Nuclear powered submarines to keep an eye on the “wolf warrior”
The submarines will be patrolling the waters, keeping an eye out for the ‘wolf warrior”.
The submarines will be patrolling the waters, keeping an eye out for the ‘wolf warrior”.
– Jill Lepore A brilliant, revelatory account of the Cold War origins of the data-mad, algorithmic twenty-first century, from the author of the acclaimed international bestseller, These Truths. The Simulmatics Corporation, founded in 1959, mined data, targeted voters, accelerated news, manipulated consumers, destabilised politics, and disordered knowledge–decades before Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Cambridge Analytica. Silicon Valley likes to imagine it has no past but the scientists of Simulmatics are the long-dead grandfathers of Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. Borrowing from psychological warfare, they used computers to predict and direct human behaviour, deploying their “People Machine” from New York, Cambridge, and Saigon for clients that included John Kennedy’s presidential campaign, the New York Times, Young & Rubicam, and, during the Vietnam War, the Department of Defense. Jill Lepore, distinguished Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer, unearthed from the archives the almost unbelievable story of this long-vanished corporation, and of the women hidden behind it. In the 1950s and 1960s, Lepore argues, Simulmatics invented the future by building the machine in which the world now finds itself trapped and tormented, algorithm by algorithm. “A person can’t help but feel inspired by the riveting intelligence and joyful curiosity of Jill Lepore. Knowing that there is a mind like hers in the world is a hope-inducing thing.” –George Saunders “Everything Lepore writes is distinguished by intelligence, eloquence, and fresh insight. If Then is that, and even more: It’s absolutely fascinating, excavating a piece of little-known American corporate history that reveals a huge amount about the way we live today and the companies that define the modern era.” –Susan Orlean “Data science, Jill Lepore reminds us in this brilliant book, has a past, and she tells it through the engrossing story of Simulmatics, the tiny, long-forgotten company that helped invent our data-obsessed world, in which prediction is seemingly […]
World-renowned researcher and New York Times bestselling author Marcus Buckingham helps us discover where we’re at our best—both at work and in life. You’ve long been told to “Do what you love.” Sounds simple, but the real challenge is how to do this in a world not set up to help you. Most of us actually don’t know the real truth of what we love—what engages us and makes us thrive—and our workplaces, jobs, schools, even our parents, are focused instead on making us conform. Sadly, no person or system is dedicated to discovering the crucial intersection between what you love to do and how you contribute it to others. In this eye-opening, uplifting book, Buckingham shows you how to break free from this conformity—how to decode your own loves, turn them into their most powerful expression, and do the same for those you lead and those you love. How can you use love to reveal your unique gifts? How can you pinpoint what makes you stand out from anyone else? How can you choose roles in which you’ll excel? Love and Work unlocks answers to these questions and others, so you can: Choose the right role on the team. Describe yourself compellingly in job interviews. Mold your existing role so that it calls upon the very best of you. Position yourself as a leader in such a way that your followers quickly come to trust in you. Make lasting change for your team, your company, your family, or your students. Love, the most powerful of human emotions, the source of all creativity, collaboration, insight, and excellence, has been systematically drained from our lives—our work, teams, and classrooms. It’s time we brought love back in. Love and Work shows you how.
A landmark, radically uplifting account of our species’ progress from one of the world’s pre-eminent thinkers – with breakthrough insights into the power of diversity and our capacity to tackle climate change. In a captivating journey from the dawn of human existence to the present, world-renowned economist and thinker Oded Galor offers an intriguing solution to two of humanity’s great mysteries. Why are humans the only species to have escaped – only very recently – the subsistence trap, allowing us to enjoy a standard of living that vastly exceeds all others? And why have we progressed so unequally around the world, resulting in the great disparities between nations that exist today? Immense in scope and packed with astounding connections, Galor’s gripping narrative explains how technology, population size, and adaptation led to a stunning “phase change” in the human story a mere two hundred years ago. But by tracing that same journey back in time and peeling away the layers of influence – colonialism, political institutions, societal structure, culture – he arrives also at an explanation of inequality’s ultimate causes: those ancestral populations that enjoyed fruitful geographical characteristics and rich diversity were set on the path to prosperity, while those that lacked it were disadvantaged in ways still echoed today. As we face ecological crisis across the globe, The Journey of Humanity is a book of urgent truths and enduring relevance, with lessons that are both hopeful and profound: gender equality, investment in education, and balancing diversity with social cohesion are the keys not only to our species’ thriving, but to its survival.
Having read a number of books both by and on the mysterious Elena Ferrante, I’m always intrigued when something new appears. No fiction, alas, but we do get to hear from the reclusive writer on her own literary preferences, as well as being granted some glimpses into the work process. In the Margins: On the Pleasures of Reading and Writing (translated by Ann Goldstein) is a collection of Ferrante’s essays on, reading and writing. The first three, interestingly enough, were written for a series of public lectures at the University of Bologna (the Eco Lectures!), while the fourth is an added bonus, coming from a conference on Dante held in 2021. The performance honours for the first three essays went to actress Manuela Mandracchia, while Tiziana de Rogatis delivered the Dante talk to the conference. Nevertheless, there’s still a lot to like about In the Margins. It consists of four short essays written in a style recognisable to anyone who has tried Ferrante’s other non-fiction work. While light and breezy in places, this belies a keen intellect and a vast knowledge of certain areas of literature, together making for an eminently readable and enjoyable set of texts. The first of the Eco Lectures, ‘Pain and Pen’, starts with childhood anecdotes, in which the writer reflects on school handwriting lessons: But I was easily distracted when I wrote, and while I almost always respected the margin on the left, I often ended up outside the one on the right, whether to finish the word or because I had reached a point where it was difficult to divide the word into syllables and start a new line without going outside the margin. I was punished so often that the sense of the boundary became part of me, and when I write by hand I feel the threat of the vertical red line […]
Sylvia G. Rice, Assistant Professor of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences, Rice University. In 1938, a British engineer and amateur meteorologist made a discovery that set off a fierce debate about climate change. Scientists had known for decades that carbon dioxide could trap heat and warm the planet. But Guy Callendar was the first to connect human activities to global warming. He showed that land temperatures had increased over the previous half-century, and he theorised that people were unwittingly raising Earth’s temperature by burning fossil fuels in furnaces, factories and even his beloved motorcycles. When Callendar published his findings, it set off a firestorm. The scientific establishment saw him as an outsider and a bit of a meddling gentleman scientist. But, he was right. His theory became widely known as “the Callendar Effect.” Today, it’s known as global warming. Callendar defended his theory until his death in 1964, increasingly bewildered that the science met such resistance from those who did not understand it. Building on over a century of climate science A theoretical basis for climate change had been developed over the 114 years leading up to Callendar’s research. Scientists including Joseph Fourier, Eunice Foote, John Tyndall and Svante Arrhenius had developed an understanding of how water vapor in the Earth’s atmosphere trapped heat, noted that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere also absorbed large quantities of heat and speculated about how increasing fossil fuel use could raise Earth’s temperature and change the climate. However, these scientists spoke only of future possibilities. Callendar showed global warming was already happening. An engineer runs his own climate experiments Callendar received a certificate in mechanics and mathematics from City and Guilds College, London, in 1922 and went to work for his father, a well-known British physicist. The two shared interests in physics, motorcycles, racing and meteorology. Callendar would later join the U.K. Ministry of Supply in armament […]
-Gal Beckerman From intimate conversations grow world-shaking movements, argues this probing intellectual history. New York Times Book Review editor Gal Beckerman (When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone) surveys small circles that incubated subversive thinking, including 17th-century French polymath Nicolas Peiresc’s scientific letter-writing network; Britain’s 1839 Chartist campaign for universal suffrage, which galvanised working-class politics; Soviet dissident Natalya Gorbanevskaya’s samizdat journal, the Chronicle, which landed her in a psychiatric hospital; and the 1990s feminist punk scene sparked by the zine Riot Grrrl. He also investigates the internet’s role in modern-day movements: the Facebook page that publicised Egypt’s Tahrir Square demonstration; the Discord chat rooms where alt-right activists organised the 2017 Unite-the-Right rally in Charlottesville, Va.; and the Red Dawn email group of health experts who brainstormed Covid-19 interventions. Drawing on communications theory, Beckerman analyses these intellectual channels for their ability to foster accessible but private conversations that shape innovative ideas, though he’s skeptical of social media as an organising tool because it’s too public, volatile, emotional, and virtual to nurture serious thinking and politics. Beckerman unearths fascinating lore about these ideological hothouses, from the Futurists’ love triangles in early 20th-century Italy to the alt-right’s public-messaging strategies. The result is a timely and stimulating take on how the fringe infiltrates the mainstream.
When Covid-19 forced the brakes on the global economy, millions of people decided to step off the treadmill to refuel their aspirations. As many as 40-75% of the workforce is reported to be considering quitting their current job. This movement has precipitated a talent crisis, fuelling debate on whether this is the Great Resignation or the Great Reshuffle. While each analysis is insightful, we are looking at something completely different; we are at the tipping point of the Great Relearning Revolution. The workforce is eager to learn While attrition numbers have been widely reported, the number of people choosing to learn has not. Enrollment on popular MOOC (massive open online course) platforms has skyrocketed. At Coursera, it was 640% higher from mid-March to mid-April 2020 than during the same period in 2019, growing from 1.6 to 10.3 million. At Udemy, enrolment was up over 400% between February and March 2020. The e-learning market, growing at a compound annual rate of 20%, is on course to reach a trillion dollars by 2027. Among the courses in high demand are data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning. For those struggling to find talent in these areas, that’s promising news. This hunger to relearn within the workforce also reflected some interesting dimensions in other recent surveys. A Gallup-Amazon study revealed that 48% of workers in the US are willing to switch to a new job if offered skills training opportunities and 65% of them believe employer-provided upskilling is very important when evaluating a potential new job. A MetLife survey highlighted an even more interesting insight: two in three (63%) women who left the workforce during the pandemic said they are ready to return – and eight in 10 of those are considering careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). We seem to be witnessing a redefining of literacy, akin to Alvin Toffler’s prophecy, […]
by Peter S Goodman From the New York Times’s Global Economics Correspondent, a masterwork of explanatory journalism that exposes how billionaires’ systematic plundering of the world—brazenly accelerated during the pandemic—has transformed 21st-century life and dangerously destabilised democracy. The history of the last half century in America, Europe, and other major economies is in large part the story of wealth flowing upward. The most affluent people emerged from capitalism’s triumph in the Cold War to loot the peace, depriving governments of the resources needed to serve their people, and leaving them tragically unprepared for the worst pandemic in a century. Drawing on decades of experience covering the global economy, award-winning journalist Peter S. Goodman profiles five representative “Davos Men”–members of the billionaire class–chronicling how their shocking exploitation of the global pandemic has hastened a fifty-year trend of wealth centralisation. Alongside this reporting, Goodman delivers textured portraits of those caught in Davos Man’s wake, including a former steelworker in the American Midwest, a Bangladeshi migrant in Qatar, a Seattle doctor on the front lines of the fight against COVID, blue-collar workers in the tenements of Buenos Aires, an African immigrant in Sweden, a textile manufacturer in Italy, an Amazon warehouse employee in New York City, and more. Goodman’s rollicking and revelatory exposé of the global billionaire class reveals their hidden impact on nearly every aspect of modern society: widening wealth inequality, the rise of anti-democratic nationalism, the shrinking opportunity to earn a livable wage, the vulnerabilities of our health-care systems, access to affordable housing, unequal taxation, and even the quality of the shirt on your back. Meticulously reported yet compulsively readable, Davos Man is an essential read for anyone concerned about economic justice, the capacity of societies to grapple with their greatest challenges, and the sanctity of representative government.
Bashar Al Shawa, PhD Student in Architecture, University of Bath It’s been claimed that technology is the answer to the climate crisis. By eventually separating economic growth from its effects on the environment through improving energy efficiency, the argument runs, better technology promises to prevent catastrophic global warming. But among the many things that this argument fails to consider is the reality that new technology has often encouraged extravagant forms of consumption: from private cars and planes to kitchens full of appliances and air conditioning in countries with mild climates. Technology has also caused what’s called the “rebound effect”: where improving energy efficiency leads to cheaper energy and therefore higher rates of energy consumption. For example, buying a more fuel-efficient car will reduce your average fuel cost per trip and thus is likely to lead to more trips, taking away at least some of your anticipated energy savings. A similar trend appears in architecture, where advances in artificial cooling, heating and computer-aided design have – rather than creating more efficient designs – actually introduced wasteful building styles. In my work, I call this phenomenon the “architectural rebound effect”. This effect becomes especially clear when we look at how building façades (the “skin” that covers buildings) have evolved over the past 100 years. Façade failures The Cité de Refuge residential building in Paris, designed by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier in 1933, boasts one of the earliest examples of a façade made entirely out of glass. But with no windows or air conditioning, its summer indoor temperatures reached up to 33°C – making it a “notable failure” in architecture. To fix this, the façade was fitted with external shading devices and about a third of its glass was made opaque. This strategy was mostly effective: computer simulations have shown that the upgraded design reduced indoor summer temperatures to below 25°C. From the 1950s, fully glazed façades without shading […]