🔮 Brain special: Neuralink, psychedelics, consciousness; digital monopolies; peak car, negative mass, healthy Italians++ #110

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What are brain-computer interfaces? When will we get them? How should we deal with monopolies like Fa
 
April 23 - Issue #110
The Exponential View

What are brain-computer interfaces? When will we get them? How should we deal with monopolies like Facebook and Amazon? How does machine learning change our relationship with knowledge? Higher states of consciousness, negative mass and breakthroughs with coal. 
Hope this inspires some great conversation.
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Dept of the near future
🔮 On Elon Musk’s Neuralink, brain-computer interfaces and the future of humanity. THOUGHT-PROVOKING long read at 38k words. (Neuralink isn’t the only firm doing this. Take Facebook & Kernel, for example. See also this good introductory survey of brain-computer interface  (BCI) technologies. For a sober,  contrary view on timelines of BCIs read Antonio Regalado.)
☣️ Monopolies like Amazon and Facebook need to be reined in. “Ultimately, the super-platforms–in harming both the content providers upstream and consumers downstream–can undermine our economic well-being and democracy. Competition law has at its origins the protection of society from the misuse of economic and political power. Thus, our competition authorities must step up.” EXCELLENT
🌏 The pendulum swings between globalisation and nation state, argues HSBC economist, Stephen King.
👾 Alien knowledge. AI and machine learning are changing our relationship with knowledge as justified true beliefs. Does that matter if this alien insight works?  STUNNING essay by Dave Weinberger.
🤔 Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu: A person is a person through other persons, argues Abeba Birhane. GREAT READ
Dept of artificial intelligence & automation
VC Scott Hartley: In an age of artificial intelligence, at “the moment of technological inflection, we need to double down on the liberal arts
Erik Brynjolfsson: The world we face today is of rapidly changing work, not a “world without work.”
Gary Marcus is an AI contrarian warning of the limits of our current statistical (“deep learning”) approaches. RECOMMENDED.
New AI system predicts heart attacks as well or better than a doctor. Exciting.
Dept of social networks
Facebook had its annual developer conference where Mark Zuckerberg emphasised the importance of the camera and augmented reality for the future of the business. Facebook brazenly copied and then surpassed every feature of its soon-to-be even more distant competitor, Snapchat.
A monopoly, though, doesn’t need that drive to innovate — or, more accurately, doesn’t need to derive a profit from innovation, which leads to lazy spending and prioritizing tech demos over shipping products. After all, the monopoly can simply take others’ innovation and earn even more profit than they would otherwise.
😱 EV reader, Hung Lee, reckons Facebook’s thrust into augmented reality even challenges the basis of our epistemology. This means, Hung argues, “we have to become better story tellers.”
Elsewhere:
Small morsels to appear smart at dinner parties
🍭 EV reader, Anil Seth, has demonstrated that use of psychedelics does induce a ‘heightened state of consciousness’. Academic paper here.
🥇 The most beautiful maths equation.
Every flat in this London development sold to foreign investors.
🐦 Homing pigeons have a capacity for intergenerational culture. 
U.S. auto market has peaked. Industry sales driven by “recession-era level of incentives”.
World’s first nanocar race. 🏎️
🤐 Human-caused climate change has rerouted a whole river; the first time on record.
🇮🇹 Despite a struggling economy, Italian’s are the world’s healthiest people
For the first time since Industrial Revolution, Britain goes full day without burning coal. 🙌 (40% of our electricity generation was coal powered in 2012.)
Events
  • 🔥 We’re hosting an Exponential View salon on Hacking Democracy with Professor Luciano Floridi, journalist Carole Cadwalladr, cultural commenter and novelist Hari Kunzru, and civic tech pioneer,  Tom Loosemore in London of May 24th. Sign-up to attend here. 
  • EV reader, Evan Nisselson, is hosting his annual Machine Vision summit in New York on May 24 & 25. Use code ExponentialView for an 87% discount on tickets.
End note
We just exceeded 16,000 subscribers for Exponential View. It would be awesome to get to 20k soon. Please do share this with friends Simply forward this mail on and recommend they sign up.
cheerio!
Azeem

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