Artificial intelligence has a break out year; the virtuous cycle in renewables; cult of the like; autonomous car snitches; consciousness & tigers++ #39

The Exponential View

The pace of AI is speeding up & 2015 was a breakthrough year. The cult of the like & the myth of the reputation economy. Good news for renewables. Thinking through the food industry’s economic risks.

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Dept of near future

🚀 “The pace of advancement in AI is speeding up.” Why 2015 was a breakthrough year in AI. MUST READ

👍🏽 Bret Easton Ellis on the cult of the like: “What is being erased in the reputation economy are the contradictions inherent in all of us. Those of us who reveal flaws and inconsistencies become terrifying to others, the ones to avoid.” THOUGHTFUL

😀How and why did consciousness become interesting again? Really nice survey. RECOMMENDED

📚Leadership through fiction: an MBA course tries to train empathy in tomorrow’s bosses with a literature course. INTERESTING

♻ Positive feedback loops are helping renewables exceed price/performance predictions. Some very good news & great graphs.  (Full report) h/t @sgourley GOOD NEWS

📱How the smartphone has eased the refugee’s flight & plightUPLIFTING

Dept of artificial intelligence

The lead story in today’s EV has some telling data illustrating the genuine explosion in AI. The interesting thing is how this explosion is happening across multiple vectors: the performance of AI systems, the rate with which they are being deployed and the breadth of applications know using them.

In the past 4 years alone, error rates in an image recognition benchmark have dropped from 24% to 4%. Crowdflower reports a 50-fold increase in demand for training data sets in four years. And Google reports that they are now applying deep learning to more than 2,700 different projects within the company - up from fewer than 100 three years ago (27x).

This week Facebook open-sourced a hardware platform optimised for AI tasks, joining Google and Microsoft in open-source key AI know-how. The rationale is clearly competitive. One way is to establish de facto standards around methods and processes tied back to these firms. Another is to raise the quality of AI innovation that takes place outside of these firms, and, in turn, improve the quality of potential partnerships or acquisitions.

Baidu announces its own self-driving car in partnership with BMW.

Cambridge University launches a new centre for ethics in artificial intelligence.

Bayesian Program Learning outperforms humans in recognition tasks. (Report by NY Times)

Dept of artificial meat & milk & minions

Jeremy Coller, investor and founder of Coller Capital, argues that “unpriced risks from the impacts of wider environmental, social and governance issues on animal factory farms.” Examples include anti-bacterial resistance developing in farm animals - and thus threatening the supply chain. (Chipotle warned of this earlier this year).

Industrial farming is a pretty huge issue, replete with ethical issues as discussed in EV#28, before we consider its industry and systemic risks. Farming is responsible for a full 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

🐖 Jeremy Coller’s full 31-page report is available here and makes for nice leisurely reading. One corollary of Coller’s report is the importance of moving towards new forms of food production, like aeroponics. It also illustrates the importance of finding new ways of producing animal-like proteins, as the current system, of billions of farm animals, imposes an enormous environmental, ethical & economic load.

Hot on the gills of the AquaAdvantage GM salmon, comes 🐔the FDA’s approval of a transgenic chicken. This chicken isn’t for eating rather the product of a specific drug.

Ripple Labs gets backing for making milk-free milk.

AeroFarms raises $20m for its high-intensity aeroponic farms.

🐉Will the proliferation of CRISPR lead to whacky experiments to create improbable creatures (like dragons and unicorns?)

Short morsels for snacking

📲"You are your phone. The pattern of smartphone use is the pattern of the self"

When your boss is an algorithm: Uber controls its drivers more than you might expect.

👑The founder generation: an MTV survey of teens reports that they primarily see themselves as founders.  (Of course, if everyone is a founder then being a founder is unexceptional. Rude awakenings beckon.)

😩On the internet, we can carry our prejudice with us. People with ‘black-sounding’ names are less likely to get rooms on AirBNB. And whites earn more than blacks on eBay. #deptofnasty

Computerised linguistic analysis can detect Alzheimer’s with 81% accuracy.

Google announced it’s D-Wave quantum computer speeds up certain types of algorithms by 100,000,000 times. Here is a balanced view of what that really means.

🐬Researchers visualise what dolphins see via echolocation.

Renewables have grown to 15.5% of US power capacity.

🐅Conservation first as rehabilitated Siberian tiger gives birth in the wild. (Sweet story.)

Turmeric is a wonder spice and effective drug.  h/t @marvinliao

How the cost of LIDAR, a core feature of navigation systems for some self-driving cars, has dropped from $75k to less than $500 in a few years.

👮🏼 A semi-autonomous system in a car called the police to report a hit-and-run after the driver attempt to flee the scene.

What you are up to

This section highlights interesting activities by subscribers of Exponential View.

Thumbs up to EV subscriber Reid Hoffman’s support for the $1bn Open.AI research initiative.

Congrats to EV reader Barney Pell: X-Prize has approved his MoonExpress launch contract.

End notes

Thanks for bearing with the illness issue last week! Hope you enjoyed this weeks, and please take a moment to forward this to a friend. The sign-up link is http://azeem.io/s