What I’ve been reading

Thomas J. Campanella, Brooklyn: The Once and Future City. More detailed than what I am looking for on this topic at 552 pp., but some of you will find this an interesting resource.

Nicholas Lemann, Transaction Man: The Rise of the Deal and the Decline of the American Dream.  Lots of mood affiliation in this one, but the chapter on finance economist Michael Jensen and his longstanding connection with “guru” Werner Erhard is excellent material you cannot find elsewhere.

Tom Segev, A State At Any Cost: The Life of David Ben-Gurion.  I read about one-third of this one.  A fine book, beautifully written, but somehow too much of the material felt familiar given other accounts I had consumed.

Joshua Gans and Andrew Leigh, Innovation and Equality: How to Create a Future That is More Star Trek and Less Terminator.  A very useful 131 pp. introduction to those issues, most of all arguing that a future full of innovation does not have to push inequality to untenable levels.

Matthew Gale and Natalia Sidlina, Natalia Goncharova.  The images in this book I found mind-blowing, claiming a place for Goncharova as one of the very best artists of her time (and what a time for the visual arts it was).

Edward Snowden, Permanent Record.  Starts slow, but an interesting read no matter what you think of him, most of all of how one can step by step be led to actions one did not originally intend.  I thought his own case for what he did was weaker than I had been expecting.  Embedding it in an “the internet used to be so much better” narrative doesn’t help.  Nonetheless, I read through to the end eagerly.


A very useful 131 pp. introduction to those issues, most of all arguing that a future full of innovation does not have to push inequality to untenable levels.
The bots will make us all more equal and work a lot more.

We humans make good slaves, we have opposing thumbs and eat dirt. Cheap stuff for a bot with no arms or legs.

The idea that there will be an extended period of robots with similar intelligence to ourselves seems wrong to me. By the bootstrap principle, says that once a true AI has been created, it can immediately be used to create an improved next generation AI, and so on. So very quickly AI will reach levels of intelligence far beyond anything ever seen in humans. What would an intelligence with an IQ of several million look like or want? No-one can really know, but I doubt their concerns will be about extracting labor from humans.

If the AI software is written by the people who write the electronic healthcare record software that the Obama administration mandated we have nothing to fear- it will be garbage

Re: Snowden

You say his case was weaker than expected. So what do you say should be his fate? A patriot of conscience that told the truth or an unprincipled leaker of state secrets?

'Embedding it in an “the internet used to be so much better” narrative doesn’t help. '

Well, he does have a problem with surveillance technologies becoming an integral part of the Internet as experienced by most people today. But then, what would Snowden know about the glorious future of the tech industry?

Inequality is not necessarily inequity. We must move beyond the French Revolution.

Does innovation mean exporting basic manufacturing to other countries?

Brooklyn? Gotta write a book about the Bronx? :-)

would recommend this about the Bronx:

Looks good. Just bought it. Thank you.

A patriot who dared to tell the truth despite knowing that he would be smacked down, nailed to a cross that he was forced to carry, or chased into exile. As it has been and should be. Why should prophets and patriots not have to pay for their deeds? Early Christians competed for the honor of being fed to hungry wild beasts. To be clear I'm saying yes it's good to "do the right thing" but don't expect it to be cost-free.

Adding to my comment above - the idea that in an age of AI our biggest concern would be inequality, just seems laughable to me. AI will totally transform our society but inequality, or global warming, or any of the other issues currently causing the internet hysterics won't be at all part of the issue.

Myself I am pinning my hopes on the multi-verse aka quantum immortality; there must be one branch where we figure out how to survive in an AI world.

I would not have known of these books and may not read them but I am glad to know about them and what you think. Thank you.

Did the Ben-Gurion book mention his opinion that the Palestinians are principally descendants of the Jews of Roman times?

The current suppression of the whistleblower case has proven Snowden right. Go straight to the press as the whistleblower process can't be trusted.

Hi Tyler, Have you read the book - Wealth of Religions by Robert J Barro, and Rachel McCleary ?

If yes - do you have any opinion on it ?


The prose of the Snowden book was written for Snowden by the novelist Joshua Cohen. Cohen had previously written a very complicated novel (Book of Numbers) wherein the main character ghostwrites a memoir for a technology Founder.

Cohen's involvement is the only reason why I may consider reading it. But I probably won't. I'm still trying to figure out why I should care about the surveillance issue. Personally, I hope the internet gets destroyed, somehow. I'm hoping God will figure out how to make it happen

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