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Javier E

You're Not Going to Change Your Mind - The New York Times - 0 views

  • A troubling feature of political disagreement in the United States today is that many issues on which liberals and conservatives hold divergent views are questions not of value but of fact. Is human activity responsible for global warming? Do guns make society safer? Is immigration harmful to the economy? Though undoubtedly complicated, these questions turn on empirical evidence.
  • Unfortunately, people do not always revise their beliefs in light of new information. On the contrary, they often stubbornly maintain their views. Certain disagreements stay entrenched and polarized.
  • A common explanation is confirmation bias
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  • the psychological tendency to favor information that confirms our beliefs
  • If this explanation is right, then there is a relatively straightforward solution to political polarization: We need to consciously expose ourselves to evidence that challenges our beliefs to compensate for our inclination to discount it.
  • But what if confirmation bias isn’t the only culprit? It recently struck us that confirmation bias is often conflated with “telling people what they want to hear,” which is actually a distinct phenomenon known as desirability bias, or the tendency to credit information you want to believe.
  • we decided to conduct an experiment that would isolate these biases
  • The results, which we report in a forthcoming paper in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, were clear and robust. Those people who received desirable evidence — polls suggesting that their preferred candidate was going to win — took note and incorporated the information into their subsequent belief
  • . In contrast, those people who received undesirable evidence barely changed their belief about which candidate was most likely to win.
  • we observed a general bias toward the desirable evidence.
  • What about confirmation bias? To our surprise, those people who received confirming evidence — polls supporting their prior belief about which candidate was most likely to win — showed no bias in favor of this information.
  • They tended to incorporate this evidence into their subsequent belief to the same extent as those people who had their prior belief disconfirmed. In other words, we observed little to no bias toward the confirming evidence.
  • Our study suggests that political belief polarization may emerge because of peoples’ conflicting desires, not their conflicting beliefs per se
  • This is rather troubling, as it implies that even if we were to escape from our political echo chambers, it wouldn’t help much. Short of changing what people want to believe, we must find other ways to unify our perceptions of reality.
Javier E

For Trump and G.O.P., the Welfare State Shouldn't Be the Enemy - The New York Times - 0 views

  • Historically, however, the level of government spending and the level of regulation have been packaged together and treated as a single variable. This has forced a choice between two options: the “liberal” package of big government and heavy regulation or the “conservative” package of small government and light regulation.
  • But this is a false choice. Regulatory policy and fiscal policy are independent dimensions, and they can be rebundled in different packages. Mr. Trump’s gestures toward a big-government, low-regulation package — rooted more in instinct than intellect — proved popular with Republican voters
  • Government spending reliably rises as economies grow. When countries get richer, one of the first things their people do is vote for more generous government social services. This pattern, which economists have labeled Wagner’s Law, has held more or less steady for a century in dozens of developed democratic countries.
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  • Republicans need to recognize finally that secure property rights, openness to global trade and a relatively low regulatory burden are much more important than fiscal policy for innovation, job creation and rising standards of
  • not only are sound safety nets popular, but they also increase the public’s tolerance for the dislocations of a dynamic free-market economy
  • Third, the idea that reducing taxpayer-financed government spending is the key to giving people more freedom and revving up the economy encourages conservative hostility to government as such
  • The Republican legislative agenda is stalled because party members have boxed themselves in with their own bad ideas about what freedom and rising prosperity require. A new pro-growth economic platform that sets aside small-government monomania and focuses instead on protecting citizens’ basic rights to commit “capitalist acts between consenting adults,” as the libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick put it, has both practical and political advantages
  • a generous and effective safety net can be embraced as a tool to promote and sustain a culture of freedom, innovation and risk taking. Politically, repairing and improving the slipshod infrastructure of the safety net would liberate Republicans from the bad faith of attacking the welfare state in one breath, halfheartedly promising not to cut entitlements in the next and then breaking that promise once in power.

How Inoculation Can Help Prevent Pseudoscience | Big Think - 1 views

  • It is easier to fool a person than it is to convince a person that they’ve been fooled. This is one of the great curses of humanity.
  • Given the incredible amount of information we process each day, it is difficult for any of us to critically analyze all of it.
  • The state of Minnesota is battling a measles outbreak caused by anti-vaccination propaganda. And Discussion over the effects of misinformation on recent elections in Austria, Germany, and the United States is still ongoing.
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  • A recent set of experiments shows us that there is a way to help reduce the effects of misinformation on people: the authors amusingly call it the “inoculation.”
  • which even then were heavily influenced by their pre-existing worldviews.
  • teaching about misconceptions leads to greater learning overall then just telling somebody the truth.
    Fake news and alternative facts are things that mess up our perception a lot. As we learned in TOK, there are a lot of fallacies in human reasoning. People tend to stick with their pre-existing worldview or ideas. I found it very interesting that people reduce the effect of misinformation by having an "inoculation". I think our TOK class is like the "inoculation" in a way that it asks us question and challenge us with the idea that everything might not seem as definite or absolute as it seems. TOK class can definitely help us to be immune of the fake news. --Sissi (5/25/2017)

Human-Like Thinking Is up to 1.8 Million Years-Old, Study Finds | Big Think - 0 views

  • I have a confession to make, I think I’m pretty smart.
  • And is it something we can measure?
  • Shelby S. Putt conducted the study. She’s a postdoctoral researcher with The Stone Age Institute at Indiana University.
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  • Neuroarchaeology is a new field which seeks to understand how ancient hominids and humans evolved cognitively.
  • brain imaging technology
  • The more intricate Acheulian tools, required a lot more of the brain’s real estate. Fashioning one activates the superior temporal cortex, ventral precentral gyrus, and supplementary motor areas.
    We tends to think we are the special ones that are the most intelligent form of living. However, the cognitive that we are so proud of actually existed millions of years ago according to neuroarchaeology. I think it is rather ironic. --Sissi (5/24/2017

Why Silicon Valley Titans Train Their Brains with Philosophy | Big Think - 0 views

  • To alleviate the stresses and open their minds, the execs have been known to experiment with microdosing on psychedelics, taking brain-stimulating nootropics, and sleeping in phases. What’s their latest greatest brain hack? Philosophy.
  • The guidance focuses on using reason and logic to unmask illusions about your life or work.
  • He thinks that approach can obscure the true understanding of human life. In an interview with Quartz, he says that rather than ask “How can I be more successful?” it’s actually more important to ask - "Why be successful?”
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  • introduces thought and balance to people’s lives.
  • Thomas S. Kuhn
    I found this very interesting that philosophy can be linked to the modern silicon valley. The silicon valley always gives me a modern impression as if it is the lead of human technology and a believer of science. I am surprised that actually many people in silicon valley are interested in philosophy, something that I consider being not practical at all. I think this shows the importance of being cross-disciplined. --Sissi (5/23/2017)
Cecilia Ergueta

We Aren't Built to Live in the Moment - The New York Times - 2 views

  • Looking into the future, consciously and unconsciously, is a central function of our large brain, as psychologists and neuroscientists have discovered — rather belatedly, because for the past century most researchers have assumed that we’re prisoners of the past and the present.
  • Behavior, memory and perception can’t be understood without appreciating the central role of prospection. We learn not by storing static records but by continually retouching memories and imagining future possibilities
  • Our emotions are less reactions to the present than guides to future behavior
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  • If traditional psychological theory had been correct, these people would have spent a lot of time ruminating. But they actually thought about the future three times more often than the past,
  • paid special attention to unexpected novelties because that was how they learned to avoid punishment and win rewards.
  • Your brain engages in the same sort of prospection to provide its own instant answers, which come in the form of emotions. The main purpose of emotions is to guide future behavior and moral judgments, according to researchers in a new field called prospective psychology. Emotions enable you to empathize with others by predicting their reactions.
  • If Homo prospectus takes the really long view, does he become morbid? That was a longstanding assumption in psychologists’ “terror management theory,” which held that humans avoid thinking about the future because they fear death. The theory was explored in hundreds of experiments assigning people to think about their own deaths. One common response was to become more assertive about one’s cultural values, like becoming more patriotic.
Javier E

When scientists saw the mouse heads glowing, they knew the discovery was big - The Wash... - 0 views

  • have found evidence linking problems in the lymphatic and glymphatic systems to Alzheimer’s. In a study on mice, they showed that glymphatic dysfunction contributes to the buildup in the brain of amyloid beta, a protein that plays a key role in the disease.
  • several colleagues examined postmortem tissue from 79 human brains. They focused on aquaporin-4, a key protein in glymphatic vessels. In the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, this protein was jumbled; in those without the disease, the protein was well organized. This suggests that glymphatic breakdowns may play a role in the disease
  • The vessels have also been implicated in autoimmune disease. Researchers knew that the immune system has limited access to the brain. But at the same time, the immune system kept tabs on the brain’s status; no one knew exactly how. Some researchers theorize that the glymphatic system could be the conduit and that in diseases such as multiple sclerosis — where the body’s immune system attacks certain brain cells — the communication may go awry.
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  • The system may also play a role in symptoms of traumatic brain injur
  • Mice are a good model, she says, because their glymphatic systems are very similar to humans’. She and Iliff found that even months after being injured, the animals’ brains were still not clearing waste efficiently, leading to a buildup of toxic compounds, including amyloid beta. Nedergaard returns to the dishwasher analogy. “It’s like if you only use a third of the water when you turn on the machine,” she says. “You won’t get clean dishes.”
  • in mice, omega-3 fatty acidsimproved glymphatic functioning.
  • Nedergaard has shown that at least in mice, the system processes twice as much fluid during sleep as it does during wakefulness. She and her colleagues focused on amyloid beta; they found that the lymphatic system removed much more of the protein when the animals were asleep than when they were awake. She suggests that over time, sleep dysfunction may contribute to Alzheimer’s and perhaps other brain illnesses. “You only clean your brain when you’re sleeping,” she says. “This is probably an important reason that we sleep. You need time off from consciousness to do the housekeeping.”
  • Sleeping on your stomach is also not very effective; sleeping on your back is somewhat better, while lying on your side appears to produce the best results.
  • glymphatic flow is significantly decreased in the period just before a migraine. The intense pain in these headaches is caused largely by inflamed nerves in the tissue that surrounds the brain. Neuroscientists Rami Burstein and Aaron Schain, the lead authors, theorize that faulty clearance of molecular waste from the brain could trigger inflammation in these pain fibers.
  • other scientists have found that deep breathing significantly increases the glymphatic transport of cerebrospinal fluid into the brain.
Javier E

Breakfast was the most important meal of the day - until America ruined it - The Washin... - 1 views

  • It’s probably more accurate to call breakfast the most dangerous meal of the day. Not only because of the sugar in so many breakfast cereals, but also because the refined grains they’re made of are virtually the same thing, once they reach your bloodstream.
  • All the cereal, whole grain or not, is processed in a way to give it indefinite shelf life. As the nutritious parts of our food are what goes bad on the shelf, just about every processed-grain product on the shelf is nutritionally barren.
  • refined wheat, rice and corn, what most mainstream American breakfast cereals are primarily composed of, is quickly converted to sugar on entering your system, requiring that exact same insulin response.
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  • When you see someone spooning sugar onto a bowl of cornflakes or Cheerios, you should not see the act as sweetening something that’s good for you, you should see it as someone spooning sugar onto sugar.
  • the biggest culprits in America’s bad health are sugar and refined grains, in that order. Sugar, a carbohydrate, now seems to be the chief villain. (In his recent book “The Case Against Sugar,” Taubes suggests it should be considered toxic in the same way cigarettes are.) But its nutritional cousin, the refined-grain carbohydrate, may be a close second.
  • Cereal was not always the morning staple that it is today. It only became so at about the same time that our health problems began to be documented, in the 1960s. A coincidence?
  • cereal was initially eaten on Sundays, when the women of our churchgoing nation didn’t have time to make the family breakfast. Once women entered the workforce, though, we began pouring our convenient breakfasts out of a box in significant numbers daily, a trend that peaked in 1995,
  • it may not even just be cereal that’s had such a huge impact on American health. “Maybe the problem,” Sukol said, “is the huge quantity of nutritionally bankrupt foods that are supposed to stand in for breakfast.”

  • By this she means anything composed primarily of refined wheat, which would be, um, 90 percent of the American breakfast repertoire: pancakes, waffles, bagels, toast, muffins, biscuits, scones, croissants, and so on.
  • eating this stuff on an empty stomach (i.e. in the morning), may be especially bad for your system, as there is little fiber, fat or protein in your system to slow the sugar absorption. Our breakfast staples might all best be considered as a single category of food: sugar bomb.
  • she nevertheless recommends that all her patients avoid what she calls “stripped” carbs, carbohydrates stripped of their fiber matrix, before noon.
  • What does she recommend for breakfast? Steel-cut oats, not cooked but rather soaked overnight with a dash of vinegar. I add whole-fat Greek yogurt and some nuts if I have them
  • Beans are great too. I had a delicious dish of lentils and a small amount of basmati rice
  • An egg and some cheese are also a nourishing and satisfying way to begin the day.
  • it throws a different light on the cereal aisle. That hulking behemoth in the middle of the grocery store, the racks of cereal, is stripped-carb and sugar ground zero, representing a kind of unrecognized terrorism wrought on parents by our own food makers
Javier E

Bile, venom and lies: How I was trolled on the Internet - The Washington Post - 0 views

  • In a comprehensive new study of Facebook that analyzed posts made between 2010 and 2014, a group of scholars found that people mainly shared information that confirmed their prejudices, paying little attention to facts and veracity. (Hat tip to Cass Sunstein, the leading expert on this topic.) The result, the report says, is the “proliferation of biased narratives fomented by unsubstantiated rumors, mistrust and paranoia.”
  • The authors specifically studied trolling — the creation of highly provocative, often false information, with the hope of spreading it widely. The report says that “many mechanisms cause false information to gain acceptance, which in turn generate false beliefs that, once adopted by an individual, are highly resistant to correction.”
  • in recent weeks I was the target of a trolling campaign and saw exactly how it works. It started when an obscure website published a post titled “CNN host Fareed Zakaria calls for jihad rape of white women.
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  • Here is what happened next: Hundreds of people began linking to it, tweeting and retweeting it, and adding their comments, which are too vulgar or racist to repeat. A few ultra-right-wing websites reprinted the story as fact. With each new cycle, the levels of hysteria rose, and people started demanding that I be fired, deported or killed. For a few days, the digital intimidation veered out into the real world. Some people called my house late one night and woke up and threatened my daughters, who are 7 and 12.
  • The people spreading this story were not interested in the facts; they were interested in feeding prejudice. The original story was cleverly written to provide conspiracy theorists with enough ammunition to ignore evidence. It claimed that I had taken down the post after a few hours when I realized it “receive[d] negative attention.”
  • an experiment performed by two psychologists in 1970. They divided students into two groups based on their answers to a questionnaire: high prejudice and low prejudice. Each group was told to discuss controversial issues such as school busing and integrated housing. Then the questions were asked again. “The surveys revealed a striking pattern,” Kolbert noted. “Simply by talking to one another, the bigoted students had become more bigoted and the tolerant more tolerant.” This “group polarization” is now taking place at hyper speed, around the world. It is how radicalization happens and extremism spreads.
Javier E

How a Polymath Mastered Math-and So Can You - WSJ - 0 views

  • How do you strengthen your mind as you age?
  • Physical exercise helps encourage neuron growth. Some forms of meditation improve creativity, while others sharpen focus. In one study, “reading a book for around 3½ hours a week was shown to extend the lifespan . . . by something like two to three years.” Learning a foreign language “gives a workout to the very centers of the brain that are most affected by the aging process, so it’s super healthy.”
  • “Action videogames are incredibly helpful in keeping you sharp,” Ms. Oakley says. “They’ve been shown by research—top-notch research—to make a big difference in your attentional centers.”
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  • By trial and error, Ms. Oakley had learned how to learn: “The higher I went, it started to gradually make more and more sense.”
  • “The way you learn intensively for a language is very similar to learning well in math and science,”
  • “In learning math and science through K-12, it’s long been held that practice and repetition will kill your creativity,” she says. “One mistake we make in the school system is we emphasize understanding. But if you don’t build those neural circuits with practice, it’ll all slip away. You can understand out the wazoo, but it’ll just disappear if you’re not practicing with it.”
  • In places like China and India, “practice and repetition and rote and memorization are really important parts of education.” She sees value in both methods: “There are real benefits for Western approaches—that it really does help with creativity. And there are also real benefits to Asian approaches—that it builds a solid foundation in the most difficult disciplines, math and science.
  • The best education would actually be a combination of both approaches.”
  • She defines a “mindshift” as “a change in your outlook that occurs through intensive learning”—such as her own mastery of math and engineering.
  • The book is filled with advice for people who are considering a career change or who seek to develop “an attitude of lifelong learning,” even in retirement.
  • Her progression from desultory student to respected scholar led her to a sideline in the study of learning itself. She’s published two books on the subject, “A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even if You Flunked Algebra)” (2014) and the new “Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential.
  • they developed a massive open online course, “Learning How to Learn,” which by some measures is the world’s most popular MOOC
Javier E

Accelerationism: how a fringe philosophy predicted the future we live in | World news |... - 0 views

  • Roger Zelazny, published his third novel. In many ways, Lord of Light was of its time, shaggy with imported Hindu mythology and cosmic dialogue. Yet there were also glints of something more forward-looking and political.
  • accelerationism has gradually solidified from a fictional device into an actual intellectual movement: a new way of thinking about the contemporary world and its potential.
  • Accelerationists argue that technology, particularly computer technology, and capitalism, particularly the most aggressive, global variety, should be massively sped up and intensified – either because this is the best way forward for humanity, or because there is no alternative.
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  • Accelerationists favour automation. They favour the further merging of the digital and the human. They often favour the deregulation of business, and drastically scaled-back government. They believe that people should stop deluding themselves that economic and technological progress can be controlled.
  • Accelerationism, therefore, goes against conservatism, traditional socialism, social democracy, environmentalism, protectionism, populism, nationalism, localism and all the other ideologies that have sought to moderate or reverse the already hugely disruptive, seemingly runaway pace of change in the modern world
  • Robin Mackay and Armen Avanessian in their introduction to #Accelerate: The Accelerationist Reader, a sometimes baffling, sometimes exhilarating book, published in 2014, which remains the only proper guide to the movement in existence.
  • “We all live in an operating system set up by the accelerating triad of war, capitalism and emergent AI,” says Steve Goodman, a British accelerationist
  • A century ago, the writers and artists of the Italian futurist movement fell in love with the machines of the industrial era and their apparent ability to invigorate society. Many futurists followed this fascination into war-mongering and fascism.
  • One of the central figures of accelerationism is the British philosopher Nick Land, who taught at Warwick University in the 1990s
  • Land has published prolifically on the internet, not always under his own name, about the supposed obsolescence of western democracy; he has also written approvingly about “human biodiversity” and “capitalistic human sorting” – the pseudoscientific idea, currently popular on the far right, that different races “naturally” fare differently in the modern world; and about the supposedly inevitable “disintegration of the human species” when artificial intelligence improves sufficiently.
  • In our politically febrile times, the impatient, intemperate, possibly revolutionary ideas of accelerationism feel relevant, or at least intriguing, as never before. Noys says: “Accelerationists always seem to have an answer. If capitalism is going fast, they say it needs to go faster. If capitalism hits a bump in the road, and slows down” – as it has since the 2008 financial crisis – “they say it needs to be kickstarted.”
  • On alt-right blogs, Land in particular has become a name to conjure with. Commenters have excitedly noted the connections between some of his ideas and the thinking of both the libertarian Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel and Trump’s iconoclastic strategist Steve Bannon.
  • “In Silicon Valley,” says Fred Turner, a leading historian of America’s digital industries, “accelerationism is part of a whole movement which is saying, we don’t need [conventional] politics any more, we can get rid of ‘left’ and ‘right’, if we just get technology right. Accelerationism also fits with how electronic devices are marketed – the promise that, finally, they will help us leave the material world, all the mess of the physical, far behind.”

  • In 1972, the philosopher Gilles Deleuze and the psychoanalyst Félix Guattari published Anti-Oedipus. It was a restless, sprawling, appealingly ambiguous book, which suggested that, rather than simply oppose capitalism, the left should acknowledge its ability to liberate as well as oppress people, and should seek to strengthen these anarchic tendencies, “to go still further … in the movement of the market … to ‘accelerate the process’”.
  • By the early 90s Land had distilled his reading, which included Deleuze and Guattari and Lyotard, into a set of ideas and a writing style that, to his students at least, were visionary and thrillingly dangerous. Land wrote in 1992 that capitalism had never been properly unleashed, but instead had always been held back by politics, “the last great sentimental indulgence of mankind”. He dismissed Europe as a sclerotic, increasingly marginal place, “the racial trash-can of Asia”. And he saw civilisation everywhere accelerating towards an apocalypse: “Disorder must increase... Any [human] organisation is ... a mere ... detour in the inexorable death-flow.”
  • With the internet becoming part of everyday life for the first time, and capitalism seemingly triumphant after the collapse of communism in 1989, a belief that the future would be almost entirely shaped by computers and globalisation – the accelerated “movement of the market” that Deleuze and Guattari had called for two decades earlier – spread across British and American academia and politics during the 90s. The Warwick accelerationists were in the vanguard.
  • In the US, confident, rainbow-coloured magazines such as Wired promoted what became known as “the Californian ideology”: the optimistic claim that human potential would be unlocked everywhere by digital technology. In Britain, this optimism influenced New Labour
  • At Warwick, however, the prophecies were darker. “One of our motives,” says Plant, “was precisely to undermine the cheery utopianism of the 90s, much of which seemed very conservative” – an old-fashioned male desire for salvation through gadgets, in her view.
  • The CCRU gang formed reading groups and set up conferences and journals. They squeezed into the narrow CCRU room in the philosophy department and gave each other impromptu seminars.
  • The main result of the CCRU’s frantic, promiscuous research was a conveyor belt of cryptic articles, crammed with invented terms, sometimes speculative to the point of being fiction.
  • The Warwick accelerationists saw themselves as participants, not traditional academic observers
  • K-punk was written by Mark Fisher, formerly of the CCRU. The blog retained some Warwick traits, such as quoting reverently from Deleuze and Guattari, but it gradually shed the CCRU’s aggressive rhetoric and pro-capitalist politics for a more forgiving, more left-leaning take on modernity. Fisher increasingly felt that capitalism was a disappointment to accelerationists, with its cautious, entrenched corporations and endless cycles of essentially the same products. But he was also impatient with the left, which he thought was ignoring new technology
  • lex Williams, co-wrote a Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics. “Capitalism has begun to constrain the productive forces of technology,” they wrote. “[Our version of] accelerationism is the basic belief that these capacities can and should be let loose … repurposed towards common ends … towards an alternative modernity.”
  • What that “alternative modernity” might be was barely, but seductively, sketched out, with fleeting references to reduced working hours, to technology being used to reduce social conflict rather than exacerbate it, and to humanity moving “beyond the limitations of the earth and our own immediate bodily forms”. On politics and philosophy blogs from Britain to the US and Italy, the notion spread that Srnicek and Williams had founded a new political philosophy: “left accelerationism”.
  • Two years later, in 2015, they expanded the manifesto into a slightly more concrete book, Inventing the Future. It argued for an economy based as far as possible on automation, with the jobs, working hours and wages lost replaced by a universal basic income. The book attracted more attention than a speculative leftwing work had for years, with interest and praise from intellectually curious leftists
  • Even the thinking of the arch-accelerationist Nick Land, who is 55 now, may be slowing down. Since 2013, he has become a guru for the US-based far-right movement neoreaction, or NRx as it often calls itself. Neoreactionaries believe in the replacement of modern nation-states, democracy and government bureaucracies by authoritarian city states, which on neoreaction blogs sound as much like idealised medieval kingdoms as they do modern enclaves such as Singapore.
  • Land argues now that neoreaction, like Trump and Brexit, is something that accelerationists should support, in order to hasten the end of the status quo.
  • In 1970, the American writer Alvin Toffler, an exponent of accelerationism’s more playful intellectual cousin, futurology, published Future Shock, a book about the possibilities and dangers of new technology. Toffler predicted the imminent arrival of artificial intelligence, cryonics, cloning and robots working behind airline check-in desks
Javier E

The meaning of life in a world without work | Technology | The Guardian - 0 views

  • As artificial intelligence outperforms humans in more and more tasks, it will replace humans in more and more jobs.
  • Many new professions are likely to appear: virtual-world designers, for example. But such professions will probably require more creativity and flexibility, and it is unclear whether 40-year-old unemployed taxi drivers or insurance agents will be able to reinvent themselves as virtual-world designers
  • The crucial problem isn’t creating new jobs. The crucial problem is creating new jobs that humans perform better than algorithms. Consequently, by 2050 a new class of people might emerge – the useless class. People who are not just unemployed, but unemployable.
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  • The same technology that renders humans useless might also make it feasible to feed and support the unemployable masses through some scheme of universal basic income.
  • The real problem will then be to keep the masses occupied and content. People must engage in purposeful activities, or they go crazy. So what will the useless class do all day?
  • One answer might be computer games. Economically redundant people might spend increasing amounts of time within 3D virtual reality worlds, which would provide them with far more excitement and emotional engagement than the “real world” outside.
  • This, in fact, is a very old solution. For thousands of years, billions of people have found meaning in playing virtual reality games. In the past, we have called these virtual reality games “religions”.
  • Muslims and Christians go through life trying to gain points in their favorite virtual reality game. If you pray every day, you get points. If you forget to pray, you lose points. If by the end of your life you gain enough points, then after you die you go to the next level of the game (aka heaven).
  • As religions show us, the virtual reality need not be encased inside an isolated box. Rather, it can be superimposed on the physical reality. In the past this was done with the human imagination and with sacred books, and in the 21st century it can be done with smartphones.
  • Consumerism too is a virtual reality game. You gain points by acquiring new cars, buying expensive brands and taking vacations abroad, and if you have more points than everybody else, you tell yourself you won the game.
  • we saw two others kids on the street who were hunting the same Pokémon, and we almost got into a fight with them. It struck me how similar the situation was to the conflict between Jews and Muslims about the holy city of Jerusalem. When you look at the objective reality of Jerusalem, all you see are stones and buildings. There is no holiness anywhere. But when you look through the medium of smartbooks (such as the Bible and the Qur’an), you see holy places and angels everywhere.
  • In the end, the real action always takes place inside the human brain. Does it matter whether the neurons are stimulated by observing pixels on a computer screen, by looking outside the windows of a Caribbean resort, or by seeing heaven in our mind’s eyes?
  • Indeed, one particularly interesting section of Israeli society provides a unique laboratory for how to live a contented life in a post-work world. In Israel, a significant percentage of ultra-orthodox Jewish men never work. They spend their entire lives studying holy scriptures and performing religion rituals. They and their families don’t starve to death partly because the wives often work, and partly because the government provides them with generous subsidies. Though they usually live in poverty, government support means that they never lack for the basic necessities of life.
  • That’s universal basic income in action. Though they are poor and never work, in survey after survey these ultra-orthodox Jewish men report higher levels of life-satisfaction than any other section of Israeli society.
  • Hence virtual realities are likely to be key to providing meaning to the useless class of the post-work world. Maybe these virtual realities will be generated inside computers. Maybe they will be generated outside computers, in the shape of new religions and ideologies. Maybe it will be a combination of the two. The possibilities are endless
  • In any case, the end of work will not necessarily mean the end of meaning, because meaning is generated by imagining rather than by working.
  • People in 2050 will probably be able to play deeper games and to construct more complex virtual worlds than in any previous time in history.
  • But what about truth? What about reality? Do we really want to live in a world in which billions of people are immersed in fantasies, pursuing make-believe goals and obeying imaginary laws? Well, like it or not, that’s the world we have been living in for thousands of years already.
Javier E

E.P.A. Dismisses Members of Major Scientific Review Board - The New York Times - 0 views

  • Members of the board say they have reviewed the E.P.A.’s scientific research on the public health impact of leaking underground fuel tanks, the toxicity of the chemicals used to clean up oil spills, and the effects of the spread of bark beetles caused by a warming climate.

    A larger, corresponding panel, the 47-member Science Advisory Board, advises the agency on what areas it should conduct research in and evaluates the scientific integrity of some of its regulations.

  • Both boards, which until now have been composed almost entirely of academic research scientists, have long been targets of political attacks. Congressional Republicans and industry groups have sought to either change their composition or weaken their influence on the environmental regulatory process.
  • “In recent years, S.A.B. experts have become nothing more than rubber stamps who approve all of the E.P.A.’s regulations,” Mr. Smith said at a House hearing in February. “The E.P.A. routinely stacks this board with friendly scientists who receive millions of dollars in grants from the federal government. The conflict of interest here is clear.”

Daniel Kahneman On Hiring Decisions - Business Insider - 0 views

  • Most hiring decisions come down to a gut decision.

    According to Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, however, this process is extremely flawed and there's a much better way.

    • dicindioha
      hiring comes down to 'gut feeling'
  • Kahneman asked interviewers to put aside personal judgments and limit interviews to a series of factual questions meant to generate a score on six separate personality traits.

    A few months later, it became clear that Kahneman's systematic approach was a vast improvement over gut decisions. It was so effective that the army would use his exact method for decades to come.

    Why you should care is because this superior method can be copied by any organization — and really, by anyone facing a hard decision.

  • First, select a few traits that are prerequisites for success in this position (technical proficiency, engaging personality, reliability, and so on. Don't overdo it — six dimensions is a good number. The traits you choose should be as independent as possible from each other, and you should feel that you can assess them reliably by asking a few factual questions. Next, make a list of those questions for each trait and think about how you will score it, say on a 1-5 scale. You should have an idea of what you will call "very weak" or "very strong."
    • dicindioha
  • ...2 more annotations...
  • Do not skip around. To evaluate each candidate add up the six scores ... Firmly resolve that you will hire the candidate whose final score is the highest, even if there is another one whom you like better — try to resist your wish to invent broken legs to change the ranking.
  • than if you do what people normally do in such situations, which is to go into the interview unprepared and to make choices by an overall intuitive judgment such as "I looked into his eyes and liked what I saw."
    we cannot always use simply a 'gut feeling' from our so called 'reasoning' and emotional response to make big decisions like job hiring, which is what happens much of the time. this is a really interesting way to do it systematically. you still use your own perspective, but the questions asked will hopefully lead you to a better outcome

Why Instagram Is Becoming Facebook's Next Facebook - The New York Times - 1 views

  • Instagram has thus triggered an echo — it feels like Facebook. More precisely, it feels the way Facebook did from 2009 to 2012, when it silently crossed over from one of those tech things that some people sometimes did to one of those tech things that everyone you know does every day.

  • But last year, you might have said there was a question whether a picture-based service like Instagram could have reached similar scale — whether it was universal enough, whether there were enough people whose phones could handle it, whether it could survive greater competition from newer photo networks like Snapchat.
  • Mr. Systrom said this plan to rapidly speed up Instagram’s pace of change to attract more users was deliberate.
    I think the rise of the social media partly shows the changes in our society. By looking at how a social media make their success, we can see what the mainstream culture of the society is.

Why Kids Shouldn't Sit Still in Class - 0 views

    "Daily physical activity is an opportunity for the average school to become a high-performing school," said Jesper Fritz, a doctoral student at Lund University and physician at the Skane University Hospital in Malmo who was the study's lead author. "Activity helps the brain in so many ways," said James F.

Why Deep Breathing May Keep Us Calm - 0 views

    In the years since, though, little progress had been made in understanding precisely how those cells work. But recently, a group of scientists at Stanford and other universities, including some of the U.C.L.A. researchers, began using sophisticated new genetics techniques to study individual neurons in the pacemaker.
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