Archive: March 31, 2023

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Friday,  03/31/23  09:41 PM

<musing type=optional>

Just sitting here thinking about entertainment.  It's a bit related to interesting-ness; how do we chose to spend our time?

For much of the world, basic human needs like food and shelter are a given - sadly, for another much of the world, they are not, don't want to be callus about this - but for you, readers of this blog, this is largely true ... and I/you/we spend a lot of our money and time on entertainment

In our world the most valued people are entertainers - actors, musicians, athletes, writers, etc.  These are "hits" businesses - only the tip of the entertainment pyramid is so valuable - but they are broadly leveragable - a great actor, musician, athlete, or writer can entertain many many of us (indeed all of us) at the same time.

It was not always so.  Before electronic communication the reach of an entertainer was limited, and hence, they were less valuable.  (Writers had big reach earlier, with printing presses...)  In my not-yet-written book Unnatural Selection I planned a chapter called "the piano player", in which I noted that in the recent past even a good player could be entertaining to many in a local community, while now you would have to be a great player, but could entertain everyone.  Mass communication has fostered a global decanting.  But that aside, entertainment was still valuable back then, maybe more so given its scarcity.

Clearly entertainment is a brain thing, so is wanting and liking entertainment a by-product of other selection, or fundamental to it? 

Frequent readers know I postulate happiness comes from liking yourself; if entertainment makes you happy (it does) then does it make you like yourself (it must).  So why would watching a great actor, or listening to a great musician make you like you?  Maybe its by analogy, a sort of inspiration; if that human can do that thing, than I could too?

As a contra point to this: watching other species do incredible things is entertaining too.  And what about humor? 

It is a mystery.  I will continue to ponder :)




Friday,  03/31/23  10:19 PM

End of quarter, filter pass ...

I must tell you, this was not a great quarter for me.  I am ready to turn a corner.

Today's picture: Titan!  One of my favorite's, of all time; Titan silhouetted by Saturn, as taken by Cassini.  This is a real photograph of a real moon of a real planet.  Goosebumpy.

We keep reading about GPT and it's various chat brethren; the genesis for all was OpenAI's Codex, an AI system to translate natural language to code.  As a coder myself, naturally this is of interest, and the tools now available are amazing.  The big question is will computers replace humans?  Or will there always have to be humans to train the computers? 

Consider Wikipedia, one of the truly amazing human creations.  Could it have been created by computers?  I don't think so.  But now that it exists, it can be used to train computers, for sure...

The New Yorker contemplates the End of the English Major.  Really, the end of Humanities.  Certainly Woke Politics are a part of this decline, but there's more to it than that: "During the past decade, the study of English and history at the collegiate level has fallen by a full third. Humanities enrollment in the United States has declined over all by seventeen per cent. What’s going on? The trend mirrors a global one; four-fifths of countries in the Organization for Economic Coöperation reported falling humanities enrollments in the past decade."  Humanities score high on interestingness, but maybe increasingly lower on entertainment

[Added: my daughter, a Gen Y who majored in Sociology, thinks students are more preoccupied with their future economics now than previously.  How interesting, Millennials are often regarded as anti-capitalist.]

Also the New Yorker: Goodbye, my Funding.  From 2017, pre-Covid.  It's written as a humorous satire of course, but the underlying idea that "my funding" is somehow separate from "my activity" is an interesting observation, typical of many.  Universal Basic Income is one manifestation.  If we had UBI, would we have more English Majors? 

NASA wants new 'deorbit tug' to bring space station down in 2030.  Huh.  This seems like a perfect excuse to test new weapons systems!  And if I could suggest, we should launch a new satellite to relay video! 

Whenever I see pictures of the ISS, I have a Titan-like "wow, this is a real photograph of a real thing" moment.

PSA: Did you know, the IOS Compass app not only gives you directions, but coordinates and altitude?  Even works with airplane mode on ... I guess the GPS is still active regardless ... try it next time you're flying :) 

Interconnected: My new job is AI sommelier and I detect the bouquet of progress.  "I made an AI clock for my bookshelves! It composes a new poem every minute using ChatGPT and mysteriously has an enthusiastic vibe which I am totally into. Kinda.

Not real - yet - the invisible superyacht.  In my experience most so-called superyachts have a "me me look at me" design, so this would be welcome. 

For superyachts?  The lightest pain in the world.  It uses reflective properties of materials rather than pigment.  Cool (literally!) but also likely expensive... 

The IQ Bell Curve for AI

I keep going back and forth on whether I think AI is dangerous...

Novel drug makes mice skinny even on sugary, fatty diet.  Huh.  Glenn Reynolds thinks if drugs make it easy to be skinny, skinniness will be less-valued.  I'd be happy to volunteer to find out :) 

Congrats to tortoise couple Mr. and Mrs. Pickles on the arrival of their three hatchlings, Dill, Gherkin, and Jalapeño.  Hehe. 

Note: the little Gherkin is actual size :)


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