Newsletter No.17 — Dec 23, 2017

Sentiers No.17

Heads up: For a couple of reasons related to early writing methods, the first forty-five issues archived here are “pre last review” and haven’t been fully re-reviewed yet. Please forgive typos and miscellaneous mistakes if you see them! They are also less structured than more recent issues and thus haven’t been split into multiple notes. (Yet?)

A day early for this last Sentiers of 2017, in the end I decided to write a normal one and skip next week, and possibly the one after. I’ll ‘see’ you on the 7th or 14th. Happy Holidays!

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Magic Leap
It really was starting to smell of vapourware but Magic Leap have finally announced something and some people have actually tried the damned things. (I think they look kind of cool.)
I’ve only breezed through these but because of the coming break, I figured I’d include the articles now anyway.

Montreal seeks to be world leader in responsible artificial intelligence research
I’ve linked to other articles before, I like what I’m hearing from AI people in Montréal when talking about ethics, bias and responsibility.

“Montreal is a little ahead because we are in Canada,” Precup said. “Canada, compared to other parts of the world, has a different set of values that are more oriented towards ensuring everybody’s wellness. The background and culture of the country and the city matter a lot.”
Haven’t read this yet but it’s supposed to be good: The State of AI in Montreal - Startups, Investment, and What it Means for the City.

The (warranted) backlash against big tech. Silicon Valley Techies Still Think They’re the Good Guys. They’re Not. Monteiro on Twitter Merry Last Christmas, Jack Dorsey.

🔥 Silicon Valley Is Turning Into Its Own Worst Fear
By Ted Chiang—who wrote the novel Arrival was based on—on how Musk and Valley luminaries are afraid of runaway AIs because they can only imagine them as the runaway capitalists they are themselves.

Who pursues their goals with monomaniacal focus, oblivious to the possibility of negative consequences? Who adopts a scorched-earth approach to increasing market share?…
What’s unexpected is that the way they envision the world ending is through a form of unchecked capitalism, disguised as a superintelligent AI. They have unconsciously created a devil in their own image, a boogeyman whose excesses are precisely their own.

Future of Work
What Will Work Look Like in 2030?
Four alternative future worlds of work by PwC represented by four colours. My preference is for green or yellow but I’m afraid we’re heading for blue.

The Green World — collective and integrated — is driven by the need for a powerful social conscience. Reacting to public opinion, increasingly scarce natural resources, and stringent international regulations, companies push a strong ethical and ecological agenda. Social conscience, environmental responsibility, diversity, human rights and fairness are corporate imperatives.

Let’s bury the hustle

Say no to more dumb shit. Engage with fewer things but at a higher intensity. Stick with it. Stop chasing so much.

The presence prison

If you’re constantly pulling people into things, then yeah, where they are right now matters. But if you prefer to let people consider something fully, and get back to you when when they’re ready, then it doesn’t matter where they are right now. We choose the latter.

The Churn
Artificial Intelligence Is Killing the Uncanny Valley and Our Grasp on Reality
“It’s messy, it’s beautiful, and it’s already here.” Be sure to watch the embedded video about Project Puppetron.

These projects are wildly different in origin and intent, yet they have one thing in common: They are producing artificial scenes and sounds that look stunningly close to actual footage of the physical world. Unlike earlier experiments with AI-generated media, these look and sound real.

++ An interesting little tech insight amidst the genocidal human crisis; Fleeing Rohingya carry one key asset: solar panels.

++ I’m surprised I discovered this randomly when looking at the cute komorebi project and not through a bunch of people linking to it. Creative Applications are running code Mining for XMR instead of running ads, using local processing while you are browsing the site to mine a cryptocurrency. My original thought was that it’s a nice idea but then I also remembered that the main reason I run an ad blocker is because the ads on some sites were slowing down my (then) old computer so this is better in some ways but as bad or worse in others. I’ll keep an eye on it.

A Very Old Man for a Wolf
Love this kind of thing and I’m not following enough people to bring that to my attention. Will need to correct. Hat tip to Marguerite Joly for this one about the trials and tribulations of a black wolf and his descendants.

Morgan and a friend hiked down to the creek and saw what Morgan describes as “a whole wad of wolves blowing out.” The female and the pups fled, but the big male stopped 30 yards away from the carcass and turned to face them, howling, barking, and growling. He was black as a starless night and in the prime of his youth.
“He just lit up,” Morgan recalls. “He was so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think.”

Small surge of viral(ish) short stories these past couple of weeks. Three I’ve got lined up in my Kindle for the holidays.

The Mystery of The Sexy Icelandic Cousin To Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’

For 86 years, any Icelandic readers of Dracula were unknowingly reading a different book than everyone else in the world.

Neuroscience Has a Lot To Learn from Buddhism
Matthieu Ricard and Wolf Singer compare notes on meditation, therapy, and their effects on the brain.