The Eyes of Texas

 The Eyes of Texas Sorry for the blogging interruption. I’m at the annual AAU (Association of American Universities) meeting of Senior Research Officers in Austin, Texas. UT Austin has a beautiful clock tower just up the street from our hotel. As pretty as it is I couldn’t help but think about the 1966 tower sniper (45 …

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A Professor meets the Alt-Right

A Professor meets the Alt-Right Thomas Main, Professor in the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College, is working on a book about the Alt-Right, to be published by Brookings. Below you can listen to a conversation between Main and prominent Alt-Right figure Mike Enoch (pseudonym). It’s an interesting encounter between academic political theory and …

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On the military balance of power in the Western Pacific

Some observations concerning the military balance of power in Asia. Even “experts” I have spoken to over the years seem to be confused about basic realities that are fundamental to strategic considerations. 1. Modern missile and targeting technology make the survivability of surface ships (especially carriers) questionable. Satellites can easily image surface ships and missiles …

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Ratchets Within Rachets

For those interested in political philosophy, or Trump’s travel ban, I recommend this discussion on Scott Aaronson’s blog, which features a commenter calling himself Boldmug (see also Bannon and Moldbug in the news recently ;-) Both Scott and Boldmug seem to agree that scientific/technological progress is a positive ratchet caught within a negative ratchet of societal and …

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Baby Universes in the Laboratory

This was on the new books table at our local bookstore. I had almost forgotten about doing an interview and corresponding with the author some time ago. See also here and here. The book is a well-written overview of some of the more theoretical aspects of inflationary cosmology, the big bang, the multiverse, etc. It also …

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Oppenheimer on Bohr (1964 UCLA)

Oppenheimer on Bohr (1964 UCLA) I came across this 1964 UCLA talk by Oppenheimer, on his hero Niels Bohr. Oppenheimer: Mathematics is “an immense enlargement of language, an ability to talk about things which in words would be simply inaccessible.” I find it strange that psychometricians usually define “verbal ability” over a vocabulary set that …

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The Gulf is Deep (Heinlein)

  The novella Gulf predates almost all of Heinlein’s novels. Online version. The book Friday (1982) is a loose sequel. Wikipedia: Gulf is a novella by Robert A. Heinlein, originally published as a serial in the November and December 1949 issues of Astounding Science Fiction and later collected in Assignment in Eternity. It concerns a secret society …

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AlphaGo (BetaGo?) Returns

Rumors over the summer suggested that AlphaGo had some serious problems that needed to be fixed — i.e., whole lines of play that it pursued poorly, despite its thrashing of one of the world’s top players in a highly publicized match. But tuning a neural net is trickier than tuning, for example, an expert system …

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Will and Power

The claim that one has a fixed budget of will power or self-discipline (“ego depletion“) may be yet another non-replicating “result” of shoddy social science. Note that the ego depletion claim refers to something like a daily budget of will power that can be used up, whereas Jocko is also referring to the development of …

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Varieties of Time Travel

My kids have been reading lots of books over the break, including an adventure series that involves time travel. Knowing vaguely that dad is a theoretical physicist, they asked me how time travel works. 1. Can one change history by influencing past events? OR 2. Is there only one timeline that cannot be altered, even …

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Time and Memory

Over the holiday I started digging through my mom’s old albums and boxes of photos. I found some pictures I didn’t know existed! Richard Feynman and the 19 year old me at my Caltech graduation: With my mom that morning — hung-over, but very happy! I think those are some crazy old school Ray Bans …

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Toward A Geometry of Thought

Apologies for the blogging hiatus — I’m in California now for the holidays :-) In case you are looking for something interesting to read, I can share what I have been thinking about lately. In Thought vectors and the dimensionality of the space of concepts (a post from last week) I discussed the dimensionality of the space of …

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Matt Townsend Show (Sirius XM)

I was on this show last week. Click the link for audio. We Are Nowhere Close to the Limits of Athletic Performance (16:46) Dr. Stephen Hsu is the vice president for research and a professor of theoretical physics at Michigan State University. His interest range from theoretical physics and cosmology to computer science and biology. …

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Three Lectures on AdS/CFT

MSU postdoc Steve Avery explains AdS/CFT to non-specialists (i.e., theoretical physicists who do not primarily work on string theory / quantum gravity). Steve is applying for faculty positions this fall — hire him! :-) AdS/CFT on this blog. See also Entanglement and fast thermalization in heavy ion collisions: application of AdS/CFT to collisions of heavy ions …

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Trump Triumph Viewed From China

This is from a blog that tracks Chinese public opinion, mainly via the internet. I don’t agree with everything in the original post, but here’s something sourced from the crowd: … a widely-read Weibo post (again originated from Zhihu) summarizes what Trump’s win has “taught China”, generating tens of thousands of retweets. “1. We should …

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Shift Commission on Work, Workers, and Technology (New America Foundation and Bloomberg)

I spent yesterday at this event. If you look carefully you can see Tim O’Reilly in one of the photos below. New America and Bloomberg are convening the Shift Commission on Work, Workers, and Technology to bring together a community of leaders from different disciplines — technology, business, policy, civil society, academia, and others — who want to understand …

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Decoding Genius podcast

I’m interviewed in episode 2 of this podcast. ABOUT THE DECODING GENIUS PODCAST What exactly is a Genius? Are they born that way or can you become a genius? The world is now so interconnected that a single genius, whether a young Aussie creating mind-controlled machines or a ten year old building a high tech …

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Low Earth Orbit from your backyard? (startup Vector Space Systems)

It’s great to see innovation and competition in space launch technology. These small launchers from startup Vector Space Systems can put 50-100kg payloads (e.g., micro satellites) into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) for $2-3 million. There are obvious military applications for the rapid placement (or replacement) of satellites. For example, see A2AD Fait Accompli? Commercial applications are …

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Joe Rogan interviews Dan Bilzerian

This is one of the best interviews I’ve heard in a long time. Warning: NSFW. Joe Rogan interviews professional poker player and social media icon Dan Bilzerian. If you don’t know who he is, check him out on Instagram (guns, girls, private jets, high stakes poker = 20 million followers = NSFW). Among the topics covered: …

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AI, Westworld, and Electric Sheep

AI, Westworld, and Electric Sheep I’m holding off on this in favor of a big binge watch. Certain AI-related themes have been treated again and again in movies ranging from Blade Runner to the recent Ex Machina (see also this episode of Black Mirror, with Jon Hamm). These artistic explorations help ordinary people think through …

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Genetics, Cognitive Ability, and Education (conversation with Cambridge PhD candidate Daphne Martschenko)

Genetics, Cognitive Ability, and Education (conversation with Cambridge PhD candidate Daphne Martschenko) Further conversation with Cambridge PhD candidate Daphne Martschenko concerning genetics of cognitive ability, implications for education policy, etc. See also earlier conversation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVqkvHpLfuQ Dunedin paper referenced in the video (polygenic score prediction of adult success for different SES groups): http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2016/09/genomic-prediction-of-adult-life.html Tweet