Azeem Azhar’s Weekly Wondermissive: Future, Tech & Society
It’s my second week away with my family, which means that we have another extraordinary edition for you today. Today’s EV is a bit shorter, but we have curated our best podcasts for you, which you’ll find in the Dept of conversations. Juicy morsels are at the very end, so don’t forget to check them out.
If you missed last week’s guest curation by one of the leading experts on the legal and business implications of blockchain, EV reader Kevin Werbach, find it here.
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Dept of the near future
📭 Twitter, Facebook and YouTube clamped down on major disinformation efforts run by the Chinese government. Twitter alone had to tackle 200,000 rogue accounts, which were promoting misinformation about the Hong Kong protests. Twitter’s official note is here; follow-up with this review of Facebook and Twitter’s tackling of China’s disinformation campaign, and YouTube’s disabling 210 channels that spread disinformation. This is an increasingly common pattern in our fractured world. Platforms perform social-civic tasks which governments would be unable to do themselves. But how will the platforms maintain accountability to us, the citizens? Should there be some supranational body on which they sit (a sort of ‘Internet Security Council’, with representatives from nations and platforms players up and down the stack)? Or something else? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
🔎 Cerebras released the world’s largest chip, one specifically designed for AI applications. Clocking in at over a trillion transistors, the chip has 60x more transistors that Graphcore’s impressive IPU, and 200 more than the splendid A12 Bionic in an iPhone X. (More detailed technical review here.) The chip industry is stepping up to the compute demands of artificial intelligence systems. These systems are fundamentally constrained by being able to move massive amounts of data around, which is a driver behind Cerebras’ architecture.
🌡️ Climate breakdown: 409.51ppm | 3,923 days
Each week, we’re going to remind you of the CO2 levels in the atmosphere and the number of days until reaching the 450ppm threshold.
The latest measurement (as of August 21): 409.51ppm; 12 months ago: 408ppm; 25 years ago: 360ppm; 250 years ago, est: 250ppm. Share this reminder with your community by forwarding this email or tweeting this.
♨️ July was the Earth’s hottest month since records began.
🍃 Wind farms are now so cheap that they can be built and operated for less than the cost of just buying fuel for an equivalent natural gas plant. Part of the plummeting price of wind power is due to improvements in technology, which allows for more power to be generated per turbine.
Scientists have consistently underestimated the rate of climate change; now we know why.
📉 This graph shows that late summer Arctic sea ice is declining in the same sense that walking off the edge of a cliff is a decline.
🚀 This edition has been supported by Deloitte Private
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Dept of conversations
Over the past two years, we’ve built a curriculum about the intersection of AI, business and society through the Exponential View podcast. To bring them all closer to the new and old listeners among you, we put together a list of episodes organised by the topic they cover.
Follow 📖 emoji to access full transcripts (open to members only).
Big, big, big ideas
Homo Deus with Yuval Noah Harari [Apple Podcasts / Google Podcasts / Spotify / Breaker / Overcast]
Surveillance Economy with Shoshana Zuboff [Apple Podcasts / Google Podcasts / Spotify / Breaker / Overcast] 📖 Full transcript
The Future of Work and Democracy in the Information Age with Matthew Taylor [Apple Podcasts / Google Podcasts / Spotify / Breaker / Overcast]
The core AI syllabus
The State of Machine Learning with Danny Lange [Apple Podcasts / Google Podcasts / Spotify / Breaker / Overcast]
Beneficial Artificial Intelligence with Stuart Russell [Apple Podcasts / Google Podcasts / Spotify / Breaker / Overcast] 📖 Full transcript
Designing AI Responsibly with Joanna Bryson [Apple Podcasts / Google Podcasts / Spotify / Breaker / Overcast] 📖 Full transcript
AI’s Near Future with Jürgen Schmidhuber [Apple Podcasts / Google Podcasts / Spotify / Breaker / Overcast] 📖 Full transcript
The Truth About Autonomy with Mary Missy Cummings [Apple Podcasts / Google Podcasts / Spotify / Breaker / Overcast] 📖 Full transcript
The State of Artificial Intelligence with Jack Clark [Apple Podcasts / Google Podcasts / Spotify / Breaker / Overcast]
Embedding AI in Business with Paul Daugherty [Apple Podcasts / Google Podcasts / Spotify / Breaker / Overcast] 📖 Full transcript
China, an AI Superpower with Kai-Fu Lee [Apple Podcasts / Google Podcasts / Spotify / Breaker / Overcast]
Go here for other collections, covering:
- The future of work
- Innovation and entrepreneurship
- Data economy and society
- New economics for the near future
- Politics and democracy
- Beyond biology
Short morsels to appear smart at dinner parties
🎭 Mood affects consumers’ willingness to adopt in-store mobile payments.
🎖️ Planning on joining the Russian navy? Here’s how you can get to the top.
People in the US are selling illegal guns on Snapchat.
🦠 What is ‘blobology’?
This is a glorious timelapse of the Earth’s rotation. 😍
AI could recreate the rules of ancient board games, which will make the family arguments at Christmas about what the rules are and who’s cheating especially fun.
We hear a lot about the foreign fighters who join ISIS, but we very rarely hear from them. This is a fascinating interview with a man who has been from Kosovo to Syria and back again—and still wants to carry on the fight.
I’m back next week when Exponential View returns to normal. In the meantime, please help spread the word about this wondermissive:
Have a great week,
What you’re up to—notes from EV readers
Gemma Milne’s book Smoke & Mirrors: How Hype Obscures the Future and How to See Past It is available for pre-order, too!
Pete Warden: Can we avoid the Internet of trash?
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