Neuralink, Russia, Spheres, Language, Surveillance

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Tim Urban | Wait But Why | 20th April 2017

Huge report unveiling Elon Musk’s latest project, Neuralink, which aims to manufacture brain implants enabling a human mind to connect directly with the internet and with any other mind possessing a similar interface. “The flow of information between your brain and the outside world would be so effortless, it would feel similar to the thinking that goes on in your head today”. The first half of the post is a general backgrounder; jump-link to section 4 for the Musk stuff (38,000 words)

Russia: A Land Power Hungry For The Sea

Tom Fedyszyn | War On The Rocks | 19th April 2017

Russia is “a land power whose sea power switch has been reactivated”. The Russian navy “can apparently shoot straight”; it has proved its skills in Syria; and it has “militarised the Arctic with a vengeance”. There is “no point on the Russian periphery where a foreign military can now operate with impunity”. Russia will never control the world’s oceans, but nor does it need to. “Think of it as high firepower potential but limited range. This is comforting only if you are not near the Russian border” (1,600 words)


Pieter Lemmens | Inference | 19th April 2017

An account of the philosophy of Peter Sloterdijk, author of Spheres. Sloterdijk seeks “to rewrite the history of the human race using the notion of a sphere”. Life begins in the first sphere, the womb; the rest of life is an effort to create more sheltering spheres. “His tone is jovial and detached, ironic yet joyful, reminiscent of Nietzsche. It also owes much to Diogenes. It is a far cry from anything considered as serious thought in the predominantly analytic world of Anglophone philosophy” (3,200 words)

The Kekulé Problem

Cormac McCarthy | Nautilus | 19th April 2017

The human capacity for thought evolved long before the capacity for language; the two are still distinct and contending, as unconscious and conscious mind, ancient and modern. “Problems in general are often well posed in terms of language and language remains a handy tool for explaining them. But the actual process of thinking is largely an unconscious affair. If you believe that you actually use language in the solving of problems I wish that you would write to me and tell me how you go about it” (3,600 words)

Building A Better Monster

Maciej Cegłowski | Idle Words | 20th April 2017

“We built the commercial internet by mastering techniques of persuasion and surveillance that we’ve extended to billions of people, including essentially the entire population of the Western democracies. But admitting that this tool of social control might be conducive to authoritarianism is not something we’re ready to face. After all, we’re good people. As Upton Sinclair said: It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it” (6,200 words)

Video of the day: Love In Public

What to expect:

Troubling cartoon about two people falling in love and killing a club sandwich (2’40”)

Thought for the day

In man’s struggle against the world, bet on the world
Franz Kafka

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