movie – Clay Carson

December 2018

This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.

You can follow me more closely at my personal website or if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, you can point them to my real estate website.

Au Revoir, Le Grand K

Mass of a Kilogram to be Redefined

Oddly enough, every measurement of mass made anywhere on Earth is tied back to this one cylindrical object. Known as “Le Grand K,” the cylinder, cast in 1879, is kept carefully sequestered in a secure, controlled environment outside Paris.


On May 20, 2019, Le Grand K will lose its special status, and the mass of a kilogram will be defined by a fundamental constant of nature known as the Planck constant. At the same time, other mainstays of the metric system will also be revamped: the ampere (the unit of electric current), the kelvin (the unit of temperature) and the mole (the unit for amount of substance).

One. Two. Ten!

Inside the Making of Home Alone’s Fake Gangster Movie

Reeking of authenticity, Angels with Filthy Souls is not just a uniquely persuasive parody. It’s the perfect movie-within-a-movie: a one-minute-and-20-second noir-in-a-nutshell that feels like a fleeting glimpse of a long-lost classic. Its dialogue is crisp, the characters and performances credible, the rapid escalation of its drama enthralling. Plus it culminates in not just the most memorable utterance in Home Alone but one of the great movie lines of all time: “Keep the change, ya filthy animal”.

Unintended Behaviors of AI

Mentioned in January’s newsletter, Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford University, has a thought experiment that goes…

Suppose we have an AI whose only goal is to make as many paper clips as possible. The AI will realize quickly that it would be much better if there were no humans because humans might decide to switch it off. Because if humans do so, there would be fewer paper clips. Also, human bodies contain a lot of atoms that could be made into paper clips. The future that the AI would be trying to gear towards would be one in which there were a lot of paper clips but no humans.

Out of Bostrom’s thought exercise came Joscha Bach’s Lebowski Theorem stating that, “No superintelligent AI is going to bother with a task that is harder than hacking its reward function.”

Victoria Krakovna has begun aggregating a list of AI who have gamed their objective or reward system.


  • “Agent pauses the game indefinitely to avoid losing.”

  • “Agent kills itself at the end of level 1 to avoid losing in level 2.”

  • “A robotic arm trained to slide a block to a target position on a table achieves the goal by moving the table itself.”

  • “In an artificial life simulation where survival required energy but giving birth had no energy cost, one species evolved a sedentary lifestyle that consisted mostly of mating in order to produce new children which could be eaten (or used as mates to produce more edible children).”

  • “AI trained to classify skin lesions as potentially cancerous learns that lesions photographed next to a ruler are more likely to be malignant.”

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Thanks for reading. Have a great holiday season,


The Death Star and the Final Trench Run →

At the end of the original film, Rebel ships fly along the Death Star trench in an attempt to blow up the space station. Look at the photo of the Death Star at the top of this post: can you point to the trench that Luke and the Rebels flew down to fire upon the exhaust port that would ultimately destroy the space station?

Nearly everybody points at the equatorial trench of the Death Star. I asked dozens of die-hard fans, including many co-workers at Industrial Light & Magic, and nearly every single person pointed to the equatorial trench. If you asked me, I would also have said the equatorial trench.