Links for January 2021

by ike5 min read1st Feb 20211 comment

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World Optimization
Personal Blog

Previously: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/avqqNvhiZPkq5wQJW/links-for-dec-2020 

Favorites

https://www.lynalden.com/ethereum-analysis/ A really good economic analysis of Ethereum. Worth reading even if you don’t know much about it. 

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/01/25/have-we-already-been-visited-by-aliens “An eminent astrophysicist argues that signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life have appeared in our skies. What’s the evidence for his extraordinary claim?” tl;dr: Loeb, though, explicitly rejects the Sagan standard—“It is not obvious to me why extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” he observes—and flips its logic on its head: “Extraordinary conservatism keeps us extraordinarily ignorant.”

https://www.inputmag.com/reviews/is-samsung-galaxy-s21-ultra-using-ai-to-fake-detailed-moon-photos-investigation-super-resolution-analysis/amp”Is the Galaxy S21 Ultra using AI to fake detailed Moon photos?”

https://www.themoneyillusion.com/a-coasian-argument-for-a-parliamentary-system A market analysis of parliamentary systems 

Economics / Psychology

https://psyarxiv.com/3ntku/ Humans like to maximize entropy. 

https://www.nber.org/papers/w28299 “Market Structure and Extortion:Evidence from 50,000 Extortion Payment … We exploit a 2016 non-aggression pact between gangs to examine how collusion affects extortion in areas where gangs previously competed.” 

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1090513820301379 “Results show that taller people are more likely to have self-serving attitudes towards government redistribution of wealth. The result was robust to numerous control variables and alternative model specifications, but the direct effects of height were small.”

https://freakonomics.com/podcast/nsq-smarter-humans/ ”Are Humans Smarter or Stupider Than We Used to Be?”

https://news.yale.edu/2021/01/13/disagreeing-takes-lot-brain-real-estate ”it just takes a lot more brain real estate to disagree than to agree.”

https://twitter.com/MarcusOwen5/status/1351197150860996608?s=19 Stocks may be significantly riskier than is usually assumed. 

https://www.pnas.org/content/118/4/e2016976118 “Past research has found that experienced well-being does not increase above incomes of $75,000/y. ... Here, over one million real-time reports of experienced well-being from a large US sample show evidence that experienced well-being rises linearly with log income, with an equally steep slope above $80,000 as below it. “

Business

https://www.gamesradar.com/seamus-blackley-on-tricking-bill-gates-and-the-jedi-mind-tricks-that-were-needed-to-make-the-original-xbox/ They had to lie to Bill Gates and tell him the Xbox would run Windows to get it approved/shipped. 

https://twitter.com/MarkLutter/status/1344697860105924609 “Disney World can build a nuclear power plant under Florida law”

https://www.currentaffairs.org/2021/01/how-billionaires-see-themselves Nathan Robinson reads a bunch of books by billionaires.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/18/climate/carbon-removal-technology.html “Businesses Aim to Pull Greenhouse Gases From the Air. It’s a Gamble. A surge of corporate money could soon transform carbon removal from science fiction to reality. But there are risks: The very idea could offer industry an excuse to maintain dangerous habits.”

https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/parents-income-not-smarts-key-to-entrepreneurship-study-657058 “Those whose parents ranked in the top 20% of income but scored in the lower 50% in math on the Meitzav academic achievement test had a higher chance of becoming an entrepreneur than those whose parents’ income was among the lower 60% but scored in the top 10% in math.” 

AI/Robots

Via https://twitter.com/sharifshameem/status/1344246374737399808?s=20, https://opensource.apple.com/source/Chess/Chess-300.22/Sources/MBCEngine.mm.auto.html “In the interest of promoting harmonious Human - Machine relations, we enforce minimum response times.“

Two big updates from OpenAI: https://openai.com/blog/dall-e/, which can generate images from textual descriptions, and https://openai.com/blog/clip/, which can classify images. 

https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2021/01/06/tech/waymo-self-driving/index.html "This is more than just a branding or linguistic exercise," Waymo said in a blog post published Wednesday. "Precision in language matters and could save lives."

https://apjjf.org/2020/23/Schodt.html More provocatively, he stated that “to learn the Buddhist way is to perceive oneself as a robot” and that, conversely, “to learn the robot is to learn Buddhism.”

https://www.freethink.com/articles/robot-made-of-ice “Robot Made of Ice Can Repair and Rebuild Itself”

https://www.zebrium.com/blog/using-gpt-3-with-zebrium-for-plain-language-incident-root-cause-from-logs “Using GPT-3 for plain language incident root cause from logs”

https://venturebeat.com/2021/01/12/google-trained-a-trillion-parameter-ai-language-model/ “Google trained a trillion-parameter AI language model”

https://twitter.com/pranavrajpurkar/status/1351462869284528129?s=19”Does higher performance on ImageNet translate to higher performance on medical imaging tasks? Surprisingly, the answer is no!”

Covid

https://twitter.com/dakekang/status/1344345545033342977 China placed a bunch of restrictions on covid research on the direct orders of President Xi, per leaked documents 

General

https://medium.com/@lukehollomon/anesthesia-works-on-plants-too-and-we-dont-know-why-dc7ed8a89909 “Anesthesia Works on Plants Too, and We Don’t Know Why”

https://thereader.mitpress.mit.edu/when-birds-migrated-to-the-moon/ Where do birds go in winter? Why not the moon?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resignation_from_the_British_House_of_Commons MPs are not allowed to resign, so a loophole was created to appoint them to a null position such as “Crown Steward and Bailiff of the three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham”, which automatically disqualifies them from being an MP. “The Chiltern Hundreds last required an actual Steward in the 16th century.”

https://bert.org/2021/01/04/t2-pin-cracking/”Simulating the PIN cracking scene in Terminator 2”

https://sootyempiric.blogspot.com/2021/01/call-me-maybe-analysis-defence.html rational analysis of Call Me Maybe

https://slate.com/technology/2020/07/arctic-t3-murder-space.html “A bizarre 1970 Arctic killing over a jug of raisin wine shows that we need to think about crime outside our atmosphere now.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-england-tyne-55585065”'Human foot' in Gateshead field turns out to be potato”

https://www.vice.com/amp/en/article/m7apnn/your-cock-is-mine-now-hacker-locks-internet-connected-chastity-cage-demands-ransom “‘Your Cock Is Mine Now:’ Hacker Locks Internet-Connected Chastity Cage, Demands Ransom” Every word of that sounds like a bad idea. 

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/12/technology/bitcoin-passwords-wallets-fortunes.html “Lost Passwords Lock Millionaires Out of Their Bitcoin Fortunes”

https://www.vice.com/amp/en/article/n7vq4k/thousands-of-users-unknowingly-joined-signal-because-of-12-year-olds-app ”at least 10,000 Signal users can be attributed to a 12-year-old kid in India who created a somewhat popular clone of the encrypted chat app.”

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55660592 ”Australia to kill US pigeon that crossed Pacific”

https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/did-dinosaurs-sleep-at-night Did Dinosaurs Sleep at Night?

https://www.amsterdamclassictours.com/blog/the-children-strike-of-1972 “One of the most successful and earliest initiatives demanding safer streets took place in Amsterdam, in DePijp in 1972. This over-populated working-class district was known for the cluttered multi-children families confined to small houses - the streets were the natural playground.

The children invaded the streets and blocked all traffic, holding posters and banners. Cars were painted in graffiti with the words "Car Free" and violence escalated. City officials were forced to meet the children and hear their claims”

https://twitter.com/DustinHaltom/status/1350980896011251719 In 2003, The Great Sasuke was elected as the first masked legislator

https://twitter.com/maxseddon/status/1352280501764108289?s=19 Russians practicing their American accent to avoid getting arrested at protests. “I’m gonna call my lawyer.” Is this the cyberpunk future we were promised?

Science

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/dire-wolves-were-not-really-wolves-new-genetic-clues-reveal/ “Dire wolves, it now appeared, had evolved in the Americas and had no close kinship with the gray wolves from Eurasia; the last time gray wolves and dire wolves shared a common ancestor was about 5.7 million years ago. The strong resemblance between the two, the researchers say, is a case of convergent evolution, whereby different species develop similar adaptations—or even appearances—thanks to a similar way of life.”

https://nypost.com/2021/01/07/identical-twins-arent-perfect-clones-research-shows/amp/ “Identical twins are not exactly genetically the same, new research shows.

Scientists in Iceland sequenced DNA from 387 pairs of identical twins — those derived from a single fertilized egg — as well as from their parents, children and spouses. That allowed them to find “early mutations that separate identical twins,” said Kari Stefansson, a geneticist at the University of Iceland and the company deCODE genetics and co-author of the paper published Thursday in the journal Nature Genetics.”

https://nintil.com/newton-hypothesis “Fund people, not projects III: The Newton hypothesis; Is science done by a small elite?”

https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/the-ordovician-extinction-our-planets-first-brush-with-death “The Ordovician Extinction: Our Planet’s First Brush With Death”

https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/the-devonian-extinction-a-slow-doom-that-swept-our-planet “The Devonian Extinction: A Slow Doom That Swept Our Planet” 

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2021/01/has-science-solved-history-greatest-adventure-mystery-dyatlov/ “The bizarre deaths of hikers at Russia's Dyatlov Pass have inspired countless conspiracy theories, but the answer may lie in an elegant computer model based on surprising sources.”

https://phys.org/news/2021-01-early-life-full-false-positives.html “Experiments show the record of early life could be full of 'false positives'”

Physics / Space

https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/baby-universes-black-holes-dark-matter “Are we living in a baby universe that looks like a black hole to outsiders?” 

https://phys.org/news/2021-01-earth-faster.html Turns out there's a reason 2020 was the way that it was

https://phys.org/news/2021-01-mistaken-identity-presumed-supernova-rarer.html “Mistaken identity: A presumed supernova is actually something much rarer”

https://www.inverse.com/science/tardigrades-may-have-taken-over-the-moon ”In April 2019, the Israeli Beresheet spacecraft crash-landed on the Moon. Along for the ride were thousands of tiny creatures, which scientists now think may have spilled out and littered the lunar surface.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/a-theoretical-physicist-gets-down-to-the-basics/2021/01/07/c9e65468-47c7-11eb-975c-d17b8815a66d_story.html theoretical physicist Frank Wilczek offers a way to catch up. His latest book, “Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality,” attempts, according to the author, “to convey the central messages of modern physics as simply as possible.”

https://twitter.com/michael_nielsen/status/1349582263747448839?s=19 Weird solution to the Fermi paradox - aliens are communicating but it’s invisible to us because it’s encoded so efficiently it just looks like noise 

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/astronomers-observe-death-distant-galaxy-first-time/ “Astronomers observe the death of a distant galaxy for the first time” 

https://www.livescience.com/bumblebee-gravity-could-explain-dark-energy.html 'Bumblebee gravity' could explain why the universe is expanding so quickly

https://www.foxnews.com/science/nasa-finds-fewer-galaxies-than-first-thought NASA finds there are fewer galaxies than first thought, leaving the possibility we're alone in the universe

https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.01.12.426282v1 “Establishment of a closed artificial ecosystem to ensure human long-term survival on the moon”

https://www.sciencealert.com/a-new-state-of-matter-has-been-seen-in-a-thread-of-quantum-gas-for-the-first-time “For The First Time, a New State of Matter Has Been Observed in a Thread of Quantum Gas”

https://www.universetoday.com/149628/astronomers-see-a-hint-of-the-gravitational-wave-background-to-the-universe/ “Astronomers see a Hint of the Gravitational Wave Background to the Universe”

https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/01/nasas-space-launch-system-rocket-shuts-down-after-just-67-seconds/?amp=1 “After a decade, NASA’s big rocket fails its first real test” 

https://abc7.com/super-earth-planet-discovered-exoplanet-milky-way-galaxy/9754812 “Astronomers discover rare 'Super-Earth' outside of our solar system”

https://scitechdaily.com/improving-lidar-and-gps-breaking-through-the-resolution-barrier-with-quantum-limited-precision/ “Improving LIDAR and GPS: Breaking Through the Resolution Barrier With Quantum-Limited Precision”

https://www.space.com/early-universe-holographic-phase-transition-gravitational-waves “Did a holographic phase transition in the early universe release gravitational waves?”

https://scitechdaily.com/all-468-stars-in-milky-way-stellar-stream-theia-456-are-related/ All 468 Stars in Milky Way Stellar Stream Theia 456 Are Related – “It’s Like Finding a Needle in a Haystack”

https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-observe-and-directly-measure-polarons-for-the-first-time “Physicists Observe Fleeting 'Polaron' Quasiparticles For The First Time”

https://www.anl.gov/article/pivotal-discovery-in-quantum-and-classical-information-processing “Pivotal discovery in quantum and classical information processing”

https://arxiv.org/abs/2101.09837 An alternate explanation for the evidence behind the claims of phosphine on Venus. 

https://www.sciencealert.com/in-a-world-first-physicists-have-steeply-narrowed-down-the-mass-range-of-dark-matter/amp “In a World First, Physicists Narrow Down The Possible Mass of Dark Matter”

https://www.sciencealert.com/stupendously-large-is-the-new-category-for-black-hole-sizing-and-we-are-here-for-it “Black Holes Could Get So Humongous, Astronomers Came Up With a New Size Category” (spoiler: stupendously large black holes)

https://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/9250/when-does-somebody-living-in-space-e-g-iss-observe-shabbat “When does somebody living in space (e.g. ISS) observe Shabbat?” Possible answers: never, the place you live on Earth (but what if you’ve moved permanently?), etc

https://forward.com/opinion/463295/the-jewish-space-laser-agency-responds-we-didnt-start-the-fire/ ”The Jewish Space Laser Agency responds: We didn’t start the fire”

https://tritonstation.com/2021/01/31/does-newtons-constant-vary/amp/”Does Newton’s Constant Vary?”

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/01/cloak-and-dagger-tale-behind-year-s-most-anticipated-result-particle-physics “The cloak-and-dagger tale behind this year’s most anticipated result in particle physics”

https://www.discovermagazine.com/the-sciences/why-the-recent-signal-that-appeared-to-come-from-proxima-centauri-almost “Why The Recent Signal That Appeared to Come From Proxima Centauri Almost Certainly Didn't”

Math

https://www.quantamagazine.org/how-i-learned-to-love-and-fear-the-riemann-hypothesis-20210104/ ”How I Learned to Love and Fear the Riemann Hypothesis”

https://www.quantamagazine.org/new-quantum-algorithms-finally-crack-nonlinear-equations-20210105/ ”New Quantum Algorithms Finally Crack Nonlinear Equations”

https://www.quantamagazine.org/ the-crooked-geometry-of-round-trips-20210113/ ”Imagine if we lived on a cube-shaped Earth. How would you find the shortest path around the world?”

http://alexanderganderson.github.io/engineering/2021/01/23/integer_indeterminism.html Broke: 2+2=5. Woke: “Why can 2 times 3 sometimes equal 7?”

Philosophy

http://alexanderpruss.blogspot.com/2021/01/a-vicious-circularity-in-one-kind-of.html “A vicious circularity in one kind of moral relativism”

https://www.newyorker.com/books/under-review/sciences-demons-from-descartes-to-darwin-and-beyond “Canales has gathered together in one book demons with very different origins and responsibilities—among them the scientist James Clerk Maxwell’s demon, the physicist David Bohm’s demon, the philosopher John Searle’s demon, and the naturalist Charles Darwin’s demon.”

https://fantasticanachronism.com/2021/01/11/are-experts-real/ “Are Experts Real?”

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-the-schroedinger-equation-true/ “Is the Schrödinger Equation True?” Interestingly, Scientific American classifies this as math, and it could technically be considered physics, but I’m putting it under philosophy. 

https://aeon.co/essays/what-albert-einstein-owes-to-david-humes-notion-of-time “Two centuries before Einstein, Hume recognised that universal time, independent of an observer’s viewpoint, doesn’t exist”

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https://twitter.com/pranavrajpurkar/status/1351462869284528129?s=19”Does higher performance on ImageNet translate to higher performance on medical imaging tasks? Surprisingly, the answer is no!”

If you goodheart too much on ImageNet (things like learning the difference between drog breeds) then you don't get better medical imaging tasks.