The Boundaries of Artificial Emotional Intelligence

Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina (2015).

Is it possible for AI to have emotional intelligence? Is it even important?

We’ve long been thinking about how AI might be able to take over some of this work, whether it’s tending to the mysteries of the human heart or the existential, daily burdens of an unjust society. Robot therapists, butlers, maids, nurses, and sex dolls are familiar components of the techno-utopian future fantasy, where dutiful machines perform all our undesirable chores, while we enjoy lives of leisure. But these familiar dynamics may actually be about nurturance and care just as much, and perhaps even more, than they are about service or labor.

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Leigh Alexander — How we get to next

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From Bitcoin to Ethereum


These crypto currencies have been hot topic of discussion recently with the success of Ethereum. Today’s needull tries to explain what these are and the differences between Bitcoin and Ethereum.

The Ethereum blockchain is much faster than that of Bitcoin. The delay between two blocks in the bitcoin system is around 12 seconds. The propagation time of a block through the network, understandably, poses de facto new challenges. The Ethereum protocol provides solutions in both cases. Moreover, and this is the great innovation of this platform, one can arbitrarily store data on the blockchain—by which I mean smart-contracts—that are, in fact, programs written in a complete Turing language. There is thus no restriction on the complexity of programs that can be deposited on this particular blockchain.

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Aurélien Alvarez, reply by Jean-Paul Delahaye — Inference

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The Threat


Ross Anderson discusses the threat of intrusive surveillance on the web.

Twenty years ago, I could find everything about you that was on the World Wide Web, and you could do the same to me, so there was mutuality. Now, if you’re prepared to pay the money and buy into the advertising networks, you can buy all sorts of stuff about my clickstream, and find out where I’ve been staying, and what I’ve been spending my money on, and so on. If you’re within the tent of the intelligence agencies, as Snowden taught us, then there is very much more still. There’s my location history, browsing history, there’s just about everything.

This is the threat. This was a threat before Mr. Trump got elected president. Now that Mr. Trump has been elected, it must be clear to all that government having very intrusive powers of surveillance is not something that necessarily sits well with a healthy democratic sustainable society.

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Ross Anderson — Edge

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How Quora became the hottest website of the year


The best feeling a writer gets is when he is read. For us bloggers, a big satisfaction is when we feel people want to read what we publish. Recently, we had a discussion about how to bring more people to our platform. I found a 2011 article on Quora. A good read to understand what works for collaborative content platforms.

On January 20 this year, Google announced that Larry Page would be replacing Eric Schmidt as CEO. It was the week’s big tech story, possibly one of the biggest of the year, and it needed explanation. Within the hour, a user had put the question to the information-sharing website Quora: “What are some possible reasons that Google replaced Eric Schmidt with Larry Page as CEO?”

Minutes later, a former Google employee posted a detailed answer that included: “This has been a long time coming and not really that big a leap to make if you’ve been on the inside… This is a matter of pride and legacy for him [Page], so he’s going to keep Google’s long-term interests in mind in a way that few outside CEOs would be able to do; he’s emotionally invested in a way that only he and Sergey [Brin] can be.”

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Neal Pollack — Wired

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Before Twitter and Facebook, there was Morse code: Remembering social media’s true inventor


Humorous article looking at how Morse with his Morse code was in fact social media’s true inventor.

Standage noted a journalist’s complaint from an 1891 issue of Atlantic Monthly.

“America has in fact transformed journalism from what it once was, the periodical expression of the thought of the time, the opportune record of the questions and answers of contemporary life, into an agency for collecting, condensing and assimilating the trivialities of the entire human existence,” the complaint went. “The effect is disastrous, and affects the whole range of our mental activities. We develop hurry into a deliberate system … the pursuit of novelties and sensations into the normal business of life.”

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Michael S. Rosenwald — The Washington Post

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Statism Is Killing Creativity

What are governments’ relation to the technology, creative and other “innovative” sectors? Oppositional? Supportive? Clueless?

In this piece, the author claims the focus on preserving existing political institutions harms creativity.

Constraining the federal government’s purview to a limited number of specifically enumerated powers rectifies this bias against originality. Politics and its myriad dangers are insulated from broader society. The state can pursue its own ends with the ruthless efficiency which is required of an eye to dominance in the long-term. But it does not have the strength to do injury to ingenuity—the lifeblood of the productive powers of man—in those creative projects he undertakes for his own benefit, whether to feed his body or his soul.

The Politics of Discretion

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper

Social Media Endorsements: Where Will Marketers Draw the Line?


Will we be ever free from advertising? Does not look so. As media transforms, so does the way advertising is done. Social media influencers, anyone?

This is exactly what led the FTC to send its recent warning letter to 90 influencers and marketers. Public Citizen, the consumer-rights advocacy group founded by Ralph Nader in 1971, filed a petition with the FTC, and the agency investigated. The FTC did not initially disclose the names of the recipients. But according to the National Law Journal, which filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FTC, recipients included Jennifer Lopez, who posted an Instagram photo with Beluga brand vodka in the background, and Jersey Shore star Nicole Polizzi touting Flat Tummy Tea with an Instagram photo captioned with: “There’s just NO WAY I’m doing summer without a flat tummy.”

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