25 June 2017

Linkpost, 19-25 June 2017

Some things I read this week:

News: 

Give the FSB your source code, they said.  It'll be fun, they said.

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists analyzes feasibility of North Korean chemical bombardment of Seoul - a highly improbable scenario, but an interesting (if pessimistic) analysis nonetheless.

Blogs / Culture War:

SSC: To understand polarization, undersand conservatism's failures

Samzdat: The meridian of her greatness - sounds to me like Polyani had an accurate view of the world (but coming from reading a bunch of James C. Scott in the last year, I would say that).  Reminds me somewhat of this.

SSC: Against murderism

David Brin: The Jefferson Rifle - came up at work because a coworker claimed that no compromise on gun control was possible.  Which may be correct, but part of his argument was an unavailability heuristic - he had never even heard of a good-faith proposal for compromise (granted: young, very work-focused engineer).

David Brin: A Time for Colonels, Part 3 - I think he takes Lakoff entirely too seriously.  Might work in the short term, but I suspect there's a good reason for that norm that even retired officers mostly stay out of tribal politics.  Potential "guilt by association" backfire failure mode of "the officer corps is now publicly aligned with the Blue Tribe, ergo the officer corps is no longer to be trusted."

Speeches / Lectures:

Alan Kay: [pdf warning] The Power of the Context

Marvin Minsky: Turing Award address - a bit dated, but a novel perspective on education:
– To help people learn is to help them build, in their heads, various kinds of computational models.
– This can best be done by a teacher who has, in his head, a reasonable model of what is in the pupil's head.
– For the same reason the student, when debugging his own models and procedures, should have a model of what he is doing, and must know good debugging techniques, such as how to formulate simple but critical test cases.
– It will help the student to know something about computational models and programming. The idea of debugging itself, for example, is a very powerful concept-in contrast to the helplessness promoted by our cultural heritage about gifts, talents, and aptitudes. The latter encourages "I'm not good at this" instead of "How can I make myself better at it?"
...
The child needs models: to understand the city he may use the organism model: it must eat, breathe, excrete, defend itself, etc. Not a very good model, but useful enough. The metabolism of a real organism he can understand, in turn, by comparison with an engine. But to model his own self he cannot use the engine or the organism or the city or the telephone switchboard; nothing will serve at all but the computer with its programs and their bugs. Eventually, programming itself will become more important even than mathematics in early education.
Richard Hamming: n-dimensional spaces - impressively fast derivations, and man my calc is rusty.  Not my favorite Hamming lecture.  Interesting notes on testing at the very end

Tensorflow without a PhD

Books:

Not a great week for books.  Read a little of Generatingfunctionology after an epiphany in the shower, started Barabasi's Network Science, stalled on The Strategy of Technology and The Mind Illuminated.  

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