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Bennett’s Five Links #063
A different kind of Turing test; Mastadonian blocs
An ironic use for machine learning ..
TIL that Alan Turing, the mathematician renowned for his contributions to computer science and codebreaking, converted his savings into silver during WW2 and buried it, fearing German invasion. However, he was unable to break his own code describing where it was hidden, and never recovered it.
And from the comments —
Sort of a similar incident with a happier ending, when Germany invaded Denmark during WWII there were two German scientists living there who were Nobel Prize recipients (Max von Laue & James Franck), the German government had banned all Germans from accepting or keeping Nobel Prizes.
To keep the Nazis from seizing them a Hungarian chemist named George de Hevesy dissolved the medals in aqua regia and placed the liquid in a lab along with a large number of common chemicals. The Nazis never realized what was there and after the war de Hevesy recovered the solution, precipitated the gold out and returned it to the Nobel Foundation, the medals were recast and returned to Laue and Franck.
Bloc parties ..
I’m not smart enough to understand global hegemonic politics. But I really enjoyed this article, which tries to make me a little bit smarter on the topic.
After the end of the Cold War, the United States forged a new world. The driving, animating idea behind this new world was the belief that global trade integration would restrain international conflict. At first this rested on a Fukuyama-type “end of history” theory that political and economic liberalization would follow globalization, but as it became clear that various bureaucratic one-party oligarchies and petrostates (most notably China and Russia) were resistant to the end of history, the hopes for trade became more modest — at least countries that depended on each other economically would not fall into active conflict.
We didn’t just pay lip service to this theory; we bet the entire world on it. The U.S. and Europe championed the admission of China into the World Trade Organization, and deliberately looked the other way on a number of things that might have given us reason to restrict trade with China (currency manipulation in the 00s, various mercantilist policies, poor labor and environmental standards). As a result, the global economy underwent a titanic shift. Whereas global manufacturing, trading networks, and supply chains had once been dominated by the U.S., Japan, and Germany, China now came to occupy the central place in all of these ..
Wuttke has every incentive to say that China is still oriente toward economic growth and that the China business environment is still attractive for multinational companies. And yet he is saying the opposite. I tend to believe him. There are a ton of evidence that Xi’s regime is de-prioritizing the foreign businesses whose investment helped build China up to where it is today.
In other words, whereas during the Chimerica era both countries prioritized the mutual economic benefits they could get from a symbiotic relationship, they now prioritize the zero-sum military and geopolitical competition to which economics are a key input.
In any case, this vision — a largely but not completely bifurcated global system of production and trade, with two technologically advanced high-output blocs competing head to head — seems like the most likely replacement for the Chimerica system that dominated the global economy over the past two decades. But it’s only a loose guess. What’s not really in doubt here is that we’ve reached a watershed moment in the history of the global economy; the system we came to know and rely on over the past two decades is crumbling, and our leaders and thinkers need to be scrambling to plan what comes next.
As an 80s child that grew up on the ideals of peace-through-multinational-corporations-making-action-figures, it makes for somewhat gloomy reading.
Can’t wait for Pantera-book ..
There’s been a few things going on over at social network Twitter since ‘old mate Musk took it over. You may have heard about it.
Anyways - this has been the best summary of Mastodon, a decentralised social network that many people are choosing as their Twitter alternative.