🔮 [CORRECTED] Creative AI; Apple & Google vs Viv; rich dudes & immortality; the future of cities; Trump, shamans and aliens++ #66
Creative machine intelligence; movies, jazz and writing. The problems of life extension. The battle for the future interface. What media companies must do. Tetris’ bizarre history. Tripping shamans. Living with aliens… in a simulation.
Hope this stimulates some great conversation this week ;)
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THIS IS A CORRECTED VERSION WITH URLS FIXED. Massive thanks to Martijn de Kuijper of Revue for sorting out the problem.
Dept of the near future
👴🏼 The bleak future of life extension. Charlotte Shane: “more rich, white men [and] not even the march of time can free us from our oligarchs.” THOUGHT PROVOKING
😗 Our future interface with the digital world will be through voice. EV reader, John Battelle, on Viv’s ambition to be the human interface and how it challenges Google and Apple’s dominance. Long-time expert Tim Bajarin on Viv and British-firm, Artifical Solutions. GOOD READS.
💡 Jeff Jarvis: “For [the young], content is a social token that feeds their conversations… Content is not king. Distribution is not king. Conversation is the kingdom.” Why media must rebuild around value, not volume. EXCELLENT
🔮 Is the future of business a company without workers, managers, or a CEO? The Tapscotts’ primer on decentralised autonomous organisations. RECOMMENDED
💰 “Capitalism concentrates wealth.. and concentrated wealth results in less wealth, and far less collective well-being.” MUST READ
Dept of pay-it-forward
😀 Exponential View is closing in on 10,000 readers. To say thank you to all of you, 25 readers can get a free copy of Sam Arbesman’s new book, Overcomplicated. Sam is Scientist-in-residence at Lux Capital.
Dept of artificial creative intelligence
💎 Space Odyssey 2001 rendered in the style of Picasso. STUNNING. Bhautik Joshi applies semantic style transfer to take us from Kubrick to cubist. He previously set van Gogh onto Blade Runner. This type of semantic style transfer is novel. It really only emerged earlier this year, but the technique is out in the wild and the hackers are hacking. This is progress through proliferation.
Sunspring is a movie whose screenwriter, Benjamin, is a recurrent neural network. Benjamin was trained on dozens of sci-fi screenplays and “overtime learned to imitate the structure of a screenplay, producing stage directions and well-formatted character lines.” The movie is weird and occasionally moving (and surprisingly well-cast).
(We’ve written about recurrent neural networks generating text, e.g. EV reader, Samim’s work to generate political speeches using RNNs, EV#12)
🎷 DeepJazz uses deep learning to generate jazz. DeepJazz was built in 36-hours using some open-source deep-learning toolkit. Another example of progress through proliferation.
Can we use computational methods to better understand art? This is what visual stylometry aims to do, using “computational and statistical methods to calculate and compare these underlying image features in ways humans never could before. Instead of relying only on what our senses perceive, we can use these mathematical techniques to discover novel insights into artists and artworks.”
Brief review of Maluuba’s ground-breaking AI-based text comprehension system. (Quite impressive, approaching human quality.)
🌟 A16Z’s Frank Chen has put up a really fantastic 45-minute primer on machine learning and deep learning.
Dept of the man-made environment
More than half of humanity lives in cities, but their vibrancy is fragile. Jonathan Glancey on the hollowing out of cities: “We need to seed our city centres and their inner rings, especially those that have been hollowed out, with new forms of enterprise, production and manufacture.”
Walkability seems like a desirable goal within cities. This excellent study from Richard Florida shows a high-correlation between urban density, walkability and venture capital investment per head of the population. And given that most ‘startups’ never reach industrial scale, perhaps this is the shape of a new urban artisanal sector.
Data: the top US cities by venture capital returns. (Washington DC leads.)
We’ve proclaimed the arrival of the anthopocene, a new geological era fundamentally shaped by man. Think of our extensive cities and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. (For more see EV#44.) Here is a challenge to that idea, rather that “humans have been niche-constructing through their entire history.” THOUGHT PROVOKING
Short morsels to appear smart at dinner parties
💻 The incredibly weird history of Tetris. MUST READ if you were ever addicted to the game.
Bank of Starbucks: More cash held on customer’s loyalty cards than many banks
Microsoft researchers can detect cancer early from your search logs.
Nuclear Trump: what would it mean to have the Donald’s finger on the red button? Gripping read.
fMRI study of shamans tripping out shows stronger functionally connectivity with the posterior cingulate cortex. (Something is happening, they aren’t just closing their eyes and flailing their hands.)
👽 Yes, there have been aliens. “The pessimism required to doubt the existence, at some point in time, of an advanced extraterrestrial civilization borders on the irrational.”
The New Yorker on the simulation argument. (Read this alongside the aliens piece above.)
What you are up to
Congrats to the following EV subscribers for their OBEs and MBEs in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list this year: Mike Butcher, Saul Klein, Alice Bentinck, Wendy Tan White & Matt Clifford. (Know someone who got an honour who isn’t reading EV? Time to invite them to subscribe!)
EV reader, Moritz Mueller-Freitag, on “10 Data Acquisition Strategies for Startups”. Rather good if you are building a product with machine learning in it. (Which I assume is any digital product or any service-based offer which has capacity for optimisation.)
Silicon Valley has a problem problem. Riva Melissa Tez: “As part of the startup ecosystem we’ve overemphasized the need for CEOs to sell us a vision to the point of dishonesty.”
😀 And one to set you up for a fantastic week, EV subscriber Izzy McRae, on how to say super-charged thank you.
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