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Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 11

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2017-02-11 15:24:55 (11 comments; 1 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

> The Sims 1 released in the year 2000. [...] two males or two females could not get married. They could kiss, they could slow dance, they could date, they could have sex [...], but they could not get married. 

> The Sims 2 released in the year 2004. [...] Gay Sims were finally allowed to get married [...] they didn't actually call it marriage. Instead, when two males or two females chose to get married, they had a "Joined Union". The amount of points given to the sim for having a joined union was less than that for sims having a marriage. [...] 

> The Sims 3 released in the year 2009. [...] gay sims can finally get married. There is no more to the system to mention- they can get married, the point values are the same, there's nothing more complicated about it. It's just finally aligned completely with heterosexula sims getting married.[...] 
more »

Most reshares: 6

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2017-02-14 16:38:52 (0 comments; 6 reshares; 7 +1s; )Open 

> “They [the Trump campaign] were using 40-50,000 different variants of ad every day that were continuously measuring responses and then adapting and evolving based on that response,” Martin Moore, director of Kings College’s Centre for the Study of Media, Communication and Power, told The Guardian in early December. “It’s all done completely opaquely and they can spend as much money as they like on particular locations because you can focus on a five-mile radius.”

> Where traditional pollsters might ask a person outright how they plan to vote, Analytica relies not on what they say but what they do, tracking their online movements and interests and serving up multivariate ads designed to change a person’s behavior by preying on individual personality traits.

> “For example,” Nix wrote in an op-ed last year about Analytica’s work on the Cruzcampaign, ”our issues mod... more »

Most plusones: 9

2017-02-19 11:29:17 (0 comments; 2 reshares; 9 +1s; )Open 

> Spiritual awakening is frequently described as a journey to the top of a mountain. We leave our attachments and our worldliness behind and slowly make our way to the top. At the peak we have transcended all pain. The only problem with this metaphor is that we leave all others behind. Their suffering continues, unrelieved by our personal escape.

> On the journey of the warrior-bodhisattva, the path goes down, not up, as if the mountain pointed toward the earth instead of the sky. Instead of transcending the suffering of all creatures, we move toward turbulence and doubt however we can. We explore the reality and unpredictability of insecurity and pain, and we try not to push it away. If it takes years, if it takes lifetimes, we let it be as it is.

> At our own pace, without speed or aggression, we move down and down and down. With us move millions of others, our companions... more »

Latest 50 posts

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2017-02-27 19:09:04 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

> Monday, 13 April 2015 was a typical day in modern British politics. An Oxford University graduate in philosophy, politics and economics (PPE), Ed Miliband, launched the Labour party’s general election manifesto. It was examined by the BBC’s political editor, Oxford PPE graduate Nick Robinson, by the BBC’s economics editor, Oxford PPE graduate Robert Peston, and by the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Oxford PPE graduate Paul Johnson. It was criticised by the prime minister, Oxford PPE graduate David Cameron. It was defended by the Labour shadow chancellor, Oxford PPE graduate Ed Balls.

> Elsewhere in the country, with the election three weeks away, the Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury, Oxford PPE graduate Danny Alexander, was preparing to visit Kingston and Surbiton, a vulnerable London seat held by a fellow Lib Dem minister, Oxford PPE graduate EdDavey... more »

> Monday, 13 April 2015 was a typical day in modern British politics. An Oxford University graduate in philosophy, politics and economics (PPE), Ed Miliband, launched the Labour party’s general election manifesto. It was examined by the BBC’s political editor, Oxford PPE graduate Nick Robinson, by the BBC’s economics editor, Oxford PPE graduate Robert Peston, and by the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Oxford PPE graduate Paul Johnson. It was criticised by the prime minister, Oxford PPE graduate David Cameron. It was defended by the Labour shadow chancellor, Oxford PPE graduate Ed Balls.

> Elsewhere in the country, with the election three weeks away, the Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury, Oxford PPE graduate Danny Alexander, was preparing to visit Kingston and Surbiton, a vulnerable London seat held by a fellow Lib Dem minister, Oxford PPE graduate Ed Davey. In Kent, one of Ukip’s two MPs, Oxford PPE graduate Mark Reckless, was campaigning in his constituency, Rochester and Strood. Comments on the day’s developments were being posted online by Michael Crick, Oxford PPE graduate and political correspondent of Channel 4 News.

> On the BBC Radio 4 website, the Financial Times statistics expert and Oxford PPE graduate Tim Harford presented his first election podcast. On BBC1, Oxford PPE graduate and Newsnight presenter Evan Davies conducted the first of a series of interviews with party leaders. In the print media, there was an election special in the Economist magazine, edited by Oxford PPE graduate Zanny Minton-Beddoes; a clutch of election articles in the political magazine Prospect, edited by Oxford PPE graduate Bronwen Maddox; an election column in the Guardian by Oxford PPE graduate Simon Jenkins; and more election coverage in the Times and the Sun, whose proprietor, Rupert Murdoch, studied PPE at Oxford.

> More than any other course at any other university, more than any revered or resented private school, and in a manner probably unmatched in any other democracy, Oxford PPE pervades British political life. From the right to the left, from the centre ground to the fringes, from analysts to protagonists, consensus-seekers to revolutionary activists, environmentalists to ultra-capitalists, statists to libertarians, elitists to populists, bureaucrats to spin doctors, bullies to charmers, successive networks of PPEists have been at work at all levels of British politics – sometimes prominently, sometimes more quietly – since the degree was established 97 years ago.___

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2017-02-26 21:55:22 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

<3

<3___

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2017-02-25 01:02:54 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 5 +1s; )Open 

> Though in my mid-forties, I’m still in touch with that awkward boy who often felt trapped in the unpredictable currents of teenage experiences. I can’t count the times sex, drugs, and alcohol came rushing into my young world; I wasn’t ready for any of it, but I didn’t know how to escape and, at the same time, not castrate myself socially. I still recall my first time drinking beer at a friend’s house in junior high school—I hated it, but I felt cornered. As an adult, that now seems silly, but it was my reality at the time. “Peer pressure” was a frivolous term for an often silent, but very real thing; and I certainly couldn’t call my parents and ask them to rescue me. I wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place. As a teen, forcing down alcohol seemed a whole lot easier than offering myself up for punishment, endless nagging and interrogation, and the potential end offreedom as I knew i... more »

> Though in my mid-forties, I’m still in touch with that awkward boy who often felt trapped in the unpredictable currents of teenage experiences. I can’t count the times sex, drugs, and alcohol came rushing into my young world; I wasn’t ready for any of it, but I didn’t know how to escape and, at the same time, not castrate myself socially. I still recall my first time drinking beer at a friend’s house in junior high school—I hated it, but I felt cornered. As an adult, that now seems silly, but it was my reality at the time. “Peer pressure” was a frivolous term for an often silent, but very real thing; and I certainly couldn’t call my parents and ask them to rescue me. I wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place. As a teen, forcing down alcohol seemed a whole lot easier than offering myself up for punishment, endless nagging and interrogation, and the potential end of freedom as I knew it. [...]

> we now have something called the “X-plan” in our family. This simple, but powerful tool is a lifeline that our kids are free to use at any time. Here’s how it works:

> Let’s say that my youngest, Danny, gets dropped off at a party. If anything about the situation makes him uncomfortable, all he has to do is text the letter “X” to any of us (his mother, me, his older brother or sister). The one who receives the text has a very basic script to follow. Within a few minutes, they call Danny’s phone. [...] At that point, Danny tells his friends that something’s happened at home, someone is coming to get him, and he has to leave.

> In short, Danny knows he has a way out; at the same time, there’s no pressure on him to open himself to any social ridicule. He has the freedom to protect himself while continuing to grow and learn to navigate his world. [...]

> However, there’s one critical component to the X-plan: Once he’s been extracted from the trenches, Danny knows that he can tell us as much or as little as he wants … but it’s completely up to him. The X-plan comes with the agreement that we will pass no judgments and ask no questions (even if he is 10 miles away from where he’s supposed to be). This can be a hard thing for some parents (admit it, some of us are complete control-freaks); but I promise it might not only save them, but it will go a long way in building trust between you and your kid.___

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2017-02-23 22:35:51 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

> A tax is charged on chocolate-covered biscuits, but not on cakes. The manufacturer [of Jaffa Cakes], McVities, had always categorised them as cakes and to boost their revenue the tax authorities wanted them recategorised as biscuits.

> A legal case was fought in front of a brilliant adjudicator, Mr D C Potter. For McVities, this produced a sweet result. The Jaffa Cake has both cake-like qualities and biscuit-like qualities, but Mr Potter's verdict was that, on balance, a Jaffa Cake is a cake.

> He examined a dozen possible criteria. There was, for example, the name. They are called Jaffa Cakes, not Jaffa Biscuits. This, Mr Potter concluded, was a trifling consideration, though he noted that Jaffa Cakes are more biscuit than cake in several ways. They are packaged like biscuits, and they are marketed like biscuits: they are usually found in the biscuit aisle in shops.... more »

> A tax is charged on chocolate-covered biscuits, but not on cakes. The manufacturer [of Jaffa Cakes], McVities, had always categorised them as cakes and to boost their revenue the tax authorities wanted them recategorised as biscuits.

> A legal case was fought in front of a brilliant adjudicator, Mr D C Potter. For McVities, this produced a sweet result. The Jaffa Cake has both cake-like qualities and biscuit-like qualities, but Mr Potter's verdict was that, on balance, a Jaffa Cake is a cake.

> He examined a dozen possible criteria. There was, for example, the name. They are called Jaffa Cakes, not Jaffa Biscuits. This, Mr Potter concluded, was a trifling consideration, though he noted that Jaffa Cakes are more biscuit than cake in several ways. They are packaged like biscuits, and they are marketed like biscuits: they are usually found in the biscuit aisle in shops.

> On the other hand, they have fundamental cake-esque qualities. Thus, they have ingredients of a traditional sponge cake: eggs, flour and sugar. And when Jaffa Cakes go stale they become hard, unlike biscuits, which become soft.

> Does size matter? Jaffa Cakes are more biscuit-sized than cake-sized. Linked to this, cakes are often eaten with a fork, while biscuits tend to be held in the hand. To test the significance of size, I asked the winner of The Great British Bake Off 2013, Frances Quinn, to bake the most ginormous Jaffa Cake the world has ever seen - the size of a flying saucer, at 124cm in diameter, weighing in at 50kg, and containing 120 eggs and 30 litres of jelly.

> Tim Crane, Knightbridge Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge University, does not believe that this XXXXXXXXXXXL Jaffa Cake is any more cake-like than its normal-sized Jaffa Cake sibling. "These days you see all sorts of tiny cakes for sale, some of them much smaller than Jaffa Cakes," he says. "And there's nothing incoherent about a giant biscuit."___

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2017-02-23 21:45:48 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

> Williams asks: What can an ethical theory do, if we are able to build a convincing case for one? He is skeptical about the force of ethical considerations and reminds us that even if we were to have a justified ethical theory, the person in question might not be concerned about it. Even if we could prove to some amoralists that what they are about to do is (a) against some universal ethical standard, (b) is detrimental to their own well-being, and/or (c) is against the demands of rationality or internal coherence, they still have the choice of whether to care about this or not. They can choose to act even if they know that what they are about to do is against some standard that they believe in. Robert Nozick—whom Williams quotes—describes this as follows: “Suppose that we show that some X he [the immoral man] holds or accepts or does commits him to behaving morally. He now must give up at leastone o... more »

> Williams asks: What can an ethical theory do, if we are able to build a convincing case for one? He is skeptical about the force of ethical considerations and reminds us that even if we were to have a justified ethical theory, the person in question might not be concerned about it. Even if we could prove to some amoralists that what they are about to do is (a) against some universal ethical standard, (b) is detrimental to their own well-being, and/or (c) is against the demands of rationality or internal coherence, they still have the choice of whether to care about this or not. They can choose to act even if they know that what they are about to do is against some standard that they believe in. Robert Nozick—whom Williams quotes—describes this as follows: “Suppose that we show that some X he [the immoral man] holds or accepts or does commits him to behaving morally. He now must give up at least one of the following: (a) behaving immorally, (b) maintaining X, (c) being consistent about this matter in this respect. The immoral man tells us, ‘To tell you the truth, if I had to make the choice, I would give up being consistent’” (Nozick 1981, 408).

> What Williams in effect says is that the noble task of finding ultimate justification for some ethical standards could not—even if it was successful—deliver any final argument in practical debates about how to behave. “Objective truth” would have only the motivational weight that the parties involved choose to give to it. It no longer is obvious what a philosophical justification of an ethical standard is supposed to do or even “why we should need such a thing” (Williams 1985, 23).

> Yet when we look at many contemporary ethical debates, we can see that that they proceed as if the solutions to the questions they pose would matter. In most scientific disciplines the journal articles have a standard section called “practical bearings,” where the practical relevance of the accumulated results are discussed. Not so for metaethical articles, even though they otherwise simulate the academic and peer-reviewed writing style of scientific articles. When we read someone presenting a number of technical counterarguments against quasi-realist solutions to the Frege-Geach problem, there usually is no debate about what practical bearings the discussion would have, whether these arguments would be successful or not. Suppose that in some idealized future the questions posed by the Frege-Geach problem would be conclusively solved. A new argument would emerge that all parties would see as so valid and sound that they would agree that the problem has now been finally settled. What then? How would ordinary people behave differently, after the solution has been delivered to them? I would guess it is fair to say—at least until it is proven otherwise—that the outcome of these debates is only marginally relevant for any ordinary person's ethical life.

-- Frank Martela (2017) Moral Philosophers as Ethical Engineers: Limits of Moral Philosophy and a Pragmatist Alternative. Metaphilosophy. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/meta.12229/full___

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2017-02-23 19:31:10 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

A thing you'd think I'd already have figured way earlier, but only became obvious to me after this latest breakup, is that there are stages of grief (other than the anger-denial-etc. ones).

A number of times, I've felt like I'd already gotten through the pain... Only for it to come up again, with me getting increasingly frustrated - "didn't I process this already?"

Fact is, I think I did. It's just that the way we talk about grief is a little misleading. Grief is not one big monolithic block that you just "get over" as one; rather there may be a number of different issues that are painful. They are separate but tangled up with each other, and you aren't truly "over it" until you have processed them all.

Things that I've processed so far are at least:

- coming to accept that this would never... more »

A thing you'd think I'd already have figured way earlier, but only became obvious to me after this latest breakup, is that there are stages of grief (other than the anger-denial-etc. ones).

A number of times, I've felt like I'd already gotten through the pain... Only for it to come up again, with me getting increasingly frustrated - "didn't I process this already?"

Fact is, I think I did. It's just that the way we talk about grief is a little misleading. Grief is not one big monolithic block that you just "get over" as one; rather there may be a number of different issues that are painful. They are separate but tangled up with each other, and you aren't truly "over it" until you have processed them all.

Things that I've processed so far are at least:

- coming to accept that this would never work as the kind of idealized relationship I'd been imagining as
- coming to accept that while it working out as a different kind of relationship wouldn't have been impossible earlier, it's too late for that now
- coming to accept that there were some simple mistakes that I made during the relationship that would have been easy to avoid and which could have made a huge difference to how things turned out; but which are pointless to dwell on now
- coming to accept the loss of all the concrete good moments we had before things went sour, and the loss of that shared hope and excitement for the future that we had (this is the one my mind seems to be focused on working on right now)

As well as a few others that I think I've mostly gotten over, but which feel too private to mention.

I don't know whether there will still be more. But it's comforting to realize that I'm at least making progress, even if it doesn't always feel like it.___

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2017-02-23 19:25:06 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 7 +1s; )Open 

A sign in my local library: 

"The library belongs to everyone. 

In the morning there's more quiet, 
in the afternoon there's more schoolchildren, 
in the evening it's a living room for everybody."

A sign in my local library: 

"The library belongs to everyone. 

In the morning there's more quiet, 
in the afternoon there's more schoolchildren, 
in the evening it's a living room for everybody."___

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2017-02-23 12:55:44 (5 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

> Ever since Kant, moral philosophers have been more or less animated by the mission of discovering inescapable law-like rules that would provide a binding justification for morality. Recently, however, many have started to question (a) whether this is possible and (b) what, after all, this project could achieve. An alternative vision of the task of moral philosophy starts from the pragmatist idea that philosophizing begins and ends in human experiencing. It leads to a view where morality is seen as a “social technology” that aims to make living together possible, and strengthens people's capability to live a good life within a society. The role of moral philosophy is, accordingly, to develop our moral tools further. Moral philosophers become ethical engineers who use their expertise in ethical topics to criticize existing “moral technology” and construct new concepts, tools, and theoriesthat be... more »

> Ever since Kant, moral philosophers have been more or less animated by the mission of discovering inescapable law-like rules that would provide a binding justification for morality. Recently, however, many have started to question (a) whether this is possible and (b) what, after all, this project could achieve. An alternative vision of the task of moral philosophy starts from the pragmatist idea that philosophizing begins and ends in human experiencing. It leads to a view where morality is seen as a “social technology” that aims to make living together possible, and strengthens people's capability to live a good life within a society. The role of moral philosophy is, accordingly, to develop our moral tools further. Moral philosophers become ethical engineers who use their expertise in ethical topics to criticize existing “moral technology” and construct new concepts, tools, and theories that better answer the current challenges for living a good life.___

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2017-02-22 23:05:16 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

> A newfound solar system just 39 light-years away contains seven warm, rocky planets, scientists say. [...]

> The newly discovered solar system resembles a scaled-down version of our own. The star at its center, an ultra-cool dwarf called TRAPPIST-1, is less than a tenth the size of our sun and about a quarter as warm. Its planets circle tightly around it; the closest takes just a day and a half to complete an orbit and the most distant takes about 20 days.

> If these planets orbited a larger, brighter star they would be fried to a crisp. But TRAPPIST-1 is so cool that all seven of the bodies are bathed in just the right amount of warmth to hold liquid water. And three of them receive the same amount of heat as Venus, Earth and Mars, putting them in “the habitable zone,” that Goldilocks region where it's thought life can thrive.

> The researchers callthe... more »

> A newfound solar system just 39 light-years away contains seven warm, rocky planets, scientists say. [...]

> The newly discovered solar system resembles a scaled-down version of our own. The star at its center, an ultra-cool dwarf called TRAPPIST-1, is less than a tenth the size of our sun and about a quarter as warm. Its planets circle tightly around it; the closest takes just a day and a half to complete an orbit and the most distant takes about 20 days.

> If these planets orbited a larger, brighter star they would be fried to a crisp. But TRAPPIST-1 is so cool that all seven of the bodies are bathed in just the right amount of warmth to hold liquid water. And three of them receive the same amount of heat as Venus, Earth and Mars, putting them in “the habitable zone,” that Goldilocks region where it's thought life can thrive.

> The researchers call these worlds “Earthlike,” though it’s a generous term. The planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system do resemble Earth in terms of size, mass and the energy they receive from their star, but there's a lot that makes our planet livable besides being a warm rock. Further observation is required to determine the composition of the TRAPPIST-1 bodies, if they have atmospheres and if they hold water, methane, oxygen and carbon dioxide — the molecules that scientists consider “biosignatures,” or signs of life. [...]

> Whatever secrets it may harbor, the TRAPPIST-1 system would surely be a sight to behold. Though the star is small, its nearness to the planets means that, from their perspective, it appears about three times as large as our sun. The outermost planets enjoy the daily spectacle of their neighbors passing across the sky and in front of their shared sun, each world a large dark spot silhouetted against the salmon-colored star. Its dim glow, which skews toward the red and infrared end of the light spectrum, bathes the planets in warmth and paints their skies with the crimson hues of a perpetual sunset.___

2017-02-22 22:05:53 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

When the AI wants to take over the world, it's going to release the 2070 equivalent of Meitu or pix2pix and allow us to donate it all the computing power it needs for its takeover plan. In the meanwhile, we are busy sharing all the funny full-immersion VR clips it generates for us as a background process.

When the AI wants to take over the world, it's going to release the 2070 equivalent of Meitu or pix2pix and allow us to donate it all the computing power it needs for its takeover plan. In the meanwhile, we are busy sharing all the funny full-immersion VR clips it generates for us as a background process.___

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2017-02-22 17:05:52 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

> I believe that if we develop strong AI in some reasonably short timeframe (less than a hundred years from now or something like that), it will be due to some conceptual breakthrough, and not merely due to continuing to scale up and incrementally modify existing deep learning algorithms.

> To be clear on what I mean by a “breakthrough”, I’m thinking of things like neural networks (1957) and backpropagation (1986) [ETA: actually dates back to 1974, from Paul Werbos’ thesis] as major machine learning advances, and types of neural network architecture such as LSTMs (1997), convolutional neural nets (1998), or neural Turing machines (2016) as minor advances. [...]

> Inductive reasoning is the process of making predictions from data. If you’ve seen 999 men who are mortal, Bayesian reasoning tells you that the 1000th man is also likely to be mortal. Deductive reasoningis the pr... more »

> I believe that if we develop strong AI in some reasonably short timeframe (less than a hundred years from now or something like that), it will be due to some conceptual breakthrough, and not merely due to continuing to scale up and incrementally modify existing deep learning algorithms.

> To be clear on what I mean by a “breakthrough”, I’m thinking of things like neural networks (1957) and backpropagation (1986) [ETA: actually dates back to 1974, from Paul Werbos’ thesis] as major machine learning advances, and types of neural network architecture such as LSTMs (1997), convolutional neural nets (1998), or neural Turing machines (2016) as minor advances. [...]

> Inductive reasoning is the process of making predictions from data. If you’ve seen 999 men who are mortal, Bayesian reasoning tells you that the 1000th man is also likely to be mortal. Deductive reasoning is the process of applying general principles: if you know that all men are mortal, you know that Socrates is mortal. In human psychological development, according to Piaget, deductive reasoning is more difficult and comes later — people don’t learn it until adolescence. Deductive reasoning depends on predicate calculus, not just propositional calculus. [...]

> Part of why this is so difficult is because it touches on questions of ontology. To translate “All men are mortal” into probability theory, one has to define a sample space. What are “men”? How many “men” are there? If your basic units of data are 64×64 pixel images, how are you going to divide that space up into “men”? And if tomorrow you upgrade to 128×128 images, how can you be sure that when you construct your collection of “men” from the new data, that it’s consistent with the old collection of “men”? And how do you set up your statements about “all men” so that none of them break when you change the raw data?

> This is the problem I alluded to in Choice of Ontology. A type of object that behaves properly under ontology changes is a concept, as opposed to a percept (a cluster of data points that are similar along some metric.) Images that are similar in Euclidean distance to a stick-figure form a percept, but “man” is a concept. And I don’t think we know how to implement concepts in machine-learning language, and I think we might have to do so in order to “learn” predicate-logic statements.___

2017-02-22 16:51:33 (2 comments; 1 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

This site lets you draw the sketch of a cat, shoe, or a handbag, and then have a neural network color it in. Results vary, depending on how good your sketch was.

This site lets you draw the sketch of a cat, shoe, or a handbag, and then have a neural network color it in. Results vary, depending on how good your sketch was.___

2017-02-22 00:45:36 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

> FOR AN ASPIRING BODHISATTVA, the essential practice is to cultivate maitri, or loving-kindness. The Shambhala teachings speak of “placing our fearful mind in the cradle of loving-kindness.” Another image for maitri is that of a mother bird who protects and cares for her young until they are strong enough to fly away. People sometimes ask, “Who am I in this image—the mother or the chick?” The answer is we’re both: both the loving mother and those ugly little chicks. It’s easy to identify with the babies—blind, raw, and desperate for attention. We are a poignant mixture of something that isn’t all that beautiful and yet is dearly loved. Whether this is our attitude toward ourselves or toward others, it is the key to learning how to love. We stay with ourselves and others when we’re screaming for food and have no feathers and also when we are more grown up and more appealing by worldlystandards.
... more »

> FOR AN ASPIRING BODHISATTVA, the essential practice is to cultivate maitri, or loving-kindness. The Shambhala teachings speak of “placing our fearful mind in the cradle of loving-kindness.” Another image for maitri is that of a mother bird who protects and cares for her young until they are strong enough to fly away. People sometimes ask, “Who am I in this image—the mother or the chick?” The answer is we’re both: both the loving mother and those ugly little chicks. It’s easy to identify with the babies—blind, raw, and desperate for attention. We are a poignant mixture of something that isn’t all that beautiful and yet is dearly loved. Whether this is our attitude toward ourselves or toward others, it is the key to learning how to love. We stay with ourselves and others when we’re screaming for food and have no feathers and also when we are more grown up and more appealing by worldly standards.

> In cultivating loving-kindness, we learn first to be honest, loving, and compassionate toward ourselves. Rather than nurturing self-denigration, we begin to cultivate a clear-seeing kindness. Sometimes we feel good and strong. Sometimes we feel inadequate and weak. But like mother-love, maitri is unconditional; no matter how we feel, we can aspire that we be happy. We can learn to act and think in ways that sow seeds of our future well-being. Gradually, we become more aware about what causes happiness as well as what causes distress. Without loving-kindness for ourselves, it is difficult, if not impossible, to genuinely feel it for others.

-- Pema Chödrön, Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion___

2017-02-22 00:44:54 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 5 +1s; )Open 

When I'm sick, I use that as an excu... reason to order food.

As a result, my Pizza Online order history is a pretty reliable record of the times when I've been sick.

When I'm sick, I use that as an excu... reason to order food.

As a result, my Pizza Online order history is a pretty reliable record of the times when I've been sick.___

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2017-02-21 19:20:41 (7 comments; 1 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

> It was once thought that when a reasonably wealthy country achieved democracy, it would almost certainly maintain it. No more.

> Democratic backsliding is far less rare than political scientists used to believe. In a recent academic paper, we identified 37 instances in 25 different countries in the postwar period in which democratic quality declined significantly (though a fully authoritarian regime didn’t emerge). That is, roughly one out of eight countries experienced measurable decay in the quality of their democratic institutions.

> Scholars used to argue that democracy, once attained in a fairly wealthy state, would become a permanent fixture. As the late Juan Linz put it, democracy would become “the only game in town.” That belief turned out to be merely hopeful, not a reality.

> As a result, the global trend for democracies — the other categoriesbeing p... more »

> It was once thought that when a reasonably wealthy country achieved democracy, it would almost certainly maintain it. No more.

> Democratic backsliding is far less rare than political scientists used to believe. In a recent academic paper, we identified 37 instances in 25 different countries in the postwar period in which democratic quality declined significantly (though a fully authoritarian regime didn’t emerge). That is, roughly one out of eight countries experienced measurable decay in the quality of their democratic institutions.

> Scholars used to argue that democracy, once attained in a fairly wealthy state, would become a permanent fixture. As the late Juan Linz put it, democracy would become “the only game in town.” That belief turned out to be merely hopeful, not a reality.

> As a result, the global trend for democracies — the other categories being partial or complete autocracies — does not look positive, as the following chart shows. While we are not yet to the point where democracies are rare, as in the 1970s, it is quite possible that the “third wave” of democratization has peaked. And the recent de-democratization trend stands out___

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2017-02-21 15:40:47 (1 comments; 1 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

> The head of Google DeepMind is worried that technology companies and individuals will fail to co-ordinate on the development of artificial superintelligence — defined by Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom as "an intellect that is much smarter than the best human brains in practically every field, including scientific creativity, general wisdom and social skills."

> DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis, whose company is arguably at the front of the race to develop human-level artificial intelligence (AI), said at The Future of Life's Beneficial AI conference in January that he wants (and expects) superintelligence to be created.

> But it's important that technology companies and individuals are open and transparent about their AI research, according to Hassabis.

> When superintelligence is close to being developed, the Cambridge graduate and chessg... more »

> The head of Google DeepMind is worried that technology companies and individuals will fail to co-ordinate on the development of artificial superintelligence — defined by Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom as "an intellect that is much smarter than the best human brains in practically every field, including scientific creativity, general wisdom and social skills."

> DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis, whose company is arguably at the front of the race to develop human-level artificial intelligence (AI), said at The Future of Life's Beneficial AI conference in January that he wants (and expects) superintelligence to be created.

> But it's important that technology companies and individuals are open and transparent about their AI research, according to Hassabis.

> When superintelligence is close to being developed, the Cambridge graduate and chess grandmaster said that there might be a need for the leader of the AI race to "slow down ... at the end." This would give societies a chance to adapt to superintelligence gradually, while providing scientists with the opportunity to carry out further research that could mitigate the risks of developing harmful AI.___

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2017-02-21 15:04:10 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 8 +1s; )Open 

> I was a co-author of a paper back in 2007 in the BMJ on medical myths. The first myth was that people should drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. This paper got more media attention (even in The Times) than pretty much any other research I’ve ever done.

> It made no difference. When, two years later, we published a book on medical myths that once again debunked the idea that we need eight glasses of water a day, I thought it would persuade people to stop worrying. I was wrong again.

> Many people believe that the source of this myth was a 1945 Food and Nutrition Board recommendation that said people need about 2.5 liters of water a day. But they ignored the sentence that followed closely behind. It read, “Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.”

> Water is present in fruits and vegetables. It’s in juice, it’s in beer,it’s even... more »

> I was a co-author of a paper back in 2007 in the BMJ on medical myths. The first myth was that people should drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. This paper got more media attention (even in The Times) than pretty much any other research I’ve ever done.

> It made no difference. When, two years later, we published a book on medical myths that once again debunked the idea that we need eight glasses of water a day, I thought it would persuade people to stop worrying. I was wrong again.

> Many people believe that the source of this myth was a 1945 Food and Nutrition Board recommendation that said people need about 2.5 liters of water a day. But they ignored the sentence that followed closely behind. It read, “Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.”

> Water is present in fruits and vegetables. It’s in juice, it’s in beer, it’s even in tea and coffee. Before anyone writes me to tell me that coffee is going to dehydrate you, research shows that’s not true either.

> Although I recommended water as the best beverage to consume, it’s certainly not your only source of hydration. You don’t have to consume all the water you need through drinks. You also don’t need to worry so much about never feeling thirsty. The human body is finely tuned to signal you to drink long before you are actually dehydrated.

> Contrary to many stories you may hear, there’s no real scientific proof that, for otherwise healthy people, drinking extra water has any health benefits.___

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2017-02-21 14:55:22 (2 comments; 1 reshares; 7 +1s; )Open 

> My younger daughter is something of a handful, so I’ve been thinking a lot about things like obedience, virtue, loyalty, and authority lately. These are often associated with martial arts training, so I thought I’d share my views here.

> I think it is important to distinguish between skills and virtues. Skills are abilities cultivated by practice, which are valued because of what they enable you to do, and should be deployed when its advantageous to do so. Virtues are inherent characteristics, which can be deepened or resisted through practice, but are considered good in and of themselves. A lot of trouble comes from confusing the two.

> For example, obedience is not a virtue, but it is a very useful skill. A person who cannot behave obediently when necessary gets into all sorts of unnecessary trouble, and is excluded from all sorts of beneficialact... more »

> My younger daughter is something of a handful, so I’ve been thinking a lot about things like obedience, virtue, loyalty, and authority lately. These are often associated with martial arts training, so I thought I’d share my views here.

> I think it is important to distinguish between skills and virtues. Skills are abilities cultivated by practice, which are valued because of what they enable you to do, and should be deployed when its advantageous to do so. Virtues are inherent characteristics, which can be deepened or resisted through practice, but are considered good in and of themselves. A lot of trouble comes from confusing the two.

> For example, obedience is not a virtue, but it is a very useful skill. A person who cannot behave obediently when necessary gets into all sorts of unnecessary trouble, and is excluded from all sorts of beneficial activities. For example, if you can’t follow orders, you’re not safe to have on a sailing boat. No sensible person would welcome you into any kind of dangerous activity if you are unable to follow safety regulations. Obedience is really useful, but obedience cultivated as a virtue is utterly deleterious. It is not virtuous to obey, it is virtuous to do the right thing.

> Loyalty is a virtue that often gets confused with obedience. Let’s take it in a martial arts context. Many instructors of my acquaintance would say that a good student is loyal and obedient. I don’t agree; I think that a good student is loyal, yes, but obedience is grossly overrated.

> Of course, a disloyal and disobedient student is a waste of everybody’s time. But a disloyal and obedient student is worse: they will follow your instructions right up to the point that you make a mistake; their thoughtless obedience prevents them from calling you on your mistake, and so they follow you blindly into error. Then their lack of loyalty leads them to cast you as a villain or a fool, and storm off in a huff. A loyal and obedient student makes things easy for an instructor, but their obedience prevents them from helping you to grow. The best students are loyal but disobedient. They are not inclined to blindly accept anything, and will call you on every error. But their loyalty keeps them training with you, and you grow together.___

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2017-02-19 19:04:53 (4 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

> The older generation of Trump supporters the press often focuses on, the so called “forgotten white working class”, are in this sense easier to explain since they fit into the schema of a 1950s-style electorate. Like the factory workers in Factotum, the baby boomers were promised pensions and prosperity, but received instead simply the promises. Here the narrative is simple. The workers were promised something and someone (the politicians? the economy? the system itself?) never delivered. Their horse never came in. [...] 

> [Younger] Trump supporters hold a different sort of ideology, not one of “when will my horse come in”, but a trolling self-effacing, “I know my horse will never come in”. That is to say, younger Trump supporters know they are handing their money to someone who will never place their bets — only his own — because, after all, it’s plain asday there was never any other ... more »

> The older generation of Trump supporters the press often focuses on, the so called “forgotten white working class”, are in this sense easier to explain since they fit into the schema of a 1950s-style electorate. Like the factory workers in Factotum, the baby boomers were promised pensions and prosperity, but received instead simply the promises. Here the narrative is simple. The workers were promised something and someone (the politicians? the economy? the system itself?) never delivered. Their horse never came in. [...] 

> [Younger] Trump supporters hold a different sort of ideology, not one of “when will my horse come in”, but a trolling self-effacing, “I know my horse will never come in”. That is to say, younger Trump supporters know they are handing their money to someone who will never place their bets — only his own — because, after all, it’s plain as day there was never any other option.

> In this sense, Trump’s incompetent, variable, and ridiculous behavior is the central pillar upon which his younger support rests. [...] 

> Pepe [the Frog] symbolizes embracing your loserdom, owning it. That is to say, it is what all the millions of forum-goers of 4chan met to commune about. It is, in other words, a value system, one reveling in deplorableness and being pridefully dispossessed. It is a culture of hopelessness, of knowing “the system is rigged”. But instead of fight the response is flight, knowing you’re trapped in your circumstances is cause to celebrate. For these young men, voting Trump is not a solution, but a new spiteful prank.

> We know, by this point, that Trump is funny. Even to us leftists, horrified by his every move, he is hilarious. Someone who is all brash confidence and then outrageously incompetent at everything he does is — from an objective standpoint — comedy gold. Someone who accuses his enemies of the faults he at that very moment is portraying is comedy gold. But, strangely, as the left realized after the election, pointing out Trump was a joke was not helpful. In fact, Trump’s farcical nature didn’t seem to be a liability, rather, to his supporters, it was an asset.___

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2017-02-19 12:17:59 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

Neuroskeptic: "More lesbians say they "always" orgasm during sex (86%) than straight women (65%). Men bad in bed, science finds."

Neuroskeptic: "More lesbians say they "always" orgasm during sex (86%) than straight women (65%). Men bad in bed, science finds."___

2017-02-19 11:29:17 (0 comments; 2 reshares; 9 +1s; )Open 

> Spiritual awakening is frequently described as a journey to the top of a mountain. We leave our attachments and our worldliness behind and slowly make our way to the top. At the peak we have transcended all pain. The only problem with this metaphor is that we leave all others behind. Their suffering continues, unrelieved by our personal escape.

> On the journey of the warrior-bodhisattva, the path goes down, not up, as if the mountain pointed toward the earth instead of the sky. Instead of transcending the suffering of all creatures, we move toward turbulence and doubt however we can. We explore the reality and unpredictability of insecurity and pain, and we try not to push it away. If it takes years, if it takes lifetimes, we let it be as it is.

> At our own pace, without speed or aggression, we move down and down and down. With us move millions of others, our companions... more »

> Spiritual awakening is frequently described as a journey to the top of a mountain. We leave our attachments and our worldliness behind and slowly make our way to the top. At the peak we have transcended all pain. The only problem with this metaphor is that we leave all others behind. Their suffering continues, unrelieved by our personal escape.

> On the journey of the warrior-bodhisattva, the path goes down, not up, as if the mountain pointed toward the earth instead of the sky. Instead of transcending the suffering of all creatures, we move toward turbulence and doubt however we can. We explore the reality and unpredictability of insecurity and pain, and we try not to push it away. If it takes years, if it takes lifetimes, we let it be as it is.

> At our own pace, without speed or aggression, we move down and down and down. With us move millions of others, our companions in awakening from fear. At the bottom we discover water, the healing water of bodhichitta. Bodhichitta is our heart—our wounded, softened heart. Right down there in the thick of things, we discover the love that will not die. This love is bodhichitta. It is gentle and warm; it is clear and sharp; it is open and spacious. The awakened heart of bodhichitta is the basic goodness of all beings.

-- Pema Chödrön, Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion___

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2017-02-18 20:37:54 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

> The key point is that the political economy of anti-immigrant, Islamophobic news is such that the fabrication of stories implicating Muslims is worth it: those who start the rumors (whatever their reasons) know that there are media outlets willing to smear an entire religious group. The media outlets, in turn, are willing to run questionable material because it is red meat to a large portion of their base. It sells. Later apologies, if they come at all, are of no concern.

> In one of the more astonishing stories of 2017, last week the German tabloid Bild claimed that on New Year’s Eve in Frankfurt, a huge group of intoxicated Muslim men, most of them refugees, had formed a “rioting sex mob” and assaulted scores of women. The story contained “eyewitness” accounts and even interviews with purported victims. Naturally, it was picked up internationally and spread via social media.
... more »

> The key point is that the political economy of anti-immigrant, Islamophobic news is such that the fabrication of stories implicating Muslims is worth it: those who start the rumors (whatever their reasons) know that there are media outlets willing to smear an entire religious group. The media outlets, in turn, are willing to run questionable material because it is red meat to a large portion of their base. It sells. Later apologies, if they come at all, are of no concern.

> In one of the more astonishing stories of 2017, last week the German tabloid Bild claimed that on New Year’s Eve in Frankfurt, a huge group of intoxicated Muslim men, most of them refugees, had formed a “rioting sex mob” and assaulted scores of women. The story contained “eyewitness” accounts and even interviews with purported victims. Naturally, it was picked up internationally and spread via social media.

> One week later, however, police in Frankfurt declared that the story was completely false: no such sexual assaults had been reported, the “victim” in question was not even in Frankfurt at the time, and two individuals were now under investigation for starting the false rumors and wasting police resources.

> Bild is the largest-selling newspaper in Europe, with a circulation of about 3m per day, but it has come under attack from other outlets in Germany for stoking anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim flames. When the police announced that the Frankfurt incident was false, Bild published an apology, and claimed that the story, “in no way met the journalistic standards” of the paper. But the fact remains that it was published and reproduced globally, and no quantity of retractions, excuses or apologies from the outlets that ran with it will heal the damage.
___

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2017-02-18 12:25:29 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

> “Why should it be different this time?” That’s the most common response I hear when I raise concerns about automation and the future of jobs, and it’s a pretty simple rejoinder. The Western world managed the shift out of agricultural jobs into industry, and continued to see economic growth. So will not the jobs being displaced now by automation and artificial intelligence lead to new jobs elsewhere in a broadly similar and beneficial manner? [...] 

> As economics, that may well be correct, but as history it’s missing some central problems. The shift out of agricultural jobs, while eventually a boon for virtually all of humanity, brought significant problems along the way. This time probably won’t be different, and that’s exactly why we should be concerned.

> Consider, for instance, the history of wages during the Industrial Revolution. Estimates vary, butit is common to t... more »

> “Why should it be different this time?” That’s the most common response I hear when I raise concerns about automation and the future of jobs, and it’s a pretty simple rejoinder. The Western world managed the shift out of agricultural jobs into industry, and continued to see economic growth. So will not the jobs being displaced now by automation and artificial intelligence lead to new jobs elsewhere in a broadly similar and beneficial manner? [...] 

> As economics, that may well be correct, but as history it’s missing some central problems. The shift out of agricultural jobs, while eventually a boon for virtually all of humanity, brought significant problems along the way. This time probably won’t be different, and that’s exactly why we should be concerned.

> Consider, for instance, the history of wages during the Industrial Revolution. Estimates vary, but it is common to treat the Industrial Revolution as starting around 1760, at least in Britain. [...] By the estimates of Gregory Clark, economic historian at the University of California at Davis, English real wages may have fallen about 10 percent from 1770 to 1810, a 40-year period. Clark also estimates that it took 60 to 70 years of transition, after the onset of industrialization, for English workers to see sustained real wage gains at all.

> If we imagine the contemporary U.S. experiencing similar wage patterns, most of us would expect political trouble, and hardly anyone would call that a successful transition. [...] The early to mid-19th century saw the rise of socialist ideologies, largely as a response to economic disruptions. Whatever mistakes Karl Marx made, he was a keen observer of the Industrial Revolution, and there is a reason he became so influential.___

2017-02-18 09:03:09 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

> Notice that very often, the very first things we give up are those that nourish us the most but seem ‘optional’. The result is that we are increasingly left with only work or other stressors that often deplete our resources, and nothing to replenish or nourish us – and exhaustion is the result.

-- Mark Williams & Danny Penman: Mindfulness

> Notice that very often, the very first things we give up are those that nourish us the most but seem ‘optional’. The result is that we are increasingly left with only work or other stressors that often deplete our resources, and nothing to replenish or nourish us – and exhaustion is the result.

-- Mark Williams & Danny Penman: Mindfulness___

2017-02-17 20:57:33 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 7 +1s; )Open 

Weird mental changes that have happened to me: I find it a little alien that a lot of people have a strong will to live.

I do still have a self-preservation instinct: put me in a dangerous situation, and I'll get afraid and try to escape. And on an intellectual level, I think that it's probably better for me to exist than not, because that way I can continue to do what are hopefully good things.

But that's it: I have a fear of danger and an intellectual preference for existence for the sake of others. What's missing is a positive emotional urge to exist. It's more of an "eh, now that I'm here, I might as well continue being here, I guess."

A lot of people seem to have something much stronger, a sense of really wanting to be alive, of being grateful for existing, feeling that even if life was really bad then almost anything is still... more »

Weird mental changes that have happened to me: I find it a little alien that a lot of people have a strong will to live.

I do still have a self-preservation instinct: put me in a dangerous situation, and I'll get afraid and try to escape. And on an intellectual level, I think that it's probably better for me to exist than not, because that way I can continue to do what are hopefully good things.

But that's it: I have a fear of danger and an intellectual preference for existence for the sake of others. What's missing is a positive emotional urge to exist. It's more of an "eh, now that I'm here, I might as well continue being here, I guess."

A lot of people seem to have something much stronger, a sense of really wanting to be alive, of being grateful for existing, feeling that even if life was really bad then almost anything is still better than not existing in the first place. I don't have that, and it feels pretty foreign.

But I did use to have it. I used to care a lot about radical life extension, for instance, because the thought of my body having a built-in expiry date felt unbearable. Now I'm mostly just "yeah, I guess I'll die eventually".

Depression is the most obvious suspect in what has caused this shift, but so are changes in how I view personal identity. I'm not even convinced that the me who wakes up tomorrow morning is the same person as me who is writing this... Or for that matter, that the whole concept of "being the same person" is meaningful in any sense. When you don't believe that any persistent you survives from moment to moment in the first place, then it makes sense that you wouldn't care about living so much. ___

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2017-02-16 21:08:44 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

The World Economic Forum says that the work I'm currently doing for my employer is (or at least "may be") morally obligatory:

> Some serious thinkers fear that AI could one day pose an existential threat: a “superintelligence” might pursue goals that prove not to be aligned with the continued existence of humankind. Such fears relate to “strong” AI or “artificial general intelligence” (AGI), which would be the equivalent of human-level awareness, but which does not yet exist. Current AI applications are forms of “weak” or “narrow” AI or “artificial specialized intelligence” (ASI); they are directed at solving specific problems or taking actions within a limited set of parameters, some of which may be unknown and must be discovered and learned. [...]

> Scholars, philosophers, futurists and tech enthusiasts vary in their predictions for theadvent of artificial ge... more »

The World Economic Forum says that the work I'm currently doing for my employer is (or at least "may be") morally obligatory:

> Some serious thinkers fear that AI could one day pose an existential threat: a “superintelligence” might pursue goals that prove not to be aligned with the continued existence of humankind. Such fears relate to “strong” AI or “artificial general intelligence” (AGI), which would be the equivalent of human-level awareness, but which does not yet exist. Current AI applications are forms of “weak” or “narrow” AI or “artificial specialized intelligence” (ASI); they are directed at solving specific problems or taking actions within a limited set of parameters, some of which may be unknown and must be discovered and learned. [...]

> Scholars, philosophers, futurists and tech enthusiasts vary in their predictions for the advent of artificial general intelligence (AGI), with timelines ranging from the 2030s to never. However, given the possibility of an AGI working out how to improve itself into a superintelligence, it may be prudent – or even morally obligatory – to consider potentially feasible scenarios, and how serious or even existential threats may be avoided.___

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2017-02-16 15:48:01 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 5 +1s; )Open 

> Price was the first person ever to be diagnosed with what is now known as highly superior autobiographical memory, or HSAM, a condition she shares with around 60 other known people. She can remember most of the days of her life as clearly as the rest of us remember the recent past, with a mixture of broad strokes and sharp detail. Now 51, Price remembers the day of the week for every date since 1980; she remembers what she was doing, who she was with, where she was on each of these days. She can actively recall a memory of 20 years ago as easily as a memory of two days ago, but her memories are also triggered involuntarily.

> It is, she says, like living with a split screen: on the left side is the present, on the right is a constantly rolling reel of memories, each one sparked by the appearance of present-day stimuli. With so many memories always at the ready, Price says, it can be... more »

> Price was the first person ever to be diagnosed with what is now known as highly superior autobiographical memory, or HSAM, a condition she shares with around 60 other known people. She can remember most of the days of her life as clearly as the rest of us remember the recent past, with a mixture of broad strokes and sharp detail. Now 51, Price remembers the day of the week for every date since 1980; she remembers what she was doing, who she was with, where she was on each of these days. She can actively recall a memory of 20 years ago as easily as a memory of two days ago, but her memories are also triggered involuntarily.

> It is, she says, like living with a split screen: on the left side is the present, on the right is a constantly rolling reel of memories, each one sparked by the appearance of present-day stimuli. With so many memories always at the ready, Price says, it can be maddening: virtually anything she sees or hears can be a potential trigger. [...]

> “Whenever I see a date flash on the television (or anywhere else for that matter), I automatically go back to that day and remember where I was, what I was doing, what day it fell on and on and on and on and on. It is non-stop, uncontrollable and totally exhausting … Most have called it a gift but I call it a burden. I run my entire life through my head every day and it drives me crazy!!!”___

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2017-02-16 15:12:51 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

> Linus Torvalds believes the technology industry's celebration of innovation is smug, self-congratulatory, and self-serving.

> The term of art he used was more blunt: "The innovation the industry talks about so much is bullshit," he said. "Anybody can innovate. Don't do this big 'think different'... screw that. It's meaningless. Ninety-nine per cent of it is get the work done."

> In a deferential interview at the Open Source Leadership Summit in California on Wednesday, conducted by Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, Torvalds discussed how he has managed the development of the Linux kernel and his attitude toward work.

> "All that hype is not where the real work is," said Torvalds. "The real work is in the details."

> Torvalds said he subscribes to the view that... more »

> Linus Torvalds believes the technology industry's celebration of innovation is smug, self-congratulatory, and self-serving.

> The term of art he used was more blunt: "The innovation the industry talks about so much is bullshit," he said. "Anybody can innovate. Don't do this big 'think different'... screw that. It's meaningless. Ninety-nine per cent of it is get the work done."

> In a deferential interview at the Open Source Leadership Summit in California on Wednesday, conducted by Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, Torvalds discussed how he has managed the development of the Linux kernel and his attitude toward work.

> "All that hype is not where the real work is," said Torvalds. "The real work is in the details."

> Torvalds said he subscribes to the view that successful projects are 99 per cent perspiration, and one per cent innovation.___

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2017-02-16 13:33:49 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

Surprising facts: Amazon made a loss for the first seven years of its existence, still sometimes does and only makes relatively slim profits when it doesn't.

> In Amazon’s early years, a running joke among Wall Street analysts was that CEO Jeff Bezos was building a house of cards. Entering its sixth year in 2000, the company had yet to crack a profit and was mounting millions of dollars in continuous losses, each quarter’s larger than the last. Nevertheless, a segment of shareholders believed that by dumping money into advertising and steep discounts, Amazon was making a sound investment that would yield returns once e-commerce took off. Each quarter the company would report losses, and its stock price would rise. One news site captured the split sentiment by asking, “Amazon: Ponzi Scheme or Wal-Mart of the Web?”

> Sixteen years on, nobody seriously doubts that Amazonis anyt... more »

Surprising facts: Amazon made a loss for the first seven years of its existence, still sometimes does and only makes relatively slim profits when it doesn't.

> In Amazon’s early years, a running joke among Wall Street analysts was that CEO Jeff Bezos was building a house of cards. Entering its sixth year in 2000, the company had yet to crack a profit and was mounting millions of dollars in continuous losses, each quarter’s larger than the last. Nevertheless, a segment of shareholders believed that by dumping money into advertising and steep discounts, Amazon was making a sound investment that would yield returns once e-commerce took off. Each quarter the company would report losses, and its stock price would rise. One news site captured the split sentiment by asking, “Amazon: Ponzi Scheme or Wal-Mart of the Web?”

> Sixteen years on, nobody seriously doubts that Amazon is anything but the titan of twenty-firstcentury commerce. In 2015, it earned $107 billion in revenue, and, as of 2013, it sold more than its next twelve online competitors combined. By some estimates, Amazon now captures 46% of online shopping, with its share growing faster than the sector as a whole. In addition to being a retailer, it is a marketing platform, a delivery and logistics network, a payment service, a credit lender, an auction house, a major book publisher, a producer of television and films, a fashion designer, a hardware manufacturer, and a leading provider of cloud server space and computing power. Although Amazon has clocked staggering growth—reporting double-digit increases in net sales yearly—it reports meager profits, choosing to invest aggressively instead. The company listed consistent losses for the first seven years it was in business, with debts of $2 billion. While it exits the red more regularly now, negative returns are still common. The company reported losses in two of the last five years, for example, and its highest yearly net income was still less than 1% of its net sales.

> Despite the company’s history of thin returns, investors have zealously backed it: Amazon’s shares trade at over 900 times diluted earnings, making it the most expensive stock in the Standard & Poor’s 500. As one reporter marveled, “The company barely ekes out a profit, spends a fortune on expansion and free shipping and is famously opaque about its business operations. Yet investors . . . pour into the stock.” Another commented that Amazon is in “a class of its own when it comes to valuation.”

> Reporters and financial analysts continue to speculate about when and how Amazon’s deep investments and steep losses will pay off.___

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2017-02-16 13:17:15 (1 comments; 1 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

Good AI's General AI Challenge launched: first round has $50k in prizes, $5mil in total prizes over the multi-year General AI Challenge.

> How this round works:

> * Today, teams start developing their AI / AGI agents
> * They can develop, test and train their agents on training tasks provided by us
> * All these tasks were designed with “graduality” in mind – which means that each task builds on skills acquired in previous tasks; each new task reuses skills learned in previous tasks
> * After 6 months, teams will submit their pre-trained agents / models and code
> * We will start evaluating the agents on non-public evaluation tasks
> * We will test the agent’s ability to learn gradually and to not-forget skills

Good AI's General AI Challenge launched: first round has $50k in prizes, $5mil in total prizes over the multi-year General AI Challenge.

> How this round works:

> * Today, teams start developing their AI / AGI agents
> * They can develop, test and train their agents on training tasks provided by us
> * All these tasks were designed with “graduality” in mind – which means that each task builds on skills acquired in previous tasks; each new task reuses skills learned in previous tasks
> * After 6 months, teams will submit their pre-trained agents / models and code
> * We will start evaluating the agents on non-public evaluation tasks
> * We will test the agent’s ability to learn gradually and to not-forget skills___

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2017-02-16 12:17:28 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

> On January 30th, Sidd Bikkannavar, a US-born scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory flew back to Houston, Texas from Santiago, Chile.

> On his way through through the airport, Customs and Border Patrol agents pulled him aside. They searched him, then detained him in a room with a bunch of other people sleeping in cots. They eventually returned and said they’d release him if he told them the password to unlock his phone.

> Bikkannavar explained that the phone belonged to NASA and had sensitive information on it, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. He eventually yielded and unlocked his phone. The agents left with his phone. Half an hour later, they returned, handed him his phone, and released him. [...]

> Companies like Elcomsoft make “forensic software” that can suck down all your photos, contacts — even passwords for your email and social mediaaccounts ... more »

> On January 30th, Sidd Bikkannavar, a US-born scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory flew back to Houston, Texas from Santiago, Chile.

> On his way through through the airport, Customs and Border Patrol agents pulled him aside. They searched him, then detained him in a room with a bunch of other people sleeping in cots. They eventually returned and said they’d release him if he told them the password to unlock his phone.

> Bikkannavar explained that the phone belonged to NASA and had sensitive information on it, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. He eventually yielded and unlocked his phone. The agents left with his phone. Half an hour later, they returned, handed him his phone, and released him. [...]

> Companies like Elcomsoft make “forensic software” that can suck down all your photos, contacts — even passwords for your email and social media accounts — in a matter of minutes. Their customers include the police forces of various countries, militaries, and private security forces. They can use these tools to permanently archive everything there is to know about you. All they need is your unlocked phone. [...]

> It’s only a matter of time before downloading the contents of people’s phones becomes a standard procedure for entering every country. This already happens in Canada. And you can bet that countries like China and Russia aren’t far behind.___

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2017-02-16 12:16:07 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

> One of the best ways to improve the quality of short-term [weather] forecasting is to rely on sensors on the ground that report data like barometric pressure, which can help scientists determine when the weather’s about to change. These sensors are already being used to help forecasters predict the weather, but in some areas, they’re few and far between.

> In the last five years, however, the number of pressure sensors in the world has exploded. That’s because smartphone manufacturers have started putting them in their phones, mainly to help determine a device’s altitude for location tracking: Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones have packed barometers since 2011, and the feature came to Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in 2014. [...]

> Last year, a popular weather app called Dark Sky introduced an opt-in feature that automatically takes barometric pressure readings. “Weget more than... more »

> One of the best ways to improve the quality of short-term [weather] forecasting is to rely on sensors on the ground that report data like barometric pressure, which can help scientists determine when the weather’s about to change. These sensors are already being used to help forecasters predict the weather, but in some areas, they’re few and far between.

> In the last five years, however, the number of pressure sensors in the world has exploded. That’s because smartphone manufacturers have started putting them in their phones, mainly to help determine a device’s altitude for location tracking: Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones have packed barometers since 2011, and the feature came to Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in 2014. [...]

> Last year, a popular weather app called Dark Sky introduced an opt-in feature that automatically takes barometric pressure readings. “We get more than a million pressure sensor reports a day, and it’s growing,” said Dark Sky’s founder, Adam Grossman, in an email. [...] Another app, WeatherSignal, takes automatic readings and sends it to a number of academic partners, according to Brendan Gill, the app’s founder. One of those partners is Cliff Mass, a professor and meteorologist at the University of Washington, who has been writing about the potential of smartphone readings to change weather forecasting on his blog and in academic journals since 2012. [...]

> Pressure observations are particularly useful for figuring out traditionally hard-to-predict weather events, said Mass—detailed pressure readings might reveal the atmospheric subtleties that tend to precede a storm, for example. The data could also help lead to better predictions of shifts in the winds. “Errors of an hour or two in timing in a wind shift line could be worth huge amounts of money for wind farms,” Mass said. [...]

> “What we’ve shown is that even moderate density helps. But I’d like to have a whole order of magnitude—or two orders of magnitude or three orders of magnitude—more observations, and I’m hoping that could provoke revolutionary improvements in forecasting these smaller-scale features,” said Mass. “If I could get a density of one [sensor] per square mile in rural areas, that would be a big advance.”___

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2017-02-15 19:54:29 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

> When you first start learning, early in life, there is a bottleneck in the amount of information you have access to. You soak up everything like a sponge, because you are open and there is relatively little to absorb.

> But very quickly, in elementary school, your access to information stops being the limiting factor. You take home a few giant textbooks, and suddenly the bottleneck moves to ways of structuring and contextualizing the information.

> In high school, you learn a variety of methods to structure information — outlines, diagrams, underlining and highlighting, reports, essays, notebooks and binders. The bottleneck moves to your ability to synthesize this information, to turn it into new ideas.

> In college, if you make it that far, the bottleneck moves to insight generation. You start questioning the world as given, and find that the juiciestintel... more »

> When you first start learning, early in life, there is a bottleneck in the amount of information you have access to. You soak up everything like a sponge, because you are open and there is relatively little to absorb.

> But very quickly, in elementary school, your access to information stops being the limiting factor. You take home a few giant textbooks, and suddenly the bottleneck moves to ways of structuring and contextualizing the information.

> In high school, you learn a variety of methods to structure information — outlines, diagrams, underlining and highlighting, reports, essays, notebooks and binders. The bottleneck moves to your ability to synthesize this information, to turn it into new ideas.

> In college, if you make it that far, the bottleneck moves to insight generation. You start questioning the world as given, and find that the juiciest intellectual rewards are ideas that shift how you view it. You start hunting for the revolutionary, the controversial, steering your learning toward the red pills of paradoxes and contradictions.

> If you are lucky enough to go beyond this, the bottleneck moves once again: to your assumptions. They constrain your view, what you are allowed to see, and thereby the thoughts and actions available to you. You start getting a kick out of unearthing new assumptions, shining a light on blindspots that, by definition, you didn’t know you didn’t know about. This process is unbounded, because with enough examination, all your beliefs are revealed to be assumptions.___

2017-02-14 21:14:14 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

There's almost something deep in this poem. Almost. (autocomplete-provided parts in brackets)

Roses are [the ones that you are looking for]
Violets are [the most popular]
Sugar is [the best thing to do]
And [not a good thing to do]

There's almost something deep in this poem. Almost. (autocomplete-provided parts in brackets)

Roses are [the ones that you are looking for]
Violets are [the most popular]
Sugar is [the best thing to do]
And [not a good thing to do]___

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2017-02-14 16:52:48 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

> My general sense is that the debate about trigger warnings has waned since its peak. There is certainly still a vigorous debate about ‘coddling’ on university campuses, and a persistent desire to create ‘safe spaces’ in order to accommodate oppressed minorities, but the specific debate about trigger warnings seems (to me at any rate) to have faded into the background.

> So that means now is probably a good time to reflect on its merits and see whether it casts any light on the more general debate about safe spaces and campus ‘coddling’. Fortunately there are some academic resources that help us to do this. Wendy Wyatt’s article “The Ethics of Trigger Warnings” is a particularly useful guide to the topic and I’m going to summarise and evaluate some of its contents over the next two posts.

> Wyatt’s article comes in two halves. The first half reviews thearguments of the ‘pro’... more »

The Ethics of Trigger Warnings: A Review of the Arguments
[Trigger Warning: This post is about trigger warnings] I have taught a number of controversial topics in my time. I have taught about the ethics of sex work, the criminalisation of incest, the problems of rape and sexual assault, the permissibility of tortu...___> My general sense is that the debate about trigger warnings has waned since its peak. There is certainly still a vigorous debate about ‘coddling’ on university campuses, and a persistent desire to create ‘safe spaces’ in order to accommodate oppressed minorities, but the specific debate about trigger warnings seems (to me at any rate) to have faded into the background.

> So that means now is probably a good time to reflect on its merits and see whether it casts any light on the more general debate about safe spaces and campus ‘coddling’. Fortunately there are some academic resources that help us to do this. Wendy Wyatt’s article “The Ethics of Trigger Warnings” is a particularly useful guide to the topic and I’m going to summarise and evaluate some of its contents over the next two posts.

> Wyatt’s article comes in two halves. The first half reviews the arguments of the ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ groups. The second half defends Wyatt’s own view on the ethics of trigger warnings. There is something of a disconnect between both halves. Although she promises to evaluate and engage with the arguments of the pro and anti sides presented in the first half, on my reading she doesn’t really do this in the second half. She summarises their views and then develops her own. Her position certainly builds upon and refers back to the arguments of the pro and anti sides, but she does not specifically evaluate the merits of their arguments.

> I'm going to try to make up for this omission in the remainder of this post. I will review the seven ‘anti’ and four ‘pro’ arguments that she identifies in her article. I will try to formalise them into simple arguments and reveal their hidden assumptions. I will then subject them to some critical evaluation. My evaluation will be light. As you will see, the debate about trigger warnings raises lots of issues in both philosophy, psychology and sociology. It would be beyond my knowledge to fully evaluate all these issues. So, instead, I will limit myself to identifying possible weaknesses and areas requiring greater scrutiny.

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2017-02-14 16:49:27 (4 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

> A closely related issue is when it is reasonable to regard a proposed risk as non-serious. Predictions of risk from strangelets, black holes, vacuum decay and other “theoretical noise” caused by theoretical physics theories at least is triggered by some serious physics thinking, even if it is far out. Physicists have generally tended to ignore such risks, but when forced by anxious acceleratorphobes the arguments had to be nontrivial: the initial dismissal was not really well founded. Yet it seems totally reasonable to dismiss some risks. If somebody worries that the alien spacegods will take exception to the accelerator we generally look for a psychiatrist rather than take them seriously. Some theories have so low prior probability that it seems rational to ignore them.

> But what is the proper de minimis boundary here? One crude way of estimating it is to say that risks ofdes... more »

The full details on why I have considered existential risk from demonology. The short version: getting rid of "crazy" risks is harder than one thinks. http://aleph.se/andart2/risk/my-adventures-in-demonology/___> A closely related issue is when it is reasonable to regard a proposed risk as non-serious. Predictions of risk from strangelets, black holes, vacuum decay and other “theoretical noise” caused by theoretical physics theories at least is triggered by some serious physics thinking, even if it is far out. Physicists have generally tended to ignore such risks, but when forced by anxious acceleratorphobes the arguments had to be nontrivial: the initial dismissal was not really well founded. Yet it seems totally reasonable to dismiss some risks. If somebody worries that the alien spacegods will take exception to the accelerator we generally look for a psychiatrist rather than take them seriously. Some theories have so low prior probability that it seems rational to ignore them.

> But what is the proper de minimis boundary here? One crude way of estimating it is to say that risks of destroying the world with lower probability than one in 10 billion can safely be ignored – they correspond to a risk of less than one person in expectation. But we would not accept that for an individual chemistry experiment: if the chance of being blown up if someone did it was “less than 100%” but still far above some tiny number, they would presumably want to avoid risking their neck. And in the physics risk case the same risk is borne by every living human. Worse, by Bostrom’s astronomical waste argument, existential risks risks more than 10^46 possible future lives. So maybe we should put the boundary at less than 10^-46: any risk more likely must be investigated in detail. That will be a lot of work. Still, there are risks far below this level: the probability that all humans were to die from natural causes within a year is around 10^-7.2e11, which is OK. [...]

> ... what about the risk of somebody summoning a demon army? It might cause the end of the world. The theory “Demons are real and threatening” is not a hugely likely theory: atheists and modern Christians may assign it zero probability. But that breaks Cromwell’s rule: once you assign 0% to a probability no amount of evidence – including a demon army parading in front of you – will make you change your mind (or you are not applying probability theory correctly). The proper response is to assume some tiny probability \epsilon, conveniently below the boundary.

> …except that there are a lot of old-fashioned believers who do think the theory “Demons are real and threatening” is a totally fine theory. Sure, most academic readers of this blog will not belong to this group and instead to the \epsilon probability group. But knowing that there are people out there that think something different from your view should make you want to update your view in their direction a bit – after all, you could be wrong and they might know something you don’t. (Yes, they ought to move a bit in your direction too.) But now suppose you move 1% in the direction of the believers from your \epsilon belief. You will now believe in the theory to \epsilon + 1\% \approx 1\%. That is, now you have a fairly good reason not to disregard the demon theory automatically. At least you should spend effort on checking it out. And once you are done with that you better start with the next crazy New Age theory, and the next conspiracy theory…

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2017-02-14 16:38:52 (0 comments; 6 reshares; 7 +1s; )Open 

> “They [the Trump campaign] were using 40-50,000 different variants of ad every day that were continuously measuring responses and then adapting and evolving based on that response,” Martin Moore, director of Kings College’s Centre for the Study of Media, Communication and Power, told The Guardian in early December. “It’s all done completely opaquely and they can spend as much money as they like on particular locations because you can focus on a five-mile radius.”

> Where traditional pollsters might ask a person outright how they plan to vote, Analytica relies not on what they say but what they do, tracking their online movements and interests and serving up multivariate ads designed to change a person’s behavior by preying on individual personality traits.

> “For example,” Nix wrote in an op-ed last year about Analytica’s work on the Cruzcampaign, ”our issues mod... more »

> “They [the Trump campaign] were using 40-50,000 different variants of ad every day that were continuously measuring responses and then adapting and evolving based on that response,” Martin Moore, director of Kings College’s Centre for the Study of Media, Communication and Power, told The Guardian in early December. “It’s all done completely opaquely and they can spend as much money as they like on particular locations because you can focus on a five-mile radius.”

> Where traditional pollsters might ask a person outright how they plan to vote, Analytica relies not on what they say but what they do, tracking their online movements and interests and serving up multivariate ads designed to change a person’s behavior by preying on individual personality traits.

> “For example,” Nix wrote in an op-ed last year about Analytica’s work on the Cruz campaign, ”our issues model identified that there was a small pocket of voters in Iowa who felt strongly that citizens should be required by law to show photo ID at polling stations.”

> “Leveraging our other data models, we were able to advise the campaign on how to approach this issue with specific individuals based on their unique profiles in order to use this relatively niche issue as a political pressure point to motivate them to go out and vote for Cruz. For people in the ‘Temperamental’ personality group, who tend to dislike commitment, messaging on the issue should take the line that showing your ID to vote is ‘as easy as buying a case of beer’. Whereas the right message for people in the ‘Stoic Traditionalist’ group, who have strongly held conventional views, is that showing your ID in order to vote is simply part of the privilege of living in a democracy.”

> For Analytica, the feedback is instant and the response automated: Did this specific swing voter in Pennsylvania click on the ad attacking Clinton’s negligence over her email server? Yes? Serve her more content that emphasizes failures of personal responsibility. No? The automated script will try a different headline, perhaps one that plays on a different personality trait -- say the voter’s tendency to be agreeable toward authority figures. Perhaps: “Top Intelligence Officials Agree: Clinton’s Emails Jeopardized National Security.”

> Much of this is done through Facebook dark posts, which are only visible to those being targeted.

___

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2017-02-11 22:47:56 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

> Veterinarians from the HaClinica animal hospital, in Tel Aviv, Israel, recently offered their life-saving services to the humble garden snail after a mishap in a local woman's yard: she'd accidentally stepped on him — shattering his brittle shell. [...]

> In a series of photos posted on the clinic's Facebook page, vets documented how they set about putting the shell back together, piece by piece.

> The 'naked' snail was even on hand throughout the procedure, patiently observing the careful process with nary a complaint about their technique.

> Veterinarians from the HaClinica animal hospital, in Tel Aviv, Israel, recently offered their life-saving services to the humble garden snail after a mishap in a local woman's yard: she'd accidentally stepped on him — shattering his brittle shell. [...]

> In a series of photos posted on the clinic's Facebook page, vets documented how they set about putting the shell back together, piece by piece.

> The 'naked' snail was even on hand throughout the procedure, patiently observing the careful process with nary a complaint about their technique.___

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2017-02-11 22:46:54 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

> Mangia (also styled Mangia', with a trailing apostrophe) is a 1983 video game by Spectravision for the Atari 2600 video game console. [...]

> Mangia's gameplay has been described as "bizarre." The player gets to control a young boy, who must eat plates of pasta placed in front of him by his mother, who will keep feeding him until his stomach explodes on-screen.

> To prevent this, the player can, instead of eating the pasta, throw it to a cat, who occasionally appears at the window, and a dog, who walks across the bottom of the screen. However, if the mother sees the pasta being thrown to the cat or dog, she brings three times as much pasta the next time she returns.

> The joystick is used to control the player: pressing right causes the boy to grab a plate of pasta, pressing left causes him to eat it, and pressing up or down causes him to... more »

> Mangia (also styled Mangia', with a trailing apostrophe) is a 1983 video game by Spectravision for the Atari 2600 video game console. [...]

> Mangia's gameplay has been described as "bizarre." The player gets to control a young boy, who must eat plates of pasta placed in front of him by his mother, who will keep feeding him until his stomach explodes on-screen.

> To prevent this, the player can, instead of eating the pasta, throw it to a cat, who occasionally appears at the window, and a dog, who walks across the bottom of the screen. However, if the mother sees the pasta being thrown to the cat or dog, she brings three times as much pasta the next time she returns.

> The joystick is used to control the player: pressing right causes the boy to grab a plate of pasta, pressing left causes him to eat it, and pressing up or down causes him to toss the pasta to the cat (named Frankie in the manual) or the dog (named Sergio) respectively. If the cat and dog are not nearby when the food is thrown to them, the mother returns with extra pasta to "punish" the player.___

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2017-02-11 22:46:00 (0 comments; 4 reshares; 5 +1s; )Open 

On a chilly morning in December 1988, computer analyst Jack Barsky embarked on his usual morning commute to his office on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, leaving his wife and baby daughter at home in Queens. As he entered the subway, he caught sight of something startling: a daub of red paint on a metal beam. Barsky had looked for it every morning for years; it meant he had a life-changing decision to make, and fast.

Barsky knew the drill. The red paint was a warning that he was in immediate danger, that he should hurry to collect cash and emergency documents from a prearranged drop site. From there, he would cross the border into Canada and contact the Soviet consulate in Toronto. Arrangements would be made for him to leave the country. He would cease to be Jack Barsky. The American identity he had inhabited for a decade would evaporate and he would return to his former life: that of Albrecht... more »

On a chilly morning in December 1988, computer analyst Jack Barsky embarked on his usual morning commute to his office on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, leaving his wife and baby daughter at home in Queens. As he entered the subway, he caught sight of something startling: a daub of red paint on a metal beam. Barsky had looked for it every morning for years; it meant he had a life-changing decision to make, and fast.

Barsky knew the drill. The red paint was a warning that he was in immediate danger, that he should hurry to collect cash and emergency documents from a prearranged drop site. From there, he would cross the border into Canada and contact the Soviet consulate in Toronto. Arrangements would be made for him to leave the country. He would cease to be Jack Barsky. The American identity he had inhabited for a decade would evaporate and he would return to his former life: that of Albrecht Dittrich, a chemist and KGB agent, with a wife and seven-year-old son waiting patiently for him in East Germany.

Barsky thought of his American daughter, Chelsea: could he really leave her? And, if he didn’t, how long could he evade both the KGB and US counterintelligence?___

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2017-02-11 22:45:21 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

> ... this one had a very strong piano introduction. For me, pianos always have the taste and texture of pineapple chunks. Usually, they're the sweet tinned ones, but in this case, they were large, fresh pineapple chunks.

> ... this one had a very strong piano introduction. For me, pianos always have the taste and texture of pineapple chunks. Usually, they're the sweet tinned ones, but in this case, they were large, fresh pineapple chunks.___

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2017-02-11 15:27:12 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 5 +1s; )Open 

> O'Neil argues that while some algorithms may be helpful, others can be nefarious. In her 2016 book, "Weapons of Math Destruction," she cites some troubling examples in the United States:

>- Public schools in Washington DC in 2010 fired more than 200 teachers -- including several well-respected instructors -- based on scores in an algorithmic formula which evaluated performance.

>- A man diagnosed with bipolar disorder was rejected for employment at seven major retailers after a third-party "personality" test deemed him a high risk based on its algorithmic classification.

>- Many jurisdictions are using "predictive policing" to shift resources to likely "hot spots." O'Neill says that depending on how data is fed into the system, this could lead to discovery of more minor crimes and a "feedback loop" which... more »

> O'Neil argues that while some algorithms may be helpful, others can be nefarious. In her 2016 book, "Weapons of Math Destruction," she cites some troubling examples in the United States:

>- Public schools in Washington DC in 2010 fired more than 200 teachers -- including several well-respected instructors -- based on scores in an algorithmic formula which evaluated performance.

>- A man diagnosed with bipolar disorder was rejected for employment at seven major retailers after a third-party "personality" test deemed him a high risk based on its algorithmic classification.

>- Many jurisdictions are using "predictive policing" to shift resources to likely "hot spots." O'Neill says that depending on how data is fed into the system, this could lead to discovery of more minor crimes and a "feedback loop" which stigmatizes poor communities.

>- Some courts rely on computer-ranked formulas to determine jail sentences and parole, which may discriminate against minorities by taking into account "risk" factors such as their neighborhoods and friend or family links to crime.

>- In the world of finance, brokers "scrape" data from online and other sources in new ways to make decisions on credit or insurance. This too often amplifies prejudice against the disadvantaged, O'Neil argues.___

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2017-02-11 15:24:55 (11 comments; 1 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

> The Sims 1 released in the year 2000. [...] two males or two females could not get married. They could kiss, they could slow dance, they could date, they could have sex [...], but they could not get married. 

> The Sims 2 released in the year 2004. [...] Gay Sims were finally allowed to get married [...] they didn't actually call it marriage. Instead, when two males or two females chose to get married, they had a "Joined Union". The amount of points given to the sim for having a joined union was less than that for sims having a marriage. [...] 

> The Sims 3 released in the year 2009. [...] gay sims can finally get married. There is no more to the system to mention- they can get married, the point values are the same, there's nothing more complicated about it. It's just finally aligned completely with heterosexula sims getting married.[...] 
more »

> The Sims 1 released in the year 2000. [...] two males or two females could not get married. They could kiss, they could slow dance, they could date, they could have sex [...], but they could not get married. 

> The Sims 2 released in the year 2004. [...] Gay Sims were finally allowed to get married [...] they didn't actually call it marriage. Instead, when two males or two females chose to get married, they had a "Joined Union". The amount of points given to the sim for having a joined union was less than that for sims having a marriage. [...] 

> The Sims 3 released in the year 2009. [...] gay sims can finally get married. There is no more to the system to mention- they can get married, the point values are the same, there's nothing more complicated about it. It's just finally aligned completely with heterosexula sims getting married. [...] 

> The Sims 4 released in 2014. [...] a relatively recent patch for The Sims 4 adds the following options to the game: [...] Essentially, this allows you to create a wide gamut of sims. You can create a male sim who transitions to a female sim, and is still infertile because they are biologically male, but wears female clothing (and still stands up, because they're 'pre-op'). Or you can make a male sim who transitions to a female sim and is infertile, but pees sitting down, because they're post-op. You can make a female sim who wears male clothing but is still female and still able to get pregnant, should she so choose (this one's a bit unrealistic, unless you use mods to allow for accidental pregnancy!). Or you can simply create a sim who is infertile. Or a sim who identifies as male but likes crossdressing. Or a drag queen. Or a tomboy who grows up to be a willowy princess-like lesbian. Or a femme little boy who grows up to be a butch lesbian.

___

2017-02-11 13:23:53 (5 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

Huh. This feels like a pretty good explanation of why angry or bitter people often feel off-putting:

> People who are angry or bitter blame particular other people for their loss. So by expressing empathy with or helping such people, you risk getting involved in conflicts with those other people. In contrast, helping people who are just sad less risks getting you into conflicts.

> People who are angry tend to think they have a substantial chance of winning a conflict with those they blame for their loss. Anger is a more visible emotion that drives one more toward overt conflict. Angry people are visibly trying to recruit others to their fight.

> In contrast, bitter people tend to think they have little chance of winning a overt conflict, at least for now. So bitter people tend to fume in private, waiting for their chance to hit back unseen. If you help a bitter... more »

Huh. This feels like a pretty good explanation of why angry or bitter people often feel off-putting:

> People who are angry or bitter blame particular other people for their loss. So by expressing empathy with or helping such people, you risk getting involved in conflicts with those other people. In contrast, helping people who are just sad less risks getting you into conflicts.

> People who are angry tend to think they have a substantial chance of winning a conflict with those they blame for their loss. Anger is a more visible emotion that drives one more toward overt conflict. Angry people are visibly trying to recruit others to their fight.

> In contrast, bitter people tend to think they have little chance of winning a overt conflict, at least for now. So bitter people tend to fume in private, waiting for their chance to hit back unseen. If you help a bitter person, you may get blamed when their hidden attacks are uncovered, and your support may tempt them to become angry and start an overt fight. So by helping a bitter person, you are more likely to be on the losing end of a conflict.

> These considerations suggest that our cost of empathizing with and helping people with these emotions increases in this order: scared, sad, angry, and bitter. And this also seems to describe the order in which we actually feel less empathy; we feel less empathy when its costs are higher.

> Note that this same order also describes who has suffered a larger loss, on average. Scared people expect to suffer the smallest loss, while bitter people suffer the largest loss. (Ask yourself which emotion you’d rather feel.) So our willingness to express empathy with those who suffer a loss is inverse to the loss they suffer. We empathize the most with those who suffer the least. Because that is cheapest.___

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2017-02-10 11:46:39 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

> * No, you probably wouldn’t have tackled that rampaging gunman and brought his workplace shooting to a halt.
> * No, you probably wouldn’t have stopped that dangerous scene at the kink club.
> * No, you probably wouldn’t have punched out that abuser who was molesting you when you weren’t expecting it.

> Because those last words are the critical ones: when you weren’t expecting it.

> The problem is that you’re not continually braced for the unexpected, and so when these extraordinary things happen to you, you’re not in the frame of mind of “This is a shooting” but rather mired in a muddled stew of “Wait, what’s going on here? Are those firecrackers? Am I overreacting? Does that guy really have a gun, or am I going to tackle some random dude for no good reason and make a fool out of myself?” [...]

> By the time you hearabout it, you’re presen... more »

> * No, you probably wouldn’t have tackled that rampaging gunman and brought his workplace shooting to a halt.
> * No, you probably wouldn’t have stopped that dangerous scene at the kink club.
> * No, you probably wouldn’t have punched out that abuser who was molesting you when you weren’t expecting it.

> Because those last words are the critical ones: when you weren’t expecting it.

> The problem is that you’re not continually braced for the unexpected, and so when these extraordinary things happen to you, you’re not in the frame of mind of “This is a shooting” but rather mired in a muddled stew of “Wait, what’s going on here? Are those firecrackers? Am I overreacting? Does that guy really have a gun, or am I going to tackle some random dude for no good reason and make a fool out of myself?” [...]

> By the time you hear about it, you’re presented with a nice headline that is also an easy conclusion: Mass shooting. Kink scene gone wrong. Rape. But you wouldn’t have had information like that available to you at the moment of the incident.

> Instead, you’re spending time you could have been a Big Damn Hero merely trying to figure out what the hell is happening.___

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2017-02-10 10:58:31 (2 comments; 1 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

This is fantastic.

This is fantastic.___

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2017-02-09 21:26:56 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Eeeeek huge amount of Game Developers Conference talks

Good way to lose a few days of your life :)

Eeeeek huge amount of Game Developers Conference talks

Good way to lose a few days of your life :)___

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2017-02-09 21:07:55 (1 comments; 1 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

I really liked, and have gotten a lot out of, the self-compassion advice in the book The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness. In particular, I noticed that I want to link to its meditation instructions pretty often, so I put them up here. They're a variant of the standard breathing exercise, but emphasizing softness and gentleness.

I also included a bit about the book's general approach and attitude to self-development and meditation, which I think is maybe even more powerful.

I really liked, and have gotten a lot out of, the self-compassion advice in the book The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness. In particular, I noticed that I want to link to its meditation instructions pretty often, so I put them up here. They're a variant of the standard breathing exercise, but emphasizing softness and gentleness.

I also included a bit about the book's general approach and attitude to self-development and meditation, which I think is maybe even more powerful.___

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2017-02-07 07:45:53 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

> Last month I got to attend the Asilomar Conference on Beneficial AI. I tried to fight it off, saying I was totally unqualified to go to any AI-related conference. But the organizers assured me that it was an effort to bring together people from diverse fields to discuss risks ranging from technological unemployment to drones to superintelligence, and so it was totally okay that I’d never programmed anything more complicated than HELLO WORLD.

> “Diverse fields” seems right. On the trip from San Francisco airport, my girlfriend and I shared a car with two computer science professors, the inventor of Ethereum, and a UN chemical weapons inspector. One of the computer science professors tried to make conversion by jokingly asking the weapons inspector if he’d ever argued with Saddam Hussein. “Yes,” said the inspector, not joking at all. The rest of the conference was even moreinteresting... more »

> Last month I got to attend the Asilomar Conference on Beneficial AI. I tried to fight it off, saying I was totally unqualified to go to any AI-related conference. But the organizers assured me that it was an effort to bring together people from diverse fields to discuss risks ranging from technological unemployment to drones to superintelligence, and so it was totally okay that I’d never programmed anything more complicated than HELLO WORLD.

> “Diverse fields” seems right. On the trip from San Francisco airport, my girlfriend and I shared a car with two computer science professors, the inventor of Ethereum, and a UN chemical weapons inspector. One of the computer science professors tried to make conversion by jokingly asking the weapons inspector if he’d ever argued with Saddam Hussein. “Yes,” said the inspector, not joking at all. The rest of the conference was even more interesting than that. [...]

> The conference policy discourages any kind of blow-by-blow description of who said what in order to prevent people from worrying about how what they say will be “reported” later on. But here are some general impressions I got from the talks and participants:___

2017-02-06 13:47:36 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

> ... what is suffering? [...] Worryingly, [different working] definitions often implicitly or explicitly conflict [...] Intuitively, one would hope that gradual progress in affective neuroscience will make this problem less pressing- that given enough time&effort&resources, different approaches to defining suffering will cohere, and this problem will fade away.

> I am here to inform you that this is not going to happen: this outside view that “affective neuroscience is slowly settling on a consensus view of suffering” is not happening, and this hurdle to coordination will not resolve itself. Instead, the more affective neuroscience has learned about valence, the more confusing and divergent the picture becomes.

> The following is an overview (adapted from my core research) of what affective neuroscience knows about valence. 

> ... what is suffering? [...] Worryingly, [different working] definitions often implicitly or explicitly conflict [...] Intuitively, one would hope that gradual progress in affective neuroscience will make this problem less pressing- that given enough time&effort&resources, different approaches to defining suffering will cohere, and this problem will fade away.

> I am here to inform you that this is not going to happen: this outside view that “affective neuroscience is slowly settling on a consensus view of suffering” is not happening, and this hurdle to coordination will not resolve itself. Instead, the more affective neuroscience has learned about valence, the more confusing and divergent the picture becomes.

> The following is an overview (adapted from my core research) of what affective neuroscience knows about valence. ___

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