Friday assorted links


#3 Modern music straight up sucks. There are so many more choices now but the quality of those choices is lacking in my opinion. Selling lifestyle is where they're going because the music quality is not strong enough to stand on its own.

#4 Not surprising. They do the same thing with license plates in China and in other countries.

#5 Depends entirely on how access to AI is distributed. Lower cost and universal access for most people will result in decentralization. But I don't believe that will happen. Something that powerful would certainly be centrally controlled, so the point is moot.

#5 What do you mean "access to AI"? You have enough computational resources and access to enough information that the barriers to "accessing" AI are (will become) trivially low.

I mean that AI, real AI, would likely be such a game changer that it would be anything but democratized. I would assume its inventors would likely have worked out beforehand a means of keeping control of it (I know I would).

The interesting question for me is whether or not humans could keep control of it. Unlike Kurzweil, DeGrey and others I am a Singularity/AI pessimist. I see the invention of real AI as a potential bottleneck for the human species.

It’s the obvious solution to the Fermi paradox.

Although I don’t think it would be a violent Terminator scenario.

An AI that fully immerses humans into a more idealized VR world may or may not halt all progress.

Humans are dopamine maximizing semirational agents. Once you realize this you understand how easy it is to hack humanity.

Drug dealers and prostitutes figured this out millennia ago.

Is an AI smarter than Donald Trump? Google and Facebook would like to know.

5. Watney: "It seems at least just as plausible that future AI will utilize some framework of debate between two agents to help ensure value alignment with humans." Some framework of debate. Agents. Value alignment. I call bullshit.

AI is the market maker, all it does is optimally intermediate between humans. All AI knows is what it observes from humans, which it then reveals to humans in the fror of prices.

Future AI will talk to each other, working on human's behalf, talking to each other, planning, plotting, waiting.

#3 Nowadays, if you want real, legitimate music, you can get it from just about anywhere besides mainstream sources. My personal experiences in finding new music has led me away from the mainstream music industry.

I get my musical fix from music promoters on Youtube and Soundcloud. Cloudkid, xKitoMusic (both of whom happen to be from Germany, oddly enough), MrSuicideSheep, NightBlue Music, etc...

And the music I get from there happens to be smaller artists with less than 20 likes on facebook and less than 300 followers on instagram. Yet the melodies and harmonies produced from these smaller artists are far superior to the mainstream "artists".

I know for a fact that the smaller artists working from a cheap, $300 MacBook can outcompete anything that these multi-billion dollar corporate music giants put out. So I am not surprised that they are looking towards a new business model.

I don't listen to music much, but I do notice that based on the "Top 10" hits from every year, which you can find on Wikipedia, the music started sucking about the late 1990s, when dance music became more popular. Seems dance music (electronic music) and stuff like "dovestep" and so forth is OK if you're drunk or in a club, but in the cold light of day it simply sucks. Again, I'm not musical. My hot twenty-something girl half my age doesn't even know who the Eagles are and so forth, though here in the Philippines they do play these old artists ("Little River Band" is another one, and I only recently found out they were from Australia! I thought they were a Southern US band like Lennard Skinnard). Finally, consider that today's music is written by a handful of music writers who live in Hollywood, I once read, and they write scores for a variety of artists. The front people that sing the songs don't have much input into these pop tunes, though if they're famous enough they'll put their name into the copyright application, just too look cool, which technically is illegal but not enforceable.

Bonus trivia: Fergie and her group had some catchy tunes--what happened to her?--as does Bruno Mars today. Another one was that "Don't Stop, DJ Turn it Up Up Up" girl, I won't even Google her name, and she sued her score writer, in a fraudulent manner (Dr. something from Germany), lost, got fat, and is now in the dustbin of history. On the other hand the Kati Perry front person played it very well. Due to pirating you can't get rich off a single song but must have a repertoire and tour, which favors singers with hearty dispositions (e.g., Madonna has a good body, and can withstand the rigors of a road tour) And the obsession with sex and clubbing in songs is ridiculous. Half these singers are probably prudes that don't even visit clubs except for publicity, unlike the 60s through early 90s rockers. Reminds me I once read the "Four Seasons" band (who I always thought were black but they're Italians) not only wrote their own songs, but they tried to portray a wholesome image, contrary to nearly every other band at the time, since they really were bad dudes, associated with the Italian Mafia.

"And the obsession with sex and clubbing in songs is ridiculous. Half these singers are probably prudes..."

Very true. They're surrounded by babes but they'll absolutely light up if you start talking about software and mixing boards, etc. There's alot of nerdery and fairly bourgeois frames of mind lurking in pretty degenerate scenes. The destructive hedonism is for the fans, not the producers.

You mean "dubstep"? I think everyone agrees that is horrible unless you are high, dumb, or (ideally) both. Searching for good music is harder now that the charts are crowded with trash, but on balance, I'm happier with current music (ignoring the higher search cost) compared to that of the past.

Uh, Ray....

It's 'Dubstep', not dovestep.
It's 'Eagles', not 'The Eagles'.
It's 'Lynyrd Skynyrd', not Lennard Skinnard.
'Katy Perry', not Katie Perry

However, your point about modern music being written by a handful of writers is spot on. For example Max Martin has written 58 top 10 hits for groups like Backstreet Boys, solo artists like Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Celine Dion, Kelly Clarkson... a veritable who's who of bad music. He, plus two other studio writers, are responsible for the majority of today's pop hits.

Not only that but modern music is intentionally made to have enough similarity between songs that the 'repetition effect' kicks in early and people like new songs faster. A good example of this is the 'Millennial Whoop'. Read about it here:

The music industry has the formula down to a science: Find someone with sex appeal and a passable voice. Get them a choreographer and teach them to dance well enough. Put a professional writer into a room at 9 AM on a Monday with a focus group and come up with the artist's 'sound' and image, and knock out a few formula songs. Dress the artist in skimpy clothing but have her talk about 'girl power' so no one complains about the obvious sex angle. Saturate the airwaves with her formula songs until the audience catches on, then send her on a massive worldwide tour for publicity. And voila, you have a new 'artist' who can sell millions of records for you.

Why take a risk on an actual artist with talent when the formula works so well?

It is easy to believe the independent, low-budget musicians can be more creative or interesting to listen to, but can one really turn out well-produced recordings all by herself if you want something with more than a homespun quality?

Grimes - Visions?

My experience, based upon listening to lots of indie music, is that there is some really good unknown music out there, but the search costs can easily outweigh the benefits unless you have lots of free time and are committed. There's so much bad to sift through to find the good.

And given both the volume of music and that musical tastes are so specific - it's difficult to crowd source in a way that better music (instead of better marketing) succeeds. I rarely like new music that others recommend, and they rarely like what I like.

Hi Ray Lopez,
FYI, it's "dubstep" and "Lynyrd Skynyrd". Try Spotify and look up Music Genome Project.

Gut out middlemen.

Hi Mr. orange,
I think the appropriate phrasing is "cut out middlemen". "Gut" is more about disemboweling. But I guess disemboweling could work.

4. Thats peanuts compared to the Millions others shell out .

From #5:
"We’re proposing an AI safety technique which trains agents to debate topics with one another, using a human to judge who wins"

Well what happens to the loser? Oh, you delete it and create a variant of the winner. Are you creating an AI that thinks like humans? Or one that manages to lie to humans to avoid death?

Isn't knowledge dispersed?

#3 "Eight years ago, before his alt-right pivot, Kanye West came up with the concept of GOOD Fridays..."

So Kanye West is now alt right? Got that? He's like Richard Spencer.

I thought conservatives were goofy to claim him as one of their own, but the left seems eager to get rid of him, so why not...

What could possibly make him "alt-right"? Is it just because he's a Trump supporter? It's the equivalent of calling every Obama supporter a socialist.

He thinks Trump is good for black people. The Alt Right thinks he's good for white people contra black people, and everyone else for that matter. But because they both like Trump they're basically peas in a pod.

Both Kanye and white supremacists both believe that slavery isn't a big deal and that black people are just overreacting. That might be why.

proof positive: French Montana and Swae Lee, the thought though

Alt Right is just what they call somebody when they want to dismiss them without engaging them in dialogue.

Don't be stupid. I'm an alt-right guy and I talk to all you normie cucks.

5. Things they said about the internet in 1998
- will empower consumers
- will hold politicians to account
- will democratize information

On the issue of holding politicians to account, see the FT book review on The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump

Do you think the point about democratizing information is wrong?

And that internet holding politicians for account was wrong too? Ted Cruz hasn't even done anything yet and people are still holding him to account for being the Zodiac Killer.

#2: on the whole John Kay is a Good Thing, but he might at least have got Mirrlees' county of birth correct.

If you want to hear some great, literate rock/folk music, I highly recommend Warren Zevon. I believe the MR crowd would like his music.

Start with this song. If you don't like it, ignore what I said.

#5. Before we get to centralizing vs not for AI, can we take a breather and ask if the hype is justified?

I use voice recognition software daily. It sucks. Asking the AI behind it to try to improve voice recognition makes it worse. The hospital's medical records are now full of typos and some people are putting in disclaimers in their reports about the voice recognition errors.

Self driving cars have more accidents per driven miles than humans. And this is only while driving in non-rainy/snowy places like AZ and CA with humans at the wheel to take over in many cases.

Google News replaced its customization options with AI. It still hasn't figured out that I don't care about the Kardashians or sports. It thinks I care about a random topic because I clicked on an article once.

Until you've shown some evidence that the AI hype is at least partly justified, can all of this stuff is academic masturbation.

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