The Internet

A paper out of MIT’s Media Lab looks at the consequences of the consolidation of the internet into a few large companies, and at possible efforts to decentralize the Web. Very few people have power over what information is spread online, Chelsea Barabas, Neha Narula, and Ethan Zuckerman write. This creates a risk for censorship online, either via intentional bias or content curation (which may hide information, even if it is technically available). The authors acknowledge it will be difficult to turn the tide, but profile a number of attempts to distribute content without a third-party intermediary such as Facebook.

On Feelings


Feelings: What Are They and How Does the Brain Make Them?


The human mind has two fundamental psychological motifs. Descartes’s proclamation, “I think, therefore I am,”1 illustrates one, while Melville’s statement, “Ahab never thinks, he just feels, feels, feels,” exemplifies the other. Our Rationalist inclinations make us want certainty (objective truth), while the Romantic in us basks in emotional subjectivity. Psychology and neuroscience recognize this distinction: cognition and emotion are the two major categories of mind that researchers study. But things were not always quite like this.

From Nautilus

Project Tuva

English: Photo of the Feynman book section in ...
English: Photo of the Feynman book section in the bookstore at Caltech (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Project Tuva was a collaborative research project with Bill Gates in 2009 demonstrating the potential of interactive video learning by highlighting the “core scientific concepts” of Richard Feynman’s Messenger Lectures Series. Upon release, the first of the seven lectures: The Law of Gravitation – An Example of Physical Law, was brought to life with interactive visualizations, links to searchable transcripts, integrated note taking capabilities and other features. The Silverlight application was retired in 2016, but the Richard Feynman videos are still available below.  Learn more.

Feynman (center) with Robert Oppenheimer (righ...
Feynman (center) with Robert Oppenheimer (right) relaxing at a Los Alamos social function during the Manhattan Project (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More here.

Saturday Fun!

Bob posted this puzzle many years ago (and I remember it from logic class):

Suppose the letters and numbers below are on separate cards. The cards have a number on one side and a letter on the other, and someone tells you: “If a card has a vowel on one side, then it has an even number on the other side.”

Which of the cards would you need to turn over in order to decide whether the person is lying?

E K 4 7

Politics is about self interest

Source: Politics is about self interest

In their book, The Hidden Agenda of the Political Mind: How Self-Interest Shapes Our Opinions and Why We Won’t Admit ItJason Weeden and Robert Kurzban argue self interest figures heavily into our political positions.

This isn’t something we generally do consciously.  Citing psychology research that shows we often don’t understand our own motivations, they argue that our unconscious mind settles on stances that reflect our inclusive personal interests, with “inclusive” meaning that it includes the interests of our friends and family.