“With the ever-expanding prevalence of electromagnetic field-emitting technological devices, including mobile phones, video screens and Wi-Fi transmitters, a growing number of people claim to be experiencing electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), essentially an allergic reaction to electromagnetic waves.”
“It’s this idea that people deserve what happens to them. There’s just a really strong need to believe that we all deserve our outcomes and consequences. … As a general rule, Americans [in particular] have a hard time with the idea that bad things happen to good people.”
“Some people worry that one day soon we might physically attach computer chips to our minds, but we don’t actually need to plug ourselves in: proximity is a red herring. The real issue is the seamless way in which we are already hybridising our cognitive space with our devices. In ways both quotidian and profound, they are becoming extensions of our minds.”
Philosopher Christopher Freiman: “Some of history’s greatest philosophers, then, agree that wrongdoing tends to be motivated by self-interest. Alas, I’m not one of history’s greatest philosophers. Although most assume that an immoral person is one who’s ready to defy law and convention to get what they want, I think the inverse is often true. Immorality is frequently motivated by a readiness to conform to law and convention in opposition to our own values.”
“It would be really nice if you could play some games and have it radically change your cognitive abilities. But the studies don’t show that on objectively measured real-world outcomes.” The evaluation, done by a team of seven scientists, is a response to a very public disagreement about the effectiveness of brain games.
“Over the past decade, study after study has attempted to decipher and bottle the qualities of the ‘smart group’. Just as psychologists have tried to uncover the ‘g’ factor responsible for an individual’s general intelligence, they’re digging into the ‘c’ factor – the secret sauce of collective intelligence. And most importantly, we want to know how to bring that ‘c’ factor to all our collaborative work, whether that’s in the boardroom, the classroom, the lab, backstage, the woods or even in space.”
“Our collective cultural efforts of the 1960s were vastly more adventurous than they are today. Ontario Place is often described as ‘utopian,’ which is right in two senses. One, in its futurist ambition: the architecture embodies modernism’s faith in social progress, technological advances and radical innovation for its own sake. And two, in its production: It was built incredibly fast, driven by a relatively young architect – and it wasn’t entirely clear what the place was for.”
“The FoST Summit also offers workshops, like a mime class given by members of Cirque du Soleil or a lesson on drone photography, as well as performances from groups like Lin Manuel Miranda’s improvised hip-hop musical comedy troupe, Freestyle Love Supreme, and the Pilobolus dance company.”
“In scrambling expectations, she became one of those rare public intellectuals who finds readers and acolytes everywhere, capturing imaginations at both ends of the political spectrum, inspiring community organizers and libertarians alike.”
“On the one hand, we have been encouraged to believe that we are no longer the sum of our products (as we were when we were still an industrial economy) but the sum of our experiences. On the other, we lack the ritual structures that once served to organize, integrate and preserve the stream of these experiences, so they inevitably feel both scattershot and evanescent. We worry that photographs or journal entries keep us at a remove from life, but we also worry that without an inventory of these documents … we’ll disintegrate. Furthermore, that inventory has to fulfill two slightly different functions: It must define us as at once part of a tribe (‘people who go to Paris’) and independent of it (‘people who go to Paris and don’t photograph the Eiffel Tower’).”
“If consciousness is, as it should be, an organized state of matter, we seem to be lacking an essential component to describe it. For comparison, a building has bricks and pumps and electrical currents controlled by on-off switches flowing through countless wires. It is a mechanical contraption, working firmly within a set of physical laws. We understand buildings, and can build and fix them because we know the underlying physical principles under which they operate. Likewise, it is plausible that we can build brain-like systems having different kinds of experiential awareness like seeing or hearing, and that respond to such stimuli with certain actions. Many robots already do this.”
“We’ve made little progress since Einstein – until now. Some theorists, in their frustration, revert to Augustine’s deduction: that the flow of time is an illusion. Although this conclusion doesn’t fall within the realm of science (how could you falsify it?), it provides a convenient excuse for ignoring the most salient aspects of time, the flow and the now, the aspects that are at the heart of human experience. Now, in the early 21st century, it is time once again to examine the meaning of time.” Physicist Richard A. Muller explains why.
“We’re always writing from our experiences of things that we’ve read and what we’ve heard and things that we’ve absorbed verbally. So to what extent can anyone author anything? And to what extent does this machine augment this capacity?”
Johann Georg Locher “argued that Copernicus was wrong about Earth circling the Sun, and that Earth was fixed in place, at the centre of the Universe, like Ptolemy said. … Indeed, Locher even proposed a mechanism to explain how Earth could orbit the Sun (a sort of perpetual falling – this decades before Isaac Newton would explain orbits by means of perpetual falling), but he said it would not help the Copernicans, on account of the other problems with their theory.”
“Boredom is where creativity is born. Boredom is not the enemy. Boredom is the friend. Boredom is what gives rise to ‘What happens when I take a picture between my fingers? What happens when I turn the camera sideways?’”
“Investigations into rats wearing pants, the personalities of rocks and the truthfulness of 1,000 liars won Ig Nobel prizes on Thursday night at Harvard, where Nobel-winning scientists gathered to honor the strangest research of the year.”
“By bringing the tools of computation and machine intuition to the table, AI researchers are giving us a more complete picture of how we learn. They are also broadening the study of education to include quantitative, numerical models of the learning process itself. “The thing that AI brings to the table is that it forces us to get into the details of how everything works,” says John Laird, a computer scientist at the University of Michigan. If there was any doubt that good teachers are important, machine learning is helping put it to rest.”
“The primacy of feelings in our economy has given rise to a new field of scholarly inquiry. ‘Affect studies’ refers to humanistic and social-scientific investigations of the ways that feelings are generated, experienced, and interpreted. An affect is a particular kind of feeling, one distinct from an emotion. For academics in the field, affects are feelings that reside not in individual people but in social groups, institutions, or physical spaces.”
All of the past “justice revolutions” have stemmed from improved communications. Oppression thrives on distance, on not actually meeting or seeing the oppressed. The next revolution will not abolish the consequences of place of birth, but the privileges of nationhood will be tempered. While the rise in anti-immigrant sentiment around the world today seems to point in the opposite direction, the sense of injustice will be amplified as communications continue to grow. Ultimately, recognition of wrong will wreak big changes.
Apparently, delivery companies value flat-screen TVs more than bikes.
“Contestants never say things like ‘I didn’t come here to make friends.’ There are no irritating product placements and — perhaps most incomprehensibly to American audiences — no material riches to be won. That’s right: The winner of ‘The Great British Baking Show’ wins a title and an engraved cake stand, and that’s it.”
“A large new study published online last week in the Nature journal Neuropsychopharmacology …finds that loneliness appears to be a ‘modestly heritable’ trait. A predisposition to feeling lonely may run in the family, in other words. But there’s a caveat here.”
“The machine does what you say, not what you mean. More and more ‘decisions’ are being entrusted to software, including life-or-death ones: think self-driving cars; think semi-autonomous weapons; think Facebook and Google making inferences about your marital, psychological or physical status, before selling it to the highest bidder. Yet it’s rarely in the interests of companies and governments to encourage us to probe what’s going on beneath these processes.”
“It was the assertion of the Romantic movement that art makes us appreciate the beauty, richness and sheer size of the world. And technology, used appropriately, brings us closer to that sublime… Even if that was true in 1939, it’s not true now: not now our drones do our flying for us; not now our technology has got away from us to the point where large portions of nature are being erased; not now we live mired in media and, indeed, have to make special efforts to escape it.”
“We invited 50 leaders in the design community—typically some of the most opinionated, creative, and analytical types in business—to share how or if they brainstorm. Here are some of their responses, including a characteristically honest one from the legendary and outspoken creative director George Lois.”
“When we think we are not dealing with reality, our emotional response appears to be subdued on a neural level. This may be because of a tendency to ‘distance’ ourselves from the image, to be able to appreciate or scrutinize its shapes, colors, and composition instead of just its content.”
“A baby giraffe can stand within an hour of birth, and can even potentially flee predators on its first day of life. A monkey can grasp its mother and hang on for protection and nourishment. A human infant can’t even hold up its own head. … Humans are born quite helpless, far more so than any other primate, but, fairly early on, we start becoming quite smart, again far more so than any other primate. What if this weren’t a contradiction so much as a causal pathway?”
“Idleness is difficult to find in a pure state. Indeed, in a certain sense, it eludes us because, at its most radical, idleness tends to devour its devotees (again, Oblomov and Bartleby). But procrastination is a different business altogether: It is not only more available, but also more dynamic, just as the procrastinator is a more dramatic figure than the idler, who is as ascetic and immobile as a pillar saint.”
“The metaphysical and epistemological problems that arose out of the scientific revolution are particularly difficult and abstract, and the responses of these thinkers are among the most formidable structures that philosophy has produced.”
“The question was: How complete an account of the nature of reality could the new physical science in principle provide? Do our minds necessarily escape its reach, even if our bodies are part of the physical world?”