How much does it cost to save a life?

Our personal choices can help to effectively combat poverty, says Peter Singer.

  • For the amount it costs to save one life in the United States, several hundred or a thousand lives could be saved in developing countries.
  • You can make small sacrifices to fuel your personal philanthropy. Instead of giving, "we're buying ourselves things that we don't really need," says philosopher Peter Singer. "Things that might range from expensive cars to simply buying bottled water when we can drink the water out of the tap."
  • Peter Singer is the founder of The Life You Can Save, an organization that aims to help change the culture of giving in affluent countries and increase donations to reputable and effective nonprofits.
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Move over, math. The universal language is world music.

A new study finds that societies use the same acoustic features for the same types of songs, suggesting universal cognitive mechanisms underpinning world music.

  • Every culture in the world creates music, though stylistic diversity hides their core similarities.
  • A new study in Science finds that cultures use identifiable acoustic features in the same types of songs and that tonality exists worldwide.
  • Music is one of hundreds of human universals ethnographers have discovered.
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Dehumanization has been trending for decades. Here’s how.

There is greater social distance between Americans than ever before.

  • There has been a trend toward dehumanization the past four or five decades. This dehumanization has made it easier for us to see others more as commodities than as co-citizens.
  • This dehumanization manifests in four different pillars: political polarization, income inequality, automation, and marketization.
  • Whether through political splits, or income differences, there is more social distance between us than ever before. This distance makes it easier for us, out of ignorance, to treat others in ways that are inhumane.
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Does our society incentivize disinformation?

Is anything clear in the age of disinformation?

  • Disinformation is rampant in human behavior, from ancient tribes hiding sources of water and gold from one another, to poker players bluffing and soccer players faking. Information is strategic.
  • The current information ecology is controlled by large tech companies whose goals may be radically different from the goals of the individuals using the platforms.
  • When it comes to critical issues like climate change, nuclear weapons stocks, and even foreign interference in U.S. elections, there is very little clear information, which impedes our decision making—that information scarcity is devastating when our survival as a species hangs in the balance.
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Will robots free people from slavery?

Even if automation makes human trafficking economically inefficient, that alone won't end this unethical practice.

  • Robotic automation may one day make slavery economically inefficient, but automation does not spring forth fully formed.
  • An interim period of piecemeal coverage may leave many at-risk, low-skilled workers in danger of exploitation.
  • Nor can automation sate the political and social motives for slavery found in some societies.
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