December 2019 (Links)

https://thegradient.pub/an-epidemic-of-ai-misinformation/

Title: An Epidemic of AI Misinformation

A good critique of too much hype in the AI community and general public. We are still not too far along creating ‘smart’ AI and what it can do at this moment is still very limited.

Title: Carbon capture just got cheaper and more efficient

“The device, reported in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, works a lot like a battery. It absorbs carbon dioxide from air passing over its electrodes. It could be made as small and large as needed, making it easy to use at different carbon dioxide emission sources.”

I wonder if there is a Moore’s Law for the cost of carbon capture over time. It seems like it’s improving quite rapidly now.

“The system uses about one gigajoule of energy per ton of carbon dioxide captured.”

https://stratechery.com/2019/portability-and-interoperability/

Title: Portability and Interoperability

“This is about as concise a distillation of the “commoditize your complements” approach as you will see, at least as far as data is concerned: if you make Facebook better, you can have it all; if you don’t, or are remotely competitive, you are cut off.”

Or in other words, Facebook (and others) act like they give access/interoperability but only do this for non-essential parts.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2019/12/04/why-climate-alarmism-hurts-us-all/

Title: Why Climate Alarmism Hurts Us All

It’s real, it’s happening, but 4 billion people will not die by 2035. Quite a good read on the scientific consensus and the pain that exaggeration of this can do (e.g. kids being ‘eco-depressed’).

Title: The Science of the Butterfly Effect

Very good (and so beautifully video) about chaos (from small differences in beginning conditions).

https://80000hours.org/podcast/episodes/peter-singer-advocacy-and-the-life-you-can-save/

Title: Peter Singer on being provocative, EA, how his moral views have changed, & rescuing children drowning in ponds

The controversy around Peter Singer’s abortion standpoints helped spark new sales of his ethics book (which also talks about global poverty, animal suffering, and Effective Altruism).

“I think that EA has the potential to really transform philanthropy generally, and although there are certainly some high net worth individuals who give disproportionally a large amount of course, but still, when you look at philanthropy, say here in the United States or other countries too, the bulk of it is not just the huge donors.”

https://stratechery.com/2019/a-framework-for-regulating-competition-on-the-internet/

Title: A Framework for Regulating Competition on the Internet

“From a practical standpoint, this means that platforms should have significant latitude in mergers and acquisitions, but significant scrutiny in terms of vertical foreclosure, rent-seeking, bundling, and self-dealing.”

A more high-level analysis of regulations for both platforms and aggregators.

Title: Small rockets are the next space revolution | Peter Beck

Great intro of what Rocket Labs does and why it matters (democratization of access to space).

https://futurecrun.ch/99-good-news-2019

Title: 99 Good News Stories You Probably Didn’t Hear About in 2019

1. New surveys revealed that the population of humpback whales in the South Atlantic region now number 24,900 — almost 93% of their population size before they were hunted to the brink of extinction.

There are 98 more stats just like this waiting for you. There is still some good news out there. And we should be motivated to take action, because we can achieve good things if we do.

Title: Tradeoffs – The Currency of Decision Making

We can’t do everything perfectly, so we should focus on what we value. But we rarely do, we treat time like it’s infinite. There is always a tradeoff, know that it’s there.

https://80000hours.org/podcast/episodes/david-chalmers-nature-ethics-consciousness/

Title: David Chalmers on the nature and ethics of consciousness

These are the notes of the related podcast (80000 hours). The podcast is with David Chalmers and is about consciousness. Even some talk about eating meat (and of course that philosophers don’t always practice what they preach).

Title: Aubrey de Grey | Reaching Escape Velocity in Longevity for Most Alive Today | VISION WEEKEND 2019

Optimistic talk about how we can reach escape velocity, i.e. live forever.

https://aeon.co/ideas/richard-feynman-was-wrong-about-beauty-and-truth-in-science

Title: Richard Feynman was wrong about beauty and truth in science

“You can recognise truth by its beauty and simplicity.” is the statement of Feynman the author is going against. Ockham’s razor can be true (when two theories are comparable, the simpler might be better/true-er).

The attack on beauty focusses on the fact that beauty is something we humans say. Here I think there is a misunderstanding of the term. I think that beauty could be used as an analogy to ‘hard to vary’ or a good explanation according to Popper.