The best defense against authoritarianism? More educated citizens.

For democracy to prosper in the long term, we need more people to reach higher levels of education.

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  • It's difficult to overstate the impact of technology and artificial intelligence. Smart machines are fundamentally reshaping the economy—indeed, society as a whole.
  • Seemingly overnight, they have changed our roles in the workplace, our views of democracy—even our family and personal relationships.
  • In my latest book, I argue that we can—and must—rise to this challenge by developing our capacity for "human work," the work that only humans can do: thinking critically, reasoning ethically, interacting interpersonally, and serving others with empathy.
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How sci-fi helps humanity avoid species-level mistakes

Technology of the future is shaped by the questions we ask and the ethical decisions we make today.

  • Robots (from the Czech word for laborer) began appearing in science fiction in the early 1900s as metaphors for real world ideas and issues surrounding class struggles, labor, and intelligence. Author Ken MacLeod says that the idea that robots would one day rebel was baked into the narrative from the start. As technologies have advanced, so too have our fears.
  • "Science fiction can help us to look at the social consequences, to understand the technologies that are beginning to change our lives," says MacLeod. He argues that while robots in science fiction are a reflection of humanity, they have little to do with our actual machines and are "very little help at all in understanding what the real problems and the real opportunities actually are."
  • AI has made the threat of "autonomous killer robots" much more of a possibility today than when Asimov wrote his three laws, but it's the decisions we make now that will determine the future. "None of these developments are inevitable," says MacLeod. "They're all the consequences of human actions, and we can always step back and say, 'Do we really want to do this?'"

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One year of COVID-19: What will we learn?

Pandemics have historically given way to social revolution. What will the post-COVID revolution be?

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  • The US is approaching 500,000 COVID-19 deaths. What can we learn from one year of loss and chaos?
  • The lessons are clear. Among them are realizing our fragility as a species, our codependence as humans, and the urgent need to move beyond social injustice and inequity.
  • As with the Renaissance following the Black Plague of the 14th century and the explosive creativity of the 1920s post Spanish influenza, this is our turn to redefine the course of history. Let's not mess this up.
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The way we teach science misses something key: Human context

Why do we deprive students of the historical and cultural context of science?

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  • The teaching of science must and can be humanized at all levels, from nonscience courses to technical advanced courses.
  • By teaching science only as a technical endeavor, we deprive students and future scientists of a more inclusive worldview where science is seen as part of our human need to make sense of the world.
  • The challenges we face in the modern world call for an engagement of the sciences and the humanities that starts in the classroom and becomes an essential aspect of the public sphere.
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Study: Language (not geography) major force behind India’s gene flow

The study found that people who spoke the same language tended to be more closely related despite living far apart.

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  • Studies focusing on European genetics have found a strong correlation between geography and genetic variation.
  • Looking toward India, a new study found a stronger correlation between gene variation and language as well as
  • social structure.
  • Understanding social and cultural influences can help expand our knowledge of gene flow through human history.
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