Summary of “New Caledonian Crows Are Even Smarter and Scarier Than We Thought”

Crows, in particular, are smart as heck: They make tools out of sticks, and even spontaneously make tools without being taught.
New research could deepen this picture even more, as researchers have found that crows may possess mental capabilities that we didn’t think were possible.
In a 2018 paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, a team of researchers showed evidence that New Caledonian crows, which have been observed making several types of tools out of sticks, may be able to build tools from memory – even if they have only seen the tool itself and haven’t ever seen the tool being constructed.
This suggests that crows can form a “Mental template” of tools based on other crows’ tools and their own past tools, which would explain why New Caledonian crows’ tools could have improved over time.
To conduct this study, the researchers, led by Sarah Jelbert, Ph.D., a postdoctoral psychology researcher at the University of Cambridge, trained New Caledonian crows to put pieces of paper into a slot to receive a food reward.
By requiring crows to use this man-made material to create items that take different shapes than pandanus tools, our task had sufficient novelty to prevent the crows from transferring learnt rules formed during their prior tool manufacture experience in the wild.
Their results suggest that crows can produce the proper tool from their memory, even though the task was new to them.
In future studies, they hope to investigate just how long crows can hold these mental templates in their heads.

The orginal article.

Summary of “A Sneaky Theory of Where Language Came From”

I’ve come to see Bovaird, who teaches wilderness-survival skills in western Massachusetts, because I want to better understand the latest theories on the emergence of language-particularly a new body of research arguing that if not for our hominin ancestors’ hard-earned ability to produce complex tools, language as we know it might not have evolved at all.
The research is occurring at the cutting-edge intersections of evolutionary biology, experimental archaeology, neuroscience, and linguistics, but much of it is driven by a very old question: Where did language come from?
In a paper in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Kolodny argues that early humans-while teaching their kin how to make complex tools-hijacked the capacity for language from themselves.
His research suggests that producing complex tools spurred an increase in brain size and other aspects of hominin evolution, including-perhaps-the emergence of language.
A surprise came in 2014, when Chomsky, Robert Berwick, and other titans in the field weighed in substantively on the topic of evolution for the first time, arguing in a series of jaw-dropping papers that language basically did show up on the scene like a fully formed Athena, syntax-driven shield in hand.
Berwick, a professor of computational linguistics at MIT and the co-author with Chomsky of Why Only Us: Language and Evolution, sees little merit in the stone-tool-based theories proposed by researchers like Stout and Kolodny.
“The experimental findings show that, to the contrary, verbal language DOES NOT FACILITATE toolmaking.” Berwick calls the purported connection between toolmaking and language a useful metaphor, at best.
It’s an observation that either has everything to do with how language got here, or-if you’re in a Chomskyan frame of mind-has nothing to do with language evolution at all.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Video-Game Engines Help Create Visual Effects on Movie Sets in Real Time”

To do this, ILM used a game engine – the software at the core of modern, graphics-rich video games that renders imagery on the fly to account for the unpredictable movements of a video-game player.
Initially developed as a kind of underlying plumbing for video games, game engines have increasingly become a favorite tool for filmmakers looking to add real-time visuals to parts of their production process.
After experiencing the power of game engines at those jobs, he decided to rely on the technology to produce his film.
Using a game engine to make a movie – particularly finding the right people for the job – wasn’t always easy.
Game engines, she argues, can help independent creators do much of what studios have done for years with expensive tools and huge render farms – high-performance computer clusters specifically built to produce visual effects, generally for film and TV. “You don’t need the whole suite that most movie studios have.”
As game engines become more popular, this type of exchange is becoming a two-way street, allowing studios to reuse film assets in video games, VR experiences and more.
As studios embrace game engines to make movies, they gain access to a new generation of artists, explains Bredow.
Bredow remembers ILM visual effects supervisor Grady Cofer demonstrating one of ILM’s first real-time tools for Spielberg in September 2015: specifically, ILM’s Stagecraft Magic Mirror, a customized motion-capture tool that allows actors to observe themselves as visual-effects characters in real time on a large LED screen, just as if they were looking into a mirror.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Twenty-Five Useful Thinking Tools”

Twenty-Five Thinking Tools Below are twenty-five tools, I’ve abstracted from the profession I feel exemplifies them best.
Economist: How Do People React to Incentives? There are many thinking tools native to economics, but a foundational one is simple.
It’s an abstract thinking tool that applies to a lot more than product R&D. The essence of this thinking tool is that you go out and try a bunch of things, without waiting around for a perfect answer.
How many of your beliefs about work and life withstand such scrutiny? Undergo such testing? Maybe you could benefit from a little more scientific thinking tools in your life.8.
As a result, there’s a lot of useful thinking tools for dealing with things that can’t be reduced to numbers.
There’s a number of useful thinking tools from accounting that allow the diagnosis of problems which are hidden on the surface.
A business can simply work, whereas a politician may do a great job, and still get kicked out because of bad PR. Therefore the thinking tools possessed by politicians are about calculating not only the effect of some action, but also on how that action will be perceived.
The thinking tools here mean that sometimes the right decision isn’t possible, simply because other people won’t see it as such, and you don’t have the power to convince them.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Baloney Detection Kit”

In The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark – the same indispensable volume that gave us Sagan’s timeless meditation on science and spirituality, published mere months before his death in 1996 – Sagan shares his secret to upholding the rites of reason, even in the face of society’s most shameless untruths and outrageous propaganda.
The kit is brought out as a matter of course whenever new ideas are offered for consideration.
If the new idea survives examination by the tools in our kit, we grant it warm, although tentative, acceptance.
Sagan argues, isn’t merely a tool of science – rather, it contains invaluable tools of healthy skepticism that apply just as elegantly, and just as necessarily, to everyday life.
If there’s something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained.
What survives, the hypothesis that resists disproof in this Darwinian selection among “Multiple working hypotheses,” has a much better chance of being the right answer than if you had simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy.
In addition to teaching us what to do when evaluating a claim to knowledge, any good baloney detection kit must also teach us what not to do.
Like all tools, the baloney detection kit can be misused, applied out of context, or even employed as a rote alternative to thinking.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How interchangeable parts revolutionised the way things are made”

Blanc had taken enormous pains to ensure that all the parts were precisely the same.
Under Blanc’s system, only a few minutes and some rudimentary skill would be required to unscrew the musket, replace the faulty part with an identical component, and screw it all back together, good as new.
While Jefferson battled to win support, Blanc was struggling too: it was impossibly expensive to hand-craft each piece to the precision required to make the system work.
A decade prior to Blanc’s demonstration, a metal worker nicknamed John “Iron-Mad” Wilkinson had become well-known in Shropshire – on the border between England and Wales.
Monsieur Blanc’s fellow gunsmiths had been worried that they would lose out on lucrative repair work.
If you could use machine tools to produce perfectly precise interchangeable parts, that not only made for simple battlefield repair – as Jefferson had seen – but it also made the process of assembly simpler and more predictable.
The economist Adam Smith’s famous description of a pin factory, nine years before Blanc’s demonstration, depicted each worker adding a step to what had come before.
Blanc may have given birth to an economic revolution, but thanks to a revolution of a very different kind, he never saw his own ideas take shape.

The orginal article.

Summary of “To Automate Is Human”

According to the historian Yuval Noah Harari in Sapiens, it was only with the burgeoning of Enlightenment humanism that we established our metaphysical difference from and instrumental approach to animals, as well as enshrining the supposed superiority of the human mind.
While such technology represents a formidable upheaval to the world of labour and markets, the goal of these inventions is very old indeed: exporting a task to an autonomous system or independent set of tools that can finish the job without continued human input.
It follows that there are two kinds of automation: those that are energetically independent, requiring human guidance but not much human muscle power, and those that are also independent of human mental input.
None of these early automations are ‘smart’ – they all serve to export the business of human muscles rather than human brains, and without of a human controller, none of them could gather information about the trajectory, and change course accordingly.
We might even include carts and ploughs drawn by beasts of burden, which exported from human backs the weight of carried goods, and from human hands the blisters of the farmer’s hoe.
Cognitive automation – exporting the human guidance and mental involvement in a task – is newer, but still much older than vacuum tubes or silicon chips.
We didn’t suddenly invent a new concept of human behaviour – we merely combined two deep-seated human proclivities with origins stretching back to before recorded history.
Tasks such as photo-editing, gaming or browsing the web are more complex, but are ultimately layers of human instructions, committed to external memory being carried out by machines that can read it.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Fellow Passengers”

An anthropologist from Mars might regard us humans as singularly insecure animals, curiously obsessed with identifying some quality that decisively distinguishes us from the rest of animal creation.
If we were more reflective creatures, we might realize that the answer has been staring us in the face all along: We are the animals curiously obsessed with distinguishing ourselves from the rest of animal creation.
So the available evidence seems to indicate that phenomenal consciousness is correlated with “Widespread., relatively fast., low-amplitude. interactions in the thalamocortical. region of the brain.”7 The case for phenomenal consciousness in animals is straightforward: We find precisely the same kind of neural activity in many other animals, including, as stated in the Declaration, “All mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses.” The neural correlates of phenomenal consciousness in humans are also found in these other species, suggesting very strongly that they are conscious also.
The tests are all variations on a single theme: An animal is presented with two opaque cups, A and B. The animal is initially shown two empty cups, then sees an experimenter baiting one of the cups.
26.Are Animals Moral? Can animals be moral? That is, can they have motivations that are genuinely moral, and can they act because of these motivations? Someone who is tempted by a positive answer to this question is likely to find little succor among scientists and philosophers; the possibility of moral behavior in animals has been dismissed by almost all of this demographic.
We like to kill animals that like to eat animals that we like to eat.
Animals are our fellow passengers on this bus to who knows where.
“Consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect, mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.”34 When the animal on the bus looks at us, we must, with all our heart and sinew, try to look back, and see her for what she really is: a fellow passenger who is really not that different from us.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Untold Story of the Vegetable Peeler That Changed the World”

Created by Smart Design, in conjunction with OXO International’s launch in 1990, it raised the bar for accessible consumer products, and changed the way kitchen tools were designed forever.
Nearly three decades after its release, it maintains 4.8 stars out of 5 on Amazon yet still costs under $10. How many consumer products are truly that lasting? It’s why the peeler won our inaugural Timeless Design award as part of Innovation by Design 2018.
Over the years, abridged versions of the peeler’s origin story have been shared in design museums and even business schools.
We couldn’t design something for people just with special needs, because it would have to be in a special catalog, and no one is able to have access to those products.
We had to design a handle that would work for various uses.
Manufacturing the Peeler The design was on the right track, but it was extremely difficult to be made.
We’ve been living this for so long-but the OXO line was universal design, or inclusive design, long before either had a name.
We put the endorsement onto the package, but we took that off later because we realized, one of the things that’s really important for inclusive design is that the product isn’t stigmatizing.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Upgrade Your Thinking and Make Better Decisions With Mental Models”

He opened up a world of mental models, which is just a fancy schmancy word that means thinking tools that you can use to solve problems.
Whether we realize it or not, we then use these models every day to think, decide, and understand our world.
While there are millions of mental models, I want to focus on nine that will help you think better.
This is important to keep in mind as we think through problems and make better decisions.
Second-order thinking is thinking farther ahead and thinking holistically.
In a world where each moment is determined by an infinitely complex set of factors, probabilistic thinking helps us identify the most likely outcomes.
Inversion is a powerful tool to improve your thinking because it helps you identify and remove obstacles to success.
These general thinking tools are just 9 of the mental models that you can learn to think better.

The orginal article.