AI, Intelligence, Counterterrorism, Writing, Cartels

A weekly selection of fine writing from Conked.


Lack of Sleep Could Be a Problem for AIs

Garrett Kenyon | Scientific American | 5 DEC 2020

If you have been assuming that machines do not need to sleep – think again! Research indicates the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI) may involve systems “that operate much like the neurons inside living brains.” With the development of these biologically realistic neural pathways comes the realisation that, just like humans, AI requires a ‘rest’ after continuous periods of learning. Without it, they are likely to be unstable and generate images akin to hallucinations, but when researchers used a noise that simulates the input received by the neurons in your brain during deep sleep, they are reset. It seems a ‘nap’ helps these sophisticated AI systems to continue their work! (743 words)

Human Genetic Engineering: Increasing Intelligence

Gene Smith | Less Wrong | 6 DEC 2020

Genetic engineering has many potential benefits, explored by Gene Smith, but in this article, he outlines how it could increase human intelligence. One of our race’s most unique features is unusually high intelligence and ability to cooperate via language and collective belief. The benefits of raising intelligence appear to be positive for humans collectively, especially when considering problems that have an impact on the future, for instance, climate change, or other actions that benefit society. While evolution has optimized higher intelligence for millions of years for homo sapiens, the benefits may not supply enough advantages for natural selection to occur. (3,140 words)

Rethinking Global Counterterrorist Financing

Jessica Davis | Lawfare | 6 DEC 2020

Counterterrorist financing (CTF) practices have been slow to adapt as the landscape of extremism and terrorism have changed considerably. Instead of just “following the money” or stopping influx of money to terrorists, policies should focus on disruptive actions including sanctions and minimising financial risk. There are a wide range of groups and movements involved in political violence – not just familiar terrorist groups like Islamic State, but also white supremacists, neo-Nazi organisations and other extremists like QAnon or the boogaloo movement. Global efforts should focus on investigating and prosecuting individuals involved in all aspects of funding as well as identifying the sources through financial tracking. (1,365 words)

Steven Arcieri is writing one sentence per day for an entire decade—culminating in a novel

Walker Caplan | Literary Hub | 7 DEC 2020

Writer Steven Arcieri is writing one sentence a day about his life and publishing monthly instalments. While this may seem unremarkable, the project commenced in January 2020 and will end in December 2030 – a decade later. Covering present-day occurrences – COVID, Black Lives Matter protests – his entries also cover his family history and his daily thoughts on life, romance and himself. Arcieri is writing something that continues into our unknown futures and making a commitment to combine these sentences into what will become a novel based on his life experience. These sentences meld together well, and the outcome will be of interest to authors and readers alike. (247 words)

Behind the scenes of The Cartel Project

Jon Allsop | Columbia Journalism Review | 8 DEC 2020

In 2020 Mexico has been the most dangerous and deadliest place to be a journalist, with eight murdered and cumulative numbers are over one hundred reporters killed since 2000. In response, Mexico was a subject for Forbidden Stories, “a Paris-based group that works with newsrooms around the world to finish the work of reporters who have been silenced, in death or otherwise.” They have started to publish stories under “The Cartel Project”, focussing on the work of Regina Martinez who was killed after reporting on links between organised crime and politicians. With a total of sixty journalists from eighteen counties and twenty-five outlets, they will not be silenced (1,229 words)


“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”

― Quote by Steven King

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Rand Leeb-du Toit, Conkerer

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