Weighing 75 years of the nuclear age


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What is it like to sit for 75 years with the capability to destroy earth many times over?

No deliberate nuclear attack has taken place since the bombings of Japan, in part because of the sheer horror of those events. But the threat never goes away. “The risk of a nuclear weapon being used somewhere in the world in these next years is probably higher than it’s been since the Cuban missile crisis,” Moniz said. “We see concerns in North Korea, India-Pakistan. Russia of course remains, with a large arsenal, and we do not have a very constructive relationship right now with Russia.” North Korea launched a missile test just this week, the latest in a string of tests that have moved it steadily towards the goal of being able to hit the continental United States with a nuclear weapon.

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Elisabeth Eaves & Julian HaydaBulletin of the Atomic Scientists

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BIG DATA IS SHACKLING MANKIND’S SENSE OF CREATIVE WONDER


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There are two sides of a coin. This is the other side for Big Data.

Feynman was speaking to the sense of wonder that science should evoke in all of us. Carl Sagan realized this too when he said that not only is science compatible with spirituality, but it’s a profound source of spirituality. To realize that the world is a multilayered, many-splendored thing, to realize that everything around us is connected through particles and forces, to realize that every time we take a breath or fly on a plane we are being held alive and aloft by the wonderful and weird principles of mechanics and electromagnetism and atomic physics, and to realize that these phenomena are actually real as opposed to the fictional revelations of religion, should be as much a spiritual experience as anything else in one’s life. In this sense, knowing about quantum mechanics or molecular biology is no different from listening to the Goldberg Variations or gazing up at the Sistine Chapel. But this spiritual experience can come only when we let our imaginations run free, constraining them in the straitjacket of skepticism only after they have furiously streaked across the sky of wonder. The first woman, when she asked what the stars were made of, did not ask for a p value.

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Ashutosh Jogalekar — 3quarksdaily

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Satya Nadella, Empath.


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On Satya Nadella’s book – “Hit Refresh”.

But the book isn’t a bomb. In fact, Nadella and his co authors avoid languishing in the standard wallows of management books. It’s broken into three neat sections. The first is Nadella’s personal journey, which feels both genuine and fundamental to his philosophy of management. It’s also a hell of a story. The second is an exploration of that philosophy, and how it drives his reshaping of Microsoft’s revised mission (I wrote about that mission here). The third section pulls back and considers the larger forces shaping business and society, with particular nods to major policy and technology trends shaping our future.

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John Battelle – Newco Shift

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An argument against Net Neutrality


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Good to come across another perspective on net neutrality.

Similarly, big companies will be in a better position to provide their content, but that’s already the case too. Currently they can spend more on advertising, or spend more on servers that are physically closer to their audience. A non-neutral net opens up one more margin of competition: paying for preferred treatment. This means less need to inefficiently invest physical resources for the same preferred treatment. (Hey, a non-neutral net is Green!)

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Rick Weber — Notes on Liberty

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Countering Russian Information Operations in the Age of Social Media


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Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have an important role to play in mitigating the effects of Russian messaging, but their primary objective is generating profits, not defending Western political systems. Attempts to introduce legislation or regulations to restrict online speech, even if they were targeted at Russian disinformation and trolls, could mirror Russian constraints on free expression and could be interpreted as running counter to the values Western societies seek to defend. Nevertheless, tech platforms have an interest in taking firm steps to prevent, for example, the hijacking of profiles of legitimate organizations and individuals for the purpose of disinformation. They also have an interest in cooperating with Western intelligence agencies, as this could provide them with greater understanding of how their systems are abused to systematically deceive their users, as well as of software bugs and other technical vulnerabilities in their products.

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Council on Foreign Relations

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Why do so few people major in computer science?


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This is for the US. Strange.

4. Immigrants are taking all the jobs. I submit there are two ways to see that immigrants aren’t meeting all the marginal demand. First, most immigrants who come to the US to work are on the H1B visa; and that number has been capped at 65,000 every year since 2004. (There are other visa programs available, but the H1B is the main one, and it doesn’t all go to software engineers.) Second, rising wages should be prima facie evidence that there’s a shortage of labor. If immigrants have flooded the market, then we should see that wages have declined; that hasn’t been the case.

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Dan Wang

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The Way Ahead


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Transcript of a lecture by Stephen Fry.

When I first found out about and joined the internet and watched it grow with the arrival of the www I described it to friends, whom I was anxious to convert and get themselves email addresses, as the greatest gathering of human beings in the history of the planet. As new services came on line and web 2.0 blossomed into the social media services we now know and perhaps rely on, I believed, I really believed, that humankind might well be saved by the all-gifted net. It would spread, art, literature, music, culture, philosophy, enlightenment and knowledge. In its train would come new freedoms, a new understanding between the peoples of the world, a new contract. This was to be our millennium’s Pandora, an all-gifted organism that would bring nothing but learning, understanding, amity, comity and friendship. I looked at budding projects like Wikipedia and I saw Diderot’s enlightenment dream becoming a reality. I saw art galleries and archives becoming freely available to all. I saw special interest groups able to exchange information and ideas with their fellows across the globe: whether it was coin-collecting, a love of a particular style of music, a shared pleasure in gaming, hiking or cosplay, a rare physical or mental disorder in common – suddenly people could contact each other across the world. Free translations, free lectures, tours, user-generated advice on travel, hunting for the best deals and bargains, sharing experience in all fields of human endeavour. Borders, barriers, frontiers and boundaries would melt and dissolve. An end to tribalism, racism, ignorance and fear. A new dawn for mankind. It was all good. You are allowed to laugh at my naivety, I do myself.

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Stephen Fry

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