The Man Who Brought You Brexit

the-man-who-broughtBritain’s vote to leave the EU was the grand finale of a 25-year campaign by a lonely sect of true believers.
“…you don’t get to Brexit without someone dreaming up the window – the remedy of leaving – in the first place. And during those long years inside the European project, that was the work of the right wing of the Conservative party. To be specific, a small, somewhat esoteric part of that wing: a flash of feathers, almost, a sect of true Eurosceptic believers who dreamed and schemed for this moment for the last 25 years. Most worked for little else, with no reward, and with no sign that they would ever prevail. “Like the monks on Iona,” as one of their former parliamentary researchers told me, “illuminating their manuscripts and waiting for the Dark Ages to come to an end.” And no one in that group worked with more devotion than Daniel Hannan, a Conservative member of the European parliament for south-east England.”
Written and read by Sam Knight. Produced by Simon Barnard

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads | 28th October 2016

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Moral’s Law

morals-law“If it bleeds, it leads” is the tried and true tenet of news. Indeed, headlines are often no more than a long list of moral atrocities. Yet one man argues that we’re living in the most civilized era in history. And he credits this to scientific thought and reason.
Hang on! Our executive function isn’t enough to promote ethical behavior, says a psychologist. The real fuel behind our drive to be good? Anger, compassion, pride: your emotions!
But whether or not you’re a pillar of the community, good intentions might all be for naught when future ethical decisions are made by our silicon successors. Get ready for moral machines. Or not.
Guests: Michael Shermer – Publisher of Skeptic Magazine, author of The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom
David DeSteno – Psychologist, Northeastern University, author of The Truth About Trust
Colin Allen – Historian, philosopher of science and cognitive science, Indiana University. Co-author of Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right From Wrong
Illustration: An etching from Francisco Goya’s print suite, “Disasters of War”, mutilated by the Chapman Brothers.

Big Picture Science | 24th October 2016

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The Dawn of Artificial Intelligence

the-dawn-of-artificial-intelligenceSam Harris speaks with computer scientist Stuart Russell about the challenge of building artificial intelligence that is compatible with human well-being, and explores a possibility that superintelligent AI systems might wipe out humans by inflicting a harm on us similar to what humans have brought on lesser species.
Stuart Russell is a Professor of Computer Science and Smith-Zadeh Professor in Engineering, University of California, Berkeley and Adjunct Professor of Neurological Surgery, University of California, San Francisco. He and Peter Norvig are authors of Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach.

Waking Up | 23rd November 2016

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How the Miami Tribe Got Its Language Back

how-the-miami-tribeThe last native speaker of Myaamia died in the 1960s. The language had been spoken by the Myaamia people, Native Americans who originally lived in what is now Indiana. Also known as the Miami, they were forcibly relocated twice in the 19th century, and ended up scattered throughout the Midwest and beyond — a situation that put pressure on the language even a century ago.
By the 1980s, linguists and tribe members alike thought the language was gone. But then Daryl Baldwin came along. He’d always known he had Myaamia heritage, but it wasn’t until his late 20s that he got interested in the language.
Baldwin embarked on the challenge together with his wife, Karen. There was no dictionary or “Teach Yourself Myaamia” book, and there weren’t even sound recordings of the language. But somehow, they made a start.
They began with words — household items, animals, the names of birds — taped to their walls and kitchen counters, or carried on pieces of paper in their pockets to be consulted throughout the day.

The World in Words | 14th October 2016

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Doomsday Dread: The End of Civilization

doomsday_dreadSince the beginning of civilization, people have worried about its collapse. Pockets of people across the world have long warned that the end is near, and as it turns out, their warnings of apocalypse might be closer to the truth than we think.

Phil Torres, the author of The End: What Science and Religion Tell Us About the Apocalypse, joins Point of Inquiry host Josh Zepps to discuss just how close we are to experiencing catastrophes that have the potential to fuel our demise. With everything from climate change and biodiversity loss to uncontrollable technologies and the greater accessibility of advanced weaponry, Torres predicts that the human race is going to have some major hurtles to overcome if we want to survive the coming century.

Phil Torres is an author, contributing writer for the Future of Life Institute, and an Affiliate Scholar at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. His writing has been featured in numerous publications such as Time, Motherboard, Salon, Huffington Post, and Free Inquiry.

Point of Inquiry | 4th October 2016

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