sábado, 29 de septiembre de 2018

Compassion & Technology and the Life of the Buddha (from @singularityunl)

“Our earth will eventually disappear, our sun will disappear, even our galaxy will ultimately disappear, so it’s unrealistic to think we will avoid death.”

asked about how technology and compassion could be of help to other people around the world, he answered: 
“Machines are very important, but they are controlled by human beings. We human beings are not only physical entities, we also have minds. When we are motivated by positive emotions our physical actions will be constructive. Modern psychology knows about sensory consciousnesses, but doesn’t distinguish them clearly from mental consciousness, which involves emotions like anger. I’m very appreciative of the comfort and relief that technology can provide, but I’d like to see its effects implemented in less developed countries where there is still great suffering.” 
“These machines are material devices,” His Holiness observed, “but we also have to think about consciousness. Our waking consciousness depends on our brain and sensory organs and is relatively coarse. When we dream the senses are at rest. In deep sleep, consciousness is subtler, as it is when we faint and so forth, but the subtlest, deepest consciousness manifests at the time of death.

His Holiness explained that psychologist Richie Davidson of University of Wisconsin–Madison has undertaken a project to investigate what is going on. He pointed out that while technology can improve eye and ear consciousness, it has little effect on the subtler level of mental consciousness that nevertheless can be extended infinitely. Inner values involve the mind and ancient India was rich in understanding the mind’s workings as a result of the practices for cultivating a calmly abiding mind (shamatha) and analytical insight (vipashyana). The Buddha’s attainment was a product of such practices. 
The challenging question raised was, “Would you like to live to be 1000 years old?” 
His Holiness retorted that it’s necessary to be realistic and the question represented unrealistic thinking. He observed that Indian Sadhus and others have tried to achieve such a goal through yoga and breath control, but none have lived more than 200 years. 
Selma Boulmalf asked His Holiness if sickness had any meaningful role in life
He told her he thought that facing pain and difficulty reminds believers of God and their religious path. 
…He explained three levels of knowledge: basic understanding gained by hearing or reading, conviction that derives from critical thinking and experience arising from deeper acquaintance in meditation. 
His Holiness told her that even animals love life and move to defend it. “We all naturally love life and death brings an end to it. We tend to fear death because it is a mystery, but through training we can develop confidence in the next life.”   
We need to focus on a sense of the oneness of humanity and maintaining religious harmony, which India vividly exemplifies. If religious harmony can flourish there, why not elsewhere?”
Question to His Holiness was about whether there has been a female Dalai Lama and if not, could there be one in the future? 
His Holiness replied that he had been asked this repeatedly over the years and has answered that if a female body would be more useful, why not? He qualified this by adding that whether or not there will continue to be a Dalai Lama in the future is something Tibetans, Mongolians and people of the Himalayan Region will decide.

During a meeting with members of the media immediately afterwards His Holiness remarked that technology can clearly play a significant role in alleviating physical distress, but that peace of mind and the role of moral principles cannot be overlooked. He commented that existing education sets material goals, resulting in aspirations for a more materialistic way of life with little attention to inner values.
He expressed disapproval of the use of technology for oppressive surveillance, but noted that the problem lies with the motivation of perpetrators and the way it is used rather than the technology by itself. He repeated that moral principles lay the basis for individuals, families and communities to live a happy life.

domingo, 23 de septiembre de 2018

A manifesto for renewing liberalism (by @TheEconomist)

via @jorgecortell A manifesto for renewing liberalism – The Economist

reinvention is always a good idea in my opinion
Liberalism made the modern world, but the modern world is turning against it. Europe and America are in the throes of a popular rebellion against liberal elites, who are seen as self-serving and unable, or unwilling, to solve the problems of ordinary people. Elsewhere a 25-year shift towards freedom and open markets has gone into reverse, even as China, soon to be the world’s largest economy, shows that dictatorships can thrive. 

Our founders would be astonished at how life today compares with the poverty and the misery of the 1840s. Global life expectancy in the past 175 years has risen from a little under 30 years to over 70. The share of people living below the threshold of extreme poverty has fallen from about 80% to 8% and the absolute number has halved, even as the total living above it has increased from about 100m to over 6.5bn. And literacy rates are up more than fivefold, to over 80%. Civil rights and the rule of law are incomparably more robust than they were only a few decades ago. In many countries individuals are now free to choose how to live — and with whom. 
Liberalism emerged in the late 18th century as a response to the turmoil stirred up by independence in America, revolution in France and the transformation of industry and commerce. Revolutionaries insist that, to build a better world, you first have to smash the one in front of you. By contrast, conservatives are suspicious of all revolutionary pretensions to universal truth. They seek to preserve what is best in society by managing change, usually under a ruling class or an authoritarian leader who “knows best”. 
An engine of change 
True liberals contend that societies can change gradually for the better and from the bottom up. They differ from revolutionaries because they reject the idea that individuals should be coerced into accepting someone else’s beliefs. They differ from conservatives because they assert that aristocracy and hierarchy, indeed all concentrations of power, tend to become sources of oppression. 
Liberalism thus began as a restless, agitating world view. Yet over the past few decades liberals have become too comfortable with power. As a result, they have lost their hunger for reform. The ruling liberal elite tell themselves that they preside over a healthy meritocracy and that they have earned their privileges. The reality is not so clear-cut. 
In all sorts of ways, the liberal meritocracy is closed and self-sustaining. A recent study found that, in 1999–2013, America’s most prestigious universities admitted more students from the top 1% of households by income than from the bottom 50%. In 1980–2015 university fees in America rose 17 times as fast as median incomes. The 50 biggest urban areas contain 7% of the world’s people and produce 40% of its output. 
It is the moment for a liberal reinvention. Liberals need to spend less time dismissing their critics as fools and bigots and more fixing what is wrong. The true spirit of liberalism is not self-preserving, but radical and disruptive.
They must rediscover their belief in individual dignity and self-reliance — by curbing their own privileges. They must stop sneering at nationalism, but claim it for themselves and fill it with their own brand of inclusive civic pride. Rather than lodging power in centralised ministries and unaccountable technocracies, they should devolve it to regions and municipalities. Instead of treating geopolitics as a zero-sum struggle between the great powers,…
The best liberals have always been pragmatic and adaptable. …
Liberals should approach today’s challenges with equal vigour. If they prevail, it will be because their ideas are unmatched for their ability to spread freedom and prosperity. Liberals should embrace criticism and welcome debate as a source of the new thinking that will rekindle their movement. They should be bold and impatient for reform. Young people, especially, have a world to claim.

It’s learning. Just not as we know it. (by @accenture)

Skills Gap in the Future Workforce | Accenture
“We still talk about a knowledge economy, but the reality is that the world is moving beyond it. What we have now is an innovation economy. Knowledge has been commoditized. There is no longer a competitive advantage in simply knowing more than other people, because Google knows everything. What the world cares about is not how much you know, but what you can do with it.” 
~Tony Wagner, Senior Research Fellow, Learning Policy Institute. 
Full pdf report link.

domingo, 9 de septiembre de 2018

China Is Quickly Becoming an AI Superpower (by @singularityhub)

Propelled by an abundance of government funds, smart infrastructure overhauls, leading AI research, and some of the world’s most driven entrepreneurs, China’s AI ecosystem is unstoppable.

As discussed by Kai-Fu Lee in his soon-to-be-released book AI Superpowers, four main drivers are tipping the balance in China’s favor… 
1. Abundant dataPerhaps China’s biggest advantage is the sheer quantity of its data. Tencent’s WeChat platform alone has over one billion monthly active users. That’s more than the entire population of Europe. 
Take mobile payments spending: China outstrips the US by a ratio of 50 to 1.
…While the US saw $112 billion worth of mobile payments in 2016, Chinese mobile payments exceeded $9 trillion in the same year.   
2. Hungry entrepreneurs empowered by new toolsFormer founder-director of Google Brain Andrew Ng noted the hunger raving among Chinese entrepreneurs: “The velocity of work is much faster in China than in most of Silicon Valley. When you spot a business opportunity in China, the window of time you have to respond is very short.” 
But as China’s AI expertise has exploded, and startups have learned to tailor American copycat products to a Chinese audience, these entrepreneurs are finally shrugging off their former ‘copycat’ reputation, building businesses with no analogs in the West.
3. Growing AI expertiseIt is important to note that China is still new to the game. When deep learning got its big break in 2012—when a neural network decimated the competition in an international computer vision contest—China had barely woken up to the AI revolution. 
But in a few short years, China’s AI community has caught up fast. While the world’s most elite AI researchers still largely cluster in the US, favoring companies like Google, Chinese tech giants are quickly closing the gap. 
Already in academia, Chinese AI researchers stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their American contemporaries. At AAAI’s 2017 conference, an equal number of accepted papers came from US- and China-based researchers. 

4. Mass government funding and supportThe day DeepMind’s AlphaGo beat top-ranking Chinese Go player Ke Jie has gone down in history as China’s “Sputnik Moment.” 
Within two months of the AI’s victory, China’s government issued its plan to make China the global center of AI innovation, aiming for a 1 trillion RMB (about $150 billion USD) AI industry by 2030.