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Sundry · Vienna, walking, doctors, Dostoevsky, sleep

Vienna, Austria

When producing new ideas, people systematically “add” rather than “remove”. For example, when building a Lego structure to represent a spaceship, people will usually add more components rather than subtract them. But it’s not always the best strategy. In design, removing the superfluous is often what leads the user saying “this is simple”. Beware of that bias —

Why Vienna regularly tops the rankings of “most livable cities”. In the early 20th century, Vienna, one of the capitals of the rich Austro-Hungarian Empire enjoyed a population of 2 million people. 100 years later, and the population is the same, the buildings are mostly the same and have strong architectural unity. The combination of a stagnating population and a rich country creates a nice city to live in —

Doctors are being replaced by over-the-counter drugs. Some people think that it is AI that will replace medical practitioners. But in reality, a simpler force is at play. If over-the-counter medicine did not exist, it is estimated that another 56,000 full-time doctors would be needed to accommodate the visits of patients with self-treatable conditions —

Dostoesvsky’s love life is as dramatic as his books. I shall not try to summarize it. So do click on the link if you want to be dazzled. Maria and Fyodor’s story involves frequent trans-Siberian trips and Werther-like passion. True grit. A homage to (what I imagine to be) 19th century Russia —

Can we radically reduce the human need for sleep? And can we do so without significant negative side effects? It might be possible thanks to something called orexin. It is naturally produced by the brain and helps regulate wakefulness and appetite. Looks promising? —

Need inspiration? Talk a walk. For years, the tech people of Silicon Valley, such as the cultish Steve Jobs, have taken meetings while walking. Now we have a study that shows that walking does increase the production of novel ideas. I think it is pretty nice that such a simple, affordable, and convenient physical activity helps you be more creative —

General artificial intelligence is still far away. General AI is similar to Jarvis in the Iron Man films — it can do anything you ask and is not limited to specific applications, such as the recent image generation AIs. In a thought-provoking essay, Alexey Guzey compares the current state of AI (planes) to the fantasy of general AI (birds). He argues that planes are still decades away from displacing most bird jobs —