Links - March 15, 2017
- Voice and the uncanny valley of AI Benedict Evans
Like I said last time Evans wrote about this, “voice interfaces seem to be adding more friction than they take away.” Changing people’s habits is hard. I constantly prompt my Echo by saying “Hey Siri,” and find myself thinking of ways to phrase my questions to make them intelligible by the machines. Once or twice a week I get developer emails about “What’s New With Alexa,” but after many months my Echo only acts as a gateway to Spotify, and a party trick whenever there are guests. Voice might be the new platform, but it is nowhere near.
- What Do Economists Actually Know? Russ Roberts - NewCo Shift
The issue with modeling of any kind is that there are no alternative realities to compare against. We can only measure what we see, and by definition there are no counterfactuals, nor what-ifs. Making policy decisions under this state of affairs is hard, and the only thing we can do about it is internalize this limitation, knowing that we could be very wrong. Statistical analysis is a tool, and like any other tool, it is succeptible to operator error.
- If There Are an Infinite Number of Parallel Universes, Some Must Be Terrible Places Dean Zimmerman - Nautilus
I disagree with the author’s position, but thinking of when the problem of evil meets 21st century math and science is fascinating.
- Patagonia and The North Face: saving the world – one puffer jacket at a time Marisa Meltzer - The Guardian
Good reads on the history of large well-known retailers are not usual, as most stories in the genre end up with a strong PR flavor. This article, by virtue of showing the origin stories of two seemingly rival companies at once, achieves a good balance.
- Improving U.S. Healthcare and Coverage Stephen Cecchetti & Kermit Schoenholtz - Money, Banking and Financial Markets
Americans are exceptional in their very own ways. This whole healthcare story is a fiasco, and I am amazed that the American people have allowed it to go this long.
- White supremacism is not nationalism Noah Smith - Noahpinion
I am reading Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities and Noah’s arguments in this blog post fit right into the framework that Anderson proposes at the beginning of his book. Nations are made up. Expect a blog post about this soon.
- Triple Pendulum CHAOS! Jake VanDerPlas - Pythonic Perambulations
When I look at demos like these, I wish I had kept learning about differential equations after sophomore year of college. Complexity is awesome, and being able to model these crazy patterns with only a few lines of code would be great.
- Update: CRISPR Radiolab
The cutting edge of biological research gets more interesting, and more scary, the more I learn about it. Researchers are uncovering really powerful building blocks, but we have very little understanding of the complex relationships in the whole system. The ethical considerations discussed in the last part of this episode are especially worth listening to.
- Hacking The iPhone For Fun, Profit, And Maybe Espionage Planet Money
Something I will never understand is how someone can enjoy poring over low level buffer management for hours to find an overflow condition or some obscure vulnerability. Luckily some people like watching water boil with their white hats on, and do it for the greater good, too.
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