Babies, Artificial Intelligence, Tea, System 1, Teletubbies

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Babies in Art

Rivka Galchen | Paris Review | 5th May 2016

“I had often wondered about the distinctive tilt of Mary’s head in so many paintings and sculptures. It’s a very particular, recognizable tilt, and you see it again and again, across time and geography. After I held my young baby again and again and again and again and again, I very clearly recognized the angle of the tilt of Mary’s head; it is the tilt of the head of babies who are just beginning to develop the strength of their neck muscles. When I hold my baby, she holds her head at that exact same angle” (480 words)

Big Data And Artificial Intelligence

Gary Marcus | Edge | 4th May 2016

We see recent advances in some technologies which mimic intelligence — speech recognition, for example – resulting from the use of big data to train big computers. But that’s just trial and error on a huge scale; statistics. It doesn’t get us any closer to human thought, which works in something like the opposite direction. The real mystery is how children can start with tiny data-sets and somehow work from those towards understanding the whole world (8,000 words)

That Once Most British Thing

Roberto Ferdman | Washington Post | 4th May 2016

Tea is finished as the British national drink. In the past forty years tea-drinking has fallen by two-thirds while coffee-drinking has tripled. “There is no end to the collective tea abandonment in sight.” Brits used to drink mostly instant coffee, but thankfully that’s on the way out too; all the recent consumption growth has been in ground coffee and coffee beans. The underlying story seems to be that Britons are becoming caffeine addicts. Sales of energy drinks have also been soaring (1,950 words)

The Philosopher’s Stone

Nikhil Sonnad | Quartz | 15th September 2015

In praise of the Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy, perhaps “the most interesting website on the internet”, supplying “authoritative, rigorously accurate knowledge, at no cost to readers”. It started in 1995 — five years before Wikipedia — with just two entries. Now it has 1,500 entries, daily updates, and a million page views a month. Three full-time editors keep it in motion; university libraries provide funding; the benefits are out of all proportion to the modest costs (3,900 words)

Thinking And Feeling

Cass Sunstein | Bloomberg View | 4th May 2016

System 1 is your impulsive way of thinking — fast and emotional. System 2 is the next level down, for harder problems — deliberative and reflective. System 1 leads you to fall in love. System 2 helps you decide whom to marry. John F. Kennedy was a great System 1 candidate; you saw him, you smiled. Richard Nixon was all System 2; hard work. Trump versus Clinton is shaping up similarly. “In its entire history, the US has never had a serious System 1 candidate like Donald Trump” (850 words)

The Clean, Green Bonkers World Of CBeebies

Sophie Elmhirst | Guardian | 5th May 2016

One of the unwritten laws of parenthood is that if you have a child, you spend a lot of time watching Teletubbies — and you feel guilty about it. Shouldn’t you be doing something better with your baby? The BBC’s children’s channel, CBeebies, “seems to know about that guilt, and, with one eye on the parent, seeks to assuage it”. There are songs. Exhortations to make things out of cardboard. And, towards bedtime, “the unchanged, vital staple of In the Night Garden“ (4,300 words)

Video of the day: To Die By Your Side

What to expect:

Animated film by Spike Jonze set inside the Parisian book shop Shakespeare & Company (6’06”)

Thought for the day

Doubt grows with knowledge
J.W. von Goethe

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