Friday, December 25, 2015

25/12/15: WLASZE: Weekend Links on Arts, Sciences and Zero Economics

Merry Christmas to all! And in spirit of the holiday, time to revive my WLASZE: Weekend Links on Arts, Sciences and Zero Economics postings that wilted away under the snowstorm of work and minutiae, but deserve to be reinstated in 2016.

[Fortunately for WLASZE and unfortunately for die harder economics readers of the blog, I suspect my work commitments in 2016 will be a little more balanced to allow for this...]

Let's start with Artificial Intelligence - folks at ArsTechnica are running an excellent essay, debunking some of the AI myths. Read it here. The list is pretty much on the money:

  • Is AI about machines that can think (in human intelligence sense)? Answer: predictably No.  
  • Is AI capable of outstripping human ethics? Answer: not necessarily.
  • Will AI be a threat to humanity? Answer: not any time soon.
  • Can the AI system acquire sudden singularity? Answer: sort of too far away and doubtful even then.
The topic is hugely important, extremely exciting and virtually open-ended. Perhaps of interest, I wrote back in 2005 about the non-linearity and discontinuity of our intelligence as a 'unique' identifier of humanity. The working paper on this (I have not revisited it since 2005) is still available here.

And to top the topic up, here is a link on advances in robotics over the grand year of 2015: The title says it all... "dumb robots"... or does it?..

Update: another thought-provoking essay - via QZ - on the topic of AI and its perceived dangers. A quote summarising the story:
"Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking are right: AI is dangerous. But they are dangerously wrong about why. I see two fairly likely futures:

  • Future one: AI destroys itself, humanity, and most or all life on earth, probably a lot sooner than within 1000 years.
  • Future two: Humanity radically restructures its institutions to empower individuals, probably via trans-humanist modification that effectively merges us with AI. We go to the stars."
Personally, I am not sure which future will emerge, but I am sure that there is only one future in which we - humans - can have a stable, liberty-based society. And it is the second one. Hence my concerns - expressed in public speeches and blog posts - with the effects of technological innovation and the emergence of the Gig-Economy on the fabric of our socio-economic interactions.

At any rate... that is a cool dystopian pic from QZ

Dangers of AI or not, I do hope we sort out architecture before robots either consume or empower us...

On the lighter side, or may be on a brighter side - for the art cannot really be considered a lighter side - Saatchi Art are running their Best of 2015 online show here: that is worth running through. It is loaded with some younger and excitingly fresher works than make traditional art shows. 

Like Jonas Fisch's vibrantly rough, Gears of Power 

All the way to the hyper-expressionist realism of Tom Pazderka, here is an example of his Elegies to Failed Revolutions, Right Wing Rock'n'Roll 

And for that Christmas spirit in us, by Joseph Brodsky, translated by Derek Walcott (for a double-Nobel take):

The air—fierce frost and pine-boughs.

We’ll cram ourselves in thick clothes,

stumbling in drifts till we’re weary—

better a reindeer than a dromedary.

In the North if faith does not fail

God appears as the warden of a jail

where the kicks in our ribs were rough

but what you hear is “They didn’t get enough.”

In the South the white stuff’s a rare sight,

they love Christ who was also in flight,

desert-born, sand and straw his welcome,

he died, so they say, far from home.

So today, commemorate with wine and bread,

a life with just the sky’s roof overhead

because up there a man escapes

the arresting earth—plus there’s more space.

Merry Christmas to all!

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