A Big Flywheel That Has Changed Everything

1 year ago


Text only:

For those that don't know, I'm working on a major project about the global trade, logistics, the port of Oakland, and automation. If you or someone you know works in (or adjacent to) those fields, definitely get in touch. 
1. Among many, this could be the most disastrous move for US climate policy.


"Meanwhile, Politico reports that the Heritage Foundation senior research fellow, Steven Groves, has been added to Trump’s State Department transition team. Just last week, Groves called for the United States to leave the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the overarching treaty that governs how the world organizes itself to address global warming. Groves also said the U.S. should move to 'dismantle' domestic climate regulations. A staffing choice isn’t a firm policy decision, but there isn’t much ambiguity about the Trump administration’s intentions so far. Trump may be sounding a new tune on the existence of climate change. But his policy team seems to want to both squash research about it while withdrawing the United States from any diplomatic attempts to do anything about it. That’s the Trump two-step."


2. Hype-man tone aside, this is a nice roundup of what's happening in agricultural automation.


"One report, by US firm WinterGreen Research, forecasts that the market will grow from $817m (£655m) in 2013 to $16.3bn (£13bn) by 2020. But investment bank Goldman Sachs is far more bullish, predicting a $240bn market over the next five years. Manufacturers including John Deere, CNH Industrial and AGCO are all fighting to corner the market in driverless tractors. As well as big kit, small kit is giving farmers up-to-the-second data on the state of their fields and produce - what Dr Roland Leidenfrost of Deepfield Robotics calls the 'internet of plants and fields.' Bosch start-up Deepfield, based in Germany, is working to automate the growing and testing of seed crops, tracking the susceptibility to weeds and drought of different genetic varieties."


3. It's fascinating that to a user, not much has changed about Google, Facebook, Microsoft, or Amazon services, but under the hood ... there's been tremendous change.


"Facebook, meanwhile, runs its own AI research lab as well as a Brain-like team known as the Applied Machine Learning Group. Its mission is to push AI across the entire family of Facebook products, and according chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer, it’s already working: one in five Facebook engineers now make use of machine learning. Schroepfer calls the tools built by Facebook’s Applied ML group 'a big flywheel that has changed everything' inside the company. 'When they build a new model or build a new technique, it immediately gets used by thousands of people working on products that serve billions of people,' he says. Twitter has built a similar team, called Cortex, after acquiring several AI startups."


4. The first documented C-section.


"When and where did both mother and child first survive a C-section? Would you have guessed medieval Prague in the winter of 1337? Neither would most historians, until a team of Czech researchers recently found an apparent case at the court of John the Blind, King of Bohemia and Count of Luxembourg."


5. A coda about typewriters, gender, and cryptography.


"Apart from a range of typesetting features, such as letter-spacing and underline, this children's toy was capable of encoding and decoding secret messages, using one of 4 built-in cipher modes. These modes were activated by entering a special key sequence on the keyboard, and was explained only in the original documentation. When the E-115 was adopted by Mattel as an addition to the Barbie product line, it was aimed mainly at girls with a minimum age of 5 years. For this reason the product was given a pink-and-purple case and the Barbie logo and image were printed on the body. As it was probably thought that secret writing would not appeal to girls, the coding/decoding facilities were omitted from the manual."


1. theatlantic.com 2. bbc.com 3. wired.com 4. nytimes.com 5. cryptomuseum.com | @mwichary
HOUSE NEWS! A brief explanation of a change to these credits: I'm using the main Twitter timeline less and less. Generally, I'm now using Nuzzel to find links posted to Twitter without going to Twitter.com. And Nuzzel clumps links together that are shared by multiple people, so in those cases, it'd be weird to pick a credit from 5 people or include all 5. But I am gonna keep including credits when I saw a link via an individual person (through email, Twitter, or any other avenue), as with Marcin Wichary above. 


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A Big Flywheel That Has Changed Everything


5it by Alexis Madrigal
Fairview Park Oakland, CA 94618 USA
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