Archive

The Conversation #62 – Rebecca Costa

If you were to ask me what the cri­sis in the present is, as an evo­lu­tion­ary biol­o­gist I have to go back mil­lions of years and try to con­nect all the dots, going back to man as a single-celled organ­ism to present time, and say­ing what is it that is caus­ing mod­ern con­ster­na­tion? More impor­tant­ly, is there a pat­tern? Has this hap­pened before? Were there some ordi­nary peo­ple like you and I, shop­keep­ers in Rome, who were stand­ing around and say­ing, You know, our lead­ers don’t seem to be on top of our prob­lems. They seem to be get­ting worse one gen­er­a­tion after anoth­er.”

Steven Pinker on Why Doom is not Inevitable

I don’t think that any­thing will save the world in the sense of bring­ing Utopia to Earth. But I think the world could be improved, and that would be the ver­sion of the ques­tion that I’m very much inter­est­ed in.

Happiness and Money

Much of eco­nom­ics and pub­lic pol­i­cy rests on the assump­tion that increas­ing the wealth of indi­vid­u­als and nations pro­vides a route to increas­ing their well­be­ing. So why does mon­ey fail us?

Forbidden Research: Sexual Deviance: Can Technology Protect our Children?

One of the big things that we’re going to talk about here is para­phil­ia. We’re going to talk about sex­u­al deviance. We’re going to talk about the prob­lem of peo­ple whose sex­u­al desires lead to attrac­tion to chil­dren, lead to attrac­tion towards vio­lent sex, lead to sex­u­al trans­gres­sion in one fash­ion or anoth­er.

Behind the Screen: The People and Politics of Commercial Content Moderation

When I asked my peers and my pro­fes­sors if they’d ever heard of this type of work, two things hap­pened. The first thing is that they said no, they hadn’t. The sec­ond thing they said, which is prob­a­bly what you’re think­ing, is, Well, can’t com­put­ers do that?” And in fact the answer to that is no.

Social Contagion

The rea­son that I am inter­est­ed in behav­ioral con­ta­gions is that I firm­ly believe that if we can under­stand how behav­iors spread in a social net­work and thus in a pop­u­la­tion from per­son to per­son to per­son to per­son, that we could poten­tial­ly pro­mote behav­iors like…condom use, or tol­er­ance.

Studying Harm

One of the most recent par­a­digms that we’ve used to try to get this under exper­i­men­tal con­trol is to ask peo­ple to act out pre­tend harm­ful actions. So for instance, we’ll give them a dis­abled hand­gun. We’ll show them that it’s fake. That it couldn’t pos­si­bly harm a fly. We put it in their hands and then we ask them to shoot us in the head.

Our Faces

The French philoso­pher Immanuel Levinas has taught us that it is through our inter­ac­tions with the face of some­body else, it is through encoun­ter­ing the face of anoth­er, that our respon­si­bil­i­ties to some­one else arise. You can­not look at some­body else, tru­ly look at them, and then walk away with­out hav­ing some kind of sense of a rela­tion­ship towards that per­son. But what if the oth­er has no face? What then? Or what if the face of the oth­er is actu­al­ly the face of anoth­er per­son entire­ly?

The Conversation #17 — Laura Musikanski

What’s key…is that we all need to work togeth­er. There’s no way for all of us to know about each oth­er. We’re in that part of this new way of being that there’s too many play­ers. It’s too chaot­ic. There is no cen­ter, there is no hub. But we need to find ways to work togeth­er, and to lose the idea that any one of us is the solu­tion. Because if any one of us were the solu­tion, we wouldn’t be where we are now.

Molecular Mechanisms of Reward and Aversion

Why do we do the things that we do? Why do we some­times choose to be lov­ing par­ents and oth­er times engage in irra­tional self-destructive behav­iors? What dri­ves us to some­times be altru­is­tic and oth­er times make deci­sions that real­ly threat­en our very sur­vival? Well, the answer lies in our brains. Our brains evolved to ensure that we repeat behav­iors that will lead to our sur­vival.