What cars may become is another sort of “third space” – that space traditionally occupied by cafes, pubs and other places where humans socialize. “Some companies have declared explicitly they want their cars to be the new third places. It’s a dramatic reinterpretation of what constitutes a social environment, and maybe not in a way we’re ready to accept.”
A study involving 250 children and 400 adults finds that children aged 3-8 believe one side is better, while anyone older than 8 – but especially adults – has exactly the opposite conclusion.
“In the United States, we believe that worthy people lift themselves up by their bootstraps. This is our idea of freedom. What it means in practice is that every individual is supposed to understand finance so well that they can effectively manage their own retirement funds. And every individual is expected to understand their health risks well enough to make their own decisions about insurance. To take away the power of individuals to control their own destiny is viewed as anti-American by so much of this country. You are your own master. Children are indoctrinated into this cultural logic early, even as their parents restrict their mobility and limit their access to social situations. But when it comes to information, they are taught that they are the sole proprietors of knowledge. All they have to do is ‘do the research’ for themselves and they will know better than anyone what is real.”
“The main schism in today’s free speech debates pits liberals, advocating unbridled speech as a tool of freedom, against radicals, who unmask unbridled speech as a tool of class privilege. But that rift tells only one story. In almost all democracies today (the United States being the sole and oft-criticised exception), mainline liberal doctrines overwhelmingly require limits on provocative speech.”
“Running campaigns to shape what the public could see was nothing new, but social media created new pathways for people and organizations to get information out to wide audiences. Marketers discussed it as the future of marketing. Activists talked about it as the next frontier for activism. Political consultants talked about it as the future of political campaigns. And a new form of propaganda emerged.”
“When we use the word [dandy] casually, we refer to men (it’s almost always men) who are fussy, even anachronistic. But the figure of the dandy, historically, has been far more subversive.”
The problem is, as Jessica Lahey writes, figuring out what the term does (and doesn’t) mean.
“Over the past century, popularity has shifted between certain drugs – from cocaine and heroin in the 1920s and ’30s, to LSD and barbiturates in the 1950s and ’60s, to ecstasy and (more) cocaine in the 1980s, to today’s cognitive- and productivity-enhancing drugs, such as Adderall, Modafinil and their more serious kin.” (Someone’s forgetting about heroin and crystal meth.) “If Huxley’s progression is to be followed, the drugs we take at a given time can largely be ascribed to an era’s culture.”
“Fifty percent of the jobs will be gone in ~20 years. Not from the great sucking sound of jobs to Mexico that can be stopped with a wall. Not from moving offshore to China. From automation that is moving quickly from blue collar manufacturing to white collar information work. Second only to climate change, this is the greatest disruption of our time, and I don’t mean that word in a good way.”
The results suggest “increased awareness to dreams increases creativity through a ‘loosening’ of stereotyped thinking patterns,” the researchers conclude.
Each year John Brockman poses a question to a broad cross-section of some of the smartest people in the world and publishes their responses on The Edge. This year’s question is: “What scientific term or concept ought to be more widely known?”
“We’ve never been in a position to devour (or deliver) as much information as we are today, in the age of 24/7 news cycles and social media. We’ve never been so tempted, therefore, to forget that the pool of knowledge is limited; it’s the pool of ignorance, speculation and misunderstanding that is infinite.”
“For one thing, the most obvious candidate to replace one genius seems to be another genius. No surprise, maybe, but it makes you wonder whether the much-derided “great man” view of history, which ascribes historical trajectories to the actions and decisions of individuals, might not have some validity in science. You might wonder whether there’s some selection effect here: We overlook lesser-known candidates precisely because they weren’t discoverers, even though they could have been. But it seems entirely possible that, on the contrary, greatness always emerges, if not in one direction then another.”
“When faced with an abundance of digital toys that offer magical levels of connectivity and convenience, many of us succumb to a ‘giddy sense that privacy is kind of stupid’, as Gary Shteyngart [once] wrote.”
“Over 125 years, the global filmmaking community has been engaged in an informal science of vision, conducting a large number of trial-and-error experiments on human perception. The results are not to be found in any neuroscience or psychology textbook, though you can find some in books on cinematography and film editing, and in academic papers analysing individual films. Other insights are there in the films themselves, waiting to be described. In recent years, professional scientists have started to mine this rich, informal database, and some of what we have learned is startling.”
We evolved here, on this spinning planet, we grew from abiotic material to life, became complex, and eventually, after billions of years, became us. You. Me. Our sense of beauty and wonder and curiosity turned our gaze to the sky and allowed us to discover the pieces of Universe that were our origins, looking back across countless light years to how we came to be. This in turn inspires art, prose and music, a unique outlook and perspective on nature that we can share and appreciate. The science created the art, and the art informs the science. Perhaps one could exist without the other. Perhaps. But together they are more than either individually or summed.
“Neuroscientists can correlate activity in the brain with specific kinds of experience, but they cannot say this activity is the experience. In fact, the neural activity relating to one experience often seems nearly indistinguishable from the neural activity relating to another quite different experience. So we remain unsure where or how consciousness happens. All the same, the internalist model remains dominant and continues to be taught in textbooks and broadcast to a wider public in TV documentaries and popular non-fiction books. So our questions today are: Why this apparent consensus in the absence of convincing evidence? And what new ideas are internalists exploring to advance the science?”
“Time’s unknowable perils contributed to the flourishing of economic thought. But then something interesting happened. The creature became the creator: The economy re-invented time. Or, to put things less obliquely, the age of exploration and the industrial revolution completely changed the way people measure time, understand time, and feel and talk about time.”
“The nature of truth. Theories of fairness. The essence of bullying. These are big, weighty subjects, and apparently 9- and 10-year-olds just eat them up.”
“This scientific study of scientific bias would ignite a romance of the mind, one that spanned several decades and ended up transforming both psychology and economics. Danny Kahneman and Amos Tversky went on to show that mistakes in human judgment are not exceptions but the rule, resulting from a host of mental shortcuts and distortions that cannot be avoided. We do not behave like “rational actors,” as economists once presumed; rather, we’re predictably misguided—subject to a “bounded rationality.” Tversky went on to win a MacArthur “genius” grant on the basis of their work. Kahneman would get a Nobel Prize.”
“The quest for increased personal productivity – for making the best possible use of your limited time – is a dominant motif of our age. And yet the truth is that more often than not, techniques designed to enhance one’s personal productivity seem to exacerbate the very anxieties they were meant to allay. The better you get at managing time, the less of it you feel that you have.”
Research psychologist Paul Bloom, author of the new book Against Empathy, and a colleague from Stanford, Jamil Zaki, argue it out.
And old-school stylists are in pain: “Straight quotes appear as an abomination in a typeface, because their designers rarely love them; they’re included by necessity and often lack cohesion with other characters. The non-curly quote comes from the typewriting tradition, and arose from cost.”
“Is it naïve to be optimistic? Foolish to harbor hope? Three modes of inquiry – neuroscience, history, and psychology – supply complementary and contrasting perspectives. By putting them together, you can start to see what good hope and optimism might do you. And the country.”
“Human thought takes time to form, and so the ‘right now’ that we’re experiencing inside our skulls is always a little later than what’s going on in the outside world. .l. So, in a sense, the future has already happened – we’re just not aware of it yet. To make things even more complicated, the different senses operate at different speeds.”
Artists tangle with the implications of our trackable lives – including a widely used app called “Churchix,” that surveills and records the identities of anyone who goes into certain churches. “Because many artists — all of us, really — were so captivated by the initial promise of the internet, they were blinded to its potential problems.”
In 1748 David Hume argued, inter alia, that the probability of witnesses inaccurately claiming to have witnessed the risen Jesus was greater than that of Jesus actually rising from the dead. For the Reverend Thomas Bayes, this was simply not acceptable.
Basically, what you don’t know when speaking a second language is as important as what you do know. “Weirdly, not needing to exhaustively know everything lets you learn more.”
“When it comes to evaluating information – and separating the real from the bullshit – kids aren’t that different from adults. .. [So why do] kids still happily wait on line to sit on a jolly guy’s lap and throw their energy into composing letters to the North Pole? The answer: Because we tell them it’s worth their while.”
The list of “immersive” events on any given day is extensive. Why? “Immersive events carry the promise of intimacy and interactivity, of a unique experience, of relevance with youthful audiences who increasingly yearn to participate in their art experience rather than view it from afar. “