After hundreds of hours of work filming, editing, translating and transcribing (mostly by Vat), the video documenting learning Spanish in 11-weeks is finally ready. We wanted to try to capture both the progress of learning a language, as well as the experience of living in Spain.
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If you’re the sort of person who reads this blog, you may have heard that 23andMe—the company that (until recently) let anyone spit into a capsule, send it away to a DNA lab, and then learn basic information about their ancestry, disease risks, etc.—has suspended much of its service, on orders from the US Food and Drug Administration. As I understand it, on Nov. 25, the FDA ordered 23andMe to stop marketing to new customers (though it can still serve existing customers), and on Dec. 5, the company stopped offering new health-related information to any customers (though you can still access the health information you had before).
Of course, the impact of these developments is broader: within a couple weeks, “do-it-yourself genomics” has gone from an industry whose explosive growth lots of commentators took as a given, to one whose future looks severely in doubt (at least in the US).
The FDA gave the reasons for its order in a letter to Ann Wojcicki, 23andMe’s CEO. Excerpts:
For instance, if the ...
Jupiter Ascending is a new film in production by Lana and Andy Wachowski, a science fiction space opera, that seemingly also includes some transhumanist elements. The trailer looks pretty great.
Release Date: July 25, 2014 (3D/2D theaters and IMAX 3D)
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis star.
“Jupiter Jones (Kunis) was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning other people’s houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine (Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along—her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.”
MEASURING THE BENEFITS OF CHANGING DEFAULT PRINTER SETTINGS
Here’s a no-brainer application of benevolent defaults that has a provable, lasting change in paper consumption.
Johan Egebark (Stockholm University) & Mathias Ekström (Norwegian School of Economics)
We test whether people’s tendency to stick with the default option can help save resources. In a natural field experiment we switch printers’ default settings, from simplex to duplex printing, at a large Swedish university. The results confirm that roughly one third of all printing is determined by the default alternative, and hence daily paper consumption drops by 15 percent due to the change. The effect is immediate, lasts throughout the experimental period, and remains intact after six months. We also investigate how the more conventional method of encouraging people to save resources performs, and find it has no impact. Recent theoretical and empirical contributions indicate that the default effect works through recommendation, depends positively on the number of alternatives in the choice set, and is reinforced for difficult decisions ...
‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ ~Nelson Mandela
On Saturday, I did what I thought I couldn’t do.
I ran a 50-mile ultramarathon.
Now, I’m certainly not the first to run a race like this — thousands of other stronger, tougher runners have done it. I’m not even one of the faster ones to run this kind of race — I was so slow I almost didn’t make the official cutoff time.
So I don’t take any special credit for running the race. If anything, most of the credit belongs to my friend Scott Dinsmore, who encouraged me to run it and then played a huge role in getting me to the finish.
But I am proud of running the 50-miler. Because it showed me that my limitations aren’t what I thought they were. And it was a way for me to teach my kids the same thing about themselves, through my example.
There’s a lot to say about the race, which started at 5 ...
Influential political theorist and philosopher Roberto Mangabeira Unger asks: where have both the free market right and the social democratic left gone wrong...
|Time: 25:52||More in Nonprofits & Activism|
A while ago I wrote a post about the incredible value of seeking criticism. Today, someone asked me how we should decide when to seek criticism. Or, as he put it, when should we expect other people to have a better understanding of us than we ourselves do?
Here are some rules of thumb. It’s generally a good idea to seek criticism from others when:
→ Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
One of the biggest barriers to starting a small business is not having enough money in the bank to pay for what you need. And who’s going to lend you money, right?
But if you apply a little creativity to the problem, you’ll see that you don’t need investors or small business loans to get your business started.
Maybe you paint. You already have canvases and paints, right? Maybe you write fiction. Got a pen and paper or a laptop? Of course you do. Perhaps you design clothing. I bet you have a sewing machine and a spare room full of fabric. Make jewelry? Sculpt tree trunks? Your supplies are already around you. Get into the habit of thinking about your hobby as a business and everything around you as resources.
Internationally renowned historical costumer, Mathew Gnagy of The Modern Maker, recently told me his story: “I was suddenly out of work after 9-11 and needed to think fast to earn an income. So ...
I want to summarize what I’ve learned about how to sleep well. I’ve found about a dozen changes that helped. Taken together they suggest the importance of four dimensions:
1. Healthy brain. My sleep greatly improved when I ate a lot of pork fat. (As far as I can tell, butter produced the same effect.) I wasn’t getting enough animal fat. My sleep also improved when I started eating honey at bedtime. I assume honey raised blood sugar to better levels during sleep, improving brain performance. The great importance of this, I believe, is why we evolved preferences that push us to eat strongly sweet foods, such as fruit, separately and later, i.e., dessert. Bedtime honey also caused my muscles to grow more in response to exercise — a sign of better sleep, since muscles grow during sleep. I have never measured the effect of flaxseed/flaxseed oil on my sleep but the brain benefit was so clear in other ways I’d be surprised if it didn’t improve sleep.
There’s a new breed of models out there nowadays that reads your face for subtle expressions of emotions, possibly stuff that normal humans cannot pick up on. You can read more about it here, but suffice it to say it’s a perfect target for computers – something that is free information, that can be trained over many many examples, and then deployed everywhere and anywhere, even without our knowledge since surveillance cameras are so ubiquitous.
Plus, there are new studies that show that, whether you’re aware of it or not, a certain “gut feeling”, which researchers can get at by asking a few questions, will expose whether your marriage is likely to work out.
Let’s put these two together. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to imagine that surveillance cameras strategically placed at an altar can now make predictions on the length and strength of a marriage.
I guess it brings up the following question: is there some information we are better off not knowing ...
Scientists from Case Western Reserve University and University of Kansas Medical Center have restored behavior — in this case, the ability to reach through a narrow opening and grasp food — using a neural prosthesis in a brain-injured rat.
Ultimately, the team hopes to develop a device that rapidly and substantially improves function after brain injury in humans.
There is no such commercial treatment for the 1.5 million Americans, including soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, who suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBI), or the nearly 800,000 stroke victims who suffer weakness or paralysis in the U.S. annually.
A ‘brain-machine-brain interface’
The prosthesis, called a brain-machine-brain interface (BMBI), is a closed-loop microelectronic system. It records signals from one part of the brain, processes them in real time, and then bridges the injury by stimulating a second part of the brain that had lost connectivity.
Their work is published online this week in the science journal Proceedings of the ...
Guest post today. As you may know, I created a Clashtag (#m3250) for my consumer behavior course and required the undergraduate students to use it. I recently gave them a “reflection” assignment:
Think about your experience on Twitter this semester and consider how it relates to creating and communicating value (i.e., good marketing). Your task consists of three parts:
1) Find a tweet that led you to learn something that you would not have otherwise learned if you were not a Twitter user. In other words, present and analyze a tweet that illustrates how Twitter creates value to you.
2) Find a tweet that communicates how a brand provides value. In other words, present and analyze a tweet that illustrates how a brand communicates its value.
3) Find a tweet that enhances your professional brand. In other words, present and analyze a tweet that illustrates how you communicate your value to others.
I told the class that I would publish the best response on my blog. Congratulate Angel Lam. She beat out some great ...
In “The Basic AI Drives” Steve Omohundro has argued there is scope for predicting the goals of post-singularity entities able to modify their own software and hardware to improve their intellects. For example, systems that can alter their software or physical structure would have an incentive to make modifications that would help them achieve their goals more effectively as have humans have done over historical time. A concomitant of this, he argues, is that such beings would want to ensure that such improvements do not threaten their current goals:
I think this assumption of ethical self-transparency is interestingly problematic. Here’s why:
Omohundro requires that there could be internal systems ...
These don’t represent strict categories – any giving opportunity can be described in the language of either – but they reflect different ways of thinking ...
Being selfish doesn’t always result in an obvious display of self-interest. More often, selfishness can come across in subtle ways that sabotage our relationships with others. Leo Babauta over at Zen Habits offers some examples:
- When someone doesn’t clean up after themselves, you get irritated because you think you’re entitled to everyone acting the way you want them to act (being clean and considerate).
- When someone else needs help, you think first about how it will affect you, rather than how it will affect the other person.
- When something unexpected happens at work or in your personal life, you think first about how it will affect you.
- When people are talking, you think about how what they’re saying relates to you, how you’ve had a similar experience, what they’re thinking of you.
Read the rest of his post here.
Ever feel totally out of your depth? Like you’re due to be discovered for the “fraud” that you are? This is “impostor syndrome” — where we constantly feel like everyone around us has their act together and we don’t. The Guardian’s Oliver Burkeman:
Achieve promotions, or win accolades, and you’ll just have more cause to feel like a fake. Enhance your knowledge, and as you expand the perimeter of what you know, you’ll be exposed to more and more of what you don’t. Impostorism, as Pacific Standard magazine put it recently, “is, for many people, a natural symptom of gaining expertise”. Move up the ranks and if your field’s even vaguely meritocratic, you’ll encounter more talented people to compare yourself negatively against. It never stops. “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find [me] out now,’” as some low-profile underachiever named Maya Angelou once said.
The solution, says Burkeman, is that our higher-ups should talk about their insecurities more. Admittedly ...
→ Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
Ilya Lipkovich writes:
I read with great interest your 2008 paper [with Aleks Jakulin, Grazia Pittau, and Yu-Sung Su] on weakly informative priors for logistic regression and also followed an interesting discussion on your blog. This discussion was within Bayesian community in relation to the validity of priors. However i would like to approach it rather from a more broad perspective on predictive modeling bringing in the ideas from machine/statistical learning approach”. Actually you were the first to bring it up by mentioning in your paper “borrowing ideas from computer science” on cross-validation when comparing predictive ability of your proposed priors with other choices.
However, using cross-validation for comparing method performance is not the only or primary use of CV in machine-learning. Most of machine learning methods have some “meta” or complexity parameters and use cross-validation to tune them up. For example, one of your comparison methods is BBR which actually resorts to CV for selecting the prior variance (whether you use Laplace or Gaussian priors). This makes their method essentially equivalent to ridge ...
This week on Point of Inquiry, Lindsay Beyerstein talks with Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ, and a strong advocate of separation of church and state.The conversation focuses on the Supreme Court's recent decision to hear the Hobby Lobby contraception mandate case. This is the most high profile case challenging the birth control mandate, one of the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).Lynn explains how Hobby Lobby's court challenge could open the door for Jehovah's Witness-owned companies to refuse to cover blood transfusions, or for Christian Scientist-owned companies to refuse to cover any medical care.** Due to recording problems minutes 1:30 through 2:40 of Mr. Lynn's portion of the recording are slightly distorted. We apologize for the inconvenience and assure you that the remainder of the recording is clear and that, throughout, the discussion is in-depth and educating.
I will be giving a book talk hosted by the Oxford Martin School and the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology. Reception follows.
22 January 2014 17:00 – 18:30
Oxford Martin School
34 Broad Street (corner of Holywell and Catte Streets)
Well, yes and no. Such questions are often complex. With some exceptions, we generally do not live in a world with cartoon heroes and villains. Rather we live with people who have conflicting perspectives and priorities. Yet we have a universal human desire for simplicity and the sense of control, so we often reduce the horrific complexity of the world to white hats and black hats.
This tendency makes my job difficult, although also useful – specifically whenever I attempt to wrap my head around a controversial issue, such as GMO crops and agritech, I have to wade through tons of ideological propaganda in order to dig down to some clear information.
In the world of GMO, anti-GMO activists have generally made Monsanto (and big agritech generally) into the cartoon villain. Many of the claims made by critics against Monsanto, however, turn out to be gross distortions. They don’t sue companies for accidental contamination, only deliberate piracy, for example. Pointing this out does not make one a Monsanto shill.
On the other hand, concerns about ...
My friend Jordan Ellenberg sent me an article yesterday entitled Coin-flip judgement of psychopathic prisoners’ risk.
It was written by Seena Fazel, a researcher at the department of psychiatry at Oxford, and it concerns his research into the currently used predictive risk models for violence, repeat offense, and the like, which are supposedly tailored to people who have mental disorders like psychopathy.
Turns out there are a lot of these models, and they’re in use today in a bunch of countries. I did not know that. And they’re not just being used as extra, “good to know” information, but rather as a tool to assess important decisions for the prisoner. From the article:
Many US states use such tools to assess sexual offending risk and to help decide whether to exercise their powers to detain sexual offenders indefinitely after a prison term ends.
In England and Wales, these tools are part of the admission criteria for centres that treat people with dangerous and severe personality disorders. Outside North America, Europe and Australasia, similar ...