Writing with the help of robots

A few months ago, OpenAI unveiled GPT-2. It’s a machine learning model built from 8 million web pages. GPT-2 ingested these pages and modelled the relationship between their words. It could then regurgitate the words in new ways. Including by writing convincing fake news. So OpenAI was careful. The full version of GPT-2 has 1.5 [...]

Climate change, work-life balance, productivity. Why don’t more people telecommute?

Most of us want to fight climate change, improve work-life balance, and be more productive. There is one thing that can do all three: telecommuting. So why don't more people work remote? This is a recurring thought. Especially when I'm stuck on the subway due to emergencies and maintenance issues. Or when I see traffic [...]

Why we can’t stop people from buying our kids birthday presents (even though we try)

My two kids celebrated birthdays this week. They used to get dozens of birthday gifts each from friends and family. These were often interesting for a few days. Then they joined the donation pile. My wife and I said gifts weren’t necessary. We try to be conscious consumers. We want people’s company at birthday parties, [...]

Philosophical conundrums of the multiverse

Some physicists theorize that parallel universes exist. Brian Greene, for example, describes nine types. Max Tegmark has defined four levels. Parallel universes remain unproven. But the many ways they may manifest suggests a reasonable probability they’re real. And if they are, there may be an infinite number of them. Let’s assume even one type of [...]

Sometimes it’s better to turn towards the pain

This morning, I had a blood draw. I’m not a fan. I tried to give blood once and almost passed out. They unhooked me and fed me cookies. It’s an irrational response. It’s not that much blood. But it has evolutionary origins. If your blood pressure drops when you’re cut, you bleed less. So you [...]

Simple doesn’t mean easy

I’ve tried mindfulness meditation for years. With various tools, and varied success. I even tried the Muse brain-reading biofeedback headband. Its promise: “meditation made easy.” I struggled for a long time. I was improving, but had unrealistic expectations. I expected to close my eyes and quiet my mind. When my mind wouldn’t cooperate, I got [...]