Summary of “How Automation Will Change Work, Purpose, and Meaning”

The vast majority of humans throughout history worked because they had to.
Many found comfort, value, and meaning in their efforts, but some defined work as a necessity to be avoided if possible.
The promise of AI and automation raises new questions about the role of work in our lives.
Most of us will remain focused for decades to come on activities of physical or financial production, but as technology provides services and goods at ever-lower cost, human beings will be compelled to discover new roles – roles that aren’t necessarily tied to how we conceive of work today.
As we unmoor from traditional pursuits, how will we avoid a nihilistic, Huxlian future? How will we define our own sense of purpose, meaning, and value?
We can explore this question through the work of philosopher, historian, and journalist Hannah Arendt, who in the 1950s designed a far-reaching framework for understanding all of human activity.
In The Human Condition, a beautiful, challenging, profound work, Arendt describes three levels of what she defines, after the Greeks, as the Vita Activa.
Labor generates metabolic necessities – the inputs, such as food, that sustain human life.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Chess’s New Best Player Is A Fearless, Swashbuckling Algorithm”

It won the 2016 Top Chess Engine Championship, the premier computer tournament, and no human player who has ever lived would stand a chance against it in a match.
You could make an argument that that game, and the other games between the two computers, were some of the strongest contests of chess, over hundreds of years and billions of games, ever played.
“I saw some amazing chess, but I also know we did not get the best possible,” Robert Hess, an American grandmaster, told me.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, the top French player, said it was “Worth easily seven figures.” Wesley So, the U.S. national champion, joked that he’d call Rex Sinquefield, the wealthy financier and chess philanthropist, to see how much he’d pony up.
In some aesthetic ways AlphaZero represents a computer shift toward the human approach to chess.
AlphaZero’s style of play – relentless aggression – was thought to be “Refuted” by stodgy engines like Stockfish, leading to the careful and draw-prone style that currently dominates the top ranks of competitive chess.
Maybe it’s more illustrative to say that AlphaZero played like neither a human nor a computer, but like an alien – some sort of chess intelligence which we can barely fathom.
There is a single right and best way to begin a chess game.

The orginal article.

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Just a year after DeepMind’s AlphaGo became the first artificial intelligence to defeat a grandmaster at the game of Go, a souped-up version of the program, dubbed AlphaGo Zero, taught itself how to dominate the ancient board game from scratch.
Using reinforcement learning, the system acquired literally thousands of years of human Go knowledge after just three days of playing against itself, and without any external help.
In a tournament that pitted AI against AI, AlphaGo Zero defeated the regular AlphaGo by a whopping 100 games to 0, signifying a major advance in the field.
In May 2017, and in a related development, AlphaGo beat the world’s best human Go player, 19-year-old Ke Jie, in a best-of-three mini-tournament.
The lambs, which were at the equivalent of the 23 to 24 week gestation stage of human preemies when they entered the bags, developed normally.
The breakthrough offers a viable and potentially superior way of bringing premature babies to term, but it could still be decades before we see the technology applied to humans.
Scientists have been tinkering with neural interface technologies for years, using implanted chips to connect the brains of various lab animals to computers.
In March, Elon Musk announced Neuralink, a startup which aims to connect human brains to computers.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How evolutionary biology makes everyone an existentialist”

To make the journey from evolutionary biology to existentialism, let’s start with one of the oldest and most profound of philosophical questions: how do we decide what is right or wrong, good or bad? Many philosophers have warned that no facts about nature can ever provide grounds for claims about values.
In A Treatise of Human Nature, David Hume made a compelling argument that an unbridgeable gap separates fact from value, ‘is’ from ‘ought’.
In the second, it is a name for everything that is of itself, without human intervention while human action cannot help conforming to nature in one meaning of the term, the very aim and object of action is to alter and improve nature in the other meaning.
Laws of one kind are about the facts of nature; laws of the other kind are about how we should change those facts.
Even now, we are likely to judge that nature sometimes makes ‘mistakes’.
It is in what nature makes possible, not in what it necessitates, that we should look for the answer to the question about what we should be or do.
What biology teaches us about human nature is that, in a very real sense, there is no such thing as human nature.
The only coherent attitude to that fact is that of the existentialist: if there is any guidance to be found in nature, it is that there is nothing there to follow.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Bitcoin Boom: In Code We Trust”

You don’t need brilliant financial analysis skills to notice that Bitcoin is in a bubble.
The conventional wisdom had been that illegal and illicit transactions – buying drugs or transferring money out of Argentina – accounted for much of Bitcoin’s value.
As Bitcoin continues to grow, there’s reason to think something deeper and more important is going on.
Bitcoin’s rise may reflect, for better or worse, a monumental transfer of social trust: away from human institutions backed by government and to systems reliant on well-tested computer code.
Bitcoin may be in a bubble, but not all bubbles are created equal.
What gives the Bitcoin bubble significance is that, like ’90s tech, it is part of something much larger than itself.
In this respect, finance is actually behind: Where we no longer feel we can trust people, we let computer code take over.
To a computer programmer, the financial system still looks a lot like untested code with weak debugging that puts way too much faith in the idea that humans will behave properly.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Yacob and Amo: Africa’s precursors to Locke, Hume and Kant”

Yacob argued with her master, who did not think a servant woman was equal to an educated man, but Yacob prevailed.
Yacob cherished his wife’s intelligence, and he stressed their mutual and individualistic love for one another: ‘Since she loved me so, I took the decision in my heart to please her as much as I could, and I do not think there is another marriage which is so full of love and blessed as ours.
Some months after reading the work of Yacob, I finally got hold of another rare book this summer: a translation of the collected writings of the philosopher Anton Amo, who was born and died in Guinea, today’s Ghana.
Did Amo hold Europe’s first legal disputation against slavery? We can at least see an enlightened argument for universal suffrage, like the one Yacob had advanced 100 years earlier.
The examples of Yacob and Amo make it necessary to rethink the Age of Reason.
In Amo’s most thorough work, The Art of Philosophising Soberly and Accurately, he seems to anticipate the later Enlightenment thinker Kant.
The examples of these two Enlightenment philosophers, Yacob and Amo, might make it necessary to rethink the Age of Reason in the disciplines of philosophy and history of ideas.
In a similar vein, one might wonder: will Yacob and Amo also one day be elevated to the position they deserve among the philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment?

The orginal article.

Summary of “Will Robots Take Our Children’s Jobs?”

Any legal job that involves lots of mundane document review is vulnerable.
Then there is Wall Street, where robots are already doing their best to shove Gordon Gekko out of his corner office.
Who knows what the jobs marketplace might look like by then.
Artificial intelligence is different, said Martin Ford, the author of “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future.” Machine learning does not just give us new machines to replace old machines, pushing human workers from one industry to another.
Since Mr. Ford’s book sent me down this rabbit hole in the first place, I reached out to him to see if he was concerned about all this for his own children: Tristan, 22, Colin, 17, and Elaine, 10.He said the most vulnerable jobs in the robot economy are those involving predictable, repetitive tasks, however much training they require.
“A lot of knowledge-based jobs are really routine – sitting in front of a computer and cranking out the same application over and over, whether it is a report or some kind of quantitative analysis,” he said.
So do jobs emphasizing empathy and interpersonal communication.
In their vision of a post-A.I. world without traditional jobs, everyone will receive a minimum weekly or monthly stipend.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why the UN is investigating extreme poverty in America, the world’s richest nation”

The United Nations monitor on extreme poverty and human rights has embarked on a coast-to-coast tour of the US to hold the world’s richest nation – and its president – to account for the hardships endured by America’s most vulnerable citizens.
The UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, is a feisty Australian and New York University law professor who has a fearsome track record of holding power to account.
Now Alston has set off on his sixth, and arguably most sensitive, visit as UN monitor on extreme poverty since he took up the position in June 2014.
The rapporteur said he intended to focus on the detrimental effects of poverty on the civil and political rights of Americans, “Given the United States’ consistent emphasis on the importance it attaches to these rights in its foreign policy, and given that it has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
“The US has an extraordinary ability to naturalize and accept the extreme poverty that exists even in the context of such extreme wealth,” he said.
The UN poverty tour falls at a singularly tense moment for the US. In its 2016 state of the nation review, the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality placed the US rank at the bottom of the league table of 10 well-off countries, in terms of the extent of its income and wealth inequality.
To some extent, Trump’s focus on “Making America great again” – a political jingo that in itself contains an element of criticism of the state of the nation – chimes with the UN’s concern about extreme poverty.
The US poses an especially challenging subject for the UN special rapporteur because unlike all other industrialized nations, it fails to recognize fundamental social and economic rights such as the right to healthcare, a roof over your head or food to keep hunger at bay.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why a leading political theorist thinks civilization is overrated”

Is civilization good for us? Has it made us any happier?
For Scott, the price of civilization – for the individual and the environment – has been higher than we think.
Sean Illing Has civilization been good for humanity?
The truth is that staying in one place, which is what civilization more or less forced us to do, wasn’t all that healthy for us, and our human ancestors resisted [it] strongly for a very long time.
Sean Illing So the birth of agriculture, which effectively laid the foundation for modern civilization, was not welcomed by most humans at the time.
James Scott Even today, there is this idea that life with civilization is easier and affords more leisure, but hunters and gatherers spend only about 50 percent of their time producing or searching for what they needed to survive.
Sean Illing What have the demands of modern civilization done to the individual? We enjoy more abundance and greater comfort, but at the same time many of us are less happy, less free, and more cut off from our natural environment.
Sean Illing You’re not as critical of modern civilization as I seem to be, though we’re both in agreement that it’s better to be alive now than 1,000 years ago, but I wonder if you think the world we’ve built is sustainable.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Transhumanism And The Future Of Humanity: 7 Ways The World Will Change By 2030”

Companies today are strategizing about future investments and technologies such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, or growth around new business models.
The coming years will usher in a number of body augmentation capabilities that will enable humans to be smarter, stronger, and more capable than we are today.
In the future, we can expect the arrival of contact lenses that can take pictures or video, universal language translator earbuds that allow us to communicate anywhere in the world, and exosuits that increase physical strength.
These body augmentation capabilities will give rise to humans that are more resilient, optimized and continually monitored.
At the same time, augmented bodies will usher in risks such as espionage potential via contact lens camera hacks, or even more worryingly, risk of a stratified human race based on those who can afford augmentations and those who cannot.
In addition to applying these techniques to employees and citizens, it is easy to see how they will be increasingly be applied to consumers to drive more frequent and volume-driven purchases.
We already see an advanced degree of personalization in marketing practices, but this will be extended in the future to touch virtually all aspects of our lives.
Are you ready to be augmented into a super human? Frost & Sullivan explores these themes and many others in detail in a recently published study, “Transhumanism: How humans will think, behave, experience, and perform in the future, and the implications to businesses.” If you would like to explore this topic in more detail, you can access the study here.

The orginal article.