What defines smart? One of my memories from intermediate school, years ago, was the time my class sat a science test. One of the other kids had made it his life’s mission to jeer at me at every opportunity – mindless bully-stuff like ‘you’re an idiot’ by way of greeting – and happened to get … More What defines intelligence?
It’s funny how things change. These days allergies are well understood as a genuine medical matter, they can affect anybody, and they can also be fatal if we’re not vigilant. What’s more, allergies seem to be getting more prevalent in western society. That’s totally turned around from when I was a kid. Back then, allergies … More Why are allergies becoming an epidemic?
The other week I was confronted in a supermarket by another customer who appeared out of nowhere, boiling with anger and screaming at me to apologise to them. It turned out my trolley had accidentally touched theirs, some time earlier. It happens a lot in supermarkets, but to this customer it was a mortal insult, … More A disturbing lesson about human aggression
One of my frustrations when writing is that I’ll often come up with a way of illustrating a concept or idea, only to have somebody ‘correct’ me because some minor detail only they know of is an exception to the trend I’m describing, and therefore I am a worthless idiot who is ignorant of my … More The frustration of writing about concepts and ideas
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world, and a good deal of research has been done locally to find out why. Recently it appeared that tests run on asthmatics and non-asthmatics show much the same response to specific inflammatory markers, therefore asthma can’t be due to allergy and must … More New Zealand’s asthma rates and immune system problems aren’t ‘psychological’
I have long been intrigued by the way we imagine ‘artificial general intelligence’ as some kind of inevitable future. One, perhaps, where humans – too – can be transferred into machines. You’ll notice I used ‘general’ in that phrase. We throw plain ‘artificial intelligence’ (AI) around with reckless glee these days, meaning things like chatbots. … More Why the singularity won’t happen any time soon. Or at all.
One of the ways that George Orwell exposed the reality of authoritarian dictatorship in his novel 1984 was through the way his Big Brother authorities twisted the truth. They didn’t just lie in blatantly transparent ways – they demanded that their ‘alternative facts’ be taken as gospel, irrespective of any evidence to the contrary. If … More Orwell’s ‘1984’ and the alternative truth