#0021: Tap water as a service
Oh come on. “Tap water as a service” for “just $1.99 per month”. This has to be satire, right? Ever heard of a tap?
It’s easy to get caught up in the wonders of modern technology (especially as a card-carrying nerd), but it does feel a bit like we’re on the verge of a comically ridiculous dystopia from time to time. Fave quote: “19th-century-style plutocrat comic-book villains are so in, these days! And by ‘in’ I mean ‘in charge.’“
And speaking of dystopias, one of the best sci-fi movies of all time (as well as one of my faves) has a sequel: Blade Runner 2049. I hope it can live up to the legacy.
India unveils ambitious plans to have only electric card by 2030.
Melinda Gates and Fei Fei Li unite in an attempt to “liberate AI from guys with hoodies”. Their main concern: “If we don’t get women and people of color at the table — real technologists doing the real work — we will bias systems. Trying to reverse that a decade or two from now will be so much more difficult, if not close to impossible.”
Ever wondered why beards have taken off as a fashion statement for men in the early 21st century? An evolutionary biologist ponders the causes and effects.
Do you prefer to read on a paper book, or an e-reader? In an interesting switch e-reader sales have fallen back as paper books reclaim market share. It really is difficult to beat the form factor of a book.
A couple of recent developments in AI tech have seen the ability to impersonate someone’s voice and the ability to modify a photograph of a face to add a smile or subtract years. As AI techniques make it increasingly difficult to know what is real or fake, what are we to make of the things we see and interact with online?
What are the limits to the things that AIs can predict? Even if it were technically possible, would a society allow an AI to predict criminality based on analysis of facial features? This sounds crazy, but researchers claim to have found a way to do it with an unreasonably high degree of accuracy. It’s not clear that the paper’s claims stand up to scrutiny (they almost certainly do not), but it is almost certain that this kind of tech will be abused, regardless of its efficacy.
Throwing some water on what has become a very exuberant space, Kevin Kelly thinks that a superhuman AI is a myth, and much of the talk on AI and machine intelligence is little more than a cargo cult.
As someone who does a very modest amount of running (at an even more modest pace), the idea of running a 4 hour marathon seems equivalent to climbing Everest. The idea of running one in under 2 hours is just plain bonkers. This Wired article explores why it is almost impossible for a human to run a 2-hour marathon. Just to put this in perspective, to crack the 2-hour barrier, you need to run at slightly better than ~2:30 min/km (~4:34 min/mile) for 42km. Watch the linked video to see just how hard it is for ordinary people to keep up that pace for any length of time, even on a treadmill.
Here’s three stories of successful innovation from big brands in a corporate context.
The USAF (apparently) has a secretive space truck kind of thing that has been in space for 2 years. I wonder what it was up to?
This is a really great way to visualise stats.
Watch how fast this guy does data entry for a stock take.
There are some really interesting data points in here: Forget taxes, Warren Buffett says. The real problem is health care. For example: whilst tax as a percentage of US GDP has done down, healthcare as a percentage of GDP has gone up.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love mind maps. Here’s a massive, connected set of mindmaps that allows you to learn anything. Well, almost anything.
Its a non-zero possibility that we, or our descendants, will live in a world without work. If the robots do take over and we all end up on a Universal Basic Income of some kind, what will that mean to the meaning of life?
Only in A̶u̶s̶t̶r̶a̶l̶i̶a̶ Iowa
tap-water-as-a-service story above, I’m pretty sure this has to be satire, but who knows. A guy from Iowa - Austin Stewart, Assistant Professor of Design from Iowa State University, no less - thinks that we should give chickens VR headsets to make them happier.
Simple, but subtle this week:
How much does a monster weigh if it weighs 100 kg plus half its own weight?
No monsters for prizes, just eternal membership to the Friday Teaser Winners’ Circle Club and Health Spa.
Last week’s answer:
Divide the balls into the following groups: (1,2,3),(4,5,6),(7,8)
Step 1: weigh (1,2,3) against (4,5,6)
Two possible outcomes:
Case A: the two groups are equally heavy.
Case B: one of these groups is heavier than the other.
Case A: weigh 7 against 8. You have now identified the heavier ball in 2 weighings.
Case B: take the heavier group (assume it to be (1,2,3))
Now take any two balls and weigh them against each other. Either: one of these is heavier, else the third ball is heavier.