Intensity: How intense will the pleasure or pain be on the other side of our decision? Duration: How long will the pleasure or pain go on? Certainty: How certain are we that the pleasure or pain will actually happen? Onset: How long will it take for the pleasure or pain to arrive? (Bentham refers to this as “propinquity”.) Repeatability: What are the chances that these consequences will be repeated over and over again? Opposite effect: What are the chances that the pleasure or pain created could be reciprocated back onto oneself? Number of people: How many people will be affected by this decision, and in what way? Simple enough, right? Not exactly. Felicific calculus and utilitarianism have their fair share of critics. The most common objection is whether or not happiness is actually quantifiable; Bentham’s formula invites decision-makers to assign “utils” as units of measurement to tally a score, but the numerical value designated to various outcomes is … [Read more...] about This centuries-old framework is surprisingly effective for making better decisions
Esper complex event processing
In a year in which countries have had to halt economic impact to curb the spread of COVID-19—a disease itself connected to our changing climate—and yet we’ve still added carbon emissions into our atmosphere, we’ve learned about what an appropriate societal response to crises is, what happens when we fall short, and how our climate systems, social systems, and technical systems can all respond to changes. … [Read more...] about These are the top 10 insights from climate science in 2020
The virus is a zoonotic pathogen, meaning that it can go back and forth between species. When the virus ends up in a new host species, “that has new selection pressures, and that can basically change the course of evolution,” says Cock van Oosterhout, a professor of evolutionary genetics at the U.K.’s University of East Anglia. “Sometimes it can actually find a new way to then better infect the original host species, and then you get what are called spillback events.” … [Read more...] about Will your cat need a COVID-19 vaccine?
In a paper recently published the Journal of Cleaner Production, the researchers detail how they grew wood-like plant tissue from cells extracted from the leaves of a zinnia plant, without soil or sunlight. “The plant cells are similar to stem cells,” says Luis Fernando Velásquez-García, a principal scientist in MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratories and co-author of the paper. “They have the potential to be many things.” … [Read more...] about Lab-grown wood could let us grow furniture in a lab instead of in a forest