Between 2000 and 2013, a network of sensors that monitors Earth around the clock listening for the infrasound signature of nuclear detonations detected 26 explosions on Earth ranging in energy from 1 to 600 kilotons – all caused not by nuclear explosions, but rather by asteroid impacts. These findings were recently released from the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, which operates the network.
NASA is inviting applications from social media enthusiasts to witness the Orbital Sciences Corporation's Antares rocket launch at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on June 10th. Only 50 applicants will be invited to attend. Application for credentials is open until May 9th for US citizens.
A 2014 survey reveals that executives currently see themselves as having excellent access to capital, the ability meet many performance goals in their companies, and more ease in selling their products than ever before. Metrics for innovation and high tech growth are the best they've been in 5 years.
However, despite a full 76 percent of companies wishing to expand their workforce, 91 percent of executives say it’s challenging to find workers with the skills and experience necessary to grow their business. That’s up from 2013, when 87 percent took this view.
Toby Ord recently observed: “I have been surprised to see that some of my friends and acquaintances in the effective altruism community identify as Negative Utilitarians. Negative Utilitarianism (NU) is treated as a non-starter in mainstream philosophical circles, and to the best of my knowledge has never been supported by any mainstream philosopher, living or dead. This is quite an amazing lack of support: one can usually find philosophers who support any named position. On considering the theory in some detail, I cannot help but agree that the philosophical community has got this one right.”
Furthermore, HIV is quite fragile. It can’t sustain itself outside the human body very well and dies as soon as any blood containing it dries. So condoms laced with HIV would have to be sealed quickly and completely. This is doable if it is done in a factory setting. Achieving a good seal with a new wrapper would be difficult but possible with around $5000 in used sealing equipment.
Assuming you had some HIV+ individuals whose blood you could milk for virus, you could likely fill about 9000 condoms per pint of blood and withdraw one pint a month. Culturing it outside the body would be quite difficult and probably not worth the hassle since the lifecycle of HIV requires human blood of some sort anyway. Maybe if you kept a vat of human blood at room temperature, you could mix in uninfected blood as feedstock and continue culturing blood without needing to milk only infected individuals, but keeping the blood fresh enough over time and preventing it from drying out could be difficult.
However, the main problem would probably be temperature. Although HIV can survive in needles for up to 42 days when refrigerated around +4 degrees C, needles whose temperature rises even a little above room temperature (or to the common room temperature in much of Africa) can’t survive even a week. So even if someone wanted to, it looks like it would be quite difficult to successfully plant HIV in condoms… at least any condoms destined to be distributed in Africa.
If you’ve ever twisted your ankle or bruised your knee, you’ve probably heard the advice:
RICE = Rest + Ice + Compression + Elevation.
It’s one of the most central dogmas of sports medicine. And now the same doctor who coined the term “RICE” in 1978 has reviewed the scientific evidence and reversed his decision. Specifically, Rest and Ice are *NOT* advisable for injuries that are over 6 hours old. It turns out Ice, Rest, and Anti-Inflammatories all delay healing, rather than speed it up. Oops!
Want to make life a little easier on those slightly miserable, early-morning versions of yourself? I recommend the 4-Chamber Wall-Mounted Shower Product Dispenser.
I recently got one and it makes my morning routine way more bearable. It seems ridiculous that avoiding handling a few bottles could matter, but it’s a big subjective difference to eliminate even 2-3 trivial inconveniences from the early part of my day when my brain isn’t actually functioning yet. Makes my bathroom less cluttered too.
Molly Fitzpatrick recently suggested that perhaps 23andMe has a future as a dating service. While her proposal probably involves a bit too much incest for the average single, there's another proposal I recently dreamed up that may be even more promising.
Here's the 3 steps that could turn 23andMe into a turn-key OkCupid:
3. Either 23andMe or an enterprising 3rd party developer could create a lightweight app that compares the HLA data from 23andMe and mines it for anti-correlation. You can at least check people on a case by case basis and see if for instance, you and your current partner have the genes for robust, magnetic compatibility.
I fully expect that this kind of screen would reject close relatives as "subjectively unappealing to you" and would also find most people who found each other attractive could be identified correctly too.
The real question is whether the incomplete HLA data available via 23andMe and the currently limited knowledge of HLA/oder data has enough power to discriminate and reject most of the people who you're only so-so matches with. If someone starts working on this, let me know. Online dating is a wasteland of pho-innovation but this kind of "OkCupid meets 23andMe" idea is the kind of startup idea revolutionary enough that even I would invest in it.
My friend Jed McCaleb is launching a new cryptocurrency startup. I expect it has unusually high expected value and recommend you interview for a job with him now while you still can.
Cycorp is hiring full-time Artificial Intelligence Programmers in Austin, TX to work on accelerating theorem proving algorithms.
From the ad: "Cyc is the world’s largest AI program, with millions of rules written in full first order logic and beyond (meta- and meta-meta- reasoning, reflection, modals, contexts, etc.). Our inference engine programmers are continually experimenting with novel, clever ways to chip away at the exponents plaguing conventional theorem proving algorithms. Do you have what it takes to join this effort?"
MIRI recently released a working paper jointly written by Benja Fallenstein and Nate Soares. It highlights several self-referential paradoxes that self-modifying AGIs could run into. These issues exist even for future AGIs that use the most advanced environmental reasoning framework currently proposed by any AGI researcher. They also show how even more fundamental problems exist which hobble the most naive reasoning AGIs could do about their environment (ie, standard reinforcement learning).
Stuart Armstrong and Kaj Sotala recently published a new paper in the Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence. Among other things, they confirm the well-known predictive adage that, "AI is always 20 years away". Abstract:
Predicting the development of artificial intelligence (AI) is a difficult project – but a vital one, according to some analysts. AI predictions are already abound: but are they reliable? This paper starts by proposing a decomposition schema for classifying them. Then it constructs a variety of theoretical tools for analysing, judging and improving them. These tools are demonstrated by careful analysis of five famous AI predictions: the initial Dartmouth conference, Dreyfus’s criticism of AI, Searle’s Chinese room paper, Kurzweil’s predictions in the Age of Spiritual Machines, and Omohundro’s ‘AI drives’ paper. These case studies illustrate several important principles, such as the general overconfidence of experts, the superiority of models over expert judgement and the need for greater uncertainty in all types of predictions. The general reliability of expert judgement in AI timeline predictions is shown to be poor, a result that fits in with previous studies of expert competence.
If you're staffing up an early stage startup or growing a small nonprofit, I recommend reading through Adam Smith's fantastic four part guide on hiring great people.
There are many details, but the key points are: Don't hire even a single bad employee Hire from your network Recruiters are a nightmare -- don't do it! Have high standards -- interview few / hire fewer Test what the employee will do on the team in your interview Hire with commitment and momentum once you decide Pay market wages -- lower/higher both backfire for different reasons
A year ago, my MacBook was so slow that it often couldn’t take in text as fast as I could type it. I was going to buy a whole new computer, but then I eliminated the sluggishness just by replacing the hard drive with an SSD.
I got a Crucial M500 256GB but today I would get the Crucial M550.
Lots of people can paint. Heck, even elephants can paint. But who can paint with their breasts?! Basically just my friend Mason.
From her website: “I’m a computer science junkie, animal lover, and psychology student. I volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation center and paint with my boobs in my free time. I like to pretend my feet are raptors. RAWR!”
Roman Yampolskiy recently published a new article in the Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, that touches on themes from FAI research, including “counterfeit utility”, literalness, and wireheading.
From the abstract: “The notion of ‘wireheading’, or direct reward centre stimulation of the brain, is a well known concept in neuroscience. In this paper, we examine the corresponding issue of reward (utility) function integrity in artificially intelligent machines. We survey the relevant literature and propose a number of potential solutions to ensure the integrity of our artificial assistants.”
“Overall, we conclude that wireheading in rational self improving optimisers above a certain capacity remains an unsolved problem despite opinion of many that such machines will choose not to wirehead. A relevant issue of literalness in goal setting also remains largely unsolved and we suggest that the development of a non-ambiguous knowledge transfer language might be a step in the right direction.”
In 2010, the primary provider of lipids used in American hospitals noticed that they weren't very profitable... so they stopped producing them. I guess they're allowed to do that. The main problem though was that the FDA took almost 4 years from that point to agree that US hospitals were allowed to import European lipids (fats) for feeding patients who could only eat via IV feeding solutions (otherwise called Total Parenteral Nutrition or TPN).
In the intervening years, hospitals simply fed patients pure dextrose, vitamins, and amino acids with no fats to buffer the insulin shocks these incomplete formulas caused. Most patients in this situation quickly lost skin elasticity, had their hair weaken / fall out, or in the most extreme cases, patients could begin suffering macular degeneration or accelerated diabetes symptoms.
Fortunately for hospital administrators, patients on TPN have such poor outcomes already that individual families probably couldn't reliably connect their loved ones' more rapid declines in health directly to the incomplete feeding formulas hospitals were supplying them. And even though it sounds absurd that there could be FDA-induced drug shortages for basic medical supplies in the US, unfortunately, this has only become more common over time.
In 2010 there were 178 drug shortages reported to the FDA of which 132 were sterile injectable drugs. The number of reported shortages increased to 251 in 2011, 183 of which involved sterile injectable drugs. As of February 28, 2013 there were 324 medications in short supply and of these 228 (70%) are sterile injectables. All PN products except dextrose and water have been in short supply at some point since spring of 2010.
Translation: US healthcare regulators aren't even trying. Basic products like saline and lipids have gone into shortages due to the FDA setting up a system that can never self-correct with market forces. Instead, problems can only be fixed in a reactionary manner, months or years after disaster strikes via emergency FDA action to temporarily allow imports after shortages become intolerable. This gives the FDA several opportunities a year to announce that they have heroically ended drug shortages... while ignoring that their policies insured the shortages would be created in the first place.
And of course, no other first world country suffers these types of shortages because no other country prohibits importation of basic medical supplies. If this was happening anywhere else in the world, we'd be airlifting supplies and dropping them directly to the people as a humanitarian response. But because it's America, we all just shrug and say something about how our healthcare system is "broken".
Even though it's just salt water, somehow US manufacturers of saline dropped the ball and can no longer produce enough for domestic use.
Fortunately, Norway had excess and was willing to sell to US markets during the emergency. So the FDA sprang into action... by sitting on their hands for 2 months before approving the overseas delivery (from the exact same company who sells in the US already).
Seriously... why can't I live in a functioning civilization?
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