75: 20 Years of Nintendo, Twitter in Your Ears, Musk Passes Bezos ($190bn), Apple Car & Hyundai, CyberSecurity & InfoSec, Jim Keller to Tenstorrent, and Recent History

"Is this where you would look if you were genuinely curious?"

In the microprocess of inquiry, your belief should always be evenly poised to shift in either direction. 

Not every point may suffice to blow the issue wide open—to shift belief from 70% to 30% probability—but if your current belief is 70%, you should be as ready to drop it to 69% as raising it to 71%. 

You should not think that you know which direction it will go in (on average), because by the laws of probability theory, if you know your destination, you are already there. 

If you can investigate honestly, so that each new point really does have equal potential to shift belief upward or downward, this may help to keep you interested or even curious about the microprocess of inquiry.

If the argument you are considering is not new, then why is your attention going here? Is this where you would look if you were genuinely curious?

—Eliezer Yudkowsky, The Meditation on Curiosity.

We constantly run models of other people in our heads, to predict and understand their behavior, and feel empathy for them. But there are some people who we can’t simulate well.

A neurotypical person will always have trouble predicting how far a malignant narcissist with sociopathy will go, because they can't conceive what it is to be unbounded by a conscience and have no other considerations than one's self.

Kind of like a colorblind person can’t just imagine what it is to see certain colors. It’s a blind spot that we should compensate for as best we can by overriding our intuition and using system 2 thinking instead (learning from other people’s experience, hopefully).

✦ Trust me, I want to go back to ignoring politics just as much as anyone. What a delight it would be to spend weeks without anything having to do with the US president reaching my attention, like in the pre-2016 era…

That’s the new American Dream.


Investing & Business

‘20 Years of Nintendo Console Sales’

Cool chart from Visual Capitalist. h/t Kermit Capitál & Julie Young

Twitter In Your Ears

Twitter has acquired social broadcasting app Breaker, the companies announced today via a combination of blog posts and tweets. The deal will see Breaker’s team joining Twitter to help “improve the health of the public conversation” on the service, as well as work on Twitter’s new audio-based networking project, Twitter Spaces. The Breaker app, however, will shut down on January 15, 2021. (Source)

Somehow I had missed this Twitter Spaces thing when it first made the rounds a few weeks ago…

Twitter has begun testing Spaces, its new feature for live audio. [...]

Spaces, which has been widely compared to social app Clubhouse, is a sort of audio-enabled chatroom within Twitter. Users can create a “space” that their followers can join to participate in a conversation. Anyone on Twitter can listen in on the conversation, though only the host can control who gets to speak. (Source)

I had never really considered this feature for Twitter, but I think it makes a lot of sense and should be positive (or at least, additive, and not get in the way of those who want to just ignore it).

I provisionally like it, but I may change my mind once I see the implementation… But it could be the best thing since 280 characters if it works well.

h/t Muuuuuuuuujiiiiiiiiiiiiii

Speaking of Twitter, sometimes it is that simple:

Don’t you mean “Your welcome, Jack”?

Always go with the meta-dad-joke.

‘Elon Musk is now the richest person in the world, passing Jeff Bezos’

CNBC: "net worth of more than $185 billion"

What if you could've sent that headline back in time to a couple years ago?

Interview: Steve Jurvetson

Good podcast by Harry Stebbings:

(I’m not the only one with long titles…)

He mentions the term in passing, but "Cellular Agriculture" is definitely the most interesting term I've seen yet for growing meat without animals (lab grown meat, etc). Not a marketing term, but a better way to think about it IMO. That’s one space that I can’t wait to see take off and get real market traction.

Interview: Ram Parameswaran

It’s one of those interviews that I didn’t listen at my usual 1.75-2x + dynamic silence removal. I went down to 1.5x for this one. Ram is obviously very passionate about internet scale businesses, and he’s got a lot in his brain (you could even say, he’s got a lot loaded in RAM) that he’s trying to get through his vocal cords, but that subsystem is obviously not high-bandwidth enough.

Anyway, I found it interesting, with some good insights about where India is going, what he looks for in various types of businesses. I also liked his filter for hiring at the end — I’m not hiring anyone, but if I was, I think I’d be looking for similar things. Good job by Patrick, as usual:

Apple Talking to Hyundai to Manufacture an EV?

“We understand that Apple is in discussion with a variety of global automakers, including Hyundai Motor. As the discussion is at its early stage, nothing has been decided,” a representative from Hyundai Motor told CNBC’s Chery Kang.

If there’s one thing that Apple HATES, it’s partners/suppliers talking about ANYTHING. Someone is about to get a really angry email and may lose their job…


Science & Technology

Audio Dynamic Range Compression for Dummies

This modifies volume within a certain range. Not to be confused with data-audio compression, like what’s used for MP3 and other lossy formats (Ogg Vorbis, AAC, etc). That’s about making the file smaller by removing data that psychoacoustic analysis shows our auditory cortex won’t perceive.

The visual equivalent of that is lossy formats like JPEG for images and h.265 for video.

They reduce the size of images and videos by removing data that our visual cortex doesn’t perceive as well. Basically, fidelity is lost, but not distributed evenly across an image, but rather concentrated as much as possible in the parts where we’re less likely to notice a difference.

Source is a comment in a discussion about this lovely bit of a singing.

‘InfoSec implications of US Capitol physical breach’

A physical breach of the U.S. federal government’s offices has some pretty obvious implications for cybersecurity. Thread by Ian Campbell, a former sysadmin for congress:

Knowing House IT stuff, I don't think I'd sleep well until the networks were rebuilt from scratch and every computer wiped and the internals visually inspected before being put back in service.

Every printer, every copier. Every nook and cranny.

This is a herculean effort, but it's also not unprecedented - there's a herculean IT effort in the House every two years during office turnover. [...]

Irked by a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacking about unlocked workstations.
Situation transpired a lot faster and dirtier than anyone expected
- multiple IEDs being probed, and insurrectionists breaching the Capitol more quickly because Cap. Police apparently just let them in.

Never let it just be about tech or tech policy. Never forget the human component or dismiss it, because as soon as you do, you've lost the plot.

The physical protections that should've been in place weren't. (Source)

Interview: Matthew Holland, on CyberSecurity

Good interview by Shane Parrish.

It’s nice to be a fly-on-the-wall on a scotch-lubricated conversation between two former intelligence colleagues who worked together at Canada’s CSE, the agency responsible for foreign signals intelligence (SIGINT) and protecting the country’s data and comms.

Of course, they can’t talk about what they actually did at CSE, but I’ll take what I can get.

Holland’s current company (he’s a serial entrepreneur), Field Effect, seems very interesting, and it’s based no far from where I am. It’s not public, so there’s only so much you can know about it, but looking around their website, they seem to have a very comprehensive approach to security, and everything makes a lot of sense, at least to my untrained eye.

The show notes include a “top 10 security tips” list that you should probably look at and follow, if you don’t already. Even if you just do some of the things suggested, it’ll be a lot better than none of the things, which is probably where most people are.

Can’t help but be curious what kind of scotch they were drinking, though. Security guys probably go for something complex, lots of peat and a sherry finish…

Muuuuuuuuuuuuujiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii also had a good thread recently on how to use some of Cloudflare’s free consumer products to improve your internet privacy/security/performance a bit (using their DNS server, WARP free VPN, etc). Just don’t expect this to be magic or to fully protect you, it’s just an upgrade on most people’s defaults, you still need to set up 2FA and stop clicking on random email attachments and do the other big things on the top 10 list above.

I was already using 1.1.1.1, and WARP on some mobile devices when connecting to cell towers, but had missed the release of the WARP Mac app.

Jim Keller Joins Tenstorrent

Über-engineer (and I don’t mean the ride-sharing company) Jim Keller had been between gigs for a while, and I was curious where he’d end up. That has been answered, and he’s now CTO at Tenstorrent.

The name made me think for a second that he was getting into Bittorrent file-sharing, but it’s a ML company:

Tenstorrent is a pure-play fab-less AI chip design and software company, which means that they create and design silicon for machine learning, then use a foundry to make the hardware, then work with partners to create solutions (as in, chips + system + software + optimizations for that customer). [...]

Founded in 2016, Tenstorrent has around 70 employees between Toronto and Austin. The critical members of the company all have backgrounds in silicon design: the CEO led power and performance architecture at AMD as well as system architecture for Tegra at NVIDIA, the head of system software spent 16 years across AMD and Altera, and there’s expertise from neural network accelerator design from Intel, GPU systems engineering at AMD, Arm CPU verification leads, IO virtualization expertise at AMD, Intel’s former neural network compiler team lead, as well as AMD’s former security and network development lead. It sounds like Jim will fit right in, as well as have a few former colleagues working alongside him.

Sounds like an impressive group of people. The current product is:

Grayskull, a ~620mm2 processor built on GF’s 12nm that was initially designed as an inference accelerator and host. It contains 120 custom cores in a 2D bidirectional mesh, and offers 368 TeraOPs of 8-bit compute for only 65 W. Each of the 120 custom cores has a packet management engine for data control, a packet compute engine that contains Tenstorrent’s custom TENSIX cores, and five RISC cores for non-standard operations, such as conditionals. The chip focuses on sparse tensor operations by optimizing matrix operations into compressed packets, enabling pipeline parallelization of the compute steps both through the graph compiler and the packet manager. This also enables dynamic graph execution, and compared to some other AI chip models, allows both compute and data transfer asynchronously, rather than specific compute/transfer time domains. (Source)

If you’re not familiar with Keller, he rarely does interviews, but this recent one by Lex Fridman is good:

h/t Gavin Baker

It’s almost like we could be doing more…

Eric Topol:

If we wanted to get serious vs B.1.1.7
—get N95/K95 masks to all and enforce their use
—get rapid home testing big supply to each household for daily use
—amp up digital, mobility, genomic and wastewater surveillance 100X
vaccinate 24/7 like it's an emergency. Because it is.

If you think any of this sounds expensive or difficult, remember how expensive and difficult the pandemic is…

Anything that shortens it by even a day, or slows the pace of exponential growth, makes a huge difference. And remember, the more total virus there is out in the world, the more potential there is for new mutations…


The Arts & History

Death of Stalin GIFs

I’ve expanded my GIF side-business into ‘Death of Stalin’ (2017). It’s one of my most-enjoyed films of the past few years, and it doesn’t get the GIF love it deserves.

Here’s what I made, posted in this thread.

Previous GIF productions were for Deadwood, and various Wes Anderson films (and Donnie Darko and The Professional, somehow).

‘History’ Doesn’t Have to be Long Ago…

Good summary of the events of January 6, 2021 by historian Heather Cox Richardson, as well as some of the next-day fallout.