🚦 green means go.

welcome to sam’s brain drain, a weekly collection of thumb-stopping things to tap, read, & watch.

estimated reading time: 4m 20s.

🤝 happy monday.

the past few editions of brain drain have been quite text heavy. i’m trialling a slightly more visually weighted edition today, without the usual opening note.

i hope your 👀s thank me for it.

on the agenda this week: traffic lights, the anthropocene and deepfakes.

⚡️ tag me on instagram or twitter if you enjoy this week's brain drain!

📚 word of the week


meaning “arousing spiritual or religious emotion; mysterious or awe-inspiring”.

things inspiring awe or wonder because they can't be fathomed as either yin or yang, because they cross or disrupt the polarity and therefore can't be conceptualised, are regarded as numinous.
stephen f. teiser, the spirits of chinese religion

🤪 mildly humorous:

🧠 brain candy

🚦 traffic lights & fake news:

i came across an interesting response from a reader to an article in the financial times this morning. a traffic-light system to rank content shared by news organisations.

i created the above mockup to demonstrate what a traffic-light system could look like in practice. this would need to be implemented by the world’s largest social media networks to have any sort of traction, however.

food products are starting to be labelled with a traffic light system of red, orange and green, depending on how unhealthy they are. drugs have to be checked before they can be prescribed or sold. the rating agencies label financial products and auditors give an opinion on company financial statements. while all these regulatory mechanisms have weaknesses and failures of implementation, the basic idea of independent, government-authorised monitoring of quality appears valid.

the information industry currently has no such labelling but the components are there. there are fact checking agencies for information. financial auditors take a very small sample of an organisation’s transactions to inform their view on the financial information it produces. it would be possible that fact checking agencies take a small sample of an organisation’s output and on that basis give traffic light ratings. this would be on factual accuracy not opinions expressed. as with a stock exchange listing, companies need a track record before listing, so any new website or feed would automatically be red.

read more.

🌍 carbon sequestration:

i’m particularly proud to work for a company that create initiatives like this. this is stripe’s commitment to going carbon-negative:

as part of stripe’s environmental program, we fully offset our greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing verified carbon offsets. starting this year, we’re going a step further. in addition to our offset program, we are committing to pay, at any available price, for the direct removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and its sequestration in secure, long-term storage. we’re announcing this commitment to solicit technology partners and to urge other companies to follow suit.

urgent global action is needed to halt greenhouse gas emissions, and it looks increasingly likely that in addition to emissions reduction, humanity will need to remove large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. in its most recent summary report, the ipcc notes that most scenarios that stay below 2°c of temperature increase involve “substantial net negative emissions by 2100, on average around 2 gigatons of co2 per year.”

do you know someone currently commercialising negative emissions technology? please reach out to us if you do, or if your business wants to join our commitment and participate in joint-buying together.

read more.

🦖 hyperintelligent dinosaurs:

timescale is everything. this is a great read about the human race’s self-styled importance and how it’s very likely that we may not even leave a trace at all:

if, in the final 7,000 years of their reign, dinosaurs became hyperintelligent, built a civilization, started asteroid mining, and did so for centuries before forgetting to carry the one on an orbital calculation, thereby sending that famous valedictory six-mile space rock hurtling senselessly toward the earth themselves—it would be virtually impossible to tell. all we do know is that an asteroid did hit, and that the fossils in the millions of years afterward look very different than in the millions of years prior.

so that’s what 180 million years of complete dominance buys you in the fossil record. what, then, will a few decades of industrial civilization get us? this is the central question of the anthropocene—an epoch that supposedly started, not tens of millions of years ago, but perhaps during the truman administration. will our influence on the rock record really be so profound to geologists 100 million years from now, whoever they are, that they would look back and be tempted to declare the past few decades or centuries a bona fide epoch of its own?

read more.

👀 wide eyes:

a person (or persons) known as ctrl shift face publishes beautifully deceptive videos know as deepfakes online. what's a deepfake i hear you ask? it is a machine-learning driven face-swapping method for video that has surprisingly realistic results.

here’s a recent one that went particularly viral - bill hader impersonating tom cruise and seth rogen while simultaneously morphing into the aforementioned actors:

that’s all for this week. i hope you hold me accountable to keep this interesting 😝.

😌 see you next monday!

🦶 footer:

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👋 read more of my posts:

🚶‍♂️ everywhere, everywhen.

🇺🇸 a note on death.

🧠 life's ebb & flow.

⏰ 176 days to the year 2020.

🎉 something new.

💡 rising from the ashes, again.

⚡️ the power of aligned incentives.