Just how's this Singularity thing gonna work, anyways?#

[W]e have to evolve artificial intelligence by planting computer programs in a simulated environment and selecting the smartest bots. Basically, set up the Matrix, but with only artificial inhabitants. The process may take a while, but he stressed that human intelligence serves as proof of concept.

More importantly, Stuart, where can I get one of those shirts?! (Seriously, email/Twitter me. I checked the SIAI site, but came up empty.)

UPDATE: Zazzle's got 'em.

Finding the fear and love of God inside the brain#

The sum total of their results suggests that religious belief may have arisen as a natural extension of evolutionary advances in social cognition and behavior. Over time, the changes in brain volume that enabled humans to show empathy towards others may have also made it possible for some to develop intimate personal relationships with a supernatural entity, thus laying the foundation for the emergence of religion.

Star Wars: Uncut#

You and 472 other people have the chance to recreate Star Wars: A New Hope. Below is the entire movie split up into 15 second clips. Click on one of the scenes to claim it, film it, and upload it. When we're all done, we'll stitch it all together and watch the magic happen.

What a neat idea. It'll be nothing if not entertaining.

Kindle trial at Princeton unsuccessful#

This should surprise no one. I like my Kindle(s) probably more than anyone, but I just can't imagine using it for any serious, university-level academic effort. To put it simply, at this point the Kindle is good for one thing, and one thing only: reading words in a linear fashion. (Oh, and it's great for that one thing.) I hope that never changes.

Apple offer letter, unboxed and reviewed#

Tab separators along the tops of the section allow me to quickly find the files that I need. If you're not familiar with paper technology, this is not unlike the "tab" widgets you might see along the top of a browser window such as Firefox and Safari. They work by placing your finger on top of the desired "tab" and lightly pulling. Perfectly intuitive.

Good stuff.

Do Americans have bad taste?#

(Yes, without question.) Be sure to check out the comments on this one; there's a very interesting discussion going on over there.

Hard Graft's 2UNFOLD leather laptop bag#

I've had my eye on this beautiful bag ever since they started teasing it earlier this year. Seriously, that color? Wow! Love. It. (I was a fan of the original brown leather version they started selling late last year, but this new color has really put me over the edge.)

The only reason I haven't ordered one already is because I currently have a 15" MacBook pro, which will fit in the bag only vertically, and that's just not how I want the bag to function (i.e., I want to use it like this). That said, I'm thinking very seriously about ordering one now (they're limited edition!) and putting it away until the next revision of the 13" MBP, because if that machine closely approximates or exceeds the power of the current 15", then I'm definitely making the transition.

(I've bought a few items from Hard Graft over the years, even before they were known as Hard Graft (they used to go by "Working Class Heroes"), and can say without hesitation that their stuff is top-notch.)

The eight days of the financial crisis#

A fantastically long (60 pages on my Kindle DX at the default page width and font!) and wonderfully non-partisan account of the scramble surrounding those eight critical days last September when the U.S. financial system nearly collapsed entirely.

The full article is by subscription only, but if you quickly sign up for the free preview of their digital edition, you should receive the current issue (which contains this article) for free.

Can you recommend an audiologist in Silicon Valley?

September 14, 2009

After having owned, over the past decade or so, nearly every damn pair of headphones/earphones on the market, I've finally decided to bite the bullet and get a pair of custom in-ear monitors. I've done more research on the matter than I'll ever admit, but one thing I can't seem to decide on is an audiologist.

As you may know, custom earphones require that the manufacturer have high-viscosity silicone molds of each of your ears, which means you have to find an audiologist to create your impressions. The only thing most people seem to agree on regarding audiologists is that they aren't all the same, and if they don't get your impressions right the first time, it's very likely that your custom monitors won't fit correctly and you'll have to go through the whole process again (i.e., create new molds, send molds to manufacturer, wait…, etc.).

In an effort to keep me out of that loop, I'd appreciate hearing from you (email/Twitter) if you've had a good experience in Silicon Valley with respect to the procedure discussed above (and specifically with respect to an "open-mouth impression, full shell with a CIC canal").

(For those wondering, I've settled on JH Audio's JH 13 Pro in-ear monitors. Yes, they are very expensive, but as far as I'm concerned it's a small price to pay for what arguably are the best cans on the planet. Further, this should temper for a while my propensity to "upgrade," etc.)