275: TZ Discussion – In God We Trust, Everyone Else Bring Data

Justin and Jason discuss Justin’s short-lived madness about algorithmic trading, the book Building Algorithmic Trading Systemsusing neural networks to predict the future price of Bitcoin, why Jason said no to doing the MIT Circuits & Electronics MOOC with his friend Phil, the unexpected benefits of working on toy problems, why teaching the accelerated math class is Jason’s favorite three hours of the week, the conditions under which accelerating kids can provide significant advantages and when it doesn’t, Colby’s “IQ” test and Ms. Extra Credit, moving God’s Tweets from a VPS to EC2, RDS and S3 and how changing Apple developer accounts caused a iOS/OSX/Titanium upgrade cascade, MaxCDN vs. Amazon’s CloudFront, tricks for developing professional-looking Titanium apps, the TED talk – Behind the Great Firewall of China and how Obama and Cameron are cracking down on encryption, why Jason, like most most security researchers, doesn’t believe North Korea was behind the Sony attack, why it’s a good idea to dismiss government claims when they fail to provide evidence, Seymour Hersh’s debunking of the USG’s claim that Syria used chemical weapons, the failed SpaceX Falcon 9 landing and Elon Musk’s recent announcement about the Texas Hyperloop experimentLarry Summer’s response to Marc Andreessen’s tweet storm about secular stagnation, a listener’s app Happy Scaleswhy pursuing an academic career in math or science is the new monasticism, replicating the career paths of Elon Musk and Jeff Hawkinsthe sudden handwringing about the future threat of strong AI, the series ExtantBlack Mirror and Video Game High School, the problem with uploading your intelligence into a digital world, the cloned bull that changedLászló Polgár and the nature nurture debate, Justin’s walking desk and the quest for workout economy, how Jason’s leg injury has put a pause on Operation Superhero and his philosophy of how to continue making progress (see Ray Liotta’s rant in Copland).

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11 Comments
  1. Edwin Ashdiwn says:

    Another great episode, glad you guys are back.
    Amazing coincidence that the NPR Clone bull episode that you referred too was just repeated this week on This American Life.

  2. Great Show!

    @Jason @Justin

    The show has helped me in a lot of little ways. From hearing you guys talk about node.js to your various life hacks. I appreciate that you guys have kept the show going for so long even though you both are super busy outside of TechZing.

    In short, I just wanted to give back.

    Also I feel like giving money is kind of cheating. I test sites and apps by day, so let me know if you need help testing anything.

  3. Good episode. Of course! The maths stuff resonates with me (with the extra ‘s’ of course because I’m British!).

    Here’s my story.

    My dad was a maths teacher, and I was doing maths for 16 year olds at home when I was 10 – the last year of “primary school”. In the UK 16 is the age of the first real set of exams, the GCSEs, and you prepare for these at secondary school, essentially high school, from the age of 11.

    They had no special programmes, and my dad was no longer on the scene. So I spent 5 years getting very bored in maths lessons because I could already do it. I didn’t really learn anything new and lost enthusiasm. I also lost the important feeling that maths is something you have to learn.

    Fast-forward to the next stage of education, A-levels at 18, and I really struggled with maths. I didn’t know what was being taught, and was out of the habit of learning. I even resented learning, being frustrated and not “just knowing” it.

    I flunked it, big time. I regrouped myself, and took it again for an extra year, delaying going to University for a year. I got over myself, applied myself to learning and aced it. But really, on reflection I shouldn’t have been in that position.

    This is going back to the ’90’s, so I’m over it now. But I think it highlights the importance of momentum and enthusiasm with learning.

  4. Jason says:

    @Simon Holmes – That’s an interesting story. Yeah, going “off-trail” and moving faster than the herd is always a risk and it makes sense that that kind of thing could happen if it was abandoned mid-step.

    My plan is to stick with these kids for the duration and to keep working with them as long as they’re interested. There were a couple kids in my high school who did Calculus in 9th grade (age 14/15) and for the remainder of high school (10th – 12th) ether worked independently with a math professor from the University of Georgia (Roy Smith – http://www.math.uga.edu/~roy/) or took courses like Abstract Algebra at Georgia Tech, which was nearby our school. Both benefitted tremendously – going on to do extremely well at Harvard (physics) and Yale (math). Jeff Brock (the one who went to Yale – http://www.math.brown.edu/~brock/) went on to become one of the top knot theorists in the word and is now the chair of the mathematics department at Brown.

    There were others as well, who were both younger and older than me, who followed a similar path and also did extremely well afterwards, so that’s the model I’m looking at. If done right and seen through to the end, it can be an amazing experience for the kids and have huge payoffs for them later.

  5. Richard says:

    On the subject of AI – I just saw Ex Machina at the cinema: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0470752. Kind of an unsettling film but a really interesting story around consciousness of an AI. I’d recommend it.

    Kevin Rose was saying on the Random Show that he lost weight by walking on a treadmill playing games on his iPad but while wearing a weight vest. Maybe the next step for Justin! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYZlfotxvSc (42 mins in)

  6. Jason says:

    @Richard – Ex Machina looks awesome! Colby and I will be watching it this weekend!

    Yeah, I like the idea of the weight vest. Then again I like anything that will make Justin work hard. 😉

  7. I loved the AI / consciousness conversation. You were talking about how it’s hard to prove if a machine is consciousness or just a really good intimation, if you have a few minutes this is a really good story about replicating human consciousness if you’re interested, https://sites.google.com/site/asenselessconversation/

    Also, if you haven’t already starting watching Blank Mirror I couldn’t recommend it more. Personally I think it’s the best TV series ever made. The alternative futures it creates are both realistic and possible which makes the ideas and problems it brings up really chilling to watch. Nearly ever episode left me feeling genuinely freaked out by what the future might hold. The latest White Christmas special might be a good place to start. It brings up both the dangers of not respecting privacy as technology allows us to be more and more invasive and also questions if we should give rights to artificially consciousness beings.

  8. Richard says:

    @Jason – Ex Machina definitely isn’t a film for Colby, there’s quite a lot that’s not appropriate for kids. You might have to take Justin.

  9. Jason says:

    @Richard – Oh, right. I didn’t see that it was rated R. That’s too bad.

  10. Jason says:

    @Lee Jacobson – The AI conversation looks interesting. Bookmarked for later iPad consumption!

    Yeah, I’m definitely going to watch Black Mirror. I need some decent science fiction in my life.

  11. Danilo Celic says:

    RE: Me and my clone as a sci-fi story. George R.R. Martin is a co-author of a book called Hunter’s Run that deals with some of the implications: http://www.amazon.com/Hunters-Run-George-R-Martin/dp/0061373303