Page 2 – News Debris For The Week of April 16th
A Personal Facebook AI?

Little girl and robot companion.

The companions will seem so cuddly at first.

• Alan Kay once said:

People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.

And it looks like that’s what Facebook is about to do. “Facebook Is Forming a Team to Design Its Own Chips.

[Facebook ‘Forming Team’ to Design Its Own Processors]

Like Han Solo, I have a bad feeling about this. It’s one thing to have an app on your Apple-made iPhone that can be deleted. It’s quite another when the very, very essence of a company is instantiated in the hardware we use. Mark Gurman, however, points out:

The postings didn’t make it clear what kind of use Facebook wants to put the chips to other than the broad umbrella of artificial intelligence. A job listing references “expertise to build custom solutions targeted at multiple verticals including AI/ML,” indicating that the chip work could focus on a processor for artificial intelligence tasks.

But I recall once upon a time Mark Zuckerberg wanted Facebook to make its own smartphone. I have a feeling that new hardware, new devices, new AI initiatives are leading to that Singularity referenced in the preamble on page one. Just think what it’ll be like when you have a Facebook AI in your pocket. Or on your head, wired into your brain. (Required by law, of course.) Oh wait. Erase that thought.

More Debris

• Are you looking for a job with one of the tech giants? This article explores the language they use in their job listings. “The Most Commonly Used Words In Tech Giants’ Job Listings Will Make You Never Want To Work At A Tech Giant.” After looking at the commonly used phrases by giants like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, the author asks:

‘Maniacal’? ‘Whatever it takes’? ‘Ruthlessly’? Are these job listings or character descriptions for Disney movie villains? Textio points out that these aggressive descriptors belie whatever claims companies may make about wanting to improve diversity.


• This next article is just one more data point in an emerging theme that I see. Customers in the market for a notebook computer used to be so enamored by the superiority of macOS/BSD UNIX over earlier versions of Windows that they’d give up a little on the ultimate performance and gain the beauty and craftsmanship of a MacBook/Air/Pro.

A woman using Touch Bar on MacBook Pro

Thin? Nope. Touch Bar? Nope. Really, really fast? Yep.

Windows 10, however, has reached the point where the equation has flipped. Today, many technical anf creative professionals are willing to accept Windows 10, with very good security, in order to get top-notch hardware performance at decent prices. (Apple hardly ever talks about the capabilities of UNIX anymore.) This, in turn, has led to a new awakening by Apple regarding the technical needs of its customers. One example is the new, no-compromise iMac Pro.

However, the recent approach by Apple seems to be lagging on the MacBook Pro side, as evidenced by this survey cited by Tom’s Guide. “Apple’s Laptops Have Hit Rock Bottom.” I’m betting Apple will also turn this around. Soon, “Pro” will have real “Pro” punch for the MacBook Pro.

Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed on page two by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

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W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

John: I thought to add this to my earlier post, but it was already overly long, so permit me to say it separately; I think the the singularity hypothesis is rubbish, pure and unadulterated rubbish, to be precise. It was implied in my post above under the second topic regarding the emergence of a super AI, but I want to be unambiguous. The rationale for stating this is simple; the concept lacks an empirical or even testable foundation at present, and is at best purely speculative, resting on a number of implicit assumptions, none of which apparently exist, and at… Read more »

W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

John: The AI reading selections are excellent, and a thoughtful take on many of the challenges facing this emerging discipline, not least of which constitutes AI, as illustrated by Michael Jordan’s essay. However, I believe that the Smithsonian piece vastly over-estimates any of the candidate technologies that qualify as AI. Not only are we in no danger of being over-run by AI overlords, we are not even remotely in danger of creating a human intelligent analogue, with or without megalomaniacal tendencies. We are far more imperilled by machine stupidity, and the capacity of human malice to bend these tools to… Read more »


Brilliant and insightful as usual. On the question of what is intelligence. We keep setting ourselves as the Gold Standard. This has resulted in on one hand ignoring the obvious intelligence of other animals. Even now you will run into people that say that dogs, cats, even higher primates aren’t really intelligent. That they just rely on “instinct” as if everything the do is programmed as a stimulus-response. This is absurd to anyone who has lived with a dog or cat and seen their personality. On the other hand the assumption that all people are intelligent and rational all the… Read more »

W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

Thanks, geoduck.


I’d say it will be more than “quite likely” out of our control. If and when AI truly takes off, we’ll live with beings who thinks thousands of times faster than us, knows millions of times more than us, and can control vastly more than we, and much faster. We’ll be completely at their mercy, for better or worse.

Our only hope is that they will decide, like the Minds in Iain M. Banks’ Culture books, that they revere us.