Knowmads, Infocology of the future
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The evolutionary puzzle of homosexuality

The evolutionary puzzle of homosexuality | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it

In the last two decades, dozens of scientific papers have been published on the biological origins of homosexuality - another announcement was made last week. It's becoming scientific orthodoxy. But how does it fit with Darwin's theory of evolution?

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's hit song Same Love, which has become an unofficial anthem of the pro-gay marriage campaign in the US, reflects how many gay people feel about their sexuality.

It mocks those who "think it's a decision, and you can be cured with some treatment and religion - man-made rewiring of a predisposition". A minority of gay people disagree, maintaining that sexuality is a social construct, and they have made a conscious, proud choice to take same-sex partners.

But scientific opinion is with Macklemore. Since the early 1990s, researchers have shown that homosexuality is more common in brothers and relatives on the same maternal line, and a genetic factor is taken to be the cause. Also relevant - although in no way proof - is research identifying physical differences in the brains of adult straight and gay people, and a dizzying array of homosexual behaviour in animals.

But since gay and lesbian people have fewer children than straight people, a problem arises.

"This is a paradox from an evolutionary perspective," says Paul Vasey from the University of Lethbridge in Canada. "How can a trait like male homosexuality, which has a genetic component, persist over evolutionary time if the individuals that carry the genes associated with that trait are not reproducing?"

Scientists don't know the answer to this Darwinian puzzle, but there are several theories. It's possible that different mechanisms may be at work in different people. Most of the theories relate to research on male homosexuality. The evolution of lesbianism is relatively understudied - it may work in a similar way or be completely different.

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The Third Wave of AI – Becoming Human

The Third Wave of AI – Becoming Human | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it

Over the decades, combinations of various programming techniques have enabled slow spotty progress in AI — punctuated by occasional breakthroughs such as certain expert, decision and planning systems, and mastering Chess and Jeopardy! These approaches, and in particular those focused on symbolic representations, are generally referred to as GOFAI (Good Old-Fashioned AI). Importantly, a key characteristic that they share is that applications are hand-crafted and custom engineered: Programmers figure out how to solve a particular problem, then turning their insights into code. This essentially represents the ‘First Wave’.


Via Spaceweaver
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Spaceweaver's curator insight, October 7, 8:26 AM
Very informative and clear article. Worth reading.
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'It's able to create knowledge itself': Google unveils AI that learns on its own

'It's able to create knowledge itself': Google unveils AI that learns on its own | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Google’s artificial intelligence group, DeepMind, has unveiled the latest incarnation of its Go-playing program, AlphaGo – an AI so powerful that it derived thousands of years of human knowledge of the game before inventing better moves of its own, all in the space of three days.

Named AlphaGo Zero, the AI program has been hailed as a major advance because it mastered the ancient Chinese board game from scratch, and with no human help beyond being told the rules. In games against the 2015 version, which famously beat Lee Sedol, the South Korean grandmaster, AlphaGo Zero won 100 to 0.

The feat marks a milestone on the road to general-purpose AIs that can do more than thrash humans at board games. Because AlphaGo Zero learns on its own from a blank slate, its talents can now be turned to a host of real-world problems.

At DeepMind, which is based in London, AlphaGo Zero is working out how proteins fold, a massive scientific challenge that could give drug discovery a sorely needed shot in the arm.
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Can we teach robots ethics?

Can we teach robots ethics? | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
We are not used to the idea of machines making ethical decisions, but the day when they will routinely do this - by themselves - is fast approaching. So how, asks the BBC's David Edmonds, will we teach them to do the right thing?

The car arrives at your home bang on schedule at 8am to take you to work. You climb into the back seat and remove your electronic reading device from your briefcase to scan the news. There has never been trouble on the journey before: there's usually little congestion. But today something unusual and terrible occurs: two children, wrestling playfully on a grassy bank, roll on to the road in front of you. There's no time to brake. But if the car skidded to the left it would hit an oncoming motorbike.

Neither outcome is good, but which is least bad?

The year is 2027, and there's something else you should know. The car has no driver.
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Study shows North Atlantic wind farms could power the whole world

Wind is one of the cleanest energy sources available, and the US is sitting next to a gold mine. A new study has found that wind speeds over the oceans could allow offshore turbines to generate far more energy than a land-based wind farm – with the North Atlantic, in particular, theoretically able to provide enough energy for all of human civilization.

In tapping into wind as an energy source, the US has for decades lagged behind Europe and UK, which are home to the largest offshore wind farms in the world, including the London Array and the Netherlands' Gemini wind farm. But the US is catching up: the country's first facility opened up off the coast of Rhode Island last year, and if the Trident Winds project goes ahead, it could snatch up the title of world's largest wind farm.

In addition to being safer to bird life and less disruptive to humans, the main advantage of setting up wind farms offshore is the fact that the wind speeds are higher out there. In theory, those speeds mean there's five times as much energy blowing around over water than there is over land, but whether that would translate to electricity production gains was another question. Researchers from Carnegie Science set out to find the answer.
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Controlled by a synthetic gene circuit, self-assembling bacteria build working electronic sensors | KurzweilAI

Using a synthetic gene circuit, Duke University researchers have programmed self-assembling bacteria to build useful electronic devices — a first.

Other experiments have successfully grown materials using bacterial processes (for example, MIT engineers have coaxed bacterial cells to produce biofilms that can incorporate nonliving materials, such as gold nanoparticles and quantum dots). However, they have relied entirely on external control over where the bacteria grow and they have been limited to two dimensions.

In the new study, the researchers demonstrated the production of a composite structure by programming the cells themselves and controlling their access to nutrients, but still leaving the bacteria free to grow in three dimensions.*
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This ICO for an AI blockchain is the most tech-hype idea of the year

This ICO for an AI blockchain is the most tech-hype idea of the year | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
We might have just hit Peak 2017 Buzzword: a startup is about to launch an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) to fund a blockchain-based network of Artificial Intelligences (AI), called SingularityNET.

Its goal — as the venture’s Kurzweilian name sort of gives away — is fostering the emergence of human-level artificial intelligence on a decentralised, open-source platform, spoiling the game for governments and technology colossuses striving to conjure up general AI in their secretive data centres.

The driving force behind the project is Ben Goertzel, a Hong Kong-based AI researcher and Chief Scientist of Hanson Robotics, a company specialised in building humanoid robots — such as eerie talking head Sophia. Over the last few years, Goertzel has grown wary of the concentration of AI power in the hands of a few Silicon Valley giants.

“I don’t think that what’s happening—with a few companies essentially owning AI, hiring every AI researcher, and buying every AI startup— is best for humanity,” he says. “It means that eventually human-level AI will come from these big corporations.”
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The science behind why some people love animals and others couldn't care less

The recent popularity of “designer” dogs, cats, micro-pigs and other pets may seem to suggest that pet keeping is no more than a fad. Indeed, it is often assumed that pets are a Western affectation, a weird relic of the working animals kept by communities of the past.

About half of the households in Britain alone include some kind of pet; roughly 10m of those are dogs while cats make up another 10m. Pets cost time and money, and nowadays bring little in the way of material benefits. But during the 2008 financial crisis, spending on pets remained almost unaffected, which suggests that for most owners pets are not a luxury but an integral and deeply loved part of the family.

Some people are into pets, however, while others simply aren’t interested. Why is this the case? It is highly probable that our desire for the company of animals actually goes back tens of thousands of years and has played an important part in our evolution. If so, then genetics might help explain why a love of animals is something some people just don’t get.
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You can catch your friend's mood, but not depression - Futurity

You can catch your friend's mood, but not depression - Futurity | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
New research suggests we can “pick up” good and bad moods from friends, but not depression.

The findings, published the journal Royal Society Open Science, imply that mood does spread over friendship networks, as do various different symptoms of depression such as helplessness and loss of interest. However the effect from lower or worse mood friends was not strong enough to push the other friends into depression.

The researchers examined data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, which incorporates the moods and friendship networks of US adolescents in schools.

Using mathematical modeling, they found that having more friends who suffer worse moods is associated with a higher probability of an individual experiencing low moods and a decreased probability of improving. They found the opposite applied to adolescents who had a more positive social circle.

“We investigated whether there is evidence for the individual components of mood (such as appetite, tiredness, and sleep) spreading through US adolescent friendship networks while adjusting for confounding by modeling the transition probabilities of changing mood state over time,” says public health statistics researcher Rob Eyre of the University of Warwick, who led the study.

“Evidence suggests mood may spread from person to person via a process known as social contagion.
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cranecounselor's comment, September 22, 11:02 PM
good
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Teenagers Are Avoiding Sex, Alcohol, And Driving Like Never Before, Says New Study

Teenagers Are Avoiding Sex, Alcohol, And Driving Like Never Before, Says New Study | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Today's teenagers don't seem to care much about hitting the open road, scoring a six-pack with a fake ID, or asking their peers out on dates.

According to a recent study from psychologists Jean Twenge and Heejung Park, teenagers instead prefer to sit at home, say no to drugs and alcohol, and scroll through a litany of social media apps.

The study, published in the journal Child Development, analysed survey responses from 8.3 million teenagers given between 1976 and 2016. Overwhelmingly, today's teens were found to be less likely to drive, work for pay, go on dates, have sex, or go out without their parents.

"This isn't just about parenting," Twenge told Business Insider. "It's also about teens themselves and the economy and fertility rates and people living longer."

Of course, since the study's conclusions are based on personal survey responses, the findings may not apply broadly to all of Gen Z. There are also bound to be members of the generation for whom the traits don't apply, as with any demographic study.

But Twenge chalked the findings up to an overall shift in the way society has operated. She is the author of iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy - and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood.

The book explores the conditions in which today's youth are being raised. Contrary to popular belief, Twenge said, teens aren't lazy or square - they're a product of their environment like every other generation.

In the mid-20th-century, she said, people adopted what evolutionary psychologists call a "fast-life strategy." Lifespans were shorter, work was more imperative, and so kids grew up relatively quickly without as much supervision from their parents.
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Bobbi Dunham's curator insight, September 21, 9:40 AM
Personally, not a believer of the 'me-first 'millennial story. All generations are different dependent on their environment. None are better or worse than the other.
Keith Ramos's curator insight, September 24, 7:57 PM
Teenagers in the 21st century are being raised more likely to not have sex, drink alcohol, and driving due to the conditions they are being raised in. This is based on a study conducted over 40 years (1976-2016) by psychologists Jean Twenge and Heejung Park. This has to due with parenting and their lifestyles which are immersed in electronic devices, and things such as social media. This also has a lot to due with the fact that people now live longer as well as fertiltity rates amongst young people are lower than before. In other words kids are being raised to stay kids, rather than independent more than ever before. To a certain extent this can be positive because it is keeping kids safe and out of trouble, but it is also negative because it causing kids to live more solitary indoor lives which can raise other health concerns as well. Regardless of the possibilities these new trends amongst teens are the effect of the changing time and as time advances they will continue to fluctuate. 

R- The source's status suggests reliability because it is citing a credible study which has been documented since the 1970's and its findings are based on personal survey responses.

A- The source is in a position to know what they are talking about because not only are these effects evident in the real world, but the observations are based on a well-known study that was published in a journal called 'Child Development' which makes it reputable.

V- The source doesn't appear to have any vested interests and it seems as if its sole purpose is to inform the reader.

E- The source did interview the Psychologists who conducted the study (Jean Twenge/Heejung Park) and asks them how they came to these conclusions. In my opinion, the matter does require expertise because it is based on an issue that has to be analyzed by specialists in the field of child development over time.

N- The source does not demonstrate any sort of bias or hints at a vested interests and remains relatively neutral throughout. 
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Automatica – Robots that play drums, guitar and turntables and destroy a warehouse

Humans are constantly fascinated by music-playing robots. There is something profoundly compelling about watching a mechanical being imitate the art and skill of playing a musical instrument. The latest crazy robot musical symphony comes in Automatica – a project that enlists several industrial robots to form a giant mechanical orchestra, with amazing and destructive results.The project is the brainchild of engineer-artist-and all around musical mad scientist, Nigel Stanford. You may remember Stanford from an incredible video called Cymatics, released two years ago, which highlighted how sound can affect matter in some genuinely spectacular ways. His latest project, which you can view below, repurposes several industrial robots into a 21st century bot band.


the video is a must watch



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This trend means men now more likely to 'marry up' - Futurity

This trend means men now more likely to 'marry up' - Futurity | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
As the number of highly educated women has gone up, the chances of “marrying up” have increased significantly for men and decreased for women, according to a new study.

“The pattern of marriage and its economic consequences have changed over time,” says lead author ChangHwan Kim, associate professor of sociology at the University of Kansas. “Now women are more likely to get married to a less-educated man. What is the consequence of this?”

Kim and coauthor Arthur Sakamoto of Texas A&M University report their work in the journal Demography. They examined gender-specific changes in the total financial return to education among people of prime working ages, 35 to 44 years old, using US Census data from 1990 and 2000 and the 2009-2011 American Community Survey.

The researchers investigated the return to education not only in labor markets but also in the marriage market.

“Previously, women received more total financial return to education than men, because their return in the marriage market was high. However, this female advantage has deteriorated over time despite women’s substantial progress in education and labor-market performance,” Kim says.
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Capitalism isn't broken – but it does need a rewrite

Capitalism isn't broken – but it does need a rewrite | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
In the 1990s, economists indulged heady hopes that globalisation would raise all boats via unfettered free market activity. Now, but a generation later, many are having second thoughts. That’s because global free markets, while indeed maximising GDP for all concerned, have also ushered in staggering rates of inequality together with a looming threat of irreversible climate change from increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Some scholars are going so far as to blame capitalism itself. James Hickel argues that “there’s something fundamentally flawed about a system that has a prime directive to churn nature and humans into capital, and do it more and more each year, regardless of the costs to human well-being and to the environment we depend on”. But what should come in its place is anyone’s guess. Capitalism is the culprit and there’s an angry band of revolutionaries ready to ditch the idea in favour of something entirely new — starting with granting inalienable rights to nature itself, as Hickel himself suggests.

While certain reforms may sound refreshing, we might not want to reach for such desperate measures as dismantling an economic system that has managed to bring us unprecedented access to cutting-edge technology, information, and medicine at eminently affordable prices. Besides, capitalism at its root isn’t so much about greed as basic self-interest. And each of us is self-interested to some degree. This is a fact of biology we ignore at our peril.
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"Economics Nobel Prize" Winners Are Advocating For Universal Basic Income

"Economics Nobel Prize" Winners Are Advocating For Universal Basic Income | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Up until very recently, most people had not heard of universal basic income (UBI). While the idea itself isn't entirely new, its significance has been explored lately because of job displacement fears intelligent automation is expected to bring with it.

As such, UBI has been endorsed by experts from various industries, including some of the Silicon Valley's bigwigs. Now, some of the world's top economists are backing it up, too.

Speaking at a panel discussion at the 6th Lindau meeting on economic sciences back in June, winners of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel - more commonly known as the "economics Nobel prize" - endorsed UBI as a solution to the inequality brought by globalisation and automation.

"We should not try to deal with inequality by stopping these global processes, because these have the capacity to bring more prosperity to the world," Sir Chris Pissarides said.

"We should welcome expansion of trade and the opening up of India and Africa, and improve R&D to bring robotics into production. After all, if there aren't enough jobs for us all to do, we can take more leisure."

"We are ageing, so we can feel comfortable that machines will do more of the work that human beings currently do."

Simply put, a UBI program allows people to receive a fixed income regardless of circumstances - employment, social status, etc.

Aside from potentially helping people cope with automation, those who favour UBI also see it as an alternative to today's social welfare programs. Others who are skeptical of it often point out how it could make people lazy and reluctant to find proper employment.
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Jose Luis Yañez's curator insight, September 3, 2:42 PM
"Economics Nobel Prize" Winners Are Advocating For Universal Basic Income
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A former Google design ethicist fights against what he sees as mass manipulation by social media

A former Google design ethicist fights against what he sees as mass manipulation by social media | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
If, like an ever-growing majority of people in the U.S., you own a smartphone, you might have the sense that apps in the age of the pocket-sized computer are designed to keep your attention as long as possible. You might not have the sense that they’re manipulating you one tap, swipe, or notification at a time.

But Tristan Harris thinks that’s just what’s happening to the billions of us who use social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, and he’s on a mission to steer us toward potential solutions—or at least to get us to acknowledge that this manipulation is, in fact, going on.

Harris, formerly a product manager turned design ethicist at Google, runs a nonprofit called Time Well Spent, which focuses on the addictive nature of technology and how apps could be better designed; it pursues public advocacy and supports design standards that take into account what’s good for people’s lives, rather than just seeking to maximize screen time. He says he’s moving away from Time Well Spent these days (his new effort is as yet unnamed), trying to hold the tech industry accountable for the way it persuades us to spend as much time as possible online, with tactics ranging from Snapchat’s snapstreaks to auto-playing videos on sites like YouTube and Facebook.
“It’s so invisible what we’re doing to ourselves,” he says. “It’s like a public health crisis. It’s like cigarettes, except because we’re given so many benefits, people can’t actually see and admit the erosion of human thought that’s occurring at the same time.”
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Andres Gomez's curator insight, October 20, 2:31 AM
Nowadays the use of technology is one the principals factor of problems and accidents around the world because many people do not use it in a good way or just think about this type of instruments such as way to know new people no more
Félix Santamaria's curator insight, October 20, 8:41 AM
Smartphones Are Weapons of Mass Manipulation...
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Funny people are more intelligent than their po-faced peers

Albert Einstein attributed his brilliant mind to having a child-like sense of humour. Indeed, a number of studies have found an association between humour and intelligence.

Researchers in Austria recently discovered that funny people, particularly those who enjoy dark humour, have higher IQs than their less funny peers. They argue that it takes both cognitive and emotional ability to process and produce humour. Their analysis shows that funny people have higher verbal and non-verbal intelligence, and they score lower in mood disturbance and aggressiveness.

Not only are funny people smart, they’re nice to be around. Evidence suggests that having a good sense of humour is linked to high emotional intelligence and is a highly desirable quality in a partner. Evolutionary psychologists describe humour as a “heritable trait” that signals mental fitness and intellectual agility to prospective mates. In studies of attractiveness, both men and women rate funny people as more attractive, and cite having a good sense of humour as being one of the most important traits in a long-term partner.

In psychology we use the term “positive humour style” to refer to people who use humour to enhance relationships and reduce conflict. This type of humour is associated with relationship satisfaction, extroversion and high self-esteem Having a humorous outlook on life is also a good coping strategy. It helps people better manage stress and adversity.

More negative humour styles, such as sarcasm, ridicule and self-defeating humour, do not offer the same benefits. Instead, they tend to alienate people and are more often associated with depressed mood and aggression.

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Can You Be Hacked by the World Around You?

Can You Be Hacked by the World Around You? | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
You’ve probably been told it’s dangerous to open unexpected attachment files in your email—just like you shouldn’t open suspicious packages in your mailbox. But have you been warned against scanning unknown QR codes or just taking a picture with your phone? New research suggests that cyberattackers could exploit cameras and sensors in phones and other devices.

As someone who researches 3D modeling, including assessing 3D printed objects to be sure they meet quality standards, I’m aware of being vulnerable to methods of storing malicious computer code in the physical world. Our group’s work is in the laboratory and has not yet encountered malware hidden in 3D printing instructions or encoded in the structure of an item being scanned. But we’re preparing for that possibility.

At the moment, it’s not very likely for us: An attacker would need very specialized knowledge about our system’s functions to succeed in attacking it. But the day is coming when intrusions can happen through normal communications with or sensing performed by a computer or smartphone. Product designers and users alike need to be aware of the risks.
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rinkeyrozario's curator insight, October 14, 3:06 AM

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Optical fiber delivers light into body then biodegrades - Futurity

Optical fiber delivers light into body then biodegrades - Futurity | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
A new flexible, biodegradable polymer fiber may make it easier to deliver light into the body, which typically requires the implantation of an optical fiber made of glass.

The ability to deliver light into the body is important for laser surgery, drug activation, optical imaging, diagnosis of disease, and in optogenetics, the experimental field in which light manipulates the function of neurons in the brain.

“The problem is that visible light can only penetrate to a certain depth, maybe hundreds of microns,” says Jian Yang, professor of biomedical engineering at Penn State. “Near infrared light might be able to penetrate a few millimeters to a centimeter, but that is not enough to see what is going on.”

Currently, people use glass fiber to get light into biological tissue at depth, but glass is brittle and isn’t biodegradable. It can also break and damage tissue if implanted.
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Why Facebook Is the Junk Food of Socializing - Facts So Romantic - Nautilus

Why Facebook Is the Junk Food of Socializing - Facts So Romantic - Nautilus | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Have you ever been walking in a dark alley and seen something that you thought was a crouching person, but it turned out to be a garbage bag or something similarly innocuous? Me too.

Have you ever seen a person crouching in a dark alley and mistaken it for a garbage bag? Me neither. Why does the error go one way and not the other?
Human beings are intensely social animals. We live in hierarchical social environments in which our comfort, reproduction, and very survival depend on our relationships with other people. As a result, we are very good at thinking about things in social ways. In fact, some scientists have argued that the evolutionary arms race for strategic social thinking—either for competition, for cooperation, or both—was a large part of why we became so intelligent as a species.This affinity for social reasoning, however, has resulted in systematic quirks in human reasoning about the non-human. This happens in two ways. First, we tend to see humanlike agency where there isn’t any, a common form of pareidolia. Many people view the sun as happy, for instance, and in religions the world over, diseases are seen as curses cast by witches. This effect has been argued to be one of the main reasons religions exist at all: People imagine that there must be supernatural beings behind the scenes, making the world work the way it does.1 Second, we are more prone to believe in explanations when they are couched in terms of the everyday psychology people use to explain and predict people’s behavior. Teachers sometimes take advantage of this, using “anthropomorphic” glosses on natural phenomena to help their students learn (e.g., “the water wants to find its level.”)
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Does self-marriage challenge romantic ideals or just cave to them? – Polina Aronson | Aeon Essays

Does self-marriage challenge romantic ideals or just cave to them? – Polina Aronson | Aeon Essays | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
This summer I got married for the second time. Unlike my first wedding, in a town hall 11 years ago, this one was strictly informal. The ceremony took place at the Karaoke Pit in Berlin’s Mauerpark, a dilapidated concrete amphitheatre in the middle of the former no-man’s land between East and West Berlin. There were some 500 guests in attendance, most of whom I’d never met before and would never see again. My dress was black and I kept my sunglasses on. There were no bridesmaids, no public registrar, let alone a priest or rabbi, and no papers were issued at the end. Moreover, there was no bridegroom: I was, as it happened, getting married to my own self – with my husband and our two children watching from the front row.

I formalised my vows with karaoke, offering a musical and performative statement of intent in front of the assembled (and mostly unwitting) witnesses. This improbable 4.5-minute ceremony was the way I capped off a 10-week online course on self-marriage, which I took this spring. I was motivated three-quarters by what C W Mills in 1959 called the ‘sociological imagination’ – the capacity to discern the link between our everyday experience and wider society – and one-quarter by unbridled curiosity about the intricate workings of modern love.
‘Sologamy’ is the latest relationship trend not only in Europe and the United States but also Japan. A budding industry of self-marriages promises to make us happier by celebrating commitment to the only person in this world truly worthy of a relationship investment: our precious self. A variety of coaches worldwide offer self-marriage courses, including guidance through preparatory steps (such as writing love poems and composing vows) and orchestration of the ceremony itself.
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Researchers Have Developed Microchips That Behave Like Brain Cells

Researchers Have Developed Microchips That Behave Like Brain Cells | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
The human brain is used as a comparison for how computer's function. But, honestly, computers are nothing like human brains. Not yet, at least.

That could change as researchers have developed computing technology that uses light to mimic the functionality of a nerve's synapse, opening the way for hardware that combines the speed of modern processors with the efficiency of brainpower.

Brains and computers are both systems that can model, manipulate, and store information. From there, they don't tend to have all that much in common.

While processors in computers combine electrical impulses with tiny on-off switches to perform functions, neurons use chemical tides to distribute impulses across multiple channels called synapses.

The difference is significant as far as memory and power consumption go – no hardware can come close to the efficiency and storage capabilities of a human brain.

Not that our grey matter is an all-star performer; those waves of electrolytes and neurotransmitters can't beat the speed of electrons zipping through logic gates.

A team of researchers from Oxford, Münster and Exeter Universities has nailed what it sees as a "holy grail" of computing, creating a photonic integrated circuit that acts like a synapse.

"The development of computers that work more like the human brain has been a holy grail of scientists for decades," says senior researcher Harish Bhaskaran from the University of Oxford.
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Scientists remove one of the final barriers to making lifelike robots | KurzweilAI

Scientists remove one of the final barriers to making lifelike robots | KurzweilAI | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Researchers at the Columbia Engineering Creative Machines lab have developed a 3D-printable, synthetic soft muscle that can mimic natural biological systems, lifting 1000 times its own weight. The artificial muscle is three times stronger than natural muscle and can push, pull, bend, twist, and lift weight — no external devices required.

Existing soft-actuator technologies are typically based on bulky pneumatic or hydraulic inflation of elastomer skins that expand when air or liquid is supplied to them, which require external compressors and pressure-regulating equipment.

“We’ve been making great strides toward making robot minds, but robot bodies are still primitive,” said Hod Lipson, PhD, a professor of mechanical engineering. “This is a big piece of the puzzle and, like biology, the new actuator can be shaped and reshaped a thousand ways. We’ve overcome one of the final barriers to making lifelike robots.”

The research findings are described in an open-access study published Tuesday Sept. 19, 2017 by Nature Communications.

Replicating natural motion

Inspired by living organisms, soft-material robotics hold promise for areas where robots need to contact and interact with humans, such as manufacturing and healthcare. Unlike rigid robots, soft robots can replicate natural motion — grasping and manipulation — to provide medical and other types of assistance, perform delicate tasks, or pick up soft objects.
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It's now tougher (and more expensive) to find big ideas - Futurity

It's now tougher (and more expensive) to find big ideas - Futurity | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Big ideas are getting harder and harder to find, and innovations have become increasingly massive and costly endeavors, according to new research.

As a result, tremendous continual increases in research and development will be needed to sustain even today’s low rate of economic growth.

This means modern-day inventors—even those in the league of Steve Jobs—will have a tough time measuring up to the productivity of the Thomas Edisons of the past.

Nicholas Bloom, senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and coauthor of a paper released this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, contends that so many game-changing inventions have appeared since World War II that it’s become increasingly difficult to come up with the next big idea.

“The thought now of somebody inventing something as revolutionary as the locomotive on their own is inconceivable,” Bloom says.

“It’s certainly true if you go back one or two hundred years, like when Edison invented the light bulb,” he says. “It’s a massive piece of technology and one guy basically invented it. But while we think of Steve Jobs and the iPhone, it was a team of dozens of people who created the iPhone.”
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Here's a List of 100 Words Scientists Really Want You to Stop Misusing

Here's a List of 100 Words Scientists Really Want You to Stop Misusing | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Without language, things between humans would get pretty confusing pretty fast. And even though the ways we communicate can be super-flexible, it's best to make sure we actually know what the words we're using really mean.

This becomes all the more important when we try to understand science, where words often take on highly specialised meanings. And that's why a team of researchers just published a master list of terms they would like everybody to stop getting wrong.

"In psychology, many terms are confused not only by new students but also by advanced students, psychology instructors, and science journalists," says one of the researchers, Scott Lilienfeld from Emory University.

This new work is actually a sequel to a paper Lilienfeld and colleagues published last year, in which they collected a list of the most "inaccurate, misleading, misused, ambiguous, and logically confused words and phrases in psychology, genetics, and science in general."

Now the team has compiled a new list of 50 pairs of words that mean completely different things, yet often get confused with each other.

We should all pay attention here, because such confusion affects not just the field of psychological science, but can impede and even harm public understanding of concepts we encounter every day.

For example, antisocial is a common term we use to describe shy, withdrawn people, but that's actually painting them with a much darker brush than they deserve, since antisocial behaviour usually involves being reckless and harming others.

Instead, an introvert who prefers to hang out at home rather than talk to other people is better described as asocial.

There's also psychopath versus sociopath - while psychopathy is a diagnosable personality disorder, sociopathy actually is not.

As the researchers point out, it's a colloquial term that can mean one of several concepts, and is so confusing they say we basically shouldn't use it at all.

The team also takes pains to explain how insanity and incompetence are not the same thing when it comes to legal charges - a person found legally insane in a trial cannot be found guilty of a crime, but if they're deemed incompetent, they can't even face a trial to begin with.

And when it comes to socially and culturally relevant terms, they also provide a clear breakdown of sex vs gender, race vs ethnicity, and the difference between prejudice and discrimination.

Those are just a few examples of the 50 word pairs Lilienfeld and colleagues have highlighted in their new paper.
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Turns Out Our Biases Really Are Stronger Than Our Ability to Perceive Facts

Turns Out Our Biases Really Are Stronger Than Our Ability to Perceive Facts | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
We all like to think that we're rational creatures able to make objective decisions, but our biases may be a lot stronger than we think.

New research has found that humans have an excellent ability to ignore facts that don't fit with our own biases, not just on Facebook where the stakes are pretty low, but even when it can cost us money.

Stefano Palminteri of École Normale Supérieure led a team of researchers from ENS and University College London, which previously reported that humans are biased towards the path of least resistance, even though that can make us depressed later on.

In those situations, people don't seem to be able to perceive intangible future repercussions.

Palminteri's team sought to discover in an experimental environment whether our biases are so strong that we continue to hold onto them even when something tangible is on the line in that moment.

The study involved 20 volunteers performing two variants of a task: choosing between pairs of symbols, each of which had been assigned a points value.

For the first variant of the task, the participants were only told the value of the symbols they chose. Over time, they learned that some symbols were more valuable and developed a bias towards choosing those symbols.

For the second variant, the participants were told the values of both symbols, even though they could only pick one. However, they continued to choose the symbols they had learned to be biased towards in the first part of the experiment, even when they had proof that the other symbol was worth more.

This could be why some people won't change their minds, even when the evidence is staring them in the face.

"It's as if you don't hear the voices in your head telling you that you're wrong, even if you lose money," Paliminteri told New Scientist.
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English's curator insight, September 7, 1:11 AM
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Dr Huey Allen's curator insight, September 8, 9:22 AM

Yes, personal biases do affect leadership decisions!

Jose Luis Yañez's curator insight, September 9, 8:45 PM
Turns Out Our Biases Really Are Stronger Than Our Ability to Perceive Facts
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These are the skills you should learn that will pay off forever

These are the skills you should learn that will pay off forever | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
The further along you are in your career, the easier it is to fall back on the mistaken assumption that you’ve made it and have all the skills you need to succeed. The tendency is to focus all your energy on getting the job done, assuming that the rest will take care of itself. Big mistake.

New research from Stanford tells the story. Carol Dweck and her colleagues conducted a study with people who were struggling with their performance. One group was taught to perform better on a task that they performed poorly in. The other group received a completely different intervention: for the task that they performed badly in, they were taught that they weren’t stuck and that improving their performance was a choice. They discovered that learning produces physiological changes in the brain, just like exercise changes muscles. All they had to do was believe in themselves and make it happen.

When the groups’ performance was reassessed a few months later, the group that was taught to perform the task better did even worse. The group that was taught that they had the power to change their brains and improve their performance themselves improved dramatically.

The primary takeaway from Dweck’s research is that we should never stop learning. The moment we think that we are who we are is the moment we give away our unrealized potential.
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Jose Luis Yañez's curator insight, September 3, 2:39 PM
These are the skills you should learn that will pay off forever