Elon Musk, Bob Dylan, F-35, Cafés, Pandemic, John Hinckley

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Elon Musk’s Crusade Against Artificial Intelligence

Maureen Dowd | Vanity Fair | 27th March 2017

Elon Musk worries that his friend Larry Page at Google could inadvertently produce “a fleet of artificial intelligence-enhanced robots capable of destroying mankind”. He wants to colonise Mars as an escape route for humanity in case that or something like it happens. “With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon. You know all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water and he’s like, yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon? Doesn’t work out” (7,900 words)

Q & A With Bob Dylan

Bill Flanagan | Bob Dylan | 22nd March 2017

Enthralling conversation which starts out prosaically with Dylan’s new album, Triplicate, then soars into the mystic. “You start out wondering why you bought those blue pajamas and later you’re wondering why you were born. You go from the foolishly absurd to the deadly serious and you’ve passed through the gaudy and the nasty along the way. You get to the edge and you’re played out and you wonder: Where’s the good news? Isn’t there supposed to be good news?” (8,200 words)

The Most Expensive Weapon Ever Built

Daniel Soare | London Review Of Books | 24th March 2017

At a lifetime cost of $1.5 trillion, America’s new Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter plane is the most expensive weapons system ever — perhaps the most expensive peacetime project of any kind. Sheer scale of sunk cost means that the F-35 will stay in production for years, even though manned warplanes are already obsolescent. An F-35 pilot watches headset displays and touches screens to fire missiles. She could do the same thing at much less risk from a bunker on the ground (3,200 words)


Hermann Czech | Reading Design | 26th March 2017

On designing the perfect café. “Sometimes a proprietor can cook, but hardly any entrepreneur is capable of sketching accurately his customary workspace — and even less of assessing the spatial relationships in a café. Only when he witnesses the work does he know why he needed to delegate it. The principle of delegating is hard to accept. It means establishing what you want, but not how. Only an interior decorating company will know beforehand what the café will look like — uninteresting!” (1,100 words)

This Is How The World Gets Sick

Mark Olshaker & Michael Osterholm | Fast Company | 22nd March 2017

Fictional but fact-based disaster scenario. Infectious bird flu sweeps the world. “At first, the doctors in the Shanghai metropolitan area think they’re just seeing late-season flu cases, but their patients don’t seem to be getting better. It is mid-April; influenza should be on the wane in China. It doesn’t take long for physicians to realise that the hundreds of patients they are seeing in emergency rooms are presenting with conditions very different from anything they have seen before” (4,660 words)

John Hinckley Has Left The Mental Hospital

Lisa Miller | New York | 21st March 2017

Thirty-five years after he was declared insane for shooting President Ronald Reagan, John Hinckley lives with his mother in Virginia and sells books on Amazon. He was released last year from psychiatric hospital, his symptoms of “major depression and nonspecific psychosis” having long since abated. He might have got out sooner had it not been for a mash-note to Ted Bundy and a hidden diary in which he wrote: “Psychiatry is a guessing game, and I do my best to keep the fools guessing” (6,900 words)

Video of the day: A Fold Apart

What to expect:

Ex-NASA physicist Robert Lang applies the principles of mathematics and engineering to origami (2’56”)

Thought for the day

The purpose of argument is to change the nature of truth
Frank Herbert

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