Saturday, July 31, 2021
Saturday, July 24, 2021
"In the last decade, an approach to A.I. known as “machine learning” has leaped forward, fusing powerful hardware with new techniques for crunching data. A.I. systems that generate language, like GPT-3, begin by chewing through billions of books and web pages, measuring the probability that one word will follow another. The A.I. assembles a byzantine internal map of those probabilities. Then, when a user prompts the A.I. with a bit of text, it checks the map and chooses the words likely to come next.
These systems are called “large language models,” and the larger the model, the more human it seems. The first version of GPT, built in 2018, had 117 million internal “parameters.” GPT-2 followed in 2019, with 1.5 billion parameters. GPT-3’s map is more than 100 times bigger still, assembled from an analysis of half a trillion words, including the text of Wikipedia, billions of web pages and thousands of books that likely represent much of the Western canon of literature.
Despite their size and sophistication, GPT-3 and its brethren remain stupid in some ways. “It’s completely obvious that it’s not human intelligence,” said Melanie Mitchell, the Davis Professor of Complexity at the Santa Fe Institute and a pioneering A.I. researcher. For instance, GPT-3 can’t perform simple tasks like tell time or add numbers. All it does is generate text, sometimes badly — repeating phrases, jabbering nonsensically.
For this reason, in the view of many A.I. experts, GPT-3 is a curiosity at best, a firehose of language with no inherent meaning. Still, the A.I. seems to have moments of crackling clarity and depth, and there are times when it writes something so poetic or witty or emotionally appropriate that its human counterparts are almost literally left speechless.
“There’s something genuinely new here,” said Frank Lantz, director of the Game Center at New York University’s Tisch School of Arts and a video game designer who has been beta-testing GPT-3. “I don’t know exactly how to think about it, but I can’t just dismiss it. "
"This is a big topic. The metaverse is a vision that spans many companies — the whole industry. You can think about it as the successor to the mobile internet. And it’s certainly not something that any one company is going to build, but I think a big part of our next chapter is going to hopefully be contributing to building that, in partnership with a lot of other companies and creators and developers. But you can think about the metaverse as an embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content — you are in it. And you feel present with other people as if you were in other places, having different experiences that you couldn’t necessarily do on a 2D app or webpage, like dancing, for example, or different types of fitness.
I think a lot of people, when they think about the metaverse, they think about just virtual reality — which I think is going to be an important part of that. And that’s clearly a part that we’re very invested in, because it’s the technology that delivers the clearest form of presence. But the metaverse isn’t just virtual reality. It’s going to be accessible across all of our different computing platforms; VR and AR, but also PC, and also mobile devices and game consoles. Speaking of which, a lot of people also think about the metaverse as primarily something that’s about gaming. And I think entertainment is clearly going to be a big part of it, but I don’t think that this is just gaming. I think that this is a persistent, synchronous environment where we can be together, which I think is probably going to resemble some kind of a hybrid between the social platforms that we see today, but an environment where you’re embodied in it.
So that can be 3D — it doesn’t have to be. You might be able to jump into an experience, like a 3D concert or something, from your phone, so you can get elements that are 2D or elements that are 3D. I’d love to go through a bunch of the use cases in more detail, but overall, I think that this is going to be a really big part of the next chapter for the technology industry, and it’s something that we’re very excited about.
It just touches a lot of the biggest themes that we’re working on. Think about things like community and creators as one, or digital commerce as a second, or building out the next set of computing platforms, like virtual and augmented reality, to give people that sense of presence. I think all of these different initiatives that we have at Facebook today will basically ladder up together to contribute to helping to build this metaverse vision.
And my hope, if we do this well, I think over the next five years or so, in this next chapter of our company, I think we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company. And obviously, all of the work that we’re doing across the apps that people use today contribute directly to this vision in terms of building community and creators. So there’s a lot to jump into here. I’m curious what direction you want to take this in. But this is something that I’m spending a lot of time on, thinking a lot about, we’re working on a ton. And I think it’s just a big part of the next chapter for the work that we’re going to do in the whole industry."
What’s going on?
The straightforward answer is that globally people already spend a lot of time and money on video games, and established game companies and newcomers alike are eyeing all sorts of interactive digital experiments to grab more of our time and money.
I’m excited for this development, even though my own avid video game playing ended in the era of BrickBreaker for the Blackberry. It feels as if we’re in the middle of reimagining both what a “video game” is and what online idle time can be — more engaging and social, perhaps, and a little less passive doomscrolling. (Or I might be reading too much into this. Yeah, it might just be about money.)
Whatever the motivation, games may soon feel inescapable. New features on Zoom — yup, that Zoom — include poker, trivia and mystery games. Peloton, the maker of $2,500 exercise bicycles, is releasing a game that allows people’s pedal power to command a rolling virtual wheel. Netflix this week confirmed that it planned to add video games to its online entertainment service. Facebook, TikTok, Amazon, Apple and Google to varying degrees are pitching us video games or selling game subscriptions. (The New York Times is going bigger into digital games and puzzles, too.)"
Sunday, July 18, 2021
The future of sport is built on firsts and never-seen-befores. It’s where “what if” becomes “why not?” It’s where @realshellyannfp and @DiedetheGreat and @_ajawilson22 make the impossible possible. Watch and see how tomorrow could be the best day ever.— Nike (@Nike) July 11, 2021
🔈: @Lupita_Nyongo pic.twitter.com/R47DuDgYMm
"What made the alt tour feel special, though, has little to do with whether the black dot would overtake the pink. More enjoyable by far was the vicarious thrill of experiencing an epic journey that had been flattened into the two-dimensional space of a screen, but not compressed — the whole journey was there, spooling out in real time. With no television cameras or commentators to narrativize the relationship between those two small dots, the lone rider and the full event, the vague terrain between them was cultivated instead by the imagination. What grew in that space, aside from branding opportunities, was precisely what our pandemic year has made us crave and fear in equal measure: adventure. Proof of this could be found at Rapha’s Instagram feed, where some “dot watchers” became part of the story: After days spent following his progress across the map, they saw it pass through their villages or towns, where they hopped on their bikes and joined him for an hour or two. Morton briefly became a member of their community, and they briefly became part of the unique advertisement unfolding on social media."Previously,
The Alt Tour (de France)
"Fourteen nations (according to the IOC, though the number is subject to interpretation) and 241 athletes (all males; this number is also disputed) took part in the games. Participants were all European, or living in Europe, with the exception of the United States team. Over 65% of the competing athletes were Greek. Winners were given a silver medal, while runners-up received a copper medal. Retroactively, the IOC has converted these to gold and silver, and awarded bronze medals to third placed athletes. Ten of the 14 participating nations earned medals. The United States won the most gold medals, 11, while host nation Greece won the most medals overall, 46. The highlight for the Greeks was the marathon victory by their compatriot Spyridon Louis. The most successful competitor was German wrestler and gymnast Carl Schuhmann, who won four events."
..."At the 1894 Sorbonne congress, a large roster of sports were suggested for the program in Athens. The first official announcements regarding the sporting events to be held featured sports such as football and cricket, but these plans were never finalised, and these sports did not make the final list for the Games. Rowing and yachting were also scheduled, but were cancelled due to poor weather on the planned day of competition. As a result, the 1896 Summer Olympics programme featured 9 sports encompassing 10 disciplines and 43 events. The number of events in each discipline is noted in parentheses.
Saturday, July 17, 2021
"Every hour, 77 people move to Lagos from other parts of Nigeria. Everything happens in Lagos. It’s the cultural and commercial center of Nigeria, home to the country’s oldest bank and its largest independent film studio. And it’s the hub for the country’s fastest-growing sector: technology.
Lagos is home to Jumia, the continent’s largest e-commerce company. But the city’s most prominent startups are in fintech — perhaps no surprise, given that the task of moving money around is still the most important challenge within Africa. Tech startups in Lagos are international in scope, with access to local funding through a growing venture capital network and a much larger pot of funds available through foreign VCs. Y Combinator, the Silicon Valley-based startup accelerator, held its first and only event in Africa in Lagos in 2016, a sign of the city’s growing influence within global tech circles.
The growth of the tech sector in Lagos almost feels inevitable, a natural extension of just how much the city draws everything into its orbit. The centralized nature of the city has spurred innovation, even as entrepreneurs now bemoan just how concentrated Lagos is."
Friday, July 16, 2021
Saturday, July 10, 2021
Monday, July 5, 2021
From Axios Sports:
100 years ago today, American superstar Jack Dempsey knocked out Frenchman Georges Carpentier in Jersey City, New Jersey, en route to his third heavyweight title defense in as many years.
Why it matters: This was not only boxing's first million-dollar match — it was also the first sporting event broadcast via radio, reaching 200,000 listeners across 125,000 square miles.
The backdrop: Radios were rare in the early 1900s, and during WWI the government rescinded civilian licenses. But post-war, amateur interest was piqued.
- At first, they were only viable for point-to-point communication. But in 1919, an engineer at Westinghouse Electric had the idea to play music for anyone with a receiver to hear.
- A year later, Westinghouse launched Pittsburgh's KDKA, which was granted the country's first commercial broadcasting license so it could air the results of the presidential election (Harding vs. Cox).
- RCA, a Westinghouse competitor, wanted to give people a good reason to buy their radios, so they got to work on figuring out how to broadcast the highly-anticipated heavyweight bout.
How it worked: The stadium didn't have structures high enough to attach the antenna, so an RCA employee transmitted remotely from a nearby train station, which had recently erected a clock tower.
- During the fight, one person relayed the action via phone to a clerk at the station, who then typed up the play-by-play for the announcer to read out over the airwaves.
- Listening parties formed across the northeast, from small get-togethers in private homes to thousand-person gatherings in public venues.
- (Not-so) fun fact: The tubes on this proto-radio transmitter were so bright that the announcer was partially blinded for days after sitting so close to them.
What came next: KDKA broadcast the first baseball game a month later — an 8-5 Pirates win over the Phillies.
🎥 Watch: Full Dempsey-Carpentier fight (YouTube)