Thoughts on: “Abundance” Diamandis & Kotler

Exponential technology has the potential to create a world of abundance. Did you know that aluminum was the most valuable of metals back in the day? Now we use it for disposable cans. This book covers exponentials that will shape the near future. Including computing power, nano science, microbiology and 3D printing to name a few. It’s written to get people aware and excited about the future in a world where mass media predicts the end of the world. My main takeaway is to try to recognize how quality of life for almost everyone is steadily improving with the help of human ingenuity–and try to battle some of my tendencies towards a “scarcity” thinking.

5/5

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Thoughts on: “Give People Money” by Annie Lowrey

The idea behind Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a simple one; Give People Cash! Enough to live on—maybe not well, but enough —every month, for a lifetime. No strings attached. Let people pay for rent, invest in a business idea or buy heroin. Doesn’t matter.

In one strike you would end poverty. This is interesting stuff!

📝 Some Arguments for a UBI:

– More women would afford leaving an abusive partner.

– Increase bargaining power for workers.

– Keep the masses afloat in a jobless future.

📝 Luddite fallacy: The idea that machines are going to eliminate work. It has been around for decades. And been proven wrong many times. Is it different this time?

📝 It has been proven again and again that giving people cash doesn’t have any impact on people’s propensity to work.

📝 “Cash is universally useful.” Charity programs can be counterproductive as it gives shoes to people who already have shoes and actually need something else. Foreign aid clothes can disrupt the local clothing markets etc..

📝 It’s going to be expensive.. but it’s not even close to impossible.

I loved to finally dig into this subject as the idea of UBI fascinates me to no end. Unfortunately there is not much data on I it will actually work. There are a lot of experiments going on throughout the world and only time will tell if it works.

The book is alright but the concept is great! A solid introduction to the subject.

Here are a few other books about UBI to choose from:

📖 Utopia For Realists 📖

📖 Inventing the Future 📖

3/5

Photo credit: @rewritethestory

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Favorite Books of the Year 2018: 21 Lessons for the 21 century

What Harari has done here is quite a feat. He has squeezed what could easily been a series of books into one volume, covering topics like:

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▪️The resurrection of nationalism.

▫️What to do in a post-jobs world.

▪️The opportunity cost of fighting terrorism.

▫️Why we need a deep understanding of suffering and how to attain it.

▪️What should we teach our kids in school to prepare the for the future?

▫️How to live in the age of biotech, algorithms and AI.

▪️Is religion still relevant?

▫️Do we need a whole new ideology to deal with the problems of the 21st century when liberalism just wont cut it anymore?

▪️Culturism vs. Rasism.

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The book is relevant, nuanced and sometimes frightening.

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How do I plan do dig deeper into the themes covered in this book in 2019?

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I will read ‘Future Presence’ early next year. It’s about human connection in a future of virtual reality.

Read the full list of favorites or check out previous lists right here!

Recovering from depression induced by “Superintelligence”.

“Superintelligence” was a great and valuable read but it left me depressed. There seems to be so many dangers with AI and just so much time for us to get a grip on the control problem before It arrives.

To lift myself up I started to read “How to Live: or a life of Montaigne” by Sarah Bakewell. Ooooh WOW! It’s wonderful so far! Such a delight!

As I hinted in the picture, I know a thing or two about how to live (at least this week! Hehe! ), enjoying myself in beautiful surrounding with an eminent all-you-can-eat buffet.

Check out my review of Superintelligence and enjoy your Monday!

Thoughts on: “Superintelligence” by Nick Bostrom

Bostrom paints a gloomy picture of what’s in store for us would we ever develop a superintelligence. It left me depressed, but I think it’s essential to have rudimentary understanding of the challenges a general artificial intelligence would entail. This book presents potential paths to reach superintelligence and dives deep into the problem of controlling a force with capacities far beyond our own.

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Paths to Superintelligence:

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🚸 “Seed AI” – A program learning by trial and error. Becoming more and more advanced over time. 🌱

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🚸 “Whole Brain Emulation” – Creating a digital representation of a brain by scanning and then replicate and enhance its it’s functions. 🧠

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🚸 “Biotechnological Enhancements” – at least weak forms of super intelligence can be achieved by mental and physical enhancements in the near future. 🔬

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🚸 “Iterated Embryo Selection” – Another way to reach super intelligence is through gene manipulation and breeding. Creating supersperms by matching and breeding them in labs, concentrating leaps of several generations in one go. This could create a new enhanced “race” of humans that together could be called a super intelligence. 👶🏼

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⭐️ Takeaway:

The introduction of a superintelligence will propose a potential existential risk. But it would prevents other existential risks, like a meteor strike or super Volcano eruption.

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The book is complex and sometimes painfully dense with information. But I consider it worthwhile investment of my time in hindsight! For a less academic and technical, but more accessible, starting point for learning about AI I recommend “Surviving AI” by C. Chace.

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To uplift my spirit I started reading “How to Live: A Life of Montaigne”. It’s awesome so far! What book made you depressed?

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4/4

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Photo credit: @christyharner

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Thoughts on: “The Glass Cage” by Nicholas Carr

The book is about how bad automation erode skill and create unfulfilling jobs which in turn create a self-fulfilling prophecy where previously masterful people makes mistakes pitching in for failing automated systems – human errors that turn into arguments for even more automation.

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It’s easy to discard this books as technophobic but there is a point to all of this. It’s a nuanced and important one. That we should not just discard the effects of automation as they have a big impact on the human psyche and sense of fulfillment. With smart decisions we can limit potential harm and still move technology forward by focusing on human centered designs rather than putting tech first.

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At the same time I don’t see the big deal here? We are clinging on to how things ones were and can’t accept change. Everything changes all the time. But getting rid of this type of attachment is a bigger conversation and beyond the scope of this book. 😀

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📝 “The problem with automation is that it often gives us what we don’t need at the cost of what we do”. Often cognitive bias -a flaw in our thinking – distorts our perception. We tend to think we don’t want to work but in fact work is often fulfilling while leisurely makes bored and anxious.

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📝 “Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.”

Alfred North Whitehead – ‘An Introduction to Mathematics’

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📝 As the search engine get better at helping us find what we want the sloppier the questions become. “sharp tools, dull minds”

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📝 A worker today is considered “skilled” if he/she goes through a week long training. Several months to a year of training – like learning basic programming- is looked apon with awe. Division of labor eroded what it means to be a skilled laborer. Back in the day 4-7 years of apprenticeship was needed to be skilled in a typical craft.

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY

“Automation weakens the bond between tool and user not because computer controlled systems are complex but because the ask so little of us.”

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How are you preparing for for a age where machines can do everything you do – but better and faster? 🤔

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4/5 – “The Glass Cage” by Nicholas Carr

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