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Reading List - organized violence, human rights, autonomous vehicles

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Human rights and the West.

The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organised violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.Ismael Lagardienne

Undocumented workers in New Jersey:

They commit no crime by simply being here without “proper papers”; they are like jaywalkers who walked across the borderOpinion: Complex Truths Versus Simple Thinking About the Undocumented

Will autonomous vehicles save lives or kill us all?

The problem with a long-tailed phenomenon is that the longer we looked at it, the less we understood what to expect. The more we sampled, the bigger the average turned out to be. Why should we think that stopping at 1 billion samples will be enough?

To see these numbers in more vivid terms, imagine that we are considering using some new technology that appears to be quite beneficial. The technology is being considered to combat some problem that kills about 36,000 people per year. (This is the number of traffic-related deaths in the United States in 2012.) We cannot calculate exactly how many people will die once the new technology is introduced, but we can perform some simulations and see how they come out. Suppose that each number sampled above corresponds to the number of people who will die in one year with the technology in place (in one run of the simulation). The big question here is: Should the new technology be introduced?

According to the sampling above, most of the time, we would get well below 100 deaths per year with the new technology, which would be phenomenally better than the current 36,000. In fact, the simulations show that 99.9 percent of the time, we would get well below 10,000 deaths. So that looks terrific. Unfortunately, the simulations also show us that there is a one-in-a-thousand chance of getting 1 million deaths, which would be indescribably horrible. And if that were not all, there also appears to be a one-in-a-million chance of wiping out all of humanity. Not so good after all!Common Sense, the Turing Test, and the Quest for Real AI

Weekend Reading List

Stop worrying about your cameras, software, autofocus, etc.,– just go out and shoot. Remember it is 95% your seeing and 5% your gear (I am being generous here).Back to the Future – from the X100F to X100

Well said. Most of us don't have a need to photograph unicorns traveling at light speed.

The poverty of personal analytics is that we buy into the corporately sponsored dogma of our age: everything we do and think is meaningless unless other people ‘like’ it, too.The Folly of Personal Analytics

Sunday Paper - Cursive Writing, Apple Quality, Introversion and Work Spaces

Is the art of cursive writing in decline due to the ballpoint pen and the keyboard.

My experience with fountain pens suggests a new answer. Perhaps it’s not digital technology that hindered my handwriting, but the technology that I was holding as I put pen to paper. Fountain pens want to connect letters. Ballpoint pens need to be convinced to write, need to be pushed into the paper rather than merely touch it. The No.2 pencils I used for math notes weren’t much of a break either, requiring pressure similar to that of a ballpoint pen.

Moreover, digital technology didn’t really take off until the fountain pen had already begin its decline, and the ballpoint its rise. The ballpoint became popular at roughly the same time as mainframe computers. Articles about the decline of handwriting date back to at least the 1960s—long after the typewriter, but a full decade before the rise of the home computer.How The Ballpoint Pen Killed Cursive

Is Apple still producing a quality product?

The practical impact of all this for me is small, but meaningful: I don’t trust this stuff anymore. It was the very reliability of it — in user-friendly design, as well as stability of functionality — that was the basis of my choice in the first place, and continued choices for decades since. I don’t care about the brand itself, and I have no intellectual investment in the platforms as a developer anymore. I just need things that work, and that I can rely on working.

I say this with the utmost regret, sadness, and no small sense of betrayal: Apple doesn’t seem to make those things anymore.Matt Gemmell

I have been an introvert all my life. But only recently have I come to that realization and how my work environment impacts my productivity.

You might not think twice about those things, but you should, because about a third of us are introverts, and improving the environment for a third of your workforce can boost their focus, productivity and creativity, as well as their mental wellbeing. That helps not only them, but your business.Jacqui Gibbons writing in High50

Multiculturalism is extremely difficult. But it is not unimportant. Indeed, multiculturalism is worth every ounce of the struggle it requires, even if for no other reason than that it compels us to think critically about our own institutions, beliefs, and morality. Today we must examine ourselves in a far more nuanced and reflexive manner than we ever would (or could) in a colony of cultural homogeneity. If we are unwilling to undergo intense self–reflexivity, multiculturalism is doomed.James Shelly