Friends Know How Long You’ll Live, Study Finds

Gerry Everding writes at Washington University in St. Louis’ Newsroom:

Young lovers walking down the aisle may dream of long and healthy lives together, but close friends in the wedding party may have a better sense of whether those wishes will come true, suggests new research on personality and longevity from Washington University in St. Louis.

“You expect your friends to be inclined to see you in a positive manner, but they also are keen observers of the personality traits that could send you to an early grave,” said Joshua Jackson, PhD, assistant professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences.

Published Jan. 12 in an advance online issue of the journal Psychological Science, the study demonstrates that your personality at an early age (20s) can predict how long you will live across 75 years and that close friends are usually better than you at recognizing these traits.

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The TSA Wants To Read Your Facebook Posts And Check Out Your Purchases Before It Will Approve You For PreCheck

Sam Ley (CC BY-NC-SA-2.0)

Sam Ley (CC BY-NC-SA-2.0)

Tim Cushing writes at Techdirt:

The TSA is disappointed that so few Americans have opted out of its bottle-tossing, package-groping screenings by signing up for its PreCheck program. For a few years now, the TSA has been selling travelers’ civil liberties back to them, most recently for $85 a head, but it’s now making a serious push to increase participation. The TSA can’t do it alone, so it’s accepting bids on its PreCheck expansion proposal. (h/t to Amy Alkon)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is seeking vendors for TSA Pre√® Application Expansion initiative to develop, deliver, and deploy private sector application capabilities expanding the public’s enrollment opportunities for TSA Pre✓® through an Other Transactional Agreement (OTA) awarded by TSA. The Government plans to award an OTA to multiple vendors. The Government will evaluate the proposed ready-to-market solutions’ application capabilities against this TSA Pre√® Expansion Initiative Solicitation and Statement of Work.

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Zuse’s Thesis – The Universe is a Computer

zusesthesis

Jürgen Schmidhuber writes:

Konrad Zuse (1910-1995; pronounce: “Conrud Tsoosay”) not only built the first programmable computers (1935-1941) and devised the first higher-level programming language (1945), but also was the first to suggest (in 1967) that the entire universe is being computed on a computer, possibly a cellular automaton (CA). He referred to this as “Rechnender Raum” or Computing Space or Computing Cosmos. Many years later similar ideas were also published / popularized / extended by Edward Fredkin (1980s), Jürgen Schmidhuber (1990s – see overview), and more recently Stephen Wolfram (2002) (see comments and Edwin Clark’s review page). Zuse’s first paper on digital physics and CA-based universes was:

Konrad Zuse, Rechnender Raum, Elektronische Datenverarbeitung, vol. 8, pages 336-344, 1967. Download PDF scan.

Zuse is careful: on page 337 he writes that at the moment we do not have full digital models of physics, but that does not prevent him from asking right there: which would be the consequences of a total discretization of all natural laws?

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An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments [Free]

irrelevant_authority

I know how much everyone loves to call out fallacious arguments — especially on the Internet. So here’s a book illustrating and detailing some of the better known logical fallacies. You can read it in its entirety for free at the website or buy the hardcover book.

According to the author, Ali Almossawi:

I go on two solitary walks every day. There is a small park off the Embarcadero that is tucked away in a quiet spot. It has a pleasant stream flowing through it and an unassuming bench beside that stream. I have made walking to that frail bench a ritual, and the half an hour or so spent daydreaming on it amid the cool San Francisco breeze, an article of faith.

It was on a day in October of last year when, during one of those quiet moments on that bench, I recalled my college years and how outspoken I happened to be during them, an observation only made interesting by the fact that I have since turned into the quietest of beings.

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Occupy vs. Political Parties

james j8246 (CC BY 2.0)

james j8246 (CC BY 2.0)

Via Bob Gorringe at The Daily Censored

A couple of days ago I watched a news clip of an African country in which in one of their cities a playground was being torn down and in its place a multi-million dollar development constructed. Many residents marched, and yes, had their signs (let’s remember, signs even if they’re on cardboard carry a message for all to see), and on one of those signs it was written, “Occupy Playground.”

Over a year ago I went to a party celebrating the closing of San Onofre Nuclear Plant. I met a young Japanese student who spoke faltering English and was involved in the Fukushima disaster along with his many young friends. I asked what they were doing to effect change. He thought a moment and said that they had Occupied a building in the prefecture whose responsibility it was to address the government’s interpretations of the issues surrounding Fukushima.

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Hot Career Move: From Wall Street to Porn

veronicavainHey Wall Streeters, is your job stunningly boring? Do you like porn? Are you hot? Well maybe you should consider following the career path of Paige Jennings, who News Cult reports has left the venerable Lazard Bros. investment bank on Wall Street for hornier times as a budding porn starlet:

Recent college graduate, Paige A. Jennings, left her position as an intern at Lazard Asset Management on Wall street under unknown circumstances earlier this month. Today, an anonymous source has revealed to News Cult that she has decided to make a go at porn. While she was in fact not dismissed from her job her previous superiors have yet to discover that she had been posting naked selfies of herself inside the company’s bathrooms on Lazard’s time.

An aspiring porn star, Jennings now goes by the name “Veronica Vain” since leaving Lazard and doesn’t care what her former employer thinks of it.

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Genetically Modified Mosquitoes May Be Set Loose In Florida

As if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wasn’t upsetting non-GMO activists enough already with its approvals of GM crops, it may now approve genetically modified mosquitoes from British biotech firm Oxitec. The goal is to combat the spread of the alarmingly painful and incurable chikungunya virus and dengue fever (a/k/a “break-bone fever”).

Aedes aegypti biting human.jpg

Aedes aegypti mosquito biting human skin.

 

“This is essentially using a mosquito as a drug to cure disease,” said Michael Doyle, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, which is waiting to hear if the Food and Drug Administration will allow the experiment, ” reports AP.

However, as Smithsonian Magazine describes it, even putting aside the risk of the genetic modification, this is hardly a perfect solution:

…Oxitec has focused their efforts on dengue and had some success in small-scale fieldwork in Brazil and the Cayman Islands. And in April 2014, an Oxitec trial led by the Gorgas Institute in Panama released 60,000 genetically modified A.

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In praise of agnosticism

weegeebored (CC BY-ND 2.0)

weegeebored (CC BY-ND 2.0)

By Mark Beeson, University of Western Australia

Getting on for 14 billion years ago the universe suddenly sprang into life. I can’t actually do the math, as they say, but I’m happy to accept the word of those who can that the physics is unambiguously nailed down. But for all their undoubted brilliance, mathematicians and physicists don’t know what was going on before the big bang.

There are consequently two possibilities it seems to me: mysterious matter has always existed and spontaneously blows up on occasion; or there is some sort of animating force in the universe – let’s call it “God” for the sake of argument – that got the metaphorical ball rolling. I can’t work out which of these two possibilities seems the more unlikely, which is why I’m an agnostic.

I mention this because religious beliefs and “faith” remain surprisingly important despite the remarkable advances of science and – as we’ve seen yet again this week – a potential source of, and justification for, casually inflicted carnage on the innocent.… Read the rest

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Building Moral Robots, With Whose Morals?

BEAR, or Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot, is designed to help soldiers in need. But other robots could take on roles as combatants. Credit Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center

BEAR, or Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot, is designed to help soldiers in need. But other robots could take on roles as combatants.
Credit Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center

I certainly wouldn’t trust the politicians or corporate money-mongers. Heather Goldstone proposes three sources: The Geneva Convention, Asimov’s Laws of Robotics, and/or The Ten Commandments. Whose morals would you want AI to model?

Via at WCAI:

Giving robots morals may sound like a good idea, but it’s a pursuit fraught with its own moral dilemmas. Like, whose morals?

Stop and look around you right now. You’re sitting in front of a computer and, chances are, there’s a phone or some other “smart” device in your vicinity. As our devices get more capable, and we become more reliant on them, there’s increasing hand-wringing over whether our relationships with technology have gone awry.

In some circles, the conversation has a particular urgency to it – because they’re talking about whether or not robots could – or should – be entrusted with life and death decisions, and whether such robots could ever be conferred with anything comparable to our morals.

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