Lux Recommends — #7

By Sam Arbesman

Welcome to Lux Recommends #7, the newest edition of what we at Lux are reading and thinking about.

Articles

Science Isn’t Broken: “The scientific method is the most rigorous path to knowledge, but it’s also messy and tough. Science deserves respect exactly because it is difficult — not because it gets everything correct on the first try. The uncertainty inherent in science doesn’t mean that we can’t use it to make important policies or decisions. It just means that we should remain cautious and adopt a mindset that’s open to changing course if new data arises.” — Zavain

An Estimate of the Total DNA in the Biosphere: Spoiler: it’s about 5 x 10³¹ megabases. — Sam

Superintelligence Now! Steven Johnson examines the future of artificial intelligence, alongside our ability as a society to tackle long-term problems. — Sam

Lighting the Brain: “Karl Deisseroth and the optogenetics breakthrough” — Adam G

The Internet’s Dark Ages: On preservation and loss on the Internet, focusing on a newspaper series that seemed to be lost forever. — Sam

Why amateurs beat experts in predicting tech trends: “…we unqualified journalists, science fiction writers and other geeks-without-portfolio actually have an OK predictive record. If you read widely, take soundings from plenty of experts and apply the understanding of human nature that geniuses often lack — a kind of meta study approach — you can get a quite reliable idea of things to come.”— Josh

Apple’s Secrecy Hurts its AI Software Development: An article arguing that due to the small and academic-minded nature of the machine learning community, Apple’s demands on secrecy hurts their ability to get the best talent.

Books

The Sculptor, by Scott McCloud: We believe passion is the best predictor of success. But success has trade-offs comes at a cost. A theme as relevant as the difficult question in the Steve Jobs biopics. Would you give your life for your art? And not just any art, timeless gorgeous celebrated art. Trading current mortality (your life) for future immortality (your art). A beautifully rendered depiction of a Faustian bargain, a quest for fame and immortality through your passion all written by comic genius Scott McCloud. — Josh

Here, by Richard McGuire: What started as a short comic in 1989 has become a full 300 page graphic novel transcending space and time as a single corner of a room, aka “Here” is juxtaposed and overlaid in a way that only images can communicate from the dawn of the millenia through the present, back to ancient settlers and thrust into the future. It’s almost like the app “What Was Here?” and its fascinating to consider the near infinite occurrences, moments, feelings, events that took place in a physical place you may be standing right now. — Josh

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