I recently switched my default search engine to DuckDuckGo on all my devices. Google has become too frustrating over recent months. For example, I recently tried to find a post on my own website called ‘Hitman’. Searching for ‘andrewdoran hitman’ on Google was useless, whereas DuckDuckGo has the post as the first result.

📚 Finished reading The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell. Recommended by a very young friend — who is an avid reader — in return for a recommendation from me. I enjoyed it enough to plough through it quickly, but figured out the key plot points early on. The final part of the book didn’t leave me wanting to read more, but there are enough loose ends to lead into a sequel. It was good to read something from left-field that I wouldn’t usually pick up.

📷 We bought breakfast at Gatwick airport a couple of weeks ago as we went on holiday. When the bill came, the total was converted to a handful of popular currencies. Why would the exchange rates be so different between Heathrow Terminal 5 and Gatwick, and why would they include both of them on the bill?

📚 Finished reading The Road to Conscious Machines by Michael Wooldridge. This is the second AI-focused book that I’ve read in recent weeks; it covers a lot of similar ground to Melanie Mitchell’s Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans, but felt much more of a chronological whistle-stop tour of the history than an education on how the technology works. The two definitely compliment each other, which I guess is how Pelican Books, the publishers of both, felt as well. Both are very good. Once again I’m wondering what parts of the book would need to be updated to reflect the generative AI world we have been living in for the past year or so.

I loved the idea that our consciousness as a species may have evolved from the need to be able to put ourselves in other peoples’ shoes. If I can think about how you will feel if I do something, it may influence whether I do the thing or not. Absolutely fascinating.

📚 Finished reading Futility by William Gerhardie. What started out as a typically wry and amusing Russian farcical comedy became a drag towards the end when I realised that it wasn’t going anywhere. Unlovable characters that I didn’t care for. The of-its-time casual racism in the book felt particularly jarring, possibly because the novel wasn’t redeemed by its other features. Not good.

📚 Finished reading Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans by Melanie Mitchell. This is an excellent introduction to the field that doesn’t get too technical. Having read it, I’m much less concerned about the near-term possibility of artificial general intelligence, but much more concerned about ‘narrow’ and ‘brittle’ AI systems being applied too broadly and failing in unexpected ways. For me, the most fascinating insight of the book was how all of our mental concepts as humans are based on analogies; the problems and exercises presented by the author had me smiling as she explained how people think about them.