Creative robots, transpilers, & carnivorous plants

Can Artificial Intelligence truly be creative? It’s starting to seem like it. Some of the recent GPT-3 demos feel like they’ve moved beyond being derivative and into the realm of actual creativity. Marcus du Sautoy wrote The Creativity Code to explore the question and its existential implications. He calls the test of whether an AI is creative “The Lovelace Test” in reference to the Turing Test and in homage to Ada Lovelace. Check out Michael Harris’ review of the book here.

Languages that compile to Javascript seem to be here to stay. I spent a lot of time in the past writing Coffeescript, but if I were to do it again, I’d probably start with either Elm, here’s a recent write up on it, or Imba. Both make web programs less error prone and ostensibly more fun to write.

No-code platforms and languages are also still going strong. I’m very skeptical about these because in the past they’ve almost never seemed to amount to much and always fizzled out after not too long leaving their users to start over writing code. Even so, some of the more promising ones I’ve come across are Bubble as a general purpose no-code environment, Judo for mobile apps, and Retool for internal tools. Whether they can surpass their predecessors remains to be seen.

Edward de Bono, the famous creative thinker and the man who coined the term “lateral thinking” recently passed away. Here’s a great obit with many of his life’s achievements.

It’s no secret that China has been tough on its own tech companies recently. Why? Here’s an article by Noah Smith arguing that rather than focusing on distracting social media and shopping, China is instead concerned with doing real things in the world. An interesting and very plausible take.

Instead of simply letting local governments throw resources at whatever they think will produce rapid growth (the strategy in the 90s and early 00s), China’s top leaders are now trying to direct the country’s industrial mix toward what they think will serve the nation as a whole.

Recently, here in the Pacific Northwest, a plant was newly discovered to be carnivorous. The western false asphodel captures bugs on its sticky stem rather than in its leaves. Hopefully I’ll find one of these plants out yonder some day.

And, to finish it off, here’s a picture of what’s universally considered by everyone to be The Best Duck on the planet. The Bufflehead.

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