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🔮 Saving the Web; Apple beats Hollywood; common sense computing; emotional design & tripping for free++ #24

Azeem Azhar
Azeem Azhar
Saving the Web; Apple o'erleaps Hollywood; common-sense computing; Uber’s end-game; emotional design and common sense reasoning. So much stuff going on, this is an ultra long read. The result: the novel on the side of my bed is gathering dust. Enjoy!
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Dept of the near future
🎯 The Web we have to save. Hossein Derakshan spent six years in an Iranian jail for blogging. On his release he discovered the decentralised, critical web has been replaced by algorithmically-mediated streams dominated by a thimbleful of firms. Here is his plea. Long, powerful
🎓 Introducing agnotology, or the study of ignorance. Emphasising the unknowns is essential to strategy and creativity. And in avoiding hubris.
🚘👯 The secret history of jay-walking and why humans can reclaim city streets. Illustrates the danger of regulatory capture. Take heed: all the tech majors have powerful lobbyists. Recommended
🌀 Emotional intelligence in design. Designers and engineers now control our world. Facebook’s Beth Dean on how to bring more empathy into the equation.
😳 The Ashey Madison dystopia becomes even more techno-bizarre. Virtually all of the 5m female accounts were inactive and potentially fake, according to Annalee Newitz. Was it all just a fantasy?
👹 Common-sense reasoning has recently taken a back seat to sexy statistical approaches (like machine learning) but it could be important for many emerging AI-mediated tasks. I’ve been lucky to get to know two companies in this broad domain, Powerset (Microsoft) and Evi (Amazon.) Long, detailed overview from the CACM. (See also these paper on using deep nets for neural reasoning.)
Dept of pay it forward
Wouldn’t it be amazing if ProductHunt featured Exponential View? Can anyone help?
And a request to more recent subscribers, please do recommend this to three friends who you think would enjoy it. (E-mail recommendations work best but Twitter and Facebook also nice.)
Dept of the Web's future
The Web is having an early mid-life crisis. Read Hossein’s essay on the past and future of the Web above, and you’ll identify the crisis. The political imperative of a decentralised Web doesn’t go away even as we realise it’s technological & efficiency promise. Yes, we can happily point to a dispersion of education, at a time when more than half of students are studying for jobs that will be obsolete. Examples include: Julius Yego, who won gold in the World Championships, yet taught himself to throw javelin from Youtube videos. Robots learn to make pancakes by watching wikihow videos.
But equally, there is more evidence to support the early hypotheses that the internet is turning us into shallower thinkers who lack depth and criticality.
The Atlantic explores whether Twitter’s goal of being a public town hall is attainable now. Excellent data on Twitter’s growth and usage, if that stuff floats your boat.
Dept of climate change & clean energy
🌞 The hottest July on record together with the prospect of the hottest August on record has brought climate change into sharp relief. Global sea levels have risen 8cm since 1992 with the prospect of an inevitable 3-ft rise. Climate change worsened California’s current drought by 20%.
It may be too late for the 3-ft see rise, but solar is developing fast as one alternative to hydrocarbon addiction. Large scale US solar production has grown 31-fold in ten years. (Nice graph). Globally, solar capacity has grown 53x in 9 years. (I recommend this article for solar neophytes who are getting to grips with the opportunity.)
⌁ BMW has said all its cars will be electric vehicles by 2025. Cars have an 8 year replacement cycle in the UK, 11 years in the US. The Tesla Model X looks pretty nice. Although the Tesla S P85D+ just scored the highest score in history for any car, ever, according to ConsumerReports. The X has a tough act to follow.
Short morsels for dinner parties
👶 Based on the traversed edges per second benchmark, the fastest super computer is only 30 times slower than current estimates of the human brain. Suggests we’ll get to human-brain calculation performance at $100 per hour within 15 years. NB doesn’t mean consciousness
🚴 A cyclist on a fixie confused the hell of the a Google self-driving car. Also hints at how future civic disobedience against large-scale AI systems might emerge.
😠 Separately scientists are confident future AIs will be lenient slave masters report the Onion.
😱 Altered state of consciousness without drugs? Stare into someone’s eyes for a few minutes. Try it, and feedback on Twitter.
A mathematician, a statistician and a machine learner walk into a bar. Clear exposition of the differences in their domains ensues.
🐒 Very, very gentle introduction to machine learning from MonkeyAnalytics (One of the gentlest yet, like cuddling a capuchin.)
⛪️ Technology alone doesn’t drive social change. Political institutions matter, a study looking at change during the Reformation.
Neuroplasticity is awesome, transhumanists rejoice. Non-visual processing in the visual cortex.. Random thought: could this mean we be able to train our brains to process entirely new classes of sensory information generated by implants?
Modifiable risk factors for Alzheimers include upping your intake of Vitamins C & E, aspirin & coffee.
Is holocaust trauma really epigenetically transmitted? Critical discussion of those recent findings which you probably saw in the Graun.
▮ Researchers showed that an inanimate bar of iron was capable of making decisions. “These results imply that various physical systems in which some conservation law holds can be used to implement an efficient ‘decision-making object’”. There seems to be an emerging wave of science around panpsychism. E.g. Tononi’s Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness, see AEV issue 11.
💋 The unemotional mathematics of dating culture. Contrary view to the Tinder-pocalypse. Recommended
✋ More than 90% of consumers would not care if brands disappeared. Where do you stand?
Brain researchers are overwhelmed with data. Now they need hackers to help.
🐓 Super-fun video of an Oculus Rift flight simulator that lets you fly like a bird.
🌴 The Reddit AMA with IBM developers is hilarious. (If you like jokes about enterprise collaboration suites.)
Orobouros link of the week: When did we all become curators?
What you wrote
Tom Standage of The Economist on how virtual reality has yet to have its iPhone moment. (Unbylined.)
Albert Wenger of USV on our post-privacy future: “data will come out… we need to work towards a society and individual behaviors that acknowledge this fact.”
Matt Clifford of EntrepreneurFirst on Yuval Hariri’s thought provoking book, Sapiens. Hariri is highly recommended for readers of AEV. Genuinely thought-provoking book. Yuval’s excellent Ted Talk is here.
(If you are a subscriber and have written a post, received a gong, want an award, have been paroled, please ping me and I’ll see if I can include it in the next Exponential View.)
End notes
Hope you enjoyed this. I realise it is super-long. There was just a lot queued up from summer. Unless I hear differently (email me; hit reply), I’m going to shorten this back by about 30% from next week.
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Azeem Azhar
Azeem Azhar @exponentialview

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