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Does life play dice? ... What could be more irresistible than the idea that two of the most mysterious subjects in science – quantum physics and life – are connected? Indeed, you get the third big mystery – consciousness ... Has evolution selected for quantum effects, or is their occurrence accidental? ... biology exploits quantum physics, we need to ask if its occurrence is enhanced by adaptation. /14-09-11

Does Anyone Want a Smartwatch? /14-09-11

A few weeks into every semester, I face a lecture hall that is half-empty, despite the fact that I am repeatedly voted a Harvard Yearbook Favorite Professor, that the lectures are not video-recorded, and that they are the only source of certain material that will be on the exam. I don’t take it personally; it’s common knowledge that Harvard students stay away from lectures ... Obviously they’re not slackers; the reason is that they are crazy-busy. ... what could they be doing that is more important than learning in class? The answer is that they are consumed by the same kinds of extracurricular activities that got them here in the first place. Steven Pinker /14-09-09

There is even disagreement about what philosophy is about — or if it is about anything at all. ... philosophy as being concerned with the exploration of conceptual as distinct from empirical space (the sciences being focused on the latter) ... the very spectacle of scholars devoting a lot of time and effort to trying to define and defend their discipline is a sure sign that all is not well with the discipline in question. ... empirically and mathematically unconstrained approaches may need to be jettisoned? ... I remain very skeptical of the value of any metaphysically-oriented work which is disconnected from empirical science. /14-09-07

Anthropocene. The Human Age. The World Shaped by Us. ... “the menagerie of the body’s attendant microbes” is altering assumptions about the multispecies being that we habitually call the self. We hear about brain scientists measuring the evolutionary impact of the online life, not least on our Google-corroded memories. We hear how, as humans are precipitating the planet’s sixth extinction, we are also producing unheard-of synthetic “species.” ... In America, we call this the second Gilded Age. ... What a marvel we’ve become, a species with planetwide powers and breathtaking gifts. /14-09-07

Immanuel Kant's perspective on ethics might suggest to us a Categorical Internet Imperative: Click only on those links that you can at the same time will all your fellow citizens to click on. /14-09-04

Tipping is a peculiar institution. ... countries where tipping is more common also have higher rates of corruption. /14-09-04

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