Amazon updates quotesharing…and it’s nice!

October 26, 2017

Amazon updates quotesharing…and it’s nice!

I’m a big fan of quotations. For a very short period of time, my book of quotations,

The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

was the number one book of quotations in any format at Amazon.

Sharing from Kindle e-books, though, has been…limited. It’s been possible, but you had to connect to your social networks, and you only had a couple of choices.

With the recent updates to the Kindle reading apps, it’s greatly improved!

I want to point out that I tested this on an Android device (a Galaxy s7)…so we don’t have all the fancy sharing which the update to Apple devices has (although those are coming to Android later).

I highlighted a quotation in The Mind Boggles, and I had four color highlight choices, Note, Share, Copy, Search, and Translate as options (for me, the last three were reached by tapping a chevron >).

Tapping Share, I had all these options:

  • Message
  • Email
  • Facebook
  • Messenger
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Hangouts
  • Skype

and then by tapping “More”, all the sharing options I normally have on my device. For me, for example, that included Flipboard, Samsung Connect, and many more.

For the second day in a row (I’m not saying I’ll do this every day), I’m tweeting a quotation from The Mind Boggles.

The quotations are more than Twitter’s 140 character limit, but that’s fine. You see the beginning of the quotation, and a link…and it includes the cover of The Mind Boggles. When you tap the link, you see the full quotation, and the beginning of the book. You can “Start Reading” the book…even with no Kindle app installed, people can read a sample of the book! There is also an option to buy the book. Additionally, people can share the book (the information about the book, not the whole contents) with others.

When I tweet, I have the choice of a Direct Message (essentially, a private one-on-one communication) or a public tweet.

When you tweet, you can add more text, a GIF, a picture, and so on. I had 26 characters left.

Oh, and I can dynamically switch accounts! I have two Twitter feeds: one for me, which is where I do most things (@bufocalvin) and one specifically for The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip (@TMCGTT). I’ve been tweeting “On This Date in Geeky History” every day on that one. 🙂

Authors and publishers, I think this is potentially a great way to promote your books! I don’t know what the conversion rate is going to be, but I think it’s an easy way to show the value of your book.

It can also be used for simple social sharing, or to communicate something to a public figure.

It’s worth noting that this is as open as the internet: it’s not limited to

Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

members, or Amazon shoppers, or the USA.

For my readers who are Amazon Associates, there wasn’t a way using this tool to include a referrer link, and I don’t think that works from Twitter anyway.

It’s simple, it’s social, it’s low friction…overall, I’m impressed! Well done, Amazon!

Oh, I also just checked it on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX: it’s similar, but without as many options (but I don’t have as many apps). I tried it on my work iPhone 5s (they let us use things like the Kindle app on our work phones)…there were some sharing options, but I suspect it would be smoother on a more recent generation.

What do you think? Have you tried it? Is sharing quotations something you do? Do you ever send a quotation to a public figure? What other apps would you use for sharing…would you e-mail a quotation? Text one? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

 

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What books should a robot read to learn morality?

July 26, 2017

What books should a robot read to learn morality?

Sometimes good is harder than best.

If it’s just a question of math, a computer can come up with the best answer more reliably than a human.

If, however, it’s a question of good as in good and evil, most people would say that a robot can’t make that decision.

They are going to have to do that in the future, though.

As robots (and by robots, I mean anything that does work that humans or animals used to do…that’s the origin of the word in the play R.U.R.) become more and more part of our lives, they will encounter more of the situations we do. They will be less in controlled, limited circumstances.

Let’s take the most obvious example: self-driving cars.

I consider it inappropriate to call them “driverless” cars. That’s inaccurate, and unnecessarily scary. There is a driver: not a human, carbon-based driver, but a silicon-based one. 😉

Does the robot need to figure out if it can make the green light? No problem. Eventually, we won’t even need traffic lights, when the cars are communicating with each other and recognizing that there are pedestrians who need to cross.

It can stay in the lane and avoid obstacles.

However…

Let’s suppose that the car loses its brakes…on a mountain road next to a cliff.

The light up ahead is red, and the crosswalk is full of people.

The car does a quick calculation. If it goes straight ahead, it will hit and kill at least five people.

It could also swerve off the cliff, killing just one person, its passenger.

I think if you ask most people what they would do if they were driving the car, they’d say drive off the cliff.

Would you get in a car that would make that same decision?

My guess is that most people would say no.

That’s part of the problem.

We don’t want our technology to be just as good as we are, we want it to be perfect. If a “phone dialer” dialed the wrong number once in a thousand times, we’d consider it unreliable, even though humans do it more often.

If you were just programming the car, you could program it to drive off the cliff.

Let’s complicate it.

Suppose there is a ten percent chance the car can make it so the passenger (we’ll start saying “you”) will survive and so will the people in the crosswalk. There’s a 90 percent chance if it tries it that the five people will die, and the passenger live.

What if it was a twenty-five percent chance?

Fifty-fifty?

Seventy-five percent chance it comes out fine?

Ninety percent chance everyone makes it…and ten percent chance they all die and you survive?

It’s just math, right?

Let’s back up and make an inevitable choice.

This time, there are five people in half of the crosswalk, and one person in the other half…the car can pick a lane, and kill one person or five.

We could program the car that killing fewer people is better than killing more people, right?

What if the five people are serial killers…and the one person is a four-year old child?

Does it matter if it’s a twenty-four year old instead of a four-year old? Five twelve-year olds versus a ninety-four year old?

There are too many variables to come up with just math.

Nowadays, the most advanced types of AI (Artificial Intelligence) aren’t programmed, anyway.

They use “machine learning”…in a sense, they learn by example.

AIs have figured out the rules of scissors/paper/rock just from watching videos.

There is an AI system at use in many public transit systems (we have had it in the San Francisco Bay Area)…at least, that used to be the case. It would watch videos of the station, and figure out normal patterns (on its own). When it saw something strange (such as someone jumping a turnstile, or being on “the wrong side of a fence”, both real examples), it would alert a human for an evaluation.

This

The Guardian article by English professor John Mullan

considers the idea of using fictional characters to teach robots morals, as is being tried. The above article references this

Georgia Tech article

I’m going to provide a brief excerpt from the Georgia Tech article (which is from February of 2016):

“Researchers Mark Riedl and Brent Harrison from the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology believe the answer lies in “Quixote” – to be unveiled at the AAAI-16 Conference in Phoenix, Ariz. (Feb. 12 – 17). Quixote teaches “value alignment” to robots by training them to read stories, learn acceptable sequences of events and understand successful ways to behave in human societies.”

When I read this this morning and flipped it into the

free ILMK magazine at Flipboard

it really got me thinking.

What would I have a robot read to learn morality? More interestingly to me, what would you have them read?

I need to set a few ground rules:

  • Only fiction. Nothing that is non-fiction philosophy, no religious non-fiction (including the books which “define” the major religions)
  • The works must have been originally published for humans to read, not created to teach robots morals
  • You can not instruct the robot as to what is good or bad in the book…or even who the hero is. We will accept that the robot has an excellent understanding of English (or whatever language you are having it read), including subtleties like humor. Think of it as an intelligent human being, but one that is naive about morality

While I’d like a robot to think like Doc Savage (one of my fictional heroes), those books have a lot of bad behavior in them. Doc also has a self-sacrificing streak I don’t think I’d want to see in my robot…and what if the robot modeled itself after the relatively bloodthirsty Monk Mayfair? Monk “wins” as much as Doc does, although Doc is more respected by others. I’m guessing that’s part of how a robot would learn, by judging the reactions of other characters to determine what is a good thing to do.

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is a possibility…assuming that the robot would look to Atticus Finch for guidance. Atticus isn’t perfect, but I’m not looking for perfect. Atticus also isn’t the main character, and it would be much trickier if the robot also read

Go Set a Watchman (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Hm…this is harder than I would have first thought.

Sherlock Holmes? Maybe if it chose Watson as the model, but not Holmes, certainly.

How about Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight? Maybe…

Clearly, I have to think about this more.

What do you think? What would you want a robot to read to learn morals? Is that the right way for a robot to learn what’s right and wrong to mold its behavior? Are Asimov’s 3 Laws of Robotics good enough…even though they were imperfect in Asimov’s own works? Would you accept imperfect morality in a robot, that it might rarely make a bad choice, one that humans would see as more evil than good? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help! 🙂 

Prime Day preview…and how to find out about more

July 12, 2016

Prime Day preview…and how to find out about more

Tick…tick…tick…ka-ching!

Prime Day (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is about seven and a half hours away as I write this (starting at midnight Pacific time Monday night/Tuesday morning).

We now know some of the deals, which I’ll highlight shortly.

There will also be many we don’t know about yet. You’ll be able to find out about them at that Prime Day link, but that does mean you have to go there.

If you are like I will be, you are more likely to be near your SmartPhone or tablet than near your (home) computer tomorrow.

The first thing to do is make sure that you have the free Amazon shopping app

Amazon for Tablets (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which is also available through Google Play and the Apple Appstore.

Amazon recommends that you go into the settings for your app, which are usually not in the app itself, but in the Settings on your phone. On my Galaxy S7 Edge, it’s: Applications – Application Manager – tap the Amazon Shopping App – Notifications – Allow Notifications – More. Check that you have notifications turned on for Your Recommendations and for Your Watched & Waitlisted Deals.

This will give you “push” notifications to let you know when sales are happening…not all sales, not even all the sales you want, but you are likely to hear about some possible things of interest.

Amazon would also like you to set up a new Wish List and add at least one item to it…my understanding is that will also tend to inform your recommendations for those notifications. I’ve done that myself.

That’s a couple of ways to track…oh, and you might want to follow me:

Follow Bufo on Twitter

It’s going to be a lot easier for me to tweet deals I notice than to start a post here and periodically update it throughout the day. You can unfollow me afterwards, if you want. 🙂 I’d really appreciate it if you went to Amazon to buy the item from the

Prime Day (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

link here, but it’s more important to me that you get the deal. 😉

Okay, here are some interesting deals I expect to happen. That doesn’t mean that they’ll all be available for the full 24 hours, by the way…some of them might sell out quickly, although Amazon has been stressing that they are better prepared this year than last (when quite a few people on social media complained about that, and about the selection). As I often caution you, check the price before you click or tap that Buy button. Not all of the countries in which my readers reside get Prime Day, and for the ones that do, the prices will vary from Amazon site to Amazon site.

Oh, and remember that you need to be a Prime member to get these deals, but you can get the free 1-month trial (and then cancel, if you want, but I don’t think you’ll want to do that). You can sign up here:

Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

You can also shop directly from your Echo device. You’ll be able to get the

Fire HD 10, 10.1″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile*)

for $129, 43% off…and you get an additional $10 off your first eligible Amazon order on your Echo device over $20. There will be other good deals…check

http://www.amazon.com/alexadeals (at AmazonSmile*)

but then order them by asking Alexa. “Alexa, order…”

There will be lots more!

I also appreciate that they mention

http://www.amazon.com/bestfriends (at AmazonSmile*)

which I didn’t even now existed! It might be new. You can send pet supplies (from a list) to an organization, described in part this way: “Best Friends Animal Society is the only national animal welfare organization focused exclusively on ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters…” We will definitely look at that.

One of the other great deals will be on

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

You will be able to save up to 40% on this subser (subscription service). We are happy members and have given a membership as a gift. It’s an “all you can read” program, where you can have up to ten books out at a time from many more than a million titles, which includes some famous books (like the original James Bond books and the Harry Potter books).

This will likely be the biggest day of the year for Amazon.

It’s also expensive for Amazon. When I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, we really amped up our resources for the holiday season…hiring new people, including temps, for one thing. We also needed more bags. 🙂 Amazon will also have to ramp up resources for Prime Day, and then ramp up again for the holidays.

It’s well worth it for them, though, if people become Prime members or solidly stay Prime members. Prime members spend more, and they spend more on those bigger margin physical items (which I call “diapers and windshield wipers”).

I think it’s funny, but I’m genuinely excited about Prime Day…like the night before a holiday!

I’ll be ready to tweet. 🙂 If you see great sales and want me and my readers to know, you can comment on this post, or . me (@bufocalvin) and I may retweet it…I’ll be at my day job, but I’ll check when I can. 🙂

Have a price-cut Prime Day! 😉

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 


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