China, Work, Drugs, Space, Cricket

The New China Scare

Fareed Zakaria | Foreign Affairs | 6th December 2019

On the folly of a new Cold War with China. “The United States risks squandering the hard-won gains from four decades of engagement with China, encouraging Beijing to adopt confrontational policies of its own, and leading the world’s two largest economies into a treacherous conflict of unknown scale and scope that will inevitably cause decades of instability and insecurity. A cold war with China is likely to be much longer and more costly than the one with the Soviet Union, with an uncertain outcome”  (5,870 words)


Productivity And Artificial Intelligence

Jeffrey Funk | IEEE Spectrum | 5th December 2019

Fanciful projections for the effects of AI on growth and productivity over the next 10-15 years spring mainly from the extrapolation of self-interested claims made by start-ups in the field. So far from doubling rich-world growth rates, as Accenture predicts, AI has yet to produce any meaningful benefits at all. True, these are very early days; but of the 40 biggest pure AI start-ups in the US, only four are even working on products likely to be of direct benefit to industries other than computing (2,900 words)


Life Lessons From Opioids

Steven Landsburg | Big Questions | 1st December 2019

The argument is repugnant, and the comments offer effective rebuttals, but here is the case in favour of opioid abuse and fatal overdosing. “There is something to celebrate if rising death rates result from voluntary, informed choices. The thing to celebrate, of course, is not the deaths themselves, but the fact that people have found something worth dying for — just as, when you buy a house, I’ll congratulate not for the expense, but for finding something that made the expense worthwhile” (520 words)


46 Billion Light Years Away

Ethan Siegel | Starts With A Bang | 2nd March 2018

Explainer. If the Universe is “only” 13.8 billion years old, how can we Earthlings see objects up to 46 billion light-years away? The answer is, that the Universe is expanding, so those distant objects were much closer to us when they emitted the light that we see now. Another result of the Universe’s expansion, and the presence of dark energy, is that 97% of the observable Universe is already unreachable from Earth, even for an explorer setting out today and travelling at the speed of light (1,300 words)


The Ethics Of Walking In Cricket

Anthony McGowan | Guardian | 4th December 2019

A game of cricket. You are batting. Along comes a delivery down the leg side. You flick at it, miss, and the ball smacks into the keeper’s glove. Except that you didn’t quite miss. You felt the ball just touch your bat. You ought to be out. But the umpire didn’t see the touch, the bowler and keeper haven’t appealed, and, according to the rule book, you are not out unless the umpire says so. Is it your moral duty to alert the umpire, and walk? Here’s what Socrates would advise. And Kant. And Nietzsche (3,420 words)


Video: AderError. If all the TV commercials in the world were made in a single studio, this is what the studio would look like (4m 00s)

Audio: Technologies That Will Change The Future | Our Opinions Are Correct. Discussion of artificial wombs, smart toilets, new forms of public transportation, and cleaning machines (42m 22s)

Afterthought:
”The best way to keep a prisoner from escaping is to make sure he never knows he's in prison”
— Fyodor Dostoevsky