The Rise and Rise of Algorithmic Love
As meeting people online has gradually lost its stigma, dating sites are turning to scientists to match people according to the new rules of mating, which are no longer dominated by necessity.
What's the Latest Development?
Today, online dating takes all kinds, not just the desperate and creepy. And the algorithms that dating sites like eHarmony and Match.com use to pair candidates are getting more and more thoughtful. The latter site recently hired Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers, who takes a chemical approach to love. "Fisher’s observations and findings regarding the human personality, romantic or otherwise, are rooted in her study of the human species over the millennia and in the role that brain chemistry plays in temperament, especially with regard to love, attraction, choice, and compatibility."
What's the Big Idea?
What has love come to in the early twenty-first century? No longer based on the needs of tribal societies to widen their gene pools and survive oppressive elements, love today has its critics, but Fisher says it still carries essential characteristics. "Walking into a bar is totally artificial," Fisher said. "We've come to believe that this is the way to court. But that couldn’t be further from the truth." In her view, dating via the Internet enables, as she wrote, "the modern human brain to pursue more comfortably its ancestral mating dance."
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The results come from a 15-year study that used ultrasound scans to track blood vessels in middle-aged adults starting in 2002.
- The study measured the stiffness of blood vessels in middle-aged patients over time.
- Stiff blood vessels can lead to the destruction of delicate blood vessels in the brain, which can contribute to cognitive decline.
- The scans could someday become a widely used tool to identify people at high risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's.
Journalism got a big wake up call in 2016. Can we be optimistic about the future of media?
- "[T]o have a democracy that thrives and actually that manages to stay alive at all, you need regular citizens being able to get good, solid information," says Craig Newmark.
- The only constructive way to deal with fake news? Support trustworthy media. In 2018, Newmark was announced as a major donor of two new media organizations, The City, which will report on New York City-area stories which may have otherwise gone unreported, and The Markup, which will report on technology.
- Greater transparency of fact-checking within media organizations could help confront and correct fake news. Organizations already exist to make media more trustworthy — are we using them? There's The Trust Project, International Fact-Checkers Network, and Tech & Check.
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