Waze, AI & the public commons; the internet of things will create a super-sized robot; augmented reality is going to be really big; how Silicon Valley stole cyberspace; looking at the hard problem of consciousness; a Turing test for art; the F35 and a case study in complexity.
Dept of the near future
🌏 The Internet of things will be a super-sized robot, the World-Size Web (GRAND IDEA)
🌆 John Battelle on how Waze changes the public commons: “we’re slowly replacing our public commons with corporate, for-profit solutions ” (THOUGHT PROVOKING)
😠 Why people become terrorists: the view from complexity science. (EXCELLENT)
😂 Robert Scoble returns emotional & breathless after a demo Magic Leaps’ augmented reality product: “This is the biggest thing since the Apple II”. (Video) WORTH WATCHING
🔮 Danah Boyd on how 20-years after John Perry Barlow’s declaration of independence, cyberspace has died. “Those of us who wanted cyberspace to be universal couldn’t imagine a world in which our dreams got devoured by Silicon Valley.” (MUST READ)
👍🏽A brief history of the corporation: have we reached peak corporation? LONG READ from Ribbon Farm (h/t @marvinlao)
🌟 Google’s Inbox is a trojan horse for developing smart AI. (INSIGHTFUL)
Dept of consciousness
Twenty years ago David Chalmers laid out the two problems of consciousness. The easy problem, which wasn’t easy at all: how do brain functions construct experiences (like taste or smell). And the hard problem: why does that subjective experience arise at all.
Progress on the easy problem has been solid as we map the neural correlates of consciousness.
Two contenders for tackling the hard problem are Michael Graziano’s attention schema theory and Tononi & Koch’s Integrated Information Theory. (See EV#28 on IIT).
Graziano explains his attention schema by way of phantom limbs in the Atlantic this week: “Consciousness is phantom attention … [w]ithout resorting to magic, mysticism, hard problems, or spooky soul energy.”
On the side of spooky soul energy, we have Tononi & Koch’s Integrated Information Theory, a sort of pan-psychism which argues consciousness is a physical property, like a state of matter. This overview of a recent Max Tegmark’s recent paper on this is accessible. GOOD READ
(The paper itself is probably accessible to those with exceptional tensor factorization skills and a post-graduate understanding of quantum physics. Not me!)
Elsewhere, several interesting articles on perception, representation and awareness:
💂 Scientists decode brain signals to recreate images in near real-time. Mind-reading one step closer.
👶🏼What babies can see that you no longer can: as we tune our faculties to make sense of the world, we lose access to a portion of reality.
🐼 Tackling Nagel (weakly): to a lion, zebras are mostly gray.
🐦 Tackling theory of mind & human exceptionalism: Ravens may actually have a theory of mind.
Robots which adapt to the personality of the human they are working with are more effective.
Exponential Dinner #4: AI Redux
Our fourth exponential dinner is just around the corner.
Our interlocutor is EV reader Tom Standage, deputy editor of The Economist, and author of a number of best-selling history books. Tom is going to kick-off a discussion on artificial intelligence, or as we’re describing it: “What Elon told me and other AI intrigues.”
Exponential Dinners are small affairs (typically 18 people) and are highly interactive. They tend to oversubscribe quickly. Dinner runs to £65.
This dinner is on February 22nd at 630pm in London, UK. If you are interested in attending please fill out this form.
Dept of renewables and climate change
Ramez Naam on how far renewables can go. Without any changes to storage infrastructure, a study in Nature reckons that they could supply 60% of US electrical needs. Ramez outlines three changes (improving storage, the capacity factors for renewables and scaling the electrical grid to continent size) which could take the grid to 90% of US electrical output.
Vox follows up (quoting Ramez extensively, I should add): “Solar+storage is going to be cheaper than utility power for millions of customers within a decade or two”. Reasons to be cheerful.
The first Tesla PowerWall in the UK is in Wales.
Short morsels for dinner parties
🎨 Is this image painted by a human or a computer? A Turing test: humans vs deepart.ai h/t @samim (I got 7/10)
Dystopia 1: The diet of LA’s top juice bar owner
Dystopia 2: Rich kids stay rich, poor kids stay poor.
👼Why we need to teach kids philosophy. (Takes the view from civics. My view is that it’s crucial as we design systems with explicit and recurring trolley problems, product managers need to have frameworks for philosophical thinking and ethical analysis.)
One to watch: the Amazon Echo is a sleeper hit.
A nuclear bomb shot a manhole cover into space several years before Sputnik.
A mobile genomics lab is helping in the fight against ebola and zika
Innovation from Nairobi: solving the problem of how to use your mobile phone while having your hair cut.
Why Twitter can’t re-order its timeline by my friend Nick Halstead, probably the Twitter outsider with the deepest knowledge of Twitter.
What you are up to
Spotted EV subscribers, Roy Bahat and Shivon Zillis, second in the list as most active early-stage AI investors according to CB Insights. (AI investment continues to boom; also happy birthday, Shivon!)
HELP: I only know a handful of people in the augmented reality space right now. I’d love to connect with some, even just over twitter. If you can help, please do.
Super busy this week at work. If you know really great Android or iOS developers in either London or Barcelona, let me know. We are hiring - and the project is awesome. Email me. (No agencies!)