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COVID-19 (Average) vs Other Causes of Death (Actual) in the U.S. – Animated Data Graph

COVID-19 (Average) vs Other Causes of Death (Actual) in the U.S. – Animated Data Graph

Source: Covid vs. US Daily Average Cause of Death, Robert Martin on 8 Apr 2020 For those still saying influenza is a much bigger killer than COVID-19 (SARS-COV-2), the numbers don’t support that argument, especially considering there are many deaths that strongly appear to be due to COVID-19 that are not reported as such because the deceased are not tested. The animation conveys the speed with which an exponentially increasing infection rate overtakes other, relatively linear rates of expansion.

How the Black Death Radically Changed the Course of History

How the Black Death Radically Changed the Course of History

link.medium.com/YRFzoB3Xr5 This article is relevant to our recent discussions and Zak Stein’s (see Edward’s recent post) suggestion that great destabilizing events open gaps in which new structures can supplant older, disintegrating systems–with the inherent risks and opportunities.

Elephant neural variation suggests a contemplative mind

Elephant neural variation suggests a contemplative mind

An article in The Conversation explores the variety of neuron structures in the elephant brain. Taken together, these morphological characteristics suggest that neurons in the elephant cortex may synthesize a wider variety of input than the cortical neurons in other mammals. In terms of cognition, my colleagues and I believe that the integrative cortical circuitry in the elephant supports the idea that they are essentially contemplative animals. Primate brains, by comparison, seem specialized for rapid decision-making and quick reactions to…

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Seismic communication: Elephants communicate through their feet

Seismic communication: Elephants communicate through their feet

During our recent meeting to discuss animal intelligence, Eve mentioned elephants communicating over large distances by transmitting and receiving low-frequency waves through their skeletons and feet. This was in the context of my question, “Is physical embodiment necessary to higher cognition?” This article and video from KQED show and explain the phenomenon. 

Analysis of inept interviewer raises several interesting questions

Analysis of inept interviewer raises several interesting questions

Misleading and sensationalist news personalities have ceased to be noteworthy. They are the norm in American mainstream media. Interviewers strive to oversimplify and shape guests’ messages–tactics interviewees who are good communicators can cast in sharp relief. Experts tend to present information in systemic, relational, and process terms no longer welcome in or compatible with the aims of popular media outlets. A fascinating article in The Atlantic not only surfaces these tactics (which may have become habits more than deliberate interviewing methods) but highlights…

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Should AI agents’ voice interactions be more like our own? What effects should we anticipate?

Should AI agents’ voice interactions be more like our own? What effects should we anticipate?

An article at Wired.com considers the pros and cons of making the voice interactions of AI assistants more humanlike. The assumption that more human-like speech from AIs is naturally better may prove as incorrect as the belief that the desktop metaphor was the best way to make humans more proficient in using computers. When designing the interfaces between humans and machines, should we minimize the demands placed on users to learn more about the system they’re interacting with? That seems…

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People’s brains store and recall stories the same way

People’s brains store and recall stories the same way

New scientific findings support the idea that different humans’ brains store and recall story scenes the same way, rather than each person developing unique memory patterns about stories. Also, people generally do well recalling the details of stories. I want to see more targeted research that determines whether information packed in story structures (a person wrestling with a difficult challenge and changing as a result) is more readily and accurately transmitted from brain to brain via storytelling. This would be…

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