Links & misc #2

A summary of why the Human Brain Project, launched by the European Commission a year and a half ago, is currently failing horribly (spoilers: way too ambitious, badly governed, lacks direction). I remember being pretty stoked about this project when I first heard of it all, but I guess it quickly became clear that nobody involved had much of a clue of what they were supposed to be doing, so yeah. Hope they get their shit together.

• In 2010, Filipino officials tried to reduce illegal fishing near a double barrier reef by building an underwater grotto nearby, because apparently even the people who like to blast dynamites and pour sodium cyanide into the ocean are averse to damaging statues of Jesus & Virgin Mary. (I found no info on how effective this was in the end, but props for creative thinking!)

•  This centuries old brass automaton boy stores almost 300 kbs of information, four detailed drawings and three poems. Its creator, the Swiss mechanician Henri Maillardet, was discovered because the machine signed one of the poems referring to itself as “the Automaton of Maillardet”.

A long but lovely article on forgotten words used to describe nature and landscape in various cultures across the British Isles.

As invaluable as language is in directing our attention and defining our experiences, the “no one saw blue in cultures that didn’t have a word for it” thing that recently made the rounds after some BBC documentary is apparently mostly based on BS.

Once again, Bostrom & others on paperclips & other risks of AI. (TBH I’m mostly linking to this because it’s the first time I’ve seen this fullscreen image layout actually work, but the rest of the article is good too.)

[PDF] Monsters on the Brain: an overview on the physiological, cognitive, and philosophical aspects of horror.

The latest issue of American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience has a huge number of articles on motivation enhancement, featuring a whole lot of differing viewpoints on whether or not it is a good idea and what kind of scenarios may lie ahead when enhancement becomes a widespread convention.

Wikipedia on the Platonia dilemma, Douglas Hofstadter’s thought experiment meant to illustrate the concept of superrationality. (Also describes an unconventional lottery based on it, organised in 1983 by Scientific American. The prize was one million dollars divided by the number of total entries and awarded to the submitter of a randomly chosen entry, and readers were allowed to submit as many entries as they could fit on a postcard. The results were somehow wonderful and disappointing at the same time (and no, no one won a single penny).)

Unexpectedly, I have created the greatest cupcake frosting in the history of frosting cupcakes. Completely vegan too!
I posted an approximate recipe here. My baking adventures tend to be, uh, experimental and somewhat improvised, so I didn’t pay much attention to the measures and I suggest deviating from the recipe if the mix doesn’t taste sweet or creamy or lemony enough. For the muffins I recommend this recipe, though I’m pretty sure I would eat old tires as long as they were topped with this stuff. I mean I don’t want to brag, but. This stuff.


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