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Cecily Cecily

Writing Worth Reading

Please Steal Our Fossil Fuels

The world is “cursed with fossil fuels in dangerous abundance”. Falling oil prices “threaten to undermine investment in green energy and stimulate wasteful consumption”. Humanity would be much better off if “some extra-terrestrial thief came in the night and stole two-thirds of the planet’s oil, gas and coal reserves”; we would still have enough energy to maintain our quality of life, and more incentive to innovate (930 words)

Can AIDS Be Cured?

AIDS has been transformed from a fatal into a treatable condition. Antiretroviral drugs suppress the human immunodeficiency virus, but they do not eradicate it. Reservoirs of HIV lie dormant within the cells of the affected body, invisible to current drugs, and liable to reactivate when treatment stops. A permanent cure will require tricking these last viruses into revealing themselves, then destroying them (4,500 words)

What I Did In 2014

Diary extracts. Subjects include: Gloucester Crescent, Sue Townsend, preaching in King’s College Chapel, Oxford high table, film-making, Kim Philby, Debo Devonshire, boa constrictors, Richard Hoggart, Richard Branson, dogs, old age. “Once upon a time when one saw an old couple walking along holding hands the thought was of Darby and Joan. Nowadays one just wonders which of them has Alzheimer’s” (5,400 words)

Seven Impressions Of A Difficult Journey

The headline, for once, understates the story, which consists of notes from ten days as a guest of the Islamic State. More detail to follow. Worth knowing: Islamic State recognises the “religions of the book” — Islam, Judaism, Christianity. They will kill all “moderate Muslims approving of democracy” for putting human laws above God’s laws. Jews and Christians will be tolerated if they pay a tax of “several hundred dollars a year” (1,495 words)

Oracles, Genies And Sovereigns

Notes on Nick Bostrom’s book, Superintelligence, about the future of artificial intelligence. Strong AIs will come in different castes: “oracles, genies, sovereigns and tools”. An oracle would do nothing but answer your questions. A genie would carry out a command, then wait for another. “The ordering of safety of these castes is not as obvious as it may seem, once we consider factors such as dependence on a single human” (2,200 words)

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