Explainer video - The Nature of Machine Learning

Brit Cruise is the writer and producer of a YouTube series called Art of the Problem. Someone recently recommended it on Cool Tools, and for good reason. The show description: "Each episode presents an ancient problem and follows its journey from prehistoric through modern times. We tell the origin story of modern fields of study." The latest video is called The Art of Machine Learning: "This video explores evolutionary, experiential and abstract learning + communication. Touches on unsupervised learning, supervised learning, reinforcement learning, association learning, genetic algorithms, and language." A lot of good stuff packed into 20 minutes.

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How babies get here

If you only watch one childbirth video in your life, consider this popular one. It’s completely safe for work (and for the faint of heart), featuring ping pong balls and a balloon. I’ve already given birth, and I learned a lot. Read the rest

Charming animated primer on plant communication

Illustrator Yukai Du created this lovely animation of Richard Karban's TED talk on plant communication. Read the rest

Video that explains how to become a dictator

This 20-minute explainer video lays down three rules for becoming a dictator:

1. Get the key supporters on your side.

2. Control the treasure.

3. Minimize key supporters.

The video is based on a book called, The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics

For eighteen years, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith have been part of a team revolutionizing the study of politics by turning conventional wisdom on its head. They start from a single assertion: Leaders do whatever keeps them in power. They don’t care about the “national interest” — or even their subjects—unless they have to. This clever and accessible book shows that the difference between tyrants and democrats is just a convenient fiction. Governments do not differ in kind but only in the number of essential supporters, or backs that need scratching. The size of this group determines almost everything about politics: what leaders can get away with, and the quality of life or misery under them. The picture the authors paint is not pretty. But it just may be the truth, which is a good starting point for anyone seeking to improve human governance.

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