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👻 Attention capital & ethics; self-learning cars; blockchain & distributed trust; storage futures; measuring consciousness++ #33

Azeem Azhar
Azeem Azhar
Understanding our attention capital and solving the distraction problem. Unclogging Silicon Valley. Blockchain and networked trust in a smart world. Energy storage solutions. Consciousness and pan-psychism. Deep learning. Bacon & algae.
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Dept of the near future (attention special)
⌚️ Time capital is our most scarce commodity: time to accept it and adapt; argues EV reader, Albert Wenger.  EXCELLENT
😃 Why is is okay to block ads to protect our attention. And why it might lead to better ads. By James Williams, an ethicist at Oxford University.
💥 Our constant tech-driven distraction is a design problem - and can be solved by designers: the brilliant Tristan Harris.  See also (needed: digital philosophers.)
💡 Why can’t we solve the biggest problems? Since the moon landings, our ambitions seem smaller, much smaller. GREAT historical context by my friend Jason Pontin.
🚀 Why Silicon Valley needs a laxative if its innovation-money cycle is to continue to turn. EXPERT view from an investor in VC funds.
🚓 The Tesla S Autopilot is already improving itself through learning (as discussed by me here). Watch a Tesla S under autopilot control prevent a head-on smash. YAY
Dept of batteries and storage
Batteries may sound unsexy but… they are utterly essential if we are to continue to power portable devices in larger numbers and smaller scale. And, of course, essential if we want to move to zero-carbon energy production. I’ve been thinking about batteries & storage for the past couple of weeks. 
🔋John Goodenough invented the Lithium-ion battery, which pretty much powers every portable, smart device on the planet. At 93, he is still working. Excellent profile.
🌟 Breakthrough Lithium-Air batteries have 20 times the energy density of Lithium-ion batteries.
Accessible introduction to different types of storage systems. (Good for a novice.)
🗼 Storing vast amounts of solar electricity overnight in a pillar of molten salt. (Las Vegas, natch).
Dept of blockchain, insurance & distributed trust
We’ve known for a long time that bitcoin was really about blockchain and distributed trust. (See EV 16 on blockchain as the future of the internet.)Blockchain fundamentally addresses the issue of how to establish trusted systems without the need for a single governing trust authority. In many ways, this is the one of the most pressing questions of many political systems and institutions: how to deal with questions of ownership and disputes thereof. In this sense, it is anti-establishment (not relying on centralised institutions) and  capitalist (enabling contract enforcement).
✅ Mark Pesce, who I first encountered 20-years ago as he invented VRML, poses a scenario of the importance of distributed trust systems in a world of intelligent cars, networked devices and cyber-threat. It’s a quirky scenario with an unexpected twist, and I recommend you read all three parts. (Each is a quick read.)
The Economist beautifully lays out the case for blockchain and the potential benefits for distributed trust. GOOD INTRO
The key point of blockchain is that the trust systems are distributed which gives rise to huge opportunities for innovation argues Erik Voorhees.
EV Dinner #3: Mars
Join me and Oliver Morton, world-acclaimed science writer and author of the recently published The Planet Remade. (Almost certainly this book should be on your must buy list.)
Dinner is the usual detail: 23rd November, Second Home, London. 
It is filling up fast, so please register your interest here
Short morsels
Great profile of Christof Koch and the emerging pan-psychic models of consciousness. (Decent five year old introduction to  φ & Tononi’s measurable consciousness. Tononi and Koch are pursuing similar approaches that consciousness is a measurable, ubiquitous physical quantity.)
How deep neural networks read your mind: Connecting deep neural networks with image processing and current thinking of how visual processing occurs. Relatively simple explanation.
🐖 Researchers identify a protein-rich seaweed that tastes like bacon
🙏🏼 Meditation leads to better sex. Here is why
📈 36 years ago this week: the first Arpanet computer-to-computer link. (Today: c. 5bn connected devices or 82% CAGR for 36 years; or a doubling every 60 weeks.)
☀ What goes around comes around. Constant deadly temperatures predicted in the Gulf within 90 years, caused by climate change.
How Apple’s culture of secrecy may prevent it accessing the best artificial intelligence talent. (Aside: Siri is obviously a massive success despite this.)
Facebook sees 1.5bn searches per day (compared to Google’s 3.5bn). 
Dept of research needed
❓EV reader, Rodolfo Rosini, tweeted out this picture of Exponential Growth Magazine. It looks like part 1 of a Marshall Cavendish part-work, and judging by the price it would have been published no later that the early 1980s. I’d like to find out more about this - so a request to the historians reading this…. find out more.
End notes
I am in rural Dorset this weekend for a family event. Broadband has vastly improved with the arrival of high-bandwidth microwave links. And allowing me to dash this off. Ciao for now!
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Azeem Azhar
Azeem Azhar @exponentialview

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