Quantum Jump

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IBM launches cloud-based five qubits quantum processorIBM/Flickr

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Quantum computing: To boldly go where Einstein feared to tread

[…] when quantum theory was regarded as a branch of physics, and physicists didn’t need to explain the theory to use it to design computer chips and cellphones. But toward the end of the 20th century, scientists gradually realized that quantum weirdness was not just a philosophical conundrum or a communications problem between scientists and laypeople, but implied the existence of powerful and previously unsuspected kinds of information processing, feats that could not be predicted or understood using pre-quantum notions.

Now, in the 21st century, this realization is propelling a race among some of the world’s most influential university laboratories, government agencies and technology companies, to design and build a “quantum computer,” that is to say a device within which quantum effects are directly harnessed for information processing, including some feats unachievable by ordinary “classical” computers.

Has the age of quantum computing arrived?

It’s a mind-bending concept with the potential to change the world, and Canadian tech company D-Wave claims to have cracked the code.

Quantum computing is the technology that many scientists, entrepreneurs and big businesses expect to provide a, well, quantum leap into the future. If you’ve never heard of it there’s a helpful video doing the social media rounds that’s got a couple of million hits on YouTube. It features the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, detailing exactly what quantum computing means.

Trudeau was on a recent visit to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, one of the world’s leading centres for the study of the field. During a press conference there, a reporter asked him, half-jokingly, to explain quantum computing.

Quantum mechanics is a conceptually counterintuitive area of science that has baffled some of the finest minds – as Albert Einstein said “God does not play dice with the universe” – so it’s not something you expect to hear politicians holding forth on. Throw it into the context of computing and let’s just say you could easily make Zac Goldsmith look like an expert on Bollywood. But Trudeau rose to the challenge and gave what many science observers thought was a textbook example of how to explain a complex idea in a simple way.

Former Android chief is betting on quantum computing and AI

“Quantum computers, in a nutshell, will be able to perform tasks much, much faster than typical computers by harnessing the power of atoms and molecules. It’s a complex topic, but Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau might be able to help you out. The technology is still in its infancy, but a few organizations, including Google and MIT, managed to create simple versions that could lead something bigger.

As you can imagine then, a quantum computer and an AI make a formidable combination. During the event, Rubin said the resulting machine could be so powerful, we’d need only one to power every connected device, such as smartphones. “If you have computing that is as powerful as this could be, you might only need one. It might not be something you carry around; it just has to be conscious,” he said, according to The Verge.

The idea of an extremely capable and conscious computer is both intriguing and terrifying. Remember Skynet? Rubin said we shouldn’t “be worrying about Skynet coming online,” though. We “should be worrying about what it means to compute at these magnitudes.”

 

Computing’s Search for Quantum Questions

‘”It was billed as the vindication of the quantum computer. Late last year, researchers at Google announced that a quantum machine called the D-Wave 2X had executed a task 100 million times faster than a classical computer. The claim implies that the machine can complete in one second a task that might take a classical computer three years.

It also erased one facet of the skepticism that has long faced this particular version of a quantum computer. In the past, critics of so-called “quantum annealers” made by the Canadian company D-Wave Systems have wondered if the machines make use of intrinsically quantum processes at all.

Part of the problem lies in the catch-22 of quantum computing: The quantum features only work when they’re not being observed, so observing a quantum computer to check if it’s exploiting quantum behavior will destroy the quantum behavior being checked. “It’s hard to devise a physics experiment to study something you aren’t allowed to observe,” said Catherine McGeoch, a computer scientist at D-Wave. December’s news convincingly satisfied critics that the quantum annealer really does exploit uniquely quantum effects.”

IBM surges ahead of Google in quantum computing

“Quantum computers are very different from today’s computers, not only in what they look like and are made of, but more importantly in what they can do. Quantum computing is becoming a reality and it will extend computation far beyond what is imaginable with today’s computers,” said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director, IBM Research.

“This moment represents the birth of quantum cloud computing. By giving hands-on access to IBM’s experimental quantum systems, the IBM Quantum Experience will make it easier for researchers and the scientific community to accelerate innovations in the quantum field, and help discover new applications for this technology,” added Arvind.

Get used to it: quantum computing will bring immense processing possibilities

“Imagine a computer processor able to harness super-position, to calculate the result of an arbitrarily large number of permutations of a complex problem simultaneously. Imagine how entanglement could be used to allow systems on different sides of the world to be linked and their efforts combined, despite their physical separation. Quantum computing has immense potential, making light work of some of the most difficult tasks, such as simulating the body’s response to drugs, predicting weather patterns, or analysing big datasets.

Such processing possibilities are needed. The first transistors could only just be held in the hand, while today they measure just 14 nm – 500 times smaller than a red blood cell. This relentless shrinking, predicted by Intel founder Gordon Moore as Moore’s law, has held true for 50 years, but cannot hold indefinitely. Silicon can only be shrunk so far, and if we are to continue benefiting from the performance gains we have become used to, we need a different approach.”

Quantum computing poised for new silicon revolution

‘”A dramatic increase in the amount of time data can be stored on a single atom means silicon could once again play a vital role in the development of super-fast computers.

[…] While modern computers use these silicon chips (or integrated circuits) to perform an array of complex calculations, there are still some important problems that existing computers can’t solve.

For example, medical researchers would love to be able to invent new pharmaceuticals with computer-aided design, much like the way automotive engineers design new cars, but they cannot do this today.

The reason is that the molecules that make up the medicine are not “macro” objects, like a car, but they live in the “micro” or quantum world, which is far more complex to calculate.

In fact, no computer as we know it today will ever be able to properly design such molecular systems. So we must turn to a new type of computer – a quantum computer – in which the “bits” of data used for the calculations are themselves stored on quantum particles, like individual atoms, or electrons.

Such quantum computers are also expected to be able to solve other important problems, such as searching large data sets, or solving complex financial problems.”

Yale Experiment Brings Quantum Computing One Step Closer

“A famous mind experiment by the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger describes the existential mystery of a cat that is both alive and dead depending on whether you open the box where it sits with some things that can kill it. This strange thought has been used as a way to explain the paradox of quantum superposition, a key concept in quantum physics, which states that a particle can exist in many possible states at the same time and only measurement and observation will lock it into a particular state (like opening the box to see if the cat is alive or dead). And now this popular topic of mind-bending conversations has found a real-world application. Yale researchers made a device that shows that a particle can actually be in two states at once.

No, the device doesn’t involve putting a cat in a box with poison and radioactive materials. Taking their cue from Schrödinger, the scientists are talking about a “cat state“. They created a device where the “cat” lives or dies in two boxes at once, which combines the superposition paradox with another quantum concept  – “entanglement“. The idea of “entanglement”, which Einstein rather poetically called “spooky action at a distance“, allows local observation of a state to instantaneously influence a distant object.”

The Computers of Our Wildest Dreams

“Quantum computing promises processing speeds and heft that seem unimaginable by today’s standards. A working quantum computer—linked up to surveillance technology, let’s say—might be able to instantly identify a single individual in real-time by combing through a database that includes billions of faces. Such a computer might also be able to simulate a complex chemical reaction, or crack through the toughest encryption tools in existence. (There’s an entire field of study dedicated to post-quantum cryptography. It’s based on writing algorithms that could withstand an attack by a quantum computer. People still aren’t sure if such security is even possible, which means quantum computing could wreak havoc on global financial systems, governments, and other institutions.)

It’s often said that a working quantum computer would take days to solve a problem that a classical computer would take millions of years to sort through. Now, theoretical ideas about the development of such machines—long relegated to the realm of mathematical formula—are being turned into computer chips.”

Quantum Monkeys

“It’s no secret that we’re in the middle of an information-processing revolution. Electronic and optical methods of storing, processing, and communicating information have advanced exponentially over the last half-century. In the case of computational power this rapid advance known as Moore’s Law. In the 1960s, Gordon Moore, the ex-president of Intel, pointed out that the components of computers were halving in size every year or two, and consequently, the power of computers was doubling at the same rate. Moore’s law has continued to hold to the present day. As a result these machines that we make, these human artifacts, are on the verge of becoming more powerful than human beings themselves in terms of raw information processing power. If you count the elementary computational events that occur in the brain or in the computer—bits flipping, synapses firing—the computer is likely to overtake the brain in terms of bits flipped per second in the next couple of decades.

We shouldn’t be too concerned, though. For computers to become smarter than us is not really a hardware problem; it’s more a software issue. Software evolves much more slowly than hardware, and indeed much current software seems to be designed to junk up the beautiful machines that we build. The situation is like the Cambrian explosion, a rapid increase in the power of hardware. Who is smarter, humans or computers, is a question that will get sorted out some million years hence, maybe; maybe sooner. My guess would be that it will take hundreds or thousands of years until we actually get software that we could reasonably regard as useful and sophisticated. At the same time, we’re going to have computing machines that are much more powerful quite soon.

[…] The digital information-processing revolution is only the most recent revolution, and it’s by no means the greatest one. For instance, he invention of moveable type and the printing has had a much greater impact on human society so far than the electronic revolution. There have been many information processing revolutions. One of my favorites is the invention of the so-called Arabic—actually Babylonian—numbers, in particular, zero. This amazing invention, very useful in terms of processing and registering information, came from the ancient Babylonians and then moved to India. It came to us through the Arabs, which is why we call it the Arabic number system. The invention of zero allows us to write the number 10 as one zero. This apparently tiny step is in fact an incredible invention that has given rise to all sorts of mathematics, including the bits—the “binary digits”—of the digital computing revolution.”

Watch: Quantum computing explained in less than 2 minutes

 


“For decades now, scientists have been trying to figure out how we can use the enormous potential of quantum mechanics to build a whole new generation of computers. While your brand new iMac might run like a dream, it basically works the same as computers that were built 80 years ago – a series of electrical circuits that switch on and off on command. The problem with our current computers is that we’re close to hitting the limit for how advanced they can get, but the good news is we now have all the building blocks for a quantum computer, we just need to make it run.

 

 

 

21st Century Megacities : “Should I stay or should I go?”

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Speculative Design

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Speculative Everything

“Today designers often focus on making technology easy to use, sexy, and consumable. In Speculative Everything, Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby propose a kind of design that is used as a tool to create not only things but ideas. For them, design is a means of speculating about how things could be—to imagine possible futures. This is not the usual sort of predicting or forecasting, spotting trends and extrapolating; these kinds of predictions have been proven wrong, again and again. Instead, Dunne and Raby pose “what if” questions that are intended to open debate and discussion about the kind of future people want (and do not want).

Speculative Everything offers a tour through an emerging cultural landscape of design ideas, ideals, and approaches. Dunne and Raby cite examples from their own design and teaching and from other projects from fine art, design, architecture, cinema, and photography. They also draw on futurology, political theory, the philosophy of technology, and literary fiction. They show us, for example, ideas for a solar kitchen restaurant; a flypaper robotic clock; a menstruation machine; a cloud-seeding truck; a phantom-limb sensation recorder; and devices for food foraging that use the tools of synthetic biology. Dunne and Raby contend that if we speculate more—about everything—reality will become more malleable. The ideas freed by speculative design increase the odds of achieving desirable futures.”

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On Speculative Design

“Speculative Design (SD) understands itself as progressive alternative perspective to mainstream Design culture (and as an alternative to other alternatives as well).1 It knows that “Design” is not some magic way of thinking (involving stick-up notes, sharpies and colored beanbags) that just makes things better by “building trust,” “understanding the customer” or “getting a seat at the table” or similar. Design is also the means by which pathological relationships to material culture are made more efficient and more delightful, and we are worse for it. Some may even conclude that the job of Design in the 21st century is to undo (much of) the Design of 20th. It may also be to re-claim and re-launch other frustrated Modern impulses that were dry-docked by century’s end, not only designing things —widgets, withdrawn objects, manifest subjectivities, formal forms, etc.— but also designing the relations between them: systems, supply-chains, encounters, obligations, accounting protocols, and so on.

As an alternative perspective, speculation is not ephemeral or disengaged. The prevalence of models for risk patterns, ideal options, and plotted-outcomes underscores that speculation itself is not a supplemental or marginal process. It is less “airy-fairy” than it is nuts and bolts: whether for commodities and equities futures, automated A/B testing, enterprise reinsurance or weather forecasting, the global economy functions by speculative models of the near or long-term future.2 But if so does this disqualify the speculative from the figuring of fundamental alternatives? It does not. Instead of concluding that the future (and futurism per se) is lost it we should commandeer modeling infrastructures for better and more vibrant purposes. For this, speculative models are rotated from one purpose to another: less to predict what is most likely to happen (deriving value from advance simulation of given outcomes) than to search the space of actual possibility (even and especially beyond what any of us would conceive otherwise.)3 That is, predictive models are adaptive because they need to be descriptive, but for speculation, models are prescriptive because they need to become normative. Between them we track different uses for contingency, imminence, simulation, navigation, resistance, governmentality, universality, neutrality, etc.4 That is where Design becomes designation.5″

New-Territories

New-Territories is a site dedicated to : Research as Speculation / Fiction as Practice / Practice as LifeSpan.

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Speculative design: A design niche or a new tool for government innovation?

“Throughout the 20th century the definition of design and design methodologies has evolved beyond just products and buildings. Today, its fundamental value goes further than aesthetics and is focused on user-oriented problem solving approaches that are understood by wider audiences – including some government agencies.

While science aims to explain how things are, design aims to explore how things should be by finding a solution to a problem and improving the current status quo. The problem itself can be something concrete like an unergonomic chair. But, the problem can also be as substantial as a public transport infrastructure or how a business should plan its goals. At either end of the scale, the aim of a design process is always to improve the future, which is why the future is often a dominant factor in different design activities.

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The Personal Augmentation Spa, above, was the first part of the exhibition that took visitors into the year 2035. Photo courtesy of Museum of the Future/Tellart.

 

Designing futures

Critical design, especially speculative design and design fiction, raises various “what if?” questions about the future. What if there ought to be a change? What if we would change? What if things were different? By creating scenarios around these “what if” questions with tangible and realistic objects, designers can fabricate an experience of that possible future. Looking forwards in time allows us to imagine problems that might still be beneath the surface or factors that are unknown but plausible or possible, demonstrated in the Futures Cone diagram below As explained by Nesta’s Jess Bland in an earlier blog, we imagined the cone as a torch beam for our report Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow: A modest defence of futurology. Borrowing heavily from Joseph Voros’ version of the cone originally developed by Clem Bezold, the light beam is divided into probable, plausible and preferable futures (a distinction Voros attributes to an article from 1978 by Norman Henchley).

 

Uninvited Guests – Superflux

 

Speculative Design

“Speculative design is a branch of critical design in which designers imagine how the world could be based on probable scenarios of the future (also know as ‘what if’ scenarios). This imagination is then translated or depicted through various forms of media and design in order to convey the new perspective on the issue at hand. Living in a world where the rate of scientific breakthroughs, the shift of political powers, and the innovation of technological artefacts happen so fast that they outpace the human’s reflex time to sit back and analyze the changes these systems are bringing to the life we live in, speculative design comes into place and acts as catalyst for discussion about the kinds of futures people really want (rather than the future companies tries to bring forth with their consumer-based products).”

 

Technological Dreams Series: No.1, Robots – Dunne and Raby

The Future of the University: Speculative Design for Innovation in Higher Education

“To design means “to give form.” Usually the term “design” in relation to the University writ large describes the campus’s physical/architectural design. While what follows has a physical dimension, I am looking instead at the institutional and pedagogical form the University’s design might take. The nature of those designs shapes the behaviors of the students, faculty, and leadership; the curriculum; movement of knowledge, and kind of knowledge exchanged.

This exercise in speculative design — “speculating how things could be”2 — considers designs that critique our current moment but also suggest possibilities for what might be. Not all these designs are practical, but only in the sense that they challenge existing norms or would never pass regulatory muster, since they operate outside of and challenge those norms. But these designs also provide blueprints for new institutional forms (in at least one case, I am working to develop the design into an actual university), and there is no reason these speculative designs could not also be actualized.”

Speculative fiction

Speculative fiction is a fiction genre speculating about worlds that are unlike the real world in various important ways. In these contexts, it generally overlaps one or more of the following: science fiction, fantasy fiction, horror fiction, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history. It is often used as an umbrella term for science fiction and fantasy considered as a single genre.

The term is used this way in academic and ideological criticism of these genres, as well as by some readers, writers, and editors of these genres.

The term is often attributed to Robert A. Heinlein. Some readers and writers of science fiction see the term as insulting towards science fiction, and therefore as having negative connotations.

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Alternative Models and Modernities: The Past Present and Futures of Speculative Design 

‘”Speculative Design focuses on possibilities and potentials. It confronts an uncertain and ambiguous future and seeks to give it shape.

While Speculative Design teaches and uses Design best-practices and methodologies, its goals are more ambitious than traditional programs that focus on certain fixed outcomes. Instead of only optimizing what we do have, Speculative Design explores what we could have.

Today’s Designers need to be able to do more than solve known problems; they must be comfortable working with uncertain opportunities and capable of inventing the unexpected by giving form to the ingenious.

UCSDSD is based in the highly-ranked Department of Visual Arts, and builds on the rich interdisciplinary legacy of this program. It is also collaborative partner with UC San Diego’s world-class scientific and technological research platforms.

Four  areas  of  emphasis  for Speculative Design majors:
•      Public Culture  &  Urban  Ecology

•      Design Computing

•      Design Research

•      Media Design

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Speculative Designers

Dunne & Raby

“In opposition to the narrow role of consumer driven design in the development of existing and emerging technologies, design duo Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby use design as a tool to critique, discuss, debate and speculate. After 10 awe-inspiring years as Professor, Head of Programme and Reader on the renowned Design Interactions programme at the RCA, Dunne and Raby retired from their positions in 2015 leaving behind them a legacy of internationally recognised designers.

Currently, Dunne and Raby hold the positions of Professors of Design and Emerging Technology and Fellows of the Graduate Institute for Design Ethnography and Social Thought at The New School in New York where they continue to stimulate the minds of designers, industry and the public, investigating the social, cultural and ethical implications of technology by exploring parallel worlds and fictional futures in what Dunne and Raby refer to as ‘designed realities’.”

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Sarah Daher

It all came in different parts. Nature was always a fascination. As I grew up I saw how our technological development was disrespecting and abusing our natural environment. But technology also brought us so many unimaginable benefits. Therefore I started to question; how the same technology that we use to dominate the natural environment could be used to empower and to improve nature?

The scientific aspect came when I first saw Stephano Mancuso talking about plant intelligence. Then I found the scientific field of Plant Signaling and Behaviour, and what first started as a personal interest, suddenly became inseparable of my creative practice; a never-ending source of inspiration. Nevertheless, this is a conflictive practice. Knowing that plants communicate and even have some sort of intelligence shakes the physical and biological bridges we have built to separate us from them. It involves many cultural and philosophical values that shape our perception of the vegetal kingdom.

That’s why design, as an in between practice, can intermediate and through scientific research question this ingrained values acting as a changing factor in reality. By envisioning possible futures design can trigger our imagination and stimulate a different perception of reality.

Jinhee Park

Jinhee Park is a designer and artist, student from RCA Design Interactions MA, whose designs explore issues around our day-to-day life. Memory and perception are also questions that she addresses with her work.

For her project, The Breast Milk Fruit, she devised an artificially created breast feeding organ, for mothers too old or too busy to breastfeed their babies. Like a sort of a mammary plant, engineered from the mother’s stem cells and hormones, protruding fruits resembling breast that can be harvested and used to nurture newborns.

In a smart and playful design, that deals with modern life concerns like issues around age and fertility as well as biotechnology and stems cells  Jinhee opens another door for our improved futures.

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Why Today’s Inventors Need to Read More Science Fiction

“How will police use a gun that immobilizes its target but does not kill? What would people do with a device that could provide them with any mood they desire? What are the consequences of a massive, instant global communications network?

Such questions are relevant to many technologies on the market today, but their first iterations appeared not in lab prototypes but in the pages of science fiction.

This fall, MIT Media Lab researchers Dan Novy and Sophia Brueckner are teaching “Science Fiction to Science Fabrication,” aka “Pulp to Prototype,” a course that mines these “fantastic imaginings of the future” for analysis of our very real present. Over email, I asked Novy and Brueckner about the books they’ll be teaching, the inventions that found their antecedents in those pages, and why Novy and Brueckner believe it is so important for designers working in the very real world to study the imaginary. An edited transcript of our correspondence follows.”

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The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination

“The University of California, San Diego and the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation have launched a new center to understand, enhance and enact the gift of human imagination. The mission of the Center is to help society become more effective at harnessing imagination. This pursuit will bring together the inventive power of science and technology, with the critical analysis of the humanities, and the expressive insight of the arts.”

HYPERSTITION – Truth is Science is Fiction.

HYPERSTITION: A film on time and narrative. Of thoughts and images. On plants and the outside. Abduction and Recursion. Yoctoseconds and Platonia. Plots and anaerobic organisms. About the movement of thinking and philosophy in anthropology, art, design, economy, linguistics, mathematics, and politics. And back into abstraction.

“You’re always at the beginning and always at the end.” (Ray Brassier) HYPERSTITION: The retooling of philosophy and political theory for the 21st Century.

Featuring: Armen Avanessian, Elie Ayache, Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant, Helen Hester, Deneb Kozikoski, Robin Mackay, Steven Shaviro, Benedict Singleton, Nick Srnicek, Christopher Kulendran Thomas, Agatha Wara, Pete Wolfendale, and Suhail Malik in 2026.

Appearances: Georg Diez, Anke Hennig, Tom Lamberty, Nick Land, Quentin Meillassoux, Reza Negarestani, Björn Quiring, Patricia Reed, Tom Streidl, James Trafford, Jeanne Tremsal, Alex Williams, and Slavoj Žižek.

 

 

Iris van Herpen

“The unreality of seeing.

For her LUCID collection, presented in Paris on March 8th, 2016, the Dutch designer Iris van Herpen explores the concept of lucid dreaming. Within a lucid dream, the dreamer is conscious of the dream state and therefore is able to exert a degree of control on what is happening.

“When I design, the draping process most of the time happens to me unconsciously. I see lucid dreams as a microscope with which I can look into my unconsciousness. In this collection, I have tried to bring my state of ‘reality’ and my state of dreaming, together,” notes the designer.

Both the models and the audience are mirrored as one in the show space, creating a close-up and intimate experience that is amplified by seventeen large optical light screens (OLF). Depending on the viewing angle, movement and proximity to the sheets, the perception of the audience that view the models is continuously shifted and deluded to reflect the fine line between reality and unreality. The visual alienation of the OLF was influential to van Herpen her design process.”

 

 

Speculative Music and Harmony of the Spheres

“With recent advances in brain imaging over just the past 10 years we know now that music is processed differently than spoken language. It is also not simply mathematics, nor physics alone, but in some ways it is a synthesis of all these things.  That is part of music’s incredible power, to synthesize so many ways of knowing into a holistic experience, such as what happens as we learn to play or even when simply listening.

“There is a principle in music which has yet to be discovered.”  – Sir John Herschel

The centuries old art and science of ‘speculative music’ involves seeing music in cosmic terms, and seeing the cosmos in musical terms.  This has been an active field of study in Europe for many years, centuries. For example the Pythagorean science of musical intervalic ratios considered beautiful or harmonius brought about the first major breakthrough in mathematics as relevant to understanding the proportions that seem to be at work in nature, man and the cosmos. This would eventually lead to astronomer Johannes Kepler’s Harmonices Mundi, The Harmony of the Worlds in 1619 and his Planetary Songs, which  had some historical precedence in Arab astronmy and elsewhere.”

Tradition and Innovation: Speculative Music and the Hexadic System

 

 

 

 

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Utopias / 2. Solarpunks

The Fountain of Youth is Drying (!?!)

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Disruptive Demographics and the Future of the World Population Until 2060

“Disruptive forces are growing in complexity, velocity and impact. One of the slower moving forces is demographics and this force is now a growing tsunami which will crash on the shores of both developed and developing economies. No region or country will be immune to the impact of demographic disruption over the next 50 years. We are entering a period unlike anything ever experienced before in the history of humanity.

[…] This is a brave new world and when it comes to demographics the future is happening right in front of us. Demographics is a trend that can be accurately tracked and projections easily made. Alarmingly though, the implications of changing demographics as a disruptive force is often overlooked by business leaders. This is a concern because as there are growing challenges there are also opportunities for astute future facing leaders who understand how disruptive demographics will impact their business models as well as their markets to make considerable gains.”

Will 90 Become The New 60?

“Immortality: Trust us, you wouldn’t like it.

It’s a comforting message, in a sour-grapes sort of way. It sounds wise and mature, suggesting that we put aside childish dreams and accept once and for all that there can be no vital Veg-O-Matic that slices mortality and dices infirmity. Gerontologists like it, being particularly eager to put on a respectable front and escape the whiff of snake oil that clings to the field of life extension.

In 1946 the newly founded Gerontological Society of America cited, in the first article of the first issue of its Journal of Gerontology, the need to concern ourselves to add “not more years to life, but more life to years.” The dictum was famously sharpened 15 years later by Robert Kennedy when he told the delegates at the first White House Conference on Aging “We have added years to life; it is time to think about how we add life to years.” Political theorist and futurist Francis Fukuyama was particularly eloquent but hardly alone when he warned two decades ago that if we maintain our obsession with extending life at all costs, society may “increasingly come to resemble a giant nursing home.”’

Millennials are old news; meet The Midults

“A new media brand launching this week, The Midult, believes it has the answer: the neglected 35- to 55-year-old female demographic, AKA the Midults.

They are successful, digitally-literate Generation X-ers who are bored by Agas, obsessed with Instagram and boast a large disposable income. Crucially, their motivations and desires are misunderstood or completely ignored by many of the brands they naturally gravitate to.”

Robots are ready and welcome to assist the elderly

“If you were given the option of robotic or human help to perform mundane household tasks, which would you choose?

According to a study by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States, a surprising number of people aged 65 to 93 years would opt for the former. While they still preferred human care for personal tasks, such as bathing, dressing and eating, participants who were shown a video of a robot’s capabilities would be happy to let a machine clean the kitchen, do laundry or take out the trash.

With the World Health Organisation predicting that by 2050, 22 per cent of the world’s population will be 60-plus years old, scientists in tech labs all over the globe are trying to figure out what role robotics may play in the home of the future, especially those of the elderly.”

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Forget Millennials—Why You Should Hire Someone Over 55

“The senior director of content at NerdWallet, a San Francisco-based financial information website, has made a point of seeking out experienced hires since she joined the company in 2013. She was “immediately at least 15 years older than most people” at the roughly 50-person firm, which has since grown to more than 300 people.

“When considering applicants, we look for candidates with experience at outlets with high standards. This tends to include older people, because they often spent years working to reach that level,” she says. Since her arrival, Leung has added about a dozen people over age 55 to her team.”

MIT’s Invisible Second Skin Cream Makes Wrinkles Disappear

“Every cosmetics company on the planet has a product it claims will reduce wrinkles and erase the signs of aging, but researchers at MIT have developed a genuine facelift-in-a-tube with a new cream that creates an extra layer of invisible artificial skin to smooth out the wearer’s natural skin.

Researchers at MIT and Harvard developed the underlying science for the material, and a private biotechnology company called Living Proof manufactured the film itself. The so-called XPL (short for cross-linked polymer layer) is applied in a simple two-step process that creates rather miraculous results. The first layer is made up of polysiloxane components, while the second is a platinum catalyst that causes those polymers in the first to connect and form a strong film that can withstand washing and other wear and tear, for up to 24 hours. The research was published today in Nature Materials.”

 

 

The policy of aging and death

“In discussions of scientific research, the topics of science policy and advocacy—the means of funding, regulating, and spreading scientific advances to the general public—are often neglected. Last month at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Public Advocacy Forum “Policy Implications for the Science of Aging and End of Life,” these issues were front and center. The forum included a diverse panel addressing economic and public health policy issues surrounding aging and death.

In a press release last month, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging warned of an “imminent national crisis” in our ability to support the rapidly growing older (aged 65 years+) population in the U.S. Recent cuts in federal funding stand to worsen conditions for the already vulnerable group. With the global 65+ population now at the largest percentage of total population in history, and steadily increasing, efforts are in place in the U.S. and around the world to invest in the health and independence of an older global community.”

Is this the future of elderly care? Clever droids look after lonely pensioners at Chinese care home – by feeding them medicine and singing them opera

“A nursing home for the elderly has introduced fully-automated robotic assistants to provide a variety of useful services for the grateful residents.

The fleet of cute droids arrived at the home in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, east China and impressed the elderly guests with their uses, reported People’s Daily Online.

Their remarkable range of functions the robots, given the name ‘Little Iron’, include the ability to monitor life vitals, converse with residents and dish out medicine.”

Ageism and Creativity

“Psychologists generally consider creativity to be the domain of the young. In this they have followed the lead of Harvey Lehman, who in 1953 conceded that “the old usually possess greater wisdom and erudition,” but claimed that “when a situation requires a new way of looking at things…the old seem stereotyped and rigid.”

Lehman and his successors are guilty of ageism: in this case, a mistaken belief that creativity is inversely related to age. Mark Twain knew better. For Twain, experience was what brought fiction to life, and could only be the product of deep knowledge of a subject: “Almost the whole capital of the novelist is the slow accumulation of unconscious observation.” The writer also needed experience of his craft: “Every man must learn his trade…by slow and painful processes.” The novelist Wright Morris compared Twain’s growth to the skill of a ship’s captain, observing that he “learned to write the way a river pilot learns the feel of a channel.”

Human Longevity Inc can use only DNA to accurately predict what you look and sound like

“One of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies has launched a massive effort to compile genome sequences and health records from two million people over the next decade. In doing so, AstraZeneca and its collaborators hope to unearth rare genetic sequences that are associated with disease and with responses to treatment.

It’s an unprecedented number of participants for this type of study, says Ruth March, vice-president and head of personalized health care and biomarkers at AstraZeneca, which is headquartered in London. “That’s necessary because we’re going to be looking for very rare differences among individuals.”

To achieve that ambitious goal, AstraZeneca will partner with research institutions including the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, UK, and Human Longevity, a biotechnology company founded in San Diego, California, by genomics pioneer Craig Venter. AstraZeneca also expects to draw on data from 500,000 participants in its own clinical trials, and medical samples that it has accrued over the past 15 years.”

Aging in America: The Two Cultures

“Back in pre-disruptive times, aging for professionals was a predictable experience: We retired. That was it. If we still talked about working we were written off as living in the past. Neighbors rolled their eyes. Then ducked us. After all, we were making a poor adjustment to the golden years.

That was then.

Aging & Working

Now, so many of us aging have the financial pressure to continue working. There is the real possibility that we will run out of money. It’s shrewd to scramble to prevent that by ensuring earned income continues to come in.

In addition, we have witnessed how the retired become invisible and isolated. At social events, the glad-handing is with those still in the game. This is capitalism. You are what you do. The exceptions are those with great personal wealth who can maintain an identity of philanthropist or socialite.

The Anti-Aging Manifesto

“A spectre is haunting the human race — the spectre of aging. It has reigned for so long that something even worse has happened…we truly believe it is unbeatable. We truly believe everyone must die one day and almost everyone before 100 years old. It has gotten even worse than that. It is so bad, some of us even believe there is something noble and necessary about dying. We speak of overcrowding and limited resources. It is not the fact that death is relentless and we can’t beat it, it is actually that we NEED death and it is a good thing for the survival of the human race. With this mentality, it indeed cannot get any worse than this.

Scientifically it will be very difficult to defeat aging and age related degeneration of our bodies and eventually death. However, we have the scientific tools, resources, and right people to work on anti-aging. Most importantly, we must first start with changing our attitude towards aging and death, as a society. We must separate some key concepts. Experience is great. Aging is not. Older people are great. The fact that they need to get much older is not. This is not about physical appearance. Anti-aging is about being able to enjoy life at full capacity for as long as you want.”

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foto: http://www.advanced.style/

 

Human Longevity Just Got Some Serious Investment

“Human Longevity, Inc. (HLI), a company creating the world’s largest and most comprehensive database of whole genome, phenotype and clinical data, has completed its offering of Series B Preferred Stock, where it raised more than $220 million. It has previously raised $80 million in its Series A offering, which closed in Summer 2014.

Those who took part in the Series B financing of the company include Illumina, Celgene, GE Ventures, and Series A investors from all over the world based in the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Mexico, Australia, Kuwait, Hong Kong, and China, in addition to the US.”

7 Tough Questions You Should Ask Your Aging Parents

“Talking about the future can be hard. It can evoke anxiety in even the most calm of us when we start to think about all the unknowns and all the things that might happen. These discussions can get even harder when it’s not our future we’re talking about, but rather someone else’s. However difficult it may be, there are some questions that we need to have answers to when it comes to our aging parents and it is wise to have these conversations sooner rather than later. In this vein, here are 7 questions that you should talk to your aging parents about as soon as you can.”

The Struggle to Promote Family in an Aging Europe

Europe is facing an incredible challenge, evident in the demographic trends for decades now: our societies are aging. The equation is this simple: fewer people are born in most countries of Europe than die each year. Hungary is no exception.

To address the issues of Europe’s aging and population decline, 50 experts from around the world met up in Hungary earlier this month at the Budapest Demographic Forum. All of them emphasized the importance of traditional families in combating our continent’s demographic time bomb.”

Prolonging Independence: Aging at Home

“As family ties in the western world weaken, elders age alone. With age come mild conditions that render personal care increasingly difficult. The traditional solutions involve either retirement homes, or having a care provider at home. In addition, systems appear that provide e-care at home.

Retirement homes offer many advantages. They make the lives of elderly people more enjoyable by offering around the clock supervision, expert on-site medical care and individualized help with daily needs. They provide a structured environment, with a daily schedule for normal life, which is especially needed if the care recipient is mentally or physically disabled. The care recipients remain as independent as possible, keeping on with their usual independent life style. Finally, they help the families deal with the logistics of elderly care, without having to disrupt their lives. On the other hand retirement homes can be quite expensive and may not be covered by insurance policies. There are quality issues with the staff being under-qualified or unwilling to work closely with the families. Finally there are acceptance problems from the care recipient side, with the elderly being reluctant to change environment (home, neighborhood and friends), facing strained personal relations in the retirement home and feeling neglected by their families.”

Nova maneira de medir a idade mostra que idosos pensam e reagem cada vez mais rápido

“Dois estudos publicados recentemente mostram que homens e mulheres com mais de 50 anos apresentam desempenho cada vez melhor em testes de função cognitiva (avaliam aprendizagem, memória e velocidade do raciocínio, por exemplo) do que pessoas da mesma idade no passado.

Os pesquisadores acreditam que essa tendência pode estar associada a taxas maiores de indivíduos que cursam o ensino superior e ao crescimento do uso da tecnologia na vida diária. O trabalho foi publicado na revista científica PloS ONE. 

A conclusão está baseada em dados obtidos na Alemanha por um estudo que mensurou a velocidade de processamento cognitivo, aptidão física e saúde mental primeiramente em 2006 e depois em 2012. Foram analisados indivíduos saudáveis.

O que os pesquisadores viram foi um aumento significativo dos bons resultados em seis anos para homens e mulheres com idade entre 50 a 90 anos. No entanto, a saúde física e mental principalmente entre homens com baixa escolaridade e idade entre 50 e 64 anos.”

Robots serve elderly in E China nursing home

“In the Hangzhou City social welfare center in east China’s Zhejiang Province, five robots remind 1,300 seniors when to take their medicine.

“The average age of these seniors is over 84,” Zhao Huming, vice director of the center, told Xinhua on Wednesday. “They often forget to take their medicine, or they take it twice.”

The robots are programmed to “remember” medication schedules for seniors and nursing home workers. They send messages to remind them when it is time to take the pills.

“They make our work a lot easier,” Zhao said.

The robots were developed by Woosiyuan Telecom Technology Co. Ltd. and are in trial operation. The “A-Tie” robots, whose name literally means “iron,” are 0.8 meters tall and weigh 15 kilograms, similar to a two- or three-year-old human. They have round bodies and heads sprouting two antennae.

The robots are controlled by mobile phone app or touch screens, and they can do much more than remind patients to take their medicine. They can be used to make video calls, virtual consultations, or watch television.”

Revolution Aging

“The U.S. population will radically grow older over the next decades. Much of this aging is due to the baby boom generation moving into the ranks of the 65 and over population. As we near 2050, we expect that the oldest age categories will grow in both: numbers and proportions.

In 15 years, the number of seniors will double (100% growth)

This changing age structure of the population will radically change our society because we will see people in large numbers that have needs that our current system is not able to match. We will have more people that need (and deserve) help to engage with their communities and some assistance to live happy and healthy as they age.”

You Say You Want an Aging Revolution?

“Back in June 2000, I grabbed the newest issue of TIME magazine from an airport newsstand. One of the articles teased on the cover had an arresting title: “Twilight of the Boomers.”

The generation at that point ranged in age from 36 to 54.

Twilight? Really?

Boomers were then in the peak years of middle age, hardly time for a twilight. I kept reading to discover one disparaging assertion after another.

Daniel Okrent, the author, had written a jeremiad insisting that Boomers had nothing left to anticipate but a teeth-chattering downhill thrill ride. In a baby buggy. To oblivion.

Sixteen years later, the aging of the Boomer generation continues to inspire critics, cynics, and doomsayers as acknowledged by a continuing parade of media articles brimming with disaster forecasts.”

Anti-ageing breakthrough as scientists find enzyme for youthful skin

“Powerful anti-ageing treatments which banish wrinkles for good are a step closer after scientists found the enzyme responsible for youthful skin

For the first time, scientists at Newcastle University have discovered that ‘mitochondrial complex II’ stops working properly as people grow older.

The enzyme is found in the batteries of cells – the mitochondria – and is crucial for keeping skin smooth, supple and plumped up.

Now that they know what is responsible for youthful skin, scientists believe they will be able to create treatments and cosmetics which increase the activity of the enzyme, and restore lost vitality.”

Brasil não se preparou para cuidar da população idosa, diz geriatra

“O Brasil não se preparou para o envelhecimento de sua população e não tem estruturas adequadas para garantir dignidade e autonomia aos idosos, de acordo com avaliação da presidenta do Departamento de Gerontologia da Sociedade Brasileira de Geriatria e Gerontologia, Maria Angélica Sanchez. Ela alerta que um dos reflexos da falta de condições adequadas de moradia e de sobrevivência são os episódios de agressão aos mais velhos.

De acordo com ela, não faltam políticas brasileiras para garantir o bem-estar do idoso. No entanto, leis como a Política Nacional do Idoso, de 1994, e o Estatuto do Idoso, de 2003, não foram colocadas em prática pelos governos municipais, estaduais e federal.

“No Brasil, o arcabouço legal é avançado, mas o país envelheceu sem estar preparado”, disse Maria Angélica à Agência Brasil nesta segunda-feira (15), quando se comemora o Dia Mundial de Combate à Violência contra o Idoso.”

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Why Baby Boomers Refuse To Retire

“Five years ago, in 2011, the first wave of the oldest U.S. baby boomers reached the common retirement age of 65. Since then, another 10,000 each day continue to reach this stage in their lives. The U.S. Census Bureau calculates that by 2020, 55.9 million people in the U.S. will be age 65 or older, and by 2030, that number will reach 72.7 million.

How will all these aging boomers thrive in the 21st century? According to many experts on aging, it’s increasingly by staying in the workforce, at the very least on a part-time basis. As noted by Gallup in their “Many Baby Boomers Reluctant to Retire” report, “Nearly half of boomers still working say they don’t expect to retire until they are 66 or older, including one in 10 who predict they will never retire.”

Japanese ‘robot with a heart’ will care for the elderly and children

“Japanese technology giant SoftBank has unveiled a robot they claim is capable of understanding human emotions using an “emotional engine” and cloud-based AI.

Standing roughly a metre tall with a tablet computer fixed to its chest, ‘Pepper’ will go on sale to the public next year for 198,000 yen (£1,150), with its creators hoping it will be using in a range of roles from caring from the elderly to baby-sitting.

“People describe others as being robots because they have no emotions, no heart. For the first time in human history, we’re giving a robot a heart,” SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said at a news conference.”

This cuddly Japanese robot bear could be the future of elderly care

“Deep in the bowels of a secluded facility outside the central Japanese city of Nagoya, a team of dedicated researchers has been working on a monster. It’s a primal, animalistic robot that uses advanced technology to power its intelligent vision, flexible movement, and giant arms strong enough to lift a human right off the ground. It could have profound implications for the relationship between man and machine.

But perhaps most importantly, it is very cute.

Meet Robear. It’s a high-tech teddy with a mission: helping make elderly care much easier in the future.”

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Why Robots Are the Future of Elder Care

“It’s no secret that Japan is facing severe socio-economic pressures due to its aging, shrinking population. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the field of elder care. Many in the nation are aging out of their working years, without enough children born to replace them in the workforce. This means elder care will require an increasing amount of resources and workers out of a progressively smaller total pool. As of 2012, 22 percent of Japan was already over 65 and by 2060 the government expects the population to shrink from 127 million people to 87 million, as the over-65 demographic grows to almost 40 percent of the nation. In 2010, Japan already had 30 million elderly and infirm individuals in care facilities, but had substantially fewer than the projected 2 million caregivers needed to look after them—and turnover amongst those employees was already 17 percent per year.”

It’s time to measure 21st century aging with 21st century tools

“The populations of most countries of the world are aging, prompting a deluge of news stories about slower economic growth, reduced labor force participation, looming pension crises, exploding health care costs and the reduced productivity and cognitive functioning of the elderly.

These stories are dire, in part because the most widely used measure of aging – the old-age dependency ratio, which measures the number of older dependents relative to working-age people – was developed a century ago and implies the consequences of aging will be much worse than they are likely to be. On top of that, this ratio is used in political and economic discussions of topics such as health care costs and the pension burden – things it was not designed to address.

Turning 65 in 2016 doesn’t mean the same thing as hitting 65 in 1916. So instead of relying on the old-age dependency ratio to figure out the impact of aging, we propose using a series of new measures that take changes in life expectancy, labor participation and health spending into account. When you take these new realities into account, the picture looks a lot brighter.”

O preço da velhice no Brasil (II)

“Nove milhões de idosos foram incluídos na sociedade brasileira no espaço de tempo da última década. É muita coisa. Neste período, inúmeras iniciativas foram tomadas pelo estado e são bem-vindas. “Mas ainda há um descompasso entre elas e a realidade”, diz, com razão, o médico Renato Veras, especialista em envelhecimento da população, idealizador e diretor-geral da Universidade da Terceira Idade (Unati), da Uerj, com mais de dois mil alunos maiores de 60 anos de idade e com cursos para cuidadores de idosos e outros profissionais da área. Para Veras, a situação de vulnerabilidade dos mais velhos, hoje, é até mais complexa do que antes, quando eles eram praticamente invisíveis aos olhos do estado. Hoje, há menos nascimentos e as mortes são adiadas. O número de contribuintes diminui e o de beneficiários aumenta enquanto o país tem 24,85 milhões de brasileiros com mais de 50 anos de idade.”

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Gene linked to youthful appearance may help solve ageing puzzle

“How long you live depends in part on the genes you inherit. For example, those suffering from Werner’s syndrome have inherited two defective copies of a gene coding for an enzyme that is involved in DNA replication and repair.

A lack of this enzyme produces premature cell senescence – the build up of dysfunctional cells as we age which causes damage to tissue – and elevated levels of inflammatory proteins. The end result is the early development of many conditions seen in older people, such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, grey hair, wrinkled skin and shrinkage of the thymus. Werner’s syndrome is perhaps the nearest thing we will ever see to true accelerated ageing.”

Se você parece mais velho, a culpa é sua

“Cada vez que me dizem que sou muito velho para fazer alguma coisa, faço imediatamente”, disse Picasso, que morreu com mais de 90 anos em plena capacidade criativa. Talvez, sem sabê-lo, tenha colocado em prática uma das maneiras mais eficazes de lutar contra a deterioração da idade: manter-se ativo. Hoje, ser nonagenário já não é excepcional; e dentro de 30 anos será normal. Impulsionada pela necessidade psicológica e física de se chegar à velhice sem decrepitude e escorada por novas modalidades científicas, a medicina antiaging é sem dúvida a rainha das terapias do novo século. Mas funciona? Conseguiremos ser jovens com 80 anos, parar o envelhecimento?

Durante os séculos, a busca da eterna juventude tem sido uma constante em todas as civilizações, mas todos as tentativas foram em vão. A imortalidade não é humana. Hoje, o realismo científico tomou o lugar da magia de antigamente, mas a busca continua. Pesquisadores de todas as vertentes tentam encontrar o gene ou genes da longevidade, descobrir o porquê da deterioração física e mental, decifrar a bioquímica hormonal e explicar as razões que irremediavelmente nos levam à morte. Envelhecer, por enquanto, não tem cura; entretanto, como disse o ator Martin Held, “todo mundo quer chegar à velhice, mas ninguém quer ser velho”. E diante da encantadora perspectiva de passar dos 80 trazida pela expectativa de vida ocidental, todas as áreas científicas envolvidas abriram um novo caminho de pesquisa no qual o estudo do envelhecimento é rei.”

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Japan offers us many lessons in embracing longevity

“Japan is famous for the longevity of its citizens. A quarter of its population is older than 65. That is a proportion that Australia is likely to reach only by 2056. Japan’s experience makes it an interesting example to learn from in the area of aged care.

In 2000, following a decade of stagnant growth, mounting public debt and skyrocketing hospitalisation, Japan introduced the Long-Term Care Insurance Scheme (LTCIS). This universal and compulsory scheme provides support to assess and deliver care through institutional or community-based services for all people over 65. It provides sufficient funds to allow everyone to age in place – even those in public housing and with late-onset dementia.

The scheme represents one of the boldest social democratic experiments in aged care policy in the last 30 years. Yet with bold experiments come surprises.”

Sustainable employment and the ageing workforce: lessons learned from the Dutch

“As populations in OECD countries continue rapidly to age, the increasing imbalance between those young enough to work and those old enough to receive the pension is sounding alarm bells. By 2050, the “old age support ratio” is expected to halve; in Australia there will be only 2.3 people of working age to support each person of retirement age.

Understandably, governments facing the fiscal nightmare of increasing pensions and decreasing revenue are trying to keep people in the workforce for longer. Policies that actively discourage early retirement by, for example, raising the pension age are common.

While there is little question that such policies are necessary from the economic standpoint, it is less certain that older people will stand to benefit from working longer, even if they are able to.”

DNA clock helps predict lifespan

Four independent studies tracked the lives of almost 5,000 older people for up to 14 years. Each person’s biological age was measured from a blood sample at the outset, and participants were followed up throughout the study.

Researchers found that the link between having a faster-running biological clock and early death held true even after accounting for other factors such as smoking, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Dr Riccardo Marioni of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, said “The same results in four studies indicated a link between the biological clock and deaths from all causes. At present, it is not clear what lifestyle or genetic factors influence a person’s biological age. We have several follow-up projects planned to investigate this in detail.”

The secret to staying young? Scientists boost lifespan of mice by deleting defective cells

“The ageing population is one of the greatest challenges facing society. More people are surviving to old age than ever before, but we currently lack the means to keep them healthy and independent. If a treatment existed to reduce sickness and death from ageing by 20% then between now and 2050, the US alone would save US$4 trillion on healthcare costs – enough money to give everyone on Earth clean drinking water for the next three decades.

However a landmark new study, published in Nature, raises hopes that such a treatment will be possible. The researchers managed to increase the lifespan of mice by an impressive 25% by deleting “senescent” cells, dysfunctional cells which build up as we age and cause damage to tissue. Crucially, the mice lived longer because they were healthier

The accidental discovery of how to stay young for longer

“Living longer usually means a longer dotage, but wouldn’t it be enticing to extend young adulthood instead? It’s such an appealing prospect that scientists who are announcing success with roundworms are keen to be clear they are a long way from achieving it in humans.

“We don’t want people to get the impression they can take the drug we used in our study to extend their own teens or early twenties,” says lead author Michael Petrascheck from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), California.

Velhice sem tabus: quase 3 milhões de idosos moram sozinhos no Brasil

“Os anos passam, a nossa pirâmide etária — aquela que mede a população por faixa etária e que tem na base os mais jovens — já está em vias de se tornar um retângulo e, ainda assim, envelhecer segue um tabu. Envelhecer livre e solitariamente, então, deve causar discussões quase tão inflamadas quanto o futebol. O que fazer com os idosos que, indo cada vez mais longe em seus aniversários e com saúde sobrando — graças aos avanços da medicina —, escolhem simplesmente seguir a vida sozinhos e independentes, ignorando os clichês de se abrigarem em asilos ou em quartos nas casas dos filhos? O assunto rende. O que é óbvio, embora às vezes difícil de enxergar, é que a velhice será cada vez mais uma realidade presente, basta acompanhar os cálculos sobre a expectativa de vida do homem. No último 2 de dezembro, o Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE) atualizou os dados: hoje, os brasileiros vivem, em média, 74,6 anos, exatamente cinco meses e 12 dias a mais que em 2011.”

Eternamente jovens?

“Qual é o maior fator de risco para contrair doenças mortais? O tabaco, a radiação ultravioleta do sol, o sedentarismo, encher-se de açúcar? Nada disso: é o envelhecimento. Por essa razão, e porque a expectativa média de vida está aumentando nos países ocidentais e nas potências emergentes, a Organização Mundial da Saúde (OMS) prevê que o número de pessoas que sofrem das doenças da idade —infarto, câncer e neurodegeneração— vai dobrar nas próximas duas décadas. Que vantagem tem, então, viver cada vez mais?

A pergunta esconde uma armadilha. A expectativa média de vida, de fato, está aumentando nos países ocidentais a uma taxa de dois anos e meio por década, 25 anos por século. Mas a principal causa disso são as melhoras progressivas no tratamento do infarto, que continua sendo o grande açougueiro das sociedades desenvolvidas. Como assinalou repetidamente Valentín Fuster, diretor do Centro Nacional de Pesquisas Cardiovasculares (CNIC), esses métodos são caros e pouco eficazes, porque raramente devolvem ao infartado a qualidade de vida que tinha antes. Nosso principal truque para viver mais não conduz a um futuro sustentável.”

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[…] lembre o que disse o filósofo suíço do século XIX, Henri-Frédéric Amiel: “Envelhecer é a obra-prima da vida”. Ou o que disse Chesterton: “Vou envelhecer para tudo, para o amor, para a mentira, mas nunca envelhecerei para o assombro”. E me permitam completar a citação amputada que ofereci de Borges no início: “Converter o ultraje dos anos em música, rumor e símbolo”. Longa vida ao leitor.

The “New Era” of Happiness

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ELAINE CONSTANTINE |  AUGUST 1999 (www.elaineconstantine.co.uk)

(ONLINE RESEARCH)

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The truth about Iceland happiness

“Several years back, I visited Iceland in the dead of winter. I was researching a book on global happiness, and the small Nordic nation intrigued me. What was this country, adrift in the freezing North Atlantic, doing perched atop the world’s happiness rankings?

[…] According to a recent United Nations report on world happiness, happiness is evenly distributed in Iceland. That is, most Icelanders are more or less equally happy, while in other nations – particularly those in the Middle East and Latin America – happiness levels vary tremendously. This is important because “new research suggests that people are significantly happier living in societies where there is less inequality of happiness.” In other words, we can achieve only so much happiness if our neighbours are miserable. Icelanders seem to intuitively recognise this essential truth.

[…] You see this sort of stubborn optimism at work every day in Iceland. You see it in the way people swim outdoors, year round, or how there is no stigma attached to abandoning a bad job or relationship. This resilience can also be found in the country’s rich literary culture, one that dates back to the old sagas – Viking tales of heroism in the face of adversity.”

Happiness is the new GDP

“Global policymakers are starting to take happiness seriously.

In March, the United Nations released its fourth World Happiness Report, ranking 156 nations on how close residents say they are to living the best life possible. The UN report features endless interesting tidbits: Scandinavians are consistently the happiest people on earth. India’s happiness has declined significantly since around 2006. Citizens of wealthy Qatar are much less happy than people in relatively impoverished Costa Rica.

To a growing number of economists and policymakers, statistics like these are much more than fun facts. They’re a source of guidance that, in some respects, can be more useful than our standard measure of economic success—GDP.”

The Social Construction of Stories – How Narratives Can Get in the Way of Being Happier

“[…] There are some very interesting intertemporal and interpersonal comparisons of happiness that raise a huge number of questions. Dealing with the intertemporal ones, that is, changes of happiness over time, and even whether happiness was something that people thought of as being something that they were motivated by or cared about in any sense. Feeling good, in whichever sense we try to capture and measure that is part of a desire in the human condition. No one would knowingly seek out misery. Of course, we make all sorts of mistakes, especially when you add purpose into the mix. There’re lots of things that we do that might not be particularly pleasurable, but they give our experiences value and worth.

We’re driven and motivated, across generations and across time, to seek out things that we at least think will make us feel better rather than worse. I don’t think that’s ever changed. What has changed is the language that we might use to reflect and represent that. The avoidance of suffering and misery may have been language that we used more frequently in the past, and the celebration of happiness and flourishing might be language that would use now, but the basic desire and motivation for action hasn’t changed.

The international and interpersonal comparisons issue is an interesting one. I’m not particularly interested in international comparisons of happiness data. I don’t think it tells us very much. You can’t translate the word into some languages. It has very different meanings if you can translate it. There’s a whole range of cultural effects in the self-reporting of the data, which leads me to conclude that people are making quite a big deal of something that is problematic.”

Why We Need To Be Optimistic About Politics

“[…] The field of positive psychology has roots that stretch back to the early 20th century. But it became prominent only in the last twenty years or so once psychologist Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association and University of Pennsylvania professor, took up the cause of improving our quality of life by focussing on personal development. Since the late-1990s, positive psychology has, to borrow a familiar word from the field itself, flourished.

[…] Students of positive psychology are concerned with the study of what makes people happy and what makes life worth living. They concern themselves with understanding satisfaction and how humans can develop long-term fulfillment. This approach to the study of psychology isn’t about quick fixes or off-the-shelf self-help truisms. And while questions about whether positive psychology is for everyone are far from answered, one takeaway from the field deserves to be take more seriously in the context of contemporary politics: learned optimism.

[…] Decades of research in psychology has led to the conclusion that how we conceive of and approach a problem matters. That finding applies to our day-to-day lives, but also to our political lives. Politics is an endeavor we all share, whether we approve of it or not. The quotation attributed to Pericles gets at the matter best: “Just because you don’t take an interest in politics doesn’t mean that politics won’t take an interest in you”. Challenges such as climate change, growing income disparity, overcrowded prisons, substance abuse, disease, and geopolitical instability are shared by the hyper-political and the avowed-apathetic alike (though I have never met the woman or man who truly identifies as among the latter), and the consequences of not addressing them, or addressing them poorly, will be escaped by few.

If our difficulties are indeed shared, if we can each play some role in addressing them, and, further, if an optimistic perspective can improve our chances of coming up with and implementing solutions, then our course of action seems obvious. We must begin the long, dedicated work of building better political selves. We must take on the task of bringing about what Aristotle called the virtuous life, what Nietzsche and Foucault conceived of as the arts of the self, and what we might just call self-work. Not only might this sunny approach make us all a bit happier, it might just save our lives.”

Happy and you know it? Understanding people’s experiences and perceptions of happiness

“Contemporary British and Western societies seem to have become increasingly preoccupied with happiness recently. Words and messages about happiness are commonplace in novels, films and pop songs; we are constantly exposed to images of a happy life, and we are surrounded by suggested routes that we can take in order to attempt to obtain one. Not only have we seen a proliferation of the self-help book industry in recent decades, but we also have available to us a range of websites, videos and mobile phone apps that can help to guide us in the direction of happiness and fulfilment. In addition, we have the option of being taken there by qualified experts through a vast range of yoga, meditation and mindfulness classes that are now on offer. National governments are also taking a keen interest in the happiness and wellbeing levels of their citizens. Indeed, in the UK, the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) ‘Measuring National Wellbeing’ programme, through which data of this sort are collected from a national sample of residents, is now well-established since its initial launch in 2010.

We have also witnessed a burgeoning of academic research on happiness and wellbeing in recent decades. Building on the existing philosophical literature on the topic, economists and psychologists have undertaken extensive research on both the key determinants, or causes, of happiness (see Layard 2005, for example) and on the brain functions that are required to experience it, as well as the mental, emotional and physical techniques that individuals can engage in to bring about increased feelings of happiness (see Seligman 2002). However, what has been missing from this body of research until recently has been an examination of the ways in which happiness is socially situated. In other words, how are people’s everyday experiences and perceptions of happiness shaped by and articulated via social norms and cultural ways of understanding the world?”

A economia e o paradoxo da felicidade

“A colonização do econômico, e neste do setor financeiro, sobre todas as dimensões da vida humana é que faz emergir a pergunta pela felicidade. O Paradoxo da Felicidade evidencia que não há uma relação direta entre o enriquecimento de um País e a felicidade de seu povo. Ou seja, erigir o Produto Interno Bruto – PIB – como categoria e critério de uma política econômica é um engano. Uma economia que está a serviço da sociedade e da pessoa humana, e não o contrário, exige outras categorias e critérios que levem em conta a felicidade dos seres humanos.”

The Three Types of Happiness

“Minimalism is hot, culturally, and for years, science has assured us that it was also the path to maximal bliss. The prevailing wisdom is that people who want the most happiness for their buck should buy experiences, not things. The idea is that the joy of an experience begins before it even starts, and continues when you look back on the fancy dinner/vacation/afternoon of LARPing fondly. Experiences provide, in other words, both more anticipatory happiness and afterglow happiness.

But a recent study complicates that picture, suggesting that sweaters and iPhones might make you just as happy, in a way, as cruises and concerts do. There is a third type of happiness—momentary happiness—and it tends to last longer with material goods because people use them for more time than they typically experience their experiences for.

For the study, published in Social Psychology and Personality Science, researchers Aaron Weidman and Elizabeth Dunn from the University of British Columbia gave 67 participants $20 to spend on either an experiential or material purchase of their choice, and then to report one experiential or material gift they had recently received. Then they quizzed them about their happiness levels through text messages and questionnaires.

Brasil inicia estudos para medir felicidade

“O que faz um país feliz? O crescimento econômico conta pontos, mas não é o único fator que contribui para o bem-estar da população.

Liberdade individual, família estável e boa saúde contribuem para a chamada Felicidade Interna Bruta, conceito que remonta à década de 1970 e agora surge como um dos temas da Rio+20, a conferência da ONU sobre desenvolvimento sustentável.

O lançamento do “Relatório da Felicidade Global“, em Nova York, reaqueceu a discussão. Coordenado pelo economista Jeffrey Sachs, especialista em combate à pobreza, o estudo fez um ranking dos países mais felizes do mundo.

O Brasil ocupa o 25º lugar. Dinamarca, Noruega, Finlândia e Holanda estão no topo. Entre os menos felizes estão Togo, Benim e Serra Leoa.”

Against Happiness

“THESE DAYS, feeling good is less of an individual aspiration than a cultural, social, and political obligation. As Slavoj Žižek has noted, Western subjects have little choice but to follow the cultural imperative to “Enjoy!” themselves. Pharrell Williams suggests contemporary experience leaves the individual feeling like “a hot air balloon that could go to space” since, he croons, “happiness is the truth.” In his recent book, The Happiness Industry, which examines the close links between capitalist culture and the world of psychology, William Davies describes the “limitless pursuit of self-optimization that counts for happiness in the age of neoliberalism.” In late capitalism, anything that stands in the way of positive thinking and its corollary, blissful consumption, is viewed with suspicion.”

Harvard Has a New Center for Happiness

“As two enormous, golden doors part, sunlight pours into an atrium filled with babies and puppies. Everyone is smiling. The air smells of freshly mown mint. Ripe avocados rain from the sky. (Somehow, they always miss the babies.) This is Harvard University’s new Center for Health and Happiness.

At least, this is how I imagine it could grow to look. At a launch ceremony on Friday, the Harvard School of Public Health announced a $21 million initial investment in the happiness center. Its goal is to promote the role of what’s broadly referred to as “positive psychological wellbeing” in bodily health.

[…] In recent years, psychologists have repeatedly found that people who have elevated senses of purpose in life do tend to live longer and experience less physical infirmity. Optimism and vitality also seem to be protective of physical health, adds Kubzansky.

These traits resonate with a trend called primordial prevention. As opposed to primary prevention (trying to intervene in a high-risk population before people actually develop a disease) or secondary prevention (trying to prevent complications and progression of disease among people who are already sick), primordial prevention looks at the risks of risks. That is, trying to prevent people from developing the risk factors in the first place. To do that, we need to know what allows people to attain and maintain health over the long term. This is where a person’s state of mind seems to factor most heavily.”

The Inequality of Happiness

“The World Happiness Report, that annual-ish ranker of the world’s chillest, smiliest, most satisfied countries (a contest in which Scandinavia regularly kicks the rest of the world’s teeth in), this year added a new dimension to its analysis: Inequality.

Normally we talk about inequality in terms of economics, disparities in income, the wealth of the 1 percent versus the wealth of the remaining 99, etc. But in this case “inequality” was a measure of the distribution of people’s answers to this question:

“Please imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?”

The normal world happiness ranking is based on each country’s average answer to that question. The top country by that measure was Denmark, with an average answer of 7.526, followed by Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Finland. (No surprise). The bottom five were Benin, Afghanistan, Togo, Syria, and Burundi in last place with an average answer of 2.905. The United States clocked in at number 13, with an average answer of 7.104.”

MARIADASDORES

Why So Many Smart People Aren’t Happy

“There are three things, once one’s basic needs are satisfied, that academic literature points to as the ingredients for happiness: having meaningful social relationships, being good at whatever it is one spends one’s days doing, and having the freedom to make life decisions independently.

But research into happiness has also yielded something a little less obvious: Being better educated, richer, or more accomplished doesn’t do much to predict whether someone will be happy. In fact, it might mean someone is less likely to be satisfied with life.

That second finding is the puzzle that Raj Raghunathan, a professor of marketing at The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business, tries to make sense of in his recent book, If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy? Raghunathan’s writing does fall under the category of self-help (with all of the pep talks and progress worksheets that that entails), but his commitment to scientific research serves as ballast for the genre’s more glib tendencies.”

Where Age Equals Happiness

‘“I’m nearly 70 years old, and I can tell you that bad things begin to happen as you get older,” said Angus Deaton, a professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University.

This is not, you may be thinking, particularly surprising information.

What is surprising, though, is that in terms of psychological well-being, a person’s later years—even with declining health, even in the face of ageism—tend to be some of their best.

In recent years, a growing body of research has supported the idea that well-being tends to follow a roughly U-shaped curve, peaking in youth and old age and bottoming out somewhere around a person’s 40s or 50s (demonstrated here with data from a 2010 study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences):

What’s behind the late-in-life upswing? “You accumulate emotional wisdom as you get older. You know, when you’re 25, you go on blind dates with people that, when you’re 50, you know to stay away from,” Deaton said. “You just learn how to live your life better.”

Getting Happier: Three Books on Happiness

“Social scientists have been studying happiness, or “well-being,” as it is sometimes called (we’ll see that they aren’t exactly the same thing), for decades. Most of the research involves giving people surveys designed to measure happiness and then correlating the results of those surveys with various features of people’s lives. There is research that compares people living in different societies, and that compares people of different socio-economic classes in the same society at a given moment in time, and there is research that assesses changes in happiness in a given society over extended periods of time. The aims of this research are both to describe patterns of happiness and to identify the determinants of happiness. There is good reason to care about this kind of research. Societies commit massive resources to improving the living conditions of their citizens, and research on happiness can help us decide whether those resources are being directed at the right things. Societies aim to increase collective welfare, but just what does welfare consist in? For the most part, under the sway of economic thinking, the aim of public policy has been to make a society more prosperous — to increase per capita GDP. The appeal of this goal is two-fold. First, it assumes that if people are richer, they will be freer as individuals to choose the objects and activities that serve their welfare. The state and its technocrats don’t have to choose for them. So wealth serves as a proxy for everything else. And second, GDP can be measured. But it doesn’t help much to pursue what you can measure if what you’re measuring is the wrong thing. It doesn’t help to get better at achieving goals if you’re achieving the wrong goals.”

Happiness vs. Now-ness

“Spinning your child in your arms, curling up in front of a glowing fire, or even just sipping a nice Cabernet may make you happy.  All sorts of different things bring us that warm feeling that puts a smile in our eyes.  We should be fortunate enough to have these experiences.

Happiness is important and we should all pursue it, and be free to pursue it, in our own ways.  I have no beef with happiness, or the pursuit of happiness. Really, I don’t.  It’s just that it’s not all we should pursue.

Happiness comes and happiness goes — It’s fleeting.

It’s not possible to be happy all of the time.  If it were, how would we know what happiness is?  At the very least we need states of non-happiness so that we have something for comparison.  Even if such a state were possible, it would probably not be very much fun.  Instead of living our lives in eternal bliss, we would all probably just melt into a state of ecstasy never to be seen or heard from again.

Instead of constantly trying to achieve a state of being that makes us happy we should try to tip the scales and spend more of our mental energy Living in the Now.”

“The Future of Happiness” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Page 623

Summary
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes how genetics relate to happiness and the future of genetic engineering in his essay “The Future of Happiness.” He introduces questions that will affect society within the next fifty years, including whether or not genetic engineering of children will benefit society, or how we can control it.

Rhetorical Analysis
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s essay “The Future of Happiness” explains the future of genetics and its effect on happiness. He begins with an analogy, comparing bio-genetics to the ancient methods of selective breeding and infanticide. This comparison helps the reader understand that this is not a new concept, but rather a new instrument. He continues with rhetorical questions, for example if genetic modification can benefit our future kids or society. He concludes with a simile, comparing evolution to a rocket flying through space. This comparison illustrates to readers that we are no longer controlled by evolution, but rather in control of it.

Argument
Are the breakthroughs in genetic engineering key to creating perfect people, or will it lead to our ultimate demise? Important decisions involving genetic engineering, including the answer to this question need to be addressed within the near future, according to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his essay “The Future of Happiness.” There is no question that parents want the best for their children, however this could become a problem with the advent of “designer babies” due to genetic modifications. If every child born has the best traits such as intelligence or happiness predetermined, human diversity will be seriously threatened or eliminated altogether.”

What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness

“What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? If you think it’s fame and money, you’re not alone – but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you’re mistaken. As the director of a 75-year-old study on adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. In this talk, he shares three important lessons learned from the study as well as some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life.”

A Future of Happiness, Tolerance, and Youth

“DUBAI – Over the past two weeks, I have heard and read many questions, comments, and news stories regarding recent changes to the government of the United Arab Emirates. Why, everyone seems to want to know, did we establish a Ministry of Happiness, Tolerance, and the Future, and why did we appoint a 22-year-old Minister of Youth?

The changes reflect what we have learned from events in our region over the past five years. In particular, we have learned that failure to respond effectively to the aspirations of young people, who represent more than half of the population in Arab countries, is like swimming against the tide. Without the energy and optimism of youth, societies cannot develop and grow; indeed, they are doomed.”

The Pursuit of Happiness Never Ends Well

“When most of us think about what makes us happy, we tend to focus on the “things” in life that we crave or long to possess. These things may be concrete consumables or they may be intangible resources, such as “time,” “inner peace,” or “true love.”

It is easier for some of us to create a list of what we want the world to give us than it is to think in terms of what we can give back to the world.

We live in a world of instant feedback and conspicuous consumption. It may be experienced firsthand through the “Buy Now” button on Amazon’s website or Netflix bingeing or through an obsession with reading or creating online reviews of products, films, and life, in general. It seems a little odd that we trust strangers’ opinions when we already know how much we might disagree with our own BFFs about favorite products.

It is amazing how many “things” everyone seems to have in their lives – and how many more things we might desire because we believe that they can make us feel even better about ourselves in relation to how we think others feel about us.

It is perhaps the paradoxical desire to divest to have more that has created the hot new trend for “tiny houses” or longing to live “off the grid,” (ironic, isn’t it, that we hear about these folks’ experiences online?), or the movement to make do in life with 100 possessions or less. Actually, now that a single Smart phone can do just about anything that we need doing – from finding our potential mate to preparing dinner via online ordering from nearby delivery places or keeping us from getting lost – making do with less isn’t as big a sacrifice, it seems, than it once might have been.

“Down-sizing,” “right-sizing,” or “de-cluttering” all reflect the same realization that is gaining momentum – possessions simply won’t bring lasting happiness to our lives.

The First World Happiness Report

“The first ever World Happiness Report has been published ahead of the UN’s High Level Meeting on Happiness and Wellbeing. The report features a detailed case study of Bhutan’s landmark Gross National Happiness Index including background to the concept of GNH, its grounding in Bhutanese culture and history, and how the concept is being operationalized in the form of the GNH Index in some novel and innovative ways.

Authored by Karma Ura, President of the Centre for Bhutan Studies, Sabina Alkire, Director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative and Tshoki Zangmo, Centre for Bhutan Studies, the case study presents the nine domains of the GNH Index, the results from the 2010 survey, analysis of who is happy, along with a focus on how to increase happiness, and an overview of the policy framework surrounding the GNH Index.

The report, published by the Earth Institute, Columbia University, reflects a new worldwide demand for more attention to happiness and absence of misery as criteria for government policy. It reviews the state of happiness in the world today and shows how the new science of happiness explains personal and national variations in happiness.”

Measuring wellbeing and happiness

“Nic Marks founded the Centre for Wellbeing at the London-based think tank New Economics Foundation and also more recently founded Happiness Works. Much of his work has focused on measuring wellbeing and happiness, as captured in his excellent talk from 2010.  When thinking about how a Transition initiative might measure the extent to which it is successfully helping to building wellbeing and happiness, he felt like the best place to start.

Building a movement for happiness

As is now well-understood, GNP (or GDP) is a poor indicator of wellbeing – it measures the churn of money in a society. It creates an upside-down world in which many bad things – oil spills, traffic accidents, cancer, etc. – are measured positively because money must be spent to alleviate them, while many things essential to wellbeing – housework, volunteering, natural beauty, good health, etc. – are not counted at all (prompting Kennedy’s comments). The Genuine Progress Indicators used in Vermont and Maryland are attempts to correct these clear design flaws in GDP.

Bhutan has brought leading experts in many disciplines from around the world to guide its progress toward its goal of Gross National Happiness. The country currently conducts bi-annual surveys to measure the wellbeing and happiness of its people, measuring progress in nine areas or “domains” of life considered especially important for happiness, including: physical health; mental health; education; quality of governance; social support and community vitality; environmental quality; time balance; access to arts, culture and recreation, and material wellbeing. In this model, material wellbeing – the primary goal of GDP – matters, but as only one of several important factors.”

What We Can Learn About Happiness From Economics

“Does money make you happy?

If you said no, you’re wrong. According to every metric, the wealthiest people in society are the happiest on average, and the poorest the least so. What’s more, people living in rich countries are much happier than those living in poor ones. For centuries, human society has been focused around making people and their nations richer.

Research over the last decade or so, summarized in a highly readable 2012 report from the New Economics Foundation, has shown that the full picture of money’s relationship with happiness is a little more complex, though. Emotional well-being — defined as “the frequency and intensity of experiences of joy, stress, sadness, anger, and affection that makes one’s life pleasant or unpleasant” — rises with annual income in the United States until somewhere around $75,000, at which point it levels off and other factors (health and marriage quality, most notably) become dominant.”

The Future of Happiness — Up or Down?

It’s unsettling that so little is known about what it takes to be happy, and a lot of what we do know is contradictory. On the one hand, most people report that they are happy when asked by pollsters — up to 80 percent in most developed countries. On the other hand, psychological studies and various reports don’t share such a bright picture. The following things make happiness a problem:

  • As a feeling, being happy comes and goes. It often arrives accidentally, leading to one popular theory that we “stumble on happiness” rather than create it.
    • People are generally not good at predicting what will make them happy. Having a baby, for example, is often a major stress from day to day, not a sustained joy.
    • Prescriptions for antidepressants and tranquilizers remain high, although many question that either kind of medication does more than improve symptoms, and sometimes not even that.
    • Aside from rampant consumerism and the pursuit of diversions, modern society has not found a deeper theory of happiness to guide us.

Happiness

“Research on how to increase positive moods and capitalize on your strengths has proliferated, thanks to the positive psychology movement. This research has shed light on ongoing insights into personality, mood, and cognition. Though not everyone is born with a sunny disposition, experts do agree we can all learn how to bring more meaning and satisfaction into our lives.”

The Five Life-Stages of Happiness: How Our Definition of Contentment Changes Over the Course of Our Lifetime

“The evolving conception of happiness over the human lifetime is what Stanford social psychologist Jennifer Aaker and her team study in order to help us better calibrate what we believe makes us happy to what actually makes us happy. In this animated short film for the Future of Storytelling Summit — which also gave us Margaret Atwood on how technology shapes storytelling — Aaker outlines how the primary definition of happiness shifts in five systematic stages over time: discovery during childhood and adolescence, pursuit in our mid-twenties, balance in our late twenties and early thirties, meaning in our late thirties and forties, and savoring from our fifties on. But these chapters, Aaker illustrates through her team’s studies, need not be linear or sequential — different life-experiences help us reorder and edit them.

 

“Ninguém sabe definir a felicidade”

“Boris Cyrulnik decidiu que queria ser psiquiatra aos 11 anos. Viu nessa ciência da alma, como ele mesmo define, a possibilidade de tentar entender a loucura do nazismo. Quando tinha seis anos, quatros oficiais alemães armados cercaram sua cama e o levaram preso. Demorou a compreender que aquilo ocorreu porque era judeu.

Recuperar pessoas que sofreram um trauma infantil. Isso acabou se transformando, anos mais tarde, na missão de sua vida. E, de fato, ele é considerado um dos pais da resiliência, termo agora tão em voga que indica a capacidade de voltar à vida após passar por um trauma.

Psiquiatra, neuropsiquiatra, psicanalista, pesquisador e etnólogo francês (de origem russa), mostrou em 2001 com Os Patinhos Feios que uma infância infeliz não precisa determinar uma vida: os traumas podem ser trabalhados, podem ser superados.

Nascido em 1937 em Bordeaux, resgatado da orfandade – seus pais morreram na guerra – por uma tia, apresenta agora As Almas Feridas (Gedisa, 2015), obra na qual destila o saber dos anos dedicados a curar feridas. Em uma sala do Instituto Francês de Barcelona, concede essa entrevista horas antes de pronunciar uma conferência.”

 

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Totally cosmic science festival for blue-sky thinkers

“The Observer is to host a stage at a brand new festival – Bluedot – in July. Taking place at the Jodrell Bank observatory in Cheshire, Bluedot is a three-day festival of discovery that aims to fuse a complex mix of music, artists, speakers, scientists and performers into a unique event.

Jean-Michel Jarre, Underworld and Caribou will headline three days of music, featuring diverse acts from DJ Shadow to Mercury Rev.

The arts and science programme will be led by Brian Eno, who has created a new installation, Zenith, specifically for Bluedot, which will project on to the Lovell Telescope and interact with the data gathered by the telescope over the weekend. ”

Garage Biotech: New drugs using only a computer, the internet and free online data

“Pharmaceutical companies typically develop new drugs with thousands of staff and budgets that run into the billions of dollars. One estimate puts the cost of bringing a new drug to market at $2.6 billion with others suggesting that it could be double that cost at $5 billion.

One man, Professor Atul Butte director of the University of California Institute of Computational Health Sciences, believes that like other Silicon Valley startups, almost anyone can bring a drug to market from their garage with just a computer, the internet, and freely available data.In a talk given at the Science on the Swan conference held in Perth this week, Professor Butte outlined the process for an audience of local and international scientists and medics.”

Gene-trification? Inside the Brooklyn lab where you can splice your own DNA

“On a crowded stretch of Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, on the seventh floor of a building gentrification forgot, is a place where you can dabble in genetic engineering. Genspace, a kind of co-working lab for scientists, offers a fully equipped research laboratory available for public use for a modest monthly fee.

It was the first of its kind to open its doors back in 2010 and signaled the rebirth of the gentleman (or gentlewoman) scientist. Since then, BioCurious, another DIY lab, has opened in Silicon Valley, allowing hobbyist biologists to fiddle with their own DNA and titrate their own blood samples. A number of startups like Bento Lab have popped up to serve the DIY Bio movement, making compact desktop versions of traditional biology lab equipment small enough to set up anywhere at home.”

The rise of do-it-yourself biology

“The Wilson Center’s Synthetic Biology Project has released a short documentary on the growth of the do-it-yourself biology (DIYbio) movement as seen through a community DIYbio lab in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Rise of Do-It-Yourself Biology: A Look at the Baltimore Underground Science Space (BUGSS) explores the work of BUGSS, a fast-growing community lab on the east side of Baltimore, Maryland. BUGSS grew out of a group of interested students and professors at a local community college and now offers courses, lectures and the ability to experiment with biotechnology, from building microorganisms to modifying 3D printers.

In addition to providing an inside look at the BUGSS lab, the film explores the issues surrounding DIYbio community labs in general, including how they secure funding, where they find their equipment, and how they address concerns about biosafety.”

Recycling can be Delicious! Austrian BioArt Designers transform Plastic Waste into Edible Mushrooms

“You read that right. Austrian designers Katharina Unger and Julia Kaisinger have developed a device that turns polymer waste into edible mushrooms in collaboration with researchers from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Dinner is served!

Take a few seconds to have a look around and count how many items near you have plastic components. From your laptop to the chair you are on or the frame of the window in from of you, …

Plastic makes the world go round. It’s cheap, it’s malleable, it’s versatile and it only has a tiny con: it’s terrible to naturally break down. Many approaches have tried to address this major concern, but none of those lines of attack look as tasty as this approach!”

 

 

This woman, a self-described cyborg, can sense every earthquake in real time

“Moon Ribas might just be the most normal looking cyborg you’ll meet. Unlike the contingent of extreme biohackers or “grinders,” the 30-year old Spanish avant-garde artist’s superpower—or self-imposed aberration—is not immediately obvious. Ribas has a tiny magnet near the crook of her elbow that allows her to feel all tremors and earthquakes anywhere on earth, in real time.

Like her longtime artistic partner Neil Harbisson, who has a color-sensing antenna permanently attached to his cranium, Ribas says the external physical change is not the point of being a cyborg. “I modified my body, to modify my mind,” says Ribas. As you can see in the video above, she translates the tremors she feels in her arm into dance movements.

But why the need for the surgically-implanted body hack?

“I want to perceive movement in a deeper way, “ explains Ribas, a choreographer who studied movement at Dartington College in London. “The planet moves, constantly shaking and moving everyday. I thought it would be amazing to translate the massive and natural movements of the planet in a different way.”

Synbiota biohacking kits let you do genetic engineering at home

“A Canadian company is trying to make it possible for anyone to be a “biohacker” and make custom genetically modified organisms in their home kitchen.

Homemade GMOs may sound scary to some, but Toronto-based Synbiota thinks making genetic engineering technology available to ordinary people will lead to new products that we haven’t yet dreamed of.

But are things really so simple? Is that a technology we really can give to anyone? And do we even want to? Those were some of the questions I had when I showed up at a “biohacking party” hosted by Synbiota in a rented ranch-style bungalow in Austin, Texas, early this year.”

Musician uses science to help you see sound

“In theory, we know what sound waves would look like if we could see them, but it’s not every day we actually get to lay eyes on the effects they produce on the world.

There are actually a number of scientific experiments that can be used to produce a practical visual effect in response to sound. Six of these have been used by Wellington, New Zealand-based musician Nigel Stanford, who, along with director Shahir Daud, has put them together to form the music video for “Cymatics”, the single for his newly launched album “Solar Echoes“”

 

 

Designing for a science fiction future

“When Julian Bleecker first set foot in a lab at the University of Washington Seattle researching human-computer interaction, he was at a loss. He’d studied electrical engineering as an undergrad, so the lab’s work on an early version of virtual reality was unfamiliar ground. To get the lay of the land, Bleecker was told to read “Neuromancer,” the 1984 science fiction novel by William Gibson in which people connect computers to their brains and experience the data of cyberspace as if it had physical form.

“Neuromancer,” more than any software code, was the lab’s shared language. It was the 1990s, and they were working at the blurry edge of a new technology. Researchers found it easier to explain their ideas by saying, “it’s like that scene . . . ,” then wade into technical, esoteric computer science-speak. The book also gave them something to shoot for. “It validated what we were doing in a way,” Bleecker said. “This was fiction, but now we’re actually making it.”’

DIY Biology or Our Biohacker Future

“Biohackers constructed their temple for amatuer bio-creativity in 2009, with the establishment of Brooklyn-based Genspace, the world’s first government-compliant DIY biotech lab.

As Casey Research commentator Doug Hornig put it in Biohackers, Our Next Computer Revolution or Global Catastrophe in the Making?“Genspace is the democratization of science in a nutshell, a nonprofit funded by membership dues, tuition fees, and donations from supportive nonmembers. You can attach yourself to one of the scientists already embarked on a project, or you can set up one of your own. The only credential you need to bring is your enthusiasm for the subject, with Ph.D.s onsite to help you through the rough spots.”

The idea is spreading across the globe. In the U.S. alone, there are now about a dozen community biolabs, or “hackerspaces,” as they’re known. Along with Genspace, they include Boston’s Open Source Science Lab, BOSSLABBioCurious in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Los Angeles as well as Bio, Tech and Beyond, which just opened near me at Carlsbad California. More information on local groups and standards for laboratory safety can be found at DIYbio.org.

“Bio-Artist” paints life in the laboratory

“Oron Catts knits tiny sweaters from cells and grows toy dolls from living tissue, but the “bio artist” wants to make sure his intentions are clear. “I’m not interested in science,” he recently announced to a room brimming with scientists, “I’m interested in life.”

Catts spoke on September 30th at CUriosity3, a Columbia University seminar program that encourages dialogue between scientists and artists. A bohemian with an irreverent, jaunty goatee that contrasts his slick ponytail, Catts is a member of the BioArt movement, which promotes living tissue as an artistic medium. He’s a bioengineer without any formal laboratory experience, a Harvard researcher without a PhD. He embodies the enigma of a science artist.

While the CUriosity3 program aims to connect art and science, the event highlighted gaps in perspective that are difficult to bridge. Catt’s foil was Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, a biomedical engineer at Columbia, who provided an overview of stem cell research while regularly trying to squeeze in artistic references. Armed with high-definition micrographs of bright green stem cells, Vunjak-Novakovic’s unfaltering message was that “even cells are artistic.” The crowd applauded as a digital image of cancer cells clustered into a mangled smiley face on the screen behind her –unimpeachable evidence, she said, that science can be pretty.”

Cyborg America: inside the strange new world of basement body hackers

“In tattoo parlors and basements around the world, people are turning themselves into cyborgs by embedding magnets and computer chips directly into their bodies.

They call themselves biohackers, cyborgs and grinders. With each piece of technology they put beneath their skin, they are exploring the boundaries — and the implications — of fusing man and machine.

Welcome to the world of biohacking.

It’s a niche community at the literal bleeding edge of body modification, and it attracts fervent fans from a variety of schools of thought. Some simply enjoy experimenting with new tech. Others use the magnets and chips for utilitarian purposes. A few, paradoxically, see it as a path to get back to nature.”

Spectacular Microscopic Art Is Also World-Changing Science

“Fernan Federici’s microscopic images of plants, bacteria, and crystals are a classic example of finding art in unexpected places.

A couple years ago, Federici was working on his Ph.D. in biological sciences at Cambridge University studying self-organization, the process by which things organize themselves spontaneously and without direction. Like a flock of birds flying together.

More specifically, he was using microscopes and a process called fluorescence microscopy to see if he could identify these kinds of patterns on a cellular level. In fluorescence microscopy, scientists shine a particular kind of light at whatever they’re trying to illuminate and then that substance identifies itself by shining a different color or light back. Sometimes researchers will also attach proteins that they know emit a particular kind of light to substances as a kind of identifier. In the non-microscopic world, it’s like using a black light on a stoner poster.”

Transgenic Art and Beyond

“Eduardo Kac’s work encompasses many genres. He is internationally recognized for his media poetry, telepresence, transgenic and bio artworks. A pioneer of telecommunications art in the pre-Web 1980s, he emerged in the early ’90s with radical works combining telerobotics and living organisms. At the dawn of the twenty-first century Kac opened a new direction for contemporary art with his “transgenic art”–first with a groundbreaking transgenic work entitled Genesis (1999), which included an “artist’s gene” he invented, and then with his fluorescent rabbit called Alba (2000). His visionary integration of robotics, biology and networking explores the fluidity of subject positions in the post-digital world.”

“DIY Cyborg” implants body-monitoring device under his skin

“News: biohacker Tim Cannon has taken wearable technology to a new extreme by implanting a device into his arm so he can monitor his biometric data on a tablet.

Cannon had the body-monitoring device inserted under the skin on his left forearm to track changes in his body temperature.

Built by his company Grindhouse Wetware, the Circadia 1.0 contains a computer chip within a sealed box about the size of a pack of cards and is powered by a battery that can be wirelessly charged.”

Glowing plants and DIY bio succeed on Kickstarter

“In the last week, over 3,000 people on Kickstarter ignored the fact it’s next to impossible to keep a houseplant alive and backed the now fully-funded “Glowing Plants: Natural Lighting with no Electricity” campaign. The funds will be used to build upon existing technology and create a transgenic plant that has a soft blue-green glow to act as an electricity-free nightlight. Backer rewards, each glowing, include an arabidopsis plant, a rose plant, and arabidopsis seeds. We check in as the Glowing Plants team heads towards their first stretch goal and look at how this project is part of a bigger trend in DIY biology. But be warned: this is not your grandma’s seed catalog.”

Two hobbyists create a DiY prosthetic hand for a 5-year-old boy in South Africa

“A special effects artist and woodworker living hundreds of miles apart have pieced together a prosthetic hand for a 5-year-old South African boy who was born without fingers on his right hand. Using a 3D printer, along with bits of cable, bungee cord returns, and rubber thimbles, the two men collaborated over the internet to make it happen. And not only have they changed the life of young Liam, they now hope to do the same for others looking for low-cost prosthetic alternatives. To that end, they have made their assistive technology open source and launched a fund raising campaign.

The project came together when Liam’s mom stumbled upon a blog being run by Ivan Owen and Rich Van As.”

Transhumanists Want to Be Gods

“It is always fun to see what our resident technology-worshipping religious fanatics–the transhumanists–are up to. For those who don’t know, transhumanism is a futuristic social movement–eugenic in nature–that seeks to use biotech, cyber tech, and every other kind of tech to transform themselves into a “post human” species. The movement’s goals are right out of a teenage boy’s wish list; to live forever with super hero type powers. Take a gander at the piece by transhumanist proselytizer Zoltan Istvan, as he opines in the Huffington Post that we should become gods.”

Science Is Stepping Up the Pace of Innovation

“Every year on the website Edge, scientists and other thinkers reply to one question. This year it’s “What do you consider the most interesting recent news” in science? The answers are fascinating. We’re used to thinking of news as the events that happen in a city or country within a few weeks or months. But scientists expand our thinking to the unimaginably large and the infinitesimally small.”

New genetic engineering is slipping past old regulations

“There is a longstanding tension between innovation and regulation in genetic engineering, as policymakers have struggled to balance the benefits of innovation with the need to address safety concerns. But with recent advances – most notably the discovery of the gene-targeting and gene-cutting molecular machinery known as CRISPR-Cas9 – the tension has begun to snap. While consumers are focused on a debate over the labelling of the first generation of genetically engineered food ingredients, the latest techniques allow types of genetic modification that fall outside of existing regulatory frameworks, and in some cases are deliberately designed to circumvent them.”

Mammal Embryos Can Grow Normally In Space

“Chinese scientists have announced that they have been able to develop mice embryos within a microgravity satellite, the first time mammalian embryos have ever been developed in space.

The satellite was launched on April 6, carrying with it 6,000 embryos. These were placed in a self-sufficient containment unit which CC-TV, China’s state news television network, describes as “the size of a microwave oven.” The embryos were in very early stages of development, and 600 of those embryos were placed under a high-resolution camera, which would take photos every four hours for four days of their growth. Duan Enkui, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told CC-TV scientists noticed the cells had entered blastocyst, the stage where noticeable cell differentiation occurs, about 72 hours after the satellite’s launch. That’s the same the timeline embryonic development takes on Earth.”

Yeasayer – Glass of the Microscope (Official Video)

“The last track on Yeasayer’s acclaimed 2012 album Fragrant World, “Glass of the Microscope” is heavy with the band’s characteristic silky synths and torpid melodies. There’s a post-apocalyptic vibe in the video that is subtle but persistent, imagining band members Chris Keating, Ira Wolf Tuton, and Anand Wilder as scientists struggling to find a cure for an unnamed global affliction. In addition to the Naturalis tower, the band filmed in molecular biologist Hans Tanke’s lab at Leiden University, one of the oldest research universities in Europe and the place where the 17th-century Dutch microbiologist Antoine van Leeuwenhoek developed an early prototype of the microscope.”

 

Menino de 15 anos testa teoria própria e descobre cidade maia

“O canadense William Gadoury, de 15 anos, pode feito história ao descobrir uma cidade maia até então desconhecida a partir da observação das estrelas e com a ajuda do Google Maps.

Segundo o Journal de Montréal, o morador da província de Quebec (Canadá) estudou 22 constelações, reproduziu todas elas em um mapa e, ao analisá-lo, percebeu que elas correspondiam às coordenadas geográficas de 117 cidades maias espalhadas pelo México, Guatemala, Honduras e El Salvador.

Ao aplicar sua teoria a uma 23º constelação, sempre usando dados da Agência Espacial Canadense, e checar a localização no Google Maps, William encontrou vestígios de uma nova cidade na Península de Iucatã, no México.

 

RELATED LINKS:

Our Cyborg Future. 1. Bionics and Biomimetics

The Genetic Revolution

The Changing Face of Faith

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Nam June Paik

 (Online Research)

LINKS:

How strongly do different nationalities feel about religion?

“Changing global demographics and populations will see the global religious landscape change significantly by 2050.

By this time the global Muslim population will have nearly caught up with Christians, according to Pew research. Conversely, the number of people who are unaffiliated with any religion will increase much more slowly. This will result in them representing a much lower percentage of the global population.”

The World’s Newest Major Religion: No Religion

“The religiously unaffiliated, called “nones,” are growing significantly. They’re the second largest religious group in North America and most of Europe. In the United States, nones make up almost a quarter of the population. In the past decade, U.S. nones have overtaken Catholics, mainline protestants, and all followers of non-Christian faiths.

A lack of religious affiliation has profound effects on how people think about death, how they teach their kids, and even how they vote.  (Watch The Story of God With Morgan Freeman for more about how different religions understand God and creation.)

There have long been predictions that religion would fade from relevancy as the world modernizes, but all the recent surveys are finding that it’s happening startlingly fast. France will have a majority secular population soon. So will the Netherlands and New Zealand. The United Kingdom and Australia will soon lose Christian majorities. Religion is rapidly becoming less important than it’s ever been, even to people who live in countries where faith has affected everything from rulers to borders to architecture.”

People of no religion outnumber Christians in England and Wales – study

“The number of people who say they have no religion is rapidly escalating and significantly outweighs the Christian population in England and Wales, according to new analysis.

The proportion of the population who identify as having no religion – referred to as “nones” – reached 48.5% in 2014, almost double the figure of 25% in the 2011 census. Those who define themselves as Christian – Anglicans, Catholics and other denominations – made up 43.8% of the population.

“The striking thing is the clear sense of the growth of ‘no religion’ as a proportion of the population,” said Stephen Bullivant, senior lecturer in theology and ethics at St Mary’s Catholic University in Twickenham, who analysed data collected through British Social Attitudes surveys over three decades.”

Why Spinoza still matters

“Spinoza’s views on God, religion and society have lost none of their relevance. At a time when Americans seem willing to bargain away their freedoms for security, when politicians talk of banning people of a certain faith from our shores, and when religious zealotry exercises greater influence on matters of law and public policy, Spinoza’s philosophy – especially his defence of democracy, liberty, secularity and toleration – has never been more timely. In his distress over the deteriorating political situation in the Dutch Republic, and despite the personal danger he faced, Spinoza did not hesitate to boldly defend the radical Enlightenment values that he, along with many of his compatriots, held dear. In Spinoza we can find inspiration for resistance to oppressive authority and a role model for intellectual opposition to those who, through the encouragement of irrational beliefs and the maintenance of ignorance, try to get citizens to act contrary to their own best interests.”‘

The Changing Face of Faith

“Richmond may sit just inside the Bible Belt, but it’s not immune to the national trend of an increase in those who are unaffiliated with religion — including Christianity.

According to the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study, Christians in Virginia make up about 73 percent of the population; non-Christians, including Jews and Muslims, make up about 6 percent; the unaffiliated, including atheists and agnostics, make up 20 percent.”

Los exmusulmanes salen del armario

‘“¿Sabes? A veces me siento como un unicornio”, dice Hassan Ahmed mientras sorbe un café con leche a eso de las dos del mediodía. Es domingo, y no hace mucho que se ha despertado con una considerable resaca. Anoche estuvo de fiesta en la sala Apolo. “Nací en Pakistán, soy gay y exmusulmán”, dice Hassan con una sonrisa descarada. Se nota que se siente a gusto en su piel. Y eso sí que es excepcional, casi casi como un unicornio. Cada vez hay más jóvenes que se describen (o se descubren) como exmusulmanes: personas criadas en el Islam que, con el tiempo, han dejado de creer en la fe de sus padres para convertirse en ateos, deístas, cristianos… Podría decirse que están ‘saliendo del armario’ y, en muchas ocasiones, su experiencia no ha sido nada fácil. La apostasía, por muy anacrónico que suene el término, es uno de los tabúes más arraigados del Islam.”

Catholics Who Aren’t Catholic

“[…] There is a basic assumption about religion at work in the claims cultural Catholics make about their identity. Even though about 13 percent of them occasionally attend Mass, they do not consider that practice sufficient for them to claim Catholicism as their religion. Instead they say they are Catholic “because of their Catholic background,” which mostly means that they were raised in Catholicism as children. They feel they have inherited a Catholic identity, but have made a conscious choice not to embrace Catholicism as their religion.”

Americans are in the middle of the pack globally when it comes to importance of religion

“More than half of Americans (53%) now say religion is very important in their lives, according to a recent Pew Research Center report. While this figure has declined somewhat in recent years – down from 56% in 2007 – Americans remain in the middle of the pack in terms of importance of religion when compared with people around the world.”

Many Millennials see Christmas as more cultural than religious Holiday

“Millennials are less religious than older Americans and less likely to identify with a religious group, and those traits are reflected in the way they celebrate Christmas. Nine-in-ten Millennials say they take part in Christmas, but only four-in-ten say they do so mainly as a religious holiday, according to a survey we conducted in 2013.”

To Ensure a Future of Transhumanism, Atheists Should Confront the Deathist Culture Religion Has Sown

“In the West, atheism is growing. Nearly a billion people around the world are essentially godless. Yet, that burgeoning population faces an important challenge in the near future—the choice whether to support far longer lifespans than humans have ever experienced before. Transhumanism technology could potentially double our lifetimes in the next 20-40 years through radical science like gene editing, bionic organs, and stem cell therapy. Eventually, life extension technology like this will probably even wipe out death and aging altogether, damaging one of the most important philosophical tenets formal religion uses to convert people: the promise of being resurrected after you die.

About 85 percent of the world’s population believes in life after death, and much of that population is perfectly okay with dying because it gives them an afterlife with their perceived deity or deities—something often referred to as “deathist” culture. In fact, four billion people on Earth—mostly Muslims and Christians—see the overcoming of death through science as potentially blasphemous, a sin involving humans striving to be godlike. Some holy texts say blasphemy is unforgivable and will end in eternal punishment.”

Harvard Launches Free Online Class To Promote Religious Literacy

“Sales of the Quran skyrocketed in the United States following 9/11. Perhaps it was a search for answers, or a desire to parse out certain stereotypes, that made some people turn to the Muslim holy text.But the increased circulation of the Quran due to the recent Paris attacks and rise of the Islamic State has not always helped people to better understand and respect the faith. If anything, fear and prejudice toward Islam has risen. This is one example of the “widespread illiteracy about religion that spans the globe,” said Diane Moore, director of Harvard Divinity School’s Religious Literacy Project to The Huffington Post.To combat this illiteracy, Moore and five other religion professors from Harvard University, Harvard Divinity School and Wellesley College are kicking off a free, online series on world religions open to the masses. The courses are being offered via an online learning platform called edX, which Harvard University launched with Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012.”

 

 

Many Americans don’t argue about religion – or even talk about it

“According to Miss Manners, polite people do not bring up religion in social conversations. Of course, if Americans stayed away from all the topics the etiquette columnist deems taboo in polite company – including politics, money, sex, illness and what people are wearing – a lot of dinners would pass by in silence.But, judging by the results of our recently released survey on religion in everyday life, religion does indeed seem to be a subject many people avoid. About half of U.S. adults tell us they seldom (33%) or never (16%) talk about religion with people outside their family. And roughly four-in-ten say they seldom (26%) or never (13%) discuss religion even with members of their immediate family.”

The Culture of Criticism

“Wherever we look today in academia, scholars are rushing to defend the Enlightenment ideas of political and individual liberty, human rights, faith in scientific reason, secularism, and the freedom of public debate. Why the worry? These ideas are, after all, enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. And yet, to hear the defenders of the Enlightenment, they are under assault. There is no shortage of enemies—from mullahs and Christian conservatives to science deniers and left-wing post-modernists.Defending the Enlightenment has become an academic cottage industry with various camps hunkering down behind their own interpretations, and, in good academic form, attacking others. But recently, a few leading scholars have decided that it was necessary to present their defenses to a wider audience. Lynn Hunt’s Inventing Human Rights: A History (2007) was one of the first of such works; her argument made the case for Enlightenment values and the “soft power of humanity” in light of the use of torture by the U.S. government, but also, implicitly, because of the rise of new superpowers, like China, which openly reject human rights while embracing scientific progress. In The Enlightenment: And Why It Still Matters (2013), Anthony Pagden traced a history of Enlightenment philosophy, defending it from “theocracies” and the “fringe of the Christian right” that deny ideas of scientific progress, political liberty, and “global justice.”’

Scientists reduce belief in God by shutting down the brain’s medial frontal cortex

“New research involving a psychologist from the University of York has revealed for the first time that both belief in God and prejudice towards immigrants can be reduced by directing magnetic energy into the brain.Dr Keise Izuma collaborated with a team from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), to carry out an innovative experiment using transcranial magnetic stimulation, a safe way of temporarily shutting down specific regions of the brain.The researchers targeted the posterior medial frontal cortex, a part of the brain located near the surface and roughly a few inches up from the forehead that is associated with detecting problems and triggering responses that address them.”

No inspiration from above

“MORE religious countries tend to be less innovative, according to a paper published last month by America’s National Bureau of Economic Research. In “Forbidden Fruits: The Political Economy of Science, Religion, and Growth”, Roland Benabou of Princeton and Davide Ticche and Andrea Vindigni of the IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca find a strong negative correlation between innovation, as measured by patents, and religiosity, measured by the share of a population that self-identifies as religious. “I am interested in how people form beliefs that are relevant to economics,” says Mr Benabou. “That thought takes you to belief with a capital B, and that’s religion.”’

For believers, fear of atheists is fueled by fear of death

Skepticism about the existence of God is on the rise, and this might, quite literally, pose an existential threat for religious believers.It’s no secret that believers generally harbor extraordinarily negative attitudes toward atheists. Indeed, recent polling data show that most Americans view atheists as “threatening,” unfit to hold public office and unsuitable to marry into their families.But what are the psychological roots of antipathy toward atheists?Historically, evolutionary psychologists argue that atheists have been denigrated because God serves as the ultimate source of social power and influence: God rewards appropriate behaviors and punishes inappropriate ones.”

The end of religion as we know it: Why churches can no longer hide the truth

“If Daniel Dennett is anything, he is a champion of the facts. The prominent philosopher of science is an advocate for hard-nosed empiricism, and as a leading New Atheist he calls for naturalistic explanations of religion. Dennett is also the co-author (along with Linda LaScola) of the recently expanded and updated Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Faith Behind, which documents the stories of preachers and rabbis who themselves came to see…the facts.

Caught in the Pulpit is a close cousin to The Clergy Project, an outreach effort to “current and former religious professionals who no longer hold supernatural beliefs”—many of whom must closet their newfound skepticism to preserve their careers and communities.”

7 different types of non-believers

“Catholic, born-again, Reformed, Jew, Muslim, Shiite, Sunni, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist…religions give people labels. The downside can be tribalism, an assumption that insiders are better than outsiders, that they merit more compassion, integrity and generosity or even that violence toward “infidels” is acceptable. But the upside is that religious or spiritual labels offer a way of defining who we are. They remind adherents that our moral sense and quest for meaning are core parts of what it means to be human. They make it easier to convey a subset of our deepest values to other people, and even to ourselves.

For those who have lost their religion or never had one, finding a label can feel important. It can be part of a healing process or, alternately, a way of declaring resistance to a dominant and oppressive paradigm. Finding the right combination of words can be a challenge though. For a label to fit it needs to resonate personally and also communicate what you want to say to the world. Words have definitions, connotations and history, and how people respond to your label will be affected by all three. What does it mean? What emotions does it evoke? Who are you identifying as your intellectual and spiritual forebears and your community? The differences may be subtle but they are important.”

America’s Changing Religious Landscape

“The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, according to an extensive new survey by the Pew Research Center. Moreover, these changes are taking place across the religious landscape, affecting all regions of the country and many demographic groups. While the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults, it is occurring among Americans of all ages. The same trends are seen among whites, blacks and Latinos; among both college graduates and adults with only a high school education; and among women as well as men.”

THE RELIGIONLESS WORLD

“AND, now that time has come, to liberate the world from all rigid and redundant religions, and promote a universal non-creedal wisdom, based on time-tested spiritual values, laws of nature and ethics, which separate ‘Spiritual Reality’ from ‘Religious Beliefs’ to transform human life completely, for the greater good of people, society, nations and the world.

And, now that time has come, to know, human mind cannot perceive the indescribable ‘Absolute’, which is intuitively grasped, even though ‘Relativity’ implies the possibility that the ‘Absolute’ exists as ‘Cosmic Consciousness’ or God. Yet, relative reality is quite different from absolute reality. After all, there is no mystery here nor any reasoning there.

AND, now that time has come, to reveal the power of innate ‘spiritual nature’, present yet hidden, in each human being, as ‘Consciousness’, the eternal essence of our cosmic connection, with ultimate universal reality, a vivid sense, of a all-pervading ‘Presence’, set in the trio, and tryst of, truth, awareness and bliss, a state of total harmony and happiness.”

Livro coloca em perspectiva religião no Brasil

“No livro “Messianismo e milenarismo no Brasil“, organizado por João Baptista Borges Pereira e Renato da Silva Queiroz, os surtos mais famosos são tratados em ensaios de diferentes autores, de diversas áreas, muitos publicados anteriormente em veículos hoje de difícil acesso.

Do antigo sebastianismo português, passando por Canudos, até casos mais recentes, como os do Contestado e de Catulé, entre outros, o livro traça um rico panorama dos movimentos que marcaram um Brasil de religiosidade tradicional, buscando as origens conceituais do tema no judaísmo antigo e avançando na direção de movimentos brasileiros de raízes católicas, evangélicas e indígenas.

Todos esses casos têm em comum um estilo de religião hoje esvaziada em nossa sociedade, mas os milenarismos e messianismos continuam a se reproduzir, em geral, independentemente da religião. A ideia do apocalipse sobrevive ao fim das profecias religiosas. Veja-se o midiático caso do fim do mundo anunciado para 2012.

A força da religiosidade brasileira de hoje, pintada com cores generosas por analistas que se rejubilam com um improvável retorno do antigo poder da religião, não chega aos pés da intensidade dos movimentos messiânicos e milenaristas brasileiros nessa coletânea. Até por isso, uma das contribuições do livro é ajudar a pôr em perspectiva o cenário religioso atual.”

História do Ateísmo – Georges Minois

“O ateísmo é tão antigo quanto as religiões, que durante muito tempo o moldaram e perseguiram. No entanto, se existem estudos profundos e abundantes acerca da história das religiões, impera um vazio historiográfico sobre a descrença. Esta obra, de Georges Minois, é uma contribuição seminal para o preenchimento dessa lacuna, para ele fruto, principalmente, da conotação negativa que se atribuiu ao ateísmo ao longo dos séculos. Tal conotação estampa-se já nos termos usados para designá-lo, constituídos de prefixos privativos ou negativos – a-teísmo, des-crença, a-gnosticismo, in-diferença. E ainda na intolerância da cultura ocidental em relação ao descrente – ‘A palavra ateu ainda carrega um vago odor de fogueira’, escreve Minois. Monumental, a pesquisa abrange desde os povos primitivos até a cultura ocidental do século 21, mostrando que a história do ateísmo não é linear – não parte de um cenário exclusivamente religioso para chegar a um trunfo absoluto da descrença. Ao contrário, demonstra Minois, ateísmo e fé convivem lado a lado na trajetória humana, contrapondo-se, como duas faces da mesma moeda. Suas feições, porém alternam-se através do percurso.”

I Thought I Hated the New Atheists. Then I Read Sam Harris’s New Book.

“I have never liked Sam Harris, neuroscientist, philosopher, prominent New Atheist. I don’t personally know him, so it would be more accurate to say I dislike his writings and persona. I find most of his “philosophy” exactly the sort that should be bracketed by cautionary punctuation, his geopolitics are some of the most hideously unreflective I’ve encountered, and he belongs to a group of naïve iconoclasts who laughably fancy themselves scientific dissidents in the tradition of Galileo and Copernicus. But after reading Harris’s new book, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, I’ve decided the true reason I never liked Harris is that he makes me uncomfortable, profoundly.”

 

 

 

“Antidote” to optimistic future

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(Online Research)

LINKS:

If Something Is Going To Destroy Humanity, It’s Going To Be One Of These Catastrophes

“Global catastrophes—events that wipe out at least 10% of the world population—obviously don’t happen very often. But they have happened in the past; the plague in the 14th century, for example, killed as much as 17% of the global population. More recently, the Spanish flu in 1918 killed between 50 to 100 million people—not quite an official catastrophe by this definition, but still as much as 5% of the people in the world.

That was before modern medicine. Today, though, we face even more potential risks. A new report, Global Catastrophic Risk 2016, outlines exactly what might go wrong—and what we might do to prevent it.”

‘Antibiotic apocalypse’: Drug resistance to kill 10mn in EU & US by 2050, study warns

Antibiotics are failing us – fast. England’s chief medical officer has issued a dire warning as 50,000 people a year across the EU and US succumb to untreatable infections. It comes with a comprehensive report suggesting 10 million deaths by 2050.

According to Dame Sally Davies, England’s top physician, tens of thousands across both continents are suffering from conditions perfectly treatable only a short while back. The threat, she says, is comparable to terrorism.

Davies has pioneered the UK’s foray into antimicrobial resistance (AMR) strategies, and is considered a leading global voice in the matter. Her warning comes in a report by economist Lord Jim O’Neill, who has been commissioned by the government to conduct a survey of the problem and its possible solutions. The product is the result of a two-year study.

Our Future is Here — And It’s Gothic

Writer and futurist Madeline Ashby believes that the fears and trepidations we face in the modern world are paving the way for a comeback in Gothic art and literature.

Ashby’s “Our Gothic Future,” a recent blog post on her site, talks about the ways in which the tropes of “the Gothic” (as academics call it) are even more resonant today than they were in their inception, particularly in the realm of secrets. She directs our attention to Gothic art’s preoccupation with the unknown:

Like the twenty-first century surveillance apparatus, the Gothic mode is preoccupied with that which is unseen. Hidden feelings, hidden histories, hidden staircases. Unspoken truths, secret plans, desires which dare not speak their own name. Gothic literature finds evidence of power or emotion sublimated “three hops” from the source. Rochester asks Jane to marry him, and lightning strikes a tree. Jane is sad, and the rain begins. It’s an inventory of emotional meta-data as evidenced by pathetic fallacy, presentiments of doom, inexplicable fevers, and twisted ankles.

Highlighting this trend, Ashby goes on to discuss a story that she wrote for the Institute for the Future’s anthology for the Age of Networked Matter project, and how practically all of the authors for the project had written horror stories–haunted house stories, to be exact–without consulting each other. She believes the reason why is clear: “Because the haunted house is how we will understand our homes, once the Internet takes over all our domestic touchpoints.”

Is ‘Dark Tourism’ OK?

Tourists posting photos of themselves giving the thumbs up in Auschwitz, for example, or smiling from a rusted-out bumper car in Pripyat, the Ukrainian city that was evacuated after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear meltdown.

The offending images are seen and blasted around to social media circles. Disparaging comments are made and the shares continue, rippling out to create a full-blown meme about travelers’ growing predilection for “dark tourism.”

The truth is, visiting places associated with death and suffering has been popular a lot longer than the selfie stick.

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How a gay European sociology professor’s political career explains Donald Trump

“Donald Trump isn’t like any politician America has seen lately. But European politics experts argue that his rise was eerily presaged by the assassinated Dutch demagogue Pim Fortuyn.

At first blush, Fortuyn may seem an odd choice as a Trump ancestor: Fortuyn was a gay sociology professor, about as far from Trump in background as you can imagine.

But both Fortuyn and Trump rose to prominence out of nowhere, almost exclusively by emphasizing anti-immigrant sentiment. Both men bucked the existing political establishment, and both proposed banning Muslims from entering the country.

[…] Unless Trump actually wins the presidency, this is the only way his candidacy could be anything but a novelty in 20 years. He’ll need a more cogent ideology, as well as people willing to dedicate their professional lives to implementing it.

It’s not obvious that he’s building that kind of philosophy or infrastructure. It’s not obvious that he’s interested in building that kind of philosophy or infrastructure.

But if Trump puts his mind to it, and actually attempts to create something out of the anger wave he’s riding, things could end differently. The Trump campaign, ridiculous and incoherent as it seems right now, could be the beginning of something genuinely new: an American right-wing populist movement that draws on the same discontent that’s currently roiling Europe.

Pim Fortuyn is dead. But what he represented may very well live on.”

The Scientists Who Simulate The End Of The World

“September 11 transformed the global economy, the way wars are fought, and how the United States keep tabs on citizens. But it also revealed just how complex our world had quickly become in the years leading up to the attack. So complex, in fact, that in the months that followed, the government mandated a project to understand it.

The National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center, or NISAC, was officially founded in 1999 as a collaboration between two national laboratories, Sandia and Los Alamos, managed by the Department of Energy. Three years later, NISAC’s mission—to model the behavior of fuel supply lines, the electrical grid, food supply chains, and other national infrastructure—was suddenly a matter of critical national import. “It was really 9/11 that focused the country’s attention on the vulnerability of domestic infrastructure,” says Lori Parrott, program manager at NISAC. Being able to simulate how an attack or disaster would affect those systems was no longer a rhetorical exercise, it was a reality.”

Welcome to the new feudalism – with Silicon Valley as our overlords

“Are we facing another tech bubble? Or, to put it in Silicon Valley speak, are most unicorn startups born zombies?

How you answer these questions depends, by and large, on where you stand on the overall health of the global economy. Some, like the prominent venture capitalist Peter Thiel, argue that virtually everything else – from publicly traded companies to houses to government bonds – is already overvalued. The options, then, are not many: either stick with liquid but low-return products such as cash – or go for illiquid but potentially extremely lucrative investments in tech startups.

If true, this is good news for Thiel and his peers, especially at a time of negative interest rates. And for the rest of us? Well, we are probably doomed.

For several months now, Alphaville, the excellent finance blog of the Financial Times – not your typical bastion of technophobia and capitalism-bashing – has been raising concerns about Silicon Valley’s effect on the rest of the economy. Its writers insist that, for all the highfalutin talk about radical transparency, the data-intensive business model adopted by leading tech firms actually distorts how markets operate, depriving them of essential information needed for the efficient allocation of resources.

How so? Since data – the fuel of advertising markets – is the source of their profits, tech firms are happy to offer, at highly subsidised rates, services and goods that yield even more data. Ultimately there is no limit as to what kind of goods and services those could be: they might have started with browsing and social networking, but they are as happy to track us exercise, eat, drive or even make love: for them, it’s all just data – and data means cash.”

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This 14-Minute Film About A Boy With A Camera For A Face Puts Modern Reality In Focus

‘”The Boy with a Camera for a Face” is a strange, timely, multi award-winning short film that has just been released on Vimeo for all to see. It is very much worth your time, all 14 minutes of it. Filmmaker Spencer Brown‘s parable is about our obsessive interest in other people’s lives, our insatiable urge to document every moment that happens to us, and the distorting effects of doing so. And it’s a lot less dour than Arcade Fire’s last album, which touched on similar themes.

Narrated nursery rhyme-style, the film opens with the (no doubt extremely painful) birth of our aperture-eyed hero and goes right into his early life. There are clever, surreal touches at every turn, such as the parents having to change the boy’s video tape every night, rather than a diaper. (What does that say about what’s being recorded?) The sight of a proud papa hugging his camera should resonate with anyone who feels oddly amputated upon leaving the house without a phone. It’s already a Ray Kurzweilian nightmare/fantasy before the kid even hits puberty.”

 

 

The Scientists Who Simulate The End Of The World

“September 11 transformed the global economy, the way wars are fought, and how the United States keep tabs on citizens. But it also revealed just how complex our world had quickly become in the years leading up to the attack. So complex, in fact, that in the months that followed, the government mandated a project to understand it.

The National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center, or NISAC, was officially founded in 1999 as a collaboration between two national laboratories, Sandia and Los Alamos, managed by the Department of Energy. Three years later, NISAC’s mission—to model the behavior of fuel supply lines, the electrical grid, food supply chains, and other national infrastructure—was suddenly a matter of critical national import. “It was really 9/11 that focused the country’s attention on the vulnerability of domestic infrastructure,” says Lori Parrott, program manager at NISAC. Being able to simulate how an attack or disaster would affect those systems was no longer a rhetorical exercise, it was a reality.”

 

We are missing our chance to stop the sixth mass extinction

“The immense challenge of climate change has caused myopia among a lot of politicians, sending them into a self-destructive state of denial. More quietly, though, that immensity has triggered another kind of myopia, this one among conservationists. In focusing on the staggering planetary impacts of greenhouse emissions, they are losing sight of the other ways that human beings lay a heavy hand on the planet. In particular, they are paying too little attention to the true causes of (and potential solutions to) the loss of species around the world – a massive die-off often referred to as ‘the sixth extinction’.”

Which cities are most at risk to fragility?

“Cities are remarkable natural experiments. Many of them generate tremendous prosperity and progress. Others fail to lift off. All of them are exposed to risks of fragility to greater and lesser degree but the intensity of their vulnerability varies. Notwithstanding the remarkable resilience of their residents cities such as Kinshasa or Mogadishu are stretched far beyond their carrying capacity. They are not alone: many cities in low- and middle-income countries are reaching a breaking point. Even mature megacities like London, New York, and Tokyo are susceptible to fragility.

What makes a city fragile? Fragility emerges when the social contract binding municipal institutions and residents comes unstuck. When city authorities are unable or unwilling to deliver basic services to citizens (or when they explicitly oppress local residents), people lose confidence in their government. In such situations, parallel forms of power — from street gangs to violent extremists — emerge to fill the gap. City fragility does not occur in a vacuum. It is exacerbated by certain risk factors — the speed of urbanization, income and social inequality, youth unemployment, criminal violence, poor access to key services, and lack of resilience to climate threats.

So which cities are most at risk to fragility? This simple question is not easy to answer. Part of the reason is that there is virtually no global repository of data on cities. We know surprisingly little about the world’s 55,000 or so cities and settlements. Another challenge is that fragility is hard to detect. Ostensibly “stable” cities can exhibit destabilizing characteristics at the neighborhood level. In cities like Brussels, Paris or Stockholm there are pockets of fragility concentrated in poorer marginal neighborhoods like Molenbeek, Bondy or Malmo. Where there is social disorganization, there is often above-average crime and chronic vulnerability to radicalization and extremism.”

On Extinction and Capitalism

“UNLESS YOU’VE DELIBERATELY ignored the accelerating drumbeat of headlines, reports, and nonfiction books that have appeared over the past decade, you’re at least vaguely aware that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction in the history of the planet, in which 25 to 40 percent of all species are expected to disappear by 2050. Because extinction is generally a silent, invisible process, we are rarely forced to confront its inherent tragedy and the potentially vast ecological ripples of even a single species’ eradication. When we do, we wonder how we can possibly intervene, individually or collectively. While conservation efforts have widespread support and can boast a few modest (and temporary) victories, they have been overwhelmed by the ongoing wave of anthropogenic annihilation.

Which leads to the question that Ashley Dawson’s slim and forceful book, Extinction: A Radical History, aims to answer: how can we stem the tide? By identifying capitalism as the primary culprit, and placing the current mass extinction in the context of ongoing struggles for social and environmental justice, Dawson points the way toward appropriate forms of conservation for an era of devastating loss.”

Zika, ISIS e Trump – Os três são a versão século XXI de antigos fenômenos: as epidemias, o terrorismo e a demagogia

“Não poderiam ser mais diferentes. O zika é um vírus, o Estado Islâmico é um grupo terrorista e Trump… é Trump. Mas os três surpreenderam o mundo. E acabam tendo mais em comum do que parece à primeira vista. São a versão século XXI de antigos fenômenos: as epidemias, o terrorismo e a demagogia.

A epidemia de zika começou em 2015, o ISIS (acrônimo em inglês do Estado Islâmico) nasceu em 2014 e Donald Trump anunciou sua candidatura à presidência dos Estados Unidos em 2015.

Não obstante, nenhum dos três é novo. O vírus do zika foi identificado pela primeira vez em 1947, quando foi encontrado em um macaco em uma selva na Uganda. Os líderes do ISIS têm uma longa trajetória em outras organizações terroristas islâmicas. E já em 1987 Donald Trump anunciou aos meios de comunicação que pensava em ser candidato à presidência dos Estados Unidos. Esse plano não foi adiante, mas em 2000 Trump participou como candidato presidencial das eleições primárias do Partido Reformista.

Por mais que sempre tenha havido epidemias, terroristas e demagogos, suas manifestações recentes pegaram o mundo de surpresa. E sem respostas para confrontar seus efeitos nefastos.”

Yeasayer Transcends Time and Space on ‘Amen & Goodbye’

“There are few bands that can evolve as effortlessly as trio of art rock Brooklynites, Yeasayer. On their fourth LP, Amen & Goodbye, they don’t just reconcile the worldbeat freak rock of All Hour Cymbals, psychedelic pop of Odd Blood, and brooding, dark electronica of Fragrant World, but manage to transcend time and space itself with a mélange of biblical allusions, futuristic sound, and countless other seemingly disparate stylistic and thematic juxtapositions.”

 

 

Why a “modern” can’t understand the risks we face

“These assumptions make modern humans particularly susceptible to becoming captives of the bell curve. Our understanding of risk is mediated by a misleading picture of regularity in the physical world and in human society. Moderns believe that nearly all risks–and certainly the nontrivial ones relating to our survival as species–can be easily calculated and managed.

The truth about risk is actually much more disturbing. The generator of events in the universe is hidden from us humans. We see the results and make up theories about the causes and the processes. Some theories work well such as those relating to the prediction of the orbits of planets, for example. But, others have a challenged track record. Economist John Kenneth Galbraith remarking on his own profession once said: “The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.”

The idea that the study of human psychology, sociology and economics would yield theories as powerful as those we have for predicting the orbits of planets has long since been abandoned (except by economists, it seems). Humans remain quite unpredictable. And, the trends in the societies in which we live are all the more difficult to perceive and forecast since there are so many people interacting with each other using our worldwide communications and logistics system, each pursuing their individual aims.”

The scientist who first warned us about climate change says it’s way worse than we thought

“The rewards of being right about climate change are bittersweet.

James Hansen should know this better than most — he warned of this whole thing before Congress in 1988, when he was director of NASA’s Institute for Space Studies. At the time, the world was experiencing its warmest five-month run since we started recording temperatures 130 years earlier.

Hansen said, “It is time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here.”’

Two Strategies for Surviving the Coming Mass Extinction

“The next Great Dying is coming. In fact, it’s definitely already here.

The last time our planet saw a dying-off of global proportions was approximately 250 million years ago, and most of the life on Earth was wiped out for good. Plants, land and marine vertebrates, and invertebrates were all devastated. Scientists call this incident the Permian-Triassic extinction event.

Right now, we’re witnessing the sixth mass extinction that Earth has ever known. But this time, it’s not the devastating impact of an asteroid, violent volcanism, or the deep-freeze of an ice-age that’s purging the planet of its life forms. It’s us.

So what is any intelligent, enterprising animal to do when faced with the potential demise of its own species and most of those around it? Prepare.

A new study published in Scientific Reports may help us to predict how the further deterioration of environments and natural resources, due to the effects of climate change, will physiologically impact modern species, possibly even humans.”

Google’s new media apocalypse: How the search giant wants to accelerate the end of the age of websites

“Google is experimenting with a new feature that allows marketers, media companies, politicians and other organizations [to] publish content directly to Google and have it appear instantly in search results.

The search giant said it began testing the feature in January and has since opened it up to a range of small businesses, media companies and political candidates.

Fox News has worked with Google to post content related to political debates, for example, while People.com published posts related to the Oscars in February. Earlier this week, HBO published “news” articles related to fictitious characters in its popular show “Silicon Valley” to promote the season 3 premiere.

Google has built a Web-based interface through which posts can be formatted and uploaded directly to its systems. The posts can be up to 14,400 characters in length and can include links and up to 10 images or videos. The pages also include options to share them via Twitter, Facebook or email.”

The Pain You Feel is Capitalism Dying

“It can be very confusing to know that you won’t find a decent job, pay off student loans or put in a down payment on a house in the next few years — even though you may have graduated from a top-tier university or secured glowing references from all those unpaid internships that got you to where you are today.

Even if you are lucky enough to have all of this going for you, you’ll still be one among hundreds of applicants for every job you apply for. And you’ll still watch as the world becomes more unequal, with fewer paid opportunities to do what you feel called to do in your work or for your life path.

What’s more, you won’t find much help from your friends because most (if not all) of them are going through the same thing. This is a painful and difficult time that is impacting all of us at once.

There will be people who tell you it’s your fault. That you aren’t trying hard enough. But those people are culprits in perpetuating a great lie of this period in history. The standard assumptions for how to be successful in life a few decades ago simply do not apply anymore. The guilt and shame you feel is the mental disease of late-stage capitalism. Embrace this truth and set yourself free.”

Tor and VPN users will be target of government hacks under new spying rule

“An update to the innocuous-sounding Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure could soon grant powers to judges across the US to issue search warrants for law enforcement to remotely access devices that are using privacy tools.

The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure sets the rules for criminal prosecutions and this change would see a sweeping expansion of law enforcement’s ability to engage in remote surveillance to gather evidence, with zero public debate on the new powers.

The Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) says that Tor and VPN users, as well as people who reject location tracking by apps on their smartphone, could all be targeted for remote access, seizure or copying of data.

The new rule, which has just left the Supreme Court and is headed to Congress, could also end up targeting people who have been a victim of malware as it seeks to find the source of potentially harmful botnets.”

The New Mind Manipulators

“Your mind is being controlled by distant strangers who don’t have your best interests at heart. If that sounds like a paranoid fantasy, brace yourself and read on. These are the findings of a series of scientific studies that show how a few dominant institutions have the power to affect how you feel, how you act, and even how you vote – without you ever knowing about it.

Deliberate mind manipulation of the masses is, by itself, nothing new. Nearly a hundred years ago, our global mania for consumption was unleashed by the malevolent brilliance of Edward Bernays, known as the “father of public relations.” Bernays was Sigmund Freud’s nephew and used his uncle’s insights into the subconscious to develop his new methods of mind control, designed to create the modern American consumer.”

Singer: cresce no Brasil a inclinação da classe média pelo fascismo

“Citando pesquisa Datafolha de abril deste ano, o cientista político André Singer destaca que vem crescendo no Brasil a inclinação da classe média pelo fascismo. Ele lembra a preferência do eleitorado pelo deputado Jair Bolsonaro (PSC-RJ), em quarto lugar na pesquisa. “Nada menos que 20% dos entrevistados com renda acima de 10 salários mínimos familiares mensais declararam adesão a ele”, afirma Singer.

O colunista lembra ainda o polêmico voto de Bolsonaro pela admissibilidade do processo de impeachment na Câmara dos Deputados no último domingo 17. “A fala propositadamente radical do deputado Jair Bolsonaro (PSC-RJ), ao enaltecer famoso torturador, dialoga com o conservadorismo difuso em setores da sociedade”, diz.”

Rick Owens Fall 2016

“2015 was the hottest year on record. The future of the planet is on the ballot in the U.S., where the denial of climate science is practically built into the Republican platform. And if you believe Elizabeth Kolbert—and by the way, you probably should: Her book The Sixth Extinction won the Pulitzer for General Non-Fiction last year—we’re in the midst of a man-made mass extinction. Are you worried? Rick Owens is. Backstage today at his show, which he named Mastodon, Owens spoke of his uneasiness about environmental change. “Mastodons don’t exist anymore, as we won’t,” he said. “Maybe there’s an acceptance level we should look for.”’

 

 

The rise of the right: Right-wing populism in the U.S. and Europe

“In this episode of “Intersections,” scholars Constanze Stelzenmüller, the Robert Bosch senior fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe and E.J. Dionne, Jr., a senior fellow in Governance Studies discuss how economic grievances and political fragmentation are fueling the rise of right-wing political movements in the United States and Europe.”

‘Fukushima, vidas contaminadas’, uma reportagem em realidade virtual

“Esta é a primeira grande reportagem em realidade virtual de um meio de comunicação em espanhol, inaugurada pelo novo canal do EL PAÍS. Em 11 de março de 2011, um terremoto cujo epicentro estava a 130 quilômetros da costa matou milhares de pessoas e mudou a história do Japão para sempre. O país voltou a conhecer um dos seus grandes demônios: o pesadelo nuclear. O acidente da central nuclear de Fukushima causou a evacuação de 100.000 pessoas e uma situação de emergência só comparável à das bombas atômicas da Segunda Guerra Mundial. Cinco anos depois, milhares de japoneses ainda estão vivendo em barracões sob a ameaça da radiação.”

Is this the end of the West as we know it?

“Trump has advocated torture, mass deportation, religious discrimination. He brags that he “would not care that much” whether Ukraine were admitted to NATO; he has no interest in NATO and its security guarantees. Of Europe, he has written that “their conflicts are not worth American lives. Pulling back from Europe would save this country millions of dollars annually.” In any case, he prefers the company of dictators to that of other democrats. “You can make deals with those people,” he said of Russia. “I would have a great relationship with [Vladimir] Putin.”

Not only is Trump uninterested in America’s alliances, he would be incapable of sustaining them. In practice, both military and economic unions require not the skills of a shady property magnate who “makes deals” but boring negotiations, unsatisfying compromises and, sometimes, the sacrifice of one’s own national preferences for the greater good. In an era when foreign policy debate has in most Western countries disappeared altogether, replaced by the reality TV of political entertainment, all of these things are much harder to explain and justify to a public that isn’t remotely interested.”

The rise of American authoritarianism

“Trump embodies the classic authoritarian leadership style: simple, powerful, and punitive

These Americans with authoritarian views, they found, were sorting into the GOP, driving polarization. But they were also creating a divide within the party, at first latent, between traditional Republican voters and this group whose views were simultaneously less orthodox and, often, more extreme.

Over time, Hetherington and Weiler had predicted, that sorting would become more and more pronounced. And so it was all but inevitable that, eventually, authoritarians would gain enough power within the GOP to make themselves heard.

At the time, even Hetherington and Weiler did not realize the explosive implications: that their theory, when followed to its natural conclusion, predicted a looming and dramatic transformation of American politics. But looking back now, the ramifications of their research seem disturbingly clear.

Authoritarians are thought to express much deeper fears than the rest of the electorate, to seek the imposition of order where they perceive dangerous change, and to desire a strong leader who will defeat those fears with force. They would thus seek a candidate who promised these things. And the extreme nature of authoritarians’ fears, and of their desire to challenge threats with force, would lead them toward a candidate whose temperament was totally unlike anything we usually see in American politics — and whose policies went far beyond the acceptable norms.

A candidate like Donald Trump.”

Live and let die: did Michel Foucault predict Europe’s refugee crisis?

“In March 1976, philosopher Michel Foucault described the advent of a new logic of government, specific to Western liberal societies. He called it biopolitics. States were becoming obsessed with the health and wellbeing of their populations.

And sure enough, 40 years later, Western states rarely have been more busy promoting healthy food, banning tobacco, regulating alcohol, organising breast cancer checks, or churning out information on the risk probabilities of this or that disease.

Foucault never claimed this was a bad trend – it saves lives after all. But he did warn that paying so much attention to the health and wealth of one population necessitates the exclusion of those who are not entitled to – and are perceived to endanger – this health maximisation programme.

Biopolitics is therefore the politics of live and let die. The more a state focuses on its own population, the more it creates the conditions of possibility for others to die, “exposing people to death, increasing the risk of death for some people”’

Will Inequality Turn Entire Cities Into Ghettos?

“It’s a charged word, ghetto, no matter where in its linguistic history you focus. It once referred to areas of cities where Jews were confined and restricted because they weren’t Christian. Today, according to Merriam-Webster, a ghetto is “a part of a city in which members of a particular group or race live usually in poor conditions.”

It is time to recognize that “particular group” is a malleable term. The residents of a ghetto are the “other,” the ones who aren’t the same as the mainstream or majority. But one person’s mainstream is another’s other, and the mechanisms to keep people out of sight have changed. No longer does someone lock a gate at night. Instead, economic pressures and market forces fence people in. Once that meant by neighborhood. Today, it has turned into entire cities becoming unwelcoming based on income inequality.”

Human Extinction Isn’t That Unlikely

“Nuclear war. Climate change. Pandemics that kill tens of millions.

These are the most viable threats to globally organized civilization. They’re the stuff of nightmares and blockbusters—but unlike sea monsters or zombie viruses, they’re real, part of the calculus that political leaders consider everyday. And according to a new report from the U.K.-based Global Challenges Foundation, they’re much more likely than we might think.

In its annual report on “global catastrophic risk,” the nonprofit debuted a startling statistic: Across the span of their lives, the average American is more than five times likelier to die during a human-extinction event than in a car crash.

Partly that’s because the average person will probably not die in an automobile accident. Every year, one in 9,395 people die in a crash; that translates to about a 0.01 percent chance per year. But that chance compounds over the course of a lifetime. At life-long scales, one in 120 Americans die in an accident.”

Ours will be remembered as the era of plastics

“Historians may soon be looking back at the 20th and early 21st centuries as the time of computers and the internet, bold ventures into space and the splitting of the atom. But what will scholars in the distant future find worthy of note? If there’s anyone around with a penchant for paleontology hundreds of thousands of years from now, a surprise awaits in the stratigraphic layers containing the remains of our time.

Anyone digging into the earth would find a sudden, explosive increase in a new kind of material – plastic. Once underground, plastic will fossilise well, leaving a distinct signature. And there’s plenty of it. Until the 20th century, plastic was virtually nonexistent. Since then, humans have created 5 billion tons. The palaeontologist Jan Zalasiewicz has calculated that if it were all converted into cling wrap, there would be enough to wrap the globe.

Until about 20 years ago, Zalasiewicz said, the idea that people could permanently change the planet was considered nonsense. Human beings were too puny and the planet too vast.

“The scale of geological processes such as mountain building and volcanic eruptions have been held to be much greater than anything humans can rustle up,” he said. But over the last several decades, he added, it’s become clear that human-generated effects “can be big on a geological scale and can be more or less permanent.”‘

External Interior, inside-out perspective

“Transparency has become a relevant and ambiguous value, on one side revealing the hidden complexity of machines we’re surrounded by, and on the other side directly exposing human bodies to surveillance and/or exhibitionism. This ambivalent nature of transparency is conceptually embedded in “External Interior” by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. It’s an “inside-out disco ball” brilliantly lighted, “made with 1600 one-way mirrors mounted on a transparent acrylic sphere.” Its technical texture provides it with a unique property: the visitors placing their head inside the ball can experience a tessellated vision of themselves, similar to that insects’ compound eyes can see. But simultaneously people in the same space can see the head from the outside. Reminding some seventies science fiction aesthetics, this technically brilliant work is providing supernaturally enhanced vision questioning everybody’s position and values of the temporary social space it creates.”

 

 

The World is Over

“It’s noon, Thursday, Eastern Daylight Time, and every human being on Earth has just vanished in one huge and completely unselective rapture. Had there been any warning, people might have parked their cars on the roadside or landed their planes, but no, so immediately the world’s roads become flaming wreckage-strewn ribbons, while crashed jets punctuate the landscape with fireballs. To witness the scene around, say, a freeway circling Dallas, Texas, one would have the impression of a landscape on which 10,000 black tethers have been lashed to the sky.

And then things go quiet, at least for a few minutes – the quietest few minutes the planet has known for centuries, but this doesn’t last long, as everything has been left running. Dams continue to generate electric current, and gas pipes continue to deliver gas and fuel rods remain inserted in their cores. Gas stoves, heating systems, security lasers and Bunsen burners cause houses, businesses, prisons and hotel rooms the world over to burst into flames, followed by oil wells and forests and, most critically, nuclear power stations, beginning with less sophisticated and undermaintained models in the former Soviet Union, as well as those on the Asian subcontinent. The smoke they produce is certainly thick, but the isotopes they release into the jet stream and air sheds is in levels inconceivable to even the most nuclear-paranoid. By midnight, most of the Northern Hemisphere is shrouded in a black, acrid curtain, and sunlight will from now on reach the surface in patches. The Southern Hemisphere fares slightly better in an On the Beach sort of way, but the mist of angry isotopes from the north begins arriving around the 24-hour mark.”

 

RELATED LINKS:

Solarpunks

An Inconvenient Truth: the evolution of ‘climate emergency’

Our Cyborg Future. 1. Bionics and Biomimetics

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(Online Research)

LINKS:

Electricity and bionics: The future of powering medical miracles

“Nearly everyone has heard of the term “bionics” in movies, books or TV shows (i.e., the Six Million Dollar Man and Darth Vader). However, few people really stop to think about where the energy to power these amazing devices comes from.

Hollywood seems to have come up with their own secret solution, because, face it, Luke Skywalker stopping to change the battery in his bionic arm isn’t exactly sexy. Or imagine Darth Vader making a pit stop to plug in and recharge his bionic appendages before engaging another Jedi Knight.  That would kill the action deader than Greedo in the cantina.

However, Hollywood is not real life, and real life bionics need real power solutions. Having heart surgery every five to seven years to change the battery in a pacemaker isn’t anybody’s idea of a good time.

While some people use the terms interchangeably, there is a difference between prosthetics and bionics.

Prosthetics are replacements for lost body parts. Bionics, on the other hand, function very similarly to the original part or organ and may even surpass it in terms of capability. Together with advances in 3D bioprinting, the possibilities for applying bionic technologies are seemingly endless and life altering.

From the restoration or enhancement of vision, strength and hearing to the creation of fully functioning replacement limbs for amputees to even the ability to monitor or prevent such diseases and conditions as type I diabetes, one of the biggest obstacles to these breakthroughs is a steady, reliable, and efficient power source to keep the medical miracles coming.”

This Medical Gel Holds the Key to Our Cyborg Future

“The biggest challenge to implanting complicated electronics within ourselves is our own immune system’s tendency to reject foreign bodies. Xuanhe Zhao, a scientist at MIT, has developed a flexible and sticky plastic gel that will provide an interface between these two very incompatible materials.”

The new bionics that let us run, climb and dance

“Hugh Herr is building the next generation of bionic limbs, robotic prosthetics inspired by nature’s own designs. Herr lost both legs in a climbing accident 30 years ago; now, as the head of the MIT Media Lab’s Biomechatronics group, he shows his incredible technology in a talk that’s both technical and deeply personal — with the help of ballroom dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis, who lost her left leg in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and performs again for the first time on the TED stage.”

Becoming Cyborg: Scientists Figured Out How to Put Electronics Inside Our Bodies

“Electronics and fluids don’t mix—this is largely the reason why, despite advances in the field, we have yet to really tap into the possibilities of using technology to heal and even improve our bodies. Now, a team of MIT researchers seem to have found a way to make sure that our immune system doesn’t reject foreign objects—using hydrogel. Watch this video to see how this new material create a bridge between technology and biology.”

Biomimetic fabrication for 3D biology

“Biofabrication may today also comprise efforts in more futuristic developments where devices are made by cellularised constructs to furnish to them features that are normally hard to replicate with electronic, mechanical and chemical components such as senses. Bioinspired actuators are a clear example of such strategy. The application of biofabrication represents one of the most rapidly advancing areas of biomedical sciences in which bioengineers, clinicians, and scientists are contributing in large to
human health care. An increasing number of professionals from the most disparate disciplines are gaining interest in this new field. This has resulted in an increase of developed strategies for the regeneration of tissues as well as the generation of in vitro 3D models that hold the potential to recapitulate more closely the complexity and heterogeneity of tissues and organs in the human body.”

Bionics and Biomimetics

“Bionics and Biomimetics is devoted to the promotion of research through the integration of bioengineering, bio-inspired robotics, prosthetics and biology. Bionics is a term that refers either to the replacement, substitution and even augmentation of living parts and functions with cybernetic ones. In a broader sense, it refers to engineering artificial systems through biological principles. Biomimetics is the understanding of biology to design novel technologies and/or to develop new methodologies that use new physical, chemical and engineering approaches to study living systems. This interdisciplinary approach that involves bionic implants, artificial senses, bio-hybrid and biomorphic systems, bio-aware and bio-inspired robotics replicating animal locomotion and behaviour, new approaches exploring the chemical nature of biological structure, biophotonics, bio-inspired energy conversion systems, and bionanotechnology opens great new challenges and requires inputs from different disciplines, spanning from both life and physical sciences to many fields of engineering, up to humanities.”

Bionics- Innovation in Healthcare Sector Worldwide

“Bionics is the study of biological functions and the development of artificial organs and body parts that are used as a replacement of the original part or organs. The bionic organs are designed in such a way so that they can imitate the functions of the organs in order to operate properly. There is an increasing demand for artificial organs in the healthcare sector and the aging population is resulting into multiple organ failure. This in return is creating a need for organ transplant. However, the chance for getting a suitable donor for a transplant requires lot of time and thus reduces the chance of survival. The use of bionics part does not require time and these parts are designed to adjust with the body requirements. Furthermore, the bionics are also being applied in the defense sector in the form of exoskeleton suits which enables a soldier to carry heavy loads without reducing his or her speed in the battlefield.

The bionics market is fueled by major technological advancements in the healthcare sector, rising number of accidents resulting in amputations and paralysis, increasing geriatric population leading to rise in organ failure, and surging application of exoskeletons in the field of defense. Bionics as a substitute for robotics, growing health awareness in emerging economies, and rise in disposable income and healthcare expenditure in developing countries are factors that promise steady growth in the future. In contrast, high cost of bionic devices restricts its adoption in low-income regions and population groups, thereby hindering the overall growth of the market.”

Six million dollar man’s bionic eye becomes reality

“For those of us old enough to remember television in the ‘70s the epitome of cool was the Six Million Dollar Man, Col. Steve Austin and his bionic enhancements.  But what was once the purview of science fiction is inching closer to becoming an everyday reality, as optics specialist Eric Tremblay unveiled a unique contact lens that provides the user with telescopic vision. The lens was revealed in 2015 at the annual meeting of the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Jose, California.”

Introducing Beta Bionics: Bringing the iLet Bionic Pancreas to Market

“Breaking news today from Boston, where Dr. Ed Damiano of the Bionic Pancreas team disclosed the launch of “Beta Bionics” – a new “public benefit corporation” to commercialize the team’s fully integrated iLet Bionic Pancreas device to automate delivery of insulin and glucagon. Lilly has also invested $5 million in Beta Bionics, a major vote of confidence in the team. The company’s website went live today at betabionics.com.

Beta Bionics will take the Bionic Pancreas platform developed in the academic research setting, integrate it into a single medical device (the iLet), and obtain FDA approval to bring it to people with type 1 diabetes. Dr. Damiano will serve as the company’s President/CEO, and we were thrilled to see that Children with Diabetes founder Jeff Hitchcock is on the Board of Directors – a great way to bring in additional patient perspective! Lilly’s Global Brand Development Leader, Deirdre Ibsen, will also join Beta Bionics’ Board. The unique public benefit corporation approach has some big advantages for people with diabetes – see below.”

3D Printing Is Already Changing Health Care

“Many 3D-printed medical solutions are still in their experimental stages, but first tests are looking promising in a variety of areas.

In the research phase, scientists at Princeton University have used 3D-printing tools to create a bionic ear that can hear radio frequencies far beyond the range of normal human capability, in a project to explore the feasibility of combining electronics with tissue.

The project was the team’s first effort to build a fully functional organ, and the ear they built not only replicated human ability, but also extended our normal human capabilities. According to an article that was published online by the researchers, “[The field of cybernetics] has the potential to generate customized replacement parts for the human body, or even create organs containing capabilities beyond what human biology ordinarily provides.” As surgeries with exterior prosthetics prove successful, possibilities like 3D-printed livers, kidneys, and lungs could become a reality, cutting through long donor lines to save lives.

There are plenty of other advances in the field of 3D bioprinting, and many of them have been a part of successful surgeries and treatments. In cancer treatment alone, 3D printing is making huge leaps forward. In 2014, researchers developed a fast, inexpensive way to make facial prostheses for patients who had undergone surgery for eye cancer, using facial scanning software and 3D printing. Just this past year, in 2015, another team of researchers found that it is possible to print patient-specific, biodegradable implants to more effectively cure bone infections and bone cancer.”

How will technology enhance our bodies by 2025?

“Martine Rothblatt, CEO, United Therapeutics: Technology will enable an increasing number of cancers to be defeated by biochemically adjusting the body’s immune system to quash cancerous cells. Other technologies will increase the number of transplantable vital organs, either by restoring more from cadaveric donors to acceptable condition, or as a result of organ-manufacturing processes based on regenerative medicine. Also, ultra-cheap personalised gene-sequencing technology and bioinformatics will enable many diseases to be recognised and muted while symptoms are still sub-clinical, resulting in greater human longevity.

“Bionic eye implants and stem-cell treatment will reduce blindness”

Hans Jørgen Wiberg, founder, Be My Eyes

Hans Jørgen Wiberg, founder, Be My Eyes: Our non-exponential body is about to be surprised. Thanks to cochlear implants, we are now seeing the last generation of deaf people. Bionic eye implants and stem-cell treatment will reduce blindness. Also, why shouldn’t hearing aids monitor temperature and pulse and play music? Why shouldn’t a paralysed person with an exoskeleton be the strongest guy in town, or bionic eyes have night vision?

Jennifer French, executive director, Neurotech Network: Technology will provide more accurate and thorough diagnosis of medical conditions of both body and mind. New brain-activity recording techniques could be leveraged to create an integrated human experience wherein the tech element would become less visible, with improved performances. The challenge is whether our societal infrastructures can keep pace with the advancements and demand.”

Bionic fingertip gives sense of touch to amputee

“A bionic fingertip has given an amputee the sensation of rough or smooth textures via electrodes implanted into nerves in his upper arm.

Scientists from EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) and SSSA (Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Italy) successfully allowed amputee Dennis Aabo Sørensen to receive this sophisticated tactile information in real-time.

The research, published in science journal eLife, says Sørensen is the first person in the world to recognize texture using a bionic fingertip connected to electrodes surgically implanted above his stump.

The nerves in Sørensen’s arm were wired to a machine with the fingertip attached to it. The machine then controlled the movement of the fingertip over pieces of plastic engraved with different textures, either rough or smooth. When the fingertip moved across the plastic, its sensors generated an electrical signal which was translated into a series of electrical spikes that mimic the language of the nervous system. This was then delivered to Sørensen’s nerves.

“When the scientists stimulate my nerves I could feel the vibration and the sense of touch in my phantom index finger,” said Sørensen. “The touching sensations is quite close to when you feel it with your normal finger; you can feel the coarseness of the plates, and the different gaps and ribs.””

Scientists have developed a ‘bionic spinal cord’ to help paraplegics walk

“Scientists at Royal Melbourne Hospital say that they have created a brain implant called the “stentrode” that acts like a bionic spine for paraplegics and quadriplegics.”

Cybathlon will showcase what bionics could do for millions with disabilities

“Following the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, this year will see the arrival of the Cybathlon, the world’s first competition for parathletes and people with severe disabilities who compete with the aid of bionic implants, prosthetics and other assistive technology.

The Cybathlon will include six disciplines, each one specialised to the competitors’ type of physical need. Agility courses test those with bionic arms and legs, while races for powered wheelchairs and powered wearable exoskeletons include tackling obstacles such as flights of stairs. There is also a bike race for paralysed competitors using electronic muscle stimulation to move their legs, and a competition for those who have lost the ability to move their bodies but who are put back in control by means of a brain-computer interface.”

The Insane and Exciting Future of the Bionic Body

“Meyer, 33, is slightly built and has dark features and a friendly face. A native of Hamburg, Germany, currently living in Switzerland, he was born with only an inch or so of arm below the left elbow. He has worn a prosthetic limb on and off since he was 3 months old. The first one was passive, just to get his young mind accustomed to having something foreign attached to his body. When he was 5 years old, he got a hook, which he controlled with a harness across his shoulders. He didn’t wear it much, until he joined the Boy Scouts when he was 12. “The downside is that it is extremely uncomfortable because you’re always wearing the harness,” he says.

This latest iteration is a bionic hand, with each finger driven by its own motor. Inside of the molded forearm are two electrodes that respond to muscular signals in the residual limb: Sending a signal to one electrode opens the hand and to the other closes it. Activating both allows Meyer to rotate the wrist an unnerving 360 degrees. “The metaphor that I use for this is learning how to parallel park your car,” he says as he opens his hand with a whir. At first, it’s a little tricky, but you get the hang of it.

Touch Bionics, the maker of this mechanical wonder, calls it the i-limb. The name represents more than marketing. Improved software, longer-lasting batteries and smaller, more power-efficient microprocessors—the technologies driving the revolution in personal electronics—have ushered in a new era in bionics. In addition to prosthetic limbs, which are more versatile and user-friendly than ever before, researchers have developed functioning prototypes of artificial organs that can take the place of one’s spleen, pancreas or lungs. And an experimental implant that wires the brain to a computer holds the promise of giving quadriplegics control over artificial limbs. Such bionic marvels will increasingly find their way into our lives and our bodies. We have never been so replaceable.”

How Bionic Ears Have Changed People’s Lives

“Sarah Churman first “heard” at 29 years old.

The first time Sarah Churman “heard” her own voice, she was 29 years old. She grinned, laughed, and launched into tears.

“I don’t want to hear myself cry,” she said, covering her mouth. Soon came this observation, “my laughter sounds so loud!”

Sarah Churman was born deaf and the day she first heard her voice was the day her hearing implant was switched on. Her husband filmed her first moments with the device, a video that has been watched more than 20 million times on YouTube.

During the week after her hearing was “turned on” Churman learned many things, she told Today.com — that she had a Texas accent, for example, and that her husband snored.

Over 36 million Americans have some form of hearing loss, according to John Hopkins Medicine.”

Bionic Skin for a Cyborg You

“One decade ago, my research group at the University of Tokyo created a flexible electronic mesh and wrapped it around the mechanical bones of a robotic hand. We had dreamed of making an electronic skin, embedded with temperature and pressure sensors, that could be worn by a robot. If a robotic health aide shook hands with a human patient, we thought, this sensor-clad e-skin would be able to measure some of the person’s vital signs at the same time.

Today we’re still working intensively on e-skin, but our focus is now on applying it directly to the human body. Such a bionic skin could be used to monitor medical conditions or to provide more sensitive and lifelike prosthetics.

But whether we’re building e-skin for robots or people, the underlying technological challenges are the same. Today’s rigid electronics aren’t a good fit with soft human bodies. Creating an electronic skin that can curve around an elbow or a knee requires a thin material that can flex and even stretch without destroying its conductive properties. We need to be able to create large sheets of this stuff and embed it with enough sensors to mimic, at least roughly, the sensitivity of human skin, and we need to do it economically. That’s a tall order, and we’re not there yet. But ultimately, I think engineers will succeed in making e-skins that give people some amazing new abilities.”

VIDEO: What It’s Like To Have A Bionic Eye

“The first glasses in the world, it seems, were created some 700 years ago. It’s taken until this year, 2014, for patients to receive the first FDA-approved bionic eyes. This breakthrough comes via Second Sight, a California company whose Argus II technology revolves around implanting patients with an artificial retina. As of now, only people with severe cases of retinitis pigmentosa qualify to receive a bionic eye. Among them is Lisa Kulik, who shares with Business Insider her story of what it meant to begin losing her sight as a young woman, and how now, decades later, she’s relearning to see again. Produced by Jeff Girion. Edited by Sam Rega.”

RELATED LINK:

The Genetic Revolution

 

Regenerative Society

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Toward Regenerative Society: Plan for Rapid Transition

“Today, humanity faces our greatest challenge, and our most precious opportunity.  Our activity as a species has put the Earth in jeopardy. We can directly observe that our use of resources must change.  We are threatening the ability of the biosphere to support our continuity, and the future of all complex forms of life.

We appear to have reached one of those rare, extraordinary junctures in human history when a thorough transformation of society, culture, and consciousness is necessary. Climate change is the most urgent of many impending threats. As individuals, we must understand and accept the critical nature of our time. For the sake of future generations, we can become part of a wave of awakening and of action, that grows exponentially.

Under this extreme time pressure, there is great potential to quickly develop and distribute a new social model based on an ethos of global citizenship and planetary stewardship.”

The World In a State of Extreme Transition – Moving from Sustainability to Regenerative Design

“Communication is the tool we use to navigate change in this perishable, impermanent world. We talk about what’s happening and what’s coming. We use words to rally and activate citizens; to inform and educate people; to alleviate or aggravate fears, depending on our intentions. Humans use language to make sense of things — even those things that are happening at a scale beyond our grasp. As Wittgenstein said, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” And so, while it may seem like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic (let’s hope not!), reevaluating the language of climate change can offer a fresh perspective on where we are and where we’re headed.

In our view, the current language around climate change and its solutions is inadequate and even counterproductive. Specifically, we question whether sustainability, the default name for most current efforts towards preservation of life on the planet, keeps us locked into the assumption that whatever we do, we must also sustain the system that is currently in place. Perhaps, this limits us before we even start pursuing these goals in earnest. “Regenerative” — regenerative design, regenerative society, regenerative economics — appeals to us as a more ambitious and dynamic term commensurate with the type of ambitious and dynamic actions that are required for the survival of humanity now.”

Regenerative Citizenship and the Victory Garden

“In just 70 short years since wartime, the way in which we as citizens view our rights, responsibilities and duties for maintaining our shared resources has shifted dramatically. It is illustrated in how we maintain our lawns. It is powerfully clear when we begin to explore our own expectations of our neighbors’ property and its perceived taxable value.

What is my role, as a citizen, in creating value for myself and my neighbors? Is it a manicured, energy-intensive lawn, which requires hours of toxic maintenance to ensure modern aesthetic value? Or is my role as a citizen, to the whole of my community something that can be measured by the inherent productivity of the land? In this way, the evolution of citizenship is neatly nestled within the value derived by a visible garden in your front yard. It’s a victory for both food and for a prosperous democracy.”

Regenerative Agriculture: The Transition

“It is an illusion to think we can continue to use as much energy as we do now. No one can entirely rule-out that some extravagant technology will be forthcoming, e.g. solar power or nuclear fusion on the full-scale of more than 500 EJ/year as we get through now, but the particular issue of matching liquid fuels derived currently almost entirely from petroleum appears insurmountable. The “solution” is probably the collective of individual solutions, and this means adopting a completely different paradigm of human philosophy and intention. The most pressing demand is how to feed the population of the world, and how to adapt industrialised conurbations, with cities provided for entirely from external regions for their food and electricity. If oil is the most vulnerable element in the energy-mix as the life-blood of transportation, then we must aim to live with less transportation, and this includes the means and distribution implicit to modern food production.

In methods of regenerative agriculture and permaculture, much of the energy involved is provided quite naturally by native soil flora and fauna fed ultimately by photosynthesis, since the fuel for good soil derives from plants as the factories that supply carbon-rich nutrients, and in a wonderful symbiosis, the living soil microbes, especially fungi can draw other nutrients and water from the soil to nourish the plants. The individual elements of life feed one another in a mutually dependent and beneficial manner.”

Building Regenerative Communities: Strength in Collaboration

“After the stock market crash of 2008 the world was met with a new reality when thinking about economics. One group of Waldorf Schools in the Mid-states region took up the conversation about what this new economic reality would mean for local communities and the non-profit organizations that serve them.

How could communities, non-profits, and small businesses work together to build resilient local economies?

Through these conversations, and the inspiration provided by the Economics of Peace Conference held in 2009, the group decided to develop a guide designed to support conversations and provide resources for building regenerative communities.

The guide titled, “Building Regenerative Communities: Strength in Collaboration” is now available.”

Platform Cooperativism: A Global Movement on the Rise

“Last November, the Platform Cooperativism conference — a coming out party for the cooperative Internet — took place in New York City, initiated by Nathan Schneider and Trebor Scholz. Last month, the first #PlatformCoopBerlin meetup followed in Berlin with Michel Bauwens as the keynote speaker. The small venue was packed. More than 50 people attended instead of the 30 that RSVP’d.

According to Bauwens, the struggle of the last 200 years was mainly between labour and capital and about who gets how much of the cookie, but the not-so-apparent fundamental question is “Who decides what is value?” The challenge is to move from extractive to generative practices and to co-creating shared resources for human groups, communities, and nature. In a new system, the value is — or should be — created through the mutualisation of knowledge.

Bauwens suggested that growth of the commons can be achieved through open input, participatory processes, and commons-oriented output which then creates the condition for open input again — thus leading to upward spirals of prosperity. Bauwens advocates for open cooperatives and he believes this is where platformcoops fit in — or should fit in.”

There’s Plenty of Space for One Trillion More Trees

“Gregor Hintler had what seemed like a simple question: How many trees are there? As part of Plant for the Planet, a youth initiative that aimed to plant one billion trees in every country by 2020, he needed a way to figure out how many trees the planet could fit. But when he tried to find out, he realized nobody knew the answer. One estimate suggested 400 billion trees. “That sounds like a lot,” he recalls thinking. “Could be right.” But Hintler, who was then a graduate student in environmental management at Yale University, started looking at data from plots in Germany, Norway, and the United States, where foresters had counted the number of trees. He discovered that the old figures weren’t even close—400 billion was, in fact, far too low.

Forests cover about one third of the planet’s terrestrial area. They prevent desertification and erosion, store carbon, and provide habitat for millions of species. The recent Paris climate agreement highlights their importance, recommending that signing countries take steps to slow deforestation and enlist their forests in carbon credit markets. Knowing how many trees there are now, and how many there used to be, will help researchers assess human impact on the planet and any options going forward.”

Shift 2020 Brain Food #15 – Exponential Humanity

“As technological progress is relentlessly speeding into the future while moving from the industrial era to a new data-driven future, the exponential technology era is challenging our human creativity every time even more. We are facing tremendous challenges ahead as well, including climate change, rising energy demand, technological unemployment, disappearing middle class (in developed countries), social polarisation, ageing population, longevity, the shift from ownership to access, the rise of the crowd, the coming explosion of synthetic genomics and biology applications, the changing notion of work, population growth, etc. not to mention the growing political instability of certain regions influencing the rest of the world.

While all of this is gradually slipping into our lives (notice it or not), we keep outsourcing our intelligence and capabilities to mobile applications, chatbots, artificial intelligence and robots for the sake of more efficiency, profit and further automatisation. And yes, there are lots of examples and applications where those technologies will do a lot of good and be great for humanity – don’t get me wrong – however looking at things from a holistic perspective, progress moves on while more and more people seem to be paddling along without a clear vision on how they can create a meaningful future for themselves or their company within such a technological ‘dominated’ future.

It’s time to (re)connect to our core values and decide how we really want to live our lives in the future, using the best of technology opportunities in harmony with our desired futures, not dictated by companies or technologies. We can only approach this huge potential of change with next level humanity awareness.”

Beyond capitalism and socialism: could a new economic approach save the planet?

“To avoid social, environmental and economic collapse, the world needs to move beyond the standard choices of capitalism or socialism. That’s the conclusion of a new report released Wednesday by US think tank Capital Institute.

The non-partisan think tank argues that both systems are unsustainable, even if flawlessly executed, and that economists need to look to the “hard science of holism” to debunk outdated views held by both the left and the right.

Jan Smuts, who coined the term “holism” in his 1926 book, Holism and Evolution, defined it as the “tendency in nature to form wholes that are greater than the sum of the parts”. For example, in the case of a plant, the whole organism is more than a collection of leaves, stems and roots. Focusing too closely on each of these parts, the theory argues, could get in the way of understanding the organism as a whole.

Viewed through this perspective, the capitalist tendency to isolate an economic process from its antecedents and effects is fundamentally flawed. The Capital Institute, created by former JP Morgan managing director John Fullerton, says that society’s economic worldview has relied on breaking complex systems down into simpler parts in order to understand and manage them.

For example, this traditional economic view might view automobile manufacturing separately from the mineral mining, petroleum production and workers on which it relies. Moreover, this view might also not acknowledge the impact that automobile manufacturing has on the environment, politics and economics of an area. Holism, on the other hand, would view the entire chain of cause and effect that leads to – and away from – automobile manufacturing.

The Capital Institute report, titled Regenerative Capitalism, emphasizes that the world economic system is closely related to, and dependent upon, the environment. “The failure of modern economic theory to acknowledge this reality has had profound consequences, not the least of which is global climate change,” it says.”

The future is the trust economy

“As we get into cars with complete strangers, sleep in the beds of people we’ve never met and lend money to others on the other side of the world, a powerful new currency is emerging — and it’s based on trust.

What’s striking about the shared economy is not the technology that has made it possible, but the vast changes it has triggered in society. It has brought a renewed sense of community, engendered more collaboration, sparked new thinking and put a premium on trust, tapping into a need that transcends boundaries and is still rife with opportunity.

If you’re not working to build and demonstrate it, then the future might be about to leave you behind, as trust is quickly becoming the global — and most-valued — currency of modern time.”

Why Sustainability-Oriented Innovation Is Valuable in Every Context

“Sustainability, sometimes under the banner of corporate social responsibility (CSR), used to be a specialty practice used by only a few companies, like Nike and Coca-Cola, to manage risks to their high-value brands.

But times have changed, and as we described in our first post, Nike is now using sustainability to drive the top line by enhancing product development and revenue growth with technologies like Flyknit. Startups like Liquiglide and its super-surfactant products, unicorns like Uber and its on-demand transportation service, and large systems integrators like Lockheed Martin with burgeoning renewable energy and energy storage systems are combining sustainability with revenue generation in various ways. Sustainability-Oriented Innovation (SOI) is the basic enabler of this trend.

Because SOI allows companies to push beyond their usual innovation boundaries and their typical business protocols, it is expanding the range of businesses that are practicing sustainability and finding new fuel for their innovation processes. It is also allowing them to reap the benefits of products and services that create social and environmental good.”

Repair businesses provide antidote to throwaway culture

“This is a “pop-up repair” event, and it is drawing in the crowds. Parents and children from around the neighbourhood have brought in their broken things to be fixed by menders, each with their own area of expertise.

At different tables, repairers fix jewellery, electronics and furniture among many other things. This is also an opportunity to teach kids repair skills, and a group of boys is hammering away in the corner.

In the midst of this hive of noisy tinkering stands Sandra Goldmark.”

Do You Care Enough About Future People to Leave Them a Livable Planet?

“Environmentalism has made major strides in capturing many people’s imaginations over the last few decades.  From the concern of just a few activists, agreement that the natural environment is worth preserving extends at least to a willingness to recycle containers and unwanted paper, awareness of the dangers posed by global warming, and worry about melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels, and more violent storms.  But when it comes to significant trade-offs between our convenience (the door to door luxury of the private automobile) or livelihoods (running industries on cheap fossil fuels), on the one hand, and actions to reduce the environmental costs that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will bear, on the other, how much sacrifice are we really ready to make?

A paper published in Nature this summer suggests the optimistic conclusion that most people are in fact willing to sacrifice to assure a human future on our planet, but it also contains the important proviso that this willingness may be conditional on assurances that others will do the same.  Moreover, the authors show that successful outcomes might depend on empowering majorities to reign in the excesses of resource over-exploiters.  This puts institutional arrangements on a par with emotional or ethical valuation of the future as a factor that could prove decisive in determining whether our planet is still fit for human habitation generations from now.”

Systems Thinking for Social Change: Review

“As readers of Solutions, we are well aware of the large social, economic, and environmental challenges that face us. Einstein told us we will need to use new ways of thinking to solve these problems. One of those ways comes from system dynamics.1 At its heart is a new way of thinking, dubbed “Systems Thinking” by Barry Richmond.2

To many, systems thinking may not seem like a new way of thinking, as most people have been exposed to the basic concepts. However, knowing about it is very different from integrating it into your thinking and behavior every day—what Barry Richmond dubbed being a “Systems Citizen.”3 The latter takes commitment, guidance, and a lot of practice.

At its heart, systems thinking has four basic elements:

  • Look at the whole rather than its parts
  • The state of any system is determined by its accumulations
  • Cause and effect relationships are circular, not linear (known as feedback)
  • Time delays are inherent and lead to counterintuitive results”

Is capitalism entering a new era?

“Democratic capitalism is an evolving system that responds to crises by radically transforming both economic relations and political institutions. The time for a new phase has come, regardless of whether “responsible” politicians are prepared to admit it.

All over the world today, there is a sense of the end of an era, a deep foreboding about the disintegration of previously stable societies. In the immortal lines of W.B. Yeats’s great poem, “The Second Coming”:

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity…
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

Regenerative medicine has huge potential but it does not come cheap

“Regenerative medicine, where soft tissues, organs or bone are extended or regrown is an increasingly exciting field. Examples of work being done include bone grafting or growing a patient’s own cells in the laboratory and then re-implanting them onto a wound bed to help it heal. Or how about regeneration of the trachea, the cornea, nervous tissue, the human finger, the liver, and even the male urethra?

While some regenerative treatments are already happening, others, such as lab-engineered liver cells, have the potential to change lives if they can be developed further.

And given that we will live longer than previous generations (and so will future generations after us) and that we deteriorate with age, regenerative medicine aimed at renewing ageing bodies could also be used to increase our quality of later life.”

Regenerative architecture, Aussie style, competes on a global stage

“Annually, the Australian Institute of Architects nominates top buildings from across the country to recognise advances in design.

From England to Thailand, this year’s shortlisted projects in the category of “International Architecture” are quite diverse, and yet all of them focus on the theme of regeneration within the built environment.

You can think of regeneration as being defined by injecting a sense of renewal to a particular physical site, whether it’s by the water or in the jungle. Architecture as a regenerative force not only defines a place but it provides a fresh perspective on the surrounding environment.

More importantly, each building in this list resuscitates pre-existing conditions in each country from across the globe and contributes something insightful to its respective cultural context.”

A new economy for a regenerative society

“Humanity needs a wide set of solutions as it transits the transformative path to a regenerative society. In the enactment of this transition, motivation and heart-felt commitment are central to civil action. As economist Andrew Simms reminds us: “when there is commitment, extraordinary things can be achieved.” These extraordinary things are the kind of spirit and urgency we need to spread as we chart this transition forward. The need to envision a desired endpoint for a new economy is central to this new paradigm.

The old economy based on aggregate growth has become uneconomic and is highly energy reliant and dependent on the endless consumption of Earth’s resources; it is also based on unlimited aggregate quantification that leads to an unmanageable and oversized economy. “Growth economies”, writes Herman Daly, “become an absurdity when their scales grow beyond the biophysical limits of their subsets.””

Can Regenerative Design Save the Planet?

“It’s probably too harsh to say that green building has jumped the shark, but triple-glazed glass, natural ventilation, and low off-gassing carpeting are no longer news. In a sense, green building is the victim of its own success—so ubiquitous that it’s almost impossible for any major developer not to incorporate its principles in building design. Like unleaded gasoline, it’s simply the accepted standard.

Nor has this maturing trend been safe from often withering criticism. The green building rating and certification system, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), is viewed by many as a costly and cumbersome bureaucracy. The eco-for-show concept of greenwashing is now part of the lexicon. In the big picture, how sustainable is a corporate office park with a green roof if the only way to get to it is by car? And so on.”

How to Transform Our Energy System

“Access to affordable and abundant energy has enabled some of the most incredible advances in human history. Worldwide, cheap energy has fueled massive economic growth, lifted billions of people out of poverty, expanded agricultural production, and lengthened human lifespans.

But the staggering environmental and public health impacts of our modern energy system are well-documented too. It has become commonplace to illustrate the problems of climate change, air pollution, and lack of access to electricity as critical failures that demand rethinking energy. But many solutions proposed are too often linear at best, while the problems, especially climate change, are getting exponentially worse.

Humanity can do better. Solutions don’t need to be linear. We can rapidly solve the problems of our energy system with global and exponential approaches. For example, the remarkable drop in the price per kilowatt-hour of solar photovoltaic cells has drawn analogies to Moore’s Law of exponential growth in computer chip transistor density, and prompted an influx of new ideas in the energy space. Through open innovation, modernized regulatory systems, and new business models, we can evolve from complaints about the status quo to rapidly identifying and deploying real solutions to our grandest challenges.”

Building the Fashion Revolution

“Andrea Plell is the founder of Ecologique Fashion an ethical and sustainable fashion consultancy based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since 2007, Plell has put her background in business and marketing to work to change the fashion industry, from creating editorial content to coordinating fashion shows. Ecologique Fashion has worked with the 25th Street Collective in Oakland, made ethical shopping more accessible through the online marketplace EcoHabitude and showcased local fashion in two Fibershed runway shows. This year, Plell is turning her focus to organizing Bay Area events to build awareness and community around Fashion Revolution Week, April 18 – 24, 2016. She spoke with Fibershed to share more about how her professional path has evolved, the significance of Fashion Revolution, and what each of us can do to join the movement.”

Related Links”

“The Limits to Growth” Revisited

Measuring Progress

An Inconvenient Truth: the evolution of ‘climate emergency’

Utopias / 1. Social Justice

Utopias / 2. Solarpunks

Utopias / 3. PostCapitalism

Utopias / 4.Rewilding