Weeknotes #21

in weeknotes

  • The number of COVID-19 cases detected in Tokyo continued to rise as the week progressed and the reproduction rate went back above 1. I find this particularly concerning given that the rate of testing is so low. The number of new cases has stayed at around 20 or so for the past couple of days but when you’re doing so little testing, I’m not sure how much this tells you. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Eri and I have remained indoors as much as possible. I’m fortunate that work hasn’t required us to return to the office.

  • Black Lives Matter protests spread across the United States and a number of developed countries over the week. I support the protesters and feel disgust watching the actions of some of the police officers. It’s a sad indictment on contemporary society that so many of the demands are for such basic forms of decency and respect. Perhaps it’s the natural conservatism of age but part of me worries about the instability this is causing. That part is overwhelmed by the rest of me believing a system this toxic shouldn’t remain stable.

  • I hemmed and hawed for a week or so but eventually did purchase a refurbished iPad Pro. It’s the 2018 11” 256GB model. So far my use of it has been mostly reading and it’s reminded me of the reason I originally became interested in the iPad.

  • John’s birthday is less than two weeks away. It somehow feels impossible that he’s almost three and that there was a time before he existed. Emma and I were looking at some photos from a trip that Eri and I took to Hong Kong in 2015 and Emma was struggling to understand why she wasn’t in any of the photos and I was struggling to communicate the concept that there was a time before she was born.

  • After starting Mononoke Hime on the iPad Pro, I finished watching the last hour of it on the TV over the weekend. I hope I didn’t scar the kids. The violence isn’t especially gorey but there are definitely moments that are pretty brutal. They both seemed to take it in their stride so either I was being overly worried or I’ve already desensitised them.

  • Related: what an incredible movie.

  • One of my favourite aspects of season 1 of Westworld was its exploration of consciousness in an artificial mind. At one point, Anthony Hopkins as Dr Ford, explains that the plan to bring the hosts to consciousness was based in part on a book, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (YouTube). The theory of the book has been debunked but Scott Alexander has written a review of the book that makes the interesting observation that the ideas in the book transfer over pretty cleanly to an argument about theory of mind (as distinct from consciousness).

  • All of which prompted me to lament the absence of explorations of the artificial mind in subsequent seasons of Westworld. Indeed, I’ve thought of writing more fully on this topic, including some of the avenues that could still be explored. That said, given that my treatise on the Cars franchise is still outstanding, best not hold one’s breath on that.

  • (I’m positive I’ve used this trope before but) 16-year-old me would be aghast at the amount of pop music I listen to these days so if you’re similarly inclined, look away while I recommend ‘Boyfriend’ by Selena Gomez (Apple Music).

Michael Camilleri inqk.net