Why Mercedes’ decision to let its self-driving cars kill pedestrians is probably the right thing to do (says Bloomberg )

In an interview with Car and Driver, the manager of driver assistance systems at Mercedes-Benz Christoph von Hugo has revealed that the company's future autonomous vehicles will always put the driver first. In other words, it would choose to run the child over every time.

Although the fact someone has to make this choice feels uncomfortable, it would be more dangerous if they didn't, because unless a self-driving vehicle is told what to do when a child runs into the road, it won't do anything.

Previously, manufacturers have been quiet about what would happen under these circumstances, until Mercedes-Benz's announcement at the Paris Auto Show this month. According to von Hugo, all of the company's future Level 4 and Level 5 self-driving cars will be programmed with the decision to save the people they carry over anything else.

"If you know you can save at least one person, at least save that one. Save the one in the car," von Hugo said in the interview. "If all you know for sure is that one death can be prevented, then that's your first priority."”

Why Mercedes’ decision to let its self-driving cars kill pedestrians is probably the right thing to do
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Algorithms outdo us. But we still prefer human fallibility | Rafael Behr

“It is the zone of ambiguity and imprecision whose decline Jacobson laments when he warns that Twitter reduces us to a world of statement: “There are many good statements in the world, but much of the best part of thought and conversation isn’t statement, it’s exploration, inquiry, irony.”

It often feels as if the subtlety of analogue experience is being pulverised into platitude by the digital machine. It is easy to conjure fear of enslavement to robots, and maybe resistance is futile Luddism. But maybe also we underestimate old Ned. As testimony to the power of the imagination, he is stubbornly, reassuringly immortal.”

Algorithms outdo us. But we still prefer human fallibility | Rafael Behr
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Help! My Son Confuses Me With Amazon's Alexa (TIME read)

“Using a voice assistant to run your home feels beamed-in-from-Star Trek cool, making mundane actions magical. You can voice-toggle your lighting, conjure your favorite Beatles' tunes or have your sprinkler system douse the lawn on command. When I get home from a run, Siri unlocks the door for me. While I'm cooking dinner, Alexa pulls together peppy playlists. In my office, I ask "Okay Google, what's my day like?" and a little Moneypenny on my bookshelf fills me in.

But life with this technology can also be a comedy of ghostly errors. As I write this, an Ed Sheeran song begins randomly playing in my house. I’m home alone. My wife intended to play it in her car, but her Spotify account is linked to our Amazon Echo smart speaker. So instead of playing on her car's audio system, "Castle on the Hill" is blaring in our suburban Portland home.”

Help! My Son Confuses Me With Amazon's Alexa
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Automation may take our jobs—but it’ll restore our humanity (says x.ai CEO)

“Our very human future

One implication of all this is that for humans to succeed in the AI-powered future, we need to double down on our humanity. Technical skills will no doubt remain important in the future of work, but as AI allows us to automate repetitive tasks across many industries, these will in many cases take a back seat to soft skills. Communication, emotional intelligence, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and cognitive flexibility will become the most sought-after abilities. To prepare for that future, we need to emphasize developing higher-order thinking and emotional skills.

While our formal education system catches up to the shifting definition of human intelligence, here are three basic ideas for improving your prospects in the future of work.

Learn to tell stories. Machines aren’t very good at storytelling beyond rote reports. Telling engaging and creative stories is essential if you want to collaborate effectively with other humans. It can improve your communications in many ways—from reframing a product feature to a customer to selling a new internal KPI for how you measure success. A workshop from an organization like The Story Studio is a great place to start.
Boost your creativity. A lot of people think creativity can’t be learned; you either have it, or you don’t. But that’s not true. Creativity is a process and you can ignite that process and improve your chances of creative results. For example, taking regular, reflective breaks, going for walks, and making time for unstructured play (yes, even for adults!) have been shown to boost creativity.
Learn how to sell. Selling is an inherently human trait, and it’s an incredibly important one. I’m not just talking about selling products, but also how to sell yourself, your ideas, and convincing others to get on board with you. Mastering the basic concepts of sales involves a whole lot of very human qualities: understanding psychology, listening and asking questions, empathizing with others, and finding creative solutions to problems.”

Automation may take our jobs—but it’ll restore our humanity
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How Technology Might Get Out of Control (about the Nash equilibrium's demise?)

“People use laws, social norms and international agreements to reap the benefits of technology while minimizing undesirable things like environmental damage. In aiming to find such rules of behavior, we often take inspiration from what game theorists call a Nash equilibrium, named after the mathematician and economist John Nash. In game theory, a Nash equilibrium is a set of strategies that, once discovered by a set of players, provides a stable fixed point at which no one has an incentive to depart from their current strategy.

To reach such an equilibrium, the players need to understand the consequences of their own and others' potential actions. During the Cold War, for example, peace among nuclear powers depended on the understanding the any attack would ensure everyone's destruction. Similarly, from local regulations to international law, negotiations can be seen as a gradual exploration of all possible moves to find a stable framework of rules acceptable to everyone, and giving no one an incentive to cheat – because doing so would leave them worse off.

But what if technology becomes so complex and starts evolving so rapidly that humans can’t imagine the consequences of some new action? This is the question that a pair of scientists -- Dimitri Kusnezov of the National Nuclear Security Administration and Wendell Jones, recently retired from Sandia National Labs -- explore in a recent paper. Their unsettling conclusion: The concept of strategic equilibrium as an organizing principle may be nearly obsolete.”

How Technology Might Get Out of Control
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Things to Hang on Your Mental Mug Tree | Edge.org - some great morsels from Rory Sutherland

“There's a rather lovely company in the UK that pays people who are housebound—whether for medical reasons, or are caregivers—to handwrite envelopes and letters. You could regard this as a very silly thing to do, but in costly signaling theory terms, it makes perfect sense. The open rate of these letters, and the response they generate, is an order of magnitude higher than for laser-printed letters.

Another thing worth bearing in mind is countersignaling, which, unlike signaling, seems to be uniquely human. There aren't cases of peacocks who demonstrate their extraordinary genetic quality by having really shitty tails. What seems to happen with humans is you have multiple parallel status currencies, and quite often you will signal your position on status by adopting none of the status currencies of the class immediately below your own, or by essentially demonstrating zero effort in standard status currencies. An unwashed bass guitarist in a cool rock band, for example, can get away with poor levels of hygiene, which signals: "I'm so sexy by dint of my bass guitar playing skills that I can get away with not making an effort in any of these conventional areas." Sometimes it's done as a positional thing, and sometimes it's done as a pure demonstration of handicap.

Relevance theory [from Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson] might be another thing that's interesting. In other words, replacing the “conduit” idea of communication with this idea that we communicate the minimum necessary for the recipient to recreate the message within their own head using context as a very large part of the information. Those interesting new theories of communication, which don't always sit with the Claude Shannon theories, are worth exploring. A very simple manifestation would be jokes which, like IKEA furniture, demand some self-assembly on the part of the recipient.”

Things to Hang on Your Mental Mug Tree | Edge.org
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The key to jobs in the future is not college but compassion – Read This

“the truth is, only a tiny percentage of people in the post-industrial world will ever end up working in software engineering, biotechnology or advanced manufacturing. Just as the behemoth machines of the industrial revolution made physical strength less necessary for humans, the information revolution frees us to complement, rather than compete with, the technical competence of computers. Many of the most important jobs of the future will require soft skills, not advanced algebra.”

The key to jobs in the future is not college but compassion – Livia Gershon | Aeon Essays
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This is how Big Oil will die – NewCo Shift (must read)

“It’s 2025, and 800,000 tons of used high strength steel is coming up for auction.

The steel made up the Keystone XL pipeline, finally completed in 2019, two years after the project launched with great fanfare after approval by the Trump administration. The pipeline was built at a cost of about $7 billion, bringing oil from the Canadian tar sands to the US, with a pit stop in the town of Baker, Montana, to pick up US crude from the Bakken formation. At its peak, it carried over 500,000 barrels a day for processing at refineries in Texas and Louisiana.

But in 2025, no one wants the oil.

The Keystone XL will go down as the world’s last great fossil fuels infrastructure project. TransCanada, the pipeline’s operator, charged about $10 per barrel for the transportation services, which means the pipeline extension earned about $5 million per day, or $1.8 billion per year. But after shutting down less than four years into its expected 40 year operational life, it never paid back its costs.”

This is how Big Oil will die – NewCo Shift
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Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? - The Atlantic

“a generation shaped by the smartphone and by the concomitant rise of social media. I call them iGen. Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet. The Millennials grew up with the web as well, but it wasn’t ever-present in their lives, at hand at all times, day and night. iGen’s oldest members were early adolescents when the iPhone was introduced, in 2007, and high-school students when the iPad entered the scene, in 2010. A 2017 survey of more than 5,000 American teens found that three out of four owned an iPhone.

The advent of the smartphone and its cousin the tablet was followed quickly by hand-wringing about the deleterious effects of “screen time.” But the impact of these devices has not been fully appreciated, and goes far beyond the usual concerns about curtailed attention spans. The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household. The trends appear among teens poor and rich; of every ethnic background; in cities, suburbs, and small towns. Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone.

To those of us who fondly recall a more analog adolescence, this may seem foreign and troubling. The aim of generational study, however, is not to succumb to nostalgia for the way things used to be; it’s to understand how they are now. Some generational changes are positive, some are negative, and many are both. More comfortable in their bedrooms than in a car or at a party, today’s teens are physically safer than teens have ever been. They’re markedly less likely to get into a car accident and, having less of a taste for alcohol than their predecessors, are less susceptible to drinking’s attendant ills.

Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were: Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.”

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? - The Atlantic
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