Weekly Newsletter

Evolutionary Biology and Health #

To Stop Mosquito Bites, Silence Your Skin’s Bacteria
Discusses a technique which could prevent mosquitoes bites by silencing the communication between bacteria on human skin. Mosquitoes detect this communication on human skin and bite people after detecting it.

Cognitive Science #

What’s the evidence on using rational arguments to change people’s minds?
Argues that reason is more powerful than recent cognitive science research might lead us to believe. I have confirmation bias towards this argument so I’m withholding judgement until I hear others’ opinions on it.

Picture This? Some Just Can’t
Explains Aphantasia. Sufferers of Aphantasia lack any conscious experience of a mind’s eye.

Rewiring the Brain to Create New Senses
Discusses fascinating work to substitute and add new senses using technology. I was particularly enthralled by the idea of using the brain as a pattern recognition system for stock data.

Investing #

The Hedge Fund Managers Who Work for Tips
Combines a history of hedge funds with a description of a new hedge fund business model. Instavest, a new startup, offers individuals the opportunity to co-invest with lead investors and then tip them if they’re happy with their returns. So far, Instavest has observed that, on average, co-investors on their site tip 10.3% of the profits they receive.

Artificial Intelligence #

Is consciousness an engineering problem?
Argues that framing consciousness as an engineering problem is more productive than the current practice of describing consciousness in quasi-magical terms. I think the author takes a reductionist approach to the complexities of self-awareness but understand and sympathize with his reasons for doing so.

Other Contributions #

The Myth of the Arc of Justice by Will Baird
Baird kindly wrote this article just for the newsletter, and I think it touches on an important but infrequently discussed topic. Drawing from his study of history, Baird discusses the dangerous tendency to discover patterns in history where none exist.

What Should We Do If the Islamic State Wins? (Will Baird) Argues for a policy of containment towards the Islamic State if they managed to solidify their control of the region they now control.