Donna Tartt on “The writhing loathsomeness of the biological order”

I haven't enjoyed the Goldfinch but this 321 words made the other 3-400k worthwhile: 

“.. depression wasn't the word. This was a plunge encompassing sorrow and revulsion far beyond the personal: a sick, drenching nausea at all humanity and human endeavour from the dawn of time. The writhing loathsomeness of the biological order. Old age, sickness, death. No escape for anyone. Even the beautiful ones were like soft fruit about to spoil. And yet somehow people still kept fucking and breeding and popping out new fodder for the grave, producing more and more new beings to suffer like this was some kind of redemptive, or good, or even somehow morally admirable thing: dragging more innocent creatures into the lose-lose game. Squirming babies and plodding, complacent, hormone-drugged moms. Oh, isn't he cute? Awww. Kids shouting and skidding in the playground with no idea what future Hells await them: boring jobs and ruinous mortgages and bad marriages and hair loss and hip replacements and lonely cups of coffee in an empty house and a colostomy bag at the hospital. Most people seemed satisfied with the thin decorative glaze and the artful stage lighting that sometimes, made the bedrock atrocity of the human predicament look somewhat more mysterious or less abhorrent. People gambled and golfed and planted gardens and traded stocks and had sex and bought new cars and practiced yoga and worked and prayed and redecorated their homes and got worked up over the news and fussed over their children and gossiped about their neighbors and pored over restaurant reviews and founded charitable organizations and supported political candidates and attended the U.S. Open and dined and travelled and distracted themselves with all kinds of gadgets and devices, flooding themselves incessantly with information and texts and communication and entertainment from every direction to try to make themselves forget it: where we were, what we were. But in a strong light there was no good spin you could put on it. It was rotten from top to bottom.”

 

 

 

Source: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/929096-bu...

FUN: Elle O'Brien's ML generated 'Romance Novel' Titles

Elle O'Brien, computational scientist, software developer and science writer on her fascination with romance novels .. " — the kind they sell at the drugstore for a couple of dollars, usually with some attractive, soft-lit couples on the cover. So when I started futzing around with text-generating neural networks a few weeks ago, I developed an urgent curiosity to discover what artificial intelligence could contribute to the ever-popular genre. Maybe one day there will be entire books written by computers. For now, let’s start with titles.

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Technological Wild Cards: Existential Risk and a Changing Humanity - OpenMind

Humanity has already changed a lot over its lifetime as a species. While our biology is not drastically different than it was 70,000 years ago, the capabilities enabled by our scientific, technological, and sociocultural achievements have changed what it is to be human. Whether through the processes of agriculture, the invention of the steam engine, or the practices of storing and passing on knowledge and ideas, and working together effectively as large groups, we have dramatically augmented our biological abilities. We can lift heavier things than our biology allows, store and access more information than our brains can hold, and collectively solve problems that we could not individually.

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The Technium

Why I don’t fear super intelligence.

It is wise to think through the implications of new technology. I understand the good intentions of Jaron Lanier and others who have raised an alarm about AI. But I think their method of considering the challenges of AI relies too much on fear, and is not based on the evidence we have so far

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Researcher reveals 4 happiness rituals - Business Insider

You get all kinds of happiness advice on the internet from people who don't know what they're talking about. Don't trust them.

Actually, don't trust me either. Trust neuroscientists. They study that gray blob in your head all day and have learned a lot about what truly will make you happy.

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Artificial Intelligence Is Stuck. Here’s How to Move It Forward. - The New York Times

Artificial Intelligence is colossally hyped these days, but the dirty little secret is that it still has a long, long way to go. Sure, A.I. systems have mastered an array of games, from chess and Go to “Jeopardy” and poker, but the technology continues to struggle in the real world. Robots fall over while opening doors, prototype driverless cars frequently need human intervention, and nobody has yet designed a machine that can read reliably at the level of a sixth grader, let alone a college student. Computers that can educate themselves — a mark of true intelligence — remain a dream.

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When Is Speech Violence?


If words can cause stress, and if prolonged stress can cause physical harm, then it seems that speech — at least certain types of speech — can be a form of violence. But which types?

This question has taken on some urgency in the past few years, as professed defenders of social justice have clashed with professed defenders of free speech on college campuses

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Design Indaba 2017: what you missed and whether it matters

Sometimes. When people write REALLY lovely things about me. I keep them. Especially as it is the very very very last thing she mentions and I thought I was (understandably) not going to get a mention at all.

http://wantedonline.co.za/voices/column/2017-03-14-emdesign-indaba-2017em-what-you-missed-and-whether-it-matters/

My personal favourite: delightful and profound, philosophical in a way that doesn't alienate the somewhat intellectually lazy (me).

TL “Tea” Uglow is creative director of Google's Creative Lab. A brilliant, quicksilver visionary whose mind darts through her multiple interests ranging from non-linear, immersive storytelling to quantum physics to the nature of reality, about which she says “your confidence in your reality is very, very misplaced”. It is really worth looking up her body of work, which frequently explores how we can use tech to augment traditional art forms; notably a reimagining of digital books as non-linear and interactive.  Her closing words were “… maybe between us we can deal with this multi-dimensional, non-linear, information-saturated world,” and out of all the speakers, she left me feeling hopeful that perhaps the future is not a dystopian episode of Black Mirror, and that perhaps, between us, we can.

Source: http://wantedonline.co.za/voices/column/20...