It was just a friendly little argument about the fate of humanity. Demis Hassabis, a leading creator of advanced artificial intelligence, was chatting with Elon Musk, a leading doomsayer, about the perils of artificial intelligence.
They are two of the most consequential and intriguing men in Silicon Valley who don’t live there. Hassabis, a co-founder of the mysterious London laboratory DeepMind, had come to Musk’s SpaceX rocket factory, outside Los Angeles, a few years ago. They were in the canteen, talking, as a massive rocket part traversed overhead. Musk explained that his ultimate goal at SpaceX was the most important project in the world: interplanetary colonization.
Hassabis replied that, in fact, he was working on the most important project in the world: developing artificial super-intelligence. Musk countered that this was one reason we needed to colonize Mars—so that we’ll have a bolt-hole if A.I. goes rogue and turns on humanity. Amused, Hassabis said that A.I. would simply follow humans to Mars.
This did nothing to soothe Musk’s anxieties (even though he says there are scenarios where A.I. wouldn’t follow).
Read the rest of this article at: Vanity Fair
The Master and Michelangelo
This is the story of three great cities of the Italian Renaissance, two exceptional artists and one revolutionary new medium. Michelangelo Buonarotti was from Florence, where drawing – disegno – was considered the father of all arts. Sebastiano del Piombo, ten years younger, came from Venice, where cross-continental trade brought rare minerals and pigments to artists who became masters of colour – colorito. The two men met where all roads meet, in Rome.
They were thrown together by the disruptive power of a new technique: oil painting. Italian artists had been slow to adopt this method, which had been widely used in northern Europe since the early 15th century. The quickest on the uptake were the Venetians, who used it to create a depth and lustre of colour unimaginable with quick-drying egg tempera or fresco. Sebastiano had mastered it; Michelangelo struggled. His solution was to work with the young Venetian.
“Michelangelo & Sebastiano” at the National Gallery in London is the first exhibition to explore their partnership. It began in 1511, when Sebastiano arrived in Rome, and Michelangelo was putting the finishing touches to one of the most daring commissions of his life: the decoration of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The pair hit it off. The curator, Matthias Wivel, thinks it highly likely that Michelangelo invited Sebastiano up onto the scaffolding to examine his colossal frescos and admire the ambition of the design, with its non-naturalistic colours and muscular, classically inspired figures.
Read the rest of this article at: 1843 Magazine
Bob Dylan: Q&A with Bill Flanagan
This is your third album of standards in a row – Shadows in the Night was a big surprise and a really nice one. Fallen Angels was a sweet encore. Now you really upped the ante. Did you feel after the first two, you had unfinished business?
I did when I realized there was more to it than I thought, that both of those records together only were part of the picture, so we went ahead and did these.
Why did you decide to release three discs of music at once?
It’s better that they come out at the same time because thematically they are interconnected, one is the sequel to the other and each one resolves the previous one.
Each disc is 32 minutes long – you could have put it all on 2 CDs. Is there something about the 10 song, 32 minute length that appeals to you?
Sure, it’s the number of completion. It’s a lucky number, and it’s symbolic of light. As far as the 32 minutes, that’s about the limit to the number of minutes on a long playing record where the sound is most powerful, 15 minutes to a side. My records were always overloaded on both sides. Too many minutes to be recorded or mastered properly. My songs were too long and didn’t fit the audio format of an LP. The sound was thin and you would have to turn your record player up to nine or ten to hear it well. So these CDs to me represent the LPs that I should have been making.
What’s the challenge of singing with a live horn section?
No challenge, it’s better than overdubbing them.
Read the rest of this article at: Bob Dylan
John Hinckley Left the Mental Hospital Seven Months Ago
At 2:30 on Saturday afternoon, September 10, a hired SUV pulled up to the curb of a low-slung brick-and-wood house in suburban Virginia and let a passenger out. The man, who wore a tan baseball cap and a black T-shirt, did not glance at the paparazzi lenses trained on him but walked straight inside. He is far older now than in the notorious photos, but in many ways John Hinckley looks the same: blond, pudgy, nondescript. On June 21, 1982, a jury found Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity for shooting and attempting to kill President Ronald Reagan in a display of romantic devotion to the actress Jodie Foster, who was then 19. Now, after 34 years in residence at St. Elizabeths Hospital, a public psychiatric facility in Washington, D.C., John Hinckley is home.
Read the rest of this article at: New York Magazine
One Nation, Under Fox: 18 Hours With a Network That Shapes America
Fox News is a singular force, crafting a searing narrative about what’s happening in the world for millions of viewers, including President Trump.
“I know maybe the president is watching.”
So said Brian Kilmeade, co-host of “Fox and Friends,” on Thursday morning’s show. It was no mere boast, since President Trump has publicly stated his affection for the show and for Fox News, the channel on which it airs. If Mr. Trump was indeed tuning in, he was far from alone. Fox News has been the most watched cable news network for 15 years, but depending on the hour, the news narrative it presents to its large and loyal conservative audience can sharply diverge from what consumers of other media outlets may be seeing.
We watched Fox News from 6 a.m. until midnight on Thursday to see how its coverage varied from that of its rivals on a day when cable news was dominated by the health care debate in Congress, the terrorist attack in London and the investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election.
One notable way Fox News stood apart from its competition, as it has been known to do for years, was in the stories it chose to highlight and the tone — in some of its opinion shows, unapologetically supportive of Mr. Trump and his agenda — with which it covered them.
There was extensive coverage of the health care vote, for example, but there was also considerable time given to topics, like a rape case in Maryland, that viewers would not have heard about if they had turned to CNN or MSNBC. The rape case, which involved an undocumented immigrant and went virtually uncovered on most networks, received almost hourly updates on Fox, and at times was used as proof that Mr. Trump’s calls for tighter borders and a crackdown on immigration were justified.
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During coverage of the London terrorist attack, in a break from the rather muted coverage on CNN, “Fox and Friends” veered into discussing the faith of the “Muslim mayor” of London. A morning news show noted that most British police officers did not carry guns (a fact that a guest labeled “lunacy”) and considered how the attack represented the broader terrorist threat.
Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times