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Unusual robotic eye in steampunk style. Focused robot look. Background pattern close-up.

What Goes Right and Wrong When We Predict a High-Tech Future

A pundit who predicted the internet also thought that the horse would be nearly extinct by now

An article in Ladies’ Home Journal predicted 2001 a century earlier. Here’s a video version: Futurism is a hit and miss business: Fast food is predicted (3:40) but so is the extinction of the horse (3:20). Apparently, the futurist, John Elfreth Watkins, Jr., did not foresee a future for horses in recreation and sports except for “the rich.” He predicted the internet and wireless communications in principle (5:57, 13:29): “A husband sitting in the middle of the Atlantic will be able to converse with his wife sitting in her boudoir in Chicago.” But, surprisingly, he did not see much of a commercial future for the airplane but rather favored dirigibles and electrified ships (8:20ff). He predicted high-speed trains but also…

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man riding on self balancing board graffiti

Election Models: Predicting the Past is Easy — and Useless

You can seldom see where you are going by looking in a rear-view mirror
I told my students that I had a model that predicted the popular vote for the the last ten presidential elections (1980–2016) perfectly. Read More ›
Photo by OLEG PLIASUNOV

Did the Economist Really “Interview” an AI?

Perhaps they have a private definition of what an interview "is"…

Faced with a claim that an AI language tool had given an interview, I took the advice I gave readers yesterday, and followed the links. What a revelation. The Economist story was more dishonest than the examples that Siegel discussed in Scientific American.

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AI machines taking over the world?

It’s a cool apocalypse but does that make it more likely?

Doomsday thinking is easily mocked. The character marching  hairy and barefoot under his “End Is Near” sign, is a staple of cartoons in middlebrow mags. Yet when media magnets market doomsday scenarios—like the late Stephen Hawking (“worst event in the history of our civilization”) and Elon Musk (“an immortal dictator from which we would never escape”) — it’s a Cool apocalypse.

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