Science and Technology links (November 24th, 2017)

Women earned majority of doctoral degrees in 2016 for 8th straight year and outnumber men in grad school 135 to 100.

Materialists use Facebook more frequently, because they compare themselves to others, they objectify and instrumentalize others, and they accumulate friends.

The modern office chair, with wheels, was invented by Charles Darwin. Or so says a Wikipedia article.

The famous Harvard professor Clayton Christensen says that half of all colleges are bound for bankruptcy. (I am skeptical.)

We can rather easily multiply the lifespan of worms. We might ask though whether such actions actually slow down aging, or just prevent death. The former is true. Researchers found enhanced organ functionality in older, long-lived mutants.

I have always been fascinated by how poor synthesized speech sounds. For all the progress made so far, Siri still sounds like a machine. DeepMind had demoed better sounding synthesized speech a few months ago, but it was impractical computationally. They have now announced that they have a computationally practical version. Thus you can safely predict that within a few short years, synthesized speech coming out of most your devices will pass the Turing test: you won’t be able to differentiate voice coming out of your smartphone from actual human voice.

Echoing Tyler Cowen, Tim Hartford report on research research that found that

Companies still invest heavily in innovation, but the focus is on practical applications rather than basic science, and research is often outsourced to smaller outfits whose intellectual property can easily be bought and sold.

If you think that the solution is more government research grants… please consider that the surest way to be denied a government research grant is to propose a project that has a good chance of failing. Failure must not be an option if you want your research grant to be a success. It is that simple: governments are risk averse. And probably rightly so… when governments take chances, things often end poorly.

The data is in: coffee is healthy.

I keep telling people that scholars routinely cite papers that they have never read. I often get incredulous looks. Well. A made-up article got almost 400 citations.

About half of all men (me included) will suffer from male-pattern baldness. We still don’t know exactly what causes it and we do not have a handy cure for it. We have now explained 38% of the risk using genetic analysis.

Professor Kambhampati is a pacifist that does not support the campaign to stop “killer robots”. I share many of his thoughts.

Stress is good: Mitochondrial stress enhances resilience, protects aging cells and delays risk for disease.

Bees can be left or right handed.

The sex of the mice handlers seems to make a difference in drug experiments. (I am skeptical.)

One thought on “Science and Technology links (November 24th, 2017)”

  1. > I have always been fascinated by how poor synthesized speech sounds.

    Same, to the point of occasionally exploring what the start-up situation looks like and whether there’s something worth doing to fix it. High-quality voice synthesis would, I think, change the economics for producing things like video games and possibly some television (animated shows coming to mind), particularly more “indie” work. Perhaps we wind up in a time where the human voice actor is replaced with someone that can create unique vocal styles for virtual characters.

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