“…but computing technology marches steadily forward.”

Great post by Chris Dixon on Medium. The whole thing is worth reading, but a few highlights.

We are now entering an era in which processors and sensors are getting so small and cheap that there will be many more computers than there are people.

There are two reasons for this. One is the steady progress of the semiconductor industry over the past 50 years (Moore’s law). The second is what Chris Anderson calls “the peace dividend of the smartphone war”: the runaway success of smartphones led to massive investments in processors and sensors. If you disassemble a modern drone, VR headset, or IoT devices, you’ll find mostly smartphone components.

That phrase, “the peace dividend of the smartphone war”. Brilliant.

That component costs will essentially drop to zero, is something that is regularly discussed on ATP. It’s important, due  to the availability and affordability of computer hardware to every person on this planet, but also in the relatively minimal financial risk to individuals and companies piloting new technology applications. A few smartphone components, a 3D printer and you’re away.

It’s nice to think that a brutal fight in the open market incubates the innovation.

Dixon goes on

But perhaps the most exciting software breakthroughs are happening in artificial intelligence (AI). AI has a long history of hype and disappointment. Alan Turing himself predicted that machines would be able to successfully imitate humans by the year 2000. However, there are good reasons to think that AI might now finally be entering a golden age.

I find it fascinating how predictions for the future so rarely pan out. Turing predicted this for the year 2000 and if we, as a culture, had treated Turing the way he deserved, perhaps we would have been that much further ahead? As one of my favourite lecturers put it once,

If Archimedes’ early calculus breakthroughs had been formalised, we could have watched the Battle of Hastings (1066) on television.

Suffice to say, as a civilisation, we’re going to miss some stuff, not appreciate some slice of genius. But hopefully, on the whole we treat people better, recognise greatness and ignore the irrelevant better than ever.

by Simon C Roberts

The “Over-localisation” in Inside Out

Inside Out is my favourite film by Pixar, and **whispers** quite possibly, my favourite film.

However, as is my wont, I had a quibble with it when I saw it in the UK.

The scene around the dinner table is one of my favourites, however I feel that there was a mis-step with showing the inside of Dad’s head showing him watching a football match inside his mind. In the rest of the movie, he is shown to be (ice) hockey mad and this even has major branches that reach into the main narrative. So many of Riley’s memories are based around hockey, that to switch sports in this instance feels like… an “over-localisation”. It makes the film less real.

Take a look at the US trailer with the hockey :

And the UK version with our beloved soccer-ball :

I appreciate the lengths that Pixar go to to localise their stories and fit cultural issues.

Did you know that they switched out the broccoli for green bell peppers in Japan? Apparently kids in Japan love broccoli!?

It’s this kind of care that makes them so damn great. However, in this instance, perhaps it went too far.

by Simon C Roberts

Apple Pay

Interesting. A few years ago, this would definitely have people’s fingers and thumbs in it interacting with the screen.

Apple endorsing other brands is also new, and perhaps it’s just me but all of the products/bags look like dodgy CGI. Perhaps a deliberate affordance to being in Ive’s white world.

Still. Very different from how things used to be.

AAaaah, lovely nostalgia.

by Simon C Roberts

Study finds trauma passed on to children’s genes

Interesting findings from Rachel Yehuda at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York

The impact of Holocaust survival on the next generation has been investigated for years – the challenge has been to show intergenerational effects are not just transmitted by social influences from the parents or regular genetic inheritance, said Marcus Pembrey, emeritus professor of paediatric genetics at University College London.

“Yehuda’s paper makes some useful progress. What we’re getting here is the very beginnings of a understanding of how one generation responds to the experiences of the previous generation. It’s fine-tuning the way your genes respond to the world.”

Most of this goes over my head, but like many things in nature, intuition leads you to some version of this adapting genetic footprint.

by Simon C Roberts

“It’s not climate change, it’s everything change.”

Writer Margaret Atwood revisits her 2009 post six years on.

J. A. Hampton/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Keep reading to the end, else you’ll find yourself miserable. A lot in here but here are a few bits and pieces :

Those living within an energy system, says Lord, may disapprove of certain features, but they can’t question the system itself. Within the culture of slavery, which lasted at least 5,000 years, nobody wanted to be a slave, but nobody said slavery should be abolished, because what else could keep things going?

and

There are many smart people applying themselves to these problems, and many new technologies emerging. On my desk right now is a list of 15 of them. Some take carbon directly out of the air and turn it into other materials, such as cement. Others capture carbon by regenerating degraded tropical rainforests — a fast and cheap method — or sequestering carbon in the soil by means of biochar, which has the added benefit of increasing soil fertility. Some use algae, which can also be used to make biofuel. One makes a carbon-sequestering asphalt. Carbon has been recycled ever since plant life emerged on earth; these technologies and enterprises are enhancing that process.

Sounds pretty cool. Creativity is vital in the green energy industry.

by Simon C Roberts