Print Story Had the chance and threw it away
By TheophileEscargot (Sat Jan 04, 2020 at 02:16:20 AM EST) Reading, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "Hello World", "Other Minds", "Early Riser" ,"Lies Sleeping". Links.

What I'm Reading
Hello World by Hannah Fry. Short book about the algorithms that surround us, how they are used, their risks and advantages. Quite interesting and quite fair: points out the advantages such as greater consistency, and also the risks to privacy and their tendency to be regarded as infallible. However it's definitely pitched at the general reader, if you're fairly familiar with digital privacy issues not much here will be very surprising.

What I'm Reading 2
Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith. Book by a philosopher and scuba diver on what the octopus tells us about the mind and the evolution of our minds. He chooses the octopus and the cuttlefish as they are fairly intelligent animals who have evolved largely separately from ourselves.

Some aspects are fascinating, especially for its accounts of early evolution: I didn't know much about the Ediacaran age before reading this. The biology of these creatures is fascinating, some of which is still unexplained. Their eyes are colour-blind but they signal through coloured displays: it seems that their skin may be sensitive to colours. They have a less centralised brain than us vertebrates: to some degree the tentancles seem to do their own thinking.

I didn't find the musings on consciousness that interesting as I'm not sure the concept really means that much, but others might find it more so. Overall, pretty good.

What I'm Reading 3
Early Riser by Jasper Fforde. Standalone semi-comic science fiction novel by the author of the "Thursday Next" series. It has a great concept: set in a parallel world somewhat colder than our own, humans hibernate over the winter, but a small number of people choose to stay awake: some outlaws, and those who defend the sleepers.

I liked the world-building a lot, it has lots of fascinating ideas and works everything through thoroughly. I didn't think the comedy was as amusing as in his other books, I might have preferred it if he'd taken another leap and played the scenario entirely straight.

Overall though, a fun book with good ideas.

What I'm Reading 4
Lies Sleeping is the latest novel in the "Rivers of London" / "Peter Grant" series. Seemed like a bit of a return to form with some interesting content on London's history. It also finally deals with one of the long-term baddies who's been hanging around far too long in this series, though it would have been better to find some fresher antagonists. Not bad if you like the series, but not outstanding either.

Socioeconomics. In Norway, which school you go to doesn't really matter. Labor in the Boardroom: "We estimate the effects of a mandate allocating a third of corporate board seats to workers".

Sci/Tech. Designing Windows 95’s User Interface.

Articles. We Can’t See ‘Star Wars’ Anymore (NYT limited-article wall). Werner Herzog interview: "There are only two things students really need to learn: First, how to crack security locks. Second, how to fake a film permit convincingly enough that you won't get caught. All the rest is dialogue and examples from film, music and literature."

Random. Dual axis illusion. How to dry your hands with one paper towel.

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Had the chance and threw it away | 1 comment (1 topical, 0 hidden)
Non-mammalian intelligence by ObviousTroll (2.00 / 0) #1 Wed Jan 08, 2020 at 11:21:02 AM EST
I find the idea fascinating from a number of fronts; speculating how smart the dinosaurs were with their relatively miniscule brains, but also the possibility that creatures like octupuses and cuttlefish are intelligent but in a non-sentient way. (I'm probably using that word incorrectly, what I mean by "sentience" is probably "self-aware". Essentially I'm wondering that if it's possible for a life form to be highly intelligent but without the sense of self that humans have, does that mean that we should consider projects like Deep Mind to be as alive as such creatures?)

An Angry and Flatulent Pig, Trying to Tie Balloon Animals
Had the chance and threw it away | 1 comment (1 topical, 0 hidden)