On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.
This is volume 384, which is 8!! (8 double factorial). Double factorial is a concept I learned today. Instead of multiplying 8 · 7 · 6 · 5 · 4 · 3 · 2 · 1 you instead skip down by twos, so 8 · 6 · 4 · 2 = 384.
Things Glen Found Interesting
- My AI Safety Lecture for UT Effective Altruism (Scott Aaronson, personal blog): “If you had asked anyone in the 60s or 70s, they would have said, well clearly first robots will replace humans for manual labor, and then they’ll replace humans for intellectual things like math and science, and finally they might reach the pinnacles of human creativity like art and poetry and music.The truth has turned out to be the exact opposite. I don’t think anyone predicted that. GPT, I think, is already a pretty good poet. DALL‑E is already a pretty good artist. They’re still struggling with some high school and college-level math but they’re getting there. It’s easy to imagine that maybe in five years, people like me will be using these things as research assistants—at the very least, to prove the lemmas in our papers. That seems extremely plausible.”
- Recommended by a student.
- How an Unorthodox Scholar Uses Technology to Expose Biblical Forgeries (Chanan Tigay, Smithsonian Magazine): “Afterward, the amateur archaeologist, who would become an eminent scholar and a member of the Institut de France, tried to negotiate with the Bedouin to acquire the stone, but his interest, coupled with offers from other international bidders, further irked the tribesmen; they built a bonfire around the stone and repeatedly doused it with cold water until it broke apart. Then they scattered the pieces.”
- Interesting throughout. Recommended by a student.
- GPT Takes the Bar Exam (Michael Bommarito II & Daniel Martin Katz, arXiv): “For best prompt and parameters, GPT‑3.5 achieves a headline correct rate of 50.3% on a complete NCBE MBE practice exam, significantly in excess of the 25% baseline guessing rate, and performs at a passing rate for both Evidence and Torts. GPT‑3.5’s ranking of responses is also highly-correlated with correctness; its top two and top three choices are correct 71% and 88% of the time, respectively, indicating very strong non-entailment performance. While our ability to interpret these results is limited by nascent scientific understanding of LLMs and the proprietary nature of GPT, we believe that these results strongly suggest that an LLM will pass the MBE component of the Bar Exam in the near future.”
- Source code: https://github.com/mjbommar/gpt-takes-the-bar-exam
- One of the authors (Katz) is a law prof at Illinois Tech, and the other (Bommarito) is a tech dude as well as an assistant law prof (Michigan State).
- Related: “Extraordinary new paper from Google on medicine & AI: When Google tuned a AI chatbot to answer common medical questions, doctors judged 92.6% of its answers right … compared to 92.9% of answers given by other doctors.” Source: https://twitter.com/emollick/status/1610261628607512576
- How the algorithm tipped the balance in Ukraine (David Ignatius, Washington Post): “The power of advanced algorithmic warfare systems is now so great that it equates to having tactical nuclear weapons against an adversary with only conventional ones,” explains Alex Karp, chief executive of Palantir, in an email message. “The general public tends to underestimate this. Our adversaries no longer do.”
- Follow-up: A ‘good’ war gave the algorithm its opening, but dangers lurk (David Ignatius, Washington Post): “For the Army and other services, the impetus for this technology push isn’t just the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but the looming challenge from China — America’s only real peer competitor in technology.”
- The Conservative Who Wants to Bring Down the Supreme Court (Jeannie Suk Gerson, The New Yorker): “One of Mitchell’s close friends from law school is a female lawyer who is married to a woman. She recently told her teen-age daughter that, if their family ever needed someone to donate an organ, she knew they could call on him. ‘But, at the same time, his views, the results of his views, and his politics felt not nice, to put it mildly,’ she said. ‘I always assumed that, since Jonathan is such a good person, that when he aged and knew more people, his views would evolve. I really have trouble reconciling these two parts of him, given my politics and my view of the world, because I just find him to be such a kind, loving person.’ But Mitchell doesn’t strike her as ‘a true believer who will marshal his arguments to justify the outcome,’ she said. ‘I think he actually believes these legal arguments.’ ”
Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen
- Math and Real Life (SMBC)
- Men’s Bodies Are Way More Disgusting Than Women’s (Dry Bar Comedy, YouTube): four minutes
- Miranda Hart Can’t Believe Jack Whitehall’s Cat Painting Ability! (Would I Like To You?, YouTube): five minutes
Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago
Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The Coronavirus and the Right’s Scientific Counterrevolution (Ari Schulman, The New Republic): “That so many views tut-tutted as the irrational defiance of expert consensus actually became the expert consensus in the span of just a few weeks vividly suggests that we need to reexamine just how our culture talks about expertise. The problem is not mainly that the experts were wrong—that is to be expected. It is, rather, that our lead institutions and public information outlets continually treated the assurances of experts as neutral interpretations of settled science when they plainly were not.” Interesting throughout and still relevant. From volume 259
Why Do You Send This Email?
In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.
Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.