Sensitive Interface

Swiss banking giant UBS wants to talk to you about robotic emotion simulation, for some reason. It’s not at all badly done (irrespective of what it’s selling).

Building on [Herbert A.] Simon’s achievements in the field of artificial intelligence, we take a journey to explore the latest innovations in AI and, most importantly, its human element, to ultimately answer the controversial questions: What physical human characteristics and emotions must a robot have to make people react to it? And, obversely, Can AI recognize human emotions? …

The ad (if that’s what it is) has interactive features that seek to make some of its questions performative. It begins to fold back upon itself only in the final section, when it suggests:

Breakthroughs in data processing and conversation systems are helping more and more companies to implement AI in their operations. According to some experts, well-advanced artificial intelligence could someday not only assist businesses in doing their jobs more efficiently, but also bring a more human touch back to customer service, leading consumers to prefer sophisticated and professional AI service to today’s human variety.

Puzzle resolved. We’re exploring a projection of UBS’s customer interface, from the near future.

Event Horizon

If this isn’t the greatest short article on financial economics that you’ve ever read, you can get a full refund from me. (UF is probably going to have it tattooed on its abdomen.)

A sample, just to suck you in:

I always knew that ZIRP was bad, but I just thought it would be normal, run-of-the-mill bad. You know, where most normal people get screwed for a long time, and then “suddenly” everything comes unglued and the financial system implodes, followed by a government intervention while the usual suspects (free markets and capitalism) get hung from telephone poles. […] …and then everything would mean revert and overshoot. In this case, interest rates north of 15% (a la 1980), massive debt default, another economic depression, followed by a grand new government intervention, and the blame would be placed squarely at the feet of runaway free markets and capitalism. […] In other words, I have long thought we have been existing at a cyclical extreme on the spectrum of financial repression, which would eventually become untenable and then we’d swing up to the other extreme (of financial repression). […] However lately I have been hearing and reading things that put this scenario, this comfortable (in it’s familiarity) expectation of central bankster boots stomping on my face forever, into doubt. It might end up being a lot worse than that. …

(Plot spoiler — division by zero plays a central role.)


Twitter cuts (#82)

Another (back-to-back) from my involuntary guest-blogger. Banks collapse into phones.

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Twitter cuts (#72)

Blockchain mainstreaming in extended Twitter time:

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Quick links (#26)

China’s ‘Cybercrats‘. The trouble with Alibaba. Chinese reforms are hard.

The Free World: Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland (and that’s it, understandably). America bets on Modi. The European dream is dying. Strange alliances. Žižek is excited. Nigeria and Egypt in the firing-line.

Messy but sporadically insightful reflections on Bitcoin (from the left). It’s “highly problematic“. ISIS apparently likes it.

Technology and finance are breaking away. Unbundling the banks. Mechanization and the future of work. Singularity and X-Risk buzz (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). The business of human cryopreservation.

Flexible brain implants. New steps in robotics.

Anomaly Detection. A call to the edge. Interviews with Pamela Rosenkranz and Peter Boettke. Terminator versus Ghostbusters. Accelerationism under discussion. Property and Freedom 2015. Leaderless. Reason worries about Creeping Neo-Victorianism.

Dark Matter sounds. This is intense.

Quotable (#9)

Is the Chinese Internet subsuming the country’s financial system?

Remarkably, it seems as if e-commerce companies might be the driving force behind wholesale changes in Chinese finance itself. Chinese money market funds had RMB 575 billion ($95 billion) under management in November 2013 and Credit Suisse estimates that figure could grow as high as RMB 5.4 trillion ($891 billion), or 10 percent of GDP, by 2020. That would represent faster growth as a proportion of GDP than money markets experienced after arriving on the scene in the United States in the late 1970s. Other financial products, including equity funds, could enjoy the same kind of rapid growth, Credit Suisse’s analysts say. The big question is who’s going to provide them: old-school financial firms or the increasingly diversified Internet giants.

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