The Business of Book Recommendations

Algorithms are allowing advertisers to better target us with books we’re likely to like. Macy Halford wonders if one day these mind-readers will equal advice from real-life friends.\r\n

Algorithms help advertisers target us with books and movies we’re likely to like. Macy Halford wonders: "Will they one day grow so good at reading my mind that they'll be interchangeable with my real-life friends? ...Part of the fun is clicking through all the crazy stuff Netflix thinks I should watch. Netflix is like a rather dimwitted but well-meaning robot-friend. But while it makes sense for Netflix to rely on this automated recommendation system (it’s essentially a video-rental store), it makes less sense for Goodreads, which is a community first and foremost. What I like about it is the updates I get telling me what my buddies are reading."

Russia sends its first android to space

The Russian-built FEDOR was launched on a mission to help ISS astronauts.

Photos by TASS\TASS via Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • Russia launched a spacecraft carrying FEDOR, a humanoid robot.
  • Its mission is to help astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
  • Such androids can eventually help with dangerous missions likes spacewalks.
Keep reading Show less

Why Secular Humanism can do what Atheism can't.

Atheism doesn't offer much beyond non-belief, can Secular Humanism fill the gaps?

Photo by mauro mora on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • Atheism is increasingly popular, but the lack of an organized community around it can be problematic.
  • The decline in social capital once offered by religion can cause severe problems.
  • Secular Humanism can offer both community and meaning, but it has also attracted controversy.
Keep reading Show less

this incredibly rich machinery – with Antonio Damasio

Picking up where we left off a year ago, a conversation about the homeostatic imperative as it plays out in everything from bacteria to pharmaceutical companies—and how the marvelous apparatus of the human mind also gets us into all kinds of trouble.

Think Again Podcasts
  • "Prior to nervous systems: no mind, no consciousness, no intention in the full sense of the term. After nervous systems, gradually we ascend to this possibility of having to this possibility of having minds, having consciousness, and having reasoning that allows us to arrive at some of these very interesting decisions."
  • "We are fragile culturally and socially…but life is fragile to begin with. All that it takes is a little bit of bad luck in the management of those supports, and you're cooked…you can actually be cooked—with global warming!"



Keep reading Show less