What I'm Reading (Feb. 23)

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A very different take on AI
What movie has been the most profitable?
Just like razor blades, ink for printers is a bit of a scam.
What do grades really tell us?


“Who or what has superintelligence manipulating humans right now?  Babies and dogs are the obvious answers, cats for some. …..What is to prevent your chatbot from following a similar path?"

From Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cohen’s take on AI, The canine model of AGI


What movie has been the most profitable? That, of course, depends on several factors, including their cost. David McCandless of Information is Beautiful, home of wonderful interactive graphics, spends a moment sharing his findings while providing a painless lesson on economics. Spoiler alert it ain’t Avatar. Hint consider the return on investment. From Information is Beautiful, by way of a tip from The Browser, What is the Most Successful Hollywood Movie of All Time?

Anyone using a printer will find some resonance and perhaps solace in this tale from Charlie Warzel.

“Here was a piece of technology that I had paid more than $200 for, stocked with full ink cartridges. My printer, gently used, was sitting on my desk in perfect working order but rendered useless by Hewlett-Packard, a tech corporation with a $28 billion market cap at the time of writing, because I had failed to make a monthly payment for a service intended to deliver new printer cartridges that I did not yet need. … I declared to nobody in particular that I was being extorted by my printer.”

As a user of both HP and Epson printers, I become crazed every time I have to get an ink refill. But we will leave the prose to Mr. Warzel. From The Atlantic, My printer is extorting me


“The ubiquitous, incessant surveying smothers knowledge with noise, drowns out the information we actually need for finding out how things work, what’s going on, what we’re doing, what actually matters.

For starters, we should suspect any measurement that doesn’t acknowledge the “what compared to what.” Counting the number of Covid deaths without comparing it to the prevalence of the virus in a population gives us no clue to its fatality, to how many people recover or linger in “long Covid,” or even which variations are “trending.” We can’t know those numbers, since no one’s counting anymore. Denominators have disappeared again.”

I am a big fan of denominators because measuring things, and we need to measure if we wish to identify change, is about relationships – from one thing to another. That example of COVID deaths is an argument we have made repeatedly.

From Wired, The End of Grading