Mansplaining or not?

You certainly have heard of the term mansplaining, meaning to condescendingly explain something while falsely assuming the explainee is ignorant of the subject matter; typically executed by a male on a female.

While this certainly exists and is often pointed out rightfully (and hilariously), there is a related aspect that I think should not be confused with mansplaining. Remember this old XKDC:

XKCD 1053

Combined it with the attitude that we all know very little, that it is fun to learn new things and that there is no prestige involved in knowing more or less, we can easily find ourselves “involuntarily mansplaining”. This situation, even if it lacks the misjudgment of expertise and the condescension, can be perceived as mansplaining.

Should it? Maybe. After all, in this case, the explainer has misconceved not the knowledge of the explainee, but the mind set and presence of the aforementioned attitude, resulting in a failure of human interaction. On the other hand, we might not want to stifle open exchange of ideas too much by being afraid of appearing mansplaining.

Bike logistics

I live 20km outside of town, in a small cottage in the forest which means that I usually take the car to work. But I bought a decent new bike last year to make my commute cheaper and greener, so I want to start using it more than it turned out last year.

To get used to the distance, I don’t want to take both trips by bike the same day. This is easily done by bringing the bike to work by car one morning, biking home after work, biking back to work the morning after and then taking the car and bike back home.

But this involves a surprising amout of logistics, as I experienced the other day. Apart from the bike itself, I had to pack both the biking clothes and a full set of fresh work clothes, the bike, helmet, plus towel and shower gear. The actual biking then felt like less of a challenge than not forgetting a crucial element in the preparations. But this is just a matter of practice and routine, so there will be more trips like this.

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AI reading material

A quick follow-up on the previous post, here are a few links to satisfy your thirst for more input about AI and related topics.

MIRI’s blog seems to do a good job at collecting updates.

This recent conference has put up PDFs of several presentations.

Eliezer Yudkowsky is on Facebook and Twitter, so is Demis Hassabis from DeepMind.

I also got Kurzweil’s famous book The Singularity Is Near and will read it soon. Other’s have convinced me that his thinking probably is way too optimistic, in the sense that while his predictions may be possible, they are not the default outcome. But it is certainly a worthwhile read anyway.

The Second Machine Age by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee made it onto my reading list as well.

The Foom debate is often referred to. I however cannot understand how some claim that Hanson “won” with his arguments against a fast take-off.

Nick Bostrom’s latest paper is here (PDF) and his recent talk Safety Issues in Advanced AI is basically an updated version of his “classic” talk at Google.

Also very much worth to watch is Demis Hassabis - The Future of Artificial Intelligence.

Oh, and if you don’t know Yudkowsky’s short Three Worlds Collide yet, go and read it - it’s deep and funny!

What strikes me in of all this is how young the whole field is. Even five or ten years ago, the main concepts and jargon that seem to make quite a bit of sense once you get them explained to you, were not in place at all.


The future is near

I’ve recently been reading Nick Bostrom’s book Superintelligence and must admit it stuck with me. It may well seem a tad abstract to us who are new to thinking about such matters, but highly stimulating and thought-provoking.

The main point is driven home thoroughly: We should be talking more about artificial intelligence! Because its arrival might be just around the corner and it has the potential to mark a crossroads for our future, the choices being really really bad or really really fantastically good.

If you havn’t read them yet, these two blog posts by Wait But Why are probably the best introdution: Part 1, Part 2.

I am currently half-way through Olle Häggström’s Here Be Dragons which covers related but broader toptics of near-future technologies.

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What new laptop?

It will soon be time to replace my current laptop, a three year old Thinkpad X230; it probably is my fifth X-series over the years. They deservedly had a good reputation for build quality, and to run Linux.

My old Thinkpad X230

However, I find it unlikey that my next machine will be another Thinkpad. Partly because of Lenovo’s Superfish and BIOS Crapware debacles, partly because their latest machines are just not as good anymore. (For example I don’t quite like the new-style keyboard of the X230 and onward, plus it broke down twice and needed the mainboard replaced).

Criteria for a new laptop would be the following:

  • fan-less
  • non-glossy screen, ~ 12-13”
  • digital video-out
  • good keyboard, Swedish
  • 16GB RAM
  • decent size SSD
  • track-point
  • runs Linux without too much hassle.

Things like CPU-power, battery-life, weight and screen resolution are less important. Nevertheless, I am not aware of a machine that fulfills the above. The Dell XPS 13 seems to come close, but it still has a fan and no track-point. A Macbook Air is out of the question.

If you have a suggestion, let me know!


Sommar på Gryt

Sommar på Gryt

March and april can be very frustrating in Sweden for someone who has not grown up there. Spring is just kind of there, but not really; the snow is melted but everything still takes another few weeks to shake off winter. It doesn’t look like in the picture until june.

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Carpet Me

So this is what it looks like when I run my picture through Pikazo, an app that can re-create an image in the style of another. In this case, the “style” is our living room carpet from India and I especially like the red Terminator-eye.

Carpet Me

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New site

I just made a big overhaul of this site. Although there is a new theme in place as well, the biggest changes are under the hood: no more Wordpress, but static html-files generated with Pelican.

In addition, the webserver Caddy is no longer only responsible for SSL and HTTPS while proxying to Nginx, but now serves the site directly.

New URLs are without dates, but old ones should still work fine. If you happen to see anything broken, feel free to drop me an email.

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Vaknar half fem. Pigg. Dessutom har hjärnan börjat spökskriva i halvsömnen ändå. Det är deadlinedags och några dokument ska bli klara på jobbet. Dusch, frukost i lugn och ro, fösta kopparna kaffe. Ut ur dörren - tjälet har släppt och det finns lukter igen i skogen där vi bor! Innan kl. sex är trafiken visst bättre än vanligt - inte dumt! Först på jobbet, trodde jag. En kollega reser sig ur soffan och undrar vad tusan jag gör där så dags. Ska hen säga! Sätta på kaffe, skriva frenetiskt. Lunchhungrig kl 9, det blir bara en banan. Mer kaffe. Korridoren fylls med mer o mer aktivtet. Jag med mer kaffe, och äntligen lunch så småningom. Diskutera neuronala nät och AlphaGos vinst vid lunchbordet, utan att egentligen ha någon som helst koll på machine learning, eller spelet Go. Tillbaka till skrivbordet och slåss med Word, så gott som för första gången någonsinn är jag tvungen till detta. Mer Kaffe? Ja visst! Klockan fyra får det vara nog, det klarnar upp och ser ljuvligt ut ute. Jag åker hem, tar på mig tajta byxorna och springer en vända till urskogen. Skriva en timme till. Kaffet byts mot folköl. Matlagningsdags, det blir en stor lasagne som till fyra femtedelar blir lunchlådor. Musik på hög volym och chatta med kollegor om Cornetto-trilogin. Det blir nog ingen sen kväll.
Intensiva dagar kan vara roliga och stimulerande, men visst är jag tacksam att de är rätt sällsynta ändå.

Plastic-eating bacteria

I was wondering the other week why plastic-eating bacteria havn’t evolved yet. After all, bacteria are supposed to be very quick at adaptation and an energy-rich resource lying around, floating in the oceans and being a pollution problem should be a golden opportunity.

Obviously I am missing something here because of my ignorance in biology. But people seem to be working on it: