Stephen Malina

This is my blog. There are many others like it but this one is mine.

Book Review - Elmer Gates and the Art of Mind-using

Introduction Generally when someone tells you they’ve invented an “art of mind-using” that involves lots of made-up words and comes packaged with a spiritual philosophy, you should tell them “no thanks” and walk away. But, what if that same would-be crackpot was also an incredibly successful inventor whose contemporaries considered a genius? Moreover, what if that would-be crackpot also ran careful, rigorous experiments to validate their theories? And so we have Elmer Gates.

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2050 Predictions

Introduction Along with a few internet blogger friends, inspired by Erik Hoel’s post (parts of which I disagree with, including the headline), I’ve decided to make predictions for 2050. The rest of this post discusses some meta aspects of making these predictions and then lists out the predictions. In case you’re waiting for my (hopefully) less speculative 2022 annual predictions, fear not! Those will be coming in the next few weeks.

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Scoring my 2021 Predictions

At the beginning of last year, I made predictions for the year. Now it’s time to score them (before I make my 2022 predictions). Data & code Here is a spreadsheet containing my scored predictions. If you want to see my full analysis, you can look at my Jupyter notebook which contains Brier score calculations plus plotting. High level analysis The key metrics I looked at were my overall and by category Brier scores plus calibration.

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Beware silver bullets

Note: This post was co-written with Uri Bram of The Browser, who deserves all credit for the good parts and no blame for the bad parts and inevitable mistakes (which things fall into which category is at your, the reader’s, discretion). A recurring problem I, and I think people similar to me, face is letting my excitement about something new transform from being based on curiosity and a sense of usefulness into viewing the thing as a Fully General Solution to All Problems.

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Crazy ideas for future synthetic biology & bioengineering

One thing I like about the synthetic biology community is that, from the early days, its participants have been willing to entertain “wild” ideas like building dragons. While this willingness comes with all of the risks associated with building a lot of hype around a nascent technology, against the backdrop of cultural indefinite pessimism, I still prefer it. In that vein, inspired by Milan Cwitkovic’s legendary listicles on Things you’re allowed to do and Market failures in science, I decided to make my own listicle of cool ideas for future synthetic biology & bioengineering projects.

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