Cities & post-capitalism. Understanding AI: towards a cultural anthropology & getting into the blackbox. How to build an AI startup. Zuckerberg’s social VR. Blackberry, Nokia and disruption. The coming man-machine creativity partnership. Human exceptionalism and industrial farming. Stanford is an incubator. The ruining of Burning Man. Punk rock.
Savour this for the week ahead ;)
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Dept of the near future
🔮 Post-capitalism and the city. STUNNING essay by Paul Mason “you can easily see capitalism being replaced by a stagnant neo-feudalism.” Are cities the answer? (See also, the WEF on cities growing importance in global political economy.)
🤔 Can we understand AI? “Deciphering the black box has become exponentially harder and more urgent.” GOOD INTRO (See also, this interesting paper from Google on attacking discrimination in machine learning.)
🌟📼 On the anthropology of artificial intelligence. FANTASTIC keynote by Genevieve Bell on the cultural theories of AI.
🦄 How to build an AI startup. **EXCELLENT **
📼 Short video of Zuckerberg demonstrating Facebook’s new social VR app. The company is betting a lot on this. INTRIGUING
💡 Meditation at the grave: how Blackberry disrupted itself, with hints of Nokia’s collapse. GREAT HISTORY by Jean-Louis Gasée
Dept of cybernetics
This week, I’m just putting together several connected pieces about human and machine systems. I’m inspired by cybernetics as I slowly make my way through Thomas Rid’s detailed history of the subject.
Autodesk, a leading 3-d software firm, has a generative design lab. Human designers are experimenting with algorithmically designed furniture, like the beautiful Elbo chair.
EV reader, Sam Arbesman weighs in on the coming human-machine partnership in creativity.
🔧 People will see AI and robots as more than tools, argues Tony Prescott. We will see treat them “as if they have goals and intentions… people may see robots as having psychological properties such as the ability to experience suffering… this path might lead us both to machines that are more like us, and to seeing ourselves as more like machines.”
🚓 Can we ever prove self-driving cars will be safe? “If you look inside the model to see what it does, all you get are statistical numbers. It’s a black box. You don’t know exactly what it’s learning.”
Elsewhere, “employment in occupations requiring more education and training is on the rise, and many workers are realizing that retraining and upgrading their skills needs to be a lifetime commitment.” Pew on the future American workforce.
Dept of animals
The New York Times looks at industrial farming, a subject we’ve touched on this more extensively in EV#39. If you are interested in understanding the investor risks of big food, take a look at that previous issue.
The NYT photo essay is stunning & instructive. It is hard to for journalists to get into these large-scale factories that have come to dominate so much of our food supply chain, impressive the NYT managed to.
For good reason, their newspeak name, CAFO (“concentrated animal feeding operation”), belies an industrial nastiness. Look out for the heifer hutches and Turkey farm. This unauthorised drone footage over a massive pig farm/cesspool/cafo is eye-watering. 🐽
The NYT has an accompanying essay by Michael Pollan on big ag. This shows that farming isn’t cutesy anymore. It’s big-business-cum-special-interest, replete with externalities, local costs & regulatory capture. If you haven’t given this subject much thought, trust me, you’ll want to.
Science continues to tell us more about animals and, in general, puncture the myth of human exceptionalism.
- More evidence that chimps have a theory of mind.
- 🐒 Japanese monkeys are photographed washing potatoes and riding deer like horses.
- Cod may have regional accents.
- See also EV#24 for stuff on dolphin syntax and corvid tool use
Short morsels to appear smart at dinner parties
🎓 Stanford isn’t a university. It’s an incubator. There are 145 entrepreneurship courses taught there.
🔥 September will likely be another record-breaking scorcher. The Arctic is struggling to cool down.
Anticipatory intelligence: how the CIA can identify social unrest several days in advance
The code for a destructive botnet is released. Cybersecurity and geopolitics are increasingly overlapping.
Just how good is the iPhone 7 camera?
💊 The contraceptive pill is associated with higher rates of depression in women.
What comes after Trump. (It’s worse.)
Car manufacturers are touting their electrics at the Paris Motorshow.
☠️ Who ruined Burning Man?
🤖 Beautiful map of punk music and its descendants.
What you are up to
👍🏽 EV reader Shehnaz Suterwalla is cohosting the Invisible Data Performance, part of the Royal College of Arts’ Being Human festival. Free tickets available here. I’ll be there!
EV subscriber Damien Tanner just released his first electric motorcycle. 🏍
We might hold an exclusive EV meetup in London during November. I’d love to hear your suggestions of who from the fields of AI, technology, culture, design or innovation you’d like as the keynote guests.
The format will be two guests and me in a fireside chat (in depth discussion) followed by an open forum.
Send suggestions to me via Twitter or email. Please explain why!