Waiting for (Autonomous) Godot

Rodney Brooks, founder of Rethink Robotics and a robotics guru is skeptical of the current claims around AGI and autonomous cars hitting the road anytime soon, much like another technology luminary, Kai-Fu Lee.

If we were to have AGI, Artificial General Intelligence, with human level capabilities, then certainly it ought to be able to drive a car, just like a person, if not better. Now a self driving car does not need to have general human level intelligence, but a self-driving car is certainly a lower bound on human level intelligence. Urmson, a strong proponent of self driving cars says 30 to 50 years.

I guess the biological genes have to live to a 100 to see their arrival.  But, do read Rodney’s essay, to understand his skepticism around the near term claims around autonomy.   That said, I think we need to lower our expectations. Autonomous versus smarter electric cars should be our expectation. Unfortunately, that kind of simple thinking doesn’t prop up the stock.

A letter from Om

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Some Really Good Reads

Photo via Unsplash/TomHermans
  1. Leonardo Da Vinci died 500 years ago, but here’s why we are still awed by his brilliance.
  2. The sins of industrial pollution aren’t easily absolved, as we learn from this story about a small Georgian town with an unusually high prevalence of a rare cancer that is killing its citizens. Read on.
  3. Call it what you may, and deny it if you must, but our world is going through climate changes. And it is killing a lot of species. We don’t know the second and third order effects of these extinctions, and we should be worried about that. This is another fantastic essay by New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert, one of my favorite writers. On a related note, you can also read about Los Angeles’ unending fire season.
  4. Alaska is the Wild West, and in many parts, it is completely lawless — literally! This turns its most vulnerable into victims. This is a devastatingly sad and detailed report from a collaboration between Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica.
  5. Where does a whole day’s worth of food come from? The logistics behind it are amazing, actually!
  6. Forget about privacy for a moment, let’s talk about the long-term damage social media is doing to our mental health. Just as fast food can propel us to abyss, so does information overload, as Olivia Laing tells in this story.
  7. Did you know Conan is on joke-theft trial? I didn’t know that either, and here is all you need to know.

This first appeared on my May 19, 2019, weekly newsletter. If you like to get this delivered to your inbox, just sign-up here, and I will take care of the rest.

What’s Wrong Apple & Microsoft

I am primarily a Mac household — I use my iMac Pro as a digital darkroom. I am not likely to give up my desktop (iMac Pro) anytime soon, and the reason is Photoshop. While I use Lightroom CC as my cloud library/repository — editing starts and ends with Photoshop. I have a streamlined, six step-process to edit my photos and I like the granularity of layers. I also love the flexibility of working with a cloud-library.

The iMac Pro is perfect for editing — it is fast and can handle six to eight layers I usually create for editing a photo. What does suck about the iMac is the mouse — and that is why I almost always default to Microsoft’s mice. In my opinion, Microsoft makes the best PC peripherals in business. They are so beautiful, ergonomic and just delightful to use. Their mice are well made and have a beautiful two (or more) button layout that allows one to program them entirely for the editing.

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I was using the Sculpt Comfort Mouse, but for some odd reason, it started having issues with the iMac, which would crash the machine. Then I tried the bulkier, Microsoft Precision Mouse. And the same issues have plagued my iMac. The same problem occurs on my MacBook Pro as well — and it has been very recent — after the most current MacOS update. Honestly, I can’t tell where the problem is — on Apple’s software or with Microsoft’s hardware. In case of Sculpt, Microsoft’s hardware page says “limited functionality” with Mac OS 10.10, but says nothing about the latest release, 10.14. For Precision Mouse, there is even less information.

Either way, I hate the constant rebooting. But what I hate more is having to use the Apple mouse — which is so not right from the perspective of trying to edit a photo or two. Sigh!

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Down the memory lane

148476702 52ca5604f2 oI couldn’t sleep so I started cleaning up my photo library and decided to upload some photos to my Flickr account. And while there, I ended up looking at some old photos. And I stumbled onto this one — with me, Paul Kedrosky and Matt Mullenweg. Mathew Ingram took that photo. I went to the conference hosted by Mathew in Toronto, a reporter, and I came back, an entrepreneur. I chucked away the security of a big media job and started my adventure. It all seemed so long ago! Ironically, I have not been back in Toronto since!