🔮 Fake news; augmented reality; humans and work; rethinking intelligence; mail-order brides, phone romeos, Aristotle++ #107
Corporations in the age of inequality. Are Google and Facebook trying hard enough to battle fake news? AR might be the next big thing for Apple. 13 industries that will be seriously affected by driverless cars. The limits of intelligence. Aristotle’s impact on AI.
Hope this sparks great conversations!
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Dept of the near future
💰 Corporations in the age of inequality. **MUST READ. “**The real engine fueling rising income inequality is “firm inequality”. In an increasingly … winner-take-most economy the … most-skilled employees cluster inside the most successful companies, their incomes rising dramatically compared with those of outsiders.” Nicolas Bloom offers some prescriptions.
🗞 Inside the fake news fight at Google, Apple, Snapchat & others. USEFUL survey how several of the major platforms are tackling the fake news problem. (Also some details of Facebook’s new fact-checking alerts, designed to tackle fake news.)
👩🏼🎨 Machines, time and human meaning. EXCELLENT essay on the how we have related to time, work and autonomy as we have automated work. ’We have spent so much time valuing and finding meaning in our lives through our careers and work. Getting kicked out of the factory may require us to reevaluate what it means to have a “meaningful life.” We may need to be a little less anxious about time, a little less divided between work and life, a little less possessive about what we’ve gotten “by ourselves for ourselves.”’
👩💻 Ryan Avent: “[C]ontinued high levels of employment with weak growth in wages and productivity is not evidence of disappointing technological progress; it is what you’d expect to see if technological progress were occurring rapidly in a world where thin safety nets mean that dropping out of the labour force leads to a life of poverty.” THOUGHT PROVOKING (You can hear Ryan and me in conversation on this topic in a podcast from last year.)
🍥 What is really behind the populist surge? asks Richard Florida. More data points to a cultural response to cosmopolitanism than ‘economic anxieties’. GOOD READ (See also: Ray Dalio, hedge fund impresario, has written a 50+ page note on populism and how it runs its course.)
🚙 Driverless cars aren’t just going to upend the auto-industry. Here are 13 other industries likely to be affected. GOOD SURVEY which probably doesn’t go far enough to outline the seismic affects of moving to autonomous vehicles.
🍎 Apple appears to be gearing up to a 2018 launch of augmented reality spectacles. (This suggests that IDC’s forecast that less than 20m augmented reality sets will be sold by 2020 is conservative or Apple will have a turkey on its hands.)
Dept of intelligence (human, artificial)
🔮 Do we fear super-intelligent robots because we have always used intelligence as a patina to disguise prejudice and power, asks Stephen Cave in a THOUGHT-PROVOKING essay?
For many decades, the advent of formal intelligence testing tended to exacerbate rather than remedy the oppression of women
This line of thinking was extended to become a core part of the logic of colonialism. The argument ran like this: non-white peoples were less intelligent; they were therefore unqualified to rule over themselves and their lands. It was therefore perfectly legitimate – even a duty, ‘the white man’s burden’ – to destroy their cultures and take their territory.
And he writes:
We humans are far more likely to deploy intelligent systems against each other, or to become over-reliant on them. As in the fable of the sorcerer’s apprentice, if AIs do cause harm, it’s more likely to be because we give them well-meaning but ill-thought-through goals – not because they wish to conquer us. Natural stupidity, rather than artificial intelligence, remains the greatest risk.
Cave concludes, what if we thought the most intelligent people were those
who went to meditate in remote places, to free themselves of worldly desires; or if the cleverest of all were those who returned to spread peace and enlightenment. Would we still fear robots smarter than ourselves?
💡 Aristotle, as Cave illustrates, was a proponent of rule by those possessing the ‘rational element’. Aristotle also set the stage of the foundational logic that ultimately led to the computer revolution, argues Chris Dixon.
Dixon’s essay is PERSPICACIOUS. My favourite insight is this:
Logic began as a way to understand the laws of thought. It then helped create machines that could reason according to the rules of deductive logic. Today, deductive and inductive logic are being combined to create machines that both reason and learn.
Christopher Mims outlines the dynamics of chip firms responding to the specific performance requirements on AI & robotics sectors to push past Moore’s Law limits.
Nathan Benaich on investing in AI startups. (Great presentation.)
Andrew Ng, one of the most influential scientists behind the current AI boom, is leaving Baidu, where he built a 1300-person AI research group. To where?
I skimmed several papers on learning this week but not enough to include. They will appear next week, hopefully.
Dept of transport (electric, autonomous)
We already know that electric vehicles are going to be cheaper to run than internal combustion engine vehicles. Electric vehicles also seem to have lower maintenance costs. This would make sense as a Tesla Model S had fewer than 150 moving parts (including drivetrain and windows) and a modern ICE vehicle has more than 10,000. (We covered the reliability of the Model S in EV#81 - driving almost flawlessly after 200k miles.)
Turns out that electric vehicles may retain their value even better than ICE vehicles. And that is down to the residual value in the battery packs. This FASCINATING piece of research from Sam Korus, Ark Invest, argues that electric utilities may want to pick up older EV batteries to mitigate peak power investment. The result? “[T]he battery alone in a 10-year-old Tesla would retain more value than an entire vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine (ICE).”
In a separate research piece, Ark Invest, is pretty bullish about EV demand, reckoning that 17m EVs will be sold by 2022. This is substantially ahead of BNEF’s forecasts which we have quoted previously. BNEF estimates that 17m number won’t be hit until the 2030-31 timeframe. (Global car sales were 76.86m last year).
As its tax and regulatory arbitrage comes under fire, is the age of the cheap Uber ride over?
BMW wants to field a Level 5 autonomous vehicle by 2021.
Interview with Hudson Sully (yes that one) on autonomous transport. Interesting section on the uncanny valley risk: “The more you take humans out of engagement with the process, the less likely you make them able to quickly and effectively intervene.”
Artist James Bridle shows how to trap a self-driving car.
Stunning photos of the ship graveyards of the former Aral Sea
Small morsels to appear smart at dinner parties
Putin’s Chekist cover has been blown. A former CIA analyst writes.
☠️ 80% of the global opioid supply is consumed in the U.S.
Access to nature reduces unhappiness.
🤳🤞India’s phone Romeos dial hundreds of wrong numbers to find Ms Right.
Mail order brides are turning the tables.
World’s largest solar energy power park. 🌞
74% of iPhone apps don’t last a month in Top 25.
🎭 How the arts foster scientific success. Not two cultures.
A hyuge thanks to the readers (and Gmail spam team) who helped diagnose last week’s non-delivery snafu. Hopefully, this week’s newsletter will hit your inboxes with aplomb. It would be a huge help if you can move this mail into your inbox (or add the email address to your sender’s list.)
Thanks to a handful of you (particularly @eaterofsun) for giving me good feedback on recommendations that didn’t cut the mustard in previous issues.
In return, you’ve got an extra long set of recommendations which I hope will give you some intellectual stimulation, great conversations and, best of all, a change of mind in the coming week.
P.S. If you are in the UK, remember clocks went forward while you slept.