This hour, we examine three very different kinds of black boxes—those peculiar spaces where it’s clear what’s going in, we know what’s coming out, but what happens in-between is a mystery.
Tagged with “science” (13)
There’s a common problem with Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients all over the world. They get disoriented. They wander off. Lost in their memories, they amble the world. But sometimes, in their wandering, they can end up too far from home, frightened, or hurt. So what are you supposed to do if your loved one–a parent, a grandparent–begins to wander in this way? Often times the only solution is to lock them up. Which just feels cruel. But what else are you supposed to do if you want to keep them safe?
Well, a nursing home in Düsseldorf, Germany, called the Benrath Senior Center, came up with a new idea. An idea so simple you almost think it couldn’t work. This week on the podcast producer Lulu Miller talks to Richard Neureither and Regine Hauch about what they’ve done in Düsseldorf.
In this episode, taken from the Buddhist Geeks Conference in 2011, Kelly McGonigal, PhD in Health Psychology, speaks on how the neuroscience of meditation can help us understand how practice shapes the mind and can also offer fresh insights into concepts like mindfulness and suffering. As Dr. McGonigal presents various scientific studies that show differences in the brain functioning between meditators and non-meditators, she highlights how meditation practice benefits the practitioner in various ways such as higher pain thresholds and reduced depression.
Languages are Parallel Universes
"To have a second language is to have a second soul," said Charlemagne around 800 AD. "Each language has its own cognitive toolkit," said psychologist/linguist Lera Boroditsky in 2010 AD.
Different languages handle verbs, distinctions, gender, time, space, metaphor, and agency differently, and those differences, her research shows, make people think and act differently.
If it comes to you easily, being able to read is easy to take for granted. But reading is an extraordinarily complex process, one that researchers are still working to understand fully. On today's Please Explain we look at the science of reading. Dr. Sally E. Shaywitz and Dr. Bennett A. Shaywitz are professors in Learning Development at the Yale University School of Medicine and Co-Directors of the Yale Center for Learning.
One reason lots of people don’t want to think long term these days is because technology keeps accelerating so rapidly, we assume the world will become unrecognizable in a few years and then move on to unimaginable. Long-term thinking must be either impossible or irrelevant.
The commonest shorthand term for the runaway acceleration of technology is “the Singularity”—a concept introduced by science fiction writer Vernor Vinge in 1984. The term has been enthusiastically embraced by technology historians, futurists, extropians, and various trans-humanists and post-humanists, who have generated variants such as “the techno-rapture,” “the Spike,” etc.
It takes a science fiction writer to critique a science fiction idea.
Along with being one of America’s leading science fiction writers and technology journalists, Bruce Sterling is a celebrated speaker armed with lethal wit. His books include The Zenith Angle (just out), Hacker Crackdown, Holy Fire, Distraction, Mirrorshades (cyberpunk compendium), Schismatrix, The Difference Engine (with William Gibson), Tomorrow Now, and Islands in the Net.
The Seminar About Long-term Thinking on June 10-11 was Bruce Sterling examining “The Singularity: Your Future as a Black Hole.” He treated the subject of hyper-acceleration of technology as a genuine threat worth alleviating and as a fond fantasy worth cruel dismemberment.
“Those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it. Those who can’t imagine the future are doomed to fuck it up.”
Lauren Beukes explores how fiction is a model our brains run to explore other lives and possibilities, overcome issue fatigue and fire our cultural imagination.
Lauren Beukes is the author of Zoo City, which won the 2011 Arthur C. Clarke award. That’s because it’s bloody brilliant. Seriously, if you haven’t read it, grab a copy now.
Her first novel, the excellent near-future dystopia Moxyland, was set in Cape Town, where Lauren lives with her husband and daughter. Her next book, The Shining Girls, will be set in Chicago and feature a time-travelling serial killer.
As well as being a novelist, Lauren is a journalist and has collaborated on television and comic book projects.
Humans Need Not Apply — ENCORE You are one-of-a-kind, unique, indispensible… oh, wait, never mind! It seems that computer over there can do what you do … faster and with greater accuracy. Yes, it’s silicon vs. carbon as intelligent, interactive machines out-perform humans in tasks beyond data-crunching. We’re not only building our successors, we’re developing emotional relationships with them. Find out why humans are hard-wired to be attached to androids. Also, the handful of areas where humans still rule… as pilots, doctors and journalists. Scratch that! Journalism is automated too – tune in for a news story written solely by a machine.
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