Can Apps Remove the Element of Chance from Life?

A new mobile service uses location data, i.e. where you are, to create a social network with like-minded people in your immediate vicinity. Would you be willing to meet a stranger this way?

What's the Latest Development?


A new location-based mobile service has been unveiled at this year's South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, where technophiles meet annually to discuss the future of information technology. The new service is called Highlight and when users register their location, much like Foursquare, Highlight creates an impromptu social network with like-minded individuals, determined by mining users' Facebook data, in the same 100 meters radius. Next time you take the bus, you may be sitting next to your best-friend-to-be, goes the fairy tale. 

What's the Big Idea?

Highlight's founder, Paul Davison, sees the randomness and chance of everyday life as an obstacle to be overcome. Rather than waiting for your next business partner or lover to arrive, he figures you can go out and find them, or at least stumble upon them with a little more direction. 'Nothing affects our happiness more than the people in our lives,' he says. 'But the way we find these people and bring them into our lives always has been completely random and inefficient.' Do you think serendipity is too inefficient for our modern lives? 

Photo credit: shutterstock.com


NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality

Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.

Think Again Podcasts
  • Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
  • What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
  • Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Ideology drives us apart. Neuroscience can bring us back together.

A guide to making difficult conversations possible—and peaceful—in an increasingly polarized nation.

Sponsored
  • How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
  • To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.
  • The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.