Dispatch #1

A thoughtful collection, updated every few weeks.

πŸ“° Articles

The Great A.I. Awakening by Gideon Lewis-Kraus β€” a long-form article about A.I., framed through advances in Google Translate. What's always been fascinating to me about machine translation is that programmers (knowing nothing about linguistics or perhaps languages other than English), can create a tool to translate between two arbitrary languages with enough data.

Out of the Tar Pit by Ben Moseley and Peter Marks β€” an academic paper about why software gets increasingly complex as codebases grow. They identify two drivers of complexity β€” state management and control flow, then talk about architectural approaches to making things simpler (hint: some sort of functional programming). 

πŸ“š Books

Some books I've just picked up:

Functional Swift by Chris Eidhof, et al. β€” I've been interested in learning more about functional programming and Swift. I've seen a few of Chris' talks, and have been reading objc.io from the beginning, so I had to check this out.

The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes β€” this book won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1988. It's not so much about the atomic bomb as it is about the history of modern physics, and the lives of the scientists involved in the Manhattan Project. Rhodes captures the many small discoveries that made 20th-century physics exciting.

Some books I've just finished:

How to Bake Ο€ by Eugenia Cheng β€” this was recommended to me by a friend as a good introduction to category theory. Category theory lends some crucial concepts to functional programming, so I thought I'd learn more about it.

Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe β€” this is a science fiction series published in the 1980s. Gene Wolfe won several "Best Novel" awards from the major sci-fi reviewers around the time of publication (Hugo, Locus, Nebula). It's set in the far future, but technology on Earth has mostly regressed to medieval-era stuff (with a few important exceptions).

πŸ“Ί Television

The Grand Tour (Amazon) β€” it's quite possible that I've seen every episode of all 22 seasons of Top Gear. So of course, I have to watch the Grand Tour. It's okay, but not great. The humor is a bit too staged. Top Gear was about what Clarkson could appear to get away with, but now that constraint is gone.

3% (Netflix) β€” I thought 3% was pretty good. It's directed by CΓ©sar Charlone, the cinematographer from City of God. Make sure to watch in the original Portuguese with English subtitles.

🎞 Film

Arrival (Paramount) β€” finally, an alien movie with linguistics at the forefront! Arrival is good, but still falls into some classic alien-genre tropes that prevent it from being great. I'd recommend reading the short story from the collection that it's based on, Stories of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang.