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🔥Industry collapse, the beauty of code, IQ-beating AI, solar++ issue #13

Azeem Azhar
Azeem Azhar
Channel 4 starts a new drama series of what happens when we introduce lifelike robots into our homes. A clear sign that these issues about our relationship with AI is now front of mind.
The deep learning Cambrian explosion continues - new algorithms that detect beautiful art and beat humans at IQ tests are reported.
More news from solar as it passed 1% of all electricity generated. If you ever want to chat, just hit reply and start the conversation.
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Dept of the near future
😬 John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, reckons 40% of all companies will be dead in 10 years due to digital disruption. Quick read
 Apple tries to integrate AI design into its platforms, argues FastCo Design. Industrial design is not enough, and Apple is behind Google on AI interfaces.
😇 Ray Kurzweil argues we have a moral imperative to develop AI and that the best way to ensure it is safe is to distribute it widely.
👊 Even Richemont fears for the coming inequality of the AI age. Comedy link of the week as a billionaire worries about the working classes rising in the upcoming age of extremes.
👉 Repost from last week This link was malformed last week. Algorithms of the mind. What machine learning teaches about ourselves. (highly, highly, recommended).
📼 A new TV drama called Humans, exploring our relationship with smart AI robots, starts on Channel 4 tonight at 9pm. Discussion here. (For younger readers, TV was a confused combination of media creation and distribution, in the form of an industrial organisation involving a semi-integrated value chain and pseudo-monopoly access to now abundant RF spectrum.)
💱 Crowdfunding, yet another distributed peer-to-peer business, looks to exceed VC funding by 2016.
Dept of clean energy ☀️
Solar passed 1% of all power generated. The growth in 2014 represents a 30% growth on total available capacity in 2013; and a gentle absolute increase on the previous year. However, dirty coal still represents the bulk of new added capacity.
Tesla’s Powerwall shows that cost-declines in LiIon batteries are racing ahead of forecast.. Other players in the market are responding to the lower prices.
Coal extractors are having a tough time on the market. Has it realised that their franchise is finally up?
Check this classic on how little of the planet’s surface we would need to cover in solar cells to meet global energy demand.
Dept of deep learning
One of the most accessible introductions to Machine Learning I have read. Worth having a read if you are outside the domain.
A neural network does a great job in predicting what makes for beautiful art. Full academic paper here.
Using Minecraft to train robots: the virtual world could provide almost-infinite training scenarios for artificial minds. Clever idea.
The Deepmind paper on training an arbitrary AI to win at video games is available at Nature. Only the abstract is available, but take a look. This will become one of the most cited papers in history.
An interview with Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of Deep Mind, describes the impact of their artificial general intelligence (AGI) within Google; and how it might solve financial crises, clean water and poverty.
A deep-learning system has started to outperform humans on IQ tests (well, at least the ‘verbal reasoning’ part of the test battery.) Academic paper.
Dept of future work
AI will increase the number of jobs, as it frees existing workers up to higher value tasks, creating value and more jobs suggests a survey of AI professionals.
Human work in the new machine age, a lovely essay by Esko Kilpi on the types of work that may flourish in future. (It ain’t truck driving.)
Suncor Energy, a major Canadian firm, has placed a huge order for autonomous-ready trucks. The firm employees more than 1,000 drivers.
Dept of code
As most things become software problems, code’s relative importance in society importance. Programme or be programmed. So what is code?
The stunning must read article explaining what Code is. This is a beautifully written, well-assembled piece published by Bloomberg. It is 38,000 words so it takes time. But I do recommend setting the time aside and doing it justice.
Beautiful history of code’s role in the world by the BBC. Shorter with more historical perspective than the Bloomberg piece above.
Processing is the coding toolkit for the creative mind. Generative art, and more.
Short morsels for dinner parties
New treatment for Alzheimer’s fully restores memory function: Ultrasound on the brain(s of mice) clears out neurotoxic protein plaques associated with Alzheimer’s symptoms. Exciting for any of us who are aging.
The original exponential business. Only 1-in-8 VCs can be successful.
The new throwaway society. The average smartphone app is discarded after only one use.
How can regulators operate in a world of exponential change? Surprisingly interesting research by Deloitte - stick to the summary at the top unless you are one of my regulatory readers.
Would you let a robot teach you sex?
Why does human IQ keep rising? Review of a recent paper exploring the fascinating Flynn effect.
After using recurrent neural networks to generate Obama speeches. Samim is back - this time auto-generating TED talks using an RNN. Feel the enthusiasm and earth-shattering revelations.
California’s drone industry is taking off. Profile of my friend, Chris Anderson, CEO of 3d Robotics.
Lighting has been a great enabler. Increasing the length of productive time a human has in a day, eliminating accidents, enabling trade, socialisation and more. The cost keeps on falling.
End notes
June 16th: Talking at the Europas in London on AI. Hit me up. June 17-July 15th: Brandwatch London. If you are building an AI startup or know of one, particularly in the content or trend prediction arenas, I’d like to meet you.
And anything more, please drop me a mail on
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Azeem Azhar
Azeem Azhar @exponentialview

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