Science and Technology
The brain’s genius is its gift for reflection. . . . It takes many forms: our finding similarities among seemingly unrelated things, wadding up worries into tangled balls of obsession difficult to pierce even with the spike of logic, painting elaborate status or romance fantasies in which we star, picturing ourselves elsewhere and elsewhen.November 2022
Güven Güzeldere On The Mysteries Of Consciousness And Artificial Intelligence
Cohen: This summer, a Google engineer named Blake Lemoine caused controversy by disclosing a conversation with an AI called LaMDA, or “Language Model for Dialog Applications.” The conversation seemed to suggest this AI system had some awareness of itself, but the idea was dismissed by a number of people who work with such systems.
Güzeldere: It’s interesting that Google fired the guy who published that conversation. . . . People are saying, “Oh, it’s just a hack,” but it’s a very impressive hack. I think it will become a product that will be accepted by consumers.November 2022
These were strange and intoxicating expeditions. At the cliff-lined ends of forest-service roads or the edges of muddy cattle tanks, or in the cricket-loud groves where saguaros gave way to oaks, I would help stretch nets on moonless evenings. Bats fluttered into the thin weave and were trapped, toothy and screaming.August 2022
Shanna Swan On The Worldwide Drop In Fertility
Frisch: You found about a 1 percent decline in sperm counts per year.
Swan: Yes, which would mean a 50 percent decline over fifty years. We’re actually seeing something a little steeper than that.August 2022
How can I find a way to praise / it? Do the early inventors & embracers / churn with regret?August 2022
This morning the receptionist ushers me / into the Magnolia Room, reserved / for those receiving a “different type” / of mammogram, although I can discern / no obvious difference from the Dogwood Room, / where I waited last week for the usual sort, / the one about which my friends and I joke / and pretend we schedule as casually as a teeth-cleaning.January 2022
“Hi, it’s just me.” This might be the only phrase I know for sure / was on the years of messages the phone company erased / when they — inexplicably — changed my number. / The messages are gone, but the grief is still there, / ripe, a fullness I’m glad I possess. We think we want grief / to pass, but what would I do if it were gone, / like the messages, irretrievable?January 2022
A new feature in the magazine, A Thousand Words features photography so rich with narrative that it tells a story all on its own.January 2022
Daniel J. Levitin On Why Memory Isn’t So Black And White
Seeing and hearing are selective. We register what is needed at the moment and unconsciously ignore other input. It may seem that our eyes are like a camera and our ears are like microphones, objectively recording everything, but . . . our senses are not at all like those devices.January 2022
No one would admit that they’d stolen my phone, so Manager threatened to call a juju priest to settle the issue spiritually.December 2021