Summary of “Beyond the animal brain: plants have cognitive capacities too”

Plants can recognise whether nearby plants are kin or unrelated, and adjust their foraging strategies accordingly.
If the cold period has been long enough, plants with some cells that never went through a cold period can still flower in spring, because the chromatin modification continues to inhibit the action of FLC. But is this really memory? Plant scientists who study ‘epigenetic memory’ will be the first to admit that it’s fundamentally different from the sort of thing studied by cognitive scientists.
She reasons that if plants can produce the results that lead us to believe other organisms can learn and remember, we should similarly conclude that plants share these cognitive capacities.
Plant behaviour frequently involves chemical and structural changes that are simply too small, too fast or too slow for us to perceive without equipment.
This helps to explain our intuitive reluctance to attribute cognitive capacities to plants.
When we try to apply cognitive theory to plants in a less vague way, they say, it seems that plants are doing something quite unlike animals.
These research programmes are still in their infancy, but they will no doubt continue to lead to new discoveries that challenge and expand human perspectives on plants, blurring some of the traditional boundaries that separated the plant and animal realms.
Next time you stumble upon a kerbside mallow bobbing in the sunlight, take a moment to look at it with new eyes, and to appreciate the window this little weed provides into the extraordinary cognitive capacities of plants.

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Summary of “Unlikely places and untangled goals”

An abbey of Cistercian Trappist monks, known for their silence, with a guest room that’s free for whoever asks.
I hung around all their various sitting rooms and balconies, writing for six silent days, speaking only one sentence a day if I ordered dinner.
It made me think about the unlikely places we can get what we want.
Some people think they need to go all the way to Thailand to meditate, or to India to learn yoga.
Some people think they need to travel to a country to learn its language.
Check out Moses McCormick learning more than a dozen languages from Ohio, or Benny Lewis learning Arabic from Brazil.
Some people think they need to pay a fortune to a university for a great education.
Some people think they need expensive equipment to start a new hobby, certain clothes to look the part, or for everything to be just right.

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Summary of “Tim Ferriss shares best career advice for 20-somethings”

“The 4-Hour Workweek” author and hit podcast host Tim Ferriss has made a career of collecting best practices from people at the tops of their fields.
For his new book “Tribe of Mentors,” bestselling author and star podcast host Tim Ferriss sent 11 questions to 140 people at the top of their fields.
When Tim Ferriss was an undergraduate at Princeton, he saw the majority of his classmates fiercely competing for high-paying consulting and finance jobs, regardless of their personal passions or backgrounds.
After moving to Silicon Valley and starting his own company, Ferriss took a break from it all and embarked on a journey that resulted in his becoming a self-proclaimed “Human guinea pig” who seeks out and learns from people at the top of their fields, from musicians to hedge fund managers, writers to chefs.
We recently spoke with Ferriss for Business Insider’s podcast “Success! How I Did It.” After asking him about his own career and what he learned writing his new book “Tribe of Mentors,” we asked him what he recommended for young professionals just beginning their careers.
Ferriss said that it’s worth fighting the urge to go for the job that will get you the biggest paycheck when you’re establishing yourself.
He then explained that when undertaking this early career education, it’s worth focusing on the material that will help you when you are ready to start going after high-paying, respected jobs.
Ferriss said that if your job entails something niche like placing ads on Instagram, by all means learn how to do that well, “But spend equal time developing the higher level skills like negotiation, persuasion, copywriting.”

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Summary of “The AI Guru Behind Amazon, Uber, and Unity Explains What AI Really Is”

Lange doesn’t shy away from the oft-hyped term “Artificial intelligence”- provided the machines really do learn how to respond to users’ needs.
Does the system seem to be very reasonable? Does it almost seem like there’s a human hiding behind the system, interacting with me and making me feel comfortable?
I [can’t] think of an AI system that doesn’t have machine learning at its core.
Because now we’re sort of back to human programming of the system … AI would have been giving the computer treatment data and results, start developing an ability to do the diagnosis, propose some suggestions for treatment, measure the output of the treatment, and constantly adjust and learn.
First] you have a drone [that] a machine learning system has learned to fly on its own.
What is the rewards function of a drone? Find the bad guys and eliminate them … It’s really what you define as the end goal of the system.
So that’s why these systems are highly branded experiences, which apparently people really like, and that’s fine.
FC: Anything else you think we need to know about AI? DL: The key message is, you have a learning system, and that’s the disruption … Your computer can do more than it’s told to do because it gets the data and it learns from it, and the loop makes it improve endlessly.

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Summary of “How the Truly Successful Make Time for Constant Learning”

How do successful people find time to learn so much everyday? originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
How do successful people find time to learn so much everyday?
In truth, most of those were cranked out 25-35 at a time 10 or more times a day.
Breaking up the time into smaller sessions has two advantages: First, it makes it easier to “Find” the time – carving out a smaller 10 minute breaks is easier than finding an hour to read. In addition, there is a cognitive limit to how much you can learn and retain at a time.
Studying something for a few minutes and then giving your mind time to process and absorb the information is much more effective than longer “Cram” sessions.
Make the most of your morning/evening commute, or other time consuming tasks that don’t engage your brain.
The important thing is not to overwhelm your brain with too much at one time.
You need to give your brain time to process the information and make sense of it.

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Summary of “A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit”

Simple right? Well after a while our creative brains say, “You know what? You can use this for more than just remembering where food is. Next time you feel bad, why don’t you try eating something good so you’ll feel better?” We thank our brains for the great idea, try this, and quickly learn that if we eat chocolate or ice cream when we’re mad or sad, we feel better.
In my lab we studied whether mindfulness training could help people quit smoking.
Just like trying to force myself to pay attention to my breath, they could try to force themselves to quit smoking.
We even said go ahead and smoke just be really curious about what it’s like when you do.
Now she knew cognitively that smoking was bad for her.
What she discovered just by being curiously aware when she smoked was that smoking tastes like shit.
She moved from knowing in her head that smoking is bad for her too knowing it in her bones and the spell of smoking was broken.
Now the prefrontal cortex, that youngest part of our brain from an evolutionary perspective, it understands on an intellectual level that we shouldn’t smoke and it tries its hardest to help us change our behavior, to help us stop smoking, to help us stop eating that second, that third, that fourth cookie-we call this cognitive control, we’re using cognition to control our behavior.

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Summary of “How Coca-Cola, Netflix, and Amazon Learn from Failure”

In May, right after he became CEO of Coca-Cola Co., James Quincey called upon rank-and-file managers to get beyond the fear of failure that had dogged the company since the “New Coke” fiasco of so many years ago.
Even Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, arguably the most successful entrepreneur in the world, makes the case as directly as he can that his company’s growth and innovation is built on its failures.
Why, all of a sudden, are so many successful business leaders urging their companies and colleagues to make more mistakes and embrace more failures?
So what’s the right way to be wrong? Are there techniques that allow organizations and individuals to embrace the necessary connection between small failures and big successes? Smith College, the all-women’s school in western Massachusetts, has created a program called “Failing Well” to teach its students what all of us could stand to learn.
“What we’re trying to teach is that failure is not a bug of learning it’s the feature,” explained Rachel Simmons, who runs the initiative, in a recent New York Times article.
When students enroll in her program, they receive a Certificate of Failure that declares they are “Hereby authorized to screw up, bomb, or fail” at a relationship, a project, a test, or any other initiative that seems hugely important and “Still be a totally worthy, utterly excellent human being.” Students who are prepared to handle failure are less fragile and more daring than those who expect perfection and flawless performance.
In a presentation to other CEOs, Doyle described two great challenges that stand in the way of companies and individuals being more honest about failure.
Creating “The permission to fail is energizing,” Doyle explains, and a necessary condition for success – which is why he titled his presentation, with apologies to the movie Apollo 13, “Failure Is an Option.” And that may be the most important lesson of all.

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Summary of “IDEO’s Sandy Speicher on Constructivism: The uncomfortable secret to creative success is “disequilibrium””

In order to bring yourself back to a calm state of knowing, you have to generate a new “a-ha” inside your mind that reframes your old information with the new information.
A mental model that, through the force of your imagination and intelligence, connects those dissonant dots into new meaning.
Learning isn’t about the consumption of new information.
Synthesis is our natural creative process, and once you start to put those pieces back together into new frameworks of understanding, that’s when the new ideas start to flow.
It’s no longer just about understanding the word “Cow”: Now it’s about designing whole new offerings, experiences, and organizations that go against the convictions that have solidified in our minds.
While I constantly think about the time required to tick off my to-do list, I rarely evaluate how much emotional energy is required to take my work to new creative heights.
So how does this Constructivist learning theory help us support creative teams? What if, as creative leaders, we saw ourselves as great Constructivist teachers instead of orienting around our knowledge and expertise? How would Piaget’s theories change our behavior?
Just like classroom teachers, leaders face pressure to accomplish a set of outcomes within a particular timeframe and often, unintentionally, send signals to their teams that their time messing about in search of a new mental model isn’t valid.

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Summary of “Building A.I. That Can Build A.I.”

“We are following the same path that computer science has followed with every new type of technology,” said Joseph Sirosh, a vice president at Microsoft, which recently unveiled a tool to help coders build deep neural networks, a type of computer algorithm that is driving much of the recent progress in the A.I. field.
All of them are selling cloud-computing services that can help other businesses and developers build A.I. “There is real demand for this,” said Matt Scott, a co-founder and the chief technical officer of Malong, a start-up in China that offers similar services.
Google is investing heavily in cloud-computing services – services that help other businesses build and run software – which it expects to be one of its primary economic engines in the years to come.
Neural networks are rapidly accelerating the development of A.I. Rather than building an image-recognition service or a language translation app by hand, one line of code at a time, engineers can much more quickly build an algorithm that learns tasks on its own.
Building a neural network is not like building a website or some run-of-the-mill smartphone app.
In building a neural network, researchers run dozens or even hundreds of experiments across a vast network of machines, testing how well an algorithm can learn a task like recognizing an image or translating from one language to another.
Google said AutoML could now build algorithms that, in some cases, identified objects in photos more accurately than services built solely by human experts.
At the University of California, Berkeley, researchers are building techniques that could allow robots to learn new tasks based on what they have learned in the past.

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Summary of “Kids, Would You Please Start Fighting?”

For the Wright brothers, argument was the family trade and a fierce one was something to be savored.
Sadly, many parents teach kids that if they disagree with someone, it’s polite to hold their tongues.
What if we taught kids that silence is bad manners? It disrespects the other person’s ability to have a civil argument – and it disrespects the value of your own viewpoint and your own voice.
Most parents hide their conflicts: They want to present a united front, and they don’t want kids to worry.
When parents disagree with each other, kids learn to think for themselves.
Creativity tends to flourish, Mr. Albert, the psychologist, found, in families that are “Tense but secure.” In a recent study of children ages 5 to 7, the ones whose parents argued constructively felt more emotionally safe.
Good arguments are wobbly: a team or family might rock back and forth but it never tips over.
If kids don’t learn to wobble, they never learn to walk; they end up standing still.

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