Microbial reactors can turn human waste directly into food. Disgusting, yes, but may be essential for space travel.
from way back in November 1953: Visual Patterns in the Recognition of Individuals Among Chickens. Basically, the experiment involved changing chickens’ appearances — color, shape of the head and neck, comb — and seeing how the flock would or would not recognize them when they were returned.
Silly and fascinating at the same time.
A review of Antonio Damasio’s The Strange Order of Things. To wit: the mind is more than just the brain.
LEGO celebrates 60 years with a giant red brick in New York. Plus, some interesting LEGO facts.
Der Spiegel on what’s next for Syria, after Assad’s ‘victory’.
Dr. Todd Kashdan has proposed a five-dimensional curiosity scale. I now tend to view these classifications in the same vein as women’s magazines personality tests (no offense to women): fun but with little bearing on actual personalities. But, well, they’re fun.
I claim to be “joyous explorer”, okay?
George Soros was in Davos, and he had some stinging criticism of social media companies.
As these huge companies have come to dominate the Internet, “they have caused a variety of problems of which we are only now beginning to become aware,” he explained.
“They claim they are merely distributing information. But the fact that they are near-monopoly distributors makes them public utilities, and should subject them to more stringent regulations, aimed at preserving competition, innovation, and fair and open universal access.”
In economic terms, Soros suggested, the tech giants were making excessive profits and stifling innovation. And their behavior was also causing larger social and political problems.
Social-media companies “deliberately engineer addiction to the services they provide,” he noted. “This can be very harmful, particularly for adolescents.” In this sense, tech companies were similar to casinos that “have developed techniques to hook gamblers to the point where they gamble away all their money, even money they don’t have.”
It wasn’t merely a matter of “distraction” or “addiction,” Soros went on. Social-media companies “are inducing people to give up their autonomy. . . . It takes a real effort to assert and defend what John Stuart Mill called ‘the freedom of mind.’ There is a possibility that, once lost, people who grow up in the digital age will have difficulty in regaining it. This may have far-reaching political consequences. People without the freedom of mind can be easily manipulated.”
From MIT Technology Review: algorithms are making American inequality worse. My takeaway from this piece is not that it is the algorithms themselves but the thought processes behind them. Algorithms simply optimize the achievement of the goals you set out for. Based on unfair and unjust starting premises, algorithms just make the injustice more efficient.