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paul.j.fenwick

Welcome to my home on the internet! Everything here is free under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license unless marked otherwise.

This site contains various pieces of writing across my various interests, and spanning several years. You can fork this site on github if you wish.

Duck Yes! SpaceX lands their Falcon 9!

DUCK YES! SpaceX landed their first Falcon 9 today after it successfully deployed its payload to orbit. This is big news, and to quote Andy Weir:

Imagine if you took a flight from New York to London. And then, when you were done, they threw the plane away. Want to go back? Well, they’ll have to make a new plane. Imagine what air travel tickets would cost if the airline industry worked that way. Well, that’s exactly how the space industry works.

Or at least, that’s how it used to work. Until today. :)

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BuzzConf Was Awesome

I’ve just come back from BuzzConf, and I’m so excited by it that I’ve started writing about it even before my first coffee in the morning.

As a unique blend of conference and festival, BuzzConf was good. Really good.

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It's time we spoke about loneliness

Okay folks, it’s time to talk about mental health again. Today we’re going to be discussing one of the most common and yet stigma-laden topics of all: loneliness.

Lots of people feel lonely. An estimated 20% of the United States population experiences loneliness, and amongst groups prone to social isolation that can be much, much higher. Loneliness isn’t just unpleasant, either; it’s associated with a mortality risk about equal to that of smoking.

But if there’s one thing we don’t like to admit, it’s that we’re lonely.

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Human relevance in the age of machines

The industrial revolution’s defining feature was the mass-production of machines that could do jobs better than human workers. This was a change so profound that British Parliament passed a law in 1812 making destruction of a robot worker a capital offence. While that law no longer exists, there still exists an ongoing and relevant concern that humans will be replaced with machines.

A lot of the focus is on machines replacing human labour, resulting in technological unemployment; but I’m concerned about something much more frightening: what if machines can do everything better than humans? What if they’re not only better workers, but better authors, better artists, better chefs, and better lovers? What happens when the machines can offer us anything we want… save relevance?

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