Those Who Think Further into the Future Less Likely to Take Risks

Those Who Think Further into the Future Less Likely to Take RisksThe folks that think further in the future may be more likely to avoid risks, accord to a brand new study. Scientists have referred to some very big data sources in order to analyze the texts from almost 40,000 people on Twitter. And they also ran online experiments to assess their overall behavior.

These researchers also discovered a correlation between those who have longer future-sightedness and those who less apt to make risky decisions, according to the study.

“Twitter is like a microscope for psychologists,” said Phillip Wolff, who is an associate professor of psychology from Emory University and also one of the coauthors for a report that recently appeared in the publication, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Naturalistic data mined from tweets appears to give insights not just into tweeters’ thoughts at a particular time, but into a relatively stable cognitive process. Using social media and big-data analytical tools opens up a new paradigm in the way we study human behavior.”

Revealing ourselves on social media

The other coauthor Robert Thorstad, who is also a PhD candidate from Wolff’s lab, created the idea for this research, and he also created its design and analyses, and even implemented the experiments.

“I’m fascinated by how people’s everyday behavior can give away a lot of information about their psychology,” Thorstad claimed. “Much of our work was automated, so we were able to analyze millions of tweets from thousands of individuals’ day-to-day lives.”

Those who view further into the future tends to have fewer and shorter tweets, usually just a few after only a couple of days, which is far different than previous research which indicated future-sightedness on the order of years.

“One possible interpretation is that the difference is due to a feature of social media,” Wolff says. Another potential reason was that previous studies explicitly asked folks exactly how far they were thinking into the future while this research used implicit measures for previous tweets.

While this interesting relationship between decision-making and future-sightedness may appear obvious, prior findings on this subject haven’t been that consistent. Those inconsistencies could be because of factors like observer bias in laboratory settings or small sample sizes.

These researchers employed an array of methods (like the Stanford CoreNLP which is a natural language processing system and also SUTime, which is a rule-based temporal tagger that is built on regular expression patterns) to automatically assess Twitter text trails that were left by individual topics.

They collected this experimental data through the use of Amazon’s crowdsourcing tool called Mechanical Turk, which is actually a website where people can perform a variety of internet-based tasks. Scientists asked the participants in these Mechanical Turk experiments to furnish their Twitter screen names.

In one particular experiment, the Mechanical Turk participants were required to answer delay discounting questions, like: Would you rather have $60 today or $100 six months from now? The researchers then analyzed the tweets of these participants. They assessed future orientation by their tendency to tweet about topics related to the future as compared to the past. Their future-sightedness was based on how frequently their tweets talked about the future, and how far they looked in the future.

The data indicated that future orientation was not related to investment behavior, but those people who looked further into the future were most likely to opt for waiting for bigger rewards in the future than those who didn’t look as far in the future. This revealed the link between investment behavior and how far people look into the future.

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Near-Death Experiences Have Proven an Afterlife

Near-Death Experiences Have Proven an AfterlifeMany religious visions of an afterlife, like those of heaven from Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, are essays of faith that are expected to be believe without any demands for proof or evidence. However, scientific quests for immortality are based on beliefs that evidence is the main premise but could already exists through Near-Death Experiences and even reincarnation. Let us look at both paths to heaven independently since they have completely different rationale for what’s actually happening.

Are Near Death Experiences Really Stairways to Heaven?

Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) are usually depicted by 5 components that common to each incident: (1) Out-of-Body Experiences (OBE) with feelings of floating above their body while they look down; (2) Total separation from their body; (3) Going into darkness via a hallway or tunnel; (4) Observing a very bright light at the tunnel’s end that appears to be a passageway to… (5) Another side, where bright light, the holy God, angels, and loved ones who have “crossed over” are all there to usher in and welcome the person who is dying.

Often times there’s a review of one’s life, and most of these NDEs are very positive and lead dying individuals to experience extreme joy and gratitude. But according to the International Association of Near-Death Studies, some 9 – 23% of these people have experienced very negative NDEs that were characterized by void, fear, pain, emptiness, and even the feelings of nonexistence. Rather than going to heaven, several of these folks feel they are going to hell. According to one NDE scientist named Phyllis Atwater, who’s gone through NDEs herself and now specializes in these negative experiences that some people are reporting, these hellish NDEs happen to “those who seem to have deeply repressed guilt, fear, and anger, or those who expect some kind of punishment after death.” So whenever we start explaining NDEs, we have to realize that there is going to be big variety of them and therefore, no single monolithic theory is going to explain all of them.

Numerous Cases Experiencing the Door to Heaven

The public became aware of NDEs and OBEs in 1975 because of Raymond Moody’s bestseller entitled Life After Life, which described well over one hundred cases, where numerous individuals accepted as proof of the afterlife. The frequency at which NDEs take place is very difficult to express with reliable data or numbers. There is a cardiologist who is named Fred Schoonmaker, for instance, who claimed that some 50% of more than 2000 of his patients across an 18 year interval had reported having NDEs. In a 1982 Gallup poll, they reported a percentage number that was considerably smaller at 5%. There is another cardiologist named Pim van Lommel who is claiming that about 12% of his 344 cardiac arrest cases have been successfully brought back from NDEs, and he wrote in his book called Consciousness Beyond Life what most folks believe—NDEs are proof that the mind survives without their  brain.

Perhaps the most famous and popular NDE occurred in the year 1984 when this migrant worker named Maria entered a hospital in Seattle after suffering a heart attack. While in ICU she had another cardiac arrest. After resuscitation she described what had happened to her. She said that she had floated above her body to the ceiling. From there, she saw medics trying to revive her. Remarkably, she claimed says she floated outside that hospital room and spotted a tennis shoe on a ledge of a window on the third floor. Her social worker in the ICU, who was a woman called Kimberly Clark, went to the third floor and got a shoe from the ledge of that window: “The only way she could have had such a perspective was if she had been floating right outside and at very close range to the tennis shoe. I retrieved the shoe and brought it back to Maria; it was very concrete evidence to me.”

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Here are the Most Miserable Economies in the World

Here are the Most Miserable Economies in the WorldThe global economy is threatened more by rising prices this year than by joblessness, in accordance with the Misery Index from Bloomberg, which tallies unemployment and inflations outlooks of 66 economies throughout the world.

As it turns out, Venezuela and South Africa have the world’s unhappiest economies.

And Thailand, Singapore continues to have the ‘least miserable’ economies.

Venezuela is now marking its fourth straight year as the most miserable economy on the planet, having a score that has more than tripled since 2017. Thailand has again received the “least miserable” status, although its wacky way of measuring unemployment makes Singapore a very strong second place. And other notables include Mexico, who is looking to gain some ground this year as their inflation has become much more manageable, yet Romania gets a lot more misery for the exact opposite reason.

The Bloomberg Misery Index depends on the old theory that low unemployment and low inflation typically reflect the happiness people are about their economy. However, there are cases when a low number is indicative of something negative going on in a county. For instance, constant low prices could be attributed to poor demand, and low joblessness could hamper workers who are looking to find a better job.

These results indicate that they global outlook on the economy remains upbeat. Experts and economists are projecting a 3.7% world growth for 2018, which would match the pace of last year which was the best growth since 2011, according to Bloomberg surveys.

Not everyone was fortunate enough to enjoy this growth. Take Venezuela, their hyperinflation is making economists shake their head in disgust. Currency rates from the black market provide angles on the numbers, and alternative measures have created daily cost swings. Recent government cutting of grocery prices provided a very brief cease in the inflation, but the surveyed economists are expecting it to rise 1,864% this year.

Here the World’s Best Economies

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Mexico made the best progress of anyone this year, as they moved 16 notches toward being the “least miserable”. This is because economists continue to be optimistic that its central bank will curb its high inflation from 2017, which will bring it to 4.1% this year after 6% percent in 2017. And its unemployment will remain around 3.4%.

But there are two caveats with Mexico. Their jobless numbers do not consider the 60% of workers that are in their informal economy. And in spite of the improvements from last year, consumer confidence is still in a funk and negotiations pertaining to Nafta may have a negative effect.

Some Other Honorable Mentions

Malaysia made a big move down this misery scale, going from No. 52 to No. 43 because of its easing inflation. The slow price growth is permitting the Bank Negara Malaysia to remain patient with the hiking of interest-rates, even while they were the very first in its region to tighten this year.

The United States should see an improvement to 6.2 this year from the score of 6.5 in 2017 even as inflation will rises after years of low price gains, and while the labor market tightens.

China, who owns the second biggest economy in the world, experienced rise on the misery scale with this year’s score of 6.3 from 5.5 in 2017. It is estimated that their consumer prices will rise 2.3% this year, compared with the 1.6% number from 2017.

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7 Lies you Believe About Animals

As it turns out, many of the assumptions we have made about certain animals are not true at all. Yet many of us keep repeating these faulty stories from myths and incorrect studies that have since been debunked. Let us examine 7 erroneously believed animal “facts” that really aren’t factual in the least.

7 Common Misconceptions about Animals

1) The Zebra’s Black and White Stripes is not camouflage. This is a myth that has been circulating for years and years. However, scientists have long since debunked this camouflage theory, and we still have no clue why their stripes exist.

This myth most likely came about as humans observed zebras from a perspective of human vision. It seemed like a good reason that by having a confusion of colors it would allow them blend into their surroundings.

2) Piranhas do not devour anyone who jumps into piranha-infested waters. We have seen this myth promoted on TV and it movies which makes us think that it is a death sentence to swim with piranhas. The fact is that they do not kill mammals for food. This is because their normally eat carcasses that are decomposing.

Even when they get desperate for food, they will typically eat other fish and even insects – not an entire cow. This myth was largely promoted after Teddy Roosevelt returned from an Amazon trip.

penguin3) Penguins are not as sweet and adorable as people think. The fact is humans have not had a lot of interaction with penguins, yet we like to view them as lovely creatures that live in under some of the planet’s harshest conditions. Even how they like to walk is seen as cute.

The fact is that these terrible creatures commit perhaps the most heinous acts of depravity in the entire animal kingdom. For instance, the male Adelie penguin who live in Antarctica often engage in rape and necrophilia. This was initially documented by a scientist from Britain who studied them during an expedition that took place from 1910 to 1913.

Also female emperor penguins have actually kidnapped the chicks from other penguins to compensate for a lack of fertility. And if they were opposed, they get extremely violent. In fact, these female emperor penguins have resorted to kidnapping chicks from totally different bird species as well and attempted to raise them as one of their own.

pigs4) Pigs do not sweat and they are not nasty. So when people use the term “sweating like a pig”, it is just plain wrong because pig do not have working sweat glands. This is why they get in the mud, so they can cool off.

Also, contrary to what most people believe, pigs are actually pretty clean animals. In fact, most of them would give some of the cleanest humans in the world a run for their money. We got this misconception about them because of the places on a farm where they are forced to live.

Pigs that live in the wild will not pass any bodily waste near the area where they live. Some of them even wash their food before they eat.

Praying mantis5) The Female Praying Mantis does not always eat its male lover. Even the Discovery Channel has clearly said that the female eats the head of the male praying mantis that she is mating with.

However, biologists conducted a test to see if this popular belief is true, and they discovered that it was not. The female praying mantises that had done this were in captivity. As it turns out, this environment is totally different than what this creature would prefer. They actually would choose a private space in their normal environment. Previously, there were several people in lab coats hovering over them, closely examining their every move.

And the praying mantis couples that were used in these early tests were also very hungry and starving. So actually, the male praying mantises were just as likely to eat their sexual partners as would the females were.

So whenever scientists actually set up the conditions that mimicked there actually preferences, they observed a radically different outcome. From 69 different experiments, there was just one female praying mantis who ate her male after mating with him.

cockroach6) Cockroaches most likely would not survive a nuclear annihilation. This myth has circulated throughout the Internet for years. It most likely came from the rubble and aftermath of Nagasaki and Hiroshima where they observed a few cockroaches after the bombs were dropped. But they were not the sole creatures to have survived.

While it may be true that cockroaches could have a bigger resistance to extinction and radiation than some other living creatures, more current studies have revealed that they would probably be the very first bugs to get wiped out whenever one of these big bombs reach the ground.

dog7) The Alpha Dog Training Technique is not applicable to domestic dogs. Several dog trainers and dog training methods talk about the alpha dog technique. This means that you assert your dominance and let the canine know who is in charge since that is how things work in the wild.

This technique comes from the belief that all wolf packs have an alpha wolf, who is the dominant leader that calls all the shots. Therefore, dogs are in the same family and should be trained the same way.

As you might have known, it is a very cruel way to train your dog. And it actually points out a basic misunderstanding about the way that real wolf packs work. This alpha male theory comes from very early research pertaining to pack behavior, but only in an unnatural environment. More recent research about wolf packs in the wild has totally debunked these original conclusions.

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Which is Worse for the Brain — Marijuana or Alcohol?

Marijuana or AlcoholIt appears that alcohol could be taking a greater toll on the human brain than marijuana does, particularly for teenagers, according to a brand new study.

In particular, scientists have discovered that chronic alcohol usage is connected to stark decreases in the gray matter of the brain — which contains the brain’s synapses and cell bodies — in both teenagers and in adults. And within adults, the use of alcohol was also connected to declines in the integrity of the white matter of the brain, which consists primarily of long nerve fibers that blast various messages throughout our nervous system. The use of cannabis wasn’t associated at all with either white- or gray-matter declines.

“The difference between the alcohol and the cannabis is pretty dramatic,” commented study’s lead author Kent Hutchison, who is a professor of psychology and neuroscience from the University of Colorado located in Boulder.

Marijuana and the Human Brain

This research should not be taken as an end-all in a debate whether or not cannabis is actually harmful on the brain. For starters, this study examined marijuana use only over the last 30 days, and these participants had relatively lower levels of reefer consumption. Additionally, there may also be some very subtle changes in the brain that the study was not able to capture.

However, this study did pretty much fit in with a previous body of work that revealed mixed results regarding cannabis and the human brain. There is some research on animals that implies that there are some cannabinoids, which are the compounds that resides in cannabis, may actually be protective for the body’s neural system, Hutchison added. However, studies in humans have shown varied results, and many of these studies have actually been too small to form any solid conclusions. One relatively large study that was conducted in the year 2016 found no changes in the brain’s gray matter after marijuana use, but it did find that the drug was connected to some decline in the brain’s white-matter integrity, or the quality of links among brain cells, particularly for those who began using cannabis at a relatively young age.

One of the big challenges with this kind of study is separating the use of marijuana from the use of other harmful substances, particularly alcohol, Hutchison pointed out. Another big difficulty is establishing whether or not the drug will is what’s actually causing the changes in the brain that were observed. There was a study of twins that was posted in the year 2015 which discovered that differences in the brains of pot smokers and nonusers had actually predated any marijuana use instead of being the cause of the differences. In other words, these pot smokers could have environmental or genetic factors that are predisposing them to use cannabis in the first place.

This new study had an advantage of have a very huge sample size. Scientists examined brain scans from some 850 substance-using adults that ranged in ages from 18 to 55 and also 440 substance-using teenagers ranging in ages from 14 to 19, all of which reported various levels of cannabis and alcohol use. The alcohol was the more common substance of choice, for 487 adults (57%) and with 113 teens (26%) reporting that they used alcohol only across the last six months, and 5 adults (0.6%) and 35 teens (8%) claimed they had used only cannabis over the last six months. The remaining participants used both.

Alcohol versus Pot

Hutchison and his research team had the ability to statistically control the alcohol usage factor while examining the pot effects, and also vice versa. What they discovered about alcohol use was nothing new, when you consider that booze is a well-known neurotoxin, Hutchison stated. Heavier alcohol usage always leads to bigger declines in the brain’s gray matter and also declines in the quality of link within the brain’s white matter.

By contrast, “we don’t see any statistically significant effects of cannabis on gray matter or white matter,” Hutchison commented.

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Are we Entering the Age of Teacherbots?

Are we Entering the Age of TeacherbotsCould this be true? Will we start seeing teacherbots who are applying artificial intelligence to do the jobs of teachers one day? Would they do a better job than humans? It might be a good idea to pay attention to some of the thoughts circulating about education’s future.

Occupations are Being Upgraded

The world of employment work is rapidly changing because of new and emerging technologies. And there are lots of examples to prove this point. A lawyer in Chatbot saved some 160,000 parking fines in New York and London. A hotel in China that has 30 stories was constructed in only 360 hours because of all the advances in technological prefabrication. Nike can construct and fine-tune prototypes for shoes in just in hours because of 3D printing. McDonald’s uses cognitive technology to collect drive-through orders and convert them to text that is directly fed directly into a point-of-sale process.

Is Your Teaching Job in Trouble?

However, these efficiencies bring up the natural question as to what will eventually happen to the jobs of working people? What about those folks who are taking order and making shoes?

The Futurist Thomas Frey claims that the teaching profession is most likely under those threats. Frey is predicting that about two billion jobs are going to disappear by the year 2030. And among those vanishing occupations are those of teachers, and also people who worked in the transportation and power industries.

Frey claims there are almost 25% of all kids today who are not even attending school at all and he believes we are short about 18 million teachers worldwide.

“There simply aren’t enough teachers at the right time and place to satisfy our growing thirst for knowledge.

“Over the coming decades, if we continue to insert a teacher between us and everything we need to learn, we cannot possibly learn fast enough to meet the demands of the future.”

Frey points out that we are already moving away from teacher-centric brand of schooling to a model that is more learning based, where ‘location’ is not as important.

He affirms that teaching needs experts in the field. And the new teacherless education model will use these experts to develop and create the materials, but will not require that expert to be present every time it is presented.

Frey feels like we are standing on the edge of a new artificial intelligence (AI) revolution.

He envisions a world where we will see teacherbots who are using AI that will be able to learn and understand every single student’s interests, their preferred tools and their unique methods of learning. This AI will alert the bot whenever a skill has become deficient, and what exactly is required to address the deficiency and when it has been addressed.

Brad McBean has argued on Aurecon’s Just Imagine blog that there may be jobs at risk of becoming automated, humans will still be that critical ingredient in all future workplaces. The function of human innovation and ingenuity will always be in demand.

“McKinsey’s latest report on automation displacement reminds us that, although almost every occupation has partial automation potential, humans will remain an essential ingredient in the future workplace equation. Even those jobs that can be easily automated, such as nursing or teaching, rely heavily on interactions between people and expertise that stretches beyond the knowledge of facts.”

Even though teaching was on Frey’s list of disappearing future jobs, coaching was on his list of occupations that would be in demand for the future. This seems to indicates a shifting role, instead of a replacement.

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What Global Challenges Will We Solve With Exascale Supercomputers?

What Global Challenges Will We Solve With Exascale SupercomputersEven though almost 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, only about 3% is considered drinkable—and the majority of that water is frozen in polar ice caps or glaciers. When we consider that almost a billion people on our planet do not have access to clean water, and the oceans of the world seem to be much smaller. As being one of the most abundant molecules on Earth, water has become a big problem for several civilizations.

Quest of the World

One of the most ambitious goals for our society is that of making ocean water drinkable. However, to accomplish this, we are going to need lots of innovation and a ton of processing power. Let us examine exactly how future supercomputers could help resolve our water problems and more. Researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory feel the answer resides in carbon nanotubes.

These little microscopic cylinders could serve as a great desalination filter. Their overall radius is certainly wide enough to allow water molecules pass through, yet narrow enough to filter out the bigger salt particles. And the scale involved here is truly incredible, as the width of one nanotube is over 10,000 times smaller than the hair of a human.

Drinkable Seawater?

After that, just fasten a couple of billion of these carbon nanotubes together, and then we would have a very effective apparatus for developing drinkable seawater. As with many things, accomplishing this configuration is easier said than actually done, and this is how scientists are hoping to use supercomputers to develop the optimal method for this task.

If scientists can efficiently test several variations of carbon nanotube filters, with the options to select parameters such as filter times, width, water salinity, and so forth, then the field’s progress would grow in a big way. We could only imagine the task of manually running experiments through the manipulation of materials which requires the use of a electron microscope to determine the next move. This task would just be way too complex, inefficient, and tedious.

This is where we turn to exascale computers, which is the very next step in scalable data processing.

Supercomputers have become a lot more powerful in recent years. The last benchmark level, which was the petascale, was reached in the year 2008 after the world’s fastest supercomputer reached a speed of more than quadrillion calculations every second. The next step would equivalent to chaining together 50 million desktop workstations. This machine will be able to conduct some quintillion calculations per second. As a reference point, it will outperform the fastest supercomputer of today by a factor of 8 to 10.

Seeing how this exascale computer could have a massive impact have on projects such as desalination is extremely exciting, and as a result, engineers are tirelessly working to create the first computer of its kind. As a matter of fact, the United States Dept of Energy has commissioned an exascale computer project of its own and has awarded grants to six different companies, such as IBM, HP, Intell, AMD, and even NVIDIA, to support the development and research of exascale.

Scientists have actually placed overwhelming faith in this technology. Progress in different fields such as wind energy, quantum mechanics, weather forecasting, and global seawater distillation reach a standstill because of the lack of computing power. The fastest processors on the planet only choke  when trying to work their way through huge petabytes of information and data.

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