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Tagged with “progress” (54)
Andrew McAfee draws on a wide range of evidence to show that the world is already on the right track toward long-term health when it combines 1) technological progress, 2) capitalism, 3) responsive government, and 4) public awareness. That blend demonstrably gets humanity “more from less.” It dematerializes the economy and decouples it from exploiting nature while increasing prosperity for ever more people.
McAfee argues that dematerialization is occurring because of the combination of capitalism and tech progress (especially progress with digital technologies). Contested markets provide the motive, and tech progress the opportunity, to save money by swapping bits for atoms throughout the economy. But competition and computers don’t automatically deal with pollution or protect threatened ecosystems. Two other forces are necessary—public awareness and responsive government. When all four are present, societies can tread more lightly on the Earth and grow in confidence that both humanity and nature can thrive together into the future.
The reality of what works departs from every ideology out there. It also makes clear what needs to be further improved in the places where it’s working, such as the US, and what needs to be introduced in the places where it’s not working yet.
Andrew McAfee is a research scientist at MIT‘s Sloan School of Management and cofounder of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy. He is the author of More From Less (2019) and co-author (with Erik Brynjolfsson) of Machine, Platform, Crowd (2017) and The Second Machine Age (2014).
JS Party #87: Websites should work without JS. Yep? Nope? the Short-Skulls vs the Fer-Balls |> News and podcasts for developers |> Changelog
We’re trying a brand new segment called YepNope, wherein your intrepid panelists engage in a lively debate around a premise. In this debate, Feross and KBall argue that websites should work without requiring JS and Divya and Chris say, “Nah!” Please let us know if you like this style episode! We had fun recording it, b…
I admit it. I confess. I’ve got a touch of what my guest today calls “progressophobia”. Ever since Charles Dickens got hold of me back in middle school, and William Blake after that, I’ve been a little suspicious of the Great Onward March of science and technology. Gene therapy, healthier crops, safer, more efficient forms of nuclear energy? Very nice, very nice. But what about eugenics, climate change, and Fukushima? For every problem human ingenuity solves, doesn’t human nature create a new one, on a bigger scale? Dammit, Spock, can your cold, calculating reason fathom the mysteries of the human heart? But you know what? After devouring all 453 pages and 75 graphs of psychologist Steven Pinker’s new book ENLIGHTENMENT NOW, I admit defeat. The defeat of defeatism. This man has done the math. Since the 18th century things have been getting better in pretty much every dimension of human well-being. Health, safety, education, happiness, you name it… And we’ve done it with the most reliable tools we have: reason, science, and Enlightenment humanism.
Steven Pinker promotes enlightenment values - Big Ideas - ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
The idea of progress has animated social reformers since the western enlightenment. With reason, science and individual rights at its core, this philosophy has transformed the western world over the last two hundred years. Harvard Professor Steven Pinker says these ideas are under threat and need to be defended.
John, Ward, and Dan Wahlin talk with Maxim Salnikov about his experience as a Progressive Web Apps PWA expert. Maxim discusses what they are and when he uses them, along with browser support, and how he uses service workers. Maxim shares a lot of tips on building and debugging PWAs
Why should we plan for offline? How can service workers help? Developer and author Jeremy Keith dives into the whys and hows of building good offline web experiences.
They might find beauty in the same things humans do, you never know.
Alien invasion is a constant theme of Hollywood science fiction, from War of the Worlds to Independence Day. But Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, author of the new book Enlightenment Now, argues that highly developed civilizations tend toward peace and tolerance, and that advanced aliens are much more likely to be friendly.
“I think it’s not inconceivable that wars between countries will go the way of slave auctions and dueling, just be seen as too ridiculous for any reasonable country to engage in,” Pinker says in Episode 296 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “And maybe that’s the natural arc of civilizations, including ones on other planets.”
But wouldn’t alien brains be so different from ours that it would make mutual understanding impossible? On the contrary, since aliens would have been subject to the same evolutionary pressures as us, they would probably possess an appreciation of science—and maybe even beauty—similar to ours.
“It’s conceivable that other intelligences have a sense of beauty that is not wildly different from ours,” Pinker says, “because they too might be expected to be attuned to counter-entropic forces and patterns in nature.”
An example of this is our appreciation of the bright colors and symmetrical configuration of many flowers. “Flowers are designed to attract bugs,” Pinker says, “but they also attract us, and our brains are pretty different from bugs’ brains.”
But there are limits. Vast differences in culture and biology would definitely lead to some significant differences when it comes to art appreciation.
“It may be pushing things to say that little green men from Alpha Centauri would groove to Thelonious Monk,” Pinker says. “I don’t think I’d push it that far.”
Listen to the complete interview with Steven Pinker in Episode 296 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Steven Pinker on progress:
“Nowadays in the most conservative part of the world, namely the Islamic Middle East and North Africa, in many ways they are as liberal, even a bit more liberal, than people of the same age in, say, Sweden or Norway in the early 1960s. At first when I saw that graph I just couldn’t believe it, what are you talking about? People in Libya today are more liberal than people in Sweden in the early sixties? But if you actually think about it, if you go back to people’s attitudes in the sixties, the idea of say gay marriage—you ask a Swede in 1960 what they thought of gay marriage, they’d think you were nuts. Or women’s equality. We tend to underestimate how much the world has changed, particularly when it comes to generation by generation turnover.”
Steven Pinker on AI:
“If Elon Musk was really serious about the AI threat he’d stop building those self-driving cars, which are the first kind of advanced AI that we’re going to see. Now I don’t think he stays up at night worrying that someone is going to program into a Tesla ‘take me to the airport the quickest way possible,’ and the car is just going to make a beeline across sidewalks and parks, mowing people down and uprooting trees, because that’s the way the Tesla interprets the command ‘take me by the quickest route possible.’ That’s just idiotic, you wouldn’t build a car that way, because that isn’t an example of artificial intelligence — plus he’d get sued and there’d be reputational harms. You’d test the living daylights out of it before you let it on the streets.”
Steven Pinker on science fiction:
“If you take Moral Philosophy 101, or even better you dive into the technical literature in moral philosophy in the philosophy journals, it’s kind of all science fiction. It’s ‘what would happen if …?’ I mean, it’s not very good science fiction, as literature, but it’s putting together an imaginary world and exploring the consequences, to see what you really deep down believe. A simple example is the trolley problem—you know, imagine there’s a hurtling trolley and if it continues on its way it’ll kill five workers on the track who don’t see it coming, but if you flip the switch it’ll be diverted and kill only one person. Should you flip the switch? And all kinds of variations that start to go into the realm of science fiction. But it’s these stretches of the imagination that clarify what you really believe. So science fiction and moral philosophy are often pretty similar.”
Steven Pinker on academia:
“Just yesterday I got a slew of letters after I published an article in the Wall Street Journal just mentioning climate change, and a lot of the readers wrote back and said, ‘Don’t tell me you believe in climate change. That just comes out of universities and everyone knows that there’s just a left-wing echo chamber in the universities.’ Now that’s total and utter nonsense, I know these people—the climate scientists and planetary scientists and geophysicists, and they are not left-wing fanatics—but when you’ve got the university culture developing a reputation for orthodoxy and suppression of controversy, which is true in some parts of the university, it taints the university system as a whole, to the detriment of the entire society.”
Scott and Wes dive into the ins and outs, best practices and tasty tidbits of Progressive Web Apps.
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