Seminar on Jo Walton's Philosopher Kings novels

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Jo Walton (previously) is one of science fiction's great talents, a writer who blends beautiful insight about human beings and their frailties and failings without ever losing sight of their nobility and aspirations. Read the rest

Marvin Minsky's "Society of Mind," a free course on AI from MIT

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Artificial Intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky died yesterday. He was one of computer science's great pioneers, a brilliant researcher who could translate his insights into material accessible even to laypeople. Read the rest

Majority of UK booze-industry revenues come from problem drinkers

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69% of the alcohol sold in the UK is sold to "harmful," "hazardous" or "increasing risk" drinkers, accounting for more than 60% of the industry's revenues. The number of alcohol-related hospitalisations in the UK has doubled in the past ten years, to more than 1m/year. Read the rest

That time the DoD paid Duke U $335K to investigate ESP in dogs. Yes, dogs.

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Michael from Muckrock writes, "Government research often pushes the boundaries between science and science fiction. Today, the proud bearer of that mantle is often DARPA, experimenting with robots, cybernetics, and more. But in the sixties, during the height of the Cold War, this research often went into more fantastical realms, even exploring whether ExtraSensory Perception (ESP) was possible. Thanks to FOIA, MuckRock looks back on the paranormal history of American surveillance." Read the rest

Research: increased resident participation in city planning produces extreme wealth segregation

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Urban planning advocates like Jane Jacobs argued that people who live in neighborhoods should be active in the planning decisions around their homes. Read the rest

Independent economists: TPP will kill 450,000 US jobs; 75,000 Japanese jobs, 58,000 Canadian jobs

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Proponents of the secretly negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership -- which lets companies force governments to get rid of their labor, environmental and safety rules in confidential tribunals -- say it's all worth it because it will deliver growth and jobs to the stagnant economies of the rich world. Read the rest

Income inequality makes the 1% sad, too

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A study from the notorious socialists at the Harvard Business Review analyzed data from the Gallup World Poll and the World Top Incomes Database and found that in countries with a large degree of wealth inequality, "levels of life satisfaction" go down, and "negative daily emotional experiences" go up, for all populations, including the richest. Read the rest

Your smartwatch knows your ATM and phone PIN

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Because a PIN-pad is so constrained and predictable, the accelerometer in your smartwatch is able to guess with a high degree of confidence (73%) what you enter into it -- it can also serve as a general-purpose keylogger, though with less accuracy (59%), thanks to the complexity of the keyboard. Read the rest

University of Maryland claims sponsor's chocolate milk helps concussion recovery

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The University of Maryland's Maryland Industrial Partnerships program hooks up researchers with businesses: just before Christmas, MIPS sent out a press-release claiming that a local brand of chocolate milk aided in recovery from concussions sustained playing high school football. Read the rest

Why Americans can't stop working: the poor can't afford to, and the rich are enjoying themselves

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Ever since Keynes's seminal 1930 paper Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren predicted that technological progress would virtually eliminate work by making labor much more productive, economists have puzzled over why Americans' working hours have gotten longer and longer, until they are some of the longest in the world. Read the rest

Intel futurist Brian David Johnson heads to ASU's Center for Science and the Imagination

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Brian David Johnson (previously) is the futurist and theorist who used design fiction to help the company think about how its products would work in the future (I wrote him a story about the painful death of passwords). Read the rest

Help wanted: malware researcher for U of T's Citizenlab

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Ronald Deibert from the University of Toronto's Citizenlab (previously) sez, "The Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto has a job posting for a security researcher/malware analyst. Read the rest

Thomas Piketty on Thomas Piketty

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Crooked Timber's fascinating seminar on Thomas Piketty ran all through December, presenting arguments from economists, social scientists and political theorists from around the world on Piketty's seminal Capital in the 21st Century. Read the rest

The medieval origins of mass surveillance

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Many have remarked upon the parallels between Santa's naughty list and mass surveillance, but the idea that a supernatural being is watching your every move and judging you for it is a lot more pervasive than just the Santa story: it's the bedrock of Christianity. Read the rest

The evolution of anti-evolution bills

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In a new paper in Science (paywalled), Nicholas J. Matzke from the National University of Australia demonstrates the evolutionary connection between anti-evolution bills introduced into US state legislatures in a series of iterated attempts to ban or weaken the teaching of evolution by natural selection and to promote Biblical creationism in various guises in its stead. Read the rest

Cops have way more rights than you do

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When you get arrested, what happens next depends on the law and the Constitution, but when a cop arrests their co-worker, what happens next is determined by a cushy contract between the police union and the city that gives suspected crooked law enforcement officers every benefit of the doubt, and lots of ways to walk away free, regardless of the facts. Read the rest

Networked gaming is the new social media, and it's a boys' club

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Earlier this fall, Pew released the results of a new survey documenting how digital networks are key to how teens connect with friends. What was most striking was the gender disparity. Girls socialize via text and social media, and boys tend to connect with friends through video games.

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