Tag Archives: lecture

Slow AI

Charlie Stross's keynote at the 34th Chaos Communications Congress Leipzig is entitled "Dude, you broke the Future!" and it's an excellent, Strossian look at the future we're barelling towards, best understood by a critical examination of the past we've just gone through.

Stross is very interested in what it means that today's tech billionaires are terrified of being slaughtered by psychotic runaway AIs. Like Ted Chiang and me, Stross thinks that corporations are "slow AIs" that show what happens when we build "machines" designed to optimize for one kind of growth above all moral or ethical considerations, and that these captains of industry are projecting their fears of the businesses they nominally command onto the computers around them.

- Charlie Stross's CCC talk: the future of psychotic AIs can be read in today's sociopathic corporations

The talk is an hour long, and really worth watching the whole thing. I especially loved the setup explaining the process of writing believable near term science fiction. Until recently, 90% of everything that would exist in 10 years already did exist, the next 9% you could extrapolate from physical laws, and only really 1% was stuff you couldn't image. (Stross makes the point that the current ratios are more like 80 / 15 / 5, as evidenced by brexit and related upheavals, which makes his work harder).

It matches well with Clay Shirky's premise in Here Comes Everyone, that first goal of a formal organization is future existence, even if it's stated first goal is something else.

Colbert and Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of my favorite speakers. I've gone on Tyson binges on youtube before, watching one video after another of talks that he's given. You only end up smarter for doing so. And now there is a brand new, long form, talk to add to the list.

Stephen Colbert does a long form, over an hour, interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson on stage. There are bits you've heard other places (like his Titanic story), but lots of new perspectives as well. Treat your brain, and take the time to watch this.

TED vs. the average lecture

Pre-TED, I used to be able to sit through a boring lecture or presentation -- diligently taking notes while being sufficiently nourished by whatever small sliver of new insights or information the speaker could provide. I had patience, fortitude, and a long attention span for the bad presentation. TED has extinguished this valuable skill.

Joshua Kim makes a good point on his blog that TED has skewed our view of lectures.  I've seen this when talking with people about the various local technical lecture series.  There is a different quality that you get from being a participant in a lecture then just an observer, but there appears to be a lot of inertia against going out to a lecture because of what exists on TED.