18 August 2015

The Sheep Look Up

PFOA or perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as C8, is a surfactant used in the production of Teflon® or polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), the non-stick substance found in a billion kitchens. It was also used to make Gore-Tex, fast food wrappers, pizza boxes, and microwave popcorn bags. Related chemicals are released if you overheat your Teflon cookware; they can kill birds in seconds, which is why we eliminated all the Teflon from our kitchen a decade ago. ... Read more

16 August 2015

Soylent and Proposition 65

Lots of people have been gleefully reposting links to a PR Newswire press release from a group who are suing the makers of Soylent for failing to comply with California’s Proposition 65. Test results commissioned by As You Sow, conducted by an independent laboratory, show that one serving of Soylent 1.5 can expose a consumer to a concentration of lead that is 12 to 25 times above California’s Safe Harbor level for reproductive health, and a concentration of cadmium that is at least 4 times greater than the Safe Harbor level for cadmium. ... Read more

15 August 2015

From the World Bank Book of Proverbs

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he can spend the rest of his life selling you fish cheaply, so he can get hard currency to use to make the interest payments on the money he borrowed to buy the fishing rod and bait you sold him.

12 August 2015

On AI and existential risk, continued

Bret Victor expands on something I mentioned in my article on AI: I am generally on the side of the critics of Singulitarianism, but now want to provide a bit of support to these so-called rationalists. At some very meta level, they have the right problem — how do we preserve human interests in a world of vast forces and systems that aren’t really all that interested in us? But they have chosen a fantasy version of the problem, when human interests are being fucked over by actual existing systems right now. ... Read more

5 August 2015

Defining race

Abstracted from a Google+ discussion: Technically, race refers to physical characteristics only. When people talk about race, they usually (pedantically speaking) mean ethnicity. Ethnicity includes physical racial characteristics, but also incorporates culture, nationality, language, religion, and so on. But if you’re not being a pedantic ass, you’ll use ‘race’ in its everyday sense as meaning ethnicity. With that out of the way, here’s the key part: What defines you as white (or black or Asian or…) is whether you can pass as that thing. ... Read more

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