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Is 'Progress' Good for Humanity?

Is 'Progress' Good for Humanity?
The stock narrative of the Industrial Revolution is one of moral and economic progress. Indeed, economic progress is cast as moral progress. The story tends to go something like this: Inventors, economists, and statesmen in Western Europe dreamed up a new industrialized world. Fueled by the optimism and scientific know-how of the Enlightenment, a series of heroic men—James Watt, Adam Smith, William Huskisson, and so on—fought back against the stultifying effects of regulated economies, irrational laws and customs, and a traditional guild structure that quashed innovation. By the mid-19th century, they had managed to implement a laissez-faire (“free”) economy that ran on new machines and was centered around modern factories and an urban working class. Europe had rescued itself from the pre-industrial misery that had hampered humankind since the dawn of time. Sadly, this saccharine story still sweetens our societal self-image. But what if we rethink the narrative of progress? Related:  The Idea of ProgressIdea of Progress

Why Women Don't Want to Vote IN 1895 the women of Massachusetts were asked by the state whether they wished the suffrage. Of the 575,000 voting women in the state, only 22,204 cared for it enough to deposit in a ballot box an affirmative answer to this question. That is, in round numbers, less than four per cent wished to vote; about ninety-six per cent were opposed to woman suffrage or indifferent to it. That this expresses fairly well the average sentiment throughout the country can hardly be questioned. There may be some Western states in which the proportion of women who, for one reason or another, desire the suffrage is somewhat larger; on the other hand, there are Southern states in which it is even less. Certainly few men or women will doubt that at the present time an overwhelming majority of women are either reluctant to accept the ballot or indifferent to it. Open an acorn: in it we find the oak in all its parts,—root, trunk, branches. "Come, you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here."

Will a robot take your job? Type your job title into the search box below to find out the likelihood that it could be automated within the next two decades. About 35% of current jobs in the UK are at high risk of computerisation over the following 20 years, according to a study by researchers at Oxford University and Deloitte. Tap here for the interactive. Sources 'The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to automation'. Methodology Oxford University academics Michael Osborne and Carl Frey calculated how susceptible to automation each job is based on nine key skills required to perform it; social perceptiveness, negotiation, persuasion, assisting and caring for others, originality, fine arts, finger dexterity, manual dexterity and the need to work in a cramped work space. The research was originally carried out using detailed job data from the United States O*NET employment database. Some job names have been edited for clarity. Intelligent Machines - a BBC News series looking at AI and robotics

Could Fighting Global Warming Be Cheap and Free? This just in: Saving the planet would be cheap; it might even be free. But will anyone believe the good news? I’ve just been reading two new reports on the economics of fighting climate change: a big study by a blue-ribbon international group, the New Climate Economy Project, and a working paper from the International Monetary Fund. But you know that such assessments will be met with claims that it’s impossible to break the link between economic growth and ever-rising emissions of greenhouse gases, a position I think of as “climate despair.” Where is the new optimism about climate change and growth coming from? On one side, there has been dramatic progress in renewable energy technology, with the costs of solar power, in particular, plunging, down by half just since 2010. On the other side, it turns out that putting a price on carbon would have large “co-benefits” — positive effects over and above the reduction in climate risks — and that these benefits would come fairly quickly.

Historiana : Case Study : Suffragettes and suffragists: the campaign for women’s voting rights: Britain and the wider world Suffragettes and suffragists: the campaign for women’s voting rights: Britain and the wider world The introduction of women's suffrage came at different times in different places. The struggle to achieve votes for women began in the late 18th century but had little success until the early 20th century - even at the beginning of the 21st century there are still countries where votes for women are restricted or denied. ShareThis

The Current State of Machine Intelligence (The 2016 Machine Intelligence landscape and post can be found here) I spent the last three months learning about every artificial intelligence, machine learning, or data related startup I could find — my current list has 2,529 of them to be exact. Yes, I should find better things to do with my evenings and weekends but until then… Why do this? A few years ago, investors and startups were chasing “big data” (I helped put together a landscape on that industry). What is “machine intelligence,” anyway? I mean “machine intelligence” as a unifying term for what others call machine learning and artificial intelligence. Computers are learning to think, read, and write. What this landscape doesn’t include, however important, is “big data” technologies. Which companies are on the landscape? I considered thousands of companies, so while the chart is crowded it’s still a small subset of the overall ecosystem. The most exciting part for me was seeing how much is happening in the application space.

Green Choices - Environmental impacts of clothing Different fabrics have different impacts, depending on what they’re made of: Nylon and polyester Made from petrochemicals, these synthetics are non-biodegradable as well, so they are inherently unsustainable on two counts. Rayon (viscose) This is another artificial fibre, made from wood pulp, which on the face of it seems more sustainable. Cotton Natural fibres have their problems, too. Wool Both agricultural and craft workers in the UK suffer from exposure to organophosphate sheep dip. Manufacturing processes Getting from fibre to cloth – bleaching, dyeing, and finishing – uses yet more energy and water, and causes yet more pollution. Dyeing alone can account for most of the water used in producing a garment; unfixed dye then often washes out of garments, and can end up colouring the rivers, as treatment plants fail to remove them from the water. Other materials Other materials used in clothing and shoes include: For materials which have less environmental impact see more sustainable fabrics.

Inside DARPA's Attempts to Engineer a Futuristic Super-Soldier Retired four-star general Paul F. Gorman recalls first learning about the “weakling of the battlefield” from reading S.L.A. Marshall, the U.S. Army combat historian during World War II. “I didn’t know my strength was gone until I hit the beach,” Sergeant Bruce Hensley told Marshall. “Soldiers get tired and soldiers get fearful,” Gorman told me last year. For decades after its inception in 1958, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency—DARPA, the central research and development organization of the Department of Defense—focused on developing vast weapons systems. Gorman sketched out an early version of the thinking in a paper he wrote for DARPA after his retirement from the Army in 1985, in which he described an “integrated-powered exoskeleton” that could transform the weakling of the battlefield into a veritable super-soldier. At the time Gorman wrote, the computing technology needed for such a device did not yet exist. Sleep, too, was a focus of intense research at DSO.

Exclusive: Meet the World’s First Baby Born With an Assist from Stem Cells Doctors in Canada have begun a new chapter in medical history, delivering the first in a wave of babies expected to be born this summer through a technique that some experts think can dramatically improve the success rate of in vitro fertilization (IVF). Now 22 days old, Zain Rajani was born through a new method that relies on the discovery that women have, in their own ovaries, a possible solution to infertility caused by poor egg quality. Pristine stem cells of healthy, yet-to-be developed eggs that can help make a woman’s older eggs act young again. Unlike other kinds of stem cells, which have the ability to develop into any kind of cell in the body, including cancerous ones, these precursor cells can only form eggs. In May 2014, Zain’s mother, Natasha Rajani, now 34, had a small sliver of her ovarian tissue removed in a quick laproscopic procedure at First Steps Fertility in Toronto, Canada, where she lives. “We could be on the cusp of something incredibly important,” says Dr.

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