Sentiers No.6

Commons, AI, China, Netflix and Megastuff

Welcome to all the new subscribers sent this way by the brilliant Warren Ellis, I hope you enjoy what you find and I’m looking forward to your feedback.

Probably a bit of a ‘duh!’ comment but as I’m writing this, ignoring Holywood pervs, dotards, and “gun printing” bores, I’m coming to realize a newsletter is as much about what is not included as it is about what is. Something I didn’t grasp as clearly when writing other, much more focused newsletters.


Commons
Don’t let the rich get even richer on the assets we all share
George Monbiot is sometimes “a bit much” but I really enjoyed this piece on the four major economic sectors: the market, the state, the household and the commons. The market is extracting from the latter two and we need to achieve a much better balance to get out of the current sh*t show.

The ecosystems commoners sustained are liquidated for cash. Inequality, rent, atomisation, alienation, environmental destruction: the loss of the commons has caused or exacerbated many of the afflictions of our age.


Artificial Intelligence
4 Steps to Good Narrow AI

Then it is what we do with these tools, our intent, that it is also important to be clear about. Why are you identifying faces? What are you doing with that output (or who are you selling it to)?

I’ve seen 3 Element AI co-founders speak so far and have been impressed every time with their answers and approach to thorny questions around ethics, bias, transparency, government involvement and even the commons. The excellent piece above, by the Element AI CEO, is a good example. It remains to be seen how that translates to live products but I’m optimistic.

Slack CEO: How We’ll Use AI to Reduce Information Overload
I can’t say I’ve been happy with any of the filtering algorithm I’be been subjected to yet (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr “while you’re away,” etc.). Based on his body of work and the kind of ideas he promotes, I’m expecting that Butterfield-led Slack might be the first to provide something useful.

Artificial Intelligence: The Norwegian Retreat
The people at Clearleft organized a private conference on AI in the beautiful Juvet hotel, which was the backdrop for Ex Machina. Not that much has been made public yet but you can read the same Mr. Ellis with a few paragraphs on it in the latest Orbital Operations.


Chinese Near Future
Azeem Azhar, in his Exponential View newsletter, brought in David Schlesinger for a China special which is very much worth the read.

Part of the problem is there are no real rules. And the rules you think you’ve learned over decades of study, don’t always hold.


Netflix Canada and the Misleading Claims About “Level Playing Fields”
The Canadian government has made a deal with Netflix, forgoing taxes. A lot of disappointment in many circles but Michael Geist, as he often does, brings some deeper thinking and important facts to his analysis.


Dispatches from the frontline of the Smart City
A quick post by Ben Terrett on smart cities and dockless bikes which I’m liking for this quote:

Back to the naming. Cities have always been smart. Resilient, entrepreneurial, progressive, always adapting. The smartest of human settlements. That never needed a seperate brand.

Brought to mind this piece by Scott Smith back in August; New Transport Horizons or Mobility Spam?.


Regulate Facebook Like AIM
AIM is closing down and, alongside the nostalgia, this interesting idea of going back to how AIM/AOL was regulated and doing the same to Facebook.

The relationships you have on AOL messenger are your relationships. … You can look at Facebook—with its over 2 billion monthly users—as having egregious control over our relationships on the internet, or what he calls the “social grid.” If Facebook were forced to make room for other services on its platform in the same way AOL made room for other chat apps, new services could emerge.


Miscellany
Charismatic Megastructures; Tokyo Is Preparing for Floods ‘Beyond Anything We’ve Seen’Charismatic megafauna; fourteen wolves and how they changed Yellowstone over 20 years (short video).

++ I haven’t had time to dig through too much yet but Five Books looks quite fantastic, potentially expensive and very Tsundoku .

We ask leaders in a field to make book recommendations in their area of work and explain their choices in an interview.

++ Electric car owners ‘can drive for free by letting energy firms use battery’ | Business

Nissan and one of the UK’s biggest challenger energy suppliers, Ovo, will offer the “vehicle-to-grid” service to buyers of the Japanese carmaker’s new Leaf from next year.


Open tabs


Shameless plug: I wrote something about Micromastery, a method I’ll be keeping in mind.


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