Content Roundup — Scratching your brain’s curiosity itch: Week of 05/19/17

Here is a sampling of the best content I consumed this past week. Enjoy!



YouTube Channel —


My Favorites from Nautilus & The Atlantic

Foremost among those theories is Integrated Information Theory, developed by neuroscientist Giulio Tononi at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It models a conscious system, be it brain, bot, or Borg, as a network of neurons or equivalent components. The theory says the system is conscious to the extent that its parts act together in harmony. The underlying premise is that conscious experience is psychologically unified — we feel our selves to be indivisible, and our sensations form a seamless whole — so the brain function that generates it should be unified, too.”

“The ashes filled a black plastic box about the size of a toaster. It weighed three and a half pounds. I put it in a canvas tote bag and packed it in my suitcase this past July for the transpacific flight to Manila. From there I would travel by car to a rural village. When I arrived, I would hand over all that was left of the woman who had spent 56 years as a slave in my family’s household.”

Honorable mentions

“Creationists are as active as ever, with a few even in the bully pulpits afforded by high political office. And the legal rulings that established the obstacles that have so far thwarted attacks on evolution education could be overturned by a reactionary Supreme Court or circumvented by public support of religious schools not subject to constitutional strictures. So the evolution wars are by no means over.
“In an age when it’s cooler to hate things than enjoy them, Johnson has carved out an improbable niche for himself, as someone it’s safe to like. Maybe you like him because he’s big and does fast things in slow motion. Maybe you like him because he had one song to sing in the children’s musical he was cast in, and he sang it with his whole heart. Undeniably, he is likable — and likable is lucrative in his line of work: His films have collectively taken in more than a billion dollars a year worldwide, a fact that has made Johnson, at 45 years old, the highest-paid movie star on earth. This popularity has made people wonder just how far it could take him and what, exactly, he’d like to do with it. In a moment of political ridiculousness, there’s even the suddenly not ridiculous question of whether Dwayne Johnson might actually be headed for Washington.
Because the battle for the soul of America is being fought at the state level, and nothing short of a moral movement converging in every state capital will make possible the reconstruction we need to fulfill our nation’s promise.
“The central point of Brave New World was that — contrary to what George Orwell would suggest 16 years later with 1984 — governments didn’t need to be totalitarian to exercise social control. Our “almost infinite appetite for distractions” could render a population politically helpless. Of all Huxley’s warnings, that was the most prescient.”
“Re-prioritizing idleness — and de-prioritizing work — isn’t some retrograde, Luddite vision of the future. It could be critical to human flourishing as we approach the limits of human productivity. Rather than make-work programs or trying to slow automation, a better way to handle the declining economic value of work might be to stop recoiling in horror from idleness and start distributing its benefits more widely…To advocate for more idleness isn’t to say we should transform ourselves into passive consumers. It’s to imagine a psychological and political starting point like the one most humans through the ages had: one where work is part of life, not its driving purpose. If we took idleness, rather than productivity, as our baseline, we could stop worrying about being doers and start figuring out what, exactly, it is that we want to do.”
“If we want a high-growth society with broadly shared prosperity, and if we want to avoid dislocations like the one we have just gone through, we need to change our theory of action foundationally. We need to stop thinking about the economy as a perfect, self-correcting machine and start thinking of it as a garden…One of the simple and damning limitations of traditional economics is that it can’t really explain how wealth gets generated. It simply assumes wealth. And it treats money as the sole measure of wealth. Complexity economics, by contrast, says that wealth is solutions: knowledge applied to solve problems. Wealth is created when new ideas — inventing a wheel, say, or curing cancer — emerge from a competitive, evolutionary environment. In the same way, the greatness of a garden comes not just in the sheer volume but also in the diversity and usefulness of the plants it contains.”
“Now that our privacy is worth something, every side of it is being monetized. We can either trade it for cheap services or shell out cash to protect it. It is increasingly seen not as a right but as a luxury good. When Congress recently voted to allow internet service providers to sell user data without users’ explicit consent, talk emerged of premium products that people could pay for to protect their browsing habits from sale. And if they couldn’t afford it? As one congressman told a concerned constituent, “Nobody’s got to use the internet.” Practically, though, everybody’s got to. Tech companies have laid claim to the public square: All of a sudden, we use Facebook to support candidates, organize protests and pose questions in debates. We’re essentially paying a data tax for participating in democracy.”
“Rebooting antitrust for the information age will not be easy. It will entail new risks: more data sharing, for instance, could threaten privacy. But if governments don’t want a data economy dominated by a few giants, they will need to act soon.

Thanks for this one Patrick Gray !

“The rise of Stoicism is a sign of a civilization in decline. There is something decadent about a society trying to escape its own loss through a sour grapes philosophy. Let us face reality. The answer isn’t in the flick of the mind. We could come together with our friends — decide what we require of each other — and turn back the tide of decline.”
“But it is wholly illegitimate and indecent to portray those who disagree with your view as eager champions of death and suffering. It is vile beyond words to avidly wish for them to be “lined up and shot” or to “be tortured” by the death of loved ones. Such fury should be deployed against the real monsters who threaten us — not against fellow Americans guilty of only a different political outlook. If we have forgotten how to tell the difference, we are in bigger trouble than we know.”
“It will take nine days to get there. And when they do, they will make an ultimatum to the state’s legislature: Pass three fundamental, much-needed democracy reforms — automatic voter registration, gerrymandering reform and a gift ban for legislators — or they will risk arrest in front of the statehouse.
“The latter path was the one taken by a 17-year-old Catholic high school student in Missouri. They turned in what amounts to a dissertation — a 127-page paper titled, “Gay Marriage Is Fabulous.”

If your thirst for eclectic content is not quenched then check out last week’s Content Roundup — 05/12/17:

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