Thursday 30 December, 2021

Home delivery, Venice style

We saw this one morning in pre-pandemic times and it seemed slightly weird. No longer.

Quote of the Day

”When all these layers of legal entitlements, technical rules, and criminal prohibitions are exposed, it is clear that the notion of market efficiency is pure fiction. The idea of a self-regulated market is preposterous. It would be like a competitive sporting event without a referee: it would not work, nor has it ever worked.”

  • Bernard Harcourt, writing in his book, The Illusion of Free Markets, on how essential the state is in providing the environment in which markets can operate.

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Bob Dylan | Mr. Tambourine Man (Live at the Newport Folk Festival. 1964)


A vintage recording.

Long Read of the Day

America’s Divisions May Have Passed the Tipping Point

Gloomy view from Reason Magazine.

Now researchers say polarization can reach a “tipping point” at which external threats, such as pandemics, no longer drive people together but instead become further sources of strife that spiral out of control.”

A Zuckerbot on Facebook’s bad year

Since the Facebook/Meta boss doesn’t do uncontrolled interviews these days, the Guardian fell back on a last resort: to build a Zuckerbot and interview it instead. They worked with Botnik Studios to create a predictive keyboard trained on a database of the past two years of Zuckerberg’s public statements. Guardian journalists provided the questions; Botnik used the predictive keyboard to generate the answers.

It’s kind-of funny, but only because Zuckerberg in person already seems robotic.

A code-writing AI

GPT3 is a machine-learning system created by the Open AI research centre that can write passable, if sometimes eccentric, prose without knowing the first thing about anything. One of the unexpected — and extraordinary — outcomes of its development was the discovery that it could sometimes also write computer programs that worked.

This 30-minute video tells the story. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re interested in what machine learning can achieve it’s worth the time. It has a pretty slow start, but in the end it’ll leave you feeling thoughtful.

It left me thinking: “Hey I could find uses for that!” And it has an API.

My commonplace booklet

88MPH: The Story of the DeLorean Time Machine | Full Documentary Link

A free holiday movie if you’re tired of Netflix.

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