Top Reads: April 2023

This month's issue covers the future of travel, methane leaks and only one article on AI.

Top Reads: April 2023
Photo by Lily / Unsplash

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Hi, folks. I hope you had a nice day (and month). Let's get to it!


1. Finally, a realistic roadmap for getting AI companies in check

Vox | 6 minutes

CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images

According to the authors (go Sarah Myers West!), policies that limit data collection, mandate audits, and require self-reviews could go a long way. We need to get ahead of this exponential tech and reduce the odds it will threaten humanity.  

“[T]he report’s top recommendation is to create policies that place the burden on the companies themselves to demonstrate that they’re not doing harm. Just as a drugmaker has to prove to the FDA that a new medication is safe enough to go to market, tech companies should have to prove that their AI systems are safe before they’re released.”

2. Big Tech's big downgrade

Business Insider | 6 minutes

iStock; Marianne Ayala/Insider

Big tech has pushed new strategies, services and ads to get a stock bump - often at the cost of the user experience.

“…[I]nstead of trying to meaningfully innovate and improve the useful services they provide, these companies have instead chased short-term fads or attempted to totally overhaul their businesses in a desperate attempt to win the favor of Wall Street investors. As a result, our collective online experience is getting worse — it's harder to buy the things you want to buy, more convoluted to search for information, and more difficult to socialize with people.”

3. Quitters

No Mercy / No Malice | 8 minutes

The ultra rich doomsday preppers are betting on catastrophe. The reformers are here to invest in a shared future.

“History’s greatest leaders aren’t quitters, but reformers. Abraham Lincoln felt it was his “duty to preserve the Union,” not to accept its division and cauterize the wound. Despite the headlines, and all the work to be done, our nation’s arc still bends toward bringing groups together. From Civil Rights to gay marriage, America still strives to bring people closer under the auspices of a shared belief in a union that offers liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

4. Why This White House Regulatory Overhaul Is a Big Deal for Climate

PolicyHeatmap | 10 minutes

Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

This regulatory shift could change how the government factors climate change into new policies. The more our policies consider the social cost of carbon, the more they will protect the future. New policies with this framework will help local governments bear the cost of climate resilience.

“Take, for example, a new rule to reduce pollution from power plants, which low-income communities are disproportionately affected by. Under the new system, the financial benefits of such a regulation would appear much higher than they currently do, because more weight would be given to the health rewards and other gains the community would see from that regulation.”

5. Video: “Why Nobody Knows How Much Methane is Leaking.”

Bloomberg | 6 minutes

Part of a great series from Bloomberg with Karl Penn. Methane is especially potent for the first few years it’s in the atmosphere, and regulations are subpar. We need to change these rules now and close corporate loopholes.

”A Bloomberg investigation found that companies are allowed to self report their pollution based on their own interpretation of the EPAs rules.”

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6. What’s the Future of Gas Stations in an EV World?

Inside Climate News | 6 minutes

Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty

The infrastructure for electric vehicles will serve more than just drivers. Cars will become batteries on wheels for homes, business and disaster relief services.

“The availability of charging at home and work means that the customers at charging stations will be less of a general population, and more people with specific needs. The main two categories would be people on long trips and those who don’t have access to charging at home or work.”

7. Through The Looking Glass

Modem | 8 minutes

Bram Fritz

This AR tech will take time to develop. Someday, Gen Alpha will laugh at Millennials when we can’t figure out how to navigate this new UI for reality.

“For AR to become truly useful, it will require carefully refined interfaces that help users make sense of their new, computer-enhanced vision. Humans are accustomed to the old way of looking — the kind that merely gathers information, not the kind that manipulates the object being viewed. A delicate spectrum of sight-based interactivity will have to develop, from glancing to gazing, at least as nuanced and intuitive as a smartphone’s touch sensitivity. Vision will not just be about what we look at, but also how we look at it.”

8. Lunar laws could protect the moon from humanity

Popsci | 7 minutes

NASA

Should we preserve historic sites in space? Yeah, probably. But maybe let’s honor cultural homelands and stolen artifacts here first.

“In 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon and left behind that first footprint. Some view it as comparable to any archeological site on Earth—without the same protections. Undisturbed, the footprint could last for a million years. But a revived interest in the moon means the lunar surface is about to be busier than ever. No law specifically defends the footprint or sites like it from being run over by a lunar rover or astronauts on a joyride.”

9. Traditional passports may be replaced by human heartbeats in the future

Time Out | 3 minutes

easyJet

The Future Travel Report claims that biometrics, personalization and 3D printing will be part of the travel experience by 2070. If this is the future of travel, let's hope it's accessible for more than just the rich.

“[Experts] believe that plane seats will be able to adapt to a person's body shape, and optoelectronic inflight entertainment will see content get beamed directly to passengers’ eyes. That’s not all: a language hearing aid will translate other languages in real-time, making the term ‘language barrier’ a thing of the past. Once you arrive at your destination, a tailored hotel stay will be waiting for you. The experts expect smart rooms that allow guests to choose their desired bed firmness, room temperature, and ambient music to be introduced. And, advancements in 3D printing will mean you can arrive without a suitcase, as you will simply print the clothes and items you need when you arrive, only to pop them in a recycling bin when returning."

10. Why I Plan to Parent Like a Norwegian

Outside | 11 minutes

Fox Photos/Getty

I’m not a parent just yet, but this article was interesting. We’re so conditioned by American social norms that we forget there are other ways to set kids up for success.

“Such experiences—attending a forest school, sleeping outdoors in winter—are part of Norwegians’ national identity, which in part is rooted in wilderness capability and resilience. Axel Rosenberg, a lecturer at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo, told me that this trait is captured by the word friluftsliv.”

Bonus:  Misconceptions: Some common geographic mental misplacements

John Nelson | 5 minutes

John Nelson

If you like geography, this series is for you. Easily scrollable and lots of insights on the globe. Did you know that Minneapolis and Venice are on the same latitude?

"If learned early on, a foundationally incorrect view of the world can perpetuate, as students naturally build knowledge in light of a past, incorrect, understanding. Something as basic as our assumptions about the relative locations of Earth's continents is an interesting, and actually sort of fun, example of how we can get things wrong right off the bat. Ultimately, everything is learned, but some curious geographic errors tend to persist more than others."

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Until next month,

Garrett

Breezy Point, Queens, NY