Personhood, Pharma, Inventions, Poland's Jews, Russia

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Persons And Personhood

What constitutes a person in the eyes of the law. “Corporations and government units are legal persons — they have rights and responsibilities and can sue and be sued, but they are not natural persons, and the claim that they are moral persons would be controversial. Humans are usually considered natural persons, but the assumption that only individual humans are natural persons is controversial. If groups can have agency, then there might be persons constituted by groups of humans” (1,525 words)

Peak Pharma

Drew Smith | Undark | 2nd January 2018

Human genes encode about 1,000 proteins having “anything to do with disease”. Existing drugs already target 555 proteins. Do the math. “If we knew nothing else about drug development we would know that the pace of new drug introduction is bound to decline”. The clinical value of new drugs shrinks, the cost rises exponentially. Soon all mass-market drugs will be generics, all new drugs will be orphans: “Don’t be surprised when the first million-dollar treatment hits the market” (1,070 words)

Everything Takes So Long

Katja Grace | Meteuphoric | 31st December 2017

Why did it take hundreds and even thousands of years to invent things that were obvious after the fact — rope, for example? “Reality has a lot of detail. There are lots of apparent paths. Without hindsight, you have to waste a lot of time on dead ends. People are not as inventive as they imagine. For instance, I haven’t actually invented anything – why do I even imagine I could invent rope? If you have never seen rope, it actually doesn’t occur to you that rope would come in handy” (780 words)

A Cruel And Elusive History

Adam Kirsch | Tablet | 2nd January 2018

On the fate of Poland’s Jews. “Almost every Ashkenazi Jewish community in the world has roots in Poland. The Jews of all countries are only four or so generations removed from Poland. It is the mother of us all, but a cruel mother, one we are glad of having escaped. When the descendants of Irish or Italian — or Polish — emigrants go to visit the Old Country, they find relatives and ancestral villages. When Jews go to Poland, there is little for them to see, except Auschwitz” (2,574 words)

What Putin Wants

Julia Ioffe | Atlantic | 1st January 2018

Eye-opening tour through Vladimir Putin’s Russia — a looming world power from without, a rackety cluster of contradictions from within. The focus here is Russia’s interference in America’s 2016 election. The Russian effort was launched, allegedly, in response to the Panama Papers leak, which Russia blamed on CIA, and which embarrassed several Russian leaders. “A forgery, a couple of groups of hackers, and a drip of well-timed leaks were all it took to throw American politics into chaos” (11,560 words)

Video of the day What Is Life?

What to expect:

Elon Musk, Max Tegmark and others discuss whether we are living in a simulated universe (4’21”)

Thought for the day

No man with four aces howls for a new deal
John Parker

Podcast of the day Cryptocurrency | After-On

Coinbase founder Fred Ehrsam explains the workings of Bitcoin and other digital currencies

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