Lists & Expeditions

  • This is cool, the Bionic Bird – a super light drone that you could almost mistake for a bird. I’m not sure how long you could expect it to last with such thin wings, but it’s the first reasonably priced robotic bird I’ve ever seen.
  • The Scoville Scale measures the hotness of chili peppers. I ate a ghost chili this week so this scale was especially relevant to me for about 15 minutes. At ~1 million Scoville units, it was very, very hot 🙂
  • OpenAI  is a new nonprofit with a billion dollars pledged to it from big names like Elon Musk and Peter Thiel to help direct the future of artificial intelligence.
  • Also relevant to AI is Crispr, a relatively new way of editing genes. This powerful technology could be used to alter the human genetic code. It obviously comes with many ethical implications. As far as how it relates to AI, it could plausibly be used to enable us to create exceptionally high intelligence humans who would accelerate the path to human level general artificial intelligence which could then lead to a super intelligence along with everything that implies.
  • Noam Chomsky gets some more evidence to back up his highly controversial linguistic theory that says that we come with a genetically built in grammar that all human languages adhere to. The best argument against his theory comes from Daniel Everett and can be found in the very enjoyable, very accessible book Don’t Sleep, There are Snakes.
  • Michel Houellebecq is an interesting guy. I found him in a blog post where containing a video where Houellebecq talks rather eloquently about the famous French critic of American culture, Alexis de Tocqueville. Houellebecq’s book Submission is now available in English and is said to be a good critique of the situation with Islam in the West. I’m looking forward to reading it.
  • There’s a solo expedition across Antarctica going on right now. If Henry Worsley completes his trek, he’ll be the first to do a solo trek across the Southern continent. His short daily audio updates are fun to listen to from the warm comfort of my couch.
  • In a different type of expedition, Ann Morgan read a book from every country in the world and made a list for us to follow along with her. Pretty awesome.
  • And while we’re talking about lists, ever thought of writing sci-fi? Here’s a list of things not to do.