Friday 6 August, 2021

Armchair sailors

Quote of the Day

”What the mulberry leaf is to the silkworm, the author’s book, treatise, essay, poem is to the critical larvae that feed upon it. It furnishes them with food and clothing.”

  • Oliver Wendell Holmes

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Arvo Pärt | Spiegel im Spiegel


I’ve always thought this would make great background music for hypnotherapy. Watch ze watch, watch ze watch, watch ze….. Zzzzz.

Long Read of the Day

What if military AI is a washout?

Absolutely fascinating and thought-provoking essay by Jack McDonald.

A rough summary (by the author) goes like this:

The argument goes something like this: The socially transformative vision of AI sold by venture capital over the last decade and a bit looks like it is going to wash out as a few niche areas of tremendous improvement, but no self-driving taxi fleets in London. The integration of some AI technologies will enable automation/autonomy in parts of pre-existing military processes (e.g. kill chains), but no robot super-soldier, HAL 9000 strategists, and limited institutional change. This would still have a huge impact on warfare by rendering machine-recognisable objects vulnerable to automated destruction by any variety of autonomous systems. This visibility asymmetry will make it harder to project power and sustain military forces in the field and reduces the capability gap that state militaries seek to maintain relative to non-state actors. Rections to this asymmetry will drive warfare towards urban environments. In short: worry about marginal improvements to what has already been fielded, and ways to constrain proliferation of those platforms, because the future is now (to shamelessly quote Non Phixion).

But the detailed reasoning is riveting. Some of it also applies to ‘peaceful’ uses of so-called ‘AI’.

Thanks to Sheila Hayman (Whom God Preserve) for pointing me to it.

Chart of the Day

What goes into an EV battery

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