The Technium

Recent Readings 14

The emergence of YouTube sites that provide virtual friendship, companionship, and cater to loneliness. Link.

The Economist interviewed an AI to ask it about the future of AI. It gave coherent answers. But they weren’t what the AI thought. The answers it gave were what the AI thought the internet thought. Still, impressive. Link

Science has not destroyed religion. Link.

Important uncertainty: the untested legality of streaming video games, particularly for profit (see Twitch). Link.

Innovation and discoveries are becoming more expensive because the easy ones have already been found. Future innovations will cost more. Link

Pure Gibsonian future: Red state American farmers hacking their tractors with Ukrainian pirateware. Link

Universal translation by AI will increase global prosperity. When eBay improved its translation functions it increased their commerce by 11 percent. Imagine what prosperity will come from earbuds that give instant, free, real time language translation to all workers. Link.

Bill Gibson had some interesting things to say in this interview about his new book Agency.

“I have a nagging suspicion that evolution (a wholly random process, though too few of us understand that) has left most of us unable to grasp the idea of an actual apocalypse being possibly of several centuries’ duration. The jackpot began one or two hundred years ago, it seems to me. I myself can dimly recall a world before utterly ubiquitous injection-molded plastics. Toys were of metal, wood, rubber. Styrene was as exotic as Gore-tex, briefly. I’m yet to discover any record of a culture whose imagined apocalypse was a matter of centuries. I doubt anyone has ever stood out on a street corner wearing a sandwich board reading, “THE WORLD IS COMING TO AN END IN A FEW HUNDRED YEARS.” Even before we became as aware as some of us now are of climate change, and of the fact that our species has inadvertently caused it, we seemed to be losing our sense of a capital-F Future. Few phrases were as common throughout the 20th century as “the 21st century,” yet how often do we see “the 22nd century”? Effectively, never.”


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