Today is the day of the Oscars — Academy Awards that celebrate excellence in the art of movie-making. There was a time when this was a red-letter day on my calendar. I have not paid much attention to this made-for-TV spectacle since I cut the cord. 

I am not the only one who has become disinterested in the Oscars and its television broadcast. In the 1990s, Oscars ceremony broadcasts would get about 55 million viewers in the United States, and in 2021, it was 9.85 million. ABC pays $100 million a year for the rights, and ad revenues have been around $130 million, making some wonder if they have peaked. 

Looking at the lack of ratings, meaningless broadcast, and movie stars losing their star appeal, LA Mag asks the all-important question: “Are the Oscars over?” 

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“The Great Resignation” is Clickbait

Paul Millerd, author of The Pathless Path, in an interview with Sara Campbell, points out:

This might surprise you but I think the framing of “The Great Resignation” is off. It seems like a successful media narrative that has helped generate clicks but doesn’t really get to the heart of what’s happening. The “great resignation” framing suggests there is a massive exit from employment happening. It’s not clear that’s the case…… Going deeper, however, I do there is a much more interesting shift happening. Before the pandemic when I talked to people about work, there was a lot of shame attached to the conversation. Previous generations resisted these conversations forcefully. Part of this was survival — there weren’t great alternatives to traditional employment. That’s no longer the case and people are starting to wake up to it.  

This is a great interview and worth reading. This comment really resonated with me, especially as I have started to contemplate the next phase of my life and my relationship with work.

With work as the central organizing principle of my life, the most important things were to always be progressing, improving, and achieving. One thing that’s helped me is to step back and try to define what work really is. This has enabled me to shift away from simply seeing work as something that comes with a paycheck towards it as any sort of activity worth doing.

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Past, Present & Future of Deep Neural Nets

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Photo by Compare Fibre on Unsplash

…not much has changed in 33 years on the macro level. We’re still setting up differentiable neural net architectures made of layers of neurons and optimizing them end-to-end with backpropagation and stochastic gradient descent. Everything reads remarkably familiar, except it is smaller.

An erudite explanation of the state of neural networks today, when put in the context of its past and its future. I am glad I follow Andrej Karpathy and his writing. My big takeaway from this piece — the world would need more compute, and that’s why Apple’s M1 chips are setting the stage for the next evolution of computing needs.

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Community Saves the World?

Our challenge is that our economic systems are revving society and the planet into out-of-control spirals. The scale required to change that spiraling is unlike anything we’ve faced. It was never going to be easy, but humans have a tendency to defer big problems to a point of crisis, and that has narrowed our options. We now need collective resolve on a scale that dwarfs anything we’ve yet known—and ways of transforming that resolve into large-scale, workable solutions.

Gideon Rosenblatt makes a case for a variant of DAOs with the community as a core ethos to solve more significant problems. It is worth a read and, when taken in combination with the comments of Ray Dalio, perhaps has breadcrumbs to the future of society. Rosenblatt, a proactive thinker with fresh ideas, is a friend of the blog.

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Cursed by Information (Overload)

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Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Nicholas Carr, one of my favorite writers, penned an excellent rumination on the perils of information overload in his must-read book, The Shallows.

The stress that Google and other Internet companies place on the efficiency of information exchange as the key to intellectual progress is nothing new. It’s been, at least since the start of the Industrial Revolution, a common theme in the history of the mind. 

Carr shared this as his tribute to Leo Marx, whose work influenced Carr’s writing and thinking. Marx passed away at the age of 102 on March 8, 2022.

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