Results for “star trek”
56 found

How to prepare for CRISPR

That is an MR reader request, namely:

One issue that it appears we’ll discuss more in the future is genetic experimentation – the sort heralded by CRISPR. How do you suggest we prepare for this technology? What should be reading? Discussing?

Read my book The Age of the Infovore, to better understand the importance of human diversity, and also ponder my earlier post on whether genetic engineering will lead to excess human conformity.  Then investigate what kinds of sperm and eggs are most popular and thus most expensive on the current market; that’s tall, smart people who look a bit like the parents.  That might give us an idea of what kind of genetic engineering people are trying to accomplish.  Then watch or rewatch Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  If you still have spare time, dip into the New Testament again.

Then read about extensive Chinese efforts in this area.  Consider also how slow advances have been in genomics, and how difficult manipulability will be for most issues.  Then study Moore’s Law and Big Data.  Then read about how unlikely regulation will be able to stop advances in this area (the biggest intellectual gap in this set of instructions).  Then read or reread Aldous Huxley and any Greek tragedy centering around the idea of hubris.

Mix together, stir, shake, and sit down and cry.

Noah Cowan interviews Tyler Cowen

He is from Brown University, we met at a tacqueria, here is the interview, here is one bit from it, from me:

Popular culture is not nearly pro-science enough…. It should be much higher status to be in science. This would boost the rate of innovation. I think people privately can just choose to respect science more. In a sense it’s a free lunch! You don’t have to spend money, people just have to actually believe science is really good. So that’s what I advocate. And that’s a question of role models and exposure when you’re young. I think TV shows are very important… Star Trek and even Gilligan’s Island I think made science cool to a lot of people. I think President Obama actually has done a pretty good job of being a pro-science role model and how he talks about science. His powers are limited but I think he actually gets this pretty well, because he’s made a real concerted attempt rhetorically to work that into what he’s about. I think historically, America has not been all that pro-science, but we invented the atomic bomb, we industrialized in this fantastic manner. In a bunch of ways pro-science and nationalism should overlap. Being the first country to put a man on the moon gave a huge boost to science. That boost has proven temporary, much to my dismay.

Here are bits and pieces on the very smart Noah Cowan, who was a Jeopardy champion at a very young age.

My Conversation with Joe Henrich

Here you will find the transcript, podcast, and video of the chat, Joe of course was in top form.  In addition to a wide-ranging conversation on cultural and social evolution, we touched on topics such as Star Trek, Hayek’s atavism theory, what he learned from the Mapuche, the pleasures of cooking in coconut milk, why WEIRD matters, whether Neanderthals were smarter than humans, and whether Joe is a conservative after all.  Here is one bit:

COWEN: The Flynn effect in the short run puzzles me more than in the long run. If I compare today to the 18th century, I can see where the difference might be. But in many countries, it seems the Flynn effect hasn’t stopped. Nutritional gains probably are over.

The environment — smartphones are newer than the Flynn effect, but it doesn’t seem to be changing now compared to a generation ago. They both seem quite complex. We’ve had TV for a while. People have books, market society. What exactly is the difference over the last generation in the short run?

HENRICH: It’s a cultural-evolutionary treadmill. One place where you see this is the complexity of television shows. Now, you have an ensemble cast and 20 different plots going on. You’ve got to track all these different plots. That wasn’t the television of the 1950s. It was one plot, one thing after another. Simple. The whole world is getting more complex, at least in terms of your need for analytic thinking.

COWEN: Some of that in your view is the supply-side effect. It’s not that we got smarter and they made TV better, it’s also they made TV better and that made some of us smarter.

HENRICH: Coevolutionary.

COWEN: Coevolutionary. This is going to make you out to be quite an optimist, then, because TV is going to get better and better. We’re just going to keep on getting smarter.

HENRICH: Yeah, of course.

And:

COWEN: You’re an anthropologist. You’ve spent a lot of time with economists — coauthored, worked with Paul Romer, Colin Camerer, others. As an anthropologist, what do you find strange about the tribe known as econ? [laughs]

HENRICH: I had a real opportunity. I was very fortunate in my career to be a professor of psychology and a professor of economics at the same time but to be neither in some deep sense. I would get to go back and forth from seminars in economics and psychology.

In economics, there’s this really competitive culture. The way I like to describe it: If you’re giving a seminar in economics, the crowd — everybody’s trying to show who’s the smartest guy in the room. Just on your first slide, someone will raise their hand. (I’m like, I haven’t said anything yet!) Then they’ll try to ask the killer question which undercuts your whole talk so that they can get you right at the beginning.

[laughter]

HENRICH: Whereas psychologists, they’ll sit quietly. They watch your talk. You go through your whole PowerPoint. You probably touched a lot of different research projects.

Then there’ll be question time; at first no hands will go up. Then someone will be like, “I got a question.” Then they say, “I just have one small question. I mean, it was a great talk and this is just a very minor thing.”

Then it could be a killer question at that point when they’ve done the preface. It’s a very strong cultural difference between the econ tribe and the psychology tribe.

I’ve always wanted to write an ethnography: My Life among Two Strange Tribes: The Psychologists and the Economists.

Do read, hear, or watch the whole thing.

Here you can order Joe’s book The Secret of our Success: How Culture is Driving Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making us Smarter.

Monday assorted links

1. A polemic attack on Indian liberals.

2. Cambodian betting markets in everything.

3. Geminoid F — a robot actress — cast in a lead movie role in Japan.  And machine accepts reincarnation.

4. Was Snoopy the reason for the decline of Peanuts?

5. Atlas Shrugged TV serial on the way? (NYT).  And a new Star Trek?

6. Summers on Krugman and Summers and secular stagnation.  And Krugman responds.  And Scott Sumner on the natural rate of interest.  And Arnold Kling on depreciation and negative rates.  Here is Curdia from the SF Fed.

Sound bites for silent laser systems (life imitates art)

Thanks to computerized aiming, HEL MD can operate in wholly autonomous mode, which Boeing tested successfully in May 2014 – although the trials uncovered an unexpected challenge. The weapon’s laser beam is silent and invisible, and not all targets explode as they are destroyed, so an automated battle can be over before operators have noticed anything. ‘The engagements happen quickly, and unless you’re staring at a screen 24-7 you’ll never see them,’ Blount says. ‘So we’ve built sound in for whenever we fire the laser. We plan on taking advantage of lots of Star Trek and Star Wars sound bites.’

More generally, fibre-laser weapons may be on their way:

Despite their modest capabilities, Scharre claims that fibre-laser weapons could find a niche in US military defence in 5–10 years. “They may not be as grand and strategic as the Star Wars concept,” he says, “but they could save lives, protect US bases, ships and service members.”

The full article is here, via the excellent Kevin Lewis.

The under-representation of women in the movies and on TV

Will Radford and Mathias Gallé have a new and interesting paper on this topic, here is one excerpt:

Law and corporate professions had around 15% of female representation…the medical domain (doctors) had a female probability of 0.23…Religion does not score at the bottom with regards to female presentation (although very low with 0.08). From the professions we selected, Engineering was the lowest (0.05). The highest scoring profession was IT (0.52), which is partly due to the fact that many computer voices were female (computer had 460 female occurrences, versus 247 male ones; and enterprise computer from “Star Trek” was almost exclusively female)

By the way, the number of female writers and directors (in their IMDB database) was at a six year low in 2014.

If you look at most frequent roles for gender, women are assigned hostess, girl, woman, waitress, and mother.  For men, the list swings toward narrator, announcer, doctor, detective, bartender, soldier, and police officer.

In 1980-200, the top “newly popular” role (for both sexes) was “additional voices.”  For the time period 2000-present it was “zombie,” next was “housemate.”

The paper is here (pdf), hat tip goes to Samir Varma.

Here is a new and interesting article on whether there is greater female influence over cinematic box office these days.

Assorted links

1. There is no great stagnation: the horizontal shower.

2. What if Star Trek had social networks?

3. The culture that is Iceland.

4. New economics blog from Phillips Exeter Academy.

5. TGS for musical instruments?

6. Profile of Scott Stern’s work on the economics of science.

7. Kristof has quite a reasonable review of Murray; by the way if you think dysfunctional social mores all boil down to economics, how are those Albertan tribes with the oil revenues doing?  Ex football players in bankruptcy?  etc.  Here is more Krugman on Murray, now totally on the mark.  Matt nails it too.

Assorted links

1. Can you digitally organize your friends (acquaintances, enemies, etc.)?  (By the way, I haven’t yet figured out how to respond to Google+ queries, thanks if you sent me one though.)

2. Can the neuroeconomics revolution revolutionize psychiatry? (gated, in any case I am skeptical)

3. The new Tim Groseclose book on media bias is now out.

4. Professorial hobbies.

5. The demographic depression in household formation, or why housing may not recover anytime soon.

6. Star Trek vs. Anti-Star Trek.

Capitalism: Hollywood’s Miscast Villain

In the WSJ online I cover Hollywood and capitalism including Star Wars, Star Trek, Avatar, The Wire and much else.  Here are two bits:

Although Hollywood does sometimes produce leftist films like "Reds," it has no deep love for socialism…

But Hollywood does share Marx's concept of alienation, the idea that under capitalism workers are separated from the product of their work and made to feel like cogs in a machine rather than independent creators. The lowly screenwriter is a perfect illustration of what Marx had in mind–a screenwriter can pour heart and soul into a screenplay only to see it rewritten, optioned, revised, reworked, rewritten again and hacked, hacked and hacked by a succession of directors, producers and, worst of all, studio executives. A screenwriter can have a nominally successfully career in Hollywood without ever seeing one of his works brought to the screen. Thus, the antipathy of filmmakers to capitalism is less ideological than it is experiential. Screenwriters and directors find themselves in a daily battle between art and commerce, and they come to see their battle against "the suits" as emblematic of a larger war between creative labor and capital.

On The Wire:

…although it uses character, "The Wire" is ultimately about how character is dominated by larger economic forces: drug dealers come and go, but the drug market is forever. "Capitalism is the ultimate god in The Wire. Capitalism is Zeus," says David Simon, the show's creator.

Over its five seasons, "The Wire" shows how money and markets connect and intertwine white and black, rich and poor, criminal and police in a grand web that none of them truly comprehends–a product of human action but not of human design. It's the invisible hand that's calling the shots, as Mr. Simon subtly reminds us in the conclusion to the third season, when Detective McNulty wondrously pulls a book from the shelf of murdered drug dealer Stringer Bell, and the camera focuses in on the title: "The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith.

Smith's metaphor of the invisible hand, like Mr. Simon's invocation of Zeus, tells us that to understand the world we need to look beyond the actions of individuals to see the larger forces at work. But Zeus is an arbitrary and capricious god whose lightning bolts fall out of the sky without reason or direction. Smith's "invisible hand," however, is that of a kinder god, a god that cares not one whit for individuals but nevertheless guides self-interest toward the social good, progress, and economic growth. So Mr. Simon understands that the Baltimore dockworkers lost their jobs because of the relentless change that capitalism brings and not through any fault of their own. But Adam Smith sees what Mr. Simon does not, namely that it was capitalism that brought the Baltimore stevedores their high wages in the first place and it is the relentless change of capitalism that slowly raises wages throughout the world.

More here.

Avatar

It was entertaining but I was expecting to be awed by at least one scene, as happened in Terminator, T2 and Titanic, and I was not.  The plot is identical to that of Battle for Terra, right down to the "tree of life."  Many scenes I felt like I had seen before.  Here is the helicopter gunship scene from Apocalypse Now, here is the men in robot suits battle scene from Alien (and one of the Matrix movies), here are the sky islands from Castle in the Sky, here we have the Dances with Wolves scene(s).  I am all for homage but this was pastiche.

The aliens were gorgeous, leggy, blue fashion models.  Nice, but Star Trek did the green alien girl thing forty years ago.  Personally, I like my aliens to be a little bit more well, alien.  All the way to another planet just to find that the girls are blue and the horses have eight legs instead of four?  Sad.

I insisted on seeing it in 3D but the effect was not revolutionary and there is still some eye strain.  In the end I would have preferred 2D.

I was entertained but I was not enthralled.