- We might soon be able to buy memory cards with speeds nearing 4 GB/s. For comparison, an expensive and recent macBook currently has a disk with a 2 GB/s bandwidth. The PlayStation 5 should have a 5 GB/s bandwith.
- Human industry has boosted the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. This has two predictible outcomes: slightly higher global temperature (CO2 has a mild green house effect) and higher plant productivity (CO2 acts as a fertilizer). The CO2 fertilization effect is strong: a 30% gain from 1900 in photosynthesis efficiency. Moreover, higher plant productivity translates into more CO2 capture and thus it tends to reduce the quantity of CO2. Haverd et al. report that we may have underestimated the carbon sink effect of CO2 fertilization.
- The successful e-commerce firm, Shopify, will allow most of its employees to work remotely in the future.
- Human beings may have hunted mammoths by chasing them into predetermined traps.
- There is a theory that sending your kids to a more selective school help them because being exposed to high achieving peers raises their level. But it seems that this peer effect is a myth. In other words, paying a lot of money to send your kids to an exclusive school is probably a waste. (It does not imply that sending your kids to a dysfunctional school is harmless.)
- We should apply with care the principle that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Indeed, this principle can be used to reject results that violate human consensus and slow the progress of science. Indeed, scientific progress is often characterized by a change in the consensus as we go from one realization to another.
- We can prevent age-related bone losses in mice by tweaking the content of their blood plasma.
- Many recent advances in artificial intelligence do not hold up to scrutiny. This is why you will often hear me dismiss novelty with the phrase “originality is overrated”.
Kolter says researchers are more motivated to produce a new algorithm and tweak it until it’s state-of-the-art than to tune an existing one. The latter can appear less novel, he notes, making it “much harder to get a paper from.”
The net result is that researchers tend to overrate novelty and originality. In practice, you often get better results by selecting time-tested approaches and ignoring the hype.
So, how should read research, knowing that much of it won’t stand to scrutiny?
- Do not dismiss older research merely because it is older. Do the opposite: focus your energies on older work still in use.
- Instead of picking up papers one by one, try to find the underlying themes. In effect, dismiss each individual paper, and instead focus on the recurring themes and effects. If an idea only appears in one paper, it probably can be discarded. If it is appears again and again and proves useful, it might be worth knowing.