Unnaturally Long Attention Span

AvatarA blog about Grad School at Stanford, Working in a Silicon Valley Internet Company, and Statistical Machine Learning. mike AT ai.stanford.edu

On Clip Culture

One of the things that concerns me is that recently a vast majority of my information processing is reading these “snippets” of information instead of longer, more meaningful discussions. It’s not just a consequence of using Diffbot but I think where internet culture is headed towards– YouTube epitomizes the short-attention span cinema that is the trend. Perhaps due to the sheer number of news sources, these “info clips” are the only way to aggregate all these disparate sources sanely. Certainly its not for lack of longer original sources on the web. Plenty of journals and books are available online and corporations and governments publish many of their proceedings now in electronic documents online. The problem is current technology can't really deal with these types of sources. Have you ever had Google return a search result to U.S. Constitution or perhaps some company's SEC filing where the "real answers" might lie?

The hope of AI is the hope that we will eventually have a technology that can synthesize all these threads of information from the original sources into a longer, coherent story instead of relying on the "he said that he said that he said that he said" that is the current blogosphere. Theoretically, it would be able to synthesize over broader and deeper sets of data due to the increased temporary RAM compared to a human brain.

On an unrelated note, if
you haven't already, check out the book God's Debris by Scott Adams. Yes, that's Scott Adams the Dilbert comic guy. It has some interesting ideas and even some pertaining to AI. It's also a free download.