4 min read

Weekend Briefing No. 3

I fear for the habitable nature of our world, especially now that reports are coming back that Artic ice is the lowest ever recorded and ocean waters are the warmest ever.
Weekend Briefing No. 3
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya / Unsplash

Happy Father's Day to all the humans that are actively fathering children. You are an important part of raising well-adjusted, reasoning, and kind children equation. Enjoy your day off and I hope you are pampered in the way that makes you happy.

Interesting data points

AI is developing faster code efficiencies

After my article on Reconsidering Programming Efficiency Amidst Climate Change, I found this article fascinating. If you ask me, this is where the intersection of code, hardware, and compilers can be used to make big efficiency gains.

AlphaDev discovers faster sorting algorithms
In our paper published today in Nature, we introduce AlphaDev, an artificial intelligence (AI) system that uses reinforcement learning to discover enhanced computer science algorithms – surpassing those honed by scientists and engineers over decades.
AlphaDev uncovered a faster algorithm for sorting, a method for ordering data. Billions of people use these algorithms everyday without realising it.

Alphadev's new algorithm for sorting was 70% faster for short sequences and 1.7% faster for longer ones. That's nothing to sneeze at and I hope we start using this type of AI to tighten all the nuts and bolts on programs and software.

Wildfire smoke is worse

I live in the New York City region and last week an orange haze descended on us from wildfires in Canada. I even recorded an Instagram reel on the day I was in NYC for work.

While I love a good fire when camping, I just don't want to smell burning wood for days on end. It turns out that wildfire smoke is more harmful than regular pollution!

Study Finds Wildfire Smoke More Harmful To Humans Than Pollution From Cars
In Southern California, pollutants from wildfire smoke caused up to a 10% increase in hospital admissions. Researchers say there’s a need for better air monitoring and public health programs.

The smoke was so bad that my asthma acted up for the first time in years. I can only imagine what it was like for other people with breathing issues.

To be fair, I've lived through New Mexico wildfires in the early 90s and recently a local wildfire in my neighborhood. What happened to me in New York City took the cake. My concern is that this is not a "one-off" or anomalous event, I think it will happen more in the coming years.

Doughnut economics

A friend recently posted about wanting to read Kate Raworth's book, "Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist."

What piqued my interest in this subject is that the current model of capitalism exploits workers and the environment. As someone who has a(n) MBA, I struggle with reconciling the good that capitalism has brought versus the damage it does. It's a double-edged sword many times.

Doughnut (economic model) - Wikipedia

The Wikipedia entry highlights the key elements for striving for an economic balance between social needs and environmental constraints.

Doughnut Model of Ecomonics
(c) Wikipedia

I look forward to reading this book and stirring up my cognitive dissonance more.

End notes

I grew up on a dead-end street that had a small grove of trees. I spent most of my early formative years roaming through and playing in that small wooded patch. It's where I watched birds, chased squirrels, and dreamt of what my life would be like one day. I even built a tree house with my neighborhood friends, which we used as a launchpad for bottle rockets.

Overall it was a glorious time for me and I believe it's those woods that instilled in me my love of Nature and my need for thriftiness with resources. The topics of economics, resource use, and quality of life are all interconnected and worth examining daily which leads me to my biggest concern. I fear for the habitable nature of our world, especially now that reports are coming back that Artic ice is the lowest ever recorded and ocean waters are the warmest ever.

I know that many people will shrug their shoulders and say "What can one person do against this?" and I understand that sentiment, but we need to keep fighting. The frontline is everywhere. Do what you can and vote, especially vote, for leaders that put climate change policies first. Without a habitable world, nothing will matter.

“I despise my own nation most. Because I know it best. Because I still love it, suffering from Hope. For me, that's patriotism.”
Edward Abbey, The Serpents of Paradise: A Reader