Engineers have bought the spacecraft's interstellar mission more time by using backup power from a safety mechanism. It means NASA no longer has to shut down one of its five scientific instruments.
(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
As someone who's been working in the big tech for a while, my observation is that more often than not, engineering managers don't bring much value to the organization.
Likewise, most of the times, unhapiness, mental health issues, and conflicts that can happen in the workplace happen due to bad managers, hence the saying was born "people leave managers, not companies".
If you think about it, the fundamental nature of the manager class is to benefit from other people's work without delivering anything themselves.
My observation is that most people go into management for power and money at the expense of losing their technical skills – because that's the way it has been for the past 200 or so years. At companies like Meta and Amazon, where managers are just people managers without making any technical contributions, more people question their roles and relevance.
Then, as the company gets bigger, it gets bloated with useless layers of middle managers. During recession, these empire builders are the first ones to get cut.
Lastly, senior leaders – they get paid exorbitant salaries for how little they do. Think about Mark Zuckerberg's senior leadership team – they don't work more than 20-30 hrs a week, they live in luxury penthouses all around the world, while getting paid 100x more than new college grads. And these guys are shieled from layoffs. (if you combine the total combined comp of the people that directly report to Zuck and the people 2 layers below him – they are roughly equal to the 10k people they had to let go last November)
Many times, managers go on leave, and the organization functions really well, making people wonder why we needed the manager in the first place.
Of course, engineering managers will defend their relevance by saying that people problems are much harder than technical problems, Google tried it and failed through project Oxygen 20 years ago, et cetera.
I agree that with current technology and organizational insights, it seems hard to fully get rid of managers, but my hope is that future generations will come up with a better holacratic model. Indeed, small number of companies have experimented with this model – such as Valve and Zappo.
I hope future technologies and breakthroughs in organizational insights will allow workers to collaborate more easily and remain as productive or even more so than today without needing these middle men called managers.
Engineering managers will say that hierarchy is human nature, so it cannot be removed, but people said the same thing about monarchy and slavery in the past.
Of course, people in the tech industry will have trouble thinking of a better alternative, but so did people in the past who thought everything that can be invented and discovered has been done so.
Less than 200 years ago, people living in Texas probably thought slavery was acceptable. heck less than 100 years ago, people thought segregation was acceptable.
Less than 150 years ago, people thought everything there is to know and discover about the universe has been known and discovered, and that's why Max Plancks' advisor told him to pursue some other field than physics.
I hope future generations will come up with a better and more efficient model than modern corporate hierarchy. I hope the day will come when people will view modern corporate hierarchy the same way we view monarchy and slavery today.
Also for younger millennial & genZ tech workers, I hope more of you would consider pursuing the path of becoming principal, distinguished, or fellow engineers over becoming managers/directors/VPs.
Hi guys. I’ve been discussing this with my friends, and we can’t really figure out the scope of AI like ChatGPT. So we’re asking you lot of geniuses, because there’s so many experts in here. As we see it, the introduction of free functioning AI’s is a groundbreaking technology like the introduction of telecommunications. Or the wheel. We have just seen the tip of the massive iceberg of different ways to apply this technology. In the decades to come, these different applications will reveal themselves in ways, we today probably can’t even imagine. For the better or worse. Do you guys agree with this assesment? And more importantly: in which new ways do you imagine this techology changing our society? How does our future look?
Nature, Published online: 30 April 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-01425-yNew institute aims to enshrine inclusivity in all aspects of neuroscience and psychology research.
In March, Silicon Valley Bank, once the envy of the nation’s tech elite with more than $200 billion in assets, went down the tubes in a flash—pretty much 36 hours from start (rumors of its insolvency) to finish (the announcement of a takeover by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). It was the second-largest bank failure in American history. Only the failure of Washington Mutual, which had more than $300 billion in assets when it went under in September 2008, was larger. Two days after the SVB disaster, the little-known Signature Bank, which had about $100 billion in assets, also failed. That was the third-largest bank failure in American history.
This weekend, First Republic Bank, with $233 billion in assets, is anticipated to meet its demise. In February, the bank’s stock was trading for $147 a share; it’s now about $3.50, a decline of 98 percent. When First Republic fails and is seized by the FDIC, as is widely expected to happen, it will replace SVB as the second-largest bank failure in American history.
What’s going on? Why did these three previously solid, medium-size banks suddenly face annihilation? The answer lies in the nature of banking itself. Our so-called fractional banking system is fundamentally risky and vulnerable to external shocks, like the recent rise in interest rates, which these banks’ managers should have anticipated—but evidently had not.
When we deposit the after-tax proceeds of our salaries into a bank, we like to think we have put the money in a safe place and that it will always be there for us when we go to the ATM machine and want some of it back. In theory, we’re safe to assume this will be so. Some of our cash is at the bank all the time, and, of course, we can always withdraw $100 here or $200 there. But the majority of the money we deposit in banks is not kept in the banks’ vaults.
That’s the essence of “fractional banking.” The way a bank makes money—and American banks primarily are private, profit-seeking enterprises—is by taking our deposits and then lending that money out to individuals, companies, universities, and municipalities. To anyone, in fact, who can meet required credit standards and has the wherewithal to pay for the borrowing in the form of fees, interest, and principal payments. The difference between what a bank pays us for our deposits and what it receives in interest payments and assorted fees from borrowers of all sorts is, essentially, one of the important ways the bank makes a profit.
For instance, my own bank, JPMorgan Chase, pays me one basis point of interest on my checking account each year (0.01 percent), and two basis points (0.02 percent) on my savings account—practically zero. JPMorgan Chase has something like $2.5 trillion in total deposits. This is one of the resources the bank uses to make loans to generate revenue. In other words, JPMorgan Chase gets its raw material for very close to free. (It’s hard to find an industry besides depository banking for which that is true.)
JPMorgan Chase then takes this raw material—our deposits—and lends that money out for five, seven, or 10 years or more, at much, much higher interest rates, plus all of those fees. The difference between the nearly zero that it pays for our deposits and what it gets back from borrowers forms the majority of the bank’s profits. JPMorgan Chase made $48 billion in net income in 2021, and about $38 billion last year.
Bank profits have positively gushed in recent memory thanks in large part to the Federal Reserve’s 13-year (2009–22) so-called Zero Interest Rate Policy, or ZIRP. Under ZIRP, the brainchild of the former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke—and a policy pursued by his successors Janet Yellen (now the treasury secretary) and Jay Powell—the Fed went into the market and bought all kinds of debt securities in bulk. During that period, the Fed’s balance sheet increased roughly 10 times to nearly $9 trillion in assets, up from less than $900 billion in assets before the 2008 financial crisis. What Bernanke and his successors decided, in their wisdom, was that, after that crash, the U.S. economy, which had plunged into the Great Recession, needed a jump start in the form of low interest rates. The Fed figured that if the cost of money were cheap enough, people would borrow more and use the lending to invest in hiring more employees, building new plants, acquiring new equipment, expanding overseas, and so on.
This seemed like a brilliant idea, and for a time it was: It largely succeeded in stimulating a moribund economy, despite the congressional deadlock that was holding up any fiscal stimulus. The Fed’s aggressive monetary policy in effect replaced what normally might have been an appropriate fiscal response from Congress.
Low rates were a boon to the sectors of the economy that make money from money—banks, hedge funds, private equity firms, alternative asset managers—and benefited those that borrow money, such as the federal government, municipalities, homeowners, and corporations. For people on a fixed income, such as retirees and pensioners, however, ZIRP was terrible because their savings generated so little income. That was the trade-off that the Fed decided to make, and the rest of us went along, not that there was much any of us could do about it.
As beautifully as ZIRP worked for some, it went on far too long. In the end, the Fed’s policies pushed down interest rates to the lowest levels in recorded history. Finally, after more than a decade of short-term interest rates close to zero and long-term interest rates at historically low levels, Powell started reversing course in 2022.
And now the unintended consequences of the Fed’s monetary policy have emerged in the form of the failures of SVB, Signature Bank, and First Republic Bank. First Republic—like SVB and Signature—had a portfolio of loans issued at the top of the market. Specifically, First Republic issued jumbo home mortgages to its wealthy clientele at cheap rates. This strategy was good for the borrowers, who loved the bank, but it was bad for the bank’s risk profile, especially after the Federal Reserve started aggressively raising rates. If you own a portfolio of bonds or mortgages issued at low rates, the portfolio loses value rapidly on a mark-to-market basis when interest rates rise.
In its first-quarter financial statements, First Republic announced that depositors had withdrawn some $100 billion in a matter of days after the collapse of SVB, which was itself precipitated by withdrawals of more than $40 billion the day before its failure. That double whammy—depositors fleeing, asset portfolio underwater—has led to First Republic’s demise.
To be clear, these three banks’ managers should have anticipated that ZIRP wouldn’t last forever, and should have planned accordingly. But they didn’t. In addition to their own bad risk management, the banks successfully lobbied for less regulatory scrutiny from the Feds because they weren’t among the nation’s biggest banks. President Donald Trump signed that deregulation into law in 2018. On Friday, the report on SVB’s failure from the Fed’s vice chair, Michael Barr, found that this relaxation of regulation had “impeded effective supervision by reducing standards, increasing complexity, and promoting a less assertive supervisory approach.”
Recent bank failures should be a salutary reminder of the risks inherent in a fractional banking system—how fragile banks really are, and how susceptible to a devastating loss of confidence. The fractional banking system works only if people have confidence in it and in their money being there when they want it. But no bank can withstand a panic for the very reason that, for the bank to make money, the majority of our money isn’t in the bank. Banks’ business plans are built on this mismatch between assets and liabilities. When things go wrong, very little can be done to save the institution. Reportedly, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and PNC are vying to buy the carcass of First Republic once the FDIC takes it over.
Fortunately, although all three of these failed banks were of some regional importance, they were peripheral to the operation of our capital markets. Their failure should not lead to anything like what happened in 2008, when several huge Wall Street banks went down. That was as close as we have come since the Great Depression to a meltdown of the entire financial system. To that extent, the 2010 reregulation of big banks in the Dodd-Frank law has helped keep our banking system intact. The center is holding, at least for now.
There is so much talk about how scary General AI will be, how it will doom humanity, but I find myself wondering, the loudest voices telling everyone to be afraid are tech billionaires who rose to power mostly because of the rise of emerging tech.
AI may empower a new generation of disruptors. There will not be one kind of AI. There will be a suit of different AI, each will empower individuals to do so much more. I suspect that this establishes the established rich, many of whom were disruptors themselves only decades ago.
I haven't conducted any studies on this topic. This is only speculation but sometimes I feel like the fear talk about AI takes all the air out of the room.
Imagine if you have a great new business idea and a decade ago you could never bring together all the work power you would need to see it realized, but with AI you have cheap work power that makes it easy to introduce competing products and services. If I were a billionaire I would be terrified of this.
Like a moth to a lamp, we humans have long thought we knew why bugs are so attracted to artificial lights — but new research suggests we may have been just as dim as they are.
New research out of Imperial College London and Florida International University posits that artificial light might be messing with these poor bugs' brains because, as the biologists behind the yet-to-be-peer-reviewed study note, the insects aren't flying directly toward the light the way scientists previously presumed.
Using what the paper describes as "high-resolution motion capture in the laboratory and stereo-videography" to film butterflies, dragonflies, and moths, the researchers found that instead of flying head-first towards artificial lights, bugs are going butt-first towards them, which can "trap an insect" in the kind of frenzied circuitous holding patterns we witness when bugs bump into outdoor lamps.
Lamp Is Love
In an interview with the New York Times about the new research, insect flight expert Tyson Hendrick of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said that this study lends credence to one of his long-standing theories.
"This is the best argument so far for what explains this behavior," Hendrick, who did not work on the paper, told the NYT. "It’s one of these things that we all sort of think we know about nature, and it’s getting overturned."
Beyond just explaining the bizarre way insects fly around lights, the paper also offers a simple mechanism to head off bugs zapping their way into an early grave — by putting up outdoor lights that point downward, instead of those that shine horizontally or upward. Those types of lights, the researchers noted in the paper, seemed to mess with the bugs' behavior less.
As sad as this new knowledge is, it does make a lot of sense, especially given how erratic bugs seem to act when confronted with an artificial light source — the same effect that led to the extremely bizarre moth lamp memes of yore.
The post Scientists Suggest New Reason Dumb Bugs Smash Into Lights appeared first on Futurism.
We'd need an astronomical amount of resources to construct a Dyson sphere, a giant theoretical shell that would harvest all of a given star's energy, around the Sun.
In fact, as science journalist Jaime Green explores in her new book "The Possibility of Life," we'd have to go as far as to demolish a Jupiter-sized planet to build such a megastructure, a concept first devised by physicist Freeman Dyson in 1960.
"If you wanted enough material to build such a thing, you’d essentially have to disassemble a planet, and not just a small one — more like Jupiter," Green writes in her book.
It's a fascinating brain teaser that explores the fundamental motivations for a species — are intelligent beings primarily motivated to expand and use up more energy as they grow?
And it doesn't just concern humanity. Some astronomers have taken it upon themselves to look for signs of extraterrestrial life by scanning the skies for Dyson spheres lurking in other star systems. So by considering what our descendants might build, perhaps we could figure out what to search the cosmos for.
Such a sphere could allow a civilization to transition from a Type I to a Type II civilization on the Kardashev scale, a method of measuring how advanced a society is. In simple terms, instead of harnessing the energy by using all of the existing surfaces of a given planet, it uses all of the energy available from a star, or Type II.
Not everybody agrees that constructing a Dyson sphere would end up being such a huge undertaking. In an interview with Green, astrophysicist Jason Wright compared such an effort to Manhattan, a human and interconnected "megastructure," which was constructed over a long period of time, bit by bit.
"It was planned to some degree, but no one was ever like, 'Hey, let’s build a huge city here,'" Wright told Green. "It’s just every generation made it a little bigger."
In the same way, a Dyson sphere or swarm of satellites could be constructed over time to harness all of a star's energy, he argued.
"If the energy is out there to take and it’s just gonna fly away to space anyway, then why wouldn’t someone take it?" Wright told Green.
More on Dyson spheres: Aliens May Be Creating Black Holes to Store Quantum Information, Scientists Say
MIT professor and AI researcher Max Tegmark is pretty stressed out about the potential impact of artificial general intelligence (AGI) on human society. In a new essay for Time, he rings the alarm bells, painting a pretty dire picture of a future determined by an AI that can outsmart us.
"Sadly, I now feel that we're living the movie 'Don't Look Up' for another existential threat: unaligned superintelligence," Tegmark wrote, comparing what he perceives to be a lackadaisical response to a growing AGI threat to director Adam McKay's popular climate change satire.
For those who haven't seen it, "Don't Look Up" is a fictional story about a team of astronomers who, after discovering that a species-destroying asteroid is hurtling towards Earth, set out to warn the rest of human society. But to their surprise and frustration, a massive chunk of humanity doesn't care.
The asteroid is one big metaphor for climate change. But Tegmark thinks that the story can apply to the risk of AGI as well.
"A recent survey showed that half of AI researchers give AI at least ten percent chance of causing human extinction," the researcher continued. "Since we have such a long history of thinking about this threat and what to do about it, from scientific conferences to Hollywood blockbusters, you might expect that humanity would shift into high gear with a mission to steer AI in a safer direction than out-of-control superintelligence."
"Think again," he added, "instead, the most influential responses have been a combination of denial, mockery, and resignation so darkly comical that it's deserving of an Oscar."
In short, according to Tegmark, AGI is a very real threat, and human society isn't doing nearly enough to stop it — or, at the very least, isn't ensuring that AGI will be properly aligned with human values and safety.
And just like in McKay's film, humanity has two choices: begin to make serious moves to counter the threat — or, if things go the way of the film, watch our species perish.
Tegmark's claim is pretty provocative, especially considering that a lot of experts out there either don't agree that AGI will ever actually materialize, or argue that it'll take a very long time to get there, if ever. Tegmark does address this disconnect in his essay, although his argument arguably isn't the most convincing.
"I'm often told that AGI and superintelligence won't happen because it’s impossible: human-level Intelligence is something mysterious that can only exist in brains," Tegmark writes. "Such carbon chauvinism ignores a core insight from the AI revolution: that intelligence is all about information processing, and it doesn’t matter whether the information is processed by carbon atoms in brains or by silicon atoms in computers."
Tegmark goes as far as to claim that superintelligence "isn't a long-term issue," but is even "more short-term than e.g. climate change and most people's retirement planning." To support his theory, the researcher pointed to a recent Microsoft study arguing that OpenAI's large language model GPT-4 is already showing "sparks" of AGI and a recent talk given by deep learning researcher Yoshua Bengio.
While the Microsoft study isn't peer-reviewed and arguably reads more like marketing material, Bengio's warning is much more compelling. His call to action is much more grounded in what we don't know about the machine learning programs that already exist, as opposed to making big claims about tech that does not yet exist.
And the industry at large, as Tegmark further notes, hasn't exactly done an amazing job so far at ensuring a slow and safe development, arguing that we shouldn't have taught it how to code, connect it to the internet, or give it a public API.
Ultimately, if and when AGI might come to fruition is still unclear.
While there's certainly a financial incentive for the field to keep moving quickly, a lot of experts agree that we should slow down the development of more advanced AIs, regardless of whether AGI is around the corner or still lightyears away.
And in the meantime, Tegmark argues that we should agree there's a very real threat in front of us before it's too late.
"Although humanity is racing toward a cliff, we're not there yet, and there's still time for us to slow down, change course and avoid falling off – and instead enjoying the amazing benefits that safe, aligned AI has to offer," Tegmark writes. "This requires agreeing that the cliff actually exists and falling off of it benefits nobody."
"Just look up!" he added.
The post MIT Professor Compares Ignoring AGI to “Don’t Look Up” appeared first on Futurism.
For the first time, astronomers have captured the powerful jets spewing out of a black hole and the black hole itself in the same image. Until now, they'd only been able to capture them in separate images.
As detailed in a new paper in Nature, the image shows the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy Messier 87, also known as M87, and was put together using 2018 data collected by telescopes across the world, including the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile.
Astronomers combined data from these telescopes to form one virtual Earth-sized telescope with the use of a technique called interferometry, which synchronizes their signals.
Black holes like the one lurking at the center of M87 can shoot giant jets of matter far beyond the edges of their host galaxies. The scale is truly mind-boggling. The galaxy that hosts the black hole is roughly 55 million light-years away, and M87 itself is a whopping 6.5 billion times more massive than our Sun.
But how black holes like this one shoot out these jets is a process that is still a big mystery — which the new image might help unravel.
"We know that jets are ejected from the region surrounding black holes," said coauthor Ru-Sen Lu from the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory in China in a statement, "but we still do not fully understand how this actually happens. To study this directly we need to observe the origin of the jet as close as possible to the black hole."
The image builds on a previous image of the same black hole, which was taken by the Event Horizon Telescope back in 2017 and released in 2019. The new image, however, shows M87's black hole at a much longer wavelength.
"At this wavelength, we can see how the jet emerges from the ring of emission around the central supermassive black hole," said co-author Thomas Krichbaum of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, in the statement.
As a result, the new observation shows that the ring-like structure surrounding the black hole is around 50 percent larger compared to the one in ETH's 2017 image. The astronomers believe that's due to more of the material falling towards the black hole being visible in the new observations.
For now, the team says they're only getting started.
"We plan to observe the region around the black hole at the center of M87 at different radio wavelengths to further study the emission of the jet," said coauthor Eduardo Ros from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy.
That means we could get an even more intricate look at the various processes taking place in the black hole's vicinity.
"The coming years will be exciting, as we will be able to learn more about what happens near one of the most mysterious regions in the Universe," Ros added.
The post New Image of Black Hole Shows Colossal Jets Looking Like Tentacles appeared first on Futurism.
SpaceX's explosive Starship test launch last week was truly a sight to behold — and now we've got incredible, close-up footage to experience it all over again.
Released by blogger Tim Dodd, better known as "Everyday Astronaut," the incredible video shows the massive spacecraft launch from multiple angles.
But the footage we're most excited about comes halfway through the video when an ultra-high-definition tracking camera captures the rocket's epic rise and fall against a clear blue Texan sky.
Starting at around the 7:30 minute mark, an 8K tracking camera follows the rocket as it blasts off, starts spinning uncontrollably, and eventually blows itself up.
As we learned last week, the explosion captured so beautifully at the end of the video was actually intentional on SpaceX's part.
In a statement released after the prototype's test flight, the company said that after the rocket reached an apogee of more than 24 miles, "the vehicle experienced multiple engines out during the flight test, lost altitude, and began to tumble."
As a result, "the flight termination system was commanded on both the booster and ship." In other words, it self-destructed after veering off course.
While that particular part of the rocket's maiden voyage went according to plan, a lot didn't. The launch kicked up tons of debris, coating the adjacent town in a layer of grime, and punched a hole through the company's launchpad. It even set fire to a nearby state park.
But hey, experts are saying the explosion was a huge success — and the resulting footage is a marvel to look at as well.
More on SpaceX: Elon Musk Lost $13 Billion on 4/20
The post Amazing Tracking Footage Shows Starship Explosion Close Up appeared first on Futurism.
There are a handful of ways to experience weightlessness. You can jump out of a plane, go on a zero-g "vomit comet" ride — or, of course, launch into space.
Now there might be a much easier alternative as well. In a new video, inventor and popular YouTuber Colin Furze built an oversized counterweight arm to offset almost all his body weight. By strapping himself to the very end of the arm, Furze was able to jump dozens of feet into the air and even perform flips as if he was on the Moon.
Footage shows him spinning and clearing enormous obstacles. Even jumping from the roof of his barn was a breeze thanks to the one metric ton counterweight gently depositing him back on the ground.
"I can do handstands, I can float around, I can do somersaults, this is just amazing," he exclaimed in the video.
Fun for the Whole Family
Furze's innovation is well thought-out. Thanks to a controllable hydraulic ram, the length of the entire arm can be shortened or lengthened depending on the user's body weight. In other words, it can allow practically anybody to have a swing at it without risking being catapulted into the air.
In the video, the YouTuber put his latest invention to the test, performing giant leaps to tall stacks of pallets and even wall running on a sheet of plywood being held up nearby by a cherry picker.
"The more I mess around on this, the better I get at it, and this basically is just a lot of fun," Furze said in his video. "I don't know if it translates on camera as to how much fun it actually is to be in this thing."
And we have no trouble at all believing him.
More on YouTube inventions: Guy
The post YouTube Inventor Builds Incredibly Fun-Looking Weightlessness Machine appeared first on Futurism.
When it comes to employment, science and technology graduates fare only slightly better than ‘starving artists’
We’ve experimented with a bunch of naff names here in Australia. In the 1990s, Bob Hawke wanted us to become the clever country. Two decades later, Malcolm Turnbull aspired to make us an innovation nation.
Despite our apparent inability to find a sufficiently sticky catchphrase, we’ve spent decades going full steam on Stem. We are still being advised that science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) skills are crucial for Australia’s changing future. Highly skilled, highly technical jobs in knowledge-driven fields are surely going to be our ticket to increased productivity and prosperity.Continue reading…
- New artificial intelligence tool can accurately identify cancer
Exclusive: algorithm performs more efficiently and effectively than current methods, according to a study
Doctors, scientists and researchers have built an artificial intelligence model that can accurately identify
in a development they say could speed up diagnosis of the disease and fast-track patients to treatment.
Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. It results in about 10 million deaths annually, or nearly one in six deaths, according to the World Health Organization. In many cases, however, the disease can be cured if detected early and treated swiftly.Continue reading…
We've officially entered a new circle of online dating hell.
Meet Rizz, which according to its App Store profile is an AI-powered "dating assistant" that tells Tinder, Hinge, and otherwise dating app users what to say to their online matches. It connects directly to a user's keyboard for easy access, and once installed, all you really have to do is start swiping right — then, from there, just let the bot dictate your every word.
Cool. We hate it here.
"There's some amount of mental work and barrier to thinking of how to compose a message," Coyne Lloyd, a 35-year-old tech investor and Rizz user, told The Washington Post. "It's like getting started on a term paper."
And Rizz isn't the only app like this out there. As WaPo notes, a few other apps, including one called YourMove.ai, are currently on the market, while a number of dating app scoundrels have taken to the internet in recent months to tout the supposed dating app prowess of ChatGPT.
"This past summer, I got really tired of sifting through and trying to come up with responses on dating apps," YourMove.ai founder Dmitri Mirakyan told WaPo. "So I tried to see if GPT3 could flirt. It turns out it could. A month later, I built the first version [of the platform]."
Mirakyan's interest in an app like his, however, seems to go deeper than Lloyd's term paper comparison. Speaking to WaPo, he explained that he's always had a difficult time reading social cues — a dating stressor that a tool like YourMove.ai helps to alleviate.
"There's such a gap currently," he told the newspaper, "in what people like myself want to communicate and how it comes across."
That's sympathetic, in a sense, and we could see how AI assistance might benefit folks who have a tough time socially.
At the same time, however, balance is definitely still needed here. Romance is one of the most human things out there, and the digital dating world is robotic enough as it is. Do we really want everyone on the apps just passing AI-generated quips and complements back and forth for eternity? That's starting to sound like The Sims — and as humans, maybe we should shoot a little higher.
More on post-AI online dating: Man "Sure" His AI Girlfriend Will save Him When the Robots Take Over
The post Cursed New Apps Use AI to Tell You What to Say on Tinder appeared first on Futurism.
Hey there, have you ever wondered what will happen to our solar system in the future? It's a fascinating topic to think about, but it also raises some important questions about the fate of our species.
What if we could travel to other star systems and potentially colonize them? Is it even possible to develop the technology needed for such an incredible feat? And if we did succeed, what kind of future would we create for ourselves?
It's interesting to consider the possibility of time travel, too. If time travel is ever invented, why haven't we seen people from the future already? Maybe it's because we ultimately did a great job of ensuring the survival of our species, and there's no need for anyone to come back and change anything. But what if we undo all of our efforts? What if we fail to work together towards a brighter future?
That's why it's so important to focus on achieving world peace and eradicating poverty. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it could have far-reaching implications for our future. It could mean the difference between a future where we're exploring the universe and thriving as a species, and a future where we've destroyed ourselves and left nothing behind.
So let's work together towards a brighter future, and keep in mind the ultimate goal of ensuring the survival of our species. Who knows what the future holds, but by working together, we can make sure it's something we can all be proud of.
In early April, when Elon Musk randomly and very briefly replaced the Twitter bird logo with the face of the “doge” meme, the value of the dogecoin both rose and fell by a matter of billions of dollars in value on the crypto market.
Internet users reveled in the idea that a simple doge meme could impact the real world in such a dramatic way. This relative absurdity is also coupled with the fact that dogecoin itself was started in 2013 as a “joke coin,” but is now the seventh biggest cryptocurrency in the world.
The fact that a meme, based on a “peculiar” but largely unremarkable rescue dog, could rule over the fate of billions of dollars worth of market value speaks to the totally remarkable nature of the strange phenomenon of internet memes.
At one time in the internet’s history, memes were perhaps regarded as mere playful and inconsequential byproducts of online culture. However, now, it is clear that memes have very real impacts on our world. Things that leave impacts also leave history.
So not only do memes play a clear role in public discourse, but we are now appreciating that the family tree of memes holds memory. Memes are simultaneously a fascinating historical record of digital culture as well as the detritus of the cyber age.
What’s a Doge?
Originally, a random internet user posted a photograph of their shiba inu dog on their blog, after which another user saw the image and posted it to the Reddit platform. This is where the image was first paired with the word “doge” (and the word doge has its own separate history).
Some memes come and go, ending as cyber-waste in the internet graveyard—these are the cringe memes like Minions or Bad Luck Brian that haunt early Facebook timelines.
Other memes have the capacity to hold so much meaning that they have impressive longevity and traverse endless iterations, mutations, and politics. The reasons for this are many and varied, but my research shows that in the case of doge, as in the case of Pepe the Frog, the anthropomorphic nature of the icon is part of its longevity and adaptability.
We laugh at animals because they remind us of the foibles of human nature. They are easy to laugh at because they are not us, but they are enough like us that we can project our weaknesses and vulnerability on them—and laugh about them.
What Is a Meme?
I say, of course, internet memes because the term “meme” actually existed prior to the home-based use of the internet.
In a research project by James Hall and myself, we explain that even though there is some contestation about the first uses of the term, as well as its usefulness in theoretical application, it is generally conceded that Richard Dawkins coined the term in the iconic book The Selfish Gene published in 1976.
“We need a name for the new replicator, a noun that conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation. ‘Mimeme’ comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like ‘gene’. I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme.”
At the time of writing, of course, Dawkins was not referring to the classic image macros usually thought of as memes. He was referring to other cultural units, such as: “…tunes, ideas, catchphrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches”.
Dawkins felt that:
“Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation.”
As many concepts do, the term finally leeched out of the academic realm and into the popular vernacular.
What’s in a Meme?
So, what is it about memes that is so impactful?
The answer lies in understanding one of the most basic human drives: to communicate. The desire to reach out beyond the self. To be heard and, if we’re lucky, understood.
Tens of thousands of years ago, prehistoric humans painted on cave walls to communicate what was important to them. In 2023, we scrawl memes across the internet. These two practices are, essentially, the same thing.
Media theorist Mark Deuze has made this point before:
“It’s like cave paintings; what are we painting on the wall—stories about who we are, where do we belong and what really matters to the community that we think we are a part of—that’s the definition of every status update […] it used to be that only a privileged few could paint the walls of the cave; now we’re all doing it.”
Just as we use cave paintings today in order to reflect on the very origins of the human condition, in time, we will use the archive of memes as a tree of knowledge to appreciate the complex web of communication we are building for ourselves on the grand project of the internet. They will help to archive the very earliest incarnations of how humans felt about communicating on digital platforms.
For those of us who grew up before the internet, it is almost bizarre to think that not only are memes a legitimate genre that holds masses of cultural information, but they also have history, even memory.
They may not be high art, and they may be totally organic and spontaneous, but perhaps that is why we feel they are so authentic. They document—in fantastically messy and complex ways—how cultural material moves around, grows, dies and, in the case of doge, becomes born again.
This is an edition of The Atlantic Daily, a newsletter that guides you through the biggest stories of the day, helps you discover new ideas, and recommends the best in culture. Sign up for it here.
Good morning, and welcome back to The Daily’s Sunday culture edition, in which one Atlantic staffer reveals what’s keeping them entertained.
Today’s special guest is Damon Beres, an Atlantic senior editor who oversees our Technology section. Damon also recently wrote about the high-stakes bluster of Elon Musk for this newsletter, and covered BuzzFeed’s pivot to AI-generated personality quizzes in January. In today’s edition, he endorses the underappreciated comedic brilliance of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in a certain 2000s rom-com, as well as a wise picture book about a sloth, and he makes a case for quiet-loud music.
First, here are three Sunday reads from The Atlantic:
- Jerry Springer explained it all.
- John Mulaney's Baby J takes apart a likable comedian.
- I don’t want to smell you get high.
The Culture Survey: Damon Beres
Something I recently rewatched, reread, or otherwise revisited: Along Came Polly, the 2004 rom-com with Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston—and, much more important, Philip Seymour Hoffman. Everyone knows he was one of the great actors of his era, but if you haven’t seen him slip and fall on the hardwood floor at the start of this movie, well, you don’t really know anything at all. It’s pure comedic brilliance.
Something delightful introduced to me by a kid in my life: My 1-year-old is obsessed with books. He wakes up in the morning pointing to his bookshelf and repeating “Books, books, books,” like an incantation. He pronounces it like the end of “Malibu,” or like he’s trying to scare someone on Halloween. Boo-ks, boo-ks, boo-ks.
One of his favorites is “Slowly, Slowly, Slowly,” said the Sloth, by Eric Carle, the author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Sloth is all about owning who you are and navigating the perceptions of others. In the book, the sloth lives an existence that is truly its own. The other animals of the rainforest judge it. A rude jaguar comes up and asks why it’s so lazy. And on its own time, to no one in particular—the jaguar’s not even on the page anymore—the sloth eventually offers:
It is true that I am slow, quiet and boring. I am lackadaisical, I dawdle and I dillydally. I am also unflappable, languid, stoic, impassive, sluggish, lethargic, placid, calm, mellow, laid-back and, well, slothful! I am relaxed and tranquil, and I like to live in peace. But I am not lazy … That’s just how I am. I like to do things slowly, slowly, slowly.
It’s a beautiful message. Take your time. Be yourself. Don’t take any nonsense from cats.
A favorite story I’ve read in The Atlantic: I’ll never forget Ian Bogost’s 2022 article “The Internet Is Just Investment Banking Now.” When it published, I was working at a start-up that operated to some extent in the “web3” space, which I had mixed feelings about. Ian’s story put everything into perspective. It is, to this day, the smartest, most clear-headed and creative essay on the issues with that particular technological paradigm that I’ve come across—an outstanding piece of analytical writing. About one year later, I work here and get to call Ian a colleague. Happy ending.
My favorite way of wasting time on my phone: If I really need to let my brain go soft and get the drool flowing, I’ll boot up Holedown, a simple game that involves aiming balls at numbered barriers that halt your progress through a tunnel. Sometimes you can ricochet off of the barriers just right to maximize your score. It’s satisfying and low-stakes, but just short of mindless—an ideal game, in other words.
An actor I would watch in anything: I very happily watched Ethan Hawke wander the aisles of a Blockbuster Video while he recited the famous “To be, or not to be” monologue in the 2000 film adaptation of Hamlet. I’m one of his ride-or-dies. I can’t wait to see him in the new Pedro Almodóvar short film Strange Way of Life. It looks divine.
A quiet song that I love, and a loud song that I love: Allow me a slight cheat. It’s “Rid of Me,” by PJ Harvey. It is the best quiet rock song. It is the best loud rock song. The balance is everything. Half of this track is like twisting the handle on the world’s heaviest jack-in-the-box, and the other half is the fireball that pops out.
I love music that plays with this dichotomy. The Japanese band Boris—definitely not for everyone—opens their album Pink with a song called “Farewell.” It has a gauzy, dreamlike lead-in that explodes into something much bigger and more cantankerous. Most of the tracks that follow are profoundly loud, complex metal music.
A gentler version of this is happening in popular music too. Mitski can pulverize you with “Your Best American Girl” or “A Pearl,” but she’s also tender and vibey. If anything, I’ve found her almost subdued the couple of times I’ve seen her on tour, but it’s also been clarifying to see how clearly she impacts the audience, which is younger and cooler than I am. People are crying and singing along. A similar thing seems to be happening with boygenius: Its music is quiet-loud.
Rather than allowing volume to be a stand-in for emotional communication—the “quiet” stuff is sad or wistful; the “loud” stuff is angry—listeners can find something valuable in a kind of commingling. It reminds me of the name of a Daniel Clowes comic, Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron: The soft and hard can go together. It’s the mood. [Related: “Rock and roll ain’t what it used to be.”]
The Week Ahead
- Chain Gang All Stars, the new novel by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah in which convicted murderers fight to the death, on television, for the chance to win their freedom (on sale Tuesday)
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, a “cheerful goodbye” to the Marvel franchise that shows what the superhero genre has been missing (in theaters nationwide Friday)
- The coronation of King Charles, which, according to the Royal Family’s official website, promises to “reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry” (live coverage begins Saturday at 5 a.m. ET on ABC, CNN, NBC, SkyNews’ YouTube channel, and elsewhere)
The Painstaking Journey to a David Grann Book
By John Hendrickson
First, some swashbuckling. The journalist David Grann embarks on a multi-leg journey from New York to Florida to Santiago, an annoying combination of planes and customs and cars and ferries en route to Chiloé Island, a little strip off the coast of Chile. There, he meets the boat captain who has agreed to steer him hundreds of miles farther south, to Wager Island, a place where nobody lives.
Storms have rolled in. To Grann’s surprise, the captain’s vessel is much smaller than it appeared in the photos. The tiny crew needs to chop wood to keep it heated; they retrieve drinking water from nearby glaciers. Out at sea, the boat’s top-heaviness reveals itself. No combination of Dramamine and anti-nausea wristbands and behind-the-ear patches can save an uninitiated stomach against these waves near the bottom of the Earth.
More in Culture
- What to read when you need to start over
- The song that captures the evolution of Willie Nelson
- When you crave some comforting strangeness
- Kenan Orhan on exile and memory
- Short story: “The Renovation”
- A splashy drama about the diplomacy of marriage
- Why women never stop coming of age
- How Harry Belafonte transformed American music
- Tucker Carlson’s final moments on Fox were as dangerous as they were absurd.
- The most telling moments from the E. Jean Carroll–Donald Trump depositions
Catch Up on The Atlantic
- The Kyrsten Sinema theory of American politics
- Long-haulers are trying to define themselves.
- AI is a waste of time.
An observation of Anzac Day in Australia (pictured), classic-car racing in England, and more of our editor’s selected photos of the week
It has been 70 years since the world last witnessed the crowning of a new British monarch. On Tuesday, May 2, The Atlantic’s editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, will join our U.K.-based staff writers Sophie Gilbert and Helen Lewis to talk about the new era of the monarchy and its role both within the United Kingdom and on the international stage. Register for the event here.
On April 10, 1998, political leaders signed the Good Friday Agreement, a peace deal largely ending the Troubles, a violent 30-year conflict between British unionists and Irish nationalists in Northern Ireland. I wrote “The Comic Turn” to acknowledge the 25th anniversary of the signing.
— Stephen Sexton
In the cave-dark days
of tribes and spears,
one of us made
the image of a hand
blowing ochre and spit
through a bone pipe.
Someone was the first
to notice a chevron of geese
flies with a hundred quills.
Someone ran her fingers
along her father’s horse’s tail
and thought of music.
But however crude or fine
or ingenious it is,
the instrument is not the art.
These many generations,
tragedy has been our art:
the fatally flawed song
of a goat, the sorry ends
of great and decent people
bullied by circumstance.
What describes us now,
better than tragedy,
the song of a village,
its ordinary greatnesses,
trials and private griefs;
a story of the young
bewildered by the old,
by tradition’s glittery yoke.
In the comedy, jokes aside,
the past says yes to the future,
disguises are unraveled,
the warlike are pacified,
banquets, wine, marriages
follow lovers into history.
Whatever way it plays,
we know comedy by how
it must end: happiness.
And if its indefinite,
sure trajectory is happiness,
let us all be comedians
destined for it, who improvise,
who wing it on the hoof
according to our most
modest golden rule, which is
to say Yes and—? Yes and—?
while forever listens in.
Donald Trump inspires an uncommon devotion among his most ardent followers, which can obscure a surprising fact about his present political position: Many, if not most, Republicans do not want him to be their party’s next nominee for president. As of today, according to the polling averages of both FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics, Trump has consolidated only half of the Republican primary vote, with the rest split among Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, and a handful of other alternatives. The numbers suggest that despite the former president’s best efforts, half of his own party’s voters want to move on. What they can’t agree on is who should displace Trump as their standard-bearer.
If this sounds familiar, it should. In 2016, Trump was repeatedly outpolled by the field of Republican candidates, and hovered around 35 percent on the eve of the Iowa caucuses in February, which he then lost to Senator Ted Cruz. But as the campaign wore on, Trump’s devoted following of a third of GOP primary voters was enough to propel him to victory over a divided group of opponents. He was greatly helped by their tactics—or lack thereof. Instead of attacking Trump as the front-runner, his rivals assailed one another, hoping that Trump would collapse of his own accord and they would inherit his supporters. Rather than consolidate behind a single alternative to Trump, the other contenders fought onward in state after state. This infighting enabled Trump to scoop up the most delegates, even though he never won a state with more than 50 percent of the vote until New York’s primary, on April 19. Soon, Trump’s opponents were out of money and he was the presumptive nominee.
The primary worked out poorly for the GOP establishment and its professional politicians, who found themselves on the losing end of a hostile takeover by an outsider. Yet in the run-up to the 2024 election, the Republican Party looks set to repeat this pattern, with Trump cruising to renomination amid a splintered field. The question is why.
A week ago, conservatives gathered at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s spring kickoff, a prelude to the presidential campaign. For Trump’s challengers, the event offered the opportunity to introduce themselves to an influential electorate and explain why they should succeed the former president as the Republican nominee. But that is not exactly what happened. “The candidates who bothered to make the trip barely bothered to try to knock the front-runner from his perch,” The New York Times reported. “Their strategy appeared straightforward: Avoid confrontation with the better-known, better-funded front-runners, hope Mr. Trump’s attacks take out—or at least take down—Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor who is second in most Republican polls, and hope outside forces, namely indictments, take out Mr. Trump.” Indeed, the only candidate who drew any fire at all was DeSantis, who did not attend the gathering, and ended up serving less as an alternative to Trump than as his human shield.
Trump enters the 2024 campaign with an array of new vulnerabilities that could be readily exploited by an ambitious opponent eager to appeal to the Republican primary electorate. You got rolled by Dr. Fauci and locked down the country, then lost to a doddering old man in an election you claimed was stolen but whose heist you proved powerless to prevent, they might say. Challengers like DeSantis might also point to national polls that show the Florida governor outperforming Trump in a matchup with President Joe Biden (who himself once rode an air of electability to the nomination). While you and your handpicked candidates in Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania have been losing elections, I’ve been winning them by historic margins in Florida.
So far, none of this has happened. The arguments may be there, but no one of consequence is making them. Instead, history seems poised to repeat, with Trump primed to win renomination against a divided field of opponents who refuse to take him on until it’s too late. This may appear baffling, but there are actually good reasons no challenger has been willing to take the fight to Trump.
To begin with, it’s easy to propose that Trump-skeptical Republicans should unite behind a single theoretical candidate. It’s a lot harder to find an actual candidate who can unite them. Ron DeSantis voters want something different than Nikki Haley voters, who want something different than voters for Senator Tim Scott. Back in 2020, the Democratic Party solved a similar problem by turning to Biden to defeat the surging socialist Bernie Sanders. But Biden was a popular former vice president whom most factions found acceptable, if not ideal. No candidate in today’s Republican Party has Biden’s broad shoulders and innocuous appeal.
Similarly, Biden’s success was made possible by his lock on a core constituency of the Democratic primary electorate: Black voters. He lost badly in the early primary states, but took 49 percent in South Carolina, buoyed by then–House Whip Jim Clyburn’s fulsome endorsement. In the 2024 Republican primary, only one candidate has the demonstrated devotion of a key constituency, and that’s Trump with his base.
This is also why tearing into Trump is such an imposing prospect. While it’s true that there are new lines of attack that might work on today’s Trump, whoever is the first to unleash them will likely bear the brunt of the backlash from his supporters. No candidate wants to be the first into the fray, because turning on Trump may doom their prospects, even if it opens up political space for others.
This is the reason Republican contenders have once again fallen back on the hope that Trump will collapse on his own, and that outside forces—the justice system, the media, even old age—will swoop in and take care of the former president for them. But Trump’s indictments won’t sway Republican primary voters who have already dismissed them, and the mainstream media’s critical coverage won’t persuade GOP loyalists who don’t read or trust it.
The hard truth that Republican challengers have yet to absorb is that if their strategy to beat Trump is to hope that someone else beats Trump for them, they are not serious alternatives to Trump. Likewise, expecting people outside the Republican Party to police the Republican Party is not a strategy; it’s a surrender. The only actors who have any chance of altering the primary’s trajectory are those with credibility in Republican politics, whether they are politicians or popular commentators. There’s no guarantee that taking on Trump will yield a different outcome, but refusing to do so guarantees him a glide path to the nomination.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has long presented himself as a principled champion of “freedom.” In Congress, he was a founding member of the Freedom Caucus. He refers to himself as “governor of the free state of Florida.” And while laying the groundwork for a possible presidential run, he is promoting a book on his approach that he titled The Courage to Be Free.
On Wednesday, Florida’s biggest employer, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, filed a lawsuit alleging that DeSantis is violating its First Amendment right to freedom of speech. According to the complaint, “a targeted campaign of government retaliation—orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech—now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights.”
The case will subject DeSantis’s understanding of freedom and what protecting it requires to the crucible of constitutional law. And his position is likelier to shatter than to withstand the heat.
“The facts and law in this case are not good for Governor DeSantis,” former Representative Justin Amash, who was also a member of the Freedom Caucus, said on Twitter. “He and his allies took action not to make all companies live by the same rules but instead to target Disney with harsh conditions that apply to Disney alone—all as punishment for constitutionally protected speech.”
The controversy began in 2022, during DeSantis’s ultimately successful push to pass the Parental Rights in Education Act, which opponents have disparagingly dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law. Among other things, the law forbids public schools from engaging in any classroom discussion or instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity prior to fourth grade.
After legislators passed the law, as it awaited DeSantis’s signature, Disney employees protested the company’s silence, prompting Disney’s then-CEO, Bob Chapek, to speak publicly against it.
Soon Disney was declaring, “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that”––a lawful stance that DeSantis treated as illegitimate. “It is one thing to take a position opposing the bill, even if by doing so the company is perpetuating the left’s false narratives,” he wrote in his book. “But it is quite another for Disney to pledge to work to seek the repeal of legislation.” With that promise, “supposedly family-friendly Disney was moving beyond mere virtue signaling to liberal activists,” he continued. “Instead, the company was pledging a frontal assault on a duly enacted law of the state of Florida.”
That formulation is strange. Opposing a bill’s passage and favoring a law’s repeal are equally legitimate civic actions. Neither is equivalent to violating, let alone assaulting, the law. Yet according to Disney’s lawsuit, DeSantis has been retaliating against the company for its lawful advocacy. For example, when Disney World was created, the Tallahassee Democrat explains, “neither Orange nor Osceola counties had the services to provide power and water to the remote 25,000-acre property.” So in 1967, “the Florida Legislature, working with Walt Disney World Co., created a special taxing district—called the Reedy Creek Improvement District—that would act with the same authority and responsibility as a county government,” and allow Disney to levy extra taxes on itself to improve roads and other infrastructure. After Disney spoke out against DeSantis’s bill, the governor and his allies eliminated that arrangement. Of course, Florida is within its rights to reconsider and end any of the special districts it has created for businesses––but the Constitution does not permit the state to take even otherwise lawful actions in retaliation for engaging in protected speech.
Not only is the ability to engage in political speech without being punished by the state a right that the Supreme Court has recognized for individuals and corporate entities alike; it is at the core of the First Amendment’s freedom-of-speech guarantee. But DeSantis has described an alternative view of what it means for the state to protect freedom: all the usual things, plus shielding the public from the left’s activism.
To understand his position, consider remarks he delivered last week at the College of Charleston, during a stop on his book tour. For long stretches of his speech, it was easy to mistake him for a conventional supporter of expansive freedoms. “We’re No. 1 for economic freedom, we’re No. 1 for education freedom, we are No. 1 for parental involvement in education, we’re No. 1 for public higher education … and famously––and as long as I’m around, permanently––we have no state income tax,” he bragged of his record in Florida. “None of that would have been possible had we not stepped up to the plate when COVID arrived on the scene. When the world went mad, when common sense suddenly became an uncommon virtue, it was Florida that stood as a refuge of sanity and a citadel of freedom.”
As a Californian, I understand that pitch’s appeal. Despite better food, weather, and scenery, and fewer shark attacks, lightning strikes, and predatory reptiles creeping around public spaces, my state is losing residents while Florida gains them. Our dearth of freedom to build new dwellings has burdened us with punishing housing costs and immiserating homelessness. Our dearth of educational freedom consigns kids from poor families to failing schools. Our higher-than-average taxes do not yield better-than-average public services or assistance. And during the coronavirus pandemic, far from being a refuge of sanity, California responded with a lot of unscientific overzealousness, like the needless closure of beaches and parks.
Precisely because I value freedom highly, I was alarmed by other parts of DeSantis’s pitch, where he construes what it means for Floridians to be free so expansively that he winds up advocating for the use of state power in ways that would stymie the freedom of his ideological opponents. As DeSantis put it in his College of Charleston speech, the people of Florida are on his side insofar as they want an economy where businesses “focus on their core mission of providing whatever service or whatever they’re doing in the economy and not getting mired into woke political activism.” He specifically attacked Disney and a recent Bud Light campaign for aligning with LGBTQ activists in the culture wars.
This line on corporations echoed his perspective in his book. “Woke capital exerts a pernicious influence on society in several ways,” DeSantis wrote. “Of course, it is a free country, and they have the right to take these positions.” Of course. But onstage in Charleston, he didn’t just complain that “you have different institutions in society that are trying to advance the woke agenda.” “We fight it everywhere we can,” he said of wokeness in Florida, explaining: “I don’t think you have a truly free state just because you have low taxes, low regulation, and no COVID restrictions, if the left is able to impose its agenda through the education system, through the business sphere, through all these others. A free state means you’re protecting your people from the left’s pathologies across the board.” I’d describe that as an anti-woke nanny state, not a state that values and protects freedom.
Neither my freedom nor yours requires the state to protect us from an entertainment company urging the state legislature to repeal a bill, or a beer company putting a trans influencer on a can, or whatever else DeSantis regards as a pathology. Indeed, we remain free in part because the First Amendment prevents the state from engaging in that sort of viewpoint discrimination.
In Charleston last week, DeSantis questioned the legitimacy of seeking change through civil society rather than elected legislatures, a practice that is inextricable from life in a liberal democracy. According to DeSantis, the “constitutional” way to change policy is, “You run elections and you can put people [in office] to influence policy.” Woke companies, in contrast, “know their policies would never be able to pass muster at the ballot box. So what they’re trying to do is an end run around the constitutional system, use their economic power to impose these policies outside the normal system,” with no electoral recourse. “If you want to preserve freedom in this country,” he said, “we need to be fighting back against woke capital.”
But working for cultural change through nongovernmental institutions and associations is not an end run around the constitutional system––the Constitution explicitly protects our ability to associate with whomever we like and to speak collectively on behalf of or against any policy or practice, whether as Disney or Hobby Lobby, the ACLU or the NRA, Dylan Mulvaney or Matt Walsh. In our constitutional system, politicians who don’t like that cannot lawfully do anything about it.
DeSantis is not alone among governors in transgressing such boundaries. For example, as David French complained last month in his New York Times column, ”Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the State of California would not renew a multimillion-dollar contract with Walgreens—not because Walgreens had failed to comply with its contractual obligations but rather because it had responded to Republican legal warnings and decided not to dispense an abortion pill in 21 red states. Newsom used his political power to punish a corporate position he opposed.”
What’s more, denying that corporations have free-speech rights to influence the political process was coded as progressive until very recently. Much of the left was apoplectic in 2010 when the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United that corporations have the same First Amendment rights that individuals do and that “there is simply no support for the view that the First Amendment, as originally understood, would permit the suppression of political speech by media corporations.” Regardless, that is the law of the land. In spite of it, DeSantis and his allies are treating opposition to their agenda as if it legitimates punishment. In doing so, they betray a dearth of confidence in their supposed conviction that we’re best off with freedom and shrink any faith I had in their willingness to respect mine.
Scientific Reports, Published online: 30 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-34286-6Development and validation of a questionnaire to test Chinese patients’ knowledge of
Scientific Reports, Published online: 30 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-34150-7Current vehicle emission standards will not mitigate climate change or improve air quality
On his wedding day, Tim Sullivan’s much-loved dad suddenly collapsed and died on what should have been the happiest of days. But what he learned has shaped his life
It was all set to be one of the happiest days of my life, 9 September 1989. I was getting married. Everything leading up to the date had gone smoothly. The wedding was taking place in a small church, St Teilo’s in Bishopston Valley on the Gower peninsula. About 130 friends and family had made the trip down to South Wales. After the ceremony, Rachel and I were going to process up the hill from the church to the reception at my in-laws’ home, led by a small jazz band and followed by our guests. But as we left the church, my father suddenly collapsed and died in my arms. He was 65, exactly the age I am now as I write this.
It’s a moment I remember vividly. A moment that affected what I went on to write about in my career and how I wrote it. A moment that demonstrated how tragic things have a habit of occurring at the happiest and most unexpected of times.Continue reading…
The founders of Melbourne’s Steam Room program believe scientists can make their work more accessible through humour. Will their hypothesis prove true?
Five scientists walk into a theatre and try standup for the first time. Does hilarity ensue?
Yes, according to the producers of the Steam Room – a program in which comedians teach a team of scientists how to be funny. The result, after weeks of improv classes and intensive workshops, is several nights of science-inflected live comedy performed around Australia.Continue reading…
Department of Health asks watchdog to assess effectiveness of giving semaglutide to obese youngsters aged 12 to 17
Children as young as 12 in England could be given weight-loss injections on the NHS after the government asked medical watchdog Nice to assess the potential benefits of prescribing them to under-18s.
Department of Health officials have asked the watchdog to evaluate the clinical and cost effectiveness of giving semaglutide injections to obese children aged 12 to 17, “in addition to healthy nutrition and increased physical activity”, the Observer can reveal.Continue reading…
– Jag såg en flaska försvinna i öknen och mitt begär försvann med den, säger han i ”Vetenskapens värld: Droger som medicin”.
This week, our reposts focused on happenings at the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna, Austria with a few other articles in between. We hope you enjoy this peek into a large scientifc conference with over 18,000 participants from across the globe!
Links posted on Facebook
- It’s Earth Day—and the News Isn’t Good by Elizabeth Kolbert, Daily Comment, The New Yorker Magazine, Apr 22, 2023
- EGU Today – Monday April 24 by EGU, European Geosciences Union, Apr 24, 2023
- European State of the Climate – Cryosphere by Climate Change Service, Copernicus, Apr 19, 2023
- EGU2023 – Highlights from the last week of April by Bärbel Winkler, Skeptical Science, Apr 25, 2023
- EGU Today – Tuesday April 25 by EGU, European Geosciences Union, Apr 25, 2023
- At a glance – The greenhouse effect and the 2nd law of thermodynamics by John Mason & BaerbelW, Skeptical Science, Apr 18, 2023
- Recent, rapid ocean warming ahead of El Niño alarms scientists by Matt McGrath and Mark Poynting, BBC News website, April 25, 2023
- EGU2023 – Highlights from the last week of April – Tuesday by Bärbel Winkler, Skeptical Science, Apr 26, 2023
- EGU Today – Wednesday April 26 by EGU, European Geosciences Union, Apr 26, 2023
- EGU2023 – Highlights from the last week of April – Wednesday by Bärbel Winkler, Skeptical Science, Apr 27, 2023
- EGU Today – Thursday April 27 by EGU, European Geosciences Union, Apr 27, 2023
- EGU2023 – Highlights from the last week of April – Thursday by Bärbel Winkler, Skeptical Science, Apr 28, 2023
- State of the climate: Growing El Niño threatens more extreme heat in 2023 by Zeke Hausfather, CarbonBrief, Apr 28, 2023
- EGU Today – Friday April 24 by EGU, European Geosciences Union, Apr 28, 2023
- EGU2023 – Highlights from the last week of April – Friday by Bärbel Winkler, Skeptical Science, Apr 28, 2023
- An Agricultural Drought In East Africa Was Caused by Climate Change, Scientists Find by Georgina Gustin, Inside Climate News, Apr 27, 2023
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Nature Communications, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38199-wGerm cells undergo dramatic chromatin and transcriptomic changes during spermatogenesis, though how this is controlled is not well established. Here they show that RNA-binding protein