The results are in, and the Puppies (Sad and Rabid) have been roundly defeated.
I don’t know if you remember the kerfuffle earlier this year about the Hugo Awards — one of the most popular science fiction writing awards — and diversity. Lindsey wrote about it here. Basically, some white men were upset that science fiction wasn’t all about them anymore, so they signed up a lot of other white men to pack the nomination process. The nominees for five whole categories only contained authors nominated by them. So, in response, everyone else signed up all their friends and allies and voted in the main event, and the results were profound. In all five categories where a “puppies” candidate was the only option, voters preferred “No Award.” That’s as many “No Award” wins in one year as have been previously given out — ever. And on top of that, no other “puppies” candidates won awards either. Not one. Wired has the full story, and the Hugo Awards website has the complete list of winners. But in this case I’m going to say we’re all both winners and losers — winners, because the “puppies” lost, but also losers, because there are some good writers who write about white men who felt compelled to withdraw (because winning like that wouldn’t really be winning at all). Again, check out Wired for the full story, and Lindsey’s post for a little background.
One Man’s Dystopia
In light of a recent exposé in the New York Times about the quality of life of his employees, an e-mail from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has begun to circulate. In it, he describes the workplace environment depicted in the article as “soulless” and “dystopian,” and — in his defense — advises employees encountering those kinds of situations to “escalate to HR” or even e-mail him directly. But what strikes me most is the disbelief: he writes that the workplace described “doesn’t describe the Amazon I know,” and says that if things were really that bad, anyone working there “would be crazy to stay.” He writes: “I know I would leave such a company.” But that’s the thing about abusive relationships — and make no mistake about it, a toxic work environment is a kind of abusive relationship — they’re very hard to leave. Maybe Bezos has spent a lot of time being as wealthy as he is, and has forgotten (a) how much work it is to find a new job, (b) how hard it is to find the time when you’re working 80 hours a week, and (c) how terrifying it is to quit your job without having another one to go to. For more on the story check out the original NYT article, Bezos’s response, and Joe Nocera’s commentary on both.
Ashley Madison Hack
Well, it was bound to happen, wasn’t it? Here’s hoping you weren’t having an affair with the help of sleazeball website Ashley Madison, because the hack details have been released and, quite unsurprisingly, have now been made searchable (though at the time of the writing of this, I can’t confirm that the search tool at trustify.info actually works). The hack should come as quite a blow to the confidence of internet security, but for the most part reactions have been blasé and can be summed up with the phrase “well they probably deserved it.” Maybe that’s because marital infidelity is one of the few things most cultures can agree on: it’s considered immoral by grater than 50% of the population in all but one of the forty countries studied in this Pew poll (all but France). Of course, there are reasons the hack is bad for everyone, and you can find explanations why. The hack has also spawned a class-action lawsuit to the tune of $578million. As for what the hackers — who call themselves The Impact Team — will go after next who knows? You can get the complete rundown at Wired.
Over at Wired this week you can read a piece on IBM’s latest invention, a 48-chip ‘rodent-brain-equivalent’ made out of it’s new True North chips. The chips are the latest advance in so-called “neuromorphic” chips, designed to mimic the way organic brains function. The computer in question has roughly 48 million (1 million per chip) neurons, which if you ask wikipedia isn’t quite the 71 million in a mouse brain, but it’s a good start. The thought is that, with these chips, certain tasks will become easier and cheaper to perform “on device” — for example the current language analysis performed by digital assistants like Siri and Cortana can only take place with an internet connection because that analysis is performed in a data center somewhere. With these new chips, in theory, those kinds of tasks could be performed on your phone, with a minimum of fuss (and energy use). Check out the article for the full story, it’s worth the read.
In Case You Missed It
Since we’ve started posting more often, I feel as though it’s worth doing a weekly rundown of posts here at This Week In Tomorrow. On Monday, we laughed at the idea that you could use malachite to defend your computer form viruses. On Tuesday, I looked at the chemical PFOA, and whether or not a piece in The Intercept had merit. On Wednesday, I looked at the future of the soda industry in light of new WHO recommendations for sugar intake. On Thursday I covered the “forking” of Bitcoin, including Bitcoin XT. And on Friday, Lindsey told the world about Marvel’s latest move in the direction of diversity: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Check them out if you missed them!
Best of the Rest
Of course there are always going to be things we can’t get to, and here are some of them, in no particular order:
- Apollo astronaut Ed Mitchell says UFOs came to Earth to prevent nuclear war
- Windows 10 continued to raise privacy concerns
- Scientists mad some very tiny gears that turn light into motion directly
- Wired did a piece on the lacking science behind policing
- And Nate Silver’s 538.com did a piece on just why science is so hard
I leave you today with a picture taken by India’s Mars Orbital Mission, rendered in 3D. They’re doing great work over there.