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You should read - Apr 22

Work has been intense for a bit and will be for a good while longer. So, this week's list is more of a "to-do" list for me.

Just One Thing

Ted Chiang interview (The Ezra Klein Show)
I'm not familiar with sci-fi writer Ted Chiang and I have no idea how this appeared in my podcast app, but I'm glad it did. Fascinating conversation about the ethical implications of AI and how humanity's unhappy history with animals points to a similarly troubling relationship with nascent AI.

Now, I really need to watch Arrival.

Howard Zinn

Earlier this week, I ran across a terrific bit about the meaning of hope, from the activist historian Howard Zinn:

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

I'm embarrassed to say I've never read anything of Zinn's. A year or two ago, I picked up a battered used copy of A People's History of the United States that unfortunately sits near the bottom of my ever-growing to-read pile. But I've been aware of him peripherally since college, when my then-conservative mind saw him as a subversive anti-American. My view of him now could not be more opposite.

Collected Ephemera

When Fascism Comes to America