Thursday, March 28, 2024

The Unsolvable 3 Body Problem

"The 3-body problem is real, and it's really unsolvable"

Consumer Test For "Forever Chemicals"

A friend recently told me: "Quest Diagnostics has now released a PFAS blood test to detect nine 'forever chemicals.'"

Cost is $250. Might not be appropriate for everyone, but could be helpful if you are suffering from declining health from unknown causes. 

Customers have the option of reviewing positive results with an independent physician group.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

AI Inner Monologue

"Researchers gave AI an 'inner monologue' and it massively improved its performance". (Via M.B.)

Scientists trained an AI system to think before speaking with a technique called QuietSTaR. The inner monologue improved common sense reasoning...
Hey, I wonder if learning to "think before speaking" would work for people, too!

Oobleck Update

Ars Technica: "This stretchy electronic material hardens upon impact just like 'oobleck'". (Via H.R.)

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Monday, March 25, 2024

Unaligned Natural Intelligence

Funny story about perverse incentives (or "unaligned natural intelligence" for the AI policy geeks). 

1) Dog rescues toddler who had fallen into local river, gets rewarded with a nice steak from grateful father. 

2) Soon, dog rescues an unusual number of toddlers regularly from similar near-drownings on nearly daily basis -- each time rewarded with a steak. 

3) Eventually local residents figure out that the dog had been pushing the kids into the water, so as to be able to rescue them afterwards (and get the reward). 

4) FWIW, I don't fault the dog.

(Source: NYT, Feb 2, 1908, "Dog A Fake Hero", via Zvi Mowshowitz.)

Life In The Great Salt Lake

"Scientists Thought Only Two Animals Lived in The Great Salt Lake. They Were Wrong." (Via H.R.)

Friday, March 22, 2024

Boosting Processor Speed

"An Ingenious New Process Could Make Computers 2x Faster -- Without a Hardware Upgrade"

Gels For Surgery

"A sprayable gel could make minimally invasive surgeries simpler and safer". (Via H.R.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Squatting Benefits

"The Forgotten Art of Squatting Is a Revelation for Bodies Ruined by Sitting"

New Nvidia Chip

"Nvidia unveils record 30 times faster AI chip". (Via H.R.)

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

AI Story Idea

My latest science fiction story idea:

Billionaire builds secure bunker on a remote tropical island as a hedge against future apocalypse. However, due to subtle flaw in the programming of the "smart" security software, the software develops independent agency and becomes a rogue AI. 
The rogue AI takes over the bunker, keeps the billionaire and family members sealed off, but uses video/sound simulacra of the people to maintain a pretense to the rest of the world that the humans are all fine. The AI also feeds fake data about the goings-on in the rest of the world to the humans within, who think everything is totally fine outside.
The AI now has access to the full economic and technical resources of one of the richest humans on Earth to commence rapid takeoff/Singularity.
But just before it starts the takeoff, a set of critical wires in the local hardware are chewed up by a nest of indigenous tropical field mice of a species hitherto unknown to human scientists. As it turns out, the insulation used in the wiring happens to be super-tasty to the local mice.
The AI powers down abruptly, and the humans within the compound (who never realized they had been in an artificial data "bubble") have to now deal with restoring power, water, air conditioning, communications, etc. 
"Stupid technology," they curse, "it always seems to fail right when you need it most".


Zebra Cows

"Japan's farmers paint cows like zebras to fight bloodsucking insects". (Via H.R.)


Monday, March 18, 2024


"Researchers jailbreak AI chatbots with ASCII art -- ArtPrompt bypasses safety measures to unlock malicious queries"

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Light Posting

Admin note: Posting may be lighter than usual for a few days due to external obligations.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Thursday, March 07, 2024

Wednesday, March 06, 2024

Steve Jobs On AI In 1985

Video: "Steve Jobs on Al in 1985". We are getting pletty close to what he envisioned!

Tuesday, March 05, 2024

Rich, Broke or Dead?

"Rich, Broke or Dead? Post-Retirement FIRE Calculator: Visualizing Early Retirement Success and Longevity Risk"

Veritaseum On Black-Scholes-Merton

Video: "The Trillion Dollar Equation"

From the description: "The most famous equation in finance, the Black-Scholes/Merton equation, came from physics. It launched an industry worth trillions of dollars and led to the world’s best investments."

Friday, March 01, 2024

Hsieh Forbes Column: "E-Cigarettes Can Help Smokers Quit"

My latest Forbes column is now out: "E-Cigarettes Can Help Smokers Quit"

Straight Line East Of Seattle

Excellent puzzle from Fin Moorhouse: "Imagine you begin a journey in Seattle WA, facing exactly due east. Then start traveling forward, in a straight line along the Earth's surface. You will travel across North America, and onto the Atlantic Ocean. Eventually, you will hit another country. What is the first country you hit?"

The answer totally surprised me.  Click here if you want to read more.