Meat Without Animals

Stem cell agriculture could revolutionize the world food system. The U.S. government needs to invest in it now to reap the economic benefits. BY ARIEL RON AND ALEX SMITH Ariel Ron is an associate professor of history at Southern Methodist University and a senior policy advisor for the Good Food Institute. Alex Smith is a food and agriculture analyst at the Breakthrough Institute. He has written for MIT Technology Review, Jacobin Magazine, the Breakthrough Journal, and Foreign Policy. The world’s population is growing in numbers and affluence, two trends that will drive rising demand for protein-rich foods. The problem is that there is not enough land to … Continue reading Meat Without Animals

A Messiah Won’t Save Us

The messianic idea that permeates Western political thinking — that a person or technology will deliver us from the tribulations of the present — distracts us from the hard work that must be done to build a better world. BY JONATHAN BLAKE “When the Messianic idea appears as a living force in the world … it always occurs in the closest connection with apocalypticism,” Gershom Scholem observed in 1959. Scholem could state this with authority. The greatest modern scholar of messianism in Judaism, he was immersed in the study of ancient and medieval religious thought and of the messianic movements to which it … Continue reading A Messiah Won’t Save Us

Philosopher of the apocalypse

From the ashes of the Second World War, Günther Anders forecast a new catastrophe: technology would overwhelm its creators Audrey Borowski is postdoctoral fellow at the MCMP at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, as well as a research associate at the University of Oxford where she completed her DPhil. Her interests range widely from the early modern period to the 21st century, from Leibniz to catastrophe and the philosophy of artificial intelligence. As the commander of the weather plane that supported the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, Claude Eatherly did not feel any particular animosity … Continue reading Philosopher of the apocalypse

Can Cancer Be Treated by Changing Its Cells?

Tumors grow when cells lose their biological identity. A promising therapeutic might restore their sense of self. BY LINA ZELDOVICH In 2017, Karen Kostroff, a renowned oncology surgeon at Northwell Health in the New York Metropolitan area added a new talking point to her standard conversation with breast cancer patients facing tumor removal surgery. These conversations are never easy, because a cancer diagnosis is devastating news. But the new topic seemed to give her patients a sense of purpose, a feeling that their medical misfortune had the potential to do something good for other people. Kostroff was asking her patients if they … Continue reading Can Cancer Be Treated by Changing Its Cells?

We Can Be Different: David Byrne’s Illustrated History of the Future

“The way things were, the way we made things, it turns out, none of it was inevitable — none of it is the way things have to be.” BY MARIA POPOVA “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, — that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know,” Keats wrote in the closing lines of his “Ode to a Grecian Urn” in the spring of 1819, in the spring of modern science. Humanity was coming abloom with new knowledge of reality as astronomy was supplanting the superstitions of astrology and chemistry was rising form the primordial waters of … Continue reading We Can Be Different: David Byrne’s Illustrated History of the Future

Opinion: Universities Are Failing the Next Generation of Scientists

In a tight academic job market, graduate schools owe it to students to be transparent about their career prospects. BY PAUL M. SUTTER THE LONG-TERM JOB outlook for a freshly minted science Ph.D. can be pretty grim. After devoting more than a half decade to becoming an independent researcher in the field of their passion, after sacrificing opportunities for better pay and work-life balance, and after writing papers and presenting at who-knows-how-many conferences, graduate students may emerge from the ivory tower only to find that there are no jobs that allow them to do the thing they’ve been training to do. In … Continue reading Opinion: Universities Are Failing the Next Generation of Scientists

Future evolution: from looks to brains and personality, how will humans change in the next 10,000 years?

Discussions of human evolution are usually backward looking, as if the greatest triumphs and challenges were in the distant past. by Nicholas R. Longrich READER QUESTION: If humans don’t die out in a climate apocalypse or asteroid impact in the next 10,000 years, are we likely to evolve further into a more advanced species than what we are at the moment? Harry Bonas, 57, Nigeria Humanity is the unlikely result of 4 billion years of evolution. From self-replicating molecules in Archean seas, to eyeless fish in the Cambrian deep, to mammals scurrying from dinosaurs in the dark, and then, finally, improbably, … Continue reading Future evolution: from looks to brains and personality, how will humans change in the next 10,000 years?

Anti-aging isn’t a scam, but immortality almost certainly is

KEY TAKEAWAYS Altos Labs, a new biotechnology firm, has recruited some of the leading scientists on age-related disorders.  Age-related disorders occur when one system (such as the neurological system) begins to fail due to cellular stress. This rarely kills the individual, but it reduces the individual’s capacity to live a healthy life.  Rejuvenating stressed and aged cells has the potential to prevent age-related disorders and improve the human healthy span. by Peter Rogers Altos Labs, a new biotech firm with $3 billion in funding, has announced plans to combat aging. But what does that mean for human life span, exactly? … Continue reading Anti-aging isn’t a scam, but immortality almost certainly is

Mind of its own: Will “general AI” be like an alien invasion?

KEY TAKEAWAYS According to surveys, approximately half of artificial intelligence experts believe that general artificial intelligence will emerge by 2060.  General artificial intelligence (also called AGI) describes an artificial intelligence that’s able to understand or learn any intellectual task that a human being can perform.  Such an intelligence would be unlike anything humans have ever encountered, and it may pose significant dangers. by Louis Rosenberg An alien species is headed toward earth. Many experts predict it will get here within 20 years, while others suggest it may take a little longer. Either way, there is little doubt it will arrive before … Continue reading Mind of its own: Will “general AI” be like an alien invasion?

Unclutter Your Life by Erasing Your Future

This unsettling practice can usher in a world of relief. By Tina Lear I have too much stuff. That’s the bare truth.  Anxiety and guilt morph into a low-grade, psychic nausea, until I finally can’t take it anymore. Then I pay the best $89 of my life on the minimalist Joshua Becker’s course, “Uncluttered,” and I have my kitchen to show for it. It’s clear and clean and by far the most beautiful room in the house. But soon the momentum disappears, and I don’t know why. So I take a good look at what I’m thinking, and a pattern emerges. My … Continue reading Unclutter Your Life by Erasing Your Future