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Indus Script, Doomsday Prep, and Many Moons: Lux Recommends #65

By Sam Arbesman, PhD

Welcome to Lux Recommends #65, the newest edition of what we at Lux are reading and thinking about (and want to receive this by email? Sign up here).


How to find the right answer when the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ fails: “A new algorithm succeeds by asking members of large groups how they think others will respond.” — Sam

The Many-Moons Theory: “a team of Israeli researchers is proposing an equally compelling origin story: the moon, they submit, is the product not of one impact but of at least a dozen — and it isn’t just one moon but an amalgam of the many moons that came before it.”— Zack

Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich: “Some of the wealthiest people in America — in Silicon Valley, New York, and beyond — are getting ready for the crackup of civilization.” — Sam

A very casual introduction to Fully Homomorphic Encryption: “Even though the current techniques are still in the research phase — way outside the domain of the ‘practical’ crypto I usually talk about — this topic is so neat that it deserves a few words.”— Bilal

How The FDA Could Change The Way It Approves Drugs: As we’re in political transition periods, lots of talk on Silicon Valley and the FDA. Here’s an interesting idea from FiveThirtyEight on risk adjusted approval rates for drugs based on disease types. All stemming from an insightful analysis from an MIT Finance Professor, Andrew Lo. — Zavain

Cipher War: “But new work from researchers using sophisticated algorithms, machine learning, and even cognitive science are finally helping push us to the edge of cracking the Indus script.” —Adam K

The Mind Bleeds Into the World: A Conversation With David Chalmers: “At that level, artificial intelligence will start to become an extension of my mind. I suspect before long we’re all going to become very reliant on this. I’m already very reliant on my smartphone and my computers. These things are going to become more and more ubiquitous parts of our lives” — Josh


Seveneves by Neal Stephenson: “A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.”— Zack

Explore/Create by Richard Garriott: Garriott’s memoir on building video game universes as well as exploring the world and beyond (Garriott went into space). Has some fun insights into the polymathic aspects of creativity.— Sam


The Good Place: A fantastic, thought-provoking, and funny take on the afterlife, starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. The first season just finished and it was amazing. — Sam

Bored to Death: Think Ted Danson is fantastic in The Good Place and want more? Check out this HBO series (only lasted three seasons) about a struggling novelist/unlicensed private detective (Jason Schwartzman), his cartoonist friend (Zach Galifianakis), and successful magazine editor and stoner (Ted Danson). — Sam

Pushing Daisies: Sticking with the macabre, this short-lived but brilliant show by Brian Fuller (who did Dead Like Me; would go on to do Hannibal and will do the new Star Trek) has stunning imagery, addictively captivating baritone narrator, and a cool story arc premise of a man with the power to touch a dead person and bring them back, but only once and if he touches them again they die permanently. Which sets the stage for him, a mere pie-maker to be at once a forensic detective’s genius tool and also one-half of a romantic duo where the woman he loves he has brought back by touching her once and can never touch her again lest he lose her forever. Just GENIUS! Let this be the start of a movement to bring this show back on Netflix .— Josh

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