Week of June 18, 2018

Collision

A classical math problem gets pulled into the modern world.

Imagine a simple example: a self-driving car in a giant parking lot. There’s nothing in the lot except for a guard booth at the far end. Your goal is to program the car so that it will never drive into the booth.

In this case, you’d start by putting a coordinate grid on the lot. Now make a polynomial that takes points on the grid as inputs. Make sure that the value of the polynomial at the location of your car is negative, and the value at the location of the guard booth is positive.

At some set of points between your car and the booth, the polynomial will cross over from negative to positive. Since your car is allowed to be on points only where the polynomial is negative, these points form something like a wall.

“If I start in a certain location, I’m not going to cross to the other side of the line where the obstacle is. This gives you a formal proof of safety for collision avoidance,” said Ahmadi.


Numbers

There’s been a changing of the guard in the advertising business and it’s not for the better.

Once, Mad Men ruled advertising. They’ve now been eclipsed by Math Men—the engineers and data scientists whose province is machines, algorithms, pureed data, and artificial intelligence.


Transition

Paul Stamatiou on his experience replacing his MacBook Pro with an iPad Pro.

Against my better judgement, I decided to give tablets one more chance. On the last day of a vacation that started in Rwanda and ended in the UK, I walked into the Regent Street Apple Store in London and purchased a 12.9" iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard.

That was a few months ago. A few months in which my 13" MacBook Pro has not even been powered up once. Any new gadget novelty has long since worn off and I’m still loving and using this iPad Pro daily.


Inequality

It’s more clear every day: the rich get richer, while the poor get poorer.

People get income for doing stuff, and they get income for owning stuff. Increasingly the latter. And the ownership share of income goes to a small slice of households that own almost all the stuff.


Future Work

Automation will make lifelong learning a necessary part of work.

With the advent of AI, basic cognitive skills, such as reading and basic numeracy, will not suffice for many jobs, while demand for advanced technological skills, such as coding and programming, will rise, by 55% in 2030, according to our analysis.

The need for social and emotional skills including initiative taking and leadership will also rise sharply, by 24%, and among higher cognitive skills, creativity and complex information and problem solving will also become significantly more important. These are often seen as “soft” skills that schools and education systems in general are not set up to impart. Yet in a more automated future, when machines are capable of taking on many more rote tasks, these skills will become increasingly important — precisely because machines are still far from able to provide expertise and coaching, or manage complex relationships.


I read this twice and nearly spit out the water in my mouth both times. From Axios Future:

JD.com, a Chinese e-commerce gargantuan, has built a big new Shanghai fulfillment center that can organize, pack and ship 200,000 orders a day. It employs four people — all of whom service the robots.