Kevin McElvaney/The Atlantic

1. The brutal beginning of the sulfur supply chain is in an Indonesian volcano.

"Ijen spits out striking blue flames that are only visible at night, which is when tourists hike up the mountain to see them. The sulfur miners get started shortly afterward, around sunrise, to do a few hours of work before the heat of the day sets in. They use simple tools such as stones, steel bars, and shovels to break the sulfur into chunks small enough to load into baskets and bags, which they then haul two hours back down the mountain. They can sell their harvest for about 7 cents a kilogram, so some miners carry up to 90 kilograms on their shoulders in large baskets connected by bamboo poles. The few miners who are capable of making the full four-hour trip up and back down the mountain twice a day can earn about $11."

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2. Bananas, but super smart essay about memes and marketing and the line between physical and digital.

"Finally, what is a trending meme, #BABYCORE, doing crawling on top of a would-be meme, #ANNOTATE, on a billboard in Manhattan, without any hashtags, engineered by the progenitor of #NORMCORE? The meme marriage would appear to be a piggy-back, one riding the other into popular culture in an avant-garde marketing campaign that sheds typical corporate anxiety about legibility and lowest common denominator demographics. There are no hand holds, no footnotes revealing the message for those who don’t get it, and no hashtags guiding your confused IRL self into the oracle of digital space. Indeed, there are no digital markings whatsoever on this old media, physical world billboard broadcasting a cryptic message for a digital company on the back of an Internet trend."

3. People don't seem to like machines that give them tickets, even if those machines make the community safer.

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"If the goal is getting people to slow down, the cameras seem to be working. According to WNYC’s analysis, the number of speeding tickets issued by each camera fell steadily over time. Crashes dropped, too. In areas where we located installed cameras, there were 13 percent fewer collisions from September through December last year, compared to the same period in 2013."

4. Thick history of deep learning and Geoff Hinton, including this great indication of the scope of the general AI challenge.

"Many of the dreams Rosenblatt shared in his news conference have come true. Others, like computer consciousness, remain distant. The largest neural nets today have about a billion connections, 1,000 times the size of a few years ago. But that’s tiny compared with the brain. A billion connections is a cubic millimeter of tissue; in a brain scan, it’d be less than a voxel. We’re far from human intelligence. Hinton remains intrigued and inspired by the brain, but he knows he’s not recreating it. It’s not even close."

5. Erica Scourti's Body Scan is fascinating video art.

"Body Scan captures a process of photographing various parts of my body and parsing them through a visual search app which attempts to identify them and link to relevant online information. A documented gesture of mediated intimacy told through iPhone screenshots, it, along with the voice-over text, narrates an exchange between lovers, while making literal the objectification of female bodies on the Internet."

Today on Fusion: Cara De Fabio coins a term for those crazy videos where all of the episodes of a Friends' season play at once or a hundred Simpsons gags appear on the same screen. Meet the superfuse, "the visual and aural representation of our overwhelming, cacophonous online culture."

Today's 1957 American English Usage Tip:

differentia. Fig. distinguishing mark or characteristic: To be inconsistent… is the very differentia of myths.

+ This would be more interesting as a kind of ailment, if you ask me. The pathological need to be different.

The Credits

1. theatlantic.com 2. medium.com 3. wnyc.com 4. chronicle.com 5. filmmakermagazine.com

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