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Alternate Futures

The unre­lent­ing pace of tech­nolo­gies is deeply iron­ic, giv­en the orig­i­nal intent of them to make our lives more effi­cient and give us more time. But we can all attest that the actu­al effect of this esca­la­tion of effi­cien­cy has been to increase the pace of work and play in our worlds.

Analyzing the Limits of Rational Choice in Political and Cultural Conflict

With our team of pol­i­cy­mak­ers, aca­d­e­mics, for­mer mil­i­tary, of play­wrights, we explore why peo­ple refuse polit­i­cal com­pro­mise, go to war, attempt rev­o­lu­tion, or resort to ter­ror­ism, focus­ing on what Darwin called those virtues highly-esteemed and even sacred,” that give immense advan­tage to any group with devot­ed actors inspired to sac­ri­fice for them.

Deducing the Cognitive Basis of Attempting to Influence Others

In the course of Donald Trump’s rise to pow­er, peo­ple have repeat­ed­ly been ask­ing, Why did he tweet that? What was he think­ing about?” Our fas­ci­na­tion with his men­tal states high­lights a very impor­tant ques­tion for us: What hap­pens in our minds and brains when we try to influ­ence oth­ers?

Why Facts Don’t Unify Us

Why do you spend pre­cious moments every day shar­ing infor­ma­tion? There’s prob­a­bly many rea­sons, but it appears that the oppor­tu­ni­ty to impart your knowl­edge onto oth­ers is inter­nal­ly reward­ing.

Solving the Economic Generation Gap

I want­ed to start off this morn­ing using an American poet and nov­el­ist, Langston Hughes. And I quote him to have said, What hap­pens to a dream deferred?” It is a ques­tion now fac­ing mil­lions all over the world, espe­cial­ly young peo­ple. Why? Because of pover­ty. Because of exces­sive inequal­i­ty

We Need A New Image of Africa

To have the hunter tell it, Africa is full of meek sto­ries about des­per­a­tion and despair. So when artists like myself offer an alter­nate vision, often we’re asked to defend our imag­i­na­tion. Why do we feel we have the lux­u­ry to cre­ate? Shouldn’t we be deal­ing with more impor­tant issues like cor­rup­tion, or war, or AIDS, or pover­ty?

Invisible Images of Surveillance

One of the things I real­ly want out of art, what I see the job of the artist to be is to try to learn how to see the his­tor­i­cal moment that you find your­self liv­ing in. I mean that very sim­ply and I mean it very lit­er­al­ly. How do you see the world around you?

Discovering Health Innovations in Humanitarian Settings

During the war in Afghanistan, the mil­i­tary decid­ed to air drop food pack­ages as part of its win­ning hearts and minds cam­paign. Unfortunately, the food pack­ages were very sim­i­lar in appear­ance to the clus­ter bombs they were drop­ping at the same time. If mil­i­tary decision-makers had spo­ken to com­mu­ni­ties, aid work­ers, mil­i­tary per­son­nel on the ground, they’d have fig­ured out there were smarter ways to deliv­er food and win the trust of the Afghan peo­ple.

Harnessing Artificial Intelligence to Target Conservation Efforts

The smart­phone is the ulti­mate exam­ple of a uni­ver­sal com­put­er. Apps trans­form the phone into dif­fer­ent devices. Unfortunately, the com­pu­ta­tion­al rev­o­lu­tion has done lit­tle for the sus­tain­abil­i­ty of our Earth. Yet, sus­tain­abil­i­ty prob­lems are unique in scale and com­plex­i­ty, often involv­ing sig­nif­i­cant com­pu­ta­tion­al chal­lenges.

Teaching a Machine How to Imagine

We can train com­put­ers to learn to rec­og­nize objects by giv­ing them mil­lions of exam­ples with the cor­rect answers. A human baby, on the oth­er hand, learns to rec­og­nize many con­cepts and objects all by them­self sim­ply by inter­act­ing with a few exam­ples in the real world.

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