Charles R Knight/Wikimedia
Around 600,000 years ago, humanity split in two. One group stayed in Africa, evolving into us.
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Catching serial killers with an algorithm

This week, Big Think is partnering with Freethink to bring you amazing stories of the people and technologies that are shaping our future.

  • There are over 250,000 unsolved murder cases in the United States. Thomas Hargrove, cofounder of Murder Accountability Project, wants that number to be as close to zero as possible, and he has just the tool to help.
  • Hargrove developed an algorithm that, through cluster analysis, is capable of finding connections in murder data that human investigators tend to miss.
  • The technology exists, but a considerable roadblock that the project faces is getting support and cooperation from law enforcement offices.
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How viral social media memes trigger real-world violence

What responsibility should government authorities and Big Tech take in policing the spread of sedition-oriented content?

Credit: Christian Buehner on Unsplash
  • It can be hard to believe that comical images online are enough to rile people up enough that they'll actually attack.
  • Originating in the darker corners of the internet, Bugaloo is now prominent on mainstream online platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
  • The Network Contagion Research Institute's recent series of Contagion and Ideology Reports uses machine learning to examine how memes spread.
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Woodpecker wars are intense and even draw a crowd

Acorn woodpecker battles over prized territory are serious business.

Credit: Steve Byland/Shutterstock
  • Acorn woodpeckers are highly socialized birds who are, let's say, unusual.
  • Small teams of acorn woodpeckers battle for days over coveted territory.
  • Up to 30 spectators attend the battles, leaving their own territories unattended to do so.
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Study projects lifetime risk of death by gun violence and drugs in the US

By projecting lifetime risk, an alarming new medical study centers the human lives that will be lost due to gun violence and drug addiction in the United States.

Photo by Fey Marin on Unsplash
  • A new study found that the risk of a person dying from a gunshot is about one percent, while the risk of death by drug overdose is at 1.5 percent.
  • If this death trend continues on this trajectory, it means that approximately one out of every 100 children today will die from a firearm while one out of 70 will die by drug overdose.
  • Presenting these statistics in terms of "lifetime risk" makes the numbers personal by centering the human lives that will be lost and demands ethical action to protect those lives.
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