best-of-2018   123

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It’s Good to Be Bad If You’re a Bank - Bloomberg
That would probably be a sufficient answer in itself—“we already use people’s data to make vastly more money than most hedge fund managers can dream of, why mess around with securities regulation?”—though I still find it a little counterintuitive that advertising all of the world’s goods and services would be more lucrative than owning them. But Schmidt’s answer strikes me as underestimating the level of … not trust, certainly, but resignation? … that people feel toward big tech companies. “We can’t exploit people’s search and email data for profit, they would go crazy,” is just an odd thing to think when you are running Google.
Google  levine  best-of-2018 
7 days ago by elrob
Shopping While Black: Past, Present and Future? - Marginal REVOLUTION
The last case, the Amazon Go case, is in part a decline in the value of statistical discrimination since shoplifting is no longer a problem (in theory, assuming the technology works) but in this case the decline in statistical discrimination is driven by much finer discrimination. The moment a shopper enters the Amazon Go store, Amazon knows their name, address, entire shopping history, credit history and potentially much more. Moreover, a shopper’s every movement within the store is tracked to ...
discrimination  capitalism  best-of-2018 
20 days ago by elrob
No More “Struggle Porn” – Nat Eliason – Medium
> When a real human won’t have sex with you, you turn to porn, and when your creative work is failing, you turn to struggle porn.
what-we-believe-in  productivity  best-of-2018 
21 days ago by arnalyse
Breaking Open New Prospects for “China Chips” - Google Docs
The examples of China Chips, China Screens, and China Cars all tell us to not rely too much on foreign-funded enterprises. The purpose of foreign-funded enterprises is different from that of market-oriented domestic enterprises. The objectives of foreign-funded enterprises are to bypass China's tariff barriers (by building chips/panels/car factories in China) and to reduce costs. But for an ambitious market-oriented domestic-funded enterprise, its purpose is to link together the industrial chain, raise up its own brand, and work hard to develop (or acquire) the critical segments (of the industrial chain) that can easily “squeeze the throat”, expand its own breathing space, and invisibly bind together its own destiny with the needs of the nation.

Thus, it is not a joke to say that breaking open new prospects for “China chips” will be reliant on Alibaba and Tencent.

Also, the most important point - both LCD panels and chips have a marked "periodic law":

Most of the time, as capacity increases and technology advances, prices will continue to fall.
But every few years new applications appear: for instance, smartphones, mining machines, AI chips, etc. For this period, chips/panels are in short supply, and prices skyrocket (the wave of 2016-2017).
chinai  best-of-2018 
5 weeks ago by elrob
Don't Be Evil
The technologies that we've developed are infrastructures. We don't have a language yet for infrastructure as politics. And enough magic still clings to the devices that people are very reluctant to start thinking about them as ordinary as tarmac.

Think about an auditorium where someone sits onstage and the audience watches, versus a Quaker meeting where everyone sits in a circle. They're very different.

So, structure matters. Design is absolutely critical. Design is the process by which the politics of one world become the constraints on another. How are those constraints built? What are its effects on political life?

When I went to Burning Man, that's what struck me: I am in the desert. The desert of Israel, from the Bible, under the eye of heaven, and everything I do shall be meaningful. That’s a Protestant idea, a Puritan idea, a tech idea, and a commune idea. All of those come together at Burning Man and that's one of the reasons I'm fascinated by the place.
tech  best-of-2018  Culture 
7 weeks ago by elrob
Resistant protocols: How decentralization evolves – John Backus – Medium
Still, the shift from central hosts to link-only websites tells the full story of decentralization. When the law points to a piece of centralized software and demands modifications that users don’t want, technologists split that software into parts and obscures the objectionable features the legal system understands.

The path we followed from centralized mp3 distribution to the modern BitTorrent ecosystem is a case study following one of the biggest mainstream decentralization movement the world has seen. Napster had 80 million users at its peak. In 2007, BitTorrent was ~60% of global internet traffic. From 1997 to 2007, users flocked to the best user experience possible that was just decentralized enough to stay alive.

Each successful phase of decentralization we saw represented the minimum viable decentralization necessary to stay alive.

These lazy workarounds match because decentralization isn’t the product, it is just a means of staying alive.

Without activism, we would have beautifully designed decentralized technologies which are impossible to use in practice.
decentralisation  software  best-of-2018 
10 weeks ago by elrob
AI Nationalism — Ian Hogarth
The Chinese state appears to have recognised the importance of data to its AI nationalism efforts. China’s latest cybersecurity law mandates that data being exported out of China have to be reviewed.

China’s annual imports of semiconductor-related products are now $260 billion and have recently risen above spending on oil.

[2017] AlphaGo defeated world No.1 Kie Jie 3-0 in Wuzhen, China. Live video coverage of AlphaGo vs. Ke Jie was blocked in China.

This kind of dependency would be tantamount to a new kind of colonialism.

We can see small examples of new geopolitical relationships emerging. In March, Zimbabwe’s government signed a strategic cooperation framework agreement with a Guangzhou-based startup, CloudWalk Technology for a large-scale facial recognition program where Zimbabwe will export a database of their citizens’ faces to China, allowing CloudWalk to improve their underlying algorithms with more data and Zimbabwe to get access to CloudWalk’s computer vision technology. This is part of the much broader Belt and Road initiative of the Chinese Government.
ai-policy  industrial-policy  best-of-2018 
12 weeks ago by elrob
Augmenting Long-term Memory
First, if memorizing a fact seems worth 10 minutes of my time in the future, then I do it

And so using Anki in this way gives confidence you will retain understanding over the long term. This confidence, in turn, makes the initial act of understanding more pleasurable, since you believe you're learning something for the long haul, not something you'll forget in a day or a week.

This is important: I find Anki works much better when used in service to some personal creative project.

Typically I will extract anywhere from 5 to 20 Anki questions from the paper. It's usually a bad idea to extract fewer than 5 questions – doing so tends to leave the paper as a kind of isolated orphan in my memory. Later I find it difficult to feel much connection to those questions. Put another way: if a paper is so uninteresting that it's not possible to add 5 good questions about it, it's usually better to add no questions at all.

If you feel you could easily find something more rewarding to read, switch over. It's worth deliberately practicing such switches, to avoid building a counter-productive habit of completionism in your reading. It's nearly always possible to read deeper into a paper, but that doesn't mean you can't easily be getting more value elsewhere. It's a failure mode to spend too long reading unimportant papers.

Make most Anki questions and answers as atomic as possible: That is, both the question and answer express just one idea.

One benefit of using Anki in this way is that you begin to habitually break things down into atomic questions. This sharply crystallizes the distinct things you've learned.

There's a big difference between remembering a fact and mastering a process. For instance, while you might remember a Unix command when cued by an Anki question, that doesn't mean you'll recognize an opportunity to use the command in the context of the command line, and be comfortable typing it out.

What you Ankify is not a trivial choice: Ankify things that serve your long-term goals. In some measure we become what we remember, so we must be careful what we remember*

It's true that top mathematicians are usually very bright. But here's a different explanation of what's going on. It's that, per Simon, many top mathematicians have, through hard work, internalized many more complex mathematical chunks than ordinary humans. And what this means is that mathematical situations which seem very complex to the rest of us seem very simple to them.

“distributed practice”, meaning practice which is distributed in time, ideally in a way designed to maximally promote retention. This is in contrast to cramming, often known as massed practice, where people try to fit all their study into just one session, relying on repetition.
memory  advice  best-of-2018 
august 2018 by elrob
How an Ex-Cop Rigged McDonald’s Monopoly Game and Stole Millions
When they arrived at the factory, Jacobson would summon a forklift of french fry containers, hide the winning game piece, and send it into the wild.

Murray was a quick-thinking Midwesterner who had risen through the ranks at McDonald’s, and was often the public face of the company during any drama. She was the “McQueen” of McDonald’s, said Joe Maggard, a disgraced Ronald McDonald actor who was convicted of making harassing phone calls while posing as the clown.

Baker recalled that one of the FBI’s top agents, known as the “human lie-detector,” interrogated him, and added that if the FBI had focused on surveilling terrorists and not McDonald’s winners, 9/11 might never have happened.
mcdonald's  crime  best-of-2018 
august 2018 by elrob
How Technology Grows (a Restatement of Definite Optimism)
I submit that we have two big biases when we talk about technology. First, we think about it too much in terms of tools and recipes, when really we should think about it more in terms of process knowledge and technical experience. Second, most of us focus too much on the digital world and not enough on the industrial world. Our obsession with the digital world has pushed our expectation of the technological future in the direction of cyberpunk dystopia; I hope instead that we can look forward to a joyful vision of the technological future, driven by advances in industry.

Japan’s Ise Grand Shrine is an extraordinary example in that genre. Every 20 years, caretakers completely tear down the shrine and build it anew. The wooden shrine has been rebuilt again and again for 1,200 years. Locals want to make sure that they don’t ever forget the production knowledge that goes into constructing the shrine. There’s a very clear sense that the older generation wants to teach the building techniques to the younger generation: “I will leave these duties to you next time.”

Matt Klein has put forward a fun claim: “Take out Greater London—the prosperity of which depends to an uncomfortable degree on a willingness to provide services to oligarchs from the Middle East and the former Soviet Union—and the UK is one of the poorest countries in Western Europe.”

Acceptance of low economic growth is the hidden premise in most commentary that I read. I consider it to be the deepest bias in American and European intellectual society today: it pervades nearly every piece of discourse, from blog posts and bestselling books to movies and pop songs. And I find no theme more radical and refreshing than generalized frustration that economic growth is way too low.
technology  best-of-2018 
august 2018 by elrob

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