good distortions, humility is overrated & stable diffusion
CC#47 - Social Media Trends, Political Debunking & Moving Asteroids
Hey there and welcome to ✨ CuratedCuriosity - a bi-weekly newsletter delivering inspiration from all over the internet to the notoriously curious.
Things I Enjoyed Reading.
⟫ Effectiveness beats Accuracy
This article makes the case why its actually beneficial for us (mostly from an evolutionary point of view) to have a distorted view of the world (with regards to specific topics) and why it thus is not always worthwhile to strive for rational decision making.
We believe stuff because it benefits us to believe it, not necessarily because it is true. Phrased that way, it seems like an obvious point—of course evolution made us like that, what else could it have done? But this has surprising explanatory power. (…) For most of us, what we do with our lives isn’t cosmically significant. But if you can delude yourself a little bit that your Important Projects are going to Change the World, this will probably make you better at what you do, and ultimately help you collect more grubby resources and status and so on. (…) The term “cognitive biases” is arguably misleading in that it suggests that believing truth would be a kind of default. Arguably, it’s amazing that we manage to believe the truth at all. If you want your beliefs to be accurate, you’re constantly swimming against your own biology and instincts.
📱 Instagram, TikTok, and the Three Trends
Whats happening and how will AI change how we consume online content? Interesting deep dive into the evolution of Social Media. Main Takeaway: we are in the middle of a shift from social-graph-based to algorithm-based.
If there is one axiom that governs the consumer Internet — consumer anything, really — it is that convenience matters more than anything. That was the problem with Twitter: it just wasn’t convenient for nearly enough people to figure out how to follow the right people. It was Facebook, which digitized offline relationships, that dominated the social media space.
Facebook’s social graph was the ultimate growth hack: from the moment you created an account Facebook worked assiduously to connect you with everyone you knew or wish you knew from high school, college, your hometown, workplace, you name an offline network and Facebook digitized it. Of course this meant that there were far too many updates and photos to keep track of, so Facebook ranked them, and presented them in a feed that you could scroll endlessly. (..)
What made Facebook’s News Feed work was the application of ranking: from the very beginning the company tried to present users the content from their network that it thought you might be most interested in, mostly using simple signals and weights. Over time this ranking algorithm has evolved into a machine-learning driven model that is constantly iterating based on every click and linger, but on the limited set of content constrained by who you follow. Recommendations is the step beyond ranking: now the pool is not who you follow but all of the content on the entire network; it is a computation challenge that is many orders of magnitude beyond mere ranking.
🎤 Entertaining interview with Economics Professor Tyler Cowen on (amongst other things) how he spots talent, why he regards humility, stimulants & intelligence are overrated and how he came to the conclusion that sex is pessimistic.
Food for Thought.
😮 It’s confirmed - NASA successfully managed to change the trajectory of an asteroid!
🧐 Should scientific journals publish ‘political debunking’ or is this a dangerous move that might lead to more biased science?
Earlier this week, the “news and analysis” section of the journal Science (the second-most-prestigious scientific journal, after Nature) published something I found quite surprising. It was a point-by-point rebuttal of a monologue a few days earlier from the Fox News show Tucker Carlson Tonight, where the eponymous host excoriated Dr. Anthony Fauci, of “seen everywhere during the pandemic” fame.
💣 A list of reasons that speak against Russia launching any nuclear weapons - not great but at least somewhat comforting.
🖼 Recently a new generative art AI model called ‘Stable Diffusion’ has been realized and its (1) impressive AND (2) open source. Also you can play around with it a fair bit for free. In fact, this week’s newsletter header picture has been created with it (only added the edition number).
🖥 Scientists have built the first processor core based on ‘posits’ - a new kind of number representation. Posits need less storage than the traditional ‘floats’ and are thus expected to help huge speed ups in AI training times to come about.
📈 There is always yet an argument why its not causal…
Really enjoying the surprisingly nice Danish autumn so far 🍁
Heading off for some travel adventures in a week: Stockholm (I got the chance to join the “Future Academy” - not sure what to expect from it, but curious to find out) → Cologne → Brussles (Looking forward to some new Data Act Insights at the Allied For Startups yearly summit) → Vienna.