August 2019 (Links)

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/08/interlocking-puzzle-allowed-life-emerge/595945/

“Go back far enough in time, before animals and plants and even bacteria existed, and you’d find that the precursor of all life—what scientists call a “protocell”—likely had this same trinity of parts: RNA and proteins, in a membrane.”

But how the membranes could form in a hostile environment was unclear. “They’ve shown that the spheres can withstand both salt and magnesium ions, as long as they’re in the presence of amino acids—the simple molecules that are the building blocks of proteins. “

“It seemed that people were just waving their hands and attributing this crucial convergence to some random event. Black, instead, suggested that the membranes themselves were key. If fatty acids can stick to the constituents of both proteins and RNA, they could have gathered these building blocks together as they themselves assembled. “

https://www.wired.com/story/forget-the-robot-singularity-apocalypse-lets-talk-about-the-multiplicity/?verso=true

“The robot revolution we are in the midst of is actually way more interesting. Goldberg calls it the multiplicity. “Multiplicity is not science fiction,” he says. “It’s something that’s happening right now, and it’s the idea of humans and machines working together.” So welcome to the future, where robots do things like gently hand us screwdrivers instead of stabbing us with them. “

I like the argument in this article a lot, we use machines and work together with them, they are not (in all aspects but very limited use, like Go or chess) usurping/supplanting us.

“Very few robots out there are meant to actually replace human labor, and there’s little research to suggest that the jobless future is nigh.”

https://www.synthego.com/blog/crispr-zebrafish

Zebrafish as a research animal (vs mouse and the like). They are better because they are externally laid and fertilized (easy manipulation), and transparent. “84 percent of genes known to be associated with human disease have a counterpart in zebrafish.”

https://aeon.co/ideas/how-ergodicity-reimagines-economics-for-the-benefit-of-us-all

“… the set of ideas now called ‘Ergodicity Economics’ is overturning a fundamental concept at the heart of economics, with radical implications for the way we approach uncertainty and cooperation. The economics group at LML is attempting to redevelop economic theory from scratch, starting with the axiom that individuals optimise what happens to them over time, not what happens to them on average in a collection of parallel worlds.”

Talking about expected utility theory: “But there is one odd feature in this framework of expectations – it essentially eliminates time.” “But that’s a mistake. This inspired LML efforts to rewrite the foundations of economic theory, avoiding the lure of averaging over possible outcomes, and instead averaging over outcomes in time, with one thing happening after another, as in the real world.”

http://paulgraham.com/re.html

A very long (and good) essay on ‘The Refragmentation’. Some notes/quotes:

  • “One advantage of being old is that you can see change happen in your lifetime. A lot of the change I’ve seen is fragmentation. “
  • “In the middle of the century our two big forces intersect, in the form of the GI Bill, which sent 2.2 million World War II veterans to college. Few thought of it in these terms, but the result of making college the canonical path for the ambitious was a world in which it was socially acceptable to work for Henry Ford, but not to be Henry Ford. “
  • “In the early 20th century, big companies were synonymous with efficiency. In the late 20th century they were synonymous with inefficiency. “
  • “It wasn’t just within existing industries that change occurred. The industries themselves changed. It became possible to make lots of new things, and sometimes the existing companies weren’t the ones who did it best. “
  • “The word used for this process was misleadingly narrow: deregulation. What was really happening was de-oligopolization. It happened to one industry after another. Two of the most visible to consumers were air travel and long-distance phone service, which both became dramatically cheaper after deregulation. “
  • “Ambitious people started to think of a career less as climbing a single ladder than as a series of jobs that might be at different companies.” (see The Alliance)
  • “Nothing is forever, but the tendency toward fragmentation should be more forever than most things, precisely because it’s not due to any particular cause. It’s simply a reversion to the mean. When Rockefeller said individualism was gone, he was right for a hundred years. It’s back now, and that’s likely to be true for longer. “

“Hercules (beagle with gene edit) is far from alone, as China is seeing an explosion in CRISPR-based animal studies and embracing the gene-editing technology with unrivalled zest and zeal—so much so that China could soon outpace the US in CRISPR-related research papers and patents across fields such as medical research, agriculture, and industrial applications. “

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-49359137

“Blobology: The electron microscope’s resolution has improved from showing shapeless blobs to visualising molecules at atomic resolution “

https://stratechery.com/2019/privacy-fundamentalism/

“[T]hat everything you do online is logged in obscene detail, that you have no privacy. And yet, even expecting this, I was bowled over by the scale and detail of the tracking; even for short stints on the web, when I logged into Invasive Firefox just to check facts and catch up on the news, the amount of information collected about my endeavors was staggering.”

In the article, the writer of Stratechery takes a closer look at tracking pixels and sees that not all are created equal/some are actually useful.

https://waitbutwhy.com/2019/08/fire-light.html

Wait But Why is back. Now with a series of articles about, uhh, everything. About human nature, relationships, and more. This is Part 1: The Power Games.

“Animals are just a hack these outlier genes came up with—temporary containers designed to carry the genes and help them stay immortal.”

“Genes are like gravity—they don’t care. They want to stay immortal, and they’ll pursue that goal as relentlessly as gravity fuses atoms inside stars.”

“Not only could this mind within a mind think its own thoughts, it could actually overrule the will of the genes, override the software’s commands, and drive human behavior.”

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614080/what-if-aging-werent-inevitable-but-a-curable-disease/

“What if aging weren’t inevitable, but a curable disease?”

Article about the view (and a bit of science) of seeing ageing as a disease and treating it that way. Ageing as underlying cause and something we can target.

“Another common objection to the aging-as-a-disease hypothesis is that labeling old people as diseased will add to the stigma they already face. “

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