the lavin weekly | December 15, 2017

The Lavin Weekly: An Atlantic Interview, Fake News, Robot-Proof Kids, and What Really Caused the Agricultural Revolution

In this Lavin Weekly, Nikole Hannah-JonesAtlantic Interview; Derek Thompson talks fake news; Martin Ford is asked if a person can robot-proof their kid’s future; and Reza Aslan breaks down the agricultural revolution. 

1.“Whether you have integrated communities or segregated communities, you have school segregation.” 

The Atlantic Interview with Nikole Hannah-Jones came out this week. It’s enlightening and devastating and candid. Hannah-Jones asks, “is there a single place in this country where black kids are getting the same education as white kids? No. Not one. I challenge any listener, if you know of a place, and you can send the data, send it to me.” 


2. “The mere exposure of any stimulus to you, biases you toward that stimulus.”

“This is called the ‘mere exposure effect,’” says Derek Thompson in Big Think this week. And “it’s one of the big reasons why it’s difficult to myth-bust on television or myth-bust in journalism.” It’s a brain quirk. And sites like Facebook have an ethical responsibility not to exploit it. 


3. “The most vulnerable jobs in the robot economy are those involving predictable, repetitive tasks.”

However even some creative fields are at risk, says Martin Ford in the New York Times this week. In May, Google’s AlphaGo software defeated a 19-year-old Chinese master at Go—considered the world’s most complicated board game. “If you talk to the best Go players, even they can’t explain what they’re doing. They’ll describe a it as a ‘feeling.’ It’s moving into the realm of intuition. And yet a computer was able to prove that it can beat anyone in the world.” 


4. “The agricultural revolution might have been a net negative for humanity.”

Why did we stop hunting and gathering, and planting and harvesting instead? Reza Aslan suggests in Big Think this week that religion is the culprit: “In order to feed the workers who built massive temples over the course of many decades, and the thousands of people who would come to the temple, it was necessary to come up with food surplus options … but we’ve discovered now that the process of farming actually created a whole range of new disease and social problems.” 


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