Nice find from Patrick Welker. For those curious, these separators carry through to–and look good in–the iPhone app.
The dream of AI was — and is — to create a machine that is conscious. AI means building a mechanical human being. And this goal, as supposedly rational technological projects go, is deeply strange.
Consider the ramifications of a conscious machine: one that thinks and feels like a human, an ‘electronic brain’ that dreams and ponders its own existence, falls in and out of love, writes sonnets under the moonlight, laughs when happy and cries when sad. What exactly would it be good for? What could be the point of spending billions of dollars and countless hours of precious research time in order to arrive at a replica of oneself? […]
[W]hen it comes to creating conscious simulacra of ourselves, what exactly is our motive? What deep emotions drive us to imagine, and strive to create, machines in our own image? If it is not fear, or want, or curiosity, then what is it? Are we indulging in abject narcissism? Are we being unforgivably vain? Or could it be because of love?
Dear human, please watch this video, and if it doesn’t give you the chills multiple times or cause you to tear up at least once, I implore you to educate yourself.
We aren’t long for this world.
I’ve tried nearly every (non-shit) writing app available for iOS (e.g., Notesy, Byword, iA Writer, Write, WriteRoom, PlainText, Nebulous Notes, Writing, Kit, etc.) and yet I still keep coming back to Elements. If memory serves, it was the very first (non-shit) iOS writing app that talked to Dropbox, and while I tried it on day one, I just couldn’t stand its icon (which was very similar to the image shown here); fortunately, the icon was “fixed” a while ago.
I think it stands out to me amongst a sea of minimalism-as-a-feature writing apps by being especially pretty and enjoyable to use, and it registers the swipe-left-to-right gesture as a “back” action. (This has kind of become the norm, particularly for jumping from a selection back to a list, but still some of these other apps don’t support it.)
It’s one of those apps that just feels good to me. It’s solid, and as far as I can remember, has never shat the bed during a Dropbox sync.
The main thing it’s missing for me is auto-lists; i.e., it doesn’t continue a bulleted or numbered list once I start one. This isn’t a huge deal, but I always find it a bit odd when a Markdown-centric app doesn’t do it.
For the past few weeks I’ve been using the awesome new service/site, Forecast, brought to us by the great folks behind Dark Sky. (Yes, Forecast was released publicly just last week, though some (all?) backers of the Dark Sky Kickstarter campaign got early access a few weeks ago.)
I remember when I first went to the site on my iPhone and was immediately put off by the fact that it was a web app, and, it seemed, there probably wasn’t going to be a native app. I grudgingly “installed” the web app and jumped into it, kind of annoyed. My jaw dropped. It was so pretty, and felt so nice. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe this was a web app. Fortunately, the icon was great too, and within a minute of using the app I had moved it to my 1×24, relegating Check the Weather (which integrates Dark Sky data) to my comically large “Weather” folder.
I can’t say that this web app is the most native-feeling web app out there (because, frankly I don’t regularly use any other web apps on my phone), but man, it has impressed me beyond words.
I think it’s safe to say that us lovers of Dark Sky have been hoping for these guys to eventually offer longer-term forecasting, because it was clear they were onto something with their approach to next-hour predictions, which have proven to be, for me at least, eerily accurate. Clearly, the further out you go, the less accurate your predictions are going to be, but I just get the feeling that if anyone’s capable of succeeding here, it’s these guys, and so far, the (multi-)day projections have been no worse than those provided by the million other weather apps I’ve used.
While the web app is phenomenal, I do still hope they have plans to release a native version, and offer us the option to get rid of that little ad they show on the weekly forecast. (It sounds like an upcoming version of the Dark Sky app will incorporate these longer-range forecasts, and so maybe all of this is moot.)
At rest, the claws of T. robustus, found on the hind feet only, are nestled inside a mass of connective tissue. A chunk of collagen forms a bond between the claw’s sharp point and a small piece of bone at the tip of the frog’s toe.
The other end of the claw is connected to a muscle. Blackburn and his colleagues believe that when the animal is attacked, it contracts this muscle, which pulls the claw downwards. The sharp point then breaks away from the bony tip and cuts through the toe pad, emerging on the underside.
What Darwin and Turing had both discovered, in their different ways, was the existence of competence without comprehension. This inverted the deeply plausible assumption that comprehension is in fact the source of all advanced competence. […]
Why indulge in this “sorta [understands]” talk? Because when we analyze – or synthesize – this stack of ever more competent levels, we need to keep track of two facts about each level: what it is and what it does. What it is can be described in terms of the structural organization of the parts from which it is made – so long as we can assume that the parts function as they are supposed to function. What it does is some (cognitive) function that it (sorta) performs – well enough so that at the next level up, we can make the assumption that we have in our inventory a smarter building block that performs just that function – sorta, good enough to use.
This is the key to breaking the back of the mind-bogglingly complex question of how a mind could ever be composed of material mechanisms. What we might call the sorta operator is, in cognitive science, the parallel of Darwin’s gradualism in evolutionary processes. Before there were bacteria there were sorta bacteria, and before there were mammals there were sorta mammals and before there were dogs there were sorta dogs, and so forth. We need Darwin’s gradualism to explain the huge difference between an ape and an apple, and we need Turing’s gradualism to explain the huge difference between a humanoid robot and hand calculator.
Religion cannot and should not be replaced by atheism. Religion needs to go away and not be replaced by anything. Atheism is not a religion. It’s the absence of religion, and that’s a wonderful thing.
Religion is not morality. Theists ask me, “If there’s no god, what would stop me from raping and killing everyone I want to.” My answer is always: “I, myself, have raped and killed everyone I want to … and the number for both is zero.” Behaving morally because of a hope of reward or a fear of punishment is not morality. Morality is not bribery or threats. Religion is bribery and threats. Humans have morality. We don’t need religion.
Charles Darwin made the intriguing claim that among the naturalists he knew it was consistently the case that the better a researcher got to know a certain species, the more each individual animal’s actions appeared attributable to “reason and the less to unlearnt instinct.” The more you knew, the more you suspected that they were rational. That marks an important pivot, that thought, insofar as it took place in the mind of someone devoted to extremely close and meticulous study of living animals, a mind that had trained itself not to sentimentalize. […]
If we put aside the self-awareness standard—and really, how arbitrary and arrogant is that, to take the attribute of consciousness we happen to possess over all creatures and set it atop the hierarchy, proclaiming it the very definition of consciousness—it becomes possible to say at least the following: the overwhelming tendency of all this scientific work, of its results, has been toward more consciousness. More species having it, and species having more of it than assumed. […]
The animal kingdom is symphonic with mental activity, and of its millions of wavelengths, we’re born able to understand the minutest sliver. The least we can do is have a proper respect for our ignorance.
I’ve been using ReadKit for the past few days and have to say that it’s probably the best experience of its kind on the Mac. While it supports Instapaper, Readability, Pinboard and Delicious, I use it only for Pocket. Pocket’s Mac app is OK, but it leaves a lot to be desired in the customization department (and we all know I like to use Nitti Light whenever possible).
ReadKit devs, if you’re listening, please, for the love of the FSM, give us the option to not have to confirm every deletion. Also, please auto-populate the
subject line of emails with the title of the page I’m sending; it’s maddening that this is left blank.
(For those using something like Little Snitch, you’ll want to be sure to allow outgoing connections to
(api|pixel|config).parsely.com in order for the text sanitization to work properly.)
I finally got off my ass and put together a page of the books I’ve read. The impetus behind this really was just the popularity of the end-of-year posts I write that list the books I read that year (e.g., here’s the list for 2012).
While the list isn’t yet complete, it’s getting there. I think eventually I’ll probably just put the whole thing in alpha order or something, but for now it’s ordered like the end-of-year posts, namely by number of stars out of five (a metric that is based mainly on how much I felt I learned from the book).
As usual, if you see any glaring errors (e.g., broken links, etc.), please let me know. And yes, if you buy a book by clicking on one of the links, I’ll get a small kickback.
If “well-read” means “not missing anything,” then nobody has a chance. If “well-read” means “making a genuine effort to explore thoughtfully,” then yes, we can all be well-read. But what we’ve seen is always going to be a very small cup dipped out of a very big ocean, and turning your back on the ocean to stare into the cup can’t change that.
I still haven’t totally accepted the premise of the article, and fight tooth-and-nail to stay on top of everything I’m interested in, but I’m also not blind to the fact that it’s an impossible, even silly, battle. Even forced specialization and topic-specific apathy can’t help you in this day and age. The best you can do is to be honest with yourself about the things you really enjoy learning about (and dismiss out of hand damn near everything else), become as efficient as possible at digesting information related to those things…and then sleep as little as you can get away with. #YOLO? ;)
The science says no, “but my body, my body’s telling me yessss.” (BTW, if you get that reference, we probably should be BFFs.)
Why and how did humankind become “unusually successful”? And what, to an evolutionary biologist, does “success” mean, if self-destruction is part of the definition? Does that self-destruction include the rest of the biosphere? What are human beings in the grand scheme of things anyway, and where are we headed? What is human nature, if there is such a thing, and how did we acquire it? What does that nature portend for our interactions with the environment? With 7 billion of us crowding the planet, it’s hard to imagine more vital questions. […]
If we follow Gause’s pattern, growth will continue at a delirious speed until we hit the second inflection point. At that time we will have exhausted the resources of the global petri dish, or effectively made the atmosphere toxic with our carbon-dioxide waste, or both. After that, human life will be, briefly, a Hobbesian nightmare, the living overwhelmed by the dead. When the king falls, so do his minions; it is possible that our fall might also take down most mammals and many plants. Possibly sooner, quite likely later, in this scenario, the earth will again be a choir of bacteria, fungi, and insects, as it has been through most of its history.
It would be foolish to expect anything else, Margulis thought. More than that, it would be unnatural.
A great essay by Charles Mann (whose book, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, I really enjoyed). Though few of the ideas and facts in this piece were unknown to me, the way they were braided together and presented gave me a lot to think about. If you’re going to read just one long-form piece this weekend, this maybe should be it.
It’s an approach that uses “uncontrolled airspace” and incremental purchases of cheap, standards compliant pads/drones to roll itself out (very similar to the way the Internet was able to piggy back on the old telephone system). […]
Here’s how it would work in practice:
- My brother left his iphone at my house. I want to get it to him, but he lives 30 mi away (as the crow flies, 50 by driving).
- I put it into a delivery container and put it on a small landing pad outside my home.
- I order a drone on my phone and put the ID of the container into the order (I could just as easily use a drone I buy to do it P2P).
- A drone arrives 10 minutes later, picks up the container automatically.
- After a couple of hops, it arrives at my brother’s landing pad, where it drops off the container and alerts him with an e-mail/text.
- Costs? Probably less than $0.25 per 10 mi. or so. So, about $0.75 in this instance. Time? An hour or so.
See also, Matternet.
My buddy, Brett Terpstra, at his nerdy best.
We grew up with the Internet and on the Internet. This is what makes us different; this is what makes the crucial, although surprising from your point of view, difference: we do not ‘surf’ and the internet to us is not a ‘place’ or ‘virtual space’. The Internet to us is not something external to reality but a part of it: an invisible yet constantly present layer intertwined with the physical environment. We do not use the Internet, we live on the Internet and along it. If we were to tell our bildnungsroman to you, the analog, we could say there was a natural Internet aspect to every single experience that has shaped us. We made friends and enemies online, we prepared cribs for tests online, we planned parties and studying sessions online, we fell in love and broke up online. The Web to us is not a technology which we had to learn and which we managed to get a grip of. The Web is a process, happening continuously and continuously transforming before our eyes; with us and through us. Technologies appear and then dissolve in the peripheries, websites are built, they bloom and then pass away, but the Web continues, because we are the Web; we, communicating with one another in a way that comes naturally to us, more intense and more efficient than ever before in the history of mankind. […]
We have learned to accept that instead of one answer we find many different ones, and out of these we can abstract the most likely version, disregarding the ones which do not seem credible. We select, we filter, we remember, and we are ready to swap the learned information for a new, better one, when it comes along.
The announcement that Google Reader is being shuttered hit me right in the gut (Hitler too). I really don’t even know where to begin with my comments (and frankly I have very little time to write this, so please bear with what likely will be a disorganized, stream-of-consciousness post).
Some of you reading this surely will be asking “WTF is Google Reader?”, but I suspect many of you reacted to the news the same way I did: “Fuck me”.
To be clear, I don’t care about the site per se (though that wasn’t always the case–for example, check out this effusive post from 2007 about switching to Google Reader, for good), I care about the underlying service that’s become the synchronized hub for all of my online news consumption (and that nearly every feed reader on the planet talks to, often exclusively). Most “power” RSS users stopped using the site years ago, after Google gave Reader an API and a slew of OS X and iOS apps came out that offered fantastic experiences that far outpaced what was possible through the web site.
Apart from being a great (and crazy fast) read/unread synchronization tool, the thing that I loved most about Google Reader (the site) was its introduction of mark-as-read-on-scroll. We take it for granted now, but back then it was a revelation, and most of the best-of-breed apps have adopted similar functionality over the years, though many at a snail’s pace (notably, Reeder still doesn’t have this (W-T-F?), but, I stopped using Reeder years ago in favor of Newsify and Mr. Reader, so no matter).
I think what I’m most disappointed about is that Google, as far as I know, never even entertained the idea of charging for the service, much less gave it a trial run. I’d pay good money for the service (and so would developers who have been making handsome livings off of apps that depend on Reader’s API), because it’s something I use, without fail, every single day of my life, and for the most part I really have no complaints. There definitely were some rough patches along its path to dominance, but it’s been pretty damn stable for a long time.
No doubt Twitter has eaten into RSS usage, and has had a role in the declining Reader engagement that Google cites…but not among power users, or, I’d bet, even most users. Twitter never could be an RSS replacement for me–an obsessive completionist–as I like to know exactly what remains in my queue, and I want to be able to jump into the aggregated mess on my own time, and without fear that I’m missing something because 24 hours went by and I wasn’t able to look at it. Plus, how quickly we forget the long fight for full-content feeds to become the norm, and now you’re trying to tell me that a 100-character title is enough? No thanks.
For many, this will be just the blow they need to give up on RSS for good, which sucks (especially for bloggers whose subscriber counts inform what they can charge for ad space), but of course this is great news for apps like the excellent Prismatic, and they know it.
Most major RSS apps will update well before the deadline to handle the slurping of feeds from disparate sources, instead of only from Google Reader (many already do), but the syncing problem likely will persist for some time to come (especially for the best apps), though there are some companies chomping at the bit to pick up where Google will leave off.
Keep in mind too that we’re just a few hours into this news–within a month there will be more services looking to fill this hole than any of us will want to deal with, but deal with it we will because we’re utterly addicted to information. Frankly, I don’t care who ends up winning this (potentially very lucrative) race to mass developer adoption and subsequent synchronization bliss, but I do hope the victor will allow us to pay for the service.
You know, actually, this may end up being the best thing to ever happen to RSS. Time will tell.
The new, multiple devices we deploy throughout our work day allow us to flow between tasks, fluidly, and frequently. Gesture is the first chair designed to support our interactions with today’s technologies. It was inspired by the movement of the human body and created for the way we work today.
Blah, blah, blah…despite the marketing nonsense, this really is the first chair that has piqued my interest since picking up my beloved Herman Miller “Embody” a few years ago. Can’t wait to try it.
Holy shit this is awesome!