Summary of “Fermi paradox: why haven’t we found aliens yet?”

The universe continues to appear devoid of life.
In early June, Anders Sandberg, Eric Drexler, and Toby Ord of the Future of Humanity Institute released a paper that may solve the Fermi paradox – the discrepancy between our expected existence of alien signals and the universe’s apparent lack of them – once and for all.
While the findings are helpful for thinking about the likelihood of aliens, they may be even more important for reframing our approach to the risk of extinction that life on Earth may face in the near future.
In a universe that had been around for some 14 billion years, and in that time developed more than a billion trillion stars, Fermi reasoned there simply must be other intelligent civilizations out there.
Life can’t be that rare, can it? To be clear, the paper’s authors do not appear to be making any definitive claim about whether or not aliens exist; simply, our current knowledge across the seven parameters suggests a high likelihood of us being alone.
We exist, along with other intelligent life like dolphins and octopi, so we assume what we see must be extrapolatable beyond Earth.
Whether the true likelihood is as high as one in two, or as inconceivable as one in a trillion trillion trillion, the mere ability to consciously ask ourselves that question depends on the fact that life has already successfully originated.
As we only have one data point, we have no reliable way to predict the true likelihood of intelligent life.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The New Business of Hip-Hop Beats: How One Company Gets Musicians Paid For Creating Samples”

Two artists Heron manages, multi-instrumentalist Leon Michels and composer Beat Butcha, had landed placements on a top-secret project that the producers described only as “Life-changing.”
They just needed stems of the recordings that Heron had sent them months before, including a four-bar instrumental loop Michels had created in his spare time, and a few tweaks: a new bassline and strings on top.
The success of Heron’s new music outfit is a window into how the ­business’ top stars are ­churning out music faster than ever, increasingly soliciting pieces of ideas from a wide range of creators in order to make as many beats as they can in real time.
“We’re in a climate where people are just trying to get records out really quickly,” says Heron.
In the late 1990s, Heron was part of a community of record-collecting fanatics who would spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars digging through record stores for obscure samples, re-recording them onto LPs and selling the breakbeats to producers like No I.D. and Dr. Dre.
Diddy, says Heron, would give one of Heron’s record-collecting friends $10,000 to $15,000 just to go shop for records, many of which wound up on Bad Boy albums like The LOX’s Money, Power, Respect.
Heron began working with Shady Records in 2013, where he remains vp A&R. But he also started managing ­musicians on the side, beginning with Robert “G Koop” Mandell and AntMan Wonder three years ago, helping them place original music with hip-hop producers.
“The musicians and producers, they’re like a community,” says Heron.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Everything coming to Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO Now in July”

We’re in the middle of summer-movie season, but while you may want to catch splashy, big-screen-friendly movies like The Incredibles 2, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and the upcoming Ant-Man and The Wasp in theaters, there’s also still plenty of new programming on your streaming service of choice.
This July, Netflix is adding a sixth season of Orange is the New Black to its lineup, as well as Extinction, the new science fiction / horror film from Hounds of Love writer-director Ben Young.
The original Jurassic Park trilogy will also be arriving on the service as of July 1st, and for something more cerebral, Spike Jonze’s excellent AI love story Her will come to the service on July 29th. Amazon Prime will once again add a number of legacy movie titles to its lineup, including Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence, David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, cult favorite The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, and Rian Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom.
The entire Jaws franchise will be available on June 9th, and the Ewan McGregor science fiction romance Zoe will premiere on July 20th. HBO Now just aired the season 2 finale of Westworld, but it will fill in Sunday nights with Sharp Objects, the new miniseries based on the Gillian Flynn novel of the same name.
It’s not all good news: HBO Now will also lose a number of titles on July 31st, including the Robin Williams comedy Good Morning, Vietnam; Jordan’s Peele’s Get Out, and Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
It will also lose a number of titles, including the Lethal Weapon film franchise, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
We’ve included the full list of titles for all services below.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Economists worry we aren’t prepared for the fallout from automation”

Are we focusing too much on analyzing exactly how many jobs could be destroyed by the coming wave of automation, and not enough on how to actually fix the problem? That’s one conclusion in a new paper on the potential effects of robotics and AI on global labor markets from US think tank, the Center for Global Development.
The paper’s authors, Lukas Schlogl and Andy Sumner, say it’s impossible to know exactly how many jobs will be destroyed or disrupted by new technology.
They add, it’s fairly certain there are going to be significant effects – especially in developing economies, where the labor market is skewed toward work that requires the sort of routine, manual labor that’s so susceptible to automation.
As earlier studies have also suggested, Schlogl and Sumner think the effects of automation on these and other nations is not likely to be mass unemployment, but the stagnation of wages and polarization of the labor market.
One class of solution they call “Quasi-Luddite” – measures that try to stall or reverse the trend of automation.
The other class of solution they call “Coping strategies,” which tend to focus on one of two things: re-skilling workers whose jobs are threatened by automation or providing economic safety nets to those affected.
Retraining workers is expensive, and sometimes not possible Schlogl and Sumner suggest that the problem with retraining workers is that it’s not clear what new skills will be “Automation-resistant for a sufficient time” or whether it’s even worth the money to retrain someone in the middle of their working life.
“Questions like profitability, labor regulations, unionization, and corporate-social expectations will be at least as important as technical constraints in determining which jobs get automated,” they write.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Google Is Building a City of the Future in Toronto. Would Anyone Want to Live There?”

Cut off from gleaming downtown Toronto by the Gardiner Expressway, the city trails off into a dusty landscape of rock-strewn parking lots and heaps of construction materials.
Google is not the first company to try reimagining a city.
Cities themselves have more money and energy than ever; rather than building from scratch, like Disney did, modern smart-city builders want to harness the energy and dynamism of existing cities.
The deal hasn’t exactly been a victory for transparency; Waterfront Toronto has declined to make the exact terms of its deal with Sidewalk public, so no one on the outside knows exactly what the city has promised Google, or vice versa.
“It’s horrible-the antithesis of privacy. They use sensors to identify everybody and track their movements.” That city in the United Arab Emirates set out in 2014 to become what it called the world’s smartest city.
Says Cavoukian, “It’s not going to be a smart city of surveillance. It’s going to be a smart city of privacy, and that will be a first.”
“Toronto got excited, people in the city are demanding this new city, and the city has, a little bit, lost control of the conversation,” says Simone Brody, executive director of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities.
“This is really a grand experiment, in many respects, that is going to teach not just Toronto but really cities all across the world what is the future city going to look like,” says Bruce Katz, the author and former Brookings Institution official.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Piano Lessons May Improve Language Learning for Kids”

Building on an existing body of research on music and childhood development, the authors pinpoint a specific way that piano lessons can help young children enhance their language processing skills.
As kids’ ears become trained to distinguish between different pitches and tones at the piano, Gabrieli explains, they also seem to get better at parsing subtle differences between spoken words, a key element of language acquisition.
One group took three 45-minute piano lessons each week, one group got the same amount of additional reading instruction, and the final group did neither.
The groups showed no significant differences in general measures of cognitive ability – things like IQ, memory and attention span – but the piano group had distinguished itself in one key way.
Even compared to their peers in the extra reading group, children who took piano lessons were significantly better at distinguishing between spoken words that differed by only one consonant, Gabrieli explains.
This, he says, suggests that piano lessons affect a crucial and complex element of language processing.
While the current study looked specifically at piano lessons, Gabrieli says the findings “Might well extend broadly to other musical education” as well.
The results were so striking that the school in Beijing where the study was performed continued to offer piano lessons to its young students even after the experiment ended.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Winners and Losers of LeBron’s Lakers Decision”

Losers: The Cleveland Cavaliers Danny Chau: Cleveland needs no reminder of the apocalyptic nightmare LeBron James left behind the first time he left town.
The 2009-10 Cavaliers were a 61-win powerhouse; once LeBron left, the team took a swan dive down the standings and crash-landed upon the barely merciful pavement with a 19-win atrocity of a season.
Loser: Competitive Balance Between Conferences Paolo Uggetti: WIth LeBron in Hollywood, the West is the Fury Road. This isn’t exactly a case in which the rich get richer, as much as one in which the competitive gets even more competitive, or at least extremely star-studded.
Or. Winner: The Eastern Conference Verrier: After eight straight TKOs, LeBron is moving up a weight class and leaving the rest of the bantamweights behind to figure out a champion for themselves.
James has almost single-handedly disbanded several teams-the Derrick Rose Bulls, the Roy Hibbert Pacers, and maybe the Raptors-who shared the fatal flaw of running up against LeBron at his peak.
If you’re in possession of more than one All-Star and play in the Eastern Conference, you’re celebrating as much as the Lakers are tonight.
The collision between LeBron and his Klutch team on one side and Magic, Pelinka, and Jeanie Buss on the other will be fascinating.
In the end, we don’t really know how LeBron felt about Gilbert or whether he would have played out his days with the Cavs had there been a tighter bond.

The orginal article.

Summary of “We’re All Subsidizing People Who Use American Express”

When American Express forms contracts with retailers, the credit card company prohibits retailers from encouraging shoppers to use other cards that charge lower fees.
Merchants who accept Amex card payments can’t offer shoppers different prices depending on how they pay, even if the transaction fee is higher when they swipe an Amex.
According to the Brookings Institution, “Use a typical Visa or Mastercard branded credit card and the merchant will probably pay fees ranging in the 2 to 3.5% range. Leave home with an American Express and the merchant will pay even more, approaching 3 to 5%, depending on how much you charge.” In the end, the merchant may pay out about 10% of what you pay them just for fees involved in the transaction, according to Brookings.
As for premium credit cards, a spokesperson said, “A merchant accepting Visa’s and Mastercard’s premium cards may actually pay more than they do for American Express when factoring in interchange, network and acquirer fees.”
Data from the Nilson Report, which covers the card and mobile payment industry, puts Amex’s average credit card fee at 2.33% versus 2.17% for Visa and MasterCard; Discover, at 2.09%, was the lowest.
“Customers who use cheaper forms of payment are in effect subsidizing AmEx card holders,” he wrote.
Amex’s provisions “Do not prevent Visa, MasterCard, or Discover from competing against Amex by offering lower merchant fees or promoting their broader merchant acceptance,” Thomas wrote.
In his dissent, Justice Breyer said that the overall credit card industry could still grow even if credit card companies allowed merchants to steer customers to lower-fee cards.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What the Royal Family Really Costs British Taxpayers”

Buckingham Palace has released its annual accounts, revealing just how much money is being spent to maintain royal residences and lifting the lid on the royal family’s biggest spenders.
The royal family cost each British taxpayer 69 pence last year, with courtiers insisting the royal family is “Excellent value for money.” The royal family’s independent commercial property arm, the Crown Estate, also returned £329.4 million to the public Treasury in the last year, a £12.7 million increase from the year before.
The accounts also reveal that the Prince of Wales, who carries out the lion’s share of overseas travel and more engagements than any other senior member of the royal family apart from Princess Anne, is the costliest royal.
Charles spent £362,149 visiting India, Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore aboard the RAF Voyager, the royal family’s jet.
He also used the royal train, the most expensive mode of transport, on seven occasions, with each journey costing in the region of £20k. Courtiers insisted both modes of transport were “Appropriate” given the nature of the trips where the Prince of Wales was representing the royal family overseas.
The couple carried out a number of official engagements around the country ahead of the royal wedding, funded by the Prince of Wales.
One of the biggest feats will be relocating 10,000 pieces of art from the Royal Collection.
Some of the paintings and wall tapestries will be loaned to museums and art galleries, while others will be re-housed in other royal residences or kept in storage.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How much better does DeMarcus Cousins make the Golden State Warriors?”

That sound you just heard was jaws around the NBA hitting the floor with the news that All-Star DeMarcus Cousins has agreed to a one-year, $5.3 million deal with the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors.
How will Cousins fit in the Bay Area? And how much will his addition help Golden State’s chances of making it four titles in five years?
DeMarcus Cousins has agreed to join the defending champion Warriors on a one-year, $5.3 million deal, league sources told ESPN. The four-time All-Star called the move “My ace of spades” in a conversation with The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears.
Adding Cousins might force the Warriors to spend an additional roster spot on center depth, but that’s a price Golden State will surely pay.
How will Cousins fit with the Warriors?Adding Cousins will require adjustment for both him and his new Golden State teammates.
If he’s unwilling or unable to adapt his game, it’s even possible that Cousins could hurt Golden State more than he helps.
The Warriors will be able to offer Cousins only $6.4 million to return in 2019-20 using non-Bird rights, and if he plays well, Cousins will easily beat that in free agency.
The addition of Cousins plus the Houston Rockets’ losing starter Trevor Ariza means the gap between Golden State and the rest of the NBA appears to have only widened so far this offseason.

The orginal article.