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Five Things – 29-04-17

Posted on 3 mins read

This week has been an interesting reflection on the history of humanity and how much human society has advanced over the last 50,000 years and the even more insane progress in the last 100.

This week also had me listening to Unattended Consequences in almost every spare moment I had. It’s a fascinating podcast featuring Patrick Rothfuss (author of the Name of the Wind) and Max Temkin (one of the creators of Cards Against Humanity). While I don’t agree with everything they say, and sometimes they meander through topics that may not interest you, frequently they’ll bring up profound points, some of which have changed how I think this week. In fact at least two of the Five Things this week were mentioned by them.

First up, I’ll let you know that this is a very long article (coming in just under 40,000 words), so I strongly suggest reading it over a few sessions (I spaced mine out over 3 days). This will also allow you to process each section of the article, which will help with understanding the next.

Anyway, on to the topic of the article: This article explains how Brain Machine Interfaces (BMIs) could change the world, but it doesn’t go straight there. The article explains everything from how humans got as far as we did, and a detailed explanation of the brain as primers to make sure you understand BMIs clearly. This with the mix of explanation and comedy that Wait But Why is known for.

If you read nothing else this week, read this one, as it is the best article I have read so far this year!

Will Life Get Better for the Poor?—vlogbrothers

It’s a couple of years old now, but this is a great video explaining how although it feels like there are two worlds on this planet, we’re really only one and making sure the less well of the world is supported the better overall the human race will end up being. John Green also explains although while there has been a massive increase in the prospects of people in the second world, there is still a long way to go before prospects are equal.

Malaria: Kenya, Ghana and Malawi get first vaccine—BBC News

This is an exciting development in the world of stemming the tide of deaths related to diseases that predominately affect the poorer countries in the world. Especially with an estimated death count of 429,000 people in 2015, with 390,000 of those deaths being in sub-Saharan Africa (according to WHO), it’s great that the trail is so large, initially covering 750,000 children. This is great news against one of the most pervasive killers of humans throughout history.

Episode 534: The History of Light—Planet Money

I sometimes find it hard to think about how far the human race has come since I’m limited by my frame of reference. However, other have done much better think about it and this episode explores how much effort went into getting access to light throughout history, from working a full day for 10 minutes of light in Ancient Babylon to the ridiculous amount of hours of light we get from one day of work today. It’s an interesting and quantifiable measure of human progress.

Learning a second language isn’t just good for your brain—it’s good for democracy, too—Quartz

After reading this article, it got me to reinstall Duolingo again. I hadn’t thought about it before but it makes intuitive sense that being able to speak different languages changes how we think about the world. If you’re inspired by this piece but don’t know what language you’d like to try, you can check out Wikipedia’s “List of languages by total number of speakers” for inspiration.