Thursday, October 25th, 2018


The Moral Compass

When self-driving cars take over, they're going to have to make some very human decisions. And we're going to have to code those morals into the software. How do we prioritize one life over another? As a start, "millions of people in 233 countries weighed in on whose lives self-driving cars should prioritize, revealing how much ethics diverge across cultures." The scenarios were simple, but the choices were difficult. "Should a self-driving car prioritize humans over pets, passengers over pedestrians, more lives over fewer, women over men, young over old, fit over sickly, higher social status over lower, law-abiders over law-benders?" MIT Tech Review: A global ethics study aims to help AI solve the self-driving trolley problem. Key opinions varied by country. (You may want to consider spending your sunset years in the land of the rising sun...)

+ From Nature, here's a more complete write-up of this very interesting set of issues: The Moral Machine Experiment. This is one of those times I really wish I had learned how to code. I have a feeling self-driving cars will be designed to swerve into a crowd of humanities majors to save one engineer...


AI, AI, Oh…

"At the dawn of a new stage in the digital revolution, the world's two most powerful nations are rapidly retreating into positions of competitive isolation, like players across a Go board. And what's at stake is not just the technological dominance of the United States. At a moment of great anxiety about the state of modern liberal democracy, AI in China appears to be an incredibly powerful enabler of authoritarian rule. Is the arc of the digital revolution bending toward tyranny, and is there any way to stop it?" In Wired, Nicholas Thompson and Ian Bremmer take a very interesting look into the AI race -- and the broader questions of who all this tech will really benefit. The Ai Cold War That Could Doom Us All.


Side Effects

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders: "Look, the President's condemned violence in all forms … but certainly feels that everyone has a role to play." The "many sides" philosophy rears its ugly head as additional bomb packages addressed to Joe Biden and Robert DeNiro are intercepted. Here's the latest on the mailed bombs and the search for the culprit. (I'll admit that all sides need to tone down the rhetoric. The side that attacks the media as enemies of the people, the side that encourages rabid imbeciles to chant lock her up, the side that refuses to condemn Nazis, the side that said "Second Amendment people" maybe would do something about Hillary if she got elected... Oh wait. That's all one side...)


Travel Insurance

"It is reasonable for Americans to have security concerns about immigration. But as a scholar of forced migration, I believe it's also important to consider why migrants travel in groups: their own safety." (They're not coming to get you. They're trying to avoid being raped or killed.) Karen Jacobsen: Migrants travel in groups for a simple reason.

+ For a look at what it's like on these trips, check out The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail by Oscar Martinez.

+ WaPo: Pentagon plans to dispatch 800 more troops to U.S.-Mexico border in response to migrant caravan.


Hoop Reams

"I hear people talking ... they ask about the money, but they don't ask about my momma. They don't ask me where I came from, and all the things I've seen. I done it all. I made it and spent it. Went from The Pink Slip to the L'Ermitage. I rode in all them limos. I lived a life, boy." In The Player's Tribune, a former NBA star proves he can write as well as he could dunk. Man, the pacing on this thing is epic. What the Hell Happened to Darius Miles?


Class Struggle

"No matter what my classmates grew up to be—a congressman, like Jim Himes; a Tony Award–winning director, like Diane Paulus; an astronaut, like Stephanie Wilson—at the end of the day, most of our conversations at the various parties and panel discussions throughout the weekend centered on a desire for love, comfort, intellectual stimulation, decent leaders, a sustainable environment, friendship, and stability." Deborah Copaken in The Atlantic: What I Learned About Life at My 30th College Reunion.


Party Line

"When President Trump calls old friends on one of his iPhones to gossip, gripe or solicit their latest take on how he is doing, American intelligence reports indicate that Chinese spies are often listening — and putting to use invaluable insights into how to best work the president and affect administration policy." The NYT: When Trump Phones Friends, the Chinese and the Russians Listen and Learn. (867-530Whine)


Life Goes On

"The other thing that has changed is that the field of senescence—and the recognition that senescent cells can be such drivers of aging—has finally gained acceptance. Whether those drugs will work in people is still an open question. But the first human trials are under way right now." Anti-aging pioneer Judith Campisi discusses the increasingly promising search for drugs that will keep us young. (For now, I'll have to settle for drugs that just make me act immature...)


Be a Pepper

"Their sauces aren't the hottest, per the Scoville scale, but they boast the prideful and ritualistic flavors of Mexico‘s matriarchy (in fact, the woman adorning their bottles is an abuelita in the founding family, known fondly as La Chila). The bottling and selling of this sauce is the translation of generational, rooted-in-heritage methods, many of which were passed down from La Chila." A look inside Cholula's Chapala Factory. (We recently reached two spice-related milestones in my house. First, my 12 year-old son discovered and now loves Cholula. Second, our new kitten ate a decent-sized bowl of Hot Cheetos and showed no signs of distress other than a couple reddish paws...)


Bottom of the News

"Vehicles and drivers have changed dramatically, but the model of dummy used in many government-required crash tests has been around for four decades. The industry sells a mere 200 to 250 dummies in a decent year." Bloomberg: Crash-Test Dummies Are Getting Fatter Because We Are, Too.

+ Students make world's first brick out of human urine. (This is a significant advance from the pee tape.)

+ Just Steph hitting eleven threes.

+ The Cotton Bureau hosted store for NextDraft shirts, hats, and stickers just got a major upgrade. It now takes Apple Pay. It's easier than ever to dress for success!