and consumers downstream–can undermine our economic well-being and democracy. Competition law has at its origins the protection of society from the misuse of economic and political power. Thus, our competition authorities must step up.” EXCELLENT
🌏 The pendulum swings between globalisation and nation state, argues HSBC economist, Stephen King.
👾 Alien knowledge. AI and machine learning are changing our relationship with knowledge as justified true beliefs. Does that matter if this alien insight works? STUNNING essay by Dave Weinberger.
🤔 Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu: A person is a person through other persons, argues Abeba Birhane. GREAT READ
Dept of artificial intelligence & automation
VC Scott Hartley: In an age of artificial intelligence, at “the moment of technological inflection, we need to double down on the liberal arts”
Erik Brynjolfsson: The world we face today is of rapidly changing work, not a “world without work.”
Gary Marcus is an AI contrarian warning of the limits of our current statistical (“deep learning”) approaches. RECOMMENDED.
New AI system predicts heart attacks as well or better than a doctor. Exciting.
Dept of social networks
Facebook had its annual developer conference where Mark Zuckerberg emphasised the importance of the camera and augmented reality for the future of the business. Facebook brazenly copied and then surpassed every feature of its soon-to-be even more distant competitor, Snapchat.
Ben Thompson forcefully explains how Facebook’s monopoly operates and why it harms the consumer interest:
A monopoly, though, doesn’t need that drive to innovate — or, more accurately, doesn’t need to derive a profit from innovation, which leads to lazy spending and prioritizing tech demos over shipping products. After all, the monopoly can simply take others’ innovation and earn even more profit than they would otherwise.
😱 EV reader, Hung Lee, reckons Facebook’s thrust into augmented reality even challenges the basis of our epistemology. This means, Hung argues, “we have to become better story tellers.”
Farhad Manjoo: It is Facebook’s network strength that allows it to dominate every rival.
Jonathan Taplin on why it is time for government to treat Facebook (and Google, Apple and Amazon) like monopolies.
The Guardian pulls out of Facebook’s Instant Articles programme.
Longish profile of Yann LeCun who runs Facebook’s AI research.
The 50-cent party. Fascinating insight into Chinese government employees who take to social media to maintain control of the dialogue.
Friends, faster, further. Sinon Aral demonstrates that fitness social networks fo encourage people to run more, more quickly. The social contagion resulted in a 30% of so improvement in distance runs, speed and calories burnt.
Small morsels to appear smart at dinner parties
🍭 EV reader, Anil Seth, has demonstrated that use of psychedelics does induce a ‘heightened state of consciousness’. Academic paper here.
🥇 The most beautiful maths equation.
Every flat in this London development sold to foreign investors.
AVs could reduce fuel consumption by 44% by 2050.
🐦 Homing pigeons have a capacity for intergenerational culture.
U.S. auto market has peaked. Industry sales driven by “recession-era level of incentives”.
World’s first nanocar race. 🏎️
🤐 Human-caused climate change has rerouted a whole river; the first time on record.
🇮🇹 Despite a struggling economy, Italian’s are the world’s healthiest people.
For the first time since Industrial Revolution, Britain goes full day without burning coal. 🙌 (40% of our electricity generation was coal powered in 2012.)
🔥 We’re hosting an Exponential View salon on Hacking Democracy with Professor Luciano Floridi, journalist Carole Cadwalladr, cultural commenter and novelist Hari Kunzru, and civic tech pioneer, Tom Loosemore in London of May 24th. Sign-up to attend here.
EV reader, Evan Nisselson, is hosting his annual Machine Vision summit in New York on May 24 & 25. Use code ExponentialView for an 87% discount on tickets.
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