Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think – Hans Rosling

On piqd I found an interesting article on faz.de, the title “Die Welt wird immer besser: 32 gute Nachrichten” (in German). Maybe I’m an optimist, although I don’t really think so, just realist, but I really liked this article.

It appears to me that some media really live from “bad news”, like bad-news are good-news. Sometimes it feels like you really have to search for good news articles. For me, those 32 good news, were actually known, but still I hardly remember them and when reading daily news, the optimism is minimal.

In essence, that articles is a short-summary from the book “Factfulness” by Hans Rosling, who unfortunately died in February 2017. His last book was published post mortem recently in April 2018.

It appears to me that this book is well worth reading… chapter after chapter, after digesting the daily news and reset opinion.

If you can’t read that article on faz.net (as its in German) or if the article or the book are too long, I would recommend to watch this TED-Talk which takes only about 19 minutes, during which Hans Rosling summarizes a few of the facts in a very interesting way.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Predicting the Future of AI

This week, I read an article on the web-site of the German magazine Technology Review. I really liked the article because it summarizes nicely several things that I also believe. But it is not just a sceptical article, but written by an expert from the field with insight and thoughtful opinion and not just someone who publishes a rant on a hype topic.

Essay: Die sieben Todsünden der KI-Vorhersagen – Heise-Verlag / Technology Review (Germany)

Original Article: The Seven Deadly Sins of Predicting the Future of AI – by Rodney Brooks

A couple of personal thoughts on the topic: Intelligence in itself isn’t actually understood yet. This starts with the discussion around animals, and which ones are intelligent, or not, or which behaviour may be sign of intelligence or is rather a learned reaction to a specific cause or trigger.

Also Arthur C. Clarke wrote already many years back: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. What I mean here is that a lot of recent technology advancements in AI are certainly impressing, but in the end just “technology”. Assigning these things the label “intelligence” is just an opinion, which I personally would not agree to.

One specific aspect of the Essay is “exponentialism”. We human beings struggle to really get this aspect. When the chess computers were invented and finally even beat the world champion, the victory of AI was predicted very soon. What an over-estimation. But now again with AlphaGO, the same thing happens. I do certainly understand the advancement of this technology, but this machine can just play GO. Yes, it is “clever” enough to learn other board games, but just that. If we humans play a game and someone decides to slightly change a rule (like the many poker variants), we humans can easily adjust. The AlphaGO has to relearn and adapt in a very lengthy process. Human intelligence is exponentially above those technologies.

This makes it so hard for AI to survive in the real world… we humans don’t just follow rules, instead we are very creative in changing, adapting or breaking them all the time. Like in traffic… if you drive just 5km to work, you need to follow some, let’s say, 100 rules, easily. But if you watch very closely you will see that we also constantly break many of these rules. And humans can easily adjust to that behaviour, and still almost nothing happens. OK, almost. I am very sceptical if we will really see self-driving cars around in 5 years… and if, then only in controlled areas, e.g. highways.

But this specific example brings us to another aspect… the under-estimation, or more importantly, the expectations towards technology. The self-driving cars are expected to drive flawlessly. Guys, that will never happen. Of course the will be accidents caused by such cars. But then again: we humans are overall terrible drivers… in Germany 3.177 people died in 2017 in car accidents, no self-driving car around yet. Although this sounds just like inhuman statistics, the point will be if self-driving cars will cause less accidents than humans. And I guess this is a likely possibility… in several years … t.b.d.

In summary: I do certainly understand the advances in AI recently with automated machine learning etc., and I am fascinated by some of these technologies. But I’m far from a hype-state, thinking that humans will be 50% or even 80% “obsolete” in many areas like some people state. Maybe such a thing may happen in a distant future, but I would not bet on it. And I don’t believe this will be in the next 10 years, and likely not during my lifetime.

Mallorca 2018

Blühender Mandelbaum

This year the training camp was as early as never before (for me). Due to the Easter vacation in Germany and other appointments of my friends, we already went in the beginning of March from Fr. 2nd to Sun 18th of March. A good 2 weeks during which I did 16 tours. Almond-cake is one of my favourites on Mallorca, but so far we could only eat it. This time we were early enough to see almond blossom, which is usually during February, until early March.

The weather was really nice. It was clear that so early we would not get real summer temperatures. But we reached 15°C minimum during the days and on the warmest day even about 20°C (a little less with about 10-14°C starting in the morning). So we had to wear long shirts or at least leg and arm warmers and always a wind-proof jacket with us. We didn’t have a rain day, there were two or three days with rain during night or early morning, but it went away so that we could start around mid-day latest.

The tours were mean to train the base fitness. So we did relatively slower tours, which was also good for me. Although I had done a number of tours on my gravel bike over winter, some home-training and several rides on the track in Öschelbronn, all those trips were short. In Mallorca we did almost always more than 4 hours. This year I didn’t make that mistake from last year to not doing a pause day. I paused on 2 days with “active regeneration”, i.e. going only 30km very, very slowly. That paid off.

Although we did not do anything really extreme, we did one quite long and flat tour to Cala Figuera (picture below), where I haven’t been in the last 2 years… that’s a very nice place to go to. And of course the obligatory tours to Randa and Orient.

Cala Figuera

Towards end of second week, we did two “top tours” in the mountains. The first was via Caimari to the Col dels Reis down towards Sa Calobra runter (but finally not to Calobra but the neighbour gay Cala Tuent) … and then back via monastery Lluc and Pollenca – 130km and aprox. 2300Hm. Then one shorter day to recover (aprox. 80km), and then another big one: via Bunyola to Soller and then over the Puig Mayor and back again via monastery Lluc and Pollenca – 142,5km and aprox. 2000Hm.

Statistics:

  • ~1550km, with 16 individual tours (the two breaks included)
  • About 18.000 m of accumulated altitude (GPS measured, in reality might be some 10% less)
  • Total riding time (excl. breaks): about 63 hours
  • Total average speed across all tours: 23,8 km/h

This year I didn’t create manual tour entries on GSPies. As I have a GPS watch since last year, I recorded all tours and uploaded to Strava… yes, modern technology.

The first big tour: Cala Tuent (Calobra) on Strava.
The second big tour via Puig Mayor on Strava.

Hallelujah

Hallelujah …

Doesn’t matter if real or fake … but cool… 🙂